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    Face Off Episode 406
    “Bugging Out”
    Original Airdate: 19 February 2013

    In This Episode...

    We start with a spotlight challenge. The contestants have two hours to reinvent an iconic female fairytale character as a bad girl. Eric F. won for his half wolf, half Riding Hood creation. He gained immunity for the week as well as a professional makeup kit from Makeup Forever.

    Moving on to the foundation challenge, monitors are set up in the studio, with brightly-colored abstract images on them. Each contestant chooses one that will inspire their makeups. Only after they choose are they given the whole picture: these are microscopic images of various insects. The contestants must create a hybrid creature based on their insect.

    The Creations

    Alam had a grasshopper. The colors were bright and beautiful, but Ve found them a “mish mosh” while Glenn hates that the colors don’t flow together. Other problems include bunchy bits of fabric taped to the back that are meant to be wings; translucent silicone painted opaque; and an indecipherable combination of glittery flip-flops, leaves, and crystals.

    Anthony had an ant. He had a tough time getting started, figuring out what he wanted, and getting it all in motion. He is not proud of it, but it is what it is. The judges didn’t like it. Glenn thought it had a lot of bizarre elements including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-like shell. Ve said he shouldn’t have been so good at the beginning, because now they just want more and more out of him.

    Kris had a butterfly. He was worried about building wings, but did a fabulous job by encasing the arms in the wings, as opposed to just attaching foam board. Kris couldn’t find much in the reference books on what the butterfly torso would look like, so he made it up, which Glenn appreciated - he said that he could see Kris in the sculpt. The proportions and colors were well-received. 

    Eric Z. had a mosquito. I liked that he was drinking out of a blood bag.

    Eric F. had a spider. His was the best example of human/bug hybrid: a woman who was halfway through becoming a spider.

    Wayne had a firefly. It felt unfinished, largely because the pieces that tied in the abstract photo was left in the work room. Glenn loved it - hiding the eyes in plain sight was ingenious and the mouth movement was well integrated. Ve liked the neutral color tone and the light-up “tail.”

    House had a bee. It was good but not extraordinary. 

    Autumn had a beetle. Another “fine” piece; nothing special.

    Meagan had a moth. She made it furry, but the wings were a mess. Neville told her she wasn’t far off with fur, but the colors were killing it. Ve had the quote of the night: “It looked like psychedelic vomit.”

    The Verdict?

    The winner came down to Kris and Wayne. They would have given it to Wayne, but he didn’t have the photo element, which meant that he didn’t complete the challenge. So Kris won - by default. He’ll take it. Alam was sent home.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    Other than the element of surprise, there was nothing special about this episode. They have done bug challenges before; this one doesn’t really add a new level to it. I thought the spotlight challenge was far more interesting, but that wasn’t even given a full act.


    The contestants are tasked with creating their own intergalactic werewolves.

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    Zombieland Casting NewsThere’s been quite a bit of news about Amazon’s Zombieland series over the past few weeks. Columbus and Little Rock were cast first, then came the ever-sassy Wichita. Now, finally, they have a gruff, Twinkie-loving leader.

    Kirk Ward, who has worked in movies as varied as The Island, Forrest Gump, and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, will star as Tallahassee, Deadline reports.

    “Original Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wrote the pilot and executive produce with the movie’s producer, Gavin Polone. I hear Reese and Wernick, who conceived Zombieland as a TV show, originally had Ward in mind for Tallahassee after meeting the actor while shooting the William Shatner-starring Spike TV limited series Invasion Iowa,” Deadline said.

    via Deadline

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    You never know what you're gonna get when Tool's Maynard James Keenan busts out another record from his amazingly weird side project Puscifer... but that chaotic unpredictability is what I love most about them. If ever there were a band that totally defies classification from one album to the next (we're talking abstract musical genius on the level of The Residents here) and still rocks danceable beats and head-banging riffs while simultaneously not giving a shit, Puscifer would totally be that band. From the minimalist electro grooves of their debut album V is for Vagina (and the half dozen remix albums that followed) to the insane mashup of industrial metal and melancholy folk ballads that is their semi-concept record Conditions of My Parole, Puscifer is in constant creative flux, with a revolving repertoire and crew that includes major names from many musical genres.
    Before you even start playing their latest effort, you're hit immediately (pardon the pun) with a complete lack of taste, as the EP is named after an alleged sexual position so nasty it became a fatal plot point in a pitch-black thriller. How do you top that? By laying down a completely irony-free, pitch-perfect rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody,” that's how. I kept waiting for the punchline to this lovely cover, which features a full-on Freddy Mercury Night at the Opera-style lead vocal, with all the requisite multi-tracked choir and dead-on instrumental backing in place. The joke finally arrived a bit later, when I watched the song's music video in stunned silence... and I still don't have words to describe the insanity that oozes from every pixel of this clip, which co-stars drag queen/performance artist Dina Martina as Maynard's girlfriend. Oh, Just watch it.
    There's also a remix (or as it's titled, a “rework”) of this cover by Sonoio, which adds a whole new meta-level to things. But that's not the only rock classic to get Pusciferized here: we also get a southern gothic re-imagining of Accept's “Balls to the Wall,” which comes close to recreating some of the mellower moments from Keenan's other notable side project, A Perfect Circle. This song appears in two different versions: the straightforward “Pillow Fight” version, and the eerie, retro-futuristic instrumental “El Guapo mix” by DJ Silent Servant, which sounds like an early cut from Tangerine Dream (that's a very good thing in my book, by the way).
    With the original album cuts "Breathe” and “Dear Brother,” we're back on slightly more familiar territory: “Breathe” is a pulsing, sexed-up number combining a sensual bass and guitar line with throbbing electro beats beneath blended male and female lead vocals. It's tense and exciting, but fairly subtle as Puscifer tracks go. The lush and mesmerizing “Dear Brother” is structured on a drum & bass groove, with warm, sliding fuzz guitars (some played in reverse) draped leisurely on top, and the same effective multi-tracking of multiple vocalists. There are more so-called “reworks” of these two on the EP: the buzzing, glitchy industrial noise version of the former (courtesy of Drumcell) and the echo-plexing “Denton Rework” of the latter, with Maynard's vocals front-and-center against a simple, crawling synth bass line.
    Well, what can I say, other than Maynard and company have knocked another one out of the park. Maintaining their signature quirks and dark humor amid truly stunning production and their best arrangements to date, this EP ranks among the band's finest work, and I hope it's just a preview of a full-length project that's soon to come. Considering how much they bend and twist their existing catalog like a Rottweiler on a squeaky toy, who knows what the holy hell they've got in store for us next, or when... but I want it.

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    Lefevre joins Under the DomeRemember Twilight’s Victoria? She had a couple different faces; the original Victoria was Rachelle Lefevre, who was unceremoniously let go by Summit after the first film. We haven’t seen to much of the red-headed beauty in genre since then, but that’s about to change because she’s just been cast as the lead in CBS’s Under the Dome.

    Lefevre joins Breaking Bad star Dean Norris along with Pan Am's Mike Vogel, True Blood's Aisha Hinds, Secret Circle's Britt Robertson, and CSI: NY's Natalie Martinez.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Lefevre will play Julia, an investigative reporter who just moved from Chicago to Chester's Mill with her husband, a doctor at the town's medical center. She's the editor of the town's local paper and is intrigued after learning of multiple deliveries of propane gas to a nearby warehouse. She's baffled by the appearance of the strange dome but more concerned with the whereabouts of her mysteriously missing husband.”

    Under the Dome is based on the Stephen King book of the same name that follows the residents of a small town. They struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, when a dome encapsulated their town.

    via THR

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    croczillaKnown in its native China as Million Dollar Crocodile, and (unwisely) repackaged as a horror flick called Croczilla for the schlock enthusiasts of America... this is nobody's idea of a good movie.

    What a bizarre film. It's a comedy about a truly obnoxious woman who has her life savings swallowed up by a giant crocodile, so she goes to the police to complain. Still with me? The policeman's son is actually old friends with the giant crocodile, who once ate his report card (I think), and then there's also this gang of crocodile-eating thugs who cause all sorts of trouble for the policeman, the kid, the annoying woman, and a wise old man who knows a secret about the giant crocodile. Did I not mention the magical old man? Yeah, Croczilla has one of those too.
    I've seen enough "foreign" horror films to know that there's a difference between "culture shock" (as in, maybe I don't fully "get" Chinese humor) and plain old stupid filmmaking, and Croczilla most definitely falls into the latter category. As a comedy, it's a woefully generic and silly affair. (One that also, for some bizarre reason, has a sequence of buck-naked little boys swimming in croc-infested water.) As a horror flick about a giant crocodile... it's even worse. Aside from a few sequences of chomping that involve the aforementioned criminal imbeciles, this croc doesn't DO anything. Horror fans may appreciate the few stray moments of suspense and carnage, but they're all promptly undone by the film's garish sense of humor and irritatingly simplistic plot. (That woman really wants her money back from this crocodile's belly, BELIEVE ME.)
    To put it in terms a young, American horror fan may understand more easily: Croczilla is sort of like two scenes from Lake Placid 4 jammed into a really bad Nickelodeon sitcom about a wacky crocodile who loves to eat money and swim around near naked little boys without actually eating them. Frankly, Croczilla sometimes feels like two unfinished movies that were jammed into one ungainly whole.
    Lord knows you'll find some great monster movies that come from China, but Croczilla is more aptly described as an endurance test than anything resembling an appealing little monster movie.

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    If you're all uptight about staking your hard-earned coin on this year's office basketball brackets, fear not... or fear a lot, depending on what really scares you. Either way, you'll have fun on FEARnet in March, 'cuz we've rolled out our own version of March Madness, and if you love new and/or classic horror flicks, we'll have you set up for the entire month with a "Tournament of Terror" that includes TV premieres, marathons and special events.
    Highlights of FEARnet's March programming include “SAW Sunday,” a double-feature beginning on Sunday, March 10th at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific with SAW VI, starring Costas Mandylor as the detective detemined to carry on Jigsaw's sadistic legacy. It's followed by the broadcast premiere of SAW VII, the series' (presumably) concluding chapter, with Mandylor returning and Friday the 13th alumnus Betsy Palmer as Jigsaw's widow, who has plans of her own.
    Also making its broadcast debut is the critically acclaimed thriller Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as a kidnapped truck driver who's buried alive, with a rapidly dying cell phone as his only hope for escape. It premieres Sunday, March 17th at 8PM ET/5PM PT.
    More premieres include Eric Red's creepy cult classic Body Parts on Saturday, March 9th at 10PM ET/7PM PT; Russian horror-fantasy epic Nightwatch on Saturday, March 23rd at 10PM ET/7PM PT; The Selling, a festival fave about a realtor with a haunted property on his hands, on Thursday, March 28th at 8PM ET/5PM PT; and the campers-vs-killer thriller Holla, making its world premiere on Sunday, March 31st at 8PM ET/5PM PT.
    We're not done yet! The “Cowboys & Critters” Marathon of wild-west horrors rolls into town Thursday, March 28th at 8PM ET/5PM PT with the supernatural gunslinger Dead Noon; followed by the frontier monster flick The Burrowers and the demonic wild-west showdown Left for Dead.

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    It's pretty much a no-brainer that any product from the legendary David Lynch is going to be more than a little bit creepy. Surrealism is his stock in trade, whether it's the groundbreaking experimental feature Eraserhead, sexy meta-horror films like Mulholland Drive, or his unforgettably insane TV series Twin Peaks. But over the last couple of years, Lynch has been spending a lot more time on his musical output – mainly his album Crazy Clown Time and a variety of multimedia projects tied to that record. The album itself is classic Lynch: dark, rumbling and repetitive bass lines, industrial noisescapes, punchy percussion, bluesy guitar leads (from the skillful Dean Hurley) and nightmarish production effects, with Lynch supplying most of the vocals on top, often digitally altered in bizarre and comical ways.
    While the recent video from that album's title track was a whacked-out stream of consciousness romp (including drunk topless women, spilled beer, a guy setting his head on fire and lots and lots of screaming), with Lynch squealing nonsense lyrics like a helium huffer, this earlier video for the electro-pop track “Good Day Today” will be more familiar to those of you who enjoyed the dark, abstract horror puzzle of Lost Highway (still my personal Lynch favorite) and Eraserhead's casual gruesomeness. Directed by Arnold de Parscau, this film won a music video competition judged by Lynch himself, beating out nearly 450 other entries. Despite the title, the characters in this little mini-play don't really seem to be having a good day today at all... but then again, this is a David Lynch song, so it just might be interpreted as a happy ending. I think.


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    Perfect for your brain-loving sweetie, this pendant piece is a clever take on a classic nouveau-style image of a woman, after she's been zombified. A mixture of beauty and brains, the subject is staring straight ahead, lovingly cradling a human brain, and clearly daydreaming of the pastoral craniums she hopes to dine upon. The black-finished metal pendant is about 2 inches by 1.5 inches and it hangs from an 18 inch long silver-tone ball chain.

    Art Nouveau

    $7.00 on

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    supernaturalSupernatural Episode 815
    “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits”
    Written By: Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming
    Directed By: John Showalter
    Original Airdate: 20 February 2013

    In This Episode...

    Sam and Dean get a text from a cop named James Frampton - they worked a case with him in the past. While they wait for him to arrive, Dean goes on a beer run and Sam finds a sweet doberman pinscher at their door. He lets her in, but meets Dean outside to warn him about “her.” When they finally go into the motel room, the dobie has turned into a beautiful woman.

    The woman is Portia, a familiar. James’s familiar. After working the case with the Winchesters, James got really involved in witchcraft. A familiar is like a bonded partner. They can communicate telepathically, but lately James has been blocking her out. He has been having nightmares where he kills people, but then the people actually turn up dead. He has no recollection of actually committing these crimes, but he does find one of his monogramed shirts, bloodied, in his garbage. It was Portia who texted the Winchesters; she feels they are the only ones who can help him.

    James accepts the help, reluctantly. The Winchesters are just as reluctant to help a witch, but Portia assures them that James only uses his powers for good, mostly to solve homicide cases. Even still, Dean arms himself with a witch banishment bomb. Sam visits the police station, where Ed, the lead detective for the murders, claims there is no evidence and they are ready to push it to the back burner. Dean goes with Portia to a witch lounge and meets a few witches. He suspects that a witch is controlling James with a hex, but no one has ever heard of such a thing.

    For the time being, they keep James in shackles. He is okay with that - he wants to solve this as much as anyone. One thing that Portia didn’t tell the Winchesters is that she and James are romantically involved - a no-no in the witch/familiar community. While they were having sex, James let his guard down enough for Portia to see into his brain. She sees him committing the actual murders, but no thoughts before or after, which suggests the thoughts were planted.

    On a follow-up visit to the police station, Sam notices that Ed and the lab tech have a thick police folder on James, and that they seem to be secretive about what goes on in a locked office in the station. The boys agree to let James astral project himself into the room, as long as they can go with. They discover that the entire room is dedicated to pinning these murders on James. And they finally have a name to pin this all on: Phillippe. Phillippe is the familiar to Spencer, who is James’s friend. Dean confronts him, and Phillippe begs for mercy. His witch, Spencer, forced him to frame James. He didn’t have a choice. Spencer shows up to take responsibility. He was jealous that Portia chose James over himself, but made peace with it - until he found out that James and Portia were sleeping together. He couldn’t handle that, and framed James for the murders to get him out of the picture. Spencer is powerful, and keeps James, Dean, and Sam at bay with magic. Portia - in dog form - rushes in with the surprise attack. Spencer is distracted long enough for Dean to throw the witch bomb, which causes Spencer to explode in a cloud of blood-red smoke.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    I was more entranced by the sweet doberman dog than anything else. The rest of the episode was fine. Not great, not bad. Just fine. 

    Spooky Humor

    Sam and Dean are debating the merits of the Three Stooges. More specifically, Sam is trying to defend his position that Shemp is a superior Stooge to Curly. Sam feels that Curly’s humor was “too obvious.” “They’re Stooges - it’s supposed to be obvious!” insists Dean.

    Sibling Rivalry

    Dean’s concern for Sam handling the three trials is finally addressed. Sam thinks it is not because Dean doesn’t trust him, but because he only trusts himself. But while Spencer was messing with his noggin, he realized that with all the shit the Winchesters had been through, the only reason they made it through was because they had each other. Dean trusts Sam, and insists that if Sam says he’s good, Dean is behind him 100%. Of course, then Sam starts coughing up blood, but hides it from his brother.


    The Greek gods are getting off their duffs and are bringing havoc to Earth.

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    NeverwhereNeil Gaiman’s Neverwhere originally made its debut on BBC in 1996 in the form of a short-lived television series. It’s now returning, but this time as a radio adaptation and there are some big stars attached.

    The cast is basically a who’s who of British geek actors. James McAvoy voices Richard Mayhew, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the angel Islington, The Fades' Natalie Dormer is Door, Homeland and Doctor Who’s David Harewood is the Marquis, and Buffy’s Anthony Head plays Croup. If that wasn’t enough, Sir Saruman, aka Christopher Lee, also popped by to voice Earl of Earl’s Court.

    Neverwhere tells the story of a young Scottish fellow in London who falls in with a gang of crazy characters who live underneath the city in the aptly named London Below.

    The first hour-long episode of Neverwhere premieres on Monday March 18  and the series will continue in five half-hour installments on Radio 4 Extra. Non-UK fans will be able to listen on the BBC iPlayer.

    Watch a clip from the TV series below.

    via Radio Times

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    lake placid 4When it comes to reviewing a Part 4, I often like to start out with a quick and hopefully helpful little "franchise history lesson," just to bring everyone up to speed -- but is that really necessary at this point? Probably not. What was once a strange but amusing little matinee movie from a well-known TV producer has (somehow, slowly) turned into a cable TV sequel franchise that exists for nothing more than to fill a random Saturday night slot with a lot of silliness and a bunch of crocodile madness. Congrats to the goofily-named Lake Placid 4: it not only qualifies under those criteria, it's also the most stupidly entertaining entry in this non-franchise since the first one... which wasn't all that great but hey, people who love movies about man-eating crocodiles* can't afford to be all that discerning.
    But for the sake of tradition: Lake Placid (1999), written by David E. Kelley and directed by a guy who helmed two separate Friday the 13th sequels, becomes a quiet hit on cable and home video, which eventually led to Lake Placid 2 (2007), Lake Placid 3 (2010), and now, awesomely enough, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter... as if "the final chapter" is going to entice any viewers who weren't already interested. I digress.
    Picking up directly (and very stupidly) after the end of Part 3, Part 4 continues being all sorts of predictable and stupid at the same time: an angry hunter (the amusing Yancy Butler) is after a giant crocodile. The giant crocodile, for its part, is after a bunch of nubile swim team dimbulbs, and the filmmakers (particularly the screenwriter) are after anything they can find to fill at least an hour before unleashing holy hell in crocodile form. For all its stock characters and frankly tiresome genre trappings, Lake Placid 4 actually does display a half-decent sense of humor and a noticeable splash of energy once the plot winds down and we finally get to focus on random chomping.
    Credit is perhaps due to series newcomer Don Michael Paul (director of Half Past Dead, weirdly enough) for bringing a small semblance of creativity to a stiffly formulaic screenplay, but writer David Reed (returning from Part 3) displays some enthusiasm while biting into the most conventional of horror flick stereotypes. By the time Robert Englund shows up to play a faint shadow of the character made famous by Robert Shaw in Jaws, you'll either be slightly revved up for some crocodile carnage -- or you'll flip the channel to something slightly less goofy. Either way, I've seen a lot worse "crocs run wild" movies than Lake Placid 4


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    April 5. That’s the day the dead will be unleashed in a cabin in the woods.

    Check out the newest poster below for Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead. Once again, we are seeing the back of a messed-up Jane Levy and a tagline that promises, “The most terrifying film you will ever experience.”  Well, that remains to be seen, but FEARnet survived the set visit at least. Read our report here.

    Official synopsis: In the much anticipated remake of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby.

    Evil Dead Poster

    via Bloody Disgusting

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    The silent dark fantasy film The Phantom Carriage, made in Sweden in 1921, was an inspiration to artists from around the world mesmerized by its haunting imagery (legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman is one of them), so it was only a matter of time before a group of musicians with similarly dark and ominous sonic sensibilities would adopt the title as their own. That band is a French extreme-metal quintet (formerly named A Mere Understatement), comprised of vocalist Tieu, guitarists Max Renaud & Antoine Villard, bassist Yann Suraud and drummer Simon Libaud, whose 2011 debut album album New Thing was a surreal, challenging blend of moody black metal and blistering mosh-manic hardcore. Their follow-up album Falls, which drops next Tuesday, takes the terror to a whole new level.

    I'm a huge fan of black metal in its many incarnations, and unlike many of the “true faithful” I'm totally open to the many ways this sinister style of metal can be integrated with everything from cinema-sized orchestra to bluesy hard rock and old-school thrash. I'm not as familiar with the lesser-known hybrid of “blackened hardcore,” but playing by a fairly loose set of rules, I'd probably include bands like Hierophant, Early Graves, or Celeste in that category. Phantom Carriage also cite experimental black metallers Deathspell Omega (from their own home base of Poitiers, France) as one of their influences, and bands don't get much more extreme than that enigmatic bunch. Phantom Carriage is not quite as terrorizing in their approach (although they do know how to bring the scares... more on that below), which is free of the usual satanic trappings and over-the-top presentation... but then again, extreme metal pioneers Today is the Day didn't go in for that routine, and their music is about as frightening as it gets.


    Dark industrial noise atmospheres usher in the opening track "Today We Stand,” which gets right down to the business of monolithic low chords, shifting time signatures and tornado blastbeats before shifting into a more open picking style. It's an odd fit against the rhythmic blur of buzzing double-kicks, and when they throw down some hefty stacked riffs at the song's climax, it comes down like a punch in the head. By comparison, "Dreamers Will Never Stop Dreaming" is a more balanced blend of waltz-tempo black metal dirge and a hardcore wall-of-sound that builds and thickens until it's hard to tell where Tieu's vocal screams end and the flurry of mid-range guitars begin. Another well-executed blend of moody melody and roaring punk rage comes in "About Being A Father,” a polyrhythmic pit beater with a more snarling, angsty edge and some eerie descending riffs, resulting in one of the scariest tracks on the album.

    Of course, it wouldn't be proper hardcore without a solid breakdown or two, and we get a massive helping of that and more in the awesome final cut "Devils, Gods, Us,” in which about half the song is a buildup to a skull-crushing climax, with a sick overcast of gothic gloom thanks to some smooth, burning chords that sweep in at around the two-minute mark, dissolving into harmonics and a droning bass, black-mass chanting and Tieu's most chilling, demonic vocals before it all explodes into a storm of reverb-soaked mayhem. It's a terrifying way to close out an already unsettling album, so listen at your own risk...



    With Falls, The Phantom Carriage has managed to summon up an even more brutal incarnation of the style they initiated in New Thing, stepping up their game with more complex rhythms and tighter, more focused aggression on the hardcore side, while continuing to mix in other genres in even more intriguing ways, including some fitting touches of gothic and doom metal... and while I can safely say it's for extreme music connoisseurs only, the end product is still quite a mind-blower.

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    They grow up so fast! Monsters, Inc.’s Mike and Sulley are headed to Monsters University and like many freshman college students, they are going to pledge a frat.

    While there will probably be far fewer beer bongs at the monster frat house, it will definitely have its fill of characters. Check out their fellow students in the ID cards below. I am just going to say it: Does the Art look a little bit stoned to anyone else?

    Monsters University, starring Steve Buscemi, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Dave Foley, and Julia Sweeney opens June 21.

    Monsters U Sully

    Monsters U Boggs

    Monsters U Squishy

    Monsters U Perry

    Monsters U Don

    Monsters U Art

    via Total Film


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    orlando jones katia winterI have been underwhelmed by the genre offerings in this year's pilot season; I think the networks overloaded on genre shows last season and need a break. But one that I am definitely keeping my eye on is Fox's update to Sleepy Hollow. Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci (Fringe) are producing, with Len Wiseman (Underworld) booked to direct.

    The high-concept series would see Ichabod Crane as a time traveler removed from the Revolutionary War to modern day Sleepy Hollow, a town "ravaged by battles between good and evil." In the last couple of days, the pilot has filled three major roles.

    Orlando Jones (From Dusk Til Dawn 3, MADtv) will play Lt. Frank Williams, a recent transfer to Sleepy Hollow. Interestingly, Jones's character is described as "sternly professional," but he is better known for his comedic roles.

    Katia Winter (Dexter) will play Ichabod Crane's wife and a nurse in the Revolutionary War.

    Relative newcomer Nicole Beharie (Shame) will play detective Abbie Archer, who teams up with Ichabod in modern Sleepy Hollow.

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    Seduction of the InnocentLast summer, I was invited to write an entry for a reference book called Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman.  I had just written a chapterbook on Stephen King and comics (Drawn Into Darkness; look for it at fine eBook retailers everywhere) and I was still gonzo on the subject, so convincing myself to take the assignment took no effort at all.  I had been angling to write about Archie comics – learning that King loved Archie struck me as both incongruous and perfect – but that entry had already been taken.  Then I noticed that no one had taken on Tales from the Crypt; I snapped it up faster than a dervish on a roller coaster. 

    The real-life stories I dug up about EC and the anti-horror comics hysteria were nearly as fascinating as the comics themselves.  In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham published his book Seduction of the Innocent: The Influence of Comic Books on Today’s Youth.  The book eviscerated horror and crime comics, charging that they were a primary cause of juvenile delinquency.  EC publisher, William Gaines, volunteered to appear before the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency… but his dependence on the diet drug Dexedrine and the subcommittee’s predisposition against comics did him – and the horror comics industry – no favors.

    All of this background provides the springboard for Max Allan Collins’ fantastic new crime novel, also titled Seduction of the Innocent.  Analogues of these real-world people and events (Entertaining Comics becomes Entertaining Funnies, Bill Gaines becomes Bob Price, and Wertham is Werner Frederic, etc) churn up their own worst case scenario.  Do comics kill people?  That never happened in real life, even though death threats abounded in the anti-horror comics frenzy.  But here?  Gaines once said, “If someone did something really bad, he usually ‘got it.’ And of course the EC way was he got it the same way he gave it.”  Ironic justice, served up fresh and clever, is at impish play in Collins’ book, as it references a gruesomely infamous EC cover reveling in the aftermath of a hanging. 

    The murder in the middle of Seduction is only one of the clever dodges in the book.  The painted cover is another outstanding piece by Hard Case Crime mainstay Glen Orbik (whose previous work includes Stephen King’s Blockade Billy, The Colorado Kid, and the Cemetery Dance 25th Anniversary Edition of It), drawing you into the book but giving up none of its actual secrets.  The interior art by Terry Beatty is more straightforward, done in the style of classic EC artists like Wally Wood and Jack Kamen.  We’re treated to a smorgasbord of characters – savory and not-so – and enough red herrings to keep readers on their toes, but not so many that things grow confusing.  As in his outstanding Quarry novels, Collins steeps the landscape in vintage crime-fiction color: there are sultry women who prefer their clothes off (and when clothes are on, we are treated to a Spenserian litany of who’s wearing what); old-fashioned Mob bosses and their lunkhead goons; and in the middle, our hero Jack Starr, a recovering alcoholic with an ironclad sense of right and wrong, and a willingness to use his gun when all other options have run out.  The finale reaches back even further, to Agatha Christie-type drawing-room mysteries, in which all the players are present in one place, and our heroes draw out the murderer with cunning and deduction. 

    At the same time, Collins subtly makes the story feel more modern without calling attention to it: black and gay characters appear, to no one’s real shock.  Sexy sirens attract Jack’s attention, but he prefers smart girls.  In fact, women in Seduction of the Innocent hold far more positions of power than a story like this would initially have you believe: there’s a CEO, a psychologist, and a comic-book illustrator who all go toe-to-toe with the men and usually win.  The fact that they’re all smoking hot is incidental.  Almost.  

    Crime Suspense StoriesIn the 1990s, EC Comics worked to bring their mostly moral stories of horror and crime to a new audience, reprinting every issue of Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, and all the others.  Hard Case Crime has much the same agenda: publishing both classic pulp novels long out of print, as well as new novels by today’s best writers in the same vintage style.  Those horror fans who only know Hard Case from its passing trip through Stephen King country with The Colorado Kid (and his upcoming novel, Joyland) are missing out on some exciting, gripping work by Collins – not to mention Charles Ardai, Donald Westlake, and James M. Cain.  Hopefully, Seduction of the Innocent’s background of horror comics and the mania they inspired (as well as the story’s unstoppable pull) will draw horror readers into Hard Case Crime’s slightly different – yet no less bloody – world of guns, women, and hard justice.

    - - -

    Max Allan Collins is the author of dozens of mystery and crime novels, including his deliriously entertaining Quarry series, both in and out of Hard Case Crime.  Seduction of the Innocent is the third book in his Jack and Maggie Starr series – following A Killing in Comics and Strip for Murder– and his first for Hard Case Crime.

    Kevin Quigley is an author whose website,, is one of the leading online sources for Stephen King news, reviews, and information.  He has written several books on Stephen King for Cemetery Dance Publications, including Chart of Darkness, Blood In Your Ears, and Stephen King Limited, and co-wrote the upcoming Stephen King Illustrated Movie Trivia Book. His book, Drawn Into Darkness, explores the world of Stephen King and comic books. His first novel, I’m On Fire, is forthcoming.         

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    Ever dreamed about owning a detailed, life-sized Predator replica to display proudly in your living room? How about if we said it was not only possible (depending on your income, of course), but that you could find one made entirely out of metal? That impossible dream is now becoming reality for some lucky collectors out there – thanks to the Bangkok, Thailand-based artist team known as Kreatworks. 
    These amazing artists dig through piles of junk metal, discarded vehicles and literal mountains of loose hardware to assemble their welded wares, which not only include gigantic renditions of Predators, Aliens, Transformers and Terminators, but also original pieces ranging from steampunk pirates to alien lamps and beautifully macabre fusions of animal skulls with metal gadgetry, like this:
    Obviously each and every piece is a handmade work of art, so expect to shell out some major coin for these wonders. But looking at these things close up, it's not  hard to believe that folks are paying thousands of dollars to have these masterpieces in their homes. It's also no surprise that they sell out almost instantly after posting in the Kreatworks Etsy shop.
    Thankfully they also turn out some smaller pieces that are every bit as gorgeous, and more in line with folks with relatively limited budgets. Take the sick little skull and cute mini-xenomorph shown below, for example. Like all the rest, they're hand-made and gorgeous, so be sure to drop by their shop regularly if you're interested in picking up one of their latest creations.
    For a 360-degree view, here's a clip of their finished life-size Alien statue that just about made me pass out in ecstasy:
    You can watch other videos like this and browse through dozens more designs at the official Kreatworks Facebook page. Be warned, though... in about fifteen minutes you'll be yelling “Take my damn money!”

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    The latest feature film from writer/director Xan Cassavetes (daughter of cinema legend John Cassavetes), whose documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession won acclaim among cult TV fans, Kiss of the Damned is the erotically-charged tale of the relationship between screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes and Pathology) and rogue vampire Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume), which leads to Paolo's transformation into one of the undead and puts them both in jeopardy from Djuna's sinister sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida, Sheitan), who can't control her own predatory impulses.
    If the new red-band trailer from Magnet is any indication, it looks like the film stirs up gothic and modern vampire conventions in a stylish, highly sensual (and kinda kinky) melting pot, with lots of steamy sex and impressive bloodletting... and this gorgeous advance poster, which recalls the sexy bloodsuckers of Jean Rollin, has me completely hooked.
    Kiss of the Damned is slated for theatrical release on May 3rd, but here's a spicy little appetizer to tide you over...


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    the vampire diariesThe Vampire Diaries Episode 415
    “Stand By Me”
    Written By: Julie Plec
    Directed By: Lance Anderson
    Original Airdate: 21 February 2013

    In This Episode...

    Elena is relieved to see that Jeremy was wearing his ring. She takes comfort in this, even as Damon and Stefan whisper that, as one of the five hunters, Jeremy is considered a supernatural creature, and therefore the ring won’t work on him. Damon sends Stefan back home with Elena and Jeremy’s body while he sticks around on the island to find Bonnie.

    Back home, Caroline is shocked to see Stefan carrying in Jeremy’s limp body. Elena instructs him to take Jeremy upstairs, where they lay him in bed and she waits by his side for him to wake. Stefan talks in hushed tones to Caroline, who is in shock. Elena appears and insists that she is not stupid; she is just clinging to hope, however slim. His tattoos disappeared when he died, so Elena is hoping that he is no longer a supernatural and therefore the ring will do its magic. Caroline is desperate to do something, so Stefan sends her to get Meredith. As she is leaving, she smells something strange: the smell of Jeremy decomposing. When Meredith arrives, she explains in clinical terms what is happening and why she needs to take Jeremy and Elena loses it. Stefan has to physically restrain her from killing Meredith. Matt shows up and they cry together and commiserate over dead siblings.

    On the island, Damon can’t find Bonnie. He does, however, find Rebekah and Vaughn. He can’t kill Vaughn, but he can torture information out of him. He admits that he was tracking a nest of vampires through Colorado when Katherine found him. She had a werewolf on the inside (Hayley) who she found in New Orleans. Rebekah decides she is going to go back to New Orleans and track down Katherine - and the cure. (Conveniently, she will be all lined up to appear in the backdoor pilot for The Originals.)

    Elsewhere on the island, Bonnie wakes to discover Shane has healed her stab wound with local herbs, and Silas has healed his broken leg. Bonnie is overwrought when Shane tells her that Jeremy is dead. Shane assures her that Silas will bring him back and she will help with her expression. She just needs to help Shane orchestrate a third massacre. Bonnie is horrified at the thought, but then she trips over what she imagines is Jeremy, begging to be saved, and kind of loses it. Shane calms her down, and convinces her that Silas is all they need. Damon is about to give up and go home to care for Elena while Stefan comes back for Bonnie, when he finds her - and she has a way to help Jeremy. This offers Elena a tiny glimmer of hope.

    Bonnie, Damon, Matt, Elena, Stefan, and Caroline all converge on the Gilbert house, and we get a Rashomon-style tale of what the whole Silas thing is. As Shane explains to Bonnie (back while they were on the island) Katsia, the witch who imprisoned Silas, knew that he would choose death, but still wanted him to suffer, so she created a kind of purgatory for all supernatural beings in the afterlife. As Katsia’s descendant, Bonnie can make that side disappear and allow every supernatural to return. Damon explains this to Stefan with an intense seriousness tinged with fear. As Bonnie relates it to Matt, Caroline, and Elena, this is a great idea, it means all their dead loved ones will be back, and everything will be right as rain. Caroline thinks she is crazy to want to kill 12 people, and Matt is inclined to agree - until she mentions that Vicky would come back. Elena sits there, frozen, as her friends argue amongst themselves. The phone rings, snapping Elena out of her reverie. It is April, asking for Jeremy. A long pause. “Jeremy... can’t come to the phone right now. He’s... he’s dead.” Elena hangs up and goes to Jeremy. She gathers her strength, pulls back the blanket, and sees her brother - dead. The full truth hits her. She wonders how long he has been rotting there and demands Damon bring him downstairs. Everyone backs up while Elena becomes full-on manic. She grabs lighter fluid from beneath the sink and starts dousing the house in it, rambling about how they need a cover story, how she doesn’t want to live here anymore, and, heartbreakingly, how there is no room in the family plot for his body. Elena lights a match as her friends frantically try to calm her down. The match burns down to her fingers, and she instinctively drops it. Damon catches it before it hits the fuel, and Elena collapses into a hysterical mess. “It hurts! Make it stop!” Clearly, she isn’t talking about the match. Stefan encourages Damon to use the sire bond to comfort her. He does - by telling her to turn it off. Stefan is alarmed, and Elena grows stoney and still.

    Matt takes Bonnie home. Shane is waiting for her at her front door. He himself seems a little manic, but Bonnie gets swept up in his energy about Silas being their savior. But Rebekah is still on the island (I have no idea why), and she stumbles over a body. Shane’s body. He’s still alive, but suffering from massive blood loss. Silas seems to have doppelgangered Shane. Yay.

    While Stefan and Damon are outside discussing the merits of Damon’s chosen path to healing, Elena is staring at photos of her and her brother. Damon promises that after a time, he will sire bond Elena back to her humanity. The boys share a borderline-cheesy moment where they say how much they love each other without actually saying they love each other, then go back inside to see Elena with another lit match in her hand. Stefan asks her what if she wants to come back here one day. “I won’t.” She drops the match and the three leave. The fire consumes Jeremy.

    Dig It or Bury It? I am not exactly a person who enjoys emotional TV but this was a gooooood episode.    I am lucky enough to say that I haven’t lost anyone close to me - just grandparents at age-appropriate times, but to me, this felt like an authentic death. In so many TV shows, someone dies, the character cries, and then they move on. A full episode devoted to, essentially, all five stages of grief really felt like an authentic way to approach it. It reminded me a bit of the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where her mom dies. It was handled in much the same way. And there was something even more chilling about the way she just set the house on fire. Not so much for the property loss, but all those little things that one day she will miss. As the fire leapt up around Jeremy’s body, I really wanted to see him sit upright, gasping for breath and realizing he is about to die - again. Is that wrong?

    Dear Diary

    The bright side to all this is that, in the final scenes, as the house is consumed by fire, the camera lingers on a shot of someone’s fucking diary going up in flames. 


    The Vampire Diaries is on hiatus for a few weeks, but when they return, it is Vamps Gone Wild, as Elena turns into a bad girl. Her first task is to eat the opposing team at a cheerleader competition. Seems reasonable.

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    dark skiesIt doesn't take a genius to combine the basic trappings of a standard "haunted house" story with the well-worn convention of "alien invasions," but it's nice to see that some filmmakers are still willing to give it a shot. Although clearly inspired by the recent and endless litany of paranormal-centric horror flicks and a big handful of science fiction films you've probably already seen, Scott Stewart's Dark Skies still works perfectly well as a turn-off-the-lights (and be-willing-to-play-along) piece of sci-fi-sprinkled horror amusement. 
    Those who were turned off by the overt wackiness of Stewart's previous films (2009's Legion and 2011's Priest) may be pleasantly surprised to note that he does a rather professional job of bringing a dash of Poltergeist and a smidgen of Close Encounters to his generally (very) familiar tale of suburban invasion. (Hey, at least the guy borrows from good movies.) And while I hate to keep doling out what sound like backhanded compliments, there's always something to be said for a filmmaker who tries a new direction and finds some degree of success. Much of Dark Skies feels like a rather simple made-for-TV production, but I say there's always room for another "basic" genre mix-up that simply wants to deliver a few well-earned jolts and jitters to a willing audience.
    The premise truly couldn't be much simpler: mom (Keri Russell), dad (Josh Hamilton), and two young sons start to realize that something seriously bizarre is going on inside their house -- kitchen products like to move around on their own, for example -- but neither the local cops nor the home security experts can figure it out. It's almost as if... something can walk right through walls! (dun dun dunnnn) The youngest son, in rather predictable fashion, has a few dream-clouded clues as to who the intruder is, but of course we'll still need three or four more crazy occurrences (including a rather nifty sequence involving suicidal birds) to stretch Dark Skies into a feature-length film. 
    Fortunately the film does offer some assets to counter-balance the almost painfully familiar premise: leads Russell and Hamilton are actually quite strong, bringing a warmth and low-key believability, even if their characters are thinly-drawn and forced to wander through some rather rote proceedings. Dad's out of work, for example, and the older son is just discovering girls. Hardly anything scintillating, screenplay-wise, but both subplots build the characters up rather well. I also appreciated how Stewart managed to keep tricks like "fake jump scares" and dream sequences to a bare minimum. It always helps when a viewer can actually "trust" the action on the screen. 
    Other assets include a surprisingly crisp look (kudos to cinematographer David Boyd), an admirable sense of restraint (and even some legitimate suspense!) in the flick's creepiest moments, and a very welcome appearance by JK Simmons (as the oddball expert who explains everything in very handy fashion near the end)... basically, Dark Skies is a perfectly serviceable weekend rental for people who like horror and sci-fi in equal measure, and are in the mood for something new but familiar, and creepy but not too scary. Given its relatively quick moments of actual horror -- and its surprisingly effective themes about the importance of family -- Dark Skies would actually make for a reasonably solid "family night" horror option. And we can always use a few decent chillers that are OK for kids.


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