We’ll have more info soon, but very excited to report that Part 3 of the award winning Takers will be out to buy on Monday 20th June 2013. The Eyeball has just received this lovely preview image of the cover from Plotfish Press and we can’t wait to get our yellowed little Eyeball teeth into it. (Yes, Eyeballs have teeth…this one does anyway).
At the Eyeball we have a soft spot for Doctor Who, even though the increasingly convoluted plots and two Doctors on a perpetual sugar rush have led to more of a ‘dipping in’ strategy when it came to actually watching it.
However, once we heard that a certain horror icon was guest starring, we tuned in this time. We won’t spoil who that was here, as the whole internet can tell you what happened – or watch it on the BBC iPlayer if you can. The episode was stronger than earlier ones with a leisurely start that perfectly laid out what was at stake, with an impressive group of female heroes setting the scene.
But what we’ve come to comment on were the gloriously nasty new monsters known as the Whisper Men.
The Whisper Men are sinister henchmen for an ongoing Big Bad, played with sneery superiority by Richard E Grant. Incidentally, wasn’t Grant a former Doctor in a parody or web cartoon version? He keeps the Whisper Men around and has a nifty trick of morphing his consciousness into them if one of him gets destroyed. There’s a reveal of this that’s rather like The Invisible Man, revealing only hollow air inside his face before taking over another Whisper Man. Shudder.
So what else is impressive about them? If they stick around we hope they’ll do more, but they did manage a fair amount of menace in this one appearance:
- Cadaverous, sharklike grins.
- Those broad top hats, undertaker chic taken to extremes.
- Faceless monsters. Can they see you, or are they just gonna sniff you out?
- Their whispering nature. They seem to stalk you with words as well as appearances.
- They can also reach into your chest and stop your heart on a whim. Yuk.
- They can corner the Doctor!
- The way they morph into Richard E Grant and look vaguely annoyed by the process.
- The pale faced, towering humanoid is a foolproof horror classic, going right back to Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.
The Haunted Eyeball figures that this makes a change from referencing Daleks and Cybermen when it comes to Doctor Who. Also, we’re quite looking forward to when the show returns at the end of November 2013. Please, writers of Who, cut down on the sugar for once, and it might even be watchable, just like this one.
We were all saddened to hear that Ray Harryhausen had passed away last week, and here on the Eyeball we’d like to pay homage to some of his most famous monsters, created with the painstaking technique of stop-motion. Using real life sculpted models. Animators and monster fans, we have lost a great artist in film-making and the Eyeball would like to dedicate this Monster Monday entirely to him.
However, the great man left us many fantastic beasts to choose from. After a brief Twitter poll earlier today, and a little searching on YouTube, the top Harryhausen monster, the Eyeball has decided that the finest creation of them all are, unquestionably, the relentless animated skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts (1966).
Technically outstanding even today, the only way our hero can even escape them is by throwing himself off a cliff! They dispatch Jason’s two companions with leering grins on their faces. These meatless monsters really love their job.
Why do they work so well?
- The leering grins and mocking squint of their hollow eyes.
- That synchronized stalking movement, like a hideously emaciated boyband.
- Superb swordsmanship.
- They repeatedly get knocked down by the Greek heroes, but boy do they get up again. And again.
Also, on a meta note, the design of these frightening warriors has been borrowed in numerous films ever since.
They lurk within the gleefully evil faces of the Martians in Mars Attacks (1997).
They inspired Sam Raimi to more or less do his own stop motion version, with a ferocious Deadite army, in the sublimely silly Army of Darkness (1993).
The bar in Pixar’s Monsters Inc (20001) is sort of a shout-out, if by ‘shout-out’ you mean ‘foghorn announcement’.
And finally…’ wouldn’t it be cool if the 300 (2005) Spartans had faced THESE guys instead of the so-called ‘Immortals’? (Well, c’mon, wouldn’t it….? Walks off muttering about Watchmen…)
So, the skeleton warriors were highly inspirational, technically incredible, and the entire scene still holds its own today, amidst a tidal wave of flashy CGI gods and monsters and, er, remakes. They’re elegant and deadly, and that’s how the Eyeball likes its monsters.
And good gods, they’re mean little bastards.
And so, Ray Harryhausen, we on the Haunted Eyeball salute you. You lived an amazing life, brought many crazy mythological creatures to life and inspired generations of Rest in Peace.
A superb video here featuring every one of Harryhausen’s marvelous monsters
Also, the owl was cool.
Cabal was written in what could be termed the original ‘heyday’ of Clive Barker’s horror reign. Clive Barker is best known for the tricksy Cenobites and the ruthless Candyman, but Cabal presented a brilliantly realised clutch of monsters who were actually the victims and living as refugees from the harsh prejudices of the modern world. With their numbers depleted, the monsters took shelter underground, in the appropriately named graveyard of Midian, in an effort to avoid further destruction from frightened humans. Although you would be a fool if you weren’t a little afraid of the creatures, the point is that the world is a poorer place without their glorious strangeness. It’s a bit like angle taken later by the X-Men movies, only a lot more visceral.
The essence of Cabal’s story was adapted into the movie Nightbreed, the new title which is actually a collective term for the monsters. A ‘troubled young man’™ named Boon is gradually drawn to their hiding spot through a series of strange dreams, and his psychiatrist (played with cool creepiness by director David Cronenberg) seems to be hiding some rather dark secrets of his own. The ancient secrets of Midian will soon be revealed to a terrified human populace, but who is truly monstrous is up for some debate.
When Nightbreed was first screened in 1990, it was heavily mutilated by the studios, and rumours proliferated of a more extensive, intelligent, and downright better cut that was a bit more faithful to the book. This ‘Cabal Cut’ was finally glimpsed at Frightfest London in 2012 and other screenings can be tracked down here.
Now, the wonderful website following the re-released cut, Occupy Midian, continues to post information about this elusive beast. Until Nightbreed’s better self gets released in its full glory on blu-ray and DVD, it’s well worth looking out for a screening of this cut at a film festival.
The Eyeball is keeping its lashes crossed that soon the Cabal Cut will pop up in the UK again – and is still annoyed about missing it at Frightfest last year. Until the Cabal Cut is made widely available, there’s still an uncut Region 1 DVD of the 1990 version out there, and the book to enjoy. But do check out the movie. Monsters are awesome. Midian is waiting.
First of all, thank you to Mike at the Lovecraft ezine for sending this to my inbox. Thanks for sleepless nights. Really.
The Lord of Tears is coming soon, a ‘low budget horror’ directed by Lawrie Brewster, also involving David Schofield, a veteran genre actor and craggy faced genre favourite from American Werewolf In London among many, many others.
Funded by Kickstarter, this has the potential to be extremely effective. A man in the Scottish Highlands is menaced by a childhood terror, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Slenderman, which they have, improbably, made even scarier.
This is a monster that really shouldn’t be that scary. It utililises the dread horror of the Slenderman, and yes, the Slenderman is already pretty unnerving. It’s the internet boogeyman meme that just won’t die, that’s bad enough.
But then, egad, it makes it worse. So much worse. The trailer creates a terrific sense of dread and atmosphere.
And what’s so scary about owls? Really?
OK, then imagine yourself in your own dark hallway, or in the centre of town on a Friday night out, and what do you see peering out at you, from the end of that dark hallway, or from a shop window reflecting the night back at you?
This. This monster is what you see.
Hope you’re also going to be pre-ordering the blu ray, with all the goodies, and enjoying this on its release in July 2013. If not, look out for the review on this site in the summer.
Thanks for the nightmares, you wonderful filmmakers. And for the rest of you horror fans – enjoy….if you dare.