Tag Archives: Horror

Day Three, Blogging 101 Continued: These Top Five Blogs are Absolutely killer!

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I’m back ready to write another post and I would love to share a few of my favourite blogs on WordPress. As you may have guessed by now, I’m participating in the Blogging 101 course that has enabled me to re-evaluate the purpose and the significance behind Black Calavera. This particular exercise for the week involved writing a post in regards to my favourite topics or blogs that is exciting because I thoroughly enjoy browsing through my reader and discovering new posts, articles or reviews. Here they are, starting with number one.

#1 The Year of the Halloween 

If you haven’t visited this blog and you have an interest for horror, remember to check out this site! Eva Halloween is the author of the blog who posts a range of fascinating articles relating to Halloween, horror and paranormal activities. I throughly enjoy reading the makeup tutorials, DIY instructions and costume competitions that are definitely inspiring and creative. At a young age, I developed a fascination for horror and The Year of the Halloween is the perfect match! There are so many different articles to read through and the different subjects are seriously fascinating.

http://theyearofhalloween.com/

#2 Horrorpedia 

There’s nothing I love more than a scary horror film or a cheesy b-grade horror movie. Well lucky for me, there’s Horrorpedia that presents a range of fascinating and entertaining reviews in regards to classic horror films, international blockbusters, and independent cinema. The list doesn’t stop here, Horrorpedia also includes other artistic influences including music, literature and digital media that explore the exciting world of horror. This is a really resourceful site and there are plenty of trailers, interviews and video clips to watch for all of your horror needs.

Plus there’s a section dedicated to the “worst horror movies of all time” with a large selection of the most outrageous z-grade films I’ve ever seen! This is definitely the highlight of Horrorpedia, if you love watching those kind of films that are so bad they’re good, you will absolutely love this section.

http://horrorpedia.com/

#3 Parlour of Horror 

I was immediately intrigued by the Parlour of Horror that features reviews in regards to literature, cinema, art and real life events. My favourite posts are the film reviews relating to classic horror and new releases that I can definitely add these to my list of movies to watch. The site also features some fascinating posts relating to horror art, where I discover artists, photographers and writers who explore dark and sinister subject matter.  There is a great deal of inspiring and engaging information to read through and if you’re interested in horror, I would definitely recommend the Parlour of Horror.

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/

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Image One: Fieldey, Día de los muertos zombie Kurt Cobain

#4 Fieldey

Now you’re in for a real treat, as a Fieldey is a contemporary artist who creates the most inspiring skateboard and surfboard designs. They’re colourful, artistic and captivating; the designs feature extraordinary detail and aesthetics that provides me with the urge to browse through the entire collection! Of course, my favourite works are the Day of the Dead designs, if you’re a skull enthusiast you’ll absolutely love Fieldey’s collection of skateboards and surfboards. The site also features commissions, tutorials and a wicked gallery full of inspiring works.

https://fieldey.wordpress.com/

#5 Craniophiles

Last but not least, is Craniophiles that is right up my alley! This marvellous site delivers a series of blog posts that examine the human skull from an artistic, historical and scientific context. As an avid skull enthusiast, I cannot contain my excitement when I discover a blog with reviews and articles relating to the human skull and Craniophiles features a large collection of fascinating posts investigating this particular subject. Have an interest in art or science? No problems, Craniophiles has the information you’ve been searching for!

https://craniophiles.wordpress.com/


Zombies, Skulls and Skeletons parade through Melbourne for the Annual Zombie Shuffle.

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About a week ago, I attended the annual Zombie Shuffle in Melbourne, where thousands of individuals paraded through the streets dressed as flesh-eating zombies, skeletons and other pop culture characters. Many enthusiasts commenced their journey at the Treasury Gardens in Fitzroy and the various costume designs were extremely impressive to say the least!

The level of creativity and imagination was definitely inspiring and I began to frantically take photographs of undead, Disney princesses, skeletons, bridesmaids, nurses, surgeons, cheerleaders, policemen, convicts, school girls and many others. In fact there were so many different zombies, I didn’t know where to look next! It was great to see different age groups attending the event; children were dressed as Zombies along with their parents, while others brought their dogs along for a leisurely walk through Melbourne.

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During the event, I noticed several attendees mixed amongst the gore and the simulated blood with skulls painted onto their faces. I began to ask myself whether the skull is still a popular icon within the contemporary visual culture or everyday life in general?

From a personal point of view, the Zombie Shuffle allows the public to explore the concept of death within a satirical or entertaining manner. The event encourages the community to display their own creativity or imagination and it is interesting to examine the way death is represented.

There was one character in particular who was dressed in an old-fashioned outfit along with the black and white skull makeup. I raced over to take a closer look and I couldn’t stop taking photographs, this costume was definitely my favourite one! While I tried to search for a place to rest, I discovered a young woman with the most extraordinary skull makeup, the overall detail was admirable and the suit complimented the intricate design. I couldn’t leave without taking at least one photograph!

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As I continued to walk through the Treasury Gardens, I recognised a green sugar skull zombie; the colours were amazing and the vibrant designs were certainly intriguing. The make up merged elements of Western popular culture with the Mexican sugar skull designs; these two particular styles provided quite a unique interpretation.

I must admit everyone who attended the Zombie Shuffle looked spectacular and the crowd was throughly entertaining! Towards the afternoon, an amazing ‘percussion group’ known as Maracatu Estrela do Mar paraded through the Treasury Gardens onto Collins street along and the members of the band were wearing black and yellow sugar skull makeup.

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Enthusiastic photographs frantically joined the crowd of zombies that were leisurely following the band down the street and I suddenly began to develop the art of weaving in and out of large, overcrowded groups who began to walk or run besides members of the Zombie Shuffle.

The band in particular was definitely a highlight; I admired the vibrant, sugar skull face paint and the positive atmosphere from the crowd. Maracatu Estrela do Mar reminded me of the Dia De Los Muertos: The Day of the Dead Festival in Mexico and the band provided  a unique twist to the overall event.

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As the crowd reached Federation Square, the Zombie Shuffle collided with a Women’s rights protest and I suddenly found myself in-between a completely different group all together. I would have loved to have stayed to the very end, however I lost my sense of direction and I decided to search for the nearest train station.

Anyway, the Zombie Shuffle was an exciting, exhilarating experience that featured amazing, yet gory Zombies, a fantastic band and a spectacular audience! I would definitely recommend attending the Zombie Shuffle next year for sure!

zombiewatermark31 Check out the Black Calavera Facebook page to view photographs from the event.

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22

https://www.facebook.com/maracatuestreladomar?fref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/melbournezombieshuffle

ABC, ‘Undead roam Melbourne Streets in Annual Zombie Shuffle,” October 11 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-11/zombie-apocalypse-arrives-in-melbourne/5806796


Lollipop Chainsaw Part I: Violent, Outrageous and Hysterical!

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Lollipop Chainsaw produced by Suda 51, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Warner Brothers Studios

In the previous post, I discussed my infatuation with Shadows of the Damned, an artistic and eclectic video game produced by Suda 51. Last year, a friend introduced me to another game from Suda 51 also known as Lollipop Chainsaw that features comedy, satire and violence all blended into one. When I played Lollipop Chainsaw for the very first time, I wasn’t entirely sure what on earth was going on so I decided to purchase the game outright and I was instantly attracted to the outlandish storyline, the over saturated colours and the stylised visual effects.

According to IGN, Warner Brothers Studios, Interactive Entertainment and Kadokawa Games published Lollipop Chainsaw in 2012 in conjunction with Grasshopper Manufacture who developed the overall game. Evan Narcisse explains that Suda 51 collaborated with James Gunn, an American ‘Hollywood director’ who created the script for Lollipop Chainsaw. This is quite interesting, as the game appears similar to Japanese Anime, especially the main character who hunts zombies in a range of revealing outfits.

The game begins with a high school cheerleader named Juliet who must attack an army of malicious zombies and demons in order to defeat a vindictive, conniving Goth named Swan. The character brutally kills her opponents with a chainsaw along with a range of cheerleading combinations; the dance moves are used to stun the zombies and the game allows the player to upgrade the existing combinations. 

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Juliet Starling and her boyfriend Nick

Juliet is accompanied by her beloved boyfriend named Nick whose head is decapitated at the very beginning of the game when he is bitten by a zombie. Nick discovers Juliet’s hidden secrets including her ability to conduct ‘magic rituals’ on his decapitated head; this is meant to save Nick from turning into a brainless zombie. Juliet attaches her boyfriend’s ‘severed head’ onto the side of her belt and together they travel through a dark, psychedelic universe filled with sparkles, blood and delicious lollipops.

These multicoloured lollipops provide Juliet with additional health and energy that become vitally important within the last two levels. I actually realised that there are skulls throughout the game, the lollipop wrappers feature a skull at the very top and logo on the main screen features a skull with blonde hair and two pink lollipops for crossbones.

The third level also contains a boss known as Josey who flies a spaceship wearing a diaper, a pink fury jacket and a top hat filled with miniature skulls. His facial features similarities to a human skull or the Mexican Day of the Dead, I have noticed that Suda’s games refer to certain elements that explore sex, death and immortality. The skull in particular appears to be a popular symbol within Lollipop Chainsaw, as well as other games produced by Suda 51 including Shadows of the Damned.

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Josey – The Boss in the Third Level 

Throughout Lollipop Chainsaw, the narrative becomes very random and spontaneous, however this is the most entertaining aspect of the game. One minute, you’re playing zombie baseball and the next you’re character is hallucinating on magic mushrooms and you’re fighting a robotic, three headed chicken, you never really know what is about to happen next.

While the visual aesthetics are creative and highly decadent, the actual game play or the controls can be rather slow at times. This particular flaw becomes rather frustrating, as Juliet often takes a while to respond when she is knocked to the ground by another demon or zombie.

Lollipop Chainsaw also features a series of mini games including zombie basketball and zombie baseball, while the concept is imaginative, the auto focus is quite difficult to control. Trying to play this particular mini game was extremely exasperating as Juliet’s ‘chainsaw blaster’ will only focus on the closest zombie. Patience and persistence is the only way to really progress to the next level, however this is only a small section of the game. 

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Juliet at San Romero Highschool – Gameplay 

On the other hand, I don’t really understand how the zombie baseball relates to the actual narrative or the overall concept; at times I thought the mini games were unnecessary. While the baseball was incredibly annoying, this particular section didn’t ruin my overall experience of the game, as I thoroughly enjoy watching the eccentric storyline and the random interactions between the characters.

Juliet’s suggestive poses and over sexualised clothing is rather creepy at times, especially when the player is able to view up her own skirt. The demons / zombies also insult Juliet with sexist or defamatory comments, however these elements are often balanced with a strong level of humour, irony and satire. It’s almost impossible to take this game seriously, there’s Juliet Starling who has a decapitated head as a boyfriend along with a bright pink chainsaw covered in love hearts.

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Juliet Starling – Cheerleading Combinations 

Achieving a high score is another objective that allows the player to unlock a range of provocative outfits including a seashell bikini, a pink jumpsuit or a sex maid’s costume etc. There are plenty to choose from, however I was purely interested in the actual storyline, as well as the quirky dialogue between Nick and Juliet.

Lollipop Chainsaw only lasted for about six hours, although I often try to imagine what else the producers / developers could possibly squeeze into this dynamic, action packed zombie slasher game. The actual duration worked perfectly with the narrative as well as the vibrant, multicoloured landscape, anything more than six hours would become highly repetitive.

I’m quite new to video games at the moment; playing Dark Souls or the Last of Us is way out of the question right now. While Lollipop Chainsaw is rather complex at times, the game itself isn’t overly difficult to complete. If you are a beginner and you’re looking for something that is creative, visually entertaining and violent, then I would recommend Lollipop Chainsaw!

I could write about Lollipop Chainsaw for hours, there are so many different elements to explore including the audio effects, the soundtrack as well as the ‘pop culture references.’ Stay tuned for the second review for Lollipop Chainsaw!

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Juliet’s other costumes / outfits

P.S If you are interested in this particular game, I would recommend viewing Angry Joe’s review on YouTube.

References

IGN Entertainment Inc, “Lollipop Chainsaw Review,” June 13 2012, http://au.ign.com/games/lollipop-chainsaw/ps3-113691

Evan Narcisse, “Hollywood Director James Gunn chokes up because of Lollipop Chainsaw’s Zombie Killing Cheerleader,” March 27 2012, Kotaku, http://kotaku.com/5896820/hollywood-director-james-gunn-chokes-up-because-of-lollipop-chainsaws-zombie-killing-cheerleader

Angry Joe Show, “Lollipop Chainsaw Angry Review,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6XQMCeXqY

Matt Kamen, “Lollipop Chainsaw – Review,” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/jun/24/lollipop-chainsaw-suda51-xbox-ps3

“Lollipop Chainsaw,” 2012, Playstation 3, Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment & Kadokawa. 

http://lollipopchainsaw.com/

Image References

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lollipop-Chainsaw-Wallpaper-Edit-284898486

http://www.wallshq.com/wp-content/uploads/original/2013_02/lollipop_chainsaw_zombie_game-HD.jpg

http://www.gameskinny.com/nuzkb/juliets-approach-to-dealing-with-male-stupidity-among-gamers

http://www.g4tv.com/games/xbox-360/65682/lollipop-chainsaw/articles/77007/lollipop-chainsaw-gameplay-preview-hippie-zombies-offer-hilarious-times/

http://www.leftgamerreview.org/2012/08/10/review-lollipop-chainsaw/

http://theclassicgamer.com/lollipop-chainsaw-review/


Shadows of the Damned by Suda 51 & Grasshopper Manufacture

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Over the past couple of days, I’ve recently discovered my new favourite game; Shadows of the Damned features incredible visual aesthetics and a disturbing, yet complex narrative that is almost impossible to forget. The non stop action, violence and drama provides a sense of adrenaline and curiosity as your character, Garcia Hotspur travels through the underworld, hunting demons in order to save the love of his life.

The official Electronic Arts websites describes Shadows of the Damned as a psychological / horror video game that was produced by Suda 51. This unique and creative game designer also collaborated with Shinji Mikami who produced Resident Evil and Akira Yamaka who developed the music for Silent Hill.

There are similarities between Shadows of the Damned and these two particular video games in terms of the visual and the audio effects. The music is my favourite aspect of the game and the musical compositions successfully provide a level of drama and anticipation.

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Sometimes, I’ll pause the game and I’ll leave the music playing in the background as I start the cooking or folding the washing. To be honest, I’ve never really payed attention to the music in a video game before, the designers / developers have refined every minor detail in order to provide a unique experience for the player.

In June 2011, GamesRader awarded Shadows of the Damned with the game of the month and the website published a positive review in regards to overall gameplay, the narrative and the soundtrack. According to Evan Narcisse, Shadows of the Damned was developed by a Japanese game developer known as Grasshopper Manufacture and EA games assisted with the publication. Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacturer have created an addictive, yet horrifying game that has captured my attention from the very beginning.

The storyline is another fascinating aspect of the game that is different to anything I have seen before. First of all you begin with Garcia Hotspur, a Hispanic demon hunter who travels through the underworld in order to save his girlfriend from a malicious demon named Fleming. At the beginning of the game, Fleming is described as the ‘Lord of the Demons’ who threatens to kill Paula ‘over and over again.’

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Garcia is accompanied by a demon named Johnson, a levitating skull that is able to transform into a weapon or a motorcycle at any given moment. Once they enter underworld, they are immediately bombarded with grotesque monsters, demons and decapitated corpses.

While the visual landscape is macabre, the graphics do feature an artistic aesthetic that is admirable. The underworld is illuminated with intricate engravings on the door and magnificent poster designs that are attached to the wall. As I continue to play the game, I begin to recognise all the minor details including the floorboards and the individual blades of grass. In fact, the detail is phenomenal for a game that is at least three years old and the direction of the light does provide a sense of depth.

There is a strong reference to skulls within Shadows of the Damned; the vibrant patterns and designs remind me of the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s almost impossible to play Shadows of the Damned without recognising a skull and the main character is completely covered in skulls. I began to recognise Garcia’s skull tattoo’s, his jewellery, his bright skull jacket, his motorcycle and his weapons that feature a golden skull at the very front; all of these elements compliments the character’s eccentric personality.

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Did I mention that the underworld is completely saturated with skulls? They’re scattered across the floor, they’re engraved into the doors, the walls, even the tombstones! Every inch of the game features a skull, although the underworld wouldn’t be an interesting place without them!

The characters within Shadows of the Damned feature a surreal appearance and there are certain aspects of the game that appears carnivalesque. While the demons are violent and grotesque in nature, the aim is to kill and slaughter as many demons as possible in order to save Paula. This does prove to be rather challenging, especially when your character is swamped by an army of blood thirsty demons that have the power of darkness to protect them.

As the game progresses, the story begins to unravel the dark and twisted love story between Garcia and Paula; you cannot help but sympathise with Garcia, as he helplessly watches these demons brutally murder his girlfriend over and over again in all different types of scenarios.

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In fact, the storyline becomes incredibly weird and disturbing, although the game features an element of humour that is combined with Garcia’s crude jokes; these particular elements provide hours of entertainment. It’s quite difficult not to laugh at Garcia’s weapons that continually refer to the male genitalia, in fact there are quite a lot of sexual innuendos within the game. 

I don’t usually play video games, although I was deeply inspired by the graphics within Shadows of the Damned and the obscure narrative influenced me to play the game from the very beginning. Honestly if I had to rate this game, I would give this one a 10 out of 10! So if you’re searching for a game that’s features an artistic style or something that is random or spontaneous, then I would recommend Shadows of the Damned! Click on the links below for further information.

References

EA Games, “Shadows of the Damned,” Electronic Arts, 2014, http://www.ea.com/shadows-of-the-damned

Narcisse, Evan, “Shadows of the Damned in 2011from EA and Grasshopper Manufacturer,” Time Inc, 2014, http://techland.time.com/2010/09/15/shadows-of-the-damned-in-2011-from-ea-and-grasshopper-manufacture/

GamesRadar, “Game of the Month, June 2011,” GamesRadar, Future US Inc, http://www.gamesradar.com/game-of-the-month-june-2011/

Gilbert, Henry, “Shadows of the Damned Review,” June 25 2011, GamesRadar, Future US Inc, http://www.gamesradar.com/shadows-of-the-damned-review/

https://www.facebook.com/shadowsofthedamned

Images

http://www.gameranx.com/gallery/shadows-of-the-damned-wallpapers/

http://rossspreadborough.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/game-review-shadows-of-damned-is.html

http://www.vgfaq.com/shadows-of-the-damned-walkthrough-5-4-the-final-chapter/

https://gotgame.com/2011/06/25/shadows-of-the-damned-review/

http://gematsu.com/2010/09/shadows-of-the-damned-detailed-first-media


Sinister 2012 directed by Scott Derickson

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Sinister 2012, DVD Cover

About a month ago, I decided to rent Sinister from the DVD store, the macabre cinematography and the unique storyline definitely provides quite a shocking finale. This 2012 horror flick stars Ethan Hawke who acts as a successful author who discovers a range of disturbing videos that endangers his entire family, towards the end of the film, everything spirals out of control and the true villain is revealed to all!

So why am I talking about this film anyway? While I was browsing through the local video store, the DVD cover immediately captured my attention. On the very front features a young child smearing blood onto the wall; the pattern does remind me of a skull, this particular image does becomes a significant part of the film, although I wont explain too much for those who have not watched the movie!

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Sinister 2012, Ethan Hawke standing in front of the projector

The very first time I watched Sinister, I was confused, baffled and slightly disturbed, although the actual storyline was quite different to anything I have heard or seen before! The visual effects were impressive, although Sinister was not particularly horrifying, the film was creepy more than anything! The music also provides a disturbing element to the film, I was anxiously waiting for something to jump from behind the corner, although the film did provide a very unexpected twist.

I was particularly inspired by the make up, the villain does feature very disturbing characteristics that does become rather unsettling towards the end of the film. The make up appears very similar to a human skull, i’m not entirely sure if this is intentional, although this does provide the character with a dark and macabre appearance.

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Sinister 2012, The Boogyman

This dark, mysterious figure, known as the ‘boogyman’ is the most intriguing aspect of the film, the grey wrinkly skin and the dark eye sockets are definitely unsettling, the character doesn’t even have a dialogue, in fact the character doesn’t appear to have a mouth in general, which is rather surreal!

At first I thought Sinister would just be another clique horror film, although I was pleasantly surprised! At one particular stage, I thought I knew exactly was going to happen, although the film did take a completely different direction all together. I had to watch Sinister for the second time in order to fully appreciate all the subtle hints within the film that were actually connected to the storyline.

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Sinister 2012, Boogyman

While Sinister wasn’t the scariest film I have ever seen, the plot was definitely thought provoking and the ‘boogyman’ was quite an impressive character! For all those Horror fans out there, if you’re looking for a disturbing film with an interesting storyline, then I would recommend Sinister, the ending will provide quite a shocking surprise!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinister_(film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

Image References:

http://www.containsmoderateperil.com/sinister-2012/

http://www.welovemoviesmorethanyou.com/2013/02/14/movie-review-sinister-2012/

http://puremassacre.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/sinister-creepy-yes-groundbreaking-not-quite/

http://www.gbdh.sadiron.com/archives/12737


The Evil Dead directed by Sam Raimi

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The other night I decided to watch the original Evil Dead that was directed by Sam Raimi in 1981, for such an old film it was far better than what I was expecting. The special effects were rather impressive for a film that was produced in the early 80’s, Evil Dead also features some claymation towards the end that also adds a humorous twist to the overall film.

So what is Evil Dead and why do I like this film so much? Well the very first Evil Dead did scare me believe it or not, although there were particular sections of the film that were just hilarious! The claymation actually provided a very interesting effect to the film, the stylised violence features a unique aesthetic that is quite imaginative for a 1980’s horror flick.

So if you haven’t watched Evil Dead I would definitely recommend visiting your local DVD store, especially if you enjoy cheesy horror films! In fact, the violence and the claymation is rather cheesy, although the visual effects are throughly entertaining. So Evil Dead features four young adults who decide to travel to a deserted cabin within the middle of woods where they discover ‘The Book of the Dead’ that welcomes evil spirits to the living world.

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The film explains that “the Book of the Dead was written in blood and bound in human flesh”, I must admit the book does feature highly detailed drawings of skulls, skeletons and other supernatural beings; whoever designed the book in the first place has impressive drawing skills thats for sure. So what really happens in Evil Dead? Well the main protagonist, Ash discovers ‘The Book of the Dead’ along with a tape recorder within the bottom of the basement, Ash’s friend Scott decides to take these new items back to the cabin where the entire group begins to listen to the unusual recordings from the tape player.

As the group continue to listen to an old man speaking in Latin, the words suddenly conjure something evil within the woods. As a result, each person is possessed by a demon that was summoned by the Book of the Dead, meanwhile Ash tries to find a way to escape from the haunted cabin that becomes rather difficult when his possessed girlfriend tries to kill him. One thing leads to another and everything turns completely pear shaped, as the holiday retreat gradually turns into a disastrous blood bath.

So I do find the visual effects rather impressive especially for a film with such a low budget, what  I do find rather unsettling are the camera angles. The film provides the perspective of the demon, evil spirits that lurk around the cabin and the fast paced motion does create a level of suspense and anticipation. Bruce Campbell does play an excellent role as Ash Williams, the main protagonist who finds himself trapped within the deserted cabin with his girlfriend, sister and best friend that are all possessed by some kind of Demon.

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According to Kate Egan, The Evil Dead is an American cult classic that was produced by a group of university students including Sam Raimi and Robert Talbert during the late 1970’s, early 80’s. Raimi throughly studied other recognisable horror films, such as The Last House of the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, although the actual production of Evil Dead proved to be rather difficult due to financial circumstances.

I personally believe that Sam Raimi has produced a very successful horror film with a low budget and a very small production team, which is quite remarkable really. There were some aspects of the film that did cause me to jump, although the acting and the visual effects do provide a level of humour, that do cause me to laugh uncontrollably.

I have also noticed that the original Evil Dead has inspired the contemporary horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods for instance does feature a strong reference to Raimi’s 1980’s production. The narrative does feature a parallel to the Evil Dead, as four young college students travel to an isolate Cabin within the woods, although the director, Josh Whedon does provide a very unusual twist that would take anyone by surprise.

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So I have also realised that the skull continually reappears within Raimi’s Evil Dead, in fact I have noticed that the skull has become a very popular symbol within the horror genre. I’m not to sure why, although I would assume that the skull is used as a symbol of death, mortality, even danger. I have also noticed that the skull does appear when something dangerous or violent is about to occur, as soon as Ash opens ‘The Book of the Dead’, the cabin turns into complete chaos.

So the other day I have realised that The Evil Dead is an actual trilogy, there’s Evil Dead 2 and Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness, which are two fantastic films produced by Sam Raimi. So Evil Dead 2 is basically a parody of the original Evil Dead that is one of the most entertaining horror films I have ever watched in my life. The violence is exaggerated to the extent where it’s almost impossible not to laugh, there are amputated limbs and laughing clocks flying left right and centre, that’s right laughing clocks along with laughing lamps and a possessed dear’s head that seem to haunt Ash’s Williams who cannot find a way to escape the cabin.

The skull constantly reappears throughout Evil Dead 2, Ash finds his girlfriend’s necklace on the floor which forms the shape of the skull, in a way the skull is used as some kind of subliminal message. Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness on the other hand makes a rapid transition from a comedy horror to an action adventure, Ash somehow travels back in time in order to defeat the ‘undead’ that form an army of skeletons.

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So Ash decides to steal ‘The Book of the Dead’ from the graveyard that suddenly resurrects the dead, all of a sudden there are hundreds even thousands of skulls and skeletons that begin to attack the castle in order to retrieve the book. As ridiculous as it sounds, the film is extremely entertaining, the visual effects do add a level of humour, parody and satire.

So if you are looking for something to watch then I would recommend watching The Evil Dead Trilogy, you can even watch the original Evil Dead and the Army of Darkness on Youtube! The DVD cover for Evil Dead 2 does feature some impressive advertising / marketing, the very front of the cover features a skull that significantly contrasts with the dark background, the advertisement definitely summaries the nature of the film.

It would be interesting to compare the original Evil Dead within the 2013 remake that was released a couple of months ago, due to censorship I haven’t been able to watch the film at my local cinema but it will be interesting to see how Fede Alvarez appropriates this 1980’s classic.

References:

Egan, Kate in ‘The Evil Dead’ (Columbia: Wallflower Flower, 2011), http://books.google.com.au/books?id=DuiJoSKHOdUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+evil+dead&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7
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The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: Renaissance Pictures, 1981), DVD

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group & Renaissance Pictures, 1987), DVD

Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Renaissance Pictures & Universal Pictures, 1992) DVD

Cabin in the Woods, directed by Josh Whedon (USA: Lionsgate, 2012) DVD

Image URL Links:

1. http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/columns/the-bloodstained-balcony/evil-dead/

2. http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2013/sam-raimi-plans-to-write-evil-dead-4-this-summer/

3. http://goregirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/the-evil-dead-1981-evil-dead-2-dead-by-dawn-1987-the-dungeon-review/

4. http://drnorth.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/the-evil-dead-randomised/

5. http://stcatharines.cityguide.ca/army-of-darkness-is-back-on-029584.php

YouTube Links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odtcORs7VwM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW38E98fdBw


Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino

So where do I even begin with Quentin Tarantino’s, Death Proof? This 2007 production was completely different from what I was expecting, towards the end I began to wonder whether I was still watching the same film. Death Proof features a psychotic stunt man who deliberately kills a group of young women in a horrific and gruesome car accident; this is his main agenda really, “Stunt Man Mike” drives around in his indestructible ‘death proof’ car that is used to terrorise and mutilate young women.

Ok so, it’s really not to bad, as there is only one or two gruesome scenes throughout the entire film, in fact I was actually expecting a massacre with blood and amputated limbs flying left right and centre, after all it is a Quentin Tarantino Film! The ending featured a rather unexpected twist, as stunt man Mike finds himself in a vicious car chase with three young women who refuse to be victimized; Death Proof makes a rapid transition from an American slasher to an action, thriller. There was one stage where I was wondering whether I accidentally pressed the wrong button on the remote control, I soon realised I was still watching the same film!

death-proof

Death Proof, DVD Cover 

So why am I even talking about Death Proof in the first place? Well I was fascinated with the skull that was imprinted onto the front of Mike’s ‘Death Proof’ Car. The skull is quite a striking image, especially on top of the car and the symbol continually reappears throughout the majority of the film. I have actually wondered how the skull relates to the storyline or the narrative, in fact the film was rather disjointed and the dialogue was rather confusing, it was rather difficult to determine what was actually going on.

It was quite difficult to determine the most important aspects of the film as the three protagonists at the very start changed to three completely different characters towards the end of the film. At least the narrative wasn’t boring or predictable and the dialogue was rather entertaining to watch! The random conversations between the different characters also adds a humorous twist to the film, Kurt Russell also plays an excellent role as Stunt Man Mike, his psychotic and irrational behaviour is rather comical.

Grind House (Death Proof)

Car Crash in Death Proof

I have noticed that Tarantino’s films feature a stylised effect, especially the violence that isn’t really shocking or horrifying at all! The violence is exaggerated to the extent where the blood splatters and the amputated limbs become humorous and entertaining! The violence is extremely unrealistic, it’s almost cartoonish, although I do believe that these particular effects add a unique style to Tarantino’s films. I must admit Death Proof features the most violent car accident I have ever seen, you don’t just see two cars colliding into one another, you actually see arms, legs, torso’s cut in half with blood splattering in every direction.

The violence in Death Proof was very brief, there was only one particular scene that was gory, other than that the film was quite tame for a Tarantino film. Overall, I do find the skull on Mike’s ‘death proof’ car intriguing, I personally believe that the skull signifies danger as the symbol only reappears when something violent is about to occur. I decided to search for Death Proof through the internet and I have realised that the skull has been used for car stickers, t-shirt designs, jewellery, key rings, even coffee mugs; the symbol has become a form of visual merchandising!

Grind House

Kurt Russell and Rose McGowan

Grindhouse Cinema

Ok so I didn’t really understand the concept behind Death Proof until I decided to research ‘Grindhouse Cinema’, that was introduced in the 1970’s. According to Sarah Wharton in American Independent Cinema, the Grindhouse genre does feature exploitative films that significantly emphasise sex, gore and violence. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ and Robert Rodriquez’s ‘Planet Terror’ are heavily inspired by the Grindhouse genre; the special effects feature quite an old, deteriorated appearance and the colours are over saturated, it’s as if you have been brought back in time to watch a 1970’s slasher film.

Both films feature disjointed lines that distorts the quality and the appearance, just imagine you’re watching a film at the cinema and there’s a roll of film  that is about to explode or set on fire, now just imagine the quality of the film you are watching, it’s as if the film is about to stop at any second. This is the kind of anticipation I experience when I begin to watch Death Proof or Planet Terror, the special effects do add a very distinctive and unique style. So Tarantino and Rodriquez have produced a ‘double feature’ named Grindhouse that includes Death Proof and Planet Terror, as well as other films such as Machete, Machete Kills and Hobo with a Shotgun.

grindhouse-poster

Grindhouse Poster for Death Proof and Planet Terror

So Planet Terror features a hardcore go-go dancer who is attacked by a flesh-eating zombie, Cherry Darling is immediately rushed into hospital, where her leg is amputated and replaced with a machine gun. Both Cherry and her ex – boyfriend, Wray begin to brutally kill an army of zombies that begin to take over the world along with the other survivors including a nurse, a sheriff and a crazy chef from a deserted steakhouse.

I have noticed that some of the characters in Planet Terror do make an appearance in Death Proof, some of the scenes are quite familiar and it is interesting to observe the parallel between these two particular films. Tarantino and Rodriquez’s version of Grindhouse provides a unique perspective of the genre and the story lines also features a level of humour, parody and satire that is throughly entertaining to watch.

Grindhouse-marley-shelton-545765_1600_1200

Planet Terror by Robert Rodriquez 

While Planet Terror features blood, gore and violence in every minute of the film, Death Proof focuses on the dialogue, which becomes a significant part of the narrative. According to Jay McRoy Tarantino and Rodriquez have used Grindhouse within a contemporary context, the sex, the violence, even the visual effects appear rather similar to a 1970’s B-Grade Horror Movie or an exploitative film with no budget. Ironically these two influential directors have used the visual effects in order to replicate certain elements from B-Grade, exploitative films, both Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a surreal, unconventional style that I haven’t really seen before.

Exploitative films such as Salo or I Spit on your Grave feature highly graphic depictions of sexual violence, in comparison Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a level of humour, irony as well as impressive special effects that combine contemporary Hollywood Cinema with the American Grindhouse genre. Overall Death Proof can be rather confusing and disjointed within certain aspects of the film, although it is interesting to see Tarantino’s interpretations of American Grindhouse and the B-Grade exploitation genre from the 1970’s.

If you are looking for something different to watch, then I would definitely recommend Rodriquez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof, If you are patient, the dialogue will suddenly transform into a brutal, violent car chase!

References

Mcroy, Jay, in Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear (ed) Steffen Hantke, (USA: University of Mississippi Press,2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=tYiGERS4fKoC&pg=PA226&dq=grind
house+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zKfKUbrWJIPIl

AXo74DIAQ&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=grindhouse%20tarantino&f=false

Wharton, Sarah, “Welcome to the Neo Grindhouse: Sex, Violence and the Indie Film” in American Independent Cinema,
Indie, Indewood and Beyond (eds) 
Geoff King, Claire Molloy and Yannis Tzioumakis (Oxon: Routledge, 2013) 

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=7ibUEeJMNCYC&pg=PA200&dq=
grindhouse+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=

86bKUdyhBoHFkAWzpoCgDw&ved=0CE4Q6AEw
BjgK#v=onepage&q=grindhouse%20tarantino&f=false

Cline, John and Weiner. G . Robert (eds), From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow in Transgressive in Cinema’s 21st Century 
(Scarecrow Press, 2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=VKhqh3HFH8AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=grindhouse&hl=en&sa=X&ei=
GKzKUaucJoyGkQWn2IGgDQ&ved=0CDcQ6wEwAg

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1028528/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1077258/

Image Citations

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwlAqIfuwgQ
2. http://www.last.fm/music/Grindhouse:+Quentin+Tarantino’s+Death+Proof
+Soundtrack/+images/22405301

3. http://lefthandhorror.com/2012/02/29/grindhouse-movie-review-planet-terror-death-proof/
4. http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/flower/death-proof-rose-mcgowan-grindhouse-kurt-russell-russel-desktop-hd-wallpaper-749977
5. http://collider.com/grindhouse-blu-ray-review/
6. http://www.dbcovers.com/image-of-grindhouse-planet-terror-2007-grindhouse_planet_terror_2007_1