Saturday, October 31, 2015

Octoberfest Five: Christine's 5 Comfort Horror Favorites

Here we are folks, the end of the Octoberfest Five and the most wonderful day of the year!  Happy Halloween, first and foremost!

When it comes down to choosing a movie to watch on Halloween, I admittedly make too much of the situation.  Do I want to go with an old classic; something I'm quite familiar with?  Or chance something entirely new which may end up tarnishing my holiday and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth?  It's a conundrum, and one I am still not sure of the answer to as I write this. 

It's Halloween every day at a horror fanatic's house.  The amount of horror I watch in one year is astounding. It has seen me through good days and bad - and it's mostly the latter when I mention the words "Comfort Horror".  When I've had a rough day at work or have to deal with issues I seemingly can't face that come up in daily life, quite often I reach for a horror film that I am utterly comfortable with - a movie that I've seen countless times and can depend on to take me away from all my troubles for a few hours.  One that epitomizes my love of the genre.  Comfort horror doesn't necessarily have to be your favorite films, though for many I can only assume they would be.  And I'm not going to lie - any time I notice Jaws or Psycho on TV I simply have to turn it on, that's a given.  That said, I'm not going to use those two in my list because they are too obvious.

These comfort films can change over the years, and I'll be the first to admit it's entirely redundant to watch a film so many times you can repeat all the lines - but I'll bet if you ask any horror fan (or any movie fan, for that matter!), there are films that just seem to speak to you....and make everything ok...if only for a little while. 

Here are five of mine:

Friday the 13th  (1980) is at the top of my comfort horror list because I have a very special relationship with it.  It is probably the very first horror film I saw by myself.  Home, alone.  And I've loved it ever since.  Though the Friday series is no real friend of mine (I don't have much time for anything past Part 3, truth be told), the first film is one I will throw on at any given time to just take me back to when things were simpler. It's brainless, has silly jump scares and most of the acting leaves a lot to be desired.  But it's a nostalgic throwback that makes me feel better every single time I watch it!

So I bet a lot of people may be surprised by the inclusion of this ratty, lurid piece of celluloid.  As its subject matter surely wouldn't give anyone the warm fuzzies inside.  Rob Zombie's oversized music video-slash-movie is a real kickback to the grindhouse flicks of the 70's, with a string of obnoxious characters, loud music and loads of reprehensible violence.  Why do I like it so much? I've no idea.  But when I see it coming on late at night on a Friday after a crappy workweek, I'm so there.  Long live Dr. Satan!!

If I'd have made a list of comfort horror flicks ten years ago, I doubt Alien would have even made the cut.  I've always liked the film, but for some reason in the last five years I've grown utterly attached to the terrifying sci-fi opus.  I'm also one of those fans that love the first film so much more than Aliens.  SO much more.  Because I like my horror silent, stalking, and subtle.  The atmosphere in Alien is thick with palpable dread.  You can't get that from "action" horror.  Alien takes the concept of fear and just sticks it to you - full guns.  It is a contrast of lights and darks, from the bright lights of the dining area when Kane has his bloody fine gastric episode to the creepy darkness of the ventilation shafts where the creature hides.  It is purely and simply....perfect.  (In fact, I think I need to watch this right now....)

It seems funny for me to be listing another sci-fi horror film, as I am honestly and truly not the biggest sci-fi fan.  I enjoy it, but straight-out horror is a little more "me".  That said, I freaking love Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Partly because of my Donald Sutherland love, and the other part due to the freaky nature of the storyline.  The acting really is top-notch here, and they manage to make "alien plants" so much more believable. And let's face it, those pod people are just downright grotesque when they are mutating.  It seems to be on television a great deal lately on the premium movie stations, so it's comforting to know I can just turn it on and chillax without having to pay a great deal of attention.  Or I could always throw in the DVD!

Being from western Pennsylvania leads to a natural love of Romero's groundbreaking zombie film.  I live about 40 minutes from where is was filmed and have always gravitated towards it as comfort horror.  It's my favorite of the "dead" films and I adore the black and white grittiness of it.  I've watched it so many times I think even my hubby has it memorized.  Like Psycho and Jaws, I will always turn it on if I see it while surfing. I can sigh a sigh of relief when I see it on, as if an old friend has come over to make me feel better.  To me, it embodies the meaning of comfort horror.  It is probably the film I've watched the most on this list, and will no doubt keep that title for years to come.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Octoberfest Five: Marie's 5 "Comfort Horror" Favorites

~by Marie Robinson

One of my problems with horror is that it has a shelf-life. Meaning the more you watch a horror film, the less scary it gets and to me, loses its potency. I’ve watched The Shining so many times that I now hate it, so I try to avoid watching movies frequently so that this doesn’t happen.

Nostalgia is like a drug to me. I love the feeling I get when I am taken back to specific memories and times in my life. Movies can be great for this, so there are a few that I turn to when I want that warm and fuzzy feeling.

I may not bring out my “comfort horror” movies too often, but these are the ones I keep on hand for when I need them.

My first memory of watching Tales from the Crypt was in a funeral home, of all places. When my cousin and I were young we had to attend the funeral of some old relative we didn’t know. Rather than having us mingling with the mourners, they stuck us downstairs in what had to be a lounge or a break room or something, that had a big TV in it; and what, of all things, did my mother, or whoever (I can’t remember), put on the television? Well, you know
Not only is it not necessarily appropriate for children, but also we were also scared shitless sitting in the basement of a fucking mortuary! Of course, I fell in love that day, and made a friend for life in the ole Cryptkeeper.
I have every season of Tales and I watch it pretty frequently, preferably on dark, stormy nights, but also anytime I just want to relax. The Cryptkeeper’s shrill, dry cackle is my lullaby.

I feel like this one comes up a lot on our lists, but it’s just so damn good! Sorry, not sorry. I did have it last year on my “guilty pleasures” list, but I’ve gained a lot of confidence in that past year, and I’m not ashamed anymore! I want to shout it to the world! I LOVE JEEPERS CREEPERS!

I find myself coming back to this one pretty often; it’s just a great film to me! There are characters I love, and characters I HATE (but that’s a different list), and probably the scariest character of all time, Zelda!! Aaahhh!!!

Yes, another Stephen King, but he’s just so darn good! If it isn’t obvious to you I’m talking about the 1979 version. I put this movie on in the background sometimes when I need something suitably spooky. I love the imagery in this film; they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

 (ANY Nightmare on Elm Street film)
I’m being pretty general here, but Nightmare is my favorite horror franchise. The “quality” films in the series, in my opinion, are 1, 3, and 7 (New Nightmare), and the rest are cheesy 80’s schlock, but I love ‘em, and you don’t need any brainpower to watch them. They’re great for zoning out, and I genuinely enjoy them—okay, maybe not Freddy’s Revenge…

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Favorite Villains Of American Horror Story

by Marie Robinson

With the fifth season of American Horror Story under way, I’d like to revisit my five favorite villains from the previous seasons. What’s funny about AHS is that no character is truly good. Almost everyone in the show is a terrible person, but we love them because they are so deliciously evil. I started this out as a list of my favorite AHS characters, but I realized that all my “favorites” were the baddies… What can I say?

Oh yeah, and I would advise NOT reading this article if you aren’t familiar with the series, as there are SPOILERS!!!!

Dr. Oliver Thredson (Asylum)

Played by the amazing Zachary Quinto, Dr. Oliver Thredson is cool, collected, and dangerous. This renowned psychiatrist is brought in to Briarcliff to see if Kit Walker (Evan Peters), who is pinned as serial killer “Bloodyface”, is fit to see trial, or if he should be declared insane and forced to live out his days at the asylum.

The kind, understanding, and professional Dr. Thredson that Lana Winters (Sara Paulson) comes to know is all a carefully maintained façade, and poor Lana is forced to discover that he is the true Bloodyface. Thredson is a well-established murderer who has the most horrifying trait a serial killer can have: sanity. That means that there is no excuse for the depravity of this man. He’s a fucking psychiatrist, for god’s sake; he knows the ins and outs of people’s minds, and he sure as hell knows right from wrong. He is a cold-blooded killer with a passion for flesh.

I don’t know about you, but I did not see this one coming in the series. It wasn’t until Lana was in his house that I was like, “Oh, shit”. Part of this is great writing, but most of it is Quinto’s incredible performance. He is such a precise actor, and breathes life into his characters, even if they are people we don’t necessarily want alive. Not only was Quinto’s performance compelling, but Thredson’s character was complex, and is another character that can be filed away with fictional killers inspired by good ole Ed Gein. There’s a mix of other serial killers in there, as well, Ted Bundy being one that stuck out to me, but Bloodyface, and the man behind the moniker, will always stand out to me in a league of his own.

Marie Laveau (Coven)

Taking the name of a real historical figure, Marie Laveau (played by the badass and beautiful Angela Bassett) is the voodoo queen of New Orleans. While she is known to help people, it is either for her benefit, or for the price of loyalty. Beware to anyone who stands in her way or crosses her, for she has the power of black magic on her side.

Marie has many enemies, and most of her “friends” are dead or demonic. She has been alive for centuries, but at a terrible cost. She sold her soul to a Haitian God named Papa Legba, who keeps her in the realm of the living in return for soul of an innocent—usually an infant; she’s even offered up her own.

She and the tortuous Madam Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) have been at war ever since the latter killed Marie’s lover, Bastien. Ever since they have been exacting sinister revenge on one another, and not even death and dismemberment can end their historical feud.

I love a woman in power, and Marie Laveau is a queen, feared and respected. She is powerful, independent, lethal, and at times, even kind. I may not hold a grudge like Marie, but there are a few reasons to look up to her. And can we get Angela Bassett’s secret voodoo recipe to aging gracefully?

Constance Langdon (Murder House)

Tate gets enough love from troubled teens everywhere (just kidding I love him too), but in the question of nature vs. nurture; it’s a lose-lose with a mother like Constance (Jessica Lange). She is cold, unloving, and narcissistic enough to keep producing one fucked up child after the next. 

Her first was a poor deformed and mentally disabled creature named Beauregard (Sam Kinsey), who, despite being kind and friendly, was smothered to death because of his “repulsive” appearance. The second was Addie (Jamie Brewer), who graciously warns all away from the Murder House, but naturally to no avail. Constance is verbally abuse and manipulative to Addie, calling her a “pretty girl” when she’s good, and locking her in a room full of mirrors when she is bad. And then, of course, there’s Tate (Evan Peters); the murderous psychopath who stalked through the halls of his high school with a shotgun before committing suicide by force when confronted by a SWAT team.

Even though she probably fucked up all her kids with her perverse idea of parenting, she just can’t let ‘em go. That’s why she holds the “murder house” property across the street so dear. Well, it was once hers, but mainly why she covets it is because her children’s souls are trapped there, and so she may visit their ghosts whenever she gets that maternal itch.

Her final sin was seeking out and taking the only living twin born from her son’s rape of Vivien Harman (Connie Britton), which happens to be the freakin’ Antichrist. Of course.

Constance is that bitch you love to hate. She’s a snarky motherfucker who tells it like it is, and says what’s on everyone’s mind. She’s also a fucking train wreck that we just love to watch burn. The talents of Jessica Lange will sorely be missed in Season 5.

Sister Mary Eunice (Asylum)

Poor Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) started out as the sweetest, most innocent nun in all of Briarcliff. Until that time she got possessed by the devil. Now she is one bad mamma-jamma.

All joking aside, I think Lily Rabe’s transformation from one character to the next was seamless and totally convincing. Her character as the devil-inhabited nun quickly became one of my favorites. Especially because, even though it wasn’t her choice, she sort of got even with those who had abused and taken advantage of her as an innocent, like Sister Jude and Dr. Arden. It was hard to remember that there was a sweet little nun underneath that cool and confident demeanor; after all, Satan is the Master Deceiver, right? And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the devil is pretty cool.

Dandy Mott (Freak Show)

Freak Show has probably been my (and everyone else’s) least favorite season of AHS, but I do just LOVE the character of Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock). 

Wealthy and spoiled rotten, Dandy was raised by an overprotective but detached mother (Frances Conroy) who covers up her son’s homicidal habits. Dandy is possessive, manipulative, arrogant, and worst of all, charming. 

Dandy’s character fascinates me because I do think you can find a lot of complexity in him, but the main reason he’s on this list is I found him incredibly entertaining. I think he was the most exciting character in the season and Wittrock’s energy-driven performance was just a blast to watch. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him in other seasons.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Creepy Old-Timey Horror Tunes

There’s something about old timey tunes that just give you the creeps, am I right? Maybe it’s the hiss and click of a vinyl record, or the echoed recording voices. Sometimes it’s the lyrics—a sinister connotation sung in a mocking, cheerful voice. For a lot of us horror fans, it’s the association with have with horror movies that have incorporated these songs.

Whether they were intended to be or not, I think we can all agree that these five old songs are spooky as hell!

1. “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Boogeyman” by Henry Hall

Recorded in 1932 by Henry Hall, this song has been used at the end credits of Jeepers Creepers and the trailer for Sinister 2.
When you actually listen to the lyrics, it isn’t so scary as much as just a silly song for children, but when paired with visuals of monsters like Bughuul and the Creeper, it can be pretty damn effective.

2. “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes

This 1954 hit has been included in dozens of films and television shows, but horror fans may remember it from Halloween II and more recently in an episode of Bates Motel.
While I really do love this song, there’s something undeniably haunting about it, as if playing it on a lonely October night might summon some figure up to your bedside…

3. “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There” by Glenn Miller

The lyrics of this 1939 song were taken from a poem by Hughes Mearns called “Antigonish”. The poem was inspired by reported ghost sightings in a house in Nova Scotia.
While the song has yet to be featured in any horror films, the poem is recited in A Haunting in Connecticut. The tune is delightfully spooky and even a little catchy, you may find yourself humming it around your (hopefully not haunted) house at night.

4. “Jeepers Creepers” by Harry Warren

Although this song was originally intended to be romantic—as you can tell from the cheesy lyrics—it has gained a reputation for being creepy after playing a key part in the movie Jeepers Creepers. In the film, if you hear the song, “You run like hell!” because that means the Creeper is coming your way.
So, if you’re driving down a country lane and this song mysteriously comes on, check your mirror for an old black truck driving up behind you…

5. "O Willow-Waly" written by Georges Auric and Paul Dehn

Used generously in the 1961 gothic classic, The Innocents, this haunting tune is sung by Scottish singer Isla Cameron in the film but has been covered by vocalists and has been used in other movies, generally to evoke an eerie mood - which it does amazingly well.  The sadness that pours from the lyrics is palpable:

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow.
But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree.

Singing "Oh willow waly" by the tree that weeps with me.
Singing "Oh willow waly" till my lover returns to me.

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow.
But now alone I lie... Oh willow I die, oh willow I die.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Super-Annoying Horror Characters, Part 2

Here's where I get to tell you my picks for five of the most annoying characters in horror, in my opinion.  And don't forget to skip back a few days and read Marie's choices if you haven't already.  There are countless truly annoying characters that spill out from the horror vaults - it is exceedingly difficult to just pick 5!!  Back in 2010 I did a post about jack-asses in horror, which you can read HERE. (And yes, the number 1 most annoying person in horror is on that list: take a bow, Franklin Hardesty!!)  All of these idiots have similar tendencies as the annoying characters Marie and I have chosen, but I didn't want to repeat any of them, so I chose five new ones.  Not a difficult task!  So here goes:

Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) in House of 1000 Corpses
While much more bearable in The Devil's Rejects, in House of 1000 Corpses Baby was nearly intolerable.  I'm talking just excruciating.  That goddamned laugh!  Her acting was deplorable, but that laugh was painful.  I get that director Rob Zombie was trying to make her seem pretty much nuts (and that he has felt the need to cast his wife in all his films regardless of her talent), but she really needed to tone it down a bit.  Crazy is one thing, but ridiculous is another.  I really do love the movie, it's just soooo different, chock full of awesome visuals -but Sheri Moon and her lip-syncing prowess is the one part of it that makes me want to hurl. Thank heavens her role in The Devil's Rejects was a lot more chilling than irritating. But hot damn, Baby Firefly and her stupid laugh and her detestable baby talk just need to STFU!!

Isaac (John Franklin) in Children of the Corn
Wow.  I do realize that Issac was supposed to be one fry short of a happy meal, I really do.  But to listen to his voice drone on, barking out orders to his minions and warning them of disobeying He Who Walks Behind The Rows, there's no denying he needed strung up by his testicles (even though his voice made it sound like he already had been). Issac is one of those religious fanatics that people warn you about all your life. Someone who somehow obtained power and then brought everyone else on board, promising a perfect life and a sure shot at heaven.  But Issac may be just a little more nutty than all that - after all, this is someone who organized the ritualistic killing of all the adults in town under the orders of a monster in a corn field.  Now that, my crazy.  But we, as the audience, having to endure his endless whiny voice trying to sound terrifying and failing miserably - even crazier!!

Mrs.Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) in The Mist
Bible-thumpers in horror never fare well.  And they are almost always an unlikable bunch.  And Mrs. Carmody in The Mist is a prime example of why.  Always pushing her religion in everyone's face, telling everyone over and over how the end is near.  "It's Armageddon I tell you!" No one wants to hear that shit, least of all people who are scared to death and looking for some reassurance that everything will work out in the end...  But NO, she has to go on and on and start getting people in her corner, rallying them against our protagonist and his small group.  Eventually she gets her comeuppance, and it is a sweet sweet moment of release - because holy shit - she was an out of control, caustic battle-ax.

Heather (Heather Donague) in The Blair Witch Project
Is Heather the most miserable, controlling bitch in horror or what?  Maybe not, but she sure gets my vote.  The first time I saw BWP it was disturbing enough that I didn't notice quite how awful she was.  But a second viewing confirmed what was pretty obvious: Heather needed to die.  Making us sit through 80 minutes of her constant tirade of what to do when you're lost in the woods was downright painful.  People who think they know everything are annoying enough, but people who think they do but really have no clue are even worse.  If they would have killed her off at Coffin Rock I may have stood up in the theater and cheered, possibly fist-bumping anyone near me because I'm fairly certain the masses feel the same way I do. Kill the bitch, not the witch!

Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) in Fright Night
Holy mother of God do I hate this character.  It's part of the reason that I rarely watch Fright Night because I just want to scratch my eyes out and cut off my ears rather than put up with the shrill and grating voice of this blockhead.   I know he is on a lot of people's "favorite" lists, and so I ask - HOW do you folks put up with him? Just hearing him caterwaul "Oh, you're so cool, Brewster!" nearly made me lose my grip on my sanity.  Is it just the actor or is it the character? Is it both?  All I know is I couldn't wait for the son-of-a-bitch to die. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Octoberfest Five: Sunday Bloody Sunday






Saturday, October 24, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Super-Annoying Horror Characters, Part 1

 ~by Marie Robinson

We all know them; the characters in horror movies that you just want to shut the fuck up!! The ones who make the bad decisions, or decide to believe the protagonist a little too late, and whose every line induces an eye-roll.

These are the five characters in horror that annoy the crap outta me. Christine's are coming later in Part 2 - there's no way to limit us to five between the two of us!!

1. Marge Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street) 

Nightmare was one of the first horror films I’ve ever seen, and for as long as I can remember I’ve always hated Nancy’s mom. Sure, being a single parent who has to dwell on memories of murdering a twisted child killer is tough, but do you really have to be drunk 24/7? This bitch is pulling bottles out of the kitchen cabinets, the laundry closet, and basically out of thin air throughout the entire movie.
And when her only child is going through a hard time, like, a REALLY hard time—friends being murdered, etc.—what does she do? Bar up the windows and lock the doors from the inside, of course!
What really bugs me, though, are her weird, seizure-like mannerisms and her breathy voice. I guess she’s supposed to be acting drunk? If I knew someone who talked and acted like that all the time I’d go fuckin’ nuts. Sorry, but I was more than a little glad when she got sucked up into the door at the end of the movie. Good riddance.

2. Rachel Creed (Pet Semetery)

Two awesome parenting tips from Rachel Creed, “ignorance is bliss” and “lie to your children”. Whatever keeps ‘em happy, right? I’m convinced Louis would be ten times a better father if this asshole weren’t here to coach him. She makes him lie to their (also annoying) daughter about death and dying and heaven and lets her believe a bunch of stupid crap that is bound to screw her up later in life.
Also that time she let her terminally ill sister chokes and die and then LAUGHED about it? Yeah, I know she was scary as hell, but seriously?? That monologue where she starts screaming, “Zelda’s dead, Zelda’s dead!” I want to kill her!!
Bring her back from the dead is the worst decision you could make, Louis. Gross.

3. Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) 

Christine and I are big fans of True Blood, which is a fun and sexy show with a lot of great characters, except for the fucking MAIN character! I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know if Sookie was created to be a terrible person or was just shaped into one on the show, but goddam does she suck.
For some reason, EVERYONE wants to fuck her, even though she’s a pompous little brat who brings serious fucking drama wherever she goes. And she ends up screwing everyone anyway because one incredibly hot guy is just not enough for her.
And then there’s this whole plot detail where she is like the most magical and important person of all time, and it’s just like COME ON!! Stop making her so important and desirable because she’s so fucking annoying and I just want her killed off and Bill to be the star of the show!

4. Wendy Torrance (The Shining)

Wendy, darling. Light of my life. I’m not gonna kill ya, I’m just gonna bash yer fuckin’ brains in! You’re innocent and sweet, but god, are you stupid.

She probably should have left her husband when he got so mad he dislocated his son’s arm, but I guess she believes in second chances. If she knew what was going to happen to her later maybe she wouldn’t have.
Wendy seemed to have good instincts, and she did think about leaving the Overlook a couple a’ times, but decided to stick it out with psycho Jack and wait till ANOTHER person got murdered. You could have avoided this Wendy…

5. Kaycee (The Green Inferno)

 I’ll go ahead and do you a favor and tell you if you haven’t seen The Green Inferno, don’t. It’s terribly written and has awful acting, but the award for worst actress goes to Sky Ferreira, who plays monotone student Kaycee. Sky Ferreira is primarily a musician—I think?? But she sure as hell ain’t a thespian. Her whole performance is dry, dull, and—oh yeah—ANNOYING!!

Don’t get me wrong, her character sucks, too; some stoner slut whose completely politically incorrect. She was only in the movie for about ten minutes total, probably, but even that was too much.
I hope I never have to see her in another movie for as long as I live.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Pairs Of Favorite Horror Siblings

Sookie and Jason Stackhouse ~ True Blood

Vampire-magnet Sookie and her womanizing brother Jason were quite often at odds - with Jason trying to protect Sookie from all the supernatural love affairs she was falling into or Sookie sorting out all Jason's missteps, lame ideas, drunken binges, "V"-induced stupors, ridiculous choices in love interests, and poorly thought-out decisions.  Jason's head isn't always screwed on too tight, especially when his libido is involved! The two of them were nonetheless the heart of the show and despite all the differences of opinion and lifestyles, are devoted to their family and each other./ CH

Sally and Franklin Hardesty - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Seems to me Sally is a pretty decent sister, bringing her brother along on the little excursion to the town their grandparents lived in to check out claims that grave robbing was going on.  But it's obvious immediately that Franklin is probably one of the most annoying people on the planet.  Constantly whining and moaning makes for a hell of a bad road trip! But the worst of it comes when Sally and Franklin are waiting for their friends to return from the farmhouse (which of course will be a long-ass wait).  Franklin keeps on caterwauling about wanting to leave - even suggesting they take off without the rest of the group.  They continue arguing back and forth until Sally decides to head out and look for her boyfriend herself.  Naturally Franklin whimpers incessantly about being left alone so she drags him with her, wheelchair and all, into the darkness.  Spoiler alert: eventually we don't have to listen to Franklin anymore - and that my friends, is perhaps the best part of the movie! / CH

Lewis and Fuller Thomas - Joyride

It's not always easy to reconnect with a sibling you haven't seen in a while, let alone with one who has been in prison.  But Lewis (Paul Walker) is on a road trip home for the summer when he finds out from his mother that his delinquent brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) is being released from jail so he detours to pick him up.  The two actors play off each other exceptionally well and their brotherly banter continues even after they get on the wrong side of a long-distance truck driver.  Add Lewis's love interest Venna (Leelee Sobieski) into the mix and the two bros and their antics making a play for the girl lead to a highly enjoyable film - even more so when the murderous truck driver has intentions to kill the trio after they tease him with a CB radio.  Great thriller, great cast!  /CH

Damon and Stefan Salvatore - The Vampire Diaries

Some people would have thought of the Winchester brothers of Supernatural fame to highlight in a sibling post - but no one bickers better (and looks better doing it) than the Salvatore brothers, especially since they are both in love with the same girl (or they were until last year).  Their constant quarreling and bantering is actually pretty endearing, showing off the witty sarcasm of Damon Ian Somerhalder) in contrast to "voice of reason" Stefan (Paul Wesley).  Though these two sometimes act as though they can't stand the sight of each other, and a huge part of the show is the way these two actors bounce off each other, the Civil War-era brothers are actually very close (they've been vampires together for 150 years after all) and are a perfect team to fight the rapidly escalating evils of their hometown of Mystic Falls.  But the squabbling reaches epic heights when they both become enamored of the same young lady, Elena.  Her inevitable choice was bound to hurt one of them profoundly, but they have managed to keep their bond intact and this season are battling the demons (inner and real-life alike) without their lady-love.  It shall be intriguing to see how their dynamic changes - but let's hope they keep up the bickering, as it's certainly a big part of their charm! / CH

Trish and Darry Jenner - Jeepers Creepers

Trish and Darry are my two favorite horror siblings. It’s so refreshing to see a man and woman interacting platonically, which is exactly the reason Victor Salva made the characters siblings. He didn’t want there to be any romance distracting the audience from the building tension. Trish and Darry are just so fun to watch together, and we do have to thank their respective actors for that. Gina Phillips and Justin Long have great chemistry and give some much needed energy and personality to these dull, dime-a-dozen budget actors we see so often in horror films. These two make a great team and keep each other sane through a horrifying situation. They have a genuine bond which, I believe, grows throughout the course of the film. /MR

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Murder Ballads

A murder ballad is—well, a story told through song about killing someone. Believe it or not, it takes an effort to make a murder ballad effective, and these five are the most disturbing I’ve heard yet. These songs are best listened to on a dark night driving down a lonely road or sitting on the porch of a cabin in the woods.

1. “Where the Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is known for a catalogue of songs about murderers, rapists, thieves and all kinds of baddies, but perhaps his most haunting is “Where the Wild Roses Grow”. This ballad is told not only from the murderer’s point of view, but the victim, as well. Kylie Minogue duets in this song from 1995, which happens to come off an album titled Murder Ballads.

2. “Country Death Song” by the Violent Femmes

The Violent Femmes are an offbeat rock band from Milwaukee with an unshakable dark side to their lyrics. To the beat of a bass and a banjo, “Country Death Song” is the first-hand story from a man who has committed one of the most evil crimes of all—filicide. So, gather ‘round boys for a tale of a man who took a short trip to Hell.

3. “In the Pines” by Various Artists

“In the Pines”, also known as “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and “Black Girl” is an Appalachian folk song dating back to the late 1800’s. It’s been sung by many different artists, but my favorite versions are those of Lead Belly, the Kossoy Sisters, and Nirvana. If you’re going for a creepy, backwoodsy kind of feel, listen to the two former, but if you want to hear it played with raw pain and emotion, listen to the Nirvana version, recorded on their Unplugged album in 1994.

4. “Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey

Just as women are outnumbered by men in most things, it is rare to hear a murder ballad sung from the point of view of a female. “Down by the Water” is a hard, unrelenting song that tells the story of a mother who drowned her daughter. It pays homage to the traditional folk song “Salty Dog Blues” in the whispered refrain, which Harvey specifically pointed out in an article in Spin magazine in reference to a claim that some critics believed her lyrics to be autobiographical.

5. “The Shankill Butchers” by the Decemberists

Though no murder actually occurs in this song, it is certainly promised to all the little boys and girls who don’t “mind their mother’s words”. This creepy, haunting lullaby is sung as a warning to children to behave, or the Shankill Butchers will come and kill them.
The song is chilling enough on its own, but the real story behind the Shankill Butchers is sure to keep you up at night. A Protestant gang in Belfast, they savagely killed over 20 Irish Catholic civilians in the 1970’s and 80’s. Reading up on the history puts an extra layer of horror on this already spooky song and is enough to keep adults and children alike home before the streetlights go out.