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August Underground Trilogy Part 3 of 3: Penance (2007)

August Underground Trilogy Part 3 of 3: Penance (2007)

In August Underground’s Penance, we are introduced to the final and, in my opinion, the weakest film of the trilogy. Following the found footage style of the first two films, we encounter Peter and Crusty on more of their sadistic ventures. Beginning with a man who attempted to escape Peter and Crusty’s clutches, he does not get very far before the couple kills him. Afterwards, Peter and Crusty go about town doing various normal activities including watching some fireworks. For a moment, it even seems that they have progressed past their serial killing phase. Of course, the film then cuts to the basement again with Peter harassing and torturing a man who they have hammered multiple nails into various parts of his body.
August Underground's Penance (2007)After this small stint of torture, Peter and Crusty find themselves under a bridge where they first harass and torment a homeless man, before cutting open a man to disembowel him whilst he is still alive. The juxtaposition between sadistic violence and “normal” behavior occurs again with Peter and Crusty at a party. The next scene occurs at Christmas time with Peter and Crusty invading a home of three where they proceed to celebrate Christmas their way. This first involves Peter bludgeoning the father with a hammer and then murdering and attempting to rape the mother, but is unable to get himself hard so he gives up. At this point, while he is attempting to rape the mother, the daughter of the couple comes down the stairs witnessing the atrocities unfold. Crusty, quickly tackles the girl and strangles her to death. She then opens up a few presents for herself and goes to sleep between the two corpses.

August Underground's Penance (2007)Fairly similar to the other films in that there is a number of murders through bludgeoning to death, Penance does not really stick out until near the end of the film when we first see Peter bludgeoning a man with Crusty drinking some of the blood as it pours from the man. Not terribly shocking with how these two are and with some of the acts that they perpetrated in Mordum (remember that penectomy scene where Crusty performs fellatio upon a severed penis?). The film then cuts to the next scene, which shows Peter carving open a pregnant woman and removing the fetus from her. This is where Peter and Crusty begin to break down and when Peter fails to comfort her, he rapes her.

The film ends rather quickly with Peter getting drunk, abusing a woman and passing out. Once he is asleep, Crusty takes the camera with her to the bathroom where she does her “penance” by killing herself, which is where the film concludes. Overall, as I said at the beginning it was the weakest of the trilogy, and after Mordum, it seems that Vogel had run out of sadistic ideas to bring his trilogy to a conclusion.

I have to give August Underground’s Penance a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

August Underground's Penance (2007)Director: Fred Vogel; Writers: Allen Peters (characters), Fred Vogel (characters), Cristie Whiles (as Cristie ‘Crusty’ Whiles), Fred Vogel; Stars: Cristie Whiles, Fred Vogel, Shelby Lyn Vogel; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 84 min; Genre: Horror; Language: English; Year: 2007

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.

August Underground Trilogy, Part 2 of 3: Mordum (2003)

August Underground Trilogy, Part 2 of 3: Mordum (2003)

August Underground's Mordum (2003)In August Underground’s Mordum, Fred Vogel’s second film of the August Underground trilogy, the viewer is assaulted by some of the most grotesquely atrocious acts of violence and depravity known to man. A found footage film, we are first introduced to characters Peter, Crusty (his girlfriend), and her brother Maggot. The first scene certainly sets the tone with Peter running the camera and catching his girlfriend having sex with her brother. Enraged Peter erupts into a nonstop barrage of verbal abuse towards Crusty, who then quiets him down by taking a jagged piece of glass and carving into her stomach with it, which in turn arouses Peter. To say this is fucked up is an understatement as we are quickly taken to the next scene in a crack house where they proceed to murder the owner with a hammer, but it is when our group of sadomasochistic serial killers return home that things escalate to another level.

August Underground's Mordum (2003)I won’t bother to delve into every act of violence that is perpetrated on the screen, but I will say that it is certainly an extreme film up there with the likes of A Serbian Film and Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh & Blood. The film includes everything imaginable and then some, some that I found to be rather creative in a sadistic sort of way. This includes forcing a man to perform a penectomy (never knew there was a word for removal of the penis) upon himself with a pair of cuticle scissors and disemboweling a woman alive and fucking the slash wound in her corpse. I guess with that being said, I should issue a strong warning that August Underground’s Mordum is not for the faint of heart. Being done as found footage, one feels as if they are truly there watching some snuff film that just happened to be lying on the street. The camera work is what one would expect from a pseudo snuff film: the camera moves erratically, the picture can be grainy at points, and you can see where they had to change “tapes” while filming their exploits.

Overall, I found August Underground’s Mordum to be rather entertaining and engrossing at points. However, I cannot emphasize enough that this film is not for everyone. One of my friends took it upon herself to watch it and made it about twenty minutes before having to stop because it disturbed her so much. I did find it disturbing at points, but not because of the brutality so much as the realism and the possibility that there are people out there who truly do commit these sorts of acts. That having been said, if you like extreme found footage films that are pseudo snuff, then give it a go!

3.8 out of 5 stars

August Underground Mordum (2003)Directors: Jerami Cruise (as Cruise), Killjoy, Michael Todd Schneider (as Maggot), Fred Vogel (as Fredenstein), Cristie Whiles (as Crusty); Writers: Killjoy, Cristie Whiles (as Crusty), Fred Vogel (as Fredenstein), Jerami Cruise (as Cruise), Michael Todd Schneider (as Maggot), Fred Vogel (film August Undergound), Allen Peters (film August Undergound); Stars: Cristie Whiles, Fred Vogel, Michael Todd Schneider (as Michael T Schneider), Jerami Cruise, Killjoy; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 77 min; Genre: Horror; Language: English; Year: 2003
MOVIE REVIEW: Fear Town, USA (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Fear Town, USA (2014)

I have a hard time trusting anything associated with Lloyd Kaufman or Troma Films since most are pure dreck. The ones that do succeed though are usually quite entertaining and have a certain trashy charm to them, and Fear Town, USA is one of the most entertaining Troma films that I’ve seen in quite a while.

Feartown, USA (2014) posterFear Town, USA. doesn’t have much to do with fear nor is there even really a town, but it does take place in the USA, so I guess that part of the title is accurate. The story doesn’t really center around any particular character. Instead, it covers a whole slew of stories that all drift and meander into and out of each other. There’s an escaped lunatic, a group of RPG playing “nerds” (who are probably the hunkiest guys in the movie) looking for some action, a girl with a ghostly secret, an obscure cult, a descendant of St. Blevins (You’ll learn more about St, Blevins and the ludicrous reason that they celebrate a day in his honor.) who happens to be hosting a St, Blevins day party, a group that was disinvited to the party, a woman looking for her blind date, an inept cop, a feuding couple, the Devil himself (You know your movie is slightly off the rails when the actual Devil is a secondary character), and a few other subplots that are never really resolved.

The acting is on par with most other Troma films, suffice to say, not very good, but better than some. The humor is lowbrow stoner humor, but well done for that sort of thing. A lot of the subplots and secondary stories are never wrapped up, but that doesn’t really detract from the overall experience simply because the ending is pure lunacy that I can almost guarantee you won’t see coming.

If you like Troma Films, you’ll probably love this one. If you don’t like Troma Films, but enjoy ridiculous humor, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you want a serious attempt at horror or sophisticated humor, you’d be better off looking someplace else.

Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
August Underground Trilogy, Part 1 of 3: August Underground (2001)

August Underground Trilogy, Part 1 of 3: August Underground (2001)

Being a fan of the more extreme horror films, when the opportunity presented itself for me to purchase copies of each August Underground film, I could not in good conscience turn it down. Hearing of the notoriety of the trilogy itself, especially Mordum, I wanted to watch and critique each film. This is the first part of my run critiquing this trilogy, so without further ado, here is August Underground.

Part of the found footage genre, August Underground revolves entirely around Peter (Fred Vogel) and his buddy as they go about a rape, torture and murder spree. Very early on, we are confronted with the sadistic violence that is what gave August Underground its question, “The sickest film ever made?” on the cover of the special edition DVD release. At the start, Peter invites his buddy manning the camera to follow him to the basement where a woman named Laura is tied naked to a chair. Quickly, it is revealed that Peter has already slaughtered and even castrated Laura’s boyfriend, whose remnants are in the bathtub in the adjacent room. The torture that we are given a front row seat that involves smearing feces over the poor woman, including over where her nipples had once been until Peter and company decided to slice them off her.

Following our introduction to Laura, Peter and his unnamed cameraman pick up a female hitchhiker whom Peter forces into performing oral sex upon him and even begins raping her before he beats her to death. The film then cuts back to the basement with Laura being tormented by Peter and his friend. During this scene, Peter decides that it would be funny, much to the horror of Laura and the viewers, to take a toe off her boyfriend’s corpse, force it into her mouth, and duct tape her mouth shut. Progressing from there, the pair go out for the evening and return to find that Laura has finally died, much to their rage and frustration.

Shortly thereafter, the duo go on a road trip, which ends at a tattoo parlor where they assault, kidnap and ultimately torture and kill the twin brothers who run the parlor. The last part of the film has our duo doing cocaine with two prostitutes. Fast forward and once the cameraman is through having sex with his prostitute, the two venture into the basement where Peter is beating the other prostitute to death with a hammer while sodomizing her. The film abruptly ends when the duo chase the other prostitute and the camera is dropped.

Overall, I found August Underground to have some shocking moments to it and certainly some grotesque moments, but to answer the question on the cover of the DVD case, I did not find it to be the sickest film ever made. It certainly reflected some elements similar to that of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but with a much lower budget. As an independent underground film, though, I must say that they do very well with the small budget that they have to use. I would have to give is 3.5 out of 5 stars.

August Underground Mordum (2003)Director: Fred Vogel; Writers: Allen Peters, Fred Vogel; Stars: Fred Vogel, Kyle Dealman, Casey Eganey, Dan Friedman; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 70 min; Genre: Horror; Language: English; Year: 2001
Posted by Spencer Evatt in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Back Woods (2001) and Back Woods 2 (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Back Woods (2001) and Back Woods 2 (2015)

My ‘trip’ to the Back Woods

The Underground Classic You’ve Probably Never Heard of…
But Should’ve

I am willing to bet a large percent of you have never even heard of the underground film entitled Back Woods — made with love and no money by a group of young people and released in 2001. I personally came to know this movie by finding it on eBay, and being a lover of the weird dime store oddities, I took a chance and bought a copy (which David later told me was a bootleg to my shock and embarrassment). Back Woods tells the simple and twisted story of Luther (David Hayes), a baby born fully grown with a beard. All is fine and dandy until Mama is killed in a hit and run by a bunch of reckless teens. Now Luther, guided by a woods spirit named Mangina (Joseph Patrick Buck), goes on a killing spree, making the teens pay the ultimate price. Even as the film’s unofficial #1 fan, I can admit it’s not a good movie by any means. But I am sure nobody making this thought they were making an epic. So, yeah, when I watch it, I see the flaws, but I also find it genuinely humorous, and it seems like everybody is having a blast making this ridiculous movie. At a scant runtime, the filmmakers throw enough sleaze, raunchy humor and blood to keep the whole demented family glued. Of course, David cross-dressing and dancing around covered in fake blood makes for good wholesome fun. After my first viddy, I was a fan. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid and was praying to Mangina to smite my enemies.

Fun little trivia: I actually bought a screen used prop from it – which is either really awesome or sad depending on who you ask.

I got to know its star David Hayes, who is an extremely smart man who teaches and has a series of books under his belt despite looking like a redneck butcher. His acting credits include Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (which is a film that NEEDS to be seen by everybody), Werewolves in Heat, and Blown, the tender love story about a killer blow-up doll. When I asked David about a part 2 I got a firm hell no, but I still held out hope. To my delight, I got a message one day asking if I wanted to see a sequel that was filmed a while back but never released. Of course I jumped at the chance, and I was not disappointed. From the opening, Back Woods 2 takes a meta approach and, of course, has a lot of fun ripping on the first film. But it wisely doesn’t simply remake the first film, introducing a host of new characters and situations. In fact, part 2 can almost stand on its own. Like the first film, however, it retains its sick demented charms and throws plenty of blood and some nudity (mostly David’s ass) at viewers. A redneck cannibal Lego man and a porn star with daddy issues are just some of the insane treats viewers have in store for them.

Back Woods 2 (2015)

It’s a really exciting time for people who haven’t seen the original Back Woods as both part one and the sequel are being re-released in one set. With that said, I really hope this finds a loyal following. And who knows… It could be as widely loved as Plan 9 from Outer Space, Troll 2, and The Room.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
A Serbian Film (2010): It’s Fucking Art!

A Serbian Film (2010): It’s Fucking Art!

In a desensitized world when shock truly does have value, along comes A Serbian Film, and here we are 8 years later still discussing it and reeling from the controversy. It’s a film that has ruined a lot of other films for me, making them seem colorless by comparison.

A Serbian Film (2010)

If, like me, you’re a fan of A Serbian Film, then you know it’s not something you admit to just anyone or casually discuss at family dinner. I used to find myself constantly on the defense regarding my love of this film, but now I refuse to be. I no longer justify why I like it or why it’s my second favorite movie of all time; I defend the movie itself. Before I get into the reasons why, let’s just quickly go over the movie’s plot and content for those who may not have watched it yet.

Milos, a semi-retired porn star, is struggling to provide for his wife and young son. When Milos’ former co-star comes by and offers him a role in an “art film” being made by a visionary and promising new director, it seems like his troubles are over. So far everything sounds pretty tame, right? Let’s fast forward to after the shooting of the “art film” starts and watch as it begins a downward spiral into depravity that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.

A Serbian Film (2010)

The areas causing the most controversy are the film’s depiction of child abuse, forcing a minor to watch a sexual act, raping a newborn, and raping a child. There are many other graphic, sexually violent scenes, but the aforementioned really get the censors riled up. For these reasons, the film has been heavily edited and banned in many countries, making an uncut copy somewhat difficult to find. Fear not, however, as Unearthed is releasing an uncut version with tons of extras and a much-anticipated documentary on the film.

Now back to my defense of the movie. It’s often assumed that I will use the same political defense the director Srdjan Spasojevic claims. Spasojevic insists he spent years trying to perfectly put on film how it felt to grow up in the midst of a very chaotic time in Serbia. He states that the infant rape and necrophilia show how the government rapes its citizens from birth until after death. Spasojevic also states, “this is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government”. Although these are not the reasons why I support the film, they were successful in getting me to investigate a little further into Serbian politics.

A Serbian Film (2010)

I personally don’t use the political pretense to justify this movie, and quite frankly I call bullshit. I believe Spasojevic wanted to make a shocking movie and once the backlash came, he used his carefully prepared political statement as a defense. I defend this movie simply because it’s art. Art that makes you really feel something, be it shock, anger, disgust, or horror, forces you to put down the fucking phone and watch. It makes you feel genuine emotions, powerful ones. For that reason alone, A Serbian Film is worth defending and remains one of the most engaging cinematic experiences of my life. I applaud it for pushing boundaries I didn’t even know I had.

A Serbian Film (2010)

MOVIE REVIEW: Clown (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Clown (2014)

I finally got a chance to view the highly anticipated 2014 Clown. First, let me clarify because too many people are under the wrong impression... THIS IS NOT AN ELI ROTH FILM!!! The film itself was written by Christopher Ford and Jon Watts and was directed by Jon Watts as well. Eli Roth was one of the producers for the film, along with three others and six executive producers... That does not make this an Eli Roth film. So many are saying this is one of his films, and it’s not! Why not just ask Jon Watts how it was to work under Roth during the making of Clown? Then kick him in the nuts as well!

Clown (2014) / Fair use doctrine.

Now that that's out of the way... I had been wanting to see Clown since first having read about and, of course, later having seen trailer for it. Well, God Bless America, but what do I happen to see on Netflix but Clown?! I was thrilled!!!!

The storyline of Clown is of a good dad trying to be the hero to his son’s birthday party when he finds an old clown outfit and wears it to the party after the hired clown cancels at last minute. Good dad to the rescue! Now for the bad part…

After the party is over, Dad can’t get the costume off. It literally is stuck on his body. One might almost say that it is becoming one with his body. After some research, he discovers that the outfit he put on is, for lack of better words, possessed by a once demonic clown who killed and fed off children. I'm not going to say much else about the film because I do hope many of you give it a chance. It is a solid film and deserves to be watched. My review isn't so much a bad movie review as it is a let down on how much potential I think it had. There is honestly a difference!

I don't think I've been so on the line with a film in a very long time! Clown holds so many high points, very dark, very disturbing high points. Clown also holds so many low, predictable, and almost generic points to it. Just when you think it’s great, it pulls some cheesy shit and, to me, it would just fall to hell.

I didn't expect much from the film even though I wanted to see it for so long, I still didn't have very high expectations, and I was wrong. It is a good solid film. I just think if they had stuck with their original dark thoughts and finished that way, it would have been even better.

I really wanted to like it a lot more than I did. Sadly, if I were to give Clown a numerical rating, it would probably be a 3 or maybe a 4, not because of how bad it was because, honestly, it wasn't...but because of how great it really could have been!!

I will say this, the dad, or Kent, played by Andy Powers was spot on. From the role of loving father through his changing ways, shall we say, he did a great job. And I MUST, MUST, MUST say this, let’s call it, the rainbow-colored splatter: GENIUS!!!

Clown is on Netflix. Give it a shot, and let House of Tortured Souls know what you think!

Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Clarissa Jacobson of Lunch Ladies (2017)

INTERVIEW: Clarissa Jacobson of Lunch Ladies (2017)

Short, Comedy, Horror:
Interview With Clarissa Jacobson

Hello everyone, this is the Horrormadam here with the second in my series celebrating the Gifted Heroines of Horror and Women In Film. I was honored to interview the brilliant Clarissa Jacobson on her new short film Lunch Ladies which she wrote and produced. To say I enjoyed this short would be a gross understatement, I loved it! So well written, so well acted, so well directed. The only thing I want out of it…is more! But before we get into that, a quick tease to wet your appetites!

Now that your interest is piqued, let me tell you the extraordinary premise in Clarissa’s own words.

Clarissa: For the past twenty years, obsessed Johnny Depp fans and fraternal twin sisters, Seretta and LouAnne Burr, have shared a miserable existence as high school lunch ladies serving up rubbery chicken parts, ammonia-treated government meat and whatever else the cash-strapped national lunch program sends their way. This year is going to be different: The twin’s Cheesy Burger Bites recipe is the Grand Prize Winner of Johnny Depp’s Cook for Kid’s Charity Event. Convinced this is their ticket out of high school hell town and that “The Depper” will hire them to be his very own Personal Chefs, their dreams are shattered after a snotty head cheerleader pushes them one step too far. This forces the Lunch Ladies to ask themselves – WWJD? What would Johnny do?

Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? To all of those naysayers out there that say there are no new ideas, I say that you aren’t thinking outside the box. Clarissa’s clever story is outside the box, maybe even outside of leftfield and that is what makes it so surprising and refreshing.

Let’s see what else Clarissa had to say about Lunch Ladies and filmmaking:

Clarissa: When we first started out it was a bit disheartening, the first director said that no one would want to see this movie because no one wants to see two middle-aged female leads. Clarissa and I discussed this for a little while, especially how one of the nice things about the horror genre, is that horror does not discriminate. Young, old, beautiful, different looking, black, white, gay straight-in horror films we embrace them all.

Clarissa went on to discuss people thoughts on her influences:

Clarissa: I have heard John Waters (Serial Mom, Cecil B. Demented, Hairspray), John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Home Alone), and Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride) and I grew up on them and I love them. They’re saying that and its funny how it just seeps in and it is the biggest compliment.
Clarissa: This was my first time producing a movie and I had so much luck drawing the right people to me. The first set designer we had dropped out like one week before shooting and I was like don’t worry about it, just go with the flow. Then brought in this husband and wife couple, Ray and Alicia Ho that were one hundred times better. What happened is I just totally stepped out of the way and the most amazing people helped me and worked on it. They were all at the top of their game and everybody brought what they brought, everyone did their job and when we finished it was everything that I wanted. Exactly what I imagined in my head, even better.

I said to her how amazing that was that she was able to get what she wrote, everything that was in her head to fruition.

Clarissa: It really was magical. My writing mentor, he was a tap dancer on Broadway when he was younger. He came on as a producer also and he did the dancing scene in the cafeteria. What I had written was rhythmic and he said he had this crazy idea, how about we do a mash-up? We will have ballet dancers, hip-hop dancers, and tap dancers and I was like Joe, I have no idea what is inside your head but you are the most talented person I know so do what you want.

I was also honored to speak to Joe, who turns out to be Joe Bratcher who has been acting since 1976 in some really great shows like All In The Family, Laverne & Shirley, and The Rockford Files, and in films like The Howling and Coma. He also runs The Twin Bridges Screenwriting Salon, the longest running screenwriting classes in Los Angeles. He told me how hard Clarissa had been working and how much he loved working with her and what a great person she is. He also backed up the story Clarissa had just told me by saying that she really went to bat for him with the director. She really wanted him to create his vision for the cafeteria scene because she knew it would work.

Clarissa: The director was awesome, but that’s how everybody was, they all brought really creative shit to it. The director J.M. Logan is an award-winning filmmaker and who has filled nearly every position in the business over twenty-five years. Out of hundreds, credits include Kidnap, Manson Family Vacation, The Circle, The End Of The Tour, Stoker & Annabelle. He said his goal is to be as close to the script as possible. At one point he was like there is this scene at the beginning, it was gonna be expensive to do and I was concerned what might happen, it might not work. I was like you know we can just cut that and we can just do the scene in front of the school than we don’t need to get a car. And Josh was like NO! That is whats written in the script and that’s what we’re gonna do. And the car scene I mean the car scene is so great for starting out the movie, he was so adamant, he and everybody came up with great ideas, like the whole concept with the Russian posters, so inventive I just loved it.
Clarissa: I also had a hard time finding a location. I called like a hundred schools. This one place is like we read the script and we’ll never let you film your movie here! They acted like I had written a porn! But I wanted a John Hughes type of school kind of upper-class. Josh the director had a friend that was like call these two Catholic schools and I was freaking out because I couldn’t find a location. So I called these two schools and they both said I could film there. The only thing was that they had really big kitchens and we needed it to look run down so we just filled it with all this stuff. And then Josh had the idea to use these eastern block like posters which along with the lunch trays were the only real punches of color. We filmed over two weekends, four days with twenty thousand dollars. It was really great and everyone was really fun but the last day was the hardest, we didn’t get out of there till four a.m. We had one hundred and thirty people working on it and everyone is coming back to do the feature which is already written.

I asked her then, it is winning so many awards you would think someone would just jump on it? Atlanta Horror Film Festival 2017 (winner: Best writer/producer and Best Director), Nightmares Film Festival 2017 (best writer/producer, director), and the South African Horrorfest 2017 (Best writer/producer and director).

Clarissa: Well its still new so a lot could happen in the next couple of months. We started our run in August which went great and we had nothing in September, but we had a lot in October because it is Halloween. So we have only been on the film festival route for about four months and it goes on for a year and a half. The majority of competitions and stuff aren’t until next year. So we are just working our asses off to get it noticed. And I definitely want to give a shout out to the horror community. I LOVE the horror community, they are my kind of people! I didn’t start out writing horror, I thought it was a comedy. When I saw it on the screen I couldn’t believe that came out of my head! All I could think was, where did that come from and what was wrong with me? I have always been a closet horror fan, I love The Exorcist, Let The Right One In and The Shining. One time I was writing a Gothic horror story and as I went dark, I realized the dark side is the most creative place to be. In it, you can do anything.

I want to thank Clarissa Jacobson again for taking the time to talk to me at the
House of Tortured Souls and also thank her for writing such a unique horror/comedy short. I cannot recommend it to you highly enough readers. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I know that you will not be disappointed when you see it. All I am waiting for now is the full-length feature to be made so I can enjoy the further escapades of the Lunch Ladies! And from now on I may even find myself asking as I go through life…WWJD?

Clarissa also wanted to say a big thank you to Fire The Animal who wrote and performed the song Bury My Body, courtesy of Couch Guys Records and Antoni M. March who did the score.

And, like I said before, I don’t want to give any spoilers but some fun trivia: Lunch Ladies used 10 gallons of blood, 10 gallons of slime/goo, 15 gallons of “food,” 40 pounds of potatoes (200 pounds brought to set) and 13 pounds of ground meat. And Clarissa told me the meat had been left out and smelled like hell and they had to have the school back together for when the kids came in on Monday and she had to Febreeze everything to death (pun intended).

Before I send you on to the link so you can check out some more fun information on the Lunch Ladies I wanted to tell you the name of said ladies who are more Gifted Heroines of Horror. Donna Pieroni at Seretta and Mary Manofsky as LouAnne. These women were so wonderful and entertaining, so looking forward to much more from them!

Quickies for Sickies: Cutting Moments (1997)

Quickies for Sickies: Cutting Moments (1997)

I want to talk about a short extreme film or as I like to call them “quickies for sickies” called Cutting Moments.

Cutting Moments (1997)

Cutting Moments was created by Douglas Buck in 1997 and has a run time of 25 minutes. It was later added to Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America and then released as part of the Suburban Holocaust (2012) collection. The trailer shown here includes scenes from the entire trilogy and was fan made so it’s not the best and doesn’t do the film justice.
Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America (2003)
Cutting Moments really highlights one families desperation in middle-class America. It’s cheerless, lonely, depressing, and at times disturbing. A wife desperately vies for her apathetic husband’s attention. After dressing up sexy fails to get his attention, she goes into the bathroom and goes to town on her mouth with a metal scrub brush and then cuts off her lips. The husband’s response is to take her in the bedroom and give her a good one while he cuts off her breasts with garden shears and then his own penis. FX work done by Tom Savini make this short extra special.
4/5 for this short

Although Cutting Moments was by far the best of the three, I feel the other two are at least worth a quick overview, especially part II.

Part 2 shows us a young boy with a controlling abusive father. Whereas the first father is apathetic, this one is overbearing and too involved.

Flash forward to the future. The son has grown up and has his own family. He’s become a religious zealot and has a wife and daughter that he shuts out due to his own self-loathing, repressed desires, and shame, causing him to eventually snap and cut off all their instruments of evil, i.e. eyes, ears, tongues, and fingers. Afterward, he casually puts on a jacket over his blood-spattered suit and heads out to get the paper.
3.5/5 for this short

Part III, the Prologue, was extremely underwhelming after the first two, and it’s also the longest. It was slow and boring with no real payoff. An aged and retired artist/serial killer with dementia forgets where he buried the bodies. A girl disfigured by the serial killer and her broken family try to cope.
2/5 for this short

Whether you watch them separately as shorts or as a feature-length anthology film it’s a worthwhile extreme cinema experience.

Suburban Holocaust (2012)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

One of the most talked about horror movies in 2017 was Universal’s attempted reboot of the Mummy. Sadly it was also one of the worst horror movies of 2017 and was a horror movie in name only, and pretty much slammed the coffin lid on Universal’s Dark Universe. So we get left with what if, and the biggest “what if” of all, what if Guillermo Del Toro had taken the reins of the horror universe. Well, The Shape of Water might give us some clue about what that lost universe might have looked like.

he Shape of Water poster

Movie poster from The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water, Del Toro’s ode to the Creature of the Black Lagoon (at least superficially and unofficially) isn’t exactly a horror movie itself. However, it is a beautiful, thought-provoking Gothic romance, with a few elements of horror thrown in for good measure. No, it may not be horror, but it does make us wonder how beautiful a Del Toro Creature From the Black Lagoon would look, or a Frankenstein, or yes, even a reboot of The Mummy, with or without Tom Cruise.

The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, King of Monsters) as Eliza, a mute cleaning lady. She works at a government research center in Baltimore during the cold war. She lives a boring life until the Gillman (for lack of a better term) is dragged into the lab, and into her life by Colonel Richard Richard Strickland. Developing a rapport with the creature, she decides to save it from torture and death at the hands of Strickland and the scientists. And that’s where it gets groovy ladies and gents.

Just to cut through the BS, The Shape of Water is hands down the best horror movie of the year, even if it’s not that much of a horror movie. Hey, if Get Out is a comedy, then we can claim this as a horror movie. It’s been nominated for seven Golden Globes, and will almost definitely be an Oscar hit as well. The film has a stellar cast with Shannon, Richard Jenkins (Bone Tomahawk), Nick Searcy (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Del Toro favorite Doug Jones (Hellboy, not the Senator) as the creature from the, umm, from this movie. They all do their usual great job, but Hawkins is the standout.

Without using words, for most of the movie anyway, she conveys all the pain, and unhappiness of being alone, of being an outcast. And this is a story about outcasts, Hawkins is an outcast, Spencer as her closeted gay roommate and friend is an outcast, her coworker (Octavia Spencer) is an outcast, the Russian spy is an outcast, the creature is an outcast, even the main villain Strickland is a bit of an outcast.

It’s also a movie about xenophobia, fear or hatred of the different (actual foreigners but close enough). The government fears the Russians, Strickland hates and fears the creature, the gay man fears, or at least is indifferent to, the civil rights struggle of black people and the one black character hates short people (although it’s played for laughs. The only person who appears not to suffer from this is Eliza (and Gillman to some extent). The heroes overcome their isolation and fear, Strickland cannot and is literally destroyed by it.

As with all GDT films, The Shape of Water is a visual treat. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Color plays an important part in the film, just as it did in Crimson Peak. In The Shape of Water it’s green, with red being used sparingly and in the background. I wish I was smart enough to tell you the exact symbolism of the color used in The Shape of Water, but I’m still working on it myself.

Gillman eyes an egg

Gillman eyes an egg

Right now, The Shape of Water is still not an extremely wide release, which is sad, especially since both showings I have been to have been packed, so you will have to search a bit, and maybe take a drive to see it. It’s worth the effort though. However, be warned, this probably isn’t a movie for the kids. Unless you want to have to explain the birds and the bees (and the lizards). There’s only a little violence and tiny amount of gore (the one scene might disturb kids or sensitive people, but there is a decent amount of nudity, including full frontal female nudity and some cross-species “relations”, though nothing explicit, it’s easy to know what’s going down. If you can find it, make the effort; you won’t be disappointed.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: 10/31 (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: 10/31 (2017)

Some time back, actor/musician/producer/writer and now director Rocky Gray sent me a press release for a film he was working on called 10/31, he told me to always keep tabs with on it, because as he said, “I think you’re really gonna like it!” So for the past what seems to be eons now of awaited anticipation…and yes, bothering the hell outta Rocky (sorry bro, lol!), he sends me a screener of the film.


10/31 is an Indie horror anthology film that runs about 135 minutes and is pure enjoyment! First, as many of you know, I love Halloween- based movies. I mean I am a sucker for them! But that’s not to say that there hasn’t been a share of them that I also thought were pieces of shit! This, however, is not one of them!

10/31 is opened by the lovely and talented Jennifer Nangle who plays Malvolia the Queen of Screams, a horror host on a TV in a home on Halloween night, who sets you off on your journey of dark and twisted tales of Halloween.


This anthology film is full of horrific stories of terror brought to you by some of the newest and up and coming talent and features segments were directed by Brett Dejager – “Halloween Blizzard of ’91”, Rocky Gray – “The Samhain Slasher”, Zane Hershberger – “Trespassers”, John William Holt – “Killing the Dance”, Hunter Johnson – “Malvolia the Scream Queen”, and Justin M. Seaman (yes, who you all just recently saw on our live video podcast!) – “The Old Hag”.

Each story is different, original, and yet horrifying in their own ways, from stories of haunted homes, property owners, a new meaning of roller disco, and even Samhain!

The collaboration of these talented filmmakers really shines in this film. Each of them truly showing their own passion and twisted images of Halloween horror. Brought to life by some great acting which includes Jordan Phipps (Close Calls), Katie Wagrave (Bonejangles), Cindy Maples (Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories) and Chad Burns (Stargazer) to name just a few.

The amount of support and backing in the production, I must say, is very impressive with 20 producers on the film, some of them being a few of the segment directors as well as a handful of others including Nick Ford, Kirby Gocke, and P.J. Starks.

Was waiting for this release of 10/31 a pain in the ass? YES!! Was waiting for 10/31 worth the wait? HELL YES!!

10/31 is a fun, yet horrific downward spiral of tales darkness and horror of Halloween at is best!

Rocky, congrats my friend! 10/31, Rocky Gray

Keep it Evil!

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Bright (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Bright (2017)

After hearing such a negative buzz about the recently released $90 million Netflix film Bright, I decided to objectively view it for myself. A couple of days ago Netflix announced that Bright 2 is already in pre production – when in actual fact it was planned before the release of Bright itself on December 22, 2017. In the scarce time since Bright was released, the Internet has been awash with mixed reactions, from absolute adoration to complete and total loathing. Many were disappointed by director David Ayer’s recent comic book entry Suicide Squad and Max Landis‘ recent hurrah about rebooting his father’s infamous film An American Werewolf in London were skeptical that either were great filmmakers and questioned the choice of Will Smith in the lead alongside Joel Edgerton.

BrightBright is the story of our world, seen in an alternate universe in which Orcs, Fairies, and Elves inhabit alongside Humans. The Orcs are oafs who are all for a world free from the humans, who prejudge them all as criminals. The Fairies are annoying little cretins, who seemingly do no more than annoy humans. And the Elves are the highest rolling society. Wealthy, attractive and simply the royalty/ celebrities of this other world order.

Smith plays human police officer Daryl Ward. A man run down by his job and awaiting his retirement in the coming years with some annoyance. Ward has recently been partnered with Nick Jakoby (played by Joel Edgerton), a “non-blooded” Orc – meaning he belongs to no clan and is ostracised by his own- who is simple and still learning to understand humans. Smith is not difficult to watch, but like his prior roles in films like I Am Legend and Suicide Squad, it is basically regular old Smith performance on screen. Edgerton, on the other hand, is a goofy gem. His bumbling but well-meaning performance of Orc Officer Jakoby is easily as enjoyable as Mandy Patinkin in Alien Nation (a 1988 film that I feel is echoed in this movie through some of its sentiments). I did feel the duo bounced off one another well but that Smith’s delivery was a tad too dry at times.

Joel Edgerton, Lucy Fry, and Will Smith in Bright

Joel Edgerton, Lucy Fry, and Will Smith in Bright

Like Alien Nation, Bright finds its feet exploring a subplot of awkwardness between these two cops and a division unhelped by the corruption around them. Stumbling upon a young Elf called Tikka (amazingly portrayed by Lucy Fry – famous for her role in the first season of the Australian t series of Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek), who is frail and afraid of her heroes. Tikka is a Bright, a magic Elf with powers to unlock both good and bad forces. Tikka is being pursued by the beautiful Leilah (portrayed by Noomi Rapace from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film series). Leilah is cold, ruthless and has a thirst for the darker side of magic, quite literally obliterating anyone in her path with her two Elvish goons. Also pursuing our troubled trio is a pair of Elf detectives also keen to learn about what the threesome are protecting.

With enough car chases, explosions and high octane injuries and deaths, this is definitely a film that only lets up when needed and keeps a steady pace through its nearly two-hour runtime. I won’t ruin the fun of this film with more details but will say the negativity it has received online is heavily unwarranted as it is a fun and interesting watch.

Noomi Rapace in Bright

Noomi Rapace in Bright

Fans of mythical beings or action films will enjoy those aspects of Bright. I can only hope Landis and Ayer can produce the same (or better) quality film the second time around. Smith and Edgerton have both already confirmed their return in Bright 2 and it is slated for release later this year on Netflix.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Insidious Chapter 4 (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Insidious Chapter 4 (2018)

Whenever we see the name James Wan appear, we already know that we are in for a special treat, considering that Mr. Wan makes quality flicks. Everything from Saw (2004) to the highly anticipated Aquaman heading to cinemas December 21, 2018. So, when a third sequel to the Insidious franchise was announced last year, hopes already started to rise sky high.

Writer Leigh Whannell, who wrote and co-starred in all the Insidious films takes us on yet, another dark trip into the further, and it was a lot of fun.

We open in New Mexico, 1953 and we are introduced to a young Elise Ranier (Ava Kolker) and her family. Her mother accepts the fact that she has an ultra-rare gift and can communicate with the dead, whilst her father seems to have a hard time and doesn’t believe in her ghosts stories, so he punishes her severely over and over again. This causes her to leave home to make a fresh start for herself and continue her life with her gift by becoming a paranormal investigator and solving undead puzzles.

One afternoon she receives a phone call from the property she once lived at and decides that she has to return home to face her fears and try to stop the ongoing evil that has been haunting the house for years. Oh, and we can’t forget about her two assistants, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), who both deliver quick quirky one-liners that cause the audience to burst out with laughter ever so often. When Elise and her duo pals arrive, she already knows that the house is full of spirits and that’s when the heart-pounding moments being to increase heavily and they don’t stop until the last frame of the film.

Even though this is a prequel, there is a lot of fun to be had while watching this film. Lin Shaye is once again superb and it shows the very second she is in frame. You can tell that she put her blood, sweat, tears, and heartbeats into her character and also had fun doing so. Lin Shaye was most definitely the best part of the entire movie. I had more fun watching her act throughout the film then the film trying to make me jump and spill my popcorn.

With that being said, the film has some minor flaws and pacing issues here and there, but we are introduced to a new form of evil and he’s pretty bad ass to look at.

Insidious: The Last Key may not take home any awards or be the best horror film of the year, it certainly won’t be the worst. Insidious: The Last Key was what I expected, a dark adventure into the further with jump scares, funny moments, cool looking creatures and most importantly, the amazing Lin Shaye.

Do yourself a favor and checkout Insidious: The Last Key before it leaves cinemas.

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Miscast (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Miscast (2017)

Miscast (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Carsten Kurpanek; Writer: Matt Katzenberger; Stars: Nina Daniels, Brea Bee, Kade Pait; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 10 min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017 Blood SIsters (2017) / Fair us doctrine. Halloween may be over and the Jack-O-Lanterns have long been blown out for the year but it’s really never too late to review a holiday short. Miscast comes from Carsten Kurpanek who is no stranger to short films with an impressive 11 under his belt. On Halloween night, an office party turns into bloody chaos after the seemingly normal April (Brea Bee) puts a spell on everybody. April takes her friend May (Nina Daniels) to safety, and the two begin in a wily battle of witchy wits. Miscast manages to take a pretty basic plot and inject plenty of delicious dark humor and frights. Because how could you not love seeing a great witch duel? The strongest aspect of this film is its look. Visually the film is great and Kurpanek really knows exactly how to fill a frame while also crafting a palpable mood with lighting and camera techniques. All the props and set dressings really help create the creepy vibe and give the overall film a much more expensive look. Miscast is certainly not miscast in this case and Brea Bee (Silver Linings Playbook) and Nina Daniels (Shameless) really shine. They also seem to play off of each other nicely and the chemistry really works in the film’s favor. Miscast really put a spell on me with its great story and its attention to detail. As far as Halloween themed shorts it may just rank up there as one of my favorites. I really am excited to see what the filmmakers have in store for the future.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Train to Busan (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan is a 2016 South Korean zombie flick that is a breath of fresh air!! The storyline... Well, like in any other zombie film: run and don't get eaten! Okay, that's the same here. Our story centers around a divorced father and young daughter who are traveling by train to get to... you guessed it, Busan. They are trying to get his daughter back to her mother. The father sadly is a workaholic and spends no time with his daughter, and that also plays an emotionally important part in the story.
While the father and daughter are travelling, an outbreak has begun and, yes, people are starting to turn into zombies. Only becoming aware of the situations via cell phones while en route, the crowded train learns the hard way at a scheduled stop that things are a lot worse than what they had expected - having been anticipating a military welcome in what was supposedly a safe area.

Without giving anything away from the film, you use your imagination as to what happens next...on its way to Busan.
What sets Train to Busan apart from other recent zombie films is how it's shot. The first thing that really hit me was how sharp and bright the colors in the film are. Most are dark and almost dingy, but this could have been used for a Clorox color-safe bleach commercial. The colors just seemed to pop and everything just seemed to be so damn clean!
The makeup and special FX used were spot on! No masks and no use of dirt and buckets of blood for decay value, all while still packing a punch and throwing a few holy shit moments at you. It was a near-perfect zombie film.
Lastly, one thing I’ve learned over the years with Asian horror films, they are either so far over-the-top-what-the-fuck-did-I-just-watch kind of film or they are extremely brutal and violent and usually very sexually oriented, often in a somewhat perverted way. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy all those qualities in a good wholesome Asian horror film, but Train to Busan possessed none of those stereotypical qualities. It is just a straight-ahead zombie film, with a great ending!
Train to Busan was directed by Sang-ho-Yeon, runs just under 2 hours long, is subtitled, and is currently on Netflix. I really can’t suggest Train to Busan enough!
Keep It Evil...
MOVIE REVIEW:  Fun Size Horror: Volume One (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Fun Size Horror: Volume One (2015)

Fun Size Horror: Volume One-poster / Fair use doctrine.
We watch a lot of movies. Like, tons of them. Like, so many that a lot of my friends and family think I might have a problem. I don’t think I have a problem. I think they’re just jealous that I can sit around all day watching movies and stuffing my large, misshapen face with Twinkies while they waste their time doing tedious stuff like “work” and “taking care of their families” and “basic personal hygiene”.

So, it goes without saying that we watch a lot of shorts and anthologies around here. Mostly because we have short attention spans, and if one of the stories sucks, we’ve only wasted a few minutes as opposed to an hour and a half. Fun Size Horror: Volume One is exactly the kind of thing that we love around here. Twenty-one shorts with no central theme and in no particular order. A virtual grab bag of different types of horror, covering pretty much every genre of the horror field.

Most of the stories are solid, and a few are outstanding examples of the art it takes to tell a compelling and interesting story in only a few minutes. There are a few duds, but the ones that succeed more than make up for the ones that are lacking. And with pretty much all but one clocking in at five minutes or less, it’s no big loss for the ones that you don’t enjoy.

A lot contain dark humor or have darkly comic overtones. Or maybe they don’t. I chuckled a few times, but that might be more of a comment on my severely damaged sense of humor than it is on the content of what I was watching.

I’m not going to get into each individual story, but I will say that “Mr. Hendrix” and “The Creepy F*cking Kid in Apartment B” are the two best shorts in my opinion. And if nothing else, those two alone are worth checking out Fun Size Horror: Volume One.

Posted by Richard Francis in ANTHOLOGY, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)

Dreaming Purple Neon is a 2016 independent horror film by Extreme Entertainment and released by Unearthed Films. It was both written and directed by Todd Sheets, who has also brought us such goodies as Spirits (2014) and Bone Hill Road (2017).  Dreaming Purple Neon is a pure 100% Indie horror B flick at it finest!

The basis of the story is that Purple Neon, a beautiful glowing drug, turns its users into demonic creatures that follow the word of High Demoness, Abaddon. She, in turn, uses her now-demon slaves to brutally kill and take over the world.


When a drug dealer’s stash goes missing at the hands of his new office girl, he and his thug trace her down at a dentist office building where she’s meeting a friend to go out for the night. After the doors are locked, however, it’s more than just drug dealer revenge. The entire building is locked down and being taken over by the cult of Abaddon in order to use a young girl, one of the dentist’s patients, as a vessel to conjure Abaddon into the living. This is where things get fun — from a naked seance to a bitch with horns for nipples, shit just got real!

When Dreaming Purple Neon starts, it looks like it’s going to be a bad Indie film, but it turns into a bloodbath! Todd Sheets was able to physically take what I’m going to call the normal, the everyday life on film, and perfectly mesh it with what I will call the underworld. You are transported visually through the chaos as it spreads through the film till you are completely submerged into a world of blood-soaked violence. Sheets’ use of color schemes throughout the film is brilliant but yet not overdone.

From the start of the film, I really wasn’t expecting much out of the kill scenes. Boy, was I wrong! Todd Sheets gives audiences full-on, over-the-top, blood-spewing death! Cannibalism, murder, possession, power drills and Gene Simmons — what more could you want!

Dreaming Purple Neon delivered in many ways and is a mind trip of a great Indie horror film. I can’t wait to see what Todd Sheets brings us next!


Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Blood Sisters (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Blood Sisters (2017)

Blood Sisters (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Directors: Caitlin Koller, Lachlan Smith; Writer: Hannah White; Stars: Emma Gladwell, Hannah Vanderheide; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 11 min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016
Blood SIsters (2017) / Fair us doctrine.
Hello, fiends! Still working my way through the Shriekfest shorts, and this one, Blood Sisters, is by award-winning director Caitlin Koller and Lachlan Smith. Two best friends plan a carefree night of TV watching and, oh, some witchcraft. It’s all just silly fun; however, they soon learn that some things are best not meddled with. When your movie ends with a massive blood puke, you earn a special place in my heart. However, Blood Sisters just happens to be amazingly written, directed, and acted. Blood Sisters manages to take a paper-thin plot and make it work on different layers. It's high spirited fun and a gross-out. Most importantly, the comedic elements really hit the mark without feeling hammy or corny. Blood Sisters relies solely on two actors, and both (thankfully) do a fantastic job carrying the film.

Both Emma and Hannah have a natural ease in front of the camera, and the chemistry between the two is very believable. On the technical side, the film is well crafted with sharp editing, nice camera work, and has a healthy dose of visual flair to further give it polish. Blood Sisters is an outstanding horror comedy short which delivers devilishly good laughs and lots of red kroovy in equal measures. Koller and Smith know how to manage a well-balanced script that doesn’t outstay its welcome and also have a keen eye for creating a mood. Horror comedy is tricky to pull off but Blood Sisters does it extremely well. I cannot wait to see what else these talented filmmakers might puke up in the near future.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in ANTHOLOGY, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Beware, My Lovely (1952)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Beware, My Lovely (1952)

Beware, My Lovely:
The Forgotten Noir Christmas Nightmare

Director: Harry Horner; Writer: Mel Dinelli (based on his 1950 play The Man); Stars:
Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Taylor Holmes, Barbara Whiting, OZ Whitehead; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 12 min; Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1952
I recently did my Naughty and Nice list of fairly well known Christmas time horrors, and it got me to reflect on this often forgotten gem. Sure, when we think of alternative festive movies, we might pop in Die Hard or The Ref – and those are both perfect choices. However, if you are looking for something black and white (and a bit off its rocker), allow me to take you down the shadowy, hellish streets of noir for a neglected classic. RKO wasn’t a small studio, but they weren’t big, either. That meant that their films, especially the noirs, were grittier and altogether more edgy. They tackled subjects that many of that many of the studios weren’t and, in the case of Beware, My Lovely, take a raw look at mental illness with a seasonal backdrop.Ida Lupino in Beware, My Lovely
The film opens in 1918 (an oddly specific time) in a small Norman Rockwell-type of town during the holiday season. A kindly war window, Helen Gordon (Ida Lupino), hires a handyman to do some work around her apartment building. It just so happens that somebody is a deranged man named Howard (played to the hilt by Robert Ryan) with a murky past. Ms. Gordon soon finds herself menaced by the shady-looking character and unable to escape his clutches.
Robert Ryan in Beware, My LovelyI believe I first saw Beware, My Lovely on TCM and was floored as I, a noir lover, had never heard of this before. And it even starred one of my favorite Hollywood heavies – Robert Ryan, who never really got the kind of iconic status as somebody like Robert Mitchum or James Cagney despite being in many great films. For me, nobody plays a bad guy quite like him. Beware, My Lovely is a wonderfully creepy character study of a person clearly suffering from mental disease, and Ryan plays it brilliantly. Howard’s character is a complete mystery, and the movie isn’t interested in spoonfeeding us what fuels him. This lack of motivation is actually pretty off-putting. The whole thing plays out like one strange, unending nightmare with a head-scratching opening which is never explained. In fact, a lot of this movie doesn’t really make sense, but it’s so barking mad that it really doesn’t matter. It’s even weirder because it takes place around Christmas. In fact, that theme is played up and not simply relegated to background dressing. The fact that this movie got made baffles me, but to make it a sort of Christmas movie is just incredible.
Sadly, I don’t believe this movie was ever officially released on home video except for VHS, and the one a found on Ebay was $30. But if you search, you might be able to find a copy somewhere. TCM also plays it, so if it comes on, please DVR it. So snuggle up with your best fellow or dame, grab a stiff drink, and enjoy this very Noir-Christmas film. Maybe the only one ever made.

skeletal santa in snow

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments