Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Revenants Poster

We now have a graphic for our upcoming zombie play, The Revenants, by Scott T. Barsotti. The show opens April 20th, 2009 at the Angel Island Theater in Chicago. This intimate, dare I say, claustrophobic production will be directed by WildClaw company member, Anne Adams.

Poster by Charlie Athanas

Friday, December 26, 2008

Top Ten Holiday-Themed Horror Movies

Courtesy of our own Dr. AC. Feel free to rate, berate, and second-guess.

This groundbreaking proto-slasher, produced four years before John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, focuses on an escaped maniac taking refuge in the attic of the local sorority house. With stars Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon and Keir Dullea, it’s a terrific mix of well-realized characters and stylish sequences of suspense and terror. Director Bob Clark would later helm the more family friendly holiday classic, A CHRISTMAS STORY.

This ill-advised remake follows the modern trend of providing a ludicrous backstory for its crazies, with the results being an exercise is unpleasant splatter without a fraction of the original’s intelligence or wit. Andrea Martin, who played one of the sorority sisters in the 1974 classic, returns as the house mother this time around.

Writer/director Lewis Jackson’s low budget holiday card to the masses features Brandon Maggart as a mentally unstable toy factory worker who loves Christmas so much, he keeps a “Naughty and Nice” book and come the Yuletide season, he dons his suit of red and proceeds to paint the town the same color.

Highly influential British horror anthology (the first of its kind, in fact) is best known for its closing sequence with ventriloquist Michael Redgrave matching wits with his dummy, but there’s also a dandy Christmas ghost tale that will send a shiver down your spine.

In a twist, rather than a psycho in a Santa suit, this English slasher flick features a serial killer who is targeting the jolly elf himself, or at least anyone dressed like him. If you ever harbored ill will toward a department store Santa for some traumatic childhood shopping mall experience, this is the film for you.

Joe Dante’s instant classic features the cute fuzzy Mogwai, who must be kept away from water, out of the sunlight and never, ever fed after midnight. When these rules are inevitably broken, they multiply and become the malevolent reptilian “Gremlins” who set about bringing Zach Galligan’s small town to its knees, cackling all the while. Terrific creature design (Chris Walas, who would win an Oscar for David Cronenberg’s THE FLY in two years) combined with Chris Columbus’ razor sharp black comic script make this one for the ages. Phoebe Cates’ chimney monologue haunts us still.

A killer snowman movie? Yep. Haven’t seen this one personally, but here’s the plot summary from IMDb: “A serial killer is genetically mutated in car wreck on the way to his execution. After which, he becomes a murdering snowman hell-bent on revenge for the sheriff who caught him.” The film’s tagline? “He’s chillin’ and killin’.” Niiiiiice.

During an L.A. New Year's Eve concert broadcast, "First Lady of Rock n' Roll" Roz Kelly ("Pinky Tuscadero" from HAPPY DAYS!) gets a phone call saying that when New Year's strikes in each time zone, someone will be murdered--and she will be the last one. Sadly, it's not nearly as much fun as it sounds, the acting is pretty awful, and the whole thing is padded out with exhaustingly lame musical numbers.

Masterful fantasy film from producer Tim Burton (who also provided the screen story) and director Henry Selick . Through wondrous stop-motion animation, the tale is spun of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who inadvertently discovers ChristmasTown but seems a little unclear on the concept. Simply sublime.

P2 (2007)
A businesswoman (Rachel Nichols) is pursued by a psychopath (AMERICAN BEAUTY’S Wes Bentley) after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve. Slickly made, so-so thriller.

Genre fave Debbie Rochon plays a scream queen (now that’s casting!) with a couple of problems: her marriage is falling apart and her nice guy next-door is obsessed with her and eventually begins dressing up like Santa Claus and killing people with a claw.

Pro wrestler-turned-actor Bill Goldberg plays a killer Santa in this farcical black comedy starring every B-and-C lister available for a cameo, including Dave Thomas, Chris Kattan, Fran Drescher, Rebecca Gayheart, and Robert Culp. Worth watching for the first five minutes, which are a lot of fun, but quickly loses steam.

This underrated atmospheric chiller starring Patrick O’Neal, Mary Woronov and horror icon John Carradine lacks the polish of Bob Clark’s BLACK CHRISTMAS, but does share several similarities (menacing phone calls, decent body count). Worth checking out, and available on many of the bargain basement multi-packs.

The film’s notorious ad campaign is the stuff of legend. The movie itself? ‘S okay. After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior. In one of the most memorable sequences, oft-topless scream queen Linnea Quigley shows off her bountiful assets before being impaled on a set of antlers.

Followed by four sequels, only the first two of which carry on the Killer Santy storyline in any fashion whatsoever. The first follow-up, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987), utilizes a highly exorbitant amount of flashback footage from the original - nearly half its running time!




Haven’t seen any of these yet, although the last of these stars none other than Mickey Rooney. Now that’s scary.

One of the best Amicus anthologies kicks off with “All Through the House,” a story about a spouse-murdering Joan Collins being terrorized by an escaped lunatic in a Santa suit on Christmas Eve. Talk about being ahead of your time.

Rare as all get out, this low budget effort bears the dubious honor of being one of the first Santa Claus slashers and features David Hess (star of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) in the director’s chair.

Monday, December 22, 2008

L. A. Banks Madame Isis Sword Contest

Damali Richard's Madame Isis Vampire-Killing Sword

You can own Damali Richard’s Madame Isis shero sword. The Devil’s Candy Store is holding an essay contest that will be judged by L. A. Banks. The winner will receive the Madame Isis sword created by Hollywood armourer, Tony Swatton (a $6,000 value).

Originally to be offered at auction, this gold-plated, gem-encrusted, one-of-a-kind vampire-killing sword will end up in the hands of the Vampire Huntress Legend most deserving fan. The winner will be presented with the Madame Isis sword on Saturday, February 14, 2009 during the Twelve Tribes Convergence Summit in Philadelphia, PA.

Here is the contest:
1. Write a one page essay that answers these questions:
a. Which major themes in the Vampire Huntress Legend series resonated with you?
b. Why will you make the best "Keeper of the Sword"?
2. The font size must be no smaller than 12 point.
3. No more than 600 words.
4. Any entry not meeting the criteria will be disqualified.
5. Entries must be by e-mailed to by midnight, January 31, 2009.

Contest Small Print (Please read):
- Applicants must be age 21 or over, as this sword can be considered a weapon.
- All essays will be passed on to L. A. Banks without names attached to allow the best essay to win on it’s own merits.
- Armourer Tony Swatton, The Devil's Candy Store, L.A. Banks are not responsible in any way for any injury sustained in the future by the sword.
- Armourer Tony Swatton, The Devil's Candy Store, L.A. Banks are not responsible for any future repairs of the Madame Isis Sword and/or its case.
- The deadline for receipt of your essay is midnight on January 31, 2009.
- This contest is sponsored by The Devil's Candy Store and in accordance with the wishes of author and creator L.A. Banks.
- Only one entry per person is accepted. - The winner need not be present.
- The prize is as stated and there will be no exchanges of prizes given.
- The Devil's Candy Store, L.A. Banks, and the L.A. Banks Street Team all have the right to post the winning entry and winner's image on any promotional materials, printed material, YouTube, and on all L.A. Banks and The Devil’s Candy Store related forums, blogs and online social networks.
- The winner must sign an image release permitting use of their image on any promotional materials to qualify for receipt of the Madame Isis sword.

Madame Isis Vampire-Killing Sword (detail)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Your Own Krampus

© 07 Christopher Bonnette

Stylus is giving away via download Christopher Bonnette's sweet Krampus flatpack toy. Print out, cut and assemble. Instant Krampus (with a bad child thrown in to complete the scene.) The link to download Krampus is just below the greeting cards near the bottom of the page.

While you're there, check out all of the other cool art. Sweet.

Episode #005 Dave Dorman Interview & Horror News!

Click to Listen!

In this episode: Interview with artist Dave Dorman and News from the magical land of Horror!

more extensive show notes coming at ya when I ain't so tired....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tis The Season of - KRAMPUS


"Krampen" - an Old High German word for "claw". How appropriate! Turns out old St. Nick used to be accompanied by an incubus (Krampus) to keep those little Alpine children from misbehavin' all year. What a lovely tradition.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds - Barbie-style

Remember when your kid sister longed to have a doll that she could have run screaming from a horde of killer birds? Hmm... I don't.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Episode #004 A Lovecraft Holiday

In this episode: A Scene from The Dreams in the Witchhouse, Horrorific Holiday Gifts, Interview with Kenneth Hite, News from the Witchhouse and more!

Click to Listen!

*Note this podcast is in the mp4a format in order to have some photo can convert it in itunes to the mp3 format in order to enjoy it on non-apple mp3 players.

The Dreams in the Witchhouse: Dumbroski played by Brian Amidei and Gilman played by Thomas Whittingham.

Give the Gift of Horror this Christmas...

Search Etsy for Lovecraft.
Get your honey a Santa Cthulhu, a tentacle pendant, or a zombie attack lampshade, or perhaps a festive Vampire Teddy bear?

Shop at Horrorbles in Berwyn!
Get a swell t-shirt at The Devil's Candy Store!
Send your sweetie back to school with Horror 101!

Interview with Kenneth Hite from Weird Tales Magazine
Trail of Cthulhu Role Playing Game

The Call of roleplaying game ever.

Support Wildclaw Theatre in 2009 and thanks for all your help in 2008!

WildClaw Kenneth Hite Interview

Kenneth Hite

We have a brand new, exclusive interview with Weird Tales Magazine Lovecraft columnist, Kenneth Hite. Ken is also an award-winning Role Playing Game designer with his recently released Trail of Cthulhu from Pelgrane Press.

Some excerpts from the Kenneth Hite interview:
"(Charley Sherman's) decisions sort of build out the city of Arkham and what’s going on, with the witch cult and the disappearing babies every May Eve and the whole rest of it. Giving it that sort of… what I told Charley - invert noir. Where you’ve got this dark secret that encompasses the whole town and the people who find out about it are literally the two least powerful characters in the entire play – Gilman and the girl. So, I thought that was structurally really interesting and obviously anything with blood and monsters and hyperspace is great fun to watch and they did a great job with that part too."

"Some people come to Lovecraft for the sense of mounting dread and personal annihilation that Lovecraft does in his stories as well. Something like Gilman in Dreams in the Witch House and the play carries that off terrifically."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dr. AC interviewed on Racks n' Razors

Aaron Christensen: WildClawing Weirdness with the Editor of Horror 101 by Brian Kirst

"Aaron Christensen, or Dr. AC to those in the know, is not only the editor of the seminal book HORROR 101 (available at and elsewhere), one of the most comprehensive and fun guides to the horror genre, but he is also one of the founding members of Chicago's WildClaw Theatre (, a brilliantly inventive Midwest theatre company devoted to bringing works of horror to the stage. With HORROR 101's continual presence (and rave reviews) in such magazines as Fangoria and HorrorHound, Christensen has become a known commodity across the world, but his heart truly lies in Illinois and its community of scare loving fans is all the better for it.

AC recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for Racks and Razors..."

More at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Barbie of the Undead

Make your own Barbie of the Undead! Just in time for Christmas.

When you are done, continue your zombie-lovin' urges by heading over to the WildClaw site and picking up your tickets to The Revenants. Opening April 20th at Angel Island Theatre in Chicago, this zombie drama will be directed by WildClaw's own, Anne Adams, and was written by Scott T. Barsotti.

Of course, that assumes that you've already seen The Dreams in the Witch House, currently playing at the Athenaeum Theatre until Dec. 21st. Only 8 more shows left!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sean Hannity Exposes Real Vampires!

If there is a pop culture danger to warn Real America about, Sean Hannity and Fox News are going to be the ones to do it. This time - it's vampires among us!

Our Thoughts Go Out to Bettie Page

Bettie Page

Our thoughts go out to Bettie Page who suffered from a heart attack Tuesday. She is listed in critical condition in a coma.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sci-fi's grand old man, Forrest J Ackerman, dies

Yesterday, we lost a true pioneer and a champion. Uncle Forry gave many of us a community where being a sci-fi, fantay or horror fan was not something to be ridiculed or to be ashamed of. Rest well, sweet and loveable dark prince...

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES – Forrest J Ackerman, the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term "sci-fi," has died. He was 92.

Ackerman died Thursday of heart failure at his Los Angeles home, said Kevin Burns, head of Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Ackerman's estate.

Although only marginally known to readers of mainstream literature, Ackerman was legendary in science-fiction circles as the founding editor of the pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He was also the owner of a huge private collection of science-fiction movie and literary memorabilia that for years filled every nook and cranny of a hillside mansion overlooking Los Angeles.

"He became the Pied Piper, the spiritual leader, of everything science fiction, fantasy and horror," Burns said Friday.

Every Saturday morning that he was home, Ackerman would open up the house to anyone who wanted to view his treasures. He sold some pieces and gave others away when he moved to a smaller house in 2002, but he continued to let people visit him every Saturday for as long as his health permitted.

"My wife used to say, 'How can you let strangers into our home?' But what's the point of having a collection like this if you can't let people enjoy it?" an exuberant Ackerman told The Associated Press as he conducted a spirited tour of the mansion on his 85th birthday.

His collection once included more than 50,000 books, thousands of science-fiction magazines and such items as Bela Lugosi's cape from the 1931 film "Dracula."

His greatest achievement, however, was likely discovering Bradbury, author of the literary classics "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Martian Chronicles." Ackerman had placed a flyer in a Los Angeles bookstore for a science-fiction club he was founding and a teenage Bradbury showed up.

Later, Ackerman gave Bradbury the money to start his own science-fiction magazine, Futuria Fantasia, and paid the author's way to New York for an authors meeting that Bradbury said helped launch his career.

"I hadn't published yet, and I met a lot of these people who encouraged me and helped me get my career started, and that was all because of Forry Ackerman," the author told the AP in 2005.

Later, as a literary agent, Ackerman represented Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and numerous other science-fiction writers.

He said the term "sci-fi" came to him in 1954 when he was listening to a car radio and heard an announcer mention the word "hi-fi."

"My dear wife said, 'Forget it, Forry, it will never catch on,'" he recalled.

Soon he was using it in Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine he helped found in 1958 and edited for 25 years.

Ackerman himself appeared in numerous films over the years, usually in bit parts. His credits include "Queen of Blood," "Dracula vs. Frankenstein," "Amazon Women on the Moon," "Vampirella," "Transylvania Twist," "The Howling" and the Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. More recently, he appeared in 2007's "The Dead Undead" and 2006's "The Boneyard Collection."

Ackerman returned briefly to Famous Monsters of Filmland in the 1990s, but he quickly fell out with the publisher over creative differences. He sued and was awarded a judgment of more than $375,000.

Forrest James Ackerman was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 1916. He fell in love with science-fiction, he once said, when he was 9 years old and saw a magazine called Amazing Stories. He would hold onto that publication for the rest of his life.

Ackerman, who had no children, was preceded in death by his wife, Wendayne.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Making of The Dreams in the Witch House Poster

During the making of the play The Great God Pan earlier this year, Charlie Athanas documented that play's poster design process pretty thoroughly. Now that The Dreams in the Witch House is up and running and getting good reviews, we thought we would expose the guts of that poster. (Go see the play!)

The play's director and adaptor, Charley Sherman, wanted the poster to feel dark with blues and grays and the feeling of metal to express the city of Arkham. Arkham is H. P. Lovecraft's infamous city of nightmares where the play takes place. Athanas had done a teaser graphic that was photo manipulating via Photoshop filters, but it was a rush job and not what he wanted ultimately.

The Dreams in the Witch House teaser graphic

So when it came time to produce the final graphic, Athanas pulled several photos he had taken at various places and chose three to work with. He often pulls from his random photo files to either place them into designs completely unrelated to the topic or to use as reference for a drawing. He learned from Sparth (one of his favorite concept art artists) at the Massive Black Revelations Symposium this past January in Seattle, that Sparth does this all the time in his concept art designs. He will even take old finished concept art pieces and use them for textures and design elements in newer pieces.

Here are the three photos Athanas choose to work with:

A cool dilapidated iron fence in his neighborhood

A view from inside Northwestern Evanston hospital

A church steeple down the block from his house

He combined the three of them in Photoshop layers and composed and cropped to get this:

Athanas used the Plastic Wrap filter on the two non-steeple photos and adjusted Levels on all of them to get the contrasts he wanted and the textures suitably creepy.

From there he started playing with some type ideas for the title -

In the end, Athanas realized that something needed to be in this landscape and he initially had a hooded, vague shape with a rat's tail sticking out from the cloak to hint at the character, Brown Jenkins. After showing it to the director, they realized that it wasn't strong enough and Athanas went to a clearer rat image. This turned out to be for the best, because rats play a large role in the play and Arkham. After hours of trying to find the right way to fit in Lovecraft's name and his very long story title, this is the final image for the poster:

The Dreams in the Witch House poster graphic

Poster detail

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catch Dreams in the Witch House Before It Closes

Get your tickets now!

Only 12 more performances of The Dreams in the Witch House are left. We must close on December 21st.

"Spectacular" (Killer-works)
"RECOMMENDED - I was completely entertained..." (Chicago Reader)
"A Gruesome Treat" (Time Out Chicago)
"You'd be a fool to miss..." (Viking Youth Power Hour)
"Well Worth Seeing" (Kitley's Krypt)
"Immense Entertainment" (Horror Society)

2008 Deathscribe Winner With His Bloody Axe

Albert and his axe

Albert Gerber was the first ever winner of a Deathscribe Bloody Axe for his horror play, Dark and Stormy (directed by Don Hall). He sent us this proud photo of himself and the axe. We are gearing up for Deathscribe 2009, so stay tuned for announcements. Get those scary thoughts to paper and see if you can win the 2009 Bloody Axe. Perfect for the mantle and ideal for clearing brush.

Although very biased, here is what Don Hall (director of the winning 2008 play) wrote on his website about his Deathscribe experience:

"Let me tell ya, these WildClaw kids are ones to look out for. The place was packed, the tech was extensive and well worked out, the event was like going to a comic book convention for horror fans."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dreams in the Witch House Theme Song?

Courtesy of J. David Moeller and Chris Gagnon, we have an uncannily appropriate theme song for The Dreams in the Witch House theme.

Perhaps to be played at WildClaw's introduction at next year's Jeff Awards ceremony? Not likely. Perhaps to make H.P. Lovecraft and Charley Sherman spin in their graves? Probably. Regardless, I think it's brilliant.¤t=TheTimeWarp-1.flv

It's astounding, time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely, not for very much longer
I've got to keep control

I remember doing the Time Warp
Drinking those moments when
The blackness would hit me and the void would be calling
Let's do the time warp again...
Let's do the time warp again!

It's so dreamy, oh fantasy free me
So you can't see me, no not at all
In another dimension, with voyeuristic intention
Well-secluded, I see all

With a bit of a mind flip
You're there in the time slip
And nothing can ever be the same
You're spaced out on sensation, like you're under sedation
Let's do the Time Warp again!

The Ladies of Horror (SDCC 08)

Over at KPBS Comic-Con News they have a fun set of interviews from the floor of the San Diego Comic-Con 2008. Women like Jovanka Vuckovic, Elvira and Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser) all talk about their horror fun. Jovanka has a great quote in the middle of the piece - "We need more chicks in horror!"

Witch House Opening Night Celebration

After The Dreams in the Witch House opened at the Athenaeum Theatre on November 16th, the cast and crew retired to the Four Moon Tavern for a well-deserved drink or two. And here are most of the beautiful people scaring the pants off of you.

Carolyn Klein, Thomas Whittington, Ryan Patrick Dolan, and Sean Bolger

Sean, Ron Kuzava, Jen Poulin, Karen Tarjan, and Charley Sherman

David O'Brien, Anne Adams, Casey Cunningham, and Scott Barsotti

Brian Amidei and Tom Hickey

Charley Sherman and Chris Hainsworth

Dr. A.C.

Charley Sherman and Paul Foster