Horror

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Tristan Takes Charge!

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk


Posted by Danni Winn in HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

Domiziano Cristopharo has been wowing audiences in his native Italy for years. So it’s a true pleasure that he is now taking the US by storm. Thanks to the 2018 release of the Director’s Cut Blu-ray of his 2012 film Red Krokodil, Domiziano reached a whole new audience. Red Krokodil chronicles the downward spiral of drug addiction and proves that Domiziano is no stranger to body horror.

Domiziano Cristopharo

His penchant for the grotesque is showcased in his work, and he doesn’t hold back, which is a real treat for those of us that prefer the more extreme end of the horror genre. As a fan who prefers foreign horror, I was honored to speak with Domiziano recently, and to find out what it is that fuels the man behind the lens, and to get a sneak peek at what he has in store for us.

Domiziano Cristopharo

House of Tortured Souls: I read that you’re often compared to Dario Argento and that you’re the first Italian director to revive the erotic/horror genre. How does it feel to be described that way?
Domiziano Cristopharo: Actually, I was recently even described – by a very kind critic – also like a “mix between the Fulci’s trilogy of hell and contemporary American horror” (and this is a comparison that really makes me feel proud to exist)… but I don’t know, I don’t see resemblances in my works, and I would love to be closer/similar just for a 10% to a master like Fulci or Bava.
HoTS: You made your first film, House of Flesh Mannequins, in 2009. What did you do before you got into film, and what inspired you to do it?
DC: I work in tv, stage and film industry by age of 14. My principal job till 20 was acting then I started professionally to realize fx make up, and write screenplays. My intention was to sell the script but was rejected for years in Italy ’cause the contents. So I tried to send it in USA and I was lucky: empire films produced it and gave me the direction of the movie too.
HoTS: Do you feel there is a difference between Italian horror filmmaking and American horror filmmaking?
DC: More than a difference, I see an abyss. I started in 2008 and I did more than 25 films ’till now (including collective projects and productions). In 2011 after my third film I quit work with Italy and Italians. This helped me to become more productive and find a really active market and a field where I get the chance to grow up as a person and as an artist. In Italy I had just two small distributions in those years, DVD of my films are still available only by import. No support at all and useless to mention the hate and rage that fill this field… Favorite sport of other directors and horror fan here is to create a shitstorm round people who have even a small success. Bad, bad, bad.

Domiziano Cristopharo

HoTS: A lot of your work can be described as extreme horror. What is it that attracts you to that part of the genre?
DC: I always loved to explore excesses, I think is useless to offer to an audience – especially as indie – something that already exists. But my concept of extreme is not related in blood, I don’t even use much of it in my films. Extreme is a feeling, is to dare, to show something forbidden, something not socially accepted, not only murders but evil thoughts, nasty actions, uncomfortable secrets. This is also what makes my lead roles so intense and in same time scares actors so much that I hardly find people to hire.
HoTS: You recently helped produced Sacrifice, one of the latest installments to the American Guinea Pig series. What are your thoughts on the rumors that viewers walked out of early screenings of the film due to content?
DC: Aren’t rumors at all. In France, during the “Sadique-master” (a festival dedicated to extreme movies) three people fainted and one puked. In Italy during the “optical theater festival”, a girl fainted and we needed more than 1 hour for reanimate her… Was scary. I’m very proud of SACRIFICE, is the first part of an extreme trilogy (second part is TORMENT by Adam Ford and XPIATION, just concluded, by me) may be the first extreme Italian series by decades. Biro caught the potential of those films and he wanted it so badly in the AGP saga.
HoTS: Poison Rouge was an actress in your first film, and she also directed Sacrifice. What made you want to collaborate with her again?
DC: She acted with me on stage first, we had a sideshow called BLOODY CABARET; then she played in many films: from the debut in FLESH MANNEQUINS to HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE and PHANTASMAGORIA. She also always helped me on set as assistant director.
SACRIFICE was in my thoughts written for a female role, but I had troubles with the actress…
So I asked Poison to replace her, and then finally I gave to her the direction of the movie.
HoTS: What’s your favorite scary movie?
DC: Dunno, I have many… I love classics… and for sure Carpenter, Fulci, Bava, Cronenberg… But also Polanski, Jodorowski, Lynch
Posted by Tiffany Blem in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW:  The Meg (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Meg (2018)

The Meg (2018) posterLet’s get this out of the way right now. Jaws is the best shark movie ever. Jaws has always been the best shark movie ever, and will forever be the yardstick by which all shark movies are judged.

With that being said, The Meg is no Jaws. Hell, it’s not even Sharknado.

The Meg is directed by Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenon, National Treasure) and stars Jason Statham (Ghosts of Mars, Crank, The Expendables), Bingbing Li (Resident Evil: Retribution, Guardians of the Tomb), Rainn Wilson (The Office</em>, House of 1000 Corpses, Super) and Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, xXx: Return of Xander Cage). It is based on a book written by Steve Alten called Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror.

The Meg (2018)I remember reading the first three books in the series some time ago, but I wouldn’t consider them “great” as I don’t really recall too much about them. The film itself had been in development hell for a number of years, and truthfully I’m kind of surprised it even got made at all.

The story centers around…does it really matter? A giant fucking shark. That’s all that matters. There’s a giant shark. It eats shit and fucks shit up. Isn’t that what really matters? You better say “YES!” to that question because if you want more than that you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

The film itself is abysmal. The acting is terrible. Some sequences make the film look like it was Frankensteined together from other films. Characters are never explored. The dialogue is trite and pointless. The story is predictable and so clichéd that there are no surprises or suspense.

The Meg (2018)At no point does the audience feel any sort of connection or empathy towards any of the characters. Except maybe the little girl, Meiying (played by Shuya Sophia Cai). We can relate to her because we too are just along for the ride with no real say as to what happens.

Too much time is spent brushing over all of these hollow, empty characters that it wastes precious time that could be spent watching a giant CGI shark fuck shit up.

As much as I love shark movies, I really can’t recommend this one. If you’ve seen the previews, you’ve seen all the best scenes. Save your money and wait for the next Sharknado film.

Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, NATURE STRIKES BACK, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: How It Ends (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: How It Ends (2018)

I have this nightmare about being separated from my loved ones who live thousands of miles away, by a sudden, catastrophic event. I’m pretty certain that my lack of survival skills and penchant for staying indoors at all time will do me in, and I would not survive the drive across country to save them from the perils of whatever is happening.

This brings us to How It Ends, a new Netflix Original written by Brooks McLaren and directed by David M. Rosenthal. It starts out innocent enough, introducing us to a young couple, Will Younger, played by Theo James of Divergent fame, and Samantha Sutherland, portrayed by The Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham. In flashbacks, we know they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first baby, but the big event at hand at this time, is Will’s dinner with Samantha’s parents in Chicago, by himself, while Samantha stays home in Seattle. “Just don’t bring up, the boat,” warns Samantha as Will prepares to leave on his trip.

How It Ends / IMDB

Dinner goes off how one would imagine, and we soon see Will in a video chat with Samantha. Suddenly there’s static, and the call is lost. This catapults both Will, and Samantha’s dad, Tom Sutherland (Forest Whitaker as amazing as always), into Tom’s silver Cadillac, and they set off in a race against time to Seattle to rescue Samantha from whatever is happening.

How It Ends / IMDB

And that’s all we learn. It’s ‘whatever is happening’. While the film isn’t without a few scares and some drama, there is little to no development of any kind outside of the characters. And that’s not even a lot of development either. We are introduced to a young, Native American woman, Ricki (Grace Dove from The Revenant) who fixes their car after an altercation with two deer and a questionable cop, and agrees to accompany the two men on their trip for $2,000 in exchange for car maintenance. But after a pretty dramatic incident involving stolen gas cans and a fire, Ricki takes off and is never referenced again. It’s the undeveloped moments like this that hold How It Ends back.

How It Ends / IMDB

There are some cool car maneuvers and some fun shooting with fantastic cinematography. However, none of that can save How It Ends from imploding on itself. It’s a fast watch that doesn’t feel the almost two hours it runs, but I would have gladly watched a longer film if it promised to not leave me thinking, ‘WTF?’

Posted by Tiffany Blem in FAMILY HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Danzig 30th Anniversary

Danzig 30th Anniversary

Here we are again, giving some news on the good ol’ Mr. Danzig. This time, we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of..uh..Danzig. The first album released 30 years ago was a pivotal point in the music industry. We all grew to love the Misfits and Samhain, this time though Danzig came to us with something completely different. Blackest of the black, darker than night, yes this album really did what Mr. Glenn always does and set a new standard for evil. He took punk into a new direction, took postpunk/goth and death rock into a new direction. So he said, “Fuck it, I’m going to use the Danzig name and we are going in this direction now”. Thusly we were gifted the first album, Danzig.
Danzig
Danzig has retired from the touring life but makes his appearance at random festivals and one-off shows here and there. Just to give a taste of the true lord of darkness that has warmed our hearts. The wonderful part of the Danzig scene is that the bands he has played with him are always vastly different from what you would think would be opening for such an act. This 30th anniversary is no different.

November 3rd, 2018, at the Five Points Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA, Danzig will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first record with a fine list of different acts. Punk Rock legends The Damned, Black metal originators Venom Inc. (bet someone got sued for the name..now they have to put the ” Inc” at the end),O.G. Psychobilly band The Meteors, Thrash Metal band Power Trip, and some band called Mutoid Man(no clue what the hell style they are playing). So as you can tell there is quite an array of musical enjoyment here guaranteed to please anyone.

Tickets go on sale: July 27th, 2018, so wake your asses up and get online to get these bad boys. Visit www.danzig-verotik.com for more details. In the meantime please enjoy these videos from all the bands playing this event. So you can understand what you’re getting yourself into.

Danzig:

The Damned:

Venom Inc:

The Meteors:

Power Trip:

Posted by Schock in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, 0 comments
UPDATE: Zombieland 2 (2019)

UPDATE: Zombieland 2 (2019)

Almost exactly ten years later we finally get to spend another day at Zombieland.

Zombieland 2 Update: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone in Zombieland (2009)

Sony announced that Zombieland 2 is happening. It will reunite Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone for another adventure. Though no plot has been “released”, it is rumored this film will send the team to the American Heartland. Meeting more evolved zombies than before and some other not so great survivors. All while learning to be the crazy patchwork family they are.

Zombieland 2 Update: Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland (2009)To recap the original Zombieland, this film came out in 2009 from director Ruben Fleischer, who is also bringing us the Marvel film Venom. It was a Zom-Com (zombie comedy) that followed a zombie apocalypse survivor named Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg. He traveled across the country to reach family and ran into some characters along the way. Meeting Tallahassee portrayed by Woody Harrelson first and then the beautiful Emma Stone as Wichita. The film has a great cameo that you have to watch to see, I won’t ruin it for you. Throughout the film, you also learn some great rules of the apocalypse from Columbus.

Zombieland 2 Update: Derek Graf in Zombieland (2009)

Back to the sequel. Both original writer, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese will be coming back to lend their expertise. These two helped with Deadpool and Deadpool 2 most recently. Slated to start production in January 2019, this long speculated sequel is finally raising from the grave. The tentative release will be October 2019, just in time for the Halloween season. Who’s bringing the Twinkies to the release party?

Zombieland 2 Update: Bill Murray in Zombieland (2009)Here’s to hoping that such a quick turnaround will produce a fun dedicated flick that won’t let us down.

Happy Nightmares!
ZombieGurl

Posted by ZombieGurl in EXCLUSIVE, FAMILY HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR NEWS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Hereditary (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Hereditary (2018)

HereditaryIn the new film, Hereditary, written and directed by Ari Aster, viewers are given a well-written, well-acted experience watching as a grieving family falls further into tragedy and terror. At first, Hereditary seems to be a psychological horror film, but Aster has done a phenomenal job in writing something that the viewer will sink into expecting it to go one way, and finding that it turns a different direction. Now, before I continue with my review, within the horror community, Hereditary has been receiving mixed reviews from it being fantastic to people being bored, these are my personal views, any problems with them feel free to discuss them with me. In addition, this review will have some spoilers.

Hereditary (2018)Back to the film… Toni Collette as Annie, delivers a masterful performance as a woman whose mother has passed away and while grieving, her young daughter brutally dies, having her head knocked off in a tragic car accident while her son is driving. Creating division in the family and leading to Annie hating her son, for a moment the film feels as if it has fallen into the drama category of a family coping with loss, but then Annie meets a woman, who has also lost a loved one (her grandson) and been reunited with him through séances. At first terrified, Annie quickly decides to try it out herself in an attempt to reconnect with her lost daughter Charlie. This is where the film takes another turn, shifting rather well I might add, to a supernatural horror film with some Rosemary’s Baby-esque elements to it.

Hereditary (2018)So as to not ruin what I found to be a spectacular ending, I’ll be stopping with these final remarks. Toni Collette was beautifully haunting throughout the film, as a bereaved mother her desperation was clear and her inability to get past the accident incredibly convincing. Surrounded by a fantastic cast and with phenomenal writing that has me wanting to watch the film again to see what I missed, I highly recommend it. However, as said above, the film is not for everyone, some will not enjoy it, but just because some people don’t like it does not mean you shouldn’t give it a chance.
Hereditary (2018)

Posted by Spencer Evatt in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, THRILLER, 0 comments
International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus (2018)
Directed By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Written By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Starring: Deniz Turku, Berfin Batir, Elfif Gonen
Country: Turkey

International Screams showcases shorts and features from around the globe and helps you discover exciting new talents. This month we have a short from up-and-coming writer/director Berk Büyükbingöl.

Birth of Venus (2018)Birth of Venus tells the story of two sisters who survive a horrific car crash and struggle with the psychological effects that come with it. But what bloody lengths are they willing to go for the sake of beauty?

Discovering a really solid short is always exciting and something that makes my job as a journalist fulfilling. Berk infuses his short with plenty of morbid nightmare-like images and some pretty palpable scares. He does this by focusing on the technical side of things, and it’s clear that he really knows how to not only fill his frame for maximum frightful effect but also to slyly misdirect, leading to some nice jump scares. He also really knows how to put together, and the editing is on point. This is most evident in the surgery scene.

Birth of Venus (2018)

Giving the film the bulk of its mood is the stark black and white photography. Believe it or not, this is not an easy medium to work in as one might think; however, he does it extremely well, and the end result is a dread-filled fever dream. Büyükbingöl isn’t afraid to go into the surreal; for example, the strange dance sequence is pure Lynchian at its finest. If I had to raise a complaint it would be that, even though this is a freer formed narrative, I feel like the story gets lost and certain plot elements could have been a bit clearer.

When asked what inspirations he drew for this project, Büyükbingöl had this to say:

Mainly the black and white French Horror film Eyes Without a Face inspired me to do it. I tried to mix [The] Texas Chainsaw Massacre with it as well. How far you can go to make your most beloved relative happy? This is the question I asked myself when making it.

Despite a few story issues, Birth of Venus is a creative and visually interesting horror short by a talented filmmaker which most certainly has a future in the industry.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: Review of Ritual by JXV & Interview with Rikk R’Treat

EXCLUSIVE: Review of Ritual by JXV & Interview with Rikk R’Treat

JXV Ritual Album Art, courtesy of JXV

I’m no stranger to the world of underground metal, punk and hardcore. When I listened to and reviewed the last JXV record (formerly known as Jason X Voorhees) record Horror Edge, I was excited by that album. You can view that review here: Jason X Voorhees: Horror Edge.

With the sophomore and, sad to say, final album for JXV, I was not only excited to hear it, but Rikk reached out during the recording process. I was honored to be able to throw out opinions and just hear what was going on during the production of the album.

This new record Ritual has really got me thinking that there is hope for the underground music world after all. There are some better-known acts out there touring and playing festivals, which is fine and ultra cool, but we can’t forget that some festivals are specific to particular areas. Those of us whom cannot get to them have to rely on the underground local scene to get us by. JXV, hailing from San Diego, California, is far from local for me, but for their area and for music lovers in general, they’re worth seeking out. This is a hardcore band that has 98 members…okay, six members, but they really complement each other perfectly with each vocal style betwixt the two vocalists as well as having two guitarists, bass, and drums. Each person compliments the other perfectly. Ritual, truly shows how they take from each other and throw it in the recipe for a perfect blend of every influence.

The album opens up with a title track “Ritual”, with a super ominous and creepy tone that sets the pace for the whole record, even some keys up in this to give that overall ultra horror sound. Track number two we get into “Trick x Treat”, which the band recently released as a single accompanied by a music video (see below). This song definitely is a perfect way to introduce everyone to what they’re getting into. This track alone gives us metal, hardcore, and horror punk. Literally, everything you need for a good song, right here. I’ve been telling everyone I come across; “This song, “Trick x Treat”, is the perfect song”. So if you’re going to get into this band, this song is out right now and the video below will give you the taste of perfection. Slide from this into “False Patriots”. My damn god this track also. I don’t know how to get into this except, if you’re a metal fan and like to slam hard, this is the shit right here.

The following track is “Devil’s Night”, a gang-style Hardcore/Horror Punk number with a lot of spooky to it but also gives us some upbeat vibe. The track features vxDEDxv, a fellow straight edge rapper. I think this track will make you all very happy as well. Then we have “Bath Salt Zombies”. I’m not sucking dick here because JXV and myself are in this horror edge game. I am actually truly passionate about this album. We all know, even if we are homies, I’ll tell you if it isn’t good, but this song is probably my favorite on this whole album. Punk as fuck and fast break your neck thrashin’ shit, another track featuring a straight edge rapper SE Frank. The last three songs are pretty awesome, too. “Living Dead” is pure PUNK ROCK with two minutes of circle pit action. “From the Plague We Come to an End” — solid black metal meshed with beatdown hardcore like goddamn..what are they doing? The mix of genres is insane yet put in these songs with perfection. Finally, the last track, “Noose”, is a great way to end the album. JXV gives us the hardcore breakdown for most of the song and signs off beautifully.

I know I said it four million times, but this record is solid from start to finish — heavy, fast, and diverse with the different genres that are portrayed in each song. I strongly believe if you’re more a fan of any metal, punk, or hardcore, this album will please you and may spawn some interest in whatever isn’t your main listening pleasure. Each member really shined through on this album, and the influence is there in each song.

Unfortunately, JXV has decided to call it quits after this record, life gets in the way of art sometimes, and unfortunately, that is the case here. I’ll say this though: this band has not only been great colleagues in the horror, straight edge and music areas of life for myself and many others. They have been great friends as well. We all share the same passions for music and life, and I’m honored that I’ve had the chance to befriend this group and hear their music — music that has PROVEN it’s not just, “Hey we’re a hardcore band”. No, this is a band that has taken every inch of what they love and placed it into this record and has shown that the underground still has acts out there that need to be heard. In true DIY fashion, this band has set out to prove something even if they didn’t know they were doing it. I wish them all the best of luck on future endeavors and I know if they each put the type of heart and soul that this record has then whatever they do it’ll be just as amazing.

RITUAL Will be released July 6, 2018, SO BE READY TO GET THIS ALBUM! YOU WILL NEED THIS IN YOUR COLLECTION! Please check out JXV on bandcamp as well as Optimist/Pessimist Records all of which can be found at the end of the interview with Rikk R’ Treat, drummer of JXV.

JXV Ritual Band Photo : Courtesy of JXV

House of Tortured Souls: When you guys started JXV what was the intent, or sound that you were going for with the band?
Rikk: When I originally came up with the idea for JXV, I had just discovered The Jasons, and although I enjoy them, at the moment I wanted to find something heavier in the horror scene. I also watched Freddy vs Jason that night and realized that JASONxVOORHEES would be a rad heavy straight edge band name…sometime after that I began writing our first song “Immortality Rates”. Oddly enough, at the time I wanted the band to sound like early Aiden, My Chemical Romance, and Atreyu — horror punk based but a bit more aggressive. Obviously, that didn’t exactly happen. After Drink Blood Not Booze came out, Callen, Devon, and I began looking for committed band members. Once Lalo joined/ we wrote the music for lyrics I had written for a song called “HxC” (“Human Centipede”) and then began to work on other songs off of our album Horror Edge. We had troubles with our original bassist but eventually got Jacob on bass, who has been involved in the band since before we released Horror Edge. After over a year of playing as a five-piece, we added out second guitarist, Yako, who helped us get to where we are now sonically. As a six-piece, we have been able to add more “beef” to our old songs and push ourselves to write heavier songs for the new record.
HoTS: Horror Edge was a great album. Did you find it hard trying to market the music and style within the horror punk scene?
Rikk: Thank you. I think overall JXV has been hard to market. Horror punks don’t always get the heavy vocals, and hardcore or metalcore kids don’t understand the horror part. Unfortunately, I’ve often heard about how incoherent we are, but I never understood that because to us it all makes sense together. Sure, surf and death metal don’t mix often, but why not experiment?
HoTS: Your influences are vast across the board. Does the rest of the band share these common influences?
Rikk: As you can hear in our music, our influences vary quite a bit. I think we all overlap in certain places but not in other spots. If you knew our specific influences you’d be able to tell which songs were written by whom on Ritual.
HoTS: This album Ritual is produced perfectly. How long did it take to record this album?
Rikk: We began recording drums in November and finished all mixing and mastering in early June. So quite a while. This was mainly because we hadn’t finished writing all tracks when we started recording, and we all had very different schedules to work around to get into the studio.
HoTS: Was there any clashing of ideas when writing/recording the record?
Rikk: I wouldn’t say there were major clashes while writing, however, it has been more difficult for us to write music off the cuff as a “jam”. A good portion of our music has usually been written and structured before we meet to hash it out with instruments. The songs that were more free-form usually took the longest but, regardless, still came out great.
HoTS: The collaborations with fellow straight edge rappers. How did this come to pass and did you feel this was a bold move within the genre of horror/hardcore?
Rikk: A number of us have always loved nu-metal bands like Linkin Park and Korn. A lot of us also really love hip-hop. I have a lot of respect and love for my edge brothers SE Frank and vxDEDxv, who have both been big supporters of JXV. I had been in talks with them about working on something together, so all it took was finding the right songs they could fit on. As far as the particular genre, I rarely hear rap involved in horror, but traditional hardcore and hip-hop seem to flow together often so it just made sense to us.
HoTS: The song “Trick x Treat” is the single you chose to release. Why is that?
Rikk: “Trick x Treat” was the second song written for this record. I was very inspired by it to draw some artwork, so it was in part because I put a lot of work into the cover art. Once the whole record was written, it ended up being the track that mixed both the heaviness that half the album has with the campy horror that the other half has. So it’s a good representation of the full record.
HoTS: How did you guys find the balance when writing? By this I mean, each track is blended perfectly with punk, hardcore, metal, even rap/hip-hop.
Rikk: We didn’t really think much about the balance of sounds; we just wrote and structured what made sense to us. One may likely argue that none of the album is balanced at all, but to each his own, right?
HoTS: What spawned the idea to call it quits after this final show in July?
Rikk: As mentioned earlier, it is hard to match schedules in a six-person band. For some of us, it also just seemed like time to shift focus on other things. It’s been great working together with my bandmates, and I love them all, but we have to be sensitive to the needs of each member – even if that means we aren’t going to be playing anymore.
HoTS: What’s on the plate for each of you after the finale?
Rikk: Most of us have projects in the works. Once they are finalized or official we’ll share more! From what I know Yako, Devon, and Jake are each hoping to start heavy bands, respectively. Lalo has plans to start an indie project and I will be continuing to play in The Writhers for the rest of the year. As of right now, Callen does not have any musical plans, but when he does we will be supportive of his goals.
HoTS: Anything you want to share with the readers? Words of wisdom?
Rikk: In the immortal words of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other.” We in JXV have always appreciated all and any support we have been given and will continue to be grateful well after we’re done. Also please be on the lookout for our album Ritual to be released in July!
HoTS: Even as homies within the scene of edge, horror, hardcore. Being a musician myself we together have made our music with a heavier tone and yet still pimped hard to a scene that doesn’t really have a lot of bands that dare try D/C tuning or metal vocals, so sharing all this with you all and being hardgore/horror edge brothers has been a true honor. I want to say thank you for everything you have done with Optimist/Pessimist records, and for sharing JXV with the world. Believe it or not, you guys’ music has inspired me to just keep doing what I do, and I’m positive once people hear Ritual they’re going to want more, and if you’re not playing out. They’ll have to make their own music, so the inspiration is definitely there and going to spawn a new generation of horror music.
Rikk: Thanks, man, I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us. You have been a huge help and your support has been a motivation to keep going. I don’t mind if people don’t go out and spawn new horror music – however, I do really hope people will listen to the album and try to understand our vision.

“Trick x Treat” video:

Posted by Schock in Categories, INTERVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, VIDEOS, 0 comments
HoTS Exclusive Review: The Fear Footage (2018)

HoTS Exclusive Review: The Fear Footage (2018)

I had a chance to view a new film called The Fear Footage. The film starts off as footage found on the body camera of Deputy Cole. It says that on April 19, 2016, the Darkbluff County Sheriff’s Department received calls from residents on Hanmanor Road. One of the houses had been demolished a year prior. It has now reappeared mysteriously. Deputy Cole was sent and never seen from again. Viewers are urged to call the Sheriff’s Department if they have info on the footage or Deputy Cole’s whereabouts.

That is the lead-in for the film. The movie uses a lost art form of first person point of view (POV). We see the film from Deputy Cole’s vantage point as he goes into the house. He now has his gun drawn and is looking for anything suspicious.

Deputy Cole finds a VHS cassette title Fear Footage and puts it into the VCR. He plays the tape and views several segments from different people who are taping moments in their lives. One is a boy who is getting ready for his birthday party. The next is a group of storm chasers. The third and final is a man who is hearing strange sounds from the woods and is trying to document them. Not all shots are first person, but 90% of the film is presented in that manner.

There is a moment that is key. Between two of the segments, the Deputy finds a diary in the house with some disturbing entries. They revolve around the writer finding a tape and its effects on her.

What works in The Fear Footage is the effect for the VHS. You see the grainy “snow” effect that happens when you watch an old VHS cassette. Also, the film seems less like a movie and more like a found footage tape. With almost everything in first person, you can only see from one viewpoint. The advantage is you can’t see around corners and can’t see any potential surprises until they happen.

The knock on this film will be that it is a lot like The Blair Witch Project because it uses the first person, single camera POV. However, any film that uses that approach will draw a comparison to The Blair Witch Project. The main difference between the two is there is far less camera movement in The Fear Footage. For those who got motion sickness or migraines while watching The Blair Witch Project, you won’t feel that with this film.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this is that it uses little special effects. It gives you some good scare moments without using thousands of dollars on effects to do so. This makes it seem like it is more of a real footage tape than a movie.

There are slow parts to this film, but it is almost necessary. There are also some nice surprises and moments that, if watching in the dark, will give you a good jolt.

Viewers who watch The Fear Footage must decide if the house or the videotape is causing the things we see. Overall, this is a very entertaining film that will make you think. You will try to anticipate what may come… it’s not always the case. And what did happen to Deputy Cole? And how did the house mysteriously appear after its demolition? Those questions, you will have to answer on your own!

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in COMING SOON, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Incident in a Ghostland (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Incident in a Ghostland (2018) [SPOILERS]

I had the opportunity to watch Incident in a Ghostland by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs director) last night. It has been my most anticipated movie release of the year. I had to wait a full 24 hours before doing the review in hopes that my opinion would change, but it’s with a very heavy heart that I sadly report I didn’t like it.

Crystal Reed in Incident in a Ghostland (2018)
I suppose it’s important to point out several things before we get into it.

First, it’s not Martyrs, it’s not even on the same planet as Martyrs and if you’re expecting Martyrs quality you will be even more disappointed than I was. I went in with the expectation that it wouldn’t be Martyrs and still felt robbed. It’s hard to lower your expectations when you know what the director is capable of.

It’s not extreme, and it’s not French. It isn’t graphic enough to be extreme and the few words of French spoken are dismissed. Good news for those of you who hate subtitles.

It’s a good horror movie, it’s not great. It’s nothing fresh and nothing to write home about.

One thing I did really like was the tributes to H.P. Lovecraft and Canadian author Nick Cutter. There were a few fun literary Easter eggs hidden throughout the film that I enjoyed. I also enjoyed Mylene Farmer’s performance.

Mylène Farmer in Incident in a Ghostland (2018)

The movie is about two sisters Beth (Emilia Jones) and Vera (Taylor Hickson) and their mother (Mylene Farmer) who, after the death of their aunt, are moving into her country home. Beth is an aspiring writer who loves H.P. Lovecraft, and Vera is a bit jealous of her writing and her relationship with their mother.

A quick foreshadowing in the form of a newspaper article is given about a serial killer on the loose – a serial killer who murders parents and keeps the children. As the family is on their way to the new home, they encounter a candy truck on the road with menacing individuals inside, but they brush it off. Later that night, their home is invaded by the candy truck drivers, but the trio prevails and thwarts their attackers.

Fast forward to years later and we find Beth (Crystal Reed) in her home with her husband and child now a successful writer. She receives a distressing call from her sister Vera (Anastasia Phillips) and decides to head back to the country home where her mother and sister still live. Vera, unable to cope with the attack, has gone crazy and locks herself in the basement most of the time, and their mother has turned to drink. The big “twist’ is revealed shortly after making the movie marginally better and bearable until the predictable happy ending.

Emilia Jones and Taylor Hickson in Incident in a Ghostland (2018)

You can expect lots of jump scares, “scary” dolls, nods to Rob Zombie and other fanboy tributes and clichés in this one. You won’t, however, find anything truly original or up to the standard that Pascal Laugier is capable of. In my opinion, Laugier is brilliant and Martyrs is God tier filmmaking, and it’s my hope that this film is not what we can expect from him in the future.

2/5 disappointed shocks for this film

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EXTREME REVIEW: Doll Syndrome (2014) [Minor Spoilers]

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Spencer Evatt in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

So we all know Ash vs Evil Dead was canceled recently and that star Bruce Campbell lashed out against those who were illegally downloading the show. Unfortunately, pirating movies and TV shows has gone deeper than that, and it has made life for filmmakers even more challenging.

RIP Ash vs Evil Dead

Now let me start off by saying I am not here to get into an ethics battle with anyone. I would hope that anyone reading this can tell the difference between right and wrong and that pirating is stealing. What I have seen on social media recently, however, is a bit troubling.

Being in the infant stages of my own filmmaking career, I have faced the number one challenge that can stop many inspired writers and directors dead in their tracks…funding. Getting someone to believe in your project as much you as do is impossible, but getting them to believe in you can be done if you are passionate enough and have a great pitch.

The problem, however, is that investors want to see projections for how fast they will get their investment back and also a profit — especially with horror. So a good sales deck will show how similar titles fared in box office, VoD, and DVD sales. This is where filmmakers can face a battle against which they cannot properly defend themselves. Numbers in the sense of dollars can be deflated because advances in technology enable people with better and faster ways to steal movies and TV shows and, in some cases, profit from doing so.

I don’t know if the numbers are in fact true that Ash vs Evil Dead was the most illegally downloaded show of all time. I think it is very plausible. Here are couple examples of actual horror stories I’ve seen from people and tell you the effect it has had on them.

There is a filmmaker who made a zombie film starring Tony Todd that was released last year. DVD sales were not what was projected or even safely targeted. This filmmaker was informed that his movie was uploaded to YouTube and had been watched over 300,000 times. Even if he made no sales and had only VoD rentals, that still would have generated over $1,500,000 in those rentals. But that’s not what happened.

The general reaction when the filmmaker took to social media to express his frustration only added insult to injury. The reactions were almost as bad as the thefts themselves.

At least your film was watched 300,000 times.
Be glad people like your film enough to watch it.

Anyone who lives in a city larger than 100,000 people has some sort of outlet mall, flea market, dirt mall, etc. I have yet to see one where 3-4 “vendors” were not selling $3-$5 films they had downloaded and burned to DVD. These include films that had just been released in theaters. These people are profiting from someone else’s work. What’s worse is that the people buying them are enabling it to continue.

What’s the point of all of this? Indie filmmakers (especially in horror) clear enough hurdles just to get a film made. Many people who sell and watch these films may think that Hollywood has enough money and they’re not hurting anyone. But it’s the people who are trying to break into the business and the Indie filmmakers who want to make something a little different who are suffering.

What can you do? That’s a good question.

For starters, these thieves hocking illegally downloaded movies need to be shut down. The next thing you can do is show support for the movies you love. Attend a con and tell the stars how much you enjoyed the movie. Subscribe to a page or blog, follow House of Tortured Souls (cheap plug, but I saw my shot). Keep the horror voice alive.

Crypt Keeper Clint with Joe Bob Briggs

These little things can keep the shows we love on the air. They will also let the world know that we horror fans have a strong voice and WILL be heard. Want proof? Through a social media campaign, Joe Bob Briggs asked his supporters to send videos to Shudder. They asked Shudder to bring him back. Joe Bob returns June 22nd for a 24-hour marathon. That was due to all of those fan videos creating a demand that Shudder couldn’t ignore.

Never underestimate the power of your own voice and don’t hurt what you love by stealing to save $10-$20.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Death-Scort Service (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Death-Scort Service (2015)

In Death-Scort Service, written by Chris Woods and Sean Donohue, and directed by Donohue as well, we are introduced to a delightful exploitative horror flick with enough blood, guts, and boobs to make any viewer rather pleased. I know that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire film and all of its gory fun. Death-Scort Service is well-written with a rather surprising twist ending that I won’t spoil for anyone, but I can say that the ending itself took me by surprise. Filled with various brutal killings, each of which was rather ingenious in their sadism and brutality, Death-Scort Service really delivers.Death-Scort Service

Death-Scort Service tells the story of some prostitutes who begin to realize that there’s a “john” calling girls to meet — girls he then brutally murders before mutilating their corpses. To say that it is a gory film would be an understatement. The blood flows in a delightfully liberal way that makes any gorehound overjoyed. In addition, the extreme levels of nudity help to give a fantastic exploitative feeling that any fan of exploitation or grindhouse will love. There’s almost as much nudity as there is blood and gore. Woods and Donohue even incorporated some rather comical moments that drew some chuckles out of me.

Concerning the extreme brutality, one scene, in particular, was ingrained into my mind, a scene that I found to be delightfully sadistic. In fact, it made the little sadist in me very intrigued. Tying one of the victims down, the killer spread the woman naked legs and arms wide open. Going away for a moment, the killer returns with a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire. Taking brutality to another level, the killer proceeds to use this weapon as a dildo upon his victim. I’ll let everyone use their imaginations there and encourage you to watch the film if you love gory exploitation films full of nonstop nudity, sex, and gore.Death-Scort Service

While this film is not for the faint of heart, I will say that any gorehound would love it. Death-Scort Service is a fun, well-written piece of exploitative horror and if you’re a fan of that sort of film, then all I can say is watch it, you won’t be disappointed. I appreciate Chris Woods providing me with a screening copy of it and the sequel. I will be reviewing the second Death-Scort soon, and right now Chris Woods is working on getting funding together for Taste Me: Death-Scort Service Part 3. In fact, there is still time left to buy into the Indiegogo campaign, and I highly encourage you to support Chris and his team if you have some extra money. Don’t just watch his next Indie exploitation flick, be a part of bringing it to production!

Death-Scort Service

Posted by Spencer Evatt in GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
About Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday

About Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday

ESSEN-77 media releases the promo video/trailer for director Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday.

The promo video/trailer is a prequel ultrashort that segues into a montage of images from the 17-minute short film. The film is already being celebrated by critics, journalists, film historians and those who look for cutting-edge experiences with teeth.

Stephen Nemeth (camera, American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock) wrote, produced, photographed, directed, composed/ performed the score and created the special effects. Nemeth also appears in a cameo as the Devil’s Advocate in the prequel ultrashort portion of the promo video/trailer. Black Friday promises to pose questions instead of answers and challenges the audiences to think for themselves about the extreme behaviors onscreen.

Stephen Nemeth was camera/second cinematographer for American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock, the second installment of the American reboot of the famous Japanese extreme horror franchise, the Guinea Pig series, and created the Behind the Scenes of Bloodshock feature-length documentary on the three-disc collectors’ edition release from Unearthed Films. In 2013, Nemeth directed the Locus series of metaphysical stalker thriller shorts and the home invading/domestic violence short Deathlust (2014). Recently he wrote, directed, and shot the music video for Chris Sullivan’s “By The Light Of Radio”, a nostalgic throwback to a simpler magical time where the radio tuner dial illuminated the bedrooms of youngsters exposing them to the sounds of 70s and 80s rock and roll artists like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

He also currently appears onscreen with Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club) and Peter Hedges ( novelist/ screenwriter, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) in Little Sister, streaming on Netflix and available on Blu-Ray from Kino/Lorber.

Keep an eye out for Stephen Nemeth’s Black Friday, and let House of Tortured Souls know what you think.

Stephen Nemeth's Black Friday (2018)

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, PRESS RELEASE, 0 comments
INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) posterI recently had the pleasure of seeing Flowers by Phil Stevens. It was such an amazing and beautiful film that I decided to reach out to the director and tell him how much I enjoyed it. To my surprise, Phil Stevens turned out to be one of the nicest, coolest, down to earth guys. I was delighted to learn of his plans to make a sequel to Flowers, simply called Flowers 02. He also graciously agreed to do this interview and give us an exclusive look at his new project.

Phil Stevens Interview

House of Tortured Souls: First off, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of Flowers and really excited to talk to you about your latest project. What type of film can we expect? Do you think it will be more extreme or more artistic than the last?
Phil Stevens: Extreme is too broad a category, I mean of course yes it will be extreme but it’s more of a survival horror where everyone is being attacked by something. I actually didn’t think I was making an extreme film when I made Flowers. I thought the complete opposite. When Flowers came out, I thought people were going to be like, “Here’s this guy with his artsy movie called Flowers“. It turned out to be this surreal horror that people seemed to really enjoy. The last word I ever expected to read describing my film was “beautiful”, but it seems to come up in every single review about the movie.
PS: In Flowers, the house itself was the enemy almost. But in Flowers 02, not only is it the house, but there are entities in all the rooms –sometimes more than one. It’s all leading to this grand finale involving the killer and all his misdeeds. We’ll get a backstory and more of a look at his life. There will be new rooms with new themes and sort of a past, present, and future look at the killer. My favorite movie of all time is Day of the Dead, and I always wanted to make a zombie film, but I wanted to do it in my own way. Finally, in this we get to do that, and it’s so fun.

HoTS: That all sounds awesome! Why did you choose Indie and underground filmmaking rather than mainstream?
PS: I spent most of my life drawing and painting. I started drawing my own comics, and then I discovered the Beta-max camera and started making films for myself. Drawing is my first love, I don’t want a career in filmmaking; I see it as a hobby, a really expensive hobby. I’m a fan of Indie films myself and knew that it was only natural that I would go that route. I think that everyone who makes movies would like to think that one day they’ll go to Hollywood and make a big epic movie with a budget. That’s the real dream having a budget.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) title card

HoTS: I understand that for an Indie director, getting funding is always an issue. You’ve started a crowdfunding campaign, correct? Maybe you could tell our readers a bit about that and how they can contribute.
PS: Crowdfunding is a big deal because you’re giving us the means to make a movie that we otherwise would not be able to make. It’s been tougher to get funding in the last few years because either fans don’t know about it or they’ve been screwed over in the past by other directors.
PS: My job is making and selling art. I’m actually on disability from an accident that happened when I was 10. I fell out of a tree, and now I have soft neurological brain damage so I can’t have a regular 9-5 job. I spend a lot of time drawing and painting and doing commissions. I grew up with severe agoraphobia, crowds give me severe anxiety, which is another reason making movies is so important to me because it gives me a chance to work in a group environment while doing something I love.
PS: Here is the link to the Flowers 02 crowdfunding campaign. Even a 5$ contribution will get you some really cool exclusive swag!
HoTS: So how does one get a piece of your artwork?
PS: My Facebook page Manomatul Art or my website Insomnia Collectibles, and I’m also on deviant art.
HoTS: All of the actors/actresses in Flowers were amazing. Will we see any familiar faces in the sequel?
PS: Yes! You actually will see some returning Flowers in a subplot of Flowers 02. Absolutely. You’re going to see some of them, but I can’t reveal who yet.
HoTS: It’s my understanding you used your home in the first film… what was that like?
PS: Using my own home to make Flowers was a blessing and an absolute nightmare. We scouted a lot of warehouses, and they were all in really bad neighborhoods. We just didn’t feel safe having our equipment there. We decided the next best thing and the safest thing was our house. I hated it, there was so much debris and equipment everywhere. My wife (Colette Kenny Mckenna) and I lived an entire summer in that. I actually spent my 30th birthday inside the dining room set, it was surreal. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in a while would come over and a say, “This is absolutely insane. What are you doing?” My wife and I both ended up with really bad respiratory infections from the room with all the gouged out drywall. We were constantly breathing it in for three months, and we got really sick.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) writing on the wall

HoTS: Do you do your own practical fx?
PS: Yes, I used to more but with Flowers, it was an all hands on deck kind of thing and my wife and I did months of fx testing. We found some great local talent. My wife, Krystle Fitch, and Anastasia Blue did the fx and also acted in the movie.
HoTS: Do you have a dream location if money were no object?
PS: Actually yeah, I don’t know where that location is but I know what it looks like. The whole reason I wanted to make Flowers 02 was it’s supposed to fund my next film, Paradise, which is the serial killer’s hell kind of. I want it to involve a lot of ocean and beach sequences, stuff you don’t tend to see in an underground film. I’ve been working on it for three years, and it’s probably going to be my swan song film. The first film is purgatory, the next is hell, and the last one is paradise. That will be the last movie I do, and Flowers 02 is the way to get there.
HoTS: Do you have any directors who inspire you?
PS: I’m inspired by Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man). I’m a huge, huge fan of Asian cinema in general, so Takashi Miike (Audition) obviously and Kim Ki-duk (The Isle). What inspires me about Kim Ki-duk is that he doesn’t use many words, and his main characters don’t talk but everyone around them always does. I love all things artistic, I loved Andrey Iskanovs’ Nails so much. I also like Akira Kurosawa, his movies are beautiful; the cinematography is incredible and his movies top movies that are made to this day. A lot of my inspiration comes from Asian cinema.
HoTS: I just want to take this opportunity again to thank you and say what a fun time I’ve had talking with you today. I wish you the best of luck with Flowers 02 and can’t wait to see it.
PS: Thank you. I had fun today, too!

Flowers 02 Crowdfunding on the Web

Check out the fundraiser video on contributing to Flowers 02. Then click the link below to donate!

Phil Stevens on the Web

Posted by Candace Stone in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Phil Stevens’ Lung II (2016) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Phil Stevens’ Lung II (2016) [SPOILERS]

Lung II by Phil Stevens was one of the weirdest little indie films I’ve ever seen with a Lynch/Cronenberg vibe throughout. I really enjoyed it.

A follow up to Flowers, Lung II was a continuation of the same theme. Phil Stevens said that “after the trauma of making Flowers, it was something he needed to do for therapeutic reasons”. The film is in black and white (I’m hoping a color version exists somewhere in the underground) and like Flowers has no dialogue. It’s also a dreamy artistic vision except for a lot more bizarre. Flowers was a cathartic pilgrimage through purgatory for the female murder victims of a serial killer and Lung II was the killer’s slow journey into insanity.

Throughout the film, we follow a serial killer (played by Stevens himself) as he slowly awakens and comes to realize what he’s done through flashbacks and the discovery of a body trail. During his travels, he comes across no shortage of corpses and weird Freudian Lynch monsters.

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

Lung II works its way backward going from body to body. It starts out in what appears to be a psych ward with a naked dude (Phil Stevens) on the floor. If you’ve ever had the urge to see Phil Stevens naked here’s your chance ladies and gentlemen! He sort of fumbles out into the woods where he comes across his future self, disposing of bodies. He continues to stumble along from gory crime scene to crime scene sometimes finding bodies sometimes finding these bizarre blobby sex monsters. My personal favorite is the half dick half vag monster that he finger-bangs until it sprays blood. In a few scenes, he pulls glass out of various cuts and you might be thinking what’s the deal with the glass? Don’t worry; all will become clear soon. I found the part where he was pulling glass out of his foot particularly uncomfortable, but I kind of have an anti-foot fetish and can’t stand foot injuries.

After a hard day of self-realization, the last stop or last flashback is at his own home. He arrives home after a long day at work (presumably) to find his wife in bed with another woman, he loses his shit and kills them both with a baseball bat before he has a chance to consider consequences. Something in him snaps while he’s sitting there sniffing their panties. He tries to commit suicide by dropping a tv on his head (this is where the glass comes from!) but fails and from this point on he loses his humanity piece by piece.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The Best of Miike: Gozu (2003)

The Best of Miike: Gozu (2003)

For my Best of Takashi Miike series, I’m going to start with Gozu. I want to say it’s my favorite film of his, but I’m not sure that it’s even possible to have just one favorite with him. Every time I think I have it nailed down, I watch another one of his films and think, ‘no this is my favorite’. And then the next film I think the same thing.

Gozu’s original Japanese title Gokudo Kyofu dai-gekijo:Gozu translates to Yakuza Horror Theatre; Cows Head. There is no shortage of bizarre cow and milk-related scenarios in this one and as the cover of the film suggests, there is, in fact, a man in tightie whities with a gigantic cow head and a rather large and slimy tongue. I honestly could have watched an entire movie about the cow head dude but unfortunately, he only got about a minute of screen time. In that sense the film was misleading but it was bang on in the bizarre department.

Takasi Miike's Gozu (2003)

The film starts out by introducing us to Ozaki (Show Aikawa), a Yakuza member that has seemingly developed some sort of dementia, believing that small animals and inanimate objects etc. are trained Yakuza killers. Minami (Kimika Yoshino) is asked to take his Yakuza brother Ozaki on a little trip and kill him before he causes further embarrassment. During the trip, they hit a little bump in the road while driving and Ozaki is killed. A panicked Minami heads into a restaurant to seek help and when he returns to his car, Ozaki’s body is missing. After searching all day for the body and still coming up empty, Minami ends up at the Masakazu Inn, a sort of Japanese version of Motel Hell. The Inn is run by a brother and sister with a whole host of their own issues, and it’s from this point on that describing the film becomes an exercise in futility. The events that follow can’t be put into words. I will tell you that you can expect to see sexual misconduct involving a lactating old woman, a séance, a talking pussy, an awkward sex scene between brothers and the piece de resistance: the graphic birth of a grown man from a tiny 100-pound Japanese woman.

All of Miike’s films have an identifiable style and can tend to be on the slow side. Gozu is no exception, it requires patience and a love of film. Miike won’t be rushed while telling his story because perfection takes time.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Savageland (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Savageland (2015)

Zombie movies are never really about zombies. At least the good ones aren’t. There’s always some social or political message being conveyed, and Savageland is no exception. At its heart, it’s more of a social statement about immigration and bigotry than a horror film, but we’re going to overlook the message and focus on the horror.

Savageland presents itself as a documentary about a small southwestern town that is virtually wiped out overnight. The story follows a photographer accused of mass murder and is told and illustrated by the pictures he took on the night in question.

The use of still photography adds a certain creepy element to the film, which probably couldn’t have been achieved if they had gone with the found footage format. In addition, the pictures themselves are quite eerie and haunting. Another benefit of using photos as opposed to film is that there is no poorly done CGI that seems to be rampant in the lower budget horror films.

Savageland (2015)The documentary style leaves a bit to be desired as it feels a bit more polished than it probably should, and the story starts out a bit confusing. However, once it gets rolling, it’s a pretty solid film, and the still photos are not overused, which leaves the viewer wanting to see more.

My only real issue with Savageland is that several characters are over the top caricatures of Southern rednecks and “bleeding heart liberals”. Now, I’m sure that people like that really exist, but both of those tropes are vastly overused, in my opinion.

I recommend Savageland to anyone looking for something a little different in the horror genre. If you like the found footage films, you’ll probably find Savageland worth watching, as it falls along those lines. If you don’t like the found footage films, you might still enjoy it, as there isn’t much in the “shaky cam” department.

Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, ZOMBIES, 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