Guts and Grog Tooned Up

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tromeric Takes On Crypticon 2014

My favorite weekend of the year has come and gone. I have made it to most of the Crypticons over the years, and each one has been an amazing experience. The first one was huge for me, as it was my first legit horror con. The second was great, but I was so broke at the time, I realistically should have skipped it, but that's not my style. I then missed a couple, but three years ago, made my return. Last year was great, but it was also the first time I was a vendor, and not just an attendee. This year, time did not allow for that. Jacob VonKlingele and I let it sneak up on us, and we knew we just couldn't get enough stuff ready to make it worth it. Even with that knowledge, I couldn't miss it. It has always been such a great event. As the guest list was announced, it became more apparent. Lynn Lowery, The Soska Sisters, Tristan Risk, Jeffery Combs, John Kassir, and many more. 

 Jump ahead, and it was finally time. I worked a bunch of extra days beforehand, just to make sure I had enough cash to fully enjoy . My train left Friday morning, and I worked all the way up until Thursday night. I work graveyard, so that didn't leave much time for sleep, but I am more than happy to make sacrifices, to make an event better. I got off work, got everything ready, tried to sleep, but it just wasn't in the cards. So I prepared with coffee, smokes, and herb. Peter Poison gave me a lift to the train station, and it began. 

There was a water scare here in Portland, the day I left. It affected my trip, as the train had been filled with water from Portland, which now was known to be unsafe to drink. The worst part of that was that due to the potential risk, no coffee was able to be brewed. That is not a good thing when you have already been awake for 24 hours, and still have a trip, and a ton of planned events left in the day. Luckily I am a man of action, and compromise, so I did the responsible thing and just drank whiskey. 
I got into Seattle, and was greeted by Mr. VonKlingele. We instantly started hunting for VHS, and other things. A few great finds right off the bat, it gave me hope this weekend was going to live up to my expectations. We then returned to his house, where he gave me a stack of things that he had found for me over the last few months. Included in that, was one of the Dr. Tongue HorrorBalls he surprised me with. It hadn't even officially started, and I already had a full weekends worth of finds. Not a bad way to start.

Love the look of this cleaner.

Oh shit! So excited

So stoked on these. I need the rest.

Just a start on the VHS for the weekend.

After our initial hunting, we loaded up the car, and headed to North Bend for some Twede's Diner. If you're not familiar, that is the diner they used for Twin Peaks, as well as Fire Walk With Me. Not only is it a filming location for one of my favorite shows of all time, but it is also an amazing place. They have over fifty burgers to choose from, and that is just the beginning. They of course have plenty of cherry pie, and coffee. It had been a couple years since I had made the trip, so I was more than excited. Got a little bonus, when I found out that an old friend from Twin Peaks Fest was going to meet us.

After this, we headed back to his place, and readied ourselves for a relaxing evening, preparing for the next day, which would be the day we had been waiting for. Crypticon. We grabbed some food for the house, and I got myself some Adult Chocolate Milk, to go along with the other treats I had brought. We spent the remainder bullshitting, smoking, and having some nightcaps. In the end we got some sleep, but not nearly enough after being awake for roughly 40 hours, but hey, that is part of the experience, right?

Once we made it into the con, we got right to it. Checking everything out, seeing old friends, and meeting the guests. I will just let the pictures do the talking for this. I will start with some friends. 

Nick Gucker holding up his amazing Re-Animator print, and to the right some stickers, and a copy of From Beyond he did the cover for.  I have a few of his posters, and they are all amazing. Check him here. 

 Two of my favorite ladies at Crytpicon,  Becky Hansen, and Michelle Kilmer,. Check them out here.
My good friend James R. Beach. Always selling me those tapes.

From our neighbor last year, Devon S. Devereaux. Check him out here.

Now lets move onto the guests. This year was a very eccentric list, which I enjoy. There were a ton of great people to meet, but these are the ones I was able to hit up. Some truly memorable moments were had. 


Jeffery Combs who you may recognize from a little movie named Re-Animator. Who am I kidding? Of course you know. Well, he was a true gentlemen and told us all kinds of stories about the making of Cyclone, as Jacob VonKlingele had him sign the VHS. 


Tristan Risk from American Mary, was both insanely nice, and insanely beautiful. 

Zach Galligan from Gremlins and Waxwork. Nice guy, didn't have much time to talk, or get a picture, but glad to meet him, and get this badass pic.


John Kassir, who you may know better as The Cryptkeeper was hilarious. He was very excited to sign the Tales From The Cryptkeeper VHS that Jacob had graciously given me. 


Lynn Lowry has always been one of my favorite ladies of horror. So many roles of hers I love, but in the end I had to go with this Shivers print. She was so sweet. 

The Soska Sisters were just as nice in person, as they have been online. I really appreciate it when directors and actors take the time to reach out to their fans online, but find it even more impressive when they remember you in real life. Not only were they great, beautiful, funny, and nice, but they even took the time to write me on Twitter, a gesture that I know I am not the only one who received. That is a whole new level of appreciating your fans. 

There were so many others I would have loved to have met, but timing just didn't allow it. I will finish this up with the rest of my acquisitions from Crypticon.

After the con, we went back to the VonKlingele household. We made some fish tacos, had some drinks,smoked, and bullshited. A little sleep then it was onto a full day of hunting. Alisha VonKlingele was able to join us for this day, which was nice, as I had barely been able to see her. We went all over digging for tapes. Some good scores overall, and Jacob and I did some trading while we were at it. No holy grail or anything, but some solid finds, including a couple of laser discs.

The best tape I have ever found in the wild.

 I had a ton of luck with book finds, including a ton of non Goosebumps related R.L. Stine's. 
The covers on these things kill me. So classically nineties. I also found some Indiana Jones books he had written. I had no idea those even existed, so that was a nice surprise.

I also found a pretty sweet Goosebumps toy at Half Price Books.

When we returned after an amazing dinner at a Japanese restaurant, I ended up getting a huge Goosebumps collection from Jacob's son Elias. I love me some Goosebumps, and had what I thought was a pretty impressive collection. Well, now my collection is insane with all these new additions.

It is impossible for me to put how amazing this weekend was into words, but I still tried. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing all of the random things I found, and great people I was able to meet, and see again. Thanks to everyone involved in the making of this weekend. From the organizers, the vendors, the guests, the friends, and anyone else who made it happen. Until next year.

- Tromeric

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Video Naties: The Definitive Guide

I was thrilled to hear Severin Films was finally bringing this beast to the States. Beforehand, you could only get an imported copy for out of print prices. I luckily was able to procure a copy when it was first released, but have since lost it, and was not about to fork out a hundred bucks for something I assumed would be in print again. I was right, and Severin came through.

The meat and potatoes of this set is definitely Jake West's(Evil Aliens) documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape. It is an overall look at the 72 films that made this infamous list, as well as a history lesson of VHS invading your homes, or at least the homes of some British personalities that I am sure you will recognize. Since its initial release, we have gotten a couple of documentaries on VHS history. First with Adjust Your Tracking, and then with Rewind This. Those films made this part of the lesson seem regurgitated, but as I remembered, this was before those, and it only takes up mere moments of the film. It is also still interesting to see and hear from a different side of the world on these moments in history.

The film starts off with a graveyard full of these films being showcased. Imagine Sam Raimi building a contraption to go through the graveyard in one shot, while The Damned sing their amazing, and fitting song "Nasty." This basically sums up the opening. Sure Sam Raimi had nothing to do with it, but the amazing way this intro was filmed had his influence all over it.

Interviews range from film personalities such as Neil Marshall, Andy Nyman, Kim Newman,  and Christopher Smith. They tell stories of seeking these out as children. They wanted to find the sickest, most gruesome, yet entertaining films they could. They would rent them, and have parties to showcase them to all their friends. An action I very much can relate to. Where it changes from what I grew up with, is when the BBFC comes in and censors them, and causes a mass panic. I was lucky enough to  not have to deal with this kind of shenanigans. At least not until Blockbuster showed up on the scene and secretly did something similar, but alas, that is not what this is about. This is about the famous list of 72 films, mostly picked on solely due to title and cover art. It can be infuriating to see such reckless abuse of power, and those points are further driven home by stories of imprisonment, and businesses being destroyed.

Don't let this scare you off, sure it deals with these things, and they are important to our history, but it is also an amazingly entertaining film. Clips from some of your favorite 70s/80s horror flicks followed by brief commentary on them from an insanely interesting bunch of people. They even go into detail on how it affected culture at the time. Stories from many are told, as well as TV references, including, but not limited to The Young Ones and the episode "Nasty."

In the end this is 90 minutes well spent if you are a fan of cinema, specifically horror cinema. It is important to not forget the past, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a history lesson. This was a trip down memory lane, even if I wasn't directly involved in the movement.

Adjust Your Tracking, Rewind or Die, and kick Mary Whitehouse to the curb. Revel in your nastiness. 

Discs two and three have trailers for all 72 films on the list, as well as introductions from Emily Booth on both discs. Disc two is the 39 films that were successfully prosecuted. Disc three is the 33 films that were originally banned, but eventually acquitted. You can watch these just as trailer reals, which is perfect for parties. Or, you can watch them with introductions from a variety of experts on the subject. With this feature you are looking at roughly ten hours of entertainment. I have watched through these before, but that didn't stop me from spending a whole day off doing it again for this review. These are full of great information, as well as hillarious anecdotes from a who's who of horror film and journalism.

This is a set any lover of horror, or history of cinema must own. The documentary is excellent, and that is the just the beginning. The features will keep you salivating for hours.

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape- 4.5/5

This will be released June 3rd and can be picked up directly at Severin, as well as many other outlets.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

City of the Dream Demons- Johnny Dickie

Johnny Dickie returns for his sophomore feature, Curse of the Dream Demons. His previous film Slaughter Tales was a anthology throwback to the SOV era of home video. City takes all of the elements that made Slaughter as fun as it was, and incorporates a more dreamlike atmosphere.

Tommy is a horror junkie living in the city with his eccentric mom. They moved there after an accident that doesn't get fully revealed until the end of the film. His friend Spat shows up, and they head out to inform everyone about an alley party. While they are out, they are attacked by monstrous creatures. As their friends begin dropping like flies. They must band together to stop the dream demons.

This film is not technically spectacular.  You won't walk away wishing for an Oscar nod. You will walk away with a shit eating grin on your face. This is made by horror fans. Specifically by fans of the SOV sub genre that came out of the video store boom of the eighties/nineties.

The acting is bad in all of the right ways. It has that hyper real, while being over the top feel. It almost was reminiscent of early John Waters, with long dialogues, over expression, and rapid eye movement. I have always been a fan of this. I am sure it stems from growing up in the eighties and obsessing over all of the low budget, independent, experimental film that was exploding onto the shelves.  

The music is great in points, and also one of my only complaints in others. The score is excellent. Exactly what you would expect from it. Keyboard beats, and rocking riffs. Gets your blood flowing. The opening song is perfect, and accents the title card sequence brilliantly. The way the title card is animated made me feel like I was watching a Kuchar Brothers film, and the music just adds to it. My only real complaint however, is that I wish that the whole film had been score, and not songs. I find songs in films distract me. Unless of course it is part of a montage or something else awesome. I just have a hard time focusing on the dialogue with lyrics being sung in the background. This is a minor complaint, and in no way ruined my experience.

The main dish of this is of course the special effects, and they don't disappoint. Visceral in your face gore. Face ripping, gut munching, hell, even an intestine nunchuck  match. The blood is red, and it flows. Stabbings, shootings, axings, slashings. It really does have it all. Intestines squirt out like it's a goddamn Dr Dreadful's Food Lab.
Johnny Dickie has definitely shown growth, while I enjoyed Slaughter Tales. I loved City of the Dream Demons. It is amateurish not out of  lack of ability, but out of love of the genre. It is a little more ballsy than most micro budget horror films. It toys with reality, while still being a in your face gut muncher. It never really drags, which is pretty impressive for a film like this. It knows what it is. A trashy, low budget, blood riddled, sleaze fest. It is not afraid to own up to that. No filler, all killer.




Monday, May 5, 2014

The Vice Guide To The Carter Family Reunion: The Sacrament- Ti West

All I needed to hear was "new Ti West" to know that I needed to see this. House of the Devil is one of my favorites from the new millennium, and The Innkeepers blew me away, especially considering I don't generally enjoy haunted house type films.

When I first looked into The Sacrament, I quickly realized it sounded very familiar. Upon further research, and seeing the trailer there was no denying it was in some way a retelling of Jonestown. Since I am a huge fan of murder porn, it was a story I was already very aware of. This made me even more excited. I waited patiently, as I was very curious the route that would be taken. Would it be a very loose interpretation? A biopic? Or was I completely wrong? 

It was kind of all of them. The names are different, the places are different, the time is different, but the story is the same. I look at it, as a modern retelling of the story. Think Bates Motel, with a murderous cult, instead of a psychopath learning to jerk off.

I was drawn into the story immediately, so early in fact, that there wasn't even a story yet. The opening subconsciously warned you what you were getting into, even before there was anything to get into. Slow building music, with simplistic credits. This was followed by the set up, which lets you know Vice Magazine was going to do a story on a place called Eden Parish. One of the reporters had received a letter from his sister, who was a member. She invited him to check it out, and two others decided to join him and turn it into an article. From here the film momentarily turns from the tense, horrific story to an actual piece from Vice, at least you assume so. The intro plays out like the Vice TV show, with an upbeat feelgood song from The Knife. This moment is important, as it is about the only time you will breath for the next ninety minutes.

The entire cast sells this. AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, and Kentucker Audley all own their roles as reporters who get caught up in a situation way more dangerous than they anticipated. Amy Seimetz walks the line of recovering sister, and creepy cultist with ease, and  Father(coincidentally played by Gene Jones)  rides the fence of creepy and likeable in ways not seen since Ted Bundy. These are accented by every other member of the cast. From the smallest walk on role, all the way to the leads.

While this is mostly a story and atmosphere driven film, and even based on a true story. It is also a horror film. There are genuinely shocking moments in it, and the gore might not flow like Carrie White in the shower, but it is there, and it will please even the sickest gore hounds, without isolating the more causal horror viewer.

The Sacrament is slow building, but worth the wait. You won't necessarily notice how slow, as it is told so brilliantly. I could not take my eyes off of it. I am very familiar with the story that it is based on, but I never felt like I was watching  a rehash. Every second more gripping than the next. Ti West has yet again made a film that will likely end up on multiple year end lists. I know it will be on mine.