Candace Stone

Flowers 2, What’s the story?

In 2017 Phil Stevens announced his official beginnings on his third feature film Flowers 2. In the last two weeks social media has erupted in a slew of vitriolic bile towards both the filmmaker and his wife, as well as many of the actresses connected to the project.

Original Flowers 2 indiegogo

It is here, in the interest of full disclosure, that I must inform you as the reader that I invested as a backer for Flowers 2. In April 2018 I donated on the first Indiegogo campaign Phil Stevens set up and all backers were privy to information on the film via regular updates from Stevens himself. So I’ve followed the production at length.
However I will assume no personal opinion regarding the matters at hand within this article and ,though I was given lengthy off record information and evidence, I will not sway you to either side. In fact the aim of this article is to cease the hateful online campaigns against both Phil Stevens and each actress involved. 

This dispute that has arisen online, stems from a debate regarding the casting of the film, it’s production, and one Facebook post. The post came from actress and model Amber Burns. Burns as well as model/ actress Mel Heflin are adamant a filmmaker, who they had been in discussions with over two years never kept his end of their agreement. Both Burns and Heflin say neither had been  informed adequately of a filming schedule and then subsequently found out the film had been wrapped without their knowledge.

Originally Burns post didn’t name the filmmaker or the production. However as tensions and comments mounted, Burns disclosed that the film in question was Flowers 2 and the filmmaker was Phil Stevens.

From one post spawned a life of vitriolic bile towards both Burns and Stevens over the matter, by both their fan bases. I am here to tell you NEITHER party condones the actions of fans who harass or threaten anyone, and asked that all cease doing so immediately.

Below is a statement from Phil Stevens and Colette Kenny McKenna on the matter :

Prinicple wrap isn’t complete. This isn’t easy. We have been telling our fans to  stop. To not do this. None were under contract yet. The first attempt at fundraising with them failed. We had to take another route. This is genuinely sad. It is genuinely painful.”

“It’s a wrap” the comment on social media and indiegogo that sparked debate.

The following statement is from Amber Burns

“I want to tell my story. I hope this helps others in the future. I was cast in a movie called Flowers 2. I was a huge fan of the first film and excited to be a part of the second film. I was at first offered a smaller flower role, which I happily took. This was two years ago in 2017. I stayed in contact with the director Phil Stevens. His first request was that I take “Flowers” looking photos. A dead girl in a white dress for promo use. Easter 2018, make up artist Ron George did my makeup and took photos in my backyard of me. Phil was so blown away by them, that he offered me the role of main/last flower. Phil kept using our photos for gathering crowd funding for the film. I was never given film dates, just random months of maybe shooting. I kept pushing the fundraisers and even had a backer put in $750 towards the film, in honor of myself and two other ladies being promoted in the film. September 19, 2019. I again checked in with Phil and asked if I was still filming. I was told yes. A few days later I saw Phil had posted that the movie was wrapped. He then messaged me and asked me to film tiny clips of myself dying, that he will edit and add into the film. I am upset that he lied to me, using my name and photos to raise money for the film and then just wanted me to film a few clips. So I took to my social media page to vent and that was when I opened a can of omg. Five other women including Mel Heflin  came forward with the same story as mine. We all just wanted answers and kept trying to get them. Why will Phil Stevens not answer us?”

Amber Burns image used for the Indiegogo campaign of Flowers 2

The following statement is from Mel Heflin :

I Think we have the right to a public apology. We were severely misled for a long time that this was a project we were heavily involved in. When the funding didn’t meet the goal we were all told privately that it was still okay. The project would simply take longer to film. Periodically Phil reached out to us to talk about filming, but suddenly out of no where we saw the project had wrapped. How can you wrap a project without letting your “stars” film? We don’t understand how you were filming a different movie than that was advertised while telling us not to worry, that we were still in, it doesn’t make sense. We feel used and lied to.”

Flowers 2 original cast line up. Featuring top row l-r CID Meredith, Mae Bell, Ali Ferda, and Grace Beauchamp. Bottom row l-r Jacqueline Dusza, Dani Bliss Gavit, Amber Burns and Whitney Causey Benson.

In April 2018 the original line up of actresses were announced of Flowers 2. They were Cidney Meredith, Mae Bell, Ali Ferda, Grace Beauchamp, Jacqueline Dusza, Dani Bliss Gavit, Amber Burns, Whitney Causey Benson and Mel Heflin (Heflin was not present in the original images but was named and did provide a ‘meet the stars’ video on Flowers social media).
Each actress conveyed excitement over these roles and Amber Burns discussed Flowers 2 in an interview with Pop Horror that very month, while Phil Stevens discussed his film with House of Tortured Souls own Candace Stone and I even did a piece on the Indiegogo campaign for my own personal blog Midi’s Horror Reviews. The indie horror Media was eating up this long awaited sequel with a spoon and couldn’t get enough.

That campaign however, failed to make its total goal by May 9th 2018. Flowers 2 first Indiegogo campaign made only 64% of its first goal, hitting $9590 of a desired $15,000. Stevens returned to the drawing board to modify his plans to accomodate the more restrictive budget.

Many of the actresses had provided still photographs and videos to help boost the campaign, but ultimately even that couldn’t help Flowers 2 reach its target.

By October of 2018, Stevens launched a second crowd funding campaign to raise completion funds. This time no casting was really discussed and fans perceived that  Stevens had gone at the original concept, with a slightly different idea. Again this campaign only reached 44% of its target goal, in the amount of $2230 of $5000.

Now to not over analyse the funding of this film, but we need to respect that the goals on both campaigns were never met. The total raised for Flowers 2 was only $11,820 of the much sought $20,000. That means the budget never exceeded 60% of what Stevens aimed to raise. That’s a shortfall of $8180.
However we look at the parties involved, no dispute needs to be dealt with in such a public manner. It is up to both sides of this disagreement to resolve their conflict privately. This would be more respectful of each other.


Whether the dispute arose from a simple miscommunication, lack of funds, or change of plans I am not liberty to say.  For the future, actors and actresses should be aware that they can develop their own independent contracts to help cement agreements with filmmakers. This is general knowledge and you can buy literature from local bookstores (yes a bookstore is as effective as Google) to help guide you in doing so.
Lastly, I will say to the horror community, support who you want to. I support both the filmmakers and the stars of the independent cinema world. I let their projects speak for themselves.
Please do the same.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Peifer in Categories, 0 comments
Ice from the Sun

Ice from the Sun

I had to wait a lot longer than I wanted to for Ice from the Sun. It’s fairly difficult to get in North America, but now that I’ve seen it I’m so glad I persisted. The film was really something special and Eric Stanze is a visionary director. I will be seeking out any and all of his other work.

Ice from the Sun is a gorgeous cosmic horror/arthouse film. Its storyline is ageless and intelligent. The film is independent and artistic in nature so in order to appreciate everything it has to say it requires patience and imagination, I feel that it’s worth it.

The story is an old as time tale of good versus evil. Demons, Angels, wizards, warlocks and human beings all fight for a foothold in this reality. An evil warlock named Aberdine takes ice from the sun to create an icy fortress for himself and his apprentice Abraham. In order to become his apprentice Abraham must perform an ultimate sacrifice to prove his worthiness, he must kill the woman he loves. He does so and remains by his masters side for many years in the fortress. Each year six humans are chosen to be transported to the fortress and killed, their souls trapped within the walls of ice for eternity. One day Aberdine chooses a new human apprentice and has Abraham locked away from reality. Abraham destroys Aberdine and the new apprentice and takes over, becoming the Presence. At the same time a young woman commits suicide but is kept from the afterlife by both angels and demons. She is chosen to destroy Abraham and is sent to his fortress with the next batch of six human sacrifices to end his existence.

Now take this epic fantasy storyline and throw in some gore, bondage, nudity, indie metal and you got yourself Ice from the Sun!

I found it got a bit long towards the end, but it was worth seeing through. It’s definitely more extreme arthouse than a gore film and I recommend it highly to fantasy and sci-fi lovers. There is absolutely nothing else like it. Check it out for a unique experience.

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
Memory: The Origins of Alien

Memory: The Origins of Alien

We’ve all seen the Alien movies and we either love them and want more, more, more or are sick to death of the franchise altogether. If you fit into the later category then this won’t be for you, on all accounts this is for the die hard fans that can’t get enough.

The documentary directed by Alexandre O. Philippe is an attempt to delve deeper into The origin behind Ridley Scott’s iconic aliens. The Xenomorph’s origin will be traced back to ancient Egyptian and Greek Mythology, underground comic books and the imagination of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger.

The initial reviews coming from Sundance film festival are somewhat vague, but all seem to agree there isn’t much new information. The film looks great and is a lot of fun, but nothing really new to present.

No official release date yet other than coming soon in 2019

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, COMING SOON, 0 comments
Summer of 84

Summer of 84

My initial feelings about Summer of 84 was this is Stranger Things the movie. It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that my opinion changed.

***This review will contain spoilers***

The film relies heavily on the nostalgia factor. The first shot is of 80s sneakers on the metal shin breaking pedals of a BMX bike. We get to reminisce about the fashions, the GI Joe walkie talkies, paper routes and simpler times. It’s almost a formulaic coming of age film that was heavily influenced by Stand by Me and The Losers Club (It). The characters are textbook, you have the geeky kid Curtis (Cory Guter-Andrew), the bad kid with a rough home life Tommy (Judah Lewis), the fat kid Woody (Caleb Emery), the smart kid Davey (Graham Verchere) and the girl next door Nikki (Tiera Skovbye from Riverdale). They each fit perfectly into a template.

The four outcast boys and the girl next door embark on a summer adventure together. A serial killer is on the loose in their town and they begin to put the clues together. Davey becomes convinced the killer is his neighbor a police officer named Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer). They begin following Mackey around, break into his shed and dig up his garden. They discover a bloody shirt that they believe belonged to one of the missing kids. They go to Davey’s parents with the evidence and his parents are  outraged and make the boys apologize to Mackey. Davey still believes Mackey is the killer and convinces the others to help him break into a locked room in Makeys basement and record evidence. Here they discover the body of one of the missing kids and save a boy who was being held captive. As they’re leaving, they notice all the pictures on the wall are of his victims and there is a picture of Davey’s family implying he was going to be the next victim. They go to the police and a manhunt is issued to find Mackey. Woody spends the night at Davey’s and Mackey shows up in the middle of the night to kidnap them. A couple of major holes in the story at this point, I feel are why the hell no police detail was put outside Davey’s home and why the fuck no one noticed all the victim’s pictures hanging in his house. What kind of experienced serial killer especially a cop keeps his trophies in plain sight?!

From the time they break into the basement the movies tone completely changes, it goes from being a fluffy adventure to Gacy’s basement. The movie flips a switch and it gets fucking dark. Up until this point I didn’t realize how invested in the characters I was. When Mackey kidnaps the boys, he takes them to the woods and hunts them. They discover a huge pile of bodies in various stages of decay and Woody says how he can’t die he has to take care of his mom. Davey heroically tells him to run for the car while he distracts Mackey. Mackey catches poor Woody and slits his throat. It’s graphic and it sits with you like watching your childhood friend die. I wasn’t prepared for it because up until 4 minutes ago I was watching a completely different movie. While I was still wrapping my head around Woody’s death, Mackey captures Davey and rather than killing him he tells him he wants him to think about him. He’s going to kill him one day, but until that day comes, he’ll always have to be looking over his shoulder waiting. The ending is Davey riding his bike through town, where we see Nikki leaving forever and Tommy and Curtis no longer appear to be his friend possibly resenting him for the death of Woody. He says “every serial killer is someone’s neighbor” roll credits and we’re left to digest what the hell just happened.

Overall, I’d say it’s a good movie. It’s not original in its characters or plot, but the tone was something fresh. I was lulled into a false sense of security before being smashed in the emotions.

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
Teratomorph – A Short Film By Joe Meredith

Teratomorph – A Short Film By Joe Meredith

I got the opportunity to screen the highly anticipated underground short film Teratomorph. The film is the sequel to Joe Meredith’s South Mill District. Although, it’s a sequel it could easily be a stand-alone film. It takes place in the same universe and has the same virus, but the characters and plot are much different. I do still recommend watching South Mill District for more background and because it’s a great film. In South Mill District we’re given a lot more information about the Havoc virus and Eon Corp. In Teratomorph we get to see more of the virus in action and witness the second outbreak.

The film starts out in a bleak seaside setting, a young boy (Elijah Meredith) looks out at a blood-soaked shoreline and pokes dead bodies with a stick. He makes his way through an empty city scavenging what he can before returning to his small hidey hole. His character reminds me a little of Newt (Aliens). He discovers that his arm is infected and, in an attempt, to save himself from the virus cuts off his hand, but it’s already too late. His arm grows into a grotesque, elongated limb that eventually develops a mind of its own and completely takes over his body turning him fully into a teratomorph.

Cidney Meredith makes an appearance in this one as Svetlana a soviet spy trying to steal a sample of the virus to use and sell as bio-weaponry (I assume). She extracts the virus and is quickly taken down by a full blown teratomorph spewing face melting acid, poor Cidney doesn’t last long in her husbands’ films!

You won’t recognize him, but Martin Trafford (indie artist) also plays a part in this one as the cyborg. I love the cyborg in this, it looks great and is reminiscent of Ash (Alien).

I loved South Mill District and was excited for this, but I really didn’t expect what this turned out to be. This was an obvious labour of love right down to the last slimy tentacle and fluorescent goo filled syringe. An amazing project put together by a family and group of friends. The film had no funding outside of their own pockets and still managed to look fucking incredible. Kudos to both James Bell and Joe Meredith for spectacular fx. The use of colour lighting and fluorescent fluids was ace and the creatures in this were birthed from an intelligent imagination. I especially loved the many headed beast and cyborg. I can’t wait for the next Havoc outbreak that I hope is being made into a third film…

You can buy South Mill District now and coming in February you can order a copy of Teratomorph. You can get them with special edition covers painted by Joe Meredith and hand numbered. You’ll be able to purchase it here

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, COMING SOON, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
Brutal

Brutal

Brutal by Takashi Hirose is one of the latest releases by Unearthed Films and it’s you guessed it… brutal!

Brutal is a beautiful story of love and connection, encased in gore and torture. Imagine searching your whole life to find that special someone who understands you, only to be disappointed again and again. Until one day you find them and it’s a glorious blood-soaked affair.

Chapter 1: The Man
The movie starts with a man, the Japanese version of John Everyman, as basic as he is complex. A sexually frustrated man, choosing chastity and self-denial. He has a room full of kidnapped women and before murdering them he asks each one “do you understand what I’m doing?”. He savagely beats and stabs them to death in a misguided attempt to save them or possibly purify them through suffering.

Chapter 2: The Woman
A beautiful woman uses her sexuality to lure men into her arms before killing them. Her character reminded me of a combination of Aileen Wuornos (notorious serial killer) and Gogo Yubari (Kill Bill) After killing each victim she asks herself if it’s ok, reassuring herself that she has done the right thing.

Chapter 3: Man and Woman
The showdown. The two meet and end up going to his place, she immediately realizes her error and a knife fight ensues. During the fight her clothing is cut off and reveals to the man that she has sewn up her genitalia and removed her nipples. It’s at this point that he knows that she gets it and does understand what he’s been doing and in fact has been doing it herself. The two begin to sob and embrace. While making love they stab each other repeatedly in a cathartic spurt of blood and pain. He apologizes for not being able to ejaculate inside her, but she tells him she can feel it inside her. The next morning only she awakes, finding that he died from his stab wounds in the night. The final scene is her discovering that their love created a life and she is pregnant.

Here’s what I especially liked about this one:
I loved the chapters and how everything overlaps and forms a clear picture at the end. The two characters come across the same people, visit the same places and face the same struggles. It was inevitable that their paths would cross.
I really enjoyed how both of the characters had such a casual reaction to killing and gore, it was commonplace and a necessary evil. Both were comfortable cloaked in the blood of others.
For me the best part of this movie was the love story. I enjoyed the gore and torture, but my favourite type of film is one that shows there is someone out there for everyone no matter how fucked up you are. Love finds a way.

Buy the Blu-ray from Unearthed Films here

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
HoTS Gets an Exclusive look at Hallowed Be Thy Name

HoTS Gets an Exclusive look at Hallowed Be Thy Name

Jonathan Patrick Hughes has done it again! Another great short film called Hallowed Be Thy Name. The short was picked up by Tales From The Grave and is featured at the end of season 2. Fans of Jonathan’s first short (S)AINT NICK, will be surprised at how different the two films are by comparison. (S)AINT NICK is heavily influenced by Rob Zombie and is a vulgar torture film with despicable characters. Hallowed Be Thy Name is a far more serious horror it’s roots deep in psychological terror.1

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a psychological slow burn, a tribute to noir films with obvious hints of David Lynch and The Twilight Zone. Hallowed Be Thy Name is cleverly written and seeks to scare us through dialogue and tricky word play. You will want to pay close attention to the names and what is being said. I actually had to watch it twice to get it.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a Halloween themed film, about a broken man Detective Sam Hayne (Tyler Manko). We learn that Halloween is a very important time for Sam and his family… at least it was until his wife and daughter went missing. Beside himself with grief and despair Sam resorts to some pretty extreme tactics to find his missing loved ones.

He kidnaps rookie nurse Octavia Burke (Alexis Polce Von Schwedler) and duct tapes her to a chair. It appears that everywhere Octavia goes she leaves a trail of death and destruction. While questioning Octavia, Sam starts mapping out where all her past “crimes” have taken place and a very clear pentagram pattern becomes visible (I liked this part very much) alluding to the occult and  witchcraft. It becomes obvious that Octavia is not the innocent bystander she claims to be, but exactly who she is or what is not as easy to figure out. I can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to the names and Octavia’s words is, this one is a certified mind fuck.

Be sure to check it out on Youtube within the next couple days or else you’ll have to wait until Screamtime Films LLC releases it in 2019. Click Here to watch!

 

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, HALLOWEEN, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Exclusive Interview with Lex Ortega

Exclusive Interview with Lex Ortega

I’m a huge fan of the film Atroz by Lex Ortega. In my opinion it’s one of the best extreme horror films made in the last 10 years… maybe ever. It’s unrelenting and brutal beyond imagining.  I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to talk with Lex Ortega about it and his future plans to make films.

  • HoTS:  Before making Atroz you were the mastermind behind Mexico Barbaro what made you decide to make Mexico’s first horror anthology movie? How was it received?
  • Lex: Actually I was on the metro and I was thinking what shortfilm should I do next? Then I realized there were a lot of directors thinking the same thing, trying to get their films on festivals, paying fees, trying to finance themselves their production, etc. So I got the idea to unite efforts and make an anthology, in this case we could get distribution, promotion for us as directors, in overall a better projection than a single shorfilm, and maybe have an economic retribution for our job. It had a great reception from the audience all over the world, we got distribution around 8 counties and Netflix America (all continent), and we were in around 50 festivals all over the world.
  • HoTSAtroz was insanely brutal, in the opening it says 98% of the 27,500 murders per year in Mexico go unsolved. Did you make the film as a social commentary, meant to shed light on the level of violence there or did you just want to make an extreme film? Personally, I respect both.
  • Lex: It started weird, at the beginning I just wanted to shoot a torture sequence with no credits and release it on the internet as a supposed “Snuff film”, then I realized a lot of talent was getting involved, as well as my savings that I was going to invest on it so I decided to make it an actual shortfilm (the first video tape you see on the feature), after it was done, I was getting censorship and lots of comments on how brutal this short was. THAT WAS A PUMP OF GAS FOR ME! and I said, I want to scream louder about these topics, then making the documentary investigation to create the profile of the main character (Goyo) I got into these hard numbers you mention, and I turned the story into a social critique to the institutions, from our first social contract that we have as individuals such as family, to the state, and politics that are supposed to be there to protect us as a society.
  • HoTS:  Is your movie an accurate portrayal of violence in Mexico?
  • Lex: In certain ways yes, we don’t have a specific record on serial killers like the US, and in my personal opinion that is because a lot of murders that happen in Mexico are attributed to the Narco, and there is no investigation about it.
  • HoTS: I imagine Atroz might be bad for tourism, how did the Mexican people receive it?
  • Lex: I don’t make tourism promotions, I do horror films so I really don’t mind. When must people watch Atroz they’re shocked, and that makes me happy for 2 reasons, the first one is that for me cinema has to make you feel something, it doesn’t matter the genre, if not, it means it is not working. And second and most important is seeing people freaking out watching violence tells me that we haven’t normalized violence yet, by the time we watch graphic violence and we feel nothing it means that we don’t have empathy for each other, then we will be rotten as a society.
  • HoTS: As a Canadian I was excited to learn you came here to go to a very prestigious school in Montreal. What made you decide to attend the Trebas Institute? How did you like your stay here?
  • Lex: Oh man Canada is very important for me, it means a lot in my life. I was living in beatiful Montreal studying Sound Engineering, How I got there? It was weird, I was studying the second semester of Civil Engineering at UNAM (the biggest university in Latin America) in 1999 it went on strike for over a year and a half, so obviously I couldn’t keep studying there, my dad told me I had to start over in a new university because it seemed like the strike was going to take forever, so I told my old man that I was going to start over but this time I wanted to study what my real passion is, and he goes: Ok, so where and what are you studying? I told him Sound Engineering, but that career didn’t exist in Mexico at that time so I started looking for schools around the world and a good friend of mine went on vacation to Canada from coast to coast and I asked him what was the city he liked the most and he said Montreal, so I applied to Trebas in Montreal and I got it.
  • HoTS: Atroz is presented by extreme horror legend and director of Cannibal Holocaust Ruggero Deodato, how did you manage to score such an amazing endorsement?
  • Lex: I meet Ruggero back in 2004 in Bogota, Colombia, me and the producer Abigail Bonilla were presenting Mexico Barbaro in a fest called Zinema Zombie Fest and Ruggero was also a guest from the festival.  We were promoting the crowd funding at that time so Ruggero helped fund it, but further than the economic help he gave us I wanted him to endorse the film.  We asked him if we could use his name on the promotional advertisement for the movie, at that time he was like: Ok, but I would like to see what it is about. When we finished the film we sent it over and he loved it and he said yes to our request and became an associate producer of the film.
  • HoTS: Do you have future plans to make more extreme movies?
  • Lex: Of course hermano!!!, personally I don’t want to do the same thing over and over, I am not interested to make things other than horror.
    The horror genre is huge and I would love to dig deeper into it, to other topics and subgenres, but I definitely like to tell stories in a violent way, where antagonists are not just bad, I want them to be real sons of bitches.
  • HoTS: What are some of the movies and directors that inspired you to get into film?
  • Lex: If I had to pick a top 3 I would say, Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Cannibal Holocaust.
  • HoTS: It’s my understanding that you are also a talented musician, what can you tell fans about your band?
  • Lex: I don’t know if I’m talented but I really love music, it’s very important in my life and career, that’s what made me start in the industry. It was music that made me decide to study Sound Engineering, then after working on a studio making sound design for films, that made me decide to grab a camera and shoot my first short film called “Devourment”.  I didn’t know how to direct a film at that time, all I knew was that my premise was: How do zombies hear us?, what if a human screams, sirens and helicopters are so loud and annoying for them, that they just want it to stop and attack to get it done?I started a band called “The Massacre Must Begin” with a couple of friends back in 2009 (Our album is on Atroz’s bluray that Unearthed Film released in the US), then we  broke up, some of them became parents, I guess our interests changed.Now, this week you will be able to hear my new band’s album on Spotify, Apple Music, Itunes and all the streaming platforms. We are called Belibette and we’re relasing our first LP calle 72 Huries, it’s a strong-in your face technical Grindcore. So go and listen to it!
  • Thank you very much for answering all my questions, I enjoyed your answers very much and look forward to watching the next disturbing film you make. I’d also like to thank John Roisland for setting up this interview and being our go between and just an all around good guy. Thank you both for the opportunity.
Posted by Candace Stone in BRUTAL REALITY, Categories, EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
Up Close and Personal with Stephen Biro

Up Close and Personal with Stephen Biro

In the world of horror there are many sub-genres ranging from the creature feature to the slasher. The hottest new trend on the rise caters to those who lust for gore and the extreme. The rise of extreme horror movies increases everyday with some attributes seeking to push the boundaries of sanity. House of Tortured Souls has the good fortune to sit down and chat with the man who has taken extreme horror by the reigns and made it his bitch, Mr. Stephen Biro! Join Candace Stone and John Roisland as we get the skinny from the godfather of extreme horror

  • 1. HoTS: First, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, we’re all huge fans of yours and Unearthed films. We know you’re a busy guy and appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. This past weekend was your birthday or “The day of the Biro” an event fans were really excited to partake in. How did you spend your special day?
  • Biro: Well… I actually checked a menu design for a future film, packaged orders and worked. Didn’t go out, no parties or cake. Now… I think the only thing I really missed was NOT getting a birthday blowjob. I miss those, but alas… being single does that.
  • 2. HoTS: The American Guinea Pig series is a huge success and fans are thirsty for more, is there a possibility of an Alien themed installment? It would be difficult to make a good alien on a budget, but it would be a damn shame to miss an opportunity to make a film with an extreme alien anal probing scene (that we can only hope it will have).
  • Biro: Were in talks… with a director/fx man you all know and love. The trick would be the alien design. We couldn’t half ass it… but we’re trying to figure some things out. Also figuring a Frankenstein sort of laboratory sort of thing I was pitched recently as well. It all takes time. Can’t tell you who would be involved as well cause it is another director/fx person we all know and love. Lot of love for our fx people cause if we’re going to try to outdo or match Bouquet of Guts and Gore and the rest in AGP… that’s some serious special effects.
  • 3. HoTS:  Extreme gore films are becoming more and more popular, each director is going to try and out extreme the competition but where do you personally draw the line when it comes to gore?
  • Biro: Me personally? My films, I don’t want rape, pee, poo, semen, ejaculate, vomit or really sexuel violence. I mean, I could do a massive sexuel violence film. I’ve always wanted to do the orgy scene from a little ole comic book called Faust. The satanic orgy scene in issue 10 would be outrageous… would need porn actresses and actors in it to pull it off. But that’s in the stuff I want to make. Now when other filmmakers do it…. they can go wherever they want, unless it like glorifies rape. I won’t touch that stuff. It all depends really. We have released our share of films I would never make. But then again, I have turned down films with a lot of poo. LOL
  • 4. HoTS: You’ve mentioned your Christian faith before, how does it affect the movies you choose to release? Does it prevent you from taking on certain types of films or are there certain types you just won’t touch?
  • Biro: Not much at all… I’m forgiven of my sins.  I won’t do real death videos because they are out there by the dozens. Profiting off of the misery of others is evil. I don’t even like the true crime stuff cause someone is making money off the death of innocents. We did release Cannibal but that was someone who volunteered to be eaten. Texas Chainsaw is loosely based on Ed Gein but it wasn’t using his name to sell it. I’ve seen plenty of movies based on serial killers… but I think it’s a hack sort of thing to be honest. Make money off the deaths of others… not my style. Now, back before I found my faith I did sell real death videos… so I am guilty on that account. I can understand when you’re young, interested in death and want to watch it, study it and know what death can be like cause we are ALL going to die but… not my style anymore.
  • 5. HoTS: Do you get negative feedback from others in the Christian church? How do you handle that?
  • Biro: I haven’t been to church in a long time… I’ve tried some churches, went to one were they were speaking in tongues and that just pissed me off actually. Went to a Catholic church once and listened to the priest bitch for 20 minutes at the congregation for not giving them 10% of their money so they can make this mega church even bigger, so that pissed me off as well. As you can tell, some churches piss me off. They’re usually corrupted in some sort of way. I’d like to find a cool church… I’ve read the Holy Bible 3 and a half times… should probably read it a bit more but I have a hard time finding a KJV that is actually a real KJV version. So many are not, sort of crazy. I had one, gave it to my Mom and she gave it to someone else. hopefully, it found a good home
  • .6. HoTS: Can we expect to see more out of print Chinese films in the future? What’s the biggest challenge in releasing them?
  • Biro: We hope so… hardest part is getting your hands on a print of any film. They didn’t bother to store them correctly so a lot of mold and they usually just threw them out after the theatrical run in China, and everyone is about the 2k or 4k scans.
  • 7. HoTS: You’re also an accomplished author having written several books; do you have any plans to write more? Check out Hellucination: A Memoir here
  • Biro: If I ever get the time. Moving into producing films takes a lot of time as well as Unearthed Films swallowing up a lot of time. I do enjoy screenwriting, not as heavy as writing a novel so that’s what I have been doing lately.
  • 8. HoTS: Every director will face their share of negative feedback, you have been praised for how well you handle it. You share all reviews good and bad which is commendable, but how does it affect you personally?
  • Biro: Sometimes, it’s like… you stupid mother fucker. I enjoy them though. Some people just can’t wrap their mind around making an indie film and they all think a film should be so polished and expensive, it shines so bright but sometimes, you can only polish a turd so much and it still stinks. But then again, everyone’s a critic these days. Some people know what we do, others don’t and if someone shits all over us… they usually didn’t buy the film. The worst reviews are usually people who stole the film. IMDB is full of them. IF you go out of your way to buy an Unearthed Film… you know what you’re in store for and you’re going to enjoy it.
  • 9. HoTS: A lot of young hopefuls come to you looking for advice and you tell them not to get into film, why is that? Was it a difficult road for you?
  • Biro: Mmmm, because it is a total shitty business. I’m going to sound like a total dick here BUT… it’s better to know what you’re getting into than going in all bright eyed and bushy tailed just to get eaten alive. People rip you off, all the time. People lose their ass all the time. Look at it this way. 95% of all films lose their ass, can’t even make their budgets back and I am talking ALL films worldwide. Even the studios lose their asses.. Now… lets just say, you went to film school. Spent 70 grand in tuition and now, know how to make a film. Say you pull it off. You made a real good film. Now what? Now you got to step into the film festival trap. 40 bucks, 60 bucks and even up to 100 bucks just to submit and hope they pick it up. You and about 200 other filmmakers, or 300, 400… 1000 others. Did you know there is over 8500 film festivals in the world right now? Did you market the film? Did you know what you were doing? Marketing and promotion is another side of the battle. What? You made a free Facebook page… now the distribution trap. Do you know anything about contract negotiations? Do you know anything about IFTA? Arbitration? IFTA Arbitration? Assignment for the benefit of creditors? Do you even know what Force Majeure is? Royalty payments? Marketing cap? Return reserve? Well, you’re going to sign a contract with all of this in it so you better know it. What about international sales to other territories? Do you have reps you can trust? Can you even find a rep and sign a contract that your not going to get screwed over? Well, all of the above I mentioned in that contract you’re going to sign to a company in the US will be for sure, in the contracts, if you ever get a chance for international sales to other countries. Do you know how to negotiate a deal? Know what’s fair? Know what is too expensive? Do you know that the industry is flooded and it is very hard to get noticed. Do you know which companies rip people off? I do… I know all of this and a ton more and they don’t teach this in school and not even in film school. These are the pitfalls of the business and it’s filled with sharks, piranha’s, gators and vultures. I’m not going to get into torrents and piracy. It’s called show business… it’s a business. If you don’t know the business side of it… then why am I going to tell anyone to get into it.I’ve been in the horror business for over 20 years total. Getting traction now. I have a distribution company, I know how to do my own international sales. I even know what to do when I am getting fucked. I got screwed out 1.4 million dollars our 3rd year of business and my partner has been in it for 40 years… and we still got screwed. I’ve sued other companies and had people try to rip me off with screenplays. I’m in the middle of suing a company right now for another filmmaker as we speak. It’s been a very difficult road but it’s a difficult road for everyone that is going to last in this business. I got horror stories man… make the hair stand on end. Now you can say… I am doom and gloom and you’re fucking right. But… I am being honest here… wouldn’t you want to know the pitfalls and truth of what you’re getting into rather than me saying, “Go for it man! Your going to make millions!” Or would you rather hear a veteran of the industry say, “You’re going to get fucked, watch your ass and this is what you look out for.”
  • 10. HoTS: During your recent Live Facebook video you mentioned a podcast, when and where can fans expect to hear it? Who will you be doing it with?
  • Biro: I’m working with Brad Slaton of the Picking Brains Podcast that is now defunct but still available to hear past episodes. He’s a great interviewer and sort of crazy like me. Well, exactly as crazy as me… but not really since he has been podcasting for a lot longer than me It will be just us, chatting away, talking about everything really. You would figure it would be horror based and it will be, a bit but it will be more of a crazy sort of thing. I don’t think anyone will actually be ready for it. It’s a bit more entertainment but devious, fucked up that’s going to offend a lot of people. Well, normal people. Were going to see where it goes… It’s called… Stephen and Brad… The Podcast. Should be crazy interesting to say the least… it’s happening very soon, sooner than you think
  • HoTS: Thank you again Stephen, for this awesome interview. we appreciate your honesty and candor and enjoyed your answers immensely. Best wishes to you and everyone at the Unearthed family.
Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, EXCLUSIVE, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
Housewife

Housewife

After watching Housewife by Turkish director Can Evrenol  (Baskin) two things are apparent, one this is definitely not Baskin and two this is a far more serious attempt at filmmaking. I love Baskin and went into Housewife expecting something similar, while I was mildly disappointed to find it was completely different I was also impressed with the stark contrast in style. It should be noted that I usually watch and review extreme cinema and that is where my passion lies, but I want to give my best unbiased opinion on this one. 

Housewife starts in the childhood home of our main character Holly. The opening scene is Holly and her sister Hazel playing until Hazel gets her first period. Holly scared and not understanding what is happening screams for their mother (Defne Halman) an over zealous fanatic who whisks Hazel away quickly to “tend” to her. A great tragedy befalls the family that night resulting in loss of life and repressed memories.

Now fast forward to adulthood filled with regret, mediocre sex and an unhealed past. Holly (Clementine Poidatz) not fully recovered from the events that took place so many years ago still experiences it’s lingering effects. Things change quickly when a long lost friend Veronica (Alicia Kapudag), resurfaces in the lives of Holly and her Husband (Ali Aksoz). Veronica claims she has been changed and asks the couple to attend a seminar with her. Although somewhat reluctant the two attend a cult like seminar hosted by charismatic leader Bruce O’hara (David Sakurai). Claiming he can enter peoples dream mazes. O’hara singles out Holly referring to her as the one. Holly accepts his invitation to help her and that’s when shit gets weird… Up until this point the film has been a slow burner, grey and bleak feeling, interspersed with intensely sexual moments including a sizzling threesome and self loathing masturbation. Once O’hara enters Holly’s dream maze, colour pops, reality becomes difficult to separate from dream and brutal gore ensues. There isn’t a ton of gore in this one, but we do see a nice glimpse into Evrenol’s love of it. 

Without spoiling the end I can tell you that it’s distinctly Lovecraftian in nature and feels like not enough. It’s not enough because you don’t want it to end right where it does, you try to will it into taking you there, and to push a little further, but it’s also better left alone to make you wonder what happens next.

My biggest disappointment with this film was that it omitted a lot of the Turkish charms that Baskin had, opting to use English over Turkish and using a more American feeling backdrop. A lot of amazing horror films are coming out of Turkey and I personally enjoy them for being different.

Overall the film is unique and well made and from a non-extreme horror movie perspective I’d say it’s a solid 4/5.

 

Posted by Candace Stone in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, THRILLER, 0 comments
The Official Albert Fish Tour

The Official Albert Fish Tour

Albert Fish was an American serial killer. He was a child rapist and a cannibal, boasting he had killed 100 children “one in every state”.  I’ll be taking a look at America’s only official Albert Fish tour and the man behind it, Michal Bajer. I first met Michal Bajer in my favourite and in my opinion the best group on Facebook The Holy Mountain: Dr. Caligari’s Cult Movie Utopia (join group here:  I was fascinated with his personal story and felt it was beautiful and important. I was also very curious to learn more about his tour. He agreed to give me the details of the tour and the reasons why he started it in a candid fashion.

 

        • HoTS: Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me, I understand this interview will be somewhat personal in nature. Can you please tell us what the tour entails?
        • Michal: Of course! The tour entails 2 main stops: Wisteria Cottage in which Albert Fish committed his most infamous (though certainly not his most despicable crime) as well as his burial grounds at Flushing Cemetery. There are plans to expand to other areas in the NY area such as the former residence of the Budd’s, but this is permitting time allowance. During the tour, I tell the guests (since it is a long car ride) the detailed autobiography of Albert Fish, as well as allow them to view memorabilia related to Albert such as books, films, curio tidbits and actual case photographs from the time period.
        • HoTS: Why did you choose Albert Fish?
        • Michal:This is going to be a long answer, so please bear with me! My fascination, if you will, with Albert began in my earliest years. I was and am to this day a tremendous history buff. The less than savory aspects of history, especially American, intrigued and tantalized me to no end as I poured over countless stories of wicked men and women. It was a natural progression from the gunmen and outlaws of the West to the mobsters and gangsters of Chicago, to finally discover the world of serial killers. The first book I ever read on the matter was called “Serial Killer Encyclopedia” by Harold Schechter and it contained numerous criminal cases that I found both intriguing and tantalizing. However, the only case which piqued both my absolute revulsion and curiosity was that of Albert Fish. I thought at first it was an exercise in horror-writer one-upsmanship. Surely, no individual could have committed acts so vile and so close in my state? From there on, the ball eventually started rolling as I began to acquire more and more data on his life and deeds. No horror film, story or fictional piece of media ever, truly chilled me as much as his life did. Proving that life is the author of the most bizarre stories.
        • HoTS: How did you decide to start doing the tour?
        • Michal:This too has a tale. I grew up fascinated and an ardent reader of Weird NJ. Embarking on the road less traveled seemed to me almost a beckoning call, the proverbial moth to the flame if you will. Over time, I became interested in places that possessed an acute and uncanny history. I promised myself I would visit these places and if possible, spread the information and experience with others! Accumulating all this knowledge, while self fulfilling, isn’t nearly as gratifying as having the chance to share it with others. It took me a whole 6 months of planning, mapping out areas and fine tuning details to make sure it was, above all, an informative and dare I say educational experience. I looked at the way essentially people handled the Dahmer tour in Milwaukee and said “I want the complete opposite of that. Less theatrics, more history”. As of now, I charge nothing as it has mainly been what I consider a series of test runs. Next year, I plan to visit Wisconsin and hit up both Dahmer’s and Gein’s haunts. Then I will plan accordingly and charge. However, since this is a one man operation I have no intention of overcharging or fleecing the people who come. My intention is too make enough money to cover the costs of the current tour, and hopefully have a little left over that can go DIRECTLY into the very next one. This is a passion project, above all. My desire to share knowledge comes first, my capitalist ambitions come second, so I make a better tour guide and historian than businessman I’m afraid.
        • HoTS: How can people take the tour?
        • Michal:The beginning tours were personal invite only, but I am changing that very soon! A website will be open very soon and until then, it is best to contact me through my Facebook until I figure out exactly what social media I want to use in the future. I am a member of a few true crime groups on FB as well, so be on the lookout for posts from me in the meantime!
        • HoTS: At one point you were close to suicide, but you have stated that your love of extreme films and serial killer trivia saved your life. Can you share how?
        • Michal:It should come maybe as now small shock that I didn’t always have the most positive outlook on life and did attempt suicide a 2nd time over a year ago. A lot of personal turmoil was apparent in my life and I was very close to ending it all. Surprisingly, what offered me the most comfort and understanding was the film Melancholie Der Engel by Marian Dora, perhaps the only film that ever truly resonated with me and moved me to the nth degree. I owe Marian Dora a lot, and after I went voluntarily into therapy, I decided I needed to focus on a goal. Ironically enough, subjects dealing with death opened up a new avenue of life and inspiration for me.
        • Hots: Thank you again for your time, your story resonated with me he first time I heard it and I am excited to share it with others. Hopefully one day I’ll get to take the tour myself.
Posted by Candace Stone in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, BRUTAL REALITY, Categories, EXCLUSIVE, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

Joe Meredith's Teratomorph - Coming Soon / Fair use doctrine.After watching the short film South Mill District by Joe Meredith, I said to myself, “Holy shit! That was awesome and why aren’t more people talking about this guy?” If I was capable of and ever wanted to make a film, this is what I would aspire to make. Luckily for me, Joe is a super nice guy and was willing to chat with me about the making of his first film and his upcoming sequel Teratomorph.

House of Tortured Souls: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me and discuss your films. Where did you get the idea for South Mill District? It’s a huge and detailed plot. Was it something you had been formulating for years?
Joe Meredith: It’s actually a continuation of a narrative world I developed as a kid and into my teen years. All of the things like the “alien war” that the character Drennan talks about in the movie actually exist in a shoebox I have under my bed that has comics and sketches and short stories and things I did over a period of years. Recently, I noticed that elements from those stories have been creeping back into my drawings and newer writings, so when I got the nerve up to make a movie, I decided to make it a return to that old saga, which is why the movie is probably really confusing to a lot of people because it has this detailed backstory that nobody really knows but me.

HoTS: I loved the use of lighting in the film and the camera work was so crisp. Did you go to film school?
JM: I never went to film school. I used to make short movies with friends growing up. As a kid, I always had a camera, and no matter how ridiculous the movie ideas were, I was always serious about it. The lighting in South Mill District was all about separating it from a realistic look and making it more like a comic book or cartoon, where the colors in the lighting provided the atmosphere.

HoTS: The FX and gore were also really fun. I especially liked the scene where Cidney Meredith pukes up her intestines. Was it weird “killing” your wife on camera even though you knew it was fake?
JM: I owe it to her for encouraging me to step back into filmmaking after many years of not wanting to do it. She was a trooper about some of the gross things she had to endure, and if I had a director’s cut released, you would see that she went even more savage than throwing up intestines. It was all a process of getting the scene right, so I never felt a moral dilemma from her death sequence. There were probably some moments of anxiety for her, but with me, she was always safe doing whatever scene needed to be done. The more realistic gore FX like the intestines and the heads that the spiders crawl on were all created by James Bell, whose own movies were a huge influence for me to make movies again.

HoTS: The creatures and spiders were the best part of this film by far. Did you make them all yourself? I also loved the stop-motion technique used but have heard it’s a long and slow process. How did you find it?
JM: I made all of the stop-motion puppets myself, and then James Bell created the human gore FX. The alien creature suit used at the end of the movie was made by Toby Johansen. As a kid, I did stop motion videos with action figures. It was much easier to do it with a video camera than the way I did with South Mill District, which was with photographs. The stop-motion could’ve been better, and technically, I didn’t do it the “right” way, but I think it worked for what was needed. The spiders were definitely supposed to be a focal point for South Mill District, and then its sequel is more about the mutations caused by the infectious venom of the spiders.

HoTS: You’re a fantastic artist, and fans of Phil Stevens will recognize your work on the covers of his films. Do you sell your work or have any plans to in the future?
JM: Thank you. I knew Phil as an artist-illustrator himself before I even knew he was a filmmaker, and we started out gushing over each other’s illustrations, so when he wanted me to do art for his movies, I was really enthusiastic to do it. I don’t sell art usually, but I will at some point soon.

HoTS: I actually learned about South Mill District after seeing posts about its sequel Teratomorph. There has been a lot of hype in the Indie community about it. What can you tell us about it?
JM: Teratomorph is a sequel, but it can also stand alone. It takes place in a more rural area outside of the South Mill District and shows an evolution of the alien virus caused by the spiders. It stars my 8-year-old son Elijah, who plays as a vagrant kid who is infected by the virus, and its effects are unique in comparison to what was seen in South Mill District. It has some creatures that I hope are going to be really cool for people who are fans of creature movies.

HoTS: what’s the hardest part of being an Indie film director for you? Why did you choose to go into such a difficult field?
JM: Mostly just working from nothing is the hardest part, but then again that’s not so fair to say because I have friends and talented people who are all willing to contribute to my projects in any way they can. And that’s something I’m very grateful for. I love creating things. I don’t think I’ve chosen filmmaking as the ultimate means of making things. It’s just a cool outlet I have to work with.

HoTS: Do you have any plans in the future to make feature-length films? Or will you continue to make more shorts?
JM: Yeah, I think I’ll do a feature at some point, especially if I have an idea that I can’t resist turning in to a feature film. And I know I’ll also continue short films as long as I think maybe it’s something other people haven’t seen before.

Art by Joe Meredith / Image: Joe MeredithHoTS: You have such a unique style. What films and directors have inspired you?
JM: I’d have to say among my picks for greatest movies of all time are John Carpenter’s The Thing and James Cameron’s Aliens. Cronenberg’s The Fly is also up there in the greats for me. Video games like Resident Evil also fuel ideas for me. James Bell is an outstanding filmmaker in the Indie realm, and his movies are something I hold in high esteem because the vision he presents is something truly individual. And any other movies that explore surreal ideas are a plus for me. That’s actually a hard question because I could go on and on about all the movies and directors that have blown my mind.

HoTS: Where can people buy your films and when can we expect to see Teratomorph?
JM: Teratomorph will be done soon. I think it could be available by the year’s end if not early in 2019. South Mill District is gonna be available again soon, and Teratomorph will also be available in the same place which is at http://joemeredithart.storenvy.com.

HoTS: Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview! I really enjoyed your answers and look forward to what I expect will be great things from you.

Posted by Candace Stone in INTERVIEWS, 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: South Mill District (2018) (Short)

REVIEW: South Mill District (2018) (Short)

South Mill District is a short film by Joe Meredith. It’s his directorial debut and runs about 25 minutes. He does everything himself including write, film, produce, FX, act, and direct. Simply put: I loved this film. It was an amazing little shocker with tons of class and art.

In a world ravaged by an alien attack, we follow two post-apocalypse survivors Drennan (Joe Meredith) and Luci (Joe’s wife, the lovely Cidney Meredith). After the alien invasion, the EonCorp started experimenting with the havoc virus and used alien DNA in spiders to create a symbiotic relationship between the infected spiders and humans. The infected spiders consume and distort their human hosts until the regeneration process is complete. The EonCorp keeps the infected human hosts and mutant spiders contained in the South Mill District under quarantine.
South Mill District (2018) / Fair use doctrine.
For a first film and an Independent film, South Mill District is an ambitious project. The premise is a bit convoluted, and the film doesn’t have the luxury of a Hollywood budget, but it has a lot of heart. You can see and feel the amount of love that went into the making of this film. It’s beautifully shot in an excellent location that really captures the desolate post-apocalypse feel. The camera work is top-notch, and I adored the use of colored lighting.

What stands out the most is Joe’s artwork and the incredible creatures in this film. The use of stop motion to bring handmade aliens, spiders, fetuses, and other bizarre paper mâché creatures to life in this is gorgeous. Each creature is uniquely detailed, and you can see the painstaking care that went into each one. The crawly, bloody sound effects also help bring them to life, and the creatures definitely have a “Thing” vibe to them that fans will easily recognize.
South Mill District (2018) / Fair use doctrine.
Some of the highlights of South Mill District include Luci puking up her intestines, a walking brain, and many stop-motion spiders eating their hosts or emerging from the human wreckage.

I was really stoked to learn there is an upcoming sequel called Teratomorph, and I will keep everyone posted as I learn the details and watch out for my upcoming interview with Joe Meredith.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice is the debut film by Italian director Poison Rouge and the fourth installment in the series. It was produced by Domiziano Cristopharo (Red Krokodil) and released by Unearthed Films.

You would have trouble discerning that this was Rouge’s first film because it’s artfully shot, well researched and beautifully made. Take a look at the trailer before we continue.

American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice follows a young man named Daniel (Roberto Scorza) who returns to his childhood home where a trauma took place. We are not given the details of the incident that happened, but we can guess by Daniels’s emotional and physical scars that it was tragic and took its toll on his psyche. Daniel’s body is covered with self-harm scars and he hears voices. Throughout the film, he speaks in his mind to the Goddess Ishtar (Flora Giannattasio) of personal sacrifices and an end to the pain.

At the beginning of the film, Daniel goes into the bathroom with a backpack, he lights thre white candles unpacks some tools and goes to town on himself.

This is where the film earns it’s Guinea Pig status; it has all the violence and brutality that you would expect and hope for. He starts by cutting a huge vagina-like gash in his hand, and while he’s licking it, you see flashes of cunnilingus being performed. He moves on to trepanning or boring holes into his skull. I was reminded of Andrey Iskanov’s Nails at this part (I wonder if Rogue is also a fan?) He then violently removes a toenail, and I confess I suffered through this part. Nails and compound fractures get me every time! He moves on to extreme penis mutilation by inserting a screwdriver into his urethra. I commend the FX team on the most realistic looking penis prosthetic ever used in both the mutilation and castration scene. In the end, he finally eviscerates himself in the bathtub and bleeds out. After he recedes under the surface of the bloody water, Ishtar emerges.

On the surface, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice may just seem like a tight little torture/body horror, but I believe it’s much more than that. I feel that the Goddess Ishtar was well researched and even the casting was done intentionally to line up with her mythos. Scorza has a very androgynous quality to him and ends up transforming into a woman. Ishtar is said to have transformed men into women and is associated with androgynous people and hermaphrodites, and Daniel carves an eight-pointed star — a symbol of Ishtar — into his forehead. Both the flashbacks and his death are in water also associated with Ishtar. I love a film that knows its shit and hides Easter eggs throughout.

For this excellent film and incredible debut 5/5 shocks

Pre-order your copy of American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice at Unearthed Films today!
Posted by Candace Stone in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
DOC REVIEW: Orozco the Embalmer (2001)

DOC REVIEW: Orozco the Embalmer (2001)

Orozco the Embalmer (2001) / Fair use doctrine.Orozco the Embalmer is a frank documentary made by Japanese director Kiyotaka Tsurisaki and following  Columbian embalmer Froilan Orozco.

I, myself, pursued a career as an embalmer; I thought of it as a caregiving job. No matter what level of kindness someone was shown in life, this is a final chance to be shown love and care before your soulless body is placed back into the earth. Every care and effort should be put into preserving the body and its previous occupant’s dignity. This movie isn’t that…

Orozco the Embalmer (2001) / Fair use doctrine.If you are a true crime or real gore fan, then you will enjoy this, but if you are looking for answers or peace of mind, you will not. This film is more about extreme poverty and one man’s compassion than it is about embalming or death.

Orozco the Embalmer takes place in one of the poorest parts of Columbia with one of the highest crime rates. Death is commonplace and bodies are found around every corner and down every alley. The dead and murdered are stripped and examined in the street in front of onlookers — including children. Many of them would be left to rot if not for one man: Froilan Orozco.

Orozco the Embalmer (2001) / Fair use doctrine.The embalming process in this film isn’t really embalming, at least not as we know it here. It’s more like stuffing using what’s on hand, MacGyver embalming if you will. It’s actually in some ways closer to older methods of taxidermy. Little care is shown to the bodies as they’re handled roughly, gutted, stuffed with plastic bags or dirty rags, and hastily sewn back up. It’s a very different process than you would see in North America where it’s done in a way that’s as non-invasive as possible. A needle is inserted into a major artery, and chemicals are pumped through the veins pushing the blood out. The body doesn’t need to be opened up unless an autopsy is performed. Orozco’s compassion isn’t for the dead but for those they left behind. He performed the procedure for families with little or no money, the families often unable to pay, so they could rest knowing their loved ones received a proper burial.

Orozco the Embalmer (2001) / Fair use doctrine.Orozco embalmed more than 50,000 bodies before his death. He died during the making of the film from complications of a hernia caused by lifting too many bodies.

What I liked about Orozco the Embalmer was that it was raw. A look into the third world and the callousness of life. Imagine living in an environment where death is so commonplace that life loses its meaning. The film was beautiful and cathartic in its own dispassionate way.

Be warned that it does deal with real death and violence including woman and children. It’s honest and completely uncensored.

5/5 shocks for this glimpse into death

Posted by Candace Stone in DOCUMENTARIES, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Rampo Noir (2005)

MOVIE REVIEW: Rampo Noir (2005)

Rampo Noir (2005) is a Japanese arthouse, horror film, based on the works Kagami-jigoku (The Hell of Mirrors) (1926), Mushi (Insect) (1929), Imomushi (The Caterpillar) (1929), and Kasei no Unga (The Martian Canals) (1926) by Edogawa Rampo. It’s sort of like a modern-day Kwaidan. Although it does deal with some extreme themes and has horror elements, I wouldn’t classify it as either. It’s a bizarre, slow-moving arthouse through and through. The film is an anthology and features four segments by four different directors.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The first segment is entitled “Mars Canal” by Takeuchi Suguru. This segment has no dialogue and actually almost no audio at all other than one brief period of loud shrieking sound. The entire segment is only about 7 minutes long in total making it the shortest of the four. It’s a lot of violent, silent, nudity. The silence somehow heightens the beauty of the imagery and although it was short, I really enjoyed this one.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The next segment is called ”Mirror Hell” by Akio Jissoji. This one was probably my least favorite out of the four. It combines the stories of a bunch of women attending a tea ceremony school a traditional Japanese mirror maker and a group of detectives. Many of the women in the school fall in love with the mirror maker and they are killed one by one in a bizarre manner. The story is about jealousy, betrayal and becoming our own god. Lots of beautiful imagery and a great idea for a story but it ended up being painfully slow and fell flat for me.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The third segment is called ”Caterpillar” by Hisayu Sato and is probably the most extreme of the three. It’s about a soldier who comes back from war a hero but horribly disfigured. He’s missing his limbs and can really only wiggle and drool. His wife still loves and cares for him calling him her “caterpillar”. It watches like Japanese fetish porn and has some unconventional sex scenes… that’s all I’ll say about that.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The final segment is called ”Crawling Bugs” by Atsushi Kaneko was my favorite of the bunch. After the dull lighting of the first three, the color enthusiast in me rejoiced at the vivid pallet in this one. However, while the color and style in this one pop it’s quite boring to watch beyond that. Basically, we follow a fashion model and her relationship with an artist who is obsessed with germs. He ends up killing her and dismembering her corps and turning her into a human corpse doll. It sounds far more interesting than it actually was.

I recommend this to arthouse film buffs and the seekers of the strange/obscure, but if like me you’re seeking out extreme or fast-paced art this won’t be for you.

2.5/5 shocks for this film Rampo Noir

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Lure (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lure (2015)

The Lure (2015)The Lure (2015) by Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska is a retelling of The Little Mermaid and should be sought out by every and all obscure, foreign, horror and arthouse film lovers. It’s a dazzling, glitzy punch to the eyeballs. It’s one movie that is every bit as good as the trailer and then some. I should point out that I have a mermaid fetish and this film has become my new favorite thing in life.

Full Disclosure: The Lure is a musical. If that’s a deal breaker, please exit the review now.

It is, in fact, a musical but it’s a sexy, disco, mermaid horror with tons of erotic and emotional appeal.

Spoilers!!!

The Lure (2015)Two mermaid sisters, Silver and Golden, lure men from the beach for food. One night they get adopted by their would be meal: a sleazy nightclub band. Through a bizarre set of circumstances, they end up joining the act. Just like in Splash, once they’re out of water, they form legs… but have no genitalia or ass crack “smooth as a Barbie”. Silver and Golden perform nightly at the club and become popular fast. Everyone wants them. Silver falls in love with one of the band members, Mietek, while Golden yearns to be back in the sea.

Ultimately, they are still animals and Golden resorts to old animal instincts and kills a club patron. Golden meets Triton, another creature of the sea, who warns her of a terrible fate: if a mermaid falls in love with a man and he marries someone else, she must eat him before dawn or she will turn to sea foam.

As Silver’s love for Mietek grows, she decides to get a tail-ectomy/leg transplant in order to satisfy him sexually. After the comical operation — she’s kept on ice like a fish in the market during surgery — there are complications, and Silver and Mietek are still unable to copulate. He falls in love with someone else and marries her. On the night of the wedding, Silver is unable to kill him and decides to turn to foam in his arms instead. Stricken with grief, Golden tears out his throat and returns to the sea.
The Lure (2015)
A beautiful love story, and a tragic tale of humans exploiting animals.
Some of the highlights include:

  • hot mermaid on girl sex scene
  • fish hole fingering
  • killer mermaids
  • Rad Polish disco music
  • glitter

The Lure (2015)

5/5 glamourous shocks for The Lure

Posted by Candace Stone in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: 964 Pinocchio (1991)

MOVIE REVIEW: 964 Pinocchio (1991)

964 Pinocchio (1991) is a Japanese cyberpunk film by Shozin Fukui. The experience is somewhat indescribable and it’s one of those films you just have to “go with” and not overthink.

The first 30 seconds or so of the film really reach out and grab you because a lot is happening… a three-way in a hospital to be precise. The male participant – Pinocchio is a memory-wiped sex slave that has been mentally and physically altered. He is thrown out of the facility after he fails to hold a lasting erection.

As he’s wandering aimlessly through town, he stumbles across Himiko, a homeless street artist. He indicates to her that he’s hungry (he can’t talk at this point), and she takes him under her wing. What we don’t know at this point is that Himiko has also been mind-wiped and altered.

The two begin to undergo a simultaneous transition. Pinocchio appears to be melting and convulsing. Himiko flees and vomits up everything she’s ever eaten. This is probably the longest puke scene in a movie I’ve ever watched. More just keeps coming up in large piles that are the consistency of wet house insulation. She lays on top of it, runs her fingers through it, and then rolls in it and eats it. When Himiko returns, Pinocchio is lying in the center of a circle of what I can only presume is his guts.

Himiko turns on Pinocchio and chains him up. She informs the sex company of his whereabouts. He breaks free and drags the cinder block he’s chained to through town until he reaches the lab. He kills his tormentors, and both he and Himiko evolve into weird, big, rubber-headed creatures. His last line is that everything all makes sense now. Maybe to him it does, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered to the audience.

I liked this movie a lot despite its flaws and its tendency to draw certain scenes out to the point of being annoying. It also doesn’t make a ton of sense, not just because it’s weird but because it establishes certainties and then goes against them without explanation or reason.

I give it 3/5 shocks. You can order a copy cheap from Unearthed or watch it free on Youtube.

Posted by Candace Stone in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

MOVIE REVIEW: Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

Shogun’s Sadism (1976) by Yuji Makiguchi is a really fun, Japanese, exploitation, period piece.

First, let me just tip my hat to the Japanese on their unparalleled ability to torture and cause human suffering, no one does it better than Japan.

Shogun’s Sadism starts with old stock footage of war atrocities and the first shot is of a girl being boiled alive… it doesn’t mess about. It’s scene after scene of intense torture with brief explanations of the “crimes” committed and the form of torture being used.

The film features two different stories that take place during the Edo period in Japan (between 1603-1868). Although the film is fictional it does mirror actual forms of torture and beliefs held during that time period.

The first story is of a young woman named Toyo who saves the life of Lori, a Samurai, by sucking the poison out of a snake bite for him. She brings him to her family home and cares for him, and the two fall in love. It’s later discovered that Toyo and her family are Christians and must be executed. During the Edo period, Christians were tortured until they confessed and often killed for choosing Jesus over the Shogunate (feudal military government). When Toyo is brought before the government for her crimes Lori does nothing as he watches her be raped and abused repeatedly and then kept as a personal concubine by his superior. Toyo suffers many horrible injustices and eventually Lori and her escape only to be brutally killed.

The second story, while still good, is definitely a bit more silly or comedic. It takes place in a brothel where a young man claiming to have a rich family turns out to be poor and unable to pay his bill. In order to pay off his debts, he has to stay and work at the brothel for a year. He falls in love with one of the girls and after witnessing a forced abortion and then the death of one of the other girls, he decides to escape with her. The two become petty criminals and are eventually caught. He’s killed, and she’s sold back into prostitution.

In case you aren’t convinced of the brutality here are some of the things you can expect to see:
SPOILERS!!!!

  • human branding
  • stake burnings and spearing
  • snake pit torture
  • rape, including double penetration gang rape
  • forced abortion
  • beheading
  • castration
  • And my personal favourite execution by bulls pulling a woman’s limbs off.

4/5 historically accurate shocks for this film

Posted by Candace Stone in BRUTAL REALITY, REVIEWS, 0 comments