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[Review] ‘Knock Knock’ Confidently Answers the Door, But at the Wrong House

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 13:01

“Please! Haven’t you ever made a mistake?”

The above line is pleaded by Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) to his gleeful tormentors, and you can’t help but be reminded of how many other home invasion films—an increasingly bloated genre—begin that way. And even though the trappings of Knock Knock make it feel like this one might be different, it still succumbs to a lot the same pitfalls that previous entries in the genre have. Even though the film might feel like director Eli Roth’s most accomplished picture yet, a number of issues hold it back from being the great definitive genre piece that it wants to be.

With a plot that very much resembles a Penthouse letter, two soaking wet damsels in distress, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo, fresh off of her role in Roth’s The Green Inferno) and Bel (Ana de Armas), come upon Evan’s house and beg him for help. Evan acquiesces, but as time goes on his peaceful, humble life begins to be dismantled apart in front of him, with him never going to be the same. The film seems to be so entrenched in Roth’s usual sensibilities that you’d be surprised to learn that this is actually a remake of Peter Traynor’s 1977 exploitation film, Death Game.

Before all of the chaos breaks loose, Roth takes him time, movingly slowly to help establish a tone. It’s also appreciated that in this prelude to everything you actually get to meet Evan’s family and see him interacting with them. Instantly they have more weight and the stakes feel higher when they are at risk because they’re not just names or random photos. We’ve met them. In spite of this beginning section taking its time, you know pretty much exactly where all of this is heading. Just like how Evan is constantly moving his position in the room or switching chairs as Genesis and Bel get closer to him, we too are never fully lulled into a sense of security through this narrative. Genesis and Bel pepper Evan with compliments, playing coy, and exuding uninhibitedness with every flirty touch and smile, and yet, the hanging guillotine is always present and Evan is nearly as aware of it as we are.

Knock Knock operates how a lot of Roth’s films do where it appears that characterization it not the priority and you might not be left caring about these people (especially in the case of Genesis and Bel where most of what they say is a lie anyway). In fact, you’ll likely resent Genesis and Bel as you essentially just see them act privileged and selfish before the danger sets in. The difference here comes in the form of Reeves’ Evan who is out of the age bracket that Roth is typically playing in, adding a little more dimension and “real worldliness” that his characters can often lack.

As Genesis and Bel carry on their wanton destruction there’s a bunch of veiled dialogue between them that hints at something more from their past. Their sexual behavior is also so often steeped in heavy daddy issues and infantilization that feels symptomatic of sexual abuse in their childhood that has stunted them psychologically and manifested as mental illness. This film is not interested in being torture porn, with it instead being more messed up on an internal level, which feels like an important distinction to make.

The moments of Genesis and Bel acting out behavior that shows them stunted mentally are the ones that hit the hardest and tease a somewhat original movie, even. Home invasion scenarios have certainly been done to death at this point and the mere subversion of swapping the gender roles is hardly enough to make a film feel fresh, but the idea of two victimizers who have psychologically regressed and have no way to be logically reasoned with is something different.

The villains in Roth’s other films have been driven by things like money and power in Hostel or instinct and tradition in the case of The Green Inferno, but this is the first film of his where the antagonizers feel like they might be this way because of something that’s happened to them and shattering who they are. That they are almost just as much as victims as Evan is, and it’s in that respect that Knock Knock is fascinating to me and becomes a much deeper picture than it lets on to be. The problem is that this dimension of the film isn’t explored nearly as much as it could be, which results in more scenes of Genesis and Bel seeming like they’re putting on an act, have no history of abuse, and are in control (there are lines referring to a larger organization and clean up crew at hand, and that they have done this many times before), as opposed to two unhinged victims that are acting out of psychosis, which I think is the much more interesting (and frightening) of the two scenarios. This feels like the film that the survivors of Roth’s other films would end up making due to the trauma they’ve been through.

Bel and Genesis’ sadistic chemistry with one another is very strong and probably the best part of this film. As these two sync up together and become increasingly intimidating, you can’t help but feel frightened and outnumbered like Evan does. There’s a sly line in the first half of the film where Evan mentions not being too scared of their physical prowess and that he could comfortably take the two of them. When the shoe is finally on the other foot though, it’s not their physical strength that matters, but their mental manipulation of Evan and how they team up on him in that respect. Him being outnumbered here isn’t dangerous because it means a second set of fists to pummel him, but rather another voice to play out his insecurities and feed the lies that have been wearing him down.

In a similar vein, there’s a through line of sexual violence that the film wallows in as much as it can. One piece of Genesis and Bel’s torture to Evan is framed like a pedophile-themed game show for instance, with the punishments being like-minded accordingly. This is the right sort of idea and the focus that the film should take more often. Like a more damaged version of Hard Candy. Like if Hard Candy had two Velociraptors on the loose in the house. Even the final act is more or less turned into a big game of hide and seek. Intense violence is often being married with juvenility in what seems like the perfect representation of Genesis and Bel’s mental states.

In such a minimalistic film, obviously a lot of it is going to hinge upon Keanu Reeves’ performances, and unfortunately he’s really terribly here, which is puzzle stuff since it almost felt like the actor was having a renaissance lately with stuff like John Wick. It’s very difficult to take him seriously as he screams out lines while tied to a chair, churning out a very Nicolas Cage-like performance. Because of how restricted he is for the second half of the film, so much is dependent on Reeves’ vocal performance and he just sounds downright wooden. Major moments where he’s yelling about being concerned over going deaf or calling the police to help his friend completely fall flat. It’s painful to see Reeves delivering pivotal dialogue life, “You killed him! You killed him!” or “I’m a good father!” and it not at all being taken seriously, as you’re left thinking of the wasted opportunity on what someone else could have done with the part. In the right hands this could actually be a great role—and someone like Dan Stevens from The Guest or even Bruce Campbell would have delivered a much more interesting take on this—but instead you’re sort of left mocking Reeves, which is not at all helpful to the character. You need to be endlessly empathetic to him and want to see him escape, not get further humiliated.

There’s a moment towards the end of the film that’s Evan’s huge scene. It’s a transformative monologue that makes nothing but good points and is a staunch reminder that Evan is the hero in all of this. It’s the sort of speech that the audience should applaud at afterwards but instead I guarantee you that people are just going to laugh, or even cheer when Genesis and Bel respond how they do. I don’t mean to be harping endlessly on Reeves here, but it’s a distracting performance that he puts out, even if he does just go for broke with it all. By the time he’s barking about taking “free pizza,” it’s already too late for him.

Knock Knock’s conclusion also frustrates as Evan really doesn’t deserve the fate that he’s given. The film treats the final moments as if Evan’s angry, raging side is who he really is, whereas that couldn’t seem to be further from the truth. Evan’s more than justified for his anger. With this blunt conclusion and the film offering up no hint of seeing the lasting psychological damage that Genesis and Bel may or may not be going through, the movie as a whole certainly feels hollow and the commentary that it might have been making about abuse is muddled and lost to Roth’s typically loud style. Instead the takeaway that the film wants us to have is on men being inherently unfaithful and “evil” with these two women in fact being some sort of misunderstood angels in disguise.

While Knock Knock can successfully claim that it does present that perspective to some degree, that’s nothing to be proud of. Countless films brandish this “edgy” theme, and for this one to ride out on that makes it merely feel like another face amongst the crowd as opposed to something unique. In Roth’s defense, this conclusion could have gone down a much worse route but he instead shows restraint. His ending does have a strong impact that arguably “works,” but the problem is that Evan doesn’t seem like the terrible person that needs to learn the lesson that he’s taught.

Knock Knock is far from a good movie, but also far from a bad one, with it more than anything seeming to be an interesting piece in the filmography of Eli Roth. It could act as the turning point as he ushers in a more cerebral, psychological brand of horror as opposed to the visceral variety that he’s been focused on so far. I might have thought I was finished with Roth’s outings in the past, and even if Knock Knock hasn’t gotten me back on board with the director, it has shown me that he perhaps has a little more left to say

Categories: Horror News

[Review] ‘Howl’ is a Fun and Frightening Romp!

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 12:01

I still maintain that American Werewolf in London, Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps are the holy trinity of modern werewolf movies, and when a new one comes along, I’ve no choice but to judge it according to these standards. Howl, directed by special effects maestro Paul Hyett (you probably know him from The Descent), already had two strikes in my book once I saw the trailer and noticed the CGI transformations and the reusing of plot elements from Dog Soldiers, but turned out to be an unexpectedly fun experience in the end.

Most of the entire film takes place in and around an overnight train from London travelling through a foggy forest. When the train breaks down for unknown reasons, frustrated ticket-collector Joe, played by Ed Speeler from A Lonely Place to Die, has to man up in order to protect the angry group of passengers from whatever dangers lurk outside. His coworker Ellen, played by Holly Weston, joins him and an ensemble cast of late-night travelers desperate to get home and escape whatever creature is stalking them in the dark.

Plotwise, it’s not anything new, but it’s the execution that makes this film stand out. Like any good thriller, a solid introduction to the characters makes you feel sorry for almost every one of them that meets an untimely end, even though many of them at times seem like cookie-cutter archetypes. The dialogue is believable and so are the reactions to the horror around them, but there were a few inconsistencies and leaps of logic regarding how the werewolf “infection” worked. It’s hinted at this might not be a supernatural phenomenae, and though it makes sense that the passengers wouldn’t exactly know what’s going on, I would like to have learned more about the mythology behind the film.

The atmosphere and stylish direction were the highlights of the film, with a subtle soundtrack emphasizing some of the tenser moments. That’s why even the shoddy CGI can be forgiven (It’s mostly used in full-body shots of the werewolves and thankfully sparse), especially considering the great make-up and practical effects. It’s no surprise that Hyett’s team did their best with the prosthetics considering his effects background, but there are a few close-ups on the digitally enhanced wolves that look simply awful.

Howl may be light on plot, but it’s also entirely worth the price of admission if you’re a fan of character-driven thrillers. The payoff may not be as good as the setup, especially considering the brutal and emotional scenes preceding the ending, but it’s still a satisfying experience. The gory parts are fun and frightening but don’t get in the way of the story and the characters are convincing. After watching this movie, you’ll think twice before taking a train on a full moon.

Categories: Horror News

Here’s Every Kill in the ‘Friday the 13th’ Series [Halloween Treat]

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 09:01

While there won’t be a Friday the 13th in October until 2017, we can still take this year to share a very cool infographic that was designed by the folk over at that goes through each of the Friday the 13th films and breaks down each type of kill that is seen in that film, a list that amounts to over 200 kills! What’s obviously clear is that while the machete might not be the only weapon Jason Voorhees has used over the years, it’s definitely the one that has accumulated the most notches on his death belt!

Hopefully but the October 2017 Friday the 13th, this list will have to be updated because we’ll have seen our favorite hockey mask wearing mass murdered have another go!

Categories: Horror News

‘Naciye’ Attacked Screamfest Last Night (Images)

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 18:59

Award-winning Turkish actress Derya Alabora (Innocence, When We Leave, A Most Wanted Man) stars as the title character Naciye in Lutfu Emre Cicek’s feature film directorial debut.

Naciye had its World Premiere screening at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA at Hollywood & Highland as part of Screamfest LA last night. Cicek and the film’s stars Esin Harvey and Gorkem Mertsoz were in attendance.

In Naciye,a pregnant couple (Esin Harvey, Gorkem Mertsoz) travels for the weekend to check on the house they rented on a whim for the remainder of the pregnancy. On their first night at the secluded home they encounter the dangerous woman who claims to be its rightful owner.

Naciye was filmed on location during the off-season on the beautiful Princess Islands off the Marmara Coast of Istanbul, Turkey. Empty seaside mansions and gorgeous vistas belie the sinister and dangerous events about to unfold. The idyllic scene turns bloody and horrific as the body count quickly grows.

The film was directed, written, produced and edited by Cicek, produced by Refik Zafer Cicek and Begum Malaz, executive produced by Naciye Sonbay and Ekmel Sonbay with stunning cinematography by Kamil Satir.

Categories: Horror News

‘Colossal’ New Casting for Monster Movie

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 18:47

Austin Stowell, pictured, has been cast as Anne Hathaway’s love interest in Colossal, the monster pic written and to be directed by Timeframes‘ Nacho Vigalondo for Brightlight Pictures, says Deadline.

Colossal is “Aaout an ordinary woman (Hathaway) who discovers she has a connection to a series of attacks by a giant lizard and a robot in Tokyo, and she needs to find out why she is the only person who can stop it.

Production gets underway next week on the pic.

Vigalondo also helmed one of the V/H/S: Viral segments for us, as well as the indie sci-fe epic, Extraterrestrial.

Categories: Horror News

‘Hack/Slash’ Hacking Up Slashers on Television!!

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 18:38

The wait could be coming to an end, thanks to the success of shows like “The Walking Dead.”

THR is reporting that “Hack/Slash,” the long-in-the works adaptation of the cult horror comic is now being developed as a television series!

Skip Woods, whose credits range from Swordfish to A Good Day to Die Hard to the Hitman movies, is writing the script.

Created by Tim Seeley and Stefano Caselli, “‘Hack/Slash’ centers on Cassie Hack, a woman who symbolizes the cliche of the lone girl who survives at the end of every horror movie. However, the emotionally damaged girl not only survived but has become a killer of killers. Along with a burly protector named Vlad, Hack travels across the country hunting slashers in the vein of ‘Halloween’s’ Michael Myers, ‘Friday the 13th’s’ Jason Voorhees and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’s’ Freddy Krueger.

When it was set up as a feature, it had directors such as Marcus Nispel, Fredrik Bond and Todd Lincoln attached, with Justin Marks and Stephen Susco among the writers.

The project is set up at Relativity Television, which has been spun off from Relativity Media with a new ownership umbrella that includes Anchorage Capital, Falcon Investments and Luxor Capital. Tom Forman remains the CEO.

Woods will also exec produce with Adrian Askarieh, who first optioned the comic back in 2005, and Ray Ricord.

Daniel Alter and Geoffrey Yim are co-exec producers.

Categories: Horror News

‘The Hallow’ is Available on DirecTV Now!

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 13:25

Corin Hardy’s supernatural horror thriller The Hallow is now available to rent on DirecTV! The movie is making itself available on the PPV service starting today and ending November 4th, two days before its theatrical release. You can read our glowing review of the film.

Deep within the darkness of secluded forest land in rural Ireland dwells an ancient evil. Feared by the nearby superstitious villagers as cursed creatures who prey upon the lost, their secrets have been kept from civilization and remain on their hallowed ground. But when a conservationist from London moves in with his wife and infant child in order to survey the land for future construction, his actions unwittingly disturb the horde of demonic forces. Alone in a remote wilderness, he must now ensure his family’s survival from their relentless attacks.

The film stars Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton and Michael Smiley.

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Categories: Horror News

5 Great Halloween Commercials

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 13:01

It should come as no surprise that October is my favorite month. It’s the start of basketball season, of which I am a huge fan, but it’s also the month of Halloween and the one time of year that horror truly reigns supreme. As a kid growing up I always felt like everyone went all out for Halloween – stores, TV shows, every house on the block and so on. What really struck a chord with me were the TV commercials. It seemed like virtually every product got in the spirit and unleashed some Halloween-themed commercial.

Thanks to the likes of YouTube, I’m able to re-visit a lot of these commercials quite easily. In doing so I decided to make a list of 5 Great Halloween Commercials. These are in no particular order, and I’m not even saying they’re the 5 best, but they are 5 Halloween commercials that I really, really love.

Categories: Horror News

‘Star Wars’ Meets ‘Aliens’ in This Fantastic Fan Comic [Halloween Treat]

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 13:00

Deviant Art artist Robert Shane has a small fan comic that he created where he merged the worlds of Star Wars and Aliens, facing several stormtroopers and none other than Darth Vader against a few Xenomorphs. It’s wonderful illustrated and the dialogue isn’t too bad. There are some nice nods to the source materials and there’s a twist ending that pretty much makes me really want to see more comics drawn. Alas, it seems that this was a one off for Shane but we should appreciate the work and effort he put into these several pages!

Make sure to give Robert a follow on Twitter to let him know your thoughts on the comic, which you can view below!

Categories: Horror News

The Orchard is Heading ‘Southbound’ With “Twilight Zone”-esque Anthology

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:46

I’m pretty excited to share the news, via TheWrap, that Southbound, a new anthology featuring Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence, has been sold to The Orchard!

I produced this new anthology (full disclosure) that’s being compared to “The Outer Limited” and “The Twilight Zone,” which is beyond humbling.

Southbound has its World Premiere in TIFF’s Midnight Madness program before screening at this September’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

In Southbound, “Five intertwining tales of terror unfold along an endless desert highway. On a desolate stretch of road, weary travelers — two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation — are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in these interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road.

Radio Silence reunites after delivering fun scares with “10-31-98” in V/H/S and doing Devil’s Due for Fox. Bruckner, who is hard at work on the new Friday the 13th, directed by The Signal, as well as the “Amateur Night” segment from V/H/S. Benjamin produced V/H/S and V/H/S/2 with Tom and myself, and is making her directorial debut with Southbound. Horvath landed on our radar with his and Dallas Dallas Richard Hallam’s haunting indie Entrance.

“When we saw Southbound, we knew we were looking into the eyes of a much different animal,” said Paul Davidson, SVP of Film & TV at The Orchard. “Southbound is a slick and stylish film that will have audiences engrossed from the moment the engines kick into gear and we can’t wait to invite them to take that journey.”

The Orchard has been making waves in the independent film scene this year, acquiring and releasing a wide range of high-profile titles including, but not limited to, Patrick Brice‘s The Overnight starring Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman; Joe Swanberg-directed Digging for Fire starring Jake Johnson, Brie Larson and Anna Kendrick; and Matthew Heineman’s 2015 Sundance award winning documentary Cartel Land.

Expect Southbound to hit theaters and VOD near you in 2016.

Categories: Horror News

‘Knock Knock’ Clips Begin with Seduction, End with Breakfast

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:33

Eli Roth’s Knock Knock (read our review) is opening in limited theaters and On Demand October 9th, 2015 via Lionsgate Premiere.

We landed three new clips from the remake of Peter S. Traynor’s 1977 Death Game, which tells the story of two seductresses who have sex with and thus torment a married man on one fateful evening.

The clips begin with a playful game of boxing between one of the girls and Keanu Reeves, while the second has him seduced, with the last having a messy breakfast. Fun and games quickly turn sour.

In Knock Knock, “When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

A sexy new thriller from director Eli Roth, ‘Knock Knock’ stars Keanu Reeves as the family man who falls into temptation and Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas as the seductresses who wreak havoc upon his life, turning a married man’s dark fantasy into his worst nightmare.

Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, and Colleen Camp also star in Knock Knock.

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Categories: Horror News

‘Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans’ Heads to the Backwoods This Thanksgiving (Trailer)

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:32

Horror-comedy Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans heads home for Thanksgiving, releasing November 17 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

A backwoods family of hillbillies, plagued with a mysterious zombie curse, are about to become stars thanks to Barnaby Hunt, the host of Horror Hunts in this “funny take on the zombie apocalypse” (Legless Corpse).

2001 Maniacs meets Tucker and Dale Vs Evil in Jimmy Lee Combs’s “wonderfully offensive showcase of grotesquely kooky characters and inventive low-budget effects” (Rue Morgue).

A disturbing mystery lurks on an old backwoods farm brought to new light when a traveling camera team arrives… seeking the one and only Hans Crippleton.

Scripted by Kevon Ward. Starring Andy Hankins, Lyle DeRose (the upcoming The Magnificent Seven) and Emma Moody.

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Categories: Horror News

Health Release Live “Stonefist” Video

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:08

Electronic rock band Health have released a live video for “Stonefist: Live from Il Duomo”. The video was recorded at London’s The Dome Tuffnell Park this past June and was shot as a single take on the Red Dragon 8k camera, making it the first live concert to be shot at that quality.

Director Giorgio Testi, who created live films for Blur, The Rolling Stones, and more, explains, “I love long takes at gigs, but it’s usually pretty hard to deliver an interesting long take during an actual concert in front of an audience, especially if you want to offer different point of views through out: you really only have 1 take to deliver that, and it’s really challenging.

The transitions that you see were all created using zooms and pans in post production. This was done by creating a 3D silk screen that was then composed with high definition frames in a single shot. It’s rather amazing to think that all of the footage below was created in one single take, especially because it looks like multiple cameras were used.

Categories: Horror News

Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Alien’ Sequel Part of Expanded Universe

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:38

There’s no sign of slowing down when it comes to FOX and Ridley Scott’s Alien expansion.

Scott is planning several sequels to Prometheus, his Alien prequels, with the next (Alien: Paradise Lost) aiming for release on May 30, 2017.

With Scott shifting titles to remove Prometheus from its moniker, it left many of us wondering where this leaves Neill Blomkamp’s untitled Alien sequel, which is to follow the events of Aliens, the 1986 sequel directed by James Cameron.

According to Scott, a first draft has been completed, with a target to have it in theaters by 2017.

“We have Neill Blomkamp’s Alien, which will be out in 2017,” he tells the Daily Beast. “We just have the first [screenplay] draft in so far but it looks pretty good.”

I’m not exactly sure how Blomkamp’s Alien will release by 2017 considering he is still in the drafting phase with no plans of shooting anytime soon, yet Scott’s Alien: Paradise Lost films in March just to make it in theaters by 2017.

From where I’m standing, Scott’s expanded Alien-verse is so out of control he can’t even picture a timeline in his head. Clearly, Blomkamp’s Alien isn’t going to go into production next year, with Scott shooting his, which makes me think Blomkamp is going to have to wait until 2017 to go into production with a 2018 release. This sort of fits into our exclusive report regarding Scott’s Prometheus sequel holding up Blomkamp’s Alien.

And if that’s not enough to scramble your brain, Scott’s Alien films will eventually bridge into his 1979 classic. For more on actual story details, check out our report from yesterday that reveals plans for a new crew and destroyed Engineer home planet.

Watch this spot for more Alien madness as it comes in (probably tomorrow).

Categories: Horror News

“Hemlock Grove” Season 3 Trailer Promises “The Final Chapter”

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:35

A trailer for the third season of Netflix’s horror show “Hemlock Grove” has been released and can be seen below. The trailer shows a ton of clips from the first two seasons as well as glimpses into the upcoming season, which premieres on Netflix on October 23rd.

Executive producer Eli Roth made an interesting comment about how this season will go, saying that the story will be wrapped up but that things only seem to get messy in terms of gore, commenting “We’re going to wrap up the story, and it’s going to be messy – not in terms of story, but in terms of gory.

The tagline for the third season, which is dubbed “The Final Chapter”, states that there will be “No Happy Endings”.

Hemlock Grove comes to a riveting and deliciously disturbing conclusion. As the town’s grim secrets continue to unravel at an alarming pace, Olivia (Famke Janssen), Roman (Bill Skarsgård), Peter (Landon Liboiron) and Shelley (Madeleine Martin) are introduced to mysterious new people while facing dangerous and unexpected obstacles. As enemies both foreign and familial close in, Peter and Roman learn that in order to prevent the ‘end of days,’ they will both need to sacrifice their humanity and release their true inner monsters.

Eli Roth and Charles (“Chic”) Eglee serve as executive producers alongside Brian McGreevy, Lee Shipman, Eric Newman and Michael Connolly. Hemlock Grove is produced by Gaumont International Television for Netflix.

Categories: Horror News

[Review] ‘Bone Tomahawk’ Isn’t Your Daddy’s Western

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:07

From up-and-coming writer/director S. Craig Mahler comes Bone Tomahawk, a surprisingly effective entry in the world of western filmmaking that approaches the genre from a much more brutal, bloodier perspective. In other words, this isn’t your daddy’s western.

In this beautiful plight into dangerous territory, a group of men are clearly not prepared for what they are about to encounter. The trouble they are about to walk into will swallow them whole, and yet, despite knowing in the back of their minds that going up against such ruthless, ferocious people who have a much better grasp of the land will inevitably backfire, in true heroic fashion, they must push forward anyway. These men are hardened by their rugged conditions, and therefore must adhere to the definition of manhood that has been constructed by their rough society. That’s why when a straggler is kidnapped from the local jail by inbred, cave-dwelling, cannibalistic Indians, along with two of their regular townspeople, Sheriff Franklin Hunt, Arthur O’Dywer, Chicory, and John Brooder make it their mission to set out upon a long and dangerous journey to retrieve them.

Not since the days of Tombstone, more than twenty years ago, have audiences seen Kurt Russell up on top of a horse, and it’s a very welcome return to form. Despite his few appearances in depictions of the Old West, it feels like Russell was born for westerns, as he delivers his lines with an air of calm authority and sly wit, casually but firmly declaring himself in the most powerful man in this room and any other. He’s in charge, and anyone else who tries to take that title from him is only kidding themselves, as Russell points out when a gentle flick of his wrist that shoots a quick blow of his pistol and subtly renders Purvis (David Arquette) immovable but alive when he tries to skip out on his crimes.

Russell musters the jaded strength and the quiet bravery that wrangles the rest of the gang along and keeps them in line, a standout trait that seems to illustrate the actions of cast itself, along with the characters they personify. Without him, this would still be an impressive, well-acted film, but with Russell in charge, it’s a modern day masterpiece of a genre that seemed all but lost in today’s film world.

All around, the cast is terrific, and everyone seems well equipped to handle their assignments. David Arquette in particular finally seems like he’s landed a role that actually sits extremely well with him, and the only real grievance of the film is that his character Purvis doesn’t stick around longer to let Arquette show what he can really do.

Deliberately slow-paced and at times almost stubbornly slow moving, Bone Tomahawk might feel like a bit much at times, but if anything, the drawn out nature of these mens’ pilgrimage to the cave only helps demonstrate the agonizing frustration that often came with the pace of the time period, especially when one was injured, or desperately trying to retrieve someone they lost.

The shockingly violent, extremely graphic barbarity may not be for everyone, but if you can stomach it, it makes for a very satisfying ending, despite the sadness that comes with knowing that all of these characters can’t possibly make it back home alive. Whether the viewers deem it too gory to be grouped in with the rest of the traditional entries, or accept it as a new angle on a subject that seemed all but worn out, all fans of the genre can agree on one thing: the fact that it’s just nice to see a resurgence of westerns in this day and age.

With films coming out like Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Daniel Barber’s The Keeping Room, and Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence, it’s become clear that movie goers aren’t done with westerns just yet, and even if the newest additions don’t quite resemble the ones from the past, it’s exciting to see newer filmmakers pull from the classics they love, while adding in new techniques and styles to make the genre refreshing all over again.

Categories: Horror News

[Theory] Jessica Lange will Return to “American Horror Story” As…

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:00

Okay, so it’s no secret that Jessica Lange is probably the best thing about every season of “American Horror Story“, am I right? Her incredible acting and stunning performances across many characters through many time periods has been the main highlight of the series since it started in 2011.

As many of you know, Lange has made it clear that she’s done with the show. However, word since then is that show creator Ryan Murphy simply needs to create the right role for her to make a comeback. And you know what? I think I’ve figured out a story/role that would bring her back and see her check into the “Hotel”.

So, first of all I need to make it 100% clear that this is a theory and nothing more. This is NOT official news nor is this insider information. This is pure speculation but it’s fun as hell and I think that it could be something the writers are seriously considering.

Here are the facts about “American Horror Story: Hotel“:
The story takes place in the Cortez Hotel, a building built in 1930 that was actually intended to be used as a cover for murderous activities, much like the World’s Fair Hotel in Chicago that was owned and operated by Herman Webster Mudgett, a.k.a. Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, America’s first recorded serial killer.

The owner of the Cortez is Lady Gaga, a socialite who maintains her physical appearance by drinking human blood, echoing Countess Elizabeth Bathory. In fact, the name of Gaga’s character is “The Countess”.

Related: [Review] “American Horror Story: Hotel” Delivers Extreme Sex, Drugs and Violence!

Now, here’s where my theory comes into play. I believe that as the episodes unveil themselves, the story will progress in such a way as to make sure The Countess is deprived of her precious rejuvenating blood. And, just like Dorian Gray when faced with his own portrait, Gaga will age rapidly, her youth and beauty withering away. Then, imagine an episode wrapping up with Lady Gaga trashing her personal hotel room because of her frustration, anger, and desperation that she can’t receive her sorely needed fresh blood. Now, continue that imaginative streak by envisioning the final scene with Gaga hunched over a makeup desk, her back heaving as she gulps in breaths between sobs, her room a mess of broken furniture and decorations. As she stops crying, she lifts her head and looks into the mirror, showing that it’s now Jessica Lange staring at herself, old and enraged, her face streaked with tears.

Boom. Heads explode. The heavens open and a choir of angels sing their praises. Everyone loses their minds as the return of the REAL American Horror Story star comes back for one last episode of mayhem, carnage, and destruction in which she takes her revenge on those that wronged her.

Hey, Ryan Murphy! I’m available for consultations. Fees may (read: absolutely will) apply.

Categories: Horror News

‘Puppet Master 4’ Finally Available on Blu-ray!

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 09:01

Full Moon is now taking orders for Puppet Master 4 on Blu-ray with the product expected to begin shipping on October 12th. Personally I think this is awesome news. The more Full Moon we get on Blu-ray, the better. To date I’ve been quite pleased with Full Moon’s Blu-ray releases, with Trancers ranking as one of my absolutely favorite Blu-ray releases ever, so I’ve got pretty high hopes for this one. You can pre-order your copy from Full Moon today.

Toulon’s Puppets for once, are about to do something good. As the bad puppets turn good!. The mini-menaces Blade, Tunneler, and Pinhead go toe-to-toe with their most menacing enemy yet-a team of terrifying, gremlin-like creatures known as “Totems” that are sent by the evil Egyptian demon Sutekh to recapture the magic stolen by Toulon. The demons target a young scientist, Rick who is now in possession of the Puppet Master secrets. As the creatures attempt to terminate his research and regain the “secret of life”, they leave a deadly path of destruction until the evil Totems finally find Toulon’s puppets in their way. However, Rick has a secret weapon on his side and the newest head-swapping puppet…Decapitron!

Year: 1993
Rating: R
Runtime: 79 Mins
Aspect Ratio: widescreen 16:9
Sound: 5.1 Surround?
Format: NTSC
Region: Free

Special Features:
All NEW Director’s Commentary by Jeff Burr

Director: Jeff Burr
Writer: Charles Band, Douglas Aarniokoski, Steven E. Carr, Jo Duffy, Todd Henschell, Keith S. Payson, David Schmoeller

Starring: Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ash Adams, Teresa Hill, Felton Perry, Stacie Randall, Guy Rolfe

Categories: Horror News

[Review] “American Horror Story: Hotel” – ‘Checking In’ to Utter Debauchery

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 08:15

Strong opener for “AHS: Hotel.” I’ve started going into this show with a lot of caution after the mess that was season three and four. But I was instantly turned on by the retro yet dichotomous ambiance of the Hotel Cortez and the insanely diverse cast of characters. The setting, music, and mood of this pilot episode were stunning, haunting, disturbing, and totally arousing. The music in particular was just so spot on.

It’s not the easiest pilot episode to recap as it left a lot open to interpretation and didn’t give a lot of explanations for…anything. Though MrDisgusting does a pretty good job of recapping, which you can read here. We know there’s a hotel. And it’s special. We know Lady Gaga is some sort of vampire type thing who rules them all. We know not to go into room 64. And don’t rip open any mattresses.

Right off the bat, “Hotel” has a very similar feel to “Murder House,” which was personally my favorite season of AHS. It’s sexy, really, really sexy. It’s the first season since season one that has as much sex appeal as it does horrific elements. While the other seasons straddled the line of psychosexual horror, “Hotel” is about as psychosexual horror as you can get—as evidenced in the orgy scene that turned into a sexual bloodbath. Speaking of which, Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer are absolutely perfect. From the second they came on the scene they were viciously erotic, unbelievably daring, and flaunted a nonchalant confidence that made me swoon.

Another thing that “Hotel” really has going for it is that Murphy pushes more boundaries—even for FX—than he ever has before. And this is Ryan Murphy we’re talking about, the king of pushing boundaries. Yet still, “Hotel” beats out anything else he’s done as far as sex and gore are concerned. I’m always slightly shocked by what he is able to get away with on television. This was definitely the goriest AHS pilot to date.

I wasn’t crazy about Wes Bentley and Chloe Sevigny’s storyline. It’s a bit cliché for my tastes. Obsessive detective who works too hard, destroys his family because of his workaholic tendencies. Wife who can’t look her husband in the eyes because he reminds her too much of their lost son. I’ve seen it a million times before. The only hope I have that the storyline will improve is that he moved into room 64 by the end of the pilot. For his sake, I hope the drill-like strap-on never makes an appearance again.

“Hotel” feels drastically different from previous seasons while still keeping that quintessential Murphy flavor. It’s moodier, darker, and more sensual. It’s extremely more graphic with a juxtaposition of old-fashioned whimsy. If Murphy can stray away from his MO of throwing too many storylines at his audience while leaving so many questions unanswered, I think this could be the best thing to happen in a while. Meaning: I was a huge fan of the pilot. Let’s see how I feel next week.

Stray Observations:

I was hesitant about Max Greenfield because he’s such a doof in “New Girl,” but he was so perfect as the douchy, arrogant junkie and I truly hope to see more of him.

The real estate agent from season one and the inside joke about the dog! Perfect!

Smart move making the first hotel guests of the pilot foreign. It felt like a page out of the book of Eli Roth.

Denis O’Hare. That is all.

Categories: Horror News

‘Poltergeist’ “Curse” Focus of New Documentary

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 22:30

Producer and filmmaker Adam Ripp wants to get to the bottom of the supposed curse that has plagued the cast of the Steven Spielberg-produced Poltergeist film series, THR is reporting.

Ripp is directing “The Curse of Poltergeist,” which his company, Vega Baby, is financing and producing alongside Indonesia-based MD Pictures. He’s set to start shooting in November.

The documentary will focus on the life and experiences of Poltergeist actor Oliver Robins, who played Robbie Freeling in the first and second installment of the franchise, as a way to explore the tragedies that have befallen those involved with the films.

We here at Bloody Disgusting gave you a brief history of the alleged curse earlier this year.

“It will be a journey into the unknown as I attempt to understand the meaning behind the tragedies surrounding the movie,” said Robins, of the The Curse of Poltergeist. “It’s something that will hopefully bring closure to a dark chapter in my life.”

Many of the actors involved in the project have met dreadful ends, explains the site, including Dominique Dunne who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, and young star Heather O’Rourke, who died at the age of twelve of acute bowel obstruction right before the third film was released.

In 2002, the curse was the focus of an E! True Hollywood Story.

Categories: Horror News