What is it with all the Lovecraft-inspired games coming our way recently? Well, I sure ain’t complaining. The latest is Phantasmal: City of Darkness, which has just made its way onto Steam after spending some time in Early Access. It’s a procedurally generated horror game which promises to change and evolve with every playthrough, so you never feel as though you’re experiencing the same thing twice.
As if the horrific creatures hunting you weren’t enough to drive you insane, Hollywood lighting expert Brian Bell also worked on its visual design, so expect it to look incredible.
Buy it by April 21st for a 20% discount.
From the Press Release:
Experience terror that is never the same twice with Phantasmal, a Lovecraftian survival horror that evolves every time you play!
You will need to face off against lurking, otherworldly horrors in the perilous, run-down Kowloon Walled City before its destruction in the early 90s. You are fragile. Not just physically, but mentally as well. The grotesque creatures will challenge your very sanity, and losing your mind can be a fate worse than death!
The odds are stacked steeply against you, but you can prevail through sheer cunning. You must scavenge for resources carefully, sneak past and distract your enemies. If you are caught, you can fight back, but don’t expect to live for very long.
The environment has been carefully crafted by none other than Brian Bell, critically acclaimed lighting lead of several Hollywood movies, including Riddick, Life of Pi, and Ring 2.
- Fear the Unknown: Every ramshackle, disgusting room and corridor is uniquely generated. Battle your anxiety as you’ll never know what comes next!
- Don’t Go Insane: Facing terrifying creatures and skulking in the suffocating darkness will erode your sanity until you can no longer tell the difference between reality and illusion!
- Tread Softly: Every fight you have could be your last. Sneak past and distract your enemies as much as possible.
- Light, Both an Ally and Enemy: Every asset to survivability has a price. Use light sources wisely – you’ll need them to restore your sanity, but you’ll risk being seen!
- Scavenge to Survive: Scrounge the environment for anything you can use: from firecrackers and flares through to wooden boards and metal pipes. Guns are rare, but if you find one, remember that every bit of noise you make will attract more creatures and eventually much, much worse!
The post Lovecraft-Inspired Game Phantasmal: City of Darkness Awakens on Steam appeared first on Dread Central.
That’s right, kids! Like it or not, the second season of MTV’s “Scream” series is about to kick off, and right now we have some new eye candy courtesy of EW. Check it out!
“Scream” Episode 2.01 airs on Monday, May 30th. Are you ready for the games to begin again?
Returning cast members include Willa Fitzgerald (Emma), John Karna (Noah), Tom Maden (Jake), Tracy Middendorf (Maggie), Amadeus Serafini (Kieran), Bex Taylor-Klaus (Audrey), and Carlson Young (Brooke). Joining them are recording artist Kiana Ledé, Santiago Segura (47 Meters Down, “Silicon Valley”), Anthony Ruivivar (“Banshee,” “American Horror Story”), Austin Highsmith (“Murder in the First,” “Criminal Minds”), Sean Grandillo (Spring Awakening), and Karina Logue (“Ray Donovan,” “Gotham”). The new showrunners are Michael Gans and Richard Register.
Related Story: Five Reasons to Watch Scream: The Series Season Two
Season 2 picks up with Emma’s return to Lakewood after several months at a retreat, where she tried to recover from the horrors of last season. Everyone is walking on eggshells around her, questioning whether she has truly gotten over the Killer’s crimes. Meanwhile, Audrey is hiding her connection to the Killer but is getting harassed by someone who knows the truth. Brooke and Jake are also keeping secrets — they are hiding a budding romance from Mayor Maddox. And Noah is getting closer and closer to the truth about the Season 1 murders.
“The Vampire Diaries” star Nina Dobrev left the show at the right time because it’s gone on to jump a hell of a lot more than just the shark. Deadline reports that Dobrev is in talks to star in Sony’s reboot of the sci-fi medical thriller Flatliners, opposite Ellen Page and Diego Luna.
If signed, she will play the character of Marlo in the Niels Arden Oplev-helmed project based the 1990 original film. The character is an overachiever who is at the top of her class. Oplev, who directed the original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is directing from a screenplay by Ben Ripley. Michael Douglas and Laurence Mark are producing.
Opening with the line “Today is a good day to die,” the original Flatliners featured Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon and focused on a group of medical students who conduct near-death experiments to travel into the afterworld to find greater meaning and hidden truths. Being a movie, things go wrong; and they get a lot more than they bargained for, as will likely also be the case in the reboot.
