David Keating made one hell of an impressive debut on the horror scene with Hammer’s 2010 film Wake Wood, and the Irish filmmaker returns to the genre this year with Cherry Tree (review). Courtesy of Dark Sky Films, the new movie is now available for VOD rental.
Read on for everything you need to know about this one!
Directed by Keating, the film was written by Brendan McCarthy and stars Naomi Battrick, Patrick Gibson, Sam Hazeldine, and Leah McNamara.
Faith’s world is turned upside down after she finds out that her beloved father is dying. When the mysteriously alluring Sissy Young becomes her field hockey coach, Faith finds a compassionate spirit and much-needed mother figure. Little does she know that Sissy is the head of a centuries-old witches’ coven that uses the fruit of an ancient cherry tree in a secret ritual that restores life to the dead and dying.
Offering to cure her father in exchange for a child, Sissy strikes a bargain with Faith, who suddenly finds herself pregnant with a baby that’s growing at an alarming rate. But with the clock to the child’s birth ticking down and the true intention of Sissy’s plans for humanity becoming more apparent, Faith and her father must stand together in order to save both their lives.
With Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension getting set to hit Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD, we figured that now was as good a time as any to give you guys a chance to score a copy on us. If only to complete your collection.
To enter for your chance to win, just send an email to email@example.com including your FULL NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS with “PATGD” in your subject line. We’ll take care of the rest.
This contest will end at 12:01 AM PT on January 11, 2016.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Release Info:
“Packed with jump scares” (Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly) and “mile-a-minute frights and chills” (Steve Barton, Dread Central), the latest installment of the groundbreaking horror sensation, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (review), is now available in the original theatrical version or an even more terrifying unrated version on Digital HD and On Demand from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The film arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, and DVD January 12, 2016.
When a new family moves into Katie and Kristi’s former house, they discover a mysterious video camera that reveals the presence of an ancient evil that begins to terrorize their lives. Now, with their young daughter’s soul in danger, they must fight back against this demonic threat before becoming its next victims.
The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D Combo Packs include three versions of the film: the original theatrical release, the unrated cut, plus an unrated cut with an alternate ending not seen in theaters. The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack also includes the original theatrical release and a deleted scene in 3D.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION Blu-ray Combo Pack
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The DVD in the Combo Pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The Combo Pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film, as well as the following:
Blu-ray Special Features:
- Unrated version of feature film in high definition
- Unrated version of feature film with alternate ending in high definition
- Theatrical version of feature film in high definition
- Lost Footage
DVD Special Features:
- Theatrical version of feature film in standard definition
The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack includes all of the above, as well as a Blu-ray 3D disc with the theatrical version of the film and a deleted scene in 3D and high definition.
The post Win a Copy of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension on Blu-ray appeared first on Dread Central.
Crossovers are a big thing in online fan fiction. They allow fans to imagine the possibilities of never-before-seen confrontations, alliances, and outright silliness, much of which makes no goddamn sense but still sounds fucking awesome!
Enter WTFLOL and their latest universe mashing endeavor, “Ash vs Lobo and The DC Dead“, a short fan film that pits our favorite smart aleck against the many characters found in the DC universe. It’s obvious that there is a ton of love and care put not only into the production but also the script. The actors feel like their counterparts and the guy playing Ash nails it, speaking not only in the same kind of swagger but also with the right speed and attitude.
Be sure to watch the first part, which sees Ash go against the Marvel universe, to make sure you’re fully in on the story!
A new slasher flick starring Debbie Rochon is on its way in just a couple of short weeks entitled Serial Kaller, and we have your first look stills right here! Check ’em out!
Wild Eye Releasing’s latest slasher flick, Serial Kaller, cuts to the bone of modern technology, where everyone broadcasts themselves through hashtags and filters. The lovely ladies of Babealicious TV flaunt what they have for all the world to see, but one deranged fan wants more than pixels. When he calls, the game changes forever.
Serial Kaller comes to DVD and VOD January 26th, featuring legendary Scream Queen Debbie Rochon (Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Phobia, The Theater Bizarre) and horror favorite Suzi Lorraine (Wrath of the Crows, Won Ton Baby).
A group of beautiful Internet models are trapped inside their recording studio and hunted down by a mentally unstable fan they insulted live on the air. Now the girls must join together to escape and face their murderous stalker or be picked off one by one. Beauty may only be skin deep, but revenge cuts to the bone.
Night Shade Books released Nick Mamatas’ The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools earlier this week, and to celebrate, we have ten copies of the San Francisco-based book to give away. Its dark humor and tongue-in-cheek self-awareness breathe new life into the end of the world.
Mamatas takes a high-powered drill to the lurching, groaning conventions of zombie dystopias and conspiracy thrillers, sparing no cliché about tortured artists, alcoholic “genius,” noir action heroes, survivalist dogma, or starry-eyed California dreaming. Starting in booze-soaked but clear-eyed cynicism and ending in gloriously uncozy catastrophe, The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools is merciless, uncomfortably perceptive, and bleakly hilarious. It is a darkly satirical stand-alone zombie novel, which distinguishes itself from traditional zombie book heroes (soldiers, born leaders) with an apocalyptic San Francisco left to the bohemians, drunks, and loners. Fans of horror and dystopian fiction will relish this humorous, daring drama that deals with the complexity of human nature amidst chaos. Sometimes the best coping mechanism in an apocalypse is a stiff drink and a good book.
To enter for your chance to win, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including your FULL NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS with “The Last Weekend” in your subject line. We’ll take care of the rest.
This contest will end at 12:01 AM PT on January 13, 2016.
Vasilis “Billy” Kostopolos is a Bay Area Rust Belt refugee, failed sci-fi writer, successful barfly, and, since the exceptionally American zombie apocalypse, an accomplished “driller” of reanimated corpses. There aren’t many sane, well-adjusted human beings left in San Francisco, but facing the end of the world, Billy’s found his vocation trepanning the undead, peddling his one and only published short story, and drinking himself to death.
Things don’t stay static for long. Billy discovers that both his girlfriends turn out to be homicidal revolutionaries. He collides with a gang of Berkeley scientists gone berserk. Finally, the long awaited “Big One” shakes the foundation of San Francisco to its core, and the crumbled remains of City Hall can no longer hide the awful secret lurking deep in the basement. Can Billy unearth the truth behind America’s demise and San Francisco’s survival—and will he destroy what little’s left of it in the process? Is he legend, the last man, or just another sucker on the vine?
The post Win a Copy of The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools appeared first on Dread Central.
Unless you’re Kim Davis, I guarantee that you’ll watch the trailer for the gay-themed horror You’re Killing Me with a big smile on your face. We reported last month that it had been picked up by distributor Wolfe after a successful run at LGBT film festivals, and now its release on a currently unspecified date later this year cannot come soon enough.
If your partner joked that they were a serial killer, you might find it funny for a while, right? But it won’t be so funny anymore when your friends start to disappear. So it will be interesting to see how our hero, George, plucks up the courage to approach his boyfriend, Joe, who may just not have been joking after all…
With an all-star cast including Shaughn Buchholz, Matthew McKelligon, Mindy Cohn, Drew Droege, Carolyn Hennesy, Edi Patterson, and Sam Pancake, You’re Killing Me will be released later this year. If the trailer isn’t enough, then follow it on Facebook and take a gander at the brilliant posters below.
Directed by Jim Hansen (The Chloe Videos), this gay mixture of “Dexter” and “Gilmore Girls” blends witty banter, pop culture references, and good old-fashioned murder! George, a narcissistic wannabe internet star, starts dating Joe, a monotone serial killer. While all of George’s friends agree that Joe seems a bit strange, George claims his new beau “isn’t scary; he’s gorgeous.” But as George’s friends start to disappear, the remaining group decides to take matters into their own hands.
The post Hilarious New Trailer for Gay-Themed Horror Film You’re Killing Me appeared first on Dread Central.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release Michael Dougherty’s Krampus (review) on DVD and Blu-ray February 23rd. Full details are forthcoming.
Trick ‘r Treat director Michael Dougherty’s latest holiday offering stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania Lavie Owen with Krista Stadler.
In Krampus, “When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers.
All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.”
Back in November we broke the news that The Veil was going straight to DVD in February of 2016. I was contacted and told the information was incorrect. Well, guess what, it wasn’t.
While the full details have yet to be release, Universal Home Entertainment has dated Phil Joanou’s The Veil for release on DVD February 2, 2016.
Jessica Alba (Idle Hands, Sin City, The Eye), Thomas Jane (Punisher, The Mist), Meegan Warner and Lily Rabe (“American Horror Story”) all star in the horror pic about the lone survivor of a cult’s mass suicide who returns to the scene with a documentary film crew 30 years later.
Kyla Drew Simmons, Lenny Jacobson, Stacey Turner, and Chet Grissom also star.
Watch for the trailer and full release details in the coming days.
Starring Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Andrew Prine, Denise Crosby
Directed by Peter Manoogian (segments of The Dungeonmaster also directed by David Allen, Charles Band, Ted Nicolau, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, and Rosemarie Turko)
Distributed by Scream Factory
In regard to sheer ridiculousness, no decade can top the ‘80s. Filmmakers seemed to be able to get away with producing pictures that stretched the limits of absurdity, filling video store shelves with one horribly entertaining gem after the other. Leading the pack (arguably) was Empire Pictures, the independent genre house responsible for cult classics like Re-Animator (1985), Troll (1986), and From Beyond (1986). There were plenty of companies pumping out lo-fi horror & sci-fi pictures on the cheap at this time, but one thing Empire can’t be faulted for is employing wild imagination and talented artists to bring these films – which could have been absolutely unwatchable in the wrong hands – to life. Charles Band’s production studio only operated for a decade, but in that time he and a cadre of winning directors, actors and FX artists delivered a few dozen memorable B-movies… many of which Scream Factory has seen fit to give some love on home video.
The company set a tone right out of the gate with their first released picture, The Dungeonmaster (1984, aka Ragewar). An amalgamation of the popular Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game and Disney’s TRON (1982), the film was ambitious in that it was loosely done as an anthology, with a different director helming each of the “stories”. Our unlikely leading man, computer geek Paul (Jeffrey Byron), is a programming whiz who lives with his girlfriend, Gwen (Leslie Wing). In their home is X-CaliBR8, a computer Paul has programmed to be nearly sentient with which he is able to communicate. One night, unexpectedly, Paul and Gwen are both transported to a realm within the computer, lorded over by the nefarious Mestema (Richard Moll). It seems that in all his time Mestema has yet to come across a worthy opponent, but in Paul he sees potential. First, however, his appointed adversary must defeat a series of challenges armed only with a wrist-sized version of X-CaliBR8. With Gwen held captive and at Mestema’s mercy, Paul has no choice but to forge ahead and vanquish his digital enemies before facing down Mestema in the ultimate battle.
If you can’t love watching a thirty-something man wearing a puffy track suit and shooting lasers from a cheap-looking computer “weapon” on his wrist at enemies such as a massive stone god or Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P. (!), then you have no soul. I reveled in the sheer insanity unfolding on screen. Each of the scenarios in which Paul is inserted feels like it comes from a completely unique film. All of the directors deserve credit for making their segments stand out while also being sure they gelled with the overall story. Paul’s gauntlet includes a fight against frozen villains, a massive stone idol, the band W.A.S.P., a city slasher, and a final post-apocalyptic battle that was clearly influenced by The Road Warrior (1981). Paul, of course, breezes through all of them with relative ease. It isn’t his peril that drives interest in the film; it’s watching him jump from one unexpected challenge to the next.
Richard Moll is clearly having fun hamming it up as Mestema, who comes across as less a savage foe and more like more old, lonely longhaired Goth who is desperate to be intimidating. Maybe Mestema was bullied as a teen? He sure has a lot of fun with his new digital powers of villainy. Mestema pops up between each segment to deliver monologues intended to crush Paul’s spirit, and none of them are better than his childhood cat story. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for the cat. Gwen gets in on the action, too, popping up in Paul’s slasher segment as an actress auditioning for a big role and delivering one of the film’s most hilarious lines – “I got the part!” – after almost getting mutilated by a murderer. The Dungeonmaster is a wonderfully inventive flashback to a time when films didn’t need to be “grounded” or “gritty” and instead just took a crazy concept and ran wild. Each of the stories here is directed with style and a real sense of fun. I had such a blast watching this movie, and I suspect anyone who grew up in the ‘80s will feel the same.
Note: this is the unrated version of the film, which contains additional (and quite welcomed) nudity. Enjoy.
That sense of elation isn’t likely to pass after moving on to Eliminators (1986). How could anyone not be sold on this premise? A mandroid (exactly what you think it is), betrayed and attacked by his villainous creator, teams up with a female scientist, a mercenary, and a ninja to get revenge on his evil old master before he can travel back in time to become to ruler of ancient Rome. This is one of those outrageously ridiculous plots that teenagers come up with after a night of getting stoned and thinking up crazy/awesome film ideas. And, yet, despite being so ludicrous it (mostly) works.
Aging scientist Dr. Reeves (Roy Dotrice) has created the perfect weapon with Mandroid (Patrick Reynolds), a half man/half robot that can change out his legs for set of tank tracks. Reeves orders his creation killed after a mission, but Mandroid breaks free and escapes thanks to the help of Dr. Takada (Tad Horino), who is killed during the breakout. Before he dies, Takada tells Mandroid to find Col. Nora Hunter (Denise Crosby), a scientist who may be able to help him stop Reeves. Mandroid and Hunter meet up and hatch a plan to storm Reeves’ hideout, which involves a deadly boat ride up river that only Harry Fontana (Andrew Prine, totally killing it) agrees to captain. On their lengthy journey (seriously, the boat trip takes up the entire second act) they also hook up with Kuji (Conan Lee), the ninja son of Dr. Takada. Together, the four of them take it to Reeves and harness all of their abilities to prevent him from becoming a time-travel overlord.
Other than the overly long boat ride, which isn’t terrible thanks to an abundance of action (the group clearly chose the world’s most treacherous river), this is a whiz-bang movie that breezes by and (coincidentally) will cause some viewers to feel as though they’ve traveled back to a time when a movie’s only requirement was that it made you and your friends marvel at one absurd scene after the next. I pity the viewer who can’t be positively giddy watching a damaged Mandroid fighting his elderly, breastplate-wearing equal in an attempt to stop him from conquering ancient Rome. If that isn’t enough, the film also has Andrew Prine’s scheming, sly merc, Denise Crosby’s gorgeous looks and a friggin’ ninja. Eliminators knows exactly what kind of film it is and fully embraces its weirdness.
And the final scream from Reeves is one for the ages.
I hope Scream Factory has plans to release every single Empire Pictures film. So far they’ve made a sizeable dent in the catalog; here’s to hoping they finish off the job. This is yet another totally killer double feature of two films that are so emblematic of what the ‘80s had to offer that they belong on the shelf of anyone who appreciates that era of filmmaking.
The visual similarities between both films are so close that these comments can apply to either one. The Dungeonmaster is framed at 1.85:1, while Eliminators is slightly more open at 1.78:1 (and featuring a new HD transfer), with both featuring 1080p pictures. Despite the low-budget nature of these productions, each looks quite good in high definition. Colors are nicely saturated. Daylight scenes offer up the best look at fine details, and the prints used for these transfers appear to have been kept in great shape. There are only minor instances of dirt & debris on screen. This may not be a massive improvement over what DVD can offer, but there are definitely moments where it’s clear the films have benefitted from HD.
Both films feature an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track – mono for The Dungeonmaster, stereo for Eliminators – and both get the job done without issues. The patently ‘80s electro score for Dungeonmaster rules, and the greatest strength of Eliminators is the frequent action (even if it isn’t exactly weighty). Dialogue is clear and well-balanced on both films. Subtitles are available in English.
“Interview with Director Peter Manoogian” – Typical of Scream Factory interviews, this covers not only the two films in question but also Manoogian’s career beginnings, collaborators, aspirations and so forth.
A theatrical trailer for The Dungeonmaster is also included.
- NEW Interview with director Peter Manoogian
- NEW High Definition Transfer (Eliminators)
- Theatrical Trailer (The Dungeonmaster)
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is easily one of the biggest things on TV right now and even with recent allegations about how the cast and crew are treated by executives, it’s still something that is actively being pushed and given a lot of attention. That’s why we’ve gotten “Fear the Walking Dead“, which finished its first season mid-last year and will see a second season later this year.
Now, in an interview with Vulture, AMC network chief Charlie Collier gave a solid answer regarding the possibility of seeing more companion shows along the same lines as “Fear the Walking Dead”:
The answer is we are open to ideas that feel organic to the creators in whom we’ve put our trust. So if Robert had a world he wanted to explore, you can bet that we are not just leaning into that conversation, but we’re actively engaging in it. Right now we’re not in that conversation, and there’s nothing to report at all. I’m a huge believer in Robert and the executive producers of these shows. We wanted to create a place where they would bring us their creative dreams and bring us their passion projects. If Robert had another one, we would absolutely engage. This is a world that is rich enough to handle it. Right now we’re just focused on these two.
Collier is also very adamant that they are not doing “spin-offs”, elaborating on calling them “companion shows”, stating, “If we had taken a couple of characters out of the camp and sent them on the road and followed that — that would have been a spinoff. We didn’t do that. We made the decision … to do a companion series, and, in fact, to show you what was happening in the world when Rick was sleeping in the original series.”
The reception towards season one of “Fear the Walking Dead” wasn’t too warm and there are many who feel that “The Walking Dead” still suffers from a lot of issues, even though we’re in the sixth season with no end in sight. What are your thoughts? Should they consider a new companion show or should they focus on fixing what they already have?
Lorraine Warren’s (Vera Farmiga) faith is strong on the first poster for James Wan’s The Conjuring, sort of tapping into the Exorcist‘s vein a bit.
In the sequel to the smash hit, “Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) travel to 1977 England to help single mom Peggy Hodgson and her four children, particularly daughter Janet (played by Madison Wolfe).”
In theaters June 10, 2016, The Conjuring 2 said to open with The Amityville Horror case. After, the sequel will tell of the infamous “Enfield Poltergeist,” which took place at a council house in Brimsdown village, borough of Enfield, England during the late 1970s.
Rounding out the cast are Frances O’Connor (“The Missing”) as the single mom, with newcomers Lauren Esposito, Patrick McAuley and Benjamin Haigh as her children; Maria Doyle Kennedy (“Orphan Black”); Simon Delaney (“Roy”); Franka Potente (“The Bridge”); and Simon McBurney (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation).
In addition to directing the film, Wan wrote the screenplay with Carey and Chad Hayes, and David Leslie Johnson.
Don’t let the pretty awful artwork for Peter Hyett’s new werewolf flick Howl fool you… the flick is a winner. Look for it online and in stores on January 12th, and read on for your chance to score a copy on Blu-ray on us!
To enter for your chance to win, just send an email to email@example.com including your FULL NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS with “Howl” in your subject line. We’ll take care of the rest.
This contest will end at 12:01 AM PT on January 12, 2016.
Ed Speelers, Sean Pertwee, and Holly Weston star.
On a stormy night, passengers on the last train out of London begin to panic after coming to a sudden halt. They soon realize there’s something dangerous lurking in the forest, and it’s stalking the besieged train, picking them off one-by-one.
Never forgive. Never stray.
Check out some sales art for the Indonesia action/thriller Headshot, which stars Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2), which will be getting global distribution after Nikkatsu Corporation announced that they partnered with Vertacal Entertainment and XYZ Films. As previously reported, the three companies are coordinating to set digital and VOD release dates along with limited theatrical runs in select territories.
“Headshot follows an amnesiac (Iko Uwais) who washes ashore with a serious and mysterious head injury. His past comes back to haunt him shortly after being nursed back to health by a young doctor (Chelsea Islan).”
It’s got a The Bourne Identity vibe.
Headshot is currently in post-production in Indonesia. It is directed by Macabre‘s Mo Brothers (Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel) and stars Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Julie Estelle, and Sunny Pang. The film is based on a script by Tjahjanto, and is produced by Mike Wiluan, Wicky Olindo, Sukdev Singh and Shinjiro Nishimura.
— Timo Tjahjanto (@Timobros) January 8, 2016
— Timo Tjahjanto (@Timobros) January 7, 2016
— Timo Tjahjanto (@Timobros) January 7, 2016
With yesterday’s news that director Guillermo del Toro would be headlining the long-gestating remake of the 1966 sci-fi/adventure film Fantastic Voyage, questions arose as to the plans for Pacific Rim 2, the sequel to the 2013 sci-fi/action film. The last we had heard on the status of the project, del Toro had turned in a script as well as a new (smaller) budget plan for the film.
Our sources are saying that the project is deader than dead in the water with THR adding the movie has been removed from Legendary’s release schedule indefinitely. However, the site suggests a possible Hail Mary: the acquisition of Legendary by Chinese mega corporation Wanda, which is the world’s largest cinema chain operator. Pacific Rim‘s biggest success was in China, even besting the United States, so they’d obviously have an interest in seeing the Jaegers and Kaiju battle once again.
Still, as we have come to learn with del Toro, nothing is ever certain.
Destination America has ordered six-part ghost-hunting series “Paranormal Lockdown,” which will be hosted by Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman, reports TheWrap.
The series will follow the two as they confine themselves to America’s most terrifying places for an unprecedented 72 hours straight, per the Discovery Communications cable channel. Living at haunted locations, many of which have never before been seen on television, with some being investigated for the first time ever. Groff and Weidman believe that the longer they stay, the more the spirits will communicate with them and the more information they can gather about the unknown.
“As valued fixtures of the paranormal community, Nick and Katrina have years of thrilling investigation under their belts and join the Destination America family with huge support from their fans,” said Jane Latman, general manager of Destination America. “Overnight explorations are a staple of ghost hunting, but “Paranormal Lockdown” supersizes the suspense in a round-the-clock, multi-day investigation that has never been conducted before on a paranormal TV series.”
“Living with the dead was a whole new experience for me and Katrina, giving us the opportunity to document some incredibly enticing evidence about the afterlife that we can’t wait to reveal to ‘Paranormal Lockdown’s’ viewers,” added Groff, who also serves as an executive producer on the show.
“Paranormal Lockdown” is produced for Destination America by Groff Entertainment; Justin Narragon joins Groff as executive producer. For Destination America, Fay Yu is executive producer, Jane Latman is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group president of Investigation Discovery, Destination America, and American Heroes Channel.
MAB Studios has announced Witchula, which is to be directed by Marcus Bradford from a screenplay co-penned with Pat Kusnadi (The Id, The Ringing, Because We Care).
Witches, werewolves, vampires and more will be featured, with the title character, Witchula, being the first, witch/vampire hybrid ever to hit the big screen.
Horror icon Maria Olsen (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Southbound, Lords of Salem, “American Horror Story”) as the title character.
Scream king, Bill Oberst Jr. (Criminal Minds) is also set to star.
Rounding out the preliminary cast members are Eileen Dietz and Marilyn Ghigliotti. Dietz, another horror staple is best known for her portrayal of the demon, in the classic film, The Exorcist. Ghigliotti is also an icon, but not in the horror world: Marilyn is best known as Veronica, the estranged girlfriend in Kevin Smith’s Clerks. In recent years Ghigliotti has made her mark in independent scifi and horror as well, starring in films like Alien Armageddon, Starship Rising and the soon to be released Rogue Warrior.
Other producers attached to the project include horror veterans Matt Chassin (Krampus the Christmas Devil, Seeking Valentina) and John Blythe (My Amityville Horror, One Day When the Rains Fell).
Can you guess who’s whose daughter?
Below is the official Sundance festival poster for Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers, which stars Johnny Depp as a Quebec police detective who is enlisted by two convenience store clerks — played by Smith’s and Depp’s daughters, Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, both 15.
Those of you unfortunate enough to see the trash heap known as Tusk will have seen Harley Quinn and Lily-Rose as clerks in a cameo. The duo have to deal with Justin Long’s rude character before his eventual run-in with Michael Parks. The scene is being spun off into a feature with the two daughters who put on a poor performance in Tusk. Now, they must carry a feature alongside Depp, who also put forth the worst performance of his career in Smith’s toothy horror film.
In Yoga Hosers, also written by Smith, “Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie are teenage besties from Winnipeg who love yoga and live on their smartphones. But when these sophomores get invited to a senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil buried beneath their Canadian convenience store.”
Yoga Hosers also stars Tusk alums Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Ralph Garman and Harley Morenstein. Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, Austin Butler, Adam Brody, Tyler Posey and Jason Mewes also star.
Starring Paula Brasca, Luis Ziembrowski, Marilu Marini
Directed by Valentín Javier Diment
Whilst last year’s It Follows served up some chillingly potent propaganda advocating sexual sobriety, Argentina’s latest genre offering, The Rotten Link, divulges in all manner of sexual debaucheries to further reinforce the notion that it’s probably wise to keep one’s pecker in one’s pants.
Writer/director Valentín Javier Diment goes brashly against the grain, tapping into the pneuma of an isolated township to take his audience on an unflinching journey into the abyss of cultural taboos. And what better place to portray this than in the seemingly peaceful backdrop of El Escondido – a disturbingly dysfunctional community, bereft of legal constraints?
Despite a lewd sounding premise, Diment never falls back on smutty schemings. That’s clearly not his modus operandi: He’s much more interested in setting a controlled pace to give his characters all the room in the world to breathe and flourish. This deliberate pacing might find some less patient viewers feeling fidgety, but it’s the unhealthy relationships and erotically-charged emotions Diment toys with that maketh this movie. Having said that, even if slow-burners don’t tend to light your cinematic candle, you should still give this a try, safe in the knowledge that, despite the sardonically bleak portrait it paints, The Rotten Link packs in a torrent of inspired pitch-black comedy moments that really pep things up. Likewise, a folksy guitar score performed by actual characters featuring in the film is an inspired touch, adding some welcome mirth and vitality to the proceedings.
The film’s biggest redeeming quality is by far its stainless cast, particularly the central, idiosyncratic family: the waning tyrannical mother, Ercilia (Marini), stricken with memory lapses, who watches over her two children, Roberta (Brasca), the prostitute everyone lusts for, and her brother, the mentally impaired woodcutter Raulo (Ziembrowski). The siblings are such a convincing pairing that a certain incestuous moment borders on the unbearable once we get there.
In terms of the narrative, it’s hard not to trespass in spoiler territory, but in short, Ercilia gets a gut feeling she won’t be around to fend for her kids much longer and warns Roberta not to sleep with every last male in the community so as not to lose her “purity.” It won’t take a genius to imagine what that leads up to, particularly when one certain pushy customer, Sicilio, refuses to take no for an answer, but by far does it end there, and as mentioned, the film tackles the taboo to outstrip all taboos: incest. The audience endures this particularly uncomfortable moment of intimacy before things take yet another unexpected turn and the brother’s bottled-up torment is uncorked as Diment ditches his calmer cadence in favor of a frantically-paced kamikaze killing spree.
Exactly what dark place Diment and his co-writers were coming from when they wrote this script still silently flummoxes me, but The Rotten Link does a superb job of emphasizing how life’s turmoil, not mental disabilities or madness, can lead even the most decent of people far astray from the moral path when pushed a bridge too far.
It’s disturbing, it’s lewd, it’s even absurdly funny, and it depicts society at its most toxic; and for most of those reasons it likely won’t resonate with many. That would be a real shame, though, as Diment’s respectful approach to such dark and deplorable subject matter, coupled with the fact the film revels in its own rashness and absolute unconventionality, is what makes it all the more appealing. For all its bleakness and malevolence, The Rotten Link is anything but rotten. It is, in fact, an absolute treat.
In the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan, at the base of Mount Fuji, lies a place where dozens of suicides are committed every year: the Aokigahara Forest. Dark, dense, and almost completely absent of wildlife, this fourteen square foot patch of beautifully wooded area has served as a serene final resting place for thousands of people over the span of hundreds of years, making it one of the most well known spots for people who are looking to take their own lives, which explains its alternative name, “The Suicide Forest”.
On a surface level, it’s easy to understand why so many people choose this location above all others to spend their final moments. The lush, budding greenery acts as a canopy for its visitors, almost completely blocking out the sun’s harsh glow, and isolating its inhabitants, all while creating a gorgeous reminder of the beauty and simplicity of nature in all of her glory. However, for hundreds of people to visit this one place in particular, year after year, with even some people flying in from different countries, suggests that there’s more to the explanation than pure aesthetics.
Some people believe that it’s not just that this one particular forest inexplicably houses several suicides every year, but that Japan itself has a seriously high suicide rate. To them, this forest just happens to be located inside of Japan, which is already plagued with several cases of mental illness, and simply has become the most popular location for its residents to engage in this horrific ongoing societal issue.
As with any area in the world facing an alarming suicide rate, of course, the reasons always vary from person to person, but research has helped narrow down the possible causes for the myriad cases of self-destruction. Although mental health is largely to blame for the decision that many Japanese make to take their own lives, there are several factors at work behind this national problem, including unemployment, crippling debt, people losing their loved ones in natural disasters, the lack of support networks across the nation, and the glorification of suicide in Japanese culture.
Whatever each individual’s reason may be for deciding to end his or her life, one thing is absolutely certain: the Japanese do not want to be known for the amount of yearly suicides in the Aokigahara. In an attempt to shy away from their reputation as a country that promotes suicide, police units have gone as far as purposely not publishing as many accounts of those who have died in the forest, and even posting signs at the entrance of the forest, urging its guests to reconsider their decision, and to seek help if they are contemplating death.
This may explain, at least partially, why up until now, there haven’t been very many movies made about the Aokigahara forest. Although hundreds of people visit the forest every year, it has yet to truly become a staple in pop culture, the way that some other spots have become well known for their large amounts of suicide, such as the Eiffel Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge.
Although it may seem offensive to some to create a film encompassing this strange phenomenon, art should never be censored, and in truth, there’s something morbidly fascinating about the thousand year old Sea of Trees. The draw it has on people, the fact that it’s always extremely quiet because the trees are so close-knit and the rough terrain makes it nearly impossible for wildlife to survive, so there are no birds singing overhead or little rabbits running by, creates an eerie dead calm that’s both scientifically interesting and supernaturally intriguing. The choice to make a movie about this plot of land is admittedly, quite brilliant.
It’s a shame that the film itself isn’t quite as enthralling. Following the the story of a girl named Sara, gone to retrieve her unstable sister, Jess, from the clutches of the infamous land while she’s still alive, The Forest is at its best when Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer is playing both twin sisters. As she portrays the level-headed blonde Sara, and the rebellious, angsty brunette Jess, at the same time, in the same room, Dormer convincingly converses with the two sides of herself, back and forth, showing off her skills, and creating a bond that the audience can actually believe could span across entire continents. Sadly, these well acted scenes are few and far between for the talented lead.
The film definitely has its moments. Little jump scares here and there display the creepier side of the forest through the depiction of the yurei, or vengeful spirits, that supposedly wander the Aokigahara grounds, and torment innocent souls who dare enter these dreary quarters alone. Although certain scenes effectively create a swelling sense of terror (such as when Dormer’s character retreats inside her tent, only to have sinister hands grab at her through the cloth), once the audience gets a clear view of the ancient spirits, the distress is dulled, because the heavy coating of CGI effects make the monsters look animated and cartoonish.
Needlessly confusing with little to no character development and barely any conversational dialogue, Sara is a tough character to relate to, despite the hardships she supposedly faced as a child. However, perhaps the worst atrocity committed in this film is the failure to capitalize on the forest as an all-powerful villain.
Instead of focusing on some of the many aspects of this vast forest and all of its dark mystical mythos, it settles for being just another supernatural slasher, with the forest itself set up as nothing more than a pretty backdrop.
Perhaps it’s too much to hope that this movie would tackle some of the real-world issues that permeate Japan and lead to so many death every year in these gorgeous woods, but for a film that’s named specifically for its location, this is a story that feels like it could have taken place anywhere. At worst, its yet another tale of an ignorant, unsympathetic American girl assuming she can outsmart thousand year-old folklore, and paying harshly for her arrogance. At best, it’s an innovative premise that’s poorly executed with half-realized ideas and sloppy narration. Either way, The Forest just decent, which is unfortunate, since its subject matter offered up so much unique potential, that it could have made for a truly spectacular feature.
Starring Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, Yukiyoshi Ozawa
Directed by Jason Zada
There’s a famous forest in Japan called the Aokigahara, or “sea of trees,” and it’s the (final) destination hotspot for suicides in Japan (and second-most popular place to pop off in the entire world; San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge is numero uno). After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published in 1960, in which suicide in the forest is romanticized, glum guys and gals started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 annually. Authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol very frequently. Ghosts known as ubasute are said to haunt the terrifying timberland. Bodies are stored in a makeshift morgue in the basement of a ranger station until they are claimed.
It’s at one of these stations that an American woman, Sara (Natalie Dormer), goes in search of her missing identical twin sister, Jess (also Dormer), and encounters a sinister spirit that pursues her throughout her journey. First Sara goes to the school where Jess taught and learns of the legend from some spooked students (a nice nod to J-horror here, with the look and feel of a Whispering Corridors movie).
Once the forest is fixed as the last known place Jess visited, Sara decides to investigate. She is convinced Jess is not dead. “I’d just know it,” she says. Not only are they twins, but in their youth they shared the tragedy of the brutal death of their parents. Somehow, she believes, all this bad luck is interconnected.
While drowning her sorrows in sake at a local bar, Sara meets a handsome and charming expat columnist named Aiden (Taylor Kinney). Aiden wants to not only help Sara, but to share the story of her search for her sister in his travelogue. She agrees, though reluctantly. The next morning the pair go into the deep, dark, dense forest where dozens of old, gray, cane-assisted boo-scares await.
It’s always a slippery slope for filmmakers to compare their movies to suspense and horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby or The Shining, but they do it all the time, and all the time they come up short. The producers of The Forest said they were going for an old-fashioned look and feel, which makes the movie seem even more lightweight than it already is. The premise is creepy, but the execution is marred by fake-out frights and cheesy CGI ghosts. Not to mention the fact it’s PG-13 and is clearly going for the teen box office buck – not because of its rating (The Others was PG-13 also, and it’s one of my fave ghost movies) but because there’s a slick veneer to it that’s nothing like the Polanskis and Kubricks the filmmakers claim to be paying homage to.
Luckily, The Forest has some saving graces in its cast and authentic Japanese location. Dormer is watchable as ever, but I was especially impressed by Kinney. He’s like a cross between Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, and one can see that with meatier material he could be a superstar. While the movie crew was not allowed to shoot in the actual Aokigahara forest, they found something close. Regardless, the flora and fauna of the Orient is so much different than North America that a cheat would have been obvious. Also, the sets built really have a feel of authenticity (I have been to Japan several times myself, so I know how things should look). What’s more, the score and sound design are crisp and chilling.
The Forest is a well-made movie with a few things going for it. But not quite enough going for me to suggest you check it out in theaters. Unless you’re a huge fan of Dormer or Kinney and need to see their every pore on the big screen, it’s best to wait for home viewing on this one.