Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how interested I am in the various ARGs, Analog Horror projects and other forms of “Unfiction” that play out on the internet. Earlier this year I had fun looking back on completed projects like Analog Archives and Channel 7, both of which owed a lot to the ongoing work Local 58.
Many of these projects, especially The Magical World of Ania, display more daring and creativity than we’ve gotten in major movie releases and television shows in recent years. Similarly, I Am Sophie was unfolding as a meta-within-meta horror narrative that was on course to become one of THE best and most disturbing examples of Unfiction. Continue reading
Previously here at Balladeer’s Blog I covered YT Channels that featured what I considered the very best of the emerging subgenre of Analog Horror or “Unfiction” as a lot of people have labeled it. Those descriptive terms have been coined to help keep these creative efforts distinct from pure ARGs (Alternate Reality Games).
Last year I reviewed Local 58, Kris Straub’s latest venture, but many readers have since been expressing their discontent with the way the new 2020 episodes never materialized. Per Straub, that’s because Local 58‘s Analog Horror tale was going to incorporate a fictional pandemic, so given real-world events he decided to hold off and reorganize the series.
(If you’re in the mood for Analog Horror which does NOT back away from pandemic and lockdown lore, check out Walker Creek Broadcast Station, but be aware that such lore is only incidental to the main storyline.)
At any rate, being left hanging like that with Local 58 left many of you asking about similar Analog Horror/ Unfiction series which are already completed. I’m happy to say that two of the most popular series are now available COMPLETE and IN ORDER. Even better, they have been edited into one long-form YT video each for your viewing convenience, rather than spread out episodically. (You damn whiners. I’m KIDDING!) Continue reading
Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve always had a soft spot for the Resident Evil movies. I’m not implying that they’re good by any means, but as guilty pleasures I consider them pretty watchable in a Spaghetti Western sense. You don’t expect logic or well-maintained continuity in the original Django or Sartana series any more than you do from the Stranger or Hallelujah flicks or any of the other lower-level pulp series of Italo-Westerns.
To me the six Resident Evil movies (2002 – 2017) can be viewed the same way – as unpretentious B-movies with a kind of relaxing sameness and stories that are so unchallenging you can chit-chat with friends or loved ones while they’re on.
Seventies chop-socky films are another example. You might watch them but you sure as hell can’t defend them from criticism.
Milla Jovovich’s Alice is, to me, the main reason to watch these films. She’s believable in the action scenes and deserves recognition for the way she kicks post-apocalyptic butt in SIX movies as the same character. No other leading female figure has matched that feat in THEATRICAL RELEASE, English-language films. Not Lara Croft and not even Ellen Ripley. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s Eleventh Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! Early in December is the ideal time to look at this dark-humored version of A Christmas Carol that was done in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I AM SCROOGE – A ZOMBIE STORY FOR CHRISTMAS (2009) – Written by Adam Roberts. This book was a gift from a friend a few years ago and it’s pretty entertaining. Think of The Dead Next Door set at Christmas.
Roberts plays with various aspects of the narrative, even joking about superogatory “o’s” in Marley’s moan of “Scrooooge.” He peppers in a lot of similar jokes all the way through the book. The schtick is exactly what you would expect – the title is a joking reference to I Am Legend followed by Dickens’ qualification of A Christmas Carol as “A Ghost Story For Christmas.” Continue reading
Happy Halloween 2020 from Balladeer’s Blog!
THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND (1908) – Written by William Hope Hodgson. This tale is a terrific but often overlooked forerunner of Lovecraftian horror blended with traditional haunted house elements. Throw in material that puts the reader in mind of Madame Blavatsky’s and Aleister Crowley’s horror fiction and it’s a magnificent story for Halloween.
Our tale is set in and around an isolated house in a desolate, eerie location in West Ireland. The main character is an elderly man who lives there with his sister. His sleep is tainted with disturbing dreams that become more like occult visions of barren but impossible landscapes. (Think “If M.C. Esher did landscaping.”)
In those visions his and his sister’s house is always in the middle of the terrifying geography. After these unsettling experiences on the astral plane the material version of those forces are unleashed in the real world by a minor earthquake near our main character’s house.
Swinish humanoids that resemble the illusory pig-faced monster in the movie Boardinghouse emerge from the new fissure and besiege the two terrified humans, Night of the Living Dead style. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s Month-long celebration of Halloween nears its end for 2020 as I take a look at the most seasonal covers of the 1970s Marvel Comics series Son of Satan. The latest Marvel television show, Helstrom, is a very watered-down and weak version of their horror character Daimon Hellstrom, the son of Satan and a mortal woman. (They didn’t even use both “L’s” in the name Hellstrom for the series title, as if h-e-l-l is too shocking for public use.)
Marvel later renamed Daimon from Son of Satan to the catchier “Hellstorm” – a play on his last name. From what I’ve read the tv show doesn’t even commit to him being Satan’s son. Wimps. He FIGHTS Satan, for crying out loud, so where’s the harm!
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT Vol 1 #12 (October 1973)
Title: The Son of Satan
Comment: Daimon Hellstrom and his half-sister Satana (click HERE) were both born of human mothers but with Satan as their father. Satana followed their father’s evil path but Daimon rebelled, fighting against their father and his minions and even trying to become a priest at one time.
In his secret identity Daimon was a professor of parapsychology and religion plus he served as an exorcist. When he held up both hands with three fingers up on each hand (the sign of the trident) he mystically transformed into his Son of Satan regalia complete with a pitchfork.
That pitchfork was made of nether-metal and through it the Son of Satan generated Hellfire (like Ghost Rider wielded) and used it to fly (like Hot Stuff – rimshot). This foe of demonic forces also had an infernal chariot pulled through the sky by three Satanic horses named Amon, Hecate and Set. Continue reading
THE MAGICIAN – During Halloween Season a few years back Balladeer’s Blog reviewed the 1926 silent movie adaptation of The Magician. This time around I’ll review the original Somerset Maugham novel from 1908. It’s no secret at this late date that the malevolent sorceror of the title, Oliver Haddo, was based on the real-life Aleister Crowley. In fact, Crowley would accuse Maugham of plagiarism when he reviewed The Magician under the name Oliver Haddo, his fictional counterpart.
At any rate the 1926 film is an under-appreciated classic of the Silent Era and the novel is of an even higher quality. In Paris – where Maugham first met Crowley in real life – Dr Arthur Burdon, a prominent young British surgeon, has come to visit his fiancee, artist Margaret Dauncey.
Burdon also visits his elderly former mentor, Dr Porhoet, who has turned from medicine to the study of Magick and the occult arts. It is through Porhoet that Dr Burdon and Margaret – plus Margaret’s friend Susie Boyd – first encounter the elegant yet repellant Oliver Haddo. The cadre of friends make the mistake of ridiculing the boastful Haddo’s claims of being a sorceror in the young 20th Century. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at two neglected werewolf legends from Detroit.
I. Jacques Morand – Roughly 300 years ago Jacques Morand was in love with Genevieve Parent. Unfortunately for him Genevieve decided to join a convent. When Morand could not change her mind through pleading he turned to threats, which drew warnings from Genevieve’s father and brothers.
In desperation Jacques sold his soul through one of the White Witches of the Woods. In return he gained the unholy power to turn himself into a werewolf after dark. After preying on Genevieve’s father one night he followed that up the next by picking off one of her brothers. Continue reading
Here at Balladeer’s Blog I often hear from people who like scary movies for Halloween but who really don’t like blood-soaked or sexually explicit films. Since I review a LOT of extreme horror movies here’s some equal time for people who want chills but not graphic violence.
CROWHAVEN FARM (1970) – Do you like ghosts and witches? Do you enjoy slow burn horror like Rosemary’s Baby? Give Crowhaven Farm a viewing or two. It’s perfect for a viewing party after the trick or treaters are done for the night. And at just 74 minutes what do you have to lose?
Hope Lange and Paul Burke portray a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When they inherit the title farm they decide to give their relationship one last try by relocating there. John “He’s probably even in the Zapruder Film if you look hard enough” Carradine portrays a creepy handyman, Lloyd Bochner tags along for some Lloyd Bochnering and William “Big Bill” Smith shows up as a policeman.
VAMPIRE (1979) – Incredibly underappreciated horror film that concentrates on atmosphere and eeriness rather than in-your-face antics. Cult actor Richard Lynch stars as the title menace, Prince Anton Voytek. When the undead bloodsucker’s tomb is disturbed by construction for a new church (talk about adding insult to injury), the vampire subjects the city to a reign of terror.
Jason The Exorcist Miller plays the new church’s architect and E.G. Marshall portrays an elderly cop who helps Miller in his struggle against Voytek. Kathryn Harrold, Jessica Walter and a very subdued Joe Spinell also star. Part Martin, part Grave of the Vampire, this flick is an excellent showcase for Richard Lynch’s villainous charisma and very odd looks. (Not being cruel, just making an observation.) If you watch only one movie on this list, make it this one. Continue reading
Halloween Month hurls toward its conclusion with another seasonal post. The Marvel Comics juggernaut is THE power in pop culture these days so here is another look at one of their horror characters from their 1970s heyday.
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT Vol 1 #5 (August 1972)
Title: Ghost Rider
Comment: Ah, the sweet simplicity of the original Ghost Rider stories! Daredevil biker Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil: Johnny’s soul in exchange for Satan curing the cancer in the body of Blaze’s mentor “Crash” Simpson.
We all know how deals with the devil go, and Satan cures Simpson’s cancer but the aging daredevil motorcyclist dies in an accident during his next show. When Satan comes to claim Johnny’s soul, Blaze’s true love Roxanne Simpson (Crash’s daughter) interferes and negates the infernal contract.
The stymied devil can’t take Johnny to Hell but can inflict a kind of “Hell in nightly installments” on him by cursing him to become a monstrous fiery-skulled figure every night from then on.
NOTE: Convoluted additions about soul-reaping or about Johnny’s Ghost Rider form really being a specific demon named Zarathos, or past Ghost Riders did not come along til years later. The first Ghost Rider movie should have kept it simple like this and started adding the complications beginning with the second film. Continue reading