Sean T. Collins has written about comics and popular culture professionally since 2001 and on this very blog since 2003. He has written for Maxim, The Comics Journal, Stuff, Wizard, A&F Quarterly, Comic Book Resources, Giant, ToyFare, The Onion, The Comics Reporter and more. His comics have been published by Top Shelf, Partyka, and Family Style. He blogs here and at Robot 6.
If they somehow dug up Orwell's corpse and added him to the bill, I'd actually fly across country for this
Courtesy of Fantagraphics' house blog Flog! comes word that Charles Burns, author of the horror graphic novel Black Hole, and Chuck Palahniuk, author of the horror prose novels Lullaby, Diary, and Haunted (as well as Fight Club, duh) will be holding a joint appearance at Seattle's Bumbershoot arts festival. Holy smokes.
My contribution to the Horror Blog's Horror Roundtable this week: the story of how The Missus and I lucked into seeing the premiere of one of the best shows on television.
Speaking of both the Horror Blog and television, courtesy of the HB's quote of the day I've learned that the new video for avant-rock combo TV on the Radio will involve a pair of awesome things: werewolves and America's Next Top Model. (This is still pretty cool even if they're using ANTM winner Naima, who always looks like she just smelled a fart.)
Finally, the remake of the The Wicker Man came out this week, for better or for worse, and my Wizard co-worker Jeremy James interviewed director Neil LaBute about it. Me? I saw The Illusionist last night--now that's a good time at the movies! Recommended.
Over at the day job, I had a hand in editing our big pre-Season Three Lost feature, sort of one-stop shopping for catch-up info, speculation, and established facts about this October's big comeback (for which there's already a promo or two buzzing around). Not a bad read for a lazy Labor Day afternoon.
Some know-it-alls will indulge in Darwin Awards-style idiocy. They fail to undestand that Steve Irwin was a man who lived and died in an effort to impress upon people that all animals--even the scary, ugly, deadly ones--deserve our compassion, respect, and protection. Good on ya, Steve. I'll miss you.
Courtesy of Antipax's Hellraiser Gallery comes this super-informative interview with producer John Harrison at iF Magazine. A collaborator of both Clive Barker's and George Romero's, Harrison reveals among many other juicy tidbits that the forthcoming Diary of the Dead is most definitely a return to the initial zombie outbreak portrayed in Night of the Living Dead rather than a sequel moving us further forward into the post-apocalyptic world of the subsequent Dead films; that Barker's multimillion dollar Abarat project at Disney might well have seen its film incarnation die with Disney's feature animation department upon the absorption of Pixar; and that the framingstories from Barker's Books of Blood series are being combined into a film entitled, appropriately enough, Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Jeez, go and read it already!
Finally, Steven at The Horror Blog brings word via Fangoria that the production company behind 300, Slither, and the Dawn of the Dead remake are planning a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing. If it weren't for the curve-breaking excellence of Dawn, I'd probably be a lot more nervous about this than I am.
During this week's Thursday Morning Quarterback at Wizard, I take a stab at American Splendor #1, Jack Staff #11, The Exterminators #9, Detective Comics #823, The Atom #3 and more. Plus, some of my coworkers work blue.
Finally, thank you David Taylor for letting me know that Dark Horse has been releasing new English translations of Junji Ito's horror manga Tomie. How did I miss that before?
The Lost Experience ARG has been solved, and this is the result: a "training video" explaining the origin and purpose of the Dharma Initiative, straight from the mouth of Alvar Hanso himself. Needless to say, SPOILERS abound.
I'm still not 100% sold on the way the ARG treated some aspects of Lost the television show as fiction and others as reality, thereby making it pretty unclear how this little video fits into the canon of the TV Lost world. And there are some cringeworthy acting moments there toward the end. But still, pretty bitchin'. Anything that exploits what Infocult might call the Gothic potential of old media as astutely as this does is worth putting up with some problems for.
As he followed her inside Mother Abagail's house he thought it would be better, much better, if they did break down and spread. Postpone organization as long as possible. It was organization that always seemed to cause the problems. When the cells began to clump together and grow dark. You didn't have to give the cops guns until the cops couldn't remember the names...the faces...
Fran lit a kerosene lamp and it made a soft yellow glow. Peter looked up at them quietly, already sleepy. He had played hard. Fran slipped him into a nightshirt.
All any of us can buy is time, Stu thought. Peter's lifetime, his children's lifetimes, maybe the lifetimes of my great-grandchildren. Until the year 2100, maybe, surely no longer than that. Maybe not that long. Time enough for poor old Mother Earth to recycle herself a little. A season of rest.
"What?" she asked, and he realized he had murmured it aloud.
"A season of rest," he repeated.
"What does that mean?"
"Everything," he said, and took her hand.
Looking down at Peter he thought: Maybe if we tell him what happened, he'll tell his own children. Warn them. Dear children, the toys are death--they're flashburns and radiation sickness, and black, choking plague. These toys are dangerous; the devil in men's brains guided the hands of God when they were made. Don't play with these toys, dear children, please, not ever. Not ever again. Please...please learn the lesson. Let this empty world be your copybook.
"Frannie," he said, and turned her around so he could look into her eyes.
"Do you think...do you think people ever learn anything?"
She opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, fell silent. The kerosene lamp flickered. Her eyes seemed very blue.
"I don't know," she said at last. She seemed unpleased with her answer; she struggled to say something more; to illuminate her first response; and could only say it again:
After finally catching The Descent over the weekend (in the tiniest gigantic-cineplex theatre I've ever seen, Theatre 2 at the AMC 25 on 42nd Street--great place to see a movie, f'real), I finally feel equipped to take part in the meme that was all the rage in the horror blogosphere a few weeks ago: The 7 Best Horror Movies of the Past 7 Years.
Ever the maverick, though, I've opted to go with 8 selections. I tried narrowing it down, but I realized that no matter which one I eliminated I'd be cutting something I truly believed belonged on the list. So never let it be said that ADDTF doesn't deliver something extra for its readers.
The 8 Best Horror Movies of the Past 7 Years (give or take a couple of movies)
2. Dawn of the Dead: Entire film courses could and probably should be taught about the opening sequence. Flawless. The rest of the film is very, very good as well, and as I’m fond of saying it’s a real curve-breaker when it comes to the otherwise rational belief that the current crop of ’70s-horror-classic remakes totally sucks.
3. The Ring: Admirable both for the scares, which are relentless and unshakeable to the point of irrationality, and for its overall tone, which is beyond fatalistic.
4. 28 Days Later: Thank you, 28 Days Later, for giving us fast-moving zombies. (I know they’re not technically zombies, and who cares.) This is also the best combination of zombie horror with larger post-apocalyptic themes we’ve yet seen.
5. Jeepers Creepers/The Descent (tie): Two sleeper creature-features that are, as Clive Barker said to me regarding the former film, “genuinely scary and weird.” They both stand on the shoulders of giants, certainly (as does The Ring, by the way—you could play “count the references” in each of them and be quite entertained for the duration of all three films), but like Paul’s Boutique did within its own idiom, these films reassemble parts of other excellent films in such a way as to become unique, original, uncompromising, excellent films themselves.
6. Eyes Wide Shut: The best horror film about sex ever made, because it substitutes violence with sex itself. On a list of my favorite films of any genre, of all time, this would rank even higher.
7. Dahmer: I can’t think of another film that better captures the sadness of serial killing, for both victim and perpetrator, than this one.
8. The films of M. Night Shyamalan (haven’t seen Lady in the Water yet, so not that one, but the other ones): Those luscious long takes, sumptuous cinematography, outrageously rich sound design—no one’s used the stuff as film as a source of tension this astutely since Hitchcock. I was hard pressed to come up with one film that’s my favorite, so I’m going with the Shyamalan gestalt. (Fine, hold a gun to my head: The Village. Yeah, I said it.)
Honorable mentions: War of the Worlds: I think the overtly Spielbergian flaws have kept me from returning to this movie the way I otherwise might, but hoo boy, the strong stuff is awfully, awfully strong.
Summer of Sam: Its Boogie Nights/GoodFellas period-tapestry elements prevent it from reading as straight horror, but it's impossible to talk about this excellent, kinetic, sexy film without talking about the dark stuff.
Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo reminds us that the late, great Steve Irwin once took a turn for the cryptozoological when he devoted part of an episode of The Crocodile Hunter to the elusive, presumed extinct Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger.
Kinda-sorta big news for horror fans: Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics is hinting that Al Columbia, the reclusive, anti-prolific writer-artist responsible for some of the most acclaimed horror comics of the altcomix era (not to mention the album art for The Postal Service's record), may have a book-length collection on the way.
Let the midnight special shine a ever-lovin' light on me
My contribution at Steven's Horror Roundtable this week details my all-time greatest late-night horror TV experience. Now that I think about it, between the viewing I talk about at the Roundtable and that wee-hours airing of Velvet Goldmine I caught about six years later, my life has been totally and irrevocably changed at least twice because I was staying up past my bedtime and flipping through the channels.
Apologies for the lack of update yesterday. As you might have noticed over the past few weeks, I've kinda quietly adopted a daily-posting schedule that I've had no problem maintaining, and my only reason for not posting yesterday is, well, I forgot. But in general you can expect an update a day, until I get tired of it, at which point they'll cease without notice because I hate these meta-blogging posts as much as you probably do!
But anyways, Matt at Black Lagoon reviews Scream, the film that, whether we like it or not, revived horror as a viable genre. (Of course, things stalled out at a certain point until The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project opened up some other avenues of exploration in '99, but yeah, Scream started it.) It's not necessarily a film I'm interested in revisiting, but I remember finding it scary at the time, and at any rate it's probably as unfair to blame Scream for its shitty imitators as it is to blame Star Wars for Independence Day or Seinfeld for Caroline in the City, so Matt's considered praise is worth your time.
I haven't seen Brian DePalma's The Black Dahlia yet, but I had to chuckle at Dana Stevens's pan of the flick at Slate, which kicks off by decrying the film's lack of "moral weight." An amoral DePalma film? You don't say! This is like complaining about the shocking presence of dick jokes in a Mel Brooks movie.
Anyway, the great Matt Zoller Seitz has his own review of the movie up at The House Next Door, and while I only got about four sentences into it before a SPOILER WARNING scared me away, the sense I get is that he had a more positive take on the film. As a great admirer of pretty much any DePalma film in which a blonde figures prominently (Body Double, Femme Fatale, Scarface) my hunch is I'll be on Seitz's side, but we'll see.
So there I was, happily watching the season premiere of America's Next Top Model Cycle 7 (what, you weren't?), when a strange commercial featuring disembodied lips straight out of "Science Fiction/Double Feature" appeared, telling me to go to a YouTube page for something called Miss Horrorfest 2006. How could I resist?
The article is interesting when it uses the web presences of some recent killers as a window on their personalities; patricidal school shooter Alvaro Castillo, for example, listed among the people he'd like to meet one day Tom Hanks, Michael Moore, and John Hinckley Jr. It's much more dubious when it asserts that networking sites like MySpace or Facebook make criminals' jobs easier (funny, they seem to have managed just fine before), or that the people killers interact with online via these services are no more real to them than characters in a video-game shoot-'em-up. That may be true, but that's because, to a violent sociopath, all people are no more real than characters in a video-game shoot-'em-up. In terms of both their development as killers and their view of their victims, the chicken/egg question is an easy one to answer: As the sine qua non of crimebloggers, Steve Huff, once said of wannabe mass murderer Kimveer Gill, "Of course, since he was probably a psychopath and therefore by definition a narcissist, he had to have an online presence."
Aside from a misguided slap at Body Double, which is one of the most fascinating films I've ever seen even without its diegetic Frankie Goes to Hollywood production number, this LA Times analysis of the work of Brian DePalma is really worth a read. Jeez, I really have to see The Black Dahlia. (Hat tip: the inimitable Jason Adams.)