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A Few Words About Stan Lee

A Few Words About Stan Lee

By David Bird in Blog on October 17, 2010

I'm been meaning to write more for the blog, and more on comics, than I have been, so, to get things back on track, I am going to write something that's been on my mind for sometime: fanboys really need to reel back on their Stan Lee hatred and start giving the man his due. Lee is one of the most important men in history of the comic industry and its most influential writer. You read that last bit correctly: Stan Lee is the most influential writer in the history of comics.Lee, born Stanley Lieber, got into comics straight out of high school, when his uncle got him a job working for his cousin's husband's company, Timely Comics. It was the sort of menial work you'd expect a kid to given, getting people's lunch, erasing pencil marks, whatever needed doing. Except for a stint in the Army Signal Corps, Lee stayed at Timely, aka Atlas, aka Marvel, growing up, starting a family, and getting tired of it all. Legend has it he told his wife he wanted to quit, to write something else, something better, to experiment. His wife told him that, if he's going to quit anyway, why not start experimenting now, with the comics you're already writing? Its funny that, with all the debates about who deserves credit for what, nobody mentions Joan Lee's advice, without which Lee would never have re-invented comics--because re-invent comics is exactly what he proceeded to do.I know there is a long history of complaints about Lee's artistic collaborators being unfairly treated by Marvel, and I don't mean to dredge that all up again, but as long fanboys center their discussions on glorifying Kirby or Ditko, they overlook what Lee contributed altogether. Before Lee if a good guy got superpowers, he became a superhero. If a bad got superpowers, he became a supervillain. That's all there was to it. It was a black and white world, without characterization or complexity. But when Reed Richards, Sue and Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm got superpowers, it became as much a burden as a blessing. When teen Peter Parker got them, he saw a pathway to fame and fortune. They, and the hundreds of other characters Lee would write, reacted and behaved just like real people would. It was an important step in the maturity of the medium.One that would take a couple of decades to really reach fruition. We look at works like Watchmen and writers like Alan Moore when we want to talk about how comics have grown, but works like Moore's are a part of the larger legacy of Stan Lee. One of the things that work against the recognition of Lee's influence, ironically, is its own pervasiveness. Today every character has problems, has a real life to balance with their heroics. If his contributions seem ordinary, commonplace, its because everyone is copying them and have been copying them for almost fifty years. Before Lee comics were written for children. Because of Lee comics were able to grow and mature and hold onto their readership. So step back and recognize the man for what he is and for what he's done. Because without Lee the chances are neither of us would be reading comics now! Originally Pubished at: David Bird's Blog

Oh, The Horror! #54: The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

Oh, The Horror! #54: The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on October 16, 2010

Mike Carey is a master. I wanted to get that out of the way first and foremost. I’ve been into Carey’s writing since his churn in Vertigo’s Hellblazer, chronicling an era of everyone’s favorite John Constantine and then followed Carey for a whole on X-Men and been enjoying the hell out of The Unwritten (until my shop suddenly stopped ordering the damn book!). I finally finished his first novel The Devil You Know and once again… master!In Devil You Know, we’re introduced to a freelance exorcist by the name of Felix Castor, a cheeky, rigid, and sarcastic English man who reluctantly takes up a job to exorcise a ghost haunting an old museum. Castor tries to figure out the mysterious background of this strange ghost and her connection to the museum. As his “research” goes on, more mystery gets introduced. What if this ghost isn’t haunting just to be a demonic nuisance, but she’s actually currently a victim of a continuing scheme? Filled with intrigue into an occult underworld and a humorous perspective from the protagonist, The Devil You Know is an enriching and engrossing page turner as we’re introduced to dark corners filled with ghosts, loup-garous, a beautiful and deadly succubus, a rival exorcist, and last but not least a powerfully scary gang boss and pimp. Carey does a fantastic job in building this world surrounding Castor and actually making us care for him, his supporting cast, and horrific truths as they unravel through each and every chapter.It also didn’t hurt that Carey found a way of incorporating a loup-garou into the story, an animal/ghost/demonic shape-shifter who I’m accustomed to always hearing about through Haitian folklore. Be sure to read this book at night for a really filling and thrilling feel. It is a truly fantastic and great horror book for your collection. I can’t wait to read the sequel!Originally Pubished at: Minds of Greg

Oh, The Horror! # 53: Radical Comics' City of Dust

Oh, The Horror! # 53: Radical Comics' City of Dust

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on October 3, 2010

Let me start off by saying that although Steve Niles is dubbed as a modern master of horror, as a writer he doesn't do much for me. I've read his 30 Days of Night and while I was initially in love with it, I couldn't say it stayed brilliant with me through another reading. I've tried some of his other works and have always felt a tad underwhelmed. The one project of his I did like a lot was his short-lived Simon Dark book for DC Comics which I ended up dropping due to financial reasons, but sadly the fact that the book was heavily decompressed didn't make it a hard decision. I don't want to bash the guy. I love his enthusiasm for the horror genre and you can see his love and devotion for it. Heck, I've met the guy once and thought he was mega cool peoples. But I always feel as if a lot is missing in his work and I can never put my finger on it. I love his ideas, but execution can be a lot better.And once again I feel the same for his Radical book, City of Dust. City of Dust me meet a cop in the future by the name of Philip Khrome who turned his father in when he was a child after hearing a fantasy story from him. So yes, we're in one of those futures where fantasy, literature, religion, imagination are all banned and illegal. Even porn!!! While we are introduced to the main character, he gets caught up in a weird murder mystery strangely connecting to monsters- monsters that are so far resembling monsters of old tales – Tales of Dracula, werewolves, etc. Things get a tad difficult when Philip kills a criminal for praying and later he discovers a children's book and starts reading through it. Oh boy!Now, premise is cool and grabbing. Sure, it's a retread of Fahrenheit 451, but its still a rather good premise in this day and age when kids, even many adults, aren't even reading anymore (it tragically pained me when my little sister and cousin told me they've NEVER heard of Anansi the Spider!!). Niles does a pretty good job with the characters, my favorite parts being the scenes with the protagonist and his love interest, a prostitute. Niles also does a good job blending sci-fi with horror monsters with a mix of crime noir. The art is moody and works well with the atmosphere and world we're introduced to. No complaints with the art, Radical tends to always do well with that. But like all Niles books, I'm left unsatisfied. I still feel there's something missing. Extra beats that could have really helped it be great. For one, I felt the villains were a bit too weak in comparison to the protagonist. Not weak as in threat, but weak in execution. While they're wrecking havoc since the beginning of the book, they still don't seem to give an alarming presence. They seem to come out of nowhere, cause trouble, and move on. There's a revelation of how they come to be, but it gets presented in a seemingly nonchalant way where you just want to see this end.If you're into monsters and a good blending of genres, check this book out for yourself. There's enough grit and gore for these type of horror lovers. Also keep in mind that I started off explaining the relationship between me and Niles' writing, so if you're a fan of his, maybe this'll be up your alley. Beyond that, I can't say I fully recommend this.Originally Pubished at: Minds of Greg

The Wrasslin' Top Five #2: Top TNA Workers of 2010

The Wrasslin' Top Five #2: Top TNA Workers of 2010

By syxxpakk in Blog on September 6, 2010

In the spirit of today's particular holiday, I've decided to look at the work-ethic of pro wrasslin'.  I considered, at first, doing an "All Time"-type thing, but decided I should narrow it down.  It was then a "Top 5 Workers of Today"-thing, but I figured why not go against type and look at TNA?I've said often that TNA has a strong roster and that one the company's strengths is the willingness to push new, unproven stars.  That logic often breeds hunger in an athlete to succeed and that hunger leads to a higher work ethic.  Thus, it proved hard to narrow it down to five without cheating (which I ultimately did anyway - SPOILERZ).Without further adieu:#5: Shannon MooreBelieve me when I say that this comes as big surprise to no one more than me.  When you find that "obvious" guys like Samoa Joe (hasn't done much of anything this year) or Rob Van Dam (he's really not that great as matches against Abyss and other people not named AJ Styles have proven) are not listed, but Shannon Moore is; well, it seems like something is amiss.Make no mistake about it, I didn't think Shannon Moore was worth much of anything when he tagged along to TNA next to Jeff Hardy.Yet at one half of the tag team Ink, Inc., Shannon Moore has found a new breath of fresh air in his career.  There's a distinct difference between Shannon Moore now and the Shannon Moore who languished both in TNA in years prior and in WWE more recently.  What brought about this new, reinvigorated state of being?  I have no clue.  Maybe it's the freedom to work as he sees fit with his best friend cooking meth next to him?  Whatever it is, the renewed vigor in Shannon Moore has gotten him out of his doldrums and made him a legitimate talent to watch.  It's unlikely he'll bounce out of his tag team act, but I wouldn't mind if he did as long he kept up with how he's doing now.Now if only Jeff Hardy would take the hint.#4. Jay LethalOnce upon a time it was said that Ric Flair could get a good match out of a broomstick.  These days, that's a little less likely to happen and he can be, in fact, a detriment to any match in which he is actively involved in wrestling.That said, Jay Lethal is no slouch.  What was posed to be his breakout year might have slackened off recently (point of fact - where the Hell is he these days?!), never let it be said that he didn't prove himself in 2010.  Being paired with Ric Flair is a dream of most wrestlers and the dream was lived by Lethal in the first half of the year.The result was some of the most impressive in-ring work of his career.  Lethal was paired up against Kazarian and AJ Styles before meeting Ric Flair in the ring, with both matches being subtle displays of his in-ring prowess.  The match with Flair was arguably four stars (and not solely but Lethal's work, but Lethal added a lot to it).Lethal has always been a strong worker, but it's plain to see that working with his idol added a new emphasis to his work ethic.  Unfortunately, he seems to have disappeared from TV.  That's a shame.  Talent like his should be used for all it's worth.#3. Kurt AngleThis should, ultimately, come as a surprise to no one.  Kurt Angle, simply put, is one of the top ten pro wrestlers of all time.  Whether it's been against AJ Styles, Mr. Anderson, or (apparently - I've yet to see the match but will eventually) Jeff Hardy; Kurt Angle excels at this whole pro wrasslin' thing.It's easy to write about Moore and Lethal, as well as the next two entrants.  Angle's complicated because there's really no explanation needed.  He's Kurt Angle and that's, frankly, all there is to it.#2: AJ StylesI think the only argument that could be made here is that he deserves to be higher.  I even respect that argument, although I stand firmly behind my #1 choice.AJ evolved this year in a way very few in his position would.  His promos have gone lightyears from where he was just a year ago (no doubt thanks to Flair) and his in-ring work is in a continuous state of improvement.  AJ kicked the year off with strong matches against Abyss, Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe.  The word is, he even dragged a good-great match out of Tommy Dreamer on PPV.AJ has always been something of a hoss as far as work ethic goes, but there's no denying that his work has elevated to a completely new level this year.  It was once impossible to boo AJ, but with ease he's merged into a great heel in-ring.  He might do the occasional high spot, but that's not enough to take away this honor from him.Here's hoping to another run on top for AJ.  He deserves it more than most.#1. Beer Money, Inc./Motor City Machine GunsIt might seem like a copout, but the truth is who else deserves the honor and recognition as much?  Once upon a time the TNA tag division (along with it's X-Division) was considered one of the few things TNA did much better than WWE.Then it hit low after low it seemed, before the belts finally settled around the waists of Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, and Kevin Nash.Enter: Beer Money and the MCMG.  Together, these two teams revitalized not just tag team wrestling in TNA - but tag team wrestling in the mainstream.  While for over half a decade, ROH has been home to great tag team wrestling.  On the shoulders of these two teams, TNA can knock at the door and say: "We're #1 in that area now."  Some might disagree with that claim (myself included), but it's definitely a claim they can make.These two teams continued to impress in week in and week out in their numerous confrontations.  Things might change before '10 ends, but I still think at the end of the year these two teams will be carrying strong as the top workers in TNA.

Rave Ups: Complicated Shadows – The Life   Music of Elvis Costello

Rave Ups: Complicated Shadows – The Life Music of Elvis Costello

By Matt Moeller in Blog on September 3, 2010

This Biography on Elvis Costello was written by Brit music journalist Graeme Thomson and published in 2006.  Thomson is no stranger to the music biopic as he has written books on a couple of other luminaries such as Kate Bush and Willie Nelson.  He has also written for Esquire, MOJO, Maxim, Rolling Stone, and Time Out magazines. This book brought me along on a journey through Costello’s recorded output and shined a light on his background.  The book has its weaknesses just like any, in particular my major complaints would be it wasn’t detailed enough and it was a pretty straight chronological reporting of his life up to 2004.  The major setback for the author was his inability to land an interview with the subject of the biography.  Even though the book suffers from not getting some imput directly from “the horse’s mouth” per say, he does a pretty good job reconstructing Costello’s history through other source material.  He then very resourcefully and resoundingly relies upon interviews with the other characters in Costello’s life and the deep catalog of established interviews and other material published over Costello’s then 30 year career in the music business.  The author focuses quite a bit on Costello’s the countless live shows and tours he has ventured on throughout the years, and although the information is much appreciated it gets a little heavy when he brings up slight set list changes that happened between dates. The book very happily enlightened me to many aspects and happenings in Costello’s life.  I had always been a very cursory fan of Elvis since first hearing his music in the later 80′s, but I had become more and more interested after continuing to hear new and compelling compositions from him throughout the years.  Through this book I was able to re-experience his music from the beginning and give myself a depth of knowledge to what was going on in the background while all this wonderful music was being created and performed.  Among the aspects of Elvis’s life that gets a lot of coverage (much to his chagrin) is his romantic life.  From Elvis’s failed first marriage to Mary, to his high-profile affair with Bebe Buell, and beyond to his unofficial marriage to former Pogue Cait O’Riordan and finally up to date with his current wife jazz pianist Diana Krall.  Now, I’m totally understanding to his personal right to privacy in these matters but you have to understand that the friction from these relationships makes up the majority of the emotional backbone to his music. Other great focuses are his surprising influences (Country-Western), his professional relationship with Stiff Records co-founder and eventual manager Jake Riviera, his early public abrasive-ness including his bout with the media in 1979 after an incident in which a drunken Elvis uttered some offensive racial slurs to members of the Stephen Stills band. Overall in the face of a few short comings it is an insightful and enjoyable read which I would suggest to any one who considers themselves of Elvis Costello fan. Usually I would follow a book review up with a playlist to highlight the music covered in the book, but because of the wealth of great material I will be posting a series of playlists split by distinct eras.  Stay tuned.


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The Wrasslin' Top 5 #1: Invasion Angles

The Wrasslin' Top 5 #1: Invasion Angles

By syxxpakk in Blog on August 23, 2010


Temperance

Temperance

By David Bird in Blog on August 12, 2010

Writer: Cathy Malkasian, Artist: Cathy MalkasianPublished by Fantagraphics, 2010Temperance is an unusual book, but easiest enough to describe. Pa is the leader of a group of refugees, and he organizes them to build a walled community called Blessedbowl, in order to save them from the enemy. From the beginning we know this isn’t true. “Pa” is no ones father and there is no enemy. He is an abusive, angry, selfish man, who exploits his followers, isolating and abandoning them in the walls of Blessedbowl, which they are taught is a great ship floating on a sea of fire. This illusion is kept alive by a follower named Minerva, who feeds them stories of Pa’s great battles and of his need for them to keep ready for the great final battle. She keeps this story and community going for thirty long years.But what Temperance is about is far more difficult and interesting question. Malkansian was a successful animator before turning her hand to graphic novels and her first book, Percy Gloom, was nominated for an Eisner and won her the Russ Manning Award (the Eisner award for best newcomer). Her visual storytelling is very strong, unquestionably, but it was how she chose to tell her story that I found most interesting. Once walled in the city Minerva struggles to keep her husband Lester together, a hero to all, the reality of his past forgotten. Except when he drinks. Then half remembered events come back to haunt him. Temperance is the story of fear, the unity it fosters, the exploitation it can lead to, and what we will do to protect ourselves. How Pa came to be what he is, and exactly what he is, is left unsaid. Why people followed him is only implied. Rather than proscribe how we should react, Malkansian is confident enough to leave us enough space to interpret what we see ourselves, even if it doesn’t bring us to a pat conclusion. I myself am still wondering, for example, whether Penny and Minerva are meant to be the same person.A remarkable book.This blog has been syndicated from David Bird's Eponymous Blog.

Absolute Planetary Vol. 1 & 2

Absolute Planetary Vol. 1 & 2

By David Bird in Blog on July 29, 2010

Writer: Warren Ellis, Art: John Cassaday Published by DC/Wildstorm, 2011 I don’t know how many times I’ve read through Planetary. As the later issues were delayed, every time a new one was imminent, it was time to read them all through again. This week I read it through again. The occasion? The release of the new Absolute editions. The first volume was originally released five and a half years ago and was going for three hundred dollars or more. It was reprinted this month, thankfully, for the release of the second volume. Self-described archeologists, the Planetary group, led by Elijah Snow and his field team, Jakita Wagner, the Drummer, and Ambrose Chase, scours the world, searching for and saving its lost history. They’re not looking for Roman coliseums. They’re looking for secret cities in Africa, monster islands, Chinese ghosts, 19th century moon launches. A secret history of the world. Their enemy is the Four, a group led by Randall Dowling. The Four of made a Faustian bargain for control of this world and are closely following Snow, trying to steal away not only his finds, but all of humanity’s potential. Planetary is two things. First, it is a survey of the twentieth century’s popular culture. Comic books, pulps, B movies, radio dramas, and genre novels are all seamlessly integrated into one complete story. In that sense, Ellis and Cassaday are engaged in their own archeological adventure, digging through our heroes and archetypes. Second, it is a Wold Newton-like attempt to tie all these various stories into one broader story. The Wold Newton family was a creation of SF writer Philip Jose Farmer, tying together various popular and pulp characters together into a shared universe. Farmer did this by writing fictional biographies. Ellis does this by creating stand ins. He can’t use trademarked characters so instead of Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, for example, we get Alex Brass, who looks exactly like his pulp antecedent. I know these two things sound pretty much like the same thing, and they are closely related, but one speaks to intent and the other method. As a series Planetary has been almost universally praised. There are some who think that the second half isn’t as good as the first, but I don’t think that’s true. There is a shift in tone, certainly. The first half sets everything up in a series of stand alone stories. In the second, the stand alone stories are pushed back as the main story arc drives the series. It does have a different feel to it, but it’s not a drop in quality. Others have complained that the series epilogue was something of a let down. A techno-talkfest in which very little happens. Well… it was. But it was also written to clear up a plot point for the fans. Fans who would have complained if it hadn’t been written. The only problem that stood out to me was a trivia detail--Drummer refers to something that happened in the Adirondacks as having happened in the Rockies (these two mountain ranges are as far from one another as Southend-On-Sea is from Odessa)--but even I’m not that pedantic. Well, I guess I am, but I admit it’s trivial. Points for that, right? The Absolute editions themselves are beautiful. DC targets the collectors market with high quality, oversized hardcovers with dust jackets and slipcases. Both volumes are a little light when it comes to extras, and the crossover stories are not included, but the principle story is here in its entirety and Cassaday’s art, coloured by Martin, is really enhanced by this treatment. Absolute editions are not cheap. After taxes, these go for about a hundred each in Canada, but I paid half that by going online and looking for a good deal. If you have any interest, look for them now before someone is asking three times as much. This blog has been syndicated from David Bird's Eponymous Blog.

Honour Where Its Due

Honour Where Its Due

By David Bird in Blog on July 30, 2010

When Steve Gerber died a couple of years ago, the Eisners were on the horizon and I wondered why he wasn't in the Hall of Fame. I made a few inquiries, but eventually decided to file the whole thing away for next year. Well, a couple of years pass, my comics blogging has been in decline, but sometimes good things happen to good people and this year Gerber was inducted. The event, as live blogged by the Beat: The first winner is Steve Gerber, his daughter Samantha and writing partner Mary Skrenes accept. Steve was a wonderfully witty and intelligent guy who was interested in everything from ancient history to politics, says Skrenes,. “He read constantly blog and news feeds and comic books and watched the news. The only person he could have a real conversation with was Mark Evanier. Mark was a really good friend to Steve and now keeps Steve’s blog alive. Also, Billingham gave Steve a van when his beloved Subaru couldn’t be repaired any more.” She also thanks the Hero Initiative, which was a big help to Gerber in his last days. Samantha Gerber mentions that Mary has been there for her and she calls her all the time. Very touching. “My dad was a fabulous writer and what a genius he was and what he created. To me, he was just my dad, and that’s what I miss.” In--perhaps only marginaly--related news, Gil Kane's work is being celebrated in a new blog, Kingdom Kane. Well worth checking out. Kane himself was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 1997, three years before he died. I don't know why he isn't better known, or perhaps more widely celebrated. He was an incredibly influencial artist and was promoting the graphic novel concept as early as 1968. This blog has been syndicated from David Bird's Eponymous Blog.

Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures

By David Bird in Blog on July 2, 2010

Writer: Kathryn Immonen, Art: Stuart ImmonenPublished by Top Shelf, 2010Moving Pictures has moved from the Immonen’s website to a beautiful new paperback edition from Top Shelf. The story centers on an interrogation of Ila Gardner, a Canadian in Paris during the Second World War, by a German agent, Rolf Hauptmann. Throughout it readers are given a series of vignettes, illuminating Gardner’s life and her relationship to Hauptmann. Throughout the war Germany looted the rest of Europe, stealing its art treasures. She works for a French museum, cataloging and preserving works of art. He works for the German government, essentially cataloging and appropriating the same art.Some people have raised the question, what would a Canadian be doing, living free in France during the war? Canada joined the war against the Axis as soon as it started, and Allied countries interned their German citizens. Shouldn’t she be interned? Maybe the Germans would have interned her if she were in Germany, I don’t know, but as a citizen of an Allied country, living in another Allied country, what would be the point? Far more important is the fact that she has no papers. She gave them to another Canadian woman, who had lost her passport. Now Gardner is a non-person. Trapped. Uprooted. A reality mirrored in her fears and apprehensions: If the world can turn into this. If we can turn around and find entire schools full of children gone. Towns emptied overnight and no one saw a thing… Then tomorrow we may wake up and find the rain has ceased to fall and the wine has all gone sour and we do not recognize our own faces. If today is possible then anything is possible and nothing matters.Throughout the book Kathryn Immonen strives to capture that ambiguity, the efforts of a person trying to do what’s right when all of their touchstones have deserted them. Stuart Immonen’s art, on the other hand, is all sharp lines and contrasts, solid blacks and negative space. Yet he too brings out the story’s rich subtleties.I told someone, having read it online, that this book should make everyone’s ‘best of’ lists for 2010, and reading it again only confirms it. An early pacesetter for best of 2010.This blog has been syndicated from David Bird's Eponymous Blog.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on June 1, 2010

I am officially obsessed with this trailer and anticipating this movie's arrival! Next to Inception, this may be my most anticipated.The first trailer that was released a lil' while back...

Oh, The Horror! #52: Carnival of Souls

Oh, The Horror! #52: Carnival of Souls

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on May 31, 2010

I love this movie. I really really do. And I really appreciate it the more I see it and the more I think about it. I remember thinking this movie was just bizarre when I saw it the first time but the more I thought about it, the more I loved it. Carnival of Souls, directed by Herk Harvey in 1963, is a horror cult classic. It is a very low budget film, being filmed with the budget of $33,000 and without much use of special effects, it's really the atmosphere and the use of mood that really helps this film pop.The film follows a young woman named Mary Henry (Candace Hilligross). She mysteriously survived a car accident in which her friends all died when their car sunk in a river after a drag race. We get an indication that Mary has changed since the accident as she decides to leave town and become an organist for a church at Salk Lake City. It is through her travels that we start to see her dilemma: she starts seeing a creepy looking man staring at her. As the movie goes on, Mary finds herself going crazy when whatever turn she makes, this spooky looking man just keeps popping out and walking towards her. It also gets even stranger when Mary starts walking around and tries to interact with people but instead is ignored, people around her being unable to see or hear her.There isn't too much to say about the plot. It is a relatively simple story but Harvey, who also plays the spooky spectre dude, does a great job in building tension and using simplicity to actually get you uneasy. There's some wonderful scenes throughout the movie of the Man just looking at Mary, just standing simply next to her with a small smile on his face that is so effectively creepy that you just can't help but enjoy this film. The music also helps too. Now there are some errors in this film, that mostly being sound errors. There are times when Mary's fingers on the key boards of the piano doesn't match the music playing nor when she's running does the sound of the clicking heels match, but those small little ticks adds some weird charm to this already weird film. Man, do I love these creepy old black and white horror movies. I watch films like this and just get inspired.

Oh, The Horror! #51: The Strangers

Oh, The Horror! #51: The Strangers

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on May 17, 2010

This film being Bryan Bertino's first theatrical directorial prosper shows a ton of promise within the horror realm. The movie stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman (glad to see he's still getting some work) as a couple dealing with their relationship after James (Speedman) proposes to Kristen (Tyler) but sadly gets a rejection. The two drive off to their summer home where it is awkward between them. When things finally start to look a bit better for the two, there's a knock on the door. "Is Tamara home?" asks a young woman at the door. After being sent on her way, James' character decides to take a drive in order to clear his mind while Kristen's character stays at the house... but she's not alone. "Is Tamara home?" girl shows up again and is then followed by a creepy man wearing a mask quietly stalking Kristen in the house. There are little subtle moments that add to the creepiness of this wonderful scene. Before James left, Kristen mentions that she was out of cigarettes, no cigarette in sight for her to smoke. After James leaves, Kristen is noticeably tense and picks up a cigarette not realizing it wasn't there before, adding a slight bit of uneasiness watching. Things also start to be revealed to have been misplaced and you see that creepy man standing somewhere in the background, still like a statue. Yeesh. Definitely my favorite scene in this whole film. When Kristen starts to realize something is wrong, she calls James back home and soon after starts to get terrorized by three different strangers, all making it seem pretty clear they're out to kill her. When James finally returns, he's added into the danger when he finds his car smashed in, and phone missing, leaving the couple vulnerable.The performances of the lead cast I felt were very strong and really added a lot to the overall film. Bertino also has a wonderful idea on how to build up tension and creepiness extremely well, a craft that seems to be missing in a lot of horror these days. Bertino adds just a right bit of pace, music, sound effects, and jump scares that's easy to get someone uneasy. Despite everything that's going for it, the film falls flat. The story could be a lot better and although you're finding yourself tense and hoping the couple make it out in the end, you're left wondering to yourself, "What's the point of all this? Why am I watching this?" While the pace of specific scenes are superbly used, the overall pacing of the story seems very off and is a bit discouraging. It makes me think about how much I enjoyed Vacancy over this film.Overall, if you're interested in seeing specific tense rising scenes, Bertino's clearly shows he understands the craft. You can check it out for that. If you're looking forward to see a solid story, something that will shock and get into your head, I wouldn't recommend this. I will say, though, this film does a lot better job in actually scaring you than the recent Saw and Hostel films. While you can see this film as a slasher film and there is some gore, its the uneasiness that works well and places itself in a higher position that the torture-porn films with almost to no substance.

Inception Trailer

Inception Trailer

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on May 8, 2010

New Christopher Nolan!!!

Apologies and a Street Fighter Video

Apologies and a Street Fighter Video

By Greg Anderson-Elysee in Blog on May 8, 2010

Man, I haven't been keeping this blog up to date for quite some time! Apologies for some of my readers. I've been so damn busy with school this semester, especially due to one class where we had to put on a show where I played the Devil, mwahahahaaa!!! Boy was that a freakin' blast. Working with everyone on the ensemble was just a wonderful blessing. I plan to post some pics/videos here when I can.For now, I'll post this fan film Street Fighter video I just stumbled onto it. Bloody bleedin' awesome!

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