john carpenter

“The Only Way Out… Is Down”

I had the great privilege of interviewing the superb director Harrison Smith on his newest film Death House. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about the film.

Death House poster.There is a Fed-Max subterranean government prison that holds humanities worst criminals known as the Death House. It serves as a medical, psychological, and parapsychological research center aimed at eradicating evil. Two federal agents are granted a tour of the center. While on the tour, the unthinkable happens. There is a power outage that releases all of the prisoners, and the agents must fight their way through all of the horror and violence to try to survive. They soon discover that they are being herded down to the lowest depths of the facility. In those depths are a group of supernatural evil beings known as The Five Evils and they may be the agents’ only chance at salvation.

Cody Longo in Death House.

Cody Longo in Death House.

The movie sounds and looks amazing but before I go on I just wanted to say that the media and many articles have labeled the movie, “The Horror Movie genre of The Expendables“. I have to disagree with that. If it were The Expendables we would have a movie with Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs et. al. Which, to some, may sound interesting but it would lack any substance. The stars in this movie are so much more than their individual roles that they have portrayed, they are true actors who excel at their craft. Let me tell you some of them:

  • Adrienne Barbeau: Escape From N.Y., Creepshow, Swamp Thing, The Fog
  • Kane Hodder: Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th films and Victor Crowley from The Hatchet films
  • Dee Wallace: The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
  • Michael Berryman: The Hills Have Eyes, The Devils Rejects
  • Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next
  • Sid Haig: The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Kill Bill
  • Tony Todd: Candyman, Hatchet, Final Destination
  • Bill Moseley: The Devils Rejects, Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Vernon Wells: The Road Warrior, Weird Science
  • Lindsay Hartley: Nightmare Nurse
  • Cody Longo: Piranha 3D, Nashville
  • Cortney Palm: The Dark Tapes
  • Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp
  • Vincent Ward: The Walking Dead

Whew, that is a LOT of talent in one film!

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA.

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA. The place had a built-in horror film setting, full of dark history and eerie vibes. It really acts as a functioning character in the film.

IMDb provided a great quote:

This is a solid horror piece, dark, nasty and gore-soaked; not satire or tongue in cheek.

And like Harrison told me, he was writing in a local bar when the ad for Jurassic World came on and it hit him that this movie was “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Jurassic World without the dinosaurs”. So… great actors along with an exciting script and skilled direction. Then throw in stupefying makeup and effects by the Roy Knyrim (Sinister 2) and SOTA FX, and a soundtrack by John Avarese that sets the perfect ambiance. We will finally get what we paid for at the box office!

Death House - Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Death House – Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Harrison was why the horror genre?
Harrison Smith: My first film, The Fields, was based on what really happened to me when I lived and grew up with my grandparents on their farm. The farm came under attack for a short period of time by an unseen presence. We never understood what caused it and we never understood what ended it, so I had personal experience. But also my grandmother and I used to watch horror movies and the old horror TV show Dr. Shock who hosted Saturday morning shows like Scream-In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. The movies were captivating. I loved finding out there was a sequel to Frankenstein and that he didn’t die in the burning windmill. There were more like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man that continued on the story of Lon Chaney. Like when they killed Lon Chaney in the original Wolfman I was like, “Why? He was a nice man, he didn’t want to be The Wolf Man“. I loved it. They were like Saturday morning soap operas. I loved them as a kid, but that time is gone. That is why I like Tom Holland’s Fright Night. I was watching in the summer of ’85 and knew it was a Valentine to an era that was quickly fading and disappearing. At that time, the threat was coming from cable television and the home video revolution, so Peter Vincent was this aging icon of an era long gone trying to stay relevant. Tom Holland got it, and Fright Night works on many levels. So horror movies, for me, were a real escape from the actually really scary shit that happened to me.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

HoTS: Then I asked him about the abundance of horror movies and shows seem to be throwing back to the ’80s. Movies like It Follows and The House of the Devil and shows like Stranger Things all reflect that age in horror, and Death House has many actors from that era. Why do you think it is a niche we all still enjoy?

Dee Wallace in Death House.

Dee Wallace in Death House.

HS: Director and actor Eli Roth said that the have-sex-and-die concept behind many of the ’80s slasher films was not as relevant today because millennials look at it and don’t get it. There was a study reported by the L.A. Times in an article by Melissa Batchelor Warnke saying that the millennial generation is the least sexually active, so that concept does not translate well. But at the time when Friday the 13th came around, it was a perfect storm of both liberal and conservative values. We had a very conservative administration with Reagan and yet, at the same time, we were known as the party generation. It was a weird flux of things coming together. So Friday the 13th had fun and parties with lots of boobs and tons of gore but with a moral lesson. See what happens when you fuck in the woods? Jason was like a walking STD. So the ’80s made us nostalgic for the ’50s, and now we look back to the ’80s. We are nostalgic for when we grew up. That is why, when making Death House, we always remembered that we were handling peoples memories and that is very important. The new generation gets to fall in love with it like we did. And with regards to the actors in Death House, they were all smart enough to choose great directors and projects that were just starting out, and their careers flourished from those collaborations so they are all still relevant today.

Death House - Kane Hodder arriving on set.

Kane Hodder arriving on the Death House set pictured with Harrison (dressed as an extra for the ward scene). The guy over his shoulder is producer Rick Finkelstein.

HoTS: I did some research on Holmesburg Prison, where you decided to film the movie. Some extremely monstrous things went on there. Any ghosts try to break into acting for the film?

HS: No, I did not experience anything myself. There were a few reports of the cameras acting wonky, but it was really cold there which probably contributed to that. The place itself was perfect for the mood though. There is a great book called Acres of Skin: Human Experiments At Holmesberg Prison 1998 by Allen Hornblum that tells all about the medical experiments and tortures that went on inside the prison. It really lent itself to what we were shooting. I remember when they gave us a tour and brought us into the warden’s office where he had his throat slit. Nothing paranormal happened but everyone was in tune with what had happened there. Dee Wallace said that it was sometimes overwhelming knowing that you were walking by cells where so much abject misery and torture had taken place. It is a building built on misery.

Harrison also wanted to make sure and give a shout out to the administration and the City of Philadelphia and especially the Philadelphia Police Department, who were more than gracious and just all-around wonderful people.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

HoTS: My next question for Harrison was, as a director, what directors influence his work?

HS: Growing up, John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, They Live and Tommy Lee Wallace: IT, Halloween III, Fright Night II were major influences on me because they were accessible to me. I used to read Fangoria Magazine all the time and got a subscription to it. I used to read and devour the interviews and not just because of the pictures and oh! there making a sequel to Halloween and I want to see the blood and gore. They did an interview with John Carpenter and he talked about how he made movies and about finding a good crew and sticking with them. And I noticed for the first decade of John’s career he used a lot of the same people in front and behind the camera and that really made an impact on me because Carpenter was very much the founder of the guerilla film movement — that you get a camera, you go out there, and you shoot. That’s what you do, and that really inspired me as a filmmaker. I had a Super 8 silent Kodak camera, and I was learning. I was learning from those interviews in Fangoria and got a really strong base of knowledge. So if you look at my catalog of work so far, you will see many of the same faces. And if you read the credits, you will see a lot of the same names return time and time again. I bring them back because it is like putting the band back together, so to speak, which works for me because it becomes like production shorthand. I would also say Tom Holland of Fright Night and Psycho II fame was another influence because Psycho II made a big impact on me because of the script. I think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made and is very underrated. I wanted to hate it, but 30 minutes into the film I just fell in love with it. When it was over I walked out, called my family to let them know I would be late and went in to see it again. My film Camp Dread is a tip of the hat to Tom Holland. It was more like Psycho II than Friday the 13th.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

HoTS: What is the theme for Death House?

HS: The whole pretext of Death House is evil is evil and good is good, but do they need each other? Because when you try to eradicate evil you are, at most, canceling out good as well. There is no need for good if there’s no need for evil. Bill Mosely has a great line in the film, “True evil is nothingness”. That is true hell. If we were to remove the Holocaust from history we would need a litmus test. Dee Wallace’s and Barbara Crampton’s characters think what they are doing is good. Look at the Nazis during the Holocaust. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil. Dee is like Nurse Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as a social horror film was a snake pit. Louise Fletcher played it so well because there are real nurses like that. That is the banality of evil. How a modicum of power gives rise to abuse of said power. Are The Five Evils in Death House really evil compared to Dee’s character or Nurse Ratched? They aren’t Cenobites they are regular people like you run into in everyday life. How many times in your own life might you have come into contact with real killers? The Five Evils are normal looking people.

Death House - The Five Evils

Death House – The Five Evils: Vincent Ward, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Lindsay Hartley, Michael Berryman.

The original script for Death House was penned by the incredible Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for playing the mentally-impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Gunnar left us on November 7th, 2015, from pancreatic cancer. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, brought producers Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to the screening of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard to meet Harrison. Another writer had taken a stab at rewriting the script, but it turned into Texas Chainsaw meets Friday the 13th meets Saw, but that was not what Gunnar wanted. He did not want torture porn but a high concept horror film. Gunnar liked what Harrison did with it, so Harrison finished writing and then directed it. The actors were all there for their friend Gunnar and with Harrison collaborating with Gunnar before his death, I like to think of this as a love letter to an amazing man and actor that we lost too soon.

Gunnar Hansen, 4 March 4, 1947 – 7 November 2015

I was extremely honored to speak with Harrison Smith and pick his brain. To read more on Death House, I have included some links that come straight from the horse’s mouth. Harrison Smith’s Road To Death House articles.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this film. It has already won the audience choice award along with best feature film from the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO). MPAA said it was gritty, claustrophobic and a hell of a lot of fun. Harrison said it is like a roller coaster ride through a funhouse, and Kane Hodder said it was his favorite film he has worked on. So horror fans get ready for the ride of your life!

I have also included a link to a petition if you want Death House to come to a Regal Cinema near you. It is going to major theaters but I would like to see it in all of them.

So, from myself and the family at House of Tortured Souls, thank you again to the great Harrison Smith and everyone involved with Death House! And just remember readers… “Hell isn’t a word…it’s a sentence.”

Death House - Harrison, Yan Birch and Lauren Compton after filming in LA.

Harrison, Yan Birch, and Lauren Compton after filming Death House in LA.

INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

“The Only Way Out… Is Down”

I had the great privilege of interviewing the superb director Harrison Smith on his newest film Death House. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about the film.

Death House poster.There is a Fed-Max subterranean government prison that holds humanities worst criminals known as the Death House. It serves as a medical, psychological, and parapsychological research center aimed at eradicating evil. Two federal agents are granted a tour of the center. While on the tour, the unthinkable happens. There is a power outage that releases all of the prisoners, and the agents must fight their way through all of the horror and violence to try to survive. They soon discover that they are being herded down to the lowest depths of the facility. In those depths are a group of supernatural evil beings known as The Five Evils and they may be the agents’ only chance at salvation.

Cody Longo in Death House.

Cody Longo in Death House.

The movie sounds and looks amazing but before I go on I just wanted to say that the media and many articles have labeled the movie, “The Horror Movie genre of The Expendables“. I have to disagree with that. If it were The Expendables we would have a movie with Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs et. al. Which, to some, may sound interesting but it would lack any substance. The stars in this movie are so much more than their individual roles that they have portrayed, they are true actors who excel at their craft. Let me tell you some of them:

  • Adrienne Barbeau: Escape From N.Y., Creepshow, Swamp Thing, The Fog
  • Kane Hodder: Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th films and Victor Crowley from The Hatchet films
  • Dee Wallace: The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
  • Michael Berryman: The Hills Have Eyes, The Devils Rejects
  • Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next
  • Sid Haig: The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Kill Bill
  • Tony Todd: Candyman, Hatchet, Final Destination
  • Bill Moseley: The Devils Rejects, Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Vernon Wells: The Road Warrior, Weird Science
  • Lindsay Hartley: Nightmare Nurse
  • Cody Longo: Piranha 3D, Nashville
  • Cortney Palm: The Dark Tapes
  • Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp
  • Vincent Ward: The Walking Dead

Whew, that is a LOT of talent in one film!

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA.

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA. The place had a built-in horror film setting, full of dark history and eerie vibes. It really acts as a functioning character in the film.

IMDb provided a great quote:

This is a solid horror piece, dark, nasty and gore-soaked; not satire or tongue in cheek.

And like Harrison told me, he was writing in a local bar when the ad for Jurassic World came on and it hit him that this movie was “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Jurassic World without the dinosaurs”. So… great actors along with an exciting script and skilled direction. Then throw in stupefying makeup and effects by the Roy Knyrim (Sinister 2) and SOTA FX, and a soundtrack by John Avarese that sets the perfect ambiance. We will finally get what we paid for at the box office!

Death House - Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Death House – Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Harrison was why the horror genre?
Harrison Smith: My first film, The Fields, was based on what really happened to me when I lived and grew up with my grandparents on their farm. The farm came under attack for a short period of time by an unseen presence. We never understood what caused it and we never understood what ended it, so I had personal experience. But also my grandmother and I used to watch horror movies and the old horror TV show Dr. Shock who hosted Saturday morning shows like Scream-In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. The movies were captivating. I loved finding out there was a sequel to Frankenstein and that he didn’t die in the burning windmill. There were more like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man that continued on the story of Lon Chaney. Like when they killed Lon Chaney in the original Wolfman I was like, “Why? He was a nice man, he didn’t want to be The Wolf Man“. I loved it. They were like Saturday morning soap operas. I loved them as a kid, but that time is gone. That is why I like Tom Holland’s Fright Night. I was watching in the summer of ’85 and knew it was a Valentine to an era that was quickly fading and disappearing. At that time, the threat was coming from cable television and the home video revolution, so Peter Vincent was this aging icon of an era long gone trying to stay relevant. Tom Holland got it, and Fright Night works on many levels. So horror movies, for me, were a real escape from the actually really scary shit that happened to me.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

HoTS: Then I asked him about the abundance of horror movies and shows seem to be throwing back to the ’80s. Movies like It Follows and The House of the Devil and shows like Stranger Things all reflect that age in horror, and Death House has many actors from that era. Why do you think it is a niche we all still enjoy?

Dee Wallace in Death House.

Dee Wallace in Death House.

HS: Director and actor Eli Roth said that the have-sex-and-die concept behind many of the ’80s slasher films was not as relevant today because millennials look at it and don’t get it. There was a study reported by the L.A. Times in an article by Melissa Batchelor Warnke saying that the millennial generation is the least sexually active, so that concept does not translate well. But at the time when Friday the 13th came around, it was a perfect storm of both liberal and conservative values. We had a very conservative administration with Reagan and yet, at the same time, we were known as the party generation. It was a weird flux of things coming together. So Friday the 13th had fun and parties with lots of boobs and tons of gore but with a moral lesson. See what happens when you fuck in the woods? Jason was like a walking STD. So the ’80s made us nostalgic for the ’50s, and now we look back to the ’80s. We are nostalgic for when we grew up. That is why, when making Death House, we always remembered that we were handling peoples memories and that is very important. The new generation gets to fall in love with it like we did. And with regards to the actors in Death House, they were all smart enough to choose great directors and projects that were just starting out, and their careers flourished from those collaborations so they are all still relevant today.

Death House - Kane Hodder arriving on set.

Kane Hodder arriving on the Death House set pictured with Harrison (dressed as an extra for the ward scene). The guy over his shoulder is producer Rick Finkelstein.

HoTS: I did some research on Holmesburg Prison, where you decided to film the movie. Some extremely monstrous things went on there. Any ghosts try to break into acting for the film?

HS: No, I did not experience anything myself. There were a few reports of the cameras acting wonky, but it was really cold there which probably contributed to that. The place itself was perfect for the mood though. There is a great book called Acres of Skin: Human Experiments At Holmesberg Prison 1998 by Allen Hornblum that tells all about the medical experiments and tortures that went on inside the prison. It really lent itself to what we were shooting. I remember when they gave us a tour and brought us into the warden’s office where he had his throat slit. Nothing paranormal happened but everyone was in tune with what had happened there. Dee Wallace said that it was sometimes overwhelming knowing that you were walking by cells where so much abject misery and torture had taken place. It is a building built on misery.

Harrison also wanted to make sure and give a shout out to the administration and the City of Philadelphia and especially the Philadelphia Police Department, who were more than gracious and just all-around wonderful people.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

HoTS: My next question for Harrison was, as a director, what directors influence his work?

HS: Growing up, John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, They Live and Tommy Lee Wallace: IT, Halloween III, Fright Night II were major influences on me because they were accessible to me. I used to read Fangoria Magazine all the time and got a subscription to it. I used to read and devour the interviews and not just because of the pictures and oh! there making a sequel to Halloween and I want to see the blood and gore. They did an interview with John Carpenter and he talked about how he made movies and about finding a good crew and sticking with them. And I noticed for the first decade of John’s career he used a lot of the same people in front and behind the camera and that really made an impact on me because Carpenter was very much the founder of the guerilla film movement — that you get a camera, you go out there, and you shoot. That’s what you do, and that really inspired me as a filmmaker. I had a Super 8 silent Kodak camera, and I was learning. I was learning from those interviews in Fangoria and got a really strong base of knowledge. So if you look at my catalog of work so far, you will see many of the same faces. And if you read the credits, you will see a lot of the same names return time and time again. I bring them back because it is like putting the band back together, so to speak, which works for me because it becomes like production shorthand. I would also say Tom Holland of Fright Night and Psycho II fame was another influence because Psycho II made a big impact on me because of the script. I think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made and is very underrated. I wanted to hate it, but 30 minutes into the film I just fell in love with it. When it was over I walked out, called my family to let them know I would be late and went in to see it again. My film Camp Dread is a tip of the hat to Tom Holland. It was more like Psycho II than Friday the 13th.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

HoTS: What is the theme for Death House?

HS: The whole pretext of Death House is evil is evil and good is good, but do they need each other? Because when you try to eradicate evil you are, at most, canceling out good as well. There is no need for good if there’s no need for evil. Bill Mosely has a great line in the film, “True evil is nothingness”. That is true hell. If we were to remove the Holocaust from history we would need a litmus test. Dee Wallace’s and Barbara Crampton’s characters think what they are doing is good. Look at the Nazis during the Holocaust. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil. Dee is like Nurse Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as a social horror film was a snake pit. Louise Fletcher played it so well because there are real nurses like that. That is the banality of evil. How a modicum of power gives rise to abuse of said power. Are The Five Evils in Death House really evil compared to Dee’s character or Nurse Ratched? They aren’t Cenobites they are regular people like you run into in everyday life. How many times in your own life might you have come into contact with real killers? The Five Evils are normal looking people.

Death House - The Five Evils

Death House – The Five Evils: Vincent Ward, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Lindsay Hartley, Michael Berryman.

The original script for Death House was penned by the incredible Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for playing the mentally-impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Gunnar left us on November 7th, 2015, from pancreatic cancer. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, brought producers Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to the screening of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard to meet Harrison. Another writer had taken a stab at rewriting the script, but it turned into Texas Chainsaw meets Friday the 13th meets Saw, but that was not what Gunnar wanted. He did not want torture porn but a high concept horror film. Gunnar liked what Harrison did with it, so Harrison finished writing and then directed it. The actors were all there for their friend Gunnar and with Harrison collaborating with Gunnar before his death, I like to think of this as a love letter to an amazing man and actor that we lost too soon.

Gunnar Hansen, 4 March 4, 1947 – 7 November 2015

I was extremely honored to speak with Harrison Smith and pick his brain. To read more on Death House, I have included some links that come straight from the horse’s mouth. Harrison Smith’s Road To Death House articles.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this film. It has already won the audience choice award along with best feature film from the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO). MPAA said it was gritty, claustrophobic and a hell of a lot of fun. Harrison said it is like a roller coaster ride through a funhouse, and Kane Hodder said it was his favorite film he has worked on. So horror fans get ready for the ride of your life!

I have also included a link to a petition if you want Death House to come to a Regal Cinema near you. It is going to major theaters but I would like to see it in all of them.

So, from myself and the family at House of Tortured Souls, thank you again to the great Harrison Smith and everyone involved with Death House! And just remember readers… “Hell isn’t a word…it’s a sentence.”

Death House - Harrison, Yan Birch and Lauren Compton after filming in LA.

Harrison, Yan Birch, and Lauren Compton after filming Death House in LA.




Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

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

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

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

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

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

The Houses October Built (2014)

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

Halloween (1978)

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

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

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

I do have tons of personal go-to films that I would have loved to mention, but then it wouldn't be a top five would it..? Some have said my list is a bit on the childish side... Well, Halloween brings out the kid in me more than any other time of year, so I usually tell them to deal with it!Freddy Kruger-Deal with it / Fair use doctrine.
I hope you've enjoyed diving into a personal side of me, and if you're so inclined, please leave me your list in the comments. I'd love to hear them... Until then, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Keep it Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
THIS JUST IN: Jamie Lee Curtis Returning to Halloween

THIS JUST IN: Jamie Lee Curtis Returning to Halloween

She's Baaaaaaaaaaack!!!

Lately, it seems that the horror world we all have grown to love and honor has been on a dizzy downward spiral with news of sequels, remakes, and nonsense not even worth mentioning - unless you're a 16-year-old who loves PG-13 horror films and has the attention span of a turtle. With all that mumbo jumbo said, it comes with great pleasure to announce that a new Halloween installment is being put together by Blumhouse, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, and the master of horror himself, John Carpenter. The news broke earlier today and included some really great news - the original Scream Queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, will reprise her role as Laurie Strode.

What do we know about the new installment thus far?

Well, for starters, we know that John Carpenter and Jason Blum are heavily involved. We know that Danny McBride co-wrote the film with David Gordon Green, who is directing as well. We also believe that the film will take place roughly after the events that happened in Halloween II (1981). It seems that this will be the version that everyone wished that was gonna happen when we got Halloween III: Season of The Witch (which is not a bad film at all) instead. Halloween III is great on its own, but it doesn't fit with the direction the franchise took. Had it continued as John Carpenter originally intended, a series of films telling different stories set around the Halloween season. We also know that the film will go back to the basics, back to when the franchise was scary, and if Carpenter is behind this damn thing 100%, then you know he isn't gonna let bullshit get in front of cameras. Especially when it comes to Halloween. Last, but certainly not least, we know that John Carpenter is not only serving as Executive Producer, but that he very much wants to score the film as well.
News doesn't get much better than this, especially for a huge Halloween fan like myself.
So now that we have a new film scheduled to be released on October 19, 2018, it's also being touted as the final film in the Halloween franchise. If you ask me, the box office will decide on that or not. I, for one, am highly excited to see the new film, and I am also excited to see Laurie Strode and her brother, the maniacal mass murderer known as Michael Myers, go head to head one more time.
Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted earlier:
Same porch, Same clothes, same issues 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween.
Jamie-Lee-Curtis-Halloween-tweet / Fair use doctrine.Next October can't come soon enough!!!
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
REBOOT NEWS: Escape From New York

REBOOT NEWS: Escape From New York

In 1981 a movie hit the big screen that changed my life: John Carpenter's Escape From New York. I was nine years old and living at the time in Woodstock, New York, and my dad took me to a drive-in theater showing Scanners, John Carpenter's The Fog, and Carpenter’s Escape From New York. We arrived and parked with only a few minutes left in Scanners... Then I was introduced to a double feature of John Carpenter, who immediately became – and has remained – my all time favorite film director. The Fogscared the shit out of me, as it still does. After a brief intermission the main event hit the screen.
1997. New York City is a walled maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.
This movie opened a part of my mind that I never new was there. Snake Plissken was my hero, and Adrienne Barbeau would never soon leave my mind!
A remake of Escape From New York has been in talks over the past few years. As always, the mere mention a remake sparks a seemingly endless series of debates on the pros and cons of remakes in general. I'm not getting into a giant battle over remakes or, as some are now called reboots. Some films that are remade are pretty damn good, some would have been better left as a thought, and nothing more. But certain films, certain iconic and classic films, need to be left alone, and Escape From New York is one of them.
It was first mentioned a few years back that Gerard Butler was to play the lead role of Snake Plissken originated by Kurt Russell... Nope, not gonna happen. Now, I’m not saying that I haven't enjoyed some of Butler’s roles, but he is NOT Snake Plissken! The way Hollywood is, honestly, I'm surprised I haven't heard The Rock’s or Vin Diesel’s name added to the mix to just glamorize (or, in my opinion, bastardize) a film, just for money, but the roles haven't been filled yet, so I guess I should just shut the hell up.
Now, a few years later, we haven't heard much more talk about this for a while, and out of the blue, I catch wind that Robert Rodriguez has signed on to sit in the director’s chair and that, apparently will be bringing us a prequel. It’s also rumored that John Carpenter himself is going to be lending a big hand and having quite a bit of say so on the film as executive producer. That makes me happy.
Rodriguez is a very talented director who has a style of his own and who has brought us a lot of great films that I have highly enjoyed, such as Sin City, Planet Terror, hell I even liked a few of the Spy Kids films. I don't doubt the man’s talent, not at all. What I do question is his ability to draw you into a story like Carpenter did. The ability to actually make you feel as if you were in the streets of New York, running for your life, feeling your heart thundering as time runs out, and without any CGI. Can you deliver that, Mr. Rodriguez? I certainly hope so. You are stepping into HUGE shoes to fill, my friend.
I had originally wanted to write this and do nothing but cuss and point fingers. However, I do have high hopes for this film. The original is my personal second favorite film of all time. I guess I'm nervous as to what the new film may do to what I hold so dearly as I do the original. So I’ll save up all my cussing for remake of The American Werewolf in London.
Keep It Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments
WiHM: Pam Grier

WiHM: Pam Grier

Pam Grier, Women in Horror Month
When you first think of Women in Horror, you might not think of Pam Grier. Pam is more famous for her early career in exploitation cinema than in horror. However, she has had roles in several horror movies and is well known to most horror fans. February is not only Women in Horror Month, it is also Black History Month, so it seemed the perfect time shine a spotlight on Pam.
Pam's career started in the early 70s when she was cast by Jack Hill in two “women in prison” films. The 70s were the time of exploitation films, and the women in prison film was a sleazy and popular subgenre. These films lead to a long association with director Jack Hill and exploitation films, including two of her more famous early films, Coffy and Foxy Brown. It also lead to sharing the screen on multiple occasions with horror icon and all around great guy Sid Haig.
Pam Grier in Jackie Brown
Exploitation films of the era were controversial in about every way possible. The women in prison films were criticized for their portrayal of women and the violence against women. It's hard to argue that the films generally presented women characters in a good light. However with Pam Grier, the genre found a strong woman, cable of going toe to toe with men and even headline her own films. With Coffy in 1973 Pan became the first African American, female lead in an action film.
More films in the blackspolitation genre followed, they were all controversial at the time for perpetuating black stereotypes. While a lot, if not all of that is true, it also gave rise, and jobs to many black actors and directors who otherwise might not have found jobs. Still the criticism almost certainly hurt and limited Pam's career at the time. However today many look back more favorably on Pam's early career. They see her as a strong female, willing to do what it takes, and fully able of kicking ass on her own.
It was also in 1973 that Pam made her horror debut in Scream Blacula Scream. This was a sequel to the popular film Blacula, and part of the genre that has been dubbed Blackspolitaion horror. While still displaying some unfortunate black and gay stereotypes, Blacula was listed by it's lead William Marshall, and is considered one of the better films of the genre. In Scream Blacula Scream, the titular bloodsucker is revived and quickly falls in love with voodoo queen Pam Grier. I can't say I blame him.. Blacula and it's sequel have attained cult status, and Scream Blacula Scream put Pam squarely into the hearts of true horror fans.
Ms. Grier spends most of the rest of the 70s making exploitation films such as Foxy Brownand Friday Foster. In the 80s she delves again into the horror genre, with films like The Vindicator, (very) loosely based on the Frankenstein story, and an adaptation of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Exploitation cinema is rapidly winding down and Pam finds work in more mainstream film and television, including a recurring role on Miami Vice. Her roles, even though more mainstream, aren't as high profile.
The 90s saw a major revival for Pam, with roles in genre favorites Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Mars Attacks, and John Carpenter's Escape from LA. While none of them are strictly horror films, they put her back in front of horror fans. In 2001, she teamed with Carpenter again for Ghosts of Mars, a sci fi/horror re-imagining of his classic Assault on Precinct 13. That same year she also appeared in the urban horror film Bonesalongside rapper Snoop Dogg and a young Katharine Isabelle.
Pam Grier is still active today although she hasn't appeared in a horror film since the early 2000s. She now holds two honorary PhDs and is still the strong beautiful woman her fans remember from the 70s. Those films – and Pam's characters – may be controversial, but she was a role model for all women and for black women especially. Horror and exploitation films have a history of treating women with little or no respect. More often than not they are consigned as the victim, or just to provide sex appeal by appearing nude on film. While Pam did do her share of nude scenes, she was never the helpless victim. She fought back, against men and women, many times along. Foxy Brown, Coffy, and Friday Fosterwere strong women who did what they had to do to survive and to protect their loved ones. But Pam was more than just someone who played a strong character on screen. In real life she was just as strong.
In 1988 Pam was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer. She was reportedly given only 18 months to live, but like Coffy and Foxy, she didn't give up. She fought and survived and is now cancer free. She credits eastern medicines, but how much had to simply be her will to fight on?
In 2011 she released a memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. In it Pam reveals that she was raped as a child of six years old and again at age 18. She was assaulted a third time but managed to fight off her attacker. From being victimized as a child, she rose to become the epitome of a strong woman on screen because Pam Grier was a strong woman in real life. She survived rape, she survived cancer, and her career survived the downfall of the blacksploitation film craze. I am proud to call myself a Pam Grier fan and honored to do this humble spotlight on her for Women in Horror Month.
Posted by Allen Alberson in TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Debra Hill

WiHM: Debra Hill

Women in Horror Month is the perfect time to pay tribute to Debra Hill. You may not recognize her name, but you have certainly seen some of her work. Debra Hill is a long time producer of many of John Carpenter’s films and, in fact, co-wrote five of them: Halloween, Halloween II (not directed by Carpenter) The Fog, Escape from New York, and Escape from L.A.
Born November 10, 1950 in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Hill grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her career in film began in 1975 when she became a production assistant on adventure documentaries and worked her way through many roles, including script supervisor and second unit director. That same year, she worked with Carpenter on Assault on Precinct 13 as script supervisor and assistant editor. It was at this time that their professional and personal relationships formed.
She and Carpenter co-wrote Halloween in 1978, and later co-wrote the sequels Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Continuing to work with Carpenter, Hill also branched out to work on other projects. By 1986, Hill had formed her own production company with friend Lynda Obst and they produced such titles as The Fisher King and Adventures in Babysitting. One of the most popular and powerful producers in Hollywood, she also contracted with Disney to produce short films for their theme park and an NBC special for Disneyland’s 35th anniversary.
In 2003, Women in Film honored her with the Crystal Award, about which she said:
I hope some day there won't be a need for Women in Film. That it will be People in Film. That it will be equal pay, equal rights and equal job opportunities for everybody.
Hill was diagnosed with cancer in February 2004, but she continued to work with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell on a comic adaptation of the Snake Plissken character from the Escape films. With Carpenter, she also produced the underwhelming remake of The Fog. She died on March 7, 2005, still working on Oliver Stone’s film World Trade Center as producer.
Among the many films she produced in her lifetime, we have Debra to thank for are Clue, Big Top Pee Wee, The Dead Zone, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (TV movie), Head Office, and many others.
After her death, Carpenter spoke warmly of the times he had working with her, recalling that it was "one of the greatest experiences of my life – she had a passion for not just movies about women or women's ideas but films for everybody".
RIP, Debra Hill, you have certainly earned it.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
THIS JUST IN: Halloween

THIS JUST IN: Halloween

John Carpenter has finally brought to our attention that Halloween is officially moving forward and the idea for the new film came from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Your Highness) and Danny McBride, who has appeared in comedies such as Pineapple Express, Your Highness, This is The End, and the TV series Eastbound and Down.
Last week, David and Danny, along with long time producer Jason Blum, met with Carpenter with a pitch so astounding that it even blew Carpenter away. He stated that these two understand the formula, that the film is in good hands, and he cant wait to release the film on October 18, 2018.
The only thing about the new movie that has been revealed at the present time is that the film will continue right after the events which took place on Halloween in 1978 after Dr. Loomis blew up himself and Michael Myers in the hospital. There is a solid decade between Halloween II and Halloween 4, which indicates that the film can go in any direction at this point. To a certain extent, it sounds like this new movie could possibly be the real Halloween 3.
Carpenter and his new team have promised to keep us updated on developments throughout the process. Hopefully we will have a better description on what the film is about and what we can expect by summer. All I know is that you can bet your ass that Michael Myers will return to stalk helpless victims in Haddonfield, Illinois once again.
Halloween has been scheduled to open theatrically on October, 18, 2018, which is one week shy of the 40th anniversary of the original (October 25, 1978) and 6 days after Michael's birthday (October 12, 1957).
Mark your calendars!
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
History of Horror in January

History of Horror in January

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in January. Click on thumbnails for full images.

January 1 - 7

1/1/1940 – Frank Langella (actor in Dracula (1979) and The Ninth Gate) born
19400101_Frank_Langella_Deauville_2012 / Image: Georges Biard
Cuba Gooding Jr. / Image: WireImage.com
1/2/1968 – Cuba Gooding Jr (actor in American Horror Story) born
1/2/2004 – Tremors 4: The Legend Begins released on DVD
20040102_tremors-4-the-legend-begins / Fair use doctrine.
19590105_Clancy Brown / Image: Frazer Harrison - © 2011 Getty Images
1/5/1959 – Clancy Brown (actor in many horror films) born
1/6/2006 – Hostel released theatrically
20060106_Hostel / Fair use doctrine.
20060106_BloodRayne / Fair use doctrine.
1/6/2006 – BloodRayne released theatrically
1/7/2005 – White Noise released theatrically
20050107_White Noise / Fair use doctrine.

January 8 - 14

19470108_David Bowie / Fair use doctrine.
1/8/1947 – David Bowie (actor in Labyrinth, The Hunger, and other horror movies) born
1/8/1988 – Return of the Living Dead Part II released on VHS
19880108_Return of the Living Dead Part II / Fair use doctrine.
20050111_Resident Evil 4 / Fair use doctrine.
1/11/2005 – Resident Evil 4 released for the Nintendo GameCube in North America
1/12/1940 – The Invisible Man Returns released theatrically
19400112_The Invisible Man Returns / Fair use doctrine.
19650112_Rob_Zombie_Comiccon / Image: Lindsey8417
1/12/1965 – Rob Zombie (musician, singer, artist, director of House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, and Halloween (2007)) born
1/12/1990 – Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III released theatrically
19900112_leatherface_texas_chainsaw_massacre_3 / Fair use doctrine.
19390113_Son of Frankenstein / Fair use doctrine.
1/13/1939 – Son of Frankenstein released theatrically
1/13/1974 – The Satanic Rites of Dracula released theatrically
19740113_ Satanic Rites of Dracula / Fair use doctrine.
19950113_demon-knight-title / Fair use doctrine.
1/13/1995 – Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight released theatrically
1/14/1981 – Scanners released theatrically
19810114_Scanners / Fair use doctrine.

January 15 - 21

19150115_Der Golem / Fair use doctrine.
1/15/1915 – Der Golem released theatrically
1/16/1948 – John Carpenter (director, screenwriter, producer, and composer of scores for many horror films) born
19480116_John Carpenter 2010-Nathan Hartley Maas / Image: Nathan Hartley Maas
19650116_the-outer-limits / Fair use doctrine.
1/16/1965 – The Outer Limits ends its run on television
1/17/1962 – Denis O'Hare (actor in American Horror Story) born
19620117_Denis O'Hare / Image: Alexander Berg - © 2006
20020118_Long-Time-Dead-Poster / Fair use doctrine.
1/18/2002 – Long Time Dead released theatrically in the United Kingdom
1/19/1809 – Edgar Allan Poe born (d. 1849)
18090119_Edgar_Allan_Poe;_a_centenary_tribute / Fair use doctrine.
19900119_tremors / Fair use doctrine.
1/19/1990 – Tremors released theatrically
1/19/1996 – From Dusk Till Dawn released theatrically
19960119_From Dusk Till Dawn / Fair use doctrine.
20020119_Dark Water (Japan) / Fair use doctrine.
1/19/2002 – Dark Water (2002) released theatrically in Japan
1/20/1970 – Skeet Ulrich (actor in Scream) born
19700120_Skeet_Ulrich_2010 / Image: Thomas Attila Lewis
19870120_Evan Peters / Image: Allen Berezovsky - © 2012 Getty Images
1/20/1987 – Evan Peters (actor in American Horror Story) born
1/20/2006 – Underworld: Evolution released theatrically
20060120_Underworld-Evolution-2006 / Fair use doctrine.
19560121_Geena Davis / Image: Steven D Starr - © gettyimages.com
1/21/1956 – Geena Davis (actor in Beetlejuice, The Fly) born
1/21/1998 – Resident Evil 2 released on the PlayStation in the United States
19980121_Resident_Evil_2 / Fair use doctrine.

January 22 - 28

19320122_Piper Laurie / Image: Theo Wargo - © WireImage.com
1/22/1932 – Piper Laurie (actor in Carrie) born
1/22/1959 – Linda Blair (actor in The Exorcist) born
19590122_Linda Blair. / Image: Rebecca Sapp - © WireImage.com
20000122_ring-0-birthday / Fair use doctrine.
1/22/2000 – Ring 0: Birthday released theatrically in Japan
1/23/1981 – Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror released theatrically
19810123_Burial Ground / Fair use doctrine.
20040123_the-butterfly-effect-original / Fair use doctrine.
1/23/2004 – The Butterfly Effect released theatrically
1/25/1926 – Ted White (Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) born
19260125_Ted White / Fair use doctrine.
19430125_Tobe Hooper_Cannes_2014 / Image: Dark Attsios
1/25/1943 – Tobe Hooper (director of numerous horror films) born
1/25/2000 – The Dead Hate the Living! released on DVD
20000125_Deadhatetheliving / Fair use doctrine.
20050125_All Souls Day / Fair use doctrine.
1/25/2005 – All Souls Day released on DVD
1/26/1999 – Castlevania 64 released on the Nintendo 64 in the United States
19990126_Castlevania_N64 / Fair use doctrine.
19400127_James Cromwell / Image: Ryan Rogers http://ryan-rogers.com/ - © Copyright 2011, Ryan Rogers Photography
1/27/1940 – James Cromwell (actor in many horror productions) born
1/27/2005 – Resident Evil 4 released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan
20050127_Resident Evil 4 (Japan) / Fair use doctrine.
20050128_Creep-2004 / Fair use doctrine.
1/28/2005 – Creep released theatrically
1/28/2005 – Hide and Seek released theatrically
20050128_Hide and Seek / Fair use doctrine.

January 29 - 31

19980129__Resident_Evil_2 / Fair use doctrine.
1/29/1998 – Resident Evil 2 released on the PlayStation in Japan
1/30/1976 – Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma released theatrically
19760130_Salo / Fair use doctrine.
19980131_ringu / Fair use doctrine.
1/31/1998 – Ringu released theatrically in Japan
1/31/1999 – Silent Hill released on the PlayStation in North America
19990131_Selent Hill PS1[ntsc][front] / Fair use doctrine.
20030131_final-destination / Fair use doctrine.
1/31/2003 – Final Destination released theatrically
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Night Watchman (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Night Watchman (2016)

By John Roisland
The Night Watchmen, starring Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, and Kevin Jiggetts and directed by Mitchell Altieri is a 2016 laugh out loud comedic horror tale of a late night delivery gone horribly wrong.
When two stoner delivery guys drop off a coffin late at night to the wrong address, The Night Watchmen agree to hang onto it overnight after the deliverymen promise they will return promptly first thing in the morning to pick up and re-deliver the package. Now the problem's not so much that they accepted the wrong package from a courier the problem is what's in the package.
The package is a large, shiny, brand new coffin. Yes. A coffin. As the package is being ever so carefully watched over by our fearless men, one office manager, played by the incomparable James Remar, feels the need to investigate the package while he and a handfull of other employees are pulling an all nighter. To his surprise, inside lies the body of world a famous circus clown who had recently passed away on a European tour - along with the rest of his clown staff - and all had been flown back to America for burial. Upon opening the casket, however, they discover that the recently departed has returned to life plans to terrorize the city streets with his gang of clown vampires. It's now up to our fearless Night Watchmen to save the world - or at least their asses - until the sun comes up.

As I mentioned in my opening, The Night Watchmen is a horror comedy full of one-liners that will have you laughing out loud in your seats. From the music, jokes, and the sometimes quirkiness, the film has a slight John Carpenteresque feel to it, and, in this writer's opinion, that's a very high compliment!
The story, originally penned by stars Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca, brings to life a fast-paced, laugh out loud, and extremely bloody good vampire hunting time. I also want to give credit where its due - the stunt team. During tue heavy action scenes, the stunt team was pretty damn spot on!
On a personal note, I was extremely fortunate enough to have been invited onto the set on the second to last day of filming The Night Watchmen. You see, before House of Tortured Souls.com was officially launched, I was just a horror fan, and when I read in the paper of a horror film being made in my town, I had to reach out to them. I did just that thru The Night Watchmen Facebook page and was in contact with Dan Deluca. I explained to him the future plans of House of Tortured Souls.com and asked if, by any chance, I could possibly stop by the set and maybe grab a picture or two. DeLuca saw no problems with it and set up a date for me.
When I first pulled up to the set on a cold, snowy day in February and parked next to a long, shiny, silver, somewhat customized hearse, I knew was going to be a good day. The hearse belonged to special effects makeup artist R. J. Haddy who was in charge of special effects for the movie. Turns out my quick visit and a few pictures was a planned full day on set - while they were filming! I was first introduced to the staff, actors, director Mitchell Altieri and all the behind-the-scenes people.
This one of the top thrills of my life. Not only was I on the set of a movie while it was actually being filmed, it was also two days before my birthday, so it was quite a birthday gift! I kept in touch with the guys via Facebook through post-production and became friends with them. It was because of this that I was personally invited by one of the producers to a showing of the movie in Annapolis, Maryland, for staff and family. I was extremely honored and touched by the invite, and my wife Stephanie and I had one of the best evenings that we have had in a long time.
I'm not one to laugh out loud in movies, I'm really not, but I've got to tell you - I can't even keep count of how many times I laughed throughout this film. The on-screen chemistry between Arnold, DeLuca, and Jiggetts is perfect!
The cast and staff are amazing, and I wish them all the best with this film. The movie officially premiered in Atlanta on November 17th.
Do yourself a favor and keep an eye on the listings, watch out for vampire clowns, and, most importantly, keep an eye out for The Night Watchmen!
John Roisland with Ken Arnold, Dan Deluca, and Kevin Jiggetts
Keep It Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 6)

Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 6)

Part of the House of Tortured Souls
Staff Pick October 2016

By John Roisland

To understand my top five, you must first close your eyes and think back to a night where the skies are the deepest darkest blue but are still crystal clear. The night is lit by a million stars and the glow of the moon as it dances in and out behind bare trees. It’s a cool crisp night where you hear the slight wind whispering through and rustling the leaves that have fallen and in the distance the sound of children giggling and laughing as they run from house to house yelling trick or treat as the doors. And the smell, the smell of burning leaves in someone's bonfire now fill the autumn air.

These are the memories that I have that sticks with me so vividly during the entire autumn and Halloween Season. This is still today after 44 years on this planet, my favorite time of year! Which is why it was so important for me to share with you my everlasting memories of Halloween night, as well as share with you my top five favorite movies to watch at Halloween.

Now when I first came up with this idea and I shared it to the staff I figured top five, it's going to be a piece of cake, and then I started taking some time and mulling over what my personal favorite movies are for Halloween. Keep in mind this isn't any of our top five horror movies, this is just the top five movies to watch at Halloween. It then dawned on me Wow, I'm a real ass because this is really hard to do! There are a million horror movies out there to watch, especially during the Halloween season, and to narrow it down to the top five has become quite a chore.

The movies that I have to present to you, I am somewhat basing around the Halloween season in the movie itself, not all of them but a few of them. As much of a horror buff as I am, I have actually always enjoyed movies that have taken place on Halloween.

So you might be surprised when don't see any of your top iconic Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street installment - or anything of that nature.

I do thoroughly enjoy Halloween - all aspects - the sounds, the sights, even the smells! Nothing to me is more invigorating then walking outside at night and smelling burning leaves in the Autumn air. So, when picking my top five movies, I try to incorporate my love for Halloween with them.

My top five - not in any order, just my top!

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

sleepy_hollow-preview
The legend of The Headless Horseman has always been my all time favorite story ever since I was a child. Fist hearing it when i was young, the story stuck with me to this day and age. Tim Burton's rendition of it, in my opinion, did it proud. With its dark images and setting, it is a must watch for me!

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)

How can you not?! Not only is Carpenter personally my favorite director, but this film raised the bar and set standards for horror films....and it’s at Halloween, so score!
john-carpenters-halloween1

Monster House (2006)

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I first saw this film as a rental for my kids. The day it was returned to the store, I bought it! This animated kids Halloween film has a very dark overtone to it that I love, and brings out the Halloween spirit in me! Sad thing was that I enjoyed more than the kids...

The Houses October Built (2014)

Now, those of you who know me know that this movie had a profound impact on me. I love every aspect of this film, and it has become one of my top movies. The film is based at Halloween and centers around local haunts. Brought to you by Zach Andrew and Bobby Roe, this film is a must for the Halloween season.
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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Now, the last film I bring to you may not have anything to do with Halloween in any way, shape, or form, and as a matter of fact, it is not only my all time favorite horror movie, it’s my all time favorite movie - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This 1974 Tobe Hooper film blew the door off the horror film industry and has remained an all time classic. This gets a watch every Halloween!

I do hope you enjoyed my list and as founder and president of House of Tortured Souls , I do sincerely wish you and your entire family for all the generations to come, a very Happy Halloween!

Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in HALLOWEEN, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Blumhouse and John Carpenter Are Making Halloween Scary Again

Blumhouse and John Carpenter Are Making Halloween Scary Again

All New Halloween Film? Yes, Please.

By Jonathan Patrick Hughes

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In 1978, we were introduced to what has become one of the most amazing franchises to ever smack us in the face, and it's coming back in a huge way.  Earlier this week, the media received good - no, great - news. Halloween has landed in the  arms of Blumhouse Productions with the master of horror also known as John Carpenter, father of the franchise, to executive produce and possibly compose the music with his Lost Themes band.

Halloween 11: Carpenter and Spawn

Carpenter and Spawn

The Halloween films have forced us to know his name - Michael Myers, his mask - Captain Kirk, his theme, his disturbance, and his immortality.  The Halloween film franchise was started in part by Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Moustapha Akkad in 1978 and has since has spawned ten films (eight sequels as well as two remakes by Rob Zombie) generating a total of nearly $400 million in worldwide box office. This new film will mark the 11th entry to the franchise. As of now, Halloween is in early development, but Carpenter confirms it is happening and has stated that he will help to bring about the scariest Halloween film since the original.

"Halloween is one of those milestone films that inspired everyone at our company to get into the world of scary movies,” says Jason Blum. “The great Malek Akkad and John Carpenter have a special place in the hearts of all genre fans and we are so excited that Miramax brought us together. We cannot wait to find and collaborate with the right filmmaker to give Halloween fans the movie they deserve.”

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Miramax, which holds worldwide distribution rights, will determine its theatrical distribution partner at a future date. David Thwaites will oversee the reboot for Miramax with Carpenterm and the company's planning to immediately go out to filmmakers and fast-track the project. Although no release date has officially been locked, it was revealed at the announcement event that a Halloween 2017 release is quite likely. Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Before I Wake) is set to direct.

Halloween 11: John Carpenter - The Master's Eye

As a devoted fan, I for one cannot wait for this to come to life. This is like a birthday/Christmas present wrapped in bloody wrapping paper with a big orange bow at the top.

What do you think? Let House of Tortured Souls know below.

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

By John Roisland

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

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

(Warning: Video contains nudity.)

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

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

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The Night Watchmen and yours truly.

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

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

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

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 4 comments
WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH: P.J. SOLES

WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH: P.J. SOLES

P.J. Soles

P.J. Soles

By John Roisland

Before the month gets away from us, I must take a moment to cast my vote for Women  in Horror Month: the lovely P.J. Soles. This hasn't been an easy choice with so much great talent in the industry!

From Scream Queen legends Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris to academy award winning make up  artist Vee Neill to the twisted minds behind the camera -Sylvia and Jen Soska, there are legions of talented women in horror. In fact, there are too many names to list here, but P.J., for me, comes with a personal reason.

P.J. Soles, born in 1950 in Frankfurt, Germany, got her first major part in the 1976 Brian De Palma film Carrie, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. As Norma, the ballcap wearing and wisecracking pigtailed cutie, P.J. won the hearts of many...I was 4. Since then, P.J. went on to many other roles, such as John Carpenter's Halloween and Stripes, and all with her trademark pigtails. She was at the convention supporting her role in Rob Zombie's The Devils Rejects, and as I mentioned, mine comes with a story.

P.J. as Lynda van der Klok in the 1978 classic John Carpenter's Halloween.

P.J. as Lynda van der Klok in the 1978 classic John Carpenter's Halloween.

A few years ago, my wife Stephanie and I were living in Florida and attended Spooky Empire, an incredible horror convention in Orlando. P.J. was on the celebrity guest list. After wandering around and taking everything in, we headed into the celebrity room on a mission to meet P.J. Just as we got thru the threshold of the ballroom door, I literally bump into her, look at her, and say "Oh hi. You're leaving?" She gave me a worried, almost brokenhearted look, like a mom whose kid wanted to hang out with her as she was leaving for work, and said, "Honey, I'm just running out to grab a sandwich for lunch. Come see me in an hour...PROMISE ME?!" She laughed, gave me a hug, and off she went, disappearing in the ocean of fans that filled the halls.

P.J. as Susan with Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects.

P.J. as Susan with Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects.

We wander around for a while, and about an hour or so later we made our way back to P.J.'s table. As we did, she saw us, stood up and said "IT'S ABOUT TIME!!" With a big smile on her face, she came around the table and gave us huge hugs. We talked for a good 40 minutes, the room at this time wasn't busy, or I wouldn't have taken up so much time. But since we were the only ones there at the moment, and we were all really enjoying ourselves, why not?!

She talked with excitement in her eyes. We talked about her family, John Carpenter, Bill Murray, Rob Zombie and sandwiches...she likes a good sandwich. We took a few pictures, hugged, shook hands, thanked her for her time, and asked kindly how much we owed her for her time. She smiled and simply said, "Go enjoy the show, and stop by or wave if you come back through." And that we did. Every time we were in the area, and she just smiled and waved as if we were family.

Not charging us is not the reason that I put P.J Soles at the top of my list. I put her there because of her heart, how she treated us, and how she made us feel. She took the time to make a difference with the fans.

I've met a good number of celebrities, some nicer than others, but none have ever treated me quite like this - like a person, not rushing through with a fake smile and quick to collect your money. P.J. was genuinely appreciative. Let me just add that John Carpenter was the headlining guest at this show and his table was also next to P.J.'s table. Those of you who know me know that Carpenter is my favorite. He was a bucket list for me.

We went and met with the legendary John Carpenter, but we went back to the always lovely, P.J. Soles.

Congratulations P.J. Soles, on this well deserved recognition for Women In Horror Month.

Keep it Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Halloween on the Small Screen?

Halloween on the Small Screen?

Michael's World - Slaughter On! Excellent!

By Woofer McWooferson

Michael Myers staring downstairs.

Michael Myers staring downstairs.

Michael Myers, one of the most recognized and beloved horror icons, may be moving to the small screen if rumors are true. Since Dimension Films lost control of the Halloween franchise, there has been much speculation as to what will be next for the iconic character. Halloween Returns, which was to be the next step in the Halloween franchise, has been shelved indefinitely and it its place come rumors of a limited series on television. (A limited series is one with a planned number of episodes rather than being open to continuing until nobody watches any longer.)

Michael Myers in the Closet

A closet won't stop Michael Myers.

According to Fangoria, who quote a European filmmaker who wishes to remain anonymous, the European Film Market may have been passed over to allow a limited series to be produced. Rumors are that it would be a three to five season series and would enable much more to be added to the Halloween story. The Fangoria article goes on to state:

“...as budget horror becomes a more and more of a rarity in Hollywood, Halloween's studio search might not have gone as smoothly as planned as Malek Akkad & Trancas still aim to keep up the franchise's costly, old-school production value; in other words, a micro-budget, day-and-date Halloween film might be off-the-table, which could give way to a Halloween series that could carry that cinematic production value."

Everything is still unconfirmed, but speculation abounds. Will it be a backstory? Will it be in between stories? There is a lot of room in the Halloween universe for Michael to maneuver, and we hope he takes full advantage of this.

Michael Myers looks down on everyone.

Michael Myers looks down on everyone.

Still, rumors of a Halloween television series is great news for fans of the 1978 classic (and its sequels, reboots, and retoolings). Despite not saying a word in the original Halloween, Michael Myers is one of the most well known horror and respected icons, and Halloween remains one of the most watched franchises in horror movie history.

House of Tortured Souls is ready for more Michael Myers on any screen. Are you? Let us know what you think. Is the small screen big enough for Michael Myers?

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

Boogeyman 2: Masters of Horror

By Woofer McWooferson

Boogeymen 2-1

 

Director: Mike Mendez, Dave Parker; Writers: Curtis Bowden, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Gary Shenk; Stars: Dario Argento, Bruce Campbell, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, George A. Romero; Rating: U; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Documentary; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2002

“Their movies gave you nightmares. Now the most diabolical minds in horror are coming together in the ultimate Halloween horror special – Masters of Horror.”

The 2002 documentary Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror is hosted by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) and features some of the greatest names in horror movies, from Dario Argento to Guillermo del Toro. Divided into three parts, it asks the great questions all horror fans have:

Part 1: Why Do We Like to be Scared?
Part 2: What Scares Us?
Part 3: (Where Do They Get Their Ideas?)

Parts one and two are rather brief and hop from director to director as each answers why we like to be scared and what scares us. As to why we like to be scared, answers range from “why do some people like to ride roller coasters” to “preparation for our own deaths” and all are equally valid since why we like to be scared is as unique as each of us. When it comes to what scares us, however, most of our fears are the same, from death (of self or loved ones) to the dark (or what lies in it), and this is the bread and butter of these directors.

Wes Craven

Wes Craven

Part three, however, is much longer and divided into six sections with each section focusing on one director. These sections and the featured directors are:

The Reality of Horror (Wes Craven)
The Horror of Innocence (Guillermo del Toro)
The Rebel of Horror (John Carpenter)
The Horror of Society (George A. Romero)
Transforming Horror (John Landis & Rick Baker)
The Beauty of Horror (Dario Argento)
Living the Horror (Tobe Hooper)

Highlights of the documentary include:

• Craven discussing the making of The Serpent and the Rainbow and how The Last House on the Left managed an R rating.

• del Toro recounting his introduction to the supernatural while still in his crib, the influence of Universal monster movies on him, and how he established a special effects company in order to create Cronos.

• Carpenter talking about the change in audience sensibilities and the effect it had on the horror industry in the 70s and 80s.

• Romero revealing his fear of being typecast and his eventual return to the dead films.

• Landis and Rick Baker explaining how they created Schlock and why An American Werewolf in London is a watershed film in special effects work.

• Argento discussing his films as works of art where each shot is framed for both beauty and horror.

• Hooper recounting the horrors behind the scenes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, including the effects that the gruelling shot had on the cast and crew.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper

Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror also includes commentary from Gunnar Hanson, Tom Savini, and KNB Effects and is full of clips from the movies being discussed as well as movies that exemplify the topics being described.

Is this for everyone? No, but it is damn good fun and a must for horror lovers.

7/10 claws

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

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By Nick Durham

We’ve had a bit of a renaissance lately in terms of some small-budgeted spooky movies that deliver the goods without buckets of blood and gore and rely more on old school tricks to give the viewer goose bumps. A lot of these films tend to be of the slow burn variety as well…which has its own share of likeable qualities (and some serious hate-worthy qualities as well). The Rasmussen Brothers (writers of John Carpenter’s The Ward and helmers of Dark Feed) throw their hat into the ring with The Inhabitants, which actually manages to make a fairly good impression despite its shortcomings.

The Inhabitants revolves around married couple Jess (Elise Couture) and Dan (Michael Reed), who have just purchased a New England-based bed and breakfast. Of course, as these things tend to go, the house itself holds some terrible secrets thanks to its past inhabitants. These come to light when Dan has to take an emergency business trip and leaves Jess all alone in the big, spooky house. All the creepy house hallmarks are here: scary shadows and figures, creaking sounds, and some creepy camera angles.  The film offers plenty of atmosphere that really gives the film an ominous tone and it works really well.

While The Inhabitants offers good atmosphere, there’s some other elements where the film sadly lacks. It begins with our leads in all honesty, neither characterization really reaches out to the viewer at all in any way. Not to mention the fact that there are some serious plot holes and flat out leaps in logic that pop up as the film crawls towards its conclusion. Granted the film’s story is a little inventive compared to other films of its ilk, so it does have that going for it at least.

All things considered, I could think of worse ways to kill an hour and a half. The Inhabitants isn’t half bad, but it doesn’t offer much either in all honesty. Still though, it does show that Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have talent and promise as filmmakers. Here’s hoping that they only go onward and upward.

Rating: 3/5

 

Posted by Nick Durham in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

REMAKES : The Never Ending Battle

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By : John Roisland

For a few years now, more and more recently a huge topic has been a large debate amongst horror fans new and old, REMAKES! Now, I’m not hear to end any arguments, nor do I have the power to do so. But I am here to try to discuss this never ending battle between good and bad!

Such classic and iconic horror films have been remade:

Maniac, Psycho, The Omen, Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing, Mother’s Day, Last House On the Left, Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night, Carrie, Dawn of the Dead, I Spit On Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, The Town That Dreaded Sundown , My Bloody Valentine, The Fog  and the list goes on, and on and on,  not to mention foreign films that are becoming bastardized by American film makers with Old Boy, The Ring,  and coming soon Martyrs (which has been label by many as the best horror film ever!

All these films listed above, are pretty much all house hold horror names, which is  why everyone kept asking the same one worded question: WHY!?

Some argue that some remakes are better than the originals. Maybe some of them are…I personally don’t think so, although there are those that with newer technology, and possibly a larger budget, that are presented as a better film. But my issue is wheres the artistic value in remaking something that someone else has already put their name on.

Some directors  claim they love the original film and wanted to share their vision of how they saw it. Case in point is Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween; of which Zombie said he wouldn’t make the film without Carpenter’s blessing. Well he got it,  and the film made boo-coo bucks at the box office, and has seemingly made its own new Halloween franchise. Some it seems to jump on to a known franchise just to make a few dollars off of a sure thing. Others sadly  seem to be to afraid to show the world their own original visions of horror to the big screen, so they hide behind someone else’s work,  and do a remake.

My own personal favorite The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, done and redone…supposedly done again. I’ve actually lost track of what was called a remake, and what was called a continuation. But some I’ve enjoyed…others I was ashamed and almost embarrassed to say it was part of the franchise. But that’s only my opinion.

I can’t say I welcome a remake  with open arms, as I would much rather watch something original  but some I have enjoyed and have appreciated their views and their concepts.  A few I have thought were actually good enough to have stood as its own film, if not having been a remake. Which is a shame, because imagine what it could have been if it was an original. Others fall far from even crossing the finish line.

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A Few remakes I have enjoyed and  I have almost been ridiculed for some, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street. When the remake came out in 2010, I enjoyed a more serious approach to the film, and loved Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal as Freddy Krueger, not saying anything bad against Robert Englund, Just thought Haley’s approach to the role was scarier and less comedic. Something I enjoyed…but again, that’s just my opinion, and I suffered greatly for it.

While with others, some have agreed with me. 2013 Evil Dead remake, while the original is a true cult classic, many have felt that the remake was an incredible horror film, one that could have been its own, and was also a huge success at the box office.

This is a discussion that will carry on for years. It’s like figuring out who has the better pizza: New York or Chicago. It will never end, and those who are putting their artistic vision in a remake… don’t. We want your original thoughts, your dreams, your NIGHTMARES!

A remake to me, is just about the money. No matter how many, and how big the names are that you get to star in them, it’s still a remake, its still someone else’s original work. It can be good or it can be bad, but  the horror community is a very close, very tight knit family and are very loyal…make a bad movie, they will respect you more, because its yours!

…But this is just one guys opinion.

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in EDITORIALS, 0 comments
CARPENTER GOES SMALL SCREEN

CARPENTER GOES SMALL SCREEN

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By : John Roisland

It seems the latest trend in horror viewing is on the small screen, ie. television. From Ash vs. Evil Dead, American Horror Story, Bates Motel, and Tremors is even in the works. Now one  of the Masters of Horror, and my personal all time favorite director, the legendary John Carpenter is jumping on the small screen bandwagon.

According to a recent  pod cast from the folks at Killer POV podcast who recently interviewed Sandy King, John Carpenter’s producing partner and loving wife, made mention of the two putting out four television series, that god bless them, are all in the horror realm!

John Carpenter, as you know, has put out such legendary classic titles like , Halloween, The Thing, Christine, The Fog, They Live, Prince of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, and my personal favorite, Escape from New York. All movies Carpenter has for the most part written and directed…and added his known signature score to most as well.

Now, I’m not a TV person…at all! I’ve seen a few episodes of most horror series that are out, and for the most part, I enjoyed what I had seen. But I just don’t do television, I’m strictly a movie guy. Years ago I had a TV theory as a matter of fact. I would see the ad for a new TV series starring a well known actors name. Well, it always seemed that the show usually didn’t do so well, and the said actor wasn’t heard much from after that. So my thoughts were, when you hit the small screen, you were usually headed out. Seems maybe times have turned around. For Mr. Carpenters sake, I do hope so. Not that I don’t have faith in the man, but I would hate to see this be his final show.

Carpenter is said to direct all four pilots as well as produce them all with his wife King. No other information is available at this time as far as actors or even what network the shows will air on. But we will keep you filled in as the news unfolds.

Having met Mr. Carpenter a few years ago at a Spooky Empire  Convention in Orlando Florida, where my wife Stephanie and I presented Mr. Carpenter with a one of a kind , hand made  R.J. McReady (The Thing) doll, made by our dear friend Toy Mangler, which was one of the highlights of my career, I want to wish the best of luck to you Mr. Carpenter!!

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Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

UPDATE: Looking over this months later, I realize that I paid no compliments to Rob Bottin's SFX in making John Carpenter's The Thing come to life. Bottin's efforts paid off and, in my book, are the measuring stick for creature SFX to many horror fans. Neither Carpenter nor Bottin received the credit they – and everyone involved in the production – deserved. The movie's status as cult favorite and must-have for fans of the genre or SFX in general has done little to erase the effects of the deeply mixed reactions of critics at release – at best it was dismissed and at worst it was panned. John Carpenter's The Thing was a film way ahead of its time.

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HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Film That Inspired John Carpenter's The Thing

By Woofer McWooferson

The Thing From Another World (1951) Title Screen

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited); Writers: Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness; Rating: U; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1951

The Thing From Another World (1951) is the first attempt to bring “Who Goes There?”, the John W. Campbell Jr. short story, to life. While very true to the story in some aspects, it is quite different as well – more different than the two adaptations that follow. The Thing From Another World follows Captain Patrick “Pat” Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), his crew, and reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott (Douglas Spencer) who accompanies them as they travel to assist a North Pole scientific outpost. According to Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), a scientist who has won every accolade the scientific community has to offer, something has crashed about 80 miles away and the crashed object is sufficiently magnetic to throw off compass readings. Dr. Carrington then explains why they believe the item is very likely an alien craft, and the a group soon sets out to recover what they can. After a disastrous attempt to remove the ship with thermite, they busy themselves with manually recoving a frozen being that must have come from the craft. What follows is their struggle to deal with the being when it is accidentally thawed and it returns to life, attacking the gathered and their sled dogs (Siberian Huskies) with impunity. While the main plot involves the craft and creature, there is a subplot involving Pat and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) Dr. Carrington's secretary. This may seem distracting at first, but it actually ties back into the main plot when Nikki passes important information to Pat.

The Thing From Another World (1951) Pacing Off the Craft

Directed by Christian Nyby, whose credits include many TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Adam-12, The Thing From Another World has many hallmarks of a Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Scarface) film, such as multiple simultaneous conversations. Hawks was producer as well as Nyby's mentor, so it seems highly appropriate that it would be very Hawksesque. Nevertheless, the film received criticism and many accused it of being directed by Hawks who, they believed, allowed Nyby to put his name to it. The film is quick and crisp and trimmed of any possible fat. Even the scenes between Nikki and Pat do not feel forced or irrelevant. On the contrary, they help establish character as well as setting by showing the different ways they and others react to the situation as it escalates.

Kenneth Tobey (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is confident and charismatic as the captain who must consider and the safety of everyone with the regulations and orders from his higher ups, all while handling Dr. Carrington and his ego. Robert Cornthwaite's portrayal of Dr. Carrington, a scientist whose faith is rooted solely in the scientific community and whose reputation is impeccable is right on the nose. He is both intelligent and ignorant, blinded by the very science that he trusts with, quite literally, his life. Margaret Sheridan's Nikki and Douglas Spencer's Scotty add both humor and realism, while James Arness as the Thing manages to convey a sense of terror – both of us as well as to us.

The Thing From Another World is not just a great scifi/horror movie, it's an all around great film with a fine plot, top notch acting, and snappy dialogue. Although tame by today's standards, it is required viewing for fans of classic science fiction and horror.

9/10 claws

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