Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Taste of Cinema: Horror Classics

The folks over at Taste of Cinema invited me back for another guest column. This one is all about horror films based on (non-horror) classic fiction. Think Rudyard Kipling or Jane Austen.

If you want to see the full, trashy list, go on over and check it out. Before you do, however, here are a few hints at what to expect:

1. We have one fairy tale on the list.
2. We have a horror movie set almost entirely in a museum.
3. We have a little bit of Shakespeare.
4. We have the very first detective story ever written.
5. We have the absolute closest thing to a Freddy Krueger movie without Freddy Krueger.

Perhaps you can make a few educated guesses before you click the link. If not, be warned: these movies are much spookier than their literary versions. Also, there's more body fluids.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Silent Night, Muppet Night

For a little bit of Christmas spirit in the middle of summer, here's Silent Night, Muppet Night. This is a video I made years ago. It's pretty adorable.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar Night!

You guys! Tonight's the Gay Superbowl!! It's the Oscars! I am so freaking excited. I mean, of course the Tangerine-shaped wound is still fresh on my heart. And don't get me started on the Carol snubs. But whatever. The important thing is: the 2016 list of nominees is perhaps the strongest group of Oscar movies since the best picture list was expanded in 2010. In other words, there's absolutely no Blind Side, no Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the bunch! And that, my friends, is definite room for celebration. All of these movies are good, and some of them are great.

This is honestly the first year in my memory where I won't be disappointed if any of the nominated films wins Best Picture. Of course, in a perfect world, Mad Max would win everything it's nominated for, or (barring that) at least Spotlight (the second best movie of the bunch).

I have a creeping suspicion that The Revenant will have a very good run tonight, which is only disappointing in comparison to all the other, slightly worthier movies in the running. Either way, I'd be perfectly happy to live in a world where the Oscar for best picture goes to a movie about a guy who crawls inside a dead horse so he won't freeze to death. Why not?

So I'll be satisfied with whatever happens tonight... Unless, of course, Inside Out loses the best cartoon award, in which case I'll never forgive myself for this blind optimism. But that won't happen.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the awards, too. And in the meantime, you can check out some of my latest movie reviews over at Slickster Magazine. We have:

Kung Fu Panda 3: The Repetition
"if you're a fan of the first film, just watch that instead"

The Visit
"at least as good as Signs or The Village"

Hail, Caesar!
"a disappointing Coen Brothers movie that happens to have some of the best scenes they've ever done"

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
"the idea is better than the execution"

None of these movies are horrible, so check them out if you're at all interested. But whatever you do, don't watch this movie:


Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Little Plug for My Amazing Monkey Story

Do you like reading about Quantum and Woody, the world's worst superheroes?

Do you have amazing taste in literature?

Do you dare to check out a 99 cent short story about superheroes, charm bracelets, accidental panda murder, and the deadly ravages of Monkey Flu?

If you answered yes to anything of these questions, then head on over to Amazon to get my exclusive new Kindle Worlds story "Monkey Brains."

If you answered no to all three of those questions, then... just go away. Right now.

Seriously. Go away.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Visit

Wait. This is a "Nigerian romantic comedy thriller." First of all, I don't know what that means. Secondly, this can't be the right film.
That's more like it.

The Visit
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Yay!)
Written by M. Night Shyamalan (Sigh.)

Two precocious kids spend a week with their estranged grandparents. They'd never met the old couple before, which makes things particularly unnerving when the grandparents start acting very strangely. There's poop and vomit involved, as well as the tensest game of Yahtzee ever committed to film. I did not make any of that up.

I'm not going to include any quotes here, because I think the dialogue was a little overwritten. But the young boy does rap a lot. Freestyle. It's cute.

Oh, wait. I'll include one quote: "YAHTZEE!"

Seriously. You gotta see this movie. 

Okay. We all know that found footage horror films are well past their sell-by date. After the first Paranormal Activity came out, people went crazy. After the last Paranormal Activity came out, people went... nowhere. At least not to the theaters, anyway. The bloom is off the rose, is what I'm saying.

But leave it to good ol' M. Night to shake things up a bit. After a long and embarrassing dry spell, he's figured out how to breathe new life into this dying subgenre. In this film, the main girl is an aspiring filmmaker who has clear emotional reasons to continue making her movie, which only heightens the weirdness when her footage starts revealing the creepy side of her family.

The violence doesn't erupt until the very end, and the worst of it is only shown in quick flashes. Instead, this movie gets its chills from showing a seemingly normal elderly couple doing increasing weird and dangerous stuff. Also, there's a lot of poop involved. That's pretty gross.

M. Night's best decision when writing this movie is to go against his tendency to attach a twist ending to everything he does. Instead, he reveals the true nature of the situation at the end of Act II, which makes the whole movie seem less cheap than, say, The Village. It also allows him to really go ape shit during the third act. 

Seven eights of this film is good.
Nope. There is absolutely nothing queer about it. On a scale of 1 to Freddy's Revenge, this movie's a 1. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go see it. You absolutely should. I mean...

Friday, December 25, 2015

Top 5 Christmas Scrooges

Late December. The days get shorter, the nights get colder, and people start knocking on your door so they can sing at you. 'Tis the season for drinking eggnog, wearing ugly sweaters, and watching people be horribly, disgustingly mean to each other. We all deserve a little coal in our stockings every once in a while, but some people take the naughty list to a whole new level. This week, we're counting down the top five movie Scrooges, those heartless holiday-haters who make life miserable for everyone else, and then never learn their lesson!

Number five: Mrs. Deagle, Gremlins
Any elderly woman who threatens to murder a cute, little puppy dog is bound to get some holiday comeuppance. And that's exactly what happens to Mrs. Deagle, when the titular monsters sneak into her house and rewire her electric chair into a death trap. Will anyone mourn her passing, though? Not likely. Mrs. Deagle is a prime example of a movie Scrooge.

She shuts down local businesses, cuts in line, throws buckets of cold water onto Christmas carolers, kicks innocent families out on the street, and threatens to kill that aforementioned dog with household appliances. The only time she ever shows kindness is when she's talking to her dozen-or-so cats. Perhaps it's best that she died before seeing her beloved felines turn into Gremlin food.

Number four: Uncle Frank, Home Alone
Every family has an Uncle Frank, the relative that always shows up for family gatherings, eats the food, and says cranky and inappropriate things to virtually everyone else. Sure, he doesn't do anything evil, but he's just not pleasant. And because the movie is from young Kevin McCallister's perspective, everything is amplified.

Still, any non-family member would recognize Frank as the Scrooge of the family. He refuses to pay for the pizza, he blatantly ignores his wife, and he calls Kevin a little jerk. Plus, in a rare deleted scene, he even pulls down Kevin's pants as some sort of prank. "Look what you did, you little jerk" indeed.

Number three: The Mouse Queen, The Nutcracker Prince
The only thing worse that an ugly old mouse is an ugly old mouse with the voice of Phyllis Diller who can curse you with ugliness if she ever bites your big toe. Not surprisingly, this character and the ugly-toe curse were not part of Tchaikovsky ballet, but were added to the animated movie version.

The Mouse King might be the main villain, but his angry old mother was the true Scrooge of the story, busting out weirdly specific curses and crawling through delicious-looking food like she was auditioning for Ratatouille. She was the one who turned some innocent boy into a nutcracker, all because... Well, her motivations don't quite make sense. And isn't that the Scroogiest thing of all?

Number two: The Penguin, Batman Returns
Superhero movies aren't typically Christmas-y. The flashing lights and tinsel tend to distract from the action scenes and the tight tights. Leave it to Tim Burton, then, to make the darkest, creepiest, most Christmas-y superhero movie of the 90s.

It's late December in Gotham City, and guess who's not feeling the holiday warmth: That's right. The deformed circus freak living in the sewers under the city. And can you blame him? It isn't his fault that his parents abandoned him into the sewers because he had six total fingers and the face of Danny DeVito. It is his fault, however, that he kidnaps half of the city's children and unleashes a troupe of evil circus performers on the street. That might be a little much. By the time he starts shooting his own minions with umbrella guns, it's pretty clear: The Penguin is a grade-A Scrooge.

Number one: Killer Santa, Rare Exports, Santa's Slay, Christmas Evil, and Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 and 2 
It may come as a surprise that there are so many killer Santa movies out there, but if you think about it for a second, it makes perfect sense. Santa sneaks into your house with the sole purpose of rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. Swap the red and white clothes for a blue jumpsuit and you basically have Michael Myers.

In some versions of this story--Rare Exports and Santa's Slay--jolly old Saint Nick is an ancient being with the murderous drive to dispense old world punishment on new world victims. In all the other versions, Santa is really just a crazy person in a suit, dealing with inner demons and past trauma by dressing up and murdering. In most of pop culture, Santa is such a jolly old fellow, that when he snaps and stabs someone with a candy cane, that makes him the biggest Scrooge of all.

So the next time you feel a little cranky this December, try to learn from these cautionary tales. Don't be a Scrooge. Or at the very least, don't threaten someone's puppy dog. You know that's not going to end well.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's Been a Long Time...

Greetings and salutations! It has been a long time since I kept this website active, but it looks like I'm kind-of, sort-of coming back. See, the main reason this site went dark was because I moved to a certain country whose government tended to block websites such as this one. I won't say the name of that country, but it's China. Anyway, I've since moved to Russia (on and off), back to China, and then finally settled here in beautiful East Africa. Tanzania, to be specific. And thankfully, there aren't nearly as many internet restrictions here. So I'm back...

With a few updates:

For a hot minute, I wrote for AfterElton, which has since changed hands a few times and is now part of Logo's website. I currently do the same kinds of articles (pop culture randomness and occasional personal stuff) over at Gay the Straight Away, which has been pretty fun so far. Thanks to that website, I've sort of rediscovered silent films, which are increasingly less boring the older I get.

I also have a few books that have come out. My very first novel is a young adult horror-fantasy-comedy called Demons! Come Out! It's a trip. Basically, some average gay kid accidentally unleashes a bunch of hell demons and has to send them back to where they belong. It's goofy. Very Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plus, I have two romance novels and a bunch of short stories. You can see some of my Kindle Worlds stuff over on Amazon. I'm trying to branch out into as many genres as possible. My motto is anything except Westerns, because Westerns make my eyes roll back into my head.

Whelp, that's all the news from me. Expect some new posts to come out soon! In the last four years, there have been plenty of amazing horror films from all over the world. Lots of new classics. It's time to start making fun of them!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thanks... and I'll See You Soon!

As some of you may have noticed, the posts have gotten a little sporadic as of late. Well, there's a good excuse for that. Well... not exactly a GOOD excuse... but an adequate excuse. I've recently relocated to a small town in China (got a new job, long story, it's really awesome), which means I live in an area with limited wi-fi and a country with increased government regulations on websites. So, it's been a tad difficult to keep these blogs going on a bi-weekly basis.

So I wanted to thank everybody who has been checking out this website for the last year and a half. Plus, I wanted to give the following message to all the people who have never checked out this website: Suck it! You are, by definition, unable to read this message.

I will try to get back to you guys as soon as possible. But for now, keep being awesome and watch as many movies as possible.


