Tom Hiddleston

MIDI’S COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN 2018

MIDI’S COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN 2018

Each year I Countdown to Halloween and explore 31 Horror films that examine a variety of sub genres. I combine films both new and old. I explore the mainstream and indie. And I select from purely the good, bad and ugly (yes there are some truly awful films available to fans for laughs).

This year  I will be explaining each film for the House of Tortured Souls as I countdown to Halloween. Be warned that some of the small pieces on each film, are based on a sub genre and may in fact provide a spoiler or two.
OCTOBER 1
First sub genre I had set myself is to find a film with a Child Vampire. I chose  30 Days of Night  which has a scene involving a young girl vampire, in a pack that has over run the town of Barrow, Alaska.  Obvious other choices were Interview With A Vampire and Near Dark.
OCTOBER 2
On day two I was exploring films with people who could be considered Freaks so this time I selected The Abominable Dr Phibes
starring Vincent Price, as a mutant mourning his beloved.
Although Freaks by Tod Browning is my fave film in this vein, Phibes was the first horror film I saw when I was 3. It will forever be imbedded in my memory.
OCTOBER 3
Taking it to another level on day three, I wanted to find a film involving the strangest or most unique Horror Parents . This led me to select  It’s Alive (movie)for obvious reasons . Let’s face it , that kid had a face only a mother could love! A mutated baby literally is born and goes on the run leaving a wake of murderous terror. Not only is this film awesome fun, it also spawned 2 sequels and a remake!!
OCTOBER 4
I investigated the infamous adoration for films with that ultimate Twist Ending, selecting the Summer Camp Classic Sleepaway Camp
This of course was one of many options but discovering what is “wrong with Angela” is always great. Other possibilities are films like The Perfect Getaway (in which the twist is revealed midway through the film, yet doesn’t ruin the pace). Also included could be The Sixth Sense, And Switchblade Romance (aka Haute Tension).
OCTOBER 5

For my selective viewing for an impressive Indie horror film was Phil Stevens Flowers.The film is silent. It has such

Hereditary

strong visual imagery and features the demise of a group of beautiful women (the flowers themselves). Stevens is currently in production on Flowers 2.

OCTOBER 6
Was the sub genre of crime as told through the True Story narrative, I chose the film Dear Mr. Gacy. This film is inspired by the Jason Moss’ book The Last Victim. Moss discusses a relationship he created with the serial killer as he studied him in college. It is also sad to know that Moss was so affected, by the stranglehold Gacy ended up having on his life.  His psyche was fractured and in 2006 Moss committed suicide. I highly recommend the book as well as this film. It proves the power of those with such depraved impulses as Gacy.
OCTOBER 7
I was was trying to avoid the usually popular picks for the sub genre of Sea Creatures. I wanted to avoid The Deep, Jaws and Orca. Instead I landed on the highly memorable and classic Universal icon the Creature from the Black Lagoon
OCTOBER 8
A simple sub genre in which of course A LOT of possibilities popped up, to view limbs replaced with weapons. For me this is a film I enjoy, in its true GrindHouse style. It has a strong female lead, that pulled me in. With the teaming of Tarantino and Rodriguez , I had to go with the machine gun leg of Rose McGowan in Planet Terror
OCTOBER 9

The selection as a huge foreign film fan was tricky, and I had to find one Asian Horror film. In the past I have enjoyed the likes of Ringu, JuOn, Phone, The Red Shoes, One Missed Call and Shutter. However I felt a revisit to the

Train To Busan

surprise runaway Zombie hit  Train To Busan was a good idea- and having only seen it once upon release, I wanted to see if it still was as enjoyable (which it is).

OCTOBER 10
This day was Lloyd Kaufman’s empire known affectionately as Troma films, I had to try and find one that I loved to watch as my choice from their stock. This was easy as I love the campy cheesy quality of a good Troma film , from Poultrygeist to Tromeo and Juliet. I decided on One of Troma’s most lucrative franchises with the lovable film  The Toxic Avenger
OCTOBER 11
I realised some franchises have MORE than their fair share. From Nightmare on Elm St (9 films), Friday the 13th (12 films) , or even Halloween ( 11 films) many sequels were imaginable, but for me my taste was drawn to the Children of the Corn Franchise (which has 10 films with the release of Runaway in recent months). Out of those sequels (and a remake) I chose Children of the Corn 666: Issac’s Return, because it is the first film after the original to reintroduce Isaac – one of the horror film worlds most messed up child preachers in history.
OCTOBER 12
For European horror my mind raced straight to  Mörderische Ferien (aka Flashback:A Murderous Vacation), a quirky German teen horror film, that featured campy gags, a psycho on the loose, bumbling cops and some fun kills. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a diamond in the rough and I liken it’s cheekiness to the original Scream film by Wes Craven.
OCTOBER 13
I was tasked with finding a horror movie starring Robert England, but It had to be anything but his role as Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films. With options like 2001 Maniacs and Urban Legends available I recalled The Mangler and viewed that. A film based on a short story from Stephen Kings  collection, that has since inspired two sequels.
OCTOBER 14
Horror Creatures dominated the day, so I thought long and hard about all sorts and settled on  Zombeavers. A simple comical romp with manic beavers at a lake side cabin, and a group of foolish college kids.
OCTOBER 15

Pinnochios Revenge

I decided on a film for my ghostly theme, with a classic spooky story featuring George.C.Scott called The Changeling .

This was my favourite pick for the ghastly ghost genre and although I enjoy films like the original version of The Haunting, Rose Red an others with various paranormal entities, The Changeling is an atmospheric joy to rewatch.
OCTOBER 16
An obvious choice for day 16’s infamous horror hotel themed entry , was to go with the mother loving Norman Bates insanity of Alfred Hitchcock’s PsychoPsycho epitomizes the horror hotel themes, with the “mother” of all memorable moments, but I will give shout outs to other possibilities such as Horror Hotel, Motel Hell, And Room 1408 ( which has actually been picked for another sub genre day in this challenge).
OCTOBER 17
Re examining the Psychotic Hitchhiker sub genre for day 17, I decided against the classic Hitchhiker films or even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and went with a modern Ozploitation thriller called Gone (aka Middle of Nowhere). The film starred Scott Mechlowicz , Amelia Warner and Shaun Evans and followed an American and two British tourists backpacking in Australia with deadly consequences.
OCTOBER 18
The 18th choice calls for me to watch  a 2017 Film and I thought this was a perfect chance for me to re explore one that had a dismal run cinematically upon its release. I found it to be an entertaining and seemingly good film, but The Dark Tower  was a far cry from the nature of the original source material developed over many books by Stephen King.
OCTOBER 19
My 19th watch is a film released in 2018, so I thought I would take this opportunity to return to Hereditary. Originally when I saw this film it was such a slow build intro I lost interest and was unable to finish it so I hope as I do so I will complete it today.
OCTOBER 20
I will turn to Horror with a number in the title. With many options open to me I looked at 2001 Maniacs, Germany’s 666: In Bed With The Devil And found Stephen Kings Room 1408. An interesting and twisted story of a hotel room from Hell, this is a great little film with a strong cast.
OCTOBER 21
I needed  a film with a strong female killer. I will be avoiding  Switchblade Romance, Mothers Day, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Fatal Attraction. Instead I feel that Guillermo Del Toros psychotic sister in his film Crimson Peak was a great choice – and I am a huge fan of this film and it’s themes throughout.
OCTOBER 22
The 22nd for me is the most fun sub genre and one of the lesser appreciated, Disney Horror! Yes these films actually were made , exist and are awesome fun to horror fans. You can go for the slightly thrilling or the fun and goofy kids fodder. I went with the latter . My favourite Disney Horror is actually Something Wicked This Way Comes, that starred  freakishly awesome Johnathan Pryce in the role as Mr Dark. However I wanted a calmer, shorter film for my viewing and went with Richard Masur (best known as Adult Stanley Uris in the 1990 IT miniseries) in the film Mr Boogedy. It also has a sequel ,as they were hugely popular films during my childhood.
OCTOBER 23
Joyfully I found my 23rd film choice at this years Sydney Film Festival, when I attended a screening for the Supernatural New Zealand film The Changeover. With a young fresh cast and some more familiar faces (Timothy Spall and Melanie Lynskey), it is a strange and yet engaging story of a girl coming into her powers and using them to save her family from an evil force.
OCTOBER 24
I attended the premiere screening of my 24th film in Sydney at MonsterFests Travelling Sideshow. And it was such a powerfully musical film I had to use it for Best Soundtrack. The Strangers 2: Prey At Night didn’t have to try too hard to impress, with the delightful antics of our insane trio on screen being played out to 80s hits with gusto!
OCTOBER 25
On the 25th I will avoid the predictability of Dolls, Chucky, Annabelle , Puppetmaster or Demonic Toys for the Doll/toy Horror film. Instead I am returning to view an oldie that I have enjoyed before, called The Pinocchio Syndrome (aka Pinnochios Revenge). It’s about an evil Pinocchio puppet that once you cut his strings becomes a killer.
OCTOBER 26
My usual pick for the Worst Horror film for day 26 is abysmal
Dracula 3000 ,and if you have seen it you’d understand. This year I thought I would go with one, that I often refer to as the BEST film for drinking games. It is called Grim Weekend (aka S.I.C.K). Grim Weekend and follows a hopeless bunch, who venture off on a mini break and are beseeched by a psychotic clown. Sounds fun right? Sadly this film has a score that is cheesy, effects that are lame and a cast so utterly annoying it is only good for games. Have the shots ready and let’s play.
OCTOBER 27
On the 27th I will inspect the aspect of Horror Tv Episodes with We All Scream for Ice Cream (Masters of Horror episode). It is an impresssive part of a large collection done by talented directors. This anthology series has some intriguing storyline’s and very colourful characters.
OCTOBER 28
For the 28th I needed to focus on choosing a film that had Great Poster Art. I couldn’t ignore the awesome screaming, burning human on the cover of David Croenenbergs 1981 supernatural horror film Scanners. Any artistic eye can see the beauty in that image, as much as any other.
OCTOBER 29
My least enjoyed sub genre is the Found Footage one. So on the 29th having to pick one from the few I enjoy was taxing. Being able to sift through some good ones I like, such as Afflicted and Cannibal Holocaust, I remembered the immensely impressive  The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
OCTOBER 30
Being the youngest of three children obviously for horror siblings, my immediate thought was my brothers (just kidding and yes they know I love them dearly). No instead I selected the classic black and white film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? starring feuding actresses (and on screen sisters) Bette Davis And Joan Crawford.
OCTOBER 31
To round out my viewing pleasure this month, I will end on a more jovial note with a horror musical. I put aside my usual fun choices of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment, Repo: A Genetic Opera or even Little Shop Of Horrors. Instead I opted for 2014’s Stage Fright.
I always encourage others to explore a variety of films when embarking on creating a watchlist. Watch as much of the things you don’t get to. Watch new films. Watch old films. Watch films from various parts of the world. And always include the good,the bad and the ugly.
And have a Happy Halloween!
Posted by Michelle MIDI Peifer in Categories, EDITORIALS, HALLOWEEN, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

No Monkey Business

Kong: Skull Island promo poster
Kong: Skull Island is a movie I have looked forward to with a mix of eagerness and trepidation. I love the big guy, but he hasn't been done justice since the 1933 Merion Cooper original. Through two remakes, two sequels, and a Japanese re-imagining, nothing has come close to that magnificent romp to the top of the Empire State building. Kong: Skull Island won’t make you forget the original, but it might just reignite your love for the big monkey.
Skull Island has always held a fascination for me, ever since I watched the Cooper original. A hidden island, surrounded by perpetual fog, spoken of in whispers, and one word, Kong. What an imposing island with its huge skull shaped cliff face. Whose inhabitants hid behind a huge wall from the monstrous Kong. But the giant ape wasn't the only horror on the island, dinosaurs, giant snakes, spiders and who knows what other abominations.
John C Reilly steals Kong: Skull Island
So when I heard there were plans for a Skull Island movie, I was a little bit excited. Those hopes dimmed a good bit when I learned the movie was going to be used as a springboard into a monster mash between Big G and Kong. Then hearing it was basically a reboot of the Kong mythos, I really despaired about the film. But I was still eager to see it. The first photos and trailers showed a wonderful looking Kong. Yet that trailer also showed not so great looking CGI dinosaur-like creatures, and lots of explosions and fire, Visions of Michael Bay suckiness danced in my head.
Luckily for me, other King Kong fans, and moviegoers in general, this was far from a Michael Bay film. Kong: Skull Island is more than a filler movie, meant to shoehorn the ape into a shared monster universe. It's a good movie, the best King Kong film since the original, which admittedly isn't saying a whole lot.
Samuel L Jackson isn't interested in bringing Kong back from Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is still at heart a movie about the struggle of man against nature. Humans again venture onto his island, but there’s no attempt to bring him back. Instead it's a battle to the death between Kong and Samuel L Jackson's Col Packard. With Packard, Kong is up against perhaps his most dangerous adversary ever. His motivation for battling Kong isn't greed, it isn't science, it's revenge, or, as he would see it, justice. Justice for the men killed by Kong in their first encounter. But it's more than just revenge that drives Jackson's character.
Packard is a warrior without a war. Skull Island is set in 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. The men under Packard's command are eager to go home, yet Packard seems lost. He jumps at the chance for one more mission. This is a war he won’t abandon, like he feels Vietnam was. So as much as he tells his men, and us, and himself, that it's for revenge; it's really that he has nothing else. In killing Kong, he hopes to make up for losing the bigger war. The scene of Kong and Packard eying each other with unbridled anger is chilling, Packard is Jackson's best role in quite some time.
Skull Island gives us more than just a potential worthy adversary for Kong. It does something no other King Kong movie has done and that few action movies do well. It developed characters between the 1-3 lead characters. We get to know, at least a little about almost every member of Packard's command who survives the initial assault. We see that camaraderie, and we learn little things about them. They are more than just cannon fodder, so when they die, we feel it.
Tom Hiddleston and Brie are the moral counterpoint to Packard. Hiddleston is ex-British Intelligence John Conrad, hired to scout for the party, Larson is war photographer Mason Weaver, or as she likes to call herself an “anti war” photographer. It was easy to foresee Larson as the Ann Darrow character made famous by Fay Ray; however, Kong: Skull Island didn't go that route. The damsel in distress plot line is completely abandoned. Weaver is able to hold her own, as much as anyone, against the inhabitants of Skull Island. Hiddleston, while doing a fine job as the heroic savior who stands against Packard and the evil “skull crawlers”, is upstaged by John C Reilly.
Honestly, if there is one major positive surprise, it's in Reilly's performance. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Reilly. While I loved him in Step Brothers, his Dr. Steve Brule annoys me. In Kong, he plays a downed World War II pilot, trapped on the island for 30 years. He provides some great comedic moments in Kong, but he's more than a funny guy displaced in time. He stands tall as a heroic character later in the film, as well as the most touching moment in the film. He comes very close to completely upstaging both Hiddleston and Jackson. I never thought I would type that, really, I'm shocked.
Visually the film is impressive, with beautiful shots that pay homage to the original King Kong (the scene of him holding a wet Larson in his hand.) There are also scenes that hearken back to Vietnam war movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. You could almost forget you are watching a giant monster movie at times.
The story, with the visuals, and characters, becomes an anti war movie of sorts. We see Packard, a man who doesn't know how to live without war, we see Weaver, who hates war, and we see Conrad, who's tired of war. And we see all of the grunts who just want to make it home to their families. But it never lingers long enough on the anti war sentiment to bog it down or make it not fun. The subtext is there, but it's not always front and center.
But I think what I liked most is that Kong: Skull Island finally makes the monkey a full fledged hero. Come on, we all cheered when he swatted down that biplane, and we all cried, when he fell and we heard, “It was beauty that killed the beast.” Here Kong is a force of nature. He's a god for all intents and purposes. Here to protect the natural order against the monsters that lie below. It's very similar to the twist on Godzilla in his 2014 remake. And it was far from unintentional. This Kong has no natural hatred or fear of the tiny humans. He acts as their protector, at least till you piss him off, and seems curious about them at times. Maybe some of it was a bit hokey, but, fuck you, I like Kong as the good guy.
And Kong looks good. Maybe better than he ever has. He looks more like an ape in the face, although he's still more bipedal than any true ape. His fight scenes are epic, especially when he decides to show off his tool-using ability. More than anything else, this is a fun movie.
I'm trying to stay spoiler free, but it's no secret that this is a set up for Kong vs Godzilla. So it should be no secret that the big guy manages to make it though Skull Island. But that's all I'm saying. Now go see it yourself. No monkey business, just 4 stars out of five.
Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Crimson Peak (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Crimson Peak (2015)

By Dixielord

Guillermo Del Toro definitely knows how to make a big beautiful film, but can he do a horror movie? His last ghost movie, Mama, just didn't do it for me. The wispy CGI ghosts just don't do it for me, and while it wasn’t a bad story, the ghosts bored me more than frightened me. But now he tries again with Crimson Peak.

Crimson Peaks Jessica Chastain

Crimson Peak's Jessica Chastain

Crimson Peak is a big scale Gothic ghost story starring Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska (Stoker). And let's get it straight if I try and type Mia's gull name over and over I'm going to eventually fuck it up, so from now on, I'm sticking to Mia.

Mia plays Edith Cushing, the heir to her father's fortune who is haunted by the ghost of her dead mother. She finds herself, and her father's money courted by the titled, but broke, Baronet Thomas Sharp played by Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Thor). This doesn't sit well with her father played by Jim Beaver (Supernatural), or the president of the local biker club, whoops, local doctor and childhood friend Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy). After her father's murder, she agrees to marry Hiddleston and move to his ancestral home, known by the locals as Crimson Peak. There the hauntings continue and animosity grows between Mia and her sister in law Lucille played by Jessica Chastain (Mama). Back in America the jilted Dr. McMichael (Hunnam) investigates and finds things the good Baronet is hiding things. He rushes to Crimson Peak to save Edith, but with her health mysteriously declining and winter setting in, will he be in time?

Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak

Mia in Crimson Peak

With Crimson Peak, Del Toro has crafted a truly beautiful film. Even his ghosts, beyond the black wispy phantoms, he has added a blood red to go with the films title and theme. The ghosts also have a bit more substance than those in Mama. As they rise out of the floor and walls of the dilapidated castle, I'll admit they made me jump a couple of times. I'm still not a big fan of the CGI ghost, buy they looked better than in Mama. They seemed to have more substance, which made them a bit more realistic and creepy.

The scenery likewise is beautiful to behold. The manor home that is falling apart and especially the white snow, dyed red by the clay that gives Crimson Peak it's name. Then add to that the cast of beautiful people in Hunnam, Hiddleston and Mia, and you have a film that is a visual treat.

But is it scary? Like I mentioned above, it actually gave me a few startles and I cant complain about that. Mostly however, Crimson Peak is a Gothic ghost story, more focused on romance and mystery than horror. It harkens back to when ghosts were more of a protective and warning spirit than an agent of chaos. While the ghosts do provide some scares, they necessarily where the horror lies in Crimson Peak.

The main story here is the mystery that Crimson Peaks holds. What happened to the mother of Thomas and Lucille? What is the relationship between the two siblings and what is the secret that he desperately tries to hide from Edith? And can Jax move on from his father’s death to lead the club, wait no, another project...

Charlie Hunnam in Crimson Peak

No motorcycles or giant robots for Charlie Hunnam in Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak ends up being a bit of a tragedy, and I wont give away any more than I have already. Go see it. It's not a grand horror movie, but it is a well acted, and beautiful ghost story with a real Gothic feel. I'm giving it 7 and ¾ stars out of 10.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
King Kong vs Godzilla: Is It Coming?

King Kong vs Godzilla: Is It Coming?

By Dixielord

It's the battle that Kajiu fans have been waiting for and it's looking like King Kong vs Godzilla might actually happen in a few years. The two behemoths have met in a Japanese production back in 1962. However, with the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, and a new King Kong movie coming in 2017, time is ripe for a new mash up. News this week that Legendary Pictures is moving its Kong: Skull Island film to Warner Brothers, home to the rebooted Godzilla franchise, seems to confirm a match-up is is in the works.

King Kong vs Godzilla is still little more than a rumor, but Kong: Skull Island seems to be moving full steam ahead. Already Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Avengers), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), and Brie Larson (Trainwreck) are attached, and it's rumored Samuel L Jackson is being considered for a role. The film is set to be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and is currently in pre-production.

Meanwhile, Kong's potential punching bag, Godzilla, isn't being ignored. Director Garth Edwards has a sequel to his 2014 hit scheduled for 2018. In an interview with Collider magazine he hinted that Godzilla 2 would be “bigger and better”, leading many to believe it will feature more monster on monster action. One of the few complaints of Godzilla was the lack of monster battle, compared to human drama.

Meanwhile Toho Studios, owner of the Godzilla trademark, has their own Godzilla reboot scheduled for 2016. The film will not be connected to the American Godzilla series or the proposed King Kong vs Godzilla but rather a standalone film. Toho is promising that their Godzilla will be the largest version of the monster ever seen on film.

Combing the two movie mega monsters seems like a logical thing to do, especially with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, I have to wonder with both Kong and Godzilla under the Legendary banner, could we see more collaborations? Legendary's other Kaiju property Pacific Rim was distributed by Warner Brothers, and a sequel is planned for 2017. The Sequel, Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, is currently set to be distributed by Universal, but could it be moved back? Surely someone at Warner can see the potential of a large interconnected Kaiju Universe? Or maybe I'm just getting my hopes up.

For now, it's all still really early, but the King Kong reboot, and Godzilla sequel seem to be a sure thing. A King Kong vs Godzilla could, however, depend on the success of one, or both of these films. Personally, I'd love to see the match up. It might not be high cinema, but it should be a hell of a fun movie.

Posted by Allen Alberson in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment