Tag Archives: Halloween

Halloween Review: MY PRETTY VAMPIRE

My Pretty Vampire

My Pretty Vampire. by Katie Skelly. Fantagraphics Books. Seattle. softcover, 2018. 108pp, $16.99.

Katie Skelly is a cartoonist that I admire a lot. I was looking over my library of books and it occurrs to me that My Pretty Vampire is just the right book for Halloween. Of course, it’s right for any season, but the point is that Katie Skelly’s uncanny work is especially delicious at this time of year. If my web presence is helpful to you, well, then I find it most rewarding to share with you fellow cartoonists of this caliber. Basically, Skelly pulls together elements from many areas, both high and low culture. Her style is very smooth and clean. If you appreciate horror in its many forms, then you know that the good stuff can get pretty deep. Well, that is absolutely the case with this book. Even if you just give it a quick casual scan, you can’t help but sense there’s more than meets the eye. Skelly’s style defies easy categorization. I see hints of Edward Gorey or Dame Darcy or Richard Sala. Ultimately, Katie Skelly has put in the time, absorbed numerous influences, and emerged with a distinctive vision.

Highbrow Meets Lowbrow.

I love the irreverent vibe running throughout this book. You aren’t suppose to take anything too seriously. At the same time, the comic casts its spell upon the reader. The reader becomes immersed in the strange and creepy narrative. The deeper one gets into the story, the reader discovers a far more esoteric world than expected in the typical horror genre.

More Than Meets The Eye.

My Pretty Vampire is a beautifully pared-down work in comics with a unique haunting quality. Take any page at random and you can hang it up on a gallery wall. That is not an easy thing to accomplish. Some comics just aren’t meant to show in a gallery while some work, like Skelly’s, infused with such a rich assortment of elements, has the substance it takes to hold up to closer scrutiny.

When Horror is More than Horror.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Katie Skelly’s most recent graphic novel, just out this month, Maids, published by Fantagraphics Books.

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Review: ‘Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter’

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter. Written by Brea Grant. Art by Yishan Li. Six Foot Press. Houston. 2020. 144pp, $18.99.

On my radar right now is a graphic novel about a teenage girl who is a direct descendant of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and has to deal with the pressure of living up to the name. She doesn’t see a career in writing in her future, worries about what her big purpose in life might be, and then she discovers she has special powers that help heal monsters. It turns out to be a really well put together read that is suitable for any age and, of course, a perfect book as we celebrate Halloween. But, beyond that holiday, this is also a wonderful gateway book to a better appreciation of reading, writing and the joy of books so it is totally something to be enjoyed by young readers, ages 12-18.

Good things come to life!

The winning combination of writer Brea Grant and artist Yishan Li makes this book very appealing. I sincerely believe you can create magic by teaming up two powerhouse talents who are genuinely having fun. This is such a book. And why? Well, there’s an endless number of ways to create a graphic novel but the notable ones manage to grab your attention in some unusual and distinctive way. Brea Grant has a very accessible and conversational style of writing. Yishan Li compliments this with her own very warm and personal style of drawing. Both manage to welcome and engage the reader. Even a somewhat jaded middle-aged guy like me will respond positively to this kind of presentation.

A most engaging graphic novel!

The opening page grabs the reader with plenty of fun and intriguing elements. We see what looks like a spooky shrine to all things Frankenstein and Mary Shelley. A couple of more panels and we get a close-up view of an oil painting portrait of Shelley. She, of course, says, “Hello.” It’s going to be that kind of book which we love, right? Just as much as we love the creepy vibe running throughout Netflix’s Bly Manor. A few more pages in and we see that a petite Goth girl is to be our main character. We go through some family history. And then, just as we’re settling in – Zap! – Mary has somehow achieved a cosmic connection with her frog specimen for Biology class. Something very unusual is happening and that’s just the start of it. Before long, Mary is becoming acquainted with a whole universe of monsters who are all relying upon her to cure their ills!

This is, as I say, an exceptional book. I go through quite a lot of books and I really need a wow factor to get my attention. I think the main reason that this is the right stuff is the book’s originality and sense of humor. Sure, we’ve all been down many a Sabrina-like road. The thing is, there’s room for more if done right. There’s a fresh approach here that wins me over much like all the attention to detail you find in a John Hughes film. I dare you to watch the last ten minutes of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and not be blown away by the impeccable timing. There’s a good amount of that to be found in this book. I think, for example, of the banter between Mary and Polly, a very smelly and anti-social harpy. Or, I really enjoyed some of the more subtle touches like the set-up establishing Mary’s mom engrossed in work on her laptop even while supernatural laser beams are darting across. This book is hard to resist, whether or not it’s Halloween.

For more information, go to Six Foot Press right here.

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VICE Releases the New VICE Guide to Comics, Horror Edition

Dick Briefer's FRANKENSTEIN

Dick Briefer’s FRANKENSTEIN

Just in time for Halloween, VICE’s art editor, Nick Gazin, shares his list of the top five scariest horror comics. With horror comics being dismissed by many as just a junk genre, there was a golden opportunity to fill that void and create great art using strange artistic styles. Nick provides a quick history lesson, and an unexpected treat among his choices. He also wears some big toothy fangs all for your enjoyment.

VICE Guide to Comics: The Top Five Scariest Horror Comics is right HERE.

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Everyone Can Enjoy Cosplay at PureCostumes.com

Deluxe Darth Vader Adult Costume available at PureCostumes.com

Deluxe Darth Vader Adult Costume available at PureCostumes.com

Cosplay is for everyone at PureCostumes.com. It can be anytime and anywhere. If you feel like dressing up as Darth Vader, just go for it. I know I’d like to. And there’s so much more to find at this unique outlet for all kinds of costumes.

Steampunk Fantasy Adult Costume from California Costumes available at PureCostumes.com

Steampunk Fantasy Adult Costume from California Costumes available at PureCostumes.com

Let’s say you’re into steampunk, PureCostumes.com has got you covered with the steampunk costumes by California Costumes. The key is in all the details and this year will see a bunch of new styles that are sure to please any steampunk enthusiast.

Pinky Pie Adult Costume available at PureCostumes.com

Pinky Pie Adult Costume available at PureCostumes.com

Keep browsing and you are bound to find something that strikes your fancy. Maybe you’re a fan of My Little Pony. Then check out all the options, from the youngest fans to adult fans, at PureCostumes.com.

Spider-Man costume available at PureCostumes.com

Spider-Man costume available at PureCostumes.com

Or maybe you’re looking for something classic, like a Spider-Man costume. You can find it right here.

Minions costumes available at PureCostumes.com

Minions costumes available at PureCostumes.com

With something for the whole family, PureCostumes is definitely your one-stop-shop. So, the next time you’re feeling like cosplay, go visit PureCostumes right here.

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Filed under Comic-Con, Comics, Cosplay, Costumes, Halloween, Holidays, Lifestyle, pop culture, Purecostumes.com

Review: GHOST STALKERS: ‘The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,’ Sunday, November 2, on Destination America

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

I love me some good ghostbustin’ TV action. If I’m going to commit some sit down time, I’m really hoping for a good effort with credible jargon and gadgets and true-believers as guides to build up the suspense. In the latest episode of “Ghost Stalkers,” we get some good stuff with “The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,” which airs on Sunday, November 2, at 10/9c on Destination America. The title brings it home conjuring up thoughts of Scooby and the gang.

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Movie Review: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-2014

“Blood Ransom” is a slow burn crime thriller that fearlessly takes on the whole vampire genre. As if oblivious to “Twilight,” this vampire love story is a noir-tinged offbeat adventure harking back to the ’70s. It’s got your basic adreniline-fuled plot, vampire gang vs. the one guy who might make a difference, plus a bunch of quirky twists. And much of what makes this work is a strong cast, starring Alexander Dreymon, as the lone wolf hero, in love with Anne Curtis, as the mysterious vampire vixen.

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Horror Movies 2014: THE BABADOOK Arrives November 28, 2014 (Theatrical and VOD); October 30 (DirectTV)

The-Babadook-IFC-Midnight

Editor’s Note: Read my review of “The Babadook” right here.

IFC Midnight has got you covered for Halloween and beyond with a new genre film called THE BABADOOK.

Kim Newman, of EMPIRE MAGAZINE, describes it as, “one of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years – with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly-designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade.”

The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival Midnight Section and it absolutely terrified audiences ever since. The film is a psychological thriller in the tradition of Polanski’s classic domestic horror (Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, Repulsion). In addition, The BABADOOK just won the “Best Horror Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress” Awards at the 2014 Fantastic Fest. The film is coming out theatrically on November 28th but it also has an exclusive debut with Direct TV starting October 30th so Direct TV subscribers will have a chance to catch the film in their home on Halloween!

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Horror Movies 2014: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon to Premiere in L.A. on October 28, 2014

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-LA-Premiere

We all love a good horror movie. Keep an eye out for “Blood Ransom,” which will hit select theaters on Halloween in North America, Friday, October 31, 2014.

“Blood Ransom” will have its premiere in L.A. at Arclight Hollywood, 6360 W Sunset Blvd, on October 28, 2014, at 8pm. It stars Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story: Coven & BBC America series The Last Kingdom), Philippine’s #1 actress & People Asia’s National Sweetheart, Anne Curtis.

Blood Ransom tells the story of Jeremiah, caught in the middle of an ill-fated plot to kidnap Crystal, his boss Roman’s beautiful young girlfriend. If that isn’t complicated and dangerous enough, there are some pretty fierce vampires to deal with too.

For more information, visit the Blood Ransom website here.

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Interview: Director Eduardo Rodriguez and ‘Fright Night 2: New Blood’

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Eduardo Rodriguez is the director of the latest “Fright Night” movie and it’s really good. “Fright Night 2: New Blood” has style and a nice mix of horror and humor. I had the opportunity to talk with Rodriguez about his career, horror movies, and even what he’s currently reading. We also chatted about Jaime Murray, who plays the professor with an evil secret in “Fright Night 2: New Blood.” Was it just me, or was I onto something when I suggested that Jaime Murray would make an excellent Lisa in a remake of “Weird Science”? Rodriguez agrees with me, Murray would make a great Lisa. And, just so we’re clear, there will be a remake of this John Hughes classic.

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Back to our subject, Eduardo Rodriguez has made some very cool movies with an intense vibe to them, like “Stash House,” “The Messengers,” and “El Gringo.” It is safe to say that he has a taste for action, horror, and the offbeat. It is a treat to get to listen to him relate his student days and then compare that to being a professional. And it’s fun to listen to a pro praise something current like, “The Conjuring.” Clearly, he comes across as someone who loves a good story. And it was nice to have him share with us what he’s currently reading, “Unwelcome Bodies,” by Jennifer Pelland.

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

Rodriguez has come a long way in his career. He advises those in film school to cherish their time in school since those days don’t come back. He sounds quite happy with where he is now. It does look like he has a great career ahead of him. I went back and discovered one of the movies that Rodriguez worked on, “The Messengers.” That has got to be a very scary movie. I have yet to see it and will need to get back to you on it. Here’s a trailer:

Here is a link to the full interview:

“Fright Night 2: New Blood” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on October 1. You can read my review here.

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Review: DARK COUNTRY graphic novel by Thomas Ott, Tab Murphy and Thomas Jane

There is “Dark Country,” the 2009 movie. And now there is “Dark Country,” the graphic novel. The fascinating thing here is that the graphic novel, while linked to the movie, has a life very much its own. It’s really cool when that happens because that’s really what should always happen. This leaves me in an slightly awkward position of having seen the movie and read the new graphic novel. Should I compare them? I will only say a little bit about the movie. First off, you definitely get entertainment value from it. This is a perfect teen flick, a  great drive-thru movie (if there are still any such things) and a just plain fun horror movie. But, I have to say, for my taste, it suffers from a lack of focus. I don’t totally buy into it being noir. There are moments when either humorous dialogue or poor choices in background music are too jarring. There are times when it seems to veer off into experimental theater. So, the movie unfortunately is not as tightly paced as it should be. However, it’s fun and the graphic novel does totally add up. It really is a whole other animal.

What first attracted me to the graphic novel is the cover art and this quickly led to the art within. Thomas Ott has a very gritty style, as you may know, very well-suited for noir and horror. In fact, Thomas Jane, the director and star of the original “Dark Country,” was very inspired by Ott’s work when he directed the movie and was already contemplating a graphic novel version illustrated by Ott. So, yeah, the movie and the graphic novel are quite inextricably linked. It makes me want to say only kind words about the movie. But, look at it this way, “Dark Country” was Mr. Jane’s first movie and he has a whole career ahead of him. It is within reason to expect some things falling a little short. In the case of Mr. Ott, this guy is so prolific and has been around for so many years that he’s at a master’s level in his craft. Where the movie has its share of peaks and valleys, Ott’s work keeps moving and building never missing a beat.

The story itself, I should tell you, is a prime example of solid pulp fiction. You have it stripped down to the essentials: a man; a woman; sex; suspicious circumstances. The two of them hop into a car and drive away from Vegas in the middle of the night. There’s the man. There’s the woman. There’s what they most share in common: sex. We observe them together and another thing that they seem to share a lot: an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration mixed with despair. And then something very sinister and tragic happens. The original short story by Tab Murphy, the movie and the graphic novel veer off, here and there, with some minor variations on what happens next.

What’s great about this book is that, not only do you get the work of the masterful Mr. Ott, you basically get what amounts to a little film school in a book. Included is the original short story by Tab Murphy, a legendary screenwriter for Disney and DC Comics, plus you get some insightful essays and behind-the-scenes observations, and storyboards, from the movie. All in all, a wonderful package and it leaves you cheering on all the talent involved. This is a great buy when the Halloween mood strikes you or, let’s face it, any time you’d like a good scare.

“Dark Country” is published by Raw Studios.

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