"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

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..."

Friday, June 18, 2010

randomness: Loituma Alice

Speaking of knife-wielding psychopaths, here's a funny little animation that parodies the viral video "Loituma Girl" featuring American McGee's Alice, instead. Fan of the game, by the way, and that especially holds true of our Darkley comic collaborator and good friend, Don. Macabre renditions of children's stories or characters, when done right, are always a plus in our book and McGee's Alice is exemplary. What makes "Loituma Alice" ironic is that it takes the darkly sinister adaptation of McGee and makes it child-friendly again. Well, sort of, but you get the point. No pun intended.

The playing card suits in the background was a clever change.

See also: Children r Skary's "The Mockingbird Song"

Psycho's 50th Anniversary

"What? A surprise birthday party for me? Aw, you guys shouldn't have!"

Unwittingly in our previous post on the Niche, I made a reference to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller 'Psycho', since the film in review included an homage of the infamous shower scene. As it just so happened, 'Psycho' turned fifty that very Wednesday. Really, what are the odds of such a coincidence? So in lieu of this movie milestone, we urge you to take time from your hectic schedules to dim the lights, put on 'Psycho', and enjoy this Hitchcock classic.

Here's a little something extra, a behind-the-scenes video with Alfred Hitchcock giving the audience a personal set tour of 'Psycho'. The director's rather dry humor is amusing. But please, unless you've already seen the movie, we recommend that you wait on watching this until after viewing 'Psycho', due to spoilers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Horribly Slow Murderer

True, while this may constitute as a faux trailer, the video itself is approximately ten minutes long and therefore deserves to be treated as a short film. "The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon" is written and directed by Richard Gale, featuring forensic pathologist Jack Cucchiaio (Paul Clemens), who becomes the target of the relentless Murderer's (Brian Rohan) beatings... using a common, household spoon. Yes, you read right. A spoon. (WARNING: spoilers ahead)

In the immortal words of the Tick, "SPOOOOON!"

It begins in the vein of a cat-and-mouse, psychological thriller with
Jack Cucchiaio stalked by a hooded figure in black with deathly white skin... and again, with a spoon. But the genre takes a turn towards ghostly horror of the 'Ju-on' variety as Jack learns the supernatural nature of his tormentor. Consulting a grotesque mystic (Fay Kato) overseas in the Far East, Cucchiaio learns that the Murderer is a "Ginosaji", which cannot be stopped and follows its prey unto the ends of the earth. Cue the appropriate montage of Cucchiaio pursued across the continents, attacked on both land and sea. Nowhere is Jack safe from the wrathful Ginosaji's spoon.

Visiting a dermatologist and orthodontist would do wonders.

Adding additional humor to the chase, Richard Gale even includes an homage of Hitchcock's 'Psych
o' shower scene. Hilarious! Especially the belly slaps.

"AAAUGH! Why couldn't it be a loofah?"

Finally, pushed to the point of absolute desperation, Jack retaliates with an amassed arsenal of weaponry and explosives for a last stand against the Murderer, 'Rambo' style. Everything fails. Everything. Lying exhausted and bloodied from the merciless barrage of beatings spanning over twelve years, the Murderer closes in for the kill... only to find that after a few hits the spoon has finally reached its breaking point, snapping in two. What now? Is Jack Cucchiaio free of this curse, or does the Ginosaji have more in store for him? We'll let you see for yourse

"The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon" is a riot, if nothing else for its ridiculous weapon of choice and the Murderer's tenacity. We give it four out of five spoons.

Monday, June 14, 2010

randomness: Scary Mary

I've already seen this parody trailer of Walt Disney's 'Mary Poppins', but had nearly forgotten about it until this afternoon. Of all the people to possibly remind me this video, it happened to be my mother; a woman who startles so easily that I have to consciously make my footsteps louder when her back is turned, else she nearly jumps out of her skin when she notices someone is in the same room. But I digress. What's most amusing about "Scary Mary" is that it makes for a rather believable horror film trailer. If it were real, I would watch that movie. The same goes for 'Gobstopper', as well.

It's like 'Supernanny's Joanne Frost meets 'A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

BitG: new post label and High Moon vol. 1

Like the recent addition of "Zombies on the Brain", we've created a another post label for comic-related news and reviews: Blood in the Gutter. ("Gutter" is the term that refers to the spacing between panels.) We've taken the liberty of using this title, which was coined by Scott McCloud in the third chapter of his educational book Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. A very good read, by the way, along with his other works. So when you read "BitG", like in this current post's title, that's what the abbreviation stands for.

High Moon, volume one cover

Created by writer David Gallaher and artist Steve Ellis, High Moon is an on-going webcomic which debuted back in 2007 through Zuda Comics, a branch off of DC Comics, as part of its initial launch. Volume one contains the first three chapters of the series. Granted, you can read High Moon for free online, however there's something to be said about having a printed edition to hold in your hands. The graphic novel runs for $14.99 USD, but I managed to buy it for about a third of the original cost at a comic convention, so attending these shows can pay off.

Here's the synopsis given on the back of the book:
"An investigation into a series of strange happenings in a small Texas town explodes into a breakneck chase across American plains, chock full of cowboys, werewolves, vampires, bullets... and more bullets. The first winner of Zuda Comics' monthly online competition and Harvey Award nominee for Best New Series, HIGH MOON is a riveting horror adventure set amid the blood and banditry of the Old West."
The beginning of High Moon has a lone stranger by the name of Matthew Macgregor breeze into said "small Texas town" searching for Eddie Conroy of the Sullivan Gang, an outlaw with a bounty on his head. As it happens, the young daughter of Mister Hunter, the town moneybags, has been kidnapped and with the sheriff gone a "gentlemen's agreement" is made: find the girl, and they'll find his man. Well, needless to say things go up sh*t creek, especially when Macgregor and simpleton Deputy Jeb come across the mutilated remains of cattle and local miners. Macgregor and Conroy, who are both werewolves (Gallaher and Ellis aren't coy about keeping this a secret), become entangled in a town conspiracy with vampires at the heart of it all and the kidnapping, as it turns out, was an attempt to save the girl's life.

After the bloodshed is over the vampires are ultimately beaten, but (WARNING: spoiler alert) Macgregor has his throat slashed open and bleeds to death. This turns the entire story on its ear and Conroy, who we assumed was not an especially significant character, suddenly becomes our protagonist. After tending to Matthew's body, he scavenges the dead man's belongings and from then on goes by the name Macgregor. While I respect High Moon for throwing us a curve ball, I can't help but feeling a little cheated. The Scotsman bounty hunter was the big draw to the book, speaking for just myself. Although I'm not sure what to make of the red-haired wolf seen at the end of chapter three, one that resembles werewolf Macgregor with its similarly colored fur and jags of bone spurs. Perhaps he makes a return, but this was my main beef with the story thus far.

Tristan Macgregor, sketch

For those of you with a fondness for steampunk, chapter two is an especial treat with the introduction of another character, sporting a top hat and goggles, eloquent speech with an English propriety about it... Oh, and a fully mechanical right arm as well. Hard to not notice that. Adding further to the mystique, his name is Tristan Macgregor, brother of the late Matthew Macgregor from the previous chapter. Aside for working as Nikola Tesla's (an historical figure used in popular culture, often encroaching his inventions into science fiction territory -- ex. 'The Prestige') special envoy, he's searching for the man who killed his brother. And it just so happens there's a man using his dead brother's name... Awkward.

Young Raven

Well, after resolving a local family dispute between two brothers over a woman, subsequently cursing their own town, literally, the mix-up is settled and the two become entangled in another plot by the appearance of a young, blue-tinged Native American woman going by the name of Young Raven. Young Raven has premonitions of Sioux Indians slaughtered en masse by nightmarish horsemen, who turn out to be cavalrymen. The soldiers are headed by Commander Prescott, whose agenda of genocide involves an interest in the elusive Ghost Dance of the natives. Matters become further complicated when Tristan's wife, Dierdre, has gotten into bed literally and figuratively with the enemy.

More follows as the third and final chapter of volume one wraps up, including an intense dream sequence with Conroy and a colossal, raven-man entity. But in any case the series was continued, so volume one is left inconclusive. While the story itself is a little confusing at times, the premise of High Moon and Ellis' spectacular artwork warrant much praise for the first book. I give it four-and-a-half out of five Macgregors.
See also: The High Moon Rises

ZotB: Dead Nation trailer for PS3

Got to admit, diner girl zombie was a cute touch.

Friday, June 4, 2010

ZotB: beer as the cause and cure

Both are amusing videos about zombies and beer, but each uses this combination in completely opposite ways. Watch and have a good laugh on us.

On a side note, for those of you who are perhaps fans of drinking and zombies, you can purchase California-based Chateau Diana's "Zombie Zinfandel" wine. The back label reads: "2004 Zombie Zinfandel is blood-red in colour, horridly rich in concentrated fruit flavours with a finish that never dies." Personally, neither Don nor myself are much for drinking; especially when it comes to wine. Although I must confess that it does tempt me a little. If they come out with a zombie-themed vodka, I'll definitely drink zombie White Russians.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ZotB: Smurfs, zombies, and PC

He's coming to eat your braaaiiinnnsss... or at least Brainy Smurf.

Growing up, I wasn't among those children who watched 'The Smurfs' cartoon or read the original, Belgian comic 'Les Schtroumpfs' that it was based on. Still, I found this little analysis from the webcomic 'Menage a 3' (WARNING: contains adult content) rather interesting. Who would have guessed that the premise to Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968) and 'Les Schtroumpfs Noirs' (literally "The Black Smurfs") would be so similar? It sounds silly, but the parallels are rather uncanny. Read for yourself.

As one might imagine, this negative portrayal of a "black" Smurf caused some controversy, which was reason for Hanna-Barbera ("They're coming to get you, Barbera!" Sorry, bad joke.) Productions to opt for the color purple in the animated series, instead. Even the original comic, 'Les Schtroumpfs Noirs', wasn't translated into English for this very reason. Honestly, though, it seems like a rather weak argument. Political correctness sometimes is pushed to the point of pure ludicrousness, in this writer's personal opinion. Explain to me exactly what derogatory stereotype a hopping, biting Smurf perpetuates of the African community, I ask you? In all seriousness, tell me.

'Les Schtroumpfs Noirs' page with the first "infected" Smurf

If the black Smurfs from 'Les Schtroumpfs Noirs' can be seen as offensive, why hasn't the LGBT community gotten up in arms over the "politically correct" purple Smurfs from season one, episode sixteen? If one goes along the same skewed line of thinking that reasons why the black Smurfs were offensive, you could find a whole slew of imaginary insinuations. Examples: the gay association with the color purple (Remember the Tinky Winky controversy?), the spread of infection like an STD, hopping instead of the derogatory stereotype of skipping, and so on. Don't get angry, I'm simply playing devil's advocate to prove my point. It goes to show you that such hypersensitive interpretations are really unfounded and outright ridiculous.

horde of infected Smurfs descending on the Smurf village

an especially zombie-like Smurfette with arms raised forward

Before I asked who would have guessed 'The Smurfs' and 'Night of the Living Dead' could be so alike. But it would appear that the bigger question is, who would have guessed 'The Smurfs' could be deemed controversial? Goes to show you how backwards the world works, I guess.

Watch "The Purple Smurfs" episode, here.

ZotB: G4 zombie public service announcement

"Smoothie! ... Smooooothieeeee...!"

ZotB: zombie jerky

I've seen this circulating on a couple of horror blogs, so it seemed like a delectable little tidbit to share on the Niche. If you're familiar with Japanese merchandising, you're likely aware of its pop style trend and colorful flair. "Zombie Meat", blue jerky averaging at ¥399 (yen) or $4.50 USD per pack, is no exception. Considering how zombies are constantly making meals out of us, it's about time we turned the tables on them.

Maybe you're asking, "But why blue jerky?" A valid question, given that this hue isn't the first color to come to mind for zombie flesh. Personally, I tend to assume that it's going to be green, however in 'Dawn of the Dead' (1978) Romero's zombies are a shade of blue-gray. Though I can't defend the afro, unless it's another kickback to the seventies.