Wednesday, 23 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Jeffrey Combs

Me: It's time to talk about Jeffrey Combs. Wanna get us started?

Jay: Jeffrey Combs is one of those actors who got lucky. He landed his big role with Re-Animator. After that, he became one of horror's great character actors. 

Me: Since I still haven't seen it, tell me about Re-Animator.

Jay: It came out in the late Eighties and as very different. The main character made a serum that would reanimate dead flesh. Any dead flesh. You could put a pair of eyeballs on a severed hand, inject it, and it would start moving around.

Me: Ew. Did you like it?

Jay: I didn't really like any of the Re-Animator movies. They're cult and plenty of people love them, but not me.

I've had a few chances to meet Jeffrey Combs and missed him every time. It's so frustrating. 

Me: He's definitely on the list of people I hope we meet one day. I've seen him in so many different things.

Jay: Like Brad Dourif, Jeffrey Combs has been in just about everything. It feels that way, anyway. He was even a regular in Deep Space Nine. Actually, he had three different roles but Weyoun was the main one. What a spiteful character!

I think his most memorable role was as in The Frighteners. That was a great movie. 

Me: I love The Frighteners! It's one of those movies that has a little bit of everything: horror, comedy, even romance. And Dammers totally got what was coming to him at the end!

Jay: It's a great scene, when you see Combs's character in the back of the car, looking all surly. 

Me: I remember Jeffrey Combs in things like Feartdotcom and Return to House on Haunted Hill. What other movies do you remember him from?

Jay: Jeffrey Combs was also in Abominable. I feel like this list is basically just the cast of that movie!

Me: So, what's your favourite Combs movie?

Jay: Good question. Um... well, he's done a lot of voice over work, including some cartoons that I like but I think my role is The Frighteners. He's such an ass in that. It's an overlooked film that's absolutely brilliant. 

Me: Jeffrey Combs is a great actor, but what sets him apart? What makes him one of our Best Horror Actors?

Jay: I guess it's because you don't always notice him but, if you do, it's because he's playing such a villainous part. He can disappear into the background or make you hate his guts. 

Me: Yeah, he is one of those characters you love to hate.

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Brad Dourif

Me: Today, we're going to be talking about Brad Dourif. Ready?

Jay: Let's do it.

Me: Okay... Brad Dourif has a freaking huge list of acting credits on IMDb. Like, huge. What was the first thing you noticed Brad Dourif in?

Jay: For me, it was the Eyes of Laura Mars. It's a film I hadn't seen in a long, long time. I didn't realise what a cast it had! It has a myriad of stars. I watched it forty years ago because I was a kid and it had boobs in it. Watching it again now, I was impressed by how good it is. But, yeah, that's the first time I noticed Brad Dourif. 

Me: I only vaguely remember that one.

It wasn't the first movie I saw Brad Dourif in (that was Child's Play) but One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was his first credited role.

Jay: You didn't realise it at the time because they weren't all well-known actors then, but One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had an insane cast! They were more or less unknown at the time but look at them now!

Me: And Brad Dourif's role was major! I kind of hated him, though. That movie shook me hard.

Jay: Child's Play wasn't exactly fluffy...

Me: True! But even Chucky doesn't scare me as much as Nurse Rached!

Since we're talking about Child's Play, tell me your thoughts on it.

Jay: Brad Dourif isn't really in it much but it's still his most famous role. He does the voice, of course, but you don't see his face often. 

Child's Play was one of those surprise films because the doll is amazing. It's a good, jumpy film with good sequels. It's even better because there wasn't CGI then. 

Me: They just did a remake of Child's Play, sadly without Brad Dourif. Did it work?

Jay: Mark Hamill was good but Brad Dourif was better. It's a case of spending all that money and bringing it up-to-date but not making it any better than the original. It's all been done. 

Me: Okay, so if we go back to the original Franchise, which of the Child's Play sequels was the best?

Jay: I liked Child's Play 3 because it carries on from the original and still has Andy in it. It was of it's time, that Eighties pulp horror. 

Me: Mine was Cult of Chucky, with Fiona Dourif, Brad's daughter. It was so clever. Fiona was also in Curse of Chucky. I think it's great that she got to work with her dad in those movies. She's a good actor and you can really tell Brad Dourif is her father. She looks just like him.

Jay: You're right, she is a good actor. Fiona doesn't have to rely on her father's name; she can make it on her own merit. 

Me: I'm focusing a lot on the Child's Play movies because I just don't know where to start with the rest of Brad Dourif's movies. Damn, he's been in a lot.

Jay: He's been around forever!

Me: What's your favourite Dourif movie?

Jay: It's not a movie but he was good in Deadwood. And in the remake of Halloween. Oh, and he was awesome in Death Machine. He's always good as a mad scientist but Chucky is his best. 

Me: So, aside from the number of films he's made, what makes Brad Dourif a horror icon?

Jay: The roles he's taken. He tends to be either the mad professor or the sleazy, undesirable creep. The character you love to hate. Brad Dourif isn't the heartthrob but he's taken what he does have and made the most of it. He's very recognisable.

Me: Is there anything else you want to add?

Jay: Only that I'm pissed that we met him (and he was nice) but we didn't have our Child's Play poster with us. I hope we can meet him again because I'd love to get his signature on that. 

Me: We do that a lot... Fingers crossed we get to meet Brad Dourif again.

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Monday, 21 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Linnea Quigley

Me: Model and actress, Linnea Quigley, is an activist and was in a band called The Skirts back in the 90's. All very impressive - but what about that makes her a horror icon?

Jay: Can I say 'sheer volume'? 

Me: Well, I'd rather you said something else but...

Jay: Sheer volume. 

Me: Right. Speaking of horror icons, did you know Linnea Quigley has the same birthday as Vincent Price?

Jay: Huh. I didn't.

Me: Yep.

Linnea Quigley didn't start acting, then find her way into horror. She straight up started in horror with Psycho from Texas in 1975 and has been a horror stalwart since then. When did you first become aware of Linnea Quigley as an actor?

Jay: In Return of the Living Dead, as Trash. You kind of had to notice her... she was naked! I used to have friends like that, getting their kit off for no reason...

Me: *glare*

Jay: I mean... She was absolutely striking. That bright red hair catches your attention. I loved the movie because it was about zombies, the soundtrack was full of bands I loved, and it was about a group of punks. I'd just started to spike my hair as a baby Goth - oh, it wasn't good - but it made me feel like I belonged. 

Me: Meanwhile, I was three...


Jay: I suppose the next film I noticed Linnea Quigley in was Night of the Demons in 1988. 

Me: That was the first horror movie I saw!

Jay: You were six.

Me: Well, it wasn't voluntary. My sister and her friend were watching it and I wouldn't stop bothering them so they held me down and made me watch it.

Jay: That explains a lot. 

Me: I guess it kind of does...

Did you enjoy Night of the Demons?

Jay: I did. It's a good, solid horror film. There was a wave of them in the Eighties, thanks to the introduction of the video. To be fair, most were crap, but there were gems. Night of the Demons was one. 

Back then, there were two big b-movie scream queens, Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens, and Linnea Quigley was always the bigger of the two.

Me: If we move forward into the Nineties a little, Linnea Quigley was in Pumpkinhead II. I know Pumpkinhead was one of your favourite movies. What did you think of the sequel?

Jay: It wasn't good. The only Pumpkinhead movie that was worth anything was the first one. Even the monster itself became silly in the sequels. It was all man-in-a-rubber-suit. 

Nothing against Linnea Quigley in it, mind. I was so excited when I heard the second one was coming but was so disappointed when it finally came out. Linnea Quigley's not a tremendous actor but she's good at what she's there for. She's the pretty screamer. 

Me: Oh, I almost forgot... Linnea Quigley made an appearance in the new Night of the Demons, didn't she?

Jay: You mean that porno your mom and I watched after you went to bed? 

Me: ...hey, what you guys did when I wasn't around...

Jay: Ha ha. The 2009 Night of the Demons was supposed to be a remake, I guess, but they sexed it up way more than it needed to be. Not the kind of thing you want to find yourself watching with your mother-in-law in the middle of the night.

Me: When you say b-movie scream queen, you really mean b-movie, don't you? I'm looking at movies like Hooker with a Hacksaw...

Jay: Linnea Quigley's the name you want to get if you're making a low budget movie. Just her name alone is enough to get her small walk-on parts. 

Me: Which can be both a blessing and a curse, I'd bet. Do you have anything else to add?

Jay: Well, as a teenager-

Me: That doesn't have to do with masturbation!

Jay: Oh. No. 

Me: Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Sunday, 20 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Tobin Bell

Me: Okay, let's talk about Tobin Bell. I don't really know a lot about him so a lot of this is going to be on you.

Jay: Well, Saw was his big breakthrough but I remember seeing him in a lot of television. I could have sworn he was in an episode of Highlander but, looking at it again, I guess it was Brion James.

Me: I can see how you'd get them mixed up. They do look a lot alike. Tobin Bell is more... I dunno... gaunt?

Jay: I'd go with that. His look is part of what made Saw work so well. You can believe he's dying from a tumor, right?

Me: Right.

You mentioned that Tobin Bell really made his name in Saw. It's not the kind of movie that I enjoy. I really don't get into torture horror. I mean... it's basically snuff, right? We've had a lot of discussions about how you don't put the Saw movies into the same category as things like Hostel. Tell me again why that is.

Jay: The Saw movies aren't just torture porn. They're very clever. They're not just slasher movies. It's about retribution. Tobin Bell is the perfect Jigsaw. He wasn't a mindless killer. It's about how people fuck you over. How people don't appreciate what they have. They're warnings.

Me: I can understand that. They're too hard for me to watch, though. I don't have the stomach for it. I still haven't gotten over Seven.

Getting back to Tobin Bell, which of the Saw movies is the best and why?

Jay: The first is probably the best but they're all strong movies. It's like with any sequel; you can't compare them to the first because you'll never recapture that complete surprise, that shock, again.

Me: Honestly, I think the first one was the only one I watched. I'll never get rid of those images...

So... Tobin Bell carries an extremely popular horror series - but what else do you know him from?

Jay: He's been in just so many things. I liked him in Decoys. Oh, and Boogeyman 2.

Me: It was nice to see him recently in the new Creepshow series.

What is Tobin Bell's appeal?

Jay: I think a lot of it is his performance in Saw. It's that once in a lifetime role that was just made for him. He's got the looks, the ability, the voice to make it work.

Me: And why is he on this list?

Jay: Just look at the films he's done. Aside from all the television work, he's been the start of a huge franchise. It's not like Friday the 13th or one of those things anyone could do as long as they're behind the mask. You need the emotion, the pathos that Tobin Bell brings.

Me: I'm interested to see where he'll go from here. I guess only time will tell...

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Corey Feldman

Me: Corey Feldman is a strange addition to this list for me. Because I grew up with his movies, I had this idea in my head that Feldman was my age when, actually, he's closer to yours.

Jay: That doesn't surprise me at all. He was older than he looked when he did things like Goonies

Me: I know Goonies isn't horror and doesn't really have any place on this list but... GOONIES.

Jay: It was so well cast and had a great story. Goonies was pure escapism. Corey Feldman was good but Chunk and Sloth stole the show. 

Me: And in the not-horror-but-awesome category... Gremlins.

Jay: Well, Corey Feldman was only really a bit part in the movie but Gremlins was a fantastic film. I went to see it seven times in the cinema. The gremlins are just awesome. If you said I could have a gremlin tomorrow, I totally would. 

Me: As someone who's seen you sneak Blodwyn an entire slice of pizza, I've gotta say that would only end in tears.

Jay: But can you imagine going out drinking with those little fuckers?

Me: Okay, we may have just crossed into horror...

Before Gremlins and Goonies, Corey Feldman did Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (in 1984.) Even though it was the fourth instalment, I thought it was a great sequel. What did you think?

Jay: Yeah, it was good. You know, if they'd left it there, it would have been a fitting end. That's the problem with the big money spinners; they can't leave them alone. 

Me: Wasn't Corey Feldman in the fifth Friday the 13th?

Jay: But only at the very beginning. He was already filming Goonies at the time and could only be there for a day. It had to do with his being underage. 

If you look at Feldman in the early Eighties, he was huge. For a moment. He's still a jobbing actor now but he's not on that meteoric rise anymore. Totally living the Hollywood lifestyle, though, with the dark glasses and pretty girls. 

Me: He does look cool as fuck.

Going back to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, though, what are your thoughts?

Jay: God. Awful. It wasn't even Jason! The ones that came after got a bit better again (except the 9th one) but never as good. 

Me: Except Jason X.

Jay: I was going to say that's the exception. It was very clever. 

Of all Corey Feldman's roles, Edgar Frog in The Lost Boys was by far the best. Edgar and Alan were fucking awesome, really hamming it up. I wasn't fussed on the second and third movies but it was nice to see Feldman reprise his role. 

Me: Edgar Frog was just hilarious. He had some of the best lines in the film.

Corey Feldman was also brilliant in Bordello of Blood which, by the way, was totally underrated. I love that one. Do you remember it?

Jay: Yes! He wasn't in it long, though, was he? It's mental how much Corey Feldman has actually done, especially cameos. In recent years, he's done mostly b-movies but a lot of them.

Me: Why do you think that is?

Jay: Drugs, I guess. 

Me: Ah. Well, I guess that makes sense, with all the abusive shit they had to go through in Hollywood. Sad, though.

Jay: It really is. 

Me: Okay, this is getting a bit too serious for a blog post. Back to the movies. One of my favourite Feldman movies is The 'Burbs with Tom Hanks. So messed up. Did you ever see that one?

Jay: Years and years ago. I vaguely remember it - but mostly for Tom Hanks. 

Me: It was comedy horror and just brilliant - in a this-is-just-wrong kind of way.

Last thing, then. We met Corey Feldman at a Collectormania yonks ago. Do you remember and what do you remember about that?

Jay: Of course. It was with the rest of The Lost Boy cast. Like you said, he looked cool. He's got that total rock star vibe, without the conceit. Feldman is a lot of fun. 

Me: He really is. Do you have anything else you want to add?

Jay: You're not going to ask me why he's on this list?

Me: I figured you'd say 'Sheer volume of work.'

Jay: ...well, yeah. But it's also because he made the transition from child star to adult horror icon. 

Me: Good point. I guess that wraps things up for today.

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Friday, 18 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Kiefer Sutherland

Me: Eighties kids rejoice. It's time to talk about Kiefer Sutherland.

A lot of people may think of Kiefer Sutherland from 24, which was an insanely successful TV show in its own right, but we're here to talk about the good stuff. The horror stuff.

Jay: 24 wasn't my cup of tea but mum loved it.

It was a horror movie, The Lost Boys, that made Kiefer Sutherland. He was doing okay before that, but Lost Boys is what catapulted his career. 

Me: A whole lotta people, from your generation to mine, crushed hard on David. 'Cause, you know... bad boys. What was it about Sutherland's character in Lost Boys that attracted so many people?

Jay: He was a different kind of vampire. The Lost Boys brought vampire lore right up to date. They stopped being stuffy and formal. They became things we all believed we could meet. That we could have. 

Me: I was totally one of those people. Lost Boys is so... I dunno. Rugged? Cheeky? Definitely hilarious. It was the humour more than anything that appealed to me but there's nothing funny about David. He's the dark, brooding, dangerous guy girls (and boys) fantasise about (without Angel's pesky morals.)

Moving away from The Lost Boys, though (before this becomes a David fan page,) the next movie that stood out for me was Flatliners from 1990. What did you think of Kiefer Sutherland's performance in that? (Or, the movie in general?)

Jay: It was a big step away from David, for sure. Well, sort of. He was still kind of brooding. 

You know, it's weird with Kiefer Sutherland. He's not what you'd think of as being leading man material. He's kind of... gumpy?

Me: What?!

Jay: I mean that he's not conventionally handsome. He's not ugly! He's just not what you'd think of. You know, tall and dashing. He's more normal. That might be part of the charm. 

Me: Okay, I can see that. Normal isn't a bad thing, though. It makes an actor feel more accessible. More like us.

Going back to Flatliners, though... we had different opinions about the remake.

Jay: I fucking hated it. It was awful. 

Me: I liked it.

Jay: They didn't need to do it. 

Me: No, I'll agree to that. There are so many remakes these days they didn't need to do but did. They did it, though, and it was entertaining.

Jay: It wasn't better than the original. 

Me: No, it wasn't. But it wasn't bad.

Jay: Meh. 

Me: You know Kiefer Sutherland was in the remake too, right?

Jay: Well... to be honest... I didn't finish it. It was that bad.

Me: Kiefer Sutherland hasn't really done all that many horror films. The ones he's done, though, have been brilliant. Mirrors is on that list.

Jay: I thought Mirrors was a great film. He brought a believability to the role. You can feel his frustration, his fear. 

Me: You can feel my bloody fear! Mirrors terrified me! You're lucky there are any mirrors left in our house after seeing that!

Jay: Yeah, it did make you jump a lot. I love movies that do that...

Me: The thing that really scared me was the so-called "treatment" that set the whole thing off. People with mental illnesses were treated so horribly in the past and, living with a mental illness, the thought of that ever coming back keeps me up at night.

There's also the scene in the bathroom, which was too grotesque to even go into. Yikes.

I can't believe it but we've zipped through Kiefer Sutherland's horror movies. There weren't many. Tell me how he made the cut, with so few horror credits to his name?

Jay: ...that's a good question. I guess it's mostly because of his role in The Lost Boys, to be honest. It was too iconic a role to ignore. 

Me: It has nothing to do with the fact that you looked like him for awhile in the Eighties and it got you laid?

Jay: What? No, never!

Me: Well, there you have it...

I wish we could say that we've met Kiefer Sutherland but we haven't yet. He's on the dream list but we just keep missing him. Fingers crossed he shows up somewhere near us soon. At least we've gotten to meet a lot of the other Lost Boys cast.

Jay: It's a great poster to have signed.

Me: It is.

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Thursday, 17 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Dwight Frye

Me: We're going a bit obscure today with Dwight Frye. Most of the people on this list are instantly recognisable horror icons. Tell me how someone who barely has sixty acting credits on IMDb beat some of the more well known actors that got cut.

Jay: He's here because his roles, however few they might be, are so memorable. 

Me: You're talking about Renfield in the 1931 Dracula?

Jay: And Fritz, the Igor character, in the 1931 Frankenstein.

Me: Why are those two roles so iconic for you?

Jay: Both times, especially as Renfield, Dwight Frye stole the show with roles that, really, shouldn't have drawn any attention. That laugh was absolutely haunting.

Me: For me, that's Tom Waits as Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. No one talks about his character or his performance but damned if he didn't out-act them all.

Jay: It takes a great actor to make something so memorable from a nothing role. Dwight Frye and Tom Waits both managed it. 

Me: Dwight Frye was also in Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man as different characters. Guess there's no denying he was typecast. What do you make of that?

Jay: I think Dwight Frye was frustrated with playing the idiot madman. He said somewhere that he wanted to do comedy but, if you have a look at his resume, he never really got the chance. 

Me: A lot of the titles - most of the titles - on IMDb for Dwight Frye are listed as "uncredited." Isn't that sad?

Jay: It is. I guess it's kind of like his life, though. He never got the credit he deserved. 

Me: True. Sad, but true. Another thing that makes me sad is that this is so short. I wish there was more to say about Dwight Frye.

Jay: There's not really a lot to say, is there? He's a ghost from another age. 

Me: Well, now that I'm a bit glum, I'll wrap things up.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Udo Kier

Me: When we were coming up with our longlist of Best Horror Actors, Udo Kier wasn't a name that immediately came to mind. For me, at least. What made you think of adding Udo Kier to our list?

Jay: I've seen him in so many horror films over the years. He's one of those not-the-main-star-but-always-there kind of actor. I don't know how many German horror movies he's done but I bet it's loads.

Me: Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula were the movies that took Udo Kier's career to the next level. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've never seen them. (I seriously need to rectify that.) Can you tell me about them? Especially Udo's roles.

Jay: Actually, I don't know much about them, either. I think I may have seen Flesh for Frankenstein but it was so long ago I just can't remember. We'll have to watch them sometime.

Me: Udo Kier was born in Germany during World War II. He's still got a very strong accent, all these years later. Do you think the fact that he looks and sounds like your typical German villain has helped or hindered Udo's career?

Jay: It had to help, didn't it? There's always a role for the typical Teutonic knight in Hollywood. You really can just look at Udo Kier and tell he's German, even before he opens his mouth. Need a German general or a villain? You can't go wrong with Udo.

Me: I guess I've got to mention Suspiria and Mother of Tears. Argento movies really don't do it for me. They're too... I guess laboured is the word. Kind of trippy too. What are your thoughts on Udo's Argento films?

Jay: Mother of Tears was alright but I really didn't care for either of them. I always thought Argento was overrated. 

Me:Moving on to a film that I actually enjoyed... I loved Udo Kier as Dragonetti in Blade. Vampire just works on him. You liked that one, didn't you?

Jay: Blade was good. Like you said, head vampire isn't much of a stretch for Udo Kier. It's a role that suits him well. 

Me: I also loved Udo in End of Days. Well, I just loved End of Days. It's one of those movies I keep coming back to, like Stigmata. I love me some religious horror. What did you think of End of Days?

Jay: Well, he only had a small role, really. I enjoyed the movie, though. It was tremendous. It was one of Arnie's best movies.

Me: Can you think of any other films Udo Kier has done that you enjoyed?

Jay: It's surprising when you look at his IMDb page and see just how much Udo Kier has done. He was good in the Halloween remake. Shadow of the Vampire was good too. 

Me: I can't mention Udo Kier without saying how freaking fabulous he is as a person. He was tremendous to meet. I remember him gushing over my necklace and sending us to find a woman with a tattoo of him. He was just too much fun. Your thoughts?

Jay: He was an absolute joy. The fact that he didn't let Showmasters bully him just made my day. When they tried to rush him, Udo would just be like, "I am talking to my friends. Go away." Legend.

Me: Well, before we wrap things up here, anything you want to add?

Jay: Udo Kier is a cracking actor who is still very busy. He's a handsome, polite, dapper man. I'm glad we got to meet him.

Me: Me too. And, although he wasn't someone I immediately thought of, I'm happy Udo Kier is part of our list of Best Horror Actors.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Christina Ricci

Me: We're talking about Christina Ricci today and it's nice to be able to talk about someone my own age. Christina Ricci was one of those actors girls my age wanted to be. Her and Winona Ryder.

Before we get started, we should probably mention why Winona didn't make the cut.

Jay: She really hasn't done many horror films. Nowhere near as many as Christina Ricci, anyway. 

Me: We didn't really agree on that point because movies I'd put in the horror category, you wouldn't. Things like Heathers and Edward Scissorhands, etc. I think we agreed to call it "horror lite" but, unfortunately, not keep Winona because of it.

Okay, so now that's out of the way, let's get back to Christina Ricci. What is it about her that you like?

Jay: She's a good actor. And a beautiful woman, of course. It feels like I grew up with her, even though she's not my generation. I think the first movie I saw her in was The Addams Family. What a superbly cast film. 

Me: Wednesday was definitely a hero of mine growing up. I did occasionally get called that, actually, because of my shall we say droll sense of humor (and general hatred of people.) I don't think anyone else could have played that role as well as Christina Ricci. She nailed it.

The Addams Family wasn't my first Christina Ricci film, though. I first saw her in Mermaids with Cher and Winona Ryder. Man, that film broke me in so many ways. I think Mermaids was partly to blame for my obsession with angst.

Jay: You're talking three women who cross generations and who dominated generations of cinema. 

Me: Exactly. That's a whole lotta icon for one movie.

I know I'm not allowed to put it in the horror category (because we have actually discussed it at length) but Casper was and is one of my favourite Halloween movies. I totally wanted to be Kat growing up - and not just because she got to kiss Devon Sawa. (But partly because she got to kiss Devon Sawa.)

Jay: It was alright for what it was. Cute. Don't forget Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is typical Tim Burton, who made his career out of Gothic horror. Again, what an amazing cast. It's probably one of Tim Burton's best films. 

Christina Ricci was maybe a little young for the role, mind. She played it well but was a bit too young to be Johnny Depp's counterpart. 

Me: Seriously, though. Christina Ricci's acting career reads like a list of people I crushed on in school.

I love that in Sleepy Hollow you're never quite sure if her character is the goody or the baddie. It's a good fake out.

We should also look at movies like Bless the Child, The Gathering, Cursed, and After.Life. It's hard to pick a favourite out of those because they're all such strong movies with great performances from Christina Ricci. If pushed, though, I'd probably go with The Gathering because it's subtle and eerie. What's yours?

Jay: Oh, that's tough. I love Cursed. After.Life was a bit strange. The Gathering was good. Bless the Child was quite serious. It's almost impossible to pick a favourite but Cursed is a little more bubblegum horror so Bless the Child might just creep ahead. 

Me: Christina Ricci stared in a TV series recently (relatively recently) that we watched and enjoyed, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. It was nasty and edgy and I loved it. Wanna weigh in?

Jay: It was very good. I was gutted that they never did another season. I would have enjoyed more. 

Me: I feel like Christina Ricci has been more prolific than she actually is. She never really does more than a few things a year but, because she's such a huge part of my cinematic life, it seems like she's always out there. Why do you think Christina Ricci is such a big name in the world of horror?

Jay: It's not like she hasn't done a fair few horror films! Sure, there are people who've done more but are they as big as she is? ...I don't know. 

I can't put my finger on exactly what makes Christina Ricci stand out. Her youth? Her ability? I don't know. I guess a little bit of everything. 

Me: Christina Ricci is like the Mona Lisa for me. She's always got this look like she's about a second away from laughing at you; like she knows more than you do. It amuses me.

I'm glad we were able to add Christina Ricci to our list of Best Horror Actors. I just wish we could have included Winona Rider too.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Monday, 14 October 2019

Book Review: UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1) by Chanda Hahn

UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1) by Chanda Hahn is a difficult book to review. It isn’t exactly well written but it is enjoyable to read.

Mina (the first of several vampire references) Grime is a disaster magnet. Things go wrong around her all the time, convincing her that she’s cursed - which she is. Turns out Mina’s last name isn’t Grime; it’s Grimm and she’s got to live through the stories her ancestors collected if she wants to break the curse.

UnEnchanted instantly earns points for not being in first person. (Serious pet peeve.) It loses points, though, because the POVs often get muddled. There’s also a lot of crying, which just gets tedious in YA literature.

The writing is just so-so. It shows no real talent and degenerates in quality as the book goes on - to the point where the author switches from describing a mode of transportation as a van, then a truck, then a van in the span of a couple pages.

It’s also completely lacking in figurative language, which is a shame when you’re talking about a modern fairy tale. I’ve come to expect a certain level of poetry in fairy tales (metaphorically speaking) but UnEnchanted doesn’t deliver.

In addition to a myriad of grammatical errors and typos, UnEnchanted struggles in the dialogue department. For the most part, it’s unrealistic and awkward.

It sounds like I’m coming down pretty hard on UnEnchanted but I’m just getting the novel’s problems out of the way so I can say that, despite its flaws, I enjoyed UnEnchanted very much. Hahn might not be a good writer in the technical department but she tells a good story.

The characters are likeable, the action is easy to follow, and the story is engaging. I totally got into it, which is impressive because, usually, so many errors would have me turning off in no time. The ending even kind of broke me a little. I’m actually looking forward to the sequels.

I wish Hahn had just gotten herself a decent editor. The right editor could have taken UnEnchanted from flawed but enjoyable to something really special.

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Bill Moseley

Me: Today we're going to be talking about Bill Moseley and it's the weirdest thing... I can picture the characters he's played but not Bill Moseley himself.

Jay: Well, he's kind of an Average Joe. It's his ability that sets him apart, which is why you remember the characters and not the man. 

Me: One of my favourite characters Moseley plays - and you should have known that I was going to go there - is Luigi Largo from Repo! the Genetic Opera. Try to deny it if you want, but I know you liked Repo! because I've caught you singing along...

Jay: ...Paris Hilton's brother, right?

Me: That's the one. You're not a huge fan of musicals so what appeals to you about Repo!?

Jay: It was very different. Kind of like the Rocky Horror Picture Show in some ways. They aren't nice or safe. Repo! is about drug addiction and repossessing body parts. What's not to like? 

Me: I knew there was a reason I love you...

You know what my favourite is. What's yours?

Jay: My favourite Bill Moseley film is Dead Air

Me: The zombie one?

Jay: Yeah. It was a clever take on the zombie genre. To be on the air as shit's going down. Kind of a bit Dawn of the Deadish in that respect. Unlike some zombie films,  which never explain the outbreak, you learn in Dead Air that it is a terrorist attack and, eventually, the terrorists get into the radio station. 

I like that Dead Air is so different because, although zombie films have always been my favourite, they've just been done to death now. There's nothing new happening so to get something that feels fresh is a nice change of pace.

But, going back to Bill Moseley, you wouldn't believe how much he's been in because he's there, but not always the main character - which is one of the reasons I like Dead Air so much; it revolves around Moseley's character. You get to see him as the lead.

Actually, thinking about it, Patricia Tallman is in Dead Air too. Another reason to like it. 

Me: Right. It's a nice touch because they were in Night of the Living Dead together in 1990. I still can't believe Bill Moseley played Johnnie. He just looks so... I dunno, dweebie? Exactly like you'd expect an embarrassing older brother to look.

Seriously, if I didn't know Johnny was Bill Moseley, I'd have sworn blind that he wasn't in Night of the Living Dead.

Jay: "They're coming to get you, Barbara..."

I'm glad we got to meet Bill Moseley and get him to sign our Night of the Living Dead poster. It's one of my favourites. I'd like to get it framed up and on the wall when we're done renovating. 

Me: If we're ever done renovating? These old British houses, man...

I love that you've got these two actors, Patricia Tallman and Bill Moseley, together in zombie movies so far apart. It also makes me a little sad that Patricia Tallman didn't make our list. We discussed it. Wanna tell everyone why?

Jay: Patricia Tallman has done some great stuff - from Night of the Living Dead to Babylon 5 - but that's the problem; her main body of work isn't horror. She's done a lot of different things, mostly stunt work. There's not enough horror there to make the cut, though. 

Me: Why did Bill Moseley land a spot on our list of Best Horror Actors then?

Jay: I know I've said it before but it comes down to volume. It really is a huge list of credits. I was surprised by just how many horror movies Bill Moseley has done. 

Me: I really am not a fan of grindhouse or Rob Zombie (as a director) and all those grungy movies Bill Moseley has done. Hillbilly horror really doesn't work for me. What are your thoughts on Bill Moseley in things like The Devil's Rejects?

Jay: It's not my cup of tea, either. I don't understand Rob Zombie. How does someone who's an authority on horror make such horrible movies? I just don't get it. 

Me: Same, same. Why do you think it appeals to so many people?

Jay: Again, I don't have a clue. I really don't. I don't get what people see in those movies. I didn't mind the first remake of Halloween but the second one was nonsensical. The rest is garbage. 

Rob Zombie is a leading authority on horror. He's seen just about everywhere horror movie made but when it comes to making one... it's like Donald Trump being president. Stick to what you're good at. 

Me: I waited so long for House of 1,000 Corpses. For what? I think it's the movie I've been most disappointed by. I can't think of a single Rob Zombie movie I've enjoyed. I've gotten to the point where I don't even bother anymore. Even Bill Moseley can't save movies that bad.

Okay, so before I wrap things up, do you want to add anything?

Jay: The fact that Bill Moseley is so nondescript works to his advantage. Sometimes, not standing out makes people better actors because they can disappear into a role. I think that's the appeal of Bill Moseley. 

Me: That sounds about right. For me, he's a great actor who just happens to make some movies I freaking hate.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Sunday, 13 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Adrienne Barbeau

Me: Adrienne Barbeau might be remembered best for her relationship with horror director, John Carpenter, but she's a wonderful actor in her own right. What are your thoughts on Barbeau?

Jay: I didn't become aware of Adrienne Barbeau until... I think about Escape From New York. Then, it seemed like she was everywhere for awhile. She was in a lot of things very quickly.

She was in Carpenter's Escape From New York and The Fog, maybe a couple others, but don't forget that she also worked with Romero and Craven. Regardless of who she was or wasn't married to, Adrienne Barbeau wouldn't have had the career she had without her own talent. 

Me: Well, their divorce certainly didn't hurt her career! She's got, what, eight projects coming? Yeah, eight. We see Barbeau as a horror icon but she isn't strictly a horror actor. In fact, her horror work is kind of limited, isn't it?

Jay: Yeah, that surprised me too. Adrienne Barbeau has done a lot of voice over work - which makes sense with that voice. Very husky, like she smoked and drank her whole life. 

Me: Like "three miles of bad road?"

Jay: Right. Except, as far as I know, she's never smoked.

Me: Adrienne Barbeau has a kind smile and sharp eyes. Oh, and a rack that makes even me jealous. She's a beautiful person. Strangely, she also kind of reminds me of my mom. (Well, except for the boobs. My mom had to buy hers.)

Jay: There's definitely something special about Adrienne Barbeau, for sure. She's never conformed to the stick figure ideals of Hollywood; she's very voluptuous. 

Me: Speaking of curves, I can't talk about Adrienne Barbeau without mentioning one of my favourite b-movies, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. I can't believe she was in that.

Jay: I can't believe you like that movie...

Me: Okay, okay. It's absurd, but I love it.

Moving on... Creepshow. I want to talk both about Barbeau's role in the movie and her appearance(s) in the new TV show.

Jay: Her role in Creepshow as the loathsome wife in "The Crate" is small but memorable. There's not really a lot to say about it, except that it's my favourite story in Creepshow

It's great to see Adrieene Barbeau back in Creepshow. Her roles are so different. She isn't the sex pot anymore; she's an elderly woman. 

Me: I've been loving the new Creepshow series. It's fantastic and a welcome return to the franchise. I think it's only right that they brought Adrienne Barbeau back.

Are there any other Barbeau movies that stand out for you? (Especially horror ones.)

Jay: Off the top of my head, no. I mean, there's Escape from New York, obviously, but since that's not horror... 

Me: Right.

We met Adrienne Barbeau back in 2007. Do you remember that?

Jay: Yeah, of course. It was the same convention that George Romero was at. Barbeau was absolutely lovely. Very personable. 

Me: We were lucky to get to meet her.

Well, I'm glad we got to talk about Adrienne Barbeau but we'd better wrap things up here.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Lance Henriksen

Me: I'm excited to talk about Lance Henriksen today!

Jay: I am as well. He's a tremendous actor. As with the likes of Robert Englund and Jeffrey Combs, the man is synonymous with (sci-fi) horror. For me, he'll always be Bishop from Aliens - although my first exposure to Lance Henriksen was The Omen 2. He was also in Pumpkinhead, which is still one of my favourite horror movies. 

Me: I like the imagery in Pumpkinhead. I also think it's cool that Mayim Bialik is one of the kids in it - but Bialik isn't the subject of today's post.

Lance's career started in 1961. He's been at it a long time - and, at almost eighty, is still very busy. What's the key to his longevity?

Jay: He's a damn fine actor, to start with. He also has a very distinctive voice, which doesn't hurt, and is able to act without acting. Henriksen is believable. It doesn't matter if he's talking about ghosts or Sasquatch, you listen when he talks. 

Me: He does have an incredible voice. Very deep and thoughtful. He doesn't ever seem rushed, like he's always in control. I guess that helped him play an android in Aliens?

Jay: It was kind of the role that thrust him into the forefront. He was on a roll after that. His next movie was Near Dark and he was one of the main characters. The next year, he was Ed Harley in Pumpkinhead and carried the film.

As Bishop, he brought a believability to the role. Lance Henriksen is such a different looking guy that you can believe he's not quite human.

Me: You think Lance Henriksen looks weird? I think he's ruggedly handsome.

Jay: He has a very distinct look. Like Patrick Troughton. He's not unattractive, just... lived in. That's the only way I can think to put it. His face tells you he's somebody who's seen shit.

Me: Okay, that makes sense. The way I hear it, he had a tough life.

I think that can really help as an actor. The more life experience you have the broader your ability. Lance can go from bad guy to bad ass and every step of crazy along the way. His versatility is incredible.

Jay: It is. That just shows you what a great actor he is, how talented he is. By the time his career really got started, he was damn near forty. That's a lot of life experience. He's never been typecast, which a lot of horror actors struggle with.

Me: It's hard to pick a favourite movie here. He's done so, so much and so many cracking films. Can you pick just one?

Jay: For someone who got started kind of late in life, Henriksen hasn't half made up for lost time! There are a lot of brilliant movies, but there's no question about which is the best. It's gotta be Pumpkinhead. What a film! 

I bought it at a car boot sale back in the 90s. An old VHS. I had never heard of Pumpkinhead, but I knew Lance Henrikesen so I gave it a shot. It wasn't a huge budget but Stan Winston (who did Terminator) did the Pumpkinhead monster and made it seem so much bigger than it was.

Me: We were lucky enough to meet Lance a couple of times, which was awesome. Want to talk about what he was like to meet?

Jay: I think I've met him three times. He's always been so nice and talkative. You meet some celebrities and they can't give you the time of day - it's funny... you just don't get that with horror actors. They always seem to have time for you...

I did a painting that I wasn't particularly happy with but, when I took it to get signed, Lance took the time to chat with me about it and take photos. He's the sweetest man you'd ever want to meet.

Me: Well, I don't agree with you about the painting. It's a lot better than you give yourself credit for - but we can argue about that another time.

Is there anything else you want to mention before we move on?

Jay: Just that Lance Henriksen is a horror superstar today. I wish we had another twenty years or more with him but, sadly, I doubt it. Like Lugosi and Karloff, Lance is an icon of the generation.

Me: He's definitely iconic. We could probably go on all night but I'll wrap things up here.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Friday, 11 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Michael Berryman

Me: Michael Berryman is an actor you'd recognise, even if you're not familiar with his name. He's a horror fixture who's also done classics like Weird Science and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Jay: I remember Michael Berryman in Weird Science! He couldn't have been onscreen more than five minutes but it was interesting to see him in something besides horror. 

He's a very nice man that's made his fortune by making the best of his looks. When you see him, straight away you think of The Hills Have Eyes.

Me: Berryman has a very distinctive appearance that just begs to be in horror. His trademark appearance comes from something I'd never heard of until we started research for this post, Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia. I moan about my wonky eyes while Michael Berryman is out there using his disorder to his advantage.

Jay: It's a horrible thing to say, but he's just so weird to look at, which will always find you a home in horror. His affliction is his fortune. Would he be on this list if he just looked like some Average Joe? Maybe not. 

Me: You got the chance to meet Michael Berryman. What can you tell me about him?

Jay: He may look frightening but Berryman is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. God, it was years ago. Maybe 2002ish? Honestly, I was a little nervous about asking for a photo because I didn't want to offend him. He was totally fine with it, luckily. 

Me: You mentioned The Hills Have Eyes before. Hillbilly horror really isn't my thing so tell me why it's a classic.

Jay: It wasn't my cup of tea either, to be honest. It's one of those films that was huge when I was a kid, at the dawn of the video age. Everyone had heard of it. I preferred Berryman in things like Deadly Blessing, even though it was only a small part. It seems like that's true for a lot of his roles. They might not be massive roles, but Berryman always stands out in a film. 

Me: And it looks like he's still incredibly busy. Michael Berryman has something like 9 movies coming soon. Seventy-one and no sign of slowing down. He's an inspiration.

Jay: There are horror actors who have done more films, maybe better films, that you might think are more deserving, but I'll always defend Michael Berryman's right to be on a list of Best Horror Actors. 

He looks frightening, like something is kind of off (which is the Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia) and, as someone who's always been treated as a little scary myself, I understand a fraction of what he must have gone through. To take that struggle and turn it into a win is something that deserves respect. 

Me: I couldn't agree more. (Except I kind of like that you're scary... on account of the whole my not doing people thing.)

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Thursday, 10 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Bruce Campbell

Me: Today, we're going to be talking about an instantly recognisable horror figure: Bruce Campbell. There aren't many people on this list who have their own puppet, but Bruce does.

Jay: Which you own.

Me: And I'm unashamed.

What are your thoughts on Bruce Campbell?

Jay: He's been lucky. Bruce Campbell fell in with Sam Raimi, who gave him roles in many of his movies. That's not to say he's a bad actor. He's not. I like Bruce Campbell... but he's not stellar.

Me: He's got a cheeky, camp quality, though, that makes him stand out.

Jay: True. And he's very expressive, in an often comical way.

Me: I suppose we really should start with The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness. Let me get your thoughts on that franchise.

Jay: The first one is the only one that's worth talking about. The others are alright, but when Sam Raimi decided he would never do a movie as horrific as The Evil Dead again, the horror industry lost what could have been one of its best directors.

Me: You don't like Raimi?

Jay: That's not what I'm saying. His other movies are good - but his horror movies were never as good as The Evil Dead.

Me: What about Drag Me to Hell?

Jay: It wasn't as good as The Evil Dead. It's good but it's a different time. It's harder to make a shocking horror film now. Hollywood is devoid of ideas.

Me: And Drag Me to Hell is essentially a remake of Night of the Demon.

Jay: Right.

Raimi is a good director and he's made some cracking films - like the Spider-man movies - but I don't think he'll ever hit that Evil Dead level again.

Me: Speaking of The Evil Dead, we really should talk about Ash vs. the Evil Dead...

Jay: The first season was good but seasons two and three were just stupid. I loved the idea. It was hammy, it was over acted and it stuck with the Evil Dead sequels quite well. By the third season, it was just crap. They would have done a much better job if they had taken it seriously, if they hadn't done it so tongue in cheek.

Me: I didn't bother with the second and third seasons. The first season was outrageous, though. I think I watched most of it with my jaw on the floor.

We haven't really spoken about Army of Darkness yet. I find a lot of people who aren't really into The Evil Dead are massive fans of Army of Darkness. Why do you think that is?

Jay: It appealed to more people. It was humorous. Ash became a comic character, with his boomstick. Army of Darkness was alright, if that's your thing, but it wasn't scary.

Me: Entertaining, but different.

Jay: Exactly.

Me: I hate to do it, but you know we have to talk about the Evil Dead remake that we made the mistake of going to the cinema to watch...

Jay: Rubbish. They made such a big deal about Bruce Campbell having a cameo in it. "Groovy." Really?

If you were going to remake The Evil Dead, you finally had the effects to do it well. They had the technical ability but failed to use it. The remake was utter garbage.

Me: I hated it. Adding more gore doesn't make a movie better. They lost the power of the story. It didn't even have the humour. Just awful.

Okay, so why is Bruce Campbell an icon?

Jay: He's the every man. He's not particularly great look and he isn't an amazing actor with an amazing physique. He's just a normal guy who made it as an actor - and he's done some great stuff. I love him as Sam Axe in Burn Notice.

Me: He was good in Hercules and Xena too.

Jay: That's right, as Autolycus.

Me: Is there anything else you want to add before I wrap things up today?

Jay: I think we've covered it all. Bruce Campbell's got the cheek, the swagger, to make the most of a lucky situation.

Me: That's it's for us today, then.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Movie Review: In the Tall Grass (2019)

When we finished In the Tall Grass (2019), Jay turned to me with a scowl and said, "Well, that's time I'll never get back," and... well... that.

In the Tall Grass is a brilliant novella by Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill. Like its Netflix movie adaptation, it starts with two siblings on a cross country drive. That's where the similarities end.

There are times when it is absolutely necessary to deviate from a work of fiction in order to make the movie work. There are even times when the movie version is better (The Mist, for example.) Neither are true with In the Tall Grass.

Okay, synopsis.

Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) is nineteen and pregnant. She intends to give her baby up for adoption. She and her brother, Cal DeMuth (Avery Whitted), are on their way across the country to do just that. Unfortunately for them, they're lured into a seemingly endless field across from the eerily named Church Of Black Rock The Redeemer by the cries of help from a little boy named Tobin (Will Buie Jr.) who has been lost in the grass with his parents.

That's the bit that makes sense. The rest gets a little... trippy.

Not long into the film, Jay gave me a look and said, "They'd better fucking explain this."

That was only the first time Becky and Cal died.

Harrison Gilbertson's Travis shows up looking for his baby mama (Becky) who's been missing two months - much to her surprise. Yes, she's alive again and thinks she's only been in the grass a few minutes. So, what's going on? Some weird ass temporal rift shit, that's what. They're in an a loop that keeps resetting when Tobin's dad, Patrick Wilson's Ross, kills them all.

Oh, Tobin's mom is in there too - but she's completely inconsequential to the story. It's like they threw her in because she was in the novella but didn't really have any use for her in the movie.

Know what else has no purpose in the movie? The time warp stuff. Absolutely unnecessary. It has no part in the novella and the movie would have worked much better if it had stuck to the original story, rather than adding elements that only confused the audience.

Also, the movie is painfully artsy. The sweeping shots and upside down flips, etc. etc. don't add anything to the film. Either the director was trying too hard to prove they had vision (in which case, fail,) or they were trying to pad it out. It didn't help build atmosphere and didn't make In the Tall Grass the horror movie it was supposed to be.

The only frightening thing in the movie is Tobin. That kid is fucking haunts-my-dreams terrifying. There's just something about his face that gives me chills. Before he goes all freaky (after touching the mystery rock,) he looks like a normal kid. Not scary at all. Afterwards... *shudder* Good casting job.

One of the things the novella had that the movie didn't was community. In the film, the field is out in the middle of BFN. In the novella, there are houses all around. You can even hear dogs barking. I find that much more frightening. When a community knows something bad is happening but they let it go on for whatever reason, that's scary. (Mostly because it really happens.) They made a mistake not keeping it in.

And, of course, In the Tall Grass has a happy ending. (The movie, not the novella. The novella most certainly does not.) An ending that shouldn't have been able to happen because freaky little Tobin had touched the black rock and shouldn't have been able to leave the field. Just saying... details matter.

I guess I don't have to say that I didn't like the film adaptation of In the Tall Grass. And, before you say it, I read the story after watching the film so it's not like I was prejudiced beforehand. It just tried too hard. There was no need for all the time jumping; the original story worked much better with a linear storyline. If you're thinking about watching this one, do yourself a favor and read the book instead.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: John Carradine

Me: Today we'll be talking about John Carradine. What can you tell me about him?

Jay: I dunno. Never met him.

Me: Really?

Jay: Really.

Me: I swear to-

Jay: Okay, okay. John Carradine has a massive list of acting credits, going as far back as 1930.

Me: I was surprised by just how much John Carradine has done! He did a lot of different types of things, too (some quite awful.) Which of his horror films is your favourite?

Jay: It's hard to say. I mean, you've got The Howling, which is up there, and The Sentinel.

Me: And House of the Long Shadows.

Jay: And House of the Long Shadows.

Me: I love that one.

Jay: Well, when you've got John Carradine, Peter Cushing, Christohper Lee, and Vincent Price together in one movie, you can't go wrong. My favourite is probably The Monster Club, though.

Me: Great film. Very clever.

I honestly don't know a lot about John Carradine. What can you tell me?

Jay: Well, he was an artist. There's that. And you were about six when he died.

Me: So... you don't know a lot about him either?

Jay: Nope.

Me: Since neither of us know much about John Carradine, how did he make the cut?

Jay: It's the sheer volume of work he's done. With a career spanning over fifty years, John Carradine cemented his place as a horror icon.

Me: Agreed. Before we wrap things up here today, is there anything else you want to add?

Jay: Just that John Carradine is an underrated actor. People don't talk about him as much as they should.

Me: I guess we're good examples of that. We can't talk too much about that today - we have to start looking at tomorrow's selection. Back to work!

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Tony Todd

Me: Today, we're going to be talking about the legend that is Tony Todd. Wanna give me an introduction?

Jay: I first became aware of Tony Todd in the remake of Night of the Living Dead. After that, Candyman. Since then, a myriad of horror movies.

Me: Tony Todd is capable of giving this look that's straight up chilling. What makes Tony Todd stand out for you?

Jay: Not a look, but his look. He's big, he's tall, and he's imposing. To look at, he's terrifying but, really, he's the nicest, kindest man you could hope to meet.

Me: Is that why he's on this list? His look?

Jay: It doesn't hurt but, no. There's more to it than that. It's about volume and quality. Tony Todd is an actor who has become a horror stalwart, like the Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing of old. Tony Todd is synonymous with horror. 

He has a strong onscreen presence but you don't have to see him to know who he is. That voice is unmistakable. Listen in Final Destination 3 when they're approaching the one ride and you'll hear it. 

Me: Which is funny because he's done a lot of different things. I mean... he's even done The Young and the Restless! Aside from horror, what do you remember Tony Todd from?

Jay: I'd have to say Star Trek. Do you remember those episodes?

Me: Which Star Trek? Because didn't he play grown up Jake Sisko in Deep Space Nine?

Jay: He did, but I meant Next Gen. 

Me: ...he was a Klingon?

Jay: That's right. He played Worf's brother, Kurn. 

Me: Wow. I'd forgotten about that. I feel like we should watch those episodes again but, first, we should get back to the horror.

Jay: Right. Tony Todd plays a great villain. He usually plays a villain, rarely the white hat. Night of the Living Dead is a notable exception. 

Me: Would you say that's your favourite Tony Todd film?

Jay: It is. Tony Todd's performance is spectacular. He's just a spectacular actor. As Ben in Night of the Living Dead, he eclipses Duane Jones (the original Ben) by miles - not because Jones is a bad actor (he's not) but because Tony Todd is better. 

Me: Are there any other roles that you really liked?

Jay: Well, he's only in it for a few minutes, but Tony Todd's appearance in Final Destination steals the show. The look he gives the camera kills it.

Me: I like his cameos in the Final Destination films. It's good when you have a minor character that appears throughout a franchise. It helps tie everything together.

The Candyman films were some of my favourite Tony Todd films. The first one, at least. (The sequels were good, but not as good.) Did you like those ones?

Jay: The Candyman films were good. Different. I'm not a Clive Barker fan but, every now and then, he does something that surprises me. The Candyman was a pleasant surprise. 

Me: You touched on it before but talk to me about what it was like to meet Tony Todd.

Jay: Tony Todd has always been a polite, respectful person, willing to discuss his films and even his personal life. I remember the despairing look he had when he saw him the last time. His daughter was just starting university...

Me: That's right! She was moving into a coed dorm.

Jay: You didn't have to giggle. 

Me: I remember the look on my dad's face when he realised our dorms were coed. Hah.

Jay: Like anyone would mess with Tony Todd's daughter after they found out who her father was! I'd be scared shitless. 

Me: Right? But, anyway, we're getting away from ourselves. We were wrapping things up here.

Jay: Tony Todd is one of our Best Horror Actors because of his strong onscreen presence, recognisable voice, and ability. 

Me: He's an intense, sinister figure. I'm glad he made the cut.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Book Review: June’s Blood (Haunted Halls: Rosebud Academy Book 1) by Juliet Vane

June’s Blood (Haunted Halls: Rosebud Academy Book 1) by Juliet Vane follows pianist Lissa Anderson as she arrives at elite summer school, Rosebud Academy. She’s trying to get her life back together, battling the grief of losing her best friend to cancer and the alcohol that nearly ruined her own future. In addition to brutal lessons, Lissa has to find time to finish earning her diploma, fall in love, and solve the mystery putting her classmates against each other.

Vane shows strong, if unimaginative, technical ability. The story is focused and the plot is solid. A lack of figurative language is the only thing holding June’s Blood back. It could have been the difference between good and great.

June’s Blood is a cut and dried young adult novel. It’s very “This happened, then this happened, then this happened.” Although the action is easy to follow, it leaves the reader wanting more. It’s all action, no motive.

I’m big on the introspection. I want to know what the MC is thinking, what drives them, how they feel - ESPECIALLY if it’s in (groan) first person. June’s Blood let me down in that respect. I couldn’t connect with Lissa the way I should have been able to.

Although lacking in introspection, June’s Blood presents backstory in a clever, satisfying way. It’s given as the story goes on, when you need it, rather than in an information dump at the start. That being said, there were times when flashbacks would have given emotion to a slightly dry novel.

June’s Blood is an enjoyable mystery with a hint of romance. It’s currently available for free on Amazon and I suggest you take advantage. There are another two in the series and I’m already well into the second book. Give this one a try.

Monday, 7 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Ingrid Pitt

Me: Today, We're going to be talking about Ingrid Pitt and I'm going to let you start since she was one of the big Hammer actors. Have at it.

Jay: Ingrid Pitt was one of the original scream queens. She was a Hammer girl, even though she did appear in Amicus films as well. If I remember correctly, Ingrid Pitt was one of the first Hammer girls to go completely nude. That kind of thing really didn't bother her at all. 

Me: I think you've met Ingrid once or twice. What can you tell me about meeting her?

Jay: She was always lovely to meet. Totally bat shit. At one convention, I asked her to sign a rather risque photo and, after she did, I cracked a joke about taking it to the toilet. She was furious - until I explained that I wasn't going to wipe my ass with it. Once she knew that I intended to use it as a... shall we say masturbatory aid, she was fine. Totally fine with me having a wank over her. Like I said, bat shit.

Me: Ingrid Pitt was Polish, right? Did I see somewhere that she was in a concentration camp during the war?

Jay: That's right. Ingrid and her mother escaped eventually and hid out in the forest until after the war ended. 

Me: It makes me wonder if it was difficult for her to make movies about the war, having lived through it?

Jay: You have to wonder...

Me: I'm dying to get into Ingrid's movies but I feel like we should probably touch on Doctor Who before we move on since we're both Whovians (different generations, of course.)

Jay: She did "Warriors of the Deep" and "The Time Monster". "Warriors of the Deep" was awful! "The Time Monster" wasn't much better. It's one of Pertwee's worst. 

Me: Does it say anything that the two stories Ingrid Pitt was part of were both just terrible?

Jay: Not at all. She was just unlucky. You know as well as I do that Doctor Who was plagued, all the way through, with the odd dud. It just so happened that hers were both duds. Her performances in those were good enough. 

Me: It seems like Ingrid Pitt was everywhere for a long time but, in reality, she only has 41 acting credits. That's not very much, compared to some of the other names on this list. How did she dominate the screens, having done so little?

Jay: There's just something that hits the right spot with an audience. It's like Barbara Windsor or James Dean - they became icons without ever really having done much. Ingrid Pitt is like that. She's the iconic lusty vampire. 

Me: I know The Vampire Lovers and The House That Dripped Blood so I totally get why she's that iconic vampire but my favourite Pitt movie will always be The Wicker Man. We tend to get carried away when we talk about that one so let's just focus on Ingrid's performance.

Jay: It was a small role, really. She was one of the three main women in The Wicker Man: Ingrid Pitt, Diane Cilento, and Britt Ekland. Again, with the nudity. The scene in the bathtub borders on gratuitous. 

Me: Like you had a problem with that!

She was brilliant in The Wicker Man. I love her obstinance and cheek.

Jay: That's just Ingrid. She had a wicked sense of humor and was always full of fun. I can't believe she's been gone almost ten years. 

Me: Right? Sad...

Before we wrap things up, I suppose I'd better ask you why Ingrid Pitt is on our list of Best Horror Actors.

Jay: Well, by rights, Ingrid Pitt probably shouldn't be. There are loads of actors who have done a lot more. But you can't ignore her role as an icon. Ingrid kind of lived the role as well. She used to organize trips to Romania where she would be your host. I think she did those right up to the end.

It was a shock when Ingrid died. I'd just seen her at a convention that year. I know she was in her seventies when she died but she was in fine fettle.

Me: I guess the thing that surprised me about seeing Ingrid Pitt that year was that she still had quite a strong accent.

Jay: Yeah, she did. That was part of the appeal, part of the overall image.

Me: An image everyone knows, one that's totally iconic of Seventies horror.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

Sunday, 6 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Donald Pleasence

Me: I'm a little amused by today's choice because... Donald Pleasence. I mean... come on. Donald Pleasence. He's the Bill Shatner of the horror world.

Although... Shatner did do a pretty wild horror movie. What was that thing called? The one with the  melting faces?

Jay: Devil's Rain. 

Me: That's right. That's why the Michael Myers mask is so creepy. The Kirk mask they used for it was actually made for Devil's Rain - and that's totally not important right now. Sorry.

Donald Pleasence.

Jay: One of Britain's greatest ham actors. I mean... they don't get much hammier than Donald Pleasence. I can't think of anyone hammier...

Me: Except Shatner.

Jay: Except Shatner. 

Me: I think the perfect example of that is The Monster Club from 1981. When he becomes a vampire... so hammy.

Jay: The bit where they bump the gate as they're removing the body is comedy gold. It's the highlight of the film for me. 

The Monster Club had an amazing cast. To have Donald Pleasence alongside Vincent Price, John Carradine, Britt Ekland, and Stuart Whittman together in one film is genius. 

Me: I do love the portmanteau movies (anthology movies, with several different stories) - but then I'm a short story writer, so I guess that's just my jam.

I suppose before we get started on any of Pleasence's other films, we'd better have a look at his performance as Dr. Loomis. Wanna start?

Jay: It's funny... when you look at the pedigree of Donald Pleasence - he was a Bond villain, for Pete's sake - his defining role was Dr. Loomis. Let's not forget he only got the role because Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing turned it down. 

Me: Do you think the movie would be different if either of them had gotten the role?

Jay: Oh, God, yeah. One of the things that made Halloween work was how over the top Pleasence played the role. He really didn't seem afraid to throw himself into any role. Pleasence played Loomis right up until to his death - after, actually, since they used his voice in Halloween H20).

If you see Donald Pleasence in a movie, it's usually a fun one. He brought a sense of mischief to any role he played. 

Me: Donald Pleasence has a whopping 234 acting credits on IMDb. Taking The Monster Club and the Halloween movies off the list, which Pleasence movie is your favourite and why?

Jay: It has to be Prince of Darkness. He's so believable as the priest who is forced to confess that the church had this secret they were keeping from the world. At the end, he's kind of the hero - but, at the same time, he's the villain because he's the one who ruins the movie's love story. 

Me: I quite like Prince of Darkness. It still creeps me out. On a less creepy note, though, Donald Pleasence made a pretty memorable guest appearance in one of my favourite television shows.

We watch a lot of Columbo reruns. Tell me what you think about "Any Old Port in a Storm", in which Donald Pleasence plays wine snob, Adrian Carsini, who bumps his brother off when he threatens to sell their vineyard.

Jay: It's Donald Pleasence playing to his strengths. If you need someone to play a pompous snob, you can't go wrong with Pleasence. He just had that look. And his voice... that voice was so distinctive, but also subtle. You see this when Columbo sells him his own corked wine and he gets outraged. You really believe him because I think we've all known people like that. 

Me: We could probably go on about Donald Pleasence all night but we should really wrap it up. Tell me, before we leave, one thing that sets Donald Pleasence apart - without mentioning his hamminess.

Jay: Gotta be his voice. Donald Pleasence had an incredibly distinctive voice.

Me: For me, it's that perpetually pissed off expression he always wore. He always looked like a grumpy bastard. I can identify with that.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!