Monday, December 31, 2007

Best and Worst Horror Films of 2007

Well, kids, say goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008!

It’s been an amazing year for us here at Fatally-Yours, one that has seen us grow exponentially from our humble beginnings, and we would all like to thank you all for reading our film, comic and book reviews, product spotlights, interviews and news!

It’s also been a big year for horror, even with naysayers decreeing horror “dead” due to some low box office numbers for the likes of Hostel II, Captivity, Grindhouse and more. Horror is not dead, on the contrary, it is thriving if you know the right places to look!

I've assembled a list of top picks for this year, both in the best and worst categories for horror films. Take the time to discover some unknown gems you might have missed this past year and to avoid some sure-fire duds. Celebrate the New Year by looking back on this year’s best and worst horror films!

Fatally Yours’ Best of 2007

1.) Grindhouse – For me, there is no splitting up of Planet Terror and Death Proof; they are a package that deserves to be seen together, which makes it quite a pity that they were released separately by the Weinstein Company when they finally made it to DVD. Despite that disappointment, Grindhouse was the most fun I had in a theater in 2007, an experience that most people grieviously missed out on.

2.) Bug – Completely terrifying in its own unique way, this movie caught me entirely by surprise and left me speechless after viewing. Director William Friedkin creates a claustrophobic, intense and scary atmosphere, all in a one bedroom hotel room with two characters. Ashley Judd is back in my good graces.

3.) The Mist – The ensuing behavior of humans trapped in a grocery after a strange mist filled with monsters besieges the town is one of the scariest aspects of this startling monster movie. With convincing monsters, both supernatural and human, director Frank Darabont again proves he is the master of the Stephen King adaptation.

4.) Stupid Teenagers Must Die! – Enough cannot be said of this ultra low-budget, ultra fun homage to 80’s horror movies! With memorable characters, a great cast and a laugh-a-minute storyline, this was my favorite indie horror film of 2007!!

5.) 28 Weeks Later – Non-stop action pushed this film above and beyond its predecessor, 28 Days Later. A sequel that is better than the original is hard to come by, but 28 Weeks Later managed to do just that.

6.) Zodiac – One of the best films of the year, horror or otherwise. Director David Fincher returns to form after 2002’s disappointing Panic Room with a film that’s both scary and smart…and Robert Downey Jr. never looked so good!

7.) Sympathy – This is an absolute marvel of independent, edge-of-your-seat entertainment! This is another low-budget film that boasts twists and turns, excellent acting, complex characters and plenty of bloody action.

8.) Alone With Her – Colin Hanks amazes as an obsessed stalker. The audience itself is also a voyeur as we view all the action through Hanks’ characters hidden cameras. Extremely disturbing and realistic!

9.) Fido – An absolute delight filled with 1950’s zombie charm!

10.) The Orphanage – An atmospheric, thrilling and tragic ghost story that arrived in theaters at the tail end of December. At first I wasn’t too impressed, but the film managed to get under my skin so much that it deserves a place on the list.

Fatally Yours’ Worst of 2007

1.) Hills Have Eyes 2 – Hands down, the worst of the worst. Annoying, stupid characters and a nonsensical and unentertaining plot had me rolling my eyes every 2 seconds and just itching for the stop button.

2.) Dead Silence – The film started off ok and with a great premise, but too many horror movie clichés and stupid character choices ruined it. By the end I was begging it to be over.

3.) Resident Evil: Extinction – So bad that I don’t even remember seeing it. I take it as a blessing.

4.) Creepshow 3 – An utterly pointless cash-in on the series that featured HORRIBLE stories…RIP OFF!

5.) Vacancy – Pretty damn vacant, if you ask me. Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson’s lack of chemistry was only one of the problems this boring and over-hyped film had.

6.) Hannibal Rising – The only thing I can recommend from this movie is hottie Gaspard Ulliel and the beautiful scenery. The rest was absolute rubbish.

7.) Somebody Help Me – This urban thriller was riddled with clichés from the start…couple that with stupid decisions made by characters and you’ve got another eye-roller.

8.) Disturbia – Hey, look at me! I’m a rip-off of Rear Window for clueless teeny-boppers!! This movie annoyed the hell out of me and was so pedestrian and dull it made me want to rip my own eyes out.

9.) 1408 – I had high hopes for this Stephen King adaptation, but unlike The Mist, it failed to entertain and, more importantly, it robbed any of the wonder and scares from the story.

10.) Murder Party – How this ended up “critically acclaimed” is beyond me. A gimmicky movie that becomes exactly what it is trying to parody – egotistical artistes that really have no clue. Boring, uninspired and bland.

The Orphanage (2008)

The Orphanage is akin to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone or even Pan’s Labyrinth, with a strong focus on characters and a highly stylized and terrifying storyline. Del Toro “presents” The Orphanage, so it is safe to say he has a keen eye for talent. Director J.A. (Juan Antonio) Bayona’s admiration for Del Toro shows in this film, but it never overshadows his own story. Instead, Bayona crafts an emotional, heartbreaking ghost story that is entirely his own.

Laura (Belen Rueda) was raised in an orphanage before being adopted. She has fond memories of playing with her friends there, so some 20 or so years later she decides to turn the long-abandoned building into a home for kids with special needs. Her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their cherub-faced son Simon (Roger Princep) join her at the beautiful sea-side mansion. Simon even makes some new friends, albeit imaginary ones that his parents cannot see.

Laura and Carlos dismiss these friends as just being a part of Simon’s imagination, but things soon start to take an ominous turn. An old lady who claims to be Simon’s social worker arrives to talk with Laura, but she is found late one night sneaking around the grounds. Soon after that, Simon disappears, seemingly into thin air, at a party thrown for the special needs children.

Months and months after his disappearance, Laura becomes convinced his “imaginary” friends have something to do with his disappearance and she stumbles upon a terrifying mystery that has lain dormant for far too many years…

The Orphanage is a very effective ghost story, one that’ll have you jumping out of your seat at all the right (and unexpected) moments. One thing that makes it work so well is the acting by the leads, especially Belen Rueda as Laura. Laura is an entirely sympathetic character, even when her husband Carlos suspects she may have gone a little batty. Her love for Simon is fathomless and she refuses to give up looking for him. Her passion and love for her son and family make us, the audience, want her desperately to succeed…which makes the ending that much more devastatingly heartbreaking.

The characterization of the characters is also spot on. Screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez does a spectacular job creating characters we care so much about, as well as crafting a solid story that has several twists and turns (and scares!) that I certainly didn’t see coming! The only place where the story falters is the middle of the film, where the action drags too much. The tense climax more than makes up for the slow middle, though, as does the séance scene that features one of the creepiest green-tinged night vision camera scenes ever!

Speaking of creepy scenes, director J.A. Bayona wisely keeps everything out of sight. There are no wispy apparitions haunting The Orphanage, but one very malicious child named Tomas, who wears a sack over his deformed face, who makes an unsettling appearance. Everything else is eerily implied (like the frightening séance scene), which, to me, makes a much better ghost story! It’s the noises, like the children’s cries and the loud bangs in the walls, that will scare your pants off, not what you see.

The cinematography, by Oscar Faura, is also spectacularly spooky. As the story progresses, the lighting seems to be getting darker and darker, with more time spent inside the old orphanage and its many musty rooms. Faura reflects the atmosphere of the story with his lighting and lensing of scenes, and that only adds to the already ominous tone.

The Orphanage is currently in a limited release, so if it is playing anywhere near you, I highly encourage you to see it. It may not be “the best ghost story since The Changeling” as some reviewers are saying, but it will definitely get under your skin and stay with you for days after viewing it. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking and genuinely scary film.

Available from Amazon!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gory Gear: Creep Street Clothing

“Creep Street means you ain’t afraid to get epic and live life to the very last drop!”

Creep Street is an exuberant, colorful and 80’s street-inspired brand of clothing. Combining the flamboyant street style of the 80s with horror themes, Creep Street’s fusion of bright neon colors and monster designs create outspoken and unique clothing for fans of the 80s AND fans of horror movies.

Everything about Creep Street is giddily energetic, from their shirt designs to their old-skool Nintendo website intro (check out their killer site at! Horror fans that want to add a spark of vibrant color to their gory gear should check out the fun and playful designs of Creep Street.

The origins of Creep Street are as simple as the plot to an 80s slasher movie. Boris and Chip, two kids from New York with wayyyyy too much energy were bored with the current street-wear styles. They wanted clothes that they could relate to, clothes that expressed their love of monster movies and the 80s.
Creator Boris says:

“With us being 80′s babies, living in the 90′s and rocking out in the 2000′s, we quickly clicked for the love of neon colors, monster movies, skateboarding, dinosaurs, food, bad commercials and basically weird and creepy irrelevant things that were ultimately poor in taste.

With that being said and always wanting to start our own project – it was only proper to call ourselves Creep Street! We are our favorite movies, TV shows, and current Hollywood tabloids combined with the raddest of colors, love for gore, horror, b-movies, hip-hop, rock, and pretty much everything your parents told you not to do.”

And with that, Creep Street was born and is intent on taking over the world!

I got to check out four of Creep Street’s creep-tacular designs, and let me tell ya, any horror fan worth their 80s’-loving salt would flip over the horror-inspired designs. Their “Chopping Mall” shirt comes in an eye-popping blue, pink or yellow and features a gory-fied monster head emblazoned on the front.

Their “Filthy” shirt features Popeye getting the closest shave of his life by his nemesis Bluto! It’s my personal favorite and comes in toxic-waste green or clean-shaven white.

“Feast on Flesh” comes in putrid purple or ravaged red, and features a hungry-looking she-zombie looking for braiiiiiins! It even glows in the dark! Neat-O!

“Street Trash” features the gaping jaws of a very hungry looking vamp. It comes in putrescent pink or bottomless black. Don’t drink the hobo hooch from the film that the shirt takes its inspiration from!

Besides the four fearsome shirts I got to check out, Creep Street features many more designs that can be seen on their site,

Besides having totally tubular designs, Creep Street’s shirts are very high quality and pay careful attention to detail. The tags on the inside even have personalized messages on them! The shirts also boast a Creep Street logo on the back – something that looks cool but isn’t obtrusive.

Creep Street is definitely in it for the love! And the creators want to include as many people as they can in their world of monster movies, tabloids, video games, gore, hip-hop and horror! Highly original designs and colors make Creep Street one of the more unique horror brands out there today. If you want to stand out in a crowd and wear the most bodacious shirts, Creep Street is the place you wanna be.

Creator Boris puts it best when he says, “We get epic and hope you do too!”

Check out Creep Street and more of their designs on

Remember to “CREEP IT REAL!!!”

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa's Slay (2005)

The most criminally underrated Christmas horror movie (one that is actually clever, funny and GOOD) is Santa’s Slay, a 2005 release that was helmed by first-time director David Steiman (Brett Ratner’s longtime assistant!). Not many people know about this film, but it is one of the funniest and most fun “Holiday Horror” films!

From the opening sequence where an annoying and screwed-up rich family (starring the familiar faces of Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, Rebecca Gayheart and James Caan!) gets butchered by Santa (WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg), I was hooked!

You see, Santa is actually the son of Satan and 1,000 years ago he lost a bet to an angel in human disguise (a scene shown in stop-motion animation that is reminiscent of the older Christmas specials and actually WORKS!). Ever since then, he’s been forced to deliver presents to children, spread holiday cheer and be the holly-jolly do-gooder we’ve all come to know. Now, the 1,000 years are up and Santa is once again free to spread some Christmas FEAR!!

Santa descends on Hell Township and it’s up to residents Nicolas Yuleson (Douglas Smith), his eccentric inventor grandpa (Robert Culp) and Nicolas’ friend/girlfriend Mary (Emilie de Ravin of Lost fame) to try and stop the son of Satan!

This film is surely no masterpiece, but it is an insanely fun ride in Santa’s Slay! Bill Goldberg is great as the hulking, Viking-like Santa Claus. His one-liners are hilariously cheesy, but in the best way possible, and his gruff delivery is uproarious. Santa’s killing spree includes taking out a group of carolers, killing someone with the sharpened tip of a candy cane, running someone over with his sleigh (pulled by a gigantic buffalo, by the way!), stringing someone up with Christmas lights, taking out a group of festively-dressed strippers, death by menorah and lighting someone’s hair on fire.

The only problem with all the killings is that there wasn’t that much grue to go around. This was a low-budget film, and unfortunately they just didn’t have enough dough to throw around some of the wet, sticky stuff. Gorehounds will be sadly disappointed, especially if they are used to bloody films like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Christmas Evil, two other “evil Santa” horror movies!

Still, despite the lack of gore, the film still delivers. David Steiman, who both wrote and directed, did a pretty competent job, even if he did emerge from the fire pits of hell as Brett Ratner’s assistant. The story is cohesive, entertaining and engaging. The film moves at a fast clip, and once the action starts, it doesn’t let up.

The film is never scary, but its black comedy and mean-spirit are more than enough to entertain! Also, even though it had a limited budget, the film looks great! The production values are very high and it looks like it was shot on 35mm. Again, the only thing that was lacking was the gore.

Santa’s Slay is a clever, wacky and very fun horror film that shouldn’t be taken too seriously but also shouldn’t be missed! Instead of re-watching Black Christmas this year, take a chance on the rip-roaring and riotous Santa’s Slay!

And remember, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice; Santa Claus is coming to town…to kill you!!

Available on Amazon!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pink Eye (2008)

After the delightfully different Eat Your Heart Out, Savage Rose Pictures and Lost Angeles Films return with a darker and even gorier film called Pink Eye. Pink Eye opens on an old, dilapidated mental hospital. The doctors there are using unethical drug treatments on their “patients,” who are usually just bums pulled off the street. One of their “patients” is Edgar (Joshua James), who is hideously deformed and likes to quote Poe (hence his name). Fueled by the drug experiments that turn the patients into raging, homicidal lunatics, Edgar escapes and begins a killing spree in the nearby town.

For such a simple plot synopsis, Pink Eye had quite a convoluted storyline. It bounces back and forth between developing secondary characters too much and not developing main characters enough. For example, precious time is wasted on ancillary characters that exist just to get slaughtered while the star, Melissa Bacelar, is hardly shown at all in the middle of the film. Subplots involving Delilah’s (Melissa Bacelar) family, her boyfriend (Joshua Nelson, who also wrote the script) and two concerned nurses in the mental hospital who suspect the main doctor is up to no good are never developed fully and leave us hanging. It’s like the filmmakers wanted to cram all their friends into one picture, with speaking parts, mind you, but could only spare one scene for each. The result is a bunch of unnecessary characters that pop up only once (or a few times if they’re lucky) before they disappear or get killed off.

Yet, the hodge-podge script is probably the only negative thing I can say about Pink Eye. Everything else, from the acting to the direction to the special FX, was impressive. Technically, Pink Eye is a big step up from Eat Your Heart Out, a film that featured many of the same talent both behind and in front of the camera.

The gore is probably the film’s biggest selling point. For such a low-budget film, it definitely boasts some very graphic, very cringe-worth scenes. One of the opening scenes features a patient in the insane asylum clawing out her own eyes because she sees bugs everywhere. The camera doesn’t flinch (but you will) as she gouges her own eyes with her fingernails and digs deep into her eye sockets, bringing out chunks of flesh, and, eventually, her own eyeballs. There’s also a very effective dinner-table scene that plays like a warped homage to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre where Delilah is tied to a chair and faces the mutilated bodies of her friends and family.

Speaking of Delilah, the wonderful Melissa Bacelar did another fantastic acting job! Keep an eye on this girl; she’ll soon be bigger than she already is! My only gripe is that we really don’t see that much of her, besides at the beginning where she is introduced and the end when she is kidnapped by Edgar. The rest of the cast is wonderful as well, including cameos by indie darlings Raine Brown (Barricade), Alan Rowe Kelly (The Blood Shed), Susan Adriensen (Under the Raven’s Wing) and many familiar faces from Eat Your Heart Out.

The direction, by James Tucker, is very competent for a low budget film and never distracts from the action. The production values, including sound, are also very well done. If you can forgive the messy storyline, Pink Eye is a pleasantly gory film that is surprisingly well done, especially when considering its minuscule budget.

Available on Amazon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Somebody Help Me (2007)

Somebody Help Me…to survive this movie!

Somebody Help Me manages to bundle all of horror’s annoying clichés to create a trite, unoriginal and bland film. Despite the fact that this “urban thriller” stays away from stereotypical characters, that alone cannot save the convoluted script that tries to pack too many horror subgenres into one film. Any “scares” the film tried to achieve fail, because we’ve seen them all before in better horror movies! The entire movie feels familiar, because each scene has already been played out in other horror movies.

Let me know if this starts to sound familiar: two couples head up to a secluded cabin to party. It’s sickeningly sweet Serena’s (Brooklyn Sudano) 21st birthday party and her boyfriend Brendan (Marques Houston) wants to celebrate in style. His buddy Darryl (Omarion) has offered his uncle’s secluded cabin in Lake Arrowhead as their weekend getaway. Their only neighbors are a creepy older gentleman (John Wiltshire) who keeps spying on them and a little blond-haired girl (Brittany Oaks) who likes to creepily sing “Ring Around the Rosie” (and resembles the sing-song-y blond child from Nightmare on Elm Street so closely I’m surprised they didn’t get sued!). Soon, three other couples (all bland and uninteresting) show up for Serena’s birthday party and they get down…to slow dancing? I don’t know about you, but my 21st birthday party did not look like a junior high dance! The next morning, two of the five couples are missing. After lounging around in PJ’s, the remaining kids head out to search the surrounding woods…and search all day but find no trace of their friends. While in the woods, MORE of them disappear until Brendan and Darryl are the last men standing.

In the meantime, we see that a deranged plastic surgeon (Sonny King) is behind the disappearances. He has kidnapped each of the kids and stuck them in doggie cages in his cabin. One by one, he takes them out and “operates,” taking an ear, an eyeball, a scalp and plenty of blood. With the help of the ghost-like blond girl, can the guys save their girlfriends and friends from the hands of the psycho killer?

Somebody Help Me is an urban horror flick, with the lead characters being all black. Unlike the recent Hood of Horrors, I appreciated that the film stayed away from stereotypes and portrayed everyone as equals. There were no “ghetto-fied” black characters or any WASP-ish white people. I also liked how the film turned the horror stereotype of “the black guy always dies first” on its head. In Somebody Help Me, it’s the white folks that get nabbed by the killer first. Its fair treatment of both races is about the only thing I can recommend about Somebody Help Me, though.

The rest of the film is a recycled mish-mash of bad horror clichés and subgenres. On the one hand, the film starts as an old fashioned slasher, but then jumps to a ghost story and yet again switches gears to exploitative torture flick! These multiple shifts in storyline can work amazingly well in some films, but the transitions in this one are just too jarring and do not flow well at all. Also, none of the plot lines were developed to their full potential so we are left scratching our heads and asking who is the little girl? What is the plastic surgeon’s full story? What the hell is up with the creepy neighbor? It feels like these subplots were all stuffed into the film to throw as many horror clichés at the audience as possible. The result is a confused and unstable plot that brings nothing new to the table and one that you’ll quickly lose interest in.

The dialogue is equally horrible, with lines that sound like they were pulled directly from bad horror films. It got so bad that I begun to suspect this was done on purpose as a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the audience, but ultimately I think it was just poor writing. Poor writing also results in bland characters you care nothing about. None of the characters had any real personality or spark, so I didn’t connect with any of them. As a result, I didn’t care what happened to them. The torture scenes were plenty gruesome, but without that emotional attachment they weren’t that effective.

The acting itself wasn’t so bad, with R&B stars Houston and Omarion putting on good performances. Their girlfriends, played by Sudano and Alexis Fields, weren’t up to par, but were passable performances. The other couples were all pretty much indistinguishable and about as interesting as a piece of cardboard, but the actors did the best they could with the material they were given. I wished we had seen more of Sonny King, who played the killer, as he had immense presence.

Also, the film looks like it had fairly high production values. Even in the darker scenes (which there are a lot of…don’t any of the characters realize they can turn on a light?), the movie looks great. The direction (by Chris Stokes, who also directed You Got Served and House Party 4, as the back of the DVD proudly proclaims) isn’t flashy, but shows us what we need to see. The audio is crisp, and I didn’t need to crank the volume up super-loud to hear dialogue and crank it back down once the hip-hop/rap soundtrack came on. The high production values looked like theatrical-release quality, which gave me one more thing to enjoy about this movie.

Still, these few positive factors couldn’t save this movie. Somebody Help Me is a horror film that will feel mighty familiar to you if you’ve had any experience at all with the horror genre. We’ve got the secluded cabin, the creepy neighbor, the uncaring cops, the stupid mistake of splitting up in the woods, the masked killer, the dream sequence, the ghostly little girl singing a creepy nursery rhyme, torture in the Hostel vein and a conclusion that leaves it wide open for a sequel. There is nothing new and nothing interesting in this by-the-numbers movie, except for the fact that the leads happen to be black. While I’ll applaud the filmmakers from staying away from stereotypical race caricatures, that’s about the only positive thing I can recommend in this uninspired retread.

Available from Amazon!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Interview with Artist Bryan Barnes

Bryan Barnes is an up and coming artist from San Diego, California who specializes in photography and illustration. His morbid, gritty and gruesome works of eye-catching art are interesting and stimulating, especially for people of the more macabre persuasion. His works depict stapled throats, bloodshot eyes, skin crisscrossed with dark veins and stitches and lots of blood splatter. Barnes photographs are eerily reminiscent of crime scene or autopsy photos in their starkness.

His artwork has been shown at galleries across the nation, including Drk Room Gallery, Hive Gallery, Artist Bound Gallery, Our Lady of the Angeles Cathedral, IVAR and the Monte Christo in Los Angeles, ICANDY in West Hollywood, the Night Gallery in Santa Ana, Planet Rooth, Front Porch Gallery, Gallery 680, Art of Framing and the Plastic Museum in San Diego and the Dirty Detroit in Michigan.

Fatally Yours recently got to chat with Bryan about horror movies, how dead girls can be sexy, his grandma and his artwork.

Fatally Yours: Bryan, how long have you been working in art?

Bryan Barnes: For as long as I can remember. I started drawing around age 4. It seems I’ve always been surrounded and attracted to the art realm.

FY: How did you first get started making art?

BB: When I was kid, I would stay at my grandmother’s house in Pasadena, California. She is a painter. When I would stay at her house I would see all of her paintings on the wall and want to emulate her and what I saw. I remember she would be cooking and I would be in the kitchen with her drawing. Although, my style is vastly different from hers, she was a huge influence on me in my early development. So, I guess art is in my blood. Also growing up skateboarding, I loved all the skull graphics I saw. Not only would I try to practice to be like the pros with tricks and launching off ramps, I would draw in the style of the skateboard decks and stickers I had.

FY: What is your favorite medium to use?

BB: My favorite mediums are graphite and photography. Both are challenging and rewarding in their own unique ways. I was originally brought up in illustration and painting, but over time I developed an appreciation for work behind the lens. My head is always spinning with one thousand ideas and concepts. Hopefully I’m able to capture as many of them as I can through one medium or another.

FY: Is there any specific message you wish to convey with your artwork?

BB: My artwork is a dark sexy traumatic rollercoaster ride through visions of vanity, insecurity, obsession, eternity and lust. Constant themes held within the artworks are symbolisms of hope, spirituality, optimism, power of self and the beauty of the divine. It’s my goal to make the viewer of the artwork take a step back and sincerely think what is presented in from of them.

FY: Where do you get your inspiration for your artwork?

BB: Inspiration is drawn together by what I’ve witnessed, experienced and felt through my years. It’s almost like real life thrown up on a canvas, so to speak.

FY: Who are some of your favorite artists and influences?

BB: I tend to only surround myself in a dark shotgun shell of my own work. I feel by viewing other artists and their work; it could taint my own work. I rather not be influenced by outside influences. There are probably only a handful of artists that I truly have an admiration for. I really dig the vibes of both Paul Booth and Michael Hussar though. They have some macabre visions that I dig.

FY: What is a memorable experience that has shaped your work?

BB: Probably one of the most memorable experiences came in college. As my style developed and began to take form, I realized that following what is safe and mainstream will never be for me. I create imagery for me. Hopefully people can pick up on the vibe I’m going for and appreciate it. Hopefully become a fan of it.

FY: Where did you receive formal training?

BB: Originally, I received a basketball scholarship to the University of Cal State San Bernardino. Only after a year or so I focused solely on art and studies and left sports for good. While in college I took up a greater appreciation for photography. This was also the time when I began to develop my style of artwork. I was attracted to a more realistic approach with darker and deeper concepts. I absolutely loved studying about Goya and Hieronymus Bosch. I finished and received my BA in Art (Graphic Design).

FY: What made you want to pursue a career in art?

BB: Artwork has always highly interested me. It is a true gift to have the beauty of creation. I would not change what I do for anything.

FY: So far, what is your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?

BB: One of my favorite pieces recently is the photography piece “The Devil of Ed Gein Wears Prada.” It deals with how the fashion industry, and media in general, creates pieces of meat that kill you with their outward faux appearance of beauty while consisting of rather no depth at all. It is one of the more graphic and gruesome pieces.

FY: Do any horror films/literature/comics influence your work?

BB: Yes, of course! When I watch films, especially horror, I study the cinematography, make-up and things that stick out in my mind that are new and innovative. The only problem is, it can be very difficult for me to just “watch” a film without constantly art directed it to how I believe the film could work better. That goes back to my design background where my eye is watching every inch of detail on the screen. Some of my most recent work can be seen to have influences from Dawn of the Dead and even 30 Days of Night. I loved the characters in 13 Ghosts, especially the Suicide Girl character. Sexy and dead, love it! Of course how can I not love The Shining, The Grudge, the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville Horror? Gritty, dark, ominous films always keep my full attention.

FY: If you could design the artwork for any horror film what would it be and why?

BB: I’m a huge fan of Rob Zombie, especially for this work on Devil’s Rejects. I thought the film worked so well on so many levels. It had a cool retro vibe while mixing violence, sarcastic humor, an interesting story and the oh so lovely Sherri Moon Zombie. What was not to love! But yes, I would love to have the opportunity to work with Zombie on his some of his future projects. He is truly a legend. I also dig Eli Roth’s work from Hostel as well; he seems like a pretty cool cat.

Visit Bryan Barnes

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gory Gear: Dance Party Massacre

Bursting out on the horror scene like a heart ripped from a teenager’s chest, Dance Party Massacre unveiled their first line of freakishly and fabulously designed horror-inspired T-shirts. Designer Alex Dakoulas, a recent graduate of Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and a hardcore horror fanatic, broke his piggy bank to give stylish slasher fans high-quality T-shirts whose designs pay homage to Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th, Halloween and 80’s B-grade splatter flicks. He himself says:

“As you may know, the first line derives a lot from slasher movies. Slasher movies typically involve a group of young teenagers being stalked by a masker serial killer—like Halloween, or A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was the horror genre that fit the best as a starting point for the line, and it created a lot of inspiration for the original idea for Dance Party Massacre.

That idea being that what this graphic apparel line takes from horror is not just horror imagery, but horror metaphors and ideas. That there is something, or someone, out there trying put us down, kill our dreams, stop us from living our lives and just like the people in horror films we are struggling and fighting to stop those demons. However melodramatic that sounds, if you don’t take it too seriously (like throw in a little dancing and partying), that’s what is really behind the basis for this line.”

What a perfect mix for horror tees! The Dance Party Massacre tees are THE most unique and fun horror shirts I’ve seen!! You won’t find any of these exclusively creative prints at your local homogenized mall…these are truly different and inventive horror shirts that are guaranteed to thrill slasher fans who crave something sinisterly special!

Dakoulas has started with five different designs for his first line of Dance Party Massacre merchandise. Each one features a colorful, striking design that leaps off the shirt to strike any passerby down with awe. For once, horror fans are given shirts that pop with color and are fun!!

The pale yellow “Blood on the Dancefloor” shirt features a sneaker stuck through with a large, bloody butcher knife. Many horror fans will recognize this as an homage to the poster art for Sleepaway Camp. Or perhaps you’ll associate the image with the dancing, sneaker-wearing JJ from the TV show Good Times crossed with an unfortunately bloody encounter with a psycho killer. Either way, it’s a killer way to blend fun and danger!

“The Classic,” a black shirt with Dance Party Massacre written in bloody red letters, is a throwback to all those cheesy VHS horror films that lined the shelves of the local rental store. Didn’t they all seem to use that same blood-dripping font? This shirt is my personal favorite of the bunch. It combines the company’s great name (“Dance Party Massacre” – a mix of merriment and mayhem) with the nostalgic feeling of 80’s horror movies.

The vintage-looking “Start Living” shirt features white and blue text on a grey shirt that says, “Start living…before you start DYING!” If Dance Party Massacre was a movie, designer Dakoulas says this would be the tagline!

“Candy Apple Razorblade” is a deep purple shirt that features a candy apple spiked with razorblades. It hearkens back to the urban legend of people handing out apples at Halloween with razorblades stuck in them.

For the turquoise “Something’s After Us” shirt, Jason of Friday the 13th and Michael from Halloween were the inspirations. It features a psycho mask that’s equal parts Jason’s hockey mask and Michael’s William Shatner mask…plus, it glows in the dark, so no matter where you hide, you know the killer will find you.

All of the shirts are super-soft, high-quality cotton. The shirts come in a variety of both male and female sizes, so everyone can experience the Party! Through the month of December Dance Party Massacre is generously offering 25% off all their shirts! Hurry, though, when the designs are gone they are GONE! They won’t come back like Jason or Michael.

Dance Party Massacre has awesomely amazing shirts that any slasher fan would go ga-ga for (I know I have!!). Let’s face it, horror fans have limited choices when it comes to horror tees (how many Zombie shirts can you have?), but Dance Party Massacre offers us something wholly new with their exciting designs.
If you are looking to get your favorite slasher fan (or yourself) something to die for, Dance Party Massacre is your first stop!! Their eye-catching designs are soon to be on everyone’s wish list this holiday season, so get your’s first and stand out in the crowd!

Check out Dance Party Massacre online at

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fatally Yours Featured in OC Weekly!

We are Yours Horrifically!!

Fatally Yours’s very own founder, owner and film critic Sarah Jahier was recently interviewed for a feature article in Orange County’s premiere cultural and hipper-than-thou newspaper, the OC Weekly.

In the article she discusses her love of horror, how Fatally-Yours got started, her commitment to the genre, where she sees horror going in 2008, and much, much more!

Apparently, it’s a copyright issue to repost the article here…so go to the OC Weekly’s website (with the picture in color…snazzy!) to view it.

We would like to thank the OC Weekly for spreading the red on Fatally-Yours and fantastic interviewer/writer Luke Thompson for crafting such a fine feature!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Last Man on Earth (1964)

With the impending I Am Legend film starring Will Smith looming close on the cinematic horizon, I felt it necessary to go back and watch other films that were based on Richard Matheson’s legendary book. My first pick was Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price.

Last Man on Earth is a bleak and desolate picture shot in black and white that George Romero himself has claimed to having inspired Night of the Living Dead. Its hopeless atmosphere coupled with Price’s strong performance has made it a cult favorite even though it was quickly dismissed at the time of its release in 1964.

Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) wakes up day after day to the same monotonous and lonely routine. Each day he wakes up is just “another day to live through,” according to him. He is all alone in a post-apocalyptic world. Everyday he drives through debris-filled, utterly lifeless streets, looking for supplies to sustain him and dumping corpses into The Pit. You see, three years ago a plague infected the entire human population, turning them all into vampires. Everyone, that is, except for Morgan (he is immune because of a run-in with a vampire bat). Now he spends his days fortifying his home, driving the empty streets for useful supplies and dumping dead bodies of vampires into a fire pit. The days may be Morgan’s, but the nights belong to the creatures of the night. When night descends, Morgan must be safe inside his house or risk being torn to bits by the shuffling and zombie-like vampires!

The film stays fairly true to the book, but it lacks the sense of dread that pervades Matheson’s story. Matheson initially adapted the script from his own book, but the producer handed it off to William Leicester to beef up. Matheson was furious at this development and very unhappy with the way Leicester adapted it. He insisted his name be pulled off the credits, replacing it with pseudonym Logan Swanson. If you’ve read Matheson’s book, it does feel like something is off and not quite right about the script. Though the script stays fairly true to the events in the book, there is a certain sense of isolation and horror that appears to be missing.

One thing that isn’t missing or lacking is Vincent Price’s performance. Price captures the heartbreak, hopelessness, longing and loneliness of the last man on earth in a very subdued, but no less affecting, manner. He tones down his usually hammy performance to give us one of his best performances ever.

From watching Last Man on Earth, it becomes pretty obvious that it was, in fact, one of Romero’s influences for Night of the Living Dead (as was Matheson’s book). Both were filmed in black and white (though color stock was widely available at the time) and feature an austere and grim look, both visually and philosophically. They share a very similar tone, but Last Man on Earth just lacked a certain something.

Also, the infected undead in Last Man on Earth, with their slow, shambling walk and hunger for the kill, act more like zombies than bloodsuckers. Still, they can’t stand garlic, sunlight or mirrors and only a stake through the heart will kill them. Every night they attack the house where Morgan lives, yelling at him to “Come out!” but they don’t have the brains to break in. While these nightly ghouls aren’t very scary in our day and age, they purposely aren’t the most horrifying thing in the film. The most terrifying thing is being the “last man on earth,” an outsider, a minority and all alone. There are so many different levels to that particular fear and so much social commentary that could be found in this film…

Yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to really like this film. My main complaint was with the pacing. Though you cared a great deal about what happened to Dr. Morgan, there was far too much time spent on flashbacks of his (and the world’s) past. The focus should have been on the terror at hand as opposed to what happened in the past or explaining how the plague occurred. These flashbacks bog down the film and make its already slow/subtle pace even more meandering. The ending, where we discover the fate of the last man on earth, almost makes up for pace. Almost, but not quite. I’ll be very interested to see how they end the new I Am Legend film…

Last Man on Earth is a close adaptation of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, but it fails to capture the complete spectrum of desperation, loneliness and hopelessness that the novel horrifies the viewer with. Still, it’s definitely worth a look for Vincent Price’s excellent performance, the desolate world it portrays and its deeper outlook on humanity.

Available on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fallen Angels (2007)

Fallen Angels falls under the category of the worst type of horror films – one that starts with a great premise but squanders its potential in the execution. Fallen Angels had plenty of promise, but it is riddled with bad story writing and poor pacing, which leads to a very dull movie.

An old and foreboding prison is slated for demolition to make way for a shopping mall, but construction is halted when a secret sub-chamber containing the remains of many long-dead children is discovered. A special forensic team from the FBI is called in to investigate the bodies and perhaps find their killer. Meanwhile, a local teen is found dead while another girl is missing. The investigative team finds that strange murders have plagued the small town for 150 years. They soon discover that seven demons, or fallen angels, each representing the 7 Deadly Sins, hold dominion over that particular town and are responsible for the town’s gruesome and grisly deaths. Can the FBI team, along with the mother of the missing girl, stop the killings?

Like mentioned before, the premise for Fallen Angels sounded very promising, but unfortunately its execution made for a very dull horror film. Not even the familiar faces of Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Ruth Buzzi or David Hess (Last House on the Left) in lead to cameo roles could help this floundering flick.

The film starts off weakly by not laying some kind of groundwork for what we are about to witness. The characters and story are not introduced clearly enough, which starts the film off on the wrong foot. The narrative is disjointed, confusing and leaves the viewer bored instead of intrigued. Things go downhill from there with unnecessary characters, too many plot points and not enough time spent on the real mystery at hand.

I will say that it is refreshing to see something other than the usual hack ‘n’ slash flick, but the story (written by Jeff Thomas, who also directs) is just poorly crafted. I did enjoy how the religion aspect was presented and how it really gives viewers something to think about. The ending of the film will be a let down for most genre fans, though I enjoyed its exploration of faith and religion. Still, it seems an easy and far too tidy way of wrapping things up. The rest of the script just seemed convoluted and cluttered. There are a few glimmers of greatness, but unfortunately it is too dull to really sparkle.

The wonderfully creepy setting of the film also felt misused to me. The prison where the film was shot is the supposedly haunted Mansfield State Reformatory in Ohio, which is spooky without the benefit of set dressing. Its cobwebbed cells and long, dark hallways make the Reformatory a very foreboding place. Yet, in Fallen Angels the prison setting doesn’t come alive as much as I’d hoped. The atmosphere just doesn’t drip dread like in other haunted institution flicks such as the spooky Session 9.

The acting was not bad for a low budget film. I especially enjoyed seeing Bill Moseley in the role of a crime scene investigator. Genre fans out there will be disappointed if they expect to see much of anyone else of note, though. Hodder, Bannister and Hess are in blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em cameos, while Berryman, McCarthy and Buzzi are relegated to one scene each. The rest of the actors, including reality “star” Adrianne Curry, Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Michael Dorn, Daniel Zacapa and Farah White, do a decent job as well.

The special FX, done by Bob Keen (who has worked on makeup and special FX for Hellraiser, Candyman, Isolation and Dog Soldiers), are very well done. The demons do look a bit silly at times and don’t seem to really fit their 7 Deadly Sins alter egos. Besides that, the gore looks great! There is one terrifically terrifying teeth pulling scene and a few inventive kills, but those didn’t make up for the lackluster storyline. I was expecting to see more of the seven demons and learn more about them, but they were never properly introduced or given much screen time. The story behind the seven demons isn’t even explored that much. Instead we focus on far too many investigators tramping around the prison looking for answers. Besides these unnecessary characters, we also have the mother (played by Farah White) searching for her missing daughter. She doesn’t add anything except dead weight to an already precariously overburdened storyline.

Despite a few moments that seemingly shine in Fallen Angels, all that sparkles is not gold. If you are searching for a creepy horror flick of the demon persuasion, Fallen Angels is unfortunately not your best pick. It is a poorly written, lackluster and dull. Despite claims that it has an intelligent, solid story, the only intelligent thing about this film is that they cast a bunch of genre favorites so that eager horror fans like you and me would be tricked into dumping our money in this poorly executed film.

Available from Amazon!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1982)

The horror and film communities are all a-twitter over the eagerly awaited, Tim Burton-helmed Sweeney Todd movie. With director like Tim Burton and a cast that is lead by Johnny Depp, who wouldn’t be excited over this new Demon Barber of Fleet Street? I, too, have high hopes for this film, wishing it is something akin to a mix of music from Nightmare Before Christmas and visuals ala Sleepy Hollow.

Before watching Burton’s take on the famous tale, I decided to get a sneak peak by watching Stephen Sondheim’s televised Los Angeles production of the Broadway play. For the uninitiated, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is set in the grimy streets of 1846 London. Benjamin Barker (George Hearn) was shipped off to prison by Judge Turpin (Edmund Lyndeck) 15 years ago on a trumped up charge. You see, the Judge has nefarious plans for Barker’s beautiful wife and infant daughter. Now, Barker has returned to what he sings is: “…a hole in the world/Like a great black pit/And the vermin of the world/Inhabit it/And its morals aren’t worth/What a pig can spit/And it goes by the name of London.” He has changed his name to Sweeney Todd and plans on reuniting with his wife and child. All seems lost when he runs into the jovial Mrs. Lovett (Angela Lansbury), who runs a meat pie eatery below his long-abandoned barber shop. Mrs. Lovett tells him that his wife poisoned herself and that his daughter Johanna (Betsy Joslyn) is now under the guardianship of the nefarious judge. With this tragic news, Sweeney Todd snaps and vows revenge on all who have wronged him. He re-opens his barber shop, and when his enemies come knocking for “the closest shave” that’s what they get! To dispose of the bodies, Mrs. Lovett starts using them in her pies, which start selling like hot cakes! The Judge continues to elude Todd’s vengeful plans, but not for long…

Sondheim’s play is one of the most celebrated on Broadway and it’s not hard to see why it won eight Tony Awards. The powerful story, strong characterizations, the grimy and sinister mood, the themes of revenge and double-cross, not to mention the macabre material all make for a thoroughly entertaining musical. Sondheim avoids the gimmicky pop of certain musicals, instead choosing very dark lyrics and songs tailor-made for characters. The razor-sharp and lurid lyrics will most certainly be a treat for any horror fan! The musical is almost operatic, because there is sparse dialogue and it is mostly all sung. Those horror fans that do not appreciate a good stage musical are most certainly missing out, as Sweeney Todd delivers marvelous musical mayhem.

This is a stage play, so the set is one stage very sparsely decorated with a few movable set pieces. There are a few scaffolds that are wheeled about, along with Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop and, upstairs, Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. There are no grand, lavish sets in this play, but the sets are enough to convey the mood of a bleak, grimy, post-industrial London.

The acting is also wonderful. Those only familiar with Angela Lansbury through her television show Murder, She Wrote will be quite surprised and satisfied by her performance here. Her Mrs. Lovett is a perfect mix of caring, comedic and crazy! George Hearn (replacing Broadway’s Len Cariou) plays the tragic, bitter and determined Sweeney Todd. His vindictive resolve is made plain upon his first appearance on stage. He really makes the audience really feel and sympathize with his character, despite the heinous acts he is committing. The rest of the cast do a wondrous job as well, from Ken Jennings playing ragamuffin Tobias Ragg to the Judge’s henchman The Beadle, played by Calvin Remsberg. My only dissatisfaction came from Betsy Joslyn’s performance as Johanna, which made me cringe more than clap. Thank goodness we didn’t have to hear her sing more than she did, because her screechy vocals grated my nerves more than chalk on a blackboard!

Despite the one awkward performance, the stage version of Sweeney Todd holds up after all these years. It’s a timeless tale of rabid revenge and murderous mayhem that horror fans should love. If you can get past the “musical” aspect of it (we horror fans can be a pretty persnickety bunch!), Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd does have much to offer, especially a shocking and surprising ending, one I’m not sure they’ll keep for Burton’s version.

To see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street come alive on stage was quite a treat. Until Burton’s version, make sure to “Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd. His skin was pale and his eye was odd. He shaved the faces of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard of again. He trod a path that few have trod, Did Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Available on Amazon!

The Mist (2007)

After a long history with the Stephen King novella The Mist, Frank Darabont has finally seen his dream of making it into a feature film realized. Darabont had planned on adapting it into a feature in the early 1980’s, just after it had been published, but other projects, like his adaptation of King’s Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, took precedent. After years of waiting for one of King’s fans’ favorite short stories to make it onto the big screen, has Darabont succeeded with The Mist?

After a particularly destructive storm, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son (Nathan Gamble) head into town to stock up on supplies. While in the local grocery store with a good number of other townsfolk, a thick mist quickly rolls into town, heralded by a bloody man that runs into the store and warns everyone that there are “things” in the mist…things that kill. After everyone is witness to the mist’s destructive nature when a lone man runs to get to his car just as it descends on the town, they lock down the grocery store until they can figure out the situation. When all attempts at escape or calling for help fail, the local “fire and brimstone” woman, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), takes it upon herself to warn everyone that the end of times has come. Soon, the people in the store are not only threatened by monsters in the mist, but the human monsters in their midst.

Going into The Mist, I really wasn’t expecting much more than a CGI monsterfest. When I came out, I was pleasantly shocked. Darabont has created a tense and frightening film that will leave you stunned. Like his non-horror King adaptations of Shawshank and Green Mile, The Mist is a classy affair that boasts impressive acting and classic chills and thrills.

From the dramatic opening the film will have you hooked. Once the characters make it to the relative safety of the grocery store, the tension only mounts. After the mist hits the town, the chaos and confusion within the store feels extremely realistic and you can’t help but be as shocked as the townspeople are. To assist in the realistic feel, Darabont utilizes hand-held cameras to give a sense of immediacy to the dramatic proceedings. I found this to be a bit too “television crime drama” for my tastes, but it does give you the feeling you are right alongside the panicked patrons.

The characters trapped in the store are all strongly characterized. From the unlikely hero of Ollie (scene-stealer Toby Jones), a grocery store clerk, to the reluctant leader David and the zealous and hateful Mrs. Carmody, you can’t help but feel for all the characters. Each character is flawed and therefore made more human and easily relatable because of that. My only problem with the characterization was the portrayal of Mrs. Carmody, which quickly turned into an exaggerated caricature. She was a bit too over the top for me.

The acting was very well done from everyone involved. Thomas Jane proved himself as a very capable leading man. Marcia Gay Harden gave Mrs. Carmody some much needed humanity, though her character did come off as a bad caricature at times. All of the supporting actors, including Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Jim Grondin, Chris Owen and many more, did a fantastic job as well.

The special FX in The Mist are impressive as well. I don’t understand the naysayers who have said that the CGI work is shoddy; from where I was sitting, it looked great! The monsters in the mist are vicious, and include a creature with blood-sucking, barbed tentacles, pterodactyl-like monsters, huge spiders that shoot acidic webs and have large spines on their backs, crab-like creatures that are several stories tall and a truly behemoth creature straight out of Lovecraft’s stories. Besides great creature effects, the film also boasts several nasty gore scenes, my favorite being when a man, who’s become a spider snack, bursts forth hundreds upon thousands of baby spiders.

These scintillating special FX aren’t just thrown in there to keep the audience awake because the rest of the film is just as good! The pacing is excellent and kept my attention the entire time, even though the run-time is over two hours. Between the threat of the monsters lurking in the mist and the growing threat of the fascist Mrs. Carmody, the tension is certainly kept taut. The action just keeps coming up until the end as David and a few others try to find a way out of their desperate predicament. The ending, which Darabont changed from King’s ambiguous one, is one that people will be talking about for a long time to come. It is appropriately tragic and dramatic, and will knock the wind right out of you!

Despite such glowing words over the film, I did have one other problem besides the caricaturization of Mrs. Carmody. The fade-to-black transitions used between scenes make The Mist look like another made-for-TV Stephen King flick. The awkward transitions were horribly out of place with the film’s otherwise high production values. These annoying fade-to-black transitions (I expected a commercial to come on each time they were used) chopped up The Mist and diminished my enjoyment a tad.

Of the horror films that have been theatrically released recently (30 Days of Night, Saw IV, etc.) the one I would recommend seeing the most would have to be The Mist. Despite the few problems I had with it, The Mist is an excellent monster movie and one of the best horror releases of the year. Its tense atmosphere, great creature design, wonderful acting and classic monster movie feel make it a very frightening and enjoyable horror film. It doesn’t have to rely on gore for entertainment (though it has its nasty bits), but instead frightens us with what is hidden – the monsters in the mist as well as the monsters within ourselves.

Available from Amazon!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gory Gear: Gold Label Goods

We take pride in bringing you the latest horror reviews, telling you what is worth your time and what needs to be avoided at all costs! That not only applies to film, but also to books, comics, and now, horror-related products!

We’ll be featuring a product spotlight here on, introducing you to quality companies that carry horror-related merchandise and letting you know what’s hot (and not) in horror products.

Our first product spotlight features Gold Label Goods, a new online shop featuring designs from the hottest new films, TV shows and more! What caught our eye at Gold Label is that YOU, the customer, chose the design and product you want it on. You can get licensed designs from Saw, 30 Days of Night, Dexter and more on a wide selection of shirt styles, mugs, pins, mouse pads, notepads and more! It’s totally customizable!

Another great thing about Gold Label is that it is totally geared towards the fans. Besides being able to choose from a wide variety of designs and products, customers are encouraged to suggest other designs that they believe Gold Label should carry. Gold Label is a movement away from the limitations of old Internet shopping, instead offering many choices and possibilities to the fans.

Gold Label not only offers customers the ability to choose specific designs, colors, size and shapes for each of their purchases, but they also offer only the highest quality of product. Their designs are printed on thick, 100% cotton Anvil shirts and the rest of their merchandise are also very high-quality. Their mouse pads are very thick and not at all flimsy, while their mugs are perfectly suited for my manic coffee drinking habit.

If you want a wide selection of totally customizable products geared towards horror fans, Gold Label offers and excellent shopping experience you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Their site is very easy to use, with (again) a HUGE selection of high-quality products, colors, sizes, etc. to choose from! Also, their prices won’t break the bank and any of their products would make great Christmas and holiday gifts for your resident horroraholic!

Most of all, though, we love Gold Label because it stays committed to those that count – the fans! What store do you know that actually encourages its customers to speak up and speak out about designs they want to see?!

This hectic holiday season, we here at recommend taking a break from the overcrowded malls and hitting up Gold Label Goods online. Whether you’re looking for a Dexter wall clock, a Saw hoodie, or a 30 Days of Night mouse pad, you will definitely find some very unique products for yourself or fellow horror lovers!

Gold Label Goods also carries designs from cable show Weeds, Heavy Metal Magazine and Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
Check ‘em out!

Summer School (2006)

Ah, summertime! When balmy days are spent sunning on the beach or lounging around the pool…unless, of course, you are like Summer School’s teenage Charlie (Simon Wallace), who prefers blocking the bright sunlight out and having horror movie marathons that go for days. Hmmm…that sounds much better than being out in the sweltering summer sun!

Charlie runs a horror movie review site and has been staying up late into the night to try to catch up on his movie viewing before he has to start summer school. His lack of sleep catches up to him on the first day of summer school. While waiting for his teacher and other students to arrive, Charlie dozes off…Only to find himself stuck in very realistic nightmares that resemble his revered horror flicks! Every time he thinks he has woken up, he is plunged back into horrifying situations that test his sense of reality and his own sanity! As Charlie tries to escape his nightmares, he quickly loses his grip on reality…

Summer School is a wonderfully clever low-budget horror film that pays homage to several subgenres of horror including satanic cults, vampires, monsters, hillbillies, slashers, Nazis and exploitation! The film is based on the experiences of writer/director Ben Trandem, who took a summer school class back in high school and spent his evenings and weekends watching B-horror films. Trandem enlisted the help of four other writers/directors – Lance Hendrickson, Steven Rhoden, Troy McCall and Mike P. Nelson – to write and direct each segment of the film. With so many “cooks in the kitchen,” Summer School should be a mess of differing storytelling styles, but surprisingly it holds up very well and doesn’t fail to entertain!

Each segment of the film is true to the subgenre that it is paying homage to. From the lighting, to the colors, to the mood and the characters it feels like a slice of horror heaven pie! I was very impressed that each filmmaker was able to keep the mood and look of the particular subgenre they were using. For example, in the vampire segment the lighting is very dark and rich, with lots of dark blues and reds used. The backwoods hillbilly segment used a bleached-out look similar to the look of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Not only did the filmmakers stay true to the look and feel of the original subgenres, but they managed to cohesively tie together all the segments in a believable way.

The stories are all written quite well. Each segment really kept me guessing and wondering, is Charlie awake? Is this really happening? The nightmarish quality of the film and the different storylines really kept me interested, both visually and cerebrally.

Besides the stellar writing and direction by each of the filmmakers, the acting was also top notch. In low budget films it is easy for one (or more) bad actors to bring the whole production value down. In Summer School I couldn’t find ANY bad acting! Lead Simon Wallace does a wonderful job playing Charlie. His portrayal of a normal, intelligent kid under a lot of duress who eventually loses his grip on reality was engaging and entirely believable. Keep your eyes on Wallace; if he wants to, he will go far! The rest of the cast did a spectacular job as well. I enjoyed watching Amy Cocchiarella, who played Charlie’s love interest Lindsey, as well as Tony D. Czech and Lance Hendrickson (no, not THAT one) as Charlie’s goofy friends. Ty Richardson was also great as the school’s police man/Nazi!

Each of the segments were perfect, 15 minute examples of their particular subgenres with the special FX to back ‘em up. For a movie that was shot on an $8,000 budget, I’d say the special FX were impressive. Steven Rhoden and Ben Trandem (who both wrote and directed) handled the special FX. While not a gorefest, there are some excellent and realistic shots of blood and other nasties! I particularly enjoyed the brutal Nazisploitation segment.

Summer School is a film that schools most high-budget Hollywood horror flicks and is a film made by horror fans for horror fans (that’s actually good!!). Heck, if you’re a true horror fan, I don’t see how you couldn’t enjoy Summer School!

Summer SchoolOfficial Website

Friday, November 16, 2007

Driftwood (2007)

Tim Sullivan, director or 2001 Maniacs, follows up that 2005 gorefest with the much more subdued ghost/coming-of-age tale Driftwood. Driftwood is Sullivan’s deeply personal and very heartfelt film and, at its best, shows he is no one-trick pony good for only raucous and bloody horror comedies. At worst, though, it’s a mediocre ghost tale that plays more like a dramatic after-school special than a horror film.

David Forrester (Ricky Ullman) finds himself placed in Driftwood, a detention center for troubled male youths after his parents (the familiar faces of Lin Shayne and Marc McClure) read a blog he’d written about death, which leads them to think he would harm himself. David just lost his older brother to an overdose, but his parents just don’t understand his fixation with his death. They think that Captain Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page) can straighten him out and teach him how to be “a man” within his youth rehabilitation compound (aka prison). David is immediately branded a smart-ass and heckled by the Captain and his underlings. He is even forced to run “the gauntlet,” a military-style course, while his Level 1 bunk mates beat him. David keeps his cool and a stiff upper lip and earns the respect of the others. Meanwhile, David keeps seeing a ghostly presence and learns that the Captain’s nephew, Jonathan, who was also interned there, mysteriously disappeared. As he gets closer to solving the mystery, he may very well put his own life and the lives of those around him in peril.

Tim Sullivan is a sweetheart and I really wanted to like this film. No matter how much I like the director personally, though, a review is ultimately about the FILM itself and shouldn’t be biased. Not to worry, I’ll be as honest with my review as I normally am. While Driftwood would have functioned perfectly fine as a drama or coming-of-age story, its horror aspects fall disappointingly short. And I’m not talking just blood and guts here. While I absolutely loved 2001 Maniacs, I went into Driftwood knowing it would be tonally different. I didn’t want a hilarious gorefest. I wanted a smart, thrilling ghost story. Instead, I got a well-directed, well-acted teen movie about overcoming opposition and staying true to one’s self. Hmmmm…not exactly what I signed on for…

As just mentioned, Driftwood is directed and acted very well. Tim Sullivan creates a brooding, morose atmosphere within the prison of Driftwood. The stark and sterile place is the LAST place people should want to place their “troubled” kids. Driftwood’s ruined grounds, dark corners and unused rooms create a forlorn and lonely atmosphere. The atmosphere is reflected in the characters, all who have been condemned for being “different” and “troubled” when really they are just normal kids on their way to growing up. The actors do a wonderful job portraying their individual characters, especially Ricky Ullman as David. His eyes convey such deep and violent emotion that immediately reminded me of my own teenage angst days. On the flip side, you have a terrifically terrifying Diamond Dallas Page as the mean Captain. His performance is probably the best of all, bringing an all-too-real horror to the screen.

Still, despite the creepy direction, depressing atmosphere and great performances, I found the “ghost” aspect of the story to be sadly lacking. While the film starts off like the Thai film Dorm or Guerillmo del Toro’s masterful The Devil’s Backbone, it quickly devolves into silly jump scares and flashes of the ghost. There is no feeling of dread and definitely no good scares. The ghost himself looks like an Insane Clown Posse member when we first get a good glimpse of him. His eyes and mouth are ringed in black makeup in stark contrast against his white face, making him look more comical than anything else. There are no scenes that sent chills down my spine and the “mystery” surrounding the ghost was pretty obvious. Everything involving the ghost just seemed very amateur. I will say that the only creepy scene, involving David trying to convince his visiting parents what is really going on, a locked door and a disturbing image on a security camera, was done very effectively. I just wish there were more scenes like that throughout the film, because the rest of it plays like a bunch of misfits learning that there is nothing wrong with being themselves, solving a mystery and sticking it to The Man…kinda like a darker John Hughes movie with a Scooby Doo twist.

Tim Sullivan’s heartfelt tale comes off as a little too much drama, not enough horror. While it certainly doesn’t lack solid direction or acting, its story just didn’t focus on enough thrilling or horrifying elements to keep my attention, and I am a reviewer in the horror genre that actually LIKES movies with a slow burn.
Ultimately, Driftwood is a disappointing and, yes, boring film. Good for a rental if you want to see a very different style from director Tim Sullivan.

Available from Amazon!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Reeker (2005)

You know, when I first espied the movie Reeker, I immediately assumed it would be a cheesy monster romp, only good for a laugh or two. The plot seemed awfully familiar, as a group of college kids are stuck in the middle of nowhere while someTHING picks them off. So when I finally sat down to watch it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Reeker is a much more entertaining and clever flick than I initially gave it credit for.

Five strangers all pile into a rickety car to share a ride to a desert rave. Everything is fine and dandy until the appropriately named Trip (Scott Whyte) brags that he’s got enough E (which he stole from maniacal drug dealer Radford [Ugly Betty’s Eric Mabius], who just happens to be following the unsuspecting kids) to keep the five of them, plus a few hundred of their closest friends, pretty happy. The driver of the ragtag bunch, Gretchen (Tina Illman, who looks an awfully lot like Beetlejuice’s Lydia) isn’t taking any chances and insists on leaving Trip at the last highway diner-gas station-hotel combo they stopped at not 30 minutes before. When they arrive back at the diner, Gretchen’s old car decides to call it quits so they all troop inside to ask for help. One problem – the place is deserted. Half-eaten meals, overturned chairs and smoldering cigarette butts are all that remain to prove that just a little while ago, the joint was jumping. The hotel and gas station are also devoid of anyone and the kids can’t get anyone on the phone, much less on their signal-less cell phones. As nighttime settles on the stranded strangers, things get even more eerie. A creepy, and especially putridly pungent, specter appears and begins picking them off one by one…

I may not have had high hopes for Reeker, but I definitely got my money’s worth. Writer/director David Payne may have started with the stereotypical, kids-stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-the-boogeyman-killing-them-off storyline, but by avoiding character clichés, throwing in some genuinely funny moments and creating a spooky, engaging mystery, he has created a pretty engaging flick!

First off, the characters are very believable. They aren’t caricatures of college students nor are they the stereotypical jocks and bimbos that seem to populate horror films. No, every character feels real, like you might know someone like them in real life. The actors do a decent job of bringing their characters to life, and you’ll even notice a few of them from other films and television, like Michael Ironside, playing a fellow stranded traveler and Derek Richardson from Hostel.

Secondly, the mystery they find themselves wrapped up in (has some catastrophic terrorist attack occurred? a natural disaster? something more sinister?) is entirely engaging. You might be able to guess the ending, but you’ll still enjoy sitting through the rest of the movie to see if you are right. Payne keeps the pace moving along with some additional characters that pop up, like the previously mentioned Ironside as an RV-driving vacationer and Mabius as the crazed drug dealer.

Reeker pays off again in the gore department. While blood isn’t generously splashed across the screen every second, there are some pretty shocking moments throughout the film. For example, the opening scene shows a family driving down a deserted bit of road, only to hit a deer and splatter their entire front windshield in grue. That’s not all…the family stops to inspect the damage and the family dog runs off to explore. A few minutes later the father goes off in search of the dog while the mom and son wait by the car. The whimpering dog emerges a few minutes later…dragging its broken and bloody body behind it. While the wife tries to help, the husband stumbles out of the brush, the whole half of his head missing! This opening scene is quite a lot to live up to, but Reeker delivers the blood ‘n’ guts in more than a few surprise scenes that’ll have you jumping out of your seat.

Unfortunately, this film does have its share of negatives. The one thing that bugged me the most was the overall appearance of the Reeker creature. The creature itself was pretty wicked and scary looking, but every time it was about to appear, hazy fumes, like the kind you see reflected off the pavement on a really hot day, would announce its arrival. I think the filmmaker’s aim was to produce something akin to the stink lines that wafted off of the dirty Pig Pen from the Peanuts comic, but here it just looked plain silly. Also, it’s never quite specified whether the Reeker is solid or amorphous in nature. In one scene, it appears that the Reeker can move through walls and be invisible, but in another it is affected by bullets. Bullets? Against a rotting and putrescent corpse-like creature? Seemed more than a little far-fetched…

All in all, though, Reeker is a rather solid effort that features an interesting premise, realistic characters, good performances, a nice twist and good-lookin’ gore. And thankfully, it doesn’t live up to its own name!

Available from Amazon!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Bad Seed (1956)

For those of you following along at home, you know I’m not a big fan of kids or the whole “parenting” experience. Kids just creep me out and imagining one growing inside of me…ugh…it gives me the willies. Other people can reproduce all they want (though it would probably be a better place if most of the population DIDN’T), but you won’t see me cradling a newborn anytime soon.

My repulsion of children is probably why I love evil kid movies so much. There’s just something so inherently EVIL about kids – their grubby and germ-infested hands, drooling mouths and overall utter lack of hygiene are one thing, but the fact that kids are supposed to be these angelic innocents and, in fact, usually AREN’T is what is so disturbing about them. So, naturally I couldn’t wait to check out 1956’s The Bad Seed, which features Patty McCormack as an 8 year old who is rotten to the core!

Little Miss Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) is the picture of 1950’s perfection. She always minds her P’s and Q’s, curtsies to teachers and guests, always keeps her room tidy, her prim and proper dresses are always spot-free and her tightly braided pigtails never have a hair out of place. She is the perfect little lady and is adored by everyone. Well, almost everyone. When her doting military father, Colonel Kenneth Penmark (William Hopper), must go away to Washington D.C. for a while, Rhoda and her mother, Christine (Nancy Kelly), are left to their own devices. Christine begins to suspect that Rhoda is not the supposed innocent that she pretends to be. When fatal “accidents” start occurring, Christine becomes more suspicious of Rhoda, until she is torn between her love of her daughter and her moral obligation.

I found that The Bad Seed has definitely held up all the years since its release, though it may not be for everyone. Before being turned into a movie, it was originally adapted for stage from a book. The whole film does have a very “play-like” feel to it, like how the actors enter and exit and how it is mostly set in the Penmark’s living room. Yet, it wasn’t until AFTER I watched the film that I learned of its roots in theater and I hadn’t noticed any of the similarities to a stage play while watching the movie, so this certainly didn’t affect my view of the film.

Even though the film is over two hours long, it had more than enough story to keep me interested the entire time. To some it might seem to drag on, but I found it to be a delightful and engaging film. It is dialogue heavy, and it being 1956 when it was released, doesn’t feature any bloody deaths. Still, the increasingly strained relationship between mother and daughter, the escalating criminal behavior of Rhoda and a few twists and turns on “nature vs. nurture” kept me glued to the screen.

The intriguing story was supported by excellent acting. Patty McCormack does an amazing job as the blond-haired, blue-eyed but truly evil Rhoda. At first I thought she was overplaying the sugary sweetness of her character, but as the film continued I could see that the saccharine performance only helped to more clearly juxtapose her character’s black and rotten core. I would not want to get on this child’s wrong side! Nancy Kelly as Rhoda’s mother, Christine, also does an amazing job. Her portrayal of Christine’s mental deterioration is impressive. Her range of emotions, starting at happy at the beginning of the film and nose-diving toward depressive towards the end, is quite a spectacle to watch. You can really sympathize with her increasingly desperate situation. She definitely convinced me not to have kids (as if I needed convincing!).

If you don’t mind dialogue-heavy, black and white films, The Bad Seed is a delightful film in the “evil child” subgenre of horror. If you’ve ever found yourself carefully avoiding playgrounds and edging away from beaming parents and their newborns, you’ll find a lot to love with The Bad Seed.

Available from Amazon!
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