Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween indeed! As unbelievable as it may seem, Halloween is finally upon us, and that means the end of the Countdown to Halloween. Just like every year, I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of this great Halloween tradition. I'd like to thank my longtime readers who continue to support this blog, and also the new readers (and Followers, I've noticed!) who have expressed their support. You're the reason I keep the blog going. Thanks so much!

Of course, we still have the final post to go! Since trick or treating is the way to cap off the season, that's how will do it at the blog.

First up, we're "trickin' it to the treat" with Michael McDonald and band--well, almost.

Next, a hapless man-child named Skippy goes trick or treating three days early--with poor results.

Finally, comedian Stephen Lynch recounts his love for his favorite holiday. His sick, twisted love.

Guess what? That's it! There's only one thing left to say--Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Devil and Daniel Mouse

This is my next to last post for this year's Countdown to Halloween, so I'll make it a great one.  Today I offer the late 70s animated special The Devil and Daniel Mouse. Two struggling mouse musicians (go with it) make a deal with--who else?--to become successful, with dire results.

Several other blogs participating in the Countdown have carried this special before, but as I've posted most other Nelvana Studios productions from this time period before, why not take my turn at it?  Enjoy, and have a safe weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revenge of the Attack of the B-Movie Trailers!

Only days away from Halloween!  Time to squeeze in as many fun frightful flicks as possible.  Perhaps these will tantalize your terror tendencies?  Probably not.  But the trailers sure are fun to look at.  I always think the trailers are more entertaining than the actual movies; the trailer only gives you so much, and your imagination fills in the rest.  The movie you imagine is probably better than the actual film!

De ax! De ax!

Don't go in the house! Don't ride your bike through the garden! Don't talk with your mouth full!

Donald Pleasence alert!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Mighty Heroes, "The Drifter"

After a long time away, it's time for the Mighty Heroes to make their triumphant return to the blog.  This time, they face the evil Drifter, who has sent the entire town of Good Haven adrift in the air.  It's up to the Heroes to take on the Drifter and his henchmen, one a Frankenstein lookalike, and the other a racist caricature.  Who will win? Who will lose?  Stay tuned and find out.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: The Terror of Frankenstein

Tuesday is a great day to blog, because I get to showcase a cool pick for Tuesday's Forgotten/Overlooked film, TV, or audio.  As this is the last full week of the Countdown to Halloween, I have a great treat for you today: the 1977 European film The Terror of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein films are a dime a dozen, some fantastic (the 1931 classic) and the, in my opinion, not so fantastic (Frankenstein Unbound--bleh!).  Today I have a great one.  What makes it so is that it is closely faithful to Mary Shelley's novel, which is one of my alltime favorite books ever.

To enjoy this one, you should put aside your preconceived notions of the monster as a flat-headed, speechless ogre (as awesome as the Boris Karloff incarnation is, don't get me wrong).  This is a monster that is eloquent, deep-thinking, and as emotionally tortured as Hamlet or any other literary figure, and he's wonderfully presented here.  Please enjoy, free and legal, the entire film below.

For more great forgotten films, TV, and more from the past, click here.  Thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Casper the Friendly Ghost, "Ghost of the Town"

Hard to believe that there is only one week left until Halloween.  I feel like we just got started!  Let's make this last week a great one.  And make sure to catch all the other great participants in the Countdown to Halloween.

Today I feature the most famous ghost of all, Casper.  Here, he finally gets humanity to accept him after an act of herosim in "Ghost of the Town" (the title of the cartoon given in the screen capture is incorrect).  Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Witches Scene from MacBeth--starring Animaniacs!

I freakin' love Animaniacs. It was one of the funniest and smartest sereis of the 1990s, including prime time series. Here, the cast act out the witches scene from MacBeth. Enjoy! For more Animaniacs Halloween fun, click here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Skeleton Frolic

I'll keep it short today. Here is a cartoon released by Columbia Pictures in 1937 called "Skeleton Frolic." Appropriately creepy, funny, and whimsical all at the same time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kirby Krackle, "Zombie Apocalypse"

If you're a fellow comic book geek like myself, you are likely already familiar with the music group Kirby Krackle.  If not, they are a band from Seattle that specializes in music known as "nerdcore," music based on sci-fi, comics, horror, video games, and other geek-like areas of interest.  In their music video below, a young man is doing his best living in, well, a zombie apocalypse.

To hear (and buy) more fun music from Kirby Krackle, check out their site here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Tourist Trap

It's Tuesday, it's the Countdown to Halloween, so that means it's time to digest a frightful film.  This week's pick is the 1979 cult classic Tourist Trap.

Several college-age youths traverse the backroads of America when their car breaks down near an unusual  museum run by the immensely creepy Mr Slausen (Chuck Conners).  He offers to help them but instead imprisons them in his house of horrors filled with mannequins under his telekinetic control.

The film, while certainly not a 4-star classic, has an immensely creepy impact on the viewer--the masks Conners wears alone solidy the horror factor here.  The acting from the young stars is typical of B-movie shockers, but Conners gives it his all.

See for your self right here.  Enjoy!  For more forgotten movies, TV, and audio, click here.  Thanks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Children's Television Workshop--of Horror!

No not really, but I did find some cool spooky-related material from two CTW series, Sesame Street and the original Electric Company (of which I just picked up the single disc collection this weekend). It's materal that eery and educational!

In the midst of putting this post together, I coincidentally came across this news item on Twitter.  Yikes! Talk about scary...

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Most Disturbing Stuff I've Ever Posted

I came across these independently-made cartoons on YouTube earlier this year somehow, and they were creepy, disturbing, and all-around bizarre--which made me save them for Halloween.  I haven't done the research on the creator of these cartoons, but based on his YouTube uploads, he specializes in these grotesque animations.

The only thing I can really say to set them up is that they follow a man's psychosis and paranoia.  It's hard to tell if some of the things seen are real or in his imagination.  Either way, these cartoons are, as the title states, the most disturbing things I've ever posted here at the blog.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'll Only Give the Great Pumpkin Another 10 Minutes--OK, Maybe Twenty

I won't go into my hardcore fandom for Peanuts yet again, but I will showcase this cute song from the animated version of the Broadway musical Snoopy.  Here, Linus puts his foot down with the Great Pumpkin, giving just a few more minutes for his arrival at the pumpkin patch.  OK, maybe a few more minutes, but that's it!  Just one more hour. And just five more minutes after that.  You get the idea.

Set your DVRs--It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs this year on ABC on Thursday, October 27th at 8pm.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, "The Bride of Dracula"

It's become an unofficial tradition of my Halloween countdown to feature a spooky cartoon featuring my favorite superhero, Spider-Man, and this year I have a good one.  In this episode of the early 80s series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spidey and Ice Man try to rescue Firestar from becoming "The Bride of Dracula."  This is an episode right up Chris Sims' alley.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Ghost Story

Sorry for not posting something yesterday, but Circumstances Beyond My Control got the better of me.  I'm back today with another Tuesday's Forgotten Film, and like last week's entry, this week also involves a "revenge from beyond the grave" tale.

Ghost Story is a theatrical film released in 1981 and stars screen legends Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and John Houseman (it was the last film for the former three gentlemen). The film, based on a novel by Peter Straub, tells the story of a group of old well-to-do men who are responsible for the death of a beautiful woman in their younger years.  They avoid telling the authorities and live their lives as if nothing happened.  Suddenly, in their old age, terrible things begin happening to them, as well as one of the men's sons, whose brother contacts the group to get to the bottom of things.  As I've already stated, this is a "revenge from beyond" story, you can surmise who's responsible for the horror.

Like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, this was a favorite of my parents who watched it frequently over the years.  It's available on DVD from Amazon as well as on demand streaming.  Below is the film's trailer.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview with Chris Sims, Writer of Dracula the Unconquered

Today is a red letter day for the blog, as today I feature my first-ever interview!  And I couldn't be happier than for it to be with comic book blogger and writer Chris Sims!

Chris began writing about his love for and review of comics at his Invincible Super Blog while working at a comic shop full time.  He later was inspired to begin writing his own web comics with some like-minded friends, who together formed their own comics line, The Action Age of Comics, which produces such high concept titles as The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N, and my personal favorite, Awesome Hospital. In addition, he also continues to write about other comics for AOL's comics news site, Comics Alliance.

Chris is also the inventor of the Nerd Hat.

Chris is here to talk about his latest comic, Dracula the Unconquered, premiering on Halloween.

Brian:  This isn't your first time writing about a vampire (Solomon Stone), but now you're taking on the most famous one of all.  What is it about Dracula that makes him such an intriguing character, and do you plan on doing something different or unexpected with the character?

Chris: Ha!  Well technically, Solomon Stone is a half-vampire, half-wizard skateboard champion.  It might seem subtle, but trust me, it makes a big difference in how you approach the characters.

As for Dracula, what really drew me to him was the fact that there's been so much done with the character in pop culture.  In America, Bram Stoker's novel was in the public domain since it was first published, and as a result, there have been so many interpretations, reinterpretations, reimaginings, and sequels that he's become one of those characters that works in any sort of story.  You can do a serious take, you can do comedy, you can put him in a castle on the moon, and it all makes sense because he's gone so far beyond that original story.  That pop culture aspect is really what I love about him. 

At the same time, that makes it hard to do something truly new, but you don't often see him as an all-ages adventure hero, so hopefully I'll be able to put my own spin on it.

Brian: Most of your previous work, such as Solomon Stone and Awesome Hospital, have been very funny, but the solicitation for Dracula The Unconquered makes the project seem a bit more serious. Is that correct, and if so, why take a different approach now?

Chris: It  wasn't until halfway through writing the first issue that I realized that by giving Dracula a teenage girl sidekick -- an English one, no less -- I was basically writing the "serious" version of Solomon Stone, but that's kind of what it ended up being. 

That said, there are still scenes that I think are pretty funny about it, even though it's not strictly a comedy like Awesome Hospital, or a parody like Sol.  I really have no interest in writing something that's completely dour or humorless, and while Drac's first and foremost an adventure story, I don't think action and comedy are mutually exclusive.  I've described it before as Indiana Jones starring Dracula, and if you go back and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are moments in that film that are absolutely hilarious. 

When I think about the comics that I really love that are coming out right now, there are guys like Jeff Parker, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente.  These are guys who never shy away from putting funny moments in their stories, and it never detracts from how thrilling the action is, or the danger their characters face.  It just makes a more well-rounded story, and that's the feeling that I'm going for in Drac:  A fun, solid, entertaining comic.

Brian: You've previously spoken highly of Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, and Steve Downer's design seems a bit reminiscent of Marvel's version of the character.  What is it about that series that was so captivating, and will we see hints of those elements in DTU?

Chris: I don't think I'm blowing anyone's mind when I say that Gene Colan's version of Dracula is far and away my favorite visual of the character.  He captured that monstrous haughtiness so well, and that moustache!  Dracula just doesn't look right without facial hair. 

So yeah, Tomb of Dracula is definitely an influence, specifically in the idea of Dracula traveling around the world and dealing with villains that are even more monstrous than he is.  Also, I can't lie, his whole attitude, that crazy pretentiousness and absolute disbelief that anyone would ever dare to stand against him, it just cracks me up.  It's set the tone for how I think of Dracula speaking just in general, so there's a lot of that arrogance in my version.

Brian: What can we expect from Dracula's assistant Thalia?  From the looks of her on the cover image with her sly grin, she seems to have a few tricks of her own up her sleeve.

Chris: Thalia has her origins in me feeling like I needed a viewpoint character.  I love Dracula as a character, but he's also an immortal sorcerer who used to be King of the Vampires, so if you're following him as a protagonist, that can be pretty hard to relate to.  At the same time, I didn't want her to be just a prop to have thing explained to her, which is exactly what I was parodying with Minxy in Solomon Stone

Mark Waid writes a comic called Ruse that I love, it's a big Sherlock Holmes-style Victorian mystery series, and the detective's assistant, Emma Bishop, is such a great character.  She comes off as smart even when she's next to this super-genius, she's really quippy and active in the story.  She's great, and since there was a Ruse mini-series coming out while I wrote the first two issues of Drac, I really studied it and tried to reverse engineer how he made this lady sidekick so compelling in her own right.

Brian: I loved Ruse!  I instantly saw Thalia as the Emma to Drac's Simon when I first saw the image.

Chris: I actually asked Waid about it and he told me that he just never has one character tell another something she actually knows.  As simple as that might sound, and as much as I'm aware of it from my absolute hate of sentences that begin with "as you know..." it was a really good piece of advice to keep in mind.  When you ditch all that unnecessary exposition, you have a lot of room to work in actual character stuff.

To be honest, Thalia does end up getting a lot of things explained to her and she is in need of rescuing in the first couple of issues, but I've tried not to have those be the things that define her.  She's really fun to write, because for all of Dracula's arrogance, she's meeting him at his absolute low point, and as much danger as she faces, there's a lot of eye-rolling on her part.  After he read the script, Steve Downer pointed out that it was interesting that I'd given Dracula a teenage girl sidekick, because he has this predatory history towards young women.  It wasn't something that I'd considered at first, but once he pointed it out, it became something that I've had in my head.  If you're going to have Dracula as a hero, that's something that probably needs to be redeemed.

Brian: The solicitation also states that the events in Bram Stoker's novel "may not have gone down the way Harker & Co. wrote about them." Does this mean we'll see Dracula in a more positive light?

Chris: It's not so much that Dracula was a good guy during the novel as the "heroes" were trying to make themselves sound more heroic than they actually were.  Before I started writing, I read through Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Dracula, which is an excellent resource, and the thing I really came away with was that I really just did not like any of the main characters, especially Harker.  Even Van Helsing just comes off as this bumbling crackpot professor who's always suggesting transfusions from random-ass guys to help out vampire victims!  It's hilarious!

So there are certain events in the novel where the "Good Guys" made the wrong assumptions, but all of the actual events happened.  Dracula was still the bad guy, he was still coming to England to eat people.  One of the things that gets addressed later down the line is that Thalia's a librarian and she's read Dracula.  So that stuff's going to come up.

Brian: Tell us more about DTU's cocreators, Josh Krach and Steve Downer, and their contributions to the book. They both have experience in multiple aspects of comic creation (Josh as a letterer and writer, Steve as an illustrator and colorist). What roles will they play in the making of DTU? I believe Steve is illustrating issue #1.

Chris: Steve and I first worked together when he colored Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N., a comic I wrote that Chris Piers drew, and while he makes his living as a colorist, he's an amazing artist as well.  We've been wanting to work together for a while, and a few years ago, we even talked about doing a story about an immortal character so that we could skip around from place to place, so when I decided I wanted to do Dracula as an adventure hero, he was the first guy to pop into my head.  He's been amazing to work with, and he even made a call about the way he wanted to draw something in the first few pages of #1 that changed the whole layout of the first seven issues.  I think people are really going to love what they see out of him.

I've known Josh for several years, and again, he's great.  He's been the letterer on Awesome Hospital since we started, but he's another one of those guys that's talented at everything he does.  He's a great writer -- he does a webcomic called Troop Infinity that's darn near perfect as a kids' adventure comedy, and he's written an upcoming AH short as well -- and he's even pretty good at drawing, too.  Like Steve, he's been an excellent collaborator, and when I sent them my plots for the first arc's worth of stories, he made a few great suggestions that made my job so much easier.

Brian: 'Fess up Chris.  This is just your way of counterbalancing all the Anita Blake comics and Twilight products, isn't it?  Next you'll write a witch comic to cancel out Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.

Chris: The only way to fix bad comics is to make better ones.  You have to try, right?

Brian: You've been involved with comic creation for awhile now through your site the Action Age of Comics.  Are you happy with the progress the projects available there have made, and what can we expect in the future?

Chris: It's weird, because even when my schedule's so packed that I'm barely sleeping, it never really feels like I'm doing enough.  I'm just impatient, I guess.

In addition to Drac, Awesome Hospital is still going every Tuesday and Thursday, and Chad Bowers and I have our first graphic novel coming out next year from Oni.  I wish I could tell you more about that one, but for now, that's all I can say.  Plus, you know, there's my day job over at ComicsAlliance every day.  And one day... maybe not this year, maybe not this century, but one day I'll be able to put out Solomon Stone #3.  It's got succubus pirates.

Brian: Finally, and this is an important question: does Batman prefer beef barbeque or pork barbeque?

Chris: Oh, definitely pulled pork.  South Carolina Mustard-Based sauce has the delicious sharp taste of justice.

Dracula The Unconquered makes its debut October 31st, and will be available for download in cbr format for $1.  Check out the official site here.

Thanks Chris!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Attack of the B-Movie Trailers!

There are many great, classic horror films.  There are also far more goofy, cheesy, weird, and flat-out bad horror films.  But sometimes, they're more fun!  Here is a sampling of several fine examples.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Comic Book Review: Ghostbusters #1

Although the Ghostbusters films were  released during the summers of 1984 and 1989, respectively, the characters have long been associated and celebrated around Halloween, so it's only appropriate that IDW Publishing release the first issue of their new Ghostbusters comic at the start of the season.  IDW has held the comic book license for the Ghostbusters for a few years now, and has released several miniseries since, but this is the company's first attempt at an ongoing with the franchise.  How does it hold up?  Find out now!

The issue opens up with a concise description of each of the four paranormal experts in case anyone is unfamiliar with them (which I find impossible to believe, but OK), but the sequence turns out to be a dream taking place in the mind of Ray Stanz (Dan Akroyd's character).  At the end of his dream, he is told by a herald (in the image of Blues Brother John Belushi, a nice touch) that "The Third is Coming."  What "The Third" is remains to be seen. Meanwhile, an unnamed New Yorker is attacked by a ghost through his bathroom mirror, a ghost which also briefly appears in a mirror in Ray's bedroom after Ray awakens from his dream.

Whatever it is, it is very involved with Ray, as Egon takes a scan of his brain and finds a great deal of unusual activity.  Ray, it is assumed, is the conduit through which the next great villain will tether itself to the boys.

A subplot involves Winston taking Peter to investigate a young boy's claim of haunting in his tenement; the boy is the nephew of Peter MacNicol's character from the second film.  When Winston and Peter arrive, the building is covered in green slime.  As they stake out the building, they encounter a spectre very familiar to Ghostbusters fans.  Finally, a three-page backup story sets up former EPA adversary Walter Peck as the new head of a government oversight department in charge of paranormal investigators such as the Ghostbusters, which I'm sure will cause grief for the guys down the road.

I was pleasantly surprised by the issue.  The characterization of the Ghostbusters and Janine is spot on; no one does or says anything out of the ordinary for them.  At the same time, writer Erik Burnham doesn't try to do caricatures of Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd either; the characters are on display here, not the actors. The story has a good balance of supernatural happenings, characterization, and gives you plenty to take in while leaving you curious to see what will happen in the next few issues.

The artwork by Dan Schoening (illustration) and Luis Antonio Delgado (coloring) is cartoon-like in a good way, being expressive while still holding a faint resemblance to the live action characters we know and love.  And except for one instance of mild innuendo and the appearance of the word "ass," this is fairly suitable for younger audiences.  If you're a solid Ghostbusters fan like myself, I recommend IDW's Ghostbusters #1.

Ghostbusters #1 retails for $3.99.  To find a comic shop near you, go to Comic Shop Locator.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV-Movie: Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Today is a particularly fun post for me, as I get to comply with two different memes at once.  In additon to participating in the Countdown, I'm also a part of Tuesday's Forgotten/Overlooked, in which many blogs write about a lost/forgotten/ignored/obscure movie, TV show, or music recording of the past and bring it to light.  My selection for this week fits both Tuesday's Forgotten and the Countdown perfectly!

Dark Night of the Scarecrow was a TV-movie that aired on CBS on October 24, 1981.  Charles Durning stars as a mailman for a small rural town who looks disdainfully at the relationship between Bubba, a mentally challenged man, and a young girl named Marylee.  When Marylee appears brutally attacked, he and other townsfolk believe Bubba has raped and tried to kill her.   In fact, she was attacked by a pack of dogs from which Bubba saved her.

Bubba tells this to his mother, who has him disguise himself as a scarecrow to hide from the angry mob.  His ruse is discovered, and the mob shoots him to death while he hangs in the field in his disguise, where he's left for dead.

It's then that the deceased Bubba exacts his revenge...

To see how he does this, check out the film on You Tube here:

The movie is readily available on DVD and will be available on Blu-Ray next Tuesday, October 11th.

Countdowners: for more Tuesday's Forgtten glory, click here. Tuesday peeps, for more great stuff from the Countdown to Halloween, click here.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween TV Commercials 2011

Welcome back to the Countdown to Halloween. Saturday's post was just an introduction into the season with a small variety of clips to warm you up. Today we start full out, as usual, with some fun TV commercials that are either for Halloween products or commericals that have a horror or spooky theme.

First I have a commercial for Easter Seals' Halloween coupons, presented by Countdown favorite Vincent Price. He is still sorely missed today.

Next up is a Dunkin Donuts commercial that I've wanted to showcase for  years, but couldn't find it until now. You try eating Munchkins with lobster claws!
I especially like the apparent boredom the patrons are experiencing at the party. I've been to a couple of those myself.

I never knew Paas made Halloween make-up kits. See, the Countdown is educational as well as entertaining!

Happy Pails!

When you need a marshmallowy breakfast cereal, what you gonna eat? GHOSTBUSTERS!

When encountered by a werewolf, don't worry if you don't have a silver bullet, just have a Halloween meal from Burger Chef handy (never mind that Burger Chef is out of business).

Finally, here is another commercial in a series that I posted last Halloween. Frankenstein's monster isn't a killer, he's just in need of Osteo Bi-Flex for his achy joints.

See you tomorrow for more Halloween goodness!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Countdown to Halloween 2011 Opening Ceremonies


Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to the 2011 Countdown to Halloween at Me and You and a Blog Named BOOOOOOOOO!  My name is Brian, but you can call me Phillyradiogeek, and I'm extremely happy to have you here.  For longtime and returning readers, thanks for coming back, and for new readers, welcome!  I hope you stay around once the countdown is over.

This is my third year participating in the Countdown, which gets better and better each year.  I'm honored to be accepted into this spooky camaraderie of crazies who, like me, love to blog about  Halloween.  Here at Me and You, there will be chills, thrills, and fun for both the young and young at heart.

If I could please ask you a favor, at any point during or after the Countdown, please check out my reader survey along the right of the blog and let me know what you think about it.  I'm always looking to improve it, and the best way for me to do that is to ask you what needs improving.  Thanks!

So, without further ado, let the Countdown to Halloween begin!