Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ten Great Movies in 2012

2012 was an amazing year for movies. It was a dream-come-true for super hero fans, James Bond aficionados and Hobbit-Heads, among others. The Avengers assembled, Batman rose and Abraham Lincoln had two films made about his life. (Only one, however, documented his vampire slaying exploits.) Joseph Gordon Levitt became a household name thanks to rising with the Dark Knight and looping with Bruce Willis. We saw everything from the Hunger Games craze to the successful reboot of the Spiderman franchise. Plus, we got to take a shower with Alfred Hitchcock!

I have not yet seen every movie that I want to see from 2012, but here are ten movies that made 2012 for me.

The Avengers:
My favorite movie of the year and the triumphant culmination of the Marvel superhero films. It features great action, amazing effects, lots of laughs and the best portrayal of the Hulk ever. Plus, the two most crowd-pleasing moments in superhero movie history, both featuring the big, green guy. The most fun I’ve had at the movies all year.

Ted:
The funniest movie of the year. Mark Wahlberg is the unsung hero of this flick. His acting against an animated bear is convincing and hilarious. Ted is worth the price of admission in Flash Gordon references alone.

Django Unchained:
Quentin Tarantino nails the Western with his usual flair.  Fox, Waltz, Jackson & DiCaprio are magnificent. Typical Tarantino: great dialog, music, wit, violence and maybe just a few minutes too long. You will leave with a smile on your face.

Silver Linings Playbook:
This one took me by surprise. The story of a man with mental illness, coming home to his family, and the equally conflicted woman who comes into his life. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and the rest of the cast create a funny and thoughtful movie, with a slight edge, that will make you laugh and think. Come for the Philadelphia Eagles references, stay for the dancing. 

The Dark Knight Rises:
The rousing conclusion to Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot of fun. Anne Hathaway stole the movie for me as Catwoman and the last hour is some of the best Batman action ever filmed…. Capped with the best movie ending of the year.

The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey:
Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth. It’s more fun and lighter in tone than The Lord of the Rings movies, just like the novel, but just as grand. Lot’s of action and laughs. The movie suffers a bit from Jacksons penchant for going long and the fact that they are making three films from one book. However, you will love Bilbo Baggins and the scene with Gollum is not to be missed.

Skyfall:
I have not cared much for James Bond since Roger Moore stepped down. I thought Daniel Craig was a great choice as the new 007, but his first two films, like Chinese food, left me hungry again after about 20 minutes. Skyfall is the most straightforward Bond movie in years and a great springboard for future films. Javier Bardem plays a captivating villain who is quite a departure from his role in No Country for Old Men.

Chronicle:
The superhero genre finally meets the found-footage craze. The results are surprisingly good. At a party, three high school friends gain superpowers after making a discovery in an underground cavern. Things start off great and get dark real quick. Sure, there are a few forced moments where characters implausibly keep filming. You just have to roll with it. This one is worth a look.

The Cabin in the Woods:
A love letter to horror fans and Joss Whedon fans alike. It looks like a typical horror flick, with all of the clich├ęs intact, until it all gets turned upside down. Nothing is what it seems. This movie is a blast; funny and original. Just don’t miss the last 30 minutes. That’s where the magic happens.

The Expendables 2:
The biggest guilty pleasure of the year. It’s pure, escapist fun. The Expendables 2 is much more entertaining and satisfying than part one. Great moments from Arnold, Willis and Chuck Norris are the icing on this explosive cake. Bring on The Expendables 3!

There were many others I enjoyed that I did not mention here. Like I said, it was a great year for movies. What were some of your favorites?

Now if you'll excuse me, I still have a lot of 2012 movies on my to-do list, including; 
Argo, Savages, Zero Dark Thirty, Le Mis, Sinister, Moonrise Kingdom, Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie, Wreck-It Ralph, Para-Norman, Rock of Ages, Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas, The Dictator and The Campaign.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 34: Finding Bigfoot in All the Wrong Places

Bigfoot is bigger than ever. Shows like "Finding Bigfoot" have brought this hairy legend out of the woods and into the spotlight. But did you know there are many more versions of Bigfoot besides the Sasquatch and Yeti? Ever hear of the Skunk Ape that roams the swamps of the Florida Everglades? How about the Honey Island Swamp Monster or the Fouke Monster of Boggy Creek?

In this episode of the Monster Men, we discuss the other names and forms that our large-footed friend takes.

We'll also talk about Hunter Shea's new book, SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE, that features the horrifying, bog-dwelling Skunk Ape. It's a must read for Bigfoot fans and horror fans alike. Click here to order it on Amazon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Monster Men 33: Top 10 Christmas Bad Guys

Let the slay bells ring! The Monster Men finally recorded a Christmas episode, and it's based on the blog post I wrote here. The subject? Christmas Villains, of course.

December means it's time for the Christmas Specials. Sometimes the best characters in these shows are the bad guys. To honor these fiends, I’ve put together my list of the ten greatest villains in the history of Christmas Specials.

We had a blast recording this one and I am sure you'll be surprised at a few of our picks. You might even disagree with some. That's cool too. Watch the video, read my post for my complete take on the matter and then let us know what you think. 

Don't forget to share this video with your friends and follow us on Facebook

Top Ten Christmas Villains

Between every hero and a Merry Christmas, there always stands a villain who wants to ruin the holiday. These are some of the most memorable, and sometimes most beloved, characters of the season. To honor this rogues gallery, I’ve put together my list of the greatest villains in the history of Christmas Specials. I bet a few of my selections will surprise you.

Check out my picks and let me know what you think. Then let me know who's on your list. And don't forget to check out the Monster Men show about this topic too. (Click here.)

10. Silas Barnaby: March of the Wooden Soldiers:
I know, you probably don’t think of Barnaby as a Christmas character, so let me explain. March of the Wooden Soldiers is a Thanksgiving tradition, and since that day signals the beginning of the Christmas season, I think Mr. Barnaby qualifies for the list. Plus, Santa makes an appearance in the film, so I rest my case.

Barnaby holds the mortgage on the shoe that Mother Peep lives in. Mother Peep can’t pay and Barnaby threatens to throw her out on the street unless resident hottie, Bo Peep, agrees to marry him. Eventually the situation escalates into an all out war and Barnaby leads hoards of ravenous Bogeymen in an all out assault on Toyland. Only Stannie Dum, Ollie Dee, a box of darts, a weird mouse/monkey and 100 six-foot wooden soldiers stand between Barnaby and the extermination of Toyland. With his top hat, hunched posture and maniacal laugh, he is truly the epitome of evil.

9. Scut Farkus and Grover Dill: A Christmas Story: 
Poor Ralphie. If not getting a BB gun or getting gypped by Little Orphan Annie weren’t enough, he also has to worry about the constant bullying of local terror, Scut Farkus and his sidekick, Grover. Scut is a lanky, hideous creature that seems to be a part bully and part troll. 

Is there any better moment than when Ralphie finally loses it and Hulks out on this sadistic monster? Watch out Scut, he’ll punch your eye out.

8. The Winter Warlock: Santa Claus is Coming to Town:
I originally had Winter, as he likes to be called, ranked higher, because he is pretty horrifying when he first appears in Santa Claus is Coming to Town. However, he has a change of heart pretty early in the movie and becomes a key player in Kris Kringle’s cause. He’s even responsible for many of Santa’s greatest assets, like flying reindeer. Many villains on this list eventually find redemption at the end of the story, but Winter finds his early enough to be considered a hero too.

All it took to save a soul was a choo-choo train and the courage to put one foot in front of the other.

7. Burgermeister Meisterburger: Santa Claus is Coming to Town:
This is the real villain of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. This guy may not be the most charismatic of Christmas antagonists, but boy is he bad. This guy rules a town called Sombertown. That should be your first clue as to the character of this guy.

The Burgermeister is so vile that he not only outlaws toys, but he imprisons Kris Kringle! One of the great things about the fall of Burgermeister Meisterburger is that he is not defeated in the traditional sense of a final battle, but really just sort of fades away and becomes irrelevant. A sad end to a sad man. 
  
6. Professor Hinkle: Frosty the Snowman:
Professor Hinkle is the inept magician that lusts for the life-giving power of Frosty the Snowman’s magic hat. He’s also a homicidal maniac.

Now to his credit, the hat originally belonged to Hinkle, who tossed it towards a trashcan after yet another failed magic trick. His one time assistant, the rabbit Hocus Pocus, essentially intercepts the hat and takes it to the school children that have just built Frosty. When Hinkle sees the miracle that the hat has performed, he naturally wants his hat back. After all, the frustrated fellow is trying to make a living by doing magic and failing miserably. It would only be natural to want your hat back. The question is, did he technically surrender ownership of the hat or did the children steal it? They say possession is 9/10 of the law, but it is defienetly a gray area.

What makes Hinkle so bad, aside from his slightly green hue, is his greed. He wants his hat back so bad that he has no regard for the life he would be ending. Then later he essentially murders Frosty by locking him in a greenhouse and melting him.  

If not for the intervention of Santa, Frosty would not have been resurrected and Hinkle would have won. When threatened with the possibility of never getting another Christmas present, Hinkle finally agrees to an act of penance to redeem him. He must write a promise to never hurt the snowman again… a hundred zillion times!  As Hinkle might say, he’ll be “Busy, busy, busy!”

Notice his motivation for his repentance is motivated by the prospect of getting gifts, not to show respect for life. He’s a narcissist, sociopath and practitioner of the dark arts. This guy is bad news. 

5. Commercialism: A Charlie Brown Christmas:
Some would say the Peanuts Christmas special features the TRUE villain of Christmas the real world, commercialism. Poor Charlie Brown, he’s surrounded by greed and materialism at every turn, most evident from the aluminum trees that everyone prefers to his simple sapling.

He gets it from the kids in the Christmas pageant, his sister and even from his dog, who is pimping out his doghouse for a decoration contest. Good grief!

Think about it… so many of the other Christmas specials put an emphasis on saving Christmas for the sake of gifts and presents. Sure, they may allude to the “Christmas Spirit”, but the seldom actually make a reference to the birth of Christ. Not Charlie Brown though, thanks to his buddy Linus. Just as things start to really get out of control and old Chuck is about to hit his breaking point, the young, blanket wielding sage steps up and makes a passionate speech from the Gospel of Luke on what Christmas is really all about.

Before you know it, the rest of the gang embraces the real reason for the season and they decorate Charlie Brown’s tiny, little tree with the bling from Snoopy’s award winning doghouse. Let the caroling begin. 

4. The Miser Brothers, Heat Miser and Snow Miser: The Year Without a Santa Claus:
Everyone knows that Heat Miser is my favorite. He goes hand-in-hand with his brother Snowy when it comes to great Christmas villains, but Heat Miser is really the scarier of the two. He’s much more satanic looking and he’s got a very hot temper.

The Miser Brothers not only sing the best songs to ever appear in a Christmas special, but they also save The Year Without a Santa Claus, which kind of drags when they are not on screen. It's true... they are too much.


3. The Bumble: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
The Abominable Snow Monster of the North, also known as The Bumble, is a large, yeti-like creature that terrorizes the North Pole and hates everything about Christmas. He pursues Rudolph and Hermey at every step of their journey and eventually captures Rudolph’s family with the intent to eat them. Is that bad enough for you? To a little kid, he is one of the truly scary monsters of the Christmas genre.

Fortunately, Yukon Cornelius and Hermey the Elf come to the rescue. They knock the Bumble out and extract all his teeth. Then Yukon, in an incredible act of bravery tumbles off a cliff with the beast, sacrificing himself for the group. Luckily, at the end of the show, he reappears with a reformed Bumble, who puts the star on top of the Christmas tree. You see, it turns out that Bumbles bounce. 

2. The Grinch: How The Grinch Stole Christmas:
The mean one himself. The Christmas hating green monster with a heart is two sizes too small. The Grinch doesn’t just want to ruin Christmas, he wants to steal the whole thing!  You have to give him props for his ambition. This guy has the audacity to sneak into Whoville, dressed as Santa, and rip-off all of the Whos' Christmas gifts and decorations. He lies to a child and is very cruel to his dog too.

The Grinch cartoon is voiced by Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff) and the live-action film is narrated by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).  It doesn’t get any more badass than that.
The three best words that best describe him are as follows, and I quote,
“Stink!”
“Stank!”
“Stunk!”

The Grinch could easily hold the number one spot on this list, but the big green lug was evil to begin with and eventually sees the error of his ways. There is one more person on this list, and this one should have known better. 

1. Santa Claus: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
Yes, you read that right. Santa Claus is the number one Christmas Special villain. But let’s be clear, it’s Santa from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Let’s face it; Santa is a big, fat jerk in this show. Actually, he’s a big, thin jerk until the end. If you remember, Mrs. Claus had to keep on urging him to eat.

The other villains on this list consist of a variety of scum and lowlifes whose deeds have become the stuff of legends. However, if you think about it, Santa is a big part of the reason Rudolph leaves home in the first place. He’s just as guilty as the rest of the North Pole folk who ostracize the poor, young, crimson-nosed buck. (That includes Fireball, Coach Comet, the Elf Boss and even his parents, Donner and Mrs. Donner.)

When all of the other reindeer are laughing and calling Rudolph names, instead of sticking up for him, Santa chastises Donner and walks away in disappointment. Then, after everyone has disappeared, he’s not even out looking for them. This is a guy who knows when you are sleeping or when you are awake. You’d think he would be pretty good at locating people.

It’s not until he needs Rudolph that he’s actually nice to him… and that might be because he’s too cheap to buy headlights for his sleigh.

Watch the show again and keep an eye on Santa this time, I’m telling you, he’s kind of a jerk. I mean, c’mon, this is Santa Claus, so the bar is set higher. We expect more from him. Take a look at your naughty list Santa, under the name Kringle. You might be surprised at what you see.

Giving Scrooge His Due:
I know, I know. You don’t see Scrooge on this list. Relax. I am giving him props here. After all, he is the poster child for hating Christmas and he did coin the term “Bah humbug”, the catch phrase for the anti-Christmas movement. But he’s too obvious and I am a bit tired of the endless incarnations of A Christmas Carol. However, I’ll give Mr. Magoo honorable mention, along with Bill Murray in Scrooged, as those are my favorite versions of the story. 



Another Honorable Mention
Skeletor in He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special:
This is the boney bad man’s his most conflicted moment… and one of his funniest. 
Click here: Skeletor Christmas


Friday, November 30, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 32: Spirits & Stories Vol. 1

A Real Haunted House and Some Good Horror Movie Talk

I am very excited about this new Monster Men episode! Welcome to Spirits & Stories, where we discuss things that go bump in the night with our friends over drinks. (Spirits, get it?) 

We've always described this show as two buddies talking horror and the paranormal and encouraged folks to pull up a "virtual" seat. Thanks to our Halloween event this past October, we were able to make that happen for real. 

In this first segment you'll meet Fred Powell and hear about his time living in a haunted house. Then we talk horror movies with Jerry Mulcahy, the man behind the Monster Men logo.

Keep an eye out for more installments of Spirits & Stories and let me know what you think. 

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 31: Horror Author Robert Stava

One of my favorite things about doing the Monster Men show is that I have met a lot of great people, both online and in person. This is a perfect example of that...

This latest episode of Monster Men was filmed at our Halloween event in October 2012 at the Wicked Wolf Tavern in White Plains, NY.  In this one, you'll meet horror author Robert Stava. He tells us about his great new book "At Van Eyckmann's Request" and introduces us the mysterious town of Wyvern Falls

Could Robert do for the Hudson Valley what Stephen King did for Maine? I don't know, but he sure is off to a good start.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Secret To Everything Radio Interview

On October 24, 2012, the Monster Men were honored to be guests on the Halloween episode of The Secret to Everything BlogTalk Radio Show with with Dr. Kimberly McGeorge. 

The show is now available on demand. Check it out. We had a blast and I think you'll enjoy the conversation. We are on for about the entire first hour of the show. 

 
Listen to internet radio with KimberlyMcGeorge on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 30: UFOs, Aliens and Other Close Encounters

MONSTER MEN IN SPACE: 
Join us as we discuss UFOs and aliens. Learn about Jackie Gleason's connection to extraterrestrials and hear about Hunter Shea's own close encounter. We also cover movies and TV shows that deal with aliens & space like Alien, Event Horizon and even The Brady Bunch. 



Follow the Monster Men at Facebook at www.facebook.com/monstermen13

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy Concludes

First of all, Happy Halloween! 

Okay, let’s wrap up the Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy with a look at what I watched in the home stretch of Terrortober.

Along with horror movies, I watched a lot of spooky TV shows like AMERICAN HORROR STORY, the Halloween episode of IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and a couple of SIMPSONS Tree House of Horror episodes. What a blast. I am sad to see the month end.


SALEM'S LOT (1979). On Halloween I watched one of my favorites vampire movies. This movie did for bedroom windows what Jaws did to the beach. "Open the window. He commands it.” Love those vampire eyes. Sure, it might be a bit dated, but this is still a classic. Evil vamps that fear crosses; that’s how you do a vampire movie... and a Stephen Kind adaptation.



HALLOWEEN (1978): The original Michael Myers in the theater. Can't think of a better way to spend Halloween eve. Amazing. The atmosphere, suspense, scares and that music!!! A true classic. I think the scenes of The Shape stalking Laurie during the day may be the creepiest part of this movie.

HOCUS POCUS (1993): If you don't like HOCUS POCUS, then hand over your Halloween card now. Lot's of fun and a great version of I Put a Spell On You.



YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974): They showed one of my all-time favorites in IMAX. Incredible! Seeing it with a crowd was a blast and I noticed things I’ve never seen before. And Teri Garr on a giant screen was amazing.

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES (2012) A better-than-usual, cheesy SyFy flick w/ all-star cast of Levar Burton, Mariel Hemingway & Danny Trejo.  If you like these kind of movies, I am sure SyFy will show it a hundred more times.

REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MOVIES (2012): A fun little documentary, to see what the real story behind some horror movies might be. Good Terrortober viewing.

MOCKINGBIRD LANE (2012): NBC’s lame attempt to reboot The Munsters. Not zany enough for me.  Did not laugh once. Herman needs his inadvertent super strength and Grandpa needs to be wacky, not sinister. But Lilly is lovely.  I think a reboot of The Munsters would work better as a cartoon, like The Simpsons or Family Guy.

THE MIST (2007): Good flick that becomes great thanks to the best "holy crap" ending ever. And a few Walking Dead pals as a bonus.  Another one of the few good Stephen King movie adaptations.

Well, now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s time to look to the skies. Stay tuned this week for a new episode of Monster Men that is truly out of this world.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy: Round 3

Here's an update on the Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy. I have continued to celebrate Halloween month with horror movies that run the gamut from black and white classics to brutal, modern day entries to the genre. I even included a couple of horror/comedies, one of which is a personal favorite. 
Bela Lugosi as Igor
SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) with Karloff & Lugosi (as Igor). Young Frankenstein fans will recognize a lot from this movie. A little slow, a but good climax. I give it a wooden thumb up from a wooden arm.

GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) Doubled down on Frankie tonight. Igor is the brains and the brawn in this one. Fast paced fun.

TERROR IN THE AISLES (1984) The CliffsNotes of horror movies hosted by Donald Pleasence. Clips from a number of horror movies and a look at what makes a movie scary. “Remember, it's only a movie."

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) Watched one of my all time favorites and what I think is the best werewolf movie ever. Funny, scary and incredible special effects.  ("it's still too 'eavy.")

FIDO (2006) Zombie/comedy fun. Walking Dead meets Pleasantville. Billy Connolly will melt your heart or eat it. And Carrie-Anne Moss never looked better.

THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005) Round two with Rob Zombie with his twisted sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, and big improvement over it. This movie is not for everyone. Let's face it, Rob Zombie is an acquired taste. A brutally violent flick peppered with lots of demented comedy, and a ton of familiar faces. Not for the squeamish. (Bonus points for the soundtrack.)

Remember to use hashtag #Terrortober to follow my picks on Twitter and to post your own.



Monday, October 22, 2012

The 2012 Monster Men Halloween Episode

It’s the Monster Men Halloween Episode and the debut of the great new Monster Men theme song by musical Monster Man, Steve Capalbo. 
  
Join us as we celebrate our favorite holiday. We discuss some off our favorite Halloween specials and TV shows like The Great Pumpkin and forgotten gems like The Paul Lynde Halloween Special.

Then we review the many horror movies we are watching during the 31 days of Halloween, and we take a detour to Danvers State Hospital & Insane Asylum, a haunted landmark in Massachusetts and the location of the movie Session 9. 

Use hashtag #Terrortober to follow our horror picks on Twitter, and have a Happy Halloween.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy: Round 2

Blood of Dracula
Happy Halloween Month!

The Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy continues. Check out hashtag #Terrortober on Twitter to see what movies the Monster Men are watching this month along with other Halloween related activities. Join the fun and tell us what you are watching by tagging your tweets with #Terrortober.

Follow us on Twitter at @backinjack and @huntershea1.

Here are a few more films I’ve watched with a quick review.  (You can see more in my earlier post too.) 
  • Blood of Dracula (1957) This movie does not actually feature Dracula, but a girl's school headmaster who can transform one of her students into a vampire. This movie even has a dreamy musical number. You can skip this one.
  • 30 Days of Night (2007) I re-watched this one. A pretty good movie based on a good comic book. Worth watching. Great concept of vampires rampaging in Alaska. Plus, Melissa George is gorgeous.
  • House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Rob Zombie trying way too hard here. A convoluted mess. Has some good visuals but no substance.  I was surprised to see Walton Goggins (Justified) and Rainn Wilson (The Office) pop up in this one.
  • Evil Dead 2 (1987) The original cabin in the woods. I revisited this must see classic after a very, very long time. Still groovy after all of these years.
  • Mad Monster Party (1967) The Christmas Special of Halloween shows. It’s party time with Rankin and Bass! An animated cult classic that features all of your favorite monsters in a stop-motion romp. A bit long, but worth a look. More violence and sexual innuendo than they would ever allow today on a children’s program. Every Halloween fan should watch this at least once.
  • Walking Dead (2012) I also watched a number of season 2 episodes of the AMC marathon along with the fantastic Season 3 premiere. I highly recommend watching this show and reading the comic books too.
And if you are thinking about watching a Freddy or Jason movie, here’s a Monster Men episode dedicated to those two horror icons to help you choose wisely.

Stay tuned for more horror picks as the frenzy rolls on.  
--------

My favorite number from Mad Monster Party


Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn Trailer

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 28: Horror Books Not to Miss From Samhain Publishing

In this episode of Monster Men, we celebrate the release of Hunter Shea's latest novella, Swamp Monster Massacre. It's his ode to the Skunk Ape, sometimes referred to as Bigfoot's southern cousin. This one promises to be a fun ride. 

Then we review some of the other books you'll find at Samhain Horror. Samhain has an exciting and upcoming group of authors that is well worth discovering. Writers like Brian Moreland, Russell James, Frazer Lee, David Bernstein, Damien Walters Grintalis, Kristopher Rufty and W.D. Gagliani.

If you are looking for some original, quality horror instead of the usual mainstream drivel, you have come to the write place. 

Check them out at www.samhainhorror.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy


It’s October and that means it’s officially Halloween season. One of the things Hunter Shea, my Monster Men podcast partner, and I like to do is watch as many horror movies as we can all month.

One of the fun aspects of this is watching a wide variety of films from the old classics to those brutally graphic slasher flicks from the seventies… and everything in between. It's amazing to see the fluctuation of tone, quality and subject matter from era to era and film to film.

Here’s a list of what I have seen so far along with a short review.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors - My favorite Elm Street movie. Great kills, lots of humor and Freddy's best one liners.
  • Session 9 - Filmed at the Danvers State Mental Hospital, the creepiest, real life location for a movie. A hidden gem worth finding.
  • Cabin in the Woods - A love letter to horror fans and Joss Whedon fans alike. An original, humorous and incredibly entertaining movie with nods to all the great films that inspired it.
  • Piranha (2010) - A silly but fun romp. Blood and bikinis. Turn off your brain and enjoy.
  • The Woman in Black - Harry Potter goes horror. A great throwback to the old Hammer flicks and a genuinely creepy ghost story.
  • Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated -  Over 100 hundred artists collaborate to animate George Romero's classic film. Tough to sit through the whole thing, but very interesting. 
  • Dracula (1931 - Bela Lugosi) - I always make it a point to watch one of the Universal Monster Movies. This year it was the Count's turn. Was reminded just how nutty Renfield was.
  • I Spit on Your Grave - The feel good movie of 1979. The classic, brutal revenge flick that has aged, but still packs a punch. Not for the squeamish.
  • Cannibal Holocaust - The feel good movie of 1980. Also the mother of "found footage" movies. If you think I Spit on Your Grave is rough, wait until you see this one.
  • The Mummy (1959 – Hammer) - Stalk like an Egyptian. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing's take on the classic monster. The image of the Mummy rising from the swamp is worth the price of admission. Two mums up.
I’ll keep updating the site as I continue my Halloween Fright Flick Frenzy. Also, recently Hunter and I started using the hashtag #terrortober on Twitter to track and review our selections. Check it out and feel free to join in. 





Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monster Men 27: Unearthing Found Footage Horror Movies

A new episode of the Monster Men video podcast is out. This time out we review Found Footage Horror Movies. You know, those movies supposedly filmed by one of the characters, complete with a shaky camera and people who continue to film despite the fact that they are being attacked by a ghost, monster or other supernatural entity. Typically there are no survivors and all that's left is what they filmed. The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity series are two good examples of this kind of movie.

Join the Monster Men as we discuss some of the best, and worst, found footage movies. The films include the upcoming "Paranormal Activity 4", "Megan is Missing", "Troll Hunter" and the REC films, (REC) and (REC)2. Also, in our Comic Book Update segment, we review the Kolchak: The Night Stalker comic book series.


Find more episodes of Monster Men here or on our on our YouTube channel: Monstermen13 or at http://huntershea.com/monster-men-podcasts/ and you can also join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/monstermen13.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monster Men Ep. 26: Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle is every paranormal fan's favorite body of water. Often referred to as The Devil's Triangle, it has seen hundreds of ships and planes mysteriously disappear throughout the years. Join the Monster Men as we take a glass bottom boat cruise into The Triangle and see what lurks beneath the waves. The answer may be funnier than you'd think.

We also discuss the 1975 cult classic movie "Satan's Triangle" with Doug McClure and Kim Novak. Remember that one?

Plus we review "The Missing", Sarah Langan's terrific horror novel along with the horror comic book "Whispers".

Get on board, your supernatural ship is about to set sail.

Click here to get LOST IN THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE



Monday, August 20, 2012

The Haunting of Whaley House - Monster Men Ep. 25

It's the one year anniversary of the Monster Men video podcast! We celebrate by exploring the haunted Whaley House in San Diego, CA, considered one of the most haunted houses in the country. Plus a look at the Walking Dead novel "Rise of the Governor" and the return of Eerie Comics.

Thanks to all of our fans, friends and supporters for a great first year. We are expecting even bigger things in year two.



And don't for get, the big Paranormal Panel Event in New York is this Thursday at Chelsea Manor. Click here for details or to buy tickets. Hope to see you there.


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises to the Occasion Part 2

This is part two of my look at The Dark Knight Rises. Click here for part one. 

The Dark Knight Rises is a hell of a flick. I have seen it three times and I will surely wear out the Blu-Ray when it comes out. However, like I mentioned in part one of this post, there were a few things that bugged me that I’d like to talk about here. It’s what we fanboys do.

WARNING: Major Spoilers ahead!!

The Dark Knight Rises is the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; a film series that revived Batman from the coma that films like Batman Forever and Batman and Robin had put him in. The trilogy was grounded in reality, and though there are plenty of fantastic elements at play, it tries to keep Batman’s boots planted in the real world. No super powers, no aliens, no freeze rays or hypnotic plant drugs. This “real world” take on the Caped Crusader gave it an edge and weight like few other movies in the genre ever have. Also, because it was a self-contained story, with a beginning, middle and end, it did what few other movies or comic books could do; have a definitive ending to the Batman story.

For the record, The Dark Knight is my favorite film of the trilogy. Bane and Catwoman are great villains but let’s face it, nothing can beat Heath Ledger’s Joker and what he brought to that movie. But I could also write an article with nitpicks about that film too. So having said that, let’s discuss what worked and what didn’t in The Dark Knight Rises.

Catwoman: As I said before, I was leery of this character being in this movie, but the writers nailed it and Anne Hathaway hit a home run with the role. I really enjoyed her and my only complaint is I wanted to see more of her.

The Action: A lot of people will like this movie more than Batman Begins and a large part of it is because there is simply more action. You have an army of bad guys at war with Gotham City, lead by a masked madman and you have Batman flying around in a cool new vehicle, The Bat. There are some awesome action sequences in this flick.

The Last Hour: The climax of this movie was tremendous. The action was a blast and the ending of the movie was a completely satisfying conclusion to this story.  The nice thing about a finite, self-contained story like this is that we can have a definitive ending and it can be happy. There are no happy heroes until the true ending of a story. If the series continues, Batman must press on. Here we can finally enjoy seeing Bruce Wayne at peace….and with Selina Kyle. Like Ross and Rachel in Friends, they can’t end up together until the show ends.

The Fights with Bane: Okay, this is where I start to nitpick. Ever since the synopsis of this movie came out I figured it was going to follow the structure of Rocky III, with Bane in the Clubber Lang role. (Except great as Tom Hardy is, he ain’t no Mr. T.) Initially, Batman would face Bane after a long layoff and with a weakened spirit and he would get his butt handed to him. Then he would go back, train and recapture the “Eye of the Tiger”… that hunger and passion that fuels a champion, and he would win the belt back.









The first fight with Bane is really good. Batman gets his back broken (or dislocated), similar to the way Bane did it in the famous Knightfall comic book series.  Bane is brutal and he can see that the Dark Knight’s fighting skills are not up to the usual League of Shadows standards. Bane even says, “Victory has made you weak.” 

Batman vs. The Mutant Leader in The Dark Knight Returns
It‘s the second fight I was a little disappointed with. Go back and look at Batman’s fights with the mutant leader in the Dark Night Returns graphic novel. In the first fight Batman is nearly killed because he tries to “fight like a young man”, as they put it. When he gets his rematch, Batman fights smarter, not harder and vanquishes his savage foe. Same thing with Rocky with Clubber Lang; he comes back with a better attitude and an adjusted fighting style. When Batman returns to fight Bane, we know he has rediscovered a “fear of death” that will give him the edge he needs, and we know he’s going to target Bane’s mask this time around, but that’s about it. We don’t really see Batman fight any differently the second time around. And the fight is nowhere near as dramatic or entertaining as the fights in Rocky III. You feel every blow in those scenes and the dramatic payoff is amazing. Look at The Patriot if you want another example of a great climatic fight. Mel Gibson faces the British General that killed his sons amid a pivotal battle between the Colonists and the Red Coats. Again, we have a very dramatic fight, in which you can practically feel every slice of the General’s sword. When Mel makes his move and defeats the General, you are cheering in your seat. The second Batman/Bane fight happens a bit to quickly and could have been filmed a little bit better, in my opinion.

Also, when Batman and Catwoman first fight together on the rooftop, they run away when Bane and his henchmen show up, because they are out numbered and out gunned. I thought it would have been great if Batman and Bane had a quick tussle here, before their big backbreaking encounter.

I guess that’s of another one of my nitpicks. I would have liked to have seen a little more Batman in this movie. He’s only in the bat suit about three or four times in the movie.

Batman’s Career: Another thing that I was not quite thrilled with was the idea that Batman had been inactive for eight years. That means that after training for about seven years, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman for about a year or two and then retires for eight. I thought that lessens the legend of Batman in this universe. Why did it have to be an eight-year period? Why couldn’t he have been active as Batman for a while longer and chased by the police, as suggested at the end of The Dark Knight? After all, the criminals are now under the impression that the Batman kills. His one rule against killing was pointed out as a weakness in TDK, so wouldn't this perceived threat make criminals think twice about messing with Batman? I understand that they wanted to do a “coming out of retirement” story similar to The Dark Knight Returns, but I thought the idea of the Dent Act simply wiping out organized crime was a bit weak.

Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb.

Another thing that bugged me a little bit was Bane’s plan. He successfully defeats Batman and secures a nuclear device that can level the city. He gives the trigger to an ordinary citizen so they can detonate it if the army tries to stop him or anyone tries to flee the city. So as soon as he learns that Batman has returned, after a generous five month healing period, he does not simply detonate the bomb. Why not? Was the detonator a bluff? Could they not set it off until the reactor melted or could they set it off whenever they wanted? Seems like they could set it off at any time. Also, did Bane and his crew plan on dying in Gotham the whole time, or did they only resign themselves to death once Batman intervened? It was not clear if they had an exit strategy or if they were a death cult. Seems to me, the guy who started this whole “destroy Gotham” thing, Ra's al Ghul, did not plan on killing himself when he attacked Gotham. So why would Bane’s gang want to? I know they said they wanted Gotham to experience false hope before they were annihilated, but it still seemed like they got caught “monologuing”, as they would say in The Incredibles.

Also, the whole disposing of a bomb thing was great, but I could not help but think back to the greatest instance of Batman performing such an act. The immortal Adam West said it best when he uttered those famous words, “Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb.


John Blake’s Intuition: I had no problem with the John Blake character and I loved his arc. I actually wished he had been a little more involved with the final battle, but I understood the importance of what he was doing with the school bus and the orphans. My only gripe was the way he knew that Batman was Bruce Wayne simply by a look on Bruce’s face. It was a little too simple and I wished they had added a little detective work to the mix to help him verify his suspicions. This was a minor thing, but I think it took people out of the moment during that scene.

Cops In the Sewers:  Here is one more thing that bugged me a bit. You mean to tell me ALL of the cops go into the sewer system? ALL of them? And despite the fact that we see them being supplied with food and water, they all emerge from the depths relatively healthy and clean-shaven. Maybe they could have had half the cops in the sewers and the rest of them in hiding because of bounties on them or something. I don’t know. Like I said, it just bugged me a little. Then they rush into a crowd of well-armed thugs with pistols and nightsticks. It looked cool, but they would have got mowed down.

Okay, enough is enough. You get the idea… great movie but a few things that maybe could have been thought out or executed a little better. However, The Dark Knight Rises is the triumphant conclusion to the best super hero trilogy of all time… and it’s certainly one of the better comic book movies ever.  It is also one hell of a Batman story and the most satisfying ending a Batman movie has ever had.

So what did you think?