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Essence is coming soon and you can help!

I had the pleasure to see the teaser trailer for the new film by Jeff KACMARYNSKI’SESSCENSE” the film has a real late 70’s vibe to it from what I saw and have to say I’m intrigued along with the grindhouse feel of the style of old film. The trailer gave a little bit of what to expect but didn’t reveal all too much which is good because seeing this I’m interested to see what will transpire and want to walk in  surprised on how it escalates. I was lucky enough to get a little more information from the Director on the plot and inspiration of the film “After the death of her son, Joanna discovers a hidden room in her home, with a power that could lead her back to him. However, the room instead, unleashes a malicious cosmic entity, that feeds on her fears and sanity, ultimately unleashing a terrible mind game. Our cast includes legendary Lynn Lowry, and veteran actress Maggie Wagner. We are doing a very psychedelic surreal horror film, influenced by Cronenberg, Lynch, Lovecraft , Argento and Fulci.” I have to wonder will we see body horror, over the top gore that will get under our skin? One thing is fore I myself can’t wait to see more. This will be his first feature film that he’s done since his shorts he did some time back DEAD THERAPY is featured in Wild Eye Releasing’s movie WELCOME TO HELL which all have won several awards. Right now there’s a indigo campaign so if you like to contribute by all means even a share helps! For more information here’s a direct link to the Indigogo campaign

 

 


Posted by Jai Alexis in COMING SOON, FEATURED ARTISTS, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy (2018)

You came, I saw, and I love you

In Mandy, Nic Cage takes revenge on a crazy religious cult in the woods with a homemade battle ax. STOP DRILLING YOU HIT OIL! That’s pretty much what sold me on the plot for Mandy, the second film by director Panos Cosmatos whose first film was Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010). Set in 1983, Red Miller (Nicholas Cage) goes after a religious cult that brutally murdered his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). If you have seen his first film, you know what to expect in this; if not, then fair warning — watch the movie with an open mind. Although the film plays out like an 80s-themed slasher movie, it’s almost far from it. Let’s examine this movie further.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Although set in the 80s, it doesn’t have an 80s soundtrack with well-known music. There is a synthesizer, though, along with a Friday the 13th reference to Crystal Lake from Mandy (Andrea Riseborough of such works as Hidden (2015), Waco (2018) (TV mini-series), and Black Mirror (2017) (TV series)). Admittedly there is a real Crystal Lake, Nic Cage himself said that he drew inspiration for his character from Jason Voorhees, so perhaps he wants to give that nod since his character evolved in the woods.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.As may be obvious, Mandy is not like any other Nicholas Cage film. From the picture of Cage all bloody and glimpses in the trailer, one would expect a cheesy B horror movie with over the top gore and one-liners. Not at all! The film plays out like a heavy metal live action movie, and at times, it just feels like a dream as Red goes through moments of despair, guilt, and regret. Cage is complemented by a host of character actors, from Richard Brake (31, Halloween II (2009)) to Linus Roache (Batman Begins) to Bill Duke (Payback, Predator), who definitely deliver. The scenes with the cult aren’t over the top, which is good because not once do the characters trail off and leave the idea of the movie on its own. The bikers, though, don’t dress or sound like bikers. Think something out of Mad Max with a distorted voice that almost sounds animalistic. This raises some interesting questions on the cult’s story because there’s really no back story – for anyone on anything.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.I saw the movie at night, and it stuck with me — not in a bad way but almost as if I were dreaming too. This, by the way, got me thinking about the end when Nicholas Cage is driving away, caked in blood caked and looking out of his mind. This is not Hollywood Nic Cage but a genuinely insane Nicholas Cage.

Final thoughts: Watch the movie, and watch it at night with an open mind because this is without a doubt an interesting movie, and I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for Panos Cosmatos’ third film.

Posted by Jai Alexis in MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

The Predator: Hit or Miss

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.When I first heard that The Predator was coming back to the big screen I thought, ‘Well how are you going to top Predators?’ For my money, Predators is the best sequel to date and has the most legendary opening sequence in a movie ever. The news of Shane Black and Fred Dekker being on board, however, convinced me this was going to be top notch fun, gory, and worth the sequel.

I eagerly attended the first showing on Sunday, 16 September, only to find I was proven wrong – which is a major let down. Black and Dekker (haha) know their stuff and should’ve put together a great movie. With comedy, horror, and even family elements, The Predator struggles to find its focus. On the surface, The Predator is about a young boy who receives a gift of Predator items (WHY?) that eventually turn on a beacon which puts the Predator on a wanted list for being hunted {Or for hunting other creatures?}. The alert causes a problem for Earth since Predators aren’t friendly with anyone. A group of ragtag soldiers who suffer from PTSD ultimately are enlisted to do what’s right, help the kid, and…save the world?

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.As the film starts, there are actually some great action sequences, nice gore, and even a bit of a character development where you find yourself invested in the main character, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, whom you’ll remember as Pierce, the villain, in Logan (2017)). After the spacecraft and presence of the aliens (Predators not Xenomorphs) are revealed, the government steps in and the movie takes a hard turn into Superficialville. Character development and, indeed, care of any characters steps out.

‘But,’ you may think to yourself, ‘This an action horror sci-fi movie. Does character development matter? We’re here for the blood and guts?’

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Well, kind of, yes. What I mean is this: When you attend a movie, you invest your time. In return, you expect to be entertained. You expect to see characters to whom you can relate or for whom you actually feel – especially when they die.

Hell, it took me a good while to realize that Thomas Jane was in the movie – not because of great method acting, but I just didn’t realize it was him. With an actor like Thomas Jane, you would expect that he would be front and center. At the very least, he should be cast in a better or more significant role. However, with this movie, you don’t get that. The deaths feel rushed, and the camera doesn’t exactly linger on the gore. It was almost blink-and-you-miss-it shots of the kills. Perhaps this was to avoid delays from the MPAA or maybe another unknown reason. We may never know.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Overall, The Predator doesn’t really hold up to the previous films in the franchise – gore- or action-wise. Sure, there are a few nods to the previous films but not enough to keep you entertained. From the sci-fi/horror aspect, it could have worked as any other alien movie, but as an entry in the Predator franchise, it doesn’t. Peppered with forced jokes as an attempt to engage the audience, it falls flat because they didn’t really fit the movie. At times, the movie felt overlong and drawn out – not good for film with a scant runtime of 107 minutes. My excitement swelled as the ending approached. Would there be a possible connection to the previous films? Or even something better?

I won’t spoil the movie, but it was almost a slap in the face to the fans of the franchise to see this. HINT: Think uber Jason from Jason X but with no delivery of any kind. It was just a big let down.

My advice: Wait until The Predator comes on Netflix or hits Redbox. It just barely made number one this weekend, so perhaps a sequel or another reboot will help the franchise.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Jai Alexis in HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
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
Trailer for Extremity (2018) Delivers Extreme Potential

Trailer for Extremity (2018) Delivers Extreme Potential

Extremity (2018) / Image: Dark Elegy FilmsI saw the trailer for Extremity (2018) on my phone while I was out shopping for Halloween stuff. I thought, ‘Oh wow, this is cool, and I’m digging it’. This isn’t so much me saying this just because it’s a horror movie about haunted attractions, either. The trailer really struck a chord with me, so there had to be a way to see this on a bigger screen. Heading home, I rushed to my television and go on YouTube to find the trailer. I lucked out as it was online and ready to be viewed. I sat down with the lights off and saw the trailer in beautiful 1080 HD. The way it was meant to be. The film is called Extremity and was directed by Anthony Diblasi who has done some great horror films such as The Last Shift (2014), Most Likely to Die (2015), and Dread (2009). Extremity is about a young woman who puts herself through an extreme haunt attraction to face her fears and conquer a tragic past that has consumed her.

So, let’s break this down.

Extremity (2018) / Image: Dark Elegy FilmsThe movie looks extremely promising, not hokey or cheesy, but actually a really great horror film with amazing scenery, cinematography, and great acting. In the trailer below, you’ll see some familiar faces, such as Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp (1983) and Tiffany Shepis of Tales of Halloween (2015) and Victory Crowley (2017). Extremity shows a lot of promise in that it will rely on great fx and an engaging story without the use of clichés or over the top sets that detract from the gore and terror. What’s especially great is that the “victims” in this movie aren’t trapped or kidnapped; they wholeheartedly sign waivers saying they’re doing this of their own free will and allow the haunters to do whatever they want. Something like this is ten times better because they’re not trying to escape or fight for their lives. They knew the risk and they accepted this place, appropriately named “Perdition”.

It’s interesting to see how long in the film this event will take place or how extreme it will be. From the trailer looks like we’ll see simple acts of drowning, bugs, and body limbs being cut apart along with a difficult task of a “victim” actually killing someone. I say “Victim” because will they survive and if they do how will their mindset be afterward?

Extremity (2018) / Image: Dark Elegy Films

Extremity will be released on VOD services 28 September 2018, followed by a Blu-ray release on 2 October 2018. Watch The Last Shift and Dread to get ready for this release. This will be a movie that House of Tortured Souls will for sure be reviewing.

Posted by Jai Alexis in COMING SOON, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)Growing up, I always loved watching the Puppet Master movies. As I got older, I began to realize the movies didn’t make a whole lot of sense — then again, the movies are about killer puppets coming to life and Nazis wanting a secret formula to re-animate the dead.

Puppet Master: The Littlest ReichPuppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the latest film in the franchise and is a new branch to the storyline. The film is about a group of people meeting at a convention for the Andre Toulon Murders that took place in the late 80s. Naturally, the murders begin all over again. I was skeptical at first since I’m a huge Puppet Master fan and the pictures didn’t really convince me. I was especially disappointed in the new looks, but I sat down and watched the movie with an open mind.

Puppet Master: The Littlest ReichFirst, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a great little flick and an excellent addition to the franchise with its new look and perfect balance of over-the-top gore. Yes, some of the original puppets are back some with new designs, and new puppets have been added to the group — including what appears to be a few toys. The story showcases a darker tone for not only the puppets that are clearly being controlled by Toulon but also for Toulon himself. Forget the loving, Nazi-fighting Toulon; this Toulon is much creepier. Udo Kier, who plays Toulon, has a very interesting take on the character, and Kier has definitely made his mark in the franchise.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich does have some humor but not enough to weaken the horror aspect or riddle the film with shock jokes. At first, it may seem like Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich didn’t cover all the ground, but from the looks of things, we may see a trilogy from this new branch of the Puppet Master storyline.

Overall, I say buy this movie if you’re a Puppet Master fan, and if you’re not, it’s a great movie to watch with friends and a good way to learn about what started this new direction.Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

Posted by Jai Alexis in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, NEW RELEASES, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Tristan Takes Charge!

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Indie horror darling Tristan Risk is at it again, this time taking on the role of director for her very own short film entitled Parlour Tricks. Risky, as she is lovingly referred to, is a well-rounded artist, to say the least. She has starred in countless burlesques and sideshows, created insightful, personal pieces of writing on her website Little Miss Risk and portrayed some memorable characters on film both in and out of costumes and special makeup (American Mary, Harvest Lake, Frankenstein Created Bikers) I will go as far to say that Miss Risk is worthy of the title ‘Renaissance Woman’ as she continues to add to her list of accomplishments.
Parlour Tricks / Tristan RiskAs for her latest endeavor though, Parlour Tricks is delightful, fun, and quirky — much like Tristan is herself. It’s a tale of feuding relatives attempting to contact their departed Aunt in the afterlife, not for the need of closure or to relay how much she meant to each, but rather for selfish and greedy reasons. Sitting at seven and a half minutes, the short film is a quick and enjoyable watch that utilizes its black and white format beautifully. The cast and crew come together wonderfully in what is perhaps a passion project and quite possibly the first of many directorial efforts led by Tristan Risk out of her House Of Hiss, successfully throwing her hat in the ring for future features led by females.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

The High Priestess of Lowbrow took a few moments to answer some questions for us here at HoTS and we couldn’t be more pleased to share what she had to say!
House of Tortured Souls: What prompted you to dive into directing? Has it been something you always have thought of doing?
Tristan Risk: I had always had it at the back of my mind, but I think it mostly came from writing and wanting to see those stories come off of the page, and I had this idea to get someone else to direct. I am not technically trained, so I was worried I needed to know about lens and craft before diving in. Fortunately, I had really great support from my circle of Topher, Jordan, and Burns, who encouraged me to just do it, and so I went with majority rules.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: You are a ridiculously talented burlesque performer and can easily perfect some sideshow abilities such as fire eating and the ‘hair hang’. Do you happen to have a special place in your heart for the body horror sub-genre? Do you have any favorite horror films?
TR: Body horror is the most frightening of subgenres for me. Because I’ve always made my living off of my body, the ideas, and themes it. The idea that we don’t have autonomy over my body is frightening, and while as a woman we face this every day with not having access to health care that meets our needs with regards to our reproductive health. So rather than have an existential crisis over that, we watch Martyrs and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
HoTS: How long was filming and post-production for Parlour Tricks?
TR: We shot Parlour Tricks in one day on a Saturday in March. The post took a little bit longer as everyone was donating their time to polish it off, but Jordan had us a working edit right away so we got it done quickly, and were able to start sending it to festivals quickly. I’m not sure how long it generally takes, but I’m happy to let people take their time and do the job to their satisfaction.
HoTS: Parlour Tricks is a very fun and offbeat short, rather lighthearted. What made you want to go this route with your film?
TR: I don’t think it’s any shock for anyone who has read my writing to know I can go to very dark and graphic places. I love comedy, and while I enjoy all things horror, I wanted to try something different and showcase a side of myself that I don’t often get to display when I’m in front of the camera. I think I also did it as a mild admonishment to people who are thinking I’d go the safe, shocking route, and that one should always expect the unexpected.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

HoTS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
TR: I just wrapped with the Cronenberg remake of Rabid with the Soska sisters in Toronto, Canada. So when that comes to screens I’m very excited and proud to be part of that production. I’m planning on shooting three of my short films, and to work on some features in the future.
HoTS: How has your time on set of the Soska-led remake of Rabid been thus far? Anything you can share with us regarding your character?
TR: The production was full of challenges, but the amazing camera crew and delightful cast, it was an amazing display of tenacity and talent in equal measure. I was so impressed by the crew and in particular our director of photography, Kim Derko, and our camera operators Paula Tymchuk and Tamara Jones. They stood out for me and showed skill and grace, and everyone from all the departments put their blood and souls into this. I’m fiercely proud to be among all of these people’s number in helping contribute to the making of this film.
At this time I’m not sure I’m permitted to reveal the names of what I play at this time. However, I can share that I do play multiple roles in this film that showcases my skill set as well as a new batch of skills previously not used in any other film. I’m very excited to be able to pop up in a few unexpected places and in such a striking film.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: If YOU could remake any film, what would it be?
TR: Oddly enough, I’ve been tapped to contribute and collaborate on another remake, but I’m going to keep that in a quiet whisper for the time being. If I had my pick of films to recreate and reimagine, I’d be tempted to take on Splash. I’m dying to shoot underwater and feature mermaid myth and lore. I even swim in til myself and have worked as a professional mermaid. I’m wanting to feature all the deep diving babes I’ve met over the years who I think could sell the idea.
HoTS: You have toured in over a dozen different countries in various burlesque and sideshows, modeled, and of course acted. Now you can officially add writer and director to your resume. Out of all these creative hats you have worn, do you have a favorite at all? What drives your need to seek such artistic outlets?
TR: I think just a desire to create. So much of it is visual mediums, and I can translate the write to the visual so easily. I’ve always found release in using my ideas to shape my reality around me, and films give me access to a wider audience to do that. I love live shows and it’s frustrating to channel so much energy into a performance where only a handful of people can experience it. While the stage is my first love, I am always ready to have a long-time affair with the screen, and willing to switch between behind and in front of the camera.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 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
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 OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, 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 OR EXTREME HORROR, 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
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 OR EXTREME HORROR, 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 Alan Smithee 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