ME :: WEIRD DREAM

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.

 

weird_dream

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 ::

mirrorimage

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.

———

 

FUN :: ONE FOR THE HORROR FAN’S SNARKY EMAIL TOOLKIT

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…

———

FILM :: GREAT MINDS…

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.

dentalphantom

———

FILM :: THE PERFORMANCE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND NIGHTMARES

mccambridge

In short, Mercedes McCambridge was a badass. A total badass.

When Orson Welles calls you “the world’s greatest living radio actress,” you could basically hang it up at that point. But why do that when you could go on to win a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the classic “All the King’s Men” in addition to a nomination for the same category for her performance in the legendary “Giant.”

But honestly, none of those items are what modern audiences know her best for.

McCambridge gives the bone-chilling, absolutely unforgettable performance behind the performance in The Exorcist. She is the embodiment of Pazuzu, the demon that takes hold of Linda Blair’s possessed Regan McNeil.

There’s so often so much talk about method actors who give themselves over to a performance and yet we never hear about what went into McCambridge’s landmark performance. Watch this short piece on how incredible it really was ::

The end of that clip makes me laugh every time. “Finish your popcorn.” I love it. I’m telling you… Badass.

Watch this clip of the natural sound from the scene before McCambridge’s work was edited in. It’s a wonderful example of just how much she brings to not only the film, but also the lexicon of what we think of as “possession” ::

That is NOT to take anything away from what Blair brought to the role. That is nothing short of amazing in itself. Though there is an undeniable creepiness to the natural sound, it is the fusing of the two storied performances that creates the stuff of legend.

Here’s another excerpted clip showing her truly frightening skills. Very much worth a watch. It gives me chills ::

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/2677617

Here’s to you, Mercedes, you badass, you! We miss you.

———

LITERATURE :: REVIEW… “BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST” BY CORMAC McCARTHY

A truly different book merits a very different kind of review.

bloodmeridian

I will give you my take on Cormac McCarthy’s blood-soaked epic “Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West,” BUT, to be honest, everything I say will pale in significance to the sheer muscularity, the crimson sinew of this masterpiece. It comes to life like a dreamlike Gehenna that is equal parts Updike, Jodorowsky, Faulkner, Pynchon and Peckinpah with a soft kiss of Hesse. It’s rather like a crazed dark composition akin to something like Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor composed by a demonic and unhinged anti-Copland. It is a true treasure of the American literary cannon and among the absolute best books of our time. In fact, Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005 list.

But… Why here? Why review this book on a blog dedicated to the horrific? Because it is just that, majestically horrific, brutally violent and bluntly chilling to the marrow.

But again, anything I write here will pale when set alongside the strength of “Blood Meridian.” I feel it best to share four haunting passages from the book to allow you to experience in small part its dark grandeur for yourselves and say nothing further.

Check these quotes out… Truly… Stunning…

—–

“A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.”

—–

“They rode on and the sun in the east flushed pale streaks of light and then a deeper run of color like blood seeping up in sudden reaches flaring planewise and where the earth drained up into the sky at the edge of creation the top of the sun rose out of nothing like the head of a great red phallus until it cleared the unseen rim and sat squat and pulsing and malevolent behind them. The shadows of the smallest stones lay like pencil lines across the sand and the shapes of the men and their mounts advanced elongate before them like strands of the night from which they’d ridden, like tentacles to the darkness yet to come.”

—–

“Spectre horsemen, pale with dust, anonymous in the crenellated heat. Above all else they appeared wholly at venture, primal, provisional, devoid of order. Like beings provoked out of the absolute rock and set nameless and at no remove from their own loomings to wander ravenous and doomed and mute as gorgons shambling the brutal wastes of Gondwanaland in a time before nomenclature was and each was all.”

—–

“All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear.”

—–

In all, an enduring, violent vision of the American West, charred, blood-stained, caked with mud and choked with dust… All staggeringly, beautifully realized.

strangelogoforblog_5_stars

RATING ………………. 5 STARS

———

FILM :: BEST OF HORROR SHORTS… “LIGHTS OUT”

filmshorts

This week, we’re bringing you the winner of the “Best Director” title in the Who’s There? Film Challenge. I will be bringing many of these winners your way over the coming weeks. There is some reallllllly interesting stuff here. TOTAL hats off to the folks that build these shorts. It’s no mean feat to complete one of these projects, let alone to bring the real magic of telling a compelling story in 3 minutes. Props to all!

We’re headed to Gothenburg, Sweden for this installment; a devilishly fun little film called “Lights Out.” Animator and filmmaker David Sandberg does an incredible job of involving the viewer immediately in the story with minimal elements and an very-simple-but-very-effective premise. This is wonderfully age-transcendent, too — Genuine chills, but doesn’t need shock and gore to achieve them. Big fun.

Special THANKS to John Seitz for mentioning this one! Big ups, brother.

———

JUST ME :: I’M BACK… I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME…

OK… Soooo… The month since I last posted saying I was back has been hellish.

As I mentioned, I was overwhelmed with the new job and some travel. Unfortunately, my wife then fell gravely ill and we came very, very close to losing her. BUT… She’s back and better than ever now. We have a really solid plan of attack for next steps on her full recovery. We’re all very grateful. I write this through tears of happiness.

Forgive the aside, but my silence in these channels has been wearing on me and I wanted to at least offer a glimpse at why things have been so quiet as well as a renewed commitment to NEW CONTENT! Long story short, I’m here again and eager to get things moving.

THANKS and we return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

———

MUSIC :: A HORROR FAN’S RUNNING PLAYLIST — PART VII — “EVIL”

This is the seventh installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about EVIL — that creeping abomination that lives in the black heart of darkness. As I steel myself to shake off the “afternoon drowsies” and head out there and get my running shoes in motion, I felt it was time for another post in this series.

runningplaylist

On with the dark tuneage.  ::

======

19

“Evil Eye” — Franz Ferdinand

What a sweet groove. I really love this one. This album was a huge sleeper but was really one of the best releases of 2013. Horror lovers will ADORE this video — a really fun nod to the grindhouse horror gems of the early 70’s. You go, boys! Rock it out!

======

20

“Good Mourning, Black Friday” — Megadeth

I had the incredibly good fortune to see these gents last summer open for Iron Maiden. They sounded really great and I was thrilled to have caught them live. Without question, Megadeth are virtuosos of the metal craft and always turned out some of the most intelligent work of the genre, IMHO. This track off of the landmark masterpiece “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying,” has awesome build and a delightfully sinister and psychotic quality. Careful… The guitar work may melt your face off. Running faster may mitigate the face-melting properties of this blazer.

======

21

“Wailing Wintry Wind” — Baroness

I caught these guys live as well in 2013. SIMPLY. AWESOME. I seriously think that there is no one doing it with quite as much heart, soul and raw power as Baroness right now. Their blend of sheer talent and elemental potency is unmatched. This song demonstrates a touch of that blend. First of all, buy everything recorded by this band… AND if you ever have a chance to experience them live, don’t even think about it. GO! Get your feet moving to this one, folks!

======

Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s all of the other parts in this series — CHECK IT OUT.

———

ART :: POSADA… CALAVERA OF THE WEEK

posada

Welcome to the latest in an ongoing tribute to the master of the calavera, José Posada. As I say each week… His rapier visual wit and penchant for the visual metaphor of the human bone remain stunningly fresh today. Sadly, he died penniless and was buried in an unmarked grave. May this series serve as that lasting nod to his incredible legacy.

posada4

———

ART :: CLASSIC HORROR MOVIE QUOTES… PART I… ANNNNND AN ANNOUNCEMENT

This the first post in a series of images that pays homage to the most iconic of quotes from the chilling, memorable and often darkly humorous world of horror film. Each piece features totally hand-created custom typography for the quotes themselves. A BIG “thank you” to all of the writers who give us those words that inspire in each of us as many broad smiles as cold chills. Enjoy!

Consider this a Top 10. Here is #10 and #09 in order ::

#10 :: AMERICAN PSYCHO

americanpsycho_type_dej

—–

#09 :: DAWN OF THE DEAD

dawnofthedead_type_dej

=======

I am also very pleased to announce the grand opening of my Society6 store! Selected posters and other art featured here at The Strange Far Places or in my other film-oriented personal projects are available there for purchase. All of this is really a labor of love for me, but I had some requests to obtain some of my work and it was quite fun for me to make it available. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

CHECK OUT MY SOCIETY6 STORE >> 

———

ART :: THE TOP 50 HORROR POSTERS OF ALL TIME… 30 >> 26

As you may be able to tell, I love great poster art, but especially posters from the great horror movie cannon. This is the fifth installment of my countdown of the best of the genre.

Here’s how I selected the list. I used three main criteria to shape my decisions ::

======

>> DESIGN / IMAGE — This is the baseline. As a designer by trade, I feel strongly that any great or effective poster HAS to start here. Is the poster effective as a piece of art? Is the poster is a strong representative of the art of graphic design? Did it capture a particular spirit or movement in design?

>> TITILLATION / PROMOTION — Though we tend to contextualize film and the associated collateral as “art,” it is ultimately a form of commerce. Any movie poster has to promote the film it supports either through a delicious tease or overt sales pitch. How effective is the poster at selling the film it is tied to?

>> IMPACT / LEGACY — Sometimes even mediocre films get truly great posters. Sometimes, we even remember the image of the poster far longer than the film itself. What was the lasting effect of the poster? Was it iconic or timeless in some way? Was a part of a larger context?

======

Every poster on this list is a cocktail of the above elements, mixed in different ways. All successful in their own right. Let’s jump in to 30 >> 26…

numbers30

twenty_eight_weeks_later

2007

numbers29

the_crazies

2010

numbers28

brides_of_dracula

1960

numbers27

it_conquered_the_world

1956

numbers26

house_on_haunted_hill

1959

Look for Part VI, coming right up!

Special thanks to http://www.impawards.com for many of the images in this countdown. AWESOME site.

———