Michelle MIDI Sayles

Drew Barrymore with General from Cat's Eye Drew Barrymore has spent her life in front of the camera in a variety of roles but is especially known with genre fans in recent times for her portrayal of Sheila Hammond in two series the Netflix show The Santa Clarita Diet.

Barrymore’s first role was uncredited in a made for television movie Suddenly, Love in 1978 (when she was merely two years old and played a baby boy named Bobby).

Drew BarrymoreIt wouldn’t be until two more years late, in 1980, that Drew would play Margaret Jessup in Altered States, which was also the debut film for William Hurt. Altered States reflected a disturbingly surreal element of humanity and was more psychological than horrifying.

A year later Barrymore hit the big time, starring as the adorably lovable Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s E.T -The Extra-Terrestrial. E.T. was a huge success and grossed nearly half a billion dollars at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 1982, cementing Barrymore as quite an in-demand child star.

Drew Barrymore in FirestarterIn 1984 Barrymore scored the coveted role of Charlene “Charlie” McGee in the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, playing the film’s pyrokinetic lead. Starring alongside industry heavyweights George. C. Scott and Martin Sheen, Barrymore dominated her screen time and delivered a powerful performance of a young girl driven by her love for her father.

A year later Barrymore would star in yet another Stephen King adaptation, in the anthology film Cat’s Eye. King reportedly wrote the screenplay with Barrymore in mind for the role as she had impressed producer Dino De Laurentiis with her work a year earlier on Firestarter.

Drew BarrymoreThrough the rest of the 80s, Barrymore played parts in shows such as Amazing Stories, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, and CBS Schoolbreak Special. It wasn’t until 1989 when Barrymore was 14 that she returned to genre films with the serial killer thriller Far From Home, as Joleen  Cox. The film was a flop, despite the fact it featured some horror alumni such as Richard Massur (IT), Jennifer Tilly (Bride Of Chucky), and Matt Frewer (The Stand).

This seemed like a decline in Barrymore’s career until three years later when she would star in the seductive 1992 Katt Shea thriller Poison Ivy. As Ivy, Barrymore befriends Sylvie Cooper (played by Sarah Gilbert) and seduces Sylvie’s father Darryl (Tom Skerritt). Barrymore delivered a sultry and fragile performance as the film titles vixen and regained her hold on Hollywood, yet again being seen as a talented actress.

Drew BarrymoreFollowing the success of Poison Ivy (which would spawn three sequels since), Barrymore appeared in Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Sketch Artist, Guncrazy, and No Place To Hide in 1992.

In 1993 Doppelganger was released. Barrymore played Holly Gooding, a young woman with a strange double. It wasn’t as successful as hoped, but has since become popular with fans.

Later that year Barrymore would play Long Island teenager Amy Fisher, in The Amy Fisher Story – based on the true story of a teenager who shot her adult lover Joey Buttafuoco’s wife. The film was well received at the time, and Barrymore praised for her portrayal of the wayward teen and the crime that shocked the world.

For the following years, Barrymore took more romantic roles and in 1995 even appeared as Sugar in Batman Forever, one of the villain Two-Face’s (played by Tommy Lee Jones) girlfriends.

However in 1996 came a pivotal moment in Barrymore’s career, taking on a role as a victim called Casey Becker rather than the lead she was originally offered. In Wes Craven’s/David Williamson’s Scream, Barrymore’s role became as infamous as Janet Leigh’s in Hitchcock’s Psycho 36 years earlier and has since been part of one of Horror’s most memorable on-screen deaths for over two decades since.

Drew Barrymore in ScreamFrom Scream, Barrymore took more light-hearted roles – for which her fans adore her- in films such as The Wedding Singer, Ever After, and Home Fries.

It was in 1999 that Barrymore launched her production company Flower Films and their first film Never Been Kissed (which reunited her with former Doppelganger co-star Sean Whalen – known as Roach from The People Under the Stairs – and Scream co-star David Arquette) was released.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2001 she returned to the genre in Donnie Darko as Karen Pomeroy. The sci-fi/thriller film still has fans divided to this day over the interpretation of what it means.

Following commercial success with the Charlie’s Angels film reboots and a dramatic role in Driving in Cars With Boys, Barrymore has built her career for the last decade primarily in producing films and starring in romantic and dramatic roles.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2017 Netflix released the first series of The Santa Clarita Diet. The show is a horror comedy, about the strange death of Sheila Hammond. However Sheila isn’t quite dead, she’s undead and has a hankering for human flesh. It is up to her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant), daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and their young neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) to help figure out how Sheila became what she now is and try and change her back to normal.

The show has run for two seasons already and confirmation for series three has been announced. Fans are enjoying the dark humor and balance between the comedy itself and grotesque gore. It has been an enjoyable and hilarious show to watch and personally a great reintroduction to genre fans for Barrymore’s skills as a comedienne and her abilities within the genre.

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet

Hailing from Sydney Australia and injecting a dose of Aussie Flavour to her reviews, Midi began her horror love in Birmingham England at a very young age and is always trying to find the next local or indie horror talent to share with the world.
DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

Drew Barrymore with General from Cat's EyeDrew Barrymore has spent her life in front of the camera in a variety of roles but is especially known with genre fans in recent times for her portrayal of Sheila Hammond in two series the Netflix show The Santa Clarita Diet.

Barrymore’s first role was uncredited in a made for television movie Suddenly, Love in 1978 (when she was merely two years old and played a baby boy named Bobby).

Drew BarrymoreIt wouldn’t be until two more years late, in 1980, that Drew would play Margaret Jessup in Altered States, which was also the debut film for William Hurt. Altered States reflected a disturbingly surreal element of humanity and was more psychological than horrifying.

A year later Barrymore hit the big time, starring as the adorably lovable Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s E.T -The Extra-Terrestrial. E.T. was a huge success and grossed nearly half a billion dollars at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 1982, cementing Barrymore as quite an in-demand child star.

Drew Barrymore in FirestarterIn 1984 Barrymore scored the coveted role of Charlene “Charlie” McGee in the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, playing the film’s pyrokinetic lead. Starring alongside industry heavyweights George. C. Scott and Martin Sheen, Barrymore dominated her screen time and delivered a powerful performance of a young girl driven by her love for her father.

A year later Barrymore would star in yet another Stephen King adaptation, in the anthology film Cat’s Eye. King reportedly wrote the screenplay with Barrymore in mind for the role as she had impressed producer Dino De Laurentiis with her work a year earlier on Firestarter.

Drew BarrymoreThrough the rest of the 80s, Barrymore played parts in shows such as Amazing Stories, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, and CBS Schoolbreak Special. It wasn’t until 1989 when Barrymore was 14 that she returned to genre films with the serial killer thriller Far From Home, as Joleen  Cox. The film was a flop, despite the fact it featured some horror alumni such as Richard Massur (IT), Jennifer Tilly (Bride Of Chucky), and Matt Frewer (The Stand).

This seemed like a decline in Barrymore’s career until three years later when she would star in the seductive 1992 Katt Shea thriller Poison Ivy. As Ivy, Barrymore befriends Sylvie Cooper (played by Sarah Gilbert) and seduces Sylvie’s father Darryl (Tom Skerritt). Barrymore delivered a sultry and fragile performance as the film titles vixen and regained her hold on Hollywood, yet again being seen as a talented actress.

Drew BarrymoreFollowing the success of Poison Ivy (which would spawn three sequels since), Barrymore appeared in Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Sketch Artist, Guncrazy, and No Place To Hide in 1992.

In 1993 Doppelganger was released. Barrymore played Holly Gooding, a young woman with a strange double. It wasn’t as successful as hoped, but has since become popular with fans.

Later that year Barrymore would play Long Island teenager Amy Fisher, in The Amy Fisher Story – based on the true story of a teenager who shot her adult lover Joey Buttafuoco’s wife. The film was well received at the time, and Barrymore praised for her portrayal of the wayward teen and the crime that shocked the world.

For the following years, Barrymore took more romantic roles and in 1995 even appeared as Sugar in Batman Forever, one of the villain Two-Face’s (played by Tommy Lee Jones) girlfriends.

However in 1996 came a pivotal moment in Barrymore’s career, taking on a role as a victim called Casey Becker rather than the lead she was originally offered. In Wes Craven’s/David Williamson’s Scream, Barrymore’s role became as infamous as Janet Leigh’s in Hitchcock’s Psycho 36 years earlier and has since been part of one of Horror’s most memorable on-screen deaths for over two decades since.

Drew Barrymore in ScreamFrom Scream, Barrymore took more light-hearted roles – for which her fans adore her- in films such as The Wedding Singer, Ever After, and Home Fries.

It was in 1999 that Barrymore launched her production company Flower Films and their first film Never Been Kissed (which reunited her with former Doppelganger co-star Sean Whalen – known as Roach from The People Under the Stairs – and Scream co-star David Arquette) was released.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2001 she returned to the genre in Donnie Darko as Karen Pomeroy. The sci-fi/thriller film still has fans divided to this day over the interpretation of what it means.

Following commercial success with the Charlie’s Angels film reboots and a dramatic role in Driving in Cars With Boys, Barrymore has built her career for the last decade primarily in producing films and starring in romantic and dramatic roles.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2017 Netflix released the first series of The Santa Clarita Diet. The show is a horror comedy, about the strange death of Sheila Hammond. However Sheila isn’t quite dead, she’s undead and has a hankering for human flesh. It is up to her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant), daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and their young neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) to help figure out how Sheila became what she now is and try and change her back to normal.

The show has run for two seasons already and confirmation for series three has been announced. Fans are enjoying the dark humor and balance between the comedy itself and grotesque gore. It has been an enjoyable and hilarious show to watch and personally a great reintroduction to genre fans for Barrymore’s skills as a comedienne and her abilities within the genre.

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet


Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Smoking Hot with … Bong of The Living Dead (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Smoking Hot with … Bong of The Living Dead (2017)

Yes, you read that correctly, this review will be about the recent release of a film titled Bong of the Living Dead, a new breed of Zombie film that has so much beautiful sentiment it actually surprised me!

Again, this is an actual moderately action-packed stoner film involving a group of potheads and their antics during an untimely zombie outbreak.

Of course, when you hear the title, you will prejudge based on your views on the prior Evil Bong films. This is not affiliated with those films in any way, shape, or form.

Ted (2012)

Ted (2012) – No, not that bong.

Bong of the Living Dead features a group of twenty-something adults who have known each other since they were kids.

As kids, our hazy leader Christ Moser (played by Eric Boso, previously seen in short films) establishes himself as a self-proclaimed zombie aficionado. He spends a lot of his days mulling over how he would react to a zombie apocalypse, usually while smoking his bong.

Also in the friends’ group is Kate Mitchell (Tiffany Arnold, who appears in Lilith with Jessica Cameron). Kate is a doctor now with much less regard for Christ’s discussions and thinking more logically about the possibility of an attack of the undead.

Joining this duo is Daniel Alan Kiely as Hal Rockwood, Laura. E. Mock as Tara Callahan, Dan Nye as Jon Lance, and Cat Taylor as Danielle Dewitt.

Each adds some genuinely funny moments to this oddly conceived film and balance the humor with their genuine care and compassion for each other.

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, and Laura E. Mock in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, and Laura E. Mock in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Obviously, there are nods to films notable within the zombie sub-genre and Night of the Living Dead is discussed in one of their Zombie talks. as well as Land of the Dead in relation to guns within the Zombie film world.

When the actual news breaks on TV about the onslaught of Zombies, naturally some are excited and others more reserved within the group.

That said, the original onslaught is quite less than anticipated and notably disheartened, they instead all return inside to…you guessed it…get high!

Hours pass and the news reports worsen to the point that one newscaster reports, “You’re fucked, Columbus!” Even worse, a politician begins a campaign (Councilman Ted Swanson) with the cheesiest slogan, “Don’t be a problem, zom-bee the solution”.  All of this prompts our collective ensemble to again get high, and we are treated to a montage of zombie preparations before they attempt to venture outside. A few of the neighbors are devoured by the increasing horde and things begin to take a zombie-like twist for the worst.

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, Laura E. Mock, and Cat Taylor in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, Laura E. Mock, and Cat Taylor in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

This is where they take a downward spiral. Zombies overtake, some are hurt, even killed. The usual plot aspects of a zombie film. However through a series of horrific moments, and even the news guy shooting himself, our gang begin to recall their fond memories with one another. Tied in with such an amazingly emotional score, it pulls oddly at your heartstrings – not something I anticipated – and creates an almost beautiful climax.

I think people will prejudge Bong of the Living Dead, but in those moments it showed real heart and actually became so much more than a stoner zombie viewing.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HORROR NEWS: Chase Dudley’s Beasts of The Field

HORROR NEWS: Chase Dudley’s Beasts of The Field

Beasts of the Field is the latest collaborative effort from filmmaker Chase Dudleyand, his frequent writer,Brett Slabchuck and is currently in pre production. The movie Beasts of the Field is set for a 2019 release and has already cast its seven principal cast members.
Actors already cast in their roles included are:
Robert Mukes is Bigby in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Robert Allen Mukes as Bigsby. Mukes comes from such genre films as House of 1000 Corpses, Westworld, Slumber Party Slaughter, and Backwoods.
Bishop Stevens will star as James. Stevens is a former WCW/WWE wrestler who has starred in the films Mom and Dad and Family Blood.
Bishop Stephens is James in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Berna Roberts is Clarissa in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Berna Roberts features in the cast as Clarissa. Roberts has previously been seen in films like Ugly Sweater Party, Slaw, Puppet, and Tower Of Blood.
Emmanuel Carter plays Lester. Carter has been seen before in the movies Twice Born, and Power Rangers :Zenith.
Emmanuel Carter is Lester in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Tony Beckham is Horty in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Tory L. Beckham Stars as Horty. Beckham has previously appeared in two of Dudley’s films Marvelous Mandy and Payday as well as the recently released film Mom and Dad.
Savannah Schafer is Reid. Schafer has been seen previously in roles In movies such as Hell Night, Hell Night: Devils Pass, and Night of 1000 Clowns.
Savannah Schafer is Reid in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Ashley Nune is Kyra in Chase Dudley's Beasts of the Field (2019)
Lastly is popular indie actress Ashley Mary Nunes as Kyra. Nunes had been seen in films like All Through The House, Death Ward 13, Scary Larry, and the upcoming Safe Place.
The story of Beasts of the Field is simple. The film will be a dramatic horror thriller revolving around a delusional cryptozoologist and a psychopathic television presenter who lead an amateur expedition into the Wild forests in hopes of finding the legendary Thunderbird, which they believe is the ancestor of a prehistoric Pteranodon.
Steve-O Shephard will preview the special effects having previously worked on effects for Dudley’s film Payday.
And cinematographer and film editor Eddie Brown Jr has joined the team (having previously worked on films like Payday, Marvellous Mandy, Camera Phone, and Camera Phone 2).
Beasts of the Field will commence principal shooting in the near future.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, PRESS RELEASE, 0 comments
About Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday

About Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday

ESSEN-77 media releases the promo video/trailer for director Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday.

The promo video/trailer is a prequel ultrashort that segues into a montage of images from the 17-minute short film. The film is already being celebrated by critics, journalists, film historians and those who look for cutting-edge experiences with teeth.

Stephen Nemeth (camera, American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock) wrote, produced, photographed, directed, composed/ performed the score and created the special effects. Nemeth also appears in a cameo as the Devil’s Advocate in the prequel ultrashort portion of the promo video/trailer. Black Friday promises to pose questions instead of answers and challenges the audiences to think for themselves about the extreme behaviors onscreen.

Stephen Nemeth was camera/second cinematographer for American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock, the second installment of the American reboot of the famous Japanese extreme horror franchise, the Guinea Pig series, and created the Behind the Scenes of Bloodshock feature-length documentary on the three-disc collectors’ edition release from Unearthed Films. In 2013, Nemeth directed the Locus series of metaphysical stalker thriller shorts and the home invading/domestic violence short Deathlust (2014). Recently he wrote, directed, and shot the music video for Chris Sullivan’s “By The Light Of Radio”, a nostalgic throwback to a simpler magical time where the radio tuner dial illuminated the bedrooms of youngsters exposing them to the sounds of 70s and 80s rock and roll artists like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

He also currently appears onscreen with Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club) and Peter Hedges ( novelist/ screenwriter, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) in Little Sister, streaming on Netflix and available on Blu-Ray from Kino/Lorber.

Keep an eye out for Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday, and let House of Tortured Souls know what you think.

Stephen Nemeth's Black Friday (2018)

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, PRESS RELEASE, 0 comments
Savage Australia – Three Films of Ozploitation Importance

Savage Australia – Three Films of Ozploitation Importance

Focusing on three entries in horror cinema from savage Australia and spanning 1978-87, this article is an exploration of the subject material of the great Australian Ozplotitation movement.

Ranging from the most notable of films, this article focuses on the three Australian Productions Long Weekend, Fortress, and Dark Age.

Each tells a unique and very Australian tale of heartache and disaster within the unforgiving harshness of this sun-kissed country.

Long Weekend (1978)

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)Long Weekend was made in 1978 and featured the tale of two rather clueless city dwellers, who take a trip to the outback. Whilst there the duo foolishly harm Mother Nature and her creatures, causing a chain reaction of evil that is unleashed upon them.

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)Starring Briony Behets and John Hargreaves, Long Weekend is a wonderous examination of how the world would fight back from our polluting, and careless behavior damaging it. The two leads also returned in 2008 as consultants on the remake of Long Weekend– which this time starred Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan, and was directed by Jamie Blanks. Both versions were based on the screenplay by Everett De Roche, who also was also responsible for adapting the screenplay for Fortress in 1985.

Directed by Colin Eggleston, Long Weekend is a harrowing cautionary tale for all. What goes around truly comes around.

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)With the changes within the cinema by 1985, to Australian animal horror, in the years following the Azaria Chamberlain case (known as the infamous “dingo ate my baby” disappearance at Uluru) films shifted towards more animal attacks, especially with the 1984 universally adored Razorback.
Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)

Dark Age (1987)

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)This is where in 1987 the film Dark Age found its niche, within the world of Aussie animal horror.

Dark Age features a young John Jarratt in the lead role (popularly recognized as the devilish murderer Mick Taylor in Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek franchise), as a ranger named Steve Harris.

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)This film revolved around a massive killer saltwater crocodile who cannot be killed due to local Aborigines consideration that crocs harbored the spirit of others. Harris must fight to protect the local community but also show immense respect to his indigenous locals claim of the land and its inhabitants too.

Dark Age is a clever, well-conceived film and quite positively incorporates the previous times’ political unrest towards the government’s claims over indigenous landmarks (and an infamous movement in the 1970s and 80s down under known as MABO– named after its pioneer Eddie Mabo).

Featuring indigenous actors David Gulpilil and Burnam Burnam, and based on the novel Numunwari by Graham Webb, Dark Age is a true blue Aussie film through and through.

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)

Fortress (1985)

On a more serious note, two years earlier Fortress had been released.
Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)
Based on another novel (of the same name by Gabriel Lord) about the kidnapping of a school teacher and six pupils (aged 5-10 years of age) from the Faraday School in Victoria, Australia on October 6th, 1972, by Edwin John Eastwood and Robert Clyde Boland. Fortress focuses on a dramatic retelling of what happened and adds a somewhat Lord of the Flies edge to it.

Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)Again the screenplay was penned by Everett De Roche (also responsible for writing screenplays for hugely popular Australian films such as Patrick, Storm Warning, Road Games, and Razorback) and this film has a balanced blending of reality and horror.

Arch Nicholson (who also directed Dark Age) had directed Fortress prior and assisted in directing Razorback, but sadly passed away in 1990 with only 6 directorial credits at the time.

The film itself has savage moments and is an emotionally well told, strong re-enactment of the events with a few additions. Like Dark Age and Long Weekend, the Australian climate and factors pull you into the story and increase the experience.
Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)
With three powerful films slowly rising as cult classics of the Ozploitation era, one must ask the general public to watch out for the savage truth behind Australia. With worldwide releases on DVD and BLURAY, it is now creeping globally through popularly fearsome films like Rogue, and the soon to be released Boar, House of Tortured Souls wants to know… are YOU ready to fend off the Aussie invasion?

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EDITORIALS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The Evolution of a Filmmaker: Studying the Films of Dakota Bailey

The Evolution of a Filmmaker: Studying the Films of Dakota Bailey

Dakota BaileyDakota Bailey is a Denver-based filmmaker with a growing following of loyal fans eager to view his films, that reflect on ultra-realistic exploitation involving both a subculture of crime and horror.

In January, Bailey released his fourth independent film The Rise And Fall of An American Scumbag. The film was intended as a continuation of an earlier film of his called American Scumbags and production on the film took approximately six months.

Bailey started his career creating short films, that reflect a Denver subculture of drug-induced mayhem.

Each short included some interesting musical scores, Bailey’s signature mixture of characters, and a bird’s eye view of a gritty town on the brink of destruction.

Alaskan Cinder in Dakota Bailey's The Rise and Fall of an American Scumbag (2017)He began his career with the creation of his first short film American Scumbags: A Day In The Life of A Drug Dealer in 2015. This was followed by four more shorts within the  year – Satan’s Coming For You, My Master Satan, I Spread Hate Like Herpes and Nights Of Depravity.  In 2016, Bailey released the anthology horror film My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence. He followed up later in the year with his unforgettable and popular film American Scumbags. In 2017, fans were treated to the impressive The Acid Sorcerer.  It was following that when Bailey began work on his latest film.

Titled The Rise And Fall of An American Scumbag, the film features several entwining stories that revolve around several intriguing and shady characters. This includes Johnny (Dakota Bailey) an unstable, drug-addicted hitman, Billy (Darien Fawkes) a sadistic sociopath with a scheme to murder his father for his life insurance policy, and wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran vigilante Wheeling Deals (L.B.). The film documents each character’s rise and eventual self-destruction and takes the viewer on a dark and twisted journey full of drugs and death.

Marla Rose in Dakota Bailey's The Rise and Fall of an American Scumbag (2017)With this new film, Bailey twists the narrative a little and makes for a compelling and inviting storyline that tangles with depravity, yet has some heart. I really felt Billy resonated well on screen and his angst versus his moral code is explored so wonderfully that Darien Fawkes‘ abilities shine on-screen even more so than they did previously in American Scumbags.

Mish-mashed within the amazing imagery of graffiti art, a town in decline, and religious symbolism, the film seeps into your subconscious and draws you in through a sea of heavy music. Again, Bailey uses the focus of drug-fueled insanity to create the film’s ambiance. The desperation, depravity, and daily grinding lifestyle of each character is clear and precise. From Billy’s need to break free of his dangerous monotonous life and start fresh elsewhere, Johnny’s insatiable lust for his next hit, and even Wheelin’ Deals desires to set the world straight in some skewered act of morality, The Rise And Fall Of An American Scumbag has many layers to its developed and well-conceived plot.

We explore Bailey’s familiar concepts of drugs, anxiety, violence, and desperation. However, The Rise And Fall of An American Scumbag will leave you stunned by its original and shocking sentiments. Each story connects with the other, much like films such as Go (1999), 200 Cigarettes (1999), and The Rules of Attraction (2002), creating an impressive end result that is equally strong and cleverly depicted.

This film is a testament to Bailey’s ability to grow as a filmmaker and master storyteller. Allowing his characters to evolve from scripted storylines to a more narrative style of the fly on the wall personas, he involves us on a newer level and engages with his audience wonderfully.

Secure your own copy of The Rise And Fall Of An American Scumbag.
Dakota Bailey in The Rise and Fall of an American Scumbag (2017)

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 2 comments
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF  MONSTER FEST SYDNEY 2018

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF MONSTER FEST SYDNEY 2018

The last three days have been a whirlwind of screening delight at the second Sydney Monster Fest . From 7 pm on Friday, 9 March 2018, night until 11 pm on Sunday, 11 March 2018, Monster Fest screened a total of twelve films, and of those twelve, two were short films.

Unfortunately, there were two films I could not attend due to time restraints. These were Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell (a German thriller about a woman in hiding following witnessing a murder) and Luke Shanahan’s Rabbit (noted as a strong, well driven Australian thriller surrounding the disappearance of a girl’s sister). Next year I shall be clearing my schedule to attend all of the screenings available as both, I felt, offered so many possibilities as a film fan, and I did want to see them.

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 01

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 1 of 3

At Monster Fest, Australia served up some more homegrown horror with the two shorts Edward and Melissa LyonsAlfred J Hemlock (an impressive revamping of the better the devil you know style dealings with a hilariously lovable comedic twist- that kick-started the festival ahead of the opening screening) and Ren Thackham’s and Fliss Keep’s Tightly Ground ( a boring and rather overindulgent hipster attempt at satire with a bit of murder thrown in). As well as the films like Steven Spiel’s superb Living Space (an awesome time looping thriller featuring some pure moments of amazement – including a human swastika!), Daniel Armstrong’s Tarnation (which despite an impressively campy premise was ultimately an abysmal film featuring a group of annoyingly bad actors facing perils of obscure concepts – penis bugs, demonic unicorns and zombie kangaroos all sound great but if executed poorly are not as fun as hoped), and the standout Mystery Movie that ended the festival Chris Sun’s desperately anticipated BOAR.

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 02

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 2 of 3

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 03

Steven Spiel’s Living Space Q&A, 3 of 3

BOAR is a beast of a film all of its own which features a huge quality bag full of lovable Australian larrikin humor, great creature effects and a cast of likable and deliberately unlikeable characters. Switching from the douchebag boyfriend Robert (played so well by Hugh Sheridan), to the hulking gentle giant uncle Bernie (played adorably by Nathan Jones) and even familiar faces such as John Jarratt, Bill Moseley, and even Steve Bisley, Sun has his star-studded cast guide this film superbly through the sentimental, the comedic and the terrifying!

From the USA, Monster Fest secured screenings of Johannes Roberts’ The Strangers 2: Prey at Night (which for me knocks the original out of the picture through its musically rich murderous antics and opened the festival with a bang alongside Alfred J Hemlock), the 1987 classic Fred Dekker film The Monster Squad (I had never seen this and am a huge lover of it now!!!!) , and  their 4K restoration screening of the classic George. A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (crisper clear quality without losing the original film’s awesomeness).

Canada served up Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket, an impressive occult themed film about the suffering that follows a loss. It starred The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden and Vancouver actress Nicole Munoz (both dove deep to create likable and unlikeable aspects to their tortured characters).

Lastly, from Turkey came the Can Evrenol film Housewife, an inexplainable romp into the insanity that it displays thoroughly throughout. With dream realms, surreal ongoing and a beginning classic to any horror film, you will not be let down by this film. Brilliant!!

All in all, Monster Fest was a thoroughly amazing viewing experience and I cannot wait for any further screenings throughout the year or events like this one. I will be there!

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EVENT REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
BEWARE AS MONSTERFEST APPROACHES!

BEWARE AS MONSTERFEST APPROACHES!

In a couple of days, the MONSTERFEST Travelling Sideshow will hit Sydney Australia, beginning the Australian run of early year premieres and film screenings with Q & A sessions.

This year’s screening list varies from new to old, funny to horrifying and even local to foreign horror.

The MONSTERFEST Travelling Sideshow is held at the Event Cinemas, 505- 525 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

The screenings will occur over three days beginning in the evening on Friday, the 9th of March, and finishing with the final screening at 9:30 pm on Sunday, the 11th of March.

The screening list is as follows:

FRIDAY, 9 MARCH 2018

7:00 pm — The Strangers Prey At Night

MonsterFest - The Strangers: Prey at NightThis is the Australian premiere of the American film The Strangers Prey At Night and it will screen hours before the official international release of the film. Before the film screens, patrons will also get the chance to view the Australian horror comedy short Alfred J Hemlock.

930 pm — Pyewacket

MonsterFest - PyewacketThis is the Sydney Premiere of the Canadian horror thriller occult independent film Pyewacket , featuring former The Walking Dead star Laurie Holden.

SATURDAY, 10 MARCH 2018

2:30 pm — The Monster Squad

MonsterFest - The Monster SquadThis will be a screening event of the classic 1987 family-friendly action horror comedy film The Monster Squad.

4:30 pm — Night of The Living Dead (4K Restoration)

MonsterFest - Night of the Living DeadThis is the World Premiere of this 1968 George.A.Romero zombie classic since it has had a 4K restoration and will be crisply screened for MONSTERFEST patrons.

7:00 pm — Living Space

MONSTERFEST proudly presents not only the World premiere of the Australian independent horror film Living Space but also MONSTERFEST will be hosting a Q & A session at the event with writer/director Steven Spiel, producer Natalie Forward, Cinematographer Branco Grabovac and stars Emma Leonard, Georgia Chara, and Leigh Scully.

9:30 pm — Rabbit

Vendetta films presents the Sydney Premiere of Rabbit, an independent Australian horror film and will be including a Q & A session with writer/ director Luke Shanahan and producer David Ngo.

SUNDAY, 11 MARCH 2018

2:15 pm –Tarnation

MonsterFest - TarnationAnother Australian film’s Sydney Premiere, Tarnation, is presented by Monster Pictures and features a crossbow-wielding paraplegic, possessed cultists, penis bugs, a demonic unicorn, and a zombie kangaroo. This screening will also be shown with a short 7-minute film called Tightly Ground which will also be making its Sydney debut.

4:30 pm — Housewife

This fresh slice of Turkish horror called Housewife is set to get Australian horror friends talking with it joining the MONSTERFEST line up for its Sydney premiere.

7:00 pm — Cold Hell

Also stepping onto the line up will be the Sydney premiere of the German horror film Cold Hell.

9:15 pm — ???????Mystery Screening???????

This screening is a mystery to all who attend and will not be announced until just before the film hits the screen at its Sydney premiere. All patrons know is that it is an Australian creature feature and will have an amazing bevy of local talent within it.

Speculation is that it will be Chris Sun’s Boar finally making its way to Sydney (only having screened once at its world premiere in Melbourne at MONSTERFEST’s Opening Night Gala in November). Fans are very hopeful…and so am I!

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in COMING SOON, EVENTS, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Women In Horror Month Special Meet Innuendo’s Own Saara Lamberg

Women In Horror Month Special Meet Innuendo’s Own Saara Lamberg

WiHM: Saara LambergSaara Lamberg is a fresh face in the film scene, but her imprint is growing each day throughout the world.

Known for acting in, directing, writing and producing her own short films including Waiting For Eva, Finding No, Instant Photo and Half , Lamberg’s foray into the feature length film world has been strong.

In 2017 Lamberg released her first feature Innuendo-The Bad Twin.

Innuendo is a quirky thriller about two sisters, Tuuli and Saavi, who were raised in a somewhat oppressive and heavily religious home. When one branches out into the real world and leaves Finland for Australia, her life strays drastically from the path of her controlled childhood. In just a short time, she learns first hand about love, murder, and who is actually bad.WiHM: Saara Lamberg

Innuendo is told by switching between two time periods, the girls’ childhood under a religious rule and the carefree life, free from that.

Lamberg creates an atmosphere of both confusion and awe for her viewers towards her characters.

WiHM: Saara Lamberg

In Thomas (played sweetly by Andy Hazel) we see a kind young man who feels let down and ignored by Tuuli. In Ben (portrayed amazingly and manly, yet with such a soft kindness by Brendan Bacon) we see Tuuli’s behavior flitter from good and bad and honestly feel he can help her find herself. In Linda (Karina Sorelli) and Lucky (Andrew Jans-Brown) we see a comfortable, natural love story unfold, that is sadly twisted up in Tuuli’s dark world.

The younger version of Tuuli and Suvi was played by Saga Tegelberg. She takes on the dual roles with ease and portrays both the sweet and innocent twin, as well as the rougher and unsettled one.WiHM: Saara Lamberg

 Eeva Putra and Juha-Pekka Mikkola play Tuuli and Suvi’s mother and father and on screen display the unease they feel of raising their second daughter extremely well.WiHM: Saara Lamberg

Most amazingly of all is the fact that Lamberg not only wrote, directed and produced this film, but she is also its lead actor.

Lamberg plays the dual roles of the adult versions of Tuuli and Suvi. She plays the awkward and unique women so well and I was in awe of her performance, as she delved into the quirky, innocent, and yet evil world of a woman learning to live.

There is no doubts in my mind that Lamberg’s future within the film industry is very bright and the success of Innuendo is further proof of that.WiHM: Saara Lamberg

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Celebrating Women In Horror Month with Katt Shea

WiHM: Celebrating Women In Horror Month with Katt Shea

With a career as long as your arm and a keen investment in varied genres, Katt Shea has been a popular female actress and filmmaker to film fans for nearly forty years.

Her first acting job on screen was as Rita in the TV movie The Asphalt Cowboy in 1980, and from then on, she acted in films like My Tutor, Scarface, Preppies, and Psycho III.

Stripped to Kill (1987) Written and directed by Katt SheaIn 1987, Shea then stepped behind the camera and became the writer (alongside Andy Reuben) and director on her first film Stripped To Kill (which got a sequel two years later with Stripped To Kill 2: Live Girls). Stripped To Kill was a dramatic crime horror focused on the investigation of the death of a girl in a strip club and one detective’s need to go undercover as a stripper to solve the crime. It has an oddly beautiful mix of stripping and crime solving for the fans of 80s films.

She continued her directing career with another film about the world of strippers with the vampiric romp, Dance of the Damned and Streets (a film about runaways in Venice being hunted by a psychotic cop).

Dance of the Damned (1989) Written and directed by Katt SheaIn 1992, Shea would become an even bigger name worldwide, with the release of her popular sexual thriller Poison Ivy. The film starred Hollywood child darling Drew Barrymore (now nearly a young woman) alongside the likes of Tom Skerritt, Sara Gilbert, and Cheryl Ladd. The film focused on a sexually alluring femme fatale, her friendship with another confused young woman, and the lengths she will go to to have anything she desired.

Poison Ivy was so popular with audiences, it spawned three sequels with heavy female influences on either the script or direction each time.

Following the success of Poison Ivy, Shea’s next project was co-writing and directing the low budget Roger Corman produced made-for-television film Last Exit To Earth. This was a film, amidst their formidable friendship and filmmaking career and Corman has even stated in the past when interviewed regarding Shea:

She is a talented director. She’s particularly good with actors, having been an actress herself. She’s taught herself about the camera and has gotten better with each picture.

Streets (1990) Written and directed by Katt SheaThree years later, however, horror fans were treated to the fun and meaningful film Carrie 2: The Rage.

Shea directed this enjoyable teen follow up to De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie. The film even starred Amy Irving, who returned as Sue Snell for the second time and introduced the impressive Emily Bergl in her first film role.

Though Carrie 2: The Rage received mixed reviews, personally (as a fan of adaptations of King’s books) I can appreciate this film more than the 2002 remake with Angela Bettis.

Since beginning her career, Shea has always impressed others with her kindness and care. This has led to her career as an acting coach and has made a lucrative career as such by helping prepare new as well as established actors for roles within the industry. She has continued to sometimes make and act in films over the years and never regrets a moment of it.

The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) / Kate Shea as the Deputy DA

I like every single film I’ve ever made , I really do. Other people call them exploitation films, but to me what I was doing was never exploitative. I always had a strong point of view about my intention; it was never just to make money or to titillate or to horrify. I always had my purpose and I made those movies myself. I can’t imagine sitting around and trying to piece together elements that I think other people want to see. That would be so boring!
—Katt Shea

Katt Shea

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
An Interview with Filmmaker Chase Dudley

An Interview with Filmmaker Chase Dudley

Recently it has been my pleasure to discuss the work of filmmaker Chase Dudley through the House of Tortured Souls pre-production press release for his latest project, Between the Living and the Dead.Photos By : Kim Greenidge
Readers will already be aware of some of the cast members such as Lisa Wilcox, Ashley Mary Nunes, John Dugan, and even Robert Allen Mukes.
Additional to the four principal cast, Dudley has also cast Bishop Stevens and Trevor Murdoch, infamous and impressively skilled wrestlers who had been a part of the WWE world since 1999. Stevens currently can also be seen in films such as Mom and Dad, Payday, and No Good Heroes.

Bishop Stevens - Interview with Chase Dudley

Trevor Murdoch - Interview with Chase Dudley

I took some time ahead of the filming schedule for Between the Living and the Dead, to speak with the director Chase Dudley.
House of Tortured Souls: Between your films Marvellous Mandy, Payday, and the upcoming production of Between the Living and the Dead, it’s clear that filmmaking is a passion for you. What inspired your desire to become a filmmaker?
Chase Dudley: Yes, my passion for filmmaking has always been very strong, ever since I was a kid. I think I always knew that I wanted to be in the movie business, but it was mostly at a young age that it revolved more around acting. My directing passion came later in life when I started actually making movies, it was to the point for me to find other people making movies. I started making movies for myself and I was always doing more of the directing and finding people. Being in movies, somebody always had to put everything together and it ended up being me doing these things and I just learned to love doing that more than acting. I love telling stories of all kinds, whether it is horror, drama, or action. I like doing a little bit of everything and I started really just making movies six years ago. So I have a lot of time to make up for. From my twenties, social media was so much less and it was really hard to find other people that were interested in the things that I was. Sometimes it really sucks and I feel like I’ve been born in the wrong decade, but it is a great time to be a filmmaker now.
HoTS: I find it inspiring that your business partner is also your amazing wife Samantha Dudley. What is it like working together at Cut 2 The Chase Productions and balancing that with your family commitments?
CD: Me working with my business partner and wife Samantha has been, honestly, the greatest treat in the world. People I’d dated in the past always never really fully accepted what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be. It came to the same ultimatums, a lot of times in relationships. It was either them or my dream. And of course, if I gave up my dream it’d be like a slow suicide ‘cos you know how it goes with a lot of relationships in the movie business. It was always so awkward and weird, ‘cos it’s hard for me to not think about movies at all. Thinking movies and being with someone who loves me and wants me to achieve my goals is very special.
HoTS: Between the Living and The Dead will feature two powerful women within horror — Lisa Wilcox and Ashley Mary Nunes — what was it like meeting with either of them ? And why did you choose them for their roles?
CD: Watching the A Nightmare on Elm Street films when I was a kid and seeing Lisa Wilcox, she was always my favorite character of the franchise, and I always thought she was quite badass. So growing up and then making movies, I hadn’t heard from her in a while and saw she was raising her kids and getting back into acting and she was really on my list to work with (‘cos she’s such a strong actress). Recently watching her get into all kinds of other great projects I felt I had to work with her. And Ashley Nunes I had met in 2015 at the Ripped Film Festival. I was screening my movie Retribution and she was in a film with her brother Todd, well her brother directed it, called All Through The House. She was such a professional person and a terrific actress and so down to earth. I knew that’s someone I wanted to work with, and we had been trying for a few years. Finally, I sent her the script (for Between the Living and the Dead) and she was so eager to be a part of it.
HoTS: How does it feel also to know you’ll get to work with the legendary John Dugan and genre star Robert Allen Mukes?
CD: I never in a million years thought I’d be working with Robert Allen Mukes or John Dugan. Growing up some of my favorite horror films were the House of 1000 Corpses and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, alongside A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those were some of the most memorable and inspiring horror films of all time. They’re all such down to earth people and the roles they’re gonna be playing in the film are so iconic and badass. The horror fans are really gonna love what we’re gonna do with this and it is such an honor to be directing them all.
HoTS: Not ignoring the rest of the cast who will be equally amazing on screen, and I notice some come from wrestling backgrounds, how did you select the right actors for each role?
CD: Firstly, Bishop Stevens and Trevor Murdoch are great additions to this project. As a director whenever I’m reading a script or in the process of creating, I already have in mind who I want to work with. It’s one of those things where I visually see people, that I feel fit the roles, and when creating a script I always hope they like it and most of the times they do. So its one of those things I guess, every director is different. Some directors love going to casting calls and posting for and having casting auditions. I like, personally, handpicking them before we start. It’s more exciting.
HoTS: Of course you frequently collaborate with writer Brett Slabchuck, including on Payday and Marvellous Mandy, what is your take on his writing style and what process do you use to create these films based on his scripts?
CD: Martin Scorsese once said ‘you have to find filmmakers who like you or who is you’. Most of the years I’ve been trying to get movies off the ground, I’ve always worked with people with a differing opinion. They didn’t get my style (so to say). My wife Samantha and my screenwriter Brett Slabchuck are some of those few special people I collaborate with, that truly get what I’m trying to do. When you have people like that, it makes filmmaking so much easier. Brett Slabchuck and I have been doing business for the last four years and this film will be our fourth creative process. We just seem to get more comfortable and understand each other.
HoTS: Between the Living and the Dead will be filming this year and is slated for a 2019 release. Any ideas if you’ll aim for a festival release? And perhaps cinematic??
CD: For Between the Living and the Dead, our goal is I’m really big on Netflix original films, but I am also looking for this film to be released theatrically. The following for Halloween and the way they filmed it seemed really really smart. They shot the movie and that year released it on Halloween of course. We were gonna try take six or seven months in pre-production and try to get and try and get the film out by the next Halloween. This type of film, I think, would do really well theatrically.
HoTS: Is there anything else you’d like film fans to know about Cut 2 The Chase Productions or your films?
CD: At Cut 2 The Chase Productions, we want to be versatile and we want to tell amazing stories. I plan on doing all kinds of different genres and all different kinds of films. We are also going to grow into music too, as my wife is a musician and once we get the movie off the ground we intend on going into the music genre too. That’s one thing I’d like everyone one to know about for Cut 2 The Chase Productions.
Interview with Chase Dudley

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
WiHM: Salute to Mary Lambert and Her Infamous Retelling of a Stephen King Classic

WiHM: Salute to Mary Lambert and Her Infamous Retelling of a Stephen King Classic

Mary Lambert and Pet Sematary sign

Mary Lambert

Stephen King and Mary Lambert on the set of Pet Sematary

Mary Lambert has always been a household name for music fans, having begun her career directing music videos for the likes of Madonna, Bobby Brown, The Eurythmics, and much more.

Following the success of her first feature film Siesta in 1987, Lambert’s follow up film, Pet Semetary, reached an all new audience – horror fans!

Lambert carefully, and respectfully, worked alongside Stephen King to create a visual adaptation of one of his more popular novels (at the time) and to bring the characters within his book to life.

Mary Lambert

Stephen King and Church the cat from Pet Sematary

With Lambert’s vision and willingness to shoot the film in King’s home state of Maine, the film evolved wonderfully and became the classic that it is known for by horror fans today.

The casting choices of amazing actors such as Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Micah Hughes, Brad Greenquist, and the late Fred Gwynne, made the film a powerful portrayal of a family caught between the moral and immoral when unthinkable tragedy befalls them.

Despite the huge commercial success of Lambert’s adaptation of Pet Semetary, she continued to primarily make music videos. In between, she created films like The Attic with Tom Malloy. Her sequel Pet Semetary 2, which starred Edward Furlong and Clancy Brown, was sadly a cinematic flop but gained a following with a certain crowd.

Mary LambertRecently, Lambert appeared in Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Semetary, a phenomenal documentary by John Campopiano and Justin White, about the making of Lambert’s iconic film.

Lambert herself, alongside many other cast and crew, candidly discussed the film’s production and throughout the documentary, she is praised by her colleagues.

Despite her minimal and infrequent interactions within the horror genre, it is undeniable that Lambert is known primarily for a memorable horror film.

Mary LambertPersonally, Pet Semetary was the turning point for me and the beginning of a passion for horror and reading Stephen King novels. It is a twisted tale of sorrow and despair, and Lambert’s ability to garner an emotional response from her viewers, proves her place as a director within the horror world- even after nearly thirty years, I talk to many fans about the impact of Gage and the kite scene during their childhood viewing and how emotional that moment was for them.

With news of her unforgettable film facing a remake (due for release April 19, 2019), fans are curious to know how Lambert feels about the news.

Pet Sematary - Zelda, Church, and Pascow

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Will You Venture Into The Woods Once You See The RItual (2017)?

Will You Venture Into The Woods Once You See The RItual (2017)?

The Ritual (2017)New to Netflix and only seen prior at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, comes The Ritual.

Cast of The RItual (2017) at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival / Image: Ian Goring for TIFF Midnight Madness

Cast of The RItual (2017) at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival / Image: Ian Goring for TIFF Midnight Madnesss

Within its modest 94 minute run time, David Bruckner has directed a mesmerizing forest freak show within his film The Ritual.

The script is superbly written by Joe Barton and guides us as we dive into this unfamiliar, and at times downright bizarre, cinematic adaptation of British writer Adam Nevill’s novel.

A group of four men – Luke, Hutch, Phil, and Dom – suffer the loss of their fifth group member Rob.

Luke and Rob experience a store robbery gone wrong and it is clear early on following these events that Luke is wrestling with the choices he made.

Feeling guilty for not trying to step in and disarm Rob’s killers, Luke relives the moment throughout the film in strange, twisted nightmares.

Rafe Spall (Shaun of the Dead, Green Street Hooligans, Prometheus, Dracula (2006)), son of Timothy Spall, leads the film as Luke. We feel his hurt and pangs of guilt so sorrowfully that we empathize with his plight from the start.

Luke’s friend Dom is played by Sam Troughton (AVP, Spirit Trap), grandson of Patrick Troughton. Troughton flicks brilliantly from helpless to heartless throughout the film. At times we sympathize, like when he is injured, but at others, we see him as uncaring and cold.

The Ritual (2017)Phil is played by Arsher Ali (Wallander, The Missing, Doctor Who) and at times, Phil just goes with the flow or reluctantly accepts the role of leader of the group, yet at others, he amazingly shows us a confused fear that is unmissable.

Last is Hutch, played by Rob James-Collier (Downton Abbey, Shameless, Coronation Street). Hutch is the most understanding of Luke’s plight. He is forgiving and caring and naturally tries to lead his friends to safety.

As the four men travel to Sweden and hold a private memorial for Rob on a breathtaking hillside, it is following this beautiful ceremony that things take an ugly turn.

One by one the guys become confused. Lost in each own’s horrifying nightmares and flittering between the forest and an isolated cabin, like a strange Blair Witch-like rollercoaster, the foursome dwindle in numbers as a small odd community begin their Nordic ritual for the Jotunn.

Will they all escape? Who will come out of the woods today?

Sam Troughton, Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, and Arsher Ali in The Ritual (2017)

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
FAN FILM REVIEW: Jason Hawkins’ The Blair Witch Legacy (2018)

FAN FILM REVIEW: Jason Hawkins’ The Blair Witch Legacy (2018)

Getting to review a fan film in its entirety is always a good thing, as it gives one a chance to reflect upon their own feelings towards the original source material.

The Blair Witch Legacy (2018)In the 1990s, I was an awkward teen who often sought solace in the mighty beast of horror fandom.

Frequently, I would see the latest cinematic release and feverishly sit on the edge of my seat, bucket of popcorn in hand, watching each gory moment that adorned the screen.

From the slasher fun of Scream to the seriously creepy repulsion of the cockroaches in Mimic, horror films always caught my attention more than most other things. However, as a huge true crime buff, when the beginning of the “based on true events” era began to rear its ugly head, I admit I was soured.

For me, it was The Blair Witch Project that kicked it all off.

Images of three foolish people running through the woods, freaking out over sounds and stick art just made me yawn. When the sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released I did watch it and, surprisingly, always liked it much more ( perhaps it was the use of first-person narrative and shaky camera technique with the original, but that found footage genre has always been rather hit or miss for me). Even the more annoying drone aided remake Blair Witch in 2016 was a disappointment.

The Blair Witch Legacy (2018)So in recent months, when I took on the role of reviewing Jason Hawkins fan film The Blair Witch Legacy, naturally I began to recall my original feelings for The Blair Witch Project.

Gladly, I can be objective and not view it with solely those old feelings in mind, because I actually found that I loved this film. Hawkins took a stale concept and somehow manages to freshen it up. Ironically, what I despised about the original film I found brilliant in this one. I empathized with more of the characters this time around because Hawkins creates equally likable and unlikable leads and supporting roles through his well-paced and interesting script. Sam is our overly ambitious director, played impressively by Samantha Marie Cook. At times, we find Sam a normal woman with valuable goals, but once the film we pick up on her ulterior moments and dark secrets. Cook is great in her role as I found her likable at first, but ended up loathing her antics about midway. She was the character you begin to love to hate. Sam is aided by Cody (played by Cody Epling) and Jason (played by Jason Reynolds) on her quest to uncover the truth behind the original film from 1999. Both Epling and Reynolds inject the much-needed legwork for this film. The duo is fantastic on screen together and clearly fed off each other’s performance with great ease. The Blair Witch Legacy (2018)In the later scenes, they are able to convey their confusion, frustration, and despair so amazingly that I was drawn in rather strongly. The usual “Blair Witch” related tropes are easily present. From the reluctant locals to the more open and bold wannabe historians and witch loving characters, each supporting cast member adds those little nuances that create the folklore and weave a more believable scenario. As the story evolves, we await the confirmation that the witch is either a real case from prior times in the town, or merely a local urban legend and Hawkins tried to leave that interpretation up to his viewer. Do you believe in the witch? Or is there more to the tale still to come? With news from Hawkins that a sequel will begin filming in the summer… I am still awaiting the complete answers before I decide.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: Between the Living and the Dead

COMING SOON: Between the Living and the Dead

This year director Chase Dudley is embarking on creating his feature length film Between the Living and the Dead, due out in 2019.

Between the Living and the Dead (2018)
The film will be released through Cut 2 The Chase Productions, which is run by Chase and his wife and business partner Samantha Dudley.
Dudley’s notable other directorial credits include the stalker dramatic thriller Marvellous Mandy and the action packed crime drama Payday, each showing his versatility as a filmmaker.

Marvelous Mandy (2016)
Payday (2018)

With an already impressive powerhouse cast line up including Lisa Wilcox (Alice in Nightmare on Elm Street parts 4 and 5), Ashley Mary Nunes (All Through The House), John Dugan (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Robert Allen Mukes (House of 1000 Corpses), the buzz on Between the Living and The Dead has already begun to stir.

john Dugan
Ashley Nunes
Lisa Wilcox
Robert Allen Mukes

Dudley frequently collaborates with writer Brett Slabchuck on filming productions and together they intend on weaving an action filled horror story about the events that follow a decade of financial and agricultural meltdown. We will see a society brought to the edge of total collapse and starving migrants will begin to flee the major cities in search of work, on the last remaining farms throughout the country.

Chase Dudley

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in COMING SOON, PRESS RELEASE, PRESS RELEASE, 0 comments
Welcoming the Women in Horror with Alice Lowe

Welcoming the Women in Horror with Alice Lowe

Celebrating Women in Horror means so much more than just recognizing women who have been prevalent in the horror scene, it also means recognizing those who have stood out from the pack.

This month I would like to shine the light on some remarkable women and their contribution to the world of horror films. Some seem more prevalent with fans than others, so I am starting with British Comedienne, filmmaker and the all-around inspirational woman Alice Lowe.

Alice Lowe

In 2016, when Lowe was seven months pregnant, she decided to embark on a project which would not just allow her to star in a feature film that she wrote but direct it too. Within eleven days the film was wrapped and ready to be edited before it ventured into the horror community.

Prevenge is the story of a widow named Ruth, played by Lowe, who is seven months pregnant and learning to cope with the loss of her partner. All seems well until Ruth begins to believe that her unborn child is guiding her to commit murders. From that moment on she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.

Lowe amazingly leads the way as Ruth, supported by an inspiring supporting female cast. We watch the story unfold of Ruth’s circumstances and immediately are empathetic. She has lost what we assume is the love of her life right when she discovered she was pregnant. She is coping, but life is naturally filled with reminders of what has happened and her growing baby is a constant source of anxiety to Ruth.

We know Lowe from her role in the genre film The Sightseers and her roles on television, but with Prevenge she truly emerges as a star.
Alice Lowe
The story comes together so well it is hard to fault, as it flows fantastically through each moment of calm and chaos so seamlessly. We see the peculiar and dramatic, as her bizarre cravings to feed the bloodlust of her baby unfold through some amazing moments. I admit this film will interest certain fans and be unappealing to others, but Lowes blending of the horrific and the humor with heart is endearing despite the insanity it leaves imprinted in your mind.

I didn’t find the deaths too hardcore or gory as such and they served well in developing the narrative pacing of Prevenge.

Alice LoweThe supporting female cast includes Gemma Whelan (from Game of Thrones and The Wolfman), Kate Dickie (from The Witch and Prometheus) and Jo Hartley (from This Is England 90 and Eddie the Eagle). Each of these strong female performers, provide a believable and well rounded natural portrayal of their characters, alongside Lowe and the male comedic talents throughout the film.

Alice LoweHis ability to move on causes her aggressive beginnings and her declining mental stability, causing her to feel as though the baby is ‘saying’ to enact her revenge.Ruth’s coping with her partner’s death in the film sees her hunting for the person she blames. His role as an instructor of the climbing accident in her partner’s death and the seemingly failed inquest sees Ruth triggered into taking matters into her own hands.

It was a joy watching the usually quiet and solitary Ruth become a homicidal maniac and oddly one of the most heartfelt conclusions possible.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: KURTIS SPIELER’S THE DEVIL’S WELL (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: KURTIS SPIELER’S THE DEVIL’S WELL (2017)

Bryan and Karla Marks are a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators. While conducting an investigation at an infamous area in Connecticut known as the Devil’s Well, Karla mysteriously vanishes. Nearly one year later, Bryan seeks the help of a local paranormal group known as SIGNS. The SIGNS team attempts to document the aftermath of Karla’s disappearance through interviews with her friends, family, and those involved in the case. Bryan and the SIGNS team then head back to the Devil’s Well in order to try an uncover the truth about Karla’s disappearance.

From the mind of Kurtis Spieler, we are given The Devil’s Well his feature length film exploring the creepy world of the found footage genre.

The Devil's Well (2017)

This film was originally slated for release, titled The Unexplained disappearance of Karla Marks in early in 2017, but Wild Eye Releasing (responsible for distrusting films such as Daniel Ray’s Heidi)picked up for distribution and now has an official release date of January 23rd, 2018. And deservingly so.

The Devil's Well (2017)The film unfolds in the style of a documentary, somewhat like The Poughkeepsie Tapes, telling us of the disappearance of a paranormal investigator named Karla Marks. We are also introduced to other elements of the case and what has transpired. Using what Spieler has powerfully written and teaming that with his artful direction, we are pulled into a web of paranormal confusion.

The narrative is very realistic and the film features a strong series of characters, but the film’s somber tones and enveloping style draw you in and make you swallow these concepts hook, line, and sinker.

The realism of this film is so questionable, in parts, that you immediately feel a need to research further (as the lines of fiction somewhat become blurred).

The cast is fantastic! Each playing their characters so genuinely that the believability factor is quite high.

We watch the narrative flip from authentically inventive interviews to police recordings and paranormal footage. The combined effect is that this film conveys a seemingly honest and believable reality of a terrible tragedy that has occurred.

The Devil's Well (2017)Actress Anne-Marie Mueschke plays the lead and though we ultimately see relatively little of her character Karla, we see enough to understand her role within the film.

Of course, the suspicions for her disappearance originally fall on Karla’s co-ghost hunter and husband Bryan. Bryan is played by Manley Davis. Known for a sequence of TV roles and short films, Davis is quite convincing in his plea for the truth of what has happened to his partner. We watch him being tormented by the questions still needing answers, and feeling berated when the blame is cast upon him. Through this performance I feel Davis‘ future is obviously bright. It is easy to see a natural honest demeanor on film within him, and he will be an asset to any other roles he will undertake.

The quirky and humorous cast of enjoyable paranormal investigators referred to as SIGNS all help keep the central theme of the film together and add at times a lightness, that is desired within the darkened content of the film. Within the investigations at the “Devil’s Well”, we see much of the action, thrills, and despair between the cast.

At the moments where it counts, they put on their characters proverbial game faces and take the case as serious as necessary.

The notion of something evil lurking in the shadows seems to grow as we watch on and so does their feeling of unease on screen.

I have to applaud the supporting performances of actors Chris Viemeister (as Lucas Baker), David Alexander (as Kris Manners), Kristen Seavey (as Riley Harper), Jon Gregory (as Dennis Howard), Lauren Sowa (as Lynn Baker), and Kurtis Spieler (yes, our writer/director plays Kurt Schafer).

The Devil's Well (2017)This film has sequences that genuinely play out like those on those paranormal ghost shows on cable TV. Visually we have the darkly lit rooms and each of their panicked faces as they race around trying to find the rational explanations accountable for what has happened with Karla. We hear the quivering in their voices as these normally composed analytical minds crumble under the uncertainty of what they have agreed to face. Ultimately, we watch their demise unfold uneasily.

In the quest for the truth of the “Devils Well”… will anyone survive?

You’ll need to watch it to find out.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

Following the huge international success of Australian writer and director Ben Young’s film Hounds of Love (2016), the House of Tortured Souls’ own Michelle MIDI Sayles had the opportunity to ask him some questions regarding his films, cast, changes in his life since the release of Hounds of Love, and the Australian Film Industry.
House of Tortured Souls: Recently you have gained a lot of success with your brilliant film Hounds of Love. How has that felt coming from such humble beginnings in Western Australia?
Ben Young: It’s truly is very surreal. At best I hoped perhaps the film would get in a festival or two. It was a real surprise and very humbling to have it premiere at Venice and receive the response it did. Less than a year after shooting, I was in Serbia making a US production with 20 times the budget and actors whose work is been admiring for years. Feels weird even to think about the crazy ride!
Hounds of Love (2016)

Emma Booth as Evelyn White and Stephen Curry as John White in Ben Young’s Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: The direction and plot of Hounds of Love echoes the infamous Birnie’s case and other profiles of killer couples, how much of an interest in the element of true crime do you have yourself?
BY: It’s not based on any particular crime/s. I read a book on woman serial murderers and found the psychology of female killers to be very different from that of males. In further research, I found 9 cases involving couples who killed together. It was a subject I hadn’t seen explored in film before so decided to give it a crack. I’m interested in realism on screen so for that reason and often drawn to true crime. For me, a story is all the more engaging if there is an element of truth to it.
HoTS: Your stars Stephen Curry, Emma Booth, and Ashleigh Cummings each have been very kind and praising towards your approach to them throughout the filming process, and it is very well reflected in their amazing performances. How did you find such phenomenal talent for Hounds of Love?
BY: I was lucky really. I wrote the film for Emma. We’ve been buds for 20 years and I truly believe her to be one of the greatest acting talents on the planet. She initially turned the role down but for one reason or another changed her mind at the last minute.
Steve was never [who] I thought of [for the part] but was suggested by our wonderful casting director Anousha. I right away loved the idea because he does not come across like your typical serial killer, which in reality most of them do not. He wanted to do the role and he and I had a long chat. He’s gracious and charming and agreed to audition. After his first take, it was pretty clear I was going to be lucky to have him.
Ashleigh was the last to come to the party. Strangely I’d used pictures of her from Puberty Blues (2012) in my pitch document but thought she was a little old for the character. When she came in and tested I was speechless. There’s something so artificial about the audition process, but somehow Ash was able to transform immediately and deliver a take worthy of the film in that bright little room in Sydney just minutes after meeting me. She was so good, I thought it worth changing the character a little for.
HoTS: Hounds of Love has received some impressive accolades so far already, especially for your leading ladies and yourself. Why do you think so far Stephen Curry (whose performance was equally beyond amazing) hasn’t received the same?
BY: All awards are a lottery! It depends on who you’re against, who’s judging and what kind of a mood they’re in. I think a film like this about women is not so common, so the female themes may have distracted from him. Also, it was a phenomenal year for Australian film with strong male performances in many bigger films that received much wider distribution. It’s hard for the little guy to be noticed!
Hounds of Love (2016)
HoTS: Do you plan to continue making films in Australia or will we see you moving to LA in the future?
BY: I’ve been in LA for the better half of a year working on the new film, BUT I’ll be back in Australia very soon to work on a film I’m very excited about.
HoTS: You’re currently working on your newest project Extinction, can you tell us a little bit about it?
BY: It’s a story about a dude who must reconnect with his family emotionally if he’s to save them from an otherworldly invasion. We shot in Serbia during the first half of 2017 and I’m just finishing it up now. I worked with Michael Pena, Lizzy Caplan, Emma Booth, Mike Colter, Israel Broussard and many other great actors on it. It was fun to try my hand at science fiction and together with the team, I’ve tried hard to make something a little different which I hope an audience appreciates.
Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: What do you think of the Australian movie scene itself, and its rise in popular culture within the last decade through filmmakers like Greg McLean, Leigh Whannell and James Wan and even the likes of Joel and Nash Edgerton?
BY: I think it’s really hard to make films in Australia. It’s really great to see filmmakers like those you’ve mentioned really making a name for themselves internationally. I hope it continues that way. In Australia, you’re very unlikely to get rich from film, so I feel like the filmmakers we have a driven by passion which comes across in their work ethic.
HoTS: What advice can you give to any filmmaker around the globe working on projects right now, within the independent film market?
BY: Be bold. Make choices that are risky and be true to your own vision. No one wants to see another version of Hounds of Love or anything else so find your own story and tell it in a way that only you could. To break through your film must have an element that makes it stand out amongst others in its genre. This will come from bold choices.
It might sound obvious, but cast good actors and pay them. Even if you don’t pay yourself. One off performance and the whole world you are creating will come tumbling down.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The Rise of Australian Horror and How Hounds of Love Relates To It

The Rise of Australian Horror and How Hounds of Love Relates To It

In the last decade or so, we have seen a surge in Australian horror films (and the filmmakers themselves), gaining notoriety within the world of mainstream and independent horror.

So when throughout 2017 the film on many people’s lips was Australian filmmaker Ben Young’s Hounds of Love (2016), many were not surprised.

Hounds of Love (2016)With films like Wolf Creek (2005), Charlie’s Farm (2014), The Tunnel
(2011), Red Billabong (2016), Wyrmwood(2014), The Babadook (2014), The Loved Ones (2009), Rogue(2007), Dying Breed(2008), Black Water (2007), Lake Mungo (2008), Lemon Tree Passage (2014) , Storm Warning (2007) and much much more on people’s minds, it was no surprise as to how well received Hounds of Love would be.

We cannot forget the Australian equivalent of the video nasties of he by gone era, which are gaining a resurgence as cult status films since the releases to DVD and Blu-ray. In this genre, affectionately referred to down under as Ozploitation films, we see films like The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), Next of Kin (1982), Inn of the Damned (1975), Night of Fear (1972), Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 – from 1982), Patrick (1978), and the most popularly known, Razorback (1984).

Australia has given the world filmmakers like Greg McLean, George Miller, Alex Proyas, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, and acting talents such as Ryan Kwanten, Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth, Eric Bana, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn, Anthony LaPaglia, Radha Mitchell, Costas Mandylor, Joel Edgerton, Rod Taylor, Portia De Rossi, Nathan Jones, Emily Browning, or even Richard Roxburgh.

However, it is “the little Aussie battler” (a colloquial term Australians use for the underdog) that Australia itself adores.

Hounds of Love (2016)

In Hounds of Love, Ben Young has cast the phenomenally underrated but familiar actor Stephen Curry in the lead as John White. Curry has always been known for his dramatic and comedic roles but has also appeared in more popular genre films such as the prior mentioned Rogue and hilariously oddball film Cut (2000) with Molly Ringwald. Curry delivers an amazingly brutal and sublime performance as the twisted John White. He demonstrates an unnatural cruelty and contempt for those around him and a need to feel superior, through simple vocal inflections and body language.

His co-star Emma Booth, who plays his wife Evelyn White in the film, is known for her role in the Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender film, directed by Joel Schumacher, Blood Creek (2009). Booth shows a kindness and fragility that is hidden behind a rougher, more brash exterior. At times we empathize with her characters, yet at others, you loathe her – especially when we see how cruel she truly can be.

The duo kidnap and hold Vicki Maloney, portrayed by actress Ashleigh Cummings, hostage. Cummings is known for her fleeting work on the popular Australian soap opera Home and Away and appearance in the apocalyptic young adult film Tomorrow When The War Began. In Hounds of Love, Cummings delivers a performance so wrought with emotions that you ultimately feel your heart sink for her plight on screen. We want to see Vicki escape her torturous captivity, but we want her to get justice for what the Whites have done to her. Cummings actually won the Fedeora Award for Best Actress in a Debut Film at the Venice Film Festival for her portrayal of Vicki Maloney.

Hounds of Love (2016)

Young’s direction of his three leads and the amazingly powerful script he had crafted for them creates an atmospheric thriller based loosely on the true story of Catherine and David Birnie (a couple from Western Australia who abducted, raped, tortured and murdered four women in 1986), with some startling likenesses. Hounds of Love relies on its three leads and will appeal anyone who has an interest in powerful thrillers.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EDITORIALS, MOVIE REVIEWS, OPINION, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
FIRST LOOK – Upcoming Release for Domiziano Christopharo’s Red Krokodil (2012)

FIRST LOOK – Upcoming Release for Domiziano Christopharo’s Red Krokodil (2012)

Set for January 23, 2018, Unearthed Films’ CEO Stephen Biro contacted House of Tortured Souls with a digital press kit for the DVD/Blu-ray release of Red Krokodil.

According to the press release, here’s what we can expect:

Red Krokodil is the story of one man (played by Brock Madson), addicted to the mind-numbing drug Krokodil. He finds himself alone in a post-nuclear city similar to Chernobyl. His physical decay, caused by the massive intake of drugs, is mirrored by his inner world, as reality mixes with hallucinations.
The decomposition of the flesh caused by Krokodil is severe in its graphic, yet slow destruction, madness, and desperation are rampant as one man’s addiction to the drug runs out of control.
Director, Domiziano Christopharo depicts a psychological condition that brings a total detachment from oneself and from the surrounding world, Red Krokodil is a dark trip, with no way out.

Domiziano Christopharo is an Italian independent film director known for having worked with various notable filmmakers in the past, including Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust), Frank Laloggia (Lady In White), and Carlo De Mejo (City of Living Dead).

Christopharo is also known for his ongoing work to try and revive the erotic horror genre, familiar to many fans of the Giallo movement as well as fans of filmmakers such as Fellini and Argento – often having reviewers drawing comparisons with the two filmmakers and his own work.

Christopharo’s body of work includes House of Flesh Mannequins (2008), The Museum of Wonders (2009), Hyde’s Secret Nightmare (2010), Shock – My Abstraction of Death (2011), HP Lovecraft: Two Left Arms (2012), Doll Syndrome (2014), and much more.

Many have characterized Christopharo’s work as being pornographic in nature, but he prefers to respond with a quote from Picasso:

Art is never chaste and we should keep her away from pure ignorants. If it were chaste, it wouldn’t be art at all.

So far reviews have been favorable for the film’s release with Steven Paul from Beneath The Undergound calling it a film in which “you will know that you have truly experienced something special”, Barbara Tourette from Dark Veins saying “Brock Madson’s performance is a mirror of the psychic and physical consequences caused by Krokodil”, and Seth Poulin from Celluloid Terror defining it as having a “powerful message…that is open to personal interpretation and what you take the film for is exactly what it is”.

To nab your copy, visit the Unearthed Films Official Web Site.

Red Krokodil (2012)

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, HORROR NEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments