Friday, October 25, 2013

Music Review - Sam Haynes - Welcome to the Horror Show

I think one of the best perks about having this blog is that I occasionally get contacted out of the blue to do reviews of products - music, movies, etc - that appeal to my horror geek nature.

Granted, I sometimes also get contacted by knuckleheads who have NO clue what this blog is about; but those aberrations are worth the hassle of discovering new, exciting horror stuff.


In fact, about two weeks ago, I received an email from a musician across the pond in England, asking if I'd review his album of horror themed electronic/dance music. Now being an old school goth, who also dabbled in the club scene and did the whole gamut of raves/EBM/dance music in another life - I was more than happy to give it a listen. I should add that - with it being October - I was especially excited to listen to it because Sam Haynes (the musician) said that it was "Inspired by 70s and 80s horror themes but with a new dark sound."

70's and 80's horror themes?!? Those are sexy words right there!

So I downloaded a copy. After listening to it more times than I can count,  I can say that this album is absolutely, undeniably incredible!

On my first cursory listen, I was two songs in when I fell in love with it. The song that did it? The second track, 'Ghost House'. Imagine a John Carpenter theme - the plunking, synthesized perfection of a John Carpenter theme - that morphs and skews into a dark, melodic EBM dance beat. I know, right? Sounds fucking awesome, doesn't it? I can assure you it is.

Here, give it a listen...

My first thought, when I saw the initial email about horror dance music was that it was probably pretty hard to pull off without sounding really, really cheesy. I can say, without hesitation, that Sam Haynes is a crazy talented artist who has made a CD that is nothing short of amazing.

All of the tracks are perfect examples of Halloween music, but music that one could listen to all year round if they were a weird, sad, horror nerd like myself who loves this kind of shit.

Describing the style and influence as being inspired from the 70's and 80's could not be more accurate. There's traces of John Carpenter, the dark and ponderous excesses of an Italian Bava or Fulci score, the unstoppable stalking of serial killers in weird masks, the sexy seduction of vampires, the guttural moans of the undead, and the delightfully electronic nuances of Goblin. This music would not be out of place in a haunted attraction, or on the score of a good, quality horror film. In fact, I've been alternating between this and Midnight Syndicate - non-stop - for the last several weeks.

As we are sitting here, on the doorstep of Halloween, and as the leaves fall like brightly painted corpses from the trees to scatter about ghostlike in the chill Autumn wind; this CD makes the perfect soundtrack.

There are so many wonderful touches here and there. From the aforementioned Ghost House, to the 4th track 'Zombie'; which mixes the newscast audio from Romero's Diary of the Dead with driving EBM beats. The track '31-13' is a chilling mix of The Haunted Mansion and the creepy tones of a funeral home organ. The track 'Halloween' has a playful quality reminiscent of the background music on the Plants Vs. Zombies game, but also captures the feel of a Goblin track. 'Endless Night' is a personal favorite and I dare you to not get out of your chair and pogo around the room when listening to it! In fact, every gorram  track is eminently listenable, and every track is a spooky insight into the heart of a fellow horror and Halloween fan.

I've said it many, many times on the blog... I love to meet and promote other artists through my small corner of the blogosphere here at the Midnight Theater of Terror. This is one of those times. Sam Haynes is one of us, dear undead readers. This is someone with an incredibly talented ear for classic horror movies and a love for the dark. That Sam Haynes has so easily melded the unique sounds of Halloween and horror with ridiculously awesome electronic music is amazing.

While emailing with Sam, he had this to say when I gushed to him about how incredible the CD was, "I wanted to do something a little different to the usual music I hear for halloween. It's part orchestral and part dance music." 

I'd say you did it, Sam. You did it admirably! 

And - because Sam is so kick-ass - he's also added, "I can offer your readers a 20% off discount code for the bandcamp store if you want it all they need to do is enter the code - Halloween - at the checkout stage at this

So, I guess it's Happy Halloween to you, dear readers - from Doctor Zombie and Sam Haynes! 

Please take some time to download Sam Haynes' CD. 

You will not regret it! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Midnight Syndicate Live!

Dear readers, please make sure you take some time to run by Kickstarter and check out the project that my close friends in Midnight Syndicate are working on.

They're trying to fund a live multimedia event that showcases their particular brand of awesome.

I rarely promote Kickstarters, although I get quite a few requests to do so. In fact, I can think of only three... but this is a kick ass cause and I think it's well worth a visit.

Check it out, show some love, and sign up to support a really groovy, kooky, spooky live multimedia event!

Click here to see their Kickstarter page, and check out the video of their plans!


Monday, October 07, 2013

Horrific Road Trip - A Nightmare on Elm Street

A little quick addendum to my update from the other day. While in LA, I got to visit one other horror filming site and took a couple quick pictures.

So -- if you find yourself  in North Hollywood, you can start on North Orange Grove at the filming site  of the Wallace and Doyle house (from Carpenter's Halloween), go one block over, and two blocks south (crossing over Hollywood and Sunset) to North Genesee Avenue.

There, amidst the quiet tree lined neighborhoods of close, but beautifully maintained homes, you'll find yet another house of horror.

That's right, my lovely undead zombie minions... there you'll find the Thompson house from Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Nightmare on Elm Street was such a great horror movie. If Halloween kickstarted the serial killer/slasher genre of horror films, A Nightmare on Elm Street and its red and green sweater-wearing fiend - Freddy Krueger - reimagined it. It was part supernatural horror, part serial killer, and all grotesque horror.

I first saw it in high school at a girlfriend's house. We watched it in the dark and I remember the geekish thrill I got when Wes Craven's terrifying tale unfolded on the screen before me. Even in high school, I was a jaded horror film veteran. It had been a long, long time since I'd seen a truly scary movie that made me jump and make my skin dimple with goosebumps. Nightmare did that.

It remains a classic even today.

Sadly, much like Michael Meyers, Freddy became a gross parody of himself as the endless sequels dragged on - and the Nightmare series is remembered mostly for the almost vaudevillian slapstick and one liners of the later efforts. However, one should always remember how truly scary and dark the original was.

It was only natural that I should seek out this North Hollywood home, so I added it to my list.

I actually stopped there first thing as it was on my way back from the airport, and I snapped a few quick pictures.

I should note that, a few months back, the house was on the market. I saw that it was for sale on one horror site or another and, of course, sent Mrs. Zombie an email begging to buy it and move to LA. I still live in Ohio, so you can see how that argument turned out.

Anyway, it's been obviously purchased recently as there was a 20 yard dumpster in the side yard and workers going in and out and renovating it.

It still maintains most of the features from 1984 when Johnny Depp and Heather Langenkamp fought the smarmy evilness of Freddy Krueger - everybody's favorite knife-gloved dream killer!

Check it out...

As it appeared in the original film...

And how it looks today...

The door's been replaced. 

Of course, if I was the owners, I'd probably replace the door as well. Especially after how horrible the ending of Nightmare was - when Freddy dragged Nancy's mom through its tiny window headfirst? That scene, and the horrible effect, marred what was in every other respect a brilliant horror film. 

One two, Freddy's coming for you...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Horrific Road Trip - John Carpenter's Halloween

Welcome faithful reader. I don't mean to boast, but I just came back from a kick-ass work trip 

I was given the opportunity to travel to LA for a commercial shoot. if being on a real LA set wasn't cool enough, I stayed right in Hollywood within walking distance of Hollywood and Vine. I could see the Hollywood sign from my window and - on my morning jog - I ran down the Walk of Stars. I also sat in on a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and saw all the sights that are normal for a tourist in Hollyweird, Karloffornia - as old Forrie Ackerman used to call it. 

However, I am a bit of a whore when it comes to business trips and I always make some time to see the sights before I finish. On the company dime, as it were. 

So, when I was done with my work responsibilities, and before I flew home, I did what any respectable horror geek would have done. I made a pilgrimage to South Pasadena - the heart of John Carpenter's Halloween! 

Carpenter's Halloween, as I've said many times before, is the PERFECT horror film. With the thousands of horror films Doctor Zombie's ingested over the years, Halloween remains my favorite horror film.

So, it was only natural that I would want to follow in the steps of that timeless, immortal, unstoppable fiend -- Michael Meyers! 

As I've done before with my Horrific Road Trip Series, I'll alternate screen grabs of the film with my own photos. 

BTW - This is going to be a pretty lengthy post. Sorry about that. Hang on to the end... it'll be totally worth it, I promise... 


I started my quest for The Shape in the Shatner mask in Hollywood itself as the homes where Annie Brackett and Laurie Strode are babysitting - and where the lions share of mayhem takes place - was actually in Hollywood. 

On North Orange Ave, off of Sunset, are gorgeous houses with well manicured lawns. The homes where the girls babysit can be found there. 

As I rolled down the crazy busy streets, listening to the dulcet tones of Gwyneth - the British voice of my GPS - the first of the filming sites hove into view. I squealed with geekish delight as I saw the distinct two story where Laurie babysat Tommy Doyle and where Loomis shot Michael. 

Here's a shot from the movie...

And here's how it stands today...

And there, across the street... it's the Wallace house! 

There's a pretty big difference between how it looked in 1978 and today. Sometime in the last 35 years, the house has had a huge addition added on as well as a garage. Check it out.

On the ladder in the first shot are the current owners. I spoke to them briefly and asked if I could take photos of their lovely home. They were really nice and accommodating and the lady, a pretty woman with an English accent much nicer than Gwyneth's, said it was amazing all the attention their home received. In fact, she said, tour busses were constantly driving by. I commented on how awesome their Halloween decorations were. You can see them in the second photo. All in all, they were really great about a weird, fat, horror nerd showing up on their driveway in an Eric Pigors t-shirt. 

After that pleasant exchange, I got back into my rental car (a brand new Dodge Challenger!!!) and left the craziness of Hollywood and its incomprehensible traffic for the 101 and the 20 minute or so trip out to South Pasadena. 

South Pasadena is a gorgeous little suburb of LA that John Carpenter chose as the setting of his quiet, Illinois town of Haddonfield. 

After the incredible opening scene of a young Michael Meyers killing his slutty sister, the camera settles on a quiet neighborhood. The opening scene establishes the small Midwestern hometown of our killer and his victims, and South Pasadena is the perfect Californian amalgamation of this. 

In fact, South Pasadena actually reminded me very much of my own hometown - Willoughby Ohio. It had gorgeous, well maintained craftsman homes, a quaint downtown area, and even a pumpkin patch...

Anyway, here's Carpenter's establishing shot...

And here's how it looks today, with Doctor Zombie! Muwahaha! 

Cool, huh?!?

From here, it was only a short hop to another of the iconic scenes from the movie. As Annie and Laurie walk home from school, Michael plays peek-a-boo with Laurie behind a distinctive looking hedgerow. It only took a little bit of searching to find it about 5 or 6 houses down from the intersection in the opening shot above. 

And here's how it looks today... wait, what's that behind the hedge?!? Oh, it's just Doctor Zombie! Whew...

In the movie, Annie investigates and finds nothing. She calls Laurie over mockingly, and shows her there's nothing there... 

Or is there?

By the way, if you watch the movie, during this scene, you can see smoke drifting into frame from the left - the other side of the bush. That's cigarette smoke from Carpenter, who was standing just outside of frame! 

Two doors down, we find Annie's house. Annie goes in, and Laurie runs into Sheriff Brackett, who laughs, telling here 'It's Halloween. Everyone's entitled to one good scare!' You'll notice the distinct lattice on the facing of the porch...

It's changed little in 35 years...

After this successful shooting site stalking... it was on to more sites in South Pasadena. 

Next, I made my way downtown. If you'll remember, on their way to the babysitting jobs, Laurie and Annie drive through town and run into Sheriff Brackett again. The local hardware store had been broken into by The Shape, where he stole 'some masks, some rope, and a few knives'. The Hardware store then... 

And today it's a string of shops and restaurants.

In that very same scene, after the girls leave, Dr. Loomis arrives to speak to the sheriff. Behind him, Michael slowly drives over the railroad tracks in the town square and away after the girls....

Today, the square is much more developed, but the commuter trains into LA remain...

Oddly, there was a jaunty sort of statue in the square now. It doesn't look anything like Michael Meyers. I think the residents of South Pasadena are negligent in their disregard for their most famous resident! I suppose if one squints, the statue might look like Michael. That's how I'm going to look at it. I mean Detroit is getting a Robocop statue... Haddonfield should have a fucking Michael Meyers statue. Amiright?!?

After ruminating on the travesty and injustice of no Michael Meyers statue, it was time for the piece de resistance! The ultimate in horror geekdom. Much like my visit to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre House... it was time to visit the Michael Meyers house! 

The actual house was moved from its former residence to the downtown area and completely remodeled. It was saved from destruction... which makes up in a small way for no Shape statue. Across the street - seriously, RIGHT across the street  - from the Hardware store, sits the Meyers house. 

Originally, it looked like this...

And today this house of horror, this den of grotesquerie, this abattoir of death... is an insurance agency.

Apparently, I'm not the first horror geek to make this particular pilgrimage... and I'm thinking some other people have ruined it for the rest of us. 

So, after much geekiness and the posting of a selfie of myself in front of the house to Facebook, it was on to other scenes! 

Which brings us to another iconic scene. Early in the film, the girls walk home from school and have their first run in with old Michael.  I tracked down the scene next...

As they leave school, they walk past a distinct brick wall. Soon after, Michael comes around the corner in his stolen station wagon... 

And today... 

And look, it's Dr. Z just wandering along in the footsteps of Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, and the heavenly, still sexy Nancy Keyes.

The girls cross the street, and The Shape cruises slowly around the same corner... where Annie yells at him. He jams on the brakes... ominously.

And my humble attempts to recreate the shots...

Awesome, right? (I added the first shot of mine above to mostly show off my kick ass rental car. A Dodge Challenger, in LA, is balls!!! ) As you can see, there's quite a bit of construction behind the wall, and the pachysandra is mostly gone. It looks like they recently redid the sewers on the street and tore them out, sadly. 

Finally, I wandered over to the Strode house. 

There were several scenes with Laura and her own home spread throughout the movie. Nowadays, across the street, is the South Pasadena library.  It was weird really - there were high school students going in and out, moms with baby carriages and picnics on the lawn, and this iconic house of horror across the way! 

I've a few shots of it...





I don't know... if I was living in Laurie Strode's house, I'm not sure I'd tempt fate by having Halloween accoutrements so brazenly displayed. Would you?!?

So, having spent a thoroughly enjoyable day walking in the steps of the greatest slasher killer of all time, I got back into my Challenger and headed for LAX for my return to the Autumn-gripped, October  coolth of Northern Ohio. It was the first day of October, and I feel I did a great job of living up to the awesomeness of what is - to Doctor Zombie - the best month of the year. As Halloween approaches, I relived the movie that helped redefine horror movies and spawned an entire new horror genre. 

It was a good trip before that, considering why I was out there in the first place. To visit the scenes of cinema history was an added bonus that only a ghoul like myself could appreciate. 

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

By the way, here's the real reason I went out there in the first place. I was out for my work at Evil Corporate world. That's why I was on set and met this really great, funny, smart actress - who is not at ALL involved in horror films. 

Look at Dr. Z - hanging with a celebrity! 

Until next time, my dear, undead minions!