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RETRO REVIEW: Slugs (1988)

RETRO REVIEW: Slugs (1988)

Enter the nightmare-fueled world of the 1988 Spanish American film Slugs (aka La Muerte Viscosa), directed by Juan Piquer Simón.

Wrong Mike Brady in Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

No. Not THAT Mike Brady.

Slugs is a film about people who are dying mysteriously and gruesomely, and nobody has a clue what the cause is. Only health worker Mike Brady has a possible solution, but his theory of killer slugs is laughed at by the authorities. Only when the body count begins to rise and a slug expert from England begins snooping around, does it begin to look like Mike had the right idea all along!

First things first! I was left calling out ‘Poor Mike’ at my screen as no one wanted to believe him, despite the mountain of evidence.

We are introduced to a simple small town and a series of disastrous deaths – let’s just say in one particular scene the householder is demonstrating an ‘explosive’ personality. We meet our large slimy villains who bite.

Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.It was after the first death I wondered why no one considered throwing salt on that slug bastard and just being done with it?? Yet these SAVAGE beasts (yes I am using savage jokingly, as the slugs are not at all menacing) avoid an easy eradication. An ingested slug provides some tense “will he or won’t he” moments and some hilarious results, including a dissolving face (which authorities claim is some form of food poisoning – Hmmmm guess we better not eat there again??). It is probably one of the highlights of the film in a combination of “WOW” and “EEEWWW” .

There is no shortness of scantily clad people, sexually charged moments, or comedic love scenes, but they are often halted by the slugs. In fact, the whole film is a hilarious romp of insane proportions and has some of the daftest, most dated dialogue.

Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.Don Palmer is Mike’s only hope for spreading the word on this plague of slugs. This is a much better choice than our ‘English expert’.

The acting in this film is just so awful to watch, but the hilarity of the deaths and the storyline itself kept me watching. I won’t bother naming the actors as that really won’t entice you into wanting to watch it, but I will say it is fun enough.

I will also add however one star really did shine. The most talented member of the cast that displayed the most talent was of course …..the slugs!!!! So, well done, our slimy friends the slugs!

This film will ultimately leave you feeling SLUGGISH (sorry I had to get one bad pun in there) but is actually a really fun watch, despite the cheese factor.

A must-see for any fan of horror, at least once.




Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NATURE STRIKES BACK, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

Joe Meredith's Teratomorph - Coming Soon / Fair use doctrine.After watching the short film South Mill District by Joe Meredith, I said to myself, “Holy shit! That was awesome and why aren’t more people talking about this guy?” If I was capable of and ever wanted to make a film, this is what I would aspire to make. Luckily for me, Joe is a super nice guy and was willing to chat with me about the making of his first film and his upcoming sequel Teratomorph.

House of Tortured Souls: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me and discuss your films. Where did you get the idea for South Mill District? It’s a huge and detailed plot. Was it something you had been formulating for years?
Joe Meredith: It’s actually a continuation of a narrative world I developed as a kid and into my teen years. All of the things like the “alien war” that the character Drennan talks about in the movie actually exist in a shoebox I have under my bed that has comics and sketches and short stories and things I did over a period of years. Recently, I noticed that elements from those stories have been creeping back into my drawings and newer writings, so when I got the nerve up to make a movie, I decided to make it a return to that old saga, which is why the movie is probably really confusing to a lot of people because it has this detailed backstory that nobody really knows but me.

HoTS: I loved the use of lighting in the film and the camera work was so crisp. Did you go to film school?
JM: I never went to film school. I used to make short movies with friends growing up. As a kid, I always had a camera, and no matter how ridiculous the movie ideas were, I was always serious about it. The lighting in South Mill District was all about separating it from a realistic look and making it more like a comic book or cartoon, where the colors in the lighting provided the atmosphere.

HoTS: The FX and gore were also really fun. I especially liked the scene where Cidney Meredith pukes up her intestines. Was it weird “killing” your wife on camera even though you knew it was fake?
JM: I owe it to her for encouraging me to step back into filmmaking after many years of not wanting to do it. She was a trooper about some of the gross things she had to endure, and if I had a director’s cut released, you would see that she went even more savage than throwing up intestines. It was all a process of getting the scene right, so I never felt a moral dilemma from her death sequence. There were probably some moments of anxiety for her, but with me, she was always safe doing whatever scene needed to be done. The more realistic gore FX like the intestines and the heads that the spiders crawl on were all created by James Bell, whose own movies were a huge influence for me to make movies again.

HoTS: The creatures and spiders were the best part of this film by far. Did you make them all yourself? I also loved the stop-motion technique used but have heard it’s a long and slow process. How did you find it?
JM: I made all of the stop-motion puppets myself, and then James Bell created the human gore FX. The alien creature suit used at the end of the movie was made by Toby Johansen. As a kid, I did stop motion videos with action figures. It was much easier to do it with a video camera than the way I did with South Mill District, which was with photographs. The stop-motion could’ve been better, and technically, I didn’t do it the “right” way, but I think it worked for what was needed. The spiders were definitely supposed to be a focal point for South Mill District, and then its sequel is more about the mutations caused by the infectious venom of the spiders.

HoTS: You’re a fantastic artist, and fans of Phil Stevens will recognize your work on the covers of his films. Do you sell your work or have any plans to in the future?
JM: Thank you. I knew Phil as an artist-illustrator himself before I even knew he was a filmmaker, and we started out gushing over each other’s illustrations, so when he wanted me to do art for his movies, I was really enthusiastic to do it. I don’t sell art usually, but I will at some point soon.

HoTS: I actually learned about South Mill District after seeing posts about its sequel Teratomorph. There has been a lot of hype in the Indie community about it. What can you tell us about it?
JM: Teratomorph is a sequel, but it can also stand alone. It takes place in a more rural area outside of the South Mill District and shows an evolution of the alien virus caused by the spiders. It stars my 8-year-old son Elijah, who plays as a vagrant kid who is infected by the virus, and its effects are unique in comparison to what was seen in South Mill District. It has some creatures that I hope are going to be really cool for people who are fans of creature movies.

HoTS: what’s the hardest part of being an Indie film director for you? Why did you choose to go into such a difficult field?
JM: Mostly just working from nothing is the hardest part, but then again that’s not so fair to say because I have friends and talented people who are all willing to contribute to my projects in any way they can. And that’s something I’m very grateful for. I love creating things. I don’t think I’ve chosen filmmaking as the ultimate means of making things. It’s just a cool outlet I have to work with.

HoTS: Do you have any plans in the future to make feature-length films? Or will you continue to make more shorts?
JM: Yeah, I think I’ll do a feature at some point, especially if I have an idea that I can’t resist turning in to a feature film. And I know I’ll also continue short films as long as I think maybe it’s something other people haven’t seen before.

Art by Joe Meredith / Image: Joe MeredithHoTS: You have such a unique style. What films and directors have inspired you?
JM: I’d have to say among my picks for greatest movies of all time are John Carpenter’s The Thing and James Cameron’s Aliens. Cronenberg’s The Fly is also up there in the greats for me. Video games like Resident Evil also fuel ideas for me. James Bell is an outstanding filmmaker in the Indie realm, and his movies are something I hold in high esteem because the vision he presents is something truly individual. And any other movies that explore surreal ideas are a plus for me. That’s actually a hard question because I could go on and on about all the movies and directors that have blown my mind.

HoTS: Where can people buy your films and when can we expect to see Teratomorph?
JM: Teratomorph will be done soon. I think it could be available by the year’s end if not early in 2019. South Mill District is gonna be available again soon, and Teratomorph will also be available in the same place which is at http://joemeredithart.storenvy.com.

HoTS: Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview! I really enjoyed your answers and look forward to what I expect will be great things from you.

Posted by Candace Stone in INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Terrifier (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Terrifier (2017)

Terrifier has hit Redbox recently and is now streaming — and trending — on Netflix, and wow what waves it is making! Terrifier is an 80s style horror film directed by Damien Leone, who brought us such title as All Hallows Eve (2013), Frankenstein vs. The Mummy (2015), and The 9th Circle (2008). The Indie horror film has a small cast that is lead by a brilliant performance from newcomer David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown, a rather sadistic homicidal clown.

The basis of the story is that two young ladies (Jenna Kanell and Catherine Corcoran) who are out partying on Halloween night get stranded in an old building due to a flat tire. One girl calls her older sister (Samantha Scaffidi) to come to the rescue and pick them up. Waiting for them inside is Art the Clown, who they had a small run in with at a local pizza joint earlier.

To say Terrifier is an amazing film would be inaccurate, but it is definitely a fun horror film. At times it has almost a slow burn feel, but it’s not a boring film by any means. There is a great deal of blood and gore in the film and a few scenes which I was rather surprised by. Sadly in the mix of the kill scenes, some were beyond expected and fairly gruesome, while others made you wonder just what kind of film you’re in for because of the cheese factor with certain special FX. The cheese factor, however, adds to its 80s feel and is actually charming.

The film does such a good job of creating the feel of an 80s slasher film that if the film had been released at that time, Art the Clown would easily be an iconic horror character today. I really don’t know if it’s the character or the performance because Thornton really brings Art the Clown to life!

In light of the recent trend of clown-based films, from Stephen King’s IT and a new Pennywise to Billy Pons’ Circus of the Dead (awesome fucking film, by the way), Art the Clown finds a way to make your skin crawl like no other. From a look that he gives to the way a clown would walk, he’s comical in his own sense while downright brutal as hell!

Terrifier, overall, is a fun bloodbath of an Indie horror with a great new killer character. So get out and rent, steam, whatever you gotta do, but check out Terrifier. Support the Indie horror scene, and be on the lookout for David Howard Thornton on the convention circuit.

Keep it Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Nun (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Nun (2018)

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to get out and visit my local AMC theater and treated myself to see the latest installment in The Conjuring Universe, The Nun. Directed by Corin Hardy, The Nun is a spin-off of The Conjuring 2 (2016). I will start off by saying that I have pretty high expectations of horror films now these days, and this installment to the Conjuring Universe was definitely not a letdown. It did start off quite slow but kept the suspense with wondering the whole time when you will see “the shadowy figure” aka The Nun with our leading lady (Bonnie Aarons).

The Nun takes place in Romania, in the year 1952. Two nuns who live at the monastery are attacked by a presence that is unseen in the beginning. The surviving nun, known as Sister Victoria, flees the attacker by jumping out of a window. Her body is discovered the following morning by a man called Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), who lives in the village nearby.

The news of Sister Victoria committing the ultimate sin — suicide — makes its way to the Vatican and piques the interest of Father Burke (Demiàn Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, American Horror Story seasons 1, 3, 6 & 8). The two then go to the monastery with the help of Frenchie to understand and investigate the history that is plaguing the village. Once they get settled in, dark things begin to happen, and they start to piece together Sister Irene’s visions along with Father Burke’s experience in dark forces and exorcisms along with the dark history in the monastery.

The ending of The Nun was definitely an “A-ha!” moment, and you definitely need to rewatch The Conjuring 2 as there are two scenes that feature the Warrens and tie up the whole film. I did jump at a few scenes which is definitely what I look for a horror movie to do for me. The fear and suspense were palpable, and hearing the audience’s nervous laughs and screams enhanced it. My only complaint would be how slow it started out, but it definitely redeemed itself once Sister Irene and Father Burke were introduced. I was very impressed with Bonnie Aarons’ portrayal of the nun and with this installment of the series and it definitely redeemed itself from Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation.

Overall Grade: B

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

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

I had the opportunity to watch Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and jumped at it. Those puppets hold a special place in my heart, much like the Cenobites do, and thus I will always watch the next installment in the franchise. After 2017’s dismal Puppet Master: Axis Termination, I didn’t hold much hope for the latest entry – especially after I saw the redesign of Blade and heard that Six Shooter would be entirely absent. But then I learned that Fangoria, Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, and Udo Kier were involved, and my interest was once again piqued. Could this be a return to the kind of Puppet Master awesomeness that was the best parts of the previous entries?

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon

If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline of the Puppet Master movies, that will not be a problem. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a complete reboot of the series set in an alternate universe. Fans of the franchise need not fret either as the reboot retains several of our favorite puppets – Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch (aka Kaiser) – while introducing some interesting new ones.

Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, and Thomas Lennon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and Edgar (Thomas Lennon)

The movie begins with a brief glimpse 30 years into the past when an evil Toulon (Udo Kier from Mark of the Devil) was found and killed by local police. From there it moves to the present and primarily follows Edgar (Thomas Lennon of Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced and struggling comic book artist who becomes mixed up in Toulon’s return on the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders. Edgar, having moved into his parents’ house, also works as a comic store clerk and decides to auction off his dead brother’s Blade puppet at a Toulon convention. He invites Ashley (Jenny Pellicer of The Bridge TV series) along, his boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites himself along, and the trio set out for what they hope will be a fun and somewhat profitable weekend.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich uses the convention to reveal Toulon’s past in this universe, primarily via the tour of Toulon Mansion as led by one of the officers from the original case 30 years earlier, retired officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton), who outlines the details of the events surrounding the Toulon Massacre. Here’s what we learn of Toulon’s past on the tour: He was born in France in 1907 and eventually entered the family business of manufacturing, selling, and performing with puppets. At this point, Doreski points out that three of the museum’s puppets are missing – Kaiser aka Torch, Pinhead, and a new puppet called Amphibian. In this universe, Toulon fled to Germany after arrests in Paris, Norway, and Luxemborg and likewise fled to the US after the Third Reich surrendered. Toulon’s Nazi roots are underscored by his choice of victims as well as the paraphernalia and the remains of his library, a library that includes three books from Adolf Eichmann, author of the Reich’s “Final Solution”. After a pass through Toulon’s workshop, the tour concludes with an exterior shot of Toulon’s tomb, complete with spikes on top that do not go with the rest of the architecture.

Toulon's tomb in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Andre Toulon’s tomb

And that’s the basic set up for the puppet mayhem.

Nelson Franklin and Charlyne Yi in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and Nerissa (Charlyne Yi )

Once the puppets are in town, they’re let loose on everyone. Primarily targeting people the Nazis did, the puppets do what they do best. I’ll not go into details about the kills, but I will say that they are a lot of fun. There are some creative kills with both the old puppets and the new additions, and the effects are a delight. Fear not, gorehounds, you will be satisfied. While I miss the older puppets that have been omitted, I’m pleased with the results of the new ones as well as the differences in how the traditional puppets are portrayed – something I honestly did not think I would like.

Alex Beh and Michael Pare in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Hotel manager Howie (Alex Beh) and Det. Brown (Michael Paré)

The performances were top notch, and Udo Kier’s Toulon oozed skeeze and evil. Lennon, Pellicer, and Franklin are all excellent in their roles. Lennon’s performance is understated, but that works well for this story. Pellicer as the tough but sexy girl next door is both believable and likable, making the blossoming romance subplot less annoying than they usually are. Franklin holds his own with both and, to both Franklin’s and the movie’s credit, he’s not a caricature. Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here ) is, as always, awesome and crushes every scene. Michael Paré (Village of the Damned (1995)) plays Detective Brown, the unlucky officer investigating the disappearance of multiple puppets brought to town for auction, and nails the role. In a delightful twist to the usual fare, when faced with puppets acting on their own, Paré’s detective goes with it. Rounding out the main cast are Alex Beh (Sugar) as hotel manager Howie, Charlyne Yi (House – TV series) as comic fan and waitress Nerissa, and Skeeta Jenkins (Summer of ’67) as bartender Cuddly Bear. All work well with this script and as an ensemble.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was filmed at the same time as Puppet Master: Axis Termination, but the two could not be further apart in tone and execution. While Puppet Master: Axis Termination follows Toulon’s story as an opponent of the Nazis, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich places Toulon in the Third Reich for this alternate universe. Written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a worthy entry in the franchise. Indeed, given the last few movies in the original universe, this was a wise move and offers an entirely new storyline to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler

8/10 claw scratches for this alternate universe Puppet Master reboot

BONUS: Puppet Gallery

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

So I was asked to review a film called Leaf Blower Massacre 2. Being a fan of all types of horror, I eagerly accepted. I received two DVDs and have yet to watch the second film, Dirty Sanchez, but the title intrigues me. On the other hand, I was intrigued by Leaf Blower Massacre 2, and my expectations were not fulfilled.

Let me say to start that I expected the movie could execute the title premise in a couple of ways and make it work. It could be a great cheese horror film based on the leaf blower weapon premise alone. While it touched on comedic kills a couple of times, there was something lacking to tip the kills completely into the comedic or horrific arenas. I’m not entirely certain the director was aiming for one or the other but rather whatever works. Unfortunately, having worked on and literally written manuals on several breathing air compressors, I couldn’t help but think about the air pressure level of a leaf blower during a critical scene.

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Leaf Blower Massacre 2, written by Michael Wade Johnson and director Anthony Cooney, follows two parallel stories involving the deaths of coeds; the first story revolves around two detectives (Michael Schmid and Tommy Nowicki) who are investigating the murders, and the second story involves a college professor (Shavar D. Clark) who had taught all of the victims. As the stories merge, the reveal is not as surprising as it could be.

The Pros:

  • Works as a standalone film (The movie itself was a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen, but that wasn’t much of a detriment to the enjoyment.)
  • Practical effects
  • Interesting choice of weapon
  • Cinematography
  • Ari Lehman as Phil the Security Guard

The Cons:

  • Acting seemed forced, alternately flat and exaggerated
  • Bad screen presence/chemistry between the leads
  • Audio was muffled at times and vaguely echoed at others

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Overall, Leaf Blower Massacre 2 comes off as a decent student film, and the actors will improve with experience. The biggest problem that I saw was that it took a serious approach with a weapon begs to be satirized. Taking a more comedic approach would have helped to smooth over some of the awkwardness and enhance rather than detract from the film.

Final Score: 5 of 10 claw scratches

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

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

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

Puppet Master: The Littlest ReichPuppet Master: The Littlest Reich

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jai Alexis in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, NEW RELEASES, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, THRILLER, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Party Night (2017)

HoTS Review: Party Night (2017)

Party Night / Troy EscamillaThis week I sat down to watch Party Night, the debut film of filmmaker Troy Escamilla. Party Night tells the tale of a group of six high school students on prom night. The film runs just over an hour, so it is a feature but not a long one. Let’s jump into this one with a brief description.

As mentioned six high school students decide to have their own post-prom party, rather than attend the school’s. There have been reports of five girls that have gone missing, but this does not prevent the teens from going off to do their own thing. They head to a house owned by the uncle of Nelson, one of the six. While changing into more comfortable clothing, Amy sees someone looking in the window. Molly checks but sees nothing. The kids gather back in the living room and discuss watching one of the 80s slashers Nelson’s uncle has. Molly and Travis step outside and after an argument, Molly goes off by herself. One by one the killer picks off these unsuspecting teens until there is one final battle. The question is who survives and how do they escape, if at all?

Party Night / Troy EscamillaThat is the very brief plot with no spoilers. Let’s talk now about the film itself. First, let me begin with my critiques of the film. I will qualify this by saying that we are dealing with a low budget debut film. The camera work in the very beginning was slightly shaky. That does stop early in the film, however. The biggest nitpick for me was the killer and motivation for his/her deeds was not clearly identified. You will have to pay very close attention to get it.

Party Night / Troy EscamillaHaving said that, let me highlight some things that worked. This film had a very small cast, so there are not a lot of background people you have to pay attention to. Every character has a purpose. This also is a tribute to the lost art of the “80s slasher”. There are no CG effects, the blood looks like corn syrup, the dialogue has its cheesy moments and people die horrific deaths. That is a simple formula that has worked for over 40 years and will always have my attention. There are several 80s movie references. One character says, “this isn’t Camp Crystal Lake” and Slaughter High is mentioned. One character, Andrew, suggests they play “Strip Monopoly”. That works for me in a tribute film.

Troy Escamilla debuted this film last year, and it hits DVD/VOD platforms September 11, 2018. This movie won’t be a blockbuster, nor is it intended to be one. Party Night a fun slasher film that will make you realize these are dumb (but not stupid) teenagers. They will be in compromising situations. When you see Andrew and Olivia have sex, you try to figure out how they will die. That is not a spoiler, by the way. Having sex in a slasher, it becomes not an if, but when you get killed moment. Overall, this movie works for the audience intended. The film creates nostalgia. As mentioned, this film is the debut film for Escamilla. He follows this with Stirring. Party Night is fun and despite its small flaws, does make an entertaining movie to watch.

Overall Grade: B

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: 964 Pinocchio (1991)

MOVIE REVIEW: 964 Pinocchio (1991)

964 Pinocchio (1991) is a Japanese cyberpunk film by Shozin Fukui. The experience is somewhat indescribable and it’s one of those films you just have to “go with” and not overthink.

The first 30 seconds or so of the film really reach out and grab you because a lot is happening… a three-way in a hospital to be precise. The male participant – Pinocchio is a memory-wiped sex slave that has been mentally and physically altered. He is thrown out of the facility after he fails to hold a lasting erection.

As he’s wandering aimlessly through town, he stumbles across Himiko, a homeless street artist. He indicates to her that he’s hungry (he can’t talk at this point), and she takes him under her wing. What we don’t know at this point is that Himiko has also been mind-wiped and altered.

The two begin to undergo a simultaneous transition. Pinocchio appears to be melting and convulsing. Himiko flees and vomits up everything she’s ever eaten. This is probably the longest puke scene in a movie I’ve ever watched. More just keeps coming up in large piles that are the consistency of wet house insulation. She lays on top of it, runs her fingers through it, and then rolls in it and eats it. When Himiko returns, Pinocchio is lying in the center of a circle of what I can only presume is his guts.

Himiko turns on Pinocchio and chains him up. She informs the sex company of his whereabouts. He breaks free and drags the cinder block he’s chained to through town until he reaches the lab. He kills his tormentors, and both he and Himiko evolve into weird, big, rubber-headed creatures. His last line is that everything all makes sense now. Maybe to him it does, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered to the audience.

I liked this movie a lot despite its flaws and its tendency to draw certain scenes out to the point of being annoying. It also doesn’t make a ton of sense, not just because it’s weird but because it establishes certainties and then goes against them without explanation or reason.

I give it 3/5 shocks. You can order a copy cheap from Unearthed or watch it free on Youtube.

Posted by Candace Stone in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

So this week I watched a different kind of film called Livescream. Imagine if you will, a movie that has 1 speaking actor and looks more like a live stream video than a movie. It may not sound exciting. Enter the exception to the rule, with Michelle Iannantuono’s 1-hour film, Livescream.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

Livescream opens with Scott, played by Gunner Willis. Scott is a popular online gamer, who plays new games on his live stream while his followers watch. He has, at the beginning of the film, 225 users online who comment in the chat box while he answers. Scott announces his upcoming gaming plans and introduces a new game suggested to him called Livescream. It is a horror game that supposedly interacts with his audience. Scott chooses the hardest level of the game called “Nightmare” and is warned he only has 5 lives. The game also refers to him by his name and Scott finds this weird.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

The game begins and looks like most first-person games. I got an old school vibe of Doom (the game, not the movie), while watching. Scott encounters a monster who kills his player for the first time. This is where the movie begins to twist. One of Scott’s viewers tells the room he hears the same monster in his house and then exits the chat room. Many of the viewers feel this is a prank, and Scott continues but is concerned.

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

The next round has a feature where if Scott hits a button, he can see nine of his followers. Scott faces a clown and his character dies. The nine “players” appear again, and one is killed in front of the group.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

This has now taken a serious turn and Scott wants to quit. He receives a warning that quitting will make all of his viewers and him die in real life. All but 11 viewers exit the chat/stream. The game tells Scott to choose two people and let the rest leave. JumpingWolf (his moderator) and JohhnyDope (a viewer who logs on to troll everyone) volunteer.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

Everyone else leaves the chat. As expected, Scott dies 2 times in the game, which leads his followers to do so in real life. Scott does, in fact, beat the game, but must answer the fateful question, “Would you kill someone else to save your own life?” We get that question answered as the movie ends.

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

There is the plot. Here are my thoughts. This movie is original and takes a huge risk, but has the potential for high reward. We have 1 person speaking for an hour, and we see one kill. This type of movie should not work according to every movie we have ever seen. However, it not only works, but it makes you watch in a different way. You do not feel like you are watching a movie. You feel like you are one of the viewers. This will make you care about Scott.

My only criticism of Livescream is I would have liked to see the viewers get killed to make it more emotional for Scott. Trust me, he does get emotional in this, but to give it a visual of losing his viewers would put it over the top. Do not let that fool you though. This still has a lot of things that may make you jump and does provide some scare because it feels like you are there.

Overall Grade: Solid A.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

Slender Man - Real Story / Image: Chicago TribuneI had the pleasure of seeing Slender Man over the weekend, and I was very impressed with the outcome of the movie. As a horror movie lover, I have very high standards for how the movie should turn out. Slender Man, in this case, intrigues me. For those who may not be familiar, Slender Man (also known as a creepypasta Internet meme) is a tall, very unnaturally thin man with a featureless face who wears a black suit. He is known for stalking, traumatizing, and abducting children. There was even a panic in Wisconsin back in 2014 when two 12-year-old girls took their best friend into the woods and nearly stabbed her to death in order to summon Slender Man. Out of respect for the families, some theaters in nearby counties are not showing this movie.

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

Slender Man (2018) / Image: IMDbThe start of Slender Man was pretty fast-paced, one which I enjoyed instead of waiting the 1-1/2 hours for the story to pick up. It shows the chemistry between four best friends Wren (Joey King), Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair), and Katie (Annalise Basso). One night, the girls went to hang out at Katie’s house. They had overheard the boys in school talking about summoning up Slender Man , so they searched online and found the video and various images — including Slender Man (Javier Botet) himself. They eventually laugh it off even though he was lingering on their minds. A week after they summoned Slender Man, Katie goes missing on a class field trip. Eventually, her three friends realize that she was participating in online occult practices hoping to be taken away by Slender Man in order to escape her reality of living with an alcoholic father.

Slender Man (2018) / Image: IMDbThe girls do some investigating and find out that they can get Katie back in exchange for something that means the most to them. They decide to venture out into the woods hoping to see Slender Man, but cannot make eye contact at the same time. Eventually, each girl makes contact with him while Wren becomes obsessed with research in order to put an end to this once and for all. The result is that the only way to end this once and for all is to surrender to Slender Man, which ends up being the only choice they have in order to save Hallie’s younger sister Lizzie (Taylor Richardson) who summoned Slender Man. In the end, the camera zoomed in to a picture of the four girls with Lizzie narrating about her sister’s experience, thus showing how the myth of Slender Man creates a vicious circle among teenagers who summon him up out of curiosity.

All in all, the acting was a little unbearable but I do give credit to director Sylvain White for staying on track with the storyline and to Javier Botet who made the movie as the titular Slender Man. The beginning started off strong and the graphics alone were believable and well done. Midway it felt like the movie should have ended a few times, and it dragged a little until the end. Overall, I grade Slender Man a C.

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre – Interview with Vanessa Rose Parker, 3 of 3

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

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

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

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

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

HoTS: What are you working on currently?
VRP: Currently, we are focused on getting this movie out into the world! But then after a little Caribbean vacation, we are going to regroup and see what we’d like to tackle next.
So there you have it, Souls. The final 4/20 MASSACRE exclusive. I’d like to thank Vanessa Rose Parker for her time. Don’t forget to check out my review as well as my interview with 4/20 MASSACRE writer/director Dylan Reynolds.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR COMEDIES, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: Interview with 4/20 Massacre Writer/Director Dylan Reynolds, 2 of 3

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

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

James Gregory in 4/20 MASSACRE (2018)

HoTS: How hands-on are you as a director, for example do you give them much guidance or do you allow them to find the character themselves?
DR: For this film- after we secured our cast I met with each of the actor’s individually to discuss the character… a general discussion of what I was thinking- what ideas or questions they had etc. Then like I said- I just tried to allow them the freedom to be creative and bring the character to life.
HoTS: What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of this production?
DR: It was a low budget film shot in 10 days out in the middle of nowhere… so about all the stress, you can imagine with no budget — no time — and the all-around lack of resources would create. But those negatives were countered with a lot of positive… namely it was a bunch of adults who went camping and “played make-believe” during the day and drank and shared some laughs at night.
HoTS: The stuntman coordinator James Gregory actually taught the actors to do their own stunts is that correct?
DR: Yeah, and James also played the killer (The Shape) and designed the costume. We did a “stunt rehearsal day” where we brought in all the actors to go over their individual “falls” and/or “taking punches” and what the game plan was for the scenes involving their “stunts”. Jamie Bernadette had the most work because she had some extended fight sequences during the film.
HoTS: Was it fun directing a stunt-heavy feature such as this?
DR: For sure- there’s a lot to plan out and it’s ridiculous how much coverage you end up having to get just to cut an “action” scene together. And truth be told we weren’t doing anything super complicated in 4/20 MASSACRE — and even then it got pretty involved. Therefore the experience did give me a stronger appreciation of directors who can direct action well… it’s probably the most “director reliant” form of filmmaking.
HoTS: What would you say was the weirdest or most surreal moment during this shoot?
DR: Hmmm… I can’t think of any one “surreal moment” really. I guess there were times after a long day of shooting when I was walking around decompressing and/or thinking about the next day’s schedule and I would have a “moment of clarity” and realize how awesome the whole experience was. We were all out here making a movie, and I was fulfilling my dream. I can’t think of anything much cooler than that.
HoTS: Any scenes that didn’t make the final cut? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
DR: I don’t think any full scenes got axed actually. For the most part. the cuts came “within the scenes”… usually because I wrote too much dialogue that needed to be trimmed back or “tightened”.
HoTS: Do you plan on hitting any of the conventions this year and if so feel free to plug them?
DR: I don’t have any plans for a “horror convention tour”! That may change… I was thinking of going to Monsterpalooza in April and try to hand out some postcards… maybe bring some 4/20 MASSACRE DVDs along with me.
HoTS: Can you at all hint or talk about a follow up to 4/20? Also, what are you working on at the moment?
DR: I have ideas for a 4/20 MASSACRE Part 2. I have a general plan to do a different slasher sub-genre with each installment. Part 1 was a “backwoods slasher”, and with Part 2, I wanted to make a Gialloesque “slasher mystery”. Hopefully, this film will do okay and I can make some money back and “flip it” to make another one… we’ll see.
And that’s the word on 4/20 MASSACRE from writer/director Dylan Reynolds. Don’t forget to check out my review, and stay tuned for the final part of my 4/20 MASSACRE article triolgy.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Love me Deadly (1973)

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

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

Love Me Deadly (1972) / Fair use doctrine.

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

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

Love Me Deadly (1972) / Fair use doctrine.

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

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

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
WiHM: Lori Lethin

WiHM: Lori Lethin

Lori Lethin in Bloody Birthday (1981)Lori Lethin, I suspect, is not a name known to a lot of horror fans; however, I think it’s high time we celebrate her brief but interesting career. Like most actors, Lori got her start doing guest spots and in a short amount of time was on everything from Charlie’s Angels and The Dukes of Hazard as well as the infamous After School Special turned short film The Wave, based on a horrifying real-life experiment in an American High School. It was in The Wave were she began to flex her dramatic muscles, but it would be Bloody Birthday released at the height of the slasher craze which would provide her most memorable role. It’s clear from the start that Lethin exudes a natural charm and embodied the perfect girl next door, and the perfect final girl. It was this sweet, innocent demeanor that played well against the three murderous kids in Bloody Birthday and a deformed man in The Prey.

Lori Lethin in The Prey (1984)But her range wasn’t limited to just episodic television or horror and she turned in a great performance in the now cult classic The Day After, a highly unnerving depiction of nuclear fallout at the height of the Cold War. She continued to do guest spots throughout the 80s, and she once again went back to her queen scream roots in the meta-horror film Return to Horror High (1987), a film most notable for starring a relatively unknown George Clooney. Again Lethin stretches her talents by not only playing multiple characters in the film within a film by playing against heavyweights like Alex Rocco. She would only do one other film and a few more guest spots before retiring from acting.

Lori Lethin in The Day After (1983)After bowing out of the limelight, she worked hard to earn her degree in clinical psychology and works with recovering addicts. Though her filmography isn’t huge, the films she did appear in are better because of her and you can’t deny she had a way of lighting up a screen. So let’s raise a toast to this unsung scream queen and truly Lori Lethin can have her cake and this time eat it too!
Lori Lethin in Bloody Birthday (1981)

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE Pre-Release Review: Death House (2018)

EXCLUSIVE Pre-Release Review: Death House (2018)

Who prays for Satan, the original sinner?

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

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

Bill Moseley and Michael Berryman in Death House (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Todd in Death House (2018)

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

Overall Grade on Death House:

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

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

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EXCLUSIVE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) [SPOILERS]

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

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

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

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
Will You Venture Into The Woods Once You See The RItual (2017)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Screw Calgon…Crowley Take Me Away

Screw Calgon…Crowley Take Me Away

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

Victor Crowley (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Aspects (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

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

Happy Nightmares!
ZombieGurl

Posted by ZombieGurl in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
The Lullaby (2018)

The Lullaby (2018)

Hey guys, Horrormadam here to bring you a new film. The amazing people at Uncork’d Entertainment, the people who brought us Camera Obscura, Almost Dead, and Rebound were kind enough to send me a screener on their new film The Lullaby IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND MARCH 2.

The film is directed by Darrell Roodt (Dracula 3000, and Dangerous Ground), and written by Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo (Trouvoete), and stars Brandon Auret (Elysium, District 9, Blood Drive), Reine Swart (Z Nation, Dominion), Thandi Buren (Racing Stripes, Dead Easy), Deanre Reiners (The Tate Experiment), and Dorothy Ann Gould (Friend Request).

BURBANK, CA : You’ll wish you never brought your baby home.

The writer ,Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo, gives us a description:

Returning to her hometown, Eden Rock, and overwhelmed by the birth of her firstborn, Chloe van Heerden (19) tries to come to terms with motherhood. Despite the support from her loving mother, Ruby (35), Chloe struggles with the demand of being a new mom. The incessant crying of her baby, the growing sense of guilt and paranoia sends Chloe into a dark depression. With a heightened urge to protect her son, Chloe sees danger in every situation. Distraught she pays a visit to family psychologist Dr. Timothy Reed (40s) who diagnoses her intrusive thoughts and feelings of anxiousness to a mild case of baby blues. Yet the thoughts grow worse and more violent. Chloe starts to hear voices and humming of a childhood lullaby and sees flashes of a strange entity around her child. Convinced that the entity is real, Chloe does everything in her power to protect her son. Her decline reaches fever pitch, and everybody seems to be moving against her. Desperate, Chloe finds solace in the arms of her childhood friend, Emile Hess (20s). The world around Chloe implodes and it becomes clear that she and her child are in imminent danger. But from what? Is Chloe haunted by evil or is it just the baby blues?

The film looks very creepy and I am really looking forward to it and I hope you will enjoy it also!

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, 0 comments