Kev B.

SERIES REVIEW: Bates Motel (2013)

SERIES REVIEW: Bates Motel (2013)

Why Is Nobody Watching Bates Motel?

By Kev B.

Freddie Highmore in Bates Motel © A&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Freddie Highmore in Bates Motel
© A&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

With all the horror adaptations we have on TV and all the new ones coming, it’s hard to single out the good ones. They’ve turned comic books, classic movies, and even rehashed old shows to scrape up horror themed programming to cash in on horrors new found popularity. As of a few weeks ago, everyone is ranting about how excellent Stranger Things is, but I haven’t found the time and don’t usually follow the lemmings that quickly. Popular, in my opinion, isn’t always best. But wow, did that show just pop up from nowhere and become the new big thing.

Norman Gets Interested in TaxidermyA&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Norman Gets Interested in Taxidermy
© A&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

As far as the rest of the popular horror shows, I find American Horror Story hit or miss from season to season. Sometimes I feel like it’s just trying too hard. But with Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, and especially Denis O’Hare, they keep me tuning in each year. At least for a few episodes. Last season was not my favorite, and now that we lost Jessica Lange and gained Gaga, this season could go either way.

I’ve come to prefer Fear The Walking Dead to the original, although the introduction of Negan may have been just what I needed to get me excited again. Usually when the season ends, my interest starts to wain, and by the time the new season starts I don’t really care… But that cliff hanger has even kept me curious. “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe”

Hannibal, as much as I tried to like it and as much as I hate to admit it, bored me. Slow, cerebral, and monotone with little to no action from what I saw. I was excited to hear Tales From The Cryptwas coming back, but I ‘m not really a fan of Shyamalan, so I doubt I’ll even bother. The Exorcist, Damien, Scream, The Strain, Penny Dreadful, Preacher, Slasher. And now I read they are trying to adapt The Lost Boys?!

I’ve passed up on quite a few because I just can’t fit anymore onto the DVR and really don’t have the time or attention span to keep up on that many story lines. There are a few shining stars out there tho. Ash vs Evil Deadis fun and entertaining, especially if you’re a Bruce Campbell fan, and I expect great things from season 2.

But I have got to tell you about my current favorite horror thriller prequel reimagining. And if you’re not currently watching it I advise you to get your hands on it and binge it up. Bates Motel! This show is great. My only gripe is that it’s set in the modern day, so everyone has a cell phone and iPod, but I got over it pretty quickly. Here’s some reasons to get in on this series now:

Photo by Cate Cameron/Cate Cameron/A&E Network - © © 2016 A&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ryan Hurst as Chick in Bates Motel
Photo by Cate Cameron/Cate Cameron/A&E Network - © 2016 A&E Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

1. One of the best all around casts on television.

2. The writing is excellent - top notch story telling.

3. We have an idea where it’s going but we aren’t sure how we’re going get there, so there is this underlying tension building as we see Norman slipping deeper into madness.

4. Freddy Highmore, as Norman, is a brilliant actor and turns out he is also an excellent writer (S4, E8 Unfaithful).

5. Vera Farmiga is also brilliant as Norman's neurotic and overbearing Mother, Norma.

6. The relationship between the two is unsettling, disturbing, and creepy as hell… And as we know, it gets fatally worse.

7. Norman has become increasingly unstable throughout season 4, and it’s been outstanding to watch as we both sympathize with and fear him.

Nestor Carbonell and Vera Farmiga Fair use doctrine.

Nestor Carbonell and Vera Farmiga
Fair use doctrine.

8. Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Romero is a bad ass.

9. Ryan Hurst (from Sons of Anarchy) and his character “Chick”.

10. Season 5 will be the final season, and should be some incredible television!

Well, I give you ten good reasons why you need to get caught up and watch Norman as he goes a little mad in the final season. The chemistry between Norman and his mother and the performances by the actors involved are leading to some of the finest horror/thriller television ever. Highmore will write another episode, as well as direct one. Also stepping in to direct this season are Carbonell and Max (heart throb) Thieriot, who plays Norman's brother on the show.

As we near the end of the road for Bates Moteland approach the events outlined in the Hitchcock classic Psycho, we come to find out that Rihanna has been cast as Marion Crane. A surprising move considering up till now the casting has been perfect, and in the last season we get a pop star with little to no acting experience cast as an iconic character… Arguably the first scream queen and victim of the first slasher. The role made famous by actress Janet Leigh (real life mother to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis) who won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and received an Academy Award nomination as Crane.

Anthony Perkins and Vince Vaughn Fair use doctrine.

Anthony Perkins and Vince Vaughn
Fair use doctrine.

The shower scene, one of the most famous scenes ever filmed, has been refilmed and recast before. Remember when Vince Vaughn was Norman? The year was 1998, and Anne Heche was Marion. She had the look, and was in the shot for shot remake of the original, but didn’t receive any awards. Now I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rihanna act, but I hope she is better than Lady Gaga on AHS. I’m a little upset at this news, but I guess there is a sudden shortage of competent actors available to be cast in such an important role. I’ll have to trust the Bates Motel crew on their decision, which has been immaculate until now.

Bates Motel returns for the final season March 2017 on A&E, and its worth every minute of your time. You can usually catch some episodes on the A&E web site.

Posted by Alan Smithee in REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
RELEASE UPDATE: Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

RELEASE UPDATE: Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

By Kev B.

Godzilla Resurgence Update 01Huge news about Godzilla Resurgence… But I’m gonna’ save the best for last! There was talk of a New World Cinemas distribution deal in the works, but it seems like that was a hoax to gain some free press off the name Godzilla. First they announced, or should I say alluded to the fact that they would be distributing Resurgence in American theaters in a post on their Facebook page that read:

“To all GODZILLA FANS! We are working hard to bring GODZILLA to every State! Patience my Friends... she is coming soon!”

They quickly backtracked when fans showed interest, with this post, calling it a misunderstanding:

"Hey Guys.

We want to clear something up for you as it is causing a lot of speculation.

New World Cinemas are NOT the distributors for the new Godzilla Film. The mistake was make because we said Godzilla coming soon. This was merely a post to promote Godzilla as we too are big fans.

We apologize for any confusion regarding this film.The Original post has been edited so it cannot cause anymore misunderstandings.

We accept that due to being busy in Cannes and preparing for out first annual Fright Fest Film Festival by NYCIFF we have neglected to notice the buzz on our Facebook page, however our admin team are back on track and will bring you all the latest news about New World Cinemas

We wish you all an amazing weekend.”

I’m not sure what part of “We are working hard to bring GODZILLA to every State!” I’m misunderstanding, but thanks for wasting our time and getting our hopes up New World. I hope you enjoyed your free press.

Godzilla Resurgence Update 02There is good news if you are a toy collector - there’s lots of good news. There is a lottery to get a new Resurgence figure from Banpresto. Bandai/Tamashii Nations, X-Plus, NECA, Diamond Select Toys, and Bandai America all have some cool new stuff coming out. But I hope your piggy bank is full because most of these new figures are not cheap! So, get your credit card ready and Google “Godzilla toys 2016”. And if you like Gojira's new look, the S.H. MonsterArts figure looks insane!

Godzilla Resurgence Update 03I’ve seen whole mess of complaints about how Toho is marketing the film and keeping us in suspense with only one trailer released in April to wet our appetites for the king of the monsters. I actually think they’ve kept us like salivating dogs in anticipation of any new images in a genius marketing plan that has us begging for more. Then, ten days before the theatrical release (in Japan) the Godzilla communities lit up with excitement… With 3 new 15 second T.V. spots and a full minute and a half trailer, we got another little tease at the awesomeness of the new Godzilla and the mind blowing effects this movie seems to be full of. And if you haven’t heard the rumors of a purple or violet colored nuclear/atomic breath, watch the new trailer to the very end . I guess we can say that those rumors are confirmed, for the most part.

In non Toho news, Legendary pictures' sequel to the 2014 American reboot Godzilla is on hold as Gareth Edwards is too busy with Star Wars and that seems to be pushing back all the other projects lined up for us here in the U.S.... Godzilla 2 (which is said to feature Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah) is slated for release in March 2019, but that is subject to change. Kong: Skull Island has a tentative release date set for 2017, and Godzilla vs. Kong is expected for 2020.

Godzilla Resurgence Update 04Also sorta confirmed is the news that Godzilla Resurgence is a reboot to the Godzilla franchise, which makes sense as the definition of resurgence is: an increase or revival after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence. And now,the big breaking news! According to the most informed Godzilla blogger I know of - August Ragone: Toho announced their greatest global distribution of all time at a press conference on July 19, 2016. Resurgence has been sold to 100 territories, with more pending. The film will open in Taiwan on August 12, the Philippines on August 24, Hong Kong and Macao on August 25, and Thailand on September 8th. Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America may be announced shortly.

So it looks like we will get to see the king of the monsters on the big screen this summer after all (or at least this fall). Godzilla Resurgence opens in Japan July 29, 2016, written by Hideaki Anno, directed by Anno and Shinji Higuchi, and starring Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara.

Godzilla Resurgence Update 05

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

By Kev B.

Silent Night Deadly Night poster

 

My favorite holiday horror flick is another one that brings me back to my awesome childhood, growing up in the 80’s with one of the coolest Moms on earth. Way back then, before the internet, we had a show with two opinionated douche nozzles who did movie reviews, called Sneak Previews and later At The Movies. A week before Halloween back in 1980, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had declared war on horror movies, and dedicated an entire episode of their show to a disturbing new trend in Hollywood, the slasher film. How douchey were they? Well, Siskels review of Friday the 13th for the Chicago Tribune included this gem of a quote "It has been suggested to me that a great way to keep people from seeing a truly awful movie is to tell them the ending" so he spoiled the reveal to discourage readers from seeing it. He also encouraged a letter campaign to harass the studio, producers, and even Betsy Palmer for taking part in the film.

Silent Night Deadly Night Controversy

In 1984 Siskel and Ebert reviewed Silent Night, Deadly Night. They said it was crude and mean spirited and that the profits made from the movie were blood money. They read the names of the film's production crew on air, shaming them and again encouraging viewers to send hate mail. Whenever they were outraged, Mom and I knew we had a winner and ran off to the theater to check it out. The more disgusted and repulsed they were, the more excited I would get. In fact, they’re the reason I write reviews today, as I had always wished I had a like minded critic whose opinion I could trust. And it really is all a matter of taste and opinion, including the debate on artistic merit. Ya ever heard the old saying: Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one… and most of them stink.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but the shit storm that ensued and the protests at showings of the film caused the studio to pull it from theaters a week or so after its release. Had it not been for that TV commercial running at dinner time across America, the movie probably would’ve had a moderate run in theaters and went unnoticed. And despite Silent Night Deadly Night out-grossing Wes Cravens A Nightmare On Elm Street, also released on the same day, they listed the film as one of the worst of 1984. The major fatal flaw was that 30 second television commercial, not the movie itself, as most of the outraged protesting parents didn’t even see 30 seconds worth of the movie.

"My 3-year-old son saw the television commercial for Silent Night, Deadly Night last week and now refuses to sit on Santa's lap for our annual Christmas picture this year. How dare producer Ira Barmak rob my child and others like him of their fantasy. Make the splatter films, if you must, about adult subjects and leave our holidays alone. What next? A marauding turkey at Thanksgiving? Think of the children!!!"

The subject of the controversy is almost more interesting than the movie itself, and in the long run it’s helped more than it hurt this fun little slasher. It put the movie on peoples radar, and actually solidified and justified its mark in horror history. It wasn’t the first killer Santa movie, and it aint the last, but its my favorite and it’s become a holiday tradition for me and many others out there.

Silent Night Deadly Night protest

Poor Billy Chapman never had a chance, he had that perfect storm of consequences that effected his life and mind so deeply it would’ve been a miracle if he turned out a well adjusted young man. The movie begins, Christmas eve 1971, with Billy at 5 years old visiting his grandfather at the Utah mental facility with his parents and baby brother Ricky. Grandpa seems catatonic until poor Billy is left alone with him for a few minutes, he snaps out of it and tells the young boy “Santy Claus only brings presents to them that's been good all year. All the other ones, all the naughty ones, he punishes! What about you, boy? You been good all year?” “You scared, ain't ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!”

With that still fresh in his young mind, the ride home is cut short by a chance meeting with a derelict on a crime spree dressed in a Santa suit. After witnessing his parents murdered at the hands of Santa, Billy and little brother Ricky are sent to St Mary's home for orphaned children and subjected to the strict disciplinary guidance of Mother Superior. Her sadistic abuse accompanied by noteworthy quotes like “Punishment is absolute, punishment is good!” and “When we do something naughty, we are always caught. Then we are punished!” Not the best place for a kid to grow up with a possible hereditary mental illness and extreme childhood trauma.

Billy gets a job at Ira’s Toy store as a stock boy, but when the holidays come around his attitude becomes a little erratic. Add to that the need for someone to fill in as the store Santa, and before we know it Billy is all dressed in red and white and looking a little stressed. The store closes and the bottle opens and the celebration begins, Christmas party at Ira’s. Turns out alcohol is the final trigger when Billy gets a few drinks in him, and before you know it holy holiday hell breaks loose. Billy goes into full on punish mode, and punish he does!

Maybe I give this movie extra credit for the nostalgia, but I still think it has a solid story, some interesting kills, and enough gratuitous sex and violence to get me thru most of the holiday season. He beheads a dude riding a sleigh. He strangles someone with a string of Christmas lights, He impales Linnea Quigley on the antlers of a taxidermied deer head, and if that don’t make you want to see it then disregard everything I’ve said and go watch Jim Carrey as the Grinch. I highly recommend you make Silent Night, Deadly Night part of your movie collection, and a holiday tradition in your home too. If you can find the double feature DVD it includes the sequel featuring Billys little brother Ricky, all grown up and crazy as hell. “Garbage Day!”

Depending on how much cheese you like with your horror there are 5 SNDN movies in the original franchise, and part 5 has Mickey Rooney in it too.

And remember… “You see Santa Claus tonight you better run boy, you better run for your life!”

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
RECAP: Ash vs Evil Dead, S01E02, Bait

RECAP: Ash vs Evil Dead, S01E02, Bait

By Kev B.

Ash V Evil Dead Episode 2

Okay so, episode one was a fun ride for the set up and introductions, but episode two, Bait, was a little more intense. All mixed in with that dark comedy that I look forward to each week. The series is progressing nicely, and episode three, Books From Beyond, is the best one yet!

Here is a little refresher before you get there:

  • We are starting to see that maybe Ash has had some trouble getting over the events of his first battle with evil. He seeks comfort in good ol’ sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, as fleeting as it may be. Upon receiving signs from the deadites that they are coming for him, he realizes he may have mistakenly unleashed the evil in a drunken/drugged haze trying to impress a woman. Detective Fisher went on a call with her partner of ten years and meets the aforementioned woman Ash was trying to woo, now possessed by Kandarian spirits. Fisher emerges the only survivor, and things are starting to look like they are happening for a reason and all roads lead to Ash.
  • Pablo (Ash’s coworker and only friend) intervenes on a Deadite attack in the stock room at Value Mart and saves Ash, prompting him to tell the tale of the cabin and the book. Pablo tells Ash how he was to be trained as a shaman by his uncle, a Brujo, and how he spoke of good and evil… And a man called El Jefe who will fight the evil. Naturally, Pablo thinks Ash is El Jefe and vows to fight with him. Meanwhile, Kelly (Pablo’s only friend and love interest), receives word her mother has returned home six months after his death. And we have Ruby, closing in fast on the trail of our heroes, who holds Ash responsible for the demise of her family.

Boomstick Bruce

Episode two, “Bait”, opens with Kelly speeding off to her parents’ house on Pablo’s motorcycle. Pablo tells Ash she took the book, which at this point Ash has decided to take to a bookstore to be translated. With Ash and Pablo on the way to Kelly’s parents’ house, they survive another Deadite attack and meet up with Kelly just in time for dinner. Ash’s instincts tell him things are not what they seem, and two shallow graves later, Kelly has the motivation to join Ash and Pablo to help rid the earth of the evil that took her family from her. Detective Fisher follows clues to Ashes trailer park and finds the business card for Books From Beyond, while his neighbors give a description to a sketch artist. And thanks to the delay at Kellys family’s home, Detective Fisher beats them to the bookstore. Stay tuned for episode three – Books of Blood.

My favorite quote from episode two:

So look, um… I’m not a grief counselor, but if it’s any consolation, I have had to kill and bury loved ones before… A bunch of times actually.
-Ash
Posted by Alan Smithee in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments
RECAP: Ash vs Evil Dead, S01E01, El Jefe

RECAP: Ash vs Evil Dead, S01E01, El Jefe

By Kev B.

Ash is a badass

So don’t even tell me you still haven’t seen the premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead yet. It’s been on Starz like every other hour since Halloween night. The staff here at Tortured Souls basically seems to concur that the show was awesome or they don’t get that channel. To them I said, It’s streaming free at Starz.com and also on the Ash vs. Evil Dead Facebook page. And now that you know, you have no excuse, either.

Now I’m not going to sugarcoat my review, but I really only had one small gripe. It’s those three words that make every old school gore hound cringe… Computer-generated imagery. Yep, they got some CGI goin’ on in there. We want practical effects and buckets of real (fake) blood a la Dead by Dawn, not CG splatter a la Sharknado. I guess all we can do is hope that with time and growing interest that the budget will increase and they can sell the computers and buy some buckets. Aside from that, I liked it a lot!

The king is back, and boy have we missed him! We join our reluctant hero some thirty years after the events of the Evil Dead or Dead by Dawn (not quite sure as the continuity is hazy at best). From what I gather, they don’t even have the rights to reference Army of Darkness. Ash is still stuck in the same kind of shitty job (at Value Mart now, no longer S-Mart) and he still drives the same classic ’73 Oldsmobile. He now lives in a mobile home in a trailer park in Michigan.

The show opens with Ash rockin’ out to some Deep Purple and suiting up to go out, maybe to kick some deadite ass? No, he speeds on down to a local bar, and enters strategically at 10 minutes before closing. He’s just out looking for some sugar, and his pick-up game is hilarious. His story of losing his hand by stopping a train to save a young boy (well, the truth would be harder to believe than this BS fiction) is too funny. Campbell’s performance is great, as always, and he seems right at home back in the role of Ash.

The episode sets up the show, introduces the characters, and got me all amped up for more. Unfortunately, the lovely Lucy Lawless was only in this episode for a short time. But she will play a big role in the future as a descendent of Professor Raymond (the one who discovered and translated the book), Henreitta, and Annie Knowby. The show as a whole looks to be promising, has me optimistic, and gives all of us Evil Deadheads something to look forward to each week, with new episodes Saturday night at 9pm on Starz.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments
Swallow this! It’s the premier of Ash vs. Evil Dead

Swallow this! It’s the premier of Ash vs. Evil Dead

By Kev B.

Ash VS Evil Dead

Hail to the king, baby… In preparation for what may possibly be the greatest television event in modern history premiering on Starz this Halloween, Ash vs. Evil Dead, we bring you a refresher course on all things evil and dead. First let us run down some reasons why I’m extremely excited for the show.

1. It’s created and produced by the team that brought us the original three movies, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert.
2. It’s a direct sequel to Army Of Darkness.
3. It’s got Bruce Campbell.
4. It’s got Lucy Lawless!?
5. It’s on Starz, the channel that brought us the nearly pornographic, ultra-violent splatterfest Sparticus. Do you like gladiator movies?
6. It looks like they got a nice budget to work with.
7. All the trailers and sneak previews look awesome.
8. Its already been renewed for a second season days before the premier, I guess based on audience reactions at screenings and online fan buzz.

I wouldn’t have the high hopes for greatness that I have, but horror has made a main stream resurgence that I for one never would have believed. If you had told me 30 years ago when I was sitting in the theater watching Day of the Dead that in the future a show about zombies would be the most popular show on television, I would have said you’re insane. But here we are, and Americans are horrified and amazed by the likes of American Horror Story, Scream Queens, and, of course, The Walking Dead (just to name a few of the popular new crop of horror shows).

Just in case you don’t know these movies by heart like the rest of us at House of Tortured Souls, Starz is running an Evil Dead marathon the night before the Halloween premier.

Friday October 30th @8pm EST Evil Dead, the original classic from 1981. Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

9:30pm EST Evil Dead II Dead By Dawn, my favorite of the series from 1987. The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

10:55pm EST Army Of Darkness, The over the top third installment in the franchise. Ash is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.

The show times look a little off, but this is direct from the Starz web site, so I suggest you check your local listings and set your DVR. accordingly. And don’t forget the premier of Ash vs. Evil Dead on Saturday the 31st at 9pm est, 9:45pm est, and again at 11:30pm est. Also airing Sunday November 1, 2015, and Monday, November 2, 2015.

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

By Kev B.

scarecrow

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

This obscure, family friendly, made-for-television horror classic instantly takes me back to Halloween’s long past. It is a tale of violence, bloodshed, and vengeance from beyond the grave. It originally aired way back on October 24, 1981 as a CBS Saturday Night Movie, when I was just 9 years old. Its’ known as one of the best made for t.v. horror films ever, right up there with Salem’s Lot and It.

In a small town deep in the south, a mentally challenged man with the mind of a child is wrongfully accused of terrible crime. Before he can be exonerated, the local good ol’ boys form a lynch mob and set out after him. The mob (led by the town postman) find, kill, and plant a weapon on our hero Bubba. When faced with the fact that Bubba was innocent, the postman and his crew lie on the stand and are found innocent due to lack of witnesses and evidence.

When fatal accidents start to befall the members of the vigilante group, ringleader Otis the postman is forced to commit even more crimes to cover his bloody tracks. But are they really accidents? Who is behind them? And who’s next? Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a tense, creepy little Halloween gem. For a long time, it was a difficult film to find in any format (as it pre-dated VCR in my house) and for years it remained only a fond memory. Now it is readily available on demand, on DVD, and even on YouTube.

I suggest if you’ve never seen it, watch it first, but I recommend owning a hard copy of this one! The film builds on tension and the end is an awesome pay off. Charles Durning (The Fury, The Muppet Movie) is despicable as Otis, and Larry Drake (Darkman, Dr. Giggles) is heartbreaking as Bubba. It’s a well made movie (especially considering it was made for TV), and what it lacks in gore it makes up for in creepiness.

So get some of that Halloween candy, gather the family, turn down the lights and get your spot on the couch... It’s time for the Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: It Follows (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: It Follows (2014)

By Kev B.

