Valentines day is slowly creeping around the corner and whilst I don’t usually bother with the commercial holiday, I couldn’t help but find some cute geeky card ideas that put a smile on my face. So I hope one of these puts a smile on yours whether you have a Valentine this year or not!
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of British director Norman J. Warren. One of the genre directors I love most, as a keen fan, his entire filmography is one that I have been determined to see in its entirety since I was fifteen and witnessed Satan’s Slave on telly for the first time (thank you late night BBC2 horror doubles!). Sadly for Warren, Bloody New Year, his last feature film, falls under the banner that so many last films by directors fall under. Whilst it’s a lot of fun, it’s basically not very good…
The film’s title sequence opens with a New Year’s Eve party set in 1959. All is going well except that something happens at the last-minute. Flash forward twenty-something years and we find a group of kids washed up on an island (after a slightly excruciating carnival scene which could have been trimmed somewhat) that appears completely uninhabited. Christmas and New Year’s decorations are everywhere, but it happens to be the middle of summer… Something isn’t quite right.
It takes almost half an hour for the film to actually get to the main plot point (which for a ninety-ish minute movie is a wee bit long) but when we do it all gets a little weird in a good way. Warren has effectively crafted a haunted house movie, set in the island’s abandoned hotel, which is expanded to include the rest of the islands habitat. Ghosts, ghouls, kitchen appliances coming to life, disembodied voices, footsteps appearing in the sand, a demonic elevator, even a murderous Hoover, it’s all there, if not appearing a little dulled down. Under a new director, with a small re-write and some good effects, the film has all the hallmarks of a potentially good ghost story with some great effects sequences.
Whilst it’s not Warren’s best film, it isn’t a terrible one. Slowly the kids get picked off one by one until the island’s mystery is revealed. It’s a little anti-climatic but ties everything up nicely (without giving it away, lets just say the alternative title for the film, Time Warp Terror, might have been more suitable). The acting is more than a little wooden at times but a few special effects moments make up for the rest of the features charm (a nice little nod to A Nightmare On Elm Street, even if you can see the paint flaking away from the latex…). The director also gets to do a little nod to Evil Dead 2 in a scene in which the films protagonists are chased through a field by something. The swooping camera shots and canned laughter could easily have come straight out of Raimi’s picture, but this is hardly surprising when you consider that Terror, one of Warren’s earlier releases, was a practical rip=off of Dario Argento’s Suspiria.
Well worth seeking out if you’re a horror fan or a Warren fan/completest, Bloody New Year isn’t a terrible watch, you just can’t help but see the potential it could have had under a different cast or budget. That said, Warren manages to deliver a film that deftly attempts to meld together motifs of the slasher sub-genre with haunted house clichés. The result isn’t breathtaking but considering the films miniscule budget, is nothing short of admirable.
Happy Halloween folks! As today is a very special day for horror fans and all those who love a creepy thing or two I thought I’d post this essay I wrote for my first year at University on John Carpenter’s horror classic Halloween. An analysis of the films opening, it is by no means perfect (and I stress that) but I thought I’d put it up for a little fun…
The opening sequence in Halloween (Carpenter, 1978) follows an unseen character as it spies upon a lone house at night and is comprised of the following shots;
- Frontal shot of suburban house, night time. The house is in darkness and surrounded by trees
- Slow tracking shot towards house, stops at illuminated porch. Figures inside the house are visible.
- Tracking shot from front of the house to the side which is enclosed in darkness. Shot stops at window where figures are revealed more by indoor lighting.
- Camera stops and focuses on interaction between figures inside. They disappear upstairs.
- Pan shot from left to right of the side of the house, followed by tracking shot back to the front of the house.
- Tilt shot looking up to a lit front window on the second storey. Lights go out and the house is again surrounded by complete darkness.
- Tracking shot from front of house, down the side and through to the back of the house. Shot continues by going in through open back door and into dark kitchen.
- Lights appear as a pan and tilt shot shows a drawer being opened by a hand. Point of view shot is established. Hand pulls out knife from drawer.
- Tracking shot continues through downstairs of house, going from room to room. Pan and tilt shots utilised to portray point of view. No lights are on downstairs except for in the hall.
- Camera stops at hall and tilt shot shows male walking down the stairs getting dressed. Pan shot shows him leave through front door.
- Tracking shot goes from lit hall ascending the staircase towards the landing which is dark.
The film starts by using establishing shots depicting the location and time of event. The story takes place in Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night 1963. The sequence starts with a wipe cut going from completely black to the view of a large suburban house. The house is a generic American home, all white with a large veranda on the other side of the road. The colour stands out against the surrounding darkness of the night and the unlit street in which it resides. Slightly reminiscent of the Bates family home in Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960), the house looks very isolated and vulnerable cushioned in black. There is not even the safety of streetlights in this neighbourhood. Framed by a tree on either side like an archway or gate, the house looks easily penetrable. Through horror genre conventions we are led to believe that something ‘bad’ will soon happen as it becomes apparent to the viewer that the house is being watched by an unseen character. Utilising the shadows as concealment, the audience is immediately thrust into a subjective camera shot, in this case point of view (POV). As spectators, we join with this unseen characters perspective, as if we were behind them, and begin to associate with them.
A slow tracking shot establishes the unseen character walking across the road towards the house. As the character walks the camera direction employs a slight bobbing, emulating bodily movement and more realistically depicting the POV shot. When the camera moves closer, we begin to see the house in more detail. It is in fact cream, dirtier and less pure than the colour white, and covered in patches of peeling and worn away paint as if there was a problem with it. There are lights on inside and a lit jack-o-lantern on the veranda; clearly someone is home. As we approach the front door the outline of a couple kissing can be seen through translucent net curtains. This is obviously an act we are not meant to see, behind closed doors and in the safety of concealment. Here the audience is no longer made to feel like they are watching through someone else’s eyes but through their own; the unseen protagonist and the audience’s associated becoming unified through voyeurism.
From the front of the house we follow the couple through a tracking shot as they make their way into the adjacent living room. The hidden character walks down the side of the house concealed by bushes, a genre convention popularised in Universal Studio’s horror films of the 1920s and 30s. Once we turn the corner of the house we are plunged back into darkness and stop at the living room window looking through. Similar to the net curtains, a wire mesh fly screen covers the window acting as a slight barrier and reinforcing the idea of voyeurism. Inside, the couple are revealed to be teenagers, male and female, and are dimly lit by the television in the room. The decor of the house suggests that the owners are fairly well off, possibly middle class and certainly living life comfortably. The couple’s relaxed, playful embrace on the sofa implies that they are alone in the house increasing the suspense and tension created by the stalker observing. The expectation that something will happen to these characters is also greater, being alone amplifying their own and the house’s vulnerability. After a few seconds, the male leans in to the girls face and she smiles. They both get up and head for the stairs, visible through the doorway at the back on the longue. Something suggestive has been said and the couple clearly feel safe in the assumption that they are alone at home.
A pan shot shows the stalker look down both the right and left side of the house; as if to check that anyone was around. This makes the protagonist’s presence more sinister as by implying that they’re making sure no one is around for a reason, the expectation that something will most definitely happen to the couple is greater. Another tracking shot shows the character walk back to the front of the house and look up through a tilt shot towards a lit second storey window. Indicating a bedroom through the couple’s suggestive behaviour downstairs, the light goes out and the house is cloaked in darkness. Just like the ‘archway’ of trees in front of the house, the residence is easily penetrable as the safety of lighting has disappeared. The house and the stalker now blend in with the shadow and dark of night becoming one, there are no longer any physical boundaries. To confirm any suspicions, a tracking shot then precedes to show the unseen character walk back from the front of the house, down its side which we have already seen and then go to the back of the house where an open door provides entrance.
The character then enters the house, a pan shot revealing this room to be the kitchen with appliances and a small table illuminated by the moonlight through the window. The overhead lights suddenly come on and for the first time in the sequence we are able to see our surroundings clearly. Just like the outside of the house itself, the kitchen is cream coloured and appears slightly dirty. The appliances, which are also cream, make the room look clinical adding to tone of uneasiness felt now that the house has finally been breached. A tilt and slow tracking shot to the right focus on a drawer and the arm that we have previously seen before opens it to reveal sharp utensils. Now that the room is clearly lit we can see that the person is wearing green and yellow. As the hand reaches into the drawer it pulls out a large, phallic kitchen knife. The previous four minutes of stalking would suggest and imply that this knife is going to be used for something bad; someone is going to end up hurt at some point. The green and yellow colouring of the clothing also implies that this protagonist may possibly be envious or jealous of the couple inside the house. The phallic connotations associated with the kitchen knife, on top of said watching of house and clothing colour, leads the audience to believe that this possible jealousy could be linked to the young couples sexual behaviour. However the colour yellow is generally thought of as positive and warm. Is this character out for revenge or possibly protecting someone he cares about? Are there confused or mixed feelings surrounding sexuality within the hidden stalker?
Once the knife has been acquired, a tracking shot shows the character moving from room to room downstairs. Each is cloaked in the unsafe feeling that darkness brings, the rooms being illuminated only by moonlight from outside and gently from the kitchen. Low tilt and pan shots continue utilising the POV angle as the protagonist looks around each room, checking as they did outside that no one else is around. Upon entering the longue, we look across and linger for a few seconds on the empty coach which once held the amorous couple. The brief pause works as if to remember and reaffirm the ‘reason’ for which the house has been broken in to; it is the young couple who are the focus of this unseen person and now the audience begins to feel real dread and apprehension for the unknowing teenagers.
The camera’s tracking movement stops at the longue doorway which leads to the brightly lit hall we have seen before. An upwards tilt shot following the stairs shows that the teenage male is descending, hastily putting back on his clothes. As he runs down the stairs, he looks back towards the landing where we are led to believe the teenage girl has been left; upstairs and alone. The camera employment, still effectively mimicking human behaviour, moves back behind the door frame to hide away from the teenage male as concealment through shadows is no longer possible. Here we spy the boy give a somewhat regretful look towards the upstairs of the house, quickly open the front door and leave the house. Has the unseen character been protecting the young girl all along from her possible own naivety? We are still as spectators not even sure if the stalker even knows this couple at all.
Once the front door has shut, the camera emerges through the door way and a tilt shot towards the top of the stairs is followed by a tracking shot ascending. Here the unseen character goes from the brightly lit hall downstairs into the contrasting total darkness of upstairs. There are no lights on; there is no safety in illumination for either our protagonist or the young girl who we presume to be upstairs. We, unified by the continued POV shot, like the hidden character as now entering an unknown territory. In what state will the girl be in upstairs and does the young man’s sombre expression suggest that he himself has done regretful to her and not the character who picked up the knife? Likewise, why is our envious protagonist armed with a potential weapon, to enact a brutal morality lesson upon the young woman or to protect himself from her or the young man who left? As the character walks into the total darkness of upstairs, the audience is left wondering what the answers to all the questions set up will be and the fate and actions of the two people left within the house…
With Halloween only a few weeks away, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to the fun activity that is Pumpkin Carving. Everyone has to have carved a badly executed scary face into a vegetable (or is it a fruit?) at least once in their life. Whether it be something that keeps the kids entertained for a little while or turns into a competitive competition between friends, here are a few ideas to get you started. So grab some pumpkins, a few tea lights, the odd sharp instrument and prepare to get creative and messy…
If, like me, you were enjoying the sunshine over the UK last weekend and were in an outfit that wasn’t exactly cool, then you might just like these items of swimwear I found online. Stupidly hot and wishing I was wearing a lot less, I realised that if I’m this hot here, I’m going to be really hot when I go on holiday in October and it’s about time I updated my poolside wardrobe. There’s not a lot of geeky/film inspired bikini’s or swimsuits out there but have a search and you’ll find a few… So start spending (even if it’s for next year!), get your beach look sorted and top it off with some matching nail art on your fingers and toes!
Batman bikini set from aimerfeel
Tetris swimsuit by Black Milk
Domo bikini top from Spencers Online
Batman string bikini from Superhero Stuff
C3P0 swimsuit by Black Milk
Evil Dead bikini by Iron Fist
Wonder Woman monokini from Superhero Stuff
NES inspired bikini
Pac-Man swimsuit by Black Milk
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bikini top from Spencers Online
Artoo swimsuit by Black Milk
Captain America inspired Big Star swimsuit by Splish
Gameboy swimsuit by Black Milk
Supergirl string bikini from Superhero Stuff
Atari Falcon 030 swimsuit
Zombie Chomper bikini by Iron Fist
I have made no secret of the fact that I bloody love cake. Cream cakes, sponge cake, birthday cake, iced cake, cupcakes, cake – I love it (but not ginger cake, carrot cake or fruit cake). So this Easter I thought ‘What’s better than chocolate?’. The answer, chocolate cake. Inspired by some incredibly delicious WWE themed cupcakes that a friend of mine made for my boyfriend’s recent birthday, I decided to search the internet for the cakes that pleased my inner geek. And boy, did I find some impressive spectacles. I warn you, this post is another that’s very heavy on the pictures but they are all well worth the waiting time to load. Have credited where I can but if you spot your cake on here and it’s not credited, tell me and I’ll add it in! Ladies and gents, I present a few of the geekiest cakes I could find. If you know of any others, leave a link in the comments box below!
Watchmen cupcakes by Sweet Lizzy’s Cupcakes
Avengers birthday cake
Corpse Bride wedding cake
Friday 13th birthday cake by Your Happy Baker
Pokemon cupcakes by Polkadots
Star Wars Millennium Falcon birthday cake
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles birthday cake
Jurassic Park cake by CMNY cakes
Sailor Moon cupcakes by The Sweet Treat Leap
Alien inspired wedding cake
Sonic birthday cake
Evil Dead inspired cake by Karen Zinna
Star Wars Max Rebo birthday cake
Twin Peaks cupcakes
Where The Wild Things Are wedding cake
Cheetara birthday cake
Back To The Future cake
Death Proof cupcakes by Clares Cupcakes
A Nightmare Before Christmas wedding cake
Little Shop of Horrors cupcakes by Shane Russell
Star Wars ATAT cake
Alien themed cake
Ghostbusters wedding cake by Charm City Cakes
Indiana Jones golden idol cake
Friday 13th cupcakes by Alicia Zak
A Nightmare on Elm Street cake
Ramona Flowers bag cake by jennyvier
Star Trek Borg cupcakes
Kill Bill birthday cake by Cake Rhapsody
Frankenstein and his Bride wedding cake, complete with angry mobsters!
WallE birthday cake
Thundercats cupcakes by The Baking Bird
Buffy the Vampire Slayer cake by Cake Nouveau
Evil Dead cake
Scott Pilgrim cupcakes by sweetheartcupcake
King Kong inspired cake by Rosebud Cakes
Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask cake
Vintage comic book cakes by Charm City Cakes
A Nightmare Before Christmas wedding cake by Pink Cake Box
Optimus Prime cake
One of my favourite things about Christmas is the twin fun of giving and receiving. And for all those regular readers of my blog, I’m not just talking innuendo… I’m talking presents! This year I got to watch my boyfriend’s niece and nephew open their parcels from Santa and it got me thinking about all the presents I’d had as a kid and the excitement about waking up on Christmas Day and finding out which ones were under my tree. So while you all do your Top 10 best and worst films of the year, I bring you my all time, most lusted after Christmas presents…
LUST-HAVE #10 – Sony Playstation.
CURRENT STATUS – Owned, AWOL.
Oh Sony Playstation, how I longed for you and loved you from afar. You see, I was seven when my four-year old cousin got the original Playstation console for Christmas the year it came out. Now, I love my cousin, but he was a right little shit about it and he never let me have a go on it until a few years later. So for a very long time, I used to sit there and watch him play Crash Bandicoot and Porsche Challenge whilst I sat there hoping he’d give me a chance. Eventually he did and years later we used to gang up on his younger brother and beat him all the time at multiplayer Crash Team Racing. After four years of not getting the hint, my parents finally gave in and bought me one which I never thought would happen as I wasn’t (and still aren’t) very good at gaming. My cousin rang me to tell me there was a Playstation-shaped box under the tree for me. I cried because he had to be lying. My Grandparents bought me Star Wars Dark Forces and I got even more upset because I didn’t have my own console to play it on. In reality, my cousin was right, my Grandparents thought I’d already opened the damn thing and I was just incredibly stupid for not getting the hints myself. Was loved for years and is now lost, along with the annoying dance mat which isn’t a bad thing…
LUST HAVE #9 – Hungry Hungry Hippos
CURRENT STATUS – Wanted aged 5, got aged 19…
Like many a child in the 1990s, I was drawn into the lie that a game about obese Hippopotami would fulfill my life. Ever since I saw the advert aged five, I’d always wanted my own game. I played it at nursery. I played it at my friend’s houses. I never got one. Fourteen years later and I receive one for my nineteenth birthday and, in all honesty, it wasn’t really the same. If a future me had visited my five-year old self and told me I’d spend my nineteenth birthday playing Hungry Hungry Hippos whilst being pissed out of my mind, I would have stopped asking for it. Currently collecting dust in the attic and not making a reappearance at parties any time soon…
LUST HAVE #8 – Chemistry Set.
CURRENT STATUS – Got one Christmas, binned the following week
Ok, so this isn’t something I lusted after but remains a very memorable present because the whole kit was in Ukrainian. Which no one in the family speaks. The week after Christmas it was binned for safety reasons and because I hated Chemistry. Best. Christmas. Ever.
LUST HAVE #7 – Anything related to The Lion King
CURRENT STATUS – All gone except the slippers I still have even though they haven’t fit me for the last 15 years…
I loved The Lion King so much as a child and was lucky enough to have a lot of stuff. Figures, leggings, cuddly toys, playsets, CDs, pyjamas, sweatshirts, t-shirts, beakers, towels, I had the lot. The memory that sticks with me the most is not getting the VHS the Christmas when everyone else got the VHS because ‘Santa had forgotten to deliver it’. In reality, it had fallen down the back of my Grandparent’s wardrobe and they couldn’t find it. This problem was rectified a few weeks later when ‘Santa delivered it with an apology’, i.e. when my Nana had found it. Everything has gone except the slippers that have Simba’s head on them which I plan on making my own children wear should I be blessed with any of the little buggers. My Nana got me the Blu-Ray this Christmas because she wouldn’t buy me an Emanuelle/Emmanuelle DVD…
LUST HAVE #6 – Bass guitars.
CURRENT STATUS – Got. Played. Now gathering dust.
When I was a teen, I wanted to be in a punk rock band. Brody Dalle, nee Armstrong (in the video above), was my idol and I was determined to be like her (and after I’d been to a gig and smoked a couple of packets of fags I sounded like her which pleased me greatly). I desperately wanted to learn bass guitar because it was just a hell of a lot cooler then playing the guitar and I pestered my Mum for years before she gave in. I was sorted. I had my music. I dressed like a crack-addicted prostitute. I was sure I was going to find love with a gorgeous, older punk and live happily ever after. I was going to be in a band. Except that it never happened. A few years later I stopped playing, grew out of the scene and realised my heart belonged to film. Now my beloved bass beauties are gathering dust and looking for a new home, whilst my Mother breathes sighs of relief that I no longer dress like a teenage Lolita…
LUST HAVE #5 – Anything related to Jurassic Park.
CURRENT STATUS – Bring it on!!
As a kid, I loved dinosaurs and Jurassic Park is one of my all time favourite films. I was four when it came out and had a few toys but not all the ones I’d wanted… So for my sixteenth birthday I asked my Mum for some raptors. Didn’t get any. Asked for my seventeenth and eighteenth, nothing. Nineteenth came and went with no dinosaurs. Enter my ex who bought me something Jurassic Park related every Christmas for the last three years and cue this summer when I went all Envy Adams on his arse and we broke up. Which now means I have to buy dinosaurs myself. Or ask my Mum again. Think I’ll have more luck going alone on this one…
LUST HAVE #4 – Anything sex/Sexploitation related.
CURRENT STATUS – I ask nicely but end up buying myself.
Who knew that asking for presents the older you get would be so bloody problematic. Now that I’m older, and also incredibly fussy at times, my family ask me what I’d like. Except that when I tell them what I’d really like, they tell me no. No porn, no sexploitation posters, no softcore DVDs, no sex books, nothing. Before I’d even been asked what I wanted this year, my Aunt rang my Mum and said that Emmanuelle or anything sex related was out of the question. So I got The Lion King instead. I’ve been asking my Father for the same academic book on sexuality for the past six years and somehow it never seems to be wrapped and delivered by Santa. He promptly suggested that he buy me a coat when I suggested he buy me a vintage quad poster for Sex Dens of Bangkok that would have only cost him £3.99!! God bless my boyfriend who spoils me endlessly by entertaining my interests. Next year I’ve threatened to decorate the tree next year with topless pin-ups if there’s no porn under the tree. Watch this space.
LUST HAVE #3 – Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow
CURRENT STATUS – Pokemon Master! Games AWOL…
Remember earlier when I said that my cousin wouldn’t let me have a go on his Playstation for years? Well, I got my own back. The year I got a Gameboy and the three Pokemon games, he didn’t and he really wanted to have a go at playing them. So I went all sadistic eleven year old and didn’t let him play once, mwhahahahahahahahahhaahhahaha! For someone who was absolutely terrible at gaming, Pokemon was my chance to shine, and shine I bloody well did. The only girl in school who knew how to play the game and be better at it then the boys who proclaimed they were amazing at it. I ruled, and it helped when you owned all 150 species and had trained them all to Level 100. No one I knew could beat me. Looking back, it just sounds really, really lame. Still, I’d give anything to have a real life Pikachu or Squirtle of my own…
LUST HAVE #2 – A footrub from the master himself.
CURRENT STATUS – Dream on you absolute weirdo.
It’s ok, I already know. I’m weird. It’s weird. But I can’t help it. Ever since the age of sixteen I have been keeping my feet beautiful and soft in the hope that one day, Tarantino himself will walk up to me and go ‘give me your feet’ and I’d give him my feet and he’d play with them and kiss my toes and it would be amazing aldskhf;akjbwvm sncxpojihkjfmdvxc… Ahem. For those who follow my Twitter feed, this isn’t exactly new news and I know it lumps me in the category of strange or perverted but I know it would be amazing. So, if anyone knows QT and knows he wouldn’t be put off by my Death Proof tattoo, tell him there’s some girl in London that would let him have his wicked way with her feet. That said, nothing compares to when my boyfriend slips off my shoes and massages my feet in the cinema. Word of warning, if the cinema is fairly empty and we’re sitting near the back alone, probably a good idea to join us later…
LUST HAVE #1 – Mr Frosty.
CURRENT STATUS – Owned, now disowned.
I’ll say this once, and I’ll say it over and over again. Mr Frosty is a paedophile. When I were a wee kid I saw the advert above and longed for a Mr Frosty. He looked so cool, so fun and had the promise of being able to make Slush Puppie-esque drinks at home. I never got a Mr Frosty… Until I turned nineteen. Yes, fifteen years after I first asked for one, I finally got one and realised they were pretty bloody boring. Flash forward to the following summer and cue me, incredibly pissed after downing around fourteen shots of vodka, telling a group of four to eight year olds that Mr Frosty is actually a paedophile and has spent the majority of his career grooming and abusing Penguin (the little juice squirter (See, it gets worse!!!) that comes with Mr Frosty (quite literally…) that is a small snowman in the advert above) into being his lover. This rant went on, and on, and on until my friend physically dragged me away. And it was done in front of their parents. All I remember are horrified faces and not a lot else. Mr Frosty hasn’t been seen since.