Al Cook’s “Necropolis”. Cut Loose: Part I.

Part II was supposed to be out long before now but I had conflicting ideas of where I wanted it to go.
Zip on over to Al Cook’s “Necropolis” to see Part I of ‘Cut Loose’ in all its glory and where Part II will appear in the not to distant future.

Oh aye!
Please become a pal on the Facebook Page because it’s pretty lonely over there.

Introducing A 5 Year Old To Horror Cinema.

I’m trying to wean my 5 year old Nephew Asa off of the computer games he constantly plays.
He plays this simple flash game where you’re a stickman sniper and you have to take out other stickmen with a rifle!
Last night he even had a nightmare where a gunman came into his room and shot him!
I don’t like it one bit…

As his Uncle who loves him, I can’t let this go on and although I was originally gonna save this talk for his 8th Birthday, today I introduced him to the beauty of horror cinema!
Nothing too graphic.
– Just a few slimey sea monsters and creatures to start him off…

It didn’t take as long as I thought it would either which gave me enough time to teach my 1 year old Niece Orla how to do an impression of the Zoltar machine from the movie “Big”…


I had a bad dream this morning.
I dreamed that me and my pal Vicky were walking through Glasgow’s George Square, two of the few survivors of…THE ATTACK OF GIANT CREMATED (Yet somehow) RE-ANIMATED SPIDERS FROM SPACE!

Yep, you guessed it.

So there was me and Vicky walking through the wrecked town.
We discussed our situation and occasionally we’d catch sight of big shadows down alleys.
Shadows of big fuck-off spiders eating babys!
We sat down on the one bench in George Square which wasn’t covered in giant neon green space cobwebs or on fire and had ourselves a smoke.
We were remarkably calm.

Vicky was like: “So what are we gonna do? Kill those big fuck off spiders ourselves?”

Me: “Eh, You’re forgetting that the spiders are Cremated and yet somehow, Re-Animated Spiders! We can’t kill them silly! They’re already zombie spiders Vickster!”

So, we just sat there like idiots, trying to remember how Cillian Murphy dealt with similar things in that film “28 Days Later” when all of a sudden I noticed an old woman’s body across the road.

Vicky and I crept over to investigate the body when it started shaking.
We could see moving bumps all over the dead woman’s skin until her mouth opened and THOUSANDS of wee baby giant cremated (yet somehow) re-animated spiders from space covered me and Vicky from head to toe and…

…then I woke up.

I don’t usually have dreams that are that ridiculous.
I’m blaming all of this on Vicky because she’s in Beijing just now and last week she put this photo up on her blog:

That’s Vicky eating a cremated spider because apparently, that’s what you do when you go to Beijing.

She doesn’t look too pleased does she?
Looks all crunchy too!

Boris Karloff: “Tales Of The Frightened”.

Are you one of the frightened…?”

Boris Karloff almost always opened “Tales Of The Frightened” with that question.
The way he asked it was always corpse cool and slightly more sinister each time too.

“Tales Of The Frightened” is a 2 volume record collection of short, creepy little horrror tales told by Mr. Halloween himself, Boris Karloff.
It was recorded for the radio in the late 1950’s and released in the early 60’s.

I have a lot of obscure records in my collection but these may be my favourites.

The stories were all written by Michael Avallone and narrated by Karloff.
There was creepy music and amazing sound effects making “Tales Of The Frightened” something pretty special.

And that’s just what it is folks, special.
I once  heard a rumour that Karloff did all the sound effects himself-live on “Tales Of The Frightened”. Could that be true?

I have both of these records and I listen to them all the time.
My imagination goes all over the place when I turn the lights down and drop the needle.

I don’t want to completely give the game away but here’s an example of what you can expect:

Last week, I began to wonder if there was ever a 3rd volume in the series and although there never was, I found something just as interesting.

“Tales Of The Frightened” has had a makeover with Vernon Wells (Bennett in the classic film “Commando”) taking Boris Karloff’s seat and all new spooky music has been added by Eban Schletter.
I bought it straight away and it is very VERY good.
Ideal for scaring the shit outta the kids at Halloween and available on itunes.

Karloff’s original “Tales Of The Frightened” records aren’t as easy to get a hold of these days but MP3 files are out there if you look hard enough.


After I published this short write up, Mr. David Avallone got in touch. David is the son of Michael Avallone who wrote all of the original “Tales Of The Frightened” stories.
David is also the main man behind the new “Tales Of The Frightened” starring the great cult movie actor Vernon Wells.

I was really curious to know about Michael Avallone’s original stories and how the new and updadted “Tales Of The Frightened” project came about so I emailed and asked Mr. Avallone a few questions and surprisingly, he emailed straight back!

And here it is:

Once upon a time, in 1956, my father, Michael Avallone, edited a magazine called TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED. It was supposed to be a launching point for a radio show of the same name, with Boris Karloff reading dad’s horror short stories.

Unfortunately… radio AND pulp magazines were both dying in popularity at the time. The pulp magazine ran only two issues. So the stories written by my father were recycled as a paperback novel.

The paperback had 26 stories, and was reprinted at least eight times in the US, and several times overseas. The Boris Karloff recordings were recycled as a pair of spoken word albums… stories read by Karloff, set to edited tracks from an early electronic music group called “The Electrosoniks”. Mercury Records released the two LPS in 1961 and I’m sure livened many a swinging sixties Halloween party.

Since my father’s death, I’ve been looking for various ways to keep his work in the public eye, with varying degrees of success. I did a web series based on his last “Ed Noon” detective novel in 1999 (SINCE NOON YESTERDAY) but I think we were a little ahead of our time there. Web series are still a rocky proposition… in 1999 it was positively foolish.

In the summer of 2009, I started thinking about TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED. My family owns the copyright on the stories, but not the music or Karloff’s voice and image. When I mused aloud about redoing the stories, my sister Susan said, “What about your friend Vernon? He has a great voice.”

By “your friend Vernon”, Susan was referring to the great Australian cult film icon Vernon Wells, star of THE ROAD WARRIOR, COMMANDO, INNERSPACE and a million POWER RANGERS episodes. Vernon also starred in a little kick-boxing action movie called KICK OF DEATH, written and directed by yours truly in 1997… and we’d been friends ever since. The idea had passed my mind before, and the timing seemed right. So I called up Vernon and enlisted him to the cause.

The original album gained a large part of its spooky appeal from the (then groundbreaking) electronic music. I needed a composer who understood horror, and could create a sound that was retro without even a hint of kitsch. The obvious choice was another good friend, Eban Schletter. Eban has done music for the tv shows SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, DRAWN TOGETHER, and a feature film remake of THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI. By lucky coincidence, Eban was just wrapping up a Halloween-themed record called THE WITCHING HOUR, which was released last year by Oglio Records.

So in the summer of 2009, Vernon came into the studio and read eight of Dad’s stories. Eban got to work on the music, and we had a demo version of the album available in time for Comic-Con.

Now the album is finished… and last October, TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED 2010, written by Michael Avallone, read by Vernon Wells, music by Eban Schletter hit the shelves (digital and otherwise), released by Oglio. Fifty-four years after the original publication and forty-nine years after the original album.

Hope that enlightens. Thanks again for the kind words. Me and Eban and Vernon are very proud of the album, but it’s such a strange product (who does spoken word albums anymore?) that it’s been slow going publicizing it.


6 Films To Keep You Awake.

This is not my post folks.
This is a Re-Blog of  “6 Films To Keep You Awake”, a post from 2008 on the great Kindertrauma.
As a huge fan of horror cinema I have to say that all 6 of these sound incredible and I can’t believe I didn’t know about any of them until now.


If you remain unmoved by the recent airings of the diluted MASTERS OF HORROR series entitled FEAR ITSELF, 6 FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE, the Spanish language equivalent, may be just what the mad doctor ordered. All the tales hold something of interest and happily the lion’s share boast themes of a truly Kindertraumatic nature. On a technical level, 6 FILMS consistently impresses by constantly delivering a too rare, rich theatrical vibe to the small screen. A bit of patience may be required with the more subtle and psychological of the stories, but all in all this half dozen set of variant views of the dark side provides the chills.

Doctor Ana Torres does the old bait and switch on pal Gloria when she offers her and her young daughter room and board in exchange for Gloria’s aid at her in-home medical practice. Gloria soon learns that not only is Ana carrying a torch for her, but that she also wants her to assist in providing secret abortions to boot. When Gloria herself becomes pregnant, Ana coaxes her into taking advantage of the house specialty with high anxiety and profound regret the result. The aborted fetus disappears, young daughter Vicky begins carting around a tin box and slimy residue is found on the attic stairs. Directed by NARCISCO IBANEZ SERRADOR (the classic WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?), BLAME throws the viewer off by pointing its finger in every conceivable direction until its final thought provoking, slightly frustrating scene.

An older man looks back on his youth and the part he played in the ostracism and tragic death of his first real love. This is a true blue ghost story in the PETER STRAUB vein, filled with some startling imagery and capped with an ending that grows creepier the more you think about it. Haunting in every sense of the word, SPECTRE director MATEO GIL (NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY) proves the best way to slip a noose over the audience’s head is very quietly.

Think you’re tired of the old kid has make believe friends that just might be real storyline? What if I told you the kid’s make believe friend was THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE‘s Leatherface? This fascinating journey into the mind of a little girl who just may have seen one to many horror movies is a must see for genre fans. The less I give away about this superbly crafted, beautifully shot mind screw the better, but I’ll leave you with this, Leatherface is not the only icon who drops by…

I’m a sucker for X-mas horror, but I was taken aback by just how up my alley this segment turned out to be. I was pretty much sold from the beginning, which not only spoofs a cheesy zombie flick but also introduces us to a group of kids who appear to be the missing members of THE GOONIES. Making things all that much more irresistible is that the action takes place in 1985 and we’re surrounded by references to such things as THE A-TEAM, THE KARATE KID, the miniseries “V”, Princess Leia, and that blinking light game SIMON. The kids discover an escaped female convict trapped inside a hole in the woods and rather than aid her decide to exploit the situation to their advantage. When the crazed Santa costumed woman does finally make her way out of the hole, well, to quote one of the kids, “She’s got an axe and she’s pissed!” Amongst holiday horror flicks this is highly original and lots of fun. You can bet I’ll be watching it again once December comes around.

ALEX DE LA IGLESIA (DAY OF THE BEAST) is an exceptionally talented director and this particular tale showcases his strong suites well. This is a haunted house tale and like all good haunted house tales, the structure in question is really just a substitute for the interiors of the human mind. IGLESIA is able to inject potent doses of humor without diluting the terror as he peels back the wallpaper to reveal something akin to real madness. JAVIER GUTIERREZ and LENOR WATLING both turn in highly memorable performances as a couple whose new home subjects them (and their infant child) to domestic anguish levels not seen since STANLEY KUBRICK‘s THE SHINING, another must see.

One director I cannot get enough of is JAUME BALAGUERO ([REC]) and here he does not disappoint. MACARENA GOMEZ and ADRIA COLLADO are a young couple checking out an apartment listing who get unsnarled in a nightmarish trap of which there seems no escape. GOMEZ, who you may remember from DAGON, has a striking resemblance to horror icon BARBARA STEELE and frankly she’s impossible to take your eyes off of. Her performance along with that of NURIA GONZALEZ as the authentically frightening captor is something to behold. BALAGUERO‘s wonderful visuals are a given, but here he really showcases his deft hand at creating edge of your seat suspense.

If you’ve enjoyed recent Spanish language horror films like [REC], THE ORPHANAGE and PAN’S LABYRINTH this set is for you. I enjoyed all six of these productions and that’s a real rarity. Less gimmicky and more in touch with a real genuine sense of the uncanny than most popular horror, they actually may have the power to keep the viewer up late into the wee hours.

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