ART :: ROGER CORMAN AND EDGAR ALLAN POE… PART II

Welcome to Part II of my tribute to hollywood (and hollywood horror) legend Roger Corman. I am creating an 8 poster series in tribute to Corman’s early-1960’s “Poe Cycle,” where he brought classic stories from the EA Poe cannon to film. You can read Part I here, with my actual article on Corman and view Posters I and II there as well.

Again, a big THANK YOU to Mr. Corman for all he has done for film and horror-lovers everywhere.

Without further delay… The Posters — III and IV ::

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ART :: LES EDWARDS, PART II… “RAWHEAD REX”

I recently featured a series of paintings by master horror artist Les Edwards. I wanted to follow up with another showcase of his work featuring a particular project, his adaptation of “Rawhead Rex,” from Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood.” When bringing something to life that exists only in words and mental images, I feel the best adaptations bring the artist’s imagination to bear on the project in a fundamental way. Think of the iconic hockey mask for Jason Voorhees. Many people forget that the mask doesn’t make an appearance until 2/3 through “Friday the 13th Part III.” It was director Steve Miner who saw that the hockey mask originally had potential and asked his team to bring it to life on Jason himself. It would be impossible to now think of the character any other way, the mask choice so defined the image of Voorhees in our collective consciousness. Edwards has brought his vision to bear on the Rawhead Rex character in the same way in this graphic novel.

I LOVE the look of this adaptation. It was not influenced by the look of the 1986 film and the new ground it breaks is just perfect. Apart from the apparent masterful artistry of the illustrations themselves, there is a ghoulish delight in the approach here. I have always thought the concepts in the original story were very strong, and felt that the film was a very halting realization at best. This version really brings the story to life. I would absolutely love to see a new film based on this vision for the story. If the great film gods are listening, you would make one little horror blogger a very happy man, if you would oblige.

The Art ::

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ART :: ROGER CORMAN AND EDGAR ALLAN POE… PART I

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Roger Corman, the living hollywood legend, in 2011 in a unique live opportunity as a part of “Vincentennial,” a month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Price here in St. Louis. The Corman event I attended was part of a two-night event at the Hi-Pointe, a local art house theatre with real history. I attended a screening of “Masque of the Red Death” and Corman followed the film with live musings about his career at large with some specific focus on his genre films. His long-running relationship with Vincent Price and his reputation as a Hollywood maverick / icon brought him to the celebration as a featured speaker.

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It was really an amazing experience. Corman himself is the person that we all wish Hollywood was filled with — honest, talented, fun, hip and real with true talent. His stories were fascinating.

As someone who has directed over 55 films and produced more than 385, Corman’s influence is unmistakable. Many of today’s legendary directors got their start working for Corman, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Armondo Linus Acosta, Paul Bartel, Jonathan Demme, Donald G. Jackson, Gale Anne Hurd, Carl Colpaert, Joe Dante, James Cameron, John Sayles, Monte Hellman, George Armitage, Jonathan Kaplan, George Hickenlooper, Curtis Hanson, Jack Hill, Robert Towne, Michael Venzor and Timur Bekmambetov. So many legendary actors that we consider masters today got their break in Corman projects including Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Michael McDonald, Dennis Hopper, Talia Shire, Sandra Bullock, and Robert De Niro.

Most importantly for this site, he has helped make many of the horror films we most associate with the cult side of the genre. “Monster from the Ocean Floor,” “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “The Undead,” “The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent,” “A Bucket of Blood,” “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “Tower of London,” “X,” “Dementia 13,” “The Dunwich Horror,”  “Death Race 2000,” “Piranha,” “Galaxy of Terror” and “Frankenstein Unbound” are just a few of the cult classics Corman helped to make.

As a tribute to Mr. Corman and all he has done for both lovers of film and lovers of horror, I am creating a series of new posters dedicated to the eight emblematic films of the “Poe Cycle.” For Part I, I have created the posters for the first two films in the series,  “House of Usher” (1960), “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961). Keep watching for the remaining 6 posters.

Mr. Corman, on the VERY off-chance that you see this, THANK YOU for all you have done for film and horror-lovers everywhere.

The Posters — I and II ::

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ART :: HELP A BROTHER OUT… PLEASE VOTE FOR ME ON THREADLESS!

Building on today’s post about horror films ready to drop yet this year… I wanted to reach out with a request here at “The Strange, Far Places.”

I would be VERY grateful if you would vote for my submission to the Threadless “You’re Next” t-shirt design competition.

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Here’s what Threadless says about this design challenge ::

Revered as one of the sharpest and most horrifying films in years, You’re Next reimagines the home invasion horror genre in a fresh, twisted light. When the Davison clan retreats to a remote vacation home in the woods, their family reunion takes a grisly turn. A team of ax-wielding, animal-masked psychopaths begins hunting down family members one by one, and the body count quickly rises until an unexpected houseguest fights back.

We’re stoked for this sure-to-be stellar summer slasher flick, described by reviewers as a mashup of Scream, Die Hard, and Home Alone. And we want you to take inspiration from its chilling creatures for your next design.

We challenge you to make a killer tee inspired by masked maniacs. Pull from the delightfully dark animal imagery of the masked mugs below, or imagine a dysfunctional family get-together gone gruesome. We encourage you to use imagery from the film, but we’ll also welcome any macabre masked madmen. Just steer clear of established baddies like Jason or Michael Myers.

Here are my thoughts on my design from the entry page ::

What makes “You’re Next” so cool to me is that it turns the home invasion slasher genre on its head. I love the creative twist there and that’s what I wanted this design to explore. I’m also a freak for depth of field and the interplay of positive and negative space. I think it makes for a really iconic and striking look.

Annnnd… here is the design ::

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THANK YOU!

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ART :: LES EDWARDS, PAINTER OF HORROR

For the past 35 years, Les Edwards has given horror fans some truly spine-chilling images. He is a true leader within the genre. His ability to capture the personality of his subjects in a painterly way is only outpaced by his skill rendering textures. Look at those fabrics! Look at that hair and those skin surfaces!  Join me in tribute to this painter of nightmares.

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ART :: CALLING ALL LOVERS OF HORROR!

Recently, I was asked to share my favorite television show in a client meeting. Though people were relatively nice when I replied “The Walking Dead,” you could tell that the response was met with furtive glances and ever-so-slightly furrowed brows. Definitely an element of… “Really… Isn’t that weird?” I get that reaction a lot.

Yes, I’m obviously a fan of HORROR. A denizen of “The Dark.” I wear my fandom on my sleeve. It doesn’t make me weird (I’m just weird on my own), or maladjusted, or a sadist, or anything else but someone who loves a good chill down his spine.

I know I’m not alone.

That’s why I created this series of graphics celebrating that love. Welcome to the “PROUD LOVER OF HORROR” series. Each graphic couples a central horror-driven illustration with a strong central “PROUD LOVER OF HORROR” message. To top it off, a message of solidarity, taken from Tod Browning’s 1932 TOTALLY heart wrenching and absolutely chilling masterpiece “Freaks.” The chant of “One of us! One of Us!” is an embrace within the film and that’s how I mean it here… A clarion call to all of us.

Such a classic.

Please select the graphic that suits your style best ::

~ “80’s Classic” :: A nod to the great slasher period in horror film.
~ “The Golden Age” :: A tribute to the pioneering gothic masterworks of yesteryear.
~ “Contemporary” :: Zombies. Because it’s 2013.

Please print and display the image of your choosing at your workplace, on your fridge, on your bedroom mirror. Wherever you can share it with pride. Better yet, display them all. These graphics would also work great as an addition to your horror blog or other horror site. I have provided links to higher res versions of the images for better printing as well.

All I ask is that you DO NOT steal and claim you invented the images (please note the copyright on these images as part of this site) and please display with with TRUE HORROR PRIDE.

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AND… The higher res images for download. Again, these images may not be altered or stolen, just take ’em and display ’em with pride ::

~ 80s CLASSIC
~ GOLDEN AGE
~ CONTEMPORARY

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ART :: JOSHUA HOFFINE, HORROR PHOTOGRAPHY

Today, I wanted to share some contemporary horror work that I personally find very inspiring. Joshua Hoffine is a photographer based in Kansas City, MO (Represent, MISSOURI!). His dark, carefully constructed photos explore, in his words, “the psychology of fear.” I love the concept of reawakening and recreating the fears of childhood in many of these tableaus. Brilliantly conceived and created work. Take a peek below and please visit Joshua’s site.

All Images in This Post ©2013 Joshua Hoffine

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Annnnnd, BIG UPS to @jseitz for bringing Joshua’s work back into my brain this weekend!

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TRIBUTE :: BERNIE WRIGHTSON, MASTER OF THE MACABRE

As a young lad, I spent many hours in the dark and arcane environs of the Titus Avenue location of Rochester, New York’s Empire Comics. When I wasn’t in the arcade, I was drawn to the horror comics in the stacks, trying to pull together what money I had to take what I could home with me.

Among the most prized issues I did manage to bring home were the early issues of DC’s “Swamp Thing” and a new comic I had purchased; the first issue of “Berni Wrightson, Master of the Macabre.”  I was absolutely taken with the style of the art. Incredible brush work and absolutely STUNNING pen and ink pieces soared on the pages within. The perspective was always fascinating and the tension within the illustrations was unmatched. It kept me poring over those pages again and again. I must have read those hundreds of times.

The self-titled comic gathered stories from Wrightson’s past — work for “Eerie Magazine,” the legendary horror comic anthology. Look at these panels from “The Pepper Lake Monster.” The detail in the ink work and the perspective are simply amazing. As a fan of cryptozoology as well, I was in hog heaven when I saw this piece.

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For Christmas that year, my parents got me “Creepshow,” the graphic novel. Wrightson at the helm again and for a young lad with dreams of being an artist and more than his fair share of a love of horror, I was completely in love. I remain in love to this day, only moreso as I understand more the true genius of his unique talent. I credit this early exposure as a direct inspiration for my career in the arts as a graphic designer.  On my best day, I don’t even have a thimbleful of Mr. Wrightson’s talent, but he drove me to dream.

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Wrightson spent 10 years illustrating scenes from Mary Shelley’s classic “Frankenstein.” To say that the resulting collection of illustrations is gorgeous barely hints at the quality of this work. It is JAW-DROPPING. I remember a writer once saying “I’m pretty sure these illustrations have supernatural powers.” I agree. Look and wonder at a few samples from the collection ::

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Wow. Just wow.

From early work for DC’s horror comic “House of Secrets,” through the game changing “Swamp Thing,” to “Eerie,” “Frankenstein” and the myriad other projects throughout a long and storied career, I personally want to nominate Bernie Wrightson (changed to “Berni” for some work to eliminate confusion with a US diver of the same name) to the great (yet to be built) Horror Hall of Fame. Thank you, Bernie, for the years of art, inspiration and chills. Those who say that comics aren’t “real art” clearly haven’t seen your work.

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LITERATURE :: EMILY DICKINSON, THE EMBRACE OF DEATH

Emily Dickinson is a master of the dark. Yeah, you heard me… Emily Dickinson. Simply put, her fascination with and expression of death’s gothic embrace places her soundly in the great cannon of horror. I know some may recoil at this characterization, but I absolutely LOVE her work and think it very fitting to pay homage to her here.

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Only a select few have given us the sinew and bone of language that Dickinson shows in her poetry and I feel strongly that we see that muscularity at its finest when it explores death and its release thematically in her work. The poems move, challenge and inspire even after repeated readings. The images, so often dark and ringed with the steely edge of fatality and finality, dance and play with unmatched touch.

Look at this incredible example ::

That after Horror—that ’twas us—

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That after Horror—that ’twas us—
That passed the mouldering Pier—
Just as the Granite Crumb let go—
Our Savior, by a Hair—

A second more, had dropped too deep
For Fisherman to plumb—
The very profile of the Thought
Puts Recollection numb—

The possibility—to pass
Without a Moment’s Bell—
Into Conjecture’s presence—
Is like a Face of Steel—
That suddenly looks into ours
With a metallic grin—
The Cordiality of Death—
Who drills his Welcome in—

Good GOD, the language. The dark beauty. The “metallic grin” of Death, drilling his welcome in from the last stanza is nothing short of stunning. In many ways, she manages to presage in just a few words the biomechanical horrors of HR Giger’s brilliant oeuvre in image, but imbues it with a devilishly welcoming presence. AND, she did it in the mid-nineteenth-century.

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Another famous example ::

Because I could not stop for Death–

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Because I could not stop for Death–
He kindly stopped for me–
The Carriage held but just Ourselves–
And Immortality.

We slowly drove–He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility–

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess–in the Ring–
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain–
We passed the Setting Sun–

Or rather–He passed us–
The Dews drew quivering and chill–
For only Gossamer, my Gown–
My Tippet–only Tulle–

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground–
The Roof was scarcely visible–
The Cornice–in the Ground–

Since then–’tis Centuries–and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity–

Again, amazing. I almost feel that to say too much is to take away from the work itself.

And from the “Totally Epic Things That Will Never Happen” file, I fantasize about an album where total metal masters Baroness take Dickinson’s work and interpret it through song. Holy crap, talk about too much awesome. Hey, a boy can have his fantasies, right? Listen to these and imagine her work interpreted in this way ::

Boys, if you’re listening out there, help a brother out and consider at least one track like this. (PS — I saw your show at The Firebird here in St. Louis and I’m still riding on a musical high from it. Keep it up!)

I think the obituary that Susan Dickinson wrote about her friend summed Emily’s talent best :: “A Damascus blade gleaming and glancing in the sun was her wit. Her swift poetic rapture was like the long glistening note of a bird one hears in the June woods at high noon, but can never see..”

Emily, thank you for the rich, dark heritage you have left us.

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ART :: A CENTURY OF HORROR CLASSICS

The 19th century gave us some of the most indelible images and stories of the horror genre. The monsters and men set forth in the books of that era continue to haunt us today and form the basis for our modern scene.

As I have mentioned, I am a designer by trade and I love to play with personal projects. I thought I would share a concept that I have been working on to pay homage to the great horror masterworks of the 19th century. I’m calling the project “A Century of Horror Classics.” I have designed and illustrated shirts representing 7 incredibly seminal works from that era. Here a list of the works in chrono order ::

~ “Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus” :: Mary Shelley (1818)
~ “Melmoth the Wanderer” :: Charles Maturin (1820)
~ “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” :: Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
~ “The Picture of Dorian Gray” :: Oscar Wilde (1890)
~ “The Great God Pan” :: Arthur Machen (1894)
~ “Dracula” :: Bram Stoker (1897)
~ “The Turn of the Screw” :: Henry James (1898)

Annnd… Here are the designs in an order I thought presented well for the blog ::

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Drop a line and let me know what you think of these. I know I will wear them in honor of the horror greats they represent.

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ART :: BELLEFONTAINE CEMETERY, A PHOTO ESSAY

Two years ago on my birthday, my lovely wife and daughter treated me to a perfect day. At the center of the day’s activities was a “photo safari” amongst the peaceful, yet deliciously creepy Victorian gothic splendor that is St. Louis’ legendary Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Bellefontaine was created in 1849 and has hosted 87,000 burials as of 2012. It is an exquisite example of the grand Victorian tradition of the “arboretum cemetery” or “rural cemetery.” It is also a wonderful illustration of the Victorian fascination with death and the dead. Truly gorgeous tableaus abound and there is no shortage of beautifully morbid imagery rendered in the silent, stately stone of the headstones, monuments and crypts throughout the rolling grounds.

I can’t say enough how WORTH IT a visit is.

As I was designing this blog, I mined the results of my photos to create the background for these pages. Looking at the photos again, I thought they would be cool to share here. Below, I have included just a few examples. Visit this link to see all of my photos from the day ::

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SEE THE FULL PHOTO ESSAY >

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Please, visit Bellefontaine Cemetery for yourself. It is a true gem for those who love their beauty tinged with a touch of historic gothic horror.

Address :: 4947 W Florissant Ave, St Louis, MO 63115
Phone :: (314) 381-0750
Hours :: Every Day 8:00AM to 4:00PM

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