Mike “Gorehound” Vaughn

Megrim (2016)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Stuart Valberg; Writer: Stuart Valberg; Stars: Max Physer, Pascal Yen-Pfister; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 13 min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016
Hello, this is your fiendish reporter reviewing the entries from the Shreikfest horror film festival, 5-8 October 2017. The next film is entitled Megrim written and directed by Stuart Valberg. An unnamed artist (Pascal Yen-Pfister) wants to create a masterpiece, but instead of using oil paints, he decides to choose an unknown man (Max Physer) to donate his blood. From frame one, it’s clear that director Stuart Valberg has a nice visual flare, drenching the film with mood and tension. His use of tightly framed medium shots gives an almost unbearable feeling of dread and claustrophobia as does his use of atmospheric lighting. I really enjoyed the stripped down one room stage feel, and its simple and effective plot is clearly having a bit of fun with films like Saw (the artist’s reasons seem very Jigsaw-like). This, indeed, is where this short shines, as it is eerie and moody yet has a dark sense of humor which makes it more interesting than a simple bloodbath. The film is just two actors, and both do a fantastic job. Actor Pascal Yen Pfister really shines in this film, and he plays with the razor-thin line of having fun with the role yet not going too hammy and he walks the line brilliantly. While I enjoyed Megrim, I really wished it would have pushed the black comedy just a little further while also providing a little more cat and mouse between the two very talented actors. However, this leads me to my next point, which is that (and I rarely say this with shorts) with some clever writing, I feel like this could easily be translated into a full feature. With a great sense of style and solid writing, Valberg provides an interesting darkly comic spin on the torture porn sub-genre and does it with skill and that will no doubt take him incredibly far as a writer-director.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

Megrim (2016)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Stuart Valberg; Writer: Stuart Valberg; Stars: Max Physer, Pascal Yen-Pfister; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 13 min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016
Hello, this is your fiendish reporter reviewing the entries from the Shreikfest horror film festival, 5-8 October 2017. The next film is entitled Megrim written and directed by Stuart Valberg. An unnamed artist (Pascal Yen-Pfister) wants to create a masterpiece, but instead of using oil paints, he decides to choose an unknown man (Max Physer) to donate his blood. From frame one, it's clear that director Stuart Valberg has a nice visual flare, drenching the film with mood and tension. His use of tightly framed medium shots gives an almost unbearable feeling of dread and claustrophobia as does his use of atmospheric lighting. I really enjoyed the stripped down one room stage feel, and its simple and effective plot is clearly having a bit of fun with films like Saw (the artist's reasons seem very Jigsaw-like). This, indeed, is where this short shines, as it is eerie and moody yet has a dark sense of humor which makes it more interesting than a simple bloodbath. The film is just two actors, and both do a fantastic job. Actor Pascal Yen Pfister really shines in this film, and he plays with the razor-thin line of having fun with the role yet not going too hammy and he walks the line brilliantly. While I enjoyed Megrim, I really wished it would have pushed the black comedy just a little further while also providing a little more cat and mouse between the two very talented actors. However, this leads me to my next point, which is that (and I rarely say this with shorts) with some clever writing, I feel like this could easily be translated into a full feature. With a great sense of style and solid writing, Valberg provides an interesting darkly comic spin on the torture porn sub-genre and does it with skill and that will no doubt take him incredibly far as a writer-director.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Tethered (2017) at Shriekfest

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

Tethered (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

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

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

Play Day (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Greg Mazzola; Writer: Sophia Rose; Stars: Sophia Rose, Thomas Downey, Jim Nieb, Craig Tate, Harrison Samuels; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Your fiendish reporter bringing you another offering from the 2017 Shriekfest. In this short, a lonely man named Steve (Thomas Downey) is looking for that special somebody on the Internet. Nothing wrong with that except instead of a dating site he has chosen an online service called Play Day. Little does he know his payment for this might just be in blood. Writer Sophia Rose and director Greg Mazzola manage to take the premise of online love something terribly routine and totally turn it on its head and the end result is incredibly different. The core concept is explored just enough to give the audience a clear idea of what's going on without feeling the need to over-explain things. Also, it tapped into a psycho sexual-dark web theme which I did not expect and was impressed with. On the technical side, Mazzola gives the low budget film a professional gloss with nice visuals, good editing, and a nice score. My one complaint with this short was actor Thomas Downey. While I think he's a solid actor he defiantly went a little too campy which in a certain context is alright but it doesn't help when it somewhat undercuts the creepy vibes the film is building. When Downey starts to go really barking mental I thought the short totally went off the rails but thankfully a good ending helped save it. Play Day may have some issues however I couldn't hate it because it's really interesting and it takes a familiar troupe and completely remixes it, which is something I love to see. I very much hope that Greg Mazzola and writer Sophia Rose expand this into a feature even if it was just 80 mins or so. Overall, Play Day is great little film, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in store.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Conduit (2017) at Shriekfest

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

Conduit (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Tim Earnheart; Writer: Tim Earnheart; Stars: Corrie Fleming, Matt Dy, Tyler Totten, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Bareceloux, S Joe Downing; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror, Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again! Your fiendish reporter coming at you with another short film presented at this year's Shriekfest. Conduit is written and directed by Tim Earnheart whose previous shorts include Working with Damien (2016) and 180 (2015). The FBI is set into an upscale cabin to rescue a little girl who was kidnapped. Little do they know that something far more sinister is waiting for them inside. Conduit is really a brilliant little horror film, and Earnheart takes the ghost film and turns it on its head, taking the tropes and tossing them right out the window. The added action of the FBI raid further gives this an altogether different spin on the supernatural subgenre. With strong and eerie imagery, slick professional editing and a great score, it struck all the right cords with this film critic. Thankfully the audience isn't hit over the head with backstory and I love how things are purposely left vague. In fact, I hope Conduit gets expanded into a feature film because I`d love to be filled in on the mysterious aspects. This feature is effects driven and thankfully the FX expert, HM Grandy, does a great job crafting some truly grisly and realistic make-up - especially when you consider this was done on what I am guessing was a modest budget. Supernatural films are tricky to make effectively and without clichés, but Tim Earnheart and company go into it with an above interesting premise and keeps it fresh with great visuals, gore, and a fantastic ending.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Ghosted (2017) at Shriekfest

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

Ghosted (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Writer: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Stars: Asger Folmann, Shandel Love, Tony Nevada; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again, from your creepy correspondent coming at you again with another short film review from LA's Shriekfest earlier this month. So far I've really enjoyed every short from this film festival -- which is pretty darn rare. However, all good things must come to an end, and that end here is with Ghosted. A woman named Sandy (Shandel Love) goes to a shrink with a strange problem, namely that she is haunted by a jealous ghost (Asger Folmann). Written and directed by Sevgi Isabel Cacina, Ghosted is definitely the first weak link I have come across (so far). The biggest issue is a sloppy plot which is not compelling and has aspects that seem needless and, in the case of the ending, confusing. This is labeled as a horror comedy and also a "Fable" (according to the Vimeo link), but, honestly, I didn't get any horror or comedy. And that's a shame because I think the set up is an interesting one. Sadly, the acting, while not terrible is not at the same level as the previous fest entries. It's not all bad as the film is very well shot, and it makes the most of a modest budget. It is also clear Cacina knows how to put together a film with a nice flow editing-wise. I really hate to dump on a movie because even short films take a great amount of time and energy to make, but this one just didn't have a strong, focused screenplay, and it greatly suffered for it. I still would like to see what else Sevgi Cacina has to offer in the future.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

The Armoire (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Evan Cooper; Writers: Evan Cooper, Brodie Cooper; Stars: Hannah Barlow, Strange Dave, Evan Cooper, Bradley Rose; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello! Your fiendish reporter here kicking off my Shriekfest viewing with The Armoire, an impressive little gem by newcomers Evan Cooper and writer Brodie Cooper. I watched a lot of short films and, frankly, most of them are terrible. But, to be fair, it's much harder in some ways to make an effective short film because you have to perfectly nail the story theme and mood in a brief amount of time. So when I viewed Evan Cooper's debut The Armoire, I was pleasantly surprised. Emma (Hannah Barlow) is an aspiring actress who just moved into an apartment in LA and must find cheap furniture as she is on a shoestring budget. She seems to hit the jackpot when she finds a wonderful old armoire. Has she made the find of the century or does something sinister dwell within? Cooper skillfully avoids the pitfalls a lot of filmmakers make by telling a simple story yet allowing the true horror and suspense to slowly build and build like a tightrope until the frightening finale. His methods for creating this are equally simple, utilizing great camera work and creepy sound design rather than flashy gimmicks or MTV quick cuts -just pure old-fashioned storytelling. I also love the fact that Evan and writer Brodie Cooper didn't feel the need to overexplain things, giving it a kind of wonderful and scary simplicity. He also doesn't shy away from having some mystery and it leaves you thinking about it after the credits roll. The bulk of the film centers around one actor, Hannah Barlow and thankfully she has what it takes to carry the film. Her acting is solid and she has a natural ease that is both refreshing and also makes her relatable. The fact that this is the filmmakers' first short film is even more impressive, and I cannot wait to see what wonderful tricks they have up their cinematic sleeves. Watch this in the dark if you dare. I am okay with admitting it made me jump.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: Six Things That Will Make the New Halloween Amazing

EDITORIAL: Six Things That Will Make the New Halloween Amazing

Horror fans all over lost their collective minds over the news that Jamie Lee Curtis will once again return as Laurie Strode in the new Halloween film, and while fans patiently wait I had my own ideas on what needs to happen for this to be awesome. In the extremely off chance a studio executive is reading this please take notes.
1. Make it a direct sequel to Halloween II
This is largely considered what will happen and indeed it makes the most sense. When I first heard this I thought, wait H20 was a very good follow up to Halloween II — and indeed when I watch the films I make it part of the Laurie trilogy (and I ignore Halloween: Resurrection because it's terrible). This also brings me to the number two entry…
2. Set the timeline in the early 80s NOT in modern times
There are conflicting reports about the timeline. Some are saying they are setting it in modern times while others are predicting it will literally pick up where Halloween II left off. I, for one, would love this movie to be set in the 80s, and with nostalgia filled projects like Stranger Things and It making huge waves, it just may. And as I mentioned above H20 basically already did the modern Laurie and her struggles — and brilliantly I might add. There really isn’t anything new to bring to that.
3. Ignore the other sequels
If, in fact, this picks up where Halloween II leaves off the problem of sequels disappears nicely. It also doesn’t ignore them (because they simply didn’t happen at this point) but it doesn’t highlight them either. In a way it’s a nice comprise for both lovers of the sequels and those who only liked the first two. Again it just makes things easier and makes more sense writing-wise.
4. Avoid gimmick casting
No LL Cool J, and no Busta Rhymes; keep it simple while casting it. This doesn’t mean you can’t throw in a familiar face or two but try and be classy about it. Since it might be set in the 80s maybe even shock rocker Alice Cooper in a fun cameo?
5. Handle Dr. Loomis carefully
Dr. Sam Loomis is such a beloved character that if this film indeed will pick up where Halloween II ended they want to pay close attention to exactly how the Loomis character is handled. After all, we saw Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin come back for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with mixed results so, hopefully, they can bring Donald back with more success.
6. Be careful with fanservice
Fanservice for a popular film can both help and hurt — Cult of Chucky, to me, felt like it suffered from bad fan service, adding the Andy character which did nothing to help the already confused plot. However, in H20 fans were treated to some great moments that hearkened back to the series yet felt organic to the plot. Hopefully, this can be handled with some measure of restraint.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, HALLOWEEN, 0 comments
MOVIE NEWS: Islamic Exorcist (2017)

MOVIE NEWS: Islamic Exorcist (2017)

After witnessing all the possessions and exorcisms, it's time to check out Islamic exorcism. Yes! We are now face-to-face with a movie called Islamic Exorcist. Cinema Epoch acquired the distribution rights for this Indian international horror film and released it in July on Direct to Video and VOD (Video on Demand) . The film is written and directed by controversial Indian film maker Faisal Saif and is in English.
The film has definitely arrived during an unprecedented level of xenophobia, and it likely to exposes the issues in Islam. The maker's life was threatened during filming from his community.
Filmmaker Faisal Saif noted:
I got lots of life threats from the Muslim and Shia Muslim community to not to make this film or if already made, not to showcase it anywhere. It is my honor to be associated with a studio like Cinema Epoch which gave me a huge freedom on my creativity and my film.
As per the official synopsis, the movie talks about the lives of an Indian couple getting devastated when their adopted daughter becomes possessed by a demonic force. The father shoots the daughter to death; however, an investigative journalist does not believe their story and becomes determined to know the real truth by diving much deeper into the couple's sketchy past. The makers claim the film to be inspired by a true story that happened somewhere in India.
Islamic Exorcist stars Kavita Radheshyam who is tagged as India's own version of Kim Kardashian.
Tagline:They thought it was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What communicated with them, will scare the hell outta you.
Director and Writer: Faisal Saif; Stars: Nirab Hossain, Kavita Radheshyam, Meera; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 83 min; Genre: Supernatural Horror; Country: India; Language: English; Year: 2017

Posted by Mike Vaughn in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
TRIBUTE: George A. Romero (6 of ?)

TRIBUTE: George A. Romero (6 of ?)

My Moment With George A. Romero

Like many doing this tribute, I didn't know Mr. Romero on a personal level, but, like many - if not all, I feel like I did because of how deeply his work has touched me and, indeed, changed my life. There are certain movies I can remember vividly the first time I've seen them and George's seminal Night of the Living Dead was certainly one of them. One faithless evening I was at the mall with some school friends (I was in middle school at the time) and I of course found myself scouring the video store. The iconic image of Kyra as the pint-sized zombie on the cover beckoned me and soon I was in its undead clutches. After popping in the clunky VHS in my machine I stood in awe of the black and white nightmare and ninety odd minutes later I was a lifelong fan. What struck me was how stark and nihilistic it was, something I had seldom seen before. And I still consider the ending a milestone in not only the genre but of all cinema.
Of course, after that I raced to my local mom and pop rental shop to pick up Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow and later lesser known but brilliant stuff like Martin, The Crazies, etc. I couldn't get enough. It was when I attended a Monster Mania Con when I got to meet the zombie king in the flesh and boy was I nervous. I decided I wanted to give something back so I created a sketch of George's portrait popping up out of a cemetery with a few brain munching zombies. I framed it and waited in line, all while trying to keep my cool. We met and I had some posters and prints signed and with shaking hands I presented the legend with my modest tribute to his body of work. He seemed utterly taken back in a good way and I always like to think he displayed it in his home.
Yes, I didn't know George as a friend, we didn't share long talks about important things like life and love but the shadow of his work has always followed me and the iconic images he produced continues to have a last impact on me not only as a film buff but as a person as well. We will miss you, Mr. Romero, and we take comfort in knowing you left us a legacy that, like your zombies, will never die.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
Happy Birthday Blacula Director William Crain

Happy Birthday Blacula Director William Crain

The name William Crain might not be familiar to a lot of horror or exploitation fans; however, his short but intense filmography has left a lasting mark on pop culture. Before Crain rolled an inch of celluloid, he broke ground on the small screen as the first African American to direct episodic television. The show in question was the ultra groovy hit The Mod Squad, then in its third season. Of course it wasn’t easy to break into a white dominated profession, but with hard work and grit, William made his dreams a reality. Shortly after his small screen debut, Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures came knocking with an idea - an African American twist on a classic movie monster. William wasn’t thrilled with the title, Count Brown is in Town, but with a title tweak and a stellar cast that included Shakespearian trained William Marshall in the title role, Blacula was set to go before in the cameras. With a blend of genuine horror, humor, and lots of seventies groove, Blacula thrilled audiences and AIP had an unexpected hit on their hands. After Blacula, surprisingly Crain returned to the small screen to do Starsky and Hutch, SWAT, and The Rookies. He finally returned to the big screen with yet another blaxploitation horror hybrid entitled Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde. To date it was his last feature film.
I had the extreme pleasure to do several interviews William for an upcoming book and I found him to be a witty, smart and interesting person. He shared many great stories about the making of his cult classic as well as hinted at a return to the big screen. While he only made two feature films, their lasting legacy in pop culture is undeniable, so I raise my glass of blood to you, Mr. William Crain, on your birthday!
Below is a complete filmography.

Director

  • 2016 Nothing as It Seems (Short)
  • 1990 Designing Women (TV Series) (1 episode)
  • 1984-1985 Matt Houston (TV Series) (2 episodes)
  • 1979 The Dukes of Hazzard (TV Series)
  • 1976 Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde
  • 1974-1975 The Rookies (TV Series) (3 episodes)
  • 1975 S.W.A.T. (TV Series) (1 episode)
  • 1975 Starsky and Hutch (TV Series) (2 episodes)
  • 1971 The Mod Squad (TV Series) (1 episode)

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

  • 1971 Brother John (intern director - uncredited)

Producer

  • 1976 Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (associate producer)
Posted by Mike Vaughn in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, 0 comments
PLAY OR PASS: XX (2017)

PLAY OR PASS: XX (2017)

Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic; Writers: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic; Stars: Natalie Brown, Ron Lea, Melanie Lynskey, Peter DaCunha, Shelia Vand, Seth Duhame, Michael Dyson, Sanai Victoria, Peyton Kennedy; Rating: R; Run Time: 80 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
I always been a huge champion for women in horror, a group I feel like is sorely underrated and sadly ignored. So when I heard about XX a female based horror anthology, I was pretty stoked to say the least. The film opens with a brilliantly creepy Jan Svankmajer inspired stop motion animation which perfectly fits this anthologiy's tone, that of a beautiful and stylish yet off-putting bit of horror. XX opens strong with "The Box", based on a Jack Ketchum story about a mysterious man with a box that leads to a disturbing chain reaction to one woman’s family. This is by far the best segment with a strong concept that doesn’t get too carried away and strikes a perfect less-is-more disturbing quality. Next is "The Birthday Party", which I thought was one of the weaker entries. While I can totally get on board with the dark humor, the plot seemed a bit aimless and not as well developed as the others; however, I do give it bonus points for starring Melanie Lynskey. "Don’t Fall" is the next feature and, like "The Box", had a simple yet effective concept highlighted by great moody cinematography and well done creature FX. Finally, there is "Her Only Living Son", a kind of unofficial sequel to Rosemary's Baby. I`m guessing it was changed just enough to avoid legal action, but true fans of the genre will put two and two together. I have mixed feelings about this segment; while the concept is great, the ending felt rushed.

Play Or Pass:

Play

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the film has its highlights and its weak points but altogether makes for an enjoyable watch. XX is stylish and spooky in equal measure and proves that women can dominate the horror landscape just as well as men. Play this one in the dark with a group of friends.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
John Carpenter to Helm TV Series Tales for a Halloween Night

John Carpenter to Helm TV Series Tales for a Halloween Night

Legendary Halloween director John Carpenter will be giving fright fans a whole new reason to scream with a new show he is developing for the Syfy network. It was confirmed earlier today that Carpenter indeed does have a overall deal with Universal Cable Production to helm a show titled Tales for a Halloween Night based on his graphic novel of the same name. The graphic novel is a horror anthology written by John, Steve Hoveke, and Trent Olsen. Additionally, the horror icon is also hard at work on a show entitled Nightside, based on a series of books by New York Times best-selling author Simon Green, with Scream series writer Jill Blotevogel, but no network has been announced.
Of the partnership with Universal Cable Production, the man who brought us The Thing, Halloween, They Live, Prince of Darkness, Escape from New York, and Big Trouble in Little China,said:
"I'm excited to partner with Universal Cable Productions on this venture into television. On one hand, it's a return home to Universal, where I have fond memories, and on the other, it's a step into the future with great new creative partners in programming."
A writer has not been announced yet for Tales for a Halloween Night, and House of Tortured Souls will update you with any additional breaking news on both projects.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
Cult of Chucky Trailer Hits the Web!

Cult of Chucky Trailer Hits the Web!

Red Brand rolls Out Cult of Chucky Trailer

Director (rumored)/Writer: Don Mancini; Stars: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif; Rating: Not rated; Run Time: Not listed; Genre: Horror, Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Tiffany - Cult of Chucky / Fair use doctrine.Fright fans got a treat yesterday as the Red Band Trailer for Cult of Chucky was unleashed upon the Internet. The struggling horror franchise got a jolt of new life the surprise hit Curse of Chucky, which perfectly blended Gothic Old Dark House style with campy doll killing mayhem fans have come to expect. Considering this reunites not only series creator Don Mancini but also has appearances by Brad Dourif (Chucky), Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany), and Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay), it should be another slam dunk for the horror saga.
Cult Of Chucky slashes it way on DVD/Blu and On Demand just in time for the Halloween season on October 3, 2017.
Check out the Cult Of Chucky exclusive Red Band trailer below and then let House of Tortured Souls know what you think.
Summary (from IMDb):
Chucky returns to terrorize his human victim, Nica. Meanwhile, the killer doll has some scores to settle with his old enemies, with the help of his former wife.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

Director: Ryan Bellgardt; Writers: Ryan Bellgardt, Andy Swanson, Josh McKamie; Stars: Adam Hampton, Katie Burgess, Christian Bellgardt; Rating: Not rated; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
First off, let me say I was pretty excited to get a screener for Gremlin as I was a huge fan of Ryan's previous film Army of Frankensteins, which was a balls to the wall action horror which played like old school Doom(and that is more than OK with me). But sometimes that excited joy can turn to disappointment. Gremlin, not to be confused with Joe Dante’s seminal horror comedy Gremlins is about a mysterious box hiding a nasty little surprise inside. If you are unlucky enough to receive it, you must pass it along to someone you truly love or it will destroy everyone in its path. As much as I hate to bash Bellgardt, I just have to be honest. Gremlin tries hard to be a family drama wrapped in a high concept monster movie but sadly it struggles to do it right. But to be far this is a tricky thing to pull off correctly but is possible, films like Stake Land and the more recent (and brilliant) The Monster (2016) really mesh the two genres seamlessly.
The film gets weighed down in poorly written dialogue, all over the place acting (and I’m using that term very loosely mind you), and plot holes and contrivances that boggle the mind. And then there is the creature... I mean elephant in the room - that being the really poor CGI (think made for SyFy movie) which takes the audience right out of the film. Part of what I loved about Ryan’s previous film was the fact that it for the most part he used practical effects (and damn well, I thought) so why he would choose to follow it up with a hacky CG film is beyond me. But I think what hampers this project the most is in the painfully earnest way it forgets to have a bit of fun with the monster genre and we, the viewers, are left to wade through tired melodrama. Again, as I mentioned above, marrying the drama and horror genre together really is a hard thing to do successfully, so if you know you can’t, why not have some fun with it?
I will give credit where credit is due and say the film is well shot and Bellgardt clearly knows the technical side of film and he frames and lights things to their upmost effectiveness. It also sports a great score. I so wanted this film to be as creative and enjoyable as Army of Frankensteins, but instead of maturing, Ryan traded in his steampunk Indie cred for something altogether unremarkable. I know I beat this film up, but I can see Mr. Bellgardt was really trying for something different and for that I give him huge props. I am still looking forward to his next film - a mash up of Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games as it seems like a return to Army of Frankensteins style madcap fun.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

Brain Damage

Arrow Limited Edition Blu Review


Frank Henenlotter's LSD-laced mind muncher Brain Damage (1988) savagely lampoons Nancy Reagan's "Just say No" while also belonging to that rare category of seriously weird horror films from the late 80s to early 90s. They were high energy, candy colored, whacky, splattery, nudity-filled romps with pretty damn good screenplays tying the madness all together. And unlike horror movies of today it's not depressing. What makes movies like Street Trash, Body Melt, and Peter Jackson's Bad Taste gems of the genre is that they are over the top and go for the gross out but still retain light entertainment status without getting too dark and bleak. Brian (Rick Hearst) finds a mysterious creature named Elmer (voiced by the late, great Zacherle) who gives him the ultimate high. The only catch is the little parasite feeds on brains and demands his new host provide them for him...or else.
  • Picture/Sound: The picture is presented in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio and restored from a master, meaning the print is crisp and clear and even slightly better than the previous release. Like always Arrow provides a Mono track along with a new 5.1 soundtrack. And like the picture it to is a improvement over Synpases DVD release.
  • Package: Unlike Donnie Darko and the House: Two Stories, Brain Damage has a simple slipcover, but it still looks great sporting brand new artwork (and of course reversible cover featuring original artwork for those purists among you) and a booklet. Simple and effective wins the day here.
  • Special Features: The real gem of this set is the almost hour long documentary titled Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage. The interviews are solid and entertaining. It's odd that Frank himself isn't interviewed for it, but it's still worth checking out. The other highlight is the feature The Effects of Brain Damage, an in-depth chat with effects genius Gabe Bartalos on making the creature Elmer. If that weren't enough, you also have a featurette Animating Elmer, Karen Ogle: A Look Back, and Elmer's Turf which documents the shooting locations. But wait, I'm not finished. Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession is a fun mini doc about super fan Adam Skinner as well a director Q&A, trailers, and, for you Zacharely fans, a short film (and final onscreen credit) entitled Bygone Behemoth. Sadly Arrow was unable to bring over Synapses' commentary with Frank and writer/legend Bob Martin. I can't fault Arrow for this, however, as I'm sure it was a rights issue. But, fear not, because a brand new commentary by Frank was recorded just for the release.
  • Overall: I was excited to hear that Arrow was tagged to re-release the film because they always take great pains to bring fans a product that is really worth their hard earned cash. Not only is the package well done with some great new art work, but there's also a wealth of new features. And, of course, you get the film itself looking better than it ever has. This makes my short list of best release of 2017 (so far). Just Say Yes to this Blu!
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: 6 Horror Movies That The New MST3K Crew Needs to Tackle

EDITORIAL: 6 Horror Movies That The New MST3K Crew Needs to Tackle

MST3K-Share-Image
Fans of bad cinema can rejoice because the new season of MST3K is upon us. Here is my list of movies Jonah and the bots can rip a new one. Also don’t take offense if we mention a movie you like; it’s all in good fun. In fact, a lot of these are favorites of mine (minus The Outing), and, as the theme song goes, “it’s just a show you should really just relax”.
We’ve got movie sign!

6. Blood Rage (1987)

06_MST3K_Blood Rage (1987) / Fair use doctrine.True, MST3K never really tackled the slasher genre in the past but couldn’t you picture the incredibly campy, sleazy and fun of late 80s Blood Rage as an episode? I mean actress Louise Lasser boozing it up, not to mention the scene in which she sits spread eagle by the fridge, binge eating would have the guys rolling! Drive-In Massacre is another film that would easily bridge the slasher-MST3K divide.

5. The Prey (1984)

05_MST3K_The Prey (1984) / Fair use doctrine.An older, low budget, slice and dice movie about six wide eyed campers getting picked off by a mysterious killer. Bad acting, bad production values, and a so-so story would equal MST3K gold.

4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)

04_MST3K_Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) / Fair use doctrine.Seeing how the original crew did Jon Mikl Thor’s Zombie Nightmare it only seems fitting that the new guys tackle Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare a wonderfully bad film that is enjoyable in its own right. Of course, the infamous shower scene will have to get axed, but it would be worth it to see how the guys react to Thor’s spiked underwear and glam rock makeup as well as a whole host of laughable monsters. Truly a classic episode in the making. Seeing how Thor himself is a fan of the show, a cameo might even be possible.

3. Creep (1995)

03_MST3K_Creep (1995) / Fair use doctrine.This shot on video “epic” by director Tim Ritter has all the elements for a great episode. Its amazingly awful in all departments yet it still retains enough “so bad its great” charm that would make this perfect for the riffed treatment. I could also see Ritter’s Killing Spree riffed, but, honestly, Creep just has something extra special. Maybe it’s the hacked together plot, the cringe worthy acting or random things like a close up of a fly…Whatever it is I`d love to see it featured.

2. The Outing aka The Lamp (1987)

]02_MST3K_The Outing (1987) / Fair use doctrine.I reviewed this PAINFULLY bad late 80s horror film for my upcoming film guide, and I couldn’t help but wish I had Mike or Joel or now Jonah and the bots could have helped me through the trauma. The Outing is a lame duck mishmash of horror and drama that fails on every level. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I until Scream Factory (Shout Factory) released it on DVD and later Blu.

1. Troll 2 (1990)

01_MST3K_Troll 2 / Fair use doctrine.The one, the only, the infamously bad Troll 2 should be, NO, needs to be featured on an episode. Sure we got a Rifftrax from Mike, Kevin, and Bill to slake our thirst, but truly this is a job for the good folks at the SOL. In fact, I think that with the right jokes, this could easily be the new crew’s Manos (Joel era) or Werewolf (Mike era). I can just imagine the epic skits that could go with it.
Honorable Mentions: The Giant Claw, Black Roses, Scalps, Troll, Ghostkeeper, and Robo Vampire (yes, that movie really exists).
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
FILMS IN THE ATTIC: The Sinful Dwarf (1973)

FILMS IN THE ATTIC: The Sinful Dwarf (1973)

Films in the Attic

Films in the Attic showcases strange and little talked about cinema gems from around the globe. So sit back, relax, and allow me to dust off some nearly forgotten relics — the good, the bad, and the downright unwatchable. Either way you`ll be entertained.

The Sinful Dwarf (1973)

My fellow horror hounds, have you ever watched a movie so sleazy, so filthy you actually felt like you wanted a shower afterwards? Well that’s just what you might want to do after filling your glazzies with this strange Grindhouse from the 70s. The nutty Lila Lash (Clara Keller) and her pint-sized psycho son Olaf (Torben Bille) run a boarding house. But they don’t just earn their living renting out rooms. Their side hustle is simple: They kidnap young girls, get them hooked on heroin, and pimp them out to sleazy johns in a secret room. Oh, and they are in the drug trade just because, why not? A young writer and his wife are desperate to find an affordable place to live. They have the misfortune coming along Lila’s place and, as you might have guessed, she and Olaf have their eyes on the young Mary. For those seeking truly strange 70s cinema, consider The Sinful Dwarf required viewing. The film opens with a girl (dressed young but clearly in her early twenties) playing a child’s game and being savagely attacked and abducted by Olaf. It perfectly sets the stage for a brain melting and at times unsettling mini-sized masterpiece.
As with the subject of my previous review, The Pit, it’s a flick I enjoy a great deal but it’s not without its issues. It’s paper thin plot isn’t exactly groundbreaking with an ending which could have used an overhaul. Also, the acting is pretty much what you’d expect for this kind of outing. However, what it lacks in those departments, it more than makes up for in sheer WTF moments and unrelenting filth that coats every frame of celluloid. The film thankfully never takes itself too serious and it doesn’t just cross the line of good taste, it gleefully dances over. My favorite moment has to be a bizarre vaudeville-like musical number performed perfectly over the top by Clara Keller. Also, how can you not love the drug kingpin kick named Santa Claus? He smuggles the drugs in children’s toys, keeping with the theme set up in the opening scene. What also keeps the film interesting is the production design which does a great job at maintaining an icky feeling. For example, the inside of the boarding house is so grimy looking you might fear you will catch something just gazing at it. They also add nice little subtle touches. For example, old posters for Lila Lashes’ shows can be seen hanging up on the decaying walls. I have to take a moment and mention the incredible performance by actor Torben Bille who is extremely skin crawling as Olaf. His on-screen presence really gives me the creeps, and I don’t say that lightly. Honestly, he is a big reason why this film works so well. Fans of ultra sleaze will find this endlessly watchable with very few dull moments. The Sinful Dwarf may not have the greatest plot and the ending is a bit limp, but going into this you shouldn’t expect high art .You might be wondering where you can find this wonderful “little” gem? Well, you are in luck because Severin Films has released a great looking Blu-ray loaded with new features. I highly recommended it.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMING SOON (BLU-RAY): Drive-In Massacre

COMING SOON (BLU-RAY): Drive-In Massacre

Drive-In Massacre (1977)
Coming to Blu-Ray

Heads Will Roll

Distributor: Severin
Release Date: 3/14/2017

About the Film:

I have to admit I feel extremely lucky that I have an actual fully functional drive-in that I can go to in the summer time. But I’m sure it couldn’t compare to the wild and seamy drive-ins of yesteryear. So those looking for a slice of nostalgia and gore filled romp should defiantly seek out Drive-In Massacre. The plot is pretty straightforward: A savage killer armed with a sword is slicing and dicing his way through a rural California drive-in. Now it’s up to two bumbling cops to solve the crime before more bodies pile up. The film suffers from horrible over padding and a tepid plot, but fans of Grindhouse sleaze, lots of ultra carnage, and some unintentional hilarity will be able to look past its flaws and enjoy it for its other merits. What saves this for me is it wears its heart on its bloody sleeve, and it doesn’t try to be something more than a fun, by the numbers slasher with some nice quirky moments thrown in for good measure. For example, the one gentleman cop going in undercover drag (and not passable) is an unexpected treat for the audience and something that makes it stick out. Again, it’s not brilliant, but it’s a perfectly serviceable nasty little gem to crawl out of the 70s. One can even forgive the obvious and sadly outdated marketing gimmick.

Picture/Sound:

Fans are treated to a brand new transfer using a recently discovered original 35mm print. The end result is a near flawless looking picture which is a huge improvement to previous releases. Colors are balanced nicely and skin tones look natural. Thankfully it doesn’t suffer from being washed out. Night scenes are practically good looking. Sound fares pretty Well with a nice 2.0 audio track. Sounds are crisp with little noise distortion — again a much needed improvement from previous editions.

Extras:

Severin has proved they can hang with the big boys of cult/horror blu ray releases and they are kicking off 2017 with some stellar releases. Drive in Massacre features brand new interviews with co-writer/actor John F.Goff, Norm Sheridan and director Stu Segall. The interviews are both fun and informative and are a must for fans of this sleazy 70’s slice’em up. Perhaps my favorite new feature is the feature length commentary with Stu Segall. And rounding out the extras is the infamous trailer with the misspelled title. Put it all together it’s a great collection of new features giving it a complete picture of this sorely over looked, entertaining Grindhouse classic. Also look for a hidden Easter egg on the main menu.

Overall:

While not one of the best slashers of the decade it is a lot of fun and those looking to add this to your slice and dice collection will not feel cheated. Not only is the sound/picture great but a lot of love was put into the brand new extras making this a must own blu release. For a limited time anyone who buys off their site will receive an autographed copy at no extra cost.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments