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The Lords of Salem : Rob Zombie Gone Wild

I’ve been a fan of Rob Zombie ever since I heard Thunder Kiss ’65 back in the grunge days of 1992. Hell, when my girls were born, I used to rock them to sleep to White Zombie. And believe it or not, they fell asleep like little angels while he channeled Blade Runner and chanted he was More Human Than Human.

When he made his directorial debut with House of 1000 Corpses, I was the first in line. I knew the backstory in getting that movie made (Hollywood nightmare), and even though it was choppy and strange, I dug it. When he unleashed The Devil’s Rejects on the world, I knew he had arrived. That was one sick, twisted flick. And I still attest that his hillbilly horror take on the Halloween movies would be appreciated even more if they weren’t remakes of a legendary franchise.

Lords of Salem

When I first heard about The Lords of Salem, I jumped out of my skin, itching to plug myself into Zombie’s distorted view on witches in Salem. It stars, of course, his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, as a Salem DJ called Heidi who shares the airwaves with Dawn of the Dead’s own Ken Foree and Jeff Daniel Phillips (who could double for Rob Zombie). One of the things I love most about Zombie is his knowledge of the horror and 70’s exploitation genres and devotion to the stars who helped build them. This time around, he employs Dee Wallace (The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes), Judy Geeson (It Happened One Night) and Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as a trio of sisters with something nefarious on their minds. It also stars Meg Foster as a beyond filthy, evil witch from centuries past. I met her last year at a horror con and thought she was the sweetest person on earth. I couldn’t believe what I saw on the screen was the same woman!

Here’s the premise : A mysterious vinyl album shows up at the radio station one night. When it’s played on the air, various women around Salem become entranced, having visions of pornographic witchly ceremonies in the 1600s. There’s a strong tie between Heidi and the man responsible for the Salem With Trials and the girl is about to go on an acid trip through hell to find out what it all means.

I came ouf of The Lords of Salem with my head spinning. The imagery here is graphic high-strangeness, and at times, unsettling. It has a very 70’s B movie pastiche and will leave you feeling like you just double-downed on acid.

SherriAt times, the narrative felt a little disjointed and Sheri Moon’s performance, finally not playing a murderous psychotic or stripper, is a little better than I thought it would be, but not strong enough to give her character the gravitas it needed. It’s not a scary movie, per se, but it does provide enough fuel for many nightmares to come. If a Rob Zombie song could weave itself to life, this is exactly what it would look and sound like.

I think most people are going to have a hard time wrapping their heads around this one. It’s great for me, but too odd for normal folk. And that’s just fine. The day Rob Zombie makes a movie for the masses, ala crap like Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer, I’m catching the next comet to the far reaches of space. Humanity will have lost all meaning for me.

You need to go into it not expecting it to be a major feature cranked out by the Hollywood hit – I mean schlock – machine. Picture yourself in the back of a car at a dirty drive-in and enjoy.

John Carpenter Warped My Youth

I know that seems a harsh thing to say, but it’s true. Oh, he wasn’t alone with shattering my expectations of the genre I loved most, horror. But damn if he wasn’t the biggest influence on my entire generation.

When I try to list the top 20 horror films of my teen years, J.C. dominates. If I whittle it down to my top 10 of all time, he’s still the master. As a writer, director and musician, he’s the one I think of when I conjure up the images and sounds of the boogeyman and impending doom. The man was at the top of the heap for two decades, which is about a decade and 5 years more than most.

The Monster Men recently dedicated an episode to singing his praises. I can’t believe it took us 30+ episodes to do it, but better late than never. You can watch the video here.

My goal today is to give you a moment to stop and admire the filmography of one of the best in the biz. My first exposure to the legend was, naturally, Halloween. That movie defined the slasher flick, spawning hundreds of imitations. Shot in just a few weeks, it isn’t the least bit dated and is terrifying a new generation. As an added bonus, it gave us Jamie Lee Curtis! Big score. When I was a kid, my friend bought a William Shatner mask and painted it white with house paint so he could be Michael Meyers for Halloween. The dude nearly passed out from the fumes. I think he even puked a couple of times. But the mask was awesome.

Halloween_cover

Carpenter followed that up with The Fog, again with Jamie Lee and the seductive Adrienne Barbeau. Undead pirates seeking revenge on a sleepy little town. What’s not to like? John Carpenter was married to Adrienne for some time, which is why you see her in a few of his films. In fact, if John liked you, you could expect to be in quite a few of his movies. The man is loyal as hell.

Escape From New York is one badass of a flick. Snake Plissken could wipe out Al Queda singlehandedly and solve the debt crisis. “I’m the Duke of New York, A Number One!” For a whole year after that came out, you would hear me or one of my friends daily say, “Call me Snake.”

escape from ny

Now comes one of my all time favorite movies, The Thing. Growing up in my house, the original Thing was sacred, so we went to the movie with some trepidation. Carpenter pulled off the rare feat of creating a remake a thousand times better than the original. Great characters, fantastic monster effects for its time, and of course, Kurt Russell with a kick ass hat and a flame thrower. This and Escape From New York made Russell the epitome of the tough guy that every dude wanted to be in the 80s. The Thing is horror and sci-fi perfection. I actually heard people gagging in the theater when the monster was revealed for the first time. Nice.

The ThingPoster

Next was a string of more hits like Christine (Stephen King’s killer car flick), Starman and Big Trouble in Little China (more Kurt Russell!).

They Live, a movie about aliens that have infiltrated our lives and can only be seen with a special pair of sunglasses, was great because it starred my favorite wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper. Yes, it’s silly, but it also good fun. And it gave us the immortal line : “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

The Prince of Darkness is a creepy tale about the devil and a desperate race to stop a plague of evil that will consume the world. I just rewatched it recently, and now that I’m older with a firmer grasp of theology, it gave me even more chills.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Assault on Precinct 13, which I attest is actually a zombie movie, and maybe one of the best ever made. Towards the end of his run, Carpenter directed Vampires, a decent adaptation of John Steakley’s avant garde novel. I’ve never been able to look at James Woods the same way.

These aren’t all of John Carpenter’s movies, but they are the best of the best. Thank you J.C. for making me the horror junkie that I am. The big question is, who is going to be the one to fill his shoes? I’m not sure I see anyone on the horizon. Some might say Eli Roth, but I think he has more to prove. What do you think?

And what are some of your favorite John Carpenter movies and moments? If you need time to mull it over, play the soundtrack to Halloween in the background to help speed things up.

Evil Eternal Giveaway, Horror Cons, Movies, Ghosts and More

First let me kick things off by having a little giveaway this week. Evil Eternal, my little ode to demon slaying, is going to be in print on September 2nd. Thank you to everyone who bought the e-book. Now, as an author, my hot little hands get advance print copies of my books.

I’d like to give a signed copy away to one of you out there in blogger land. Entering the contest is muy simple. All you have to do is click on the book cover right here. That will take you to the Amazon page. Once you’re there, all I ask is that you give it a Like, then share it either through Twitter, FB, on Pinterest. If you hover on the Like button, icons to share through any of those will appear.

Once you’re done, just throw a comment here that you did it and you’re eligible. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, August 29th. It will be shipped out the next day. Scout’s honor.

This coming Friday, I’ll be heading to Gettysburg, PA to attend the Horrorffind Weekend. I’ll be with a crazy group of Samhain authors signing books, doing readings and having a ton of fun. Horrorfind weekend is my favorite weekend of the year. Hope you can attend! Then, the following Friday, I’m off to Indianapolis, home of cafeteria style food, to represent Samhain and meet the cast of Aliens at the Horrorhound Weekend Convention. It will be my first Horrorhound and I hear it’s enormous.

I was fortunate enough to do something super cool this week. I was invited to be a member of a paranormal panel for the NY Spotlight on Success show down at Chelsea Manor in NYC. Big thanks to Diana and Joe for letting me and my Monster Men brother Jack talk about all things ghostly. We had a blast, got to check out the ‘haunted’ spots in the club, and met a ton of great peeps, including paranormal researchers Dan Sturges, Laurence Hewett, and psychics Michelle Dauria and Krystin Reilly.

Aside from finishing what I hope is the final round of edits on my kids horror story, and getting ready to write another novella and novel, I’ve been recharging my brain by watching movies. What keeps little Hunter going? Here’s a sample along with my 3 word review. So, what are you watching?

Fantastic, creepy story!

Decent psychological thriller.

Lost slasher gem.

Oddly scary indy.

15 Scary Movies To See Before Halloween

As Jack was going through the Monster Men files, he found this episode that we had filmed and somehow forgotten. Lucky for us, it’s as timeless as Raquel Welch’s beauty. This time around, we go into the elements that make a wicked horror flick, and reveal our list of 15 must-see scary movies.

And here’s a drinking game you can play while you watch: One shot for every time you hear my cat scratching on the door, and one beer for every candy corn Jack and I eat. Guaranteed, you’ll pass out before you get to the 5 minute mark!

So, what scary movies would make your list?

 

And a big thank you to everyone who Liked the Amazon page for Evil Eternal and Forest of Shadows. Gotta keep that big mo’ rolling. Share pages when you can for any Samhain horror books and spread the word. There’s a new monster in town, and it’s name is Samhain!

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