Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fear Every Drop: Part 1

For some odd reason, lately I have been wanting to go to Disney World. Now, those of you who have gone probably don't consider that odd. After all, it's a wonderful amusement park with great rides. What I find odd is that I wanna go so badly that it's invaded my dreams. And one ride in particular invaded my dreams fully last night. A spooky attraction that is now considered a classic. It's an adventure with ghosts, scares, and an ultra cool narrator. Nope, not the Haunted Mansion. It's The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Horror Stories: Not Suitable for School

(Author's Note: The content of this article is completely suitable for schools, workplaces, libraries, Starbucks, and home. The title is just representative and ironic.)

So, thus far in my career at the Haunted Drive-In, I've talked a lot about entertaining things. Mostly, my posts have been about stuff I've observed in the entertainment world. That's all well and good, but what does that tell you about me? You know I like horror-comedies, I grew up with Meanies, I've played Portal 2... That's about it. Whereas with Rabbi, he's talked more about his experiences with things related to horror, horror-comedy, or just movie-going in general. That's why today, I've decided to relay a little tale about an experience I once had. What ties it to the Drive-In exactly? Well, it involves a story I once wrote... A horror story.

"I'll Be Back... Maybe"

Now that he's no longer the governor of California, rumors are running rampant (as all good rumors do) that old pro Arnold Shwarzenegger could be returning to the role that made him famous: the unstoppable T-800 assassin in the storied Terminator franchise. And I do mean old. The former action star is pushing 65. Still, Hollywood seems hellbent on the idea of turning him into a killing machine one more time. So, the ancient question arises - good idea or bad idea?

This is a good idea in theory. If I had any hope that the studio behind the 5th Terminator film could give us a decent story with a reasonable explanation for why an android who shouldn't age looks decades older, then I'd be cautiously optimistic. But there's a problem. We have yet to see a reboot of a grand old sci-fi property from the 70s or 80s that didn't get screwed up royally by screenwriters and directors just looking for a quick buck. In the last 15 years, we've had to endure the Alien vs. Predator flicks, the Transformers franchise, the Star Wars prequels, and of course Terminator: Salvation. 

With the right director and the right script, this could work. I repeat, could. I'd love to see what J.J. Abrams would do with the franchise, or Joss Whedon perhaps. The only name they're throwing around right now is Justin Lin, who most recently directed Fast Five. Yes, the future of SkyNet could be determined by the man who directed the fourth sequel in the Fast and Furious line of movies. Oi. (Although to be fair, Fast Five has far better reviews than anyone predicted. Still...)

I believe that if handled well, Ahh-nold would deliver. I've always liked the man's performances, even when they're not very good. He was perfect for the stern, deadly serious T-800, and if they thought of a good explanation for why the robot is now a senior citizen, he'd do the script justice. But they won't, and he shouldn't. This is a bad idea, simply because when it comes to successful reboots of beloved sci-fi franchises, Hollywood misses the mark 99% of the time. Don't do it Arnold, don't do it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shaun Of the Dead: The Gateway Drug Of Horror Movies?

It can be really difficult for those of us who dig monsters and freaks to get other people to see a movie with us. In my experience, most of my friends either think that horror movies are garbage for cinematic or psychological reasons, or they scare easily and don't want to watch anything that might give them nightmares. And I get that. Still, I get tired of doing everything by myself. What flick hooks in people who aren't gorehounds? What one movie could be considered the gateway drug of horror? In my opinion, the answer is clear...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Return to the House Of Horror

Last year, Rue Morgue Magazine showed some creepy love to the fans by releasing Hymns From the House Of Horror, a 17-song compilation of b-sides and unreleased tracks from the top names in musical ghoulery -for free. The collection was such a hit, they've decided to do it again. Prepare yourselves for another heaping helping of audio abnormalities.

The original Hymns was part of a celebration for Rue Morgue's 100th issue, with contributions from the likes of Midnight Syndicate, Creature Feature, Harley Poe, and more. This year's release will feature a similar vibe, but rather more eclectic artists. Among the 20(!) bands promised are Calabrese, Gwar, The Young Werewolves, and Blood Ceremony. As a bonus, the songs will be spliced with audio trailers for grindhouse flicks that don't exist, and the album's artwork will be made available for digital download like last year's.

Hosted by Rue Morgue Radio's monster of ceremonies Tomb Dragomir, the first Hymns was a freaky-awesome mixtape of somber and silly, dark and delightful, words and other adjectives. If you want a great horror soundtrack for the low low price of free, then don't pass this up. Volume II drops at the stroke of midnight May 1st. You have until the end of July to make it yours, fellow ghoulies. Visit the Rue Morgue website for all the details.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Halfway to Halloween

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. For many, it marks the resurrection of their Savior Jesus from the dead (and no, He was not a zombie). For others, it's simply a good excuse to gorge on marshmallow Peeps and Cadbury's Creme eggs. For a select few, Easter means just one thing: we're halfway to Halloween! And thanks to director Michael Dougherty, we've got a real treat to celebrate the occasion. Watch and groan:

Isn't Sam just adorable with his bunny ears?

Despite the studio's wretched treatment of the film, Trick 'r Treat has managed to become one of the most beloved horror anthologies of all time. Its wicked humor, strong cast, and intersecting stories make for one frightfully funny flick, not to mention that the movie is actually about Halloween, instead of just being set on Halloween night. As if all that weren't enough, Dougherty has given us one of the most unique supernatural observers in cinema, making Sam (the spirit of Halloween, or Samhain) a mysterious and deadly creature in the form of a little tyke. If you don't follow the rules of the holiday, you can rest assured that Sam will stick you with more than coal in your stocking like some other festive icons. More likely, he'll stick you with a knife.

The film's official Twitter recently announced that Sam would return eventually. Fans are hopeful for an official sequel, but for now, this pastel-and-blood-colored short will have to suffice. FEARnet, the site that hosts this clip, says that they will be showing Trick 'r Treat for 24 hours this Halloween. Most gorehounds already own it on DVD or blu-ray (and if you don't, what's wrong with you?), but speculate that the marathon will feature new vignettes with Sam and his victims. We'll have to wait and see, I suppose.

On a semi-related topic, this short brings up an old argument: is there really a horror film for every major holiday? Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and others are covered, but I can't remember any flicks that make mincemeat of Easter. Anyone?

Review: Mr. Boogedy (25th Anniversary!)

No one will believe this, but it wasn't that long ago that the Disney Channel showed classic animated films and quality original content. Anyone younger than 20 will not be able to remember, and those of us who are old enough are unfortunately losing grasp of our memories. But it's true! The Disney Channel survived for years on movies and shows for the whole family, not just sitcom dreck that appeals to preteen girls. And like the best Disney animated classics, their made-for-television stories were occasionally intense, arguably too intense for the core audience. That's what made them so much fun. I doubt any of you have seen the movie I'm discussing tonight, and if you have, then you can count yourself very lucky indeed. Let's talk about Mr. Boogedy.

"He had a grilled-cheese sandwich kinda face."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blades Don't Need Reloading

Guns aren't scary.

Are they dangerous? Well, duh. Are they responsible for gruesome ends? All the time. Would I be fearing for my life if one happened to be pointed in my direction with malicious intent? You bet your pet corpse. That doesn't make them scary though.

Not scary, unless we're talking about the haircut.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Except the Ones Who are Dead

As many of you may know, Portal 2 came out a short time ago. Being a gamer who loves puzzle games (especially the humorous ones), I ran to the store to buy it the first day. I have been playing it ever since. As such, I have had one thing on my mind: Portal 2. Still, the Drive-In needs a show every night. And I need to keep up my end of this partnership with Rabbi. So, I've been thinking. And while I would do a Moonlight Spotlight on GLaDOS (and there's little doubt I will in the future), I think I've had enough of looking at why certain characters are scary for a while. Instead, let's look at something that, to my knowledge, hasn't been talked about on the Drive-In before. Let's look at a song. A perfectly harmless and catchy song to anyone else, but for me, this song is terrifying: Still Alive.

Interview: Joshua Hoffine, Horror Photographer

A couple weeks ago, I posted a feature on the work of Joshua Hoffine, a husband and father who's turning murder into an art. I don't mean literally of course. Mr. Hoffine has been making headlines with his surreal photography that gives rise to humanity's shared anxieties and phobias, with gruesome detail and admirable technique. Joshua graciously granted our request for an interview, and we can say straight off that his cookie trick really works.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

They'll Fix You. They Fix Everything

It's no secret that I'm more of a horror guy than a sci-fi fan, but that doesn't mean I never get my future kicks. There's dozens of great movies in my collection that fit the bill, from Alien to Back To the Future and everything in between. And one of the greatest sci-fi franchises the 1980s ever gave us has to be RoboCop.

"This is my BOOMSTI- whoa, sorry there, wrong franchise."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Horror, The Oscars, And Me

Horror and sci-fi are rarely big winners at the Academy Awards. Oh sure, Black Swan had an impressive haul, and everyone remembers how Silence of the Lambs managed to sweep all the major prizes. Still, unless you broaden your definition of horror to include family-friendly cartoons and "psychological thrillers" (Which is what Black Swan is, let's be fair here), the spooky stuff is usually like Rodney Dangerfield in the eyes of Oscar: no respect.

I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but be patient. Horror films are as a valid a work of art as any other movie, aren't they? Why should they be constantly passed over for the most prestigious trophies, shuffled off to one side for the statues no one cares about, like sound design or make-up? Well, if we're going to be honest, it's because most horror movies just aren't very good. That's not a problem for a true fan; as I've said before, we can have a great time with a good movie or a wretched one. But the critics and Academy voters tend to see the bad horror films and forget the ones that were crafted with skill and effort. You know what they say about one bad apple spoiling the bunch? Well, it's the Saws and Twilights of the world that complicate the chances of far more deserving scary movies getting a nod. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Moonlight Spotlight: Gossamer the Monster

Before we begin, let me apologize for... Uhm... Whatever happened to me last time. I don't know what came over me. One moment, I'm writing a ghost story, the next my keyboard somehow shocks me and I go unconscious. I must have finished the article, though, because I saw it got posted.

Anyway, enough about that. Welcome to a new segment I'm introducing called the Moonlight Spotlight! This is where I discuss little known icons of horror. Let's be honest, Freddy, Jason, Mike and those lot have been talked about to death (pun totally intended). It's time the under-zombie got his share of attention. Now, this is our first foray into little known fear mongers. Our fangs are barely coming in yet. So, let's start off with a small appetizer before we get into anything with bite. He's the first laboratory experiment I remember seeing as a kid. It's Gossamer the Monster.

I bet you didn't even know he had a name, did you?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preview: The Perfect Host

Dark comedy is a difficult thing to pull off, especially for American filmmakers. Our collective desire for a happy ending (not to mention our sensitivity towards jokes about serious subject matter) make black humor a big risk at the box office. The only directors who try on a regular basis are the Coen brothers, and to be fair, they hit the mark only about half the time. Seeing a trailer for a movie that looks like it's literally swimming in such evil lunacy? It makes a horror fan hopeful.

The trailer starts with a crook named John on the run from police, having successfully swiped over $300,000. He worms his way into the house of a man named Warwick, who seems like just another frightened home invasion victim. After John samples some wine though, things get weird. The tables turn violently, putting Warwick in control. After all, he's not about to let some punk bank robber spoil his dinner party.

It's difficult to tell exactly what kind of movie The Perfect Host wants to be. There's allusions to The Strangers, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, even the sitcom Frasier, which seems only appropriate with David Hyde Pierce in the lead. This is definitely a new role for the television veteran. In the two minutes of trailer I've seen, his performance already looks like an Oscar contender: funny, disturbing, and full of quirks. It's impossible to say how much of the film will feature the rest of the cast and how much will be the Warwick Show, but either way, it looks incredibly entertaining. I'm curious to see how the film handles the dueling thematic tones, as the trailer manages to shift from Wes Craven-style disturbing to Edgar Wright-style slapstick fairly easily.

Although premiering at the Sundance Film Festival over a year ago, The Perfect Host has yet to receive a mainstream or even limited release. Thankfully, it opens in theaters stateside July 1st, with the Video-On-Demand option available May 27th. So we won't have to wait much longer.

Whether it's a horror flick, a psychological thriller, or a black comedy worthy of Kurt Vonnegut, The Perfect Host is shaping up to be a can't-miss experience all the same. After watching the trailer, be sure to share your theories in the comments. My opinion? John's dead from the start.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Just A Guy In A Rubber Suit

Before we get too deep into tonight's discussion, a big thank you to Daffy for filling in last night when my laptop turned evil. Or maybe it was always evil, waiting for the moment to strike. Regardless, the man is a good friend and a great writer, and deserves kudos.

Giant monster movies are often considered the ugly stepchild in the horror community. They're not scary, the effects are laughable by today's standards, and there's a lot of sloppy editing, not to mention the ridiculously bad dubbing that's become a joke in itself. So why have they endured? What makes these characters so iconic, the thrills so durable, the imagery so revealing? And above all, what makes them so much damn fun?

Terrifying Tech

Technology is a marvel, isn't it? In the blink of an eye, a college kid from Miami and a working man in Virginia can be having a conversation through an instant messaging program. In the very next blink, however, technology may come crashing down from its high horse. Unfortunately, my fellow fright fans, both myself and Rabbi have had horrible luck with computers recently. Earlier this week, I had to take my computer in to... let's say a big corporation, in order to get it completely rebooted. Everything in it was replaced, including the hard drive. Rabbi is also currently experiencing some form of computer crisis as well. And from the sounds of it, it's the same thing that plagued my computer: a deadly virus. Well, okay, a Trojan. Which is even scarier than the flesh eating virus from Cabin Fever. So, as I haven't had much time to write an article, I'm basically winging it right now. You'll forgive me if my thoughts sound a bit muddled, I'm sure.

This photo isn't entirely accurate. My computer vomited less blood.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ghost with the Most

Everyone praises Ghostbusters as THE paranormal comedy of the last thirty years. It's the best of the best and nobody can top it. It's got the best jokes, the spookiest looking monsters, the most likeable characters. Everyone talks about it all the time. And I agree, it's a perfect example of a paranormal comedy. But, I will also admit, it's not my absolute favorite freaky funny movie. There was one movie that I watched practically daily as a kid. A movie that my grandmother thought would shatter my poor young mind because I watched it so much. A movie about ghosts, exorcisms, a giant mutant snake monster, and Harry Belafonte. I'm sure you all remember Beetlejuice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Defense Of Ed Wood

Bloodrayne. In the Name of the King. Postal. Alone In the Dark. Seed. House of the Dead. Such titles instill fear in even the hardiest cinephile. Call director Uwe Boll a talentless hack, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees. However, many people are calling him something that I do disagree with. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he doesn't deserve it. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Joel vs. Mike: The Hosts of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is perhaps the most iconic horrorhost television show ever made. Joel, Mike, and those zany bots Tom Servo and Crow spent 11 years making fun of gloriously bad movies, and with the inception and growth of the internet in the show's heyday, fansites sprang up by the hundreds. Of course, chatboards also sprang up, and with any good online discussion, a furious argument was soon born: "who's the better host?"

Gypsy was the most believable one.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: The Short Films of Jeremiah Kipp

It's always encouraging when someone with clout takes note of your work. The Haunted Drive-in is still a very young site, the current incarnation less than a month old. So when a director of two critically acclaimed short films and an upcoming feature emails me asking if I'd like to review his work, I pay attention. The pioneer in question is one Jeremiah Kipp, who graciously provided me links to his short films Crestfallen and Contact.

Review: The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy

Tim Burton has long been my favorite director. I've seen all of his films, I've attended his exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and I've read all his books. Yes, he's an author too. Most of us know about the poem that gave birth to the animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, but Tim's got several more morbid rhymes up his sleeve. With a title like The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy And Other Stories, it's a fair bet that this poetry collection shares the vibe of his cinematic work: a little scary, very funny, and just plain weird.

The book contains a couple dozen poems with oddball protagonists. Almost all of them are children with supernatural handicaps or deformities who fall victim to cruelty and/or accidental death, a common theme with Burton. Some poems, such as the titular tale, go on for a few pages, while others may be a single sentence long. Burton favors simple rhyme schemes and basic structure; the comparisons to Dr. Seuss are justifiable. Of course, this is Dr. Seuss writing as Edgar Allan Poe. Most of the characters end up dead by the end of the poem through happenstance or violence, and those that make it out alive are either injured or afflicted with a curious condition. Each one is accompanied by illustrations that spell out the story, and Burton works in a scratchy, almost child-like style that is very appropriate for the book. True to form, he also manages to work in his two favorite holidays (Halloween and Christmas) in a few places.

Even though Oyster Boy's name is on the cover, the real draw here is Stainboy. He is one of a few characters to have two poems dedicated to him, and the author clearly has a soft spot for the sad superhero. Fans of Stainboy's flash-animated web series will notice other familiar faces throughout the book who appeared alongside (or against) him, such as Staring Girl and Roy, the Toxic Boy. 

The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy is short enough to be read in one sitting, and even though it's not great literature, it'll amuse any fan of dark humor and Tim Burton films. Hopefully, Burton will do another collection soon. It might be good for him to take a break from directing anyway. I mean, Alice In Wonderland? Sheesh.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

It's no secret that horror remakes (or any remakes at all) rarely deliver the goods. Fan outrage, CGI weariness, and confusing retconning have ruined more than one classic slasher flick, to say nothing of all the lovably cheesy haunted house films of the 50s and 60s. We could blame the studio system for this, but in reality, the reason these remakes get made lies with us. Maybe not the core horror community, but certainly the movie-going public at large.

There are three solid reasons why horror remakes don't live up to the original. The first is that it's near-impossible to make the hardcore fans happy. Even if the new film was good, it would get torn apart because the director who created the story wasn't involved. We all know that the Star Wars prequels were gigantic wastes of celluloid, but prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, anticipation was huge. Do you think the fanboys would have been anywhere close to that excited if Lucas wasn't at the helm? A good remake is a rare and wonderful thing, but there will always be enough nerds around to convince us that it's not as good as the first one. And they're almost always right.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Everybody Say "Die"

There are plenty of different sites and publications devoted to horror, but few of them are given over to a specific artistic path. Other than in the literary or cinematic world, there's not a lot of folks who would put the word "horror" in front of their occupation. You rarely see terms like "horror sculptor" or "horror chef" floating around. Well, meet Joshua Hoffine, horror photographer.

"This breastfeeding is KILLING me."

Spooky, yes? Since early 2008, Mr. Hoffine has been making headlines with his provocative, occasionally controversial work. Fascinated by the psychology of fear, he gives all of his photos the film set treatment, with specialty construction, elaborate make-up, costumes, props, and actors. Hoffine doesn't skimp on the gore, throwing stage blood and fake insides everywhere. There's elements of fairy tales, slasher films, torture porn (thankfully, not too much), and universal fears, such as the fear of monsters under the bed. His daughters often act as the soon-to-be victims, with close friends and family (even grandma!) filling in for the hideous freaks lurking around the corner.

What makes these creepy scenes work is the primal, almost primitive nature of the terrors laid out in front of us. Who hasn't carefully checked a noise coming from the basement, or worried that some cannibalistic beast was living in the bedroom closet, or thought that the clown at our friend's birthday party was just... wrong? According to the photographer, these fears lose intensity as we grow older, most of us dismissing them as immature and irrational. But all it takes is one night alone in the house during a thunderstorm, and these worries come rushing back to us, courtesy of our damned subconscious. These pictures capture that fear perfectly, making us sympathize with the innocents who are going to suffer so, or worse, giving us a vantage point that makes the viewer guaranteed to be next on the chopping block. Brrr.

Hoffine's portfolio certainly has its detractors, but make no mistake, this is art. Disgusting, disturbing, destructive art. In motion, many of these vignettes would seem overdone, perhaps downright hokey. Frozen in place however, they linger behind the eyes like so many nightmares. It doesn't matter what you're afraid of, Joshua Hoffine has it covered. Be sure to check out his website, which includes a link to his behind-the-scenes blog where he breaks down the shooting of select photographs. And good luck sleeping tonight. 

Oh all right, here's one to lighten the mood:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: John Dies at the End

There is something to be said about the power of a good book. Books can take you on incredible journeys beyond your wildest imagination. Books can make you care about characters that don't even exist. Books can make you laugh out loud, weep uncontrollably, or send shivers down your spine. Then there are the books that make you glimpse into the dark abyss at the edge of insanity, making you question whether you believe what your eyes tell you. Books that can rip your mind to shreds and leave you shuddering at the very thought of your own shadow. I can tell you this much, boys and ghouls: the author of John Dies at the End is at least half way insane.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Not You Linda Blair, It's Me

No matter how fanatical someone is about a particular interest, there's usually one dark alley they refuse to walk. When you're a horror fan, that means ignoring either certain films or certain kinds of films. Maybe you just aren't entertained by them, or maybe you find them so disturbing that it's not any fun to watch. In my case, there are two sub-genres that I won't touch with a bloody ten-foot pole. If you like them, great, more power to you. As far as I'm concerned, you can keep them. The first of these is the fad popularly known as torture porn, or gore-nography.

Now Showing

I have two things to share with all of you. One isn't important, and the other has the potential to be very important. These bits of information flow into each other, so I'll share the not-so-important one first. I don't have anything of substance for you this evening. I know that even the best bloggers don't post everyday; after all, it's not like this is a job or anything (although I'm still hopeful.) It's just that things were on a roll between myself and Daffy's writing, so not giving you the same excellence you've received over the past two weeks feels like a bit of a cheat.

The potentially life-changing news is this: I didn't write an article tonight because I've been working on something very special for The Haunted Drive-in: its very own Youtube Channel! Before you all break out in a chorus of "So what?" let me say that I know it's not hard to create one. But, what is hard is finding the right content to fit this blog and entertain our readers. I've been searching the net for hours, trying to bring you videos that best encompass the feel of what we're trying to do here, which is celebrating the scary, the silly, and the sublimely cheesy. This Youtube Channel is an exciting new way to do that.

We don't have any original content just yet, although I've got some ideas brewing in the cobwebbed cauldron that is my mind, and I'm sure Daffy does too. However, what you will find are several different playlists devoted to things that have received due mention on this website, including vintage commercials for nostalgic horror-related toys, trailers for classic horror and grindhouse films (as well as the amusing fake trailers from the motion picture event Grindhouse), and loads of intermission countdown clocks, PSAs, snack bar ads, interstitial cartoons, and title card stipes.

In the near future, we plan to add some of our favorite theatrical cartoons from the Warner Bros. and Disney studios, trailers for horror and science fiction films grouped by category (slasher, ghost story, etc.), and creative videos from other YouTubers that show us the best and worst horror has to offer, as well as our own original content. It's going to be a big undertaking finding all the random clips we're currently searching for, but we're extremely excited about the end result. If you know of some great vids on YouTube or elsewhere online that we don't already have in our playlists, let us know! Intermission reels, cartoons, movie trailers, segments from TV horror host shows, anything! Whatever would fit the spirit of The Haunted Drive-in is welcome. Just remember: the scary, the silly, and the sublimely cheesy. Enjoy, and prepare to lose a few hours watching all this stuff.

Here's a taste of what you'll find at our channel:

(Please note: some of the content is meant for mature viewers, and caution should be used when deciding to view some of the grindhouse trailers. We present them as they are in the spirit of "the preservation of exploitation.")

Monday, April 4, 2011

Knife To The Eye, I Love That Bit

It's a great time to be a fan of horror comics. While things are still hit-or-miss at the movie theater, those of us who read the funnies are being treated to some of the most entertaining, disgusting, and inventive creepfests since before the Code cracked down on the genre back in the 1950s. Mike Mignola has been expanding his Hellboy universe, Batman is getting back to his Gothic roots, and all kinds of new characters and stories are invading the comic shops. When Marvel makes Spider-Man a flesh-hungry monster who's eaten his Aunt May, it's difficult to wonder how things can get much better. Of course, those mentioned above are well-established heroes with respectable fanbases either receiving a fresh bloody twist or just getting deeper into their weird world. Where's the truly original stuff?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Not Your Little Sister's Beanies!"

(Editor's Note: I'd like to introduce you all to the newest Team Member of The Haunted Drive-in. Alright, the only Team Member. Richard Rodriguez, also known as Daffy, is my first writing partner in this project and will be contributing to the site regularly. This is his first post. Enjoy, and comment! -Rabbi)

Do you remember the 90s? Remember a certain fad that was sweeping the nation involving small plushy teddy bears that were basically the same bear painted different colors over and over and sold by the hundreds? What you're remembering, along with the soul crushing realization that none of those hundreds that you bought will be worth any money in your lifetime, are the Beanie Babies. They were little, soft toys that came as many different animals, but mostly bears, and they were based entirely around the marketing idea that little girls will buy anything cute. Well, I'm not talking about those today. The toys I'm talking about are based on the marketing idea "What if Beanie Babies were butch, gross, juvenile, and hilarious?" Meet the Meanies:

Science Fiction Double Feature (Sort Of)

Sometimes, we forget what a great experience going to the movies can be. Even with stadium seating and state-of-the-art sound systems, most every movie theater equates to sitting in a big black box. There's nothing wrong with the latest and greatest, but sometimes, even when everyone there is enjoying what's on the screen, they seem to be enjoying it alone.

Tonight, I organized a get-together for my circle of friends. With popcorn and soda on hand, we rented out the private movie theater for our own double feature event. I'd been planning this for weeks. The movies weren't exactly horror or sci-fi. Alright, we went with Harrison Ford: first was Raiders of the Lost Ark and then The Fugitive because, well, why not?

Not everything worked the way I wanted it to (I hoped to have a 10-minute intermission reel with old drive-in stipes between the films; the DVD wouldn't play), but I still had the most excellent cinematic experience I'd had in a long time. We laughed at the jokes, we gasped at the cliff-hangers, we mocked the villains. It was like the old days, when going to see the newest Disney cartoon practically guaranteed a shared happy memory.

Ever since early man first told stories around a campfire, people have gathered together to see and hear tales unfold before them. The movies are the perfect way to bond with friends and family, in the right setting and with the right attitude. There were two dozen people at my apartment tonight, and all of them had ideas about what the next double feature should be.

I honestly don't think I stand a chance of slipping in any flicks that would fit my blog (half my friends are girls who startle easy, and the guys, while being steadfast bros, find my more morbid tastes "weird"), but you can bet the Bates Motel that we'll be doing this again, and often. Maybe an all-day marathon of the Harry Potter series in order to gear up for the final film's release this summer. I'm down.

I wasn't yet born when the original Star Wars film first opened in theaters, but my mother tells me that she went to see it back in the day. When Han Solo reappeared at the climax to aid Luke in destroying the Death Star, the entire crowd apparently applauded, cheered, and half of them stood up like they were at a sporting event. Movies shouldn't be a private thing. Movies are meant to be shared, and enjoyed, and experienced. Not just watched. Hmm, Star Wars counts as classic sci-fi. Looks like this post is relevant after all.

And hey, Han Solo was played by Harrison Ford! Can that man bring people together or what?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Spooky Old House On the Hill

Many simple pleasures have been destroyed due to the arrival of better technologies: letter-writing, playing outside, all-day cooking. It was less than 20 years ago that the only way to find answers to questions both crucial and trivial was to read a book. Now, it takes approximately 3 seconds to pull things up on Google. Thanks to iPhones, people are connected 24/7. Nothing takes effort anymore. Video and computer games keep children inside with a mountain of junk food. At least when we burned our brains on cartoons Saturday morning, they were usually done by noon, at which point my mother would shoo me into the Great Outdoors to play, discover, and yes, learn. The pre-internet and cell phone years had their problems, sure, but things definitely seemed more idyllic.

Now, one could blame all of this on nostalgia, the fact that being children made us less aware of society's issues, and any other number of things. And to a point that's true. I certainly didn't know what a recession meant when I was 10, nor did I care. I just knew that the weekend was mine, and my buddies and I were going to discover hidden treasure like in The Goonies.