Geeky Halloween Wk6

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It’s less than a week until Halloween! That means decorations are as up as they are going to get, costumes are being bled on through last minute alterations, and jack-o-lanterns are already moldering on front stoops. You need a movie or a show you can throw on to keep the Halloween mood in check as you juggernaut your way to the 31st. Here are two of my favorite ambiance pics for carrying through the finish line.

Evil Dead: For Gore and Laughs

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The Evil Dead franchise is a cult classic turned modern phenomenon. Very few movies can creep me out and still get me to openly belly laugh like these can. Plus, they are damn quotable. If you know someone who is weary of jumping into its creepy-campy awesomeness, try starting them out with Army of Darkness “for laughs” and go from there.

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Now that Ash Vs Evil Dead on Starz is in its second season you should have plenty of material to chew through on your streaming device of choice. With the gift that is Bruce Campbell charging headlong against the Deadite scourge, you can bet that no surface will be left unbloodied. It’s the perfect complement to your Halloween gore-fest that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Penny Dreadful: a Soulful callback to Modern Classic Horror

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If you are in a more literary mood, why not put something on that honors the material that birthed our modern horror and sci-fi genres. Penney Dreadful takes its cues from just about every classic horror story you can think of, bathes them in a lustful gritty realism, and manages to artfully arrange them in the occult-obsessed era that gave birth to such tales.

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The writing and acting are superb, and the visuals are beautiful, subtle, and haunting. If you’re not already a fan of this series I implore you to watch it when you have time to pay attention. Like the horror stories it retells, this series takes you on a journey with one central, repeating question, “What makes a monster?”

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That does it for this short blog run. I hope you’ve enjoyed my primer of Halloween movie recommendations. If you would like to follow me as I generally geek out and occasionally make stuff of my own, you can find me on Twitter @AmberEBlackwell or on Facebook AE Blackwell. Happy Halloween everyone!

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Geeky Halloween Wk5

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It’s mid-October! Leaves have turned, sweaters have been pulled out, and even LA is seeing lows in the 60’s. It’s time to pay homage to a modern classic of the horror genre and the brilliant artist behind its nightmare inception.

This Week’s Theme: Alien

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This movie is more than iconic. It is one of the few horror movies with the distinctions of receiving multiple awards, praise from both critics and fans, and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” It’s science-fiction meets horror in a film that birthed a franchise. There is nothing more Geek than that.

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I personally like that these movies helped to create the Strong-Woman/Kick-Ass-Mother trope. Now, I know there has been a backlash against the Ripley/Newt relationship, but hear me out. I do agree that parenthood should not immediately assign one to the emotional labor of caring for all children, especially if you are a woman. However, there are still enough of us that react in a more protective way toward children after becoming a parent ourselves that it’s not out of the range of possibility. Example: I recently watched Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Kingkiller Chronicles, replay Bioshock on Twitch. He had played the game before, he knew the story, and yet when it came time to kill a child (a “little sister”) he had to Stop Playing for a few breaths. He hadn’t played the game since becoming a father and the portrayal of the scared child got to him!

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Screen capture of Patrick Rothfuss not found because Damn You Twitch!

Needless to say, he saved all of the little sisters instead of killing them, simultaneously becoming my hero. The point is, I love the vulnerability Ripley has toward Newt, and I adore the portrayal of parents becoming a bad-ass-murder-machine if you dare to mess with one of our own. It’s a much more flattering portrayal than the usual shtick of becoming boring and soulless after having kids. Also, Ripley and Newt are a quick and easy costume combo. Just saying.

Spotlight: H. R. Geiger

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If you haven’t at least leafed through his art books Necronomicon and Necronomicon II you are missing out. True to its namesake, the Necronomicon is full of art infused with a special blend of madness. It’s alien, sexual, disturbing, and deeply human.

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In a new-to-me twist, Geiger’s art is also partially responsible for the comicbook publisher Dark Horse being alive and well today. According to the publisher “Giger not only inspired every step of our work on Aliens over the years, but even contributed directly to our earliest success with Dark Horse’s partnership to release prints of his incredible art.” So if you’re not a fan of Giger’s art you can still thank him for helping to make your favorite Dark Horse comicbook possible.

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Geeky Halloween Wk4

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supernatural-screaming.gifWe are less than three weeks away from Halloween folks. That means that some of you are just tuning into this wondrous season and the rest of you are already out enjoying its bounty. For this convergence on celebrants, I would like to direct attention to one of my all-time favorite writer/directors.

This Weeks Theme: Guillermo del Toro

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If you are a geek and you don’t know who this man is, you should be ashamed… shame… Shame! Good, now that that’s over, join me on the fangirl train.

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Guillermo’s credits are as vast as they are diverse. In the nerd realm, he has been a part of blockbusters such as The Hobbit and Pacific Rim. He co-wrote The Strain novels and directed the TV pilot. He contributes to a web series called Trailers from Hell that reviews trailers for genre movies. He has worked with DC and major videogame producers. And just to circle back to movies, he directed such cult classics as Blade II and Hellboy!  This is what he had to say about his Hellboy experience:

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“People say, you know, “I like your Spanish movies more than I like your English-language movies because they are not as personal”, and I go “Fuck, you’re wrong!” Hellboy is as personal to me as Pan’s Labyrinth. They’re tonally different, and yes, of course you can like one more than the other – the other one may seem banal or whatever it is that you don’t like. But it really is part of the same movie. You make one movie.” —Guillermo del Toro, Twitch Film, January 15, 2013

He is a fanboy at heart. What makes him perfect for this season is he also loves all things frightening. Don’t believe me, check out his current exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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http://www.lacma.org/guillermo-del-toro#about-the-exhibition

The man loves monsters so much, that he brings them home with him. He also has so many monsters in his work and in his house that the current LACMA exhibition can’t even hold all of them! Which brings us to his latest film that goes bump in the night.

Crimson Peak

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This is not your jump scare chainsaw massacre; this is a beautifully rendered film with a decadent gothic soul. Every scrap of art direction in this movie is a masterpiece. Every shot looks like it should be framed and hung on your wall. Even the acting is superb, a treat not always seen in horror movies. To be frank, I didn’t understand all the Tom Hiddleston hype was all about until I saw this movie. I was just never really into Loki that way, but Thomas Sharp had me like…

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Go on…

Which brings me to the main reason I adore Crimson Peak. I love monsters that push the narrative but aren’t the real focus of the plot. I love stories that show us that what is truly terrifying is not the things that go bump in the night. In my opinion, that is the heart and the purpose of the horror genre, to scare you shitless by holding up a mirror to our inner selves. So go, watch this film, and then go do some contemplation in front of your own mirror.

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Geeky Halloween Wk3

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Though some are still dealing with temperatures that break triple digits, a lot of us are starting to break out the jackets for our morning commutes. To pay respect to the creeping colder climate, I’m going to steer away from the traditionally nerdy to recognize some classic Halloween tropes.

This week’s Theme: Zombies & Werewolves & Vamps, Oh my!

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Resident Evil and Underworld. These are movie franchises many geeks either love or love to hate. With the final installments of these two franchises coming out in January (Seriously? Zombies, vampires, and werewolves in January! *facepalm*) many have commented on the similarities of the movies. So while I will briefly add my voice to the choir, I will also add another film I think should be listed aside these campy-culty nerd classics.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil is the most successful movie franchise to be based on a video game ever. And for those of us who indulge a little too much in the “turn every inch of your property into a living hellscape for a month” part of the holiday, Resident Evil gave our zombies more to do than just pop out of a poorly lit grave on the front lawn.

 

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Because Dogs don’t get enough of a bad rap

 

Also, we now have a template to zombify anything and put it anywhere! Zombies in a high-tech security facility? Check! Zombies on the bitter shores of Alaska? Check! Zombies in a post-apocalyptic desert? Oh my f#cking god, they’re everywhere! Plus, if you can’t deck out your place as much as you’d like, you can always play it low key and just slap an Umbrella corporate sticker on your mom’s SUV. You will get creeped out looks for nothing more than a sticker, and that’s hilarious.

Underworld

Though not based on a video game, Underworld has the look and feel of a movie that is. Most battles unlock new information or areas of interest, while some montages chronical stalking up on health packs and upgrading to your epic level armor.

 

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Excuse me while I heal

 

Similar to Resident Evil, the first person shooter you follow in this movie is Kick-Ass heroine that eventually has a bone to pick with the establishment. Selene is sleek, deadly, and in a world of filled with Twilight and Vampire Diaries, she is the Vampire Heroine our Halloween deserves. Add some beautiful Goth hangouts and a werewolf fight club, you can’t help but pull some Halloween inspiration from these films… even if your inspiration prefers to scoff and claim that it could do things better.

 

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Go ahead, we’re all dying to see it.

 

 

Bonus Movie: Van Helsing

This stand-alone film features two cos-playable treats, a him and hers of costuming goodness. Though Hugh Jackman is basically a monster hunting Wolverine and Kate Beckinsale is a heavily accented Selene, there is no denying that their wardrobe is delectable.

 

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Behold the power of embroidery

 

If cosplaying isn’t your thing, this movie also boasts old school vampires that turn into giant bats, werewolves that still resemble wolves at the end of the transformation, and dark caves filled with undead vampire babies. Let me reiterate, Swarms of Grotesque Vampire Babies! If someone asks if you should add a “baby monsters busting out of gnarly egg sacks” section to your haunted house, the answer should always be yes. There is a reason the demon baby trope lives.

 

 

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This doesn’t get better in tiny form

 

Now that I’ve added my two bits to this topic, what movie do you think belongs in the Resident Evil/Underworld camp?

 

Geeky Halloween Wk2

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That’s right, it’s the last week of September and the first weekend of October. That means if you weren’t ready to get in the Halloween mood before, now is your time to shine. In honor of the new month, I am focusing on a paragon of the weird and endearingly creepy. Hold on to your shorts, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

This week’s theme: Tim Burton

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Let’s just start by saying that Tim Burton has been so prolific in his life that there is no way to cover his influence in this diminutive blog post. So, I will be doing two things. First, I am separating his work into two blog posts, one focused on Tim’s animation and the second on his live action films. Second, my main movie recommendation from each will be a work that I think deserves more credit than it’s received.

Animation:

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Tim Burton’s artistic style is distinct and immediately transports you to another world. Nowhere is that more obvious than in his animated works. The Nightmare Before Christmas continues to win over the hearts and minds of the geek-inclined and is a staple for every Halloween store and Hot Topic. And though no house should be without a shrine to the skeleton king, you can expand your library of the cute and off-putting with Corpse Bride, James and the Giant Peach, Frankenweenie (1984/2012), and Coraline. I suggest popping in that last one when you need to scare your kids into mistrusting people who promise to give them everything they want.

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For the bookish geek, you can always pick up The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. This Edward Gory-esq collection of poems is delightfully accented by Tim Burton’s own drawings. I have had people mistake my copy for a well-bound children’s book. Try not to cackle as you watch unwitting faces shift from expressions of “that’s cute” to “WTF!”

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Now that I have the bibliophile’s attention, it’s time to move to my movie suggestion.

Vincent

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For those who don’t know, Vincent is a stop-animation short made in 1982. It is the brief tale of a boy who is obsessed with Vincent Price, a consummate actor most famous for his multiple roles playing Edgar Allen Poe characters. This short film is a treasure! It’s written in verse, animated in black and white, references several works of Edgar Allen Poe, and voiced by Vincent Price himself! It is a beautiful homage to the macabre child in all of us.

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You can watch and re-watch Vincent on YouTube. Go. Do it now! You won’t regret it.