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MOVIE REVIEW: My Friend Dahmer (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: My Friend Dahmer (2017)

Director: Marc Meyers; Writers: Marc Meyers (Based on the novel by Derk Backderf); Stars: Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts, Harrison Holzer, Cameron McKendry, Liam Koeth, Vincent Kartheiser; Rating: R; Run Time: 107 min; Genre: Biography, Drama, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017

Ross Lynch in My Friend Dahmer (2017)

High school is a weird and awkward time for most people, and Marc Meyers’ starkly eerie adaptation of Derk Backderf’s best selling graphic novel My Friend Dahmer, takes us through the early years of Jeffery Dahmer, the infamous serial killer and cannibal who shocked the latter 20th century with his crimes. High school student Derf (Alex Wolff) befriends loner Jeffery (Ross Lynch) and joins him in his small circle of friends. At first, they think Jeff is just a quirky dude in the pot-hazed 70s counterculture; however, they quickly realize it goes much deeper and darker then what any of them expect.

Meyers brilliantly shows the horrors and disturbed inner life of Dahmer but masterfully humanizes him and showcases his everyday horrors, such as his bizarre home life and grim hobbies. Refreshingly, the director never gets too carried away and eschews over the top horror style tropes to craft an utterly scary and, at times, heartbreaking portrait. I know a lot of you dig ultraviolent flicks (which I do too), but what really gets under my skin are the more psychological aspects, and Meyers manages to ratchet up the tension to the max without the aid of blood or gore.

Ross Lynch, Tara O. Horvath, and Jack DeVillers in My Friend Dahmer (2017)

The final scene between Jeffery and Derf (Alex Wolff) is bone-chilling and extremely well done. What surprised me the most was how even though this is a dark film, Meyers manages to let some morbid humor combined with frightening foreshadowing bleed into the film. For example, during a chicken dinner, Jeff tells his mother that he likes the dark meat (which is undercooked and blood red in the center further driving the point home) is darkly comical mixed with bitter irony. Also, the scene with Jeffery and an African American bunkmate is awkward and tense but also kind of amusing. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding cast. Lynch, previously known for cheery Disney outings, gives a star-making performance and completely loses himself in the layered role. His performance as Jeffery is haunting but never feels hammy or over the top, and he conveys worlds of emotion much with a look or body language. Playing Jeffery’s psycho mom is Anne Heche, and I cannot believe I’m writing this, but damn she does a pretty fantastic job. Equally good are the young actors that bring an honest realism to high school life.

Vincent Kartheiser and Ross Lynch in My Friend Dahmer (2017)

My Friend Dahmer isn’t as glossy or shocking as other depictions of the infamous cannibal (as this doesn’t show any of his murders), but for my money, it’s the most honest, unnerving, and compelling journey into the heart of darkness I’ve seen in a long time. Meyers and company take away the sensationalism of the serial killer and strips it to the bare bones, showing us just how this monster ticks. My Friend Dahmer is an incredible film and should not be missed.

Ross Lynch in My Friend Dahmer (2017)



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

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

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 01

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

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

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 02

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

Monster Fest 2018 - Living Space Q&A 03

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EVENT REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Love me Deadly (1973)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Love me Deadly (1973)

Love Me Deadly (1972) / Fair use doctrine.Love Me Deadly is a bewildering film as I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t exist, but it does anyway. Lindsay Finch (Mary Charlotte Wilcox) has style, beauty, and money, but behind all that perfection lies a dark secret. Because instead of having any hot hunk she wants, she prefers them cold and dead. Soon she becomes mixed up with a crazy cult that is also interested in the loving dead. Take an early ’70s melodrama, mix in some hammy acting, throw in some half-baked horror elements and a light sprinkle of sleazy necrophilia and you have the makings of something…surprisingly unremarkable in every way.

Love Me Deadly (1972) / Fair use doctrine.

Love Me Deadly has everything an epic so-bad-it’s-good outing should have; however, not even the terrible credit music can prepare you for this incredibly unwatchable celluloid mish-mash. Basically what you have is a dime store soap opera that for some baffling reason makes a half-assed attempt at the sleaze/horror genre. It’s like all the pieces are right there, but they just do not fit together. The film, as suggested by the title, explores necrophilia, a subject that is guaranteed to make you squirm… Except, of course, for this movie, because the material is handled with kid gloves for whatever reason. And this is really where the film lost me because why even bother going that route if you can’t deliver something disturbing and edgy? And maybe worst of all, fellow bad cinema junkies, it’s so painfully dull it will have you bored stiff. (Sorry couldn’t resist the bad pun.) I will give the film some credit for having a few nice twisted touches, but sadly it’s not nearly enough to save the film from collapsing into itself. I’m not even sure who this film is supposed to be aimed towards as it’s too strange to be a straight-up drama, yet it lacks the punch to even really be considered a horror/exploitation film. I so wanted to like this movie, but it is really lacking in virtually every department — from the wooden acting to the lazy and often times overdrawn plot (which is also pretty predictable).

Love Me Deadly better left on the shelf along with your Stretch Armstrong doll and your bell-bottom pants. Truly for the brave hardcore trash fan, but you might as well just watch Nekromantik instead.

Love Me Deadly (1972) / Fair use doctrine.

For more help exploring some little-seen oddities, my fiends, check out my new book The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema, and let me know what you think.

The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema (2017) by Mike "Gorehound" Vaughn

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

SacrificeIn American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice, we see the fourth film in the American Guinea Pig series from Unearthed Films. Produced by Domiziano Cristopharo and directed by Poison Rouge, we are introduced to Daniel (Roberto Scorza) a very psychologically scarred individual who has returned to his childhood home. As the film progresses, we are introduced to harsh self-mutilations and torture, which Daniel inflicts upon himself. Deeply disturbed, we see that Daniel has multiple scars from past woundings that he has given himself. Further, we find out that this latest instance is Daniel’s attempt at a sort of self-enlightenment with the hope being that his sacrifice will bring the goddess Ishtar to guide him.

To say that Sacrifice is unsettling would be an understatement, but its disturbing nature will keep you completely engrossed until the film’s ending. Going into the bathroom in his childhood home, Daniel unpacks Sacrificea couple of white candles and a number of metal implements, which is my only complaint in that we don’t get to see him use all of them. For an American Guinea Pig film, I must say that Daniel’s self-mutilation starts off rather tame with some deep slashes across his wrist that he ties off with a cable tie. After this, things get a whole lot darker and a whole lot more brutal. Daniel’s next implement is a razor blade that he uses to carve a marking into his forehead. From there, he takes out a power drill, first testing it upon his inner thigh and then using it upon his forehead where he had carved the marking. With this scene, we even get to hear as the drill crunches through his skull some.Sacrifice

I can’t really do the film justice telling the plot because there are so many psychological factors going on and even a stream of consciousness from Daniel during everything. Daniel goes from wanting to perform this big sacrifice for Ishtar as the book states to the revelation that he has made a big mistake. Near the end of the film was the particularly toe-curling moment for me when Daniel sounds himself (usually involves slipping a very thin piece of wire into one’s urethra to create pleasure) with a Phillips head screwdriver. The film is unabashed in its no-holds-barred approach to showing everything. Nothing in this film is ever implied or mentioned in speaking; it is shown in all of its intense brutality.

SacrificeOverall, I rather enjoyed Sacrifice and think that Poison Rouge has made an incredible film with numerous psychological and emotional levels. I highly recommend Sacrifice to anyone who is into gory flicks involving lots of torture and some rather dark moments deep inside the psyche of a man who is heavily disturbed.

There is still no word from Unearthed Films as to when it will be released, but I will make sure to keep all informed as I learn more!

MOVIE REVIEW: Annihilation (2018) [SPOILER FREE]

MOVIE REVIEW: Annihilation (2018) [SPOILER FREE]

Annihilation (2018)Annihilation is adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s book of the same name, and I had intended on doing a review based on the movie and book comparisons. After having seen Annihilation, I have decided against that because both the book and movie are excellent in their own way and each has a completely different feel. You can love the book and still love the movie separately; the book was cold and dark with almost no character development at all, whereas the movie was beautiful, bright, and mesmerizing, with a ton of character backstory.

Annihilation (2018)Natalie Portman stars as Lena, an ex-soldier turned biology professor who has recently lost her husband. Her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), also a soldier, went missing during his last expedition. Twelve months later he reappears with almost no memory of where he was or what happened. He becomes very ill and has to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance. On the way, they’re stopped by a military convoy and both Lena and Kane are sedated and taken to a facility. When Lena wakes, Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) immediately begins questioning her about how her husband returned and what he said about where he was. Dr. Ventress then explains that her husband is the only survivor to ever come back from Area X — the area the mysterious “shimmer” covers. The Shimmer began when an unknown force or object crashed into a lighthouse and then began to spread across the land, consuming or taking over everything it touched. The shimmer is beautiful and looks like the inside of a psychedelic soap bubble. It’s at this point in the movie that you’ll start to be sucked in by the beauty.

Annihilation (2018)Expeditions are repeatedly sent into Area X to try and find out what’s happening but no one has ever returned to until Kane, and when he does come back, he’s dying and has no memory. Lena asks to go on the next expedition in order to find a way to save her husband. Less than a week later, Lena, Dr. Ventress, Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), and Shepard (Tuva Novotny) set foot in The Shimmer to try and find some answers.

Annihilation (2018)Annihilation can’t really be put into one box; it’s sci-fi, it’s horror, it’s a modern-day arthouse, a thriller, and a drama. Some of the horror scenes were genuinely terrifying, and the gore was on point. It’s filled with excellent creatures and stunning and imaginative visuals driving a sexy, intelligent storyline. I can honestly say Annihilation is one of the best new films I’ve seen in the last ten years. I highly recommend watching it and I give it an 8.5/10.

Annihilation (2018)

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
EXTREME SCENE: Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

EXTREME SCENE: Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

Sometimes as horror lovers, especially extreme cinema fans, we have to dig deep and look to the past to find what we’re looking for. The 70s were a great decade for horror and exploitation movies, and I find a lot of hidden gems there.

Last House on Dead End Street (1977) is more of an exploitation film than anything else but it’s also subtly extreme cinema. It was made by film students who, after making it, were so ashamed they didn’t want their names attached to it. It really has something to offend everyone – I love that about it. The whole thing watches like a softcore porn combined with an arthouse and a grindhouse film.

Last House on Dead End Street is about Terry, a man newly released from prison for a drug charge, who wants to get back at society. He sets out to create a snuff film, “something really different”. At a party, Terry meets Jim Palmer, a pornography director, and his gay friend and film executive Steve, and they agree to team up to make a movie. During the party, Jim’s wife comes down donning blackface and gets whipped repeatedly while delighted partygoers watch and cheer, “Harder! Harder!” For some reason, Terry decides that the other two are taking credit for his masterpiece. After raping Jim’s wife, Terry Kidnaps her, another female porn star, Jim, and Steve to star in his snuff film.

The last 20 minutes or so is where it really breaks loose. The four victims are tied up and removed to be killed one by one. The whole sequence is a pulsing, whispering, echoing, eerie, flashing look into madness. The slowness of the kills and almost graceful movement alongside the pulsing music make it hauntingly beautiful as well as disturbing.

Jim’s wife gets the worst of it;, Terry and his film crew slowly slice her face, taunt her and remove her legs. By the end when they cut open her abdomen and remove her insides, she doesn’t flinch, unblinking and resigned to her fate, her silence far more disturbing than if she were screaming.

This movie makes an educated effort in offending by either showing or implying:

  • Animal slaughter
  • Beastiality
  • A graphic sex scene between horses
  • Blackface
  • Rape
  • Homophobia
  • Torture
  • Branding a human
  • Mutilation
and so much more…

I can’t claim that all extremists will love Last House on Dead End Street, but it’s worth their consideration.

Posted by Candace Stone in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
WiHM: Interview with Rakefet Abergel of Jax in Love (2017)

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

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

Rakefet Abergel's Jax in Love (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WiHM: Saara Lamberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE Pre-Release Review: Death House (2018)

EXCLUSIVE Pre-Release Review: Death House (2018)

Who prays for Satan, the original sinner?

This is the opening line to the highly anticipated film Death House. Originally written by the late, great Gunnar Hansen (co-written by B Harrison Smith, who also directs the film), Death House has been called by some “The Expendables of Horror”. In reality, it is a 90-minute cross-genre, mixing horror and action. So sit back, buckle up and let’s take a ride through Death House.

Death House is a virtual who’s who in the horror world. It is easier to tell you which horror icon is NOT in this film. Kane Hodder leads the pack on this all-star lineup. He is joined by Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace, Sid Haig, Felissa Rose, Tiffany Shepis, Sean Whalen, Vernon Wells, RA Mihailoff and I can go on.

Bill Moseley and Michael Berryman in Death House (2018)

The story follows Agents Boone (Cortney Palm) and Novak (Cody Longo) as they prepare to take an in-depth journey into “Death House”, a federal maximum security prison that does experimental testing on its inmates. The Prisoners experience virtual environments and studies are run in their natural environments prior to confinement. There are 9 levels of the Death House, with the 9th level holding “the 5 Evils”. This is going to be a key thing to pay attention to in the film. The agents take a virtual reality tour of the prison, its history, and are “introduced” to some of the prisoners.Satans in Death House (2018)

As the agents are touring the prison, the electricity goes out and all hell breaks loose, as do the prisoners. The prison runs on auxiliary power (it will be explained why they cannot restore power right away). The prisoners are able to leave their cells and begin to roam the prison, leaving dead guards in their wake. Like any great film where an escape is needed for survival, there is only one way to escape…get to the 9th level.

That is the general plot of the movie, without giving any key plot spoilers away. Time for my thoughts on this film. When I said that it is a roller coaster, I meant it. This movie takes you on a ride for 90 minutes and when you are done watching it, you have to ask yourself if you just watched or experienced your very own virtual reality tour. You will want to applaud when you see all of your favorite icons appear on screen and there are a few surprise cameos that are sure not to disappoint.

Speaking of things not disappointing, let’s talk about Kane Hodder. His performance in this film is nothing short of award-winning. In an ensemble cast of mega icons, he stands out. Following a private screening at Scare-A-Con, this past June,

Kane Hodder in Death House (2018)Caroline Williams said, “no one will ever call Kane just a stuntman again”. This has been referred to as “Kane Hodder’s movie” and I have no argument against that. Kane will always be known for his voiceless monsters (Jason Voorhees and Victor Crowley especially), but in this particular performance, he kills any rumors that he cannot be a leading ACTOR. He is absolutely brilliant in this movie.

I will admit, this movie will take watching more than once to truly grasp. Let’s be honest though, how many of us got the concept of Fight Club the first time through (put your hands down because you know just like me, you went back and watched it again after you figured it out)? Does this make Death House a bad film because you may have to go back and re-watch it? Of course not. Maybe you were in awe of the cameo to come on screen and missed something. There could be a lot of reasons why this may take seeing 2-3 times before you grasp everything. Guess what? That is by design and WHY this movie works as well as it does.

Let’s now address the white elephant in the room. This is NOT Freddy vs Jason vs Leatherface or any combination. Death House is a stand-alone movie that does pay homage to a lot of the classics that made us fall in love with horror. But it is not a retread, a reboot or anything like that. It has its own identity. It mixes the gore that the diehard slasher fans love, with the action the adrenaline junkies crave and also throws in a strong psychological plot that the thinkers lust after. This truly has something for EVERY horror fan.

Tony Todd in Death House (2018)

I’ve heard some people complain that the lighting was terrible, and the movie was too dark. I have 2 comments on that. Number 1, there was a power failure and all anyone has are flashlights, so how much light can there realistically be and give this movie the feel it is going for? And second, how many of us walk through a GREAT haunted house with little light? That type of haunted house where there was a new surprise at every turn. That one great haunted house where, when you are done, you want to go back! That is exactly what you feel while you experience Death House. I no longer say watch Death House, I say experience it.

Final thoughts

There are a few things I want you to take away from this before you Barbara Crampton, Cody Longo, Dee Wallace, Cortney Palm in Death House (2018)go and experience Death House. Dee Wallace is a living legend and her portrayal of Dr. Fletcher stands toe to toe with her performance as Donna Trenton in Cujo (and I am not kidding). Kane Hodder is a legit actor and no longer “just a stuntman” or “just great on-screen monster.” As I have mentioned time and again, this is a 90-minute roller coaster ride that will leave you wanting more. This movie was Gunnar Hansen’s dream and his baby. Go see this for Gunnar and view his vision. I wish he could be here to see this come to fruition. He, however, left it in great hands. You can see what Gunnar wanted, through the eyes of B. Harrison Smith.

And last, this movie is not your typical good vs evil. It was never intended for that. This shows that good is dependent on evil and evil dependent on good. The two cannot exist without the other. If you ever have an opportunity to meet and talk with B. Harrison Smith at a convention, he talks about this very thing.  This is actually the oldest storyline in existence. Was Lucifer not a fallen angel? The very opening line of the movie which I will remind you of is, “Who prays for Satan, the original sinner?” That line narrated over the opening credits is not just a cool way to open a movie. This film is the ultimate example of you cannot have evil without good and good without evil.

Death House was scheduled to open this weekend, but unforeseen circumstances created a delay. Next weekend it will open in LA and the following week it will expand to more markets including Philadelphia, (wherein the suburb of Cherry Hill, NJ, Monster Mania Con is going on that weekend and will have at least 2 stars from Death House, including Kane Hodder).

Overall Grade on Death House:

A+ and I wish I had a 3rd hand so I could give it 3 thumbs up.

For more on Death House and all updates on where and when you can experience this thrill ride, visit their official social media sites:

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EXCLUSIVE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 2 comments
American Guinea Pig: The Song of Solomon

American Guinea Pig: The Song of Solomon

The Song of SolomonRecently, I was given the honor and pleasure of being given a screening copy for Stephen Biro’s much-anticipated film The Song of Solomon. Another film in the American Guinea Pig series, I would say that it is Biro’s best film yet, and it is one of the best films that Unearthed Films has made to this date. Written, directed, and produced by Biro, he has given us an intensely dark, realistic, and thoroughly researched exorcism film.

The film begins with Mary Catan’s father waving a knife around and talking at her. It turns out that Mary has been spreading rumors that her father molested her and murdered his own father, even though neither of these statements is true. However, regardless of their validity, her father takes the knife and slashes his throat wide open and then pulls his tongue out through the gash. All of this happens within the first few minutes of the film so very quickly you will realize that Biro isn’t messing around. With that first scene, he has encapsulated the intensity and brutality to come throughout the rest of the film, but I won’t be sharing many gory details because spoilers piss me off.The Song of Solomon
Portraying Mary, the demon-possessed girl, and also portraying the demon, Jessica Cameron has brought the character to life in a very real way. It certainly helps that Biro wrote a fantastic script and screenplay as well. As the film progresses, we get to watch as different priests encounter the demon, and this certainly doesn’t end well for any of them. Interestingly, Biro has given each priest some fatal flaw/sin that distinguishes them from the others. From a child molester to an ex-soldier to even a priest who lost an exorcism and therefore lost his soul, we get to see a variety of people confront and attempt to banish the demon.

One scene that certainly stuck out to me involved the demon causing Mary to regurgitate her intestines up onto the bed in front of Father Corbin (Gene Palubicki) and then consuming them all shortly thereafter. With the cinematography, we are given a complete view of the grotesquery and also see the visceral reaction that such an act draws from Father Corbin. Certainly, not the most brutal or disturbing scene of the film, but it was rather memorable and some scenes are more prone to spoiling some of the plot’s surprises and twists.The Song of Solomon
As I said before, I think The Song of Solomon is Biro’s best film to date. I’ve already watched it a couple of times because there are so many levels to it that one viewing cannot do the film justice. In fact, as I watch it over and over, I’ve developed an even greater appreciation for the film and what Biro has achieved in an exorcism film that I would say is up there with The Exorcist, and in this critic’s opinion better than The Exorcist. There is no word on a release date yet for the hard copy, but I will certainly be purchasing it to add to my collection so that I might enjoy it in future years. Not to mention that I have gone through the largely coveted screener many times, watching it just on a computer monitor! When Unearthed Films makes The Song of Solomon available to purchase, I cannot recommend enough that it is one to buy, and if you’re lucky enough to see it on the big screen somewhere, then I envy you!

The Song of Solomon

INTERVIEW: No Solicitors (2015)

INTERVIEW: No Solicitors (2015)

Let’s be honest, we all hate them. We hear that knock on the door or the doorbell rings and we get that feeling in our gut and think, “Oh great, solicitors”. The recent film from director/writer John Callas, titled No Solicitors is a bit extreme for what I would do to them, but hey, to each their own.
Available now on DVD and VOD, No Solicitors has all the necessary ingredients for the genre: nudity, cussing, gore. Add to that a damn good-looking cast with veteran names like Eric Roberts, Beverly Randolph, and Felissa Rose. This was a crazy ride, the actors are all very likable even if they are batshit crazy. You really can’t stop watching because you have to see how it is going to end.
Let me give you an idea of what you are getting into, meet the Cutterman family. The father, Lewis Cutterman (portrayed by Roberts) is the country’s top brain surgeon. Rachel Cutterman (portrayed by Randolph, known for her pivotal role as Tina in Return of the Living Dead) plays dear old Mom. Rounding out the family is their beautiful daughter Nicole (Kim Poirier of the 2007 Dawn of the Dead remake) and handsome, All-American son Scott (Jason Maxim from Jurassic City) who take being part of the family business very seriously. That business happens to be harvesting organs to sell on the black market. They see it as doing a great justice to society since one person could save many peoples’ lives… And the extra meat is theirs to keep. Wait, did I mention they are cannibals, too?!

The Cutterman family from No Solicitors (2015)

Living in a beautiful home with a very prominent NO SOLICITORS sign by the door, they wait for them to come and ring the bell. Their latest victim is a lovely but bit insufferable realtor named Mindy (Lucy Walsh), who gets more than she bargains for when she stays for dinner to discuss selling their home. The cops snoop around, as always, along with a nosy neighbor. By the end though, you actually start to feel sorry for the damn solicitors, and just when you think it’s about to be over, a twist. I love twists.
House of Tortured Souls: I was able to interview some of the cast, they were all wonderful. My first question to all of them was do you have any funny true stories about an encounter you had with a solicitor?
Director/writer John Callas: In truth, I have chased a few away with a baseball bat – One guy said to me, “You’re crazy,” to which I replied, “Tell all your workers.” He never returned, nor was he eaten! – LOL
Beverly Randolph: I have stories every day with phone solicitors but they aren’t funny! Kidding.
Jason Maxim: It’s hard enough for UPS & FedEx to deliver packages to my apartment when I order from Amazon so I don’t really deal with unwanted solicitors. However, when I first moved to California, I delivered pizzas and a girl answered the door in lingerie. I’m pretty sure she did it on purpose. Does that count?

HoTS: As I delved deeper into the nuances of this film, I asked John how he came up with this idea.
JC: I was having lunch with a friend from Warner Bros., and he asked why I seemed upset. I explained that over my doorbell is a sign “No Soliciting”, but they keep on ringing my doorbell. They read the sign but chose to ignore the warning. He sits back and then says, “Why not write a story and kill them?” I liked that idea and took it from there.
HoTS: Upon talking with Beverly, I found out her favorite on-set moment, behind the scenes that is.
BR: The bedroom scene when Eric and I are in bed…. (NO, not the end of the sentence, haha!) and John Callas, the director, sees the bottom of my feet through the camera. He has someone get washing towels and washes the bottom of my feet! He could have told me that the bottom of my feet were dirty, and I would have gone and washed them. I am sure it was to save time but what chivalry. P.S. My feet were dirty because it was a bedroom scene, and I was running around without shoes on that day.

Beverly Randolph in No Solicitors (2015)

HoTS: I was also curious as to how she reacted to the script. Beverly is the most down-to-earth, sweetest lady and hard to picture as a cannibal.
BR: Loved the script. I was more focused on the dialogue and the story not the gore so much. The dialogue and story were intelligent, well thought out. When I saw the gore, that was different! Oh boy…lots of nervous giggling at that point. (Gotta love Beverly giggles, they are adorable.)
HoTS: I also got some time with Jason Maxim, the onset stud of the movie. I was wondering what it was like going from a movie such as Jurassic City to No Solicitors.
JM: Well, unfortunately, dinosaurs are extinct, so I went from shooting CGI bad guys to playing a bad guy, but I don’t think Scott is bad. I think, if anything, the scope and energy changed. I had a much larger role in No Solicitors and *spoiler alert* I don’t die in this movie. I really enjoy the science fiction genre because I’m kind of a nerd and I also really enjoy playing a soldier, so working on Jurassic City was a blast! [No Solicitors] felt like I took the energy home at times. I also swear one of our filming locations was haunted – that’s where I filmed the scene with Lucy and had to chop up body parts.
HoTS: Though he has never considered himself a model since he is under six feet tall, he was scouted when he was younger in both Boston and NYC. While he enjoys fashion and shooting print campaigns, like the one for Indian Motorcycles, he was always drawn to film. Perhaps his coolest gig though, he said, was to do pre-lighting for Matt Damon on the most recent Bourne installment..
JM: That job was a lot of fun because I got to pretend I was Jason Bourne and do these cool action poses on a treadmill etc.. If I was Matt Damon I would be worried, Jason definitely has him beat in the looks department.
HoTS: When I asked Felissa her thoughts on working on this film.
FR: With No Solicitors, I thought the script was a wild ride! Very unique in nature, and the cast is fantastic! I loved my character since playing victim can be awesomely delicious and fun to play that emotion. Since I was the producer on this I welcomed the time that I got to lie down! Lol! Most days I was running around like crazy!!!
HoTS: Also, she talked about how the crew and cast were all good friends. All the moments on set were really enjoyable.
Again, you can tell that the crew had a great time. This comes through in each scene. Check this film out and have some fun, just maybe don’t eat dinner while watching. Also, the book is available on Amazon as well. It has grittier details than the movie.
House of Tortured Souls would like to join Felissa and the rest of crew in dedicating this movie and review to Blake Heron. He played the intruder/rapist but many will remember him as Marty Preston from the 1996 kids film, Shiloh. Blake passed away in September of 2017. He was a beautiful person and an amazing actor. He will be missed.

Blake Heron
1982 – September

Blake Heron of No Solicitors (2015)

Happy Nightmares
Movie Review: Red Krokodil

Movie Review: Red Krokodil

In Domiziano Cristopharo’s film Red Krokodil, the viewer observes a man (played by Brock Madson) wrestle with an addiction to the incredibly detrimental drug krokodil. Now, krokodil is a desomorphine and is made through a process similar to the process to make meth and is made up of codeine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus to name a few. It received the name krokodil for the effects that it has upon the user, particularly at the injection sites where one’s skin turns green and takes on a scaly hue. Add to that an effect similar to necrotizing of the flesh and severe internal damage, and krokodil is one of the more lethal drugs in the world.

With these facts in mind, I shall dive into the beautiful and haunting world of Red Krokodil. Set in a post-nuclear city in Russia, the viewer is introduced to Madson’s character from the outset and the first impression of him is rather tragic because you find him with his hands, elbows, and knees wrapped in bandages and he is dressed in some rather ratty underwear. Long unkempt hair and what is certainly rather questionable hygiene and we are introduced to someone in the brutal throes of drug addiction. As the film progresses, we get to experience this man’s hallucinations and at points his personal self-loathing. The entire film undergoes a constant narration with Madson’s voice talking about why he does what he does, even though he even comments at one point that he wishes that he would stop with the injections of krokodil.

Madson lying in bed in Red Krokodil (2012)One thing to take note of in this film is Domiziano Cristopharo’s phenomenal direction and cinematography in showing both the visual damage that krokodil has done to this man and in how through the cinematography, Cristopharo shows the internal damage that this drug exacts upon the mind. From hallucinations to even a lucid scene where Madson has a very intimate interaction with himself whilst in bed, we see his mind deteriorate at a pace that is both equal and even worse than his physical deterioration. The physical damage that krokodil did to the body is shown in an unflinchingly fearless manner. As the film progresses and this deterioration becomes more and more obvious, the man unwraps the bandages from his body and picks away at the flesh as it just falls off. Even skin peels away as if it was just an extra layer of clothing.

Madson prepping for the Injection in Red Krokodil (2012)Just like those layers of skin and flesh, this is a very full-bodied film with a multiplicity of layers that demand one give the film multiple viewings. I am still processing everything I saw in the film and I am doing my best to avoid spoilers so that readers might go and see the film without knowing how the story unfolds. I can happily say that I will rewatch this film again and again. Gratefully, I’ve had the pleasure to converse with Domiziano Cristopharo directly concerning Red Krokodil and how it came to be! Discussing the film directly with Cristopharo he informed me that at the time, he was not happy in life and decided to quit filmmaking. Instead, he harnessed those feelings and began a trilogy signifying a journey from light to sadness and solitude. Red Krokodil is the purgatory aspect of his trilogy with Dark Waves being the paradise and Doll Syndrome being the hell. In addition, he informed me of how instead of quitting filming, he just needed a change in how he made films. For 8 months, Cristopharo couldn’t find an actor until Brock Madson came along, who after one sees the film can recognize is the perfect choice for the role.

In addition, it turned out that Madson had wrestled with drug addiction in the form of meth. So for them both, along with this being a journey, as Cristopharo put it, it was a way for them to exorcise their demons. Overall, I highly recommend this film, and give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Red Krokodil can be purchased on Blu-Ray and DVD from Unearthed Films!

Brock Madson in Red Krokodil (2012)

MOVIE REVIEW: Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) [SPOILERS]

Writer/Director: Gary J. Tunnicliffe; Stars: Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Heather Langenkamp, Paul T. Taylor, Gary J. Tunnicliffe; Rating: N/A; Run Time: 81 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

The Butcher from Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)When I first heard rumors of Hellraiser: Judgment, I was excited. Then I learned that Doug Bradley wouldn’t be in it. Again. My expectations dropped. While better than the ninth installment, it still falls short of what Hellraiser fans want and doesn’t even come close to capturing the feel of the first three. That said, it might have been a decent movie had it not tried to shoehorn itself into the Hellraiser universe.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Paul T. Taylor in Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)Despite a faux Pinhead, the opening scene is intriguing and hints of a new approach to the Cenobites and how they interact with humans. The box, it seems, is no longer sufficient to lure in pleasure- and pain-seekers and they are attempting to find new ways to attract the immoral to them. The addition of a bureaucracy to Hell (more like the Christian Hell rather than The Labyrinth) is not a new concept, but the execution is interesting if a bit hackneyed at times. However, it quickly goes downhill and begins employing gimmicks and jump scares in place of real horror. Once again we are presented with a detective story, but this time the murderer kills according to the ten commandments. How very Seven of it. Once the tale plays out and the murderer is revealed, no one is surprised. Indeed, it is telegraphed throughout and not the bombshell it should be.

Mike J. Regan in Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)The one aspect that is interesting is the depiction of Hell, God, and the afterlife, but these do not necessarily align with the actual Hellraiser universe. In this movie, we learn that God is “in on it” in that He allows evil to exist for without it, man cannot know true evil. This has long been speculated regarding both the Christian God as well as other “creators”, but the Hell of the Hellraiser universe is widely accepted as being an extra dimension rather than the biblical Hell, making this something outside of the mythology. While it is an admirable attempt to expand the universe, it ultimately doesn’t work because it goes too far astray from Clive Barker’s original universe. I would like to see this in an original, non-Hellraiser film, but such a film would definitely be compared to the Hellraiser series without radical changes.

The Surgeon from Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)The effects in Hellraiser: Judgment are solid, which is to be expected from someone who worked as closely with Hellraiser as Gary Tunnicliffe did, but effects alone do not make a good movie. Moreover, they tried far too hard to cram in the Hellraiser universe, even going so far as to repeat lines and duplicate items from previous Hellraiser movies. This, more than anything, felt forced rather than natural. The acting is competent but not spectacular, and Pinhead has little to do with the movie beyond tying it to the franchise. All in all, Hellraiser: Judgment is not a bad movie, but it’s also not a good movie. To be fair, Barker set the bar pretty high, and I applaud the attempt to bring something new to the mythology, but I wish Tunnicliffe had stayed closer to the source material and brought back the original (and only) Pinhead – Doug Bradley.

Final verdict: 4/10 claw marks, worth a watch but, as Mom used to say, nothing to write home about

Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Damon Carney in Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
Atroz: A Look Inside One of the Most Disturbed Films in History [SPOILERS]

Atroz: A Look Inside One of the Most Disturbed Films in History [SPOILERS]

Translated into English, atroz means atrocious, and that is exactly what we get out of Lex Ortega’s film Atroz. Set in Mexico and beginning with the police arresting two men who while driving drunk ran over a girl and killed her, one of the officers finds a camcorder. The film switches to found footage of the two men stalking a transvestite prostitute. It needs to be noted here that this film pulls no punches whatsoever. You quickly find out watching the footage these two deviants created that they are both incredibly hateful. Once they can get her alone, they knock her out and take her to a storage unit where they begin to torture her.

Atroz (2015)This is where I began to realize that this film wasn’t joking with its title being Atrocious. First, the men brutally beat this woman to the point that her face is just an unrecognizable mess of blood and gore. Whilst plenty of films have brutal beatings, Ortega takes it to a much more personal level by strapping the camera to the wrist of the man beating the prostitute. It will certainly make your stomach curl some when you see and hear the impact of the punches. Pausing at points, the men make sure to wipe the blood off the camera so that they can continue clearly filming every punch.

Atroz (2015)The sadism of these two deviants takes another turn when one of them takes out a pocket knife and slashes open one of the transvestite’s breasts pulling what seems to be silicone out of it. Certainly a nice toe-curler and, one might say, unique. Of course their depravity knows no bounds and to further torment the woman, one man unzips his pants and urinates over the open gash where her breast once was. While part of me wishes that I could say that this is the most extreme and fucked up that this film gets, I would be completely wrong.

Before continuing on, I must say that I found the approach that Ortega used to tell his story rather refreshing. After the camcorder is found, the film switches between the footage that the police continue to find throughout their investigation back to the present to show us how the police are handling the two deviants in question. Apparently, after the first tape, the police decided to treat these individuals like they had treated their victim, and the police begin to torture the two criminals.

Atroz (2015)Fast forward a bit and we hit the point that I think raises it to be one of the most extreme films to date. Finding another videotape, we watch as a father assaults his teenage son for being a homosexual. This quickly escalates to the father throwing his son down on the bed and anally raping him in front of his wife and daughter. At this point, after a few minutes of this act of sodomy, the footage skips to another point where the son has recovered and to say he’s angry would be an understatement. Beating his father and holding him at gunpoint, the son forces his mother to wear a strap-on dildo that is wrapped in barbed wire. The cinematography gets interesting at this point as we get to experience this boy force his mother to sodomize his father to death. The reason that I say it gets interesting is the point of view is switched to the strap-on as it begins to tear through the father’s anal and rectal cavities.

Atroz (2015)

There are certainly other atrocities to be seen in Atroz, but for me to reveal all of them to you, the reader, would be an injustice if you ever do decide to take the plunge and watch this film. As a fan of the extreme, I must say that Atroz shocked, disgusted, and even outraged me at points. The brutality alone certainly earns it the adage of being the goriest film in Mexico. Due to all of the things I mentioned, I would probably be remiss if I did not warn anyone who desires to view Atroz that it is not a film that you will quickly forget. In fact, it will ingrain itself upon your mind and soul. All of that having been said though, IF you have the stomach for it, watch it and let me know what you think. I’ll certainly be viewing it again!

Atroz will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD this week on February 13th and can be purchased from Unearthed Films.

MOVIE REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Writers: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham; Rating: R; Run Time: 86 min; Genre: Comedy, Horror; Country: New Zealand; Language: English; Year: 2014

Viago talks fashion in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Viago talks victim fashion

What We Do in the Shadows is probably the most original horror-comedy released in the last decade and is definitely my favorite. Presented as a documentary, What We Do in the Shadows follows the lives of four vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, in the months leading up to the yearly celebration of undead known as The Unholy Masquerade. If you haven’t seen it, you should do so as soon as you finish reading. You won’t regret it.

Viago wakes Deacon in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Deacon tells of his night out

In perfect mockumentary form, the film begins with a title card from the “New Zealand Documentary Board” and an explanation of the nature of the “documentary” before moving into the action. Viago (Taika Waititi), the 379-year-old defacto leader of the group, is the first vampire introduced as he wakes to his dusk alarm. As Viago wakes his flatmates, we are introduced to Deacon (Jonny Brugh) – the 183-year-old bad boy of the group, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – an 862-year-old former tyrant known as “Vladislav the Poker, and Petyr (Ben Fransham) – an 8,000-year-old Nosferatuesque vampire who spends most of his time alone or in his stone crypt in the basement. We are then treated to a vampire flat meeting to discuss chores, a scene that both establishes the personalities of the vampires and dynamics of the group, as well as the type of humor that viewers can expect throughout the rest of the film.

Vladislav explains his age in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Vladislav explains his youthful look

What We Do in the Shadows plays on traditional vampire tropes – the fear and danger of sunlight, shapeshifting, hypnosis, the lack of reflection in mirrors, and the need for human blood – but combines them with traditional roommate issues in a wholly unique and hilarious manner. We follow them as they go out on the town, acquire another flatmate (thanks to Petyr), make friends with a human, interact with werewolves, learn of technological advances that can benefit them, deal with vampire hunters, and, finally, attend The Unholy Masquerade.

Viago wakes Petyr in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Viago wakes Petyr

With What We Do in the Shadows, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have created a unique horror comedy that becomes funnier with each viewing. The attention to detail, direction, music, cinematography, and acting are all top notch. Following its success, Clement and Waititi have announced a sequel that will focus on werewolves living in Wellington, New Zealand, and will be called We’re Wolves (formerly titled What We Do in the Moonlight). IMDb lists this project as in development, and I can’t wait to see what they produce. In addition, late 2016 brought news of a New Zealand TV spin-off project called Paranormal Event Response Unit (or Paranormal Unit) and late 2017 brought news of an American TV spin-off called Wellington Paranormal. Both will be X-Files type comedies following Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O’Leary (Karen O’Leary) as they investigate supernatural happenings in the town of Wellington, New Zealand. Fans of What We Do in the Shadows will recognize Minogue and O’Leary as the officers who investigate a disturbance at the vampires’ flat. Not too shabby for a horror comedy mockumentary.

What We Do in the Shadows is available now on Amazon Prime, so catch it now if you get the chance. Check back with House of Tortured Souls for more information on We’re Wolves as we get it.

Vladislav has a succubus orgy in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Vladislav’s succubus orgy

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Will You Venture Into The Woods Once You See The RItual (2017)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) [SPOILERS]

Cloverfield Space Station in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)Director: Justin Onah; Writers: Oren Uziel, Doug Jung (Story by); Stars: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, Ziyi Zhang, Roger Davies, Elizabeth Debicki; Rating: TV-MA; Run Time: 102 min; Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Netflix blew all our nerd minds when they announced The Cloverfield Paradox would drop right after the Super Bowl. Everybody was excited to see where the series would go and if, indeed, it would be a more direct sequel than the brilliant but not very connected 10 Cloverfield Lane. The Cloverfield Paradox is set in the near future where energy is scarce and a ragtag group of astronauts tries desperately to resolve the problem but, of course, only makes things worse. What audiences get is a mixed bag. On the one crawling hand, you have an enjoyable eye candy sci-fi flick but it really doesn’t do justice in terms of the Cloverfield franchise (such as it is).

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) conspiracy theoristAt times, The Cloverfield Paradox is awkward and falls back on contrived space clichés, and the exposition is a bit clunky. The plot literally is summed up by a character at the beginning of the film. It can get a bit heavy-handed and uses the paradox/multiverse to “explain” away some pretty big leaps of logic even for a sci-fi film. What saved the film was that it fully embraced its own plot for better or worse and also injected some much-needed levity to keep things from getting too depressing. Chris O’Dowd seems to exist solely for comedic moments which is just fine by me. The somewhat disjointed plot is also anchored by some great performances.

Aksel Hennie as Voilkov in The Cloverfield ParadoxAs a middle-of-the-road fun sci-fi film, its good. You know the kind – it’s enjoyable to watch on a lazy Sunday while you’re still hung over. And forgive me if I might sound like a screaming fanboy, but as a Cloverfield movie, it just doesn’t cut it. Rumor has it the film was not meant to be a part of the franchise but was rather repacked with the infamous monster added in after the fact. After watching it, that seems plausible. My problem – and I think what other fans took issue with this – is that the Cloverfield element felt tacked on rather than an integral part of the film that would give the audience a true sequel to the modern classic monster film. At the end of the day, The Cloverfield Paradox is a flawed but very watchable movie despite its writing problems, but as a third entry in the canon, it sadly doesn’t live up to what audiences wanted or expected.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

The Guinea Pig Films: Flower of Flesh and Blood

The Guinea Pig Films: Flower of Flesh and Blood

Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)Following my run reviewing the August Underground Trilogy, it seemed rather apt that I should then do a run reviewing each of the six Guinea Pig films. A controversial series of films made in Japan between 1985 and 1990, each film featured an extreme amount of realistic violence so sadistic that the films were banned for around 15 years following their release. In addition, Hideshi Hino, the producer for the series, writer for some parts, and the director of the most notorious and well-known film Chiniku no Hana otherwise known as Flower of Flesh and Blood. Due to how real and brutal the films were, Hino had to prove that no one was hurt or killed in the making of these films. With Flower of Flesh and Blood the second film in the series, being the most notorious, I figured that it’s as good a place as any to begin a series on these infamous films.

Made in 1985 and written, produced, and directed by Hideshi Hino, a well-known Manga artist, Flower of Flesh and Blood also stars him as the serial killer dressed as a samurai. The premise behind the film is that this man wants to show people art as he sees it. As he demonstrates in the film, that art is created by lopping off body parts and letting the blood pour freely over a white mattress. In 1991, after viewing the film, Charlie Sheen contacted the FBI believing he had just watched a real murder on film. After demonstrating the special effects in The Making of Guinea Pig, Hino was cleared of all supposed wrongdoings. Of course, the controversies don’t stop there. Serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki had the film in a point of honor amongst his nearly six thousand videotapes. It was also believed for a while that Miyazaki copied the film in one of his many crimes, but this was proven to be false.

Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)Running at only 43 minutes, it is actually a short film, but it certainly packs the punch of a full-length feature. Starting out, we watch from the man’s perspective as he stalks and abducts this girl, who he then takes back to his home, ties her down, and drugs her. The drugs that he uses have a very pacifying effect and even make it so that she isn’t even aware of what he is doing to her. From this point forward, we watch as the man (once again portrayed by Hino) basically provides a documentary on his dismemberment of this woman for his personal collection. After each limb that he has carved off, he provides a little commentary concerning the “flowers” that the blood has created. This continues throughout the film and ends with him beheading her. While it is not for the faint of heart, I found that the film was made well, especially for 1985. The special effects are done well and the way the cinematography is done lends itself to a more realistic feel. The controversy is understandable when one takes these factors into consideration.

Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

This film gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Screw Calgon…Crowley Take Me Away

Screw Calgon…Crowley Take Me Away

As a loyal member of the Hatchet Army, I have been counting down the days for the VOD/Blu-ray release of Victor Crowley. This is the fourth installment of the Hatchet series from the sick mind of Adam Green (love you, Adam). That day is finally here, and I couldn’t have been happier when I got home and had this baby waiting for me. Thank you, Amazon.

Victor Crowley (2018)

Let’s talk synopsis… In my own words: Greedy survivor with brilliant manager crashed in swamp with misfit crew while wannabe director is busy stirring up old demons. Queue puns, ham acting, and lots and lots of GORE.

Yep, those are the makings of a great movie, so let’s get started.

I put this bad boy in tonight (fresh from the Amazon package), popped a Feisty Cherry Diet Coke, and was on my way. And I could not have been happier. The humor and ham right from the get-go warmed my heart. It was great to see good ol’ Hatchet Face again brought back to life by Kane Hodder. Then everyone’s favorite coward/hero Andrew Yong (Parry Shen). It was like a family reunion: wonderful familiar faces and then a few cousins you were not as familiar with that you get to know.

Young aspiring director, boyfriend, and her friend (Laura Ortiz from The Hills Have Eyes (2006)) travel to Louisiana to pitch an idea for a movie about the Honey Swamp Massacre to Andrew Yong. Keep going and you see the beautiful Felissa Rose, as the brassy publicist/manager to Andrew Yong. Felissa is best known for her role as the young Angela in Sleepaway Camp, Death House, and a slew of other bloody good Indie horror. She was brilliant as Kathleen and, at the risk of hurting Kane’s feelings, she kind of stole the show at first. After convincing Andrew to go back to the swamp for an exclusive interview (with who ends up being his ex-wife talk show host) on site, they board a plane to the bayou and introduce the new crew of misfits, one being the talented Tiffany Shepis as Casey, the on-screen love of Austin (Brian Quinn). Casey will have you almost in tears at one point if you have any heart at all. It is an interesting addition to the horror of the film.

After everyone gets to the swamp, the real fun begins. The director and her so-called team now include a tour guide who is really an actor according to him. This guy… you will love this guy – Dillon – portrayed by the wonderful David Sheridan. Yes, the same David Sheridan who we all loved as Doofy in Scary Movie. Once they all meet up, heads start to roll, and it couldn’t be more beautiful. You could tell that the entire cast had a freaking blast on this film.

The use of practical effects over CGI has always been one of the reasons I adore these films. The blood and brains and appendages look great and just a bit over the top… in good ol’ Hatchet fashion. And, just when you think after three Hatchet movies that you have seen it all, they show you some kills that just make your jaw drop. Don’t make any plans to have spaghetti or hamburgers when you put this movie on unless you have a strong constitution.

Be sure watch this all the way through. I won’t give anything away but sometimes it pays to sit through the credits. Just ask any Marvel fan.

Overall, this a strong addition to an already excellent franchise. With a great combination of an 80s camp film and the bloody gore we all want, I would say this is my second favorite of the series with the first being the original. Just can’t beat a classic. Adam Green and his crew have put together a hell of a movie, and I suggest that any Hatchet Army member out there take the ride. You won’t be disappointed, but make sure to keep your hands and feet in at all times.

Tech Aspects (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

  • Cast Commentary — Writer/Director Adam Green and Actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz and Dave Sheridan
  • Technical Commentary — Writer/Director Adam Green, Cinematographer Jan Michael Losada, Editor Matt Latham, and Make up FX Artist Robert Pendergraft
  • Raising the Dead — Again Interview with Adam Green
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Trailer/Teaser

Happy Nightmares!