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FilmQuest 2021 Shorts To Keep An Eye Out For

Posted by Sharai Bohannon on January 24, 2022 Inch Thick scaled - FilmQuest 2021 Shorts To Keep An Eye Out For

FilmQuest 2021 had a strong short film game that needs to be celebrated.

While away at FilmQuest, I discovered so many short films that I loved. There were 207 shorts programmed into this years’ festival (not counting web series, animated shorts, and music videos). I wanted to talk about at least 115 of them. That would make this the longest article in the history of the internet though. So, instead, I caught up with seven directors to talk to them about their movie.


Directed by Eric Swiz

Where can people find more information about your movie?

You can follow us @bookthefilm on Instagram and facebook.com/bookthefilm. Or shoot me a DM!

How long did it take you to film it?

Four days …over two years.

What drew you to this piece? 

Roger Casey approached me with his script after he and I met on my feature. I’d known Roger as an actor, but after reading BOOK, I knew immediately it was a film I wanted to make with him. BOOK turned out to be something of a response to a lot of the creative and personal disappointment he and I had been experiencing in our own ways. It was a thrill to commit whole-heartedly to an absurd idea and to take it as seriously as possible, which might sound backward to anyone who’s seen the film.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

God, after the last two years plus of actual real-life horrors, I just want the audience to have a good time. We had such a blast making this film, I’d hope anyone watching can feel that and share in it.

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

Me personally, no, but never say never. I was heavily influenced by the fake movie trailers in 2007’s Grindhouse, directed by Edgar Wright, Eli Roth, and others. I love all of those as self-contained pieces and never once wished for a feature-length version of any of them. I don’t think every idea needs to be a feature. Sometimes 3-6 minutes is all you need to get an idea across.

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

“I’ve always been a fan of not only B-horror, but also spoofs like Airplane!, Hot Shots: Part Deux, Men in Tights, and of course Scary Movie and to a degree Evil Dead 2. Horror’s a genre that often walks a line with comedy. I think a good spoof starts first and foremost with a deep and unabashed love for the genre or source material they’re dissecting. A quality spoof knows the rules of the genre or source material inside and out. It’s neither interesting nor fair to point and say “Oh, look how terrible,” at films like Manos: Hands of Fate or Troll 2— made on a wing and a prayer by hardworking folks with a vision. Anyone who’s ever made a film knows how goddamn difficult it is, and the fact that anyone’s ever finished one is a minor miracle.

Also Read: FilmQuest Review – Code Name: Nagasaki is a Poignant Doc About Friendship and Filmmaking

So with all that in mind, it was the proper tone that Roger and I spent months hammering out before even beginning to audition actors. It made the casting process surprisingly challenging. I stumbled flailing into that conversation of “What is camp??” Does anyone know???” Nobody making a bad movie knows it’s a bad movie until it’s too late, was my thought. So as very talented actors playing bad actors playing their characters with the utmost seriousness, I must give special acknowledgment to Kassandra Cruz, Lynn R. Guerra, Peter Kendall, and Roger Casey. I’m fortunate to have worked with a cast that took on deceptively difficult roles and poured their hearts into hilariously tragic performances. Shouts out also to Chelsea Paige who was the mastermind behind all our practical effects! I could spend a paragraph talking about those too.”

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

I’m currently wrapping up post-production on a feature film, Scenes From the Underground, about the New York subway. Folks can find more of my work at ericswiz.com or come find me on Instagram and Twitter @eswiz!


Directed by Christian Bachini

Where can people find more information about your movie?


How long did it take you to film it?

30 days for the full 28 minutes Director’s Cut. The Festival Cut is instead 16 minutes.

What drew you to this piece? 

I have lived for many years in Shanghai doing action films and fight choreography and helped many filmmakers create their debut shorts or features working for free and getting injured without complaining, but when it came the time for them to help me, pretty much everyone refused. I was really upset and disappointed, I really wanted to debut as a director, showcasing my style of directing and storytelling.

So one night I went back home really disappointed and I began to think: “I am pretty much alone, I can only use my savings as a budget, so what can I shoot that would require just one location, me as an actor and maybe a villain that cannot be seen in order to save money?” Also, having tasted firsthand how people can be selfish and just take and take and take everything from someone else without giving back anything, I wanted to include this message in my story. Tell a story of a selfish and toxic person that feels untouchable but that will find himself facing something from which he has no chance to run away from. A story of fate and consequences for one’s actions.

Also Read: FilmQuest Review – Come For the Laughs, Stay For the WTF Moments in ‘Keeping Company’

At the same time, I wanted to create something new and fresh, I love horror with all my heart but a lot of movies nowadays follow the same pattern, a lot of films are contained in specific boxes and now everything is an homage to the past, homage to slashers, homage to the 80s, etc etc. I wanted to create something that would look forward instead. It’s cool to recreate those feelings from great horror films of the past, but the horror genre needs fresh blood and fresh ideas, it cannot be chained always in the past. And so, with all that in my mind, Escalation was born. In two nights I wrote a full feature film script of 170 pages.

But doing Escalation as a feature would have been impossible and then Covid came out so I decided to take one of the scenes at the beginning of the film, extend it and make it into a simpler short film that takes place during quarantine and the global pandemic and deals in a shorter time with the message that I wanted to send. A bad conscience will always eat you alive, sooner or later life always gets back at you.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

I hope that knowing how Escalation came to be, people will remember that in life everything is possible if there is a dream inside our hearts. If there is a fire that burns inside of us, that drives us toward our goals, use that fire as fuel to keep pushing and getting up every time life or other people knock you down. Keep fighting always, I hope my short can be a reminder of this very important lesson. I was alone, and also had people telling me I wasn’t probably that great or talented, but instead of giving up, I used their words to ignite that fire inside of me even more. I knew their words were coming from a place of jealousy, of fear.

So I went out, looked for those few people that I knew would help me even if what I could pay them wasn’t much, and took on a dozen roles myself while on set and started shooting. And, as I was expecting by putting love and effort into the project, a good thing came back to me, in the midst of shooting, as I was finishing up all my savings, a great friend of mine, Antonio Vannucci, who collaborated also on the score, came to the rescue and decided to help me with the budget. It was tough and tiring but in the end, Escalation was born.

And now the audience loves it, it is winning awards all around the World and I have people coming up to me to tell me what a great experience watching my film was. I proved all those that wanted to shut me down wrong. With just one short, with my first time directing I have even achieved more than many of those people achieved in Years of shooting features. So I hope Escalation can be a symbol for all the dreamers out there, a reminder that if you don’t give up, in the end, you will come out on top.   

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

As I mentioned, Escalation was born as a feature. So definitely yes, I am looking forward to that and will probably move to LA in order to get the project off the ground. Also, I still want to tell the full story of the character that people have seen in the short film version. In the feature film, his story is much more complicated, what he learns about himself and how his conscience gets to grow out of his selfish nature is a much deeper and scarier, and gorier journey lol. Plus I really want to create this new mix of genres that I could not deliver in the short film.

The feature film of Escalation has all kinds of crazy things blended in, body horror, evil clones, hallucinations, dark comedy, action, and even martial arts as I want to incorporate the skills I acquired in Asia into my films. And the thing that I am really looking forward to is to shock people with the final reveal in the story because Escalation will appear as many different things, a haunted house film, a demonic possession film, a psychological thriller but the question is…is it really? Or is there something else going on behind the scenes?

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

People walking out of the set. When I started shooting Escalation I made it clear to the crew that as a director I wanted to obtain the maximum quality possible, that even if the budget was small I wanted to make my short look and feel like a big Hollywood production with top-notch art direction and cinematography. Also, my camera work is really dynamic, when I follow the story or the action my camera rarely stands still. And I told everyone on set, just about 10 people, to get ready for it, that it would be tiring but very rewarding in the end. Well, after the first few days, many started to complain that I was too much of a perfectionist, that the short is just a short and it doesn’t need to look amazing, average is good enough, and all these kinds of crazy things.

So I ended up changing crew three times. I shot the second half of the film with just 8 people on set. Even the person helping me with the practical makeup fx refused to help me more than once, in two key scenes. This person would tell me that I didn’t have the right tools to pull off some effects and refused to help me think about a way to make it work. So I told this person in the most kind of way, just go in another room and rest and I will call you once I am done. I figured out a way to make the effects work and in the end, the two scenes in question ended up being the audience’s favorite.

As I was saying, never let anyone tell you that something cannot be done. If you can imagine it, it will be done one way or another. The beautiful thing about all this is that in the end, I found out who were the people really deserving and passionate. Those who stuck with me till the very end. I know now that they will always have my back and I will do all I can to bring them with me in this journey up ahead.

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

I am planning to get the feature film version of Escalation off the ground, hopefully in quite a short time and if people want to know more about me or my past in Shanghai as an action actor and martial artist they can visit my Facebook @OfficialChristianKang and follow me on Instagram: christiankangbachini

Every Time We Meet For Ice Cream Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes

Directed by Anthony Cousins

Where can people find more information about your movie?

My Instagram: aj_cousins

How long did it take you to film it?

3 days

What drew you to this piece? 

I’m a big fan of Carlton Mellick who is the author of the novella this short is based on. He writes incredible works of bizarro fiction, bringing you to the strangest and most disturbing recesses of the imagination, but he finds a way to always wrap them up in a very meaningful and heartwarming way. When I read Face Explodes I immediately saw the potential for an adaptation and Carlton was kind enough to allow us to take a crack at it.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

Hopefully, it delivers on the gore people have come to expect from our projects, but with a really heartwarming message, even your grandma could appreciate.

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

I am putting together a pitch for an anthology series(that could also be a feature) taking place in this grotesque bizarro bubblegum world.

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

The FX! We made camera-worthy practical heads of our actors and then digitally 3D scanned them so they could be animated in a way that couldn’t have been achieved on set.

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

We are currently finishing up our first feature film, Frogman! You can find me on Instagram at aj_cousins

The Fourth Wall

Directed by Kelsey Bollig

Where can people find more information about your movie?


How long did it take you to film it?

4 rehearsal days, 4 shooting days

What drew you to this piece? 

I wrote this piece to have a little fun at the expense of myself and other people in the performance and entertainment industry. I also really wanted to experiment with how we identify with “the fourth wall” as a whole and what we as an audience deem as “entertainment.”

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

I’d like them to think about their own identity as an audience member. The piece is meant to call to question how we perceive entertainment.

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

I didn’t intend it to be a feature, however, I know what the feature would look like am always open to opportunities.

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

The musical influence of the film stemmed from the french musician ‘Gesaffelstein’ and was incredibly and cleverly called upon by our talented composer Sylvain Kauffman. We wanted the film to feel like a french dance club with moments of pure horror weaved throughout.

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

I recently just shot a horror/action short called ‘Kickstart My Heart.’ We’re looking for a premiere festival right now! My website has all the info about my projects KelseyBollig.com

Inch Thick, Knee Deep

Directed by Anatasha Blakely

Where can people find more information about your movie?

darklingfilms.com (or IMDB)

How long did it take you to film it?

2 days of shooting

What drew you to this piece? 

I was interested in writing a character-driven piece. The protagonist (if you can call her that) had been bouncing around in my head for a few months and when I sat down to write the script came spilling out quite quickly and in one draft.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

I wanted audiences to experience a slow, tense unraveling of not only the story but the character’s sanity. 

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

The idea originally came to me as a feature. I haven’t written it yet (as I’m working on finishing up a different feature script) but I’m interested in coming back around to it eventually.

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

We made this short with a very small, tight crew and a modest budget. I’m incredibly proud of what we pulled off with 6 people total on the shoot (and that’s including 2 actors.)

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

You can keep up with me on Instagram (@anatashablakely) and darklingfilms.com. I have two shorts I’m editing right now. I think our feature will be out the gate any day now.

Make A Wish

Directed by Dinh Thai

Where can people find more information about your movie?


How long did it take you to film it?

12 hours

What drew you to this piece? 

I needed better demo reel footage and found an old short film script written by Ivan Tsang that was easy to shoot (or so we thought at the time). After reading it, the characters felt like hyper realized versions of my actual relationship with my partner.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

That I have a very devious sense of humor and that Asians are not to be trifled with

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

If it garners enough interest, maybe!

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

We truly did not think this is a horror film and thought it was just a delightful comedy

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

Spider One’s upcoming debut horror feature film ALLEGORIA + Krsy Fox’s FRANK. Now available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and Google Play. You can find my work at resumes.actorsaccess.com/josephinechang

Also Read: FilmQuest Review – When The Screaming Starts Is a Wicked Funny Serial Killer Mockumentary

The Pey 

Directed by Ramon Menon

Where can people find more information about your movie?


How long did it take you to film it?

2 Days

What drew you to this piece? 

I wanted to make a Covid movie but soon realized that there would be a lot of Covid films coming out so I decided instead to make an allegorical Covid movie. I wondered what spreads faster than Covid and lawsuits and realized Social Media is the answer. Social media dominates every aspect of life – personal and professional. We live in an age of misinformation (election controversies, disbelief in vaccines, etc.) where we no longer know for sure what the truth is. Hence, I thought it would be appropriate to make a short film that reflects this idea where the belief in the idea of a Monster can spread through Social Media, go viral and make the Monster more powerful with the abundance of shares and followers the Monster’s post gains before it finally consumes the person (or people) who shares the Monster’s post.

I love Monster movies especially Alien and The Thing, so I came up with a reason as to why the Monster grows – the idea that the more followers the social media post gains, the more the creature grows – like a ticking time bomb which is always a fun and suspenseful story device to have in cinema.

What do you want audiences to take away from it?

I would like audiences to become more aware of what they share online as spreading certain types of misinformation and disinformation can have real-life consequences and can change other people’s perspectives in adverse ways. The audience needs to realize that we live in a time where we have to actively search for the truth and not blindly accept information as fact just because it showed up on our social media feed right after a post of your neighbor’s puppy’s birthday or after a post about a 10 hour Lord of The Rings watch party (Gross).

Are you talking about making it into a feature? Why, or why not?

Yes, I am developing The Pey into a feature film because I believe The Pey feature film has more to say about misinformation, perspectives and the divided world that we live in that is primarily driven by social media biases. The feature film will also delve into our collective desire to be seen as something other than what we truly are – a contrived version of ourselves that cannot be further from the truth. The Pey feature film will play around with structure as it deals with themes of truth and perspective which is the kind of cinema that I am inspired by (films like Rashomon, Time Crimes, and The Prestige)

What is one thing about your movie that you are dying to talk about but haven’t had the chance yet?

I can’t wait for the Feature Film version of The Pey. The short film is a small PG-13 version of the mind fuck that the Feature Film is going to be. I have spoken a lot about the short film but I am always skipping over how we had to put the Practical Monster suit and Monster effects together as we barely used any CGI for the Monster effects. I am a big believer in doing as much practical effects and then complementing it with some CGI to bring it all together. Our Special Effects Make-Up Artist Robert Bravo did a fantastic job creating all the creature effects on what he calls “a budget that is less than my monthly cell phone bill”.

I also would like to mention our cinematographer Tommy Oceanak worked closely with me to ensure that we lit and framed the movie in such a way that the Social Media posts would have their own space to thrive in the Narrative style we were creating. We had the idea of making a movie like Searching without staying on computer screens as that can get pretty tedious if not done right. We hope we managed to accomplish our goal on that front.

What’s your next project? Where can people find out more about your work outside of this movie?

My next project is the Feature Film version of The Pey. I have also recently completed a TV Pilot Comedy called The Station about the worst Police Station in India. Which we are developing into a TV show. People can also follow me on Instagram at @ramonemenon. My film Once Upon a Time in a Haunted House is streaming on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcedcqAUfEc&t=218s

Honorable Mentions:

The Dead Collectors, Directed by Brendan Cleaves

Muse, Directed by Camilla Tamara Demichelis Richard

Koreatown Ghost Story, Directed by Minsun Park and Teddy Tenebaum

Logan Lee & The Rise Of The Purple Dawn, Directed by Raymond C. Lai

Nagual: The Sin Eater Directed by Dan “Laz” Lazarovits

Reklaw, Directed by Polaris Banks

Strawman, Directed by Alexander Casimir

Subscribe, Directed by Benji Allred and Merik Richardson

Wasteland, Directed by Michael Muchnij

Watch Room, Directed by Noah Wagner

What Happened Downstairs, Directed by Andrew Nisinson

Keep an eye out for these movies and directors. If you get a chance to see them, let me know what you think @misssharai.

‘Esluna: The Crown of Babylon’ Is A Beautifully Animated Adventure [Film Quest 2021]

Posted by Sharai Bohannon on January 24, 2022 Babylon Still 01 1920x1290 1 scaled - 'Esluna: The Crown of Babylon' Is A Beautifully Animated Adventure [Film Quest 2021]

In ‘Esluna: The Crown of Babylon’, Maeve Riverflare (voiced by Grace Chan) sets out on an adventure to find her kidnapped mentor, Caz (voiced by Ariel Hack). Her journey leads her to a cult leader, criminals, and a mysterious artifact called the Crown of Babylon. People who watched Esluna: The First Monolith will be familiar with this beautiful world and the characters that inhabit it.

Writer and director Denver Jackson took eighteen months of this pandemic to completely animate this feature by himself. This is remarkable because it looks like something that would come out of a big-name studio. I couldn’t help thinking about video games I played in my day with gorgeous cutscenes. It left me wishing that I could play these characters as if this was the newest installment of Final Fantasy.

Also Read: FilmQuest Review – The Free Fall is an Unforgettable Psychological Horror Experience

The actual story contains a lot of feelings and a little ass-kicking. As it unwrapped, I could not help but see how probable the emotions were this whole movie. Maeve forgives the person that double-crosses her while connecting with them through their shared grief over losing parents. She then goes onto also reconcile with a friend she lashed out at in anger as he dies. Our heroine ends this emotional journey finally making amends with Caz. Their relationship is strained because Maeve is more comfortable with anger than her grief over losing her birth mother. Caz took Maeve under her wing and has put up with this for fifteen years because she knows this. Maeve tries to come across as this hardened badass but is more afraid of all of the feelings than danger.

This movie was my first introduction to this world but now I want to check out the web series. We will never have too many ass-kicking women who also use their words to resolve conflict when appropriate. Caz and Maeve gave me River Song and Amy Pond vibes, while being their own thing in their universe. It seriously made me want to wrap myself up in my TARDIS cardigan and rewatch their final season together.

Also Read: Film Quest Review – Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes’ May Make You Feel Like You Just Took Shrooms

While I had a good time, I do think the movie could be a little shorter. There are a few places where trimming would help with tension or pacing. I also had a few moments of pause with the way a couple of the supporting characters were portrayed vocally. I am not sure if those were actor choices or direction. Neither of these notes is the end of the world, but they do stick out in an overall fun experience. 

Esluna: The Crown of Babylon made its regional premiere at this year’s FilmQuest Festival 2021 in Provo, Utah.

‘Dark Cloud’ Is Fine But Predictable [Other Worlds 2021]

Posted by Sharai Bohannon on January 24, 2022 Dark Cloud - ‘Dark Cloud’ Is Fine But Predictable [Other Worlds 2021]

Dark Cloud is a film that retreads familiar ground without giving us anything new. After an accident, Chloe (Alexys Gabrielle) volunteers to try a new rehabilitation process that uses new artificial intelligence. The program, AIDA, runs the smart-home and is given the top priority of keeping Chloe safe. Chloe befriends AIDA, and the system starts to think for itself. Which leads to the obvious chaos we have all come to expect. 

Dark Cloud is fine but also predictable. This is where my frustration lies. The movie starts with a vibe that is somewhere between the 90’s version of The Outer Limits and the more modern sci-fi anthology Black Mirror. I found myself rooting for it even though we all know where it would end. We have all survived enough Terminator installments to know better than to trust the machines. We also have a plethora of movies cautioning us about the relationship between humans and computers. However, we always find ourselves rooting for these movies to make the journey fun or interesting. To at least give us a death (or two) worth writing home about. Just anything to set it apart from the rest of the pack.

Dark Cloud Has A Few Scattered Storms

The first two-thirds of the movie gave me hope that it somehow would meander towards greatness. Gabrielle gives a performance that contains the right balance of confusion and naivety to make this character believable. Even Emily Atack’s vocal performance as AIDA has enough levels to make the computer system a worthy scene partner for the bulk of the movie. However, the third act proves that we gave this movie too much grace and highlights all of the imperfections. Where the first two acts kept us interested the third act feels like it is crossing off tasks on a to-do list. None of the tension it tries to muster gets a chance to build. None of the stakes that should be raised ever really inspire a reaction from us. The movie just kind of happens, leaving us empty.

I also wonder when the movie was shot because there are very few scenes with two, or more, actors. This was another thing that ruined the tension that could have been had. Watching people outside of Chloe’s bubble yell at each other via electronics made it seem like they were also prisoners of this experiment. If that was done for a deeper meaning then we deserve a bit more weight to that. However, if COVID was the reason then that is one of the things I can forgive. 

Again, this movie is fine. Maybe sometimes fine is okay. However, it sadly makes it forgettable among the hundreds of other versions of this story that came before it.

Dark Cloud had its North American Premiere at Other Worlds Film Festival 2021.

‘Hell Fest’ is a Tense Slasher With Great Characters [The Overlook Motel]

Posted by Tyler Doupe' on January 24, 2022 hell fest1 scaled - 'Hell Fest' is a Tense Slasher With Great Characters [The Overlook Motel]

Welcome to The Overlook Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct’. 

In this installment of The Overlook Motel, I’m looking back on Gregory Plotkin’s 2018 tense horror thriller, Hell Fest. This briskly-paced slasher features a likable cast of characters, goopy special effects and an effective score.  

The film sees a group of friends heading to a horror-themed carnival. While there, the pals plan to take part in an extreme haunt. But what the carefree chums don’t realize is that a deranged killer is stalking the grounds and dispatching unsuspecting victims left and right.  

Hell Fest is just under 90 minutes in length and wastes no time getting to the good stuff. Almost immediately after arriving at the event, the pals find themselves in danger and things only escalate from there. Each new situation proves even more harrowing than the last, making the film a nerve-shredding viewing experience. 

Also See: ‘Absentia’ is a Scrappy Horror-Thriller That Proves Less is More [The Overlook Motel]

An extreme haunt is a logical setting for a horror film. With the nightmarish stories that have surfaced about places like McKamey Manor, I am surprised that we don’t see more features with similar settings. Aside from this flick and Haunt, I can’t think of many other recent films set at a haunt. Director Plotkin takes full advantage of the film’s location and also demonstrates a keen sense of timing, throwing in well-placed jump scares that come when you’re least expecting. 

Additionally, the effects are memorable and quite impressive, with most having been realized practically. Among the memorable sequences, there is an eye-gouging scene that would likely make the late Lucio Fulci proud. 

The film also benefits from a great score and excellent sound design. The scares are accentuated by crisp, clear, cacophonous sounds that make the accompanying imagery even more frightening.  

As for the onscreen talent, Amy Forsyth does a terrific job in her turn as lead character, Natalie. Natalie is intelligent, resourceful, and brimming with final femme potential. She starts off a little shy and inward. But as she comes out of her shell, we see Natalie step up in major ways, including putting her life on the line for her pals. 

Non-binary actor Bex Taylor-Klaus had a memorable role on the small screen Scream series and is equally (if not more) memorable in Hell Fest. Klaus’ character, Taylor, is an outspoken horror fan that, in some ways, reminds me of a mouthier version of Randy from Scream.

See Also: ‘Zombeavers’ is So Much Better Than it Sounds [The Overlook Motel]

In addition to a great core cast, the film also features a brief but memorable cameo from genre icon Tony Todd as a carnival barker. Todd’s low, raspy register is particularly effective here, as he warns attendees that they are approaching the entrance to hell. 

The film’s body count is a little lower than that of a typical slasher. But the tension is palpable from the get-go and the characters are surprisingly likable. These aren’t throwaway characters whose demise the audience is likely to root for. They are well-developed and relatable. And accordingly, I didn’t really want to see any of them meet their end. 

Without giving too much away, the ending is pretty dark and leaves off with solid sequel potential. So, I hope audiences will have the chance to experience another round of Hell Fest one day. In the meantime, anyone that hasn’t seen the film can check it out on Netflix as of the publication of this post! If you opt to have a look, don’t forget to let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Stephen King: 5 Frigid Adaptations Set In The Snow

Posted by Josh Korngut on January 24, 2022 the dead zone 2 - Stephen King: 5 Frigid Adaptations Set In The Snow

From its bleakness and isolation to its undeniable beauty, it’s likely no coincidence that so much of Stephen King’s storytelling is cloaked beneath the snow. His stories and novels, while not usually bottled completely during this time of year, will almost always take a detour down the frostbitten avenues of winter to both stark and startling effect.

To help you endure yet another seemingly endless pandemic snow season, I’ve gone ahead and assembled my five favorite frosty Stephen King film and TV adaptations. So settle in and enjoy. These titles are perfectly suited for curling up with in front of a cozy fire while enjoying hot cocoa as you await the next emotional avalanche to bury us all collectively once more.

“The sun loses its thin grip on the air first, turning it cold, making it remember that winter is coming and winter will be long.”

Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

The Dead Zone

The 1983 adaptation of The Dead Zone by David Cronenberg is one of the best King films to date. It stars Christopher Walken as Johnny Smith, a schoolteacher who wakes up from a coma with inexplicable psychic abilities. The novel’s grim claustrophobia is depicted well, using winter to its advantage more often than you might remember. And you’ll likely never look at a charming snow-crested gazebo the same way ever again.

On the DVD release of the film, you can hear Cronenberg describe the unbearably icy conditions he was met with while filming The Dead Zone. The film was shot during an infamous deep freeze in southern Ontario, which lasted for weeks on end. This resulted in an excellent environment for the film’s setting, although the cast and crew reportedly found the conditions nearly intolerable.

The Dead Zone – Courtesy of Paramount

The Shining

One of the most treasured winter-bound horror films of all time is The Shining. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel by Stephen King, The Shining is one of the most discussed and debated adaptations in the history of cinema. King, who famously had no time for this generally unfaithful adaptation, would go on to pen his own in 1997 with Mick Garris at the helm.

The novel, film and miniseries all depict a man’s psychological unraveling after a winter storm leaves him and his family isolated and snowed in at a haunted hotel. For Kubrick’s film, some exterior shots were taken at Saint Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island in Glacier National Park in Montana, which is famous for its scenery and chilly panoramas.

The Shining courtesy of Warner Bros.


Misery is the 1990 cinematic adaptation of the SK novel of the same name, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Kathy Bates. One of the scariest performances of all time, Bates’ turn as Annie Wilkes won her a Best Actress Oscar, making Misery the only King adaptation to earn that trophy to this day.

Misery sees an author named Paul Sheldon (played by James Caan) in the clutches of an obsessed fan who lives in the snowy and isolated Silver Creek, Colorado. She forces the author to write a story she has been desperate to read, and goes through great and violent lengths to get what she wants. In the novel, the character of Annie famously severs Paul’s foot with an ax. This was changed to an ankle break in the film so that the audience could still sympathize with the character’s spiraling mental health issues.

Misery courtesy of Colombia Pictures


In 2003 Warner Bros. released a mega-budgeted adaptation of Dreamcatcher, one of the first novels Stephen King wrote after being injured in an infamous car accident. The science-fiction horror film was directed by Lawrence Kasdan off of a screenplay by William Goldman. The title stars King regular Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant as a group of friends who experience parasitical aliens at a remote hunting lodge.

Both this adaptation and the novel received mixed reviews, and it’s easy to see why. The film is an extremely graphic and bizarre science fiction exploration of body horror which features a particularly gruesome bathroom sequence that won’t soon be forgotten. Say what you will about Dreamcatcher, this fever dream of a movie is a hell of a unique winter sleigh ride worth revisiting at least one more time.

Dreamcatcher courtesy of Warner Bros.

Storm of the Century

When a gigantic blizzard cuts off the locals of Little Tall Island, it doesn’t take long for murder and darkness to infiltrate the tight-knit community. While Storm of the Century is not an adaptation of a previous King work, it is still one of the writer’s most tantalizing snowbound stories.

Stephen King wrote Storm of the Century as a miniseries for ABC. The project was directed by Craig R. Bailey and stars Tim Daly, Debrah Farentino and Dyllan Christopher. While there was no novel prior to the screenplay for Storm of the Century, the script was sold as a mass-market book in February 1999, just a few weeks ahead of its initial broadcast.

The snowy setting of Little Tall Island is one of the best and most socially claustrophobic locations in King history, even giving the events of Under the Dome a run for its money. The chilly atmosphere and stellar performances make this three-parter a perineal winter rewatch. King himself has even stated that the series is a personal favorite.

Storm of the Century – Courtesy of ABC

Lastly, what are some of your favorite King film and TV adaptations? Let me know on Twitter via @joshkorngut. I’m always around to chat all things Stephen King!

The Spirit of Stu Still Lives On Inside the ‘Scream’ House [Horror Reel Estate]

Posted by Drew Tinnin on January 24, 2022 'Scream'

Horror Reel Estate takes a look at the infamous locations found in some of your favorite horror movies, old and new. It serves as a handy real estate guide, a crash course in architecture, and a one-stop reference for interesting facts about these iconic landmarks. Even if you’re not quite ready to make an offer, these places will always take up valuable space within the confines of our cherished movie memories.

The early success of Scream (2022), the fifth installment in the series, shows that fans still hold the iconic franchise in high regard and clearly haven’t grown tired of the post-modern slasher formula. Newcomers to the series, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet took what they learned from their last film, Ready or Not, and crafted a hyper-violent, well-meaning tribute to Wes Craven’s horror legacy.

The directing duo just departed from the bloody board game come-to-life in Ready or Not. That film follows Samara Weaving fighting for her life inside a Gothic Revival-style mansion owned by her new in-laws who have a very messed up wedding tradition. So, perhaps it’s fitting that their next film, Scream (2022), features Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returning to the very house that tormented her in the original back in 1996.

Also Read: Sidney Prescott & Gale Weathers: Sister Survivors and Horror Matriarchs

The setting for one of the most memorable finales in horror history, Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) childhood home winds up being the perfect location for the party to end all parties. The living room is spacious enough to allow Randy (Jamie Kennedy) to lay out his rules for “How to Survive a Horror Movie” to all of his friends. The garage gives Ghostface plenty of options to kill Tatum (Rose McGowan) when she goes down to grab more beer from the second fridge (a must in any suburban home). The bedrooms upstairs provide enough privacy for Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and Sidney to sneak away. There are also plenty of hiding spots in Stu’s family home, located at 261 Turner Lane in the sleepy town of Woodsboro. (Just in case you’re late to the party and need the addy.)

Proving to be a legacy character all its own, the actual home can be found up a long country road at 3871 Tomales Petaluma Road in Tomales, California. Nestled on almost 300 acres, the Victorian-style abode was built back in 1990. Today, it’s known as the “Spring Hill Estate“. It’s also been referred to as Elk Ranch due to a past owner who planned to raise elk on the sprawling property. The 5,500 square foot re-creation of a classic Victorian backs up to Walker Creek and features incredible panoramic views of Mount St. Helena. Although you’d never know just how remote the home actually is based on the original classic and the latest installment.

David Arquette promoting the AirBnB Scream event last Halloween. Courtesy of CNN

Wes Craven used the home to reflect the same seclusion that envelops the entire town of Woodsboro once the Ghostface murders begin. In a 1996 interview, Craven had this to say about the feeling of isolation he wanted to convey:

“We wanted Stu’s home to have elements of a dark and haunted Gothic house and it needed to be very isolated.  We looked a long time for someplace that had all of those elements. The house we found was actually brand new.”

Craven went on to explain the work involved to transform the house to allow for the marathon shoot required for the finale.

“The art department went in there and did an enormous number on the house.  We put in all sorts of beams, and stained-glass windows, darkened all the colors, and brought in all the set dressings. It was done in a sort of farmhouse style, and we changed it into a Gothic farmhouse.”

Also Read: ‘Scream (2022)’ Is Bloody, Funny, And One Hell Of A Good Time

Scream‘s final sequence was shot entirely in the house, taking a staggering 21 nights to shoot. Now referred to as “the longest night in horror history,” the infamous Scene 118 was comprised of more than 20 different parts and wound up amounting to 42 minutes of total screen time. As seen in the documentary Scream: The Inside Story, the cast and crew even printed up “I survived Scene 118” t-shirts to commemorate their suffering. Scream (2022) boasts a similar finale that isn’t as grueling but it’s definitely bloodier.

The layout of the Scream house also proved to be the perfect death trap scenario that lends itself well to some of the big reveals. For instance, there’s a second staircase in the master bedroom allowing Billy to get upstairs before Sidney comes in just before he finally admits he’s the killer. For Tatum’s death scene, it always seemed like someone would have seen her body. Visiting the home in person shows that the actual garage was located on the rear side of the property around the corner from the front door. Tatum’s death was in the original script so the natural layout of the house proved to be perfectly designed to not only be memorable but explainable inside the Screamverse.

Production designer Bruce Miller knew the importance of not succumbing to “horror logic” when he described the home’s layout.

“It just doesn’t make sense that in a normal American home, murders could be happening in the upstairs bedrooms, and people watching television downstairs wouldn’t know about it.  So the house had to be big enough, and the rooms had to be separated by enough distance, to convince the audience that these things could really be happening, without the other people knowing about it.  This particular house was perfect for that, because it was very convoluted, and kind of Victorian on the inside.”

The production crew added a chandelier and the stained glass, then quickly threw in a volleyball net to make it look like a teenager actually lived there. Today, the blood-red walls are painted yellow, the stained glass is removed and the entire home has a decidedly more country-chic appeal. Not everyone wants to live in an old Victorian with Gothic touches, apparently.

Sidney Prescott faces off with the Scream house in Scream (2022). Courtesy of Paramount.

Originally, a couple named John and Carolyn MacPhail built the estate in 1991. But sadly John passed away from a “brief illness” on March 6th at the age of 59. Carolyn followed that same year on November 12. Matthew Lillard commented on their deaths in an on-set interview in the Behind the Scream documentary featured in The Ultimate Scream Collection box set.

“It’s kind of, like, an eerie house.  Actually, two people have died in this house. Literally, two people have died in the house. So coming up the hill and you’re doing a Wes Craven film and somebody tells you, ‘Oh, by the way, two people have died in the house,’ it brings on an entirely new thing.” 

Clearly, the spirit of Stu may not be the only spirit still residing inside the Scream house.

About This Home

Stu’s house was put up for sale six months after Scream 4 hit theaters in November 2011 for $2,795,000. Sadly, no horror fans could afford it at that time. It was removed from the market, eventually selling in June 2014 for $2,820,000.

3871 Tomales Petaluma Road in Tomales, California is currently estimated at a value of $3,360, 829. It features 4 bedrooms, 4 full baths, a formal dining room, a magnificent living room, custom-built library, straight grain woods throughout, 3 fireplaces and 2 wood-stoves. It includes two additional homes and barns. The estate backs up to Walker Creek and enjoys panoramic views and (most of all) privacy.

Three of the four baths feature clawfoot tubs and marble counters procured from a hotel in San Francisco.

Stu’s house was also replicated on the set of the Stab 3 stage set in Scream 3.

Check out the Dead Meat Scream virtual tour for a brand new video exploring the home as they map out and explore the house.

Closing Costs

Part of what makes the original Scream and the new Scream so enjoyable is trying to figure out which killer did what and when. Who killed each victim or did they help each other some of the time? How did they use Stu’s house to sneak around and not get caught until they wanted to? Those are the kind of questions that should make the new Scream even more fun on a second (and third) watch.

Know any other facts about Scream? Any properties from the franchise that you’ve visited? Please remember to always be respectful if it’s a private residence! Thanks to I Am Not a Stalker for helping with research. Let me know on Twitter via DrewSTinnin. You can also let your voice be heard in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Dread Central is now on Google News!


‘You Won’t Be Alone’ Is Gorgeous, Plodding Folk Horror [Sundance 2022]

Posted by Chad Collins on January 24, 2022 You Won't Be Alone

If there’s been a consistent theme among genre properties at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s been mood. Speak No Evil is gravely uncomfortable while Watcher is perniciously disquieting. Narrative and conceit still persist, including in sure-to-be-breakout Fresh, but among the slate of high-profile premieres (even Master), mood takes precedence. Such is the case with writer/director Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone. Though often, this mood is to the detriment of a consistently engaging, provocative experience.

In an isolated, craggy village in 19th-century Macedonia, an old witch (Annamaria Marinca) intrudes upon the home of a young woman, eager to steal her baby away. Hushed tones and a twinkling soundtrack unfurl a bargain. Years later, the witch returns, takes Nevena (Sara Klimoska at the time), transforms her, then casts her out. Now feral, Nevena begins to quite literally borrow the skin of others, a kind of occult Under the Skin in more ways than just conceit.

Familiar genre faces flesh out the cast, including Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, Carloto Cotta, and Sara Klimoska as borrowed bodies for Nevena. For as talented as the bunch are, they’re merely vessels for poignant, only occasionally dispersible dialogue. The different bodies are thematic, macrocosmic gateways into the minutiae of humanity, told with swift poetry, gorgeous scenery, and non-diegetic voiceover until bodies are abandoned and new ones inhabited.

Intermittently, there’s plenty of quasi-occult talk, and even smatterings of violence, most non-confrontational. It’s violence that simply is, with no moral framework or judgment. It’s both there and in an overall concept that You Won’t Be Alone earns its horror moniker, even if it’s more akin to what might happen if Robert Eggers directed The Tree of Life. Indeed, the horror moniker itself is most appropriate, even if some will feel compelled to qualify You Won’t Be Alone as arthouse, elevated, or any other number of aggravatingly abstract terms.

In all, You Won’t Be Alone is about humanity, what it means to transcend the human form and survey life in all its distinct pleasures. Motherhood, fatherhood, childhood, and everything in between. In those moments it lands, You Won’t Be Alone is deeply affecting, a swirling supernova of sensuality and the innate pleasures of life. At times, the horror elements subside, and You Won’t Be Alone is both enchanting and poignant, enough to draw tears from the sheer majesty of the beauty Goran Stolevski has constructed.

For as much beauty as there is, however, there is bleakness, most notably the enduringly plaintive thread that runs throughout. Though Nevena experiences a lot, she is without grounding, a tone augmented by composer Mark Bradshaw’s score. You Won’t Be Alone is a lot of things, though for as piercing as its deep-POV is, the audience, like Nevena, is left floating aimlessly Destined to prove more successful with some audiences than others, You Won’t Be Alone still warrants a look, if only for the sheer artistry on display. It’s a folk horror fable with a poetic periphery,. What it lacks in narrative tension, it compensates for with humanistic grandeur.

‘Something in the Dirt’ Is An Intimate And Tender Piece of Cosmic Horror [Sundance 2022]

Posted by Mary Beth McAndrews on January 24, 2022 Something In The Dirt

Directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are known for their deeply emotional horror films that straddle mumblecore character dramas and all out eldritch horrors. Their films Resolution, Spring, and The Endless are all films with complex ideas about friendship, love, and what it means to exist in this universe. After the higher budget Synchronic and before their foray into Marvel with Moon Knight, Benson and Moorhead have gone back to their indie roots with Something In The Dirt. This is a welcome return to form for the pair. With their latest project, they’ve made a touching portrait of isolation, paranoia, and the joy of finding someone who actually listens to you. 

Levi (Benson) just moved into a dingy apartment with no lease. He needs a place to stay for a few days before he leaves LA, and it seems like the perfect deal. On his first day, he meets his neighbor John (Moorhead) and they share a cigarette while making small talk. They are a motley crew, with Levi in Vans, cut-offs and tattered shirts and John in boat shoes, button-down shirts, and cardigans. But still, they’re drawn to one another. They’re both struggling with finding purpose, taking odd jobs to pay the bills.

Also Read: Rebecca Hall Elevates Frightening Psychodrama ‘Resurrection’ [Sundance 2022]

But then they discover something strange in Levi’s apartment. A mysterious piece of crystal floats and projects a fractal pattern onto the wall. Both the men witness the phenomenon and immediately want to document it for fame and fortune. They see this discovery as their ticket out of mediocrity, a way to prove themselves as more than just floating bodies through space.

The more they film and try to understand what’s happening in front of them, the further down the rabbit hole they go. Everything becomes a symbol or part of a bigger conspiracy. New objects appear in the apartment. A succulent mutates and grows an interdimensional fruit. With each new phenomenon, Levi and John are further consumed by the project, clinging onto it like their only anchor to this life. They become trapped in a toxic loop of obsession. But is this all really happening?

Benson and Moorhead manipulate the concept of truth using found footage and pseudo documentary techniques. At first Something In The Dirt all seems narratively straightforward. Then, a talking head interview appears, reflecting on what happened to Levi and John. Quickly the film introduces three layers of storytelling: the “original” footage, the recreations, and the framing story with interviews contextualizing the footage. Levi and John appear in all three layers of the story, blurring the boundaries between what’s real and what’s no until they’re practically nonexistent. They are our unreliable narrators, bent on proving this is more than obsession; this is real. 

Also Read: In The Disturbing ‘Speak No Evil’, Politeness Is Wielded Like A Weapon [Sundance 2022]

While the film grapples with plenty of heady concepts, Something In The Dirt is at its best when Benson and Moorhead are just shooting the shit. Much of the film hinges on the connection between the two of them as they chain-smoke cigarettes and share their lives. John reveals he’s an ex-teacher who just divorced his husband. Levi reveals his tumultuous past and discusses his asexuality. The longer they film, the more they open up to one another, creating the kind of intimate friendship that comes about from sharing an obsession. This is Benson and Moorhead in career best performances, letting their love and respect for each other shine through every line of dialogue. 

In short, Something In The Dirt has an immaculate vibe, a perfect blend of mind-boggling cosmic horror and intimate character portraits. It may not be straightforward, but that’s the beauty of it. Benson and Moorhead want to leave the audience questioning what the truth really is. Are these just two weird dudes looking for connection? Or is something truly strange happening to them? This is Benson and Moorhead at their best, creating a genre film filled with tenderness and intimacy. It’s bizarre, it’s relatable, and it’s sweet. This film is a rare treat that horror lovers are lucky to receive. 

Rebecca Hall Elevates Frightening Psychodrama ‘Resurrection’ [Sundance 2022]

Posted by Chad Collins on January 24, 2022 resurrection

The perfectly manicured life is a dated, and oft-sexist, trope. There are countless incarnations on film and television of the high-strung, working mother. Often a nebulous executive, they work hard and love even more furiously, often refracted through a lens of keeping everything just so. Otherwise, the entire house of cards collapses. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) ostensibly embodies the archetype early on in writer-director Andrew Semans’ Resurrection. She works in some kind of biotech executive capacity, doling out relationship advice to a young intern (Angela Wong Carbone) between evening runs and delicately prepared meals for her daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman).

Hall, an exceptionally talented performer, makes the minutiae mysterious. There’s a stiffness to her look and visage, a recurrent look off-screen, cognizant of a threat the audience hasn’t yet seen. Before the terror arrives in earnest, Hall’s calibrated performance has the audience on edge. That edge collapses into a full-bore spiral—which Hall conceptualizes as successfully as she has in other genre fare like The Gift and The Night House—when she catches a glimpse of David (a deliciously evil Tim Roth) at a work conference.

Also Read: ‘Watcher’ is A Bone-Chilling Paranoid Thriller [Sundance 2022]

She flees inexplicably, racing through the streets of Big City USA, before arriving home to both terrify and comfort her daughter. After repeated encounters, Margaret confronts David in a public park, demanding he leaves. At first incredulous—he claims to not recognize her—he then threatens her with narrative concealment. He rubs his belly and remarks that Benjamin, their son, is with him.

Semans wisely unveils the true nature of David’s presence, with Margaret later delivering a dense, almost mythic monologue about their time together. Nearly ten minutes in length, Hall sells it all in one, unbroken take, a testament to both the sheer force of her performance and Semans’ inclination to take Resurrection to weirder places than originally suspected. The most that can be said without risking spoilers is that, years ago, David and Margaret were together, with Margaret performing “kindnesses” for him, intense, enervating physical acts, monuments to her loyalty and love for him.

The fear is palpable. Resurrection sheds its layers to reveal a delightfully dark and oddball examination of trauma, abuse, and the stranglehold toxic partners have over the lives of others. They possess their own center of gravity, influencing events and behaviors, even remotely. Most, if not all, of Margaret’s life is predicated around David. Her parenting, utilitarian sex life, and isolation are on account of him, even 22 years later. Resisting his grip, even after decades away, proves harder than she imagined, especially with the leverage (that I wouldn’t dare spoil here) he has over her.

Also Read: In The Disturbing ‘Speak No Evil’, Politeness Is Wielded Like A Weapon [Sundance 2022]

Hall’s performance and physicality are a tapestry of her trauma. Bruises, scars, and nightmarish, horror-tinged dreams reveal enough without explicitly saying it. Roth and Hall are sensational in their psychological cat-and-mouse, never quite going where audiences expect. It all builds to a crescendo of violence destined to polarize audiences, with an ambiguous ending providing the final whopper of cryptic, hallucinatory psychodrama.

Resurrection won’t work for everyone. While it eschews the camp almost innate in its presence (you’ll see what I mean), its narrative machinations prove a big ask. Audiences will either buy in or not, and nothing Semans does seems all that concerned with roping them back in. In other words, audiences will either get it, or they won’t. Yet, Hall’s ferocious performance—another career-best—proves inimitably compelling. She frequently elevates the material and is largely responsible for Resurrection’s wild premise working as well as it does. A psychodrama with shades of horror, Resurrection is a unique filmic experience. A surefire tone stands atop a wobbly narrative arc, and while the destination might prove less than, the hellish descent into madness is more than worth it.

‘Hellblazers’: New Tubi Original Horror Movie Stars Tony Todd [Trailer]

Posted by Josh Korngut on January 24, 2022 hellblazers 2 scaled - 'Hellblazers': New Tubi Original Horror Movie Stars Tony Todd [Trailer]

Tubi is truly one of my go-to resources for horror. And lately they’ve been adding more and more genre titles to their free, ad-supported library. So, why shouldn’t one of the biggest names in streaming start to produce their own original shlock horror field trips? Well, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Tubi has now released Hellblazers and we recommend checking out the trailer. It looks like a fun, satanic, action-horror excursion starring a slew of iconic icons of fright.

In Hellblazers, a small town in the south of good ol’ USA finds themselves being chomped on by demons. Uh oh. The recently unveiled trailer features Tony Todd, Adrienne Barbeau, Bruce Darn and many more familiar faces.

Here is the premise, according to Tubi. “A satanic cult focused on unleashing hell on earth, conjures up a demon and sets to the task of feeding it the populace of a nearby southwestern town.”

Now check out the Hellblazers trailer:

The Tubi original title hails from Justin Lee (Badland). It stars just about every genre star you can imagine. You’ve got Tony Todd (Candyman), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt). Not to mention Meg Foster (They Live), Edward Finlay, Ed Morrone and even Billy Zane.

Lastly, will you be checking out Hellblazers for free on Tubi? Let me know on Twitter via @joshkorngut.