Alan Smithee

I had the opportunity to watch Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and jumped at it. Those puppets hold a special place in my heart, much like the Cenobites do, and thus I will always watch the next installment in the franchise. After 2017’s dismal Puppet Master: Axis Termination, I didn’t hold much hope for the latest entry – especially after I saw the redesign of Blade and heard that Six Shooter would be entirely absent. But then I learned that Fangoria, Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, and Udo Kier were involved, and my interest was once again piqued. Could this be a return to the kind of Puppet Master awesomeness that was the best parts of the previous entries?

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon

If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline of the Puppet Master movies, that will not be a problem. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a complete reboot of the series set in an alternate universe. Fans of the franchise need not fret either as the reboot retains several of our favorite puppets – Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch (aka Kaiser) – while introducing some interesting new ones.

Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, and Thomas Lennon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and Edgar (Thomas Lennon)

The movie begins with a brief glimpse 30 years into the past when an evil Toulon (Udo Kier from Mark of the Devil) was found and killed by local police. From there it moves to the present and primarily follows Edgar (Thomas Lennon of Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced and struggling comic book artist who becomes mixed up in Toulon’s return on the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders. Edgar, having moved into his parents’ house, also works as a comic store clerk and decides to auction off his dead brother’s Blade puppet at a Toulon convention. He invites Ashley (Jenny Pellicer of The Bridge TV series) along, his boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites himself along, and the trio set out for what they hope will be a fun and somewhat profitable weekend.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich uses the convention to reveal Toulon’s past in this universe, primarily via the tour of Toulon Mansion as led by one of the officers from the original case 30 years earlier, retired officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton), who outlines the details of the events surrounding the Toulon Massacre. Here’s what we learn of Toulon’s past on the tour: He was born in France in 1907 and eventually entered the family business of manufacturing, selling, and performing with puppets. At this point, Doreski points out that three of the museum’s puppets are missing – Kaiser aka Torch, Pinhead, and a new puppet called Amphibian. In this universe, Toulon fled to Germany after arrests in Paris, Norway, and Luxemborg and likewise fled to the US after the Third Reich surrendered. Toulon’s Nazi roots are underscored by his choice of victims as well as the paraphernalia and the remains of his library, a library that includes three books from Adolf Eichmann, author of the Reich’s “Final Solution”. After a pass through Toulon’s workshop, the tour concludes with an exterior shot of Toulon’s tomb, complete with spikes on top that do not go with the rest of the architecture.

Toulon's tomb in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Andre Toulon’s tomb

And that’s the basic set up for the puppet mayhem.

Nelson Franklin and Charlyne Yi in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and Nerissa (Charlyne Yi )

Once the puppets are in town, they’re let loose on everyone. Primarily targeting people the Nazis did, the puppets do what they do best. I’ll not go into details about the kills, but I will say that they are a lot of fun. There are some creative kills with both the old puppets and the new additions, and the effects are a delight. Fear not, gorehounds, you will be satisfied. While I miss the older puppets that have been omitted, I’m pleased with the results of the new ones as well as the differences in how the traditional puppets are portrayed – something I honestly did not think I would like.

Alex Beh and Michael Pare in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Hotel manager Howie (Alex Beh) and Det. Brown (Michael Paré)

The performances were top notch, and Udo Kier’s Toulon oozed skeeze and evil. Lennon, Pellicer, and Franklin are all excellent in their roles. Lennon’s performance is understated, but that works well for this story. Pellicer as the tough but sexy girl next door is both believable and likable, making the blossoming romance subplot less annoying than they usually are. Franklin holds his own with both and, to both Franklin’s and the movie’s credit, he’s not a caricature. Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here ) is, as always, awesome and crushes every scene. Michael Paré (Village of the Damned (1995)) plays Detective Brown, the unlucky officer investigating the disappearance of multiple puppets brought to town for auction, and nails the role. In a delightful twist to the usual fare, when faced with puppets acting on their own, Paré’s detective goes with it. Rounding out the main cast are Alex Beh (Sugar) as hotel manager Howie, Charlyne Yi (House – TV series) as comic fan and waitress Nerissa, and Skeeta Jenkins (Summer of ’67) as bartender Cuddly Bear. All work well with this script and as an ensemble.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was filmed at the same time as Puppet Master: Axis Termination, but the two could not be further apart in tone and execution. While Puppet Master: Axis Termination follows Toulon’s story as an opponent of the Nazis, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich places Toulon in the Third Reich for this alternate universe. Written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a worthy entry in the franchise. Indeed, given the last few movies in the original universe, this was a wise move and offers an entirely new storyline to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler

8/10 claw scratches for this alternate universe Puppet Master reboot

BONUS: Puppet Gallery

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

I had the opportunity to watch Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and jumped at it. Those puppets hold a special place in my heart, much like the Cenobites do, and thus I will always watch the next installment in the franchise. After 2017’s dismal Puppet Master: Axis Termination, I didn’t hold much hope for the latest entry – especially after I saw the redesign of Blade and heard that Six Shooter would be entirely absent. But then I learned that Fangoria, Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, and Udo Kier were involved, and my interest was once again piqued. Could this be a return to the kind of Puppet Master awesomeness that was the best parts of the previous entries?

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon

If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline of the Puppet Master movies, that will not be a problem. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a complete reboot of the series set in an alternate universe. Fans of the franchise need not fret either as the reboot retains several of our favorite puppets – Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch (aka Kaiser) – while introducing some interesting new ones.

Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, and Thomas Lennon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and Edgar (Thomas Lennon)

The movie begins with a brief glimpse 30 years into the past when an evil Toulon (Udo Kier from Mark of the Devil) was found and killed by local police. From there it moves to the present and primarily follows Edgar (Thomas Lennon of Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced and struggling comic book artist who becomes mixed up in Toulon’s return on the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders. Edgar, having moved into his parents’ house, also works as a comic store clerk and decides to auction off his dead brother’s Blade puppet at a Toulon convention. He invites Ashley (Jenny Pellicer of The Bridge TV series) along, his boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites himself along, and the trio set out for what they hope will be a fun and somewhat profitable weekend.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich uses the convention to reveal Toulon’s past in this universe, primarily via the tour of Toulon Mansion as led by one of the officers from the original case 30 years earlier, retired officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton), who outlines the details of the events surrounding the Toulon Massacre. Here’s what we learn of Toulon’s past on the tour: He was born in France in 1907 and eventually entered the family business of manufacturing, selling, and performing with puppets. At this point, Doreski points out that three of the museum’s puppets are missing – Kaiser aka Torch, Pinhead, and a new puppet called Amphibian. In this universe, Toulon fled to Germany after arrests in Paris, Norway, and Luxemborg and likewise fled to the US after the Third Reich surrendered. Toulon’s Nazi roots are underscored by his choice of victims as well as the paraphernalia and the remains of his library, a library that includes three books from Adolf Eichmann, author of the Reich’s “Final Solution”. After a pass through Toulon’s workshop, the tour concludes with an exterior shot of Toulon’s tomb, complete with spikes on top that do not go with the rest of the architecture.

Toulon's tomb in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Andre Toulon’s tomb

And that’s the basic set up for the puppet mayhem.

Nelson Franklin and Charlyne Yi in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and Nerissa (Charlyne Yi )

Once the puppets are in town, they’re let loose on everyone. Primarily targeting people the Nazis did, the puppets do what they do best. I’ll not go into details about the kills, but I will say that they are a lot of fun. There are some creative kills with both the old puppets and the new additions, and the effects are a delight. Fear not, gorehounds, you will be satisfied. While I miss the older puppets that have been omitted, I’m pleased with the results of the new ones as well as the differences in how the traditional puppets are portrayed – something I honestly did not think I would like.

Alex Beh and Michael Pare in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Hotel manager Howie (Alex Beh) and Det. Brown (Michael Paré)

The performances were top notch, and Udo Kier’s Toulon oozed skeeze and evil. Lennon, Pellicer, and Franklin are all excellent in their roles. Lennon’s performance is understated, but that works well for this story. Pellicer as the tough but sexy girl next door is both believable and likable, making the blossoming romance subplot less annoying than they usually are. Franklin holds his own with both and, to both Franklin’s and the movie’s credit, he’s not a caricature. Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here ) is, as always, awesome and crushes every scene. Michael Paré (Village of the Damned (1995)) plays Detective Brown, the unlucky officer investigating the disappearance of multiple puppets brought to town for auction, and nails the role. In a delightful twist to the usual fare, when faced with puppets acting on their own, Paré’s detective goes with it. Rounding out the main cast are Alex Beh (Sugar) as hotel manager Howie, Charlyne Yi (House – TV series) as comic fan and waitress Nerissa, and Skeeta Jenkins (Summer of ’67) as bartender Cuddly Bear. All work well with this script and as an ensemble.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was filmed at the same time as Puppet Master: Axis Termination, but the two could not be further apart in tone and execution. While Puppet Master: Axis Termination follows Toulon’s story as an opponent of the Nazis, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich places Toulon in the Third Reich for this alternate universe. Written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a worthy entry in the franchise. Indeed, given the last few movies in the original universe, this was a wise move and offers an entirely new storyline to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler

8/10 claw scratches for this alternate universe Puppet Master reboot

BONUS: Puppet Gallery




Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

So I was asked to review a film called Leaf Blower Massacre 2. Being a fan of all types of horror, I eagerly accepted. I received two DVDs and have yet to watch the second film, Dirty Sanchez, but the title intrigues me. On the other hand, I was intrigued by Leaf Blower Massacre 2, and my expectations were not fulfilled.

Let me say to start that I expected the movie could execute the title premise in a couple of ways and make it work. It could be a great cheese horror film based on the leaf blower weapon premise alone. While it touched on comedic kills a couple of times, there was something lacking to tip the kills completely into the comedic or horrific arenas. I’m not entirely certain the director was aiming for one or the other but rather whatever works. Unfortunately, having worked on and literally written manuals on several breathing air compressors, I couldn’t help but think about the air pressure level of a leaf blower during a critical scene.

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Leaf Blower Massacre 2, written by Michael Wade Johnson and director Anthony Cooney, follows two parallel stories involving the deaths of coeds; the first story revolves around two detectives (Michael Schmid and Tommy Nowicki) who are investigating the murders, and the second story involves a college professor (Shavar D. Clark) who had taught all of the victims. As the stories merge, the reveal is not as surprising as it could be.

The Pros:

  • Works as a standalone film (The movie itself was a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen, but that wasn’t much of a detriment to the enjoyment.)
  • Practical effects
  • Interesting choice of weapon
  • Cinematography
  • Ari Lehman as Phil the Security Guard

The Cons:

  • Acting seemed forced, alternately flat and exaggerated
  • Bad screen presence/chemistry between the leads
  • Audio was muffled at times and vaguely echoed at others

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Overall, Leaf Blower Massacre 2 comes off as a decent student film, and the actors will improve with experience. The biggest problem that I saw was that it took a serious approach with a weapon begs to be satirized. Taking a more comedic approach would have helped to smooth over some of the awkwardness and enhance rather than detract from the film.

Final Score: 5 of 10 claw scratches

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
Tristan Takes Charge!

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Indie horror darling Tristan Risk is at it again, this time taking on the role of director for her very own short film entitled Parlour Tricks. Risky, as she is lovingly referred to, is a well-rounded artist, to say the least. She has starred in countless burlesques and sideshows, created insightful, personal pieces of writing on her website Little Miss Risk and portrayed some memorable characters on film both in and out of costumes and special makeup (American Mary, Harvest Lake, Frankenstein Created Bikers) I will go as far to say that Miss Risk is worthy of the title ‘Renaissance Woman’ as she continues to add to her list of accomplishments.
Parlour Tricks / Tristan RiskAs for her latest endeavor though, Parlour Tricks is delightful, fun, and quirky — much like Tristan is herself. It’s a tale of feuding relatives attempting to contact their departed Aunt in the afterlife, not for the need of closure or to relay how much she meant to each, but rather for selfish and greedy reasons. Sitting at seven and a half minutes, the short film is a quick and enjoyable watch that utilizes its black and white format beautifully. The cast and crew come together wonderfully in what is perhaps a passion project and quite possibly the first of many directorial efforts led by Tristan Risk out of her House Of Hiss, successfully throwing her hat in the ring for future features led by females.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

The High Priestess of Lowbrow took a few moments to answer some questions for us here at HoTS and we couldn’t be more pleased to share what she had to say!
House of Tortured Souls: What prompted you to dive into directing? Has it been something you always have thought of doing?
Tristan Risk: I had always had it at the back of my mind, but I think it mostly came from writing and wanting to see those stories come off of the page, and I had this idea to get someone else to direct. I am not technically trained, so I was worried I needed to know about lens and craft before diving in. Fortunately, I had really great support from my circle of Topher, Jordan, and Burns, who encouraged me to just do it, and so I went with majority rules.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: You are a ridiculously talented burlesque performer and can easily perfect some sideshow abilities such as fire eating and the ‘hair hang’. Do you happen to have a special place in your heart for the body horror sub-genre? Do you have any favorite horror films?
TR: Body horror is the most frightening of subgenres for me. Because I’ve always made my living off of my body, the ideas, and themes it. The idea that we don’t have autonomy over my body is frightening, and while as a woman we face this every day with not having access to health care that meets our needs with regards to our reproductive health. So rather than have an existential crisis over that, we watch Martyrs and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
HoTS: How long was filming and post-production for Parlour Tricks?
TR: We shot Parlour Tricks in one day on a Saturday in March. The post took a little bit longer as everyone was donating their time to polish it off, but Jordan had us a working edit right away so we got it done quickly, and were able to start sending it to festivals quickly. I’m not sure how long it generally takes, but I’m happy to let people take their time and do the job to their satisfaction.
HoTS: Parlour Tricks is a very fun and offbeat short, rather lighthearted. What made you want to go this route with your film?
TR: I don’t think it’s any shock for anyone who has read my writing to know I can go to very dark and graphic places. I love comedy, and while I enjoy all things horror, I wanted to try something different and showcase a side of myself that I don’t often get to display when I’m in front of the camera. I think I also did it as a mild admonishment to people who are thinking I’d go the safe, shocking route, and that one should always expect the unexpected.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

HoTS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
TR: I just wrapped with the Cronenberg remake of Rabid with the Soska sisters in Toronto, Canada. So when that comes to screens I’m very excited and proud to be part of that production. I’m planning on shooting three of my short films, and to work on some features in the future.
HoTS: How has your time on set of the Soska-led remake of Rabid been thus far? Anything you can share with us regarding your character?
TR: The production was full of challenges, but the amazing camera crew and delightful cast, it was an amazing display of tenacity and talent in equal measure. I was so impressed by the crew and in particular our director of photography, Kim Derko, and our camera operators Paula Tymchuk and Tamara Jones. They stood out for me and showed skill and grace, and everyone from all the departments put their blood and souls into this. I’m fiercely proud to be among all of these people’s number in helping contribute to the making of this film.
At this time I’m not sure I’m permitted to reveal the names of what I play at this time. However, I can share that I do play multiple roles in this film that showcases my skill set as well as a new batch of skills previously not used in any other film. I’m very excited to be able to pop up in a few unexpected places and in such a striking film.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: If YOU could remake any film, what would it be?
TR: Oddly enough, I’ve been tapped to contribute and collaborate on another remake, but I’m going to keep that in a quiet whisper for the time being. If I had my pick of films to recreate and reimagine, I’d be tempted to take on Splash. I’m dying to shoot underwater and feature mermaid myth and lore. I even swim in til myself and have worked as a professional mermaid. I’m wanting to feature all the deep diving babes I’ve met over the years who I think could sell the idea.
HoTS: You have toured in over a dozen different countries in various burlesque and sideshows, modeled, and of course acted. Now you can officially add writer and director to your resume. Out of all these creative hats you have worn, do you have a favorite at all? What drives your need to seek such artistic outlets?
TR: I think just a desire to create. So much of it is visual mediums, and I can translate the write to the visual so easily. I’ve always found release in using my ideas to shape my reality around me, and films give me access to a wider audience to do that. I love live shows and it’s frustrating to channel so much energy into a performance where only a handful of people can experience it. While the stage is my first love, I am always ready to have a long-time affair with the screen, and willing to switch between behind and in front of the camera.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

Domiziano Cristopharo has been wowing audiences in his native Italy for years. So it’s a true pleasure that he is now taking the US by storm. Thanks to the 2018 release of the Director’s Cut Blu-ray of his 2012 film Red Krokodil, Domiziano reached a whole new audience. Red Krokodil chronicles the downward spiral of drug addiction and proves that Domiziano is no stranger to body horror.

Domiziano Cristopharo

His penchant for the grotesque is showcased in his work, and he doesn’t hold back, which is a real treat for those of us that prefer the more extreme end of the horror genre. As a fan who prefers foreign horror, I was honored to speak with Domiziano recently, and to find out what it is that fuels the man behind the lens, and to get a sneak peek at what he has in store for us.

Domiziano Cristopharo

House of Tortured Souls: I read that you’re often compared to Dario Argento and that you’re the first Italian director to revive the erotic/horror genre. How does it feel to be described that way?
Domiziano Cristopharo: Actually, I was recently even described – by a very kind critic – also like a “mix between the Fulci’s trilogy of hell and contemporary American horror” (and this is a comparison that really makes me feel proud to exist)… but I don’t know, I don’t see resemblances in my works, and I would love to be closer/similar just for a 10% to a master like Fulci or Bava.
HoTS: You made your first film, House of Flesh Mannequins, in 2009. What did you do before you got into film, and what inspired you to do it?
DC: I work in tv, stage and film industry by age of 14. My principal job till 20 was acting then I started professionally to realize fx make up, and write screenplays. My intention was to sell the script but was rejected for years in Italy ’cause the contents. So I tried to send it in USA and I was lucky: empire films produced it and gave me the direction of the movie too.
HoTS: Do you feel there is a difference between Italian horror filmmaking and American horror filmmaking?
DC: More than a difference, I see an abyss. I started in 2008 and I did more than 25 films ’till now (including collective projects and productions). In 2011 after my third film I quit work with Italy and Italians. This helped me to become more productive and find a really active market and a field where I get the chance to grow up as a person and as an artist. In Italy I had just two small distributions in those years, DVD of my films are still available only by import. No support at all and useless to mention the hate and rage that fill this field… Favorite sport of other directors and horror fan here is to create a shitstorm round people who have even a small success. Bad, bad, bad.

Domiziano Cristopharo

HoTS: A lot of your work can be described as extreme horror. What is it that attracts you to that part of the genre?
DC: I always loved to explore excesses, I think is useless to offer to an audience – especially as indie – something that already exists. But my concept of extreme is not related in blood, I don’t even use much of it in my films. Extreme is a feeling, is to dare, to show something forbidden, something not socially accepted, not only murders but evil thoughts, nasty actions, uncomfortable secrets. This is also what makes my lead roles so intense and in same time scares actors so much that I hardly find people to hire.
HoTS: You recently helped produced Sacrifice, one of the latest installments to the American Guinea Pig series. What are your thoughts on the rumors that viewers walked out of early screenings of the film due to content?
DC: Aren’t rumors at all. In France, during the “Sadique-master” (a festival dedicated to extreme movies) three people fainted and one puked. In Italy during the “optical theater festival”, a girl fainted and we needed more than 1 hour for reanimate her… Was scary. I’m very proud of SACRIFICE, is the first part of an extreme trilogy (second part is TORMENT by Adam Ford and XPIATION, just concluded, by me) may be the first extreme Italian series by decades. Biro caught the potential of those films and he wanted it so badly in the AGP saga.
HoTS: Poison Rouge was an actress in your first film, and she also directed Sacrifice. What made you want to collaborate with her again?
DC: She acted with me on stage first, we had a sideshow called BLOODY CABARET; then she played in many films: from the debut in FLESH MANNEQUINS to HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE and PHANTASMAGORIA. She also always helped me on set as assistant director.
SACRIFICE was in my thoughts written for a female role, but I had troubles with the actress…
So I asked Poison to replace her, and then finally I gave to her the direction of the movie.
HoTS: What’s your favorite scary movie?
DC: Dunno, I have many… I love classics… and for sure Carpenter, Fulci, Bava, Cronenberg… But also Polanski, Jodorowski, Lynch
Posted by Alan Smithee in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: How It Ends (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: How It Ends (2018)

I have this nightmare about being separated from my loved ones who live thousands of miles away, by a sudden, catastrophic event. I’m pretty certain that my lack of survival skills and penchant for staying indoors at all time will do me in, and I would not survive the drive across country to save them from the perils of whatever is happening.

This brings us to How It Ends, a new Netflix Original written by Brooks McLaren and directed by David M. Rosenthal. It starts out innocent enough, introducing us to a young couple, Will Younger, played by Theo James of Divergent fame, and Samantha Sutherland, portrayed by The Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham. In flashbacks, we know they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first baby, but the big event at hand at this time, is Will’s dinner with Samantha’s parents in Chicago, by himself, while Samantha stays home in Seattle. “Just don’t bring up, the boat,” warns Samantha as Will prepares to leave on his trip.

How It Ends / IMDB

Dinner goes off how one would imagine, and we soon see Will in a video chat with Samantha. Suddenly there’s static, and the call is lost. This catapults both Will, and Samantha’s dad, Tom Sutherland (Forest Whitaker as amazing as always), into Tom’s silver Cadillac, and they set off in a race against time to Seattle to rescue Samantha from whatever is happening.

How It Ends / IMDB

And that’s all we learn. It’s ‘whatever is happening’. While the film isn’t without a few scares and some drama, there is little to no development of any kind outside of the characters. And that’s not even a lot of development either. We are introduced to a young, Native American woman, Ricki (Grace Dove from The Revenant) who fixes their car after an altercation with two deer and a questionable cop, and agrees to accompany the two men on their trip for $2,000 in exchange for car maintenance. But after a pretty dramatic incident involving stolen gas cans and a fire, Ricki takes off and is never referenced again. It’s the undeveloped moments like this that hold How It Ends back.

How It Ends / IMDB

There are some cool car maneuvers and some fun shooting with fantastic cinematography. However, none of that can save How It Ends from imploding on itself. It’s a fast watch that doesn’t feel the almost two hours it runs, but I would have gladly watched a longer film if it promised to not leave me thinking, ‘WTF?’

Posted by Alan Smithee in FAMILY HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing another book by my good friend author Claus Holm. Though born and raised in Denmark, Claus refers to Tucson, AZ, USA, as his “spiritual home,” and this is quite evident in The Tucson Time Traveler, a collection of stories set in and around the Tucson, AZ, area. Part Ray Bradbury and part Stephen King with a bit of Rod Serling seasoning, The Tucson Time Traveler takes readers through tales of alternate, and sometimes fantastic, realities all circling the central theme of time travel.

The Tucson Time Traveler begins with “The Hilter Dilemma”. Right out of the gate, Claus presents readers with an alternate reality based on the much-debated question, “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you”. It is presented from the POV of a German official who grew up after Hilter was assassinated, causing Germany’s rise as the dominant power in the world. Whereas most Hitler and time travel stories focus on the protagonist’s struggles to stop Hitler prior to his rise to power, Claus takes a different tack and does so brilliantly.

The second story, “Tamagotchi”, deals with loss, grief, and the various ways that humans deal with both. Letting go of a loved one is never easy and the hardest loss for most humans is the death of a loved one. “Tamagotchi” shows just how far a grieving family might go to ease the pain of death.

With “I Love Her From The Mirror”, a man moves into an apartment where his mirror gives him a glimpse into another resident’s life. As the narrator watches his neighbor, always careful to respect her privacy, he finds himself falling in love. By turns humorous and thoughtful, “I Love Her From The Mirror” has a definite Twilight Zone vibe.

Next up is “The Killer Inside”, a tale of a man who decides to act out certain compulsions that he never even knew he had. Mostly told from the killer’s point of view, “The Killer Inside” will make you reconsider those urges Poe called “The Imp of the Perverse”.

One of my favorite stories is “The Last Haunted House”. Following two Halloween night stories, the first of an old man building a haunted house and the other of the three kids who choose to enter, “The Last Haunted House” perfectly captures the feel of Halloween to those who love it – both the old and the young. The sights and sounds of Halloween and the haunted house are palpable and bring to mind hints of Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” while the interactions of the children are authentic and believable.

The next story, “The Phone People”, presents a brief interlude in the life of Dave, a man with no past and a job that requires forgetting. Without giving anything away, “The Phone People” has a Ramsey Campbell feel that will leave the reader thinking.

With “The Final Event”, Claus taps into his inner Stephen King and tells the story of a pair of friends who gets their thrills terrorizing other drivers.

Another favorite of mine, “The Harp” is a modern fairy tale set in Smaaland, Sweden. The rich description immerses the reader, transporting them as the story unfolds.

The next to the last story, “The Man of A Lifetime”, will leave the reader wondering about the nature of memories as well as how they shape our lives.

“The Tucson Time Traveler” is the final story and one which dually addresses the concept of memories and their impact on our lives as well as the implications of time travel. Once again, I cannot say much without giving away the story, but I can say that it is a perfect end to a great collection.

I can’t recommend this collection enough. Claus Holm is an extraordinary writer whose abilities to craft a story and create believable characters makes reading The Tucson Time Traveler a joy. Pick up this one if you can!

5/5 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

Harlan Ellison / Fair use doctrine.Around 1988, I had the great pleasure of spending two days off and on with Harlan Ellison. My first encounter was as part of a group of six having dinner with Harlan Ellison the night before he was to speak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When we met him in his hotel lobby, we discovered that no one had bothered to tell Harlan. There were mutterings of what to do, our group asking Harlan because he seemed annoyed. In typical Harlan fashion, he snapped, “Don’t ask me what I want to do because I want to go upstairs and go to bed.” Without missing a beat, I asked, “So should we all go upstairs and go to bed with you?” Harlan’s face was priceless, but the ice had been broken and we proceeded to dinner and an evening I will always remember.

Harlan was cantankerous, abrasive, temperamental, kind, considerate, and a force all his own. I will miss him deeply.

Original cover for Harlan Ellison's Rumble, now titled Web of the City.Born in 1934, Harlan Ellison grew up in Ohio and briefly attended Ohio State University before being expelled allegedly for punching a teacher who had criticized his writing ability. Ellison also served two years in the army in spite of being staunchly anti-war. Ellison published his first work in 1958, a novel titled Rumble, now retitled Web of the City, a semi-autobiographical non-fiction recollection of his time in a Brooklyn gang. The same year two short story collections were published, A Touch of Infinity and The Deadly Streets. After working in television for many years, Ellison published The Glass Teat in 1970, a collection of essays reflecting his opinion of television. The Other Glass Teat, published in 1975, is a follow-up work in the same vein.Harlan Ellison's The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat

Harlan Ellison was an American author whose fictional pieces were often of a science fiction, horror, or sci-fi horror nature, but anyone who ever called Harlan a “science fiction” writer never made that mistake a second time. Harlan eschewed labels that pigeon-holed his writing. Ellison’s 1,700+ published works include teleplays, screenplays, novellas, comic book scripts, and short stories as well as essays and critiques of television, film, literature, and more. For his work, Ellison has won Jupiter, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Writer’s Guild of America, and Edgar awards. In 2000, Ellison also received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for his contributions to the field of horror literature.

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog

Ellison’s work can be seen on television shows such as Star Trek, The Sixth Sense, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Hunger, Logan’s Run, and Babylon 5. In 1975, Ellison’s novella A Boy and His Dog was adapted into a movie with a very young Don Johnson and a (not as young) Jason Robards (Harlan, though not pleased with the adaptation, kindly autographed my copy). His 1967 short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, a post-apocalyptic tale of sentient computers and suffering humans, won the Hugo award that year and is often considered one of the greatest post-apocalyptic stories of the 20th Century.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison's "The City on the Edge of Forever", one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”, one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

Ellison was also known for taking a vocal stand when he perceived that his work was being butchered or his creative contributions undermined. When this happened, Ellison would direct that the credits read Cordwainer Bird – save when he disagreed with changes to the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”. Interestingly, both Ellison’s original script and the shooting script won awards, the former being the Writers Guild for best episodic television drama (1968) and the latter being a Hugo for best dramatic presentation (1968). This episode also inspired the punk band Edith Keeler Must Die and the song “Edith Keeler Must Die” by Arigon Starr, both named after Spock’s assertion that, “Jim, Edith Keeler must die.” Nevertheless, while Hollywood may’ve not appreciated his efforts, Constant Readers certainly did. For fans, the name Cordwainer Bird immediately evokes knowing nods and “Um-hms”.

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Regardless of his irascibility, his work has influenced countless other authors. Stephen King speaks fondly of Harlan and other authors who helped answer questions for Danse Macabre, his 1981 non-fiction book on horror in media.

Lastly, thanks are due to the writers— Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Jack Finney, Peter Straub, and Anne Rivers Siddons among them— who were kind enough to answer my letters of enquiry and to provide information about the genesis of the works discussed here. Their voices provide a dimension to this work which would otherwise be sadly lacking.
— Stephen King

I think that sentiment is as appropriate now – Harlan’s death will leave the world and the world of fiction sadly lacking. Rest in peace, Mr. Ellison.

I’d like to end this with another anecdote from my adventure with Harlan. Among the many outstanding moments, this one stands out above the others.

After dinner, we walked around 5-Points South and stopped to look over some items in the window of Memory Lane. I spotted a button that read “WAR is Menstruation ENVY” and laughed outrageously. We all agreed that it was awesome. The following day Harlan spoke to a small group from the UAB Honors Program. I arrived late to find that he had saved me a seat beside him. As I sat down, Harlan presented that same button to me. I still have it.

Thank you, Harlan. Rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, OBITUARY, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
SyFy Announces Clive Barker’s Nightbreed TV Series

SyFy Announces Clive Barker’s Nightbreed TV Series

Nicholas Vince as Kinski in Nightbreed (1990)

Nicholas Burman-Vince as Kinski in Nightbreed (1990)

Cabal, Clive Barker’s 1988 novella about a man’s struggle with self-demons and ultimate attempt to find the mythical(?) sanctuary city of Midian, is being brought to TV by SyFy, Morgan Creek Entertainment (Nightbreed (1990) directed by David Cronenberg), Universal Cable Prods, and writer Josh Stolberg,

SyFy’s Nightbreed will explore race relations in the US using the human-monster dichotomy displayed throughout the novella. The story will follow a group of subterranean monster-humans forced to find another place to live after their home is destroyed.

Doug Bradley as Dirk Lylesberg in Nightbreed (1990)

Doug Bradley as Dirk Lylesbergi in Nightbreed (1990)

Before I continue, I want to talk a bit about the movie Nightbreed, which gets some criticism, but should it? For me, I had a difficult time relating to the protagonist because of the casting choice and likewise his girlfriend. However, every other performance blew me away. I have mixed feelings. It’s nothing against either of the actors; they just didn’t click with me. Watch and decide for yourself.

Horror TV series are popular right now, The Walking Dead is still going in spite of the departure of Andrew Lincoln, Ash vs Evil Dead was doing well but not well enough for Starz, I (okay, borderline horror for the younger set) seems popular, Supernatural still pushing it on Netflix, and scores more. But, people are dropping cable packages to watch online. What does this say for the possibility of a win with this one?

Simon Bamford as Ohnaka with friend in Nightbreed (1990)

Simon Bamford as Ohnaka with friend in Nightbreed (1990)

From to the names attached, we can be cautiously hopeful. David Robinson, President of Morgan Creek Entertainment Group, seems quite optimistic:

There has never been a more relevant time for us to turn to one of the genre’s great cult classics from our movie library to impact the national conversation with bold, compelling and unconventional storytelling. The team at Morgan Creek is very excited to partner with Clive Barker, Syfy and Universal Cable Productions on Nightbreed for a unique, trenchant and no-holds-barred exploration of race relations in today’s society. As a sophisticated twist on the classic graphic novel form, Nightbreed pits ‘Humans’ against persecuted monsters, using metaphor and parable to take on bias and prejudice with real-world consequences.

Maybe we can be a little more than cautiously optimistic. Star Trek managed to address these issues with a great deal of success.

David Cronenberg in Nightbreed (1990)

David Cronenberg as Dr. Philip K. Decker in Nightbreed (1990)

Keep your claws crossed. I am.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments
THIS JUST IN: Ash vs. Evil Dead Canceled

THIS JUST IN: Ash vs. Evil Dead Canceled

Since Starz moved Ash vs Evil Dead to Sunday night, the ratings have never recovered and the fan favorite has been canceled. That’s right. In spite of scores like a 99% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (94% on the Audience Tomatometer) and 8.5 stars on IMDb, Ash vs Evil Dead has been staked, leaving fans disappointed and wanting more.

Word hit when Bruce Campbell tweeted earlier this afternoon:

Ash Vs Evil Dead has been the ride of a lifetime. Ash Williams was the role of a lifetime.
I will always be grateful to Starz, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and our tireless fans for the opportunity to revisit the franchise that launched our careers. Thank you!
RIP Ash vs Evil Dead - Bruce Campbell's tweet

Ash vs Evil Dead, which starred Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless in addition to Bruce Campbell, saw Ash drawn back into fighting the Deadites long after the events in the movie franchise. Like the movies – especially the two sequels, Ash vs Evil Dead was a fun and gore-filled but cheesy romp through one outrageous event after another. Ash vs Evil Dead not only gave us more of the Ashley J. Williams we all know and love, it also gave us more about Ash and his family. We learned of Ash’s guilt and suffering after his sister’s death as well as his ostracization by nearly everyone in his hometown. We meet his father – and Lee Majors playing Ash’s father was positively inspired casting – as well as his daughter, and there are hints of more… so much more… to come. Alas, unless something changes dramatically at Starz, those hints are all we’ll ever have.

I’m glad to see that Bruce has a groovy attitude because I and other fans of the show are bummed.

House of Tortured Souls wishes Bruce and everyone else involved in the Evil Dead film franchise and TV series the best.

Thank you.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
Introduction: MY Spotlight Independent

Introduction: MY Spotlight Independent

Greetings, Souls! Woofer here to report on MY Spotlight Independent, a division of  MY Production, our newest advertiser. If you’re an Indie filmmaker, you’ll definitely want to keep reading.

Who or What is MY Production / MY Spotlight Independent

MY Production is a UK-based company whose MY Spotlight Independent division distributes video content, including feature films, series, short films, documentaries, and promotional videos, on Amazon Prime SVOD and TVOD in both the United Kingdom and United States at zero cost to the content owner. Unlike many distribution companies, MY Production pays the content owners before themselves. Furthermore, MY Production offers competitive production and post-production services, such as writing, directing, producing, editing, composing, transcoding, subtitling, audio post, quality control, digital technical servicing (for any requirements that your broadcasters may require), and DVD and Blu-ray authoring. Phew! That’s a lot in one place.

MY Spotlight Independent – Distribution

Created by filmmaker, editor, and technical servicing specialist, Mumtaz Yildirimlar, MY Spotlight Independent aims to assist filmmakers in getting their work out for the world to see. Mr. Yildirmlar has helmed over seven feature films from start to finish, arranging screenings, premieres, sales, distribution, and the technical delivery of those films globally.

MY Spotlight Independent provides a platform for both individuals and companies of all shapes and sizes.

MY Spotlight Independent even guarantees the release of content on Amazon Prime SVOD and TVOD service in the UK and US with the customer paying nothing! MY Spotlight Independent handles the marketing and post-production costs in-house, including closed caption creation, quality control, artwork, transcoding, metadata, packaging to Amazon’s specifications, administration, reporting, and taxes (UK and US). Best of all, MY Spotlight Independent offers agreements that will not encumber the client for years and can be canceled at any time, giving the client the freedom and flexibility to sell content to other buyers.

My Spotlight Independent’s Partners and Sponsors

Here’s a partial list of My Spotlight Independent’s partners and sponsors.

MY Production Team

Mumtaz Yildirimlar, CEO, MY Spotlight IndependentMumtaz (aka Taz) is an experienced film-maker and technical servicing specialist. With a reference of working for Warner Brothers and Deluxe Media for over 13 years, Taz has enhanced his expertise in the film business. In addition, Taz is an advanced editor and composer. He is experienced in production/post, digital technical servicing and distribution. Being a film-maker and editor himself, has enabled him to fully understand the demands and complications of making and delivering a film from start to finish. He will work at any time of the day or night to ensure a deadline is met where physically possible.
Shen Yildirimlar, Director, MY Spotlight IndependentShen is involved in all areas of the business. Her 18 year strong corporate world experience has equipped her with the skills and foundations necessary to run and grow a business. Shen helps with our administration, acquisitions, marketing and communications processes. Shen is a warm, friendly and very passionate person, with a keen eye for talent, who will go out of her way to help our people grow.
Sefika Tulin, Reporting & Finance, MY Spotlight IndependentSefika Tulin is an experienced accountant with over 35 years experience in account management, royalty reporting and payroll. Sefika is responsible for generating all the royalty reports and making payments to our partners under the MY Spotlight Independent division.

MY Spotlight Independent Is Hunting for Content

Do you have a film in need of a distributor? Then MY Spotlight Independent is looking for you.

MY Spotlight Independent Contact Information

Connect with MY Production / MY Spotlight Independent on Social Media

Posted by Alan Smithee in ADVERTISERS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #2 – B[e] Positive

Happy second PSA of Women in Horror Month, Souls! House of Tortured Souls is pround to present the second entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

Today’s PSA comes to us from Los Angeles writer/director Joe Magna.

Oh, and before we continue, here’s the obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

And without further ado, behold the amazing second Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

B[e] Positive

By Joe Magna

MINI BIO:

Joe Magna is a Los Angeles-based Writer & Director, specializing in surreal fantasy and candy-coated nightmares.
Joe’s creative work spans through Television, Film and Theme Park development.
In addition to recently writing and directing the short film “B[e] Positive” for the Twisted Twins’ WIH Massive Blood Drive, Joe Magna will be releasing two additional short films that he wrote and directed, coming soon in 2018.
Joe Magna is currently working in creative development on several Theme Park attractions overseas.

ON WiHM:


I celebrate Women in horror month every month. Without the wonderful women of the horror genre, we would have no Frankenstein [thank you Mary Shelley]. We would have no Creature from the Black Lagoon [thank you Milicent Patrick]. And we would cease to exist.

I think these days more than ever, we need to remind ourselves that each of us emerged bloody and crying from the womb of a brave and strong woman.

It is my pleasure to be a part of this collection of short films that celebrates the wonderful women of Horror.

ON BLOOD DONATION:


Blood is life. It’s in all of us. For most of us, it flows in abundance.
But there are those out there less fortunate.
Donating blood means donating life. Now more than ever, we need to band together to help our brothers and sisters in need.
Not all of us can donate financially. But nearly all of us can donate the fluid of life to help someone else live theirs.
It’s truly in you to give . Thank you for donating blood. Thank you for being a true hero.

CAST & CREW:

Writer, Director, Editor: Joe Magna
Cinematography, Music, Sound Design: Richard Trejo
Production Design: Alex Napiwocki

Starring:
Jill Evyn
Stephanie Gail Williams
Christina Westbrook
and Noel Jason Scott as Harvey Winesnob

Check out the first PSA:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #28 – The Newish Testament

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #28 – The Newish Testament

Good evening and happy twenty-eighth night of Women in Horror Month, and House of Tortured Souls is proud to present the final entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

Tonight’s PSA comes from Jamie DeWolf.

The following may be offensive to some, but in the immortal words of mister John Cleese, “Some people deserve to be offended”….

Without further ado, behold the wicked final Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

The Newish Testament

By Jamie DeWolf

SYNOPSIS:

An irreverent romp through the Garden of Eden, on a quest for the origin of the First Blood.
Directed, shot, written and edited by Jamie DeWolf and Sharkey Stiletto

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

For this short, we wanted to confront widely held fairytales through a critical eye.
This lead us down some zany paths, on a quest of what makes blood magical and what makes it absurd.

STARRING:

A.J. Kirsch as Adam
Sadira LadyLiquid as Eve
Jordan Ranft as God
Asher Kennedy as Sampson
Zoë Rountree as Delilah
Jamie DeWolf as Joseph
Nazelah Jamison as Mary
ChaCha Burnadette as Goddess
Dre AKA Duke Bossman as Jesus Christmas

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

JAMIE DEWOLF is a writer, performer, film director, show producer and circus ringmaster from Oakland, CA. A filmmaker since his teens, DeWolf wrote and directed his first feature film Smoked, a “fast paced, smart, witty dark comedy crime caper” about a botched Cannabis Club robbery in Oakland. The film is described as “Mean, bloody and demented. It’s also piss-your-pants hilarious, maddeningly nihilistic…and an insanely energetic romp.” Smoked was picked up for international distribution by Indican Studios, who also released the cult film Boondock Saints.
DeWolf’s original short films, known for their provocative and boundary pushing subject matter, have won multiple awards from “Best Acting Performance” (A Girl and a Gun Briefs 2013), “Most Terrifying Storyline” (U Turn Scream 2013), “Best Cinematography” (Ricochet in Reverse Scream 2014), and “Best Writing” (Rio Grind 2014). His short films Hey Baby Hey and OK Monster! both won the Grand Prize Audience Award the year of their premiere. His shorts Double Agent and Black Out were both chosen to be featured at the CineKink Film Festival in NYC. His short U Turn was selected for The Invoking 2, a feature length horror film anthology franchise by Ruthless Pictures. He was voted “Best Film-Maker” by the East Bay Express in 2016.
DeWolf has made a dedication to intertwining cinema and social activism, shooting and directing over 32 films for the Bigger Picture Project, an acclaimed, statewide series of films on the youth prevention of Diabetes. The series was featured in the NY Times, the PBS NewsHour, Colorlines and KQED. He’s helmed national film campaigns for the Raise Up Project focusing on the high school drop-out crisis, the Write Home Project which was coupled with a writing program on youth homelessness, and the Off/Page Project in partnership with the Center for Investigative Reporting. The Off/Page Project resulted in the trilogy Whispers from the Fields, This is Home and Locked (in), acclaimed for creating a new hybrid of “lyricism and facts”. His films have accumulated over 5 million shared views across the world, winning the Real Food Media Grand Prize two years in a row with the films Thin Line and Home Flavored, and received the Spirit of 1848 award from the American Public Health Association. He continues to direct and shoot a variety of projects from documentary, music video and narrative films.
Currently DeWolf hosts his variety show Tourettes Without Regrets every First Thursday in Oakland, tours with NPR’s storytelling series Snap Judgment and is writing his next feature film. You can find his CD Vaude Villain featuring his comedy performances on Itunes .

Check out the other PSAs:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

Woofer here, Souls, and it’s my great pleasure to introduce this interview. When discussing Women in Horror Month with my assistant editor Spencer, we decided that as fans of Hellraiser – both as the Books of Blood and the film franchise – we would be completely remiss if we didn’t reach out to Barbie Wilde. Being both talented and gracious, she consented to be interviewed and is our final focus for Women in Horror Month.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Well, that’s enough of my yammering. You’re all here to find out more about the lovely, talented, and kind Barbie Wilde, so keep on reading.
House of Tortured Souls: Did you ever think you would become a horror icon?
Barbie Wilde: I never did… And it’s a bit ironic that I nearly didn’t go to the audition for Hellbound Hellraiser II, because I found the first Hellraiser film so disturbing. (Although I did love the character of Julia. I’m a sucker for obsession! And the Cenobites were such original and unusual monsters.)
However, I’ve very glad that I did go, obviously. Being in Hellbound was a great experience and, speaking as a short blonde person, I’m truly thrilled that I’ve managed to scare so many people over the years.
HoTS: What is your favorite memory from working on Hellraiser II?
BW: Meeting Ken (Dr. Channard) Cranham for the first time. I walked up to him in full Female Cenobite makeup and costume, when he was in full Channard Cenobite makeup and costume — and on the phone to his wife as well! For some reason known only to the infernal powers below, I said: “Hi Ken, I’m Barbie. Do you want to get married and have babies called Pepper and Skipper?”
Why I thought that this was an appropriate way to introduce myself for the first time to such a venerable actor as Ken, I don’t know. Especially since he was English and had no idea that there were these famous American dolls called Barbie, Ken, Pepper and Skipper. (In Britain, the Barbie Doll equivalent is called Cindy.) In my defense, I do say this line to every “Ken” I meet, because for some strange reason, I think it’s hilarious.
Anyway, Ken was gobsmacked and whispered to his wife, “Darling, an actress is talking to me… I’ve got to go.” I apologized profusely and we’ve been good friends ever since.

The Lovely Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What was it like working with Tik and Tok?
BW: The years with Shock in the early 80s were fantastic. It was the most fun that I’ve ever had as a performer. Working with Tik and Tok was wonderful, as well as performing with Robert Pereno, LA Richards, and Carole Caplin. The high point for us was supporting Gary Numan at Wembley Arena, but we also toured with Depeche Mode and supported Ultravox as well.
HoTS: Who are some of your greatest influences?
BW: As a writer: Rod Serling, Patricia Highsmith, Clive Barker, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Colin Wilson.
Directors I admire are: Guillermo Del Toro, Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, the Soska Sisters, Ann Biller, Katherine Bigalow, Mary Harron, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Patty Jenkins.

Barbie Wilde's Blue Eyes - A Film By Chris Alexander

HoTS: How do you prepare for a role? Is it different for each?
BW: I approach each role in a new way. I don’t use any particular “method”. I’m very intuitive and I take a lot from the text…
HoTS: Why horror? What drew you to it?
BW: To be honest, I didn’t choose horror, horror chose me! I had moved from acting into presenting, writing and hosting TV shows when I was cast in Hellbound. It was my first horror movie. (Although I suppose being in Grizzly II: The Concert (1983) was my first appearance in a horror movie, but it was never released.)
It’s interesting, because until Paul Kane asked me to write a story for the Hellbound Hearts anthology, I was more interested in exploring the criminal mind in writing novel like my diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, The Venus Complex (published by Comet Press), than writing horror. But I had so much fun writing my Female Cenobite origin story (“Sister Cilice”) for Hellbound Hearts, that I continued writing horror, contributing short stories to various horror anthologies over the years, culminating in my illustrated, full color, short horror story collection, Voices of the Damned (published by SST Publications).

The Venus Complex (2012) by Barbie Wilde

Saying that though, I’ve always watched horror movies, ever since I was a kid, especially Sci-fi horror. Those films really shaped my twisted imagination! And TV shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits also made a big impression on me.
HoTS: What are your favorite horror films?
BW: I love the old black and white horrors like: The Thing From Another World (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Innocents (1961), The Haunting (1963) and Night of the Demon AKA Curse of the Demon (1957). I also like visceral horror such as Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Alien (1979). Other favorites are: American Mary (2012), Sinister (2012), Audition (1999), The Lure (2015), Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), Crimson Peak (2015), etc. (I’m really looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water and the Soska Sisters’ reimagining of Cronenberg’s Rabid.)
HoTS: What drew you to writing? Do you prefer it to acting?
BW: I’ll always love acting, but now I prefer creating my own worlds, my own characters and my own mythologies.
HoTS: When did you realize that you wanted to dive into the arts?
BW: I was a very shy kid, but when I was cast in a school play when I was 12, I was hooked forever. People were laughing with me, rather than at me. I loved it.

Voices of the Damned (2016) by Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What is something outside of art that you’re passionate about?
BW: Wine… Margaritas… Martinis… you see a pattern here? Actually, those are just hobbies! Seriously, I’m fascinated by archeology (it was my Minor at University) and I love what’s happening in the world of science with all the innovations that are happening, medical discoveries, etc. And I’m a tech geek. I never would have guessed that I’d love gadgets so much. I suppose it’s the Star Trek fan in me!

Barbie’s books and other works:

Out now:

Voices of the Damned, an illustrated short horror story collection published by SST Publications. (Publishers Weekly: “…sensual in its brutality.” “…a delight for the darker senses.”) Each story is illustrated in full color by top artists in the horror genre, such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Vincent Sammy, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis, Ben Bradford and Eric Gross.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite with knife in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

The Venus Complex, Barbie’s debut dark crime, diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, published by Comet Press. (Fangoria: “Wilde is one of the finest purveyors of erotically charged horror fiction around.”)

In pre-production:

A feature length horror film called Blue Eyes, based on a short story by Barbie. It’s co-written with Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Werewolf, Blood Dynasty, Space Vampire) and will be directed by Chris. Starring Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy.

Work-in-progress:

Film Script: “Zulu Zombies”.
New real life horror novel, working title: The Anatomy of Ghosts.

Plans for the future:

To find a publisher for graphic novels based on Barbie’s short stories “Sister Cilice” and “Zulu Zombies”.

The Offer (2017) - Barbie Wilde

In 2017, Barbie returned to acting after 17 years in The Offer, the first episode of the horror series, Dark Ditties, produced by Cult Film Screenings.

Barbie Wilde Social Media:

Barbie Wilde - Classic Beauty

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #27 – The Love Swallows

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #27 – The Love Swallows

Good evening and happy twenty-seventh PSA of Women in Horror Month, and House of Tortured Souls is proud to present the nxt entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

Tonight’s PSA comes from Nicole McClure.

Obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

Without further ado, behold the awesome twenty-seventh Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

The Love Swallows

By Nicole McClure

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Nicole McClure is a writer, director, editor, colorist, and VFX artist. A woman of many talents, Nicole’s body of work is as diverse as she is. Regardless of what position she holds on a production, her work always elevates the pieces to a whole new level.
A two time WiHM Massive Blood drive director before this with her partner, Aramis Sartorio, the two have a hilarious, often shocking, and blood fantastic take on horror to get you in the mood to donate blood.

Cast:

Megan Duffy
Matt Mercer
Aramis Sartorio

Crew:

Production Design………George Hale
Gaffer………Miles Kittrege………
Photography by………Nate Liquor
Pony Gold
Nicole McClure

Special Thanks:

Matt Suchesi
Kaeli Quick
Michael Snyder
Sebastian Love
Mylissa Ftizsimmons
Blame Mercury
Jen & Sylvia Soska

Remember, Souls, there’ll be a new PSA every day, and please check out the official WiHM website for more on Women in Horror Month.

Check out the other PSAs:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Interview with Rakefet Abergel of Jax in Love (2017)

WiHM: Interview with Rakefet Abergel of Jax in Love (2017)

Hey horror fans, Horrormadam here with a Women in Horror interview with the amazing stand-up comedienne, actor (Superbad, Just Go With It, and My Best Friend’s Girl), director (Girls on Girls), and writer (Jax in Love, Live) Rakefet Abergel. We are here to discuss the wonderful short film Jax in Love.
First, let me give you the premise:
A mysterious and lonely young woman, Jax (Rakefet Abergel) is traveling through the expansive desert of the American West, in search of some tangible connection, a kindred spirit or like-minded soul with whom she can bond. When her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, her journey takes a dangerous turn, and we learn this seemingly sweet woman may not be who she seems at all. How far will she go for love? Will she make it out of the desert alive?
—Written by Nick Laskin
I really loved this film and apparently, I am not alone. The awards that are already pouring in are illuminating.
  • Best Actress in a Short — Nightmares Film Festival
  • Best Horror Short — Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival
  • Award of Merit — Best Shorts Competition (Leading Actress)
  • Award of Merit — Best Shorts Competition (Women Filmmakers)
  • Award of Commendation — Canada Shorts Film Festival
  • Best Thriller Short Nominee — Women in Horror Film Festival
  • Best of Fest Nominee — Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival
  • Best Actress Nominee — Independent Horror Movie Awards
JAX IN LOVE was directed by Academy Award Nominee (Best Short Film, Live Action, Seraglio (2000)) Colin Campbell and produced by Jory Weitz, the executive producer of Napoleon Dynamite. It also stars John Gammon (Corey and Lucas for the Win, The Middle), Ben Kacsandi (Rio, Please Tell Me I’m Adopted), Devi Veysey (Breaking Fat), and Laura Wiggins (Rings, Shameless).
I certainly do not want to give too much away but one of my favorite things about the film is the role reversal over what we normally see in these kinds of thrillers. So well acted and engaging, this horror short grabs you from the beginning and leaves you wanting more. It is all-inclusive as a short but the action made me hope that not only would it become a feature but hopefully a series. We need more of the main character out there. So let’s get to it.
House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Rakefet, what was your motivation while writing Jax in Love?
Rakefet Abergel: The whole idea stemmed from the desire to write something for myself that was dark and dramatic versus the comedy roles I was used to booking. I also wanted to cast myself in a part I would never get cast in just because of my type. I want to change the way we look at what a “leading lady” is.
HoTS: Are you a big fan of horror and what made you want to do a horror film?
RA: I actually grew up hating horror films. Lol. Not because they’re bad but because they are so good at scaring the crap out of me. And I don’t like to be scared! Of course, that begs the question as to why I made one, for which the only answer I can give is that it wasn’t intended to be a horror film. I didn’t even know it would become one. But based on test audience reactions I quickly realized that I had the genre wrong. I still don’t necessarily consider it a horror film, it has so different tones to it. But attending all these horror festivals has allowed me to watch more horror films then I’ve seen in my entire life combined and I realized that I have a place in my heart for horror now. I kinda get it now. The allure. Especially with the quality of the genre really changing now more than ever.
HoTS: Do you have any favorite horror films?
RA: I actually do love some horror films. Identity was one of my favorite. And The Sixth Sense. Split. Teeth was really good too. I liked the message. Get Out was incredible. I really like psychological horror. Not so much into all of the blood. But a good mind-sc4.
HoTS: It is Women in Horror Month, who are some of your female real life/ fiction influences in horror or other?
RA: All of the women filmmakers I’ve met over the last few months are so inspiring to me! As far as influences, I don’t know. I suppose I’m influenced by everything I’ve ever seen!
HoTS: You have played a lot of diverse roles. Do you have a favorite?
RA: Jax is probably one of my favorites. If not the favorite. As far as comedy, I really enjoyed playing Jodi Flooger on iCarly. That was a fun role. And getting to work with Adam Sandler in Just Go With It and wear a prosthetic nose was pretty cool too.
HoTS: Have you faced any difficulties being a woman in film?
RA: Sometimes as a woman in our society it’s hard to be taken seriously. That’s been something I’ve come up against. That our stories maybe aren’t as important as the ones men want to tell. That we are too emotional or sappy or feminist or whatever. But I don’t generally care that much about what other people think. Or I try not to. I experienced an inappropriate comment on my own set by a crew member. That was shocking. I was his boss. Paying him. And he decided to make a comment about my body and considered it to be a compliment. Unfortunately, since I didn’t want to jeopardize my film and we were on location and I couldn’t lose a crew member, I couldn’t do anything about it. And that was very frustrating. Even when a woman is in power, she can still be harassed and have no real recourse. It’s very unfortunate.
HoTS: In the movie, can you tell me about the tattoo?
RA: Yes! It’s a heart with a set of car keys inside it. It symbolizes Jax’s love for the road and her quest for love and how she goes about it. We give out replicas at the screenings and people really love the idea, so that’s fun. It was designed by my former editor and forever friend Lindsay McKenna!
HoTS: Is this going to be made into a feature?
RA: Possibly. Or a series. I haven’t decided yet. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jax.
HoTS: I love that a great stand up artist went so dark, any plans for more along the same lines?
RA: Thanks for the compliment! 🙂 Yes! I love dark. It’s why I wanted to act. I love the drama. Comedy is fun too, but this is a more satisfying genre for me. I’m writing two very, very dark screenplays at the moment that I hope to also star in, so I’m sure there will be more where Jax came from.
I really recommend that you check this film out. It was a lot of fun and I so enjoyed Rakefet’s performance in it. I want to thank her for taking the time to talk with me and to let her know the darker the better for us! And dear readers always keep this question in mind: How far would YOU go for love?

Rakefet Abergel's Jax in Love (2017)

Posted by Alan Smithee in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #26 – NerdGirls

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #26 – NerdGirls

Tonight’s PSA comes from Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, and Bryan Sexton.

Obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

Without further ado, behold the awesome twenty-sixth Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

NerdGirls

By Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, & Bryan Sexton

ADAM MARCUS
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY,
WRITER, DIRECTOR, CO-PRODUCER GUY:

A native of New York and Connecticut (a feat in itself), at 11, Adam was a PA on his first studio movie. At 13 he was apprentice editing for Columbia Pictures. At 15, he created the Westport Theatreworks Theatrical Company, directing and producing over 50 shows in 7 years. At NYU he won Best Picture in for his film, “…so you like this girl”. At 21, Adam set up his first feature film at Disney and less than a year later he had been hired to write and direct New Line Cinema’s “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday”. At 23 he was the youngest director ever hired by a major studio to write and direct a feature film. He then turned his attention to writing and he and writing partner </ strong>Debra Sullivan, wrote scripts for Paramount (the adaptation of James Patterson’s “Virgin”), Fox (the original “Black Autumn”), and Lionsgate (the box office #1 “Texas Chainsaw 3D”).
In 1995 Adam created the Skeleton Crew TheatreWorks where to this day he trains some of the most talented actors in the industry. This troupe has been the backbone of Adam’s theatrical and cinematic casts.
In 1998 Adam directed the indie comedy, “Let It Snow” starring Bernadette Peters. The film was a critical and festival darling at AFI’s LAIFF (where it won several awards), Sundance, New York/Avignon, the Deauville festival in France among many others. At the same time Adam sold several TV series to Kevin Bright Productions, Imagine Television, NBC, Fox and The WB. Adam then directed the Sony Pictures feature film, “Conspiracy”, which he co-wrote with Sullivan. Starring Val Kilmer, Jennifer Esposito, and Gary Cole. The latest Marcus/Sullivan project written by the duo, is “Momentum”, starring Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy and Morgan Freeman.
Recently episodes of Adam’s web series, Connected was the winner for best short subject at three separate festivals.
He and Sullivan have recently partnered with long time producer Bryan S. Sexton to form Skeleton Crew Productions. They already have several films slated for release next year and 2 new television series slated for mid- 2018.
As a director Adam has three new films in the pipeline, “The Plantation”, “The Harvest” and “Dread”.
“Secret Santa” is a return to the genre Adam loves dearly. He’s so thrilled to be back, knee deep in blood and madness!

ADAM MARCUS STATEMENT – WiHM BLOOD DRIVE

When I was in film school at NYU, there were two films that would change my idea of artful storytelling. The first was Katherine Bigalow’s “Near Dark”. It was a dark, scary, romantic adrenaline rush. As a young man I was not accustomed to seeing a film this kick-ass made by a woman. A woman who not only gave James Cameron a run for his money when it came to action but was far more interested in the connection between it’s characters than the average horror movie. It knocked my socks off. Then I saw Luc Besson’s “La Femme Nikita”. It was a mash-up of all the things I loved about French Cinema and American Movies. At it’s center was the story of a lost young woman who is as bad an anti-hero as you’ll find. But you love her. She is a murderer who is trained to use her pathological talents for the “government”. We’ve seen this story a thousand times and it’s always a bit ham-fisted. Why does this one work? Because it is the story of a woman and the complications of being a woman used by a world of men for their purposes, that’s why! She goes from being owned by the male-constructed system to owning herself. And it was written and directed by a man. It showed me that a man can tell stories about strong, kick-ass women that still get to be feminine. And that was it… I was hooked.
Since then, I have struggled to do the impossible in Hollywood… tell stories about strong women. For twenty-five years I have tirelessly written movies about women, in every genre. Many of those scripts have been bought, but only a few have even been made. Most sit on shelves in studio offices.
Before it was chic to make stories about women, I wanted to.
No, I yearned to. Every time I’d sit down with my brilliant partner, Debra, and come up with a new story, the response from our representatives was always, “For the love of all that’s holy, can’t you please write something with a male protagonist”? That’s something they don’t teach in film school, or in three day seminars on writing movies… if you want a movie to get made, write about men.
Well… fuck that! Seriously. Fuck that!
A couple of years ago, Debra and I wrote a project based on a wonderful novel our company optioned named, Nightspinners. It was the story of twin sisters who can speak to each other telepathically. Again, it’s about ownership of one’s identity. It’s about strong women. One heroic and one psychotic. But both will not and can not be ignored. When we went searching for our director, I said, “It has to be a woman. This is story that should be told by a woman”. We started making a list but our list got tossed out the window when we found out that Jen and Sylvia Soska were repped at our same agency. After much hemming and hawing (“they’ve seen every twin story out there”) they sent them the script. Twenty-four hours later we received a two line response, “Fuck yeah we’ll do Nightspinners! Cause it’s fucking awesome”! Thus began the beautiful friendship between the Twisted Twins and Skeleton Crew.
When the Soskas came to Debra and me to create something for WiHM, we could not have said, “YES” faster. We got to work immediately on hatching our PSA. Enter the NERDGIRLS!
NerdGirls is a film series that Debra and I created over a year ago. It’s about a young woman, Alex, who since childhood has been obsessed with what she was always told was “Boy Stuff”. Comics, Kung-Fu Movies, Superheroes. Her best friend in grade school, a super-serious tom boy, Maxine, even used to beat up the boys in school who taunted Alex for playing with Giant Robots rather than dolls. When Alex was eight, her father left the family and she blamed herself, thinking she was a bad daughter and not “girly” enough. So she abandoned and threw out everything she loved. Her comics and toys and worse of all… Maxine. 15 years later, Alex’s life is a mess. She’s forced herself to be what society thinks of as a “girl”, all the while still daydreaming of comic books and obsessively sketching on anything she can. On the day that she is robbed at her day job, finds her boyfriend in bed with another… man, and is kicked out of her apartment, she stumbles upon a shop selling the same GIANT ROBOT she abandoned years ago. She rushes into the store to find… Maxine is running the place! Rekindling their friendship, Alex finds a new home and the real adventure of her NerdGirl life is about to begin.
Our WiHM PSA is a horror episode of NerdGirls. It’s about the snakepit that is Blind Dating and the power of friendship and ass-kicking femininity! Oh, and did I mention there’s lot of blood?
I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s Blood Drive and WiHM! Not just as a man who loves stories about women, but as a human being who loves stories about all of us!

DEBRA SULLIVAN:

Debra is an actress/writer/producer. As an actress, over the years, she has appeared in countless plays, films, television shows and commercials. This 2nd generation Los Angelino has played lead roles in comedies, dramas and musicals. In television, she has had lead and/or recurring roles on “Criminal Minds”, “Private Practice”, “Big Love”, “ER”, “Days of Our Lives” and “Cold Case”, as well as many others. Some of her favorite films roles include, “Conspiracy” with Val Kilmer, “Let It Snow” (a Sundance Winner) with Bernadette Peters, “Bring It On, All or Nothing” with Hayden Panetierre, and “Brewster’s Millions” with the late Richard Pryor and John Candy. Recently, she starred opposite Steve Guttenberg in the film, “Lookin’ Up”.
When not acting, she and her husband/partner, Adam Marcus have written over 50 screenplays, including, “Conspiracy”, “Momentum”, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and “The Plantation”. Their latest script, “Secret Santa” is a film she not only performs in but co-wrote and co-produced with Marcus and their producing partner, Bryan S. Sexton.
“Secret Santa”, a scathing “horromedy”, is burning up the festival circuit right now and is the first feature out of the gate for the trio’s newly formed production company, Skeleton Crew Productions.
Creating Skeleton Crew with Marcus and Sexton has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her career in the business. The company is committed to making entertainment, at all budget levels while giving opportunities to those who haven’t had their “breaks” yet or to work in the field of the business they’ve always wanted to. They currently have several films and television shows in the pipeline, the majority of which have strong female protagonists, something Marcus and Sullivan have always specialized in.
You can follow Debra on Twitter and Instagram @debsullivanm, and on Facebook as Debra Sullivan.

DEBRA SULLIVAN, ARTISTIC STATEMENT:

I am so excited to be a part of this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive. As a woman in the industry and one who has done the majority of her work in the horror genre, I am honored to support the talented and ever amazing Soska Sisters in this annual event.
While we had a lot of fun making our film, our true heart was in the message we’re helping to send out to the world, the importance of donating blood. When you donate, you save lives, period. In these unpredictable times we live in, with more and more things happening, we have to stick together and be there for each other. The horror community has always been a source of people who care. So let’s care together. Go out and donate. You’ll be blessed that you did.
Let the blood-letting begin!!!

Cast & Crew:

The Nerd Girls
Anna Sondall………Alex Travalian
Paris Wise………Kit Kapinski
Michelle Allaire………Mickey Montgomery
Debra Sullivan………Mrs. Virginia Summerbottom
Mesa Kronhaus………Maxine Kotzwinkle
Kristin Wall………Georgia Washington
Ryan Leigh………Seaton Pickles

The Vampires
Scott Maguire………Cassian
Sassan Saffari………Derek
Rissa Kilar………Chantal The Vampire Queen
Nigel Lawes………Abatu The Gatekeeper
Darren Dupree Washington………Baka The Guardian
Jerusalem Girma………D.J. Cyrus
Joshua Kwak………Chiang-Shih
Erika Lane Enggren………Kali
Russ Ferri………Amon
Charlit Dae………Balam The Protector
Ed Nathan………Mecate Cacus The Protector
Pat Destro………Evanora The Vile
Petra Areskoug………Agate
Nick Barajas-Torres………Deumus
Gabriel Fiorindo Bellotti………Cherufe
Glennthomas Camba………Forneus
Melissa Corkern………Eris
Kate Enggren………Gatrea
Gilbert Feliciano………Kappas
CJ Feldbau………Azazel
Scott Fleetwood………Gremony
Troy Fromin………Halphas
Timothy D. Harris………Malphas
Mitch Narito………Marax
Breann Johnson………Hecate
Jeff Karr………Orobas
Gabi Mayorga………Salome
Daryn O’Patry………Moloch
Candace Quirk………Cerys
Jon Daniel Schwartz………Uvall
Anna Yosin………Onodine

Adam Marcus………Director/Co-Writer/Editor/Co-Producer
Debra Sullivan………Co-Writer/Co-Producer
Bryan S. Sexton………Producer
Fidencio Casas………D.P.
Freddy John James………Stunt Coordinator
Timothy D.G. Eilers………Composer/Vfx
Joshua Kwak………First A.D.
Chris Gonzaga………Gaffer
Gregg Furuoka………A.C.
Jorge Ramos………Key Grip
Kristy Munden………Wrangler

Remember, Souls, there’ll be a new PSA every day, and please check out the official WiHM website for more on Women in Horror Month.

Check out the other PSAs:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #25 – Kirby, A Hero

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #25 – Kirby, A Hero

Morning, Souls! It’s the twenty-fifth morning of Women in Horror Month, and House of Tortured Souls is proud to present the twenty-fourth entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

The twenty-fifth PSA comes from the devilicious mind of Nicholas Burman-Vince.

Obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

Without further ado, behold the brilliant twenty-fifth Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

Kirby, A Hero

By Nicholas Burman-Vince

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:

When I was 19, I had major reconstructive surgery on my face and during the operation half the blood in my body was replaced via transfusion. For years I thought that was an extraordinary amount, but through the my involvement with the Soskas Blood Drive PSA, I’ve learned this is common – which help put into perspective just how urgent the need for blood donations is. Particularly as surgery isn’t the main use for donated blood. In the UK 67% is used to treat medical conditions including anaemia, cancer and blood disorders. So, people regularly need blood to survive.
I particularly like the current promotion by blood.co.uk #Date2Donate, encouraging people to donate with a friend or family member. What could be more romantic. Getting to know if your partner has a phobia about needles and helping to save someone’s life?

Cast & Crew:

Nicholas Vince – Writer and Director

Nicholas Vince played The Chatterer Cenobite in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Kinski in Barker’s Nightbreed. In 2016 he was awarded the London Horror Society Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Independent Horror. He is Patron of the London Horror Festival.

His first short film as writer and director, The Night Whispered, screened at festivals in the US, UK, and France and is now available on Reelhouse.org. His second film, Your Appraisal, is on its festival run and a third, Necessary Evils, will be part of the horror anthology feature film For We Are Many, from Hex Media.

He still acts and recently starred in The Offer, with others from the Hellraiser films. He also stars in the independent feature film, Hollower (dir. MJ Dixon), and numerous short films including the award-winning Mindless (dir. Katie Bonham).

He hosts the weekly YouTube show Chattering with Nicholas Vince, where he interviews independent film makers and actors.

His two collections of short stories, What Monsters Do (rated 5*) and Other People’s Darkness are both available on amazon sites. His short story ‘Prayers of Desire‘, a new origin story for The Chatterer was published in Hellraiser: Anthology – Volume 2 by Seraphim Inc.

Holly Boyden – Rebekah

Recent graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Holly Boyden previously studies at Goldsmith’s College, University of London and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

She is known for The Night Whispered, @MovieGeek and One In A Million.

She is a trained dancer, specialising in Classical Ballet and Ballroom and Latin American. She speaks fluent Spanish.

Dawson James – Kirby

Film maker, actor, cinematographer, performance capture artist and photographer Dawson James, is known for Scale Down, Ophelia, The Night Whispered and his science fiction short, HUD, which is on its festival run. Later this year he stars in Burying the Mother in Law

He is the creator of the young YouTube channel, Fluffy Dog.

Patrick E. Fagan – Composer

Patrick graduated from The University of West Scotland in 2002 with a BA Honours degree in Commercial Music. Since then, Patrick has worked in many roles within the music industry from music management to event organisation and is now currently working as a music teacher.

After many years performing in various bands, Patrick decided to move into creating music specifically aimed at film, TV and Media.

Remember, Souls, there’ll be a new PSA every day, and please check out the official WiHM website for more on Women in Horror Month.

Check out the other PSAs:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Pat Marin – The RIP Files

WiHM: Pat Marin – The RIP Files

Hello, Everyone, this is Brenda, better-known as The Ghost Huntress, of HoTS. I am very lucky to be able to write about my 2 loves, Horror and the Paranormal. Some would say, what is the difference? That is a subject that I would love to save for another time. Because right now I want to introduce to you an amazing woman, who has lived with paranormal activity all of her life. So, what do you do when you live with those things that go bump in the night (and day)?? Well please keep reading and you will find out.
I had the honor of meeting Patricia “Pat” Marin, back in 2015, when I was asked if I would appear on The R.I.P. Files as interviewee for an investigation at a location in Maryland that I had investigated many times and of course I said, YES!!
have to say, when I arrived at the location and was told by my friend, The R.I.P. Files castmate and Paranormal Investigator, Amelia Cotter to go see Pat, I had no idea who she was. I just assumed that she was in charge of doing the interview. Little did I know that Pat was in charge of everything.
We hit it off right away, and I thanked Pat for allowing me to ask her questions as I was nervous — not about being in the house that I had captured some incredible evidence, but that I was going to be interviewed for a paranormal program that had gained much attention and has earned much respect in the paranormal community. But then again, Pat is a Marylander, which made it so easy to talk to her. Who would have known that three years later I would get the chance to interview Pat? I have to say, it is much easier to be the one asking the questions.
You’re now probably wondering who is Patricia Marin and what is The R.I.P. Files? You are about to find out. So, go grab a snack, get comfy, and you may want to turn on the lights, as you get to know my Dear friend, who to me, is a real life super woman and a role model to all women young and old.
Pat Marin

Pat Marin, Vice President, The Marin Group, Inc.; Executive Producer, The R.I.P. Files

Patricia grew up in a haunted house in Baltimore, Maryland, and is descended from a family of Irish psychics on her mother’s side. At the age of 12, she began her lifelong study of metaphysics, eventually becoming a third-degree initiate of a Western Mystery School. Pat is also a Reiki Master and a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. She studied journalism at the University of Maryland and has worked as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill and as a public relations specialist in Washington, DC. Pat was a proposal manager with MCI/Verizon and with General Dynamics prior to starting The Marin Group, Inc., a consulting company focused on business development and proposal support for government contractors, both large and small. She founded Research and Investigation of the Paranormal (R.I.P.) in 2008. Pat created The R.I.P. Files because she wanted to bring the public an honest paranormal series. She continues to serve as executive producer and writer for the series, as well as the narrator on each episode. The R.I.P. Files features a female-led team, unusual experiments, and amazing EVPs. Pat also served as the “Ghost Hunting Examiner” for Examiner.com for more than five years and gained an international readership for her in-depth articles that covered all aspects of the paranormal.
Female Paranormal Investigators of

Female Paranormal Investigators of The R.I.P. Files

House of Tortured Souls: Pat, I didn’t realize that you come from a psychic family. Please tell me about that.
Interviewee Name: My mother’s family is Scotch/Irish and the women in that line tend to have “the sight”. For example, my mother would always see the banshee prior to a death in the family. I do not – at least, not yet – but I’ve always been able to sense spirits, and sometimes I can even see and/or hear them. I don’t describe myself as psychic, but I am highly intuitive. I actually don’t like the term “psychic”, and I believe it’s very much overused. Most of us have those same abilities, we just don’t recognize that we have them, and we don’t develop them. For example, the paranormal has always been my passion and I’ve been reading, studying, and working on my own abilities since I was 12. I’ve read just about all the books, gone to most of the classes, learned and practiced the rituals, and explored many strange highways and byways during this lifelong journey of mine. As far as “real” psychics — that is, individuals with an extraordinary level of ability to connect with those in spirit — I’ve only met two people that I consider truly gifted. Those people are John Cappello and MarVeena Meek, both of whom I studied with in Dallas. In my opinion, they are the best. But even they are only about 70 to 80 percent accurate. And I’ve had readings with lots of the big names out there, including a $1,000 private phone reading with George Anderson who, by the way, was 100 percent wrong about everything he said! People need to be cautious about their infatuation with anyone who comes along and announces that they’re yet another “psychic medium”. There are a lot of delusional people and con artists out there, and you don’t want to base your life decisions on what they tell you. If you go to them just for fun, that’s fine, but remember that YOU are always your best guide and you have all the knowledge you need within. You simply need to learn how to access it and trust it.
HoTS: What are some of your most outstanding personal paranormal experiences?
PM: There are so many. The most outstanding, though, is when my body was physically asleep in my bed at around 4:10 am when my mother was in the ICU of Plano Hospital. Suddenly, I was there in the hospital, also, and my mom and I were walking down the corridor together. I was aware of a bright, pulsating light at the end of the hall and we were walking slowly towards it. One of the most interesting aspects of this experience is that my mom and I were talking very casually and laughing. It was definitely not a somber atmosphere. Even though we were invisible to the doctors and nurses moving past, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. As we approached the light, I said to my mother, “I don’t think I can go any further.” And she replied, “I know. But it’s okay. Your father’s waiting for me there.” FYI, my father died when I was 12. Then she walked down the rest of the hallway by herself and disappeared into the light. About halfway there, she stopped, turned, looked back at me one last time, and smiled. I have NEVER seen anyone on this earth look so happy! She was absolutely radiant. That’s one reason why I never really grieved for her after her physical death. How could I? I knew she was happier than she had ever been and in a wonderful place.
Anyway, after she disappeared into the light, I immediately found myself back in my body. I laid awake staring at the ceiling, waiting for the phone to ring, which it did about 10 minutes later. It was the surgeon, calling to tell us that my mother had passed away. But I already knew that. I was there.
PM: I’ve had many, many other experiences as well. Another example is that my husband and I live with a ghost cat and have for many years, through 3 different cities and 3 different houses. We see, hear, and sense our little ghost cat at least once a week or so. We think she is “Fluffy,” a cat that Jim had as a child that his parents made him get rid of. Carol Gurney, the well-known animal communicator, confirmed that information for us in a private reading and also told us that Fluffy had never fully crossed over. Instead, she had decided to stay with Jim throughout his life as a guide and companion. That was a really emotional reading, as you can imagine! By the way, Carol Gurney is a legitimate and very talented animal communicator and I highly recommend her. Anyway, we also captured our ghost cat on a security monitor one snowy morning during the blizzard of 2010. She can be seen very clearly on the back of the sofa and you see her eyes first before the rest of her body materializes clearly for several seconds. She looks into the security camera – as if she knew we could see her there – directly into our eyes, blinks twice, and then disappear. It’s amazing footage and I wish I could use it in one of our episodes – but it’s a security camera so it’s grainy to begin with and the swirling snow outside makes it worse. The compression rate required to insert it into video destroys the resolution. It’s actually very clear when you see it on the computer but unfortunately does not translate well to another medium.
HoTS: When and why did you decide to create a paranormal TV show?
PM: We started in 2012 and we filmed 10 half-hour episodes, originally for Ghost Channel TV on the Internet and then we moved to Mingle Media TV, another Internet channel. Gaiam TV – also Internet – later bought the digital rights in the US/Canada for Season 1 only and we’re still available on their website and through Amazon, iTunes, and a number of other venues.
I wanted to do a series because we were excited about the research we were conducting and wanted to share it with the world. We were doing some interesting experiments, such as thought transference as a cause of EVPs, working with ESP cards, and using hypnosis – things that other shows weren’t doing at the time.
PM: I wanted to do a series because we were excited about the research we were conducting and wanted to share it with the world. We were doing some interesting experiments, such as thought transference as a cause of EVPs, working with ESP cards, and using hypnosis – things that other shows weren’t doing at the time.
HoTS: Are you on YouTube?
PM: No, we’re not. We’re prohibited from showing The R.I.P. Files on YouTube due to our various contracts. Seasons 2 and 3 (16 hour-long episodes) will be aired in the US, starting in January of 2018. We have to keep this VERY confidential for now, as TV networks are extremely sensitive about leaks. So, that’s all I can say for at the moment.
PM: But I CAN say that all three seasons continue to air on SyFy Asia, where we are the #3 show on that network, something we’re very proud of. We’re also the lead-in to Ghost Adventures on Really TV in the UK, so that’s another significant achievement.
We’re very excited about finally coming to US TV and we’re hoping for great success. Our fans have been very loyal and I’m sure that will continue.
HoTS: with so many Paranormal shows that on the air now, why do you think people like The R.I.P. Files?
PM: I think it’s because we’re not actors/actresses and slick Hollywood producers – instead, we started out in the paranormal and that’s still what we do – although I have to say that we have acquired a lot of knowledge about the entertainment business after doing it for more than five years. I had absolutely no background in television when I started, and I basically learned by doing. There were a lot of costly mistakes in the first couple of years and those certainly paid for what I call my “film school tuition.” One thing I did already know how to do as a professional writer and editor was tell a story and that has proven to be an invaluable skill.
HoTS: What’s it like working with your husband?
PM: We clash on a regular basis. He has his vision and I have mine. However, after we sit down and talk about it, we usually find that those visions are closer than we thought initially, and we can usually work out any differences of opinion to everyone’s satisfaction. Sometimes, I have to overrule him, though. But Jim does have a lot of great ideas and I enjoy the creative “give and take” that goes into doing the show together.
HoTS: What’s the difference between, say, a YouTube paranormal show and a paranormal show on cable or network TV?
PM: Brenda, the difference is huge!! For example, there is one phrase that strikes dread into my heart: E&O insurance. That’s “producer’s errors and omissions insurance” and it’s required by just about every TV network around the world. It means writing a check for about $10,000 up front for every new sale on every new network. Believe me, that’s painful! That’s not required for SVOD (streaming video on demand) or for YouTube and other internet sites. Plus, the technical specs (video quality, aspect ratio, audio leveling, frames per second) are so much more stringent for network TV! It’s all about the storytelling and the production values. You have to really know what you’re doing. I didn’t, but I was fortunate to find a couple good editors – especially our current editor, Bill Gaunce. He really took me under his wing and taught me so much about the technical aspects of editing a professional TV show. Also, Kristi Pelzel – our very talented Audio Technician – is always eager to share her knowledge and has been a tremendous help along the way.
HoTS: Being a woman, did you find it harder to get networks and decision-makers to take you seriously?
PM: No, not at all. There are a LOT of very powerful women in the entertainment industry. There’s also a very real “good ol’ boys and good ol’ girls” network and, if you’re an outsider, it’s very hard to break in, regardless of gender. That’s why you need a representative who is a Hollywood insider and, fortunately, we have someone who is plugged into that scene and has been for many years. He is constantly pitching us and meeting with potential buyers. He also attends all the entertainment markets throughout the year, which is where the most deals get done. Those are MIPCOM in Cannes, France, every fall, MIPTV in Cannes France every spring, Real Screen in Washington, DC, in January, NATPE in Miami in late January, Real Screen West in Santa Monica, CA, every June, and a host of smaller events. Our representative knows most of the movers and shakers at the TV networks and has them on speed dial. We’re also becoming more well known in our own right as the show has garnered some good ratings and good publicity in the international markets, so some network execs at least know our name.
HoTS: As a fellow Paranormal Investigator, there are certain questions that you know you are going to get asked, so here it is. What’s the scariest place you’ve ever investigated?
PM: that would be, St. Albans in Radford, Virginia. It’s the real deal and we captured a couple of our best EVPs there. That place is wicked! Other favorites are Pennhurst and Ramblewood, plus many lesser-known places such as Weems-Botts House, Oakland Mansion, Swannanoa Palace, Boydville, Adam-Stephen House, and a ton of others. Moundsville was also super scary.
HoTS: How do you get so much activity in a 10-hour period?
PM: We’re all “sensitives” and what I like to call “ghost magnets”. Except for my husband, Jim (the director), who is a “ghost repellant”. We can’t have him on set while we’re filming because all activity stops “dead” – so to speak – when Jim shows up. Ghosts fear him. He’s a very successful businessman and he does have a somewhat intimidating personality (although he would do anything for people and animals that need help), so maybe the ghosts are picking up on that outward persona.
HoTS: Do you believe EVPs are really the voices of the dead? What about photos and videos?
PM: In some cases – not in all. And, of course, EVPs can be faked easily – just like photos and videos. We look for “corroborating” evidence as “proof.” For example, perhaps an investigator gets goosebumps and then they think they glimpse a little girl out of the corner of their eye and then we get an anomalous sound that could be a child giggling. Even better, we later discover that a little girl died in this house. Now, that’s very convincing evidence! Is it proof positive? No, but it’s getting closer.
I am VERY wary about photos and videos. And I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of “orbs” showing up again and even one group attempting to match up the “little faces in the orbs” with old photographs of deceased residents. They have the whole town bamboozled with this garbage, even though I tried to explain to them that no reputable paranormal investigator would accept orbs from a digital camera as proof of the paranormal. Troy Taylor, one of the pioneers in this field, once wrote a great article debunking orbs and described them perfectly as “the lazy investigator’s evidence”. Now, there ARE such things as “spirit lights” that are seen with the naked eye and those may be more worthy of research, although Jim thinks it’s mostly ball lightning. But orbs in photos are extremely doubtful as anything other than dust, bugs, reflections, etc. Even when I’ve seen a few interesting ones show up in photos, I think it’s best to discount them simply because there are so many non-paranormal explanations for them. Let’s put it this way: orbs will NEVER help paranormal research be taken seriously by science, that’s for certain! In fact, all that happens when you run into the “orb fans,” like the group I mentioned earlier, is it makes all of us look ridiculous and takes away from the legitimate research so many groups are doing.
I’m also amazed that some people don’t seem to know what “pareidolia” is – you know, the tendency to see faces and familiar shapes in random images. Several so-called investigators on my news feed are constantly sending me blurry pictures of images circled in red with comments like, “There’s a Civil War soldier looking right at the camera.” No, there isn’t!! At least, not in most cases. A few, well, they’re interesting, but the vast majority of photos and videos on Facebook and the internet these days are nothing but fakes and wishful thinking. They’re setting the field of paranormal research back decades and it really bothers me.
And don’t even get me started on ghost apps! They’re the bane of our existence. But it’s easy to tell when it’s an app – it’s WAY too clear. I can’t tell you how many of those we get all the time from people who swear on their children’s heads that these photos are “real.” Yeah, right. They also tend to get very hostile when you explain that their photos are not in the least paranormal. But that’s okay. I’m not going to lie to protect someone’s ego. If you ask for my opinion, you’re going to get it so don’t ask if you don’t want to hear the truth.
Meanwhile, we’ll keep on keeping it as real as we can, while still editing the show to be as spooky, scary, and suspenseful as possible.
HoTS: Do you think that other paranormal TV shows are faking it?
PM: Yes. I know that for a fact. But that’s all I’m going to say about it. I don’t want to be sued.
HoTS: How should we view paranormal shows?
PM: As entertainment only, with a few shows that do some real research occasionally, including ours, of course. But most have to be taken with a VERY large pitcher of salt.
HoTS: I think that I know the answer to this, but what do you think of those “investigators” who learn all they know from TV?
PM: They’re not investigators, they’re pretenders. If you want to learn to be a serious paranormal investigator, my advice to you is to read all the books you can about metaphysics, spirituality, and the history of the paranormal and then and only then venture out into the field – for example, if you don’t know who Harry Price was or who Troy Taylor is or how digital cameras work or what the ideomotor effect is, you’re not a legitimate paranormal investigator. Read the books, search out the serious Internet sites like the Society for Psychical Research, join the discussion groups, and participate in forums such as There’s a (ghost) app for that, and always, always, always be willing to further your education, experiment, and learn new things. Never be afraid to fail!
HoTS: What do you think is the biggest mistake some paranormal investigators make?
PM: Not taking the paranormal seriously and failing to use psychic protection, smudging, clearing, and grounding. Several people on my team have been attacked by negative entities when they let down their guard. I was attacked by a very negative entity at Boydville last year and had some horrific nightmares for about a week before I got it under control via the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and other techniques. Sherry, one of my investigators, suffered with an attachment from Boydville for about six months before a shaman was able to help her. It’s not something to take lightly. Even for those who like to think they’re investigating “scientifically”, they need to be aware of the potential dangers of this work and take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. By the way, there’s absolutely no scientifically valid link between electromagnetic fields (EMF, which most ghost hunting equipment is designed to detect) and the presence of ghosts or other unseen entities. Plus, investigating “scientifically” requires much more than waving around a bunch of EMF meters. There’s a whole complex methodology, including developing hypotheses and theories and then experiments based on them, and very few paranormal investigators understand or follow these protocols. We used to do more of it but have more or less decided to rely on the spiritual/metaphysical approach to investigating. We get better results that way. But, no worries, Jim keeps us straight if we start to get too far out there in “woo woo” land. He truly is a scientist and would prefer to do more structured experiments, which we may go back to at some point. I’ll be honest with you, though: if you’re doing a paranormal TV show, science definitely does NOT sell.
HoTS: What do you think causes paranormal activity?
PM: There are lots of theories: human spirits, demons, elementals, thoughtforms, spirit guides, angels – all of the above. I think each case is different although the places where trauma and deaths have occurred on a large scale are certainly the most likely places. Much of it could also be caused by expectation – we want to see ghosts, we expect to see ghosts, and so we see them. The human mind is very powerful, much more so than we realize. That concentrated group energy can do some amazing things!! Although I’m not saying that’s necessarily the explanation, it’s certainly something that has to be considered. Especially since, as a student of metaphysical teachers such as “Seth” and “Abraham”, I thoroughly believe that we create our own reality through our thoughts and emotions. Maybe we also create our own “ghosts”, at least in some instances. That was demonstrated through the famous “Phillip” experiment back in the 70s, when a group of people made up a person named Phillip, gave him likes/dislikes and a past, and attempted to contact him through psychic means – with amazing success. Phillip answered as expected at first, but then seemed to learn and grow and take on an independent personality, much to the astonishment of the researchers. Thoughtform? Walk-in? Someone from spirit having a laugh? No one really knows.
HoTS: Are you planning to do any other paranormal shows?
PM: We have a couple in development right now. I would definitely like to do another few seasons of The R.I.P. Files – but we’ll see how the ratings are. We live or die by the ratings, as I’m sure you know.
HoTS: Pat, with all of the old and new technology and equipment being used, what do you think is the most important piece of equipment you can use as a paranormal investigator?
PM: Our own senses. We’ve found that the more we investigate, the more highly sensitive we become. We believe that, at this point, we’re all just as good as any so-called “psychic,” which is one reason we don’t usually bring in any outsiders. We have confidence in our own individual and team impressions, backed up by corroborating evidence such as personal experiences, audio, historical research, and even a few interesting photos. Our intuition has proven to be reliable over and over again in almost 10 years of investigating.
HoTS: Do you think “mass hysteria” may play a role in so-called “haunted” houses and other locations?
PM: Absolutely! We, as a species, seem to have a primal need to be scared. Let’s face it, we enjoy it. Wandering around a spooky old graveyard at night is a favorite activity for many of us. It’s easy to get scared in the dark with unfamiliar sounds and shapes, and it’s easy to let your imagination get the better of you. That’s why I’m totally opposed to anyone under 18 investigating. These types of experiences can traumatize susceptible children and adolescents — even adults — to the point that it can adversely affect their entire lives. It’s not worth taking that chance.
HoTS: By the way, why does everyone investigate in the dark?
PM: There’s a very simple explanation for that and we presented it in “Spirits of the Palace”, which was shot at Swannanoa in the mountains of central Virginia. Melatonin production increases between 10 pm and 3 am. Melatonin stimulates the pineal gland, whose function is mostly unknown to modern science but has traditionally been considered the “third eye” or the seat of our psychic senses. We believe that our senses do actually increase during these times and we may be able to see/hear/sense things that would normally be filtered out by our conscious mind during the day. Of course, there are plenty of ghost sightings reported in the daylight, but I still think nighttime is the best for picking up maximum activity.
Paranormal Investigators, Mark C. Higgins & Sherry

Paranormal Investigators, Mark C. Higgins & Sherry

HoTS: I want to thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to spend some time with us at House of Tortured Souls. As a fellow Paranormal Investigator and friend of yours, it was an honor and a real pleasure to be the one who interviewed you. I just have one last question for you: any last words for aspiring investigators?
PM: Thank you, Brenda, I really enjoyed our time as well, and Yes, I do have some last words for aspiring investigators: Always be willing to explore the darkness…and never stop learning!
Please Note: At the time of this article, due to things still being negotiated, we are still waiting to find out which major US network will be airing The R.I.P. Files. But to help curb your ghostly curiosity, please check out this teaser:
I hope that you liked my very first interview for House of Tortured Souls because I really enjoyed writing it.
Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and your eyes open!!
Happy Hauntings!!
Brenda – The Ghost Huntress

Pat Marin

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WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #24 – Blood Bus

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #24 – Blood Bus

Evening, Souls! It’s the twenty-third evening of Women in Horror Month, and House of Tortured Souls is proud to present the twenty-fourth entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

The twenty-fourth PSA comes from Marilyn Thomas.

From the official Press Release:

Next up is a segment from an extremely talented Canadian filmmaker (who usually kicks my butt at horror short competitions) who has taken the leap from wearing every other hat on set to directing her first short, Marilyn Thomas.
You are going to love this one – it was a perfect storm of killer amazing talent who came together to make it happen including American Mary’s Paula Lindberg and fellow Canadian artist heavy weight, Crystal Lowe.

Obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

Without further ado, behold the kickass twenty-fourth Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

Blood Bus

By Marilyn Thomas

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:

I’ve always been a fan of the blood drive, but because of health issues, have never been able to donate. Last year, I found out that people of color are very rare donors. I realized that as a First Nations person, I wanted to change that. This year, I’m not only donating blood, but I’ve signed up as a bone marrow donor and ensured to check off organ donation. Blood donation is the easiest to give. It takes minutes, and you don’t have to die to help someone out.

Cast & Crew:

Paula Lindberg – Actor

Paula Lindberg RADA-trained Paula Lindberg has built a solid genre reputation with her appearances on ‘Fringe’ and ‘Supernatural’ but attained immediate cult status from her portrayal of Ruby Realgirl in the breakout horror hit American Mary. Watch for her starring in the upcoming Corey Haim/Corey Feldman biopic coming out this spring

Sarah Booth – Stunt Actor

Sarah Booth has been an actress in theatre, television and film since 2008. Most notably, she was the lead role in the feature film The Scarehouse (Universal Studios) and a guest role on Law & Order: SVU, a role on American Horror Story VI. Sarah can currently be seen at Universal Studios Hollywood playing the lead role of Helen in the Waterworld Live Stunt Show.

Mike DeCamp – Actor/Stunt Coordinator

Mike DeCamp is a stunt performer and actor for theatre, television, and film. Mike studied at UCLA and UC Irvine (CA). He can be seen in projects such as Deadliest Warrior (Spike TV) as well as Pandemic (New Artist Alliance) and Six Gun Savior (New Artist Alliance).

Marilyn Thomas – Director/Writer

Marilyn Thomas has created a number of award-winning short films including, ‘Shi-Shi- Etko’, ‘The Secret Life Of Cassandra Brown’ and ‘JACK’. She has sold a number of features, as well, she has written and produced documentaries including ‘Path of Pilgrims’. In the realm of digital media, she has created numerous web series & and the successful interactive e-book series ‘Brambleberry Tales’ which is an iTunes editors choice.

Crystal Lowe – Producer/Actress

Crystal Lowe has multiple series regular roles to her name and is no stranger to Horror fans from her work in the Final Destination, Wrong Turn, Children of the Corn franchises. She currently stars in Signed, Sealed, & Delivered for the Hallmark channel & her last three produced short films have garnered international acclaim.

Cory Brandon Clay – Director of Photography / Producer

Cory Brandon Clay is an Emmy Award Winning Producer, Director of Photography &; Photographer. He studied at Webster University in Saint Louis, Missouri, UCLA. Cory collected his first Emmy & Telly Awards for PBS Documentary work. In 2002 he relocated to Los Angeles, where he filmed TV shows such as NCIS, NUMBERS, AMERICAN IDOL, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE; and feature films such as BORDERTOWN & BULLETPROOF MONK. Hes’ worked on commercials for Nissan, Toyota, & Adidas. In 2013, Cory established The Jukebox Romeos, a creative production agency dedicated to the work of feature films, music video content & live concert films. His clients include Kid Rock, CMT, Papa Roach, MTV, Discovery, Velocity, Blackberry Smoke, Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Red Light Management, ABC & Carrie Underwood.

Remember, Souls, there’ll be a new PSA every day, and please check out the official WiHM website for more on Women in Horror Month.

Check out the other PSAs:

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Women in Horror Month: Women in Film

Women in Horror Month: Women in Film

I have always been a huge cinephile and in so being have always tried to champion not only my favorite genre-horror but also women in film and independent filmmaking. So for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to reach out to some different women in the industry to get their feelings on the subject du jour. I was lucky enough to have been on Twitter when I came across a hashtag labeled #femalefilmmakerfriday. I just put up a tweet asking if any women in film would like to answer some questions for me, and I was so grateful to get many wondrous women volunteer to answer my inquiries. I do want to stipulate that I am not disparaging men in the business but celebrating women’s contributions to film which can oftentimes go unheralded. It shouldn’t need to be said that any actor, director, writer, etc…should be judged on the work that they put out, not on their gender, race, or sexual preference. But that is usually not the case. I heard a great quote this week from Danai Gurira from Black Panther this week, she said that “if you create excellence it will be responded to.” And I truly believe that should be true. So I will let you know my questions, and introduce you to the extremely talented women who answered them for me.

My first question: Do you approach directing/acting differently as a woman?

Katherine Filaseta Director: Black Panties Web series about women’s intuition and black girl magic, and mini-documentary The Loud, Proud Voices of the Women’s March on Washington. www.kayfilums.com

The main thing that makes my directing unique is that I never thought of film as a career choice growing up – and this is, indirectly, the result of me being a woman. Coming from an academic math-centered family, the only inspiration I had was whatever books, film, & TV I consumed, and unfortunately when I thought of film directors (or even just actors or authors) it didn’t even feel like an option for me because I only ever saw names like Scorcese or Tarantino or other white men in those positions. I was always a storyteller and played with writing stories and books, but I never thought about doing that professionally, even up through and beyond college. So I have a really varied background – I studied a lot of biology, math, chemistry, anthropology, history, music… I pretty much touched everything else before realizing that film was a thing. And all of that comes into my directing style. Even though it took a long time for me to figure it out, I’m really glad I had those experiences because I think if I had been a white man, or just been born into a different family, I would be viewing film from this “film school perspective” instead of just as an audience member and consumer, and I, of course, prefer my own perspective that I’ve figured out through trial and error and consumption over trying to emulate anyone else.

Noomi Spook-Independent producer/director of film, documentaries, and music videos. Nominated for Best New Media Entertainment. LTNT-Boss Lady, The Glowing Divide, Vodum-Spirits Past. www.noomispook.com

My gender influences the creative decisions I make as a director in so much as, I care about how women are represented on screen. I find it repulsive that most women characters are often defined exclusively by their relationship to the male characters (most likely the protagonist)- the wife, the mother, the love interest. They have no agency, and most of the time they have no brains and no personality either – they are functional plot devices. Therefore I chose to work on projects that show women as fully rounded, flawed, human beings. I thoroughly enjoy any opportunity I have to show a woman being badass – and that doesn’t always mean beating the shit out of someone or behaving in a stereotypically “masculine” way, to me being a badass woman means to constructively wield one’s own power, and to not take any shit for doing that.

My next question was “what challenges have you faced as a female director or actor?”

Nihil Noctem: Izzy Lee Director/Author.  My Monster, Rights of Vengeance, Innsmouth (on Shudder), The Lake Children in “Hydrophobia: A Charity Anthology Benefitting Victims of Hurricane Harvey and a new PSA for the Soska’s Blood Drive www.nihilnoctem.com

Getting a producer to want to go on a cinematic journey with me. Getting funding. Guys thinking that my husband is the director, not me.

Noomi: I’ve been told to wait to be hired by an ad agency to direct commercials because they didn’t have any girly adds, nothing with perfume or flowers etc. Fuck that. I want to do something with tanks in it! Another problem is navigating the sexual minefield. I’ve been inappropriately touched, propositioned and humiliated in business meetings, by powerful men who offered to finance my projects if I performed sexual favors on them. And as a result, now, I always have my guard up whenever I am meeting a man who could potentially support my career.

Third Question: Do you ever have trouble with the men you direct or act with as a woman?

Emily Sheskin Director Damon at 86th Street, There She Is, and Girl Boxer: Jesszilla about Jesselyn Silva a 10-year-old boxer hoping to win gold at the 2024 Olympics. http://www.emilysheskin.com/jesszilla

Once I had an actor mansplain calling action. He was a bit of a dumdum though and I laughed it off and noted as an actor in such a competitive market, correcting a director is not the best way to keep getting jobs. I’ve also experienced older, male DoPs sometimes talk down to me but that’s been rare since I choose to work with DoPs and crew members who I know and have a good history with. In those situations, it’s hard to know if it’s me being a woman, or me being “young” that has them speaking to me the way they initially do.

Question number four: What women in film influenced you?

Ariel Hansen Bad Cookie Pictures, Actor and Director specializing in Sci-Fi, Horror, and Grindhouse Nepenthes, Ready To Burst, Paint the Town Red https://twitter.com/BadCookiePics https://www.facebook.com/BadCookiePictures/

Living in Vancouver I’m very lucky because I get to rub shoulders with some really awesome women in the horror side of the industry who constantly inspire me like Jen & Sylvia Soska, Tristan Risk and my friend Gigi Saul Guerrero who taught me the basics of directing before we started shooting my first film. I’m also inspired by Karyn Kusama’s horror films, especially The Invitation, and Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary really disturbed me as a kid

Katherine: I had the opportunity when I was first starting my career to attend the NYWIFT Muse awards where I got to hear Dawn Ostroff speak, so she has inspired me from the beginning of my career. What she did to grow CW into a network where young women could actually see stories that interested them on screen is basically what opened the doors to me being able to do what I do now. I also, through NYWIFT and very early on in my film career, heard Annetta Marion speak about her journey, and getting to know her – an incredibly kind, confident, beautiful woman who had a non-traditional path into the industry similar to mine and isn’t afraid to demand what she is worth – has been inspiring to me as well. Lastly, my favorite director of all time is Bollywood director Farah Khan, whose films all contain reverence for the Bollywood industry while also containing yet incredibly intelligent mockery of it. I also super respect how she always has her entire crew featured in a really fun credits sequence. I wish all directors had that much respect and admiration for every member of their crew, even the ones whose names would otherwise pass by in the credits totally unnoticed by the audience.

Nihil: Jennifer Lynch, Karyn Kusama, and my friend Jovanka Vuckovic. Other directors that made me think I could do this too: Maude Michaud and the Soskas. Another friend, Jill Gevargizian, is inspirational with the sheer amount of talent she has.

Noomi: My number one female filmmaking hero is Lynne Ramsay. I saw the Ratcatcher when I was in college and it broke my heart, I’ve never been more moved by a film, before or since. However, in terms of my personal style, I have always been more influenced by John Carpenter, David Lynch, and John Waters. They are all much bigger influences on my style and the kinds of films I aspire to make.

Emily: Amy HeckerlingClueless, words don’t express how much I love that film or how important it was to me growing up. Also, Penny Marshall who directed Big. Those two women managed to shelter me from the fact that not many women directed films. As a kid, I just knew that I loved these two movies and they both were by women…no big deal! It was only later that I realized how rare their existence was. Sailor Moon was also huge for me as a kid and it was created by Naoko Takeuchi (who I believe was a pharmacist before she found success with her manga). That show made me believe not only that women were great storytellers but that storytelling is universal. I figured if a show from Japan (an island I’d never been to or thought much about as an 11-year-old) could bring me such joy and impact my life in such a positive way, people are not so different and stories can bring us all together. That show made me want to do what she did for me for someone else.

Question number five was is there anything you have experienced as a female director/actor that is a great story?

Emma Dark, Award-winning filmmaker, actress, and model specializing in Horror and Sci-Fi Salient Minus Ten, Seize the Night, Island of the Blind Dead www.facebook.com/SalientMinusTen www.twitter.com/SalientMinusTen

As a female director, the fact that we have wonderful events and interviews for movements such as Women in Horror Month. We need more of this!

Nihil: I was onstage at a film festival where I was the only woman with about 8 or 9 guys. An actor who was repping the film he was in was the first to get the mic, and said, “I’m so happy to be up here with all these fine young men.” I mean, what?! When I got the mic as it was passed down, I wiggled my pinkie in front of crouch, and looked at my husband in the crowd and said, “Hey Steve, sorry, but I seem to have gotten a sex change while I’ve been up here.” You have to call people out when a situation is as egregious as that.

Question number six was “If you could direct a film about any famous woman, who would it be?”

Gemma Wilks, Actress, Alien Outbreak, Harvest of the Dead, Skullz  https://www.spotlight.com/2537-0194-7453

She’s not famous, but I am developing a story inspired by the life of my grandmother who has now passed away. My dream is to write and produce it as a feature film/tv series one day, perhaps Anne Mensah will come knocking! The themes are around my grandmother’s struggles growing up in the 20th Century when her youth was ripped away by the war. Being a WAF officer with a particular instance involving Churchill. Living through technology changes that were baffling. Watching people you cared about die as you age. There is more that I can’t go into but she was an inspiration and her tenacious spirit certainly contributed to make me the person I am.

Emma: Grace Jones was given a tough time in the 80s and treated with a degree of sexism, based on my understanding given the interviews with her that I’ve watched. Her avant-garde style and diverse creative skillset would have been something held in higher regard today. So maybe there’s a story to tell there!

Ariel: There are a few different women through history that I’d love to make films about, like the sniper Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko from WW2, Boudica, or since they’re finding evidence of women being a part of Viking raiding parties, it would be so cool to make a film about female Vikings.

Nihil: Not sure, but a biopic about Sigourney Weaver or Charlize Theron before either made it as an actor would be cool. The story of the “radium girls” is horrific but compelling.

Emily: There’s a documentary on Bret the Hitman Hart (Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows), and now that Ronda Rousey has signed a contract with the WWE I’d be very curious to document her transition out of MMA to WWE. I have been so curious how she feels about leaving a sport that she helped open up to other women in the way she left it, and how she feels about this next chapter.

Noomi: Rosa Luxemburg. That’s a no-brainer for me, her politics were so ahead of its time, she was a genius, a fighter, a real revolutionary. She was sexually free at a time when people didn’t do that, and she stood for something she believed in, even up the point when she was murdered for her beliefs. people were terrified of her. And she was only 4foot 10 with a limp. She was a total badass.

And my last question: What does a woman bring to the film industry that a man doesn’t?

Gemma: Men bring a huge amount to any industry, but I think from my experience women bring organizational skills which help things run smoothly. This then allows them to look beyond an issue and see a series of options available beyond the confusion of daily functioning. They have an empathy and understanding of individuals circumstances which they can take on board whilst making sure the job still gets done and standards aren’t compromised. Obviously, there are men that can do this too but this is in my experience. Oh, and women don’t generally take no for an answer, even if they pretend they have!

Emma: In terms of horror the audience is increasingly female. I believe having more of an equal balance of men and women in cast and crew will help bring more diverse themes, ideas, and creativity to the table.

Noomi: Anything they can do, we can do bleeding

Katherine: I recently got the opportunity to work with an all-female cast and crew through the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge, and it was such a wonderful experience. In general, I think women and other minorities have had to be exceptional at their jobs to be taken seriously at all, so everyone had an incredible work ethic and was amazing to work with. Also, I think a lot of the stories we see are repetitive and formulaic – which is not an issue, because formulas work and it’s so cool to see what different people do with those formulas. But most of the people we’ve seen play with those formulas are men, and it’s so cool to see what a female perspective brings to those formulas. Women have a ton of stories that simply haven’t been told without a male gaze on them, and it’s exciting that finally, we are getting the opportunity to tell those stories on our own. We’ve seen a million great coming of age stories, and yet Ladybird touched me in totally new ways and honestly told an entirely different story – just because I finally got to watch a coming of age story about myself, for literally the first time ever. Which is completely ridiculous given the number of coming of age novels that are required high school reading but ONLY ABOUT BOYS.

Ariel: Women bring our own diverse experiences and stories to the industry which has been very homogeneous in what you see on screen for far too long. Having those stories told on the big screen are crucial in creating an equal society and helping the next generation to know that women can be more than just “so and so’s love interest” not just in films, but in their own lives as well.

Nihil: I hate to generalize, but I would think that empathy and multitasking could be it.

Emily: I think being a woman just gives you a different experience. There are small things that we take for granted that men never think about. It’s the reality of living in this body and going through life socialized the way we are. I think women are trained to be more sensitive to the feelings of others and as a result, tend to make very thoughtful inclusive films. This is a sweeping generalization though and I have a hard time answering this when experience varies so greatly.

In preparing for this article and putting feelers out I got a response from the very talented actor Eddy Shore (Murrays Run, White) who had such an insightful comment on the subject that I wanted to include it here:

As we all know there shouldn’t be a differentiation between genders in job opportunities, pay, etc. But there is a huge difference in the emotional connections those two genders have. Women are much more in touch of certain (deep) emotions which men are often not (or often are not allowed to be in a stereotypical image) and this emotional connection brings a whole different point of few to stories. If we keep having dominantly white male directors, we will keep having white male points of few to the majority of stories. I’m to 100% certain that women will pay attention to different details, will focus on different statements they want to portray and this which will show in a film. In my opinion, there is a huge need for a fresh wind in the film industry.

So I want to thank everyone for their very valuable time and the thought that went into their answers. All of these amazing women answered all of the questions, but so this did not become a novella I have chosen to just feature a few from each. Hopefully, this has given you some insight and awareness into the world of women in film but always remember that they are, as far as the film industry should be concerned with, they are writers, directors, producers, actors, etc… first and foremost and their vast talents are paramount.

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARIES, EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, OPINION, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments