"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

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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.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Darkley year, part I: movies

Well, another year has come and gone, dear darklings, since our last post here on the Darkley Niche. And although we've been absent from the blogosphere, we haven't been slacking in our indulgence in horror. Quite the contrary. So, here's a beginning summation of what we've sown and reaped since last October, starting with movies. Pace yourselves, readers: it's going to be a lengthy list.


 'Warm Bodies' (2012)

Certainly we can all recall when the zombie sub-genre went viral for a time and, in fact, is apparently still shambling onward just like its primary subject matter. We can currently see this in such examples as AMC's 'The Walking Dead' on television to 'World War Z' on DVD/Blu-ray. But we'll admit that there was skepticism on our part when 'Warm Bodies' made its debut on the silver screen, essentially expecting a riff on the 'Twilight' franchise with a dash of half-hearted comedy. But to our surprise, this was actually quite enjoyable and one you can easily watch with the girlfriend.

'Hitchcock' (2012)

Not to put too fine a point on it, this film was absolutely brilliant. Like 'Warm Bodies', we had our reservations, but for entirely different reasons. There's no denying Anthony Hopkins' talent as an actor, but it's hard to stray away from the taint of his notoriety as Hannibal Lector, especially when tackling horror. Add to that worry the uncertain effectiveness of prosthetic makeup and mimicry of Hitchcock's distinct speech and mannerisms. However, not a one turned out flawed and the movie masterfully interweaves the movie maker's personal life with the production of a comeback film, each bleeding into the other, which is rather fitting.

Hammer Horror's 'Dracula' franchise (1958-1974)

Apart from 'The Wicker Man' (1973) and 'Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf' (1985), we had seen very little of Christopher Lee's work. Don, friend in the fiendish, and myself resolved that we would watch all nine films that comprised the franchise over the course of several weeks as our schedules allowed. Staleness was to be expected, but surprisingly the series held up rather well, only really falling apart towards the end, particularly with 'The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires' (1974). Our personal favorite was 'Scars of Dracula' (1970), if for no other reason than the church massacre scene towards the beginning.

'Evil Dead' (2013)

Here we have our first remake, which always stirs up some controversy and ergo means what we write, here, could be seen as controversial. While Bruce Campbell does give it a bump of approval at the end of the credits with his trademark "Groovy," we still missed having him in the movie. That said, though, this was a fine love letter to the original film that began the trilogy. While the two sequels that followed were by no means bad, their campiness delineated significantly from the darker atmosphere of the first. In all likelihood, casting probably decided against including Bruce Campbell for the same reason Jackie Earle Haley was chosen over Robert Englund for the 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' 2010 remake, which was to avoid that campy association. And like that remake, this one also did a commendable job expanding on the original's present-day premise and its back story.

'ParaNorman' (2013)

Brought to us by the minds of 'Coraline', 'ParaNorman' was an alright animated movie with "alright" being the key word, here. Frankly, we're not altogether sure why. The animation and artistry is as amazing as its predecessor, plus the storyline isn't necessarily slacking by any means. Yet, for whatever reason, we weren't as enamored with this one. Perhaps the fault lies in its character development, but that's only taking a stab in the dark. Maybe this deserves another viewing on our part.

'The Conjuring' (2013)

What can be said about 'The Conjuring' that hasn't been raved about already in other, numerous reviews? Unless another, more well-done horror movie is made before December 31st (and admittedly 'Carrie' (2013) certainly does come in at a close second), we feel fairly confident stating that this is the defining horror film of 2013. And horror fans can appreciate the somewhat tongue-in-cheek choice in casting Lili Taylor in a haunted house film, having played the main part in 'The Haunting' (1999), as well as Vera Farmiga of A&E's 'Bates Motel'. You can be sure we'll touch on the latter, later.

'Insidious: Chapter 2' (2013)

It came as a disappointment that James Wan's sequel to 'Insidious' (2011) would be found lacking, especially in lieu of his success with 'The Conjuring'. Maybe therein lies the fault, having to balance the production of two movies made so close together. Even so, this simply felt like a recycling of the first, leaving us with a finish that's less open-ended cliffhanger, more intentional set-up for a third film. That isn't even mentioning the overuse of pancake make-up, making this feel like an offshoot of Wan's other previous film, 'Dead Silence'.

'Frankenstein's Army' (2013)

A forewarning: this film is not for the squeamish. Gore hounds, however, should be able to appreciate 'Frankenstein's Army', as it is a mangled mesh of flesh and machinery, wading waist-deep in severed limbs at times. We kid you not. But where we do find the appeal is in its reminiscence of the 'Wolfenstein' games of our youth, which similarly pits the protagonist against Frankenstein-like horrors in the backdrop of World War II. So, that association was enough to warrant a viewing. ...A second viewing, however? Likely not anytime soon.

That's all for now, but we'll be sure to finish our list of viewed films from this year, soon. Then, on to television and literature. So stay tuned, dear darklings. *cue The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun"*

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