Saturday, December 13, 2014

CFP: Daughter of Fangdom: A Conference on Women and the Television Vampire

Following the success of TV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires in 2013, the organisers announce a follow-up one-day conference, Daughter of Fangdom: A Conference on Women and the Television Vampire. It will take place at The University of Roehampton in London.

Read below for further information, and please note that the deadline for proposals is fast approaching: December 15, 2014!

Monday, December 01, 2014

CFP: The Supernatural Revamped

Project Overview: Editors Brodman and Doan are seeking original essays for their third of a series of books on legends and images of the supernatural in film, literature and lore from early to modern times and from peoples and cultures around the world. It will be titled The Supernatural Revamped: From Timeworn Legends to 21st Century Chic.

Their first two volumes, The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013) and Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013), finalist for a prestigious Bram Stoker book award, dealt exclusively with the vampire legend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meeting Anne Rice (TIBF)

Last weekend, I took part in the inaugural INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair. Along with other members of the Ontario Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, I chatted about all things horror over the course of four days.

Although this was the primary reason for being there, the fan in me took over for a couple of hours when I had the opportunity to meet the author who solidified my interest in vampires in the first place: Anne Rice!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Terrors from the Lobby! (part two)

As always, when I attend local fan conventions, I keep an eye out for one of my favourite shops in Toronto: the Hollywood Canteen. So when I was at Horror-Rama a couple of weeks ago, I made sure to stop by their booth. Since I'm in the middle of researching and writing my new book, The Great Fright North, I'm on the lookout for anything to do with Canadian pop culture horrors. As always, the Hollywood Canteen had a great selection to choose from!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Horror-Rama 2014

Toronto's newest fan convention dedicated to horror, and counter-culture film, has come and gone. Horror-Rama, which took place on November 1 & 2, was sponsored by Suspect Video and Fangoria magazine (with major support from Anchor Bay Canada). By all accounts, the show was a success, and they plan to have a follow-up con next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Documentary: "The Dracula Business"

First broadcast on August 6, 1974, "The Dracula Business" features writer and broadcaster Daniel Farson investigating the myths and locations from the novel Dracula, written by his great-uncle Bram Stoker. Now available to watch online via the BBC, this is a fascinating look back at a period of time when the Dracula, and modern vampire craze, was just beginning.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Vampires and Cougars Don't Mix!

Kicking off vampire week of 31 Days of Horror is a look at a short-lived comic book series called The Cougar, from Atlas Comics. Based on the first two issues--which ended up being the only two issues--the premise had stuntman Jeff Rand (nicknamed "The Cougar") battling supernatural creatures, relying only on his own speed and agility. The first issue, aptly titled "Vampires and Cougars Don't Mix!" saw The Cougar battling a vampire named Count Krolok. The story was clearly influenced by popular tales of the day, including TV's Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75) and Dracula (1973), so it makes sense that this issue was dedicated to über-producer Dan Curtis. Not to mention that Count Krolok could have been a nod to Count von Krolock, from The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967).

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Search of Frankenstein

In 1975, Radu Florescu published In Search of Frankenstein, which explores the history and science behind Mary Shelley's classic novel, and the possible real-life inspiration for the character Victor Frankenstein. It's well-known that Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein after she dreamt about a scientist who created life. Florescu postulates that the dream was triggered by the memory of a trip that Shelley took to Germany a few years earlier, when she may have heard about an actual Castle Frankenstein, atop the Odenwald mountain range, which was once the home of a controversial theologist and alchemist named Johann Conrad Dippel (1673-1734).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frankenstein: The Monster is Back!

In the early 1960s, Dell's licensing agreement with Universal Pictures included a one-shot adaptation of Frankenstein, the 1931 silver screen classic that starred Boris Karloff. The story begins as a loose re-telling of the film, but then heads in a very different direction once Victor Frankenstein decides to showcase his creation at a scientific convention in New York City (which hints of both King Kong and Dracula). Along the way, the doctor turns the Creature into an unwilling lackey, forcing him to kill anyone (or any animal!) that gets in his way. Yet the end of the story comes full circle, when it appears as though Frankenstein's creation has been destroyed. If nothing else, the cover art by Vic Prezio is quite stunning!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Frankensteins of Hammer

A little bit of eye candy for today's 31 Days of Horror. All in, Hammer Studios produced seven movies featuring Frankenstein's creation, from The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) to Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing, as Baron Frankenstein, starred in almost all of them. Collected below is the series, in order, featuring the quad poster from each. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

National Theatre's "Frankenstein"

In February, 2011, a new stage version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein premiered at London's Royal National Theatre, adapted by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, the play was an instant hit, and sold out night after night. There were several unique aspects to this production; most notably, the actors alternated roles on consecutive nights, switching between Victor Frankenstein and his creation. Also, on March 17 & 19, as part of the "National Theatre Live" program, the play was broadcast into movie theatres across the globe.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Monster of Frankenstein (anime)

This week, 31 Days of Horror celebrates Mary Shelley's most famous creation, beginning with a look at the 1981 Japanese animated special Kyōfu Densetsu: Kaiki! Frankenstein. This was a 111-minute TV movie produced by Tôei Animation, based on Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). It's a fairly close adaptation, in spirit at least--and due to several graphic, macabre scenes, it's definitely more suited for adult audiences.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kelley Armstrong's Werewolves

Canadian author Kelley Armstrong has published twenty-one novels, over half of which are based in her "Women of the Otherworld" series, which feature a bevy of supernatural creatures struggling to blend into human society. The first book in this series, Bitten, tells the story of werewolf Elena Michaels, and was Armstrong's first novel. Written in 2001, it was nominated for the best first novel award from the International Horror Guild, and has recently been adapted as a TV series of the same name. The second novel, Stolen, also featured Elena, and introduced witches into the mythology. They then became the focus, until it shifted to other creatures of the night, including ghosts, demons, and vampires (all of which were featured in subsequent books). Elena returned in Broken (book #6) and Frostbitten (book #10).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Mornings...With Werewolves!

Growing up in the 1970s and 80s meant spending a lot of time on Saturday mornings sitting in front of the television and watching cartoons. 'Twas the golden age of animated superheroes, but there were also a fair number of kid-friendly monsters populating the TV airwaves.

Several series featured a core group of characters often patterned after the silver screen monsters. Since this is werewolf week, I've chosen to focus on a selection of retro cartoon series that featured lycanthropes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

Today's 31 Days of Horror (2014 Edition) takes a look at the obscure biker/horror film Werewolves on Wheels, a low-budget exploitation movie from 1971--where Easy Rider (1969) meets...werewolves.

Don't let the poster art fool you; it's not quite as cool as it looks. In my opinion, there are not enough actual werewolves riding motorcycles to justify the title. But it's an interesting glimpse into the life of "outlaw bikers" with a supernatural twist, mixing in a little black magic, Satanism, and a groovy soundtrack.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Cycle of the Werewolf

Since my last post--titled WEREWOLF--featured no actual werewolves, I figured it would be best to get back on track with a horror story that served up a proper lycanthrope.

In the mid-1980s, I had just started reading Stephen King, and my favourite novel at the time was The Stand. It was around that time that I also started to collect comic books, and was introduced to the art of Bernie Wrightson--so imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in 1983, he had also illustrated a horror novella by King. I was over the moon! (Sorry.) The best of both worlds, to be sure.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Werewolf: Super Hero...Super Spy!

In the 1960s, Dell briefly had a licensing agreement with Universal Pictures, so it made sense that they would create new comic book series based on the most famous creatures of all: Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's Monster. What didn't make sense was the fact that they kept the names, but then attached them to completely new characters--and turned them into superheroes!

To make matters worse, for this series, they weren't allowed to use "Wolf Man" due to copyright issues, so they reverted to something more generic. Don't be swayed by the title: this short-lived comic series has nothing to do with werewolves.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Werewolf (TV Series, 1987-88)

Eric Cord's world is turned upside down after his best friend Ted claims that he's a werewolf, and is responsible for a series of shocking murders in which the victims were partially devoured. After witnessing Ted transform into the beast, Eric is forced to kill him in self defense--but not before being wounded himself. Now cursed with lycanthropy, the only way he can be cured is by killing the originator of the cursed bloodline: a malicious werewolf named Janos Skorzeny.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Werewolf (1913)

Considering this week of 31 Days of Horror (2014 edition) will be devoted to pop culture lycanthropes, I figured, why not take a look at the first werewolf movie ever made? The Werewolf, released on December 13, 1913, is actually a Canadian production--which makes it all the more relevant to this blog! The film is now considered lost, but enough information has been uncovered over the years to piece together a pretty solid overview of the production. (I should note that this slate is not from the film; I created it for illustration purposes...)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Horror Advertising in Print

These days, slick, expensive ad campaigns are part and parcel with big-budget horror films and even TV shows (HBO wrote the book on viral ads for True Blood). But for decades, print advertising ruled the day, until it gave way to television and then finally the Internet.

In the late 1920s, around the same time that promotional advertisements were cropping up for horror shows, the monsters themselves were starting to be used to sell products.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

We Love Monsters

We Love Monsters, created by Jim Ordolis and Joe Kilmartin, premiers this month. It's a hands-on, fan-directed, community publication, reminiscent of classic horror mags such as Famous Monsters of Filmland.

At just under 50 pages, We Love Monsters packs a lot of punch. Featuring some great artwork and nonfiction articles, with a healthy dose of monster humour, there's a lot to enjoy in the pages of this first issue.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Motivational Growth (2013)

Ian Folivor has spent the last six months locked in his apartment, in self-imposed, soul-sucking seclusion. His contact with the outside world is minimal; every eighteen days he has groceries delivered to his door, the remnants of which are scattered throughout his dank, dilapidated abode. He spends his days channel surfing on the old television set that was passed down to him--a wood-encased behemoth that he affectionately calls "Kent." Ian is barely hanging on as it is, but after his TV breaks, he decides enough is enough. Yet his attempt at suicide fails, and he wakes up to discover that the mold growing in his bathroom has become sentient--and it has plans for him. Big plans! But as Ian starts to clean up his act, and his apartment, he begins to question whether or not The Mold truly has his best interests at heart.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest

Most of us would like to forget Tim Burton's Dark Shadows adaption, however, what should be remembered is its tie-in book of sorts. Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest is a quirky, colourful book from Hermes Press that reprints the first graphic novelization of the series: "The Interrupted Voyage."

This was a one-shot illustrated novelette published by Gold Key in June, 1970. Since the original is one of the rarest collectibles from the TV series, this reprint may be the only way that most of us can gain access to the story.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Gorey's "Dracula"

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
Kicking off my 31 Days of Horror blog fest is a look back at the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula, starring Frank Langella.

I decided to highlight this theatrical production after discovering a treasure trove of images at the New York Public Library's digital collection--which highlight Edward Gorey's stunning sets and costume designs, for which he won a Tony Award.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fan Expo 2014

Now that I've had some time to recover after an exhausting four days of running the booth for the Horror Writers Association, I thought I'd post some comments (and photos!) from this year's Fan Expo in Toronto. In short, for horror fans, the event was a vast improvement over last year--thanks to a conscious effort to consolidate most of the horror goodness in one area.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger (2011)

Horror movies that have a great poster and a fantastic title often sell themselves, and this was never more apparent than in the 1980s. I recall many hours combing through the horror section at the local video store, and would pick a countless number of unknown films based on the title and box art alone.

Of course, selections from this VHS wasteland usually proved to be disappointing, thanks to the invariably stilted dialogue, wooden acting, and clichéd storytelling. Such is the same for The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger. However, in this case, all of the elements that marred '80s horror films are intentionally part of this movie, which makes it one of the more successful throwbacks that I've seen to this golden age of cheap video horrors--and easily could have been produced thirty years ago. With that in mind, you should know what to expect--and will likely enjoy the result.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Philatelic Phantoms: The Haunted Canada Collection

Canada has its own share of urban legends and spooky folklore, and sometimes even our own government entities like to celebrate this fact. On June 13th, 2014 (a Friday, of course!), Canada Post unveiled its latest set of spooky stamps, and being the collector that I am, I had to purchase at least part of the wide range of offerings. It's called the "Haunted Canada Collection," and although it's not quite as quirky as their "Haunted Stamp House" from 1997, it's still a worthwhile investment for those who are interested in such homegrown horrors.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Discopathe (2013)

As a child, Duane Lewis witnessed the accidental death of his musician father, and he's had an adverse reaction to music ever since. It's now the mid-1970s, and the increasing popularity of disco music ends up pushing Duane over the edge; he spirals out of control, and murders a woman at a discothèque. The story then picks up a few years later in Montreal, where Lewis--under an assumed identity--works as a caretaker at an all-girls Catholic school. In an effort to keep his murderous instincts at bay, he pretends to be deaf so he can wear hearing aids, which he uses to block out the surrounding din. But everything falls apart after he inadvertently hears some dance music, which triggers a killing spree.

Discopathe has been touted as "an electrifying and blood-soaked nod to the golden age of Italian giallo and the films of John Carpenter and Brian De Palma." I'm sorry to report that it's not quite worthy of such lofty acclaim.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Beyond Götterdämmerung: A Tale of Nazi Vampires

Over the years, on film, it's been popular to mash-up Hitler's Nazi regime with creatures of the night--including zombies (Shock Waves, Dead Snow, Outpost), vampires (Frostbiten, Bloodrayne: The Third Reich), and even werewolves (An American Werewolf in London). Yet there's also perhaps a lesser-known example from comicdom, published in Weird War Tales from August, 1980 (V10N90).

"Beyond Götterdämmerung" takes place immediately after World War II, and tells the tale of a group of Hitler's followers who arrange for his transport to South America. But in order to ensure that he survives the journey, they take the drastic measure of turning the Führer into one of the un-dead!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Night Wanderer

In 1992, the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon staged A Contemporary Gothic Indian Vampire Story, a play commissioned by The Young People's Theatre of Toronto. Directed by Tibor Feheregyhazi, the story was written by Drew Hayden Taylor, who in 2007 adapted it as a YA novel called The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel. Although I wasn't familiar with the original play, I came across the book while researching Canadian horror literature, and was instantly intrigued by the title.

The Night Wanderer is a coming-of-age tale about a First Nations teenager, Tiffany Hunter, whose family boards a mysterious stranger from the East named Pierre L'Errant. Turns out the man is no longer quite human, and is returning to his homeland after centuries abroad. It's a very interesting premise that unfortunately didn't quite hold up to my expectations--although I suspect the target audience will get much more out of it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eddie (2011)

After an accident a decade ago, renowned Danish painter Lars Olafssen (Thure Lindhardt) lost his muse, and hasn't produced anything noteworthy since. In an effort to abandon the professional art world altogether, he seeks refuge in Koda Lake, a remote Canadian town, where he accepts a teaching position at a struggling art school.

Despite Olafssen's best efforts, everyone from the overzealous school administrator (Alain Goulem) to his seedy agent (Stephen McHattie) are hoping he will once again pick up a brush, yet all he can do is stare at a blank canvas. But that changes after he takes in one of his adult students, Eddie (Dylan Scott Smith), whose curious nocturnal habit turns out to be just the inspiration he needs to paint once again. But how far is Olafssen willing to go for the sake of his art?

Monday, August 04, 2014

Terrors from the Lobby!

I happened across the booth of one of my favourite shops in Toronto, the Hollywood Canteen, while wandering through the otherwise disappointing SuperFan ComicCon back in May.

Since I'm in the middle of researching and writing my new book, The Great Fright North, I'm on the lookout for anything to do with Canadian pop culture horrors. So when I came across a few stacks of lobby cards, I dove right in--and wasn't disappointed!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Silent Retreat: A Horror Creature Feature à la The Stepford Wives

Janey is a troubled young woman, recently orphaned, who has been sent to a "silent meditation retreat" to get her life back in order. The facility is run by a man simply known as the Doctor, who rules the isolated campground with a heavy hand. Only five patients are treated at a time, and there is to be no talking, reading, or writing among them--only silent reflection and meditation for a period of 60 days.

As Janey struggles to conform with the almost Puritan lifestyle that's been forced upon her, she notices that the other patients--who are all women, and about the same age--are seemingly becoming docile introverts after receiving "special treatment" in one of the cabins.

To make matters worse, at night, as silence descends upon the remote facility, Janey starts to hear strange, inhuman noises coming from the woods...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

WolfCop: Here Comes the Fuzz!

Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) is a small town cop who drinks too much and hasn't taken his job seriously in years. Instead of patrolling the streets, he spends most of his time at the Tooth & Nail, boozing it up while flirting with the bartender (Sarah Lind). Thanks to Lou's indifference, thugs and drug dealers essentially have free rein, despite the best efforts of his overachieving coworker (Amy Matysio).

After investigating a routine call to break up a party in the woods, Lou wakes up the next morning with no recollection of what happened afterwards--and discovers that a pentagram has been carved into his chest. With the help of his friend Willie (Jonathan Cherry), Lou tries to piece together the events of that fateful night.

Turns out he's become an unwitting pawn in a secret occult ritual that has taken place every thirty-two years. And under the light of next the full moon, both Lou and the hamlet of Woodhaven will forever be changed.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Rise of the Vampire by Erik Butler

The back cover notes that "whether they’re evil, bloodsucking monsters or sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight, vampires have been capturing our imagination since their modest beginnings in the rustic fantasies of southeastern Europe in the early eighteenth century. Today, they’re everywhere, appearing even in movies in Japan and Korea and in reggae music in Jamaica and South Africa. Why have vampires gone viral in recent years?"

In The Rise of the Vampire, Erik Butler seeks to explain our enduring fascination with these creatures of the night. And it's a wholly enjoyable journey that explores our collective obsession with these bloodsucking undead.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout

In 1990, scream queen Linnea Quigley released Horror Workout, which was a parody of her B-movies, horror tropes, and the exercise video craze. At the time, she was famous for appearing in low-budget fright fests, including: The Return of the Living Dead (1985); Creepozoids (1987); Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988); Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988); and Witchtrap (1989).

In these films, she often battled monsters, screamed at the top of her lungs (naturally), and found herself in various states of undress. As such, you can expect much of the same from her workout video--think of it as Jane Fonda (as Barbarella) meets Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In Honour of McNally and Florescu

Historian Radu Florescu died this week. Along with his colleague Raymond McNally, who passed away in 2002, the two scholars were the first to bring the life and times of the historical Vlad Tepes to public consciousness. Their ground-breaking book, In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends (1972), forever changed the landscape of Dracula scholarship--and proved that the vampire myth could be a serious, and viable, area of study. Seeing as I wasn't blogging back when McNally died, I thought this would be a good opportunity to honour both men, who were often as entertaining as the topics they studied.
(Pictured here is my abused, and cherished, copy of their first book.)

Afflicted coming to Blu-Ray this July

The Canadian vampire movie AFFLICTED comes to Blu-ray on July 1. This found-footage horror, by co-writers/directors Clif Browse and Derek Lee (who also star in the film), follows two friends as they take a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world. But things take a turn for the worse after they meet a beautiful woman in Paris.

The film won several awards at Fantastic Fest, and was featured at both the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Supernatural: Bloodlines - What were they thinking?

This week's episode of Supernatural, "Bloodlines," is a backdoor pilot for a potential spin-off series on the CW. The story focuses on five rival monster families vying for control of Chicago, and a vengeful young man who's a Hunter in the making. Although this takes place in the Supernatural universe, the story feels so out of step that it's more like Monsters, 90210 or Twilight: The Embraced. Clearly, this is aimed at a much younger (and narrower) audience than the parent show--so one has to wonder, what were they thinking?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Sneak Peek: Penny Dreadful

This week, Showtime released the first episode of their much-anticipated Gothic horror series, Penny Dreadful, on both YouTube and, even though the television premiere isn't until Sunday, May 11 at 10 PM ET/PT. It's a smart move, and will surely generate buzz about the series, which takes place in Victorian England and features characters from classic literature including Frankenstein (1818), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Dracula (1897). Created by John Logan and Sam Mendes (Skyfall), the series stars Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, and Billie Piper.

Although there are some familiar faces and places, this is an original story, featuring a core group of new characters who are on a quest to save a young woman's soul--and as this first episode shows us, the journey will likely be dark, horrific, and completely engaging.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Curtis and Matheson's "Dracula"

In 1973, director Dan Curtis teamed up with writer Richard Matheson to produce a Dracula adaptation starring Jack Palance. This TV movie was supposed to air on October 12, 1973, however if was pre-empted by a live television address by U.S. President Richard Nixon. Instead, the production aired the following February--perhaps not the most suitable time to run a vampire story (although its lost love aspect does make for suitable viewing around Valentine's Day). Dracula will finally be released on Blu-ray this May, and is worth picking up, considering some of the more unique elements of this adaptation.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walter Starkie's vampire tale

Walter Starkie portrait by Eduardo Chicharro Briones (1948)
Walter Starkie (1894-1976) was an Hispanic scholar, author, and musician. In the 1930s, he all but abandoned academic life to become a wandering minstrel of sorts, travelling extensively throughout the countrysides of Hungary, Romania, and Spain. He wrote of this vagabond existence in Raggle-Taggle (1933), Spanish Raggle-Taggle (1934), and Don Gypsy (1936).

The first book details his adventures throughout Hungary and Romania; in Chapter IV, Starkie speaks of Magyar superstitions, and relates the sad story of an old man who's family was destroyed by a vampire. The tale itself--simply titled "The Old Man's Story"--at times almost hints of Dracula. So one has to wonder: was this truly a tale told to him by firelight, in the middle of a graveyard somewhere on the road to Budapest? Or did Starkie enhance the story based on other vampire tales that he may have read?

Friday, March 14, 2014

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series

Robert Rodriguez's new television series, From Dusk Till Dawn, is based on his 1996 feature film of the same name, which starred George Clooney (written by, and co-starring, Quentin Tarantino). Both stories follow the Gecko brothers, two Very Bad Men, who are on the lam and heading to Mexico after a bloody bank heist. In fact, season one of the television series will retell the same story that was presented in the movie, but both it and the characters will be fleshed out across ten, one-hour episodes.

The series premiered this week in the United States on the new El Rey Network (Spanish for "The King"), which just launched last December, and features English-language programming targeted towards Latino audiences. The network is owned and operated by Robert Rodriguez himself--and From Dusk Till Dawn is the flagship series for his fledgling network. When I first heard about this adaptation, my thought was, "Why?"--especially considering if you've seen the film, you already know how the first season of the series will progress, and likely end. Yet after watching the first episode, I'm now thinking, "Why not?"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toronto ComiCon 2014

Considering the terrible winter we've had in southern Ontario, spring can't come soon enough. And, perhaps now that the Toronto ComiCon has expanded to a 3-day event, it will forever be tied to the arrival of spring--and become the (un)official kick-off of fan convention season in Canada!

By all accounts, Toronto ComiCon was a resounding success, even though two of the major headliners (Jon Heder & Morena Baccarin) had to cancel at the last minute. Held in the south building of the Toronto Convention Centre, this con is smaller in scale than its older cousin, Fan Expo, which will run during Labour Day weekend this year (August 28-31 2014).

Myself, along with a handful of other authors--who are part of the Ontario Chapter of the Horror Writers Association--had tables, and we also shared duties covering an information booth for the HWA.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Chauve-Souris watch by Swatch

It's interesting what occasionally shows up on Kijiji, such as this Chauve-Souris watch by Swatch, which was manufactured in 1999--and (I believe) only sold in Europe. Designed by American illustrator & cartoonist Ward Sutton, the watch originally retailed for about £52. I bought it used for considerably less--and the fact that it actually still works is a bonus!

The face of the Chauve-Souris (which is French for Bat) features a friendly-looking vampire standing under the pale light of the moon--and his shadow, along with the hour and minute hands, glow in the dark! What else could you want from a cool-looking vampire watch?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Night of the Demon (UK/1957)

Psychiatrist Dr. John Holden travels to England for an international scientific conference, where a colleague, Henry Harrington, plans to deliver an exposé on devil cult leader Julian Karswell. Upon arrival, Holden learns that Harrington was killed the night before in a freak auto accident.

Holden, who debunks paranormal phenomena, decides to delve deeper into Harrington's research, hoping to expose Karswell's phony supernatural power----which he believes is simply the result of autosuggestion and mass hysteria, and is being used as a ruse to stop people from looking into the man's affairs.

After the investigation leads to a rare book on the occult, The True Discoveries of Witches and Demons, Holden is warned that if he doesn't stop digging, he'll die on October 28th at 10PM. It's then that he discovers a piece of parchment that has somehow ended up in his possession--on which is written a series of indecipherable runic symbols.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Bloody Valentine's Day!

For those of us who prefer to celebrate anti-Valentine's Day, one can't help but think of the original 1981 slasher film, My Bloody Valentine, and the indelible mark it left on this day (much like the films Halloween and Black Christmas did for their respective fêtes). Shot in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, My Bloody Valentine was controversial even before its release. The MPAA, those bastions of confusing censorship, was going to curse the film with an X-rating unless several scenes were cut--and the director complied.

But the movie faced even more controversy upon its release, since one of the investors was the Canadian government--via the Canadian Film Development Corporation (now known as Telefilm Canada). One reviewer at the time noted that the CFDC "has no business supporting such a gross, insulting enterprise" (yet they previously invested in David Cronenberg's Shivers, The Brood, and Scanners--and managed to make money on the first two).

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Haunted Stamp House

Canada Post issued a bilingual commemorative stamp package on October 1, 1997, inspired by the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Four scary stamps were produced, depicting supernatural creatures (a werewolf, a goblin, a ghost, and a vampire) as seen through the imaginations of four Canadian illustrators. The thematic collection, depicting a dilapidated haunted house, included a stamp pane of sixteen stamps--which, when placed inside the cardboard sleeve, allowed for the monsters to peer out of the windows. The package was designed by Louis Fishauf.

Information included with the release notes that "legends of these imaginary creatures are known the world over, and can be found at the root of much Canadian folklore. Although tales of vampires appear only in isolated pockets of Canadian culture, every region of the country has its own ghost stories. Legends of werewolves abound in French Canada, with its myths of the tormented loup-garou. Goblins come in a variety of forms, from Quebec's mischievous lutin to the elusive Maritime will-o'-the-wisp."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Experience the New Flesh, while it lasts

This is the final week for David Cronenberg: Evolution, a major exhibition about the writer/director/actor, being held in the HSBC gallery at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (closes January 19th). I spent several hours wandering through the exhibit last month, and had a great time reading about his work and viewing props from his films. Cronenberg's evolution as a filmmaker was part and parcel with the evolution of the film industry in Canada, especially the horror genre; even if you're not a fan of his work, this is still definitely something you should see.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dracula: The lost Canadian edition from 1900

First Constable edition, 1897
Bram Stoker's Dracula was first published in England by Archibald Constable and Company, in 1897. Extensive research by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and J. Gordon Melton has uncovered all the significant editions that have been printed over the years, and the results were compiled in their definitive bibliography Dracula: A Century of Editions, Adaptations and Translations (1998). In 2011, the two included a list of critical updates as part of Dracula in Visual Media, by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan Picart.

Thanks to newly-available resources from the University of Toronto Library, which were digitized by the Internet Archive in 2012, I believe I've unearthed a forgotten Canadian edition of Dracula, which was published in Toronto by The William Briggs Publishing Co., in July 1900.