I love scary movies and I love blood and guts and severed heads and tangled up intestines everywhere. I guess tangled-up intestines are kind of the same thing as guts, but, wow, do I love grisly gore. It seems like older horror movies often focused more on the psychology of how horrifying a situation or act was and newer horror movies put more attention into convincingly showing every stab and every spurting artery on camera. For example, especially when you factor in what audiences of the time were used to, Last House on the Left was really shocking in 1972. It’s slogan was “To avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a movie, only a movie, only a movie.” Most of the most horrible events in the movie, you hear the suffering, but you can’t really see what is going on. By contrast, the 2009 version seems to be shot somehow higher quality, partly just due to the technology of modern cinematography. To my modern eyes, the color palette is more pleasing in the 2009 Last House on the Left. More of the gruesome parts are visible, although they could still go more extreme with that, for my taste. But the new one somehow loses some of the aura of menace, while at the same time vastly improving special effects and general overall look. Partly I suppose Aaron Paul just didn’t seem very scary to begin with and he already seemed like a tragic hero to anyone who had seen him play Jesse in Breaking Bad. You can research more about both the 1972 film version and the more recent 2009 remake at Wikipedia and you can read a bit about Last House on the Left distribution channels for horror at Blue Blood.
Horror special effects definitely have come a long way since the seventies. Now though, the special effects are, not to sound ironic, to die for. Trust me, if the quality of movies were still the same as they were a few decades ago, you can bet that I wouldn’t drop what I was doing over at http://www.partybingo.com just to watch some crappy special effects, and acting that we will just label as sub-par. Thank god though, that isn’t the case! To prove my point, just go watch one of the many (I think there are eight) movies in the Saw series, or if you are really up for some cringing, then watch Hostel.
So, in conclusion, I’ll watch the seventies movies for the acting and the newer ones for the special effects, but the special effects really have to be pretty impressive. I’m thinking about going to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. I figure, even if the acting is all Disney Channel, the special effects on that have to be worth a theater ticket.
Starring Erin Cummings, Rob Zabrecky, Dan John Miller
Directed by Luke Jaden
While the prospect of purchasing a new home is a terrifying one, nothing can prepare you for what’s inside The Listing – a short from director Luke Jaden. It’s a real estate nightmare unleashed as part of The Stanley Film Festival’s Dean’s Cup Student Competition 2015.
With only a 9-minute runtime, no time is wasted in setting the scene for this realtor’s ordeal from hell: a dilapidated two-story house with a creepy record player spinning an even creepier tune, with tattered furniture strewn about, giving off that “definitely haunted” feel to it. And we haven’t even breached as to what is growling in the basement with both fresh and decayed animal remains covering the floors.
Ready to put a bid in yet on this tremendous opportunity? Time’s running out.
When our friendly real estate agent shows up to clean the mess, we feast our eyes on what’s been “feasting” in the home for some time, with one jump scare that will surely have you checking your shorts for bacon strips – I guarantee it. Jaden’ s direction is simple, yet terrifyingly effective – no muss, no fuss, a base minimum of dialogue, and a whole lot of “WHOA!!”
For only a less than 10-minute display, this is one of those shorts that you gather your friends around the computer to check out, simply to watch their reaction. Well done all around and highly recommended.
Many of my contemporaries are weary of the found footage trend, as it seems that every other week a new shakey-cam abortion is plopped on our doorstep. For many reviewers, movies that at one point would have been decently well received are now savaged with the merciless rage of a spirit of an ancient tribe avenging his wrongfully slaughtered people. I never got on the torch and pitchfork bandwagon, and as a result I have become the de facto shitty found footage guy. The genre gets a lot of leeway with me, and as long as the premise is interesting and actors half awake, the movie can get away with dirt production values and overdone cliches.
I am impressed that a single Italian man with naught but a video camera and a limitless supply of self-love managed to give me a long look into the dark abyss of a genre near bled dry. This film is so monumentally shit, that it makes the previous two and next two found footage films I watch worse by osmosis. If a barrel ever had a bottom, it looks like Joe Marino’s smug self satisfied grin.
Looking at the title and with the knowledge that this is a found footage film, you know what this movie is. Joe Marino plays Joe Marino, an unlikable arrogant documentary filmmaker who is investigating claims of possession and devil worship because the plot needs him to. The camera is in his face 90% of the movie, and he actually sells the part of someone who isn’t acting in a movie very well, as at no point did I feel like he was acting.
I’d really like to get my hands on a copy of the original script, as I imagine there is heavy scene direction to “smolder.” Every line and scene is delivered in the way someone writes self-insert fanfiction, with the absolute blind certainty that you are the coolest and sexiest guy in the world. At one point, Joe is interviewing the token exorcist, and the exorcist says, “The Devil is real, and I do battle with him every day.” After a deep breath, a wry smirk spreads across Joe’s salt and pepper stubble face. He cocks his head back a bit, and says, “Well, then introduce me to him.” Hold shot to smolder. End scene.
I imagine at the end of every shot, he held out his hands, palms up, and two auxiliary bros would come out from the background and jumping high five him in unison. I know I am harping a bit too much on Mr. Marino, but it takes some kind of crazed delusions of grandeur to not only direct a movie this bad, but also star in it. He had to have read the script, decided that the best candidate to deliver the overwrought and nonsense dialogue was none other than himself, acted through the whole thing, edited it, decided that his bizarre overemphasized delivery was the best take, and released it for the world to see.
I know a lot of really bad movies come out, but they usually have a sense of corniness where everyone knew they were all taking part in making something crap. The best of these movies are schlock that takes the piss out of itself to an extent that it becomes ironically comedic. A lot of people enjoy watching incredibly bad yet entertaining movies, as evidenced by the followings behind movies like The Room and Trolls 2. What makes these movies fun is not only the terrible acting, but the nonsense plot where unpredictably absurd twists occur at every turn.
The Vatican Exorcisms is not one of these movies. It starts off with some hints of a plot about satanic corruption within the Vatican. They go out and disrupt a black mass, calling the cops to arrest several cultists. And then they go dancing. There’s a whole segment where Joe just holds the camera in front of his face and dances in circles at a party. They whole satanic corruption element never comes back, so I can only assume that they beat the devil and are now celebrating.
Next up, we meet Father Luigi Monsi, who will serve as our tour guide to exorcism for the remainder of the trip. From here, the movie flips between Joe getting spooked in his hotel room, Joe being upset on the bus, and Joe having an increasingly bad time at Exorcisms. The movie could easily be re-titled “The Four People You Obligatorily Must Exorcise,” and serve as a self-help book for mindless filmmakers. First up is teenage girl possessed by demons making her say sex stuff, followed by possessed old lady, followed by little girl who is oddly calm for being possessed, and finally my personal favorite, twisty demon.
In every exorcism, the priest says some holy words and throws down some holy water, and the demon goes “hisssssss” and the person shakes. There are a couple of creative variations, such as when the little girl demon is actually in two places at the same time, but the movie never delivers a single scare. I get that they might have been going for a realistic vibe, but you kind of threw that out the window when you put a soundtrack into your found footage movie. If you are going to have music accompanying your shots, you might as well CG in some ghosts and distort some screams, because we are clearly watching a movie.
Most annoyingly, it adds up to nothing. It doesn’t end with some shocking or interesting twist, which can slightly redeem a shit film as evidenced by 2012’s Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes. It all adds up to over a solid 10 minutes of twisty demon just twisting about and running around a room while a priest yells at him. That’s right, 10 solid minutes of it, no exaggeration. After this, Joe screams and runs away, at what I first assumed was from the revelation that he actually just stared in this terrible mess. But no, it turns out he was demoned as well, and we get a message from his wife several months later.
At the very beginning of the film, we see a rundown house with a blue tarp over the side. When we meet little girl demon, she hands him a drawing of it, leading to a flashback of the ever so important house. Joe’s wife tells us that after he returned, he became obsessed with the house, and would spend more and more time there. Neighbors reported hearing screams, not all of which were Joe’s. As an unnamed cameraman investigates the scene, everything is rundown, but otherwise normal. For the final shot of the movie, into frame comes a faint etching on the wall that says “Exist.” Credits roll.
So The Vatican Exorcisms was not only bad, but it wasted my time as well. Cool Joe, thanks for that one. It feels like some writer had seven distinctly bland ideas, and just stitched them together into a movie. He couldn’t decide if he wanted it to be a movie about a demon house, Satan worshiping cultists, a guy being haunted in his hotel room, or one of four terrible exorcisms, so he just shrugged and made it about all of them. Nothing is ever built up sufficiently to feel satisfying, so we are just left with a confusing array of conclusions that mean nothing.
The Vatican Exorcisms is stylistically, technically, directorally, narratively, and performance wise bad. It is hard to fathom how such a clusterfuck came to be. Usually, there’s at least one redeeming quality to even a bad movie, even if the quality is a level of quirky bad that crosses over into being endearing and good. There is nothing endearing or lovable about this movie. There is not a single thing I can point to and say that I liked. I was perpetually bored. I usually try very hard to come up with at least one thing I like about a movie this bad, but I can’t. Stay away from this movie.
Season 10 of “Supernatural” is winding down with just three episodes left, and The CW has released a summary of the finale, Episode 10.22, “Brother’s Keeper.” Usually I’m on board with biblical horror, but the prolonged Cain and Abel parable is getting tedious, and Crowley’s mommy issues aren’t helping the show’s momentum so here’s hoping the synopsis’ promise of “change” is followed through on during the upcoming Season 11.
Note that The CW will be re-airing the previous week’s Episode 10.21, “The Prisoner,” at 8PM, just before the finale, so you can get a double-dose of Demon Dean before he (hopefully) disappears forever.
“Supernatural” Episode 10.22 – “Brother’s Keeper” (airs 5/20/15, 9PM) SUPERNATURAL SEASON FINALE — Dean (Jensen Ackles) makes a shocking decision regarding the Mark of Cain that would change not only his life, but Sam’s (Jared Padaleck) too. Meanwhile, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) and Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell) face off, and Castiel (Misha Collins) gets caught in the middle. Phil Sgriccia directed this episode written by Jeremy Carver.
“Supernatural” Episode 10.21 – “The Prisoner” (airs 5/13/15, 9PM; repeats 5/20/15, 8PM) DEAN IS ON A RAMPAGE — When it comes to the Stynes, Dean (Jensen Ackles) decides to take matters into his own hands. Sam (Jared Padalecki) tries to come to terms with his decision. Thomas J. Wright directed this episode written by Andrew Dabb.
“Supernatural” Episode 10.20 – “Dark Dynasty” (airs 5/6/15, 9PM) THE WINCHESTERS MEET THE STYNES — Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) investigate a bizarre murder and realize the killer bears the same tattoo as those from the Styne family. Eldon Styne (guest star David Hoflin) attacks Dean, and a brutal fight ensues. Meanwhile, Castiel (Misha Collins) acts as referee when Charlie (guest star Felicia Day) and Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell) are forced to work together on the Book of the Damned. Crowley (Mark Sheppard) discovers his mother is missing and knows she’s up to something so he turns to an old enemy for help. Robert Singer directed this episode written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner.
It doesn’t get much attention from the hardcore genre crowd, but “Grimm” has taken its loyal followers (count the horror-loving yours truly among them) on a surprising and rewarding journey this season. Just two episodes are left, and in next week’s Episode 4.21, “Headache,” we not only see the return of Trubel but also continue the hunt for a more elusive than usual villain.
Here are the promo and a dozen stills from “Headache,” including one of Captain Renard that hints we might be treated to a bit of shirtless rage before Season 4 takes its final bow.
“Grimm” Episode 4.21 – “Headache” (5/8/15; 8-9 pm) THE MANHUNT CONTINUES FOR A VICIOUS SERIAL KILLER – While investigating a grisly murder, Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) get closer to uncovering the identity of the serial killer while Wu’s (Reggie Lee) life is put in grave danger.
Having turned down Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) offer, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) solidifies a new alliance as she works to get her revenge.
Elsewhere, Trubel (guest star Jacqueline Toboni) makes a surprising return to Portland. Sasha Roiz and Claire Coffee also star. Nico Evers-Swinderll guest stars.
It looks like Matt Cedeño is swapping some “Devious Maids” for the underhanded undead as word has come that the actor is joining Syfy’s “Z Nation” as a series regular when the show returns for a second season this fall.
“Z Nation,” which hails from The Asylum, centers around a group of survivors who are crossing the country with a possible cure for the zombie apocalypse. Per Deadline, Cedeño (“Days of Our Lives”) will play Vasquez, a mysterious, rugged bounty hunter with questionable motives who joins our ragtag team of zombie-fighting heroes.
Starring Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, and Leigh Whannell
Directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott
The disappearance of the Leigh Whannell-penned Cooties from the festival circuit following its Sundance premiere in 2014 drew the ire of many. After Lionsgate snagged the distribution rights, its original late-2014 release date was pushed back almost a year so it could undergo a series of re-shoots, allegedly to fix complaints the film’s ending had garnered. Having not been privy to the Sundance cut, this review will focus on the film’s “new” premiere at the Stanley Film Festival, which was undoubtedly one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a theater in a long while.
Co-written with “Glee” creator Ian Brennan and directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, Cooties opens with a catchy yet sinister ditty, courtesy of Belgian composer Pepijn Caudron, set to a stylish slaughter of chickens in a plant that creates the chicken nuggets for the local elementary school. Knowing the catalyst for the forthcoming carnage, we’re introduced to Clint Hadson (Wood), an aspiring novelist seemingly forced to serve as a substitute teacher at his old elementary school. Upon his arrival he meets a motley crew of characters, including Lucy McCormick (Pill), a former classmate of Clinton’s on whom he has a long-standing crush. This is a source of concern for Wade (Wilson), the school’s gym teacher who happens to be in a relationship with the sweet and good-natured Lucy.
This, of course, provides for a little emotional drama throughout the chaos that ensues after an infected student in Clinton’s class bites a chunk out of a classmate’s cheek, leading to every child in the school becoming wild, feral, and excessively violent monsters. After dispatching the acting principal (Ian Brennan) in an appropriately gruesome fashion, the unlikely group, joined by the slightly weird Doug (Whannell), the overly conservative Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), and the in-the-closet-but-everyone-knows Tracy (Jack McBrayer), must find a way out of the school, lest they get torn limb from limb. Summer school is Hell.
This collection of stereotypes works thanks to Whannell and Brennan’s whip smart vulgar script and characters. Archetypes are subverted and realized as more than just coffin fodder at the hands of bloodthirsty children. As the lead, Wood’s aspiring writer is insufferable in his quest for praise, going as far as having the children in his class read from his manuscript to provide him feedback. Rounding out the “love triangle” through line are Wilson and Pill, whose polar opposite characters play into the “why is she with him?” aspect without burdening the film with a forced sense of emotional gravitas. The differences between Wood and Wilson, both in terms of their size and the characters they play, allow for some of the best lines in the film, including one Hobbit reference that was met with uproarious laughter from the audience.
Despite those three driving the internal conflict, it’s Whannell’s Doug who provides some of the best one-liners and funniest moments amidst the carnage. Awkward, a little quirky, and not above dissecting a student’s brain for the sake of science, Whannell makes it clear that he’s got the chops to not only turn out a consistently funny performance but also serve as the backbone for the type of humor that prevents Cooties from becoming just another throwaway horror comedy. Even those not entirely central to the emotional crux of the film, such as McBrayer and Pedrad, are realized and funny enough to the point to help keep the film from devolving into a gorefest with forgettable characters.
Unlike most horror comedies, the humor is pervasive throughout. The tendency to relegate the humor to the back seat as the film progresses is certainly seen here, but in a far less egregious way. The gore is prevalent early on and never truly lets up, but even when the situation becomes more dire and therefore more serious, the humor and witty repartee continue to flow, albeit with slightly less frequency. This shouldn’t be seen as a fault of the filmmakers, however, but rather one intrinsic to the sub-genre itself; it’s hard to keep the one-liners consistent when a swarming mass of ankle-biters is trying to rip your guts out and the humor of discovery is replaced by the necessity for survival.
Cooties is fully aware of the type of film it wants to be – and should be – so it makes no attempt to dumb things down or take a more palatable approach to the subject of kids killing and being killed in hilariously gruesome ways. Whannell and Brennan tossed in a little bit of commentary on the over-medication of our kids and their obsession with technology to add a modicum of depth to a film that could have remained just as good without it. Through it all, Murnion and Milott revel in its absurdity without compromise and never lose sight of what makes Cooties such a fun ride and one of the best horror comedies in recent memory.
Just two episodes are left in Season 2 of “The Originals,” and on tap right now to get you ready for the tragedies sure to come over the next couple of weeks, here are exec producers Julie Plec and Michael Narducci with an inside look at Monday night’s penultimate Episode 2.21, “Fire with Fire.”
“The Originals” Episode 2.21 – “Fire with Fire” (airs 5/4/15) A FAMILY DIVIDED — After discovering that he’s been betrayed by his own siblings, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) teams up with an unlikely ally and sets off on a warpath, hellbent on revenge. Amidst the news that Klaus is on the loose, Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Rebekah (guest star Maisie Richardson-Sellers), and Freya (guest star Riley Voelkel) move forward with their plan to lure Dahlia (guest star Claudia Black) to the compound and take her down once and for all.
Meanwhile, Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) and Jackson (guest star Nathan Parsons) attempt to escape through the flooded bayou, even as Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) finds himself hunted by a dangerous new threat. Finally, Davina (Danielle Campbell) is presented with an offer that could allow her the chance to bring back Kol, though it will require her to make a life-altering decision.
Leah Pipes and Yusuf Gatewood also star. David Straiton directed the episode written by Michael Narducci.
For the Box of Dread May 2015 Seventh Box we’re not clowning around… or maybe we are? Either way, one active Box of Dread acolyte is bound to be both happy and haunted because on tap right now, we have a replica of the Poltergeist Clown Doll from the movie ready and waiting to nab you! Read on for pics and details.
Only ONE current Box of Dread acolyte will receive this Poltergeist Clown Doll Seventh Box. Will it be you this month? Make sure that you sign up before the May 9th deadline and that your credit card information is up-to-date.
Check out these couple of shots of the Poltergeist Clown Doll that will be in the Box of Dread May 2015 Seventh Box. Do you dare to win this?
Synopsis: Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi (producer) reimagines and contemporizes the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and take the youngest daughter, the family must come together to rescue her.
Hurry, the deadline to sign up for the May 2015 Box of Dread is 5/9, 12 midnight ET / 9pm PT! All active May 2015 Box of Dread subscribers are automatically entered to win this Poltergeist Clown Doll.
Check out the latest unboxing videos from Box of Dread acolytes. Have you made your own unboxing video? Make sure to tag “Box of Dread” so that we can feature your unboxing video!
To win this Poltergeist Clown Doll Seventh Box, all you have to be is an active card-carrying Box of Dread acolyte before our deadline of May 9th evening at 11:59pm ET. Make sure your credit card is up-to-date or sign up below!
Olive Films is at it again, bringing another obscure little film to DVD. Read on for your first details and look at the artwork for Zombies from Outer Space.
Florian Kiml and Siegfried Foster star. Martin Faltermeier directs. Look for it online and in stores May 26th.
Synopsis: Rural Bavaria. The late 1950’s. Something very strange is taking place. When Maria (Judith Gorgrass) happens upon the dead body of a woman, little does she realize the terror that will unleashed in Zombies from Outer Space.
Noted scientist Dr. Robert Hoelzlein (Florian Kiml) and American Army Captain John Welles (Siegfried Foster), both brought in to investigate the crime, soon butt heads over the case and their mutual attraction to Maria. Romance takes a back seat when more bodies are discovered. Who or what has caused these mysterious deaths?
Starring Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Bruce Spence, Robin McLeavy, Jenni Baird, Anna Lise Phillips
Directed by Michael Petroni
With Backtrack, director Michael Petroni and star Adrien Brody have made a ghost story that becomes a quick fix for deep-seated guilt brought on by a childhood tragedy. The mystery that slowly (maybe too slowly at times) unravels itself isn’t overly complicated, but because of the emotional revelations the story reveals, there’s definitely a satisfying, surprisingly action-packed conclusion when everything is said and done.
Brody cozies up to an Australian accent as he embodies the character of Peter Bower, a broken man who resembles the psychologist’s version of Max Rockatansky after his child is run over due to his own negligence. He’s still living but knows he will never really live again, making him the perfect listener when it comes to his patients, who all happen to be dead. How they died and why is directly tied to Peter as he begins to figure out his role in their deaths with the assistance of his suspiciously helpful friend and therapist, Duncan Stewart (Neill).
There’s a consistent eeriness throughout Backtrack that makes some of the slow-moving scenes feel like part of a larger, well-crafted world that has a confident sense of atmosphere that harkens back to thrillers with a more classic, deliberate setup. Peter has to eventually return home and deal with the fact that the kind of carelessness that resulted in his daughter’s death happened once before when he and his best friend, Barry (Malcolm Kennard), did something that ended in tragedy and has haunted the town ever since. To free the souls that keep popping up and scaring the shit out of Peter, he must deal with his own guilt and come clean.
The scenes involving these ghosts eventually turn them into a sort of traveling band that points him in the right direction by acting out their own deaths and appearing in places that hold clues that might release them from limbo. The problem is they completely disappear about half of the way through, making their earlier presence feel more like well-timed jump scares instead of setting up any real connection with them as characters. Backtrack focuses too much on the characters that are still living at times, which makes it feel unsure of what kind of movie it wants to be. Is this a ghost story or a murder mystery? Once things wrap up, it’s a little bit of both, but it has to completely ignore its initial setup in order to get there.
Backtrack does have an episodic kind of feel to it that makes it seem like a longer, more epic journey than it actually is, and the transition from the seedy city to small town mystery is a good combination. Brody is the emotional center, and it’s a solid role for him, and his and Neill’s involvement helps elevate some of the more important beats in the movie. Out of Tribeca this year, Saban Films has just acquired Backtrack so look out for it if you’re looking for a moody, mystery-driven ghost story on a rainy night.