Allen Alberson

TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (3 of ?)

TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (3 of ?)

RIP George A. Romero

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
It’s maybe one of the most famous, and chilling lines in horror. From one of the most groundbreaking movies in the history of horror cinema, Night of the Living Dead by director George A. Romero. We lost George this week, and it’s a loss that has shaken the world of horror. If you are a newer horror fan, maybe you don’t know the name, but you should. Maybe you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, but not really a horror fan, well you should know Mr. Romero’s name. The modern zombie only exists because of George A. Romero.
Before Romero, zombies were basically lumbering, undead servants. Their menace was limited to lurching about, choking, and throwing their victims. They were creatures of Caribbean folklore that might strike fear into the superstitious locals but not so much on the big screen. George Romero changed all that; he took the shambling undead and instilled them with one of our great taboos: cannibalism. Now Romero has famously said he had no intention of making a zombie movie, no thoughts of forever changing horror history. Whatever his intentions, that’s exactly what he did. Over the years zombies have evolved and changed, brain-eating, running zombies, rage zombies, virus zombies, but none of that would have been possible without Romero. Every zombie film, from 28 Days Later to Return of the Living Dead, every TV show from The Walking Dead to iZombie, every video game from Resident Evil to Lollipop Chainsaw, every damn one can trace its existence back to Mr. Romero.
Romero was more than just Night of the Living Dead. He followed this game changer with another classic, Dawn of the Dead. Years later he continued with Day of the Dead. Then, when everyone thought he was finished, he launched his big budget Land of the Dead and then came back with the much maligned (unfairly, in my opinion) Diary of the Dead. Outside the zombie subgenre, he created horror classics such as Creepshow, Martin, and The Dark Half, cult favorites like Knight Riders and The Crazies, and the occasional misfire like Season of the Witch and Survival of the Dead.
But that’s all about his movies. There have probably been a thousand articles, blogs, and news stories about Romero’s movies and his importance to horror. There could easily be 1,000 more, most of them better than anything I could write about his legacy. Nah, I really want to talk about the man and my encounters with him. Now I won’t lie and insult the hard core fans of the dead series. That’s not fair to them. As much as I love his zombie classics, I was never the biggest fan by any means, and he wasn’t my favorite director. However, if Romero did a movie, I watched it, and usually I enjoyed it. So I passed up a chance to meet him at least once. Mostly because I absolutely hated waiting in line, and at conventions George Romero always had a line. I’m glad I overcame that to meet the man once.
The first time I saw him in real life was at the Horrorfind convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. It was around 2006 or 2007. I was sitting by the pool with friends late in the evening just after dark. We were joking, chatting and drinking adult beverages and someone noticed him and poked me. I looked and there he was. He was so much taller than I had imagined from seeing him on television and in photos. He towered above the person he was talking too, wearing, as best I can remember a dark green or teal shirt and slacks, and the vest, and the coke bottle glasses. He didn’t look like a man who had changed horror forever. He looked more like a hippie with his long, graying ponytail, but you felt his presence. It was only a brief passing moment, but you knew you were in the vicinity of horror royalty. This was someone who redefined the genre.
I didn’t “officially” meet him that year. It was a year or two later, at the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival in Nashville, TN. I went with the full intention of meeting him, but once again the line was unbelievable. Rightfully so. And I talked myself out of it. Luckily, I really wanted to meet him, so I kept popping by. Finally. I found the line had gotten shorter, so I jumped in. Only to find the line was short because George had went out to lunch and a lot of people had wandered off. Oh, ye of little patience, yeah I was impatient, too, but I made myself sit there on the floor in line until finally we got the word he was back. The line quickly refilled and started slowly moving. When we finally got to the table, we realized the line moved slow because the man, the master, the godfather of horror, didn’t rush his fans.
Finally we got up to the table (me and my new line buddies), and there he was. The same vest, same glasses and ponytail, but he was smiling, laughing, and looking at his fans with genuine affection. It was the same when we introduced ourselves to him. He laughed at our jokes, smiled and asked where we were from. I had picked out a photo of him and Simon Pegg. He was about to sign, and he stopped, pointed at Simon and said, “That young man is going places”. We shook hands and got a photo with him at his table. This was back before they were called selfies, and when most celebs, including George, didn’t charge for photos.
I met George a couple other times, always with friends. Every time was like the first time. George A. Romero, the father of the zombie movie, always smiling, usually laughing, always looking at his fans with a genuine love and appreciation. That’s how I will always remember Mr. Romero. As wonderful as his films were, he was so much more. That’s what I will take with me.
Posted by Allen Alberson in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
Andrea Collins guests on House of Tortured Souls LIVE!

Andrea Collins guests on House of Tortured Souls LIVE!

House of Tortured Souls LIVE

House of Tortured Souls LIVE

House of Tortured Souls LIVE is back with your hosts John and Dixie. This is the second episode of their live on YouTube podcast and this week they welcome scream queen and aspiring actress and model Andrea Collins. You might better know her as Andie Noir, shes starring in the upcoming reality-based horror film Krokodil Chronicles. Besides that she has a lengthy list of horror credits both in the can and filming. So prepare to get your groove on and your boogie down! If you haven’t heard about Krokodil Chronicles it is based on the real life Russian street drug that literally eats its users alive. The slightly less than dynamic duo also talk about Andrea’s role in an upcoming Bryan Coyne (Infernal) film that she can’t name just yet. She also talks about starring with horror icon John Dugan (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) in the upcoming Belly Timbers. So buck up mateys and climb aboard as House of Tortured Souls LIVE welcomes Andrea Collins aka Andie Noir, the shows runs a little over an hour, and it’s almost all Andie, all killer, no filler.
Posted by Allen Alberson in Podcast, 0 comments
Dixielord’s Amazon Prime Horror Picks – June/July 2017

Dixielord’s Amazon Prime Horror Picks – June/July 2017

Quite often I am asked about movie selections, especially selections of streaming movies. It’s not always easy. Everyone has a different opinion of what makes a movie good, or even watchable. Complicating matters, the films available for streaming change on a monthly – and sometimes a weekly – basis, and the number of services for movie streaming are continuously growing. So, basically, the list will change fairly regularly. Sounds like a great idea for a recurring column, doesn’t it kiddos?!
So let’s start this with Amazon Prime Picks, since I noticed several great new additions to the service recently. So here we go, with Dixie’s Amazon Prime picks for June and July 2017.
1. Day of the Animals: We all know Leslie Nielsen was one of the great comedic actors of the last several decades. From the classic Airplane of the 70s, to reinvigorating himself in the Naked Gun movie series, he has been making people laugh. However, not as many people know he had a career as a serious actor. He even played the heavy at times, like in this 1977, nature gone wild horror movie. In it. There are several reasons to recommend Day of the Animals to horror fans such as the reuniting of stars from the cult film Grizzly, appearance of Susan Backlinie, the famous first victim in Jaws, or just as a look back at 70s eco-horror, but the main reason is Nielsen. His character goes from grating asshole, to full on whack a doodle, bear fighting insanity, and it’s a joy to watch.

Fair use doctrine.
2. Shock Waves: Young horror fans may think Nazi Zombies are a new concept, but in actually the sub genre existed long before Dead Snow made it popular again. Nazi undead have plagued the cinema for decades from Jess Franco’s Oasis of the Zombie, Jean Rollin’s Zombie Lake, all the way back to The Frozen Dead, starring Dana Andrews (who most of us only know from the opening song of Rocky Horror). None of these are better, in my opinion, than Shock Waves. Shock Waves, which stars horror legend Peter Cushing, and a heart stopping Brooke Adams, is one of the most original zombie films ever made. Some might argue the monsters in the film aren’t zombies. I disagree, and have reasons to support my belief, but horror fans are always arguing about what is and isn’t a zombie. Frankly I’m tired of the argument, and this is my list, so fuck you guys, they’re zombies. So why should you watch it? Seriously? Peter Cushing isn’t enough? Well how about a red hot Brooke Adams who spends most of the film in a bikini? How about genre legend John Carradine (who thankfully isn’t in a bikini)? Well if you need more, as I said it’s one of the more original zombie films ever made. I go more into detail on my website, but besides all that, whats more American than killin’ Nazis? Killing Nazi zombies, that’s what!?
3. The Tombs of the Blind Dead: Zombies are way beyond the saturation point now. The Walking Dead is still riding high on television, but with zombies appearing in commercials for everything from banks to brake shops, they are more pop culture than horror. Very few new zombie films are horrifying or even interesting. So let’s take a trip back to 1972 and Amando de Ossorio’s Spanish Horror, Tombs of the Blind Dead. This tale of reanimated Templar Knights has so much that is lacking from modern horror. It’s dark, gory at times and has a bleak, almost claustrophobic atmosphere. There are scenes where the tension is so high that it is almost physically painful to watch. The reanimated knights have had their eyes pecked out by birds of prey after their execution and are forced to hunt their prey by sound. Take note Don’t Breathe, this is how to do that gimmick right.

Great Horror in Amazon Prime Picks

4. The Witch Who Came In From The Sea: Don’t let the artwork and title fool you. This isn’t a supernatural horror. It is one of the infamous video nasties of the 80s, and it’s gory enough to deserve that title. The cover art is reminiscent of the gothic horror of Bava, but this is actually a slasher that’s as much drama as horror in all honesty. It deals with a mentally disturbed woman who makes short and bloody work of her lovers. It has all the shortcomings of a typical video nasty, low budget, iffy acting and bad effects. It also has a compelling story and enough blood to satisfy the gorehound. It deserves a spot with the revenge slashers of the 70s and 80s and you should watch it while it’s easily available.
The Witch Who Came From the Sea poster art
The Witch Who Came From the Sea poster art
5. The Final Terror: The Final Terror is a little seen, almost lost slasher from the 80s. It’s a film I have wanted to see since I was a kid. I was drawn in by lurid posters and promo but unfortunately I never got a chance to see it, till it was on streaming media. It’s a fairly decent slasher, about kids lost in the woods, hunted by as masked maniac. But why am I recommending it to you? The cast, that’s what makes it a must see. It includes a young and gorgeous Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, Adrian Zmed, a young Joe Pantoliano and Neidemeyer himself, Mark Metcalf.
So that’s it, five selections streaming on Amazon Prime right now. Don’t wait too long because you never know when a film will be pulled. Check back here for MORE selections from the House of Tortured Souls staff.
Posted by Allen Alberson in Categories, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Belko Experiment (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Belko Experiment (2016)

The Belko Experiment has been described as Office Space meets Battle Royale. To be honest I thought this was the usual inane Hollywood promotional BS, but after seeing it, it’s a fair comparison. Maybe the funniest thing is after I watched The Belko Experiment, I went back to my hotel, and guess what was on cable. It’s hard to be a gangsta. The fact I saw it on a mini vacation explains why this review is so late. Busy having fun, homes.
The Belko Experiment, if you haven’t seen the previews, revolves around a group of office workers forced to fight in mortal combat. The film was written by James Gunn (Slither), directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), and stars genre heavyweight Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), as well as Tony Goldwyn (The Last House on the Left (2009)), and John Gallagher, Jr (10 Cloverfield Lane). Some (unneeded) humor was provided by Sean Gunn.
The story isn’t much deeper than what you see in the previews. And that’s not a bad thing. It is what it is – kill or be killed – and both happen, quickly and over and over again.
One of the issues facing The Belko Experiment was that people have grown accustomed to the lighter side of James Gunn, especially after Guardians of the Galaxy. I talked to several people after the film, many of them went in expecting light entertainment and were shocked at the level of violence. People seem to forget that Gunn is also the man who brought us The Descent and the gory Dawn of the Dead remake. People also apparently forgot that director McLean is the man who brought us Wolf Creek, which was just chock full of levity. Not!
Whatever your preconceptions, The Belko Experiment is not light. It doesn’t take long to kick into gear, and once it starts rolling, it is bloody, violent and hard core. There is a sense that Goldwyn and Gallagher meet for a final showdown, don’t try and predict anything else. The order people are killed in is unexpected. No one is safe, and some of the deaths really hit you hard.
After tons of mayhem and violence, it manages a fairly satisfying ending. The final scene, reminds me somewhat of A Serbian Film’s, “it’s never over” ending.
The story is nothing deep, it’s just a fun, violent thrill ride. John C McGinley (Office Space) near steals the show as creepy, stalkerish executive Wendell Dukes. Sean Gunn is funny as the dope smoking, paranoid cafeteria worker. Now I have heard some say his humor ruined the film for them. It didn’t ruin it for me, and I did enjoy it, but it took away from the dread of the film.
When Corporate gives you the ax…
I know it is conventional wisdom that a horror film has to have some levity. Something to prevent it from becoming too dark. I don’t agree with that theory. It was my main complaint with The Green Inferno (and most Eli Roth films). Maybe American film goers in general will be frightened off by a completely dark film, but maybe they won’t. French films like Martyrs, and Frontier(s) work with little or no comic relief. I think genre fans will flock to a hard R with no jokes, or maybe I’m delusional, but damn, I would love to see more straight up no joke horror.
So while the humor didn’t ruin it, I cant help but wish they hadn’t added it. Still, The Belko Experiment is a very enjoyable horror film. Even with the humor it’s not for the squeamish. If it’s still playing near you, rush out to see it. If not, get ready to grab it on VoD or DVD.
Full on 7 out of 10.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
CROWDFUNDING PICK: Space Babes From Outer Space

CROWDFUNDING PICK: Space Babes From Outer Space

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I miss the old sex comedies of the 80s and 90s. You could argue that their time has come and gone, and a few months ago I probably would have agreed with you. However, the good folks over at Bandit Motion Pictures are trying their best to prove us all wrong with Space Babes From Outer Space.
It's time for Space Babes From Outer Space!
It’s time for Space Babes From Outer Space
If you aren’t familiar with Bandit Motion Pictures, it is a collaborative effort between Scott Schirmer, Brian K Williams, and Ellie Church. The group’s first films, Harvest Lake and Plank Face were disturbing and transgressive films. So if I had to guess what their next project would be, well I probably wouldn’t have guessed a sex comedy. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. If I had any desire to complain, it would have vanished with the trailers.
Space Babes From Outer Space will be directed by Williams (Time to Kill), while Schirmer and Church are on board as producers. Ellie Church (Frankenstein Created Bikers) pulls double duty as the leader of the titular Space Babes, along with Alyss Winkler (Plank Face) and Allison Maier. Seriously, if you need a reason to see this beyond that line up, I can’t help ya, friend.
The Space Babes From Outer Space crowdfunding ends soon!
And right now there is a super easy way to make sure you can watch Space Babes From Outer Space. Bandit Motion Pictures is in the midst, actually the closing stretch of an indiegogo. At the time of this writing, there is only a week to go. The perks are unbelievable, there is a limited double disc “stacked” edition, that will only be available to IGG supporters. After the IGG only the single disc version will be available, and it may not be available for long. Their first film Harvest Lake is already out of print. If you made the mistake of not nailing down a copy, don’t repeat it. Believe me, you will kick yourself, because the best Space Babes can only be found in Outer Space.
There isn’t much time left so hurry up. Space Babes From Outer Space is our crowd funding pick of the month.
Oh, and don’t forget to give the Facebook page a like.
Posted by Allen Alberson in COMING SOON, Crowd funding Pick, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Quite often I get asked for movie suggestions. Often that suggestion comes with the caveat, usually along the lines of “not the usual found footage, or stupid teens”. Luckily there are a few suggestions I can give and I Am Not a Serial Killer is one of them. It’s definitely not your usual horror film, and while the main character is a teen, he’s not your usual clueless, horny teen.
I Am Not A Serial Killer / Fair use doctrine.
I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix
I am not a Serial Killer on Netflix

I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix

I Am Not a Serial Killer is about a young teen who is fighting sociopathic urges and tendencies. He hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he can fill the pull and is intrigued by death. It doesn’t help that he works in the family’s funeral home. His personal conflicts are exacerbated when dead bodies start turning up around town. He’s drawn to the victims and the crime scenes, and it soon becomes apparent that the killer, might be something more than human.
The film is based on the first novel in the John Wayne Cleaver series by writer Dan Wells. It was directed by Brian O’Brien. I Am Not a Serial Killer stars Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are), as John Wayne Cleaver and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Piranha 3-D) as his elderly neighbor Bill Crowley. That’s about all the plot I’m going to give you. It would be a crime to spoil it any more. The film develops fairly quickly so you wont have to wait long.
As I mentioned, I Am Not a Serial Killer isn’t your usual film with stupid teen protagonists and victims. Even though the lead is a teen, and the book is based on is considered Young Adult, John Wayne Cleaver is nit your typical teen. He’s a troubled, complex character, a clinically diagnosed sociopath, fighting his darker urges. His conflict, trying to stay on the side of light, while investigating, and trying to prevent more murders is just as compelling as the conflict between him and the killer.
And the killer is no less complex, as we find out he is more than a cold blooded killer. Slowly we learn what drives him, as his killing drives John closer to his dark side. The film allows you to have some understanding of the killer and why he does what he does. Even the background characters are more than the usual cardboard, two dimensional set pieces. John’s mom struggles to understand him, while he feels detached from her, we realize she is at least trying to stay connected.
Lloyd gives the usual superb performance, in a role that’s a little more complex than bumbling scientist, or elderly crime lord. Powers is a relative newcomer but makes a believable teen antagonist in his first, adult, or young adult role. I really don’t want to give away anymore and it’s hard to talk about each character without doing so. Let’s just say both roles stray far outside the usual hero/villain archetype and leave it at that.
The story does have a twist, fairly early in, and it might be less than shocking, but it lends to an interesting story. A story I wasn’t expecting when I decided to watch it. The twist propels it out of the thriller category and squarely into the realm of horror. Don’t let the Young Adult tag on the book scare you away, I Am Not a Serial Killer is great for adult viewing. It’s not a gore fest by any means but there are some bloody, gut-filled scenes that might make some queasy.
The only real negative was in the final scenes, where there are some special effects that seem a bit less than horrifying. It really didn’t bother me but I’m sure some horror fans may claim it ruined the film for them. Some people are just way too willing to let anything ruin a film for them.
So for a smart, well written, well acted film that isn’t your average found footage, teens lost in the woods, inbred slasher fare, check out I Am Not A Serial Killer. It’s currently streaming on Netflix. On a scale of 1-10, I’m giving it a stout 7 stars.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

No Monkey Business

Kong: Skull Island promo poster
Kong: Skull Island is a movie I have looked forward to with a mix of eagerness and trepidation. I love the big guy, but he hasn’t been done justice since the 1933 Merion Cooper original. Through two remakes, two sequels, and a Japanese re-imagining, nothing has come close to that magnificent romp to the top of the Empire State building. Kong: Skull Island won’t make you forget the original, but it might just reignite your love for the big monkey.
Skull Island has always held a fascination for me, ever since I watched the Cooper original. A hidden island, surrounded by perpetual fog, spoken of in whispers, and one word, Kong. What an imposing island with its huge skull shaped cliff face. Whose inhabitants hid behind a huge wall from the monstrous Kong. But the giant ape wasn’t the only horror on the island, dinosaurs, giant snakes, spiders and who knows what other abominations.
John C Reilly steals Kong: Skull Island
So when I heard there were plans for a Skull Island movie, I was a little bit excited. Those hopes dimmed a good bit when I learned the movie was going to be used as a springboard into a monster mash between Big G and Kong. Then hearing it was basically a reboot of the Kong mythos, I really despaired about the film. But I was still eager to see it. The first photos and trailers showed a wonderful looking Kong. Yet that trailer also showed not so great looking CGI dinosaur-like creatures, and lots of explosions and fire, Visions of Michael Bay suckiness danced in my head.
Luckily for me, other King Kong fans, and moviegoers in general, this was far from a Michael Bay film. Kong: Skull Island is more than a filler movie, meant to shoehorn the ape into a shared monster universe. It’s a good movie, the best King Kong film since the original, which admittedly isn’t saying a whole lot.
Samuel L Jackson isn’t interested in bringing Kong back from Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is still at heart a movie about the struggle of man against nature. Humans again venture onto his island, but there’s no attempt to bring him back. Instead it’s a battle to the death between Kong and Samuel L Jackson’s Col Packard. With Packard, Kong is up against perhaps his most dangerous adversary ever. His motivation for battling Kong isn’t greed, it isn’t science, it’s revenge, or, as he would see it, justice. Justice for the men killed by Kong in their first encounter. But it’s more than just revenge that drives Jackson’s character.
Packard is a warrior without a war. Skull Island is set in 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. The men under Packard’s command are eager to go home, yet Packard seems lost. He jumps at the chance for one more mission. This is a war he won’t abandon, like he feels Vietnam was. So as much as he tells his men, and us, and himself, that it’s for revenge; it’s really that he has nothing else. In killing Kong, he hopes to make up for losing the bigger war. The scene of Kong and Packard eying each other with unbridled anger is chilling, Packard is Jackson’s best role in quite some time.
Skull Island gives us more than just a potential worthy adversary for Kong. It does something no other King Kong movie has done and that few action movies do well. It developed characters between the 1-3 lead characters. We get to know, at least a little about almost every member of Packard’s command who survives the initial assault. We see that camaraderie, and we learn little things about them. They are more than just cannon fodder, so when they die, we feel it.
Tom Hiddleston and Brie are the moral counterpoint to Packard. Hiddleston is ex-British Intelligence John Conrad, hired to scout for the party, Larson is war photographer Mason Weaver, or as she likes to call herself an “anti war” photographer. It was easy to foresee Larson as the Ann Darrow character made famous by Fay Ray; however, Kong: Skull Island didn’t go that route. The damsel in distress plot line is completely abandoned. Weaver is able to hold her own, as much as anyone, against the inhabitants of Skull Island. Hiddleston, while doing a fine job as the heroic savior who stands against Packard and the evil “skull crawlers”, is upstaged by John C Reilly.
Honestly, if there is one major positive surprise, it’s in Reilly’s performance. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Reilly. While I loved him in Step Brothers, his Dr. Steve Brule annoys me. In Kong, he plays a downed World War II pilot, trapped on the island for 30 years. He provides some great comedic moments in Kong, but he’s more than a funny guy displaced in time. He stands tall as a heroic character later in the film, as well as the most touching moment in the film. He comes very close to completely upstaging both Hiddleston and Jackson. I never thought I would type that, really, I’m shocked.
Visually the film is impressive, with beautiful shots that pay homage to the original King Kong (the scene of him holding a wet Larson in his hand.) There are also scenes that hearken back to Vietnam war movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. You could almost forget you are watching a giant monster movie at times.
The story, with the visuals, and characters, becomes an anti war movie of sorts. We see Packard, a man who doesn’t know how to live without war, we see Weaver, who hates war, and we see Conrad, who’s tired of war. And we see all of the grunts who just want to make it home to their families. But it never lingers long enough on the anti war sentiment to bog it down or make it not fun. The subtext is there, but it’s not always front and center.
But I think what I liked most is that Kong: Skull Island finally makes the monkey a full fledged hero. Come on, we all cheered when he swatted down that biplane, and we all cried, when he fell and we heard, “It was beauty that killed the beast.” Here Kong is a force of nature. He’s a god for all intents and purposes. Here to protect the natural order against the monsters that lie below. It’s very similar to the twist on Godzilla in his 2014 remake. And it was far from unintentional. This Kong has no natural hatred or fear of the tiny humans. He acts as their protector, at least till you piss him off, and seems curious about them at times. Maybe some of it was a bit hokey, but, fuck you, I like Kong as the good guy.
And Kong looks good. Maybe better than he ever has. He looks more like an ape in the face, although he’s still more bipedal than any true ape. His fight scenes are epic, especially when he decides to show off his tool-using ability. More than anything else, this is a fun movie.
I’m trying to stay spoiler free, but it’s no secret that this is a set up for Kong vs Godzilla. So it should be no secret that the big guy manages to make it though Skull Island. But that’s all I’m saying. Now go see it yourself. No monkey business, just 4 stars out of five.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

The golden years of horror franchises seem to be over. With Friday the 13th, and Hellraiser both looking to be rebooted, again, in the near future, the lingering bad taste of the Nightmare on Elm Street re-boot and who knows what in store for Halloween, it looks like the days of continuing series are in the past. Meanwhile Underworld: Blood Wars keeps the Vampire/Lycan series quietly churning on.
Knives and guns, vampires and werewolves are back and so is Beckinsale
I can hear the horror purists screaming now, “Underworld isn’t horror!!” and that’s okay, get it out. Honestly, I could write a whole article about how I agree with you. Maybe I will, but not today. The fact is a lot of people who identify as horror fans do love the Underworld series. A lot of them hate to admit it though. It’s like the guilty pleasure of horror. Our own Fuller House without the annoyance of Bob Saget a couple of times a season.
However you feel about Underworld, Underworld: Blood Wars isn’t likely to change your opinion. The film opened well enough that a sixth installment has already been approved, yet it was the lowest opening weekend for a film in the series, a sign it might slowly be running out of gas. Hey, it’s been almost fifteen years since the original, and even a Prius can only go so far.
Theo James and Charles Dance protect a wounded Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Blood Wars
For good or bad, Underworld: Blood Wars is basically more of the same. CGI werewolves, stylized fighting with beautiful heroes and villains. Kate Beckinsale is back in the skin tight spandex she has donned for four of the five installments, looking as delicious as ever. Beckinsale plays Selene, former death dealer now renegade vampire, but if you are reading this, I’m sure you already know all about Selene. Returning from the fourth installment, Underworld: Awakening, is Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Dracula Untold) and Theo James (Divergent). Also in the cast is Laura Pulver (True Blood) and Daisy Head, the daughter of Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Underworld Blood Wars is also the directorial debut of Anna Forrester.
From watching the trailers, you might be tempted to think the film revolves around the search for Selene’s daughter Eve. However, the search never really happens. It’s really, as I said above, just more of the same. Werewolves have a leader who unites them against the backstabbing and traitorous vampires. They make attempts to diverge from the standard formula but for the most part it keeps coming back home. There is mention of Eve, as the Lycans try to pry her location from Selene, but it always boils down to wolves against vamps. It does lead up to the sixth installment actually involving the hunt for Eve and a possible last hurrah for Beckinsale as the lead.
Basically if you like the Underworld series, you will probably like Blood Wars. It’s not as good as the first installment, but I actually enjoyed it more than the last one. Beckinsale is still as fetching as ever, and I still enjoy watching her. Theo James makes a decent lead to replace the long since gone Scott Steadman, who I still think is actually Scott Stapp of Creed. The acting is decent enough for what it is. If you hate Underworld, this film won’t convert you, and neither will Scott Stapp, but that’s another story too.
My advice, if you are a hard core Underworld fan, or just need a dose of Beckinsale booty wiggle, rush on out to Underworld: Blood Wars. Anything other than full loyalty to the brand, wait for it to hit DVD or Netflix. I’m giving it five out of ten stars (don’t hit me!) for being more of the same, stay the course, but a little extra sexy with Laura Culver.
So, there ya go – 5 out of 10 for Underworld: Blood Wars.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MUSIC REVIEWS, 0 comments
WiHM: Pam Grier

WiHM: Pam Grier

Pam Grier, Women in Horror Month
When you first think of Women in Horror, you might not think of Pam Grier. Pam is more famous for her early career in exploitation cinema than in horror. However, she has had roles in several horror movies and is well known to most horror fans. February is not only Women in Horror Month, it is also Black History Month, so it seemed the perfect time shine a spotlight on Pam.
Pam’s career started in the early 70s when she was cast by Jack Hill in two “women in prison” films. The 70s were the time of exploitation films, and the women in prison film was a sleazy and popular subgenre. These films lead to a long association with director Jack Hill and exploitation films, including two of her more famous early films, Coffy and Foxy Brown. It also lead to sharing the screen on multiple occasions with horror icon and all around great guy Sid Haig.
Pam Grier in Jackie Brown
Exploitation films of the era were controversial in about every way possible. The women in prison films were criticized for their portrayal of women and the violence against women. It’s hard to argue that the films generally presented women characters in a good light. However with Pam Grier, the genre found a strong woman, cable of going toe to toe with men and even headline her own films. With Coffy in 1973 Pan became the first African American, female lead in an action film.
More films in the blackspolitation genre followed, they were all controversial at the time for perpetuating black stereotypes. While a lot, if not all of that is true, it also gave rise, and jobs to many black actors and directors who otherwise might not have found jobs. Still the criticism almost certainly hurt and limited Pam’s career at the time. However today many look back more favorably on Pam’s early career. They see her as a strong female, willing to do what it takes, and fully able of kicking ass on her own.
It was also in 1973 that Pam made her horror debut in Scream Blacula Scream. This was a sequel to the popular film Blacula, and part of the genre that has been dubbed Blackspolitaion horror. While still displaying some unfortunate black and gay stereotypes, Blacula was listed by it’s lead William Marshall, and is considered one of the better films of the genre. In Scream Blacula Scream, the titular bloodsucker is revived and quickly falls in love with voodoo queen Pam Grier. I can’t say I blame him.. Blacula and it’s sequel have attained cult status, and Scream Blacula Scream put Pam squarely into the hearts of true horror fans.
Ms. Grier spends most of the rest of the 70s making exploitation films such as Foxy Brownand Friday Foster. In the 80s she delves again into the horror genre, with films like The Vindicator, (very) loosely based on the Frankenstein story, and an adaptation of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Exploitation cinema is rapidly winding down and Pam finds work in more mainstream film and television, including a recurring role on Miami Vice. Her roles, even though more mainstream, aren’t as high profile.
The 90s saw a major revival for Pam, with roles in genre favorites Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Mars Attacks, and John Carpenter’s Escape from LA. While none of them are strictly horror films, they put her back in front of horror fans. In 2001, she teamed with Carpenter again for Ghosts of Mars, a sci fi/horror re-imagining of his classic Assault on Precinct 13. That same year she also appeared in the urban horror film Bonesalongside rapper Snoop Dogg and a young Katharine Isabelle.
Pam Grier is still active today although she hasn’t appeared in a horror film since the early 2000s. She now holds two honorary PhDs and is still the strong beautiful woman her fans remember from the 70s. Those films – and Pam’s characters – may be controversial, but she was a role model for all women and for black women especially. Horror and exploitation films have a history of treating women with little or no respect. More often than not they are consigned as the victim, or just to provide sex appeal by appearing nude on film. While Pam did do her share of nude scenes, she was never the helpless victim. She fought back, against men and women, many times along. Foxy Brown, Coffy, and Friday Fosterwere strong women who did what they had to do to survive and to protect their loved ones. But Pam was more than just someone who played a strong character on screen. In real life she was just as strong.
In 1988 Pam was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer. She was reportedly given only 18 months to live, but like Coffy and Foxy, she didn’t give up. She fought and survived and is now cancer free. She credits eastern medicines, but how much had to simply be her will to fight on?
In 2011 she released a memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. In it Pam reveals that she was raped as a child of six years old and again at age 18. She was assaulted a third time but managed to fight off her attacker. From being victimized as a child, she rose to become the epitome of a strong woman on screen because Pam Grier was a strong woman in real life. She survived rape, she survived cancer, and her career survived the downfall of the blacksploitation film craze. I am proud to call myself a Pam Grier fan and honored to do this humble spotlight on her for Women in Horror Month.
Posted by Allen Alberson in TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH, 0 comments
WiHM: She Who Must Burn (2016)

WiHM: She Who Must Burn (2016)

It’s always a bit of a risk making a movie that deals with a hot button political issue. While traditionally horror films have a legacy of delving into social issues, they aren’t always as front and center as in She Who Must Burn. When they social issue is abortion, well, it doesn’t come much more controversial and risky.
She Who Must Burn, directed by Larry Kent stars Sarah Smyth, Shane Twerdun (who co-wrote the script) and Jewel Staite (Firefly). Smith is Angela, a worker at a local abortion clinic that has shut down after a doctor is murdered by a local religious leader. Angela stays behind in order to help local women and runs afoul of the leader’s cult-like followers.
There’s no escape for She Who Must Burn
Right off the bat I know a lot of people will complain that this treats right to life Christians in a bad light. Maybe it does, in the same way that The Hills Have Eyes presents children of incest in a bad light. You might even say that Hills is much more unfair to its subject, since abortion providers have been murdered in recent history, whereas stories of cannibalism by inbred families are pretty much unheard of.
So toss out any complaints about the film being unfair and lets just watch the movie. First, it’s beautifully filmed, scenes of the rural landscape look bleak but all too real. They remind you this is a film set in a different America, an America of rural, low income people struggling to survive and hold on to their way of life. It’s a film set among the forgotten people, those overlooked in our rush for social justice and progressive values. Growing up in rural Mississippi, that landscape is all to familiar. The visuals are what make this film work so well. It anchors some of the more exaggerated (hopefully) acts in a firm reality.
The acting is top notch, from Smyth, Twerdun, and especially Missy Cross, as the bat shit crazy sister of Twerdun’s character. Somehow she is able to go completely off the rails and still remain very real, very believable. The cast and director do a great job of making all the characters seem real people and not caricatures, or one dimensional representations of a belief. While Angela may be diametrically opposed to the local belief system, she never looks down on them and seems to actually care for them. She knowingly stays around in spite of the danger to her own life.
All the characters seem real, which adds a complexity that is important for a film like She Who Must Burn. It elevates it to a true film and not just a propaganda piece. That and it never makes a moral judgment on the actual act of abortion, nor on those who oppose abortion, just the ones who use violence to oppose it.
In fact, its social statement reaches much deeper than the abortion issue. It subtly but clearly points to how the powerful use belief and tradition to control people. We see the coal workers, sick, dirty, unable to afford health care. We are told the water is poisoned and the children are dying. But we don’t blame the corporations, we don’t blame pollution, we blame sin. We fight those trying to help us and follow those telling us what we want to hear, be they politicians or religious leaders.
She Who Must Burn
And the last 15-20 minutes of She Who Must Burn is absolutely brutal. It’s intense, violent, and bloody. It’s shocking, and that’s coming from a guy who loves shocking movies, and it’s utterly unrepentant. Even the villains of the movie seemed shocked at their actions. You know when the climatic final segment begins that it isn’t going to end well. It can’t end well, as a storm hits both literally and figuratively, a storm taken as a judgment from God, but really just a storm born of nature, alongside a storm born of human nature. The rain falls on the just and unjust, so does violence and death.
There’s no doubt She Who Must Burn is a good movie, hell it’s a great movie. But will you like it? That’s a different issue. If you are a firm believer in the right to life movement, you might think it’s painting your belief in an unfair light. Personally, I think it’s more an attack on those who use the movement for their own devices, and maybe how we let our belief systems blind us to actual human compassion. I’d like to think that if both sides of this film just sat down and talked, Angela and Jonathon they would have actually understood each other. Which is kind of like real life isn’t it? We had rather curse at each other, than talk to each other. Or maybe not. Maybe we are just as doomed as the people in She Who Must Burn.
Other than that, it’s a real dark, depressing, nihilistic film which may turn off a lot of people. It’s not your gory slasher film, with one liners and stupid teens. It’s a real dark, hopeless, horror movie with some extremely dark and gory scenes. This is a movie that will stay with you. It will bother you. I’m sure a lot of people might not agree, but it gets a five out of five stars from me.
Posted by Allen Alberson in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Incarnate (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Incarnate (2016)

Incarnate is a movie. I saw it. I’m tempted to end it here, but that wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Except maybe the people responsible for making Incarnate. Well, I should probably start with what I liked about the film. That’s fair, right? Well, then, for the good parts: It was dark, slick, with a compelling and visually pleasing female lead front and center. Wait, that’s not Incarnate! That’s my mother fucking diet Coke-filled Rogue One cup I got at the concession stand! And that’s the best thing about Incarnate.
Hello? Is this my agent? You’re fired!
Oh shit, bra, you being hard on that movie. Yes, I am. I would say I hated it but that’s such a small unassuming word. If Incarnate were a puppy, I would have it put down. I would record the process and post it to the Internet as a warning for other puppies. By now, you are probably wondering what brought on this attack of obvious hyperbole. There were many things. Many things which all amount to one base thing. The film was lazy, and it insults its audience.
Well, shit. I guess winter did come.
The plot as it were, a person (Aaron Eckhart) is able to enter the mind of possessed people. He does this to force the demon out. He heard about a kid possessed. The church comes knocking.
“U exorcise dat kid”
“No I not gonna exorcise dat kid”
“Y U no Exorcise dat kid?”
“Cause I haz sads for my dead family”
“Demon in dat kid killz your family”
“Ok I exorcise dat kid”
It’s all cliché. It’s all formula. Paint by numbers and to hell with Bob Ross.
Aaron Eckhart is trying his hardest to look and sound like Sean Bean. Seriously, the first time I saw him, after the opening they stole from Inception, I said, “Damn he looks just like Sean Bean. Shit that means hes gonna die”. Guess what happens ***spoiler alert*** he dies deader than Ned Stark. Seriously if the Sean Bean foreshadowing wasn’t enough, Incarnate goes out of its way, over and over and over to let you know he’s going to die. So all suspense about your main character is gone.
Incarnate sucks. Here’s a kitten.
But I decided to give it a chance. Knowing the ending of a movie doesn’t necessarily ruin it for me. I mean I knew Liberty Valance was gonna die, but I still loved that film. It’s in the damn title. So, onward.
I pride myself in not being an overly picky viewer. Hell, look at my reviews. But here is a little thing that bugged the shit out of me. Mostly because there was no reason for it. The little kid possessed by a demon is asked its name. It goes though this evil sounding litany, some of which – names and timeline – struck me odd, but oh well – until… “After the deluge, when the angels took human women, my name was Passion”.
Now, I am paraphrasing a little, maybe, but the key part, “after the deluge”… No. Seriously, no. What the fuck – no. Did you actually research this or just hear somewhere “Hey, dude, the bible says angels raped women”. Fucking lame ass shit; read a goddammed bible. The deluge, aka the flood, happened after the angels came upon human women and children were born to them. In the Apocrypha, Book of Jubilees, I think, it’s even stated that the deluge was caused specifically to cleanse the earth of this ungodly offspring.
Now you are possibly saying “That’s such a small thing. Is it really important?” It’s important because it works just as well if you say it right. “Before the deluge”. But the writers are either to lazy to research at all, to dumb to understand, or just don’t give a shit because they think fans wont notice. Well, I noticed and as much as I tried to ignore it, I was bothered during the entire film. Did I mishear it? Maybe they meant this. It bothered me. On its own, that would have been a small itch, an annoyance, but it’s part of a whole.
Nit pick number two. The hero has to go into a dimension inside the child’s mind to evict the demon. He wont use the word exorcise because he hates the church. GRRRR church. Sean Bean, Aaron Eckhart hates you. Well, in this dimension, we are told over and over that time stands still. Yet you have to get out in eight minutes or you die, or something. But……if time stands still it doesn’t matter how long you are inside. Time stopped, remember? Yet we have the faux suspense of seeing clocks and counters, and people rushing and, chill out, he got forever, time be standing still, y’all.
The film ends with what seems like fifteen solid minutes of fake out after fake out, and each false ending you know is a fake out, you know it’s a “twist”, and you know what’s coming next. Every fucking twist is telegraphed or just so obvious that you feel like you must have stolen a copy of the script.
So what do we have? Predictable and utterly preposterous plot (lifted from Inception), lazy writers, over dramatic acting, CGI eyes on the demons, and no scares at all. Not a single fucking jump or even twitch in the whole film. Incarnate is boring, and manages to be both confusing and predictable at the same time. The characters do completely illogical, irresponsible, and ignorant things for no reason.

Incarnate Works on the Theory That Horror Fans Are Dumb and Will Watch Anything

I felt insulted as a viewer and as a fan of horror films. I feel dirty for paying money to see this. Please give me my money back. I feel like I gave my PayPal password to a Russian porn bot, and she laughed at me online. I knew this movie wouldn’t be good. Knew that going in. It had the look of suck. But I convinced myself it go. And I did want to get one of those sweet Rogue One cups. But I didn’t expect to hate it this much. At least I got my cup, and it is sweet.
Incarnate stars Aaron Eckhart (Batman: The Dark Knight), David Mazouz (Gotham), Clarice van Houten, and some other people. Brad Peyton (San Andreas) directed. See it at your own risk.
1 dimly burning Christmas star out of 10
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
Haley Jay Madison: Scream Queen Spotlight

Haley Jay Madison: Scream Queen Spotlight

If you are a fan of the independent horror scene, you have probably already heard of Haley Jay Madison. The up and coming actress has been paying her dues in Indy horror over the last several years, and in 2015 she was named After Dark Films’ Screen Queen to Die for. She’s a busy actress, but she took the time to do an interview by email with us here at House of Tortured Souls. We are honored to get the chance to chat with Haley Jay Madison, and hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. Thanks, Haley!
House of Tortured Souls: How old were you when you decided to be an actress?
Haley Jay Madison: I had not really planned on being an actress until it actually fell in my lap. I was 19 at the time, so I guess that would be the age at which I decided to be an actress. I was told a lot growing up that I could model and that I had a spark, but I never saw it until I started making movies. I found my spark by happenstance, and I’m really glad I was given all the opportunities that allowed me to get where I am!
Haley Jay loves it bloody
HoTS: How did you first get involved with acting?
HJM: Like I previously mentioned, I stumbled across acting by coincidence when I was 19. I decided to get a tattoo from a mutual friend of mine and he asked me if I wanted to be in his movie. I ended up starring in and producing a feature film with him. I came to find out I had a natural talent for acting and filmmaking. After that I started going to horror conventions and my career ballooned from there!
HoTS: What drew you to the horror genre versus other types of film?
HJM: I’ve always had an affinity for scary movies, and after making one I discovered all the fun involved with the process. Once I started going to conventions, meeting people and making friends, I knew the community was unlike any other. I fell in love with the genre because I fell in love with the filmmakers, actors, and fans of horror films. I couldn’t be more lucky to have met and worked with the people I have in recent years and on movie sets.
HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster or subgenre, aka zombie, vampire, slasher, etc?
HJM: I don’t discriminate against any subgenre, so I love zombie movies as much as vampire movies, I’ve played a werewolf character before so I have a soft spot for those kind of movies. I love a good slasher, too, an iconic evil character and gory kills make for the best kind. I will say a good horror comedy can really make my day. I have yet to play a vampire or zombie, so I hope someday I can add those to my resume and grow more appreciation for the characters.
HoTS: You mentioned conventions. Any favorites or memorable convention experiences?
HJM: I love horror conventions! They are some of my biggest highlights of the year. I go to Horrorhound, Days of the Dead, and Cinema Wasteland all throughout the year. My favorite memories fom conventions are when movies I am involved in are screened. It’s always an amazing experience to see my projects revealed to the world and to watch an audience react to something I worked so hard on. Eat It Up, Headless, CarousHELL, and Hunters have all been screened at conventions. Other than the screenings, I love all the people I get to meet, and the fans are the best people. Seeing how others support me and stay interested in my work is a very memorable experience.
HoTS: Where can we see your work? Are your films available on DVD? VoD?
HJM: I have movies available all over the place, for VoD and DVD. I personally have copies of Haunted House on Sorority Row, Scarewaves, Headless, and Babysitter Massacre and am selling them via Paypal. I take orders through social media and email. There is also Hunters through Massacre Video, CarousHell from its own website, Kill That Bitch from Dustin Mills Productions, Chopping Block through Amazon.com. Eat It Up and Onlooker are available to stream on Vimeo.com.
HoTS: Do you have a fan page, Twitter, or Instagram where your fans can connect with you?
HJM: I mainly use my Facebook and Instagram for both personal and professional use. I prefer to use Instagam for posting and updates and Facebook for personal communication. You can look for me as@haleyjayhorror or just my name Haley Jay Madison. I prefer to deal with bookings and work through my email address: haleyjayhorror@gmail.com
HoTS: Are you working on anything right now?
HJM: I don’t have any projects in motion right now, but my gears are always winding and I’m always on the lookout for more work. I’m currently waiting on a ton of projects to finish with post-production and be released. I am so excited for what the future brings and when I get to see all the films I have helped make in the past couple years. Since I have nothing major booked, I’ve been trying to concentrate more on modeling and photography.
Haley Jay Madison
HoTS: What’re your pastimes outside of acting/filmmaking?
HJM: I do have a few hobbies outside of filmmaking like getting crafty, cooking, and watching movies of course! In the past few weeks, I’ve done my fair share of sewing after receiving a piece of clothing that was awesome but way too big! I sewed the image onto a sweatshirt that fit and added a few patches and pins. I also have been playing around with baking and cooking, with Thanksgiving coming and going. I try and watch as many movies as I can, and Hulu has been a new outlet for me to find some new flicks. My most recent viewing was The Voices with Ryan Reynolds and let me tell you, it was a good watch!
HoTS: Besides acting, you’re also a producer. Do you want to direct someday or do you prefer being in front of the camera?
HJM: Ever since I got into this business, I have had my eye on directing. I would love to make a film with a powerful female lead and plenty of effects make up. I still think I have a lot to learn before I go behind the camera and acting gives me a lot of knowledge on how to make the movies the right and wrong way. I do wish to make my own feature someday, but for now I’m happy just being involved in the independent horror industry!
I want to thank Haley Jay Madison for taking the time to chat with us. Make sure you check her out on Instagram, and watch some of her movies whether on Amazon, Hulu or DVD. We will be following her career and wishing her all the best! Expect to hear more from this rising star of the Indy scene.
Posted by Allen Alberson in Categories, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Neighbor (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Neighbor (2016)

By Dixielord
The Neighbor is the new home invasion horror movie from director Marcus Dunstan. Dunstan is best know for The Collector and its sequel The Collection. The Neighbor stars Josh Stewart (The Collector), Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) and Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy Tour). Yes that’s right. Bill Engvall, Mr “Here’s your sign” is starring in a horror film. Now even if you aren’t particularly a fan of The Collector series, that should be enough to pique your interest in The Neighbor.
Bill Engvall is The Neighbor / Fair use doctrine.
Josh Stewart plays John who along with his girlfriend Rosie (Alex Essoe) works for his shady crime lord uncle, switching license plates on (apparently) drug running cars. It’s never explained exactly what they do, but it’s illegal and beyond that, unimportant to the story. Their separative neighbor Troy (Bill Engvall) also appears to have a secret he’s of which he is very protective. When Rosie goes missing, John sneaks into Troy’s house and discovers what he is trying to hide.
Set in rural Mississippi, The Neighbor puts everyone under suspicion early on, showing just how sketchy and shady each is. Being born and raised in rural Mississippi, I can pretty much confirm this. No one in the film is particularly innocent, but John is probably the most sympathetic. He’s a military vet come home and given a job in his uncle’s illegal enterprise. You get the feeling he isn’t happy, and he and Rosie are making plans to escape to Mexico.
The first part of the film moves along a little slow, and is uneventful other than setting up the last half of the film. The last half is where The Neighbor shines. It borrows from other home invasion style horrors with hidden tunnels and cages (but without the traps that were the signature portion of the killer’s work in The Collector series). But it varies from most home invasion films, and most horror films in general, in that the protagonists and antagonists are fairly evenly matched. The conflict between Engvall and Stewart is less cat-and-mouse than two wily foxes battling.
The final fifteen minutes or so is a symphony of glorious violence. It gets brutal when it needs to get brutal. No gimmicky walking away from a fallen victim, it’s combat to the death. Guns, knives, camera tripods, and even a telescope become weapons in the fight. When the final battle condenses down to villains and victims, there are no wilting flowers, just fighters. It’s not as gory as The Collector, The Collection, or the Sawseries of films but it is brutal. Have I said that already? It’s brutal. Watching Alex Essoe go apeshit was wonderful fun. It all ends with an ambiguous ending that a lot of viewers might not catch, but it left me with chills. Also be on the lookout for what I can only assume is a homage to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Alex Essoe spies on The Neighbor / Fair use doctrine.
All and all I really enjoyed The Neighbor. It’s another solid and bloody success for director Dunstan. I enjoyed it enough to give it a 8 out of 10. Check it out on DVD now.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: Why Aren’t We Watching The Exorcist?

EDITORIAL: Why Aren’t We Watching The Exorcist?

By Dixielord
We’re all friends here right? I don’t want to make assumptions but we have built up some small amount of trust haven’t we? Sure maybe I’m a little too generous on some films, but overall I try to steer ya right. So, anyway, I think, and hope, I’m not too far out of line in wanting to ask you this.. I just feel I need to ask, and I hope you aren’t offended, but, why the fuck aren’t you watching The Exorcist?
The Exorcist movie poster / Image: FOX TV and The Exorcist. Fair use doctrine.
I know, I know. I grimaced and groaned when I first heard about the movie being plundered for a TV series. With the critical success of Hannibal, and the commercial success of The Walking Dead, television has been looking for any and every horror property to look for a series. Some, like The Omen are stillborn (too far to stretch for a pun?), but honestly, quite a few have been good to great (Bates Motel, Ash vs Evil Dead). So why are people so reluctant to give The Exorcist a chance? Honestly, I don’t know. TV, at least recently, has as good as or a better, record of “remaking” horror properties than the big screen. But we are letting The Exorcist die, and I’m saying “we” because it took four episodes in before I decided to give it a chance.
Geena Davis and Alfonso Herrera from The Exorcist / Image: FOX TV and The Exorcist. Fair use doctrine.

I wasn’t willing to give The Exorcist a shot at first

Luckily I have a hand full of friends whom I really trust with movie and TV suggestions. Now I don’t always agree, but I agree often enough that I respect them and usually follow those suggestions. So I gave The Exorcist a try.
I loved it. I watched the first four episodes twice to let it soak in. No joke. I’m still watching. It gets better each episode and it doesn’t pull any punches. It’s bloody and gory, maybe not to the extremes of Hannibal but it doesn’t shirk from wetworks. It also doesn’t back away from our main character, played by Hannah Kasulka committing murder while under demonic possession. This folks is real horror. The best true horror on television right now. It’s good a good story, great acting and some very cool effects. It pays great homage to the Blair possession make up and effects without carbon copying them. What I’m trying to say is, it’s really good.
So why aren’t “we” as a horror community watching? It has a killer (overused pun) cast including Kasulka, Geena Davis, Ben Daniels, Alfonso Herrara, Alan Ruck, and Sharon Gless. I’m trying not to give out any spoilers, but the series ties in directly to the original movie. Forget all the mediocre sequels (other than Legion) this is, in fact (possible spoiler), a direct sequel to the classic film starring Linda Blair. Including a flash back type sequence, and “news reel” footage of the after effects of the original film. I should also give a shout out to Sophie Thatcher who plays a young Regan. She does a great job of bridging the gap between Blair and …. I’m not telling you that part. You need to watch. You really need to watch.
Seriously, you need to watch. The ratings, honestly, suck. The fact the show is on FOX isn’t comforting, either. With their history, we cant count on them to give the series two or three seasons to build an audience. And we shouldn’t get too pissed at them if they cancel The Exorcist. We are the ones who aren’t watching, who aren’t supporting it. Now if you are watching, ignore this, keep up the good work. If you tried it and didn’t like it, well to each their own, at least you gave it a shot. It wouldn’t hurt to give it another shot, watch a few more episodes, but I won’t harangue you about it.
But for those who refuse to give it a chance… for those who never gave Hannibala chance, what the fuck, man? Horror fans, nerd fans, we got it good right now. Let’s not lose another great show because we couldn’t even bother to give it a fucking look. We couldn’t invest the time to check out four episodes or so. The Exorcist is worth at least that much effort. It will die without our support. If not this season, then next. I don’t know what the creator’s long term goal is, but I want to see it run its natural course and not end prematurely.
You can catch new episodes of The Exorcist Friday Nights on Fox with past episodes available on Demand.
Posted by Allen Alberson in EDITORIALS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Found Footage 3D (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Found Footage 3D (2016)

By Dixielord
I don’t make a secret that I’m not a fan of the found footage subgenre. In fact lately I have pretty much came to hate it. There aren’t many found footage films I enjoy, among those few, the spectacular *Rec (and it’s first sequel), the original Blair Witch Project, and, to lesser degrees Cloverfield and Quarantine (the American remake of *Rec). However most of the films, especially lately are just gimmicks, and found footage is a cheap way for “filmmakers” to churn out a quickie horror film. Many times recently I have wished the genre would just go away.
The synopsis of Found Footage 3D is that a group of friends and associates set out to make the world’s first 3-D found footage film. It is of course a horror movie, and the old farm they choose to shoot at is, naturally, reported to be haunted. While personal demons threaten to tear the crew apart, they are also stalked by something more sinister, something supernatural.
So I feel kind of strange writing a positive review for a found footage film, but that’s what I’m in the process of doing. The movie is Found Footage 3D. Which makes it a double whopper since I’m not really into the 3-D craze and its inflated prices. Another gimmick. So I sat down to watch this not really expecting much. Even though the found footage concept started to annoy me early on, I found myself laughing at the jokes, and getting into the story. Seeing it on a small screen at a festival I really can’t comment on the 3-D other than, once again, I started laughing at the comedic references to them.
Found Footage 3D takes the Scream approach of exploring the rules of horror. Fittingly enough it’s the rules of Found Footage horror. Hearing the characters explain and complain about the same points in found footage that I hate and find annoying drew me in. I found myself laughing (at the right times) over and over.
Fans are screaming for Found Footage 3D
Now with all this laughing someone is surely saying “Wasn’t this supposed to be a horror film?” Well it is, it’s just a horror punctuated with some well placed humor. The first half of the movie is pretty bare on horror elements, but the last 15-20 minutes is a hyper bloodbath of slaughter. I was lured into the slow, relaxed pace and when it went bad it took me by surprise. It happens fast folks, and it’s pretty bloody. At least three people in the row behind me screamed at the final scene. I deny screaming, but I did jump even though I knew what was coming. Mini spoiler it’s similar to the ending of Paranormal Activity but more effective.
But it’s not a perfect film (here he goes). It’s still a found footage film, and the same things that annoy me in found footage films, annoyed me in Found Footage 3D. The shaky cam, the always on camera, and basically knowing the outcome the moment you realize it’s found footage. Still the fact the crew was self aware, to some extent alleviated these issues. I also had hard time following the plot of the film they were shooting and exactly how it related to the film I was watching. And the ending, as mentioned, I saw it was coming, it was telegraphed pretty well in advance, but hey it still worked for me.
The acting was better than in most found footage movies, special shout out to Scott Allen Perry who seemed at times to be channeling Zack Gallafanakis, but in comedic timing and beardness. Also shout out to Alena Von Stroheim who was drop dead gorgeous and portrayed a sympathetic and likeable victim and possible antagonist. And, lastly, one of the funniest scenes of the film involved John Daws and Doran Ingram as the “old timers”.
So while I don’t like found footage films, and the subgenre still annoys me, I cant deny that I really enjoyed this film. The laughs (and jumps) speak for themselves. It’s not your typical low budget excuse to for a real movie by picking a cheap subgenre. It’s an attempt to make a good movie with a much maligned (rightfully so IMO) subgenre, and it’s a successful attempt.
These guys….Found Footage 3D
I’m going to give it a 7 out of 10 for rising above the found footage subgenre, but still keeping some of its annoying peculiarities. Found Footage 3D was directed and written by Steven DeGennaro. It stars Alena Von Stroheim and Carter Roy.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: House of Manson (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: House of Manson (2014)

By Dixielord
The story of Charlie Manson and America’s most dysfunctional family is one with which most of America is familiar. With documentaries, pseudo documentaries, feature films, and interviews, it is well trod subject matter. For me, the gold standard has always been the 1976 television film Helter Skelter. Likewise every Charlie since then, even the real Charlie Manson, is measured against the performance of Steve Railsback. Now we have a new movie dealing with the Manson family and the Tate-Labianca murders. Brandon Slagle’s House of Manson goes back to the beginning, and chronicles Manson’s rise from rock star wannabe to murderer.
House of Manson poster
Photo credit Micro Bay Features and House of Manson
House of Manson, told mostly in flashbacks, introduces us to Charlie (Ryan Kiser) in jail awaiting trial for the Tate-Labianca murders. Under questioning from his lawyers, we see what lead him to this point. Kiser is one of the best things about House of Manson. He plays Charlie as a charismatic, likable young drifter. Yet we see touches, glimmers of his anger and insanity slip through every now and then. It’s a different, more mellow Manson than the one familiar to us, but it makes it easier to believe he could become a leader – a leader that people would commit murder to please. He’s far from the hectic, erratic real life Manson we have come to know from interviews and TV specials.
Because it deals with the early days long before the murders, the first part of the film moves at a slow pace, but it never gets boring. Kiser’s charm and smile draws you in just like Manson drew in his followers in the late 60s. The slow pacing is a deadly trap, though, because when we get to the murders, it gets brutal really fast.
Things do get mean in House of Manson
Photo credit House of Manson
Slagle manages to make the murders brutal and horrific while limiting what we actually see. It’s not a gory, graphic blood-fest, and it’s more effective because of that. It’s not easy to watch the murders, especially the stabbing death of pregnant Sharon Tate (Suzi Lorraine). For those who think gore is disturbing, watch the frenetic stabbing death of Tate as she begs for her life. This is disturbing – all the more so because it happened. The murders play out very close to the actual events, as told by witnesses, and crime reports.
This could have easily been a exploitative, gratuitous look at the Manson crimes. Kudos to Slagle for holding back, for taking a less sleazy, more serious look at Manson’s life and crimes. The lack of gore will possibly be a turn off to horror fans, but it shouldn’t. Some may even argue that House of Manson isn’t a horror film. I disagree. The story of Charlie Manson is a horror story. It’s no less a horror film than Silence of the Lambs just because it’s not fiction. Kiser’s performance and Slagle’s direction make it all the more horrific because it feels real. This Manson could be someone we all know. He could be real. He could be our friend. That’s scary.
House of Manson is directed by Brandon Slagle, and along with Kiser and Lorraine, stars Tristan Risk as Abigail Folger, Reid Warner as Tex Watson, Erin Marie Hogan as Linda Kasabian, and Devanny Pinn as Susan Atkins. House of Manson is available on Video on Demand now.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 10)

Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 10)

October is the perfect month for watching horror movies. In fact it’s the month when a horror nerd can almost feel “normal”, as millions of people temporarily become horror fans. But hey, horror has always been welcoming, and I;m not knocking anyone who gets into the Halloween spirit. Horror is a big blanket and and we can all hide under it during the scary scenes. So for a whole month of spookiness, how could I only suggest five films to watch? So I asked and begged if I could do a second “five horror films to watch in October”.

After asking, of course I had problems picking out the five films. The problem being picking five out of all the great possible Halloween viewing. However after deep thought, head scratching, and perusing my personal collection, I picked my next five. In my first five I set rules for my selection. No zombies, no serial killers and it had to be supernatural. Which I kind of broke the last rule with The Wicker Man. Fuck the rules tho, amirite? So no rules on this one, other than I like the film and think it would be a fum Halloween watch. While I wouldn’t call the list “family friendly” I did shy away from any extremely gory or disturbing films. As always make your own decision on your family’s viewing, and hope you enjoy the list!

1.Event Horizon
Event Horizon is probably the best example of horror and sci fi crossing over near seamlessly. It stars Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neil and is the story of a rescue crew sent out to investigate the reemergence of the interstellar ship Event Horizon. Event Horizon has rightfully been called a haunted house story set in space, which is why I’m making it a must see during the Halloween season. I’ve also argued it could almost be set in the Hellraiser Universe as it deals with self mutilation and inter-dimensional travel to “hell”. It’s also the goriest film on this list

Event Horison

Event horizon

2.Psycho
Way back in 1960 the horror world was introduced to Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) by director Alfred Hitchcock. The film was groundbreaking in the horror genre, featuring what was assumed to be the main star being killed early in the film. It was also responsible for, or helped define horror tropes such as the “slasher” and the “scream queen”. Not only that it made people afraid to use motel showers.
So far Psycho has spawned three sequels, a remake, a TV pilot (Bates Motel) in 1987, and an ongoing series (Bates Motel, not connected with the 1987 pilot) on A and E Network. While it doesn’t have a supernatural element, it is a horror classic, and perfect for October viewing.

3.Tombs of the Blind Dead
Amando Ossorio’s 1972 Spanish horror film was my first introduction to the Knights Templar. Since then I have, luckily discovered more about the legendary Templars, but this movie still holds a special place in my black heart, and it can still give me chills. In real life the Templars were accused of witchcraft, arrested, and executed, Tombs of the Blind Dead takes it further. In the film the Templars, guilty of human sacrifice and turning their backs on god, have returned from the dead. Since ravens pecked out their eyes while they hung from the gibbet, they are now blind and hunt by sound. It’s a great gimmick, and twist on the still new zombie genre and provides some incredibly tense moments. Tombs of the Blind Dead is an old film and at first might not seem to hold up well. However pop it in the DVD player (or VCR) late Halloween night, turn off the lights, grab a blanket, and I bet it will still give you a chill or two. It’s OK, blame it on the cool October air, I wont tell.

4. The Witchfinder General
The legendary Vincent Price enters the list with Witchfinder General. Honestly Vincent could have had five movies on this list, and probably five in my last list. However, in trying to spread the love I decided to pick one, and I picked Witchfinder General. One because this is a list for the Halloween season and witches play such an important part in Halloween, so why not a film about the persecution of witches? Witchfinder General, also known as The Conqueror Worm, showcases Price at his most nasty. For those who only remember him from more lighthearted roles, or as sympathetic characters, this may be a shock, but it’s still a must see. The film is very, very loosely based on the real life story of Matthew Hopkins, the self appointed Witchfinder General of East Anglia during the English civil war.
The gruesome and disturbing content led to critical panning, even while it was a box office success. Over the years, opinions have changed and many critics now consider it a classic. It has always been one of my favorite film from Price, but it still manages to disturb me. It’s the perfect film for a dark, cool, October night.

5.  Last Shift
I really had a hard time picking recent films for these lists. Not that there haven’t been recent horror films that I enjoyed, it’s just none seemed right for this list. Then I re-watched 2014’s Last Shift by director Anthony Diblasi. The film is set, appropriately on the during the last shift at a police station on the last night before it is shut down. A rookie officer is assigned to work the last shift, and comes face to face with supernatural forces. The time of year is never specified (That I noticed) but damn if it doesn’t feel like it’s Halloween. Think of it as a twist on Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, but with the assault coming from within and being supernatural. Throughout the film we come face to face with ghost, re-animated cultists and a the spookiest homeless person since Alice Cooper in Prince of Darkness. The end leaves you wondering just how much of what we seen was real, and what was in the protagonist’s mind. Last Shift is perfect for Halloween viewing, just expect to have a few nightmares after watching it.

Last Shift,

Last Shift

So that’s my second five for October. Hope you get some ideas and enjoy some horror this Halloween.

Posted by Allen Alberson in Categories, HALLOWEEN, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
HoTS LIVE welcomes Jason Vail

HoTS LIVE welcomes Jason Vail

What’s up? House of Tortured Souls LIVE is back with a new episode. This week HoTS live has a special pre-recorded interview with actor Jason Vail. Jason is one of the stars of the new award winning indie horror film Family Possessions. Jason will also be starring in the upcoming Hunting Grounds (formerly Valley of the Sasquatch), as well as Dollface (formerly Dorchester’s Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head) by Family Possessions director Tommy Faircloth. He can currently also be seen in Boo! A Madea Halloween.

Jason will talk about his films roles past, present and upcoming. He will also talk about what it’s like to work with director Tommy Faircloth, being a full time actor and more. The interview was recorded two weeks ago, but due to unforeseen circumstances we were just able to get the whole show published. Thus this was before Family Possessions won best overall feature at Nightmares Film Festival. Congrats to Jason, Tommy and Leah Wiseman and everyone else involved.

Jason Vail in Valley of the Sasquatch aka Hunting Grounds

Jason Vail in Valley of the Sasquatch aka Hunting Grounds

But before we get to Jason, your hosts Lord Dixie (Allen) and John discuss their own take on horror. Included talk about the Walking Dead Season premiere, was it a home run or foul ball? They also talk a little about the Madea Halloween special, Chinese finger traps, Spooky Empire, Cher and other insanity

 

Posted by Allen Alberson in Podcast, 0 comments
Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 3)

Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 3)

Part of the House of Tortured Souls
Staff Pick October 2016

By Dixielord

Halloween is upon us. Halloween a time of trick or treats, bright costumes, women dressed in sexy attire and of course, The Great Pumpkin. But Halloween is an ancient celebration, and it wasn’t always so happy and cheerful. Halloween was the harvest festival. Leaves were falling, plants dying, the days were getting shorter and the nights longer. And there was something lurking in those nights. Death. As winter approached, so did hardships, cold, lack of food and always on the periphery, death waited for the weak.

Halloween was a time when the veil between living and dead was particularly weak. A time when the people appeased the spirits, or tricked them, in order to hopefully survive the coming winter. Winters no longer hold the same dread as they once did, thus Halloween has lost some of its power. But we still celebrate, and when the air first starts to chill, sometimes, we can feel a little of that old fear that’s imprinted in our souls.

So when I was asked to pick my five favorite films for Halloween viewing, I wanted my list to reflect those old fears. I wanted movies that held some fear, movies of the supernatural. Also I wanted movies that “felt” like Halloween, or at least the fall and encroaching winter. So I made some rules, for one, no zombies. Zombies, as we think of them now, are a modern creation, and honestly they aren’t very scary anymore. So sorry Walking Dead and/or Romero fans, no zombies. No slashers. Slashers for the most part aren’t supernatural or at least didn’t start that way, and again, they aren’t that scary. Rule three, I wanted films that were scary and supernatural. No comedies or serial killers (see the last rule). So, with that in mind, I bring you my picks for Halloween viewing.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Long before Paranormal Activity there was a movie about a supernatural investigation that was actually scary. That movie, The Legend of Hell House, is hands down the best haunted house movie of all time. It’s a movie that has stood the test of time and, over 40 years later, it is still scary, creepy and a perfect movie for the Halloween season. The movie, based on the book Hell House by Richard Mattheson, revolves around four investigators paid to investigate the possibility of life after death. To do this they prepare to stay a week in the Belasco House, reputed to be the most haunted place on earth and referred to as Hell House. The house is indeed haunted and doesn’t take well to the interlopers.

What you don’t see is more frightening than what you do see in Hell House. There are no rotting demonic figures or floating CGI ghosts. But unlike Paranormal Activity, it isn’t an hour of nothing but the occasional moving chair and table. There’s real horror in Hell House, and we see that through the reactions of the cast. No silly CGI, no jump scares, just a creepy vibe, excellent acting, and disconcerting sound effects. That’s what makes it such a great film for Halloween. There’s a real sense of menace and doom throughout the movie. This isn’t a tongue in cheek, laugh at itself movie. This is a horror movie, and you can almost feel that it’s set in the Halloween season. The Legend of Hell House stars the legendary Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes), Pamela Franklin, Clive Revill, and Gayle Hunnicutt and was directed by John Hough (Twins of Evil).

The Wolf Man (1941)

With my second pick we go back to the Universal Classics and The Wolf Man. Long before vampires sparkled and werewolves were emo boy toys, there was Larry Talbot and his wolf. The moonlit, mist shrouded English moors are the perfect setting for a Halloween movie. And if you remember the poem, the werewolf transformed not under the full moon, but under the autumn moon. “Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf, when the wolfs-bane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.”

The Wolf Man may seem dated in a lot of ways, and, hey, it was only released in 1941. But watching it today, late at night, alone, with the lights low, that howl can still send a chill down your spine. The Wolf Man starred Claude Raines, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi and the legendary Lon Chaney Jr.

The Wicker Man (1973)

Okay, so there’s no actual supernatural element in Robin Hardy’s classic horror tale, but it still is a must see for Halloween viewing. The film stars Edward Woodward as Sgt. Howie, a stern, yet devout police officer and Christian. He answers a call for assistance to a small Island off the coast of Britain. There his investigation leads to paganism, murder and ritual sacrifice. It also stars the legendary Christopher Lee in a role he has called one of his favorites.

The Wicker man Bees, fair use polciy

Not the remake, Oh God, not the remake.

So why is this a film for Halloween? Especially since I mentioned wanted films dealing with the supernatural. Well for starters, The Wicker Man is all about the old traditions – sacrificing in hopes for a bountiful harvest. The movie is set on (and just before) May Day but you have a similar feel to harvest festivals and their traditional trappings. The biggest difference being May Day is more focused on rebirth where Harvest is on death. Plus the location, off the coast of Britain is very near where Halloween is thought to have originated. The end of the film is what horror movies should be, unrepentant, disturbing and brutal.

The Lords of Salem (2012)

Okay, time to send hate mail to Dixie. I’m not going to sit here and try and convince you this is a great movie. I wont even go so far as to say it’s Rob Zombie’s best movie. However, it is Rob’s best film for the Halloween season. While I don’t hate his take on the classic Halloween, his movie has little to do with the season other than surface trappings like masks and pumpkins. To me it never had a Halloween or even an autumn feel. Lords of Salem has that feel. Watching it I can almost feel the chill in the air.

The more I watch Lords of Salem the more I find I like it. Yes, it’s slow and the plot can be confusing, but Rob tends to pay more attention to style and visual than to plot. Just listen to the eerie and unsettling musical score. It puts you into a state of unease early on and never lets you off till the ending crescendo. Plus it’s about witches and witchcraft, with goats and weird creatures and nightmares and murder. It’s Halloween for Gods sake.

Okay, yeah, just post your hate mail in the comments.

The Witch (2015)

I really had a hard time with the fifth choice. So many movies over so many years, so many choices before I finally settled on The Witch. It’s the most recent film on my list, and possibly the second most controversial. It’s a super slow burn, but really so is every film on my list with the possible exception of the The Wolf Man.

Black Phillip from The Witch Fair Use Policyh

Black Phillip from The Witch

Set somewhere in New England in Puritan times, The Witch details one family’s fight against the forces of Satan. Or possibly insanity. The Witch definitely wont be for everyone with it’s pace and at times almost indecipherable Puritan dialect. But it’s a great film for adults on Halloween. The true star of the show, the goat Black Phillip, is near iconic already, and let’s not even talk about those creepy ass kids. Like the other selections The Witch unsettles the viewers from the first images on the screen, and never lets up, even when the pace seems plodding.

So that’s it. My list of five films for Halloween viewing. I hope you like them, or at least give them a chance.

Posted by Allen Alberson in STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Plank Face (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Plank Face (2016)

By Dixielord

Plank Face is the story of Max (Nathan Barrett), a seemingly normal guy with a dark past. While out camping with his girlfriend Stacy (Ellie Church), he kills a rapist and is then captured by a feral family. He is tortured and sexually abused by the clan as they prepare him to be their new leader and provider. Forced to wear the wooden “plank face” of their dying leader, Max is given the choice to abandon his old life or die. And it’s a choice that maybe isn’t as hard to make as it seems.

Plank Face movie scene fair use doctrine

Plank Face

Bandit Motion Pictures has quickly gained a reputation for putting out original films. They also have the rep of making films that twist the normal horror tropes. That rep won’t take a hit with Plank Face. It’s a lot bloodier than their previous film Harvest Lake, which wasn’t a shocker considering the story. However, I was a bit shocked to find it’s a much more sexual film than Harvest Lake. Or at least the sex reaches out and grabs you harder than Harvest Lake.

Director Shirmer has never shied away from non traditional, uncomfortable and even transgressive sex in his films. Plank Face takes it to another plane. In a time and culture where the presence of rape in films is becoming more controversial, he takes rape and twists it, showcasing female on male rape. In doing so he twists the normal horror trope of the female captured for breeding on its head. Max is no damsel in distress, captured to bear young. He’s a strong violent man with bloody tendencies, captured to sire a new generation of cannibals. That, in itself, is a fresh twist on the normal inbreed hillbilly horror.

There’s very little dialogue in Plank Face other than grunts, and the cannibals’ twisted version of English. We learn whats up with the cannibals in much the same way as Max, by reading their gestures and body language. Not having everything spelled out or explained might seem annoying but it adds to the immersion, and by the end you find yourself understanding more and more of the feral words. Which isn’t always comfortable.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say, it’s not what you usually expect. You will probably see the final “confrontation” coming from early on, but it’s still shocking and bloody. Plank Face is a film that will please the fans of Bandit Motion Pictures, and it stands as a good example of an American cannibal movie. While it might not have been as good as Bone Tomahawk, I enjoyed it much more than the over hyped and much bigger budgeted The Green Inferno.

It’s not a perfect film, but very few, if any, are. There are small things I didn’t like, or didn’t seem to work as well, but they were small and I think most can be contributed to budget concerns. While the acting of the leads was effective, especially considering the lack of dialogue (and clothes). Some of the extras came off as forced. But those scenes were a momentary distraction and wont hurt Plank Face overall. It’s all compensated for by the main cast, performing with little speech, sometimes with their faces covered, really forcing them to act, and Plank Face is a film that forces them to act. With all it’s gore, sex, violence and nudity there is still a story to convey.

While Plank Face will please a lot of fans, it’s not a movie for everyone. It’s got tons of nudity, full frontal, female and male (ripping another common horror gimmick of only having female nudity). There are multiple scenes of rape, male on female and female on male, as well as scenes of consensual sex (not considering it as a result of Stockholm Syndrome, which I think some scenes could be blamed on SS, others not, but I won’t go into reasons here. Comment if you want to discuss it). Plank Face also features explicit scenes of violence, gore, and cannibalism. People who can’t handle these images should stay far away. Especially those unable to deal with the depiction of sexual violence.

Plank Face / Screenshot / Fair use doctrine.

Plank Face brings home the bacon

Overall, Plank Face is another success for Bandit Motion Pictures. At first watch I wasn’t sure if I liked it more than Harvest Lake but it’s growing on me with every viewing. It’s growing on me between viewings. It’s a movie that merits multiple watches. It’s an original and visceral take on the cannibal family and the legacy of Sawney Bean. Check it out if you have the balls (that will be funny after you watch it)

Plank Face is directed by Scott Schrimer, written by Schrimer and Brian Williams. It stars Nathan Barrett as Max/Plank Face, Ellie Church as Stacey, Susan Martin as Granny, Brigid McCauley as The Bride, Jason Hignite as Old Daddy, and Alyss Winkler as The Bunny Girl.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments