Friday, July 30, 2010

Girls Nite Out (1984)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Ambiguous Gayness 5/5

This movie should be renamed Girls Nite Out....or how the boys tried to suppress their gay tendencies. Oh sure, it's your garden variety 80's slasher but there is so much more going on. Let's check it out!

The film starts with an amazing finish to a men's college basketball game, complete with tiny shorts. Total 70's music plays over the event (not the only instance in the film which had me scratching my head wondering what decade it was set in) and afterwards, we see our boys in the men's locker room. One guy, despite coming off a fantastic win, laments to his friend about the break up with his girlfriend. He consoles his buddy and tells him he'll be able to plow plenty of vagina now that he's single.

We then find out that that evening is the kickoff to a weekend of fun filled events complete with the legend of another student going batshit crazy around this same time years ago when he killed his cheating girlfriend. The festivities starts off with a costume party over at one of the sorority houses and rounds out with a scavenger hunt the next night. This is preceded by a duo of ambiguously gay guys who are fraternity buddies with our friend and his butthurt basketball amigo. As they head back to their dorm rooms to get ready for the evening, the girlfriend of the non-dumped dude asks them what they are dressing up as.

Enter Ambiguously gay scene #1:

Ambiguously gay guy #1: 'I'm going as Beaver Cleaver!'
Ambiguously gay guy #2 (said with a lisp): 'And I'm going to cleave the beaver!'

Back at the drom, as the girlfriend gets ready and puts on her costume, our buddies start hanging over each other, shirtless, and feeding each other Jack Daniels.

Enter ambiguously gay scene #2:

After getting ready, they head on over to the party. The friends in ambiguously gay scene #2 come dressed, one, in his best Rob Halford garb and the other, as his awkwardly wrapped to the hilt, gimpish bitch.

Enter ambiguously gay scene #3:

Unbeknownst to them, the killer has started in on his duties with the first being the basketball team mascot. He waxes him and steals his bear costume, donning it for the remainder of the film. To round out his dastardly vehicle of death, he implants it with some knifes which extract all Wolverine snikty snikty like from his paw.

Along with the ambiguously gay duos, a few other male friends are having lady issues. The campus security guard catches on to this as we learn that his daughter was the victim of the crazed ex years ago. He'll be watching the kids like a hawk that night which will be the anniversary of her death.

The lamest college radio jockey in history kicks off that night's festivities. Not only does he have zero personality, but he plays nothing but Lovin' Spoonful's Summer In The City. On repeat. And he dishes out the 'clues' AKA 'How the fuck would anyone get that?' for the scavenger hunt. The only one I can vaguely recall is 'I'm on a beach and keep you shaded in royalty.' And somehow it leads to a tree in a graveyard. I've never been good at scavenger hunts anyways.

During the hunt, they one by one fall victim to our bear suited killer who's going all Wolvie berzerker style while shouting cries of 'whore!' and 'slut!' And our only guy who has a girlfriend, is fucking around on her while she's being terrorized by manbear suit. Douche.

Our film culminates with a final showdown in the school's cafeteria with the campus security guard in tow. Only its not the boy who murdered his daughter years ago. Instead its....dun dun dun.......his sister the lunch lady!!

This movie isn't good by any means. But you know me, I'm a sucker for this kind of shit. It's like crack.

Cortez the Killer

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spray For Blood

Hey kids! I wanted to point you over yonder to this here website which I just started writing for. It features a super duper talented group of horror bloggers and it contains lots of neato stuff: from news to interviews to reviews and special features.

For my first post, I wrote a review for the super mega awesome horror comedy Blood on The Highway. Check it out:

Don't yous worries though faithful readers, we aren't going anywhere. This just gives us an opportunity to write for a much larger forum. And more importantly, give additional exposure to some hard working indie filmmakers and their films (which will be my primary focus).

Cortez the Killer

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Darkness Within (2009)

Fear 3/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 5/5

A man and his girlfriend move into a new apartment in a small suburb somewhere in New England. From the get go, the boyfriend gets strange oompa loompa vibes from his next door neighbor as he first appears wearing a robe and slippers, watering his front yard while at the same time, sporting a devious looking grin. After their day of moving, later that evening, the boyfriend goes outside to relax and take a few swigs from his flask. He finds his neighbor still watering the yard, with the EXACT same attire, while still flashing that crazy looking grin.

The couple head off to bed not too much later. The boyfriend wakes up in the wee morning hours to use the bathroom and is startled when he sees his neighbor peering in through the window. He sprints out of the house and rounds the corner to catch him but he's nowhere to be found.

The next morning, before the young couple head out for the day, the boyfriend confronts the neighbor. Telling the boyfriend it wasn't him, he begins describing the cozy, quiet and peaceful setting that is the neighborhood and how he wants to make sure it 'stays' that way. Not getting the response he was expecting, the boyfriend storms off.

The boyfriend and girlfriend head out to the local park to get acquainted with their new surroundings. The boyfriend, being a free lance photographer, starts snapping away. While taking pictures, he notices the creepy neighbor trailing behind them. After returning home from the park, a series of events occur in which the boyfriend perceives the neighbor as stalking and harassing them. As the paranoia of the boyfriend heightens, the film does a complete 180 which you don't see coming. A sleight of the hand which totally throws you for a loop. Our devilishly looking neighbor appears again at the end of our film, intimating that he had a hand in exposing the boyfriend for who he truly is.

This one is a slow burner. Zero blood, no gore all psychological. A taut thriller with one hell of a twist. The only gripe that I have with the film is when the boyfriend takes refuge from the 'occurances' with his upstairs landlord and her man friend/roommate. They both provide comedic relief and it detracts a little bit from the mood and tension the film does so well to build. But its not so much so that it derails the entire effort.

Overall, a great film: well shot, executed and more importantly, original. Kudos for the neat genre nod at the end too. I love it when a film subtly slips in a reference or two. Makes my nerdy heart jump for joy.

Cortez the Killer

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Haunted Mansion

Inspired in part by a post over at Dinner with Max Jenke and news which dropped on Thursday, this post is a bit of a personal trip down memory lane. Disneyland played a central role in my life while growing up in Southern California. San Diego to be exact. Prior to moving to Dallas at the ripe age of 27, I'd been to the classic theme park no less than 30 times. Sometimes twice in one year. From family gatherings to birthday parties to grad night in high school, many of my life's fondest memories are from my experiences at the park.

One of those is one of my earliest 'horror' memories. I was about 6 and someone in the family thought that I was ready for something far more ghoulish. To this day, The Haunted Mansion still peers over the other attractions in New Orleans Square and it still gives me a shiver or two down my spine when walking up to it (especially at night when the lights cast a particuarly green hue).

Let me set the stage for you during my first visit to the mansion: as you wait in line, you zig zag through a garden which is filled with headstones. Each one containing a cutesy saying or phrase. The mansion itself kind of looms over you and it's one of those iconic homes (think The Overlook Hotel) that forebodes of a certain impending doom. The 'caretakers' of the home play the part of an unemotional, brooding overseer and yes, even at the age of 6, I caught on to that. Gone were the silly sing song-y worker types which you can find throughout the rest of the park and in their place, were people that gave you a cold glare or two.

Making your way through the mansion and into the house itself, you are quickly ushered into a downstairs study. People shuffle in until the room is at capacity and one of the caretakers closes the door behind you. An ominous voice rings through the room and begins to tell a little bit about the history of the home. He then tells about the paintings which surround you. There is one of a woman holding an umbrella, a man and his brother in the woods, along with a few others. As the voice continues talking, you are directed to look at the paintings as the floor below begins to move downwards. The walls then appear to be expanding, so too does the actual paintings which reveal something altogether terrifying: the woman who's holding an umbrella is doing so while straddling a rope which is tied to two trees, an alligator below waiting for her to fall with its mouth wide open; the brothers are shown with bears chasing after them. As the voice continues, the floor stops from dropping, the lights cut out, and a blood curdling scream cuts through the room. Lighting cracks and as you look to the ceiling, in the flash, you see a man hung from a noose. This all occurs before even stepping on to the ride. So you can imagine me as a 6 year old being completely terrified and clinging to the leg of my father.

As the trip downward stops, the doors open again and we are lead to our 'carriages' which transport us to the spirit world and through the various haunts within the mansion. Seated two to a carriage, you are quickly whisked away and are thrown right into the ghastly haunts: winding through hallways with floating candelabras; 'floating' above the main dining hall as ghostly guests dine on food and dance in the adjoining living room; then onwards through a graveyard with ghosts and other creatures flying overhead and lastly, through to your final destination as you pass a mirror that reveals a passenger which has hitched a ride with you back to the land of the living.

So what's the point of me telling you all of this? With Thursday, came the news of Guillermo del Toro producing and co-writing a new Haunted Mansion film. The visionary director behind films like Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage, del Toro couldn't have been a better choice for bringing (accurately) to life an experience from my childhood which is so rich and striking. I still don't know how Disney pulls off some of the effects on that ride. I can't wait to see his take on it. Especially after the lucky few who got to catch a sneak peek at the San Diego Comic Con and happened to hear del Toro exclaim: 'We are not returning Eddie Murphy's calls...and we are not making it a comedy,' Del Toro told the audience after showing a teaser. 'We are making it scary and fun, but the scary will be scary.' (Source: Shock Till You Drop)

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Aftermath (1994)

Fear 3/5
Gore 5/5
Fucked up-ness 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

This short film is fucked. Like fucked to the 2nd power. The the horror equivalent of pi with limitless fucked up-ness. Pythagoras would have a hard time coming up with a new theorem in order to find something as equally as fucked up.

The film jarringly opens with the sounds of a car accident which then cuts briefly to the scene. We are then led to the inside of a hospital as patients and those not so fortunate to still be alive are wheeled through.

One of those not so fortunates is shown with a couple of morticians with one in particular, being far too enamored with his handiwork. Slicing open a man's chest and rearranging his innards, this is clearly someone who is overly interested in his subjects.

Returning to the scene later, we see him again, this time with a female corpse. Bodily defilement continues and when that does not satiate him, he goes one step further into full on copulation. And he takes pictures of his encounter for future reference. If that wasn't enough, he takes a souvenir from the women and whips it up in a blender when he gets home, then feeds it to his dog. Pan the camera to the same woman's picture and write-up in the obituary. El fin.

Apparently the film explores necrophilia in all its nastiness and brutishness. Its in your face from start to finish and its meant to be that way to convey those qualities. I couldn't help but think there was another subtext going on. Namely, the overall lack of respect for people. But maybe I'm looking too much into it. Oh and not a single word is uttered throughout the film which only adds to its overall creepiness.

What say ye brave souls who've kept your meal from coming up (or not) and gotten through this one?

Cortez the Killer

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: Geofree Capodanno, Enter The Man-Cave

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

Another blogger who doesn't focus solely on horror, Enter The Man-Cave is a fun and refreshing read when you need an escape from all the blood and guts. Savor his tasty reviews of new beer he's come across or laugh at the latest spam email he's received in his inbox. But don't let the non-horror related posts fool you. This is one passionate fan of the genre. When he does post about horror films, his love for them is pretty apparent. I mean a man that says he loves Hard Rock Zombies has to be legit, right? --No sarcasm intended, we LOVE that film!

Geof makes a rare appearance out of The Man-Cave and lands on the Planet of Terror:

Anyone who has ever read Enter The Man-Cave, ETMC, 'The Cave', whatever you want to call it, knows that my blog is not always about horror. Sometimes I write comedic stuff, review new beer my taste buds just experienced or whatever craziness is floating around my brain at the time. I also have a keen interest on watching some god awful flicks that I feature in some parody laden posts, such as Amateur Hour and Electric Avenue Reviews.

My blog has been called non-genre specific by some horror bloggers and that's cool with me. But the majority of the blogs I follow are horror-related, most of my posts are horror-related and some of my closest blogger buds maintain horror-related blogs. Hell, I am even a proud card carrying member of the HBA! (HBA East-Side! Represent!) So in the immortal words of the great Severyn from Near Dark, trust me when I tell you that I 'Know what side of the bread my butter's on.' Since I am submitting this post for one of my favorite blogs and one of my favorite blogger buds, I am going to focus on the horror-loving side of my persona.

Here's the funny but honest truth about how I got into horror films. Growing up, I watched horror films, albeit reluctantly. I say that because I would watch them even though I knew I would be scared to death later on at night when I would try to go to sleep. Freddy Krueger, Barlow from Salem's Lot, Michael Jackson with cat eyes in Thriller (and I could go on and on with this list) used to scare me shitless. Hell I used to be scared JAWS was in my 4 foot above ground swimming pool. Let's say that I am not proud of my sissy-boy days of youth.

This bitch-assedness continued until my older sister, a huge genre fan back then, sat down with me and watched ANOES 1 and 2, the latter just released on VHS. It's funny how immediately after I watched those films, I lost my fear of horror almost instantly. The negative intensity turned into obsession with the genre. Late nights scared of horror films became late nights staying up to anxiously watch cable horror flicks instead. Then I rented every horror film I could off the local video stores' shelves. My comic book money had to be rationed to buy Fangoria mags. Horror replaced Sci-Fi as my favorite genre. And the pattern for the rest of my life was set in stone.

One night I went on a date at Cinema 141, a now defunct local theater in my hometown that always played horror films, to see Return of the Living Dead 2. Having been a fan of ROTLD and never watched Evil Dead before, I was disappointed to learn that ROTLD 2 had sold out because we got there too late for the last showing. I talked my girl into going to see ED 2 to at least salvage the night. What I didn't realize was that Evil Dead 2 would begin a turning point in my life, as strange as that might sound. I remember leaving the theater feeling like I had been on a rollercoaster ride and thought to myself 'I want to write something like that. I want to create something like that.'

Then I wound up spending a lot of time writing short stories and used my savings to buy a camcorder and start shooting horror shorts with my friends. That evolved into me buying books to learn photography, lighting, editing and even learning how to write screenplays. My first screenplay was called Hell-o-ween and I prayed the band would not sue me if the script was ever bought and released by a studio. Of course that never happened so no worries there. The story was about a small group of friends whose town is overrun by resurrected zombie-like demons. It's about as original as any shark film made after JAWS, but it definitely is something that I am very proud to say I wrote at such a young age.

Fast forward to several years later when I yearned for another hobby as an creative outlet. That's when ETMC was born. My wife is the one who got me turned on to blogging by pushing me to start one in the first place. I never read any blogs before thus had no direction on what exactly to write about. I remember my first instinct was to write about horror films, but didn't think anyone would want to read a blog about horror films. Little did I realize that there were many other people on this great planet that also had a strong pulse on the horror genre and even moreso than I did. Reading content on their sites is a daily indulgence that I cannot give up on any time soon. One of the greatest highlights of this year has been meeting some bloggers in person at the Monster-Mania convention and thus meeting some really awesome people who I probably never would have known existed had it not been for the epic bloggerverse we all frequent.

I am not really a huge diehard fan of some of the recent horror flicks that have been flooding the cinemas with the recently rejuvenated horror craze. Most of my favorites are a part of the older school of the genre as well as those that borderline on horror-comedy. Some of my personal favorite horror flicks include the Evil Dead trilogy, JAWS, Return of the Living Dead, Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as well as the original, Halloween, Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, Near Dark, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre ('74), Hard Rock Zombies, REC, Paranormal Activity...and I will stop there. These flicks are the favorites that instantly pop out of my head, but there are a great deal more as well.

In closing, I want to graciously thank my man JC for inviting me and ETMC to be highlighted on his site's excellent feature post. It is truly a wonderful thing to be listed among the ranks of some great bloggers in the bloggersphere, all of which I'm happy to say that I follow.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Audie And The Wolf (2008)

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

I heard about this film through the Road Warriors-like tag teaming blogging duo of Mike Snoonian and Chris Hallock over at All Things Horror. They sent me a trailer along with a screener request from (presumably) the film's distro company. I saw the trailer and was immediately hooked as it seemed like something pretty fun and original. A horror-comedy featuring a werewolf that turns into a man every full moon? What a brilliant concept! So I decided to reach out to the distro company myself to obtain a copy of the film. The result? A film that doesn't quite hit on all notes but has its moments.

A reservation dwelling Indian tells his special breed of wolf to skedaddle once he catches word of a group of hunters which are after him. The wolf ventures out and is struck that night by a woman driving her car. She stops and the mandog jumps into the passenger side and hitches a ride back to her home: a mansion in Los Angeles.

Having no idea what she's in store for, as the full moon reveals itself, wolfy turns into a man (actor Derek Hughes bearing a strong resemblance to Jimmy Fallon), who's completely buck nekkid. Startled, she picks up a pistol and unloads but misses with each fire. A scared manwolf kills her and dumps her body in the basement. So starts a string of killings and dumpings in said basement.

Getting hungry for the taste of meat, manwolf scans the phone book and finds the name and number of a delivery service. A young lady soon appears at the front door complete with wolfie's order: bags of fresh steaks from the local market. An awkward conversation ensues as wolfie stumbles through explaining who he is and how he got there. The girl, being a little this side of weird herself, tries to help him make sense of everything. A bit of a crush quickly reveals itself and the girl named Audie is asked to return later with some more meat but not before she advises him to call a doctor to help him with his strange affliction: complete with peeing in the corners of the house lift legged doggie style along with his penchant for eating raw steak.

So a doc comes over and manwolf tells him he's trying to 'reform' himself as a killer (hence the raw meat and dumping of bodies rather than eating them). Not believing him at first, he grows worried when he hears some rustling in the basement. When the doc tries to leave the house, manwolf attacks and kills him, dumping his body in the basement along with the woman. But there's just one problem: his victims aren't staying dead. They come back as some zombified version of themselves. Friends come by when they haven't heard from the home owner and manwolf 'kills' them too and dumps them in the basement.

Audie later comes back and learns of manwolf's other side but that doesn't stop from their awkward relationship from developing further. She advises him to burn the bodies so that he can rid of the evidence and they can then start on a new life together. Manwolf turns back to wolf at the next full moon and they drive off together into the sunset.

Audie and the Wolf isn't a bad film by any means. I just felt like it could have been so much more. The jokes oftentimes fell flat, the relationship between Audie and manwolf felt rushed and underdeveloped and the rules the film starts with are never followed all the way through. You see, manwolf has to relearn everything once he turns every full moon: who he is, what things and objects are, etc. But that wasn't followed through with on more than one occasion as manwolf knows how to use a phone or look things up in a phone book. Minor things I guess but not following your own logic that you set out with irritates me beyond belief when watching a film. And there were a few concepts that I would have liked to have seen explored more. Manwolf used the world as his peeing spot and towards the end of the film, he drank water straight out of a toilet bowl. Moments I found funny and really wished there had been more of.

Overall, I give kudos for originality, something which is hard to come by these days with horror films. As mentioned, the film is not without its merits and has a few great scenes (manwolf gets into a power tool battle with a next door neighbor which ends in a gorrific blood bath). I just really felt like it had the potential to be something far greater.

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, July 16, 2010


Awwwww yeah, all up in yo face with da new stylee. Check out our new logo slathered in awesome sauce and fist bumping-ly sweet header courtesy of the incredibly talented Rondal Scott III, esq. (AKA the proprietor of Strange Kids Club).

The first person who can name all of the characters and what films they're in will receive a neat-o prize.

Cortez the Killer

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

BleedFest Invading Tinseltown!

Put together by writer/director/producer/actor/all around kickass person Elisabeth Fies, Bleedfest is an all day film fest spotlighting amazing genre films directed by women. If you are in the LA area or can make the trek from surrounding inhabitations, I highly encourage you to attend this Sunday. You'll be supporting some truly incredible and original independent horror films. Not to mention, the participants involved are genuinely good people.

A blurb along with a rundown of the day's festivities is as follows:

'Come support AMAZING genre films by lady directors! If you don't live in LA, please pass this invite on to cool people who do!! Only $10 for all day admission! Free parking on side streets. There will be DVD giveaways as well as opportunities to meet the filmmakers and support them by purchasing DVDs and merchandise.'

SCHEDULE: Sunday, July 18th

12:00 pm IN MEMORIUM written and directed by Amanda Gusack. Psychological horror (2005): 71 minutes.

1:20 SIMONE (short) written and directed by Jenine Mayring. Psychological thriller (2009): 9 minutes.

1:30 Q&A with Jenine Mayring

1:45 DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Grindhouse (2009): 92 minutes.

3:15 Q&A with Soska Twins (all the way down from Canada!!)

3:45 THE COMMUNE written and directed by Elisabeth Fies. Psychological thriller (2009): 91 minutes.

5:15 Q&A with Elisabeth Fies

5:30 NETWORKING DINNER next door at Aroma's.

For more information, check out the event's webernets page:

Cortez the Killer

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview: Paco Plaza, Writer/Director '[REC] 2'

If I were to vote for best horror movie of 2010 so far, (OK it really came out in 2009 but its just now invading stateside) hands down, that award would go to [REC] 2. Not only does it expound upon the foundation its predecessor built to more horrifying effects, but it also employs new tricks with the found footage schtick, keeping the audience off kilter throughout as perspectives shift multiple times.

Through the miracle of modern technology, I was able to briefly email interview/shoot questions over to Paco Plaza, one half of the Spanish filmmaking dynamic duo (Jaume Balaguero being the other) responsible for this terrifyingly terrific film.

Let's hop right to it!

Cortez the Killer: [REC]2 hinted as to what could have been behind the ‘outbreak’ towards the end of the film. But it really didn’t divulge everything and show all of its cards. Without giving too much away, what was the idea behind the drastic plot shift in [REC]2?

Paco Plaza: Yes, that is part of the background we created. At the end of the first [REC] we gave a lot of clues, in the tape, in the newspapers on the wall. Everything was already there. With [REC]2, we wanted to dig further into the idea of the 'zombies' being infected by evil itself.

CTK: I love horror films that defy conventions and yours certainly does that, not only how it’s filmed and presented from a first person point of view but also with the concepts in this second installment. Tell me about your horror film influences and inspirations.

PP: While writing the script we constantly spoke of Lovecraft, and his vision of the uncanny, the evil beyond imagination. That was our main inspiration.

CTK: For the first time in the films, the first person camera view shifts multiple times. I thought it was interesting in showing different perspectives and points of view. Tell me about that and your reasons for keeping the viewer off balance in that regard.

PP: It comes from the hours spent playing videogames. We thought it was a great way to introduce other POVs and at the same time add something dynamic to the storytelling. It was a plus to the audience implication, increasing that 1st person experience.

CTK: The acting at all times feels natural which allows us to empathize with the characters as we’re thrown into their world. Part of that was the ‘realism’ inherent in the filming from a first person point of view. But more importantly, the actors onscreen in their ability to convey true dread and fear. Describe for me the process in getting the most out of your cast, which in turn, allows us to enter into their world of chaos, fear, and uncertainty.

PP: You said right. Our job was to create that environment during the shooting. We had lots of tricks, like giving fake scripts to the actors, taking the light off without them knowing. We played a lot with them. We let them improvise and it helped us in creating that chaos. It was a really nice collaboration, we provided them the freedom to create, and an actor seldom has the chance.

CTK: Some of the best horror films released within the past 10 years have been released in Europe. Is something in the water over there?

PP: I don’t know! It’s true, but not only from Europe. We've had great films from Asia and Latin America as well.

CTK: Any upcoming films or projects that we should be on the lookout out for?
PP: I just finished a 3D concert for Spanish Rock star Bunbury (he’s on tour in the US right now). And I'm beginning to write [REC]3.

Cortez the Killer

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nekromantik (1987)

Fear 1/5
Gore 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
Entertainment - a tough one....

I once lived with a guy who was really into horror movies. He introduced me to grindcore way back in 1990 when it was first starting to come around. A good guy that I'm lucky enough to still be in touch with. He loved this movie - thought it was an astounding piece of art. I've never really agreed but I definitely agreed that it was a grim little feller of a movie.

It would simply be ludicrous to say that Nekromantik is not offensive. You should be offended and disturbed and if you're not, you've got a screw loose. Despite the facade of "art" and "creativity", despite any sort of psychological, philosophical mumbo jumbo you want to throw about, Nekromantik is nothing more, nothing less than a sleazy film about corpse fucking. Add in that it's terrifyingly cheap and German (and that's freakishly important) and you've got a movie that intentionally blurs the fictional line between snuff film, porn and some unknown and hideous form of art. . . that probably exists only in Germany. It's a nasty fucking movie and is not for the faint of heart.


The plot goes a little like this - a guy works for "Joe's Streetcleaning Services", which means he is part of a crew that cleans up the human aftermath of car accidents. With each accident he cleans up, he brings home a little souvenir. An eyeball here, a hand there, an ear, an amorphous, blobby organ from time to time. He has a girlfriend who, from what we are lead to believe from the scene of her bathing in a tub full of blood, seems to be cool with it. In fact, kind of into it. In fact, WAY into it.

One day, he and his work crew buddies are called out to clean up the decomposing remains of a guy found in a small pond. The body is grey, rotting and terrifically gross, despite it's relatively obvious "fakeness". The main dude decides that it's time to bring his girlfriend a little sumthin' sumthin' to make her happy. So - the whole gooey body is popped into a bag and brought home for the Mrs and she immediately creates a substitute penis for the corpse out of some metal piping (complete with condom) - and so begins the graphic corpse humpfest that begat the film's title.

At this point my mom probably would have disowned me for watching this far. And I begin questioning myself as well. But it's for art's sake that I keep watching!

Oh, but it gets better. When the main dude gets fired from his job, his girlfriend becomes furious and decides that it's time to, as Robert Plant would say, "ramble on" - and she takes the dead guy with her. He kills his cat - which I really really hope was not real - and takes to sleeping underwater in his bathtub, eating cat guts, taking drugs and having weird dreams about throwing severed heads and guts around - you know, standard stuff.

This, of course, leads to his picking up prostitutes and schtupping them in the local graveyard, eventually killing them and then schtupping their dead bodies. You know, standard stuff. And on and on the murder and mayhem goes, with occasional bits of seemingly unrelated bits of animal cruelty and happy frolicking through meadows (for real) tossed in.

It's weird and it's yucky.

So here's the big question - as a horror movie, does it succeed? Well, what's the goal here? Is it to horrify, shock and nauseate the viewer? Then yes, I suppose it does. The scene where the (all too real and all too live) bunny is clobbered, stabbed, skinned and gutted is pretty nasty by itself - not to mention how it is part of a montage type scene where the main actor is methodically performing an autopsy on a dead guy (which is fake, but still pretty yucky). But if the goal is to entertain, be artistic and have some sort of statement - well that's where I'm iffy on success.

First off, I'm not sure what the statement is here, nor do I even think there is one. I truly think the point here was to push things as far as they could go. There were not a lot of "mainstream" films like this in 1987 - and frankly there aren't these days either. I think this is a good thing. The ending of the film is really fucked up. Like really fucked up.

And oddly very German.

I can't say that I was offended. I was weirded out and felt like I had a film over my entire body after watching it, but not really "offended". I don't think it should be banned and I'm not angry about any part of it - mmm, except for the rabbit. The film, like a lot of current French horror, is too heavy handed and tries way too hard. It's like The Exploited vs. Black Flag. The Exploited were far too "punk", with their mohawks, safety pins, bondage pants, songs about anarchy and Thatcher - it was comical and seemed planned and obvious. Black Flag on the other hand, was a bunch of skinny vegetarians in hand me down button ups who made music that was vicious and powerful. Not obvious at all.

I don't like the obvious. I never have and I still don't. The whole thing feels like it was written by 16 year olds who said to each other, "you know what would be gross...?". And to be sure, it is gross. It's super gross and it's fucking gnarly in concept and execution. But if your goal is to give someone a headache, it works better if you slowly tap away on one's head with a small hammer than it does by annihilating them with a 20 pound sledgehammer. That just obliterates you.

So - do I recommend Nekromantik? I think if you consider yourself a diehard horror fanatic, or just want to see something that will get a reaction out of you, then it's . . . well, something to see I guess. But if you're a casual fan whose taste is more along the lines of slasher films and bigger budget horror, I would not spend the time and effort tracking down a copy to watch.

And yes, there is a sequel.

- Complaint Dept

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Psycho II (1983)

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

Twenty some odd years after he was discovered to have kept the rotting corpse of his mother, pretended to be her and taking it to a whole other level of strange in dressing like her, we are placed smack dab in the middle of a court room drama as the judge proclaims one Mr. Norman Bates fit to return to society. The sister of Marion Crane, Lila, vehemently opposes the release of Norman the monster who murdered her sister and a private detective by the name of Arbogast years ago. But her words fall deaf and to no avail.

Norman is released and right away he works to get adjusted and assimilated into every day life. With the help of his psychiatrist, he's given a job at the local diner where he makes quick friends with a clumsy waitress. He's even encouraged to return and again take residence at the scene of the previous crimes: the Bates Motel and his mother's home. Running the joint in his absence, he asks a court appointed caretaker to pack up and get out of dodge after he discovers the motel has been transformed into a hangout for drug dealers and hookers.

In between trying to rid the premises of the pesky property manager and befriending the girl he met at the diner, Norman starts receiving a series of messages and phone calls which leads him to believe that his mother is still alive. With each call and written note he receives, Norman is pushed closer and closer back into being a crazy nut pants. But his new friend does her best to keep him in check and allay his anxieties. Afterall, he's doing his darndest to lead a normal life.

Our waitress is soon put out by her boyfriend and she takes up residence at Norman's home. Without a care about his history, the previously homeless girl almost becomes too accepting of Norman's past and current flirtations with madness. As the body count begins to rise, all eyes turn to Norman and despite him being prime suspect numero uno, the waitress insists it isn't him but rather she reveals a more foul plot is afoot. When Norman's psychiatrist catches wind of the contrived plot to send Norman over the edge, the film ends in dramatic fashion as he goes to the house to warn him. And just when we think things are over and Norman is now left alone to live in peace, another plot twist takes hold and we finally see Norman fall off the deep end and revert back to his 'old' ways.

More than an adequate sequel, Psycho II is a classic. Of course, it will never reach the level of notoriety as its forebearer but it's a fantastic film that keeps you guessing all the way until the very end. It also has some really nasty kill scenes (a knife through the mouth of a screaming woman and the Arbogast kill part deux but much more intense). And it also has one of the best quotes from Norman in the series. When the waitress comes over to the house for the first time, she inquires about a piece of silverware in order to slice a sandwich. A stammering Norman responds with:

'I forgot to bring any cu-cutlery.'

Cortez the Killer

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meet The Horror Bloggers: Bryce Wilson, Things That Don't Suck

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

OK, so Bryce Wilson, the incredible wizard behind the curtain over at Things That Don't Suck, doesn't focus solely on horror. You can't watch horror films all the time. Can you? Along with horror, he covers just about every other film genre imaginable along with sharing his thoughts about what he's currently reading. And his passion for film and literature is evident in every post and in every word written. Simply put, he inspires me to be a better writer. If you don't follow his blog, you really need to.

Bryce steps out of the darkness and into the light:

The best thing I’ve ever read about horror fandom came from Stephen King’s Danse Macabre. He likens being a horror fan to a gold panner. There’s fair amount of time when being a horror fan is a down right unrewarding experience. Most days you go down to the stream, bang your knuckles on the rocks, and walk away with nothing more then a vague sense of resentment. Some days you go down and find some dust. It might not pay the bills but it’s enough to keep you going, keep you hopeful. Keep you down there to the day you go down to the stream and pull a fucking nugget out of the river.

But still, why do it? Why spend so much time on a genre that is often so frustratingly uncreative. So obviously pumped out by people who couldn’t care less?

Well I for one can’t remember a time when I didn’t like horror movies. Of course it was a long time before I actually got to see them.

I had two somewhat overprotective parents. Something that I end up giving them more slack for now then I used to after watching white trash couple number two thousand and ninety three take their crying three year old to a Hard R. So aside from the occasional Universal horror film (some of which I still have fond memories of, some of which scarred me for life) and a memorable early showing of Nosferatu, my diet was basically horror free until I was a teenager with my own damn video store account and a bunch of Steven King paperbacks.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that my interest in horror was at least partially motivated by the fact that it was forbidden. But I never would have cared if it was forbidden if the images of horror didn’t have such a primal pull in the first place.

I got those images from two places. One was of course from the seedy pleasures of VHS Box art. There have been columns, hell entire blogs ( and books devoted to that particular pleasure. But the other was two books which for some reason were put in the kids section of the library and I wish I could find them so I could prove that they exist.

I forget the titles but both where pictorial histories of film, one covering the modern era and the other from the classic. They showed images and synopses from a surprisingly wide array of film. And the images went on to as, Martin Scorsese said, 'Color My Dreams.' There was the tall milk eyed zombie from I Walked With a Zombie. The Thing from Carpenter’s remake with its neck stretched and mouth of its still recognizably human face filled with fangs. There was little Regan O’Neil staring out from behind her contacts and face paint scarred and clammy. Images of the Universal monsters, Jack Pierce’s design.

Taken out of context these images seemed even more potent. More dream like, more nightmarish. They were centerpieces for my mind to spin elaborate designs around. And I knew anything that could produce the likes of it was something I wanted in my life in a big way. I was already a junkie for the stuff and I loved it.

And that was before I even saw Evil Dead II…

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interview: Matt Dean, Writer/Producer: The Devil Within

Readers of this interwebs blog know of my affinity for slasher films. Tasteless? Yes. The bottom of the barrel in terms of horror films? Arguably so. A lot of fun and sometimes inventive? A resounding hell yes.

I contend that, by and large, everything that needed to happen with this sub- genre did so in the 80's. A formula was born and a dead horse was riddled with bullets and filmmakers today are still circling the wagons thinking that 'Aw shit son, this fucker ain't dead yet. Let's see what we can do's to be 'different.' There are some interesting things going on with the latest generation: the killer in Laid to Rest and that's about it; The Hills Run Red had some decent moments but was entirely too self-aware and you could see everything coming from a mile away. And Scream certainly turned the sub-genre on its head in the 90's and challenged conventions. But for the most part, its all the same corny beef rehash.

But just like everything else that gets stale, now and then, sometimes a film comes along and slaps you upside the head. That little indie film with a nano budget is called The Devil Within and its the most fun I've had in years watching a modern slasher film.

I recently had the opportunity to email interview Writer/Producer Matt Dean. He discussed with me the inspiration behind the film as well as the idea behind one of the best usages of a red herring in any slasher film ever.

Cortez the Killer: Where did the idea for The Devil Within come from?

Matt Dean: Randy and Cindy Aldridge, our Executive Producers, wanted to do a 'Part 2' to their film 'Disturbed' which was released the year before. After discussing the idea for a while, we decided it was better to start a new story – with some similar themes. Randy made one request – which his kids – Alex (21) and Peyten (18) were in the film. I set out to write a film that focused on this brother and sister – and on their group of friends in high school. I wanted to find a way to use Peyten’s handicap (Arthrogryposis) to our advantage so I went with the first scary thing that came to mind. Imagine a villain – a dark hooded figure with a large knife, chasing our innocent- stumbling Peyten down a dark alley. Never before in a horror film had I seen a villain chasing a handicapped girl. This would be brilliant! We didn’t want to treat Peyten as 'different' we wanted to include her as one of the leads just like any other actor – but use her condition as an enhancement to the story. Now – how do we go back and set that up? Who are Peyten’s friends? How did she get to the alley? Why wasn’t her brother helping her? Who was this villain?

The audience is smart. They love to be thrilled, but they also don’t like to be talked down to. We wanted this film to be entertaining on every level. Sexy, funny, scary and surprising – and by the reviews we are getting, it seems we achieved that.

CTK: As mentioned in the review, I thought it was original and refreshing how the employ of the red herring was utilized. You started the film with a brutal attack, had us hone in on a suspected antagonist (played brilliantly by Bill Oberst Jr.), and then did a complete 180 around the 3rd act or so. Tell us about the idea behind that.

Matt: As a writer, I think it’s important to know where your story is going to end – so that all of the choices made by the characters can logically lead to that conclusion. But not only did we want the ending to make sense, we wanted the final conclusion to be a big surprise. How do you do both? With careful planning – and good collaboration. Bill did a wonderful job for us and is truly a great villain. Our idea with the red herrings was that we wanted REAL red herrings – not just a slight of hand. Sure – we have a moment or two of the 'cat jumping out of the dark' but we tried to stay away from most of those normal conventions. People are use to them. The audience is smart. They love to be thrilled, but they also don’t like to be talked down to. If we were going to have a so called 'red herring' that person/persons needed to be a real threat so as not to seem phony and make the audience fell ripped off. To reveal any more of the details of that here – would reveal the end of the film. SO the audience will just have to watch it to see how it all ties up. And believe me when I say – it ALL ties up. We worked very hard to have no questions left unanswered as to the how, the why, and the who.

CTK: The slasher sub-genre has been oft maligned because of its adherence to a strict formula and an overall lack of originality. What are some of your favorites that may steer clear of some of the typical conventions and which truly stand out as both unique and different?

Matt: I think it’s important for any writer to first keep the audience in mind. Know what they’ve already seen, give them a little of what they are expecting and a little of what they aren’t expecting. For a horror film, that means a little T & A and some nice scares. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow the exact same plot line as everyone else. Personally, I like thrillers more. When done right, they can be just as scary as a horror film, sometimes even more scary. With The Devil Within, I wanted to combine the scary element of the slasher and the thoughtful 'Who done it?' of the Thriller so as to keep the audience on their toes and hopefully take them somewhere they weren't suspecting. We kind of blended the two genres so that ours is a slasher/thriller.

Two of my favorite thriller/horrors are Hard Candy and the original Wicker man. Hard Candy, amazingly well done. Frighteningly tense and brutal without showing you anything! And the original Wicker man is SO bizarre – so quiet –and yet so frightening. How many horror films are THAT scary in the middle of the day? Most have to shoot at night to make it feel that scary. Plus that amazingly sexy dance that Willow does – HOT!

CTK: I like how the 7 deadly sins come into play and the idea of greed being a driving factor for all people. This played out to great affect with the actions of our onscreen characters as the story progressed. What lead you to choosing this as a backdrop to your story?

Matt: We wanted our film to have some depth and not just be a meaningless slasher film. We didn’t want to be too heavy handed with the 7 deadly sins, but we wanted to get across the idea of responsibility and consequences for your actions. We thought that was best achieved by a brief explanation from our high school teacher – then showing the actions through each of the characters. We never go back and point out each character and what they are doing. We figured the audience was smart enough to pick up that on their own. Instead, we gave each one a 'motivation' behind their actions of greed, lust, vanity – etc. The ONLY one who exhibits none of these, is the one who represents virtue. We’ll let you guess who that is.

CTK: Any upcoming screenings of the film that you would like to alert our readers to?

Matt: We are going to be playing at the Famous Monsters Convention, which takes place July 9-11 in Indianapolis. We are still trying to work out if any of the other filmmakers/actors will be attending.

CTK: We greatly support independent filmmakers and do our best to spotlight their hard work. Any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?

Matt: We hope to get into pre-production on THE DEVIL WITHIN 2 before the end of the year!

CTK: Thank you so much for your time. Best of luck to you.

Matt: Thanks so much for your support

For more information regarding The Devil Within, check out the film's site:

Cortez the Killer

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