STX Entertainment unveils the trailer for the visceral thriller Desierto from Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmakers of Gravity, and starring Gael García Bernal.
“Desierto is a visceral, heart-pounding suspense-thriller packed with tension and suspense from start to finish, starring Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries and Y Tu Mamá También) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen). What begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border. In the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there’s nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer.”
Desierto marks a particularly personal journey in storytelling for writer, director, editor and producer Jonás Cuarón who spent the last 7 years bringing the story of the migrant experience to the screen, explains the press release.
“I took a trip through the U.S. Southwest where I encountered first-hand stories surrounding immigration and the often cruel and violent story of the migrant journey,” explains Cuarón. “I was very moved and immediately felt compelled to outline the film – which happened even before writing GRAVITY. I’ve always been very interested in the concept of films like Spielberg’s DUEL, Konchalovskiy’s RUNAWAY TRAIN and Bresson’s A MAN ESCAPES. They are non-stop nail biting thrillers with very little dialogue but that at the same time manage to juggle various themes. I was very interested in the drive of these films where the audience connects with the story and character in a very visceral way. In Desierto, I wanted to create a gripping film that would engage the audience in that same kind of visceral, cathartic experience and also allow them to reflect on this very complicated subject which illuminates the often devastating experience migrants face in the search for a better life. Bringing Gael (García Bernal) on board was a no-brainer, not just for his skillful acting but also for the soul I trusted he would bring to the story. I knew that Gael also felt very passionately about issues surrounding immigration and would bring to life the struggle, hope and determination that are the fabric of the migrant story.”
Desierto hits theaters on March 4, 2016.
Greetings fellow horror fans! I wanted to talk about something that has been bugging me for some time now. Too many times I see the argument of “It wasn’t scary” being used when judging the merit of a genre flick on every comment thread. It’s pretty much every time. But here’s my question: When was the last time a horror movie you really liked scared you? I don’t just mean jump scares, as those can actually be ineffective, but I mean actually scared you into leaving lights on and left you thinking about it for days after?
If you’re like me and countless others, you probably have a hard time really letting movies get under your skin. It happens! When we first discover horror, we immerse ourselves totally and never truly come back out again. You sought out the grisliest, disturbed things you could just to see how much you could stand. And then eventually you had seen the “big ones”, like Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death, Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, etc… The more you watch, the less frightening everything becomes and a more complex motive for watching evolves.
Why watch horror movies if they don’t scare you? This is a question I’ve gotten from non-horror friends. Fair question but I have an answer. I continue to watch, read, live and breath horror because it’s a never ending quest. I will never, ever run out of horror movies to watch, especially with things like streaming and online shopping, not to mention TV. Not only do I have a pre-existing catalog from around the world, but hundreds of new horror movies come out a year. Is all of it good? Absolutely fucking not. Which brings me to my main point.
Not every horror movie is great, obviously. But not enjoying something because “it wasn’t scary” is always something that irks me. For me, there are many elements that make a movie good and they all apply to any movie no matter the genre. Is the production quality as good as it should be? Is the story well evolved? Are the characters bearable? You get the picture. All of those elements stay in my brain when I’m thinking critically of a movie. And yes, if the movie does happen to scare me once or twice or, in a much rarer occurrence, actually stays with me for a day or so, then I consider that a bonus.
I know that I’m jaded when it comes to scares, more than the standard movie goer. But writing off an entire movie because it didn’t scare you when you are a seasoned viewer seems incredibly backward. We don’t go into the next movie with the same fresh eyes as the first time we saw our first horror movie. It sucks, but we don’t. I used to be guilty of this when I first started to think I’d seen it all but then I started looking at film in a more mentally stimulating level and I realized I could appreciate a cavalcade of thrills.
What do you guys think?
In an ironic twist (being an English major), I don’t read novels as often as I should. Maybe it’s a combination of a lack of time or my other passions cutting in, I just haven’t read many books in recent years. One author that’s been recommended to me is Simon R. Green. Green, whose big break came when he wrote the novelization of Kevin Kostner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, has been quite prolific in his career. And after all these years, Green took the leap in 2013 and had his Ghost Finders series adapted into film by director Simon Pearce. The film, Judas Ghost, hits VOD this side of the pond this month. Putting aside the praise that Judas Ghost has garnered at several independent festivals in its native Britain, how does it really stack up?
The Carnacki Institute is an agency that specializes in ghost hunting and removal. Living by the motto ‘We don’t take any shit from the hereafter’, the group sends a quartet of its finest to investigate a haunting at a derelict village hall, which will be filmed for training purposes. After initially setting up shop, the group soon realizes that the entity they’re investigating is more powerful than they anticipated. The ghost soon begins to prey on each member of the squad, exposing each member’s weakness and manipulating their surroundings.
The film begins without much in the way of exposition or character introductions (other than the clichéd “ghost are real” bit), and really feels more like something of a sequel rather than a standalone film. The characters basically just enter the room and begin their work. Judas Ghost is definitely one where you’d have to have read Green’s Ghost Finders novels beforehand in order to make sense of the world in which these characters exist. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to see how this can backfire. Regardless, the best part of Green’s first foray into writing for film are the ideas to counteract the obvious constraints of a low budget. As the film takes place entirely in this one room, Green employs the idea of ever-changing surroundings (including staples such as temperature changes, accelerated night, and so on) to liven things up, as well as a reason for the group’s inability to walk out the door.
From a character standpoint, the Judas Ghost himself (portrayed by Grahame Fox) has an appropriately sinister presence. Clad in a suit with your typical ghostly pallor and dripping blood, Fox doesn’t do much in terms of action or lines, but the rule of “less is more” lends itself nicely to this role. With regards to our protagonists, the film spends quite a bit of time developing these characters through their interactions with each other, which is nice to see. However, despite the efforts at development, the characters aren’t exactly the strongest, nor are many of the backstories between characters fully realized. Despite this, the performances are adequate, with Martin Delaney notably doing his best to be the Bill Murray of the group in his cocky, sceptical demeanour. And, with the tight pacing, the film for the most part keeps your attention.
Sadly, as you probably can tell, many of the bright spots in the film are marred by some glaring issues. As mentioned before, the idea of dropping the viewer into the film’s world without exposition is frustrating. Although, not as frustrating as the realization that despite the film’s attempts character development, we’re still left without key points in their background. Jerry and Anna’s (Lucy Cudden) past relationship sticks out, for one. It’s hinted at, but not explained. The same for Mark’s (Simon Merrells) past as the veteran of the group. Speaking of Anna, it’s annoying that the character, who is supposed to be psychic, has to be told to use her powers, despite her solely being on the team because of her abilities. Worse, techie character Ian Calder (Alexander Perkins) seems ill-suited for this kind of work, given his skittishness (and falling into the cliché of not listening to your teammates when they warn you). Ian might as well have “ghost fodder” written on his back. Topping things off is the film’s ending, which builds up to a huge climax, but after an unimportant twist reveal, suddenly falls over itself trying to race to the bottom to get to the abrupt end.
‘Unrealized potential’ is how you can sum up Judas Ghost. There are some ideas that work to try and break the restrictions of its budget, and it’s not a film that’s boring or unwatchable. But ultimately, the film gets dragged down into clich&eactue;s and unfulfillment. Fans of the book series are more likely to get the most from this one, as they’re obviously the target audience. Non-fans and casual viewers will still get something out of it, but nothing that you haven’t seen before in other films of this type.
No matter what festivities you celebrate, whether it be Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or Ramadan, one thing’s for sure — now is the perfect time to spread some holiday cheer, by treating your fellow man with a little extra goodwill and mercy, and delighting in some of the softer gems in the horror genre.
What better time than the holidays to watch some beloved endearing horror comedies? As you gather around the television this holiday season, huddled up with friends and family, here are some terrific feel good films to watch that never fail to brighten spirits, and display what truly matters, more than consumerism and more than stressing out about getting things done — cherished moments with those you love.
Read on, and discover what valued lessons these horror gems have taught us, and what they continue to express so intimately, even after repeated viewings.1. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
In a unique approach to the horror-comedy mash-up genre, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil takes the usual cabin in the woods story and flips it on its head. By setting up the country boys as the victims, and the college kids vacationing at the lake nearby as the villains, this film creates a fresh and hilarious perspective that suggests that maybe horror icons like Leatherface and Jason Voorhees were just misunderstood victims of circumstance. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two simple southern gentlemen off to spend the next few days at their rundown lake property, where they plan to do nothing but drink beer, go fishing, and drink more beer. Unfortunately, once they are spotted by a group of letter-clad Greeks, they are assumed to be backwards killers, and are henceforth hunted like animals in supposed self-defense. What follows is a hysterical, bloody ride, where the preppy college kids are so desperate to prove Dale and Tucker are crazed murderers that the preps literally become their own self-serving bias experiments, accidentally offing themselves in the pursuit of their supposed madmen, frightening and only furthering all of their friends’ misconceptions in the process of this colossal misunderstanding. Luckily, they have Allison on their side, a beautiful girl who rode out to the woods with her college buddies, but who displays greater awareness and tolerance than all of her fellow educated vacationers combined. Allison dreams of becoming a psychologist, and while her man, Chad, would be perfectly happy with her being his trophy wife, it is Dale who encourages her to pursue her dreams, because to him, she’s more than just a pretty face, and to her, he’s more than a man with a draw and a pair of overalls.2. Grabbers (2012)
A small town off the coast of Ireland is slowly taken over by blood-sucking aliens, as the people of this interlaced community struggle to find an answer. Their tentacle-clad new friends have been picking off residents one by one, but these uninvited guests will soon realize that they’ve barged in on the wrong party. Through a series of trial and error, police officers Ciaran O’Shea and Lisa Nolan accidentally discover that the kryptonite to these invaders doesn’t lie in a sharpened weapon, but rather, in a drunken defense — specifically, alcohol. Because the aliens are allergic to alcohol, all that the patrons of this town have to do is stay drunk enough to sink an elephant until a more permanent solution surfaces. The only question is, what will they do when they eventually run out of beer? Hilarious and highly under-appreciated, Grabbers shows how sometimes, the key to bringing souls together lies at the bottom of a beer barrel.3. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
When the end of the world hits Great Britain, and the dead begin to rise and walk the earth, Shaun opts for the laid-back Londoner’s perspective, and casually handles dealing with saving his friends and family from ravenous zombies with a relaxed hustle. Stuck in a cycle of work-pub-home, work-pub-home, Shaun’s girlfriend Liz decides she’s had enough of this tired routine and Shaun’s lethargic attitude, and dumps him. Just when Shaun thinks his life can’t get any more depressing, the apocalypse begins, and people start being taken out, one by one, all around him. Intent on saving his loved ones, but still stuck in his cycle, Shaun plans to pick up his mom, kill his stepdad Phillip, whom he presumes to be a zombie, and head to the pub for a pint while they wait for this all to blow over. This time, Shaun’s inability to grow up won’t just put his relationship in peril, but will endanger the lives of all whom he holds dear (and David), too. The first entry in the Cornetto trilogy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead not only acts as a love letter to George Romero’s classics, spoofing the iconic material and carrying underlying commentary, just as Romero’s Dead series did, too, but also, uses the zombie apocalypse to bring humans together, as the dead try to rip them apart. By using the threat of death as a catalyst, Shaun is catapulted into adulthood, and for the first time, makes a real effort to change his ways and compromise, to save his relationship, while maintaining his identity through his lifelong friendship with Ed, the man who will always have a place in his heart, and also, in Shaun’s tool shed.4. The Final Girls (2015)