Stay tuned for more as it comes!
Starring Lucy Walters, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson, Shane West
Directed by Rod Blackhurst
Premiering in the Midnight section of the Tribeca Film Fest this year, this film is probably best viewed in a vacuum. If the nearest theater doesn’t offer this and your living room isn’t properly equipped either, then Here Alone will probably be bagged and tagged as just another survival story taking place in a zombie-ravaged post-virus world where the few humans left fear each other more than the infected creatures trying to rip their faces off.
Rod Blackhurst directs his vision of this familiar setup almost like he’s channeling Terrence Malick at first, showing a woman becoming in tune with nature even if it’s a side effect of the apocalypse.
The solitary Ann (Walters) still had a small shred of life after most of the living became fertilizer, and through a series of flashbacks, we see her and her husband, Jason (West), and their baby daughter fight to stay alive in the remote woods where Jason grew up. As two wanderers, Chris and Olivia (Thompson and Piersanti) happen upon Ann and slowly gain her trust, the flashbacks tell how she came to be alone in the past just as she finds more people in the present. The main question of Here Alone is if they can survive together where they are or venture out in the hope of something better.
The real threat is despair and the dread that, once survival is all but guaranteed, the only thing worth living for is living itself. Aside from a few infected stragglers craving another bite, the only real danger comes toward the end of Here Alone when Ann’s forest paradise is threatened by her new guests and their interests. The proceedings are uneventful but pleasant, like a campfire story you’ve heard before but quietly sit through because you like the ending.
Any tension that exists among Ann, Chris, and Olivia doesn’t last long, which doesn’t do much to drive the story forward; and because Here Alone is set on slow cook, subdued scenes of Ann and Chris getting to know each other eventually become tiresome. Even though both actors have chemistry and the writing (at least until the end confrontation) is confident, there’s just not much happening underneath the surface and too few characters to create any real spark.
Just like the campfire story, Here Alone does have an ending worth getting to, and for such a simple story it exudes a real sense of dread and desperation. Dropping you at the end of one story instead of the beginning of the outbreak, David Ebeltoft’s script depicts the monotony of day-to-day existence in a ruined world that was never intended to be seen.
Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train will get off at her stop and head into theaters on October 7; and ahead of the release, Universal has just unloaded the official teaser trailer. The novel shocked the world, and the movie promises to do the same. Check out your first look!
Written by Tate Taylor and Erin Cressida Wilson, and directed by Taylor, the thriller stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow, and Laura Prepon.
Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
The post Trailer, Images, and Poster Art Introduce The Girl on the Train appeared first on Dread Central.
Garnering the L’Écran Fantastique Award at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival, Jacob Gentry’s (The Signal) stunning sci-fi adventure Synchronicity (review) arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on May 10 from Magnet Releasing. We’ve got art and release details for ya today, so read on for everything you need to know!
Chad McKnight (The Signal, “ER”), Brianne Davis (Jarhead, “Casual”), and Michael Ironside (Total Recall, The Machinist) star in Synchronicity, a fascinating thriller that blends time travel and romance with corporate espionage. The home entertainment release includes in-depth commentary from Gentry, cast interviews, and a mesmerizing video bringing to life the spellbinding film’s original musical score from composer Ben Lovett (The Signal, Black Rock).
SYNCHRONICITY (pre-order here) is a mind-bending “sci-fi noir” thriller in the tradition of Blade Runner, Gattaca, and Memento. Daring physicist Jim Beale has invented a machine that can fold space-time, and ruthless corporate tycoon Klaus Meisner will stop at nothing to get it. When Jim uses the machine to tear open the fabric of the universe, a rare dahlia appears from the future. But in order to keep the rights to his invention, he must prove that it works by finding the flower’s identical match in the present. Jim soon discovers that the dahlia lies in the hands of the mysterious Abby, who seduces him into revealing his secrets. Convinced that she is in league with Klaus to take ownership of his life’s work, Jim travels back in time to stop the conspiracy before it can happen. But once in the past, Jim uncovers a surprising truth about Abby, the machine, and his own uncertain future.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Jacob Gentry
- Interview with Actor Chad McKnight
- Interview with Actress Brianne Davis
- Interview with Writer/Director Jacob Gentry
- SYNCHRONICITY Music Video – “Time Travel”
- Theatrical Trailer
Believe it or not, it’s already been over ten years since the release of American sequel The Ring Two, and the franchise will be brought back from the dead later this year courtesy of brand new installment Rings. It’s headed our way on October 28, and it may be the first of many upcoming encounters with Samara. Read on!
