john carpenter

Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 6)

Top Five Films to Watch in October (Part 6)

Part of the House of Tortured Souls
Staff Pick October 2016

By John Roisland

To understand my top five, you must first close your eyes and think back to a night where the skies are the deepest darkest blue but are still crystal clear. The night is lit by a million stars and the glow of the moon as it dances in and out behind bare trees. It’s a cool crisp night where you hear the slight wind whispering through and rustling the leaves that have fallen and in the distance the sound of children giggling and laughing as they run from house to house yelling trick or treat as the doors. And the smell, the smell of burning leaves in someone's bonfire now fill the autumn air.

These are the memories that I have that sticks with me so vividly during the entire autumn and Halloween Season. This is still today after 44 years on this planet, my favorite time of year! Which is why it was so important for me to share with you my everlasting memories of Halloween night, as well as share with you my top five favorite movies to watch at Halloween.

Now when I first came up with this idea and I shared it to the staff I figured top five, it's going to be a piece of cake, and then I started taking some time and mulling over what my personal favorite movies are for Halloween. Keep in mind this isn't any of our top five horror movies, this is just the top five movies to watch at Halloween. It then dawned on me Wow, I'm a real ass because this is really hard to do! There are a million horror movies out there to watch, especially during the Halloween season, and to narrow it down to the top five has become quite a chore.

The movies that I have to present to you, I am somewhat basing around the Halloween season in the movie itself, not all of them but a few of them. As much of a horror buff as I am, I have actually always enjoyed movies that have taken place on Halloween.

So you might be surprised when don't see any of your top iconic Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street installment - or anything of that nature.

I do thoroughly enjoy Halloween - all aspects - the sounds, the sights, even the smells! Nothing to me is more invigorating then walking outside at night and smelling burning leaves in the Autumn air. So, when picking my top five movies, I try to incorporate my love for Halloween with them.

My top five - not in any order, just my top!

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

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The legend of The Headless Horseman has always been my all time favorite story ever since I was a child. Fist hearing it when i was young, the story stuck with me to this day and age. Tim Burton‘s rendition of it, in my opinion, did it proud. With its dark images and setting, it is a must watch for me!

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)

How can you not?! Not only is Carpenter personally my favorite director, but this film raised the bar and set standards for horror films….and it’s at Halloween, so score!

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Monster House (2006)

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I first saw this film as a rental for my kids. The day it was returned to the store, I bought it! This animated kids Halloween film has a very dark overtone to it that I love, and brings out the Halloween spirit in me! Sad thing was that I enjoyed more than the kids…

The Houses October Built (2014)

Now, those of you who know me know that this movie had a profound impact on me. I love every aspect of this film, and it has become one of my top movies. The film is based at Halloween and centers around local haunts. Brought to you by Zach Andrew and Bobby Roe, this film is a must for the Halloween season.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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Now, the last film I bring to you may not have anything to do with Halloween in any way, shape, or form, and as a matter of fact, it is not only my all time favorite horror movie, it’s my all time favorite movie – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This 1974 Tobe Hooper film blew the door off the horror film industry and has remained an all time classic. This gets a watch every Halloween!

I do hope you enjoyed my list and as founder and president of House of Tortured Souls , I do sincerely wish you and your entire family for all the generations to come, a very Happy Halloween!

Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in HALLOWEEN, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Blumhouse and John Carpenter Are Making Halloween Scary Again

Blumhouse and John Carpenter Are Making Halloween Scary Again

All New Halloween Film? Yes, Please.

By Jonathan Patrick Hughes

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In 1978, we were introduced to what has become one of the most amazing franchises to ever smack us in the face, and it's coming back in a huge way.  Earlier this week, the media received good - no, great - news. Halloween has landed in the  arms of Blumhouse Productions with the master of horror also known as John Carpenter, father of the franchise, to executive produce and possibly compose the music with his Lost Themes band.

Halloween 11: Carpenter and Spawn

Carpenter and Spawn

The Halloween films have forced us to know his name - Michael Myers, his mask - Captain Kirk, his theme, his disturbance, and his immortality.  The Halloween film franchise was started in part by Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Moustapha Akkad in 1978 and has since has spawned ten films (eight sequels as well as two remakes by Rob Zombie) generating a total of nearly $400 million in worldwide box office. This new film will mark the 11th entry to the franchise. As of now, Halloween is in early development, but Carpenter confirms it is happening and has stated that he will help to bring about the scariest Halloween film since the original.

"Halloween is one of those milestone films that inspired everyone at our company to get into the world of scary movies,” says Jason Blum. “The great Malek Akkad and John Carpenter have a special place in the hearts of all genre fans and we are so excited that Miramax brought us together. We cannot wait to find and collaborate with the right filmmaker to give Halloween fans the movie they deserve.”

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Miramax, which holds worldwide distribution rights, will determine its theatrical distribution partner at a future date. David Thwaites will oversee the reboot for Miramax with Carpenterm and the company's planning to immediately go out to filmmakers and fast-track the project. Although no release date has officially been locked, it was revealed at the announcement event that a Halloween 2017 release is quite likely. Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Before I Wake) is set to direct.

Halloween 11: John Carpenter - The Master's Eye

As a devoted fan, I for one cannot wait for this to come to life. This is like a birthday/Christmas present wrapped in bloody wrapping paper with a big orange bow at the top.

What do you think? Let House of Tortured Souls know below.

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

COMING SOON: The Night Watchmen

By John Roisland

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Winter of 2015, actually for my birthday, I was fortunate enough to spend the day on the set of the highly awaited film The Night Watchmen.

The story follows the eponymous night watchmen who, during their shift one night, receive a package that was delivered to the wrong location. This wasn’t just your usual parcel – no gift to little Bobby from Grandma, no special free shipping on a DVD copy of The Hamiltons from amazon.com… This was a coffin holding a supreme vampire brought back take over the world! And who’s there to defend us all from this demonic take over from the undead? The Night Watchmen.

(Warning: Video contains nudity.)

The film is a horror comedy that even while on the set had the crew cracking up during many lines. The film is totally unique but has the feel of The Evil Dead meets John Carpenter. It has dark, gory horror with just the right amount of tongue in cheek comedy to make this a perfect fit. The film is packed with action, blood, vampires, dead people … and clowns? Yes, even clowns.

As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with the cast and crew and was taken in by our three fearless watchmen themselves and stars of the film – Ken Arnold, Dan Deluca, and Kevin Jiggetts. Everyone was awesome, and I was in awe of everything I was being allowed to observe.  The film was partially filmed in Annapolis, Maryland, at an old newspaper press factory, and it was the perfect setting! Guys, thank you for taking the time. That was a birthday that could never be outdone!

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The Night Watchmen and yours truly.

Hanging around with Arnold, Deluca, and Jiggetts is an ear to ear grin experience. The three of them are much like brothers…in a Three Stooges way. Fun loving, but always professional.

The film was written by Ken Arnold and Dan Deluca and has been directed by Mitchell Altieri, who brought us The Hamiltons and The Violent Kind.

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The film also costars James Remar (Dexter), Rain Pryor (Rude Awakening), and Tiffany Shepis (Exit to Hell), and features the special f/x make-up artistry of RJ Haddy. There sadly is no release date for the film as of yet, but soon as House of Tortured Souls knows, you’ll know! Until then, support The Night Watchmen by liking their Facebook page, and prepare to hear those magical words: “Let’s go kill some dead people!”

Keep It Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 4 comments
WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH: P.J. SOLES

WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH: P.J. SOLES

P.J. Soles

P.J. Soles

By John Roisland

Before the month gets away from us, I must take a moment to cast my vote for Women  in Horror Month: the lovely P.J. Soles. This hasn't been an easy choice with so much great talent in the industry!

From Scream Queen legends Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris to academy award winning make up  artist Vee Neill to the twisted minds behind the camera -Sylvia and Jen Soska, there are legions of talented women in horror. In fact, there are too many names to list here, but P.J., for me, comes with a personal reason.

P.J. Soles, born in 1950 in Frankfurt, Germany, got her first major part in the 1976 Brian De Palma film Carrie, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. As Norma, the ballcap wearing and wisecracking pigtailed cutie, P.J. won the hearts of many...I was 4. Since then, P.J. went on to many other roles, such as John Carpenter's Halloween and Stripes, and all with her trademark pigtails. She was at the convention supporting her role in Rob Zombie's The Devils Rejects, and as I mentioned, mine comes with a story.

P.J. as Lynda van der Klok in the 1978 classic John Carpenter's Halloween.

P.J. as Lynda van der Klok in the 1978 classic John Carpenter's Halloween.

A few years ago, my wife Stephanie and I were living in Florida and attended Spooky Empire, an incredible horror convention in Orlando. P.J. was on the celebrity guest list. After wandering around and taking everything in, we headed into the celebrity room on a mission to meet P.J. Just as we got thru the threshold of the ballroom door, I literally bump into her, look at her, and say "Oh hi. You're leaving?" She gave me a worried, almost brokenhearted look, like a mom whose kid wanted to hang out with her as she was leaving for work, and said, "Honey, I'm just running out to grab a sandwich for lunch. Come see me in an hour...PROMISE ME?!" She laughed, gave me a hug, and off she went, disappearing in the ocean of fans that filled the halls.

P.J. as Susan with Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects.

P.J. as Susan with Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects.

We wander around for a while, and about an hour or so later we made our way back to P.J.'s table. As we did, she saw us, stood up and said "IT'S ABOUT TIME!!" With a big smile on her face, she came around the table and gave us huge hugs. We talked for a good 40 minutes, the room at this time wasn't busy, or I wouldn't have taken up so much time. But since we were the only ones there at the moment, and we were all really enjoying ourselves, why not?!

She talked with excitement in her eyes. We talked about her family, John Carpenter, Bill Murray, Rob Zombie and sandwiches...she likes a good sandwich. We took a few pictures, hugged, shook hands, thanked her for her time, and asked kindly how much we owed her for her time. She smiled and simply said, "Go enjoy the show, and stop by or wave if you come back through." And that we did. Every time we were in the area, and she just smiled and waved as if we were family.

Not charging us is not the reason that I put P.J Soles at the top of my list. I put her there because of her heart, how she treated us, and how she made us feel. She took the time to make a difference with the fans.

I've met a good number of celebrities, some nicer than others, but none have ever treated me quite like this - like a person, not rushing through with a fake smile and quick to collect your money. P.J. was genuinely appreciative. Let me just add that John Carpenter was the headlining guest at this show and his table was also next to P.J.'s table. Those of you who know me know that Carpenter is my favorite. He was a bucket list for me.

We went and met with the legendary John Carpenter, but we went back to the always lovely, P.J. Soles.

Congratulations P.J. Soles, on this well deserved recognition for Women In Horror Month.

Keep it Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Halloween on the Small Screen?

Halloween on the Small Screen?

Michael's World - Slaughter On! Excellent!

By Woofer McWooferson

Michael Myers staring downstairs.

Michael Myers staring downstairs.

Michael Myers, one of the most recognized and beloved horror icons, may be moving to the small screen if rumors are true. Since Dimension Films lost control of the Halloween franchise, there has been much speculation as to what will be next for the iconic character. Halloween Returns, which was to be the next step in the Halloween franchise, has been shelved indefinitely and it its place come rumors of a limited series on television. (A limited series is one with a planned number of episodes rather than being open to continuing until nobody watches any longer.)

Michael Myers in the Closet

A closet won't stop Michael Myers.

According to Fangoria, who quote a European filmmaker who wishes to remain anonymous, the European Film Market may have been passed over to allow a limited series to be produced. Rumors are that it would be a three to five season series and would enable much more to be added to the Halloween story. The Fangoria article goes on to state:

“...as budget horror becomes a more and more of a rarity in Hollywood, Halloween's studio search might not have gone as smoothly as planned as Malek Akkad & Trancas still aim to keep up the franchise's costly, old-school production value; in other words, a micro-budget, day-and-date Halloween film might be off-the-table, which could give way to a Halloween series that could carry that cinematic production value."

Everything is still unconfirmed, but speculation abounds. Will it be a backstory? Will it be in between stories? There is a lot of room in the Halloween universe for Michael to maneuver, and we hope he takes full advantage of this.

Michael Myers looks down on everyone.

Michael Myers looks down on everyone.

Still, rumors of a Halloween television series is great news for fans of the 1978 classic (and its sequels, reboots, and retoolings). Despite not saying a word in the original Halloween, Michael Myers is one of the most well known horror and respected icons, and Halloween remains one of the most watched franchises in horror movie history.

House of Tortured Souls is ready for more Michael Myers on any screen. Are you? Let us know what you think. Is the small screen big enough for Michael Myers?

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

Boogeyman 2: Masters of Horror

By Woofer McWooferson

Boogeymen 2-1

 

Director: Mike Mendez, Dave Parker; Writers: Curtis Bowden, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Gary Shenk; Stars: Dario Argento, Bruce Campbell, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, George A. Romero; Rating: U; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Documentary; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2002

“Their movies gave you nightmares. Now the most diabolical minds in horror are coming together in the ultimate Halloween horror special – Masters of Horror.”

The 2002 documentary Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror is hosted by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) and features some of the greatest names in horror movies, from Dario Argento to Guillermo del Toro. Divided into three parts, it asks the great questions all horror fans have:

Part 1: Why Do We Like to be Scared?
Part 2: What Scares Us?
Part 3: (Where Do They Get Their Ideas?)

Parts one and two are rather brief and hop from director to director as each answers why we like to be scared and what scares us. As to why we like to be scared, answers range from “why do some people like to ride roller coasters” to “preparation for our own deaths” and all are equally valid since why we like to be scared is as unique as each of us. When it comes to what scares us, however, most of our fears are the same, from death (of self or loved ones) to the dark (or what lies in it), and this is the bread and butter of these directors.

Wes Craven

Wes Craven

Part three, however, is much longer and divided into six sections with each section focusing on one director. These sections and the featured directors are:

The Reality of Horror (Wes Craven)
The Horror of Innocence (Guillermo del Toro)
The Rebel of Horror (John Carpenter)
The Horror of Society (George A. Romero)
Transforming Horror (John Landis & Rick Baker)
The Beauty of Horror (Dario Argento)
Living the Horror (Tobe Hooper)

Highlights of the documentary include:

• Craven discussing the making of The Serpent and the Rainbow and how The Last House on the Left managed an R rating.

• del Toro recounting his introduction to the supernatural while still in his crib, the influence of Universal monster movies on him, and how he established a special effects company in order to create Cronos.

• Carpenter talking about the change in audience sensibilities and the effect it had on the horror industry in the 70s and 80s.

• Romero revealing his fear of being typecast and his eventual return to the dead films.

• Landis and Rick Baker explaining how they created Schlock and why An American Werewolf in London is a watershed film in special effects work.

• Argento discussing his films as works of art where each shot is framed for both beauty and horror.

• Hooper recounting the horrors behind the scenes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, including the effects that the gruelling shot had on the cast and crew.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper

Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror also includes commentary from Gunnar Hanson, Tom Savini, and KNB Effects and is full of clips from the movies being discussed as well as movies that exemplify the topics being described.

Is this for everyone? No, but it is damn good fun and a must for horror lovers.

7/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

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By Nick Durham

We’ve had a bit of a renaissance lately in terms of some small-budgeted spooky movies that deliver the goods without buckets of blood and gore and rely more on old school tricks to give the viewer goose bumps. A lot of these films tend to be of the slow burn variety as well…which has its own share of likeable qualities (and some serious hate-worthy qualities as well). The Rasmussen Brothers (writers of John Carpenter’s The Ward and helmers of Dark Feed) throw their hat into the ring with The Inhabitants, which actually manages to make a fairly good impression despite its shortcomings.

The Inhabitants revolves around married couple Jess (Elise Couture) and Dan (Michael Reed), who have just purchased a New England-based bed and breakfast. Of course, as these things tend to go, the house itself holds some terrible secrets thanks to its past inhabitants. These come to light when Dan has to take an emergency business trip and leaves Jess all alone in the big, spooky house. All the creepy house hallmarks are here: scary shadows and figures, creaking sounds, and some creepy camera angles.  The film offers plenty of atmosphere that really gives the film an ominous tone and it works really well.

While The Inhabitants offers good atmosphere, there’s some other elements where the film sadly lacks. It begins with our leads in all honesty, neither characterization really reaches out to the viewer at all in any way. Not to mention the fact that there are some serious plot holes and flat out leaps in logic that pop up as the film crawls towards its conclusion. Granted the film’s story is a little inventive compared to other films of its ilk, so it does have that going for it at least.

All things considered, I could think of worse ways to kill an hour and a half. The Inhabitants isn’t half bad, but it doesn’t offer much either in all honesty. Still though, it does show that Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have talent and promise as filmmakers. Here’s hoping that they only go onward and upward.

Rating: 3/5

 

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

REMAKES: The Never Ending Battle

By John Roisland

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For a few years now, more and more recently a huge topic has been a large debate amongst horror fans new and old, REMAKES! Now, I’m not hear to end any arguments, nor do I have the power to do so. But I am here to try to discuss this never ending battle between good and bad!

Such classic and iconic horror films have been remade:

Maniac, Psycho, The Omen, The Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing, Mother’s Day, The Last House On the Left, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night, Carrie, Dawn of the Dead, I Spit On Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, My Bloody Valentine, The Fog and the list goes on, and on and on, not to mention foreign films that are becoming bastardized by American film makers with Old Boy, The Ring, and coming soon Martyrs (which has been label by many as the best horror film ever!

All these films listed above, are pretty much all house hold horror names, which is  why everyone kept asking the same one worded question: WHY!?

Some argue that some remakes are better than the originals. Maybe some of them are…I personally don’t think so, although there are those that with newer technology, and possibly a larger budget, that are presented as a better film. But my issue is wheres the artistic value in remaking something that someone else has already put their name on.

Some directors  claim they love the original film and wanted to share their vision of how they saw it. Case in point is Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween; of which Zombie said he wouldn’t make the film without Carpenter’s blessing. Well he got it,  and the film made boo-coo bucks at the box office, and has seemingly made its own new Halloween franchise. Some it seems to jump on to a known franchise just to make a few dollars off of a sure thing. Others sadly  seem to be to afraid to show the world their own original visions of horror to the big screen, so they hide behind someone else’s work,  and do a remake.

My own personal favorite The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, done and redone…supposedly done again. I’ve actually lost track of what was called a remake, and what was called a continuation. But some I’ve enjoyed…others I was ashamed and almost embarrassed to say it was part of the franchise. But that’s only my opinion.

I can’t say I welcome a remake  with open arms, as I would much rather watch something original  but some I have enjoyed and have appreciated their views and their concepts.  A few I have thought were actually good enough to have stood as its own film, if not having been a remake. Which is a shame, because imagine what it could have been if it was an original. Others fall far from even crossing the finish line.

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A few remakes I have enjoyed and  I have almost been ridiculed for some, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street. When the remake came out in 2010, I enjoyed a more serious approach to the film, and loved Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal as Freddy Krueger, not saying anything bad against Robert Englund, Just thought Haley’s approach to the role was scarier and less comedic. Something I enjoyed…but again, that’s just my opinion, and I suffered greatly for it.

While with others, some have agreed with me. 2013 Evil Dead remake, while the original is a true cult classic, many have felt that the remake was an incredible horror film, one that could have been its own, and was also a huge success at the box office.

This is a discussion that will carry on for years. It’s like figuring out who has the better pizza: New York or Chicago. It will never end, and those who are putting their artistic vision in a remake… don’t. We want your original thoughts, your dreams, your NIGHTMARES!

A remake, to me, is just about the money. No matter how many, and how big the names are that you get to star in them, it’s still a remake, its still someone else’s original work. It can be good or it can be bad, but  the horror community is a very close, very tight knit family and are very loyal…make a bad movie, they will respect you more, because its yours!

…But this is just one guy’s opinion.

Keep it Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in EDITORIALS, 0 comments
CARPENTER GOES SMALL SCREEN

CARPENTER GOES SMALL SCREEN

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By : John Roisland

It seems the latest trend in horror viewing is on the small screen, ie. television. From Ash vs. Evil Dead, American Horror Story, Bates Motel, and Tremors is even in the works. Now one  of the Masters of Horror, and my personal all time favorite director, the legendary John Carpenter is jumping on the small screen bandwagon.

According to a recent  pod cast from the folks at Killer POV podcast who recently interviewed Sandy King, John Carpenter’s producing partner and loving wife, made mention of the two putting out four television series, that god bless them, are all in the horror realm!

John Carpenter, as you know, has put out such legendary classic titles like , Halloween, The Thing, Christine, The Fog, They Live, Prince of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, and my personal favorite, Escape from New York. All movies Carpenter has for the most part written and directed…and added his known signature score to most as well.

Now, I’m not a TV person…at all! I’ve seen a few episodes of most horror series that are out, and for the most part, I enjoyed what I had seen. But I just don’t do television, I’m strictly a movie guy. Years ago I had a TV theory as a matter of fact. I would see the ad for a new TV series starring a well known actors name. Well, it always seemed that the show usually didn’t do so well, and the said actor wasn’t heard much from after that. So my thoughts were, when you hit the small screen, you were usually headed out. Seems maybe times have turned around. For Mr. Carpenters sake, I do hope so. Not that I don’t have faith in the man, but I would hate to see this be his final show.

Carpenter is said to direct all four pilots as well as produce them all with his wife King. No other information is available at this time as far as actors or even what network the shows will air on. But we will keep you filled in as the news unfolds.

Having met Mr. Carpenter a few years ago at a Spooky Empire  Convention in Orlando Florida, where my wife Stephanie and I presented Mr. Carpenter with a one of a kind , hand made  R.J. McReady (The Thing) doll, made by our dear friend Toy Mangler, which was one of the highlights of my career, I want to wish the best of luck to you Mr. Carpenter!!

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Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

UPDATE: Looking over this months later, I realize that I paid no compliments to Rob Bottin's SFX in making John Carpenter's The Thing come to life. Bottin's efforts paid off and, in my book, are the measuring stick for creature SFX to many horror fans. Neither Carpenter nor Bottin received the credit they – and everyone involved in the production – deserved. The movie's status as cult favorite and must-have for fans of the genre or SFX in general has done little to erase the effects of the deeply mixed reactions of critics at release – at best it was dismissed and at worst it was panned. John Carpenter's The Thing was a film way ahead of its time.

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

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Film That Inspired John Carpenter's The Thing

By Woofer McWooferson

The Thing From Another World (1951) Title Screen

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited); Writers: Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness; Rating: U; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1951

The Thing From Another World (1951) is the first attempt to bring “Who Goes There?”, the John W. Campbell Jr. short story, to life. While very true to the story in some aspects, it is quite different as well – more different than the two adaptations that follow. The Thing From Another World follows Captain Patrick “Pat” Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), his crew, and reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott (Douglas Spencer) who accompanies them as they travel to assist a North Pole scientific outpost. According to Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), a scientist who has won every accolade the scientific community has to offer, something has crashed about 80 miles away and the crashed object is sufficiently magnetic to throw off compass readings. Dr. Carrington then explains why they believe the item is very likely an alien craft, and the a group soon sets out to recover what they can. After a disastrous attempt to remove the ship with thermite, they busy themselves with manually recoving a frozen being that must have come from the craft. What follows is their struggle to deal with the being when it is accidentally thawed and it returns to life, attacking the gathered and their sled dogs (Siberian Huskies) with impunity. While the main plot involves the craft and creature, there is a subplot involving Pat and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) Dr. Carrington's secretary. This may seem distracting at first, but it actually ties back into the main plot when Nikki passes important information to Pat.

The Thing From Another World (1951) Pacing Off the Craft

Directed by Christian Nyby, whose credits include many TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Adam-12, The Thing From Another World has many hallmarks of a Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Scarface) film, such as multiple simultaneous conversations. Hawks was producer as well as Nyby's mentor, so it seems highly appropriate that it would be very Hawksesque. Nevertheless, the film received criticism and many accused it of being directed by Hawks who, they believed, allowed Nyby to put his name to it. The film is quick and crisp and trimmed of any possible fat. Even the scenes between Nikki and Pat do not feel forced or irrelevant. On the contrary, they help establish character as well as setting by showing the different ways they and others react to the situation as it escalates.

Kenneth Tobey (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is confident and charismatic as the captain who must consider and the safety of everyone with the regulations and orders from his higher ups, all while handling Dr. Carrington and his ego. Robert Cornthwaite's portrayal of Dr. Carrington, a scientist whose faith is rooted solely in the scientific community and whose reputation is impeccable is right on the nose. He is both intelligent and ignorant, blinded by the very science that he trusts with, quite literally, his life. Margaret Sheridan's Nikki and Douglas Spencer's Scotty add both humor and realism, while James Arness as the Thing manages to convey a sense of terror – both of us as well as to us.

The Thing From Another World is not just a great scifi/horror movie, it's an all around great film with a fine plot, top notch acting, and snappy dialogue. Although tame by today's standards, it is required viewing for fans of classic science fiction and horror.

9/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Thing (2011)

Who Can It Be Now?

By Woofer McWooferson

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.; Writers: Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen; Rating: R; Run Time: 103 min; Genre: Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2011

The 2011 prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing is a labor of love from director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and writer Eric Heisserer. From the opening scene to the end, there is clear evidence that this piece is to honor and pay homage to the 1982 classic from director John Carpenter, itself an homage to the 1951 black and white classic The Thing From Another World. Released to mixed reactions from fans and critics alike, The Thing both exceeds and falls short of audience expectations, expectations that are higher than normal because of the inevitable comparison to the horror classic that it follows in release but precedes in movie time.

The Thing prequel covers the tale of the Norweigan team that originally found the creature and its spaceship and draws upon elements of both the original 1951 film as well as John Carpenter's 1982 remake. As with the 1951 film, the prequel includes women and the obsessive scientist (expertly played by Ulrich Thomsen), both factors missing from Carpenter's film. But as with Carpenter's version, the prequel shows audiences the range of the creature's capability to merge with, consume, and emulate the cells of other beings, often combining features of many beings into the fuel of nightmares. The 1951 creature was portrayed as a sentient vegetable being, the fear coming specifically from its sheer otherworldliness, its power, and its unwillingness or inability to relate to man. Carpenter's creature, on the other hand, is terrifying in its ability to be very human indeed.

With grotesque parodies of humans and humanimals, the thing in the prequel shifts from one form to the next, finding man's weaknesses as well as discovering its own limitations, both of which help the Antarctic team to find who is who and where that who is. There is a palpable lack of claustrophobia and terror in the prequel. The Norweigans are not as cut off from the world as the US group in Carpenter's, and this ability to run from the horror lessens the audience's tension and the doomed group's fear level.

The Thing prequel delivers solid performances all around, expert special effects (which are, primarily, practical effects topped off with some CG where the animatronic effects didn't quite work), and events that set up what audiences will see in Carpenter's masterpiece. In spite of all this, The Thing prequel still falls flat all around. Kate Lloyd, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is supposed to be the levelheaded realist whose keen ability to figure out the creature's motivations helps the group survive, but she comes across as dishwater dull. Dr. Sander Halverson, the obsessive and egotistical doctor, seems oddly willing to allow people to call him by his first name, something that is not evident from our first exposure to the character. The other characters, sadly, seem to be interchangeable in looks (well, not the other female or “the black guy”), roles in the ensemble, and acting.

Those who like The Thing From Another World or John Carpenter's The Thing will probably like The Thing prequel. Still, there's nothing new to see and little reason to watch when John Carpenter's version is still around, available, and better than the prequel in every area. That said, I'll still watch it because there are some messed up Thing creature effects, and I love that.

6.5/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Fog (1980)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Fog (1980)

By Nick Durham

the fog

John Carpenter is my fucking spirit animal. So many of his films have wormed their way into my heart since my youth, and around this time of year, I usually end up binge-watching quite a number of his films. Of course we all watch the original Halloween, because that's just part of life during the season, but there's others that usually fit the bill too: The Thing, They Live, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness, and even Body Bags come to mind, at least for me that is. One film in particular of Carpenter's that always manages to be the first one I pop in when October hits however, is his always dreadfully underrated The Fog. I swear, even though it received a great Blu-ray release from Scream Factory and an unbelievably shitty remake in 2005, it's always seemed to me like this was one of the few Carpenter films from that early 80s era that never really gets the kind of recognition as his other work.

The story of The Fog revolves around the harbor town of Antonio Bay, which is getting ready to celebrate their centennial. Things start to go awry when some really spooky shit starts going down, and even a few bodies start piling up. There's murderous ghosts afoot, and they want some serious fucking revenge...and trust me when I say that these guys do not fuck around either. Then again, neither would you if you were murdered and a whole town was founded on the blood money drawn from you, but I digress.

Featuring a wonderful cast of genre stalwarts and future Carpenter favorites (Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, mother and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, and legendary actors Hal Holbrook and John Houseman), the original The Fog is one of the absolute spookiest films of its era. The atmosphere alone is enough to creep you the fuck out. When the titular fog starts appearing and slowly rolls in, it's like creeping death. Just the pacing of everything here is nearly pitch perfect in its delivery. If Halloween was what announced Carpenter to the world as a master of suspense and dread, The Fog perfects it. That's right, I said that.

To close things up, I've always found it a damn shame that The Fog hasn't gotten the widespread recognition that I feel it deserves. Maybe it's just me, which very well could be. It's rare that I've met anyone who has enjoyed this film as much as I have. That being said, every October I pop this sucker in like clockwork, and I still manage to enjoy the holy living hell out of it today as much as I did when I first discovered it in my youth. Go check it out and discover it all over again.
Rating: 5/5

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