Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update Your Bookmarks and Links

A lot of changes are coming up for us here at Gravediggers Local 16.

First off, as of April 01, we will no longer be using the blogger site ( but moving completely over to our current locale, For those of you who still view the blogger location, please update your bookmarks and links.

The new site will still be renovated while we bring you new content each week. We should have everything fixed and settled over the next handful of months.

With the new format and features, we want to make it easier for you to read and share what we write here at GdL16. You'll notice on the regular site that each new article has a button for all your social media sharing needs. We would be most appreciated if you took the few seconds to click one or more to tell your friends about what we do here.

If you've followed us on twitter (@GdL16) you've seen that we're starting up a podcast. On April 01, we will release the first episode of 6'+, a free podcast of music and more. Every two weeks, a new episode of 6'+ ('six foot plus') will be made available for you to download.

The goal of 6'+ is to provide an entertaining program of music while showcasing some of the music groups, both new and old, that we think you should know about. One of our next renovations is to put more info up under the 6'+ button you see above (on the regular site.)

We're not entirely sure what 6'+ will include but like all things we do, we'll start digging and see what we come up with.

There are plans to increase the content on this website. Strange Jason has actually been roused from his hibernation. We've gotten back into the swing of doing Tuesday uEtsy. N. Oremac has been seen lurking around the shadows. So rest uneasily knowing that the minds of Gravedigger's Local 16 are busy at work.

Remember, you can follow @GdL16, @WeirdJon and @StrangeJason on Twitter. You can also follow 6'+ over at @6ftpls. N. Oremac hopes you don't follow him so he can get away with murder.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Worst of Troma?

While reading through the Wikipedia entry for Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (aka Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake under a new title), I noticed the following comment:

"In his book All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, Troma president Lloyd Kaufman lists this film as one of the five worst Troma films ever made (along with The Capture of Bigfoot, also directed by Bill Rebane)." Searching for "worst" in the Amazon preview for the book even backed up this claim. Intrigued, I decided to see if I could find the other four.

It was pretty easy to find Curse of the Cannibal Confederates, also known as The Curse of the Screaming Dead. It's also known as being a gored-up remake of the worst movie ever made, A Night of Horror. Although he doesn't flat-out say that it's one of the "big five," Lloyd Kaufman's numerous comments regarding Big Gus, What's the Fuss? make it very easy to tell that it is.

But after that discovery, the online trail went cold. Troma fans apparently think that Fortress of Amerikkka is the worst, but I could not find anything that indicated Mr. Kaufman felt the same way. Although his comments that The Girl Who Returned is "boring" and that "if you put two monkeys in a room with movie cameras they will make The Girl Who Returned in twelve days" seem to indicate it is one of the worst, his later comment that it's one of the Troma library's "overlooked stars" shoots that theory to hell.

So what is the final film in the list of Troma's "bottom five?" I wish I could say that I knew the answer. Hopefully one of our loyal readers will give me the answer. It will be interesting to see if it was actually made by Troma or if it was an outside production that they bought the rights to (like the first three titles I discovered).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ghost Provokers

Ghost hunting shows are ripe for parody, so it was only a matter of time before someone created a comedy series on the subject. Ghost Provokers offers a humorous look at one group's unique method of dealing with the dead. My personal favorite is the three-part Halloween special set aboard the RMS Queen Mary, which also features music by the Midnight Syndicate. But enough talk, here it is, direct from the show's official channel:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter's Eve

Nox Arcana

Official Site

Winter's Eve, Monolith Graphics 2009

Damn it, not again! Oh well, thank goodness bird poop is white...
Winter can be a time of both wonder and woe. While the falling of snow delights many, others look upon it with dread. The gray skies of daytime, coupled with the bare branches of trees looking like grasping hands rising from a grave and longer hours of darkness, make for a dreary mood. The howling winds don't help, either. But in spite of that, there is beauty in the drifting flakes and virgin snow blanketing everything, with icicles glittering like crystals. Noting both sides of the season, Nox Arcana has released two winter-themed albums, Winter's Knight and the CD I'll be reviewing today, Winter's Eve. All performers save for Michelle Belanger have returned for the sequel, as you'll soon see...

"The Messenger" uses chanting male vocals to start off both the album and this intro track, wherein the voice of the White Queen (played by Christine Filipak) tells of a magical winter season. "Frozen Memories" evokes a nostalgic feeling through tolling bells and light touches that remind me of ice crystals. The medium piano and light chimes of "Magic and Moonlight" make me think of nighttime and wonder, with a pinch of magic. Some aspects of this also remind me of The Nutcracker. String work defines both "The Rose of Winter" and "Enchanted Realm," although that last one is heavier and has more light touches. "The Ides of December" uses a speedy, heavy piano along with female vocals and magic-sounding light touches. It becomes hauntingly beautiful at the times it slows in both speed and tone. The name "Gifts of the Magi" makes me think of both the three wise men and the story by O. Henry, although the Middle Eastern drums and percussion make the inspiration for the song clear. "Season of Wonder" uses a piano, along with light touches and female vocals to create a dreamy feel. The string and ye olde tambourine work of "Solstice Dance" conjures up images of a medieval ball.

Winter's Knight

Nox Arcana

Official Site

Winter's Knight, Monolith Graphics 2005

Do my wings look odd to you?
Sometimes Christmas music can be creepy. There's a version of "Carol of the Bells" floating around out there that, thanks to the tone and speed of the children's chorus singing, always unnerves me a bit every time I hear it. Sensing the connection between Christmas and spooky stuff, Nox Arcana released Winter's Knight in 2005. It might seem odd to review a Christmas-related album at this time of year, but let's not forget that the title of the album focuses only on winter and the flakes are still falling...

For this album, Joseph Vargo and William Piotrowski are joined by designer/photographer Christine Filipak, Eric Gustafson and the Gregorian Shadow Choir, and two other guest performers (who I'll name later) to provide vocals.

"Vigil" uses the sounds of wind and bells to create a lonely mood that ushers in the intro narration about a ghostly knight by Joseph Vargo. "Ghosts of Christmas Past" is both eerie and Christmasy, thanks to its tolling bells, heavy piano and vocals. Just as the title suggests, the music has the feel of recalling the past. "Ebonshire" named for the fictional forest setting of the album. It's much less spooky than the last song...for introduction, anyway. The vocals and string work give it an old and dreamy feel. The dark opening piano of "Solitude" reflects the mood suggested by the track's title. In contrast, the light opening notes and vocals "Crystal Forest" set a much lighter tone for this. You could easily play this at a Christmas party without any looks of confusion over using "spooky" music.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adolph Caesar (1933-1986)

Even if he had not appeared in episodes of The New Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside, I would still be writing about Adolph Caesar today. For although his name might not be familiar to you, odds are that you've heard his voice before.

Born in Harlem on December 5th, 1933 (some sources claim it was in 1934), Caesar eventually got into theatrical acting "just as something to do." Before that, however, he joined the Navy after graduating from high school and eventually rose to the rank of chief petty officer. He started learning his craft at New York University. Although he had several television appearances and a feature role in the late sixties, Caesar took to the stage by joining the Negro Ensemble Company in 1970, later working with repertory groups like the Inner City Repertory Company, the Minnesota Theater Company and the American Shakespeare Company. It was around this time that he got into voiceover roles, lending his voice to countless commercials and film trailers. Although he did participate in the English dub for the animated French spoof Shame of the Jungle in 1975, he didn't officially return to the screen until 1979's The Hitter, which was followed by several other film roles while still providing voiceovers for a wide variety of ads and previews. One can easily imagine audiences being bowled over the split second they realized "The Voice" was onscreen. 1984 brought him what could arguably be his biggest acting break, playing Sergeant Waters in the film adaptation of the play A Soldier's Story (a role he also played onstage). Just as how his stage portrayal netted him an Obie award and a New York Drama Desk award, his work on the film earned him an Oscar nomination. He also appeared in the Oscar-nominated The Color Purple as Old Mister Johnson, and made several other film and television appearances until 1986. On March 6th of that year, Caesar was in the process of playing the character Leon B. Little in the film Tough Guys when he suffered from a fatal heart attack. As he had only completed a single day of filming, his footage was scrapped and the scenes were refilmed with Eli Wallach in the role. In honor of his past work with the company, the Negro Ensemble Co. started the annual Adolph Caesar Performing Arts Award Benefit. Although his career was cut short far too early in life, he is survived by his wife, three children and legacy.

I'm not just referring to his acting roles, either. Although it's true that he added a measure of class to schlockfests like Fist of Fear, Touch of Death and Shame of the Jungle and that his appearances will be shown in repeats and various home video formats for decades to come, it is his vocal work that defines him. From the 70's throuigh the 80's, he was the voice of a generation, providing voiceovers in ads for everything from groceries to Michael Jackson's Thriller album. Remember the line "...because a mind is a terrible thing to waste" from the United Negro College Fund commercials? Caesar originally provided that line. He was everywhere, on a scale rivaled only by the late Don LaFontaine. Although he narrated movie trailers (along with TV and radio spots) for both major studios and independents, his raspy, resonant voice provided an extra "oomph" to cult titles (especially horror films). He lent his voice to trailers for the original Dawn of the Dead, The Incredible Melting Man, both Blacula movies and countless others. It's no wonder that when National Lampoon was putting together their
Golden Turkey album, they tapped Adolph Caesar to record the hilarious ad for the faux movie "Prison Farm."

While his work in that area was looked upon fondly by genre fans even while he could still be heard in theaters, appreciation for him only grew amongst horror fans as ads featuring his work often appeared numerous times in the many trailer compilation video cassettes of the 80's. In more recent times, trailers featuring him have appeared on DVDs as special features, which tend to later get uploaded online on video-sharing sites and torrents. Narration from vintage trailers was reworked for use in ads for more recent movies like From Dusk Till Dawn and the Grindhouse edition of the Machete trailer. I even heard a song using samples from his narration from the preview for the original Halloween II trailer last October! I think it's safe to say that fans will continue to hear his amazing voice for many years to come. For a more in-depth look at Mr. Caesar's work on cult film trailers, please visit his entry at the Grindhouse Database.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Women In Horror Month!

More specifically, it's Women In Horror Recognition Month. Started last year by Hannah "Neurotica" Forman of Ax Wound magazine (NSFW), Women In Horror Month is (to quote the official Facebook page) "...a time set aside to focus on and celebrate all the women in the horror industry. Not just actresses but also fx artists, writers, directors, producers, illustrators, female fans, etc."

As far as we here at Gravedigger's Local 16 are concerned, it's about time something like this has come along. While Zombie Awareness Month is fun and all, it's not like zombies were obscure or in serious need of recognition. But when it comes to horror, women's importance tends to be overlooked. When the discussion comes up, it's usually limited to just scream queens and final girls. But women have much wider and more important influences on the genre than just those two categories. After all, can you imagine what the horror genre would be like if Mary Shelley had never written Frankenstein?

As we suspect that the majority of the other sites participating in the event will be focusing on the professional side, we thought it best to turn the spotlight onto the female side of horror. The common perception of horror is that of a wholly male-oriented field of interest and a visit to many of the online horror message boards seemingly confirms this. But joining Twitter has revealed a countless amount of female fans, from the casual to the hardcore. They are reviewers, podcasters, musicians, authors, home haunters, artists and more. In addition the having to deal with the standard stereotypes faced by horror fans, they also have to deal with the confusion by others over their interest in a "male" genre and the occasional clumsy advances by the manchildren that can be found in any "geek" culture. It's tough, but they still persevere.

No genre could survive without its fans, and all of the wonderful contributions of women in fandom help keep horror going strong. So, here's to all you women in horror fandom! Things just wouldn't be the same without you.

To learn more about Women In Horror Recognition Month, please visit the official website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nosferatu - Blue Öyster Cult

Not too long ago, a friend made me aware of the fact that Blue Öyster Cult did a song called "Nosferatu" by linking to this video:

Given the massive use of their songs "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Godzilla" in countless broadcasts and CD compilations every October, I'm amazed that "Nosferatu" isn't a Halloween standard.

But those songs aren't the band's only horror connections. Not only did they contribute to the soundtrack for Full Moon's Bad Channels, but they have released songs with names like "The Old Gods Return" and "Monsters." Even some of their albums have spooky names! Given that I'm only a neophyte fan, I'm sure that hardcore fans of the band can name even more spooky song titles by the band...

Tuesday uEtsy Announcement

Due to scheduling and site maintenance, the next Tuesday uEtsy will be on 3/1.