28 Days Later

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Thirty – 10/30/18

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And yet again, I came upon a year where it was too hard to decide which films to feature, and it got narrowed down to two: a home invasion thriller that upends the premise of a classic chiller from the Sixties, and a zombie action drama unlike anything audiences had seen before.

If you’re old enough to remember (as I do) the Terence Young-directed thriller from 1967, WAIT UNTIL DARK, the best screen adaptation of Frederick Knott’s smash play there will ever be, you’ll recall Audrey Hepburn as the “champion blind lady”, who manages to get the goods on three crooks trying to outsmart her, including a terrifyingly good Alan Arkin.  FEDE ALVAREZ, who totally retooled Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD in a gore-drenched remake in 2013, got the brilliant idea of taking that scenario and flipping it around. The result? The cracklingly good ‘home invasion’ flick, DON’T BREATHE…which literally describes what you’ll find yourself doing through the second and third acts of his DEAD follow-up.

Once again tapping the talents of his muse/leading lady JANE LEVY, and adding DYLAN MINNETTE and DANIEL ZOVATO into the mix, the three of them play juvenile burglars out to make one last big score. Zovato’s “Money”, the wannabe-badass of the group hits upon a plan. Rumor has it that there’s an old, blind Iraq war vet who lives alone, and has a shitload of cash stashed somewhere in his house.

Old. Blind. Isolated. Rich. Easy pickins, right?

Except, of course, if the man in question happens to be STEPHEN LANG (AVATAR, BAND OF THE HAND, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN), who usually plays ‘not-fuck-with-able’ sighted characters on his worst days. So is the man he plays here going to be an easy target? Not on your life.

I won’t disclose how they find out, but the three thieves soon learn they’ve got their hands full. And worst of all, they’re on the Blind Man’s turf. Where they know next to nothing about his house, he has that blind person’s super-heightened senses of everything that’s around him, especially sound. And that’s where the title comes in.  BREATHE is a mindfuck all the way around. The “bad guys” turn out to be so much less dangerous than their intended ‘victim’, and even though they were up to no good, you end up rooting for them to be able to get the hell out of the predicament they made for themselves.

But much like the script that Alvarez crafted with writing/producing partner RODO SAYAGUES, you never have any idea of what’s coming next, and the twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your sofa, all the way up to the gasp-inducing finale.  I didn’t care much for Alvarez’s take on the Raimi film, to be completely honest, but DON’T BREATHE won me over immediately. I don’t doubt that if you love a good, solid thriller, the same will happen for you with this one.

As for our other feature…

Like many people, I gave up on THE WALKING DEAD at about Season Six. Or was it Seven? No matter. By the time Negan was finally introduced after what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of speculation, I was pretty much “zombie’d-out”. With multiple TV series devoted to them (including FEAR THE WALKING DEAD), I just didn’t feel like anything new could be done with the sub-genre. Or at least, no one was trying very hard to.

And then, along comes TRAIN TO BUSAN.

This pulse-pounding thriller from Korean director SANG-HO YEON, took what appears to be a simple enough premise – transferring the scenario of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD from a shopping mall to a commuter train – and, using the tried-and-true conceit of character investment by the audience, turns his film into a grueling, 90-minute terror ride that fans have taken again and again since its initial release. (It was one of the biggest box-office smashes in Korea that year, and for good reason!)

Work-obsessed businessman Seok-woo (YOO GONG) is taking his daughter, Soo-an (SU-AN KIM) to be with her mother, from whom he is estranged. But what seems like the beginning of a downer of a family drama, takes a sharp left turn, as father and daughter board the train leaving Seoul and bound for Busan, just as a mysterious zombie virus descends upon the city, transforming those affected by it into speedy, groveling flesh-munchers, infecting any and everyone who happens to get bitten.

The terror grows with the size of the undead hordes, and the chances for survival shrink faster than the Seoul skyline in the distance. As the struggle begins, a beefy laborer, Sang-hwa (the scene-stealing DONG-SEOK MA) who starts out having an antagonistic relationship with Seok-woo, soon joins forces with him as a badly-needed ally, as he tries to keep himself and his daughter alive, while also still trying to fulfill his promise to Soo-an to get her to Busan to see her mother.

 

As I often like to say, “Terror needs no translation”, and that definitely applies here. Director Yeon, working from the script he wrote with JOO-SUK PARK, knows his way around an action sequence, and manages to blow the audience away with several suspenseful setpieces, involving situations that have never been presented before the way they are here, even in top-notch zombie thrillers like 28 DAYS LATER and WORLD WAR Z (which TRAIN shares some similarities with.)

International filmmakers are ‘bringing it’ with their takes on the zombie genre, with everything from BUSAN, to the recent Chinese productions of ZOMBIOLOGY and LOST IN APOCALYPSE. I wish George Romero were still here to see this, and to remark on it in his own unique way…

POST-MORTEM SCRYPT: 2016 bounced crazily between sci-fi/horror, the supernatural and man-made monsters with such offerings as 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, THE CONJURING 2, SPLIT, THE WAILING, RAW, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, UNDER THE SHADOW and the excellent THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, OPINION, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, ZOMBIES, 1 comment

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Sixteen – 10/16/18

10/16 – 2002: MAY

“If you can’t find a friend…MAKE ONE.”

Not the exact tag line, but it does capture the main idea behind what I have come to regard, as the best film that writer/director LUCKY MCKEE and his main muse, ANGELA BETTIS, have ever collaborated on. And we’re talking about a duo who also gave us the excellent MASTERS OF HORROR episode, “Sick Girl”, and the movie that almost ran people out of the theater, THE WOMAN, McKee’s excellent team-up with late, great horror author JACK KETCHUM (THE GIRL NEXT DOOR).

I have always been of the half-joking opinion, that there should be a law that states that Angela never be allowed to do movies with any other director but Lucky, and MAY is the reason why. It’s a brilliant, horrific and heartbreaking meditation on loneliness, self-hatred and just that overall feeling of “not being able to fit in.” What would have happened in CARRIE, how would the story have played out if she’d still been bullied, maligned and ostracized, but she had no telekinetic powers to lash out with? MAY provides one truly unsettling and yet also depressingly dark answer to that question.

Bettis, of course, plays the title character, but before that, we see her as a young girl – lonely and isolated, and her condition with a lazy eye doesn’t help things at all.  Her mother gives her a “friend’ to keep her company: a doll in a glass case. But not just any doll.  This is one of the creepiest dolls I think I’ve ever seen in film history – it makes ANNABELLE look like Raggedy Ann!

The grown-up May, some years later, loves to sew and make things. That aptitude translates into what she does for her day job, working for a veterinarian, helping with the animals and even with some surgeries.

Her lesbian co-worker, Polly, (ANNA FARIS with one of her great, subtly funny turns) has something of a crush on May, but things between them stay mostly in the ‘friend zone’.

It’s only when she meets a hunky mechanic named Adam (JEREMY SISTO), that May begins to see the possibilities of having a life beyond her mostly solitary existence. It’s her ‘uniqueness’ that draws both Adam and Polly to her, who consider themselves to be equally “weird” people, but there’s more than a bit of miscommunication going on here.  While their own “off-beat-ness” is something of an affectation, what they’re reading as “quirky” and “interesting” about May is a whole hell of a lot more than that: May’s sanity is hanging on day-by-day, by the slenderest of threads, and it wouldn’t take much at all for it to snap like a rotten twig.  As Adam and May begin to date, he soon realizes because of certain behaviors she exhibits, that this poor girl just simply isn’t ‘all there’ and breaks it off with her.

Then, Polly decides that it’s the perfect time for them to take their friendship to the next level, until she, too, begins to see and sense what Adam did, and she also shuts May out of her life.

Remember what I said about her sanity, and about how it wouldn’t take much for her to lose it? Seems like bald-faced rejection is what finally does the trick.

I don’t want to say anymore than I have to, except that it all leads to an inevitable, bloody and devastatingly sad conclusion. All this girl ever wanted was a true friend, and even at the climax, she never really gets one.  If there were any justice in the cinematic world, Bettis should have gotten an Oscar nod out of this singular and unforgettable performance, but I doubt that the Academy, even though they recognized a movie like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – they weren’t quite ready for a film like MAY.

McKee knows at all times exactly what kind of audience he’s aiming for, and he hits the bull’s-eye every time. He does character-driven pieces like no other filmmaker I know, and MAY offers a seductive promise of a neo-Gothic brand of horror, to those fans who are always hungry for something that ventures pretty far off the beaten path of “mainstream” thrills and chills. He likes to examine the human condition in a way that is unapologetically blunt and in-your-face. You can see these attributes in most of his work, but not as sharply defined as it is in MAY.

Sisto, Faris, as well as indie fave JAMES DUVAL and WILL ESTES, all give great performances as friends or friends of May’s ‘friends’, but the responsibility for reaching out and touching the audience most profoundly, rests on Bettis’s slender shoulders, and she is more than capable of handling that task. I don’t hear too many people discussing this movie anymore, which is a damn shame. If any film is deserving of a much wider audience, MAY is definitely one of them.

POST-MORTEM SCRYPT:  This is also the year that gave us RED DRAGON, DOG SOLDIERS, BUBBA HO-TEP, JU-ON: THE GRUDGE, THE RING, DARK WATER, SIGNS, THE EYE and 28 DAYS LATER.

Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, HALLOWEEN, OPINION, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
History of Horror in November

History of Horror in November

By Woofer McWooferson

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in November. Click on thumbnails for full images.

November 1 - 7


11/01/1985 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge released theatrically

A Nightmare on Elm Street / Fair use doctrine.



Castlevania: Symphony of the Night / Fair use doctrine.


11/01/1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night released on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in the European Union



11/01/2000 – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem released on the Nintendo GameCube in the European Union

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem / Fair use doctrine.



28 Days Later / Fair use doctrine.

11/01/2002 – 28 Days Later released theatrically in the United Kingdom



11/02/1990 – Jacob’s Ladder released theatrically

Jacob's Ladder / Fair use doctrine.



Carrie / Fair use doctrine.

11/03/1976 – Carrie released theatrically



11/03/1946-Tom Savini pioneer F/X artist born

Tom Savini / Image: IMDb



The Snake Pit / Fair use doctrine.

11/04/1948 – The Snake Pit released theatrically



11/05/1943 – Son of Dracula (1943) released theatrically

Son of Dracula / Fair use doctrine.



Castlevania: Curse of Darkness / Fair use doctrine.

11/05/2006 – Castlevania: Curse of Darkness released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in North America



11/06/1931 – Mike Nichols (director of Wolf) born

Mike Nichols / Photo by Steve Granitz - © WireImage.com - Image courtesy WireImage.com



Thandie Newton / Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage.com

11/06/1972 – Thandie Newton (actress in Interview with the Vampire) born



11/06/1972 – Rebecca Romijn (actress in Godsend) born

Rebecca Romijn / Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.com

November 8 - 14


Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde / Fair use doctrine.

11/07/1971 – Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde released theatrically



11/07/2000 – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem released on the Nintendo GameCube in Australia

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem / Fair use doctrine.



Bram Stoker / Fair use doctrine.

11/08/1847 – Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) born (d. 1912)



11/08/1968 – Parker Posey (actress in Scream 3) born

Parker Posey / © 2004 USA Cable Network. All Rights Reserved.



Tara Reid / IMDb

11/08/1975 – Tara Reid (actress in A Return to Salem’s Lot, Urban Legend (film), Devil’s Pond, Alone in the Dark, and The Crow: Wicked Prayer) born



11/09/1984 – A Nightmare on Elm Street released theatrically

A Nightmare on Elm Street / Fair use doctrine.



Silent Night, Deadly Night / Fair use doctrine.

11/09/1984 – Silent Night, Deadly Night released theatrically



11/09/1988 – Child’s Play released theatrically

Child's Play / © 1988 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Castlevania: Chronicles / Fair use doctrine.

11/09/2001 – Castlevania Chronicles released on the PlayStation in the European Union



11/10/1889 – Claude Rains (actor in many horror films) born (d. 1967)

Claude Rains / Photo by Hulton Archive - Image courtesy gettyimages.com



Bill Moseley / IMDb

11/11/1951 – Bill Moseley (actor in many horror films) born



11/11/1995 – Interview with the Vampire released theatrically

Interview with the Vampire / Fair use doctrine.



Resident Evil Zero / Fair use doctrine.

11/11/2002 – Resident Evil 0 released on the Nintendo GameCube in North America



11/12/1904 – Jacques Tourneur (director of many horror films) born (d. 1977)

Jacques Tourneur / Image: IMDb



The Mad Ghoul / Fair use doctrine.

11/12/1943 – The Mad Ghoul released theatrically



11/12/1999 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis released for the PlayStation in North America

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis / Fair use doctrine.



Seed of Chucky / Fair use doctrine.

11/12/2004 – Seed of Chucky released theatrically



11/13/1933 – The Invisible Man released theatrically

The Invisible Man / Fair use doctrine.



Cape Fear / Fair use doctrine.

11/13/1991 – Cape Fear (1991) released theatrically



11/13/1992 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula released theatrically

Bram Stoker's Dracula / Fair use doctrine.

November 15 - 21


Night of the Comet / © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

11/16/1984 – Night of the Comet released theatrically



11/16/1990 – Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 released theatrically

Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 / Fair use doctrine.



Frailty / © 2002 - Lions Gate Films - All Rights Reserved

11/17/2001 – Frailty released theatrically



11/18/1990 – It premieres on television

It / Fair use doctrine.

November 21 - 27


Frankenstein / Fair use doctrine.

11/21/1931 – Frankenstein released theatrically



11/21/1964 – Onibaba released theatrically in Japan

Onibaba / Fair use doctrine.



Predator 2 / Fair use doctrine.

11/21/1990 – Predator 2 released theatrically



11/21/2002 – Resident Evil 0 released on the Nintendo GameCube in Japan

Resident Evil Zero / Fair use doctrine.



Gothika / © 2003 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved

11/21/2002 – Gothika released theatrically



11/22/1958 – Jamie Lee Curtis (actress in Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night, etc.) born

Jamie Lee Curtis / © 2010 20th Century FOX All Rights Reserved



Boris Karloff / Image courtesy mptvimages.com

11/23/1887 – Boris Karloff born (d. 1969)



11/23/1917 – Michael Gough (actor in Hammer horror films) born

Michael Gough / Image: IMDb



Silent Hill 2 / Fair use doctrine.

11/23/2001 – Silent Hill 2 released on the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in Europe



11/24/1999 – End of Days released theatrically

End of Days / Fair use doctrine.



Castlevania: Curse of Darkness / Fair use doctrine.

11/24/2006 – Castlevania: Curse of Darkness released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in Japan



11/26/1992 – Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge released on the Game Boy in Europe

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge / Fair use doctrine.



Alien: Resurrection / Fair use doctrine.

11/26/1997 – Alien: Resurrection released theatrically



11/27/1988 – John Carradine (actor in numerous horror films) dies (b. 1906)

John Carradine / Photo by Ulvis Alberts - © 1978 Ulvis Alberts - Image courtesy mptvimages.com



Castlevania: Legends / Fair use doctrine.

11/27/1997 – Castlevania Legends released on the Game Boy in Japan



11/27/2003 – Castlevania: Lament of Innocence released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan

20032711_castlevania-lament-of-innocence

November 28 - 30


Let Sleeping Corpses Lie / Fair use doctrine.

11/28/1974 – Let Sleeping Corpses Lie released theatrically



11/30/1999 – Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness released on the Nintendo 64 in the United States

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments