STAFF PICKS

We want to hear your thoughts!

Inside the Final Episode of Rick Grimes

Inside the Final Episode of Rick Grimes

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead / Image: AMCLike so many fans of The Walking Dead, I have been watching since the early seasons of this series. One of the main and most loved characters has been Rick  Grimes portrayed by Andrew Lincoln. He has been playing this character since the start of The Walking Dead back on October 31, 2010.

At the start of the series, Rick Grimes was a small town sheriff in Georgia. He was wounded when he was shot by suspects fleeing in a car. When he woke up from the coma, Rick discovered that the whole world had changed after a zombie virus destroyed the world. What followed is a journey that he undertook as he fought to find his wife and son and as he fought to protect the people that he came in contact with.

In his last episode, Rick Grimes has been injured after his horse bucks him off.  A large zombie hoard is moving towards the Hilltop and Alexandria. In his last act of sacrifice, Rick blows up a bridge to get rid of the danger of the walkers. In a major twist, Anna, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, finds Rick after he washes up on shore after blowing up the bridge. Even though she has saved Rick’s life, this is the last episode of Rick Grimes. According to Scott Gimple, though this is his last episode, this will not be the last time we will see Rick Grimes. 3 made for tv movies will be made in the future that will continue with Rick Grimes’ story.


Posted by Graveyard Girl in Categories, HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
HoTS Exclusive On The Elvira Funko Pop Mess

HoTS Exclusive On The Elvira Funko Pop Mess

Spooky EmpireFor those who attended Spooky Empire Con this past weekend (review of the show itself is coming tomorrow), there are two words that will make your blood curl. Elvira Pop.  By now, there are thousands of versions of what happened.  So what really did happen?  As strange as this sounds from an eye witness, I don’t think any one really knows.  Here is what we do know.  On October 15th, eleven days before the show, Spooky Empire and Elvira made an announcement that there would be an exclusive Halloween variant of her Funko Pop exclusively at the show.

Spooky Empre

I arrived at Noon on Friday and got in to the building at 2:30.  When I got inside, the line for the Elvira Pop looked like the outside of a Best Buy at 3 AM on a Black Friday.  There were fans who had allegedly camped out the night before to ensure their place in line.  The staff and volunteers announced they would begin selling the Pop at 4 PM.  This didn’t make a lot of sense because Elvira was scheduled for a costume photo op at 5:30 and I was told she would not be signing on Friday.  On a side note, the Pop line and the photo op line for Elvira nearly blended into each other and made for a giant mass of people in the hallway.  What happened next is where this gets really strange.

A little after 6 PM (maybe it was closer to 7, the day ran together on me and you will understand why), there was an announcement made by the staff that the Pops had not arrived in the building.  They “might” be there by 11 PM.  The Saturday allotment would also be delayed because they were stuck in Chicago.  From what I gathered from several people in line, they announced they would be selling the pop in the form of a ticket and the ticket would get you the pop.

Please note, this is hearsay, as I was in the photo op line for 80% of Friday night (not kidding).  They also announced that they were only selling X amount for Friday.  That meant several hundred people who had been spending hours (8 plus from several sources) in line would not be able to buy their pop.  This of course angered a LOT of people.   Things got physical allegedly and a mob mentality formed.  Apparently some Pops did arrive and be collected on Friday.  The whole issue was such a mess, Elvira herself (as her alter ego, Cassandra Peterson) addressed the issue on her social media.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

I did confirm that there are/were several of the Pops signed and unsigned going on eBay for several hundreds.  Is that illegal?  No, not exactly.  These re-sellers were able to find a loophole by buying the limit and then having their children wait in line too so they could buy the limit.  Do I agree with them?  I don’t, but it will happen no matter what.  This is what will always happen when an exclusive anything goes on sale somewhere.

Clint NarramoreQuietly, a final shipment did arrive on Sunday and the fans who were at the show were able to buy them and were limited to two until the shipment ran out.  Elvira did sign these (as included in the price).  The signed pop did not include her personalizing each one (and that is OK, because there were 400 people with one).  It was a giant mess all the way around for this exclusive Pop, limited to 1500.

So, who’s to blame?  That list is longer than the suspect list in 1963 of who killed President Kennedy.  There is so much blame here, I think almost all parties involved can share equal parts.  To her credit, Elvira/Cassandra is the ONLY one who addressed the issue.  To date, Spooky Empire, Funko or the company that failed to get the delivery on time have all been silent and I do not think that will change.

On social media, more than one person put out that Spooky Empire staff members were rude about the incident and told fans, they knew the risk when they came to the show.  Assuming this was in fact said, is there truth to there being a risk?  Of course.  Was that the most diplomatic way to handle this situation?  No.  A lot of people look bad.  There were memes and jokes over the weekend making fun of the situation.

This makes Elvira look bad as well.  But voicing my opinion from what I saw, I think she is the only one who does not need to take blame on this.  Elvira was not in charge of delivery or distribution.  Elvira agreed to have her likeness used and agreed to sign each on as a part of the price tag.  She could not pre-sign what did not arrive.  She was also the only one in this mess to address it instead of waiting for it to go away.

Now I know it is easy for me to sit here and write this after the fact.  Someone asked me how I would have handled this.  Spooky Empire HAD to know that this was going to get ugly.  If not, someone is asleep at the wheel.  I walked in on Friday, saw the line and immediately decided I was not going to wait in it.  I knew there were hundreds of people and most of them were going to take the max.  Here is what I think SHOULD have happened.

Spooky Empire and Funko knew how many Pops were allotted for Friday.  They should have had tickets and given that many tickets when the line formed.  There should have been 1-3 people who’s job it was to hand out tickets.  When the tickets were gone, CAP THE LINE!  That hall was a fire hazard ready to happen.  That line would have not only been capped, but they could have told ticket holders when they could pick up the Pops.  How do I know this would have worked?  Ask any con who has a major celeb come in for signing.

HorrorHound is a perfect example.  They had tickets with times on them for Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell autograph sessions.  When they were out of tickets, the line was capped.  The fan is then responsible for holding his/her ticket(s).  When they get to the front, they turn in their ticket and money for the (in this case) Pop.  Would people have been upset?  Of course.    Would they have avoided the cops being called?  Yes.  Would they have had people stand in line for 8 plus hours, only to receive grief?  No.  Funko could have communicated better with Spooky on the delivery and the delivery could have been made on time.  BUT, had those last two things have happened, you still have a giant mess.  Two fans took to YouTube to explain what they experienced.

All in all, this was a failed experiment.  It was easy for people to blame Elvira, when in the end the blame goes much further.  Her only involvement other than putting her signature on the Pop was using her likeness.  People will argue that she made her money.  Sure, she probably did, but at the same time had nothing to do with the mess that ensued.  The delivery company dropped the ball on making a timely delivery.  But at the end of the day, the execution of getting the Pops to the fans falls on Spooky Empire and for that they have to take their lumps.

Overall Grade on the Elvira Funko Situation: F

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Fayetteville Comic Con Review

Fayetteville Comic Con Review

Clint NarramoreFayetteville Comic Con was this past weekend in North Carolina and they did not disappoint.  They provided a good lineup for horror fans with Tony Todd, Butch Patrick, Tom Savini, Mark Dodson and Warrington Gillette.  The 2 day event was filled with contests and opportunities to meet their favorite celebrities.  Butch Patrick of The Munsters even brought along exact Munster Car replicas of The Munster Coach and Dragula.

I am normally a little weary of Comic Cons that bring in horror stars.  There are however, 2 sides of the coin.  If the con has no horror guests, then the horror fans feel left out.  If there are lesser known horror guests to horror fans however, the horror guests go unnoticed.  That problem didn’t seem to be the case this weekend.  The fans were enthusiastic about meeting the horror stars and the stars reciprocated those feelings.  Also seen at the convention, were performers of Air Born Aerial Fitness and they performed on the stage for the fans.

All in all this show provided everything for fans of all genres.  There were great guests, some innovative Cosplay from the fans and a wide variety of vendors that provided items of both the comic and horror worlds.  Fayetteville Comic Con has seemed to get better from year to year and put on a memorable show. The one area I would like to see (let me qualify this by saying I am selfish) is the horror guest list grow as well as more photo ops with some of the larger guests.  That will come though, as the show grows.  Overall, everyone both guests and fans enjoyed themselves, making for a successful show.  To get more info on the show as a whole, visit the official Fayetteville Comic Con website at www.fayettevillecomiccon.com.

Overall Grade: A

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 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
HoTS Celebrates 50 Years Of: Night Of The Living Dead

HoTS Celebrates 50 Years Of: Night Of The Living Dead

Night Of The Living Dead / IMDB

Although it opened on Tuesday, October 1, 1968 in Pittsburgh only, today is a special day in history. On Friday, October 4, 1968 Night Of The Living Dead made its nationwide debut.  Although there had been a couple of zombie movies prior, this film would go on to set the standards of the zombie sub genre. Originally titled Night of Anubis, writers George A. Romero and John Russo  would give the film a more fitting name. Romero directed Night Of The Living Dead. The film tells the tale of seven people trapped in a farmhouse, attacked by people risen from the dead.

Night Of The Living Dead / IMDBNight Of The Living Dead opens with Johnny and Barbara, visiting their father’s grave. They see a man who looks disoriented and Johnny teases Barbara. He reminds her of a chant from their youth, ‘they’re coming to get you Barbara”. The man attacks and throws Johnny onto on a grave. The blow to the head kills Johnny.

Barbara escapes to a farmhouse and meets Ben. She is catatonic and Ben tries to get her to help him board the house. They discover a family of three hiding in the basement with another couple. Everyone but Ben is eventually killed by zombies (one is the young girl of the older couple from the basement). Ben survives but, the next morning a posse mistakes him for a zombie and shot him dead.

Night Of The Living Dead / IMDB

That is a very brief description of the movie. Today we are  focusing on the impact it has made in 50 years. Five “of the Dead” films followed, all directed by Romero. 1990 saw a remake of the film as well. Night Of The Living Dead introduced the world to the only way to kill a zombie. You must kill its brain.

How many movies and TV shows come from the idea of the the zombie? Night Of The Living Dead was not the first zombie film remember, but it stemmed the most followers.  The Walking Dead draws millions of viewers each week. The Walking Dead which spawned from a comic book, uses the same principles but in a more modern era. In fact, one could argue that any film or TV show since 1968 depicting zombies were inspired by Night Of The Living Dead. Romero and Russo created the blueprint and reinvented the sub genre.

Today, the remaining surviving cast and crew members attend several conventions nationwide to meet with fans. New generations of movie goers experience meeting Judith O’Day (Barbara), Russell Streiner (Johnny), Kyra Schon (Karen) and John Russo. George Romero actively attended cons until his passing last summer. With Romero’s passing, the franchise did not fade away. George’s son, George Cameron Romero is working on a prequel to the 1968 original. It’s a safe bet however, to say we are looking forward to that.

Happy 50th Anniversary Night Of The Living Dead and here’s to 50 more great years!

 

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in Categories, HORROR NEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, STAFF PICKS, ZOMBIES, 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
INTERVIEW: Poison Rouge – Director, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

INTERVIEW: Poison Rouge – Director, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

After recently watching American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice, I was so impressed with it that I reached out to the director Poison Rouge. I was surprised and delighted to learn that Sacrifice was her debut film and even more delighted when she consented to an interview. Actor and director Poison Rouge is quite the talent, and if you haven’t watched American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice already, I highly recommend you do so.

Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.

House of Tortured Souls: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’m very excited to connect with a talented woman who also loves extreme horror. Did you always want to be a director/actor?
Poison Rouge: No, thank you for your time and for supporting Indie films. Actually, I don’t yet know who I am or what I want to be in life, I just want to live it day by day. The fatal meeting with Domiziano (Christopharo) changed a lot of things for me, around me, and inside me. We first met at a tattoo shop where he was working. He did a tattoo for me, and we became friends and have been ever since. Now I see something — and someone — in myself that I didn’t see before. He suggested that I act in his sideshow first, then in his first feature film House of Flesh Mannequins (2009).
House of Flesh Mannequins (2009) / Fair use doctrine.
HoTS: What was your inspiration for this film?
PR: The story was already written. It was originally conceived as a horror comedy that Domiziano wanted to direct as the first chapter in his Trilogy of Death. The lead role was created for a woman, but the actress abandoned the project two weeks before starting. Domiziano asked me to take her place, and later he decided to give the direction of the movie to me so he could follow the second production (Torment). I turned the character into a male and removed the comedic tone to obtain something darker.

HoTS: Why did you choose to start with such an extreme film?
PR: Life decided for me, and I always accept the gifts that life gives me daily.

HoTS: I noticed a lot of well-researched references to the Goddess Ishtar. Why did you choose her or what is her significance to you?
PR: I love the fact that she is the goddess of sex, life, and destruction. The heart of motherhood in some ways. She’s a strong female figure that really describes the power of a woman outside stereotypes.

Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.

HoTS: What films and directors are your favorites and influenced your style?
PR: My favorite movies are any ones that involve Sly Stallone; I just love him! Especially Rocky.
In horror, my favorites are all the classics — Carpenter, Polanski, and Friedkin, etc.
I don’t think I really have a style yet. It’s impossible after only one feature, but I have a vision. My passion for art and painting is very visible in Sacrifice.

HoTS: I loved the gore and the practical FX in this one. I heard a rumor that the penis mutilation scene is partially real. Is that true? Please explain!
PR: Haha! You should watch the extras on the DVD to know more about it. I won’t say another word!
The FX are great and very realistic. Domiziano (aka Athanasius Pernath) is a master.

Interview: Poison Rouge with Domiziano Christopharo / Fair use doctrine.

HoTS: It’s really cool that your first film was picked up by Unearthed and is part of the American Guinea Pig series. Was it made specifically to be part four of AGP or was that something that happened after the fact?
PR: It was already in the works by Domiziano to be the first in his Trilogy of Death. He was planning for it to be the first Italian extreme horror saga. The references in the first film Sacrifice are from He Never Dies, the third installment in the Japanese Guinea Pig saga. Stephen Biro noticed us from the start and followed us every step of the way. He found the final result worthy of his American Guinea Pig series, and the rest is history!

HoTS: On a personal note it’s my understanding that you’re quite an accomplished bodybuilder and boxer. How did you get involved in it?
PR: Because I love Rocky and Stallone! He was my inspiration in filmmaking and made me want to act. It was only a natural next step to start fighting for real, too.
Interview: Poison Rouge / Fair use doctrine.
HoTS: I’d like to thank you, Poison, and Domiziano Christopharo again for agreeing to chat with me. You’re both talented artists and lovely people. I look forward to seeing your next film. After this incredible debut, I’m eager to see what you will do next.

Buy American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice at Unearthed Films

Check out the trailer for American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice.

Posted by Candace Stone in FEATURED ARTISTS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

Safe (2018)

Directed By: Tim Earnheart

Written By: Tim Earnheart

Starring: Nadine Nagamatsu, S Joe Downing, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Barceloux, Corrie Fleming

I had the pleasure of reviewing the short film Conduit at last year’s Shreikfest. It was a nice mash-up of action and horror and on a limited time and budget managed to tell a cool little story. This year I was extremely lucky to get an early preview of Mr. Earnheart’s latest short film entitled Safe. A woman’s (Nadine Nagamatsu) home is broken into by three masked men. They promptly demand the contents of a safe but not without some deadly consequences. Similar to Conduit, Earnheart masterfully subverts genre expectations and fuses the horror/home invasion genre with action and sci-fi. That seems like a recipe for disaster however with some clever writing and less is more approach it works surprisingly well. Further elevating the material is some on-point editing that creates a nice action-packed pace that keeps you glued from start to finish. Also, Earnheart shows off a nice crisp visual flare and employs some interesting camera work giving everything a polished look on a budget. Shout out to a great cast headed up by Nadine Nagamatsu who was in Tim’s previous films including Conduit. She brings a nice range to the part and thankfully doesn’t ham things up. On the surface, Safe seems like a typical slice`em up home invasion but thankfully it’s not. Once again I was very pleased that Tim can take a well-worn horror sub-genre and totally flip it on its head while injecting some great visual effects and action. I would love to see Safe turned into a feature film because it has such a great story that could easily be expanded on. Once again I was totally impressed by this young and up-and-coming writer, director.

Check out his other works — Conduit (Short) (2017), Working with Damian (Short) (2016), and Chapter 2 (Short) (2016).

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Begins Filming

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Begins Filming

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.As a kid, I was deeply interested in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but what really sold it was the artwork. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark were children’s stories with illustrations of things like rotting corpse brides, spiders coming out of a girl’s face, and disfigured salesmen. “The Drum” is by far my favorite story with a truly terrifying ending that didn’t need any illustration. Your mind couldn’t even draw what you heard.

As years went by, the books sold out every Halloween. Except during a time when the books were reprinted without the artwork. Yup, that really happened.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.The books hold a special place in all of us ― old and young ― who read them. For the young, this was an introduction to horror literature, and for the old, it was a return to simpler horror.

Several years ago there were rumors that Guillermo Del Toro was interested in adapting the books into a film. The Internet (myself included) went crazy in anticipation. Initially, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was going to be an anthology. Then talks of the film grew quiet, and other films were released. Still, it was somehow in development; that much was certain.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Guillermo del Toro
Zoe Margaret Colletti to be in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / IMDbAt first, Del Toro was going to direct, but the project passed down to André Øvredal, who directed The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Trollhunter (2010). The film is written by Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman who also co-wrote The Lego Movie (2014). Del Toro will be producing and will be heavily involved. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has also cast its first star, Zoe Colletti, who will play a character named Stella Michaels.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a huge deal during a year that seems rife with horror novel adaptations. With Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, IT: Chapter 2, and Pet Semetary (remake) being hot novel-to-screen adaptations, this season may well introduce a new generation of fans to the books and maybe, just maybe, even make the fans of the books excited to see their beloved characters on the big screen.

I’m extremely excited for this movie. Or maybe movies? Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has enormous potential for a trilogy. Shooting started this week, so does that mean we could see a 2019 release? House of Tortured Souls will be following all the details of the movie through production and right up to the release, so be sure to check back for updates.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Jai Alexis in CAST AND CREW NEWS, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

Remembering George A Romero: One Year Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Monster welcomes George Romero

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

National Tattoo Month Salute: Chop Shop Tattoos

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

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


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

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

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

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

Chop of Chop Shop Tattoos

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus Short film (2018)

International Screams: Birth of Venus (2018)
Directed By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Written By: Berk Büyükbingöl
Starring: Deniz Turku, Berfin Batir, Elfif Gonen
Country: Turkey

International Screams showcases shorts and features from around the globe and helps you discover exciting new talents. This month we have a short from up-and-coming writer/director Berk Büyükbingöl.

Birth of Venus (2018)Birth of Venus tells the story of two sisters who survive a horrific car crash and struggle with the psychological effects that come with it. But what bloody lengths are they willing to go for the sake of beauty?

Discovering a really solid short is always exciting and something that makes my job as a journalist fulfilling. Berk infuses his short with plenty of morbid nightmare-like images and some pretty palpable scares. He does this by focusing on the technical side of things, and it’s clear that he really knows how to not only fill his frame for maximum frightful effect but also to slyly misdirect, leading to some nice jump scares. He also really knows how to put together, and the editing is on point. This is most evident in the surgery scene.

Birth of Venus (2018)

Giving the film the bulk of its mood is the stark black and white photography. Believe it or not, this is not an easy medium to work in as one might think; however, he does it extremely well, and the end result is a dread-filled fever dream. Büyükbingöl isn’t afraid to go into the surreal; for example, the strange dance sequence is pure Lynchian at its finest. If I had to raise a complaint it would be that, even though this is a freer formed narrative, I feel like the story gets lost and certain plot elements could have been a bit clearer.

When asked what inspirations he drew for this project, Büyükbingöl had this to say:

Mainly the black and white French Horror film Eyes Without a Face inspired me to do it. I tried to mix [The] Texas Chainsaw Massacre with it as well. How far you can go to make your most beloved relative happy? This is the question I asked myself when making it.

Despite a few story issues, Birth of Venus is a creative and visually interesting horror short by a talented filmmaker which most certainly has a future in the industry.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

The OCCUPATION Is Coming from Luke Sparke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any drop bears in Occupation?

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

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

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

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

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

In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison 1934 – 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, OBITUARY, STAFF PICKS, TRIBUTE, 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
The First Trailer For Halloween (2018) Is Here!

The First Trailer For Halloween (2018) Is Here!

While we are 4 months and 11 days (not that I am counting) from the premiere of the new Halloween film, the first trailer is finally here! October 19th (a week before my birthday) is a day fans of the franchise are waiting on, but today is also pretty special. It’s our first look at the trailer that puts the Halloween “Dream Team” together for the first time in decades. Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle will be together for the first time since 1978, when Castle played The Shape.  John Carpenter who created all of the characters is also on board with the music.  Carpenter also serves as an Executive Producer.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode in the new Halloween.

 

John Carpenter will serve as an Executive Producer in the new film.

 

Nick Castle as Michael Myers in the new Halloween.

Halloween will pick up 40 years after the first film and will disregard any of the sequels (and remakes). This has upset some fans, while others are just thrilled to see “the band back together”. The trailer is below. Rest assured, I will be there opening night to see this final battle of Laurie vs Michael!

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

CON REVIEW: Days of the Dead – Charlotte, NC – 2018

For the first time, the Days of the Dead convention invaded Charlotte, NC this past weekend. They brought in a big lineup that included horror and rock icons. Some of those names are Heather Langenkamp, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Linda Blair, Tony Todd, Dee Snider, and Vinnie Vincent.

Friday night was night 1 of the event and at the end of the night was a Hall of Fame Induction. Days of the Dead honors a popular guest who has helped evolve the show and also an Indie Film Maker. The Charlotte show’s inductees were Heather Langenkamp and Tommy Faircloth. Langenkamp, of course, is known for her work in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Faircloth is a Carolina native who has made films for years including Family Possessions. He is working on a new project called Nun’s Curse, which he has a crowdfunding campaign going. So congratulations to both Heather and Tommy!

 

This con was similar to most cons as there were panels, photo ops and chances to meet and get signatures from popular horror icons. The panel I found the most interesting was the Friday The 13th Part 6 panel. There were five cast members (CJ Graham, Thom Mathews, Darcy DeMoss, Tom Fridley, and Kerry Noonan) along with writer/director Tom McLoughlin. This had been the first convention appearance for Noonan, so this group has not been together since filming ended 32 years ago.

Now having traveled to several conventions just in this calendar year, I have seen a lot of great and some not so stellar moments. I have seen some things happen at shows that angered a lot of fans. Days of the Dead did not seem to have those issues this past weekend. Let me qualify this by saying that yes, I was a volunteer at this show. I have volunteered at several shows though. Does that mean that Days of the Dead has mastered how to put on a show? Not exactly.

They have put on 26 shows now in the last decade, so after a while, you learn what can and cannot work. I will also say they did have an advantage that some of the other conventions did not have. Timing. Days of the Dead came after some other shows that had problems. A lot of volunteers do work more than one show, and they post on social media about their experiences. Thus, the staff at Days of the Dead were able to see what problems other conventions experienced and had time to make sure they would not happen at their show. Again, this was their 26th show, and they have run in at least six states. They also hosted an open forum for fans to voice their ideas, issues, suggestions, complaints, etc. They wanted to ensure the fans knew they had a voice.

Let’s talk attendance. The attendance was not nearly what other shows have done. This has caused some people to say the show was unsuccessful. There have been shows in other cities where the crowds were so massive that the fire marshals were called. It’s a double-edged sword. Is there a perfect amount of people that is just right if this was too small and others were too big? I don’t have the answer to that.

What made this show work was that they secured a hotel big enough for fans to spread out. There was also a rhyme and reason for the celebrity layout. The celebrities all seemed to have a great time, including Kerry Noonan, who was often seen having fun with the fans.

What made this show seem to flow smoothly (at least from the perspective that I saw) was that Days of the Dead used a wash, rinse, repeat method. They booked a lot of celebrities that they have used at other shows, and they mixed them with some first-timers. They also used the same core volunteers and staff members that work most of, if not all of their shows.

Were there some hiccups? Sure. Tony Todd had an unexpected family issue come up and was not available for the show on Sunday. I was assured everything is okay, but it had to be taken care of. Life happens, and these celebrities are just like us. Were there some issues with the hotel? Yes. Was the crowd smaller than expected? Yes. But this was the first show Days of the Dead has run in North Carolina, and there are growing pains when you are dealing with a brand new venue and city.

There were some very creative fans that put their cosplay skills to use. There was an entertaining band called Elzig (a cross between Elvis and Danzig) that played the afterparty.

So final analysis. Was this a perfect show? Of course not. Has Days of the Dead found a formula that works for them? Yes. Were there things that could have gone better? I am sure that there are. Most of the fans that I spoke with were extremely happy and excited. Some fans voiced that there was not clear signage of where the panels were being held, but they were happy that team members on the floor were able to guide them in the right direction. Are there changes Days of the Dead can do make improve before their next show? Yes. That will always be the answer, though. This was overall a very successful show, especially for their first run in a new city.

Overall Grade: A

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EVENT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Remembering Margot Kidder

Remembering Margot Kidder

Everyone at House of Tortured Souls is saddened to learn of the death of actress Margot Kidder. Kidder passed away at her home in Montana on Sunday. She was 69. Margot Kidder spent 50 years acting, with her first credit coming in an episode of Wojeck in 1968. She would gain her most notable role 10 years later. In 1978, Kidder wowed audiences opposite Christopher Reeve in Superman, playing Lois Lane.  She would keep that role in Superman’s 3 sequels.

Horror fans will remember Kidder from 1979’s The Amityville Horror where she played Kathy Lutz, opposite James Brolin. She continued acting all the way through 2017.

Kidder’s toughest role may have come in 1996 when she had a manic episode. The episode caused her to become homeless for a while, and she was reported missing for four days. She would be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and be under doctor’s care. Years later, Kidder, who was open about her disorder would become an advocate for mental illness. She had stated that she had not any episodes in many years after being on medication.

Margot Kidder in Brian DePalma's Sisters (1973)

Kidder was scheduled to be at Motor City Comic-con this upcoming weekend in Detroit. Officials have not released a cause of death at this time. Our thoughts here at House of Tortured Souls are with Margot’s family.

Rest In Peace, Ms. Lois Lane.

Margot Kidder
1948-2018

Woofer's Paw Print icon microscopicEditor’s Note: If you know someone who is or might be suffering from mental illness, please reach out and be that friend.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre – Interview with Vanessa Rose Parker, 3 of 3

EXCLUSIVE: 4/20 Massacre – Interview with Vanessa Rose Parker, 3 of 3

Well, we held it as long as we could, but it’s time to exhale and enjoy as we finish up our 4/20 MASSACRE exclusive with an interview with Vanessa Rose Parker.
House of Tortured Souls: What was your first impression of the 4/20 MASSACRE script?
Vanessa Rose Parker: Honestly, I have been working on this project in so many forms that I don’t remember my initial thoughts about it. I remember that I got really excited by the prospect of an all-female main cast. I wanted to make sure that we were treating each character with respect and humanity. We spent a lot of time crafting backstories for each character that would give each actor something unique to work with and give each character a moment to shine.
Jamie Bernadette and Vanessa Rose Parker in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

Jamie Bernadette and Vanessa Rose Parker in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

HoTS: Are you a fan of the genre?
VRP: Yes! I am a horror fan. I absolutely love being scared. And there are certain things that will get me every time… demons and scary ghosts, specifically. I don’t know if it is my lapsed Christian upbringing, but the supernatural world scares the shit out of me! Now there are certain sectors of the genre that aren’t my favorite, like torture porn. But even with that, I think there are exceptions that prove all horror sub genres can be done well.
HoTS: I heard you did your own stunts. What was that like?
VRP: Stunts were a little intimidating. But I worked with our amazing stunt coordinator, James Gregory, and he really took care of me. He patiently took me through everything step by step and always made me feel very safe on set. My biggest stunt involved running in the forest, being shot through the leg with an arrow, and falling to the ground. When it came to actually shooting it, my husband/director, Dylan Reynolds, didn’t seem satisfied with my performance. He made me do so many takes of it! Eventually, he seemed to give up and want to move on. Then during the editing process, Dylan came out and apologized for being hard on me that day…. he used the first take!
HoTS: What would you say was the most difficult or challenging aspect of this shoot?
VRP: The most challenging aspect of this project was the budget and time restraint. We only had ten days to shoot. Seriously, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to take all ten off of work because I didn’t have enough vacation time. But the gods of indie movies shown down upon us and everything worked out. So many wonderful and talented people were willing to work with us and added their hearts to our project. I think it really shows.
HoTS: Would you mind recounting one memorable behind the scenes story?
VRP: After long days of shooting, the cast and crew would get together in the cabins’ common room, drink, and play games. One night we split into two teams and played Encore, a singing word challenge game. It was so evenly matched and got so competitive that the game went on into the wee hours, but we were too stubborn to quit. At about 2 am, when we had a 6 am call, we finally called it a tie. Marissa Pistone (plays Michelle) and I were the heads of each team and we were practically crying to stop, but neither of us would back down. Marissa is a beast. Consider yourselves warned!
Justine Wachsberger, Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Marissa Pistone, and Stacey Danger in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

Justine Wachsberger, Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Marissa Pistone, and Stacey Danger in 4/20 Massacre (2018)

HoTS: What are you working on currently?
VRP: Currently, we are focused on getting this movie out into the world! But then after a little Caribbean vacation, we are going to regroup and see what we’d like to tackle next.
So there you have it, Souls. The final 4/20 MASSACRE exclusive. I’d like to thank Vanessa Rose Parker for her time. Don’t forget to check out my review as well as my interview with 4/20 MASSACRE writer/director Dylan Reynolds.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR COMEDIES, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

Pirating Movies: A Dagger In The Heart For Filmmakers

So we all know Ash vs Evil Dead was canceled recently and that star Bruce Campbell lashed out against those who were illegally downloading the show. Unfortunately, pirating movies and TV shows has gone deeper than that, and it has made life for filmmakers even more challenging.

RIP Ash vs Evil Dead

Now let me start off by saying I am not here to get into an ethics battle with anyone. I would hope that anyone reading this can tell the difference between right and wrong and that pirating is stealing. What I have seen on social media recently, however, is a bit troubling.

Being in the infant stages of my own filmmaking career, I have faced the number one challenge that can stop many inspired writers and directors dead in their tracks…funding. Getting someone to believe in your project as much you as do is impossible, but getting them to believe in you can be done if you are passionate enough and have a great pitch.

The problem, however, is that investors want to see projections for how fast they will get their investment back and also a profit — especially with horror. So a good sales deck will show how similar titles fared in box office, VoD, and DVD sales. This is where filmmakers can face a battle against which they cannot properly defend themselves. Numbers in the sense of dollars can be deflated because advances in technology enable people with better and faster ways to steal movies and TV shows and, in some cases, profit from doing so.

I don’t know if the numbers are in fact true that Ash vs Evil Dead was the most illegally downloaded show of all time. I think it is very plausible. Here are couple examples of actual horror stories I’ve seen from people and tell you the effect it has had on them.

There is a filmmaker who made a zombie film starring Tony Todd that was released last year. DVD sales were not what was projected or even safely targeted. This filmmaker was informed that his movie was uploaded to YouTube and had been watched over 300,000 times. Even if he made no sales and had only VoD rentals, that still would have generated over $1,500,000 in those rentals. But that’s not what happened.

The general reaction when the filmmaker took to social media to express his frustration only added insult to injury. The reactions were almost as bad as the thefts themselves.

At least your film was watched 300,000 times.
Be glad people like your film enough to watch it.

Anyone who lives in a city larger than 100,000 people has some sort of outlet mall, flea market, dirt mall, etc. I have yet to see one where 3-4 “vendors” were not selling $3-$5 films they had downloaded and burned to DVD. These include films that had just been released in theaters. These people are profiting from someone else’s work. What’s worse is that the people buying them are enabling it to continue.

What’s the point of all of this? Indie filmmakers (especially in horror) clear enough hurdles just to get a film made. Many people who sell and watch these films may think that Hollywood has enough money and they’re not hurting anyone. But it’s the people who are trying to break into the business and the Indie filmmakers who want to make something a little different who are suffering.

What can you do? That’s a good question.

For starters, these thieves hocking illegally downloaded movies need to be shut down. The next thing you can do is show support for the movies you love. Attend a con and tell the stars how much you enjoyed the movie. Subscribe to a page or blog, follow House of Tortured Souls (cheap plug, but I saw my shot). Keep the horror voice alive.

Crypt Keeper Clint with Joe Bob Briggs

These little things can keep the shows we love on the air. They will also let the world know that we horror fans have a strong voice and WILL be heard. Want proof? Through a social media campaign, Joe Bob Briggs asked his supporters to send videos to Shudder. They asked Shudder to bring him back. Joe Bob returns June 22nd for a 24-hour marathon. That was due to all of those fan videos creating a demand that Shudder couldn’t ignore.

Never underestimate the power of your own voice and don’t hurt what you love by stealing to save $10-$20.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments