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Learn About Production Design Through David Cronenberg’s ‘eXistenZ’

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 14:00

Something that I learned while doing set visits for BD is just how much I need to recognize and honor whomever is in the Production Designer role. The amount of work they put into ensuring we, the viewer, get a hopefully wonderful and immersive experience is unreal. From location scouting to ensuring the material used in building a set works with planned FX, their role is vital, no way around it.

When it comes to horror, one of the top names in the genre is David Cronenberg, whose films Scanners, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Crash, and more have filled us with fear, revulsion, arousal, and morbid fascination. He assaults the senses with each release, his ability to mix beauty with the gruesome an absolute marvel. But it couldn’t be done without the assistance of his long-time production designer Carol Spier.

Spier has worked on some of the best horror titles in recent memory, as well some that we simply adore, such as Silent Hill, Mimic, Blade II, Carrie, Pacific Rim, and more. Her work with Cronenberg reaches as far back as 1979’s sport drama Fast Company, for which she was the art director. Her work with Cronenberg has continued for over four decades, including the above mentioned films as well as Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, and, most relevant to this piece, 1999’s eXistenZ.

I bring this movie up because a fascinating documentary is available to watch below that goes into the making of the sci-fi/horror mindtrip that also focuses on the impact of Spier. For those who love the film, it’s a magnificent look into what it took to piece everything together. For those interested in how movies are made, this delves into the specific roles and functions that various people have and how they all interact with one another. Basically, this is something any aspiring filmmaker should watch.

eXistenZ follows marketing trainee Ted Pikul (Jude Law), who becomes an unintentional bodyguard for game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) after an attempted assassination. Fearing that her gamepod, which works by being plugged into a port in the user’s spine, may have been damaged, she needs Pikul to join her in playing her game to ensure everything is working fine. So begins the mind-bending journey into a film that distorts reality and never makes it clear whether the characters are in the game or in real life.

I love this movie. From Howard Shore’s grandiose score to the disgusting yet hypnotizing visuals, the story and characters are wonderfully realized and this film deserves every bit of love that comes its way. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Categories: Horror News

‘The Devil Outside’ Battles Religion in a Dead Mining Town

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 13:37

UK sales outfit Protagonist, riding high off the success of Toronto hit Lady Macbeth, has boarded world sales on Andrew Hulme’s recently wrapped crime-horror The Devil Outside, which ScreenDaily shares the first ever image from.

Writer-director Hulme’s BFI-backed follow up to his 2014 Cannes Official Selection debut Snow In Paradise charts the story of a young boy (Robert) brought up in a world of evangelical Christianity that has taught him to look for signs and to believe that evil is waiting just outside the front door.

Caught between his mother, who’s determined to bring Jesus’s love to a dead mining town, and his best friend who has introduced him to teenage rebellion, Robert becomes embroiled in a spiritual tug of war as he tries to escape his religious beliefs. It’s then that he discovers a dead body in the woods and realises that God has sent him a sign.

The film was shot over five weeks in rural Nottinghamshire, UK.

The role of Robert is played by 14 year old newcomer Noah Carson who was cast via Nottingham’s Television Workshop.

The film features new and unknown actors from the local area including Daniel Frogson and Lauren Stanley. Robert’s parents are played by Keeley Forsyth (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Alex Lowe (The Brothers Grimsby), and the film also features Mark Stobbart (Skins).

The Devil Outside is produced by Christine Alderson of Ipso Facto, whose recent projects include Snow In Paradise and The Banksy Job, which premiered at Tribeca 2016.

Categories: Horror News

‘Sandman Slim’ Escapes From Hell, Captured by Studio 8

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 13:30

Studio 8 has picked up the rights to New York Times bestseller Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim”, the eight book urban fantasy series, with a ninth on the way in 2017, Deadline reports.

Kel Symons is attached to adapt the novels, which are being eyed as a potential franchise.

The series revolves around James “Sandman Slim” Stark, a fast talking, hard-boiled, supernatural vigilante who escapes from Hell to avenge his girlfriend’s murder and hunt down the magicians responsible for getting him sent “downtown.”

Symons recently adapted Money Shot for Lost City and wrote a live action Aladdin for Disney.

Patrick Walmsley at LBI Entertainment brought the series to Studio 8. Chris Goldberg is overseeing the project for the studio, along with Rishi Rajan.

Categories: Horror News

They’ll Get You In The End: Ranking the ‘Ghoulies’ Films

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 13:01

Much like its diminutive titular characters, the Ghoulies franchise is a short.  Its legacy spans a single decade (1984-1994) and runs a mere four films long. That’s more than some series ever manage, but also less than the big guns of horror. A premiere horror franchise Ghoulies is not, so we should probably be happy that we received as many of them as we did.

As for the films themselves? I suspect most have a decent idea of what they might be getting themselves into when they first sit down to experience this series. It’s kind of hard not to have a certain impression in mind when the poster of the original has a little, bald, green goblin-thing sitting in a commode and a tagline stating “They’ll Get You In The End!”

Still, just because a series isn’t aiming for “high art”, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun to explore. I love my horror to come in all shapes, sizes, and tones. As a result, I rather like the Ghoulies films as a whole, so don’t expect this to be a multi-page tirade of negativity. Let’s have some fun!

