Donovan Smith

Monster Reviews: My Soul To Keep 2019

Monster Reviews: My Soul To Keep 2019

When you’re younger, life is full of wondrous mysteries and hidden magic. At times you feel as if you have a real connection with the universe. You believe you’re invincible, and the stories of monsters and the things lurking in the shadows are just a little less frightening.

My Soul to Keep is a 2019 horror film, written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad. It stars Parker Smerek, Remington Gielniak, Arielle Olkhovsky, Brandon Matthew Layne, Maria Wasikowski and Emmanuelle Turco. Nine-year-old Eli Braverman believes that there’s a monster living in his basement, and it’s trying to steal his soul.

This film is absolutely brilliant. A beautifully stylized throwback to the classic monster movies of the ’80s. The filmmakers manage to expertly capture the essence of what it’s like to be a child. It’s scary, imaginative, pulse-pounding fun.

MSTK is one of those films that really stick with you. It elicits a strong emotional response and really tugs at the heartstrings. You’re immediately hooked and constantly on the edge of your seat – drawn like a moth to a flame. The performances are strong, captivating and truly incredible. 

The acting in this film is excellent. Parker Smerek is fantastic as the main character Eli. You build a bond with the kid and can’t help but root for him in his quest against the so-called Burgly Monster. Remington Gielniak is also great as Eli’s best friend Sam. Gielniak is charming and hilarious and keeps the film upbeat despite its grim, threatening tone. The two actors seem to have real chemistry which translates perfectly to film.

Another great performance came from Arielle Olkhovsky as Hillary, the girl in Eli’s class who has a crush on our main protagonist. She’s mesmerizing and engaging, regardless of her limited screen time. However, the best portrayals come in the form of Brandon Matthew Layne as Eli’s dad and Emmanuelle Turco as Eli’s evil older sister.

Turco is fantastic as the mean, wicked older sister. She plays the part well and really sells the sibling rivalry. The best though comes from Brandon Matthew Layne as Eli’s dad. He’s the perfect father figure and without a doubt binds the family together. He adds a believable and genuine appeal.

The sets are gorgeous and the exceptional use of angles and shadowing helps raise the creep factor. The editing is great and the costumes and makeup are terrific. However, the thing that escalates the tension is the score. It helps build the dark and menacing mood which seems to loom throughout, like a boogeyman stalking its prey. 

My Soul to Keep is an instant classic. A terrifying monster masterpiece. It’s original, spooky, nightmarish fun. It’ll scare the crap out of you. It’s an extraordinary, brilliant tale with one seriously shocking ending that you have to see to believe.

Posted by Donovan Smith in EVENTS, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, Monster Reviews, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Splinter 2008

Monster Villains: Splinter 2008

While creatures and killers come in a variety of shapes and forms, very few can be referred to as a true “Monster”. In this profile of Monster Villains, we’ll be discussing one of the top creatures ever created in all of film. We’re talking about the genius monstrosity from the 2008 horror masterpiece, Splinter.

Evil comes in all sizes. There are serial killers, slashers, abominations, extraterrestrials, various types of evil animals and so much more. Many of the diverse types are usually categorized and lumped together under one umbrella or another. The term “Monster” is often loosely tossed around with wild abandon.

When it comes to the real monsters, there are stiflingly less in the film universe than one would hope. Of course, there are the classics such as John Carpenter’s The Thing, the Earth-based amoebic lifeform from the 1998 film, Phantoms, or more currently the organism from the 2016 film, Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Yet, aside from a dozen or so of the more well-known creatures, many aren’t really noteworthy or worth mentioning. However, thanks to its brilliant design, the parasitic Splinter has definitely earned its rightful spot in the monster manual.

Splinter is unlike any other monster, being it’s a parasitic organism that utilizes hosts to inflict damage. While there are a number of similar creatures within the genre, it’s exceptionally unique in its appearance and actions. The filmmakers brilliantly constructed a one of a kind nightmare. There’s absolutely nothing else like it in all of horror. 

What makes it so dangerous and scary, is that it’s ruthless and relentless in its pursuit. The Splinter can detach from the main mass and survive as separate, individual pieces. It can attack you in various ways, assuming your carcass as it searches for its next victim. The monster can possess any living creature in its pursuit of eradication. It’s fear at its finest.

The fact that the monster can kill whether it’s altogether or in individual rouge pieces, without question makes it one of the scariest creatures of all time. Add in the malevolent and malicious nature of the organism and you have one seriously sinister weapon that’s virtually unstoppable. It’s inherent evil in its purest form.

This gorgeously crafted Splinter can manipulate its physical characteristics and adapt to its surroundings with ease. It infects its enemies with just a single scrape or prick and is immune to almost everything. The monster is truly one deadly incarnation of pure evil, serving no other purpose than to annihilate everything in front of it. Splinter is quite possibly the greatest monster of all time; being the 1985 Thing was a remake of the 51’ film, which neither actually follow the monster from the 1938 book, Who Goes There, by John W. Campbell. However, the organism is definitely one of the meanest and nastiest ever brought to life. It’s brutal, scary and hell-bent on killing, yet also one of the most beautiful things to ever exist in film. 

If you haven’t seen the Splinter yet, prepare yourself for one intense, gut slicing thrill ride. The monster is absolutely brilliant and unlike any other in the genre. However, viewers beware, this film might cause you to lose your lunch if you’re not careful. It’s one sickening piece of cinema. 

Posted by Donovan Smith in Monster Villains, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Sally Day – Demons 2 1986

Monster Villains: Sally Day – Demons 2 1986

In this month’s profile of Monster Villains, we’re taking a look at one of the worst and most evil villains of all time. While this character is technically an unwilling participant in the involvement of their dark ways, they’re still one of the most formidable opponents in the genre and a totally unstoppable killing machine. We’re talking about the character of Sally Day from the 1986 Lamberto Bava classic, Demons 2.

Sally Day (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) is excited to celebrate her 16th birthday, only this is a party she and everyone else in her high rise apartment building won’t soon forget. What’s supposed to be a milestone in her life, marking her ascent into womanhood, quickly spirals into a savage nightmare of murder and bloodshed. Will anyone survive Sally’s night of slaughter?

In the killer follow up to the original cult classic, we come to find out that Sally is essentially responsible for the outbreak in her building. She’s a nervous wreck and does her best to entertain the guests at her birthday party. However, after she hears someone inviting a guy over that she doesn’t like, she freaks and yells for everyone to leave and get out. 

Sally’s pouting in her bedroom when a documentary show catches her attention and she’s instantly transfixed to the screen. The next thing she knows, one of the demons comes straight through her television set and into the room, attacking her. Sally then mutates into one of the infected, aiming her murderous sights on the rest of the partygoers. From there, all hell breaks loose as the high rise building is transformed into a gruesome tower of blood and bodies.

While the birthday girl didn’t necessarily have a choice in becoming a demon, she inadvertently released the curse, creating her very own demonic army. Commanding leadership of such evil, without a doubt, lands her amongst the top villains of all time. Being possessed and having no self-control over her murderous impulses makes her a loaded and lethal weapon.

Not only is Sally one of the nastiest and most vicious villains ever, but she also manages to have one of the highest kill counts, as a female. Plus, how many other characters do you know that turn into a demon on their sweet sixteen and kill a building full of people? It’s one bloody birthday you don’t want to miss.

Teen angst also plays a huge role in Sally’s ascension of evil, as nothing seems to satisfy her need to be popular and perfect. She constantly complains and throws tantrums when things aren’t going her way. She’s your typical teenage killing machine, with a need to impress. A sixteen-year-old hormonal demon girl is truly something scary.

If you don’t know about Sally Day and her infamous birthday bash by now, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s brutal, cruel and one party you absolutely don’t want to miss. There’s nothing like some demonic killing to brighten your day, and Sally’s here to offer a helping hand.

Posted by Donovan Smith in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR HISTORY, Monster Villains, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Bruce the Shark

Monster Villains: Bruce the Shark

In this months profile of Monster Villains, we’re going to be discussing a character who’s struck fear in the hearts of filmgoers for decades. The ancient man-eating machine is responsible for one of the most terrifying franchises in all of film. We’re talking of course about Bruce the Shark from legendary director Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 original summer blockbuster, Jaws.

“Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. Y’know the thing about a shark, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’… until he bites ya. And those black eyes roll over white.” 

Jaws is without a doubt one of society’s most beloved films of all time. And that is all thanks to the fear-inducing effectiveness of the relentless bloodthirsty beast from the deep. The average fan might know him simply as Jaws. However, to dedicated fans of the franchise, he’s better known as Bruce the Shark. 

It’s said that film crew dubbed the shark after Spielberg’s attorney Bruce Ramer, currently of the law firm, Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman. They’re one of Hollywood’s most renowned and elite law firms. There were originally a series of mechanical sharks used in the film, which were all given the moniker of Bruce by the crew. 

Bruce is pure, uncorrupted evil. The savage beast with razor-sharp teeth and a taste for blood will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He’s an anomaly and runs on pure instinct, which earns him a spot as one of the vilest evil villains of all time. He is to his universe, what Darth Vader and Pennywise are to theirs. 

Not only is Bruce born to hunt and kill, but he also has a propensity to eat humans. He’s capable of high level, creative problem solving and he’s extremely intelligent, unlike your average run of the mill great white. He’s even able to remember certain individuals and hold grudges, as he did with the Brody family. 

And it doesn’t stop with just Bruce either. In fact, he has a whole family that comes to avenge each other in the sequels. They are the only family of serial killing sharks to exist. 

In Part 2, Brucette seeks revenge on those responsible for blowing up Bruce. In Jaws 3-D, their daughter Brucetta arrives to retrieve her son Bruce Jr., who’s been captured by Sea World’s senior marine biologist and her assistants. She also sets her sights on the Brody family, both with concern for her son, as well as to seek revenge for the deaths of her parents. And then there’s Vengeance, who comes to wreak havoc on the Brodys, yet again, after the death of his wife and son at the hands of Michael and Dr. Morgan in the third film. 

Bruce Jr. and Vengeance were the only sharks who went unnamed by the film crews. They were never officially tagged and therefore were given their monikers by rabid fans of the films. There’s also a fourth shark that was pulled from the mold of the original, which was used in the 1975 production. It was lost for decades and later found at a junkyard in California, worn, weathered and pretty badly beaten. Fans of the series have dubbed it Junkyard Bruce. 

It’s the only remaining life-size model of the man eating great white from Jaws. Special effects Master Gregory Nicotero and his effects studio KNB EFX, have plans to restore the mold, which will be displayed at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, once completed. 

If you’re not familiar with Bruce the Shark, you should be. He’s definitely one of the most interesting and savage creatures in all of film. You could spend hours diving down the shark hole. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” 

Posted by Donovan Smith in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, HORROR HISTORY, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Happy Death Day 2U – 2019

Monster Reviews: Happy Death Day 2U – 2019

Every so often a film comes along that redefines the genre. Be it big or small, the change is always significant. Sometimes these films go unnoticed, other times they’re appropriately decorated. No matter the case, they’re all game changers and extremely influencing.

Happy Death Day 2U is a glorious display of brains and blood. It brilliantly blends science and time travel, with horror. While it’s without a doubt a horror film, it’s very science-based and is basically the first of its kind in the modern era.

The film is written and directed by Christopher Landon. It stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine, Rob Mello, and Kenneth Israel. Imagine having to relive the day of your death over and over again until you find and put a stop to the person responsible for killing you. Now imagine having to do it twice. 

Happy Death Day 2U is in a class all its own. While there are science fiction horror films and horror movies involving aspects of science and time travel, there’s never been a science-based horror film like this. The slasher aspect of the film pretty much takes a backseat to the inclusion of quantum mechanics. It adds an urgent, exciting element to the film, keeping it fresh and relevant.

It’s easy to see people losing interest quickly in a film like this though, as it’s not what moviegoers are normally accustomed too. However, films are currently becoming increasingly more and more intricate, involving ideas and concepts once deemed to complex for the average viewer. A film like this sets the stage for an entire science based horror sub-genre, with an array of untapped opportunities and potential.

When done correctly, such as this, the concept can be extremely impactful. It could flip the genre on its head and bring about new fans to our beloved community. It can potentially generate a higher intellectual fans base, proving that horror isn’t all about nudity and blood.

Phi Vu as Ryan in “Happy Death Day 2U,” written and directed by Christopher Landon.

The acting in this is couldn’t be any better. The characters are very memorable and relatable, and those returning from the first film picked up right where they left off in the previous. It was a real pleasure not to see anyone recast and to be able to watch certain actors expand on what they accomplished in the first film. That’s the key to a lasting series. 

The idea of watching the same day play out over and over again is the perfect formula to experiment with. With a storyline that can pretty much go anywhere, the potential is unlimited. Many sequels are bound to follow, each with their own interpretations of the original concept. Toss in the science aspect, and you have the ideal blueprint for continued success.

The costumes are great and the gore is spot on. The sets are very inviting and the overall cinematography is stylish and stunning. Not to mention the directing, editing and sound are also exceptionally well done. However, the best part about the film is actually the story and dialogue. They really slayed the subplots and knocked the characters out of the park. The chemistry between the actors was obvious and very apparent. 

Happy Death Day 2U is insanely fun. It’s full of blood, science and scares. It’s a masterful sequel and one of the few to truly surpass the original in every area. If you haven’t checked this one out yet, go see it! It’s a seriously remarkable piece of film.

Posted by Donovan Smith in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SERIES REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Pride Month – Marie – Haute Tension (High Tension) 2003

Monster Villains: Pride Month – Marie – Haute Tension (High Tension) 2003

For this month’s Monster Villains, we’re going to be checking out one truly evil and heinous individual. As we celebrate Pride Month, it’s only right we spotlight the most infamous LGBT villain to exist in the genre. She is wildly unpredictable and without a doubt one of the scariest figures in all of horror.

I’m talking of course about the character of Marie from Alexandre Aja’s 2003 masterpiece, High Tension. The role is played by the wonderfully talented actress, Cécile de France. When it comes to matters of the heart, the saying is true – “Love kills.”

What separates Marie from the other villains, is the fact that she possesses absolutely no self-control whatsoever. Her unpredictability, brutally and complete loss of all coherent function at a moments notice puts her at the top of the class. Also, being the first true LGBT villain/slasher makes her even more frightening and a real force of evil to be reckoned with.

 

Love is the most coveted feeling in our universe. In the end, every living being just wants to be accepted for who or what they are, humans especially. We’re always looking for the “one” or our “better half”. However, that feeling can quickly change at the drop of a hat and become someone’s worst nightmare if they’re not careful. As they say, “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned”.

Rejection is one of mankind’s biggest fears. Being told you’re not good enough or worthy of attention, can drive people absolutely mad. In fact, it’s actually causing people to commit extreme acts of murder and violence in some cases. Love has one of the highest death tolls of all time, and still remains one of the longest active serial killers today. What it boils down to, is a simple notion that everyone just wants to be coveted and loved.

 

It’s not so much that Marie is evil but more that she’s under love’s crippling and blinding spell. The longing for that fleeting and elusive feeling is potentially hazardous and one of the most dangerous emotions a person could experience. It grips and smothers like a straight jacket, refusing to let its captor go. It causes people to lose their minds and every now and then, their lives.

Those who are unsuspecting of their dark nature, are the ones you really need to worry about. Their impulsive mentally and sudden urge to lash out uncontrollably at any given moment is terrifying. It’s impossible to feel safe around someone who has the tendency to flip the switch without warning and purposefully create havoc.

No matter the case, love comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or straight, it’s the hardest yet most fulfilling feeling you can ever experience. It’s trying, constricting, but still the happiest ride you’ll ever take. 

So, when it comes to the scariest villains of all time, Marie is definitely a contender. Her unpredictable nature and undying love make her a savage threat, unlike the others. If you don’t know who she is by now, it’s time to acquaint yourself with the beautifully deranged and delectable French slasherette. 

Posted by Donovan Smith in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, OPINION, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Monster Interviews: Nicholas Vince – Pride Month

Monster Interviews: Nicholas Vince – Pride Month

  • DS:  When did you realize you wanted to be an actor and entertainer? What engaged your interest and led you down the path of your esteemed career?
  • NV: Very early on. I took part in plays when I was at primary school. When I was 11 my English teacher, invited me to join the local amateur drama society, who were putting on evening excerpts from the books of Charles Dickens. I played all the small boys, such as Pip from Great Expectations.
  • I think what engaged my interest, was that I could use my imagination and, like all kids, I just enjoyed playing at make-believe.
  • DS: How did you become involved in the independent horror film industry? What initially drew you to horror and what’s caused you to stay?
  • NV: The first books I read from our local library when I was seven or eight years old, were the Greeks myths, which involved gods and monsters. After that, I graduated to ghost stories. Then in my mid-teens, I watched the Universal horror movies, late at night on the television. I loved the fact that except for Dracula, the “monsters,” were the good guys. Frankenstein’s Creature was a victim who was only looking for love.
  • My first independent film was, of course, Hellraiser. I got involved with that because I’d known Clive Barker for around three years and he asked me. More recently, I have met independent filmmakers at film conventions, such as London’s FrightFest, and they invited me to be part of their projects.
  • DS: You’ve garnered many fandoms from your portrayal as the Chattering Cenobite in Clive Barker’s 1987 film, Hellraiser. What’s it like being the Chatterer and working with Clive and Doug? Do you enjoy the recognition that comes with that role, or is it a bit much at times?
  • NV: It was a problematic costume and made up to work in because it was so restrictive. I couldn’t hear speak or see; which dictated the stillness of performance. Initially, Clive and I had discussed the idea that I’d be leaping around the set, like a chattering monkey. However, the design of the makeup and costume were so durable that I didn’t need to do much to make the Chatterer terrifying.
  • Working with Clive and Doug, and the rest of the casting crew, was a massive amount of the fun. I laughed so much in the green room; the sound engineer threatened to do me harm as my laughter could be heard on set and was ruining takes.
  • DS: What are your thoughts on the news of the Hellraiser reboot, which was once rumored to be done by Clive Barker, but is now said to be in the hands of writer and producer Steven S. Goyer?
  • NV: I think that the most critical element is that Clive Barker should be involved. Along with Doug as Pinhead. Clive created a vast world which many writers and artists, outside the films, have contributed new stories. I’m thinking of the Hellraiser comics and the collection of short stories Hellbound Hearts, edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan. So, I believe there is a vast scope for Mr. Goyer to do something incredible and exciting, mainly if Clive Barker is at the heart of it.
  • DS: Genre fans might not know this, but you acted in only three horror films from 87′ to 90‘, before a twenty-year hiatus. You’ve only recently resurfaced over the last decade. What’s the reason behind your current resurgence?
  • NV: After we made Nightbreed, I decided to give up acting and concentrate on writing comics. As well as contributing stories to the Hellraiser and Nightbreed comics, I also wrote weekly and monthly comics for Marvel UK. Then three of those projects were canceled within a month of each other, and I found myself having to earn a living, and I ended up working in computers. Also, then, in 2012, I had a chance to leave that and return to writing and acting.
  • DS: As we celebrate Pride month in the States, what does it mean to you, and how important is it to have the LBGT community represented in the horror genre?
  • NV: As a gay man, I think it’s hugely important. It’s great to see so many LGBT characters represented in modern horror films and TV series; not just as “the pansy” who gets killed in the first reel’ or the ‘trans homicidal maniac.‘ Another favorite movie of mine is Hellbent (dir. Paul Etheredge), which is a stalk and slash film set in West Hollywood at Halloween.
  • Over the years, many people from the community have mentioned to me they found comfort in the film Nightbreed. Many of us were made to feel we were monstrous as we were LGBT, and Nightbreed is a film which celebrates the monsters and shows the real villains are the ‘normal’ people.
  • DS: Being your career has spanned nearly four decades, do you still find and take pleasure in the art, and what have you found most fulfilling about acting?
  • NV: I do still enjoy acting, as it’s always different. In the last year, I’ve played a father, a guy at a gym, a bartender and a “monster without makeup” – to quote the director when he offered me the part. What do I find most fulfilling? I like how acting is really about studying humanity. It’s about walking in another person’s shoes. Also, that, I think, helps broaden my understanding of other people. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s always good for children to have drama lessons. Not only can the experiences help increase confidence, but they can also teach them to think of another person’s viewpoint.
  • DS: You wear a ton of hats such as Actor, Writer, Producer, Director, Author, and more. Which is your personal favorite, and which do you find most gratifying and rewarding?
  • NV: I wish, at times, that I did have a favorite as it would make life an awful lot more manageable. Moreover, later this year, the plan is to add Artist more fully to that list. However, the truth is, I enjoy all of them when they’re going well, and I wish I were doing one of the others when I’m struggling with something.
  • DS: Do you have any special upcoming projects that you’d like to let your followers know? Any future content that you’d like to share with your fans?
  • NV: I’m working on a couple of things which I’ll be able to talk about later this year.In the meantime, the feature film, Book of Monsters (dir. Stewart Sparke), in which I play the heroine’s father, was recently released by Epic Pictures and I feature in a few other films due to be hitting festivals or release later this year, For We Are Many (Hex Studios), Borley Rectory (dir. Ashley Thorpe), Heckle (dir. Martyn Pick), The Offer (dir. Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart) which is available on Amazon Prime and Fuck You Immortality (Federico Scargiali) and a couple more currently in production.
  • DS: Where can people follow you and stay up to date with what you’re doing? Are there any social media platforms you’re on more regularly than others?
  • NV: I’m most often on Facebook  and Twitter  but the most accessible way to track projects I’m working on, watch my short films and where I’ll be making appearances is on my website, nicholasvince.com, where people can also check out my store.
  • DS: As a formality, we have a final question we like to ask all of our guests. If you could pick one and only one, which would you say is your all-time favorite horror film?
  • NV: That has to be ‘The Masque of the Red Death,’ based on a couple of Edgar Allen Poe stories. It starred Vincent Price and was directed by Roger Corman. It’s a weird film with some great set pieces and asks some important moral questions about the role of God in the world’s suffering.
Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED CONTENT, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: The Dead Don’t Die 2019

Monster Reviews: The Dead Don’t Die 2019

When it comes to zombie films, they’re traditionally all very similar. Lots of blood, guts and brains. They rely heavily on the gore and they’re usually rich with social commentary. The storylines are generally very light and its always about the aesthetics.

The Dead Don’t Die is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Rosie Perez, RZA, Sturgill Simpson and Selena Gomez. The residents of Centerville are left to battle for their lives as the dead begin to rise and invade their once tranquil town.

Let’s face it, when it comes to the actors and characters in films, they can single handedly make or break a picture. They can make you fall in love with them, or they can make you hate them. You can root for them to survive, or cheer for their defeat. However, when executed properly, a legendary performance can be eternal and sometimes even immortal. 

The Dead Don’t Die is full of dry wit and laugh out loud humor that will tickle your funny bone to the core. It’s a killer horror comedy unlike any other, with the largest ensemble cast ever assembled for a zombie film. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, hold on tight as director Jim Jarmusch brings viewers a side splitting comedy about the end of the world.

This film is absolute genius. It’s managed to take the nearly beat to death subgenre and flip it on its axis. Instead of the tired old gore and blood drenched cannibal feasts that we’re used to, this film focuses more on gut busting laughs and hysterics from its amazing cast. Bill Murray and Adam Driver headline one magnificently talented lineup that’s guaranteed to entertain.

There are some seriously amazing performances in this. Murray was awesome as the cool, laid back Sheriff, and Driver was the perfect level headed sidekick. Chloë Sevigny was also great as the shy and awkward third wheel of the law, and Steve Busvemi was a riot as the crazy racist farmer. Tom Waits was savage as Hermit Bob, but the best has to be Rosie Perez as a news reporter with the hilariously similar name.

It’s not your average fast paced, chew em up and spit em out, insane, over the top type of zombie film. Instead it’s a much slower, more comedic based style where the zombies are essentially the background noise to the jokes and one liners. It’s a truly entertaining laugh filled odyssey.

Not evry film needs to employ off the wall kills or loads of gore. With the subgenre currently on a downslope, it’s pleasing to see a fresh take on the outdated monsters. It’s nice to see the undead reinvented and not taken so seriously, like they normally are. With all the zombie themed content out there, it’s hard to leave a mark on the genre and that’s exactly what this film has done.

The film looks amazing. The cinematography is great and the countryside sets are very soothing. Jarmusch’s storytelling is always slower paced, which seems to work really well with the Romeroesque zombies. It amps up the fun quotient and lightens the intensity. 

While fans might not be so accepting of a film like this, it’s definitely delightful and a worthy addition to the zombie subgenre. Stellar performances and a solid cast make it one of the best modern undead films to date. It’s a hilarious centerpiece and a great all around film.

If you’re bored of the same old tiresome zombie films, look no further. The Dead Don’t Die is an off the path, unconventional, entertaining undead film unlike the rest. Tons of laughs, awesome special effects and even its own theme song. It’s the best ZomCom yet.

Posted by Donovan Smith in EVENTS, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, HORROR HISTORY, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PARANORMAL, SCI-FI HORROR, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: Saint Bernard 2013

Monster Reviews: Saint Bernard 2013

Some films induce the spirit of horror. Whether it’s with style, gore, flash, story, special effects, or what have you, they convey the very essence of the word. They scrape at your nerves and hack at your sanity. Some films employ savage tactics to push you over the edge and chill you to the bone.

Saint Bernard is a 2013 fantasy horror film, written, produced and directed by Gabriel Bartalos. It stars Jason Dugre, Warwick Davis, Katy Sullivan, Peter Iasillo Jr., Bob Zmuda, Jack Doroshow and George Clayton Johnson.An orchestra conductor on the brink of insanity slowly spirals into a decaying world of madness.”

Truly compelling films utilize certain aspects like loud piercing sound effects, extreme psychotic performances, or brutal blood and gore to scare the crap out of you. They challenge the limits and do everything they can to get under your skin. They test the viewers resolve and terrify you at all costs. This is one of those films.

Saint Bernard is a real horror film in every facet. The film has no actual story line or plot. You have no idea where it’s going, yet you can’t seem to peel your face from the screen. It’s a like being lost in a bizarre maze of insanity. Strap in for one seriously frightening trip, with no idea at where it will eventually derail.

Saint Bernard is every horror fans wet dream. It’s a demented and sickening game of mental chess. The film takes you on a journey into darkness, full of bad ass practical effects and characters straight out of a child’s nightmare. It’s arguably the most excellent horror film of all time, in that it doesn’t adhere to the regular formats and traditional standards that most genre films follow. There’s absolutely no other film like this, period.

Bartalos’s masterpiece is unlike any other. The performances are strange and wondrous, and the gore is simply on another level. Then again, what do you expect from the expert special makeup effects artist? From top to bottom this films exude horror. Its pure adrenaline-fueled insanity.

The sets are magnificent. They shuffle you through some of the weirdest shit you’ll ever see; an underworld labyrinth full of monsters and alarming characters. The costumes and makeup couldn’t be any better, and special effects hold it all together. There are just so many things to love about this film. It’s macabre, wondrous, and inspiring.

For the most part, the film is pretty tough to get through, as it virtually has no point to it. However, for those who can withstand the dive into the dark abyss, expect it to slither into your thoughts with some fantastic performances that will strike a chord. The music and sound add to the ambiance and help give the film a hostile, dark undertone. You keep thinking that you’re either going crazy or something is trying to get you.

Saint Bernard is a total mind fuck. It spins you round and round while repeatedly stabbing into your subconscious. It sinks a blade in snugly and twists. Bartalos’s spectacular extravaganza of gore blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. It’s as if he took a nightmare and transferred it straight from paper to film. It doesn’t get more horror than this.

Jason Dugre is phenomenal as the mentally unstable orchestra conductor, Bernard. His performance is one of a kind. It’s one of the best horror portrayals of all time. Warwick Davis is also at the top of his game as Othello. He’s mesmerizing and engaging. Jack Doroshow was frightening and super creepy, and Bob Zmuda and Peter Iasillo Jr. were excellent in their roles as well.

Overall, Saint Bernard is a practical effects masterpiece along with the likes of From Beyond and The Thing. It’s not for everyone and is a disturbing film for serious, hardcore fans. The film recently received its much anticipated Blu Ray release, so don’t hesitate, grab yourself a copy today!

Posted by Donovan Smith in Categories, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Monster Villains: Dr. Terence Wynn – Halloween 1978

Monster Villains: Dr. Terence Wynn – Halloween 1978

When it comes to the most heinous and vile villains in horror, there’s none more deserving than Dr. Wynn from the 1978 cult classic, Halloween. He’s without a doubt one of the most evil and sadistic characters ever created. A heavily understated villain, Dr. Wynn displays no empathy or remorse for his dangerous actions.

While we’re not informed of the doctor’s true nature until they elaborate on his character in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Dr. Wynn remains a forgotten villain in cinematic history. As we find out more about him in Curse, Wynn is directly responsible for unleashing the Shape upon the unsuspecting residents of Haddonfield. His ego and his need for control ultimately led to the escape of the killer boogeyman.

“If there’s one thing I know, you can’t control evil. You can lock it up, burn it, and bury it, and pray that it dies, but it never will. It just…rests awhile. You can lock your doors, and say your prayers, but the evil is out there…waiting. And maybe, just maybe…it’s closer than you think!”

You see, Dr. Wynn is the one inflicting the ancient Druid curse of Thorn upon innocent children and unwilling families. He’s a practitioner of pagan rituals and black magic, and wholeheartedly conforms to their killing ways. Wynn tries to excerpt his authority over the Shape, making him his own personal killing machine. However, as we all know, Myers adheres only to his own inner demons.

There would be no Myers if not for the crazy doctor. The age difference between Myers and Wynn most likely means that Dr. Wynn is the one who originally marked the Shape with the curse, since we clearly saw him performing the ritual on the baby in the Curse of Michael Myers. Therefore he’s directly responsible for the string of events that helped form the franchise. Dismissing the RZ and 2018 versions that lay waste to all the previous sequels, that is.

Dr. Wynn is a compelling character, despite only appearing in two films. He’s a wild card and loose canon in the franchise. He’s definitely a forgotten villain and just as evil as his boogeyman counterpart. We did witness the doctors demise at the hands of the masked monster in part 6, however, he’s still very much deserving of recognition.

The alternative ending to part 6 actually provides fans with a bit more insight into the Doctor’s past and beliefs. It supplies viewers with more information about the Druid curse beset upon Michael Myers. We get a better understanding of the Doctor’s wicked ways and how evil he truly is.

Dr. Terence Wynn was portrayed by two separate actors in the franchise, Robert Phalen and Mitchell Ryan. Phalen played the character in the original 78 classic, and Ryan played the sadistic Doctor in part 6. Phalen had a short one scene appearance in the original, where as Ryan had a chance to really build the mythos of the character and give him a larger role within the series.

Don Shanks, who played Myers in The Revenge of Michael Myers, also portrayed the Man in Black in part 5. It’s revealed that the man dressed in spurs and all black at the end of part 5, is actually Dr. Wynn. However, we don’t know who the man actually is until the reveal halfway through part 6.

When it comes to villains in horror, Dr. Terence Wynn is one of the absolute worst there is. Without the mad Doctor, there would be no Boogeyman, no Michael Myers. If you don’t know who he is, give him his due. The evil Doctor is in.

Posted by Donovan Smith in HALLOWEEN, HORROR HISTORY, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
Monster Reviews: On the Trail of Bigfoot (2019) – Small Town Monsters

Monster Reviews: On the Trail of Bigfoot (2019) – Small Town Monsters

The legend of what is commonly known as “Bigfoot,” has been around for quite some time. Rumors and stories of the beast were reported long before the term was coined and internationally adopted back in 1958. They spoke of a giant hairy creature that terrorized homes and humans across the globe. For years tales of the beast have become the stuff of fantasy and lore, the stuff of nightmares.

On the Trail of Bigfoot is a six-part tv mini-series, written and directed by Seth Breedlove. The documentary series stars several respected investigators who currently work and do research in cryptozoology. Names such as Loren Coleman, Mark Matzke, Dr. David Floyd, Marc Myrsell, Kathy and Bob Strain. It depicts intriguing tales of Sasquatch encounters across the United States, straight from the mouths of eyewitnesses themselves.
The show takes viewers on a journey through the murky swamps and dark forests of our country, exploring the legend of America’s most beloved cryptids. Is Bigfoot real, or it is it just an old wives tale conjured up by the collective imagination? Is the creature flesh and blood, or is it a being from another dimension? STM takes its stab at the legend that is the squatch.
Whether you believe in the creature or not, On the Trail of Bigfoot provides a very informative look at the cryptid who has captured the hearts of fans worldwide. Many of Bigfoot’s most prominent advocates are also said to be its biggest skeptics. Take a walk down the trail with Small Town Monsters and director Seth Breedlove as they examine the possibility of the real existence of the hairy beasts.
There is no doubt that with reports dating as far back as the 1700s, something is out there.
What that thing is will continue to remain a mystery. Curious followers hope to one day get to the bottom of the truth behind stories and get a definitive answer to the questions that have baffled and inspired minds for centuries.
This show is a beautiful blend of scenery and Sasquatch. The storytelling is fantastic. It combines first-hand accounts and eyewitness reports with superbly crafted dramatization and stunning, picturesque landscapes. You can easily get lost in the beauty on screen, while at the same time being entirely absorbed by the stories told.
Bigfoot is universally adored due to it being the lone cryptid with the highest resemblance to humans. The potentiality of the creature being real drives people wild. We are supposed to be the superior race, and just the mere thought of something being out there on the loose that we cannot locate and have no control over drives people mad. Where are the bones, solid, conclusion wrapped in the neat little box with the tightly tied bow on top and the  actual proof?
On the Trail of Bigfoot allows fans of the famed cryptid to learn even more about the mythical monster. It discusses every version of the creature and dishes up content that some the hardest of squatchers might not even know about. Every location you go to has its own story and version of Bigfoot. However, no matter what the creature supposedly looks like, or what the locals refer to it as, they all come from the same family.Moreover, believe it or not, the odds are that at least a few of the reports have to be real.
People see something out there that they cannot explain. Also, no matter how strange that might sound, chances are it is true, which is a terrifying thought and an exciting, invigorating revelation to some.
What Seth Breedlove and Small Town Monsters are doing by making these cases and stories relevant again, is truly fantastic work. It genuinely is “the last great mystery,” and inquiring minds want to know. The truth is out there and continuing to put these reports at the forethought of society is what will eventually bring about truth, no matter how long it might take.
Whether you are a cryptid lover or you want to know if the creature exists, On the Trail of Bigfoot is an absolute must see. It asks all the right questions and navigates smoothly through the legends that surround the mysterious monster. Are there flesh and blood beasts on the loose, or are all the stories simply conjurings of humanity’s twisted imagination?
Posted by Donovan Smith in DOCUMENTARIES, DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, PARANORMAL, SERIES REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
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.

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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