Wales Comic Con 2018

Wales Comic Con

Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd December 2018

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

Another weekend, and another trip to a convention!  After my previous excursion to Birmingham, this one was a fair bit closer to home: just down the road in Wrexham.  Wales Comic Con takes place at Glyndwr University, and has steadily been building up a great reputation over the years.

The main attraction at Wales Comic Con has been the guests.  Held twice a year, and in a somewhat smaller area than other events, the con has consistently punched above it’s weight in terms of the sheer quality of guests that it has attracted.

It was for this reason that my family and I were attending again this year.  Mrs Platinum Al wanted to meet the actor Chris Sarandon, who as the voice of Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas (as well as playing evil Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride) was a definite must-meet for her.

Unfortunately, Chris dropped out just a day or two before, after we’d bought tickets and a photo op.  Not good news, but not the end of the world: these things happen.

The photo op money would be returned, and we decided to go to the con anyway to have a day out.  This was the right move as there was still plenty to experience, even though the weather was temperamental.

The cosplayers at WCC were fantastic, as always.  There were a large variety of characters from comics, film, tv, games and more.  The costumes were of the highest standard and the cosplayers were all friendly.  After the disaster at MCM Birmingham the week before, I had manged to remember my camera this time and got quite a few good shots.

My daughter has discovered Harry Potter not long ago, so she dressed as Hermione Granger.  She posed for some great photos, some of which are included here.  Plus she was really happy to meet Stanislav Ianevski, who played Viktor Krum – that made her day.

In the past, there hasn’t been a massive amount of merchandise available at WCC.  This has improved over the years though, and I was able to acquire a few nice action figures for Christmas.  Very happy!

So we all had a fun family day out at Wales Comic Con, and hope to return for the next event in the new year.  Hopefully Chris Sarandon will be there.  Third time lucky?

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

Battle of the century!

The Halloween Horror Fest Bride

OK, time is running out and there’s quite a few films to be covered.  Let’s go!

The Wicker Man (1973)

British horror classic, starring Edward Woodward as the policeman who travels to the remote Scottish island of Summerisle to search for a missing girl.  His investigations are fraught and the locals unhelpful.  Soon it becomes clear that the islanders are pagans, and totally at odds with the devout investigators beliefs. wicker

There is an air of sinister dread that pervades this film, and builds slowly to the shocking, yet inevitable climax.  Though there are no shocks, blood and gore, The Wicker Man creates a believably strange and foreboding world.

Excellent performances from Woodward and Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle make the whole experience all the richer.  A film that gets better with every viewing.

9/10

The Corpse Bride (2005)

Beautiful animated wonder from Tim Burton, with the voice talents of many of the usual suspects, make this film a success on every level. cb

A marriage of convenience for Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson) turns out to be a perfect match, until it all goes wrong and Victor finds himself married to Emily, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter).  The tangled situation is complicated by trickery and treachery, as our hero tries to escape his situation and make wrongs right.

A superb voice cast and fabulous music enhance the spellbinding visuals, and not a moment is missed to dazzle the viewer.  In particular the scenes in the underworld are vibrant and thrilling, especially compared with the dull land of the living.

The Corpse Bride is great fun for Halloween and a film to enjoy again and again.

9/10.

The Halloween Horror Fest That Dripped Blood

The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

First off, The House That Dripped Blood is not a Hammer film.  It was, in fact, produced by rivals Amicus – though the film does share some familiar faces.  This is an anthology film, comprising of four short stories, wrapped up in to an overall narrative, concerning the spooky abandoned house of the title. thtdb

The first segment sees Denholm Elliott portray a writer, who slowly begins to lose his sanity whilst staying in the house.  Elliott gives a solid performance as he starts to crumble under the fear that his murderous creation has come to life.

Next up we have the story of two men – the always fantastic Peter Cushing and Joss Ackland – both obsessed with a waxwork dummy that resembles a lost love.  Both actors are great to watch, in a tale that seems fairly unbelievable but is probably the most gruesome of the four.

In the third instalment, the house is occupied by the legend that is Christopher Lee.  He lives with his young daughter and hired teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter).  The father’s strange, strict manner masks his daughter’s true heritage, and interest in witchcraft.  This is probably the best of the stories, with a stern Lee beginning to let fear get the better of him.  Genuinely creepy.

Finally, we have Jon Pertwee as a somewhat pompous horror movie actor, who acquires a cloak that bestows him with vampiric powers.  There’s a touch of comedy with this segment, plus some divine glamour in the form of Ingrid Pitt.  It’s all very enjoyable, and helps conclude the overall narrative in a suitably scary manner. ip

The House That Dripped Blood features a great cast and a fine writer in Robert Bloch, creator of Psycho.  On viewing, it’s surprisingly lacking in blood – however there are enough chills in each story to provide some frightful entertainment.  One of the best Amicus anthology movies, and well worth watching.

8/10.

Halloween Horror Fest Experience

ParaNorman (2012)

It’s not all full-on mature scares here at the Virtual Hot Tub.  Sometimes it’s fun to watch something that, although definitely supernatural, isn’t strictly horror.  ParaNorman is one such movie. ParaNorman

This animated spectacle is based around a young boy named Norman, who can see (and interact with) the dead.  His uncanny abilities, however, make him a figure of derision amongst others, not to mention being a concern to his family.  Norman’s estranged uncle sets him on a quest to remedy a witch’s curse on their home town, before the dead rise and they all face a grim end…

ParaNorman is beautifully designed and animated, making the whole film a real visual treat.  The characters are great fun, and there’s a decent moral to the tale.  Norman is certainly an outsider, though all the characters are faced with overcoming their prejudices.  There’s certainly enough strange and supernatural phenomena here for this to be suitable Halloween viewing – however I wouldn’t recommend this for very young viewers.  It’s a PG and some of the scenes are somewhat gruesome…

A real feast for the eyes, and a good fun tale to boot!

8/10

Jenna Jameson Visits the Virtual Hot Tub!

There was a very special guest today at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  A very special lady who I’m sure you will all be familiar with.

Yes, it’s the one and only, internationally famed adult super star Jenna Jameson!

Ms Jameson very kindly accepted my invitation to my Virtual Halloween Hot Tub party, and I was over joyed to welcome her.  Jenna looked fabulous in her sexy rubber witch dress, and had a fabulous time sipping cocktails and doing the Monster Mash.

Well not really, this is actually my Jenna Jameson Halloween action figure – but virtually anything can happen at the Virtual Hot Tub!

This Jenna figure has a broom stick and pumpkin to complement her revealing black dress.  She’s on a stand that features more Jack O’Lanterns and is adorned proudly with her name.

It’s a very cool figure, with amazing detail right down to the intricate tattoos.  And this ain’t no Barbie doll – Jenna is anatomically correct.  So if her dress and panties are removed, intimate details are revealed…

Anyway, a suitable spooky action figure for Halloween, I’m sure you’ll agree! P_20141030_140256

Dark Shadows Playlist

Dark Shadows Soundtrack – Playlist

Recently I posted my Hallowe’en Horror Fest mini-review of the film Dark Shadows.  It’s a great film from Tim Burton, in my opinion.  One of the best things about that movie is the soundtrack.

The film is set in 1972, so the soundtrack consists of songs from that era.  Contrasting heavy rock, pop and a bit of soul, there are a few cuts that fit the Gothic mood; and others that are just cool.

I put together this playlist – utilising songs from my collection – meaning I didn’t need to buy the soundtrack album…

1. The Moody Blues – “Nights in White Satin”

This classic soundtracks the opening of Dark Shadows, chronicling Victoria’s journey to Collinwood Manor.  Sets up a moody(!) atmosphere.

2. Iggy Pop & The Stooges – “I’m Sick Of You”

I love it when Iggy gets some respect.  Cool tune, as heard in Carolyn’s room.

3. Donovan – “Season of the Witch”

Carolyn Stoddard plays this on vinyl.  Wish I had this on wax.  A Hallowe’en necessity.

4. Deep Purple – “Highway Star”

I can’t remember where this song appears in the movie.  It’s in there though, apparently.  One of the must-have Deep Purple tracks, find it on “Machine Head”.  Or any “Best of”, for that matter.

5. Curtis Mayfield – “Superfly”

Barnabas takes a walk through Collinsport, soundtracked with this mighty slab of Mayfield funk.  Not an obvious vampire tune, but so right for the era.

6. The Carpenters – “Top of the World”

“Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!”

7. Elton John – “Crocodile Rock”

Off to the pub we go, we might bump into Christopher Lee…

8. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

It’s the early 70’s.  It’s a dark film.  It needs, no – demands – Sabbath.  Timeless genius from the originators of all that is dark and heavy.  On “Paranoid”, of course.

9. Barry White – “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”

The Love Machine’s tune is an apt choice for the scene it appears in.  What a song!

10. T.Rex – “Get It On”

So evocative of the time, a welcome airing for this track in the movie.

11. Alice Cooper – “No More Mr Nice Guy”

12. Alice Cooper – “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”

A special mention here for Alice Cooper, who has a cameo role as himself in 1972.  Two classic Coop songs are on this soundtrack.  “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” is possibly my favourite song ever from Alice, so it was great to hear it in the movie.

There you go, twelve songs and 54 minutes of music.  If Tim Burton chose these songs, he has great taste.  Except for that awful Killers song on the end credits.

I guess I’m a bit obsessed with this this film…

You can read my review here.

Hallowe’en Horror Fest Shadows

Dark Shadows (2012)

Tim Burton and – who else? – Johnny Depp bring us Dark Shadows, based on the cult late ’60’s TV show of the same name.  It’s a mix of horror, comedy and drama that is happy to lurk in Gothic darkness, but also offers a campy humour. dark

Barnabas Collins (Depp), heir to the wealthy Collins clan fortune, makes the mistake of spurning the love of Angelique (Eva Green).  Angelique happens to be a witch who curses Barnabas to become a vampire.  After being imprisoned for 200 years, Collins is awoken and finds himself in the year 1972.  A man – or vampire – considerably out of his time, Barnabas returns to the family home with the intention of restoring the Collins family to both wealth and harmony.  Aided by matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), Barnabas faces Angelique once more; whilst also attempting to help his family and win the love of his life.

Does that sound like fun to you?  It did to me.  Which is why I’m surprised that some people didn’t dig this retro gem.  The mixing of genres may have confused some audiences, but to me Dark Shadows is a delightfully ghoulish confection in the spirit of the Addams Family and The Munsters.

I enjoyed the comedy elements, and there’s enough blood to tick the horror box.  Most of all though, I love the 1970’s setting – obviously inspired (again) by Hammer, there are cool cars and an exceptional soundtrack.  Alice Cooper even has a cameo as himself, for goodness sake – playing two classic Coop tracks!

Great cast, cool atmosphere – it all adds up to a winner in my book.

9/10

Hallowe’en Playlist

All these posts about horror movies, it’s about time there was a post devoted to music for Hallowe’en!

I have a couple of Hallowe’en compilation CDs, this playlist puts together various songs not on those collections.  Some of the choices are obvious horror themes (“The Number of the Beast”, “Nasty”); others are more tenuous (“Devil in Disguise”, “Hotter Than Hell”).  Other selections are related, directly or not, to great scary movies: you know where “Bad Moon Rising” is from, right?

Either way, there’s a variety of styles here – suitable for (most) Hallowe’en gatherings…

  1. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”
  2. The Damned – “Nasty”
  3. Elvis Presley – “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise”
  4. Ramones – “Pet Semetary”
  5. Motorhead – “Hellraiser”
  6. Johnny Cash – “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”
  7. Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast”
  8. The Misfits – “Vampira”
  9. Kiss – “Hotter Than Hell”
  10. Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil”
  11. Zombina & The Skeletones – “Nobody Loves You (When You’re Dead)”
  12. Ozzy Osbourne – “Mr Crowley”
  13. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”
  14. GBH – “Horror Story”
  15. Van Halen – “Runnin’ with the Devil”
  16. David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”
  17. The Cult – “The Witch”
  18. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
  19. Alice Cooper – “I Love the Dead”

House of Hallowe’en Horror Fest

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Ah, Elvira, how I adore you.  The black beehive hair; the seductive eyes and ruby red lips; the hourglass figure that’s barely contained in a skin tight black dress, split to the heavens.  Not forgetting, of course, the greatest cleavage of all time.  My admiration for you is limitless. elvira1

But surely, you cry, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is not a horror movie?  Not truly worthy of Hallowe’en Horror Fest status?  Whatever, dude.  This film has enough magic, spells, the odd monster and grand Gothic gorgeousness to be more than worthy.

This is probably the closest the Americans have ever come to traditional British Carry On draft_lens18634398module153875463photo_1317687499elvira09style humour.  Saucy rather than smutty, there are plenty of laughs even after all these years.  Sure, a few of the gags are older than Imhotep, but there’s enough spooky fun to make this a glorious viewing.  Not to mention Elvira’s impressive co-stars, who support her every step of the way in admirable fashion.

And now, some gratuitous pictures of Elvira looking drop dead gorgeous.

8/10

http://elvira.hostedbywebstore.com/