The Japanese culture is absolutely fascinating and stretches over tens of thousands of years. Over that time, many myths have come and gone, some staying and becoming a part of the country’s history and entering modern era stories, folklore, music, movies, and more. Many of these legends contain terrifying creatures and entities that are utterly terrifying in concept and design. And over the years, many Japanese artists have created their own visions of these monstrous beings.
While many of us horror fans may only know Japanese horror of the past two or so decades thanks to the rise in J-horror films as well as the ease with which we can import such films, I wanted to dig much further back to these historical pieces that boggle the imagination and showcase nightmarish demons.
Below are several examples of these masterful pieces of art.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre”
Kuniyoshi was an artist who was born in the late 18th century and is considered by many to be one of the last great masters in the style of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, which waned in popularity in the 19th century. He created pieces that included many different subjects, ranging from samurai warriors to kabuki actors to animals and more.
One of his most horrific pieces is a triptych titled “Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre”, which depicts a princess reading from a scroll to summon a gigantic skeletal phantasm to protect her from the hero of the myth.
From the British Museum via Surprise Round:
Princess Takiyasha was the daughter of the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado who tried to set up an ‘Eastern Court’ in Shimōsa Province in competition with the emperor in Kyoto. However, his rebellion was put down in AD 939 and Masakado was killed. After his death, Princess Takiyasha continued living in the ruined palace of Sōma.
This print shows the episode from the legend when the emperor’s official, ōya no Mitsukuni, comes to search for surviving conspirators. The princess is reciting a spell written on a handscroll. She summons up a giant skeleton which comes rearing out of a terrifying black void, crashing its way through the tattered palace blinds with its bony fingers to menace Mitsukuni and his companion.
The triptych currently resides at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Artist Unknown “Tsuchigumo no soushi”
The Japanese had a mythical creature (yōkai) that was called the Earth Spider, a terrifying amalgamation that featured the face of an oni, a body of a tiger, and the legs of a spider.
Originally, the term tsuchigumo was a derogatory term for renegade clans who did not swear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan. Many of these clans took refuge and made their homes in caves, emerging much like the Chinese Bird Spiders, that the myth may be based on, do when they search for food. This information came from the renowned Edo period historian Motoori Norinaga.
“The basic story begins with the illness of Raikou. A priest is sent to pray for him, but the priest is actually the spider in disguise. It soon reveals itself and entangles Raikou in its web. Raikou slashes his way free but the spider escapes during the struggle. Raikou’s four retainers, usually known as the “Four Guardian Kings” (shitennou), eventually find the spider and kill it with Raiko’s famous sword which they rename Kumokirimaru (Spider-cutter). [Source]”
A print resides at the Tokyo National Museum.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi “The Earth Spider Generates Monsters at the Mansion of Lord Minamoto Yorimitsu”
Another masterful triptych from Kuniyoshi, this piece tackles the issue of nightmares as the Earth Spider is sending forth demonic creatures to haunt the dreams of Lord Minamoto Yorimitsu, all while his retainers sit around conversing and playing Go.
The evil Earth Spider conjures up a battle of demons to torment the unwell Raiko (Yorimitsu) in his sleep (far right), whilst his retainers play go. This design got Kuniyoshi into trouble with the authorities because it was felt that it was a caricature of the Shogun Ieyoshi (ruled 1837-53) and his hated chief minister, Mizuno Tadakuni (1794-1851). As a result the blocks were destroyed. Despite the controversy, soon after, the print’s popularity resulted in two pirated versions being produced from completely re-cut blocks, each with notable differences when compared to the original.
Various versions of this print can be found in Boston, Tokyo, and London.
Kurimoto Tanshu “Kappa drawings from mid-19th century Suiko juni-hin no zu”
The Kappa is an example of a Suijin, or a “water deity”, from Japanese legend. These creatures can range in terms of their intentions. Some of the Kappa are known as flesh-eaters that, when captured, will offer their services or impart their knowledge. Others are though to be rapists, impregnating women. Other still attack animals, specifically livestock.
Interestingly, according to myth, the favorite food of the kappa is a cucumber. Additionally, they are at their weakest when attacking livestock because they enter stables, which means they are more easily caught.
The below print can be found at the National Diet Library in Tokyo.
Utagawa Toyokuni “Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan Onoe Matsusuke as the Ghost of the Murdered Wife Oiwa, in “A Tale of Horror from the Yotsuya Station on the Tokaido Road”
Supposedly, Ju-On‘s Kayako was inspired by this haunting tale. The story goes that a woman by the name of Oiwa was disfigured (sometimes the tale says she was murdered) by her husband, whom she haunted and pursued. When he went to remarry, her ghostly face appeared on the face of his bride. In terror, he swung his sword to behead the ghastly apparition only to behead his wife. He was ultimately killed by Oiwa’s brother.
According to Ju-On Wikia, simply telling this story is dangerous as it has a curse upon it. Filmmakers who use it as an inspiration for their own movies will apparently go to the grave of Oiwa in Tokyo to pray and ask for her blessings.
Toyohara Chikanobu “Kiyomori in a Snowy Garden of Skulls”
Some of Japan’s prints are not necessarily of demons of the flesh but more so demons of the mind. The actions of one’s past can haunt that person for the rest of their lives, as evidenced in this haunting ukiyo-e woodblock print.
“The subject of this painting was a very brutal warlord by the name of Taira Kiyomori. He killed many people, including members of his own family. Kiyomori is shown facing his snow covered garden, contemplating his life’s consequences. At the end of his life, he is now haunted by images of skulls and skeletons sculptured in the snow. [Source]
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi “Insatiable Old Woman”
Above I mentioned that Utagawa Kuniyoshi is considered one of the last great ukiyo-e masters. Well, Yoshitoshi is considered the very last master of the art. And his piece “Insatiable Old Woman” is a prime example of his abilities.
The piece is a representation of a scene from the folk tale “Shita-kiri Suzume” (translated as “Tongue-Cut Sparrow” and depicts the punishment of an old woman after her previous acts.
The full story follows that of an old husband and wife couple, the latter of whom is greedy and selfish. One day, the husband, while out cutting wood in the mountains, finds an injured young sparrow, which he brings home to nurse back to health. The wife is upset that her husband would waste their food on such a creature.
One day, the husband goes out to the mountains and leaves the sparrow with his wife, who goes fishing and leaves the sparrow alone in their home. Upon returning, she finds that the sparrow has eaten starch that was left out. In a fit of rage, she slices off the sparrows tongue and releases it back into the wild where it flies away.
When the husband comes home, he is distraught by this event and goes into the mountains to try and find the sparrow. He finds himself in a grove where a sparrow inn is located and he is invited in and treated kindly and lovingly by all the sparrows inside, including the young sparrow whose life he saved. The birds want to give him a present, so they present two covered baskets, one small and one large. He is allowed to choose only one, so he opts for the smaller one as it’s going to be the least heavy to carry back home from the mountains. When he arrives home and opens it, he finds treasures, delighting his wife. However, when she learns that there is a larger basket, she sets off to find it so that she may take it.
When she arrives at the sparrow’s inn, they grant her the basket but warn her not to open it until she gets home. Of course, her wicked selfishness doesn’t allow her this and she opens it on the path back home only to unveil creatures and demons which sprang out and startled her so much that she fell down the mountain to her death.
Quick heads up to those of you who are planning on getting the Dead Island Definitive Edition when it hits PC, PS4 and Xbox One next week — for PS4 owners, only the original game is included on the disc, so you’ll need to download Riptide.
Deep Silver confirmed the news on Twitter, saying “On XB1 it is on the same disc. PS4 discs don’t support multiple games, so there Riptide comes as a download code.”
When their followers pointed out the problem with that statement — Uncharted, Borderlands and Metro have all had shared disc bundles — the publisher clarified their wording, adding “We could’ve worded that better,” and “You need a separate menu, you can’t just put two games on disc the same way as on XB1.”
This isn’t a huge deal, more of a small annoyance really. It’s just unusual. When GameSpot pushed further, all they got was “There are limitations where you are unable to have multiple multiplayer experiences on the same disc, unfortunately we can’t comment further.”
Oh well. At least I was able to learn some more neat bits from their Twitter page, like how all three games will come with 1,000 GS points, or whatever the trophy equivalent of that is. It makes sense for the first two games to be treated like the full retail releases they were originally, but it’s mildly surprising that Retro Revenge is getting the same treatment.
Night School Studios has announced they’re bringing the original soundtrack for their supernatural teen thriller Oxenfree to vinyl, courtesy of the fine folks at iam8bit.. The deliciously atmospheric OST is the work of SCNTFC (Sword and Sworcery), and it may very well be my favorite video game OST of 2016 thus far.
The soundtrack is fantastic, but it isn’t the best thing about Oxenfree. There’s a lot to love about this charming ghost story, and I did my best to go over all of it in my review.
The audio/visual stuff is top notch, particularly the former, which benefits from some stellar sound design, quality voice acting and the OST I mentioned earlier. What surprised me is how well it works as a game and as a delivery device for a surprisingly emotional story. It actually makes having conversations with NPCs a joy to have, and that’s no small feat.
It has a satisfying narrative that can be seen through to the end over the course of an evening or two, but it’s the cast of refreshingly complex characters — sans the stereotypical teen angst garbage these games often rely upon — and the dynamic relationships between them that really carries the story. I usually cared more about my fickle relationships with my virtual friends than the vengeful spirits who were actively trying to murder them.
Anyway, it’s a good game, and it’s coming to PS4 on May 31 for $19.99, or $14.99 if you’re a PS Plus subscriber. The vinyl OST costs $35, and it’s available for pre-order over here.
Another major content update is coming soon to Saibot Studios’ indie horror game Doorways: Holy Mountains of Flesh, bringing it one step closer to leaving Steam Early Access. The update will build on what was added in Act 2: The Mansion back in March, as well as set the stage ahead of the arrival of the final act, The Temple, which will finally bring an end to the trilogy.
So far, Holy Mountains of Flesh has been a worthy finale to the series. I didn’t finish the first Doorways, but its sequel, The Underworld, was fantastic.
We won’t have to wait more than a few weeks for the release of the penultimate chapter in the Holy Mountains story, though I might suggest you enter the eponymous temple with caution. The folks at Saibot seem like good people, but “[We] hope you like what you see and get ready for what’s coming inside The Temple…” is a fairly ominous tease.
Methinks we won’t be too fond of this temple surprise. No, not one bit.
Killmonday Games is an indie studio founded and comprised of “two Swedish game developers of madness” — their words, not mine — with Isak Martinsson handling the technical stuff (coding, design) while Natalia Figueroa takes care of the audio/visual bits, like art, music and animation. The extremely talented duo are the creators of last year’s memorable 2D horror game Fran Bow, which you absolutely need to play, if you haven’t already.
Fran Bow is a still-new entry in a subgenre I sometimes refer to as sad horror. I’ll admit that’s not a terribly catchy label for these uniquely personal stories of genuine psychological terror, but it feels appropriate as these games often revolve around well-meaning protagonists with debilitating mental illnesses.
Killmonday recently posted an hour-long making of video for their darkly quirky adventure game that covers three years of its development, from 2013-2016. If you’re a fan, I highly recommend you check it out.
In Fran Bow, the young girl who serves as its main character is described as struggling with “a mental disorder and an unfair destiny.” I’m sure many of us can sympathize.
Neverending Nightmares is a similarly themed game designed by Matt Gilgenbach, who’s been open about his own war against mental illness and how the game doubled as both a creative outlet and a sort of therapy. A more recent example would be The Town of Light, a non-traditional horror game set in 1938 Italy that released back in February. It’s about a 16 year-old Renée who’s forcefully committed to a mental institution because “she didn’t know what her place in the world was.”
Krillbite Studio’s indie hit Among the Sleep touches on similar themes with its portrayal of a deeply troubled family that’s been torn apart by addiction, and specifically the impact that can have on children. Their next project, Mosaic, isn’t a horror game, but it too covers a topic we can all relate to: the mundaneness of adulthood.
Seeing as the oppressive tedium and impossible expectations of fame, fortune, and physical perfection that come with modern adult life are often cited as significant contributors to the mental illness epidemic of anxiety, depression and low self-worth that continues to quietly devastate millions of people, I believe it fits.
I might even include Erin Reynolds’ experimental, biofeedback-driven horror game Nevermind in that group, though it’s less interested in telling a story, and more about helping those who currently struggle with stress and anxiety develop an awareness of these issues, as well as help develop the tools to combat them.
We desperately need more games like these. Zombies, aliens, vampires, ghosts, demons, serial killers and animatronic abominations will always have a place in our favorite genre, but it’s so important that games developers don’t rely exclusively on these familiar foes when there are so many alternatives to choose from.
Mental illness is a different kind of scary. You might not understand it as intimately as someone who’s endured the slow death it brings, but you probably know someone who has. It’s still somewhat stigmatized in our society, and I think video games and the brilliant people who create them can help change that in a way that movies, books and television cannot.
Because if you haven’t felt the profound impact that depression or its myriad cousins can have on the mind, then it’s games like these that are in a unique position to help. And they’re scary, too. The psychological terror here is based in a reality that far too many of us know exceedingly well, and they’re not so easily vanquished.
Mental illness claims too many lives, and not just literally, but also in the passion for life it often drains from its unsuspecting host like an insatiable parasite. So please, you exceptionally gifted builders of the virtual worlds we love to explore, keep being brave. We need courageous storytellers like the devs I listed above, because this industry is broken in a way that keeps these stories from being told by more mainstream games.
What are your thoughts on this? Would you like to see more games like Fran Bow, Neverending Nightmares and The Town of Light, or not so much?
Stevie Calabrese was a contestant in SyFy’s “Face Off” who was eliminated in the 11th episode of the 9th season, making her a force to be reckoned with when it comes to special FX makeup. And even though she lost, that doesn’t mean she’s stopped making awesome creations.
Take, for example, her recent cosplay outfit as the Sugar Plum Fairy that was made infamous in the 2012 meta horror film The Cabin in the Woods. Calabrese faithfully reproduced not only the face but the entire outfit, bringing to life the terrifying maw faced creature that haunted the dreams of so many.
You can see photos of the cosplay below as well as a video of it in action!
— Stevie Calabrese (@AsSeenOnStevie) May 26, 2016
Today, AMC.com released the Director’s Commentary on the “Preacher” (read my review) pilot, in which series executive producers and directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg give viewers an exclusive inside look at the premiere episode of “Preacher,” which debuted on May 22.
In the premiere episode, written by Sam Catlin and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Jesse struggles to escape a past that is slowly catching up to him. A mysterious entity comes to earth, leaving a wave of destruction in its wake.
An encore airing of “Preacher’s” pilot episode will air Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 29 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT followed by the debut of the after show “Talking Preacher” at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT with series star Dominic Cooper and series executive producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin as guests. New episodes of “Preacher” resume on Sunday, June 5th at the series regular time of 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
“Preacher” is a supernatural, twisted and darkly comedic drama that follows a West Texas preacher named Jesse Custer, who is inhabited by a mysterious entity that causes him to develop a highly unusual power. Jesse, his badass ex-girlfriend Tulip and an Irish vagabond named Cassidy come together and when they do, they are thrust into a crazy world populated by a cast of characters from Heaven, Hell and everywhere in between. The series stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Neggaas Tulip, Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, Lucy Griffiths as Emily, W. Earl Brown as Sherriff Root, Anatol Yusef as DeBlanc, Tom Brooke as Fiore, Derek Wilson as Donnie Schenck and Ian Colletti as Eugene/Arseface.
Netflix nabbed Mercy late last year, which Chris Sparling — who wrote the 2010 Ryan Reynolds thriller Buried and Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees — wrote and directed.
“Mad Men’s” James Wolk and “Master of Sex’s” Caitlin FitzGerald star in the home invasion thriller, which will have its World Premiere at the upcoming Los Angeles Film Festival.
“When four estranged brothers return home to say their last goodbye to their dying mother, Grace, hidden motivations reveal themselves. The family’s already tenuous bonds are tested when secrets from Grace’s past resurface, causing a restless night to go terribly awry as the brothers are thrust into a fight for their own survival.”
Tom Lipinski (“The Knick”), Michael Godere (“The Affair”) and Dan Ziskie (“House of Cards”) also star in the film, which is produced by XYZ Films’ Kyle Franke and Nick Spicer and Uncorked Productions’ Andrew D. Corkin along with Robyn Bennett. Netflix is planning on using its new model where it releases the film in theaters first and soon after makes it exclusively available on Netflix.
Brace yourself for one of the most unflinchingly original wild rides when the adrenaline-fueled action hit Hardcore Henry (read my review) arrives on Digital HD on July 12, 2016 and on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on July 26, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and STX Entertainment. Filled with non-stop action and thrilling adventure, Hardcore Henry is the first film shot completely in first-person shooter perspective.
The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD feature even more explosive thrills with deleted scenes and commentary with the director and actor/producer. Be the first to own Hardcore Henry, starring Sharlto Copley (Chappie, District 9, Elysium), and immerse yourself in an exciting new world as you become the title hero!
“You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife who tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. If you can survive the insanity and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity.”
From the director of the viral first-person shooter music video, Biting Elbows’ Bad Mother F***er (Ilya Naishuller), and the producer of Wanted (Timur Bekmanbetov), Hardcore Henry is a groundbreaking action hit that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before!
BONUS FEATURES ON BLU-RAYTM AND DVD
- Deleted Scenes
- Fan Chat: Director Ilya Naishuller and Star Sharlto Copley answer fan questions about how Hardcore Henry was made.
- Feature Commentary with Director/Producer Ilya Naishuller and Star/Executive Producer Sharlto Copley
Harking back to the first film, the new one-sheets for Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence takes across the globe to destroy all the famous landmarks!
“We always knew they were coming back.
After ‘Independence Day’ redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.”
Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film stars Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe (It Follows), and Sela Ward.
Independence Day: Resurgence invades theaters on June 24th, 2016.
Inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 feature film, HBO’s “Westworld,” a drama is billed as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin, is back on track for a fall premiere, although no date is set.
Ed Harris stars as ‘The Man in Black’ – described as the distillation of pure villainy into one man – who stars alongside Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Kyle Bornheimer and more. The Box‘s James Marsden plays Teddy Flood, a mysterious new arrival to a small frontier town. Teddy quickly proves both his charm — and his talent with a revolver — while his pursuit of a local beauty launches him on a dark odyssey (source: EW).
In the below promo you get a taste of the modern adaptation, which has a serious Matrix vibe to it. And while there’s quite a bit of sci-fi imagery, it also looks pretty violent. I’m loving this concept fully realized as the original film feels both dated and “small,” considering how far our technology has come in 40 years.
It hails from The Dark Knight and Interstellar co-writer Jonathan Nolan.
“People who come into this place are looking for—and this is the irony of it—the authentic experience,” Nolan explained to EW last year, before the delayed production. “They’re looking for not the virtual version, but the real version, the tactile version. Interestingly we’ve arrived at what [the original film] created—fully immersible virtual worlds. Look at Grand Theft Auto or any of these wholly imagined open-world video games. They are beautiful. They’re perfectly immersive and brilliant and filled with narrative turns … “What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld.” It’s a place where you can be whoever the f–k you want to be and there are no consequences. No rules, no limitations.”
Saban Films has acquired North American rights to writer-director Zack Whedon’s feature helming debut, Come and Find Me, says THR.
The film stars “The Path” and “Breaking Bad’s” Aaron Paul, as well as Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class, The Mummy).
“The thriller follows David (Paul), who must track down the whereabouts of his mysterious girlfriend (Wallis) after he realizes she’s not who she was pretending to be.”
The deal comes on the heels of Saban Films picking up the gender-reassignment thriller Tomboy: A Revenger’s Tale earlier this week, as well as Stephen King’s Cell, Rob Zombie’s 31 and even Backtrack, starring Adrien Brody and Sam Neill.
Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Midnight Special), Motion Picture Capital’s Leon Clarance (“Sense8”) and Oddfellows Entertainment’s Chris Ferguson (Afflicted) produced Come and Find Me. Laure Vaysse and Jo Monk executive produced.
”The most unfettered imagination belongs to young people, and they don’t walk through life; they fly” – Rod Serling
In 1963, “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling was interviewed by Australian radio presenter Binny Lum. The interview goes over a great many topics, including the now infamous show, which Lum admits to never having seen (and Serling takes it in very stylish stride).
Serling also talks about Japanese “Kamikaze” cab drivers, how science fiction predicts the future, and his own writing routine, which involved writing for at least three to four hours every day of the week.
The video is just over five minutes and it’s charmingly and delightfully illustrated, so I definitely recommend giving this a watch. Additionally, there’s a wonderful write up on the Blank on Blank page, which is where this series was created.
Gates Motel Looks like something I should backspace over, but no, it’s an actual thing. Grounded in the very obvious reference in its title, the game will require players to survive a night in this Psycho-inspired locale, collecting items in an effort to reach a phone and call the police.
Judging by the pre-Alpha footage, it appears that the progression will take players through the motel and up to the scarily-reproduced version of the “Gates” house. Gameplay appears to be a little rudimentary, but it’s early yet, and the inclusion of the word “puzzles” can be a red herring. Puzzles these days can be as simple or as complex as the developer sees fit, and I’ve played about as many “wander around this spooky environment and collect things” as I can stomach.
Here’s the basic premise (from the Steam page):
The game puts players in a motel off the main road, where they will play as a woman who has to confront two kinds of nightmares: The owner of the establishment as well as her own, deep, dark fears. Your job is to avoid the same fate previous tenants had to suffer while making your way to the telephone to notify local authorities and be rescued.
A video of the pre-Alpha footage can fill in some of the details for you:
The black-and-white art style is a nice touch and a bold one, as well. It hearkens back to the Hitchcockian aesthetic of the inspirational material. I especially dig the main menu screen, but a menu screen does not a game make. The early question, the one right out of the gate, is: what of what we see right now will be intact in the final, released version?
Odds are, the name, at the very least, will have to change…unless the developers really dig lawsuits and whatnot. What intrigues me more is what fundamental aspects of Gates Motel will go through an overhaul. Sure, the title’s difference from the movie is the equivalent of a faulty keyboard press, but there are also plenty of cosmetic similarities that render the game a giant question mark. Can they get away with a virtually identical reproduction of the motel / house from Psycho?
And then, if all of that is changed, then what is interesting about it? The mechanics are a mystery, as of this writing. It appears to be a collectibles-based survival game, where progression is based on what you pick up through searching. However, if we come to the game for the mouthfeel of a Hitchcockian experience, and it changes, then what is going to be the appeal?
Gates Motel is on track for a fourth quarter release on PC from Patagonia Art, whose previous release is entitled Pixel Survivors. No word on VR support just yet. It’s in a pre-Alpha state right now, so it’s unplayable at present moment, but it is up for voting over on Steam Greenlight. If that’s something you’d like to see on Steam, then go check it out.
The first officially released shot from the set of Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant has been released. The photo shows a production monitor that reveals an image from the shoot of Katherine Waterston laying against the wall of a hallway, a weapon of some sort resting against her leg, wires exposed and hanging from the ceiling and a fire in the distance. Clearly, something has gone awry in the events leading up to this moment.
Michael Fassbender is returning as Prometheus‘ android David, with Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Jobs, The Babysitters) leading a new crew that includes Demian Bichir and the hilarious Danny McBride (“Eastbound and Down”), as well as Alex England (Gods of Egypt), Billy Crudup, Amy Seimetz (A Horrible Way to Die, “The Killing”), Jussie Smollett (“Empire”), Carmen Ejogo, and Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills).
Alien: Covenant is currently shooting in New Zealand. It is scheduled for theaters on August 4th, 2017.
This year marks the 20th year of the almighty Fantasia International Film Festival, the grandaddy of North American genre festivals. The first wave of films and special guests has just been announced and it’s clear for their big 2-0, Fantasia isn’t fucking around.
The entire lineup of 130 feature films will be announced in full in the coming weeks, but this afternoon the madmen up in Montreal released the first slate of their lineup, which includes world premieres from Steven Shainberg (Secretary), Mateo Gil (Vanilla Sky), and a new one penned by one of my personal favorite filmmakers working today, Adrián García Bogliano (Late Phases, Scherzo Diabolico – a film I hope all of you have watched by now, for the love of all that is holy).
Oh, and attached all casual like to the top of the press release is word that Guillermo Del Toro and Takashi Miike will be in attendance. Del Toro will be accepting the prestigious Cheval Noir award while Miike will be bestowed the goddamn Lifetime Achievement Award. Two absolute genre titans at one festival. This is tremendous.
A CHEVAL NOIR FOR GUILLERMO DEL TORO
The 20th edition of the Fantasia Film Festival will be presenting leading genre filmmaker Guillermo del Toro with its prestigious Cheval Noir Award, which del Toro will accept in person in his first-ever Montreal appearance. Del Toro, best known for such fantasy and horror classics as PAN’S LABYRINTH, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, CRONOS, CRIMSON PEAK, and the HELLBOY movies, will also deliver a Master Class at Fantasia. In addition, del Toro will host the Canadian premiere of Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet’s CREATURE DESIGNERS: THE FRANKENSTEIN COMPLEX, a fascinating documentary on the history of movie monstermakers, in which he is featured prominently in.
A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR TAKASHI MIIKE
The Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to be presenting Director Takashi Miike, one of the most groundbreaking filmmakers of his generation, a Lifetime Achievement Award. No other filmmaker has left a mark on Fantasia’s first 20 years as he has. Since our screening of FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION in 1997, which was the first time Miike’s unique vision was shown in North America, no fewer than 29 of his films were showcased at the festival, including such modern classics as AUDITION, ICHI THE KILLER, and VISITOR Q. Miike’s work also opened Fantasia three times with YATTERMAN and North American premieres of the Cannes selections FOR LOVE’S SAKE and SHIELD OF STRAW. In addition to receiving his award, Takashi Miike will be hosting the North American Premiere of TERRA FORMARS, a sci-fi extravaganza where a team of misfits must fight humanoid cockroaches to colonize Mars, and AS THE GODS WILL, a surreal deathgame where Japanese traditional objects turn playground amusement into modern video-game blood baths.
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF STEVEN SHAINBERG’S RUPTURE
Steven Shainberg, celebrated iconoclastic filmmaker behind SECRETARY and FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS has returned to the director’s chair with his first full-on genre work, which we are thrilled to be unveiling to the world. RUPTURE is a provocative and startling sci-fi/horror/thriller about a single mother struggling to escape from a mysterious organization that have abducted her, starring Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, and Michael Chiklis. Produced by Andrew Lazar, Christina Weiss Lurie, Steven Shainberg of Tango Pictures, and Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi of AMBI.
KIYOSHI KUROSAWA’S CREEPY BERLINALE SMASH COMES TO CANADA
After forays into auteur cinema like the magnificent TOKYO SONATA (Un certain regard Jury Prize at Cannes 2008), J-horror pioneer Kiyoshi Kurosawa, whose classics CURE and SÉANCE were adored at Fantasia in their day, makes a triumphant return to the horror thriller genre with the Berlin Film Festival selected Hitchcockian horror thriller CREEPY, which will be screened in Canadian Premiere. Kurosawa brings terror to a quiet neighborhood where an ex detective and his wife have to deal with their deranged new neighbor spectacularly brought to the screen by the excellent Teruyuki Kagawa.
GET READY TO SCREAM AS FANTASIA TURNS THE LIGHTS OUT
Fantasia will be presenting a Special Screening of David F. Sandberg’s hotly anticipated horror film LIGHTS OUT, in which a woman is haunted by a creature that only appears when the lights go out. Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Billy Burke, and Alicia Vela-Bailey star.
IT’S ALIVE!? NO, IT’S REALIVE (World Premiere)
The provocative new film (formerly PROJECT LAZARUS) from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Mateo Gil (screenwriter of THE SEA INSIDE, VANILLA SKY, director of NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY, BLACKTHORN) presents a modern spin on FRANKENSTEIN, where the emphasis rests on the emotional and psychological ramifications of reanimating the dead. Tom Hughes stars as a man awakened from cryogenic sleep 60 years into the future who must adjust to a life that left all his loved ones behind.
ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM: GRADUATION
One year after hosting the International Premiere of the long awaited manga adaptation ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM, a Fantasia 2015 fan favourite, the festival will have the pleasure of screening the North American Premiere of ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM: GRADUATION, the conclusion of Director Eiichiro Hasumi’s diptych. All the students from class 3-E are back to eliminate Koro Sensei before he destroys the planet, but unexpected revelations about his past will change the game and bring a whole new threat over the beloved characters of this ultimate crowd pleaser.
A SPECTRAL WHITE COFFIN FROM ARGENTINA
Argentinean horror steps into a bold, new dimension in Daniel de la Vega’s grisly supernatural shocker WHITE COFFIN (World Premiere), scripted by brilliant filmmaking siblings Adrian and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano. Fantasia is thrilled to be opening WHITE COFFIN’s diabolical lid for the world to discover its horrific secrets, where child kidnapping, afterdeath resurrection and occult ritualism are intertwined for an unspeakable purpose.
A VERY RED CHRISTMAS FROM AUSTRALIA
Christmas day becomes a hellish homecoming in Craig Anderson’s RED CHRISTMAS (International Premiere), an unusual Australian horror/comedy gorefest starring beloved genre vet Dee Wallace (HILLS HAVE EYES, THE HOWLING, E.T.) that’s at once an over-the-top rollercoaster of a slasher film and a confrontational sociopolitical hand grenade.
YEON SANG-HO IS BACK WITH SEOUL STATION
The Korean capital’s central subway station becomes a maze of terror in Yeon Sang-ho’s SEOUL STATION (Canadian Premiere), an electrifying, socially incisive and ultimately heart-wrenching animated zombie chiller from the acclaimed director behind THE KING OF PIGS (Satoshi Kon Award at Fantasia 2012), THE FAKE, and the Cannes 2016 sensation TRAIN TO BUSAN.
AN INVISIBLE MAN UNLIKE ANY THE SCREEN HAS SEEN BEFORE
A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible in THE UNSEEN (World Premiere), an unconventional and compelling dark horror drama from Canada. The feature debut from Vancouver special make-up effects maestro Geoff Redknap, whose work was seen in DEADPOOL, ELYSIUM, WATCHMEN, and CABIN IN THE WOODS, to name a few, THE UNSEEN stars Aden Young, Julia Sarah Stone, and Camille Sullivan.
Fantasia is proud to be unveiling the first Canadian showing of the astonishing Spanish feature PSYCHONAUTS, from BIRDBOY creators Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero. A fraught, even frightening animated surrealistic fairy-tale blessed with beautiful handcrafted artwork that’s bound to leave viewers more than a hint haunted. Winner: Best Animated Feature, Stuttgart Film Festival 2016, Official Selection: Annecy 2016, Holland Animation Film Festival 2016.Additional First Wave Highlights Include
USA – Dir: Darren Lynn Bousman
The murder of her family leads a real-estate reporter into a nightmarish mystery in this ghoulishly original film that haunts the netherworld between blood-soaked supernatural horror and hardboiled neo-Noir. Darren Lynn Bousman, the man behind REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA, SAW II-IV, and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, has returned. Official Selection: Los Angeles International Film Festival 2016. International Premiere
THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK
USA – Dir: Joel Potrykus
Sean has dropped out of life, set up shop in a small trailer in the woods, and decided to pursue the forbidden art of alchemy. An irreverent, abrasive, and horror-infused take on modern-day alienation that plays like a punk-rock EC Comics tale, from the acclaimed director of COYOTE, APE, and BUZZARD. Official Selection: SXSW 2016, Nashville Film Festival 2016, BAMCinemaFest 2016.
USA – Dir: Zachary Shedd
A film editor must battle his own demons when an on-set eruption of violence leads to a deeper, darker conspiracy. A beautifully brooding neo-Noir, more calculated and compelling with every twist and turn. Official selection: Seattle International Film Festival 2016. International Premiere.
France – Dir: Benjamin Rocher
A police squad’s rough and unconventional methods are challenged just as a rash of robberies put Paris on edge. Jean Reno stars in this explosive, captivating, and highly entertaining action film. North American Premiere.
Quebec – Dir: Pat Tremblay
All is well in the land of the mad, in the latest surrealist opus from Pat Tremblay (HELLACIOUS ACRES), twisted titan of the Quebec underground. One thing is certain — rational thought has left the building and hasn’t left a number where it can be reached. Official Selection: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2016. North American Premiere.
THE BACCHUS LADY
South Korea – Dir: E J-yong
Senior citizen So-Young takes in a mixed-race kid while tending to her many clients. A thoroughly compassionate and revealing look at the lives of aging prostitutes in South Korea – with a murderous twist! Official Selection: Berlinale 2016 (Panorama). Canadian Premiere.
BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE
USA – Dir: Tim Reis
What’s the deal with all those frogs in the gas station’s makeshift basement laboratory? This old-fashioned creature feature is a goopy new lab sample of the growing Atlanta, GA horror scene featuring hand-crafted make-up effects designed and created by James Sizemore. WINNER: Audience Award, Best Feature, Chattanooga Film Festival 2016. International Premiere.
Turkey – Dir: Mehmet Kurtuluş, Ayşe Ünal
Forget FRITZ THE CAT, this is GARFIELD-goes-BAD LIEUTENANT! Guaranteed fun for cat lovers, fans of international animation, and hopeless degenerates. Which one are you? Official Selection: Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival 2016. North American Premiere
China – Dir: Yue Song
The new master of the Iron Kick clan sets out in search of a lost friend, earns a job protecting a rich man’s daughter, and clashes with a criminal gang in one of the most exciting and auspicious martial arts films in years! Canadian Premiere
CHIHAYAFURU PART 1 & PART 2
Japan – Dir: Nori Koizumi
Chihaya is driven like few shojo heroines are: she wants to become the world champion of karuta, the traditional, competitive card-playing game mixing ancient poetry, extreme hand speed, and almost violent card tossing. Adapted from the acclaimed manga, this perfect blend of coming of age tale and exhilarating sports drama will make you laugh, cheer and probably shed a tear. North American Premiere.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Germany – Dir: Stephan Rick
A psychedelic mushroom trip turns a successful lawyer into a wanted man in this tense and violent thriller starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Jürgen Prochnow. Official Selection: Zurich Film Festival 2015, Hamburg Film Festival 2015. North American Premiere.
USA/Poland – Dir: Claire Carré
Since the apocalypse, humanity has been deprived of its memory. Two strangers wake up together. Are they somehow connected? A thoughtful science fiction tale from a promising new voice in independent cinema. Official Selection: Oldenburg Film Festival 2015, Slamdance 2016. Winner: Narrative Feature Jury Award, New Orleans Film Festival 2015. Canadian Premiere.
THE GREASY STRANGLER
USA – Dir: Jim Hosking
The feature debut of absurdist advertising genius / acclaimed short filmmaker Jim Hosking is the grossest father-son comedy you’ll ever see and the weirdest serial killer film on the planet, propelled by an in-your-face drive to baffle, nauseate, and antagonize with its bizarre brand of humor. Produced by a superteam that includes Elijah Wood, Josh C. Waller, Ben Wheatley, Tim League, and Ant Timpson. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, SXSW 2016. Canadian Premiere.
Thailand – Dir: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Workaholic Yoon has a more serious medical condition than stress-induced rashes. He’s starting to show the symptoms of serious heartache. Paging pretty Dr. Imm! A pitch-perfect rom-com from a rising Thai star director. WINNER: Thailand National Film Association Awards (Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing). Official Selection: Osaka International Film Festival, Udine Far East Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
New Zealand – Dir: Taika Waititi
A troublesome teen and a cranky old man get tangled up in a wild manhunt through the New Zealand bush in this intelligent, hilarious, and original adventure that is the biggest homegrown kiwi hit of all time. From the co-director of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Tribeca Film Festival 2016, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2016. Quebec Premiere.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE
USA – Dir: Ti West
A drifter comes to mining town Denton, home to criminals, bullies, and hustlers and all hell begins to break loose in this witty, tense, and grisly Western from maverick horror maestro Ti West starring Ethan Hawke, Karen Gillan, and John Travolta. Official Selection: SXSW 2016 International Premiere.
Canada – Dir: Felipe Rodriguez
Stripped bare and confined in an Arizona basement, a group of undocumented Mexicans are beaten and brutalized in an attempt to extort money from their families. A brutal powerhouse laced with a claustrophobic tension. Official Selection: Manchester Film Festival 2016, Newport Beach Film Festival 2016. Winner of the Chairmen’s Award at the 2015 San Diego Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dirs: Michael Borowiec, Sam Marine
The latest gem to emerge from the loose U.S. wave of personal indie genre visions of recent years that includes such singular works as THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE, BELLFLOWER, and RESOLUTION, MAN UNDERGROUND is a very special and uncomfortable film. A sometimes funny, sometimes frightening work of intense paranoid drama with chilling elements of sci-fi and an incredible lead performance from FLAKED’s George Basil. Official Selection: Cinequest 2016. International Premiere.
India – Dir: Shakti Soundar Rajan
Karthik’s orderly life is upended when his beloved sister disappears — and a strange virus transforms everyone around him into bloodthirsty ghouls! There’s no time to sing and dance in the first Tamil zombie chiller!
Canada – Dir: Matt Johnson
In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history. An astonishing new creation from the brilliant team behind THE DIRTIES. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Hot Docs 2016. Quebec Premiere.
USA – Dir: John Carchietta
Picture-perfect teens Annie and Jules are in love, and have made a plan. A cautionary tale of sorts about mad teenage love, growing up on the Internet, and the kind of poor decisions that characterize life lived to its fullest… or shortest. Official Selection: SXSW 2016, Independent Film Festival of Boston 2016. International Premiere.
THEY CALL ME JEEG
Italy – Dir: Gabriele Mainetti
Can a small-time crook who unexpectedly gains incredible, unnatural powers turn his life around and become a crusader for good? A smart, slick, stylish, and very Italian take on the superhero action adventure, loaded with colorful characters and clever ideas. Winner of the Silver Scream Award at the Imagine International Film Festival, Amsterdam. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dir: Richard Bates Jr.
Owen and Isabel are hatefully in love, and soon to be parents. Can a road trip to visit mysterious distant family save their relationship, or are they opening a rotting Pandora’s box of secrets, lies, and murder? An acerbic, hilarious horror-comedy from the director of EXCISION and SUBURBAN GOTHIC, starring Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, and Annalynne McCord. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Chicago Critics Film Festival 2016. Canadian Premiere.
UNDER THE SHADOW
Iran/U.K./Jordan – Dir: Babak Anvari
Amidst the horrors of the Iran-Iraq war, a terrifying djinn may be stalking a mother and daughter’s missile-struck apartment. A bold new leap in Persian-language cinema, UNDER THE SHADOW repurposes the conventions of genre storytelling into frightening new form, delivering an emotionally pulverizing experience in fear that also functions as gripping sociopolitical commentary. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Seattle International Film Festival 2016. Quebec Premiere.
WE ARE THE FLESH
Mexico – Dir: Emiliano Rocha Minter
A brother and sister fall into the clutches of an uncanny entity whose dark rituals demand that they break every imaginable taboo. Courageous viewers, prepare for a journey deep into the heart of darkness that counts Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Carlos Reygadas among its enthusiastic supporters. Official Selection: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016. North American Premiere.
WE GO ON
USA – Dirs: Andy Mitton, Jesse Holland
Miles is prepared to pay $30,000 for proof of any sort that life may go on after we die. For better or for worse, he’s going to get an answer. Engrossingly intelligent and character-driven, full of stunning curves and surprises, and utterly frightening, WE GO ON is one of the most gripping paranormal explorations that cinema has seen in years. An absolute triumph of resourceful independent filmmaking. Winner: Audience Award, Best Feature, Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival 2016. Official Selection: Cleveland International Film Festival 2016. Canadian Premiere
WOMEN WHO KILL
USA – Dir: Ingrid Jungermann
Commitment phobic Morgan (director Ingrid Jungermann) and her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr), locally famous true crime podcasters, suspect Morgan’s new love interest (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT’s Sheila Vand) is a murderer. A smart, introspective black comedy that won a richly deserved award for Best Screenplay in a US Narrative Feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. International Premiere
A second Wave of titles will be revealed in June, with the festival’s full lineup of screenings and events being announced on July 5th.
The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal July 14 – August 2, 2016, once again returning to the mammoth Concordia Hall Cinema as its main base.
AT&T’s Audience Network has handed out a 10-episode straight-to-series order for David E. Kelley’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Mr. Mercedes,” writes THR.
Brendan Gleeson (pictured below; Edge of Tomorrow, Troy, Gangs of New York) and Anton Yelchin (Green Room, Fright Night, Terminator Salvation) have been tapped to star in the drama produced by Sonar Entertainment. Mr. Mercedes will premiere in 2018 on both DirecTV and AT&T Uverse.
“Mr. Mercedes” centers on a demented killer who taunts a retired police detective with a series of lurid letters and emails, forcing the ex-cop to undertake a private, and potentially felonious, crusade to bring the killer to justice before he can strike again. Gleeson will play Detective Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is driven out of retirement after an old nemesis reappears, while Yelchin will portray Brady Hartsfield, a mentally deranged ice cream truck driver and IT worker for Cyber Patrol (aka Geek Squad) who is secretly the Mercedes Killer.
The book was published by in June 2014 and shot to the top of the New York Times best-seller list before going on to win the Edgar Award for best novel. It is the first of a trilogy from King, with the second novel, “Finders Keepers,” published in June 2015. The third, “End of Watch,” due June 7.
Kelley (“Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice:) and Jack Bender (“Lost,” “Under the Dome”) will executive produce the series, with the former set to write the first episode and serve as showrunner.
The folks at the newly formed Rocket Lolly Games are eager to make a dance game out of the cult classic horror musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so eager, they’ve built a studio around that very goal. This is music to my ears, for if there was ever a licensed property that had the rhythmic chops to work as a dance game, it’d absolutely belong to Frankenfurter & Co.
I’m clearly not the only one who feels a shiver of anticipation for this, as they’ve already raised nearly $30k on Kickstarter, with about a week left to raise the remaining ~$5,700 they’re asking for. That’s not a lot of money, even for a mobile game, but it’s also only a small part of it. The studio received nearly £200,000 from investors earlier this month, reports The Herald.
Rocky Horror Show: Touch Me hits tablets and mobile in 2017.
So, here’s what’s happening with this story. In late April, Japan saw the release of a live action adaptation of their sci-fi/horror manga Terra Formars (Formars = For Mars). Directed by Takashi Miike (Audition, 13 Assassins, Ichi the Killer, Lesson of the Evil, Gozu), the story follows a group of scientists who coat Mars with a special algae that is meant to purify the atmosphere and make life on the red planet possible. 500 years after the experiment takes place, a team goes out to see if the plan worked and, surprise surprise, all communications are lost. Therefore, a second team is sent to investigate what happened.
Well, it turns out that some cockroaches that were also sent to the planet (they would feed on the algae and spread it through defecation) have evolved into something much more dangerous than the creepy crawlies that we have. In fact, they’re absolute badasses who are intent on killing every human that lands in their newly lush and verdant world.
To give the film a little push, a viral video was created where “scientists” created a gigantic sticky trap to catch these cockroaches. And to make sure it works, they had a scientist, a sprinter, and a sumo wrestler each try to get across. You can see the results for yourself below!
Jackson Stewart made his feature directorial debut with Beyond the Gates, a throwback paranormal movie in the spirit of horror classics such as Phantasm, The Beyond, and Poltergeist.
It’s set to World Premiere at the LA Film Festival, and thus we now have a teaser that comes straight from the VCR!
Barbara Crampton (You’re Next), Graham Skipper (Almost Human), Chase Williamson (The Guest), and Brea Grant (Halloween 2) star in the film that also features Matt Mercer (Contracted), Justin Welborn (FX’s “Justified”, The Signal, V/H/S/ Viral), Henry LeBlanc (“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”), Jesse Merlin (FDR: American Badass), David Bruckner (co-director of V/H/S, The Signal), and Pierson Ryan (“Red Team Go”) round out the cast.
“In Beyond the Gates, two estranged brothers reunite seven months after their father’s disappearance to liquidate his anemic video store. While there, they unearth an old VCR board game that acts as an inter-dimensional hub to a nightmare world where their Father’s soul is trapped and can only be saved by playing the game. The film is an adventure horror that pays loving tribute to the VHS format, video stores, and board games of the era.”
Stewart co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen Scarlata (Jodorowsky’s Dune). Destroy All Entertainment’s Amanda Mortimer will produce alongside Barbara Crampton and Lodger Films partners Georg Kallert and Rob Schroeder. Gabriela Revilla Lugo will executive produce.