Sunday 31 March 2019

Happy Horror-day! Mother's Day (1980)

Having strayed into the world of monstrous imps we’re firmly back in the genre of psychotic killers celebrating another holiday but in name only, the 1980 classic- Mother’s Day. As far as I can tell, the movie doesn’t actually take place during Mothering Sunday; frighteningly it’s just another day in the life of Ike, Addley and their mother! But whenever someone researches these Holiday themed Horrors Mother’s Day always makes the list so it’s included in my challenge.    
Rather appropriately for this month Mother's Day was directed, co-written and produced by Charles Kaufman, brother of Troma Entertainment’s Lloyd Kaufman (who also acted as an associate producer) a film notorious for recounting the tale of a mother and her two deranged sons capturing and torturing three women camping in the woods. Starting out much in the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre it jumps into an early Troma movie style, having you almost forget the previous scenes before it jumps back in again before shifting into an I Spit on your Grave conclusion! Notorious for its scenes of violence and rape it also contains satire which sadly went completely over most people’s heads resulting in it being labelled as depraved and nothing more than an exploitation film. With movie critic Roger Ebert giving it zero stars, stating that he was disgusted by it and the BBFC rejecting it and banning it from distribution in the United Kingdom the film wasn’t a huge success but as is always the way now it’s now a cult classic and it was even remade in 2010! Almost a distant relative of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes with its feeling of isolation and decrepit surroundings and demented characters I am certain that Mother’s Day must have also played a small part in the inspiring of later movies such as House of 1000 Corpses. If you haven’t seen it and you like such movies, be sure to seek it out- me I’m going to grab some sleep, tomorrow is April 1st.... April Fool’s Day!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday 30 March 2019

A TROMA- tic experience!

My tribute to Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment

Back in the early 1990’s having finally joined the Sky TV revolution my young teenage self would eagerly leaf through Sky Magazine’s listings for movies to watch on Friday and Saturday nights.  One month I spotted a full-page advert made up of four movie posters for an upcoming evening devoted to a movie studio called Troma Entertainment.
The movies were, The Toxic Avenger, The Toxic Avenger Part II, Class of Nuke 'Em High and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell!
I was already aware of Toxie, the monster of “superhuman size and strength” having watched The Toxic Crusader animated series, ruined my teeth with Toxic Crusader candy and of course not forgetting the amazing action figure line (which I still have today!) and so I was intrigued to see the movies which had inspired it all. I watched them and was forever a devotee of Troma Entertainment, the longest running truly independent film company in America and not forgetting its genius co-founder, writer, director and producer Lloyd Kaufman.

Finally meeting the brilliant Lloyd Kaufman!
A Yale University graduate majoring in Chinese studies intending to become a social worker Lloyd instead chose cinema and directed his first feature film, The Girl Who Returned in 1969 before working for Cannon Films, collaborating on several low-budget films with future Rocky director John G. Avildsen. He then set up Troma studios in 1974 with business partner Michael Herz, producing independent action and comedy films while freelancing for several major Hollywood productions, including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and The Final Countdown which had Lloyd vowing to never deal with a major studios again. Between 1979 and 1981, Troma produced/ directed a series of profitable "sexy comedies" so profitable in fact that the major studios moved in on the idea and started producing their own such as Porkies. After reading an article that claimed horror films were no longer popular, Lloyd decided to produce his own horror film around an idea he had about a health club, Health Club Horror a story about a nerd that is mutated by toxic waste that goes on to save the city and get the girl ultimately became The Toxic Avenger which achieved mainstream success. Much the same can be said about the follow up movie Class of Nuke 'Em High and subsequent sequels that followed after and it was at that point on they focused almost exclusively on horror films, even if they were not directly their own features Troma distributed films from third parties- waving the flag for independent film making and cult cinema. Especially Lloyd, who seemed to always be appearing on TV promoting the company and its movies, refusing to conform to the norm and this resonated with me while I was in Art College. I wanted to work on my own ideas but seemed to always be going head to head with people who preferred landscapes and still life, I would be up late working on a project, wondering if I was actually doing the right thing and Lloyd would appear on Troma’s Edge T.V. sporting his trademark bow tie, microphone in hand behind a cluttered desk covered in Troma merchandise and memorabilia urging us to not follow the norm, not give in to the mainstream and corporate thinking and support innovate ideas, least I think that’s what he was saying... you’ll need to ask him about it... either way that’s what I did!

Again with Lloyd during the screening of David Gilbank’s Polterheist!
Anyway, long story short-ish I felt it was high time I met Uncle Lloydie to thank him for his inspiration and when I found out he was visiting the UK for a “Troma Tour” to receiving the much coveted Hall of Fame Award at the Starburst Film Festival, one of the biggest and best genre celebrations in the UK it was off to MediaCityUK (again) along with my good friend Matt Warner to (hopefully) meet him. We arrived at Social7 at The Landing for the opening ceremony and was able to meet Lloyd right away and he was EXACTLY as I imagined him to be! It can be a little nerve wracking when you meet people you admire, this day and age they can let you down- and not live up to your expectations but I am delighted to say that he did not disappoint. I was able to have several chats with him about his work and tell him how much he had inspired me and my work and how it was his movies that made me want to direct my art in this direction. I presented him with a print of a tribute (seen at the top of this post) I recently painted to him and his movies, featuring The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High (which he had shared on his Instagram!) that he seemed to genuinely pleased to receive before kicking off the event with the first movie, Troma’s latest offering Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2 a film that tackles, “21st century issues in the style of 1980s genre films” by revisiting of Class of Nuke 'Em High in the same vein as other classics such as Class of 1984, Rock 'n' Roll High School, and Carrie, but seen through the unique vision of Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team” a movie I must confess I had already seen as I had already been granted an early look at it due to being one of the 959 backers that pledged their support on their Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, I’ve heard many state that this one is superior to the first part and I am inclined to agree, it has all the things one expects of a Troma movie in buckets, along with lots of heart! So make sure you see it when it comes out, show your support for independent movies! So glad I went along, I had a great time and commend all involved, and thank you Lloyd for everything, you made this Troma fan very happy oh and we mustn’t forget Starburst and the event organizers responsible for this amazing event, I not only had the opportunity to meet one of my idols but I also catch up with many friends in a great, relaxed atmosphere- congratulations, I look forward to next one!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 18 March 2019

Happy Horror Day! Red Clover (2012)*

We have strayed quite a way from the usual Holiday themed horrors involving a psycho killer for St Patrick’s Day this time round.  It was suggested that I watch Leprechaun (1993), but Leprechaun hasn’t much to do with St Patrick’s Day BUT that wasn’t a problem however as there is a killer Leprechaun movie that takes place on St Patrick's Day for our convenience! A made for television horror film directed by Drew Daywalt called Red Clover from 2012, originally with the title of St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun (would have been better suited for this challenge!) the title was changed to Leprechaun's Revenge when it aired on the Syfy Channel but switched back to Red Clover for its DVD release! It all starts kicking off in fictional town of Keening, Massachusetts.  While out hunting Karen O'Hara (Courtney Halverson) picks a red clover, releasing a deadly Leprechaun which starts picking off citizens as they prepare for their St Patrick’s Day celebrations (eating gold as it goes about it). We find out that this Leprechaun had been previously banished by the town’s folk for similar reasons and so it’s up to Karen to put it back where she found it, aided by lucky horseshoes and her town drunk grandfather (William Devane) and town sheriff father played by Billy Zane. The film maker’s decision to distance itself from the traditional Leprechaun depictions more associated with Warick Davis’s version by having the creature appear more goat like gives the story more of a Cryptozoology feel, which I felt was reminiscent of another Syfy Channel movie, Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005) which I also liked. As previously said, quite a detour from our usual themes and perhaps not as well known- but a lot of fun, be sure to check it for out for yourselves next year, until then I’ll see you back here for Mother’s Day!   

*Technical difficulties originally posted on 17/3/2019    

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 1 March 2019

Join Arfon’s Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club!

Sticker #1 A Killer Shrew!
Well, the Women in Horror Art Show has ended, so it’s on to my next venture.... Patreon!
Aside from working on the commissions I have, I am also working on numerous projects of my own, specifically a self published book of 30 individual paintings devoted to monster/ horror related nostalgia from 1980’s and 90’s that I hope to launch at my very own solo art show at the end of the year! It’s a lot of work but I believe in it and I want to make it happen- but it’s not easy and for some time now I’ve been told I should try Patreon, as it helps artists receive additional funding from people who enjoy or admire their work and I’ve wrestled with this for some time, worrying that it might be seen as a form of “e-begging” however, the argument was made that Patronage is how artists used to do this ‘back in the day’ so I thought “why not?” But I must confess what ‘sold’ the idea for me was that Patreon is laid out in such a way that allows creators to provide exclusive content for their subscribers or "patrons” like a sort of mini club if you will, and this interests me greatly!  The other thing that appealed to me is that this presents me with the opportunity to create a unique product for those who kindly support my work; rewarding their generosity, so today I am launching  Arfon’s Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club!

They really do glow- in- the- dark! 
So, for a minimum  donation of £3 (Patron is an American site so it’s listed as $3.99) ) or more a month you will be enrolled in my Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club and receive a new/ exclusively created glow in the dark sticker each month as a thank you for your support! Not only that but your membership entitles you to prize draws, project updates, exclusive behind the scenes content and the opportunity to nominate next month’s sticker allowing you to be a part of a community and not forgetting that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you are supporting me and my work!
Each vinyl sticker (measuring 100mm x 50mm) will be numbered and will feature a design that harks back to classic monster stickers of the past.  Created by yours truly,  they really do Glow- in- the- Dark! Suitable for sticking on things or just collecting, your collection will grow each month, I want this to be a fun venture and I hope you will join me by showing your support!
Not for you? Fair enough perhaps you will bring this to the attention of someone that might? 
Thanks in advance!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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