Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Son of Terror (2008)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 3/5

Weird. Disorienting. All over the place. Son of Terror is a film that is high on concept but it's something that just gets much too muddy and confusing for my taste by films end.

The film begins after a preacher gives a sermon which then quickly cuts to a skinny old man. Looking ever so creepy this side of a Tool video, he's preparing for his nightly ritual of preying on the homeless in the streets of downtown Seattle. After disposing of this night's prey, we are met with a cowboy-like police officer and a quirky pair of body removing funeral home owners.

Shifting now to a man who's a struggling artist, we come upon him as he meets his girlfriend and another woman at a bar for some drinks. We come to find that the other woman had been a photographed subject for our artist. A very strange and awkward conversation ensues between them with innuendos abounding. This sets off his girlfriend and she walks out.

Confused yet? At this point, every event seems to be happening at random with no real rhyme or reason for any of the character's interactions. In addition to very little character development and awkward transitions from scene to scene, a series of (seemingly) random events continue as the film progresses: the artist's roommate pulls a gun on him, he has these odd flashbacks, and a very weird bit of dialogue ensues with the cowboy police officer. All the while, the serial killers continued reign of terror runs in parallel.

The problem for me is in the film's 'resolution.' At a point in the story where I thought I was making some sense of this with the idea that maybe the lives of the killer and artist would merge (with them being one in the same), I was lead to believe otherwise as the gun pulling roommate calls the old man a performance artist and completely harmless. So when the credits rolled after a dramatic showdown with our artist (who's now become increasingly paranoid) and the police, I was left with more questions than answers.

Corresponding with writer/director Antony De Gennaro via email, he revealed to me the inspiration behind the film: the homeless in Seattle and more broadly, those who are afflicted with mental illness. We are supposed to be viewing the film through the lense of our artist as he slowly devolves into insanity with each feeling, emotion, action and reaction all being a part of his deteriorating state of mind. He wrote the film from the perspective of characters already having been developed so its more incumbent upon the viewer to figure things out. The main influence for him being the works of David Lynch.

A film this conceptual, at least for me, asks too much of the viewer in order to 'get' it. That being said, just because I didn't enjoy the film on first pass doesn't mean you won't. After talking to Antony via email, I can now appreciate the film a little more in what it was trying to accomplish. And now I want to revisit it (which says something since we've seen a lot of shitty films on this site). So if you like your horror film's more conceptual and artistic than most, this just might be your cup o' tea.

Cortez the Killer

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: A. Jaye, Thrill Fiction

Meet The Horror Bloggers is an ongoing series, dedicated to bringing you the folks behind some of the web's best horror blogs.

Our first installment to feature someone from across the pond, A. Jaye over at Thrill Fiction is an aspiring writer, oftentimes working on various projects at the same time. Thrill Fiction is a platform which showcases both his unique voice and talents while keeping his ideas and creativity fresh.

A. Jaye steps out of the darkness and into the light:

Horror fiction introduced itself to me via The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I was sitting on the floor with my childhood peers forming a crescent around our teacher Mrs Hulme. I can still feel it; the horror. I don’t know if they continue to tell such stories in English primary schools. It’s not a criticism.

I immigrated to Nigeria at age nine and subsumed myself in literature (American comic books are literature). Marvel was must read DC was grudge read but scary stories published by Charlton, Warren and EC were a dare. One particular tale kept me up the night after I read it: the apparition of Marie Antoinette’s severed head haunting the underworld of contemporary Paris.

I wanted more.

Soon after under the influence of mother’s pulp fiction collection I decided to become a writer. The home video boom of the 80s enveloped me and horror lit gave way to horror flicks. I had to pretend not to be haunted in front of my teenage peers. There was no pretence at night. Basket Case 1982 caused a nightmare. I haven’t watched it since. I wrote my first novel the summer I graduated high school – a crime thriller. MacMillan gave me my first rejection slip with the advice to try the English market. So I returned to the UK in ’89.

Hollywood is more glamorous than the London publishing industry so I wrote a screenplay. The second one – a horror story called No Fixed Abode – was an AMPAS® Nicholl Fellowship quarter finalist in 2000. After another feature length screenplay and a short script I decided the London publishing industry is more pragmatic than Hollywood. So I wrote my first novel.

While I prep Please Don’t Hurt Me for publication I write the blog Thrill Fiction. It keeps me creative and treats my addiction. Horror consumes me more than any other genre. It engages at the most primal level. The best movies appeal to our intellect. So I write about what I see onscreen. My Re/Made strand compares remakes to the original flicks. The last one I wrote was A Nightmare on Elm Street. The next will be The Thing. I critique. I review. I write words without fear because no man should live with it.

Horror is a momentary haven from the terrors of reality; racism fascism terrorism et al. This 21st century is looking very much like the last one. The current writers and filmmakers of the genre face the same challenges as the neophyte Romero, Carpenter and Craven did. There is also the PG pollution from the media barons. The Thrill Fiction manifesto is to celebrate the genre and to criticise it. It is to raise the bar and keep it there.

I believe in what I write. I also believe I can’t point the finger without exposing my own work. In this I’ve decided to write a spec sequel to the rebooted A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010. It’s a rewrite of the rush-to-theatres Freddy’s Revenge 1985. The first draft is due later this year. It’s going to be one of those scripts that improve on the original. Otherwise what’s the narrative point?

I take my horror seriously. I don’t scare that easy.

In other news I like cheap booze, smuggled cigarettes, world war 2 console games, wrestling (the fake type), MMA, cheap credit, football – that’s soccer to you, and women (fake hair, fake boobs but no fake tan).

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Best Metal Moments In Horror History

For this edition of Best Metal Moments, I give you the one, the only Rocktober Blood. If you haven't seen this dopey, mostly bloodless slasher from 1984, you're missing a film chock full o' songs that will get stuck in your head faster than you can say Cheap Trick. Forget the fact that it's a terrible slasher film, OK really terrible slasher film and revel in its awesome metalness.

The lead singer of a band, believed to have been dead by all, comes back and seeks revenge against the female backup singer who sent him packing to the electric chair. You see, he killed the producer and a few other folks who he deemed ill fit to produce his records. Now that she's fronting the band, he believes that she's doing a horrible job singing his songs. But is it really the lead singer who's come back or is it someone else who's jealous of a former bandmates's success?

As far as metal moments go, there are plenty. But by far, the end takes the cake. Tray Loren, who plays the lead singer/revenge seeker, takes the stage and channels his inner Rob Halford crossed with Glen Danzig. After killing a few stage dancers during his first song, not even a cracked guitar over his head and shoulder could stop him from delivering his prized hit during the finale.

Cortez the Killer

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Popping My Horror Convention Cherry

This past weekend, I went to my very first horror convention. Ever. Shock-o-rama, I know. Most horror bloggers have been going their whole lives. I was born and raised in San Diego and they didn't have an annual horror convention. Instead, I went to the ComicCon every year which has now become something of an interesting thing in and of itself as it's hugely Hollywood. When I went, the biggest 'star' I ever met was Adam West.

So how crazy is it that posting on this dinky blog would lead to a convention director out of Seattle reaching out to us? So impressed was he by our love and support of indie horror, he invited yours truly out to participate in the annual convention known as Crypticon.

Now being a 'veteran' of the comic convention world, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect: people dressed up, lots of debate on comics (in this case horror films) and people just generally nerding out. What I didn't expect was the engaging and without pretension (I say this because I've read blogger 'horror' stories of meeting their heroes and having them turn out to be complete dicks) nature of the genre stars that I met. Here is a rundown of the folks I talked to and some of the things that we discussed:

- Kane Hodder talked to me about Hatchet II. I wasn't a huge fan of the first film but my partner in crime, Complaint Dept. (pictured above) really dug it. Kane was really excited about it and said that it's waaaaay better than the first and because of that, I'll most likely check it out. Plus I'm a sucker for slashers.

The picture below was re-taken after my flash didn't work properly. On the first take, he had a kung fu grip around my neck which I thought was funny at first until I gasped for air. And my neck hurt for the rest of the day. I'm a pansy.

- I met the very boisterous Amanda Wyss and the very classy Heather Langenkamp. They signed my Never Sleep Again poster after purchasing the documentary. Heather stated she has absolutely no desire to see the remake. And they both mentioned how they want to do more genre pictures together. Just an FYI to all our filmmaking friends.

- By far, my greatest experience was with one Ms. Felissa Rose. She couldn't have been more sweet and fun to talk to. I actually had no idea that she was going to be there. Before heading out to the convention, I had read an article about how they kept the ending of Sleepaway Camp a secret from her (afterall she was only 13 at the time). It wasn't until years later (in her 20's) that she actually found out what happened at the end of the film. To say the least, it shocked the hell out of her.

After talking to her, Complaint Dept. and I headed to a conference room in the hotel where a special screening of Sleepaway Camp took place. Ms. Rose was on hand with some of her colleagues (she was there helping to promote a film distribution company) and they all took turns in MST3K fashion, poking fun at the 80's hair styles and wardrobes. Ms. Rose also talked onset gossip and revealed some interesting, little known facts about the film. Did you know that James Earl Jones' father, Robert, played the camp cook Ben?

Next up was our real reason for being there: screening two amazing indie horror films for convention goers. We passed out fliers all morning long and hoped for a good crowd. Unfortunately, the way the convention schedule shaked out, we were up against about 5 other events at the same time. And being that it was a pretty small convention to begin with (there were a total of about 300 people there, maybe 400 tops) it made it difficult in getting a sizeable crowd.

But the show went on with a respectable amount of people taking in both films. And despite annoying sound issues, people stuck with it. Some stopped by to talk about the films afterwards which was a lot of fun. Overall, the experience was amazing and I hope to carry over my learnings into a series of screenings that I want to get up and running here in Dallas.

Thanks to all in the blogger community for your support, especially Becky Sayers over at The Horror Effect and Chris Hallock and Mike Snoonian over at All Things Horror.

If you haven't already, please check out our reviews of the films below and afterwards, check out our interviews with the filmmakers on the 'Interviews' tab of the blog. They are really deserving of your time and support.

Alice Jacobs is Dead
Summer School

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Nightmare Alley (2010)

Fear 0/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 0/5

For the most part, I enjoy horror anthologies. If you don't like a particular story, one is sure to come along and make your movie watching experience somewhat pleasurable (insert middle school sexual joke here___). And with a direct quote on the cover of the DVD of 'Now this is my kind of grossout' from schlock meister extraordinaire Herschell Gordon Lewis, you'd have to think that what you've found in your mailbox is something completely off the wall and entertaining.

The film starts off with a duo of heshers, recounting their concert going experience from the night before. A bum comes along and offers them the latest issue of the comic book Nightmare Alley in exchange for a smoke. When the bum gets too feisty with one of the friends and attacks him, the other takes off running (what a fantastic friend!). Our chicken shit friend soon stops and pulls up in front of a dumpster and starts thumbing through the newly acquired comic book. He sees whats about to transpire with his own person on the pages of the book and a pair of hands reach out of the top of the bin and rip off his head. Cue metal soundtrack and the beginning of our set of tales. Not a bad way to kick things off.

We are then introduced to a cloaked figure who looks like a cross between Svengoolie and The Cryptkeeper. He madly chuckles throughout the film and delivers such cheesy one liners as 'Now that's certainly not the way to get a head in life' after every segment. Instead of giving you a blow by blow recount of each one (because there are far too many here, in my opinion, for an anthology), I'll give you a CliffsNotes version of each:

- A group of thieving cowboys come across a meteor that's landed (the effects are silly here as it looks like a Super Mario Bros. pluck pluck fireball sailing through the air) that appears to be made of gold, one decides to take it for himself, shoots the others and they come back under the power of the meteor as zombies to exact revenge.

- A man buys a plastic rat despite warnings from the shop clerk of its satanic history, takes it home and months later we see him picking up women and using them as the possessed rat's source of soul sucking meals.

- A man who cheated on his wife, meets up with a woman that he met online at her home. A ghoulishly looking woman with an axe strikes him down and we come to find out about a 'tragedy' which occurred in the particular house not too long ago.

- A woman meets a man at her apartment complex pool, invites him in for some adult fun but it's not long before her boyfriend comes home. They argue and she knocks him out with a frying pan and doubles the cooking utensil as a means to bake the severed head of her boyfriend. And she calls the man she met and invites him over for dinner.

- A man dressed as Jack the Ripper pretty much just runs around, in broad daylight, killing people at will. And thats about it.

There are three more stories but honestly, I can't recall them as they weren't the least bit memorable. I'm surprised I recall as much as I did because after the 2nd story, this film got really really boring. There are one too many stories going on and as result, none of them have the effect that they are supposed to. Everything feels rushed through (with each story topping out at a max of about 10 min. each). And without any attention to characters or story, the overall film fails as a result. Nevermind the fact that there were continuity gaps that were much too hard to ignore.

The best part of the film was the appearance of one Danny Marianino. For those of you who may not know, the infamous Mr. Marianino served the legendary Danzig a beat down.

In the end, I just can't bring myself to recommend this. Even to the most diehard of horror fans. There just isn't enough here to make for a quality film and the lack of attention to detail (spelling errors in a story's epilogue, the continuity gaps, and more importantly, the telling of a quality story) is just too much to ignore. A shame, because with a quote from HGL (who I'm a huge fan of) and with a tagline of 'Terror Begins Where The Sidewalk Ends' (evoking images of Shel Silverstein and his creepy art), I really thought this film was going to deliver. If there had been a greater focus on tightening up the stories (or getting rid of some altogether), ensuring each one were of better quality, then I think the filmmakers would've had a hit on their hands.

No trailer for this one. Just take my word for it and stay away.

Cortez the Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: Joe Monster, From Beyond Depraved

Meet The Horror Bloggers is an ongoing series, dedicated to bringing you the folks behind some of the web's best horror blogs.

For this week's installment, we focus on a blog that just oozes love and passion for the genre, From Beyond Depraved. I love a horror blog in which the writer's style conveys a childlike glee with just about every word that's written. Joe Monster's passion for horror is apparent in just about every post: whether it's a review for a film or a book or whether it's talking about why he loves a particular sub-genre of horror. For evidence, look no further than his recent standout post about werewolves which makes the inner kid in me all giddy.

Joe Monster steps out of the darkness and into the light:

It seems like horror has always held its dark, twisted roots in my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my first childhood memories are of hearing the piercing shriek of the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West and staring at the rotting cadaver known as the Cryptkeeper on my television set in New York. But, like many fans of the genre, the deal was sealed the minute I began watching the classic Universal Horror films from the 30’s and 40’s. First seeing a masked Claude Raines stalk about the backstage shadows, I was soon obsessing over bloodthirsty Transylvanian aristocrats and dusty mummies shambling forth from their ancient tombs. I’ve been writing for just as long. I would make it a habit to not only compose illustrated “books” of the movies I loved, but I would also force my family members into re-enacting those very same chillers in home made movies with my siblings and I as the stars of the show. Even the family dog was utilized for scenes requiring werewolves of the four-legged persuasion. The Goosebumps series of R. L. Stine was always an inspiration to me and I longed to write tales of my own of the spooky and weird. Though I do enjoy penning pieces of putrid fiction, in the end I find the most enjoyment by simply discussing the multiple and diverse facets of the thing I love the most: horror. And that’s where the blog comes in.

I started reading horror blogs almost on a fluke one night. I was really impressed by the level of sophistication and knowledge of the genre that some of these writers had. I had always wanted to make a horror website, so the minute I spotted that 'Create Blog' button I cried out 'By Jove, I think it can be done!' I’m kind of temperamental like that. Surprisingly though, I didn’t become bored with it after five minutes or so. I actually stuck with it. Can you believe it? The name actually came from a horror anthology comic that I planned on writing (that was one of dem temperamental things, ya see). It kind of perfectly captured the type of personality I have and the atmosphere I wanted for the blog. It’s ghoulish, it’s insane, and it’s all written by someone who loves horror so much that he doesn’t know what to do with half this junk he rambles about! And apparently he talks in the third person. The madness!

One of the things I’m trying to accomplish with From Beyond Depraved is to cover the horror genre in all its media forms. Sure, that might be setting myself up for disaster. But what can I say? I’m a huge fan of reference guides and books and I’ve always wanted to emulate that in that website I never got around to doing. Some people are never made aware that horror extends beyond the boundaries of cinema. In my own humble way, I just want to expose my readers (all five of them) to all the other things horror has to offer. In books, television, comics, music, video games, old time radio, and I’m even considering adding a theatre section to the site in the future. I want to be able to invite horror fans in for conversation ala FDR’s cozy fireside chats. We can talk solemnly on the foundations and fundamentals of genre entertainment or we could have a rib-tickling good time joking about the lighter aspects of it. Either way, I just want to have a good time and inspire others to do the same. That’s the beauty of horror. Underneath that gruesome mask of mutilation lies a skull grinning ear to ear, just a fella looking for good ol’ depraved fun. I’ve just gotten started at this whole blogging game but I’m already in love with it. I’ve gotten the chance to talk and work with some extremely cool people. Each comment I receive makes my day shine a little brighter and reasserts the fact that I am a strong, confident, and independent woman. What more could I ask for? I’m basically keeping a journal of mad ravings on my more-than-likely unhealthy obsession with monsters. And people actually read it too! Thank you, enablers! In all seriousness though, I do want to just give a shout out to all those who have supported me in just the last few months that I’ve been active. It really helps. And to all the other horror blogs out there: you’re awesome! Don’t stop! It’s you that makes horror fans all over feel like they have a voice. It’s all a testament to the doctrine that has stayed with me for years now: horror is where the heart is.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Spit On Your Grave: Remake News

Dread Central reports today (see here) that the director of the remake is overly ecstatic about the fact that the film will be released in theaters with an 'Unrated' rating. And that, in order to gain the 'respect' of us horror loving fans, the studio has opted to not change a single thing.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but an unrated tag to me means a few extra boobs or maybe some additional severed appendages or gory bits but doesn't necessarily reflect that it will go 'all the way' as the original film did. Plus I have a hard time taking it seriously with its tagline of 'It's Date Night' which seems more suited for a goofy teen slasher than a brutal tale of revenge. Nevermind the fact that what it implies has absolutely nothing to do with the premise of the original.

What say you's?

Cortez the Killer

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Monday, June 14, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Becky Sayers over at The Horror Effect, has won our contest thingamajig to create a totally fabuloso flyer for promoting the event which I'll be presiding over this Saturday at the Seattle horror convention Crypticon.

The incredibly talented Ms. Sayers has won:

- A one year subscription to HorrorHound magazine
- The Fright Rags T-shirt of her choosing, aka this one

And a super special awesome prize:

- A copy of Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Many thanks to Becky for designing such an amazing piece of art inspired by the grindhouse films of yore.

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, June 11, 2010

[REC] 2 (2009)

Fear 5/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

Picking up pretty much where REC left off, a group of four heavily armed and uniformed police officers storm our 'infected' apartment building with a believed representative from the Center for Disease Control (or the European equivalent) in tow. Starting off with a bang and in frantic fashion, our group comes upon a member of the infected while searching an apartment and bites one of the officers. Making work of the rabid man, our bitten member of the law quickly turns but before he can attack the group, our supposed CDC member subdues him. And so begins a plot shift which is quietly eluded to in the first film but is brought to greater light at this moment.

And really kids, I can't tell you much more for to do so, would spoil the surprise, shock, and turn you on your head, 180 plot shift. What I can say is that take any notions you have of the first film and throw them out. The way the 'infection' is handled from this point on is both unique and absolutely brilliant. Truly convention challenging and the way that its executed all the way up to and including the shocking, equally handled with adeptness and originality, ending.

I will instead focus on more of the aesthetics of the film. What also works well for it is the employment of shifts in perspective. Our officers are equipped with mounted cameras on their helmets and multiple times perspectives change within the group. One particularly harrowing moment occurs when one of them gets trapped in an apartment and we see, through the lense of the other officers in safe hiding as they change camera feeds, the tragic fate which befalls him.

The other shift occurs with a group of mischievous teens which storm the building with their own handheld camera which they've been messing around with. It may seem like the filmmakers were just trying to write-in scenarios in order to keep the first person sense of realism going and to throw the viewer off balance, but it feels natural here as the kids are shown prior to doing stupid kid stuff like goofing off and pulling pranks. And the peer pressure mounts as one of the boys convinces the others to enter the building after coming upon the wall of emergency vehicles lined in the street.

No matter what group the camera decides to focus on, the film continues to do well with what made the original so successful: taking people and throwing them into chaos, with real, natural and believable emotions being expressed. From fear, to dread, to breaking down and losing all rationale, the film brilliantly displays a world in which chaos reigns. This pulls us in as the viewer, emotionally investing us from the word 'go'.

And if all that wasn't enough, our female reporter from the original film makes an unexpected return towards the end which then leads us into another plot twist that you don't see coming.

Expertly executed, genre convention challenging, original and ultimately brilliant, REC 2 gets my vote for best horror film of 2010 (so far). OK, OK, so it was released in 2009 but the rest of the world is only getting a look- see just now, so in my book, it counts as a 2010 release. Be on the lookout for an announcement regarding the inferior American remake sometime soon.

Cortez the Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: Rondal Scott, Strange Kids Club

Meet The Horror Bloggers is an ongoing series, dedicated to bringing you the folks behind some of the web's best horror blogs.

For this week's installment, I bring you my favoritest new-er blog on the block. The Strange Kids Club is a safe haven for all ye geeky kids who got up super early on a Saturday morning to watch really good cartoons, who could sing The Hulksters entrance song, and who stayed up late that night to catch spooky horror programming and other assorted B movie fare. If you are one for nostalgia and were a child raised in the 80's, The Strange Kids Club should be your one stop shop for reliving those childhood memories.

Club president Rondal Scott steps out of the darkness and into the light:

Most of us [fans] have at least one story or film that ignited our interest in the horror genre, whether it be at age 6 or 60, the first 'infection' is always the worst. For me it has to be Gremlins and, though the scars have healed, I still find myself picking at the scab every once in awhile. It tends to remind oneself there's still that inner child lurking inside who likes to be scared. So yeah, Gremlins. Those wacked out overfed snakes with legs who clawed at you from beneath the edges of the bed while you slept. Lying awake at night, the sheets tucked tightly around my body so that I could feel every fiber of the bed, I remember an almost obsessive concern about what lurked in the darkness all thanks to that one film. Of course, I've gone on to watch far more revolting horror films as my fear has slowly turned into fascination, but I'll never forget that signature feeling of childhood repulsion and terror. It was my father though who unknowingly inspired my interest through his own collection of Stephen King novels. Far from a die hard horror fan, there was nonetheless something fantastical about King's writing that seemed to draw my father into that world and, as I grew, it also drew me in too.

As the eldest of two children, I can clearly remember my parents being stricter with me than my brother in terms of what I could and couldn't watch. So, while most of my childhood consisted of cartoons like TMNT, Thundercats, He-Man, G.I. Joe and Dick Tracy, horror was never far from home thanks to late night television. I think that's where most of my inspiration to become an artist and creative writer came from, a combination of Saturday Morning cartoons and USA channel's Up All Night with Gilbert Gottfried.

Growing up as a military brat, it was hard for me to find that niche of friends who shared my interests, and I was sadly influenced to leave most of that world behind. Never forgotten, though, I still found ways to curb my creative appetite for monsters and miscreants through comic books which I would both illustrate and write. In this way I was able to create entire worlds full of monsters, mutants and madmen that never lost against the 'forces of good.' I always felt sorry for the monsters in film, feeling that I had more in common with them than the hero(ine).

Despite clinging to comics, it wasn't until three years or so ago in college that I really rediscovered much of what I loved as a kid, especially horror films. It was like a whole new world opened up for me: expliotation films, Troma, Hammer Horror, Night of the Demons, giallo and Lovecraft all fused into one giant explosion of fear-inducing flavor sauce and I ate every bit of it with a side of hot wings.

Upon graduating, with 'corporate life' looming, I knew that I didn't want to lose all this knowledge as I did before so that's when I began blogging. Having worked my way through school as a graphic designer, I was familiar with most of the skills necessary for web design and vaguely aware of social media. It was difficult at first, mostly due to sheer naivety, as I expected to document these things (horror movie trailers, cartoons, comics, etc.) and have hundreds of people post their memories in response. Well, the internet doesn't quite work that way and so it took some trial and error to figure out first and foremost what would make me a) the happiest and b) stand out. That's when the concept for Strange Kids Club emerged. As a virtual clubhouse, I wanted to recreate that feeling of hanging out with friends with no rules, no expectations. You can read comics, watch cartoons, or just talk with other horror movie fans about films past and present. It’s kind of like a Neverland for those grown-ups who refuse to....well, 'grow up.' Sure, it’s still got a long way to go when compared to the titans of blogging terror that I so admire, but it’s my hope that with a little time, creativity and hard work that I can someday consider the 'clubhouse' to be among their ranks.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 1/5

Quite possibly one of the greatest monikered movies of all time, Dead Hooker In a Trunk is pure grindhouse inspired madness. It's over the top in nearly every regard: blood, gore, violence with more 'fucks' uttered than a Joe Pesci movie. All sandwiched together with a killer metal soundtrack. So does it deliver? What the fucking fuck do you think?

Well if the title doesn't hint enough towards what will eventually take place onscreen, let me set up the scene. A nice, shy, geeky girl, her foul mouthed, badass, whorish twin sister and their junkie female roommate, wake up in their apartment after a hard night of partying at a local bar. The non-slutty sister tells her sis and roommate that they need to pick up her main squeeze, a bible beating kid who's the leader of a local youth group.

Arriving at the church run youth center, it becomes painfully apparent that yes, the bible beating dude is one mondo ginormous, Jesus freaky deeky, dweeb-o-rama. After meeting our prime potential suspect numero uno, AKA the pastor, the kids leave. Peeling out in the badass sister's sweet vintage GTO, a few trunk bumps and thumps later, they pull over to find their dead street walking stow away. Thinking that maybe they had accidentally killed her during their raucous activities from the night before and stuffed the body into the trunk until they could figure out what to do next, the kids argue back and forth on the next course of action.

After a night at a motel to figure things out, (and almost getting caught by the cops if not for the sexy wiles of the slutty sister), what transpires next is a series of events which can only be described as a comedy of errors (highlighted by my epic use of the semicolon). --Spoiler alert!-- With the hooker still hitching a ride in the trunk: the kids stop at a drug dealer's apartment so that junkie roommate can get her head right; her arm falls victim during a drug hit that rivals that of Scarface; as badass sister enters the complex to figure out what the hey is going on, a mysterious figure takes a baseball bat to the side of the cabesa of the geeky sister as she waits outside the car in the apartment parking lot, knocking out her eyeball in the process; getting the fuck out of dodge, they soon pull off the side of the road and as they try to figure out what to do next, junkie roommate loses the arm completely to a passing semi; they then head out into the surrounding woods to bury the body, reattach the junkie roommates arm and take some electrical tape to the socket of the eyeball missing geeky sister; mid burial, they find out the hooker is not dead, startled, the badass sister bashes her head in with the shovel, now she's dead; they find out that a serial killer with a penchant for hookers has been running amock, they think that maybe they're actually on a mission from God?; they come across and wax whom they suspect is the killer by way of a pair of pliers and a drill; they come face to face with the real killer who suffers from a lifelong affliction of penile non-enhancement and they have an epic show down with him and his henchmen. Oh and somewhere in between all of that madness is a fight with the hooker's cowboy pimp and a cab ride with Jesus. --End of spoilers and ridiculously long usage of semicolons--

This is a fun, wacky and deliciously deranged first effort from the talented tandem at Twisted Twin Productions, Jen and Sylvia Soska (yuppers, the same twins that star in the film, they're multi-faceted!). I can't wait to see what these crazy gals come up with next.

Cortez the Killer

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Hey, Look Over Here

Yeah here. Looky here. Our friend from across the pond, Richard Gladman, he of the fantastical blog Cyberschizoid, recently interviewed yours truly. I talk about our inspiration behind the blog, I make an impassioned plea for supporting independent horror films, and I give mad love to our horror blogging friends who've supported us over the years.

A guaranteed good read.

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Conquest (1983)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness . . . kinda subjective
Sheer Ridiculousness - totally objective 5/5




Lucio Fulci is best known as the Italian gore-maestro who directed the Zombie classic "Zombi". Here he tries his hand at the (then) popular sword-and-sorcery genre, but with tons of boobs and gore. Does he succeed? Mmm, define success. If "success" means scoring the same special effects crew that worked on Sigmund & The Sea Monsters, then yes - TRIUMPH!

Here's the, um, plot: In a land far away and long ago, populated by smoke machines, wigs, soft focus 16mm cameras and synthesizers lived a bunch of barbarian types who resemble either Manowar or The Strokes. Animal skins seem to be the fashion - unless you're a woman in which case teeny tiny panties are in order (where did they get those?). There's also a bunch of wolfmen who go around clobbering dudes with bone weapons, snort blood cocaine, and grunt about who knows what while tearing naked women in half . The Strokes looking dude meets up with Ross the Boss from Manowar and they share raw meat and raw women. The naked sorceress, meanwhile - you know, the one with the bronze gorilla mask? She's after the Strokes dude's laser bow and arrow.

Manowar and the Strokes dude are attacked by the wolfmen and they kill Manowar's family. They also drag Strokes off to their slave labor camp. Luckily, Manowar can talk to the stuffed, string propelled hawks that live nearby and they lead him to the naked, Gorilla mask sorceress and there's some more gory fightin'. So then the naked sorceress conjures up a guy made of metal and offers her body and soul for him to go hunt down our two hairy chums.

I think that's the deal. More or less. Whatever.

There's a lot of splashy, meaty latex gore served up Italian style, some truly bad dialogue overdubbed by non-english speakers and all kinds of continuity errors. It's truly awful, but in absolutely the best way. It's not even remotely a horror movie but there is cheapo gore galore and that's good enough for me. Seriously, this movie is a must see. Every gore shot has the camera pause on the scene to make sure you can see what happened and is immediately followed by the sounds of wet spaghetti in a bowl. Know what I mean?

Also, I think the sorceress is named Oprah, but I could be wrong.

- Complaint Department

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House (1986)

Fear 0/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 0/5

William Katt is best known for starring in The Greatest American Hero, a goofbally TV show from the early 80's about a mild mannered, regular guy granted the gift of super powers by aliens via a silly red costume. George Wendt is best known as the affable loser "Norm" on the TV show Cheers (and maybe, to a lesser extent, as Fat Sam in Fletch) while Richard Moll is almost exclusively known as Night Court's "Bull". Why or how anyone thought this could result in anything besides an extended episode of Tales From The Darkside is a mystery to me, but that's the result.

House is centered around Katt who plays a horror author whose wife has left him and whose son has disappeared. He's also a Vietnam Vet whose
latest book, a memoir of his tours of duty, has been a work in progress for much too long. When his creepy old aunt hangs herself, he inherits her big Victorian house and moves in to get some much needed solitude. The house, however, has other plans and he is soon plagued by ghosts and spooky creepy eepies that attack him and cause all kinds of madcap and wacky hijinx.

There's also this strange side story about his time in Vietnam that gets woven into the plot along side lots of tangential scenes that go nowhere and have nothing to do with anything - for example, one day he walks out to his backyard to find a woman taking a swim in his pool. She explains that she is a neighbor from up the road and would love to see him later on - which she does by showing up at 10 PM to drop of her son for Katt to babysit. He does this, a ghost nearly abducts the kid, he saves the kid, she returns to pick the kid up and is never seen in the film again.

House is rife with rubber suits, latex monster masks and the occasional cheap scare. The music is cheesy and synthetic sounding, the sets are cheap and flimsy looking and the acting worthy of an Emmy nomination at best. There's nary a drop of blood and zero gore. The only reason I could think of that this was rated R is that the word "fuck" is used once. Were this released today it would struggle to get a PG-13.

It started well - lots of funny clothes and hairdos, some goofy dialogue and the promise of zombie-like ghosts who resemble Sargent D of the S.O.D. tearing things (and people?) up - see the trailer. But alas, this was simply boring and a tad bit confusing.

- Complaint Department

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Final (2010)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 0/5

By and large regarded as one of the stronger entries (along with Lake Mungo ) in this year's edition of the 8 Films to Die For Series, The Final is different and original in scope than your standard variety torture porn. However, in the end, it falls into a few too many hackneyed cliches and it struggles with bouts of being wholly self-aware when a more subtle approach would have been best served. And overall, it just doesn't go all the way with driving home the message that its attempting to deliver.

The film awkwardly opens up with a teeny bopper flick soundtrack (think American Pie) and stereotypical high school hallway scene which introduces you to a bunch of unlikeable characters. It was enough to throw me off and think, 'Had I pressed play on the wrong On Demand movie selection, again? Fuck, I hate it when I do that.' This gives way to a lunchtime cafeteria scene in which a handful of outcasts talk about their 'plan' for their tormentors. Whew, looks like I'm not wasting $4.99 tonight. Er, wait....

During the group planning session, one of the male plotters exclaims 'It looks like all those years of watching horror movies will finally pay off.' I almost wanted to stop taking the film seriously at this point and I was only about 15 minutes in. Sorry if I'm sounding a little cynical but I've seen one too many horror films lately that are much too self-aware. Its like every director has to spell out every plot point and have some sort of genre nod in an attempt to be more appealing. I mean really, how does a comment like that add to the proceedings?

Anyways, if you haven't figured it out, these kids are plotting revenge against all the jocks, popular kids, mean girls, etc. of the school that have made their lives a living hell. They sucker them into a costume party out at a secluded ranch, drug their drinks and watch as they subsequently pass out. The drugged party goers awaken later to find themselves chained together. The ring leader of the outcasted group (who are all sporting costumes of their own which help mask their identities), starts in on a speech after one of the jocks breaks down and starts weeping like a baby. Here is where the film really begins to lose me. Instead of a heart felt speech about ostracism and acceptance, we get a half-assed, whiny, 'no one would play with us' speech that rings hollow emotionally. And we get a 'this is revenge' or 'payback' line and we're supposed to believe that yeah, these chained kids really deserve what's coming to them. Look, I'm not trying to make light of school bullying. I was plenty smacked around, harassed and tormented when I was younger, being the shortest kid at school. But, essentially, what these kids 'suffered' through was tantamount to someone slapping their lunch tray.

So what we don't get in terms of a true sense of profound emotional and physical torture at the hands of these supposed bullies, you'd think that the next 45 min. or so would convince us of their just due punishment with some really brutal and gut wrenching payback at the hands of our scheming social misfits. To a certain extent there is (some finger clippings via a garden tool, a facial mask that's enhanced with acid). But it never really goes all the way and the intent and purpose of their plan is never fully realized as 1) they start infighting amongst each other and 2) it's foiled by a next door neighbor and a kid who's escaped the party.

In the end, there's certainly a message thats trying to reach out about bullying and social justice. It just lacks any sort of emotional resonance or punch. Since all the kids being held captive escape and our conspiring kiddos get waxed, there isn't a sense of anyone truly learning from their mistakes or grossly altering their life as a result of the experience.

Could we be seeing the advent of a new type of torture porn film? Hard to say. I do think, that in the hands of a more competent filmmaker, this could have really worked.

Cortez the Killer

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: Andre Dumas, The Horror Digest

Meet The Horror Bloggers is an ongoing series, dedicated to bringing you the folks behind some of the web's best horror blogs.

This week, we bring you the amazingly talented Andre Dumas, proprietor of The Horror Digest. She recently finished watching every film listed on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. She's also the queen of the screen grab, using it to highlight her reviews or other random musings (see her recent, epically awesome post about Pee Wee's Big Adventure, here).

Andre steps out of the darkness and into the light:

When I sit here and try to write a story of my horror origins, I feel that my life is a strange variance from the rest of my horror friends. My foray into horror began much later in life and under some of the strangest conditions. As a child I was terrified and comatose when it came to experiencing horror. Save for a trip to Florida and a viewing of Psycho when I was in 2nd grade, my parents never introduced me to horror or let me indulge in it’s magical VHS ways. It wasn’t because they were uptight rather, it was more like I was the uptight one. Although I was tantalized in a strange way by the power of neon Klown hair, my nightmares of finding my entire family turned into Killer Klowns outweighed my curiosity. As a teenager, I was afraid of gothic kids and cried the moment I started walking through the school’s annual haunted house (which sadly yes, was the kids version). Am I sad that my nosedive into horror took such a long time? Not really, because who really wants to read another autobiography about horror VHS covers? The truth of the matter is- I’m not what you’d expect. I’ve reached the point where almost every review I’ve done in the past 6 months are movies that I’ve never seen before and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Part of horror, perhaps one of the most important parts, is the experience. So what better way to experience it than your very first time?

We’ll begin, with the beginning. Previous to my first few years of college, horror movies dealt me much more pain and suffering than I’d like to admit. I for one am shocked that I didn’t die of a heart attack sooner. Instead of receiving that adrenaline rush of excitement while watching a truly scary movie, I literally felt sickness, fear and dread. There was never a release or something to make me say “That was awesome!” when watching such films. My first horror movie in a theater experience was Signs and I spent the entire movie with my hands over my ears and my eyes welded shut. I probably cried too but who was keeping track?

This all changed after I began religiously watching Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. A program many people dog but I’ve come to respect it since it is responsible for my true love of horror in the first place. With each clip that was showed, my ears perked up and I found a desire to watch each film in it’s entirety. Something about them was so exciting and beckoning. After hijacking my mother’s Netflix queue, I was sent two of the movies I was most eager to see; The Last House on the Left because a friend of mine’s mother always talked about how it was the scariest she had seen and Suspiria, recommended to me in my days of pretending I was a movie buff (you know that time I went out and bought a Godfather poster after seeing the film one time? Mmmhmmm). I only got halfway into Last House before feeling the need for a shower and while I lasted through Suspiria--I still felt a strangely icky feeling. Icky, like I was trapped in a nightmare and also because sometimes people were...dubbed! It wasn’t until my 2nd viewing of Suspiria that I came to realize how truly beautiful the film was. It was then that I realized I loved it and probably always would. I set off on a creative journey of semi-darkness. Writing was always my first love and my stories began undertaking a slightly darker and more beautiful tone than ones in the past.

I was still a bit on the fence about horror though. With every film I watched, I felt ickier and ickier--and gore wasn’t exactly my strong suit. My final acceptance and love for the genre however kicked in at the most unlikeliest of times. In my sophomore year of college I developed an anxiety disorder which in case you don’t know, is easily confused with dying. During these times, I felt like throwing up and crying for no reason almost every day- and while I felt this way, Hellrasier 1 & 2 were playing back to back on the good ol’ TV. You may think Hellraiser is the last thing you should watch if you feel like you are going to hurl, but for some reason I found them to be oddly comforting. I became lost in a world where it was OK to get involved in a story line that consisted of S&M and a lot of blood. I found a beauty in the story and it’s creativity. Instead of affecting my gag reflex, the blood and guts were exciting. I had arrived at my destination of horror fan. I was ready to watch as many horror movies as I could and I couldn’t be more excited.

After spending the larger part of my college career trying to tell people that Suspiria is the most beautiful film ever made--I gave up and graduated. After my first few months of unemployment I started to realize that I could blog about how beautiful Suspiria is the most beautiful movie ever made. In addition to that I thought maybe I could write about... other horror movies. A black backdrop, red font and google image search of the word “blood” and so began The Horror Digest. It’s been up and running for 10, almost 11 months now and I couldn’t be happier at where it’s taken me. I have recently watched and reviewed every movie on Bravo’s list, finally taken somewhat of a liking to Asian horror, done more than just reviews and met some truly amazing people that I can call my friends.

I’m not your typical horror fan by any means. I don’t like Friday the 13th, I usually frown when people tell me that the sign of a good horror movie is blood, gore and boobs, and I’m still scared of gothic people. I focus on my fear and how the movie affects me and I value the fact that some of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen- are horror movies. One day I hope to share that little piece of info with the world, but for now I guess I can settle on sharing it with my small group of readers.

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