As reported by Movie Web, the Vice Chairman of Paramount was on hand at CinemaCon last week, and after showing off a teaser trailer for Rings, he noted that if the film does well at the box office, The Ring franchise could become an annual Halloween staple on the big screen – like Saw and Paranormal Activity before it.
Here’s a rundown of the footage shown off in that trailer, which hasn’t yet found its way online.
“The trailer was set entirely on an airplane. A passenger is talking to a woman next to him when the plane hits a spot of turbulence. He tells the story of meeting a woman, part of a group called The Sevens. From this woman, our narrator received the video tape that The Ring fans will well remember. The next day, he received a call that he would die seven days later. That call was six days, 23 hours and 55 minutes ago. Suddenly the turbulence worsens, the cockpit flight instruments flicker to static and some mysterious black liquid bubbles up out of the airplane lavatories. We cut to Samara’s well, both on the cockpit instruments and the airplane monitors throughout the cabin. Samara crawls out of the video and towards the narrating passenger and we are cut quickly to the title treatment.”
Rings is directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez and stars Johnny Galecki as Gabriel, a handsome, pleasure-seeking professor who mentors and helps boyfriend and girlfriend duo Holt (Alex Roe) and Julia (Matilda Lutz). Scream 4‘s Aimee Teegarden, Laura Wiggins (“Shameless”), and Zach Roerig (“The Vampire Diaries”) round out the main cast. Bonnie Morgan plays Samara.
The post Rings Could Turn The Ring into an Annual Horror Franchise appeared first on Dread Central.
Known mostly for his incredible motion-capture performances in films like The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, Andy Serkis is nothing short of a Hollywood icon, and up next he’s stepping behind the camera completely to bring The Ritual to the big screen. Read on for details.
The Tracking Board reports today that Serkis will produce The Ritual through his Imaginarium banner, based on Adam Nevill’s award-winning horror novel. BAFTA nominated screenwriter Joe Barton (“Humans”) will adapt the novel.
The Ritual centers on four friends from college who head off into the Scandinavian wild in an effort to get away from it all and reconnect with each other. But what begins as a trip of bonding and friendship turns into a nightmare when they take a shortcut and end up lost. Some of them are injured and they seem stranded with nothing but forest in every direction direction.
While trying to find their way back to civilization, they come across what seems to be an abandoned cottage. Inside they discover ancient artifacts on the wall and bones scattered on the floor in a sacrificial manner. They soon discover that something is stalking them and is intent on keeping them from leaving the woods.
Serkis will produce the film with Jonathan Cavendish. Chloe Sizer will oversee for Imaginarium, while Laura Wilson will oversee for eOne, which will finance and distribute.
Artist Katherine Dey has cooked up a number of tasty treats over the years, some of which are so disturbing that we cannot wait to share them with you.
Recently Buzzfeed caught up with her and inquired about her wondrous skill set!
“I am inspired by a lot of things,” says Dey. “I love that strange feeling I get when something looks real but it isn’t. Or when a cake doesn’t look particularly appetizing but it is a cake and it tastes delicious.”
“I like to make people feel two conflicting things at once. The subjects I choose are things that have interested me forever, be it anatomy, mushrooms, or portraiture. I love portraiture. Making a portrait of someone helps me to really see them. I love the details.”
Take a look below and let us know what you think. Could you chow down on these?
Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room opened in New York and Los Angeles on April 15th and will begin a nationwide roll-out on April 29th so today we have a new clip to share to help you get ready for it.
Green Room (review) tells the story of a band’s encounter with a group of neo-Nazis and their deranged leader (Patrick Stewart). The film also stars Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, and Macon Blair (Blue Ruin).
Down-on-their-luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights agree to a last-minute gig in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse. The gig soon takes a sinister turn as the band members stumble upon a grisly murder scene and find themselves targeted by a ruthless club owner and his associates, determined to eliminate all witnesses.
As there have been approximately 38 billion slasher movies produced so far, it’s safe to say that they’ve gotten a bit repetitive over the years. So it’s refreshing for one to come along that throws all the cliches out the window and attempts to be as realistic as possible.
That’s the aim of Scythe, about a serial killer known as the Grim Reaper, who kills his victims with, you guessed it, a scythe. It’s now on Kickstarter, so head over there to help reap the harvest.
Jim Rothman is the writer/director/producer and co-stars with Andrea Muller and Robert B. Silver.
As a special bonus to Dread Central readers, for TODAY (4/11/16) only, anyone who pledges for the $50 Cap and Blu-ray package (which includes a baseball cap with the Scythe logo on it and a Blu-ray copy of the film), will also receive an autographed copy of the feature length script for free. Plus, if 100 readers respond, the DC logo will be included in the credits of the film (but no pressure)!
From the Press Release:
A psychological slasher thriller WITHOUT all the slasher film cliches!
From the writer/director of the award-winning short films I’m Not Matt Damon, Going Down There, and Minutes…comes the return of the slasher film genre: SCYTHE, a psychological thriller in the same vein as the classic and modern horror films Halloween (1978) and Saw (2004) as well as films from iconic director Alfred Hitchcock.
On the week of prom night in Concord, North Carolina, RONALD WADE, known as the Grim Reaper Killer, escaped a prison transport and breaks into a hardware store, surprising high school student EMILY JOHNSON, the store owner’s daughter. Under the cover of the store’s blackout, a hide-or-be-killed cat and mouse game ensues, ending with several stab wounds to Emily’s back with a SCYTHE, the killer’s signature weapon.
A television left on breaks the news of the Grim Reaper’s escape and highlights his exploits, as he swings a scythe at Emily, beheading her. She is his latest victim. And his first mistake.
With prom cancelled and a mandatory curfew in effect, shy teen MEGAN MILLER is forced by her best friend, KIM, to meet with AMY, VICKY, REBECCA, and JENNIFER after hours at the abandoned pool for a party. At the pool party Megan opens up about her desire to be great, to be worthy of someone worth knowing. This confession leads the girls to bond and build a sisterhood to watch out for one another. Unbeknownst to them, outside hovers the Grim Reaper Killer, targeting them as his newest victims.
When young, disgraced FBI AGENT CHRIS GIBSON is tasked with recapturing the killer, he encounters seasoned US MARSHAL JOHN DECKER. After a jurisdictional dispute, the two begrudgingly join forces. While examine Emily’s body, it is Agent Gibson that discovers the killer’s mistake: This is not the work of the Grim Reaper Killer. It is someone else…
The post Realistic Slasher Film Scythe Will Reap the Harvest; Special Offer for Dread Central Readers! appeared first on Dread Central.
Well, now I’ve seen it all. A guy being employed by a corporation to put on a mask and go out and murder people? That’s a crazy premise if there ever was one. It’s also the premise of the upcoming film Fun With Hackley, which you can see the trailer for and some stills from below.
Suddenly being unemployed never looked so promising…
Life-long serial killer Hackley is going through a midlife crisis and rethinking his life and career while dealing with his meddling, incompetent boss.
Since 1980, Hackley has personified fear. This prolific masked serial killer has axed his way through hundreds during his reign of terror. He doesn’t kill because he’s crazy…
It’s just his job.
Hackley is one of the many masked killers employed at Revelation Killing Solutions, the third most profitable corporation in the growing industry. Hackley is the longest tenured team member in the “Slashers” division but has lost the enthusiasm he once had for the job.
Fun with Hackley is a comedy feature film that chronicles the adventures of Hackley as he stumbles at the office and rethinks his life, love, and career. Hackley struggles with an incompetent manager, rival serial killers and antiquated rules as he tries to regain his love of killing.
The post Fun with Hackley Trailer Will Have You Laughing Your Axe Off appeared first on Dread Central.
Released earlier this year in Japan, Koei Tecmo’s Attack on Titan video game looked like a perfect adaptation of both the manga and anime that would be loved by fans, who were initially disappointed that there was no US release date. Those fears can now be put to rest, as along with releasing a brutal new trailer, they’ve confirmed that it will be stomping onto US shores on August 30th.
From the Press Release:
Following a successful launch in its native Japan, the eagerly anticipated action game will be released on August 30, 2016, across America under the title Attack on Titan.
We also confirmed that Attack on Titan will be available for players to enjoy on a wide selection of consoles and is currently being developed for physical release on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and for digital-only release on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®Vita handheld system, and on PC via Steam®.
Attack on Titan closely follows the riveting storyline of the anime’s first season and focuses on the exploits of various key characters, putting the player in a position to relive its most shocking, courageous, and exhilarating moments. It revolves around the story of three young people who survive the destruction of their walled city district by enormous, man-eating Titans and eventually go on to join the Scout Regiment in order to protect humanity from this overpowering foe.
The post Attack on Titan Game Stomping into the US in August; New Gore-Filled Trailer Unveiled appeared first on Dread Central.
Major League Baseball’s 2016-17 season kicked off a few days ago, and if you’re a fan of both that sport and the bloodsport depicted in slasher films, then you’ll want to check out the new trailer for Field of Screams, which brings vengeful death to the diamond!
Written, directed, and produced by the terrifically talented duo of Chris Bahr and Joe La Scola of Spectrum Video, the teaser trailer made its debut yesterday on the Lunchmeat Blog. Abounding with VHS aesthetics, Field of Screams also provides evidence of embodying that true-to-era random horror video rental feel. One watch, and it’s bound to be your new favorite baseball-themed slasher of all time.
The below trailer was created as a proof of concept in order to help fund a full-length feature from Spectrum Video. Stay up-to-date on their progress on the Field of Screams Facebook Page.
In Willow’s Grove, baseball is a way of life. After a bad call during a local championship game, a group of rabid parents corner Stumpy, the umpire. They get more than they bargained for when the encounter ends in murder. After almost a decade in a psychiatric hospital, Stumpy returns for revenge on the home team. Grab your peanuts and crackerjack because this bloodbath is going into extra innings!
Remember: Three Strikes… YOU’RE DEAD!
The post 80’s Inspired Slasher Field of Screams Hits a Trailer Outta the Park appeared first on Dread Central.
In addition to the news of the King Kong vs. Tarzan novel coming the summer, we’ve also learned that the boy who grows up to become the Lord of the Apes will be crossing over with another franchise about literal apes.
Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes sound like such a perfect crossover idea that I can’t believe nobody thought of it sooner. And with both franchises having new films being released in the near future, the timing is impeccable.
The five-issue miniseries is written by Tim Seeley and David F. Walker; Fernando Dagnino provides the artwork with covers by Duncan Fegredo. Here are the full details:
From the Press Release:
Announced at Emerald City Comicon, Dark Horse Comics will publish a new Tarzan tale with the help of BOOM! Studios, taking Edgar Rice Burroughs’s iconic hero to the Planet of the Apes in Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes.
Heavyweight writers Tim Seeley (Revival) and David Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist) will script a five-issue miniseries with Fernando Dagnino (Suicide Squad) on interior art and Duncan Fegredo illustrating stunning covers, making this a crossover event readers won’t want to miss!
“It’s a rare opportunity to get to work with two great properties, one great artist, and one hell of a co-writer, but Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes does just that for me,” said Tim Seeley.
In Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, Tarzan and the ape Caesar, raised as brothers but separated by slave traders, reunite when the war between man and ape takes them from the jungles of Africa to the center of the Earth.
“Planet of the Apes was crucial in sparking my imagination as a child and remains my favorite film franchise of all time. The creative challenge of combining that world with Tarzan, and the opportunity to do so with a great co-writer, an amazing artist, and a supportive editorial team was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” added David Walker.
This stunning crossover hits stands following the summer’s blockbuster film The Legend of Tarzan. Discover Edgar Rice Burroughs’s original superstar hero of the last century all over again at your local comic shop this September!
Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes Issue #1 (of 5) is in stores September 28, 2016.
The post Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes Comic Series Announced appeared first on Dread Central.
Capcom has announced a brand new Resident Evil virtual reality game. Unveiled at the Middle East Film & Comic Con, it’s called Resident Evil: Bio Terror, and not much is currently known about it, although people are speculating that it will be an on-rails light gun shooter similar to the Resident Evil: Chronicles games.
Unfortunately, it’s going to be exclusive to Hub Zero, a video game theme park in Dubai, which has also entered into deals to host games from several other publishers.
So whether or not Resident Evil: Bio Terror will ever see a home release remains to be seen, but it does seem unlikely that Capcom, which has a reputation for milking the cash cow so much that only the poor cow’s bones remain, would allow a game in one of its most popular franchises to be exclusive to one venue.
The post Capcom Announces Resident Evil: Bio Terror VR Game appeared first on Dread Central.
A school performance of Sweeney Todd turned into a real-life horror show earlier this week when two of the student actors accidentally had their throats cut, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Two razors were bought from an antique shop to be used in the play, which was being performed in the secondary school St Kentigern College, Auckland, on April 6th. Duct tape was used to cover the sharp edges, but clearly it wasn’t enough, with one boy sustaining a severe neck injury. Another young man received a slightly less serious, though still pretty nasty, injury; and both needed hospital treatment.
The scene had been performed “many times” since January, including eight dress rehearsals where the prop was used, according to St Kentigern head Steve Cole. Cole said he hoped the rest of the show’s run would still ruin – “without those particular props.” He added, “It was an unfortunate isolated incident.” The prop was covered “in all sorts of duct tape and foam and silver paper. It was a razor that you would expect to see in a production of Sweeney Todd. But it didn’t have a sharp edge. I’m very confident that the health and safety situation was strong.”
Thankfully, both boys have recovered and have likely been discharged. Don’t worry… they won’t be turned into meat pies.
I guess the main thing to take away from this is to be sensible when it comes to productions and to double-check all the health and safety elements. And not to be fucking stupid and try to cover a razor blade with duct tape.
The post Student Actors’ Throats Cut in Performance of Sweeney Todd appeared first on Dread Central.
Tim Clarke is the co-creator of Boglins – a toy that has undoubtedly become a cult favorite among toy collectors and nostalgia enthusiasts alike. Earlier this year Clarke announced the return of Boglins through several pictures posted on social media. The toy/horror/nostalgia world simultaneously rejoiced at the idea of a new line of monsters (including me — our household has four of them!)
So, in light of this simply spectacular news, Dread Central caught up with Clarke to find out which of the many Boglins created over the years hold a special place in his heart. This is what he told us:
1. Dwork! Because he so much resembles the original prototype that I sculpted.
2. Sponk! He’s the glow-in-the-dark Boglin. You’ve got to love that beautiful, squishy face.
3. Slobster! He is just so weird.
4. Gulp, the Mini Boglin! He lives in a hamburger – where else would a Boglin live?
5. The new Boglins! We are working on them now. They’re being produced by Clutter Toys and will be out this fall.
*Boglins were created by Tim Clarke, Maureen Trotto, and Larry Mass. They are licensed by 7towns.*
To keep up with all things Boglins, follow Tim Clarke on Instagram
The post Boglins Toy Creator Reveals His Top 4 Favorites; Details About the New Boglins! appeared first on Dread Central.
More often than not, short films stay short films, and the filmmakers either never get the chance to expand upon them or simply have no interest in doing so. But every once in a while, short films grow up to become big, beautiful features, and it’s those feature films with small beginnings that we’re here to talk about today.
You’ll notice that we’ve included each of the shorts down below, so feel free to watch ’em as you read!
THE EVIL DEAD
After making a handful of low-budget short films together, friends Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell decided to go bigger in the late 1970s, and make their very first feature length horror film. Of course, they didn’t exactly have enough money to do that, so they headed out to a friend’s farmhouse and made a 30-minute short called Within the Woods, essentially to show potential investors what they were capable of. Made on a budget of less than $2,000, the short film generated the attention they hoped that it would. Just a few years later, the idea of an evil force overtaking a group of friends in a remote cabin was expanded upon in The Evil Dead – one of the most beloved horror movies of all time.
TRICK ‘R TREAT
It was in 1996, while at film school in New York, that Michael Dougherty (Krampus) made a four-minute animated short film called Season’s Greetings – a delightfully creepy and atmospheric tale about a young boy trick or treating on Halloween night. Dressed in orange footy pajamas and wearing a burlap sack on his head, the short was our very first introduction to the lovable protector of Halloween known as Sam, who came to life a decade later in Trick ‘r Treat and instantly became a fan-favorite icon of the holiday. We love you, Sam. So very much.
In 2003, a bizarre seven-minute film called Rare Exports Inc. made its way onto the internet, written and directed by Jalmari Helander. The short followed three men as they hunted down a naked Santa Claus, and it became such a hit online that Helander expanded upon the idea for another short a couple years later, called Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions. Seven years after the original short was made, Rare Exports became a feature film, with Helander himself turning the boldly original idea into a truly magical fantasy adventure.
It was in 2001 that Leigh Whannell wrote the screenplay for Saw, which he and James Wan shopped around in their home country of Australia. Having no luck, the two moved to Los Angeles and decided to pluck out a scene from the script and bring it to life, hopeful that a visual aid would help sell their idea. Running just under ten minutes, the original Saw short starred Whannell as a man who gets kidnapped and locked in the infamous reverse bear trap – the role that Shawnee Smith ended up playing in the film. With the interest of producers piqued by the short, Wan and Whannell were given $1 million and 18 days to turn it into a feature, which grossed over $100 million worldwide and spawned six sequels.
In 2006, with a few shorts under his belt, Paul Solet came up with the idea for Grace, a twisted tale about a baby that needs a little bit more than formula and mother’s milk to stay alive. Realizing he didn’t have enough money to turn the idea into a feature, Solet instead adapted the opening scenes from the script into a five-minute short, taking it to the festival circuit in a bid to generate interest. Solet, who would walk around convention halls at the time carrying the dead baby prop from the short, caught the attention of Hatchet writer/director Adam Green, whose company Ariescope Pictures produced and released the feature-length expansion of Grace in 2009.
MORE Short Film Origins on the NEXT page!
Karyn Kusama’s breakout film was 2000’s award-winning Girlfight, and since then she’s gone on to direct Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body, and, most recently, The Invitation (review), which opened this weekend.
If you’re curious what movies Kusama herself might watch in her down time, then check out her curated collection of her top five favorite horror films for streaming service Shudder.
From the Press Release:
Shudder, the popular horror streaming service backed by AMC Networks, continues to add to its offerings for die-hard horror fans. This month’s guest curator, director Karyn Kusama, is the third in Shudder’s program, which kicked off in February with collections by director/writer Robert Eggers (The Witch) and Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes). Each guest curator carefully selects their top five horror films based on personal taste and impact on the genre. Shudder plans to continue the program on a monthly basis with collections from more guest curators.
The full collection by Karyn Kusama, now available on Shudder, is detailed below (with comments from the filmmaker).
Ganja & Hess
“This early ’70’s film about black identity, class politics, and vampirism plays across my memory like a beautiful hallucination. Bill Gunn made a stylish, kaleidoscopically ambitious film about lovers with a thirst for blood. It’s hard to find — so watch it pronto!”
“I remember seeing this film when it first came out in the mid-90’s and being struck by its twin narrative threads: the story of a man possibly entangled in a romance with a vampire and, more profoundly, the story of a man spiraling into catastrophic alcoholism. The film is an incredible thematic companion piece to Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction and is a grimy, vivid portrayal of a life getting very out of control.”
Let the Right One In
“One of the world’s rare perfect films, centering on a brilliantly realized main character, whose pre-teen loneliness and alienation help fuel a lifelong romance that’s doomed from the start. Utterly sublime filmmaking.”
Nosferatu, the Vampyre
“Four words: Herzog. Kinski. Adjani. Ganz. I don’t really think I need to say any more, but if you like vampire films (and judging from this list, I obviously do), this beautiful film is a must. In more traditional treatments of this story, The Count is a dashing seducer. I love that Herzog and Kinski allowed this Count to be monstrous from the start — there’s no Frank Langella suaveness in sight. AND THOSE RATS!”
The House of the Devil
“I love the simplicity and purity of this movie. Ti West’s film stuck with me in an unexpected way, probably because I spent so much time hanging out with the main character waiting for something momentous to happen. Once it does, you can’t really ‘erase the icky’ from your mind.”
Shudder houses a variety of films that span all decades and sub-genres of horror in detailed collections created by lead curators Colin Geddes, a prominent film aficionado and historian, and Sam Zimmerman, writer and expert on anything horror. Shudder’s growing library of curated horror is available ad-free and for unlimited viewing on Shudder’s website, mobile apps for iOS and Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, and the Roku platform with a free 14-day trial or $4.99 monthly/$49.99 yearly membership. To sign up or learn more, visit shudder.com.
About The Invitation:
In this taut psychological thriller by Karyn Kusama, the tension is palpable when Will (Logan Marshall-Green, Prometheus) and his girlfriend, Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi, Miles Ahead), show up to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden, (Tammy Blanchard, Into the Woods), and her new husband, David (Michiel Huisman, “Game of Thrones”). The estranged divorcees’ tragic past haunts an equally eerie present; amid Eden’s suspicious behavior and her mysterious house guests, Will becomes convinced that his invitation was extended with a hidden agenda.
Unfolding over one dark evening in the Hollywood Hills, The Invitation blurs layers of mounting paranoia, mystery, and horror until both Will—and the audience—are unsure what threats are real or imagined.
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