independent horror film

Haley Jay Madison: Scream Queen Spotlight

Haley Jay Madison: Scream Queen Spotlight

If you are a fan of the independent horror scene, you have probably already heard of Haley Jay Madison. The up and coming actress has been paying her dues in Indy horror over the last several years, and in 2015 she was named After Dark Films' Screen Queen to Die for. She's a busy actress, but she took the time to do an interview by email with us here at House of Tortured Souls. We are honored to get the chance to chat with Haley Jay Madison, and hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. Thanks, Haley!


House of Tortured Souls: How old were you when you decided to be an actress?
Haley Jay Madison: I had not really planned on being an actress until it actually fell in my lap. I was 19 at the time, so I guess that would be the age at which I decided to be an actress. I was told a lot growing up that I could model and that I had a spark, but I never saw it until I started making movies. I found my spark by happenstance, and I'm really glad I was given all the opportunities that allowed me to get where I am!

Haley Jay loves it bloody

HoTS: How did you first get involved with acting?
HJM: Like I previously mentioned, I stumbled across acting by coincidence when I was 19. I decided to get a tattoo from a mutual friend of mine and he asked me if I wanted to be in his movie. I ended up starring in and producing a feature film with him. I came to find out I had a natural talent for acting and filmmaking. After that I started going to horror conventions and my career ballooned from there!

HoTS: What drew you to the horror genre versus other types of film?
HJM: I've always had an affinity for scary movies, and after making one I discovered all the fun involved with the process. Once I started going to conventions, meeting people and making friends, I knew the community was unlike any other. I fell in love with the genre because I fell in love with the filmmakers, actors, and fans of horror films. I couldn't be more lucky to have met and worked with the people I have in recent years and on movie sets.

HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster or subgenre, aka zombie, vampire, slasher, etc?
HJM: I don't discriminate against any subgenre, so I love zombie movies as much as vampire movies, I've played a werewolf character before so I have a soft spot for those kind of movies. I love a good slasher, too, an iconic evil character and gory kills make for the best kind. I will say a good horror comedy can really make my day. I have yet to play a vampire or zombie, so I hope someday I can add those to my resume and grow more appreciation for the characters.

HoTS: You mentioned conventions. Any favorites or memorable convention experiences?
HJM: I love horror conventions! They are some of my biggest highlights of the year. I go to Horrorhound, Days of the Dead, and Cinema Wasteland all throughout the year. My favorite memories fom conventions are when movies I am involved in are screened. It's always an amazing experience to see my projects revealed to the world and to watch an audience react to something I worked so hard on. Eat It Up, Headless, CarousHELL, and Hunters have all been screened at conventions. Other than the screenings, I love all the people I get to meet, and the fans are the best people. Seeing how others support me and stay interested in my work is a very memorable experience.

HoTS: Where can we see your work? Are your films available on DVD? VoD?
HJM: I have movies available all over the place, for VoD and DVD. I personally have copies of Haunted House on Sorority Row, Scarewaves, Headless, and Babysitter Massacre and am selling them via Paypal. I take orders through social media and email. There is also Hunters through Massacre Video, CarousHell from its own website, Kill That Bitch from Dustin Mills Productions, Chopping Block through Amazon.com. Eat It Up and Onlooker are available to stream on Vimeo.com.

HoTS: Do you have a fan page, Twitter, or Instagram where your fans can connect with you?
HJM: I mainly use my Facebook and Instagram for both personal and professional use. I prefer to use Instagam for posting and updates and Facebook for personal communication. You can look for me as@haleyjayhorror or just my name Haley Jay Madison. I prefer to deal with bookings and work through my email address: haleyjayhorror@gmail.com

HoTS: Are you working on anything right now?
HJM: I don't have any projects in motion right now, but my gears are always winding and I'm always on the lookout for more work. I'm currently waiting on a ton of projects to finish with post-production and be released. I am so excited for what the future brings and when I get to see all the films I have helped make in the past couple years. Since I have nothing major booked, I've been trying to concentrate more on modeling and photography.

Haley Jay Madison

HoTS: What're your pastimes outside of acting/filmmaking?
HJM: I do have a few hobbies outside of filmmaking like getting crafty, cooking, and watching movies of course! In the past few weeks, I've done my fair share of sewing after receiving a piece of clothing that was awesome but way too big! I sewed the image onto a sweatshirt that fit and added a few patches and pins. I also have been playing around with baking and cooking, with Thanksgiving coming and going. I try and watch as many movies as I can, and Hulu has been a new outlet for me to find some new flicks. My most recent viewing was The Voices with Ryan Reynolds and let me tell you, it was a good watch!

HoTS: Besides acting, you're also a producer. Do you want to direct someday or do you prefer being in front of the camera?
HJM: Ever since I got into this business, I have had my eye on directing. I would love to make a film with a powerful female lead and plenty of effects make up. I still think I have a lot to learn before I go behind the camera and acting gives me a lot of knowledge on how to make the movies the right and wrong way. I do wish to make my own feature someday, but for now I'm happy just being involved in the independent horror industry!


I want to thank Haley Jay Madison for taking the time to chat with us. Make sure you check her out on Instagram, and watch some of her movies whether on Amazon, Hulu or DVD. We will be following her career and wishing her all the best! Expect to hear more from this rising star of the Indy scene.

Posted by Allen Alberson in WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
COMING SOON: RAPT 2016 (Indie short)

COMING SOON: RAPT 2016 (Indie short)

By John Roisland

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If there's one film you need to keep an eye out for, it's Rapt. More and more lately, the independent movie scene is on the move and growing larger everyday. There's so much hidden talent out there and, unfortunately, there're still a lot of movie and horror film fans that are leery about putting down their hard-earned cash for a DVD that doesn't have a major movie label on the DVD box, a huge name in the cast, or a great soundtrack.

Well, I'm here to introduce to you a short film that I think you will all enjoy. The film is called Rapt and is brought to you and filmed on location and by some great people in New Jersey. The story is that of a disgruntled, down on his luck, independent horror film director (Russell Hackett) giving his debut film a viewing at a small but extremely cool local film house where they do film testing. Sadly, the audience’s response to the director's film is less than comforting as not only do people criticize it, but many even walk out. This throws the filmmaker into a downward spiral, his depression now fueling his rage at rejection. One by one he hunts the movie goers who were less than kind to his film with an eye to make all of them the leads in his next horror film. No makeup or SFX are needed for the cast as he brutally slays all of them on camera.

When Rapt co-writer and star of the film Russell Hackett asked me a few weeks ago if I would consider viewing and giving my thoughts on the film, I responded that I'd be honored to do so. I’m very glad that I did as one highlight of the film for me was getting to see faces of online friends that I have not yet personally met, such as Deana Demko, Todd Staruch, and Russell Hackett, who gave a very impressive performance as Filmmaker.

12310536_10208014129297030_1832838868256629080_nThe film was co-written by Russell Hackett and Jerry Janda (Painkiller) and directed by Thomas Ryan (writer and executive producer Day 9). Keep an eye on Ryan because he is on the move and has an eye for the camera that really makes you feel his vision.

The film itself runs just under 40 minutes, but don't mistake a short run time for lack of quality. Rapt is a good, solid film that possesses everything you would want and expect from a quality film. It has realistic dialogue and believable acting, which are complemented by clever use of lighting and excellent sound. And, might I add, it has a great score to boot!

Rapt is a refreshing and original film brought to you by DocHack Productions and Theater of Terror (that director Thomas Ryan founded). I highly recommend you check out Rapt online and hop on over and give their Facebook page a like. Be a true horror fan, and help support the independent movie scene!

Russell, thank you for the opportunity!

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Harvest Lake (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Harvest Lake (2016)

By Dixielord

Today it seems all too common to take the easy way out in horror films. Especially with low budget films. So many filmmakers go for the cookie cutter zombie or masked killer film. Sure, there are standouts, but mostly it seems it's just more of the same. Well, I can guarantee you wont feel that way about Harvest Lake. Love it or hate it, I think you will agree it is anything other than the usual.

Ellie Church from Harvest Lake
Ellie Church in Harvest Lake

Director Scott Schirmer took the masked serial killer in all new directions with his last film Found. With Harvest Lake, Schirmer and producer/ photographer Brian Williams take the creature feature where it's never been before, and along the way explores every orifice. It was billed as an “erotic creature feature”, and that's about as close to on point as you can get, although I would say it touches heavily on the body horror genre as well.

American Mary's Tristan Risk headlines the cast of Harvest Lake, along with Ellie Church (Headless), Jason Crowe, and Dan Nye.The plot concerns four friends who pack it off to a remote cabin to celebrate a birthday. The friends go out fully intending to drink and sex it up. Along the way they pick up a stranger and invite him back for festivities. Things start to go a bit strange when they encounter a mysterious plant. The plant, complete with pods (that look a lot like xenomorph eggs), tentacle like appendages, and fruit that look like misshapen breasts, exerts a strange pull over the campers, as one after another they fall under its spell. What few inhibitions the group had melt away, leading to more debauchery before finally discovering the alien (?) source of the infestation.

 

plant sex in Harvest Lake
This almost happened.

Harvest Lake is a highly sexually charged movie. When a film starts out with male and female full frontal nudity, you know you are in for a raunchy ride. And there is a lot of sex and nudity in Harvest Lake. A lot. There are at least four sex scenes in the film before the big finale, which of course involves sex. Get it? There's sex in this here film, so don't blame me if your prudish ass gets offended.

Some of the sex is fairly explicit, but it never feels gratuitous. It's an important part of the film, instrumental in the story being told. Harvest Lake also has one of the more explicit same gender love scenes between two men. It's brave of a film maker to go there, and I really hope we have grown enough as a culture to accept this and not be offended. There is also quite a bit of nudity from pretty much every member of the cast, male and female. But once again, none of it, with the possible exception of the opening scene, feels gratuitous. It's there for a reason.

In a recent coming soon article, I likened Harvest Lake to 80s science fiction films like Breeders and Inseminoid, due to the buzz I was hearing. After actually seeing the film, however, it's much closer to Cronenberg's Shivers with a little of the 70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers thrown in. There is a scene between Ellie Church and Tristan Risk that visually is very similar to one in Shivers between Barbara Steele and Susan Petrie. Besides the visual similarity, the whole concept of a parasite, for lack of a better word, invading you, by contact, kissing, or love making, and releasing your primal desires is the basic story line of Shivers. But unlike Shivers, this is a wholly alien force versus a scientifically created virus.

But Harvest Lake isn't just a carbon copy of Shivers. It's its own film, more of a true science fiction horror and without the obvious social commentary of Shivers. This is a film about a presumably alien force coming to earth, to basically get its pods off. There is no real gore and very little violence, which also sets it apart from Cronenberg's classic. The little critter here seems more interested in sex than violence or perversion. Although there are hints that he might have a more sinister fate awaiting our campers once he gets his jollies.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn't cookie cutter horror. I dare you to say you have ever seen anything quite like this, even a Cronenberg film. What other horror film are you going to see Tristan Risk in a bikini, on hands and knees, ass up in the air about to perform fellatio on an alien pod? Yeah that happened, and I'll never complain about Tristan with her ass in the air. Never. But it's a surreal scene, a situation that's echoed in different situations, and poses, by the other cast members. One by one the friends are seduced or outright raped by the creature in the lake. There's a scene between it and Ellie Church that will make Lovecraft fans quiver. I dont want to spoil it, but the weirdness doesn't stop, and neither does the sex, until the credits roll.

Tristan Risk from American Mary and Harvest Lake
Tristan Risk from American Mary and Harvest Lake

The surreal visuals are driven home and lent more power by the haunting, eerie and driving score. It's both beautiful and unnerving at the same time. Do yourself a favor and listen to this on good speakers with the sound up. It helps keep you on edge throughout the film.

And let's be competently honest, who the hell wouldn't enjoy watching Little Ms Risk and Ellie Church run around in very small bikinis for almost an entire movie? Not to be left out, there are some bare asses for the ladies and guys who prefer the guys. Special bonus points for being the only movie I have ever seen to reference the chimp raping a frog video...sharing that video made me lots of friends online...memories.

Harvest Lake orgy
And this totally happened in Harvest Lake.

There's really not a lot that I disliked about Harvest Lake. Gore fans may be turned off by its lack of bloody mayhem, but seriously you can catch that shit anywhere. And the same gender sex may turn off some folks, but really, 21st century y’all. Grow the fuck up. We have all drooled over naked ladies and lesbian scenes over the years, so chill. If all you want is masked killers, zombies or paranormal bumps in the night, Harvest Lake probably isn't for you. But if you want an erotic and trippy ass visual experience, then you NEED to see Harvest Lake. True story bro.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Pieces of Talent (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Pieces of Talent (2014)

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By: John Roisland

What should've been announced at the 2015 Oscars:

Best Movie: Pieces of Talent
Best Screenplay: David Long and Joe Stauffer
Best Director: Joe Stauffer
Best Actor: David Long
Best Actress: Kristi Ray

It was all there; all they had to do was announce it!

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of every aspect of this film. I first remember seeing a trailer for Pieces of Talent and thinking to myself, "Holy Fuck... I gotta see that!!" A few months later, my big-little brother Travis Love and his always adorable wife Megan got to meet the lovely Kristi Ray, who plays Charlotte in the film. Shortly after, they were nice enough to surprise me with an autographed copy of the DVD. I was ecstatic!

Since owning it, I've watched it repeatedly, and every time I do, it's like the first time all over again.

The story is of David Long, played by none other than, David Long, who is a fun loving, long haired, always smiling, southern hippy - with one small drawback: David is a brutal murderer.  One night, while getting his ass kicked by strip club bouncers for having a video camera on him, up walks Charlotte, one of the cocktail waitress, who rescues our long haired friend.

Charlotte is a free spirit trying her damnedest to become an actress in spite of having been dealt a shitty hand in life. She hates her job, and her worthless, dead beat mom puts her down all the time and steals from her. Still, Charlotte takes care of her.images

David and Charlotte become pretty good friends after he tells her that he's actually directing a movie of his own, and wants her for the lead role. Their relation quickly spirals downward as David becomes obsessed with Charlotte and brutally kills anyone who harms her or gets in her way of pursuing her dream.

This is one of the best independent horror films I've ever had the honor of viewing, and it is also in my top horror films! The quality of the film is beautifully shot, and the special f/x are phenomenal. The writing is superb, and the acting is... WOW!! Top notch jobs by  David Long and Kristi Ray! Both gave riveting performances and even made me want to hang out with them!

Director Joe Stauffer should be very proud, not only for the awesome job he did in his own role, but also for how well his vision came through!

The film grabs you, comforts you, flips you around, and then shakes the shit out of you!

If the follow up, A Missing Piece, is ANYTHING like Pieces of Talent, it will be something to see. It will be beautiful!

9/10

 Keep It Evil

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: My Name Is ‘A’ by Anonymous (2012)

By Travis Love

My_Name_Is_A_By_Anonymous

Directed by Shane Ryan and released through Wild Eye Releasing, My Name is A by Anonymous is a film adaptation of the real-life events of thrill killer Alyssa Bustamante. For those not familiar with the case, Alyssa Bustamante was convicted for murdering her 9-year-old neighbor in 2009 – strangling, stabbing, and slitting her throat before burying her body in a shallow grave in the nearby woods. The background story is every bit as engrossing and disturbing as the film portraying it.

The film takes a less than straight ahead approach at telling the events that unfold, instead of focusing on one single facet of the story, the story is broken up and told through four individuals who represent Alyssa or parts of her personality (The Performer, The Angst, and The Sidekick). The scenes tend to skip between characters which makes it feel hard to get a grasp of the story at times, but knowing the metal instability of Bustamante it actually helps to place the viewer into her distraught and chaotic state of mind. Certain parts delve into the dark and depressing aspect of who Alyssa is while other parts (mainly The Performer) shows a need to be accepted and admired by others.

Imagery such as the Alyssa character sitting in a bathtub and slowly dragging a knife against her skin, leaving mark after bloody mark, opens a window for the viewer to peer into the twisted mindscape Bustamante was in. Moments where the father is seen in a molesting light as Alyssa screams in the background “Don’t touch me!! Leave me alone!” only help to solidify the downward spiral leading towards the upcoming events. The inevitable end is simply executed, no frills just the cold hard reality of what took place when Alyssa took Elizabeth Olten’s life as the manifestations each takes their turn at inflicting pain on their victim.

This film is a bleak, unconventional look into events that are unbelievably eerie and gut-wrenching. Watching someone’s mental stability and balance decay, knowing the severity of the real-life events that it lead to, makes this morally uncomfortable to watch. But with the style in which it is executed, it’s well worth watching to see things from the perspective of Alyssa Bustamante.

Rating: 6/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments