Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hey Kiddies,

I hope you all remember last year and my attempt to host Shockfest Film Festival in Hollywood CA.  I figured now is as good a time as any to let you all know that this year, Shockfest will be managed by little old moi. As such, allow me to whore it out.  Don’t fret friends, pretty soon I will be getting back to traditional blogs and even a webseries, which I think you will all love.  It will depict my exploits tormenting the Grove Family, whose closet I happen to be haunting.  It’s a brand new spin on the whole “Horror Host” craze and I look forward to sharing with you details.  But for now, it’s time for some Shockfest. 

Shockfest is running on its 7th year and it will be hosted at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood.  This year is a special one indeed, as it will be a film festival, a zombie walk, a mini convention and a haunted house.  It will take place on November 16th – 18th and they have a wonderful selection of films to premiere, as well as two different themes on Friday and Saturday night.  Opening night (Friday) they will create a Silver Screen/Golden Age Horror Hollywood ambiance, reminiscent of the 1950s.  This will include magicians entertaining guests, gothic and haunting ambiance and a classy red carpet.  Shockfest has been known in the past for its grungy and 80's indie drive-through environment and Saturday, they will be going back to this familiar theme, with monsters and horrible butchers walking around the outside of the festival.  They will have tables and booths for vendors, authors, actors and film makers to sell their wares and/or autographs to the public.  Saturday is the opening of the Haunted Attraction, which will be a hallway of fear for those brave enough to enter.  Last year this Haunted Attraction brought the house down and I am glad to say it is not only being revived, but remodeled.

“But Jeffrey”, you may be asking, “How do I get tickets to such an event of magnificent proportions?”

Well, all you have to do is follow this link ( and by typing in the promotional code, "Matt" (I was given this code by Matt Rosvally, my delicious human boss, who has given me permission to publicize this code to you all) and you get a %25 discount on any and all tickets.  As I said, this is fine and encouraged to publicized, so take advantage now, my lovelies.

Matt = Promotional Code
So what are you waiting for?  Check out the website at ( for updates on who to expect at the event, what movies are being premiered and hints at what surprises are in store and buy a ticket today!  Go on…click the eventbrite link.  I dare you…Alright, don’t do it.  See if I care.  I’ll just be here…Alone…Sitting in your closet…Waiting…For you to go to sleep…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prince of Darkness

“He wears disguises, but his ends are single and lie in only one direction, double faced but never double-minded, never undecided, never vague or feeble in his purposes or ends.”

~Edward M. Bounds, on The Devil

Looking for something diabolic?  Look no further.  Prince of Darkness is a lovely little pocket-sized biography on the Horned One.  It uses excerpts from the bible to break down the history, personality, and motivations of everyone’s favorite red headed Lucy (…No, not the dead one!) Though Prince of Darkness is nowhere near as in depth as Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World, don’t be fooled. Elwood pulls all the stops, sticking his best finger into the Devil’s brain, picking it tenderly like a fresh batch of blueberries.

That's right Lucille, you win that academy award.  It's not like I am jealous, or anything.

There are lots of fun little tidbits of information here in this book.  For example, Elwood spells out the nature of the serpent that exposed Adam and Eve to their favorite dish, the forbidden fruit.  Many consider this serprent to be Satan himself (after all, Adam and Eve were the first human sinners, but Satan was the first sinner of the Angelic Plane).  But just like the Native American folklore, where the Owl was a victim of his own vanity (the Owl's form is the opposite of what he wished it to be), so was the Snake in Christian folklore.  According to the Bible, snakes were once beautiful creatures, but the snake was cursed to crawl on his belly for his sin of convincing Adam and Eve how juicy those apples tasted.  It's the tidbits like this that make this book so interesting.   

But I suppose if I had to nit pick, since the book is an easy to read interpretation and analysis of Bible quotes, there’s a level of preachiness in the air as you read it.  I suppose I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked it up.  But I think it would have been more fun to incorporate analysis of other writings and interpretations of The Devil, like from Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno, and dare I say Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Graphic Novel? (ok, maybe not that one, it was written after this book was.  But you get what I mean).  It would have given a lot more depth to the subject, for sure.  After all, the many authors of the bible (the ones “God” spoke through, for you Christ-fags) aren’t the only ones who have something to say about the Devil’s Character. 

The artwork in this book is one of the highest selling factors for me.  Pages are filled cover to cover with the biblical artwork of famous French artist, Gustave Dore.  Some of his more familiar scenes represented in this book are Dore’s depictions of both Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno.  My favorite has always been the piece with Dante and Virgil looking over the 9th circle of Hell, dwarfed by the overwhelming size of Satan, beating his mighty wings.

My copy of the book comes with a golden strap, which offers a quick biography on both the author and Mr. Dores.  The book also has a box to keep the cover from getting dirty.  Apparently, it was once sold for 3.95, but of course inflation is a factor here in purchasing a copy now.  Just google it, I’m sure you’ll find it for an affordable price.  I myself have seen it from under ten dollars to hundreds of dollars.  Just ignore those pretentious twats that choose to sell a tiny book for ridiculous prices.  

This book is not the classic "occult piece" it is made out to be on the internet.  There is nothing here to learn about the dark arts, nor is there anything all that bold, besides a good old fashion Christian Bible lesson.  But if you wish to read a fun and concentrated piece on the Bible's interpretation of Satan, this is the book for you. 

Don't Panic!  If you'd like to learn a little more about the dark arts, keep your peepers pealed, kiddies.  There's much on the docket.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Night Flyer Review

Don’t believe what they say in the tabloids.  Unless everything they say is absolutely true. 

A few things stuck out at me while watching this movie.  One, it’s pretty funny.  Two, it has a pretty groovy monster.  And three, nobody seems to remember this movie exists.    Funny, because I actually legitimately remember a time (less than ten years ago actually) when this movie lined the DVD shelves of Saturday Matinees and FYEs at your local Mall.

I know because I watch you when you go out shopping…don’t ask why, it’s a monster thing.   

The Night Flyer is a 1997 HBO film adaptation of a Stephen King short story, written for the anthology book “Prime Evil”.  The movie stars human actor Miguel Ferrer as Richard Dees, a jaded tabloid reporter who works for the “Inside View” (you King fans should get the reference).  Dees travels across New England reporting on the murders of a serial killer called “the Night Flyer” in his articles.  Dees calls him The Night Flyer because he travels by night in a private plain, draining the blood of those unlucky enough to cross his path.  But just like a good King story should, it delves deep into the supernatural, as we learn that the Night Flyer is in fact a horrible vampire, and an ugly one at that. 

But before I get ahead of myself, let me discuss the many aspects of this movie that falls flat.

This film leaves much to be desired.  First off, the vampire is named Dwight Renfield.  Really?  Dwight Renfield?  Even people who haven’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and don’t know who Dwight Frye was still find this name to be really fishy.  It doesn’t help that Dees explains why the name is stupid within the first twenty minutes of the movie.  For the three of you out there who don’t know, Dwight Renfield is a fakey combination name of Dwight Frye, who played the character of Renfield, Dracula’s servant in the 1929 Universal film Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.  Some of you may say that the ambiguous name was meant to show the vampire has such great psychic power that he doesn’t have to try to hide his identity from the police.  But then how come the good people at the Inside View recognize the coinciding murders that happen around the man’s appearances along the east coast? 

Another thing that bothered me about this movie is ironically one of my favorite parts; the makeup.  While at full strength, Dwight Renfield takes the form of a long black haired man.  But he is really an ugly, bat like vampire with a wide gaping mouth and sharp “rail road spike” teeth (but to tell you the truth, he always looked a bit like a cheetah to me).  I was very happy with this interpretation.  I am of the school of thought that vampires are strongest when portrayed as monsters, not super powered romantics.  True, there are more than enough examples of well-written vampires taking on romantic roles.  But this interpretation has become so over used in film, television and literature that seeing anything break that over done mold, even slightly, is a refreshing enough change.  However, there are definitely shots where the makeup looked way too much like a latex mask and pair of gloves purchased at a Halloween store.  If they only lit those hands darker, it would have covered this up better.  On the other hand, at least the monster wasn’t a CGI vampire. 

Trusty Snuff box...Make my life tolerable. 

It may also be a little lame that you don’t actually see the monster until the end.  I would say this is a good thing, because it adds suspense and makes the vampire more mysterious.  But he barely shows up at all, except for flashbacks.  I know the focus is really on the struggle between the Inside View reporters and the satirical drama built around the character’s competitive nature.  However, I don’t find it uncalled for to expect a few more scenes directly involving the monster and the protagonist/s.  It would have raised the stakes a whole lot more.

The ending also leaves you asking a lot of questions.  It comes dangerously close to an intelligent metaphorical climax, but just barely falls flat in the logic department.  It’s not the worst ending I have ever seen, but it’s not an incredibly satisfying one either. 

You will also find that some of the dialogue is pretty stupid.

“He was wearing a big cloak red as a fire engine inside black as a woodchuck’s asshole outside and when it spread out behind him it looked like a god damn bat’s wing it did.” 
Looks like a fucking cloak to me...asshole.
You know from the bottom of your bleeding heart this movie was circa 1999 when you hear THIS come out of somebodies' lips.  “Somehow she tapped into a network of local law enforcement agencies with that computer of hers.”  She couldn't have just typed it into google.  No, it's a magic fucking box!  

That’s enough shooting the shit, now let’s suck this movie off.  I love it’s use of dark comedy to satirize the news and tabloid industry, painting everyone involved as a social bloodsucking parasite constantly looking for the new hot story to make more money with, screw the victims.  Merton Morrison, played by Dan Monahan from Porky’s fame, is the head of the Inside View and every time he enters a scene you are guaranteed some good old screwed up shenanigans.  My favorite scene with him is when he is talking to Dees over the phone, and blabs about how he hopes the Night Flyer kills more people, since it would aid in selling more papers.  And when Dees reports back that he will not have the story done as soon as Morrison would like, Morrison instigates his newest rookie reporter Katherine Blair, played by Julie Entwisle to compete with Dees by finishing the article before him.   What a schmuck.  But Morrison isn’t the only bad guy; all these characters are a bunch of assholes.  Which is interesting, since their actions still come off as fairly believable.  Within the first five minutes, Dees runs through the office of the Inside View, screaming in frustration that Morrison cut a photograph from the front page that he took of a dead infant.  This really shows you the kind of protagonist we are in for to ride this movie with.  He’s an insufferable prick who uses people to climb to the top.  But his motives are logical and self preserving.  He’s had a long career of tabloid writing to become this desensitized after all.  It doesn’t help that he’s even seen fellow reporters kill themselves, unable to cope with the harsh realities of the stories they report.  Without this great distance Dees puts between himself and his job, he probably wouldn’t have been in the game so long.  But on the other hand, if he only quit the reporting business long ago, he would not have met his horrifying and tragic end.

You wormy mother fucker.
All in all, I like this movie.  Though it has its share of bugs you'll have to look past, it still manages to entertain.  If you give it a look, you may be surprised at what you find.  It sure as hell isn’t the worst Stephen King adaption I’ve ever seen.

FYI, keep your eyes open for a million references to other Stephen King stories.  You know how much he loves to create a single world for all his horrors to occupy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Bloody Valentine Review

Happy Heart Day Humans. 

I gotta admit…I have been dreading writing this review.  I know how much of you love this movie, but for years every time I sat down to watch it I liked it a little less.  The pacing in the first half is slow, the killer isn’t that frightening or interesting looking (I mean, seriously, he is a miner in a gas mask) and the characters are unforgivably stupid.  But before you pull out your torches and pitchforks, let me just say that I recently popped in the legendary uncut version and it’s actually much better.  The special effects are awesome!  In a time where the innovation of making the innards of humans look real thrived, it confuses me how for almost three decades, the literal “meat” of this movie was buried under a pile of celluloid and the dreams of a begrudged director.   

The backwater mining town of Valentine Bluffs is under the murderous siege of Harry Warden, a gas masked pickaxe wielding heart ripping murderer who hates Valentine’s Day.  You see, back in the early 60’s, Harry and his fellow mining crew were killed in a methane gas explosion caused by the incompetence of the crew’s foreman.  This was because the town was holding its annual Valentines Day dance and he was in a rush to get to the party, leaving his post unattended.  Harry managed to stay alive down there for six weeks, eating the flesh of his co-workers.  But consuming your friends while rotting tens of feet below the ground makes humans go crazy apparently, and Harry was committed to a mental institution.  On the one year anniversary of Harry’s tragedy, he escaped and ripped out the heart of the reckless foreman responsible for the accident.  So the legend goes, he stalks the town on Valentines Day, ready to continue his horrible murder spree if anyone ever holds another Valentines celebration.  But now, twenty years later, the town of Valentine Bluffs is finally ready to try pissing on the electric fence and decide to hold another Valentine’s Day dance.  Predictably, the bodies pile up and the Mayor tries to cancel the dance.  But the local horny teenagers reject this reality and substitute it for their own by holding their own party, unbeknownst to the Mayor or the Chief of police, who work to capture the elusive Harry Warden.  All the while, a love triangle between a young girl named Sarah and her two potential lovers, T.J. Hanniger and Axel Palmer commences throughout the film. 

