"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

Be sure to browse over the column of banners below if you're looking for posts on a particular topic. (And at the very bottom of the blog, if you would like to consult the complete listing of post labels.) Otherwise, scroll down past them to get to the most recent articles. Likewise, refer to the right side for our latest tweets.

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

About Myself

My photo
Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

artwork by yours truly

artwork and artist features

movies, short films, TV, webisodes, etc.

frightful films for your year-round festivities

book reviews: consult the niche's necronomicon

comic-related news and reviews

zed in the head randomness

Friday, December 24, 2010

Scary Christmas and Happy Anniversary!

Firstly, for us here at the Darkley Niche, this December is a memorable month. It was one year ago around mid-December that we, pardoning the pun, made our own niche on the internet. Perhaps we haven't contributed as much as we would've liked: occasionally missing certain dates or events, wanting that we had written more movie reviews, et cetera. But we've been learning an exceptional amount, especially from the various blogs that we ourselves watch. That will all prove invaluable when the actual Darkley comic starts to roll towards further development and production. Maybe within the next few months, if things fall into place the way that we hope. Keep your fingers crossed.

Moving on, today is Christmas Eve, so with that in mind we want to wish all of our viewers a very scary Christmas. May Cthulhu Claus bring you tidings of madness and woe!

illustration by Scott Brundage

composed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
for their album 'A Very Scary Solstice'

And if you're in the spirit for some holiday horror films befitting of this yuletide time, be sure to head on over to the Niche's Seasonal Horror Calendar. We've even added Hanukkah to the calendar recently, due to talk of a black comedy, slasher movie in the works. So soon there should be something for horrifying Hebrew and ghoulish goyim alike.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ZotB: Zombie Temp Worker

We here at the Darkley Niche have made no secret for our love of PopCap Games' Plants vs. Zombies. (And in case any of you were wondering, we've played through the full-fledged version and still stand by our original, five out of five garden-variety zombies score.) So when we learned of "Zombie Temp Worker," a series of short videos featuring one of PopCap's zombies at the office, well, we just had to watch. Here are a few, for your own viewing delight.

If you liked these, be sure to also see G4's zombie public service announcement video.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Supernatural: Children shouldn't play with Dead Things

For the past few weeks, I've begun watching Eric Kripke's paranormal drama television series, Supernatural. Needless to say, I'm loving this show. Perhaps if Darkly collaborator and good friend of mine, Don, is willing, he'll also give it a watch and share his input. -- I won't lie, part of the appeal to give Supernatural a try was Gilmore Girls' Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester). I liked Gilmore Girls, so sue me. In Jared's defense, he has made cameo appearances in his fair share of horror films. Though after getting my feet wet in the series, I'd have to say that I happen to like Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) more. Sure he's your atypical tough guy, but he's just so damn funny at times. The witty banter and smart alec remarks are what makes Dean a likable character.

Getting to the heart of the matter, I've wanted to write a review on at least one of the episodes that I've seen thus far. After finishing the first season yesterday, and subsequently starting the second season as well, this fourth episode compelled me to write, today. Giving a nod to two personal favorites of mine within the horror genre, namely zombies (The episode title itself was a big tip-off. -- Refer to the film of the same name.) and author Stephen King, "Children shouldn't play with Dead Things" gives us something old and something new. (WARNING: spoilers ahead)

Hmmm. Must've been one hell of a small UFO.
With their father's death still green in memory, the Winchester brothers pay a long-overdue visit to their mother's grave. Already we're beginning to see parallels to zombie cinema, namely Night of the Living Dead. (Recall siblings Barbara and Johnny, who likewise visit a parent's grave.) While Sam buries their father's dog tags in a shallow hole beside the stone marker, Dean takes notice of a dead tree nearby in the cemetery. His curiosity is only further piqued when he notices that the tree touches a perfect circle of dead grass, encompassing the site of another grave. Dean suspects that it might be unholy ground and so the next paranormal hunt begins.

After some initial inquiry and talking to the survivors of the deceased, Angela Mason, the brothers learn that the young woman had recently died in a car crash. Everyone has a good word for Angela and protest that nothing but happiness and promise were present in her hastily-shortened life. This puts Dean's gut suspicion of Angela returning as a vengeful spirit into doubt. That is, until the Winchesters talk to Neil, Angela's male (heterosexual, by the way) BFF. It turns out that Angela's boyfriend had been fooling around behind her back with another girl, then was caught in the act. Said boyfriend, Matt, also apparently slit his throat later during their investigation, before either have the opportunity to question him. Neil claims that it was a guilty conscience that drove Matt to suicide, feeling personally responsible for Angela's death.

As is customary in their line of work, Dean and Sam visit Angela Mason's grave under the cover of darkness to burn her bones. Pouring rock salt on the remains as well, the combined acts are part of a purification ritual that permanently expels vengeful spirits. (Rock salt is even used as ammunition in their firearms, acting akin to silver bullets with werewolves, but only work as a temporary solution in this instance.) However, upon opening the unearthed coffin they find that the corpse is missing. Baffled, the brothers then catch sight of a strange inscription at the head of the casket interior. Dean recognizes the symbols from Dr. Mason's office, Angela's father and a college professor of Ancient Greek.

an Ancient Greek text in Dr. Mason's office
handwritten copy of the coffin inscription
Having done some homework at the library (because libraries are great receptacles of occult knowledge...), Dean and Sam learn that the inscription is part of an Ancient Greek divination ritual, namely a form of necromancy used for bringing a corpse back to life, "full-on zombie action," as Dean so eloquently puts it. Revisiting Dr. Mason at his house, Dean angrily accuses the professor of using this to resurrect his dead daughter. "I get it. There are people that I would give anything to see again, but what gives you the right? What's dead should stay dead!" This echoes Jud Crandall's sentiment from Stephen King's story, which is driven home when Dean adds, "I mean, come on! Haven't you seen Pet Sematary?"

"Sometimes dead is better." -Jud Crandall, Pet Sematary
As it turns out, however, Professor Mason isn't responsible. While any grieving parent would certainly have motive, the living, healthy green houseplants inside indicate otherwise. Like in the cemetery, her mere presence causes vegetation within the vicinity to wither and decay. It's an interesting contribution to zombie lore that hasn't been used in any film that I'm familiar with. As Dean describes it, the zombie "rots the ground around them."

It doesn't take long for Dean to finger the real culprit. Neil, who also happened to be Dr. Mason's teacher aide, had access to the same Ancient Greek, divination texts. As for motive, well, it comes as no surprise that a single, male friend might have alternative reasons to be a shoulder to cry on, other than just out of simple friendship. (That, and reading out of Angela's diary provided insight into Neil's "unrequited duckie love.") A little cliche? Sure, but it does happen. Although resurrecting a dead girl and keeping her locked in the basement makes Neil unique enough from the much-tried, typical archetype. I imagine that most can't make the same claim.

Can you say "necrophilia?"
The real problem lies in how to dispose of zombie Angela. Seems simple enough, right? "We can't just waste her with a headshot?" asks Dean, to which Sam replies, "Dude, you've been watching way too many Romero flicks. [...] I'm telling you that there's too much [lore]. I mean, there's a hundred legends on the walking dead, but they all have different methods for killing them." Everything from setting the zombie on fire to cutting out the heart and feeding it to wild dogs, Sam and Dean haven't the slightest clue on what to do. A few legends, though, suggest using silver to put down the zombie. It's a start at least, although personally I wouldn't rule out Dean's headshot idea just yet. Just saying, it couldn't hurt. (Well, them at least. Not so much Angela.)

"Hello? Neil? It's your grief counselors. We've come to hug." -Dean
Breaking and entering into Neil's house, the Winchester brothers find the residence empty, but also discover Angela's "zombie pen," which is likewise vacant. Deducing that the boyfriend's suicide was in fact a murder, Dean suspects that the adulteress in Matt's philandering is next in Angela's intended victims. Furthermore Lindsay, Angela's roommate, was unusually broken up over Matt's death, making her the likely target. Ouch, that has to hurt. No small wonder Angela was so frantic earlier, having walked in on her boyfriend whilst nailing her roomie. But before zombie Angela can learn how many painful ways there are to use a pair of scissors on Lindsay, Sam and Dean come to the rescue. Firing several silver bullets into her, the projectiles have some effect on the zombie, albeit very mild, and Angela escapes.

It's like Karen Cooper (Night of the Living Dead), if she was a catfighting, college girl.
It's alright, Miss, you're safe now. You will live to skank another day.
During the drive from Lindsay's house, Sam reads aloud that another solution might be "nailing the dead back into their gravebed," which he suggests is why staking vampires became a common notion. I can already imagine hardcore zombie fans and vampire fans having conniptions over this, but let's roll with it and move along. (Fun fact: Staking a vampire has no effect in Supernatural. The only sure-fire way of vampire disposal is decapitation.)

Arriving at Dr. Mason's office that same night, the Winchester brothers find Neil apparently sorting papers or performing some other arbitrary, teacher aide work. Despite their combined confrontation, which tends to mimic "Good Cop, Bad Cop," Neil plays dumb to the accusations. Part of this is from loving protection for Angela, we assume. But given that she was also hiding within earshot, odds are that the denials were made more from the fear of what she might do to him, otherwise. We never do see whether or not if he ultimately remained loyal, since his neck is violently broken out of pure suspicion. Chances are he probably would have left her, but it's not verified for us.

Before leaving Neil to his grisly fate, Dean fabricates a story of how they will perform a bogus ritual at her grave to eradicate zombie Angela. She takes the bait and eventually follows them back into the cemetery. While setting up the bogus ritual, Sam investigates a noise, which, surprise, turns out to be Angela. She makes crocodile tears to Sam, who keeps his firearm fixed on her. The plea doesn't convince him and conceding to Dean's earlier suggestion shoots her squarely in the forehead. Unfortunately, all that manages to accomplish is angering Angela. A chase ensues and Sam runs toward her grave, where Dean lies in wait and ambushes the zombie. Nailing her into the coffin with a silver stake, this method actually proves to have merit, and Dean finishes the job.

Would've wagered money on this one actually working. Guess not.
Dean nailing Angela. -- Wait, bad choice of words.
So was this my favorite interpretation of the zombie mythos? No. Did I find it to be an interesting interpretation? Yes. Like good storytellers, the original molds were still recognized, even outright citing Stephen King and George Romero within the episode, while the subject matter itself went in a direction that differentiated enough from its predecessors. This is the very reason why I was so impressed by Stephen King's novel, Cell, just to use an example. So I have to give Supernatural props for taking its own stance on the iconic zombie. I give it three-and-a-half out of five Deans. Why Dean? The real question ought to be, why not?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Fly sketch card

A personal favorite monster movie of mine, here's The Fly. And yes, that is indeed Vincent Price. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Golem sketch card

Precursor to the Frankenstein story, here's the mythical Golem from the German silent film adaptation, Der Golem. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dracula sketch card

Another classic vampire, here's Bela Lugosi from Dracula. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Monday, October 18, 2010

ZotB: Monster High's Ghoulia

Based on Mattel's line of dolls geared towards girls in their tweens, 'Monster High' the animation includes a brainiac zombie girl named Ghoulia. Not that we're big on toys of a more Bratz nature, mind you, but it does present a unique opportunity to turn that demographic towards the horror genre. If Darkley comic partner Don or myself had daughters, I would be keen of letting them play with these dolls. If the dog buries her in the backyard, that just makes her all the more zombie authentic. Unfortunately though, there has been no production of a Ghoulia doll as of yet.

Mummy sketch card

Imhotep from The Mummy, still wearing the bandages but sporting a fez. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Frankenstein sketch card

To compliment the Bride, here's the first Frankenstein's monster. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Wolf Man sketch card

When rendering The Wolf Man, how can you not have him howling at the full moon, I ask you? Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

randomness: Disney's The Shining

A cute little parody by Disney of Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining', which made us smile. Funny how Disney could take a Stephen King story of ghosts and murder and make it kid friendly.

If you liked that, you might also want to watch Disney's spoofs of 'The Ring' and 'The Sixth Sense'.

