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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    Remember that creepy scene in The Thing when biologist Blair (Wilford Brimley) realizes the alien could take over all life on Earth at the cellular level? Well, keep that in mind, because a new scientific study suggests it's possible that scenario already happened, billions of years ago – and you could be the result.
     
    Thing_1982
     
    According to an article in I Fucking Love Science, a paper entitled Characterizing the Purple Earth was published by a team of Spanish astrophysicists looking for new methods of detecting life conditions on other earth-like planets.
     
    Alien_Bacteria
    Photo: Bessarro
     
    Their research describes the Archaean period – an era between 2.5 and 4 billion years ago – during which purple photosynthetic bacteria covered much of the Earth's surface. The scientists modeled possible arrangements of similar organisms, which could theoretically be viewed from space, especially in the infrared spectrum.
     
    If these creatures are common on other earth-like planets, then our instruments can be made to tune out the light waves reflected by the purple bacteria (which could be hard to detect due to heavy cloud cover, another sign of an earth-like world) and narrow the search to more complex lifeforms.
     

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    This is one of those super-expensive, super-amazing things that just kind of leaves you speechless.

      

    A handmade, 3D stained glass window of Pinhead from Hellraiser. Amazing, right? Designed by Nicole Cantu for the Guzu Gallery in Austin, Texas, it's big, it's bold, and it's expensive. I want it. Is it wrong that I want to replace a regular stained glass church window with this one, just to see what happens? I have seen some of those religious windows - Pinhead is way tame compared to a lot of them.

    Sadly the stained glass window is only available for local pickup. Maybe a road trip is in order?

    $8,000 from Guzu Gallery


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    Anyone who covers (or at least obsesses over) the current landscape of international horror cinema should be pleased to notice when a specific country speaks up and bangs out a fresh handful of genre films. Over the years we've seen eruptions like these from Spain, France, Ireland, Japan, and a dozen other nations that don't ordinarily produce a lot of genre films that make a big splash overseas -- and now we can add Israel to that list.

    The Israeli genre output began with the very amusing slasher throwback called Rabies, and those filmmakers have an excellent new movie called Big Bad Wolves that's coming out early next year. Plus there's the familiar but well-made Israeli zombie movie called Cannon Fodder and a deviously crafty new psychological thriller called Goldberg & Eisenberg, which feels like it was inspired by Coen brothers neo-noir, Woody Allen misfit rom-com, and maybe just a little dash of Fight Club (in that the two lead characters often feel like opposite sides of the same warped coin.)

    Written and directed by confident first-timer Oren Carmi, Goldberg & Eisenberg is a very simple story: Goldberg (Yitzhak Laor) is a lonely nerd who is desperate to land a girlfriend. Eisenberg (Yahav Gal) is an aggressive creep who keeps wedging himself into Goldberg's banal routine. When Goldberg sits at the park and waits for a blind date, there's Eisenberg. At the movies, in a restaurant, on the street (even after he finds a nice girl), Eisenberg is there to mock, cajole, and intimidate Goldberg -- for reasons unknown. Despite the fact that the antagonist has a pair of angry thugs on his side, Goldberg cannot even get the police to help him out.

    It's the gradual tightening of the narrative noose that makes Carmi's debut feature such an unexpected treat. The writing is dryly sharp and the actors are all quite strong, but it's the crisp and efficient directorial style that keeps Goldberg & Eisenberg from feeling like a short film that was clumsily stretched to feature length. Many of the exchanges between the title characters have a literate and amusing absurdity, but then the director follows those with something unexpectedly harsh or darkly surprising.

    Bolstered by two excellent lead performances (and some fine support from Ronny Dotan as Goldberg's potential girlfriend) and a multi-genre approach that prevents any of the individual components from feeling too familiar, this might not be the most shocking or violent of the recent Israeli genre exports, but it is evidence that those filmmakers are sampling all sorts of scary stories these days, and obviously that's a very good thing.


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    American Horror Story: Coven Episode 307
    “The Dead”
    Written By: Brad Falchuck
    Directed By: Bradley Buecker
    Original Airdate: 20 November 2013

    In This Episode...

    Zoe doesn’t really know what to do with Kyle. So she comes at him with a gun. Kyle wrests it away from her, but then points it at himself. Now Zoe pulls it away. The gun goes off, but no one is injured. Since she can’t bring herself to kill Kyle, Zoe decides to teach him how to communicate: when he is tired, he should say “bed;” when he is hungry, he should say “food.” I don’t know why he doesn’t just say “tired” or “hungry.” Madison comes in to tell her that Cordelia wants to see Zoe, so she “babysits” for Kyle. Cordelia “saw” that Fiona killed Madison and wants to warn Zoe that she will be after her next if she suspects that Zoe could be the next supreme. Since Zoe was able to summon - and get rid of - the Axeman, Cordelia seems to think Zoe could be a supreme contender. Zoe is scared - what do they do? Cordelia wants to kill Fiona. Zoe ponders this and returns to her bedroom - where she finds Kyle fucking Madison up against the wall.

    To distract herself, Zoe turns her attention to Spalding. When Spalding wakes from his nap he finds he is tied to his bed - and he can talk. Zoe found his tongue in the closet cubby, wet and alive, preserved by Myrtle Snow, who did not have the magical know-how to reattach it. Zoe did, and did it while Spalding was asleep. The tongue is still enchanted, and when questioned, he has no choice but to admit that it was Fiona who killed Madison, and he would defend her with every ounce of his being. That is all the confirmation that Zoe needs, and she stabs him in the chest. She showers to clean his blood off her, and is ambushed by Madison, who wants to talk about what she walked in on. Zoe doesn’t want to talk, and Madison doesn’t want to give up Kyle - being with him was the first time she was able to feel since she returned. Madison says they can share. She takes Zoe into the bedroom, where Kyle is sitting on the bed waiting for her. Then Madison sits next to him and reaches out her hand. Kyle mimics her. Zoe considers this, then takes both their hands, drops her towel, and climbs into bed with both of them.

    Fiona, meanwhile, is hooking up with the Axeman. Well, she is about to when she discovers clumps of her hair falling out. She tries to leave, but he lures her back with a description of playing music that is overtly sexual. The next morning, as Fiona tries to leave, he reveals that he has been watching her since she was a little girl. A flashback shows an older witch named Helen picking on younger witches. She is especially harsh to a young Fiona, and is crushed under a bookcase. That was the Axeman. (Fiona “always knew I didn’t do it.”) At first Axeman saw Fiona as the daughter he never had, but as she grew up, his love for her changed. He knew they were kindred souls. Fiona doesn’t buy his sob story and leaves, but she can’t stay away and picks him up later that night after his set.

    Queenie visits Marie, who is surprised it took the girl as long as it did to come visit her. Though Queenie doesn’t ask, Marie tells her that she can “join their family” and live with her. The cost of admission is Delphine Lalaurie. Marie suggests she ask Delphine about her past. Queenie does, and Delphine admits to the worst thing she has ever done. It seems that her husband was having an affair with one of her kitchen slaves, and she was out for two weeks while she birthed his baby. Delphine invites the girl, Sally, to be her handmaiden. Sally reports to Delphine’s bedroom that night to help her with her beauty routine. That is when Delphine shows her her favorite beauty routine: young human blood brushed over her face. In this case, it is very young blood. The blood of Sally’s newborn son. Sally killed herself the next day. Queenie is understandably horrified by this, but understands that Delphine has changed. To honor this, Queenie takes her to get her hair done. Of course, she takes her to Marie’s salon. She figures it out too late, and Delphine is locked in a cage. Queenie gets first cut, and Marie paints her face with Delphine’s blood.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    Is there anything better than seeing Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett in a scene together? I love Jessica Lange, but it feels like she is playing the same character season after season, which makes it somehow less special. 

    Delphine is becoming a conundrum to me. I almost want to believe that she is trying to change, but the kind of change we are talking about is not the kind that happens over the span of a few weeks. (Yes, she is a zillion years old, but you know what I mean.) She seemed to adjust to serving a black girl very well. Yes, Queenie saved her life, and that can be pretty profound, but she seems to actually have affection for Queenie. She shows remorse for things she did in her “former” life, but the kind of hell she perpetrated on her victims is not a casual kind of torture. You have to be a true psychopath to strangle someone with their own intestines. I almost feel like, with tonight’s episode, we are supposed to see Marie as the “bad guy” and Delphine as the “victim.”

    Prophecies?

    Delphine tries to talk Queenie into freeing her; Zoe is dead-set on killing Fiona; and Fiona (who is still with Axeman) is hellbent on living, just to spite her and Cordelia.


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    Photo by Brian David Braun
     
    Hailing from four different countries (Austria, Germany, Scotland, and the US ), electro-rock quintet Darkhaus was co-founded by multi-platinum artist Rupert Keplinger – also a member of industrial unit Eisbrecher – to unite a wide variety of electronic music styles on a musical journey they describe as “dark and emotional.” He's joined by Gary Meskil and Marshall Stephens of the legendary New York hardcore unit Pro-Pain, along with drummer Paul Keller and lead vocalist Kenny Hanlon, and the result is an intense but well-balanced fusion of '80s-style gothic rock and modern pop & metal. Their debut album My Only Shelter hits this week, and being a fan of both Eisbrecher and Pro-Pain (not to mention a bit curious as to how the band members' vastly different backgrounds might interact), I knew it would be worth a spin.
     
    Darkhaus_MOS
     
    At first pass, Darkhaus is not at all what I expected: placing heavy emphasis on solid rock melodies with accessible hooks, their sound fully frequently enters the spheres of European dance-pop and radio-friendly rock. While maintaining a level of tension and urgency akin to cyber-rock unit Army of the Universe, even industrial “dance metal” elements carried over from Keplinger's work in Eisbrecher, they find a way to lend a tragically romantic edge to the material, primarily through solid songwriting and Hanlon's dramatic vocals. As bizarre as the combo may seem at first, especially coming from a band which features key figures in extreme music, they pull off a tricky balance of genre opposites, and come out with a surprisingly unique and catchy sound. There's definitely more HIM than hardcore in My Only Shelter, but that's not to say they can't bring full-on metal menace when a song calls for it – as evidenced by tracks like “Hour of Need” and “Drive,” and a heavy EDM "Eisbrecher remix” of the track "Breaking the Silence."
     
     
    The mostly straightforward modern rock structures are often lifted into a more sublime realm by Hanlon's commanding lead vocal, which runs the spectrum from gothic gloom to soaring dark-pop anthems. While up-tempo cuts like "Break Down The Walls” benefit from some suitably manic riffs by Meskil and Stephens, the band's “dark and emotional” self-description fits the formula, and there's definitely a bleak undertone to songs like "Grace Divine" and "Breaking The Silence,” while “Angelina” is strongly reminiscent of gothic icons Sisters of Mercy. Their range does extend beyond the gloom, however, with some remarkably uplifting moments in the choruses of "Life Worth Living" and "Our Time." One of the strongest examples of the band's stylistic balancing act is the single “Ghost,” which moves easily between pop ballad and hard-hitting dark rock.
     
     
    Regardless of the seemingly polar-opposite histories behind the Darkhaus lineup, My Only Shelter is a consistently strong album, showcasing tight songwriting skills and a knack for seductive melodies. Hanlon's vocal delivery and the heavier elements brought by Meskil and Stephens help bring equal parts passion and power to a core of gothic dance-rock, resulting in a refreshing new take on a familiar genre.

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    Monster Sunfish

    Here on FEARnet, our goal is not to make sure that you never step foot in the water again.  We promise.  But when scary monster fish are caught in the sea, we are simply compelled to report about it.  It's our job.  And if you're scarred for life as a result, we deeply apologize.  Sincerely.

    Over in Jamaica, two local fishermen made a most bizarre-looking catch last Sunday night, hooking and reeling in a 900-pound behemoth that looked like nothing they had ever found on the end of their poles before. So massive and unusual looking was the fish that the men actually became convinced that it was not even of this world.  "At first I thought it was an alien, and I was somewhat frightened," said one of the men.

    The battle lasted nearly two hours before Desmond Phillips and Michael Grant were able to hoist the fish up into their boat, and haul the nearly one-ton beast to shore.  Curious and horrified onlookers gathered and echoed the same sentiments as the men, almost sure that the creature was some form of alien sea life.

    So what kind of fish is this?  It's called a Sunfish, and they're one of the biggest species of fish in the world, some of them weighing in at a whopping 5,000 pounds.  Sunfish are not typically found in Jamaica, which is why the men had never seen one before and were given the fright of their lives by this fella.

    Thankfully, Sunfish are said to be totally harmless to humans.  Yea.  Whatever helps you sleep at night...


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    Based out of the Czech Republic, the late Helena Zmatlikova was a well-known illustrator of children's books, her work printed on the covers of books published all over the world.  I'm not sure she'd be too happy about it, but another artist has just taken her innocent drawings and put a sinister spin on them, turning the art into covers for faux children's books named after popular Black/Death Metal album titles, from bands like Cannibal Corpse and Satyricon.  Hopefully Ms. Zmatlikova's got a good sense of humor, because the mash-up is a pretty awesome one!

    The mock-ups were created by a member of the metal band Umbrtka, who also writes for Czech Maxim, and you can see a collection of his handiwork below.  You've never been read a children's book like these ones before, of that I can be pretty sure of!

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books

    black metal children's books


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    blood splat cutting board

    Seeing red on your cutting board isn't typically a good thing.  It usually means that you've misfired with the knife, cutting a slice out of your finger rather than the intended onion or tomato.  I've done it many times, and all the boards in my house bare the stains to prove it.

    Thanks to the company Mustard, seeing a pool of blood beneath your veggies and blade is suddenly not such a bad thing.  In fact, it's a pretty awesome one.  The 'Red Splash Kitchen Chopping Board' is the perfect kitchen implement for horror fans like ourselves, turning our boring and ordinary food prep into a fun romp through a grisly crime scene - just the way we like it!

    The board features a removable blood drip hinge, which can be affixed to the board to keep it from moving around your countertop.  And, of course, it also helps sell the fact that the board isn't just red and fun shaped, but a truly authentic looking puddle of blood.

    Approximately $24 from MZube - matching spoon rest also available!


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    Below you'll find the first trailer and theatrical one-sheet poster for 'Repentance,' the new psychological thriller starring Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Mike Epps, Nicole Ari Parker & Sanaa Lathan from director Philippe Caland and writer Shintaro Shimosawa. 

    From Codeblack Films and the producers of 'Fruitvale Station.' Years after a drunken car crash that almost took his life, Thomas Carter (Anthony Mackie) has reinvented himself as a therapist/spiritual advisor who advocates a synthesis of world religions and positivity. He’s parlayed this vocation into a successful book release that one day draws the attention of Angel Sanchez (Forest Whitaker), a profoundly troubled man fixated on the “untimely” death of his mother. When Carter takes on Sanchez as a personal client in an effort to raise funds for his indebted brother Ben (Mike Epps), things quickly take a turn for the worse. Angel needs much more than a simple life coach.

    The movie will open in limited release February 28th, 2014!

     

     

     


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    Legend has it that in certain locations around the world, there exist entrances to the underworld, oftentimes described as Gates of Hell.  Italian master of gore Lucio Fulci explored this idea in his 'Gates of Hell trilogy' - comprised of City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery - but could there actually be some truth to these myths and legends?  Hold off on answering that question, until you see the horrors that await you over in Turkmenistan...

    Story goes that a team of Soviet scientists were looking for natural gas reserves in the Central Asian country in 1971, setting up a drilling platform that collapsed and left a 230-foot-wide crater in the middle of the desert.  Though no lives were lost in the accident, the hole in the ground released large quantities of methane gas into the air, and the scientists decided to prevent the release of further poisonous gases by setting fire to the crater.  The idea was that the flames would burn away the gases, and the scientists believed the fire would last only a couple days.

    That was over 40 years ago.  And the fire is still burning.

    Door to Hell

    Locals have dubbed the flaming hot crater the 'Door to Hell,' and hundreds of tourists visit the location every year.

    One of the so-called Gates of Hell?  Or just a bizarre natural phenomena?  I'll let you decide!


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    Even though they've recently concluded the first phase of their current world tour, the monstrous metal maniacs of GWAR aren't backing off anytime soon: the Scumdogs of the Universe have finally released the first music video from their latest album Battle Maximus (check out our review here). The performance clip accompanies the first single “Madness at the Core of Time."
     
    GWAR_Madness1
     
    "We made a video?” blurted GWAR's perpetually puzzled front-beast Oderus Urungus to the press. “I have been so busy touring, getting loaded and mouthing off I didn't even notice. But I am sure it's the best video ever, simply because GWAR is in it.”
     
    We'll let you decide if it's the band's best work, but “Madness” definitely captures the spirit of a GWAR show (although without the countless gallons of blood and other sticky fluids to wash off later... just saying), and it's cool to see and hear the team at the top of their game again.
     
    Press play and take a dive!
     

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    Edouard Martinet

    Painting a picture onto a canvas or sculpting a figure out of clay is one thing, but I've always been impressed by artists who are able to take random piles of junk and turn them into beautiful pieces of art.  'Found Object' art has been around since the early 1900s, and French artist Edouard Martinet has absolutely mastered the technique, turning flea market finds and scrap metal into life-like insect sculptures that you've gotta see to believe.

    Edouard Martinet

    Martinet recalls being introduced to insects by one of his school teachers at just ten years old, and over 40 years later insects have become the bread and butter of his unique art form.  Rather than soldering or welding together bits of metal to form his creations, Martinet instead meticulously screws together each individual element, spending at least a month on a single piece.  The resulting sculptures are absolutely breathtaking - bike lights becoming thoraxes, chain guards becoming elegant wings and a watch case becoming the eyes of a wasp.

    Edouard Martinet

    Martinet's insects will be on display at London's Sladmore Contemporary, from November 27th of this year through January of next year.  You can see all of his work over on his website, which includes descriptions of each part of each piece, and where they all came from!


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    A clothing brand called Sucker's Apparel has made a collection inspired by Twin Peaks. My favorite is the Laura Palmer dress, because it was inspired by the plastic tarp Laura was wrapped in after her death.

    You can see the similarities, right?

    The Twin Peaks collection also includes a capelet inspired by the bathroom walls; a dress inspired by Firewalk With Me; a dress inspired by the twin peaks themselves; and leggings inspired by the Log Lady and the lodge carpet.

    Prices for the line start at $69.99 at Sucker's Apparel


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    Over the past year we've spotted a few eerie items up for auction on eBay – from a demonically possessed “dibbuk box” (the inspiration for last year's film Possession) to Bram Stoker's signed manuscript of Dracula– and those are just some of the collectibles out there that seem to be daring you to buy them. While those pieces have a built-in aura of mystery (regardless of whether you believe in their haunted histories), now we'd like to show you a seemingly ordinary auction item with a terrifying paranormal backstory.
     
    Mirror1
    Photo © North News & Pictures Ltd
     
    Back in February, a pair of London roommates put this Victorian-style mirror up for auction after a series of terrifying events convinced them the antique was cursed. According to the UK Daily Mail, Joseph Birch and Sotiris Charalambous acquired the antique from their landlord, soon after which they were plagued by horrific nightmares, agonizing pains, objects traveling around the house, and sightings of “flickering shadows” and “glimpses of darkness” in the reflection... and one night one of the men woke to find red scratches all over his body.
     
    Mirror2
    Photo © North News & Pictures Ltd
     
    “I think someone could have been murdered in front of the mirror,” Charalambous said.
     
    The eBay listing (which you can still view here) carries a stern warning about the reported phenomena, and the mirror developed quite a reputation after it went up for auction, amassing 20,000 views by the time bidding closed. While the roommates said most inquiries came from people interested in the paranormal angle, no details about the buyer have been released.
     

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    New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!
     
    Kiss_Me_SatanKiss Me, Satan! No. 3
     
    This issue finds our fine fiend Barnabas Black squaring off against hordes of undead and a bad guy named The Bone Wrangler. After a spirited fight between the undead and Barnabas (and the witches he's protecting) the crew flees to a remote cabin where The Eye of Fates demands everyone's attention.
     
    Bag it or board it up? This is a fast-paced, grisly, nasty comic that's full of attitude and has a lot of ambition. I love the spirit of this comic. It's dabbling in divinity, demonics, magic and witchcraft, and everyone has and shoots lots of guns. By this third issue it's gone from a "comic to watch" to a "comic to buy every month."
     
    Afterlife_Archie_2Afterlife with Archie No. 2
     
    After contracting a zombie virus from his once-dead dog Hot Dog, Jughead creates waves of panic and chaos as he begins attacking his friends and classmates. As he sinks his teeth into Ethel the group finally realizes something very wrong is happening in Riverdale. This issue we see several story lines beginning to develop as the madness of the zombie outbreak rears its nasty head. Will Archie, Betty, Veronica and the gang make it out of this one unscathed? Doubtful.
     
    Bag it or board it up? This Archie comic isn't just filled with blood and guts (although there's plenty to go around). It also touches on subjects that the proper, normal comic would never touch on. Veronica talks to her dad as if he's a distant, unloving parent. Ginger tells Nancy that she wants them both to come out of the closet. There are real issues being touched upon in this comic that often get overlooked in the bubble gum world of Archie comics. For the first time in my life, I'm head-over-heels for Archie.
     
    NOTLD_AM_12Night of the Living Dead: Aftermath No. 12
     
    Set in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead world, the comic takes place in the 1970s. The zombie outbreak that first tormented Barbara and Ben in Pittsburgh has been well-contained. Or so everyone thinks. But after an outbreak in Vegas, survivors now scramble to find shelter, a cure, and fight to survive one another. This issue sees a nasty showdown at a military base.
     
    Bag it or board it up? I really like this comic. It doesn't care too much about what the films did for the franchise. It is its own story. The character design is stringy and weird. The action scenes are page-sprawling and monumental, and the undead are designed in grisly, gory fashion. Check it out, all you zombie fans. It's no Afterlife with Archie, but it'll do!
     
    BPRD_Hell_113B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth No. 113
     
    The saga of the end of the world continues in this issue of Hell on Earth. A quick recap: Hellboy's in Hell. Abe Sapien has his own spin-off series. Liz Sherman kind of broke the planet. Johann is one of the leaders of the B.P.R.D. Now, as the groups struggle to maintain some sort of control on the situation, we see different members dealing with catastrophes in different ways (some with fire, others with rocket launchers).
     
    Bag it or board it up? If you don't read Hell on Earth, don't start with this issue. It's not for the uninitiated. But this, I believe, will be a crucial part of the story for those following along. There's just too much valuable information and plot development to ignore this issue or call it a "transition" issue. Check it out if you're on the up-and-up with this series.

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    Earlier this week we pointed you to some groovy horror stickers by DIY monster maker Sabrina Parolin, and today we've found even more wicked-cool stickers and prints from another Canadian artist, Trevor Henderson.
     
    Feature_Creature_5
     
    Henderson's Etsy shop is packed with his “Feature Creature” designs, which include acrylic originals, prints and sticker sets depicting a rogue's gallery of movie monsters and other creepy creations. The artwork is rendered in a surreal, offbeat and colorful style that would look awesome framed on any horror fan's wall (or anywhere else you feel like sticking it).
     
    Feature_Creature_1Feature_Creature_2
     
    Many classic characters can be found here – including Stripe from Gremlins, the dog-thing from The Thing, Belial from Basket Case, the 1958 version of The Fly, Dr. Phibes, Cropsey from The Burning, the Blind Dead Templar zombies and Gunther from The Funhouse– plus more offbeat subjects like the demon cat from Hausu, a melting hobo from Street Trash, the invader from Xtro and a Malaysian “Penanggalan” vampire.
     
    Feature_Creature_3Feature_Creature_4
     
    In addition to Etsy, you can also browse more examples at Henderson's Tumblr gallery.

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    The Vampire Diaries Episode 508
    “Dead Man on Campus”
    Written By: Brian Young and Neil Reynolds
    Directed By: Rob Hardy
    Original Airdate: 21 November 2013

    In This Episode...

    It is day 14 of Jesse’s “treatments.” Wes gives him some blood via transfusion and he roars to life, breaking through his shackles (“physical strength is an unforeseen side effect”) and sucking the bag of blood dry. Then he turns on Wes.

    Bonnie is stoked to be alive again. She gets a kicky new ‘do and Caroline and Elena are throwing  a welcome to college / back to life party for her. Elena wants Damon to come and bring Stefan, but Stefan opts out - he is still having nightmarish panic attacks and wants to be alone. Caroline is interrupted from the party planning by a panicked call from Jesse. She arrives just in time to save his roommate from his fangs. Oh, and Jesse’s roommate is Aaron. Elena shows up with their “stash” and the girls give him a quick tutorial on being a vampire. He starts to settle into his new lifestyle.

    As the party gets underway, Damon is busy interrogating Wes. He is strapped down to the exam chair and Damon is going through his collection of dangerous diseases. Damon proposes a game: he injects Wes with one disease at a time. If Wes answers his questions correctly, he will give him a sip of his healing vampire blood. If he doesn’t, well, let the diseases ravage him. After lots of “playful” banter, Wes reveals that he has turned Jesse into a new kind of vampire: one that feeds on vampire blood. Monsters feeding on monsters. And once a vampire starts to feed on his own kind, he can’t stop. So it is really, really bad when Jesse and Caroline start making out and he bites her lip.

    Jesse leaves the party suddenly and seeks out Wes, still bound in the lab. Damon, having promised Elena to keep Wes alive (Aaron finally opened up and told her his parents died when he was sick, on a camping trip, during which they were “mauled by bears,” - though most likely vampires - and after bouncing around for a number of years, Wes became his legal guardian and is the closest thing to family he has), had just opened up a vein for him. When Jesse gets a sniff, he goes for it, But Damon catches him quickly. “I’m a lot older and a lot stronger,” Damon brags. “Actually, that’s not 100% accurate,” Wes informs him - before Jesse tackles Damon to the floor. The boys fight, and Jesse sinks his fangs into Damon’s neck. Elena appears and tries to talk Jesse down, but that clearly isn’t working so she stakes him - as Caroline comes around the corner. She holds Jesse as he dies, then snidely tells Elena that the old Elena would have given Jesse a chance. Damon is left to clean up the Wes mess. As he puts vials of disease back in the fridge, he sees a pack of Jesse’s blood, identified only by his code number. Damon asks about it; Wes wants to know why he cares. “Because I was 21051.” Wes is surprised: “You were an Augustine vampire?” “I haven’t heard that name in decades. I thought you shut down 60 years ago.” Despite his promise to Elena, Damon decides he is going to kill Wes. Wes has been working on his binds with a hidden scalpel, and he is free now. Damon rushes to him, but Wes is faster - to the emergency button. Atomized vervain pours from what in normal labs would be fire sprinklers, and Damon passes. “When working with vampires, you can never be too careful.” He wakes in a tiny dungeon-like prison cell... a cell he had been in before, marked with his initials.

    Back in Mystic Falls, Stefan is getting drunk at the Grill. Katherine is doing the same, but she has half a bottle of bourbon on him. (Matt agreed to keep serving her when she translated the possession video of him.)  Stefan doesn’t really want to talk when Katherine sits with him, but he eventually does. She diagnoses him with PTSD and offers to help, but Stefan is instantly wary and wants to know what she wants in return. Katherine is hurt - she knows a little something about PTSD and for once she was trying to be selfless. Stefan apologizes, but is interrupted by Nadia. Katherine begrudgingly introduce her as her daughter.

    Katherine, Nadia, and Stefan go into the back room, and Matt follows with the dagger he found from Gregor. Nadia summons Gregor, and Katherine begins the interrogation. Gregor is in town for Silas. Katherine pulls out the dagger, and Gregor admits he was there to kill Katherine - it is, apparently, what the Travelers want. This surprises Nadia, but not Katherine (Nadia’s paternal grandfather was a Traveler) and Katherine stabs Gregor/Matt with the dagger. The dagger is the only thing that will truly kill a Traveler; Matt will be fine.

    Afterwards, Stefan is fall-down drunk and having severe flashbacks. He goes outside for air, but can’t calm down. Katherine follows, tries to talk him down, but he freaks and starts choking her. She continues to try, forcing him to name the first person he ever killed... then the second... and the next one and the next one. She uses the same trick - it gives back control and forces the mind to focus. It works on Stefan, and he releases her. Nadia comes out, mad that mommy killed her boyfriend, and storms away. Back in the bar, Stefan settles up the tab and he sees a note, addressed to Nadia. It is from Katherine, a suicide note. Katherine, meanwhile, is up on the clock tower, trying to summon the courage to jump. After 500 years on the run, she can’t escape her past, and the future is catching up with her far too quickly. She jumps, and lands hard - but she isn’t dead. As is to be expected, Stefan swoops in and catches her at the last minute. But rather than a sappy “we’re buddies now” moment, Stefan reminds her that she is Katherine Pierce - so suck it up.

    Let’s finish up with Bonnie and Jeremy. Bonnie is happily making out with Jeremy on the quad when she sees a strange old woman is staring at her. She approaches, and the woman grabs Bonnie’s wrists and passes through her. Bonnie later sees the old lady at the party. Now that she has crossed over, she thanks Bonnie for being a “friendly face” and tells her it is peaceful on the other side. Jeremy interrupts and spirits her away to a hotel room so they can finally sleep together. They are getting into it when she freezes - she sees Jesse. He is scared and doesn’t want this, but he touches Bonnie and passes through her. She doubles over, worrying Jeremy. He is annoyed she didn’t tell him that she is the anchor now, but assures him it is fine, any consequence is worth being with him.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    The whole “Damon being part of the Augustine vampire whatever” felt a little tacked on, didn’t it? Like, “hmm, we are losing steam on this Augustine thing - but wait!” I think it is because in all the history that we know of Damon, being a lab rat never came up. Ever. Wasn’t even hinted at. I understand that the writers probably didn’t think of the Augustine vampires until this season, but it still felt sudden. And awkward. I’m sure it will be fine and all play out beautifully... but wow. Jarring.

    I am also waiting for some more background on the Travelers and how they hooked up with Nadia. What did Nadia do to make herself immortal? Was it the Travelers? Are the Travelers after Katherine because her baby-daddy was a traveler - are they looking for some kind of payback?

    Prophecies?

    Bad, bad shit is going to happen to Damon. It is creepy to see him so powerless.


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    Sleepy Hollow Episode 109
    “Sanctuary”
    Written By: Damian Kindler & Chitra Elizabeth Sampath
    Directed By: Liz Friedlander
    Original Airdate: 25 November 2013

    In This Episode...

    Abbie and Ichabod are asked to investigate the disappearance of Lena Gilbert, a billionaire philanthropist who was last seen at a colonial home in Sleepy Hollow. A note on Lena’s desk, scrawled with a number of names - including “Katrina C.” - is the reason the captain passed the case off to them. 

    Lena fought to buy this home, which once belonged to Lachlan Fredericks, an ancestor of hers (and, of course, someone who Ichabod was very friendly with). The property has a mysterious history: one day, everyone just vanished. Lachlan was also rumored to dabble in witchcraft. (You see where this is going.) Of course, when she walked into the house for the first time and began to explore, tree roots in a closet came to life and wrapped around her.

    Ichabod and Abbie arrive, and they are there mere minutes before all the doors, throughout the house, slam shut. They are trapped. It’s a full-on haunted house scenario. Abbie dismissed the idea that Ichabod’s Katrina was the one referenced on Lena’s notes - until Ichabod finds an old copy of Gulliver’s Travels, Katrina’s favorite book. Inside is the note he wrote her on the day he faced the Horseman. It was to be delivered in the case of his demise. So Katrina was here, at some point.

    They find Lena trapped in the closet, and Ichabod fights his way through the branches to free her. Curiously, the branches bleed when they are cut. Even more curiously, cutting the branches seem to wake a tree monster that had settled in the front yard. So that’s coming. 

    The trio keeps searching for a way out, but the house is like a maze. They burst through a wall and move via the passageways between the walls. Abbie gets separated from Ichabod and Lena, who are attacked by the tree monster. Ichabod kicks through a weak spot in a wall in order to get back to the house proper. Meanwhile, Abbie is seeing ghosts. She follows the ghost, clearly a maid from Ichabod’s time period. Suddenly she is transferred to the past, and sees this ghost-maid helping a woman give birth: Katrina. And she has a son. If you are like me, you probably assumed that Katrina was having a fling with Lachlan and this was his baby. The writers are not that cynical; the baby is Ichabod’s.

    Abbie breaks out of the walls and runs into Ichabod. He explains that the tree monster took her (again) but before they go rescue her, Abbie has to tell Ichabod about his son. He is startled by this and at first refuses to believe that Katrina wouldn’t tell him about the baby. According to what Abbie saw in her vision, something happened during the birth. Apparently Katrina, Lachlan, and their coven put a protective hex on the property. She had to keep the pregnancy a secret (from what exactly, I am not sure) and went to the estate to give birth. Once the kid was out, the protective spell was broken and the estate is under attack. The maid gets Katrina and the baby out (to safety, I assume) and the elements took over the house. Abbie and Ichabod are snapped back to attention by Lena’s screams. They find her in the hands of the tree demon, which Abbie shoots. The demon isn’t dead, but it does drop Lena. The ghost-maid appears again and shows Abbie the way out.

    With Lena, Ichabod, and Abbie finally out of the house, Ichabod grabs an axe from the car and goes back inside. He is determined to kill Moloch’s tree-demon for going after his child. The house is even more choked with tree branches and roots, but Ichabod finds the demon and kills it rather easily (a strike to the torso and a strike to the head). The tree bleeds excessively, and when he is done, he returns to Abbie outside, covered in blood and with a look of shock plastered on his face.

    A couple days later, Abbie finds Ichabod in the archives. She is there to invite him to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that Jenny is cooking; he is not feeling up to company. He does give her a package that Lena sent, containing all her notes about her family’s property. The maid that led Abbie to safety was Grace Dixon, and her family tree is in the box. She is a distant relative of Abbie’s. It seems that she and Ichabod were destined to find each other.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    I rather enjoyed this episode. This may be my favorite so far. I am a sucker for haunted house stories. The tree monster was reminiscent of Evil Dead. (My husband shuddered when the tree grabbed Lena. “Tree rape.”) Story-wise, this episode was lacking in a lot of direction. How did the protection hex break? What was Mon

    So Ichabod has a son. Which means Ichabod has ancestors. Which means I sense a very awkward family reunion in season two.

    Douchey Time Travel Thing to Say

    When Ichabod gives Abbie the package from Lena, he suggests that it is “perhaps another treasure from the depths of the Amazon.” (See, because he doesn’t know of Amazon.com; only amazon.jungle.)

    Prophecies?

    Ichabod is hellbent on finding out what happened to his son.


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    The fantastic thing about the VHS years is that the poster art was frequently hand drawn and frequently had very little or nothing to do with the actual film. If you picked a film based solely on the box cover, you had a pretty good chance of being disappointed or at least surprised. Distributors seemed to see a snazzy box cover as a good way to get some mileage out of a subpar film. That still goes on today, but it seems to happen less frequently and the artwork just isn’t the same. In spite of the trickery that duped more than a couple of horror fans in the late ‘70s through the early ‘90s, there are some terrific and legitimate films that have terribly misleading – albeit awesome – cover art. For that reason, we present to you ten more examples of awesomely misleading film artwork.

    If you haven’t read part one yet, check it out now!

    Dead Alive

    If you were to attempt to assume the basic plot points of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, simply by looking at the box, you wouldn’t know that it is one of the most delightfully bizarre films ever. You wouldn’t know about the baby in the blender, the lawnmower massacre, or the kickboxing priest. The cover art really doesn’t give the impression that Dead Alive is a zombie film, but this bloody splatter-fest is widely regarded as one of the best horror films of the nineties and one of the best non-Romero zombie films, ever. Dead Alive is also universally hailed as the bloodiest film of all time; so, in spite of artwork that does not necessarily foretell what is in store for the viewer, Dead Alive remains one of the greatest zombie films we’ve seen. 

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

    This 1986 sequel to Tobe Hooper’s grindhouse classic has only really gained appreciation in recent years. It seems like Hooper knew that he would never top the original, so he went in a different direction with the sequel. The box art for the film’s VHS release was a satirical take on the 80s teen classic The Breakfast Club, which matched TCM2’s over-the-top nature but didn’t give viewers a realistic idea of just how violent the film is. We think of it as a very underappreciated classic and the artwork as a great way to introduce fans to the lighter tone of TCM2 when compared to the original.

    Slaughter High

    Slaughter High is one instance of many where the cover artwork depicts a character that never even appears in the film. The box art shows a skeleton in a cap and gown that never appears in the film and actually has nothing to do with it. Slaughter High is actually about a student seeking revenge at his ten-year high school reunion. It is a decent slasher effort, but it ultimately fails to rise above the precedent set by revenge horror films like The House on Sorority Row.

    Bloody Birthday

    The VHS cover art for Bloody Birthday sports a birthday cake with a disembodied hand reaching out of it. While the artwork is not indicative of what happens in the film, this killer kid flick is an unsung classic and its misleading box art is part of its charm. The film’s shock value aims to make up for a lot of its shortcomings. Though it was shot on an ultra-low budget, the creators of Bloody Birthday didn’t let that stop the film from unabashedly featuring young kids wielding a variety of weapons and murdering anyone that got in their way – including nude teens in the throes of passion. It’s often been said that a film that is as politically incorrect as this would never get green lit today.

    Evil Dead II

    Evil Dead II is one of several horror films to prominently feature a skull on the box cover that has little or nothing to do with the film itself. The film is lighter in tone than the artwork might lead uninducted viewers to believe. The artwork does not really communicate the comedic antics that the film is bursting with. Evil Dead II is a significant tonal departure from the first, but you wouldn’t likely know it from looking at the VHS box. Regardless of the cover art, Evil Dead II stands as one of the greatest horror films of all time and we wouldn’t change a thing about it.

    Critters

    The cover art does feature one of the Crites that constitute the central focus of the feature, but the Crite on the cover looks like it’s the size of a yeti. The Crites do grow, but considering that they start out around the size of a gerbil, I was significantly taken aback upon watching Critters for the first time. I remember being surprised to find that the titular characters did not start out as even half the size of their human adversaries but the film offers plenty of family friendly scares and is well worth a look for anyone that hasn’t seen it.

    The Prey

    The box art for The Prey depicts a floating axe and what looks like a prom dress. The film follows a group of friends that are pursued by a psycho on a camping trip. The VHS art for The Prey makes the film look better than it actually is; the box doesn’t feature any depiction of the killer or any of the characters, which may be a result of neither being terribly interesting. Unfortunately, The Prey is a fairly forgettable entry in the slasher sub-genre. You would be better off checking out or revisiting Madman if you are in the mood for an overlooked film about a camping related massacre.

    The Burning

    The box art for The Burning makes the film seem like it’s part romance novel adapted for the screen and part horror film. The young couple locked in a passionate embrace on the box looks like they could have been ripped from the cover of a Harlequin Romance. The cover shied away from showcasing the film’s stunning special effects or its still up-and-coming young cast (which included Jason Alexander, Fisher Stephens, Holly Hunter, and more). In spite of box artwork that is less than representative of the actual content, The Burning is a staple of ‘80s slasher cinema and remains highly underrated outside of the community of genre fans.

    Creepshow

    I was fascinated as a young kid by the art for Creepshow. The cover reveals very little about what the film is actually about and I remember being a little surprised the first time I saw it. The cover art depicts ‘The Creep’ as a ticket taker at what is probably the most awesome movie theater, ever. The artwork is really well done and probably succeeded in pulling in some viewers that wound up renting it based solely on the eye-catching box art. Though the cover is potentially misleading, Creepshow is a masterpiece and the standard by which all anthology films to come after it will be compared to. 


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    Found footage warning! The new indie sci-fi/horror film known as Banshee Chapter has been classified as "found footage" by the official FEARnet film critic team (aka me) and is deemed worthy of this warning because apparently some viewers dislike "found footage" even if it's used in service of a nifty and novel genre conceit like the one found in Banshee Chapter. In other words, if you're cool with this type of presentation, you may like the movie. If you don't, well, then you probably won't. /warning

     
    It doesn't hurt that, right off the bat, Banshee Chapter is the sort of story that actually lends itself pretty well to the "faux documentary" style of storytelling. It's the story of a woman who is documenting the mysterious disappearance of an old friend who (very stupidly) decided to sample a dosage of super-secret government-created mind-control serum -- and then vanishes. That leaves Anna (Katia Winter) and a cameraman to dig through all the evidence, some of which is pretty creepy video footage, and that leads to a man who claims to know all about these super-secret government-created mind-control serums -- only he's a nutty Hunter S. Thompson-ish author/recluse who isn't all that thrilled about being interviewed.
     
    That's sort of what makes Banshee Chapter work, regardless of how you feel about the found footage stuff: it has a pretty nifty premise to offer, one that's sort of a slow-burn combination of Lovecraft, The X-Files and The Twilight Zone (a B+ episode if not an A+), and director Blair Erickson does a fine job of striking a firm balance between Anna's misadventures and the "archival" footage of the evil serum's influence on numerous unfortunate test subjects. The concepts on hand are compelling enough, there are enough jolts to keep Acts I and II afloat, and then there's just a nice batch of grim and atmospheric horror once the ending starts cooking.
     
    Bolstered by very strong work from Ms. Winter (if you don't like this character, the film is sorta sunk from the outset) and some truly enjoyable support from character actor extraordinaire Ted Levine (as the reclusive author turned reluctant sidekick on Anna's quest for the horrible truth), Banshee Chapter doesn't actually have anything to do with banshees (sorry, banshee fans) but as a smart, clever, and diverting little mash-up of numerous sci-fi and horror tropes, it's certainly worth a look.
     

    READ FEARnet's PARTNER REVIEWS OF BANSHEE CHAPTER


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