(Male, 40′s) I’m writing this down for you in the middle of the night because I will be DAMNED if I’m going back to sleep. I woke up very rattled and I was afraid even to get out of bed at first.
It was a really classy, arty dream, like everything was significant. I was waiting in line for a favorite restaurant in some city that felt both familiar and comfortable. When I finally was able to get a seat, the prices had all been raised due to an art show that was next door. I decided to boycott the meal so I went to the basement.
My old therapist was there and she had a bag full of pamphlets that belonged to her dad. Evidently he was a harshly fundamentalist preacher, based on the contents of the bag. I felt curious about her personal history but I also felt guilty, naughty, dirty. I felt great compassion oddly for her father whom she seemed to hate.
I strayed into another part of the building which was the art installation in question. Instead of one big room, the pieces were shown in these small, claustrophobia-inducing rooms all linked to each other. The art works were immense papier-macheé sculptures. They were familiar objects all bizarre and wrong. One was an apple that was at least five feet in diameter. It was painted a gory hue of red, more the color of entrails than fruit. On top, there were hateful words scrawled in black letters a foot tall. Vicious graphitti.
And there were zombies that jumped out from around corners. Or some kind of undead. Maybe they were performers… in fact, I seemed to recognize them in the dream, as being members of a death metal band. In the dream, the name of the band was “Zombie Ferox” — which I think is the name of a horror movies, right? The zombie performer was all in black and white, strips of bandages for clothing, frizzy hair, thick gray lips and sunken black eyes. I think it was female. I told her that I enjoyed her music. She — it?– smiled but continued “performning” this bizarre dance that was half attack, half modern art. She kept physically assaulting me then pulling away. It was easy to keep pushing her away but there was something deeply sinister about how she was toying with me.
Then another “zombie” arrived. This one was clearly female, lithe, slender with flowing blondish hair and pale ashy complexion. Again she was both undead and a performer, very clearly a dancer… which made the other zombie feel more like an actor, maybe a martial artist. The second zombie wore a thin grey dress that went down mid thigh. It was wispy like funeral veil and which was the same pale grey as her skin tone. The effect was as if the dress was sheer, that the dancer zombie was naked but not in an entirely sexy way. She would have been rather hot… if she wasn’t weird and undead. This second zombie got a small pitcher of milk from the fridge and also a small vial of vinegar and she made curdled milk. She used it like perfume. She smelled like rancid milk. Like the first zombie, her actions were very physical and very threatening to me but I was able to keep pushing away her advances.
We were then, all three of us, in the house where I grew up. It was night, I don’t know how late. I grabbed the second zombie around the chest and dragged her outside. I can remember how she felt, her flesh so soft and tender. I said something like, “Let’s see how scary you are outside.” I had the sense that I was trying to rupture the frame, that these undead things were only acting — which is not to say they wouldn’t have killed me, they were quite physical in their attacks — and that I could radically change their behavior if I changed the frame of reference.
Outside on the street, there was a small group of young men, wearing black t-shirts with a crudely painted symbol on the chest and back. It glowed lightly in white paint. They were up to no good. The zombie ceased harrassing me and started to drift away down the street. She attracted the attention of the gang who started to follow her. I had no doubt whatsoever that she would be able to rip them apart effortlessly if they attacked her. But they kept coming, these youth. The first in the group were late teens but by the end of the crowd — maybe three dozen in total — they were much younger, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.
They were up to no good, as I said. If it matters, they were all white suburban kids, their boredom made them monsters. I knew they would murder me just to have something to do. I felt a cold, brutal fear, unlike the weird supernatural fear I’d had of the undead performers. These gang members could only kill my body; the zombies wanted my soul… or something even deeper and more comprehensive. There were too many of these punks to fight, though I felt reasonably sure I could hold my own against these younger thugs. I laid down in the flower bed, kept my face down, didn’t move. The thugs milled about, very close to me. If I hadn’t been in a flowerbed, I bet they would have tripped over me.
Then the first zombie seems to have started to lure them into the house. One by one they climbed in through the window until they were all gone, every last one of them.
I was on the roof at this point and the roof was covered in beer barrels, the stainless steel kind. The window led right up to an automated dishwashing machine. I started feeding these barrels onto a conveyor belt into this dishwasher, stuffing them in one after another. I eventually cleaned up the whole roof, thinking to myself “I don’t know which one will kill me first, the Nazis or the Undead but dammit, at least I’ll clean up this mess before I go.” which seems an oddly industrious sentiment for a nightmare.
I awoke as I pushed the last barrel through the window.
Three Corpse Circus took over the historic Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI last night, Devil’s Night and presented four hours of short horror movies. Yup, four whole hours of films, contests and costumed tomfoolery. If you weren’t there, you done goofed up bad. I spoke briefly with one of the organizers Jonathan Barkan who says they hope the Circus will grow to be more than just a film festival, that Three Corpse Circus might become a rallying point for the horror community in Michigan. Last night was a excellent start.
The films were better than I’d feared, a notch above the mixed bag you’d expect from a college town. A couple were real gems. Others were arty and experimental. Some cute and amusing. And to be frank, some were unspeakable, trite, poorly shot, not acted at all… dumb. Bad even for Youtube. But what I saw last night were movies I never would have seen elsewhere. Most of the pieces had some aspect that was pretty interesting. Their failures were mostly in consistency. Technically, I suppose many of the movies were “mediocre” but I mean a kind of expectant and exciting mediocrity. They left me with a sense of anticipation, that I’m really interested in seeing the NEXT movie by these film makers.
A great example of this category is “The Lair.” (http://www.thelair-movie.com/) The acting was more than good enough, much better than many commercial horror movies. There was evidence of actual script composition and, egad, character development, again a relative rarity in short horror. Competent editing built actual suspense and didn’t rely on cheap jump scares, well, not excessively. OK so the setting was the tried and true deserted campground and, granted, the premise wasn’t the most original. But the piece was generally effective. If I had to be a dick – and critics are supposed to be dicks, right? – the footage shot at night was too grainy. But where else would I have had the opportunity to see this film except at a film festival like Three Corpse Circus?
A gem of the evening was “Connected,” one two offerings from Denmark. (http://www.ov43.com/) Clocking in at barely 8 minutes, “Connected” gets in, does the job and gets out and it does so ENTIRELY WORDLESSLY. Great futuristic costumes, a convincing post apocalyptic backdrop and a clear situation, conflict and bleak resolution. It was probably dark science fiction more than straight out horror but, damn, it was a joy to watch. And again, I never would have even heard of it if I hadn’t attended the Three Corpse Circus.
The true highlight of the evening for me was the other Danish film Opstandelsen (“Ressurection”) which was as good a zombie movie as I’ve ever seen – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t find zombies particularly compelling. The movie is shot in and around an old austere church and incidentally, they shot the HELL out of this location. There are scenes in the sanctuary, the basement, UNDERNEATH the basement, the bell tower… I’ve whined in the past how easy access to fantastic ancient locations can make even crappy European movies into something watch-worthy, but the makers of Opstandelsen squeeze every bit of ambience from this place. It’s not just a cheap and easy backdrop. The prosthetics were first rate and relatively understated. The blood and gore was believable and I think the tone of its color grew progressively darker until the blood was nearly black by the end. The make up especially on the female survivor was exceptional. By the end of the movie, she was basically wearing corpse paint – her skin so pale as to be nearly white with drippy spatters of dark blood around her eyes. Lovely! The script showed off nice characterization with juicy familial strife. All three of the primary survivors had character arcs that led to satisfying conclusions. Damn, it’s hard to find something to complain about but, perhaps the range of the acting was a bit constrained – one character always stuck on high, another on low with the coke-snorting protagonist being a nice blend. I’d have to see it again before I said it was perfect but since it’s a 50 minute movie, a length too short to distribute commercially and too long for the internet, there is likely NO chance I would have been able to see it at all except at a film festival like Three Corpse Circus.
You’ve picked up on my take-home message by now. If you’re into horror and you’re in Michigan, get to the next Three Corpse Circus. It was well worth while this year and every indication is that it’s just going to continue to get better.
Dolls are creepy. Dollhouses are creepy. And when dollhouses are the setting for crime scene re-creations – correction, MURDER scene re-creations, well, that’s creepy-delicious. To add the perfect touch, the narrator is John Waters. (No, he’s NOT the ex-singer for Pink Floyd.)
What’s REALLY inside a marshmallow man. And I don’t mean the ingredients list. Bid now on eBay.
I’m not that a true-fan of zombies as a mega-genre but this credit sequence has enough crack-snapple-and-bop to get me interested in seeing the actual adaptation of the long-running comic “Walking Dead.”
And of course, here’s the actual trailer:
Subtle political commentary, it’s not. (more…)
I’ve heard it said that two heads are better than one but honestly who wants to drag around yet another hairy brain-cage the size of a football?
House, a 1977 Japanese horror-fantasy-comedy came to the midnight movies in town and I’m still trying to figure out if I just dreamed the whole thing. (more…)
I don’t mean make a zombie FOR yourself. I mean make yourself into a zombie.
In this age of digital manipulation of everything, the old school craft shown on this blog of fully staged photographs is truly impressive. Oh, and they’re scary as all get out.
The ingeniously twisted artists at the collective known as “Bob Basset” have come up with another hand crafted Cthulhu mask. Reminds me a bit of wet folded origami. I’m still waiting for one with animatronic tentacles.
I feel debased to have to mention that Cthulhu is a character from H. P. Lovecraft’s eldritch horror and weird fiction universe. I suspect there are some who think this visage belongs to Davey Jones from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Sorry, thanks for playing. Personally, I preferred Davey’s earlier work with the Monkees.
“…And he jumped on the intruder and slashed at his throat…”
(Male, 30′s) A buddy of mine told me this dream. He’s a ceramicist, an artist who makes pots and jugs and cups and that kind of stuff. In his dream he had just finished making a vessel with this beautiful shino glaze. (I didn’t ask him for particulars but I looked it up on-line and a shino glaze is supposed to be an exceptionally warm and rich glaze, one that’s rather difficult to pull off flawlessly.) He’s always telling me about how deadly some of the chemicals are that he works with. Radioactive. Poisonous. Even the clay itself turns into a fine powder that collects in his lungs and will eventually kill him from cillicosis.
In his dream, an intruder broke into his house. So my friend smashed this vessel with the beautiful glaze and he took one of the larger fragments, one with a particularly sharp edge. And he jumped on the intruder and slashed at his throat. The pottery shard tore into the intruder more effectively than a knife; it hacked him open. He just went limp, dead in my friend’s arms. I asked if there was any blood and no, the particularly odd thing was there was an almost entire absence of blood.
I thought my eyes were wrung out and weary of smooth, digital illustration but perhaps I was only irritated that so much of it fixates on happy-puppy subject matter. Check out these pieces by Etsy.com artist Goobeetsa. The Medusa is my favorite of the “Spooky” portraits but my heart truly belongs to the Dracula paper puppets. Hours of fun on a rainy afternoon, I tell ya. And reasonably priced.
Everyday for a whole year, a different skull appears on this wonderfully creative blog. Some are pieces of jewelry, some are actual skulls, some are pieces of origami, one was a computer typeface, another was a desktop pattern… you get the idea. All over the map in their media and let’s be frank, the quality of their execution but every post is a skull of some sort or another. It’s all free; it’s all fun. It’s likely the kind of thing that would appeal to someone who likes to read about nightmares and fear. The site has spawned a legion of similar projects but Skull-a-Day, as far as I can tell, was nearly the first.
Given my love of weird papercraft, one of my favorite entries is this one for a papercraft skull complete with an articulated jaw.
There are cool limited edition t-shirt to support the site, ones with the logo “Nevermore” and a bird (my guess is that it’s a raven) and, you guessed it, a skull.
I was walking through a suburb very much like the one where I grew up except at the edge of a cluster of houses instead of a woods, there was a wide expanse of water, possibly an ocean, possibly just a Great Lake. Leading up to the water was a long flat sandy beach and on this beach were houses just like those of the suburb though much farther apart. From one of the houses, I heard cries, then screams. Someone was being beaten, then murdered. I recognized the assailants but since there were three of them and only one of me I didn’t intervene.
Later, I was at a small bookstore, so small it was the living room of a house. They were having an art exhibit and when I looked at the names of the artists, I recognized them as the three young men who had killed that person. Evidently everyone seemed to know that they were guilty, but that no one seemed to care too much beyond the fame it brought them. The artworks weren’t extremely compelling, though they used some materials in slightly novel ways. One of the artists for instance seemed to paint with melted wax crayon and to paint inside old cooking pans. Interesting perhaps but his brushwork and composition were barely competent. The bookstore owner noticed my attention and said the artists themselves would be stopping by later. It was as if he didn’t know how dangerous these young men were. I was afraid and I left.
I was walking home from the exhibit, angry and scared, through the suburb I grew up in, in fact just a block or two from the house where I lived. I passed a liquor store and two men started following me. They were twins, slender, brown-grey, in ragged suits with crumpled hats. They talked as if they were drunk, or more precisely as if they were pretending to be drunk. They were following me rather closely. I tried to let the pass but they jumped me instead. One held me while the other kicked and hit me. It wasn’t like they wanted to rob me, just to beat me to death. I struggled and broke free but they chased me. I ran up to the house of a neighbor. Oddly enough, I didn’t try to run to the house where I once had lived. No one came to the door. I woke when the men reached the porch where I was standing.
Ravensblight.com is a fun, well-conceived and executed concept website that takes as its central metaphor a haunted town. The MOST fun part for me at least was the “Toystore” which features a couple DOZEN creepy papercraft models to print out and build.
Papercraft for those not familiar with it is a craft somewhat similar to origami in that you start with a flat sheet of paper and you end up with a three-dimensional object. But since the “rules” of papercraft allow scissors and elaborately printed paper, the object are — to be blunt– WAY cooler than origami. The technique behind papercraft is a pretty cool mixture of high-tech and low-tech. High tech computer-aided-design tools are used to create 3-d models of things… in Ravensblight’s case, for instance, mechanical bats or the tiny coffins shown above. Then another program “unfolds” the object into a 2-d surface and saves it as a .pdf. From a crafter’s perspective, it’s all low-tech simple: all you have to do is download the .pdf’s, print them with a color printer ideally on stiff paper and assemble. It’s a great rainy day activity and heck it’s a blast to have a little line of coffins on your desk!