Black Lagoon sketch card

Even though I haven't seen Creature from the Black Lagoon, I felt that the monster was pretty cool, even as a young kid. So here's the Gill-man almost on top of Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) in this sketch card. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Nosferatu sketch card

Another horror-themed sketch card, this time of Count Orlok of Nosferatu. Purchase this original art for $20 USD, which comes in a plastic protector and includes no additional mailing costs. Contact me if interested.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pink October

As it happens, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like National Wear Red Day (the first Friday of February), this health-themed observance is associated with a color, which in this case is pink. So, instead of taking the much easier route by recommending horror films with an emphasis or excess on cleavage, we'll try to list films that make notable use of pink (and an association with women, if able). Admittedly, this is going to be a little trickier, so any suggestions are especially welcomed. Here is what we have:

'The Blob' (1988)
Memory serves that while the Blob from the original 1958 film was more of a deep red-violet, the amorphous mass in this remake had a fairly consistent pinkish hue. Breasts also happen to be somewhat amorphous, but that might be spreading it a little thin, there.

'The Return of the Living Dead' (1985)
Perhaps the most, if not one of the most, memorable characters was Trash (Linnea Quiggley), the pink-haired punk that turns zombie. And while we intended to veer away from this, there is some breast exposure included on her part. Let's face facts, the horror films that bare breasts in a non-sexual context are few.

Additional Breast Cancer Awareness Month suggestions:
- 'Courage the Cowardly Dog' cartoon series (1999-2002; Muriel Bagge is repeatedly rescued by her little pink dog, Courage)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bride sketch card

After recently illustrating a sketch card for charity, it put me in the mood to do another card. So here's Universal's classic Bride of Frankenstein. Depending on how this sells, I may do more. I'm currently setting the price at $20 USD. Because of its size, there's no additional charge for mailing costs and comes in a plastic protector. Contact me if interested.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Niche News: hide the kiddies

As you may have noticed, we've recently decided that it was time to set the Darkley Niche in the "adult content" category. Really, this should have probably happened sooner. Not that we have gratuitous graphic content or pour out the profanity -- if anything, we try to be tasteful and minimal when we do. But the fact of the matter is this site would most likely merit a "PG-13" rating, occasionally an "R," as long as we're using movie lingo.

Standards are, however, relevant and each parent uses their own discretion on what is and what is not appropriate. (As far as we're aware none of our followers are parents, but you never know.) Point is, we want to give viewers a fair warning. If there's material here on the Darkley Niche that perhaps doesn't pass your parental filter, then we politely suggest that you leave or at least hide the kiddies.

That is all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

holiday addition: National Train Day

While watching an episode of TLC's 'Cake Boss' this weekend, we learned about a rather young holiday, National Train Day, which was begun by Amtrak back in 2008. Held on the Saturday closest to May 10th, National Train Day was intentionally set near the anniversary of the Golden Spike driving in Promontory, Utah, which marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869. With that in mind, we're making National Train Day our latest addition to the Darkley Niche's Seasonal Horror Calendar.


Saturday nearest May 10th - NATIONAL TRAIN DAY

'Night Train' (2009)
When a mysterious man dies aboard a night train cabin in the midst of two other passengers, as well as a soon-to-retire conductor, the three strangers find themselves spiraling ever downward in a conspiracy to cover up the death and keep the contents of an enigmatic box.

Additional Train Day suggestions:
- 'Horror Express' (1972; frozen, missing link and murders aboard train)
- 'Raw Meat' (1972; cannibal descendants of Victorian railway workers in the London Underground)
- 'Terror Train' (1989; Groucho Marx-masked murderer, also aboard train)
- 'Hey Arnold!' season one, episode eight, "Ghost Train" (1996; urban legend of a psychopomp locomotive)
- 'Redeu-ai', 'Redeye' (2005; supernatural horror aboard train)
- 'Otoshimono', 'Ghost Train' (2006; another supernatural horror aboard train)
- 'Mononoke', episodes ten through twelve, "Bakeneko" (2007; yet another supernatural horror aboard train)
- 'The Midnight Meat Train' (2008; train murders inspired by Clive Barker story)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

memorial: Kevin McCarthy (1914-2010)

Dana Winter (left) and Kevin McCarthy (right)
in 'Invasio
n of the Body Snatchers' (1956)

If you're a regular follower of other horror blogs like ourselves, then it's likely that you've heard the recent news of actor Kevin McCarthy's passing last Saturday. To the horror community, as well as science-fiction fans, he will be best remembered for his starring role in the 1956, black-and-white film 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', which would later on inspire a lineage of remakes, parodies, and comparable adaptations.

Much to our regret, we admit not having seen this original feature of classic cinema. But even then, the influence of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' is so predominant that it's made its way into other films, such as 'Gremlins' (1984). Kevin McCarthy's close-up and haggard face, yelling, "They're here, already! You're next!" from Billy Peltzer's television set is an iconic image and one, which we're sure was heightened all the more in its black-and-white medium, that is truly haunting.

"They're here, already! You're next!"

This isn't to say that Kevin McCarthy didn't step out of the horror/science-fiction circle, though he was certainly talented enough that he could have remained, had he chosen to do so. Fortunately, McCarthy put his talents to use in other genres, such as drama and comedy. Certainly those of us who went through the Weird Al Yankovic phase remember him as R.J. Fletcher, the conceited arch-rival of George Newman (Yankovic) and his channel crew of upstart underdogs in 'UHF' (1989). But always McCarthy kept one foot in the former, familiar circle and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' kept especially close by, even into the remaining years of his acting career.

'Looney Toons: Back in Action' (2003)

Apparently director Joe Dante loved 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' and Kevin McCarthy, incorporating them into both 'Gremlins' films, 'Piranha' (1978), 'The Howling' (1981), 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' (1983), 'Innerspace' (1987), and the aforementioned movie, seen above.
Kevin McCarthy, at the admirable age of ninety-six, passed away from pneumonia. His life was long, and we're sure that his legacy in cinematic history will live on even longer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

tardy, yet again

It seems that we've missed two fairly significant dates that came and went, recently: an actual Friday the 13th and the birthday of cosmic horror author H.P. Lovecraft. The former isn't that excusable, since we've listed each month in which the thirteenth falls on a Friday up until July 13th, 2012 in our Seasonal Horror Calendar. However, dropping the ball on the latter wasn't as bad, at least in our opinion, because we hadn't thought to look into it before.

Well, we here at the Darkley Niche are rectifying that last mistake by making H.P. Lovecraft's birthday our latest addition to the Seasonal Horror Calendar. Normally we wouldn't include birthdays in the calendar. In the case of such an influential horror writer, however, we will make an exception.


'Dagon' (2002)
While inspired only in name by H.P. Lovecraft's earlier short story "Dagon", it is, however, an adaptation of our personal favorite, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". The film's greatest deviation from the written work is its change in setting, moving it from the New English town of Innsmouth to that of Imboca, Spain. Francisco Rabal's superb performance of the tragic town drunkard is not to be missed.

Additional H.P.L. suggestions:
- 'The Call of Cthulhu' (2005; silent film created by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)
- 'H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon' (1994; anthology of three H.P.L. stories)
- 'Re-Animator' (1985; eighties adaptation of the same-name story)
- 'Masters of Horror' season one, episode two, "Dreams in the Witch-House" (2005; modern adaptation of the same-name story)
- 'Evil Dead' trilogy (1981-1993; incorporates H.P.L.'s Necronomicon)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monstrous Wildlife: Graboids

Monstrous Wildlife from Frank Robnik on Vimeo.

Having seen the entire 'Tremors' movie franchise and Sci-Fi Channel television series, this parody educational video brought a bemused grin to my face.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hot as the Dickens

For our Darkley followers who still have a case of Christmas in July fever, albeit it's currently August, here's a special seasonal episode of Doctor Who, "The Unquiet Dead," featuring none other than Charles Dickens himself. How appropriate to pay homage to the author of the Yuletide, ghost story classic, 'A Christmas Carol'. You can bet your stockings that this episode is going into the Niche's Seasonal Horror Calendar.

On a side note, we felt that we would include our opinion on these risen corpses by stating that our definition of "zombie" isn't inclusive of these particular undead. Or at least we're hesitant in labeling these walking dead as such, and here's why.

Films the like of this, Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead' trilogy being another prime example, though sometimes considered zombie cinema use possession as the means of reanimation (or transformation, since many of the possessed in Raimi's trilogy are still alive). Sure, the possessed corpse oftentimes attacks the living, but that doesn't distinguish it automatically as a zombie in our book.

The one particular detail that we look for is whether or not the corpse feeds on the flesh of the living, or at the very least the recently deceased. As far as we're concerned, a reanimated corpse that doesn't eat flesh is simply a reanimated corpse. There may be the occasional exception, but that's our general rule of thumb.

"...then you sent me in a room full of zombies!"

So apologies to Rose, but we must respectfully disagree with you on this one.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ZotB: The Goon trailer

ZotB: The Walking Dead, animated

In anticipation of the upcoming 'The Walking Dead' AMC television series, an adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comic of the same name, this animation was made from the original artwork of the first issue. Even if you aren't necessarily a fan of the zombie subgenre, it's fascinating to watch what were once still illustrations given motion. However, if you are a fan, yet are unfamiliar with 'The Walking Dead', it's a unique icebreaker into Kirkman's comic.

original artwork by Tony Moore

Don't have a friend that can lend you past issues of 'The Walking Dead'? Try referring to your library system. Chances are if it's linked with libraries across the state, like Michigan's MeLCat, for example, the trade paperbacks are available to borrow. Or, if you're like me, perhaps find a comfortable chair in a Schuler Books or Barnes & Noble and read theirs.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

randomness: Sebastian's Voodoo

Maybe not horror per se (personally, I would include it), but it does have that theme of poetic justice often seen in the likes of vintage, classic horror comics, such as EC's Tales From The Crypt. And EC certainly had their share of voodoo stories.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stephen King's Cell

For those who are about to read their very first Stephen King novel, perhaps you're like myself and find that you approach this with an equal degree of anticipation and trepidation. Especially if you've watched many of the films inspired by his writings and have become a fan, even if it has undergone the filters of those who have adapted it for the screen. Will the written works be anything like these, for better or for worse? Maybe the biggest dilemma in this anxiety is choosing exactly which novel to read from the breadth of King's extensive bibliography.

Do you start from the beginning, with Carrie? It seems like the sensible thing to do, to read the earliest writings and work onward from there. However, and I may receive some flack for this, I never took much of a shining to its story. So 'Salem's Lot, then? Later perhaps, but what I realized by then was that I wanted a story that I actually hadn't seen adapted into a movie or television mini-series. And a theme to which I've developed into a definite follower. Combine the zombie apocalypse scenario together with Stephen King and what do you have? In one word: Cell.

Beginning with an outbreak reminiscent of '28 Days Later', had it happened in Boston, Massachusetts, aspiring graphic novel artist Clayton Riddell's dreams go up in smoke like the very city in which burns around him when what is later called "the Pulse" causes anyone communicating on a cell phone to essentially go mad and murderous. During the initial chaos that ensues, Clayton comes across Tom McCourt, a shorter, gentle-hearted man whose sexual orientation was very subtle to what I was originally led to believe (read Stephen Colbert's interview with Stephen King), and teenager Alice Maxwell. Together, the three travel by night to avoid the "phone crazies" and head north towards Maine, where Clayton's son lives.

Likely this is an oversimplification of Cell, but what really drives the book comes down to two devices: the fear that the phone crazies inspire not simply by their murderous nature, but more so by their eerie evolution, and the intriguing perspective King takes on the standard viral effect of zombie infection and transformation from the biological to the technological. Both devices are quite brilliant, really, in my humble opinion. Later into the novel, a little less than halfway through, we are given the writer's convenience through Gaiten Academy professor Charles "the Head" Ardai but particularly through his pupil, Jordan. Here's an excerpt from Jordan's theory regarding the effect of the pulse:
"No one has any real idea what that ninety-eight percent [of the human brain] is for, but there's plenty of potential there. Stroke victims, for instance... they sometimes access previously dormant areas of their brains in order to walk and talk again. It's like their brains wire around the blighted area. The lights go on in a similar area of the brain, but on the other side. [...] If you wipe a computer hard drive, it can't regenerate spontaneously... except maybe in a Greg Bear novel. People are different. [...] Me and the Head -- the Head and I -- think that in addition to stripping people's brains all the way down to that one unerasable line of code, the Pulse also kicked something on. Something that's probably been sitting inside all of us for millions of years, buried in that ninety-eight percent of dormant hard drive."
As to what Jordan is leading up to, I'll leave to you to learn for yourselves. With creative re-imagining of the zombie subgenre, Cell is a remarkably intriguing read. My only grievance is the occasional interjections that the characters, usually Clayton, make from time to time for borderline annoying anecdotes. That aside, I have no other complaints. I give it four-and-a-half out of five Lawrence Welks. (Trust me, it will make sense once you've read Cell.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

randomness: FlashForward Halloween

Recently I've begun watching ABC's series 'FlashForward', a sci-fi conspiracy thriller. Now normally this would have no relevance to the Niche, given that our interest lies in horror, horror crossovers, and horror-related subgenres. However episode six of 'FlashForward', "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" (the title derived from David Bowie's song of the same name -- kudos for their good taste in music), takes place during Halloween. What caught my attention was babysitter Nicole Kirby (Peyton List), who was dressed in costume as Sally, the living rag-doll girl from Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', greeting trick-or-treaters. It was a cute homage, even if it was a small one.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Canada Day and Independence Day

We here at the Niche hope that our Stateside readers are currently having a good Independence Day, and that our neighbors to the north had a nice Canada Day as well. To commemorate the latter, we've recently added this holiday to our extensive calendar of seasonal horror films. Feel free to consult the calendar, however for your convenience we've included our selection for both holidays in this post.

July 1st - CANADA DAY

'The Thaw' (2009)
Doctor David Kruipen and his expedition team come across the preserved remains of a mammoth, recently unearthed by the melting ice, in the Canadian arctic circle. Unwittingly, the scientists bring along with them a deadly parasite that has been alive inside of the carcass all these millennia. *cough* preachyenvironmentalistmessage *cough*

Additional Canada Day recommendations:
- 'Pontypool' (2008; abstract, viral outbreak in Ontario, Canada's town of Pontypool)
- any horror film created by Canada, regardless of the holidays, such as: 'The Mask' (1961), 'The Changeling' (1980), 'The Brood' (1975), 'Black Christmas' (1974), 'My Bloody Valentine' (1981), 'Prom Night' (1980), 'Fido' (2006), and so on
- 'Friday the 13th Part III' (1982) and the rest thereafter, because Jason Voorhees dons his iconic hockey mask -- can't have Canada without the hockey


'Uncle Sam' (1997)
When teenagers unpatriotically burn an American flag over the grave of a Gulf War veteran, the soldier rises from the dead to wreak vengeance on his hometown during the Fourth of July festivities.
Additional Independence Day suggestions:
- 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' (1997; high school kids cover up a hit-and-run accident during the Fourth of July)
- 'The Shining' (1980; Overlook Hotel's 1921, July 4th Ball)
- 'ID4: Independence Day' (1996; more action than horror, but has monstrous alien invaders)
- 'Jaws' (1975; more thriller than horror, shark attacks near Fourth of July festivities)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

ZotB: 10 Downing St. and Vivos bunkers

'The Daily Show' - May 10, 2010 - "Clustershag to 10 Downing: Hung Parliament" excerpt
"So while the [British] election itself was a bit of a disappointment, the coverage was fascinating and top shelf. The BBC took one correspondent and planted him into a virtual world by digitally rendering hundreds of members of parliament all around him before blasting lasers through their heads. Having completed level one, they took the same reporter and transported him to a virtual staircase inside an M.C. Escher drawing where he correctly named several past prime ministers. And then onto the boss level, where he was forced to build a Magneto-style walkway that he used to approach and enter the famed 10 Downing Street, where once he was there he encountered -- ZOMBIES! Nooo! It was a trap! Noo! Nooooo! ... You should have never unlocked the door on level two!"
"ZOMBIES! Nooo! It was a trap! Noo! Nooooo!"

'The Colbert Report' - June 28, 2010 - "Doomsday Bunkers" excerpt
"Folks, when the end of the world comes, make sure you have a spot in a Vivos bunker... if you want to die! [...] Because I have uncovered an even ancienter, Summerianer tablet predicting Armageddon within the Vivos bunkers. That's why the Prescott Group has designed an exclusive, highly secure, under-the-bunker bunker where you and your family can safely retreat in the event of an intrabunker Armageddon. For just 1.2 million dollars, you'll be spared the chaos in the bunker above while enjoying such amenities as corridors, handguns, and a very attentive zombie staff. Act now before it's too late."
"...corridors, handguns, and a very attentive zombie staff."

Not entirely sure from which game (at least I'm assuming that it's a game) 'The Daily Show' borrowed the CGI zombies. However, 'The Colbert Report's footage is most definitely from the Left 4 Dead games. If someone should let me know about the former, I'll be sure to amend this post.

See also:
Better Know A Stephen: Stephen King

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

AVGN on retro slasher games

The Angry Video Game Nerd, known earlier on as the Angry Nintendo Nerd, is a web series of retro video game reviews with James Rolfe as said Nerd, an individual so foul-mouthed that he puts the most verbose of sailors to shame. The profanity, as well as exaggerated gestures, again of the offensive sort, is part of the critic's overall character and at the heart of it is meant to be comical. The same goes for his occasional "drinking" during a review, meant to add to his already volatile personality and the show's comedy. His love-hate relationship with playing lousy games on old-school consoles such as Nintendo, Sega, and Atari is what fuels the cycle of each webisode. Granted, the toilet humor can get rather old. So if you have a low or even moderate tolerance for this sort of subject matter, we politely suggest that you skip over this particular post. Remember, you've been warned.

As far as we're aware, AVGN has reviewed specifically four video games that were inspired by iconic slasher horror films, namely: 'Friday the 13th' (NES), 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (NES), 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (Atari 2600), and 'Halloween' (Atari 2600). This isn't to say that the Video Game Nerd hasn't discussed (or perhaps berated would be the better word) other horror games, as he's covered a handful of 'Ghostbusters' adaptations for different systems, but I digress. Of these four, we really have to tip our hat to AVGN's 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' review, not only because of the inclusion of Freddy Krueger as an active participant in the webisode, but also the clever homage to the Power Glove gag, which alludes to the sixth film in the franchise.

'Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare' (1991)

"Go yank your...[explicit string of profanity]! I've got the Power Glove!"
The rest of the reviews also include guest star cameos from their respective killers, playing out scenarios reminiscent of those seen in the original movies with the Nerd as their intended victim. However, as you may have surmised from his Power Glove quip (above), being passive in any situation, regardless of the circumstances, is not acceptable to the Angry Video Game Nerd. With the exception of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' webisode in regards to the latter, each time he manages a successful escape from their sinister intentions and usually takes the advantage to retaliate, beating the killer at their own game most often with a console accessory as a tactful weapon.

Without further ado, here are the aforementioned Angry Video Game Nerd's reviews in the proper order that the four webisodes were released. Again, we give fair warning to those with a disdain towards prolific profanity and toilet humor.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Have a happy Father's Day, from all of us here at the Darkley Niche! Feeling inclined to watch some Father's Day horror for the occasion? Well, look no further than our Seasonal Horror Calendar. Be sure to also browse down the calendar to September as well, for those of you who have grandfathers (Grandparents Day) and stepfathers (Stepfamily Day). After all, it's Father's Day for them too, you know. And in the spirit of Father's Day, here's some fatherly advice from a handful of horror film dads.

'The Shining' (1980)
"Enjoy the time you have while you're still a kid, and don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Make friends, use your imagination -- well, maybe less in your case, Danny -- and play. Especially play. As the old saying goes, 'All work and no play...' "

'Creepshow's first story, "Father's Day" (1982)
"Everyone wants to feel appreciated, dear ol' Dad included. Find a way to say 'thank you' to someone special. Perhaps a simple, handmade card or a small gift. As long as the thought is evident, they'll know it's heartfelt. Although I personally prefer cake..."

'The Hills
Have Eyes' (1977)
"Teach your boys how to hunt, to clean their kill, and cook a meal. We want our sons to eventually become self-reliant and these are good ways to show them how. Remember, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there..."

'The People Under the Stairs' (1991)
"Respect to 'Mother' shows respect to me. The same holds true with any family, and your father will feel the same. Besides, whenever you go over her head it's usually up to Dad to bring the heavy-duty discipline. And believe you me, you do not want to see him dressed in a borderline bondage, leather suit..."

'Twilight Zone's episode "Living Doll" (1963)
"Like all personal belongings, when toys aren't in use it's best to put them in their proper place. A toy chest, closet, underneath the bed, et cetera. Wherever it works best. Especially be sure to keep toys off of the stairs. Someone could accidentally break their neck..."