The League of Tana Tea Drinkers

LOTTD Our mission is to acknowledge, foster, and support thoughtful, articulate, and creative blogs built on an appreciation of the horror and sci-horror genres.

Horror bloggers are a unique group of devoted fans and professionals, from all walks of life, who keep the genre, in all its permutations and media outlets, alive and kicking. Often spending long hours to keep their blogs informative and fun, horror bloggers share their unique mix of personality, culture and knowledge freely to fans of a genre difficult to describe, and fun to fear.

We honor exemplary horror blogs with our own special insignia: one that signifies the heights to which we aspire, and the code of excellence we follow to promote horror in all its wonderfully frightening forms, from classic to contemporary, from philosophical to schlockical.

The League of Tana Tea Drinkers are bloggers who toil away the extra midnight hour to present the best in horror blogging to reach the heights of horrifying excellence. We know what rapture it is to sip tana tea in the full moon light, and feel the thrill of walking the dark passageways in cinema and literature, searching for the unusual, the terrifying, and the monstrous. For the fun of it.

Keep watching the skies, and reading the horror. LOTT D is coming for you!

--jmcozzoli, Zombos' Closet of Horror

September 24, 2012

Goblin Gift Exchange for League Members
for Halloween 2012

October is the one month, more than any other, where boils and ghouls like us LOTT D'ers, who have dreamed about Halloween all year long, can finally get our scares on. While most of us are considered "too old" for trick or treating that doesn't mean we can't still give each other a few treats.

The Goblin Gift Exchange allows members of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers to bond over the month of October by registering to send a Halloween-themed gift to another randomly selected League member. It was inspired by the "Great Pumpkin Gift Exchange" and similar programs.

HOW IT WORKS

Each member who signs up will be assigned another member as their gift recipient for an inexpensive ($10-20) Halloween-related gift(s). Once everyone has registered, participants will have until 10/20/2012 to postmark their gift.

DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION

If you'd like to join the fun, read the rules and then send your information. The deadline to join is 11:59pm CST on 10/08/2012. DO NOT sign up to participate unless you're serious about following through.

RULES


  • All items must be postmarked no later than 10/20/2012.
  • All shipments should have a tracking and/or order confirmation number, submitted to John C. at his gmail address.
  • Once everyone has received their gifts, please respond to John C. to confirm. As a courtesy, we'll ask that everyone shares their gifts with the group on the LOTT D Facebook Group page.

May 15, 2012

LOTT-D Joins the Avengers

lott d joins the avengers
Move over Thor and Captain America, members of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers, those super bloggers of horror (and superhero movies!), want a seat at the table. 
From Midnight With Love takes on the mission..."Now that I have seen it, it is certain in my mind that Joss Whedon is the true hero of The Avengers.  His script, which is filled to the brim with scenes that are honestly hilarious, is also incredibly faithful to the heroes as they've appeared in the comics and films that led to this point."

Gospel of the Living Dead preaches a new gospel..."Really, to call it a great comic book movie is shortchanging it. The Punisher (2004) is a great comic book movie - over the top, two-dimensional, cartoonish violence, with dialogue that consists of grunts and wisecracks. The Avengers is a great action flick, generally. This is much more of a "Team of Bad-Asses Who Don't Get Along with One Another" film and should be compared to those (and compared quite favorably, allowing for tights and people who fly and what-not)." 

TheoFantastique invites Jess Peacock from The Crawlspace to wax on the popularity of The Avengers..."Whedon knows who the Avengers are, what they have been, and where they need to go. As such, he avoids the mistake of reinterpreting the mega-team through a postmodern, nihilistic lens, a trap too often ensnaring other contemporary superhero projects. (I’m looking at you,Man of Steel.) Neither does Whedon devolve into camp (*cough* Green Lantern). Rather, he allows the characters to play in a world and respond to a threat that Marvel has brilliantly pieced together since the release of Iron Man in 2008."

Scared Silly reminds us of the comic book fun... "Last but not least, this weekend sees the release of the live-action Avengers movie, based on the popular Marvel Comics super-team of heroes...Since we’re all about “the classics” here, I’ll leave you with a clever “pre-make” that has been making the rounds – a “trailer” for an “Avengers” film if it had been made in 1952! You’ll spot some footage from vintage serials, sci-fi flicks, TV shows and more in this fun-filled lark."

April 30, 2012

A Visit to The Cabin in the Woods (Part 2)

Cabin in the Woods photoForget the box lunch, you may not make it out alive before noon...when the League of Tana Tea Drinkers gets done with Cabin in the Woods...(read Part 1 if you dare).
Day of the Woman warns us to not read the Latin..."The fact that this film has been sitting on a shelf for a few years absolutely blows my mind.  The fact we've cranked out remake after remake and let this collect dust is a downright crime and I pray to the universe that this sort of situation never happens again."
Cinema Suicide tells us everything we know is wrong..."one of the best horror movies released in years from writer, Joss Whedon."
The Moon is a Dead World ponders the metacritical..."At first, the characters and setting in The Cabin in the Woods feel too cliched. But soon, like the moon bursting through a thick fog deep within the night, it becomes clear that these themes are specifically implemented by Goddard and Whedon. The characters are meant to be this way - no, in fact, are manipulated into being this way..."
From Midnight With Love share the Oompa Loompa love..."To many of us in the horror lovin' community, The Cabin in the Woods has been a real life version of the golden ticket from Willy Wonka for the last several years."
Slasher Speak begs to differ..."While many reviewers will take the position that much of the “enjoyment” of CABIN is walking in cold and not knowing too much about the plot, my theory is that this approach is merely clever marketing on the part of the film’s distributor because if people actually knew what they were paying for, the opening week box office would be far less."
Kindertrauma is for AND against..."For me, there’s nothing worse than a film stuck in the middle of the road. Those are the kinds of films that leave you feeling like you wasted two hours of your life. Even in a typically bad film, there could be something unintentionally hilarious, whether it be an inept line reading, a campy performance, or a delicious lack of understanding of the cinematic language, that makes the viewing experience a little worthwhile."

A Visit to The Cabin in the Woods (Part 1)

Cabin in the Woods posterPack a box lunch and join members of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers as they visit The Cabin in the Woods...
Theofantastique explores the monstrous and the eldritch..."In this post I will supplement some of the commentary previously offered, and present a few observations that are worth considering in light of Whedon’s latest work, and the current state of American horror films."
Freddy in Space has a wet dream..."I'm just gonna come right out and say it.  This movie is way too smart and way too awesome for American theaters and mainstream American audiences.  That's all I could think the whole time I was watching the movie, a belief that was confirmed for me when upon exiting the theater, I heard several groups of people talking about how stupid the movie was, and how they just didn't 'get it'."
Day of the Woman ponders on horror facelifts and non-horror audiences..."As much as I'd like to believe that the sole purpose of horror films being made is to present something to appeal to the fan, we all know it's a load of poppycock.  Films (regardless of genre) HAVE TO MAKE MONEY."
Scared Silly gets lost and visits the wrong cabin..."A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a special presentation of silent films at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (click here to see my write-up about the event). These weren’t just any silent films – they were silent horror-comedies programmed by Bruce Lawton with wonderful piano accompaniment from Ben Model as part of their "Silent Clowns" film series."
Strange Kids Club reveals who's really pulling the strings..."Released last week to coincide with the film, Titan’s The Cabin in the Woods: Official Movie Novelization and Official Visual Companion both offer hours of extended “bonus features.” As to be expected, the novelization (adapted by Tim Lebbon) follows the film pretty closely and as a result doesn’t offer anything new, but manages to provide some “replay value” for those awaiting the inevitable DVD/Blu-Ray release. On the other hand, the Visual Companion comes loaded with awesome content that ranges from an interview with Whedon and Goddard in which the co-writers reveal some cool nuances of how The Cabin in the Woods became what it did (including hints to Easter Eggs and cameos) to concept art, set builds and fear-filled facts about a majority of the monsters. There are literally enough ideas here for at least 2 or 3 films (hmmm… sequel anyone?)."
Don't touch that dial! There's more to come...read Part 2.

March 3, 2011

Groovy Age of Horror Asks: What Do Cute Versions of Monsters Tell Us About Horror?

When my first nephew was born, I started paying more attention to cute, cuddly toys that would make nice gifts. As soon as I found out about Uglydolls, I knew I had to get him one. They're monsters, but cute! Babo (pictured above) is the first one I bought. Two things are worth noting here: 1) the Uglydoll monsters aren't just not-scary--they're positively cute, and 2) much of their cuteness derives from the very features that identify them as monsters. In Babo's case, the usually-fearsome horns and teeth are made to look small, harmless, even silly by how wide the head and mouth are, and of course by being more rounded than pointy. Also, their placement seems to form a line down Babo's face that emphasizes how far apart his wide-set googly eyes are.

Uglydolls are a notable example, but far from the only one, of monsters being depicted in a cute, funny, or silly way designed to make us smile or laugh rather than be afraid. Jim Henson's Muppets, the monster cereals, the Rankin-Bass tv special Mad Monster Party?, and the Monsters, Inc. movie all fit the bill.

The first time I heard of Cthulhu plush toys, I couldn't help smiling, because the very idea of a Cthulhu plush toy seems so ironic and incongruous. How could anything ever described by H. P. Lovecraft be cute and cuddly? And yet:

Again, it's not just that this monster fails to be scary--he succeeds at being cute. And the facial tentacles that identify this as a monster, and specifically as Cthulhu, here take on the quality almost of bunny ears. ThinkGeek's product description nicely plays the horror of the Cthulhu we've come to know and loathe off of the obvious cuteness of the toy:

From "The Call of Cthulhu," by H.P. Lovecraft, we learn of a gigantic creature. It has existed for longer than memory, and has traveled between the stars. It can never die, and its very existence puts all that we know or think we know into question. It is truly alien, viewing humans and our society the same way we would view tiny insects. Cthulhu is a mass of tentacles and claws and feelers and scales. It is truly a vision of a nightmare, which, of course, means it would make a perfect addition to your home or office!

As a charming plush, this cute little monster will be happy to glare evilly at anyone – just for you. Look at that tentacled face – absolutely, other-worldly adorable. Come on; give that widdle, cuddley-wuddley, widdle Cthulhu a kiss. You know you want to. And if you are really nice to this small plush version of Cthulhu, when the real one wakes up…it might not eat you.

Now, why is all of this so appealing, and does that tell us anything interesting about horror? I posed this question to my horror blogger compatriots in LOTT-D, and they've certainly risen to the occasion! Here are the roundtable discussion contributions so far (I'll update as more roll in):


Monster Magazine World
TheoFantastique
Vault of Horror
Cinema Suicide
Classic Horror
Dr. Gangrene
Zombos' Closet

2010 Horror Movie Picks

AHI mummy The League of Tana Tea Drinkers sips a little tana tea, eats a few crumpets, and gossips all about their favorite 2010 movies in the following categories...
  • Best English Language Horror Movie
  • Best Foreign Language Horror Movie
  • Best Independent Horror Movie With a Limited Theatrical Release or STDVD
  • Best New DVD Release Of An Older Horror Movie
 ...and not surprising, the voting reveals a slew of movie favorites. So the winners are...
For Best English Language Horror Movie the Winner is...

  • Let Me In
The runner-ups: Black Swan, The Wolfman.
For Best Foreign Language Horror Movie, the Winner is tied...
  • [REC] 2 and The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
For Best Indie Horror Movie With a Limited Theatrical Release or STDVD, the winner is...
  • Lake Mungo
The runner-up: Buried
For Best New DVD Release of an Older Horror Movie, the winner is...
  • Not sure
But these received one vote each: Night of the Creeps, Psycho, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, The Slumber Party Massacre Collection.

Movies receiving one vote each in Best English, Best Foreign and Best Indie categories: Enter the Void, A Serbian Film, Big Tits Zombies, Mother, Atomic Brain Invasion, Pornography: A Thriller, Make Out With Violence, Primal, Survival of the Dead.

 
 The voters:
Cinema Suicide
Billy Loves Stu
Reflections on Film and TV
Slasher Speak
Evil on Two Legs
Monster Land
Planet of Terror
Day of the Woman
Strange Kids Club
Vault of Horror
Too Much Horror Fiction
Evil Amp
Fascination With Fear
Vampire Bridegroom
Monster Magazine World

August 9, 2010

Druggy Horror Movies

From high teenagers getting wasted--really, like dead, man--to gruesome surgeries done without the benefit of anesthesia, horror movies muster all the terror they can from all those unfortunate social situations and sharp needle syringes that result when mind-altering psychedelics and mad scientist toxic chemical highballs are messed around with. LOTT D takes a look at some druggy movies you won't need to sniff glue to get high on.

Dr. Gangrene's Tales From the Lab gets us all a tingle along with Vincent Price in The Tingler:

One of the more unusual scenes in this film involves a bit of experimentation by the good doctor – drug experimentation. In order to study the effects of fear in an extreme condition, he intentionally injects himself with LSD and keeps tabs on its effects as begins tripping.

Goblin Books boozes it up with The Black Cat:

This is a nice rendition of Poe's tale, which is one of the classic nightmare-descent-into-booze-and-pills type stories. Long before Reefer Madness and VH1's Behind the Music, Poe was punching them out old-school.

Cinema Suicide blows our mind with Pop Skull:

Daniel’s life kind of sucks these days. He ingests a galaxy of pills, both over the counter and prescription, in obscene quantities. His girlfriend, the one, broke up with him to date some douche bag actor. He’s slipping away from sanity, minute by minute and he may or may not be haunted by the ghosts of two murderous brothers and their victim. Pop Skull is a portrait of loneliness, desperation and drug-induced psychosis.

Fascination With Fear cooks up some Shrooms:

Now, if you're thinking this is just a medical mystery-type of horror movie, you'd be mistaken. There is a lot more going on. After Tara ingests the mushroom but AMAZINGLY does not perish, she begins to have delusions, funky dreams, and can apparently see the future in frightening visions.

TheoFantastique joins the shamans and dips into the psychedelics in Avatar:

The virtual topographies of our millennial world are rife with angels and aliens, with digital avatars and mystic Gaian minds, with utopian longings and gnostic science fictions, and with dark forebodings of apocalypse and demonic enchantment.

Uranium Cafe has a cocktail with The Nutty Professor:

The story is a retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde theme, where a quiet and soft spoken man of science finds a formula for breaking down his inhibitions giving him the power to do all the things his weaker but nobler other half can only dream about. 

Zombos' Closet of Horror finds the stash in Trailer Park of Terror:


Tiffany (Stefanie Black) goes tripping and runs afoul of Roach (Myk Watford), who saws off one of her arms for using his stash. When she comes down from her trip and back to one-armed reality, she runs screaming into the mother of trailer trash monstrosities, the repulsively grotund 'where's my meat?' Larlene (Trisha Rae Stahl).

January 13, 2010

LOTT D Horror Comic Crypt: Zombies, Vamps, Alt-Horror, Majestic

Reaper The bells strike the midnight horror. Dare you enter the comic crypt with The League of Tana Tea Drinkers to dig up the dirt on horrifying comics (and those others)? Who knows what you may discover buried deep between the covers. Make sure your flashlight's batteries are strong, pack a good midnight snack, and mind the rats. Now let's go.


The Walking Dead (Cinema Suicide)

You see, everyone thinks that just because I’m a horror fan and I run a website where the bulk of the writing is dedicated to the genre that I am automatically a drooling zombie fanboy because they happen to be the monster of the moment.


The Evil Dead Rise Again (Monster Land)

With permission from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, writer Mark Verheiden set out to do what seemed like the impossible, and recreate the celebrated 80s cult film hit Evil Dead as a comic book.


Six Creepy Alt-Horror Cartoonists (Robot 6)

For my money, the most reliably disturbing and disquieting work in the
genre over recent years has come from artists who produce what you'd consider to be "alternative comics."


Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire)

I'd like to think I'd make a really kickass vampire hunter. I've got a low tolerance for weepy Anne Rice melodrama and an array of fabulous hats that make me an ideal candidate for that role.


Majestic-XII (TheoFantastique)

MAJESTIC-XII is the story of a team of superheroes charged with fighting a secret war against alien invaders. One has to wonder how these aliens–who already control most of the universe–can possibly
be held off by a handful of superhumans, who seem to do nothing but engage in chaotic fist-fights with other superhumans, and moon over each other in constant, maudlin interior monologues.


Peter Normanton Speaks From the Tomb (Zombos' Closet)

His love of the dissolute images and outrageous stories that spring from the unsavory pages of horror comics, to linger in our minds long after those pages have yellowed with age, makes him the kind of person we like to be interred with...for a little chat.

November 3, 2009

Meet the Horror Bloggers: Drunken Severed Head

Drunken Severed Head Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to
blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.



In this installment, Max Cheney of the Drunken Severed Head proves he's more than just a pretty face when it comes to horror.



I am a Siamese, or conjoined twin. My other half, separate--and certainly unequal--but seamlessly connected to my self via an e-thereal broad band, is a drunken severed head named Max. We share that first name--I am Max Cheney, Jr., and I love the weird and macabre.


My love for horror started when in 1964, when I was three. I was given the 5-inch high monster figures "Pop Top Horrors" to play with. Cast in Halloween-orange plastic, they were different from other solid figures, as they had detachable heads that could be popped on and off. I had great fun switching the heads! Making an impression on me that same year was being taken to see The Evil of Frankenstein which featured a toy-like makeup design for its Frankenstein Monster. I learned from watching that film that being scared could be fun. Being born (prematurely) into a blended family, with parents whose marriage was always filled with problems, I was always an anxious kid. Finding a form of anxiety that was thrilling was a revelation!


The following year, I was watching the programs "Milton the Monster" and "The Munsters," both featuring Frankensteinian monsters, and I adored both shows. As a present for my birthday in 1965, I was given a Herman Munster talking puppet. That set me for life as a fan of monsters, but of the classic Universal Frankenstein's Monster especially.


Drunken severed head The first memory of watching a movie with my mother also comes from 1965: I was allowed to watch Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte on TV with her. I can never forget the horror I felt at seeing a corpse dropped into a swamp or a severed head rolling down a staircase. I doubt I had one of my Pop Top Horrors with me while being creeped out by Bette Davis and company, but obviously detached heads were part of my
formative experiences in imaginary horror.


I also recall performing a spooky sketch for a fifth grade Halloween party. A girl in my class and I mimed the actions described on a Scholastic record recounting the tale of "The Yellow Ribbon," where a man falls in love with a woman who always wears a ribbon around her neck, which, she tells him, can never be removed. Of course, he eventually does remove it, and her head falls off. Used my stepmother's wig and styrofoam wig stand for that effect.


My birth mother, who died when I was six, always indulged my love of monster stuff. One of my last memories of her is taking me to a drive-in to see King Kong Escapes. That was a defining real horror in my life. Somehow, embracing my taste in the macabre always helped me cope with that, growing up.


But I still longed for another parental figure who approved of scary things, and found them in in Boris Karloff--by way of television--and Forry Ackerman--by way of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.


When Boris Karloff passed away a year after my mother's passing, I felt grief again. I remember my dad breaking the news to me, and my crying--but also the comfort I felt by his bringing me a new issue of Famous Monsters afterwards.


FM's "Uncle Forry" soon after seemed to address my grief in his "Letter to an Angel" piece in Famous Monsters, where a little boy eventually finds consolation after being shaken and saddened by the death of Lon Chaney, Sr.. I read FM from childhood all the way through my teenage years, during a time
when the counter-culture was scaring my parents. Forry's attitude towards, and articles about, the films and actors of classic horror helped teach me a respect for the past. (I'm sure my father would have preferred that it had taught me more respect for HIM at the time, ha ha.)


The punning writing in FM also gave me a love of wordplay, and showed me that language could have multiple meanings simultaneously. This delighted me, and encouraged me to tackle reading books written for adults sooner than I would have otherwise--classics like Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Illustrated Man. That encouragement took me to the other side of the learning process, as I taught high school English for some years. How lucky I was to have the privilege of teaching the poetry of Poe, the novel Frankenstein and short stories by Ray Bradbury.


Horror in any medium, from its expressions in Halloween traditions, (which I'm blogging about all through October), to the latest in high culture or in its pop cultural expressions, has ALWAYS been an interest of mine. But my interest was often on the back burners of my mental stove (where something dreadful is always cooking) for the duration of my 20s and 30s. But in the 21st Century--a time that as a child I had dreamed of as being strange and fantastic--my interest kicked into the intensity it had once had in my youth.


In the spring of 2002, I was depressed. I was changing careers, and a relationship with my girlfriend of many years had begun to fall apart. But surfing the web, I had found someone with Zacherley's "Monster Mash" album for sale. I had first heard of the famous horror host of the 1950s and '60s in FM, but knew nothing of his novelty records. So I bought it. When I played the album, I laughed, and danced, and felt like I'd returned from the dead! I had the same spirit that I had as a kid again -- and it had been quite awhile since I felt so gleeful! Little did I know how big an influence on my life "Zach" would have.


I began finding more Zacherley music and audio, and watching monster movies again. I also found the message board Universal Monster Army, and got to know other people who were monster kids at heart, and we became friends. Some were local to the St. Louis area where I lived, some very far away. I began to correspond and talk on the phone with some members, such as Jane Considine, who lived in Pittsburgh. I sang Zach's "Gravy"-- one of my favorites--to her one night on the phone. (I will sing a Zach song at the drop of a hat, or a guillotine blade.) She had never heard a Zacherley song before, and was amused. That cemented the friendship.


At that point, like Frankenstein's Monster after his stitches fell out, I
was unattached. Late in 2004, Jane came to visit me, and our friendship blossomed like wolfsbane into romance. She was lively and witty, and she loved monsters in print, on film, and in music -- just as I did! One afternoon over the phone I crooned Zach's werewolf love song "Baying At The Moon" to her to show her how I felt! Soon I went to visit her. My first trip to Pittsburgh began auspiciously; I waltzed Jane into her apartment singing Zach's "Come With Me To Transylvania"! She LOVED the song, just as she loved me. In June 2005, she proposed! So, when I came that month to Pittsburgh again, we went to my first Monster Bash convention, and we announced our engagement to a gathering of Universal Monster Army members who were there, our cherished friends. On October 31st of 2005, here in Pittsburgh, I married my Halloween bride at dusk in an outdoor ceremony. My friends at the U.M.A commissioned a wedding gift of an oil painting of the Frankenstein Monster and his Bride, which we are proud to display in our house.


So how did The Drunken Severed Head come to be?


I shared at the Universal Monster Army an EC Comics-like story I had written as a teenager about a kid who gets into trouble at home. At the end, his scientist parent, who is also a vampire, twists his head off for a respite, knowing that she later will restore him to life. (Yeah, subtle horror isn't exactly my forte.) A friend, Joseph Fotinos, read it, then wrote and posted a parody of my story, casting me as an alcoholic hack writer, and at the end I get my head twisted off by my own fictional characters. Oh, that made me laugh! That's when my bodiless doppelganger, Max the Drunken Severed Head, emerged from me like the Manster. I began signing my messages with that moniker, and when I decided in February 2007 to start a blog, I thought that my decapitated digital doppelganger ought to be at the helm. (Although I usually do the typing, since he takes so long pecking at the keyboard with his nose.)


Keep in mind that weirdness is anywhere you find it, and embrace your inner weirdness--that's my credo of Max the Drunken Severed Head. The blog is an expression of my delight in laughing AND my love for being scared; an exploration of the strange and spooky, from the silly to the sublime, wherever I--or he--find it.