Before I get into what I don’t like, I want to emphasize the idea of a crazy killer whose motivation is to murder those who wish to openly celebrate Valentines Day is highly entertaining.  My initial dislike of this movie comes from a general exasperation I feel for the slasher genre.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gore brigade as much as the next blood thirsty lusus naturae.  But too often, I find many of these movies are based around the stereotype of a masked, heavy breathing barbarian hacking up a bunch of sex crazed over medicated frat kids.  We’ve seen it before and we still do, constantly.  It’s difficult not to think of a million examples of the still living and breathing slasher genre.  Off the top of my head, I know of a few films currently in production, like the remake of the cult classic Maniac, as well as a couple new movies, (Hack/Slash, Chained and a 100 Bloody Acres).  A good slasher film generally incorporates a combination of an unsettling killer and atmosphere, a cleaver twist, the inclusion of likeable and annoying characters, and impressive special effects.  

First off, I don’t find gas masks scary.  This is because they tend to make me think of army/navy surplus stores.  When I think of a cleaver slasher mask, I think of the William Shatner white face worn by Michael Myers in Halloween.  The mask was eerie because it looked too synthetic to be human but still had the basic shape of a human face.  This was emphasized by the fact that it was painted pure white, taking away even more subtle nuances of a human face.  The end result was a face that looked vague and neutral.  When you saw Myers, you knew there was no discussion with this guy; he had his mind set on what he was going to do to you. I get why Harry Warden wore a gas mask, he was dressed in his old miner’s outfit.  It works, especially given the fact that the characters are all miners, making it ambiguous as to whether it really was Harry who was killing everyone.  But it always came off to me as a cheap alternative to creating an original face of fear.  Not bad, but it screams for a touch up. 

Despite this, the atmosphere in the movie is actually pretty good.  The mine is impressive and that has a lot to do with the fact that it was shot on location.  Also, the ending twist wasn’t bad at all.  It actually reminded me of the twist in Friday the 13th, but I’ll leave that for you guys to decide for yourselves.  I am very happy to give these aspects a pass.  However, the behavior of the protagonist’s was so fucking stupid, I was unable to care what happened to the majority of them.  They get upset about the cancelation of the Valentine’s Day dance and they know about the threat of Harry Warden.  Still they decide to hold a party anyway, despite the warnings of the police chief Jake Newby.  To make matters worse, to impress their girlfriends, a bunch of the miners decide to take their girls down into the mine for a tour all the while drinking like a bunch of bloated grannies at a family reunion.  I enjoy a few chuckle headed idiots in my slasher films.  After all, it’s fun to generate that desire to see them kick the bucket.  But if all the characters behave like a bunch of dumb shits, the movie becomes predictable and I no longer care about their ensuing shenanigans.  This is really what bogs this movie down so much.  That, and the lack of special effects.

At least that is how I felt before watching the unrated version, released in the 2009 Lionsgate distributed DVD.  For those who don’t know, over 9 minutes of the film was cut out of it’s original version, leaving out a great deal of the gore and violence.  But without it, all that was left was a bunch of sloppy teenage drunks lining up on the slaughter house conveyor belt.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a purist more often than not and believe that once a movie is released, it should probably stay that way.  After all, what is a final cut if not the final version of a movie?  But now that this footage has been put back into the film the way the director initially intended, I can see how much better this was supposed to be in the first place.  Some of these special effects were so fantastic, it begs an explanation from the MPAA.  My favorite effect was the cadaver in the washing machine.  The differences between the theatrical and unrated versions are minimal, mostly a few extra close ups of the manikin.  But the body is so rotten and waterlogged, as if it had been shoved inside the machine the night before and put through a flesh melting spin cycle.  Those extra little touches really make all the difference when watching a film meant to show off the gore.  All I have to say is, awesome!

