Happy Thanksgiving to Our American Friends


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Excelsior - A Tribute to Stan Lee



When I was a young boy, I, like many other kids, collected comic books. The super powered beings in the colourful costumes doing amazing things that regular people could only dream of were so appealing to me. The world of superheroes drew me in as a form of escapism before I even knew what the concept meant.

I didn’t discriminate against any brand when it came to purchasing the newest book on the shelf, whether it be Marvel, DC, Image, or even some of the lesser-known publishing companies. If they had a superhero with an interesting look, I would give it a chance. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have my favourite of course… and that is what brings me to writing this article in the first place.

Marvel comics had one big edge over their competition and his name was Stan Lee. While he didn’t create all my favourite characters, he did have a hand in quite a few of them. His secret was to humanize his characters. No matter how powerful his creations could become, they always had some flaws which humanized them so that they could become more relatable to the reader. Relatable to me.

Photo by Matt Carr, Getty Images

Photo by Matt Carr, Getty Images

I then discovered this wonderful thing which has, if I am to be totally honest, held me under its spell to this very day… Marvel Studios. Okay, technically it wasn’t called Marvel Studios back then but I am talking about their TV and film industries. It started with the Saturday morning cartoons but quickly expanded into live action with reruns of The Incredible Hulk series. It was here that I saw for the first time ever, a Stan Lee cameo.

I was so hooked that I was giving up on my other activities. Baseball? Who needs it? Hockey? Not when they practice on Saturday mornings. Please… I have cartoons to watch.

It was these well told stories and characters that led to me spending many an hour drawing my own versions of the heroes I saw on the page, writing stories and embracing my own creativity. Without them, I doubt you would even be reading this article right now as I would have never developed the confidence to make any of my writing public. That sentiment goes double for my artwork.

As I grew older, my interest never faltered. So intrigued was I, that I was even willing to sit through and secretly enjoy such horrible films as Howard the Duck, the 1970’s Fantastic Four movie by Roger Corman, and even The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren of all people. It was my dedication to the dream of one day seeing Stan Lee’s true vision on the screen, that kept me watching these laughable flicks.

Now, with the MCU having exploded over the last 20 years (thank you Kevin Feige), never have the heroes of my youth been so prominent in common culture and neither has the most recognizable name behind the scenes… Stan Lee. His cameos have become one of the most anticipated scenes in each new movie that comes out and always brings a deafening cheer in the theatre.

So, I just wanted to take this moment to give my thanks to Stan Lee. He has inspired countless people and, though I did not know him personally, I know he was beloved and will be greatly missed by all.


Art by Lee Weeks, from the cover of Spider-Man Death & Destiny Vol. 2

Art by Lee Weeks, from the cover of Spider-Man Death & Destiny Vol. 2

31 Movies for 31 Days of Hallowe'en 2018 Edition



[John] After our 31 last year, I asked Lana if our theme for 2018 could be Asian horror. Lana started the list almost immediately and it was a short time later that he had finished choosing the titles.

[Lana] We didn’t have a lot of Asian horror movies in our collection so I felt that it was important that I made sure that I found more than 31 movies to make it through the list. I thought we could always switch out titles if we needed to, when the time drew nearer.

[John] Immediately we realized, as we sat down to watch our first movie, that a number of our selections for this year were more than two hours long. This is important to note when you have to plan how to manage 31 movies over a one-month period. In that moment, we decided to watch the longer ones when we had more time to spend. This strategy helped a lot. Every year I'm left wondering how we are going to manage this; at the very least it is a daunting feat and I am always surprised at the end that we made it. And always, every year, part-way through I begin wondering how many more movies I can watch. Even if they aren’t scary, after about 10 or 12 my brain begins to cry a little and my dreams become strange and disturbing. That doesn’t seem to stop me though, and when we completed our task for this year, we celebrated with yet one more horror movie (not to be included with this list). I guess I figured my dreams didn’t need to end quite yet.

[Lana] Despite the challenges, we always manage to get through it, for better or for worse. Sure, we may be a little extra tired and yes, maybe we might not get to everything else we want to do during the month, but I feel it is well worth it to accomplish this kind of task.

[John] And sure, maybe for at least one of us, the brain is left a little changed - warped - for a while after (permanently?).

For as much as this month scares me because of the challenge to watch 31 horror movies (at least) that will inevitably mess with my head, I do look forward to it and I do enjoy it. I have decided that I neither want nor need to know what that may say about me.

[Lana] You are such a trooper John. Thank you for taking this journey with me every October… it wouldn’t be the same without you.

So, without further ado, here are our 31 Movies for the 31 Days of Hallowe’en, 2018 edition.

1. Gwoemul (The Host) (2006, South Korea)

[John] There were some actors we recognized in this creature feature wherein a giant fish of sorts is created from chemicals in the river. A man’s granddaughter is captured by the creature and the rest of the movie centres around her family trying to rescue her. This movie had some funny effects. It was a comical movie with some emotional moments and overall I found it enjoyable.
[Lana] I am not a big fan of “monster movies” but this was actually fairly decent. I think the edge of comedy made it a little more pleasurable for me.

2. Bhoot (Ghost) (2003, India)

[John] This was an interesting take on a possession/revenge story. It was not scary. I do enjoy seeing other countries and cultures and how they present the stories we have become so accustomed to seeing. The house maid was the creepiest aspect of this movie. Also, did no one notice that the doll kept changing places in the apt?
[Lana] That is the problem with creepy house maids - they are always moving your stuff around on you without asking… especially dolls.

3. Ek Thi Daayan (Once There Lived a Witch) (2013, India)

[John] This one centred around a magician, "Bobo the Baffler", and his life torture after his little sister and father die at same time. It was funny and even had Bollywood musical scenes (to be noted, I’m quite a fan of Bollywood so the musical scenes made me happy).
[Lana] This was my first experience with Bollywood-style horror and I am still having a hard time getting used to characters breaking out in song in the middle of my horror movies. Not that I could really take a movie with someone named “Bobo the Baffler” seriously.

4. I Saw The Devil (2010, South Korea)

[John] This one begins with a girl who has flat tire and sits in her car awaiting the tow truck she ordered. While waiting, a man shows up and offers to change her tire for her. Though she politely declines, he insists. This is never an indication of something good happening in a movie. This one is quite violent and bloody and thus I spent much of it looking away and trying to keep my tummy in a calm state. It was not what we had signed up for.
[Lana] This was perfect if your idea of a good horror movie is a gore-filled, bloody splatter-fest. Since John and I are more into the psychological horror or supernatural type of film, like she said, this was way too much for us. I can usually handle this type quite a bit better than John can and even I was well past my limit with this one.

5. Dark Water (2002, Japan)

[John] This is the original to the American remake with Jennifer Connelly. I saw this original version not long after it was released on DVD (back in the days we could go to a video store and rent movies... I really miss those times). I saw the remake too and I still prefer the original. It was nice to have a familiar one after being filled with bloody violence in the previous movie.
[Lana] I agree that this original is far superior to the American remake (as is the norm when it comes to remakes not meeting the quality of the original film).

6. The Doll Master (2004, South Korea)

[John] Dolls with souls seeking vengeance and love. This was a cross between Hill House and The Dolls (Lana says Chucky but I have not yet been able to bring myself to watch that one). There were some creepy moments and some serious cheese in this one, and more blood than I had wanted but not as bad as others. It was comical in many parts but it had dolls. Need I say more?
[Lana] I was a little surprised at how well John did with this movie considering her aversion to dolls. The premise of the movie was extremely interesting and with a little less cheesiness they could have had a masterpiece.

7. Kourei (Séance) (1999, Japan)

[John] A sound technician is married to a psychic (they called her a psychic in the movie but we think she was really a psychic medium) and they inadvertently become involved in a kidnapping-gone-bad situation. As many characters do, they try to cover up their involvement because though it was unintentional and uninformed, they were afraid of what might happen to them. So, of course they pay for their mistaken ways. This was not a bad movie.
[Lana] The moral of this story is to own up to your mistakes while you can. When you don’t own up to wrong-doings, things will only get worse.

8. Noroi (The Curse) (2005, Japan)

[John] This movie is in the style of found video footage; a man researches paranormal claims and suffers the results of his involvement. The footage shows his research and some of what may have happened to him. This was the best one we watched to this point.
[Lana] Loved, loved, loved this movie. It felt as though this were being filmed for a real documentary that we might have watched and found enjoyment in, and then they added the intense drama of a major fire and the events leading up to it. Amazing.

9. Shaapit (The Cursed) (2010, India)

[John] Due to disturbing events, a family is cursed but as always, a younger generation comes in and can’t evade the ramifications of their love story. This is another Bollywood-esque film with cheese. It was hilariously wonderful with bad effects.
[Lana] The Bollywood aspect fit into this story a little better with the young lovers but I am still unsure if it belongs in a horror movie.


10. Raat (Night) (1992, India)

[John] A college girl, her parents, and nephew move into a new house and strange things start happening. Visions and disturbing dreams lead to the obvious conclusion of possession. This one was actually painful to get through and we were glad when it ended.
[Lana] To be honest, our time could have been better spent catching up on sleep.

11. Kuntilanak (The Chanting) (2006, Indonesia)

[John] A young college girl moves to a new boarding house in a haunted area. People die because she summons the Kuntilanak. This one was actually not bad. Better than others, that's for sure.
[Lana] I was quite pleased with this selection. Based on real folklore from the area, the idea of using a spirit to do your dirty work is compelling storytelling.

12. The Audition (1999, Japan)

[John] A man’s wife dies, leaving him with their young son. Years later, he and a friend hold auditions at his production company partially to film a movie but mostly as a way to find him a new wife. Deception always leads to good things, doesn’t it? The girl he chooses is... interesting. Things become really weird and then… what are we watching?!? Suddenly it's a torture film?? What is the real story? What actually happened? I was left at the end repeating, “What was that???” I also may have wanted to throw up a little.
[Lana] Apparently John was just as confused as I was. It is a shame, too, because up until the weirdness started, it was a fairly decent movie.

13. Reincarnation (2005, Japan)

[John] This was about a movie being made about a mass murder that had occurred 35 years earlier. The main actress becomes afflicted by the past. Then… THERE IS A CREEPY-ASS DOLL IN THIS!!! Why do we keep encountering dolls? Why? Despite that, this became the best movie to this point.
[Lana] Great story. Very well acted. Just the right amount of creepiness and not too gory. For us, this was almost the perfect horror movie. Although, I’m sure John could have done without the doll.

14. Bunshinsaba (Ouija Board) (2004, South Korea)

[John] A high school girl is being bullied and uses a spirit board to curse the ones bullying her. Bad things ensue and we learn some secrets of the village. Always a small village with secrets and a possession. When will the villagers learn? This one was a good enough movie.
[Lana] Another movie to tarnish the name of the Ouija board for those who take this sort of thing literally. Not a bad movie otherwise.

15. House in the Alley (2012, Vietnam)

[John] This one had a sad core to the story as it’s about a young couple that experienced a stillbirth. The wife is quite depressed and weird things start happening, possibly because the baby’s body is in its coffin inside their bedroom because the wife can't bear to separate from it. Not a bad movie; creepy with some startling moments.
[Lana] Kids in horror movies are extremely creepy. Tiny, falling footfalls of them running around, their decades-old toys that appear out of nowhere and, worst of all, their horrifying, high-pitched laughter that echoes throughout the home; it is enough to send shivers up and down your spine.

16. The Red Shoes (2005, South Korea)

[John] The shoes were actually pink but like every movie revolving around an object, the object must be cursed. I think it’s fairly safe to say that, for multiple reasons, it’s a bad idea to try on a pair of shoes that are just sitting out in the open. This one was confusing and didn't really hold my attention. The blood had a lot to do with that. This was not great.
[Lana] This is one of the huge benefits for me of not keeping up with the newest fashion trends… I’ll never be killed for my shoes. The movie was bloody and somewhat ridiculous.

17. Muoi (The Legend of a Portrait) (2007, Vietnam, South Korea)

[John] A Korean girl sets out to visit a friend in Vietnam, in search of answers surrounding a tale of a curse. Surprise! Strange things happen. This one had some creepy moments and violence. I could really use a movie without violence. Over all this was not the worst movie but was definitely not the greatest.
[Lana] I didn’t mind this one. The idea of a portrait being cursed brought to mind the story of Dorian Gray, fleetingly, though it certainly didn’t end up the same way. Still, I thought it was a well told story.

18. Make Me Shudder (2013, Thailand)

[John] A group of high school boys decide to investigate an abandoned and forbidden building on campus and they unexpectedly find ghosts; hilarity carries us through. There are ghosts in pillow fights and some really touching moments, too. This was simply wonderful. I would probably watch this one again.
[Lana] This was by far the funniest of the movies we watched and I would put it in the top three movies we watched up to this point; maybe even top two. The slapstick humour and intentional overacting made this a comical gem.


19. Ragini MMS (2011, India)

[John] A young couple goes to a farmhouse for the weekend and he has it set up to shoot porn with her as his unknowing and potentially unwilling partner. Two of her friends show up and things go awry, while the friends eventually leave and the couple is left on their own. There were creepy elements and moments I didn't want to watch. There were undertones of other movies in this one - some glaringly obvious and they became more obvious as the movie went on. I didn’t exactly enjoy this one.
[Lana] This was Gerald’s Game meets Blair Witch Project. As John said while we were watching the movie, some of the scenes matched shot for shot without ever matching the quality of either. There were some moments that left us with an uneasy feeling but there was nothing as creepy as what the boyfriend was intending to do. I was more entertained by watching just how disgusted John could get with the creep than by the actual movie itself.

20. Rigor Mortis (2013, Hong Kong)

[John] A depressed actor decides he's done with his life, moves to a low income housing complex, and hangs himself. However, another plan prevents his death and he becomes somewhat of a hero. Odd and disturbing things happen and the building turns out to have a disturbing history of rape, murder, and suicide. Too much blood for me. Too much violence. A totally confusing ending. I didn’t much like this one.
[Lana] This was more supernatural-kung-fu-action-film than horror. It reminded me of those old ninja movies I used to watch back in the ‘80s, with better choreography but the same special effects. It was just okay.

21. Geoul sokeuro (Into the Mirror) (2003, South Korea)

[John] Sometimes you should just avoid looking in a mirror. This movie had a twist that I did not see coming and it was kind of cool. It was actually a good movie. It was almost like a murder mystery/cop show with a touch of horror. I found it enjoyable.
[Lana] Better than I expected… although it wasn’t exactly what I would call a horror movie. It isn’t often that I get caught by plot twists but I honestly didn’t see this one coming and that is always a delightful treat.

BONUS… Halloween (2018)

[John] We always try to catch one horror movie in the theatre for October and when we found out that Halloween was being released, we decided this had to be our theatre selection for 2018. It didn’t quite fit our theme for this year so we had to call it a bonus movie and not consider it one of our 31. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one and while nothing can ever touch the original, this was actually really good. I loved the twists they made on the first one and of course, it’s well set up to give us some more installments.
[Lana] I don’t know how many Halloween movies there have been in the franchise so far but I can say that this is my favourite to come out since the original. The well-placed Easter eggs, to anyone who knows the film series, are genius little nods to forty years of history.


22. Bandh Darwaza (1990, India)

[John] This was disturbing on a few levels, mainly that a woman had to give herself to a demon so she could have a child for her husband. Of course there are strings attached - if it's a girl it must be given back to the demon. This one was a really long and relatively boring movie. It might not have actually been that long but it dragged so much that it felt like we spent a few hours wishing for it to end. I give this one a “Meh”.
[Lana] This was supposed to be a serious movie. I don’t think it is a good thing when you laugh all the way through something that is supposed to have been a serious movie. The effects they used for the “demon” (which was a guy who was playing a vampire in the worst make-up I have seen since my high school drama classes) were hilariously bad and they kept focussing on and doing close-ups of this bat sculpture that looked like some rubbery thing you could buy from a dollar store. This was just wrong.

23. Memento Mori (1999, South Korea)

[John] Okay. High school girls, a diary, young love, a suicide, obsession, and haunting. Not scary but in some ways a bit interesting and different. Horror? Ummm… not so sure about that.
[Lana] This is apparently the middle movie of a trilogy, although each movie is said to stand on its own without needing to see the others. It definitely wasn’t scary at all. I did like the story but it wasn’t really a horror. I guess anything with a ghost in it is deemed a horror by some people.

24. Panic-Ghost Apartment (2018, Hong Kong)

[John] A girl kills herself by jumping from a balcony and then some time later three young adults die the same way. This one had some interesting and curious approaches but was another one that I wouldn’t call a horror movie. Honestly, it reminded me of a Matlock episode.
[Lana] This was definitely a made-for-tv style murder mystery that may have taken place around Hallowe’en time. In that way, it is somewhat appropriate and I actually got a kick out of it.

25. Shutter (2004, Thailand)

[John] The original to the American remake with Joshua Jackson, a young couple is haunted for a while before the true story comes out about who is haunting them and why. Yet again, the original is better. Disturbing scenes but not a scary movie.
[Lana] I love that they use the unique angle that the ghost can only be see in photographs. This wasn’t a bad movie but not one of my favourites.

26. Chit Sam Phat (I Can See Ghosts) (2017, Indonesia)

[John] A lawyer can see the dead and through his work he helps people heal their karma but doesn’t do the same digging required for his own. Through some interesting events, he is led to his own truth. This one wasn't bad but it could have been much better.
[Lana] I agree. The concept was great but they could have taken it so much further to make a better movie.

27. Mata Batin (The Third Eye) (2017, Philippines)

[John] I really liked this movie. A young girl can see and hear things that others can’t. Through a series of unfortunate events, she and her older sister are forced to move into their childhood home, the source of much unhappiness for the younger sister. In an effort to help her younger sister, the older girl has her third eye opened. You can probably guess some of what happens following that experience. This was a good, entertaining movie.
[Lana] After realizing that we were running out of time and still had quite a few two-plus hour movies left on my original list that I had created last year, I did a little digging to find some alternatives. I am so happy that this was one of those movies. I fell in love with this movie and plan on watching it again. It would be a great film for people who are tempted to dabble in the paranormal, to watch just to see what pitfalls could potentially lie ahead of them by going in without any prior knowledge.


28. Chanthaly (2012, Laos)

[John] A young girl loses her mom at a young age and grows up quite isolated from society. Her father lies to her about how her mother died and as she begins to question things, she begins to see things. This was a good movie with a different, albeit abrupt, ending.
[Lana] The majority of the movie, I found myself feeling sorry for the sickly young girl being kept in isolation by her father. The haunting scenes were just starting to get good when the movie ended.

29. Miemien Hantu Posesif (Miemien The Possessive Spirit) (2015, Indonesia)

[John] With the majority of these movies, we didn’t entirely know what we were getting ourselves into. This was another comedic horror spoof. The Orange Ghost brings with her tender moments and hilarity. I think my favourite scene was the spoof of Samara climbing out of the TV set and stealing the main character’s drink box and chips. While again not a scary movie, it was entirely worth our time.
[Lana] This was another replacement. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to add it to the list… it looked too cheesy to pass up. It certainly lived up to expectation. It was hilariously bad in that great way that leave you chuckling for the rest of the night. I know that we were originally aiming for horror movies but I just couldn’t help myself with this one.

30. Perngmang (The Haunted Drum) (2007, Thailand)

[John] Despite the gruesome, bloody, violent scenes, this was a good movie (I didn’t watch those scenes). When you make a vow to someone, you should really work hard to keep it and this story illustrates the ramifications of betrayal. The story was really interesting, though I’m still quite confused about the relationship between some of the characters. If you can handle or ignore the gore, this one is worth your attention.
[Lana] This movie was about honour and love as much as it was about horror. The lengths the main character goes through to keep his word to the woman he loves and the band he has pledged his loyalty to at all costs, is something that we should all strive to achieve in our own lives.

31. The Maid (2005, Singapore)

[John] Ending off our movie adventure for this Hallowe’en, was a young girl from the Philippines who moved to Singapore, taking on a job as maid to a family. She arrives during the Chinese Seventh Month and is not told of all of the nuances involved with that. Suffice it to say that she is drawn into some bad situations. This was a good movie - again, disturbing scenes and upsetting undertones but nevertheless a good movie.
[Lana] The lesson here is that it is a good idea to learn the customs when visiting a foreign country. The movie was pretty good for the most part, other than those unsettling scenes which John mentioned.

[John] That’s it! Another 31 completed!

Thank you all for joining us again this year… can you believe this was our fourth annual 31 adventure? We are working on our theme for next year, so please send us your movie suggestions and if they are new for us, we may consider them and they might help us find our theme.

If you want, you can click on the following links to see what movies we have covered in previous years. You may notice that the first two years incorporated chosen songs for each movie. This proved itself too much of an endeavour for us and thus we decided to let go of that aspect; thirty-one movies in a month is well more than enough of a challenge.
First annual 31
Second annual 31
Third annual 31

We hope you all enjoyed a great Hallowe’en this year! The countdown has begun to do it all over again in 2019!


Images of Hallowe'en 2018


Written by LANA CARBON

As you may have guessed, John and I enjoy Hallowe’en just a little bit. We love the creepy and spooky so how could we not cherish a day dedicated to that very thing? It is all amazing… the folklore, the stories, the creepy music, the scary movies, the decorations, and of course… the candy. Our annual 31 Movies for 31 Days of Hallowe’en is always a highlight of our blogging year (stay tuned to our next article for this year’s list).

This year, we visited Casa Loma, a local castle here in the Toronto area, which was partially decorated for the Hallowe’en season (the article for that trip will come another time). Part of the tour consisted of an underground tunnel which led to the stables. This was the Legends of Horror portion of our experience and we wanted to share a few photos from this event with you.


We also found a couple other interesting items in other places that we felt we just needed to share as well.


Hope you all had a great Hallowe’en!