Transmissions from HorrorHound Indianapolis, 2016

After hearing so much about HorrorHound, I decided that I should probably see what all the fuss was about.  Indianapolis is roughly a 3 hour drive from my house, so it was a bit of a commitment, but it was one I was willing to make.

I haven’t really had a chance to collect my thoughts into anything even approaching coherent, so I decided to make this post a kind of dumping ground of uncollected thoughts.  I know you’re probably asking, “Well, if you can’t make your thoughts coherent, why post anything at all?”  I would respond that I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.

1. I hung out with CC and Sophie from the Bloody Good Horror crew for a little bit.  (Also, CC’s friend Andi.)  They were amazing.  I wanted to get my picture taken with them, but they all told me that their images wouldn’t show up on camera.  They told me this in unison, then looked me directly in the eye until I put my phone back in my pocket.  I reached up to touch my eye to find a small trickle of blood. But I’m sure it’s fine.  It’s FINE.
I also briefly met Joe from BGH.  He’s a tall gentleman with a firm handshake and would probably kill a man if he had to.  I liked him.

2. I stopped at Bojangles on my way out of town.  It was my first experience.  Some people swear it’s better than Popeye’s.  Those people are liars.

3. I walked into the main celebrity autograph room, heard a child screaming in delight and a man gruffly and loudly saying something I couldn’t understand.  I looked towards the sound to see a man holding a kicking child while the child’s parents laughed.  The man who was holding the child and speaking gruffly was Michael Rooker.  I assume the child survived.  I should probably not assume this.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer still haunts me.


4. Speaking of Michael Rooker, I saw the above monstrosity – what became of Rooker’s character in Slither – shuffling towards the celebrity room.  I should have followed him to see how that interaction would go, but I didn’t.  Whenever someone asks me if I have any regrets in my life, I will think about this moment and fall silent for a long time.


5. Not many Jokers showed up, so this guy really stood out.  Less because he was The Joker and more because he looked like Garry Shandling in really thick make-up.

6. Tony Todd seems like a super nice guy.  If I felt like spending money to have awkward conversations with celebrities, he would have been my first pick.  Instead, I opted to stand across the room from his table and stare at him as he talked to people.  Shockingly, I was not ushered out by security.

7. Every time I walked by Danielle Bisutti’s table, she was signing autographs and talking to people.  She always looked incredibly, sincerely interested in what they were saying.  I wanted to tell her how awesome I thought that was, but, again, I didn’t want to spend any money to tell her this.  I toyed with the idea of writing a note and asking someone in her line to give it to her while I stood across the room giving her a thumb’s up, but I didn’t have a paper and pen with me.

8. I want to adopt Tom Atkins as my grandfather.

9. One of the celebrity rooms hosted a Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers reunion.  There was a man dressed as Michael Myers standing outside the room all day.  He always agreed to a photo-op, but he never said a word and I never saw him take a break.  Pretty impressive commitment.

10. I was in a screening room before Yoga Hosers (more on that in a moment).  Chris Sarandon popped in, talked about how we would be watching a music video starring himself and directed by his stepson, then promptly left.  It was fine.  Chris Sarandon is still handsome.

11. After that music video, they put on a short film called Born Again.  I loved it.  Think if the ending of Rosemary’s Baby wasn’t quite as well orchestrated by the Satanic Cult.  It was a great concept and hilarious execution.  I can’t wait to see it again.

12. I really wanted to catch a screening of something while I was there.  I had pegged The Exorcist pilot, but I got in too late for that.  So I went with Yoga Hosers.  The trailer looked terrible, but I thought I would give it a shot.  After all, Tusk didn’t look great and I enjoyed that movie pretty well.
I should have known what I was in for during the introduction.  Robert Kurtzman stood in the front of the room and essentially told us that the movie was getting mixed reviews because some people don’t like to have fun.  “It’s a Kevin Smith movie.  They’re fun.  Just have fun with it.”  Someone yelled, “Kevin Smith is awesome,” and the crowd nodded in agreement.  I sat in the back of the room, ready to make a quick escape if the room saw I wasn’t enjoying myself and decided to turn on me.
I lasted roughly 40 minutes.  Here is what the bulk of the jokes involved:
– “Canadians say some words different than Americans.”
– “Teenagers sure like social media.”
– Women have periods.

There is also a scene in which it is strongly implied that a tiny Nazi sausage climbs inside a man’s anus and kills him.  I’m no prude, but death by Nazi sausage rape is not something that makes me laugh.  I know, I know.  Call me crazy.

Maybe I’m just old, but none of it was funny.  I thought about staying until the end, but I was tired and wanted to take one more pass of the floor before leaving, so I got up and left.  By that point, I had a good enough feel for the humor to know that if I didn’t enjoy it so far, I wasn’t going to suddenly find it funny.

13. This made me laugh entirely too hard.  They appear to be a couple of Michael Dougherty fans, with one more committed than the other.
Something to note: Sam’s sucker isn’t in its knife form.  That must be pre-murder Sam.  It was a simpler time for him.

14. I didn’t see Bruce Campbell, but I did see “Hall Of Heads Bruce Campbell,” and it will be sure to haunt my nightmares.  Those little teeth, man.  Those little teeth.

The Bruce Campbell mask was part of HorrorHound’s MaskFest: an entire room filled with masks.  I spent a lot of time in that room.


15. Sad Slenderman.  I can’t look at this picture without thinking about this:

16. I saw a young girl – 5 or 6, I would say – dressed like Taryn from Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  She had little switchblade knife combs and everything.  It was perfect.

17. There was a set of twin brothers: one was dressed as Ash from the Evil Dead franchise, the other was dressed as Ace Ventura.  I had seen these guys at the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention earlier this year.  Ace Ventura is always in character.  It’s impressive and it also seems like it would be exhausting.

I saw all of those things and so much more.  I had a blast.  It was a different experience than ScareFest – instead of one big room, this was broken up into a few different rooms, which led to some great people watching in some of the main areas – but I loved it.  The long drive will likely stop me from attending every year, but I can pretty much guarantee that my first visit won’t be my last.

Until next time, Mr. HorrorHound.

More shenanigans!

Transmissions from ScareFest 7

Transmissions from Wizard World Comic Con

Transmissions from the International Cryptozoology Museum

Diary of a Slasher: Entry 1

I wait just beyond the treeline.  I like to listen.  I have to listen.

It’s a little tricky.  I can’t reveal myself too soon or everything is lost.  It’s all part of the game; part of the code.  It’s not going to fall on me to screw it up.

Let me back up.  They call me Johnny Blood.  When I was alive, my name was John Hansen.  I must admit, I’m a fan of the name Johnny Blood.
I used to hang out around Camp Snowgrass during the offseason.  I liked to climb the trees and borrow a boat for an afternoon.  One day I happened upon a group of older children who did not take kindly to my presence.  They threw rocks at me.  The first couple didn’t bother me, but once they started to draw blood, something snapped.  The townsfolk found the bodies in one of the boats.  The boat was filled to the brim with blood – no small feat, let me tell you – and the bodies were hacked to pieces.
There was a quick bit of mob justice, and John Hansen was no more.

I still don’t know quite how – lightning strike to my casket seems the most likely culprit – but I awoke in my grave with a single goal: kill those responsible for my death.  Also, to kill teenagers.  I don’t know exactly why I am driven to kill random teenagers, but I am.  You won’t find me complaining about it.

You’ve heard some variation of this story a hundred times by now.  So what makes me so special?  Nothing really.  Just another dime-a-dozen killer.  I wanted to keep this diary for…oh, who knows what reason.  Boredom, I guess.

Where were we?  Oh yes.  “Just beyond the treeline.”

It’s a tradition among visitors to Camp Snowgrass to gather around the campfire and tell the story of Johnny Blood.  I say it’s tricky because there’s a timing to it all.  I can’t make a noise until they finish telling the story.  So I have to be within earshot, but I also have to be perfectly still.  Easier said than done when waiting in a forest literally crawling with all manner of bugs.  I can’t even reach under my mask to scratch my nose.  I swear those kids at the campfire wait to tell my story on purpose, just to put me through all of this.  I’m glad they’ll be dead soon.

The campfire stories always start the same way.  They tell the one about the hook on the car door.  The stranger in the backseat.  Eventually, someone says, “Sure, those are great.  But let me tell you a really scary story.  And it happened right here in this camp.”  As soon as my story is over – embellished a little more every time it is told, naturally – I step on a dried branch on the ground and move away quickly.  They’ll all snap their heads around and someone will say, “Did you guys see that?  I think I saw something.”

And then it’s on.

Last night, a new group of campers came in.  So there I stood, just out of sight, listening to their voices unite in song.

They started in song.  They always start in song.  Someone who knows 3 chords pulls out their guitar and butchers their way through a handful of songs.  It’s always “Kum Ba Yah,” followed by a few songs that were popular 10+ years ago.  It’s like a bad coffee shop performance, but with more marshmallows.

The sweet, sweet sounds of “Kum Ba Yah,” started up and I got myself mentally prepared.  They followed that up with “Let It Be,” then “Onward Christian Soldiers.” They finished up with “It Is Well.”
Then they prayed.
It’s a church group.  I’m stalking a church group.

I mentioned before that there are a lot of killers out there like me.  We have a Slack channel where we swap stories.  Dejectedly, I typed, “Church group.  They’re praying. Can you believe it?”

The replies came fast and furious, which led me to believe none of them were doing any killing that night either.  Slow day, I guess.

I stood there listening but not really hearing anything.  Eventually I heard, “Let me tell you a really scary story.  And it happened right here in this camp.”  My ears perked up.  Maybe there was hope for them yet.

The story was all wrong.  I didn’t hear a single word about dismembered bodies or boats filled with blood.  Not once did they call me Johnny Blood.  They referred to me as, “that poor, tortured soul,” and they all agreed to pray for me.

The story was done and it was time for me to play my part.  So I stepped on a dried branch and moved away quickly, but my heart wasn’t really in it.  I didn’t even hear anyone ask, “Did you guys see that?”  Probably because their heads were all bowed in prayer.

Disheartened, I trudged back to my dilapidated cabin.  How was I supposed to kill these kids if they weren’t scared of me?  How was I supposed to kill them if they didn’t engage in any lewd sexual encounters?  That’s how I always kick off my killing spree: wait until a couple is off in the throes of passion, then pick up two quick kills. The group doesn’t notice they’re missing for a long time, as everyone believes they’re engaging in some passionate necking.

Sure, I could still kill these kids, but what’s the point?  The other guys would all mock me.  “Tell me again about the time you snuck up on those praying kids and ripped their heads off with piano wire,” they’ll laugh.  They’re ruthless.

Maybe this will be different.  Maybe this will be the kind of church camp where everyone rebels and are hopping into each other’s bunks every night.
I don’t really believe that, but I have to hope.
Tomorrow.  Tomorrow I’ll head back out and watch.  Maybe they aren’t as squeaky clean as they appear.

The World Ender: A Short Story

I was a man.  But they took that from me.

I ran with The Sawyer Gang.  Chet & Amos Sawyer were brothers, and they were particularly savage creatures.  In the grand scheme of their gang, I found myself somewhere in the middle.  “The money crew,” as they called it.  Our main targets were banks and trains, but we’d hit anything that would put money in our pockets.  I would have knocked over a small child if it meant I could put a couple bucks in my pocket.  Hell, I probably did.

But the higher guys?  As near as I could tell, they would just rampage around the countryside, looking for people to kill.  Maybe they had their reasons.  Maybe they didn’t.  But that really was none of my concern.  As long as I kept pulling in money, they didn’t care who I was.

I wasn’t what you would call “happy,” but I was content.  I found something I was good at and I did it.  Isn’t that what happiness is?

That all ended when I met Myra.  She lived in town.  The Sawyers had a place about a mile outside, but I’d find myself in town about once a week.  I wish I could say my heart stopped the first time I saw her; that something within me changed immediately.  But that wouldn’t be true.  The truth of it is that I barely paid her any mind for a long time.  Hers was just another face I vaguely recognized.

The more I saw her, the more I paid attention.  A light seemed to shine from behind those pale blue eyes.
Our interactions started small.  I would tip my hat, she would smile shyly, look around and rush off.  Eventually I worked my way up to giving her a flower.  She abruptly turned around and walked as fast as she could in the opposite direction.  I watched her until her dirty blonde braid disappeared behind the side of a building.

I understood.  It was known that I was with the Sawyers.  And, though we never “practiced our craft” in the town, the people there knew who we were.  They were courteous, but only out of fear.  Every interaction was met with a tight-lipped smile.  I saw that face on every townsperson, and I saw that face on Myra.

I was undeterred.  All I wanted was a conversation.  After a few months, she started to warm up to me.  We exchanged pleasantries.  She allowed me to walk her home.  Eventually, she agreed to have dinner with me.

The Sawyers began to notice these interactions, and they did not care for them.  In their minds, if a man had someone to live for, it meant they might think twice when risking their lives for the good of The Sawyers, and that could not be tolerated.  I’m not a smart man, but I am a perceptive one, and I could feel the sword dangling over my head.

I met Myra for dinner.  She seemed happy.  Completely at ease.  I never thought I would find that.  I always assumed I would work my way up the ranks and die in a flurry of bullets, like every true outlaw dreamed of.  But if I ever was a true outlaw, that part of me had left.  I had to take my chance.

“Myra,” I said, taking her hand in mine.  “I know this is sudden, but I need to ask you something.”  Her eyes were wary, but not thrown off.  “I need to leave this place.  If the Sawyers find out about this…I don’t know what they’ll do.  They’ll come looking for me.  And as much as I would love it, I can’t ask you…”
She cut me off.  “I’ll come with you.”
I was completely taken aback.  I smiled bigger than I knew I was capable of.  “Tonight.  It has to be tonight.”
“Why not right now?” she asked with a smirk.  “This place has terrible service.”

We waited until dark.  Myra grabbed what she could and we rode out of town.  Together.  The thrill of it all was more than anything I had ever experienced.

We rode for days.  Weeks.  Months.  I lost track of time.  We rode until we were sure we were clear of the Sawyers and settled on some land hidden by trees.  We built a little house.  And we were happy.  Just us two.

It wasn’t long before “us two” became “us three.”  We welcomed Rosie into the world on a crisp August day.  She was everything to us.  She was beautiful.  She was perfect.  She was ours.

We had to expand the house to account for the little one.  One project led to another, and it got to a point where I couldn’t remember the last day I didn’t have a hammer in my hands.  It feels like all I did was blink and Rosie was right there next to me, swinging a hammer of her own.  She grew up quick, and life out there was tough, but she was about the sweetest, best-natured person I had ever come across.  She got that from Myra.  There were times I’d be building something with Rosie and I’d catch Myra out of the corner of my eye, just smiling.

Our life was perfect.  I should have known it wasn’t going to last.  Maybe I did and I just didn’t want to believe it.  A lot of people say they have premonitions about these kinds of things.  “I dreamed of a flaming horse riding through our house,” or something like that.  Maybe that’s true.  Maybe it’s not.  I know there was nothing like that for me.  One minute we were perfect.  And then all I remember were the flames.

The smoke was creeping under the door.  I smelled it, but I couldn’t immediately place what it meant.  By the time I reacted, it was already too late.

I can’t bear to relive most of the details of that night.  The sounds and smells are things I will never forget.  I watched as the light went out of Myra’s eyes.  And Rosie…I can’t even think about Rosie.  Then it was my turn.  I closed my eyes.  The last thing I heard was the voice of Chet Sawyer.  I can’t even remember what he said.  The words didn’t matter.  I felt cold steel against my throat and I slumped to the dirt, watching my blood mix with the dirt.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the sky. And maybe it was just the fire, but the sky burned a dangerous blood red.

I felt rage.  I felt anger.  I felt sadness.  Then I felt nothing at all.

They put me in the ground.  I don’t specifically remember it, but it must have happened as I found myself buried deep underground, without so much as a cheap wooden box to hold my body.  By the time I found my way to the surface, my house was nothing but a pile of ash.  It was cool to the touch.  How long had I been out?  And why am I not dead?

I reached up to feel my neck.  I felt dried blood and a deep wound.  Then I realized something else that I felt: my neck was cold.  I touched my face.  My arms.  My legs.  Everything was cold.  It dawned on me that the answer to the question “why am I not dead,” was easy: I was dead.

As I was attempting to process this information, I looked across the burned landscape that was once my home.  I noticed something caught in one of the trees, flapping slightly in the breeze.  I walked over and found it to be one of Myra’s scarves.  It had been burned in the fire, but only around the edges.  If I had been capable of tears, I can assure you at least one would have rolled down my cheek.  But I am not.  Not anymore.  I grabbed it from the tree and tied it around my neck to cover my scar.

My path was clear.  I would destroy the very mention of the Sawyers.  The name itself would die on people’s lips.  The mere thought of what happened to them would send shivers up spines.  I would take what they did to my family and repay it tenfold.  I would tear the world up until I had my revenge.

And so, with one last look at the remains of my home, I began walking.


The Conjuring 2: Spoilery Thoughts

I already wrote a review of The Conjuring 2, but I have some questions that would spoil the movie, so I opted to put them in a different post.  Because I am a kind soul.

conjuring 2 - valak

1. Lorraine was able to defeat the demon – Valak – by saying his name, screaming other things and condemning him back to hell.  Or something.  She only knew his name because Valak told her his name in a vision.  “I know his name, I know his name, GIVE ME MY BIBLE WHERE I CARVED HIS NAME,” she screamed.
So…why did Valak tell her his name?  They had no leads on the demon.  The only way they could have defeated him was by knowing his name, and he told Lorraine his name.  This wasn’t a case of finding out the name then needing to travel to some distant location to find more information and using it against him.  This was none of that.  This was a case of, “I say his name and he disappears.”  Valak had one weakness: that someone – anyone – speak his name.  And he handed them that weapon for no reason whatsoever.
I don’t understand why and I need someone to explain it to me.

2. Why did Janet float like Jean Grey when she was possessed at the end?

3. Why does Ed Warren have such a lovely singing voice?

conjuring 2 - ed with guitar

4 .Why do the Warrens have a teenage daughter they leave at home when they go on their missions?  Doesn’t leaving a teenager alone in a house with haunted items in the basement for weeks at a time seem like a recipe for disaster?

"There are frozen dinners in the microwave & don't worry about the whispers in the basement."
“There are frozen dinners in the microwave & don’t worry about the whispers in the basement.”

5. The idea of Valak using other creepy things as a way to throw everyone off was pretty crafty.  Who cares about looking for Valak if everyone is concerned about Bill Wilkins and The Crooked Man?  That’s a nice bit of misdirection there, Valak.  Good for you.

conjuring 2 - crooked man

Thoughts on Independence Day: Resurgence

Alien invaders count as horror, right?
I thought so.
Here are a handful of random thoughts about Independence Day: Resurgence.

id4 - city

1. Brent Spiner is a perfectly fine actor, but Dr. Okun was entirely too prominent in this movie.  The first Independence Day was the perfectly amount of Okun: get in, say some awkward things for laughs, have an alien tentacle wrapped around his neck and get out.
For this movie, it was almost like someone said, “Hey, what if we did that but for, like, half the movie?”  Okun is a good character in moderation.  “Moderation” is the exact opposite of what we got here.

id4 - spiner

2. Maika Monroe is great, isn’t she?  Man, she’s great.  I know there was an uproar over the fact that Mae Whitman wasn’t offered the chance to reprise her role from the original, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maika Monroe is great.  (For the record, Mae Whitman is also great.)
So here comes Monroe, stepping into the role of Patricia Whitmore to offer…nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  It ‘s not Monroe’s fault: it was a terrible, shallow character.  The few times Monroe was asked to really “bring it,” she did exactly that, only to see others not return the favor (or for the script to completely fail) and for those scenes to fall flat.

id4 - monroe

3. There was a subplot where Julius Levinson – the great Judd Hirsch – drives towards Area 51 with a schoolbus full of children.  I am very much looking forward to a spin-off in the vein of Cheaper By The Dozen.

Pictured: Julius with all his children
Pictured: Julius with all his children

4.  There were too many characters to really care about any of them.  Our “new blood” was comprised of 5 characters: Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Charlie Miller (Travis Trope).  That is entirely too many people to care about, especially when most of them are just empty husks.  They could have cut 3 of the characters and allowed us to form a stronger bond with the remaining 2: Patricia and Dylan.

5. It’s not Jessie T. Usher’s fault, but he was playing the role of Steven Hiller’s son and showed exactly zero of the charisma of Will Smith’s Hiller.  I say it’s not his fault, only because there are very few people who have the kind of easy charisma that Will Smith has.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that Dylan is Steven’s stepchild, so maybe that explains it.

I never said he didn't have smoldering eyes, though.
I never said he didn’t have smoldering eyes, though.

6. Liam Hemsworth is a very handsome man, but he is not a very good actor.

Not pictured: acting.
Not pictured: acting.

7. There is a great part at the beginning with an African tribe who hunted the aliens who crash-landed at the end of the first movie.  The tribe killed hundreds of aliens.  We spend a good bit of time with their leader, Dikembe Umbutu, who killed them with a set of machetes.  “You have to get them from behind,” he says.  He’s the best.
So what does he do for the majority of the movie?  He basically plays second-fiddle to a bumbling, comic-relief IRS stooge named Floyd.  I hated Floyd.  I hate Floyd so much.

id4 - dikembe

8. When in its case, the alien orb looked like The Matrix of Leadership from Transformers: The Movie.

id4 - matrix of leadership

9. What happened to Constance Spano (David Levinson’s ex-wife)?  Their relationship was a story throughout the original movie, and there is absolutely no reference to her here.  Not only is there no reference, but apparently Levinson has had a series of relationships over the past twenty years, including one such instance with Charlotte Gainsbourg (or her character or whatever).  I would have been happy with a simple comment.  Instead we got nothing.
An aside: I like Charlotte Gainsbourg (mainly her music), but, given her film roles (most notably Antichrist and Nymphomaniac), this movie seems like an odd choice for her.

10. On the Memorial Wall, the name “Russell Casse” can be seen, and a single tear rolled down my cheek.  When this comes out on Blu Ray, I’m going to pause that scene and see if I recognize any other names.

All of these thoughts (except the last one) are negative.  Independence Day: Resurgence is by no means a good movie, but it’s not a terrible one.  Sure, there are too many characters and that causes the movie to drag in parts.  But the action sequences were all tremendous and there were a lot of cool ideas (like, A LOT of cool ideas).  This felt like a movie that bit off more than it could chew: it had to fill in the gaps of what happened in the past 20 years, introduce a bunch of new characters, have the aliens return and set up a couple huge showdowns with said aliens.
I went to the theater and saw this as a double-feature with the original Independence Day.  Watching them back-to-back like that – along with the natural hype that comes with a 20 year delay – probably made this movie feel a little more disappointing than it actually was.  Again, this wasn’t a terrible movie: I think I just had my expectations set a bit too high.  I do think a couple changes would have made for a vast improvement (less Okun and fewer characters/storylines, mainly), but it still seems like a perfectly fine – if flawed – movie.  It’s tough to live up to the first Independence Day (some janky green screen aside, it still holds up and I still love it dearly), but this is still a movie I can see myself rewatching quite a bit.  I gotsta see that rampaging queen as much as possible, ya know?

id4 - queen 2

Two more thoughts, because I like to end on a positive note:

1. Jeff Goldblum is still a handsome man.

id4 - goldblum

2. William Fichtner is in this and he’s awesome.  William Fichtner is always awesome.

id4 - general