The censorship of this film was nothing more than pure unadulterated defamation to what could have been (and in 2009 hopefully did become) a staple of the genre for mainstream audiences.  Luckily, the film gained a strong cult following during its initial release.  Without the huge outcry of its fans we never would have the movie in its entirety like this.  Also the fact that the remake came out that year helped a lot to push this re-release, but we will chat about that movie later.  If you love a good slasher this is definitely a classic worth watching, but stick to the unrated version or else you are missing out.  There are some pretty grizzly moments to be had here.  Even I can get over my prejudices for the average slasher film while watching it, factoring in of course that My Bloody Valentine was one of the early ones, and therefore the learning curve the genre was going through make the flaws even more acceptable.  So long as you keep this in mind, you are in for an awesome ride.  So grab your box of chalk flavored sweet hearts, dim the lights and get your hands on a copy of My Bloody Valentine.  You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, I know you people will hate me if I don’t compliment this guy’s mustache…It is a fine mustache indeed.  And yes, he is the most sympathetic character in the movie.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bongcheon Dong and Ok-Su Station Ghost Stories A.K.A. The 2011 Mystery Shorts

I hope you don’t plan on going to sleep anytime soon.  That is my job after all; to frighten you all into the piss puddle induced state of a creepy wo/man baby.  But tonight’s horror doesn’t come from yours truly.  Actually, this frightmare of a double feature is a series of pieces made by an artist from the Orient.

The Bongcheon-Dong and Ok-Su Station Ghost Stories are original comic strips written and animated by Studio Horang, a Korean writer/director/blogger who has managed to keep a pretty low profile on the internet circuit in the English speaking countries of the world.  Very little is known about the artist.  Many fellow internet creepers (like myself) have stated the artist’s name is Jong-Ho Choi, but they are all citing the blogger named Robot 6 as their main source (you can check out his stuff here).  As I write this, there is currently only one video on Horang’s youtube page, and it is a 46 second music video for the Korean band C-Kret (the opening of an anime maybe?  I don’t know.  I don’t watch a lot of that is the link anyway  Much like Horang, I was unable to find very much about C-Kret (however, you can find the vocalist, Gaya’s website at check it out.  That is, if you happen to know how to read Kanji).  Despite Horang’s incredible obscurity, he has made a huge splash in the digital cesspool that is the internet with his incredibly short and sweet horror series, the 2011 Mystery Shorts, consisting of the two horrifying ghost stories I am sharing with you tonight. 

These two horror stories, short as they are, are jam packed with Lovecraftian elements.  Specifically, they instigate the fear of a supernatural influence over an urban setting.  Bongcheon Dong is a housing division in Seul, South Korea and Oksu Station is an actual train line in the same city as Bongcheon Dong (probably the home town of Horang himself).  Not only that, but they introduce characters that are completely out of control of their current ghostly situation and unable to comprehend the horrors that await them until it is too late.  

As I stated before, I hope you were not planning on getting much sleep, because I guarantee that at least one of these two horrifying web comics will keep your eye lids glued to the tip of your scalp.  I am reluctant to give away too much information on these pieces other than they are very eerie and claim to be based on “true events”.  Horang manages to put the reader directly into the setting of the pieces within their first panels, as well as develop a very frightening mood, seemingly without an ounce of effort.
I mean, look at this.  Even out of context, this image is bound to haunt anyone’s nightmares. 
I fear that any more commentary I may be able to add would only detract from the experience of these nightmare inducing stories.  So without further ado, I present to you Studio Horang’s 2011 Mystery Shorts.  Read them and judge for yourselves just what makes these damn things so haunting.  I recommend beginning with the Bongcheon-Dong Ghost Story first.  Normally, I’d say save the best for last, but the Bongcheon-Dong Ghost Story really enhances the reading experience of the Ok-Su Station Ghost Story; forcing you to wonder what is going to happen in each on coming panel. 

You can read the Bongcheon-Dong Ghost Story with an english translation here:

And, of course, the Ok-Su Station Ghost Story with an english translation here:

I for one hope to see more from Horang, and anxiously look forward to the opportunity of sharing many more narcoleptic nights with his horrifying work.  I hope you feel the same as I do about these creepy fucking stories.  And as a very sexy woman once said while waving goodbye on the show Movie Macabre, until next time, "unpleasant dreams".

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shockfest: The Complete Application Collection

Hello Meat!

A couple of months ago, I posted a video application for the position of host for Shockfest film festival.  I am sure some of you got a chance to watch it, but in fact, there were actually four videos in total, two of which never went viral.  So, I wanted to share with you all the complete collection of video applications.  The process to get the job was very tedious and took a lot out of me.  After all, I killed a cat, raised the dead, and summoned a demon inside of an orphan all in one month.  The wonderful people at Shockfest did eventually get back to me.  The end result?  They shared a wonderful long weekend with me as their host of 2011.  Thank you all for the absolutely frightful experience.  So, without further ado, here they are.  I hope you enjoy them.


*I would also love to add a special thanks to the following people for making these video applications possible.

Dustin Gardner
Keith Wyrick
Joe Bou
Mai Mai
Nique Rose
Pat Jankiewicz
Edward and Victoria Plumb
Guil and Alesha Claveria, and all the good people of Shockfest Film Festival

May you all rest in a horrific slumber.

Solicitation #1

Solicitation #2

Solicitation #3

Solicitation #4

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ravenous Review

Sup, delicious humans! 

I have missed every single one of you, as I hope you did me.  I beg you pardon my triple month disappearance, but I have been taking culinary classes.  I am currently perfecting my recipe for toddler tartar.  It’s coming along pretty well, though I must admit I am having a little trouble with the marinade.  If anyone is interested in following my chiefscapades, you will be glad to know that I will soon provide you step by step instructions on the preparation of my new dish.  That is, as soon as I manage to get my hands on a real kitchen, rather than a leftover hotplate I found in the depths of the closet. 

The series of events that stimulated my interest in the culinary arts unfolded after a private screening of the hunger pain inducing movie, Ravenous.  The movie is set in the mid 1800’s during the Mexican American war.  Lt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is granted a promotion after he single handedly captures the enemies’ fort.  However, Boyd’s superiors don’t feel he is worthy of his new post, since the methods implemented to accomplish his goal were embarrassingly cowardly.  You see Boyd really doesn’t have the stomach for violence.  Early in the battle he played possum, watching his company fight and die around him.  As he waited out the carnage, he accidentally sampled some blood from a dead soldier.  Upon consuming the blood he discovered that it had rejuvenative powers, enriching him with a newfound vigor. Pumped, he snuck out from under a pile of bodies and singlehandedly captured the enemies’ fort, winning the battle.  However, unable to let Boyd’s initial cowardice go unpunished, his commanding officers ship him to the remote Fort Spencer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where they could be sure he would never see action on the battlefield again.  There, he meets his new unit consisting of such appetizing human actors as Jeffrey Jones and David Arquette.  

Soon after Boyd gets himself situated, a strange man collapses just outside of the Fort.  His name is Mr. Colqhoun and he is one of the last survivors of a lost caravan somewhere in the Sierra Mountains.  Once his party’s food supply disappeared, they were forced to eat their dead in order to survive.  They kept that going for as long as possible, but once their numbers dwindled to nothing, Colqhoun decided to flee from the party in hopes of finding help.  With this morbid story, Colqhoun successfully convinces everyone there is still a survivor in the woods eating the last of his party members.  Feeling obligated to help the poor souls; the soldiers and Colqhoun embark on a journey to save the lost survivors.  Unfortunately for them, they soon realize that they are actually the victims of a horrible trap.  So of course, culinary hijinks ensue.

(FYI, Colqhoun is pronounced: COLQ like COWL and HOUN as HOON like the word SOON). 

Three elements of the film really stick out at me as particularly well done: the choice of monster, the acting but most of all the music.  The scrumptious human Antonia Bird is the director of the film, and I am rather surprised at how good of director she is.  For a short while, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of her before, but then I learned she mostly directs British Television.  It’s hard enough to tap into the walls of the house I squat in and steal American cable from the Groves, so there is no chance in hell that I would ever have decent exposure to her work.  It was also surprising to see that Antonia’s genre of choice is generally not horror.  I have seen many other movies from people who have dedicated their lives to make horror pictures and still cannot pull together a good suspenseful piece like this, even in exchange for the key to the basement I locked them in (I’m sure Herschell Gordon Lewis will claw his way out of that rat trap some day).  This movie’s existence is rather refreshing to me, because it proves that really good movies can (and often do) slip through the cracks of mass audience appeal and/or exposure.   It gives me hope to continue digging through the annals of bad movies in hopes of finding those ever elusive hidden gems of the film world.  But most importantly, it makes me hungry.

The monster isn’t all that common in most modern horror movies.  Sure, we have all watched episode two of Supernatural, but besides that, I don’t right recall many horror movies about this particular cryptid (I am not counting the 2001 horror film Wendigo by Larry Fessenden…I want to save that discussion for another day).  In case you have never heard of a Wendigo, it is an Algonquin mythological beast that was once human, but has transformed do to the over consumption of human meat and possession by an evil spirit.  They behave like wild animals, prowling the night in search of victims.  Though the Wendigos in this film behave a lot more like vampires than wild animals.  They spend their time mingling with humans, but only as a ruse to cover their morbid actions more effectively and choose who their next victims will be.  The Wendigos powers are also vampiric in nature; eating human meat gives them a significant boost to their immune system and increases their strength and stamina.  With that said, why not make this a vampire film?  

Though this movie would have been just fine as a vampire flick, making the monsters Wendigos with vampiric traits allows the audience to instantly sympathize with the unfamiliar monsters in a familiar way.  For the past twenty five years, the market has been over flooded with content about those pasty faced lust buckets, usually written for prepubescent human twats.  I feel confident in saying that when it comes to vampires, we want to see something very new; Anne Rice filled the quota for whiny vampires for the next half a century (Someone forgot to inform Stephanie Myer).  Using a different monster opens the doors for old topics to be made fresh without the conflict coming off as too old hat.  There is little Wendigo content to dispute the nature of the beast, that it is ok to incorporate new ideas without pissing off your average Wendigo fan and still managing to captivate a massive audience (once again, somebody forgot to inform Stephanie Myer).  We can discuss such topics as addiction, the natures of good and evil, and of course, the morality of survival tactics without leaving the audience yawning the ever famous mantra while leaving the theatre, “John Carradine did it better”.  While the film sadly didn’t succeed in captivating a mass audience at the time of its release, using an unfamiliar monster at the bare minimum provided the film with a hint more originality than it’s standard blood sucking compadre.  But what is a really original monster without a good cast to help bring the creature to life?

A good ensemble cast requires good talent, just as a delectable Shepherds Pie requires a sweet, juicy carcass.  The casting of Ravenous is one of the movie’s finer sweet spots to be sure.  The delicious human actors Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle work off each other so well, playing characters that have completely polar opposite senses of morality.  

Boyd is a pragmatic pacifist, who adheres violence, unless under the threat of bodily harm.  Though, because he is a soldier and killing is his job, his desire for self-preservation frequently causes others around him to get hurt, which is why he is often labeled a coward.  This is seen by his initial action of playing dead during the Mexican American war.  It is also seen as he tries to run away, even when Cl. Ives has just killed his fellow soldiers outside of the cannibal cave (I’m not really spoiling much, this happens too early on in the movie to ruin).  I must admit I have never seen another Guy Pearce movie, and I am glad to have this be my introduction to his work.  His ability to internalize the conflict and project the pain it causes his character onto his face generates a great deal of sympathy.  I also enjoy watching his frustration grow as he fights to convince his fellow soldiers that Ives is in fact a man-eater.  Even more enjoyable is the look he gets every time he is mortally wounded and must either eat human flesh or die horribly.  You can almost see the back and forth going on in his head up to the very second he decides, “fuck it” and finally digs in.  It gets me every time.  

To noms, or not to noms.
Cl. Ives (Robert Carlyle) on the other hand plays a complete Nihilist; he feels no remorse for his insatiable appetite and even embraces it as his nature, which he would gladly sate at any point.  Carlyle plays the part with such an unapologetic dispensation that you can’t help but fall in love with him.  You even begin to sympathize with him as you learn about the unfortunate events that brought him to choose the life of a Wendigo.  His actions aren’t justified, but the appeal of watching him is seeing how Carlyle makes Ives feel justified for eating people.  Hmmm…Understanding the monster to a point that you humans may finally know why we do the things we do.  What a novel idea.  Take a note, human horror film makers; I want more of this.  If I wanted to watch boring, one dimensional, teenage characters face poorly written conflicts, I’d watch Glee.

Despite the talents of our two leads, my favorite two human actors by far are Jeffrey Jones and David Arquette.  

This film proved to be one of the last of Jeffrey Jones’ acting career of the millennia (he followed up with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow).  Though I can’t condone anything he may have done for his presence to significantly diminish from the Hollywood circuit, his performance in Ravenous is a bittersweet reminder of how much his talent is missed on the big screen.  Jones plays Col. Hart, Boyd’s superior officer at Fort Spencer.  He is a crippled and sickly old man who takes a shining to Boyd, as he is one of his few fellow soldiers with a tortured past and conflicted disposition to match his own.  Hart was once a mountain of a man, but in his old age grew sickly and frail.  He loves to read philosophy (he quotes Benjamin Franklin and Aristotle) and eat walnuts.  Despite his overqualified credentials, he has resigned himself to the glorified position of father to a bunch of drunken and “overly medicated” ninnies working beneath him at this baron way station.  You see him crave his youth, as he smashes a handful of walnuts with a thick heavy book, even though he was once strong enough to squeeze the nuts free with his bare hand. All the while he watches his life slink slowly down the drain of mediocrity and thankless employment.  Actually, Col. Hart is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to watch this movie.  He goes through such an interesting character arc so Faustian that I can’t help but love the on and off screen drama of this character.   Jones seamlessly slips into this performance, playing a resigned man to his midlife misfortunes and his loss of control over his own faculties.  Actually, reflecting on this can be very eerie on dark and stormy nights.  It is tough not to notice the similarities in tone of Cl. Hart’s frustration and Jones’ own current real life situation.  One wonders if Cl. Hart’s Vonnegut esque (“so it goes”) attitude on life is not too dissimilar to Jones’ about his status as a Hollywood celebrity.  I suggest you read up on the man, watch this movie, and heed my words.  You may enjoy the frosty chill of celebrity misfortune.

Finally, I feel the need to talk about the performance of the human actor David Arquette.  He plays Cleaves, a low ranking private in Col. Hart’s regalia.  Cleaves spends the majority of his free time smoking marijuana and eating peyote.  Despite my initial low expectation of this performance, I am happy to report that Arquette far exceeded my expectation.  The stereotypes of the drug fiend have become so familiar that most portrayals tend to be more of a parody than an authentic emulation.  However, Arquette depicts the attitude of a reckless but loving adolescent rather than a Ninja Turtles Stereotype.  But Arquette’s real shining moment is during a grizzly dream sequence, where Boyd stabs Cleaves and goes to town chomping down on his liver.  As Cleaves slowly dies, he laughs antagonistically at the sight of Boyd giving into his darkest hunger.  The scene only lasted for about half a minute, but this one performance reminded me of another actor well versed in the portrayal of bit creepy parts, the late and great Dwight Frye.  Specifically, what comes to mind is Frye’s performance as Renfield in Carl Laemmle’s Dracula.  Renfield begins the movie as a straight man, with no particular substance to him other than his desire to sell some property in London to Count Dracula.  But after Dracula submits him to obedience, Renfield becomes a twisted nutcase with a morbid hunger for insects.  The transformation between these two very different personalities is seamless and makes the character intimidating, since his personality shifts so abruptly.  It is an art to give a side character substance and diversity, especially when that character has so little on screen time.  But for Aruqette to win me over, it only took a laugh.  For This performance, I offer Arquette a blood-curdling scream of approval.

The music is very peculiar in this film.  The tasty human composers, Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn did a fantastic job creating a series of haunting melodies, which alone are eerily beautiful, but juxtaposed to the gorgeous cinematography, make for some fascinating content.  The gritty composition really puts you into the world of this 18th century military fort in the Sierra Mountains.  The music sounds like it was written and recorded a long time ago by some primitive backwater jug band, yet the music itself would translate beautifully if performed by a philharmonic orchestra.  The awkward playing of the musicians and the off key instruments they played on created a foreign and unsettling atmosphere, giving character to the beautiful scenery portrayed throughout the movie.  In this way, it mirrors the gritty music often used to set the stage for such period pieces as “Once Upon A Time In The West” and “A Man For All Seasons”.  It’s that grizzled and dated edge in the music that really helps capture the flavor of the setting and set the mood for this piece.  It also sticks out to me as the most identifiable aspect of this movie.  It just goes to show you how much a good score can affect your film.  

If you are looking for a brilliant and rare horror movie, Ravenous comes highly recommended by yours truly.  The monster is original, but incorporates familiar character traits of other monsters to keep it fresh.  Also, every character and performance is authentic and distinct.  But to top it all off, the haunting composition draws you in and keeps your ass planted firmly in your seat from start to finish.  At the end of the day, these details are simply that; details.  But these details make this movie one of my favorite period horror films ever made.  So grab your walnuts, slice your wrists and poor yourself a glass of that ol' Jesus Juice.  Because if his is good enough to drink every sunday, then surely yours is good enough for the rest of the six days of the week.

*Just a quick note about Vampire films.  I don't think vampires are on their way out.  I am only saying that they are embedded much deeper into the mainstream than Wendigos are.  Thus, making an original Wendigo movie is a lot more easy than an original Vampire movie.  

**By the way, expect a lot more content from me this year.  Jeffrey is stepping out to paint the town with buckets of Babies' Blood.