John Dies at the End

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First off, I am completely guilty of judging books and movies by their covers AND their titles.  When I first heard of the movie, There Will Be Blood, I was totally psyched to see the movie, because with a title like that, how could it not be excellent.  The movie was not at all what I expected, but I wasn’t disappointed.  I still think that it should be the title of a zombie flick, or a vampire movie.  So when this particular novel popped up on my Amazon.com suggestions, I was intrigued.  And just like There Will Be BloodJohn Dies at the End wasn’t what I expected, but I was not at all disappointed.

I finished this book about two weeks ago, but I couldn’t put into words what I felt about the story.  I knew I liked it, but I didn’t really know why. And the book is so involved, I think I needed time to digest everything that occurred.  I’m not entirely sure what to define this as, except as a comedy(?), it wasn’t always scary, but it was really funny. And eerie, then creepy, but always funny.   And I guess since it deals with alternate realities and demons it is part of the supernatural spectrum of the horror genre.  I mean, bad things happen in this book–like end of the world type shit.  But John and Dave are so funny; and nonchalant about the what they see and experience, you find yourself chuckling despite the horror going on around them (at least I did).

This book is jam-packed with comedy and action.  I know I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to find out the rest of the story.

Synopsis:  First, the book is told in the first person narrative by David Wong, the author and one of the main characters.  He’s telling the whole weird tale to an investigative reporter who has heard of Dave and John through weird web blogs that talk about the supernatural events Dave and John have “taken care of”.  Dave Wong (not his real name btw, he’s not even Asian)  then spins this unreal, tangled tale of demons and alternate universes that want to take over our own world.  And it all began for these two slackers (John and David) with a drug called soy sauce.  John and David, a pair of college dropouts that work at a video store, are what stand between our world and an invasion.

There is just so much going on in this book, I can’t really do this book justice with a small synopsis–so I’m not really going to try.  I advise you to pick this book up and read it.  I mean, it has strange beasts, hauntings,  a portal to hell in an unfinished mall, a drug that can possess you, shadow people,  a dog that won’t die–I really can’t list the entire tangled web of events that go down.

I like this book cover the best because it's just as busy as the story inside

Here’s a taste of why I really dug this book–The Set-Up: the gang, along with the main characters John and David are being held captive by Justin/monster and are prepared to fight when he opens the door.  They are telling each other things like, if I die, get rid my drugs and porno stash–stuff like that (you know the usual). And then we get to Fred and John:

(From the book) 

Fred whispered, “Okay. If I don’t come back, and say they don’t got my body,

like if Justin eats me or somethin’, tell everybody you don’t know what

happened.Make it mysterious. And then a year later spread rumors that

you’ve seen me wanderin’ around town. That way I’ll be like fuckin’ Bigfoot,

everybody claiming to have seen me here and there. Legend of Fred Chu.” John

nodded, as if he were committing this to memory. He lit his own firebombs,

glanced up at me and asked,“You got any final requests, in case this don’t

end well?” “Yeah. Avenge my death.”

On a personal note, this is exactly how I want my death to be–mysterious and righteous, and right when people are moving on with their lives after my loss–people will start seeing me around.  Am I dead, or did I fake my death?!

AND IT DOESN”T END THERE!

There is already a sequel in the works, entitled:  THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS:  Seriously, Dude Don’t Touch It

PLUS:  John Dies At the End is now a movie soon to be released. Directed by Don Coscarelli, (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). Starring two dudes I’ve never heard of as John and Dave and Paul Giamatti.  Coming out in 2012.

Here’s the link, check it out:  http://www.johndiesattheend.com

Juan of the Dead

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Okay, I was doing my weekly movie look up on IMDB.com when a title popped up that caught my attention:  Juan of the Dead.  Naturally, I had to look.  And what I found is a movie touted as Cuban’s first horror film.  This movie seems to be part Sean of the Dead part Ghostbusters.  Whatever it is, it looks like a winner.  I can’t wait.

Written and directed by Alejandro Bruges.  

Are there any horror movies about evil bosses?

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A few friends and I went and saw the movie Horrible Bosses with Jason Bateman this Friday.  Loved, loved, loved that movie.  It has kept me chuckling all weekend, repeating the funniest phrases I could recall:

Dale: “Your ad said you do wet work?”
Not the Hit Man: “I urinate on other men for money. Why else do you think my ad was in a ‘Men Seeking Men’ section.”
(argument breaks out between Nick, Dale and Kurt)
Dale: “We are men, looking for a man!”.

Good stuff, watch it if you get the chance, it’s on my mental list of all time funniest movies ever, it’s actually fighting for the spot I’ve reserved for The Hangover.  Anyway, it got me thinking about horror movies that are about bosses, or where the story at least somehow involves an evil boss.  But I can’t think of any.  Help me out guys, are there any horror movies about a Nefarious Boss?  Okay, now that’s got me thinking of possible titles for said movie–The Manager from the Black Lagoon?  (I wish I could draw, somehow I think that this movie would be based on a cartoon, oh sorry, graphic novel).  What about Night of the Brain Dead Manager? Psycho, wait, no, that’s a real movie.  Actually, there’s a few titles out there that would be perfect for a movie about Evil Bosses–Devil, Zombieland, The Evil Dead, Braindead–already apply.  

I posit that there is a reason we don’t have horror movies with such a topic, and that’s cause the majority’s jobs are already so horrible, that a horror movie about it wouldn’t be an escape.  I mean, think about it, horror movie lovers love horror because it’s escapist literature(yeah, I said it, movies are a form of literature).  We, in general, would probably not want to watch a movie for example, Snakes on a Plane, if we had actually gone through the ordeal.  We have to keep it light or we’ll go postal (lol, get it).  Those of us, who have had to deal with Toxic Bitchy Bullying Bosses know what I’m talking about.  We bitch about are bosses to one another over beers, try to one up each other with How Stupid my Boss is stories(for example, she kept faxing papers the wrong side up so all she faxed was blank pages, and despite being corrected continued to do so for years) or How Evil my Boss is stories (he took credit for my work right in front of me and the Big Boss).  For fun, we may or may not plot their hypothetical deaths (I admit nothing, but I hear these things happen).  But we have to keep it light, we have to be able to laugh at it, and that’s why, in my opinion…there are no horror movies about an evil boss.  And why movies like Horrible Bosses, The Devil Wears Prada, and Office Space are so successful.  

Or am wrong?  Guess I am, I just asked my friend and Co-worker Jay, and he came up with The Devil’s Advocate (good one, Jay), however, it’s more of a mystery/thriller.  But it’s the closest thing to an Evil Boss horror movie.

Can you guys think of any?

Disclaimer:  Uncoolghoul does not any way, shape, or form mean to imply that her current boss is one of the aforementioned Mephistophelian Employers…it’s just an observation and random thought.

The Family That Slays Together Stays Together

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Dysfunctional Family of Horror? Or Just your run-of-the-mill Dysfunctional American Family?

It’s basically a Public Service Announcement:  The Family that engages in group activities bond with one another on several levels; simply put, without all the psychobabble: it creates a more unified, solid family structure. It creates memories, experiences, emotional bonds and ties.  Of course, in the horror genre, that means the family doesn’t exactly engage in scrabble or dance dance revolution, it usually means murder and mayhem (bwahahaha) creating the types of bonds most of us (hopefully) aren’t willing to achieve.

Yeah, I just put up this pic because I used to love this show! The Munsters!

There is something particularly horrifying about a family of murderers.  One murderer in the family is heinous, a part of the family we would probably try to divorce ourselves from.  But an entire family?  It makes us all wonder:  what went wrong?  Nature or Nurture?  The general reaction would be to assume their is something very very wrong in the DNA structure of a family of murderers.  Another reaction would be to distance ourselves from relatives of the same murderers last name…just in case.  As is generally agreed upon by psychologists nowadays, it’s not nature or nurture, it’s a bit of both.  That’s probably true of a family of killers.

Is there such a thing as a family of murders in real life?  Yes, there is.  Google Sylvia Likens and you’ll read about a horrid woman, her children, and a few other neighborhood children tortured and murderer a teenage girl.  And that’s just one example, which I will save for a much more serious post.  Let’s keep this one light.
Here is my list of

Horror That Promotes Family Unity

The Hills Have Eyes

Okay, so this movie is about a family of vacationers being killed and cannibalized by a family who are the remnants of mining families that refused to move in the 50s.  The government used their old town for testing nuclear weapons and these remaining descendants are disfigured from years of exposure to nuclear fallout.  The remaining people entrap visitors passing through their secluded desert and bad things happen. I haven’t seen the original version, but its premise is somewhat similar. Anyway, this particular movie is about a family of cancerous(I just assume they have cancer cause of the radiation) mutants who do what they apparently have to in order to survive.  One scene that sticks out in my mind is when Doug, walking for help, finds himself in a crater filled with vehicles that span the years.  He doesn’t realize the implications yet, but the viewer understands that these cannibals have preyed on people for decades….creepy.  This clannish family seems to thrive on cannibalism and rape of the people they manage to trap.  My personal view is that you have this clan that refused to be moved off their land and their way of life, so already they don’t like the government, on top of that Lord knows what the nuclear radiation did to their brains and DNA, well, that, and all the inbreeding, so simply put, this is one fucked up family.

And the descendants have been fed on “the other white meat”, so they already have a taste for flesh…..this movie is excellent, if you haven’t seen it, put it on your Netflix queue.  On the other hand, the Carter family that the freaks have been trying to eat do fight back to survive.  So The Hills Have Eyes actually shows what family unity can accomplish on both sides of the tracks (good vs evil).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Now that I’m trying to write about TCM, I never realized that the premise is pretty similar to The Hills Have Eyes….hmmm.   Well, basically a group of teenagers are traveling through some rinky-dink town that’s very nearly a ghost town, and the remaining townsfolk (mainly one inbred family) prey upon those who are driving through.  Is it just me, or do I mention TCM in nearly every post….

Frailty

This little family consists of Daddy Meiks and his two sons, Fenton and Adam.  Daddy Meiks believes that God has told him to rid the world of demons that only he can see.  And he takes his young boys with him to do God’s work.  Is he really doing God’s work or is he just one crazy dude passing the crazy along to his sons, especially his younger son, Adam who believes unquestioningly in his father’s quest.  I love this movie, ’nuff said.

Otis

This is the most light-hearted movie on my list.  Otis is a mentally incompetent buffoon who kidnaps young girls to live an ideal high school romance.  For example, he calls them up on the phone and asks the girl to the prom, if she doesn’t play along with this psycho-ness, he hurts them.  This movie is actually pretty funny.  Not up to par with Sean of the Dead, but funny nonetheless.  Otis kidnaps a beautiful young blonde named Riley.  Her family is beside themselves with fear for her, and all they have is an ass of an FBI agent who is bungling up the investigation (this guy plays such an arrogant ass, it’s hilarious).  The family thinks they found the guy who kidnapped her and try to get revenge for Riley.  The only thing is….well, I’ll stop there, you should go out and watch it.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  Also, I am a big fan of Ileana Douglas, who plays the mother in this movie.

Whether you’re a family of freakish cannibalistic inbred mutants or the family fighting off said creeps, the point is:  family needs to stick together in order to survive…so remember kids:  the family that slays together-stays together (alive!)…this Public Service Announcement is brought to you by uncoolghoul.  

Edward Gorey, Illustrator

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I am just hoping to introduce you all to one of my favorite artists, Edward Gorey.  I mean, come on, the man’s name is Gorey (gory, get it), how awesome is that?  Edward Gorey was an illustrator of hilarious, gothic-y Victorian books.  Sadly, Mr. Gorey passed away in 2000.

Apparently, the NIN video for the song “The Perfect Drug” was inspired by Edward Gorey, and some scenes reference The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

You could learn more about Edward Gorey from his wesite:

http://www.edwardgoreyhouse.org/

One of his works, the one that made me a fan: 

The Absolute Best Horror Comedy

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What is Horror-Comedy you ask?  Well, it’s one of my favorite genres.  It takes two of my favorite things (comedy and horror) and brings them together in marital bliss.  If it can make you laugh one moment and cringe in terror the next-that’s horror comedy.  It may have a little bit of black humor in it.  You know, the type of humor that makes you laugh,  yet you feel a little guilty about finding it funny.  You feel kind of dirty for laughing. It’s okay to laugh.  It’s meant to be funny. If it’s unintentionally funny, well, that’s just a bad movie.  Every now and again, some genius walks that tight-rope between horror and comedy and makes movie magic.  Here’s my list of

TOP TEN HORROR COMEDIES:

10.  Young Frankenstein (1974)-Directed by Mel Brooks, so you know it’s quality comedy.  Really more comedy than any horror, it’s actually a parody of the horror movie, but a loving one; which is why it’s number 10.  Gene Wilder stars as the the descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  He becomes intrigued with Victor’s experiment, and tries it himself.  Great scene with the monster dancing to Puttin’ on the Ritz, complete with top hat and tails.

9.  Dead Alive (1992)-Directed by Peter Jackson.  There is a zombie baby, a Sumatran rat-monkey and a lawnmower bloodbath.  Need I describe more?  You just have to see it.

8.  The ‘Burbs-(1989)- Tom Hanks is a paranoid neighbor out to find proof that the creepy new neighbors are murderers.  Hilarity ensues.  This one is not all that scary, but a good movie none-the-less.

7.  Behind the Mask-The Rise of Leslie Vernon(2006) – Ever wonder how guys like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers learned their trade as movie psychopaths? Then watch this mockumentary about an aspiring serial-killer named Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) and his efforts to prepare the perfect teenage slaughter. Angela Goethals co-stars as the virginal film student shooting his meticulous preparations, and Robert Englund makes a swell “Ahab.” One of the most clever comedy horror movies to come along in years.

6.  Fido(2006) – Set in an alternate timeline that looks a lot like the 1950s ,Fido follows the continuing relations between the living and the undead following the Zombie Wars (created by radiation from space causing the dead to reanimate). When a housewife (Carrie-Anne Moss) buys a domesticated zombie (Billy Connolly) to help with chores, her son quickly befriends the creature and names it Fido. But when his control collar malfunctions, Fido doesn’t hesitate to take a bite out of the neighbors. Co-starring Dylan Baker and Tim Blake Nelson.

5.  An American Werewolf in London (1981) Directed by John Landis, who had the comedy chops of Animal House and The Blues Brothers under his belt, An American Werewolf in London is nothing short of brilliant. Starring David Naughton (yeah, the “I’m a Pepper” Dr. Pepper guy) and Griffin Dunne as two American tourists backpacking in Europe who are attacked by a werewolf. One pal dies, the other becomes a werewolf (in that stunning transformation scene) – with the dead friend returning throughout, in different stages of decomposition. One of the best mixes of comedy and horror at work.

 

 

4.  Evil Dead 2(1987) – Director Sam Raimi improved and expanded on his 1981 gore classic, this time adding better special effects and even more outrageous dark comedy. The plot is largely the same, as thick-chinned Ash Williams(Bruce Campbell) battles an army of demons at an isolated cabin in the woods. But there’s plenty of slapstick to be found amidst all the bile and demonic possessions, and the Three Stooges have been listed as a major inspiration for Ash’s on-screen antics.

3.  Zombieland (2009) – In a world overrun by the undead, a foursome of survivors (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin) seek to reach a theme park that’s supposedly zombie-free. Meanwhile, one of the group searches for the last Twinkie on Earth. Bill Murray pops up as himself, and thirty-three rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse are revealed (including “Avoid strip clubs,” “Cardio,” and “Beware of bathrooms”).

2.  From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) -Directed by Robert Rodriguez written by Quentin Tarantino.It also stars George Clooney and Harvey Keitel this is one of the most fun action/horror flicks ever made. The first half of this movie is pretty straight action/crime drama. Then the vampires show up. I love Cheech Marin as a vamp.

 

1.  Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a working-class Brit who just got dumped by his longtime girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). To make matters worse, the dead are now rising from the grave. Luckily, Shaun and his tubby pal Ed (Nick Frost) have a plan: grab Liz, Shaun’s mum (Penelope Wilton), and Liz’s flat mates (Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis) and ride things out at the local pub. The laughs are plentiful, the gore non-stop, and it features the best use of a Queen song since Iron Eagle. Kudos to director Edgar Wright for helping revive both comedy horror movies and zombie films.

And here’s a few honorable mentions:  Fright Night, Bubba Ho-Tep, The Frighteners, Severance, and  Slither.  If you haven’t seen them, well, what other plans do you have this weekend?

What’s your favorite scary-funny movie?