Friday, May 28, 2010
Our inspirational friends over at All Things Horror, have again worked hard to put together an amazing night of indie horror. This time, the focus is on up-and-coming female filmmakers within the genre. And what makes me just as equally excited about the event itself, is that they chose the remarkable film The Commune as their main feature.
The following is a press release regarding the event:
'Wednesday June 2nd, All Things Horror proudly presents their first Women in Horror program as part of their monthly film series. This month, we’re focusing exclusively on titles that have been written and helmed by some of the most exciting new female voices in horror. All Things Horror recognizes and celebrates the envelope pushing work each of these talented creators have brought to their movies.
Our feature presentation is The Commune, written and directed by Elizabeth Fies. Featuring a shocking climax that will linger with the viewer long after leaving the theater, The Commune tells the tragic story of sixteen year old Jenny (Chauntal Lewis). She’s been sent for the summer to stay on her estranged father’s hippy quasi-religious compound. Underneath the granola lifestyle, sinister and terrible events are in store for the young girl. Fans of atmospheric, psychological mind benders such as The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now will appreciate Ms. Fies directorial debut.
Screening alongside our feature presentation is an outstanding short films program. We’re featuring a pair of short movies from Montreal film maker Maude Michaud: Snuff and Hollywood Skin. Monica Puller of Gonzorific films brings us her latest short Gimme. Finally, Izabel Grondin’s powerful and disturbing short film Fantasy completes our program.
All Things Horror Presents is an ongoing monthly film series at the Somerville Theater, hosted by Mike Snoonian and Chris Hallock of www.allthingshorroronline.com. The series kicked of this past January with the goal of highlighting horror’s brilliant new creative and independent voices. The All Things Horror film series strives to bring the weird and wonderful things that go bump in the night to the big screen in our little corner of the world.
The night starts at 7pm and tickets are available at the door for $5.'
So if you're in the Massachusetts area on June 2nd, put down your bowl of chowdah and head on out to what I'm sure will be a fun filled event. I mean seriously, it's only $5. When's the last time you had a ton o' fun for $5? Donkey shows in Tijuana notwithstanding.
Remember that great little indie slasher film that I reviewed a few weeks back? Well it's getting a proper DVD release. I know the sub genre is oft maligned because its been accused of running out of new and fresh ideas. But The Devil Within brings the goods with an original story and a unique way in which it handles an important plot device that is essential to slasher films: the red herring.
The film is available via pre-order (release date of June 29th) via the following retailers:
- Best Buy
Cortez the Killer
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Rolling the proverbial dice that is my cable's On Demand TV service, I decided to fork over my $4.99 for this indie film after watching the trailer. I'm glad I did.
The film starts off with a recently graduated college student, coming home from what appears to be a mid afternoon workout. He share's the house with a couple of roommate buddies but on this afternoon, no one's home. As he goes room to room to verify the packing progress of his flat mates (they have to be out soon), he comes upon one with an old book on the floor, encircled by a group of lighted candles. Puzzled by the grouping, he picks up the book and flips through it, reading a few of the passages. The book contains a ceremony by wherein the participant (if successful), has the opportunity to achieve a heightened sense of personal enlightenment. But of course, it comes at a cost.
Laying down the book and thinking nothing more about what he just read, he carries on with his day which consists of: laundry, packing, talking to friends on the phone about a party that night and with a doctor who's offering him his first full-time gig. Where some may find the mundane tasks boring, the film keeps you intrigued when these actions are performed with a creepy soundtrack that is interspersed. It keeps you on edge as the anticipation builds with an impending doom-like quality. Afterall, its not hard to surmise that upon opening the book and reciting a few lines, our main character has unwittingly began something that has yet to be finished.
As late day gives way to night, strange occurances begin to take place: bumps and thumps, the sounds of people walking through the house, slamming doors, furniture capsizing and crashing, shadowy figures being caught out of the corner of his eye. At first thinking its the neighboring frat house playing one of its usual pranks, our central figure begins to seriously worry when he finds himself locked in the house and voices coming out of the upstairs room.
The film culminates in a confrontation with a man dressed in white. A familiar incarnation of an evil which has taken one of its many forms. Our central character becomes conflicted by the choice he must make as he is informed that he must complete the ceremony which he himself started.
A pleasantly frightening surprise, The Ceremony may be low on budget. But its high on what makes a great horror film: atmosphere and suspense combined with a genuine feeling of fear and entrapment. The fact that the film was shot in one locale (the house), further lent itself to the feeling of no way out for our main character. I will say that this film is definitely of the slow burn variety (think Paranormal Activity or The House of the Devil) and chances are, if you are not a fan of this style of film, then you may not like it. My only criticism of the film is that it does rely on the haunted house schtick one too many times and it does get repetitious. But once the intensity wratchets up as the film nears its third act, it plows full steam ahead and devolves into complete and utter madness.
More information about The Ceremony can be found here. You can also check out the trailer via the site. I had a hard time trying to find it on YouTube.
Cortez the Killer
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Before we set sail on our honeymoon, I was bummed to find out that one of the greatest heavy metal singers of all-time lost his battle with cancer. Even though he barely measures eye level with me, Ronnie James Dio had a voice that could level mountains. I never had the privilege of meeting him but by all accounts, he was as genuine and kind hearted as they come. And let's not forget, he invented the hand sign we all associate with this genre of music:
And and (I'll probably draw a lot of flack for this), he recorded THE best Black Sabbath record ever. Don't get me wrong, Ozzy is Black Sabbath. But Heaven and Hell is their strongest record by far in no small part to the better muscianship and the amazing singing of RJD.
And now for some highlights of the past week's events and festivities:
- I was so nervous before the wedding that I almost passed out. My buddy advised me that when I saw my bride walking down the aisle, it would all go away and that I'd focus strictly on her. And that it would feel like you are the only two people in the room. He was absolutely right. She floored me with how beautiful she looked.
- The reception was off the heezy fo' sheezy. Open bar + Italians + Mexicans + Jews + Catholics = people being carried out of the reception at the end of the night. Good times indeedy.
- Cruises are incredible. If you have the time and the means, I highly advise that you take one. Not only do you get to visit exotic lands and experience lots of different cultures in such a short amount of time, it is literally the most amazing people watching experience. Ever. Physical requirements should be mandatory when buying certain types of bathing suits. And banana hammocks and speedos are NEVER a good idea. Even if you're European.
- After day 3 and being about 20 Mai Tais deep, I wondered why no one has ever made a good slasher film on a cruise ship before. Just think about it: around 2,200 potential victims, you are out in the middle of the Atlantic (or other body of water) and thousands of miles away from civilization. Mix alcohol, sex, douchey people of all sorts and you have all the hallmarks and potentially interesting plot devices one could ever dream of (i.e. ridiculous cruise shows, a myriad of no-talent entertainers at all times of the day, plenty of creepy wait staff and custodians, etc.).
Anywhos, I'm glad to be back. Thanks for all the well wishes on the blog and the one's posted on Facebook. You are all amazing.
Look for some great posts coming up including the winner of our fantastical contest.
Cortez the Killer
Friday, May 14, 2010
And I leave you with a picture of me with the love of my life from a costume party a couple months back. I played a Mexican cowboy to her knocked up, trailer trash teenager. We're classy like that. See you soon!
Cortez the Killer
Thursday, May 13, 2010
You may have noticed lately that some of us horror bloggers have taken to sharing some of our fond memories associated with going to the video store when we were young ankle biters. I had a different experience than most when I was a kid. You see, at the very end of the long aisle of videos, nearing the curtained off nudie section, was the row of 'No no.' My parents would take me and allow me to rent the latest in Disney fare or the safe PG flick but never, under any circumstances was I ever allowed to rent a horror flick.
I guess I should take a minute to describe my household a little growing up. I did so in one that loved horror films but because of the questionable content, I was not allowed to watch them. So I'd pretend to go to bed at night and sneak out into the living room and hid in the dark while my folks watched one. Or I'd luck out and sleep over at a friends house who's parents didn't really care what we watched (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Keeley!). But by and large, my real exposure and 'awakening' to horror films didn't come until I was in high school.
So when rental time came at the video store, and my dad was checking out the latest action flick or sappy romantic comedy for my mom, I'd sneak a peak down the row of horror films. I'd get that rush you get when you know you shouldn't be doing something combined with being genuinely freaked out from some of the VHS covers. These my friends are the all-time, burned to my brain, scarred for life, VHS covers.
The Company of Wolves
Just look at it. A wolf's snout coming out of some dudes face hole. And everyone's heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood by the time I first saw the cover to this film. Which made me flip my shit even more.
The Evil Dead II
A skull face staring at you from the corner of his peepers. Forget the fact that the movie was decidedly more 3 Stooges than the original. For a kid going completely by the merits of a DVD cover, this one was super duper creepalicious.
This one always reminded me of the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland. In particular, the talking skullhead warning you of a certain impending doom. Scared the beejesus out of me--both the ride and movie cover.
The Gates of Hell AKA City of the Living Dead
A green skinned, rotting ghouls face was all it took to freak me out. And that one eyed look of crazy only further wratched up the creep factor.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
With that demonic looking face in the back drop and kids partaking in the annual All Hallows Eve ritual, that was all it took to rattle this little kid's nerves.
What are some of your favorite, most creeptastic VHS video covers?
Cortez the Killer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
T&A Factor: 3/5
This is about as low budget as you can get folks. Shot on video, Sledgehammer is a supernatural slasher tale. It contains the requisite cast of amoral types (well, minus one virginal girl): a muscle bound jock (who's the SAME muscle bound jock in the AMAZING Aerobicide AKA Killer Workout), his rowdy trio of buddies, two slutbag friends, the aforementioned virgin and a partridge in a pear tree.
So before we get to our gaggle of goofy kids on their way out to a cabin in the middle of the California wilderness, we come find out about the history surrounding the hideaway. Apparently a whorish mom rendezvoused with her lover at the house a few years back. To get some adequate alone time, she locked her son in the upstairs bedroom. Well apparently little *Timmy didn't like it and busted out, grabbing a sledgehammer and taking down mom and her gentleman lover.
Now cut to our kids arriving at the house, we are introduced to the muscle bound jock boy and his saving herself 'til they get married girlfriend. In starts a long drawn out slow motion sequence of them frolicking through the countryside. Apparently the director thought that slow motion heightened emotional effect because its used REPEATEDLY throughout the film. This happens to be the funniest exampled, as the boyfriend uses the girl's head as a beer coaster.
Cue softcore porn music:
So our kids get to partying and boozing it up. And when I say boozing it up I mean I think these kids booze it up in this flick more than any other boozing kids in the history of boozing, trashtastic horror films. It's un-booz-lievable. They hit it straight from the bottle, so much so that it makes them fall over in their chair:
Act like a gay cowboy:
They even booze it up hardcore at the lunch hour (hey its 5 o'clock somewhere right?), so much so that it propels them into a vicious food fight:
They booze it up some more before holding a seance to resurrect the dead spirits of the couple that are believed to be still residing in the house:
Despite my genuine concern for their health, they carry on and muscle boy is in on a joke with his buddy as they pump voices via a rigged speaker throughout the house during the seance.
But the jokes on them as someone starts picking them off starting with our merry little wanking prankster!
A couple of the kids get to banging headboards and they fall victim to a figure wielding a sledgehammer.
So who is it? Is it the traumatized spirit of the little boy who'd been locked up by his whorish mother? Well yes and no. You see, little *Timmy is running around knocking off the group of alcoholics but as both himself and his transmorph-a-sized, big burly man self. Seriously. He goes Optimus Prime right in front of you but not before a healthy bitch slap to our muscle bound boy. No screen capture will do this justice. Watch this instead:
After a final standoff, the saving herself girl and her boyfriend narrowly escape the confines of the old house. And little *Timmy is shown in the upstairs room, looking out and waiting for his next set of victims.
Totally low budget and a ton o' goofy, nonsensical fun. Check out this forgotten slasher classic.
*Name made up to protect the young and not so innocent. Really, his name is never mentioned.
Cortez the Killer
Monday, May 10, 2010
Paperback Horror steps out of the darkness and into the light:
'Why the hell do you read those things?' That's the question everybody seems to be asking me these days, usually while they cast sneering glances at whatever paperback I happen to have in hand. The short answer? Because I like them. Because I can.
The long answer is a little more complex. After an introduction to horror at a young age I became entranced with everything dark, and soon Clive Barker’s Hellraiser really set me on the path to horror. When I found out that Hellraiser was based on a book I was amazed and quickly delved into Barker’s other work, starting with The Books of Blood.
Many years later, after dabbling in art and movies, I had not only amassed a very respectable collection of nasty and/or obscure films, but also honed my style in terms of painting and started an interesting collection of books.
After getting married and having kids, I no longer had as much time to watch endless streams of movies or hunker down and paint a beautiful yet unsettling picture. It was the perfect time to reintroduce myself to some of my favorite authors, and I trolled through my books seeking the mildewing pages of my youth. Writers like Poppy Z. Brite and Clive Barker jumped out and reminded me that beauty and brutality can walk hand in hand. Richard Laymon broke all the taboos that I had previously thought unbreakable, and Jack Ketchum gave me a panic attack on the subway. Brian Keene put the zombie back on the map, and Bryan Smith brought the slasher back to form. Gord Rollo made me believe that Canadians still have a shot in the horror business. But most of all, Steve Vernon made me believe that I was worthy enough to join them all in the world of writing, even if it is just in my little corner of the blogosphere.
Above and beyond everybody else, my beautiful and outrageously supportive wife has been the reason behind my every move. She was the only who told me to grab a book to occupy my time while in transit instead of staring at the wall, and she was the one who told me to venture outside the box. She continues to support me through our joint venture - Kinderscares - and with my own little pet project - Paperback Horror, where I read and review my favorite paperback horror novels.
So why do I read these things? Because I love them. They take me away from everything else, to a faraway place, to worlds where I can be scared, grossed out, entranced, or just plain entertained any time I want. And I write for Paperback Horror to give back to the authors who write what they love - to let them know that someone out there is listening.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
With the support and blessing of the venerable Iloz Zoc, AKA John Cozzoli AKA The Master of Disaster, over at Zombos Closet of Horrors, I am resurrecting the weekly/biweekly feature (depending on participation of course) on horror bloggers. You can be of any type: film critique-er, book reviewerer, or anything else that your horror lovin' heart so desires to write about. It is open to ANYONE. I only ask that you respect the viewpoints and passions of others and see this for what it truly is: to promote bloggers you may have not yet heard about and to help foster relationships with the community at large.
So if you want to be profiled on this here interwebs blog, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And be on the lookout Monday for our first post.
P.S. If someone would like to take a stab at designing a logo for the feature, there will be a cool 'reward' involved.
Cortez the Killer
Friday, May 7, 2010
Right off the bat, Lake Mungo adds a sense of credibility and realism with its cinema verite style of film. It adds a deeper sense of realism and automatically invests me emotionally as a viewer. I feel the plight of a family as they come to terms and explain everything leading up to and including the death of their daughter. Of course you need some great performances to draw you in and make that emotional connection. The entire cast is nothing short of amazing.
As mentioned, from the very start, we are thrown into the suffering plight of a grieving family. Their daughter Alice was swimming in a lake during a family trip and inexplicably went missing. Days later, her body was found and death by drowning was claimed to have been the cause.
After the family recounts the trip and the eventual horrific discovery, they begin to talk about strange occurances which seemed to happen almost immediately after their daughter's death. Noises in the house, sounds coming from their daugther's room and figures appearing in the hall, but no one wanted to believe that it was their loving daughter who'd come back.
Their son, who was incredibly close with the Alice, took up photography as a hobby and as a means of coping. After snapping a few pictures around the house, he noticed one day that the visage of his sister appeared in the family's backyard. Anxious to get more proof, he positioned cameras around the house to capture any sort of occurrance or supernatural happening.
Sure enough, events were captured on tape. But after further review the family comes to find that the brother staged everything. He couldn't come to terms with the loss and this acting out was a sort of coping mechanism. But when occurances keep happening after the exposure of the brother, the family begins to suspect that maybe the daughter really has come back to tell them something.
At this point in the film it takes a complete 180 shift in direction that you don't see coming at all. And if you do, I want the winning lottery numbers for this next week. We find out what plagued young Alice and racked her with guilt. And as this shocking turn of events unfolds, it leads into one of the scariest moments EVER committed to film. I won't divulge for those of you who haven't seen it but the whole concept was brilliant and unlike anything I've ever seen before. And it rattled me beyond belief. So much so that I had to turn on just about every light in my house. I was quesy for hours.
Lake Mungo is a genuinely scary film and one of the most original I've ever seen: both in execution and concept. I recommend this high likelihood of a pants shitting film.
Cortez the Killer
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
For this installment, comes the MOST metal opening of any film EVER made. Of course, I'm talking about the amazing intro to Zombieland.
Say what you will about Metallica, their first four records are the best first four records from ANY metal band. Ever. Once this kicked in, I had the metal horns in the air. Sure, I got some weird stares from folks in the theater, but the devil horns were well warranted. I mean, what more could you want? Zombies chasing down victims, zombie strippers, and Metallica? My head nearly exploded.
Due to funky YouTube and music copyright laws, the below was actually spliced together and does not contain the full intro.