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SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOUL

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Heya, Dreadites. Sean “The Butcher” Smithson here with the second installment of my new ongoing column, SCARE-RIFF-EYEING: Musical Abominations Horror Fans Should Be Killing For and Dying Over. This week we get so damned bloody it’s funny and so fuckin’ heavy it’s criminal. You’ve been warned; now enter freely and of your own will…

Question: What has eight arms, 32 fingers, a collective half-a-brain, wears rotted flannel, and lives off human entrails and Snickers bars?

Answer: I don’t know, but it’s crawled up on the stage, and it’s plugging in!

Creepsylvania is home to many colorful and interesting tales, not the least amusing of which is the widely held conviction that there are four “Ghouls” living in the extensive, uncharted catacombs that honeycomb the earth underneath Monture Noire Cemetery.

These creatures are said by the natives to feed on dead things in the graveyard and are believed by many to venture into town at night to snatch babies from their cribs and murder innocent villagers. The visual evidence for the existence of the Ghouls is abundant, but much of it has been proven to be the product of a clever hoax.

It’s no hoax, folks (say that ten times, fast). There is an undead, quadra-headed, four-hooded horror dwelling in the catacombs beneath the beet farms of Creepsylvania. And with amps turned up to thirteen, this monstrous abnormality is cranking out some of the most vicious, and fun, riffage ever to move a mosh pit.

That sound? Well, victims, that’s the last sound you hear before you die.

That’s the sound of … GHOUL.


SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOULIn the grand ol’ tradition of Alice Cooper, KISS, Green Jelly, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, and GWAR, GHOUL is as much a concept as a band. With a constantly expanding false mythology of potentially Tolkien-esque proportions (that is, if Tolkien were a malformed, inbred, cannibalistic hydrocephalus mongoloid, addicted to the screams of burning babies and the smell of his own farts), GHOUL “mastermind” (Now there’s an oxymoron, emphasis on the “moron”. Huzzah!) Sean McGrath, aka Digestor, is slowly building a universe worthy of, well, I dunno … Attention? Fear? Your financial support via CD sales and t-shirt orders? YES! But it’s also just plain neat-o, too, any way you chop it up.

Though heavily theatrical, musically speaking, GHOUL has nothing to do with the archaic posturing of KISS or the hammy glam vamp of Marilyn Manson. GHOUL is simple, tight, powerful, old-school thrash filtered through a morbid and slapstick-ish sense of humor, which comes out in the bands lyrics. With song titles like “Suspicious Chunks”, “Numbskull”, and “Gutbucket Blues”, bloody tongue is planted firmly in rotting cheek. Imagine Rodney Dangerfield playing Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th Part 2 while singing about torch ‘n fork wielding villagers, crystal skulls, ancient curses, using posers for stew meat, and the beauty of nuclear devastation in a voice that’s a cross between the apocalypse itself and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Serve over breakneck speed riffage that collides into mosh euphoria, and now you’re getting some kind of idea. This stuff would even make your grandma get up and skank around the room. Hearkening back to the legendary and lean early years of bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Anthrax, D.R.I., Exodus, Megadeth, Slayer, Fear, GBH, Fang, and so on, GHOUL is a crossover geek’s wet dream.

These guys in disguise are no Furries or CosPlay dorks, though. All urge to play dress-up aside, GHOUL also has what many of their costumed counterparts don’t … and that is the music to back up the goofball antics. With riffs muscular enough to reduce giant killer robots to piles of clinking clanking junk and hooks big enough to land a giant sea monster with, these four gonzoid masked maniacs kill in more ways than one. It’s uncommonly well written stuff, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best of the neo-thrash movement happening right now. The jams are crushing, absolutely standing on their own, and just as badass as any of the stuff they, at times, pay homage to.

With three albums in their canon, there’s a lot to catch up on if GHOUL is new to you. The first album, We Came for the Dead, is a raw one-man project. Just McGrath, aka Digestor, a grip of mean-ass riffs, and a drum machine. Still great stuff, and some fans’ favorite to this day for its pummeling brutality, We Came for the Dead has more in common with gore-grind legends Autopsy and Impetigo than S.O.D. or Metallica. It does, however, contain a cover of the classic Megadeth song “Skull Beneath the Skin” complete with slobbery death growl vocals and guttural guitars that must be heard to be believed.

SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOUL

Some may actually recognize McGrath’s name, as he is also the singer/guitarist for well known death metal act Impaled, who are also in need of “professional help” as their sick and twisted sense of humor permeates all they do … or dooh dooh, if you will. It must be something in the water. But that’s another story. I digress –

Sean, deciding to make GHOUL more than a one off, chose to continue the carnage by bringing over Impaled bassist, Ross Sewage, aka Cremator (also of the black metallurgists Ludicra … yep, these guys realllllly get around, kind of like a bad disease), and together they recorded the second album, Maniaxe, which saw GHOUL slowing down the tempo a little and upping the moshability. GHOUL became a live act around this time but had trouble securing a permanent line-up, going through a few hoods until the right people fell, or were tied, into place. Once local punk-rock guitarist Dan Randall, aka Dissector, and drummer Dino Semmese, aka Fermentor, were, um, secured, the current members gelled in time to record the insanely awesome Splatterthrash, which got many rave reviews (5 out of 5 skulls in the hallowed Rue Morgue Magazine!), increased their growing fanbase considerably, and solidified GHOUL as an actual gigging band.

SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOUL

Also an illustrator and a huge fan of stuff like the classic EC horror comics, the Marx Brothers films, and MAD Magazine, Sean clearly displays these influences as he continues to flesh out an already fanboy-friendly back story with each new GHOUL album. An ever-growing plethora of supporting characters populate the mythos, adding more and more detail and depth to the realms of Creepsylvania. There is the evil Swamp Hag. And the mysterious Curio Shop Owner. As well as the cunning Ghoul Hunter. All springing from the sick thoughts and sad sack daydreams of one lonely loser who, at times, calls himself Digestor.

SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOULAnd now? Now the nightmare is real. Having toured the US and Europe, the unliving, fetid-breathed, pus-pulsed, blood-soaked parody of all that is pure has indeed stepped out of the speakers, into the light, and onto the stage.

Thrash for your lives! Thrash for GHOUL!!!

Bring on the board game. Let’s see the comic book. I want the toy line. And a new record! Word on the Creepsylavanian news-wire is the fearsome foursome are sequestered in their secret cavernous lair concocting new cacophonous compositions as I write, but for now, check out the back catalog at the official GHOUL site and sample some of their terrifying tunes at GHOUL’s MySpace page.

It’s infectious. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Discography: We Came for the Dead, Maniaxe, Splatterthrash

See also: Anthrax, Megadeth, D.R.I., Engorged (US), Freddy Krueger’s Underwear, S.O.D., Full Moon Video, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Municipal Waste, EC Comics, Sergio Aragones.

Recommended enhancers: A keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a pile of dollar burgers, chicken crank, brown weed, Early Times bourbon, Drain-o-tinis, incestuous necrophilia.


Check out the video below for a taste of GHOUL. Go on! Open up and take a biiiiiiiig bite! It’s also documented proof that giant killer robots read Dread Central!


GHOUL – Live at the Oakland Metro, 10/31/07
Uploaded by dreadcentral. – Watch more music videos, in HD!

Check back in two weeks for another edition of SCARE-RIFF-EYEING!

Sean Smithson

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Tribeca 2018: The Dark Review – Atmospheric Zombie Horror Done Different

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Starring Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols

Written by Justin P. Lange

Directed by Justin P. Lange


The zombie subgenre often goes through waves where it focuses on one aspect that changes the status quo before overdoing it completely. Romero’s slow shuffling zombies were the norm until we got fast moving zombies with Return of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later. There was even a period where we had smarter zombies, like in Fido and Warm Bodies. Now it seems like we’re about to enter an era where the undead are meant to elicit emotion, making us feel for those who have no feelings themselves. Such is the case with Justin P. Lange’s The Dark.

The film follows Mina (Alexander), a young woman who was murdered and stalks the forest that saw her demise. Anytime some unfortunate soul enters her area, they are quickly dispatched and become her feast. But when she stumbles across a young boy named Alex (Nichols) in the back of a car who shows signs of clear and horrifying abuse, she can’t bring herself to do away with him. Rather, she becomes his protector while trying to protect her own little world. As police and locals search for Alex to help bring him home, their own growing relationship seems to be changing Mina in ways she never thought possible.

Stylishly shot by cinematographer Klemens Hufnagl (The Eremites, Macondo), The Dark lives and breathes along with the forest in which it spends the majority of its time. The film feels very natural, as though no artificial lighting was used and we are brought into the world in which these characters live. Steel blue washes over the screen as dusk turns into night while light and dark contrast during the day. The only visuals that didn’t play well were Mina’s undead look and Alex’s scarred eyes, which were both distracting but possible to be overlooked.

Both Alexander and Nichols performed well enough, although the film spent too much time on the first two acts of their story, their combative phase and then the period where they build trust, leaving them scrambling at the end to show that they not only trust but are reliant upon each other. Alex finds trust in Mina after his horrific ordeal while Mina’s choice to protect and guide him sees her humanity slowly coming back.

Where the film goes awry is that it doesn’t know how to convey its message. We learn that Mina’s death was the result of a sexual assault by her mother’s boyfriend, who can barely look Mina in the eyes, turns violent. Alex’s captor is also a man of violence but that’s mixed with weakness and timidity. This is a theme throughout the movie, where the adults are wicked and/or self-serving and it’s only these teenagers, who certainly have endured a fair share of suffering, can be seen as worthy of empathy and understanding.

Also present and enough to stay in the back of my mind while watching The Dark were the strange and inconsistent ways it handled time. We learn that Mina’s death was several years, possibly more than a decade, prior to where we see her now. But when presented with an iPhone, she first doesn’t know that it has a history of previously made calls and then, without anyone explaining it, she knows exactly how to use it. Meanwhile, Alex’s scars on his eyes, which the movie hints were done by his kidnapper, suggest that he’s been held captive for months if not longer but the the opening of the movie suggests that it’s been a few weeks, at most. While not overly distracting, these are certainly issues that pop out.

These faults aside, The Dark is still effective and emotionally charged. With enough kills to satisfy the bloodthirsty, it will certainly have an audience who love films about the undead but are craving something with a different taste.

  • The Dark
3.0

Summary

Poignant and original, The Dark is not without its flaws. But it sure does know that horror doesn’t have to be solely of the flesh. It can just as easily be horror of the heart.

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The Cast of Westworld Explains Why the Show Is a Must-Watch for Horror Fans

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“Westworld” Season 2 kicks off on Sunday, April 22nd at 9 PM on HBO, and fans of the high-concept sci-fi thriller are chomping at the bit; it’s understandable since Season 1 wrapped way back in late 2016.

While I have a wide definition of the term “horror”, believing it’s more of a sensation than a genre, many Dread Central readers may be wondering if a show about robot cowboys is worth their time and attention.

While I’d recommend “Westworld” to anyone who loves stylized violence, gore, and suspense, we challenged members of the cast to sell the series to potentially reluctant horror fans. How would they respond, for example, to a friend who dismisses the show because they watch horror almost exclusively?

Here are the responses we got from Luke Hemsworth (who plays Head of Security Ashley Stubbs), Angela Sarafyan (who plays host Clementine Pennyfeather), and Clifton Collins, Jr. (who plays both Lawrence and El Lazo).

Dread Central: Complete this sentence: “If you love horror movies, you should watch ‘Westworld’ because…”

Luke Hemsworth: If you love horror movies, you should watch “Westworld” because it’s really gory. It’s pretty dark and it’s also pretty smart.

Angela Sarafyan: You should definitely watch “Westworld” because it makes you face death. It’s a show that questions your mortality. The show not only projects these feelings, but makes you think about the boundlessness of human destruction and how far we can take our reality. Meaning: Will technology eventually be our destruction?

Clifton Collins, Jr: If you love horror movies, you should watch “Westworld” because the same rushes you get from scares in a horror movie, those thrilling and suspenseful events happen in the show. Just from reading it I can tell Season 2 is really cranked-up compared to Season 1. You’re going to have those moments where your heart palpitates or skips a beat and a lot of “Oh my gosh!” moments. There are some serious white-knuckle moments this season. It’s the same thrill you get from watching a horror film!


Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. “Westworld” — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris.

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New Interactive Xenomorph Game Launches This Alien Day

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Alien Day is rapidly approaching on April 26th and today we have news that a new first-of-its-kind interactive survival game is on its way via 20th Century Fox.

The game invites players to experience the intensity and imminent threats of Alien individually, or up to three players in collaborative gameplay and is called Alien: Offworld Colony Simulator. It’s a turned-based survival game that simulates a Weyland-Yutani Space Colony in security lockdown.

Weyland-Yutani is inviting civilians to participate in an open Beta test of “The Offworld Colony Simulator” – an advanced system that simulates security breach scenarios in non-terrestrial colonies. Those that participate in the Open Beta will help teach the system’s AI to accurately simulate human behavior in the face of otherworldly dangers.

Utilizing the Amazon Alexa service, players need to collect items, solve puzzles and explore unmarked territories to successfully move through the colony, unlock sectors, and avoid capture in a Xenomorph-infested space colony.

If you can’t wait until Alien Day, get a head start with the Weyland-Yutani Career Placement Test – a multi-question aptitude test to determine if applicants have what it takes for a role at the interplanetary Weyland-Yutani organization. Complemented with a sweepstakes, the test launches for fans on April 23 at AlienUniverse.com.

The game launches exclusively on Amazon Alexa Devices & Alienuniverse.com one minute prior to Alien Day at 11:59 PM ET on April 25th.

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