Friday, November 30, 2012

Daywalt Horror: Fridge Monster

Drew Daywalt is the creator behind some of the best Fewdio Horror videos. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of those short films. So when he started up his own Youtube channel, Daywalt Fear Factory, I had to check it out. Several of the videos on this channel are re-posts of the Fewdio stuff; but there’s quite a few new videos as well.

“Fridge Monster” works more in the set-up than in the pay-off. At a minute and a half, we’ve got the background and character well-established (once again, when the filmmakers know what they’re doing, it doesn’t take long to establish background and character). The actual reveal of the fridge monster is … not so impressive as what was set up. Also, and this is just a personal gripe of mine, it seemed just a bit gratuitous that the narrator was checking the refrigerator in her panties.

As always, filmmakers interested in developing tension in their work could benefit by studying the short films of Drew Daywalt. Check it out for yourself on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marvel Feature 6 review on Black Gate

My review for Marvel Feature 6 was posted to Black Gate today. Check it out and, as always, let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Back in the 1950s & 1960s (known in comics circles as the "Silver Age"), DC Comics' editor-in-chief, Julius Schwartz, liked to set up challenges for the writers. Basically, he'd have an artist create the craziest, most nonsensical cover he could imagine, then present the cover to the writer and say, "Make a story out of it." Batman is dressing up in a zebra costume. Jimmy Olsen is marrying a gorilla. Superman is Pope. Take the idea and run with it. In the 1970s, the books started getting more serious and more socially relevant. And while I love that era (the "Bronze Age"), it's kind of sad that so much of that playfulness was lost in the process.

Artist Yale Stewart has set up a tumblr site on what could have been a classic Silver Age cover concept: What if the members of  the Justice League had attended grade school together? Twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays), he posts a newspaper-style strip that follows the continuing adventures of eight-year-old superheroes. We watch young Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Power Girl going through Peanuts-style adventures and it honestly is better than anything you'll read in the "New 52" titles that have been clotting shelves this past year.

The most fascinating part of this strip is how Stewart is able to move between light comedy to genuine pathos and the occasional commentary on modern comics. An eight-year-old Power Girl trying to leave the house in a revealing outfit highlights the over-sexualization of female comic characters, as well as the motivations of young girls (often not much older than eight) who seek attention through such displays. Eight-year-old Batman's practiced indifference is both funny and touching when you realize this is a child coping with the loss of his parents. The Martian Manhunter is perfect as the foreign exchange student. And this version of Wonder Woman is simply one of the best renditions of a character who is strong, confident and compassionate.

Of course, there are plenty of in-jokes for long-time comic fans. The school bullies are all supervillains, led by a young Lex Luthor (who still has his hair and likes to wear it long). And there was that great moment when I figured out the joke about the bully wearing the red hoodie. The requisite sadistic phys ed instructor is Darkseid. And the home-room teacher is none other than Julius Schwartz.

You can check out the comic on the tumblr site and get updates by joining the Facebook page. Due to copyright laws, Yale Stewart can't actually package these strips into a print collection; but if you're just itching to hold this work in your hands, you can always request an art commission from him. Right now, he's doing this strip for free; but with any luck, he'll be working for one of the major publishers soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Marvel Feature 5 review on Black Gate

My review for Marvel Feature 5 was posted to Black Gate today. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fantasy - music video by DyE

Ah, for the days of Thriller. A wholesome teen romance with a werewolf, followed by a synchronized zombie dance number. Remember when that was the scariest music video in the world?

Now check out "Fantasy" by the performer DyE. The song's from the album Taki 183, produced by Tigersushi Records. It's a mellow bit of electronica that doesn't overwhelm you so much as subtly work its magic on you. And the storyline of the video is almost as wholesome as Thriller. Four teens (two boys and two girls) break into a swimming pool one night to go skinny dipping. Not G-rated fare, but it's the sort of rite of passage we all went through growing up, like having your first beer or sneaking into an R-rated movie. The sort of wholesome transgression that's expected and actually kind of healthy.

Well, that only runs for one minute and forty-five seconds. Then the sick stuff starts. And your first guess is wrong. Way wrong. And no matter how bad you think it's going to get, that unholy sunrise is worse than anything you thought you were going to see walking into this show.

The video is Not Safe For Work (NSFW) and Not Safe For Just-Before-Bedtime Viewing (NSFJBBV?). Thus warned, check it out on Youtube. If you like the music, check out DyE's Facebook page or just pick up a copy of Taki 183 at Tigersushi.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marvel Feature 4 review on Black Gate

Continuing with my Red Sonja reviews, I've posted my comments about Marvel Feature 4 on Black Gate today.

Friday, November 9, 2012

One-Minute Weird Tales: Chainsaw

Four years back, Weird Tales began an experiment in short story presentation. Writers were asked to submit stories of approximately one-hundred words. These stories would be presented in short, one-minute videos, one text block at a time, with an appropriate soundtrack in the background. The results were a collection of sometimes funny, sometimes creepy micro-stories. It’s been over a year since the last of these One Minute Weird Tales was presented, but they’re all still available to view online.

The series began with “Chainsaw,” a list of chores written by J.M. McDermott. Your first guess about the plot is wrong, in that this is no tired re-telling about a mass-murdering maniac. There are clues scattered throughout and a sense of mystery is built in a matter of seconds. The final reveal comes in the fact that “Chainsaw” is not the real title of the story.

J.M. McDermott does a wonderful job of revealing plot and character in a very limited format. This was the video that Weird Tales used as an example for curious writers trying to get an idea of what they wanted in future submissions. So this is, in many ways, the seed from which all the future stories were grown.

You can check out the video and learn more about the series at Weird Tales. If you want to read more of McDermott’s work, you can check out his web site, blog and Amazon page.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Marvel Feature 3 review on Black Gate

I posted my review of Marvel Feature 3 on Black Gate yesterday. As always, let me know what you think.

Friday, November 2, 2012


So that’s it: the entire Fewdio catalog.

Moving forward, I can’t rationally commit to a daily blog posting; but I do plan to post a short film review at least once a week. There’s a lot of short films being made available online (such as the work of Fewdio alumnist Drew Daywalt and his channel, Daywalt Fear Factory). A brief search of Youtube for short horror films yielded seventy-five videos, currently stored in my Watch Later queue. As I go through them, I’ll put together brief reviews to be posted on a quasi-regular basis. There’s a lot of work out there that’s deserving of a greater audience and I’ll just do my little part to draw your attention to these hidden gems.

Thanks for following these reviews and make sure to check back regularly.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

FEWDIO Horror: The Tap

And to wrap up the Fewdio reviews, I found an extra film on the Fewdio site that isn’t on Youtube. My guess is that it has to do with the nude scenes sprinkled throughout, even though the Fewdio site version blurs it all out. I suppose I could write a post or two about why so many people feel perfectly comfortable showing scenes of graphic violence, but not nudity (not even sex, just nudity).

As a long-time fan of William S. Burroughs, I appreciated this story about a young man who stumbles on a new high with a terrible price. Frankly, I don’t know why the producers even placed the nudity in this film, since it doesn’t really add anything to the story. There’s a nice Naked Lunch moment (“a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork”) and we know enough about the main character to understand his reluctance to try the Tap. But in the end, it’s another predictable reversal of fortune.

As always, you can check it out on Fewdio. And if you want to support the people who make these films, consider picking up the DVD collection, Nightmare House.