Showing posts from 2020
πŸ’€πŸ’€The Age Of Gods And Monsters lives on in the hearts and imaginations of those that wish to keep it alive. Ghoulish Grin Films is a small entity but its heart is on fire with the ghosts of old. It is an entity that cherishes the classics and gives it a modern platform. Long Live Indie Horror! πŸ’€πŸ’€

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O Captain My Captain (Happy 89th Birthday William Shatner!)

An icon of science fiction, William Shatner is an Emmy Award winning television veteran and author of several science fiction novels.
A classically trained Shakespearian actor, he appeared on stage and landed many different television roles, including my appearance on "The Twilight Zone." He's even dropped some outlandishly odd music. Treat yourself and watch some of his musical performances.
But to everyone that recognizes him, whether casually or not, he will always be Captain James T. Kirk of The U.S.S. Enterprise.
That original show created an entire culture of Trekkers who live the life of Star Trek and the values that Gene Roddenberry brought to that universe.
Shatner's performance as Captain Kirk brought a leading man swagger with the wisdom of a leader of the future. Many a comedian and impressionist lovingly mocked his pausing style of acting, but in moments in the shows and films he showed solid chops and...isn't imitation the fondest for…

The Cinematic Birth Of The Monster (Edison's "Frankenstein 1910")

On March 18th 1910 Edison Studios, owned by entrepreneur and inventor Thomas Edison, released a 14 minute adaptation of Mary Shelley's legendary "Frankenstein." It is the first adaptation of the modern mythos, setting the stage for future adaptations and cementing the legacy of the story.
The film was originally believed to have been lost, like many other silent films. It was purchased in the '50's by a film collector and in the '70's came to light as a discovered and important gem. Now, like all silent films originating before 1924 has fallen into the public domain.
This silent film may not have the chill factor for todays modern horror fans, but like many other silent horror films it holds a fascination factor that modern films can rarely capture.
Enjoy this bit of cinematic history as the great majority of us catch up on our viewing. It's a great time to become aware of our history of horror, science fiction, and fantasy through these historic fil…

A 2020 Virtual St. Patrick's Day!

Amid our trying times, things have been shut down.
Let me correct myself...EVERYTHING'S been shut down.
The absolute opposite compared to last years St. Patrick's Day. Remember last year's St. Patrick's Day? Like any other previous year. A fun parade. People dressed in festive green. Eating Irish dishes. And yes...drinking.
An all around great day.
And now a fundamental change to our way of life has just put that to a standstill.
So...what do we do? Just throw our hands up?
Or do we make the most of a strange and lonesome situation.
I say the latter!
Let us heal our bladders and livers and enjoy the source of this holiday.
And I don't mean the man himself (yes, I know he's British).
Let us celebrate the art, tradition, and music of The Irish!
I grew up loving Celtic music (still adore it) and it's magic can heal our hearts.
In these times let us make the most of it.
Enjoy your day with music and love. Please be safe and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day.

Demons & Wizards III - A Trilogy Of Metal Greatness

When I heard two of my favorite metal heroes, Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian and Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth, were teaming up for a supergroup called Demons & Wizards, I was more than ready for what they had to offer.
And in 2000 the release of the now classic debut album gave me a combination of Schaffer's lightning fast riffage and Kursch's soaring vocals to songs that hold up to all of the great metal music from days past. Listen to "Fiddler on the Green" for an example of their greatness.
Because of their main bands still being active, it would take five years for a follow-up. But "Touched By The Crimson King" was worth it. A worthy follow-up to the classic debut album, it had it's own collection of classic jams with the same winning formula.
Iced Earth and Blind Guardian were always the priority, and new music from those two legendary metal bands would take up their time. But many wanted that third album. But we also wondered if…

Movie Theaters "A Quiet Place" (Part 2 Delayed)

We're now seeing a temporary 'new normal.'
Major events being cancelled. Seasons cancelled. Distancing.
It's a very anxious and uncertain period not just now but in the coming months. And this is spilling into the box office.
I was able to see "The Invisible Man" when it came out but in the back of my mind I was still thinking of world events and how they may shape the coming months. And it seems as if theaters will definitely get hit.
"A Quiet Place 2" has been delayed until our collective leadership starts to get a hold of the panic and uncertainty. When that happens? Who knows. I know we're all hoping it's sooner rather than later.
As many close to me know I'm a big theater goer. There's nothing like going to the movies in a theater with an enthusiastic crowd, enjoying a film on the big screen. The environment, the fandom. It's for many (including myself) an escape from the problems of the real world.
Now the real world has t…

"Invisible Man 2020" - A Return To Form For Universal

I went into the theater ready to see the 2020 adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man" with expectations, I won't lie. I knew the reviews were great, and being a fanatic for the Universal Monsters era, I wanted perhaps more than it could potentially offer.
To my delight it gave me all I wanted. The opening sequence (as I try not to spoil anything) had the feel of a Universal Monster movie in a modern setting. I was actually quite shocked at how well they were able to capture that classic feel in a modern setting.
From that point on I was ready for an instant classic. And that's what I think Universal gave me.
It's been a long time coming. Over the years they've had some films from the properties that were fantastic (Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 retelling "Bram Stoker's Dracula) and Kenneth Branagh's 1994 retelling of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), at least fun ("Van Helsing" and the Brendan Fraser "Mummy"…

The New "Candyman" Looks CHILLING!

I believe Clive Barker's Books Of Blood are among the finest horror short stories ever put out. And among those chilling tales is a story called "The Forbidden."
Now I had seen 1992's "Candyman" and thought it was an amazing film. An original take on an urban legend. I never realized "The Forbidden" was the source material until I started reading it. The short stories in The Books Of Blood are captivating and an easy read. Realizing I was reading the story of The Candyman, I ate it up like...well, you know.
Sweets for the sweet.
Just released is the upcoming 2020 remake of "Candyman," co-written and produced by our new voice in horror, Jordan Peele.
The hype is real. It has the look and feel of a "Get Out" and "Us," but has a classic horror boogeyman at the helm. As if I needed any extra incentive to see this.
Take my money.

The New Era (Happy Birthday James Wan!)

In 2004, director James Wan created not only a franchise but a new era in horror. For many it was a gory new era of 'torture' for squeamish fans. But the original "Saw" film (directed by Wan) was a bloody new entry to the history of horror films. With a new follow-up from Chris Rock, the Saw Franchise continues to scare up box office and is now a staple in Halloween shops every Halloween.
But Wan didn't follow his directorial debut with that type of horror. Showing his diversity as a filmmaker, yet still playing in the horror sandbox, he directed "Dead Silence" in 2007 and would create a whole new universe with the "Insidious" and "The Conjuring" franchises. The world would expand with the "Annabelle," "Nun," and "La Llorona" films and with sequels to "Insidious" and "The Conjuring."
He would later leave his comfort zone and direct mega blockbusters "Furious 7" and "Aq…

Women In Horror Month In February

From the myth creating genius of Mary Shelley to our modern horror film icon Lin Shaye, February is the month we celebrate the long tradition of great women in horror. From literature, stage and screen, art, music...horror has many a wonderful woman to celebrate.
We have time tested legends...and every year spawns the potential of new great talent. Celebrate your favorites. Celebrate the greatness of the past. And the promise of the future.
Happy Women In Horror Month!

And if you follow one of these great women online through social media, tell them how much you appreciate them.

Happy Valentine's Day (Love Never Dies...Neither Does DRACULA!)

Today is Valentine's Day. It's also the anniversary of the 1931 Universal horror classic "Dracula," starring Bela Lugosi.
The first sound adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, it was based more on the 1924 stage play and directed by Tod Browning. The role of the legendary vampire was immortalized by horror icon Lugosi.
Though he received good reviews for his stage performance of the character, he wasn't originally considered for the role on account of his thick accent. But thankfully he was cast. The role wouldn't have been the same without his portrayal. The great Max Schreck performed the character (called Count Orlok in the film "Nosferatu") and was perhaps more of a proper adaptation of the character. There was just something, however, about Lugosi's stare and movements that created a more romantic version of Dracula. And the actresses that were a part of that production were smitten with him.
Concurrently filmed by Universal Pictures was th…

Leslie Nielsen: From The Files Of The Birthday Boy!

Sometimes an actor is so beloved by his fans that even after leaving this world his presence is felt. Maybe it's because the famous comedies he starred in were SO absurd that having sorrow knowing he's gone is overtaken by the sheer joy he brought you.
A Canadian actor born on February 11th, he starred in many genre supporting roles in the '60's and '70's, with notable roles in "Forbidden Planet" and "The Poseidon Adventure."
It wasn't until he starred in 1980's "Airplane!" that his career took a very different direction.
From then on roles in "The Naked Gun: From The Files Of The Police Squad!" and it's sequels turned him into a comedy star. He would continue these types of roles with "Repossessed, "2001: A Space Travesty," and even starring as the great Count Dracula in "Dracula: Dead And Loving It" for the legendary Mel Brooks.
There are a handful of very talented actors w…

You Get What You Deserve

The Oscars had some surprises to be sure. "Parasite" winning Best Picture was a history maker, gaining steam as the show plugged along.
But there were some winners that were foreseen.
And the most predictable were the acting awards. Brad Pitt. Laura Dern. Renee Zellweger.
And the most celebrated performance from not only comic book fans and the ones curious of it's dark retelling but of regular mainstream film fans...Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker.
Seeing this performance in the theater was something to behold. Chilling, disturbing, but always mesmerizing, Mr. Phoenix brought a feverish intensity to the iconic role...reimagined for old and new fans.
He is now forever linked with Heath Ledger as winning the award for the same role.
The Joker was always Batman's greatest nemesis. And slowly became something all will come to recognize.
One of the greatest villains of all time. In any genre.
Mr. got what you deserved. Congratulations.

Bravo Maestro! Happy 88th Birthday John Williams!

Late last month as I was honoring Gene Hackman's 90th birthday, I was reminiscing over his role as Lex Luthor and how he was my Lex Luthor, as was Christopher Reeve's Superman.
I was but a baby when I saw it. I was TOLD I was riveted but memory doesn't serve me well. I believed the story however because the first full piece of classical music or movie music score that these ears ever heard was from "Superman: The Movie."
And that score was from the GREAT John Williams.
It still stirs something in me. To this day.
And that's just ONE score.
I grew up with Star Wars. Indiana Jones.
All master scores from Williams.
Not to mention his other early scores like "Jaws," "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind," and "E.T." to point out a few.
His dominance continued from the late '70's and '80's into The '90's with movie music from "Hook," "Jurassic Park," "Home Alone," and "Harry Po…

A New Page From The Book Of Saw (Spiral)

The Saw Franchise has truly been a major entry into the mainstream horror scene. Brought to the screen with the first "Saw" film (directed by horror superstar Jame Wan), the film spawned sequel after sequel. It became a Halloween tradition. And merchandise could always be seen at Halloween shops during the October season.
In 2017 they tried to resurrect the franchise (after everyone was told the final installment would be 2010's "Saw 3D") with "Jigsaw." Though profitable, most folks (and especially critics) were lukewarm to the new entry.
Now, this summer a continuation of the Saw Franchise is on the way, with Wan returning as a producer with comedian Chris Rock (who will also star in the film with Samuel L. Jackson).
It is part of the larger universe but seems to be a side story...a different page from The Book Of Saw, if you will.
The trailer does look interesting, if not completely reinventing the wheel. And with Chris Rock at the helm, it seems t…

House Of Carradine (Happy Birthday John Carradine)

A Shakespearian actor who has been recognized as one of the finest character actors of his era.
An acclaimed actor who's worked with legendary directors like Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford and performed with the likes of John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart. An actor worthy of the giants of Hollywood.
But as a die hard Universal Monsters Horror fan, my favorites of his are the monster mashes "House Of Frankenstein" and "House Of Dracula."
Seeing more than one movie monster was something that gave me great joy. And I enjoyed those Universal team ups. And the Carradine films were full on All-Star events. Whether you believe they rank with the original origin films or whether you think they're vintage cash grabs, they are part of a great tradition of classic horror. An age never to be repeated again.
Maybe he wasn't MY Dracula. Bela Lugosi (and then later Sir Christopher Lee) were my Princes Of Darkness. But he deserves his spot amo…

"It Can't Rain All The Time" - Happy Birthday Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee only made six films in his lifetime, with some television under his belt. And his untimely death in 1993 extinguished the flame of his promise.
Fortunately, his last film gave him a piece of art that will help keep his memory alive forever. And that was 1994's "The Crow," a beautifully dark and spectacular comic book film. A realization of the genre long before DC and Marvel ramped up their quality projects in the 2000's.
I went with my cousin and brother back in '94 to see it and even before Brandon Lee appears on screen it paints a gothic beauty that not many mainstream films were doing back then.
When the character Eric Draven popped out of his grave it was an absolutely chilling moment. I knew of the accident on the set of the film and it was an unusually gripping scene. Like it had unnaturally brought him back for one more darkly epic moment.
The film is a brilliant comic book film, and literally rocks with it's amazing soundtrack, gorgeous …

THEE Lex Luthor (Happy 90th Birthday Gene Hackman!)

This acclaimed actor has been described by his peers no less as one of the greatest actors of his generation. And that was the generation of actors and actresses of the second Golden Age of Hollywood...the late '60's and '70's.
He's won a Best Actor Oscar for 1971's "The French Connection" and for 1992's "Unforgiven."
He's appeared in classic films like "Bonnie And Clyde," "The Conversation," and "Mississippi Burning" among others. He's worked with legendary actors and actresses like Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Warren Beatty, and Faye Dunaway.
But as a kid he was one thing and one thing only. Superman's arch nemesis...LEX LUTHOR!
A handful of actors, whether on the big or small screen or as a voice interpretation, have portrayed the great super villain. Including Hackman's "Superman IV: The Quest For Peace" costar Jon Cryer, who's done an exceptional job in the CW DC Tel…

A Case For "A Wrinkle In Time"

On Oprah Winfrey's birthday, I wanted to focus on a story that she and a group of talented individuals decided to tackle.
I always found the childrens book "A Wrinkle In Time" to be very comforting. It also opened your mind up to very interesting concepts of space and time. I love when stories have that classic feel yet also stretch the boundaries of storytelling. This book is the epitome of that.
There was an adaptation of of the book in 2003 but it wasn't all that great (I'm trying to be nice).
So The Walt Disney Company decided to make a proper adaptation of the film. When I heard the magnificent filmmaker Ava DuVerney was attached and Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and Reese Witherspoon were on board, I was all in.
The film came out and underperformed at the box office and has a 42% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Whether any studio would tackle this property again is the question. I'm not sure.
But despite the disappointing reaction to the…

Dear Basketball...Thank You For Kobe

In 2018 I went to my local theater to watch an Oscar Nominee Short Film Showcase. Whether it's a YouTube video of a short film created by a kid on his phone or an Oscar Nominated top notch production, I truly enjoy watching short films.
After seeing the live action shorts there was a short intermission and the audience returned to finish the showcase with the animated short film nominees.
An animated short titled "Dear Basketball" appeared.
I hear the narrators voice. It's Kobe Bryant.
And immediately I'm all in.
Right away I love it because it's hand drawn animation. Something I still miss (not a knock against computer animation) having grown up with classic Disney and Looney Tunes.
And if THAT wasn't enough to earn my love, it was scored by the master himself, John Williams.
And as the short film concluded, it stirred in me my love of basketball, which had taken a back seat in recent years.
I was OBSESSED with basketball in my junior high/high school ye…

A Special Influence (Happy Birthday Tobe Hooper)

One of the greats of the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is a special influence for a lot of current and future filmmakers of the genre. His legacy has been set in stone, thanks to the classic 1974 slasher "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
The first film I saw of Mr. Hooper's was 1982's "Poltergeist," which was produced, written, (and some say co-directed by) Steven Spielberg. I was but a child so it definitely was a feat to see something so intense. And it certainly has a Spielbergian feel to it, which gave it a strange appeal. But a fantastic Hooper film that brought me as a kid more and more into the genre HORROR.
It would be later on that I would be introduced to his signature film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a nightmarish look at the deep, dark places of the country. Featured in this film is the movie monster Leatherface, a throwback to the old Universal Monsters. And a deserving entry at that.
It also features what I believe to be one of the grea…

Forever In Our Memory (Happy Birthday Sharon Tate)

Sharon Tate is unfulfilled potential, manifested by us into immortality.
She will forever be remembered for a heinous event. For an evil moment in time. Art always helps us cope through an unspeakable tragedy. And sometimes, after time heals and the events become hazier we honor them by keeping their memory alive.
What I love about Quentin Tarantino's latest film "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" (aside from the brilliant recreation of late 1960's Hollywood - widely recognized as films second 'Golden Age') is that Tate was given such treatment.
We get to watch as she rises to become a Hollywood starlet (through the magnificent performance of Margot Robbie) and we see her in happiness...and hope.
Oh, and that ending!
For those that haven't seen the film, let's just say it gives Tate the Hollywood ending she deserved.
My favorite quote from the great Stephen King is 'we make up horrors to cope with the real ones.' I've always felt this to be …

Poe Lives On...Forevermore

My first taste of the legendary literary master Edgar Allan Poe was from a 1970's Halloween record called "Famous Ghost Stories With Scary Sounds."
I'm very happy to hear that vinyl records are making a comeback in the digital age, but sadly I fear the era of Halloween records and CD's that contained stories and sound effects are now a thing of the past.
But those days were fun. And hearing this record I got to hear timeless classics like The Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" and Charles Dickens' "The Signal-Man." Incredible stories to light up a young kids imagination.
However the one story that captivated me and stayed with me all these years was Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."
It's hard, at least among my friends when I was younger, to tell at that age what a truly classic story was. Even these days I seem to be content with the content given to me. But I recognized …