We lost a very unique talent recently in both the worlds of art and horror and I wanted to make sure that he was memorialized here at “The Strange, Far Places.”

H.R. Giger, Swiss master of the nightmarishly surreal has left this mortal coil.


To say that Giger’s work is unforgettable is an understatement. That’s no small feat for an artist in today’s over-exposed, disaffected, shellshocked cultural eyes, to be truly unique and imminently recognizable. Giger’s vision has always been at that edge.

Few artists can say that their style was so unique that they all-but invented a concept in the way that Giger did with “biomechanics.” This unparalleled style came directly from a nightmare he experienced while at school. In the dream, the walls of a Zürich bathroom erupted into a landscape of ravaged skin with demons (who he called “biomechanoids”) leering at him through the cracks in the walls. The artist had been plagued with night terrors since his youth and his art helped him deal with the dark nights.

His work for films from “Alien” to “Dune” to “Species” to “Prometheus” earned him an Oscar and seared his dark visions in the public mind. His album covers, posters, sculptures and interiors were legendary. But it was compendiums like his books of the dead, “Necronomicon” and “Necronomicon II,” that were perhaps his crowning glory, standing alone even today in the scope, strength and the madness of their fevered tactile expression. Many may want to pillory me, but these works form a sort of damnable version of Matisse’s masterwork “Jazz” for me, the dim hell to that colorful heaven. Brilliant.

I recently posted about one of his most iconic designs here.

What better way to pay tribute to Mr. Giger’s work than to show it? The video below takes many of his most interesting works into the 3-D space. Very interesting project (WARNING — NSFW) ::

Hans Rudolf, may you finally find peace from your nightmares. Godspeed.



In a special tribute to “Mother” in the broadest sense, we’re bringing you two reviews today uniquely suited to Mom’s Day.



Let’s start with another review from the world of dark cinema.

With each review, I am also sharing minimalist movie posters I have created for every film after watching it. (More on my film poster project at large, here. )



YEAR :: 1980

DIRECTOR :: Charles Kaufman


Ahhhhhh, Troma. The bizarre, the sensational, the “beyond the pale.” Always with Troma. This film is a textbook example of what the studio was best known for.

In many ways, “Mother’s Day” is a classic. Certainly, it’s an unforgettable ride. It tries to carry forward the schlocky fun of so many of the grindcore classics of the period, especially from the studio that brought you “The Toxic Avenger,” and on some level it succeeds in doing that. There are guilty laughs here. Overall, there is a strong sense of the ridiculous to the piece as a whole.

I mean, when the titular character, “Mother” is suffocated with an inflatable pair of fake boobs during the final “boss fight,” it’s hard not to think of this as a comedy of sorts.

That’s where the film succeeds, without question.

However, I honestly can’t think of the last comedy I watched where abduction, torture and rape were central to the plot. All of that is here in spades along with the ridiculous camp. This is the tough thing with “Mother’s Day” when fed through modern sensibilities. Grindcore just isn’t very often played for comedy anymore.

That’s where the film will run aground in the eyes of many.

So, where to net out on this film?

Personally, I have a soft spot for this type of fare. “Mother’s Day” and films like it, were what I cut my teeth on as I delved into more “adult” horror cinema as a young teen. There was something undeniably taboo about this strain of film and magnetic accordingly. I think it is that frame of mind that I can drift back into today when watching “Mother’s Day.” For that reason, I have to give it props.

Conversely. The film’s subject matter does have to take it down a peg or two. For the uninitiated, this would be a bit of an endurance test.

If you’re up for what Troma typically has to offer, this can be something quite fun. Bizzarre, grim and challenging, but fun. If you’re new to the studio or the style, I wouldn’t suggest starting here. Try “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” instead.


RATING ………………. 3.5 STARS



OK… This one’s a tough one. It’s funny to review this with “Mother’s Day,” as they do share some elements. What “Kin” does not share with “Mother’s Day,” however, is any sense of fun. This book is a blunt instrument, speckled with blood and crawling with maggots.

Here is how the publisher describes the story ::

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity. She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers — a family of cannibalistic lunatics — are closing in… A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood… In snowbound Detroit, a waitress trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back on the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun… And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance… a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers… It’s time to return to Elkwood.

This description only provides the barest HINTS at the twisted craziness that is “Kin.” As someone who spends a LOT of time in this space, even I have to say “Holy crap, this one’s relentless.” NOT for the faint of heart.

The good :: Burke does create some images that sear into the brain. One in particular was nothing short of heart-stopping. I won’t put any sort of spoiler in this review, but it was truly a skin-crawling image and concept that has remained with me since I read it (that involves a mom). Kudos on that. On that front, the book offers some inventive stuff with a solid turn of phrase. This is the best part of “Kin.” Again, very challenging material, but unforgettable.

That’s really where the novel’s true wins stop, however. Beyond those select few chilling images and set pieces, the novel is a pastiche of things we have seen before.

I was immediately reminded of the notable X-Files episode “Home.” Here is a collection of scenes from the show ::

There ARE differences. Sure. But the similarities are SO numerous that it’s tough to think there wasn’t some pretty darn siginifant influence here. And there are many other pieces “out there” that act as direct parents to this novel. That was a shame, because it cheapened the book.

The other MAJOR issue I had with the book itself was the ending. I did like aspects of the final fight at the climax of “Kin,” but the neat, shiny bow placed on the dovetailing storylines as the novel comes to an end is… At best… Unrealistic… At worst… Just plain ridiculous. Honestly, it was one of the least plausible endings I have read in a very long time. It really felt as if Burke just got tired of writing and tried to end it all quickly, giving us something sweet to chase away all of the stomach-churning images he had created thus far.

I’m giving this one the same sort of treatment I did the film above. If you’re ready for something NUTS that will leave you with creative-but-indelible images of horror, this is something to explore. But this one is really only suited for the most hardened fans of horror and they should read it for those images, those set pieces that Burke creates. Beyond that, “Kin” unfortunately charts little new territory.


RATING ………………. 2.5 STARS



I don’t post often about myself here. I do on occasion, but I guess I feel that there are so many other things more interesting in the world. HOWEVER, very early this morning, I had a terrifying dream and I felt compelled to share it here.



As I mentioned recently, I’ve just relocated for a new job. Consequently, I’m living alone for the first time in over 20 years. It’s very different thing for me.

I’m staying in a lovely little bungalow on the east side of Austin, Texas. It’s a bright place and perfect for my needs. I’ve been thrilled to be here. That bungalow was the setting for my nightmare.

In the dream, I was aware that a malevolent force was trying to get into the house. The knob on the front door shook violently, dark hands rapped at all of the windows on the building, feeling for a way in. I even heard scuttling and scratching over the roof and looked up to see an indistinct face peering in at me, silhouetted against the stars through the blackened skylight.

Then, heavy footfalls on the wood of the balcony. I approached the curtain covering the large glass sliders hesitantly, stopping and just listening to the movement out on the deck. I put my hand on the fabric hiding what stood out beyond the glass doors and paused. Then, suddenly threw it back, showing my tormenter.

The person that stood facing me, laughing maniacally, was ME. At least it looked exactly like me, but I was aware that it wasn’t me, but rather some dark version of myself. One that I knew meant me nothing but harm.

I screamed in the nightmare and I am quite sure I did in the night here in real life as well. Just terrifying.

I was instantly reminded as I sat up in bed of the climactic finale of the disorienting and disarming 60’s Brit series, “The Prisoner.” The moment when Number 6 unmasks Number 1 is an absolutely iconic scene. The mask comes off to see a man with Number 6’s features roaring with the laughter of the mad. Unnerving.

Here’s a clip from the series that gives a glimpse of that unnerving disorientation. Added bonus: It features a Beatles track in a very rare example of a TV series licensing a real song for the time. Check it out ::

After I was fully awake and thinking about the nightmare (with the lights on), I thought of the classic “Twilight Zone” episode, “Mirror Image.” It tells the story of a woman who finds her doppelganger in a bus station only to realize that her double has come to steal her life away from her. The subtle creepiness of the look she gets when her double faintly smiles down at her from a bus, knowing that she will succeed in taking away a woman’s life still gives me a chill ::


Here’s a short clip from the episode ::

I have been thinking about the dream all day. There’s no question that it’s pregnant with meaning. I will, however, leave that analysis to the stars and the darkness. Here’s to better sleep tonight.




I know… I’ve been there.

You’ve just received yet another email from that coworker that just HAS to let you know they’re going to be out of the office, despite the fact that you can’t think of a SINGLE thing that they have ever truly contributed to things. What can you send in response that conveys the proper snarky tone, but allows you to avoid sending links to things like “Mean Girls” GIFs? What can you send that allows you to keep a sense of self-respect as a true fan of horror?

Enter Edward Woodward’s unnerving performance in the watershed 1973 Brit horror masterpiece “The Wicker Man…”

Thank me later by sending this out the next time you get that dreaded email…



HR Giger’s dark designs for the “Alien” film saga are among the most indelible creations we have in the great the horror cinema cannon. Truly, a nightmare made manifest in gleaming obsidian biomech beauty.

In my staggering wanderings around the interwebs, I stumbled some time back on this amazing “dental phantom” from the 1930’s. It is from 5HandsCuriosities‘ collection. He acquired it at the famed purveyors of the weird, Obscura, in NYC. It came to mind again and I thought I would share it here. It was used for dental students to practice their craft.

When I saw it, it was an immediate, visceral connection for me (and apparently so many others who see it), with Giger’s work. Imagine entering your dark bedroom hallway to see a creature with THAT noggin leering at you. Simply awesome.