Mar. 31st, 2017

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It's Friday, Eerie fans, and it's a great time to look back on all the sweet fanworks you've created over the years. Why not revisit some sweet artwork, admire someone's crafting efforts or leave an appreciative comment on an uploaded video?
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Skeezy’s Brown Ale, 5 Rights Brewing, Marysville

Style: Brown ale

Stats: 5.8 percent ABV, 30 IBU

Available: On tap at the brewery, NYP Everett, Emory’s on Silver Lake and Creekside Alehouse and Grill.

My thoughts: Church and zombies rarely go together, but for 5 Rights owner and head brewer R.J. Whitlow they do — and the combination inspired a new beer series.

Whitlow, who was the media director for Northshore Christian Church for 16 years, met Dan Merchant while the producer visited the Everett church to promote his film, “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” in 2008. When Merchant debuted his next project, “Z Nation,” a post-apocalyptic zombie show on Syfy a few years ago, Whitlow and his wife, Kristi, couldn’t help but dive in.

“It’s a total guilty pleasure and very bingeable,” Whitlow said. “It has no gravity on our life, so we can just sit back and enjoy.”

The show is shot in Spokane and has a number of memorable characters, including Murphy, the only known survivor of the zombie infection. Because of the local connection and his friendship with Merchant, Whitlow reached out to the show’s creator to see if it would be possible to brew some beers in tribute to the show.

“I was worried about rights and all of that and Dan was like, ‘Oh, I own all of it. Go for it,’” Whitlow said.

Skeezy is named after one of two low-life grifters on the show, Skeezy and Sketchy, who travel around the zombie wasteland getting into mischief and stealing money to build a wall. (Sound familiar?)

The ale named after Skeezy is a nicely balanced American-style brown. Hopped with Centennial, Willamette and Cascade hops, the brown ale has a solid malt backbone like any good brown, but the hops give it an assertive if measured hop character that complements the malt well. The beer is a drinkable 5.8 percent and isn’t too sweet like many brown ales.

The brown is the second in the Z Nation Tribute Series, which kicked off with the Z Wacker IPA, named in honor of the spikey baseball-bat-like weapon popular in the show. Z Wacker is an IPA made with Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops. The late addition of hops and some dry-hopping gives the beer a big tropical nose and a dry finish. It’s on tap at the brewery and NYP Everett.

When he finally brings his 10-barrel brewhouse online later this spring, Whitlow plans to brew more beers in the series, including a Citizen Z Pale Ale made with HBC 431 hops, a saison, Belgian dark strong and a not-so-Irish red ale named after the star of the show, Murphy.

He’s hoping one day to even parlay it into a bit part as a zombie entree.

“Kristi and I would love to be extras on the show,” Whitlow said.

Season 4 of Z Nation is scheduled to premiere on Syfy in the fall of 2017.

From the brewery: The second in our series of tribute beers to our favorite zombie apocalypse show, “Z Nation” gives a shout-out to one of our favorite post-apocalyptic shysters and all around patriotic and fun-loving characters. Like our friend Skeezy, this American brown ale is not quite as advertised, bringing a bold and assertive hoppy edge to a typically malty, rich and somewhat sweet character of this chocolate malt forward style. Our generous use of Centennial and Cascade hops will help make America America again.
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Like a lot of people, I’m something of a walking, talking contradiction.

On the one hand, I’m just a big chicken. My gut reaction to hearing a strange noise downstairs in the middle of the night is to pull the blankets a little tighter around me and hope it stops on its own. My rational mind knows that cotton sheets and a comforter — regardless of how high the thread count is, and I like ’em fancy — provide no protection whatsoever from the things that go bump in the night. But the part of my brain that never fails to trigger the heebie-jeebies when I go down into an unfinished basement always beats Rational Andi to the punch, forcing the level-headed adult in me to fight her way to the surface. After a moment or two, I put on my mental big-girl pants and go downstairs to investigate, only to discover something completely innocuous, for example that I’d accidentally hit the four-hour delay button on the dishwasher when I cleaned the kitchen after dinner.

On the other hand, despite knowing myself well enough to know that I have a predisposition to nervous Nellie-dom, I just can’t resist a good, old-fashioned scary story. There’s just something irresistible about that chill that goes up my spine when I catch a proper case of the creeps. I watch horror movies through splayed fingers, knowing that I’m going to take a good hard look in the backseat before I get in the car to go home from the theater. But the thought of seeing the latest video game movie instead never crosses my mind. Over the years, I’ve read a sizable chunk of Steven King’s novels, even if that meant I needed to keep my feet tucked up under me on the couch in order to maintain enough nerve to keep turning the pages. I know I’ve struck gold when the goose bumps show up.

Marilyn Monroe once said, “Fear is stupid and so are regrets.” I think she was on to something with that one. When it comes to entertainment at least, I’d rather risk a sleepless night or two than miss out on something truly remarkable.

Recently I’ve discovered a podcast that scratches that illogical itch to scare the ever-loving crap out of myself.

The Black Tapes podcast is available for download for free on iTunes or at www.theblacktapespodcast.com.

“The Black Tapes” asks its listeners a loaded question: Do you believe?

The podcast is the serialized story of intrepid reporter Alex Reagan, who begins working on a story about paranormal investigators but soon finds herself far more interested in one of her interview subjects, Dr. Richard Strand, a famous, and to some infamous, skeptic.

Strand is the founder of The Strand Institute, devoted to debunking any and all claims of paranormal activity. He is so certain that there are no such things as ghosts and demons and the like that he’s offering a $1 million prize to anyone who can provide indisputable evidence of paranormal activity. Unsurprisingly, since Strand is the one who gets to define what constitutes indisputable evidence, that prize has yet to be claimed.

While interviewing Strand, Reagan notices a collection of VHS tapes in black cases, giving the podcast its name and Reagan’s story a new focus. According to Strand, the black tapes are cases that haven’t been debunked, but only because the technology to do so hasn’t been invented yet. To his way of thinking, it’s not a question of if the events on the tapes will be proven false but, rather, a question of when. Through the two seasons currently available, the mystery around Strand and his family deepens and Reagan makes the mistake all reporters are warned about — she becomes part of her own story.

Throughout the episodes, “The Black Tapes” explore everything from demonic possession to urban legends to mysterious disappearances and mental patients who seem to possess the ability to be in two places at once. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but let’s just say that when it comes to “The Black Tapes,” few things are as they seem.

Many listeners may spend some time trying to determine if “The Black Tapes” is fiction or legitimate reporting. The show, which bills itself as a “docudrama” on its website, is meticulously produced in the style of “Serial,” with Reagan not only interviewing witnesses, officials and the occasional psychic, but also discussing, and sometimes arguing about, her reporting process with Nick, her producer. I admit to wondering about the show’s authenticity myself during the first few episodes. I was pretty sure it was the modern equivalent of old-time radio plays, but I avoided turning to the internet to verify that belief until I decided to write this column, because I decided it just didn’t matter. A good story is a good story and I was along for the ride regardless. But maybe it’s best to wait until the sun comes up to hit play.

I’m a few episodes shy of finishing the show’s second season, and I can’t honestly say if I’m any closer to answering the question of whether or not I believe in the paranormal. But one thing I’m positive about is that when Season 3 begins I’m going to be pondering that question some more.

“The Black Tapes” is available for download for free on iTunes or at www.theblacktapespodcast.com.
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Director Joe Dante speaks to Eve Jackson about the success of "Gremlins", parodying Donald Trump and why making scary horror movies today is so hard ahead of his Paris retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise.

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There were four ducks on the lake wearing tuxedoes. The goose who pretended to be a swan and the white duck who always hung out with him were there, as were the cygnet (now almost full grown) and his parents.

Marshall raised the old-fashioned Instamatic and snapped a picture of the sinister gathering. A couple of mallards turned their emerald-green heads his way, but their wives plucked at their feathers with bright orange beaks and brought their attention back to the matter at hand.

“Bring it on, ducks,” muttered Marshall to himself. “Whatever you’re up to, I’m ready for you.”

Read the rest of the Trusted Associates verse here )
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This map, by social realist artist William Gropper, was created to showcase the diversity of national myths and folk stories and was distributed abroad through the U.S. Department of State starting in 1946. (You can see it up close by clicking on the image below to arrive at a zoomable version, or by navigating to the map's page on the website of the Library of Congress.)

Gropper, born in New York City's Lower East Side to a working-class family, deeply identified with labor movements and the Left throughout his life. He worked as a cartoonist for mainstream publications New York Tribune and Vanity Fair, as well as the leftist and radical newspapers Rebel Worker, New Masses, and Daily Worker. During the Depression, like many other out-of-work artists, Gropper designed murals for the Works Progress Administration.

The “folklore” on display in this richly illustrated map is a soup of history, music, myth, and literature. Frankie and Johnny are cheek-by-jowl with a wild-eyed John Brown; General Custer coexists with “Git Along Little Dogies.” Utah is simply host to a group of “Mormons,” in which a bearded man holds up stigmata-marked hands to a small group of wives and children, while a figure labeled “New England Witches” flies over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

So many of these stories are now unfamiliar that the map makes an excellent portal for investigation. I’m from New England but had to look up the origin of “Evangeline” (the figure that decorates Maine). Turns out, the name is a reference to a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem about the expulsion of Acadian inhabitants from Nova Scotia in the 18th century. (An early 20th-century book and a 1929 movie adaptation had likely kept the Evangeline myth fresh in Gropper’s mind.)

The presence of this map in American information offices overseas provoked Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s suspicions. As Gropper’s biographer Louis Lozowick writes, the 1953 summons to testify for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about the map was quite ironic, given that its content was anything but subversive. McCarthy simply didn’t like Gropper’s past associations. Gropper pled the Fifth and refused to testify for McCarthy—a stance that lost him many commissions.
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Serious question: is Guillermo del Toro making movies just for me now? I’ve always been a fan of del Toro’s work, from the delightfully macabre foreign language films like Pan’s Labyrinth to the badass mech battles and giant beasts in Pacific Rim. Then, del Toro took it a step forward with Crimson Peak, the deliciously dark, wickedly sincere Gothic romance that was basically tailor-made for teenage Rachel (that’s me).

Now, the brilliant genre director is setting his sights and skills on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a 1984 childhood classic for anyone who loves horror.

Deadline reports that del Toro is developing Alvin Schwartz’ beloved trilogy for CBS Films, with a script by John August (Go, Big Fish, Frankenweenie). And if there were any doubt that del Toro is a fan of the books (but seriously, how could someone who loves horror and genre so much NOT be?), he tweeted about his involvement alongside framed prints of Stephen Gammell’s now-iconic illustrations for the trilogy.

For those who are unfamiliar with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, please first order a copy online or find one at your local bookstore (please tell me you have one), and then come back to read the rest of this piece. All done? Ok. What you are about to read is a collection of chilling ghost stories and popular urban legends… created for children. For us weird, spooky kids who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, this was a treasured tome, something special on par with Are You Afraid of the Dark or The Witches, a grab bag of creepy, disturbing tales that both scared and delighted us.

Anyone who read the books remembers the one or two that really got them: the tragic skeleton bride found trapped in a trunk; the girl with the ribbon tied ’round her neck; the hook and bloody fingers. We’d tell them at sleepovers (just before tackling the Ouija Board or playing “light as a feather, stiff as a board”), reference them in scrawled notes passed around class, and of course, read them under the covers in the dark. I still shiver when I think about “Red Spot,” where a girl discovers that a simple blemish is really a BILLION SPIDERS HATCHING OUT OF HER FACE. LIKE THIS BUT WITH YOUR FACE.

Suffice to say, we are beyond excited to see what del Toro does with these stories. With this, a thankfully-not-dead Pacific Rim sequel on the horizon, and a Fantastic Voyage reboot in the works, it seems like the king of the beautifully macabre has a ton of exciting new projects up his sleeve. And more del Toro is always a good thing.

What are your favorite stories from the trilogy? Let us know in the comments below!

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