Monday, July 2, 2012


Pocahontas (1995)
Horror connections:
John Kassir (The Cryptkeeper!)
Christian Bale (American Psycho)
Billy Connolly (Fido)
Gay connections:
Out voice actor David Ogden Stiers continues his partnership with Disney by voicing two new characters, Governor Ratcliffe and his manservant Wiggins. Hmm.
Bambi’s Mother Alert:
Unfortunately, no traumatizing on-screen deaths. Christian Bale accidentally shoots some guy, who topples in slow motion. Mel Gibson almost gets his head bashed in by a chief stick. (Pocahontas rescues him, of course. If she hadn’t, they probably wouldn’t have made this film.)
Coded gays:
Ratcliffe and Wiggins
Gay or British?
Ratcliffe and Wiggins have an interesting master/servant relationship. They both fawn over their overly pampered pug Percy. They bicker. Wiggins spends most of his manic energy trying to please Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe is overly fussy when it comes to appearances and fashion. (Admittedly, he sings about “the ladies of court,” but he seems more concerned with impressing everybody than getting laid.) This pairing has a definite “married couple” vibe, much like the Jumba and Pleakley duo from Lilo and Stitch (one half of which was also voiced by Stiers). It's stereotypical and jarring, but doesn't get a lot of screentime.
And this is their dog, Percy. It’s a pit bull.
Bottom Line:
Does this film deliver on genuine suspense and horror? No. Does it include gay characters of interest and depth? Not exactly. What it does deliver are songs drowning in political correctness and two coded gays that function as comedy relief/plot forwarders.
But the characters do have nice hair.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



As a semi-serious fan of old school Hammer, I thought I'd seen all of their Mummy movies. Never my favorite franchise, but always better than average, the Hammer Mummy films were chock-full of half-naked Egyptians and a fair amount of suspense.

So it came as a complete surprise to me when I saw this movie, and the titular "mummy" ended up being a beautiful devil-woman with a severed hand. Yeah, apparently I'd never seen this one, because that didn't seem familiar at all. And it's a good thing, too, because it would've probably scared me away from the earlier, better films. Case-in-point: within the first five minutes, there's a sandstorm that somehow has the magical ability to slash people's throats. Why not!

Anyway, my viewing experience included a lot of getting up and down and pausing for bathroom breaks. A lot. So I don't feel comfortable writing anything lengthy about this film. I will say, though, that this is not one of Hammer's top-tier efforts. But at least they had enough money for their crawling-artificial-hand budget.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The Polar Express is creepy. Like, waaaay creepy. It's the only movie that has ever been able to make Tom Hanks come across as a dead-eyed homeless pedophile (and I've seen Turner and Hooch). There are so many things wrong with the character design of that movie, and it all boils down to a technology that just wasn't quite ready to create humans.
I won't go on and on about the uncanny valley and whatnot, because those who've seen The Polar Express know what I mean. Everything looks almost normal, but there's just something really really wrong with the motion capture animation, so much so that not even a Hanksian tidal wave of charm can compensate for those dead, dead eyes.
So when Monster House reared it ugly head, complete with Robert Zemeckis as an executive producer and Image Movers as the production studio, I was not at all interested. I love animated movies, traditional and computer, but this wasn't either. It was something else. And I thought it would be ugly.
So years passed and I forgot about this movie. Beowulf came and went. Mars Needs Moms crashed and burned. And then a funny thing happened. I got really into Community, the NBC sitcom that has breathed new life into a dying television network. Community is currently my favorite show on television, and it's created by the inimitable Dan Harmon. The man's a genius, but from all accounts he's not the easiest guy to work with. (He's the only showrunner I've heard of to get kicked off of TWO shows that he co-created. Or something. I try not to follow Twitter nonsense.)
Anyway, Dan Harmon co-wrote Monster House, so that fun tidbit immediately piqued my interest. Would this little cartoon be as witty and meta as Community? Would its script outweight any motion capture creepiness? I had to find out.
So when I sat down to watch this movie, I was all prepared to focus in on the jokes and dialogue and plotting, which, admitted, were all pretty great. (There's a killer uvula joke about halfway through.) Most of the dialogue really lands, and the characters are never less-than-genuine. It's a fun, heartfelt movie.
But what I really took away from this viewing experience is that the animation works! Motion capture works! The characters are all cartoony enough that it doesn't come across as dead-faced robots and Heidi Klums lurching through the film. Like any good cartoon, these characters are like real people, except not. This one movie singlehandedly reignited my faith in motion capture technology.
Not only that, it actually turned me into a fan. I'd never seen so many beautiful, soaring camera angles on a cartoon before. The entire film is kinetic and cinematic and special. It really really soars. I don't know what this movie does differently from something like Beowulf and Polar Express. Maybe it comes down to having characters that don't try to look too human. Maybe it embraces the artificiality of the medium in a way that the others don't. Whatever it is, this is a gorgeous film. Who knew!
And that Chowder character.
That's basically every kid's first best friend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dear Syfy Channel,

We're been through a lot over the years, included an ill-advised name change to make you seem quote-unquote "hip" and "edgy" and "retarded". That's fine. You're well aware that we're in a love-hate relationship.

But I would just like to say that I am very proud of you this summer. Not only did you start the season off right by killing Joey Fatone in Jersey Shore Shark Attack (Why did it take so long for someone to think of that movie!), but you decided to continue the streak by airing Roger Corman-approved masterpieces like Piranhaconda.

You are certainly on a roll, Syfy Channel. Some people might gripe about how self-consciously bad you've gotten, some people might even say that it's not fun to watch something that TRIES to be bad, but you know what... SOME people can suck it. Because you, Syfy Channel, are a good kid.

Thank you for Piranhaconda. Please don't like anyone get you down.

Thanks for the memories,

Friday, June 8, 2012

COUNTDOWN: Hammer Dracula Films

Hammer Studios was pretty effing great. They brought red-blooded lusty, heaving raunch to classic horror stories. Rarely were there any gay characters, but the subtext of a lot of their movies has some bits of pink thrown in. Not only that, they were gory and lascivious... and somehow classy at the same time. I honestly can't describe what these movies meant to me when I was a kid watching them with my dad and older brother.
My fondest memories were probably with the Dracula films, which I saw more than Frankenstein or Mummy. I haven't seen them all (that kung fu one from 1974 holds no interest for me, because it would just make me sad). But I've seen most of them. Here are my top five:
5) The Brides of Dracula
(No Christopher Lee, but the titular brides were a step in the right direction after a significantly less sexy original. Great climax. Windmills are terrifying, and I say this as an avid mini-golfer.)

4) Dracula AD 1972
(It's ironic that the "modern" one is by far the most dated. But in a good way. Sometimes I watch this movie just to stare at the furniture and wall paper.)
3) Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
(Great use of forests. It simultaneously makes me want to visit England and stay as far away as possible.)
2) Taste the Blood of Dracula
(Not the most talkative of Christopher Lee performances, but the film is never dull, and man can Mr. Lee lurk!)
1) Dracula: Prince of Darkness
(Christopher Lee's big return, and the perfect Hammer combination of damsels, splashes of blood, creepy castles, and overacting villagers. If you haven't seen any of these films, start with this one.)

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Okay, folks. First I'd like to get the big Nordic elephant out of the way: Oscar-nominated Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann is basically Chris Colfer's face-twin. It was a little distracting.
Alright. On with the review…
I had never seen an Ingmar Bergman movie before Hour of the Wolf. Everything I knew about Ingmar Bergman I learned from Simpsons references and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. I knew that he was a Scandinavian director who did a bunch of artsy black-and-white movies and that Woody Allen loved him. I also knew, almost without a shadow of a doubt, that his movies were not my style. I pictured long, murky parables about war and death. I pictured beautiful cinematography and absolute boredom. I didn’t picture horror movies. And yet, here I am, writing about an Ingmar Bergman movie in my horror blog.
Hour of the Wolf, from what I could tell, is about a pregnant woman and her older husband who live on an island. The husband is slowly getting crazier and crazier because of his interactions with the island's other residents, a castle full of wack-jobs, including a woman that he fooled around with before knocking up his current wife. This guy is pushed to the edge by the surrounding characters, and his wife is becoming increasingly afraid that she’s starting to share her husband’s psychosis. I’m not going to continue explaining the plot, because it isn’t exactly linear, so let’s instead talk about how I might interpret some of the events of this story.
ONE: The husband is a crazy artist who has retreated to this isolated island to be alone. He lashes out at everyone he meets (including the little boy on the beach) because of some intense distrust of the outside world. He has his pregnant wife to cling to, but when he finally lashes out at her (he shoots her), that’s the final straw and he cracks, disappearing forever into himself.
TWO: None of the characters are real except for the husband and wife. The husband has elaborate delusions about the strange people he meets. Slowly, his wife begins to see them too. When one of these delusions gives him the gun he uses to shoot his wife, then his psychosis has finally crossed into a level where he can no longer be cured. At the end of the movie, his wife talks about a scar that the bullets left on her, thus implying that not only is she now damaged by her husband’s psychosis, but now she’s fully succumbed to it, too.
I could go on discussing about a dozen theories that try to tie together all the loose ends and abrupt moments of violence (and cross-dressing). In fact, that’s probably what Bergman wanted. But I’m of the mindset that reviews aren’t about interpretations, they’re about recommendations. Did I enjoy this movie? Was I intrigued instead of confused? Would I recommend this? I think I’d say yes to all three questions.
This is a difficult movie, one with characters that don’t really behave like real people and situations that don’t quite gel. Intellectually, I’m frustrated. Emotionally, I’m highly pleased. This movie kept me surprised, tense, and weirdly curious. The dinner scene at the castle… the violent outburst with the little kid… the laughing ex-girlfriend corpse lady… these were moments that will probably stick with me for a while. As a whole, I prefer my movies to be a little more straight-forward than this, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating how unsettling everything comes across.
Is this a horror movie? Sure. I have a fairly inclusive definition of horror. Everything from Jaws to Rosemary’s Baby to Silence of the Lambs fits under the umbrella. This is psychological. It’s a lot like 2010’s Antichrist without all that squicky gore. Is it wall-to-wall scary? Nope. But I think this one will linger with me.
I just don’t think it completely works as a narrative film. It’s like watching a hallucination, which is a pretty powerful experience. Sure. But once you realize it’s just a hallucination, it’s hard to really care about what happens.


Moon Is a Dead World
Lerner International
United Provinces of Ivanlandia
The Lightning Bug’s Lair

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Deadly Blessing
Directed by Wes Craven
You thought Amish people were bad. (Wait. Did you?) Just wait till you meet the Hittites, these crazy farmers that get caught up in a slow-moving horror mystery involving tractors, snakes, and someone dropping a live tarantula into Sharon Stone's mouth.
A poor manchild has been killed.
Why did I watch this movie? Well, it was directly by Wes Craven. And I’m a completist. I was sure it couldn’t be worse than My Soul to Take. But the fact that this is mostly known as the movie where Sharon Stone got a live tarantula in her mouth tells me that it wasn’t exactly one of Craven's top tier movies.
Some PG female nudity. Including a bathtub scene with an overly curious snake. Similar to Nancy’s bathtub scene in the first Nightmare on Elm Street. If Mr. Craven has to rip off other movies, they might as well be his own.
Nothing particularly memorably. Most deaths occur in shadowy barns and whatnot, so there isn’t a lot to see. Apparently, Amish country isn’t very well-lit. Who knew! But that guy from The Hills Have Eyes gets probably the longest death scene. So there’s that.
The reveal of the killer is sudden and kind of dumb, but holy crap does the film have an awesome ending. Think Drag Me to Hell, but completely unearned. Like, if Freddy Krueger showed up at the end of Scream. It makes no damn sense, but it is probably the only thing I will remember about this movie in a month. That and the scene where Sharon Stone gets a tarantula in her mouth. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Ernest Borgnine was born to play a crazy Hittite farmer. Forget his Oscar-winning role in Marty. THIS is his legacy. Aside from him, though, everyone else is pretty much sleeping through this film, especially Martha, the main girl, who goes from constipated to dizzy without ever registering terror. All-in-all, a forgetting slog of a film, even for its short run-time, but be sure to stay for that cuckoo-bananas ending. You will not regret it.