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5 Films to Satisfy Your New Year’s Eve Horror Needs

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On this New Year’s Eve, would you rather stay in and watch something spooky or spend your last hours (and dollars) of 2016 holed up in a bar or club? Nice choice… me too.

Here’s a short list of horror films (in no particular order) that should pair nicely with your chill-at-home New’s Year Eve plans.

Sayonara, 2016!

1) End of Days (1999)

Directed by: Peter Hyams; Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney

Synopsis: At the end of the century, Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It’s up to an ex-cop who now runs an elite security outfit to stop him.

2) Terror Train (1980)

Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode; Starring: Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner, David Copperfield

Synopsis: A masked killer targets six college kids responsible for a prank gone wrong three years earlier and who are currently throwing a large New Year’s Eve costume party aboard a moving train.

3) Bloody New Year (1987)

Directed by: Norman J. Warren; Starring: Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Daniel James

Synopsis: Five shipwrecked English teenagers take refuge in an island hotel that is decorated for New Year’s. The problem is… it’s early summer, and soon enough, even the walls themselves are striking out against them…

4) New Year’s Evil (1980)

Directed by: Emmett Alston; Starring: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace

Synopsis: During a New Year’s Eve celebration, a Los Angeles disc jockey receives a phone call saying that when New Year’s strikes in each time zone, someone will be murdered – and she will be the last one.

5) Life Blood (2009)

Directed by: Ron Carlson; Starring: Sophie Monk, Anya Lahiri, Scout Taylor-Compton

Synopsis: New Year’s Eve, 1969: While driving on the Pearblossom Highway, a lesbian couple encounter the creator of the universe. Laid to rest for 40 years, the women wake up on New Year’s Day as reborn creatures.

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Time for a Road Trip with Three Classic Horror Movies that Visit Roadside Attractions

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Over the river and through the woods, the holiday season is the busiest time to travel. If you’re thinking of pulling over to rest at a cheap roadside attraction or take a break at an out of the way motel, you’ll think again after watching these horror classics.

Look, it’s a creepy roadside museum! Oh, not to worry, the proprietor looks friendly. Say, isn’t that the star of that ‘50s TV show “The Rifleman?” A fine, upstanding guy, for sure. Let’s go in.

David Schmoeller (Puppetmaster) made his directorial debut with Tourist Trap (1979). Although the film is all over the place with plot and theme, that’s nothing new to ’70s B-horror; and Tourist Trap is one of those little slasher gems that bears up to repeat viewings.

Five friends, including the stunning Tanya Roberts (“Charlie’s Angels,” “That ’70s Show”), stop by a roadside museum owned by Chuck Connors (“The Rifleman”) after car trouble. Slausen’s Lost Oasis features lifelike mannequins. Schmoeller films these life-sized dummies in various states of disrepair to build a wonderful creepiness.

Fans generally seem to love this movie, even when shaking their heads at the flaws. Stephen King, in his book Danse Macabre, talks about the movie’s “eerie spooky power.” I, myself, have to laugh at Pino Donaggio’s goofy choice of intro music — it sounds as if we’re in for a farcical comedy, but the film never returns to that mood.

If you like the slasher genre and ’70s B-horror and haven’t seen Tourist Trap, it needs to be on your must-see list.

Unlike Tourist Trap, Motel Hell found its audience as the number one ranked movie for the weekend of October 24-26, 1980.

What’s not to love? Veteran movie and TV actor Rory Calhoun is Vincent Smith, a farmer who, with his sister, Ida, sets traps for victims, buries them to their necks in a secret garden, fattens them up, and then makes them into his famous smoked meats.

“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters” is the man’s motto. This gives you an idea of what’s coming: Motel Hell is played for laughs.

The movie will make you chuckle, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its unforgettable imagery. The moving sacks in the garden, all lined up in a row, are eerie as hell. Then the sacks are yanked off to show buried humans, vocal cords cut to prevent screaming. You will remember that scene.

Then comes the harvest —

Some of the images are so disturbing they’ve entered popular culture in other works: the pig head mask in Saw, for instance, and the preparation scene for my own “Welcome to Dunwich” in Strange Horror #1, where sacrifices are buried up to their necks, dazed, and waiting for elder gods.

There are depths to Motel Hell. The farmer’s friendly relationship to the clueless community around him and his resolute sense of purpose make his character unique in the horror genre. The love story is so psychologically twisted I won’t even start to explain it here.

The victims are interesting, well-rounded characters, not teenagers in tank tops and short shorts.

An interesting, amusing, and entertaining horror film from director Kevin Connor (The Land that Time Forgot).

A year after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, director Tobe Hooper was back to depicting rednecks as maniacal killers. This time it’s a single redneck, Judd, portrayed by Neville Brand (“Laredo”) in Eaten Alive (1976), sometimes titled Horror Hotel, Murder on the Bayou, or Starlight Slaughter. Brand’s experience in movies and TV helps here as he gives this one-dimensional character twisted realism.

Judd runs a broken-down hotel, and when people agitate him, he feeds them to a pet crocodile conveniently hanging out just outside his place. It’s not hard to understand why the crock stays there — Judd becomes agitated often.

This film is outlandish fun and utter chaos. Don’t expect the mood of Tourist Trap or the depth of Motel Hell. Myself, I find a movie where the set is obviously a set has its own unworldly charms. Eaten Alive most definitely has that gritty look we all expect from our ’70s B-movies.

Slasher genre movies have to have something special to interest me, whether it’s the creepy directing in Tourist Trap, the fun and startling imagery of Motel Hell, or the over-the-top strangeness of Eaten Alive. Here are three to recommend, so don’t drive by… pull over and enjoy! Your mileage may vary.


Gary Scott Beatty is a writer and illustrator of strange horror stories who shares art, story, video, and progress updates with those on the Aazurn Fan List. If you’re interested, sign up at strangehorror.com.

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Last Toys on the Left

Will Turner’s Custom Horror Dolls Transform Your Favorite Scream Queens Into Display Figures

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Horror fandom isn’t limited to simply watching your favorite films — more than any other genre, we have seen inspired fans take their appreciation for these films to the creative realm, whether by crafting their own masks or paintings — or by going on to become writers, directors, or special effects artists.

Because of the popularity of mask creation, for example… when referring to the artistry that comes with being a fan, few would point to the creation of dolls. In that sense, Will Turner has carved a niche for himself. As the creative force behind Custom Horror Dolls, Turner transforms the likenesses of your favorite heroines into figures you can display, ensuring the design is fairly representative.

Halloween (1978)

In the last fifteen years or so, we have seen an outpouring of merchandise dedicated to the likes of movie villains… but where’s the love for the scream queens? While Freddy and Jason seem obvious choices for the big toy studios, many have lamented on the fact that final girls such as Laurie Strode and Nancy Thompson have never received the official action figure treatment.

Turner notes, “I started making custom dolls a little over a year ago. I had always wanted a Nancy Thompson doll to go with all the Freddy Krueger action figures I had. I found a Barbie doll that I thought would make a good Nancy, and I bought a small sewing kit. I taught myself to sew and I made her iconic pajamas. [So] I finally had a Nancy to go with my Freddy. After posting a pic online, people started messaging me and wanting to buy the doll, so I sold her and made more. Then I decided to make a Laurie Strode doll and pretty soon, I was making a different doll each week and it took off from there.”

Carrie (1976); A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987); The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Turner’s collection consists of the femme fatales from such franchises as Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream, as well as from other films like PsychoBlack Christmas, Carrie, and many more. “I would say the set of dolls I’m most proud of is the Death Becomes Her set. They were complicated to do and I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off, but I think they turned out pretty good.” 

Death Becomes Her (1992)

Turner’s creations aren’t limited to the leading ladies either; he has also crafted dolls based on The Evil Dead‘s Bruce Campbell and Candyman‘s Tony Todd.

But as for Turner’s favorite final girl? “[Scream]’s Sidney Prescott for sure. She’s like a combination of Nancy Thompson and Laurie Strode. She’s a smart and tough final girl.”

Scream (1996)

As a convention vendor across the States, Turner has showcased some of his work to the respective ladies whose likenesses he has drawn from. “I made an Alice doll from Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and I got the opportunity to give it to Lisa Wilcox in person. She loved it. I’ve also made dolls of Toy Newkirk’s character from Nightmare 4, Jill Schoelen from Popcorn, Adrienne King from Friday the 13th, and a few others and had them delivered to the actors; and they were all impressed and honored. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4’s Lisa Wilcox and Will Turner; Popcorn’s Jill Schoelen

“The best reaction was when I gave Amanda Wyss a Tina doll from A Nightmare on Elm Street. She loved it and took it to Robert Englund’s table at the convention. He said it was amazing. I almost fainted.”

Every month Custom Horror Dolls features a giveaway, and starting today, December 12th, Turner will be running a holiday sale lasting though Christmas. With dolls typically priced at $50, Turner’s creations will be going for only $29.99 plus shipping! Considering the craftsmanship, I’d say that’s a pretty good steal. For any character that you don’t see, Turner also does commissions… I may or may not have already picked up my own version of Lindsay Lohan in Machete

SPOILER: I did.

“I’m getting ready to start work on some characters from Halloween III, Pet Sematary, Terror Train, Dawn of the Dead, and The Walking Dead. And I’m working on making a Rocky Horror set to be introduced during the sale.”

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift or simply want to keep tabs on Turner’s upcoming creations, be sure to check out the official Custom Horror Dolls website as well as its Facebook page!

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

 

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New Archie Horror Series Vampironica Is Out for Blood!

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Vampironica is a new Archie Horror series launching in March from Greg and Megan Smallwood that we first heard about back in 2015 at the SDCC, and knowing what a big fan base the series has – plus the fact that American Werewolf in London and Fright Night were big influences on the writers, we thought we’d share the latest info on what’s in store for us come spring!

Here are the details of the series, including a look at all the various covers to be had.

From the Press Release:
She’s beautiful. She’s deadly. She’s Vampironica!

Greg and Megan Smallwood are bringing a new terror to the streets of Riverdale as Veronica Lodge is bitten by a centuries-old vampire in a new Archie Horror series launching this March – VAMPIRONICA.

After being turned, will Veronica’s new-found thirst for blood turn Riverdale into a haven for the undead, or will she put an end to the vampire threat herself? The team of Greg (co-writer, artist) and Megan Smallwood (co-writer) and letterer Jack Morelli are set to turn Riverdale red in the latest twisted take on the classic Archie Comics characters.

“Fans can rest assured that we’ll be staying faithful to the core of these characters,” said co-writer Greg Smallwood. “It was very important to Megan and I that Vampironica be the same Veronica that we all know and love, only now with fangs.”

“Greg and I were both very interested in exploring the concept of a vampire Veronica without getting rid of what makes Veronica such a special character,” said co-writer Megan Smallwood. “Ironically, Vampironica humanizes Veronica in a way that only horror can. Becoming a vampire is a humbling experience for her, and she’s forced to open up and expose a little vulnerability.”

The new series will explore how Veronica adapts to her new place as one of Riverdale’s freshest members of the undead while drawing influence from classic horror films.

“I’d say that our biggest influences are American Werewolf in London and Fright Night. Both films can be quite horrific, but there’s also a lot of strong characterization and humor to them,” said Greg. “I think horror works best with a small dose of comedy for levity so we’ve used the same formula on Vampironica.”

“Veronica Lodge is not the kind of girl to join any ranks, let alone vampire ranks. True to form, Veronica instead relies on her own gut instincts,” said Megan. “They haven’t let her down in life, and they won’t let her down as she navigates the surreal world of the undead.”

VAMPIRONICA #1 launches in comic shops and on digital platforms March 14, 2018, and features variant covers by Francesco Francavilla, Audrey Mok, Djibril Morrissette-Phan, and Marguerite Sauvage.

Synopsis:
When Veronica is bitten by a centuries-old vampire, her thirst for blood threatens to turn Riverdale into a haven for the undead. Will she put an end to the vampire threat or give in to her bloodlust?

CVR A Reg: Greg Smallwood

CVR B Var: Francesco Francavilla

CVR C Var: Audrey Mok

CVR D Var: Djibril Morrissette-Phan

CVR E Var: Marguerite Sauvage

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