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An interview with JV Johnson

December 9, 2012 in Buck, Exclusives, Interview

1 ) You’re the publisher of a magazine (TAPSparaMagazine) whose writers include folks of GHOST HUNTERS fame;how did you guys meet up?

I had the opportunity to meet Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (the founders of TAPS and the stars of Ghost Hunters) at a paranormal event many years ago. I was simply interested in the topic and went to learn. I had not been at the event for more than 5 minutes when I ran into Jason and Grant getting off of the hotel elevator. I introduced myself and it was the beginning of friendships that last to this day.
2 ) What are some articles that you feel are must reads from your mag?

Every one. Seriously, we put a lot of effort into the editorial content of TAPS ParaMagazine, and we are proud of every issue, and every article. I can tell you that one of the articles that has received a lot of attention is an article I wrote about post-mortem photography. This piece, which explored the most Victorian-era practice of taking photographs of departed loved ones generated a tremendous reaction from our readers. It was a slight departure from the paranormal-heavy content that is usually found in the magazine, but intrigued people nonetheless.
3 ) Have you ever been a part of a haunting yourself?

Some say I haunt my employees. I assume what you’re asking here is whether I have experienced a haunting. The answer is “yes.” I won’t pretend to have all of the answers (or for that matter, ANY of the answers), and cannot necessarily explain some of the things I have experienced. But that, in itself, is the very nature of the paranormal – beyond normal explanation. I have seen things that logic cannot explain; that my understanding of science cannot explain; things that simply leave my fascinated and more curious than before. These are the experiences that increase my desire to know the truth.
4 ) For 2013, the name of the horror con will now be Scare-A-Con and not Scare-A-Cuse;is this because of the change of location from last year or to better reflect the over all vibe of the con? From my view the con was a mix of horror entertainment and paranormal reality.

Changing the name of the convention serves 2 purposes, and you touched on them in your question. First, it better reflects that the event is more regional in nature, and is not necessarily limited to just Syracuse (although Syracuse will always be considered “home” for the event), and it also offers a better impression of what the event is…”CON” is the accepted abbreviation for “convention.”

Regarding the “mix” of the event – our mission is to combine the best elements of horror and sci-fi pop culture and entertainment. Currently, much of that pop culture focuses on paranormal realty television and the movies it has inspired – ie Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, etc. These are “horror” movies that in essence are paranormal reality programs…..

As we grow the convention we are adding more elements as well – COSplay (costuming), comics, Anime’, steampunk, and more are all becoming parts of SCARE-A-CON.
5 ) On your website http://scare-a-cuse.net/ it states you’re well on your way of the planing for next years event. Can you tell us who you may have already gotten and who you’re going after?

At this point, I cannot offer any specifics on guests for 2013. I can tell you, however, that we are extremely excited about the folks we are talking to and can assure you and other attendees that we are not only maintaining the quality of our celebrity guests, but we are raising the bar and look forward to featuring some very high-profile people for 2013. You will not be disappointed.
6 ) How much time and energy goes into creating an event like the now renamed Scare-A-Con?

It’s immeasurable. In the 4 months before the convention, I am working on details nearly 20 hour per day, seven days per week. There are so many things that go in to the planning, and fortunately, I have a terrific team of volunteers. Without their help, it would not be possible. Speaking of that – if anyone is interested in volunteering, contact – info@scare-a-cuse.net

The event has grown so quickly, that it is starting to outpace my ability to organize alone. We are starting to establish committees to handle certain functions, and expect that our team will grow to a hundred people or so for 2013.
7 ) Who are some of your favorite horror actors/actresses?

My preference is old school horror. I am a huge fan of the classic horror movies from Universal (Dracula, The Wolman, Frankenstein, etc.). While these movies don’t necessarily carry the same “punch” as they did when they were released (people used to faint from fear when these movies were shown in theaters), there is an honesty about them, and a respect for humanity in the stories that doesn’t exist in today’s horror films.

I also love the campy horror/sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s – these movies, many of which have been lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and similar programs, are just fun to watch and reflect an age when America was redefining itself amidst the cold war.

So, with that, I am a tremendous fan of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, etc. That does not discount, or lessen my appreciation for more contemporary horror actors. Their job is harder than ever, as movie-goers, become more and more difficult to scare. There is some terrific talent in the horror-film business and we’re very fortunate to have many of them as guests for SCARE-A-CON.
8 ) If you could make a horror movie what would it be about?

Funny you ask. I am currently writing a screenplay for a zombie movie. The zombie theme has a great deal of attention with popular shows like The Walking Dead, and given that night of the Living Dead is one of my all-time favorites, I decided to pay homage. Not sure when it will be done, but if I ever get it made into a film, you can bet it will premiere at SCARE-A-CON.
9 ) What do you have to say to the nay sayers who say there are no such things as ghosts and horror is for the intellectually challenged?

Grow up.

Regarding ghosts – we are not even saying that ghosts are real. We are simply saying that there are things that happen that we cannot explain, Sometimes these occurrences seem to possess an intelligence, and that only fuels speculation that something spiritual exists. Until I actually have 100%, irrefutable proof of a “ghost” I can only say that it is one theory of many, and the question remains open. But to close your mind to the possibility is simply denying yourself the experience of learning and discovering some of humanity’s most enduring questions.

When it comes to horror movies, there has always been a stigma associated with the genre. It’s a place where many film makers start their careers, but few consider it their objective. The truth is, however, that horror is the most enduring and most loved of all film genres. It appeals to one of the basic human emotions – just like comedies appeal to humor, or romances appeal to love, horror movies satisfy a basic human desire for a thrill…in this case fear. It generates the same adrenaline high as riding a roller-coaster. Some people like roller-coasters, and some don’t…but I certainly wouldn’t call those who do intellectually challenged.
10 ) What do you think of the state of horror TV shows today?

I don’t think you can effectively present horror on the small screen…in a time-limited way. Shows like The Walking Dead are more action-thrillers than horror, although they feature some horror themes. When you’re watching in your living room, and getting a sandwich during commercials breaks, it’s hard to get the same experience as a dark movie theater with a large screen. Just not the same.
3 Random Questions

1 ) Best type of bar food?

Depends how long I’ve been at the bar. Generally anything fried does the trick….or the universal food – pizza.
2 ) Worse driver:Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes

Both are not just bad drivers, but are train-wrecks.
3 ) What did you have for breakfast?

It just so happens that breakfast is my favorite meal – providing I can have it for dinner. Today, a bacon/egg/cheese bagel did the trick.
Any social or non-social websites you would like to promote?

www.scareacon.com, www.tapsparamag.com. www.facebook.com/scareacon, www.facebook.com/tapsparamagazine

Review – Choose

December 9, 2012 in Buck, DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

Choose

Year: 2011

Genre: Crime/Drama/Horror

Runtime: 100mins

Rating: R

IMDB Score: 4.4/10 (1,000+ Votes)

Director(s): Marcus Graves

Writer(s): Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson

 

Plot/Synopsis:

A journalism student tracks a killer with the help of her detective father and a therapist.

 

Forethought(s):

I’m thinking is going to be more crime than horror but I’m hoping it’s a nice blend of both.

 

Fun Fact/Trivia:

Katheryn Winnick who stars as Fiona in this movie is a licensed bodyguard.

Stars of the movie: Katheryn Winnick,Kevin Pollak and Nicholas Tucci

The Breakdown:

The movie starts off with a teen girl talking to one of her teen girl friends when he parents walk in and tell her it’s past her bed time. This sets up that these folks are loving caring people. A few moments later and the teen girl has to pick which parent dies. That sets the tone of the movie and I like the tone but the tone isn’t strong the rest of the movie. The reason why the opening kill was good was that they made you like the parents but they don’t do that with any of other the kills. They tried to make you hate one of the people that die but they didn’t write that character well enough, hell, that can be said for all the characters. Damn near all of them just aren’t likable or hate-able. And if there was any character development,I didn’t see any so I couldn’t get invested and the same can be said for all the other people that die. When they explained to us why the people chosen were killed it had no effect because we do not have any attachment to the killer, so it was just “yeah OK I can see why the killer would be pissed” but beyond that I didn’t feel sorry for the killer or any of his vics.

This kills were nicely done in this movie. We never actually see any of the killing and that normally bugs me but since they weren’t your cookie cutter cutting,bashing and burnings, I was OK with it. Don’t go thinking that they’ll make you sick because they won’t but they will make you say “damn that looks painful” and honestly how often can we horror heads say that about new horror flicks?

The acting was stiff on everybody but Kevin Pollaks part and I find that odd. Kevin Pollak tends to be stiff in a lot of stuff he does but not because he’s that type of actor but because the story calls for it and in this flick he’s a bit more lively. He was by far and away the best actor in the movie. I was a bit surprised by Katheryn Winnicks performance. True, I only know her in the TV show Bones but she seemed a good enough actress and in this it seems like she just doesn’t have the chops to do shit. I’m glad I find her really good looking and find her voice sexy,otherwise,I very well may have turned the flick off.

The movie is 1hr40mins long but it feels like a 1hr20min movie due to the rushing of the story. I really feel this movie would have been much better if it was 2 hours long so we could have gotten more into the mind of the killer. The movie is a Seven lite with a twist of Saw and with those ingredients it should have been a hell of a movie but it moves to fast and as stated above we just don’t form any attachments to anyone.

The Verdict:

This movie was trying so hard to be Seven and the Saw series in one movie and for that it isn’t what it could’ve been. The movie even though has issues isn’t bad but it’s not good either. I can’t recommend buying it but if you want a mindless horror movie that won’t scare you but will leave you waiting more (for the wrong reasons) then watch on Netflicks of something of the like.

I give this film 3 choices out of 5.

 

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Exclusive Interview (podcast): Traycee King

December 9, 2012 in Chandler Bullock, Exclusives, Interview

Sometimes the things you come across when working for a company like Horror-fix are so cool that they warrant you dropping everything you were planning and getting more direct info immediately. This was exactly the case when I discovered the wonderfully sick and twisted internet horror sensation: Traycee King. We at Horror-fix had covered the Ghoul Girlsbooth at Comikaze not too long ago. Upon checking out their site and making my way through their models list (and checking out their official websites as one like myself does), one in particular caught my eye. This was, of course, Traycee.

 

 

 

 

 

With a resume that features the hilarious Machnima series How to Survive a Horror Film and the critically claimed internet zombie series 8:13, I knew that I had to get an interview with Traycee. Well, as they say, all good things come to those who wait. I managed to not only get my interview, but also earn a new found respect for the power of self determination and how we horror-addicts really have to stick together. You can listen in on the super chilled and insightful conversation I had with Traycee in the link below:

Horror-fix Interview – Traycee King

Exclusive Interview (podcast): Traycee King

 
 
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An interview with Devanny Pinn

December 9, 2012 in Blogs, Buck, Exclusives, Interview

1 ) You were just at the Scare-A-Cuse horror con this past weekend (October 15th and 16th) and I couldn’t get an interview with you there because your booth was ALWAYS busy,congrats on that,and I was wondering just how much does something like that take out of a person who’s doing meet and greets all day long?

Well just like at the end of the day after a con you go home tired from all the excitement- we do too! Scare-A-Cuse was especially crazy for me because it was the world premiere of a film thats very important to me, The Black Dahlia Haunting. So there were alot of things happening to get ready for that and promote in addition to meeting everyone. Although, I love what I do and I love to talk to and meet people who also enjoy the genre. It’s work but it is always a lot of fun!

2 ) You had the world premiere of your latest flick (The Black Dahlia Haunting) at the horror con;in what ways is it different than other haunting flicks?

Well I think this is the only “ghost movie” that doesn’t actually use that word. As a horror fan, the worst thing for me is to go into a movie already knowing whats going to happen. I think there are a lot of trends in the genre and especially in haunting films that pretty much allow you to guess whats going to go down. I am pretty proud to say that Dahlia is not one of those. I don’t think anyone who has seen it knew which way it was going to go. I can’t elaborate too much without giving away spoilers, but I will say that the director/writer Brandon Slagle, is known for very character driven stories and unusual twists in popular themes. I encourage everyone to give the film a chance and can promise something different than the norm!

3 ) How many creeps and weirdos did you meet at the con?

HAHA! Ok, well… yes they were there. And they usually find me, but to be honest I am a creep and a weirdo too. All are welcome at my table as long as you are respectful. Lets be honest, were there to check out paranormal stuff and horror movies- we are all a little off! I am proud to be a creeper.

4 ) You’ve done some topless stuff in the past;is it hard to get naked for film and if so what do you do to get ready for nude shoot?

Yes, I am an advocate for abstinence (part of my weirdo factor) so I am very shy and reserved about my body- which you would never know from my bikini photos. I love to challenge myself and when I knew I wanted a career in horror I knew that those were elements I would have to face. I was kind of nervous my first time, but I did a few more and was lucky to be on shoots where everyone was really cool and supportive. I don’t do as much these days because my boobs are small and I feel like the audience really deserves a great pair of D’s.

5 ) What’s a scream queen to you and do you think you’re one?

This has held different meanings for me. I got labeled one very early in my horror career and thought it was a compliment. I thought it meant that I did my job well. The last couple of years I have tried to stay away from the label as much because I think people associate it mainly as a bimbo in heels who becomes the victim in a slasher. Recently even female reviewers, models and even hardcore fans are being given the title. The films I do and roles I choose really focus on solid acting, characters that you identify with and films that I hope people take a little more seriously. I would love for the term to take a turn along with the horror genre itself and only bestow it upon iconic performers such as Jamie Lee Curtis.

6 ) What sub genre of horror is your favorite to work on?

I love torture porn, I enjoy exploitation, but easily my favorite is serial killers. I am lucky to be taking a turn into true-crime horror and I would love to do a couple serial killer bio pics. I think the scariest kind of horror is true life. What humans really do to each other is far more horrific than anything the most twisted writer can create.

7 ) Is the Casting Couch an issue in low budget indie horror world?

The casting couch is an issue EVERYWHERE. I don’t have as much of a problem with it because I am the girl who will publicly call you out on it and promote that you’re a scum bag as often as I promote my films. That got around really quickly and I have not had an issue there since. However, I, and many other girls will find themselves simply passed up for certain things. There are people who simply know that’s the only way they would get the role and producers/directors who don’t care who plays it as long as it works out in the back room for them. I even know a lot of A-listers who got to their celeb status by cashing in on the couch option. It’s there, it works for some. Me: fame is not my quest. I just want to make good films is so it’s not something I am interested in.

8 ) You’ve been on some “reality” shows and I’ve always wondered just how real they are. Can you tell the world or are you under a NDA?

It depends on the show honestly. Some shows literally get a script! Most of them try to encourage you to start drama or go this direction with a certain situation, but ultimately it’s your choice. However, you tend to stay on the show a little longer if the producers are getting what they want 🙂 So its a little bit of reality… but it is also a TV show. Entertainment is the main goal.

9 ) What kind of foods do you like?

BAD FOODS! I actually eat a lot of McDonalds, brownies, pasta, wonton soup, candy sushi, mac n cheese! Basically anything with a lot of carbs. I don’t know how I am still in shape…

10 ) Any tips for wanabe scream queens out there?

If you want to be a scream queen- just start calling yourself one. If you want to be an actress- study your craft! Networking works regardless so get involved in the scene. Attend events, watch movies, join groups or forums. Figure out what your goals are and look at others who are on similar paths! Many horror gals are really cool and will tell you ways to get started in various parts of the industry.

3 Random Questions

1 ) Magnum P.I or Simon & Simon: which one is a better detective show?

MAGNUM!

2 ) Does size really matter?

No way! (Ignore my previous answer haha) Just like with chics- there’s something for everyone. Being confident is way more important. If you’re happy with you, that’s way more attractive to a girl.

3 ) Is marriage an archaic institution?

I am a firm believer in marriage! I think it is sad how our society has let it slip… a lot of our culture in general has really been fading with this generation. Marriage has been a main goal and milestone in life for hundreds of years. Even uncivilized points in history show a lifelong monogamous relationship. I think all kinds of relationships with others is some of the most important things you can experience. I blame computers (she says as she types this interview) for intercepting the long time practice of interaction and human relations. Just like with the times, Marriage can go through some changes. For example I am a supporter of same sex marriages, but I think it is important for people to experience.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

THANK YOU. great questions, lots of fun

Follow Devnnay at the following:

you can check out info on my films at www.imdb.me/devannypinn

buy signed photos n merch at www.thebigload.com

keep tabs on facebook at www.facebook.com/devannypinnonline

and follow the tweeties @devannypinn

The Cabin in the Woods – DVD Review (2012)

December 9, 2012 in DVD/Bluray, Video/TV

To be perfectly frank, most of my favorite childhood memories somehow involved horror films. I used to collect Todd McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs action figures and a buddy of mine and I would use them to stage elaborate battles. Freddy Vs. Jason, Jason Vs. Wishmaster, WISHMASTER VS. PINHEAD would have been so sweet! But I digress…

I mention this because while watching “Cabin In The Woods”, The new horror comedy from Joss Whedon (Buffy, The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield), I felt like I was 12 years old again: placing bets on not just how these insipid but attractive teenagers would die, but how and by whom. Waiting for the obligatory tit shot thrown in simply because being 12 years old in the 90’s, that was as close as you could get to soft-core porn. Laughing your ass off when your friend next to you jumps but you don’t. These are the things true horror fans live for. And “Cabin” delivers.

I do truly think that it is impossible to avoid spoilers reviewing this film, but I will try. After the first scene in which you might question whether you are watching the right movie, we are introduced to our typical slasher movie fodder kids played by Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth (of Thor fame. thankfully with shorter hair), Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams. Each of them seem normal at first but after a while start to embody the characteristics of the virgin, the whore, the jock, the fool, and the nerd respectively. But why? Figuring that out is one of the films many humorous surprises. They are heading for GASP, a cabin in the woods. But not before stopping and receiving an ominous warning from GASP, an eerie gas station attendant. Feel like you know where this is going? If so, I pity you.

To reveal too much more of the plot would serve to spoil what is arguably the best genre film in recent years. Without saying too much, the film is full of entertaining surprises and scares with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Scenes such as a gleeful homage to the “Ju-on” films of Takashi Shimizu, Hutchison making out with a stuffed wolf, Hemsworth clothes-lining a little girl zombie and then later pulling off what I can only describe as a motorcycle jump that would have Evel Knievel pissing his pants with laughter serve to entertain those with a vast knowledge of horror movie trappings and cliches. That isn’t to say that people who are new to the genre will be put off. But, like most horror films, you will need a strong stomach to endure the relentless orgy of gore towards the end of the film which will cause multiple gore-gasms among slasher movie fans.

Whedon and Goddard know their stuff. This is a near perfect love letter to horror films of old and a wonderful satire of torture porn and zombie films. The supporting cast which features such genre veterans as Richard Jenkins (Let Me In), Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill, Case 39) and even Sigourney Weaver in a neat cameo. If you love the genre, you can’t afford to miss it. If you are new to horror, you can’t afford to miss it. It is that simple. And yes, I know what you’re thinking: “But when will they ever have a slasher movie with a Mer-man?”. Don’t worry… Whedon and Goddard have you covered.

Onto the DVD features: We get a full length commentary with Whedon and Goddard in which they discuss such feats as writing the script together over the course of only three days and having to share a few of the sets simultaneously with the filming of the “Twilight” films (Which also feature Ferland). They truly love what they do and their enthusiasm more than makes up for the somewhat one-note tone. Unfortunately all they are doing after a while is congratulating each-other to the point of subtle arrogance.

Also we are treated to four behind the scenes featurettes. “We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin In The Woods.” focuses on the writing and casting of the film with fun little comments by the cast and crew, Particularly Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. “An Army Of Nightmares: Make-up and Animatronic Effects” centers on the monster-making and flipping awesome zombie make-up designs featured in the film, mostly in the third act. “Primal Terror: Visual Effects” is (you guessed it) about the various CG tricks and digital effects although fan will appreciate the emphasis on practical effects over digital effects. “The Secret Secret Stash” is my favorite, in which Joss Whedon gives us a tour through the cabin and Fran Kranz teaches us the finer points of smoking fake pot through a coffee thermos bong. Also a recording of the Wonder-con Q&A session with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Also a Theatrical Trailer for the film, which is pretty standard for a Lionsgate release. All in all a fully stocked DVD for a truly inventive and absolutely hilarious film. Don’t rent it. Buy it.

One From the Vaults – The Stepfather (1987)

December 9, 2012 in Ash Hamilton, DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

Jerry Blake is a successful real estate man who values his job, his clients, and above all else, his family. Jerry Blake is also a homicidal maniac who drifts from town to town leaving slaughtered families in his wake. Hey, it’s cheaper than divorce and at least in this scenario one party gets to walk away happy.

On the surface The Stepfather is typical 80s pseudo-slasher fare wrapped in the guise of a suburban thriller. Deeper though, it is a study in modern serial killers.  We aren’t talking about the “he was always the quiet type” serial killer, but instead the ” Jesus Jumping Christ!, he used to walk me to my car after work serial killer”… and that is what makes the film a successful entry into the genre… successful enough to spawn multiple sequels and a remake.

Terry O Quinn, who most of the audience will recognize as the sage-like philosopher and survivalist John Locke from tv’s Lost, plays Jerry, a husband that any divorcee would count herself lucky to meet… and all Jerry wants is for his family to exist in harmony, living the American dream. Enter his new wife’s teen daughter, who’s all like ” whatever, whatever, you don’t know me… You ain’t my daddy.. I do what I want!” and suddenly Jerry’s dreams start to shatter…oh and remember that bit about him being a serial murderer.. Yeah, that too… Cuz it looks like Jerry’s old brother -in-law is also on a mission of vengeance to track down Jerry in his new personna and finally put and end to his driftin and mass murderin ways.

It’s O’Quinn who sells this film and we are reminded of his acting chops every time Blake’s veneer starts to break and we see the monster underneath. He is also the reason the film, which might have easily fallen through the cracks with similar films of the same period in the late 80s went on tto make such an impression with the video rental audience.

Despite some rather typical and paint-by-numbers direction from Joseph Rubin and a score that falls somewhere between an aerobics video and a cheap porno, The Stepfather is a worthwhile watch and at the risk of looking too deep into the film’s core a worthwhile examination of the death of the nuclear family unit and it’s flawed ideals, and maybe just a little superfluously how maniacs often masquerade as Ward Cleaver in suburban America.

Review – The Revenant

December 9, 2012 in Ash Hamilton, DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

I am a huge fan of “what if” films. What if the alien from Alien went up against a rough and tumble group of Space Marines? What if Freddy actual fought Jason? What if a zombie was cognizant and if that zombie were you, what would you do? The Revenant, starring David Anders and Chris Wylde not only answers that question but does so in such a gleeful fashion that you might wonder why we have had to sit through so many uninventive zombie movies when offerings such as this are on the table. I’m not going to say that it reinvents the zombie film but it manages to be so much fun that you could care less what it reinvents as long as it keeps doing what it does and it pretty much manages to do that for the bulk of its running time.

“…it manages to be so much fun that you could care less what it reinvents as long as it keeps doing what it does”

Its the middle of the night in war ravaged Iraq and Bart and the rest of his platoon are driving their humvee to an undisclosed location when Bart hits, what he believes to be a child, standing in the middle of the road. Much to the displeasure of his men Bart leaves the safety of the vehicle to check on the child only to get gunned down, shot in the head, and subsequently shipped back to the states for burial, leaving his man-child best friend and pining girlriend mourning his untimely death.

We all have friends like Bart’s best, Joey. Friends that while we were building our careers or fostering relationships or creating families were still spending their late nights playing Xbox, eating cold pizza and borrowing their rent money from their parents. Friends that allowed us to forget our stresses at work, the complications of our marriage or the doldrums of PTA meetings and slip back into those years where responsibilities took a back seat to having fun and plain old fucking off. These friends, while they may encourage us to call in sick to work or lie to our spouses about where we went drinking sometimes represent the last bastion of hope that our youth is still accessible, just within reach for us to pick up and try on for size when the pressures of the adult world become too much. sometimes, however, they are the proverbial bag of bricks that tumble across the ocean floor, pulling us down and slowing our progress now matter how hard we try to swim against their weight. Bart, for all of his good intentions and ambitions, just couldn’t pull free of the gravity of Joey’s lethargy, even in death, and that, is exactly where he winds up after clawing his way to thhe top of the fresh dirt covering his coffin.

David Anders in The RevenantEnter the smart divergence where The Revenant decides to play it loose and instead of Joey grappling with the horror of finding out that his dead best friend is back from the grave with a taste for fresh blood, he revels in it, seeing his new friend’s apparent invulnerabilities as an opportunity to elevate his own status. Wylde tears the role open as the two do what any self respecting team of zombie and human would do: they take arms and become fly-by-night vigilantes.. Robbing the dreggs of society…of their blood. It is this portion of the film that will immediately win most detractors over as the duo hop from convenience store to urban locale, easily putting themselves in the middle of heist, robbery and drug deal, soon enjoying the monetary fringe benfits as they lift more than plasma from their victims. This horror send up of Robin Hood works so well that, in fact, the movie could have relied on this one device alone to propel it to cult status.

Early on however we get the inkling that nothing good lasts forever. Bart, although dead, is still trying to carry on as thou death is just a temporary setback. When not robbing petty crooks of the red stuff, Bart is, albeit reluctantly at first, still seeing his girlfriend and as his situation brings himself closer to the limits of just what his supernatural affliction is capable of, that relationship strains the bond between he and Joey.

I’m not going to highlight The Revenant as the viewer really needs to see the film with a fresh pair of eyes that allows them to experience the surprises firsthand. Luckily, that is the word that most will walk way with after seeing the film: SURPRISES. The Revenant manages to pull them off with a competence rarely seen and at no point does the film seem to struggle with its ambitions. If the film will have any fault with its audience, it will be its gradual change of tone in its third act. Remember when I hinted at the subtext that “the party can’t go on forever”? Well when the lights go up and it’s last call on The Revenant the morose turn is noticeable and might throw people a little off the rails of the preceding roller coaster of comedy and action. this is not to say that the third act is ungrounded, unnecessary, or even unfitting of the film. It’s logical and sadly a little tragic, but it is framed in such an explosion of violence and weirdness that the climax takes this horror comedy and gives it a very real and disturbing resonance.In other words, even if you’ve come for the comedy, stay for the horror. The Revenant has already cemented it’s place in my top 5 of 2012 and I expect that upon further viewings it will secure a place among my all time favorites. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Review – The Loved Ones

December 9, 2012 in Chandler Bullock, DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

Recently I had the pleasure to check out this little beauty from 2009. I’ve sadly been lagging behind in catching most of the brutal and masterfully crafted horror flicks that have graced the silver screen in the last few years. This is one of the largest disadvantages of no longer living in the US. I’m no longer in touch (or range for that matter) with the happening film festivals that seem to hit regularly state-side, and the annual festival we have here in the Netherlands always seem to come up at a time when money is short but films are in bloom. Thus, I find myself reviewing films from 2009 during late 2012. Shame on me, right? Well they say longing makes the heart grow fonder, and this is exactly the situation I found myself in with The Loved Ones.

Where to begin with The Loved Ones? Well, let’s begin with the beginning, I guess. Here’s a quick plot synopsis to keep you up to speed on what you can expect: Brent Mitchell (Xavier Samuel) is a deeply troubled teenager after having to cope with being responsible for his father’s death in a car accident. With the help of his goofy friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) and stunning girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine), Brent is able to live his life in relative happiness. He’s young, attractive, and darkly mysterious. In a sense, he’s everything Lola (Robin McLeavy) wants. And what Lola wants…Lola gets. Things heat up as Lola asks Brent to the prom, but he unfortunately has to gently let her down by reminding her of his girlfriend. The rest of the film splits into a vile tale of torture as Lola does everything in her power to get her dance with Brent, and an endearing teenage dramady as Jamie lands a date with the hot goth chick at school, Mia (Jessica McNamee).

Sounds like fun, right? Well it is! It’s a heaping of fun, but with just enough unbearable cruelty to keep you glued to your seat. Perhaps what makes The Loved Ones so effective is the film’s emotional drive. This isn’t just another torture porn flick. This one has heart. From Brent’s inner and outer torture, to Lola’s initial dejection, there is at least one moment where every character in the film comes across as sympathetic and human. However, this is very short lived for some characters, which establishes their position in the film’s narrative really well. You really root for Brent to get the hell out of his unfortunate situation, and for Jamie to get to third base with Mia at the prom. This effect can be attributed to great acting across the board. Samuel’s depiction of Brent’s deep-seeded troubles is well versed and just emo enough to empathize with the character rather than chastise him. Similarly, you really feel Holly’s desperation to find her boyfriend due to Thaine’s riveting and realistic performance. She’s both sweet and smart. What isn’t there to love about that in a girl? But, as seems to be a trend as of late, the real powerhouse performance here comes from McLeavy’s portrayal of the sugary sweet and vile Lola. This is Lola’s show, and she eats up the screen much like she eats up her chicken…without mercy. As I said before, there are moments where you truly feel sympathy for young Lola. These moments, though, are only very early into the picture. After Lola gets Brent into her grasp there isn’t an iota of empathy left for her. By the film’s amazing finale, you’ll only want one thing: to see Lola’s head on a pike. This is a testament to McLeavy’s wide ranging performance. She can make you feel for her in one second and feel nothing but disgust in the next. I’d say McLeavy is definitely a young actress to keep an eye on. If she keeps it up like this, we may have a newly unexpected cinematic flower blossoming from Down Under. Now let’s just hope she keeps her sights on films in the horror genre (we could use some legit scream queens).

Now that I’ve got the story and performances out of the way, let’s dive into how the film looks. The short answer is: it looks good. I mean, it looks REALLY good. The Loved Ones has some of the best clarity I’ve seen in a while. Where there be shadows, there truly be creeping and sprawling blacks. Where there be color, there truly be a vibrant color pallet for the eye to feast upon. Every detail is left for you to inspect and cringe from. Not only does the camera quality impress, so does the choice in cinematography and special effects. There are some truly unsettling moments in this film which owe their impact strictly to the great special effects. When the blood comes gushing out, it pours. When flesh is sliced, it’s torn. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t anything like Saw films of yore. This, I dare say, is even more graphic in some ways, and yet more subtle in others. Just know that the gore doesn’t disappoint, but neither does it distract. It does exactly what it was intended to do, it elicits a direct response from the audience. Whether the intended response is repulsion, empathy, or plain out pain, you feel it. Likewise, the camera angles and shots are superb. Director/writer, Sean Byrne has done a marvelous job bringing his screenplay to life. All of the characters really feel real and complex, as does the world in which the film is set. There are beautiful shots of Australia’s open landscape coupled with claustrophobic scenes in complete darkness. You also feel Brent’s torture (both physical and mental) through the crafty camerawork. For being Byrne’s first feature film, The Loved Ones sets a pretty high bar to be met later in his career. Let’s hope that he, like Ti West, is up to the challenge and helps shape our beloved genre further.

Now we find ourselves at an important, but often overlooked aspect of filmmaking…sound. I’m a pretty big sound enthusiast where film is concerned. Sure, I don’t really know the difference between one technical tweak than the other, but I know what I like to hear in a film. The Loved Ones is one of those films that has exactly the type of sound I want pumping out of my surround sound system. Just as deep blacks are preferred in image clarity, so too is a deep bass in a film’s soundscape (in my opinion). Part of the atmosphere of a film is it’s sweeping sound design, and with horror I like to hear a nice rumble when the bass kicks in. Well, luckily for me, this film does just that. The music played by Brent when feeling particularly rebellious screeches at you in a swirl of teenage angst, while the film’s score plays with your senses and gets you on edge. One particular moment, when Brent finds himself in a very unexpected location, possesses such great rumbling bass that it makes you wish the scene would end…and soon. This isn’t to say that it’s overwhelming or a bad seen. On the contrary, the sound is so well placed and so menacing that it enhances an already foreboding scene. So make no mistake, The Loved Ones packs a punch in literally all departments.

So, final thoughts? Overall opinion? The Loved Ones> is great! I know that the whole torture angle has been played out to death (pun intended) in the horror genre, but this one’s different than your standard affair. Yes there’s torture, and yes there’s an excessive amount of cringe-worthy moments, but the film maintains a sense of heart that keeps it going like an energizer battery. Also, the film’s pace is pretty perfect. This is far from a slow burn, but also nowhere near fast paced. It’s like a good bath: just right. Now, if you’re really not into the whole torture thing, this may not be the ideal film for you. Just know that there is actually a method to this madness, and by the end of the film you’ll be treated with a very satisfying result. And for you lovers of twists and turns, there are still some of those slipped into this otherwise straightforward tale. Yet, the twists are so subtle that they aren’t overplayed or irritating for those who like their horror as is. In any case The Loved Ones feels like a true win-win for horror fans of all types…well except the types who only like bad films because of how “ironic” it is. Sorry, there is nothing here for you folks to enjoy, because this a genuinely good film. My only complaint is that I hadn’t seen it sooner. And for you naysayers who may disagree with me, in the disturbing words of Lola herself, “We can’t hear you!”

New Night Whisper Lane Images for the ios…

December 9, 2012 in Exclusives, Game News, Games

Night Whisper Lane will quickly be here to wreak horror havok on your ios device, but in the meantime we have some images to tide you over till its official release. The game, from EPX Games, is set to launch this fall. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Review – Hellraiser #17

December 9, 2012 in Ash Hamilton, Comics, Comics Reviews, Comics/Books

Issue 17 of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser sees the hit series from Boom Studios reaching a fever pitch as the story arc builds to an epic crescendo. Hell has come to earth as Pinhead/Elliot Spencer’s plan comes to full fruition after his violent betrayl of The Harrowers. The world watches with horror as legions of the damned poor out of hell’s portal to wreak their unholy perversions upon the innocent.

 

This most recent chapter is really an example of the new broad scope of the book. Not only are we treated to Kirsty and other familiar faces, but the book has reached beyond the original vision of the films as the Harrowers and even Harry D’Amour work to thwart Pinhead’s ambitions of turning earth into a second home for the souls of the demented and lecherous that follow him. As Kirsty confronts her own demons and those of Spencer’s past In hopes of finding the secret to defeat him, the world’s governments prepare for the worst, enacting a last ditch effort that might be as disastrous as the ghastly consequences of Spencer’s evil war on the flesh.

 

As always, the writing is solid here and although the metaphysics of Kirsty and Spencer’s personal journeys might be a little too cerebral for new readers, fans of the book will nonetheless be turning the pages right up until the issue’s cliffhanger ending. My only complaint lies in some uneven artwork as the book is a little inconsistent in quality from cover to cover. That doesn ‘t stop the brisk pace though and by the end I was clamoring for the next installment. Highly Recommended.

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