Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Film review: The Conjuring

Thanks to a youth spent reading everything I could on the paranormal, I was already familiar with the real Warrens and their reputations. Even better, thanks to Lorraine appearing occasionally on Paranormal State, I was primed for catching her cameo in THE CONJURING.

So part of my interest in seeing the film was based in prior knowledge and an appreciation for ghost stories. But more than that, even early reports on the movie gave a glimmer of hope that this might be one of those rare, genuinely good modern horror films. The casting seemed excellent, and while it's based on a true story that's similar to many other haunted house tales (fiction or not) it's a formula that just kind of works.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Day Terror

Tradition dictates that Thanksgiving is a time for family, and turkey slaughter. I say the latter with joy in my heart, as I harbor a grudge against all turkeys thanks to one biting me when I was young. I've been biting back with pleasure ever since.

Whether you're planning a traditional full-course turkey dinner with parents and kids and aunts and uncles and cousins and hobos (give that turkey an extra stab for me) or spending your day with the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon (Ahem... hi) it's certainly a time that gets you thinking about family. For better or for worse.

On the other hand, if yours is too much of a headache, you could always think about someone else's family, especially ones that make you more grateful for even your own potentially wacky kin. On that note, here are some of my favorite horror films featuring creepy relatives and terrified families.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book review: Doctor Sleep

It's sad, but I can count the number of Stephen King books I've read on one hand. THE SHINING, DUMA KEY and now, DOCTOR SLEEP. I've also read ON WRITING, I believe because it was required reading in a creative writing class I took in college. Deservedly so. If you're a writer and haven't read it yet, get on it right away.

And yet I wouldn't hesitate to say King is one of my favorite writers. I'm much more familiar with the film adaptations of his stories, but they are still his stories. So I'm a fan.

It is on my ever growing to-do list to read the original novels of stories like IT, CARRIE, THE STAND, PET SEMATARY, etc. but we all know how those lists tend to fare. I still haven't gotten to a bunch of Neil Gaiman books, like GOOD OMENS, AMERICAN GODS, and then of course, ANANSI BOYS. So King is in good company, I suppose.

I've missed a couple of his more recent novels, but I could not pass up DOCTOR SLEEP. It's the sequel to THE SHINING, which is one of my favorite horror novels, and in it King catches us up with how life has been treating Danny Torrance ever since he and his mother survived the insanity at the Overlook Hotel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book & Brew: Halloween Edition

During September my library featured a display I put together where I paired up books with beers based on a theme. We used it to help advertise an event we had in October on home brewing called You Can Brew It! I had a lot of fun coming up with the pairings and lists, and I'm sharing a handful of them each week here on the blog.

This is my last Book & Brew post, just in time for my favorite holiday. While I was developing a list of books and beers, I made a trip to my local liquor store to take advantage of their customizable six-pack in hopes that their selection would trigger some new ideas (plus... yes, I'd get to try some new beers.)

One of the selections I couldn't resist was New Holland Brewing Company's Ichabod Ale. It was an easy book reference, a pumpkin beer, and brand new to me.

(See the end of the entry for the thumbnail and link to the brewmark!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Bloodcurdling Birthdays

Before Carmageddon 2013 happened and I ended up on a week-long quest for a less crappy used car than the one I was perilously driving, I had a birthday.

Many of my friends are at the stage of life where they don't necessarily do anything major to celebrate. If they do, it's with their spouse, family, a couple of close friends maybe. Welcome to the 30+ club, I guess. I, on the other hand, coordinate something every year. Lately it's been game nights, which have been extremely fun. My theory is: I've had some really shitty birthdays. I've had some really shitty years of not having real friends, of being really lonely, and I still have a hard time reaching out to people because of all of that. So, being an adult with a nice group of really awesome friends, I've totally earned my right to surround myself with all the people I like at least once a year. You know, in person. As in, not on Facebook.

So I had a fantastic birthday with fantastic people, fantastic games, food and beverages.

But as most life events do, it got me wondering about birthdays in horror. What were some of the absolute worst birthdays on film? Here are my top 5, in a general order of how creepy I find them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book & Brew: Bloodsuckers

During September my library is featuring a display I put together where I pair up books with beers based on a theme. We're using it to help advertise an event we're having in October on home brewing called You Can Brew It! I had a lot of fun coming up with the pairings and lists, and I'm sharing a handful of them each week here on the blog.

Out from his coffin, Drac's voice did ring-- seems he was troubled by being left out of the Book & Brew. Luckily I had a couple of good choices lined up to keep the old bloodsucker happy.

(See the end of the entry for thumbnails and links to the brewmarks!)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Something Really Scary

Forget zombie apocalypses, haunted houses and slashers. You know what's really scary? Car salesmen.

Life got derailed again thanks to some serious problems with my mode of transportation. But I've got something newer now, and fingers crossed, I'm hoping it will last me longer than the previous car.

 But goddamn if car buying isn't one of the most awful experiences in one's life. Maybe not if you have a lot of money, time, and patience for bullshit. I sure didn't, and usually don't.

 On the other hand, I'm feeling inspired towards some car-related horror to help purge my system.

 In other news, Happy October! It's the one time of year where everybody else catches up and makes my weirdness a little less weird. I kind of adore Fall weather too, even though it's felt more like June than October lately. But I sense more hoodie-weather approaching.

 I'll finally be getting back to some new content this week, so here's to pumpkin-flavored everything, making the world more spooky and getting life back on track.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book & Brew: End of Days

During September my library is featuring a display I put together where I pair up books with beers based on a theme. We're using it to help advertise an event we're having in October on home brewing called You Can Brew It! I had a lot of fun coming up with the pairings and lists, and I'm sharing a handful of them each week here on the blog.

This week's topic is the source of some of my greatest nightmares: The Apocalypse. The End, Game Over, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200, Go Straight to Hell. Whether it's zombies, robots, demons, nukes, or demon zombie-robots made of nukes, might as well have a drink cause The End Is Near.

(See the end of the entry for thumbnails and links to the brewmarks!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book & Brew: Hell's Bells

If you didn't catch last week's post on beers to go with the undead, during September my library is featuring a display I put together where I pair up books with beers based on a theme. We're using it to help advertise an event we're having in October on home brewing called You Can Brew It! Plus I had a lot of fun coming up with the pairings and lists.

This week, my second horror-themed brewmarks come straight out of hell.

(See the end of the entry for thumbnails and links to the brewmarks!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book & Brew: Zombies!

I've been on vacation for the past week or so, but before I took my time off I got to work on a fun project for a library display. I was pretty excited about the program lineup I'd worked on for Fall, which includes a lecture on home brewing called You Can Brew It! It gave me an idea to make a book display that would pair up books with craft beers, based around their theme. I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas- and I got plenty of help from my friends! On the display we'll have bookmarks I made that feature a book-beer pairing, or to suggest a list of books that matched a particular beer's theme. I've taken to calling them "brewmarks."

(See the end of the entry for thumbnails and links to the brewmarks!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book review: City of Bones

Young adult fiction isn't an area of expertise for me, but I've found myself enjoying some of the more popular sci-fi/fantasy series that have popped up over the last few years. I think the appeal for me is emotional, as there's an intensity to the protagonist that drives the story. Not that adult fiction can't be dramatic and emotional, but there's something about young adult fiction, some hook that you don't always find in adult novels. On the other hand, I also usually can't read one YA novel after another. I need a serious break from the teenage mind to read and think like an adult again. I'm currently rejoining the adult world with Richard Matheson's I AM LEGEND after blowing clear through Cassandra Clare's CITY OF BONES in a matter of days.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Horror Marathon: Shark Week Edition

This Sunday marked the beginning of a beloved annual Discovery Channel tradition: Shark Week. I myself am not necessarily a shark enthusiast, but I would have loved to check some of it out... if Comcast, slimy bastards that they are, had not taken away the few remaining cable channels that I actually gave a damn about. I'm not entirely sure I still have enough channels for it to qualify as cable, but they still keep charging me for it every month like clockwork. (If there's any justice in the world, someone from Comcast will read this and do something to sway my increasingly plummeting opinion of their service, which I am eager to drop completely.)

So instead, I'll have to make do with whatever content Discovery puts on their website. I also took it upon myself to have a bit of a shark marathon over the weekend, to get in the mood. Creature features are not my forte in the genre, they either have to be really good, or really funny to keep my interest. Out of the four films I chose, I had only seen JAWS once before. All things considered, it didn't turn out too bad. I came out with one great film, one surprisingly decent film, and two that I feel dumber for having watched.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Film review: Mama

Let's amputate the fancy preamble and cut to the chase about this movie. I don't have a good segue for it, and it seems so clear to me in the light of day that I want to jump right in.

Watching the Guillermo del Toro produced MAMA was like reading a story out of sequence. Being an aficionado of horror movies featuring frustrated ghosts, I know the drill. Spooky happenings, the skeptic explains it away, the believer does some research and finds a juicy story, activity ramps up, maybe the ghost is finally seen to prove its existence, they realize they have to do something to appease or banish the ghost, and in some films that works and in others it totally doesn't and they're all hosed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Before I get into my review, I'd also like to highly recommend the blog entry from Amanda Palmer that I link to. Actually, you should just read anything she writes. It's a totally different experience from reading what her husband writes, but it's glorious all the same. I just enjoy very much what she wrote about her relationship with Neil in that specific entry. 

I have a bit of a relationship crush on Neil and Amanda. I will explain... 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

To Induce Terror

It's no secret that I love words. I love them so much, that the way a person uses words can be a major factor in not only what I think about them, but how I feel about them. Am I saying that I fall in love with the way people talk? A little bit, yeah.

It's the words they choose, how they string them together, how creative they can be creating new words, what type of slang they use; and of course, basic spelling and grammar.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Based on the Book

Since I hope to write about book-to-movie crossovers several more times in the coming months, I want to mention that I know it seems naive to expect anything but the cliched conclusion of: It wasn't as good as the book. I'm aware of this weakness of mine; the perpetual hope that the movie will recreate the feeling of the book it was based on. But it's not entirely baseless either, as there have been quite a few quality film adaptations that were faithful to the spirit of the book. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book review: Warm Bodies

As I write this, the film version of WARM BODIES is burning a hole in my dining room table. After reading the book, I'm both dying to watch it, and a little nervous. I'm worried that it will pale in comparison to the novel. I'm worried it will turn into a completely different type of story just based on the trailer I saw a while back. I'm worried it will lose everything that I loved about it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Film Review and Freak-out: Kairo (Pulse)

I hesitate to call this a review, because my reason for writing it has more to do with something out of real life that happened while I was watching it. If you're already familiar with PULSE, you'll understand why I was terrified, but if not, I'll explain to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Obituaries 101

I've learned a lot about obituary research both from my own interest in cemeteries and gravestone art, and my professional experiences working in libraries. I can't say it's a huge part of my job as it is right now, but we do still receive requests from people digging through their family history who need that extra little bit of information. For example, I had someone call from out of state just last week, who was hoping to get the names of surviving children out of a couple of obituaries he requested.

If you've ever done this sort of research, or see yourself getting interested in it eventually, I thought of a few tips specific to obituary research that might adjust your expectations, tweak your tactics and hopefully, increase your chances of successfully finding what you need.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book review: The Lords of Salem

I'm a pretty lucky reader. I like almost all of the books I read in varying degrees, I rarely find a story so bad that I can't finish it, and I have never wished I could have the hours I spent reading a book back.

But after reading LORDS OF SALEM... well, I'm not saying I wish I had those hours back, but I wouldn't complain if some flying spaghetti monster god of fiction decided in his infinite mercy to grant them to me.

It was an interesting idea, and I liked parts of it, I just felt that there were so many things wrong with the approach, as well as the plot and character development. I say that as both a reader and a writer. And I don't like writing negative reviews, I like to give all creative works a chance; but I also have to be honest. And I honestly don't have a lot of positive things to say about my experience, but I will try to be constructive at the very least.

I'm going to stop here and say that there might be spoiler-ish information in my review, so if you're concerned about that you may want to skip this. My brief spoiler-free version is: If you're a big Rob Zombie film fan, have at it. It's gory, it's heavily influenced by past eras of horror, maybe you'll find it fun. If you're on the fence about his films, or outright don't like them, you may find this less fun. There are interesting, redeemable parts to the story, but the authors make a few wrong turns in terms of plot and character and leave you stranded in a bad part of town by the end.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Little Too Close to Home

I'd like to have a bit of a "fireside chat" moment, if I may.

Not that the image above is what most of us think about when I use that phrase, but it's an incredibly soothing image to me right now so I'm going with it. For all my creepiness, at heart I'm a simple person, comforted by simple things.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dark Matters: Twisted But True

I've been feeling pretty sympatico with Sisyphus lately. If you don't remember your Greek myths, King Sisyphus was super clever, but murderous and conceited. He believed he was more clever than Zeus himself, going so far as to betray one of Zeus' secrets to another god. He kept evading punishment by the gods, which led to him being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down the other side and have to repeat the process forever.

It's felt like a metaphor for my life in general, but also for my Netflix queue. It's a never-ending parade of movies, TV shows and documentaries that I don't seem to make any real progress on. 

Over the weekend I finally got to a show called "Dark Matters," something I added while browsing without knowing much about it. According to the summary: "Dark Matters tells dramatized stories of science on the dark and ragged edge of human understanding, where experiments can be ethically controversial and the results can be mind-blowing." It's hosted by John Noble from FRINGE, an on-the-nose choice if I ever saw one.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Horror is Other People

One of the pitfalls of enjoying older horror films is discovering whether or not they still hold up in the 21st century. Some are so inextricably tied to their time period, that they lose any possibility of timelessness. But even if the audience is fine with that, accepts it, even loves it, it could still lose them if it just isn't scary anymore. Sometimes the only thing left is the satisfaction and appreciation for a well-crafted, masterful horror film-- even if it's no longer that relevant to modern life or modern fear.

One of the films that I find still holds up really well is PSYCHO.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Belated Memorial Day Thoughts

While I was in Washington D.C. this April, one of my top priorities was getting to see Arlington National Cemetery. When you're a taphophile and aerophobic (a.k.a. afraid of flying), if you can psych yourself into getting on a plane and flying someplace with a major, historical, important cemetery nearby, you make that trip count. Mine ended up counting even more than I expected.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Film review-ish: Scream 4

During lunch at a recent library training event, somehow the topic of the SCREAM trilogy came up in a somewhat disparaging way. As always, I was the lone weirdo who halted the conversation to say, "But... I like the SCREAM series!" One of my colleagues backed me up on the first movie, but... only the first movie.. Okay, okay...

I don't believe in guilty pleasures, so anyone hoping I'm going to back down and admit that two and three sucked and I have bad taste for liking them is going to be more than a little disappointed. I try to avoid judging other people's tastes, even though I might not be perfect at it, and I hope that others will allow me the same courtesy in return. My theory is, looking down my nose at what someone else likes accomplishes nothing except possibly making that other person feel bad. I don't want to be responsible for that!

So let's address SCREAM.

Monday, May 20, 2013

10th Anniversary of Buffy TVS's "Chosen"

Usually when we say "I remember where I was when..." it's a reference to a historically important event. I could never compare something like an episode of a television show to an event like that, but I can't deny that I have strong, vivid, emotional memories of media that has touched me on a deep level. Many of those memories are about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

American Mary

As of today, AMERICAN MARY is officially out on VOD! You can see it through Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, Verizon or iTunes. The film will also have a limited release in the U.S. starting May 31st. The best way to find out if it's coming out near you is probably to keep an eye on the film's Twitter feed or Twisted Twins Productions' Facebook page.

However! If you're in the Chicago area you're in luck...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Since ODDITIES is already in their fourth season, I feel I'm a little late to the game on singing their praises. I had been meaning to take a look at it for a while, but finally started over the weekend after an insane night of coolant dumping out of my car, fumes inside the car, getting the car towed, getting a ride back home, etc. As my sister and I sat eating a really late dinner of Mexican food, she brought the show up again and I popped it on. It would be no exaggeration to say that I was hooked from the very first episode. It's like crack for nerdy weirdos. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

King's Chapel Burial Ground (Boston, MA)

This is the third cemetery in a series of photos I've taken at various Boston cemeteries. Today, we're moving on to King's Chapel Burial Ground. Most of this will look pretty similar to the other two cemeteries I've talked about, but they play around a bit with those common themes and symbols. Believe me, I could have stacked this post with winged death's heads- they're absolutely everywhere (and my favorite)- but that doesn't give you a good idea of the variety of artwork this cemetery has.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Film review: The Innkeepers

THE INNKEEPERS has been out for a couple of years, and my most recent viewing was not even the first time I had seen it. But I feel compelled to write about it for a couple of reasons: one, I think it gets a bad rap for the pacing. Two, my opinion of it has evolved over time. I feel better about discussing it now, rather than writing some review back when it first came out without the benefit of hindsight.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hide Your Stick Figure Family...

I laughed really hard at this the other day. Weird things really do follow me everywhere I go-- or in this case, drive right in front of me. Get 'em, Jason!

I'm taking the day off to work on my non-blog writing (at least I'd better be doing so right now as this posts, or I'm going to kick my own ass!) and I've had to slow down to catch up on non-bloggable books and movies and projects, but fingers crossed, I might have a couple pretty exciting things happening within the next month or so!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

National Museum of Natural History: Dead Things!

I already mentioned that I was visiting the Museum of Natural History in D.C. earlier this month, these are just a few other photos from various exhibits that I passed through. Skeletons = educational and creepy fun!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crowdfund all of the things

Okay, I know this is going to be, like... super crowdfunding project day, it's just a coincidence that I've come across a bunch of really cool opportunities to support not only media creators, but also kindred comic-loving spirits, and since this is C2E2 weekend I'm feeling a lot of visual storytelling love. Disclaimer, these are not horror related projects, so consider this me being temporarily off-topic.

House of the Blood Sisters Kickstarter

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I'm big on supporting independent artistic projects. It takes a lot of passion and hard work to get your vision made outside traditional models, and I respect anyone that embarks on that journey. I can't always afford to support them financially (there are too many!!) but I like to do what I can to help spread the word.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book review: The Demonologist

One of my more recent favorite books was "The Historian," by Elizabeth Kostova. It's not light reading, the tome weighs in at a hefty 642 pages. But every single page is worth it- so much so that I've read it twice, which is more than I can say for most of my favorite adult books published after, say, 1980. This Librarian of the Dead has so much stuff to read all of the time, that I took the time to read that TWICE. Think about it.

I loved the way "The Historian" mixed horror and supernatural themes with mystery, adventure, historical fiction, and a rich sense of setting. Specifically, the book explores the legends of vampires and Dracula in relation to the main characters. If any of this has made your inner reader perk up, I highly recommend the book. Don't be intimidated by the size, it moves quickly.

For those who just can't stomach 600+ pages, or have already read "The Historian" and enjoyed it, I would not hesitate to suggest Andrew Pyper's "The Demonologist."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Home again, home again...

I had an amazing time in D.C. last week, and I have some great photos to share with you guys! In the meantime, enjoy my very stupid sense of humor. What can I say, watching camp counselors get slaughtered sounded like a good way to unwind after all that travelling and sightseeing.

Photo: I'm a simple person, amused by stupid, silly things.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Film review: House at the End of the Street

I was sure that HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET was a remake. I could have sworn there was already a movie with this title, but I guess I must have been thinking of one of the other dozens of "house" movies out there.

I really want to be fair to HOUSE, since there are already many polarizing reviews out there. I won't lie that I had a few snarky comments spring to mind while watching it. ...And I'm probably going to include a couple of them here. I had some genuine issues with the way the plot and characters were written, even if I did like the direction they went by the end of the film. I try to avoid spoilers, but I'm probably going to have to get into a couple of them to do this justice.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My So-Called Secret Identity

This is a little outside the realm of the Library of the Dead, but I think the creators of this comic are doing something really important here. Critiquing mainstream comics for the way they portray women only gets you so far: the people behind independent comic My So-Called Secret Identity are trying to show the comics industry how it should be done.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Horror Added to Netflix as of March 31st

The batch of horror added to Netflix this month doesn't have anything that's terribly exciting to me. It's awesome that 2001 MANIACS is there, and amusing that 976-EVIL 2 was added. I am interested in seeing HANSEL & GRETEL and CITADEL, although I'm not expecting them to be brilliant. The plots of a couple others sound intriguing just because I like creepy/haunted hospitals and houses, but I'm betting they aren't anything to write home about.

The new addition I'm most excited about is actually Craig Ferguson's "I'm Here To Help" show, which I must watch IMMEDIATELY. God, I love that man.

Title - Date added - Netflix link

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter! It's a Thing!

On Easter, I personally just go where I'm told and eat whatever animal carcass placed in front of me. But the most effective way to renew my interest in a holiday is to make is creepy as hell. Thanks to for making my Easter nightmares come true:

God, that's terrifying. The best part of their article is the captions, so check it out for your holiday larf!

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Take My Coffee Dark, Like My Nightmares

To be more precise and less clever, I take my coffee black. And yes, I can hear you wiseacre Airplane! fans finishing that sentence for me. I'm a big fan of almighty caffeine and the wonderful ambiance of the coffeehouses, diners and cafes that it especially calls home. I hope that in some tiny way that appreciation was, before I was old enough to drink coffee, once influenced by a little TV show on NBC that was cut down before its time: NIGHTMARE CAFE.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book review: Hemlock Grove

On April 19th, Netflix is launching another of their original series-- this time in the horror genre! HEMLOCK GROVE is based on the novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy, and the story is a modern gothic mix of horror, fantasy and mystery.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Comic review: Revival Volume 1, "You're Among Friends"

My local Chicago comic fandom is slowly spreading through the entirety of Four Star Studios, which includes local comic creators Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, Sean Dove, Josh Emmons, Chris Burnham, and Jenny Frison. I started out loving HACK/SLASH from Tim Seeley, discovered Jenny Frison's artwork through that series, and now REVIVAL has gotten me into Mike Norton's work, as well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Comic review: Severed

As much as I love comics, I'm constantly behind on the latest and greatest because I don't read issue-by-issue. Even when I purchase part of a series, I tend to buy the trade paperback rather than each individual comic. Most of the time I borrow titles through the library, and they too purchase either trade paperbacks or hardcover collections. The fact is, issues are more difficult to keep current, more fragile, and would require a different sort of display space than most libraries have. Whether they should or not is a debate for another time.

Given these facts, I have not been able to jump on the SEVERED bandwagon as early as I would have liked. But I'm there now!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Moments from my Creepy Childhood

All together now, readers: "That explains a lot!"

I doubt it was my parents' intent to fill my childhood with creepy things, but as you can deduce from this blog, I gravitated towards them on my own.

This particular item is not just any book about ghosts, monsters and ghouls in a dank castle. This is a *pop-up book* about THE GHOSTS OF CREEPY CASTLE.