December 31, 2012

My Bloody New Year's Resolutions

1. Give up smoking (again).

2. Give up drinking gin (ever again).

3. Listen to more music.

4. Troll more people on YouTube. They deserve it for being monetised when I'm not.

5. Exercise at some point (maybe in June).

6. Drink fewer Monsters. Three a day is more than enough.

7. Watch and review more old films (even though I've already seen them).

8. Pay more attention to Suzi (who now thinks her name is "SHUT UP!").

9. Eat better food than Ramen noodles or the pizza from the 7/11.

10. Take my 3000 or more Monster cans back to Target for recycling and collect the 5c refund on each can.

December 30, 2012

I'm not very good at making model kits

After a day of trying to fold the little fiddly tabs on this awful thing together only to have them snap off along with bigger chunks of fatigued metal, behold the Empire State Building in all of its three inch tall glory!

It was like folding up a razor blade. There was blood everywhere and I'm cut to ribbons. I got so frustrated with it that I threw it in the bin once, but as you can see, I fished it back out again and was able to repair it with some carefully applied sticky tape.

The "Metal Works Empire State Building 3D Laser Cut Model" was a dismal failure. It didn't even come with a King Kong figure!

I never want to get anything like this as a present ever again!

December 29, 2012

My Top Five Worst YouTubers of 2012

One very obvious thing which I've noticed about YouTube is that 95% of the people making videos on there shouldn't be. A lot of YouTubers can barely form coherent sentences or just repeat themselves until they become boring while others alternate between being banal and self-deprecating so much that it makes you wonder if they have some kind of mental illness. You only have to look at the comments section under most YouTube videos to realise that the fanboys of the more popular channels aren't much better. Too many little kids are trolling the site, but worse than that, it's like the very worst people from Reddit and 4chan have taken it over.

YouTube has become so awful recently that I don't really like to go on there to grab trailers for my reviews if I can possibly avoid it. If things continue the way they are, I can't see the site lasting more than another couple of years before something better comes along. The sheer amount of cyberbullying which goes on will eventually force Google to lock the vile little kids out of YouTube completely. I'll never understand why they still allow 10-year-olds to make accounts or why parents let their kids watch the crap on there except that, in the first instance, more traffic means more ad revenue. The AdSense scam whereby people aren't getting paid for monetising their videos has also caused a lot of former YouTubers to give up anyway. The bottom line is that it's all about money, and YouTube isn't a very friendly place.

I could be mean and pick out the "worst five" horrible YouTubers who don't have many subscribers, but the subscribers number is only a reflection of the way YouTube manufactured and promoted its own celebrities. Just like the days of Tila Tequila and Forbidden on MySpace, a lot of it is about who got on there first. Subscriber numbers can consist of thousands of dead accounts, and they are certainly no indication of talent.

Instead, I've chosen the people who've been making videos for quite a while and, in my opinion, should know better. Have a look at this lot, and let the horror begin!

1. MissHannahMinx

There are only two reasons why any of her 435,720 subscribers watch Miss Hannah Minx, and you don't have to be a genius to see what they are. I will give her credit for providing the over-cutesy tease which the unwashed, pre-pubescent masses lap up, but the content of her videos is so devoid of anything satisfying that I can't make it though even one of them. She's a kind of joke character like Elvira except not funny and not entertaining. Unless you are desperate to see cleavage then I don't understand the attraction because, should you ever have a girlfriend who behaves like Miss Hannah Minx in real life, I can guarantee that it won't be a bed of roses at all. Mercifully, she's barely made any new videos this year.

2. Zoella

What is this insipid crap? Apparently, it's a serious attempt at recreating the blandness of morning TV in Britain. Yes, serious! It's not even a parody! This also has 413,509 subscribers!!! Ugh! What is wrong with people? If you view this, make sure you have your AdBlock enabled, because mediocrity doesn't deserve any financial reward. I couldn't even make it through 2 minutes of one of the videos on this channel without wanting to vomit.

3. PossessedbyHorror

If you think I'm being mean to someone with only 2,387 subscribers, think again. Sarah Hawkinson has 352 uploaded videos and 38,914 subscribers on her main channel which puts her in the same league as Coolduder (below). She's in this for the money, has no real interest in horror movies, comes across as scared of her own shadow, and is clearly a bag of nerves. It's hard to hate someone you don't know, but I challenge you to get through one of her attention deficit "reviews" without wanting to shake some sense into her. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so vain, self-centred, or as thick as two short planks about a subject since iJustine. On the plus side, she's a cat lover.

4. Coolduder

According to his stats, Shawn C. Phillips has made over 1,232 videos on his channel and has 38,481 subscribers. That doesn't make him a very big player except physically and, in fairness, he hasn't changed his style since he joined YouTube in 2006, but his movie reviews suck! Not only does he like almost everything indiscriminately, he doesn't so much review as just retell the plot of every movie in his own words. "Coolduder" must be conscious of what he's doing because he's a making a damned good living out of YouTube and getting lots of DVDs for free, so why would he bother to do it properly? Shawn, you are a very tragic man.

5. TheReplyGirl

Thankfully, the age of the "reply girls" including Alejandra (above) is now over, but it became a huge problem in 2012. Basically, several girls with monetised accounts (some of which, unfortunately, still exist but aren't being watched) started making 10 or 15 second replies (or whatever the very minimum length of a video could be) to anyone who was getting featured on YouTube's front page so that they could make money off the same audience. They used the same tags and the same titles in their own videos just so that they would feature on the front page right next to their target. Cleavage and misleading thumbnails almost guaranteed that little boys would click on them. It was ingenious in some ways, but so annoying and devoid of content that YouTube removed the monetisation and ended the problem after many complaints. If only YouTube would remove the monetisation from every account on YouTube, it would be a much better site.

Runner-up: Ramboraph4life

Matt has almost as many uploaded videos as he does subscribers, and that's a bad thing for someone who has only had this particular account for 2 years. Seriously, 1425 uploads in two years!!! It's insane. Most of his movie reviews are barely watchable due to Matt's pained expressions, whining voice, spitting, expletive-laden rants, and the repetition of the same points over and over again. Even at 15 minutes long, each video is a chore to get through. On the plus side, Matt does actually watch all the movies himself and occasionally comes up with some valid (although second-hand/acquired) criticism. For someone who has made the number of videos which he has, you'd think he would have learned from his mistakes by now. The video above is actually one of his better attempts.

So there you have my worst YouTubers of 2012. Who are yours? Also, would you be interested if I was to review individual YouTube videos on this blog in the future?

December 28, 2012

My Top Five Best YouTubers of 2012

With everyone else doing their end of year horror movie lists right now, I've chosen to compile something a little bit different for you.

I've already posted my "year in review" back in November, and since I haven't been watching a lot of horror movies recently anyway, I've just been surfing the monetised cesspit of YouTube for entertainment. I started off with the horror channels, of course, but then clicked on links which took me further away until the content started to be more refreshing than simply watching yet another fat guy with a neckbeard flashing his latest batch of DVDs at the camera and telling their stories in his own words. I found a couple of girls doing that too, and they also weren't up to much.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the YouTubers who I've enjoyed the most over the last 12 months. Check them all out and you might find something to interest you too.

1. Moymoypalaboy

I don't really know a lot about these guys other than they come from the Philippines and lip-sync to popular songs. They also have their own band and have become TV celebrities in their own country. Usually, it's just the two brothers in the videos, but they are sometimes joined by special guests and lots of pretty girls. Their comical expressions make these videos a good "pick me up" for when you're feeling a bit down. It's a pity that they don't make as many videos as they used to, but YouTube removes a lot of them because of copyright issues with the music.

2. Gimmeaflakeman

There's so much to this channel that it's hard to know how to describe it. Basically, Victor is a 40-something American ex-pat who owns his own English language school in Japan. He vlogs, gives Japanese language lessons, and many insights into Japanese culture in his own very entertaining and informative manner. If you don't follow J-vloggers because they are all annoying weeaboos, this man may change your opinion. He's kind of like the teacher that you wish you'd had.

3. Ashens

You could be mistaken for thinking these videos were just some snarky English guy opening cheap crap from Poundland on his sofa, but you'd also be right. Occasionally, Ashens really annoys me (not least because he's monetised to the hilt), but at other times, he's hilarious. When he reviews older electronics, it makes you wonder why they even existed and who was silly enough to buy them.

4. Maxmoefoe

There's a lot to this guy's channel including prank calls, crap he gets sent to him through the mail, computer games, and his bizarre collection of Pokemon cards. His swearing will appal most Americans, but it's nothing compared to the reality of living in Britain or Australia. For a young Aussie guy, he's pretty funny and seems genuinely good-natured underneath his trolling persona.

5. TheArchfiend

If you hate all the attention-seeking and money-grubbing "whores" on YouTube, nobody can put those feelings into words better than "The Archfiend". He's been around for as long as YouTube has been popular, but isn't nearly as famous as he should be for someone with such great rhetorical skills. There are no jump cuts, his monologues are straight to the point and rational, but sometimes he can be just a little bit too "American" for his own good (which can alienate his audience). He's a pretty decent guy underneath the act, and his various skits/parodies and rants on news items will give anyone with a brain a reason to like him.

Runner up: Mugumogu

Simply the best cat videos on YouTube. Maru is a cat whose antics and love of cardboard boxes are filmed by his Japanese owner for the pleasure of other cat lovers everywhere.

Tomorrow, I'll post my "Top Five Worst YouTubers of 2012".

December 27, 2012

I won something!

I have no idea what "Infinite Santa 8000" is about other than being a "webisode" cartoon thingy, but I just won Lovely Zena's Giveaway over at "Real Queen of Horror". If you want all the gory details, check out her blog.

I would retype all the information about "Infinite Santa 8000" for you, but I'm too busy fighting with morons on YouTube and Reddit right now (so many morons, so little time!) plus I'll then have to watch the series online which will spoil the DVDs experience. You can watch it for free on the "Infinite Santa 8000" YouTube channel.

As you know, I'm not a huge fan of animation although my cats, Willow and Suzi, love it especially the more brightly coloured and fast-moving shows. Only the other day, Suzi was enthusing over the amazing artwork of "Tom and Jerry". Well, I think that's what she was talking about. She may have just been announcing her latest successful peeing mission to Willow's futon. I don't really listen to a lot of what Suzi says because she says too damned much of it.

Anyway, this is something great for me in lots of ways because I never win anything. I could be the only person to enter a giveaway, and I'd still not win! I'm not lucky like that. It's why I don't gamble or do the lottery. That and because I'm too cheap to buy a ticket.

So with another "snow day" outside, the cats are excited (actually sleeping now but they were excited once) and looking forward to their latest gift. There's only so many times they can be forced to watch "Spirited Away" unattended. Little furry paws tend to switch it off and get into other mischief around here.

December 25, 2012

Christmas is over for another year!

That's it then. All the running around and overspending just for a drunken anticlimax is over for another year.

I did okay out of it. As usual, I've made a "collage" type of thing to show you what I got rather than photograph anything. I don't have any batteries that work in my camera because I needed them for my new "Felix" clock. Yeah, I didn't think it through.

Not the best Christmas haul ever, but I didn't really want anything from the stores. What's the point when I can buy stuff any time I want to? Commercially, Christmas isn't special anymore.

I managed to get horribly drunk on gin and had to spend most of Christmas Day in bed because of it, but that's getting older for you. I didn't even watch a Bond film so it's a good job that I saw "Skyfall" (which sucked) a couple of days ago.

I was fed copiously although not in the manner to which I've become accustomed. No turkey, no sage, onion and sausage-meat stuffing, no roast potatoes... but who knows what tomorrow may bring? I've got a feeling that Boxing Day will be a bit better.

What I actually want can't be shown in pictures anyway. It's not philosophical or anything highbrow and abstract like that, I just don't want to be sued.

So what did you get?

December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I hope Santa brings you every horror DVD multipack from Target that you've wanted all year!

If you're going out partying tonight, don't drink and drive unless you want to end up looking like a gremlin.

Happy Christmas!

December 21, 2012

I finally made it through "Tomb of Terrors"!

For the last two months, I've been watching one of these awful movies every day for my other blog - The Pit of the Pendulum - and I'm now pleased to say that I've finished the first box. Just in time for the world ending too! Yeah, like that's really going to happen.

It wasn't the first time that I've watched these movies as I skimmed through them when I first bought "Tomb of Terrors" back in 2008. A lot of the movies were also shown by Zone Horror in the UK before I moved so I've unfavourably reviewed a couple of them before.

I thought that, given a few years, some of these movies might improve a bit, but I was wrong. As entertaining as they are due to their ineptness, they are all amateur drivel which you have to have something mentally wrong with you to prefer over real mainstream horror. I gave each one a fair chance and tried to be objective, but a bad movie will always be a bad movie even when you are looking for something positive to say about it to redress the balance.

Some of the standouts which are sort of okay are the comedies. For a horror pack, "Tomb of Terrors" has an abundance of comedies with no less than 14 actual comedies and several more which qualify unintentionally. The best of these is "So Mort It Be" (2004) although "Reanimator Academy" (2002) also tickled me. I'm not a big fan of comedy except for "Laurel and Hardy" anyway since I have no sense of humour.

There are also a lot of "crime" movies in the pack which don't contain any horror whatsoever. The ratio isn't as bad as Mill Creek's "250 Horror Movies" pack which has less than 100 horror movies in it once you ignore all the sci-fi, sword and sandals, and ancient serial plays, but it's still annoying even for the original $5. Now that "Tomb of Terrors" costs over $30 in some places, it's really not worth the money if you are a horror fan.

Out of the "real" horror movies, the best ones (in order) are "Siege of Evil" (2005), "Soul of the Demon" (1991), "The Traveler" (2005), and "Inexchange" (2003). The final one barely qualifies, but it's quite a struggle to find any that do.

For those with slightly less discernment and a lot of patience, "Abberdine County Conjuror" (2005), "Massacre" (2002), "Strange Things Happen at Sundown" (2003), "The Vulture's Eye" (2004), and even "Gorno" (2003) aren't entirely awful for no-budget nasties, but they're still pretty bad.

There's no innovation or originality in this pack so "indie horror" fanatics can suck those stupid claims right up. Most of these movies borrow the formulas from more famous movies and then completely wreck everything by not having the talent to do anything with them. Homages and blatant rip-offs abound.

Some to just skip straight over are "Flesh Eating Ghouls from Outer Space" (2004), "Kill Them and Eat Them" (2004), "The Lunar Pack" (2004), "Nightmare Museum" (2006), and "The Woodland Haunting 2" (2005) unless you really like infantile YouTube videos.

As for the rest of the titles, it's all down to how many "pretty" girls you want to fast forward to see. In some cases, checking out the insides of other people's houses which are on show is even more fun than looking for "girl next door" types. Bear in mind that sub-porn movie acting and very softcore porn scenes abound depending on what you allow yourself to be sucked into.

I don't recommend "Tomb of Terrors" unless you can get it for the bargain price that I did. Even then, I still don't really recommend it.

December 19, 2012

The Collection (2012)

"A man who escapes from the vicious grips of the serial killer known as The Collector is blackmailed to rescue an innocent girl from the killer's booby-trapped warehouse."

If you can survive the migraine-inducing, pop video-style opening credits or you're a teenager, you might enjoy the latest "Aliens" remake known as "The Collection". Okay, so there are no aliens in it, but for those of us who are a bit older, it's exactly the same story as "Aliens" (1986) give or take a lot more gore and torture.

I'll be honest, I didn't like "The Collector" (2009) apart from the alternative ending. I much prefer the 1965 cat friendlier version. Arkin isn't a character that I can relate to, and to be blunt, "The Collector" is too far-fetched, has no tension, it looks cheap, and it bores me to tears.

So why did I watch "The Collection"? Well, I suppose I had to since it's the last horror movie of the year with a worldwide theatrical release. I still didn't really want to review it, but I needed to justify my reasons for hating it as much as all the other grumpies.

Here we go again!

Let's begin with the completely alienating characters. No, they're still not aliens, but they might as well be. What do I have in common with teenage nightclubbers or rich people? Since at least 1994, nothing. 1994 was the last time I set a foot inside a nightclub, and even then I only had one pint of beer before I left. I can't remember the music that was playing, but it was loud enough to make my ears ring for the next four hours so I decided to call it a day. As for rich people, yeah, I wish. I certainly don't have anything in common with Newt, I mean Arkin (Josh Stewart), either.

I love torture movies or "torture porn" (if you want to call them that) so I will admit that the giant lawnmower shenanigans in the nightclub are kind of cool. Of course, it's all as ridiculous as any of the traps in "The Collector" or the "Saw" movies so take any praise I give with a huge pinch of salt.

The other torture scenes in "The Collection" are more about the aftermath than really seeing anything so it's a huge bait and switch for the most part. A tongue gets pulled out and there are a couple of scary spiders in the first half hour, but that's it until the Space Commandos, I mean "small private army" on a rescue mission, are led into The Collector's lair by Arkin. In formulaic slasher style, the barely-defined cannon fodder start getting picked off one by one in various unpleasant ways by old Gimp-face and his drugged-up or booby-trapped victims.

The next 20 minutes up the ante with some decent impalements, but there's still nobody to care about or anything that you haven't seen before. Like I said, there isn't that much to see anyway, just a lot of screaming to make up for it. Our kidnapped heroine, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) befriends an instantly predictable blonde nutjob who you know is going to be trouble, and the grunts all look worried or intense as they manage to get themselves decimated. Surprisingly spry for someone just out of hospital, Arkin decides to ditch the grunts in favour of whatever his own agenda may be.

At around 50 minutes in (I know because I was timing it), some tension is generated as the remaining cast members locate and rescue the pretty member of the Space Commandos before she's cut to pieces by a net full of razorblades. It's easily the best part of the movie, but it's too little and far too late.

The resulting scene is just an excuse for the poetically-justified demise of the kooky blonde, more animal cruelty (but who cares because it's only dogs this time anyway), and the loss of the reason why they all went into the hotel for all of a minute. On the bright side, thanks to Arkin being clever, a S.W.A.T. team shows up but does nothing except call the fire department! Boring, boring, boring!

Lock her in a cage until her hair grows!

The final minutes contain some of the most ludicrous things I've ever seen in a horror/action movie. After escaping from a cage by having his already broken arm rebroken, Arkin then has it reset and heals in a way that Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises" would be proud of. As if there wasn't enough lack of realism in "The Collection" in the first place!

The climax is then like something out of a console game with The Collector (Randall Archer) very much as the "final boss". There's a "surprise" self-sacrifice by the lead Space Commando, the female Space Commando (who just happens to be black!) has been on borrowed time anyway so she's out, and the now seemingly superhuman Arkin metamorphoses into Ripley to beat the crap out of The Collector without even the need of a yellow space forklift! All that's missing is the famous "Get away from her, you bitch!" line.

In its favour, "The Collection" isn't bad looking (it looks better than the "Saw" movies anyway), and Elena is far from being the most annoying or useless heroine in a horror/action movie. She doesn't do a lot until the end, but what she does is important even if the result of her actions in saving Arkin allow The Collector to escape his fiery death too. Talk about unsatisfying!

But wait, there's more! Not content with one ending which promises a sequel, there are actually two! Worse than that, there's a small loophole in the epilogue which might mean that Arkin has the wrong man! It's doubtful, but now there'll probably be a second sequel, a third, and God knows how many more every year to replace the "Saw" franchise. Oh, no, that's all we need!

I don't know about you, but I can barely wait for the next installment set in a prison full of English skinheads.

December 18, 2012

Horror Christmas Presents for Paupers - Part 4

Does the horror fan in your life love monsters? Does he or she also love Monsters or any other energy drink? In that case, recycling some old energy drink cans could make a perfect Christmas present and will allow you to play the part of Baron Frankenstein for a few minutes without spending any money at all.

In fact, when you take these cans back for the deposit refund, you can even make money from doing this! It's a win-win situation!

Make Your Own Monster

Absolutely terrifying, isn't it?

You will need:

1. Old energy drink cans. Monsters, of course, are best for this, but any will do.
2. Glue or sticky tape.


Assemble the cans into a monster figure roughly the same as the one in the photo above. This one needs 18 cans. You can use glue or sticky tape to do it.

Note: I didn't actually glue these cans together owing to lack of time so please ignore the ruler.

Option 1

If you are very rich, present your horror fan with full cans in this arrangement.

Option 2

Draw a monster face on a piece of paper and stick it on the top cans to make your monster more realistic. If you can't draw, just download and print one out. It doesn't have to be the Frankenstein monster unless you want to be a purist.


Do not attempt to do this with parts of dead bodies. They may be free, but the results will be unpredictable. Plus, if you get caught, you will end up in Federal ass-pounding jail forever!

Horror Christmas Presents for Paupers - Part 3

Horror fans love autographs. Some of them travel half-way across the country to conventions just for the privilege of standing in line for hours on end so that they can pay $25 for an illegible scribble from someone they don't even know.

If you've missed all the horror conventions and have no money anyway, you can surprise everyone with the following gift for only a couple of dollars.

Non-fake Personalised Non-celebrity Autographs

Not signed by Alyson Hannigan obviously.

You will need:

1. A computer.
2. The internet.
3, An inkjet printer.
4. Photo quality paper.
5. A telephone directory.
6. A marker pen.
7. A picture frame (optional).

Step 1

Download a picture of your (or your horror fan's) favourite celebrity.

Step 2

Print out the picture on photograph quality paper.

Step 3

Look through the phone book for someone with the same name as the celebrity whose photograph you have printed out. Write down his or her address.

Note: You can save a lot of time if you already know someone who shares the same name as a celebrity. Just the first name will do in most cases.

Step 4

Go to the person's house, knock on the door or ring the bell, tell them what you are doing, and politely ask them if they will sign your photograph. If you are really nice, they will probably personalise it for you too, thus devaluing it as much as a "real" celebrity autograph.

Step 5

Frame the now autographed photograph, and wrap it up in pretty Christmas paper for your horror fan. Once it's up on his bedroom wall, he will never know the difference nor will anyone else who even cares. Nobody will ever see it anyway.

December 17, 2012

Horror Christmas Presents for Paupers - Part 2

Every horror fan loves to get movies for Christmas, but you know how it is. Either they've already seen it or it's now on Blu-ray and costs twenty times that of the DVD version. So what can you do?

It's simple.

Make Your Own Horror Movie

Unfortunately, this would involve spending far too much money on a $20 Jazz cam from Wal-mart and, although it wouldn't take you any longer to make than the duration of the movie itself, it's not for everyone.

If you look at the other "indie horror movies" around, it's obvious that you don't need a script, acting ability, originality or any talent whatsoever to make your own horror movie. You don't even need actors as glove puppets or your cat will do. But unless you really want to film Tiddles washing ketchup off herself and showing some nipples, the prospect of making anything which will perk the average horror fan up is filled with too many problems.

Some people have been stupid enough to make their own horror movies for their ex-loved ones only to discover them being mass-produced and sold at horror conventions for $19.99 six months later. If you are thinking of shaky-camming your boobies and running round the house while dressed up as a zombie and screaming, please don't. My cat still hasn't forgiven me for "The Furry Xmas Invader" which, incidentally, you can buy from me (while stocks last) for only $16,087.99 plus tax and shipping. (Please note that the limited "Unrated - Hairball Edition" is no longer available.)

Instead, how about creating your own version of the Mill Creek boxsets using easily downloadable and legally free Public Domain movies? Yes, my friends, this is the way to not even have to pay $5 for 50 nasties! They may not be original movies, but the selection and the order you put them in will be all your own work.

Make Your Own Public Domain Horror DVDs

You will need:

1. Either a blank DVD-R or DVD+R. (3 for $1 at Dollar Tree!)
2. The internet.
3. DownloadHelper.
4. DeVeDe or DVD Flick. They are both free!
5. A few hours of your time.
6. A crappy DVD movie that you can re-use the case from. (Multi disc cases are best for this so look out for those 2-disc "Special Editions" which weren't so special.)

Step 1

Find a source of Public Domain horror movies online. Hint: Google is your friend.

To save yourself a few minutes, you may like to go to my YouTube channel where some of the better Public Domain horror movies are. Don't forget to subscribe!

Step 2

Install DownloadHelper, restart Firefox, and when you are on the correct page, click the little spinning balls on the toolbar to select what kind of download you desire. In this case, it should be the file name that ends in .mp4.

Step 3

Install either DeVeDe or DVD Flick. They are much the same so whichever one you use is really only dependent on your computer system. If you use Linux, DeVeDe is the only sensible choice.

Step 4

Learn how to use DeVeDe or DVD Flick by reading the instructions, then burn your mp4 movies to blank DVDs.

Please note: This is the tricky part as it may involve reading. It's worth the effort because you can fit at least four movies on a single DVD once you get the hang of the software.

Step 5

Download a DVD coverart template and some nice pictures to decorate the insert for your DVD with. Pro-tip: Mill Creek tend to use pictures of actors from movies that they've never even starred in for their coverart so feel free to use their example.

You don't need to be a fantastic artist for this or buy any expensive graphics software. You could even draw or cut pictures out by hand, glue them to the right sized piece of paper and photocopy it. In fact, that's what most "indie horror movie" distributors do anyway.

Step 6

Throw away the original coverart and the DVD for "The Strangers", "Cloverfield", "Hostel" or whichever crappy movie you are replacing. Put your new coverart and DVD-R into the DVD case then wrap it up for Christmas.

Step 7

Enjoy the excited gasps as your horror fan opens the highly original collection of Public Domain horror movies on Christmas Day!

December 16, 2012

Sexy Sunday is coming soon!

As Sunday is the most boring day of the week when it comes to internet usage, I've decided to post random pictures of horror hotties to spice things up a bit.

I won't start doing this regularly until after Christmas, but here are three of my current favourites to give you an idea of what to expect.

December 15, 2012

Horror Christmas Presents for Paupers - Part 1

What do you get the horror fan who has everything? It's a question most of us face every Christmas whether we are the ones buying or the ones being bought presents for.

The simplest answer is, of course, a big box to keep it all in, but that's an old joke and will be slightly insulting unless the person in question grows out of their obsession. moves house, or wants to dump all their hoarded crap on the local charity shops.

Money is tighter than ever this year so why waste it on little plastic dollies which collect dust, posters which will rot in their tubes, or DVDs which will be worth less than 50c each by the same time next year?

In the following series of posts, I will give you a few ideas which will cost you hardly anything except a few minutes of your time.

Blair Witch Stick Figures

You will need:

1. Four sticks.
2. Some string.

Step 1

Find four sticks which look vaguely like the ones in the screencap from "The Blair Witch Project" (1999).

If you want to be truly authentic, you can go all the way to Burkittsville, Maryland and pick some sticks up there, but any wooded area will do.

Step 2

Snap the sticks to length and tie them together.

The two "legs" should cross at around two-thirds of the way up. Another stick is attached where they cross to make a "head", and the final one goes across to make the "arms".

It's so simple a five-year-old could do it. If you have kids, you might like to make a game out of it. Be forewarned that Social Services will take your children away from you for doing this and slap you in prison, but that's America for you.


Although authenticity is best if you want to please your horror fan, bear in mind that if they like "The Blair Witch Project" then they probably don't have a great deal of sense, taste or discernment to begin with.

Knowing this fact will allow you to customise your "Blair Witch Stick Figure" to your heart's content. No sticks? Use pens, pencils, straws, pretzels or those vile chocolate wafer sticks from Dollar Tree.

You could spray paint your figure, use twist ties to hold the sticks together, or since it's Christmas, cover the sticks with glitter and tinsel. If you want to get really ambitious, why not make lots of little ones to hang on your Christmas tree?

You could even assemble a giant "Blair Witch Stick Figure" and use it instead of a traditional Christmas tree! Just don't dump it out on your front lawn after Christmas is over unless you want your neighbours to think that you are some kind of Satanist. Mind you, if you are a Satanist, you probably wouldn't celebrate Christmas anyway or care what your neighbours think.

December 14, 2012

How to turn your DVD player into a Blu-ray player for less than $1

We live in hard times. Many of us can't afford to spend huge amounts of cash on the latest technology, and it sucks to be left behind especially at Christmas. If you are a movie fan, however, owning a Blu-ray player is now pretty much a necessity.

After numerous requests for advice about which Blu-ray player offers the best value, I have decided to give you my easy to follow tutorial for making your own out of your existing hardware. Please note that this will void your warranty.

You will need:

1. A DVD player (preferably with HDMI).

2. A blue marker pen. (The ones you use to write on DVDs are the best.)

3, A screwdriver (depending on the type of DVD player you own).

4. A flashlight (optional).

5. Five minutes of your time.

6. A Blu-ray disc to test the upgraded system with. Horror movies are, of course, the best for this.

Step 1

Open up the DVD tray then switch the DVD player off at the mains.

NOTE: Always make sure the power to any electrical device is disconnected before attempting to modify it. Failure to comply with common sense will result in damage to your equipment and DEATH!

Step 2

Locate the lens of the laser. Usually it is part of the tray, but sometimes it is further inside the player itself. Either way you should be able to reach it with a pen.

You may need to use a flashlight to see inside or, in the worst case scenario, you will possibly have to remove the outer casing of the DVD player using a screwdriver. A Philips/cross-head screwdriver is best for this although a flat-head screwdriver or spoon can be used to prise the case apart if you don't care about cosmetic damage.

Step 3

Remove the lid from your blue marker pen and dab the tip of the pen all over the lens of the laser. This may take several tries as the ink can pull back off or collect in pools.

Step 4

Put the lid back on your marker pen so it doesn't dry up. You might want to use it later to write the word "Blu" on your player over the top of the "DVD" label.

Step 5

Connect your DVD player to the mains, and pop the tray back in. Some DVD players will do this automatically when initialising. (If you've taken your DVD player apart make sure that the case is back on and all the screws tightened before you plug it in otherwise the tiny elves will escape.)

Step 6

Open the tray again using your remote control (or a long stick if you don't have the original remote control anymore).

Step 7

Enter the following universal code using the numeric keys on your remote control: 483823629234982372364923946234923645151214133331181919193893846432828234284682842141234123412342314126456675786211451412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382314838236292349823723649239141264566757862114514838236292349823723649239462349236451512141333311819191938938464328282342846828421412341234123423141264566757862114514838236292349823723649239462349236451512141333311819191938938464328282342846828421412341234123423141264566757862114514838236292349823723649239462349236451512141333311819191938938464328282342846828421412341234123423141264566757862114514838234623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145148382362923498237236492394623492364515121413333118191919389384643282823428468284214123412341234231412645667578621145114126456675786211451483823629234982372364923946234923645151214133331181919193893846432828234284682842141234123412342314126456675786211451483823629234982372364923946234923645151214133331181919193893846432828234284682842141234123412342314126456675786211451483823629234982372364923946234923645151214133331181919193893846432828234284682842141234123412342314126456675786211451483823

Step 8

Close the tray and reopen it again five times while saying "Klaatu barada nikto". Try to time each syllable with the tray movements.

Step 9

Insert your newly purchased (rented or borrowed) Blu-ray disc, close the tray, and press "Play".

Step 10

Congratulations! You should now have a fully functional Blu-ray player. If for any reason you don't, simply repeat steps 7 and 8 ten times. Some of the older DVD players are temperamental like that.

Also please be aware that your regular DVDs will no longer play in your upgraded player. To play DVDs, you will need to remove the ink from the lens of the laser using rubbing alcohol and a cotton bud. There is very little reason to do this since everything worth watching is now available on Blu-ray anyway.

I make no claim that this will work for every DVD player or even the one used in the example picture above. If it does and I've saved you some money, please feel free to leave me a donation. The PayPal donation button can be found on the right sidebar of this blog.

December 12, 2012

Woeful Wednesday - Update - 41 Horrible Movies!

I'm getting there! I've now watched 41 (soon to be 42) "indie horror movies" from the "Tomb of Terrors" 50 pack and reviewed them on "The Pit of the Pendulum".

The Pit of the Pendulum

If you haven't checked out my latest blog yet then head on over there and start following it because I still have 159 movies left to watch before I may lose the ability to tell a good film from a bad one ever again.

Watching this lot makes me appreciate real movies a whole lot more, I can tell you!

Abberdine County Conjuror
Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires
Blood Legend
Capture the Flag
The Crucifier
The Cutting Room
Death From Beyond
Demon Sex
Devil's Moon
Disk Jockey
Flesh Eating Ghouls from Outer Space
From Venus
Human Behavior
Jim Haggerty's The Slasher
Kill the Scream Queen
Kill Them and Eat Them
The Lunar Pack
The Night Owl
Nightmare Museum
None Left Standing
Rape is a Circle
Reanimator Academy
Redneck County Fever
Revenge of La Llorona
Rose of Death
Season in Hell
Shower of Blood
Siege of Evil
Sleep Disorder
So Mort It Be
The Somnambulists
Todd Sheets' Sorority Babes in the Dance-A-Thon of Death
Soul of the Demon
Strange Things Happen at Sundown
Terror at Baxter U
Three Can Keep a Secret
To Become One
The Traveler
Unborn Sins
The Vulture's Eye
The Woodland Haunting 2

To all those mugs who like to argue the toss about how "innovative", "original" and "groundbreaking" these low-budget independent horror movies are, I laugh at you! Not with you, AT YOU!

Now you know why I never supported this crap in the first place. Even the 10c per "movie" that I paid for the $5 pack (as half of the $9.99 deal when "Bloody Nightmares" was released in 2008) is more than any of them are worth.

December 11, 2012

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 11

The Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972)

"A mysterious, very old solicitor Mr. Blunden visits Mrs. Allen and her young children in her squalid, tiny Camden Town flat and makes her an offer she cannot refuse."

Based on the "The Ghosts" by Antonia Barber, "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" is another classic British movie for the Christmas season.

This is the last one of these that I'm going to post since you all hate free movies so much. Bah, humbug!

My Top Ten Most Traumatising Kids' TV Shows

I'm not sure if it's because of my recent scathing review of "Brazil", my "Ghost Stories for Christmas" series, or that I published a guest post, but I've lost three blog followers in the last week. I know that I'm not the greatest writer in the world, but give me a break here! At least I'm trying to come up with something in the midst of the horror famine.

As much as I loathe trips to nostalgia-land even during this traditional time for reflection, and I don't want to compete with Kindertrauma which does it so much better, I know how you all love top ten lists, so here's something I knocked up as a bit of fun. Christmas is for kids anyway, but traumatising them is something that can be done all year long.

1. Doctor Who (1963-present)

I'm too old now to be scared by any of the current "Doctor Who" monsters, but there are still several of them which I wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley. When I was a child, it was a different story. I was absolutely terrified of the Cybermen for some reason, I think it has more to do with what is involved in their creation than their really cool appearance, but I do remember an episode where Adric's gold star was crushed into the respirator of one of them which gave me the heebies all the way through. Sontarans, Davros, and even the Master (when he was all bubbly and rotting) also gave me enough reasons to soil myself. To this day, anyone unfortunate enough to look a bit squishy in real life just creeps me out.

2. Rupert the Bear (1969)

The whole thing was just weird, but the little birdy-creature called Raggety used to freak me right out especially when just its head appeared during the opening titles. This and the lenticular World Wildlife Fund card I had of an aye-aye made me wet the bed more than once.

3. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967)

Puppets are scary anyway, but don't go thinking that it was the "supermarionation" or even the zombified Captain Black who upset me. No, it was the voice of the Mysterons at the beginning which had me screaming like a 3 year old. It was probably a good job that I was a 3 year old at the time or I would have been really embarrassed. I wasn't even born when this was made, so damn you ITV for showing re-runs!

4. Chorlton and the Wheelies (1976)

Fenella the Welsh witch. 'Nuff said. Looking back on it, I think the whole thing was dodgy, and I still don't know what the Hell was going on in any of the episodes. Surrealism and talking dog-things bother me. I think Chorlton was supposed to be a dragon, but it's hard to tell when you are crying with fear.

5. The Feathered Serpent (1976)

I have no idea what this ITV drama was about other than Aztecs because I never made it through the opening sequence with all the screaming and skulls to be able to find out. I'll have to watch it eventually because now I know that Diane Keen was in it, and I had a huge crush on her.

6. Worzel Gummidge (1979)

Given his appearance, you would think that a living scarecrow was the most terrifying thing possible, but I liked Jon Pertwee and didn't find him scary at all. Much more sinister was The Crowman played by Geoffrey Bayldon who looked like a Victorian undertaker. I couldn't even bring myself to lust over Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally if The Crowman appeared in an episode.

7. Charley Says (1970)

As a Public Information Film, "Charley Says" was supposed to put the fear of God into kids anyway, but what really horrified me was the little boy, his scratchy voice, and... ugh... the terrible things which happened to Charley the cat.

8. Lonely Water (1973)

Another often repeated Public Information Film which you just have to watch on YouTube at some point to understand the trauma that it caused a whole generation. The combination of a menacing black-robed figure and the chilling voiceover from Donald Pleasence made sure that kids never went near water again. Yes, we all stunk!

9. The Ghosts of Motley Hall (1976)

I know it was meant to be a comedy, but the opening titles and music set the scene for something potentially a lot worse than Arthur English's jokes.

10. Kinder (1980)

Finally, not a TV show but a commercial that used to appear when people least expected it. Even though I was old enough to not be terrified, I'm sure the Humpty Dumpty from the Kinder Surprise adverts damaged some people. I used to do impersonations of "The Kinder Man" at school because I thought it was cool. Maybe it was my way of compensating since he was almost a Sontaran.

What did you see on TV that freaked you out when you were a kid?

King of the Castle (1977)

There are some TV programmes from my childhood which I thought I'd only imagined even though I fondly remembered important parts of them. On the other hand, there are quite a few which I wish really did only exist in my imagination because watching them as an adult makes me cringe. HTV's "King of the Castle" has a foot in both camps because, having spent a few hours today rewatching it, it's not something that I ever want to see again.

If you've never heard of "King of the Castle", here's the blurb from Amazon:
Macabre, fantastical and a benchmark production for children's television in the 1970s, King of the Castle was created by Doctor Who stalwarts Bob Baker and Dave Martin as one of the run of outstanding children's dramas HTV produced in that decade. Featuring strong direction and a script which expertly melds fantasy and reality, the series boasts solid performances from genre stalwarts Fulton Mackay, Milton Johns and Talfryn Thomas as well as Philip Da Costa as the series' hero, Roland. One of the most memorable television series of the '70s is available here, for the very first time in any video format. Episode three no longer exists in the archive in any format and the version included on this set is taken from an off-air VHS.
I'm not sure what I was looking for on YouTube when I discovered that the whole "King of the Castle' series had been uploaded by several people, but I was in one of those moods where I randomly click on the recommended videos until I end up watching some very strange channels indeed. Before I found "King of the Castle", I'd been watching highly embarrassing episodes of "Grange Hill", "Chocky" and "The Tomorrow People" and feeling dirty about doing so. If there's anyone of a similar age to me who didn't see at least one of those when they were originally shown then they probably didn't have a television.

Since I didn't recognise the title of "King of the Castle", all I remembered from the series to identify it was that the kid who got beaten up by bullies had a model kit of Frankenstein's monster, and somehow he ended up in a dungeon ruled by some ratty-looking guy who told him to always go up if he wanted to escape. What I'd forgotten was how the story was filled with clever socio-political subtext and commentary which I'm ashamed to say that I still don't quite understand even as an adult.

The big messages of the fantasy part of "King of the Castle" are apparently that work is pointless, comfort and ignorance is bliss, and there's too much bureaucracy in the world. There's a lot of Oedipal stuff going on too whereby the hero, Roland, has to take his father's role by force and has a crush of some kind on his stepmother. The latter doesn't surprise me in the slightest since Angela Richards, who plays the dual role of June and the Lady, is absolutely gorgeous.

Very recognisable faces include Fulton Mackay (the prison officer from "Porridge") as a Frankenstein-style scientist, Milton Johns as his monster, creepy Talfryn Thomas as the ratty-looking caretaker, and Jamie Foreman (who now plays Derek Branning in "Eastenders") as Ripper the bully. Bizarrely, I didn't recognise the lead, Philip Da Costa, as being the same guy who went on to play Jackson in "Scum" (1979).

In spite of the badly-timed, obviously stagey acting, and cheap sets which look better than the cardboard and curtains that they are really made of, "King of the Castle" isn't a bad piece of kids' entertainment for the time. Unfortunately, as a grown-up, I can see that it's really just a slightly darker, and very British, rip-off of "The Wizard of Oz" with the genders of the protagonists changed. Both nostos stories go back to Homer's "The Odyssey" anyway, but let's not get too highbrow about them.

One thing which really irritated me, perhaps because I've been away from Britain for so long, was the choirboy singing the "I'm the king of the castle, and you're a dirty rascal" theme tune which is full of the mispronounced "Estuary English" which I despise. It sounds like "I'm the king of the CARsul, and you're a dirty RARscul". Ugh. I hate that and "BARth" instead of "bath", "GLARss" instead of "glass", and the "someFINK" instead of "something" which even Gordon Ramsay has fallen prey too. I've always noticed it, but maybe it doesn't show up so much when you are constantly surrounded by it or you're a bit thick.

I don't recommend "King of the Castle" although I've embedded it as a playlist at the top of this post. It's not an accurate reflection of life in Britain in the late 1970s or anything, and it's certainly not scary for anyone over 7 years old. If you are into nostalgia, it's interesting to see a "Hammer Horror" magazine and a "Howard the Duck" comic at one point, but that's about it really.

Isn't it funny what you can find on YouTube when you are looking for something else? If only I could remember the name of that weird poltergeist story with a load of cushions flying around a room which I caught the last five minutes of. Whatever it was that left the image of someone tied to a chair with a washing line and a bottle of Sarson's malt vinegar stuck in their mouth is another matter.

December 9, 2012

Brazil (1985)

"A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state."

It's not often that I don't know what to say about a movie, but having watched "Brazil" for the very first (and second) time today as part of my Christmas movies selection, I don't know how to categorise it. I'm not even sure if I enjoyed it or not. I think I did in some ways, but I still wanted to hate it all the way through.

"Brazil" is a surreal, sci-fi fantasy set in an Orwellian future which annoys me almost as much as "1984" itself. I've been watching a few sci-fi movies on the side lately and, since I'm a natural pattern finder, all these dystopian futures are the same from one movie to another. There's always a big, bad government and some neo-noir style lead character who turns out to be the unprepared hero of the piece amidst a load of technology which makes absolutely no sense.

I'll eventually review them, but I've also rewatched "The Matrix" (1999) and "Dark City" (1998) this weekend for absolutely no good reason at all other than entertainment. I'm not sure if that's the purpose behind them, but I keep feeling that I've seen the same story over and over ever since "Metropolis" (1927). It makes me glad that I'm not a real sci-fi fan because the clones and lack of originality in that genre even outweigh the current problems with horror.

In some ways "Brazil" is also a horror movie. There's some nice gore and definitely a nightmarish atmosphere to the arty-farty nonsense which makes it suitable for a horror fan, but there's comedy too which really messes things up. If it wasn't for the slapstick and satire, I think I would rate "Brazil" as a great film rather than a turd trying to be cleverer than it is. As I said, I don't really know how to classify it or rate it properly because it's not in a style that I'm used to.

The funny thing is that I got caught up in the story even though the plot is as simple as they come with a predictable twist at the end which I thought was going to be an even bigger cop-out. I honestly expected it to be another "it was all a dream" movie or to go into "brain in a vat" territory. I hate those "we don't know what reality is" pseudo-philosphical stories especially as the whole concept is "meta" in the first place. If I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to watch a movie, I don't want any more layers of unreality to throw me right back out of it. That's where bullshit like "Inception" (2010) failed to impress me.

All I can say for sure about "Brazil" is that it has a great cast of some bigger names than I thought I'd ever see in the same movie, and it pretty much wastes the talents of every single one of them. I'm surprised that they ever worked again. Robert DeNiro? Well, he's never been that good anyway, but Bob Hoskins playing Mario before actually playing Mario is just plain weird.

Kim Greist, who plays Jill (the girl of Jonathan Pryce's character's dreams), looks a lot better in a wig even though she does nothing for me, but I could say that about any of the actors and actresses in this. They all look the part, but their characters' reactions to each other and their lack of depth ruins everything they do. It's impossible to care about any of them except in short bursts and then it's like they never existed. I swear it's possible to forget about everyone in the movie within seconds of hearing their last line.

"Brazil" is all style over substance at the end of the day and not very memorable except for the way it looks. I get that it's a satire or parody of some kind, but it's not funny. If it's a satire of the sci-fi genre itself, it's kind of insulting.

Sci-fi masochists everywhere who want to enjoy a combined brain-numbing and ass-numbing can now appreciate the new Criterion Blu-ray of the 142 minute long "fifth and final" director's cut which was released last week. Allegedly, it's better than the Universal version and my DVD version, but I'm sure that's like saying eating hot vomit is worse than eating cold vomit. I never want to watch "Brazil" again.

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 9

Cold Christmas by Nina Beachcroft (1974)

Yes, it's a kids' book rather than a film, but "Cold Christmas" is one of the few books which I read when I was in the intended age range for it. As someone who was reading James Herbert instead of the patronising and unrealistic "approved" books in English lessons when the teacher wanted some peace and quiet, I still think that "Cold Christmas" is one of the best of its kind.

"Cold Christmas" is out of print, but there are plenty of copies available to buy from eBay and Amazon. I got mine from a church jumble sale back in the early '80s. I don't have it now as I passed it on to another jumble sale along with all my other paperbacks in the early 2000s. "Cold Christmas" is not a rare book by any stretch of the imagination although I can't tell you how many times it has been reprinted. I had the Piccolo version as in the picture above which I know didn't have the original cover art.

I don't understand why nobody ever thought of adapting "Cold Christmas" into a TV miniseries or a film except that maybe it would have turned out to be too much like "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" (1972) or "The Watcher in the Woods" (1980). Nowadays, with filmmakers cloning every other success, this wouldn't even be an issue.

"Cold Christmas" isn't really like "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" or "The Watcher in the Woods" though. It doesn't have quite the same childish vibe to it. Give or take some of the dialogue, if it's similar to anything then it's a lot like Robert Westall's books in the way it handles the perspective of a lonely child caught up in a more adult situation than the child realises. The closest thing to it that I can think of would be Robert Westall's "The Scarecrows" (1981) which was, of course, written later and meant for slightly older readers, but there are superficial similarities to a lot of Enid Blyton's stories, Barbara Sleigh's "Jessamy" (1967), Penelope Farmer's "Charlotte Sometimes" (1969), Antonia Barber's "The Ghosts" (1969), and even Philippa Pearce's "Tom's Midnight Garden" (1958). Most children's fantasy books are in the same vein, but "Cold Christmas" feels a little bit more modern.

So what's it about? Basically, due to changes in her family circumstances (i.e. remarriage), a neglected little girl named Josephine spends Christmas in a large Georgian mansion, and discovers that the mansion is haunted. Just like every other children's ghost story, it features an alienated lead character and the "Cassandra" trope as what Josephine sees isn't believed by the grown-ups until the very end.

Apparently, Nine Beachcroft saw a house in a Hertfordshire village called "Cold Christmas" and was inspired to write a story about it. The real house has no such legend, but it's described so well that the you can really imagine the place existing and having a ghostly mystery to solve.

The atmosphere is very sad, and the whole family situation is very "upper working class" or even "lower middle class", but that's hardly a hindrance to a child's imagination. I'd hazard a guess that the book was intended for girls, but that doesn't matter so much either. How many boys have read "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games" in recent years? Gender specific books don't seem to phase anyone who wants to read something. Hell, I used to read "Misty" comic along with my weekly "2000 A.D." because the girls' comicbook was the only thing with horror stories in it at the time.

It's a pulp children's novel for sure, but if you've never read "Cold Christmas", I recommend that you do so. It's one of the great Christmas ghost stories no matter what your age is.

Here's the Amazon link: Cold Christmas: A Ghost Story

Blu-ray discs are a scam!

With dual layer Blu-ray discs being the industry standard for feature-length videos why isn't the 50 GB storage space used more efficiently?

50 GB is around 12 times the storage space of standard DVD discs with 4.3 GB yet still entire seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", for example, don't come on a single Blu-ray disc. What the Hell? Why?

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" isn't even on Blu-ray, but the seasons do already exist in 6 disc DVD packs. Theoretically, that means that 6 seasons should fit on 3 Blu-ray discs. Give or take a few pointless extras and maybe adding the original 1992 movie to a boxset, the maximum number of Blu-ray discs needed would be 4. How much do you want to bet that when "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" does come out on Blu-ray, there'll still be 6 Blu-ray discs to every pack and the price will be doubled?

What's the reason for this? Do you think that the original 4:3 ratioed, standard television format shows will be magically enhanced somehow to make them clearer or the stories will become any better because of it? You can't save the final season of "Buffy" from being crap anyway no matter how much you polish the turd, but I digressed. No, the truth is that Blu-ray is a scam.

No matter what the media and the nerd blogs tell you, there's no huge difference between the transfers of movies available on DVD and Blu-ray in the same way that DVD was a huge technological upgrade from VHS. The movie industry simply needed something else to get money out of people. If there is any benefit at all, it's that the plastic which covers the label where the information is really stored is a little bit harder to scratch. It's still not impossible though. Errors in duplication are just as frequent too.

I've seen Blu-ray discs which look absolutely no different to the DVD versions of the same movie. I've also seen transfers to Blu-ray which are a lot worse so it's become obvious that it's all a con. Unless you have a huge HDTV with at least a 70 inch screen, you aren't going to notice much difference either way. On my 3 year old 42 inch television, there's no difference at all.

Blu-ray players, on the other hand, aren't a scam. If they'd been used the right way in the beginning to play multi-featured discs back then they'd be a fantastic upgrade for those of us who always wanted a DVD jukebox from Sony which actually worked properly. The bonus features which allow Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming services through the same boxes are also commendable additions.

But is it worth upgrading everything to Blu-ray when you already have a huge DVD collection already? The answer is no. You aren't going to get any benefit out of it. The DVDs you own will automatically be up-scaled by the Blu-ray player to the resolution of your new HDTV, but most HDTVs should do that with a standard DVD player anyway. That's also the same process used by most of the Blu-ray manufacturers who claim to have "remastered" the movies. What did they do? They enlarged the picture and burnt it back onto Blu-ray, that's all. Give me a break! Only a movie filmed in HD specifically for the Blu-ray format is ever going to look "better" (and without letterboxing) because your old beloved '80s slashers probably don't even exist on a better format originally than VHS or Beta (if you are lucky).

So the process might be more intricate in the case of transferring 35mm prints to Blu-ray than merely up-scaling low-budget horror DVDs, but the principle remains the same. If the original source material is crap, the result of the transfer will be too. It's not some kind of magic that turns fuzzy into non-fuzzy at the press of a button. In some cases, it nearly is, but not really. But do you really believe that anyone is going to invest the time or money into rescanning movies when a few digital enhancements are all that it will take to satisfy the masses? Of course, not. 99.9% of "remastered" Blu-ray movies are the same as the DVD except up-scaled and re-burnt onto new media.

Does one movie really require the whole 50 GB of space for the resulting image to be stored on? Hell, no! You could fit 10 remastered movies on each Blu-ray disc if you wanted to, but obviously the movie studios don't want to do that. They want you to buy everything again individually apart from the movies which didn't sell well in the first place. They don't care about those at all which is why there are so many DVD multi-feature bargains to be found.

While the majority of people would rather buy multipacks of two or three movies per side of a flipper disc, the single feature scam continues to entice the cash from the wallets of those people with more money than sense.

Do yourself a favour this Christmas. Just say no to Blu-ray until the movie distributors start using the format properly.

December 8, 2012

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 8

The Mistletoe Bough

The Mistletoe Bough, a ballad by Thomas Haynes Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop, was published circa 1830.

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.
The Baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
Keeping the Christmas holiday.

The Baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride.
And she, with her bright eyes seemed to be
The star of that goodly company.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

"I'm weary of dancing, now," she cried;
"Here, tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide,
And, Lovell, be sure you're the first to trace
The clue to my secret hiding place."

Away she ran, and her friends began
Each tower to search and each nook to scan.
And young Lovell cried, "Oh, where do you hide?
I'm lonesome without you, my own fair bride."
Oh, the mistletoe bough.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

They sought her that night, they sought her next day,
They sought her in vain when a week passed away.
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not.

The years passed by and their brief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past.
When Lovell appeared, all the children cried,
"See the old man weeps for his fairy bride."
Oh, the mistletoe bough.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

At length, an old chest that had long laid hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid.
A skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.

How sad the day when in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest,
It closed with a spring and a dreadful doom,
And the bride lay clasped in a living tomb.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

December 7, 2012

Why I couldn't care less about "Ghostbusters 3"

The only scary bit in "Ghostbusters" (1984) was the librarian scene, so who the Hell cares about another lame comedy-horror movie anyway?

Well, it seems all the horror movie news sites do because they've been reporting the non-event of "Ghostbusters 3" for years even though it's still no nearer to becoming a real project.

The latest thing is the big question of whether Bill Murray will be in "Ghostbusters 3" or not. Having cringed through his cameo in "Zombieland" (2009), I couldn't care less about ever seeing him onscreen again.

It's been years since any of the cast were big enough names to sell a movie, and it's debatable whether they ever were. What have they done since which was worth a damn?

Harold Ramis hasn't done anything worthwhile, and although Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson have both been working consistently, none of the original cast have ever achieved the level of fame and success which "Ghostbusters" gave them for one Summer.

What was the last thing Dan Akroyd did that anyone remembers? For me, it where he was a reflection in the mirror in "Casper" (1995). That was when "Ghostbusters 3" should have been made not 17 or 18 years later!

As for Sigourney Weaver, she was just in "Vamps" (2012), but her career is on the wane now or she wouldn't be doing such tripe for an easy paycheck. What a waste.

"Ghostbusters 3" has the potential to be either another instantly forgettable second sequel or a bad taste in the mouths of those who were the right age to appreciate "Ghostbusters" when it first came out. It's a no-win situation.

If it ever happens, "Ghostbusters 3" will be like "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls", the second "Star Wars" trilogy, "Rocky Balboa", or any of the other resurrected franchises which should have stayed dead. It will suck!

Ten Reasons Why "Ghostbusters 3" Will Suck!

1. It's been too long since "Ghostbusters 2".

2. "Ghostbusters 2" (1989) also sucked.

3. Bill Murray is unlikely to be in it although the news reports keep changing about whether or not he will be.

4. Rick Moranis definitely won't be in it because he's retired.

5. It's a comedy.

6. It's a comedy for little kids and the parents of little kids.

7. The original audience has long since moved on. It's no longer the '80s and what was amusing back then is embarrassing now.

8. Allegedly, the script has been written by the same people who write the American version of "The Office" which also isn't funny.

9. Nobody in their right mind wants to invest in this.

10. It's a film designed to cash in on the nostalgia of parents and will only ruin fond memories of two movies which weren't that great in the first place.

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 7

Three movie versions of the quintessential ghost story for Christmas. Which do you prefer?

Scrooge (1935)

Scrooge (1951)

Scrooge (1970)

December 6, 2012

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 6

You can't have Christmas without "A Christmas Carol", so here's the 1949 TV dramatisation of the Dickens classic as narrated by Vincent Price.

A Christmas Carol

As a bonus, here's an interview that Vincent Price did in 1982 with Terry Wogan just before making "House of the Long Shadows".

December 5, 2012

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 5

After the semi-dramatic M.R. James adaptations read by Robert Powell, the BBC also produced a short series of further readings in 2000 featuring Christopher Lee as James: "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral", "The Ash Tree", "Number 13" and "A Warning to the Curious".

All of these "M.R. James' Ghost Stories for Christmas" have been included in the new BFI boxset, but there are two available as a taster on YouTube. Enjoy!

Number 13

A Warning to the Curious

I'm sure you're sick to death of M.R. James now. Don't worry, I have something different for you tomorrow.

December 4, 2012

Ghost Stories for Christmas - Part 4

Continuing the "Ghost Stories for Christmas", do you remember the half-way house provided by BBC2 which almost made up for the discontinued annual supernatural dramas?

In December 1986, BBC2 broadcast partially dramatised readings by Robert Powell of "The Mezzotint", "The Ash-Tree", "Wailing Well", "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" and "The Rose Garden".

I looked forward to watching these after school in the weeks before the Christmas holiday, but I vaguely remember that they weren't shown consecutively. I think that two episodes were shown one week and three the next which caused me to miss at least one of them. I'm also sure that one was broadcast on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and I only caught the very end of it.

Although they've never been repeated or made available to buy on VHS or DVD (as far as I know), these readings have been kept in circulation on YouTube for years. Unfortunately, they were all uploaded in sections rather than entire episodes (short as they are anyway) so you'll just have to click the related videos links at the end of each one to see the next part.

The Mezzotint

The Ash Tree

Wailing Well

Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad

The Rose Garden

Tomorrow, Christopher Lee does the same thing!