Tag Archives: Horror

Monsterama Convention: Atlanta – 1-3 August

PRESS RELEASE:

monsterama_logo

MONSTERAMA –Atlanta’s new convention celebrating classic horror and the fantastic—has already announced an exciting list of guests representing an interesting cross-section of film, literature, and art experiences and is preparing to welcome guests who enjoy horror and the fantastic. In its first year, Monsterama is already causing a great deal of excitement because of the depth of horror and the fantastic that will be provided for the fans to create the best entertainment experience possible. Taking place August 1-3 at the Holiday Inn Select on Chamblee Dunwoody Road in Atlanta, Monsterama promises to be an exciting addition to the Atlanta convention scene.

“By classic horror,” says media programming director Derek Tatum, “we are talking about the Universal Monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as classic 1950s monster and horror movies, and 1960s-‘70s Hammer gothic horror films from England and beyond. Our emphasis will not be on zombies and slasher films, but we will be discussing them.”

Currently there are over twenty guests announced for Monsterama. Headlining appearances include horror film star Veronica Carlson (Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, The Horror of Frankenstein), director, writer, and actor Larry Blamire (Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Dark and Stormy Night, Steam Wars), and Victoria Price (daughter of horror legend Vincent Price). Joining them will be directors Jeff Burr (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) and Robert Tinnell (Frankenstein and Me). Authors this year include New York Times bestseller Brian Keene (The Rising) and James Tuck (creator of the Deacon Chalk series). Scott Tepperman, from Syfy’s Ghost Hunter’s International series , has just been added to the guest list.

Local Atlanta talents are strongly represented in the Monsterama Guest List: Voice actor and pop culture maven, C. Martin Croker (The Brak Show); Horror Event host and make-up expert Shane Morton (Professore Morte); renowned book and magazine cover artist Mark Maddox; and local comedy troupe Cineprov. “We are bringing in guests from around the country,” said convention chair Anthony Taylor, himself an expert on horror and science fiction film, “but we are also very proud to have so much local Atlanta talent at Monsterama’s first convention.”

In addition to celebrities, artists, and authors, Monsterama features screenings of classic horror movies on 16 mm film, makeup and costuming demonstrations, panel discussions, and performances.

“We’re very pleased to be working with the Holiday Inn Select Atlanta-Perimeter / Dunwoody. This location is known for being home to many great genre conventions in Atlanta, and it’s a great spot to launch Monsterama.” According to Media Relations Director, Dan Carroll, “Rooms for up to four people are just $89.95 per night and are available from the Monsterama website.”

What: Monsterama, Atlanta’s Classic Horror Convention
When: August 1-3, 2014
Where: HOLIDAY INN SELECT
4386 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30341

For more information, check out the official website and follow the convention on Twitter!

Horror in Star Wars: A scare is not so far, far away

To quote author Douglas Winter, “Horror is not a genre…Horror is an emotion.”

Star Wars generally categorized as Space Opera specifically or as Science Fiction more generally doesn’t fit what one would consider as horror. The expansion of the Star Wars universe in various forms has allowed for many storytellers and artists to make their own contributions to the Star Wars story. One of the more unique developments of this expansion is the rise of the horrific elements in Star Wars that have elicited plenty of screams from fandom.

In the films:

The nature of the stories that George Lucas was telling, based on the structure of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey,” combined with the setting of the films make clear that the six Star Wars films are not horror films.  It is interesting to note however that there are some commonalities in these films and horror films that come out of shared themes and character archetypes.  Many of these themes flow out of old folk lore, legend and the belief in the supernatural.

The Force is often discussed in terms of it’s relationship with religion and spirituality, but it also carries with it the influence of the universal belief in magic.  This concept of magic is evident in both the Jedi and Sith use of the Force.  The ability to supernaturally attack your opponent in particular marks the Sith as a group of characters who could easily be cast as the villains of a horror film.  After all, in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine looks very much the image of an evil withered witch.

Darth Vader is interesting on many levels, but in some ways I wonder if he set the template for a subset of horror film villains   In the films, Vader is relentless and methodical, a driven instrument to enforce the Emperor’s malicious will. Vader enormous size, his armor, his breathing and his supernatural powers create a very formidable and scary character.  In many ways he reminds me of Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise and to a lesser extent Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise.

Of course the visual smorgasbord that is the Star Wars films also provides us with a vast array of aliens and monsters that could be characters recycled from a Hollywood horror film’s prop department, and some where.  From the wolfman and devil in the Cantina, to the Wompa, Space Slug, Sarlacc, and Rancor, monsters and Star Wars goes hand in hand. These aliens and monsters are used to create emotion, fear, anxiety and tension both in the viewer and in our heroes.

On the small screen:

The Clone Wars animated series has allowed George Lucas, Dave Filoni and their creative team to experiment and try telling different kinds of Star Wars stories.  The series has oscillated between dramatic and lighthearted, two particular story arcs stand out to me. As borrowing heavily from the horror genre.  In season two, the Republic attacked Geonosis in episodes 2.05-2.08. The final two of these episodes entitled “Legacy of Terror” and “Brain Invaders” featured parasitic brain worms that could either be used to control undead Geonosian warriors or to take over the conscious will of a living person.

From The Clone Wars: Massacre (4.19)

The introduction of the Nightsisters of Dathomir and the head of their coven Mother Talzin, drew upon an existing Expanded Universe group of characters and infused them with a much more traditional brand witchcraft flavor. On Dathomir we also saw that the Geonosians were not the only ones with undead warriors, as the Nightsister’s magic created their own brand of witch-zombie warriors.

On the printed page:

I have always enjoyed Star Wars as told on the written page.  Between the unlimited special effects budget that is my imagination and the expanded storytelling opportunities that are provided in novels, it was Star Wars books that took my fandom to another level.

Just as we have seen with TCW, we have seen Star Wars publishing under the direction of Lucasbooks and Del Rey expand Star Wars story telling into the horror genre.  This trend is clearest in the works of two authors who approach the genre in different ways.  We have author Joe Schreiber and his novels Death Troopers (2009) and Red Harvest (2010). These novels take the Star Wars universe and use it as a back drop to tell zombie stories.  Death Troopers tells the tale of  a virus that is released on an Imperial prison bardge and in classic horror fashion, the fight to survive of a small group aboard the ship against the horde of zombies.  Red Harvest is a prequel to Death Troopers and tells the story of the origin of the zombie creating virus as part of a twisted experiment at the Sith Academy on the planet Odacer-Faustin.

It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time that Star Wars has tried this sort of explicit horror storytelling. In 1997-98 author John Whitman wrote a series of twelve young readers novels in the series titled, “Galaxy of Fear.”

Kell Douro and Jaden Korr by Chris Scalf

The other author that I feel has brought elements of horror storytelling into Star Wars to a strong degree is Paul S. Kemp.  Kemp may be best known for his fantasy work and he has a decidedly dark and brutal flavor way of telling a story.  Kemp has written two Jaden Korr novels, Crosscurrent (2010) and Riptide (2011). In Crosscurrent we meet Kell Douro, a Force-sensitive Anzat who has feeding appendages that sprout from his face and invade the cranial orrificaes of his victims. Douro then proceeds to consume his victims brain or “soup” as he calls it. We also are introduced to a New Republic era Imperial cloning lab that has been overrun and destroyed by the crazy clones that resulted of mixing the DNA of various Jedi and Sith together.

In Riptide we have the return of the insane clones and the introduction of the sentient Rakatan space station “Mother.”  Riptide has a very survival horror feel to it, and is a great example how using the darkness and suspense of the horror genre in other genres can enhance a story. This approach also can be seen to some extent in Troy Denning’s Dark Nest Trilogy, where the giant bugs not only illicit an instinctual repulsion and fear, but there is also the issue of the loss of indivdual will to the hive mind.  This theme of losing the ability to think for yourself is common in horror films.

Conclusions:

Star Wars is an amazing broad storytelling universe and this Halloween if you are looking for a good scare sit down by the TV or dust off a book and you may just find what you’re looking for.

-Peter Morrison (@PeteMorrisonLR)

An unabashed Star Wars fanatic, Peter is the creator of LightsaberRattling.com, his love of the galaxy far, far away is only rivaled by his obsession with the Red Sox. His words are his lightsabers, watch out or you may lose a limb.