MOVIE REVIEWS

MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter All Boys Wish For But Shouldn’t

Hello, I am the Horror Madam, and I am honored to be joining all of the amazing writers at House of Tortured Souls!
I thought it would be nice to start out here with a lighter horror film to get my feet wet, so I’m going to talk about a new dark comedy horror film called The Babysitter. It is a Netflix original film released this past October 2017, and it is only available on Netflix at this time.
Emily Alyn Lind and Judah Lewis in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.When The Babysitter starts out, it is reminiscent of a John Hughes movie: a nerdy young boy in glasses with a cute girl just waiting for the bus in front of their nice school. You realize quickly that this is not a normal boy going through puberty while pining for the girl next door, and when the girl’s father pulls up in his bitchin’ mid-life crisis hot rod and gives our young protagonist grief, you start to get curious. But it’s certainly not horrific. Yet.
Next, we see the boy, Cole, played by Judah Lewis (who, according to IMDb was a finalist to play Spider-Man but lost out to Tom Holland), riding home on his bike. Like you would see in any coming of age tale, Cole is harassed by some neighborhood bullies. Unlike other movies of that ilk, Cole is saved by his extremely beautiful babysitter, Bee, played by Austrailian actress Samara Weaving (who appeared in Mayhem and the amazing Ash vs The Evil Dead). You may be asking yourself, where have I heard that last name? Samara is the niece of the very talented Hugo Weaving from such great films as The Matrix and V for Vendetta. Good genes in that family.
Bee shows up with the sun shining on her making her look like a guardian angel sent from above and the song “Boys Wanna Be Her” by Peaches playing in the background, setting the stage for her character’s persona. But what you see is what she wants you to see, hiding her true intentions. More on that in a moment because The Babysitter uses enough of its own foreshadowing.
Samara Weaving in The Babysitter (2017) (bikini) crop / Fair use doctrine.Now we start to see the relationship between Bee and Cole which includes a great dance scene and a short slow motion presentation of their time together including a great homage To Fast Times At Ridgemont High with Bee coming out of the pool in the same bikini that Phoebe Cates wore in said film. We also see a game that Cole made up about what would your Intergalactic Dream Team be when facing The Big Bad. Bee’s answer is great and on point showing further that she is a young boy’s wet dream.
Cole wants to see what happens when he goes to sleep and Bee’s boyfriend comes over, so he pretends to sleep and slips down to see what is going on. There is a group of people with Bee, and they are mixing spin the bottle with a truth or dare game. This involves some very hot girl-on-girl kissing and movie quotes. Notably, one particular line involving Fredo from The Godfather. But I digress. The boyfriend in question is a teenage nerd who is very uncomfortable at the party. He is afraid to kiss Bee, but when she finally calms him down and kisses him it looks like the young man has entered bliss but that is when the madness ensues.Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.
From that moment on, we see so many fun and extremely bloody deaths. And I am not kidding about the amount of blood, at one point I remember thinking that it reminded me of old Monty Python skits where copious amounts of blood just spurt and spurt and spurt again.
Warning: Spoilers
The Babysitter was written by Brian Duffield, who also penned Insurgent and Jane Got a Gun, and Directed by McG (also from Michigan), who is best known for one of the longest-running shows on TV, Supernatural. The parents are played by Leslie Bibb from Talladega Nights and Ken Marino from We Are the Millers and Role Models, who provide even more comic relief.
I really enjoyed this movie for its clever wit, great lines, monstrously bloody scenes, and a killer soundtrack, especially a climax scene with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I hope I gave you enough insight without spoiling too much, I hate when reviewers do that. So with that, I leave you with the tagline “That dream girls can be a nightmare”. Or maybe they are just the Big Bad.
Posted by Horrormadam in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MAKE UP AND EFFECTS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS OF GENRE AND TWISTS THEREIN, STAFF PICKS, TELEVISION REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

Play Day (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Greg Mazzola; Writer: Sophia Rose; Stars: Sophia Rose, Thomas Downey, Jim Nieb, Craig Tate, Harrison Samuels; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Your fiendish reporter bringing you another offering from the 2017 Shriekfest. In this short, a lonely man named Steve (Thomas Downey) is looking for that special somebody on the Internet. Nothing wrong with that except instead of a dating site he has chosen an online service called Play Day. Little does he know his payment for this might just be in blood. Writer Sophia Rose and director Greg Mazzola manage to take the premise of online love something terribly routine and totally turn it on its head and the end result is incredibly different. The core concept is explored just enough to give the audience a clear idea of what’s going on without feeling the need to over-explain things. Also, it tapped into a psycho sexual-dark web theme which I did not expect and was impressed with. On the technical side, Mazzola gives the low budget film a professional gloss with nice visuals, good editing, and a nice score. My one complaint with this short was actor Thomas Downey. While I think he’s a solid actor he defiantly went a little too campy which in a certain context is alright but it doesn’t help when it somewhat undercuts the creepy vibes the film is building. When Downey starts to go really barking mental I thought the short totally went off the rails but thankfully a good ending helped save it. Play Day may have some issues however I couldn’t hate it because it’s really interesting and it takes a familiar troupe and completely remixes it, which is something I love to see. I very much hope that Greg Mazzola and writer Sophia Rose expand this into a feature even if it was just 80 mins or so. Overall, Play Day is great little film, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in store.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Conduit (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Conduit (2017) at Shriekfest

Conduit (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Tim Earnheart; Writer: Tim Earnheart; Stars: Corrie Fleming, Matt Dy, Tyler Totten, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Bareceloux, S Joe Downing; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror, Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again! Your fiendish reporter coming at you with another short film presented at this year’s Shriekfest. Conduit is written and directed by Tim Earnheart whose previous shorts include Working with Damien (2016) and 180 (2015). The FBI is set into an upscale cabin to rescue a little girl who was kidnapped. Little do they know that something far more sinister is waiting for them inside. Conduit is really a brilliant little horror film, and Earnheart takes the ghost film and turns it on its head, taking the tropes and tossing them right out the window. The added action of the FBI raid further gives this an altogether different spin on the supernatural subgenre. With strong and eerie imagery, slick professional editing and a great score, it struck all the right cords with this film critic. Thankfully the audience isn’t hit over the head with backstory and I love how things are purposely left vague. In fact, I hope Conduit gets expanded into a feature film because I`d love to be filled in on the mysterious aspects. This feature is effects driven and thankfully the FX expert, HM Grandy, does a great job crafting some truly grisly and realistic make-up – especially when you consider this was done on what I am guessing was a modest budget. Supernatural films are tricky to make effectively and without clichés, but Tim Earnheart and company go into it with an above interesting premise and keeps it fresh with great visuals, gore, and a fantastic ending.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Ghosted (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Ghosted (2017) at Shriekfest

Ghosted (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Writer: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Stars: Asger Folmann, Shandel Love, Tony Nevada; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again, from your creepy correspondent coming at you again with another short film review from LA’s Shriekfest earlier this month. So far I’ve really enjoyed every short from this film festival — which is pretty darn rare. However, all good things must come to an end, and that end here is with Ghosted. A woman named Sandy (Shandel Love) goes to a shrink with a strange problem, namely that she is haunted by a jealous ghost (Asger Folmann). Written and directed by Sevgi Isabel Cacina, Ghosted is definitely the first weak link I have come across (so far). The biggest issue is a sloppy plot which is not compelling and has aspects that seem needless and, in the case of the ending, confusing. This is labeled as a horror comedy and also a “Fable” (according to the Vimeo link), but, honestly, I didn’t get any horror or comedy. And that’s a shame because I think the set up is an interesting one. Sadly, the acting, while not terrible is not at the same level as the previous fest entries. It’s not all bad as the film is very well shot, and it makes the most of a modest budget. It is also clear Cacina knows how to put together a film with a nice flow editing-wise. I really hate to dump on a movie because even short films take a great amount of time and energy to make, but this one just didn’t have a strong, focused screenplay, and it greatly suffered for it. I still would like to see what else Sevgi Cacina has to offer in the future.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

The Armoire (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Evan Cooper; Writers: Evan Cooper, Brodie Cooper; Stars: Hannah Barlow, Strange Dave, Evan Cooper, Bradley Rose; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello! Your fiendish reporter here kicking off my Shriekfest viewing with The Armoire, an impressive little gem by newcomers Evan Cooper and writer Brodie Cooper. I watched a lot of short films and, frankly, most of them are terrible. But, to be fair, it’s much harder in some ways to make an effective short film because you have to perfectly nail the story theme and mood in a brief amount of time. So when I viewed Evan Cooper’s debut The Armoire, I was pleasantly surprised. Emma (Hannah Barlow) is an aspiring actress who just moved into an apartment in LA and must find cheap furniture as she is on a shoestring budget. She seems to hit the jackpot when she finds a wonderful old armoire. Has she made the find of the century or does something sinister dwell within? Cooper skillfully avoids the pitfalls a lot of filmmakers make by telling a simple story yet allowing the true horror and suspense to slowly build and build like a tightrope until the frightening finale. His methods for creating this are equally simple, utilizing great camera work and creepy sound design rather than flashy gimmicks or MTV quick cuts -just pure old-fashioned storytelling. I also love the fact that Evan and writer Brodie Cooper didn’t feel the need to overexplain things, giving it a kind of wonderful and scary simplicity. He also doesn’t shy away from having some mystery and it leaves you thinking about it after the credits roll. The bulk of the film centers around one actor, Hannah Barlow and thankfully she has what it takes to carry the film. Her acting is solid and she has a natural ease that is both refreshing and also makes her relatable. The fact that this is the filmmakers’ first short film is even more impressive, and I cannot wait to see what wonderful tricks they have up their cinematic sleeves. Watch this in the dark if you dare. I am okay with admitting it made me jump.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Better Watch Out (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Better Watch Out (2016)

With the holidays approaching us at a rapid pace, it’s time to break out timely classics to relive fond memories both old and new, and also welcome new breeds of terror and macabre based around our favorite holidays. Which brings me to a new film that I not only had the pleasure of viewing but also had the most fun while watching, too!!!
Better Watch Out is a film that takes place around the Christmas season. It opens with a clever Christmas text soaked in blood red over a gorgeous small suburban town covered by inches of the white stuff and beautifully decorated houses from top to bottom while a cheerful Christmas song plays to make you feel all gooey inside at first, even though you know that feeling won’t stay calm for long and soon your bones will be shaking.
This is how most holiday horror films should start out.
Better Watch Out 3 / Fair use doctrine.Luke, played by Levi Miller (Pan), is a 12-year-old who has the hots for 17-year-old Ashley, played by Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, Scare Campaign) who is coming over to babysit while Luke’s parents head off to a Christmas party. After talking over his plan with his best friend Garrett, played by Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Paper Planes), about how tonight is the night he will finally score with his babysitter, Ashley arrives and Garrett says his goodbye and rushes home to leave the two alone. Within seconds after Garrett leaves, Luke quickly tries charming her by drinking wine, watching horror movies, and talking trash on guys she has dated in the past, making it known that he, in fact, has a crush on her.
Better Watch Out 1 / Fair use doctrine.While she spends the majority of the time on the phone with her present boyfriend, Luke spends his time alone sitting on the couch thinking of how he can impress the girl of his dreams. That all changes when there is a knock on the door and a pizza is delivered without anyone in the house calling for one. Could it have been Luke’s parents or could it be the start of a night they will never forget? The two realize that someone or something is breaking in the house with a shotgun and from there the film takes a horrific wrong turn with surprises around every corner and laughs as well.
Better Watch Out 4 / Fair use doctrine.Better Watch Out was a fun romp from start to finish. It’s 90 minutes of clever dialogue, tension build, and overall a bloody good time. I can’t express how much fun I had while viewing this film. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its running time, and it never falls short of anything. All questions are answered, and the pacing was highly acceptable. If I wasn’t laughing, I was cringing and ready for the following minutes to unfold in front of my eyes. This will definitely be one to add the list of holiday favorites each year.
Better Watch Out6 / Fair use doctrine. / Fair use doctrine.If you’re a fan of holiday horror, especially Christmas-themed horror, then you better give this a look. You won’t regret it. At all.
Better Watch Out is now available in selected cinemas as well as VOD platforms.
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Jeepers Creepers III (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Jeepers Creepers III (2017)

Jeepers! What the Hell Did I Just Watch?

First things first, as a fan of the first two films from writer and director Victor Salva, I was highly excited when news broke that the third film in the Jeepers Creepers franchise was finally moving forward. After finding out that the film would only get a special one night screening, I rushed to get my tickets because I knew that the film was going to sell out and I would be surrounded by other fans of the Creeper. And that is just what happened. It was a packed house, and everyone seemed quite eager to check out the new entry that has been in talks since Jeepers Creepers 2 hit theaters back in the summer of 2002.
Jeepers Creepers III - poster / Fair use doctrine.The film opens directly after the events of the first film. The police force is in shock after witnessing a hideous winged figure fly out a window with Darry. Moments later, we are surrounding the Creeper’s iconic automobile with the ominous tag “BEATNGU “. Brandon Smith returns as Sgt. Tubbs, who is trying to put the pieces together with the rest of his team, and within seconds we are introduced to Sheriff Tashtego, played by Stan Shaw (Rocky, Snake Eyes, and Harlem Nights) who already knows what the town is dealing with since he was around to see it 23 years prior. Sheriff Tashtego and Sgt. Tubbs team up to take this ancient living creature out for good. We are then introduced to Addison (Gabrielle Haugh), who lives on a farm with her batshit crazy grandmother, played by the very talented Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe, Stepfather 2, and Rob Zombie’s 31), who seems to have ongoing conversations about her being in danger with her deceased son, whom the Creeper took the last time he was in town.
Within the first six minutes of the film, I knew right away what I was in for and if I was going to enjoy the new chapter. Let’s just say, after the six-minute mark, I realized what I was watching was a dud. The majority of the film was shot in the daytime, and that was a huge mistake (number one of many). The makeup effects were dreadful, and the Creeper resembled a bad Halloween costume that anyone could pick up at Wal*Mart for $6.88. Last, but certainly not least, the visual effects were so laughable that it looked as if they paid some sixth grader a bag of M&M’s to do the job. On top of all this, there was absolutely no tension built, and the characters weren’t very likable, except for Sgt. Tubbs and Sheriff Tashtego, but not even they could save the film. It’s a shame to say that this is the weakest film in the franchise; no effort whatsoever was put forth to make it worthy of the Jeepers Creepers name. The audience should have been jumping out of their seats and rooting for the Creeper, but instead I am quite sure that the majority of them were, like me, wiping tears from their eyes because they just spent over $30.00 for two tickets to a film that will be forgotten by the time they drive home from the theater.Jeepers Creepers III 02 / Fair use doctrine.
I was really hoping for so much more, but, in the end, how much can someone really expect from a sequel that was made almost 15 years later? The answer: not much at all.
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in HORROR HEROES, MOVIE REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

The Devil's Candy poster / Fair use doctrine.The Devil’s Candy is a 2015 horror film both written and directed by Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones (2009)) and starring Ethan Embry, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Shiri Appleby, and Kiara Glasco. I must admit – if not for the recommendation from a friend regarding this film, I may never have seen it. I’m glad he told me about it! The Devil’s Candy seemed to be kind of a sleeper hit that really packs a punch!
The Devil’s Candy is the story of a young family who purchase an old farmhouse in southern Texas and quickly realize that along with the mortgage comes a horrific history that threatens them all. Ethan Embry plays Jesse Hellman, a loving husband, father, metal head, and painter. After moving into the family’s new home, Jesse becomes almost possessed through his painting. Pruitt Taylor Vince co-stars as Ray, a man who suffers from demonic voices in his head, has been on an ultra-violent killing spree of young children, saying he needs to feed them to him. But Ray is also having a homecoming – to the same home that Embry and family now inhabit.
As Jesse’s paintings become more and more detailed and violent, Ray gets closer and closer to the home, as do his abductions and brutal murders. Ray suffered from violent tendencies as a child, even being hospitalized due to them, and now he wants to come home.
Ethan Embry, known for playing fun-loving, almost goofy, characters (Dutch, Empire Records, Can’t Hardly Wait), may seem an odd choice. In my opinion, though, Embry needs more serious/darker roles because HE NAILED IT! Although he plays the good guy and proud father in The Devil’s Candy, he displays a dark side through his character’s possession and is brilliant!
The Devil's Candy - Pruitt Taylor Vince 02 / Fair use doctrine.Co-star Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine, Monster, and Identity) is NEVER a letdown in his performances, and his stellar job as Ray Smilie is so believable that he gives you nightmares during the day.
The Devil's Candy - Ethan Embry / Fair use doctrine.The film moves quickly but doesn’t skip ahead or leave any stone unturned in the storytelling. My only gripe with lies with the film’s lighting. While all normal shots are filmed fine, too many of the action scenes are near unwatchable. I’ve viewed the filmed a few times now (yes, I’m a fan of it), and it’s just too dark no matter how the lighting is in the room. I’ve even tried adjusting the contrast on my TV set. Still not helping. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind when a film has off screenshots that make you use your own imagination. Oftentimes it’s more effective – and disturbing. But when a scene is shot on film for the audience to view but is too dark for viewers to make out anything, then I have a problem with it.
The Devil’s Candy is currently playing on Netfilx, and I seriously can’t stress enough that you should sit down and watch this it. Truly this is one of the best overall horror films I’ve seen in a while.The Devil's Candy title / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

When we are kids, we watch movies, read books, and hear stories that we carry with us throughout our lives. IT, the super long novel by Stephen King, is one that King’s Constant Readers, as well as most horror fans, have carried with us through our youth. The original adaptation, released in 1990, as a miniseries, started with the youth of Derry, Maine, and ended with the adults when Pennywise returned 27 years later. Of course, the time the film was made plays a large factor in how it was portrayed. So we have to look at it that way in regards to content and exactly what boundaries could be pushed and what couldn’t. Since it was a TV miniseries and the rules were different then, IT really was a different adaptation altogether.
Looking back on the original, I have always felt it to be rather boring and a little too much on the cheesy side. This opinion does not reflect on the actors themselves, but on the direction and the script. I do not speak for everyone, but for me, the story could have been told in a way that wasn’t so much like an after school special about talking to strangers and more like an actual horror film. In other words, the miniseries was like a Goosebumps version compared to what we are allowed to see now in films. IT was very kid friendly so to speak, and for the time it was made, it was definitely on the verge of causing concern for the people of the world. Tim Curry is a great actor and did very well putting that scare into the youth of the early 90s. As horror fans, we need to go into this re-envisioning of the story with fresh eyes and a fresh mind – regardless of who you are. Try to avoid comparing and contrasting both films. And now, on to how this new movie, which was not only a better portrayal but also much scarier.
When I walk into the theater, I was actually amazed that we had fancy seating, all recliner like and cozy. That was a bit weird to me as I’m used to the poor people theaters with sticky floors and immensely uncomfortable seating. Big kudos to United Artists theater in Fishers, Indiana for being awesome in that regard.
I am pretty sure there were 20 minutes of previews, and a couple of them looked really good. Saw 8, though, that horse has been beaten to death. Give it up already. Mother is, I’m pretty sure, a spin-off of Rosemary’s Baby. I can’t for the life of me remember the two that actually looked really good though. I’ll figure it out later. Ha!
Spoiler warning skull_smallRight from the start, the movie gets you all hyped up because it’s set in 1988-89 which, for many of the movie-going public, is when we were young and have some of our earliest memories of life. Those that are into that whole holding on to nostalgia, this is perfect for that. The soundtrack alone was fantastic, and the fashion, lingo, and settings definitely invoke the late 80s. The movie starts with Billy (Jaeden Lieberher) and Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott) in a bedroom making a paper boat with Georgie super excited to get it going. Bill instructs Georgie to get some wax to waterproof the paper boat and allow it to float. The foreshadowing comes immediately upon Georgie entering the basement, scared but carrying a 1980s-era walkie talkie that squealed and made a lot of noise to communicate with Billy on the whereabouts of the wax. Yes, that’s important to the film.
Not five minutes later, Georgie is running down the street chasing the paper boat in the rain, but the boat is at the mercy of the water and quickly falls into the a sewer drain. Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård) appears in the drain with his famously evil grin and gains the attention of Georgie, who doesn’t really find it odd that a clown is just hangin’ ‘round in the sewer. There was some struggle, some blood, and a lot of screaming. I’ll just say this: those who haven’t seen the original or read the book, that’s all you need to know; however, those who have seen or read the original know just how fast IT jumps the gun and gets bloody fast.
Flash forward to 1989, almost a year after Georgie goes missing, and the kids are all leaving school. Each one is focused on for character development, a really cool and quick way for the movie to get past all the rhetoric and get to the action on what is to come. The bully, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), and his crew terrorize all of the “Losers Club” and just sets a tone that you may believe he is working with Pennywise to abduct kids so that he is safe from harm. There wasn’t a lot of storytelling in this film it was really straight on, get down to business. Pennywise shows up to each kid that was focused on in Derry, and presenting fears to them that could cause them to panic and freeze, enabling Pennywise to snatch them up. What he didn’t realize is that they’re stronger than that. As the stories cross together, the Losers Club all hang out and become closer enjoying some of their summer. It is finally opened up that these things are happening. Each kid giving a brief story of what they saw. Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff) sees a creepy painting that frightens him, and the woman in it comes to life. Michael Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), who is home schooled, sees Pennywise hanging in a meat locker. Beverly Marsh has the infamous drain incident where blood comes shooting out like – not unlike Johnny Depp’s death scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Eddie Kaspbrak, my favorite character, sees a leper, and Billy, of course, sees Georgie. Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) also has an encounter. Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is the only one who (I think) had not seen Pennywise beforehand. Richie makes it a point to mention this as well. Is he funny and smart sassy? Very much so and way much more so than the Seth Green was in his portrayal. Richie really sets the comedic tone for the movie always cracking jokes about sex, penis size, and just generally making fun of everyone. I can relate to this guy pretty well. For example, when Ben gets cut up and beaten, Richie says something about him bleeding Hamburger Helper. HA! So this kept the lightheartedness pretty well throughout the movie even though there were dire things happening all around them.
After a few dozen jump scares and plot development, the kids come together and discover that the key to finding him is in the Well House, which we see is an abandoned and almost certainly condemned house that probably shouldn’t be standing. Eddie, Billy, and Richie man up and go inside to look around. With some fear tactics and an encounter with Pennywise, Bev comes in and stabs the clown in the head giving some wiggle room for the boys to get out of the there. I know I’m vaguely telling what’s up. But y’all don’t need too much info because this is where IT really takes off.
So, with all of that said, the movie from beginning to end was fantastic – and we actually see who and what floats and where “down here” is (which always bugged me about the miniseries). Finally, the Losers Club comes together and decides that if IT comes back, then they will return and fight it again, leaving room for a sequel of course. However, I don’t feel like it needs one. Still, ending like with a “just in case” situation was good after everything played out as it did and they got free. The ending was pretty solid and could be left standing as is. To me, this movie works a standalone film on its own accord. Not only was the direction solid, the script excellent, and the acting on point, but it was seriously a great scary movie. The way I see it is that the original was something thrown together because someone had an idea, and at the time was a good one. This film, though, had a lot of thought and time put in into it, which gave it a better quality story and made it much scarier, creating a fearfest that I believe ANY horror fan can appreciate.
Check out what some other attendees thought of IT in my video below.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As many staff members are attending IT, there will be more reviews to come. Please stand by.
-Woofer McWooferson, Editor-in-Chief
Posted by Schock in MOVIE REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Sharkenstein (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Sharkenstein (2016)

Holy crap. You have GOT to see this movie.
Sharkenstein is not your average bad shark movie. This one takes bad shark movies to a whole new level. It’s one of those movies that makes you wonder exactly what the hell the creators were going for. Did they know how bad it was going to be? Was the goal to make a hilariously awful film? How long did they film before they decided to chuck it all in the bin and go for broke with a bat shit level of insanity?
This is not a quality bad shark film like the Sharknado films. It’s not even a Sharktopus. This movie makes the special effects in those films look like Avatar. I’m not sure if the shark in this film is a puppet, claymation, or a combination of both. Whatever it is, it’s hilarious. Seriously, the animated sharks in Shark Tale were more convincing and terrifying.
The story is equally awful and ridiculous. It all has to do with three “kids” on vacation (Greta Volkova, James Carolus, and Titus Himmelberger). They’re referred to as kids in the film, but I’m pretty sure the one dude is pushing 40. Also, there’re Nazis, a mad doctor (Jeff Kirkendall), and the brain and heart of Frankenstein’s monster.
I’m not really sure how it all ties together because I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t hear the movie. Does it even matter? At one point the brain and heart of Frankenstein’s monster are put into the shark to make it immortal.
Now, I’m no expert on transplanting human hearts and brains into sea creatures, but I’m pretty sure it’s a bit more in depth than the three and a half minutes they put into it.
The story and battle culminates on land (yes, you read that correctly) at a lighthouse filled with a shit ton of explosives that mysteriously look exactly like road flares. There’s also an angry mob, a hunky but none-too-bright harbor worker (Ken Van Sant), and something about a retired porn star who thankfully remains clothed.
The last part of the film is akin to some sort of fever dream I once had when I was all hopped up on prescription cough syrup and had a fever of 105°.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s not great. It’s not even good. It’s awful, but it’s exactly the kind of awful that makes it endlessly entertaining.
Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, 1 comment
Dakota Bailey: A Retrospective Review of His Three Feature Films

Dakota Bailey: A Retrospective Review of His Three Feature Films

Dakota Bailey is a Colorado filmmaker who began with a simple goal: to create movies he himself would want to watch. Since 2015, Bailey has created some short films and has currently put the finishing touches on his third feature The Acid Sorcerer. This is a revisit of Bailey’s films My Master Satan and American Scumbags. It also features a preview review for The Acid Sorcerer.

MY MASTER SATAN:
3 TALES OF DRUG FUELED VIOLENCE
(2016)

My Master Satan - DVD coverThis film was shot between March 2015 and April 2016. It is an independent product of R.A. Productions and primarily its writer, director, producer, and actor is Dakota Bailey.
This is an anthology horror film that features three interconnected tales revolving around serial killer/druggie Alister (Dakota Bailey) and his equally demented serial killer friends, Woody, Charlie, Bubba, and Dealin’ Dick, which takes the viewer deep into a seedy underworld of crime, drugs, and murder.
In the first tale, Bubba (Matt Marshall) enlists Alister’s help to exhume the corpse of his deceased unfaithful wife who he murdered. Afterward, the two of them decide to take some LSD resulting in an acid trip where they briefly see Satan.
In the second tale, Alister and his twisted friend Charlie (Brian Knapp) go out for a night of deviance and committing crimes, such as home invasions and murder.
Finally, in the third and final tale, Alister and Bubba go on a quest for more LSD, meeting their serial killer friend Woody and committing violent acts along the way, and finally having the ultimate ritualistic acid trip that once again brings them face to face with Satan himself.
Firstly, a big thank you to Dakota Bailey for sharing this film with me upon release. I was honoured when I was asked to review it and honestly getting an email from “MY MASTER SATAN” was quite surprising to say the least (at 9am on a Sunday morning).
As already stated, they are stories laced with drugs, violence, and ultimately murder. Each character has his own evil dance with the devil and wrestles with good and bad within the film. We see these men decline into drug induced madness, we watch as people die to feed their addictions and new lust for death, and we recoil when we witness the acid trips that guide them to Satan.
The biggest Satan scene, shot in a style reminiscent of an Andy Warhol crazed moment, was a truly inspiring choice. It felt like a bizarre and very maniacal acid trip. The deaths themselves were well filmed and clearly considerate of a technique I love – “Less is Best”. We didn’t need to see each piece of the deaths graphically. A simple blood splatter, a pillow on a face, or even a well used camera angle was much more effective.
I noticed the sound quality was sketchy in parts (and I must point out I had been warned prior to viewing). This did hinder some parts, where I felt the dialogue really drove the scene and is one thing perhaps the filmmakers can work on. There were some magnificently shot scenes throughout. Whether it was a simple shot of the cemetery or the pick axe being dragged. A shadowy silhouette digging, and primarily the driving/outdoor scenes.
The aggressively enjoyable thrash metal that interjects in between scenes fits in well with the gritty and unseemly atmosphere throughout the themes of this 70 minute film. We feel the harsh reality of an insane life on drugs and the desperation for escape from the depressing wheel of life (in a low socio-economic area).
These three stories seemed so well connected and the small passages, injected within the scenes, was very well thought out. I liked the stop start motion that was used to introduce each character, giving us a moment to process who we’re meeting within their first scene. This helped with following the story and characters (due to the sound issues).
All in all a great effort by all involved.

AMERICAN SCUMBAGS (2016)

American Scumbags - DVD CoverThis review is about the latest offering from My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence creator Dakota Bailey for R.A. Productions. Yet again (like with My Master Satan), we are introduced to an interesting collective of characters, who each have their own story to tell within the intertwining plot.
This time our focus is on the stories of Johnny (Dakota Bailey) , Billy (Darien Fawkes), Chester (Fred Epstein) , Wheelin’ Deals (L.B.), Lucifer (Nick Benning), Angel (Bianca Valentino), The Ex (Katy Katzar), The Boyfriend (Bill Chafer), Teddy (V.B.), and Chester’s victim (Laura Ray).
This time around Dakota Bailey showcases some awesome punk songs from the Welsh Punk band Pizzatramp. Using their songs “Ciggy Butt Brain, Scumbag Boogie” and “Taxi Cunts Fuck Off”, Bailey uses them to help gel the scenes of American Scumbags together. I checked out a few more tidbits about Pizzatramp and will say their style, spirit, and attitude is indicative of the punk world and its legion of fans.
The stories within American Scumbags that jump out at the viewer are the dynamic drug dealings of Chester (a lowly dealer with axes to grind all over his patch), Johnny (an addict and Chester’s hired gun for drugs in payment), and Lucifer (a jovial prankster who is determined not to pay what he owes); the exploits of Billy (a violent man who is hell bent on punishing his ex), his ex, and her new boyfriend; and, lastly, the tale of homeless veteran Wheelin’ Deals and his strange interactions with pedophile Teddy.
The standout performance for me was Darien Fawkes as Billy. He was such a natural on screen that I despised and was repulsed by some of his aggression and actions. This is a great indication of Fawkes natural prowess on screen and an ability to be immersed in his character.
Bailey as Johnny omits his usual deep voiced, fearful rogue as he does what he must to satisfy his lust for Heroin. Chester was a fun character and you will either love or hate Epstein’s ability to switch from playful to ill-tempered with such ease. Lucifer had me chuckling with one rather fecal scene, but well done to Nick Benning for bringing that air of jovial disruption to the scumbags’ demises.
Each character was grounded in believable portrayals, and we feel like we are watching a story of love gone sour, drug fueled mayhem, and perversion at its prime. Congratulations on improving the sound quality this time around and making the majority of the film much more fluid and easy to hear. The shots again (yes, even those involving urination) were all well thought out and yet again the less is best approach was well used to produce some of the best violence on screen.
I will say if Cannibal Holocaust’s infamous turtle scene leaves one squeamish, perhaps avoid the scene involving the road kill bunny – I was extremely relieved to read “No animals or people were harmed in the making of this film” as I was taken off guard by that scene myself.
Congratulations, Dakota Bailey and his team, on a well-developed second film.

THE ACID SORCERER (2017)

The Acid Sorcerer - posterThe Acid Sorcerer is a dark and nihilistic horror film that borders between fiction and reality. The film introduces the viewer to a serial killer, a drug addicted couple, a sadistic drug dealer, a cross dressing snuff filmmaker and a prostitute who has HIV. The characters embrace their inner darkness, struggle with morality, come to terms with their mortality, and ultimately meet their demise.
This is Dakota Bailey’s third feature film and it is evident that he is truly growing as an artist.
This time around we are treated visually to some kaleidoscopic imagery of drug addicts on benders at their most intense, characters both rich and raw, and a story laced with lost souls.
First up we meet Smoke, a serial killer guided by evil, played impressively by Dakota Bailey (who also wrote and directed the film). Bailey stumbles through convincingly and, as he is ultimately guided by the evil reaper like character called Loach, we take pity on his misdeeds.
We also meet Vermina (played by Natasha Morgan), a pregnant meth addict, and her concerned partner Crawdad (played by Darien Fawkes– who had a dual role as Loach as well). Each offers up a vulnerability, that keeps the film’s moral compass pointing throughout.
Eyevin is a cruel dealer (played very well by the ever enjoyable Brian Knapp) who convincingly is just all about business. And Ecstasy (played well by Selena Velveteen) is a HIV infected hooker, who meets a tragic demise. Nikki, is a cross dresser with darker desires (played brilliantly by Nick Benning). Nikki was sweet and convincing, yet still deranged and maniacal. I loved Benning’s ability to switch between personas and immerse wholly in his character.
Shot gloriously in black and white, it helps accent the darkness within the shadows and pockets of light which our characters inhabit. The double exposed colourful imagery of the ‘acid trips’ is mind-blowing and offers insight into the madness and mayhem within each character’s life.

All of Dakota Bailey’s films are available at R.A. Productions Store Envy site, except The Acid Sorcerer.
To order The Acid Sorcerer, Bailey has an Indiegogo campaign, with extras for fans to purchase with it ahead of its August 2017 release.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Tapes (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Tapes (2017)

Face the Unknown with The Dark Tapes (2017)

The Dark Tapes (2017) / Fair use DoctrineAfter three long years of dedication and personal funding, Michael McQuown and fellow producers, are proud to present their film The Dark Tapes. This film blends genres with its interlocking story-lines covering horror, fantasy, sci-fi and more. With a crew comprised primarily of himself and four producers (who also served as the primary crew members), The Dark Tapes is Michael McQuown’s first film to direct. Fellow producer, Nicola Odeku gave him the original idea for the story. When asked what three words he would use to describe this film, Michael said, “Twists, Tension and Terror”. This film was 100% independent from any studio but that has not affected its achievements. Among the film festival circuit, The Dark Tapes has won or been nominated for 61 awards across 30 festivals. This includes a nomination for a Rondo Hatton Award for “Best Independent Feature”. You can also find it ranked in the top three highest rated films ever on FoundFootageCritic.com.
The Dark Tapes is a found footage horror anthology film comprised of four primary narratives. As you watch, you will find each story original and interweaving with some great surprises in store for you. The scares are not cheap and the fear is genuine. This film doesn’t rely on jump scares or gore to scare you. It will build the tension until you must turn your lights back on. It proves that you don’t need a big budget to put out a quality film. Dark imagery, good effects and sincere acting drives it to success.
It is now available for purchase on most VOD platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, VUDU, Google Play, Sling TV, Vimeo, Xbox, PlayStation, and more. Due to its popularity, Michael and his crew are already in pre-production working on a sequel titled The Darker Paths. I expect them to lead us even further into the nightmares with this follow-up.
Check out The Dark Tapes at the links below:
Happy Nightmares,
ZombieGurl
Posted by ZombieGurl in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
Netflix – Play or Pass: XX

Netflix – Play or Pass: XX

Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic; Writers: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic; Stars: Natalie Brown, Ron Lea, Melanie Lynskey, Peter DaCunha, Shelia Vand, Seth Duhame, Michael Dyson, Sanai Victoria, Peyton Kennedy; Rating: R; Run Time: 80 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
I always been a huge champion for women in horror, a group I feel like is sorely underrated and sadly ignored. So when I heard about XX a female based horror anthology, I was pretty stoked to say the least. The film opens with a brilliantly creepy Jan Svankmajer inspired stop motion animation which perfectly fits this anthologiy’s tone, that of a beautiful and stylish yet off-putting bit of horror. XX opens strong with “The Box”, based on a Jack Ketchum story about a mysterious man with a box that leads to a disturbing chain reaction to one woman’s family. This is by far the best segment with a strong concept that doesn’t get too carried away and strikes a perfect less-is-more disturbing quality. Next is “The Birthday Party”, which I thought was one of the weaker entries. While I can totally get on board with the dark humor, the plot seemed a bit aimless and not as well developed as the others; however, I do give it bonus points for starring Melanie Lynskey. “Don’t Fall” is the next feature and, like “The Box”, had a simple yet effective concept highlighted by great moody cinematography and well done creature FX. Finally, there is “Her Only Living Son”, a kind of unofficial sequel to Rosemary’s Baby. I`m guessing it was changed just enough to avoid legal action, but true fans of the genre will put two and two together. I have mixed feelings about this segment; while the concept is great, the ending felt rushed.

Play Or Pass:

Play

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the film has its highlights and its weak points but altogether makes for an enjoyable watch. XX is stylish and spooky in equal measure and proves that women can dominate the horror landscape just as well as men. Play this one in the dark with a group of friends.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Heidi (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Heidi (2014)

Haunted doll movies are hit or miss. There are no mediocre horror movies about dolls. They’re either great or they suck. There’s not a lot of middle ground for creepy doll movies, and the same can be said about found footage films. Combining the two is a risky proposition. Heidi attempts both and succeeds in some areas while failing miserably in others.
First off, why do all possessed dolls need to look evil? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of being evil? Evil works best when you don’t know it’s there. I’m about tired of these unsuspecting people coming across an obviously evil doll and then acting all surprised when it eats a dog and starts offing the neighbors.
As far as spooky doll movies go, Heidi is an excellent attempt although the story is mostly straightforward and predictable. The doll is creepy, but not over-the-top creepy. The characters are believable and annoying.
My biggest issue with Heidi isn’t the uninspired story or the questionable actions of the characters; it’s the acting. Terrible, terrible acting. Even by found footage film standards it’s bad, and that’s saying something. I love the found footage genre, but it’s not known for Oscar-worthy performances.
The movie starts by introducing two annoying teenage boys (is there any other kind?) who enjoy pranking people and being obnoxious. One of the boys ends up working for a neighbor, and while rooting through her house, finds the demon doll. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve whatever bad things happen since they went snooping where they shouldn’t have. It’s all downhill from there, with things slowly escalating from doll related hijinks to full blown pet murder, and beyond.
Heidi takes a bit to get going, and the end drags on a longer that it needs to, with a ham-handed scene that jumps between the beauty of life and the grisly details of death. The final scene is worth it though.
The movie is filmed very well, with very little of the “shaky cam” that one would expect from this type of film. There’s also a fair amount of tension with scares being well timed and spaced perfectly throughout the film. Also, there are almost no cheap jump scares, something so many lower budget movie rely on.
Ultimately, Heidi is one of those movies that has an amazing amount of potential but falls short due to an uninspired story and awful acting.
Heidi_scale / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

Director: Ryan Bellgardt; Writers: Ryan Bellgardt, Andy Swanson, Josh McKamie; Stars: Adam Hampton, Katie Burgess, Christian Bellgardt; Rating: Not rated; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
First off, let me say I was pretty excited to get a screener for Gremlin as I was a huge fan of Ryan’s previous film Army of Frankensteins, which was a balls to the wall action horror which played like old school Doom(and that is more than OK with me). But sometimes that excited joy can turn to disappointment. Gremlin, not to be confused with Joe Dante’s seminal horror comedy Gremlins is about a mysterious box hiding a nasty little surprise inside. If you are unlucky enough to receive it, you must pass it along to someone you truly love or it will destroy everyone in its path. As much as I hate to bash Bellgardt, I just have to be honest. Gremlin tries hard to be a family drama wrapped in a high concept monster movie but sadly it struggles to do it right. But to be far this is a tricky thing to pull off correctly but is possible, films like Stake Land and the more recent (and brilliant) The Monster (2016) really mesh the two genres seamlessly.
The film gets weighed down in poorly written dialogue, all over the place acting (and I’m using that term very loosely mind you), and plot holes and contrivances that boggle the mind. And then there is the creature… I mean elephant in the room – that being the really poor CGI (think made for SyFy movie) which takes the audience right out of the film. Part of what I loved about Ryan’s previous film was the fact that it for the most part he used practical effects (and damn well, I thought) so why he would choose to follow it up with a hacky CG film is beyond me. But I think what hampers this project the most is in the painfully earnest way it forgets to have a bit of fun with the monster genre and we, the viewers, are left to wade through tired melodrama. Again, as I mentioned above, marrying the drama and horror genre together really is a hard thing to do successfully, so if you know you can’t, why not have some fun with it?
I will give credit where credit is due and say the film is well shot and Bellgardt clearly knows the technical side of film and he frames and lights things to their upmost effectiveness. It also sports a great score. I so wanted this film to be as creative and enjoyable as Army of Frankensteins, but instead of maturing, Ryan traded in his steampunk Indie cred for something altogether unremarkable. I know I beat this film up, but I can see Mr. Bellgardt was really trying for something different and for that I give him huge props. I am still looking forward to his next film – a mash up of Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games as it seems like a return to Army of Frankensteins style madcap fun.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: WNUF Halloween Special (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: WNUF Halloween Special (2013)

Oh the 80s… What a decade. The great Satanism scare, the dawn of sensational investigative journalism, VCRs, big hair, and all the hairspray and chlorofluorocarbons that destroyed the ozone. (I personally blame hair bands and their excessive use of hairspray for global warming. It’s probably not their fault, but I’m going to blame them anyway. Me and my mullet were innocent, blameless beings.) It’s not very often that a movie comes along that can capture the spirit of the 80s without coming off as kitschy. All too often the makers of those films go overboard with pop culture references and fail to grasp the subtleties of the decade.
Chris LaMartina’s 2013 WNUF Halloween Special is not a stellar film, but in some ways it’s absolutely genius. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film capture the spirit of the late 80s as well as this film. It captures the underlying feeling of the 80s more than it focuses on all of the flashy things we remember about that decade.
WNUF Halloween Special - The Hosts / Fair use doctrine.The premise is pretty simple in concept. It’s an old videocassette containing a standard local news broadcast and a Halloween special, complete with commercials. The news broadcast is pretty boring stuff containing lots of local, believable tidbits. The newscasters, Gavin and Deborah (Richard Cutting and Leanna Chamish) go about their regular banter while hyping up a Halloween special airing later that night hosted by Frank Stewart, a Geraldo Rivera wanna-be (Paul Fahrenkopf). Frank, along with ghost hunting couple the Bergers (Brian St. August and Helenmary Ball), their psychic cat, a Priest (Robert Long II) are investigating a local haunted house in the hopes of encountering a supernatural entity. Of course, things go terribly wrong for the group.
If you weren’t around in the 80s and don’t remember what it was like to record anything directly off of the TV, you probably won’t understand the entertainment and nostalgia in commercials for 900 lines or demolition derbies. Nothing in this film winks at itself. It all seems very believable and realistic.
This is really one of those films that is best viewed from a certain perspective. Something like this is more akin to performance art than a movie. The news portion was as exactly as boring and trite as most local news broadcasts are, the commercials are as repetitive and annoying as they were back then, and the Halloween special portion talks itself up and makes promises it can’t deliver, just like most “Special Reports” do.
Overall, WNUF Halloween Special was an enjoyable film. It wasn’t great, but I don’t think it was supposed to be great. I think it was supposed to be realistic, and they hit the nail on the head in that department.
Posted by Richard Francis in HALLOWEEN, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
SHORT REVIEW: Rainy Season (2017)

SHORT REVIEW: Rainy Season (2017)

“It’s not a rock.”
Fair use doctrine.
As regulars to HoTS can attest, back in October of 2016, I became aware of a short film titled Rainy Season when director Vanessa Ionta Wright reached out to HoTS. A quick look at the information confirmed my suspicion: Rainy Season is an adaptation of a Stephen King story of the same name. Since Rainy Season is one of my favorite stories, I jumped at the chance to cover this. Later, I found out that Wright and fellow Rainy Season executive producer Samantha Kolesnik had organized the first annual Women in Horror Film Festival which is being held September 22 – 24, 2017 – more great news!
Then I got the best news. The short film was finished, and I was offered a chance to view and review it. So, without further ado and with many thanks to Wright and everyone involved in the production (as well as apologies for the delay), here we go.
First, it’s important to note that rarely are Stephen King works solely one tone or another. King is known for the dark comedic streaks that are seamlessly integrated into otherwise horrific and terrifying tales. Second, while King often brings monsters into his stories (“Gray Matter”, “The Raft”, Cujo, IT, The Stand), the real focus is the humans and how they react in extreme situations. It’s well known that stressful situations often result in the worst of mankind being brought to light, but they can also bring out the best in mankind. This is something that King handles quite well and which draws us back time and again to see how things work out for his next victim. Finally, one of King’s greatest gifts is his ability to tell a story in a manner that makes the reader want – need – to finish it. It’s incredibly difficult to translate the words to images in a way that’s going satisfy all fans of the written word. That’s why so few of his works have been effectively adapted into the medium of film and video. It takes a director with a deft touch to bring a King story to life on film, and Vanessa Ionta Wright has that touch.
Rainy Season_Willow General Mercantile & Hardware / Fair use doctrine.Rainy Season follows John Graham (Brian Ashton Smith), a college English professor on a book-writing sabbatical, and his wife Elise (Anne Marie Kennedy) as they arrive in Willow, Maine, for the summer. Stopping in at the Willow Mercantile and Hardware, John and Elise are greeted by elderly local Henry Eden (Kermit Rollison) and his dog. Henry spooks the couple by knowing who they are and why they are there before reminding them of the speed at which news travels in a small town. Henry is soon joined by Laura Stanton (Jan Mary Nelson), another local, as he attempts to convince the Grahams to spend the night out of town. Laura backs up Henry, stressing that they’ve arrived on the exact day of the Rainy Season, but rather than convincing them, her words solidifies the Grahams’ view of the two as not quite right. After making their way to their rental cabin, John and Elise settle in for the night, unaware that they will soon find out the two locals may not be as crazy as they first thought.
Brian Ashton Smith and Anne Marie Kennedy are believable and sympathetic as the loving yet troubled couple who don’t seem entirely at ease with one another. Their chemistry is real, and we get the sense that both want things to be better but aren’t entirely sure how to make it so. The trip to Willow is supposed to help give them both new perspective. Their love is clear, but so is the tension affecting it. At the cabin, their shared looks and shy touches reinforce this.
Rainy Season / L – R: Jan Mary Nelson, Kermit Rollison, Anne Marie Kennedy, and Brian Ashton Smith / Fair use doctrine.
Kermit Rollison and Jan Mary Nelson do a great job portraying the locals whose unwilling duty it is to greet the couple. We get the sense that doing it more than every seven years would be too much. As reluctant emissaries of Willow, Eden and Stanton try to welcome the couple without being too welcoming, ultimately suggesting they spend their first night out of town even though they know the Grahams will not.
Technically the film is excellent. Sound and visuals are top notch, adding to the overall effectiveness. With a sometimes ironic soundtrack, Rainy Season definitely captures the feel of the source material – a little bit retro, a little bit modern, and all apropos. Together with the solid acting of the players as well as the impeccable direction, Rainy Season works. Wright makes some difficult choices for the adaptation, but they pay off. The climax made me groan and grin – though the grin may properly have been more of a grimace – simultaneously. She takes us to the edge of an eldritch chasm and leaves us laughing nervously at our escape.
Do yourself a favor. Watch it if you get a chance. It shows there are still directors in the industry who know how to adapt the written word. King fans will be especially happy to spot a few Kingian Easter eggs.
Catch Rainy Season at Attack of the 50ft Film Festival at 7:00pm on June 27, 2017, at The Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.
Don’t forget to check out the official website.
Give them a Like on Facebook.
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Subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: V.A. Bennett

INTERVIEW: V.A. Bennett

I recently had the pleasure of previewing a horror short called I Love MacKenzie Reynolds, written by V.A. Bennett, directed by Brandon Prewitt, and produced by Studio 605. Of all the recent short films I’ve seen, this one is the one that got me… May your mouth be agape as you finally understand the epitome of the term “friendzone”.
I chatted with up-and-coming writer and actor V.A. Bennett about the important things in life…
House of Tortured Souls: What influenced you to write I Love MacKenzie Reynolds?
V.A. Bennett: Honestly, I was late for a deadline for a one man “play” in college for a class in 2008. I had to shovel something out (haha, shovel), and it was just some things that were kinda on my mind from…forever, I guess. Not trying to make myself sound like a psychopath, but in a pinch, you write what you know.
HoTS: Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the scenes?
VAB: I do stand up comedy mostly, so I guess the front of the camera is easy enough. I didn’t do stand up yet when the short was written, but there’s not a lot of funny stuff happening in ILMR. It was cool to step outside of my comfort realm for something that I really was sorta proud of. I’m just fortunate that Studio 605 made my shoulder shrug a visceral thing. Kinda opened up my process in an odd way.
HoTS: Do you have any pet peeves?
VAB: People chewing with their mouths open drives me insane.
HoTS: Toilet paper… Over or under?
VAB: If your toilet paper is hung under, you are a certified deviant.
HoTS: Due to the fact that there is a gun in said short, Ilo (he’s 4 years old) wants to know what your favorite shooty-gun is.
VAB: As far as guns go, I think I like the ones that fire hot dogs at sporting events.
HoTS: What’s next for you in film?
VAB: I’ll be playing Nicholas in Cinematic Reality, the next feature length film from Studio 605. That starts filming in September. This film is short, sweet, and not-so-sweet due the perfect twist at the heart-wrenching end. Artistically done – integrity intact – perfect. Shout out to Studio 605, and the other talented cast members, Chelsea Skalski and Taylor Wilson, that made this short a complete success in my eyes.

Current Goodies:

Future Goodies:

Posted by E. Butusov in Categories, INTERVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
SERIES OVERVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017)

SERIES OVERVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

This review might seem a bit out of nowhere for a horror site, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 is something near and dear to the hearts of many hardcore horror fans simply because we’ve all had to suffer through bad movies with our friends.
We’ve all been there, particularly if you lived through the video rental era. You’d wander the aisles for upwards of an hour, reading the backs of boxes, looking for the perfect movie to watch. You would grab a pizza and a few refreshing cold beverages, get home, pop in the movie and immediately be disappointed with your carefully selected choice of films. It happens, but you’d suffer through it anyway, because money was spent and you weren’t about to let that crappy movie win.
I’m a bit shocked that some of the people I watched movies with back then are still my friends considering how many bad movies I made them watch. At this point I would like to formally apologize to my friend John for making him suffer through all those dreadful movies. Notice I said that I would LIKE to apologize; I’m not actually going to because those memories are some of the best of my formative years.
Which brings me to my point. Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn’t just a movie watching experience; it’s more like a bonding experience. You feel a kinship, not just with the host and his companions, but with everyone who has ever suffered through a bad movie.
I’ll admit that when I first heard that Joel Hodgson was trying to reboot Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was skeptical. As much as I loved the show, I really didn’t think it was still relevant in today’s society of 140-character Twitter humor, Fail Army videos, and tasteless memes. That, and the fact that it’s closing on 20 years since the show appeared on television.
Surprisingly, the new incarnation is every bit as good as the older version. Mind you, it’s not the same show. It’s the next step in the progression of the show. An evolution. Everything about it is new. It’s much more polished with better visuals in some areas, and the old school, homemade feel in others.
Kinga Forrester and Max aka TV's Son of TV's Frank / Fair use doctrine.The story plays out the same way as the old one. Evil mad scientists Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), and her assistant, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank, aka Max (Patton Oswalt), trap some poor, likable dope — Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) — on the far side of the moon and force him to watch bad movies with his robot pals.
Even though Day and Oswalt do a great job as the new “Mads”, I don’t think their characters are fully developed at this point. They seem almost TOO competent compared to Clayton and Pearl Forrester. And while both are colorful and entertaining, they seem a bit generic. As a big fan of both, I’m hoping that both can embrace their respective roles and make them unique and interesting characters in future seasons.
Jonah and the bots / Fair use doctrine.Jonah Ray does a superb job filling the shoes of the hosts before him. No small feat. (Get it? Shoes, Feet. HaHaHaHa!) considering that Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson had two distinctly different styles. He’s not just filling the shoes in though, he’s doing a great job of making the role his own. And although the voices of Crow and Tom Servo have changed slightly, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn pick up almost seamlessly from Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy regarding the character and delivery of their respective robots.
The riffing in the theater segments is fast and concise right out of the gate, with lots of references to current events as well as throwbacks to some of the classic episodes. Just like the old show, the diverse range of topics give the new shows a great amount of re-watchability.
The host segments are lively and fun, although it’s easy to tell that Ray, Yount, and Vaughn haven’t quite mastered their on-screen chemistry. That sort of thing will come together over time, though.
Also, the addition of some big-name celebrities and a few familiar old faces dropping by on occasion gives the viewers an added treat. I’d tell you a few right now, but it’s more fun to be surprised by it.
Overall, it’s a faithful continuation of the series if you’re an old fan of the show, and it’s a great introduction if you’re a newbie.
Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, TELEVISION REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

Brain Damage

Arrow Limited Edition Blu Review


Frank Henenlotter’s LSD-laced mind muncher Brain Damage (1988) savagely lampoons Nancy Reagan’s “Just say No” while also belonging to that rare category of seriously weird horror films from the late 80s to early 90s. They were high energy, candy colored, whacky, splattery, nudity-filled romps with pretty damn good screenplays tying the madness all together. And unlike horror movies of today it’s not depressing. What makes movies like Street Trash, Body Melt, and Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste gems of the genre is that they are over the top and go for the gross out but still retain light entertainment status without getting too dark and bleak. Brian (Rick Hearst) finds a mysterious creature named Elmer (voiced by the late, great Zacherle) who gives him the ultimate high. The only catch is the little parasite feeds on brains and demands his new host provide them for him…or else.
  • Picture/Sound: The picture is presented in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio and restored from a master, meaning the print is crisp and clear and even slightly better than the previous release. Like always Arrow provides a Mono track along with a new 5.1 soundtrack. And like the picture it to is a improvement over Synpases DVD release.
  • Package: Unlike Donnie Darko and the House: Two Stories, Brain Damage has a simple slipcover, but it still looks great sporting brand new artwork (and of course reversible cover featuring original artwork for those purists among you) and a booklet. Simple and effective wins the day here.
  • Special Features: The real gem of this set is the almost hour long documentary titled Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage. The interviews are solid and entertaining. It’s odd that Frank himself isn’t interviewed for it, but it’s still worth checking out. The other highlight is the feature The Effects of Brain Damage, an in-depth chat with effects genius Gabe Bartalos on making the creature Elmer. If that weren’t enough, you also have a featurette Animating Elmer, Karen Ogle: A Look Back, and Elmer’s Turf which documents the shooting locations. But wait, I’m not finished. Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession is a fun mini doc about super fan Adam Skinner as well a director Q&A, trailers, and, for you Zacharely fans, a short film (and final onscreen credit) entitled Bygone Behemoth. Sadly Arrow was unable to bring over Synapses’ commentary with Frank and writer/legend Bob Martin. I can’t fault Arrow for this, however, as I’m sure it was a rights issue. But, fear not, because a brand new commentary by Frank was recorded just for the release.
  • Overall: I was excited to hear that Arrow was tagged to re-release the film because they always take great pains to bring fans a product that is really worth their hard earned cash. Not only is the package well done with some great new art work, but there’s also a wealth of new features. And, of course, you get the film itself looking better than it ever has. This makes my short list of best release of 2017 (so far). Just Say Yes to this Blu!
Posted by Mike Vaughn in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments