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INTERVIEW: Poison Rouge – Director, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

INTERVIEW: Poison Rouge – Director, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

After recently watching American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice, I was so impressed with it that I reached out to the director Poison Rouge. I was surprised and delighted to learn that Sacrifice was her debut film and even more delighted when she consented to an interview. Actor and director Poison Rouge is quite the talent, and if you haven’t watched American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice already, I highly recommend you do so.

Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.

House of Tortured Souls: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’m very excited to connect with a talented woman who also loves extreme horror. Did you always want to be a director/actor?
Poison Rouge: No, thank you for your time and for supporting Indie films. Actually, I don’t yet know who I am or what I want to be in life, I just want to live it day by day. The fatal meeting with Domiziano (Christopharo) changed a lot of things for me, around me, and inside me. We first met at a tattoo shop where he was working. He did a tattoo for me, and we became friends and have been ever since. Now I see something — and someone — in myself that I didn’t see before. He suggested that I act in his sideshow first, then in his first feature film House of Flesh Mannequins (2009).
House of Flesh Mannequins (2009) / Fair use doctrine.
HoTS: What was your inspiration for this film?
PR: The story was already written. It was originally conceived as a horror comedy that Domiziano wanted to direct as the first chapter in his Trilogy of Death. The lead role was created for a woman, but the actress abandoned the project two weeks before starting. Domiziano asked me to take her place, and later he decided to give the direction of the movie to me so he could follow the second production (Torment). I turned the character into a male and removed the comedic tone to obtain something darker.

HoTS: Why did you choose to start with such an extreme film?
PR: Life decided for me, and I always accept the gifts that life gives me daily.

HoTS: I noticed a lot of well-researched references to the Goddess Ishtar. Why did you choose her or what is her significance to you?
PR: I love the fact that she is the goddess of sex, life, and destruction. The heart of motherhood in some ways. She’s a strong female figure that really describes the power of a woman outside stereotypes.

Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.

HoTS: What films and directors are your favorites and influenced your style?
PR: My favorite movies are any ones that involve Sly Stallone; I just love him! Especially Rocky.
In horror, my favorites are all the classics — Carpenter, Polanski, and Friedkin, etc.
I don’t think I really have a style yet. It’s impossible after only one feature, but I have a vision. My passion for art and painting is very visible in Sacrifice.

HoTS: I loved the gore and the practical FX in this one. I heard a rumor that the penis mutilation scene is partially real. Is that true? Please explain!
PR: Haha! You should watch the extras on the DVD to know more about it. I won’t say another word!
The FX are great and very realistic. Domiziano (aka Athanasius Pernath) is a master.

Interview: Poison Rouge with Domiziano Christopharo / Fair use doctrine.

HoTS: It’s really cool that your first film was picked up by Unearthed and is part of the American Guinea Pig series. Was it made specifically to be part four of AGP or was that something that happened after the fact?
PR: It was already in the works by Domiziano to be the first in his Trilogy of Death. He was planning for it to be the first Italian extreme horror saga. The references in the first film Sacrifice are from He Never Dies, the third installment in the Japanese Guinea Pig saga. Stephen Biro noticed us from the start and followed us every step of the way. He found the final result worthy of his American Guinea Pig series, and the rest is history!

HoTS: On a personal note it’s my understanding that you’re quite an accomplished bodybuilder and boxer. How did you get involved in it?
PR: Because I love Rocky and Stallone! He was my inspiration in filmmaking and made me want to act. It was only a natural next step to start fighting for real, too.
Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.
HoTS: I’d like to thank you, Poison, and Domiziano Christopharo again for agreeing to chat with me. You’re both talented artists and lovely people. I look forward to seeing your next film. After this incredible debut, I’m eager to see what you will do next.

Buy American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice at Unearthed Films

Check out the trailer for American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice.



Posted by Candace Stone in FEATURED ARTISTS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

Safe (2018)

Directed By: Tim Earnheart

Written By: Tim Earnheart

Starring: Nadine Nagamatsu, S Joe Downing, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Barceloux, Corrie Fleming

I had the pleasure of reviewing the short film Conduit at last year’s Shreikfest. It was a nice mash-up of action and horror and on a limited time and budget managed to tell a cool little story. This year I was extremely lucky to get an early preview of Mr. Earnheart’s latest short film entitled Safe. A woman’s (Nadine Nagamatsu) home is broken into by three masked men. They promptly demand the contents of a safe but not without some deadly consequences. Similar to Conduit, Earnheart masterfully subverts genre expectations and fuses the horror/home invasion genre with action and sci-fi. That seems like a recipe for disaster however with some clever writing and less is more approach it works surprisingly well. Further elevating the material is some on-point editing that creates a nice action-packed pace that keeps you glued from start to finish. Also, Earnheart shows off a nice crisp visual flare and employs some interesting camera work giving everything a polished look on a budget. Shout out to a great cast headed up by Nadine Nagamatsu who was in Tim’s previous films including Conduit. She brings a nice range to the part and thankfully doesn’t ham things up. On the surface, Safe seems like a typical slice`em up home invasion but thankfully it’s not. Once again I was very pleased that Tim can take a well-worn horror sub-genre and totally flip it on its head while injecting some great visual effects and action. I would love to see Safe turned into a feature film because it has such a great story that could easily be expanded on. Once again I was totally impressed by this young and up-and-coming writer, director.

Check out his other works — Conduit (Short) (2017), Working with Damian (Short) (2016), and Chapter 2 (Short) (2016).

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Begins Filming

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Begins Filming

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.As a kid, I was deeply interested in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but what really sold it was the artwork. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark were children’s stories with illustrations of things like rotting corpse brides, spiders coming out of a girl’s face, and disfigured salesmen. “The Drum” is by far my favorite story with a truly terrifying ending that didn’t need any illustration. Your mind couldn’t even draw what you heard.

As years went by, the books sold out every Halloween. Except during a time when the books were reprinted without the artwork. Yup, that really happened.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.The books hold a special place in all of us ― old and young ― who read them. For the young, this was an introduction to horror literature, and for the old, it was a return to simpler horror.

Several years ago there were rumors that Guillermo Del Toro was interested in adapting the books into a film. The Internet (myself included) went crazy in anticipation. Initially, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was going to be an anthology. Then talks of the film grew quiet, and other films were released. Still, it was somehow in development; that much was certain.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Guillermo del Toro
Zoe Margaret Colletti to be in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / IMDbAt first, Del Toro was going to direct, but the project passed down to André Øvredal, who directed The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Trollhunter (2010). The film is written by Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman who also co-wrote The Lego Movie (2014). Del Toro will be producing and will be heavily involved. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has also cast its first star, Zoe Colletti, who will play a character named Stella Michaels.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a huge deal during a year that seems rife with horror novel adaptations. With Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, IT: Chapter 2, and Pet Semetary (remake) being hot novel-to-screen adaptations, this season may well introduce a new generation of fans to the books and maybe, just maybe, even make the fans of the books excited to see their beloved characters on the big screen.

I’m extremely excited for this movie. Or maybe movies? Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has enormous potential for a trilogy. Shooting started this week, so does that mean we could see a 2019 release? House of Tortured Souls will be following all the details of the movie through production and right up to the release, so be sure to check back for updates.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Jai Alexis in CAST AND CREW NEWS, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

It was a Sunday afternoon one year ago today and the news popped up on Social Media. George A Romero had passed away at the age of 77. Today we are remembering George A Romero: One Year Later.

George A. Romero as seen in the documentary "Birth of the Living Dead."

George A. Romero as seen in the documentary Birth of the Living Dead

Born in New York in 1940, Romero started out shooting short films and commercials after college in the early 1960s. In 1968, a film he made with John Russo would change a horror sub-genre as we knew it. With a budget of $114,000, Night of the Living Dead unleashed itself on October 1, 1968.It gave a new life and spin on the zombie film. The Godfather of Zombies would make several films over the years, but the —– of the Dead titles would always be what he would gain his fame for. There are six —– of the Dead films in total, with the last one, Survival of the Dead, released in 2009. Romero directed all 6 films.

georgeromero-zombielove / Fair use doctrine. George Romero and friends / Fair use doctrine.

Romero attended several horror cons starting in the early 2000s and continued until right before his passing. He would frequently talk about his films, give his thoughts on the state of the zombie film and share memories with the fans. Romero battled a brief battle with lung cancer, before passing away in his sleep last year on this day. Three months after his passing in front of the Hollywood Toys and Costume Store at 6604 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood honored him posthumously. On October 25th, he finally was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The bittersweet moment of the award is that many felt it should have come years earlier and while he was still alive. He was also honored this past March in the Oscar Memoriam presentation.

ZombieGurl with George A. RomeroCrypt Keeper Clint with George A Romero

Please join everyone at House of Tortured Souls in remembering the “Godfather of the Zombie Film”, George A Romero on the one year anniversary of his passing.

Mad Monster welcomes George Romero

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
National Tattoo Month Salute: Chop Shop Tattoos

National Tattoo Month Salute: Chop Shop Tattoos

July is a spotlight month on tattoos, the people who proudly wear them and the artists. July 17th is National Tattoo Day and I would like to shine the spotlight on one artist. Tattoos a mere 30 years ago were looked at with such disregard that people were looked down on if they had any. Fast forward to now and more people have them than do not. In the home of one of the Army’s largest posts, Fort Bragg, is Chop Shop Tattoos.

Located in the Fayetteville Suburb of Hope Mills, NC, Chop has been a staple in the community for 16 years. One of his specialties is horror. Chop (a former member of the Army) is a proud horror fan. He also loves tattooing horror icons. He has over the last year completed “signature pieces”. These are the faces of the icons and their signatures that follow. Robert Englund’s website, this past spring, featured a piece by Chop of Freddy Krueger for a fan.


The Freddy piece complemented a Leatherface tattoo Chop finished in the winter.

Leatherface tattoo with Gunnar Hansen’s signature, done by Chop Shop Tattoos.

Chop says that he has been tattooing for 20 years and constantly looks for new challenges. He loves horror pieces and frequently discusses the movies of the icon he is tattooing. Some of his other iconic pieces have been portraits of Danny Trejo and Edgar Allen Poe.

So fellow horror fans (especially those with ink), please join me in saluting a horror ink master. Let’s all say Happy Tattoo Month to the man they call Chop!

Chop of Chop Shop Tattoos

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus (2018)
Directed By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Written By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Starring: Deniz Turku, Berfin Batir, Elfif Gonen
Country: Turkey

International Screams showcases shorts and features from around the globe and helps you discover exciting new talents. This month we have a short from up-and-coming writer/director Berk Büyükbingöl.

Birth of Venus (2018)Birth of Venus tells the story of two sisters who survive a horrific car crash and struggle with the psychological effects that come with it. But what bloody lengths are they willing to go for the sake of beauty?

Discovering a really solid short is always exciting and something that makes my job as a journalist fulfilling. Berk infuses his short with plenty of morbid nightmare-like images and some pretty palpable scares. He does this by focusing on the technical side of things, and it’s clear that he really knows how to not only fill his frame for maximum frightful effect but also to slyly misdirect, leading to some nice jump scares. He also really knows how to put together, and the editing is on point. This is most evident in the surgery scene.

Birth of Venus (2018)

Giving the film the bulk of its mood is the stark black and white photography. Believe it or not, this is not an easy medium to work in as one might think; however, he does it extremely well, and the end result is a dread-filled fever dream. Büyükbingöl isn’t afraid to go into the surreal; for example, the strange dance sequence is pure Lynchian at its finest. If I had to raise a complaint it would be that, even though this is a freer formed narrative, I feel like the story gets lost and certain plot elements could have been a bit clearer.

When asked what inspirations he drew for this project, Büyükbingöl had this to say:

Mainly the black and white French Horror film Eyes Without a Face inspired me to do it. I tried to mix [The] Texas Chainsaw Massacre with it as well. How far you can go to make your most beloved relative happy? This is the question I asked myself when making it.

Despite a few story issues, Birth of Venus is a creative and visually interesting horror short by a talented filmmaker which most certainly has a future in the industry.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

Occupation (2018) The Conquest BeginsI was fortunate to get a chance to meet up with Australian filmmaker Luke Sparke at the Supanova Convention in Sydney on June 16, 2018, and afterward, attend his special Q & A session to discuss the worldwide release of his latest film Occupation.

Also in attendance was some of Sparke’s amazing Australian and New Zealand cast including Dan Ewing, Rhiannon Fish, Stephanie Jacobsen, Izzy Stevens, Zachary Garred, Felix Williamson, Trystan Go, Charles Terrier, and Ben Chisholm.

Ewing and Chisholm have both appeared previously in Sparke’s debut feature film Red Billabong back in 2016 (the first film premiere I attended), which was the story of two brothers and an ancient battle with a mythological Australian being.

Sparke has revealed that a prequel to Red Billabong is in fact in the works and will feature other indigenous creatures, such as the Yowie. The story will be set during the roaring 1920s near Uluru in the Northern Territory (Australia) – infamously known for the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 (aka “A dingo ate my baby” case). This prequel is still in the development stage but very much in production, and Sparke himself says, “There was so much I can do in that world of the Bunyip, that I didn’t get to explore in Red Billabong. I’m excited for what we can expand on.”

Occupation (2018) alien at Supernova ConventionSparke’s newest film is due out in the USA on July 20, 2018 and in Australia on July 12, 2018). Surprisingly, a sequel to Occupation was already announced on May 31, 2018, with details yet to be made clear (to avoid spoilers on the first film). The second script has been in the works since November of 2017.

During the Q & A, attendees were treated to a 90-second clip from Occupation that featured a bit of intriguing story-line elements, stunning visual effects, and some impressive creations for our alien antagonists.

Next came a behind the scenes video diary look at some of the footage, and Temuera Morrison began to speak about the film and the plot, saying, “You stop for a pie somewhere and all hell breaks loose.” He praises the diversity of the cast that Sparke has assembled before we meet Rhiannon Fish, who praises Temuera Morrison’s amazing guidance of the younger cast and explains how the rain machines cause a mild form of PTSD. Charles Mesure interjects to discuss the concepts of aliens invading a small Australian country town followed by Jacqueline McKenzie’s praise of Sparke’s ingenuity employing the $6 million budget to maximum impact and creating such amazing visual effects. Dan Ewing appears on-screen and says, “Luke has made such a human piece. The best part is when you get to blow stuff up.” Finally, we are treated to an array of fantastic looking stills, and he joins the cast in attendance on stage.

  • Luke Sparke: It is a fantastic Australian-made thrill ride with dark and light themes, a fun action adventure that Aussie films are lacking at the moment. The inspiration was that I was the child of the 1980s and in LA pitching films, and I came up with this based on loving sci-fi and six months later we were filming. Dan found out at Hog’s Breath Cafe.
  • Dan Ewing: Yes, we were at lunch when Luke told me about it and the richness of the characters. It was exciting.
  • Stephanie Jacobsen: I was in LA and said to my agent that I wanted to go back to Australia and do a sci-fi film, and strangely two weeks later got offered script, read it, leapt at it, and signed on.
  • Zachary Garred: I was sent an email, and it was, of course, ambitious and exciting, so it was an easy yes.
  • Rhiannon Fish: I was just so excited and wanted to sign on immediately!
  • Trystan Go: I was happy to work in the family law and for this, I assumed I would be able to shoot aliens.
  • Charles Terrier: Luke actually played a joke on me and said, “Ahhhh you didn’t get it just move on”. Then [he] said “Nah, I’m fucking with you”, and laughed.
  • Ben Chisholm: I said yes and wanted it to become a country and western. And to fight aliens.

The next question posed was regarding the Australian setting because we have all seen the USA being attacked and fighting back.

  • Luke: Yeah, it’s been done. So we turned it on our own shores, and we get to see those people we all know and they all band together and fight back, which is what the Aussie spirit is all about!
  • Charles: It was cool learning the military histories and all from that background and hanging out with ex-servicemen and learning from them.
  • Dan: It was a surprise for me how rich and how deep the characters were…. how cool they are and how much you care about these characters.
  • Trystan: It was so visceral that you can’t help [but] amazingly get involved in the story.
  • Luke: The fact [that] this is opening in USA cinemas is a testament that the cast and crew were amazing.
  • Rhiannon: Well, going from The 100 and then returning to do Aussie sci-fi was fun. I do love the world of sci-fi because anything is possible, but the difference is that Australia is home and it is wonderful to get to come back and work on an incredible film here.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Stephanie Jacobsen, Dan Ewing, Izzy Stevens, Rhiannon Fish, Trystan Go, and Writer/Director Luke Sparke.

The cast was then asked how they relate personally to their characters.

  • Stephanie: For me, she kind of assumes the big sister role and is very protective, as I am. That’s how I related to her.
  • Dan: I think it is okay for people to not be okay. Men are so often ruled by their egos. At times I was sharing my pains, depressions, or my demons as my character, and we see him develop and grow as a man.
  • Izzy: I gained independence at an early age, and I related to that in Isabella, and I did think I was like that and knew a lot and protected my family.
  • Rhiannon: I felt like it was far less of a stretch, and she was just easy to relate to.
  • Trystan: He is a teenager, and I am in high school. (laughs)
  • Zachary: Well…homeless Dennis has stayed on a few couches and backpacked a little, ’cause he’s shifty and a survivalist. And that’s what I try to do and find that gold inside it.
  • Ben: I am an asshole, and he’s an asshole. Nah, I loved his loyalty and how it puts him in opposition with other characters.
  • Felix: Major Davis is a kick-ass soldier and we have absolutely nothing in common, but I did enjoy the adventure of pretending to be him and enjoyed it.

Destroying the opera house is becoming a regular thing, and not too many real invasion stories, but Australia seems to be ripe and worried about big invasions. How did you think you could bring a new twist to the film within the genre?

  • Luke: What I wanted to bring was —for the big fans of films like Red Dawn, like me — I wanted to bring something more to this film. The working together, fighting aliens, those ten people who wouldn’t have had anything to do with one another anyway. A real sense of reality, the past and bringing that to the story. Not trying to save the world, but the sense of reality and character and to see where it goes from there.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Felix Williamson, Ben Chisholm, Charles Terrier, Zachary Garred, Stephanie Jacobsen, and Dan Ewing.

Did you find yourself looking for other influences, like hanging with military guys, specifically Australian military? What assistance did you get?

  • Luke: I went to the military, and the ADF (Australian Defence Force) didn’t wanna be involved. So I got ex-military involved instead.
  • Dan: Matt was more originally that Captain America type of leader, but his injury led him into a depression and made it so that the aliens were the least of Matt’s problems.
  • Zachary: Dennis was originally a tattooist, and Luke couldn’t find a parlor grungy enough for his character, so Luke dropped the character and I spoke to Luke and ran with our concept of Dennis from there.

The logo is the second commandos insignia. How did you get permission to use it, and what Australian laws allowed the film’s use of firearms?

  • Luke: Yes, it is. Of course, [for] the logo… we went to the lawyers and spoke with the army brand manager. We told them what we were going to be doing with it, changed it enough to look somewhat different, and they were fine. As for the weapons, Armour in Queensland helped us, and we used best from Sydney. We used proper licenses to shoot at a quarry and it became very loud. The next day was a huge thing on Facebook because we made too much noise, much more than expected.

Are there any drop bears in Occupation?

  • Luke: Actually the AFL team in the film is called the drop bears.

Finally, how did you decide to base it in more of a country town than in the cities like Balmain or Cronulla?

  • Luke: International people think of country or the bush with Australia, and you do see Sydney throughout the film. Small town Australia is very personifying and that small town country feel and the budget as well….but the big things have small beginnings.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Ben Chisholm, Charles, Zachary, Stephanie Jacobsen, Dan Ewing, Izzy Stevens, Rhiannon Fish, Trystan Go, and Writer/Director Luke Sparke

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, SCI-FI HORROR, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

Harlan Ellison / Fair use doctrine.Around 1988, I had the great pleasure of spending two days off and on with Harlan Ellison. My first encounter was as part of a group of six having dinner with Harlan Ellison the night before he was to speak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When we met him in his hotel lobby, we discovered that no one had bothered to tell Harlan. There were mutterings of what to do, our group asking Harlan because he seemed annoyed. In typical Harlan fashion, he snapped, “Don’t ask me what I want to do because I want to go upstairs and go to bed.” Without missing a beat, I asked, “So should we all go upstairs and go to bed with you?” Harlan’s face was priceless, but the ice had been broken and we proceeded to dinner and an evening I will always remember.

Harlan was cantankerous, abrasive, temperamental, kind, considerate, and a force all his own. I will miss him deeply.

Original cover for Harlan Ellison's Rumble, now titled Web of the City.Born in 1934, Harlan Ellison grew up in Ohio and briefly attended Ohio State University before being expelled allegedly for punching a teacher who had criticized his writing ability. Ellison also served two years in the army in spite of being staunchly anti-war. Ellison published his first work in 1958, a novel titled Rumble, now retitled Web of the City, a semi-autobiographical non-fiction recollection of his time in a Brooklyn gang. The same year two short story collections were published, A Touch of Infinity and The Deadly Streets. After working in television for many years, Ellison published The Glass Teat in 1970, a collection of essays reflecting his opinion of television. The Other Glass Teat, published in 1975, is a follow-up work in the same vein.Harlan Ellison's The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat

Harlan Ellison was an American author whose fictional pieces were often of a science fiction, horror, or sci-fi horror nature, but anyone who ever called Harlan a “science fiction” writer never made that mistake a second time. Harlan eschewed labels that pigeon-holed his writing. Ellison’s 1,700+ published works include teleplays, screenplays, novellas, comic book scripts, and short stories as well as essays and critiques of television, film, literature, and more. For his work, Ellison has won Jupiter, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Writer’s Guild of America, and Edgar awards. In 2000, Ellison also received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for his contributions to the field of horror literature.

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog

Ellison’s work can be seen on television shows such as Star Trek, The Sixth Sense, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Hunger, Logan’s Run, and Babylon 5. In 1975, Ellison’s novella A Boy and His Dog was adapted into a movie with a very young Don Johnson and a (not as young) Jason Robards (Harlan, though not pleased with the adaptation, kindly autographed my copy). His 1967 short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, a post-apocalyptic tale of sentient computers and suffering humans, won the Hugo award that year and is often considered one of the greatest post-apocalyptic stories of the 20th Century.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison's "The City on the Edge of Forever", one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”, one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

Ellison was also known for taking a vocal stand when he perceived that his work was being butchered or his creative contributions undermined. When this happened, Ellison would direct that the credits read Cordwainer Bird – save when he disagreed with changes to the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”. Interestingly, both Ellison’s original script and the shooting script won awards, the former being the Writers Guild for best episodic television drama (1968) and the latter being a Hugo for best dramatic presentation (1968). This episode also inspired the punk band Edith Keeler Must Die and the song “Edith Keeler Must Die” by Arigon Starr, both named after Spock’s assertion that, “Jim, Edith Keeler must die.” Nevertheless, while Hollywood may’ve not appreciated his efforts, Constant Readers certainly did. For fans, the name Cordwainer Bird immediately evokes knowing nods and “Um-hms”.

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Regardless of his irascibility, his work has influenced countless other authors. Stephen King speaks fondly of Harlan and other authors who helped answer questions for Danse Macabre, his 1981 non-fiction book on horror in media.

Lastly, thanks are due to the writers— Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Jack Finney, Peter Straub, and Anne Rivers Siddons among them— who were kind enough to answer my letters of enquiry and to provide information about the genesis of the works discussed here. Their voices provide a dimension to this work which would otherwise be sadly lacking.
— Stephen King

I think that sentiment is as appropriate now – Harlan’s death will leave the world and the world of fiction sadly lacking. Rest in peace, Mr. Ellison.

I’d like to end this with another anecdote from my adventure with Harlan. Among the many outstanding moments, this one stands out above the others.

After dinner, we walked around 5-Points South and stopped to look over some items in the window of Memory Lane. I spotted a button that read “WAR is Menstruation ENVY” and laughed outrageously. We all agreed that it was awesome. The following day Harlan spoke to a small group from the UAB Honors Program. I arrived late to find that he had saved me a seat beside him. As I sat down, Harlan presented that same button to me. I still have it.

Thank you, Harlan. Rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR NEWS, OBITUARY, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
The First Trailer For Halloween (2018) Is Here!

The First Trailer For Halloween (2018) Is Here!

While we are 4 months and 11 days (not that I am counting) from the premiere of the new Halloween film, the first trailer is finally here! October 19th (a week before my birthday) is a day fans of the franchise are waiting on, but today is also pretty special. It’s our first look at the trailer that puts the Halloween “Dream Team” together for the first time in decades. Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle will be together for the first time since 1978, when Castle played The Shape.  John Carpenter who created all of the characters is also on board with the music.  Carpenter also serves as an Executive Producer.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode in the new Halloween.

 

John Carpenter will serve as an Executive Producer in the new film.

 

Nick Castle as Michael Myers in the new Halloween.

Halloween will pick up 40 years after the first film and will disregard any of the sequels (and remakes). This has upset some fans, while others are just thrilled to see “the band back together”. The trailer is below. Rest assured, I will be there opening night to see this final battle of Laurie vs Michael!

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

For the first time, the Days of the Dead convention invaded Charlotte, NC this past weekend. They brought in a big lineup that included horror and rock icons. Some of those names are Heather Langenkamp, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Linda Blair, Tony Todd, Dee Snider, and Vinnie Vincent.

Friday night was night 1 of the event and at the end of the night was a Hall of Fame Induction. Days of the Dead honors a popular guest who has helped evolve the show and also an Indie Film Maker. The Charlotte show’s inductees were Heather Langenkamp and Tommy Faircloth. Langenkamp, of course, is known for her work in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Faircloth is a Carolina native who has made films for years including Family Possessions. He is working on a new project called Nun’s Curse, which he has a crowdfunding campaign going. So congratulations to both Heather and Tommy!

 

This con was similar to most cons as there were panels, photo ops and chances to meet and get signatures from popular horror icons. The panel I found the most interesting was the Friday The 13th Part 6 panel. There were five cast members (CJ Graham, Thom Mathews, Darcy DeMoss, Tom Fridley, and Kerry Noonan) along with writer/director Tom McLoughlin. This had been the first convention appearance for Noonan, so this group has not been together since filming ended 32 years ago.

Now having traveled to several conventions just in this calendar year, I have seen a lot of great and some not so stellar moments. I have seen some things happen at shows that angered a lot of fans. Days of the Dead did not seem to have those issues this past weekend. Let me qualify this by saying that yes, I was a volunteer at this show. I have volunteered at several shows though. Does that mean that Days of the Dead has mastered how to put on a show? Not exactly.

They have put on 26 shows now in the last decade, so after a while, you learn what can and cannot work. I will also say they did have an advantage that some of the other conventions did not have. Timing. Days of the Dead came after some other shows that had problems. A lot of volunteers do work more than one show, and they post on social media about their experiences. Thus, the staff at Days of the Dead were able to see what problems other conventions experienced and had time to make sure they would not happen at their show. Again, this was their 26th show, and they have run in at least six states. They also hosted an open forum for fans to voice their ideas, issues, suggestions, complaints, etc. They wanted to ensure the fans knew they had a voice.

Let’s talk attendance. The attendance was not nearly what other shows have done. This has caused some people to say the show was unsuccessful. There have been shows in other cities where the crowds were so massive that the fire marshals were called. It’s a double-edged sword. Is there a perfect amount of people that is just right if this was too small and others were too big? I don’t have the answer to that.

What made this show work was that they secured a hotel big enough for fans to spread out. There was also a rhyme and reason for the celebrity layout. The celebrities all seemed to have a great time, including Kerry Noonan, who was often seen having fun with the fans.

What made this show seem to flow smoothly (at least from the perspective that I saw) was that Days of the Dead used a wash, rinse, repeat method. They booked a lot of celebrities that they have used at other shows, and they mixed them with some first-timers. They also used the same core volunteers and staff members that work most of, if not all of their shows.

Were there some hiccups? Sure. Tony Todd had an unexpected family issue come up and was not available for the show on Sunday. I was assured everything is okay, but it had to be taken care of. Life happens, and these celebrities are just like us. Were there some issues with the hotel? Yes. Was the crowd smaller than expected? Yes. But this was the first show Days of the Dead has run in North Carolina, and there are growing pains when you are dealing with a brand new venue and city.

There were some very creative fans that put their cosplay skills to use. There was an entertaining band called Elzig (a cross between Elvis and Danzig) that played the afterparty.

So final analysis. Was this a perfect show? Of course not. Has Days of the Dead found a formula that works for them? Yes. Were there things that could have gone better? I am sure that there are. Most of the fans that I spoke with were extremely happy and excited. Some fans voiced that there was not clear signage of where the panels were being held, but they were happy that team members on the floor were able to guide them in the right direction. Are there changes Days of the Dead can do make improve before their next show? Yes. That will always be the answer, though. This was overall a very successful show, especially for their first run in a new city.

Overall Grade: A

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Remembering Margot Kidder

Remembering Margot Kidder

Everyone at House of Tortured Souls is saddened to learn of the death of actress Margot Kidder. Kidder passed away at her home in Montana on Sunday. She was 69. Margot Kidder spent 50 years acting, with her first credit coming in an episode of Wojeck in 1968. She would gain her most notable role 10 years later. In 1978, Kidder wowed audiences opposite Christopher Reeve in Superman, playing Lois Lane.  She would keep that role in Superman’s 3 sequels.

Horror fans will remember Kidder from 1979’s The Amityville Horror where she played Kathy Lutz, opposite James Brolin. She continued acting all the way through 2017.

Kidder’s toughest role may have come in 1996 when she had a manic episode. The episode caused her to become homeless for a while, and she was reported missing for four days. She would be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and be under doctor’s care. Years later, Kidder, who was open about her disorder would become an advocate for mental illness. She had stated that she had not any episodes in many years after being on medication.

Margot Kidder in Brian DePalma's Sisters (1973)

Kidder was scheduled to be at Motor City Comic-con this upcoming weekend in Detroit. Officials have not released a cause of death at this time. Our thoughts here at House of Tortured Souls are with Margot’s family.

Rest In Peace, Ms. Lois Lane.

Margot Kidder
1948-2018

Woofer's Paw Print icon microscopicEditor’s Note: If you know someone who is or might be suffering from mental illness, please reach out and be that friend.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre – Interview with Vanessa Rose Parker, 3 of 3

EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre – Interview with Vanessa Rose Parker, 3 of 3

Well, we held it as long as we could, but it’s time to exhale and enjoy as we finish up our 4/20 MASSACRE exclusive with an interview with Vanessa Rose Parker.
House of Tortured Souls: What was your first impression of the 4/20 MASSACRE script?
Vanessa Rose Parker: Honestly, I have been working on this project in so many forms that I don’t remember my initial thoughts about it. I remember that I got really excited by the prospect of an all-female main cast. I wanted to make sure that we were treating each character with respect and humanity. We spent a lot of time crafting backstories for each character that would give each actor something unique to work with and give each character a moment to shine.
Jamie Bernadette and Vanessa Rose Parker in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

Jamie Bernadette and Vanessa Rose Parker in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

HoTS: Are you a fan of the genre?
VRP: Yes! I am a horror fan. I absolutely love being scared. And there are certain things that will get me every time… demons and scary ghosts, specifically. I don’t know if it is my lapsed Christian upbringing, but the supernatural world scares the shit out of me! Now there are certain sectors of the genre that aren’t my favorite, like torture porn. But even with that, I think there are exceptions that prove all horror sub genres can be done well.
HoTS: I heard you did your own stunts. What was that like?
VRP: Stunts were a little intimidating. But I worked with our amazing stunt coordinator, James Gregory, and he really took care of me. He patiently took me through everything step by step and always made me feel very safe on set. My biggest stunt involved running in the forest, being shot through the leg with an arrow, and falling to the ground. When it came to actually shooting it, my husband/director, Dylan Reynolds, didn’t seem satisfied with my performance. He made me do so many takes of it! Eventually, he seemed to give up and want to move on. Then during the editing process, Dylan came out and apologized for being hard on me that day…. he used the first take!
HoTS: What would you say was the most difficult or challenging aspect of this shoot?
VRP: The most challenging aspect of this project was the budget and time restraint. We only had ten days to shoot. Seriously, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to take all ten off of work because I didn’t have enough vacation time. But the gods of indie movies shown down upon us and everything worked out. So many wonderful and talented people were willing to work with us and added their hearts to our project. I think it really shows.
HoTS: Would you mind recounting one memorable behind the scenes story?
VRP: After long days of shooting, the cast and crew would get together in the cabins’ common room, drink, and play games. One night we split into two teams and played Encore, a singing word challenge game. It was so evenly matched and got so competitive that the game went on into the wee hours, but we were too stubborn to quit. At about 2 am, when we had a 6 am call, we finally called it a tie. Marissa Pistone (plays Michelle) and I were the heads of each team and we were practically crying to stop, but neither of us would back down. Marissa is a beast. Consider yourselves warned!
Justine Wachsberger, Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Marissa Pistone, and Stacey Danger in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

Justine Wachsberger, Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Marissa Pistone, and Stacey Danger in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

HoTS: What are you working on currently?
VRP: Currently, we are focused on getting this movie out into the world! But then after a little Caribbean vacation, we are going to regroup and see what we’d like to tackle next.
So there you have it, Souls. The final 4/20 MASSACRE exclusive. I’d like to thank Vanessa Rose Parker for her time. Don’t forget to check out my review as well as my interview with 4/20 MASSACRE writer/director Dylan Reynolds.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR COMEDIES, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

So we all know Ash vs Evil Dead was canceled recently and that star Bruce Campbell lashed out against those who were illegally downloading the show. Unfortunately, pirating movies and TV shows has gone deeper than that, and it has made life for filmmakers even more challenging.

RIP Ash vs Evil Dead

Now let me start off by saying I am not here to get into an ethics battle with anyone. I would hope that anyone reading this can tell the difference between right and wrong and that pirating is stealing. What I have seen on social media recently, however, is a bit troubling.

Being in the infant stages of my own filmmaking career, I have faced the number one challenge that can stop many inspired writers and directors dead in their tracks…funding. Getting someone to believe in your project as much you as do is impossible, but getting them to believe in you can be done if you are passionate enough and have a great pitch.

The problem, however, is that investors want to see projections for how fast they will get their investment back and also a profit — especially with horror. So a good sales deck will show how similar titles fared in box office, VoD, and DVD sales. This is where filmmakers can face a battle against which they cannot properly defend themselves. Numbers in the sense of dollars can be deflated because advances in technology enable people with better and faster ways to steal movies and TV shows and, in some cases, profit from doing so.

I don’t know if the numbers are in fact true that Ash vs Evil Dead was the most illegally downloaded show of all time. I think it is very plausible. Here are couple examples of actual horror stories I’ve seen from people and tell you the effect it has had on them.

There is a filmmaker who made a zombie film starring Tony Todd that was released last year. DVD sales were not what was projected or even safely targeted. This filmmaker was informed that his movie was uploaded to YouTube and had been watched over 300,000 times. Even if he made no sales and had only VoD rentals, that still would have generated over $1,500,000 in those rentals. But that’s not what happened.

The general reaction when the filmmaker took to social media to express his frustration only added insult to injury. The reactions were almost as bad as the thefts themselves.

At least your film was watched 300,000 times.
Be glad people like your film enough to watch it.

Anyone who lives in a city larger than 100,000 people has some sort of outlet mall, flea market, dirt mall, etc. I have yet to see one where 3-4 “vendors” were not selling $3-$5 films they had downloaded and burned to DVD. These include films that had just been released in theaters. These people are profiting from someone else’s work. What’s worse is that the people buying them are enabling it to continue.

What’s the point of all of this? Indie filmmakers (especially in horror) clear enough hurdles just to get a film made. Many people who sell and watch these films may think that Hollywood has enough money and they’re not hurting anyone. But it’s the people who are trying to break into the business and the Indie filmmakers who want to make something a little different who are suffering.

What can you do? That’s a good question.

For starters, these thieves hocking illegally downloaded movies need to be shut down. The next thing you can do is show support for the movies you love. Attend a con and tell the stars how much you enjoyed the movie. Subscribe to a page or blog, follow House of Tortured Souls (cheap plug, but I saw my shot). Keep the horror voice alive.

Crypt Keeper Clint with Joe Bob Briggs

These little things can keep the shows we love on the air. They will also let the world know that we horror fans have a strong voice and WILL be heard. Want proof? Through a social media campaign, Joe Bob Briggs asked his supporters to send videos to Shudder. They asked Shudder to bring him back. Joe Bob returns June 22nd for a 24-hour marathon. That was due to all of those fan videos creating a demand that Shudder couldn’t ignore.

Never underestimate the power of your own voice and don’t hurt what you love by stealing to save $10-$20.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: Interview with 4/20 Massacre Writer/Director Dylan Reynolds, 2 of 3

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with 4/20 Massacre Writer/Director Dylan Reynolds, 2 of 3

Smoke ’em if you got ’em because it’s time for the interview with 4/20 MASSACRE writer/director Dylan Reynolds.
House of Tortured Souls: What I really admire about 4/20 MASSACRE is that it has a lot more depth than one might expect, were you afraid of alienating fans expecting just a mindless slasher?
Dylan Reynolds: Yeah- that’s always been a bit of a concern. In many ways the movie is a “Trojan Horse” and we sneak in elements of an indie drama within the framework of a campy slasher flick. I wanted to do that because I knew it would be something “a little different” and therefore it might be more memorable. On the other hand — the audience we’ll probably attract may not be into those elements — and the audience who might actually appreciate what we did wouldn’t necessarily watch a movie called 4/20 MASSACRE.
HoTS: I read in an interview where you had some nice Easter eggs for die-hard slasher fans?
DR: Yeah- there’s a number sprinkled throughout- including some shots/sequences that mirror The Burning and Friday the 13th Part 2. Jamie Bernadette’s character is named Jess — who is the Final Girl in Black Christmas. There’s a line where they say they are going to “Higgin’s Creek”— which is a nod to the location in Friday the 13th Part 3 [“Higgin’s Haven”]… plus a number of others — I tried not to be too blatant.
HoTS: Would you say this is homage to holiday horror, 4/20 being a holiday of sorts?
DR: Most definitely — this was my contribution to the long and proud tradition of “holiday slashers” lol.
HoTS: Let me ask about your process as a director for a moment. How open are you to suggestions from cast/crew and do you allow actors to improvise lines?
DR: I try to give a general framework/ blocking and allow the actor’s the freedom to “play”. The best thing I figure I can do is create the atmosphere for creative people to do their thing. I encourage what I like to call “improvisation between the lines” — meaning, of course, there’s written dialogue but I like to allow takes to go on a little longer or give them a little head — I think this gives the scenes a more natural flow and feel. I also try to encourage actor’s to “give me some options” so I can cherry pick the moments in the edit.
DR: I of course have a shot list — some storyboards- an outline etc. but often you have to be flexible on a low budget film. I think the old adage is that you spend months making a plan only to get to set and have to throw it all out the window. Therefore a production is ultimately a collaborative effort with the crew. I try to communicate what I envision and we all collectively try to accomplish the goal — which is to tell a story and get all the shots we need to tell said story.
James Gregory in 420 Massacre (2018)

James Gregory in 4/20 MASSACRE (2018)

HoTS: How hands-on are you as a director, for example do you give them much guidance or do you allow them to find the character themselves?
DR: For this film- after we secured our cast I met with each of the actor’s individually to discuss the character… a general discussion of what I was thinking- what ideas or questions they had etc. Then like I said- I just tried to allow them the freedom to be creative and bring the character to life.
HoTS: What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of this production?
DR: It was a low budget film shot in 10 days out in the middle of nowhere… so about all the stress, you can imagine with no budget — no time — and the all-around lack of resources would create. But those negatives were countered with a lot of positive… namely it was a bunch of adults who went camping and “played make-believe” during the day and drank and shared some laughs at night.
HoTS: The stuntman coordinator James Gregory actually taught the actors to do their own stunts is that correct?
DR: Yeah, and James also played the killer (The Shape) and designed the costume. We did a “stunt rehearsal day” where we brought in all the actors to go over their individual “falls” and/or “taking punches” and what the game plan was for the scenes involving their “stunts”. Jamie Bernadette had the most work because she had some extended fight sequences during the film.
HoTS: Was it fun directing a stunt-heavy feature such as this?
DR: For sure- there’s a lot to plan out and it’s ridiculous how much coverage you end up having to get just to cut an “action” scene together. And truth be told we weren’t doing anything super complicated in 4/20 MASSACRE — and even then it got pretty involved. Therefore the experience did give me a stronger appreciation of directors who can direct action well… it’s probably the most “director reliant” form of filmmaking.
HoTS: What would you say was the weirdest or most surreal moment during this shoot?
DR: Hmmm… I can’t think of any one “surreal moment” really. I guess there were times after a long day of shooting when I was walking around decompressing and/or thinking about the next day’s schedule and I would have a “moment of clarity” and realize how awesome the whole experience was. We were all out here making a movie, and I was fulfilling my dream. I can’t think of anything much cooler than that.
HoTS: Any scenes that didn’t make the final cut? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
DR: I don’t think any full scenes got axed actually. For the most part. the cuts came “within the scenes”… usually because I wrote too much dialogue that needed to be trimmed back or “tightened”.
HoTS: Do you plan on hitting any of the conventions this year and if so feel free to plug them?
DR: I don’t have any plans for a “horror convention tour”! That may change… I was thinking of going to Monsterpalooza in April and try to hand out some postcards… maybe bring some 4/20 MASSACRE DVDs along with me.
HoTS: Can you at all hint or talk about a follow up to 4/20? Also, what are you working on at the moment?
DR: I have ideas for a 4/20 MASSACRE Part 2. I have a general plan to do a different slasher sub-genre with each installment. Part 1 was a “backwoods slasher”, and with Part 2, I wanted to make a Gialloesque “slasher mystery”. Hopefully, this film will do okay and I can make some money back and “flip it” to make another one… we’ll see.
And that’s the word on 4/20 MASSACRE from writer/director Dylan Reynolds. Don’t forget to check out my review, and stay tuned for the final part of my 4/20 MASSACRE article triolgy.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre (2018), 1 of 3 – Review

EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre (2018), 1 of 3 – Review

4/20 Massacre (2018), 1 of 3

Director: Dylan Reynolds; Writer: Dylan Reynolds; Stars: Jamie Bernadette, Stacey Danger, Jim Storm, Vanessa Rose Parker, James Gregory, Justine Wachsberger, Marissa Pistone; Rating: N/A; Run Time: 84 min; Genre: Action, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

I have to admit when I got the screener for 4/20 Massacre I was um…how to put this nicely…skeptical of its quality. But hey I am anything but a film snob and while I love all classics in the genre I love a good B-slasher romp. A group of friends goes camping to celebrate a friend’s birthday which falls on — you guessed it — April 20th. Little do they know that they are venturing into pot growing territory or terror-tory in this case, as a killer is dispatching anybody getting near his patch. 4/20 Massacre feels like a film rift with camp however to my delight (not that I don’t love some campy goodness) and, surprise, it didn’t. It actually manages to inject some solid drama to the stab genre. My one complaint would be some of it gets a bit heavy-handed. I do however have to give Reynolds huge props for giving his characters more depth something I think few other directors would have bothered with. Also having a female-dominated cast is a fun and interesting way to subvert genre troupes. The scene where two female characters play out a scene just like a man/female would in a standard slasher is clever and drives home that point. In a film filled with wonderful dunk smelling pot smoke, it’s a defiant breath of fresh air.

Justine Wachsberger, Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Marissa Pistone, and Stacey Danger in 420 Massacre (2018)

4/20 Massacre also does something pretty clever which is, pardon the pun, takes pot shots at holiday-based horrors which were a pretty awesome element. It’s very clear that despite its shortcomings,Reynolds knows how to craft a film and it has slick editing, great camera work (that aerial credit scene is impressive) as well as a nice soundtrack. Another thing that was impressive was the cast that is damn good. Jamie Bernadette, Stacy Danger, Justine Wachsberger, Vanessa Rose Parker, and Marissa Pistone do a fantastic job at bringing a real element to the film and in turn, it really gives it a more polished feel. Even veteran actor Jim Storm (TV’s Dark Shadows, Trilogy of Terror) makes a fun appearance as a sleazy, beer-guzzling park ranger aptly named Rick. Storm has a ball in the role and sure its hammy but damn it’s so entertaining to watch. This being a slice and dice film you live or die with good FX and thankfully this has some well-executed splatter gags especially considering that this was on a modest budget. So many movies rely on a gimmick to get fans talking about a movie, this is as true for Hollywood products as the indie people. And it’s no wonder I was skeptical, to say the least about a movie entitled 4/20 Massacre, however, I am happy to admit I was proven wrong. Sure it tends to be a bit heavy-handed and uneven at times however there really is a solid film in here and I’m not just blowing smoke here…Okay, that was bad.

Bottom Line: Support this filmmaker and rent, buy, and follow 4/20 Massacre on Twitter. Like a good jay, this one should be passed around with a group of friends.

Check back for my exclusive interviews with writer/director Dylan Reynolds and the cast of 4/20 Massacre.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EXCLUSIVE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Savage Australia – Three Films of Ozploitation Importance

Savage Australia – Three Films of Ozploitation Importance

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

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

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

Long Weekend (1978)

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

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

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

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

Dark Age (1987)

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

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

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

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

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

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)

Fortress (1985)

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EDITORIALS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) posterI recently had the pleasure of seeing Flowers by Phil Stevens. It was such an amazing and beautiful film that I decided to reach out to the director and tell him how much I enjoyed it. To my surprise, Phil Stevens turned out to be one of the nicest, coolest, down to earth guys. I was delighted to learn of his plans to make a sequel to Flowers, simply called Flowers 02. He also graciously agreed to do this interview and give us an exclusive look at his new project.

Phil Stevens Interview

House of Tortured Souls: First off, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of Flowers and really excited to talk to you about your latest project. What type of film can we expect? Do you think it will be more extreme or more artistic than the last?
Phil Stevens: Extreme is too broad a category, I mean of course yes it will be extreme but it’s more of a survival horror where everyone is being attacked by something. I actually didn’t think I was making an extreme film when I made Flowers. I thought the complete opposite. When Flowers came out, I thought people were going to be like, “Here’s this guy with his artsy movie called Flowers“. It turned out to be this surreal horror that people seemed to really enjoy. The last word I ever expected to read describing my film was “beautiful”, but it seems to come up in every single review about the movie.
PS: In Flowers, the house itself was the enemy almost. But in Flowers 02, not only is it the house, but there are entities in all the rooms –sometimes more than one. It’s all leading to this grand finale involving the killer and all his misdeeds. We’ll get a backstory and more of a look at his life. There will be new rooms with new themes and sort of a past, present, and future look at the killer. My favorite movie of all time is Day of the Dead, and I always wanted to make a zombie film, but I wanted to do it in my own way. Finally, in this we get to do that, and it’s so fun.

HoTS: That all sounds awesome! Why did you choose Indie and underground filmmaking rather than mainstream?
PS: I spent most of my life drawing and painting. I started drawing my own comics, and then I discovered the Beta-max camera and started making films for myself. Drawing is my first love, I don’t want a career in filmmaking; I see it as a hobby, a really expensive hobby. I’m a fan of Indie films myself and knew that it was only natural that I would go that route. I think that everyone who makes movies would like to think that one day they’ll go to Hollywood and make a big epic movie with a budget. That’s the real dream having a budget.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) title card

HoTS: I understand that for an Indie director, getting funding is always an issue. You’ve started a crowdfunding campaign, correct? Maybe you could tell our readers a bit about that and how they can contribute.
PS: Crowdfunding is a big deal because you’re giving us the means to make a movie that we otherwise would not be able to make. It’s been tougher to get funding in the last few years because either fans don’t know about it or they’ve been screwed over in the past by other directors.
PS: My job is making and selling art. I’m actually on disability from an accident that happened when I was 10. I fell out of a tree, and now I have soft neurological brain damage so I can’t have a regular 9-5 job. I spend a lot of time drawing and painting and doing commissions. I grew up with severe agoraphobia, crowds give me severe anxiety, which is another reason making movies is so important to me because it gives me a chance to work in a group environment while doing something I love.
PS: Here is the link to the Flowers 02 crowdfunding campaign. Even a 5$ contribution will get you some really cool exclusive swag!
HoTS: So how does one get a piece of your artwork?
PS: My Facebook page Manomatul Art or my website Insomnia Collectibles, and I’m also on deviant art.
HoTS: All of the actors/actresses in Flowers were amazing. Will we see any familiar faces in the sequel?
PS: Yes! You actually will see some returning Flowers in a subplot of Flowers 02. Absolutely. You’re going to see some of them, but I can’t reveal who yet.
HoTS: It’s my understanding you used your home in the first film… what was that like?
PS: Using my own home to make Flowers was a blessing and an absolute nightmare. We scouted a lot of warehouses, and they were all in really bad neighborhoods. We just didn’t feel safe having our equipment there. We decided the next best thing and the safest thing was our house. I hated it, there was so much debris and equipment everywhere. My wife (Colette Kenny Mckenna) and I lived an entire summer in that. I actually spent my 30th birthday inside the dining room set, it was surreal. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in a while would come over and a say, “This is absolutely insane. What are you doing?” My wife and I both ended up with really bad respiratory infections from the room with all the gouged out drywall. We were constantly breathing it in for three months, and we got really sick.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) writing on the wall

HoTS: Do you do your own practical fx?
PS: Yes, I used to more but with Flowers, it was an all hands on deck kind of thing and my wife and I did months of fx testing. We found some great local talent. My wife, Krystle Fitch, and Anastasia Blue did the fx and also acted in the movie.
HoTS: Do you have a dream location if money were no object?
PS: Actually yeah, I don’t know where that location is but I know what it looks like. The whole reason I wanted to make Flowers 02 was it’s supposed to fund my next film, Paradise, which is the serial killer’s hell kind of. I want it to involve a lot of ocean and beach sequences, stuff you don’t tend to see in an underground film. I’ve been working on it for three years, and it’s probably going to be my swan song film. The first film is purgatory, the next is hell, and the last one is paradise. That will be the last movie I do, and Flowers 02 is the way to get there.
HoTS: Do you have any directors who inspire you?
PS: I’m inspired by Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man). I’m a huge, huge fan of Asian cinema in general, so Takashi Miike (Audition) obviously and Kim Ki-duk (The Isle). What inspires me about Kim Ki-duk is that he doesn’t use many words, and his main characters don’t talk but everyone around them always does. I love all things artistic, I loved Andrey Iskanovs’ Nails so much. I also like Akira Kurosawa, his movies are beautiful; the cinematography is incredible and his movies top movies that are made to this day. A lot of my inspiration comes from Asian cinema.
HoTS: I just want to take this opportunity again to thank you and say what a fun time I’ve had talking with you today. I wish you the best of luck with Flowers 02 and can’t wait to see it.
PS: Thank you. I had fun today, too!

Flowers 02 Crowdfunding on the Web

Check out the fundraiser video on contributing to Flowers 02. Then click the link below to donate!

Phil Stevens on the Web

Posted by Candace Stone in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Gruesome Twosome: An Exclusive on Chris Alexander’s Two Upcoming Features

Gruesome Twosome: An Exclusive on Chris Alexander’s Two Upcoming Features

Chris Alexander is no stranger to the horror genre and this year he has not one but two projects in the works. The massively talented former editor-in-chief of Fangoria Magazine stopped by to give me the skinny on his two latest projects and what fans can expect.

Chris Alexander - Space Vampire (2018)Space Vampire (2018)
Director: Chris Alexander; Writer: Ali Chappell; Star: Ali Chappel; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Plot: An alluring space alien falls to earth with the mission to drain women of their life energy making her unstoppable. This film wonderfully harkens back to surreal dreamscapes of Rollins with a dash of Hopper’s Lifeforce for good measure.

Chris has this to say about the project:

Space Vampire is my fifth feature and once more functions as a vessel for both my music and my obsessions with more dreamlike, psychological and experimental strains of horror cinema, specifically the personal, meandering works of Rollin, Franco, and Herzog. Rollin especially, with his fixation on tragic female vampires. This picture takes its title nod from Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires, which was, of course, adapted for the screen as Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce but the movie itself is more informed by films like Under the Skin and the opening stretches of The Man Who Fell from Earth. I love the idea of following unnatural characters lost in familiar landscapes, almost child-like and driven by whatever addiction they are chained to. I make these movies for me and all my movies are – for better or worse – interconnected by theme, mood, style, sound.

And when asked what stage it’s in, he added:

I’m still editing. Its very abstract. But I am getting the “feel” of it….finding the rhythm.

Chris Alexander - Underneath An Anthology of Terror (2018)Underneath: An Anthology of Terror (2018)
Directors: Chris Alexander, Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, John Nicol; Writers: Chris Alexander, Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, John Nicol; Stars: Brent Baird, Nicholas Koy Santillo, Nichole Kawalez, Ali Chappell, Colin Bailey, Rebecca Kilburn, Tammy Stewart, Mike McMurran, Joshua Kuchma; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 95 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Plot: In the vein of Creepshow and the more recent VHS series comes Underneath an anthology featuring five exciting voices in the horror genre.

I always love a good horror anthology and Chris, along with other talents – including Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, and John Nicol, are sure to conjure up some fun and scares. Chris had this to say:

Underneath is the new anthology feature from my good friend and colleague John Nicol. Similar tastes in more abstract cinema. So when he asked me to contribute a segment I agreed. My short is really about how we have perverted our connection to the natural world with endless distraction and illusion. It’s about a woman becoming undone by the fixation on finding “nature”. She eventually regresses fully to an animal state. So, in the context of the short, it is a happy ending! Unsure what John will be doing release wise with Underneath but Space Vampire is the second film from my Castle Films imprint that I operate with filmmaker David DeCoteau, creating more artful and expressive micro-budget genre films.

I for one am very excited for both of these films and will be eagerly awaiting them later this year. Of course, I like to give a huge thank you to Chris Alexander for taking the time to talk to chat about his amazing new projects.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Phil Stevens’ Lung II (2016) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Phil Stevens’ Lung II (2016) [SPOILERS]

Lung II by Phil Stevens was one of the weirdest little indie films I’ve ever seen with a Lynch/Cronenberg vibe throughout. I really enjoyed it.

A follow up to Flowers, Lung II was a continuation of the same theme. Phil Stevens said that “after the trauma of making Flowers, it was something he needed to do for therapeutic reasons”. The film is in black and white (I’m hoping a color version exists somewhere in the underground) and like Flowers has no dialogue. It’s also a dreamy artistic vision except for a lot more bizarre. Flowers was a cathartic pilgrimage through purgatory for the female murder victims of a serial killer and Lung II was the killer’s slow journey into insanity.

Throughout the film, we follow a serial killer (played by Stevens himself) as he slowly awakens and comes to realize what he’s done through flashbacks and the discovery of a body trail. During his travels, he comes across no shortage of corpses and weird Freudian Lynch monsters.

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

Lung II works its way backward going from body to body. It starts out in what appears to be a psych ward with a naked dude (Phil Stevens) on the floor. If you’ve ever had the urge to see Phil Stevens naked here’s your chance ladies and gentlemen! He sort of fumbles out into the woods where he comes across his future self, disposing of bodies. He continues to stumble along from gory crime scene to crime scene sometimes finding bodies sometimes finding these bizarre blobby sex monsters. My personal favorite is the half dick half vag monster that he finger-bangs until it sprays blood. In a few scenes, he pulls glass out of various cuts and you might be thinking what’s the deal with the glass? Don’t worry; all will become clear soon. I found the part where he was pulling glass out of his foot particularly uncomfortable, but I kind of have an anti-foot fetish and can’t stand foot injuries.

After a hard day of self-realization, the last stop or last flashback is at his own home. He arrives home after a long day at work (presumably) to find his wife in bed with another woman, he loses his shit and kills them both with a baseball bat before he has a chance to consider consequences. Something in him snaps while he’s sitting there sniffing their panties. He tries to commit suicide by dropping a tv on his head (this is where the glass comes from!) but fails and from this point on he loses his humanity piece by piece.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments