Archives

All posts for the month September, 2013

Eerie Errors And The Mad Scientist

Published September 29, 2013 by vfdpixie

errorsofthehumanbody

Errors of the Human Body (2012 1 hr, 41 mins)

Genetic research has always been a fascinating topic, even if you are the general layperson like myself.  I loved high school biology class mainly due to my teacher, the wonderful Mr. Shimbos, but unless there was a sci-fi movie afoot, that was the extent of my science career.  Errors of the Human Body peaked my interest again with its intense, atmospheric and complicated sci-fi story.

Geoffrey Burton (Michael Eklund) is a well-known genetic researcher who is haunted by the death of his newborn son.  He has championed research on the rare disease that robbed him of his child, and travelled to Germany to continue that research after he was pushed out of the University of Massachusetts due to what seemed to be a conflict of ideologies.  In Germany, he is reunited with his intern and ex-lover Rebekka (Karoline Herfurth), and meets various odd scientists at the lab.  One of these scientists, Jarek (Tomas Lemarquis), has strong ideas and tries to gain Geoff’s assistance with his research, but is so odd that he puts off nearly everyone around him.  Add a rivalry between Rebekka and Jarek, plus some secret experimentations and you have a complex, if somewhat long, science fiction thriller that makes you wonder what will happen next.

I loved Michael Eklund as Geoffrey.  He really harnessed how disconnected this character was after the death of his son and end of his marriage.  You had a sense that Geoff couldn’t move past these traumas and could only stay connected by calling his ex-wife who was trying to move on with her life.  Eklund really impressed me with his performance in The Divide as the crazed Bobby, and shows his incredible range as a tortured soul here.  And yes, he’s Canadian (yay!).  Tomas Lemarquis also stood out for me.  His portrayal as the awkward but diabolical scientist Jarek made you want to run from him one minute, and hear him out the next.  I must also note that Lemarquis has had Alopecia universalis since he was 13, an autoimmune disorder that makes all your hair fall out.  I too suffered from this disorder when I was the same age.  My hair grew back, but even so, I am never truly free of it, and I applaud him for doing his thing despite not looking like the status quo.  The real star, however, was the lab mouse.  It managed to survive being stolen, kept in a can and minor injury to make it to some of the final scenes.  Good on ya, mousey!

Eron Sheean, co-writer and director of the film (who also co-wrote The Divide), did a good job, but I found the film to be a bit on the long side.  He did manage create an isolation that I felt mirrored what the main character was going through, especially with the dream-like flashbacks. The cinematography by Anna Howard was also quite stunning.  It reflected the clinical nature of the story with starkness and clean lines.  There were some cool scenes of mitosis throughout the film, and the haunting soundtrack by Anthony Pateras kept the suspenseful tone consistent.

If you’re a fan of Michael Eklund and like science, check this movie out.  It’s dark and has a heartbreaking twist that will get you where it hurts.

Favourite Scene:  At a costume party thrown for all the crazy scientists.  Jarek’s lab partner is dressed in drag, beard and all, and gives Geoffrey a withering look.  Not quite as effective when he is wearing a dress and red lips.  And Geoffrey?  Have to say he looked kind of hot in the dead head makeup…yeah, I know, don’t ask…

DeadheadEklund

See? There`s something about a dude in dead head makeup…

Face Off Season 5 Episode 7: “Living Art”

Published September 29, 2013 by vfdpixie

This episode started with Scott feeling his age.  I have to say that this is one of the few shows where ages doesn’t really matter.  At 52, he is holding his own against the younger competitors.

For this week’s Foundation Challenge, the group got a fantastic surprise.  They had to reinvent an iconic character.  Which one, you may ask?  The one and only Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who was also their guest judge!  She looked as voluptuous and gore-gous as ever, and just being in her presence made them eager to create their own Mistress of the Dark.  Elvira’s advice to them was to create a hip, young, cool and edgy look of her style.  The artists also got a professional hairstylist to help create the over-the-top look.  Oh yes, and the prize was not only immunity, but a sweet makeup kit from Kryolan, the sponsors of the grand prize for the competition.  I love their product.  When I was a makeup artist, it was my go-to brand when I couldn’t find what I needed because they always had incredible colour ranges and palettes!

The top looks for me were Miranda and Tate.  Miranda created a beautiful gothic looking creature, or as Elvira put it, “Elvira meets Metropolis”.  And Tate created a character called “Nurse Cutter”.  She had a nightmarish, doll-like nurse look that Elvira loved because it still had an element of humour to it.  The winner ended up being Roy once again.  She loved his take on Elmira, her bat inspired cousin, and the spooky, sexy and humorous look he created.

On to the Spotlight Challenge, where their artistic talents were really put to the test.  They met resident judge Neville Page and McKenzie at the Pacific Design Centre where they had to choose from 5 different art movements in order to create a character that could live within the art:  Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism, Pop Art, and Constructivism.  This was a great challenge, and close to my heart.  My father was an artist and I would spend hours as a kid looking at all his art reference books while he painted.  He was a huge fan of Impressionism, his favourites being Renoir and Monet, but definitely had a love for Cubism and Expressionism as well.

Alana and Frank picked Constructivism.  Alana really didn’t grasp her choice, and struggled until Mr. Westmore did his walk through.  Her look was interesting, and the judges thought so too, which kept her safe from elimination.  I really loved Frank’s contribution.  His art piece was a man holding an iron beam.  It was colourful, graphic and the judges loved the forced perspective.  It got him a ticket to next week.

Laney chose Pop Art.  How fitting, as I always think of her as the cute anime girl.  She created a living piece of social media’s effect on women and the judges loved how she represented the art movement concisely despite them questioning the execution, and there being too much red concentrated on the face.

Tate and Scott went with Surrealism.  Their looks got them a spot in the bottom three.  Tate had a terrible accident.  His gigantic, heavy mold fell on and cut his hand, which required him to be rushed to emergency so he could get stitches.  What was really impressive was when the other artists came together to help clean out his mold and start a layer of latex for him while he was away.  He would have done the same for anyone else.  What a great bunch of people!  His look ended up having too much going on with a crumbling fortress and a sprite in it.  The judges thought it looked like a costume and wasn’t very surreal even though they liked it in general.   Scott created a personal character representing his alcoholic father.  Unfortunately, it missed the mark for the judges as the volcanic head-piece representing his temper ended up looking like a tree trunk.  They felt he struggled to put his ideas together, and the makeup lacked attractiveness, simplicity and softness.  I thought it was a tad confusing myself, but admired his attempt.

Miranda and Laura both went with Cubism.  Both did exceptionally well, but Miranda had little confidence in her work, despite the judges glowing review of her sorrowful guitar playing woman.  Aside from her forgetting to address the arms of her model, they loved it and thought she made ugly look beautiful.  Laura really showed her artist’s skills this time around.  She thought artfully about this project, and created a man in a top hat.  The judges fell in love with it and raved about the construction and “immaculate paint job”.

Eddie went for Expressionism, using Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” as inspiration.  He got the feel of the movement, but despite Mr. Westmore’s warnings, the paint job ended up being too red, and the judges didn’t like some of the shapes of the makeup and  felt it was too mask-like.

Finally, Roy also went with Surrealism.  He created a person being squeezed by the pressure of the world and their head exploding.  Sounds weird, but it actually looked really good, and the judges like the construction of his design.

Eddie, Tate and Scott were in the bottom looks, and Miranda, Laura, and Laney made it to the top.  Laura won this challenge with her artistic ability.  I’m glad she won, since she is really blowing the judges away with her talent.  Unfortunately, Scott had to leave the show.  He felt ok about it, and was glad to be a part of the show since he came away with so many good friends.  He has some great skills and I think this experience will help him refine them.  Onwards and upwards Scott!

The ABCs of Death: No Use For P’s and Q’s Here!

Published September 25, 2013 by vfdpixie

abcsofdeath__small

The ABCs of Death  (2012, 2 hrs, 3 mins)

I watched a documentary last year, “A Night At The Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King” on TCM, where legendary horror author Stephen King gave his amazing insight on how horror influenced him.  In one segment, he talked about how most gratuitous violence has its place in horror movies, but more often than not, violence is thrown in just for the sake of it, like gore porn.  I have to agree.  As a horror fan, my code is to appreciate a kill for the scare factor, be it from a creature, killer or hero.  Once it goes past this, it becomes a repetitive splatterfest and well literally, overkill.

I’d like to think that I can sit through virtually any horror movie.   There are a couple, however, that I flat-out refused to finish watching because they were violent for violence sake.  Some modern films push the envelope so much that they sometimes confuse outright offense with a good old-fashioned scare.  And as an animal lover, I am especially irked when the family pet becomes a casualty because it is trying to warn its loved ones of some impending doom, or they are just killed for sadistic pleasure.  Along with that is any kind of exploitation of kids (unless they are demon spawn).  So I approached this review of The ABCs of Death with a bit of trepidation as I sifted through a barrage of 26 shorts by 26 international directors, each based on a letter of the alphabet illustrating some gruesome form of death; most crushing my last horror nerve.

SPOILER ALERT!  I don’t usually give anything away if I can, but if you want to try your hand at guessing what each segment represents (the title is revealed at the end of each one), read no further as I am about to reveal what some letters stand for!

It was definitely a crazy ride for sure.  My senses were assaulted with gory imagery from 26 different perspectives, all with some unique and terrible deaths.  Some segments I could have done without, like “L is for Libido”.  The mixture of sex and violence was pretty excessive, even for this non-prudish pixie.  “I is for Ingrown” had a poignant anti-domestic violence message that I found hard to watch.  “P is for Pressure” and “D is for Dogfight” were especially offensive if you love animals.  Others, like “F is for Fart” and “Q is for Quack” were respectively, gross bathroom humour and just kind of dumb.  There were also a couple of animated contributions. The deceivingly cutesy “K is for Klutz”, about a woman’s battle with a persistent turd, and the claymation “T is for Toilet” illustrating a boy’s fear of his toilet (which actually won as the best of the bunch).

The standouts?  Xavier Gens’ (director of The Divide, and Frontière(s))” X is for XXL”, a beautifully gruesome story of an overweight woman’s obsession with being thin.  There was no way the viewer could predict the incredible outcome of this short.  The “O is for Orgasm” segment directed by Hélène Cattet, was so artfully shot with shadow and starkness that I had an “oh that’s what it was!” moment.  I also liked the comedic “N is for Nuptuals” by Banjong Pisanthanakun (who also directed the 2004 film Shutter), and the bizarre “R is for Removed” by Srdjan Spasojevic.  The trippy “W is for WTF?” by Jon Schnepp who also directed the cartoon series Metalcalypse was pretty ridiculous.  I have to admit the cartoon that started this short put me off a bit, but it descended into hilarious absurdity which reminded me of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!  Finally, I was completely horrified by the aforementioned “D is for Dogfight” directed by Marcel Sarmiento.  It’s the story of a man and his dog, but not what you might expect.  The violence against an animal was almost unbearable, especially with the sweet face of Buddy, the star of the short, but this dog would have his day.  What kept me watching was the choreographed slow motioned fight scenes that kept the sense of violence, but left the animal actor unharmed.  I  shouldn’t be surprised, since Sarmiento also directed the 2008 film Deadgirl which was equally as disturbing.  If you’ve seen it and you’re woman, you’ll understand.

This horror anthology will certainly make your jaw drop and physically cringe.  Leave your manners and decorum at the door, because The ABCs of Death will slap you silly with sex and violence, and smother you with its nightmarish patch work quilt of death.

Check out the official website:  http://drafthousefilms.com/film/the-abcs-of-death for more twisted shorts that didn’t make the movie, but had honourable mentions.

The House of Haunt Exclusive, In-depth Interview: Part 2-The Show

Published September 22, 2013 by vfdpixie

 misfits-house of haunt            

Part 2:  The Show

When asked what their favourite venue has been, the macabre musicians had quite the list.  Toronto bars like The Bovine Sex Club with The Greasemarks, The Hardluck-a venue where Skull noted that “(the) great sound and pentagram on the stage…really brings that evil up”, The Cadillac Lounge, and Call the Office located in London, Ontario all made the cut.  The one place they both agreed on was The Silver Dollar, a 113 year old historic venue in Toronto.  Fitting, since these guys have been around longer than most mortals.  “I think (it’s) the best venue we’ve played- and it’s gotta be because it was 3 days before Halloween,” Fang remembered.  “It just felt right, it felt at home there.  They had the best lighting.”  Skull also pointed out a great fact.  ”The Silver Dollar was really nice just because we got to…play the same stage that a lot of legends played…they have them all over the wall, (pictures of) famous blues musicians.  Unfortunately I’ve heard that they might be converting that area to condos or something.  I’m really, really bummed out about (it). I don’t know if that’s true.  If that is true, I suggest everyone go down there and see as many shows as you can at the Silver Dollar.”  (There is a proposal to create student rental units above the Silver Dollar, and keep the venue on the main level, but apparently that will take a long time to sort out.)

“What we’re really looking forward to is…opening for the legendary Misfits at the Phoenix (Concert Theatre in Toronto on October 4th)”, Skull announced.

Fang puffed dust from his bandages with evil glee and shouted, “Fucking one of the biggest goddamn venues in Toronto and we’re there!”  It’s at this precise moment that their enthusiasm made the ground rumble and our table shake.  This is obviously a big deal for the ghastly group.  When I asked them how on earth they got the gig, their luck was clearly not of this world.  Silly me!

“You gotta have the daughter of the Devil in your band.  Sorry to the other bands, but they’re not connected like we are. That’s just the end of it,”  Skull declared with conviction.  “Yeah, the Devil knows everyone in the music industry and his band down there is fantastic. He’s got some great musicians who have passed that are down there.”

Fang was quick to confirm this. “Absolutely, he’s got ‘em all.  Make a deal with the Devil man. Then you can play anywhere you want!”

“If you’re worried about going to Hell”, Skull affirmed, “Don’t worry, Hell has an awesome band, you’ll love it.” Wow.  Good to know, just in case I’ve got more naughties than nice on my list at the end of the road.  Which is highly likely.

I can tell by how animated this deadly duo is that they were positively stoked about this show.  “Yeah, the Misfits show-we’re really, really excited about it!” said Skull as a spark or two flew off of his bolts.  I asked him if they had a similar fan base as the Misfits.  “I guess I can see a lot of Misfits fans liking us,” he replied, which lead me to wonder who exactly The House of Haunt’s fan base is.  Anyone who’s into pyschobilly?  Fang tackled this question.  “It’s anyone who loves bloody horror movies and good music.  I mean even somebody like my ancient mother finds something in our music to like because it does tell a story right, so there is something in there for everyone.  It’s good story telling. And the music is jumpy enough to get a lot of people on board but complicated enough to satisfy even really technical musicians.”

In terms of their similarities and musical style to the Misfits, the guys had some interesting stuff to say.

“Like you go through the Misfits discography, at least the Misfits in the 90’s,” Fang continued, “and I’m sure in the Danzig era, and every single one (song) is (based on) a movie and that’s like pretty damn close to us.  Even though we don’t share a completely similar musical sound it’s there, absolutely.”

“I think that our music is not quite as punky ,” Skull said. “The Misfits…are… almost (at) the forefront, I don’t wanna say the godfathers of psychobilly, (but) they’re a huge branch, the base of the tree almost.”

“They’re at least the modern fathers of psychobilly.  They were originally your underground hardcore punk stuff, but if anything they’re turning closer to metal,” Fang added.

Skull talked about the House of Haunt’s versatility as a band.  “The good thing we have found about pyschobilly is it kind of has a wide spectrum. We’ve played with country music bands like Doghouse Rose, we’ve played with horrorbilly bands like the Matadors.  Black Cat Attacks is another fabulous band. They’ve been very kind to us as far as (us being) monsters. As mere humans, they are really, really cool.”

Fang agreed and added another name to the list.  ”The Namedroppers, they are a really good band.  They’ve turned towards a little more punk rock folk.  We play with punks, we play with country, we play with rock, we play with…with just anything! There’s a taste of it all right there with pyschobilly and it appeals to the working class, the people who are more likely to actually go to a show that costs 10 bucks.  They’re not the cheapskates, they have a little money, they don’t have lots of money but we’re not big enough to require lots of money just yet.”

Skull snickered. “And again being that the Red Duke is so cheap, we can get lots of gigs, it gives us wide berth of musical ranges that we can get to. Almost any bar will let a pyschobilly band play. Except for the one place that has denied us, but little does he know that the Red Duke has cursed him and his family.” They both laughed maniacally for a moment as Skull described a particularly unpleasant torture involving spikes through heads, “ghost peppers” and hot sauce in a not so nice area.  After a breath, the guys got back to business.  “It will be interesting to see when we do open for them (The Misfits) the reception that we get,” Skull said.

Fang went further with that thought.  “Yeah, we’re taking very special steps to make sure that this is a particularly great show.   We’re gonna hire additional staff and you need to be there cause you’ll go and you’ll see the Misfits and the Misfits will be great just like they always are, but there’s going to be 4 opening bands and they are all just going to be guys in ripped jeans or whatever they wear, playing their music and us, The House of Haunt, that put on a world class show just being an opening band. That’s who you’ll remember. We’re the surprise.”

Indeed!  I don’t think anyone will expect a mummy, a man made of dead men’s body parts, a voodoo priest and the Devil’s daughter to show up and jam like they are from another century!  This is a show not to be missed!!

The guys gave their final thoughts on who they are and what they represent.  “I think it’s nice that we’re a band that doesn’t particularly have any negative messages in it,” Fang said.  “To me punk, I know pyschobilly is not punk, but punk has always been about going against the norm, like being true to yourself against the norm,…and I think today punk has become so anti-authoritative and anti-regular that in essence they lost what punk was really about, they’ve set themselves up.  I think with us we’re not following any particular cookie cutter. We’re doing what we want to, and expressing it the way we want to, so we don’t talk about living your life in any particularly good or bad manner.  I think it’s important that all acts keep in mind their responsibility to the general public to be at (the very) least not bad.  If you go on stage and go ‘who’s smoking a joint right now?!’  you get a huge response.  You’re actually alienating the people who don’t (smoke).  So it’s smart just not to mention that (and) keep it about the music and the good times.”

“They want that rebel feel…but are you really going to live your life that way?…That’s where monsters come in.  It’s so absurd.  We can eat a baby on stage as a monster, but we’re not telling everyone to go eat a baby,” Skull finished.   Although Skull really likes them with fried chives and butter.  The guys stressed that there isn’t any strong political message, in fact, for them, it’s all about the show, the music, and of course, the monsters.  As Fang put it, ”We’re not psychobilly, we’re monsterbilly!  Put that down!  We’re monsterbilly!”  With that ancient enthusiasm and insight, it’s hard not to like The House of Haunt.  Haven’t checked them out yet?  Where have you been?!  Here are some upcoming dates, and be sure to get your tickets to the Misfits show on October 4th, 2013.  Or else they will find you…trust me on this…

The House of Haunt show listings:

Friday, October 4th THE HOUSE OF HAUNT TORONTO with THE MISFITS-Phoenix Concert Theatre.  TICKETS ON SALE FROM THE BAND! Go to http://www.thehouseofhaunt.com or email thehouseofhaunt@gmail.com

Saturday, October 26th at the Backstage Bar and Grill, Stratford ON

And check out this link for future dates!

http://www.reverbnation.com/thehouseofhaunt

View From the Dark

Reviews and essays on genre film from a WOC perspective

Academic Hoodoo

a research blog on Africana Religions

Eden Royce

Writer of Southern Gothic speculative fiction

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge

timwburke

burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

crazynonsensetalk

A ranting woman's mind

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.