Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Over the weekend The Typing Monkey staff drank some delicious beverages and freaked out over a great set of images on the ever-wonderful Monster Brains. The covers of Tales from the Tomb magazine and the other Eerie Publications may drive the weak-willed insane.

In snooping around for more information we came across some neat video by Jason Willis, who used to post great horror records on his blog Scar Stuff, and now appears to be making killer animated shorts. Here is the Halloween film Willis made this year, set to a children's record "Halloween" by Kay Lande and Wade Denning.

Note that Willis shot most of this on an iPhone. (Ker-BOING!)

We like to keep it more or less PG-13 because you never know who is reading. So keep that in mind for the following. The short that Jason Willis made in 2010 is a nearly 8-minute piece painstakingly pieced together from the covers of Eerie magazines and set to a novelty horror record from the early '70s.

Eerie Publications polluted young brains with lurid gore, violence, absurd monsters and barely clothed women, all of them brought to life via Willis' mad science.

Now that you know what you're getting CLICK HERE and have fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Double-Czech Sunday

We're playing catch-up here by posting twice in one day. The pencil was nice and sharp so we figured, why not?

Here's another great find via Monster Brains, Czech painter and illustrator Jaroslav Panuska. We can't read his entry on Wikipedia and there's not much English language information about him available on the Web. Panuska worked in the late 19th and early 20th century and seemed to have a love of the macabre.

The above work, "Vampire", is part of a wonderful gallery on Monster Brains. Check it out.

Antonin Likes a Good Scare

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak wrote four symphonic poems based on folklore from his native land. The Noon Witch is one of those tone poems and fits right into this month's theme.

Dvorak used Karel Jaromir Erben's retelling of the Noon Witch legend as the basis for his composition, Erben being a noted 19th century Czech historian and poet.

The tale is classic lesson-teaching folklore: A mother wants her child to take a nap so she tells the boy that if he doesn't go to bed, the Noon Witch will come and take him away. The child won't cooperate and to both his and his mother's surprise, the Witch actually shows up. Mom won't let the hag take her baby and that just won't do. Father arrives home for his dinner to find a nasty scene.


[Courtesy of PoledniceWP]

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cauldron and Broom Optional

Horror films generally ignore witches and witchcraft as a theme. For every Blair Witch, there are dozens of psychotic killers, yet more zombie apocalypses and too many vengeful ghosts. And we won’t even count the vampires.

Mix it up this year as you seek out movie entertainments for Halloween and try one of these flicks about witches and the people they terrorize. Or in some cases, witches and the people who terrorize them.

Dir. Daniel Gruener
Young wife Dolores witnesses the brutal murder of her friend and neighbor. She does the sensible thing by completely losing her cool. Dolores discovers her deceased neighbor may have been involved in some sort of witchcraft or voodoo. Owing a big debt to Rosemary’s Baby, Witches has a protagonist so paranoid of everything going on around her she almost becomes an unreliable narrator. But then the audience starts to agree with her and things get scary. (In Spanish with subtitles.)

Dir. Dario Argento
Like All of Them Witches, Suspiria opens with a murder and it’s a doozy. If the viewer can gather themselves up after the truly gruesome opening to this iconic Italian horror, the remainder is a gut-wrenching treat. A dancer has just enrolled in an exclusive ballet academy and finds the curriculum less than ideal as students start showing up dead, the nightly glass of wine seems a little off and what is it about that floral wallpaper?

Dir. George A. Romero
We could be lazy and just repeat what our former intern Francine wrote in 2009. So let’s do that:

"This is the most openly feminist horror movie made, and an under-seen gem. Joan (Jan White) has everything a modern housewife could want: husband, kids, suburban home, and an endless string of cocktail parties to plan and attend with the other wives she calls her friends. She's bored to the point of numbness. Experimentation with witchcraft leads to real life horror. There is no subtext here, as Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero lays it out plainly in a film released at the height of the Women's Liberation movement."

Thanks, Francine. We miss you.

Dir. Michael Reeves
For a different kind of witch-themed horror – the based on real events kind – dig into this gorgeous, depraved and ultimately depressing tale of a 17th century witch hunter (Vincent Price) who used the fear of witchcraft during the English Civil War to exact violence on the populace. With his performance here, Price reminds us that he is a skilled actor and not just a camp icon. He and director Michael Reeves fought constantly during the production. Read about it after you watch the film. And avoid the sometimes chopped-up U.S. release retitled The Conqueror Worm – MGM put out the UK original on DVD years ago.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Only Way In

We turned you on to Andrew Monko's photography a while back. His preference for rural and urban decay, the ways in which nature takes back man made objects, and his penchant for experimenting with light all appeals deeply to The Typing Monkey aesthetic.

Check out the photographer's series Scary Dairy. With some solid historical framing, he takes the viewer on a brief tour of the defunct, decaying and possibly haunted remnants of an abandoned mental hospital in the vast farming valley of the northern Puget Sound region of Washington state.

We're particularly fond of "Murakami Silo" and you'll have a favorite too. Here's a detail from "In the Silence They Wait":

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holiday Cheer

While we prepare more Halloween Frenzy entertainments to terrorize, delight and/or bore, take some time to enjoy two of the Web's best Halloween destinations, X-Entertainment and Countdown to Halloween.

X-Entertainment does sound like its NSFW but it's entirely safe for public viewing and usually great for sharing with family members you know will get it.

Blogger Matt has been running X-Entertainment since 2003 and has faithfully acknowledged Halloween every year via his site's trainspotter-style dedication to our disposable culture. This year his seasonal stuff (Halloween topics began Sept 8!) includes the birthday party he threw for his shrunken-head apple.

The Countdown to Halloween, while sharing a title with X-E's seasonal content, is more or less a blog roll. Which sells it short because it is a vortex of Halloween fun that will pull you in and get you fired because it's November 1 and you were supposed to have that PowerPoint done last week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The Other Girls"

[Click on image to embiggen]

Please do yourself a huge favor and spend some time reading and laughing at Nicholas Gurewitch's comic strip The Perry Bible Fellowship.

The above strip, "The Other Girls", is particularly seasonal, but Gurewitch's humor is always black and deeply funny.

And for a double-whammy of PBF goodness, check out his spot-on tribute to Edward Gorey.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

That Sly, Come-Hither Stare

Sometimes at Aesop Dekker's peerless music blog Cosmic Hearse it feels like Halloween all year round. Just a few days after Labor Day this year, he posted Louise Huebner's Seduction Through Witchcraft.

As pointed out on the Hearse, Huebner is the Official Witch of Los Angeles. Whatever those duties may include, that title is pretty spiffy. Perhaps other municipalities have similar positions?

Seduction is Huebner's 1969 instructional record for ladies and gents interested in er, seduction through witchcraft.

What's that? I'm sorry, we thought you just said you weren't interested in seducing anyone through witchcraft, but we must have misheard.

You need this record. Play it next time your sweetheart comes home from a tough day at work and let the sexy magic work its -- dang it. Didn't really think that one out before we typed it.

The music and sound effects were done by Louis and Bebe Barron, the way-ahead-of-their-time electronic experimental musicans who did the delightfully eerie score for Forbidden Planet.

Thanks Cosmic Hearse!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Movie Time!

Mike Mignola, the illustrator and writer most famous for creating Hellboy, did a one-off comic book in 2002 called The Amazing Screw-On Head.

The titular character works as a secret agent for President Abraham Lincoln. Screw-On Head, an expert in the occult, is literally what his name implies, a mechanical wonder who attaches himself to various mechanical bodies equipped to carry out his duties.

In 2006 the Sci-Fi channel (now SyFy, boo) commissioned an animated pilot of The Amazing Screw-On Head and Mignola delivered.

Alas, it was not picked up as a series despite boasting the voices of Paul Giamatti in the lead role, Patton Oswalt as Mr. Groin, David Hyde Pierce as the villain Emperor Zombie and Molly Shannon as Patience, Screw-On's ex, now a vampire aligned with Zombie.

The show, like the comic, is wickedly creative and very funny -- a steampunk melodrama well aware of its own ridiculousness. Here's the trailer:

You like? Watch the whole thing here. It's only 22 minutes long.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


[Snapped by The Amazing Mrs. Kendall; Pacific Galleries Antique Mall; Oct 8, 2011]

Stay Off the Moor, and the West Coast Too

The film An American Werewolf in London was released 30 years ago. It remains the best werewolf movie ever made. (FACT.)

Artist Olly Moss gave us all a gift for the 1981 film's birthday by making this:

Moss frequently reimagines the poster art for iconic films. He's not the only artist putting Art Deco, Axis and Communist propaganda, and Saul Bass filters on our more recent movie-art memories, but he's one of the best.

If you've never seen American Werewolf, please correct that soon. And if it's been a while since your last viewing, there's never a better time of year to watch again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Old Fashioned American Devil-Baby

Hull House still stands in Chicago and you can read about it's origins as part of the "settlement" movement in the United States if that interests you. And it should.

But if you read far enough in most mentions of the house, you'll come across mention of it being haunted and further, the place where once a demon baby was born -- allegedly.

Jane Addams, one of the co-founders of Hull House, actually wrote about the Devil-Baby at Hull House for Atlantic Magazine in 1916. And through the miracle that is the intertoobs, you can actually read her article.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Revenge of a Witch

As we've gathered material for the Halloween Frenzy, this year's harvest skews toward the realm of witchcraft and the ladies who practice it. To start things off, turn your attention to this wondefully lurid gallery of comic book covers from the ever-reliable Monster Brains.

Witches Tales magazine ran from 1951 to '54 and followed E.C. Comics' lead -- each issue an illustrated anthology of short horror and suspense stories. Being a Harvey Comics product, Witches Tales aren't nearly as gruesome as E.C.'s gonzo gore-fests, but they still deliver.

The cover story in issue No. 16 combines three subjects sure to delight: the Old West, a witch and a horde of corpses rising from their graves. Neat!

That'll learn 'em!

The witch in the story, given the exotic and not-at-all xenophobic name Delia Zarbo, is more Eastern European looking, with younger features than the old woman on the cover. (In a couple panels, she's positively vampiric.)

The Witches Tales cover art has recurring themes you'll notice: open graves, foolish men and wasp-waisted blondes with a preference for revealing red clothing.

If any of the covers looks promising, Monster Brains' proprietor Aeron Aelfry provided a link to the Digital Comic Museum, where every issue can be read online or downloaded and saved for later. That's service right there, so don't thank us, thank Monster Brains.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Free Music: The Great Tribulation

The Typing Monkey is never too proud to admit terrible, awful, really unforgivable mistakes. Back in July we should have instructed you to immediately click over to CD Baby or various other online retailers and purchase a copy of The Flood Brought the Fire by The Great Tribulation.

But did we? No sir and/or madam, we did not. A grievous error we will attempt to rectify by pointing you to the band's BandCamp page where they are currently giving the 10-song LP away as a free digital download, thus saving you the hassle of ripping the CD and dropping it into the MP3 player of your choice.

We trust that you will do the right thing and buy the CD too, or even buy the MP3s from CD Baby. (Give one set to a friend!) Or just preview the album online and buy the physical CD.

What you'll get is a crackerjack bunch of tunes from the Ann Arbor "folk noir" quartet. Their particular strain of elastic Americana treads all over the 20th century without laying claim to a particular decade.

Flood unspools as a collection of short stories, evoking the same feelings as a tail lights shrinking in the dark or that weird mood you fall into when the leaves start to turn and coffee tastes a little better and dammit it's going to get cold soon.

As we discussed back in March, "Sure as the Rain" stands out among the crowd, a classic quiet storm that has likely already soundtracked the conception of a future generation of miserable registered voters. But pay close attention to the various stringed instruments circling one another at the start of "Better Left Unfound" and give yourself over to "When a Stranger Kisses Me." Lovely.

Go now.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cycling in the Dark

During Halloween Frenzies past, we've usually started the month off with a music video to prep the workspace, though not usually something seasonal.

Bat for Lashes' 2007 single "What's a Girl to Do?" doesn't tread into goth territory or have particularly gruesome lyrics. It does dissect (vivisect?) a dying love -- not the object of affection's death, rather the death of the feeling.

The video Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) made for the song does unleash some cartoon creepiness. It plays out like a dream, with a nighttime bike ride down the middle of a backwoods road, the forest hemming her in, and some surprises along the way.

If you've never seen it before, have fun. And if it's a rerun, it's not like you're doing anything more important right now.

[If the embed isn't rendering watch it here.]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Of Donuts and Mushrooms

Today is October 1, 2011. Have you eaten a donut yet?

Once again, The Typing Monkey performs our civic duty by reminding our readers that October is national donut month.

We shall observe the commencement of this sacred time by enjoying a couple selections from Seattle's premiere vegan donut shop, Mighty-O Donuts. Vegan donuts, we said it. And we're proud. They're free of dairy, eggs and lard, but they'll still kill you if you eat too many -- a tasty death.

Before things get all spooky up in here with the commencement of the 4th Annual Typing Monkey Halloween Frenzy, we wanted to draw your attention to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore.

Researchers at the school gave human subjects psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in so-called magic mushrooms.

The study found that even a small dose increased the subjects' level of "openness" -- a personality trait that's crucial to creativity and curiosity.

Further, a single dose increased those tendencies for nearly a year. The test group was small, but continues to bolster previous positive research by the school on the hallucinogen's affect on the human mind.

This is not an endorsement of the drug. However we found it interesting that academics in the United States are conducting this sort of research. Read the report here.

[Image culled from Chris A.'s deviantART gallery]