Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which Sony Screen Gems has slated for release on January 27, 2017, is set to begin principal photography.
With shooting set to commence this fall in South Africa, Ali Larter was confirmed to return as Claire Redfield in the new Resident Evil, while Milla Jovovich has always been attached as Alice.
Jovovich shares yet another shot of getting a makeup test done leading up to filming.
The cast is also said to include Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield, Bingbing Li as Ada Wong, Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, and Johann Urb as Leon Scott Kennedy. This has yet to be confirmed.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter picks up after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution, as the Project Alice (Milla Jovovich) is forced to race against time before the villainous Red Queen attempts to destroy the final remnants of humanity.
Retribution left off at our Nation’s capitol, with the zombie army attacking the White House.
I could tell more than a few stories about my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Some good, some not-so-good, some laughably bad. Regardless, unless you like working in a paper mill, there’s a reason why people leave the remote Northern Ontario city. Case example: Kevin Durand. Durand’s career has spanned both television and film, notably starring as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Barry Burton in Resident Evil: Retribution. Now he’s taken on the leading role in Jack Heller’s Dark Was The Night. And while Durand proves that he can go as main actor, the film doesn’t quite hit the mark itself.
In the northern town of Maiden Woods, Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand) and Deputy Donny Saunders (Lukas Haas) carry on their duties, despite carrying their own personal baggage in the form of personal tragedies, with each man blaming himself. After some strange occurrences involving disappearing wildlife and pets, strange noises and large hoofprints around town, things take a turn when three hunters are attacked by something in the woods, and only one of them survives. As things start to escalate, Shields and Saunders must find a way to stop whatever it is from ransacking the town.
Firstly, I have to give it to the performances for our leads and their great chemistry together. As previously mentioned, Durand proves he can be a leading man with presence in his role as Shields. Not only that, but he also effectively pulls off the trope of the “protagonist with a guilty past” without being too in-your-face with it. Shields comes across as a man who is coiled and ready to explode in anger or sobs because of it. Likewise, Lukas Haas also does the “past guilt” trip well, while also showing the emotion associated with that guilt, and effectively communicating that to the audience. The supporting cast isn’t half bad, either. Nick Damici is quite good as the sagely bartender, and Bianca Kajlich hits all the right notes as Paul Shields’ estranged wife, Susan.
Another big plus for Dark Was The Night is its cinematography. I’m generally a sucker for these “remote area in winter” types of films, since it essentially hands the cinematographers their objective, and it’s up to them to capitalize on it. And luckily, cinematographer Ryan Samul succeeds in presenting the film as cold and grim, which definitely helps up the tension. There are also some pretty slick shots early on, as well as mixing things up through a couple of different styles. As is almost always with these types of creature features, the decision to go with the less-is-more approach in showing the creature is a smart idea in upping that tension, as well as potentially hiding any weaknesses in the creature effects.
The problem with Dark Was The Night is that you need to keep the audience’s attention once you have it. For myself, things started to lose steam as the movie progressed. The film progressed at a glacier’s pace, without pushing new information and details for the viewers to chew on. Instead, we get the same brooding and runaround with Shields and Saunders, pulling the emotion card again and again without anything new added to the mix. And while there is action, it’s either tepid in its approach (a missing animal here, a bloody limb behind a house there) with townsfolk talking and doing little in response, or it’s the film’s climax, which could’ve been so much more had the film not stopped to cut to a group of characters hidden in the church basement. The final insult is the ending’s cop-out for commercial purposes. Yes, it’s been done to death in countless other horror films, but it largely cheapens those films that have pulled those stunts, just as it cheapens this film. It’s even more aggravating that the case proudly boasts how this film “could be the next horror franchise”. How about worrying about telling an effective and complete story instead of immediately commercializing your work?
Had it done a complete story and capitalized on the talent and potential in front of it, Dark Was The Night could have been a great creature feature. The genre has been lacking truly great films lately in that vein, and this one could’ve been an excellent choice. However, after the initial setup, the film slogs half-frozen through its runtime, reiterating the same ideas and themes, without doing anything to speed things up or giving the viewer something to cling to other than what’s already been presented. Durand and Haas are solid, and while I enjoy the idea of a protagonists with ghosts in their closet, you need a solid story to build around that before it wears out. After that, you’re left in the dark.
Presented in 2.40:1 AVC-encoded 1080p, Dark Was The Night is appropriately dark in places. Perhaps too dark. Thanks to the filters used in post (particularly the blues), there are places where details are swallowed by darker areas, but this is more of a stylistic choice. Still, the filters can be a bit annoying. Grain is kept to a minimum, save for certain interior shots, but it’s unobtrusive and still lets details such as skin shine through. Otherwise, the colours are nice, saturated and consistent, with no edge enhancement or compression.
Sound-wise, the film comes equipped with a Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Sound is balanced, with the score not overpowering the dialogue or other effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear, with no distortion. Ambient effects are put to good use, and the bass punches in when it needs to. Like the video, it’s acceptable overall, given the budget.
First up is a behind-the-scenes featurette entitled A Trip To Maiden Woods. It’s your basic collection of on-set interviews mixed with on-the-set clips featurette, although there are some interesting tidbits here. Participants include director Jack Heller, writer Tyler Hisel, producer Dallas Sonnier and actors Lukas Haas, Sabina Gadecki, Kevin Durand and others. Topics such as the emotional element and characters are touched upon, the look of the film, the characters, as well as the design of the creature and VFX work.
The last extra is a Q & A with the film’s cast. Shot at the 2014 Screamfest, the panel features the principal cast and Heller talking about the film. Unfortunately, the audio isn’t the greatest (whomever was talking during the recording needed to shut up), and many of the answers are abruptly cut off (thanks, editing). The speakers aren’t identified, nor are the questions, specifically. Regardless, topics about shooting in the cold, discussion of characters, the production process and other bits are touched upon.
Frustratingly, Image neglects to put the film’s trailer on the disc, which is an annoying trend that studios really need to stop doing. It’s not like the disc isn’t to the point of bursting, guys.
The packaging features a slipcover replicating the front case, with a nice texture for the tree roots, as well as an embossed title.
Anchor Bay Films has just now released The Curse of Downer’s Grove, based on Michael Hornburg’s novel of the same name, on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray.
Directed by Direck Martini, and taking place near my hometown in Illinois, the film is based on a true story, and stars Lucas Till, Bella Heathcote, Penelope Mitchell, Kevin Zegers, and Tom Arnold.
“The town of Downers Grove looks like your average suburban neighborhood — but Downers Grove has a disturbing secret…. For the past eight years, one senior from every high school graduating class has met a bizarre death right before graduation day. And this year, Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) has a terrible feeling that she is going to be the one to die. Can Chrissie survive the curse of Downers Grove or will she, like those seniors before her, fall prey to the town’s deadly secret?“
To celebrate the release, we caught up with Michael Hornburg who reveals to us his “5 favorite terrifying curses in film”…
THINNER: Based on the Stephen King Novel, the curse in this film is truly terrifying. As much as I love the idea of being able to eat anything and not gain weight. The curse of becoming thinner and thinner until vanishing into thin air is not exactly appealing. What a painful way to die…
THE GRUDGE: This one is just a classic and probably the scariest movie on my list. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s portrayal was fantastic. This is a curse that just won’t die. I was disturbed by the fact that they even tried to burn down the house and it still survived.
THE WITCHES CURSE: A curse that forces women to commit suicide and the only way to reverse the curse is to search for a witch in hell. Both the curse and the search to revoke the curse are unnerving.
IT FOLLOWS: They literally try everything and still cannot get rid of “It.” One of the best horror films this year. Being stalked is scary enough without adding in the fact that only you can see the entity.
DRAG ME TO HELL: Probably my favorite on the list, just because of Sam Raimi. This movie is frightening and hilarious at the same time. The pace is quick and there is so much tension throughout the film. You can’t help feel bad though when she is literally dragged into hell all over a promotion.
You don’t want to know what lurks in the corners of the Hotel Cortez.
Last week we were treated to the first stills and details from “American Horror Story: Hotel”, the fifth season of the popular anthology series that will star Lady Gaga.
Set to premiere on FX October 7th, we now have a trio of new promo that will keep you from checking into the Cortez.
Here’s the plot that came courtesy of EW:
“Built in 1930 by the rich and charming but deeply psychotic James March (Evan Peters), the beautiful art-deco hotel is, in actuality, a labyrinthine structure built to hide March’s murderous activities (think dead ends, secret rooms, endless shafts). This echoes America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, which we detail here.
“In regards to Gaga, the show shifts to present day, where the Cortez is acquired by Gaga’s Countess, described by the site as “a glamorous socialite who attends art openings and fashion shows and maintains her looks not from a steady diet of kale but from imbibing human blood.”
“The Countess is also insatiable when it comes to love and sex, which sets up a macabre love triangle between her, the similarly blood-hungry Donovan (Matt Bomer) and the newly turned male model Tristan (Finn Wittrock).
“Also gravitating around the world of the Cortez are Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett), an actress/former lover of The Countess’ seeking revenge; Iris (Kathy Bates), Donovan’s mother and the front desk clerk; Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), a cross-dresser nicknamed by The Countess; Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), a junkie and friend of The Countess; Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), a cop investigating a murderer named the Ten Commandments Killer; and The Addiction Demon, a creature in the vein of Rubberman or Bloodyface, who has no eyes or mouth but does wield a nasty, conical drillbit dildo.”
Some doors are better left unopened…
In addition to several clips released last week, we now have the opening scene from Tremors 5: Bloodlines, which reintroduces us to the Graboids through Burt Gummer (Michael Gross).
A deadly threat resurfaces halfway around the world when giant, man-eating worms attack a South African wildlife park in the sci-fi comedy, Tremors 5: Bloodlines, available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on October 6, 2015 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Michael Gross (“Family Ties,” “Suits,”) returns as Graboid hunter extraordinaire Burt Gummer, with Jamie Kennedy (“The Cleveland Show,” Scream franchise) as his new tech-savvy second-in-command, in this all-new adventure. The latest chapter of the franchise known for its campy humor and voracious monsters features thrilling new special effects, 25 minutes of bonus features; extended scenes and outtakes, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, “The stakes are raised for survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) in his most dangerous monster hunt yet. When Gummer’s hired to capture a deadly Assblaster terrorizing South Africa, he and his new sidekick, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), find themselves in a battle to the death against the fiercely aggressive Assblasters and Graboids. Discovering that the monsters have evolved into even more lethal creatures, their mission takes on a whole new level of unseen terror — far more than they bargained for.”
Drafthouse Films released the theatrical poster for Julia Hart’s home invasion Western feature, The Keeping Room, after its acclaimed world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Daniel Barber (Harry Brown), “The Keeping Room focuses on the violent resilience and dramatic camaraderie of three Southern women as their home is besieged during the purges at the close of the American Civil War. Forced to defend their land and fight for their lives, the women take up arms against their male oppressors, shattering gender and genre conventions in the process.”
A “forceful turn” from Brit Marling (Arbitrage, I Origins) heads a trio of female leads that includes Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game) and newcomer Muna Otaru. Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man On A Ledge) plays a villainous renegade soldier intent on killing the women and razing their home.
The Keeping Room will open in an expansive theatrical release across North America on September 25th, 2015 and will be released on a variety of VOD platforms and digital, DVD, and Blu-ray formats after its theatrical run.
Back in July, the studio behind the Doorways series of indie horror games teased a partnership with independent film director Andrés Borghi that would arrive when Doorways: Holy Mountains of Flesh hit Steam Early Access a few weeks ago. That collaboration did indeed take the form of a live-action short film — emphasis on “short” — the first two minutes of which you can find below.
I usually prefer my short films last longer than it takes to make the popcorn to go with them, but I’d say this one is certainly interesting enough to leave me interested in seeing where it goes.
Doorways: Holy Mountains of Flesh is available now on Steam for $9.99.
Lionsgate Premiere released the food pyramid for the undead in Cooties, which Patrick Cooper called a “relentless riot.” We also reviewed the film out of last year’s Sundance Film Festival before the ending was reshot.
From the minds of Leigh Whannell (co-creator of Saw and Insidious) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of “Glee”), Cooties is a horror comedy with unexpected laughs and unapologetic thrills. When a cafeteria food virus turns elementary school children into little killer savages, a group of misfit teachers must band together to escape the playground carnage.
The film stars Elijah Wood (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings), Rainn Wilson (The Office), and Alison Pill (The Newsroom) as teachers who fight to survive the mayhem while hilariously bickering in an uncomfortable love triangle on the worst Monday of their lives.
The Sundance hit Cooties will be one of the debut releases of the newly-launched Lionsgate Premiere label, which will release the film on September 18th in select theaters and on demand.
Mill Creek has announced their DVD and Blu-ray releases for September. Two of the releases are of the multi-movie collection variety. I haven’t checked every movie in the collections, but they look to be retreads of a lot of the movies you typically see in these collections. Movies like The Wasp Woman that find their way on to every release. So if you’re someone who already owns a few of these different collections, these likely won’t be anything new for you. If you don’t own any however, then these could be a good pickup. You can usually find them for about $10 and they’re certainly worth that.
Aside from the collections, Mill Creek is releasing two titles in September that I’m pretty excited about. One is the 60th Anniversary release of The Creature with the Atom Brain. This one was released about 8 years ago by Sony on their Icons of Horror Collection – Sam Katzman release, but that’s a fairly hard set to find. It’s not super rare or anything, but you usually have to pay about $20 for it. This cheaper release from Mill Creek is very much welcome. The other release I’m super stoked about is Spaced Invaders on Blu-ray! I haven’t seen this in ages, but I loved it as a kid. I can’t wait to re-visit it.
Release specifics below…
Spaced Invaders (DVD & Blu-ray)
(1990) – Color – 1 Hour 41 Minutes – Rated PG
Starring Douglas Barr, Royal Dano, Ariana Richards, J.J. Anderson, Gregg Berger, Wayne Alexander
It’s a close encounter of the hilarious kind when five of the universe’s coolest aliens crash-land on planet Earth! Piloted by an ultra- hip Martian, the cosmic crew ends up in a sleepy Midwestern town. Unfortunately, its Halloween night and the citizens mistake these spaced invaders for harmless trick-or-treaters. Instead of the global invasion they planned on, these misguided Martians bungle their way into a series of madcap misadventures! Get set for an outrageous blast of intergalactic fun and outlandish special effects in this wacked-out comedy-adventure!
Creature With the Atom Brain (60th Anniversary Series DVD)
(1955) – B&W – 1 Hour 10 Minutes – No Rating
Starring Richard Denning, Angela Stevens and S. John Launer
From the pen of the legendary Curt Siodmak (The Wolf Man, Donovan’s Brain) and director Edward L. Cahn (It! The Terror From Beyond Space) comes this smash-bang thriller starring Richard Denning (Creature From The Black Lagoon) as a police doctor hot on the trail of a mob boss who’s hired an ex-Nazi scientist to re-animate his dead thugs to do more dirty work!
The U.S. Government sends a scientist to investigate some mysterious deaths along a stretch of beach on the Pacific Coast. What brings the scientist into the investigation is the radiation burns found on the victims. Arriving at the scene of the deaths, the scientist visits the nearby Pacific College of Oceanography where he meets Professor King and his daughter Lois. While falling for the professor’s daughter, our scientist begins to suspect that Professor King’s secret research is somehow connected to the radiation and the deaths.
The Attack of the Giant Leeches
Starring Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers, Jan Shepard
(1959) B&W 63 Minutes Not Rated
Mysterious disappearances and the strange circumstances surrounding them grip the swamp patrolled by Game Warden Steve Benton (Ken Clark). While searching the backcountry for illegal poachers, Benton and his girlfriend Nan Greyson (Jan Shepard) come across a dying moonshiner with mysterious wounds and major blood loss. Adding to this evidence is the eyewitness report from a man stating his wife and her lover were dragged into the swamp by some mysterious creatures. When more hunters turn up missing, Benton decides it’s time to investigate.
The Giant Gila Monster
Starring Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, Lisa Simone
(1959) B&W 75 Minutes Not Rated
A rural Texas town finds itself beset by a series of mysterious disappearances and deaths with no seemingly rational explanation. The local sheriff is faced with an angry community leader demanding an end to the matter or his resignation. Through the combined efforts of the sheriff and a quick-witted mechanic the source of the problem is discovered, a fifty-foot long Gila monster who has run out of food and is now preying upon the local populace.
The Killer Shrews
Starring James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis
(1959) B&W 69 Minutes Not Rated
A scientist on an island is working on a project to help with the world population problem and accidentally creates giant shrews, which escape his lab and devours every animal on the island. With nothing else to eat, the giant shrews set their sights on the compound of scientists and their guests. Led by Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best), the group must make a break for his ship to escape from the ravenous shrews.
Teenagers from Outer Space
Starring David Love, Dawn Bender, Bryan Grant
(1959) B&W 86 Minutes Not Rated
Aliens are coming to Earth to raise the “Gargon” herd, an unstoppable torrent of giant air-breathing lobsters. When one of the aliens realizes that there is intelligent life on Earth, he heroically sets out to warn the population. He must make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the incoming horde of deadly creatures.
The Wasp Woman
Starring Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris
(1960) B&W 73 Minutes Not Rated
The aging owner of a cosmetics company has been working with a questionable scientist on a beauty formula based upon queen bee secretions. Insisting that she be the first to try the formula, she is transformed into a remarkably younger and more vibrant looking woman. Unfortunately, the formula has side effects that cause her to eventually transform into a human wasp than preys upon its victims at night.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Starring Jason Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniels
(1962) B&W 83 Minutes Not Rated
A surgeon working on experimental transplant procedures seems to be on the verge of a major breakthrough with his technique, even though his surgeon father disapproves of his manner of research. While out driving with his fiancée, the doctor crashes his car and is horrified to discover his bride-to-be is decapitated. Rushing his fiancée’s head to his lab, he is able to revive her where she is now living as a bodiless entity kept alive by tubes and an experimental serum. Hoping to restore his fiancée, the surgeon begins to frequent bars and gentlemen’s clubs looking for a candidate for transplanting his fiancée’s head onto another body, all the while the fiancée grows to hate her surgeon boyfriend for refusing to let her die.
Starring Arch Hall Jr., Richard Kiel, Marilyn Manning
(1962) Color 91 Minutes Not Rated
A teenage girl driving through the desert is confronted by a huge Neanderthal-like man and she returns to the city to share her story with her explorer father and her boyfriend. When her father doesn’t return from searching for the creature, the girl and her boyfriend head out to the desert to find him and the girl is taken hostage along with her father. It’s up to the efforts of the boyfriend to rescue the father and daughter before the caveman can make the girl his mate.
Starring John Agar, Carol Gilley, Ralph Baker Jr.
(1968) Color 76 Minutes Not Rated
A Texas community is beset with a rash of mysterious killings involving some of the students from the local college. The sheriff investigating the death discovers the startling identity of the killer responsible for the murders. A NASA experiment involving cosmic rays has mutated an ape and turned it into an unstoppable killing machine with a thirst for blood.
Invasion of the Bee Girls
Starring William Smith, Anitra Ford, Victoria Vetri
(1973) Color 87 Minutes Rated R
Suspicious deaths in a California community come to the attention of the U.S. Government when one of their top scientists is found dead. A State Department agent is sent to investigate and learns from the coroner that the all-male victims died from “sexual exhaustion”. Working on a lead about the case, the agent teams up with a female government research scientist and they discover a female insect expert is using a process to give women bee-like qualities and sending them out to kill men with sex.
He was the epitome of class and style. No matter how grisly the circumstances, he’d rise above with talent, poise and even charm. Enjoy 6 of his finest chillers from his peak years in the 1930s and 1940s, all demonstrating his amazing range. It’s a collection all fervent classic horror fans have been eagerly waiting for!
The Black Room
(1935) – B&W – 70 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen, Thurston Hall
The Man They Could Not Hang
(1939) – B&W – 64 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox, Roger Pryor
The Man With Nine Lives
(1940) – B&W – 74 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers, Stanley Brown
Before I Hang
(1940) – B&W – 62 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Bennett, Edward Van Sloan
The Devil Commands
(1941) – B&W – 65 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff, Anne Revere
The Boogie Man Will Get You
(1942) – B&W – 66 Minutes – Not Rated
Starring Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Max Rosenbloom, Larry Parks
Each week here at Bloody Disgusting we like to highlight some of the new Blu-ray releases hitting shelves across the world. Please note that this isn’t every release for the week, just a few of the ones that jumped out at us.
Lots of good stuff this week. Most folks will probably be heading out to pick up Mad Max and rightfully so, but don’t stop there because there’s plenty more to be had! Wild Side Video out of France has a wonderful trio of films hitting Blu-ray this week. I highly recommend all three!U.S. Releases
Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros.)
A apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and most everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.
Lost After Dark (Starz/Anchor Bar)
In this clever homage to 80’s slasher films, a group of teenagers looking to party get stranded when their ride breaks down, and end up being stalked by a cannibalistic killer.
Backcountry (Scream Factory)
This tense thriller follows a young couple who go camping in the Canadian wilderness. Alex (Jeff Roop, Jekyll + Hyde) is a seasoned camper, but Jenn (Missy Peregrym, Rookie Blue) is not. When they realize that they have entered bear territory, the terror gets turned up to a whole new level. Also starring Eric Balfour (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Skyline, Haven) and Nicholas Campbell (The Brood, The Dead Zone), and written and directed by Adam MacDonald, Backcountry is a heart-stopping, full-tilt run through deadly territory.
The Harvest (Scream Factory)
In his first film in nearly 15 years, the director of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer harks back to the depravity that made his 1986 debut a horror milestone. Equally terrifying, The Harvest is”a refreshingly old-school nerve-jangler with no need for paranormal monsters or flashy special effects”, (The Hollywood Reporter). Maryann (an impressive Natasha Calis, The Possession) moves in with her grandparents after she’s orphaned. Desperately lonely, the preteen sets out to befriend a deathly ill, bed-ridden boy (Charlie Tahan, Gotham), despite the outright disapproval of his mother (Samantha Morton, Minority Report, Sweet and Lowdown). Maryann’s persistence pays off, however, and during a series of secret visits she gradually uncovers some seriously sinister goings-on in the house…
Good Kill (Paramount Pictures)
A Las Vegas-based fighter pilot turned drone pilot fights the Taliban by remote control for 12 hours a day, then goes home to the suburbs and feuds with his wife and kids for the other 12. But the pilot is starting to question the mission. Is he creating more terrorists than he’s killing? Is he fighting a war without end.
Army of Frankensteins (Scream Factory)
After a failed attempt to propose to his girlfriend, Alan Jones is beaten within an inch of his life by a street gang. Transported to the mysterious lab of Dr. Tanner Finski and his kid genius assistant Igor, Alan becomes the subject in a series of horrible experiments as part of the doctor’s plan to reanimate the legendary Frankenstein monster. But all bets are off when these experiments lead to a hole being ripped in space and time, pulling an army’s worth of the infamous creatures from hundreds of parallel universes and sending them all back to the 19th century – directly into the heart of a bloody battle between the North and South!
Wolf Warrior (Well Go USA)
An Elite Squad of Mercenaries Just Met Their Deadliest Target. Sergeant Leng Feng (Wu Jing), top marksman of the Chinese Special Forces, is jailed under court martial for disobeying orders. But he’s just the kind of fighter the Wolf Warriors are looking for. Silent. Stealthy. Deadly. The Wolves bring Feng into their pack, honing his skills to a knife’s edge. But another team has Feng on their radar: a group of corrupt blades-for-hire, seeking revenge for the drug lord’s murder.
The Curse of Downers Grove (Starz/Anchor Bay)
The town of Downers Grove looks like your average suburban neighborhood – but Downers Grove has a disturbing secret…. For the past eight years, one senior from every high school graduating class has met a bizarre death right before graduation day. And this year Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) has a terrible feeling that she is going to be the one to die. Can Chrissie survive the curse of Downers Grove or will she, like those seniors before her, fall prey to the town’s deadly secret?
The Blood Lands (Magnet)
It’s the first night for Londoners Ed and Sarah in their new home – an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish border. Come sunset they fall in love all over again on a wander in the woods. But as darkness falls, Sarah suspects they’re not alone. Ed goes to investigate, and it suddenly dawns on them that they do not belong here. And they certainly aren’t welcome either….
Dark Was the Night (Image Entertainment)
In remote, quiet Maiden Woods, something stirs in the dark forest surrounding the isolated community. After a logging company clears an area 90 miles above the town, Sheriff Paul Shields and his deputy confront a threat that may be older than humanity itself.
The Curse of the Werewolf (Final Cut Entertainment)
In Spain, Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl who was raped by a beggar. His mother dies giving birth and he is looked after by Don Alfredo. As a child Leon becomes a werewolf after having been taken hunting. As a young man, he works in a wine cellar and falls in love with the owner’s daughter Cristina. One full moon, he again turns into a werewolf and terrifies the town…
Monsters: Dark Continent (Entertainment One – Steelbook)
Ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the ‘Infected Zones’ have now spread worldwide. In the Middle East a new insurgency has begun. At the same time there has also been a proliferation of Monsters in that region. The Army decide to draft in more numbers to help deal with this insurgency.
River’s Edge (Signal One Entertainment)
A high school slacker kills his girlfriend and shows off her dead body to their friends. However, the friends’ reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.
The Last Man on Earth (Cinema Cult)
The sole survivor of a lethal virus that transforms all others into vampire-like zombies. He fights them nightly, until, desperately lonely and at the end of his rope, he makes a startling discovery!
Mad Max: Fury Road (Roadshow Entertainment)
A apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and most everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.
The Masque of the Red Death (Cinema Cult)
Satan-worshiper Prince Prospero invites several dozen of the local nobility to his castle for protection against an oncoming plague, the “Red Death”. Prospero orders his guests to attend a masked ball and, amidst a general atmosphere of debauchery and depravity, notices the entry of a mysterious hooded stranger dressed all in red. Believing the figure to be his master, Satan, Prospero is horrified at the revelation of his true identity…
Scarecrows (Cinema Cult)
Five people heist the Camp Pendleton payroll, kidnap a pilot and his daughter, who are forced to fly them to Mexico. Enroute a double cross has one of the thieves parachute with the loot into an abandoned graveyard surrounded by strange scarecrows. Two of the team jump after their loot and their former partner. Everything happens during the course of one very dark night…
The House on Sorority Row (Cinema Cult)
After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.
Dolls (Umbrella Entertainment)
A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers, and their haunted collection of dolls.
Vampyros Lesbos (Umbrella Entertainment)
An erotic horror tale about a vixen vampiress seducing and killing women to appease her insatiable thirst for female blood.
Dark House (Starz/Anchor Bay)
When Nick Di Santo learns that his father is not only alive but can possibly reveal the origin of his son’s dark gift, he sets out on a trip that takes him to an abandoned mansion he thought only existed in his childhood imagination.
Short Night of Glass Dolls (Camera Obscura)
The corpse of reporter Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel of LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN) is found in a Prague plaza and brought to the local morgue. But Moore is actually alive, trapped inside his dead body and desperately recalling how the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful girlfriend (Barbara Bach of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) led to a terrifying conspiracy of depravity. Can a reporter with no visible signs of life solve this perverse puzzle before he meets his ultimate deadline? Ingrid Thulin (THE DAMNED, SALON KITTY) co-stars in this unusual and startling giallo (also known as PARALYZED and MALASTRANA) that marked the debut of writer/director Aldo Lado (WHO SAW HER DIE?) and features a superb score by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
Dreamscape (Turbine Steel Collection)
In this sci-fi thriller, Alex Garner, a young, extremely gifted psychic, is taught by a doctor to actually enter other peoples’ dreams, and even participate in them. Another psychic is being groomed to enter the troubled dreams of the President of the United States, with intentions not quite so benevolent.
Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Le Chat Qui Fume)
Carol Hammond is the daughter of a prominant English politician who keeps having recurring “nightmares” in which she makes love to a bisexual nympho who lives downstairs and conducts all-night LSD orgies. When the nocturnal wet dreams become murderous, the neighbor turns up dead, and Carol is the main suspect. Did she actually commit the murder she dreamt about? Is she being framed by her philandering husband? Did Carol actually make nightly visits downstairs aside from borrowing the occasional cup of sugar? How Did Carol’s letter opener end up stuck in the dead neighbor’s chest anyway? The complex plot unfolds amidst red herrings, outlandish dream sequences, lesbian hanky panky, and ominous close-ups of Carol’s guilt-ridden facial expressions every time someone mentions the murder. All this takes place in swinging late-1960’s London…
They Live (Studio Canal)
Set in the future, a drifter discovers that alien beings are controlling the minds of the masses by use of subliminal messages urging apathy and obedience. OBEY.
Hot Spot (Wild Side Video)
Don Johnson stars as Harry Madox, a drifter who settles in a small Texas town and begins secretly setting small fires, setting up his planned heist of the local bank run by eccentric Julian Ward (Jack Nance).
Something Wild (Wild Side Video)
Charlie Driggs is a timid New York investment broker who lets himself be abducted during his lunch hour by an attractive nut named Lulu. While drunk, she drives him to a New Jersey hotel for some kinky sex and petty thievery, and later convinces him to accompany her to Pennsylvania and pose as her husband at her high school reunion. More misadventures ensue, and Charlie gradually finds himself loosening up and falling in love, but then the film makes a sudden left turn with the appearance of Ray, Lulu’s real husband.
The Fearless Vampire Killers (Warner Bros.)
A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress.
Streets of Fire (Wild Side Video)
Rock and Roll singer is taken captive by a motorcycle gang in a strange world that seems to be a cross of the 1950’s and the present or future. Her ex-boyfriend returns to town and to find her missing and goes to her rescue.
DellaMorte DellAmore (Happinet)
Francesco Dellamorte Dellamore is the watchman at the Buffalora Cemetery, where the dead rise within seven nights of their last breath. Dellamorte has learned that the only way to stop them is to split their heads open; a spade works, but dumb-dumb bullets work even better, and he casually uses whatever is at hand. Putting the dead back to rest is, he feels, a public service. One day, Dellamorte falls deeply in love with a mourner–a young woman burying her elderly but sexually tireless husband. When Dellamorte and the woman make love on her husband’s grave, the earth moves… But when she dies, can Dellamorte kill her again when she inevitably rises? When eight motorcyclists, including the mayor’s daughter, are killed on the highway, will Dellamorte be able to handle all the work… twice?
A military cadet who happens to be a social outcast taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer.
FUNimation Entertainment announces the new unrated manga adaptation feature film Attack On Titan for a limited theatrical release, screening in nearly 300 theaters across the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Part 1 plays in theaters on September 30, October 1, and October 7, with Part 2 opening two weeks later on October 20, 22 and 27.
In Canada, Part 1 will play in theaters on October 5 and 26 followed by Part 2 on October 22 and October 26. Tickets for all Attack On Titan playdates are now available for purchase via the movie’s official website.
Produced by Japan’s legendary Toho Company (home of Godzilla, Mothra, etc.), the unrated Attack On Titan live-action adaptation, based on the popular graphic manga series of the same name (“Shingeki no Kyojin” in Japanese), “tells the dark story of a violent world where most of humanity has been destroyed by terrifying brutal giants. The last of mankind now fights to survive behind three concentric walls – walls that were once impenetrable to the horrific giants.”
With more than 50 million copies in print today, Attack On Titan has also inspired four spin-off manga, as well as a 25-episode anime series which FUNimation both simulcast and released on home video in North America.
The official movie website features an easy-to-use theater locator and the recently released theatrical trailer.
I saw Madellaine Paxson and Eddie Guzelian’s Blood Punch at last year’s Mile High Horror Film Festival and have been itching to watch it again ever since. In my review, I called it a “supernatural film noir on meth, with heaps of dark humor and a madcap edge that cuts deep.” After watching it again on Midnight Releasing’s DVD, I stand by my initial 4-skull review. This movie is a stupid amount of fun and has a body count in the dozens – even if it is the same body getting killed again and again and again.
The film is about Milo, a brilliant chemist with a knack for cooking meth. At a drug rehabilitation center, he falls for a chain-smoking harlot named Skyler, who quickly whisks Milo away to a remote hunting lodge in the woods. There, Milo is employed by Skyler’s psycho-boyfriend Russell to cook one mammoth batch of meth for a sizable paycheck. The lodge itself was built on the site of a bloody Native American war, which left a bit of a supernatural mark on the joint. When people die on its grounds, well, sometimes they come back. It’s a vicious cycle that Milo and Skyler must try to break to survive (and sell their meth).
One of the things that makes Blood Punch work so well is the cast: Milo Cawthorne (Deathgasm), Oliva Tennet, and Ari Boyland all worked together before this film on the Power Rangers R.P.M. series in New Zealand. This history shows on screen as their chemistry practically drips between the frames. I had the opportunity to toss a few questions at Cawthorne and Tennet (who are married in real life) about the film, what the behind the scenes mayhem was like, and other bloody stuff about this very bloody film.
Like I mentioned they all worked together on a Power Rangers series in New Zealand before Blood Punch. Making that shift from kid’s show to bloody horror-comedy was a bit cathartic for them. “Power Rangers is quite a long shoot as far as TV series go,” Tennet explains. “So although we had an awesome time shooting it, by the time we were in our last month of shooting we were all a bit over it and ready to do something else. Blood Punch is definitely the furthest you can get from a kids’ series where we were fighting rubber monsters and running around in Lycra! But it was also really great to go into a project with a cast, a director and a writer that I knew so well and had such a solid working relationship with already.”
“It was massive fun,” says Cawthorne. “RPM became very tough after the 5th month of filming, it was a real struggle to get through some of those scenes and that dialogue. Also for Eddie and Maddy I think this was a nice breathe of fresh air, they’d been in children’s TV land for years and years, so this was them really letting their hair down.”
What starts off as a bizarre love triangle meth cookout in the woods quickly turns into an even more bizarre supernatural time loop of death. Cawthorne’s initial reaction to the script was “‘Oh shit, this guy (Eddy) is a nutcase who is trying to lure us to the US’ hahaha, I don’t think I’ve ever told him that! But then I read it again, saw how cool the Skyler character is, then as I got more of the script I started to ‘get’ the tone of the film, and after reading the whole first script I was hooked. I was keen to make it.”
Tennet explains that “To get a role written specifically with you in mind, pretty much never happens as an actor so it was really flattering, not to mention really exciting. Shortly after reading it my thought was ‘Oh god, I really have to learn how to smoke.’” Skyler does indeed smoke a lot in the film. Each time, she cooly lights a match with her thumb. It’s a tough trick to pull off in real life. “I’m not sure I should give this away, but the lighting the match trick was actually done by super-gluing a small piece of the lighting strip from a matchbox onto my thumb and then striking the match on that. There are lots of outtakes of me stuffing up the trick because if the matches got just slightly damp they would snap.”
For the role, Tennet did her film noir femme fatale research. “Blood Simple, Double Indemnity, Something Wild, Body Heat are a few of the ones we watched. Lauren Bacall, Kathleen Turner, Anne Bancroft and are all actresses who nailed the femme fatale role so I definitely drew inspiration from them. Also Noomi Rapace from Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, because we thought that Skyler had probably had quite a tortured past. In saying that, I then let all of that go when we start shooting and just go with my instincts, otherwise I can start to doubt my choices.”
There’s a lot of weapons utilized in Blood Punch. Everything from crossbows to hatchets and even a grenade for good measure. That being said, there’s a lot of great kills in the film – ranging from gruesome to humorous. I’m partial to one where Skyler uses a cleaver. Cawthorne agrees, “that might be my favourite as well. I also like the double ‘scythe’ after Skyler and I have an argument about whose turn it is. I love all the kills once it becomes a bit boring for me and Skyler, that’s when I enjoy the film the most.”
Some of the kill effects didn’t go as planned, as Cawthorne describes, “There was one point where Eddie was firing paintballs at Ari to mimic the pistol shots I lay into him. Ari had padding on most of his upper body. I say’ most’ because there was a small portion of skin that hadn’t been covered right under Ari’s armpit. And it was about the fourth or fifth hit, you can see Ari go from ‘acting’ pain, to really ‘feeling’ pain. It never fails to crack me up. The look on his face as that paintball hits. So no, I guess there’s not a lot of sympathy there.”
Aside from the kills, one scene in particular was difficult for the actors. It involves making out with a whole lotta blood pouring down on them. “I would have to say that was my hardest scene in the whole film,” says Tennet. “You can actually see Milo holding onto me really tight because I was desperately trying to get out of the way of the blood! Actually…now that I think of it…Milo was probably just using me as a shield. What a dick.”
Cawthorne says, “One of the worst thins about that was the blood acted like glue and just picked up anything that was on that ground, so you go to get cleaned up and you’ve got cigarette butts sticking to your arse, and little bits of wood entangled in the hair on your thighs.”
As it turns out, shooting up in CA’s San Jacinto mountains drew some unwanted attention… “We had a guy who had nothing to do with the crew, kind of start following us around, he carried a gun in his belt and would often pull it out and show it to you. Towards the end of the filming he demanded to be paid for his ‘services’, our producer declined and so the guy pulls out the gun, and suddenly our producer was convinced that maybe we actually should pay this guy. He got his money and we haven’t heard from him since.”
The crew also made a bit of a mess in the cabin where they shot. The owner was furious, so when they realized reshoots needed to be done, “We can’t say that we’re the same film crew that ruined the house earlier, so Ari pretends to be someone else, puts on an American accent and rents the cabin. After doing some shots outside we get a call from the owner, saying that one of the neighbors saw people near the cabin with a camera, he’s worried because he had a bad experience with a film crew earlier in the year. So Ari has to assure him that we’re not the same crew, we’re just a bunch of friends who are taking snapshots of the forest. The owner buys it, and we manage to get all the shots we need. But that was a nervous period of time for us, we didn’t know whether the owner was going to pay us a ‘surprise’ visit or not. One day the cleaner knocked on the door and we all jumped with fright.”
Thanks a million to Milo Cawthorn and Olivia Tennet for answering my questions. Blood Punch is available now on DVD, iTunes, and VOD from Midnight Releasing. The DVD includes deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage, and other fun tidbits. I sincerely recommend this film to our readers. It’s an absolute blast.
In the age of Steam, so many games get released that even substantive, interesting titles get short shrift. Most of them are reviewed and end up in a ‘Let’s Play’ of some kind and then fall off a cliff for the rest of the game’s viable lifespan.
Well, to combat that in some small way, we’ve decided to publish an occasional series, consisting of candid chats with or features about developers about how they made their most popular games. First up is Krillbite Studios, the Norwegian developer responsible for a charming game about a toddler with a furry little sidekick and some pretty big nightmares.
Among the Sleep turned out to be one of the most surprising and terrifying games of 2014. With a unique premise and compelling visual style, it arrived to great acclaim from gamers and reviewers interested in all genres, including the horror sect.
The team at Krillbite was kind enough to answer a whole battery of questions about the successes, difficulties, failures, and joys of working on Among the Sleep.
The Idea and Early Work
The idea for Among the Sleep originated with the game’s designer back in 2011. One night, he was struck by a particular dream, about a toddler running down a pair of stairs and hiding from a monster. A fairly simple yet evocative image, this was the game’s initial creative spark. Shortly thereafter, while still pursuing undergraduate degrees, the relatively inexperienced team began work on the prototype.
Even early on, the visual style was pretty well developed, at least philosophically. They wanted it to be somewhat stylistic and painted — “to make fit with the colorful perception a child can have of the world,” they said — but also retain the distinctly horrific feel throughout. That created pretty specific guiding parameters for how they would design and create the world the toddler and Teddy would inhabit. Whatever changes occurred, the initial focus remained clear: to project something rooted in reality and yet also be indicative of a child’s imagination.
Because of their collective inexperience, however, character designs and the overall art style went through several iterations before the final product emerged. For instance, the game began its life with an extremely bright color palette, but those early blueprints had to be balanced out to accommodate the overall, horror-based tone. As a result, the visuals became more realistic, featuring deeper and darker colors to fit the mood. They used hand-painted textures with more realistic-looking shaders to reach their desired art style.
With regard to tone, the team wanted something dark but also something fantastical that encompassed the core conceit, which revolves around a very young child. The team is convinced they achieved a consistent balance, navigating the murky waters of a somewhat dark tone with something makes players feel safe navigating the world as a toddler.
Too light, and the game doesn’t feel substantive. Too dark, and it comes across as abusive or morbid. What Among the Sleep managed to do was give life to a dark and forbidding world and give it a sense of danger without stepping too far into something repulsive.
The realistic-sounding toddler work can be credited to a friend’s baby. Martin Kvale, the sound engineer, brought a recorder to the studio and let the machine run while he played with the child, gathering a collection of sounds that could be used to enliven the game’s protagonist.
For the mother, the team relied upon Jory Prum, a friend of theirs who owns a recording studio in California. He sent a casting packet (including notes and test dialogue) to different candidates, and the whole team listened to the auditions together. They became enamored with the voice of Cia Court, whose credits include League of Legends and The Wolf Among Us. They said, “There was something that stood out to us about Cia Court’s voice, who we hired, and she ended up nailing the role!”
As for Teddy, Prum had an idea for who should voice the sidekick bear from the very beginning. Roger Jackson, known for his myriad roles in movies, television, and video games — he’s THE phone voice from the Scream movies! — became involved early on, and he worked through several variants of the Teddy character as the team developed his role in the game.
“The Teddy character…[was] a completely different character at different times during the production, but Roger adapted to it every time as the incredibly talented actor he is,” they said. Originally, Teddy was a slightly menacing (to evil) character, but eventually he became the comfort blanket players would see in the final version.
Since they began Among the Sleep as students, the team at Krillbite virtually had no knowledge of how to make a game or run a company. Everything, for them, was a learning process, from the more organizational aspects of figuring out what tools and routines worked for them, to the more creative and technical aspects of game development.
This inexperience could be traced back to each element of development, even the production schedule itself. The team’s approach to hours at the office varied from strict to unstructured. Right out of school, they had no set schedule, but after finding a lack of structure didn’t quite work, it moved to something a little more standard. After release, the schedule modulated to something in between, so they could achieve a modicum of work-life balance.
They started out the development process by making their own engine, before transitioning to Unity — version 3.5. That simple but now obvious switch proved to streamline production. Through updating the game and iterating tirelessly — Among the Sleep now runs on the latest version of Unity — they learned a lot about how to be creative on demand and to understand what will work and what won’t before actually making it. Once they had a workable prototype, they started the QA process.
Krillbite did most of the game testing and QA internally for the first few years. Of the more basic bugs, the ones that kept bringing them back, of particular difficulty was the AI, which provided plenty of consistent problems. There was a problem “where the monster would never spawn, or just stop in the middle of something.”
The technical issues weren’t limited to AI. They said, “Another one would be the endless drawer in ‘Chapter 4 — Into the Closet.’ The drawer was implemented with physics, and physics aren’t always easy to play with. So this drawer had a lot of episodes where it wouldn’t come out or it came out and got blocked somewhere else. Damn that drawer!”
Overall, they found the testing process to be entirely useful and suggest any aspiring game makers do it early and often. External testers were able to see the game with fresh eyes and provide the team with invaluable feedback. In many instances, the dev’s perspective became irrelevant pretty quickly. “We’ve both removed things, added things, and even changed the story countless times because of feedback,” they said.
For the design team at Krillbite, the puzzles provided an interesting challenge. The key to each lay in the interaction between the toddler protagonist and the physical environment. It had to feel believable, and the child character believable within this world.
To make a believable, childlike world, there had to be quite a few physical limitations imposed on the character and character movement. The depth of experience, then, would come from those limitations, which would increase the game’s tension and horror. There were were lots of discussions about the balance that needed to be stuck between realism and fantasy. In the end, they went with a middle ground solution.
“If we had gone with making baby simulator levels of realism, it would have been too boring. If we had gone with a too far out fantastical solution like abilities or magic, it would have drastically distanced the players from the character,” they said.
As with all games, some elements and ideas had to be excised, but the team insists it had everything to do with how it fit into the game. Ideas would be cut if they didn’t work, were difficult to understand, or they weren’t fun. But nothing in the game was pulled because it placed the child in too much jeopardy or didn’t fit with the themes or tone of Among the Sleep.
Of the tiptoeing they did around the subject of a small child in a dangerous situation, they said, “There’s definitely been things that have been taken out of the game, but rarely was the sole reason that it felt too creepy for a game with a child protagonist.”
Without providing spoilers here, the game’s third act helped Among the Sleep transcend being a neat little horror game to being something more substantive. The third act “twist” came to be out of a combination of iteration, concerted effort, and a need to tie things together.
“At that time there was less connection between the internal story of the [third] chapter and the main story,” says Krillbite. “Late in the production we saw it necessary to cut a few major plot points as it was too messy and confusing.” Afterwards, they smoothed out the other chapters to make all three coalesce in a more or less intertwined way.
Production — The Successes
One thing that the team did not expect at all was the near-viral attention Among the Sleep received throughout production. The first gameplay teaser, for example, caught on without much advertising. It provided a necessary and much-needed motivational boost for the team, since they knew that what they were doing was exciting people. That momentum surrounding the game’s early hype helped Krillbite launch their eventually-successful Kickstarter.
Krillbite’s Kickstarter campaign proved to be hugely important for developing and completing Among the Sleep. Launched on April 18, 2013, the campaign eventually went on to top its $200,000 goal by nearly fifty thousand dollars, making it an immensely successful method for getting the word out about their adventure horror game.
“It gave us the opportunity to be free of the restraints of a publisher and we were able to work less on part time jobs that had nothing to do with game development and focus more time and effort into the development of Among the Sleep,” they said.
Through doing the Kickstarter, they learned that all facets of game development take a lot longer than anticipated, from the development of the game to the DLC to getting out the physical rewards. In fact, they’re still getting the physical rewards to Kickstarter backers, and the DLC took a lot longer than they thought.
Production — The Struggles
The game was not without its struggles, however. Krillbite slowly came to realize that it’s quite difficult to get players to see what they wanted them to see, through the eyes of the player. “We expected people to understand and pick up on all of the small hints that we put in as the main story of the game, and [we] didn’t test this with external people until very late,” they said, adding, “At this point, it became clear that we had been too vague all along, and that the story was too confusing for most people to pick up on.”
It was through normal production and testing that they were able to close those missing connections between what they wanted to convey and what the audience was receiving.
When discussing what they might modify, change, or take out, they were pretty blunt. “The monsters,” they said. “Like mentioned earlier, Among the Sleep was our first game and led us to unintentionally underestimate the monster or AI aspect of the game.” They originally wanted a very flexible AI that could navigate most areas so that they could add monster sequences wherever they found fitting, but that proved to be much more difficult than first proposed.
In fact, the monster sequences were meant to be a much bigger part of the game than what they ended up being. It wasn’t until late in production that they realized it was not going to pan out that way, and they had to compromise with their original vision. Hence, the monster sequences became much more sporadic.
They believe it worked out nicely, and they’re not unhappy about the number of monster appearaances. “We wouldn’t have added a ton more monster events, because we think that subtlety in horror is crucial,” they said. And yet, they would have preferred a more flexible system, one they could have toyed around with, than it ended up being.
Beyond the diminished monster events, the team ended up making other cuts and major changes for the sake of the game’s integrity. “For instance, we went through an ‘adventure phase,’ where your Teddy had active abilities that you had to use to overcome enemies,” Krillbite said. One ability made holes in the ground, while another created a protective bubble around the toddler, but eventually they were scrapped. In the end, the game comprised only a fraction of their overall ideas.
Release, Response, and Reflection
“Thinking back,” they said, “it all feels like a blur.” The game’s release schedule was really tight ramping up to launch, which gave them very limited time to feel prepared. They were pressed for time, uploading assets for [Steam] trading cards, achievements, and the final build no more than 10 minutes before the launch.
As soon as they hit “Publish,” the realization hit them that they had launched. “In the next nerve wracking moments of release,” they said, “we constantly hit the ‘refresh’ button to see if any reviews had been posted.” Since the majority of the reviews were positive, they were able to relax a little and consider the launch itself a success.
Upon reflection, the team has settled on a few major lessons they gained from making Among the Sleep. One of the clear ones is that making games takes time. A lot of time. “We extended the production schedule for Among the Sleep a gazillion times.”
The second is that communication is hard. “Both inside the game, with communicating to the player what the next step is, how to do it, where to go, but also internally within the team: getting everybody on the same page on what we’re creating, how we are creating it, and why,” they said. The third has all to do with their philosophical approach to making games. “How much do we base in reality, how much can be imagination, and where do we draw the line, ethically?”
The big question a lot of people have is, will the team at Krillbite Studios continue to create and develop games? The answer is, most definitely, and it has a lot to do with the overwhelmingly positive response to Among the Sleep. They said, “To see people respond by sending us personal e-mails about how touched they were, or how incredibly frightening the experience was, is an injection of motivation and inspiration to carry on. We hope to be able to continue to touch people in games to come.”
The next steps for Krillbite include tying up all the Kickstarter business and getting Among the Sleep on the Playstation 4. However, they’ve already got an idea for their next game, which is going to be way different from Among the Sleep. They said, “It’s called Mosaic, and we again want to focus on difficult topics but this time not in a horror setting!” They plan on revealing more information after initial testing.
Nippon Ichi is accepting pre-orders for a new PS3-exclusive Classified Edition of the Twin Peaks-ish horror game Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut that might be worth getting, so long as it’s not as broken as the Director’s Cut was when it hit PC nearly two years ago. Now, if you were ever going to be interested in a game like this, it’s likely you’ve broken down and purchased it at some point over the last five years. If that’s not the case, here’s a breakdown of what’s included with its moderately hefty $50 price tag.
The Classified Edition comes with a 30+ page hardcover art book, its original soundtrack, a custom 54-card Bicycle brand card deck, and a DLC voucher. The bundle is available for pre-order now on the NISA shop. It releases on November 24.
This weekend brought some horrible news for horror fans when the world found out that legendary filmmaker Wes Craven was taken from us suddenly and far too early. The horror community is still reeling from the tragic news, because for many of us, Craven’s films had a monumental impact on our lives, as well as why we come here every single day to celebrate this amazing genre.
A Nightmare On Elm St helped introduced me to scary movies, and Scream remains as one of my all-time favorite films, horror or otherwise. As badly as I’d like to honor this icon, I’m not confident that I could adequately describe the influence this one man had on me. Thankfully, our managing editor Jonny B handled that beautifully with this must-read tribute.
So instead, I’m going to celebrate Wes Craven by dedicating this horror art spotlight on my favorite of his myriad creations: Freddy Krueger. I hope you enjoy.
Art by Lovell-Art
Art by b-maze
Art by Klar-Jezebeth
Art by BlackCoatl
Art by TheNewestRedRanger
Art by ValentrisRRock
Art by frostdusk
Double Murder is back with two movies of alien creatures coming to earth: Xtro vs. The Deadly Spawn! Your hosts Danny! and Tim perform an alien autopsy on these 80’s cult classics and try to make sense of what happens when great ideas meet limited budgets. Tune in to find out which is worth watching, and which should be deported back to it’s home planet!
I truly didn’t expect to walk away from a Chet Zar documentary having shed tears through nearly half of it. In hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t expect it, given that Chet is an incredibly emotive artist. I Like To Paint Monsters: The Chet Zar Story, directed by Mike Correll and produced by NRG Creations, isn’t just about an insanely talented man in the Dark Art movement, but about his journey to understand the world through his innate desire to create what many would perceive as darkness, but what is, in actuality, lightness.
There are many ways of going about being an artist. There’s being technically good at art. And then there’s the passion to be good at art. There’s also the passion for art itself and the passion to create. But in the greatest of artists, you see the need to create and the unshakable drive bubbling up inside of them that compels them to create. Then there is Chet Zar, a man who is all of the above plus an intense spiritualist and, in a way, a philosopher.
It’s difficult to talk about this documentary because it’s so incredibly multifaceted. It’s a wonderful piece of film that takes the viewer through Chet’s life, to the impact he’s had on the art world (especially the world of Dark Art), to the way his art has impacted even himself. We get to meet the truly peaceful, shy, and darling little boy that made mechanical hands crawl across his room, the boy who would test out makeup special effects on his friends, and continually take things apart piecing them back together, Chet was always creating in every medium he could get his hands on.
Chet is what you would call a prodigy. Though something tells me he would reject that term because what he does is just something that’s in his bones; in his very core. He couldn’t exist without it, whatever “it” is. But prodigy he is. He was hired at the age of 15 to do Halloween makeup effects at Magic Mountain with a special work permit because he was too young to be working. He was working in film by the end of his teens, going on to work on films such as Hellboy 1 & 2, The Ring, and Planet of the Apes, among others.
We gradually watch him grow into a smart and driven teen and into the talented and thoughtful man he is today. Through anecdotes from his family, we learn of his playfulness as a child (using his incredible abilities to convince his mom he’d cut off his finger), but also the dark unrest he suffered having a deeply depressed father who eventually left his family when Chet was only five.
Chet not only dealt with these mortal troubles at a young age, like his absentee father and parental strife, but he also dealt with incidents of hauntings, out of body experiences, and even stigmata. Both of these types of horror, the more common family concerns and the less common supernatural issues, can be felt immensely in his work. Unlike most people, Chet is an extremely spiritually attuned person and these occurrences didn’t frighten him but rather inspired him.
His out of body experiences started around the age of twelve. One in particular was so haunting and creepy, Chet said it was “the evilest feeling you could have,” yet instead of hiding from it, it stimulated and moved him, most notably in his piece “Disturb the Normal” a work of digital art he created.
Before he was even a teen, Chet spent a lot of time thinking about the state of art. He was depressed about it. Uninspired. When a friend brought over H.R. Giger’s Necronomicon, its creepy aesthetic and beautiful technicalities are what inspired Chet to create the type of work we see him do today, the haunted quality of Giger’s work really spoke to him, as he had a deep fascination with hauntings.
There are elements of this documentary that just absolutely rip you to shreds. For example, while Chet talks about his biological father’s absence, depression, and withdrawn nature, the screen flashes paintings of his that were inspired by this household dread. Using Chet’s brutal honesty along with the imagery of his art made it impossible not to feel deeply about both.
Again, unlike most people and especially children, Chet threw himself into what scared him. He was terrified by all the normal things a child would be terrified by, but what scared him also enthralled him and became like an obsession, causing himself to become lost in his dark work, propelling his monstrous aesthetic.
Feelings of anxiety, guilt, and fear plagued Chet throughout his adolescence, which he came to terms with through therapy. But possibly even more therapeutic for him and what seems to have helped make sense of the trials he faced during his childhood — to help him cope — were the monsters that he created. This was his artistic outlet for this type of trauma. “The monsters made me whole,” he says, expressing how the dark imagery in his artwork was a healthy thing for him.
Chet then took his inner turmoil and turned it outward to mirror our real existence and fears caused by the world we live in today. He turns societal fears into monsters on canvas. But he turns them into monsters that feel, in a way, safe. This is his reaction to the world and we’re all better off for it. His extremely positive outlook on our future affects his art and the monsters within. The enlightenment in his art is extremely palpable. You can see that he believes things are going to get better. He says, “There’s so much suffering in the world that I can’t make art that doesn’t reflect that in some way.” But he goes on to say that he truly believes things will be okay, and that is absolutely a sentiment reflected in his art.
Chet’s art gives people an outlet to talk about their fears, darkness, anxieties, the human condition, and the world around them. There is not one piece of Chet Zar’s art that does not make a statement or hold deep meaning to either his life or the world around him. As it’s said in the film, he is “using darkness to spread light.” Chet paints monsters that are dying in order to turn a light on. He is illuminating the darkness by killing off monsters in his art. “It’s sort of like turning the light on in the dark closet to show a kid that there’s nothing really there, that there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he says, and continues to discuss the ways of exploring these fears and anxieties through the darkness.
To truly fall in love with a piece of art, you must be able to see something of yourself inside of it. The way that Chet paints and presents his monsters makes it nearly impossible not to find some part of yourself inside of them, at least some part of your existence. And to listen to all these professionals and artists and collectors talk about seeing themselves and seeing the world in Chet’s art is incredibly powerful and proves that he’s doing something right.
I Like To Paint Monsters is chock-full of interviews, not only with family and friends but other artists, collectors, performers, gallery owners, and industry professionals who truly understand what Chet does and what he wants to accomplish with his work. The wealth of imagery that we see throughout the documentary, comprised of Chet’s paintings and sculpting work, even some of his tattooing and other various mediums of art, make watching this film worth it alone.
Everything about this documentary makes the viewer ask: “What goes into making an artist an artist?” Though we’ll never know what makes each artist tick, I Like To Paint Monsters shows us exactly what makes the cogs turn in Chet Zar’s mind.
Find out more about I Like To Paint Monsters at the official website.
A playable demo for indie point-and-click horror game, The Grandfather, will release on PC and PlayStation 4 in September 2015.
Described as an “unique, story-driven puzzle horror game”, The Grandfather offers a pop-up, comic-book art style and tells the tale of a old man “tormented by the coldness of his wife”. You progress by moving through the old man’s home, collecting body parts.
The game also boasts a procedural analog soundtrack that’s generate by each player as they progress through the game. Here, check out this faux-retro teaser trailer to see how it works:
The demo will soon be available on Steam, itch.io and Gamejolt.
The full game is expected to release on PC/Mac next spring, with a PS4 release soon after.
Developer Frictional Games announced via a tweet last Friday that their upcoming survival horror game SOMA is finally feature complete, with only quality assurance and some fine-tuning left standing between it and us. This means there’s little, aside from a potential robot uprising in an undersea lab somewhere, that could keep that September 22 release from happening.
Below you’ll find the game’s E3 trailer. For something a wee bit more recent, I suggest you check out this video with the game’s composer, Mikko Tarmia.
Knock Knock, a stealth horror game originally released on PC in 2013, will be coming to the PS4 on September 10.
Touting an unusual is-it-real-is-it-not backstory, developer Ice-Pick Lodge states that it developed the game from a strange email that arrived at the studio one day.
“What do you, a small-to-mid-sized indie studio, do when an e-mail pops up full of mysterious scribbles, notes, and audio files — coupled with a vague description of a possible game?” states a post on the PS Blog.
“In all honesty, more often than not you probably try to conjure up a polite and friendly response; perhaps discuss the sender’s ideas with them. But that’s not what happened at Ice-Pick Lodge studios in November 2011.”
Writer/Translator Alexandra Golubeva goes on to add that the quirky, hide-and-seek, cabin-in-the-woods story bases its central motif on the fear of the unknown.
“But that’s not all. Further to the Kickstarter and original release on PC in 2013, the “spooky sender” apparently contacted the studio again, claiming that while it had made mistakes, it got the “general gist just right.”
“We were — and still are — a bit afraid of what we’ve done, you see,” adds Golubeva. “Even those of us who were positive it was nothing more than a prank.”