Archive for » November, 2008 «

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

After reading some of the comments over at The Vault of Horror, I thought it was only fair that I post my own submissions to the project. The nature of this project is that it was an average from over 30+ contributors, each with their own opinions and tastes. With many people surprised that there were no votes for Hammer films and such, I just wanted to show that there were indeed votes for these films!

So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 nominations for the Top 50 Horror Films of All Time.

1. Alien
2. Something Wicked This Way Comes
3. Friday the 13th
4. Halloween
5. Poltergeist
6. The Curse of Frankenstein
7. American Werewolf in London
8. Ginger Snaps
9. Dead Alive
10. The Vampire Lovers

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Brian over at The Vault of Horror was both surprised and disgusted at the recent list of top 50 horror films published by HMV, and all with good reason. Brian also took it upon himself to call to action the League of Tana Tea Drinkers to name our own list of top 50 horror films! I was thrilled to take part in this newest survey, so be sure to jump over to The Vault of Horror for the full list!

The “Cyber-Horror Elite” Have Spoken: Presenting the Top 50 Horror FIlms of All Time!
Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about my horror snobbery, let me just take the piss out of myself here and make it clear that this is nothing more than a fun little exercise, and “Cyber-Horror Elite” is a tongue-in-cheek term, at best. Nevertheless, it does represent the composite opinions of the some of the most high-profile writers/critics in the online horror community, so take it for what you will.

Just to get everyone up to speed, some days ago, HMV put out the results of their highly flawed survey of the top 50 horror movies of all time. After I replaced the lunch I had lost going over their atrocity, I set about putting into a motion a plan to retaliate with a list of my own. A list that I hoped would be representative of the opinions of those who actually love horror, and for whom the genre is a genuine passion.

Brian’s full article after the jump…

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We have a rousing discussion about horror history this week that is spurred by our review of Todd Browning’s 1932 film “Freaks”. Along the way we discuss some of the stranger moments of the film, as well as the way our cultural viewpoints paint the way we view the film versus the way someone in 1932 would have. Oh, and Louis Fowler stops by to obliterate Twilight fans. A good time is had by all.

Listen now at Bloody Good Horror!

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Monday, November 24th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Those of you that follow me on Twitter caught wind of this once I returned home Friday when I sent out the update “Guess who spent Friday night in the emergency room at the heart center?” As you can tell, it was indeed a Friday night from hell!

Starting about a week ago, Thursday November 20th to be exact, my family doctor had started me on new meds for anxiety and some other minor issues. It’s something I’ve been fighting off for awhile and I was looking forward to being stress free for a bit. Unfortunately, the meds didn’t work as planned!

By the time Monday rolled around 4 days later, I found my self at work and I was on edge. I had massively high anxiety unlike anything I had experienced before starting the meds. Muscles were tense, I was focused in on the worst possible outcome of anything I encountered for the day, jittery, couldn’t concentrate, the works. I initially wrote this off as side effects of the new pills and assumed it would pass in a day or two. Tuesday rolled around; all the same. Throughout the remainder of last week, the high anxiety remained prominent and grew worse as the week passed.

On Friday, I started out in much the same as the rest of the week; on edge, couldn’t concentrate, all of the normal symptoms. Except now, I was getting extra. In addition to the normal problems I had all week, I was now experiencing blurred vision, even less concentration, heavy and tingly arms, back pain between my shoulder blades, and profuse sweating from my palms. It was at this time I decided enough was enough and that this side effect wasn’t going to work itself out, so I decided to call the doctor.

On my first call, I landed in the medical assistant’s voice mail. I left a message, described the problems and waited. Seeing as how anxious I was already at this point, not an easy prospect. I waited roughly two hours and called again; voice mail. Finally, knowing that the doctor’s office closed at 4:30, I called again around 3:30 and told them I really needed to talk to somebody. While all of this waiting is going on, my anxiety is climbing exponentially and the symptoms are getting worse and worse. Third time was the charm though; they patched me through to a triage nurse and I finally got to plead my case. All this time, I figured it was nothing but a reaction to my new medication and told the nurse as much, and began to list off my symptoms. As I went through the list, she interrupted me after about the fifth symptom with “I don’t want to scare you sir, but those symptoms are possible indicators of a heart attack. You need to go to the emergency room, just to be safe.”

As you can imagine, this isn’t news that anybody wants to hear. When you’re in the grips of a panic attack (which I found out later was the culprit) it becomes even worse. So now I get off the phone with my heart racing, my breath coming in shorter and short gulps. I figured at this point I needed to call my wife to let her know even though I knew it would make her panic as well. But, I did the right thing and called her anyways and set off on my own to get to the doctor. (Stupid, I know!)

The triage nurse instructed me to head to the closest immediate care office and to explain to them I was having heart symptoms, they would take care of me. The nearest immediate care facility was halfway between home and work, so off I went. I shot through 4pm Carmel traffic all the while thinking I was in the throes of a heart attack. With my anxiety as it was, I was now imagining the further symptoms as well; tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, feeling faint, all that. I finally made it to the office after about fifteen minutes and stormed in pronouncing loudly that I was having heart symptoms and needed help! The nurse at the front desk looked at me annoyed and stated plainly, “They told you to come here? We can’t help you here, you need to go to the emergency room at the heart center.” This dumbfounded me of course, and I stood there staring blankly at the lady for a moment wondering how I could be standing here thinking I was having a heart attack and they could tell me they couldn’t help me. Finally, I stammered out “where is that?” and got directions, and set off again. The kicker was, the Heart Center was back across Carmel. Five minutes from where I work. Where I was at when I got off the phone with the nurse.

Eventually, I got the emergency room and they took care of me immediately. They took me in right away and hooked me up to the machines and started working their magic and tests. I wasn’t long before they assured me they thought I was fine and eventually the decision was made that my problem was a high anxiety attack brought on by my reaction to my new meds. It was still a traumatic night overall, but the doctor assures me that my ticker looks perfectly healthy after all the tests. My wife & daughter were understandably frantic by the time I came home, (the nurse told me I’d get to go home so not to have my wife drive in) and I was both hugged heavily and scolded (lovingly) for putting them through that.

In the end, all is well, I’m off the new meds and still twitchy as all hell! But, it’s getting better!

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Futurama: Bender’s Game

Many were sad at the announcement that they would be ending “Futurama” and we rejoiced when they then announced that there would be a series of feature length movies coming in their wake. “Bender’s Game” is the third feature in those feature movies, and true enough it’s been the most enjoyable out of them all.

In “Bender’s Game” the gang finds themselves trapped in a fantasy world, Bender addicted to dungeons & dragons, a shortage of dark matter, Professor Farnsworth is the father of one of MOM’s boys, and … well, you know how Futurama goes. There are so many side plots to any given episode that it’s impossible to list them all! And in that statement lies the story of “Bender’s Game”; this is a feature length movie that feels like an overlong episode. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; we get the familiar elements that we as fans have grown to love. However, it begins to feel a bit think by the forty five minute mark and at this point the jokes become a bit stale and attention begins to wander.

“Bender’s Game” is good as far as the Futurama world goes; it just suffers a bit from its length. Keep in mind though that each of the movies have suffered this same issue, and all it really does is remind you how great the series was!

Come on Fox, you brought “Family Guy” back. Bring “Futurama” back too!

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Return to Sleepaway Camp

Twenty five years ago Angela Baker terrorized Camp Arawak after her psychological breakdown. Two other times beyond that she returned to wreak havoc and take revenge on camp bullies. Cut to today; welcome to Camp Manabe, run by greedy Frank and his half partner Ronnie. Arawak has been shutdown and demolished, but Angela’s been locked up for years, so no need to worry about that. So it’s business as usual for summer camp hijinks. Counselors screw, kids horse around, and bullies pick on the awkward. Enter Alan; he’s overweight, smelly, strange, and pushy. He’s also not very popular and becomes the official camp scapegoat for the summer. With frequent violent outbursts and disappearances, Alan becomes the prime suspect when the dead bodies begin to arrive once again!

The original “Sleepaway Camp” is a classic unto itself, if for nothing else than the final frame of film. The first sequel was passable, and the third was forgettable. There was a fourth that was never even finished. With this history in mind, the first question one must ask is; “Who wanted another sequel?” However, in this time of remakes and shoddy creativity, one can ask as well; “Well, why not?” Armed with the only major weapon they could muster, the original Felicia Rose and a handful of other familiar faces from the original flick, they settled on the ‘why not’ answer and made themselves a little movie.

At its core, “Return to Sleepaway Camp” is no different than any of the past movies; it’s chock full of corny jokes, over the top humiliation and screeching pansies. Where it differentiates itself is in its main star Alan. Michael Gibney, who plays our star, is an inexperienced actor trying to make his mark. Lucky for him he does! As the penultimate dweeb, he shines with his screechy returns and repetitive insults. (“Your ass stinks!”) He’s not the second coming of Carey Grant here, but the movie does shine a little brighter when he is on screen. The rest of the cast packed around him are really nothing more than scenery. All of the characters and the actors playing them are generic and fail to draw any sympathy from the crowd. It is nice seeing the few familiar faces from the first movie, namely Ronnie and Vincent Pastore, with a small scene for Angela’s brother Justin Tiersten. I will throw in here that it was cool to see Felicia Rose return once again, but there wasn’t much for her there. I was never all that attached to her in the role, so it wasn’t a deciding factor on the movie.

Where “Return to Sleepaway Camp” excels is in the kills! As sadistic as it sounds, they were all truly enjoyable and original. The special effects were handled well and helped to round out the week and stale story line. Be it a toilet death or nail aided bunk bed death, they were definitely the highlight of the film.

In the end, “Return to Sleepaway Camp” is a pretty bad movie. It’s filled with bad acting, warmed up plot and bad jokes. It is however a fun movie! Despite it’s flaws, they never once attempted to take themselves overly serious in the film and managed to created a pretty campy through back. Ultimately, you’re going to groan, but you’re going to laugh quite a bit as well.

4 stinky fat kids out of 10

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Monday, November 17th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We revisit the “Ginger Snaps” series this week with a review of the first sequel “Unleashed”. Along the way we get into the finer points of “Female Hysteria”, purity balls and all sorts of other madness.

Head over to Bloody Good Horror to listen!

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Sunday, November 16th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Today marks another publication for yours truly! Head over to Six Sentences to check out my latest flash fiction, ‘Secret Symphony’!

Fair warning: It’s a far cry from my usual attempts!

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Monday, November 10th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We have a laid back show this week as we discuss “Feast II: Sloppy Seconds”. The crew hasn’t been this divided since the infamous “Postal” episode. We also talk a bit about the election and continue our long history of porn filled Google reports.

Head over to Bloody Good Horror to listen

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Wednesday, November 05th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Movie

As I look back at the the theatrical release for “Hancock”, I’m reminded of the preconception problem that the movie faced; I myself, along with thousands of others, were prepared for the worst. Most expected nothing more than hammy Will Smith acting like a drunken hobo and many catch phrases such as ‘Welcome to ERF!’ While the first half of the movie did in fact fit this preconception, it’s not to heavy handed, it provides some good laughs, and is generally slightly annoying but bearable. The trailers however, at least the ones that I’ve watched, are misleading; at the half way point “Hancock” turns the corner into a serious action movie, a solid super hero origin story, and in general a hell of a lot of fun.

The key to enjoying “Hancock” is remembering the fact that it’s a pure origin story. It’s also an original origin story; instead of trying to opt in a long existing coming book yarn and conforming it to a new format, they’ve set out to create an entirely new hero with zero back story. The first half of the film that focuses on the down and out hero is necessary. We don’t know where he’s coming from, we don’t know who he is. Instead of ret conning (Thanks Schnaars!) a story of hardship and trauma into an existing story line, we’re watching it develop from the beginning. Act 2 introduces us to the first appearance of the hero. He reluctantly sets to help out the populace in a non destructive and sober way. He’s nervous, he’s a bit cocky, he’s emerged from the origin ashes. Act 3 gives us a taste the full blown hero mode and just how powerful he is. It also returns full circle to give us a full dose of origin story to eventually culminate in a full blown super hero in the final five minutes of film. What excites me over this formula is simple; we’re given a brand new super hero that we know nothing about. Over the course of the movie we watch this hero evolve into a full blown hero. The movie is of course left wide open for sequels and the chance of a franchise super stardom. The beauty is, we’ve gotten the character development done in this first movie; number 2 is going to be some pretty solid ass kicking action.

“Hancock” has it’s faults. Many are going to have a hard time getting over Smith’s schtick in the first act of the movie. Honestly though, it’s not as over the top as “ID4? and the like. There are also some scenes in the second act that could use some serious editing. There are lulls in the flow here that may cause you to glance at your watch a time or two, but the third act will more than make up for it. There is a Shyamalan-esque twist closing out the second act that completely caught me off guard. This twist is what makes the movie turn the corner from mediocre to really good for a super hero origin story. Ultimately, “Hancock” is going to shed some new light on ’super heroes’ in general, and that’s not a bad thing. Comic Book purists may disagree but for me, it worked well.


“Hancock” arrives on DVD with top notch picture and full Dolby 5.1 surround, which should be par for the course in today’s age of high dollar block busters. Where they try and give you the added value is in in the extra features. “Hancock” delivers here as well.

In “Superhumans: The Making of Hancock” we’re given a full thirteen minute behind the scenes look, the studio gives us a nice little documentary that details the thought process and technology that goes into “Hancock”, as well as the people that helped bring it to the screen as well. Standard fare as far as features go, but it’s nice to see Producer Michael Mann talk about why he passed on the directors chair this time around, and we see a highlight reel of what it’s like to work with Peter Berg, Charlize Theron and Will Smith. The other features do a fine job of detailing the different facets of movie making with an in depth look at the special effects, as well as the the stunt work that goes on behind the movie. However, these features begin to step into the yawn territory with their detail on the movie making process; unless this is a process you’re interested in, you’re going to grow a bit tired of it, very fast.

The features list of the 1-Disc Unrated Edition are as follows:

· Featurette: Superhumans: The Making of Hancock
· Featurette: Seeing the Future
· Featurette: Building a Better Hero
· Featurette: Bumps and Bruises
· Featurette: Mere Mortals: Behind the Scenes with ‘Dirty Pete’

The Rating

My second viewing of “Hancock” was just as enjoyable as the first, The extra scenes were slight, but the movie still held up well. 7 out of 10.

For the DVD, it is packaged well and the quality is nice, but I fail to see the reason for two separate unrated releases. For that, I give the DVD package a 6 out of 10.