Saturday, April 28, 2012


"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary..." Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven is one of the most famous poems ever written. While it is also one of Poe's most popular poems, it did not bring him much financial success during his lifetime. There have been many adaptations of Poe's work in films; most notably in the form of Universals horror adaptations starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karlof in the 1930's and 40's also  Roger Corman's Poe films in the 1960's starring Vincent Price, and more recently in the "Masters of Horror" series episode "The Black Cat", directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and starring Jeffrey Combs. The latest Poe adaptation is this year's The Raven directed by James McTeigue and starring John Cusack as Poe himself in this fictionalized, murder-mystery about the last days of his life.
In October 1849, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) finds himself in Baltimore, Maryland. Drunk and penniless, he attempts to collect payment from a recent review in the local newspaper and to win the hand of Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), despite the protest of her father Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson). Meanwhile, the police investigate a series of brutal murders which bears resemblance to events in Poe's fiction as Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) enlists the aid of the reluctant author to track down the killer. As Poe gets more involved in the case, the fanatical murderer then kidnaps Emily and buries her alive, leaving clues as to her whereabouts. It becomes a race against time as Poe and Fields try to find Emily and the killer while Poe is forced to write and publish the story of the killers exploits per his request or else Emily will die!
With the recent popularity of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr., it seems that the old-fashioned detective story has reemerged in Hollywood. While Edgar Allan Poe remains the originator of the fictional detective story with his The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) which predates Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories by almost 50 years. It is Poe's detective fiction which introduced the concept of ratiocination or logical reasoning, with his own detective: Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin. (although unfortunately, the French inspector does not make an appearance in The Raven.) Although The Raven is based much more on literary themes with strong elements of horror and suspense than the Sherlock Holmes movies ,which rely more on action and the relationship between Holmes and Dawson. The Raven brilliantly incorporates many themes and story elements from several of Poe's stories including: The Raven, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, and The Tell-Tale Heart. In the case of Emily being buried alive is reminiscent of The Premature Burial. Also the Masque of the Red Death ballroom scene is particularly exciting. The most impressive scene visually is the elaborate Pit and the Pendulum-style murder, while very bloody and gory, it loosely references the Saw movies to which Poe's torture story is also an inspiration. The whole movie's atmosphere is full of Gothic "Poe-esque" imagery, such as the cobbled streets, rain, fog, graveyards, blood and darkness.
As far as Cusack's depiction of Poe, it seems very sincere as he portrays the broad complexity of Poe's intense personality. From his very serious, and often highly egotistical literary self, to a very gentlemanly and passionate lover but also a very eccentric, almost manic drunk with a severe temper. While the real personality of Poe is often misconstrued as a drunkard, his bizarre eccentricities are nonetheless characteristics of Poe's unique genius. While many actors have played Poe on both the stage and screen, Cusack makes him very believable, at times a little over-the-top, but for the most part very convincing, particularly in one scene where he gives a sort of emotional soliloquy to his plight. While the character of Emily Hamilton (Eve) is introduced as a love interest for Poe, she is completely fictional! While it is known that Poe pursued many women in his lifetime, they often always ended in tragedy, particularly with his wife (and first cousin, who he married at the age of 13) Virginia Clemm Poe (1822-1847), who died young from Tuberculosis. (In reality, Poe was briefly engaged to Helen Whitman of Richmond, Virginia and then courted Sarah Royster of Rhode Island towards the end of his life.)
The Raven
may not be entirely historically accurate of Poe's life, particularly his untimely end. He did die in Baltimore, although under somewhat mysterious circumstances. He was found on the streets of Baltimore, "delirious" and "in great distress, and in need of immediate assistance...wearing clothes that were not his own." he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 apparently from "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation". It is said that he repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, although it is unclear to who he was referring to. His alleged last words were: "Lord help my poor soul." The actual cause of his death has been attributed to many ailments including: heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, cholera and even rabies, but nothing was ever proven. As a Poe aficionado, I was both excited and reluctant to see this movie, fearing Hollywood would butcher the writer's life and his work. But after seeing it, I was very impressed with Cusack's portrayal of my favorite author and poet and with the director James McTeigue, who also directed V for Vendetta (2005). Although much of the story is fictionalized, I believe it to be a successful homage to Poe. "Quoth the Raven, Nevermore'..."
The Raven Official Website:

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Today is Record Store Day! A day when all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music! While there are very few independent record stores around today and with the increase of downloadable music, record stores are in decline. Even large retail stores like Best Buy or Sam Goody are hurting and they offer very few CD's or albums anymore. I grew up during the time when vinyl records and LPs were still being widely sold and CD's had just started to dominate the music industry, and my family and I had many records, tapes (even 8 Tracks!) and CD's. Although i admit I do use iTunes and Amazon MP3 a lot these days, I still remember the days when you would got to the record store and actually buy vinyl and CD's when they were sold in those long cardboard cases (much like original PlayStation games too). As a fan of music of many kinds (although not all kinds and not just Metal too!) I wanted to celebrate Record Store Day with my list of some of my favorite albums...CHERNOBOGS LAIR PRESENTS: MY TOP 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS! Rock on! \m/

#10 Linkin Park, Meteora (2003) Along with the wave of Nu-Metal and Rap-Metal bands in the 1990's like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park stands out as the most original and innovative bands to emerge in the new millennium. After their debut Hybrid Theory (2000), they built up a huge following and commercial success which would allow them to evolve and experiment musically. With the release of Meteora in 2003, it gained them new notoriety and success. Although i was not a fan of the Nu-metal scene, Linkin Park impressed me and after seeing them live supporting Metallica in Dallas (Live in Texas (2003) I began to follow their music. The deluxe enhanced CD of Meteora includes a documentary of the "Art of Meteora". Songs Include: "Somewhere I Belong", "Lying From You", "Faint", Breaking the Habit", and "Numb".

#9 The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) - This double disc concept album was the soundtrack to my high school years. Although I was a growing metal head, I could not ignore the alternative rock revolution of the 1990's (I.e. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) as I came of age right in the middle of it. The two discs entitled "Dawn to Dusk" and "Twilight to Starlight" was their third album and a major highlight of the bands musical career in defining their virtuosity and unique style of frontman Billy Corgan. Songs Include: "Tonight, Tonight", "Zero", "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and "1979".

#8 Joe Satriani, Surfing with the Alien (1987) - Instrumental rock guitarist Joe Satriani IS a genius! In 1987 he released his second album Surfing with the Alien which is his most successful album to date and earned him a reputation as a respected and virtuoso guitar-player. Surfing with the Alien features Marvel Comics' character 'The Silver Surfer' on the album cover. Songs Include: "Surfing with the Alien", "Crushing Day", Satch Boogie", and "Hill of the Skull".

#7 Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols (1977) The 1970's Punk-era was one of the most profound and misunderstood of the musical genres. With bands like The Ramones, The Misfits, and Black Flag over in the U.S. the punk scene began over in the U.K. with bands like The Clash and of course The Sex Pistols. Released on October 28, 1977, Never Mind the Bollocks is the Sex Pistols most successful and notable album. With Johnny Rotten's vocals, Steve Jones guitar and Sid Vicious bass it is a brutal, intense and high-energy experience. Songs Include: "Holidays in the Sun", "No Feelings", "Problems", and "Anarchy in the U.K."

#6 AC/DC, Back In Black (1980) - After the death of AC/DC's singer Bon Scott in 1980, the Australian Hard Rockers considered quitting but they knew Scott would have wanted them to continue. The Young brothers soon hired Brian Johnson and revitalized the band as they rose to worldwide fame and acclaim. Back in Black marks both the revival of the band and a milestone in hard rock. The album was certified platinum three months after its release and currently is the 4th highest-selling album ever in the U.S. Songs Includes: "Hells Bells", "Shoot To Thrill", "Back In Black", and "You Shook Me All Night Long."

#5 Star Wars - The Original Soundtrack (1977) - Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Williams. Without the music Star Wars would not have had as much impact on popular culture than it did. The music is what makes Star Wars great, it's operatic, it's timeless, it's iconic! Songs Include: "Main Title", "Princess Leia's Theme", "The Last Battle", and "The Throne Room and End Title".

#4 Led Zeppelin, IV (1971) - Released on November 8, 1971, the fourth Led Zeppelin album features no title, only 4 occult symbols and a picture of an old man with a bundle of sticks on his back! Led Zeppelin IV was a huge critical and commercial success and is one of the best selling albums worldwide! Songs Include: "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll", "Stairway to Heaven", and "Misty Mountain Hop".

#3 Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath (1970) - Their first self-titled debut album released on Friday the 13th, 1970 and cost only $1,200 to make and took only 8 hours to record. The albums cover had a very strange cover of an unidentified woman (not Ozzy!) at the Mapledurham Watermill, a historic watermill on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England. The album reached number 23 on the Billboard 200, where it remained for over a year. The inside album art features an upside-down cross with liner notes. Songs Include: "Black Sabbath", "The Wizard", and "N.I.B.".

#2 Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz (1981) - After Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, he would have been lost in musical obscurity to drugs and alcohol abuse, if not for the daughter of producer Don Arden, and now wife of Ozzy: Sharon. Sharon helped Ozzy get back on his feet and paired him with guitar virtuoso Rand Rhoads. The two made heavy metal history with his new band The Blizzard of Ozz (later renamed simply Ozzy Osbourne). Sadly Randy Rhoads died tragically after the release of the second album Diary of a Madman in 1982. Songs Include: "I Don't Know", "Crazy Train", "Suicide Solution", and "Mr. Crowley".

#1 Metallica, Metallica (1991) - Having already built up a huge following without major commercial support from radio or MTV Metallica embarked what was to be a year and half musical journey which would change the band forever. Simply titled Metallica, the "Black Album" was their 5th studio album. After the death of bassist Cliff Burton in 1986, Metallica recruited Jason Newstead for their 1988 album "...And Justice For All" which gained them commercial success for the first time and they even produced their first music video for "One". After that album and a successful tour, Metallica went back into the studio and with a new producer, Bob Rock. The "Black" album so called comes from the simple all-black design of the album with a "Don't Tread On Me" coiled snake. The album would go on to be the #1 selling album in the world debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 28 million copies worldwide!Songs Include: "Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "The Unforgiven", and "Wherever I May Roam".

Saturday, April 14, 2012

TOP 10 90's TV SHOWS

I remember spending ALOT of my teenage years in front of the TV during the 1990's and there were so many great shows to watch! While some are fondly remembered by fans, there are many who disappeared into obscurity remembered only in obscure Internet postings (such as this blog!). Anyway, I've already reviewed the Top 10 90's Cartoons in the past so I was surprised that I hadn't done TV shows yet SO here it is CHERNOBOG'S BLOG PRESENTS: TOP 10 1990's (Non-Animated) TV SHOWS! I hope some of you remember these shows as fondly as I did and maybe I sparked your memories a little while you're sitting there reading this and say "Yeah, i remember that show..." Enjoy!

#10 America's Funniest Home Videos (1989-Current) - While the show actually still exists in it's current incarnation as simply AFV on ABC, the original show in the 90's hosted by non-other than Bob Saget is considered classic! Taking it's inspiration from the candid camera shows of the 70's this show let everyday idiots...I mean, regular people send in videotapes (remember VHS!) of their family videos often doing something incredibly stupid, moronic, and sometimes downright dangerous. Long before MTV's Jackass, AFV brought us laughter of the most sadistic kind as we watched every nutshot with glee! Thank you AFV, now excuse me while I try to water-ski without skis!
Favorite Episode: Every one with a nut-shot! LOL

#9 Saved by the Bell (1989-1993) - Ah, High School...brings back so many memories: the wedgies, the swirlies, the social isolation and merciless peer pressure! Saved by the Bell was the perfect 90's high school, and for someone like me who was foolishly awaiting to enter this world and be the next Zack Morris or Slater, I would inevitably end up as Screech. The show originally began as "Good Morning Miss Bliss" (1988-1989), a Disney Channel original about a Midwestern middle school teacher (Haley Mills) and her crazy class. A year later the show was changed to Saved by the Bell and set in a California high school! Zack and Screech stayed but a whole new cast emerged. Later a "New Class" (1993-2000) would emerge briefly and most of the original class would experience their "College Years" (1993-1994) before dropping out of school permanently.
Favorite Episode: "Mystery Weekend", 12/21/1991 - The students participate in a murder mystery party at a hotel.

#8 Dinosaurs (1991-1994) - What do you get when you mix Disney with Jim Henson and Jurassic get Dinosaurs! Think every other family sitcom whether it be All in the Family or The Simpsons, set them in a fictionalized prehistoric world where Dinosaurs wore clothes and had TV, and you've got one of the most original and bizarre TV shows ever! Who could forget the hilarious catchphrases of the Baby like "Not the Mamma!" and "I'm the baby, gotta love me."...apparently we did.
Favorite Episode: "A New Leaf", 2/5/1992 - Robbie brings home a "happy plant" which everybody gets addicted to in this tongue-in-cheek drug episode.

#7 Millennium (1996-1999) -  F.B.I. profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) has the ability to see inside the mind of serial killers. He joins the Millennium group, a team of former law enforcement officers who believe crime is increasing as the millennium approaches. This was the second show from "X-Files" creator Chris Carter, although the show did not last as long as it's predecessor (only 3 seasons) it was an interesting and often suspenseful show with a highly original concept...that is, until Y2K didn't happen!
Favorite Episode: "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", 5/1/1998 - Four demons trade stories at a donut shop on how they corrupt human souls.

#6 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) - While having very little to do with the 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the TV series became an increasingly popular show during the late 1990's and sparked the career of actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. The show was an ingenious combination of occult action and teenage drama from the mind of creator Joss Whedon. The show also spawned a spin-off in 1999 with Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul, (1999-2004) starring David Boreanaz (Bones).
Favorite Episode: "Halloween", 10/25/1997 - Buffy and her friends buy costumes and a cursed costume shop where they turn into whatever they are wearing!

#5 Babylon 5 (1994-1998) - While criticized by many of being a Star Trek Deep Space 9 rip off, babylon 5 was a very unique sci-fi show. The creation of writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, Babylon 5 was a huge 5-mile long space station that was the center of trade and diplomacy in the galaxy. While the first season revolved around Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare) it wasn't until the second season when John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) was introduced and became the lead in the show.
Favorite Episode: Day of the Dead, 3/11/1998 - Written by Neil Gaiman and featuring Penn & Teller, the story revolves around the Brakiri holiday of the Day of the Dead, where the dead come back to life for one day.

#4 Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1989-1999) - We all love bad movies...and MST3K enjoyed making fun of them! While the show technically featured films in every episode, the show was insanely popular featuring Joel (later Mike) and his robot companions, Tom Servo, Crow and Gypsy are trapped on a space station and forced by evil scientists to watch bad movies! (What a concept!)
Favorite Episode: The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) - A mad doctor keeps his girlfriend's head alive after she is decapitated in a car crash!

#3 Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996) - Based on the 1950's EC horror comic books published by Bill Gaines, Tales from the Crypt aired on HBO in 1989 and soon became immensely popular spawning a children's animated series: Tales from the Cryptkeeper (1993), and two major movies including Demon Knight (1995) and Bordello of Blood (1996)! The horrific host of the show was the Cryptkeeper, an animatronic puppet based on the comic book storyteller, voiced by John Kassir. After seven scary seasons the show featured some of the most talented Hollywood directors and producers such as Robert Zemekis and Richard Donner; and actors including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Pesci, Demi Moore, Michael J. Fox, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys Davies, Whoopi Goldberg, Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Reeve, Kirk and Eric Douglass AND Tom Hanks just to name a few!
Favorite Episode: "The Secret", 7/31/1990 - A rambunctious orphan is adopted by a rich, childless couple who spoil him and turn out to be vampires, but the jokes on them because the kid is a werewolf!

#2 The X-Files (1993-2002) - F.B.I. Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovney) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) search for the truth as they investigate strange murders, monsters, alien abductions and government cover-ups! Created by Chris Carter, The X-Files became a pop-culture phenomenon in the 1990's and spawned two major films including X-Files: Fight the Future (1997) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008).
Favorite Episode: "The Host", 11/23/1994 - When a body is found in the sewers Mulder and Scully investigate and discover the killer is a Fluke-Man!

#1 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) - Although a spin-off of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) which began in the '80's Deep Space Nine was a unique show all it's own. The creation of Gene Rodenberry protegee Rick Berman, DS9 was set on an old Cardassian space station near a wormhole where all manner of aliens ended up. Orbitting around the planet of Bajor, inhabited by the Bajorans, who were basically the Jews of the Alpha quadrant, have finally freed themselves from Cardassian (like space Nazis) rule and have to cooperate with the Federation to maintain peace in their sector. Led by Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), the first Black Star Trek Captain, DS9 became the central point of many interstellar conflicts including the Dominion War.
Favorite Episode: "Far Beyond the Stars, 2/11/1998 - Sisko sees visions of himself as a science fiction writer in the 1950s.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROGER CORMAN! (b. April 5, 1926) Roger Corman is considered to be the BEST B-Movie director of all time, known for his sometimes campy and often melodramatic horror and monster movies. He is also credited with starting the careers of some of the most famous stars in Hollywood including Vincent Price and Jack Nicholson. His most popular films (and my personal favorites) are those based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, known as the "Poe Cycle" which turned Vincent Price into a horror legend! In honor of Corman's birthday and to celebrate the upcoming release of The Raven movie starring John Cusack CHERNOBOG'S BLOG PRESENTS: The Top 10 Roger Corman Films! Enjoy...

#10 The Terror (1963) - Starring an elderly Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson, Lt. Andre Duvalier, (Nicholson) an officer in Napoleon's army, follows a mysterious woman (Sandra Knight) into the castle of Baron Von Leppe (Karloff).

#9 The Raven (1963) - Starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and a young Jack Nicholson. This loosely based comedic horror film where a magician has been turned into a raven!?

#8 X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963) - When Dr. James Xavier (Ray Milland) uses special eye-drops to give him X-Ray vision, he discovers his powers have horrible consequences.

#7 The Premature Burial (1962) - Ray Milland plays Guy Carrell, an artist who grows distant from his new wife Emily (Hazel Court) while he is preoccupied with the terror of premature burial!

#6 The Haunted Palace (1963) - While loosely based on :The Haunted Palace" by Edgar Allan Poe it also incorporated the story of "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward" by H.P. Lovecraft in a fantastic collaboration.

#5 Tomb of Ligeia (1964) - Vincent Prices plays Verden Fell, who is haunted by the memory of his dead wife.

#4 Tales of Terror (1962) - Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone star in three short tales based on the works of Poe including "The Black Cat", "The Case of M. Valdemar", and "Morella".

#3 Pit and the Pendulum (1961) - Vincent Price plays Nicholas Medina, who is tortured by his ancestor who was involved in the Spanish Inquisition.

#2  The House of Usher (1960) - Vincent Price stars a s Roderick Usher, the eccentric last survivor of an old aristocratic family who is driven insane and buries his sister alive as his house crumbles around him!

#1 The Masque of the Red Death (1964) - Vincent Price plays Prince Prospero, a Satanic tyrant who terrorizes his subjects while using his castle as a refuge from the Plague!

Also be sure to check out Fangoria's review of the new documentary: Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel