I was first introduced to “The Simpsons” on December 17th, 1989 at the age of six, when I spent all day with my dad and brother visiting my grandparents for the Christmas season. After arriving in the evening to my aunt’s house, my dad ensured we’d be there a while and I sat down with my big cousin to watch “The Simpsons” special “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” Little did I know this simple yellow skinned family of underdogs and losers would become one of the biggest comedic and creative influences of my life. It’s a show that’s stuck with me well in to my thirties, and it all started “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”
2017 will go down as a truly banner year for the horror community. We had great highs and massive lows. It was also the year of Stephen King where we celebrated genuinely brilliant adaptations like “It,” but bowed our heads in shame at the TV adaptations of “The Mist.” Good god that was terrible. I digress. We lost a ton of horror greats, and a good portion of horror hit makers spent a lot of time trying to convince the public that their films were not horror.
And who can forget the infamous “Post-Horror” crap? One of the bigger news headlines in the horror world that sent 2017 out with a bang has been the news that effective January 1st 2018, Chiller TV is shutting down.
With so much television available at our finger tips, there is always a demand for the revisiting of the golden age of television where everything was more simple. Mill Creek Entertainment has taken everything they could find in their catalogue and have built two rather large television time capsules and experiences that are suitable for audiences that grew up during what they call the “golden age” of TV. The “Watch Around the Clock: 24 Hours of TV” pair of box sets even includes the original commercials and ads for various products from the era, and there’s even a small fold out guide that allow you to view what TV shows are available through the entirety of the twenty four hour block.
Since we’re all slowly and inexorably heading into the last day of the month of October, I’ve gotten to thinking about the perfect film to watch on Halloween. The sort of film where, to properly experience it, you have to turn off all the lights in your living room and surround yourself with friends or family, put a huge bowl of freshly made popcorn on the table to get that smell of hot butter in the air, and then cower together to scream and laugh while lit only by the glow of the television. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s always fun, but it can be unforgettable if you pick just the exact right thing to watch.
This, in turn, got me to thinking about John Carpenter. Because, as you all remember, he just happened to make a little obscure flick called “Halloween”. Which, coincidentally, is why my own personal recommendation for the perfect film to watch on Halloween is “The Fog.”
The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.
In 1993, Monstervision on Turner Network Television in America was mostly a program that aired old horror movies and science fiction with the occasional hosting from magicians Penn and Teller. During the early nineties, many cable channels hadn’t yet solidified their formats, so a lot of the time slots were used on syndicated programs and adult programming, with the occasional time slot devoted to a rare original program here and there. Mainly though, the original appeal of cable television was watching old movies and television shows you couldn’t find on network television. To break up the monotony of airing the same movies over and over, they enlisted hosts to riff during commercial breaks.
People usually laugh when I tell them I have a mortal fear of zombies, but for many years I did. I had a mortal fear of the walking dead, for reasons I can’t really explain. Fears are meant to be irrational. I can however pinpoint to where it may have all started, and it was with George Romero. One of my earliest memories as a kid was when my dad took a four year old moi to visit a friend of his, who watching this horror documentary on VHS. Mid-way through the footage there was the epic finale of “Day of the Dead” where the humongous horde of zombies is slowly descending in to the military bunker with light cast upon them.
I got started as a critic in 2004 when I covered the Fantasia film festival for Film Threat. At the time I was pretty active on the Film Threat web board and one of the moderators, I believe it was Eric Campos, asked if I could attend the festival and write something for the magazine since I lived nearby. I must have done a good job because he let me stick around to do more stuff, mostly review indie films and write a series called “Versus” where I compared remakes with the original.
It was fun, but eventually I had to slow down because I was burnt out. I realize that “watching movies” doesn’t sound exhausting, but I always felt a deep sense of responsibility to both the readers and the filmmakers. It felt wrong to just go “This film sucks!” or “This film rocks” without exploring every little detail on screen and analyzing every aspect of the production.