SHORT: Horror anthology ‘Scary Endings’ closes first season with ‘Welcome to the Circus’

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Online horror anthology series Scary Endings closes out a stellar first season with a blast of clown-fueled mayhem with the moniker Welcome to the Circus. Writer/director John Fitzpatrick (Skypemare) and the usual band of suspects once again conspire to make a horror short that delivers the goods. With this group, you can always count on tight writing, crisp editing, professional lighting and cinematography, and well-realized characters. That’s pretty hard to do consistently, especially in the context of short film.

Here’s the synopsis:

On a stormy night while babysitting her nephew Andrew, Aunt Brandy finds herself stalked by a clown who’s straight out of her nephew’s toy Jack in the Box. The circus has come to town…

Welcome to the Circus stars Adrienne Smith (We Can Be Heroes, The Babysitter and the Boogeyman), Guilford Adams (Parenthood, Modern Family), and Miles Chandler.

So will there be more Scary Endings? Producer Adam J. Yeend says “We’ll be taking a much-needed break for a while, and will let you know when we’re gearing up for a second season.” Well deserved. Rest easy – and stay scary.


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‘Signal 30’ (1959) – Highway Safety Foundation’s grisly film traumatized teens throughout the 60’s

‘Signal 30’ (1959) – Highway Safety Foundation’s grisly film traumatized teens throughout the 60’s

Imagine a tenderfoot in the mid1960’s. No, a literal Tenderfoot – that would be me, 11 years old, a fledgling Boy Scout and member of Troop 59, Deerfield, NY. We are sponsored by the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department, and our meetings are held in their cavernous firehouse on Trenton Road. Tonight, instead of learning new knots or working with topographical maps, we’ll be watching a film. The clattery 16mm projector and screen are already set up, and there’s a palpable buzz in the air. Though this is all new to me, the older Scouts in the room are familiar with this. It is, in fact, an annual tradition – a highly anticipated one.

We are about to watch Signal 30.

For the next 28 minutes, this small group of impressional boys witnesses actual decapitation, bodies burned beyond recognition and crumbling apart, as well as footage of real victims of the most gruesome, explicitly gory violence.

No, our Scoutmaster hadn’t lost his mind – but he may have displayed questionable judgement. Signal 30 is, believe it or not, an educational film, created in 1959 by the Highway Safety Foundation. It was widely shown to high school students across the country throughout the 1960s, usually during school assemblies and in Drivers Ed classes. It was produced by Richard Wayman and narrated by Wayne Byers, and takes its moniker from the radio code used by troopers and dispatchers in the Ohio State Highway Patrol: “Signal 30” meant a fatal traffic accident.

Watching Signal 30 was usually a traumatic, “scared straight” experience for high-school age kids. The reaction among pre-teen boys was something different entirely. We loved it. It became an annual highlight of Troop 59’s year. We couldn’t wait for the next showing to roll around. Are any of you old enough to recall watching Signal 30 in school? Did your Scout troop ever show it to its members?

Signal 30 caused its share of controversy, but managed to garner critical praise, as well. It even went on to win a National Safety Council Award, and spurred a rash of copycat films, including two sequels, with names like Red Asphalt, Mechanized Death, and Wheels of Tragedy. It effectively birthed a genre that culminated in the grotesque Faces of Death series in the late 1970’s.

The vintage stills and 8mm footage seen in Signal 30 predate the era of mandatory seat belts. Cars were built huge and heavy, with plenty of sharp-edged Detroit iron and no notion of crumple zones, safety glass, or shock-absorbing bumpers. Hell, even glove boxes flipped down in those days, presenting a handy cup holder that doubled as a lacerating metal blade in a crash. (My own father lost his spleen to such a glove box door.) Consequently, if you got in a wreck in a car back then, the situation could become dire – even fatal – very quickly.

Today, anyone can watch Signal 30 on YouTube, but it’s not quite the same experience. That queasy sensation you’d get while watching it with a group, the noise of the projector, the cruel joy veterans would get from watching others see the film for the first time – none of that can be duplicated today. If you’d like to see what all the controversy is about, we present, in all its grainy, blood-drenched glory, the original Signal 30. [WARNING: NSFW. Graphic, real-life images and footage.]

SHORT: Horror anthology ‘Scary Endings’ 9th ep summons unsettling ‘The Grinning Man’ (2016)

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: From director John Fitzpatrick, the creative force behind the hugely popular horror short Skypemare, comes a new short in his excellent online horror anthology series Scary Endings. We’ve featured many episodes from that series here at Gourmet Horror, and are pleased to continue that tradition by presenting Episode 9, The Grinning Man:

Inspired by true events: While house sitting his aunt’s house, Karl Ardo gets a strange phone call in the middle of the night from an entity calling himself Indrid Cold – also known as The Grinning Man (Grant Geller). As Karl goes to confront the stranger at the front door, he is about to experience something terrifying and unimaginable.

2016 marks 50 years since someone reported seeing the mysterious Grinning Man. This episode was written using specific transcripts from the 1950’s and 60’s, and Cold’s look was designed by our make-up artist Erika Cho using descriptions given by individuals who had interactions with him throughout that time period. This episode marks the first episode written by producer Adam J. Yeend, who also plays the lead role of Karl.

It’s impressive and inspiring what creative people can do with a deceptively simple premise, attention to detail, and the work of just two actors and a voice. That voice, interestingly, belongs to cult favorite Dichen Lachman, who’s done fine work in Joss Whedon television productions (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dollhouse) and the CW network’s surprisingly engaging post-apocalyptic sci-fi series The 100.


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Concept art by Zach Becker

TRAILER: Rooster Teeth’s ‘Theater Mode’ web series aims to roast B-movie and genre fare

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Watch enough genre fare, and you quickly realize most of it is… well, pretty crappy. That is, in fact, the very reason for Gourmet Horror’s existence. Premiering today (April 29th, 2016) at 4pm CT on RoosterTeeth.com and AchievementHunter.com, check out the new B-movie skewering series Theater Mode. Think a swearier, snarkier MST3K. The team from Achievement Hunter are determined to sit through some of the worst B-movies ever made… and they want you to suffer along with them. Watch along and experience these guilty pleasures of cinema with the Achievement Hunter team as they comment, critique, and pan the film in their unique way. New episodes of Theater Mode premiere each month exclusively for subscribers. 

Theater Mode combines the best and worst of entertainment into a big, disgusting, boob-infused cocktail of blood and poor acting,” says Geoff Ramsey, Rooster Teeth co-founder. “Making fun of the hard work of others has been the cornerstone of our company, and getting to finally do it to films as well? Let’s just say my self-worth has skyrocketed.”

As part of Rooster Teeth’s subscription video platform, Theater Mode will be available exclusively to subscribers (known in the Rooster Teeth community as “Sponsors”) via RoosterTeeth.comAchievementHunter.com, or the Rooster Teeth App. Rooster Teeth’s official mobile video platform is available for free in the App Store and Google Play. Users may sign up for a complimentary 30-day Sponsorship trial in the app, or at RoosterTeeth.com/Sponsorship and receive instant access to all Sponsor benefits (early and/or exclusive access to content, access to live broadcasts, and a 5% discount on Rooster Teeth store merchandise). After the trial period, Sponsorship runs $4.99 per month.

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ABOUT ROOSTER TEETH: Rooster Teeth is a pioneering studio responsible for some of the biggest online series in history, such as the award-winning and longest-running web series, Red vs. Blue. Rooster Teeth also produces the globally acclaimed animated series RWBY, the first western anime series to be distributed in Japan, the award-winning Rooster Teeth Podcast, and Immersion, a reality format that brings video game theory to the real world. With a massive global footprint of more than 25 million subscribers to its YouTube Network, 3 million unique monthly visitors to its RoosterTeeth.com hub and 1.8 million registered community members, Rooster Teeth was founded by Matt Hullum, Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Geoff Ramsey, and Joel Heyman in 2003, and is now a subsidiary of Fullscreen, Inc., a global youth media company that develops online creators and produces multi-platform entertainment experiences. Discover more at http://www.roosterteeth.com.