For the month of October we’re going to take you down memory lane and reveal what horror films opened on each day leading up to Halloween.
October 1 actuality saw quite a few releases, most notably George A. Romero’s $100k indie Night of the Living Dead, which made a whopping $30M worldwide at the box office. Explains Wiki, Night of the Living Dead was heavily criticized at its release owing to explicit content, but eventually garnered critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” It’s soaked in social commentary that’s still relevant today.
And as unbelievable as it sounds, today also marks the 40th anniversary of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, another horror indie that broke through the Hollywood barrier. Hooper produced the film for less than $300,000 and used a cast of relatively unknown actors drawn mainly from central Texas, where the film was shot, explains Wiki. The limited budget forced Hooper to film for long hours seven days a week, so that he could finish as quickly as possible and reduce equipment rental costs. Due to the film’s violent content, Hooper struggled to find a distributor. Louis Perano of Bryanston Pictures eventually purchased the distribution rights. Hooper limited the quantity of onscreen gore in hopes of securing a ‘PG’ rating, but the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated it ‘R’. The film faced similar difficulties internationally.
The site also explained that, Uupon its October 1974 release, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was banned outright in several countries, and numerous theaters later stopped showing the film in response to complaints about its violence. While it initially drew a mixed reception from critics, it was enormously profitable, grossing over $30 million at the domestic box office. It has since gained a reputation as one of the best horror films in cinema history. It is credited with originating several elements common in the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons and the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure. The popularity of the film led to a franchise that continued the story of Leatherface and his family through sequels, remakes, one prequel, comic books and video games.
A look through the history books also reveals that October 1 shared the release of the 1978 Patrick, which has since been remade, Magnolia Pictures’ 2009 Universal Soldier: Regeneration, Paramount Pictures’ god-awful 2009 Case 39, and even Dark Sky Films’ 2010 release of Adam Green’s Hatchet II!
If you’re looking for a way to kickoff this October in style, starting with the brand new TCM box set and NOTLD is a great place to start! Share your stories below. When was the first time you saw them all? Which is your fav?
Stand back, because I’m about to bust open Pandora’s Box and unleash hell by addressing a touchy topic among horror fans – that being the popular but controversial subgenre known as the horror “mockumentary.” By definition, a horror mockumentary is a fictional documentary production addressing horrific subject matter (including scary supernatural/fantastical themes or more down-to-earth horrors like serial killers) by treating it as if the source material were 100% genuine.
Now, the first thing that probably springs to your mind when I mention this topic is the “found footage” phenomenon… but that’s not what I’m going to discuss today. There’s obviously a very fuzzy line between the two, but for the sake of this list I’m ruling out any feature film that treats its visuals as raw, unedited footage and not the product of a fictional filmmaker’s editorial vision. In other words, you won’t find Cannibal Holocaust, The Blair Witch Project, the Paranormal Activity series, Cloverfield or any of their countless imitators listed here.
Sure, all of the titles below contain a variety of staged footage, fictionally claimed to have been obtained by the filmmakers, but that’s where the similarities to typical found footage entries end; instead, these films use a documentary framework to lend a sense of believability to the events depicted onscreen, and when done properly the technique is often more terrifying, as the structure of a documentary implies an authority and authenticity that most found footage features lack. Maybe I’m nitpicking, and maybe you’re hoping to find more traditional found footage titles here… but don’t worry, I’ll be tackling the found footage craze itself in the future, so those films will get their own moment in the shaky spotlight.
Here are thirteen mock-docs that creeped me out the most, listed in chronological order… and if you have a favorite that isn’t listed here, be sure to add it in the comments!
The War Game (1965)
You may be surprised to see such a vintage entry in a genre that is otherwise a 21st-century phenomenon, but you’ll be amazed at how chilling this extremely controversial UK television movie can be. It uses a news/documentary format to package a grim and horrifying scenario in which Cold War tensions finally ignite into a thermonuclear exchange over Europe. For my money, this one is far more disturbing than the infamous TV drama The Day After, which aired a full 20 years later.
Punishment Park (1971)
Another old-school entry, this experimental film is set in a fictional dystopia where protesters are labeled traitors by the state and rounded up into camps. The main twist here is that the authorities offer the prisoners a shot at freedom if they volunteer to take part in a bizarre, twisted game of “capture the flag” over a 48-hour period, under the watchful eye of paramilitary police – who are beginning to show moral tensions within their own ranks. This seldom-seen production may have been the product of Vietnam-era angst (and it’s more than a little preachy), but in light of police brutality stories making the news today, with images of protesters facing police tanks on small-town streets, it’s kind of relevant again. [On a lighter note, this film likely served as inspiration for the Australian exploitation flick Turkey Shoot, which was tons of sleazy fun, but not nearly as disturbing.]
The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
The first monster movie to disguise itself as a docudrama was the invention of Charles B. Pierce, producer of popular drive-in fare throughout the 1970s. Pierce’s first film capitalized on ’70s “Bigfoot mania,” delving into local legends of the “Fouke Monster” which has allegedly terrorized Arkansas river dwellers for decades. Threadbare production values and an amateur cast (Pierce recruited locals to play themselves) lend a kind of gritty realism to the film, and some genuine scares combined with the “G” rating meant some impressionable young kids were soon scarred for life. [Not only is a Boggy Creek remake in the works, but a new version of Pierce's creepy 1976 thriller The Town That Dreaded Sundown hits screens next month.]
Another UK television special, this prime-time chiller was packaged as a completely legitimate news program. The scenario: a camera crew spends one night with a family in their reportedly haunted suburban home (itself based on a reported poltergeist incident) while hosts, paranormal researchers and other talking heads analyze their footage in real time from the studio. A cast of familiar faces from British TV news and talk shows, combined with very few disclaimers that the show was fake, led many viewers to believe the events onscreen were real, which prompted a wave of panic – especially during the final moments, when the evil forces occupying the house apparently possess the TV signal itself.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
This French/Belgian production is equal parts pitch-black satire and skin-crawling horror. Shot on hand-held 16mm cameras in grainy black and white, it’s presented as the project of two renegade film students who somehow convince a brutal serial killer (co-director Benoît Poelvoorde) to allow them to film his day-to-day routine as he plans his next string of murders. It’s a given that this scenario will soon get completely out of hand, but you may not expect just how twisted things eventually go down. The makers of The Blair Witch Project must have viewed this film at some point, since many of the shots – especially the terrifying finale – are remarkably similar.
The Last Broadcast (1998)
Another kindred spirit to Blair Witch, this micro-budget DV production (the first feature film to be projected digitally in theaters) went before the cameras first, but was released around the same time. But where Blair was one of the first films to discard a narrative framing device in favor of raw (fabricated) found footage, Last Broadcast sticks to the documentary format… at least up to a point. I won’t spoil the film’s climactic twist, but suffice to say it divided audiences in a major way; some viewers despised the final scenes, while others are still haunted by them. Either way, it’s a thoroughly creepy little flick about a filmmaker searching for the truth behind the bloody murders of a public-access TV crew shooting a show about the legendary “Jersey Devil.”
Noroi: The Curse (2005)
This Japanese production seems to have slipped under the international radar, and I’m not sure why; at the time, Asian horror mania was still in full swing, and Eastern shockers were being remade by the dozens in the wake of The Ring‘s box-office success. While director Kôji Shiraishi is better known for his graphic 2009 torture-fest Grotesque, Noroi is a surprisingly subtle, slow-burn piece in which a documentary director (Jin Muraki) investigates of a psychic child’s disappearance, which may be linked to a creepy, reclusive woman and a demon said to dwell within a submerged village. It’s dense, complex and maybe a little too slow for viewers expecting over-the-top shocks, but the horrific final scene is worth the wait.
Head Case (2007)
One of the more extreme entries on this list, this gritty production may not depict as much onscreen violence as, say the notorious August Underground series, but the naked sadism of the psychopathic subjects is so realistically horrifying that it’s nearly impossible to watch some scenes without flinching. The sweet, vacant smiles of the white-bread couple featured in this film are masking a monstrous secret: it seems their shared hobby involves the systematic torture and and murder of numerous victims. More horrifying than the kill scenes themselves is the couple’s calm, nonchalant attitude toward their crimes, as they discuss the best ways to prolong a victim’s torment the way your favorite aunt might share her secret for red velvet cake.
Long Pigs (2007)
Taking an obvious cue from Man Bites Dog, this darkly comic gorefest is presented as the work of two young gonzo filmmakers who manage to ingratiate themselves to a cannibalistic serial killer, who decides he’d like to share his deranged philosophy – and his preferred method of butchering and preparing human meat – with an audience. You don’t have to see the film which inspired it (although you should) to know that things won’t go well for our camera crew as the macabre humor peels back to reveal some shocking and disturbing acts. But a compelling performance by Anthony Alviano as the surprisingly amiable madman will still keep you guessing.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
Unlike other serial killer titles on this list, the unseen villain at the heart of this gruesome tale – presented as an Unsolved Mysteries-style investigative program – has no charming qualities to lighten the proceedings. Our subject, known only as the “Water Street Butcher,” is a totally inhuman monster, whose sadism is unlike anything ever depicted on camera. There’s little onscreen violence, but it’s the Butcher’s manipulation of his victims and the investigators that will have you installing new deadbolts on your doors. While the “experts” interviewed throughout the film are a mixed bag of performers, the killer himself is so unrelentingly evil that his vile deeds – which he films for posterity – practically pry your eyes open and force you to watch. While this film never saw official release (not even on DVD), creators John and Drew Dowdle would soon find success in more found-footage features, including Quarantine and most recently As Above, So Below.
Lake Mungo (2008)
One of the most subtle and artful films on this list, this Australian production nevertheless contains one of the scariest scenes I’ve ever witnessed. On the surface, it’s a fairly straightforward documentary about teenage girl whose spirit allegedly continues to haunt her family after she drowns in a swimming accident. However, the accompanying interviews, still photos, and archival footage reveal a more earthbound mystery, exposing the unpleasant underbelly of a small, quiet suburban community. If this sounds a bit like Twin Peaks, that’s probably no coincidence (the victim’s last name is Palmer), but the subject matter is played totally straight… until the story takes a shocking, unexpected turn that pulls the rug out from under your expectations.
The Fourth Kind (2009)
While it has its fair share of flaws, this film gets a nod for taking a unique, two-tiered approach to the material: at the outset, we are told this alien abduction tale is a dramatization, with star Milla Jovovich introducing herself (as herself) to the audience in the prologue; but the more theatrical presentation is intercut with glitchy low-fi footage treated as the actual events of abduction stories, revealing a different set of actors who are a bit less glamorous than Jovovich and her co-stars. The stunt doesn’t entirely work (the “real” footage still feels too stagey, even contrasted with the slicker “re-enactments”), but it earns points for originality, and some of the body-morphing “possession” scenes are legitimately creepy.
The Tunnel (2011)
This Australian shocker plays much like a subterranean version of Spanish found-footage classic [REC], but sticks more closely to the documentary format, so I’m including it here. The simple premise finds a journalist (Bel Delia) and her team delving deep into a network of abandoned tunnels beneath Sydney to determine why the government has apparently hushed up the disappearances of several homeless people who took up residence within the concrete labyrinth. Needless to say, the scoop they’re seeking isn’t the real story here – the truth is much more dangerous. Interestingly, the folks behind this indie production used a distribution model which is now becoming the norm, raising funds via crowd-sharing sites and providing a download code to anyone who donated to the project.
Runners-up [Not Scary, But Still Awesome]
Below I’ve added a bonus handful of excellent mockumentaries that, while definitely horror-themed, are more deliberately comical than scary… but they’re so entertaining, I felt compelled to mention them somewhere:
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Dead-on references to all the classic slasher villains and an incredibly funny, charismatic lead (Nathan Baesel) make this mock-doc a must for any true slasher fan’s collection. Rumors of a prequel, Before the Mask, have been circulating for years; I’m still holding out hope that the amazing Baesel will reprise his role as Leslie.
Incident at Loch Ness (2004)
Legendary director Werner Herzog turns in a droll, sardonic performance as he lampoons his image in this hilarious jab at cryptid hunters, pretentious indie filmmakers, and direct-to-video monster crap (it’s such a dead-on satire that I’d overlooked it for years, assuming it actually was just a lame CGI monster flick). Totally worth watching, if just for Herzog’s contribution alone.
This eccentric meta-jumble begins as a legit documentary about the popularity of underground fetish-horror films, but it quickly turns dark (and, I hope, fictional) after digging deeper into one of the filmmakers (Erik Rost), a strange man whose gory video series looks a bit too realistic to be mere fiction.
Troll Hunter (2010)
Some of the coolest monsters ever depicted onscreen (yes, even for CGI, they’re awesome) grace this Norwegian pseudo-doc, which taps into local folk tales for a hilarious, spooky and rowdy snowbound adventure featuring the title character (Otto Jespersen), a grouchy monster exterminator contracted by the government, who’s quite sick of his extremely dangerous job.
Berlin, Germany’s very own BLM.FM have shared a new version of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic horror film Nosferatu, which was based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. This new version has an original soundtrack composed by Shed, who recorded the soundtrack at UT Connewitz cinema in Leipzig, Germany.
Dubbed The NOS Project, you can watch the movie synced with the soundtrack below. What better was is there to kick off October than with a classic horror movie?
You can download the soundtrack for free here.
Beginning Of Movie -
Intro – 0:00
Eupho Ⅰ – 1:22
Ease Ⅰ – 5:02
Inter Ⅲ – 10:31
Eupho Ⅲ – 16:27
Inter Dist Ⅲ – 24:43
Dist Ⅰ – 30:26
G3 Plus – 37:29
Ball Pick Up – 44:34
Ballistik VER2 – 47:55
Disto Ⅱ – 51:50
Ease Ⅱ – 1:00:20
Inter NOS F – 1:07:03
NOS Es Harp – 1:13:50
Inter RQ NOS – 1:18:38
RQ171 – 1:19:45
- END Of Recording
October has officially begun and we’re in full swing bringing you everything horrific and terrifying to create the ultimate Halloween mood! And what better way to create the perfect atmosphere than with some scary stories from the past!
Below is a 40+ minute video that features broadway actor George S. Irving reading tales from Schwartz and Gammell’s Scary Stories Treasury, complete with ambient noises and eerie music.
It’s a total throwback to my childhood, when I would read these stories late at night under the covers with my flashlight, terrified to come out lest my closet door be open and some terrifying creature would be lurking just out of sight in the shadows. I listened to these stories with a huge smile, savoring the nostalgia of the moment.
1. The Big Toe
2. “What Do You Come For?”
3. Me Tie Dough-ty Walker!
4. A Man Who Lived in Leeds
5. Old Woman All Skin and Bone
6. Cold as Clay
7. The Hearse Song
8. A New Horse
10. Room for One More
11. The Dead Man’s Brains
12. The Hook
13. High Beams
14. The Babysitter
15. The Viper
16. The Slithery-Dee
17. Aaron Kelly’s Bones
18. Wait til Martin Comes.
In the spirit of “Hack/Slash” comes “Slash/Up”, a multiverse fanfilm web-series from the creators of the “Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness” fanfilm.
Each episode will pit a different set of retro movie/geek culture icons against each in a totally unique, story driven mashup, wrapped around by debate and commentary,
The first episode, which premieres Tuesday, October 14th on YouTube Channel WTFLOL, will pit Friday the 13th franchise icon Jason Voorhees against The Terminator‘s Sarah Connor!
I think this looks awesome, and the production value is fantastic. Look at how cool Jason looks!!
A Kickstarter will be launched the same day as Episode 1 (October 14th) to help us fund our next episode, ‘Freddy vs. Neo’.
The short was directed by Brian Rosenthal and stars Derek Russo and Nicole Marines.
Sam Hall, writer for the long running horror TV series Dark Shadows, has passed away at age 93 after a short bout with pneumonia. He is survived by his son, his daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.
Hall wrote over 300 episodes of Dark Shadows, including the two made-for-TV films House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. His wife was Grayson Hall, who starred in the show as Dr. Julia Hoffman, as well as other various roles.
Sam spoke for an interview recorded for a Dark Shadows DVD feature, stating:
We stole things right and left from all the horror classics, including the werewolf, which worked for a while, and a lot of the great American short story writer, [H.P.] Lovecraft. I only wish that Stephen King had been alive then, because he could have kept the show going for a hundred years.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hall. Thank you for such a memorable, exciting series.
Deadline reports that Sony Pictures looks to be getting more serious about mounting another installment of Zombieland.
The studio just hired Dave Callaham to write the sequel under the supervision of Ruben Fleischer, who’ll return to direct.
Callaham has been scripting The Expendables films, and he had story credit on Legendary’s revival of Godzilla.
They are not sure if the participants will be back; pretty much all of them have soared since making the original, from Jesse Eisenberg to Emma Stone, True Detective’s Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin (who plays the title zombie in the upcoming Maggie).
Over the years, Silent Hill has become known for a number of things. Even if they haven’t walked its empty streets, most gamers are familiar with the series’ eponymous foggy town and the disturbing monsters who call it home. For many fans of the series, it’s the uniquely atmospheric soundtracks from series composer Akira Yamaoka that really represent what Silent Hill is all about. Yamaoka’s work is iconic, and his work represents some of the best video games have to offer.
There’s been no shortage of fan renditions and tracks inspired by Yamaoka’s work on the series, and with the recent unveiling of Silent Hills — a collaborative effort between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, starring Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) — we’re seeing even more.
One of the better fan-made tributes is “It’s Coming!”, a track that was written and produced by Tom Graczkowski, who also happens to be a fan of the genre and an avid reader of Bloody Disgusting. I won’t spoil anything, because it’s great and most definitely Silent Hills in its flavor.
If this is something you’d like to have on whatever gadget it is you use to house your music, which he’s made available as a free download.
Graczkowski also made a slick-looking cover for the track that’s available (for free) in various sizes on his website that would make a great PC wallpaper for the coming Halloween season.
What lurks under the big top?
The newest promo has been released and shows all of the Freaks from the October 8 premiere of “American Horror Story: Freak Show”.
I love that the fresh footage looks like Big Top Pee-Wee, only with a horror angle. I also like that the two-headed Sarah Paulson seems to be the protagonist and the series appears to be told through her eyes.
We’ve added the colorful new promo below, which is solely for the season premiere – and it also features your first look at what’s said to be the scariest clown ever. Pennywise begs to differ…
The fourth season begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952.
“A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.“
Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, and Evan Peters return from previous seasons. New cast members includes Michael Chiklis, Wes Bentley, John Carroll Lynch, Finn Wittrock, Matt Bomer, Patti LaBelle and the world’s smallest living woman, Jyoti Amge.
The Saw is family…
Ignoring the fact that Tobe Hooper’s original Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the first and most iconic, it’s fun to look back and decide which Leatherface “looked” the best.
Frankly, I’m a big fan of Bill Johnson in Hooper’s 1986 sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the various incarnations as in in everything from Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part III to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, the remake and its sequel, The Beginning, and even Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Thankfully, Halloween Costumes has your back with this incredible new infographic that details the several incarnation of Leatherface.
After 40 years of Chainsaw, which is your fav?
In Alien: Isolation, now just a week away, even a flare can save your life. I say can, because as we can see in this new vignette, even the clever use of a light source isn’t always effective. Still, being resourceful with and finding clever uses for the items and parts that have been scattered about each environment is something you’ll need to master in order to survive Alien: Isolation.
Is it just me, or did the alien’s reaction to the flare Ripley throws seem a bit slow?
Alien: Isolation arrives on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 7.
This shit’s gonna go viral this fall.
Magnet Releasing has pulled back the curtain on the official green band trailer and images for V/H/S: Viral, which will complete our V/H/S trilogy when it hits VOD platforms October 23, 2014, with a limited theatrical run slated for November 21, 2014.
The new tape features segments directed by Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl, the incredible The ABCs of Death segment “D Is for Dogfight”), Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial), Gregg Bishop (The Other Side, Dance of the Dead), as well as Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring).
The new trailer is jam-packed with gags and spoilers, but at this point I don’t think we’re trying to keep anything secret. Fingers crossed you guys have as much fun with it as we did! Go forth, check out demon penises, demonic magicians, resurrected skeletons, and then watch this shit go viral!
“A police chase after a deranged ice cream truck has captivated the attention of the greater Los Angeles area. Dozens of fame—obsessed teens flock to the streets with their video cameras and camera phones, hell—bent on capturing the next viral video. But there is something far more sinister occurring in the streets of L.A. than a simple police chase. A resounding effect is created onto all those obsessed with capturing salacious footage for no other purpose than to amuse or titillate. Soon the discovery becomes that they themselves are the stars of the next video, one where they face their own death.”
Patrick Lawrie, Emmy Argo, Heather Hayes, Jessica Luza, John Curran, Justin Welborn, Mary Ralston, Michael Aaron Milligan, Gustavo Salmerón, Marian Álvarez, Xavi Daura, Esteban Navarro, Nick Blanco, Chase Newton, Shane Bradey and Jayden Robison star.
Marcel Sarmiento, TJ Cimfel, Dave White, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead wrote the screenplays.
One of the most glorious moments in the Bill & Ted franchise comes in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, an criminally underrated classic, when the duo are sucked into Hell by Missy and her group of weird friends.
During a seance seeking help, Missy reads incantations that send Bill and Ted to Hell, where they are forced to face the Reaper in a series of “battles” in order to escape.
But before all of the fun and mayhem, the Wyld Stallyns hilariously fall down a nearly infinite pit. A Youtube user reimagined the fall for a whopping 10 minutes. It’s fucking hysterical. Now, if only someone would make one that loops for an hour, they’d earn the final spot on my personal battle of the bands competition.
Back in April, we got our first look at the asymmetrical multiplayer horror game The Flock. It’s a game of cat and mouse, as creatures called Carriers are hunted by agile monsters known as the Flock. Armed only with a source of light — which also happens to be the Flock’s only weakness — a Carrier’s goal is to survive as long as possible.
It would seem The Flock has reached a point where it can be played by the public, as indie developer Vogelsap is now accepting registrations for the closed alpha they plan to go live on Halloween.
I’ve signed up, and you can too on the registration page.
As for what you’ll need to get in on this, a Steam account and working Internet connection are obviously required. The recommended specs haven’t been nailed down yet.
How well do you know your slasher films? That’s what this week’s quiz asks you and we want to see how well you think you can hold up!
Below are 15 questions, some of them pretty easy and some of them serious stumpers. Head on down to take the quiz and then make sure to let us know how you did!
Some bummer news hit a week ago, announcing the delay of TWC-Dimension’s Amityville, which was to hit theaters this coming January.
Now, we’re being told one of the potential reasons behind the push.
A source who wishes to remain anonymous explains that the studio held two separate screenings for Amityville: The Awakening (this I have confirmed), and the feedback was overwhelemingly positive.
The main issue audiences had with the Franck Khalfoun-directed sequel was with the ending, resulting in the Weinstein execs to order re-shoots. In additional to some additional photography (to spruce up the movie), the effects work was falling behind. The delay gives more time for post work, such as the VFX.
Lastly, the reason for the indefinite delay is that star Cameron Monaghan is in the middle of shooting the new season of “Shameless”, and his schedule is unclear.
Our multiple sources tell us that the plan is to finish everything after the November holiday and aim for a mid/late summer 2015 release.
In the film, “Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother’s expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn’t telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house.”
It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne, McKenna Grace, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Spreitler, Thomas Mann and Jennifer Morrison.
Before the found footage craze hit horror, we had endless “me-too” films being done in the Grindhouse style. And like most fads (like found footage), it was done to death by indie filmmakers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cool concept and harkened back to the days of old, but hinging your film on a particular style can only take you so far. Enter director Joaquin Montalvan’s Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher, which takes on the Grindhouse style while also paying homage to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Sounds like a natural fit, but is it style over substance?
Carl Henry Jessup (Paul E. Respass) is a backwoods hunter whose local delicacy amongst his neighbors is serving up tresspassers (aka people). In fact, his late daddy left Carl the same butcher knife he used in his own cannibalistic activities. The only people whom Carl calls family are his half sister Rae Lynn (Theresa Holly), and best friend Billy Wayne (Chris Shumway). Carl misses his parents after their tragic murder-suicide. He tries to summon them to live again with the help a demon named Sam Bakoo. Unfortunately, Carl’s soul isn’t worth the price, and in turn sets off more trouble for the cannibal.
Might as well start off with the film’s Grindhouse claim, which honestly is pretty damn impressive. The film really does look like it’s been through the ringer, sporting a faded, scratched up and otherwise ugly-looking picture. Unlike some indie productions which basically take the quick and easy guide in Adobe After Effects, Montalvan put forth a real effort in making the image look bad in a good way, while not phoning it in and doing it with the standard default settings. It really does give the film character. The same goes for the gore effects. Granted, they’re done on the cheap, but the post effects on the image help to mask this and look better than they normally would.
On the acting front, Paul E. Respass does an adequate job as Carl Jessup. Respass was able to take an obviously flat character script-wise and give it some depth, particularly with the demon subplot. Speaking of which, casting the scrawny-looking Allen East as Sam Bakoo gave the role a bit more weight (I see the irony in that) than if it were played by a more ordinary person. Theresa Holly is a treat as Carl’s half sister Rae Lynn. She’s very charming in the role, and does give the character much-needed sympathy in a film where the majority of it’s characters don’t exactly lend themselves to it.
Remember that “style over substance” quip? Yeah, unfortunately that’s the case for Hillbilly Butcher. Beneath the cool look of the film lies a script that has a serious pacing problem. Long dialogue sequences punctuated by long pauses, long stalking sequences and a just plain long runtime make this more of a chore to sit through than anything. When things do happen, the low budget origins sneak up and disappoint us with a real lack of gore. And that’s another problem with this film, as it doesn’t go all-out with it’s concept of a cannibalistic hillbilly. If the concept was explored and developed further, rather than going the artsy route with the dream sequences involving Bakoo, it probably would’ve been more exciting.
As it stands, Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher is a missed opportunity. True, it does an excellent job of establishing a Grindhouse look and feel that many low budget films fail to grasp, but it suffers with not fully embracing it’s concept, including it’s painfully slow pace. It’s a shame, since Montalvan, his cast and his crew really seemed to be fully invested in creating a great film that attempts to pay homage to Tobe Hooper’s classic. Hopefully Montalvan will be able to put more into his next film than post-production work.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for the majority of the film purposely attempts to replicate the grungy look of an old Grindhouse film as much as possible. The shots that aren’t purposely fiddled with in post sport strong colour saturation and fairly good detail. As for the rest of the film, it really does look like an old VHS tape of a film that wasn’t in the best of condition in the first place. As such, colours are faded, dirt and scratches cover the image, as well as out of focus shots and in some instances the image has a slight shake to it. Very impressive post-production job!
Unfortunately, the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is a sore spot. The overall loudness of the film is very unbalanced. Normal conversations are sometimes hard to hear, but when characters shout or scream, the levels are blown out and it’s distorted. Ambient effects also suffer, as they’re either too quiet or too loud, making their additions in post pretty obvious. What makes things worse is that the disc doesn’t come with any subtitles. It’s tolerable, but just keep your remote handy for quick volume adjustments.
First up is Gutting Da Hillbilly Butcher, an hour-long making-of doc. Consisting of talking head interviews with cast and crew, with director Joaquin Montalvan doing much of the talking. Topics include everything from the origins of the film, how the look of the film came about, casting choices, how the cast went about preparing for certain scenes, sound design, effects shots, how to morgue breathe (?!) and more. It’s pretty in-depth for a low budget film of this nature, though the continued use of the filters used in the film on the raw footage is kind of annoying.
Following that is a six minute short film Straight Razor, which was Montalvan had filmed prior to starting on Hillbilly Butcher. Shot in a similar Grindhouse-style to Hillbilly Butcher, the film is pretty surreal and has some weird imagery.
Horror Happens Interview is an 29 minute candid interview from the Home Grown Radio NJ show, Horror Happens. The host of the show, Jay K aka Jason Kolucki, interviews Montalvan with actors Paul E. Respass and Theresa Holly. The group cover different topics from the making-of doc, including Montalvan’s love of horror, differences in the script from the actual film, inspirations for the characters and more.
Rounding out the extras are three trailers for the film.
I’d have to say that I’m impressed with the effort put into the extras for this film, even if the film itself isn’t the greatest.
Every couple of years or so, a lot of horror experts like to trot out their opinions on the future of the genre. “Zombies are out.” I wish, but not yet. “Werewolves are in.” I wish, but not yet. Recently we’ve been seeing what some see as a resurgence of supernatural horror, which is causing some pundits to predict its death in a sort of a knee-jerk fashion. But here’s the thing, good supernatural horror movies, like last year’s The Conjuring, will never die. The response to both the Annabelle teaser trailer and its more recent full trailer suggest that audiences are as hungry as ever for quality scares.
It all comes down to the unknown. There is so much we don’t understand about the universe and our own lives that the supernatural subgenre can represent metaphorically. On top of that, every single human is wired to fear for their own mortality. I think one of the reasons we’re so resistant to death is that we really have no idea what happens after it occurs. Does our consciousness simply vanish? Is it nothingness? Do we go to some sort of afterlife? Do we become ghosts? Are spirits among us? I’m not a particularly religious person but I have to admit that I occasionally entertain any and all of these possibilities simply because I can’t completely wrap my head around the concept.
These concepts, concerns and fears will never truly dissipate because we will never have concrete answers. That goes for what happens to other people as well as ourselves. In the light of day I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ve also been known to switch hotel rooms because I’m convinced that there’s a spirit lurking in one of them. The same goes for horror cinema. When we watch something like Paranormal Activity 3, Insidious or The Conjuring, we lose all real objectivity on the matter. Have you ever found yourself watching a zombie film only to find yourself momentarily convinced that they’re real? No. Same thing with werewolves and vampires, right? But when you try to turn out the lights after a particularly effective haunter, it’s a different story. I’m allowed to have all manner of horror ephemera in my house… but not the Annabelle doll. It’s just too unsettling.
The box office backs me up on this. Every five years or so there’s a massive supernatural horror film that captures the zeitgeist, and it happens with a wider audience than with other subgenres. Look at The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Shining, Poltergeist, The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Insidious and The Conjuring. There’s a cultural penetration going on with these movies that you don’t really get from other subgenres. You could even take the upcoming Annabelle as an example. Audiences are primed to see it not only because they recognize the Annabelle doll, which has quickly become as iconic as some of the classic slashers without ever saying a word, but because they trust that the film will do what others can’t … unsettle them.
I don’t believe we’ll see supernatural horror dying out anytime soon. When Annabelle opens on October 3rd you’re likely to see people flocking to it in droves, counting on a sleepless night afterwards.
Black Sabbath has announced that the band will be recording one more album and embarking on a final world tour.
The news comes from vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, who explains to Classic Rock Magazine that this new album doesn’t have a defined release date but that things will need to happen “…sooner rather than later.”
“The whole Sabbath experience this time around was great. We all made friends, we didn’t [fuck] around, we all knew that we had a job to do, and we did it. It was a lot of fun. So we’re going to do one more album, and a final tour.
Once the dust settled after the last tour, we started discussing the idea, because we were getting asked about it all the time. I said to Sharon, ‘What’s going on? Because if there’s no more Sabbath I want to get on with my own thing again,’ and she came back and said ‘Let me look into it.’ Three weeks later I asked her about it again, and she said, ‘Oh, I still have to talk to so and so … ‘ and I said, ‘Sharon, I ain’t [fucking] 21 anymore; if we’re going to do it, I want to do it before I’m 70! Time isn’t on our side!’ So she made the call and came back and said, ‘Yeah, the record company wants another album.’ I believe [producer] Rick Rubin is going to do it with us again.
Sabbath’s last release was 2013′s 13, which was pretty damn fantastic. If you haven’t checked it out, I really encourage you to do so!
Seth Grossman will take an intervention to another level.
Starring Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, and Colleen McGrann, IFC Midnight sneaks us some new footage from Inner Demons, out in theaters and VOD October 3.
“When the teenage daughter of a religious family transforms from A-student into heroin addict, her parents agree to allow a reality TV crew to stage an intervention and tape her recovery. What they don’t know is that she has been taking drugs to deal with the unnatural, evil feelings growing inside her. When she agrees to rehab, with no drugs to suppress what’s inside, the demon emerges.
A suspenseful and clever reinvention of both the found-footage and possession genres, Inner Demons expertly plays on our culture’s love of reality television. Director Seth Grossman, who worked as a producer on “Intervention,” deftly guides the audience down a path where addiction is just a temporary cure for something much more evil.”