Directed by Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath
The last decade has seen a notably revitalized interest in horror anthologies, to the delight of many genre fans (like myself) who miss the days when films like Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside were viable efforts that audiences could get excited about. The latest of these entries is Southbound, an anthology of linked vignettes along an ominous highway that slowly aims to create a world where all of your worst nightmares are possible. Following the modest buzz that the film generated after its premiere at 2015’s Toronto International Film Festival and its subsequent pick-up by The Orchard, Southbound finally sees an official release in limited theaters on February 5th, followed by a VOD premiere on February 9th.
While many lauded festival entries often suffer from the advanced hype that precedes them in the months leading to official distribution, Southbound actually still feels like it is coming out of nowhere. On the fest circuit, it often felt overshadowed by other more highly publicized entries like Robert Eggers’ The Witch or Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, both also releasing in the coming months. While some may take this to mean that Southbound is not as significant of a horror effort, I can confirm that for lovers of anthologies and offbeat horror alike, this is not the case. If anything, Southbound feels poised to be one of the biggest surprises for many horror lovers looking for something that is refreshingly peculiar this year — and I mean that in the best way.
Bringing in talent from the V/H/S franchise, The Pact, and 2007’s The Signal, Southbound features five segments executed with a decidedly offbeat tone that effectively brings to life a very strange and horrific world — all guided by an ominous radio DJ voice-over from genre mainstay Larry Fessenden. The film begins with the Radio Silence-directed segment “The Way Out,” which follows two criminals who seem to be on the run from an unknown dark force. Quite immediately, Southbound showcases some very impressive creature effects that feel far beyond its seemingly modest budgetary constraints, a testament to the film’s ability to carefully control what it does and does not show its audience. “The Way Out” is a somewhat quiet beginning for the film, but it lays the groundwork for all that is possible in the world of Southbound.
Following “The Way Out” is “Siren,” which is dually the directorial debut from producer Roxanne Benjamin and the segment that is likely to be the high point for many. “Siren” tells of an all-female rock band who accept a ride from a couple of unusual do-gooders after their tour van is left stranded on the side of the highway. In proper horror fashion, the couple ultimately proves to be far creepier than the women could have imagined, hosting one of the most amusing dinner parties I’ve seen on film in a while with the band members as the guests of honor. “Siren” arguably captures the most representative spirit of the film, masterfully incorporating genuinely chilling moments with darkly comedic material. The characters here are also quite likable, and the momentum packs a punch in this tautly scripted segment.
Once the film reaches David Bruckner’s “The Accident,” all bets are off in regard to the film’s wilder nature, and this amped up segment will definitely be a make-or-break moment for many viewers who are on the fence. Bruckner’s short about a man who causes a terrible accident wholly brings to life the bizarre universe of Southbound in an effective way, inspiring the most moments of genuine nervous laughter that are equally matched by an overwhelming sense of anxiety-inducing tension. Up to this point, the film feels very much like a grittier, modernized version of “The Twilight Zone,” but “The Accident” manages to also channel David Lynch’s darker, more mysterious work (think Lost Highway or Mulholland Dr.) to a resonating effect. In this segment, you not only fear the antagonists at work, but the world itself — a nightmarish landscape that is very much preying on its travelers. These surreal and outright absurdist aspects of Southbound are what wholly set it apart from the likes of the V/H/S and ABCs of Death franchises creatively, and it feels like a much fresher film for it.
That the multiple creative minds behind Southbound feel like they are operating on the same very peculiar wavelength makes this collection of subtly interwoven stories such a surprising joy. Whether or not you ultimately can get on board with the zany atmosphere in which the film operates, you have got to give it credit for remaining commendably consistent between the segments. Patrick Horvath’s “Jailbreak,” the fourth segment, is a full-on Lynchian story of a man searching for his sister; it is the most polarizing of the bunch and I can imagine many people will be baffled by the direction it takes, but it’s this kind of unabashed singularity in the film that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Radio Silence’s “The Way In,” the final segment, is arguably the weakest of the bunch, primarily because it does not seem to ultimately add up to much as a standalone effort, contributing instead as a part of the overall narrative destination of the film. Additionally, while I appreciated the way that Southbound‘s more outlandish content was channeled through a very subdued lens, showing significant restraint more often than not by leaning on an unsettling air, I can imagine that those used to the in-your-face approaches of the last couple of V/H/S films will ultimately be left wanting more bombast from a film like this. That the film is front-loaded with the more exciting segments also works slightly against it, as I can see the more restless viewers tapping out after “The Accident.”
Yet, despite these arguable flaws, there is an effectively claustrophobic air to the world of Southbound that remains with you throughout, growing more nightmarish as the film progresses — and it all just works. It helps even more that the performances across the board are rock solid and complement the film’s tone. As a fan of left-of-center horror efforts that are unafraid of getting a little weird, I have no problem admitting that Southbound is probably my favorite horror anthology since Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat. The film succeeds above all as a genuinely creative labor of love, which is more than refreshing in a genre that is so easily cluttered with uninspired dreck. Southbound is the best kind of collaborative passion project that rarely, if ever, feels disjointed, and it left me wanting to see more films like it. If the powers-that-be ever decided to further explore the widest reaches of this hellish world — or even a parallel universe that is equally as grim — I’d be more than happy to take the ride once again.
Have you had a chance to check out Southbound, or are you just plain excited for it? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet me (@TheAriDrew) and share your thoughts!
Today a unique time-lapse video showcasing the evolution of zombies in works of popular culture – from the classic movies of the 1930s to modern video games – has been released.
Techland is proud to share the video as it features, among many recognizable pop culture icons, the Volatile – a trademark zombie from Techland’s game “Dying Light.” This is also the very first time the Volatile has been portrayed in real-life by an actor.
“Dying Light: The Following” – Enhanced Edition launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 9th, 2016.
Dutch filmmaker Ate de Jong is likely most known for 1991’s Drop Dead Fred starring Phobe Cates and Rik Mayall but it was just before that film that he made his Hollywood debut with Highway to Hell. Highway to Hell has a little bit for everybody as it’s a sort of an adventure/horror/comedy/fantasy hybrid about a young girl who is off to elope with her boyfriend when she gets kidnapped and taken to Hell. The film is now out on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and its a fun film full of interesting characters and cameos. In support of the release de Jong has released the following short promo video to tell you why exactly you should check this one out:
Chad Lowe (Life Goes On) and Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) star in this horror-comedy-action-adventure as young lovers, Charlie and Rachel eloping to Las Vegas for a secret wedding. Standing in their way is Satan, who taken a liking to the lovely Rachel and has sent his Hell Cop (C.J. Graham, Jason from Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) to bring her down to Hell where she can satisfy his devilish lust. When Charlie follows, he’s thrust into an unexpected world of living satanic bikers, cannibalistic blondes and a coffee shop where the only thing living is the food. The stellar cast includes Patrick Bergin (Patriot Games), Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story), Pamela Gidley (Cherry 2000), Kevin Peter Hall (The Predator from Predator 1 & 2), Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld) with his wife Anne Meara as Medea, his son Ben Stiller as Attila the Hun and his daughter Amy Stiller as Cleopatraâ! Also featuring rocker Lita Ford and comedian Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler. Directed by cult director Ate de Jong (Drop Dead Fred) with a screenplay by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential).
-Audio Commentary by Director Ate De Jong
-Interview with SFX Make-up Artist, Steve Johnson
-Animated Montage of Stills
-Original Theatrical Trailer
There is a handful of actors that pop up fairly frequently but almost always in small roles or cameos that I really love. Occasionally they may have a larger supporting role and every so often they even land a lead gig. One of my favorite actors that fits this bill is Clint Howard. He’s a guy I just love to see on screen. He has a presence and a special persona about him. No matter how big or small the role, you always remember him. One of Howard’s first (and really one of the few) starring roles came in 1981’s Evilspeak, from writer/director Eric Weston. It’s without a doubt the perfect movie for Howard.
Howard stars as Stanley Coopersmith. Just think about that name for a moment – Coopersmith. Outside of a pub in Colorado, Coopersmith isn’t that common of a name. Cooper, sure. Smith, absolutely. But the two combined as one? That’s sort of odd, isn’t it? Then you see a young Clint Howard screwing up in a big soccer game, ultimately costing his team a victory and you’re like “Yeah, that’s Coopersmith.” Add that with Stanley, which is no winner either, and you’ve got the perfect name. Of course most of the time he is referred to as Cooperdick, but that’s another thing all together.
Young Stanley is basically an orphan. His parents died and now he’s attending a military school where he is most certainly an outcast. He’s picked on by the cooler, jock-like bullies, led by the horrible Bubba (Dan Stark). These kids are a bunch of assholes and pick on Stanley at every chance they get. Bubba is a major prick with this cocky arrogance and a stupid face you just want to punch. Stark gives a great performance which is why I wanted to punh him so bad. Then there are the girls in the school. They don’t pick on Stanley so much but they kind of view him as a pathetic joke and enjoy the other boys picking on him. The school staff, from the soccer coach to the teachers to the reverend and all the way up to the colonel are no better. They all treat Stanley like he’s worthless and act like he’s responsible for everything that goes wrong. It’s pretty sad.
There is one kid, Kowalski, that stands up for Stanley when he’s getting picked on. So he does have that but the relationship between the two is never really explored. Kowalski just kind of shows up just in time to prevent Stanley from really getting pummeled. Joining Kowalski is the school’s cook, who befriends Stanley and actually gives him a puppy.
While being punished for whatever reason, Stanley is ordered to clean the cellar of the school church. While doing his cleaning he discovers a secret room that formally belonged to Father Estaban (Richard Moll). Estaban was a Satanic leader and Coopersmith finds one of Estaban’s books on black magic. The book instantly intrigues Coopersmith who sneaks a school computer down to the cellar and begins to translate the book from Latin to English. Eventually the black magic takes over, first starting with the computer and then moving onto Coopersmith. Now controlled by Estaban and the black magic, Coopersmith seeks revenge on his tormentors.
Evilspeak is an awesomely fun movie. It’s very, very gratifying when Coopersmith gets his revenge on Bubba and all the other jerks in his school. This vengeance comes in one incredibly chaotic and violent scene. Decapitations, fire, mad man-eating pigs, the finale to Evilspeak has it all. From the audience perspective this is all pure joy because those on the receiving end of all this madness are completely deserving. It’s very reminiscent of Carrie in this way.
What’s really cool about Evilspeak is how it deals with technology. Estaban rises to power through the computer. How he does that exactly, I’m not entirely sure, but that’s hardly the point. Just the idea in 1981 is incredibly impressive. Plus the way Coopersmith uses the computer is pretty cutting edge. He basically does Google searches to gather information on black magic and the like. Was anybody else doing that back then? I don’t think so. Except for Richard Moll who plays Estaban and aslo played in a similar forward thinking role a few years later in The Dungeonmaster.
My most recent viewing of Evilspeak came courtesy of the region B Blu-ray release from the UK’s 88 Films. This was my first experience with 88 Films, and I think it was quite fitting since Evilspeak was one of the infamous video nasties banned in the UK during the 80’s. The film has also been released stateside via Scream Factory, but I haven’t seen that release so I can’t compare the two (though Patrick Cooper did write an awesome review of the Scream release and you should read that). I can say, however, that the 88 Films release is fantastic. The transfer looks great. Just watch the trailer and then take a look at the film and you can see the clear improvements 88 Films made.
The special features are what really make this release shine. I haven’t had a chance to make it through all the special features yet, but I checked out the various interviews (Clint Howard, Don Stark, Joseph Cortese, Allan A. Apone) and they’re all fantastic. I highly recommend listening to the Howard and Stark interviews. It’s interesting hearing the two of them talk about their experiences on the film and how they feel about it all these years later. Howard has a few really interesting notes on working with the various actors and just his career in general. Also included is an extended SD cut of the film, audio commentary with Weston, Howard and location manager Warren Lewis and a making of featurette.
We all like to see jerks get their comeuppance. It’s enjoyable to see the bully get taken down and the picked-on-kid rise to the top. That’s exactly what Evilspeak is. What makes this better though is there’s Clint Howard, man-eating pigs and a good chunk of gore. What’s not to like?
Evilspeak is now available on region B Blu-ray from 88 Films.
Chillermama’s Adam Rifkin took to the Slamdance Film Festival with Director’s Cut, which is being hyped as a very creative genre-bending horror/dark comedy movie-within-a-movie.
It was written by and stars Penn Jillette and also stars Missi Pyle, Harry Hamlin and Hayes Macarthur, and was directed by Adam Rifkin.
Check out these first clips featuring (a talking) Teller and Gilbert Gottfried.
The ultimate ‘meta movie’, DIRECTOR’S CUT is an insane, cinematic sleight of hand trick that reflects on itself, much like the stage persona of its co-star and creator, world famous illusionist Penn Jillette. Here, teamed with acclaimed Director Adam Rifkin, Jillette conjures a mind bending, genre-defying movie-within-a-movie mash-up that’s part narrative thriller, part docu-mental-case. Starring Missi Pyle, DIRECTOR’S CUT is about a cineaste stalker who kidnaps his favorite actress and forces her to star in his amateur movie. The madness that unspools behind the scenes will leave you reeling.
Here’s the film’s official festival one-sheet and trailer.
Just about a year ago we gave you the first word on Melanie Light’s “feminist vegan horror short film” The Herd, and now that Women in Horror Month has officially kicked off, Light decided to post her brutal short online for the masses. Check it out right here!
The Herd is a film with a purpose, using female humans as a replacement for the female cows who are tortured every day in the dairy industry.
Written by Ed Pope, the film was directed and produced by Melanie Light. It stars Pollyanna McIntosh, Victoria Broom, Dylan Barnes, Sarah Jane Honeywell, Jon Campling, and Charlotte Hunter.
For more info “like” The Herd on Facebook.
A number of kidnapped and trafficked women find themselves imprisoned in a squalid medical facility. For Paula, her continued survival relies on her basic human function. Escape, on any level, is seemingly impossible as the women are condemned to a life of enforced servitude at the whims of their captors for one reason only – their milk.
The post Avoid the Stampede! Watch Brutal Short The Herd Here! appeared first on Dread Central.
Cavu’s The Final Project is the debut film from indie filmmaker Taylor Ri’chard and hits theaters beginning February 12th in Atlanta and Houston, and March 4th in New York and Los Angeles.
Check out a new clip from the found-footage horror that catches a glimpse of something in the window.
“Six college students have organized the ultimate graduation project… a documentary film about one of the most notorious haunted houses in America, the Lafitte Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. A Civil War landmark with a dark past, complete with stories of mutilated soldiers, murdered families and restless shadows roaming its abandoned corridors… no one has entered Lafitte in years- until now. Outfitted with high-tech recording equipment in order to capture every moment of their great adventure, these intrepid young filmmakers bravely venture deep into the misty backwoods of Louisiana. But on this plantation that time has forgotten, something evil still waits and watches. When darkness falls, their deepest fears come to life, as one by one they’ll learn the horrifying truth that awaits all who dare seek the secrets of the Lafitte Plantation. The dead are awake, and there are some places the living should never go.”
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ABOUT THE PLANTATION: Utilizing real locations in and around Georgia, THE FINAL PROJECT features a crew and ensemble of dedicated locals well acquainted with the haunted history of the South. Combining the “found footage” genre with authentic local folklore, it updates the classic American ghost story by tapping into a history too chillingly real to deny. The backstory of THE FINAL PROJECT combines an Old Hollywood touch with a real-life twist. Chretien Point Plantation in Sunset, Louisiana, the real-life model for the film’s Lafitte Plantation, was also the inspiration for the interior of the legendary “Tara” from Gone with the Wind. Its true claim to fame, however, lies closer to home. The site of a pitched and bloody battle between Union and Confederate soldiers at the height of the Civil War, with a bullet hole still embedded in one of its front doors, Chretien Point has long been rumored to be one of the biggest supernatural “hotspots” in North America. Ghostly sightings have been reported for decades, with stories of buried treasure, a vengeful “house mistress”, and even a nearby haunted bridge.
iZombie comes back swinging! When iZombie’s last new episode aired three weeks ago, I mulled over the idea that it served as more of a filler episode to bridge the two halves of the season (it was the middle episode of the season, after all). “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter,” easily the best episode of the season thus far, proved that theory, as it showed the writers setting up the endgame for the final eight episodes to come. Helping matters was that the case of the week, while predictable, was consistently entertaining throughout (it was one of the show’s more quotable episodes) and even brought in the indispensable Kristen Bell, whom some of you may recall was the lead character on Rob Thomas’ other female detective series.
Reviewing an episode of iZombie can be a tricky thing because, as I’ve mentioned before, even a mediocre episode of it is still an above-average episode of television. To this day, iZombie has not aired a truly bad episode, which is why it’s never earned anything less than a 3-skull rating. Sure, there have been a few that relied on the procedural elements a little too much and suffered from wheel-spinning, but the writing and acting is always top notch. So a 3.5- or 4-skull iZombie could be considered a weaker episode. This entire tangent of a paragraph is just to help you understand my thought process when scoring each episode. Now let’s get to “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter.”
What makes “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” so important to the series is that the stakes finally feel real. For the first time this season, scenes created legitimate suspense (Major going to pick up Minor from the groomer before Clive and Dale caught him, Peyton granting Blaine immunity before realizing the monster he really is, etc.). It is an intensity that has been lacking from some of iZombie’s previous episodes and was a welcome addition to this latest episode.
What started off as a fun and harmless episode abruptly yet seamlessly turned into a heartbreaking series of revelations between Peyton and the rest of the cast. It was a night of choices for Liv and Peyton. At first, Peyton’s scene with Blaine seemed to come out of nowhere (when was the last time Peyton was on the show?), but it all came together in the end. Both characters chose to have sex with their suitors, and while Peyton was shown the light about Blaine, Liv is still in the dark about Drake.
Ail Michalka hasn’t had much in the way of dramatic scenes since she found out about Liv last season, but this week she had plenty of them. Michalka is a talented actress and she has felt severely underused in the past. “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” is a step in the right direction for the character the hopefully won’t see any backtracking next week.
The highlight of the episode may have been the final 10 minutes, but that doesn’t mean the first 50 weren’t of high quality. Dale is quickly becoming one of the best characters on the show and her chemistry with Clive is palpable. Their scenes together are legitimately fun to watch and it gives Malcolm Goodwin something to do besides act so stoic all the time. It would be awful if Bozzio became a casualty from their investigation into Blaine, but we will have to accept that as a possibility unless Jessica Harmon gets brought on as a series regular.
As soon as they mentioned turning on Minor’s GPS tracker, you knew it would only mean trouble for Major. While it’s only a matter of time before he gets caught (whether by Liv, Ravi or Clive), he was able to get by unscathed this week, albeit short one dog.
Liv’s brain of the week (that of a sexually-starved erotic fiction author) provided plenty of laughs. It was nice to see Liv get a brain that let her play fun and loose without damaging her relationships as some of her recent brains have. “The husband did it” is an old trope, but it worked out here if not surprisingly, then at least satisfyingly. At the very least this week’s mystery gave us a small dose of Kristen Bell as the celebrity reader of the victim’s audiobook.
“Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” showcased iZombie at its strongest. It dramatically raised the stakes while still moving the plot forward at a surprisingly brisk pace (I’m still astounded that Peyton found out about Blaine and told Liv about it in the same episode that Clive and Dale caught up with Blaine). If the remaining eight episodes this season can keep up the pace, we may be in for a stellar back half of iZombie’s second season.
- Chapter Titles of the Week: If Books Could Kill; Bookworm Food; Lord of the Files; Talk Dirty to Me; Bringing Sexy Back; The Hem-Locker; Arrested Development;
- Brain Recipe of the Week: Brain-Stuffed Peppers! Those looked delicious!
- How sad was it watching Minor in the bus window? I got legitimate tears in my eyes. He’s going to have some major abandonment issues.
- Is it kosher for the police to tell a suspect that the husband of the victim pointed them in her direction?
- “I’ve always felt a kind of connection to her.” -A subtle nod from the writers connecting Liv to Veronica Mars.
- “You’ve been a bad little bitch haven’t you?” -Kristen Bell, reading the audiobook Grace’s novel.
- “I’m going to show you why they call it a cockpit!” -More Kristen Bell. I wish I could have just transcribed the entire monologue but I figured that would be excessive.
- Seriously though, if you’ve never watched Veronica Mars, do it now. It’s a fantastic show (and if you’ve only see the movie but none of the show, your opinion is void).
- “I’ve been a baaaad morgue attendant. I’ll understand if there are punitive damages!” -Liv’s first inappropriate line of the night.
- “And then victory sex. High five!” -I’m totally shipping Clozzio.
- “He’s got a scar on his face that speaks his sin.” -Liv describing Drake.
- “Hey, I’m pre-ordering this book. You’re not the only one in a dry spell.” -Peyton, after hearing an excerpt from Grace’s novel
- The flight attendant is named Alissa Trammell. Nice nod to Basic Instinct.
- Never knew Julian’s fake last name was DeWeed. I laughed unreasonably hard at that. Blaine DeBeers and Julian DeWeed would sell teenagers beer and weed. It’s perfect!
- “Seems pretty unlikely.” “Yeah! That’s what a coincidence means.”
- No brains for Liv next week! Let’s see how the episode pans out with “normal” Liv.
Jason Flemyng, best known for his collaborations with Matthew Vaughn and roles in such pics as X-Men: First Class and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, is sinking his teeth into directing with vampire thriller Eat Local, reported Deadline.
Filming is underway “Daredevil‘s” Charlie Cox starring alongside Mackenzie Crook (Pirates Of The Caribbean, “Game Of Thrones”), actor-writer-director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie The Eagle), Freema Agyeman (“Doctor Who”) and Eve Myles (“Doctor Who,” “Torchwood”).
“Eat Local revolves around unwitting Essex boy Sebastian (newcomer Billy Cook), whose promise of a night of passion with a ravishing cougar quickly turns into a fight for survival after she decides to introduce him to some of her friends — a coven of hungry vampires — at a remote farmhouse. Added to the mix, a heavily armed band of mercenary vampire hunters crashes the party.”
Danny King, a BAFTA nominee for Wild Bill, penned the script.
Ruth Jones (Gavin & Stacey), Annette Crosbie (Into The Woods) and Vincent Regan (Lockout, 300) also star.
Rod Smith of Evolution Pictures is producing, along with Jonathan Sothcott and Neil Jones of Hereford Films.
A warning, an invitation or a death threat?
Emma Watson narrates a clip from Regression, in limited theaters on February 5th, in which Ethan Hawke drives through the streets and seemingly is being watched for nefarious purposes.
“Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) investigates the case of young Angela (Emma Watson), who accuses her father, John Gray (David Dencik), of an unspeakable crime. When John unexpectedly and without recollection admits guilt, renowned psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis) is brought in to help him relive his memories and what they discover unmasks a horrifying nationwide mystery.
David Thewlis (The Fifth Estate, Harry Potter), David Dencik (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo) , Dale Dickey (Winter´s Bone, True Blood), Lothaire Bluteau (The Tudors) and Devon Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) also star.
As the release of this year’s Ghostbusters movie draws closer and closer, the franchise continues to expand, with the latest comic series, Ghostbusters International, seeing the team head overseas to do what they do best.
Publisher IDW has done some weird and wonderful things with the Ghostbusters license in the past (including crossing them over with the Ninja Turtles), so head over to Comixology to see what writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening have concocted this time.
There’s something strange in the neighborhood… and whether that neighborhood is in New York City or Venice, Italy, the Ghostbusters will be there! After a bust at the United Nations, the boys in gray are engaged to investigate an Old World haunting, where they begin to unravel a mystery that sends them around the globe (while still trying to keep their contract with the City, County, and State of New York!). Join us for the next chapter in Ghostbusters history — because you demanded it: GHOSTBUSTERS INTERNATIONAL!
Happy February and Happy Women in Horror Month! In honor of the occasion, this month’s selection of brand new fiction from Nightmare Magazine is “No Other Men in Mitchell” by Rose Hartley. We hope you enjoy it, and as always, please let us know what you think!
NO OTHER MEN IN MITCHELL
If I’m gonna tell this story, I’m gonna have to start with the men.
In Queensland—right in the middle of it, bum-fuck-nowhere is the word—there’s a town called Mitchell. It has two pubs and a mechanic who services the road trains that pass through, and its only claim to fame is birthing Australia’s shortest-serving Prime Minister ever.
I got to know Mitchell’s mechanic while I was driving road trains over the Warrego Highway between South Australia and Queensland. If you don’t know what road trains are, just imagine a B-double truck and whack an extra trailer or two on the end. There are only a couple of roads in Australia you can legally drive them, far away from the cities. They call these roads highways but they’re really just long, narrow strips of cracking tar surrounded by red dust that stretches into forever. Once you get up to a hundred clicks an hour it takes half a kilometre to stop a truck that weighs over a hundred tons, especially if your bastard of a supervisor overweights you. If you apply the brakes too hard, you jackknife the trailers and you’re fucked. If there’s a cow on the road, it’s fucked. If you fall asleep, you’re fucked.
I hit a cow once. The sun is so dry along the Birdsville Track it almost splits open your skin like drought-struck earth, but I had my arm hanging out the window anyway. The truck sailed over a crest and the black and white lump was right there in front of me, probably lowing but I can’t remember. I twisted the wheel to the left in reflex, which is a dangerous thing to do at the best of times, and the cow hit the side of the cab and burst open like a watermelon. Red innards and grey brains came sailing in through the window and plastered the inside of the cab. I never thought of myself as a redneck before then, but I sure was after that. I had red all over me. Ever driven for ten hours with brains stuck in your hair?
But I was talking about the mechanic. Barry. About a month after I quit driving trucks, Barry left his wife. I think I inspired him to leave. When I told Barry I was quitting, he had all these questions. What are you gonna do? Why are you leaving? As if he couldn’t imagine anything better than living in Mitchell. But Barry couldn’t find another woman to take him in. No surprise, ’cause he was an ugly son of a bitch with a nose like a cauliflower. He came back to Mitchell after three or four months and his wife took him back. There were no other single men in Mitchell, so it was either him or spending all her nights alone. A month later she slipped rat poison into his Four X and killed him, so maybe those nights alone were better after all.
So there was him. Then there was Cam, who I’d worked with on the Beverley uranium mine a couple years before. Cam had a shaved head except for one long, winding rat’s tail that hung halfway down his back. He came into my dorm room without warning one night and caught me with a Primo Levi book in my hand. My instinct was to hide it, but we got talking and eventually he asked to borrow The Wrench and never gave it back.
Good book, was all he said.
Cam hung himself with his jeans from a tree branch one morning before work. I imagine him swinging softly in the breeze, neck crooked, eyes staring. His brother did it too, six months later on Cam’s birthday. From a tree and everything. I don’t think he used his jeans, though. I think he used a rope.
Then there was Cam’s best friend, Thommo. He had no teeth from taking too much speed. Great bloke. He got me the job driving road trains, sat in as my driving instructor, laughing hysterically as I bunny-hopped the trailers down the road. Bloody near killed us both.
You’ve passed, mate, he said, and ticked all the boxes on the clipboard, still laughing and blowing smoke. Buy me a pack of Winnies.
Thommo fell in with some bikers, major ice producers. In central Australia there are these huge drug farms that the cops only find by sending out helicopters to scan the ground for plants and sheds. The blokes who run the places never get done for it, ’cause the police only ever charge the employees. The drug farm is still going, but Thommo dropped off the face of the earth. Just disappeared.
As for me, I quit driving road trains after I fell asleep on the road for the second time and the truck flipped sideways into a ditch and scared me shitless. I went back to my hometown in the Southeast. Mum cooked me roast beef that was dry and tough and talked about the mines in Western Australia, and how I could make a killing up there being a rigger. She had a mate could get me work.
Hundred and twenty grand a year, she said. Put some aside for your old mum.
I pictured myself up in the crow’s nest, climbing ropes with a dodgy harness and shouting orders to the fat blokes below, and I just got tired.
I’ll think about it, I told her. Just need some time off.
She shrugged, but I could tell she was annoyed. Me mate will have to fill the job soon, she said. Can’t take too long to think about it.
I sat on her couch for six months, and that’s when I heard about Barry. Bloody sad, that he went like that. When I came down with a fever, I thought maybe it was just the sadness, getting into my head and making me shivery. But it turned out to be meningitis. Or meningococcal. They never quite figured it out, and I couldn’t understand half of what the doctors said, probably because they never spoke to me. They spoke over me, to each other or to my mum. They thought I was a vegetable.
• • • •
I’m telling this all out of order, I know that. My brain’s still not quite right. I can’t get time to go in a straight line, as if it ever did anyway. I spend so much time alone with my thoughts now that I start thinking about things like time and whether it exists or not. And how I’ve lost so much of it, if it exists.
• • • •
I came to slowly over a few months, like a baby being born and coming into consciousness, in a pink-painted room, hooked up to a bunch of machines, with a real sore throat. From the conversations the nurses have over me I gather I’ve been shifted a few times, from emergency to some other unit. I don’t remember. Time has gone from me, like a flash in the corner of your eye that disappears when you turn your head to look at it. Not that I can turn my head anymore.
I’ve been in the pink room for two years.
Mount Gambier General is not the tidiest of hospitals, not exactly space age; and even though I’d spit on anyone who ragged on my mum, I can’t say she’s a charmer. She screeches at the doctors and nurses sometimes, tells them they’re useless dipshits. They hurry out, red and angry, and the nurses deliberately turn me less often than they should. They never test me for signs of consciousness, and they don’t bother to be gentle when they give me injections because they think I can’t feel pain. I don’t blame them for taking it out on me. Most people never get the chance to take their anger out on the right person. And everyone thinks I’m a hopeless case, a waste of a hospital bed. I hear the doctors discussing the mystery illness and whether it precludes me from being an organ donor when I finally drop off the perch. They discuss my death as a desirable, if not imminent, event.
When one of the doctors broached the organ donor thing with mum, she flipped her lid.
You wanna harvest my son like a fucking tomato plant? She said. No way. He might wake up.
The doctor tapped his chart and made a honking noise with his nose that sounded like fat bloody chance. Like I said, they’re not too stringent at Mount Gambier General. Pretty sure there are rock lizards that care more about the patients than some of the doctors do.
Yesterday mum helped a nurse turn me over, and as they lay me back down on the bed I thought I heard her sniffing away tears. She touched my face, once, brushed my hair back with warm fingers, but took her hands away too quickly and their absence left me with the fiercest longing I’ve ever known.
I wish people would touch me more often.
My mother sits by my bedside, touching the sheets, the monitor, everything except my hand, and tells me she’s going to lose the house because I’m not paying her mortgage anymore. Funny how she still complains, even though she thinks I can’t hear her. But it’s never once occurred to her to ask the fucking question: Dylan, can you hear me? Blink twice if you can hear me.
• • • •
At night I hear breathing in the bed next to mine. I can’t turn my head to look, but I know it’s a woman because I heard mum talking to the nurse about her. Sometimes there’s a whimpering when she exhales, like she’s having a bad dream, but she can’t speak and neither can I. Here’s what I can do, though: I can open my eyes. Blink, focus. That is all. A good day is when a spider runs across the ceiling: something to look at. A bad day is when a spider runs across my face.
It’s taken them this long to find me. Barry and Cam and Thommo. They turn up just as I’m slipping into sleep.
• • • •
There are a few things I’ve left out of this story. Sorry about that. Maybe you’ve been wondering, why did he begin by telling us all about his dead mates, only to rattle on all fucking day about becoming a vegetable and never once mention them? Like I said, I’m all out of order. Pretty soon you’ll see what I’ve done: lured you in by giving you the sob story about my mates and my full body paralysis so you’ll think I’m a pretty decent, if unfortunate, bloke. So now when I hit you with the crazy stuff, you’ll think, this poor bastard wouldn’t lie to me.
Remember earlier, when I said something like, that’s when I heard about Barry? Well I never heard about him. I found out he was dead because he appeared on my mum’s couch next to me, eyeing my beer. One moment I was alone in mum’s house, wanking off to the memory of one of the cleaners in Beverley and trying not to spill my Four X, the next there’s Barry lounging like a fat red troll on mum’s floral three-seater. Fucking dropped my beer. Barry looked kinda pleased, and opened his mouth into a red, wet tunnel to laugh, only no sound came out.
It freaked me out a little, but I knew what had happened. It was worse the first time, when Cam went. He materialised in the cab of my truck next to me while I was barrelling down a long, lonely gibber plain that looked like Mars. He grinned at me and twirled his rat’s tail. I veered off the road in fright, screaming and trying not to lose control of the truck but still snapping my head sideways, back and sideways again to see if Cam was still there. When I’d ground the gears to hell getting out of the scrub and back on the road, he was still there.
He rode with me all the way to Mitchell, just staring and grinning and not talking. Spooks can’t speak, in my experience, or at least we can’t hear them. My eyes leaked and my bladder too and by the time the town was in sight and Cam was going blurry at the edges I was a sobbing wreck. But I couldn’t pull over, see? ’Cause I was on deadline.
I rang around that night, trying to get hold of him to see what the hell was going on. Eventually his brother called me back and told me how Cam had hung himself, and I cried like a baby.
I was eating a hotdog at a petrol station when Thommo went. Appeared opposite me in the stinking booth, grinning and pressing his tongue into his gums where the teeth were missing. I stopped halfway through taking a bite and leaned back into the split red vinyl. For a second I thought that it was the real Thommo, that he’d quit working for the bikies and had just strolled into the petrol station while I was staring at my hotdog, but he kept on grinning and not saying anything and I remembered Cam.
You better not be dead, mate, I told him.
We sat there for a while, then he followed me into my truck and rode with me for a while before he faded.
And I cried like a fucking baby again.
• • • •
Their voices are tinny and far away but I can hear them now, maybe because I’m somewhere in between living and dying. Barry’s telling Cam and Thommo a story about a guy he knows who stuck a fish up his arse. The fish got stuck because he’d put it in head first and when he tried to pull it out the gills winged out and ripped his arsehole, so he’d ended up going to hospital and within hours the whole town knew what he’d done. I’ve heard the story before, but Barry adds a new detail with every re-telling, and it’s still funny to see him mime the gills, his hands flapping like little wings on either side of his face and his mouth opening and closing in a puckered O like a fish’s.
Thommo jabs a thin elbow into Barry’s ribs. Bet it was you. Bet you stuck the fish up your arse, eh Bazza?
They’re gathered at the end of my bed, leaning on the metal railing like they’re about to order a beer.
Oi, mate, me arsehole’s as pure as fuckin’ Mary, says Barry.
I try to speak, but of course I can’t. They look up at me in unison anyway, as if I’ve made a sound.
You’re awake, says Barry.
Guess what? says Thommo. Barry stuck a fish up his arse.
• • • •
A couple hours later and Cam’s trying to get the lid off the water jug so he can spill it on the floor. Barry goes for the pink wallpaper, taking hold of the top corner between thumb and forefinger, and tears a pathetic flint-sized piece off. Thommo’s trying to push my bed around with a wicked grin on his toothless face, but it’s the old kind of hospital bed and it doesn’t have wheels. It makes a loud scraping sound when he does get it to shift an inch.
They’re lazy bastards, and they’re not really trying. Thommo smacks his lips and calls for a beer break, but they’re spooks, they can’t drink, so instead they just pile onto my bed and stare at me.
It’s a little bit off. The spooks look like they did when they were alive, and talk like it, but they’re childish. They forget things, like what they said five minutes ago.
Why are we here again? Cam asks in his soft, sleepy voice.
But they keep coming back over the next few days, as if they know they’ve got a job to do but they’re not really sure what it is.
You’re supposed to save me. I think it as loud as I can, but they don’t understand.
Save you from what? Cam asks.
Mate, you’re not dying. You could live for years, says Barry.
Like this? My mind’s still here, but no one knows.
We know, they chorus.
I look at Cam desperately, and he nods. He understands what I mean.
Don’t worry, mate, we’ll do something about it.
But then he forgets, wanders off thinking he’s gotta take a piss, as if his cock will still work in the afterlife.
But I’m not in the afterlife. I’m still here.
• • • •
Why am I so attached to my piddling little life? I dunno. It’s all I’ve got. I love the feel of air going into my lungs, the light on my eyelids before I open them in the morning. I even love the itchy feeling of flies’ feet crawling over my cheek, if only because the strain of not being able to scratch it spikes my blood pressure. Not enough for anyone to notice, but enough for me to know that my body still knows me and wants me to live.
I’ve been trying to catalogue my best memories. I can’t write them down; couldn’t lift a pen even if I had one. And I’ve never been much of a words-on-paper man, even though my friends would say I can tell a tale. But there’s something about this dying thing. I don’t know what comes next.
I could tell you all about Cam, the way he’d tug on his rat’s tail when he wanted to say something but someone else was still talking, and how he broke up with his girlfriend by telling her he’d moved to New Zealand, except he forgot to give his housemates the heads up, so when she came calling to return his belt and jacket they told her he would be back from Beverley the next day and she took a shit in his favourite pair of shoes as a parting gift.
I could tell you how when Thommo was talking to the foreman he used to stick his tongue into the empty part of his gums and wiggle the loose front tooth like a pendulum, then cackle at the disgusted look on the guy’s face.
Those bastards like the money I make ’em but they sure as fuck don’t like to look at me, he’d say, and puff his smoke.
And Barry, Barry with his round red face and sweaty forehead and big, stupid grin as he waved a wrench, shouting maaayte! as I pulled into his workshop.
But me, I never was like them. Thommo always ribbed me for doing a year of economics at university—think you’re an educated man, don’t ya? he’d say, and elbow me—but that wasn’t it. I liked the feel of a woman. Not just under the sheets, I mean, but the feel of her in her kitchen, or on her front porch, or just lying on the grass having a smoke, one hand on her cigarette and the other on my knee. I say her kitchen, and her porch, because I never had a home of my own. All I had was a bunch of licenses—for rigging, heavy vehicles, boats—and a pair of work boots, and that was about it. Didn’t even have my own truck, but I never wanted one because it was a shit job and I was glad to give it away. I always thought, one day I’ll meet some woman and move into her place, and we’ll have a bunch of kids and it won’t matter anymore that I’ve built nothing, made nothing, because we’ll have each other and I don’t need anything more than that.
But I never met that woman. The smart ones wouldn’t give me a chance, they’d see my work boots and hear my voice still country-rough and look away before I could impress them with the books I’d read. The dumb ones—well, how can you make a life with them? And I was gone so often, working fly-in-fly-out or truck-in-truck-out from all these places where half the time there weren’t any women, and if there were they were toothless like Thommo or dumb like Barry.
There was one woman, Alicia, who I moved in with in Mount Gambier. She was ambitious, a country lawyer from a sheep-farming family with plans to move to Melbourne and work in a big firm one day. She laughed at my jokes and made me dinner sometimes, but every now and then I’d say something embarrassingly anti-capitalist and she’d just shut down.
So I’m part of the evil system? she’d say, on the defensive. Or, don’t be so negative. The world’s not a bad place.
Our eyes would meet at a loss and then she’d look away and we’d pretend I never said it. We blew up about something stupid, eventually. I missed a family event of hers one too many times and she was gone.
• • • •
Mum comes in with shaking hands one morning and does the unthinkable: lights up a cigarette. The nurses descend upon her faster than they do even when there’s a code red, shouting at her to put it out. She arcs up, her round little body shaking with rage, flyaway greys stuck to the sides of her face with nervous sweat.
It’s just a fucking cigarette. I’m just having a smoke with my boy, she shouts.
The thin young doctor comes in after the nurses, grabs her by the elbow and starts dragging her out.
Go on, get outside, he says.
She shakes him off.
Do I have to call security? he asks. I hate doing that.
• • • •
Barry and I sit in affable silence, watching the wallpaper. The TV’s off for once and I can hear myself think. Just when I think I’ve found my favourite memory of my mother, he breaks into my thoughts.
So you want someone to figure out you’re not a vegetable, right?
Yep. Not that you useless bastards are helping.
He affects a wince and spreads his hands. Mate, he says. You gotta trust me.
After Barry leaves, Cam shows up. He looks at me sadly and switches on the television.
Cam, I was trying to think here, I say.
He shrugs and looks up at the TV. It’s the news. Michael Schumacher’s had a skiing accident and they’re saying he’s brain damaged. His lawyer or someone is talking, saying, we’ve helicoptered him out of the French Alps, he’ll have the best medical care and rehabilitation money can buy to get him functioning again. The newscasters speculate how much the future at-home care will cost. They think it will run into the tens of millions.
I look at Cam and he meets my eyes. What I see there sends a shot of pain like razor wire through my belly. I know what he’s trying to tell me.
• • • •
Watching telly with your mum, Thommo says.
• • • •
I’m alone. The TV’s up too loud but I can’t turn it down. My left leg is aching like a motherfucker because the nurses didn’t turn me properly and my right leg’s slightly over the left and now all the blood’s getting trapped there. The fluorescents are putting white spots in my vision but I don’t want to close my eyes because I’ve got to make the most of my time on earth, even if that just means looking at the ceiling instead of at nothing. I’ll have enough of nothing when I’m dead.
Last night the boys came to visit me one last time. They apologised.
She watched the show, but I don’t know if she put two and two together, Barry said. Sorry mate.
It’s alright, I tell them.
I don’t blame them. They tried their best, but no one knows they are there. I know what that’s like.
Now they’re just waiting for me to join them.
• • • •
In the morning, mum comes into my room with dark circles under her eyes.
I saw a TV program about a boy in South Africa, she says. He woke up after twelve years. They said he was conscious the whole time, had something called locked-in syndrome.
So Barry did his job right for once, I think.
They asked him to blink if he could hear them, she says.
She leans in and breathes ciggie smoke and apples all over me. I’m gonna ask you in a sec, she says. But I’ve got my hand on the plug, see.
The white spots start to pop in my vision again. Blood pressure goes up.
I’m gonna ask you three times, and if you don’t blink then I’m gonna pull the plug. And they’re not gonna know about it until it’s too late, ’cause I’m not letting anyone open you up and gut you, give away your organs, she says. You’re my boy.
There are so many things I want to say to her. I want to give my organs away. I want to help other people live. Imagine how many people could keep living their beautiful, stupid, precious little lives because of me? How many people could lie on the grass with their hand on someone’s thigh, listening to someone else breathe, watch the sunset with my kidney throbbing in their side, my eyes taking in the view, my heart beating in their chest? But I can’t tell her.
This is how it is. I breathe in. I breathe out again.
I think about blinking.
She asks me the question. Dylan, Dill baby, can you hear me? Blink, blink if you can hear me. But blink twice, so I know it’s on purpose.
What if I blink? What will happen then? She’s losing the house, probably already lost it. She doesn’t complain to me about it anymore, as if it’s so awful she can’t bear to talk about it, even to a silent body. She can’t afford to give me the Schumacher treatment while she’s sleeping on a mate’s couch. Where would she send me? Who would pay for the rehabilitation?
Dill, blink twice. Blink twice.
And then, would I ever move again, even if I did get the rehab? Actually I don’t even care if I can’t move: would I ever speak again? All I want now is my voice back. It’s not enough that Cam and Thommo and Barry can hear me. I need real people, real laughter.
Mum’s crying now. Her shoulders are heaving up and down, her breath comes hard and heavy. She’s making an awful noise, a ragged animal noise, and I wish she would stop.
Dylan. Baby. Can you hear me?
Mum, please touch me, I think.
As if she’s heard me, her hand creeps towards the bed, patting blindly. She finds my hand through her sobs and squeezes it. The calloused skin presses loving indentations into my hand. Then she slips the plastic peg of the heart monitor from my finger to hers in one deft movement, so the alarm won’t ring out when my heart stops. Her arm arcs up to rest her hand against my forehead. The warmth of her palm is the last thing I feel.
She pulls the plug.
• • • •
It will take a few minutes for my heart to stop, now that the sucking sound of the respirator has gone quiet. My eyes drift closed and I’m back on the gibber plain. Miles and miles of red rocks that look like Mars, the heat of the sun on my shoulders. I’m sailing over the crests of the narrow highway in the cab of my truck, all alone, nothing but red rocks and dust and blue horizon.
Nightmare Magazine is edited by bestselling anthology editor John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead). This month’s issue also contains original fiction from Dennis Etchison (“Princess”), along with reprints by Seanan McGuire (“Inspirations”) and Adam L.G. Nevill (“Where Angels Come In”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” and of course we’ll have author spotlights with our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with author David Mitchell.
You can wait for (most of) the rest of this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient eBook format for just $2.99.
You can also subscribe and get each issue delivered to you automatically every month, for the discounted price of just $1.99 per issue. This month’s issue is a great one, so be sure to check it out. And while you’re at it, tell a friend about Nightmare!
The post Nightmare Presents: No Other Men in Mitchell by Rose Hartley appeared first on Dread Central.
Publisher Quirk Books endeared itself to horror fans with mash-up releases like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters as well as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its sequels. Wonder what’s ahead for this coming spring/summer? Read on for the details of two upcoming Quirk novels that should be on your radar.
Arriving May 17th is My Best Friend’s Exorcism from Grady Hendrix, whose first novel, Horrorstör, was picked up for a pilot by Fox.
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act… different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?
Next, hitting bookstores and online outlets June 7th, is Paul Krueger’s Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, in which demons are real, booze is magic, and a well-crafted cocktail is Chicago’s only hope.
College grad Bailey Chen has all of the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend still around when she moves back home. But her demons become a lot more literal when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders. It turns out supernatural creatures are stalking the streets of Chicago, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will these supernatural powers be enough for Bailey and a ragtag band of mixologists to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? Includes 13 cocktail recipes from an ancient book of cocktail lore.
The post My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge Heading Our Way from Quirk Books appeared first on Dread Central.
A few months ago we bought you the news that Resident Evil 4 was coming to the Wii U, although at the time it was exclusive to Europe. Now Nintendo has finally released a new trailer confirming that it will be released in the US tomorrow, February 4th, via the Wii U eShop.
So if you feel like revisiting a game that is, quite simply, one of the best ever made, then look no further. The Wii U may have been a failed system that’s now in its final days, but it sure as hell still has some life left in it.
The post Resident Evil 4 Coming to Wii U in the US TOMORROW! appeared first on Dread Central.
Directed by George Clarke
Distributed by Left Films
When I’ve already uttered “oh no” 20 seconds into a film’s opening scene, I fear the worst. The Blood Harvest’s clunky introduction was a worrying moment for the wife and me, and it had me apologetically glancing in her direction as her body language screamed, “Just because you’ve got to review it doesn’t mean I’ve got to watch it!” Thankfully, she was bluffing, the great big bluffer. We were in this together for the long haul, and I was grateful for not having to suffer this alone – in sickness and in health, etc.
Deliberately, the impending plot remained a mystery, so when predictable slasher fodder was unattractively captured using over-exposed, glaring-daylight cinematography, I presumed we were set to endure 90 minutes of plotless stalking, overlaid with pseudo-grindhouse filters and cheap gore, such is the tiresome trend of late.
I was wrong… just. George Clarke’s latest feature is as endearing in parts as it is buttock-clenching in others and something I eventually enjoyed.
When a series of grisly murders take place in and around Belfast, unorthodox Detective Chaplin (Render) believes something supernatural may be at work. Fired from the investigation for his outlandish views, he works secretly with his old partner, Detective Hatcher (Van der Velde), to bring an end to the bloodshed. But the closer he gets, the stranger everything becomes; and you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re all headed down a well-trodden path. Thankfully, refreshing twists and contagious enthusiasm help hoist The Blood Harvest higher than my early assumptions predicted.
After dallying perilously close to dialogue-heavy suicide on more than one occasion in order to bring the audience up to speed (Chaplin’s early phone call to his boss being a prime example), Clarke manages to get to grips with pacing for the most part – his editing technique and experimental camera angles being a genuine joy and my personal highlight. While the special effects are practical and of a decent standard considering budget, they’re made all the more impressive by the director’s shot manipulation and wily chopping, helping to conceal any glaring flaws rather than expose them. Even if lighting or equipment issues spoil a lot of the film’s cinematography, it’s not difficult to see beyond the restrictions to some genuine talent.
Possibly the most frustrating thing about The Blood Harvest for me is the acting. Literally from minute to minute I’d switch from really appreciating a specific delivery or exchange to curling my toes up and squirming with unease – my outlook interchanging with the frequency of Render’s accent! Never before has my opinion fluctuated so much during one feature, which ultimately means I’m either an indecisive, fussy bastard or the actors were inconsistent. That being said, a special mention must go to Alan Crawford and Liam Rowan – while not wanting to drop any spoilers, their animated, bestial antics are more than enough to steal the show; the film’s vastly over-ambitious comparisons to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre can only have been dreamed up because of their performances.
The steampunk style of our maniac’s head gear is a lovely touch, as is the hissing, piston-like echo of his breath from within the metallic confines of soldered baked bean tins, all presided over by an excellent, intrusive score that accompanies the visuals and agitates throughout. Made for an estimated budget of £10,000, this surprising tale does enough – by the skin of its teeth – to keep disbelief suspended and serves up a satisfying finale, which, married with some genuinely striking imagery (arches, candles, the film’s best use of light), helped me forgive the many shortfalls I was so sure were going to ruin my evening.
Is The Blood Harvest for everyone? Definitely not. But, for all its flaws, it turns out it was for me… just.
- Coming Soon
- Bloopers – An enjoyable few minutes which really add another layer to the production (a shorter version can be seen mid-credits at the end of the feature).
- Making-of Featurette – An interesting, in-depth 34 minutes of cast and crew interviews, explaining how The Blood Harvest came to be.
The recent surge in Latin American horror films continues with Face of the Devil, which hits DVD in the UK on February 8th. Read on for full details.
From the Press Release:
Matchbox Films and Jinga Films have announced the UK DVD and digital release of Frank Perez-Garland’s supernatural horror FACE OF THE DEVIL with a street date of February 8, 2016.
FACE OF THE DEVIL follows seven friends who go on a remote jungle vacation, where they are terrorized by a primeval spirit; as they struggle to survive, they come to realize that the demon is not a product of the forest, but an urban entity they brought with them from the city.
A fascinating addition to the recent new wave of Latin American horror films, FACE OF THE DEVIL received its world premiere at Cambridge Film Festival and has since been selected to screen at Dublin Horrorthon and Cine Excess.
They ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Ghostbustersnews.com released a series of new character shots from Paul Feig’s modern Ghostbusters, which display the brand new ghost-busting crew that includes Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, as well as Chris Hemsworth – thus completely flipping the role reversal from the 1984 original.
“Dead criminals from all eras of New York’s underbelly past have returned to roost among the living,” EW recently stated revealing more of the plot. “Pilgrims, old-timey sailors, Revolutionary War spirits, and even a couple of zoot-suited gangsters are ready to take on four formidable female busters looking to rid the city of its phantasmic filth.”
Feig has filmed cameos (in new roles) for many of the original Ghostbusters cast, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and even Sigourney Weaver.
Andy Garcia, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh and Pat Kiernan also star alongside Chris Hemsworth in Ghostbusters blasting into theaters July 15, 2016.
“SNL” vet Neil Casey is the main Ghostbusters villain. He is rumored to play the ghost of a murderer (sort of like Wes Craven’s Shocker, actually) who resurrects a ghost army based on historical characters.
Alone on Halloween, a young woman finds a mysterious VHS tape on her doorstep. It’s a tape that shows a series of gruesome and ghastly tales that appear to be all too real. But these terrifying glimpses of damned souls are not the only horrors that stalk her: A sinister, pumpkin-faced killer is using the videotape as a portal into our reality; and if he makes it through, this twisted trickster seeks only one “treat” – and that is blood.
Dread Central: Halloween anthologies seem to be all the rage right now… were you aware of that when you took on this role, and have you seen some of the others (namely, Tales of Halloween and of course the original All Hallows’ Eve?
Andrea Monier: I was aware of the anthology format and think they are a fantastic way to keep up with our shrinking attention spans! I have seen the first All Hallows’ Eve and am still terrified by thoughts of Art the Clown… what a spectacular villain in horror. One of my favorite films of 2015 was an anthology called Wild Tales, an amazing Argentine-Spanish film. Along with All Hallows’ Eve 2, everyone should check that out as well.
DC: The wraparound is essential to this genre… so it must be quite an honor to be the “face” of this 10-tale terror-fest. I mean, you’re joining the ranks of The Crypt-keeper from “Tales from the Crypt” and Udo Kier from The Theater Bizarre – but your character is totally different. She’s actually a part of the horror. Can you tell us a bit about who you play and how you were cast?
AM: I’m’ always honored to be included in a film! I play a young woman who has been stood up by her boyfriend on Halloween. Feeling a little spooked by the spirit of Halloween, she finds a mysterious VHS tape left by a masked “Trick-or-Treater,” or so she thinks. With curiosity getting the best of her, she decides to watch the tape and finds that these aren’t just silly Halloween stories; there is something else lurking within. I was cast by my friends at Ruthless Pictures, whom I have worked with on several projects.
DC: When it comes to anthologies like this, it’s always interesting to know what came first – the filmed segments as a whole, or the wraparounds?
AM: I did see the segments before our shoot, which made me even more excited to shoot the wraparound since I loved the shorts so much. What a fun project to be a part of!
DC: Jesse Baget is such a name in parody and horror… can you give us some insight as to what it was like working with him as a director?
AM: I have worked with Jesse as both an actor and a producer for years. I cannot say enough good things about the guy. Seriously, not only is he the nicest person ever, but he’s super talented and hilarious. A funny fact about Jesse is he can do tons of celebrity voice impressions and has a fantastic voice to do all sorts of characters. He’s a multi-talented dude for sure! I’m looking forward to doing more films with him.
DC: For fans of horror and gore, please help whet our appetites for the movie by telling us some of the more horrifying scenes that have stuck with you personally.
AM: Well, we have a new villain in this one, Trixter, the pumpkin-masked killer. Be sure to see him pop up throughout the film, gearing up to make his kill… who will it be? The shorts will give you all sorts of thrills, but be sure to watch the last one, “Alexia,” for a terrifying reveal!
All Hallows’ Eve 2 (review) is available on DVD and VOD NOW!
IFC Midnight just released a fresh crop of images from the latest man’s best friend becomes man’s hungriest enemy flick, The Pack, and we have ’em right here for ya!
Look for the flick, directed by Nick Robertson and starring Anna Lise Phillips, Jack Campbell, and Kieran Thomas, in limited theaters and on VOD platforms February 5th via IFC Midnight.
Also dig on the alternate poster below courtesy of Bloody Disgusting.
A farmer and his family must fight for their lives after a ferocious pack of feral wild dogs lays siege to their isolated farm.. Through a series of frightening and bloody encounters, they are forced into survival mode to defend themselves from the ravenous beasts and make it through the night.
It looks like the long-gestured adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand will have to wait even longer as director Josh Boone is instead moving forward on another King story, Revival.
Variety writes that Boone has already penned the script with Michael De Luca attached to produce.
The film is currently not set up at a studio, but sources indicate that Universal will get a first look, since De Luca does have a production deal with the studio.
Published in 2014, “the book follows a preacher who loses his faith when his wife and child are killed in an accident. He soon becomes obsessed in his experimentation into the healing power of electrical current, positioning him to act as God-like faith healer.
Intertwined with the preacher is a young man with demons of his own, who has benefited from the preacher’s talents and becomes a reluctant accomplice to his deadly obsession.”
Boone is still attached to direct The Stand, which is currently set up at CBS Films, and is also attached to helm The Vampire Chronicles for Universal.
The Stand has a long, weathered history that can be documented here on Bloody Disgusting. In June Showtime was said to be in talks to create an 8-part miniseries, while the last we really talked about the potential game-changer franchise (which had Matthew McConaughey pegged for the role of Randall Flag; although he’s now rumored to be attached to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower), it was set to be a 3-hour long epic.