Horror

MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter All Boys Wish For But Shouldn’t

Hello, I am the Horror Madam, and I am honored to be joining all of the amazing writers at House of Tortured Souls!
I thought it would be nice to start out here with a lighter horror film to get my feet wet, so I’m going to talk about a new dark comedy horror film called The Babysitter. It is a Netflix original film released this past October 2017, and it is only available on Netflix at this time.
Emily Alyn Lind and Judah Lewis in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.When The Babysitter starts out, it is reminiscent of a John Hughes movie: a nerdy young boy in glasses with a cute girl just waiting for the bus in front of their nice school. You realize quickly that this is not a normal boy going through puberty while pining for the girl next door, and when the girl’s father pulls up in his bitchin’ mid-life crisis hot rod and gives our young protagonist grief, you start to get curious. But it’s certainly not horrific. Yet.
Next, we see the boy, Cole, played by Judah Lewis (who, according to IMDb was a finalist to play Spider-Man but lost out to Tom Holland), riding home on his bike. Like you would see in any coming of age tale, Cole is harassed by some neighborhood bullies. Unlike other movies of that ilk, Cole is saved by his extremely beautiful babysitter, Bee, played by Austrailian actress Samara Weaving (who appeared in Mayhem and the amazing Ash vs The Evil Dead). You may be asking yourself, where have I heard that last name? Samara is the niece of the very talented Hugo Weaving from such great films as The Matrix and V for Vendetta. Good genes in that family.
Bee shows up with the sun shining on her making her look like a guardian angel sent from above and the song “Boys Wanna Be Her” by Peaches playing in the background, setting the stage for her character’s persona. But what you see is what she wants you to see, hiding her true intentions. More on that in a moment because The Babysitter uses enough of its own foreshadowing.
Samara Weaving in The Babysitter (2017) (bikini) crop / Fair use doctrine.Now we start to see the relationship between Bee and Cole which includes a great dance scene and a short slow motion presentation of their time together including a great homage To Fast Times At Ridgemont High with Bee coming out of the pool in the same bikini that Phoebe Cates wore in said film. We also see a game that Cole made up about what would your Intergalactic Dream Team be when facing The Big Bad. Bee’s answer is great and on point showing further that she is a young boy’s wet dream.
Cole wants to see what happens when he goes to sleep and Bee’s boyfriend comes over, so he pretends to sleep and slips down to see what is going on. There is a group of people with Bee, and they are mixing spin the bottle with a truth or dare game. This involves some very hot girl-on-girl kissing and movie quotes. Notably, one particular line involving Fredo from The Godfather. But I digress. The boyfriend in question is a teenage nerd who is very uncomfortable at the party. He is afraid to kiss Bee, but when she finally calms him down and kisses him it looks like the young man has entered bliss but that is when the madness ensues.Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.
From that moment on, we see so many fun and extremely bloody deaths. And I am not kidding about the amount of blood, at one point I remember thinking that it reminded me of old Monty Python skits where copious amounts of blood just spurt and spurt and spurt again.
Warning: Spoilers
The Babysitter was written by Brian Duffield, who also penned Insurgent and Jane Got a Gun, and Directed by McG (also from Michigan), who is best known for one of the longest-running shows on TV, Supernatural. The parents are played by Leslie Bibb from Talladega Nights and Ken Marino from We Are the Millers and Role Models, who provide even more comic relief.
I really enjoyed this movie for its clever wit, great lines, monstrously bloody scenes, and a killer soundtrack, especially a climax scene with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I hope I gave you enough insight without spoiling too much, I hate when reviewers do that. So with that, I leave you with the tagline “That dream girls can be a nightmare”. Or maybe they are just the Big Bad.
Posted by Horrormadam in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MAKE UP AND EFFECTS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS OF GENRE AND TWISTS THEREIN, STAFF PICKS, TELEVISION REVIEWS, 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 Categories, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Tethered (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Tethered (2017) at Shriekfest

Tethered (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Daniel Robinette; Writers: Daniel Robinette, Jeff Cox, Aaron Sorgius, Kayla Stuhr, Jeremy Tassone; Stars: Jared Cook, Grace Mumm, Kayla Stuhr; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 12 min; Genre: Short, Drama, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again, your fiendish reporter here giving you the low down on the films from Shriekfest. This time we are looking at a short by Daniel Robinette entitled Tethered. A blind boy named Solomon (Jared Cook) is left by his mother in a harsh land. He is tethered to a rope and left a recording by mother explaining the rules on how to survive, the most important being to never ever go beyond the rope. Daniel Robinette turns out a wonderfully bleak yet beautiful horror short that takes a simple premise and milks it for everything its got and then some. He builds a world that is steeped in reality yet has an otherworldly feeling and features a finale that is oh so effective. Cinematographer and co-writer Aaron Sorgius paints an eerie and gorgeous picture with his camera and the location and sweeping camera shots really give this short a more epic and wider scope. Jared Cook does an incredible job and, with little to no dialogue, gives a stellar, almost silent star-like performance. Equally great is Kayla Stuhr in a short but unnerving role. I was really impressed with what Robinette was able to pull off with a paper-thin plot and modest budget. It just goes to prove my point that a scary movie can be made without flashy gimmicks or buckets of blood. And it’s refreshing to see a crop of new horror filmmakers that are focusing on plot and visuals to tell a story instead of falling back on tired clichés. Tethered is a tension-filled harrowing and creepy short and I would love to see this expanded into a full feature film.
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 Categories, 0 comments
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: Walking with Ghosts on the Dark Side of Durango, CO

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: Walking with Ghosts on the Dark Side of Durango, CO

What family vacation would be complete without a local ghost tour to attend? Not ours! While staying up in Purgatory Resort and visiting nearby Durango, Colorado, I researched the ghostly happenings of the area because that’s just how I roll. The amount of paranormal activity in this area is phenomenal; however, there were few true hosts of such a venture in Durango. In fact, there are quite a few experiences mentioned in reviews for places such as the haunted mines up in Silverton, which is a nearby town, or even the Strater Hotel, built in 1887 directly on railroad tracks, in downtown Durango where guests claim to have had more than their fill of ghostly encounters. Wanting to stick to the local Durango area, however, I was a bit disappointed when visiting the good ol’ Diamond Belle Saloon, a ragtime piano bar connected to this infamous Strater Hotel, where I asked the young waitress dressed as a nostalgic saloon girl if it is true that the Strater Hotel is haunted. I was told in no uncertain yet clearly rehearsed terms that, “The only spirits we serve are behind the bar.” Fortunately, I was given the explanation of this standard response plus plenty more when my family went on the Ghost Walk Durango tour led by Mr. Joe Nelson on the tour of all tours!
Just as the website (www.ghostwalkdurango.com) mentions, we began this guided walking tour through 140 years at the Old Durango High School, where we learned that a young man hung himself and continues to haunt the school, moving furniture around and even strategically arranging and stacking large buckets left unattended by custodians for mere minutes. Did I mention that this stacking of buckets had occurred only days before our tour? Many staff continue to hear the sounds of footsteps in this old school only to see no one upon investigation. This tour was already sounding promising.Durango High School, Durango, CO
My ultimate favorite stop of them all was at the original Day family house where all of the children suddenly died from the measles in the summer of 1888. Mrs. Day was so distraught that she hung herself after her children’s passing. Thereafter, her husband went crazy and was eventually admitted to a psychiatric ward. The house stood empty for years and the family who eventually restored it left after a few years. Since then, however, no family is known to have occupied that home for more than a few months. This is because Mrs. Day doesn’t appreciate newcomers to her home. She has been known to yell at children, “Get out of my house!” In the past, her own children often played with the children occupying the house, even getting them into trouble for leaving a mess. Our tour guide, Mr. Joe Nelson, has his own personal experiences with his children being visited as well. It seems Mr. and Mrs. Day’s children prefer to play with older more traditional toys over modern toys and have been known to knock them off the table and stack their favorite Lincoln Logs in their place. By far, the most fascinating stop on this tour, in my opinion.Day Family House, Durango, CO
Another ghastly stop was at Mrs. Amy’s home now known as Hood Mortuary. In 1883, this house was occupied by Mrs. Amy whose three children died from cholera and were then followed by their mother, who is said to have died from a broken heart. The upstairs ballroom was a special place for the family, and Mrs. Amy doesn’t like when furniture is moved around. Owners say any time something is repositioned within the room, crying can be heard as well as a rocking chair moving quickly as though in agitation. Though the actual Hood family no longer runs the mortuary business, the present business owners kept the Hood name and continue to do business right in the middle of the neighborhood. I’m sure it goes without saying what that means. Creepy stop, to say the least.Hood Mortuary
Hood Mortuary, signAnother eerie spot is at a home that was once a courtroom with a jail in the basement. This place is known for having three men running back into their cells before being caught chatting it up while playing a hand at poker on the back porch. Dark shadows and strong pungent smells of cigars are a norm for this location. Contractors are known for having all of their workers suddenly quit with no warning after finding tools inexplicably moved in various locations within the house or even missing entirely. Tile workers are said to have found all of their stacked tiles strategically placed in round patterns on the floor. Needless to say, jobs just never seem to be completed in that home, and owners tend to leave from fear and annoyance before long.Home that was a courtroom with a jail beneath, Durango, CO
Possibly the most intriguing story came from the Rochester Hotel. A naked lady apparently makes appearances here, even having visited a Mr. John Wayne, in and near room 204. You may have heard of him before. (Wink wink). He turned down the lady’s sultry advances and claims that her form, which was just as fleshy as you or I and dressed in lingerie, simply disintegrated into thin air. This is a popular destination spot, especially around Halloween time where guests book this room in advance, hoping to having their own paranormal experience, perhaps of a sensual persuasion.Rochester Hotel, Durango, CO
About that Strater Hotel, we had quite a delicious meal at the Diamond Belle Saloon while sitting on the upstairs balcony listening to the piano player. The gunfight reenactment was also quite entertaining, and Mr. Joe Nelson informed us that despite the many paranormal events experienced by people who visit this venue, upon being employed, the staff is believed to sign a contract specifically stating that no mention of any ghostly occurrences can be discussed with patrons. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it true, but it certainly explains our waitress’ quick response to our inquiry with a gleam in her eye.Diamond Belle Saloon, Exterior
Diamond Belle Saloon, InteriorDespite the modern novelties, herbal venues, outdoor activities, and delicious breweries bustling in Durango, Colorado, a layer of historical nuance and paranormal allure adds an air of mystery that begs to be aroused. Definitely a wonderful vacation destination for the adventurous soul or any soul for that matter.
Posted by Scarlett O in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, Categories, Historic Horror, PARANORMAL HAPPENINGS, 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, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

The Houses October Built and the recent follow up release, The Houses October Built 2, are two of my favorite films! Let’s face it. With the abundance of horror films being made either through Hollywood budgets or Indie fan-funded projects, there’s a shit ton of mediocre to bad horror being produced. Since October is the month for horror and scares and with Halloween just around the corner, the options for viewing are endless. During this season I try to stick with Halloween-themed films.
In 2014, I first viewed The Houses October Built. It instantly became part of my personal top five horror films! And, in keeping in with my Halloween-themed films, it’s about a group of friends who travel from haunt to haunt in search of the extreme. Now, I ask you: what can be more Halloween than haunts?
Then 2017 came, and the crew released the follow-up, The Houses October Built 2. This sequel answered questions that had left audiences pondering in the closing frames of the original, kept the viewer’s Halloween spirit engaged, and ended with an entirely new set of holy-shit-what-the-fuck questions.
After viewing The Houses October Built and launching House of Tortured Souls, I had been trying to get in touch with any or all staff for a written interview. However, once I tracked down the right people through social media, there were always scheduling conflicts. Time went on, and I had resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. Still, I proudly supported the films and helped out the best I could on social media by sharing their posts.
It was this past Thursday, October 19, 2017, at approximately 2:30 pm EST when I figured what the hell and sent an email to them in hopes of setting up an interview sometime within the next few years. With part 2 only having been out for a few weeks, I knew they would be busy, but I also figured why not give it a shot? Within an hour, I got a response asking if I was available that day. Long story short, within two hours, both writers/directors/stars of both The Houses October Built parts 1 and 2, Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, were staring me in the face live through a House of Tortured Souls LIVE video podcast.
We had a great chat, and it was a thrill to have met them and an honor to have them on the show. The guys discuss the origins of the film, working together, haunts, and even dabble in what may be next! So join me as I bring you my afternoon with Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews of The Houses October Built!
Keep It Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in HOUSE OF TORTURED SOULS EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
HAUNTED ATTRACTION: BloodShed Farms

HAUNTED ATTRACTION: BloodShed Farms

Looking for more to do than just 31 days of horror? Front porch all decorated and waiting for trick or treaters? Then go to a local haunt! Chances are there’s one close to where you live, and you don’t even realize it. This past weekend I was fortunate enough to do just that in Columbus, New Jersey. Columbus brings BloodShed Farms to life!
The location is relatively convenient, and the setting is perfect! Once you have paid your admission, you walk through a small section of a cornfield trail that opens up into a grass-based clearing, almost like a park. There you have vendors, interactive events like pumpkin smashing, food vendors, and, hell, they even have a decapitated basketball throw. There are picnic tables for resting frightened bones and even a stage for the endless entertainment they offer, be it scary-okee or the likes of a special guest, like The Enigma who will be there on Friday and Saturday the 20th and 21st… Sorry I had to miss that! Their roaming characters that are great at interacting with guests and are always willing to do a photo opp.
From the central area called The Reapers Ball, you can easily be guided to one of the five attractions that they offer.
BloodShed Farms - Clown-O-Phobia / Fair use doctrine.
Clown-O-Phobia is an incredibly well-built walk-through that will keep you moving and always keep you guessing. Welcome to the mind of The Circus Rejects! From screams to laughs…and even bubbles, you won’t be let down!
The Trail of Terror is just that! Mix Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre together with some amazing props and terrorizing actors that even the deepest South wouldn’t want to mess with, and you are on the right TRAIL!
BloodShed Farms - Trail of Terror / Fair use doctrine.
BloodShed Farms - Hellsgate Asylum / Fair use doctrine.
Hellsgate Asylum…WOW! This walk-through will quickly penetrate your deep psyche as you enter into this insane asylum gone…..INSANE! A number of hospital props and character acting in Hellsgate was truly amazing and blood-curdling!
The Last Ride was actually the first event that I ventured on. You are seated with approximately 20 other guests on a cornride – not a hayride but cornride – through a vast property (all cornfields) with creatures of the night lurking and leering at you and some even jumping on the ride to torment and scare. They even bring back the dead at the end of the ride. That made it a real thriller!!
BloodShed Farms - The Last Ride / Fair use doctrine.
BloodShed Farms 06 - The Camper
The Camper Escape Room is one attraction that, sadly, I did not venture through, but I really wish I had! It is exactly what it says it is: a full-size RV/camper that you enter and have 15 minutes to figure out how to escape!
My night spent at BloodShed Farms was one that I shall not soon forget and will most definitely make the two-hour drive back to experience again! The night was dark, lit with smoky skies, and it was as if I had walked through a cornfield and wandered into a nightmare of a Halloween carnival. I was introduced to many of the staff who actually told me they were sorry that we had come on that night because of some staffing/technical issues. If I could have punched them all in the dick for having said that I would have. devil-emoticon It was awesome, and I hope all the staff and owners of BloodShed Farms are proud of the job they are doing! I would be.
Be sure to check them out online, and check their calendar because the days of the month are going fast. Prices vary, but they are very reasonable for what BloodShed Farms offers. The haunt is child- and family-friendly….but it ain’t Disney. Use some damn common sense. If you know your kid or spouse is a wimp, then leave them at home… Or bring them and torture their ass. Muhahaha! That works too! Lines may be long, so get there early or ask about the VIP program.
Any horror and haunt fans in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland areas should get off your asses and get to BloodShed Farms. And tell them I sent you! My only disappointment is that I hardly took any pictures because I was having too much fun, but please take my word for it – you do NOT want to miss this.
Thank you, BloodShed Farms, for a great Halloween night of fun and terror. It was the most fun we have had in a long time!
KEEP IT EVIL…
Posted by John Roisland in HALLOWEEN HAUNTS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: TWD 100th Episode on Oct 22, 2017

COMING SOON: TWD 100th Episode on Oct 22, 2017

In seven days (“Seven days…”), The Walking Dead Season 8 will start out with their 100th episode.
It did take a long time for us to get here, us DeadHeads have to suffer a longer break than normal shows, then there’s this mid-season break to go through. I mean SHIT.
In anticipation of the event, AMC released these videos:

Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, and Lauren Cohan from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017, in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Season 8 will also be the beginning of war between Rick and ‘the good guys’ and Negan and ‘The Saviors’. Season 7 ended with Shiva, a tiger (YEAH, a TIGER!) jumping in and saving the day and ripping Saviors apart! I have waited so long to hear Negan’s response to Shiva! I can’t wait how he puts that in words. There was also that moment when we saw in Rick’s eyes that he got his balls back, wasn’t submissive at all and calmly told Negan he would kill him! OMG that quickly became my favorite scene of all time!!  I am so ready for the war to begin. The show was already suspenseful, not it will be pretty damn close to unbearable! So much to take in! So many emotions to go through, I personally am creating new cuss words to shout at the screen during the first episode of season 8!
Through the years, Entertainment Weekly has put out some incredible photos of the cast before the newest season. This coming season is my absolute favorite!
Image: Entertainment WeeklyAndrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017 in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Image: Entertainment WeeklyMelissa McBride from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017, in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Image: Entertainment WeeklyNorman Reedus, from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017, in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Image: Entertainment WeeklyDanai Gurira as Michonne from The Walking Dead / Image: Entertainment Weekly
Image: Entertainment WeeklyAndrew Lincoln from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017, in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Photo Credit: Alan Clarke/AMC / Entertainment WeeklyAustin Amelio as Dwight – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Gallery – Photo Credit: Alan Clarke/AMC
Image: Entertainment WeeklyAndrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, from the cast of The Walking Dead photographed exclusively for Entertainment Weekly by Art Streiber on June 24, 2017 in Senoia Georgia. / Styling: Elaine Montalvo / Prop Styling: John Sanders / Costumers: Mia Nunnally, Derrick Vener
Posted by Tammie Parker in COMING SOON, FEATURED CONTENT, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, TELEVISION REVIEWS, 0 comments
MUSIC REVIEW: JasonXVoorhees – Horror Edge (2016)

MUSIC REVIEW: JasonXVoorhees – Horror Edge (2016)

These dudes really know how to bring forth a record that is HARDCORE! Extremely influenced by black metal, hardcore, punk rock, and pretty much everything bloody all the while being a straight edge band, these guys fucking hit it hard!
With an ominous intro dark and divine as you’d expect from any horror based band, it lays precedence to the album ahead. With an obvious metal and horror influence, they let it shine through. Some of the mixing with the gang vocals could have been mixed and maybe reverbed out to sound like there were 5,000,000 people instead of five, but whatever to that. It doesn’t take away from the fact they get what they want to say out there and as hard and heavy as can be.
Track by track it kicks you in the face with the hardcore sound. “What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie” is probably hands down my favorite song on the record. The punk rock vibe is definitely what I’m used to and what I listen to on a regular basis with the upbeat “skanking” style that you can easily dance to, or stand there like an emo and just bob your head while looking at your shoes. No matter what your secular division of life or who you are, it will get you moving. Then “Still Following” comes on, and it’s the same ordeal — fast hard and punk rock…except with a break down that’s heavy and catchy all at the same time. You can’t beat this style of music they’re going on with. The mixture of metal, punk, and hardcore is just fantastic with a perfect combination of all that gives you something for all walks of the underground world. Want them to play a punk show? No problem. Hardcore? Easy. Metal? For sure. They can achieve all and perform to every crowd with ease.
Like all horror punk or horror-influenced bands, song titles and references are there for the songs either in title or lyrics. The true sound of their influences shines through everything from AFI and Misfits to Leviathan, Slayer, Mayhem and even more punk style. It’s clear that JXV knows what they want, and their sound all over the spectrum conveys what’s what with this band. Working closely with Rikk and Cal of JxV on a few projects artistically and accompanying them on some comps put out by Optimist/Pessimist records which is run by Rikk, I can say they’re amazing cats all around. Being a fellow straight edge myself, it’s awesome to have a family like this in the horror world. The first time I saw their title “Horror Edge”, I knew these guys were either going to be cock suckers and not worth befriending or they’re going to be brothers. Lucky for me, the latter was the case. I highly recommend that you listen to Jason X Voorhees and support them in every way. Even if you’re not into straight edge life, if you’re a music fan, metal head, hardcore, punk…what the fuck ever. This band is for you.
JxV on Optimist/Pessimist Records – Bandcamp
Posted by Schock in HALLOWEEN, MUSIC REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
HAUNTED LOCATIONS:  Pere Cheney

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: Pere Cheney

Just southeast of Grayling, Michigan, down a dirt road and two-track and along the railroad tracks, lies an old, all but forgotten cemetery. This is the Pere Cheney Cemetery. Many myths and legends surround this place. From ghost sightings and a witch’s curse to mysterious lights and figures, it is an area with a mysterious and somewhat sad history.
Pere Cheney was an old lumber town located about midway between the towns of Graying and Roscommon. It was established in the late 1800s and was abandoned a little more than 50 years later. Legend has it that at one point the population was around 1,500 people. It is believed that diphtheria swept through the town twice in a span of fewer than five years which caused the town to fold. According to one of the more popular legends, the diphtheria outbreak was the result of a curse by a witch that had been banished to the woods.
We decided to venture out to the cemetery to have a look around and then see if we could find where the town used to stand. As someone not all that familiar with the area, I called on a few friends who happen to live in that area to see if they might be able to help find the place.
After a quick stop in Grayling for dinner at a place called Dead Bear Brewing Co., we headed out of town and made our way south towards where the old town is believed to be located. After traveling down a paved road, then a dirt road, then a two-track along the railroad tracks, we reached the cemetery.Pere Cheney 02 / Image: Richard Francis
The cemetery itself is well maintained and quite large, and although vandals have stolen and destroyed quite a bit, it is apparent that there are quite a few gravesites there. We spent a bit of time wandering around, looking at the remaining headstones and trying to decipher the weathered names and dates. Based on what we saw, there seem to be quite a few children buried there. One of the few standing markers bears the names of three siblings, all under the age of ten, that died within days of each other. This alone lends some credibility to the story of some sort of outbreak.Pere Cheney 03 / Image: Richard Francis
Pere Cheney 04 / Image: Richard FrancisAs the sun started to set, we made our way back north along one of the many trails in the area and searched for the location of the town itself. We parked in a small clearing next to a creepy old tree and cut through a small patch of woods that lead to a larger clearing. Here we found some large ditches and mounds of earth that may have been where buildings once stood.Pere Cheney 05 / Image: Richard Francis
As we wandered further into the clearing we found several small pieces of foundation in one area which lead us to believe that we were in the right location. We also noticed that there were peculiar patterns in the growth of grass around where we believed buildings once stood. It was kind of depressing to know that an empty field is all that’s left of a once bustling town filled with people.Pere Cheney 06 / Image: Richard Francis
Overall, our experience was rather quiet and uneventful. The only excitement we encountered was a Conservation Officer, a State Police Officer, and a local cop out on the two-track looking for a guy in a Jeep, and the only spirits we encountered that evening were of the bottled variety.Pere Cheney 07 / Image: Richard Francis
Posted by Richard Francis in Historic Horror, URBAN LEGENDS, 0 comments
John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again! October is a truly magical time. Not only do we get to see the changes as Mother Nature transforms life to death, covering us in her cool, crisp air and the skeletal images of the now bare trees. We get to break out the long-awaited hoodies, pumpkins, and all things pumpkin spice (it truly IS a scary time of year), and we get to decorate houses for my personal favorite holiday – HALLOWEEN! For horror fans, Halloween isn’t one day. It isn’t JUST October 31st… Oh no, no, no! This is simply the day that you build up to. October 31st is the climatic orgasm of autumn. Aside from decorating, costumes and trick or treating, you must also enjoy masses amounts of horror movies!!
Many pride themselves on doing the 31 Days of Horror challenge where they watch at least one horror movie per day throughout the month of October ending on Halloween night itself! A fun challenge for all horror fans! The beauty with this is you pick it. Any style horror film is up for the challenge, be it classic monster movies such as Dracula and Frankenstein or slasher films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Or maybe you prefer something from the paranormal – The Exorcist or Angel Heart – or perhaps some great Indie horror films like Circus of the Dead or Pieces of Talent. Whatever your flavor is, it’s all good, and it’s all up to you to decide.
There are a million and one different ways you can mix and match your Halloween viewing. I personally TRY to stick with the theme of Halloween in my choices. I’ve always enjoyed the holiday horror-themed films, so I figured it only made sense that my Top 5 Halloween Films are the same. Now please don’t confuse this with my personal favorite horror movie… No, these are my HALLOWEEN go-to movies and are not ranked!

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

I adored this film as it brought back some classic monsters and threw them in to an animated film that adults and kids could both honestly enjoy together. It’s important to teach the kids about horror at a young age. After all, isn’t that where horror is home?

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

The first time I saw this sleeper hit I instantly fell in love with it! It brings many Halloween superstitions to life in one film that mixes a few stories and rolls them all together in one beautifully filmed trat. A new and true Halloween classic!

The Houses October Built (2014)

This is another sleeper hit that grew and has reached cult status. This film actually had a profound impact on me and climbed straight to the top of my all time favorite films list! It’s hard for me to actually say enough about this film other than it’s not just watched at Halloween in my house!

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s all time classic Halloween film about the Boogie Man himself introduced the world to Michael Myers. Halloween is one of the original slasher films that still keeps movie goers on the edge of their seats year after year.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

For years Tim Burton has brought his dark beauty to the silver screen, and he captured my heart with this one. You see, the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is my all time favorite story and has been since I was a child. The Burton brought the imagery and dark scenery to life in ways that honestly I had only dreamt about. So this is a must for me!

I do have tons of personal go-to films that I would have loved to mention, but then it wouldn’t be a top five would it..? Some have said my list is a bit on the childish side… Well, Halloween brings out the kid in me more than any other time of year, so I usually tell them to deal with it!Freddy Kruger-Deal with it / Fair use doctrine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed diving into a personal side of me, and if you’re so inclined, please leave me your list in the comments. I’d love to hear them… Until then, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Keep it Evil…
Posted by John Roisland in Categories, STAFF PICKS, 2 comments
Schock’s Top 5 Albums for the Halloween Mood

Schock’s Top 5 Albums for the Halloween Mood

I’m going to run through five albums to put you in the Halloween spirit. We all love music, and we all have stuff we are used to. I’m always on the hunt for something new and fresh, so let me help you out this Halloween season. You cannot go wrong with my Top 5 Albums That Scream HALLOWEEN when listened to any time of the year.
Misfits — Collection 2: This one in particular because A) It’s got the song “Halloween” on the album. It’s the original incarnation of the Misfits and a staple in any horror fans collection.Misfits_-_Collection_II_cover / Fair use doctrine.

Mister Monster — Over Your Dead Body: This album is so fucking good. The whole vibe of the record gives you a cold chill and makes you want to just sit by a campfire to warm up while crooning your way into your partner’s pants.Mister Monster-Over Your Dead Body / Fair use doctrine.
AFI — All Hallow’s EP and Black Sails in the Sunset EP: There was a time when AFI was absolutely amazing and these two albums… (I’m using two here because there are only 4 tracks on the All Hallow’s EP.) These two albums set a nice relaxed vibe that always, for some reason, get me thinking about walking around, kicking leaves, and enjoying the cool air. The song “Fall Children” on All Hallow’s EP is, by far, my favorite Halloween song ever written.AFI-AllHallow's and Black Sails / Fair use doctrine.
Silent Horror — Self Titled: This is a record that is from start to finish spooky and fun and screams horror and Halloween all the way through. I put this next to Mister Monster’s OYDB as one of the best horror punk records ever.Silent Horror - Self Titled / Fair use doctrine.
The Spook — Some Like It Dead: A band from the land of Germany. The Spook is another horror punk band that not only needs to be listened to, also needs to be understood. This album gives you the feeling of horror and Halloween – from the super scary factor right down to the whimsy and fun of Halloween. The Spook delivers this on this record.The Spook-Some Like It Dead / Fair use doctrine.
So there you have it the Schock TOP 5 Albums to put you in the mood for Halloween. Find them, listen and enjoy.
Posted by Schock in EDITORIALS, MUSIC REVIEWS, 0 comments
SPOOKY LOCATIONS: The Real Silent Hill

SPOOKY LOCATIONS: The Real Silent Hill

Silent Hill is based on a truly creepy town: Centralia, Pennsylvania, small town hidden in the smoke…from the fire that has been burning under the city for over 40 years.
SilentHill-Centralia_sidebyside / Fair use doctrine.The town was originally called Bull’s Head by founder Alexander Rea, whom purchased the land from a Revolutionary War hero, and signer of the Declaration of Independence Robert Morris. The town’s name was changed to Centreville. The town found out there was already a Centreville PA so they changed the name to Centralia. On Oct 17th 1868 Rea was murdered by an Irish gang called the Molly Maguires. In the 1890s the population of the town was 2,761. It was a bustling little town with five hotels, 27 saloons, seven churches, 14 general and grocery stores, one bank and one post office. It became such a nice little town because of the Anthracite Coal buried on the outskirts of town.
hauntedlocations-centralia-antiue-coalmine / Fair use doctrine.It was pretty common in the 60s (still a few now) for landfills to burn trash heaps. In Pennsylvania, after all, you don’t have to worry about brushfires, right? In the spring of 1962, it began. The fire of a burning trash heap made it to the coal. Still it burns. Of course there were several attempts to put it out, lots of tries, lots of research, lots of time wasted.
Some left pretty quickly. After all noxious gas, and the ground erupting for steam pockets that would boil hauntedlocations-centralia-warningsign / Fair use doctrine.your flesh it not what many would desire in a nice place to raise a family. It took some of the towns people years before they would leave their beloved town. Many of the houses and buildings had retaining walls built around them to keep them standing, once their neighbor building was torn down. Then come 1983, August, the greater part of the town’s residents decided to relocate the town. Finally the Federal Government has approved $42 million for them to do just that. The Centralia Mine Fire Acquisition Relocation Project has begun.hauntedlocations-centralia-roadcrackedup / Fair use doctrine.
The town has became an odd tourist destination and spook spot for many of us thrill seekers just for the look of the place alone! The fog, well smoke, rolling through the town, the cracked, gaping streets, the creepy cemetery, the creepy church…Center Street Cemetery-Centralia, Pennsylvania / Fair use doctrine.
Make sure to check out Graffiti Highway while you are there.Graffiti Highway-Centralia_sid / Fair use doctrine.ebyside
Find out more about the town’s history here.hauntedlocations-centralia-graveyard / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Tammie Parker in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, Historic Horror, Real World Horrors, 0 comments
HAUNTED LOCATIONS:  The Hippie Tree

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: The Hippie Tree

Not far from the old State Hospital in Traverse City lies the graffitied remains of an old willow tree that is known as the Hippie Tree. The tree gets its name and graffiti from the multitude of people who have made the journey there to meditate under its branches in an attempt to gain some otherworldly insight and leave their mark on it.
Many legends and stories have been told about this tree and the surrounding area. Some say the spirits of former patients from the nearby abandoned mental hospital haunt the area. Some say the area is inhabited by the ghost of a young boy murdered there by an escaped mental patient. There are even some people who claim that the area itself is the gateway to Hell if you walk a certain pattern around the tree. The true story of the tree and its origin are probably lost to time amongst the tales and legends.
After reading about the Hippie Tree online, I decided to try to locate it and see for myself what all the fuss was about. I assembled my team of crack ghost hunters (myself, my girlfriend, and my thirteen-year-old son) and we hit the road in search of spirits and adventure.
After a quick stop for lunch at Taco Bell, we made our way past the old asylum and parked near a school across from the hiking trails that take you to the Hippie Tree.
The hiking trails are well maintained and clearly labeled in the area and the tree itself is even noted on the main map when you enter the trailhead, which is kind of nice, although somewhat disheartening as I imagined the place to be crawling with tourists. We hiked up the trail a bit and took what we thought was the first right and promptly got lost. Actually, we weren’t lost, we just took a wrong turn and ended up making a big loop instead of the more direct route to the tree.
Hippie Tree 02 / Image: Richard FrancisAfter realizing our mistake, we oriented ourselves and continued on the trails through a beautiful forest and across a few trickling streams. Well worth the extra time in the woods in my opinion.
Hippie Tree 03 / Image: Richard FrancisThe trail leading down to the Hippie Tree is hard to miss, with all the brightly colored graffiti everywhere. It’s quite beautiful to see in person. Normally I’m not the type of person that enjoys graffiti. In most cases, and particularly in nature, I feel it detracts from things. But in this case, it seems to fit. You could wander up and down that tree for hours taking in all the little details. The bright, vibrant colors seem to tell their own story of the area.
We all sat there for a while taking in the surrounding and seeing if we could feel some presence of the spirits that are said to inhabit the area.
Nada. The only presence we felt was that of the couple that came down there to sit on a branch and eat their lunch, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t spirits. Unless spirits like to stop by the drive-thru at Wendy’s on their way to a haunting.
We walked around the Hippie Tree a few times like we were told to do in order to open the gates of Hell. Nada there, too. The only thing that opened the gates of Hell that day was the Taco Bell we had for lunch.
Maybe we just aren’t that in touch with the spirit world, or maybe spirits weren’t that interested in us. Or maybe Saturday is a day off for ghosts. Maybe we caught the ghost during the shift change and they were busy. It doesn’t really matter to me because it was a good day to be out in the woods, enjoying nature and I’m glad we went. Maybe that’s what the spirits wanted me to take away from the experience. A beautiful day enjoying the wonder of nature with the people I care most about.
If you’re ever in the Traverse City area of northern Michigan you should check out the Hippie Tree.Hippie Tree 07 / Image: Richard Francis
Posted by Richard Francis in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, HALLOWEEN, URBAN LEGENDS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

The Devil's Candy poster / Fair use doctrine.The Devil’s Candy is a 2015 horror film both written and directed by Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones (2009)) and starring Ethan Embry, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Shiri Appleby, and Kiara Glasco. I must admit – if not for the recommendation from a friend regarding this film, I may never have seen it. I’m glad he told me about it! The Devil’s Candy seemed to be kind of a sleeper hit that really packs a punch!
The Devil’s Candy is the story of a young family who purchase an old farmhouse in southern Texas and quickly realize that along with the mortgage comes a horrific history that threatens them all. Ethan Embry plays Jesse Hellman, a loving husband, father, metal head, and painter. After moving into the family’s new home, Jesse becomes almost possessed through his painting. Pruitt Taylor Vince co-stars as Ray, a man who suffers from demonic voices in his head, has been on an ultra-violent killing spree of young children, saying he needs to feed them to him. But Ray is also having a homecoming – to the same home that Embry and family now inhabit.
As Jesse’s paintings become more and more detailed and violent, Ray gets closer and closer to the home, as do his abductions and brutal murders. Ray suffered from violent tendencies as a child, even being hospitalized due to them, and now he wants to come home.
Ethan Embry, known for playing fun-loving, almost goofy, characters (Dutch, Empire Records, Can’t Hardly Wait), may seem an odd choice. In my opinion, though, Embry needs more serious/darker roles because HE NAILED IT! Although he plays the good guy and proud father in The Devil’s Candy, he displays a dark side through his character’s possession and is brilliant!
The Devil's Candy - Pruitt Taylor Vince 02 / Fair use doctrine.Co-star Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine, Monster, and Identity) is NEVER a letdown in his performances, and his stellar job as Ray Smilie is so believable that he gives you nightmares during the day.
The Devil's Candy - Ethan Embry / Fair use doctrine.The film moves quickly but doesn’t skip ahead or leave any stone unturned in the storytelling. My only gripe with lies with the film’s lighting. While all normal shots are filmed fine, too many of the action scenes are near unwatchable. I’ve viewed the filmed a few times now (yes, I’m a fan of it), and it’s just too dark no matter how the lighting is in the room. I’ve even tried adjusting the contrast on my TV set. Still not helping. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind when a film has off screenshots that make you use your own imagination. Oftentimes it’s more effective – and disturbing. But when a scene is shot on film for the audience to view but is too dark for viewers to make out anything, then I have a problem with it.
The Devil’s Candy is currently playing on Netfilx, and I seriously can’t stress enough that you should sit down and watch this it. Truly this is one of the best overall horror films I’ve seen in a while.The Devil's Candy title / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2

EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2

Exclusive Look at The Houses October Built 2

Director: Bobby Roe; Writers: Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe; Stars: Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson; Genre: Horror; Rating: Unrated; Runtime: UNK; Release Date: 22 September 2017
The Houses October Built 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the sleeper hit The Houses October Built (2014). While the original kind of flew through under the radar, it has since gained a huge cult-like following of fans – myself being one of them!
To summarize the original for any one who may not have seen it, five friends in an RV tour parts of the southern states in search of the ultimate haunt. While on this quest, they catch wind of a strange and intriguing haunt called The Blue Skeleton. Sensing this is just the thing they’ve been searching for, they begin to pursue The Blue Skeleton. Through word of mouth and clues that are mysteriously given to them, they eventually find themselves in the middle of what quickly becomes a life or death haunt, ultimately bringing viewers to a satisfying cliffhanger. As the film ends, viewers are left wondering WHAT HAPPENED!?!
The Houses October Built 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the sleeper hit The Houses October Built (2014). While the original kind of snuck through under the radar, it has since gained a huge cult-like following of fans – myself being one of them! >The Houses October Built 2 picks up right where the original left off and answers all the questions generated at the end of the first film! Fast forward to one year later. The group is now both famous and infamous in the haunt industry from having survived their encounters with The Blue Skeleton – encounters which were live streamed – and are now sought after to make celebrity appearances at haunts nationwide. Instead of seeking unique and terrifying haunts, the tables have turned and the haunts are seeking out them. So back to the RV they go!

Through the group’s stops and travels, however, viewers are shown a blueish colored feed of the group as they are videotaped – one of the group in particular. Brandy, who has been nicknamed Coffin Girl, seems to be targeted. On their journey, the group stop at a few very cool haunts, including haunted hay rides, a Zombie Pub Crawl, and (for the physically fit) a Zombie-Run! One of the haunts, however, was a tad more extreme than the others – something Brandy is now totally against as her last trip has left a few mental scars.
As in the first film, lead Zack Andrews is still on the lookout for the extreme and eventually catches wind of one and off they go. Keep in mind that the further the group goes down the rabbit hole, the more intense and disturbing the secretive videotaping becomes.
I’m not going to go any further because I refuse to give away any spoilers away. I will say one thing, however, and that is that the first film really left viewers wondering. Hell, three days after I first watched The Houses October Built 2, I was still in my head asking myself, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” LOL!!! Folks, the cast and crew did it again. And, as with the first film, when you think it’s over and you start to understand what happened, pondering it more deeply and questioning everything that has gone before, BAM!
The Houses October Built 2 stars the same great cast and continues showcasing great real life haunts and Halloween events. This haunt realism was a big part of the original film’s appeal, garnering a huge fan base with a very small character base. Filling the film with actual haunt actors, The Houses October Built gave complete credit to the hard-working haunt actors as well as both supporting and helping revive the life and spirits of haunts across the world!
I don’t know if The Houses October Built 2 can ever be any better than its original, as I adore the film, but it gives it one hell of a run! Zack and Bobby – you two are incredible! Great job!
SUPPORT THIS FILM, LIMITED CITY THEATER SHOWINGS,
VOD AMAZON PRIME, 9/22/17!
Keep it Evil…
Posted by John Roisland in Categories, EXCLUSIVE, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Monster Mania 37

CON REVIEW: Monster Mania 37

Event: Monster Mania 37
Location: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Date: Saturday, August, 19, 2017

It’s 10:15 am, and I have arrived for what will become my fourth time to Monster Mania horror convention. The guest list was actually pretty decent this time around, and I always look forward to seeing my horror family and friends who attend regularly. As I pull in front of the hotel, I’m automatically routed through the parking lot, past what was a free parking lot of a closed on the weekend business plaza but is now a $15.00 pay to park ripoff. Well, that shit ain’t going to fly with me, so I ended up about three blocks away. My choice, but honestly, I think having to pay to park now is a pretty shitty deal. Onward to the CON!!
Aside from honestly wanting to see the faces of old friends, I had an agenda. You see, House of Tortured Souls – after much waiting and pulling of hair – finally has merchandise. T-SHIRTS!!! I had one on (looking awfully dapper, I must add), and the three that I brought with me were spoken for. Two were for the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. How could I present a shirt to only one of them? The final shirt was slotted for ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. I was on a mission from God!
Monster Mania, I am here! The lobby held the usual handful of stragglers and lines already formed for certain celebrities. I made my way through the lobby to the ticket table to pay. Now I understand conventions and also understand a large percentage of the staff is comprised of volunteers. I could only hope the two not so pleasant ladies I encountered were volunteers and not representatives of the convention itself. No eye contact, no verbal greeting of any kind, didn’t even ask how many. As a matter of fact, I actually had to get their attention, not that they were busy, but they just didn’t care. It was as if I was placing a food order – although at least at a fast food joint, the employees would have acknowledged me. After I got my wrist band from Ms. Happy, off I went.
The layout is always the same, and in my opinion, is done quite nicely. Having to go from one end of the building and through the always crowded lobby to get to the main celebrity room can be a pain if you’re in a hurry – and especially so if the hallway leading to the celebrity rooms is packed with people waiting in lines that have been formed to keep the main room operable. So it works, no one to blame, it’s a busy place. And when it’s busy, and in the middle of August, it tends to get a bit warm and the air conditioners just can’t seem to handle the demand. Again, no one’s fault.
After getting my wrist band, I headed over to the main celebrity room to find where the lovely Soska sisters were. To my surprise, they hadn’t even shown up yet, and there were only about 10 people in line for them. So I became number 11. They didn’t show up for about 45 minutes, but I really didn’t mind because I waiting next to Ms. PJ Soles, who was already hard at it, working alone. An autograph and picture combination was only $20.00! I wish more were like that. She had a good, constant line going, and everyone – including her – seemed to be having a good time! For those of you who know me, I’ve always said that PJ Soles is the nicest lady you would ever want to meet.
At last the Soskas came out and were cheery and loving to everyone there! Of all the celebrities I have been fortunate enough to meet, I’ve got to say that the Soska sisters are by far the most energetic and appreciative of the people who come to see them. When it was my turn at bat, before I could even say hello, they were literally on the table giving me a hug. Everyone got a hug. I told them of the website and presented EACH of them (lol) with a t-shirt, sticker, and business card for House of Tortured Souls. Jen read off my phone number to me and said, “Halloween will be here and I will be pretty busy, as you can imagine, but don’t be surprised if I do call”. She gave me her email address and told me to reach out to her for the interview I had mentioned earlier. The two of them offered to do a video promo with the shirts I gave them, hugged me again, and I was gone. It was a pleasure and honor to have had the opportunity to meet them. So that’s one – or two! – down.
I made my way back through the now heavily crowded ticket area and lobby to get to one of other celebrity rooms on my way to meet Scott Ian!! I have been a big fan of Anthrax since….8th grade? I’ve seen them numerous times in concert but have never actually met any of them, so this was a really big deal to me – especially since Scott is a horror fan himself. I walked straight through the room and right up to his table where, to my surprise, there is not one person there to see him. I smiled, introduced myself, and explained the website and how he was part of my mission. I inquired about trying to set up an interview, and without even looking at me, he said simply, “Contact my label”. Nevertheless, I presented him with his shirt, also with card and sticker, and he quickly handed it to the person that was with him and it was out of sight. I had to think quickly as his attention wasn’t on me and he didn’t seem to even want to be there. I asked if I could grab a picture of him just holding up the t-shirt. Sadly, he gave me this look and said simply, “Yeah, I really don’t like to do that”. Before I could feel like any more of a loser (since I now felt completely destroyed), I shook his hand and thanked him for his time, turned, and casually walked away. Maybe he had a bad morning, maybe there was no hot water in his shower, or maybe his breakfast was cold. Who knows? There could have been a million different things that might have been wrong with Mr. Ian that morning. After talking to others about him later, they all said how much fun he was the night before. Well, he is a rock star, and they usually don’t do mornings. What was I thinking? What I was thinking was that he was there for his fans, and despite what issues may or may not have been, he was supposed to be there for his fans. I am still a fan, but I do wish things had been different. He was just very unreceptive. Oh well…
I then made my way through the now pretty damn crowded venue and skimmed through all the vendors. Sooooo many vendors… I truly wish I had a lot more money to spend on because I wanted it all – from t-shirts to action figures to DVDs and custom, handmade crafts! And yes, although you will find a lot of the same items at some vendor tables, there are still many unique items that you just don’t find anywhere other than at cons.
I especially loved these awesome shadowboxes from Curious Goods.Halloween and Trick 'r Treat shadowboxes
I did have the pleasure of running into a good handful of friends, and it was, as always, great to geek out with all of them. Then, I looked past them to see a dark figure in the distance, a man with a certain presence about him. It was the one and only Father Evil. Father is a good friend of mine personally and I always look forward to seeing him at the show. It’s a thrill to see just how far he has come and to know how far he’s headed! Lou, to you and Sarah, all our love and support!
Now, from the moment I stepped foot in the lobby, there was something not right…something was amiss. It actually took me a while to put my finger on it, but I suddenly realized what it was. There was next to no cosplay. There were, of course, fans dressed as their favorite horror characters, but there was really no cosplay to be found. This was something that always welcomed me to the con as clowns would at the entrance to the circus big top. And that’s what had been missing all day – the circus! If you’ve ever attended a con, you know that attendees take tons and TONS of pictures with those cosplaying. It really kind of warms you up and gets you in the festive spirit of the convention. Through trusting friends, I found out later that day that the promoters of the Monster Mania wanted all cosplay people to pay even if they were just hanging out in the lobby. Many cosplay people attended and staked out in the lobby, just to add to the party, free entertainment if you will. Were they causing issues? Not that I could tell. Now, for whatever reason is was – be it money alone or what, I really don’t know, sadly many have since sworn off returning. This was not just a shame; it was a damn shame. It really seemed to have taken away from the spirit of what I knew to be Monster Mania.
As 2:00 pm neared, I had done just about all there was to do. I hadn’t planned on staying late, or even till dark, but to be ready to go at 2:00 pm was just wrong. Something was seriously amiss. I made one last round through the building to say my goodbyes. I stopped and thanked the Soskas again and, while doing so, got to shake hands with Sid Haigas he was passing through. So there’s that.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have a bad time at Monster Mania, and I’m not bashing it. I’ve seen tons of pictures from others who were there, and they all had a good time. I love horror conventions, and yes, I’m a big boy and understand that things are what you make of them. But there was a different feeling this time around. Here’s hoping next year it’s back to abnormal.Trick 'r Treat shadowbox
Keep It Evil.
Posted by John Roisland in Categories, 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, 1 comment
EDITORIAL: In Defense of: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

EDITORIAL: In Defense of: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Hello, horror fiends. In my new series “In Defense Of…”, I look at movies often loathed, you know, those fugly, redheaded, stepchildren in the genre. But are they really worth the hate? After all, a lot of now classic horror films were once looked down upon by other like-minded genre fans. Day of the Dead (1985) is a prime example. So all I ask is your time and open mind because you never know, you might just see a movie in a totally new light.
Oscar nominated director Joe Berlinger seemed like an interesting choice when it was announced he would helm the sequel to the mega hit The Blair Witch Project. Berlinger is known for award winning documentaries such as Brother’s Keeper and the hugely successful Paradise Lost trilogy. He is currently directing a project about Ted Bundy (Zac Efron is slated to play Bundy).

Opening Statement or Sequels Don’t Always Suck

For my first film, I want to look at the ill-fated sequel to the smash hit The Blair Witch Project (1999). Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was looked at by many fans as a quickly slapped together film to keep the Blair Witch money train chugging along. But it’s really not the cinematic turd we unfairly dismiss it as. I’m going to use the term ballsy a lot because that is exactly what the Joe Berlinger was when attempting to tackle the sequel to the huge runaway hit the first Blair Witch was. He could have taken the easy route and simply sent another batch of kids in the woods screaming and looking into the camera and sobbing etc., but he didn’t. Instead, he chose to take the template of the first film and do what a good sequel should do, which is expand the mythos and take the series in a different direction.

Studio Interference

When defending Blair Witch 2, you have to have some context. The director’s vision of Blair Witch 2 is totally different than what we see in the final product all thanks to studio interference. For example, key scenes were re-arranged along with additional violent scenes, etc. It was further confused by adding Book of Shadows to the title when, in fact, there is no book in the movie. That, my friends, was – you guessed it – the studio suits’ bright idea and not the director’s. On a side note, I’ve heard of fans making their own “director’s cut” versions using details from the shooting script and listening to the commentary. (SERIOUSLY, the commentary is amazing. You must listen to it. ), and (surprise, surprise) it’s much better. Sadly, the odds of seeing an official director’s cut is slim because Artisan (now Lions Gate) doesn’t really do a lot to cater to fans. Even The Blair Witch Project (1999), a film that put them on the map, didn’t get a tenth-anniversary release because I guess they figured why bother.

What Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Got Right

After viewing last year’s stinkfest which was Blair Witch, it only reinforced the idea that Blair Witch 2, for all its flaws, at least attempted to explore interesting themes and ideas. Not only does it all but ditch the whole found footage concept, which is pretty ballsy in and of itself, it is a clever take on Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. Each character in Book of Shadows represents an aspect of the film. Jeff is the opportunist cashing in on the film; Kim is the goth girl who was drawn into the film’s dark themes and subject matter; Tristine and her husband are the brainy skeptics; and Erica is the Wiccan who found the film to be offensive to the witch community. Again this is so much more interesting than simply another batch of kids going off into the woods… God, I hate Blair Witch (2016).
In short, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is much more lofty than the remake/rehash we got last year. With the filmmaker’s background in documentary film, he explores blurring the lines between fiction and reality and the very real danger in doing so. Also, the cliché imagery throughout is purposefully placed because the young people are so steeped in media that it’s the only way they relate to things once shit gets weird. The fact that The Blair Witch Project exists (in the sequel’s context) as a work of fiction rather than a part of its own universe is another incredibly ballsy move and helps to further echo its core theme while also giving an interesting slice of meta. Its cast is solid and the pacing moves at nearly breakneck speed. It also has a pretty good soundtrack which is now nostalgic for people of my generation.

Closing Statement or Before You Pass Judgment

I’m the first person to admit Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is flawed largely due to studio tampering, but it doesn’t deserve the 4.0 rating on IMDb! It attempted to give the audience something a little more challenging than simply a run of the mill cash grab remake (which, AGAIN, Blair Witch (2016) totally was) by introducing interesting themes and concepts. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my respect for this film, and it seems other fans are coming out of the woods and proudly reclaiming Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. I still hold out hope that Lions Gate will release a director’s cut to allow fans to see the film as the filmmaker intended.
Michael Vaughn is a published genre writer and has appeared in Fangoria, Scream (UK) in print as well as sites like FilmsinReview.com. He also owns the blog “Gorehound Mike’s Weird Cinema”. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema, which compiles over 300 reviews spanning films from all over the globe and covering multiple genres.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in Categories, EDITORIALS, 0 comments
In Remembrance:  Tobe Hooper

In Remembrance: Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper didn’t just change the face of horror, I credit (or blame, depending on who you talk to) him with changing the direction of my life. I don’t say that lightly. Not many movies or directors have impacted me as much as his films.
I grew up during the video rental craze of the 80s. I also grew up in a house where horror wasn’t a popular genre. So anytime we went to the local video rental place, I would always browse the horror section looking at all the boxes of all the movies that I would rent if only my mom would let me.
Not too many of those boxes stood out or left a lasting impression on me. Except two. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the first of those two. It was like the Holy Grail of horror movies in my opinion. Even when my parents started letting me rent scary movies, they always told me “No” when it came to that one. I still remember the first time I got the okay to rent The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was a defining moment in my young, impressionable life. It also changed my life forever.
Up until that point I had not seen a lot of horror, and a lot of what I had seen was pretty straightforward stuff. Universal classics, 70s Hammer horror, and Roger Corman cheapies. I had no idea what I was getting into when I popped in the video tape after everyone else in the house had gone to bed.
This was the first movie that caught me by surprise. It blew me away. I had never seen anything like that before. The brutality and the stark tone set it apart from anything I had ever seen before. I remember rewinding and re-watching scenes over and over. For a movie with very little blood, it came across as one of the most gut-wrenching watches I had seen up until then.
That was the moment I knew that I wasn’t going to just be a fan of horror. I was going to be one of those “horror people”.
After that, I knew I had to seek out the other works of Mr. Hooper. I watched every single one I could find. Poltergeist and Salem’s Lot both left lasting impressions on me. The Fun House and Lifeforce were enjoyable and interesting. But nothing seemed to grab my attention with the same force as the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
It’s a fair bet that no movie will ever have the same impact on me as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And as much as I wanted to discuss how much I loved Poltergeist and The Apartment Complex, I really don’t think anything I could say will compare to how I feel about that one film.
Although I never met the man, I feel as though his contribution to entertainment helped shape who I am. His legend and legacy will live on in all of the filmmakers that continue to be inspired by his work.
Posted by Richard Francis in EDITORIALS, HORROR HEROES, 0 comments