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MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/5 historically accurate shocks for this film


Posted by Candace Stone in BRUTAL REALITY, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

INTERVIEW: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

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

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Sam Hel

Mercedes as Emily

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

MOVIE REVIEW: Ahockalypse (2018)

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

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

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

Ahockalypse

Posted by Spencer Evatt in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

Interview with Domiziano Cristopharo

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

Domiziano Cristopharo

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

Domiziano Cristopharo

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

Domiziano Cristopharo

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

MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

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

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

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

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

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

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW:  The Meg (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Meg (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOVIE REVIEW: How It Ends (2018)

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

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

How It Ends / IMDB

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

How It Ends / IMDB

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

How It Ends / IMDB

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

Posted by Tiffany Blem in FAMILY HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Exclusive Review: Stirring (2018)

HoTS Exclusive Review: Stirring (2018)

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

Stirring (2018)

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

Stirring (2018)Stirring (2018)

 

 

 

 

 

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

Stirring (2018)

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

Stirring (2018)

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

Stirring (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Stirring (2018) / Image: Troy Escamilla

Overall Grade: A+

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

BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5/5 claws

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Charleston, SC: One of America’s Most Haunted Cities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Graveyard Girl in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, 0 comments
UPDATE: Zombieland 2 (2019)

UPDATE: Zombieland 2 (2019)

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

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

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

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

Zombieland 2 Update: Derek Graf in Zombieland (2009)

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

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

Happy Nightmares!
ZombieGurl

Posted by ZombieGurl in EXCLUSIVE, FAMILY HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR NEWS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Joe Bob Briggs’ Last Drive In Mutants Crash Shudder

Joe Bob Briggs’ Last Drive In Mutants Crash Shudder

Ever since it was announced in June that Joe Bob Briggs would be on Shudder, the countdown was on. Briggs would be live on Shudder on June 13th for a 24-hour marathon. Fast forward to Friday the 13th, and the inevitable happened, The Last Drive-In crashed Shudder.

Joe Bob Briggs tells his social media followers they broke Shudder.

The event began Friday night and right off the bat, users were not able to see the opening film, Tourist Trap. Joe Bob’s social media team were quick to give updates on what was going on. Shudder and team Joe Bob worked tirelessly to fix the issues. The problem came with an easy diagnosis. Not even Shudder could anticipate how many Mutants (Joe Bob fans) still loved the drive-in host.

To Shudder’s credit, they developed a game plan. Initially, the thought process was that this event would be available to view only during the 1st showing. There was talk that if the viewership was high, Shudder would air it on demand. The mutants responded by crashing the site for well over an hour (and in some cases more). Shudder made some quick decisions to appease their viewers. Shudder sent the following Tweets:

So fans that missed out on Shudder, can see the marathon on other VOD platforms. The marathon ended on Saturday night, and Shudder wasted no time making the marathon available.

Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, Shudder Tweet #3The films are available to watch on Shudder right now in 13 episodes. Each episode is one of the 13 films with the commentary from Briggs during the breaks. The 13 films are as follows: Tourist Trap, Sleepaway Camp, Rabid, The Prowler, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Daughters of Darkness, Blood Feast, Basket Case, Re-Animator, Demons, Legend of Boggy Creek, Hellraiser and Pieces.

As for how the event went…it was amazing, to say the least. I was able to watch a good amount of the marathon and flashed back to a time during the 80s and 90s. I was immediately in my living room from when I was a kid and relived many Saturday nights. Briggs’ commentary had me in tears from laughing. A favorite part of the marathon came with the second film. The film was Sleepaway Camp and during the breaks, Joe Bob was joined by none other than Felissa Rose. If Shudder wanted to find a comedy duo, they may have just done that.

Joe Bob introduced each film with his famous Drive-In Totals. He also gave background on the film, actors, and crew. It felt like a classic Joe Bob Briggs show and fans were excited to see the Drive-In Totals.

Job Bob Briggs gives the drive in totals before Rabid airs on Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.

Job Bob Briggs gives the Drive-In Totals before Rabid airs.

The last surprise from Shudder was that periodically, a promo video aired. Shudder mixed several testimonials from fans and aired the video.

If this was indeed the last drive-in show for Joe Bob Briggs, it was a fun ride. He delivered on the one-liners and informed as well as entertained. The lineup was solid, the mail girl was entertaining and “cosplayed” several movie characters.

Grades:

Execution by Shudder: B

Execution by Joe Bob: A+

Overall: A

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

It was a Sunday afternoon one year ago today and the news popped up on Social Media. George A Romero had passed away at the age of 77. Today we are remembering George A Romero: One Year Later.

George A. Romero as seen in the documentary "Birth of the Living Dead."

George A. Romero as seen in the documentary Birth of the Living Dead

Born in New York in 1940, Romero started out shooting short films and commercials after college in the early 1960s. In 1968, a film he made with John Russo would change a horror sub-genre as we knew it. With a budget of $114,000, Night of the Living Dead unleashed itself on October 1, 1968.It gave a new life and spin on the zombie film. The Godfather of Zombies would make several films over the years, but the —– of the Dead titles would always be what he would gain his fame for. There are six —– of the Dead films in total, with the last one, Survival of the Dead, released in 2009. Romero directed all 6 films.

georgeromero-zombielove / Fair use doctrine. George Romero and friends / Fair use doctrine.

Romero attended several horror cons starting in the early 2000s and continued until right before his passing. He would frequently talk about his films, give his thoughts on the state of the zombie film and share memories with the fans. Romero battled a brief battle with lung cancer, before passing away in his sleep last year on this day. Three months after his passing in front of the Hollywood Toys and Costume Store at 6604 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood honored him posthumously. On October 25th, he finally was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The bittersweet moment of the award is that many felt it should have come years earlier and while he was still alive. He was also honored this past March in the Oscar Memoriam presentation.

ZombieGurl with George A. RomeroCrypt Keeper Clint with George A Romero

Please join everyone at House of Tortured Souls in remembering the “Godfather of the Zombie Film”, George A Romero on the one year anniversary of his passing.

Mad Monster welcomes George Romero

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
National Tattoo Month Salute: Chop Shop Tattoos

National Tattoo Month Salute: Chop Shop Tattoos

July is a spotlight month on tattoos, the people who proudly wear them and the artists. July 17th is National Tattoo Day and I would like to shine the spotlight on one artist. Tattoos a mere 30 years ago were looked at with such disregard that people were looked down on if they had any. Fast forward to now and more people have them than do not. In the home of one of the Army’s largest posts, Fort Bragg, is Chop Shop Tattoos.

Located in the Fayetteville Suburb of Hope Mills, NC, Chop has been a staple in the community for 16 years. One of his specialties is horror. Chop (a former member of the Army) is a proud horror fan. He also loves tattooing horror icons. He has over the last year completed “signature pieces”. These are the faces of the icons and their signatures that follow. Robert Englund’s website, this past spring, featured a piece by Chop of Freddy Krueger for a fan.


The Freddy piece complemented a Leatherface tattoo Chop finished in the winter.

Leatherface tattoo with Gunnar Hansen’s signature, done by Chop Shop Tattoos.

Chop says that he has been tattooing for 20 years and constantly looks for new challenges. He loves horror pieces and frequently discusses the movies of the icon he is tattooing. Some of his other iconic pieces have been portraits of Danny Trejo and Edgar Allen Poe.

So fellow horror fans (especially those with ink), please join me in saluting a horror ink master. Let’s all say Happy Tattoo Month to the man they call Chop!

Chop of Chop Shop Tattoos

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

Occupation (2018) The Conquest BeginsI was fortunate to get a chance to meet up with Australian filmmaker Luke Sparke at the Supanova Convention in Sydney on June 16, 2018, and afterward, attend his special Q & A session to discuss the worldwide release of his latest film Occupation.

Also in attendance was some of Sparke’s amazing Australian and New Zealand cast including Dan Ewing, Rhiannon Fish, Stephanie Jacobsen, Izzy Stevens, Zachary Garred, Felix Williamson, Trystan Go, Charles Terrier, and Ben Chisholm.

Ewing and Chisholm have both appeared previously in Sparke’s debut feature film Red Billabong back in 2016 (the first film premiere I attended), which was the story of two brothers and an ancient battle with a mythological Australian being.

Sparke has revealed that a prequel to Red Billabong is in fact in the works and will feature other indigenous creatures, such as the Yowie. The story will be set during the roaring 1920s near Uluru in the Northern Territory (Australia) – infamously known for the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 (aka “A dingo ate my baby” case). This prequel is still in the development stage but very much in production, and Sparke himself says, “There was so much I can do in that world of the Bunyip, that I didn’t get to explore in Red Billabong. I’m excited for what we can expand on.”

Occupation (2018) alien at Supernova ConventionSparke’s newest film is due out in the USA on July 20, 2018 and in Australia on July 12, 2018). Surprisingly, a sequel to Occupation was already announced on May 31, 2018, with details yet to be made clear (to avoid spoilers on the first film). The second script has been in the works since November of 2017.

During the Q & A, attendees were treated to a 90-second clip from Occupation that featured a bit of intriguing story-line elements, stunning visual effects, and some impressive creations for our alien antagonists.

Next came a behind the scenes video diary look at some of the footage, and Temuera Morrison began to speak about the film and the plot, saying, “You stop for a pie somewhere and all hell breaks loose.” He praises the diversity of the cast that Sparke has assembled before we meet Rhiannon Fish, who praises Temuera Morrison’s amazing guidance of the younger cast and explains how the rain machines cause a mild form of PTSD. Charles Mesure interjects to discuss the concepts of aliens invading a small Australian country town followed by Jacqueline McKenzie’s praise of Sparke’s ingenuity employing the $6 million budget to maximum impact and creating such amazing visual effects. Dan Ewing appears on-screen and says, “Luke has made such a human piece. The best part is when you get to blow stuff up.” Finally, we are treated to an array of fantastic looking stills, and he joins the cast in attendance on stage.

  • Luke Sparke: It is a fantastic Australian-made thrill ride with dark and light themes, a fun action adventure that Aussie films are lacking at the moment. The inspiration was that I was the child of the 1980s and in LA pitching films, and I came up with this based on loving sci-fi and six months later we were filming. Dan found out at Hog’s Breath Cafe.
  • Dan Ewing: Yes, we were at lunch when Luke told me about it and the richness of the characters. It was exciting.
  • Stephanie Jacobsen: I was in LA and said to my agent that I wanted to go back to Australia and do a sci-fi film, and strangely two weeks later got offered script, read it, leapt at it, and signed on.
  • Zachary Garred: I was sent an email, and it was, of course, ambitious and exciting, so it was an easy yes.
  • Rhiannon Fish: I was just so excited and wanted to sign on immediately!
  • Trystan Go: I was happy to work in the family law and for this, I assumed I would be able to shoot aliens.
  • Charles Terrier: Luke actually played a joke on me and said, “Ahhhh you didn’t get it just move on”. Then [he] said “Nah, I’m fucking with you”, and laughed.
  • Ben Chisholm: I said yes and wanted it to become a country and western. And to fight aliens.

The next question posed was regarding the Australian setting because we have all seen the USA being attacked and fighting back.

  • Luke: Yeah, it’s been done. So we turned it on our own shores, and we get to see those people we all know and they all band together and fight back, which is what the Aussie spirit is all about!
  • Charles: It was cool learning the military histories and all from that background and hanging out with ex-servicemen and learning from them.
  • Dan: It was a surprise for me how rich and how deep the characters were…. how cool they are and how much you care about these characters.
  • Trystan: It was so visceral that you can’t help [but] amazingly get involved in the story.
  • Luke: The fact [that] this is opening in USA cinemas is a testament that the cast and crew were amazing.
  • Rhiannon: Well, going from The 100 and then returning to do Aussie sci-fi was fun. I do love the world of sci-fi because anything is possible, but the difference is that Australia is home and it is wonderful to get to come back and work on an incredible film here.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Stephanie Jacobsen, Dan Ewing, Izzy Stevens, Rhiannon Fish, Trystan Go, and Writer/Director Luke Sparke.

The cast was then asked how they relate personally to their characters.

  • Stephanie: For me, she kind of assumes the big sister role and is very protective, as I am. That’s how I related to her.
  • Dan: I think it is okay for people to not be okay. Men are so often ruled by their egos. At times I was sharing my pains, depressions, or my demons as my character, and we see him develop and grow as a man.
  • Izzy: I gained independence at an early age, and I related to that in Isabella, and I did think I was like that and knew a lot and protected my family.
  • Rhiannon: I felt like it was far less of a stretch, and she was just easy to relate to.
  • Trystan: He is a teenager, and I am in high school. (laughs)
  • Zachary: Well…homeless Dennis has stayed on a few couches and backpacked a little, ’cause he’s shifty and a survivalist. And that’s what I try to do and find that gold inside it.
  • Ben: I am an asshole, and he’s an asshole. Nah, I loved his loyalty and how it puts him in opposition with other characters.
  • Felix: Major Davis is a kick-ass soldier and we have absolutely nothing in common, but I did enjoy the adventure of pretending to be him and enjoyed it.

Destroying the opera house is becoming a regular thing, and not too many real invasion stories, but Australia seems to be ripe and worried about big invasions. How did you think you could bring a new twist to the film within the genre?

  • Luke: What I wanted to bring was —for the big fans of films like Red Dawn, like me — I wanted to bring something more to this film. The working together, fighting aliens, those ten people who wouldn’t have had anything to do with one another anyway. A real sense of reality, the past and bringing that to the story. Not trying to save the world, but the sense of reality and character and to see where it goes from there.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Felix Williamson, Ben Chisholm, Charles Terrier, Zachary Garred, Stephanie Jacobsen, and Dan Ewing.

Did you find yourself looking for other influences, like hanging with military guys, specifically Australian military? What assistance did you get?

  • Luke: I went to the military, and the ADF (Australian Defence Force) didn’t wanna be involved. So I got ex-military involved instead.
  • Dan: Matt was more originally that Captain America type of leader, but his injury led him into a depression and made it so that the aliens were the least of Matt’s problems.
  • Zachary: Dennis was originally a tattooist, and Luke couldn’t find a parlor grungy enough for his character, so Luke dropped the character and I spoke to Luke and ran with our concept of Dennis from there.

The logo is the second commandos insignia. How did you get permission to use it, and what Australian laws allowed the film’s use of firearms?

  • Luke: Yes, it is. Of course, [for] the logo… we went to the lawyers and spoke with the army brand manager. We told them what we were going to be doing with it, changed it enough to look somewhat different, and they were fine. As for the weapons, Armour in Queensland helped us, and we used best from Sydney. We used proper licenses to shoot at a quarry and it became very loud. The next day was a huge thing on Facebook because we made too much noise, much more than expected.

Are there any drop bears in Occupation?

  • Luke: Actually the AFL team in the film is called the drop bears.

Finally, how did you decide to base it in more of a country town than in the cities like Balmain or Cronulla?

  • Luke: International people think of country or the bush with Australia, and you do see Sydney throughout the film. Small town Australia is very personifying and that small town country feel and the budget as well….but the big things have small beginnings.
Occupation (2018) panel at Supernova Convention

L-R: Ben Chisholm, Charles, Zachary, Stephanie Jacobsen, Dan Ewing, Izzy Stevens, Rhiannon Fish, Trystan Go, and Writer/Director Luke Sparke

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, SCI-FI HORROR, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

Harlan Ellison / Fair use doctrine.Around 1988, I had the great pleasure of spending two days off and on with Harlan Ellison. My first encounter was as part of a group of six having dinner with Harlan Ellison the night before he was to speak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When we met him in his hotel lobby, we discovered that no one had bothered to tell Harlan. There were mutterings of what to do, our group asking Harlan because he seemed annoyed. In typical Harlan fashion, he snapped, “Don’t ask me what I want to do because I want to go upstairs and go to bed.” Without missing a beat, I asked, “So should we all go upstairs and go to bed with you?” Harlan’s face was priceless, but the ice had been broken and we proceeded to dinner and an evening I will always remember.

Harlan was cantankerous, abrasive, temperamental, kind, considerate, and a force all his own. I will miss him deeply.

Original cover for Harlan Ellison's Rumble, now titled Web of the City.Born in 1934, Harlan Ellison grew up in Ohio and briefly attended Ohio State University before being expelled allegedly for punching a teacher who had criticized his writing ability. Ellison also served two years in the army in spite of being staunchly anti-war. Ellison published his first work in 1958, a novel titled Rumble, now retitled Web of the City, a semi-autobiographical non-fiction recollection of his time in a Brooklyn gang. The same year two short story collections were published, A Touch of Infinity and The Deadly Streets. After working in television for many years, Ellison published The Glass Teat in 1970, a collection of essays reflecting his opinion of television. The Other Glass Teat, published in 1975, is a follow-up work in the same vein.Harlan Ellison's The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat

Harlan Ellison was an American author whose fictional pieces were often of a science fiction, horror, or sci-fi horror nature, but anyone who ever called Harlan a “science fiction” writer never made that mistake a second time. Harlan eschewed labels that pigeon-holed his writing. Ellison’s 1,700+ published works include teleplays, screenplays, novellas, comic book scripts, and short stories as well as essays and critiques of television, film, literature, and more. For his work, Ellison has won Jupiter, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Writer’s Guild of America, and Edgar awards. In 2000, Ellison also received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for his contributions to the field of horror literature.

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog

Don Johnson as Vic and Tiger as Blood in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog

Ellison’s work can be seen on television shows such as Star Trek, The Sixth Sense, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Hunger, Logan’s Run, and Babylon 5. In 1975, Ellison’s novella A Boy and His Dog was adapted into a movie with a very young Don Johnson and a (not as young) Jason Robards (Harlan, though not pleased with the adaptation, kindly autographed my copy). His 1967 short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, a post-apocalyptic tale of sentient computers and suffering humans, won the Hugo award that year and is often considered one of the greatest post-apocalyptic stories of the 20th Century.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison's "The City on the Edge of Forever", one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

William Shatner and Joan Collins in Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”, one of the most highly acclaimed Star Trek episodes.

Ellison was also known for taking a vocal stand when he perceived that his work was being butchered or his creative contributions undermined. When this happened, Ellison would direct that the credits read Cordwainer Bird – save when he disagreed with changes to the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”. Interestingly, both Ellison’s original script and the shooting script won awards, the former being the Writers Guild for best episodic television drama (1968) and the latter being a Hugo for best dramatic presentation (1968). This episode also inspired the punk band Edith Keeler Must Die and the song “Edith Keeler Must Die” by Arigon Starr, both named after Spock’s assertion that, “Jim, Edith Keeler must die.” Nevertheless, while Hollywood may’ve not appreciated his efforts, Constant Readers certainly did. For fans, the name Cordwainer Bird immediately evokes knowing nods and “Um-hms”.

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club / Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp

Regardless of his irascibility, his work has influenced countless other authors. Stephen King speaks fondly of Harlan and other authors who helped answer questions for Danse Macabre, his 1981 non-fiction book on horror in media.

Lastly, thanks are due to the writers— Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Jack Finney, Peter Straub, and Anne Rivers Siddons among them— who were kind enough to answer my letters of enquiry and to provide information about the genesis of the works discussed here. Their voices provide a dimension to this work which would otherwise be sadly lacking.
— Stephen King

I think that sentiment is as appropriate now – Harlan’s death will leave the world and the world of fiction sadly lacking. Rest in peace, Mr. Ellison.

I’d like to end this with another anecdote from my adventure with Harlan. Among the many outstanding moments, this one stands out above the others.

After dinner, we walked around 5-Points South and stopped to look over some items in the window of Memory Lane. I spotted a button that read “WAR is Menstruation ENVY” and laughed outrageously. We all agreed that it was awesome. The following day Harlan spoke to a small group from the UAB Honors Program. I arrived late to find that he had saved me a seat beside him. As I sat down, Harlan presented that same button to me. I still have it.

Thank you, Harlan. Rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR NEWS, OBITUARY, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
Shudder Announces The Return Of Joe Bob Briggs

Shudder Announces The Return Of Joe Bob Briggs

After several months of speculation and a strong social media campaign, the rumors are true.  Joe Bob Briggs, America’s favorite Drive-In host will return for his swan song.  Shudder announced this morning a 13 movie marathon event on Friday, July 13th (appropriate that its a Friday The 13th).  According to the press release, it will begin on Friday at 9 PM (EST).  It is being titled The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs, an indicator that this will be the last time Joe Bob will host a television event … for now.

Briggs began as a writer at Texas Monthly and the Dallas Times Herald.  From there he went on to do a one-man show debuting in Cleveland in 1985.  It was the following year that would make Joe Bob Briggs a household name for horror fans, however.  What started off as a guest host job on TMC’s Drive-In Theater, turned into a 10-year gig.

When TMC changed their format in 1996, Joe Bob was out of a job, but only for a brief period.  In June of 1996, TNT brought Joe Bob in to take over MonsterVision.  MonsterVision lasted until 2000.

In January of this year, Joe Bob Briggs announced that Shudder had an interest in having him return to TV.  Joe Bob had his fans submit video testimonials about what it would mean to make this a reality.

The date for the return would be Friday, June 22nd.  But, that would change (as most things in the industry do) and fans were left waiting.  Yesterday, however, Shudder made the announcement that The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs would air July 13th.  Shudder said the following:

Characterized by an outrageous worldview and trademark “Drive-in Totals” lists, Joe Bob’s film critiques amassed a loyal fan base through his long-running TV series Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater and, later, MonsterVision. For 14 years between the two shows, Joe Bob was the ultimate fan, a voice of authority with an unconventional, affable approach. Ahead of his time then, Joe Bob is now a legendary voice within the horror community, and THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS reminds audiences of the host’s singular perspective on the genre.
Joe Bob BriggsJoe Bob is a horror icon and raconteur whose signature wit and insightful commentary entertained viewers for 14 years on TV,” said Craig Engler, general manager of Shudder. “We’re delighted to bring him back for this exclusive Shudder event where new fans can discover him, and old fans can rediscover him, as he takes on some of the greatest low-budget horror movies ever made.

For the fans, there will be the elements that they have loved for years.  There will be the Drive-In totals for each movie.  Joe Bob will pop in during “commercial breaks with no commercials” and give his 2 cents.  The set looks just like it did when Joe Bob hosted MonsterVision.  There are 13 titles coming over the coming weeks, but here are the first three.

  • Tourist Trap (1979) — July 13: Five friends are hunted by a creepy killer after stopping to visit a roadside museum in this slasher that counts Stephen King as one of its biggest fans. After car trouble, the doomed group goes to visit an odd attraction filled with eerie mannequins that seem to be alive. Tourist Trap is an off-kilter thriller that will have you rethinking any stops on your next road trip.

  • Sleepaway Camp (1983) — July 13: Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, campers and counselors meet their ends in a series of grisly murders. This bloody “who done it” features a shock ending that stands the test of time.
Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten in Sleepaway Camp (1983)

  • Basket Case (1982) — July 14: In a tale of revenge with a demented twist, a young man and his basket-bound, hideously deformed twin brother seek vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will.
0831_220px-Basketcaseposter

Whether this is, in fact, the final hurrah for Joe Bob Briggs, fans are happy he gets his send-off.  The ONLY way to see this is through Shudder, and it will be a live event.  That means to catch it all, you must tune in when it begins.

Joe Bob Briggs

Below is the official promo from Shudder you can view to get excited!  Now fellow mutants, join everyone at House of Tortured Souls and welcome back to TV, Mr. Joe Bob Briggs!

 

 

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, 0 comments
SyFy Announces Clive Barker’s Nightbreed TV Series

SyFy Announces Clive Barker’s Nightbreed TV Series

Nicholas Vince as Kinski in Nightbreed (1990)

Nicholas Burman-Vince as Kinski in Nightbreed (1990)

Cabal, Clive Barker’s 1988 novella about a man’s struggle with self-demons and ultimate attempt to find the mythical(?) sanctuary city of Midian, is being brought to TV by SyFy, Morgan Creek Entertainment (Nightbreed (1990) directed by David Cronenberg), Universal Cable Prods, and writer Josh Stolberg,

SyFy’s Nightbreed will explore race relations in the US using the human-monster dichotomy displayed throughout the novella. The story will follow a group of subterranean monster-humans forced to find another place to live after their home is destroyed.

Doug Bradley as Dirk Lylesberg in Nightbreed (1990)

Doug Bradley as Dirk Lylesbergi in Nightbreed (1990)

Before I continue, I want to talk a bit about the movie Nightbreed, which gets some criticism, but should it? For me, I had a difficult time relating to the protagonist because of the casting choice and likewise his girlfriend. However, every other performance blew me away. I have mixed feelings. It’s nothing against either of the actors; they just didn’t click with me. Watch and decide for yourself.

Horror TV series are popular right now, The Walking Dead is still going in spite of the departure of Andrew Lincoln, Ash vs Evil Dead was doing well but not well enough for Starz, I (okay, borderline horror for the younger set) seems popular, Supernatural still pushing it on Netflix, and scores more. But, people are dropping cable packages to watch online. What does this say for the possibility of a win with this one?

Simon Bamford as Ohnaka with friend in Nightbreed (1990)

Simon Bamford as Ohnaka with friend in Nightbreed (1990)

From to the names attached, we can be cautiously hopeful. David Robinson, President of Morgan Creek Entertainment Group, seems quite optimistic:

There has never been a more relevant time for us to turn to one of the genre’s great cult classics from our movie library to impact the national conversation with bold, compelling and unconventional storytelling. The team at Morgan Creek is very excited to partner with Clive Barker, Syfy and Universal Cable Productions on Nightbreed for a unique, trenchant and no-holds-barred exploration of race relations in today’s society. As a sophisticated twist on the classic graphic novel form, Nightbreed pits ‘Humans’ against persecuted monsters, using metaphor and parable to take on bias and prejudice with real-world consequences.

Maybe we can be a little more than cautiously optimistic. Star Trek managed to address these issues with a great deal of success.

David Cronenberg in Nightbreed (1990)

David Cronenberg as Dr. Philip K. Decker in Nightbreed (1990)

Keep your claws crossed. I am.

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments