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    Sure, they are supposed to be terrifying, carnivorous aliens bent on eating their way through the planet. But these handmade Critters from Critters are just too adorable to hate. About 5" high, they are not quite pocket-sized, but they are the perfect size to put on a desk.

    $24 at Etsy

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    The origins of Swedish death metal unit Entrails date back to the early '90s, when guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist was inspired by the emergence and underground success of death metal bands in that country, including now-iconic acts like Entombed. While several songs were written, their attempts to solidify a demo were never fully realized, and it seemed the band was destined for a quick death. But you can't keep a good monster down... and after nearly two decades, Lundqvist came across the original tapes and realized the material still had potential, finally deciding to give it another shot. The result was a pair of demos which garnered critical praise, convincing Lundqvist he had sired a lethal beast after all. He then assembled a lineup of musicians for the 2010 debut album Tales From The Morgue, followed just a year later with another full-length, The Tomb Awaits, and the hails just kept coming in, heralding the return of the early '90s "Stockholm sound" and blowing away audiences at festivals like Germany's Summer Breeze. So that's our backstory, culminating with the band signing to legendary label Metal Blade Records, who have just released Entrails' third full-length offering, Raging Death.
    The ten tracks the band has laid down here not only reflect the influence of  early-era compatriots Entombed and Dismember, but also long-standing US acts like Autopsy (whom we've featured many times on these pages, and will again), all the while capturing that extreme, ear-mangling distortion that typifies the early Stockholm style, but there's also a distinct nod to early thrash and some raunchy '80s British sound in the mix, as well as an enveloping horror atmosphere. The combined effect comes across well in the opener "In Pieces" (which you can hear at the end of this review), with caustic, larynx-ripping vocals from bassist Joakim Svensson and churning, river-of-lava riffs from Lundqvist and fellow guitarist Mathias Nilsson punched up by stormy beats from Adde Mitroulis to create a wide dynamic range, all wrapped in ominous ambiance.
    Despite that wider spectrum, rest assured the old-school vibe is still there, and emerges triumphant in the cuts "Descend To The Beyond," "Carved To The Bone" and the especially heavy hitter "Cemetery Horrors" which closes the album. As with much of classic death metal, the mighty riff is god, and Entrails' dual guitarists don't disappoint in that department, laying down hooks like there's no tomorrow – whether it's the slower grind of "Bloodhammer,” the gritty groove of "Cadaverous Stench" or the merciless momentum of "Headless Dawn" and "Death League," there are strong and memorable melodic riffs throughout the album, with some solid and often creepy solo work from Nilsson (“In Pieces” sports a particularly spooky example of this), and there's even some potent breakdowns, particularly on tracks like "Chained And Dragged."
    With Raging Death, Entrails manage to call upon the same raw energy that their founder first summoned in the early '90s, and the hookier riffs, haunting solos and occasionally cinematic sound design don't steal that vintage thunder at all; if anything, those elements help keep the material fresh, and the eerie leads, keyboard passages and hot-and-cold dynamics give it an extra infusion of horror. You'll hear what I mean on the single “In Pieces,” which you can spin right here:


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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!


    House_Gold_BonesHouse of Gold and Bones Pt. 2 of 4

    The dream-like comic House of Gold and Bones is back this week with an even more dizzying and strange installment. Corey Taylor (the Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman himself) weaves a tale of a nameless, lost man in a world full of strange landscapes and savage people. This week our hero runs from those who would do him harm and comes upon some help in a dark forest. Here he learns more about "The Conflagration," a strange event that he may have to take part in.
    Bag it or board it up? This is a classic "what the fudge is going on" story. You don't know anything about the world and neither does the character. At this point, I do want some more answers that I'm not getting. I'm beginning to not care about this lost dude in a weird world. As an audience, we need something to hold us down to the character. The artwork, however, is insane and gleefully out there in this issue. Sometimes the character's faces look hideous and deformed, even looking like they were drawn poorly, but that's artist Richard Clark having a go at the dreamlike source material. 
    LobsterJLobster Johnson No. 13
    Lobster Johnson is another richly detailed character from the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. world. Starting as a vigilante detective/murderous crime-stopper in the 1930's, Lobster Johnson went on to die and then become a ghost during Hellboy's time. This comic series sees Johnson while he's still alive and kicking (well, alive and shooting, really). In this issue, he hunts down a hit man and follows him to his boss.
    Bag it or board it up? For all of my B.P.R.D. love, I am shamed to admit that I had never read a Lobster Johnson comic until this one. Holy crap, it's amazing. Get on it. The dude kills mobsters and uses his glove to burn a lobster claw brand onto their heads! What!?
    True_BloodTrue Blood No. 13
    You know the True Blood drill by now, right? You know: the little swamp town full of vampires, pixies, skin-walkers, shape-shifters, and lots and lots of sex. Well now it looks like there's some big trouble going around. A shape shifting goop seems to be taking the form of certain handsome members of the town, and they're marching toward the general population.
    Bag it or board it up?True Blood, in general, isn't really to my taste. But, this comic was cool. A character uses a fire axe to good effect, and the dramatic tension ramps up in this issue. The artwork is interesting, in that everyone looks just like their actor-counterparts, and reminds me of the Buffy comics the way they advance the story. If you like True Blood check it out, but it won't convert anybody.
    Half_DangerHalf Past Danger No. 1
    Oh man, here we go. A group of U.S. soldiers during WWII are skulking around the South Pacific when they take a "short cut" and wander through a swamp. After hearing strange noises, the group is attacked and ravaged by dinosaurs. Yep. Dinosaurs. After an exciting scuffle, we cut to two months later where the general of that group is now a washed-out drunk. But a raven-haired bombshell and a big blonde brute try to recruit him back into action. And a bar fight breaks out. And a martial arts master shows up and starts kicking the crap out of people.
    Bag it or board it up? That's all in issue one! This is my pick of the week, by far. The illustrations are some of the most beautiful and colorful I've ever seen. This is taken seriously, like true pulp should be. There's no winking and nodding to the audience, it's just straight-up crazy adventure. Read this comic or I will sick my dinosaurs and ninjas on you, okay?

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    Production on Tom Six's next installment in his sick saga, Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), began this week, and while the plot is still top-secret, the director has revealed that the sequel will feature a stitched-together monstrosity composed of over five hundred people. So where do you find such a huge collection of captive subjects? A new clue posted by today has the most likely answer, confirming rumors that the film will be set in a prison.
    Their search led to this casting call, which posted the following info: 
    Theatrical, Non-Union Posted: 4/24/2013
    Category Feature Film
    Union Status Non-Union
    Rate 64.00/8
    PRISON INMATES (NON UNION) / Non-Union / "HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3" / Background / Male / All Ethnicities / 18-65
    HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3, a horror film, is looking for gentlemen of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities to play PRISON INMATES starting THURSDAY - MAY 16 in LOS ANGELES. These prisoners will work up to 13 DAYS between MAY 16 and JUNE 6. We will be shooting at a number of actual PRISONS in the LA area. Applicants can be expected to engage in regular prisoner activities like RIOTING, SCREAMING, and FIGHTING. However, this is a HUMAN CENTIPEDE movie. THERE WILL BE SOME SCENES TOWARDS THE END OF THE SHOOT REQUIRING PRISONERS TO BE PART OF THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. Actors will be fully clothed, but will be asked to pose on their hands and knees rear end to mouth. Please do not apply if uncomfortable with this process. Show is NON UNION. Rate is 64.00/8 + Mileage on some far away prison shoot days.
    Rate: 64.00/8
    Shoot Date: 5/16/2013
    Role Added 5/8/2013 7:29 PM
    That seems to confirm the prison rumor... but for now the only officially confirmed cast members are Six himself and the previous two films' villains Dieter Laser and Laurence R. Harvey. 
    More news to come, so stay tuned...

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    The UK Daily Mail has published a haunting new photo series by Dutch photographer Niki Feijen, depicting abandoned houses and buildings whose owners seem to have vanished, leaving most of their possessions still in place and untouched after many years.
    Many of the pictures show beds made, clothes still hanging, dishes, toys and various personal effects in place; in many cases, only the moldy walls and crumbling plaster indicate that the occupants left ages ago.
    Feijen's specialty is “urban exploration,” searching through Europe for abandoned, condemned and otherwise boarded-up houses and buildings. Once inside, the images he captures are often sad, beautiful and even nightmarish.
    This series, from his new book Disciple of Decay, features abandoned family homes left mostly intact, while others show larger buildings and rooms in far worse shape.
    Some of these could be fully-dressed horror movie sets, or seriously awesome album covers... and you wouldn't have to change a thing.
    Be sure to check out the complete gallery at the Daily Mail. You can buy Disciple of Decay at Feljen's website.

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    In a rare interview for Parade magazine marking the release of his new novel Joyland (check out our review here) and the upcoming TV adaptation of Under the Dome, literary legend Stephen King talked about the the scary stories he loved as a kid.
    “I grew up in a house where we didn’t have a TV until I was 10,” King told Parade.“We couldn’t afford one. Books were what we had... and the radio. My mother was a reader, and she read to us. She read us Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was six and my brother was eight; I never forgot it.” He also recalled collecting Classics Illustrated comics, “which were also fairly bloody. I still remember the Oliver Twist one... there was blood all over that thing. Comic books were the closest we had to a visual medium.”
    King went on to reveal that he's seen the first two episodes of Under the Dome, the CBS series adapted from his novel. “It looks good,” he said. “It’s not exactly like the book. It’s like a pogo stick: It hits big set pieces in the book, then bounces in its own direction. So that’s fine. You know what’ll happen is the purists who loved the book will probably scream, ‘Well, this is different and that isn’t there…’ But I think most people are going to like it. I hope they will.” (Check out preview footage from the series here.)
    He also discussed his views on the hot-button issue of guns and gun control, as covered in his essay Guns (available as a Kindle single), and working with John Mellencamp on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,which we cover in this article.

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    katharine isabelleIn the eagerly-awaited new film from the Soska Twins, American Mary, Katharine Isabelle plays Mary, a med student whose tremendous debts and unethical teachers leave her disillusioned with a career she thought she could do good with. But she puts her surgical skills to good use, performing surgeries that traditional doctors would never do, for those in the body modification community.

    We spoke with the lovely Katharine about working with Jen and Sylvia Soska, and how American Mary respects those in the body mod community.

    How did you get involved with American Mary?

    I was sent an email saying that writer-director-identical-twin-horror-movie-chicks are interested in me for their movie. I thought it was a cute schtick but I figured they probably sucked and their movie was terrible. I was just going to read the first couple of pages to say I read it then say “no thanks.” I ended up reading the entire 180 pages on my Blackberry - twice. I was fascinated. I looked up and was like, “What the fuck did I just read?” I was immediately sucked in. It was so well-written, and the character of Mary was so unique to me. It is rare to see a character like that - especially female - that is so intriguing. I immediately said I would do anything.

    I met the girls for sushi at like 6pm, and ended up up hanging with them until like 3am. We just became instant best friends. They are never allowed to do anything without me ever again!

    Was it difficult working with two directors?

    No. They are such a good team, they are always 100% on the same page. If you have a question, as long as you can find one of them, you know the other will be in total agreement. I have worked with co-directors before, where one will say something and the other will say something different, and it can be a little tricky. But they were always on the same page. They will sit at the monitors and someone will ask them a question and they will answer in unison, without talking about it. They inspired everyone with confidence. They are like magical unicorns - they are amazing.

    Without sounding too cheesy, American Mary is very empowering. When shit doesn’t go your way, you make it go your way. Was that fun to play? Is it still difficult to find roles like that?

    Yeah, it’s not all that common to find a female character in film who is that strong, that independent, doesn’t take people’s shit, who just walks around looking hot and fucking people up, but actually has a lot of depth and a lot of character. She is darkly funny and charming in a totally unconventional way. I think she smiles like once in the film. Mary is fairly fake with people because she doesn’t know how to interact with “normal” people normally. It’s hard to find characters like that, and it is scary to play them. I was in love with Mary so much because I understood her, and I wanted everyone else to. We had 15 days to shoot, and I didn’t want to fuck it up. I didn’t want to be given this opportunity, given this character, and fail because I wasn’t able to get across what I felt for her, how much I liked her, and how much I thought other people should like her - even though she has no redeeming qualities! She’s really not that nice. She doesn’t do anything where, on paper, you should like her. But at the end of the day, most people end up loving her.

    Were you familiar with the body modification scene before taking on the role?

    No, I wasn’t any more familiar than the average person on the street. Thankfully, the girls were very kind and brought me everything I needed. They showed it to me and explained it to me instead of letting me wander through the scary world of the internet, where I might be traumatized instead of learning the true art and the true culture of it. Sylvia said, “Whatever you do, do not go home and Google ‘subincised penis.’” I did, and I was immediately like, “Okay, from now on I am going to listen to them when they tell me not to Google something.” [Ed. Note: Of course I had to Google it too. It is most definitely not safe-for-work.]

    The Church of Body Modification was awesome. They were very generous with their time and their skill and their craft, explaining everything to me. I think they were really impressed with how respectful the movie is towards body mods. A lot of times they have been marginalized and pointed at in society, and not treated as artists. I think they were happy to see that [being treated as an expression of art] in a film.

    It does seem that body modification is a really touchy subject for “mainstreamers” so it hasn’t always been portrayed positively.

    Yeah, I think that has happened to them a lot so they are a bit wary to allow people in. Every screening we go to there are body modders there, rooting, and glad to see their subculture reflected to them in a way that is smart and interesting and fun and respectful. 

    Can you talk a little bit about working with the eclectic cast?

    Tristan Risk, who plays Beatrice, is the greatest. She was originally on as the choreographer for the dance sequence. They were having a really hard time casting Beatrice. She had to work until 3am [choreographing] then came in early to audition for them, and she did a full-on burlesque striptease. She might have lit her nipple daisies on fire. She is so perfect in the role. The poor girl had to be there four hours earlier than anyone else to get her prosthetics on. She was also my coach for the fantasy sequence where I do the striptease. I’m terrible at dancing, burlesque, striptease, anything like that. So she was perfect: “Crawl like a tiger! Little Mermaid hair flip!” 

    Paul Anthony, who plays Rat is one of my dear friends; one of my best friends, Sean Amsing, played the security guard. Twan Holliday, who played Lance is one of those guys that a lot of people would cross the street if they saw him coming. He’s huge, tattooed, has a lot of hair, and is just really intimidating. Onscreen and off, he is the most genuine, sweet, and adorable teddy bear of a human being. We had an amazing cast come together for it.

    Was it hard to keep that dark atmosphere once the cameras started rolling? It sounds like you were all one big happy family.

    We were. We only had 15 days to shoot. Everyone was there for little to no money, everyone was busting their asses to do what they could for the girls. The moment you meet them, you just fall head-over-heels in love with them and you want to do everything you can to help them. But I don’t think the movie is that dark, or depressing or upsetting. I think it is charming and hilarious! If people don’t laugh, we get upset!

    Oh, I agree with you. I just think that the subject matter is something that people are so uncomfortable with.

    Yeah. I remember at the beginning, in a production meeting, Sylvia stood up and, in a very commanding voice said that not a single person, whether it be the dancers or the body modders, they were generous enough to work on our film and allow us into their subculture, not a single derogatory statement was to be made or even thought about them. No matter what the person’s position was, they would be off the fucking set sooner than you could snap your fingers. There was absolute, zero-tolerance for that. If you read the script and had any kind of asshole-ish thing to say, you probably wouldn’t have done the movie. No one was disrespectful.

    We were rehearsing the dance sequence stuff in an old strip club in Vancouver. Tristan strips down to a thong and nothing on top, and the poor crew guys are trying so hard not to look! “Oh yeah, look at this nail in the corner, we really have to jam it back in!” Tristan is fabulous and she wouldn’t have been offended, but everyone was trying so hard to be respectful.

    Creative, entertainment-types - especially in horror - are much more relaxed about that kind of thing.

    They are definitely not a repressed group of people. The girls and I... we don’t know where our offensive limits are. We don’t know what anyone could do to offend us. They treat everyone with so much respect that no one ever felt anything but completely loved and accepted.

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    sleepy hollow

    It is hard to get excited about Sleepy Hollow when you hear the premise: Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman are transported to modern-day Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod teams with a local cop to uncover a National Treasure-like mystery in order to stop the apocalypse. It sounds pretty ridiculous. With only the pilot to judge on, I am not prepared to make a final call, but I will admit that I was more engaging and less ridiculous than the logline would suggest.

    Ichabod Crane wakes in a cave, 250 years after being wounded during the Revolutionary War. The Headless Horseman has been “resurrected” too, and wastes no time killing the sheriff in his pursuit to get a horse. Ichabod, found wandering in the street, is immediately considered the prime suspect. After an interrogation and polygraph leave the police no closer to an arrest, it is pretty clear that Ichabod is insane and needs to be committed. The sheriff’s partner, Abby, is the only one inclined to believe Ichabod after relatively minor unexplained incident in her childhood eventually turned her sister insane.

    Ichabod’s wife, Katrina, burned as a witch in 1792, comes to Ichabod in a dream and lays out the rest of the series’s plot. She was indeed a witch, part of a coven sworn to fight evil. When Ichabod beheaded the horseman, the only way she could save him was to bind him and the Horseman in blood. Ichabod was hidden in a cave for his protection. When someone resurrected the Horseman, Ichabod was part of the deal. Now he and Abby are tasked with protecting the Horseman’s pickled head, and the secrets to something-or-other lie in George Washington’s bible. If he doesn’t get his head, he can’t raise the other three horsemen and bring about the apocalypse. That’s right: the Headless Horseman is Death, the first of the Four Horsemen.

    It’s like the more I describe of the show, the more ridiculous it sounds. And yet, after watching it, it wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great, but I have seen a lot worse. The biggest thing the show has going for it is the look. It is very cinematic, atmospheric, and “looks” expensive. Even with the pilot, which is not final and not ready for air, it was just nice to look at. Len Wiseman, of the Underworld franchise, directed the pilot, and I have always found him a solid director.

    The other strong point Sleepy Hollow has is that its cast really sells the ridiculous premise. The cast, for their part, is made up of mostly unknowns (or little-knowns): Nicole Beharie, who plays Abby, was in the low-budget thriller Apartment 4E and the recent Jackie Robinson movie 42. British actor Tom Mison, who plays Ichabod, has largely played in UK television shows. They come with no baggage of well-known roles, and frankly don’t have much of a reputation to ruin.

    The show is definitely flawed. I am not a fan of time-travel in general, but I especially can’t stand people from the past being dropped unceremoniously into the future (or rather, our present). This always leads to “comical” instances of the time traveler trying to come to grips with their new surroundings - but it is never actually funny. One of the cops actually answers Ichabod’s question of “Where am I?” with “The question isn’t where... but when.” I almost turned the TV off after that douchery. 

    I will tune in when the season starts (in part for you, dear readers) but I don’t foresee Sleepy Hollow being a runaway hit. If we can move away from the time-travel conceit and make it about a supernatural treasure hunt, I can get behind that.

    Sleepy Hollow debuts this fall on Fox.

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    Ridley Scott's original classic Alien recently turned 34 years old, and to mark the occasion we want to share this excellent bit of news: model & collectible company Round 2 has faithfully reproduced MPC's 9” Alien model kit, which was first produced at the time of the film's release in 1979. Along with the coveted Kenner 18” Alien figure and other movie tie-ins from that year (most of which were pulled rather quickly off the market), the MPC kit is remembered fondly by many genre fans and builders, has been a sought-after treasure for collectors ever since.
    Jeff Saylor at posted several amazing images of Round 2's reproduction, which not only recreates MPC's original moldings, which AMT/Ertl also did in the late '90s, but also restores the vintage box art and hand-drawn instruction sheets from 34 years ago.
    While it's not as detailed as many modern vinyl kits, it does have nice articulation (the arms and head move; the infamous inner jaw is retractable) and it's a fairly easy build (Skill Level 2, age 10+), with only seven steps to complete. It even includes a clear head dome, which with some care can be painted to be partially translucent like H.R. Giger's movie monster itself.
    Round 2 will release the Alien kit later this month. Drop by their site for updates, and be sure to check out Jeff's photo gallery at

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    Serious buzz has been circulating about the latest screen adaptation of Stephen King's debut novel Carrie– the third to date, if you include the TV movie – which is headed to theaters this fall (it was pushed back from March). To further fuel anticipation, Sony Pictures is now teasing the film with the new Tumblr page, featuring the following full-motion poster depicting the bloody visage of star Chloë Grace Moretz:
    Carrie is now slated to premiere on October 18th. The trailer hit theaters and the web last month, and you can watch it right here:

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    If you missed the 2010 release of Charlemagne: The Sword and the Cross, a symphonic metal concept album featuring Sir Christopher Lee as lead vocalist in the title role (check out our review of that epic here), you may be surprised to learn that the opera-trained genre legend is no stranger to the world of heavy metal. Lee has lent his operatic vocals to many other albums, including several by the band Rhapsody of Fire, and even released a heavy metal Christmas album! The sequel, which arrives today on Lee's 91st birthday, is being described as his most horns-worthy musical project of all.
    Charlemagne: The Omens of Death continues the historical saga chronicling the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (Lee's distant ancestor), and includes tracks like “Massacre of the Saxons,” “The Devil’s Advocate” and “The Ultimate Sacrifice.” While the first album was more European-style symphonic rock, Sir Lee says the follow-up is “one hundred per cent heavy metal... I’m not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely heavy metal.” Just when you thought this man could't possibly be any more awesome.
    The new album features award-winning guitarist Hedras Ramos, and was arranged by Judas Priest lead guitarist Richie Faulkner, so it definitely comes with a high metal pedigree. “Some of the tracks didn’t have any music at all and were just Sir Christopher singing his melodies,” Faulkner said. “Most of the songs were already there, but they needed riffs, drum parts and musical parts that reflected what the guys wanted.”
    Stay tuned for our feature review of Charlemagne: The Omens of Death this week... but in the meantime, give this preview medley a spin:

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    Injustice: Gods Among Us shares Mortal Kombat DNA in more ways than just its fighting mechanics: similar to Netherrealm’s last fighter, the game is being enhanced post-release with a quartet (possibly more) of super-powered pugilists to flesh out the experience.

    The first of these is an absolute doozy, being none other than the Main Man himself, Lobo.  First created in 1983, Lobo grew to massive popularity in the ‘90s where he was reimagined as a bounty hunting space biker who murdered, maimed, and mutilated everyone from his own bastard children to Santa Claus.  His R-rated antics had to be slightly toned down for the T-rated Injustice, but the spirit of the character is as strong as ever.

    Lobo sits in a strange place for the brawler vs. technical fighter, mixing up shotgun-powered ranged attacks with up-close grapples.  He’s not quite Bane in his brutality, but he’s also not as nimble as Green Arrow.  He’s very fun, however, and very balanced to play as, and his trademark attitude is in full effect.  Executing Lobo’s super move shows the Last Czarnian running over his opponent in his “Hawg,” before catching them in the space-bike’s exhaust and flipping them the (censored) bird, a pitch-perfect gag that had my inner teenager laughing heartily.

    Lobo is now available for Injustice:Gods Among Us for 500 MSP/$4.99, or as part of the Season Pass which includes all four DLC characters. 

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    This charming little music video spoofs The Walking Dead and offers the walking dead some advice on how to get along in the world when there are "so many dumb ways to die." For example, if you need a meal, the song will advise you to follow Shane because "he'll shoot his friend and leave him as bait."

    What makes it even stranger is that it is based on this adorable (and surprisingly graphic) animated video created by (of all people) Melbourne Australia's Metro Train system.

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    If you're a frequent visitor to these pages (of course you are, right?), you've no doubt seen many thousands of words dedicated to the output of Skinny Puppy, one of the most revered teams in the history of dark electronic music, with a three-decade-spanning body of work that includes multiple landmarks in the industrial, dance and experimental genres. After a lengthy hiatus, the band's core members Ogre (aka Kevin Ogilvie) and cEvin Key (aka Kevin Crompton) reunited in 2003 and returned to the studio along with the talented Mark Walk for the acclaimed album The Greater Wrong of the Right, and with only a brief hitch due to label issues (you can learn all about that and more in our in-depth interview with Ogre here), that core trio has been serving up intense, chilling and ultra-heavy records ever since. Their latest full-length Weapon continues the band's post-millennial focus on troubling social and political issues, but with a darker, more aggressive sound that calls back to the band's early days.
    As a lifelong fan of Skinny Puppy's music, I'm naturally a bit biased, so I'll just put that on the table first. But seriously, Weapon is a powerful record on many levels. As the title suggests, the lyrical focus is the weapon as a symbol of human nature, with these ten tracks forming a loose concept album reflecting on the role of weapons and warfare in American culture. “The human animal is a weapon,” Ogre explains. “Every action and thought, conceived then carried out; whether political, physical or spiritual, has the potential to cause harm and misery; just as the same action, not underwritten with fear and misinformation, but carried by only positive intent would have the opposite effect.” That chilling perspective of human-as-weapon helps paint an image of a near-future dystopia, where humankind must confront its self-spawned monsters of destruction – not only weapons, but nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, diseases and other environmental dangers. But while Weapon, like most of SP's best output, is a message-driven album, it's also a crushing musical powerhouse; as a character points out in David Cronenberg's Videodrome,“It has a philosophy... and that's what makes it dangerous.”
    From the opening beats of “wornin,” I was assured the band's gritty, exploratory origins have not been forgotten; since their formation in the early '80s, SP has been expert at constructing off-kilter rhythmic patterns, twisting and mangling beats without ever losing sight of a driving, danceable core – and this album stays true to that spirit, with much of the vintage synth vibe intact. "We had some talk about doing an album with only the tools available at that earlier period of '83,” Ogre revealed. “What became clear, however, was a need to get back to simple and direct songwriting with strong abstract themes that correlate to the deeper concepts within the recording.” Embracing the proto-Puppy approach, Weapon dials back much of the digital sound manipulation that Ogre began seriously exploring in his solo work (along with Mark Walk), and which developed into a major component of the band's post-reunion style. Ogre's vocals come through clean and mostly unfiltered over the pulsing, hissing bass and beats of "illisiT," reminding me of the power of his voice as an instrument in itself; he doubles and drops into a lower register for "saLvo," accompanied by fizzing synth harmonics for a groove reminiscent of the band's groundbreaking releases Bites and Remission, wrapping with a creepy pitched-down outro for a perfectly gothic touch. That retro texture is even more evident in "solvent," with matching high and low synth octaves remarkably similar to “Cage,” the b-side to their 1987 single “Chainsaw.”
    The tone lightens a bit for the more melodic "gLowbeL," carried on a bouncing carnival organ pattern with lo-fi chorus samples, but it's still a spooky piece, with some glitchy, chaotic percussion tricks; "plasiCage” is another melodic entry, but with a more minimalist structure and heavier beat distortion. The rhythms get even grittier in "paragUn," which peaks in a crushing chorus; even more massive is "tsudanama," with an earth-shaking kick pattern that is without a doubt one of the band's most relentlessly tough beats (and my absolute favorite track on the album). The funked-up "survivalisto" sports one of the record's hookiest synth bass lines, countered with Ogre's coarse, threatening whisper delivery in the verses, and the album closes on a suitably cinematic coda with "terminal," a warm, densely layered wash of smooth synth pads, sampled choruses and light but intricate beats, rising to join and finally assimilate Ogre's pensive melodic lead.
    Weapon is a potent, crackling fusion of Skinny Puppy's straightforward early-era song structures and their highly topical postmodern experimentation, as always wrapped in a shroud of horror imagery and dark-future atmosphere that has always been one of the band's greatest strengths; that emphasis on mood and intense emotional content has kept their music fresh and shocking for over thirty years, and endears them to their fellow horror lovers. This record is a must-have for any serious SP fan, and any collector of dark experimental music. It's available today via Metropolis records (including a vinyl edition), and all the major online retailers. Go get it!

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    Coolest. Costume. Ever. Sure, anyone can dress like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, with a striped sweater, fedora, and a knife glove. But now you can spice it up with this audio-animatronic sweater of souls

    The "Chest of Souls" sweater will apparently be available from UK costume supplier Signature Costumes at some point, but details are elusive. It will cost you about US$135 whenever it is available.

    For more soul-torturing fun, check out the Nightmare on Elm Street soul pizza.

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    FEARnet’s REAPERreunion special was shot on Wednesday, April 24, at the Medusa Lounge in Los Angeles. In attendance for the special—hosted by TV and web personality Angie Greenup—were series stars Ray Wise, Tyler Labine and Bret Harrison, as well as Rick Gonzalez, Ken Marino, Christine Willes and series creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas.

    The reunion special will air tonight, Tuesday, May 28, setting the stage for REAPER’s FEARnet debut on Tuesday, June 4, at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, as part of the Network’s Twisted Comedy block, which also features the FEARnet original half-hour comedy series HOLLISTON. Additionally, the special will be available for viewing on the FEARnet website starting Friday, May 31st, and VOD on Saturday, June 1st. It will air again on the Network on Tuesday, June 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET. FEARnet has licensed both seasons of the hour-long series, for a complete 31 episode order.

    Four years later, the wildly popular cult hit still enjoys a rabid fanbase—many of whom feel the series was cancelled much too soon. These same fans will be delighted to see their favorite stars brought together, once again, as the amiable cast openly discusses many behind-the-scenes anecdotes and stories from their time on set. The cast’s favorite memories—such as Sock’s lusty encounter with Gladys; the creators’ insider info that comedic icon Louis C.K. originally auditioned for the part of the Devil; and whether or not the team would be open to a Kickstarter campaign to resurrect REAPER, are just a few of the things fans can expect to glean from the special.

    “I’m so happy that FEARnet is doing this,” said Ray Wise, who played the Devil on REAPER. “It really warms my heart having us all back together again.”

    The quirky series focuses on the life of Sam Oliver (Harrison), a college drop-out who, on his 21st birthday, learns that he now must work as a bounty hunter for the Devil (Wise), as part of a deal made many years ago when Sam’s parents offered up their firstborn son in exchange for good health for the ailing father. Tyler Labine (TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL) and Rick Gonzalez (COACH CARTER) play Sam’s slacker friends who help him in his new secret double-life of ‘reaping’ souls, using a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, as well as other modern household items.


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    If there was ever a mythology that seemed tailor-made for a horror film franchise, it’s the one Clive Barker created in his novella The Hellbound Heart. Barker must have thought so as well, as the film version, Hellraiser, marked his directing debut. Hellbound: Hellraiser II pushed beyond the original story, and despite a few problems it managed to recognize, and capitalize on, the promise contained in Barker’s original piece.
    Then came Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and the wheels began to come off. As the series progressed to the fourth, fifth, and sixth films (and more after that, although I haven’t cared to keep track at this point), this rich and promising mythology got bent, scraped and bruised by a succession of hacks who turned in one direct-to-video disaster after another. It seemed that everyone who was getting money to make a Hellraiser movie was missing the point; they kept trying to turn Pinhead into some avenging, crusading demon out to punish the sinful. What they didn’t see was that, in the beginning, the Cenobites (yes, there are more of them than just Pinhead) viewed the pain and suffering they provided as a gift, a reward, a pleasure reserved for those determined enough to call them.
    Hollywood seems to have forgotten that. Thankfully, BOOM! Studios has not.
    Hellraiser_BoomIn 2011, BOOM! put writer Christopher Monfette together with Clive Barker and gave them a new venue to explore the Hellraiser mythos – a new, ongoing comic book series. They were joined by artist Leonardo Manco, and together the trio sought to tell a story that would incorporate elements from the original novella and the creatively successful entries of the film series – i.e., the first two movies – while creating something new that would continue to fulfill that mythology’s potential. 
    That initial series went 20 issues before it was replaced by a mini-series called Hellraiser: The Road Below (written by Brandon Seifert with art by Haemi Jang), which was followed by a new series called Hellraiser: The Dark Watch (Seifert with artist Tom Garcia) that is still going strong. Throughout these changes the story continues to follow threads laid out in those early works. 
    I’m not one to get into a lot of spoilers so I’m not going to spell out the plot here, but there are a few things worth touching on. In the first issues of BOOM!’s first series, we get a truer characterization of Pinhead – he’s a high priest of Hell, and he’s obtained his position because he absolutely believes in the truth and integrity of what he does. It’s not as simple as punishing evil-doers; he views the gifts he provides as too pure, too holy to be bestowed on just anyone. He’s not satisfied with the victims he has access to and he’s grown bored with his role, and that boredom leads him to Hell’s highest ranks where he demands new opportunities.
    Change he wants, and change he gets, but just what those changes are I’ll leave for you to discover. Suffice to say his demands bring him back in contact with the one human who ever managed to intrigue him: young Kirsty Cotton, who survived her first encounters with the Cenobites but was forever transformed by them. What happens next has caused rejoicing in some fans and pure outrage in others, and it seems to be one of those creative decisions (made, I should point out, with Barker’s complete involvement and approval) for which there is no middle ground.
    It’s a daring direction to take, and I applaud the creators for taking the chance, and for really running with it. How it will ultimately play out is anybody’s guess, but hopefully they’ll continue to figure out smart ways to carve up the status quo. For me, it’s enough to have a property that at least understands the dark heart of the Hellraiser story, and is unafraid to explore it fully. If you’re expecting to read about a Pinhead who is basically a hellbound superhero, you might want to turn your attention elsewhere. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging and more in line with Barker’s nasty original vision, then you’ve come to the right place.
    They have such sights to show you…
    Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand. 

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  • 05/28/13--13:00: Cannes 2013 Horror Wrap-up

    The Cannes Film Festival, arguably the most important showcase for international cinema of the year, just wrapped up on the Riviera with Blue is the Warmest Color winning the coveted Palme D'Or and Bruce Dern (Nebraska) and Berenice Bejo (The Past) winning Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively. Typically heavy on dramatic fare, Cannes is never one of the best festival markets for horror premieres, although a lot of international sales do happen on and off the competition circuit of the fest. It's not like South by Southwest or even Sundance, where one can be assured that horror is going to play a prominent of the buzz coming out of the festival.  However, all is not lost for horror fans looking for a sneak peek of what's lurching over the arthouse horizon. From names major (Jim Jarmusch, Takashi Miike) and minor (Ruairi Robinson, Jim Mickle), the 2013 Cannes audience were treated to some blood and guts with their croissants. 
    Arguably the most broadly commercial horror film to premiere at Cannes, Ruairi Robinson's The Last Days on Mars stars Liev Schrieber, Elia Koteas, Romola Garai, and Olivia Williams, and falls into one of the least populated genres left in film: the sci-fi zombie movie. Science fiction has long explored what would happen if dangerous life was found on other planets (Ridley Scott did it just last year in Prometheus), but what if said life turned people into the undead? A bacterium is found on the first manned mission to Mars and brought back to Earth even though it makes crew members into something very unpleasant and very hungry for brains. Filmed on a low budget and with partial funding from the Irish Film Board, this could be one of the indie horror hits of the year (although that year could be 2014 since we never know exactly how long it will take Cannes films to make the jump across the pond).
    Leave it to someone as genre-hopping as Jim Jarmusch to bring a vampire horror flick to Cannes as he did this year with Only Lovers Left Alive, starring the perfectly-paired Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. The fantastic actors play Adam and Eve, a pair of bloodsuckers who have been in love for centuries but now live on other sides of the world -- Eve in Tangiers with an immortal Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) and Adam in Detroit because, well, it makes sense that a vampire would live in a nearly-dead city. Jeffrey Wright and Mia Wasikowska co-star in a film that's reportedly very Jarmusch in its pace. In other words, expect more scenes of Adam and Eve sitting around trying to solve the boredom that must come with centuries of time to kill than actual horror. Jarmusch has tackled unexpected genres before with fascinating results (Ghost Dog, Dead Man) so, whether it's great or awful, Only Lovers Left Alive should be one of the most interesting vampire movies in years.
    It broke through at Sundance, but it's a testament to the quality on display in Jim Mickle's stellar We Are What We Are that the remake of the 2010 Mexican cannibal flick also made the cut at Cannes. Mickle's gothic retelling of the story of a family who thinks eating flesh has saved them from tragedy features great performances all around, especially from its female leads (itself a rarity in modern horror), and Mickle's newly-advanced eye for composition. It’s a beautiful, melancholy piece of work that really lingers. Darkly humorous, perversely grotesque, and unforgettable, Mickle's flick should find a grateful audience when it's released late this Summer stateside.
    Takashi Miike's Shield of Straw may not be a straightforward horror movie, but the prodigious creator of such influential films as Audition and Ichi the Killer always draws attention in the horror world, at least from Eli Roth, and so his gangster epic seems worth a mention. Sadly, almost every report coming out of screenings of Straw was that this tale of five police officers transporting a notorious child murderer was a serious misstep for Miike, typically forgiven for disasters since he almost always has another movie in production already. Response was similarly divided (and nearly disappointing) for a film that, like Straw, couldn’t be called straight-up horror but features the nearly-trademark graphic violence of its director, Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives.
    One final film that might not traditionally land in the horror genre but sounds pretty horrific is J.C. Chandor's All is Lost, featuring a comeback performance from Robert Redford. The iconic star plays a man trying to travel across the Indian Ocean on his own only to be hit by a shipping container and start taking on water. With almost no dialogue, All is Lost sounds about as harrowing as Open Water and received nearly unanimous praise at Cannes when it premiered last week. It's an unexpected surprise from a festival that has gone somewhat predictably.
    Finally, there are the foreign horror films that simply may never make it to U.S. shores but could pop up in arthouse runs or on DVD somewhere down the road. Critics on the Croisette were talking about Germany's Nothing Bad Can Happen, about a young man who joins a violent cult; Mexico's ultra-violent Heli, about a family who fall into the torture-filled world of the drug scene south of the border that became the surprising winner of the Best Director prize on awards night; the Kickstarter-funded Blue Ruin from the director of Murder Party; the Dutch thriller Borgman; and the insane-sounding Raze, starring Zoe Bell as one of two women who kidnapped and forced to fight 50 other female combatants with their bare hands. My money's on the one who rode the car in Death Proof.

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    Sure, most nerds are foaming at the mouth for the new Superman movie, but for me (and I am guessing a lot of you) it is all about Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro's giant robots vs. giant monsters epic.

    In their newest issue, British movie magazine Empire has a huge spread on Pacific Rim, including an article penned by del Toro, behind-the-scenes photos, and some beautiful concept art. was kind enough to scan a few images for those of us who don't know where to buy paper books and magazine anymore.

    pacific rim

    pacific rim

    pacific rim

    pacific rim

    Pacific Rim hits theaters July 12th.

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    I'm not sure which part of this story is stranger: the fact that someone is remaking Leprechaun or the fact that it is being made by someone whose biggest claim to fame is appearing on a reality TV show.

    leprechaunFirst, the remake. Lionsgate and WWE Studios have teamed to reboot Leprechaun, the insane cult classic which launched sequels that sent the leprechaun to space and da hood. Newcomer Harris Wilkinson is writing the script, and WWE superstar Hornswaggle will star as the leprechaun. Details on the reboot are being kept under wraps, so I am assuming that it will be more serious than the original.

    Next, the director. Zach Lipovsky. Lipovsky started as an actor in a handful of Canadian TV shows (including an episode of Goosebumps) before transitioning to digital and visual effects. In 2007, he won On the Lot, a short-lived Fox reality show in which aspiring filmmakers compete for a development deal with DreamWorks. Lipovsky won and has made a handful of TV movies for DreamWorks.

    Now he is remaking Leprechaun. It remains to be seen whether or not this will be a boost to Lipovsky's career, or merely a lateral move.

    Source: The Wrap

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