House of Tortured Souls

Shogun’s Sadism (1976) by Yuji Makiguchi is a really fun, Japanese, exploitation, period piece.

First, let me just tip my hat to the Japanese on their unparalleled ability to torture and cause human suffering, no one does it better than Japan.

Shogun’s Sadism starts with old stock footage of war atrocities and the first shot is of a girl being boiled alive… it doesn’t mess about. It’s scene after scene of intense torture with brief explanations of the “crimes” committed and the form of torture being used.

The film features two different stories that take place during the Edo period in Japan (between 1603-1868). Although the film is fictional it does mirror actual forms of torture and beliefs held during that time period.

The first story is of a young woman named Toyo who saves the life of Lori, a Samurai, by sucking the poison out of a snake bite for him. She brings him to her family home and cares for him, and the two fall in love. It’s later discovered that Toyo and her family are Christians and must be executed. During the Edo period, Christians were tortured until they confessed and often killed for choosing Jesus over the Shogunate (feudal military government). When Toyo is brought before the government for her crimes Lori does nothing as he watches her be raped and abused repeatedly and then kept as a personal concubine by his superior. Toyo suffers many horrible injustices and eventually Lori and her escape only to be brutally killed.

The second story, while still good, is definitely a bit more silly or comedic. It takes place in a brothel where a young man claiming to have a rich family turns out to be poor and unable to pay his bill. In order to pay off his debts, he has to stay and work at the brothel for a year. He falls in love with one of the girls and after witnessing a forced abortion and then the death of one of the other girls, he decides to escape with her. The two become petty criminals and are eventually caught. He’s killed, and she’s sold back into prostitution.

In case you aren’t convinced of the brutality here are some of the things you can expect to see:
SPOILERS!!!!

  • human branding
  • stake burnings and spearing
  • snake pit torture
  • rape, including double penetration gang rape
  • forced abortion
  • beheading
  • castration
  • And my personal favourite execution by bulls pulling a woman’s limbs off.

4/5 historically accurate shocks for this film

MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

Shogun’s Sadism (1976) by Yuji Makiguchi is a really fun, Japanese, exploitation, period piece.

First, let me just tip my hat to the Japanese on their unparalleled ability to torture and cause human suffering, no one does it better than Japan.

Shogun’s Sadism starts with old stock footage of war atrocities and the first shot is of a girl being boiled alive… it doesn’t mess about. It’s scene after scene of intense torture with brief explanations of the “crimes” committed and the form of torture being used.

The film features two different stories that take place during the Edo period in Japan (between 1603-1868). Although the film is fictional it does mirror actual forms of torture and beliefs held during that time period.

The first story is of a young woman named Toyo who saves the life of Lori, a Samurai, by sucking the poison out of a snake bite for him. She brings him to her family home and cares for him, and the two fall in love. It’s later discovered that Toyo and her family are Christians and must be executed. During the Edo period, Christians were tortured until they confessed and often killed for choosing Jesus over the Shogunate (feudal military government). When Toyo is brought before the government for her crimes Lori does nothing as he watches her be raped and abused repeatedly and then kept as a personal concubine by his superior. Toyo suffers many horrible injustices and eventually Lori and her escape only to be brutally killed.

The second story, while still good, is definitely a bit more silly or comedic. It takes place in a brothel where a young man claiming to have a rich family turns out to be poor and unable to pay his bill. In order to pay off his debts, he has to stay and work at the brothel for a year. He falls in love with one of the girls and after witnessing a forced abortion and then the death of one of the other girls, he decides to escape with her. The two become petty criminals and are eventually caught. He’s killed, and she’s sold back into prostitution.

In case you aren’t convinced of the brutality here are some of the things you can expect to see:
SPOILERS!!!!

  • human branding
  • stake burnings and spearing
  • snake pit torture
  • rape, including double penetration gang rape
  • forced abortion
  • beheading
  • castration
  • And my personal favourite execution by bulls pulling a woman’s limbs off.

4/5 historically accurate shocks for this film


Posted by Candace Stone in BRUTAL REALITY, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

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

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

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

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

Overall Grade: Solid A.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

INTERVIEW: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

House of Tortured Souls’ very own Jonathan Patrick Hughes is making another movie called Hallowed Be Thy Name, and I am the lucky one to interview him about it. I’m a big fan of his short film (S)AINT NICK. A dirty Christmas movie about a greasy stepdad who gets his up and comings. The film was picked up by Troma for a horror anthology entitled 12 Slays of Christmas, and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.
House of Tortured Souls: First of all let me say thanks for the opportunity to chat with you about your new film, as you know I loved (S)AINT NICK. Will this new film also be a short or feature length? And will it be a Christmas film again?
Jonathan Patrick Hughes: Hallowed Be Thy Name is a short film, but nothing like (S)AINT NICK. It’s a complete 180, this is more like if David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock made a Twilight Zone episode. This one takes place on Halloween.
HoTS: What inspired you to make this new movie?
JPH: I was inspired by David Lynch mostly and that meant I had to leave my comfort zone and try something different than just cutting people up into pieces. I always enjoyed psychological thrillers, much like Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Lost Highway, and Cape Fear.
HoTS: You mentioned that Rob Zombie was a huge influence on your style on (S)AINT NICK How will this one be different or similar?
JPH: Rob Zombie was the only reason why I wanted to make (S)AINT NICK. I’m a huge fan of his work, except Halloween 2 (Sorry, Rob)
This is a very different type of film, it’s not vulgar or difficult to watch, it’s more about getting inside an audiences head and having them watch the film over and over again, to really think about what is really going on, especially the ending.Answer2.
HoTS: It’s my understanding that you had the chance to work with Zane Hershberger. What was that like?
JPH: Zane Hershberger is someone I see myself working with over and over again. He is by far, the most fun I’ve had making a film with. He’s easy going, funny and his vision is balls to the wall insane. He just loves doing what he does and when people see the finished product, they’ll understand what I mean. He just made everything look better than what I imagined in my head and I can’t wait to work with him again.
HoTS: I personally am excited to see you step out of your comfort zone and try your hand at a psychological film this time. Don’t get me wrong I love a good hack and slash, but it takes real talent to get inside someone’s head and terrify them psychologically. The fact that you’re willing to try new things and be versatile is why I believe you’ll go far as a filmmaker.
When making a good thriller having a good cast is key and the acting can make or break the film. What can you tell me about the cast in this one?
JPH: The cast in this film really outdone themselves! Tyler Manko plays Sam Hayne, a detective who has been searching for his wife and child since they disappeared on Halloween, six years ago.
Alexis Polce-von Schwedler plays Octavia Burke, a woman whom Sam believes is responsible for the disappearances.
These two together REALLY knock it out of the park. The chemistry, the emotions, as well as the trickery that goes on throughout the film. It just boggled my mind to see them out of character and whenever I called action, seeing them within seconds get into their character. Tyler and Alexis really outdid themselves and I’m highly proud to see what they pulled off during the filming.
Sable Griedel, who was in The Barn, and 10/31 is also one to look out for. She was amazing and very professional. Sable plays Olivia Hayne, Sam’s wife. Her appearance is both shocking and well received. Sable was a real joy to work with.
Leeana Hergenreder, (S)AINT NICK, has a special appearance as Octavia’s co-worker. I’ll never make a film without Leeana. She already knows what I’m looking for and what I need from her. There is very little direction with her because we are so in sync while making a film. It’s crazy.
Patrick Honan, who portrayed a voice over as Dr. Hoffman in (S)AINT NICK, plays Detective Barnes. I can’t say too much about his character, but what I can say is that Patrick is a great person to work with. He’s new to acting, but still delivers his lines like a true detective.
Last, but not least Rosie plays Sam’s Daughter, Chloe Hayne, and this was her first time in front of cameras, but she’s done theatre work. Rosie was phenomenal, very understanding at what I was looking for and really nailed her part. She’s adorable, and she is definitely someone that I’d love to work with in the future. It’s so hard to find young talent these days, but she outdid herself and really helped the film with her part.
HoTS: I know your last film was picked up by Troma will this one be also and when can we expect to see it?
JPH: As a matter of fact, Hallowed Be Thy Name has been picked up by Dustin Ferguson as part of the second season for Tales From The Grave and will be released as a webisode and then on DVD from Screamtime Films. From what I understand, they are going to show [one] episode per week starting in September. I’ll make sure it’s announced as soon as I know everything.
HoTS: Finally, is there anything you would like to add or think fans should know?
JPH: I think people are going to be puzzled and confused, at first. This is def something that should be viewed more than once before giving it an actual thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s very psychological and one of those WTF? type of films. I already know people will feel as if the film doesn’t make much sense. Haha, that’s when you need to watch it again until it does make sense.
Thank you again, Jonathan, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me for a few moment. I’ve really enjoyed this and look forward to seeing your new film.
Posted by Candace Stone in HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
Tristan Takes Charge!

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Posted by Danni Winn in HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
An Introduction to Sam Hel and the World Of Cat 4 Collective

An Introduction to Sam Hel and the World Of Cat 4 Collective

Sam Hel is a filmmaker whose current release An Ultraviolent Colour is available through Cat 4 Collective. His collaborations with Adrian Baez on films such as Summerland and The Devil In Me to create the “Suicide Trilogy” have been gaining notoriety within the Indie short film scene, and Sam agreed to speak with the House of Tortured Souls on the evolution of his films.

House of Tortured Souls: The recent release of An Ultraviolent Colour is quite phenomenal. How did you pick such an amazingly well-rounded lead actress to showcase your script and directing style so brilliantly?
Sam Hel: Thank you. In Los Angeles, it is very difficult to find models and actors to be a part of a movie that contains graphic material. It was actually supposed to be more graphic as Emily has a history of sexual abuse in the story. I was told to tone it down or we would never find someone here. Which was almost the reality.
A. Baez and I looked high and low for actors models and even friends to be Emily. A. Baez was the one who had priorly talked with Mercedes, and she was 100 percent on board with the idea and came to Hollywood to shoot it.
I just gave her the background information and where Emily is at in her life. Mercedes took the character and went with what she felt would be the closest. She even went on with rants and dialogue while shooting that I still don’t know if they are made up or she really experienced in her life.
HoTS: An Ultraviolent Colour is part of the “Suicide Trilogy”, can you describe to viewers how the film’s flow together?
SH: The common ground we both agree on is that each story very much takes place in a warped version of the mind. Every character has a problem mentally that led them down that road, and there was no one to help them in their time of need. In Entrails and Amour, the love of her life left and she was alone. In The Devil In Me, she was alone lived a secluded life and idolized someone who praised death. An Ultraviolent Colour tackles abuse with no outside help and an enabler supporting her wishes.
HoTS: Summerland and The Devil In Me are very involved films about character exploration. Where do you find your influences with such subjects?
SH: I try to find a lot of documentaries or videos about unique people. I also like to read about strange situations and stories. Once I have an idea, I usually do weird things to continue writing mainly sleep deprivation. I keep a notebook next to me. That is when the what-the-fuck ideas come in. Either visually or within the dialogue. It’s also good that I’m close with my partner and he does not sleep either.
HoTS: Recently you announced work beginning on I Cut Your Flesh. What can you tell us about this production?
SH: I am into documentaries. I am also into visually fucked up things. I enjoy interesting people. I struck up a friendship with a lovely girl who has a fascination with being cut pierced and playing with blood. If people continue purchasing our movies we will begin working on a series of these real pain documentaries.
The movie is truly in the same vein as shockumentaries and documentaries on oddities. I wanted to make controversial documentaries and shockumentaries like Traces of Death junk films, Japanese extreme fetishes, or death documentaries. That seems somewhat impossible at the moment. This is the closest in extremity I can get at the moment. Plus it is funny to make my cameraman shoot it as he cannot stand the sight of real death or blood.
HoTS: Is there anything you’d like film fans to know about yourself, your work, or Cat 4 Collective?
SH: As long as there are people wanting to view our movies and supports us by purchasing our products we will continue moving forward. I will always continue photographing or shooting but I like to share my work. Sadly it costs to create and it costs a lot in Los Angeles. We have a lot of extreme and unusual ideas that I feel have not been explored in a while.
Our websites are www.cat4collective.com and www.samhel.com.

Sam Hel’s latest film An Ultraviolent Colour focuses on one person Emily. Emily has been abused all her life and that is the only way she knows love. She decides to make a movie as a love letter to the world.

Emily’s spiral into self-abuse is evident on screen, as she slowly begins a detrimental slide into self-harm. She begins by letting us watch her line the bathroom with plastic sheeting in anticipation of what is to come.

We see the anguish in her face and understand though she is numb to so much, pain is merely a pleasure for her. This is conveyed so wonderfully raw and vulnerable by Mercedes, the young actress playing the damaged, fragile and tormented character of Emily.

She is tormented and sadly seeing no way free. The film climaxes in a sea of musical screaming and thrashing music.

The score, having been a secondary character throughout the film, reflects Emily’s torment with moments of quite manic and others more ethereal melodies. Featuring music by STALAGGH and SADWRIST, An Ultraviolent Colour features a score that is impacting on the viewer.

Sam Hel creates angular shots of his beautifully tragic lead actress, that encourages us to not only continue to watch on horrified but also feel emotional towards her plight. Sam Hel’s prowess as a filmmaker is cemented with this gutsy effort, and I will watch on developments on future films such as I CUT YOUR FLESH.

Interview: Sam Hel

Mercedes as Emily

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Ahockalypse (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Ahockalypse (2018)

In the upcoming horror comedy Ahockalypse, we get to watch some hockey players, who just won their championship match, survive the zombie apocalypse. Shortly after winning the championship, Jonsey, BJ, Wave, and Mrs. Johnson are celebrating their victory and zombies begin to appear, taking out the other players on their team, which is when the main characters begin to panic and we get a delightful comedy of errors. Not to mention that we get these hockey players (who have probably been hit one too many times) who are running around screaming with some rather dumb ideas to say the least. Yet somehow, they continue to survive even when they lose friends in what are usually absolutely absurd and comical deaths.Ahockalypse

Watching Ahockalypse is a total treat and it had me laughing from the beginning to the end with all of the various things that happen to our poor hockey players. Going to the house of Jonsey’s girlfriend, they encounter two guys who have kind of lost their minds a little bit and have an obsession with shiny and chrome (think the guys in Mad Max Fury Road). These two individuals proceed to make the gang take their clothes off and lock them in a basement. This is just one of many comical incidences throughout the entire film. As a huge fan of the zombie genre, especially when comedy can be incorporated, all I can truly say without spoiling jokes or plot is that this film is a must watch. It will have you laughing from beginning to end and whilst it’s not full of blood and guts, when there is gore, it is well done.Ahockalypse

As I said, the humor is what makes this film so enjoyable and totally worth watching and showing to your friends. I’ve already got a few people that I plan to introduce to Ahockalypse just because it’s so damn funny. This delightful zombie comedy is available on August 17th on itunes, Amazon, Vudu, Steam, Fandango Now, Google Play, and Sony Playstation! You can also buy the DVD on their website:

Ahockalypse

Posted by Spencer Evatt in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, ZOMBIES, 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: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

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

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

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

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

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

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Robin Williams – Four Years Later

Robin Williams – Four Years Later

Robin Williams: 1951 - 2014With the fourth anniversary of Robin Williams’ death yesterday, it seemed appropriate after having just finished reading a new biography about him to do a brief write up about the legendary actor and comedian. I’ll also give my thoughts on the new Dave Itzkoff review titled Robin. An incredible man who was the epitome of a tortured soul and ended up taking his own life, Robin made millions of people laugh and even cry at points. Another reason I write this piece is because suicide has affected all of us at some point in our lives. Robin’s death wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last, but his life and death shows that even those who seem to have it all together might not.

Robin was an Academy Award winner, winner of multiple Golden Globes, and even a few Grammy’s, and one would think he was happy and rather content with his life. With films like Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, and Good Morning, Vietnam — to his name but a few, his film successes were impressive, to say the least. Yet, as Itzkoff’s biography points out, Robin was deeply haunted by severe depression and a constant anxiety that he wasn’t successful in his career. Tragically, his demons were persistent, especially when one of his films flopped. However, the flops weren’t what pushed him over the edge. Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s was the final straw… Not long after the diagnosis, he was found in his room having hung himself.

Robin Williams - 21 July 1951 - 11 Aug 2014
One of the most incredible actors and comedians had finally reached the point where he was unable to take living any longer. Loved by millions and certainly an incredibly talented and successful individual, he still took his life. As anyone who has ever seen him act or do stand-up can attest to, Robin was an incredible human being with a heart of gold. Itzkoff’s biography (that I feel I have been remiss in not discussing more) is a tour de force of the story of Robin’s life, including his battle with addiction and depression.

Robin Williams: 1951 - 2014Although Robin Williams is dead, his legacy lives on, and I think his succumbing to depression and suicide is a rather profound point for his legacy to end on. I say this not because he took his life but because Robin’s death has shown people that appearances truly can deceive, that someone may look alright on the outside and be anything but okay. For all any of us know, that person could have a storm raging inside. Take time to talk to people, listen to them, and interact on a personal level because we can’t see inside a person. Speaking from experience, sometimes that’s all it takes to bring someone back from the edge.

For those of you reading this, please know you are not alone. If you ever feel lost, there are people available to help you.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Robin Williams - Prevent Suicide

Posted by Spencer Evatt in BRUTAL REALITY, EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 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: The Taxidermist

MOVIE Review: The Taxidermist

The Taxidermist/Luke RamerThis week I sat down to watch the Indie horror film The Taxidermist. The title alone intrigued me, as there are not a lot of films that tackle this premise. The Taxidermist is the story of Leo, a struggling artist in the taxidermy field. His wife Veronica works while Leo is a stay-at-home dad who picks up taxidermy jobs. One evening while working in his garage, Leo is paid a visit by a man named Kristoff who presents Leo (whom he calls the best in his field) with an unusual request. He wants Leo to stuff and mount his wife. Leo turns down the request, but Kristoff offers $30,000. Leo thinks but still denies the request. Kristoff leaves disappointed.

Leo and Veronica’s daughter Abigail receives a diagnosis of cancer, which causes friction between the couple as they cannot pay the bills. Faced with no options, Leo calls Kristoff and accepts his previous request to stuff and mount his wife. Leo begins his work and drinks while completing it. After he finishes, while in a drunken stupor, he envisions the mounted corpse coming to life and seducing him. This creates a masturbation scene with Leo and the corpse.

The Taxidermist/Luke RamerLeo astonishes Kristoff with the finished product and is paid the $30,000. Kristoff, of course, wants more work done and tells Leo there is an exhibit coming up. He offers Leo half a million dollars to produce 10-12 more “works of art”. Leo accepts the offer and gets to work on the bodies brought to him. Leo receives an invite to attend a masquerade event where his work is on display. During a Q and A, Leo explains his art where he explains his process and motivation.

The Taxidermist/Luke RamerDuring the exhibit, Leo discovers his work is being used for sexual purposes and becomes enraged. He burns the house down with everyone inside. Leo snaps. He goes home and in the morning shows Veronica all of his money and one example of the art he created.

There is the plot with no real spoilers. I loved the premise of the film because, as I mentioned before, there are not a lot of films that tackle taxidermy. The plot was solid, and it was fun to see which direction the film would go.

The Taxidermist/Luke RamerThere were, however, a few hiccups in the story and production. Let me qualify this by saying that this film is a low-budget Indie film and with a low budget come sacrifices. There are a couple scenes (one in particular with the couple arguing) where the audio fluctuates and does not keep to one level. There are some cracks in the audio as well. The ending of the film comes with little surprise, and I figured it out in the first 30 minutes. I find that difficult in horror because it leaves little to the imagination.

For the positives. The taxidermy scenes were done extremely well. The music complementing them added a nice touch as well. The premise made the film interesting to sit and watch also. The realism of the art of taxidermy made the story flow because it gave visuals. The real issues the couple faced added an accurate look at daily life.

Overall, this film showed several pros and cons. The original storyline is a major plus. It does move slowly in the first half hour which does not draw the viewer in, and that is a con. What filmmaker Luke Ramer achieved, though, was the creation of a character — Leo — that viewers will care about. He is not evil or twisted when the film begins, but he makes a choice out of necessity which leads him down this path of human taxidermy. All in all, The Taxidermist is not a great film, but it is passable. If given a larger budget, Ramer could have pieced together a knockout film based on his premise alone.

Overall Grade: C

Watch the trailer and let us know what you think.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Gutterballs (2008) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Gutterballs (2008) [SPOILERS]

Gutterballs (2008) is a Canadian extreme horror set entirely in the Xcalibar bowling alley (Surrey, BC). It’s essentially a rape revenge with a slight twist.

The film is horribly acted, feels like a slasher made by porn stars for porn stars, and despite the low budget and less than Oscar-worthy acting, it still ends up being a great little movie. The gore and practical effects are superb. The kills are inventive and fresh, and the rape scene was genuinely disturbing.

A group of friends go bowling after hours and compete against one another. It’s a typical mix of teens from the 80s: you’ve got your token jocks, rockers and rockettes, skanks, and even the trans community is represented. The jocks compete against the rockers. The group of jocks gets drunk and rowdy and roughs up the transgender member of the group, and a bit of a brawl breaks out. In order to stop one of the jocks from beating up her friend, one of the girls drops a bowling ball on his foot. The group gets kicked out of the alley early but vow to have a rematch the following night. They all go their separate ways except the girl who dropped the bowling ball goes back in the alley in search of her purse. She runs into the group of jocks, and they brutally gang rape her. This scene is long and excessive; it imprints itself on your brain. I found it to be a lot harder to stomach than most scenes of this nature because it was extremely graphic and felt like it went on forever. I was completely emotionally depleted by its finish. It’s been a while since I was truly disturbed by a scene in any movie.

The following night the group all comes back for a bowl-off. The group starts getting picked off one by one with some of the most original kill scenes put to film. You can look to find quite a few hat tips to other movies in this and have fun picking them out. I was a tad disappointed by the “twist” ending, but overall I was pretty impressed with the film.

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

Here are some of the extreme and disturbing bits you can expect to see:

  • A brutal and graphic gang rape using a bowling pin
  • Death by 69 (extra points for creativity)
  • An incredibly up close and personal penile mutilation
  • Sodomization with a bowling pin
  • Tons of nudity, sex, violence, and gore in this one

4/5 shocks for Gutterballs

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Nekromantik (1987)

MOVIE REVIEW: Nekromantik (1987)

Nekromantik (1987) / Fair use doctrine.In the infamous 1987 film Nekromantik, the viewer encounters one of Jorg Buttgereit’s best films and (when released) one of the most incredibly controversial films of its time. To say that Buttgereit hurt a majority of people’s sensibilities would be an understatement when Germany, where he made the film, banned it, and even Japan — where people were used to the extreme — had it censored. Oddly enough though, it was never banned or censored in the United States, largely because it was so underground and passed the MPAA’s jurisdiction. Due to this, Nekromantik acquired a cult following in the US. I watched this film about three years ago or so on my MacBook™ in college because I did not think that this film was available for purchase at the time. Fortunately, during this phase of my life, I was able to find Nekromantik 1 and 2, A Serbian Film, Salo, and a handful of others available online, which were frowned upon.

Nekromantik (1987) / Fair use doctrine.Having a Blu-Ray copy of Nekromantic that I could finally watch on a television, I certainly found it to be much more enjoyable on a bigger screen. The premise follows the title of the film rather closely and is about Rob who works for a street cleaning service that primarily works on cleaning up car accidents and the like. As he works on the crew, he gathers various organs and pieces of flesh from the corpses to bring home to his girlfriend for their collection. Ultimately, this leads to Rob bringing home a half-decayed corpse from a marsh. This progresses to necrophilia where Rob cuts a piece of wood (a certain amount of irony is there as well) that Betty, his girlfriend, then places into the corpse at the waist level. Betty then proceeds to fuck the corpse’s pseudo-penis, thankfully with a condom at least. From there, we get a long scene of clips of Rob, Betty, and the corpse fucking that takes place.

Nekromantik (1987) / Fair use doctrine.So as to not give any spoilers near the last quarter of the film, I will only speak in generalizations. A film of graphic proportions, I am thoroughly impressed with what Buttgereit achieved through the special effects from 1987. It was definitely an assault upon censorship and the normalcy through which society attempts to exist. Buttgereit certainly exposed society to a different level of intensity than what society is used to. Personally, I rather enjoyed the film and found it to be 4 out of 5 stars.

Posted by Spencer Evatt in BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Raleigh SuperCon (July 27-29, 2018)

HoTS Review: Raleigh SuperCon (July 27-29, 2018)

Last weekend (July 27 – 29, 2018) I attended the Raleigh SuperCon! This convention was held at the very spacious Raleigh Convention Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The SuperCon celebrates horror movies, Disney, anime, and various other characters. Musical guests included Alice Cooper and my personal favorite, Joey Fatone of NSYNC fame. Some of the guests included were William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Catherine Tate, and Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants.

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Celeb Photo Ops

Cosplay was evident everywhere! Outfits ranged from the most popular, (Deadpool), to anime, to Star Wars, (slave Princess Leia) to furies (humans dressed as animals). Many elaborate costumes were displayed proudly by the people who took the time and creativity to make these costumes. One of my personal favorites was Ludo and a fiery from the 1986 movie Labyrinth.

SuperCon / Amy Narramore SuperCon / Amy Narramore

Saturday night brought out the creatures of the night for The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast provided by the Pineapple Shaped Lamps.  They are a comedy and improv group based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) joined the cast to introduce the film and talk with the audience for a few minutes. As an added and very big surprise, Patricia Quinn joined the shadow cast in dancing to the Time Warp!

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy NarramoreRaleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy Narramore

This was the first time that I attended the Raleigh SuperCon and I must say that I will go again next year! I give this convention an A+ for an amazing time with wonderful guests! It was well organized and had a lot of different exhibits and guests for everyone! Plus, I really enjoyed the warm and welcoming environment that was felt throughout the community.

Raleigh SuperCon 2018 / Image: Amy Narramore

Posted by Graveyard Girl in EDITORIALS, EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Takashi Miike’s Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)

Takashi Miike’s Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)

Takashi Miike's Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)Ichi the Killer (2001) is one of Takeshi Miike’s best films. It’s a Yakuza gangster, extreme horror based on the Manga of the same name by Hideo Yamamoto. The movie watches like a manga book and some of the characters look as though they walked right off the pages and into the film. With fantastic, brightly colored costumes and bizarre quirks, the characters are what makes this one extra special. Ichi the Killer is an intelligent film unlike a lot of shock Japanese cinema, and you’ll need to pay attention to catch everything. Definitely check it out on the new 4K BD it’s worth every penny. The 4K really makes the costumes bling, the scars stand out, and the blood pop!

Takashi Miike's Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)

Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Nao Ohmori, Tadanobu Asano, Paulyn Sun, and SABU in Ichi the Killer (2001)

The Plot: Well… there’s a lot of it in this one and I’m going to do my very best to make sure you know how great the film is while still keeping it spoiler free. It starts out with the leader of the Anjo gang going “missing” and then two rival gangs fighting over his absence. The new leader of Anjo’s gang, Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) steps in to investigate the missing boss and goes on a bit of a rampage while trying to find him. The movie should really be called Kakihara the Killer since he’s the real hero in this, brutal as hell, unflinching, relishing every sadistic act — even his own mutilation and beatings. Kakihara is a beautiful character, well written, well acted, and impeccably dressed. I loved every minute he was on screen. His presence was palpable. His features are unforgettable, his face is scarred and sliced open across his cheeks (a Glasgow smile) and held closed with metal hoops, his hair is bleached blonde, and his outfits are gaudy and brilliant – each outdoing the last.
Takashi Miike's Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)

Takashi Miike's Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)While Kakihara is busy enforcing and investigating, Ichi (Nao Omori) is also killing but with a lot less style and a lot more crying. He’s been brainwashed to believe that he was badly bullied and believes that a high school girl who tried to save him was brutally gang-raped in front of him while he was unable to save her. He’s riddled with guilt and can be coaxed into killing anyone if he is told that person is a bully. He wears razor shoes and does some fancy footwork making the blood spray and the guts splatter. Ichi is controlled by Jijii (Shin’ya Tsukamoto) a seemingly innocent bystander in the whole thing. The gang members even lovingly refer to him as the “old fart”. Jijii is far from innocent though and is pulling the strings on both sides to pit the rival gangs against one another for his own personal gain. He uses Ichi as his pawn and eventually has him target Kakihara. A final battle is, of course, inevitable, and there are many twists and turns along the way that I am purposely leaving out in order not to spoil things.
Takashi Miike's Masterpiece: Ichi the Killer (2001)

I highly recommend you check out Ichi the Killer for yourself. It’s a flawless masterpiece that belongs in a museum. I personally loved it and give it a 5/5
Kakihara smoking in Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer (2001)

Posted by Candace Stone in FEATURED ARTIST, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 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
HoTS Exclusive Review: Stirring (2018)

HoTS Exclusive Review: Stirring (2018)

This time of year people want to get into a holiday spirit. They celebrate “Christmas in July”. I felt the best way to jump into that pool by reviewing an upcoming film. The movie is Stirring, written and directed by Troy Escamilla. The alternative title can be found as Mrs. Claus. Escamilla had the 2017 slasher Party Night and follows it with this Christmas slasher. Stirring has a very 80s feel to it, and we will discuss that. Let’s jump into the non-spoiler plot.

Stirring (2018)

The film begins with a sorority during pledge week. The sisters convince pledge Angela to perform some tasks to obtain admittance into the sorority. The movie fast forwards to Christmas and the Delta Sigma Sigma house is hosting a party. Angela and Amber (the alpha female of the group) exchange gifts. Amber’s gift to Angela is a painful reminder of pledge week. This is merely a sorority prank. Angela in a rage that night kills Amber and then herself.

Stirring (2018)Stirring (2018)

 

 

 

 

 

Stirring now moves ten years into the future. Amber’s sister Danielle joins the same sorority and constantly gets questioned about it. The general consensus seems to favor that she may have made a bad choice in joining Delta Sigma Sigma. The sorority house plans for it’s annual Christmas party. What the sisters do not know is that someone claiming to be Mrs. Claus is against this and emails Danielle. The email, set to the poem the “A Vist From St. Nicholas”, appears to be a warning about celebrating Christmas in that house.

Stirring (2018)

The party goes off as planned, with one hiccup. Sophie has been reported missing by her mother. Sophie left the house the night before and was murdered in one of the most creative Christmas horror film kills to date. Mrs. Claus garroted Sophie with Christmas lights from the back seat of Sophie’s car.

Stirring (2018)

Danielle then receives an unexpected visit from Angela’s mother, Mrs. Werner and let’s just say she is not there to wish Danielle a Merry Christmas.

Stirring (2018)

Mrs. Claus goes on her killing spree, murdering several party goers with holiday flare. A campus police officer informs the party that Sophie is missing and to stay close by. From here, as a viewer, you will form ideas in your head as to who the killer is. However, like all great slashers, there is a twist or two.

Now that you have an idea of the plot, here are my thoughts. Stirring hits a home run for execution but does not go over the top with effects. Its critics will claim to have seen this before but need to pump the breaks. While Stirring does have some similarities to Silent Night, Deadly Night, it is not the same movie. In fact, Stirring references the 1984 classic in dialogue. Stirring pays homage to the classics but stands alone.

Stirring (2018) / Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

The movie hits my three musts for a great slasher: gore, cheesy dialogue, and creative kills. It pays tribute without ripping off any films and has plot twists of its own. Two names horror fans will recognize immediately are icons Brinke Stevens and Helene Udy. They both deliver extremely memorable performances and will leave fans smiling. They prove why they have longevity in horror and deserve praise for their portrayals.

Writer and director Troy Escamilla also recently won Best Director at the Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival in May. The film debuts on November 13, 2018, but some fans can see it early. Stirring has been selected for the 2018 Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, VA. The movie is available for pre-order through Amazon currently. All in all, this movie hits a home run and comes highly recommended.

Stirring (2018) / Image: Troy Escamilla

Overall Grade: A+

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing another book by my good friend author Claus Holm. Though born and raised in Denmark, Claus refers to Tucson, AZ, USA, as his “spiritual home,” and this is quite evident in The Tucson Time Traveler, a collection of stories set in and around the Tucson, AZ, area. Part Ray Bradbury and part Stephen King with a bit of Rod Serling seasoning, The Tucson Time Traveler takes readers through tales of alternate, and sometimes fantastic, realities all circling the central theme of time travel.

The Tucson Time Traveler begins with “The Hilter Dilemma”. Right out of the gate, Claus presents readers with an alternate reality based on the much-debated question, “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you”. It is presented from the POV of a German official who grew up after Hilter was assassinated, causing Germany’s rise as the dominant power in the world. Whereas most Hitler and time travel stories focus on the protagonist’s struggles to stop Hitler prior to his rise to power, Claus takes a different tack and does so brilliantly.

The second story, “Tamagotchi”, deals with loss, grief, and the various ways that humans deal with both. Letting go of a loved one is never easy and the hardest loss for most humans is the death of a loved one. “Tamagotchi” shows just how far a grieving family might go to ease the pain of death.

With “I Love Her From The Mirror”, a man moves into an apartment where his mirror gives him a glimpse into another resident’s life. As the narrator watches his neighbor, always careful to respect her privacy, he finds himself falling in love. By turns humorous and thoughtful, “I Love Her From The Mirror” has a definite Twilight Zone vibe.

Next up is “The Killer Inside”, a tale of a man who decides to act out certain compulsions that he never even knew he had. Mostly told from the killer’s point of view, “The Killer Inside” will make you reconsider those urges Poe called “The Imp of the Perverse”.

One of my favorite stories is “The Last Haunted House”. Following two Halloween night stories, the first of an old man building a haunted house and the other of the three kids who choose to enter, “The Last Haunted House” perfectly captures the feel of Halloween to those who love it – both the old and the young. The sights and sounds of Halloween and the haunted house are palpable and bring to mind hints of Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” while the interactions of the children are authentic and believable.

The next story, “The Phone People”, presents a brief interlude in the life of Dave, a man with no past and a job that requires forgetting. Without giving anything away, “The Phone People” has a Ramsey Campbell feel that will leave the reader thinking.

With “The Final Event”, Claus taps into his inner Stephen King and tells the story of a pair of friends who gets their thrills terrorizing other drivers.

Another favorite of mine, “The Harp” is a modern fairy tale set in Smaaland, Sweden. The rich description immerses the reader, transporting them as the story unfolds.

The next to the last story, “The Man of A Lifetime”, will leave the reader wondering about the nature of memories as well as how they shape our lives.

“The Tucson Time Traveler” is the final story and one which dually addresses the concept of memories and their impact on our lives as well as the implications of time travel. Once again, I cannot say much without giving away the story, but I can say that it is a perfect end to a great collection.

I can’t recommend this collection enough. Claus Holm is an extraordinary writer whose abilities to craft a story and create believable characters makes reading The Tucson Time Traveler a joy. Pick up this one if you can!

5/5 claws

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Combat Shock (1984) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Combat Shock (1984) [SPOILERS]

Combat Shock

In the classic Troma film, Combat Shock, written and directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, we are introduced to Frankie, an incredibly disturbed Vietnam War veteran who is trying to survive in an America that wants nothing to do with him. Frankie, played by Buddy’s brother Rick Giovinazzo, was captured in Vietnam and lived as a POW for two years before being rescued. Once rescued, Frankie is kept at a hospital for three years because of the near catatonic state he is in from all of the trauma. We learn about Frankie’s past through flashbacks that are interspersed throughout the film and occur randomly from minuscule triggers, like water dripping from a faucet.Combat Shock

This review will contain some spoilers so if this is a film that you are wanting to watch, I would recommend postponing reading this review. In addition, this review is for the new limited edition release of Combat Shock from Severin Films, which is a new 4K rescan from the 35mm inter-negative with 2K inserts from Buddy’s personal 16mm print. Further, this release of Combat Shock is a director’s cut and has 8 minutes of never before shown footage. Watching this release, I can say that coming from 1984, the rescan does the film a great justice in clarifying the colors of the film and the film in general. Severin has done a great service to the cult film community and the world in remastering this classic film addressing such a prominent and significant topic as PTSD. 

As someone diagnosed with PTSD myself, I was cautious going into watching the film because I did not feel like being triggered, but instead of triggering me, I found myself sucked into watching one of the best portrayals of PTSD that I have ever seen. With no work coming his way, Frankie and his wife and baby (the baby having been mutated due to Agent Orange), are living in a near-destitute situation with no food, except a carton of sour milk, so part of the film is Frankie dealing with these difficulties, being confronted by a loan shark, and seeing a friend who is addicted to heroin and willing to do anything for a fix.

Anyone who is or has been an addict or known an addict will see a scary realism with Mike the junkie. One of Mike’s scenes, in which he has finally acquired a fix but does not have any way to prep and inject the heroin. In an act of desperation, he finds a piece of broken glass, carves open some veins and mainlines the heroin, not through injection but pouring the powder into his open veins. This is Mike’s last act of desperation and leads to his death by overdose.

Also titled as American Nightmares when it was first being made, Giovinazzo has shown the darker, seedier side of the American dream, one where surviving demands ruthlessness. Not just that though, the film shows how far one can fall into darkness when one is devoid of hope. With an ending that haunted me yesterday, we watch as Frankie shoots his wife once, her body hits the ground and the baby begins to cry. Not dead, Frankie screams at her, “Die goddammit! Die!” putting a few more slugs into her. He then turns the gun on his son and with the bleakness that comes with a film like this, we watch in horror as he puts a bullet through his baby son’s chest. Making it even worse, the baby does not die but continues gasping for air, so he puts it in the oven and turns it on. Last, he shoots himself and the movie ends.

Combat Shock is a dark, ultra-realistic tale that Giovinazzo has told in a beautifully tragic way, and I highly recommend this film to anyone with the stomach to take it.

Combat Shock

Posted by Spencer Evatt in BRUTAL REALITY, GORE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Charleston, SC: One of America’s Most Haunted Cities

Charleston, SC: One of America’s Most Haunted Cities

Charleston, South Carolina, is a coastal town in the south with a rich, haunted history. While researching the area, we discovered a tour company, Bulldog Tours. They provide tours ranging from basic history tours to food and wine tours and even to the haunted night tours (my favorite!). We decided to take the VIP haunted history tour which included a dungeon and the city’s oldest cemetery.

Charleston, SC: St. Phillips Church / Image: Amy Narramore

The first cemetery we visited was at St. Philips Church which was established in 1680 and still meets every week to this day. Revolutionaries, confederates, politicians, and even a US vice president are buried here. One popular ghost story is of the spirit of a woman grieving at the gravesite of her stillborn child. The Provost Dungeon was the second place we visited. We entered the underground dungeon where pirates, revolutionaries, women, and political enemies had been imprisoned.

Charleston, SC: St. Phillips Church / Image: Amy Narramore     Charleston, SC: St. Phillips Church / Image: Amy Narramore

The final stop of our VIP experience was the oldest graveyard in Charleston. It is a beautiful cemetery at the Circular Congregational Church. It was established in 1681 and has the oldest known gravestone dated from 1688. To the side of the church is a large empty space where there is, according to Mimi the tour guide, a mass grave containing the bodies of yellow fever victims. There have been reports of a blue mist seen around the graves and also of the shadowy figure of a woman searching for her two young sons who had died of yellow fever. She had also died from the fever but didn’t know that her sons had already passed and had been taken to the mass grave.

Charleston, SC: St. Phillips Church / Image: Amy Narramore     Charleston, SC: St. Phillips Church / Image: Amy Narramore

This was an amazing weekend spent exploring a beautiful city filled with intriguing ghost stories and beautiful cemeteries! Overall, this is somewhere I would go to again, and I highly recommend checking out the haunted tours.

Posted by Graveyard Girl in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, 0 comments