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Final Curtains – The Rant For Better Endings

Doom Since we’ve been on the subject…..

When was the law written that states every horror movie has to end in either one last jump, a dream sequence, or a final scene where the remaining characters are placed back into certain doom after the audience was falsely convinced they were safe? This idea was cool, about one hundred and twenty years ago when Ambrose Bierce wrote “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” or maybe once more in the film Brazil (1985) but since then this concept has become formulaic to the point that watching the last five minutes of a horror movie is worse than doing algebra. To paraphrase Bruce Campbell from My Name is Bruce, “We just saw the monster die 65 seconds ago and now it’s back how gullible do we expect the audience to be…”

Let’s ponder… How did we get into this mess? Is it Romero’s fault for not letting Ben survive the Night of the Living Dead only to succumb to the morning of the drunken red-necks. Well, maybe, but at least there was irony to that. Maybe the fault should be placed on the Friday the 13th saga. It’s first three chapters literary duplicate their last jump, nightmare sequence, in the exact same fashion with the only variable being which character jumps out in slow-mo. Unforgivable. Then we have the Alien franchise; their surprise-an-alien-is-on-the-escape-ship has been pretty constant. Whoever is to blame, let’s all make an effort to find something better to do with last the five minutes of our films.

If we can’t, then we inspire hack horror writers like Rob Zombie, Mr. original himself, who had to end his “House of a Thousand Clichés” with a variation on this theory, but he’s not alone. Carrie, Carrie 2: The Rage, Dawn of the Dead(2004), Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Phantasm, The Descent (both endings), Night of the Creeps, and pretty much every Final Destination movie. While the list can go on forever, I’ll stop there and be satisfied with the fact that it shouldn’t be done anymore, because now {News Flash} everyone single person in the theater is waiting for it.

Another over used horror movie formula that grinds my gears, is having one of the victims assume the role of the killer. It’s bad enough that both Friday the 13th and Halloween pulled this throughout their run, but now the SAW franchise runs on this principal. It’s just embarrassing.

And it’s not like there aren’t better ways to end a horror film. Let’s look at the classics. Dawn of the Dead (1978), you’ve got to the choppa’ and departed for the unknown. Jaws—you swim to shore with Richard Dreyfuss. Texas Chainsaw 74’ you’re safe in the bed of a pick up. But if you have to have a all out sour ending then just take a lesson from the 1973 Wickerman and be forth right about. It’s also okay to have a happy ending with foreboding.  Anthony Perkins eerie smirk at the end of Psycho (1960) has been getting the job done for nearly half a century. The empty lawn at the end of Halloween(1978) was also creepy without being annoying.

No genre takes more guff for being trash (well except for porno) than horror—and  in some cases horror takes guff for being porno-but that’s a different rant—the last thing horror writers need to do is be formulaic, unoriginal, and make our beloved genre look cheap. Let’s trying thinking a little bit before we pen that last story board. Please!

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We’ve Been Slacking: A Letter To You

friday_the_13th_movie_mainDear Faithful Reader,

First of all, happy Friday the 13th – I hope it finds you sitting comfortably on your couch watching some Jason Voorhees carnage.  Chris and I have been equally inundated with our jobs, hence the lack of posts.  I just wanted to get something up here to assure you that we’re not throwing in the towel.  We have some great stuff planned for the next few weeks and I look forward to having more free time to write again.  Coming soon – a new Trash review (hopefully this time I won’t be called out by the film’s director) and I’m working on a “state of the genre” type piece.  Keep the faith.



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My Featured Post On Zombos’ Closet Of Horror

Picture 1John, over at Zombos’ Closet of Horror was nice enough to invite me to take part in his “Meet the Horror Bloggers” series this week.  The series introduces readers to the great community of horror bloggers out there and I’m fortunate enough to be highlighted.  Check out my post to read about how irrational fear can turn into passion for horror.  Big thanks to John.

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Changes around here

As you may have already noticed, I have moved this site to a proper domain name –, stretching my abilities with MySQL databases, CSS, and site architecture.  It was a scary process but alas, I have prevailed.  For those of you not well-versed in your horror classics, the title is taken from Dawn of the Dead‘s catch line, “When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

Additionally, fellow horror enthusiast Chris Oatis has come on board as an author (check out his first post below).  As a long time genre fan with a Master’s degree in writing, Chris will help bring this site to the next level.  We look forward to becoming one of your favorite horror movie sites.  Read on.

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Something that made me laugh

Found this in someone’s signature at Bloody-Disgusting.  I guess I’m a sucker for these…


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Alternate takes on your favorite cartoon characters

Off topic, but cool nonetheless.  I was browsing Gorillamask the other day and found this link to a Spanish forum where members were posting alternate renderings of cartoon characters.  Think Charlie Brown done as manga or the South Park kids done realistically.  Here are a few of my favorites.  I encourage you to check out the respective artists’ websites as well.  You can see the whole thread here.





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My attendance at Fangoria’s convention solidifies my dorkitude

Just returned from a week-long vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was awesome but that’s off topic.  Before leaving for my trip, I attended Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors for one day in New York City.  This was my first fan convention and I’m not going to lie – I’ve always shied away from them because the idea of going to one makes me self conscious.  Would my friends think I’m a weirdo?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Would the convention hall be loaded with crazy horror fans?  Yes.  But wait – I’m one of them.  I don’t dress up like Leatherface or Freddy in my spare time, but I’m just as crazy as anyone else who attends these conventions.  So, with (most of) my self-consciousness in check, I went for it.

I was initially drawn by the guest list – Benicio Del Toro, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Tom Savini, Doug Bradley and dozens of other genre icons.  Held at the Javits Center, I envisioned a sprawling utopia of vendors selling DVD’s and merchandise, displays of movie props, stars signing autographs, presentations.  What I found was a bit more humbling.  The event was held in one of the Javits Center’s smaller rooms, featuring no more than 15 vendors selling DVD’s at outrageous prices.  A few dozen fans watched a panel of speakers in a separate auditorium.  Needless to say, I was underwhelmed from the get go but I had already purchased my Tobe Hooper and Doug Bradley autograph tickets so I was determined to give this thing a shot.

Walking around, there were tons of crazy horror fans including a guy dressed up as Leatherface (butcher apron and mask included), a Jason impersonator, women clad in Renaissance dresses, men wearing solid black contact lenses, and heavily tattooed/pierced body art advocates.  And then this woman.  I have no comment.


Amidst the overpriced DVD vendors were some makeup and prop artists demonstrating their craft by painting extremely realistic wounds, bruises and sores on fans.  I stood and watched these guys for quite a while.  It was interesting to see what goes in to creating some of the effects that make horror movies come to life.  Check out those heads!


Unfortunately, both Argento and Del Toro were not scheduled to appear that day, but I was happy to meet Tobe Hooper, Doug Bradley, and Tom Savini.  Hooper apparently has a habit of canceling his appearances at these conventions according to Jim, a horror convention fanatic who stood next to me in line.  Jim told me that he has traveled as far as Los Angeles to attend these events.  He’s met George Romero, Dario Argento, Robert Englund, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, you name it -  but never Tobe Hooper.  Apparently I got lucky on my first trip to a horror convention.

Despite his reputation for cancellations, Hooper was an extremely pleasant and friendly guy who seemed to genuinely care about the fans he met.  He spent several minutes talking to some fans, made an effort to find the perfect place to sign each item, and graciously posed for photos.  It’s nice to see a celebrity without an ego.  Though he was happy to talk, of course I got within two feet of him and realized I had nothing to say.  What am I going to say to the creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?  “I love your movies” is what came out.  How’s that for originality?  Way to hit him with something unique, Matt.  Here we are together, cinematic genius and mute moron:


Tom Savini was equally as friendly.  Doug Bradley was pleasant enough but seemed more focused on getting out of there than conversing with Hellraiser fans.  Betsy Palmer, who played Mrs. Vorhees in the original Friday the 13th looks nearly unchanged in the last 29 years.


Oh yeah. I almost forgot that Gwar was there, clad in ridiculous outfits as usual.  Check out the lead singer – thong and huge plastic genitals included.


I wouldn’t say the day was a bust but it wasn’t amazing either.  Apparently L.A.’s version of this event is much larger and more fun but unlike Jim, I will not be traveling 3,000 miles to attend.  Attending the event gave me some insight about the convention circuit and allowed me to meet some fellow horror fanatics.  It also encouraged me to not take myself too seriously.  I’m a nerd and a fanatic at heart.  And that extends beyond horror movies.  I’ve always been obsessive about video games (especially Final Fantasy), books, movies, and collectibles.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Maybe I should give myself a break sometimes.

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First truly disturbing scene I’ve watched in years

I just took a spin through Netflix’s “watch instantly” horror selections, looking for something particularly awful in the hopes of starting some kind of new feature on here.  What I found was the first horror movie that I’ve ever had to stop watching before hitting the 2-minute mark because it was disturbing me too much.  This movie is Uwe Boll’s Seed, the opening of which consists of real footage of animals being tortured for experimental purposes.  I made it up until the point where a skinned, dying dog is shown in its death throes.  At this point, my heart began to skip beats and I got that strange sinking feeling in my chest.

I had never heard of this movie and just happened upon it unfortunately.  Here is a short synopsis of the plot:

After a seemingly undead man is bound and buried alive, he digs himself back to the surface and seeks bloody vengeance on those who caused him his suffering

Boll (who is also responsible for the dreadful House of the Dead film adaptation) said he intended to “make a horror movie that was no fun” and if the first two minutes are any indication of what is to come, then he has succeeded admirably in said endeavor.  I may go back and finish the whole thing in order to comment better on Boll’s directorial ambitions/motivations.   But if anything, watching a few minutes clearly illustrated a point to me – there is a stunning level of detachment that horror fans are able to bring with them to a work of fiction.  I am able to sit through the most brutal scenes of violence, like those in Martyrs (review pending) and Hostel without much of a human reaction.  Rarely does a horror director or writer succeed in making me care enough about a character to really feel for them, hence the detachment.

But when that layer of detachment is taken away – that is, we are not able to bring it with us because the word “fiction” isn’t used – we interpret information in a much more visceral manner.  The scenes of animal torture affected me deeply mainly because the violence is being inflicted primarily to dogs, rather than farm animals.  You could (and may rightly do so) argue with me that killing a dog is no different than killing a cow, but I disagree because farm animal deaths provide a service to humanity.  I’m not going to sit here and begin a musing on the morality of meat consumption because that wasn’t my aim.  My real point and the basis for writing this, was to share my introspection about being emotionally removed while watching horror movies.  If anything, watching scenes like these helps us reaffirm our own humanity.  If you feel something while watching this, that is.  If you don’t, God help you.

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I’ve been remiss in my posting duties…

Been a while since I’ve updated (almost two weeks) and I’m certainly due for a post.  Coming soon – a quasi-review of “Martyrs” which, if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading and watch it.  I say quasi-review because the film has been out for a while now and has been hotly debated on forums/review sites.  I need to watch it again and really gather my thoughts before posting.  It definitely deserves a second viewing.

But instead of something substantial right now, all I can give you right now is this look at my queue of movies.  Which to watch next?





Choices, choices….

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Erik Estrada and Stephen King’s It all in one post!

I’m away on business right now and I have had literally no time to write anything here but I have a small break in the action right now before I have to escort Erik Estrada to a tent at the golf course I’m on.  Yes, that’s right, I’m escorting Ponch from CHiPs.  You might not know who that is, since everyone I know is about my age but he’s that dashingly good looking guy from 70′s television.  Check out his heartthrob photo:


But the real reason I started this post was because my friend down here just told me that Stephen King’s “It” is being remade.  I don’t know how I missed that one, seeing as I tend to be obsessed with bitching about remakes these days.  At first, I had an initial feeling of excitement since I’ve always felt the 1990 TV miniseries was lacking in some areas and I would be interested in seeing it done justice with a full length movie.

Apparently, people have been kicking this idea around for at least five years (as a lot of movies are) and Variety just announced that Warner Brothers has signed Dave Kajganich to write the screenplay.   I suppose this is both good and bad news.  Kajganich has an almost non-existant track record- his most notable effort being The Invasion (2007) starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.  I haven’t seen it but it didn’t look very good.  However, the fact that It is being made into a feature film is good news because the idea for SciFi Channel to remake it as a four-hour miniseries (didn’t they do that already?) was on the table for years.  Now, if you know anything about cable television, you’ll already know that SciFi is responsible for some of the best (read: amazingly awful) self-produced movies and television shows in history.  Please watch this clip in its entirety- it’s really worth it.

So, we should all be terribly grateful that disaster has possibly been averted and It still has a chance to shine.  Like I said before, a lot of the original miniseries didn’t do it for me.  Sure, if you’ve got a fear of clowns with razor-sharp teeth, the 1990 version can be creepy and Tim Curry does an excellent job as Pennywise.  However, the limitations of television certainly prevent It from being as graphic and scary as it could have been.  That, and the ending was so anti-climactic.  A spider thing?  Really?  I’m holding out hope that this remake will earn a solid R rating.  If you’ve read Stephen King’s novel, you’ll know that the Pennywise needs to be portrayed as the embodiment of evil for the film to be effective and that involves graphic violence.  Still, I don’t understand how the filmmakers plan to cram 1,000+ pages of novel into a two or even three hour movie.  The original miniseries was six hours and it still failed to capture much of the back story and mythos of the novel.


More details to come I’m sure.  After I finish becoming buddies with Ponch, that is.

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