Follows 2

Before you decide to rent or buy It Follows to watch this month for Halloween, I thought I should let you know… Don’t bother. With all the buzz and chatter about this movie, I felt I had to check it out. They suckered me in with a whole heap of hype and a cool retro poster. So I offered to review it before I even read the plot summary, which almost made me turn around and back out. I’ve heard it described as similar to The Ring but instead of a videotape, the curse is transmitted sexually. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Except, The Ring didn’t totally let me down after all the hype it received way back in 2002.

Upon contracting this std curse you will be followed by an unrelenting malevolent force, and when it catches up with you, you’re dead. One problem, it follows you on foot, you can see it coming from a 1/4 mile away, and it travels at a sloth’s pace (much like the movie). Why would I be afraid of something I can literally run circles around? Trust me, it’s not that terrifying. To be honest, the first 4 minutes of the movie was the best part, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love and grew up on supernatural and curse films, but I think it’s the modern twist that I don’t like. I just can’t get into these so called original ideas they keep trying to incorporate into my horror. For instance, Spiritual entities traveling via the internet or electricity… I don’t want to call it unrealistic, being that I’m speaking on the supernatural, but I’m not buying it.

It Follows has been called “A classical horror masterpiece” and Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 96% approval rate. They say "it’s smart, original, and above all terrifying" and "it’s a rare modern horror film that works on multiple levels- and leaves a lingering sting". Yet I felt that the most terrifying part of this film was the fact that I had to kick in an extra 6 bucks on the cable bill to watch it, and that last part must have been a typo, I think they meant "it leaves a lingering stink".

Four months after its release, people are still talking about it. Even Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth have put their two cents in. Roth said the other day (9/22/2015) that “He should call it It Follows (but not its own rules during the pool and movie theater scenes).” But he then retracted the negativity and said he loved the film. Tarantino had made similar statements about inconsistent mythology and exchanged words with writer/director David Robert Mitchell via interviews. But in the end even he said it’s the best premise he’s seen for a horror film in a long, long time. Really Quentin?

I don’t want to say that this movie was garbage or it sucks, but I couldn’t wait for either something to happen or for it to just end. My review could be summed up with one word, boring! I never would have thought that with all the hype and positive reviews this film received, that I would have to struggle to make it to the end without losing consciousness.

Maybe this movie is for the new generation of horror fan, and I’m just a grumpy old man who misses the good old days. But I thought the kids today need constant stimulation to keep their interest, so I’m not quite sure who this movie was supposed to appeal to... But I'll tell you one thing, the critics sure liked it.

I’ve read about the symbolism and metaphors used in It Follows, but that is not why I’m watching a horror movie. That's why I watch David Lynch films. I watch horror for thrills, scares (although that’s rare), and some laughs (intentional or otherwise). So when a movie has no real comedic relief, I understand that it’s meant to be taken seriously. But that also means that I expect it to be scary or at least creepy. In my opinion, this was not.

At this point I guess I should tell you what I did like about It Follows. It has the look and feel of (sort of an homage to) John Carpenter’s Halloween. It has a synthesizer score soundtrack by a dude named Disasterpeace that sounds like Carpenter. The cinematography is very retro. Even the street where it was filmed looks like Michael Meyers old neighborhood. Oh, and it is so ripe for parody! After 5 minutes of thought, I want to write the parody myself. I think I can make it better than the original... And probably scarier, and it would be funny too.

The set design was brilliant and the inside of the house is like a time warp back to my childhood. But this is where one of my major problems with this movie starts. Why is the home décor from 1975, right down to the television with rabbit ear antennae, but the girl in the opening scene uses a cell phone, and another uses an e-reader? It’s obviously 2015 judging by the few bits of modern technology we see, but the car our main character does the nasty in is older than she is. This confuses me. I know anybody can own an old car, but not everybody has a TV. that predates remote controls.

So the movie is confused, and I’m confused. And like Tarantino said, it makes you mad that it isn’t a better film. With the cinematography, sets, and soundtrack, it would’ve been an excellent retro slasher / homage to classic horror from the golden age. But in the end I guess it doesn’t matter, because most of the other critics will tell you it was. In fact, it’s been called “the best horror film in over a decade” and “nothing short of amazing”. And I find that amazing. There must be something wrong with me.

If you want to watch a good movie about a curse, you would be better off watching Thinner or Drag Me To Hell! But, and again this is only my opinion, don’t waste your time on It Follows.

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

COMING SOON: Deathgasm (2015)

By Kev B.

Deathgasm

Deathgasm

In a world overrun with found footage films and remakes full of computer generated special effects, it’s not often I actually look forward to a new release, but I am seriously psyched for the new heavy metal splatter flick Deathgasm. It’s been described as “Brutal as fuck”, and I really hope it lives up to my unusually high expectations.

According to the synopsis in the press kit for Deathgasm at the official site:

High School is Hell! Metal-thrashing Brodie is an outcast in a sea of jocks and cheerleaders until he meets a kindred spirit in fellow metalhead Zakk. After starting their own band, Brodie and Zakk’s resentment of the suburban wasteland leads them to a mysterious piece of sheet music said to grant ultimate power to whoever plays it. But the music also summons an ancient evil entity known as Aeloth the Blind One, who threatens to tear apart existence itself. Their classmates and family become inhabited by demonic forces, tearing out their own eyes and turning into psychotic murderers... And this is only the beginning!

It’s up to Brodie, Zakk, and their group of friends to stop a force of pure evil from devouring all of mankind.

A blood-soaked and hilarious horror comedy, Deathgasm features an amazing original soundtrack of fist-banging metal and practical effects to satisfy metalheads and splatter fans alike. Deathgasm will gush bodily fluids, rain limbs, and tickle your funny bone, before tearing it out and giving you a stiff beating with it.

In an interview with metalinjection.net, writer/director Jason Lei Howden was asked to think of one sentence that would get readers excited about seeing Deathgasm. His reply:

If you took a baby, got it really stoned, made it listen to Skinless on repeat while an endless stream of horror movies played on a shitty old VHS player, feeding it only pizza, beer, and disapproval, then after a couple of decades it would end up making Deathgasm (Please don’t do that to an actual baby, you sick bastards).

He sounds like a man after my own heart, and has an impressive list of influences too. Citing fellow New Zealander Peter Jackson's Bad Taste as the first horror film he ever saw and Cannibal Corpse as the first metal band he ever heard, it sounds like his head and heart are in the right place to have created a new midnight movie masterpiece. He worked for Jackson's special effects company WETA Digital for six years but says the effects for Deathgasm are not CGI and the film is soaked in gallons of blood in an homage to gore fests like Dead Alive and Dead By Dawn.

With a sequel (Deathgasm II: Live Undead) already in the works, this semi-auto biographical coming of age story drenched in blood and guts is poised to become an instant splatstick classic. It looks like a good old “save the world and get the girl” kind of flick, dripping with gore, a nice dose of humor, and a soundtrack filled with some serious black and death metal. The countdown has begun. Coming to VOD and select theaters in the US on October 2, 2015.

View the full interview with writer/director Jason Lei Howden and check out the official Deathgasm website.

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
TRIBUTE: Remembering Wes Craven

TRIBUTE: Remembering Wes Craven

We Honor Genre Legend
Wes Craven

2 August 1939 - 30 August 2015

Wes Craven
When we here at House of Tortured Souls heard the tragic news about Wes Craven losing his battle with brain cancer, we were stunned and instantly saddened. It made us all realize what an indelible mark he has made in the film industry and with his fans and ourselves. And like many other sites, we decided to honor this revered master of horror and suspense and all say a little something about what the man and his films meant to us...

JOHN ROISLAND: When I was very young, I remember hearing adults talking of this horrific film called The Last House on the Left. I recall pieces of TV and newspaper ads for it and still more and more discussion about how disturbing and gross the film was, yet these ads and talks never seemed to have gone away. The funny thing was that the film came out the same year I was born, so that should give you some idea as to how long the impact of this film was. This was my first introduction to Mr. Wes Craven.

Moving forward a few years, I was in the 6th grade and had a few friends of mine staying the night. We had stayed up late watching this new horror movie on VHS called A Nightmare on Elm Street. To this day I remember how vivid my dreams were that night. This guy with knives for fingers chased me through this huge maze. This guy became one of the horror genre's most popular horror icons, as well as Wes Craven's most notorious character - Freddy Krueger.

For years to follow, Craven's films became the blood that flowed through my veins. The Hills Have Eyes, Shocker, The People Under the Stairs, and let us not forget one film that I thought was absolute genius: Scream. Who else would have used a story about horror films, to create a horror film?

Many years later, I caught up with my past and finally watched The Last House On The Left. The movie was, by this time outdated, and the special FX that one has grown to expect in movies weren't there, and ya know what? It didn't matter. The film stands on its own and is one of a kind. I can honestly say that all the things I had heard all those adult voices saying when I was just a little kid were true. Love it or hate it, it is one of the most powerful and disturbing films I have seen to this day!

I'm not going to lie and tell you the Wes Craven was/is my favorite writer/director, because he isn't. What I will say is that this master of horror deserves a huge amount of credit for his hand in shaping the horror film genre into what it is today. He was an inspiration and set filmmaking standards that will take many, many years for anyone else to match.

Thank you, Mr. Craven, for the beautiful nightmares.

 

AMY LYNES: I was in the seventh grade when I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street in the theater, and I was beyond terrified. I had truly never been that scared in my life. There were parts of the film where I couldn't even breathe, and I think I jumped out of my seat at least five times. And the terror didn't end when the credits rolled either. I was unable to sleep right for WEEKS. All these years later, I can honestly say that I have never had a film scare me the way ANOES did. The only other horror film that came even remotely close was also one of his films - Scream.

At the time, I had no idea that the director for ANOES and one of my childhood favorites, Swamp Thing, were one and the same. Swamp Thing showed me that appearances aren't everything, and it made me the type of kid who always rooted for the underdog and stick up for the kids who were bullied. That is something that has stuck with me my entire life, and it's huge part with who I am today.

While Scream isn't one of my favorite films, it did genuinely scare me the first time I saw it. It was the kind of thing every girl who has ever been home alone or has been a babysitter in someone else's home fears. Not since ANOES had a film given me nightmares and Scream did just that.

In the late 80s/early 90s, horror got boring for me. Everything seemed to lack originality or a formula that worked, and everything seemed SO predictable. Sadly, I kinda gave up on the genre for a while. Then in '94, Wes Craven gave us New Nightmare and he gave Freddy back to the fans. He got rid of all the cheesy lines and he made Freddy scary again. He instantly reignited my love of horror with one film.

Wes Craven seemed to have a way of honing in on what scared me the most, and his films have had a huge impact on me becoming the horror fan that I am today. His passing was truly a loss to the horror community and its fans. He will be missed - by myself and countless others - for decades to come.

RIP Mr. Craven. You will live on through your countless masterpieces and in the hearts of your fans. Thank you for all the screams.

 

STEPHANIE ROISLAND: I was very young the first time I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street. My family was not into horror at all with the exception of my older brother. I always knew I was different. I wasn't afraid of Freddy, he made me giggle. I was scared of the The Wizard of Oz, but The Hills Have Eyes intrigued me.

Wes Craven helped open my eyes to a world where everything twisted was acceptable and nightmares can be made into a reality on film. I loved the independent thoughts and freedom of his writing and movies. He, along with a handful of other directors/writers, gave me insight into a world where I fit in.

When I heard of Mr. Craven's passing this is what I blogged and it is still how I feel: "The goal of life is not to live forever, but to create something that will". And he accomplished just that. He will be immortal, not in the flesh but in his works. He has created a legacy that will live on and on with each generation. We will show our grandchildren his cult classics just as we did our children and show them how true horror really should be.

Rest In Peace, my friend, and here is to the immorality of Gods and Monsters.

 

DIXIELORD: Like so many horror fans, I first discovered Wes Craven with A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Freddy Krueger was no hulking, silent stalker, no shambling zombie, and no Gothic Victorian creature of the night. Freddy was something entirely new, a laughing, wise cracking demon from hell, and he was always waiting in your dreams. With him, Wes Craven had made my nightmares something to really fear. Those harmless nightmares might not really be so harmless. Over the years, Freddy became a pop culture icon as the films got more campy, and people knew that Freddy was really Robert Englund. Then, when Freddy was posing with babies, and riding on parade floats, Wes took him back, and made him scary again. In New Nightmare, Wes Craven crashed through the fourth wall at full speed, making Freddy more real and more terrifying than ever.

Thank you, Wes, for making my youth more fun and more exciting. Thank you for giving me nightmares and for inspiring my imagination, while reminding me it's all just a nightmare, and I can always wake up.

 

NICK DURHAM: Other than maybe John Carpenter, no other horror maestro's films have had the effect on me the way Wes Craven's had. Granted my feelings on The Last House on the Left are one thing, but that has its place in history and it set the stage for the greatness that would come. There was a time when nearly everything Craven touched turned to gold. Well...almost everything. Despite that though, a majority of his films have had quite an impact on me personally.

The Hills Have Eyes and, of course, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street are two of my all time favorite horror films in the history of ever. Not to mention the fact that he somehow managed to reinvigorate life into Freddy with New Nightmare and an extremely original and interesting premise that no other slasher franchise would dare take on. As much as I love John Carpenter to death, he's never gone down that road. That, in itself, really made me believe that anything could be possible in the horror genre besides the typical and tired tropes we see again and again.

Wes Craven breathed life and fresh air into so many different elements of the horror genre with his films. Granted his later work didn't do a whole lot to twist my knickers, but there's no denying the effect a majority of his work has had on me personally and how I view the horror genre in general. There's damn few other people in the genre that spoke to me like Wes Craven did, and all of us are worse off without his presence.

 

KIM RICKETTS: Early on in my journey into horror I was introduced to A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was young, probably first grade or so, and I remember sitting near my mom watching that gloved hand breach the water and get closer and closer to a dozing Nancy. I was terrified and captivated at the same time. I so badly wanted to look away but I couldn't. I was hooked.

The actual killings didn't scare me half as much as the psychological scares that Wes Craven put into his work. My whole life I've never been so much afraid of what I could see but what was lurking out there unseen and ready to get you at your most vulnerable time. The fact that you were less safe sound asleep and dreaming than when you were wide awake was a complete mind screw. I came to love the campy wit and pure genius that was Freddy Krueger. He became one of the bad guys that I wanted to win over and over.

The concept of New Nightmare was brilliant to me. To take Freddy from the screen and bring him into "real life" was frightening. Having Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund as themselves rather than Nancy and Freddy and then interact with a much darker, scarier Freddy made it seem like it really could happen.

With the Scream series, Craven hooked me again. I was in high school when the first film came out. I could relate. Sidney and her friends weren't all that different from my friends and me. We felt invincible and didn't follow rules for nothing. The fact that these kids were following horror movie rules that were basically every typical horror cliché was genius. This could happen in my town, and to my friends and me, and that just wasn't cool. We were indestructible, after all, and too young to die. It made it even scarier.

And that's what Wes Craven did so well. He scared you with what was in your mind. Whether it was Scream or The Last House on the Left, it could happen.

His scares will transcend time and his works will continue to frighten people for generations.

 

Dyametric 13: Wes Craven will be missed so much, by me and many others. As a director he wowed me. The second horror film I saw was A Nightmare on Elm Street. This film sparked something big in my heart for horror. It kept me wanting more. The first horror film I ended up seeing in the theater was Freddy's Dead. I actually talked my mother into buying tickets for me and a friend, and it was amazing.

The People Under the Stairs was another big film for me. I can't even tell you how many times I've watched it. "Fool" was a true hero in this film and the way he got the name, always makes me smile. The reason is a past story of my own.

A little known movie by the name The Fear (1995) was a film Wes didn't direct, but acted in. My name (Dyametric 13) comes from that film. I already knew what diametric meant, but watching this film made me love the word more. Dyametric 13 (with a slight spelling change) just stuck with me from that point on.

Even the Scream franchise has had some impact on me as a horror fan. It's not one of my favorites, but every now and then, I will still give it a watch.

The Serpent and the Rainbow truly terrified me. This film still gives me chills. I imagine waking up in a coffin, buried alive, now a living zombie, and it freaks me out. Knowing that this kind of stuff happens in real life? It makes the whole film just a bit more terrifying.

In my eyes, this man will never truly die. He has earned his place in horror history, and he is a true legend.

R.I.P. Wes Craven, you will be missed.

 

MACHETE VON KILL: I thought it would be easy to sit down and write about what Wes Craven and his movies meant to me. I thought it would be easy to put his impact on my life into words. I was wrong on both accounts, but I’m trying…

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the name Wes Craven is Freddy Krueger! I was 10 years old and at a slumber party the first time I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy scared the shit out of me! I had nightmares for weeks! I had a rounded plastic bird cage in my bedroom window, and at night it cast a shadow on my ceiling. That shadow looked just like Freddy’s famous fedora. I was positive that Freddy was going to come out of that shadow and get me in my sleep! I don’t scare easily (other than a few embarrassing phobias). I never have. Freddy got me good and, in the long run, I liked it.

Over the years I've watched many of Craven’s films. The Serpent and The Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, and the original The Hills Have Eyes are among my favorites.

I have to admit, by the mid 1990s I was bored with the horror genre. I didn’t have access to much in my small town, and what I did have access to was mostly CRAP. It was played out, lame, and had no story. I gave up on my beloved genre until Craven gave us the gift of Scream. That movie brought me back to the genre. Wes was able to remind me why I fell in love with horror movies in the first place. He brought back masterful storytelling, enhanced with gore, rather than gore just for the sake of gore. It was a love letter to the fans, and for that I can never thank him enough.

 

WOOFER McWOOFERSON: When I started this piece, I thought I would talk about the two Wes Craven movies that I like most. The more I think about it, though, the harder that has been. His impact on the horror industry is undeniable, so I decided the best course was to discuss 10 things Wes Craven taught us.

1) The Last House on the Left (1972) taught us that revenge isn't always a dish best served cold.

2) The Hills Have Eyes (1977) taught us that being on guard is never overrated.

3) Swamp Thing (1982) taught us that even plant monster men can love.

4) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) taught us that sleep really can be a bad thing.

5) Invitation to Hell (1984) taught us that Susan Lucci plays evil like nobody else.

6) Deadly Friend (1986) taught us to fear basketballs.

7) The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) taught us that Bill Pullman was more than a one trick pony.

8) Shocker (1989) taught us that the electric chair is not our friend.

9) The People Under the Stairs (1991) taught us that a lovely exterior can hide a hideous interior.

10) Scream (1996) taught us that there are rules to horror, and if you want to survive, you'd better know those rules and follow them.

Thank you, Mr. Craven. RIP.

 

KEV B.: We recently lost one of the brightest and most original minds in horror… Wes Craven who (among his other accomplishments) gave us Freddy Krueger and Ghostface. This is my posthumous praise for Mr Craven and his legacy. I was born in 1971 and raised in what I consider the greatest era of the horror genre. A time (in my opinion) of unparalleled awesomeness and the best time to be a young horror fan.

When I was about 12 years old my mom and I went to see A Nightmare on Elm Street on opening day, and I would venture to say it changed modern horror movies forever. I remember vividly, after the credits rolled, a man running out of the theater and projectile vomiting as Mom and I laughed.

It was unlike any other slasher of its time and gave us a new horror icon for the 80s... Freddy Krueger. Armed with a glove of knives for fingers and a killer wit, he slashed his way into our dreams and our hearts and established Wes Craven as a formidable force in the genre. After a few sequels, Freddy’s one liners became increasingly corny and he lost his initial menace, but the original is a true horror classic.

In the years to follow, Craven released The Serpent and the Rainbow and The People Under the Stairs, both of which are among my all time favorite movies and a departure from traditional horror. The Scream franchise was his big return to form, and he created a new icon for a new generation. Ghostface was a new kind of slasher with a whole new take on an old theme.

Wes Craven changed horror in my eyes, and with his passing horror will never quite be the same... Mr. Craven, you will be missed.

Wes Craven

Gone but never forgotten.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, 0 comments

Who Will Be the Next Freddy Krueger?

By Kev B.

Freddy

With the announcement by New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers of yet another A Nightmare On Elm Street reboot or remake or re-imagining… An online petition is in place and has over 200 signatures in three days time. It’s not what you are thinking; they’re not trying to stop it from happening. The fans have taken to the Internet to see if they can exert some influence as to who will be wearing the infamous sweater and glove this time around.

Just who could or should try to fill the shoes of the irreplaceable Robert Englund in the role that saved New Line and pumped fresh blood into the slasher genre back in 1984? Roberto Lombardi is the people’s choice, having starred in several short films as Freddy Krueger (before the vigilante justice) in:

Krueger: The Legend of Elm Street (2016)
Krueger: The Slasher from Elm Street (2014)
Krueger: A Walk Through Elm Street (2014)
Krueger: Another Tale from Elm Street (2013)
The Nightmare Ends on Halloween II (2011)
Krueger: A Tale from Elm Street (2011)

The Krueger shorts and an appearance as Freddy Krueger in an episode of Deadpool titled “A Nightmare on Pool Street” have earned him rave reviews and a well deserved cult following. Check out Roberto Lombardi as Freddy Krueger in the Elm Street shorts here at and sign the petition.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

By Kev B.

Amnesiac poster

On August 10, 2015, I was given the opportunity to attend Fangoria’s screening of Amnesiac, starring Wes Bentley and Kate Bosworth. It’s not often I go out to a movie, and if I do it’s because I think it needs or deserves the big screen experience. I went into this one with no expectations, and though this little movie with a cast of eight actors could have been more comfortably viewed from the couch, I was pleasantly surprised and actually didn’t regret coming out from under my rock.

The film (directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish) centers around Bentley’s character waking from days of unconsciousness with a cast on his leg, a head wound, no memory, and a strange feeling that all is not as it seems… Amnesiac starts off slowly and builds tension as the story unfolds. I can’t say much about the plot, for fear of spoiling any of the twists, and I also suggest not watching the trailer (it’s both misleading and gives away way too much). I felt like the less you know before viewing, the better off you are, and any preconceptions about this movie should be forgotten in order to fully enjoy it. It’s a stylish Hitchcockian neo-noir psychological thriller/mystery with characters that exhibit David Lynchish eccentricities. It’s a more cerebral film that leaves most of the gore up to your own imagination, with most (but not all) of the violence happening off screen.

I’ve seen some reviews that were unfavorable at best, but I really liked it and I give it a big dismembered thumbs up. It’s a well acted film (especially Bosworth’s icy Hitchcock blond), and Polish does a solid job in the director’s chair crafting a visually striking picture with the use of light and shadow… So much so that it almost appeared to be in black and white at times, and I would almost say it should have been.

If you are looking for a quirky little film with a little tension and some mystery (a little dark comedy), and an ending that I felt tied up most of the loose ends and gave a solid resolution, then I recommend this one for you. Amnesiac saw its wide release August 14, 2015, in theaters and VOD.

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