Donovan Smith

Monster Interviews: Seth Breedlove- Small Town Monsters

Monster Interviews: Seth Breedlove- Small Town Monsters

Seth Breedlove is a producer, writer, and director from Bolivar, Ohio. He’s best known for his company, Small Town Monsters. In 2015 Breedlove released his first documentary film, The Minerva Monster, based on the local legend. Thanks to a warm reception from viewers, STM quickly built a huge fan base and has continued their strong storytelling ever since.

A fan of cryptids himself, Breedlove has initially been working in medical billing when he tried to pitch a book idea about monsters around the United States, called Small Town Monsters. After several unsuccessful attempts to seal the deal, while doing a podcast, he decided it was finally time to follow through and make what would be his first of many films to come. STM currently remains at the forefront of cryptozoology and has yet to hit their stride.

  • DS: At what point did you realize you wanted to be a filmmaker and how did you wind up working behind the camera, directing?

 

  • SB: I knew I wanted to make movies in my teens, and really, the goal upon graduating high school was to head off to New York Film Academy, learn the craft and then start making movies. I ended up doubting the realism of pursuing a career in making movies, and giving up on the idea and going through numerous, monotonous jobs before making Minerva Monster. In a way, though, I’d been training to make movies for a couple of decades, by merely watching anything I could get my hands on and reading books about directors and film making going back to my teens. I ended up being the director because I did the initial research work and picked the stories we made early on. Then everything else built up around me after those first two STM movies, and soon I was running my own production company.

 

  • DS: When did your affection for cryptids begin? What was it initially that attracted you to them, and what compelled you to feel the need to share and tell their stories?

 

  • SB: I got into Cryptids reasonably recently. Maybe 10-12 years ago. Initially, it was just a casual interest brought about by watching some crappy tv shows about sea monsters and Bigfoot. Then I started learning about sightings taking place near my hometown of Bigfoot-type creatures which sparked my interest, and soon I was interviewing people about their experiences. I just wanted to know if there was anything to the subject; any shred of truth. Once I started going down the rabbit hole, then I started seeing there was a need for films that retold essential events rather than focused on running trying to find real monsters and so that’s what I decided to do.

 

 

  • DS: How did you come up with Small Town Monsters? What was your inspiration for creating the brand and logo, and does it have any significant meaning to you?



  • SB: I grew up in a small town, and I was fascinated by the Minerva Monster case, which involved a rash of hairy monster sightings near the small town of Minerva, Ohio in the 1970s. I had learned that most of the city had forgotten the story or didn’t want anything to do with it which seemed a shame to be given its importance to the area at the time. I found a handful of other similar cases from around the US and started compiling a list of them that could be turned into films. This was back in 2013. Originally, Small Town Monsters was simply the name of a casebook I was pitching to publishers, but it eventually became the series title and the name of the production company.



  • The logo was brilliantly created by my friend Michael Santi. I think the name and branding have worked out pretty well. It’s all right there. You see the logo or the series name, and you instantly know what you’re going to get.

 

 

  • DS: What led you to want to chase monsters? Which cryptids are your favorite and which ones do you find the most intriguing?



  • SB: Oh, I don’t even consider it is chasing monsters. I’ve been on a couple of searches for Bigfoot, but that was mostly due to the filming of On the Trail of Bigfoot. I consider what we are doing storytelling. I’m much more interested in capturing witness accounts and retelling these stories in an exciting way than I am in the actual reality of the monsters. Although Bigfoot is a little different, I guess. I want to know if that’s legit, so Bigfoot is probably my favorite. I love the Flatwoods Monster and Mothman, and I’m intrigued by the Thunderbird phenomenon right now, so that’s where I’m focused, currently.

 

 

  • DS: You’ve recently produced some pretty potent content. At the risk of becoming stale, how do you plan to keep things current and innovative, and not bogged down with the same old stories?



  • SB: We try to change up the style and storytelling on every project based on our interests and those dictated by the actual events. “On the Trail of” allows us to play with episodic storytelling and they’re shot in a news shooter or verite style while the movies tend to be much more cinematic. You’ll see three utterly different storytelling styles on display this year from STM, with the cinema verite style of Otto to the traditional, historical documentary style of Terror in the Skies to the drive-in, 70s horror-inspired MOMO: The Missouri Monster where over 70 percent of the film is a narrative retelling of the monster sightings. Things would get stale, not just for the audience but for us, if we just kept doing the same stuff over and over, so you’ll probably see us shake things up with each new project

 

  • However, the editing side of On the Trail of Bigfoot was a beast, compared to something like Terror in the Skies. I was trying to distill years of history or easily explain multiple storytelling threads in short, 25-30 minute chunks. I think every episode was edited and re-edited at least three times to make it all work. It was exhausting because I was editing “Terror” at the same time.

 

    • DS: You’re “On the Trail of” series is fantastic. How did that concept originate and what’s it like doing a tv series as opposed to a film?
    • SB: Thanks so much! I was so nervous putting that series out since it’s such a dramatic departure from the movies, but the response has been phenomenal. The concept behind the “On the Trail of” series is still being worked out. Initially, it was just what we do with the movies only episodic. Then Aleksandar Petakov made his On the Trail of Champ series and changed my thinking about what the title could mean. I love the fact that it’s pretty much been a one-man-band project from the beginning. That added such an interesting approach to the film making side of it and presented a challenge for me that I loved tackling. The actual filming of the series is considerably more straightforward in some ways, from our films. With the movie, we’re trying to set the bar higher and higher visually on each project, and we have to do lighting for interviews and the recreations and all that. On the Trail merely is me setting my camera down in front of someone and they talk to it, or me with a camera in the woods capturing whatever happens.
    •  
    • DS: Being a journalist and reporter yourself, how does it feel to be interviewing and interacting with some of the famous legends in the field of cryptozoology, such as Lyle Blackburn, Loren Coleman, and Linda S. Godfrey?


    • SB: I try to learn as much from them as possible. Someone like Linda or Loren, where they’ve spent years looking into these subjects and have such a portfolio of work behind them. Linda was intimidating, as well, because I’m a writer and started as a newspaper reporter much as she did. Our paths follow a similar trajectory, although she pushed further into writing while I moved more toward the visual side of things. I’ve come to appreciate getting to spend time with people like those three because they can teach me so much.
    • DS: Where can people keep up to date with you, as well as follow Small Town Monsters? Which social channels are you most active on?


    • SB: We’re on Facebook, or Twitter and Instagram. I do a podcast called Monsteropolis with my buddy Mark Matzke which is an STM production, so that’s a great place to keep up with us. The official website is smalltownmonsters.com or onthetrailof.tv.
    • DS : Do you have any upcoming projects or campaigns you want to inform your fans? Is there anything unique or exciting you have planned for STM in the future?



    • SB: Terror in the Skies lands on June 7th, which I’m excited. I think it’s a visual feast and deals with some topics that are important to me, personally. Momo is the next phase in the evolution of STM and will blow some minds when it arrives this Halloween. It will be the first of its kind. 2020 will be a banner year for us, as well, since we’ll be celebrating our fifth STM anniversary. We have some great stuff planned for the Kickstarter launching next February so stay tuned for that.
  • DS: To wrap up, we usually like to ask what your favorite horror film of all time is. However, since STM deals in cryptids, what’s your favorite cryptid based movie of all time?



  • SB: Man…can I call Creature from the Black Lagoon a cryptid film? It’s always seemed like one to me. Otherwise, I’d go with Creature from Black Lake. That’s just an entertaining, campy 70s horror movie that I’ve come to love while prepping for MOMO.

 


Posted by Donovan Smith in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, HORROR HISTORY, HOSTED HORROR, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, NEW RELEASES, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Mr. Bellinger – Cigarette Burns (2005)

Monster Villains: Mr. Bellinger – Cigarette Burns (2005)

In this month’s Monster Villains we’re going to be spotlighting a highly underrated character who’s evil ways have never really been discussed before. When it comes to the most brutal and heinous individuals in the genre, this one earns a top spot. He possesses a blatant disregard for life and displays no respect or sympathy for anyone or anything other than himself.

With an endless list of evil subjects to choose from, some are without a doubt more deserving than others. However, when it comes to our current topic, he’s morally one of the worst to even step foot in the genre. I’m talking of course about the rotten and sadistic Mr. Bellinger from John Carpenter’s 2005 Masters of Horror episode titled, Cigarette Burns.

The film directed by none other than the genre god and master of horror, John Carpenter. It stars Norman Reedus and Udo Kier. A private investigator is hired to track down the last remaining copy of a film so evil it causes its viewers to perform crude acts of self-mutilation and suicide.

Mr. Bellinger (Kier) is a collector of some of the most bizarre and deranged pieces of cinema in the world. He comes off just like every other eccentric rich guy. However, he has an unhealthy infatuation and obsession with locating and tracking down the film known for driving; violent acts of murder and death in a single screening.

I have a collection of over eight thousand films. The most extreme images. Created by some of the most obscure filmmakers from around the world.”

What makes Mr. Bellinger evil, is some of the things in his possession. He collects films and props from beyond our conscious conception – like the man he has trapped in his basement. His determination and persistence to own and watch these things, lead to multiple deaths along the way.

It’s been written that everyone has a dark side if even the smallest fraction. They say the majority of people understand that concept and coexist by living peacefully amongst society. How you chose to deal with those feelings when no one is looking, is what truly makes you who you are. And what Mr. B is doing, is cruel and terrifying.

Mr. Bellinger has decided to embrace his inner beast and obtain a copy of the infamous film to screen once more. Doing so could potentially bring about the end of the world. But he doesn’t care one bit and will stop at nothing to get his hands on the last remaining copy of “La Fin Absolue Du Monde.

The fact that humankind is an afterthought to Bellinger, makes him completely unstable. And with his access to life-threatening tools of such high magnitude, he’s the real Dr. evil, tenfold. He’s necessarily a soldier of darkness and one of the worst villains ever created. To him, life means nothing and is something to be tossed away like last nights trash.

While Bellinger isn’t the director of the infamous film, he’s trying to acquire it. He wants to expose people to it. He wants to exploit its supernatural power and unleash it. He’s despicable, dangerous and ultimately one of the evilest characters in all of horror.

Morally, it doesn’t get much worse than Mr. Bellinger. If you’re not familiar with this iconic monster villain yet, you’re in for one awesome surprise. He’s a horrible individual and worthy of recognition. If you haven’t again, do yourself a favor and check him out.

Posted by Donovan Smith in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, OPINION, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Monster Exclusive: 1979 Phantasm Live with Don Coscarelli

Monster Exclusive: 1979 Phantasm Live with Don Coscarelli

I recently had the chance to attend a screening of the new 4K restoration of the 1979 classic, Phantasm, with Don Coscarelli live in attendance. With a sold-out theater, a Q&A afterward and a book signing following that, it’s a night a fan won’t soon forget. Thanks to the awesome people of Alamo Drafthouse Phoenix, I managed to get the low down on this spectacular, one-of-a-kind event.

Watching what is arguably the most excellent horror film of all time on the big screen, is an absolute dream come true. But that wasn’t the only thing happening that night at the special event. No, the legend himself Mr. Don Coscarelli was in attendance, consuming the newly restored film right alongside the sold-out crowd.

Just being in the same theater with the man who’s inspired countless filmmakers and passionate fans for decades, is enough to satiate your inner id. Before the film played, Coscarelli dedicated the special showing to Angus Scrimm (wherever he might be). And as cliche, as it might sound, it was like being a kid in a candy shop. The film looked and sounded the best it ever has, thanks to the new 4K video and audio restorations by J.J. Abrams and the fantastic people at Bad Robot.

The Q&A segment after the film finished and Don Coscarelli took the stage to a standing ovation, is what proved the night to be a special one. There were some great questions from a dedicated die-hard audience. One problem in particular, “What is it like to be a genre icon?” caused the beloved writer and director to become a bit apprehensive and bashful for a moment. 
It was enlightening to hear the answers and stories to some of the questions posed by the fans like learning what happened to the badass Hemi Barracuda after the film wrapped.
The car was stored at the house of someone who helped make the film, once it was no longer needed. Being it was customized with a sunroof for certain scenes in the movie, the car eventually suffered water damaged due to leakage from storms during its time left sitting.

The car, unfortunately, grew moldy thanks to the interior water damage, and the person who was storing it was told they could keep the car or any money they might get if they sold it, as payment for storing the car on their property. The vehicle was said to have been sold for $1000 and ended up last seen on a used car lot. To this day, the whereabouts of the original vehicle is still unknown. 

And speaking of Mr. Abrams, the story goes that not all that long ago, Abrams wanted to show Phantasm to some colleagues of his that had never seen the film. He has been inspired by the film ever since he first watched when he was around 15 years old. One day Abrams called up Coscarelli and asked him to send over a screener for a viewing. Coscarelli obliged and sent over the best copy he had on hand. Abrams then contacted Coscarelli once more asking about an HD version of the film, to which there weren’t one thanks to distribution problems.

After Coscarelli explained the issue to Abrams, J.J. informed him that once they finished his current projects (Star Wars and Star Trek), he could bring over Phantasm and Abrams would have his company Bad Robot restore the 1979 classic. Luckily for those of us in attendance, we were privileged to be able to watch the newly renovated version shown for the first time, on the big screen.Not only did they remaster the film, but they remastered the audio as well. It was like rediscovering the movie for the first time all over again, only this time we seeing it and hearing it. 

Coscarelli also explained as to where the Tall Man’s spheres originated. He said that they were products of a recurring nightmare he had back when he was younger. He said he would find himself running down long corridors in his dreams while being chased and pursued by strange silver spheres. It was the only original concept he created in the film. He then went on to say that the rest of the ideas he used in the movie, were inspired by other pre-existing content.

So, if you get the chance to see this film or the newly restored 4K version in the theater, I highly suggest you do so. It’s arguably the best horror film of all time, and the creator is one of the most relaxed and most humble people you’ll ever meet. There’s just no other experience quite like it…boy!

Posted by Donovan Smith in EVENT REVIEWS, EVENTS, EXCLUSIVE, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, HOSTED HORROR, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Critters 2 – Easter Special

Monster Reviews: Critters 2 – Easter Special

When it comes to horror films, nothing quite says Easter like the 1988 sequel, Critters 2. It’s not only a day spent celebrating a creepy giant bunny that lays eggs or the birth of the first zombie, but it’s also a day that represents the genres first legit horror film set on the holiday. However, this is no traditional Easter feast.

When you thought they were dead, the critters are back and hungry for more. It’s been two years since the original events that rocked the small farming town, and the bounty hunters have once again returned to wreak havoc on the critter population. The gun-wielding shapeshifters are on a special intergalactic mission to eradicate the species, and in their own words, “Kill Crites.”

The legendary Mick Garris directs critters 2. The film stars Scott Grimes, Liane Curtis, Terrence Mann, Don Keith Opper, Tom Hodges, Lindsay Parker, Herta Ware, Sam Anderson, Lin Shaye, Roxanne Kernohan, Randy Spears, Barry Corbin, Douglas Rowe, and Cynthia Garris. Mysterious eggs are placed throughout Grover’s Bend as part of towns Annual Easter Egg Hunt, but these eggs come with a hungry price.

With a legendary director and a killer cast, it’s no wonder Critters 2 outperforms the original.In terms of campiness, cool characters, practical effects and arguably the nastiest and toughest creatures to defeat in the horror universe, there’s just no match for the terrifying race of space aliens with insatiable appetites. The kill count outnumbers the original, and the gore is insane. There are some genuinely gorgeous practical effects and some breathtaking scenes involving mangled bodies and torn limbs.

What people don’t realize about the Critters is that in the original there were only eight total Crites,  In the opening sequence from the 1986 cult classic, they say that the Critters have escaped, all 8 of them, and they’ve stolen a spaceship. In part 2 there are hundreds of them and the vermin have continued to multiply, showing no signs of slowing down – as we’ve seen with the latest 2019 Shudder series titled, Critters: A New Binge.

When it comes to monsters, mutants, and boogeymen in horror, the Critters are pretty much at the top of the food chain. I mean it takes intergalactic bounty hunters to track, capture and kill the things after all. They are no slouch and not something you’d never want to ever come across in the dark room. They kill and consume with no impulse control whatsoever. All they do is eat.

Critters 2 is an Easter film you won’t soon forget. It’s full of laughs, gasps and tons of blood. It’s fun, entertaining and downright scary. There’s nothing as mean, ugly or hungry, as the disgusting space raccoons. Not to mention it has one of the catchiest jingles out there.

So, if you’re searching for a film to watch with the family for Easter, this is not it. However, if you’re in the mood for something strange and horrific to help you celebrate, look no further. Critters 2 is the perfect holiday film.

“Pat your tummy and smack your lips, suck for hours on your fingertips. At the Hungry Heifer, we won’t give you a bum steer.”

“And don’t you forget, all of your friendly Hungry Heifer restaurants throughout the Midwest are open on Easter Sunday.”

Posted by Donovan Smith in FAMILY HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR HISTORY, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978

Monster Reviews: Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978

I recently had the chance to attend a viewing of the 1978 science fiction horror classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Victor Moreno and the Alamo Drafthouse Phoenix once again brought us another kickass Terror Tuesday, giving fans a reason to rejoice as they played the brilliant alien invasion classic on the big screen.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a remake of the original 1956 version, which starred Kevin McCarthy. The original film is a black and white adaptation of the 1955 novel by Jack Finney. When seeds drift to earth from space, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade a small town, replicating the residents one body at a time.

The 78 version is full of powerful performances and suspenseful scares. It is a cult classic and often considered superior to the original. It stars Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Don Siegel, and Kevin McCarthy in a cameo appearance. The legendary Philip Kaufman directs the film. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fantastical film full of wonder and allure. It is aesthetically beautiful, with exquisite makeup and some fetching wardrobes. The practical effects are gorgeous and very well constructed. It is a bit dull at times, playing with a softer color palette and monotonous tones. It is not a knock against the film, and it is just only a product of that period. Many movies during the 70’s implored the use of the same structure.

What is fun about the whole Invasion of the Pod People aspect, is that it creates a mystery. You can never quite tell who a Pod person is, and who is not. It is all just guessing game up until the very end. If you fall asleep, you are finished. That was one of the top qualities of the original story by Jack Finney.

Being able to see the classic on the big screen was yet another box happily checked. Films like this are timeless and supply frights and fun for many generations. To have it up and running on the silver screen for fans of all ages to enjoy, is yet another win for genres fans as well as the Alamo Drafthouse.

They were running a sort Goldblum theme, hence the reason for playing the 78’ version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The best part about that was the audience was privileged to experience some trailers from his films. It was a joy to watch, especially the whole behind the scenes interview he gave about being shirtless in Jurassic Park.

Donald Sutherland was great as Matthew Bennell, although they changed his name from Miles to Matthew. In Finney’s novel and the 1956 film, the character’s name was Dr. Miles Bennell. Leonard Nimoy was also impressive and very deceiving as Dr. David Kibner, and Brooke Adams was brilliant. Adams kept the film exciting and delivered a compelling performance. She stole the show.

The score is penetrating and creates an ominous atmosphere throughout. The use of shadowing and foreshadowing are perfect and give it that extra kick it needs to bring the film to life. It is one creepy and disturbing piece of film making. It is relentless and pulls on the heartstrings. It is full of social commentary and is a great nod to that time.

There is nothing more satisfying than getting the chance to catch one of the most popular and influential films of all time on the big screen. It was an invigorating opportunity and a truly exhilarating watch. A movie like this seriously belongs on the screen, and we cannot wait to see what else they have in store.

If you did not get to see the 1978 cult classic in the theater, you can always stream the film or buy a physical copy. It is worth the watch and overall a cinematic piece of history. Just remember to be aware and keep your eyes peeled. You never know what is out there.

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Phantasm 1979 – 40th Anniversary

Monster Reviews: Phantasm 1979 – 40th Anniversary

When it comes to the greatest horror film of all time, Don Coscarelli’s 1979 classic is in the running. It is a frightening fantasy with one of the most iconic and unforgettable slashers the genre has to offer, The Tall Man.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, it is only right we pay tribute to a film that spawned 4 sequels, over 37 years. The all to the recent passing of Angus Scrimm in 2016, has left a huge hole in the horror genre and in our hearts. Luckily, we got one last film with the iconic Tall Man, although fans feel the series did not receive a proper ending and that Phantasm: Ravager was an unsatisfying finish to the most consistent film franchise in the genre.

The 1979 Coscarelli masterpiece is a brooding, dimension jumping, monster fighting, gore-filled classic. It is one of the most complete and flawless old school horror films out there. It is honestly one bad ass piece of cinema and the most fun you can have, watching a horror film. It brings out your inner child and gives you that youthful jolt we all look for from time to time.

The story is absolutely unlike anything else. It is such a twisted and sad tale, full of wonder and imagination. The performances are amazing, as well as the directing, makeup, and music. The costumes are phenomenal and still the best out there. The gore and yellow mustard colored blood (embalming fluid) really adds a creepy ambiance to the film and give it that fantastical vibe. It is a thing of pure beauty.

The sets are spooky and intimidating. They really give the film and dark and macabre touch. The dialogue with sincerity really causes you to be a part of the film. It allows you to escape reality for a while and lose yourself in another world. That is what a good film should do.

The acting is top-notch, despite the film appearing a little rough and rugged around the edges at times. That’s just a product of 70’s film making and a reflection of that time. However, the essential four main actors all give legendary performances, separately, each in their own rights.

Reggie Bannister as Reggie the ice cream man is one of the top hero horror roles in the entire genre. He is the ultimate good guy, comparable to that of Dean Winchester from the TV show Supernatural. His lifelong pursuit of the Tall Man eventually lands him as the lead protagonist of the franchise, as he appears in every film.

The roles of brothers Jodi (Thornbury) and Mike (Baldwin) and their battles with Tall Man are simply spectacular. It is a never-ending, multi-dimensional, epic battle of good vs evil. A. Michael Baldwin gives such a heart filled performance as the younger brother Mike. And Bill Thornbury is the epitome of cool older brothers. He has sensational throughout the series, along with Baldwin (although another actor stepped in for in the second film, returning in the third installment).

But of course, the ultimate character and performance of a lifetime go to Angus Scrimm as the mortician Jebediah Morningside, aka the Tall Man. His portrayal eventually gave birth to one of the most iconic slashers to ever grace the screen. The Tall Man’s sheer strength along with his Lurkers and magical spheres, make him one formidable opponent, and one scary ass villain. Would dare even say the Tall Man is scarier than the Boogeyman himself, Michael Myers.

If you have not seen this masterpiece or the most consistent and well-rounded franchise in horror, what are you waiting for? Just remember, when you are driving down that winding dirt road, chasing the Tall Man, be careful and watch your back. You never know what might be lurking in the dark. Beware the Tall Man… boy.

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Dr. Death – Child’s Play 1988

Monster Villains: Dr. Death – Child’s Play 1988

When it comes to the horror genre, there are countless evil characters that go unnoticed and never get their full due. As a personal fan and an advocate of the so-called “bad guys,” I felt it was necessary to single out those who are truly worthy and highlight them in my new monthly segment.

In Monster Villains we are going to pick out and pay tribute to a new character every month, breaking down and discussing their individual levels of evil. We are going to talk about what constitutes true evil and why certain characters are more nefarious than others. We are going to cover a wide variety of topics and delve into each personality, in search of their true nature.

There are so many deserving evil figures and monsters to choose from – some more warranted than others. I will be dissecting some the most despicable and vile characters worthy of recognition, and explaining why some that are considered good guys, can also be villains, and vice versa. So, hold on tight and enjoy the ride as we explore some of the genres most interesting and virtually unknown characters.

To kick off our very first edition, I thought we would tackle a villain from the film who personifies everything the word evil has to offer. You might not remember him, but you will know his work. This character is one who is never been held responsible for what he is done and is one of the evilest and vile characters to exist. He has earned his rightful slot in the spotlight.

John Aelsop Bishop, better known as Dr. Death from the original 1987 classic Child’s Play, is responsible for the creation of one of the genres most infamous and iconic slashers. Had it not been for his actions, there would be no serial killer doll – no Chucky. Charles Lee Ray’s murderous region would have died when his human body did, and not have been transferred into the Good Guy doll.

Dr. Death is a forgotten character in horror. However, without him, the infamous serial killer The Lakeshore Strangler would never have been able to do what he did. Instead, Charles Lee Ray would have simply died from the gunshot wound he sustained during his original pursuit. Yet, thanks to Dr. Death, he was able to transfer his soul into the doll and since has continued his dastardly killing spree as Chucky.

Dr. Death did refuse to help Charles escape the doll in the original film, granted it was at his own peril. He is remorseful after learning of Charles’s actions, and is extremely regretful he ever taught the killer the voodoo ritual, to begin with. But that does not mean Dr. Death is any less evil because he was sorry for what he did, nor because he died at the hands of the killer doll. No, he is no less evil due to his remorse or regret. The fact that he was performing voodoo rituals and spells and practicing the dark arts in the first place, makes him actually more evil if you think about it. I mean, Bishop knew who Charles Lee Ray was when he started teaching him and did not care. He continued to teach his student anyway.

You see, we were not privy to the relationship shared between the two men before things ended up the way they did. We were only able to see the ending of the friendship when Chucky the doll kills John Bishop. We did not get to see the master at work, teaching the student. Therefore, we do not truly know his level of evil – beyond what we have seen in their brief interaction. However, we do know that Dr. Death had no good intentions, to begin with.

It has a known fact that voodoo has a bad connotation and is not all bad or evil. Although, with a name like Dr. Death, it has no surprise that John Bishop was up to no good. He was indeed evil. He was consorting with a serial killer and practicing voodoo, therefore he is guilty by association. However, you look at it, the simple facts are still. John Bishop, aka Dr. Death, was a practitioner of voodoo. He taught serial killer Charles Lee Ray how to perform the ritual of transferring his soul into something or someone. Therefore, he is personally responsible for the birth of the killer doll Chucky. He inadvertently caused the ripple that has still to this day, yet to fade out.

So, for the hardcore fans out there, all hail Dr. Death. He is one wicked character and a forgotten and unrecognized villain. I am happy he did what he did because Chucky has always been a personal favorite of mine. I am excited to see what the Legend Don Mancini’s new show has to offer. Oh, and do not get me started on the current rip off about to drop. Without Mancini, there would be no Dr. Death.

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Polterheist 2018

Monster Reviews: Polterheist 2018

Polterheist is a 2018 comedy horror film, co-written and directed by David Gilbank. It stars Jo Mousley, Sid Akbar Ali, Jamie Cymbal and Pushpinder Chani. Two gangsters are given three days to locate money stolen by their boss. The only thing is, they just killed him.

Forced by a local mobster to find money that was stolen from him, Tariq (Ali) and Boxy (Cymbal) seek out a psychic medium to make contact with their recently deceased boss. However, they get more than they bargained for when his vengeful spirit possesses the medium and takes them on a roller coaster ride they won’t soon forget.

Let me start off by saying that this film is not necessarily what the title implies. It’s not so much a Polterheist, as it is a possession/heist film. But regardless, this film is fun and original in its own right. There are a few other paranormal heist films out there, so the concept isn’t all that new. But there’s definitely some cool, original material, not to mention a few solid performances.

The film looks stunning and is gracefully shot. The angles are elegant and the editing is on point. The directing is fantastic as well as the costumes, dialogue and makeup. But the best thing about the film, is the pacing. It sets the tone and makes you feel like you’re climbing a few hills at the right times. It knows when to rev up and when to throttle back.

Pace is something the average moviegoer is completely unaware of. The pace allows for the film to have a nice smooth flow to it. In Polterheist, even the slower transition scenes seem to fly by with ease and understanding. You never feel lost. You remain established in the ensuing madness, no matter how crazy it seems to get.

The look of the film is very pristine. The monochrome scenes were overtly crisp and fermenting. It really helped add a grittiness to the overall appeal and was visually stunning. The principal photography was absolutely fantastic. It was very detailed and absorbing.

There’s really nothing paranormal about this film, aside from the possession. However, it’s still a fun and engaging gangster flick. The only thing really missing is the lack of any special effects to help emphasize the spirit taking over the mediums vessel. There aren’t any substantial effects utilized to solidified a credible ghost or possession vibe.

Jo Mousley was simply infectious as the medium, Alice. She played the possessed character perfectly, and brought a needed jolt to the production. Her portrayal combined with the amazing performances of Sid Akbar Ali and Jamie Cymbal as the bumbling gangsters, really carries the film.

Jamie Cymbal was hilarious as Boxy. He provided some much needed laughs, breaking up the seriousness and intensity of the film. Sid Akbar Ali was fantastic as the essential lead character. He was rugged and imposing, yet relatable and endearing at the same time. Together, they formed one hell of an interesting and invigorating duo.

There is an abundance of twists and turns throughout, making for one piercing film. It tends to scrape its way into your subconscious and takes control like a parasite. There are a few irresistible, indelible sections of film that really grip you. It’s entertaining, dark and viscous.

Overall, Polterheist is engaging and intense. It has well placed humor fused with some amazing performances. The directing is assertive and very knowledgeable. It’s grimy and haunting. Guns. Gangsters. Ghosts. Grab yourself a copy today.

 

Posted by Donovan Smith in CAST AND CREW NEWS, Categories, COMING SOON, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Space Trash Bag – short film

Monster Reviews: Space Trash Bag – short film

Every now and then you find those truly genuine pieces of horror cinema that just blow you away and leave you starving for more. They are usually few and far in between, but every once in awhile you get extremely lucky and hit the jackpot. While it may not be your typical horror film, Space Trash Bag is definitely a prolific piece of celluloid that needs to shared and spread like a disease.

Space Trash Bag is a Spanish splatter film, unlike any other other. It’s essentially a short film made up of a series of fake trailers, pieced together to form one viciously twisted piece of cinema. It’s similar to what Rodriguez and Tarantino did at the beginning of their Grindhouse films. Except this isn’t a combination of trailers of separate films. Instead, it’s a handful of trailers based on one individual film, Space Trash Bag.

Don’t let the complexities, or simplicity, of it fool you though. It delivers on all accords! It gets your blood pumping and raises your excitement, forcing you to crave more. The gore is absolutely phenomenal and stunningly elegant. It’s disgusting as hell, but just so damn beautiful at the same time. It’s seriously inspiring and just a thing of pure beauty.

Space Trash Bag is over the top ridiculous, but that’s the point. It’s meant to be silly and hilarious, while trying to make you vomit. The editing is fantastic and the sound was perfect executed. You find yourself wondering what the hell you’re watching, yet you still can’t peel your eyes away. The acting is great and the makeup and costumes blend together brilliantly and really help the film stand out.

The directing and cinematography are excellent and very accomplished. It’s really such an inspiring piece of work, displaying tons of talent and skill. The Trash Bag monster is pure nightmare fuel and is guaranteed to make any kid wet the bed. It’s without a doubt one of the coolest and scariest monsters to come out in a long time. It’s seriously some utterly brilliant film making.

The only problems this film seems to have, is budget issues. Never before have I wanted to see a feature film so bad, from just a few snippets of content. However, due to those budget constraints, we’re forced to take what we can get. And it’s unlikely we’re going to see a full length film featuring the amazing Space Trash Bag monster anytime soon. Although we’d desperately love to see one.

Unfortunately all we can do is share this film and help spread the word about how freaking awesome it really is. It’s definitely not something you see often and just overall a gracefully beautiful film. It’s exquisite and a real treat for the eyes – a horror/gore lovers delight.

So, if you haven’t checked out this inspiring piece of art yet, do yourself a favor and give it a run. It’s a brilliant piece of work and deserving of a feature production. It surprisingly awesome, and displays tons of talent, passion and intellect. It’s plain and simply just one bad ass piece of film.

Posted by Donovan Smith in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, CAST AND CREW NEWS, Categories, COMING SOON, EVENTS, EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR NEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Monster Interviews: Georgie Smibert – CleaverS (WIHM)

Monster Interviews: Georgie Smibert – CleaverS (WIHM)

I recently had the privilege of chating with the up and coming actress Georgie Smibert. We talked Women In Horror Month and her breakout role in the 2019 film CleaverS, which just screened at the Horror-On-Sea Film Festival in January, in the UK. Georgie’s award worthy performance as Sheriff Jody-Ann Howells definitely has people taking and taking the independent horror community by storm. 
Originally from Melbourne, Georgie started her film career as an assistant director and production manager. After a few years behind the camera she switched sides, and although she still enjoys her roles behind the camera, acting is now her main priority. Since turning her focus to acting, she’s had lead roles in many short films and feature films and enjoys playing strong but conflicted characters. 
Georgie moved to live in London in 2015 and knew that if she wanted to act in the UK she would have to be confident with various accents. To date she has played characters with various British and American  accents and has even played a guest role as a French character who only spoke French! 
At the beginning of her career she had a knack for being cast as characters who were killed – so far she has been stabbed multiple times, strangled, beheaded and even played a robot who had their battery removed. Last year, after completing her training in London, she gained her advanced qualification from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat. Though careful not to be misinterpreted as a stunt performer, she now looks for characters who aren’t only strong and conflicted, but whose story-line has an element of action in them. 

 

  • DS: How did you get your start in film and what originally attracted you to it? What aspect about it drew you in the most and made you decide to pursuit it?

 

  • GS: I entered the film industry as a 1st AD and Production Manager(PM). I was an event manager at the time and thought that a film was a bit like an event,  so if I could organize one,  I could probably organize the other. I saw an indie feature film looking for a PM – I applied and was successful.  Working on that film also introduced me to a wonderful acting school, The Melbourne Actor’s Lab, and after a couple of years as an AD and PM I switched to acting.

 

  • DS: How did you end up working with the amazing MJ and Anna Dixon over at Mycho Entertainment, and do you have any fond memories working with them that you’d like to share?

 

  • GS: It was a simple case of applying to the right casting call. Most of Cleaver was filmed in late 2014, but luckily for me that didn’t include Jody-Ann’s scenes – her role was cast in early 2015, just after I’d moved to live in London.

 

 

  • • I have so many fond memories of working with Anna & Mike,most of which are from the middle of the night when we’re all freezing cold, over tired and can’t stop laughing at pointless things

.

  • DS: In what way has your character changed and progressed from the first film Cleaver in 2015, to the second film CleaverS in 2018? And how have you progressed as an actress during that time?

 

  • GS: Jody-Ann has matured a lot between the films. When she is introduced in Cleaver she is a new graduate and expects she will be looking after petty crime a serial killer like Cleaver is not on her radar at all! Over the years as her determination to bring Cleaver to justice has developed, she has become increasingly withdrawn and isolated.
  • • Personally, over the years I’ve had more opportunity to experiment with different approaches to roles and spend more time in front of a camera. I’ve also got more comfortable with the idea that I will always get to the first day of shooting and feel under prepared  – no matter how much time or preparation I’ve done.
  • DS: What’s it like for you, going from a sort of sidekick character in Cleaver, to the lead role in CleaverS? How did you tackle the task and did you prepare any differently from one film to the next?
  • GS: The size of the role is mostly irrelevant when it comes to developing a character. I make sure I know my character’s history, relationships and motivations and I learn my lines. If there is an accent involved like for Jody-Ann, then I spend a lot of time with my dialect coach to make sure my pronunciation is correct.
  •  
  • • I had a lot less pre-production time for the first Cleaver, and I really had to focus on learning the accent for the first time.  For CleaverS it was nice to already have a good base for my accent and focus on developing more of her history.
  • DS: Your monologues in CleaverS were phenomenal. You really pulled the audience in and made it easy to relate with the character of Sheriff Jody-Ann Howells. How difficult was it and did you find it emotionally draining to deliver such a high powered performance?
  • GS: Firstly, thank you. I never know how my portrayal of a character is going to be received so it’s really great to get that sort of feedback.
  •  
  • • Acting is an activity that seems to give me endless energy – I lose all track of time and can happily film for hours without stopping for food or drink.  I’ll always sleep well after a shoot, but I think it’s incredibly important to leave a character and their emotions on set at the end of the day and allow yourself the opportunity to relax as yourself
  • DS: What preparation did you do in order to produce such an award worthy performance in CleaverS? Did you do anything special to submerse yourself into the role, or was it just business as usual?
  • GS: I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for me. Part of what I love in acting is inventing back stories and filling in what is happening between scenes and between lines.  For CleaverS, I filled in the years between the two films – where Jody-Ann had been,  which friends she had lost and which personal demons she had been fighting.  Answering those unknowns and developing that history is always a part of my preparation that I really enjoy.
  •  
  • DS: What are your thoughts on Women In Horror Month, and how relevant and important do you think it is for the genre today?
  • GS: I think Women in Horror Month does a wonderful job at highlighting and celebrating all the amazing things women are doing in the industry today. At a time when the call for diversity is so strong, this sort of publicity plays an incredibly important role in inspiring female filmmakers of tomorrow to follow that dream and get involved too.
  • DS: Being a woman in horror, as an actress, Assistant Director and Producer, what is your favorite role when it comes to film? Which do you prefer more, being in front of the camera, or being behind it?
  • GS: Acting is my main priority and definitely my preferred role, but if I like the script and the crew and there isn’t a role for me then I will happily support the film’s production as crew. As an AD and PM I really enjoy helping the director achieve their vision and tell their story.
  •  
  • DS: Who are some of the Women In Horror who inspire you? Is there anyone you really admire or try to emulate when it comes to what you do?
  • GSI grew up watching Buffy on TV and I was inspired by the kick ass characters played by both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan. I also recently watched ‘A quiet place‘ with Emily Blunt – I admire her as an actress anyway and really enjoyed watching her on screen in this role.  If I could emulate the honesty of her performance and make the audience feel for my character even a fraction of the way she made me feel for hers,  I would be very happy.
  •  
  • DS: Having acted now yourself as nearly a dozen different characters, which of those said characters have you enjoyed playing the most? Are there any that stick out or maybe still stick with you?
  • GSJody-Ann definitely sticks out because she is the only character I have played in two films  and playing her introduced my to the whole Mycho family. Another role that sticks out was for a short film called ESC. where I play the sole survivor of a space ship disaster.  I filmed that whole film on a full sized green screen set which was amazing.
  •  
  • DS: Do you have any future films or projects you would to let your fans know about? Where can they follow you and stay up to date with your work?
  • GSI have another feature film due for release later this year – it’s a post apocalyptic survival story called ‘The Brink’. There are also some other projects in the early stages of development, including a short film I wrote, which I plan to make this year.

    The Brink

  •  
  • • The best place to stay up to date with my work is to follow me on Instagram georgiesmibert. I enjoy taking photos so I always share BTS photos and I’m much more active on that than Twitter.
  •  
  • DS: To conclude the interview, we like to ask one final question. If you could name only one, what would you say is your favorite all time horror film?
  • GS: Psycho. It’s the first horror film I saw, and I still think it’s a great film.
Posted by Donovan Smith in CAST AND CREW NEWS, Categories, FEATURED ARTISTS, FEATURED CONTENT, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, HALLOWEEN, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, HOSTED HORROR, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Interviews: Tori Danielle Romero- Women In Horror Month

Monster Interviews: Tori Danielle Romero- Women In Horror Month

It’s that time of the year again when we thank and recognize the Women who kick butt In horror. When it comes to true independent Women In Horror, there’s none more deserving than that of Tori Danielle Romero. If you don’t know who she is by now, you should.

I recently had the honor of asking her a few questions about Women In Horror Month, and about the surge her super popular website, PopHorror.com. It’s currently on the rise and has gathered quite a sizable following as of late. It’s definitely a quality source for horror news and all things that encompass the genre.

Tori Danielle Romero is a writer and film producer. She was born and raised on horror at a very young age. She broke into the industry around four years prior, when a friend and fellow writer of hers, approached her about joining the website CrypticRock.com. Not long after, she joined PopHorror.com as a co-owner, where she began making connections and things began to blossom from there.

Tori is an advocate for Women In Horror and indie horror in general. She’s a firm believer in people receiving the recognition they deserve for the work they put in. She began writing as a way to highlight those responsible and deserving, and takes inspiration from the women around her who kick ass on a daily basis.

 

  • DS: Do you recall when you first fell in love with horror? Can you remember how old you were and what it was that captured and sparked your imagination and interest in the genre?

 

 

  • TDR: I know that I fell in love watching the NOES films. I’ve always been a Freddy Girl and although the films have never scared me… they’ve held a special place in my heart. I can’t remember my exact age, but I know I was pretty young probably around 5 or 6 when I knew horror was a genre that I loved. It was thrilling and always had fun characters. I don’t get scared easily though. Zelda from Pet Sematary is about the only thing that’s ever gave me nightmares, lol.

 

 

  • DS:. As most fans of the genre might know already, you own and operate your own horror based website. What made you decide to create the website, and can you elaborate on how it all eventually came about?

 

 

  • TDR: So, in the very beginning it wasn’t actually my site. This is something that not a lot of people know about. It was initially created by someone else and they approached me to run and be a co-owner. I also knew I didn’t want to run the site by myself, so I talked with my bestie Tracy Allen and she agreed. It all began in 2016 and it’s been quite the journey. A lot of sweat, tears and time have gone into this site, but we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time.

 

 

  • DS: You’re website’s named PopHorror.com. How did you come up with that name and what does it mean to you specifically? Does it have any hidden meaning or connotations pertaining to you or the fans of your site?

 

 

  • TDR: As I mentioned previously, I didn’t originally create the site, but the name is just a fun play on words and let’s us branch out a bit. We can cover more than just horror because of it. Dark comedies, thrillers, crimes, etc. I like to think of it nice and healthy balance of pop culture and horror. The name has grown on me quite a bit over the last couple years.

 

 

  • DS: A lot of times, fans of horror tend to receive bad reputations. What are your thoughts on the horror fan base and how vital are they to the success or failure of our beloved genre?

 

 

  • TDR: I think the horror fan base is one of the best fan bases out there. They’re extremely loyal and passionate. They support old and new horror and love connecting with other people who love the genre. Of course, there’s some bad eggs out there that try to ruin it for all, but for the most part the fans are exceptional. I interviewed Barbara Crampton last Summer and she stated “I feel like horror fans are more dedicated and loyal than any other group.”

    Barbara Crampton

 

 

 

  • I couldn’t agree more with that statement. The fans are crucial to the success of our beloved genre because without the support from them, from us, so many amazing stories would go untold and the bad reputation would continue to grow. I think over the years, horror has gained more respect and that’s not only because of the people who create the films but the people who back them. Horror still has a long way to come before it’s viewed the way we see it by the “norm” but oh well who gives a fuck. We love it and we know it rocks.

 

 

  • DS: As a female working in the genre, what does Women In Horror Month mean to you and how important do you think it is to continue to acknowledge and support the amazing women representing the genre?

 

 

  • TDR: Women in Horror Month is incredibly important to me. If it were a perfect world and everyone was treated equally, we wouldn’t need a month like this, but the truth is women and minorities don’t get the recognition and praise they deserve. With WIHM, we get a chance to highlight all these amazing women and bring awareness to their projects. I’m so glad that the community comes together to celebrate this month and that it’s become a pretty big deal. I know some people think it’s silly, but I find it incredibly inspiring to see my news feed packed full of stories and pictures about talented women in the horror industry. Just doing their thang and killing it.

 

 

  • DS: Going forward, what do you come to expect from Women In Horror Month, and is there anything in particular you’d like to see branch out of WIHM?

 

 

  • TDR: I would love to see more women get hired for projects they deserve and are perfect for. I want to see more women directors not only in the indie world but on the big screen. I want to see people praising those women like they do men. Everyone talks about John Carpenter’s Halloween but rarely do they talk about Debra Hill. Pet Sematary is one of the most beloved horror films of all time yet rarely do you see people praise Mary Lambert for it. They mostly talk about Stephen King (which he’s fucking great) but you see what I’m saying?

    Mary Lambert

 

  • In the end, though, I would love to see a day come in the future that we don’t need a Women in Horror Month. I want women to be appreciated equally by the masses and for more opportunities to be open up because they’re great fucking filmmakers, actresses, and so on. I want them to be loved for what they have to offer and not judged or turned away, doubted, or paid less because of their sex.

 

DS: What can we expect to see from PopHorror this year and do you have any exciting announcements or new additions to the website that you’d like to mention or promote?

 

  • TDR: We plan on hustling and grinding as per usual. We have a lot of things in the works and are trying to expand and reach out to more people. Perhaps a podcast as well… but that’s still a MAYBE.

 

  • DS: Is there anything you’re really fond of when it comes to your website? Are there any particular segments or special content that you really enjoy and look forward to publishing?

 

  • TDR: I really enjoy interviews and editorials. Both are personal and enlightening. With interviews, whether it’s me or one of my writers, I love that we get to talk with people we admire and learn about their lives. With editorials, it’s like a writer is giving a piece of themselves to the world. It’s personal and I enjoy reading someone’s thoughts on a subject versus reading a review. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading and writing reviews. But you can read a review about the same movie a million times. Editorials are unique and specific to the person writing it. Sometimes that’s a breath of fresh air.

 

  • DS: As a writer and producer, do you have any upcoming projects you’re anticipating that you’d like to let your fans know about?
  • TDR: I have a couple of writing ideas that I’m wanting to do but nothing set in stone – so I’ll announce that a bit later. As far as producing, one of my biggest projects I’m involved with is 13 Fanboy and I’m co-producing. So many amazing people are involved with this Deborah Voorhees, Kane Hodder, Dee Wallace, Corey Feldman, and many more. It’s also getting a theatrical run!

 

 

 

  • Some of my other producing projects are the third and last installment of Volumes of Blood aka Volumes of Blood: Devil’s Knight. P.J. Starks is a wonderful dude and friend and I’m proud to be apart of it. There’s a killer cast with this one as well.

 

 

  • I’m also helping with Brooklyn Ewing’s upcoming anthology Tales from the Creep, which is super exciting because I love horror anthologies. Plus, Brooklyn is my fucking hero. She’s amazing at everything she does, and I adore her.

    Brooklyn Ewing

 

 

  • And then Anthony Raus’ short that I’m involved with ABSTRACTION landed a distribution deal recently so that’s pretty awesome as well.

 

 

  • DS: Aside from PopHorror.com, where can people follow you and stay up to date with your work? Are there any social media platforms you’re currently active on?

 

  • TDR: First, I want to say that I’ve written several other sites both big and small. I’ve left most of them as to focus my time on things and sites that actually matter to me. On that note, beyond PopHorror, I do also write for Shannon McGrew’s Nightmarish Conjurings and James H. Carter II’s Creepy Kingdom. I’m always open to writing for other sites as well as long as they’re good people whose actions reflect their words. Too many people say one thing and do another. And I’m not about drama. I’m a simple girl who loves all things nerdy and horror and supporting other people. That’s it. Haha… sorry I got a bit sidetracked with that response.

 

 

  • DS To wrap up, we like to ask one final question. If you could pick one, and only one, what would you say is your all-time favorite horror film?

 

  • TDR: As a horror fan yourself, you know this is damn near fucking impossible. I suppose if I had to chose one and only one it would be A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. I love everything about that film, and it has some of the best and creative kills in a horror movie ever!

 

  • Second runner up would probably be Trick R Treat. I mean, I have a huge obsession with Sam and I just LOVE horror anthologies.
Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED ARTISTS, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, HOSTED HORROR, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, PODCAST, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Interviews: Stephanie Malone – Women In Horror Month

Monster Interviews: Stephanie Malone – Women In Horror Month

As we celebrate Women In Horror Month, I wanted to highlight those behind the scenes who don’t receive the credit they rightfully deserve. In the first interview I’m thrilled for you to meet a Woman who is deeply dedicated to the genre, and who is the owner of her very own horror based website, MorbidlyBeautiful.com. It’s a beautiful aesthetic website that’s quickly ascending through the ranks in popularity and is definitely one of the top sources for all things horror. As their tagline reads, “We Bleed Horror.”

I had the chance to ask the multi talented Editor In Chief of Morbidly Beautiful, Stephanie Malone, a few questions for Women In Horror Month. Her website is one that’s constantly on the rise and is a quality source for everything horror. It’s truly a website that has all its bases covered in terms of content.

Stephanie Malone is an experienced graphic and web designer, copywriter, Art and Creative Director, and Marketing professional. She studied Film, English, and Marketing at University of Texas at Austin. She’s also the founder and editor-in-chief for morbidlybeautiful.com. As an avid supporter of indie film, she’s been involved in numerous short and feature films in the roles of producer, art director, and publicist.

Stephanie founded morbidlybeautiful.com three years ago as a way to further her support for indie film and celebrate her lifelong love of all things horror. The site was founded with a mission to shine a spotlight on some of the lesser known talent in the genre, covering the people and projects that others aren’t covering, and to provide thoughtful and high quality content you can’t find anywhere else.

  • DS: Do you you recall when you first fell in love with horror? Can you remember how old you were and what it was that captured and sparked your imagination and interest in the genre?
  • SM: That’s such a hard question because I honestly can’t recall a time when I wasn’t a horror fan and when loving horror didn’t feel like such a core part of my identity. From as early as I can remember, I was watching horror films – shockingly adult ones at that thanks to my wonderfully liberal parents. As strange as it sounds, I can’t recall ever having a nightmare. Horror never scared me in that upsetting kind of way. It excited me, thrilled me, got my blood pumping. It gave me an adrenaline rush nothing else could ever quite top. I just felt such an instant connection with all things creepy and what most “normal” people would call disturbing.I think really creative people tend to be especially drawn to the genre because it offers such a fantastical escape filled with the most creative monsters, creatures, supernatural magic, incredible effects, and truly mind-blowing artistry. As a passionate creative from practically the moment I came into this world, I was always drawn to the magic and wonder of the genre — and I always thought it was more titillating than terrifying.
  • DS: As most fans of the genre might know already, you own and operate your own horror based website. What made you decide to create the website, and can you elaborate on how it all eventually came about? 
  • SM: It’s such a strange story, and a bit of a long one. But I’ll do my best to keep it brief. I have a diverse background, which includes writing, graphic design, web design/development, and film. Prior to starting the site, I was regularly working with indie filmmakers on micro budget horror films as Producer, Art Director, and sometimes Publicist. Strangely, as much as I love to write and do so professionally, I had never explored horror journalism. But an opportunity came about for me to potentially join a horror site a couple of my friends wrote for.As with most things in life, my timing ending up being terrible. The site folded right when I was working on my audition pieces — a couple of interviews with indie filmmakers that I was very excited about. For some reason that I can’t quite explain, I felt driven in a way I never had before to get more involved in the horror community and really make my voice be heard.
  • Fortunately, I had the right skill set for the job. In a matter of days, I had built my site from the ground up, created my brand, published my first couple of articles, and recruited my first few writers to help me out. It was an overwhelming but exhilarating process — and one I still can’t believe I actually went through with.
  • When I started the site, however, I had no intention of it becoming what it is today. I was fine with it being a tiny, obscure little site for me to express myself and help support the indie filmmakers and artists I loved. The fact that it’s grown to what it is now in a few short years and that so many amazing talented people have agreed to come on board and build this site with me means more than I can express. It honestly blows me away every single day. I feel so honored and so constantly rewarded in ways I could have never imagined.
  • DS: You’re website’s named MorbidlyBeautiful.com. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you specifically? Does it have any hidden meaning or connotations pertaining to you or the fans of your site? 
  • SM:It stems from a couple of places. First, as a graphic designer by trade, aesthetics are really important to me. I wanted to create a site that celebrated the dark, creepy, and horrific. But I really wanted it to look beautiful and be a place genre fans enjoyed visiting. I wanted to pay respect to the incredible artistry reflected in so many aspects of the genre by building a platform that truly honored those contributions in both style and substance.
  • Personally, I found the macabre very beautiful. I find so much true art and talent in the genre, and I hate when people try to disrespect or diminish horror, as if it’s somehow a lower art form. For example, it infuriates me (much as it does many horror fans) that the Academy consistently overlooks brilliant horror films and performances. I hate that we have to label films as something other than horror (ie, calling “Get Out” a social thriller rather than a horror film) so that they can be taken seriously. For me, the name Morbidly Beautiful honors the fact that something can be dark and disturbing and still be considered beautiful, artful, and worthy of praise and appreciation.

DS: A lot of times, horror fans tend to receive bad reputations. What are your thoughts on the horror fan base and how vital are they to the success or failure of our beloved genre?

 

  • SM: Honestly, that boggles my mind that horror fans would be held in anything other than the absolute highest regard. It’s been my experience that genre fans tend to be among the most passionate, genuine, loyal, accepting, and friendliest people around. Over and over when we interview horror actors, filmmakers, and artists, they talk about how amazing and supportive the horror community is. This is especially true for actors who work in other genres and see how different and special horror fans are.
  • For whatever problems social media brings, it has also given us an incredible opportunity to connect with others who think like we do and appreciate the same wonderfully weird things we appreciate. Before social media, I often felt like an outsider due to my passion for horror. I had no idea there were so many people who felt exactly how I felt — and that they were such insanely cool and interesting people. It has been so validating to really immerse myself in this community and feel, for the first time, like I am really a part of something and that my “weirdness” is perfectly acceptable and actually pretty awesome.
  • For those who are also able to get out to some of the cons and film fests, it’s the best way to further reinforce how wonderful this community is. There is absolutely nothing like being a room packed wall-to-wall with people who geek out over the same things you geek out over and who really love and accept you for who you are.

 

  • DS As a female working in the genre, what does Women In Horror Month mean to you and how important do you think it is to continue to acknowledge and support the amazing women representing the genre?

 

  • SM: I guess you could call me a proud feminist, in that I truly believe in equal opportunity and representation. More than a feminist, I’m a humanist and value equality for all. Honoring women in horror as been a key tenant of the site since it began, and we do it all year round. We may go big in February to take advantage of the increased momentum and awareness surrounding women in horror (thanks to tireless efforts and vision of Women in Horror Month Founder, Hannah Neurotica, an inspiration and idol of mine). But our commitment to bringing attention to the many incredibly talented and often unsung women working in the genre is something that never takes a break or a backseat.

    Hannah Neurotica

  • I’ve heard many people, men and women alike, say that we may not need Women in Horror Month anymore. But I vehemently disagree. As much progress as we’ve made and as far as we’ve come in many ways, we still have so far to go. We still have a problem of under representation and a unequal access to opportunity and exposure. When people think of Women in Horror, they so often think of actresses and “Scream Queens”, and that leads them to conclude that there’s plenty of representation.
  • But, as another one of my heroes, Jovanka Vuckovik, said, “When it comes to horror, women are more often seen than they are heard. In other words, people are more familiar with scream queens than they are the contributions of women behind the scenes.” True equality means equal opportunities for and recognition of screenwriters, directors, special effects artists, composers, authors, artists, and the many other talented creators responsible for making this genre as truly incredible as it is.

    Director Jovanka Vuckovic

 

  • DS: Going forward, what do you come to expect from Women In Horror Month, and is there anything in particular you’d like to see branch out of WIHM?

 

  • SM: Once thing I definitely want to say is that I’m so incredibly proud that this is a genre that does tend to give a damn. We most certainly need a Women in Film Month, as the problem of under representation is much broader than horror. I know some people find it strange that we have this month dedicated to such a niche portion of entertainment as a whole. But that’s because there are passionate activists like Hannah Neurotica and the Soska Sisters who are at the forefront of change and driving the conversation in a way no one else is. I am beyond honored to be a very small part of helping champion this cause. And it’s been so heartening to see the growing support and recognition for this important event throughout the community.

    Soska Sisters

  • At Morbidly Beautiful, we try every year to do a little more, push out as much great content as we can, and find new ways to engage the community during Women in Horror Month. I’ve also seen so many other sites and journalists taken up the mantle and becoming champions for change. Honestly, I think we just need to keep having these conversations and all working together as a community to create a future (hopefully a not so distant one) where we no longer need a Women in Horror Month. The best thing that could happen to Women in Horror Month is for it to go away because it’s no longer relevant.

 

  • DS: What can we expect to see from Morbidly Beautiful this year and do you have any exciting announcements or new additions to the website that you’d like to mention or promote?

 

  • SM: The site is growing at such a rapid pace, and honestly I’m just trying to keep up with that growth and not sacrifice quality. Each year, I’ve slowly been growing our writing family to bring on more great talent and unique points of view. This year, we’ve had more interested applicants than ever before, and I’m beyond thrilled about the level of talent and passion we’re adding to the site. I’m also so excited by our efforts to expand our focus on diversity, bringing on writers with specific expertise and background in this area.
  • We’re also partnering with some of our favorite platforms and distributors to bring even more unique content, highlighting some of the best horror releases from Shudder, Vinegar Syndrome, Scream Factory, and Unearthed Films to name a few.
  • We’ve been given tremendous access to expand our coverage of some of the world’s best film festivals and horror conventions. This will enable us to bring our readers exclusive and early access to some of the most anticipated new horror films and the best up-and-coming filmmakers everyone should know about.
  • We post new content daily, usually multiple new articles a day. And we’ve been adding a ton of new features we think and hope our readers will love. Be sure to follow us on social media and turn on post notifications to stay updated on everything new and exciting happening at Morbidly Beautiful.

 

  • DS Is there anything you’re really fond of when it comes to your website? Are there any particular segments or special content that you really enjoy and look forward to publishing?

 

  • SM: The thing I’m most proud of when it comes to the site is our extremely diverse writing staff and the incredibly high quality of content they produce. As much as I’m a huge fan of so many other horror sites, I do believe we produce truly original and thought provoking content not available anywhere else. I especially love our commitment to celebrating underrepresented voices in indie film making and in all aspects of the genre — including focusing on diversity, LGBTQ, minorities, and women in horror.
  • My favorite articles are the in-depth opinion and analysis pieces — the ones that take a really thoughtful look at the genre and treat it with the respect and reverence I believe it deserves. I’m a true horror nerd, and I absolutely love articles that take a scholarly approach to the great work being produced in the genre.
  • I also love articles that bring together several writers to share distinct points of views on a subject. I’d love to see us do more of these, including group reviews, best of lists, holiday horror guides, and more. I love anything that highlights the incredible range of talent we have working on the site.

 

  • DS As a writer, graphic designer and producer, do you have any upcoming projects you’re anticipating that you’d like to let your fans know about?

 

  • Besides my day job as a professional Creative Director/Designer/Copywriter, almost all of my time is devoted to Morbidly Beautiful. Thankfully, it’s an incredible outlet that combines all my passions — allowing me to write, edit, design, market, and aggressively support indie film. Any outside creative projects I take on are purely passion projects where I want to help support a project, company, or cause I really believe in. I have a couple of things I’m working on, but nothing I can really talk about just yet.
  • However, I am one of the producers on the new indie horror film Crepitus, starring Bill Moseley as a killer clown, and I’m super excited to have everyone see that hopefully later this year.

 

  • DS. Aside from Morbidly Beautiful.com where can people follow you and stay up to date with your work? Are there any social media platforms you’re currently active on?

 

  • SM: I’m very active on Morbidly Beautiful’s social channels: Facebook and Instagram at  @morbidlybeautifulhorror and Twitter at @xmorbidbeautyx. Personally, I’m most active on Instagram at @srgreenhaw. And I’ve made a vow to get back into Twitter. You can find me there at @smalondesign.

 

  • DS: To wrap up, we like to ask one final question. If you could pick one, and only one, what would you say is your all time favorite horror film?

 

  • SM: This is the one question that isn’t difficult for me to answer because I always go with the film that first made me fall head over heels in love with the genre, the film that helped launch my favorite subgenre of slasher films, and the one that produced my all-time favorite killer: John Carpenter’s Halloween. I know it’s basic and not reflective of my diverse love of cult, indie, foreign, underground, arthouse and extreme horror. But, to me, it’s a damn near perfect film whose unquestionable impact and influence on the genre cannot be denied.
Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, FEATURED ARTISTS, FEATURED CONTENT, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, HOSTED HORROR, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Cute Little Buggers (2017)

Monster Reviews: Cute Little Buggers (2017)

In wake of the 2019 Horror-On-Sea Film Festival, I had the pleasure of viewing Tony Jopia’s creature feature, Cute Little Buggers. It’s a 2017 horror comedy directed by Tony Jopia. It stars Kristofer Dayne, Caroline Munroe, Gary Martin, Samar Sarila, John R. Walker, Honey Holmes, Dani Thompson, Steve Stipple, Sara Dee, Lydie Misiek, Eryl Lloyd Parry, Tim Hope and Carlos Paginton. 

When aliens crash land on the English countryside and began kidnapping local women for procreation, it’s up to the villagers to take back what’s rightfully theirs.

Cute Little Buggers is an inventive and very original concept. The story alone is something that’s never been done before and it sets the tone for similar and like minded films to follow. Comedy and Horror take hilarious turn in this cute, bloody, one-of-a-kind film.

There were only a few narrow points of contention. However, nothing that really takes away from the film. It knows its place, and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. It’s a silly, overstuffed can of snakes, with fair amount of blood.

There were a few things that could use a little fine tuning. For instance, the use of CGI rabbits would have been more effective had real bunnies been substituted. Combining computer graphics with real life animals instead of the using full on CGI, would have gave the film a more viable and realistic appeal. Also, there were too many characters introduced, which made it hard to find someone to relate to and root for. Less characters would have made the film more intimate and relatable.

Cute Little Buggers is a fun and engaging film. It does a great job at retaining the viewers attention, and keeps you fully entertained. It’s a bit confusing and convoluted at times, due to the amount of characters and content. However, it’s very effective at accomplishing what it sets out to do.

It brings plenty of laughs and originality, and doesn’t shy on the nudity either. There’s enough blood and breasts to satiate any craving. While some of the scenes involving nudity aren’t really necessary, they can essentially be considered akin to the story line and are therefore deemed acceptable.

It’s not your average film, nor horror film for that matter. It definitely thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid to take steps that others won’t. It’s an out of this world adventure equipped with aliens, monsters, lots of nudity and buckets of blood.

The cgi was fitting for what the film was and the use of practical effects in certain situations worked great for the parts that called for it. The aliens were very cool looking and had some sort of screen or prompter in their mouth which displayed what appeared to be their tongues. It was a really neat, insignificant effect, but pretty cool nonetheless. The appearance of the fish like aliens is arguably the best part of the entire film.

The costumes and makeup were biting and the scenery was gorgeous and picturesque. The story was a bit all over the place, however, and the was dialogue neutral. The editing and sound were exceedingly vital, as well as the  directing. It’s probably the most noticeable thing about the film. It’s well rounded and really helped to smooth it out.

There’s definitely a lot to take in when viewing this film. It has its flaws as does any project, yet comes out on the positive end of the spectrum. It’s true low budget, independent horror. It’s zany, eccentric, extremely fun and definitely packs the laughs.

Overall, Cute Little Buggers is a truly odd and peculiar film. It’s unpredictable and unconventional. It’s highly entertaining with loads of laughs and plenty of deadly animal attacks (don’t worry, no animals were harmed during the making of the film).

So, if you haven’t seen this film yet, I highly suggest you check it out. It’s not for everyone and only for real die hard fans. It’s certainly in a category all it’s own, and simply just good, plain, all around fun. But remember, sometimes even Cute Little Buggers have a dark side. 

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Anniversary of the Leprechaun (1993)

Monster Reviews: Anniversary of the Leprechaun (1993)

Celebrating its anniversary this month, we revisit the original Leprechaun and take a look at the legendary slasher film responsible for spawning multiple sequels and a prequel. Let’s take a step back and look at the film that birthed the legendary horror icon, the one and only, Leprechaun.

Considered one of the ultimate slashers, Leprechaun is a 1993 horror film written and directed by Mark Jones. It stars Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Robert Hy Gorman, Mark Holton and the legendary Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun. An ancient evil Leprechaun will stop at nothing to get back his pot of gold.

The Leprechaun is easily one of the top ten iconic slashers in the genre. Something about a the tiny, ugly little green monster with buckles on his shoes and hat, is just unsettling. Most of the time Leprechauns are portrayed as gentle fun loving little pranksters. But not in this film. In this one, he’s an evil little bastard who’s only happy with one thing…killing. 

There’s a multitude of aspects that make the original the best in the franchise. It contains some overlooked and forgotten elements, which attributed to its ferocity and appeal. Things such as the Leprechaun eating Lucky Charms cereal, or how the protagonists escape the ugly little monster by throwing shoes, which he can’t help but shine.

The Leprechaun is arguably Warwick Davis’s ultimate character portrayal. A three foot tall green monster who has a pungent for ripping off limbs and other body parts, definitely sets him apart from the other slashers. Everyone always thinks it would be easy to defeat such a small foe, however, the Leprechaun proves extremely difficult to thwart.

The special effects in this are magnificent and really hold the film together. The makeup and use of light and shadows works wonders. It creates a dark atmosphere which looms strongly over the film. The makeup and practical effects make this one of the most memorable classic slasher films in the genre. The crusty, flaky and coarse skin really add a level of fear to the little guy.

There’s also some really strong acting and performances which help the film stand tall. Jennifer Aniston is terrific as the modern, girly girl. A strong female lead is always effective in horror films. It builds a familiarity with the audience and gives them someone to root for. 

Also, there were some stout performances from Ken Olandt as the beefy heartthrob Nathan, and Robert Hy Gorman as the smart, witty and imaginative, Alex. The best performance however, came from Mark Holton as the eccentric, quirky and autistic, Ozzie. He brought some much needed and well placed humor to the dark and fantastical film. 

The sets were graceful and eye catching, especially the quiet little farmhouse. The costumes are some of the best around and still hold strong today. They give it a really creepy vibe. Also, the use of a cell phone, or “mobile”, by Tori (Aniston), always makes me smile. 

Whether you like it or not, Leprechaun is a powerhouse and extremely well crafted. It’s one of the all time iconic slasher films and a standard in any collection. It’s a must see for any slasher or horror fan. So, grab yourself a copy today, but beware any pots of gold. 

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Ugly Sweater Party 2018

Monster Reviews: Ugly Sweater Party 2018

Ugly Sweater Party is a 2018 Christmas themed horror film, written and directed by Aaron Mento. It stars Felissa Rose, Sean Whalen, Charles Chudabala, Hunter Johnson, Kevin Caliber, Berna Roberts, Lara Jean, Jennifer Nangle and Gregory Blair.

All hell breaks loose at an ugly sweater party when one of the party goers becomes possessed by an evil ugly Christmas sweater. This film is crass, vulgar and straight up sick. It’s everything a Christmas horror film should be. It’s like a live version of A Charlie Brown Christmas, on Acid.

Never has there been a Christmas film more appalling or ridiculous, than Ugly Sweater Party. It’s a disgusting, hilarious, one of a kind film that definitely doesn’t hold back. The film starts off strange and gets even weirder with each passing minute. Upon first hearing about this film, you’re inclined to think it’s about a house party equipped with an ugly sweater theme. However, that was not the case at all. It’s mainly based at an outdoor camping lodge and is not the usual “party” one would expect.

Ugly Sweater Party is a completely insane ride. There are plenty of hiccups and mistakes throughout the film and at times you’re left wondering what the hell you’re even watching. However, it does a stellar job at holding one’s attention, despite the lack of understanding what is actually going on. One of the problems with this film, is the lack thereof when it comes to the Christmas theme. Aside from the aforementioned Ugly Sweaters and a few sparse lights and decorations that appear to be homemade, there’s not much else tying the film to the holiday. There’s also a metal band thrown in, which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It was if they needed some filler and decided to add a musical scene which does not bode well with the rest of the movie. Another part of contention is with the ugly sweaters used in the film. While they were indeed Ugly, they are not a version the majority of people are used to seeing. In fact, a few of the cast weren’t even wearing actual sweaters in the film. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, being that is the main allure and plot of the film.

Ugly Sweater a Party is extremely bloody and offensive, and there are some seriously brutal kill scenes that warm the heart. The blood and gore are pretty much the best thing about the entire film. The camerawork and editing were beautifully executed, which added to the enjoyment of the watch, and the soundtrack contributed to the overall fun factor. The casting was one of the best things about the film. With some experienced horror veterans/icons attached, it gave the film more credence and instantly garnered a secured fan base. And they managed to land a few big names to add to their talented cast. The independent acting was phenomenal. The legendary slasher icon, actress Felissa Rose, was brilliant as Mrs. Mandix (the wife and co-owner of Camp Mandix). She was absolutely perfect in that role. Another great performance came from the legendary horror actor, Sean Whalen, as Declan Rains. Whalen’s character is the deceased serial killer whose spirit possesses the ugly Christmas sweater, causing anyone who dons the sweater to murder and kill anything in their path. Whalen was creepy as hell and gave yet another worthy horror performance.

The main duo of Charles Chudabala and Hunter Johnson, who played Cliff and Jody, paired great together. They seem to have a realistic friendship and did a fantastic job as best friends and roommates. Their brotherhood shown through clearly and they were one of the best things about the film. Overall I give the film 1 out of 3 scratches for its high entertainment value and insane overall concept. So, If you’re searching for some new horror to add to your holiday watch list, Ugly Sweater Party is the perfect addition. It’s definitely not for everyone and will surely make some people sick. However, for those of us who can stomach the insanity of this film, it’s the just present we’ve been waiting for.

Posted by Donovan Smith in HORROR NEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, SATANIC/DEMONIC, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, 0 comments