Bella Morte’s “Exorcisms”

My longtime friends Bella Morte have just released the title track from their forthcoming album “Exorcisms.” I’ve known these guys for 14 years now, since they were a scrappy darkwave duo featuring Andy Deane on vocals and Gopal Metro on bass. While Gopal left several years ago, he’s remained friends with the current line-up (Andy, guitarist Tony Lechmanski, drummer Jordan Marchini, and bassist Marshall Camden) and will be playing bass for their upcoming Dragon Con performance. Gopal and his wife Angel have a current project named Gild the Mourn that you should keep your eyes on as well.

This track definitely falls in the vein of Bella Morte’s more current material, so expect rich vocals and atmospheric music with a pulsing rock beat. Marshall Camden directed this video, which is their most stylish to date. Very cool stuff.

“Exorcisms” has a street date of October 28, via Metropolis Records.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Turns 45!

Haunted Mansion

Disneyland’s iconic Haunted Mansion is celebrating its 45th anniversary this weekend. Wikipedia reports that there were employee previews and “soft” openings August 9 and 10th, 1969 before its official debut August 12th.

I’ve only been to Disneyland once, and the ride was overlaid with its “Nightmare Before Christmas”-themed Haunted Mansion Holiday at the time. Haunted Mansion Holiday is excellent, but I honestly don’t feel like I have seen the “true” Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Luckily, I am well acquainted with its Walt Disney World counterpart (aka “the one in Florida”).

With its mix of quirky humor and ghoulish imagery, the Haunted Mansion “style” looms very large over Derexploitation. I still haven’t seen that Eddie Murphy movie, though.

“Vampire Chronicles” film series back on track

Interview With The Vampire Better late than never, I suppose: Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to develop Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” as a film franchise. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are currently slated to produce the films for Imagine Entertainment.

I’m actually surprised that it took so long for this to happen. My preference would have been for a cable TV series, but I hope for the best with this project. I loved Neil Jordan’s “Interview With the Vampire” — I still would have preferred Brad Pitt as Lestat and Tom Cruise as Louis, though — but with that film turning 20 years old this November, it makes sense to just restart the series from square one.

“Queen of the Damned”… well, that was rough, but my stance has softened since director Michael Rymer is involved with NBC’s excellent “Hannibal.” But my favorite aspect of that movie is still that Godhead’s “Penetrate” appears on the soundtrack.

Casting will be critical. It’s one thing to cast an actor as Lestat the aristocrat, or Lestat the hard rocker, but it will be a challenge to find someone who can be convincing as both. Personally, I think Reeve Carney or Ben Barnes would be a great Louis; Carney would be a good Armand if they are gunshy about casting a teenage actor in that role. My dream choice for director? Park Chan-wook. His underrated vampire movie “Thirst” combines poetic grace with unflinching violence.

Oh yeah, and here’s that Godhead song. Killer band!

(Source: Variety)

Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”

Amy Adams in Big Eyes

Over last weekend, USA Today revealed the first official look at Amy Adams as Margaret Keane in Tim Burton’s upcoming biopic “Big Eyes.” Christoph Waltz plays her husband Walter Keane, with Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, and Terence Stamp co-starring. Danny Elfman is providing the music, as he has with he majority of Burton’s films (and that’s A-OK with me).

The movie chronicles the real-life story of artist Margaret Keane, whose husband Walter took credit for her paintings of big-eyed kids. After their divorce, Margaret tried to rightfully claim credit for her work. Things were ultimately settled in a courtroom “paint off.”

I’m looking forward to this one. While the paintings are pretty damn creepy, they weren’t intended to be, so this will be a bit of a radical shift for Burton. After the epic “what went wrong?!?” of “Dark Shadows,” followed by the “it was OK” of his “Frankenweenie” feature, that is fine with me. Even better, this film finds Burton reteaming with “Ed Wood” screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. So even if the subject matter doesn’t grab me per se, I’m hoping that this project gets Burton back on track.

“Big Eyes” opens December 25, 2014.

(Source: USA Today)

“Lizzie Borden Took An Ax”

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

Last November, I posted about “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax,” a then-upcoming telefilm based on the infamous Fall River Murders. I missed it when it aired this past January, and to be honest, I didn’t hear good things about it. I wanted to give it a fair shake, though, so I watched it now that it’s on Netflix.

It’s… OK. It’s neither spellbinding entertainment nor is it terrible — it is what it is, a TV movie based on a true crime. Christina Ricci is perfect for this kind of period piece morbidity, and the always welcome Stephen McHattie shows up as patriarch Andrew Borden. There’s an odd contemporary rock score that gives the proceedings an element of camp; whether that tone is appropriate for a film about real-life murders will be up to you to judge. Overall, “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax” is diverting enough, but feels like a great marketing poster with a movie attached to it. The truly surprising thing is that there are so few films about this case.

IDW unleashes “Edward Scissorands II: The Reckoning”

Edward Scissorhands comic

OK, not really, but that was a fun (if rather clichéd) thing to say. But over the weekend at San Diego Comic Con, IDW DID announce that they will be debuting an “Edward Scissorhands” comic this fall. I’m not sure how they will make this into an ongoing series, but they’ve lined up a damn good creative team. I’ll definitely give it a shot, as “Edward Scissorhands” is one of the canonical Derexploitation films… but what I really want to see is a Ted Naifeh series based on Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

IDW’s announcement:

San Diego, CA (July 25, 2014) – Just in time for Halloween, IDW Publishing and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products are proud to announce the first in a number of new projects together, with the first ever “Edward Scissorhands” comic book series. The long overdue all-new adventures begin in October, with New York Times best-selling author Kate Leth (“Adventure Time”) on writing duties and Drew Rausch (“Haunted Mansion”) lending his delightfully spooky style to the interior art. Rounding out the creative team will be acclaimed Locke & Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez, who will provide a stunning and suitably creepy cover for the debut issue.

“‘Edward Scissorhands’ is one of those dream projects that only pop up once in a lifetime, so any new story set in its universe demands to be treated with love and reverence,” said IDW Editor Sarah Gaydos. “We’ve found a team in Drew and Kate, along with a crew of top cover artists who are not only exceptionally worthy of the task, but are bringing something completely fresh and relevant to the table.”

The 1990 cult-classic film from auteur Tim Burton, “Edward Scissorhands” ends with the heroine of the story, an aged Kim being asked by her granddaughter, “How do you know he’s still alive?” to which she answers, “I don’t know. Not for sure. But I believe he is.” In the comic book event of fall 2014, IDW Publishing revisits this modern classic two decades after the end of film to finally answer that question.

“I’m overwhelmed with excitement to be writing ‘Edward Scissorhands.’ As a former (and lifelong) teen goth, few things are as close to my heart as Tim Burton’s cult classics,” said series writer Kate Leth. “We’re taking the story forward in time and telling a bit of a girl detective story—one of my favourite genres—a bit closer to modern times but still with that eerie, anachronistic touch. It’s a bit creepy, a bit scary, but always full of wonder. Drew and I have so much love for the film, and we like to think it shows. Keep your eyes peeled for easter eggs and plenty of spirals…”

Kim’s granddaughter, Meg, grows up with Edward Scissorhands only being a legend, a bedtime story. But when weird things start to happen in her sleepy little town, it reawakens her curiously and she decides to search out for the mysterious Edward Scissorhands.

“I keep having to remind myself that this is happening—but if there was ever a team made for telling the further tales of Edward Scissorhands, it has to be Kate and I,” said series artist Drew Rausch. “No—seriously, IDW just built us a few months ago from some parts they had lying around. It’s been a little weird. We’re still getting the hang of all this “living” stuff but we promise to deliver a story that’s just as perfectly timeless, chilling and heartwarming as the original—cross our cookie hearts!”

(Source: The Search For Edward Scissorhands Begins At IDW)

“Heavy Metal Movies”


Full disclosure: I asked for — and received — a review copy of this book. But you know me, I wouldn’t recommend something if I didn’t like it, which is hardly the case here. “Heavy Metal Movies” was my most anticipated book of the year, and I’m happy to say that it delivers.

When I first heard about Mike “McBeardo” McPadden’s “Heavy Metal Movies,” I thought, “oh cool” — quickly followed by, “wait, are there enough heavy metal movies to fill a book?” Let’s face it, most explicitly “heavy metal” movies are guilty pleasures at best, with one of the best being a straight-up comedy (that being, of course, “Spinal Tap”). Luckily, McPadden’s approach was the include movies that featured the iconography of metal: sword and sorcery action, post-apocalyptic futures, Gothic nightmares, midnight classics, and, yes, cheesy ’80’s horror flicks.

“Heavy Metal Movies” is organized in an encyclopedia format, so if you’re like me, you’re going to immediately flip around to see what McPadden has to say about your favorites. I was surprised that Dario Argento’s “Opera” was not included, but so many of his other films are present so I can’t complain. Lamberto Bava’s “Demons?” Well, yeah, that’s in there! What about Disney’s “Frozen?” OK, that’s too new but maybe that will be in a forthcoming edition, since McPadden shares my opinion that it meets the criteria for being “a heavy metal movie.” It’s also good to find someone else who thought that “Rock Star” was condescending to metal fans.

Like many of my favorite books of this type, “Heavy Metal Movies” feels like someone’s talking to you about these really cool flicks that you have to check out. It helps that McPadden has a genuine affection for this stuff. He’ll call it like he sees it, but thankfully his writing isn’t marred by an “I’m too cool to really like this stuff” attitude that runs rampant these days. Critical, but not nasty “to be cool”; I’m not sure if it’s part of Bazillion Points’ philosophy, but I found this refreshing attitude in another one of their books, Matt Wagner’s superlative “Mean Deviation.”

Heavy metal and high-thrill cinema have been joined together like mutant twins since before Black Sabbath took the name of a chilling Italian horror film in 1970. The unadulterated journey of Heavy Metal Movies spans concert movies and trippy midnight flicks, inspirational depictions of ancient times and future apocalypses, and raw hand-held digital video obsessions. As brash, irreverent, and visceral as both the music and the movies themselves, Heavy Metal Movies is the greatest guidebook to the complete molten musical cinema experience.

Interview: Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, author of “Heavy Metal Movies”

Heavy Metal Movies

Cover art by Andrei Bouzikov

The new book “Heavy Metal Movies” is, as the subtitle proclaims, devoted to “Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever!” It was also my most anticipated book of the year — look for a review soon. In the meantime, though, author Mike “McBeardo” McPadden took time out to answer some questions.

Read the rest of this entry

“Dracula Untold” trailer

This trailer leaked out last week and was quickly pulled. An official one has been up for a few days now, so I’ll go ahead and run it. This is another movie that looks like something I would have made if I had the resources to make movies in my early 20’s. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, here’s to hoping it leans towards the “legitimately good” side of the spectrum more than “guilty pleasure.”

Tim Burton’s “Batman” Turns 25

25 years. Seriously?!? It hurts my brain to think that a quarter of a century has passed since Tim Burton’s “Batman” changed popular cinema.

What’s even harder to believe is that in 1989, I didn’t care that it was “a Tim Burton film.” I didn’t see “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and was mostly confused by “Beetlejuice.” I listened exclusively to heavy metal at the time, so Danny Elfman’s involvement held no weight with me. While I had watched the Adam West series as a kid, I didn’t have a lot of vested interest in Batman, so the “MICHAEL KEATON IS GOING TO RUIN BATMAN!!!” furor didn’t affect me. “Batman” was more my brother’s thing, so we went to a midnight show. I enjoyed it. I’d like to say that it converted me into a Tim Burton fan on the spot, but it didn’t. I just enjoyed it, though I particularly loved Anton Furst’s gorgeous design work.

Flash forward 25 years.  I’m still not a hardcore Batman fan, but I give the movie props for effectively breaking Burton’s pop-gothic vision to the masses. Yeah, both “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beetlejuice” were successful, but neither were nowhere near the blockbuster level of “Batman.” This blog simply would not exist without “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood,” and especially “Sleepy Hollow,” not to mention his collaboration with director Henry Selick, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

BTW, if you are a fan of the Burton era of “Batman,” be sure to check out Loaded with content, I tell ya.


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