Balladeer’s Blog’s 31 Days of Halloween continues with this neglected horror hero.
THE COFFIN (2000) – Written by Phil Hester and drawn by Mike Huddleston, The Coffin was originally a four-part serial before being collected into graphic novel format. I’ll provide details below but right up front let me point out that the horrific but intriguing premise is that the Coffin is a dead scientist whose soul is trapped within a polymer techno-suit of his own creation.
Dr Ashar Ahmad, the brilliant scientist in question, is employed by Heller Technologies, whose eponymous owner is a vile and amoral tycoon. Heller himself is a figure straight out of a horror film.
He’s incredibly old and his withered, wrinkled body is still functioning only because of all of the legal and illegal organ transplants he has had. His body is a battleground of scars from all that surgery. Obviously immortality is what our power-mad plutocrat longs for.
And so Heller Technologies recruited Dr Ahmad to devise strong, lightweight polymers for medical purposes. To that end Ashar has developed polymers that can be used to form an artificial membrane that is perfectly impermeable and incredibly durable.
Extensions of that technology result in masses of polymers – literally thousands of layers – some of them only a few molecules thick. Dr Ahmad has managed to make it so that these polymers react to electronic pulses like the kind from a human brain to its body’s muscles, making the polymer “skin” or membrane expand or contract in response to those electronic pulses. Continue reading
The living dead emerging from The Dead Pit (1989)
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues! If you’re like me you’re bored with zombies and pseudo-zombies. The 21st Century is as mired in tiresome, cookie-cutter zombie flicks as the 1980s were in tiresome, cookie-cutter slasher flicks.
Here is a look at seven films which, while technically classified as zombie movies at least adopt unique perspectives and don’t follow established formulas.
THE DEAD PIT (1989) – This horror film was the directorial debut of the very prolific director Brett Leonard. While not a four-star movie The Dead Pit is enjoyable enough for the Halloween Season and should certainly appeal to anyone into 1980s horror flicks. This movie’s hybrid of zombie elements and slasher elements is both its charm AND the reason behind its love-it-or-hate-it status.
Don’t expect non-stop Resident Evil-level action but DO expect to see some in-your-face gore very early in the flick for lovers of guts and decomposition. A physician (Dr Swan) at a mental hospital discovers the secret sub-basement where a rival MD (Dr Ramzi) is subjecting hopeless patients to horrific experiments involving a combination of science and the supernatural. Continue reading
LA MALROCHE (1833) – By Louisa Stuart Costello. Halloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with yet another look at a neglected work of Gothic Horror, this one dealing with witchcraft, a monstrous child and supernatural beasts. Louisa Costello, the female author of this eerie tale, deserves to be much better known.
La Malroche refers to a mountain in a dreaded and generally avoided area of 1830s France. At the foot of that mountain is the town of Escures, where only people too poor to have fled the area still live. Also near the foot of La Malroche is the home of the witch called La Bonne Femme (“The Good Woman”) by the local citizenry, a title bestowed on her out of fear rather than merit. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween will as usual feature reviews of horror stories and movies sprinkled in with my usual topics. This year I’m starting off with Brightburn.
BRIGHTBURN (2019) – This mid-level budget movie has been criminally underrated in my opinion. Its horror twist on the usual superhero story (especially Superman) is well-handled and should have been just the thing audiences flocked to for a change of pace from the flood of superhero movies in recent years.
The film skillfully combines horror with science fiction and Jackson A Dunn as the alien child Brandon makes for the creepiest kid this side of Damien in The Omen. The kills in Brightburn are fairly gory but only in one instance is it dwelt upon, and the scene definitely earns that emphasis.
Right up front I’ll mention that you do have to make with a BIG suspension of disbelief. The movie asks viewers to accept the premise that in this age of unending documentation and requirements for child vaccinations that a childless couple could successfully do a fake adoption of a baby from outer space whose spaceship crashed near their farmhouse.
At any rate the couple, the Breyers, live in a remote small-town in Kansas, so if you really have to, you can assume that has helped them carry out their deception. That town is named Brightburn, which provides the film with its title. Continue reading
September 27th-29th in Alpharetta, Georgia it’s the 6th edition of Monsterama. Guests will include cult figures Jane Merrow, Trina Parks, Jackie Joseph, Pauline Peart, Katie Carpenter, Ian Ogilvey and Mark Maddox.
Representatives from film, literature, television, gaming, comic books and the arts will be there.
There will be exhibits, autograph signings and contests being judged once again by figures from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. And among the films being screened are the 1929 version of Mysterious Island plus Revenge of the Creature.
FOR MORE DETAILS Continue reading
“Maldoror and His Smile” by Lord Orlando
Balladeer’s Blog has done a comprehensive examination of The Songs of Maldoror, often referred to as just Maldoror. The original 1868 French language work by the self-designated Count de Lautreamont (real name Isidore Ducasse) was in verse form, which is great for poetry geeks like me but if you prefer prose there are plenty of prose translations available.
This work of surreal horror was so far ahead of its time that the author himself, in one of the few existing copies of his correspondence, expressed fears that he might be jailed or thrown into an insane asylum and requested that the publisher literally “stop the presses.” Just 88 copies of the book were completed in that initial run and for a few decades The Songs of Maldoror languished in obscurity.
By the 1890s those few copies of Maldoror had been circulating among the more adventurous literati of the time period and the work began to be hailed as a forgotten masterpiece by Maeterlink, Bloy, Huysmans and de Gourmont. This new acclaim ultimately resulted in a new run of copies – this time in the thousands instead of dozens like the first run. This also accounts for why some reviewers mistakenly refer to The Songs of Maldoror as an 1890s work, despite its original publication date of 1868. Continue reading
The latest attempt at cramming the X-Men’s lengthy, years-long Dark Phoenix storyline into one movie is now in theaters. With everybody reviewing that cram course Balladeer’s Blog will instead take a look at the female Phoenix character from the original 1966-1971 run of Dark Shadows.
Amazingly enough, I often encounter people who claim to have never heard of the Gothic Horror soap opera Dark Shadows. Not the original 5-day a week cult series (still available in reruns), not the movies, not the attempted reboot in 1991 and not the ongoing series of audio plays set in the 1970s onward. If anything they’ve heard of the incredibly lame Tim Burton comedy version of the show starring Johnny Depp.
Decades before Bella Swan was torn between a supposedly hunky vampire and a supposedly hunky werewolf in the Twilight novels, female readers of Tiger Beat magazine were torn between Dark Shadows‘ horror heart-throbs. Jonathan Frid’s vampire Barnabas Collins was one and David Selby’s werewolf/ warlock/ Dorian Gray-figure Quentin Collins was the other.
In terms of female horror heart-throbs from Dark Shadows, Lara Parker’s evil witch Angelique is the best known, but obviously this post will address the unusual supernatural menace the Phoenix, aka Laura Collins, played by Diana Millay (right) on the original Dark Shadows.
In Dark Shadows lore Laura Collins was sold to a Phoenix Cult in Egypt in the 1700s by her evil lover, for whom she had abandoned her husband back in America. The cult used Laura as an offering/ guinea pig, transforming her into a supernatural figure called the Phoenix. Continue reading