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Namco’s Horror Classic “Splatterhouse” Turns 28!

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 12:01

On the anniversary of Namco’s beat ‘em up horror classic, we hack and slash our way through what makes ‘Splatterhouse’ so special

“This will be your grave! Ha ha ha”

When horror in gaming is brought up, we understandably turn to the survival horror genre and its many titles for conversation topics. It’s not without good reason, as titles like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and even Dead Rising helped popularize the genre in the gaming medium in the first place. In spite of that, survival horror is hardly the only execution of the genre, and sometimes just lovingly sending up horror and all things creepy can be a more effective product than something that nihilistically has you thinking about ammo and health conversation. Namco’s Splatterhouse is a notable title for premiering in the arcade of all places in 1998, before eventually seeing ports to the PC-Engine, FM TOWNS and TurboGrafx-16 (the TurboGrafx version came with warning: “The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children… and cowards”). Namco’s eerie sidescrolling beat ‘em up would connect with such an audience that it would spawn a franchise of games and even a flashy 3D remake in 2010.

Splatterhouse tells the story of burgeoning parapsychology student Rick Taylor and his girlfriend Jennifer Willis, who go to the home of insane parapsychologist, Dr. West (who is intentionally supposed to not only be a Re-Animator reference, but might actually be the same character). Jennifer gets kidnapped and Rick is taken over by the game’s infamous “Terror Mask,” accordingly. This is actually a little more story than you tend to get in a 2D beat ‘em up of all things, but it acts as a serviceable premise that throws you into a haunted house of sorts. Each level reflects a new sort of horror staple with an archetypal boss waiting for you at the end, as you murderize your way to your princess.

Impressively, Splatterhouse comes courtesy of Shigeru Yokoyama who has no prior experience directing video games. He came from Galaga, of all places. In fact, the directors for the following Splatterhouse titles, Taiji Nagayama and the mysterious 100 Taro, are all newcomer directors, which is why it’s surprising that the Splatterhouse series has such a consistent track record. The original game is also the first console title to receive a parental advisory warning due to its violent nature and questionable content (such as an inverted cross being prominent during a boss fight in a chapel).

Coming as a huge fan of 2D beat ‘em ups, Splatterhouse is a delight, even if you’re not a horror fan (but obviously you are, otherwise why are you here?). It’s like if Streets of Rage or Final Fight were around during a time where it could have released some holiday themed DLC, with this being the result. Simultaneously, while video game adaptations from this era of big horror titles like Friday the 13th and Halloween are ambitious, messy failures, Splatterhouse beautifully functions as your surrogate solution. Yokoyama has stated that Friday the 13th and Evil Dead II are major influences on the title, and with all the other horror touchstones getting highlighted, it’s easier to just pretend this is some Poltergeist or Re-Animator video game.

Your basic beat ‘em up controls are in play here (along with a myriad of weapons that you can pick up and use at its disposable) and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s the game’s bosses where the gameplay especially shines. The game’s real creativity seems to be funneled here, as the bosses force you to incorporate strategy and different tactics rather than the usual “murder, rinse, repeat” that you’re doing in the levels. Some of the gems in Splatterhouse’s rogue’s gallery include a guy with two chainsaws installed as hands, a poltergeist boss that’s really just a room, and a monster that Jennifer turns into that’s actually frightening and upsetting—it even feels like a pre-cursor to some of the gruesome transformation sequences that would happen in Resident Evil. The game’s final boss, the Ultimate Evil, is also just super gross, especially for this era of gaming.

Beyond bosses, there’s also an exceptional soundtrack that amplifies all of the horror that’s going on, not to mention an impressive cinematic intro that kicks off the game in the original Arcade version of the title. The game even takes unexpected narrative twists like horror films are prone to do, such as the decision to actually kill Jessica at the end of the game, rather than rewarding you and Rick with some sort of happy ending. This of course nicely sets the scene for the game’s inevitable sequel, Splatterhouse 2.

Curiously, before Splatterhouse 2 hits the scene, an interesting side-story sees release for the Famicom Computer System. Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti might have only seen release in Japan and seems like it could be a non-canonical entry in the series at that, but it’s actually one of the more satisfying, creative titles in the Splatterhouse library. It’s actually a shame that this quirky title is often left out of the conversation and overlooked (some sort of localization or release via unlockable content seems long overdue at this point).

Wanpaku Graffiti employs a cutesy, super-deformed art style to the Splatterhouse universe in a move that actually works. The game sees Jennifer getting kidnapped from a giant evil pumpkin, with this almost feeling like a parody of the original game, rather than some sequel or side story. In your quest to find Jennifer, you encounter references to The Fly, Alien, The Exorcist, Jaws, Poltergeist, and there’s even an extended Friday the 13th riff in a level set at “Camp Diamond Lake.” In spite of Wanpaku Graffiti never leaving Japan, it’s got a surprisingly American frame of reference and sensibility. The first boss is even a vampire who greets you in a dance reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video.

There’s some inspired level design in play here too, with a sewer level that is particularly gorgeous. Its boss is a hilarious parody of Alien involved an enlarged, radioactive sewer rat, so what’s not to love here? Trick or treating level is also pretty inspired and looks exactly like what a game you’re playing on Halloween should look like. It also needs to be mentioned that the lighting effects and visuals for when you beat the Brundlefly boss are some of the craziest and most seizure-y that I’ve seen on the system.

One of my favorite touches about Wanpaku Graffiti is that the game surprisingly ends with a sound stage illuminating behind you and a director shouting “cut” (“That was some damn fine acting. This’ll be a great movie!”), only to reveal that this is all some movie that’s being filmed, not unlike in a Viewtiful Joe game. It’s almost as if this is the hokey Splatterhouse movie that is being adapted from the original game, giving this sillier tone a little context. That being said, what an ending this is, and I could see it being as contentious as Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Bros. 2 if more people were familiar with this title.

Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti introduces a parodical, hearty sense of humor that is absent from everywhere else in the series. There’s some foresight for the horror genre being shown here for their take on Splatterhouse, and in spite of this game being relatively underknown and generally (unfortunately) ignored in the Splatterhouse canon, there’s a lot to learn from this game. Can you imagine if Capcom released some satire of Resident Evil, where bosses and characters were intentionally meant to lampoon the franchise? I know we’ve seen clever jabs at franchises in works like Dead Rising, but I’m talking full-on satire. If horror films can do it, why not games, too?

Now Splatterhouse 2, the true sequel to Splatterhouse, sees Rick turning to the fray, trying to revive Jennifer, and ultimately succeeding in his task. Splatterhouse 2 is one of those prime examples of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” with this sequel playing nearly identically to its predecessor. Everything just looks a lot more polished and advanced this time around. Some gamers ended up taking exception to the small steps taken forward with Splatterhouse 2 and instead attacked it for its lack of innovation, but this is also a game where you get to chainsaw a baby to pieces, so you pick your battles. Admittedly, the gore quotient is upped greatly in the sequel (a luxury allowed by the game being developed for the Genesis, allowing them access to Sega’s more “mature” gamers), but this sort of material also has less of an impact now, due to it being a sequel. The game does manage to turn the Terror Mask into more of an actual character this time around, which isn’t a bad idea at all. The Mask talks and eggs Rick on throughout his journey, as if some sort of bloodthirsty version of Navi from Ocarina of Time.

Bosses once more are given special attention, with there being plenty of “giant face” battles, a boss that’s an unborn fetus (complete with umbilical cord that descends it onto the screen), a giant diamond, and a huge kraken that you get to fight from a boat. All of that being said, the final boss is kind of lame in the end… Beautifully, Splatterhouse 2 also lost most of its script in the localization process from Splatterhouse Part 2 in Japan. As a result, many of the changes in the game, like why there’s a new West mansion, have no answer. This certainly adds an extra b-movie quality to it all, too. The music is seriously incredible this time around, too. It’s so, so good, with each level delivering catchy, synth-y bliss that meshes with horror like viscera does with a machete.

As if learning from the few complaints regarding Splatterhouse 2, Splatterhouse 3 added some new elements to the series’ gameplay, refining the controls even further and expanding the title in fun ways. Splatterhouse 3 sees a nice twist in the narrative that involves Rick and Jennifer getting married, having a child named David, and getting their own house which in turn becomes haunted and the resident “Splatterhouse” this time around. This time Rick has to save his wife and son. Much like its predecessor, Splatterhouse 3 was a pretty big coup for the Genesis, with the game not seeing release on any other system. The new title differs from previous games in the series by introducing a time trial aspect which in turn alters various aspects of the game (like Jennifer dying in the second level, for instance) based on if you complete levels in time (kind of like Streets of Rage III’s set-up).

There’s also the addition of Eldritch orbs which let you power-up into new forms of “Badassery” when collected. Allowing this extra violence and ability to hulk out (pieces of flesh extend from your chest and become a weapon…so yeah) makes perfect sense for this sort of franchise, too. Your moveset also becomes more complex too, with you gaining the ability to pick up and throw your enemies, rather than simply punching or kicking. On top of all of that, the title also ditches the sidescrolling angle to get into non-linear exploration that encourages backtracking to collect items and find your exit. You’re even shown a map beforehand to help orient your gameplay, whereas such a thing would be completely unnecessary in the previous games. Even the bosses have a bit of a different energy this time around with one being a kid’s come-to-life stuffed teddy bear, a progressively hatching and evolving insect embryo, some Shadow Man that’s basically Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, and then ultimately a giant version of the infamous Terror Mask itself!

In spite of Splatterhouse 3 performing well both critically and in sales, neither Namco not Sega seemed that interested in pushing things further. The mind reels at what some version of Splatterhouse for the Sega CD or Saturn could have looked like. While 2D beat ‘em ups were progressively on the way out, that still didn’t stop a 3D remake of the game being attempted in 2010. Operating much like some God of War clone, Splatterhouse (2010) added fancy “splatter combos”, decapitations, and many “modern” touches. Whether these elements are necessary or not, in their own way they do sort of mirror the intense violence of the original games. 2010’s Splatterhouse is a loud, admirable flop that effectively put the final nail in the franchise’s coffin (for now at least). With audiences more recently embracing retro touches, and with horror never being more alive, perhaps it’s worthwhile to explore the Splatterhouse franchise once more. Some visionary giving their own take on the source material (like what Hideo Kojima did with Castlevania) could yield super interesting results. Until then, we’ll always have the boreworms.

Categories: Horror News

Ashley Greene Will Star in 90s Comic Adaptation of ‘Accident Man’

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:56

Ashley Greene (The Apparition, Twilight) has landed the lead in Accident Man, directed by Jesse Johnson, Deadline reports.

Said to have a Deadpool-esque tone, “The story centers on the life of Mike Fallon, a high-class hitman, known for making assassinations look like unfortunate accidents. Fallon’s cavalier attitude changes the day his ex-girlfriend, Beth is murdered. He teams up with Beth’s new girlfriend Charlie (Greene) on a murderous rampage to find out who killed her.

The film is based on a character from the graphic novel from the defunct monthly UK comic Toxic!, which was written by Pat Mills in the early 90s.

Principal photography begins this month in London.

Categories: Horror News

Alice’s Journey Ends On These ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ Posters

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:51

Here’s a pair of new posters, one international, for Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which brings back star Milla Jovovich as Alice for one final battle with Umbrella and Dr. Isaacs.

Ali Larter also returns as Claire Redfield, Iain Glen will return as Dr. Isaacs, with Shawn Roberts playing Albert Wesker once again. New additions also include Ruby Rose as Abigail, Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Doc, Cuban American actor William Levy as Christian, Fraser James (“Law & Order: UK”) as Michael, and Japanese model and TV personality Rola as Cobalt.

“Picking up immediately after the events in ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.”

Sony Screen Gems has Resident Evil: The Final Chapter slated for release on January 27th, 2017.

Categories: Horror News

‘Painkiller Jane’ Will Get Revenge

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:46

Deadline reports that Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, The Martian, Interstellar) is set to star in and produce Painkiller Jane, from the self-titled graphic novel series written by two comic legends, Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada.

Chastain will play Jane Vasko, a New York City street cop who gets recruited by the FBI to infiltrate a major NYC drug and human trafficking ring. In a near death experience, Jane develops exceptional regenerative abilities that give her a unique indestructible advantage. With nothing to live for and no way to die, Painkiller Jane becomes an unstoppable force of nature seeking revenge to those who destroyed her life as she leaves a path of death and destruction in her wake.

Lotus Entertainment’s Lenny Beckerman will produce along with Solipsist Films’ Stephen L’Heureux (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) and Chastain through her Freckle Films banner. Bill Johnson, Jim Seibel, Ara Keshishian and Palmiotti will exec produce.

The graphic novel series was published by Paperfilms.

Graphic novelist Palmiotti has penned volumes of “Deadpool”, “Jonah Hex”, “Punisher” and is currently writing “Harley Quinn” for DC Comics. Monilith, based on his graphic novel, is set up at Lionsgate.

Categories: Horror News

New ‘Safe Neighborhood’ Images Foreshadow Death

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:29

Bloody Disgusting has a pair of new shots from Chris Peckover’s thriller most excellent Safe Neighborhood starring Olivia DeJonge (M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit), Levi Miller (Pan, Jasper Jones, Terra Nova, Red Dog: True Blue) and Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Paper Planes, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), with Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actress Virginia Madsen (Candyman, Joy, Sideways) and Patrick Warburton (Crowded, Ted, Family Guy, Seinfeld).

Described as Home Alone meets Scream, Trace reviewed the film out of the Fantastic Fest premiere, calling it “a hilariously bonkers home invasion tale.”

‘Safe Neighborhood’ provides a bonkers twist on the home invasion sub-genre that had me squealing with glee from start to finish.

Set in a quiet American suburb on a snowy evening on the lead up to Christmas, Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), the regular babysitter for Deandra (Virginia Madsen) and Robert Lerner (Patrick Warburton), has to defend their twelve-year-old son (Levi Miller) from strangers breaking into the house – only to discover that this is far from a normal home invasion.

The thriller is a Storm Vision Entertainment and Best Medicine production, directed by Chris Peckover (Undocumented) and written by Zack Kahn and Peckover. The film is being produced by Storm Vision’s Brett Thornquest and Sidonie Abbene (Infini, Terminus, SFv1) and Best Medicine Productions’ Brion Hambel and Paul Jensen (Scenic Route, Natural Selection), and executive produced by Steven Matusko, Shane Abbess and Lorenzo De Maio.

Thanks to Fabien M.

Categories: Horror News

R.I.P. Musician Leonard Cohen Passes Away at 82

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 22:30

Very sad news as it’s been confirmed by Leonard Cohen‘s official Facebook page that the prolific singer/songwriter/poet/artist has passed away at the age of 82. No cause of death was given.

Cohen began recording music in the late 60’s and continued writing and releasing music as the years went on. Just three weeks ago, Cohen released You Want it Darker, his fourteenth studio album. He also authored several books of poetry and two novels, “The Favorite Game” and “Beautiful Losers”.

In 2008, Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and throughout the years he was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Grammy’s, Meteor Music Awards, Juno Awards, and more. His music was featured in a wide array of films, including Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, the TV show “Scrubs”, Watchmen, and “True Detective”, among many others.

Cohen is perhaps best known for his song 1984 single “Hallelujah”, which was popularized by a cover from Jeff Buckley. Since Rufus Wainwright’s cover was featured in Shrek, the song has gone on to achieve even more recognition and popularity, with over 300 cover versions known.

There are few people who leave behind such a legacy upon their passing. Cohen was more than just a musician, he was the voice for countless people and his music and words touched millions. We send out deepest condolences to his family during their time of grief.

Categories: Horror News

WORLD OF DEATH Ep. 26 – “Malice” / “The Munchies”

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 21:00

Our first short in today’s episode is one of the creepiest in World of Death.  In Michael Crum’s “Malice” a woman suffers from what I can only assume to be a series of deranged fever dreams involving some eerie and torturous Cenobite-like creatures (or alternate representations of herself).  Is this sequence drug induced?  Is this woman going mad?  Has she died?  You will find yourself asking the same questions by the end of “Malice”, but I really think you’ll enjoy the cool visuals, moody lighting, and creepy context of this film.

Our second directors Jason Overdorf and Brian Goren bring us back to the lighter side of things (if you want to call it that) with their short film “The Munchies.”  A man seems to be feeding quite a few indulgences between the weed he’s smoking, the cannibalistic horror film he’s watching, and the person he’s eating.  Wait, what?!  That’s right folks, this dude has a BAD case of “The Munchies” and the only thing that can satisfy his craving is YOU!

World of Death is the web series that fans of independent horror have been waiting for.  Featuring short horror films from all over the globe created by the largest variety of talent that a collection has ever been able to boast, WOD provides plenty of blood, guts, screams and laughs for all fans of the macabre.  And with episodes averaging around eight minutes in length, WOD is the perfect entertainment for a fan base constantly on the go.  Watch it anywhere, at any time, for FREE! New episodes premiere every Monday and Thursday at 7pm CST.




Categories: Horror News

Full Line of ‘Resident Evil’ POP! Vinyl Toys Unveiled

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 19:01

Just in time for the new movie!

Alice’s big screen story comes to an end this coming January in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and the beloved video game franchise that of course spawned the film franchise is headed into Funko’s POP! vinyl line in celebration. Six characters from the games get the vinyl treatment in the Resident Evil wave, including humans Jill Valentine and Leon S. Kennedy.

As you might expect, we’re more into the monsters, and the other four POP! vinyl toys bring the series’ various bad guys to the toy shelf. Up top you’ll see Licker, and Nemesis, Hunter, and Tyrant are also joining in the fun. What’s special about both Hunter and Tyrant is that they’re are a massive 6″ tall, and the super-sized toys are respectively exclusive to GameStop and Hot Topic.

Expect all the Resident Evil POP! toys to hit shelves in early 2017.

Hat tip to @FunkoTree for the images.

Categories: Horror News

‘Solace’, Which Was Once a Sequel to ‘Se7en’, Has a Trailer!

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 18:26

Centering on a doctor with psychic powers who is enlisted by the police to track a serial killer, Afonso Poyart’s Solace was once intended to be a sequel to David Fincher’s Se7en!

Now, Lionsgate Premiere is behind the film that stars Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Marley Shelton. It will be released in limited theaters on December 16th, which also means a VOD release around the same time.

Here’s the first trailer for the film to go along with the trailer and synopsis:

When FBI Special Agent Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is unable to solve a series of homicides, he decides to enlist the help of his former colleague Dr. John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins), a retired physician with psychic powers. The reclusive Clancy, who shuttered his practice and retreated from the world following the death of his daughter and subsequent break-up of his marriage, wants nothing to do with the case. He soon changes his mind after seeing disturbingly violent visions of Joe’s partner, FBI Special Agent Katherine Cowles’s (Abbie Cornish) ultimate demise. When Clancy’s exceptional intuitive powers put him on the trail of a suspect, Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell), the doctor soon realizes his abilities are no match against the extraordinary powers of this vicious murderer on a mission.

Categories: Horror News

Darren Lynn Bousman on His TENSION EXPERIENCE, Being Present, and a Movie Adaptation of His Haunt

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 18:04

It may not seem like the best place for a little rest and relaxation, but Darren Lynn Bousman and Clint Sears’ aptly titled ‘The Tension Experience: Ascension’ offers, in its own weird way, an escape from the confines of social media, conventional morality, and reality itself.

“This isn’t as necessarily about freaking you out as it is about making you feel uncomfortable and making you be present. It’s to get them out of the mundaneness. I mean, for me, it’s this: we’re so distracted by our cell phones and our technology. This is to immerse you in the story,” explains the Saw II-IV director and ‘Tension Experience’ creator Darren Lynn Bousman. “To me, it’s to make people present, to be in the moment, and to show that entertainment can exist outside of a TV screen or book. This is a play that requires you to be active, not passive. To me, that’s the future. I want people to be active in the entertainment they consume.”

When entering the premises, each participant is asked to leave their cell phone, purses, glasses, jewelry, and any other item of value or distraction in their cars. Although in this day and age it might seem odd to leave one’s phone behind, the point is to cut off a person’s constant connection to the reality, and fully immerse them in Bousman’s wicked little secret societal universe.

As Bousman himself puts it, “Think about it when was the last time you watched a movie, honestly, and weren’t doing something else. Checking email, texting somebody, tweeting, walking out of the room to grab a snack, I think to force someone to be present, where they can’t do that, we take away everything from you, and you have to be in the moment, your suspension of disbelief is much easier to do because you have nothing to distract you and I think that’s what I want to do.”

It’s very important to Bousman for people to leave what they know behind, and enter his structure with an open mind.

“I love immersive theater, I loved this thing called “Sleep No More” when I went to it in New York, which is, you are a simple character. You are in the production and it requires you to be active. You have to actually get out of your comfort zone and do things that make you feel uncomfortable. [For The Tension Experience], you come here, and come to this weird place, where you can talk to the actors and be someone you’re not, and I think that it does break people out of their shell.”

After your social media outlet has been taken away, it comes time to enter the OOA Institute, and begin the immersion process into the Church of Anoch. Normally, when it comes to haunted attractions, the experience may become a little frightening at times, but you’ll at least have your friends alongside you to laugh with you when someone jumps out and scares you. No such mercy is granted at the Tension Experience. First, you’re told to park your car in a dark and desolate parking lot somewhere in the realm of downtown Los Angeles. You’re then asked to sign a waiver agreeing to allow the actors of the Tension Experience to touch you, while simultaneously agreeing not to touch them. Next, you’re picked up by a stoic driver in a strange van and a bag is placed over your head. You’re then driven to an unknown location and dropped off one by one, separate from your friends, and told to pound on a door just before the van speeds off with everyone else still on board, and you’re left alone in the dark.

“There’s like three different storylines running at the same time, and each of those storylines has numerous things you can do in it”, says Bousman excitedly while describing his horrifying haunted attraction baby. “You can even do one where an actor will take you on a one-on-one. That means you can literally get in someone’s car and end up at a random gas station. So, like, the possibilities are endless, and it’s also a four-hundred-page script. It’s a living, breathing thing, and it continues to shift as you interact with it.”

After the van drops you off and you pound on the door, you enter a ‘50s style stark white waiting room with something akin to church music playing on the radio and a woman behind a desk smiling absurdly at nothing. She asks you to fill out some paperwork featuring some very personal questions, like your religious denomination and views on nudity. She tells you to say “Glory be” while you fill out your sheet and she plays with your hair and feeds you candy and stares at you openly without blinking; always smiling, always somehow seemingly on edge.

You’re then given a safe word (mine was COWARD) and led to another room that looks like a meeting area in a retirement home – if that retirement home happened to exist inside of a psych ward. Slowly, one by one, people you recognize begin to enter the room, but it’s not long before you’re separated from them again, and ushered down a hall with a bag over your head, all the while trusting that these people aren’t leading you to some strange torture chamber. There’s more processing to be done, some of which includes removing your clothing and changing into a hazmat suit, and some of which asks you to close your eyes and describe how you would punish an abusive mother if you were God. In here, it feels less like an organization, and more like an endless labyrinth, filled with twists and turns and unholy secrets begging to be explored.

In one room, I was told my senses were “being removed” as I was blindfolded and given earbuds that played nothing but static while people threw hot wax on me and forced me to eat random items. In another, I stepped into a blood red lit confinement filled with sand and talked openly about my sexual experience with strangers while fully naked people wearing tribal gear stalked slowly around me. At one point, I was even kidnapped and taken off site and forced to bear witness to a man being murdered, as a bag was again thrown over my head and I listened to the man’s pleas while I heard his brain being bashed in and felt bloody brains shoot up onto my arms and chest, all before being escorted back into the institute, which by this point, I thought I might never be leaving. The entire time, I realized slowly, that this was unlike anything I had ever done before. Usually, when it comes to haunted houses, the thrill is all in the seconds where a person or an effect jumps out and scares you. This wasn’t about frightening its audience for a moment, it was more about the creeping dread; the sensation that something was sneaking up behind you, and that you be safe for the moment, but that moment is about to end.

After the experience was through, which took around two and a half hours total, I was brought behind the scenes to speak with the ringleader himself, Mr. Darren Lynn Bousman. Backstage, Bousman stands in front of a monitor that displays thirty different little screens for each individual room, so he can see what is happening every single moment of the way. From there, he conducts his actors, recites instructions, and in the meantime takes little breaks to tell me about his unique immersive experience. It is a true peek behind the wizard’s curtain.

“I think what I love about this is how much it’s evolved from where we started. I think if I were to do this with Abattoir or Saw, there’s already pre-defined character base and what it looks like. There’s not room to for it to grow. With this, we’re constantly building upon to let it change, so it’s gone 180 degrees from where we started. I love that it’s its own thing, but what the idea is that this thing will turn into a movie. The storyline will turn into a film after this closes. And it’s the idea of taking one piece of property and having numerous things. It’s an immersive experience, it’s an ARG, it’s a movie, it’s an online game. That way you’re having one narrative that’s told over three or so different platforms and each platform is furthering the narrative. Not retelling it, it’s furthering it. So if you come in on the ARG you hear the storyline, and then if you start here, it’s a different storyline continuing it, and then the movie would pick up where this thing ends.”

When asked to expand upon the idea that eventually this would all be turned into a movie, Bousman confirmed that he is, definitely, planning on making a ‘Tension Experience’ film. According to him, the movie will begin production in January of 2017.

“The script was written long before this” Bousman tells me matter-of-factly. “The movie is what got this made, so I have a script for this. The script is about uh, it’s quite different, but it deals with an immersive experience gone awry. So the movie actually deals with an immersive experience gone wrong. There are so many things that could go wrong in this that uh – I have blood on my face don’t I?”

I laugh and tell Bousman that yes, he does indeed have blood on his face. After everything I had gone through during the evening, I just assumed he had done it on purpose. He grabs a tissue and begins wiping the blood off of his cheek as he continues to describe his plans for the movie adaptation.

“It’s not a horror film. It’s a kind of psychological heist movie about how an immersive theater company…here’s the thing. What’s so scary about these type of productions is, someone could come in and change the script, do whatever. People submit themselves to this, and they do whatever we ask them to do. Eat this, sniff this, take this, pull the trigger on this gun. How do you know what reality is? So, it deals with [the actors] manipulating people who go through the immersive experience, but it’s very much Reservoir Dogs, which is kind of a departure, and that’s how I got this finalized. The producer, Gordon Bijelonic, read the script and was like, ‘We gotta make this’. I was like, ‘Let’s make the immersive experience first’. And we created the brand name around The Tension Experience. And so now, it’s kind of blowing up.”

All in all, ‘The Tension Experience: Ascension’ was the most immersive and exhilarating haunted attraction I have ever participated in, and if you think you can handle it, you should do so immediately. This is an experience definteily worth checking out – showrunner Bousman is a master of manipulating people into leaving what they think they should know behind and readjusting their sense to accept a new way of thinking, even if it’s just for a few hours. After all, when it comes to the latest event in holiday themed terror, it’s not about the scares, it’s about the tension.

“What kills me and what would kill me is this ends, and it’s written off as just another haunted house. I think that the choreography and the acting ability, I mean these actors are so fucking incredible, that I want to see more of these things, and I think the only way that more of these things exist is if people know about them and know what immersive theater is. This is the type of entertainment that I, personally, as a fan of this stuff, want to see more of” says Bousman with fire in his eyes. “I think that that’s where this is important, as an artist, as a filmmaker, as a director, I think we have to look for new ways to engage an audience. That’s always been my thing as a director. How does an artist engage? This. This is how you do it. You force them to do something that forces them to be present.”

November 12th marks the final weekend of the ‘Tension Experience’, so make sure to get your tickets and get sucked in to this intricate odyssey through the strange and the macabre while you still can. Glory be to the church of Anoch, to the OOA institute, and most of all, to the twisted mastermind Darren Lynn Bousman.

Categories: Horror News

New ‘Shut In’ Clip Revs Up the Paranoia

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 17:59

A new clip from the supernatural abduction horror/thriller Shut In has come out and it’s not really all that exciting but it does speak to the level of fear and concern that will be present in the film. If you want something a bit more exciting, I recommend watching this clip from earlier today.

Charlie Heaton (“Stranger Things”) and Oliver Platt (Flatliners, Lake Placid) also star in the thriller directed by Farren Blackburn and written by Christina Hodson.

A child psychologist living an isolated life in rural New England is struggling to put her life back together after the loss of her husband. She’s a strong woman whose courage is put to the test when she’s caught in a deadly storm, trapped in her home, and cut off from the world around her.

Shut In hits theaters tomorrow, November 11th.

Categories: Horror News

HBO’s ‘Beware the Slenderman’ Documents Real-life Attempted Murder Inspired by Meme (Trailer)

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 17:52

After premiering at last March’s SXSW Film Festival, HBO has set a January 23 premiere date for Irene Taylor Brodsky’s Beware the Slenderman documentary.

Based on the iconic character that started on the Something Awful forums years ago, “In this horrifyingly modern fairytale lurks an online Boogeyman and two 12-year-old girls who would kill for him. The entrance to the internet quickly leads to its darkest basement. How responsible are our children for what they find there?”

Trace reviewed the film out of the world premiere exclaiming it “will terrify you, but not in the way you might expect…”

We now have the trailer for the the documentary from HBO Films, who is also behind some fantastic stuff like last year’s mind-blowing “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”.

BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN tells the story of the internet’s elusive Boogeyman and two 12-year-old girls who would kill for him. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier lured their best friend into the woods, stabbed her 19 times, then set out on an odyssey to meet the tall and faceless man known online as Slenderman. Shot over 18 months with heartbreaking access to the families of the would-be murderers, the film plunges deep down the rabbit hole of their crime, a Boogeyman and our society’s most impressionable consumers of media. The entrance to the internet can quickly lead us to its dark basement, within just a matter of clicks. How much do we hold children responsible for what they find there? (SXSW)

Here’s a story we wrote in 2014 about the real-life attempted murders.

Categories: Horror News

Fan Uses WWE 2K17 Video Game to Create Elaborate Horror Federation

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 17:00

Welcome to… the RING OF HORROR.

Horror fans are some of the most creative and talented human beings on this planet, and we’ve got yet another example of that awesome creativity for you today. If you’re a fan of both horror and wrestling, you will absolutely love what one fan has done with the recently released video game WWE 2K17: he literally created an entire federation that’s full of nothing but horror icons.

Appropriately titled Ring of Horror, the custom-made federation was made using WWE 2K17’s community creations mode, which allows gamers to create their own superstars, title belts, shows and arenas. The man behind the massive undertaking is Anthony Sketch, and as he explained to us, he even came up with a brilliant backstory to explain how all the icons came together.

Sketch explains:

Ring of Horror features a total of 36 Horror icons, both heroes and villains. 20 men and 16 women, all beating the crap out of one another to be the “King of Horror Champion” (Men’s Division), “Queen of Scream Champion” (Women’s Division), or the “Hack and Slash Champions” (Tag Team Division).

The arena is custom made to fit the horror feel, and also has an interesting backstory.

The host of Ring Of Horror, Guile, is using the Necronomicon to bind them all to the arena, unable to kill each other, fighting for the entertainment of others. Currently nobody knows why, but people are too busy enjoying themselves to care.

The roster of horror icons in the Ring of Horror federation includes the big slasher villains like Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Leatherface, and Sketch also created characters such as Ash Williams, Herbert West, Candyman, Cassie Hack, Jigsaw, Pennywise, and Trick ‘r Treat‘s Sam. Coolest of all, this custom content can be downloaded to your own system so you can play along.

Preview the federation below and then feel free to watch a horror icon Royal Rumble!

Categories: Horror News

[Video] 5 Reasons You Need to Binge “The Exorcist” Right Now!

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 16:14

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but we’ve reached a point where there’s almost too much great horror TV to choose from. Between “Ash vs Evil Dead”, “Scream” and “The Walking Dead”, horror fans have it pretty good. There’s one show that’s being looked over, though and at this point I’m confident in saying that it’s one of the best of them all – “The Exorcist.”

The show’s painfully formulaic first episode coupled with the fact that it airs on Fridays isn’t doing it any favors, but I’ve taken the time every week to watch it with my parents’ cable login online, and each episode has improved on the last markedly. There’s great twists, awesomely disturbing moments featuring insects (and of course vomit) and a genuine care for the original film that most modern re-imaginings wouldn’t take a second to think about.

I could go on all day here, but I already made a video with five of the biggest reasons you need to binge FOX’s “The Exorcist” as soon as possible. You can watch it below.

Categories: Horror News

“American Horror Story” Continues to Be the Worst

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 15:20

I realize half this country isn’t in the best of moods, and probably can do without additional negativity, but I’d be remiss to talk about how god awful this season of “American Horror Story” has become.

Weirdly, the sixth season of “American Horror Story”, dubbed “Roanoke”, started off with a whimper. But what it had going for it was the mystery behind it; it was captivating enough to keep this writer tuning in week after week. Co-creator Ryan Murphy then promised a major twist, which actually paid off quite a bit; when it was revealed that the first five episodes were a documentary, it changed how those episodes were perceived, giving them instant value. It was an earth-shattering move that would also up the ante for the following episodes, allowing the filmmakers to get their hands really dirty. Unfortunately, this is when the show fell apart and never recovered.

The season is only 10 episodes long, thankfully, which is why I’m toughing through this. I was hoping that it would eventually come together, but ultimately it’s a disaster that’s worse than any of the previous season finales (they’re all disappointing). I think that one thing is clear now: Ryan Murphy and his team of writers are not horror fans, and don’t understand the genre at all. “Roanoke” started as a typical “American Horror Story” drama, which is why it worked, but once they entered “our” territory, well, that’s when they dug themselves a hole they could never climb out of.

The second half of “Roanoke” is nothing short of mean-spirited trash, void of any social commentary or meaning. It’s bleak, cold, soulless garbage that aims to hurt the audience for the sake of shock value instead of telling a story. The past two episodes were a complete mess, dropping any effort to entertain by forcing audiences to watch nearly two-hours of people screaming, yelling and being tortured for absolutely no reason whatsoever. While the show seemingly delivers on its promise, it’s sloppy filmmaking at best that comes from a place of horror imitation instead of from those who love our genre (see: “American Horror Story: Roanoke” Paid Tribute To Cannibal Holocaust Last Night).

This may be harsh but I hate, no, no, scathe this season of “American Horror Story” and don’t wish it upon anyone. I think it’s time for Murphy and FX to hang it up, but unfortunately they’re now talking about mixing seasons into a super season that will, and I guarantee this, leave us all disappointed (again).

Here’s a look at the season finale boasting yet another unprecedented twist that will surely drop the ball…

Categories: Horror News

“American Horror Story: Roanoke” Paid Tribute To ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ Last Night

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 14:54

Poor Taissa Farmiga. Poor, sweet Taissa Farmiga.

Series creator Ryan Murphy has been known to pay tribute to horror films past in “American Horror Story,” but last night we saw a tribute (or a rip-off, if you prefer to call it that) that we certainly did not expect to see. The latter half of “American Horror Story: Roanoke” has taken on a full-on found footage style, and last night homaged the original found footage horror film.

Long before The Blair Witch Project came along and made the sub-genre popular, director Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust played around with the docu-filmmaking style that wouldn’t become a full-blown sub-genre until many years later. In fact, the film was presented so realistically that many people, at the time, believed Deodato had actually killed his entire cast!

On “AHS” last night, the film’s most shocking moment was recreated.

The ninth episode of “American Horror Story: Roanoke” introduced new characters in the form of your typical found footage victims, one of whom was played by series regular Taissa Farmiga, and two of the adventurous pals were killed by their curiosity when the Roanoke ghosts captured them. They were tossed to the ground and, well, giant skewers were shoved through their butts.

Yes, Farmiga’s character and the character’s friend were turned into human shish-kabobs by the vengeful ghosts, and then posed much the same way as that ill-fated woman in Cannibal Holocaust. They were then set on fire and burned alive, taking that moment from Deodato’s film to a whole new level of shocking and horrifying. If there’s one thing “AHS” loves, it’s shock value.

We screen-grabbed some shots for you below, in case you missed it.

As we’ve noted, this season of “AHS” has also paid tribute to The Blair Witch Project.

Categories: Horror News

The Tale of ‘Ghost Stories’ and its Hilariously Offensive Dub Track

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 14:42

In 2000, animation studios Pierrot and Aniplex created a TV anime series called Ghost Stories (Gakkou no Kaidan), which was directed by Noriyuki Abe and loosely based on a book series by Toru Tsunemitsu. The story is rather basic: A young girl moves to a new town, befriends some of the local students, and then finds out that pretty much the entire town has ghosts roaming throughout. Yes, there are more details to connect all the dots but that’s the gist of it.

Anyways, the anime pretty much failed miserably, which is why there was only one season that featured 20 episodes. According to, Pierrot sold the rights to the show in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy back in 2005. When ADV asked what conditions there were for the series, supposedly they only got these three rules:

1. The overall story should be intact.
2. It had to be lip synced correctly.
3. No names could be changed. [Source]

ADV took this as an opportunity to create something wildly different and, in my personal opinion, absolutely fantastic. It was something that I don’t think anyone anticipated, nor could they have. What they did was turn the story into one gigantic running gag line, making things up as they went along. Rather than follow the story perfectly, they kept the overall concepts but then radically changed the characters and their lines simply because they thought it’d be funny. Hell, there are even rumors that the first person in the office on any given day was the person who got to call the shots!

I have to warn you that some of the jokes are not “politically correct”, so keep that firmly in mind if you watch the below compilation. There’s a great description of what happened from voice actor Monica Rial that you can watch on YouTube where she even states that they wanted to be, “…equal opportunity offenders“.

Also, you can watch the first episode of Ghost Stories over at Crunchy Roll.

Categories: Horror News

[Holiday Gift Guide] The Official ‘Re-Animator’ Re-Agent Candle!

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 13:36

We’ve got a little something for every horror fan on your list!

One of the most iconic “weapons” in the horror genre’s history is Dr. Herbert West’s needle full of glowing green re-agent serum, which he initially hopes to use to bring the dead back to life. Of course, things don’t quite go as planned, and the re-animated corpses are, well, murderous monsters who mostly just want to kill everyone and everything in their path. Oops.

In the first wave of his officially licensed Re-Animator collection, Cavity Colors artist Aaron Crawford has turned Dr. West’s serum into a candle, and it’s the perfect gift for the Re-Animator fan on your list this year. The 12oz “Re-Agent” candle is made of 100% soy wax, and the lime green wax turns dark green once lit; when it dries up, it takes on a flesh tone. How fun!

The first edition is limited to just 300 citrus-scented candles, and they go up for grabs today, November 10th, at 5pm EST. You can grab one exclusively in the Cavity Colors shop beginning at that time, where you’ll also find the complete Re-Animator collection. Other goodies include two shirts, an ugly Christmas sweater, two enamel pins, and even an embroidered patch.

The Re-Agent Candle is guaranteed to bring you back to life!

Categories: Horror News

5 MORE Scariest Moments In Non-Horror Movies!

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 13:21

Earlier this year, Trace wrote up a great selection of some of cinema’s scariest moments in non-horror movies. The piece collected several scenes that scared Trace and, frankly, I can completely understand why. Judge Doom is a creepy son of a bitch and the face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Yeah, that gave me nightmares for MONTHS as a kid!

Since Trace offered his picks, I thought I’d come in with a few of mine to see if you all relate to them as much as you related to his! So, let’s get to it!

Requiem for a Dream – “Feed me, Sara”

I personally feel that this movie is absolutely a horror film. While it doesn’t have a monster or specific villain, per say, it does tackle the horror of addiction and how it can absolutely destroy lives in the most terrifying ways imaginable.

The below scene comes when Ellen Burstyn’s character is in the midst of a complete hallucinatory breakdown and her world is crashing all around her. It’s the beginning of the end and it’s all because of her desire to fit into a red dress. Such a little thing became an obsession and destroyed her life. I honestly don’t remember a movie that punched me in the gut quite like Requiem For a Dream. I do know that I never need to see it again.

Krull – That Fucking Spider

I know I’ve made it clear here before but just in case you didn’t know I fucking hate spiders! These little bastards, with their spindly legs and their freaky fangs, can just piss right off and never come back, for all I care.

This fear has been with me ever since I was a very, very young child, so imagine my revulsion and horror when I was watching the incredible fantasy film Krull and the below scene occurred. it was years before I could watch the movie again and even then I had to cover my eyes during this scene. Just finding it to embed it for all of you gave me the shivers.

Gravity – Debris

We covered Gravity pretty extensively on here but I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s not really a horror film. Is it one of the most tense and anxiety-provoking movies in recent memory? Absolutely. And the below scene, where all the debris from the destroyed satellites comes flying at (and through) our main characters, really nails down that sense of helplessness and terror. After all, even if they escape that swarm of machinery, where can they go? They’re in freaking outer space!

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure – Large Marge

I’m sorry, I thought this was a kid’s movie and not a damn HORROR STORY ‘ROUND THE CAMPFIRE URBAN LEGEND FREAKSHOW!

Tim Burton’s first feature-length film was a sign of the surreal and almost magical style that he would bring to titles such as Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. It was also a sign that he absolutely loved horror and darker, more gothic elements. When parents took their children to see this movie, I doubt they were expecting the titular character to run into a ghost whose face goes all “oogedy boogedy” for spooky effect.

Say what you want but any kid that saw that movie will never, ever forget Large Marge.

Return to Oz – Princess Mombi

In one sequel, we went from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to “Sometimes I Get Electroshock Therapy”. Seriously though, how twisted and demented was Return to Oz, the sequel to the timeless classic Wizard of Oz? It’s a rather delightful fantasy film that isn’t a musical like its predecessor but boy did it go dark!

There is perhaps no greater example of how freaky this movie got than Princess Mombi and her hall of interchangeable heads. Even the Wheelers had nothing on this scene, which shows cases of heads all screaming at Dorothy after she steals the powder of life. And to take it over the top, that head that’s guarding the powder is Jean Marsh, who played Bavmorda in Willow, another unsettling and evil character.

Categories: Horror News

Director Shares Original Treatment He Wrote for ‘Lights Out’; Way Different Ending

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 12:48

With each flicker of darkness we see the silhouette get closer and closer…

This past summer was a great one for the horror genre, and one of the gems that hit the big screen was director David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out. Clever, spooky, and armed with a surprising amount of emotional depth – in his review, Trace Thurman called the film a “frightening study of mental illness” – Sandberg’s feature debut was one of this year’s pleasant surprises.

The film was based on Sandberg’s same-named short from 2013, which quickly went viral here on the internet, and if you dug it as much as we did, you might be interested in reading the director’s original 17-page treatment. Sandberg (@PonySmasher) shared the treatment over on Twitter this week, and included with it a creepy woodcut image he made of villain Diana.

As Sandberg noted, “A lot changed but a lot also stayed the same,” and the most interesting change from treatment to screen was in regards to the ending. In the film’s somewhat controversial finale, Sophie (Maria Bello) kills herself to rid her family of the demon attached to her, but in Sandberg’s treatment, it’s actually a police officer who accidentally shoots Sophie. Furthermore, Diana – a demon who feeds on grief and is essentially a physical manifestation of depression – attaches itself to Sophie’s young son Martin, possessing him much like Sophie herself.

Click the link to check out the original Lights Out treatment!

In the film:

When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.

Categories: Horror News