Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gory Gear: NecroLites Candles


For those of us that surround ourselves with the decadently darker aesthetics in life, NecroLites seems to have been specifically created to cater to our wants and needs! NecroLites create richly regal candles for those of us that prefer life on the dark side (or perhaps like to dabble in it from time to time). One of the many amazing things about this company is that they use only the finest of eco-friendly ingredients and they hand make each and every one of their candles. All of the candles are made using natural soy/beeswax instead of synthetic waxes and only essential oils are used to create the tantalizing scents. These scents are never overpowering or artificial smelling, but rather lightly accented with deep, sensual scents.

Speaking of scents, NecroLites has a dizzying selection of different candles that come in a variety of exotic scents. Rich, earthy scents designed to invoke an atmosphere of dark enlightenment are featured in NecroLites’ Black Arts collection. These include Black Magic, Cloven Hoof, Deadly Nightshade, Dark Communion and Dragon’s Blood. Centuries-old scents used in temples and on altars for millennia to soothe and inspire are featured in the Sacred Scents collection, including White Sage, Nag Champa, Transcendence, Neroli de Luna and Carnal Inclinations. In NecroLites’ Beyond the Grave collection, a decadent array of sensual scents are showcased for setting an alluringly dark mood to match your own dark aesthetic. Featured in that collection are the scents Wallachia, Akhkharu, Fragrant Decay, Reawakening and Hellfire Honey.

The candles themselves are gothically gorgeous in a variety of colors and come with beautifully lettered labels emblazoned with a skull emblem. The scents, as mentioned before, are absolutely amazing and will lightly but fragrantly scent your entire home. For those of us that wouldn’t be caught dead in a bright and chipper Yankee Candle store but still crave the ambiance-setting glow of a flickering candle, NecroLites is perfect for creating a darker ambiance!

Currently, all NecroLites candles are handmade at the time of order. That means that each and every time you will receive a unique candle that hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for months. Also, custom orders are welcomed, so if you have another scent in mind, do not hesitate to contact them and they will try to accommodate your request.

Whether you are looking for ritualistic candles for the dark arts or just looking to create a more entrancing ambiance in your home, Necrolites is the perfect place for people of a darker persuasion to incite their olfactory senses.

As their tagline goes, “Join the Dark Side. We have candles.” I couldn’t have spoken it better myself…

UPDATE: Unfortunately, it looks like this company has gone out of business as their website is no longer up :(

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dead and Gone (2008)


It seems that the last few months haven’t favored me with very many good indie films. Perhaps I just haven’t seen enough (or seen the right ones), but I really think there has been a decrease in quality lately. So when I set out to watch Dead and Gone, another independently-helmed film, I didn’t have high expectations. In fact, I was a little apprehensive about the film, especially after seeing its pretty generic artwork.

Dead and Gone started out clich├ęd enough, with a crazed man in a remote cabin killing off his entire family…and then we flash forward several years later to hunky boy toy Jack (Quentin Jones) moving into the same decrepit cabin with his comatose sugar mama, Frankie. Frankie was once a big-time Hollywood executive and promised to make Jack a big star, but right after they got married she had a freak plastic surgery accident and has been in a coma ever since. What money medical bills didn’t eat up her family took, so with bills mounting Jack fled to the only place he had left…a remote cabin he had won in a poker match. What Jack didn’t realize was the cabin’s macabre history. With his only visitors being a pretty redheaded constable named Kate (Gillian Shure) and a hick delivery boy (Ben Moody), Jack starts to go a little stir crazy. He believes Frankie is still conscious and has been faking the coma all along. He smothers her with a pillow, but even after death she haunts him. Nothing can stop these appearances by her, where she taunts and teases Jack more and more until he slips further and further into dementia.

Yup, this is another “slowly driven mad” movie, but it’s not at all typical. Dead and Gone takes a much more darkly comedic tone than most psychological indie thrillers. The characters are slightly kooky and a bit over the top, including cameos by Kyle Gass of Tenacious D as a televangelist and Felissa Rose as Jack’s on-the-side girlfriend. There is plenty of black humor to keep you interested during the film’s slow burning first half, but the pace really picks up when Jack snaps and starts killing people, all to the tune of Frankie’s wiseass remarks.

Director Yossi Sasson has really created a different little film here despite the small budget. He utilizes strange angles and a dank and depressing atmosphere to set the sinister, nightmarish mood of the film. Though the story, written by Harry Shannon, doesn’t seem all that unique on the surface level, if you dig a little deeper you will see that it features some hilarious dialogue and a very dark plot with a few twists here and there.

Indie films aren’t necessarily known for their stellar acting, but here the cast holds up fairly well. Quentin Jones as the spiraling-out-of-control Jack does a fantastic job (and he’s a real treat to look at, too). Kathrine Bates works wonders as Frankie, delivering her lines with a knack for comedic timing. Gillian Shure seemed a little over-eager in her portrayal of Kate, but if my leading man looked like Quentin Jones, I’d be awfully eager, too! The rest of the cast does a commendable job, just be prepared for some over-the-top performances throughout the kooky story.

As for the gore, there is plenty of that if you’re patient and can wait until the second half of the film. That’s when limbs go flying every which way! Be warned, though, while practical effects are wisely used most of the time, there is some questionable CGI used that may be a distraction to the film. Still, the practical effects are solid and the makeup effects on the dead corpses look amazing as well. To boot, there are even a few scenes that’ll make you jump!

I haven’t seen very many good indie flicks lately, but Dead and Gone has certainly broken my slump with its fun, darkly comedic story and blood-drenched finale. If you’re looking for a solid indie flick to check out, this is IT!

Available on Amazon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brutal Massacre (2008)


Director Stevan Mena greatly impressed me with his first film, Malevolence, so I was eager to check out his follow-up, Brutal Massacre: A Comedy. Exactly as the title states, Brutal Massacre is a comedy, filmed like a faux-documentary on the making of a horror film. This is definitely not your traditional horror movie, but more like a mockumentary along the lines of Christopher Guest’s Best in Show. Despite this, the film seems tailor-made for horror fans. It features a stellar cast of horror veterans (David Naughton, Ellen Sandweiss, Ken Foree), a very dry sense of humor and an engaging story line.

After making numerous horror films like I’ll Take the Ring Back…And the Finger Too, Bowel Movement and The Fish that Ate Flesh, director Harry Penderecki (David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London) is a bit of a has-been. He is still big at conventions, but often gets hassled for the violence in his films and the supposed “curse” that brings death to every production he’s worked on. Despite all this, he is ready to make a comeback with his new film, Brutal Massacre. As a documentarian (Vincent Butta) follows him, Penderecki begins the process of securing financing, while his assistant director Jay (Brian O’Halloran of Clerks, Dogma, Clerks II) scouts locations and finds a special FX coordinator and his casting director (Betsy Baker, Evil Dead) tries to find actors who can actually ACT. His producer Natalie (Ellen Sandweiss), meanwhile, is trying to keep the production on-budget.

The crew finally secures a location at a run-down farmhouse of a man named Krenshaw (Gunnar Hansen, Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and the remaining cast and crew converge on location to shoot the film…only to be met with mishap after kooky mishap while filming.

Brutal Massacre is exactly what Fangoria called it…Spinal Tap for the horror set! Serious horror fans (especially those interested in what goes on behind the cameras) will definitely dig this film! The humor, performances and storyline all work and make Brutal Massacre a must-see!

First off, the performances across the board were great! There were even cameos by people that horror fans will have no trouble recognizing (among them Tony Timpone of Fangoria Magazine and director/producer Mick Garris) and a large part of the cast have their roots in horror films. David Naughton was terrific as director Harry Penderecki. Though he was clueless at times and made questionable decisions, you still couldn’t help but root for him as he tries to accomplish his dream. I loved Ellen Sandweiss as the hard-nosed producer and Brian O’Halloran did a great job as Jay, the AD. We even get to see a softer side of Ken Foree as he plays the grip Carl who longs for a 9-to-5 job. Everyone’s performance was great, and their characters were fleshed out enough for the audience to be able to relate to them, but the actors were also given enough room to make the characters their own.

Secondly, the storyline about the hardships of filming an independent horror movie really hit close to home. I watch a ton of independent horror, and the situations that the Brutal Massacre cast got into seem totally believable! I’m not sure if writer/director Stevan Mena culled some of these from his own personal experiences, but I’m sure any independent filmmaker can relate to the shenanigans that ensue on the Brutal Massacre production. We get an actor who holds the final reel hostage, a stolen rental van, a disappointing special FX “artist,” an actress who will only give one take of nudity, heckling locals, out of focus nipples, actors who quit and police involvement, among other things.

Lastly, the humor is bone dry and played pretty straight. It may not be for everyone, but it was downright hilarious to me. There were some parts were the laughs felt a little forced, but these were usually few and far between. One thing that didn’t really click was Penderecki’s existential crisis towards the end of the film when he wonders if he should just quit the film business and give up his dream. This threw off the wacky mood of the film a bit, but not enough to ruin it. The ending more than made up for this slip up, though!

Brutal Massacre is a must-see for horror fans that can appreciate all the hard work that goes into making an independent horror film, as well as all the craziness and mishaps that can occur! A film made by an independent filmmaker for horror fans and other filmmakers, Brutal Massacre is a very funny, very enjoyable film that deserves to be seen!

I’ll even go as far as saying it’s one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year!

Available from Amazon!
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