Vincent Price

Horror movies haven’t generally gotten any respect from the Oscars. Yeah, the Academy has tossed a handful of nominations to the genre over the years, but wins for anything other then technical matters have been few and far between. Back in 2010, they  attempted to make up for this with a montage of clips from classic horror movies. It was pretty decent – Jaws, The Blob, Nosferatu, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dracula, The Shining – but there was one colossal and unforgivable oversight….

Where was Vincent Price?

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The War of the Worlds – The Other Broadcasts

Orson Welles’ radio play based on H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is arguably the most famous radio program of all time. The Mercury Theater’s 1938 dramatization was so effective that people thought it was an actual news broadcast, and panic ensued. Though there is much debate over how widespread that panic was, it cannot be denied that many people thought that the Martians were actually invading. Wells at first claimed it was just an honest attempt at giving listeners an entertaining fright that got out of hand. Years later, he changed his tune to say that it was a deliberate attempt to show that people shouldn’t always take what they hear, see, or read in the media at face value.

If it indeed was an experiment in mass psychology, the results were dramatic. While a major principle in scientific research is that any experiment must be reproducible, it’s likely that no one would want to reproduce this particular experiment. After all, who wants to deliberately cause a panic? And given the notoriety of the original broadcast, any scientist or radio producer would be hard-pressed to find virgin ears on which to conduct a follow-up.

No one is going to fall for the same stunt twice, right?
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Movie Review: Ghostwatch (1992, UK)

The British make the best fake documentaries. There was the BBC’s “Spaghetti Harvest” of 1957 (which resulted in a flood of phone calls from people asking how they could grow their own spaghetti tree), and “Alternative 3”, a show on Anglia TV in 1977 that purported to uncover a secret plan to set up bases on the Moon and Mars (which despite including easily disprovable “facts” and a cast listing at the end is still taken seriously by some conspiracy nuts).

Then there was Ghostwatch

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The Six Types of Zombie

Judging by movies and television, everyone loves a good zombie. The walking, or perhaps shambling, shuffling dead, or undead, if you prefer…. Things that look like human beings but aren’t, so you can beat the crap out of them without any pangs of conscience.

Having done a bit of reading on the topic, I have concluded that there are actually six distinctly different types of zombie.

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Small Screen Scares – Part 1

Quite a few horror movies have turned into veritable franchises, with many sequels (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th leap instantly to mind). But even though television cannot reproduce many of the scares that movies can, there have been plenty of television shows that are just as loved and appreciated as some movies. Often, it doesn’t take more than a few notes of the theme music to bring back the memories.

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Movie Review: American Scary (2006)

Pretty much everyone – at least I hope so – is familiar with Cassandra Peterson’s character “Elvira”. The self-styled “Mistress of the Dark” gained fame for her obvious sex appeal while hosting cheap horror movies on syndicated television in the 1980s. The popularity of her shows made her a national icon for Halloween.

The tradition of “horror hosting” that she epitomized goes back much further; at least to the 1950s. American Scary is a documentary that looks at this American tradition as a form of entertainment worthy of our appreciation.

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Gothic Horror in Cinema

Last year, the British Film Institute had a months-long festival celebrating Gothic cinema. They produced an awesome trailer for it:

Even though the festival is over, they’ve still got a lot of the information up at the website – http://www.bfi.org.uk/gothic.

Now I could just share that with you and be done with it, but that’s a cop out. So I might as well pad things out with my thoughts on Gothic Horror, and how it works in movies.
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Recipes for a Halloween Party

It may just be me on the verge of becoming an Old Fogey, but it seems to me that the great tradition of sanctioned extortion known as “Trick or Treating” has fallen victim to societal changes and probably unjustified paranoia. That annual ritual has been replaced by Halloween parties.

Way back in the mists of time – about ten to fifteen years ago – the radio station WFMU hosted a Saturday morning kids show called “Greasy Kid Stuff”. It wasn’t your standard Disney-type music; instead the hosts played music for your inner child. They Might Be Giants, Kenny Young and the Eggplants, Jonathan Richman, Shonen Knife, et al. Anyway, every year the last show in October was devoted to Halloween music. One year, they gave some simple recipes for a kid’s Halloween party.

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