By Brian M. Sammons
The purpose of Hidden Horrors is to highlight things in horror entertainment that fans might otherwise miss, overlook, or simply never hear about. Everything mentioned in this column gets my seal of approval just by being here and should be sought out. I will try to run the gambit of horror goodies, ferreting out the most obscure items and those things so good that I think any horror fan would love. You’ll never know what you’ll find here, so with that in mind let’s start off with something often overlooked, you ears. Yes, this month it’s all about spooktastic sounds. No aural atrocities are these, but ear candy for the fright fans. And since it’s always good to start things off with a laugh, let us begin with…
Almost twenty years ago (man typing that makes me feel old) was the debut of a great TV show called MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? If not…for shame! It was, and still is, awesome. A man and his two robot palls would watch bad old movies and make fun of them in real time as the movie was playing. MST3K (as we fans called it) ran for nine years before it was cruelly, and in my opinion wrongly, canceled. At the time we MSTies thought that was the end of it, that never again would we have the hilarious riffs that made bad movies somewhat watchable. Thankfully two things happened to make that not the case. The first was the internet and the second was the invention and widespread use of iPods. Because of those two things, three of the original writers and cast of MST3K got back together and started riffing on new movies, offering their audio tracks for download for a modest fee so that they could be played while watching a movie on DVD. And thus, Rifftrax.com, the place to go for these side-splitting audio files, was born.
As things took off for Rifftrax, others took notice and soon wanted to try doing their own riffs of their own favorite flicks. The original Rifftrax guys allowed many of these up and comers to sell their wares on their site for maximum exposure and now there are many riffers tearing down and cracking up movies of all sorts. However one of the best of the independent riff makers is Hor-RIFF-ic Productions and they exclusively cover, what else, horror movies. But perhaps “cover” isn’t the right word. Fillet? Tear down? Rip apart? Whatever the word, they do so with love and hilarity and honestly, some of the movies they zero in on are just asking for it. Yes I’m looking at you, THE STUFF.
Hor-RIFF-ic Productions is the satanic offspring of husband and wife team Gary and Erin Slasher. As of this writing they have riffed on an even dozen fright films. Their first was FRIDAY THE 13TH and their latest was HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Along the way they’ve covered everything from mainstream horror hits like POLTERGEIST to cult classics like the previously mentioned THE STUFF (for those that don’t know, THE STUFF is a film about evil, killer yogurt. No, I’m not kidding about that). From CHILDREN OF THE CORN to MY BLOODY VALENTINE and all things in between, Erin and Gary have covered all of these films hilariously. They make well loved movies even better and make bad flicks (ok this time I’ll not give in to the temptation to call out THE STUFF yet again) watchable. My personal favorites of theirs are their ongoing coverage of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series. They’ve done the first three so far and a little birdie told me that part four will soon be out.
If you would like to add some funny to your favorite fright flick then I cannot recommend Hor-RIFF-ic Productions enough. You can find their riffs on Rifftrax.com or at myspace.com/hor_riff_ic. However you wish to do it, get these audio tracks toady and be prepared to have for fiendish funny bone tickled. Oh, and if you don’t happen to own a particular movie that they’re riffing on, I suggest your local, friendly, neighborhood video store or the fine folks at Netflix.com. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
Check them out here: http://www.rifftrax.com/iriffs/hor-riff-ic-productions
Today there are many horror podcasts out there to choose from and it’s sad to say but most are not very good. However one of the best is also one of the first, or the first according to its creators. I’m talking about DEADPIT RADIO, an informative and entertaining weekly show from a rather unlikely duo. Two self-described hillbillies from Kentucky, the Creepy Kentuckian and Uncle Bill, are the creators of DEADPIT. Nearly every Friday for over three years now they have dutifully been putting out a podcasts about all things horror. Best of all, the shows are absolutely free. When you figure that’s roughly fifty-two shows a year for over three years that’s a whole lot of something for nothing. That alone gets these two guys tons of thanks from me, but the fact that their shows are constantly good even after all this time is just short of amazing.
The DEADPIT shows usually run in excess of two hours and are jam packed with all sorts of horror goodness. They report on horror movie news, highlight upcoming releases, and at the end of every episode usually review two or more new releases on DVD or Blu-ray. They also take calls and answer email questions from their fans. Each show usually has a theme at its center, such as discussing the works of a specific horror director or reminiscing on a particular year and the horror movies that came out at that time. More often than not the highlight of the weekly show is an interview and this is where DEADPIT really shines. They have had amazing interviews with huge horror names like John Carpenter, George Romero, and Tom Savini and have talked to some lesser know, but still influential, fright film makers like Fred Vogel, Kevin Tenney, and Don Edmonds. They’ve interviewed scream queens such as Adrienne Barbeau, PJ Soles, Debbie Rochon, and Dee Wallace and talked to cult favorite actors like Bill Moseley, Lou Perryman, and Angus Scrimm. To simply put things, if someone is involved in making horror movies and these guys can talk to them, they will talk to them.
However I feel that I must give a word of warning about DEADPIT. CK and UB, as they are fondly known as by their fans, are as real and authentic as it gets. Now this is a good thing, but it also means that they are completely uninhibited and uncensored and therein lays the only possible problem listeners may have with the show. The two are young guys that grew up together watching horror films and because of that they joke around a lot. By “a lot” I mean all the time. And while they are often funny as hell, some of their humor comes off as immature, gross, or nasty. Worst yet, it sometimes borders on being sexist, raciest, or homophobic. Now I don’t have a problem with that for the most part, unless they take things to extreme, which they sometimes do. I can say that because I don’t think they are truly hateful, I think they’re just not politically correct in any way, shape or form and honestly that can sometimes be refreshing. However I can easily see some people being offended by their humor. If you think you might be someone like that then you should enter the PIT a little cautiously.
Be that as it may, I must say that DEADPIT is the best horror podcast that I’ve ever heard and the only one that I still make sure not to miss. Their interviews are always top notch and their horror news is spot on. For those two things alone this show is worth the price of admission, which again is FREE! So barring your feelings getting hurt by their humor, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be listing to DEADPIT RADIO every Friday night. You can download their latest offering, as well as get access to their huge show archives, at Deadpit.com.
The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I enjoy good punk rock music. And living in Michigan, I’ve known quite a few Canadians and I like them to. Hell, they have hockey, good beer, beautiful woman, and it always makes me giggle to hear them say “about” so what’s not to like? So now imagine these three things; Lovecraft, punk, and Canadians coming together in one perfect storm of insane goodness. Impossible, you might say. Well you’d be wrong because thankfully for us all there’s THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS. Listen to me now and you will come to know the THICKETS and you will come to know awe!
It was many years ago when I first heard of the THICKETS. A fellow Cthulhu cultist buddy of mine turned me on to them. The CD was CTHULHU STRIKES BACK and with songs like “Goin’ Down To Dunwich” and “Shoggoths Away”, a little tune about dropping the amorphous alien abominations onto unsuspecting people from the belly of a B-17 bomber, I was immediately hooked. I mean here was punk rock group, that while not all about Lovecraft’s work, made it clear that they were huge fans of it.
Next came the LET SLEEPIGN GODS LIE CD and that was more of a reissue of some of their older songs but again, very heavy with the Lovecraft. Hell, copies were even released with the CALL OF CTHULHU role playing game. So once again I was a happy little cultist. But then some years later I heard about their next album and I was all set for disappointment. After all, it was SPACESHIP ZERO and it had only a few overtly Cthulhu inspired songs on it. I was sure that my beloved THICKTS had sold out, but damn was I wrong. That’s when I learned that these boys could play! I mean I was jamming to the CD I was all set to hate; if that’s not proof that they rock I don’t know what is. The THICKETS’s newest album is a return to their Lovecraft roots (not that they really left them) and is THE SHADOW OUT OF TIM. If I need to explain the humor in that title, then you need to read more H.P. Lovecraft.
THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS play catchy, groove-heavy, funny music. Almost nothing is serious with these guys, and with all the whiney, emo, “life sucks” groups out there, that’s a nice change of pace. I would recommend them to anyone that likes tongue-in-cheek punk music, and if you’re a Cthulhu fan then you simply must get them now. If you’re interested in starting to lose your sanity with the THICKEST you can do so at Thickets.net. Or you can buy their unreleased song “Shhh…” for the video game; ROCKBAND. Wow, a THICKETS song on a major video game, surely the Stars are about to become Right!
--Brian M. Sammons