gore

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.

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
EXTREME REVIEW: Doll Syndrome (2014) [Minor Spoilers]

EXTREME REVIEW: Doll Syndrome (2014) [Minor Spoilers]

Doll SyndromeIn Domiziano Cristopharo’s 2014 film Doll Syndrome, one gets the privilege to see Domiziano at his finest. Doll Syndrome is first and foremost a work of art superbly directed by Domiziano and beautifully written by Andrea Cavaletto. Telling the story of a loner who begins to become obsessed with a woman he encounters on the street, we watch this man become a dangerous and disturbing stalker. The way Domiziano directs this beautifully disturbing film the viewer is made privy to every twisted and even odd thought that crosses the loner’s mind.

Doll SyndromeI can confidently say that watching Doll Syndrome and the obsession grow, I felt a deep sense of foreboding as I watched this man follow this girl nearly everywhere and even as he just watches her from afar. A rather graphic film on multiple levels, each scene certainly adds to the feeling of unease you get watching the man progress. Beginning with some basic scenes of masturbation in front of the window in his apartment and building to his purchasing an inflatable sex doll for him to practice his fantasies on, we see his progression deeper and deeper into himself as well as in his obsession with this girl.

Doll SyndromeWhilst most of Doll Syndrome’s sexual scenes are not disturbing in the acts, they are incredibly graphic and progress to the inclusion of self-harm that do make them disturbing. Add the fact that with the sex doll, he is constantly fantasizing about this woman — even when he is using a fabric stapler on various parts of the doll — and it becomes quite disturbing. Not the most disturbing moments of the film by a long shot, but if I were to reveal everything, then where’s the fun in watching it? I will say that this film is not for the faint of heart, and it involves some extremely brutal scenes of torture and self-harm, but for those who are into the extreme side of film, I cannot recommend it enough.

In addition, Doll Syndrome will be available to purchase on 5/22 from Amazon and is up for preorder, and I encourage everyone to support Domiziano’s work!

Posted by Spencer Evatt in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXTREME REVIEW: Marian Dora’s Cannibal (2006)

EXTREME REVIEW: Marian Dora’s Cannibal (2006)

Cannibal is a 2006 film by Marian Dora based on the true story of Armin Meiwes that happened in Germany. It’s the story of a man who posts an online ad looking for another man to be his lover and let him cannibalize him, and he actually finds a willing participant.

Cannibal starts out with a businessman, The Man, meeting multiple potential partners all of whom, of course, are not willing to be eaten. Finally, he comes across a man, The Flesh, who is suicidal and wants to be killed by someone else. The two meet up and hit it off immediately. They court each other, reading passages from a beloved childhood favorite, dining, frolicking, and making love. The two men seem to become genuinely fond of each other.

At last, the pair enter a room set up with a camera and prepare to proceed with the original plan of cannibalism. The Flesh (neither are given actual names in the film, and there is very little dialogue) asks The Man to bite off his penis. After two failed attempts, I assume because of The Man’s new affection for The Flesh, The Flesh asks to be taken home. At the train station, the pair regroup, make up, and decide to try again. Once home, The Flesh takes stronger drugs, a record is put on, and then it’s down to business.

From this point on, it becomes an endurance test for the audience, and it makes for rather unpleasant viewing. The Man finally cuts off The Flesh’s penis, cooks it, and the two try to eat it together, but apparently, it not only tastes bad but has the consistency of rubber. So heads up future cannibals: stick with Oscar Meyer. The Man then puts The Flesh in a hot bath to let him bleed out. During this time, the two share a heartfelt goodbye, and The Flesh asks The Man to consume everything and to make sure nothing is left of him. Once The Flesh is dead, The Man drags his body — spraying shit and puke — out to the barn only to discover that The Flesh still draws breath. The Man stabs The Flesh in the neck and kisses him while he dies. He then proceeds to process the body like it’s a dead hog. This scene has great gore and is well done. I particularly like that he beheads him and positions the head so it can watch what he’s doing. Once the body has been processed he prepares a feast and dines on his lover.

My thought on Cannibal is that it’s ultimately a love story between two men — The Flesh wanting to be loved and consumed and The Man wanting to love and consume and truly have his beloved inside of him. They make a choice to be together forever and share in an experience that maybe only two people ever have.

5/5 for this haunting love story

Posted by Candace Stone in BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, 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.

Posted by Spencer Evatt in BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
WiHM: Cristie Whiles

WiHM: Cristie Whiles

I personally love extreme horror and want to honor some of the best or worst (depending how you see it) ladies in the genre for Women in Horror Month. The first lady I want to discuss is Cristie Whiles, you may know her better as Crusty from August Underground’s Mordum and August Underground’s Penance. I truly despise her character, Crusty, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever loathed any other fictional person quite so much. She’s an absolutely disgusting excuse for a human being. Her constant shrieking mixed with her hyena laugh grates on the soul, and her heinous acts, especially towards other women, make her despicable. I’m not easily disturbed, and an actor has to work pretty hard to provoke a real emotion in me so I applaud Cristie Whiles’ ability to do both. Although I hate her character, I’m impressed with both her writing and acting skills. She did such a convincing job as Crusty that I can’t be sure if I met her in real life that I would be able to restrain myself from verbally or physically assaulting her – again, well done, Cristie.

Before she got involved in cinema, Cristie was an artist and attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She expanded her talents to include screen printing, make-up, special effects, and filmmaking. Cristie was a co-founder of Toetag Pictures but stepped down in 2009 to focus on her clothing company called Sunshine Tattoo Parlor.

Cristie Whiles as Crusty

Cristie had never planned on being in the film industry to begin with, but her longtime friend Michael Schneider (a Toetag alum) asked her to do some of August Underground’s Mordum’s artwork and backgrounds; she also ended up writing and directing as well. She states that the character was an idea taken from her demon paintings, and now that the films are done, she is completely purged of that character and “done with that era”. Cristie felt that Penance was made too soon after the completion of Redsin Tower but was still fairly happy with the end result. After its completion, she felt she needed to move on from Toetag.

Due to the nature of Crusty, Cristie ran into problems with sexual harassment and creepy emails. She says she created the character with “intentions to make people aware of the pain abuse causes without sugar coating a detail.” Well, I guess mission accomplished because as viewers we were spared no detail, no matter how unthinkable.

Cristie Whiles as Crusty

It seems at this point we probably won’t see a lot more from Cristie in the film industry. She did say “you never know,” but her focus is more on her art and clothing line. Her character Crusty will go down in history as one of the best and most horrible portrayals of a female serial killer. If you haven’t already seen them, check out the August Underground Trilogy and judge for yourself.

Cristie Whiles

Cristie Whiles

Posted by Candace Stone in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Amazon Primed for Horror: February, 2018

Amazon Primed for Horror: February, 2018

The Best Horror/Thrillers and Cult Films on Amazon Prime

As much as I LOVE my physical Blu-rays and DVDs, I am perfectly fine embracing streaming services as well. Netflix, Hulu, and the more horror-geared platform Shudder, are all fine choices for at your fingertips, on-demand movies. But, surprisingly Amazon Prime should also be considered when looking for great, weird, and wonderful movies. One of my friends described Prime as a mom and pop video store for on-demand gory goodies. And you know what I have to wholeheartedly agree with him. Recently, Fright Night 2 was rolled out widescreen and even sporting a restored print. Listed Is a guide to some great movies that people with Prime can watch right this minute and the titles might actually surprise you. Items listed in totally random-ass order but three categories: Classic Horror (20s-90s), Recent (00-Now), and Non-Horror (but still worth watching).

Amazon Prime Horror

Classic Horror:

Murderlust! (1985)
A grimy low budget slasher that is more in tune with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and its lead, Eric Rich, does a great job playing the disturbed killer.

Chopping Mall (1986)
In the mood for killer robots in a mall, then look no further. Plenty of gore, nudity, and action in this classic 80s horror romp.

Spider Baby (1967)
Jack Hill’s seminal love letter to classic horror is a must view and a totally bonkers film.

Fright Night 2 (1988)
As mentioned above the long OOP Fright Night 2 is now on Prime widescreen and in a nice restored print. Now is the perfect time to revisit this cult classic.

Fade to Black (1980)
Currently, long OOP this fun trashy and entertaining gem is now streamable!

Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
I consider this one of the best British shockers, and now there is no excuse not to give it a try.

Body Melt (1993)
Melting bodies and insanity from the good folks in Australia, this cult classic has been out of print off and on but now is readily available to view.

Prom Night 2 (1987)
Prom Night 2 is a great follow up to the original but doesn’t simply remake the first. Make a date with this movie now!

Island of Death (1976)
Not for the easily offended or disturbed this whacked out import is a must-see for brave cult film viewers.

Splatter University (1982)
Flaws aside this 80s splatter film is great for those wanting a nice mindless way to “kill” some time.

Three on a Meathook (1972)
This proto-slasher that pre-dates Texas Chainsaw Massacre/Halloween may have a lot of cheese and flaws but for slasher fans, it’s a guilty pleasure.

Death Spa (1989)
Outrageous late 80s horror fun complete with spandex, killer machines and Ken Foree, and that is even before the killer fish come into the picture. Needs to be seen.

Recent:

Them (2006)
Not to be confused with THEM!, the 50s giant ant movie, this tense and brutal home invasion film is an underrated film from France and every horror fan should give it a chance.

The Neon Demon Standard/4k Ultra (2016)
This is a very polarizing film but its visuals are top notch and it breaks taboos without skipping a beat. Those of you with 4K TVs will be in luck as they offer it in 4k as well as standard.

A Ghost Story (2017)
Like Neon Demon, this movie divides fans but one thing I think we can agree is it is a totally different take on the supernatural genre and is more about loss and change than boo scares.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
This thriller directed by Oz Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins) directs this outstanding atmospheric Gothic horror film.

The Monster (2016)
One of my favorite horror films of 2016 wasThe Monster, a minimalist monster movie that perfectly fuses drama/horror seamlessly. Not to be missed.

Green Room (2015)
Green Room is a nonstop tense thriller that keeps one on the edge of his/her seat and doesn’t let up until the end credits. A bloody punk fest and one of the best films of 2015.

Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
This movie is a lot of fun and plays like a live action video game. It also uses the found footage in an interesting way. Check it out!

We are Still Here (2015)
Ted Geoghegan takes an interesting spin on the haunted house genre with this highly creative and tense horror flick. Fan favorite Barbara Crampton stars in this prime ready thrill ride.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
In the mood for a side-splitting horror/comedy? What we do in the shadows is a hilarious film and with rumors of a show spin-off and sequel, it’s high time you check it out.

Hannibal (2001)
Despite Jodie Foster not being in it, Hannibal is still a tasty macabre horror/thriller that, like a good wine seems to get better with age. Dig in.
Honorable mentions: Sleep Tight, Afflicted, Rare Exports, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Not Horror (but still worth watching):

Paradise Lost Trilogy
This disturbing yet engrossing true-crime drama is not for everybody but, for those brave enough it’s a really worthwhile documentary.

Swiss Army Man (2016)
This is sure to split fans but it’s a really worthwhile drama, black comedy with great performances.

The Lobster (2015)
The Lobster takes a crazy premise and runs with it and is a totally engrossing black comedy that really keeps you glued. Not for everybody but its free on Prime so give it a chance.

That’s my list. I am sure I missed some movies but this will get you started. Thanks for reading.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
WiHM: Suspiria (1975) 4k Restored

WiHM: Suspiria (1975) 4k Restored

Suspiria is without question ranks as one of my favorites not only in horror but films in general. And that is really saying a lot because I have seen thousands of films. Its mixture of pulse-pounding terror, beauty, gore, and fairytale-like rhythm instantly drew me in and had a huge impact on me upon viewing. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that not only was the film finally getting a beautiful new 4k Blu but also that the print was touring the country. It was a huge undertaking for Synapse and it took a whopping four years to complete. But let me tell you it was well worth the wait. Twentieth Century Fox currently owns the theatrical rights and have allowed select theaters to exhibit it.

The film is about Susie (Jessica Harper) who is attending a famous dance academy but she soon discovers a terrifying secret lurking all around her.

Audio and Visuals: Argento’s films are known for their trademark color schemes of reds and blues and Suspiria is perhaps his most visual work of art and this is really where the 4k shines. The colors are masterfully handled and when the first bit of blood begins to flow you can really tell how it pops. There were also little details in the film that I completely missed which is a further testament to what a bang-up job Synapse did in bringing this classic back to life. It was really breathtaking especially when you consider this is a 40-year-old movie. Of course, the film is as famous for its ear-thumping and unnerving soundtrack by Goblin. In fact, many horror fans consider it the greatest soundtrack of all time and right out of the gate the score hits you. It was just incredible to hear the score which was crisp, clear and really gets under your skin.

Final Thoughts: If Suspiria ever plays anywhere near you or you have to drive a few hours it’s highly worth it. The film has never looked and sounded better and getting to see it up on the big screen is a true event.

Check out some of these comparison images from Synapse films, and let House of Tortured Souls know what you think.

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Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Grotesque: A Guilt-Free Pleasure

Grotesque: A Guilt-Free Pleasure

Grotesque (2009) is a Japanese torture porn film directed by Koji Shiraishi.
First of all, I’d like to say I’m not a big fan of the term “torture porn” as it’s used in a derogatory fashion by film snobs to discredit an entire genre and I find it offensive, but when it comes to the movie Grotesque there is simply no better description. The antagonist, a “doctor”, kidnaps a young couple and tortures them for sexual arousal, promising their release if they succeed in making him excited, making this torture porn by definition.

The movie is honest about what it is and doesn’t pussyfoot around pretending to have a plot or trying to develop characters; it just dives right in.

Grotesque (2009)

****HERE THERE BE SPOILERS****

Our young couple wakes up gagged and tied to a table and is asked if they would die for each other. There is a brief little flashback to offer us some insight and let us know they were on a first date; that is as much backstory as the viewer will get.

From there it gets all molesty. I appreciate the fact that this movie advocates equality between the sexes because both are manhandled accordingly, and every torture is doled out evenly.

After the molestation, we proceed to chainsaw surgery, the removal of nipples, nails to the scrotum and a graphic penis removal, which succeeds in finally arousing our good doctor, and he woefully admits that they have won (curse them!) and will be released.

The two wake up in a sterile hospital room where all their parts (except one) have been reattached and they’re healing nicely. I was a tad confused at first in this scene and wasn’t sure if it was a dream – it’s not. Either way, it gives us a chance to catch our breath before the next onslaught.

Their tormentor reappears and promises to release them once they are healed. He then changes his mind and back to the racks they go.

The next scene was a real nail-biter. The male protagonist is given an intestine tether (his own) and has the chance to save the female… he almost makes it and you truly are rooting for him along with the doctor who is shouting encouragements at him.

The end of this movie is a bit silly and provides comic relief after the hard watch the viewer has just endured. The comedy paired with the fact that we have no attachment to the characters makes this movie a guilt-free pleasure allowing us to walk away with minimal psychological damage.

5/5  for Grotesque

Grotesque is not a fantastic movie, but it accomplished everything it set out to do.

Posted by Candace Stone in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
Scream Queen Extravaganza Sunday Jan 28th!

Scream Queen Extravaganza Sunday Jan 28th!

Get Screamin this Sunday with Dark Delicacies’
5th Annual Scream Queen and Kings!

This Sunday, 28 January 2018, at 2 pm, Dark Delicacies will be hosting its 5th Annual Day of the Scream Queens and Kings. Admission is free and fans can meet the following actors and actresses: Linnea Quigley, Brinkie Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Dominique Swain, Rocky Demarco, William McNamara, Ken Horn, Jim Wynorski and the host with the most David Del Valle.

Dark Delicacies owner Del Howison had this to say:

After five years of holding these events (Day of the Scream Queens) at Dark Delicacies there is a real treat in feeling the electricity and excitement that comes with the fan base meeting these actresses. It never gets old.

David Del Valle, a film historian and Emcee of the event, had this to add:

This Sunday will be a Scream Queen extravaganza as I greet and meet the fans at Dark Delicacies the finest genre boutique in Hollywood

Fans will get to meet these legendary horror icons from such films as Return of the Living Dead (Linnea Quigley), Slumber Party Massacre (Brinkie Stevens), and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (Michelle Bauer). But don’t forget the gentlemen as William McNamara, best known for cult films such as Dario Argento’s Opera, Copycat, and Surviving the Game. Plus Ken Horn, legendary FX wiz behind The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween 4, and more will also be on hand. And if that wasn’t enough, Jim Wynorski the director behind such grindhouse classics as Chopping Mall and Return of the Swamp Thing will also be meeting and signing with fans.

Entry is totally free and doors open at 2 pm. From the sound of it, every horror fan in the area should make this part of your plans this weekend. Big thanks to Del Howison and David Del Valle. It’s sure to be a screaming good time.

Dark Delicacies
3512 W Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
818-556-6660

David DeCoteau's 5th Annual Day of the Scream Queens & Kings

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EVENTS, 0 comments
Jessica Cameron’s Truth or Dare (2013)

Jessica Cameron’s Truth or Dare (2013)

Jessica Cameron’s Truth or Dare

Looking for something you may have missed over the past few years? Trying to find those lost titles to add to your DVD collection? Then have I got a film title for you…Truth or Dare. This wonderfully twisted and often gory Indie horror film was written by, directed by, and stars the always lovely Jessica Cameron.

Released through Ms. Cameron’s own Small Town Girl Productions, Truth or Dare focuses around a group of young adults who have found stardom and fame of its own kind by hosting a YouTube channel show called — you guessed it — Truth or DareTruth or Dare is an Internet-based reality show wherein each week the group plays the old game we all grew up playing but on a much more grown up and dangerous level. “How ?” you ask. Okay. For example, the film starts off with the group on a beach where actress Jessica Cameron picks dare and has to shoot fellow gamer Tony, played by Brandon Van Vilet, in the face with a handgun. Not quite how I played when I was young. Nevertheless, with stunts like this, the ratings for the show soar! Now you get the gist of how they play their rendition of Truth or Dare.

While interviewing on a local TV talk show, the group are confronted with questions by a member of the audience who seems to be a bit too eager and intense and is bounced out the door on his ass. But that’s not the last we see of our greasy little fanboy…

We next see our group in a basement getting ready to shoot another episode when in from behind the plastic tarps walks in our fanboy, played by Ryan Kiser who gives a stellar performance as Derik B. Smith. Smith, a fanboy stalker if you will, knows every -single- hidden inch of our new stars’ past and uses it against all of them to play his version of Truth or Dare, and of course, streams it all live on the web.

Smith’s version of Truth or Dare is basically the same as the group’s: You pick truth or dare, and you answer or act out whatever is asked of you 100%. The one small difference is that Smith’s dares are real! From the bullet in the gun to the blade on the knife to questions that can ruin or change lives, all of it is real. There’s no acting and no stunts, so many rounds end in death.

Jessica Cameron brought to the screen something that permeates today’s world — uploaded video, the more shocking and violent the better. Cameron brought plenty of that in Truth or Dare, including a few dares that are surprising if not shocking, to say the least!

If you haven’t seen this gem of an Indie horror film, you must. It will not disappoint! Jessica, great job all around with this one, and thank you for the screener. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me next!

On a side note, be sure to keep an eye out for Jessica starring in Stephen Biro’s The Song of Solomon, an American Guinea Pig Film Series release from Unearthed Films, coming in March, 2018. You’re not going to want to miss it!

Happy early birthday, Jessica!!

Be sure to follow and support Jessica Cameron!

Keep It Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
August Underground Trilogy Part 3 of 3: Penance (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

August Underground's Penance (2007)Director: Fred Vogel; Writers: Allen Peters (characters), Fred Vogel (characters), Cristie Whiles (as Cristie ‘Crusty’ Whiles), Fred Vogel; Stars: Cristie Whiles, Fred Vogel, Shelby Lyn Vogel; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 84 min; Genre: Horror; Language: English; Year: 2007
Posted by Spencer Evatt in BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
A Serbian Film (2010): It’s Fucking Art!

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

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

A Serbian Film (2010)

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

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

A Serbian Film (2010)

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

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

A Serbian Film (2010)

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

A Serbian Film (2010)

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 0 comments
Quickies for Sickies: Cutting Moments (1997)

Quickies for Sickies: Cutting Moments (1997)

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

Cutting Moments (1997)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suburban Holocaust (2012)

Posted by Candace Stone in ANTHOLOGY, BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

“The Only Way Out… Is Down”

I had the great privilege of interviewing the superb director Harrison Smith on his newest film Death House. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about the film.

Death House poster.There is a Fed-Max subterranean government prison that holds humanities worst criminals known as the Death House. It serves as a medical, psychological, and parapsychological research center aimed at eradicating evil. Two federal agents are granted a tour of the center. While on the tour, the unthinkable happens. There is a power outage that releases all of the prisoners, and the agents must fight their way through all of the horror and violence to try to survive. They soon discover that they are being herded down to the lowest depths of the facility. In those depths are a group of supernatural evil beings known as The Five Evils and they may be the agents’ only chance at salvation.

Cody Longo in Death House.

Cody Longo in Death House.

The movie sounds and looks amazing but before I go on I just wanted to say that the media and many articles have labeled the movie, “The Horror Movie genre of The Expendables“. I have to disagree with that. If it were The Expendables we would have a movie with Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs et. al. Which, to some, may sound interesting but it would lack any substance. The stars in this movie are so much more than their individual roles that they have portrayed, they are true actors who excel at their craft. Let me tell you some of them:

  • Adrienne Barbeau: Escape From N.Y., Creepshow, Swamp Thing, The Fog
  • Kane Hodder: Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th films and Victor Crowley from The Hatchet films
  • Dee Wallace: The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
  • Michael Berryman: The Hills Have Eyes, The Devils Rejects
  • Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next
  • Sid Haig: The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Kill Bill
  • Tony Todd: Candyman, Hatchet, Final Destination
  • Bill Moseley: The Devils Rejects, Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Vernon Wells: The Road Warrior, Weird Science
  • Lindsay Hartley: Nightmare Nurse
  • Cody Longo: Piranha 3D, Nashville
  • Cortney Palm: The Dark Tapes
  • Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp
  • Vincent Ward: The Walking Dead

Whew, that is a LOT of talent in one film!

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA.

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA. The place had a built-in horror film setting, full of dark history and eerie vibes. It really acts as a functioning character in the film.

IMDb provided a great quote:

This is a solid horror piece, dark, nasty and gore-soaked; not satire or tongue in cheek.

And like Harrison told me, he was writing in a local bar when the ad for Jurassic World came on and it hit him that this movie was “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Jurassic World without the dinosaurs”. So… great actors along with an exciting script and skilled direction. Then throw in stupefying makeup and effects by the Roy Knyrim (Sinister 2) and SOTA FX, and a soundtrack by John Avarese that sets the perfect ambiance. We will finally get what we paid for at the box office!

Death House - Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Death House – Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Harrison was why the horror genre?
Harrison Smith: My first film, The Fields, was based on what really happened to me when I lived and grew up with my grandparents on their farm. The farm came under attack for a short period of time by an unseen presence. We never understood what caused it and we never understood what ended it, so I had personal experience. But also my grandmother and I used to watch horror movies and the old horror TV show Dr. Shock who hosted Saturday morning shows like Scream-In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. The movies were captivating. I loved finding out there was a sequel to Frankenstein and that he didn’t die in the burning windmill. There were more like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man that continued on the story of Lon Chaney. Like when they killed Lon Chaney in the original Wolfman I was like, “Why? He was a nice man, he didn’t want to be The Wolf Man“. I loved it. They were like Saturday morning soap operas. I loved them as a kid, but that time is gone. That is why I like Tom Holland’s Fright Night. I was watching in the summer of ’85 and knew it was a Valentine to an era that was quickly fading and disappearing. At that time, the threat was coming from cable television and the home video revolution, so Peter Vincent was this aging icon of an era long gone trying to stay relevant. Tom Holland got it, and Fright Night works on many levels. So horror movies, for me, were a real escape from the actually really scary shit that happened to me.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

HoTS: Then I asked him about the abundance of horror movies and shows seem to be throwing back to the ’80s. Movies like It Follows and The House of the Devil and shows like Stranger Things all reflect that age in horror, and Death House has many actors from that era. Why do you think it is a niche we all still enjoy?

Dee Wallace in Death House.

Dee Wallace in Death House.

HS: Director and actor Eli Roth said that the have-sex-and-die concept behind many of the ’80s slasher films was not as relevant today because millennials look at it and don’t get it. There was a study reported by the L.A. Times in an article by Melissa Batchelor Warnke saying that the millennial generation is the least sexually active, so that concept does not translate well. But at the time when Friday the 13th came around, it was a perfect storm of both liberal and conservative values. We had a very conservative administration with Reagan and yet, at the same time, we were known as the party generation. It was a weird flux of things coming together. So Friday the 13th had fun and parties with lots of boobs and tons of gore but with a moral lesson. See what happens when you fuck in the woods? Jason was like a walking STD. So the ’80s made us nostalgic for the ’50s, and now we look back to the ’80s. We are nostalgic for when we grew up. That is why, when making Death House, we always remembered that we were handling peoples memories and that is very important. The new generation gets to fall in love with it like we did. And with regards to the actors in Death House, they were all smart enough to choose great directors and projects that were just starting out, and their careers flourished from those collaborations so they are all still relevant today.

Death House - Kane Hodder arriving on set.

Kane Hodder arriving on the Death House set pictured with Harrison (dressed as an extra for the ward scene). The guy over his shoulder is producer Rick Finkelstein.

HoTS: I did some research on Holmesburg Prison, where you decided to film the movie. Some extremely monstrous things went on there. Any ghosts try to break into acting for the film?

HS: No, I did not experience anything myself. There were a few reports of the cameras acting wonky, but it was really cold there which probably contributed to that. The place itself was perfect for the mood though. There is a great book called Acres of Skin: Human Experiments At Holmesberg Prison 1998 by Allen Hornblum that tells all about the medical experiments and tortures that went on inside the prison. It really lent itself to what we were shooting. I remember when they gave us a tour and brought us into the warden’s office where he had his throat slit. Nothing paranormal happened but everyone was in tune with what had happened there. Dee Wallace said that it was sometimes overwhelming knowing that you were walking by cells where so much abject misery and torture had taken place. It is a building built on misery.

Harrison also wanted to make sure and give a shout out to the administration and the City of Philadelphia and especially the Philadelphia Police Department, who were more than gracious and just all-around wonderful people.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

HoTS: My next question for Harrison was, as a director, what directors influence his work?

HS: Growing up, John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, They Live and Tommy Lee Wallace: IT, Halloween III, Fright Night II were major influences on me because they were accessible to me. I used to read Fangoria Magazine all the time and got a subscription to it. I used to read and devour the interviews and not just because of the pictures and oh! there making a sequel to Halloween and I want to see the blood and gore. They did an interview with John Carpenter and he talked about how he made movies and about finding a good crew and sticking with them. And I noticed for the first decade of John’s career he used a lot of the same people in front and behind the camera and that really made an impact on me because Carpenter was very much the founder of the guerilla film movement — that you get a camera, you go out there, and you shoot. That’s what you do, and that really inspired me as a filmmaker. I had a Super 8 silent Kodak camera, and I was learning. I was learning from those interviews in Fangoria and got a really strong base of knowledge. So if you look at my catalog of work so far, you will see many of the same faces. And if you read the credits, you will see a lot of the same names return time and time again. I bring them back because it is like putting the band back together, so to speak, which works for me because it becomes like production shorthand. I would also say Tom Holland of Fright Night and Psycho II fame was another influence because Psycho II made a big impact on me because of the script. I think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made and is very underrated. I wanted to hate it, but 30 minutes into the film I just fell in love with it. When it was over I walked out, called my family to let them know I would be late and went in to see it again. My film Camp Dread is a tip of the hat to Tom Holland. It was more like Psycho II than Friday the 13th.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

HoTS: What is the theme for Death House?

HS: The whole pretext of Death House is evil is evil and good is good, but do they need each other? Because when you try to eradicate evil you are, at most, canceling out good as well. There is no need for good if there’s no need for evil. Bill Mosely has a great line in the film, “True evil is nothingness”. That is true hell. If we were to remove the Holocaust from history we would need a litmus test. Dee Wallace’s and Barbara Crampton’s characters think what they are doing is good. Look at the Nazis during the Holocaust. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil. Dee is like Nurse Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as a social horror film was a snake pit. Louise Fletcher played it so well because there are real nurses like that. That is the banality of evil. How a modicum of power gives rise to abuse of said power. Are The Five Evils in Death House really evil compared to Dee’s character or Nurse Ratched? They aren’t Cenobites they are regular people like you run into in everyday life. How many times in your own life might you have come into contact with real killers? The Five Evils are normal looking people.

Death House - The Five Evils

Death House – The Five Evils: Vincent Ward, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Lindsay Hartley, Michael Berryman.

The original script for Death House was penned by the incredible Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for playing the mentally-impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Gunnar left us on November 7th, 2015, from pancreatic cancer. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, brought producers Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to the screening of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard to meet Harrison. Another writer had taken a stab at rewriting the script, but it turned into Texas Chainsaw meets Friday the 13th meets Saw, but that was not what Gunnar wanted. He did not want torture porn but a high concept horror film. Gunnar liked what Harrison did with it, so Harrison finished writing and then directed it. The actors were all there for their friend Gunnar and with Harrison collaborating with Gunnar before his death, I like to think of this as a love letter to an amazing man and actor that we lost too soon.

Gunnar Hansen, 4 March 4, 1947 – 7 November 2015

I was extremely honored to speak with Harrison Smith and pick his brain. To read more on Death House, I have included some links that come straight from the horse’s mouth. Harrison Smith’s Road To Death House articles.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this film. It has already won the audience choice award along with best feature film from the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO). MPAA said it was gritty, claustrophobic and a hell of a lot of fun. Harrison said it is like a roller coaster ride through a funhouse, and Kane Hodder said it was his favorite film he has worked on. So horror fans get ready for the ride of your life!

I have also included a link to a petition if you want Death House to come to a Regal Cinema near you. It is going to major theaters but I would like to see it in all of them.

So, from myself and the family at House of Tortured Souls, thank you again to the great Harrison Smith and everyone involved with Death House! And just remember readers… “Hell isn’t a word…it’s a sentence.”

Death House - Harrison, Yan Birch and Lauren Compton after filming in LA.

Harrison, Yan Birch, and Lauren Compton after filming Death House in LA.

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 2 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

Megrim (2016)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Stuart Valberg; Writer: Stuart Valberg; Stars: Max Physer, Pascal Yen-Pfister; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 13 min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016
Hello, this is your fiendish reporter reviewing the entries from the Shreikfest horror film festival, 5-8 October 2017. The next film is entitled Megrim written and directed by Stuart Valberg. An unnamed artist (Pascal Yen-Pfister) wants to create a masterpiece, but instead of using oil paints, he decides to choose an unknown man (Max Physer) to donate his blood. From frame one, it's clear that director Stuart Valberg has a nice visual flare, drenching the film with mood and tension. His use of tightly framed medium shots gives an almost unbearable feeling of dread and claustrophobia as does his use of atmospheric lighting. I really enjoyed the stripped down one room stage feel, and its simple and effective plot is clearly having a bit of fun with films like Saw (the artist's reasons seem very Jigsaw-like). This, indeed, is where this short shines, as it is eerie and moody yet has a dark sense of humor which makes it more interesting than a simple bloodbath. The film is just two actors, and both do a fantastic job. Actor Pascal Yen Pfister really shines in this film, and he plays with the razor-thin line of having fun with the role yet not going too hammy and he walks the line brilliantly. While I enjoyed Megrim, I really wished it would have pushed the black comedy just a little further while also providing a little more cat and mouse between the two very talented actors. However, this leads me to my next point, which is that (and I rarely say this with shorts) with some clever writing, I feel like this could easily be translated into a full feature. With a great sense of style and solid writing, Valberg provides an interesting darkly comic spin on the torture porn sub-genre and does it with skill and that will no doubt take him incredibly far as a writer-director.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

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

Play Day (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Greg Mazzola; Writer: Sophia Rose; Stars: Sophia Rose, Thomas Downey, Jim Nieb, Craig Tate, Harrison Samuels; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Your fiendish reporter bringing you another offering from the 2017 Shriekfest. In this short, a lonely man named Steve (Thomas Downey) is looking for that special somebody on the Internet. Nothing wrong with that except instead of a dating site he has chosen an online service called Play Day. Little does he know his payment for this might just be in blood. Writer Sophia Rose and director Greg Mazzola manage to take the premise of online love something terribly routine and totally turn it on its head and the end result is incredibly different. The core concept is explored just enough to give the audience a clear idea of what's going on without feeling the need to over-explain things. Also, it tapped into a psycho sexual-dark web theme which I did not expect and was impressed with. On the technical side, Mazzola gives the low budget film a professional gloss with nice visuals, good editing, and a nice score. My one complaint with this short was actor Thomas Downey. While I think he's a solid actor he defiantly went a little too campy which in a certain context is alright but it doesn't help when it somewhat undercuts the creepy vibes the film is building. When Downey starts to go really barking mental I thought the short totally went off the rails but thankfully a good ending helped save it. Play Day may have some issues however I couldn't hate it because it's really interesting and it takes a familiar troupe and completely remixes it, which is something I love to see. I very much hope that Greg Mazzola and writer Sophia Rose expand this into a feature even if it was just 80 mins or so. Overall, Play Day is great little film, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in store.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

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

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

TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (1 of ?)

Remembering George A. Romero

George A. Romero, as many of you know by now, passed on Sunday, July 16, asleep in his own bed. Romero had a small but aggressive bout with cancer, but that is said not to be the cause of his death. Romero was 77.
When one thinks of zombies these days, sadly, most think of The Walking Dead and believe this to be the greatest zombie representation in film (or TV). Not to take anything away from the abundance of talent that goes into making TWD, but if you were to ask its main man Greg Nicotero who he himself was inspired by (as well as any true horror and or zombie fan) and who is the master and father of the modern zombie, you'll get the same answer from them all. That name would be legendary filmmaker George A. Romero.
George A. Romero was born in New York City in 1940. After graduating school, George made many short film and did some commercial work as well. He and friends formed IMAGE TEN PRODUCTIONS where they all chipped in about $10,000.00 each to produce and direct a black and white horror film that became an instant horror classic and a legend among all zombie film to ever be made: Night of the Living Dead (1968).
Romero went on to write, direct, produce, and even act in more than a combined 78 films. Films titles such as The Crazies (2010/1972), Diary of the Dead (2007), Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006), Land of the Dead (2004), Creepshow (1982), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and many more.
George A. Romero was always known for his trademark thick rimmed black frame glasses and safari vest. But, more so, was always known for being a warmhearted man who always cared and took the time for his fans. I personally wasn't fortunate enough to have met Romero at any of the conventions that he had attended as a celebrity guest, but I always heard from those who did that he was a very personable and kind man.
The legendary horror/zombie films that Romero made in his lifetime were inspiring to future filmmakers and loved by audiences across the globe. Romero's Night of the Living Dead became the standard for all other zombie films. All, in some way, seemed to be compared to that of Romero, but none ever seem to make the same impact. While Romero's films were always full of great gore, blood, and BRAINS(!!!!), the films always had great stories. They were always driven by characters whose main goal was to survive among the dead for their life. And it always worked!
Mr. Romero, you have been inspiring, admired, respected, loved, and now, most of all, missed.
On behalf of myself, John Roisland, founder and CEO of House of Tortured Souls, thank you, sir, for all the memories you have given to all of us.
Keep It Evil.
Posted by John Roisland in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Tapes (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Tapes (2017)

Face the Unknown with The Dark Tapes (2017)

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

Posted by ZombieGurl in ANTHOLOGY, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments