Articles on this Page
- 03/12/14--15:00: _Gift Guide: 'A Nigh...
- 03/12/14--17:00: _Exclusive: Elijah W...
- 03/13/14--11:30: _'Super Duper Alice ...
- 03/13/14--12:00: _Female Artist Has L...
- 03/13/14--12:30: _This Week in The Va...
- 03/13/14--13:00: _Los Angeles Hyaena ...
- 03/13/14--13:30: _FEARNET Movie Revie...
- 03/13/14--14:00: _Pharmacist Develops...
- 03/13/14--14:30: _Interview: London B...
- 03/13/14--16:00: _Rare Skin Condition...
- 03/13/14--16:30: _Mike Hostench Talks...
- 03/13/14--17:00: _Gift Guide: 'Hellra...
- 03/14/14--13:30: _FEARNET Movie Revie...
- 03/14/14--14:00: _Behold the Infernal...
- 03/14/14--14:30: _Bagged and Boarded ...
- 03/14/14--14:30: _Grindhouse Releasin...
- 03/14/14--15:00: _Gift Guide: Bleedin...
- 03/14/14--15:30: _FEARNET Movie Revie...
- 03/14/14--16:00: _This Artist Creates...
- 03/14/14--16:30: _We've Seen the New ...
- 03/12/14--15:00: Gift Guide: 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' Toaster
- 03/13/14--11:30: 'Super Duper Alice Cooper' Documentary Coming to Theaters Soon
- 03/13/14--12:00: Female Artist Has Lived with Mannequin Family for 14 Years
- 03/13/14--13:00: Los Angeles Hyaena Gallery Pays Tribute To Wes Craven!
- 03/13/14--13:30: FEARNET Movie Review: 'Late Phases' [SXSW 2014]
- 03/13/14--14:00: Pharmacist Develops Cure for Under-the-Bed Monsters
- 03/13/14--14:30: Interview: London Based Artist Dan Mumford
- 03/13/14--16:00: Rare Skin Condition Turns UK Woman Into 'Human Etch-a-Sketch'
- 03/13/14--16:30: Mike Hostench Talks 'Asmodexia'; New Trailer & Still
- 03/13/14--17:00: Gift Guide: 'Hellraiser' Lament Configuration Lamp
- 03/14/14--13:30: FEARNET Movie Review: 'Among the Living' [SXSW 2014]
- 03/14/14--14:00: Behold the Infernal Creations of Sculptor Martin Rangelov
- 03/14/14--15:00: Gift Guide: Bleeding Liquid Lamp
- 03/14/14--15:30: FEARNET Movie Review: 'Housebound' [SXSW 2014]
- 03/14/14--16:00: This Artist Creates Surreal, Ghostlike Images from Mutant Frogs
- 03/14/14--16:30: We've Seen the New TV Series 'Salem' - What You Need to Know
Gift giving is already a challenge and the horror fan is often even more difficult to shop for than the other people on your list. As fans of the macabre, our tastes in collectibles and such tend to be different from others. For that reason, our friends and family are posed with a quagmire when trying to shop for us. To make things easier on everyone, we are bringing you a new installment of gift guide with another great gift idea.
This A Nightmare on Elm Street toaster will make a perfect present for the horror fan that has it all. This bread-warming device has the A Nightmare on Elm Street logo on the exterior but the real magic behind the contraption is that it imprints the likeness of Fred Krueger and his murder glove on your toast. Other noteworthy specifications include: illuminated function buttons, and a glossy black exterior.
$54.99 at Big Bad Toy Store
In Grand Piano, Elijah Wood stars as a brilliant classical pianist who is posed to make his grand return to the stage after stage fright kept him out of the spotlight for years. When he sits down to play, he finds death threats written in his sheet music, and it becomes painfully clear that this is no joke.
We spoke with Elijah and the film's director, Eugenio Mira, about working in real time, playing (or not playing) to an audience, and how the film is an ode to Hitchcock and giallo.
If you thought Maniac's Frank Zito was the only one who spends the majority of his time with mannequins, think again...
As we spotted on Oddity Central, artist Suzanne Heintz has spent the last 14 years of her life coming home to a mannequin husband and daughter, and the explanation for the incredibly strange lifestyle is not the chemical imbalance you might be expecting. No, Suzanne isn't crazy, she's just an artist who's expressing herself in a most unique fashion, out to confront societal pressures on women and prove that personal happiness comes from the inside, not from others.
Okay, so the whole thing is totally creepy, but hear her out, before jumping to conclusions.
Heintz says that the inspiration for the strange 'project' came from repeated questions about when she was going to get married and have kids, nagging inquiries that I'm sure every female reading this right now has been asked, at one time or another. After telling her mom that she couldn't exactly just go out and buy a family, she soon realized that she actually could, after finding mannequins for sale at a retail liquidation outlet.
Armed with the daughter and husband everyone was pressuring her to live out her days with, Heintz now travels the world with her unconventional family, snapping Kodak moments along the way. "Yes, I’m a grown woman playing dress-up and house," she says. "But it’s all for a darn good reason. And it’s not because I need medication. It’s because I have the right to decide how my life looks. And you know what, so do you! Women’s lib was in the ‘70s. It’s the 21st century now and somehow, I’m still not right without a ring on my finger?"
"You can be happy without all the stuff people think you need," she continues, revealing the true message of her project and unusual lifestyle. Amen to that.
Heintz' family life will soon be revealed in the documentary Playing House, and you'll find the trailer below!
Check out the haunting mannequins of the John Lawson House, if you're not yet creeped out!
Uncle Sam is the story of a veteran named Sam who, three years after dying in the line of duty, is returned home where he inexplicably reanimates, dresses up like the patriotic icon, and goes on a killing spree. This strange little direct-to-video slasher flick came out around the time that VHS was on its way out and DVD was taking over the home video market. While he is still an active producer, Uncle Sam is the last feature Lustig directed.
Be sure to head over to The Vault and enjoy Uncle Sam.
Previous Vault commentaries:
- Zombie with video commentary by Brian Collins & Sean Keller
- Deep Red with video commentary by Greg McDougall & Josh Thompson
- Dead & Buried with video commentary by Dave Parker & Rebekah McKendry
- The Crazies with video commentary by Mike Mendez & Ryan Turek
- The Stendhal Syndrome with video commentary by Heidi Honeycutt & Jill Kill
- Two Evil Eyes with video commentary by Ted Raimi & Jeremy Kasten
- Opera with video commentary by Drew Daywalt and AJ Bowen
If you're a resident of the Los Angeles area and a horror fan, then no doubt you're familiar with the Hyaena Gallery located at 1928 Olive Avenue over in beautiful Burbank, California. In the last several years, the gallery along with it's stable of artists have made a name for themselves not only for their unique dark art, but for paying tribute to all the things we love about the horror genre. When they're not showcasing original pieces from their roster of artists, they sometimes focus on theme specific shows such as the 'Scream' exhibit and the 'Psycho' legacy shows they've hosted in prior years back. But right now, for the entire month of March, they're paying tribute to one of the horror director greats. Wes Craven.
"The Wes Craven tribute exhibit was actually something I've been wanting to do at the gallery for quite some time," explains Hyaena Gallery owner and curator Bill Shafer. "I grew up on 70s and 80s horror and Wes' films are a huge part of what I enjoy in the genre. His early films especially, like 'The Last House on the Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes,' were so raw, gritty and disturbing. You can't watch those movies and remain unscathed, and I've always gravitated to that type of storytelling. They definitely influenced what I look for in art of any media and have helped shape Hyaena. Wes was kind enough to include art from many of our artists in 'Scream 4,' (for the "Stab-a-thon" sequence that takes place in the barn) even allowing us to do an art exhibit of these pieces before the film's premiere. That was such a boost for the gallery and really helped all of the artists involved. How do you repay that kind of generosity? I figured the best way would be to show through art how much his work has influenced the Hyaena community. We kept it a bit on the downlow, without too much advertising, because we wanted everyone, even Wes, to be surprised by what we put together."
And what the artists have put together is truly remarkable and special. One glance at the gallery's back wall and you'll spot just about all of Craven's filmography represented including 'Music Of The Heart!' Collectors will have to act fast if they want to snag original pieces inspired by 'The Serpent & The Rainbow,' 'Swamp Thing,' 'Shocker,' 'Cursed,' or (one of my personal favorites) 'Deadly Friend.' There's plenty of love for 'The Last House On The Left,' 'The Hills Have Eyes' and of course for Freddy Krueger with a handful of pieces created as a tribute to Wes' most famous film 'A Nightmare On Elm Street.' FEARNET caught up with a few of the artists to ask why they picked the Craven movie they did for this event.
D.W. Frydendall: "I chose to paint Pluto from 'The Hills Have Eyes' because when I was a kid I saw this movie for the first time and the idea of it was so terrifying it was almost taboo to watch. My brothers and I used to quote the film all of the time referring to each other as "Papa Jupe" or "Pluto." I also have always wanted to paint Michael Berryman. He's one of my favorite genre stars."
Chet Zar: "I remember seeing 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' for the first time in 1984 when I was 15 or 16 years old. I saw a tiny ad in the newspaper for it (pre internet days!) and just that creepy font in the ad was enough to get me curious. There were no reviews yet and I hadn't really heard anything about it, so I got my dad to take me to go see it. Needless to say, I was completely blown away! It was such a dark and gritty but also a highly creative film - it really felt like it was made just for a kid like me. And that's what good art does; it makes a connection with it's audience. Also, Freddy was creepy as hell. I think he was an influence on my future career as a fine artist as you can see it in my work today; lots of dark figures with hats. And it definitely was one of the films that kept me interested in becoming a make up effects artist. Being able to create a painting of Freddy was a real treat for me and also a reminder of the major influences from my childhood that have helped make me be the artist I am today. Thanks, Wes!"
Clint Carney: "So many of Wes Craven’s films have had a huge impact on my life. Take one step into my home and you’ll see how true that is. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' was one of the first movies that I really latched onto as a kid, and it fueled my love for all things horror. Freddy Krueger was at his scariest in the first film and so I wanted to capture the essence of his look from that one. I feel very honored to be able to pay tribute to such a great filmmaker who inspired so much of what I do."
Craven himself made a surprise appearance for the opening reception this past Saturday night, March 8th and was overwhelmed and humbled by the entire exhibit. So much so that he bought a few pieces himself including Carney's Freddy pictured above and a sculpture by Cig Neutron. And while Wes himself has shown a tremendous amount of support for the Hyaena Gallery, Shafer singled out Skip Crank, a fellow artist and prop master that has worked on a handful of Craven's films as being the one to put to gallery on Wes' radar in the first place. "Skip worked with Wes for many years and is a favorite artist that we show here at Hyaena. He was responsible for talking to Wes about the exhibit and getting his blessing. Wes was fantastic through the entire process; encouraging and generous. He even signed a number of items for us to help us out. He came to the opening reception and seemed to have a great time, socializing and taking pictures with fans. He was even kind enough not to criticize the shitty wine we served him."
Despite a good chunk of the commissioned art already being sold to the general public, all of the pieces will remain on display at Hyaena Gallery until the end of March. So be sure to make a trip to Burbank to see them for yourself. We've got a picture gallery below but it truly doesn't do justice to the art until you're standing right in front of it. And if you head over the the Hyaena website, they're already teasing next month's art exhibit titled "All Outta Bubblegum." Could next month at Hyaena Gallery be a tribute to another "master of horror?" You'll just have to head over there to find out!
Follow Hyaena Gallery both on Facebook and on Twitter, and bookmark their official website!
Whenever it seems like the werewolf movie has been completely forgotten, we get a nice reminder that this immortal legend of horror cinema will always have its fair share of supporters. It was way back in 1981 when The Howling, Wolfen, and An American Werewolf in London hit the screens, and while there was a semi-resurgence with Ginger Snaps (2000), Dog Soldiers (2002), and (to a degree) The Wolfman (2010), we don't seem to get half-decent lycanthropic cinema all that frequently.
The imagination of a child is perhaps the most beautiful thing in the world, but it also can be quite scary, particularly when all the lights go out. Strange noises and dancing shadows become goblins and ghouls, and as anyone who has any recollection of their childhood can attest to, every kid has at least one monster that hangs out in the closet or dwells underneath the bed. It's just one of the side effects of being a child.
But what if there was a cure? What if a magical elixir could banish monsters from the bedrooms of children? Well, according to the world's coolest pharmacist, there now is!
ABC News reports that North Dakota pharmacist Jeff Dodds has developed a breakthrough 'Monster Spray,' which he prescribes to children who aren't able to sleep at night, due to monster activity in their bedrooms. An employee of Barrett Pharmacy, Dodd created the spray with his daughter Josslyn, and the directions recommend children spray the mystery concoction around their bedroom at night, which he guarantees will completely eradicate any and all monster infestations.
"It’s 100 percent safe and it works amazingly," says Josslyn. "It really seems to get rid of the monsters."
I guess there truly is a cure for everything, in this day and age!
Fans of horror and extreme music should be familiar with London artist Dan Mumford, whose distinctive artwork has been used in everything from revival movie posters to t-shirts for bands like death metallers The Black Dahlia Murder. I recently chatted with Dan regarding his influences, his art, and his work on the recent rerelease of The Wicker Man.
Your work runs a very broad spectrum when it comes to subject matter, from horror/gore to post-apocalyptic to more portrait-based pieces like “Sisters.” Does any one subject resonate more with you as an artist?
I think it depends on the place I’m in at that time. Post-apocalyptic landscapes and ideas do always excite me with the possibilities of where I can take it, but at the same time its really nice to do something a little more serene and portrait like. I don’t have quite as much interest in the gory horror work as I once did, but I think that’s possibly due to it pigeonholing me somewhat for a few years. In recent times though I have been able to work on quite a few horror movie posters, and I really enjoy that and trying to make something distinctive for the movie without falling back on pure gore. Getting back to the root of the question though, I don’t think any of the subject matters resonate any more than the other, I try to find a quality that excites me and create something aesthetically pleasing regardless of the actual subject matter.
Your distinctive style has started morphing recently, with some more delicate detail creeping in to your normally thick-lined compositions, like your new Christine print. Is this a sign of your evolution as an artist or just an occasional experiment for certain pieces?
It’s evolution through experimentation. What started as a way to try and create more distinction through shading and finer line-work opened up a whole new world of possibilities to my work, it was like going back to day one of my career again, and drawing a simple skull became exciting. It all started a few years ago when I did some experiments, and released them as the Studies series in three sets. It was completely liberating to not have to just draw with thick black lines, and I realized that my style and what was distinctive in my work also still shone through when I changed things up a bit. To be honest at the time I was getting a bit fed up of seeing a lot of people creating work really similar to my own, and I felt like I had to embrace that as a challenge. It made me be more careful and thoughtful with my work, and I’ve definitely evolved quite a bit over the last couple of years.
Was there a pivotal moment in your career when you got to transition into being a full-time artist? Was there that epiphany when it suddenly became “the day job?”
Actually it has been my full time job ever since I left university in 2007, I was really lucky and had a couple of big jobs that set me up for a few solid months in London. I just made sure those first few months that I worked incredibly hard and did any work I could get my hands on, luckily since then I haven’t stopped. It’s a strange feeling that is hard to explain to someone who isn’t freelance though, you never quite know what’s ahead in the next few months, and there have been some really slow periods where I haven’t had much work at all, a few dark moments where you’re not sure if its all going to fall apart or not. The last couple of years have been pretty solid though and I feel pretty comfortable calling it my full time job now.
Your artwork was featured on the recent Final Cut of Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man for the theatrical rerelease and the DVD. How does it feel to have your work become the “new face” for a classic film?
Phenomenal. It’s an incredible honour to be on the cover worldwide for the final cut, and even in some cinemas. When making the original design for Dark City Gallery as a print we always knew there was an option for them to use it for the official artwork the next year for the final cut release, but to be honest I thought nothing would come of it. So when I found out studio canal wanted to use it for the release, and then also Lionsgate in the USA, I was pretty floored by it all. Just such a great project to be a part of for an incredible film.
Not through tee designs, no. Those were both quite exciting projects though. I was working with IndieMerch in the USA, and they essentially backed me to do whatever I wanted as far as a line of tees go, so we created Mumford Clothing, kept it simple, just some tees done by me. I wanted to tie everything together in each line and not just create some one off ideas, so both of those lines tell a small quite ambiguous story that links together. Story telling is something I really like to add in my work, I think it helps me create the worlds and ideas within the imagery if I have a little backstory to it all. There’s a lot of crazy ideas I have that I want to create as prints one day soon, maybe even a comic/graphic novel, but I’m not sure I’ll be going back to doing lines of tee’s anytime soon. It was a lot of fun, but really hard to make it work. Prints give me more freedom with sizing and detail, so I think as far as personal work that’s the medium I’m sticking with for the moment.
The subject matter you work with in regards to horror ranges from the iconic (Friday the 13th, Halloween) to the more obscure (Rawhead Rex, Pumpkinhead). Do your own personal tastes run in this range? What are some of your favorite films?
I love horror films and the horror genre in general, so whenever the chance to work within it comes up then I’m always interested. Halloween and Friday 13th were fantastic to work on. As I mentioned earlier though, I like the challenge of making a horror poster/image without making it too gory though. I really like anything scifi/horror/apocalyptic, films like Mad Max, Blade Runner, Aliens, Terminator and so forth. Its all about the worlds and how they can drag you in, if it’s a well built believable film world then I’m interested.
Hypothetical question: you have an unlimited amount of time and funds and no one to make happy but yourself. What is your dream project?
I would probably start painting huge pieces, 12 ft. tall canvases, something that could take 6 months to complete. I think the size and scope of my work at the moment is limited by time and money, so if it were unlimited I would do that. I’d also open my own studio/gallery too while I’m at it.
You can check out more of Dan’s work at dan-mumford.com.
Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival deputy director Mike Hostench, who co-penned the upcoming exorcist feature Asmodexia (along with director Marc Carrete), got in touch with us today to drop an international trailer and still (above) for the flick, as well as to give us an update.
Of the film, which stars Lluis Marco and Claudia Pons as the beleaguered as grandfather and granddaughter (respectively), "Asmodexia will have its world premiere at Brussels IFFF next month," Hostench told us. Check out the trailer below:
Here's the official synopsis, 'Eloy de Palma is an exorcist pastor roaming the darkest corners of the country with his granddaughter Alba. Their mission is to help those possessed by The Evil One, an infection of the soul that is spreading fast, especially among the most vulnerable members of society: children, mental patients, and drug addicts. There is also a mysterious cult following them, making it more difficult to help those in need. Each exorcism is tougher than the one before, and every battle with evil reveals a piece of young Alba's forgotten past - an enigma that if unconcealed could change the world as we know it.'
We have such sights to show you….or maybe better yet, to illuminate for you? Artists Ben Hamby and Jeremy Faber of Sky D.o.G.s have created the ultimate lamp for Hellraiser fans. Based on the lament configuration box, this lamp is offered in two options; one with “puzzle,” edges and one with smoothed edges to better represent the box from the film. They are completely handmade, and interestingly enough have flame retardant fabric on the interior to make them appear solid when switched off. There are many different customization options so if you’re interested in unleashing the cenobites make sure to read the options on their Etsy page. With the amount of hand made work involved they won’t rip your soul, or wallet apart either! The smaller lament configuration is shown for scale purposes only, the lamps are 6”x6”x6”…pun intended?
What happens when the creators of Inside (aka À l'intérieur) decide to combine Stand By Me with a splash of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and big portions of "home invasion" insanity? You'd probably get something that looks a lot like Julian Maury and Alexndre Bustillo's Among the Living, which is a beautifully shot and admirably unpredictable horror/thriller that uses the ingredients mentioned above -- and maybe a half-dozen others -- to cook up a multi-subgenre variety pack that manages to fire on all cylinders.
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!
Monster & Madman No. 1
Although the cover of this awesome new comic screams "The Secret History of Jack the Ripper and Frankenstein's Monster" we only really spend time with the Monster in this first issue. The story takes place right after the events of Mary Shelley's famous novella, and we see the Monster roaming the frozen wastes of Antarctica searching for a life to live after his creator dies. When he comes upon a ship, he asserts himself, proves his worth, and climbs aboard. Trouble and treachery await him almost immediately, and at the end he finds himself with a surreptitious meeting.
Bag it or board it up? Steve Niles and Damien Worm are at their best with 'Monster & Madman'. This comic is drawn in the classic messy, chaotic style. The unclean layout matches the chaos and shambling nature of the story. Frank's Monster meets Jack the Ripper? By Steve Niles? Yes please. This is what happens when professionals write fan-fiction, and the result is awesome.
Deadworld: Restoration No. 4
The world is in ruins. It's been that way for a long, long time. The king of zombies is slowly rebuilding his power after being defeated once. A half-zombie woman, currently in control of the hordes of undead, searches for the daughter her human half still misses. The humans are trying everything from explosives to flies in their battle against the undead. And all around them the stench of death lingers.
Bag it or board it up? This is a fine zombie comic. It's grim, about as grim as anything old Kirkman could think up. But it's got a lot of different plot lines. There are tons of characters to follow and keep track of. There are plots-a-plenty. There's so much to keep straight it can be a challenge at times. But if you like sinking your teeth into a huge horror story you can do no better than 'Deadworld'.
Beasts of Burden One-Shot
A small town is protected by a ring of household pets and strays. The dogs have formed a tenuous partnership with the cats, and they battle against unseen forces of evil. Monsters lurk in the shadows, and we see the whole story through the eyes, ears, and personalities of these furry friends. Are the cats magical? Are the dogs as tough as they think they are? Are the crows evil? So many questions plague the animal kingdom in 'Beasts'!
Bag it or board it up? Whoa. This is an awesome comic. Check this out right away. The personalities of the dogs and cats are all very relatable. They joke with each other. They swear when they get into trouble. They run for their lives from giant monsters. This is a fun one, and definitely worth digging into further. I love the way the cats act with one another, and the way they regard humans. With vague references to nine lives, and allusions to shamans and witchcraft, this one shot is designed to whet the appetite. And it certainly has!
Nosferatu Wars One-Shot
This week we've got another one-shot to review. And it's also another comic from horror master Steve Niles. This one's about a couple, two vampires, madly in love and mad with power during the time of the great plague. They kill as they wish, feed as they wish, and even get married during the chaos. And then they meet up with rival vampires, and then something really weird happens…
Bag it or board it up? The last page of this comic had me scratching my head. So wild, so out of the blue, and and will lead to a really strange and wonderful comic if they continue with the series. It seems like this comic, much like 'Beasts of Burden' reviewed above, are one-shot's designed to gauge interest. In both cases my interest has been piqued, and I'm ready for more.
Grindhouse Releasing, the company founded by Academy Award winning editor Bob Murawski and the late Sage Stallone has announced that they will be releasing Blu-ray versions of both Cannibal Holocaust and The Beyond. This news is huge for not only Blu-ray collectors, but Ital-horror fans in particular. Grindhouse, led by Murawski’s attention to detail and quest for excellence, is known for putting out the most high quality of transfers. Earlier this year they released spaghetti western The Big Gundown, to high critical praise for its quality.
It’s unclear now if these new Blu’s will have new special features or will simply port over special features from their original DVD’s released by Grindhouse.
To keep up to date on all of the news about these releases and all Grindhouse goings-on, visit GrindhouseReleasing.com
There are lots of options for horror-themed décor. Some of the choices represent totally inspired design and others are slightly less tasteful. For your convenience: we are taking some of the guesswork out of the equation by providing you with both a great gift idea for the horror fan in your life that is also a fantastic home décor choice.
Today we are spotlighting these amazing liquid lamps. They come in both red and white, with the red being the real standout option. The red lamps give the appearance that they are dripping or sitting in a pool of blood, depending on which version you choose. They are sure to provide a touch of ambiance as well as brighten up any room in your home. Moreover, they will undoubtedly serve as a conversation piece.
Starting at $219 at Generate Online.
"A troubled young woman is convicted of petty felonies and forced to withstand house arrest in the home of her estranged mother, blank slate of a stepfather, and a bunch of evil spirits who make creepy noises..."
When I first heard that WGN was entering the original programming arena, my first thought was, “The Superstation?” I always knew WGN as a local Chicago station that, for whatever reason, was on my Los Angeles cable service, and played reruns around the clock. For a brief time in the 1990s, it was a WB affiliate, which allowed me to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer three hours early and wow my friend with my uncanny ability to predict what will happen.
So I didn’t think much of WGN making their own programs. Then I saw some clips from Salem and it started to look pretty good. When I watched the screener of the first episode, I was damn impressed.
I like this show.
The first thing I noticed about Salem was that the first episode didn’t feel like a traditional pilot. Generally a new show has a lot of introduction and a lot of exposition to set up, plus actors and crew are still settling in. Salem did not suffer from that. Everyone is familiar with the Salem witch trials, so we know what we are doing here. The other necessary info is doled out in a natural, unhurried fashion. In other words, the producers don’t treat the audience like idiots.
Salem is set in 1692, at the start of the witch hysteria. Except in this version of the witch trials, witches are real. At the center of Salem are Mary and John, lovers who are separated when John is sent off to fight in the Indian war that should keep him away for no more than a year. But seven years go by, and Mary is told he is dead, so she marries the town elder and becomes wealthy and powerful. The marriage is one of convenience - Mary is in league with the witches, and her wheelchair-bound husband is a perfect cover. But then John comes back, clearly not dead, and throws Mary’s world into disarray. Adding to the complications is Cotton Mather, Salem’s reverend who takes the lead on the witch hunts - and doesn’t have much patience for John’s disbelief in witchcraft.
There is a lot of sex and nudity for a basic cable show.
I certainly have no problems with sex or nudity; I just wasn’t expecting so much from a show that isn’t airing on HBO. In the first episode, there was a surprising amount of under-boob; bare butts; hints of lesbianism; sex toys; and a fascinating blend of religion and sex that sets most people on edge.
There is nothing “pretty” about these witches.
I feel like, when witches are presented in pop culture (everything from American Horror Story to The Secret Circle), they are presented as beautiful, human women who chants some spells and “stuff” happens, without them having to get their hands dirty. The witches in Salem get their hands plenty dirty.
The show is set hundreds of years in the past, but isn’t difficult to understand.
The dialogue isn’t overwhelmed with “thous” and “ye oldes” and other archaic phrases, which I think will make it accessible to a wider audience.
Salem is “authentic” but not “real.”
While attending the Television Critics Association’s Salem panel, a number of critics seemed to take issue with the fact that the show all but ignores the socio-political and cultural issues surrounding the reasons for the witch trials. Some even seemed offended. While the producers remain authentic to the time period, even basing some characters on real people and taking a fair amount of detail from historical documents of the time. But this is by no means a “real” depiction of the actual time period in Salem. Women were not possessed; demons did not walk amongst humans; people could not walk on the ceiling. This is a fictitious story set in a real setting. I actually worry for the people who would be offended by this supernatural, dark, and crazy show that is clearly fiction.
Final verdict? If you have WGN (I’m not sure how wide the reach is), tune it. It is a fun, cinematic, and slightly disturbed hour of television.
Salem premieres on WGN America on April 20th.