Michelle MIDI Sayles

Hailing from Sydney Australia and injecting a dose of Aussie Flavour to her reviews, Midi began her horror love in Birmingham England at a very young age and is always trying to find the next local or indie horror talent to share with the world.

Australian Urban Legends

Australia’s Urban Legends will be focusing on six stories I have grown up with in my thirty years of living in Australia (my family moved her in 1988, when I was nearly eight years old from Birmingham, England), I thought it’d be fun to share the top urban legends from areas not far from where I’ve lived.

In a country where pretty much anything that breathes could possibly be deadly to humans, it’s no wonder creepy macabre campfire stories are easy to find.

Like all other countries worldwide there are tales of strange going ons from the Bunny Man of Virginia, an evil witch known as Nale Ba in India, sewer alligators in New York, and even Paris’ Vanishing Lady/Vanishing Hotel Room.

I’ll start with the most infamous and also the saddest.

The Ghost Train Fire Of Luna Park.

It happened on June 9th 1979. Unlike most this part of the story is true. It was sadly on that date six boys and a man perished in the blaze. All they had done was get on a ride at a theme park.

Luna Park was opened in Sydney in the 1930’s and, after closing for several years (until 1982), it is still open to this day. The site of the blaze is now a building called the Big Top. A location for entertainment and food since the tragedy. Some say they have heard ghostly whispers inside the big top, others believe the ghosts of the Ghost Train haunt the building. A plaque was erected on a wall, to memorialise the victims of the tragedy.

The victims were John Godson (aged 29), Damien Godson (aged 6), Craig Godson (aged 4), Richard Carroll (aged 13), Michael Johnson (aged 12), Johnathan Billings (aged 12), and Seamus Rahilly (aged 12).

No one suffered more that night than Jenny Godson, the mother of the two youngest victims (aged four and six) and wife of the only adult killed in the tragedy. She lost her whole family in one moment.

“We asked Damien and Craig what ride they’d like to go on again, they chose the Ghost Train. Little did I know… For some reason, suddenly I felt like an ice-cream. I asked the others if they wanted one, but they said no. I asked them to wait for me, but when I turned around they were gone. I don’t know why they didn’t wait for me, as we’d been on every ride together that night. It still haunts me to this day. Something spiritual took over. Divine intervention? For some reason, I was not meant to die that night.”Jenny said after the incident. Normally she had stated, she didn’t eat much ice cream, but that day she was overwhelmed. 

What makes this story part of the urban legends of Sydney is not the tragedy itself, nor the various reports that the fire was possibly deliberately lit by notorious crime figure and developer Abe Saffron (after failing to procure the sale of the park). No, it is in fact the mystery of a photograph taken with one of the Godson boys prior to entering the park that day, at a ferry wharf in Circular Quay.

The photograph is of Damien Godson with a devil horned man placing his hand on the boys shoulder, dressed in only a loin cloth, mask and a horned headdress. No one knows who the mysterious man is, or where he came from. And he was never located since the incident. Many believe he is a link to occult practices that caused the fire that night. Whether this is true may never be discovered.

Our second urban legend is of one of the most iconic sights one would see, when visiting Sydney harbour.

Tales of Death on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Every tourist travelling through Sydney will see several sights from a simple trip around the harbour. Usually the bridge itself, the Sydney Opera House House, Luna Parks big mouthed frontage and the Centrepoint Tower (though these days the increasing height of skyscrapers will surely dwarf that more and more in time).

The bridge itself isn’t exactly something one would consider scary but people did die during its construction .Officially sixteen deaths were recorded from accidents during the construction of one of the worlds most famous bridges, but unofficially Sydney siders  have rumoured three more deaths were not recorded.

Apparently locals claim that three construction contractors mysteriously vanished, due to falling in the huge pylons. Being itinerant workers, they weren’t noticed as missing for several weeks. It was deemed too difficult to retrieve their remains and they were supposedly entombed in the bridges pylon til this very day.

The Penrith Panther.

Closer to my own stomping grounds is the legend of the Penrith Panther. The local football team (National Rugby League, being on par to Australians as NFL is in the USA or the EPL is in the UK), even was named after this particular urban legend. Yes there is a team called the Penrith Panthers.

Legend has it that a large black panther strolls the luscious lands of the Penrith area from the lower Blue Mountains to Katoomba. This panther is like the locals version of Bigfoot. Constantly sighted but always poorly photographed. Some say it’s just a very big black cat, while others say it’s as big as any lion or tiger. Sightings began in the 1930’s and the government even spent time trying to locate the beast unsuccessfully. Claims are it is either a large marsupial cat or an escaped circus animal.

Personally, I have lived in the district for thirty years. I have never seen this creature, nor have I met anyone who has (and I have friends throughout the areas it has been sighted). Whether there is a giant cat playing hide and seek with the locals, will remain unsure.

The Hawkesbury River Monster.

Another beastly urban legend is that of the Hawkesbury River Monster. The descriptions on this one may remind you of something else. Snake like head, long neck, large body with two sets of flippers and an eel like tail. Sounds familiar? Well it’s visual appearance is recorded as a very similar likeness to old Nessie (The Loch Ness Monster) in Scotland.

Stories tell of how this monster leaves  unexplained sliding trails on the river bank, and crushes abandoned boats. Claims that owners of those boats vanishing by way of the beast appear highly unfounded, but this story has cultural roots. It was originally told by the Darug people (Aboriginal natives in the area) and in their art they’ve created depictions of the water monster for thousands of years.

Images of this creature and old Nessie both, to me, look somewhat like a plesiosaurus (yes a water dwelling dinosaur). Is it possible these sightings, are of a still existent dinosaur ?

Moving on from monsters to a more spiritual creepiness, the last two legends in this article involve ghosts.

The Girl on the Highway.

Again located in the  region of Narrabeen, Sydney (about an hour or two from the main part of Sydney) the girl is seen on the Wakehurst Parkway bear Middle Creek Bridge.

The tales told are of a young girl in a white dress who appears on the road expecting you to drive through her or of a nun who sits in people’s cars, just before the lights at Oxford Falls. Anyone travelling alone after midnight in the area is warned that one of these apparitions will try and take control of their car, unless they are ordered to get out.

To give some more interest for this legend, a local film crew made a documentary about this legend. They claim they became physically ill during the process. Whether this claim is true or merely to boost interest in the documentary is unknown, but locals believe in the spirits of the road.

The Woman in Black.

Again in the Blue Mountains we return for our final legend. This time of the Black Ghost Of Victoria Pass. For more than one hundred years, truckers have told tales of seeing a woman in black (no not the same woman from the 1983 Susan Hill novel and three subsequent films)walking along the road as they descend the tough roads between  Mount Victoria and Little Hartley on the Great Western Highway (one of Sydney’s  oldest and longest highways). The reports are that this Ghost is of a child bride named Caroline Collits, who was beaten to death by her ex boyfriend John Walsh in 1842.

Despite extensive road upgrades , Caroline is still seen to this day on occasion during the coldest nights, when the road is icy and drivers must be more cautious and drive slower.

With this story I had to do some extensive research but found the truth behind the legend. The truth is Caroline was NOT the child bride of John Walsh but he did murder her.

The truth is her name was Caroline James and she came from a rather unstable family. Her mother had hung herself, when Caroline was in her early teens. Caroline’s  father had been put in goal for six months on suspicion of contributing to her death. Some months later, Caroline’s younger sister was the one who married a John  Walsh . Rumours at the time were that it was known that Walsh had been seeing both Caroline and her sister before and after his marriage. Caroline had left her own husband William Collits, to live with her sister and Walsh. There was talk of a reconciliation coming between Caroline and William, but on the night of the 4th of January 1842, Caroline, William and Walsh met at Joseph Jagger’s Inn at Hartley, Mount Victoria to have a drink.

Soon after leaving the Public House Walsh knocked William Collits to the ground, without the slightest provocation. Caroline came to his assistance by grabbing Walsh’s arms and telling William to “run, run, he has got a stone and will murder you”, which allowed William to escape. These were the last words Caroline was heard to utter

Matthew Mall, a mail driver from Penrith to Hartley, was delivering mail as usual. At about 6 a.m. midway between the top of Mt. Victoria and Soldier’s Perch, about three miles from Jagger’s, he saw some clothes lying on the road. On further investigation he discovered a body nearby. It was established that this was Caroline, William’s wife. She had been assaulted and her skull crushed by a rock. John Walsh was later taken into custody.

At his trial Walsh maintained his innocence and accused young Jagger and three others of following him, hitting him with a pistol and taking Caroline away from him. A report by John Jones, Sergeant of H.M. 80th Regiment in court, stated that John Walsh had come to his hut at 11 p.m. on the night of 5th January stating he had been attacked by young Jagger and four others, but Jones didn’t believe him and sent him to get assistance elsewhere.

The Jury deliberated for half an hour, then returned to pronounce a verdict of guilty. The Judge stated at the trial that Jagger and other witnesses should have been summoned and that expense and inconvenience should have been disregarded in a case such as this.

John Walsh was hanged on Tuesday, 3rd May, 1842 at Bathurst.

Nonetheless, poor Caroline’s soul haunts the area of her tragic demise in the Blue Mountains.


Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
Developing news on Ridley Scott’s Alien Franchise.

Developing news on Ridley Scott’s Alien Franchise.

Yes, you read that, right! There is more developing news on Ridley Scott’s Alien Franchise!

Not so long ago we here at the House of Tortured Souls reported on the merger of Fox and Disney in Disney’s latest acquisition. We also added information on how Disney was looking to expand the existing Alien Franchise.Ridley Scott

In a recent interview between the Hollywood Reporter and Alien Director Ridley Scott, he chatted candidly about the legacy of Alien after its 40 years of popularity.

Despite all the new films made, Scott still sees the first as the epitome of the franchise.

“There is only ever the one,” he said. “It is like trying to do a sequel to 2001. Fundamentally, you cannot. Really, with the greatest respect to Star Wars, the best film by far is the one that George directed. By miles. It was unique. wonderful for me.  A fairy story of all fairy stories in space.”Xenomorph

Moreover, to follow through is a tough call, “It has been since after 2017’s disappointing reception for Alien: Covenant, that the franchise looked to be taking on hiatus. Rumor is this is not the case and Alien works are already in production”

Back in April at CinemaCon, Disney already had said that it was looking into expanding of Fox’s most popular franchises. This included Deadpool, X-Men, and of course, Alien. Scott has yet to confirm if he’ll be directly involved with any of them, though insiders are saying he will.Prometheus

Scott preferred the beasts in the franchise to remain alone, speaking of the AVP series as “a daft idea” and that to remain relevant separating the characters was a better idea. Is this his plan to bring Alien back onto the big screen himself?

Using his 2012 prequel to the original Alien film, Prometheus, as a comparison. Scott said that by not revealing the Alien until the end, Prometheus was doing something different but with a simple storyline. “The Alien is uniquely attached to Mother Nature.

It simply comes off a wood beetle that will lay eggs inside a unsuspecting insect. Moreover, in so doing, the form of the egg will become the host for this new creature. That is hideous. However, that was what it was. Also, you cannot keep repeating that because the joke gets boring,” Scott said. “A restored version of Alien is currently playing in movie theaters to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film’s release. Fans of the franchise will await further news anxiously.”

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
Disney takes ownership of Alien and Predator!

Disney takes ownership of Alien and Predator!

 

Yes! You read that correctly Disney has taken ownership of Alien and Predator!

In a recent $71.3 billion deal back in December, Disney has now taken ownership of most of 21st Century Fox’s assets. Beating out Comcast in a huge bid to secure many of Fox’s biggest franchises, Disney has been scarce on information about the future of the more adult material they now own.

In all the acquisition includes 21st Century Fox’s renowned film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation; Fox’s television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21; FX Networks; National Geographic Partners; Fox Networks Group International; Star India; and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

So what does this mean for film fans? Disney now not only already owns the rights to make the future Marvel films (including the Deadpool films, pledged to remain at their current R rating), and the Star Wars franchise. This means they now own Alien and Predator!

Yes you read that right!

Alien and Predator will now be Disney films, technically.

So, what does this actually mean will happen to the films? Will they become watered down shells of their former selves? Will more films be on the horizon?

Earlier this year Disney Chairman Bob Iger did inform the press that “They (Disney) plan on keeping Deadpool an RRated brand and plan to further include RRated film brands in their future product portfolio.”

Is this R-Rated portfolio set to include these two new acquisitions?

Fox’s movie studio is expected to be significantly downsized once the deal is the future and Disney seem already set to take over Fox’s two biggest film franchises, Avatar and the XMen.

Reports say they may plan to scale back production of costly movies that “don’t fit its family-friendly, franchise-focused formula”, people close to both companies have said.

Fox is under obligation to present themselves as though they will survive this acquisition regardless, according to Fox studio sources. This means continuing to make movies and develop new ideas with no certainty as to what Disney will decide to do with them once the deal is finalised.

Will Alien and Predator have a future with Disney? Only time will tell and the House of Tortured Souls will surely, like many horror fans, be keeping a firm eye on future developments.

 

 

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
An Aussie Abroad: A visitors guide to New Orleans infamous Marie Laveau’s.

An Aussie Abroad: A visitors guide to New Orleans infamous Marie Laveau’s.

As the title says “An Aussie Abroad: A visitors guide to New Orleans infamous Marie Laveau’s” but I  will be looking at the film and television history of the town itself.

During my recent month long stay in the U.S.A (I’m based in Australia but born in the U.K), I was fortunate that my fiancée and I were able to visit New Orleans, Louisiana.

I had heard of many aspects of New Orleans that were a film fan and horror hound and occult fans wet dream!

So naturally my first stop was to the incredibly popular voodoo store Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo, on Bourbon Street which is a popular place to drink, eat and see many musical acts.

Marie Laveau

At  Marie Laveau’s though it’s a more occult theme. The store is full on every inch of each wall, with voodoo charms and Knick knacks from Gris Gris and Mojo bags , for many desires in life, to three legged pig ornaments meant to wish the bearer luck.

Three legged pig for good luck

The House of Voodoo itself was established over 30 years ago, with the aim of “assisting in the spiritual guidance and magical needs of locals as well as visitors.” They have an array of dedicated and helpful staff who are willing to answer any and all questions you may ask and also serve as “psychic advisors”. The items they provide (for sale) are aimed at helping one through their path to find love, money, attraction, protection, and good luck.

Purchases from Marie Laveaus

It is also said that should you receive a blessing from Marie Laveau, that you must do something good for someone else. So remember to pay it forward.

New Orleans may help many find their spiritual centre, but as a town itself it is home to the production of 10 infamous, and award winning, films in cinematic history. These were A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Easy Rider (1969), Pretty Baby (1978), Steel Magnolias (1989), Sex Lies & Videotape (1989), JFK (1991), The Pelican Brief (1993), Interview With A Vampire (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), and Ray (2004).

Outside Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo (one of the store, one with my partner), Canal St, and shooting a film on Bourbon St

However many wonder about New Orleans iImpact with the specific genre of Horror.

Interview With A Vampire was a huge hit when released in 1994, based of Lousiana native author Anne Rices novel. Her other book (within her Vampire Chronicles series) Queen Of the Damned was also turned into a film starring Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend. Since then news of her series being further explored through the realm of television has arisen.

The notable television series American Horror Story also has some roots within New Orleans, featuring the town heavily in series 3 “Coven” and shooting scenes from series 4 “ Freakshow” (not Florida as it represents). Alongside HBO’s True Blood, which filmed its early series in Lousiana on location In towns such as Shreveport, Baton Rouge, Mansfield, Clinton and many more.

Also currently on television are horror themed shows like the Vampire Diaries spin off The Originals.

Its easy to pick out shooting locations but the French architecture around you once there and many primary locations are just a stones throw from the main roads , like the Boarding house in A.H.S Coven.

Feature horror films that have been shot on location in New Orleans and other Locations in Louisiana include Candyman 2: Farewell To The Flesh, The Skeleton Key, Hatchet, Solstice, The Final Destination (number 4 in the series), Cirque Du Freak: The Vampires Assistant, The Reaping, The Paperboy, And Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

There are many more and I implore you to visit this wonderfully creepy lovable state and explore its history both with the voodoo/hoodoo and films and television aspects.

Just be prepared to hear the cries of “LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER” (Let the good times roll) or “WHO DAT?” (The call of every patriotic New Orleans Saints fan) as you stroll through the streets.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in ART AND VENDORS, ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, Categories, FICTION AND POETRY, HORROR HISTORY, HORROR NEWS, PARANORMAL, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Examining WIHM Through the Ladies Of Horror Literature

Examining WIHM Through the Ladies Of Horror Literature

For this article I’m literally examining WIHM through the Ladies Of Horror Literature.

Yes literature, you read that right!

It is so often as fans that we focus our horror love on the films that are created and those that create them. We acknowledge the actors, filmmakers and fundamental crew. However, more than many realize, some of our favorite horror films are born from the amazingly well crafted written word.

Many of these superb dark tales came from the minds of many brilliant women and I’m going to focus on just a few. This will include Mary Shelley, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson, V.C Andrews, Susan Hill And Daphne Du Maurier.

First up I must start with the grandmother of horror literature herself, Mary Shelley. Shelley is most remembered for her movingly Gothic tale of morality known as Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein shocked people in its era when released back 0n New Years Day in 1818.

Mary Shelley

The story dived into the ethical dilemmas and left the reader exploring the gruesome topics of body snatching, the reanimating of a corpse created from pieces of several cadavers, and the age old debate of playing God.

It is dark, lengthy, harrowing and over the last 201 years it has inspired so many adaptations, including stage plays, since 1823. It has been both on the big screen (such as Universals 1931 Boris Karloff venture, to the Kenneth Branagh and Robert DeNiro’s 1994 memorable adaptation) and the small screen with shows such as The Frankenstein Chronicles, And Penny Dreadful (which features Victor Frankenstein as a character). It has also had loose adaptations of  memorability such as the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Young Frankenstein (a Mel Brooks parody film),and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.

Frankenstein

Like Shelley, Anne Rice is known for her main film adaptation of her most famous novel. This time round the tale was Interview With A Vampire, which is one book in a long running series of the Vampire Chronicles. Based in New Orleans, Rice has become an accomplished author and uses her city as a beautiful back drop for the saga of the Vampire Lestat. The longevity of Rices career focusing on writing about vampires to witches and much more from the darkest realms, has paved the way over the last four decades for the Vampire craze of the last decade in film and television.

Anne rice

Flying across the pond, British novelist Shirley Jackson is a name many won’t know for her brilliant novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but mention her classic spooky tale The Haunting Of Hill House and many are more familiar.  The Haunting Of Hill House has been adapted in various ways and several times as a film, focusing on the creepy happenings of Hill House and a party of people there to explore it. It’s lived on with horror fans since the 1963  film ( simply titled The Haunting like its 1999 remake) and has been an inspiration for both serious adaptations , such as a recent Netflix series to even farcical moments in films like Scary Movie 2.

Shirley Jackson

Like Rices Vampire Chronicles, When one mentions V.C Andrews no one can help but recall the twisted and macabre Dollanganger  family of her novel Flowers in the Attic and it’s subsequent novels that followed. Spanning 7 years the books focused on abuse, violence, incest and death and inspired 5 film adaptations over many years. Though the original ending of the 1987 adaptation varied from the novel, no one could dispute actress Louise Fletchers portrayal of the grandmother as one of the most vile villains in horror history. Fletcher herself has spoken time and again about consulting Andrews on the role, to deliver the best performance she could to the viewers and it showed.

V.c.andrews

 

Unlike Andrews English writer Susan Hill is best remembered for her 1983 story of The Woman in Black. Adapted for British Television as a film in 1989, this hauntingly eerie story of the macabre woman in black is sure to give anyone the creeps like it did to me when I watched it at the age of 8. It has since had a remake in 2012 starring Daniel Radcliffe (yes Harry Potter) for Hammer films. That remake has since had a rather foolish sequel that just didn’t work as well following it in 2015 called The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, that was prior made into a novelization in 2013. I implore fans to seek out the book rather than the sequels film. The Woman in Black has also been a successful stage play since 1987 and continues running at theatres globally to this day.

Susan Hill

Finally to round out our literally scream queens I present Daphne Du Maurier. Du Maurier is a name very well known with most horror fans for her popular works of story story fiction have been turned into screen gold time and time again by horror alumni such as Alfred Hitchcock – who adapted her stories Rebecca, Jamaica Inn,And  The Birds. She also had a very successful adaptation of her story Don’t Look Now (AKA Not After Midnight) by Filmmaker Nicholas Roeg. Though the film differs very slightly to the book, Du Maurier was happy with this 1973  adaptation starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland And any viewer watching it would easily be as immersed as they were in the book.

Daphne Du maurier

I hope this article helps some horror fans seek out more literature from the horror realm and explore the ladies behind the words of some of your favorite films. The written word is a dying art form and many could do well to examine where our filmmakers get their inspiration.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, Categories, FEATURED ARTISTS, FEATURED CONTENT, FICTION AND POETRY, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, VAMPIRES, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2016)

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2016)

All Through The House is the tale of a deranged masked Santa Slayer, that comes to town for some yuletide terror. This Santa leaves behind a bloody trail of mutilated bodies, as he hunts his way to the front steps of the town’s

All Through The house

most feared and notorious home. What is his connection to Rachel? What is her connection to the old Garrett house? From writer and director Todd Nunes comes this jolly festive fueled romp of Christmas crazed murder and mayhem. This was not Nunes’ first foray into deranged Santa slayings, having created the 13 minute short Here

All Through The house

Comes Santa in 2011- which actually evolved into, the feature length version of All Through The HouseFirst off I must point that this is a homage film, with an amazing use of scenes referencing some recognizable moments in horror films such as Psycho, Alone in the Dark and even The Slumber Party MassacreFor those who need to know, the kills are a pure gore hounds wettest dream and each murderous moment provides both the thrills, as well as some of the humourous bloodiness. Yes , you did read that correctly, I said humourous! This is a film that knows just when to make you laugh and when to create a little suspense. However it is easy to forget that this is a modern take, on the 80’s style horror romp, within the horror holiday happiness. The plot revolves around the return to town of Rachel Kimmel ( played by indie film darling Ashley Mary NunesTodd’s actress sister), who stays with her wheelchair-bound grandmother Abby (played by Cathy Garrett) and wants to spend time with

Melynda Kiring in all Through The House

her friends Gia (Natalie Montera) and Sarah (Danica Riner). However Rachel’s good nature is imposed upon by Mrs Garrett (played by Melynda Kiring) and the trio end up delaying their fun to help the lonely elderly neighbour decorate her home instead. As the girls die one by one and poor Rachel is left standing as our final girl, we begin to understand what is going on. This is because Todd Nunes cleverly provides us with small snippets of information along the way, to aid our ‘awakening’ for those final moments. Ashley Mary Nunes plays

All Through The House

Rachel with the correct degree of innocence and sweetness, for us to like her throughout the film and actually feel sorry for her. Even as her friends are killed, despite them being less kind and caring – which also reflects the effectiveness of Montera and Riner’s acting skills too. Kiring provides us with a visible evolution of the character of Mrs Garrett’s deterioration, that leaves us wowed! She was made for the role (which Nunes wrote with her in mind). All in all I am glad I got to view All Through The House . It is a very good film and deserves its place among other  festively frightening fun films on DVD and Blu-ray like Jack Frost; Santa’s Slay; Silent Night Deadly Night; Black Christmas and many more.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
Seasons Greetings with STALLED (2013)

Seasons Greetings with STALLED (2013)

STALLED is a British movie that was released in 2013. It is a Christmas focused zombie comedy, exploring on a serious zombie outbreak in an office building during their annual party. The plot is easy to follow “W.C is a discontent office manager, who decides to rob his boss during the office Christmas party. Sadly for W.C he becomes trapped in the ladies room stalls as a hoard of zombies plague the building! While trapped in the stalls he befriends a female in another stall and the two attempt to escape the zombie onslaught together.”

Stalled

I’ll start by discussing the one thing I didn’t get about this film. All it was is that STALLED does start with a rather unnecessary lesbian scene between two females.  Simply it didn’t add any value to the story line, but it wasn’t offensive or anything either. I just found it rather unnecessary. W.C is played by Dan Palmer. Palmer actually wrote

Dan Palmer in Stalled

the screenplay himself. So I know that the feeling of him being able to connect with his character was evident because he portrayed W.C based on how he wrote the character himself. The concept is good! Similar to films like Phonebooth (with Colin Farrell), or even Devil (with Logan Marshall- Green), it is set ultimately in ONE location throughout. This doesn’t slow the film down, nor does it restrict the evolution of the plot. In fact it creates some unique experiences, to be seen on-screen. Our pragmatist is caught in the stalls throughout the majority of the film. As he is bumbling and fumbling his way to safety, we see him repeatedly fail and his faith diminish. It’s not for his lack of attempts of course, but the various

Stalled

obstacles he faces – primarily the zombies. W.C may be a criminal, but through the film we develop compassion for him. He often sticks his proverbial foot in his mouth and is actually very apologetic. We see a sweet side to him, as well as the misled cad he’s become. STALLED

Stalled

really does just follow a simple plot formula. There is basic makeup use, everyday costumes, one primary set. However it is still ultimately a most enjoyable film. In fact some of the make up jobs made me think of the original Night of the Living Dead, which made it somewhat nostalgic. I think it’s the simplicity that one can enjoy most. It doesn’t exceed your ideas of how it will unfold. It’s an independent films and it doesn’t maquerade as a bigger budget films. Palmers writing compliments Christian James’ smooth direction perfectly. The duo pace the action well enough to remind us of the great danger on-screen, and yet add in little emotional moments sweetly. There’s a few zesty one liners, some really good kills and a  well-rounded performance from our lead actor. So this film is easy to like, I honestly can’t hate on it.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
Merry “AXEMAS” To All

Merry “AXEMAS” To All

This feisty little 2017 short Christmas themed horror film AxeMas, packs a fair bit of fight within its mere twenty five minutes. Featuring (of course) an axe wielding psychopathic Santa Claus, and three foolish couples who decide

Axemas

to spend some time in a secured Storage facility, this film rolls nicely to fill each inch of time with more and more oomph! Featuring a cast of Ashley Campbell, John E Seymour, Dillon Weishuhn, Lindsey Cruz, Nathan Scott, Kamiko Kawada, Michael Anthony

Axemas

O’Brien, Tommy Sihavong, Miranda Dudley and John Ward (yes that is the entire cast), they all work amazingly together to create some festive horror hijinks, that will amuse any horror fan. The effects and gore produced on this tiny budget is admirable and enjoyable on screen. From impaling a happily oblivious couple, to a full on decapitation. The use of simple but effective classic special effects techniques, makes for an impressive viewing. The actors are easy to watch. John Ward wrote this

Axemas 2 poster

screenplay and he directs his actors so well, it is very fluid and natural. It is easy to convince oneself that these foolish fun seekers are no different to any you would meet on the street. Ward is known currently for AxeMas (now included in Festering Frank’s Frames of Fear 2), as well as his upcoming film production Meathook Massacre 4. Being that this is a very short film, doesn’t hinder the storyline either. In fact it aids in the plot not becoming stale or repetitive. It also enables the viewer to not lose interest. AxeMas already has a sequel called AxeMas 2: Blood Slay ( a second short set a year after the events of AxeMas, featuring the surviving cast member from the original short). I know I am keen to see where this will continue on from the original short.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Examining Sean Donohue’s Cannibal Claus (2016)

Examining Sean Donohue’s Cannibal Claus (2016)

As part of our celebration of Christmas for the House of Tortured Souls I will be examining Cannibal Claus, a piece of seasonal fun that is everything the synopsis says and more! Basically Santa is a little bored this year and needs to get his “Jolly’s” . He’s looking for some fun , murderous escapades and a few “Ho Ho Ho’s” along the way.

Bob Glazier

Firstly I feel a desperate need to say that this Christmas film is DEFINITELY not for the kiddies (or any prudeseither). Instead it is a literal 65 minute descent into sexually fuelled homicidal madness, with that sparkle of the holiday season. It is just the perfect fit for viewing, by any horror fan with a love for pure cheesy goodness. Early on we are introduced to our perverted but insatiable Nick Cringle and his

Krystal Pixie Adams, Bob Glazier, And Stephanie Jensen

escapades. He breaks into homes ,kills people, dismembers and eats them. In one particular scene Cringle (played by Indie horror gem Bob Glazier) proclaims “I think it’s time for some head”, before he then proceeds to face fuck the dismembered head of one particular blonde bimbo! Yes as the body parts begin to fly, viewers can see the amazing prosthetics and gore on screen . And it is such a thrill to watch. Even on it’s meager $1200 budget this blending of gore ,cheesy gags and of course sex sex sex is pure genius. From a drug dealer snorting cocaine off a girls ass, to women in barely anything I honestly didn’t find it at all sexist . Please remember it’s all just in good christmassy fun . Akin to Bruce Willis uttering “Yipee ki Yay motherfucker” in Die Hard, I felt myself lighten up and have a laugh throughout Cannibal Claus. Especially when Cringle said “Ho ho ho motherfucker!” Bob Glazier is a devious delight as our Nick Cringle, and is joined by an ensemble of actors and actresses . These are indie stars who clearly enjoy the Sleaze Box filmmaking world (like the sci fi film makers Asylum casts ). Glazier himself goes all

Mady Giovannelli And Lucia Giovannelli

out (quite literally in one scene) to impress us as the homicidal, people eating, holiday favourite. Glazier has two sexy elves in tow, played saucily by Krystal Pixie Adams and Stephanie Jensen We also meet Nick’s character as a child, played by the adorable Lucio Giovannelli. And even his parents are being played by his actual real life parents Mady Giovannelli and Alberto Giovannelli. All three portray the family very genuinely through a series of shots, involving our murderous Santa’s upbringing. This makes the movie Bad Santa look tame and is definitely going to be a new addition to my beloved laughs during the silly season . This Santa surely is dreaming of a “white christmas” and with the films tagline “You’re only as good as you taste”, I doubt you cannot laugh as hard as I did watching some scenes. Florida based Writer/ Director Sean Donohue is known for his work on films like Death Scort, Death Scort 2, Die Die Delta Pi and various shorts.With Cannibal Claus he creates the perfect addition for the holiday season, to be enjoyed by fans of the independent horror world. This was my introduction to the wild world of Sleaze Box. And I found it to be a combination of repulsion and hilarity ( I kid you not I was wheezing, due to the fact I was laughing so hard!!) and now I must check out more in the future.

 

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 1 comment
Remebering Kristin Marie Kology At Spooky Empire

Remebering Kristin Marie Kology At Spooky Empire

    Stickers available at Spooky Empire

Kristin Marie Kology was a wonderful woman, who’s life was tragically cut short on Wednesday May 30th, 2018.  At 4:13pm that day, Kristin drew her last breath and departed this world. She knew she was loved and adored by all who knew her. She was in the presence

Kristin Marie Kology And William Forsythe

of those nearest and dearest to her.  Finally, she was at peace.  Kristin was a pillar of the horror community. Many knew her devotion to independent filmmakers. She had a passion for promoting independent filmmaking, that would be screening at festivals each year. For some time Kristin was often be seen at conventions and gigs, making new friends, and being the amazingly beautiful soul that everyone gravitated towards. Kristin was diagnosed with stage four Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma in   May,2017. Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma affects only one in a million, and is a rare and aggressive form of cancer. It has very little treatment

Kristin Marie Kology

and affects mainly people under the age of five years old, or between the ages of thirty and forty years old. The survival rate for most with Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma extremely low, with a very dismal survival rate being for approximately five years. When diagnosed Kristin had a 16cm tumor on her adrenal gland, as well as a 6cm tumor on her liver and small nodules on her lungs. Despite the gruelling treatments she faced, Kristin was always in good spirits. She was a devoted friend and always available to those who loved her Violence And even a traumatic

brain injury. None of this however dimmed her drive to always help

Kristin Marie Kology with her Mother Susan Milam and stepfather George Milam

others. Kristin even became an advocate against domestic violence, offering support to any others who survived it. This weekend Kristin’s life will be celebrated and people will be given an opportunity to help fund research for Adrenal Cancer.  At SPOOKY EMPIRE in Orlando,Florida, this weekend Susan Milam (Kristin’s mother) and others, will be there to celebrate Kristin’s life. They will have their own stall, to raise much needed funds to help research more medical solutions to help sufferers diagnosed with Adrenal Cancer.  The stall will include donated items for sale, from  Kristin’s friends and those she even herself helped. It will include movie posters and dvds provided by a film producer, artworks from a Seattle artist, and specially designed bat stickers (pictured) in memory of Kristin and her fight.  If you are there from this weekend from October 26th until 28th, please drop in and

Kristin Marie Kology And William Forsythe

support this worthy cause and an amazing woman who was such an inspiration in our horror community. If you cannot make the event you can also donate in two ways.  Either online via :For Donations. Please click here  Or by sending donations to (address them to Michigan Medicine- in memory of Kristin Marie Kology).  

Michigan Medicine Office Of Development,

1000 Oak  Suite 100,

Ann Arbor,

MICHIGAN,

48104.

 

 

 

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, 0 comments
Exploring “The Empty House”

Exploring “The Empty House”

 

 
The Empty House is a 2018 short film, which runs for approximately 14 minutes.
Released by writer/Director/producer duo Jeremy Waltman and Adam Lucas, this short film explores a dark thriller theme within its limited duration.
 
Waltman and Lucas have produced several short films together. This includes 2015’s 71 minute Comedy film It Plays Like Love, and 2013’s 77minute Dramatic film Locomotive.
Both films are available on Amazon and through Vimeo on Demand.
 
The Empty House has officially been selected to screen its premiere, during the MORBIDO FILM FEST in Mexico City, Mexico.
The festival runs from Wednesday October 31st until Saturday November 10th.
This short film stars Joseph Culp (known for his roles in 1994’s Fantastic Four as Dr Doom, and a reoccurring role as Archie Whitman on TVs Mad Men)as Charles. Rya Kihlstedt (who has appeared on TV in Heroes Reborn  and Dexter) appears as Marie. Alison Gregory (a fresh faced actress who’s previously appeared in Two Guys) is Julie. And Tom Walker (From Netflix’s Daredevil and Henry Danger)is Alexander.
The premise is simple.
In the town of Blairsville sits the empty house. Julie has just arrived for a big money job before her baby is born. However all is not right with the couple who have called her there.
At first we see a man (Culp as Charles) sitting upright on a bed. He is seemingly anguished, as a melodic violin pierces the silence.
We see the houses simplistic facade and the film’s title. It feels foreboding and ominous.
A woman (Gregory as Julie)is being driven elsewhere, by a chauffeur, towards the house by another man (Walker as Alexander).
Julie is clearly distracted.
We see her talking to Charles and then see flashes of memories, of her taking a pregnancy test earlier on.
As the film slowly rolls we discover that Julie has been called to the empty house. Charles and his lush of a wife Marie, wish for her to redecorate their home for them.
Charles is abrupt, cold, unsympathetic and shadows Julie in their scenes.
Culp delivers a powerful performance of a sinister and darkened soul, with a motive that is unnerving.
As Julie meets Marie unexpected, we get the feeling that Marie (Kihlstedt) isn’t at all happy with what’s to come. Or even her husband himself.
Kihlstedt gives one hell of a staggeringly impressive take on the seemingly drunken and disheartened wife. We feel like she is constricted, by her own choices.
Gregory plays Julie as fragile.
She’s not weak, but in some scenes clearly rattled.
We see Julie’s confidence dwindle, as the short plays out and her demise is harrowing.
This shows Gregory’s ability to bring her natural performance to the forefront, amongst so much well placed chaos.
Walker plays the Chauffeur Alexander.
Alexander is clearly a nervous and unwilling participant in the ploy of Charles and Marie. Yet he follows through delivering Julie unsuspectingly to them and fails to aid her later on. He isn’t cold like his bosses though. At moments we see tinges of regret and disgust. This creates a more human outlook, on Alexander’s own part in the whole thing.
As the short evolves our main players are depicting a tangled and depraved story of murderous mayhem. It is very intriguing.
The narrative is well considered, and is a clear demonstration of the talent between Waltman and Lucas as a team.
It is clear to see why The Empty House has been officially selected, for the MORBIDO FILM FESTIVAL. Waltman and Lucas have created some interesting characters, who each bring a different perspective on a dark situation for the viewer to enjoy.
I am sure festival goers will enjoy this short, as much as I did.
The trailer for The Empty House
https://vimeo.com/246686353

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in ADVERTISERS, 0 comments
MIDI’S COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN 2018

MIDI’S COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN 2018

Each year I Countdown to Halloween and explore 31 Horror films that examine a variety of sub genres. I combine films both new and old. I explore the mainstream and indie. And I select from purely the good, bad and ugly (yes there are some truly awful films available to fans for laughs).

This year  I will be explaining each film for the House of Tortured Souls as I countdown to Halloween. Be warned that some of the small pieces on each film, are based on a sub genre and may in fact provide a spoiler or two.
OCTOBER 1
First sub genre I had set myself is to find a film with a Child Vampire. I chose  30 Days of Night  which has a scene involving a young girl vampire, in a pack that has over run the town of Barrow, Alaska.  Obvious other choices were Interview With A Vampire and Near Dark.
OCTOBER 2
On day two I was exploring films with people who could be considered Freaks so this time I selected The Abominable Dr Phibes
starring Vincent Price, as a mutant mourning his beloved.
Although Freaks by Tod Browning is my fave film in this vein, Phibes was the first horror film I saw when I was 3. It will forever be imbedded in my memory.
OCTOBER 3
Taking it to another level on day three, I wanted to find a film involving the strangest or most unique Horror Parents . This led me to select  It’s Alive (movie)for obvious reasons . Let’s face it , that kid had a face only a mother could love! A mutated baby literally is born and goes on the run leaving a wake of murderous terror. Not only is this film awesome fun, it also spawned 2 sequels and a remake!!
OCTOBER 4
I investigated the infamous adoration for films with that ultimate Twist Ending, selecting the Summer Camp Classic Sleepaway Camp
This of course was one of many options but discovering what is “wrong with Angela” is always great. Other possibilities are films like The Perfect Getaway (in which the twist is revealed midway through the film, yet doesn’t ruin the pace). Also included could be The Sixth Sense, And Switchblade Romance (aka Haute Tension).
OCTOBER 5

For my selective viewing for an impressive Indie horror film was Phil Stevens Flowers.The film is silent. It has such

Hereditary

strong visual imagery and features the demise of a group of beautiful women (the flowers themselves). Stevens is currently in production on Flowers 2.

OCTOBER 6
Was the sub genre of crime as told through the True Story narrative, I chose the film Dear Mr. Gacy. This film is inspired by the Jason Moss’ book The Last Victim. Moss discusses a relationship he created with the serial killer as he studied him in college. It is also sad to know that Moss was so affected, by the stranglehold Gacy ended up having on his life.  His psyche was fractured and in 2006 Moss committed suicide. I highly recommend the book as well as this film. It proves the power of those with such depraved impulses as Gacy.
OCTOBER 7
I was was trying to avoid the usually popular picks for the sub genre of Sea Creatures. I wanted to avoid The Deep, Jaws and Orca. Instead I landed on the highly memorable and classic Universal icon the Creature from the Black Lagoon
OCTOBER 8
A simple sub genre in which of course A LOT of possibilities popped up, to view limbs replaced with weapons. For me this is a film I enjoy, in its true GrindHouse style. It has a strong female lead, that pulled me in. With the teaming of Tarantino and Rodriguez , I had to go with the machine gun leg of Rose McGowan in Planet Terror
OCTOBER 9

The selection as a huge foreign film fan was tricky, and I had to find one Asian Horror film. In the past I have enjoyed the likes of Ringu, JuOn, Phone, The Red Shoes, One Missed Call and Shutter. However I felt a revisit to the

Train To Busan

surprise runaway Zombie hit  Train To Busan was a good idea- and having only seen it once upon release, I wanted to see if it still was as enjoyable (which it is).

OCTOBER 10
This day was Lloyd Kaufman’s empire known affectionately as Troma films, I had to try and find one that I loved to watch as my choice from their stock. This was easy as I love the campy cheesy quality of a good Troma film , from Poultrygeist to Tromeo and Juliet. I decided on One of Troma’s most lucrative franchises with the lovable film  The Toxic Avenger
OCTOBER 11
I realised some franchises have MORE than their fair share. From Nightmare on Elm St (9 films), Friday the 13th (12 films) , or even Halloween ( 11 films) many sequels were imaginable, but for me my taste was drawn to the Children of the Corn Franchise (which has 10 films with the release of Runaway in recent months). Out of those sequels (and a remake) I chose Children of the Corn 666: Issac’s Return, because it is the first film after the original to reintroduce Isaac – one of the horror film worlds most messed up child preachers in history.
OCTOBER 12
For European horror my mind raced straight to  Mörderische Ferien (aka Flashback:A Murderous Vacation), a quirky German teen horror film, that featured campy gags, a psycho on the loose, bumbling cops and some fun kills. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a diamond in the rough and I liken it’s cheekiness to the original Scream film by Wes Craven.
OCTOBER 13
I was tasked with finding a horror movie starring Robert England, but It had to be anything but his role as Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films. With options like 2001 Maniacs and Urban Legends available I recalled The Mangler and viewed that. A film based on a short story from Stephen Kings  collection, that has since inspired two sequels.
OCTOBER 14
Horror Creatures dominated the day, so I thought long and hard about all sorts and settled on  Zombeavers. A simple comical romp with manic beavers at a lake side cabin, and a group of foolish college kids.
OCTOBER 15

Pinnochios Revenge

I decided on a film for my ghostly theme, with a classic spooky story featuring George.C.Scott called The Changeling .

This was my favourite pick for the ghastly ghost genre and although I enjoy films like the original version of The Haunting, Rose Red an others with various paranormal entities, The Changeling is an atmospheric joy to rewatch.
OCTOBER 16
An obvious choice for day 16’s infamous horror hotel themed entry , was to go with the mother loving Norman Bates insanity of Alfred Hitchcock’s PsychoPsycho epitomizes the horror hotel themes, with the “mother” of all memorable moments, but I will give shout outs to other possibilities such as Horror Hotel, Motel Hell, And Room 1408 ( which has actually been picked for another sub genre day in this challenge).
OCTOBER 17
Re examining the Psychotic Hitchhiker sub genre for day 17, I decided against the classic Hitchhiker films or even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and went with a modern Ozploitation thriller called Gone (aka Middle of Nowhere). The film starred Scott Mechlowicz , Amelia Warner and Shaun Evans and followed an American and two British tourists backpacking in Australia with deadly consequences.
OCTOBER 18
The 18th choice calls for me to watch  a 2017 Film and I thought this was a perfect chance for me to re explore one that had a dismal run cinematically upon its release. I found it to be an entertaining and seemingly good film, but The Dark Tower  was a far cry from the nature of the original source material developed over many books by Stephen King.
OCTOBER 19
My 19th watch is a film released in 2018, so I thought I would take this opportunity to return to Hereditary. Originally when I saw this film it was such a slow build intro I lost interest and was unable to finish it so I hope as I do so I will complete it today.
OCTOBER 20
I will turn to Horror with a number in the title. With many options open to me I looked at 2001 Maniacs, Germany’s 666: In Bed With The Devil And found Stephen Kings Room 1408. An interesting and twisted story of a hotel room from Hell, this is a great little film with a strong cast.
OCTOBER 21
I needed  a film with a strong female killer. I will be avoiding  Switchblade Romance, Mothers Day, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Fatal Attraction. Instead I feel that Guillermo Del Toros psychotic sister in his film Crimson Peak was a great choice – and I am a huge fan of this film and it’s themes throughout.
OCTOBER 22
The 22nd for me is the most fun sub genre and one of the lesser appreciated, Disney Horror! Yes these films actually were made , exist and are awesome fun to horror fans. You can go for the slightly thrilling or the fun and goofy kids fodder. I went with the latter . My favourite Disney Horror is actually Something Wicked This Way Comes, that starred  freakishly awesome Johnathan Pryce in the role as Mr Dark. However I wanted a calmer, shorter film for my viewing and went with Richard Masur (best known as Adult Stanley Uris in the 1990 IT miniseries) in the film Mr Boogedy. It also has a sequel ,as they were hugely popular films during my childhood.
OCTOBER 23
Joyfully I found my 23rd film choice at this years Sydney Film Festival, when I attended a screening for the Supernatural New Zealand film The Changeover. With a young fresh cast and some more familiar faces (Timothy Spall and Melanie Lynskey), it is a strange and yet engaging story of a girl coming into her powers and using them to save her family from an evil force.
OCTOBER 24
I attended the premiere screening of my 24th film in Sydney at MonsterFests Travelling Sideshow. And it was such a powerfully musical film I had to use it for Best Soundtrack. The Strangers 2: Prey At Night didn’t have to try too hard to impress, with the delightful antics of our insane trio on screen being played out to 80s hits with gusto!
OCTOBER 25
On the 25th I will avoid the predictability of Dolls, Chucky, Annabelle , Puppetmaster or Demonic Toys for the Doll/toy Horror film. Instead I am returning to view an oldie that I have enjoyed before, called The Pinocchio Syndrome (aka Pinnochios Revenge). It’s about an evil Pinocchio puppet that once you cut his strings becomes a killer.
OCTOBER 26
My usual pick for the Worst Horror film for day 26 is abysmal
Dracula 3000 ,and if you have seen it you’d understand. This year I thought I would go with one, that I often refer to as the BEST film for drinking games. It is called Grim Weekend (aka S.I.C.K). Grim Weekend and follows a hopeless bunch, who venture off on a mini break and are beseeched by a psychotic clown. Sounds fun right? Sadly this film has a score that is cheesy, effects that are lame and a cast so utterly annoying it is only good for games. Have the shots ready and let’s play.
OCTOBER 27
On the 27th I will inspect the aspect of Horror Tv Episodes with We All Scream for Ice Cream (Masters of Horror episode). It is an impresssive part of a large collection done by talented directors. This anthology series has some intriguing storyline’s and very colourful characters.
OCTOBER 28
For the 28th I needed to focus on choosing a film that had Great Poster Art. I couldn’t ignore the awesome screaming, burning human on the cover of David Croenenbergs 1981 supernatural horror film Scanners. Any artistic eye can see the beauty in that image, as much as any other.
OCTOBER 29
My least enjoyed sub genre is the Found Footage one. So on the 29th having to pick one from the few I enjoy was taxing. Being able to sift through some good ones I like, such as Afflicted and Cannibal Holocaust, I remembered the immensely impressive  The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
OCTOBER 30
Being the youngest of three children obviously for horror siblings, my immediate thought was my brothers (just kidding and yes they know I love them dearly). No instead I selected the classic black and white film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? starring feuding actresses (and on screen sisters) Bette Davis And Joan Crawford.
OCTOBER 31
To round out my viewing pleasure this month, I will end on a more jovial note with a horror musical. I put aside my usual fun choices of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment, Repo: A Genetic Opera or even Little Shop Of Horrors. Instead I opted for 2014’s Stage Fright.
I always encourage others to explore a variety of films when embarking on creating a watchlist. Watch as much of the things you don’t get to. Watch new films. Watch old films. Watch films from various parts of the world. And always include the good,the bad and the ugly.
And have a Happy Halloween!
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in Categories, EDITORIALS, HALLOWEEN, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
RETRO REVIEW: Slugs (1988)

RETRO REVIEW: Slugs (1988)

Enter the nightmare-fueled world of the 1988 Spanish American film Slugs (aka La Muerte Viscosa), directed by Juan Piquer Simón.

Wrong Mike Brady in Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

No. Not THAT Mike Brady.

Slugs is a film about people who are dying mysteriously and gruesomely, and nobody has a clue what the cause is. Only health worker Mike Brady has a possible solution, but his theory of killer slugs is laughed at by the authorities. Only when the body count begins to rise and a slug expert from England begins snooping around, does it begin to look like Mike had the right idea all along!

First things first! I was left calling out ‘Poor Mike’ at my screen as no one wanted to believe him, despite the mountain of evidence.

We are introduced to a simple small town and a series of disastrous deaths – let’s just say in one particular scene the householder is demonstrating an ‘explosive’ personality. We meet our large slimy villains who bite.

Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.It was after the first death I wondered why no one considered throwing salt on that slug bastard and just being done with it?? Yet these SAVAGE beasts (yes I am using savage jokingly, as the slugs are not at all menacing) avoid an easy eradication. An ingested slug provides some tense “will he or won’t he” moments and some hilarious results, including a dissolving face (which authorities claim is some form of food poisoning – Hmmmm guess we better not eat there again??). It is probably one of the highlights of the film in a combination of “WOW” and “EEEWWW” .

There is no shortness of scantily clad people, sexually charged moments, or comedic love scenes, but they are often halted by the slugs. In fact, the whole film is a hilarious romp of insane proportions and has some of the daftest, most dated dialogue.

Slugs (1988) / Fair use doctrine.Don Palmer is Mike’s only hope for spreading the word on this plague of slugs. This is a much better choice than our ‘English expert’.

The acting in this film is just so awful to watch, but the hilarity of the deaths and the storyline itself kept me watching. I won’t bother naming the actors as that really won’t entice you into wanting to watch it, but I will say it is fun enough.

I will also add however one star really did shine. The most talented member of the cast that displayed the most talent was of course …..the slugs!!!! So, well done, our slimy friends the slugs!

This film will ultimately leave you feeling SLUGGISH (sorry I had to get one bad pun in there) but is actually a really fun watch, despite the cheese factor.

A must-see for any fan of horror, at least once.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, NATURE STRIKES BACK, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Chris Sun’s ED (2016)

BOOK REVIEW: Chris Sun’s ED (2016)

Exploring the novel ED
by Chris Sun

Chris Sun is known for his work in Australia as one of the leading local filmmakers. His films reach as many fans in the independent horror circuit worldwide, as those of the likes of popular Australian filmmaker Greg McLeanChris has created various independent films and is known for his hit Charlie’s Farm (2014), Daddy’s Little Girl(2015), and the upcoming November 23rd release at Melbourne’s Monster Fest, front-runner BOAR (2017). ED marks Chris’ debut novel and is available for purchase directly from Slaughter FX, along with Chris’ films.
Charlie's Farm (2014) / Fair use doctrine.Daddy's Little Girl (2012) / Fair use doctrine.Boar (2017) / Fair use doctrine.

This is my first review of a horror novel, but once I finally began to read Chris Sun’s ED, I was immediately immersed in the seedy strip club, creative body horror, and sexualized world of Sun’s forward-talking serial killer lead.

In ED, we meet Larry Penklesten, a cocky, self-assured, and handsome car salesman with an incredibly dark and secret world of his own. When Larry isn’t out getting quite literally fucked (or fucking someone) royal, he’s trolling for his next victim. That is because Larry thinks the ghost of the Butcher of Plainfield himself, Ed Gein, visits him and mentors him through his murderous blood lust. Larry has (as described feverishly) a really big cock, that is able to magically pleasure any woman willing to ride it!

The language and atmosphere Sun carves out in those sexual scenes, are enough to make a girl’s thighs sweat with desire. Each sexual encounter is written so vividly that every thrust and gasp of orgasmic pleasure is palpable. The scene between Larry and Evie in a strip club bathroom is imprinted in my mind days after finishing the novel (pages 245-249 for anyone interested). Larry is also great at his job, which creates a desirability within his work place with both males and females on varied levels.

Ed (2016) / Fair use doctrine.We know that Larry loves the ladies, but ultimately Larry loves to fuck and kill so much more. His differing styles and attitudes toward each victim he mutilates made me recoil in both shock and awe. Throughout the novel, Larry kills a series of prostitutes and strippers, or people looking for gay or even group sex in online forums. He selects his victims carefully either online or in person at strip clubs, bars or on the street, and he likes to murder and dismember his victims.

Sun’s careful use of language creates a vivid picture of Larry’s playful rearranging of the bodies as he intriguingly turns humans into various items of furniture. The descriptive prose and first-person narrative Sun employs — through Larry’s eyes — helped me to feel in tune with Larry’s behavior. The reader is immersed in the scene and assaulted by the sights, smells, and visuals of the world that Sun creates, and we are lost within it all.

The reader feels each knife stab, each stitch threaded, each bone crunch; in a dramatic flair, many horror readers are accustomed to when reading books by the largely published writers.

I loved how Sun investigated Larry’s mental instability through his urges.

The scenes with his victims’ ghosts all verbally abusing him in his car was another of the more memorable for me (very An American Werewolf in London) and his interactions with Ed’s ‘ghost’ are just at times hilarious.

The novel’s climax is told through two stories. I will try not go into too much detail to avoid spoiling the read for anyone who purchases ED. as all HoTAs fans know, I am not a fan of spoilers.

Ed (2016) / Fair use doctrine.The first story twists theperspective we have followed all along, switching the core narrative in a strange fashion and varying the events we have witnessed unfolding thus far. This is a technique I have seen before, and although somewhat confusing at first, it became an interesting moment in the book.

The second follows on from the twisted core narrative and draws us back into the original concepts, making us feel Larry’s harrowing anxiety and panic as a wave of confusion floods him. It takes a moment to find itself again, but once it plants its feet firmly in the ground, we are left with many questions regarding a possibility of a continuation to ED.

The open-ended finale was a great turn of events, and I happily await a possible second book…..or will ED become the next written version of an icon like Jason Voorhees, Hannibal Lector, or Victor Crowley? Or even Chris Sun’s next cinematic adventure?

If you enjoy a very Norman Bates-meets-Patrick Bateman style of story, I think ED is a must have for your bookshelf.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
An Introduction to Sam Hel and the World Of Cat 4 Collective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Sam Hel

Mercedes as Emily

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
What’s HoTs in Mainstream Horror?

What’s HoTs in Mainstream Horror?

This year has seen many exciting releases cinematically and on DVD / Bluray for horror fans, from the thrilling John Krasinski film A Quiet Place to the latest addition to the Children of the Corn franchise Runaway.

As usual, the genre is so varied and in the coming months, 2018 is set to provide us with even more variety to enjoy on both the big and small screen.

Here’s a sample of what’s to come.

Coming to Cinemas

Mainstream Horror: Slender Man (2018)Cinematically we begin with the release of the long-awaited film Slender Man, On August 24th. Based on the 2011 myth created as part of a competition, the film supposedly investigates that and the resulting case where two 12-year-old girls attempted to murder their friend in the woods, claiming it was because of Slender Man in 2014.
Mainstream Horror: The Little Stranger (2018)The next release will be The Little Stranger, which will hit cinemas on August 31st. Starring Domhall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, and Charlotte Rampling, this release focuses on a ghost story and is being described as a stylistic thriller set in a big British country house.
Mainstream Horror: The Predator (2018)Many fans will be excited on September 14th, when The Predator is finally released. This newest installment of the franchise is co-written and directed by Shane Black (who actually played Hawkins in the original Predator film back in 1987) and will feature the Predator within suburbia.
Mainstream Horror: Mandy (2018)On September 14th the film Mandy will hit the big screen. Panos Cosmatos directs this film set in 1983 in the wilderness. The film stars Nic Cage and focuses on a supernatural revenge drama, sinister cultists, and demons on motorbikes.
Mainstream Horror: The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)The House With A Clock In Its Walls will arrive on September 21st. It is about a 10-year-old boy who awakens the dead, a sleepy town becomes filled with all kinds of interesting and dark creatures. This is Directed by Eli Roth and stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, and Kyle McLachlan.
Mainstream Horror: Halloween (2018)October wouldn’t be perfect without the release of the long-awaited return of John Carpenter with his beloved Halloween on October 17th. Following the original release (as a direct sequel), we will pick up 40 years later, with Laurie yet again having a face-off with Michael.
Mainstream Horror: Suspiria (2018)On November 2nd we will see the controversial release, of the long-awaited American remake of Dario Argento’s classic film Suspiria. The film focuses on the darkness that envelopes a dance troupe, focusing on an ambitious young dancer and a grieving psychotherapist. Will fans embrace this remake? Only time will tell.

Coming to DVD and Blu-ray
As for the big DVD and Blu-ray releases coming in the remainder of the year, most will help fans revisit some of the biggest releases of this year so far.

Mainstream Horror: Boar (2017)On August 15th, Australian filmmaker Chris Sun’s Boar is released on DVD and Blu-ray and on demand. For preorders, you can head to Sun’s website for Slaughter FX and secure a copy early. The film is centered on a large boar terrorizing a family and members of a small outback community. It stars Bill Moseley, Nathan Jones, and John Jarratt.
Mainstream Horror: Cargo (2017)On September 5th Cargo will be released.  Cargo features Martin Freeman in this story about the aftermath of a pandemic and one desperate infected father’s struggle to find his infant child and protect her, even from him.
Mainstream Horror: Hereditary (2018)Two weeks later on September 19th, fans will be able to get their own copy of the film Hereditary in stores. It stars Toni Collette in a chilling film about a mother dealing with grief while trying to understand her daughter’s strange behavior. With a mixed reaction at the box office, will fans flock to buy their copy?
Mainstream Horror: Mary Shelley (2017)And finally, on November 14th, we will get the Mary Shelley DVD and Blu-ray release. Starring Elle Fanning, this is a retelling of the story of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley that did quite well at the screenings it had in April and May at various film festivals.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, 0 comments
What’s Hot on the Indie and Straight to DVD/VOD Scene?

What’s Hot on the Indie and Straight to DVD/VOD Scene?

Here’s a quick look at what’s hot in the Indie horror and more lesser known horror scene in the coming months, as it is set to erupt with DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD releases for fans.

American Guinea Pig: The Song of Solomon (2018)On August 7th we have already seen the releases of films like the dramatic horror film MARROWBONE with Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), a Bluray release of Dante Tomescelli’s 1999 film DESECRATION, the dramatic fantasy thriller WILDING (starring Liv Tyler), FLORA a thrilling sci-fi film about the discovery of a deadly bacteria, Canada’s own occultist gem PYEWACKET (starring The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden), a film called DEADSHACK (starring Lauren Holly), and the creepy looking GEHENNA: WHERE DEATH LIVES (featuring both Doug Jones and Lance Henriksen). Finally, yesterday we got the long-anticipated new piece of Stephen Biro’s series of horror films – AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: THE SONG OF SOLOMON – starring the likes of horror alumni such as Jessica Cameron and Jim Van Bebber.

HERE’S A LIST OF WHATS TO COME BY THE NEW YEAR:

AUGUST 14th

What Still Remains (2018) / Fair use doctrine.WHAT STILL REMAINS ― This dramatic thriller stars Mimi Rogers and Colin O’Donoghue as two people who face a world struck with an epidemic that has ravaged their lives and those they love.

AUGUST 17th

Summer of 84 (2018) / Fair use doctrine.POOL PARTY MASSACRE ― a comedic horror romp about a slasher loose in a swimming complex slicing up socialites.

AUGUST 24th

Summer of 84 (2018) / Fair use doctrine.SUMMER OF 84 ― the story of a teenager who begins to suspect his neighbor (a local cop) is a serial killer. He enlists the help of his pals and the game becomes all the more deadly.

AUGUST 28th

Upgrade (2018) / Fair use doctrine.UPGRADE ― a new sci-fi revenge thriller offering from Horror writer /director Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence), and starring Logan Marshall-Green.

AUGUST 31st

Boarding School (2018) / Fair use doctrine.BOARDING SCHOOL ― a horror film set in a boarding school revolving around a strange boy and the mysterious headmaster and his wife.
Blood Fest (2018) / Fair use doctrine.BLOOD FEST ― a horror comedy about a diabolical rock show where attendees start dying and featuring Tate Donovan and Zachary Levi.

SEPTEMBER 28th

Hell Fest (2018) / Fair use doctrine.HELL FEST ― a horror-themed amusement park becomes a serial killer’s joyous hunting grounds one night, featuring iconic horror actor Tony Todd.

OCTOBER 9th

Welcome to Hell (2017) / Fair use doctrine.WELCOME TO HELL ― an anthology horror film about a terrifying coven of tales featuring Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and Bill Oberst Jr (the amazing Papa Corn from Circus of the Dead).

OCTOBER 23rd

Trauma (2017) / Fair use doctrine.TRAUMALucio A. Rojas writes and directs this action horror film about four Chilean friends who are attacked brutally by a father and son duo. The foursome decides to confront their attackers, only to discover their attackers are part of the darkest period in Chilean history.

OCTOBER 26th

Overlord (2018) / Fair use doctrine.OVERLORD ― rumored to be a possible piece of the Cloverfield film saga, this movie focuses on two American soldiers on D-Day behind enemy lines. With some impressive looking gore, it’s set to have fans of horror interested. Stars Iain De Caestecker (In Fear), Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell), and Wyatt Russell (Black Mirror).

OCTOBER 31st

American Antichrist (2018) / Fair use doctrine.AMERICAN ANTICHRIST ― the 5th film from Filmmaker Dakota Ray (aka Dakota Bailey) will Feature a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by deviants and plans to take the viewer on a surreal, nihilistic voyage of death, drugs, immorality, and religion.

NOVEMBER 13th

Stirring (2018) / Fair use doctrine.STIRRING ― (aka MRS. CLAUS ― ). – 10 years after a murder/suicide in a sorority, the younger sister of the girl who was murdered joins the same sorority and during a Christmas party, someone begins killing the party goers. This movie pays homage to the 80s style slasher and gives a plot twist or a few. Be sure to read the HoTS official review of Stirring.

DECEMBER 8th

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) / Fair use doctrine.ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE ― a comedy horror musical (yes, kiddies, MUSICAL) about a zombie attack on the sleepy town of Little Haven — at Christmas!

HONORABLE MENTION

Klagger (2010) / Fair use doctrine.KLAGGER ― (a feature-length film based on the 2010 short) is directed by Casey Crow and Casey’s brother and producing partner, Gene Crow. The KLAGGER feature will expand the story of Joseph Klagger’s death in 1977 and how his malevolent spirit terrorizes a small demolition crew employed to raze the factory he died in 36 years earlier. Coming to cinemas.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any drop bears in Occupation?

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

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

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

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

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, SCI-FI HORROR, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

DREW BARRYMORE: From Child Star to Cannibalistic Leading Lady

Drew Barrymore with General from Cat's EyeDrew Barrymore has spent her life in front of the camera in a variety of roles but is especially known with genre fans in recent times for her portrayal of Sheila Hammond in two series the Netflix show The Santa Clarita Diet.

Barrymore’s first role was uncredited in a made for television movie Suddenly, Love in 1978 (when she was merely two years old and played a baby boy named Bobby).

Drew BarrymoreIt wouldn’t be until two more years late, in 1980, that Drew would play Margaret Jessup in Altered States, which was also the debut film for William Hurt. Altered States reflected a disturbingly surreal element of humanity and was more psychological than horrifying.

A year later Barrymore hit the big time, starring as the adorably lovable Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s E.T -The Extra-Terrestrial. E.T. was a huge success and grossed nearly half a billion dollars at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 1982, cementing Barrymore as quite an in-demand child star.

Drew Barrymore in FirestarterIn 1984 Barrymore scored the coveted role of Charlene “Charlie” McGee in the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, playing the film’s pyrokinetic lead. Starring alongside industry heavyweights George. C. Scott and Martin Sheen, Barrymore dominated her screen time and delivered a powerful performance of a young girl driven by her love for her father.

A year later Barrymore would star in yet another Stephen King adaptation, in the anthology film Cat’s Eye. King reportedly wrote the screenplay with Barrymore in mind for the role as she had impressed producer Dino De Laurentiis with her work a year earlier on Firestarter.

Drew BarrymoreThrough the rest of the 80s, Barrymore played parts in shows such as Amazing Stories, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, and CBS Schoolbreak Special. It wasn’t until 1989 when Barrymore was 14 that she returned to genre films with the serial killer thriller Far From Home, as Joleen  Cox. The film was a flop, despite the fact it featured some horror alumni such as Richard Massur (IT), Jennifer Tilly (Bride Of Chucky), and Matt Frewer (The Stand).

This seemed like a decline in Barrymore’s career until three years later when she would star in the seductive 1992 Katt Shea thriller Poison Ivy. As Ivy, Barrymore befriends Sylvie Cooper (played by Sarah Gilbert) and seduces Sylvie’s father Darryl (Tom Skerritt). Barrymore delivered a sultry and fragile performance as the film titles vixen and regained her hold on Hollywood, yet again being seen as a talented actress.

Drew BarrymoreFollowing the success of Poison Ivy (which would spawn three sequels since), Barrymore appeared in Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Sketch Artist, Guncrazy, and No Place To Hide in 1992.

In 1993 Doppelganger was released. Barrymore played Holly Gooding, a young woman with a strange double. It wasn’t as successful as hoped, but has since become popular with fans.

Later that year Barrymore would play Long Island teenager Amy Fisher, in The Amy Fisher Story – based on the true story of a teenager who shot her adult lover Joey Buttafuoco’s wife. The film was well received at the time, and Barrymore praised for her portrayal of the wayward teen and the crime that shocked the world.

For the following years, Barrymore took more romantic roles and in 1995 even appeared as Sugar in Batman Forever, one of the villain Two-Face’s (played by Tommy Lee Jones) girlfriends.

However in 1996 came a pivotal moment in Barrymore’s career, taking on a role as a victim called Casey Becker rather than the lead she was originally offered. In Wes Craven’s/David Williamson’s Scream, Barrymore’s role became as infamous as Janet Leigh’s in Hitchcock’s Psycho 36 years earlier and has since been part of one of Horror’s most memorable on-screen deaths for over two decades since.

Drew Barrymore in ScreamFrom Scream, Barrymore took more light-hearted roles – for which her fans adore her- in films such as The Wedding Singer, Ever After, and Home Fries.

It was in 1999 that Barrymore launched her production company Flower Films and their first film Never Been Kissed (which reunited her with former Doppelganger co-star Sean Whalen – known as Roach from The People Under the Stairs – and Scream co-star David Arquette) was released.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2001 she returned to the genre in Donnie Darko as Karen Pomeroy. The sci-fi/thriller film still has fans divided to this day over the interpretation of what it means.

Following commercial success with the Charlie’s Angels film reboots and a dramatic role in Driving in Cars With Boys, Barrymore has built her career for the last decade primarily in producing films and starring in romantic and dramatic roles.

Drew BarrymoreIn 2017 Netflix released the first series of The Santa Clarita Diet. The show is a horror comedy, about the strange death of Sheila Hammond. However Sheila isn’t quite dead, she’s undead and has a hankering for human flesh. It is up to her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant), daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and their young neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) to help figure out how Sheila became what she now is and try and change her back to normal.

The show has run for two seasons already and confirmation for series three has been announced. Fans are enjoying the dark humor and balance between the comedy itself and grotesque gore. It has been an enjoyable and hilarious show to watch and personally a great reintroduction to genre fans for Barrymore’s skills as a comedienne and her abilities within the genre.

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Smoking Hot with … Bong of The Living Dead (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Smoking Hot with … Bong of The Living Dead (2017)

Yes, you read that correctly, this review will be about the recent release of a film titled Bong of the Living Dead, a new breed of Zombie film that has so much beautiful sentiment it actually surprised me!

Again, this is an actual moderately action-packed stoner film involving a group of potheads and their antics during an untimely zombie outbreak.

Of course, when you hear the title, you will prejudge based on your views on the prior Evil Bong films. This is not affiliated with those films in any way, shape, or form.

Ted (2012)

Ted (2012) – No, not that bong.

Bong of the Living Dead features a group of twenty-something adults who have known each other since they were kids.

As kids, our hazy leader Christ Moser (played by Eric Boso, previously seen in short films) establishes himself as a self-proclaimed zombie aficionado. He spends a lot of his days mulling over how he would react to a zombie apocalypse, usually while smoking his bong.

Also in the friends’ group is Kate Mitchell (Tiffany Arnold, who appears in Lilith with Jessica Cameron). Kate is a doctor now with much less regard for Christ’s discussions and thinking more logically about the possibility of an attack of the undead.

Joining this duo is Daniel Alan Kiely as Hal Rockwood, Laura. E. Mock as Tara Callahan, Dan Nye as Jon Lance, and Cat Taylor as Danielle Dewitt.

Each adds some genuinely funny moments to this oddly conceived film and balance the humor with their genuine care and compassion for each other.

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, and Laura E. Mock in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, and Laura E. Mock in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Obviously, there are nods to films notable within the zombie sub-genre and Night of the Living Dead is discussed in one of their Zombie talks. as well as Land of the Dead in relation to guns within the Zombie film world.

When the actual news breaks on TV about the onslaught of Zombies, naturally some are excited and others more reserved within the group.

That said, the original onslaught is quite less than anticipated and notably disheartened, they instead all return inside to…you guessed it…get high!

Hours pass and the news reports worsen to the point that one newscaster reports, “You’re fucked, Columbus!” Even worse, a politician begins a campaign (Councilman Ted Swanson) with the cheesiest slogan, “Don’t be a problem, zom-bee the solution”.  All of this prompts our collective ensemble to again get high, and we are treated to a montage of zombie preparations before they attempt to venture outside. A few of the neighbors are devoured by the increasing horde and things begin to take a zombie-like twist for the worst.

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, Laura E. Mock, and Cat Taylor in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

Daniel Alan Kiely, Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Dan Nye, Laura E. Mock, and Cat Taylor in Bong of the Living Dead (2017)

This is where they take a downward spiral. Zombies overtake, some are hurt, even killed. The usual plot aspects of a zombie film. However through a series of horrific moments, and even the news guy shooting himself, our gang begin to recall their fond memories with one another. Tied in with such an amazingly emotional score, it pulls oddly at your heartstrings – not something I anticipated – and creates an almost beautiful climax.

I think people will prejudge Bong of the Living Dead, but in those moments it showed real heart and actually became so much more than a stoner zombie viewing.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments