gore

“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.

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, 0 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
COMING SOON: Nightmares in the Makeup Chair (2017)

COMING SOON: Nightmares in the Makeup Chair (2017)

Image credit: dreadcentral.com
In the 1980s, horror took on a whole new world with the advent of the slasher film. Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Psycho predate the movie that truly brought the term slasher to life – the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Written and directed by legendary filmmaker Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street brought us the character we all have grown to know and love…and fear – the infamous child killer, the one and only Freddy Krueger, made both famous and infamous by Robert Englund, one hell of an actor.. His role immortalized the Springwood Slasher and introduced a new form of fear to the public and a
franchise that has made history in the nightmares of horror fans all over the world.
Many have gone through the franchise picking apart what they love and don’t love about each of them, and, of course, the remake. (I may be the only person on earth who thought the remake was a solid movie. I have my reasons for this, more scientific than anything else.) However, few can deny the appeal of Robert Englund’s O.G. Freddy Krueger with his quick remarks, creative and personalized kills, and the beautiful way he says “bitch” in every situation possible.
Now, a new documentary titled NIGHTMARES IN THE MAKEUP CHAIR, an exposé featuring Robert Englund donning the Freddy Krueger persona one last time will be happening at the Flashback Weekend in Chicago Aug 6-8, 2017. Mr. Englund will be sharing stories from behind the scenes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, some fun anecdotes of the experiences the cast and crew had on the set. All while having the makeup put on him, along with what looked like a standard Convention style Q&A session while wearing the Krueger gear. This is definitely a neat little concept that I’m sure every horror fan will just love to see. I, for one, being HUGE slasher, horror and especially Freddy Krueger fan will thoroughly enjoy this documentary.
So get ready to walk through memory Elm Street with the man himself in this unique little documentary of our favorite nightmare slasher. Oh, and check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.

Posted by Schock in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Carnage Park (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Carnage Park (2016)

CARNAGE PARK (2016)
Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck
So it's getting to be a late Saturday night and being the party animal that I am I flop on the couch, grab the remote, turn on Netflix, and start to waste time looking hopefully for a good movie. As always, I go straight to our beloved horror section, and I actually happen to stumble across Carnage Park. I knew was a relatively new release and figured why not, I don't have much else to do.
The story is of young Vivian (Bell, The Day, The Last Exorcism) who is kidnapped by two bank robbers in a small town outside the California desert. The two outrun the cops by driving off into the desert hills on an old dirt road that they come across. Thinking that they have made the easy escape, the two criminals are shot and killed by a skilled marksman who's watching them out in the hills. It is from this point on that Vivian is forced into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
So, hearing that, Carnage Park doesn't sound that bad... well, it's not great either.
Mickey Keating, director of Carnage Park, is trying for a late sixties feel. The beginning of the film was almost obnoxious the way it was done, then tried slipping into a near Tarantino hip feel, finally ending up trying to mock Rob Zombie in so many different ways.
And it must be pointed out that just because you're able to find an old model Nova to use as a cop car, an old Chevy Impala for the getaway car, and put a tinted lens over your camera, it really doesn't give a retro feel. The point that it was supposed to be dated is there, but, honestly, anyone could have picked up on it. It really had nothing to do with how it was shot.
Carnage Park is a borderline disappointment as the film had decent potential, and the star acting was pretty good and actually the one thing that held it together. Pat Healy (Compliance, Cheap Thrills) as the shooter was really good,...just wish there was actually more of him, and Alan Ruck as the sheriff looks the same as he did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Now I'm not saying that the movie is Godawful because it's not although I did catch myself watching the clock and kind of wondering when is this ever going to be over.
It did have the potential to be a much grittier and bloodier film, and I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. As many of you know, my love for Netflix is not a strong one anymore. Still, if you're a crazy, wild, Saturday night party person like I am and you can't find anything else worth watching either, sure go ahead and give Carnage Park a view... Hopefully you'll like it more than I did.
Keep It Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MUSIC REVIEW: Mister Monster – Over Your Dead Body (2001)

MUSIC REVIEW: Mister Monster – Over Your Dead Body (2001)

By Shock
Mister Monster - Over Your Dead Body / Image: Discog.com
For about 17 years now, Mister Monster has been a staple in the Horror Punk fan's collection. Well, to those of us who have been fortunate to hear the best horror punk album ever written. Some of the newer guys and girls to the scene have stated they do not know who Mister Monster is or what they're about. For those who may not have heard the album Over Your Dead Body, here's a little song by song write up on an album that changed the way a lot of us looked at the genre of Horror Punk.
With Over Your Dead Body, released March 19, 2001, the New Jersey-based Mister Monster set a new standard with a subdivision of Horror Punk called Boo Wop. OYDB had been anticipated for a few years and prior to its release a handful of demos and singles were released. OYDB showed people what the band was about, introduced the Boo Wop sound and style, and highlighted the outstanding musicianship of the band.
The album album opens with a track called "Weird NJ", a news report about different females named Anna or Annie around the New Jersey area who have been killed, describing in detail the different fictional (or were they?) murders and cannibalistic rituals involved. They then slide into the song "Over Your Dead Body", which alone set the standard that could have carried this band for another two decades. This song is simply the best written song from start to finish. Full of murder, love, and necrophilia, this song really gets you amped for the whole record. While not every song is as masterful as this one, it certainly sets the standard and showcased what Mister Monster was capable of.
Following this amazing opening is "Guaranteed to Bleed" which we can tell by listening has that Boo Wop sound, a nice mixture of 50s/60s doo wop and modern day punk rock. It really gave way to a sound that wasn't present in any band at the time or before. Following this was "Love Thornz" and "This Night I Call Bad Luck", two songs that I've heard some say represent their lives. "This Night I Call Bad Luck" really when you put this on you're thinking, 'Yes, Jsin, I totally feel ya, bro'. With its catchy hook, and relateable lyrics that aren't precisely horror, it's still fitting for the genre and gives us a look into the mind of Jsin Trioxin and how he sees things outside of the horror field.
Track 6, "'Til the End", is by far my favorite song on the album. This track that really gets down to business musically and with such artistry that the music pulls you in and the lyrics right away give you chills. Go ahead and listen. I promise you, this one will change the way you see things, putting images in your head instantly of what is playing out in the lyrics. It's a beautiful song that is in a classification all on its own.
From here it goes into "Murder 4 Hire", a song that is very dirty in nature, evident from the end of "'Til the End", which acts as an intro to "Murder 4 Hire". "One, two, three or four..would you like any more of my blood stained fingers inside....you". Then it goes into this completely necrophilia-driven song. And if you're REALLY into horror, use it as a get your girl in the mood song instead of something like Marvin Gaye or any other Barry White type love song. This one will do it for the punkers and metal heads. The album carries on with "Bigger Shop of Horrors" and then "Prom Night".
"Prom Night" was the first song I heard from Mister Monster when it was still a demo. Let me say Boo Wop definitely is what this song defines. Paying homage to the story Carrie, "Prom Night" brings a really classic rock n' roll vibe and makes you want to grab a girl and sock hop dance. It's such a great track that it makes you feel like you're in the song. After this is "Amy Sue", and I've had many arguments with people over this song. Personally, I don't like it. Too slow for my taste, and I could never get into it at all; however, others would say it's the best song on the record. "Teenaged Dreams" and "Tina and Freddy" follow "Amy Sue" making up for the slower vibe. "Tina and Freddy" another Return of the Living Dead reference, is very fast and almost metal in style and is for sure a head banger. Getting further into the album, "Little Frankenstein" goes back to the Boo Wop style and sucks you back in to that genre created by this band. Next is "Her Open Grave", another slower piece I usually skip because, well, I just do. I've heard it a few hundred times but still can't get into the style that it is. Some of you may feel differently, and that's cool as well.
"Gore Whore" on the other hand, which is homage to Trash from Return of the Living Dead, rocks. Something that really gets you with music is not always being able to understand the singer, so when you listen to this one and hear, "She likes to bat fuck...she's my little gore whore". You won't hear bat. So, have a chuckle at this one, a lot of us have for years. It's a solid song with a heavy overtone and is great for anyone with a dirty mind and love of zombies. Then it goes right into "Resident Evil" another metal style piece; extra fast but crooner style vocals really make this song something to remember and get stuck in your head for years.
"Dead Flesh Gurl", another necrophilia driven song, is slower but still a decent listen. Next it goes into "Transylvania Mania", something completely different. This song is that. I remember listening to a radio interview with Jsin Trioxin in which he stated he and Myke Hideous were drinking one night and laid the vocals for this one. It's not really singing at all, just random spooky nonsense.
Finally, they end the album with "Send More Paramedics". What do you know? Another Return of the Living Dead reference; however, it has nothing to do with the movie. This is a ghostly tale of sorts and pretty much a love song that is another favorite of mine on the album.
This album is solid from start to finish (evidenced by the the fact I have had 18 copies of the album and that this is the first thing I mention when anyone asks what I'm into). Lyrically, it's a magical piece. I remember a conversation I had with Jsin one night when he was playing guitar for Blitzkid and the band I was in played with them that night. I asked about a particular lyric and what it meant he said, "You take away from it what you think it means". So, unless it's a blatant reference, you will have to figure it out for yourself. Musically, this is the best album period. Hands down. No matter what genre you're into, if you're a true music fan, this is the album for you. Punk, horror, rock'n'roll, metal... this album has every bit of it blended perfectly in 19 tracks.
Some of us fans have been waiting for years to finally hear new music, and all we have been given are singles here and there and word on the street that is there is another album being made. When it is released, I'll be all over it. I can say, though, topping this album is pretty impossible. I listen to many genres and many different bands, and this one has been my favorite for a very long time. This album is number 1 on my list. If you haven't listened, then click the link below and enjoy the whole thing. If you have the opportunity to purchase the album, do so! It's money well spent, I promise you that.
Keep it Creepy,
-Schock

Posted by Schock in MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Girl in the Photographs (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Girl in the Photographs (2015)

By John Roisland

The Girl in the Photographs. Fair use doctrine.

Some people say that art is murder and murder is art, and in this little movie I found on Netflix, it seems so. The Girl In the Photographs is a 2015 horror film that was directed by Nick Simon, who also brought us The Pyramid in 2014.

When Colleen (Claudia Lee from Kick Ass 2), a local girl in Small Town, USA is targeted to find murder pix posted in her grocery store where she works, she freaks a bit, and because there's no proof, local police just chalk it up as a prank with bad taste. It’s soon found out the a serial killer (Luke Baines) is on the loose. This killer dismantles his victims. poses their bodies to mock famous glamour model magazine shots, and then photographs the victims (hence the name...The Girl In the Photographs) to leave for Colleen. When the word of this does finally hit the Internet, Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn from Harold and Kumar), an LA hotshot photographer who once lived in this same small town immediately takes a road trip back home with a few models as well as his entourage and set up shop for a week to do a photo shoot with some of the local women.

His game plan, to taunt the killer by having Lee star as his local model for his shoot, goes south when the killer shows up unannounced at the final party before they all leave to head back to LA, taking Lee with them in promises of making her the new big model

I'm not going to give away any spoilers, what kind of ass hat would I be to do that? But what I will tell you about The Girl In the Photographs is this: I was pleasantly surprised, not only with this film in its entirety but with the ending was as well. It managed to surprise me some, so it wasn’t 100% predictable. I really enjoyed that! It's a slasher film a with brain that still delivered on a good amount of suspense and gore!

The Girl in the Photographs. Fair use doctrine.

I also very much enjoyed a surprise 2-3 minute scene that starred Katherine Isabelle, from Ginger Snaps and, of course, American Mary, that opened the film. Way to go, Netflix. It’s about damn time! So if your scrolling Netflix horror endlessly looking for something that catches your eye, give The Girl in the Photographs a shot. I think you'll surprised.

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Old 37 (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Old 37 (2015)

By John Roisland

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2015 brought us the highly-anticipated Old 37, which teamed up two of horror's most iconic actors, Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley, to play brothers Jon Roy and Daryl, a couple of psychopaths who have been brought up by a mentally and physically abusive father.

Their sadistic father ran a scrapyard but was also an ambulance driver who enjoyed torturing and murdering victims at accident scenes if he arrived before anyone else. The two brothers often witnessed these acts as they rode along with their father when they were young boys. Through the years, the brothers acquired their father's passion for inflicting pain, eventually also disguising themselves as paramedics and, using their father's old ambulance, began intercepting 911 calls. Usually first on the scene of an accident, Jon Roy and Daryl would take charge of the survivors using the tag line they took from their father(“Don't worry. I'm a paramedic.”) just before brutally murdering their new victim.

On to the main story line.

The movie focuses on a group of affluent teens who enjoy back road automobile racing and playing chicken. All is fine until one day a race turns deadly as they hit and kill a elderly woman getting her mail. Panicked and frightened, the teens flee the scene to avoid responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately for them, the teens are noticed by Jon Roy and Daryl who were pulling out of a nearby lane. Given their psychopathic natures, the brothers wouldn't have cared too much about the hit and run except for one small problem - the victim of the fatal crash was their mother. Devastated, the two brothers begin a campaign to seek out vengeance for their mother's murder.

The movie itself was fun film although I must admit I did expect a few more scenes with Hodder and Mosley doing what they do best...killing! The story revolved around the teens, their popularity, their social life, etc., leaving most of the development of the brothers to flashback and showing precious little of their grown up hobbies.

Before all you die hard Jason Voorhees and Otis Driftwood fans tear me apart, hear me out. I'm a big fan, too. That's why even though I enjoyed Old 37, I was disappointed. I truly expected to see more of these horror legends in the film. Hodder and Moseley did an awesome job together (Sorry Bill, but Kane stole the show!) and really deserved to be on screen more. Without giving away spoilers, I thought the ending was great! Absolutely loved it! I can actually remember getting a huge smile on my face as it happened! This is a must see for fans of Hodder and Moseley.

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

By John Roisland

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Winter of 2015, actually for my birthday, I was fortunate enough to spend the day on the set of highly awaited film The Night Watchmen.

The story follows the eponymous night watchmen who, during their shift one night, receive a package that was delivered to the wrong location. This wasn't just your usual parcel - no gift to little Bobby from Grandma, no special free shipping on a DVD copy of The Hamiltons from amazon.com... This was a coffin holding a supreme vampire brought back take over the world! And who's there to defend us all from this demonic take over from the undead? The Night Watchmen.

(Warning: Video contains nudity.)

The film is a horror comedy that even while on the set had the crew cracking up during many lines. The film is totally unique but has the feel of Evil Dead meets John Carpenter. It has dark, gory horror with just the right amount of tongue in cheek comedy to make this a perfect fit. The film is packed with action, blood, vampires, dead people ... and clowns? Yes, even clowns.

As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with the cast and crew and was taken in by our three fearless watchmen themselves and stars of the film - Ken Arnold, Dan Deluca and Kevin Jiggetits. Everyone was awesome, and I was in awe of everything I was being allowed to observe.  The film was partially filmed in Annapolis, Maryland at an old newspaper press factory, and it was the perfect setting! Guys, thank you for taking the time. That was a birthday that could never be out done!

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The Night Watchmen and yours truly.

Hanging around with Arnold, Deluca, and Jiggetts is an ear to ear grin experience. The three of them are much like brothers...in a Three Stooges way. Fun loving, but always professional.

The film was written by Ken Arnold and Dan Deluca, and has been directed by Mitchell Altieri, who brought us The Hamiltons and The Violent Kind.

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The film also costars James Remar (Dexter), Rain Pryor (Rude Awakening), and Tiffany Shepis (Exit to Hell), and features the special f/x make-up artistry of RJ Haddy. There sadly is no release date for the film as of yet, but soon as House of Tortured Souls knows, you'll know! Until then, support The Night Watchmen by liking their Facebook page, and prepare to hear those magical words - Lets go kill dead people!

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 4 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Jebediah (2011)

MOVIE REVIEW: Jebediah (2011)

By Nicole Robinson

https://youtu.be/bAiiYDtn1AU

They are a few things in life that are better than a satisfying horror movie. Finding one has become much more difficult since the era of the comic book splashed onto the big screen. In times such as these, some horror fans choose to kick rocks and whine rather than turn to the straight to streaming gems that can be found. This is a mistake and if you need proof, go to Amazon. There you will find Jebediah, a story of a menacing, sickle wielding Amish man with a creative and expressive love of killing from director Joe Ripple and starring Brian Greenwell.

In the role of Jebediah, Greenwell portrays a silent and creepy Amish man with a presence that creates an intimidating persona instilling fear into the victims and the viewers. Greenwell manages to capture a spark of madness as a silent killer. This is no easy task. While a silent killer like Michael Myers can be seriously terrifying, it can also be comical if not portrayed properly. Greenwell almost makes it look easy, leaving the viewer wondering what dark place this actor had to go to in order to embody the role of this madman in the title role of Jebediah.

The main point that can be said about this flick is the violence leaves the viewer wanting nothing in the end. No one is safe and by the end, the carnage leaves no one unscathed. What starts out as a seemingly innocent camping trip among a small group of girlfriends, ends in a blood bath while leaving the audience trying to figure out who among them is going to make it out alive. Lacking predictability is an important feature for any horror movie, and Jebediah manages to make it look easy. Don't bother trying. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. And don't worry, the annoying blond one who is wearing the wedges while walking in the woods does die in the most glorious of ways. Writer Robert Ziegler held nothing back when he penned the deaths of Jebediah's victims. Spoilers withheld, this is not a film for the faint of heart.

From the moment Jebediah curb stomped an infant strapped to a car seat, the audience knows they are in for a treat. Jebediah is not just creepy, but disturbingly violent, providing a level of satisfaction for the viewers that has been seemingly lacking in recent years from the blockbuster films on the big screen. By the end of this slasher film, an uncomfortable, yet satisfying feeling of dread is left with the viewer, probably hoping there is a sequel (there is not sadly). One thing is for certain, this is a fine piece of horror.

Starring: Danielle Lozeau, Jessy Danner, Lauren Lakis, Jemma McDime, Sabrina Taylor-Smith, and Brian Greenwell

To find out more or get your own copy, CLICK HERE 

Posted by Nicole Robinson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
FILM REVIEW: Anarchy Parlor (2015)

FILM REVIEW: Anarchy Parlor (2015)

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By: John Roisland

Anarchy Parlor is the story  of a few friends on vacation in Vilnius, Lithuania. While out one night  partying, one of the guys runs into a long blonde haired heavily tattooed young lady by the name of  Uta, played by Sara Fabel (Gang Busters) who is  very aggressive with the guy, and mentions that she is an apprentice at a local tattoo shop. With this being said, immediately he and one of his friends goes with the girl back to the tattoo parlor, so he can try to put the moves on his new found love, and his friend…well she wants to get a tattoo to remember their trip by.

imagesJMSWEITE

When the three of them alive at the tattoo parlor the guy and Uta go downstairs for a quick little fuck fest while the girl Amy, played by Tiffany DeMarco (Raze, Its Dark Here) stays and waits for the artist, played by Robert LaSardo (Death Race, Human Centipede III, Strangeland , Nip/Tuck). LaSardo and Amy speak for a while getting to know each other, earning a trust amongst them, and decides on a small tattoo to get. Downstairs, Uta has now drugged our young friend and is passed out unconscious. As LaSardo finishes his tattoo on Amy, she passes out from the drug he put into her drink.

The morning after, the rest of the friends come looking for their now lost friends who were last seen going to this tattoo shop. When they get there, they are of course told that they were there, but had left in the wee hours of the night.  The group leaves, very upset and angered…they are sure their friends are in that shop!

Meanwhile, down in the basement better known as a dungeon if you will, we find LaSardo and our apprentice with our new victims tied to a slab strip down to their underwear lying on their stomachs. It is here that we find out the real meaning of Anarchy Parlor. LaSardo and his apprentice perform the art of cutting the skin from the backs of their victims claiming it to be the purest form of canvas. Meanwhile, our other friends have made their way back to the tattoo shop forcing their way in claiming that they know that their friends are here as they searched throughout the building they find a body hung in the basement, with Amy still on the slab.

It is explained by LaSardo’s character that he has been hired to do portraits, of all the members of the oldest and wealthiest family in Lithuania. But the portraits are to be done…on the purest form of canvas there is.  Hence the reason why LaSardo skins his victims.

The movie overall was highly entertaining! It sadly enough will not win any awards although I must say on a high point that Robert Lasardo’s  character I think was written for him. He absolutely nailed this performance. Having had the pleasure of meeting and personally speaking with Robert LaSardo a few times, I can tell you that many personality traits in his character are  very, very similar to Robert’s own mannerisms in real life, (and I say this with the utmost respect) Lasardo is a very well spoken gentleman, who chooses his words wisely…so did his character. He obviously put a lot into his role.  So I definitely must  give huge props to my friend Mr. LaSardo on his performance.

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There are some decent blood and gore scenes in the film,  watching somebody get skinned kinda makes you cringe a little bit. There is a small feel of Hostel during the film, but not one to make you say its a rip-off. I did enjoy the ending…I like where they went with it, that’s all I’m gonna  say about that!

The film was both written and directed by Devon Downs and Kenny Gage and brought to you from A Team Entertainment.

I recommend giving Anarchy Parlor a shot, and next time you’re in a tattoo shop…you might not want to go wandering around.

 

Keep It Evil.

 

Posted by John Roisland in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Autopsy (2008)

MOVIE REVIEW: Autopsy (2008)

Autopsy

Autopsy poster

By John Roisland

2008 After Dark Horrorfest III,  AUTOPSY, written and directed by Adam Gierasch who also brought you Fractured in 2013 and Night of the Demons in 2009.

The story is of a group of friends who leave Mardi Gras after partying,  have a car accident, and are picked up by an ambulance that takes them to a nearby hospital, that can examine their wounds... very carefully!

The problem is, this hospital has been closed for 3 years. It has been taken over by mental patients, the head physician included. The lead physician, played by Robert Patrick ( Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Walk the Line, Copland) has plans of his own, to help his dying wife, by any medical means possible.

The group is seen, one by one, and none return to the lobby to rejoin their friends. At this point things get chaotic as the group finds themselves at the hands of psychos. Unable to escape from the hospital, one by one they are put on the slab, and brutally taken apart...all in the name of science.

This is a really fun movie and was from a great time era of the After Dark releases. The film is full of guts and gore, and even has a few decent scare factors. One memorable scene I always liked is an autopsy with the entrails draped around the operating table like Christmas tree garland. The  film quality is also top rate, which definitely comes thru in the movie as the color and sound are perfect!

Autopsy in Autopsy

The films also stars Jessica Lowndes (Altitude, The Devils Carnival), Ross McCall (Green Street Hooligans , Serving Up Richard), Ashley Schneider ( Extreme Movie, Stupid Teenagers Must Die), Michael Bowen (Less Than Zero, Django Unchained, Kill Bill Vol. 1+2) and Mr. Robert LaSardo (Death Race, Anarchy Parlor, The Human Centipede III, Nip/Tuck, Strangeland), who I must say, was perfect in this role!

The film is now 8 years old, so really there is no reason why you haven't seen it. But if by some chance you WERE born yesterday and haven't, you need to put it on your list! For those of you who have, it's overdue for another good viewing!

7/10

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
The Walking Dead: Who is Negan?

The Walking Dead: Who is Negan?

By Nicole Robinson

Negan

Fans of The Walking Dead comic book series have long awaited to find out who was going to be playing the notorious villain Negan. It was recently announced that The Good Wife and Supernatural alum, Jeffery Dean Morgan, was cast, bringing about speculation that Negan will be appearing sometime during season 6. This was all but confirmed after that mid-season finale’s sneak peek of Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham’s encounter with The Saviors. For those fans that do not read the comic series, you are probably wondering to yourself “Who is Negan and why should I care?”

For those of you wondering this very question, here are some answers.

Negan is a very important comic character and first appears in the series during issue #100. He is the leader of the Saviors. The sneak peek gave us our first introduction to Negan’s group in a very accurate portrayal of their comic counterparts. This is not a small group, but in fact is an entire community like Alexandria and Negan is their leader. He uses fear and brutality to secure their loyalty with burning faces with an iron as example of one punishment for breaking the rules.

From the very beginning, it is very clear that Negan has a special type personality. In his first appearance, his introduces Rick and friends to Lucille, a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire which he uses to random choose his first victim. He knocks at the gates of Alexandria demanding HALF of everything. Half of all of the supplies, weapons, and ammo that the community has collected in exchange for protection. The protection they need is from The Saviors.

Negan randomly choose a victim from a subdued group which happens to be Glenn. While a pregnant Maggie, Rick, and Michonne watch, he beats Glenn to death with Lucille in one of the most memorable and graphic scene of the entire series. This also establishes a lot about the character that is Negan and his impact on the dynamic of the story.

The death of Glenn is one which strikes at the very hearts of Rick and Maggie as well as the rest of the survivors. We learn very quickly that Negan is very narcissistic and charming with absolutely no sense of remorse. He hears Glenn beg for his life and yet he still smashes Lucille into his skull and at one point even laughs and says “He is taking it like a champ”. Rick swears to avenge Glenn and kill Negan but this does not even phase him. He just laughs more and beats Rick with his bare hands before leaving.

Negan is a psychotic, witty, intelligent, and brutal. He occasionally will display a warped sense of sympathy but lacks empathy completely. And he is coming to the TV counterpart during the second half of season 6. Jeffery Dean Morgan was recently announced to have been casted as the iconic villain settling any questions as to whether or not Rick would come face to face with Negan before season 7. Does this spell the end for Glenn?

So far the television series has mixed up the death count to be different from the comic counterpart. Bob replaced Dale as tainted meat. Tyresse died at Shirewilt Estates last season in a reverse of sorts having first appeared at Wiltshire Estates previous to the prison in the comic. Sasha seems to be taking over the role of Andrea as the sniper. Chances are the writers will do the same for Glenn especially after the whole dumpster ordeal. One major theory that seems to hold the most weight is that Daryl will be the one to meet Lucille if and when Negan shows up this season.

Before you start getting out the riot gear, think about this a little. We have been seeing less and less of Daryl this season as if we are being weaned off of him. His story seems to have become very stale since Beth died. What more does Daryl Dixon really have to offer The Walking Dead? He has come to terms with his past and who he is. He trusts people a lot more now, even going out as a recruiter for Alexandria. He became a valued member of the group, really growing out of the whole racist redneck image we had of him in season 1.

Another aspect to consider is that Daryl is second only to Rick as the most popular Character on a show that claims “No One Is Safe”.  The moment that Negan arrives and brutal ends Glenn is one of the moment significant moments of the entire comic series. Glenn has played second fiddle to Daryl since the start, having has a much larger role in comic series as well as being a fan favorite. Whomever gets Lucille has to make a huge impact.

The major point about Glenn’s death is that is makes the readers really hate Negan. There is no one else besides that Daryl that could make the audience hate Negan on the level we need too for the TV series. The legions of fan screaming “If Daryl Dies We Riot” can only keep him safe for so long. The appearance of Negan brings about a new chapter for The Walking Dead and Lucille is thirsty.

It will a long wait for the 2nd half of season 6. The first 8 episodes started out strong and ended…. Well…. Good. When season 6 picks back on Valentine’s Day with the episode “No Way Out”, here is to hoping they make it up to us with a lot of death, especially for Sam. He really needs to die for speaking a syllable while walking through a herd in a walker gut covered bed sheet.

Posted by Nicole Robinson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, EDITORIALS, REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Flowers (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Flowers (2015)

By Travis Love

Flowers

Directed by Phil Stevens and released on October 27, 2015, by Unearthed Films, Flowers is an Arthouse horror film that delves into the grim tale of six women who awaken disoriented and unaware of how they've arrived in this state of surreal, dream-esque purgatory, until they discover they've all suffered the same grisly fate at the hands of the same demented aggressor. Abandon all hope ye who awaken under a porch surrounded by body filled Glad trash bags.

Watching Flowers and trying to convey to someone what it is, is the equivalent of trying to explain how Pornhub works to a blind man. He really doesn't understand what you mean because he's never experienced it before for himself (unfortunately braille Pornhub never caught on...sorry Stevie Wonder). The film is as dark and depressing as it is morbidly fascinating and eerily beautiful, with equal aspects macabre and performance art combing to create one of the most truly genuinely unique cinema experiences you could ever hope for.

The fact that there is no dialog in the film allows you to immerse yourself fully in the imagery, taking in every minute detail of the scenery. The scenes piece together almost like Dante Alighieri's Inferno, with each character feeling like they're in their own circle of hell. Each character transitions to a different person and tale as they crawl from underneath the porch, to under the house, to the bathroom through a hole in the floor and so on. Past events with the victims are tied to Polaroids that they either awaken with, or discover during their venturing through the house. Each picture triggers a memory for each character that holds some barring on their life before and their personal encounter with the antagonist.

As far as gore goes, Flowers even delivers artistically in that regard as well, with scenes that run the gamut of twisted and perverted (fondling the intestines of a disemboweled victim before warming up her dead body like a gas station burrito necrophilia style) to ethereal and metaphorical (a victim discovering she's hollow on the inside and begins stuffing what she believes are her internal organs inside the open cavity, but to the outside perspective she's only stuffing her gaping hole with earth and worms). Morbid imagery has never looked so enthralling and engaging.

In conclusion, Flowers achieves what so many films set out to do, it establishes its originality and individuality proudly in leaps and bounds and sets a precedent that films can be artistically beautiful and engaging while at the same time brooding and aberrant. Do yourself a favor and let Flowers put something hauntingly beautiful inside you...and possibly some fingers as well.

Rating: 8/10

-Travis

Posted by Travis Love in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: An Inside Remake (2016)

COMING SOON: An Inside Remake (2016)

By Dixielord

Inside remake

Inside remake

The Hollywood foreign to American, remake machine is in full swing. Now coming not long after word that the American remake of Martyrs will soon hit the screen, it appears a remake of Inside is going forward. Inside, along with Martyrs, and others, was part of a wave of extreme gore French horror films. Now Inside (2007) is up to get the typical watered down Hollywood remake formula.

The Martyrs remake went through a lot of changes, from early reports that it would star Kristen Stewart, to the project being shelved, before finally the powers that be decided to throw out a cheap quickie of a film so as not to lose the rights. The Inside remake at least looks like they are taking the time to hire a decent writer and director.

As of now the project, a Spanish produced, English language production is set to be directed by Miguel Angel Vivas, best known for the well received Spanish language film Kidnapped. The script in play now was written by Jaume Balaguero, director of the excellent Spanish horror film Rec, and Manu Diez, who co-wrote Rec 2 and Rec 4: Apocalypse. So the project, at least for now, has some decent talent attached.

Jaume Belaguero and Manuela Velasco

Manuela Velasco, star of Rec, and Jaume Balaguero of Rec and the Inside remake

Haven't writers and directors who have been successful in the horror genre, although Kidnapped was more thriller than horror, does bode well for the Inside remake. But the thriller part concerns me a bit. The producers have said that the Inside remake would be a taut thriller focusing on a battle between two would be mothers.. OK, there is a thin line between horror and thriller but the original pole vaulted that line and landed in the territory of straight up gore and horror. Making this film a thriller, appears to be an attempt to tone it down. And there is no reason to tone it down, except producers don't think American audiences will crowd into a gorefest.

Inside remake

The Inside Remake based on the 2007 Gorefest Inside

Still if it looks to be a decent film, I will watch it. Even though it's unnecessary. It's still a long time till the Inside remake hits the screen. It's scheduled to start filming in February 2016, and even that is subject to change. As of now there is no cast attached and only one publicity photo. It doesn't even appear to have an IMDb page yet. Whatever eventually happens with the Inside remake, the trend isn't going to stop. Remakes, re-imaginings, reboots, or whatever you prefer to call them are here to stay. All we can do is hope they do justice to the originals that we love.

Posted by Allen Alberson in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Collector (2009)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Collector (2009)

By John Roisland

Collector 4

In 2009, Marcus Dunstan, who brought you such titles as Saw IV and Saw V, brought you his clever game of cat and mouse, The Collector. This 90 minute sleeper, released by Vivendi and Genius Entertainment, unfortunately didn't do much at the box office, but was a bit of a hit with the rental market and with me!

Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises , The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) stars as Arkin, an ex-con turned handy man who is trying to make good in life as well as make good to the loan shark that his wife racked up some hefty bills with while trying to stay afloat while Arkin was in the joint. Arkin offers to settle up by doing a job in his wealthy client’s home since he and his family are preparing to leave for a family vacation.

Both parties agree, but unfortunately for our star, someone has laid claim to this house first. Only difference is, this guy’s not there to rob them of jewelry; he robs them of lives. The Collector, played by Juan Fernandez (A Man Apart), has already settled in and transformed the house into a giant booby-trap full of torturous devices making it nearly impossible to escape.

Arkin arrives at the house to steal his new wealth, when he comes across the homeowners who are being held captive...in a giant foot locker. They warn him of the intruder and try to sneak out only to find themselves encountering deadly trap after deadly trap. You see, our new found collector, collects bodies. Tortures, murders, keeps them for his...collection.

I will say that there is a feeling of the Saw series present in the film. Even though this may not be as over the top or action packed as Saw, and sometimes it gets kinda slow, they did a good job with it. The film and lighting captured the feel of desperate people caught in their own home transformed into traps as well as the feel of The Collector’s driving need to collect. Some of the torture scenes were pretty original and gory. I have got to give props when they are due. While having a good blood and gore level, the film still held a nice atmosphere of suspense for its audience.

The film I thought ended perfectly into the ending credits...yes, also leaving it open for a sequel, that I'd rather not even discuss!

This one is a great watch. It keeps your interest without overdoing it. The acting, while maybe not being spot on by all of the cast, most still give a worthy performance. I do certainly enjoy this film, and suggest that if you haven't checked it out, that you do so!

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust

By Dixielord

Cannibal Apocalypse

I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of horror movies of the 70s and 80s. I'm especially fond of those low budget schlockers from the period, and even more so those films branded as a Video Nasty. I have been a fan of the zombie films of the period for a long time and have recently started searching out the Italian cannibal movies from around the same time. This search lead me to Cannibal Apocalypse.

At first I thought this was going to be just another cannibal epic set deep in the jungles of New Guinea, or the Amazon, a la Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox. However doing some research Cannibal Apocalypse turned out to be something entirely different.

Cannibal Apocalypse stars horror legend John Saxon as Gordon Hopper, a Viet Nam vet still haunted by a traumatic event during the war. In a dream we see him flash back to Viet Nam, where he is bitten by one of two captured service men, one of whom he knew from back home. He wakes up to get a call from one of the soldiers, Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who has just been released from a mental hospital.

Bukowski wants to meet up with his war buddy for coffee. However, Hopper, disturbed by the dream, and being hit on by his (possibly underage) neighbor Mary, refuses. Bukowski feeling abandoned and betrayed again, set off on his own. After attacking a woman in a movie theater, he goes on a rampage, killing several people and biting a police officer before being subdued and carted back to the mental hospital. Meanwhile, Hopper has been experiencing a desire for raw meat. He breaks out Bukowski and two other infected, Thompson (who bit Hopper) and an infected nurse. The four fugitives then lead police in a chase across Atlanta and into the cities sewers, spreading the cannibal contagion as they go.

Cannibal Apocalypse is a strange film on many fronts. While ostensibly it belongs to the European Cannibal sub genre, it many ways it's closer to the zombie movies of the same time period. It treats cannibalism similar to the zombie virus, as it can be transferred through a bite. However, it's set mostly in the city of Atlanta where most European zombie and cannibal films of the period were set deep in the jungle.

While Cannibal Apocalypse is far from bloodless, it is relatively tame in the gore department, especially for a video nasty. Honestly, watching it I never really understood why this film would be banned, other than the fact it dealt with cannibalism. Director Antonio Margheriti isn't so much known for gore but more for gothic horror, and it's believed producers pushed him to add gore just for commercial reasons. The gore that the film has is good, the bites are deep and bloody, and there is a shot gun killing that goes on forever with bloody consequence.

The film borrows heavily in some scenes from Dawn of the Dead, which is only fitting since Dawn was the founder of the Italian gore craze of the era. There is a shoot out with a gang in a flea market. In another nod to Dawn, a large part of the second half is a group of four people on the run, a group of one black man, two white men and a white woman, the same makeup as the main group in Dawn. Even the wardrobes of Saxon and Actress May Heatherly seem eerily similar to Gaylen Ross and David Emge of Dawn. There were times that looking at May, I thought, “Damn, she really looks a lot like Gaylen.”

You could even posit that Cannibal Apocalypse is a reverse copy of Dawn. In Dawn of the Dead we follow a group of uninfected as they flee, seeking shelter from the infected undead. In Apocalypse, it's reversed with a group of infected (soldiers versus police) fleeing from those not rabid for human flesh.

Even though technically this is a European Cannibal film borrowing heavily from the zombie genre, it's more than a horror film. Beyond all this Cannibal Apocalypse is a movie about the Vietnam War and its effects on the men who fought it.

John Saxon's Hopper is a vet who outwardly seems normal and healthy, but inside he's haunted by his time in the jungle. He dreams about it at night and in the day time struggles with the blood lust (represented by cannibalism), that he needed to survive the war. Fellow vets Bukowski and Thompson aren't as lucky. After being held prisoner by the Vietcong, their minds have broken, their blood lust is uncontrollable. Coming home, they are locked away and forgotten, even by their comrade Hopper.

After Bukowski is “cured” all it takes is a war movie and an act of sexuality to fully reawaken his rage and hunger. Being in the presence of his fellow vets causes Hopper's fragile, but well maintained control to break

You could make the case that Cannibal Apocalypse is a condemnation not only of the Vietnamese War but of war in general. War, where we take young men, teach them how to kill, but when the war's over we don’t teach them how to not kill anymore. We drop them into hell and force them to adapt, then expect them to adapt easily back into normal life. Those who can't end up locked away, or more so recently, living on the streets.

While Cannibal Apocalypse might not be great, high cinema, it is certainly a better film than many of the video nasties. That's not meant as a knock to those films, many of which I truly love, but a lot of them were made for purely shock value and to make a quick buck. There's a story to Cannibal Apocalypse, and it's a damn good story worth watching and worth talking about - especially today with our country involved in wars and rumors of war, with our streets, and hospitals overcrowded with wounded vets. Today, when soldiers are dying faster by their own hands than the hands of their enemies, and there's no answer for PTSD in sight.

Cannibal Apocalypse will never have the impact of films like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, or Born on the Fourth of July, but for a gory horror film, it's pretty damn deep.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments