BMD’s 2017 Holiday Gift Suggestions
It's that time of year. Christmas trees. Chanukah bushes. Upside down crosses soaked in deer's blood (if you're Mormon, of course). The holiday season is one of joy and gift-giving, and we here at BMD deemed it appropriate to get together and share what we thought might be great gifts for the crazy geeks in your life. Being the pop culture-addicted ruffians we are, it was hard not to dream up those presents we wish were wrapped up next to our own fireplaces, and then shove them under your tree for good measure.
In considering your pocketbook, we made sure to try and keep these items at a reasonable cost. Except for Phil, because he balls out of control at all times. We've also included links in the titles of all these potential presents, just in case you wanna make an impulse buy or three. Shop safe y'all...
Paperbacks From Hell - The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction
Anyone who enjoys reading has probably wandered into a used bookstore and gotten overwhelmed at the sheer volume of options available to them. This is doubly true for horror fiction, as the books have eye-catching covers and insane plots, not to mention the fact that the authors aren't limited by the MPAA or budgets like their cinematic brethren. But once you omit the big guns (Stephen King, Peter Straub, etc.) you're going to be going in blind to whether or not they're actually worth the time to read. Because unlike an underwhelming horror movie, you can't exactly "read in the background" to pass the time until it gets more exciting. So you can grab a couple titles at random and hope for the best, OR you can invest a few bucks into Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks From Hell, which runs down the history of '70s and '80s horror fiction, categorized by theme (killer clowns! evil children! nazi demons!) and featuring synopses for several.
Hendrix also presents plenty of book covers in his lavish tome, so it makes for a fine coffee table book as well, practically begging someone to flip through it and marvel at the insane artwork that we are rarely blessed with nowadays (bonus: Hendrix also highlights some of the artists for these gems). The book's only flaw is that it doesn't come with a notepad to write down all the titles you'll be perusing your local shops hoping to find. I, for one, haven't stopped looking for Voice of the Clown ever since I read about it here. Hendrix also has a terrific sense of humor (he also wrote Horrorstor, the "haunted Ikea" novel that made waves in '14) that is on full display as he lovingly describes these low-rent page-turners, making the book a blast to read even if you're not using it as a source of suggestion. - Brian Collins
Between Night and Dawn (The Early George A. Romero Blu-Ray Collection)
When George A. Romero passed this year, it was a seismic loss to horror. The man is a legend for good reason, having practically invented the shambling, flesh-hungry zombie we know and love (and have beaten to death in Romero rip offs like The Walking Dead) with his classic trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead). But what Arrow Films - who really are the Criterion of cult home video at this point - have done with their Between Night and Dawn collection is gather up three films from the early part of his filmography that aren't talked about as much as they should be (though, to be honest, the set is still missing Martin). With There's Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies, you get an in-depth look at the master's early years, working in feminist and anti-authoritarian genre cinema. All three are jangly slices of independent Pittsburgh horror, belonging to a single author. While certainly far from perfect, there's enough contained in each to act as a history lesson in one of our late, great American icons' creative tendencies. - Jacob Knight
Margaret Peggy Carter was everything. Friend, sister, soldier, badass, but she was first and foremost a woman. Never once did she sacrifice her femininity in favor of getting ahead in a man’s world, and she was twice the agent because of it. The character embodies all aspects of being a woman, not just the pretty ones that we see wrapped up in pink stereotypes. It’s heartbreaking that all of the various media that portrayed her either cancelled her off or killed her right when the world needed her most, but fans learned a lot from Peg while she was still on our screens and in our comics. First and foremost, she taught us to know our value, and reminded us that anyone else’s opinions don’t really matter.
After I got out of my “I’m just one of the guys” phase, I found myself using purses more and more (because my pants don’t have any goddamn pockets), so my pick for this little holiday ditty is this Agent Carter handbag from Think Geek. It’s practical and lovely, and it’s small enough to not get in your way while on covert missions. Plus, there’s a little pocket for your phone! - Amelia Emberwing
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History
Close Encounters of the Third Kind turned forty this year, and to celebrate Michael Klastorin wrote this fully authorized behind-the-scenes book exploring the creation, production, and legacy of what many still consider to be Steven Spielberg's finest film. Authored in conjunction with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Visual History gives you everything from interviews, to concept art, to little call cards tucked in-between the pages. When I got my copy, I spent an entire night pouring over its contents, unable to believe the depth Klastorin had explored this film in. There are even script pages and concept art included. It's the perfect gift for the Spielberg nut in your life, who just cannot get enough of the iconic American director's first big studio brush with extraterrestrials. - Jacob Knight
Landing perfectly on the Venn Diagram where my horology and film memorabilia itches collide, the Lifeclock One is a fully licensed, accurate-as-hell recreation of Snake Plissken’s timepiece from the 1981 classic Escape From New York. I wrote about this item back when it was a mere Kickstarter project, and though that campaign failed to reach its goal, creator Jonathan Zufi persevered and brought The Lifeclock One to market anyway.
The Lifeclock One (available in screen-accurate “Snake Edition” and a stealthier, all-black “Gullfire Edition”) is no mere prop replica. It boasts an astonishing number of functions for a piece of retro-tech with a total of two buttons: eight world clocks; standard and military time; Bluetooth-enabled remote phone camera control; stopwatch; customizable alarms; pedometer; push notifications for texts and voicemails. By comparison, all Snake’s watch did was tell him how long he had to live (and yes, that feature is also included here).
At $399, the Lifeclock One might be the most expensive watch you own. (Or it might be the cheapest; I don’t know you.) But it’s a limited run, so if this is the jam of someone you love, get on it. The clock is ticking. - Phil Nobile Jr.
mother!: The Making of the Fever Dream
mother!: The Making of the Fever Dream doesn’t actually come out until mid-February, but for the serious filmmaking enthusiast in your life, it’s one hell of an IOU. Far from a traditional “making-of” book, it covers only the film’s chaotic second half - and does so solely via director Darren Aronofsky’s own documentation. With the detail of a crime scene analysis, The Making of the Fever Dream collects shot lists, blocking maps, storyboards, script excerpts, behind-the-scenes photography, editing analyses, and annotations galore.
While most behind-the-scenes books give an overview of the entire production, this one hones in specifically on Aronofsky’s process. The director’s craft is often left mystical and vague; it’s rare we get an insight into the nuts and bolts of directing, as opposed to the hand-wavy “artistic vision” side of things. Ultimately, that’s what directing is: figuring out where to place actors, what to tell them, how to shoot them, and how to assemble the pieces afterwards. Any document of that process from someone like Aronofsky is surely something to treasure.
Fans of Aronofsky or mother! will likely enjoy the book, but filmmakers will get the most out of it, poring over lens specs and set diagrams and the like. No, it’s not out yet, but The Making of the Fever Dream promises to be a comprehensive guide to creating a hellscape onscreen - and managing one offscreen. Get the Blu-Ray as well and write a note that the book's on its way. - Andrew Todd
The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31 Board Game
Yeah, yeah - I know.
I work for the Alamo Drafthouse, which also owns Mondo, so of course I'm gonna be out here stumping for a Mondo product. Think what you wanna think, folks, but lemme tell ya: I have logged quite a few hours with Mondo's The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31 over the last month or so, and loudly accusing my closest friends of being "a Thing" (and lying right to my wife's face every time I'm infected) is possibly the most fun I've had all year. This game pairs very well with booze and paranoia, that I guarantee. - Scott Wampler
Fuck Netflix. If you want classic movies, or even just movies released before '76, your best bet is FilmStruck and The Criterion Channel. The junk we get on streaming everyday is almost worse than what's usually in theaters, and if you want to have a well-rounded cinephile's diet, FilmStruck is the only subscription service for you. Initially a little wonky, they’ve had time to work out the bugs, and it’s available through AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire, with promises for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the near future. Like Shudder, it's an essential to any digital library. - Jacob Knight