I have a strong dislike for reality television shows in general. It is very rare for me to find a reality series that I actually can get into. However, the SyFy Channel had my number with its Face Off TV series. The show pits FX makeup artists against each other in competitions that showcase their talents. I can't get excited about singing or dancing competitions, but show me a group of people trying to beat the clock to create foam or silicon appliances to make actors look like monsters and apparently I'm on the edge of my seat. It's rejuvenated my interest in makeup FX. The show reminds me of reading about young up-and-coming FX artists like Steve Johnson, Screaming Mad George and Greg Nicotero in the pages of Fangoria magazine back in the 1980s when I was a teenager with dreams of one day becoming the next Tom Savini (I wound up going a different route, but have still dabbled with doing makeup for the occasional film short or micro-budget production).
One of my favorite artists featured on SyFy's Face Off is Tom Devlin from 1313FX. Unfortunately, he was eliminated from the show this week in a move that seemed more motivated by reality show politics than by judgment of talent. Fortunately, Devlin was shrewd enough to create and star in his own reality series American Nightmare which he premiered on YouTube the very next night following his elimination on Face Off. While Face Off follows an American Idol-type model as a reality show approach to makeup FX artistry, American Nightmare is closer in spirit to shows like Pawn Stars or LA Ink. Devlin's new series chronicles the exploits of him and his team at the 1313FX studio in Alhambra, California.
The first episode, Meet the Family, introduces viewers to the people who work for Devlin in the 1313FX shop: Cary, a former member of the rock band Pretty Boy Floyd; Andrea, who I can forsee more than a few horror fans developing crushes over her subdued makeup-geek charm; and Roger, Tom's dad who has taken enough of an interest in what his son does to come work for him. The opening credits also feature a woman named Jaime, but the show has yet to properly introduce her. After the initial introductions, the first episode focuses on the father/son work relationship between Roger and Tom. Roger seems to be something of a fish-out-of-water in dealing with his new work environment as he scratch-builds a machine to make vacuform molds. There is some tension within this son-as-employer dynamic, but it is easy to pick up on the pride Roger has in his son's accomplishments and feels for himself when the machine finally works as intended. The other thing that comes across strongly in the first episode is the satisfaction the 1313FX crew finds in their work. When many folks out there find themselves working jobs primarily to earn a paycheck, it can be inspiring to see a workplace in which the employees truly enjoy what they are doing for a living.
At less than 9 minutes in length, the show could easily be expanded into a full-length reality series for television with more of an in-depth explanation of the devices being used. It caused me to look up how-to guides for building vacuform machines online. I can see American Nightmare generating interest in the art of makeup FX among a new crop of fans.
[Edit: The first episode of American Nightmare is no longer available to the public on YouTube. Let's hope this is for a happy reason, such as the show getting a television deal. The promo for American Nightmare is still online and is now what is embedded below.>
On January 14, Ohio television personality Barry Hobart passed away at the age of 68. Hobart served as the host of channel WKEF's Shock Theatre (also called Science Shock Theatre and Saturday Night Dead at various points during its run) from 1972 through 1985 under the name "Dr. Creep." If you were a kid growing up (or just a fan of horror movies) in the Dayton, Ohio area during the '70s or early '80s, you are likely to have heard Dr. Creep's signature "Hoo Ha Ha Ha Ha!" laugh as he hosted whatever horror movie was being featured that week. Dr. Creep was also a regular on WKEF's children's show Clubhouse 22.
Shock Theatre intro from the late '70s:
Hobart's show was resurrected in 1999 as The New Shock Theatre and aired on Ohio Public Access Television until 2005. It was during this time that I met Dr. Creep at a horror convention (hosted by another Ohio horror host A. Ghastlee Ghoul) in Ohio in 2004. He and his manager Rick Martin introduced themselves to me following the presentation of my short Lovecraftian martial arts comedy film Enter the Dagon. We hit it off and I spent a good deal of time at the Shock Theatre table, discussing horror history with them. When I left to head back home to New York, I had a DVD of The Best of Shock Theatre in my luggage. I am watching it as I write this and enjoying the silly antics of Hobart and his co-stars (some of which were puppets). It makes me wish there had been a host for the horror and sci-fi movies I watched in the Rochester, NY area as a kid during that era.
A variety of clips from the first decade of Shock Theatre:
I was pleased to read that despite his failing health and limited mobility, Dr. Creep was able to attend the HorrorHound Weekend convention this past November as the guest of honor. A classy move on the part of the convention. Hobart is remembered also as a mentor to a younger generation of horror hosts and the co-founder of the Project Smiles charity. Project Smiles, which collects toys for Dayton area children in need during the Christmas season continues to this day.
I recently watched the horror film Strange Behavior (1981) for the first time. Early in the film was a party scene that caught my attention initially because one of the characters was sporting a tuxedo-print tee shirt (I think there must have been an entire costume department dedicated to the tuxedo-print T-shirt in the 1980s). The bizarre choreographed dance party scene that followed really added a surreal touch to the film and got me thinking about moments of dancing in the horror films of 80s. I'm curious as to if any other decade had as much boogying in its horror cinema as the 80s did. Somehow, I doubt it.
After looking through my DVD collection and on YouTube for examples of dance in 80s horror films I began compiling a list. As I did this I couldn't help but compare the moments, creating a horror dance competition. I also broke the competitors into three categories, group dance (3 or more dancers), pairs and solo performance. I did include a few horror-themed comedies because the list just wouldn't have felt right without them. So, without further ado, I present Dancing With the Scars!
Runner-up: Teen Wolf (1985)
Hey, another movie featuring a tuxedo-print tee shirt! Let's see, silly dance, cheesy music complete with robot voice, popular kids scowling at the hero as he dances and at least one guy dancing with hat, red bowtie and slim sunglasses... yup it's an 80s film alright! Gnarly, Dude!
Runner-up: The Howling III: The Marsupial Werewolves (1987)
Another dancing werewolf! I'm not much on ballet, but the end of this dance number is awesome. I love the face the guy makes just before getting his head bit off. This scene would have place higher on the list had it involved roller disco instead.
Runner-up: Once Bitten (1985)
I watched this movie far more than I should have as a teen. The entire plot of the movie can be summed up in this dance scene. I wish I could dance like Jim Carrey.
Third Place: Strange Behavior (1981)
This party scene has an unsettling staged-feel before the dancing even starts. It feels as though the characters haven't entered a costume party but rather a trap disguised as a costume party. That sensation worsens once the dancing starts. It appears as though teens at the party have spent at least one prior evening choreographing an awkward dance to perform together. This clip scores extra points for the girl wearing that creepy buck-toothed Pippi Longstocking mask and the dude dressed like Hoss from Bonanza even though he doesn't dance (he just vomits in a sink).
Second Place: Near Dark (1987)
This is really just a series of dances, two solos and a pairs dance, but I couldn't separate them. The whole moment has a choreographed feel from the moment the vampires enter the bar. Their entrance is timed so perfectly with the music beginning, you'd swear Jesse made the others wait with him just outside the door until his vampire hearing picked up the sound of the jukebox about to play just the right song. Dancing-wise we have Severen's spinning chicken dance accompanied with wolf-howl, followed by a tender dance between Mae and an unlucky bastard who just can't allow himself to enjoy (I'd jump out the window if I was offered to Adrian Pasdar too, even if he wasn't a vampire), lastly the bar scene finishes with Homer's swaying little dance upon the bar as the joint burns down (sadly not featured in this clip).
Winner: Night Train to Terror (1985)
It took the transformation and combination of three other failed horror films to create this Voltron of crap. Night Train to Terror is literally sewn together from the corpses of other grody films and the stitches used to hold the pieces together are scenes of god and the devil talking interspersed with this music number being performed on a train. The same song is repeated over and over like a music video from hell, when the train finally crashes it is relief and not horror that is felt. To make it even worse, the song taunts the audience for watching the film, "Everybody's got something to do! Everybody but you!"
Third Place: Prom Night (1980)
I love 80s movies that feature gum-chewing jocks who look like they just smelled something bad. Oh, it even has the characters dancing to a song with the title of the movie in the chorus... and there's another tuxedo-print t-shirt! Totally excellent! It's amazing how this high school was able to provide their students with the set from Saturday Night Fever to dance upon in the gymnasium. That damn chorus lingers with you long after. "Prom night! Everything is alright!" DIG IT OUT OF MY BRAIN!
Second Place: Night of the Comet (1984)
Two sisters dancing around in a shopping mall in a montage set to Cyndi Lauper's Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun! Eightiesgasm! I bet this scene had George Romero slapping his head and wishing he'd condensed the entire second act of Dawn of the Dead into this montage.
Winner: Fright Night (1984)
I'm straight, but it's definitely Chris Sarandon who is making this dance scene sexy and not Amanda Bearse. He could have been seducing an aging Roddy McDowall out on that dance floor and the scene still would have been sexually charged. Hell, the vampire's seduction of Evil Ed in the alleyway isn't far off.
Runner-up: Ghoulies (1985)
Oh, it's 80s crazy sunglasses bestfriend-guy again! What a wonderful stock character he was! In this scene, he has a seizure and the crowd cheers. Nobody tries to stop him from biting his tongue off. They only show concern when all the tic-tacs fall out of his shirt pockets.
Runner-up: Cat's Eye (1985)
I need a room like this in my next house. Sure, I'd love to hear all about the vacuum/encyclopedia/religion that you are selling. Just wait in this room here and I'll be right back. Oh, never mind that grate on the floor and please take off your shoes...
Runner-up: Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985)
What the hell is up with the character Violet in this film? She's some sort of New Wave goth-type and yet she is robot dancing. It is perhaps the most angsty robot dance I've ever scene. She looks so intent doing it. Unfortunately for her, Jason's temporary scab replacement does not like robot dancing.
Runner-up: Night of the Demons (1988)
This is closer to how a goth girl dances, though she's usually shaped more like the girl from the last clip. Oh, there's a guy with a mullet in this scene!
Third Place: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
While Chris Sarandon made me a little bit gay with his dance in Fright Night, Mark Patton's dance sends me screaming back to being straight. Oh man! Dig those sunglasses though! What teen boy hasn't been caught by his mom and girlfriend dancing with a tiny baseball bat in front of his crotch? Here New Line has a horror franchise that was being embraced by metal fans and for the second film they gave us a hero dancing to some sort of Debbie Gibson clone. Bogus, Man!
Second place: Return of the Living Dead (1984)
I didn't have porn as a teen. I had this moment from Return of the Living Dead instead. To this day I have a thing for punk girls with unnatural red hair (even though Linnea Quigley was clearly wearing a fake-looking wig). Thanks to the use of a flesh-colored crotch patch to cover Linnea's nethers, anyone can convert a Barbie doll into a Trash doll and have it still be anatomically correct. Warning: Not safe for work.
Winner: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Even though he is technically dancing with someone, Crispin Glover wins in the solo category. His dance is so totally tubular that the girl he's dancing with just disappears. His awesomeness becomes a spotlight. I think there should be an Internet campaign to get Crispin a contestant spot on Dancing with the Stars.
Thank you for reading the blog. Apparently everybody has something to do... everybody but yooooooouuuuuu!
This entry was edited on December 10, 2010, 2:02 am.
Looking for the perfect gift for the Evil Dead fan in your life? I thought I'd share some of the items I came across recently while looking for a new Evil Dead shirt (my favorite Evil Dead shirt is now 10-years-old and in need of retirement). Here are some of my favorite Evil Dead merchandise I came across in the search.
Fright Rags recently released this new bloody Ash design (It's not too often I see designs where Ash still has both of his hands). Ash looks like he just chainsawed his way out of your belly button on his way to kick some demon ass. As an owner of a few Fright Rags shirts, I can vouch for the quality of their T-shirts. I've become a big fan of their products in the past few years.
This shirt from Rotten Cotton celebrates the 2010 theatrical rerelease of Evil Dead through Grindhouse Releasing. This is another company whose product I can vouch for. I have a Meet the Feebles shirt designed by Rotten Cotton that is more than a decade old and it still looks almost new despite many years of wear and tear.
Alright, this one is actually from My Name is Bruce and not the Evil Dead films, but how many Evil Dead fans can pass up a 12-inch Bruce Campbell doll in a Hawaiian shirt? I'm tempted to get one for my daughter so Ken will have a rival for Barbie's affections. How can Ken compete with that chin?
Evil Ash is such a bad Ash! Now you can be too! Alright, that was cheesy. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. This photo shows the Evil Ash mask from and Evil Ash costume (sold separately). There is also a Good Ash costume in case you and your spouse/significant-other are into recreating Army of Darkness Slash Fiction.
This past spring I finally caught a local performance of Evil Dead: The Musical after years of hearing friends rave about the play. It was a riot! The song Cabin in the Woods is still stuck in my head months later. Surprising the Evil Dead fan in your life with tickets to this show would make a great gift. You can check for upcoming performances of Evil Dead: The Musicalnear you through the musical's official Web site. If that isn't possible, the soundtrack is available on CD and as an MP3 download. The script and sheet music is also available.
This entry was edited on December 2, 2010, 8:28 pm.
Road of the Dead is a free on-line flash game made by EvilDog and SickDeathFiend. The games places its players in the driver's seat of a sports car in a city that is being overrun by zombies. The player is trying to make it out of the city alive, the only problem (besides the hordes of undead) is that the military has placed the city under quarantine and don't want anyone getting out. In particular they seem determined (obsessed even) with stopping the driver of the sports car.
The game is surprisingly fun and addictive despite the limitedness of it being a flash game. The road being traveled upon is completely straight with no curves to go around (though you have plenty to dodge around) and there are a limited number of zombie animations so you seem to be running over the same three zombies over and over again (though this same thing happens in a number of zombie games you pay to play). The basic thrills of zipping through a zombie-infested city in a sports car and added little details make Road of the Dead fun.
My favorite small details are the windshield wipers and car horn. It adds that little bit of realism (and ridiculousness) when a player has to use the windshield wipers to remove blood from the windshield or blast the horn to warn pedestrians to get the heck out of the way as the car speeds along. The game also features a CB radio that allows you to hear what the military is up to during all the chaos. It adds to the atmosphere of the game greatly, along with the sounds of emergency vehicles and the screams of the frightened civilians. The game's soundtrack was provided by Symphony of Specters, a musical team that has also provided music for a number of other games. It is also a nice nod to George Romero that the first two levels are called Evans City and Monroeville (filming locations for Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead respectively).
The game has action movie logic and physics, the hero (and I use that term loosely based on the fact that he doesn't even try to save any civilians along the way) and his car are incredibly tough and can keep on driving after having crashed head-on into multiple vehicles and being shot up by soldiers and helicopters. He's like John McClane from the Die Hard films, he ain't got time to die and when he does, he just comes back for more. Just check your brain at the door and don't question things like why is the military running around the city when they apparently have no interest in saving anyone in it? Just ignore the zombie behind the curtain and hit the gas pedal.
The game allows the player to upgrade the driver and his vehicle, making them even harder to kill, faster, increasing maneuverability and adding other items (such as a louder horn). The player earns Road Points (RP) by running down enemies (both zombies and soldiers) with the car and loses RP by killing the civilians who run randomly about in confused panic. The player can spend the RP to upgrade after aborting a mission or dying. It begins to feel a bit like the movie Groundhog's Day as you basically have to purposely damage your car and go on suicide missions to earn the points needed to upgrade enough to progress to the next level of the game.
As of yet, I have not completed the basic game (The Great Escape). Road of the Dead also offers harder versions titled Highway to Hell, Police State and Dead on Time. The latter game calls to mind the movie Speed, only you have to keep running down zombies in order to keep a clock from running out, blowing up your vehicle.
-Use the handbrake. It increases your maneuverability greatly if you master using it during steep turns.
-Blast the horn a lot. You'll run down less civilians and more zombies that way.
-Zombies that are walking are worth points. The ones that are feeding don't seem to be worth any points.
-Use over-hanging road signs to take out the helicopter.
-Don't punch out the windshield unless you are really having trouble seeing through it due to cracks. Even with limited visibility, it is still helping to deflect bullets.
-You score more points for hitting an enemy straight on with your car, but they are going to obscure your vision with the blood and gore they'll spread across your windshield.