When Max’s celebrity mother dies in a horrific car accident, she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to face one of her mom’s cult horror classic ’80s slashers again, let alone ever smile again. When the anniversary of her mom’s death rolls around, however, she’s coerced into participating in a screening of the movie that made her mother famous — Camp Bloodbath. The slow transition into staring at her mother’s face again is challenging enough, but when the theater showing the movie catches aflame, and Max is somehow sucked into the screen, she finds herself side by side with her mom, fighting off a killer, and forced to locate the strength within herself to carry on, whether she’s ready or not. Arguably one of the best horror movies of the year, The Final Girls is not only an extremely impressive directorial debut for up-and-coming director Todd Strauss-Schulson, but it’s also softened the hearts of cinephiles everywhere, and caused an outcry for endearing horror comedies of the same nature. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from.5. Cooties (2015)
Teaching can be hell. When an outbreak at an elementary school starts turning all of the kids into tiny undead terrors, the teachers are left with no choice but to board up inside of a secure classroom and fight for their lives against the vicious, cannibalistic monsters who they once referred to as their students. Using coffee mugs, hockey sticks, clip boards, and any other school supplies nearby that they can use as a weapon, the schools staff attempts to escape the building before their student body devours them whole. Another excellent title from Spectrevision, Cooties is a fun, bold throwback to ’80s killer kid flicks. Offensive enough to make you laugh out loud at jokes you might otherwise never find appropriate, Cooties still somehow, at the same time, manages to be touching in its depiction of poor little lonely Language Arts teacher Clint (Elijah Wood). Clint might be a teacher at this school, but deep down, he’s still just a scared little school boy, lusting after the pretty girl that he can’t have, Lucy (Alison Pill). Clint is stuck in school — literally, as the infected zombie kids try to get in from the outside, and figuratively, as he finds himself stuck in a perpetual immature state, living with his mother, and not quite making it as a writer like he had imagined he would by this point in his life. As Clint fights for his life (and in the process, fights to impress Lucy), he gains confidence through his near death experience, and blossoms into the man that he was meant to be — as self-assured as he is intelligent and capable.6. Fright Night (1985)
The sun has dipped down below the horizon and the moon is hanging high in the sky, which means it’s time for Charley Brewster’s favorite television show: Fright Night. Hosted by Peter Vincent, the show centered around bloodsuckers holds a special place in Charley’s heart, distracting him from the world around him, including even his girlfriend Amy’s advances. However, Amy will soon find that the TV show is the last of her worries, when Charley turns his obsessive eye to a different subject: his new next-door neighbor, Jerry Dandrige. Mr. Dandrige keeps late hours, avoids sunlight, and oh yeah, occasionally turns into a bat. Charley’s desperate to prove that Dandrige is a creature of the night, even if it means being labeled a crazy nuisance, and putting everyone he loves at risk, including the only person who has returned his affections, Amy. As Charley chases Jerry, Amy chases Charley, but soon, all involved will be lost to the vampire’s lure, as Charley only receives pity from friends and family, when what he really needs is their help.7. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Unique, clever, and extremely meta in a very original way, Scott Glosserman’s directorial debut is an extremely impressive love letter to slasher films. Set up mockumentary style, a camera crew follows around lead reporter Taylor Gentry as she interviews Leslie Vernon, a notorious serial killer in the small town of Glen Echo. This movie plays on the idea that all of the iconic horror movie killers like Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees are real, and that this documentary is allowing a look behind the scenes at their handiwork for the very first time. Leslie takes on the persona of a slain boy in a local urban legend, who was rumored to have been drowned in the river by townsfolk after he killed his parents, but Leslie confesses to the documentary gang that he’s just a normal guy living off of the legend, which can be inferred as the truth behind Freddy and Jason’s stories, too. Initially, the crew is totally on board with what’s happening, learning first hand how a villain carefully and methodically picks out his virginal final girl, and prepares for the chase scenes with her and her friends with lots and lots of cardio. However, when the big night approaches, the crew members find themselves guilt ridden, and wind up breaking the rules of a documentary as they put down their cameras and get involved to try to help the teens chosen for the slaughter survive Leslie’s wrath. Through tongue-in-cheek humor, stylish storytelling, and a breakdown of horror’s final girl and why she needs the killer as much as he needs her, Glosserman gives fans a surprisingly sweet look at the other side of the blade, and creates just as much sympathy for the hunter as he does the hunted.8. The Monster Squad (1987)
Sean, Horace, Patrick, Eugene, and newfound members Rudy and Phoebe are in over their heads. Together, they may make up The Monster Squad, one of the most knowledgeable and devoted horror movie fanatic groups on the planet, but from the point of view of the real Count Dracula and Creature from the Black Lagoon who are currently, terrorizing their hometown, they’re just a bunch of little kids asking for trouble. While they may be technically correct, these infamous baddies may have underestimated this little gathering of horror fiends, and how much their tireless hours spent pouring over every scary movie, comic book, and bit of trivia is going to come into play when it comes to their final battle. Out manned, overpowered, and facing off against supposedly immortal beings, they may crash and burn in their attempt to fend off their attackers, but the Monster Squad will go down swinging, makeshift weapons, cheaply made business cards and all.9. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
We all know the story. An average group of hormone-fueled attractive young people travel to a rundown cabin in a remote area littered with trees, where they are then picked off one by one. The formula has been laid out since the slasher craze took over the horror genre in the ’80s, and cult gems like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, and the Friday the 13th franchise made the rules known. The handsome jock must die. Inspecting suspicious noises is a death trap. A final girl must survive until the end (or at least longer than her friends). These are the horror principles embedded in our over-stimulated minds, making it hard to feel surprised by anything the sub-genre has to offer. But what if there was more to the story? What if we’ve only been scratching at the surface of a carefully manufactured scheme that’s been years in the making? Enter Drew Goddard, a brilliant head honcho from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel’s Daredevil, here to stick the usual formula in the blender and hit spin. In Drew’s vision, all of the monsters who emerge from the darkness to attack these poor random kids are actually coming from an underground laboratory. Built with the intention of sacrificing a chosen few in an annual slaughter, this is a film that mainly finds its comedic stride in the uproarious notion that the rambling stoner in the corner might actually be right.10. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two best friends, David Kessler and Jack Goodman, take a journey across the pond, and find themselves in the strangest of places. A little pub tucked away in the hills of Britain is the latest stopping point on their backpacking expedition, and though the thought of fresh ale beckons them to come in, once inside, they are greeted by stern stares, pentagrams, and ancient superstition. Determined to enjoy their tour despite their cold welcome, the boys drown their bad feelings in their libations, the duo continues on, stumbling across the moonlit terrain and right off the path, foregoing the locals’ warnings about veering off the trail. By the time they realize their mistake, the boys fall prey to the howling beast that roams the countryside monthly, and rips apart any animal that dare cross its path. Jack is the first to go, but David arguably suffers an even worse fate, as he becomes the beast himself, after surviving his own horrific injuries. Jack visits David from the afterlife, and even though it’s undoubtedly sad to see David undergo such torment, it’s also admittedly pretty funny to watch Jack and all of David’s victims openly and enthusiastically try to come up with ways for David to off himself, lest he leave any more victims in his wake.11. Zombieland (2009)
It only took the end of the world, this shy boy has finally started to socialize. As a kid who has spent most of his days alone in his room, chained to his keyboard and covered with soda spills and grease stains from his third straight bag of potato chips, it’s amazing that he’s survived the zombie apocalypse as long as he has. Of course, he’d like to attribute his continued survival to the rules he’s drummed up as defense against the walking dead, but deep down, the kid, known to his misfit gang of rounded up strangers as “Columbus”, he knows that the truth is that the key to getting through each day — and to living a happy and fulfilled life amidst all of the madness — is the people at his side, and the companionship they bring.12. The Burbs (1989)
Joe Dante’s highly underrated late ’80s mystery comedy is a kooky account about a group of paranoid neighbors and their ridiculous assumption about the new residents on the block. As opposed to everyone else on the street who proudly broadcasts their quirks on their front lawns, like ex-vet Lt. Mark Rumsfield, who still dresses in war gear, or Walter Selznick, who happily commands his poodle to defecate on Mr. Rumsfield’s grass to in order fulfill some strange, sick joy when Rumsfield inevitably erupts, the new neighbors are total shut-ins. No one on this block has ever seen them, and sometimes at night, as Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) points out, you can hear weird noises coming from that dreary old property. After old man Walter inexplicably disappears, Ray, Ricky, Art, and the lieutenant join forces to prove their elaborate theory that their aloof new additions are somehow involved. The gang seriously believes that the Klopeks are to blame for their missing friend, and they won’t rest until they make a complete and utter mockery of themselves in front of the entire neighborhood. As far-fetched and goofy as this story gets, it does a terrific job of capturing the heart of suburbia, in all its absurd glory, and playfully explains the reason why those who can relate love their wacky neighborhoods so much. In the end, we’re all just little Ricky Butlers, sitting back and laughing as we watch these typical and silly events unfold.13. What We Do in the Shadows (2015)
Undead and kicking, but out of touch with pop culture, Vladislav, Viago, and Petyr get a taste of youth again when they develop a friendship with a young technology-savvy human, and a newly turned baby vamp. Hundreds of years old, the gang hires a documentary crew to follow them around, and give the public some insight, for the very first time, into the world of those who reside in the shadows. Set up like a mockumentary about vampires, this kooky flick feels like a fresh break from all of the melodramatic and morose vampire movies that have flooded the horror genre over the past several years. Headed by two hilarious comedians, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this clever take on the tired old monster flick allows these predators to be seen in a different, more empathetic light; one that displays these immortal beings at their most vulnerable — struggling to dress hip enough to get into a hot club, incarcerated in the darkness for all of eternity, and watching seasoned mortal friends grow old and die. This movie is as much a love letter to the sub-genre as it is a jab at bloodsucker cinema.14. Gremlins (1984)
In what has become one of the ultimate Christmas movies for the horror fan, a young man unleashes the fury of murderous little gremlins on an unsuspecting small town in the midst of the holiday season. It all starts when inventor Randall Peltzer fails to convince a customer to buy his latest creation, the “Bathroom Buddy”. While nosing around in the man’s shop, Randall winds up buying instead of selling, as he picks up a souvenir to take home to his son, Billy. When Billy picks up the mysterious box his father hands him and it starts to shake, his father tells him that the critter inside is called a Mogwai, and passes on the three important rules for Billy’s new pet: 1) keep him away from bright lights, 2) don’t get him wet, and 3) never feed him after midnight. Of course, one of these rules is inevitably broken, when Billy’s buddy Pete accidentally spills water on on the Mogwai Billy has named Gizmo, causing many more little Mogwais to sprout from Gizmo’s back. They seem cute, but these guys are not like Gizmo. By tricking Billy into feeding them after midnight, this new, more sinister batch evolves into vicious minuscule monsters, and begin terrorizing the town. As if on a mission to destroy everything in their path, the violent little creatures start tearing up the local bar, picking off residents, and scare everyone out of the local theater so they can watch Snow White on the big screen. Now, it’s up to Billy, Gizmo, Pete, and the girl Billy holds a torch for, Kate, to stop the evil Mogwais and rescue their fellow townsfolk, and save Christmas, before these little nuisances find a bigger puddle of water and multiply themselves enough to outnumber all of the citizens.15. Housebound (2014)
After Kylie gets in trouble with the law, she lands in the last place she’d like to be: her childhood home. Detained to the property, Kylie isn’t peeved by the idea of probation on her record as much as she is by the knowledge that she’ll never be able to get away from her mother. Kylie’s mom Miriam is convinced that their house is haunted, and she’s not afraid to be vocal about it. Pushing aside her mother’s wild theories, she chalks up her mom’s lunacy to the overactive imagination of a bored old woman in a simple, small New Zealand town. However, when Kylie also begins to hear voices in the night, and strange happenings begin making themselves known around the aged residency, Kylie begins to wonder if maybe her mom isn’t the one-eyed man in the house of the blind.16. Beetlejuice (1988)
Lydia Deetz is having the worst time of her entire life. Her obsessive and controlling mother, Delia, is pushing her spineless father, Charles, around once again, her father is more concerned with finding a nice, quiet spot to hide from Delia than bothering to pay attention to his daughter’s depression, and to top things off, her parents have moved her out to an old house in the country, and away from the few fond memories Lydia actually had. Now, as her mother drives her mad trying to push her drastically modern vision upon this old house, Lydia spends the day wasting away in her bedroom, convinced there’s nothing weird enough left to live for…or is there? Strange occurrences have been lighting up Lydia’s dull life as of late, including two members of the recently deceased occupying her attic, along with a foul-mouthed trickster who appeals to Lydia’s wicked side, and reels her in through false pretenses and common outsider ideology. Suddenly, Lydia’s boring existence has become all too eventful, as she finds herself strangely longing for the simple days of her mother’s maddening artistic goals, her father’s newfound bird watching hobby, and the time before she knew the name Betelgeuse. Arguably one of — if not definitively — Tim Burton’s best film, Beetlejuice represents Burton in his prime, when he still favored practical effects and feel-good odd family films over CGI and cash-grabbing box office sure-things. Beetlejuice is the kind of film that makes you feel grateful for the family you have, instead of wishing for something that doesn’t exist.
Ritual, Darling and Pod director Mickey Keating’s survival horror with Carnage Park, which is based on a shocking true story, will be having its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month.
Check out this brand new image of Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism, The Last Exorcism II) who stars alongside Darby Stanchfield (“Scandal”), Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills, The Innkeepers) and Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day)
“The year is 1978. After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate California town, two wannabe crooks named Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hébert) and Lenny (Michael Villar) flee the scene with a hostage, Vivian (Ashley Bell), and lead the local lawmen on a dangerous high-speed chase. With his partner suffering from a gunshot wound and losing blood fast, Joe takes to the back roads to dodge the heat, but he unwittingly steers them into the path of a far more dangerous evil: a psychotic ex-military sniper who doesn’t take kindly to strangers. Thrust into a wicked game of cat and mouse with a highly trained and mentally imbalanced killer, they begin a harrowing fight for survival.”
“Carnage Park [is] a nod to the mean and dirty crime films of the 1970s, and the intense, unflinching energy of the fight for survival films by directors like Boorman and Peckinpah,” said Keating in the film’s initial press release. “It’s a harrowing story, set almost entirely during the day, against a blinding backdrop of the California desert.”
“It’s going to be a very vicious horror film set entirely during the day, in a cruel stretch of California desert,” Keating told us in a previous exclusive interview. “It’s my first period piece – set in 1978 – and it’s about a botched bank heist that quickly spirals into a horrific fight for survival. It’ll be a nod to the legendary Sam Peckinpah and his masterpiece The Getaway, the new French Extremism films of the 2000s, and The Most Dangerous Game…I’m very excited to make a cruel, pulpy horror film.”
The Sundance press release goes on to explain: “Mickey Keating’s latest descent into insanity showcases his versatility as a writer and director, braiding crime caper and survival story into one demented thrill ride. Ashley Bell quickly turns the role of damsel in distress into that of a badass, ‘don’t fuck with me’ female lead traversing the horrors of Carnage Park.”
A young woman makes a fateful pact with a witches’ coven that can save her dying father’s life.
Bloody Disgusting mixed a potion to enchant Dark Sky into giving us the exclusive trailer premiere for David Keating’s Cherry Tree, which celebrated its World Premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Keating, who directed the 2010 Hammer Film Wake Wood, is behind this new horror pic starring Naomi Battrick, Patrick Gibson, Sam Hazeldine, and Leah McNamara. It is set for release in limited theaters and VOD on January 8, 2016.
In Cherry Tree, “Faith’s world is turned upside down after she finds out that her beloved father is dying. When the mysteriously alluring Sissy Young becomes her field hockey coach, Faith finds a compassionate spirit and much-needed mother figure. Little does she know that Sissy is the head of a centuries-old witches’ coven that uses the fruit of an ancient cherry tree in a secret ritual that restores life to the dead and dying. Offering to cure her father in exchange for a child, Sissy strikes a bargain with Faith, who suddenly finds herself pregnant with a baby that’s growing at an alarming rate. But with the clock to the child’s birth ticking down and the true intention of Sissy’s plans for humanity becoming more apparent, Faith and her father must stand together in order to save both their lives.“
Director Rob Zombie has announced that his upcoming horror film 31 has been given the dreaded NC-17 rating not once but twice by the MPAA!
Zombie, who took to Facebook with the news, is attempting to edit it a third time to go for an R-rating, although he’s none too pleased about it.
“Well, after two tries through the MPAA our rating on 31 remains NC-17,” Zombie explained. “Maybe three is the charm to get an R rating. Why R you ask? Well, because your local theater will not show an NC-17. Even though you are a fucking adult… things [must] be censored for your enjoyment.”
The MPAA rated 31 NC-17 for “sadistic graphic violence, bizarre sexuality/nudity, pervasive disturbing images and some strong language.” Yup, sounds like a Rob Zombie film!
In 31, which will have its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month, “Five friends are kidnapped on the day before Halloween and are held hostage in a terrifying place named Murder World. While trapped, they must play a violent game called 31, in which the mission is to survive 12 hours against a gang of evil clowns.”
The Halloween-themed slasher stars Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and even Meg Foster.
Ho ho ho! A very bleak and depressing Christmas to all!
Too much? Sorry, I know that it’s supposed to be the jolliest time of the year but I just can’t get into the holiday spirit when thinking about Type O Negative. It’s not necessarily that I miss them greatly (although that definitely has its place) but rather that their music simply doesn’t bring much merriment or cheer.
But all that changes right now. Today, I crack open the eggnog and don an ugly red and green sweater. Because today I give you Stereo Type O Negative‘s rendition of Wham!‘s 1984 holiday classic “Last Christmas”, as done in the style of Type O Negative. Honestly, it sounds EXACTLY like Type O and totally fits their subtle humor that they wove into their gothic metal.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!
A new teaser for A&E’s upcoming supernatural drama/thriller “Damien” has been released and can be seen below. It hearkens back to an iconic line from the 1976 original, which stated, “Damien… It’s all for you.”
“The ten-episode “Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn (James), the mysterious child from the 1976 film who has grown up, seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist, the most feared man throughout the ages.”
Bradley James plays the titular character and Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”) acts as showrunner.
The show as yet has no release date, although we’re hoping one will come soon! If done right, this show could be incredibly creepy and create a lot of tension with the main character. After all, who actually wants to be Antichrist?
— A&E Network (@AETV) December 22, 2015
2015 was quite a year for horror fans. It was arguably one of the best years for horror movies (see Mr Disgusting’s top 10 list) in recent history, zombies have taken over TV, we lost some horror legends, and were teased with one of the most exciting horror games ever only to have it ripped away.
With all of the big stories and news, we thought it would be fun to look back and see what the most popular posts were from the past year. Read on to see what you might have missed and relive some of the biggest posts from 2015!
I may have to get readers to draw for this one during the next sundown.
To celebrate RLJ Entertainment’s home video release of Bone Tomahawk (review) on DVD December 29th, Bloody Disgusting has (1) signed theatrical one-sheet for a lucky reader to enter to win.
Who signed it? How about writer/director S. Craig Zahler, stars Kurt Russell (Escape from New York, The Thing), Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, Insidious, TV’s “Fargo”), Matthew Fox (Alex Cross, TV’S “Lost”) and Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods), as well as producers Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller!
TO ENTER: Put BONE TOMAHAWK in the subject line and then send your FULL NAME and ADDRESS to email@example.com. Winners chosen at random. No PO Boxes. U.S. Only. GOOD LUCK!
“When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell), sets out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy.“
As Bloody Disgusting embarks on its 15th year, it’s hard to look back and say any were better than this one.
In 2003 we saw the release of Wrong Turn, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cabin Fever, Freddy vs Jason, Underworld and even Identity, with 2004 becoming the year of SAW, with Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead also hitting theaters.
But 2015 was still the best, and one worthy of celebration. The reason? With the aid of VOD platforms and direct distribution, independent cinema really took off.
Last year, independent films dominated my “best of” list. But what really bothered me was that none really blew me out of the water. It was a great year, with The Babadook and all, but no title felt like it deserved to be cemented as a statue alongside other greats in the horror parthenon.
While The Babadook was the (unfortunate) clear best genre film of 2014, deciding which deserved the honor this year was a painstaking process. There were four indie films that easily deserved the honor of being dubbed “the best” – too bad only one will get bragging rights.
Whatever the case, what you really should be looking at is how there are zero studio productions included on the following list. Yes, ZERO! It’s important to note that all of the below were independently made (some acquired by studio labels), which is incredibly telling. It’s sad that studio slates are filled with franchises and half-assed “packaged” films that all look the same – this leaves no room for them to take a chance on the critically acclaimed indie films that break out during their festival runs.
Hopefully things change in the future. But for now, let’s just celebrate the artists outside of the studio system who put their heart and soul into delivering quality horror…
Lil Rel Howery (pictured center on “The Carmichael Show”) has joined the cast of Get Out, the horror thriller from writer-directer Jordan Peele of “Key & Peele” fame, writes Deadline.
Plot details are under wraps, but the pic centers on a young African-American man who visits his white girlfriend’s family estate.
Catherine Keener, Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya also star in the film.
Along with his regular role as Jerrod Carmichael’s brother Bobby on NBC’s “The Charmichael Show,” Deadline writes that Howery’s credits include “Friends Of The People,” his Comedy Central stand-up special “Lil Rel: RELevant,” animated series “The Lucas Bros Moving Co.” and “Last Comic Standing,” on which he was a semi-finalist.
Jim Klock, who starred in episodes of FOX’s “Scream Queens,” is set to direct and star in the horror pic 6:66 P.M., says Deadline.
“6:66 P.M. is about a reality TV crew’s staged investigation into the paranormal that becomes terrifyingly real. When the house they’re exploring turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a serial killer, each crew member fights to stay alive and — more important — make their reality show a hit at any cost.”
Chad Ridgely, Autumn Federici, Michael Buonomo and Scott Burkhardt also star in the film.
Tommy McLaughlin and Chad Ridgely wrote 6:66 P.M., which is being produced by Full Auto Films and Code 3 Films and is set for release next year.
IFC Films has provided Bloody Disgusting with the trailer for The Abandoned, in theaters and on VOD platforms January 8th.
Director Eytan Rockaway makes his feature film directorial debut in this thriller that blurs the lines between illness and reality to mirror the traumatized psyche of the protagonist in a story that challenges the power of our own perception.
“Take a terrifying plunge into the warped mind of a disturbed young woman. Desperate to get her life back on track, the unstable Streak (‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’s’ Louisa Krause) takes a job as a security guard, working the graveyard shift at a once upscale, now abandoned apartment complex. But on her first night on duty, she discovers a horrifying presence lurking deep within the bowels of the decaying building. With her nerves already on edge, Streak must confront demons both real and imagined as she struggles to keep a grip on her sanity. Jason Patric (‘The Lost Boys’) co-stars in this harrowing thrill ride.”
The Abandoned was an official selection of both the Los Angeles Film Festival and Screamfest.
I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I mean, I enjoy the films well enough and some of my best friends are HUGE fans of the entire universe that has been created for the property. But look, I grew up with the original trilogy on licensed VHS tapes and watched them each several times. I saw each of the new trilogy in theaters. I even played a few of the games (I was a boss at Shadows of the Empire on Nintendo 64). But I never delved too deep into understanding the universe and how everything interacted with one another. I can’t tell you about many of the ancillary characters and their political leanings, okay? Just not in me.
That being said, I still enjoy the original trilogy and think of them as fine additions to the sci-fi genre. I also fully understand and appreciate just how big of an influence they have had on pop culture and, hell, even just culture itself! The rabid fandom that Star Wars has created is nothing short of awe-inspiring and it’s wonderful that people are still so fascinated and moved by the series.
So my viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens saw me sitting comfortably in the middle of the road. Not an obsessed fan but also not a filthy casual, I fall probably into a large population of people who are going to see the movie. To give you probably the best indicator of the kind of viewer I was at the theater, when the opening title card appeared with that all-too-familiar burst of symphonic exuberance, my heart-rate didn’t pick up at all but I did crack a smile.
Okay, enough of me explaining where I’m coming from in regards to this series. Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the review, shall we?
WARNING: Major spoilers lie ahead! Seriously, I’m going to ruin HUGE parts of the movie! Read ahead at your own risk!
So, let’s start out with some positive aspects of the film. Firstly, I want to let you know that this feels like a Star Wars film. Everything about it rests very comfortably in the world that George Lucas created. From reusing (or recreating) many of the same props that gave the world depth and life to the locations, I never found myself at odds with what I was seeing.
As it’s been made painfully obvious, many characters make their return to the series. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO), and Peter Mayhew (as Chewbacca) all show themselves and it’s a delight to see these actors reprise these roles. They play their characters with charm and excitement and it’s obvious that they are as thrilled to be back in their roles as we are to see them.
Additionally, the movie is, in many places, just flat out fun! There are genuine “laugh out loud” moments, far more than any other Star Wars film, and much of the action and battle sequences are exciting with far greater impact and “oomph” than we’ve ever seen in the series.
But all of the above doesn’t solve one major problem that this film has: It’s essentially a remake of A New Hope. And I’m not talking about one or two scenes/ideas. I’m saying that there are so many of the same plot points that it’s glaringly obvious and it actually takes away from the potential emotional impact that many scenes tried to elicit. Here, let me explain with a swath of examples.
Firstly, the storyline is almost the exact same. The Empire, or in this case “The First Order”, is in control and General Leia Organa is leading a group of Resistance fighters to stop them. Except, wasn’t the majority of The Empire defeated in Return of the Jedi? No good explanation is given why The First Order is in such control of the galaxy.
To aid their fight against The First Order, the Resistance must find Luke Skywalker, who has been missing for quite a while. How can they get this information? Well, pilot Poe Dameron has to hide an information disc (actually, it resembles a USB flash drive) that has Skywalker’s supposed location on BB-8, a droid unit that is sent out on its own where it must find its own way back to the Resistance. Kinda reminds you of Princess Leia sending R2D2 and C-3PO out onto Tatooine, doesn’t it? Oh, and BB-8 is also forced to navigate a desert planet, just to drive the point home.
BB-8 eventually meets Daisy Ridley’s “Rey”, a junk scavenger who longs to get off her planet of Jakku but feels tied to it because of family obligations (same with Luke and his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru). All of this would be fine if that’s where the similarities ended. But they keep coming up!
Adam Driver’s “Kylo Ren” is a glaringly obvious new Darth Vader-esque villain. I mean, Vader had Emperor Palpatine and Ren has Snoke. And just like in A New Hope, there is a general that Ren must work with, someone who is his equal (even though he doesn’t possess the force).
And what does The First Order have as its major weapon? It’s a planet that’s been converted to steal the entire energy of a star and fire massive laser beams at planets to destroy them. Yup, it’s basically another Death Star. And wouldn’t ya know it but the damn thing has a glaringly obvious weakness that the Resistance easily learns about, just like the original Death Star. Don’t you think the bad guys would’ve hired better engineers and architects by now? I mean, they even say in the movie something along the lines of, “Every one of those things has a weak spot!” You can’t get more obvious than that.
When it comes to John Boyega’s “Finn”, I simply can’t follow his character’s growth. The concept is that he was taken away as a very young child and raised to be a Stormtrooper. Okay, cool. That makes me hate The First Order. It’s basically child soldiers, which is a horrific and monstrous thing to do. However, if Finn, who only gets that name from Poe because he was always referred to as a serial number, was trained and raised to be a Stormtrooper for years upon years, wouldn’t he feel some sort of allegiance to The First Order? Wouldn’t he have some sort of unshakeable bond with his fellow Stormtroopers? No, there’s nothing.
In the early fight sequence where we meet Poe, BB-8, Finn, and Kylo Ren, Finn doesn’t shoot his blaster once. In fact, he just stands there as though he’s petrified by the horror of The First Order. But isn’t that what they’ve been indoctrinating him for all these years for? Shouldn’t he not even think once about killing innocent civilians? It simply makes no sense whatsoever because we’re never given a reason for him to lose faith in The First Order. It’s too sudden, it’s too abrupt, and it doesn’t feel genuine.
And when it comes to Han Solo’s death, it’s so obvious that it’s coming that it has no emotional hit whatsoever. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi played a father figure to Luke Skywalker, the hero of the movie. In The Force Awakens, Han Solo plays a father figure to Rey, the heroine of the movie. In fact, when being interrogated by Kylo Ren, he even asks Rey if she sees Solo as a father figure. It’s shoved in our faces! Plus, Obi-Wan was killed by Darth Vader (who at one point considered each other brothers) and Han Solo was killed by Kylo Ren (who is Han Solo’s son), so the family angle still apparently is supposed to shock us.
Last connection I want to bring up: The heroes all go to a rather unsavory bar/meeting place and, just like in the Mos Eisley Cantina, there’s a “jizz” band. Yes, that’s a real term and it’s canon in the Star Wars universe.
Something that was personally disappointing was composer John Williams’ score. While there are moments of wonder and beauty, it felt lackluster and didn’t carry the same kind of grandiose majesty that the original trilogy had. In fact, the music in the above trailer was perhaps the most thrilling and moving piece I’ve heard for this film.
Look, I don’t want to make it sound like I hated this movie because I really didn’t. I can tell that the film was made with lots of love and veneration. J.J. Abrams, who is a massive Star Wars fan brings that passion into very scene and it’s impossible to deny. Additionally, each actor brings their very best and it’s such a delight to see Boyega and Ridley give their all to roles that will undoubtedly skyrocket them into amazing parts that they will rightfully deserve. And Adam Driver played Kylo Ren wonderfully as a broken and conflicted soul. Plus, BB-8 is adorable and brings humor and charm to every scene it’s in.
At the end of the day, I think Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a perfectly suitable addition to the series. It’s leaps and bounds better than the new trilogy but I think it’s not as good as the original three. As a launching point for a whole new era of Star Wars films, it does everything it needs to do. I just wish it hadn’t elected safety over originality. With a universe and mythology as rich and glorious as Star Wars, it’s disappointing that they went the tried-and-true route.
Final score: 3/5 Skulls
After another lengthy silence, Lunar Software resurfaced earlier today to gently remind us that their sci-fi horror game Routine is definitely still something that will exist at some point in the future.
Still no release window though.
Today’s status update did come paired with three new screens that show off more of the game’s environments. They also confirmed that many of the visual effects that Routine uses, such as Chromatic Aberration, DOF, Film Grain, and Bloom, can be adjusted or switched off entirely.
How about that FOV slider, you ask? You can slide that baby from 70 all the way to 110.
The Five Nights at Freddy’s games played fast and loose with their release dates, so it makes sense, I guess, that the novel they inspired would too.
Arriving ahead of its planned Dec 22 launch is Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes, a novel co-authored by series creator Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrigley. Set on the ten-year anniversary of the deaths of some security guards who were violently murdered in a Freddy Fazbear Pizza for failing to properly conserve their limited battery power, The Silver Eyes follows Charlie, whose father created the animatronic creatures that were the source of so many jumpscares.
Charlie doesn’t waste any time enlisting some childhood friends to break into the infamous pizza joint so they can each take turns dying in unimaginably horrific ways. The Kindle edition is available now on Amazon, where you can also preview the first two chapters.
A few months ago, developer Telepaths Tree introduced us to their debut project, a gorgeous horror-themed first-person shooter called Inner Chains. The game is being built on the Unreal Engine 4 by a team of industry veterans, including former Gears of War and Dying Light devs. With such an impressive combination of talent and tech, it’s no surprise that this game is pure eye candy.
Visuals like that are an easy sell, but they can only carry a game so far. It remains to be seen if Inner Chains will be as fun to play as it is to look at.
If you’re wondering what this game is all about, according to its developer, the goal is to “understand and unravel the mysteries of the mystical world while overcoming many dangers created by the biomechanical environment.” This “biomechanical” world seems to have assumed the role of the villain, as it actively hunts the player across “forgotten mountain ruins, through a dangerous forest where flora and fauna are our mortal enemies, to the great temples built by a mysterious caste, whose existence and objectives hide many secrets.”
That sort of sounds like the Otherworld from the Silent Hill series.
While Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation‘s Rebecca Ferguson was rumored to be in talks, Katherine Waterston, pictured below in Inherent Vice, has landed the lead role in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant.
She will reunite with her Jobs co-star Michael Fassbender, while Scott has previously confirmed that Noomi Rapace will also return.
Alien: Covenant is the sequel to Prometheus, but also the beginning of a new trilogy that will act as a prequel to Scott’s 1979 Alien.
Scott revealed that the new film will have all the Alien goodies, from the egg to the face-hugger, chest-burster, and even “the big boy.”
There’s been so much news behind this that I suggest browsing through out Alien hub to catch up.
Shooting begins early next year in Australia on Alien: Covenant for release by Fox on October 6th, 2017.