Categories: Horror News

NSFW: Death Valley High Are All About Sexy Zombies in “Warm Bodies” (Exclusive)

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 12:00

We’ve covered dark alt-rockers Death Valley High several times in the past and each time I’m reconnected with them, I feel the urge to get up and break shit. There’s this infectious energy that permeates their music that I have absolutely no shame in getting hyped for. It’s brash, it’s extravagant, and it’s fucking fun!

Today, we’ve got two treats from the band: The first is a music video premiere for their track “Warm Bodies”, which appears on their upcoming album CVLT [AS FVK]. Directed by Brian Cox of Flarelight Films, the NSFW clip (nudity, violence, and gore) shows a woman running from a group of zombies only to arrive at the home of an elderly couple. It is there that things descend into chaotic yet “romantic” (?) madness.

Additionally, the band has put together a list of their top five favorite horror films and, barring The Babadook, I can kinda see influences of each of their choices in “Warm Bodies”. From the zombies of Return of the Living Dead to the constant impending danger and the chase of It Follows, Cox must’ve taken a little bit of influence from each of these films to create this clip.

Vocalist/guitarist Reyka Osburn comments:

We wanted the video for “WARM BODIES” to have some unexpected turns so that the viewer would have their expectations abruptly altered while watching. We sought to make sure some of the video was filmed in black and white so that the mind-altering state of our lead characters would translate to the viewer once it changed to color – like watching a campy old horror film that turns into an 80’s action film. We intentionally chose to not include band performance footage or images so we could really get the story concept across, although, if you keep a keen eye during the mini movie, you might catch a glimpse of our scary faces.

CVLT [AS FVK] comes out November 4th via Minus Head Records and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.

Neon Demon (2016)
A slow grinding glittery gore. Shot by shot, this movie is a prime example of a motion *picture*. What sets this grim fable apart from any other is that it is at least twice the glamour of any other horror movie before it. Definitely twice the glitter and then some.

It Follows (2015)
An undeniably new and original addition to grim urban legends. Starts off at a pace that won’t let you blink, let alone look behind you.

The Babadook (2014)
A mother and son in monochrome. A disturbingly sinister, yet overwhelmingly innocent story with a vague nod to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. One of the creepiest cinematic offerings in recent years.

Battle Royale (2000)
A satire of violent survivalism, this initially banned J-Horror movie was a groundswell of inspiration for DVH. All of the pre-adulthood moral conflict, mixed in with stylistic but relevant gore, was on level with the DVH theme and concept.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Beating out Shaun of the Dead for the “Horror Comedy” spot, this film is tantamount for a DVH summation. Part party, part horror, and a whole lot of sarcasm.

Death Valley High online:
Official Website
Label Site

Categories: Horror News

‘Shortwave’ Clip Transmits Horrorific Sounds

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:54

This clip from Ryan Gregory Phillips’ Shortwave utilizes extreme sound design to deliver scares in the dark.

The film will be continuing its festival run this weekend with its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London, as well as the NOLA Horror Film Fest in New Orleans.  It has already screened as an official selection at over a dozen festivals with more coming up, including next month where it is an official selection at the Sitges Film Festival.

Luiz reviewed the film and stated that Shortwave shines with more emotion than horror.”

In the film, “Josh and Isabel Harris, after suffering the loss of their only child, relocate to a secluded hillside research facility with the hopes of repairing their broken family. After years of trying, Josh and his research partner, Thomas, have a breakthrough involving a cryptic shortwave radio signal and its universal origins. Something within the signal resonates with Isabel and she begins experiencing seeming hallucinations and visions of distant memories. Upon further investigation into the phenomenon, the scientists fear for Isabel’s health while Isabel fears the signal has attracted something sinister to their new home.

Juanita Ringeling, Cristobal Tapia Montt, Kyle Davis, featuring Jay Ellis, Nina Senicar, and Sara Malakul Lane star.

Categories: Horror News

Exorcism Doc ‘Belief: The Possession Of Janet Moses’ Acquired By Vertical

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:20

Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films have acquired David Stubbs’ documentary “Belief: The Possession Of Janet Moses”, just ahead of its premiere at the 2016 Fantastic Fest, Deadline reports.

Based on the true story of the Wainuiomata exorcism, the pic will be released in theaters early next year.

The film combines interviews and dramatic narrative to depict the reality of the last few days of Janet Moses’ life. Believing that 22-year-old Janet had fallen under the spell of a Mãkutu, or Mãori curse, her whanau (family) both surround her in a circle of love, and subject the young mother to four days and four nights of water cleansing in an effort to rid her of evil. So great was their belief in Mãkutu, that it became their truth.

Stubbs produced the doc with Thomas Robins while Paul Davis and Richard Fletcher exec produced.

Categories: Horror News

‘Shin Godzilla’ is Surprisingly Grounded and Compelling

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:07

It’s no secret that I don’t like the 2014 U.S. remake of Godzilla. In fact, I think it’s one of the most gorgeous heaps of trash I’ve ever seen. Because of this, it was cause for celebration when Toho announced a new Godzilla film of their own. Only, it turned out it was being co-directed by Shinji Higuchi, the man behind the incoherent, disastrous and unwatchable live-action adaptation of “Attack on Titan”. My stomach churned. While we’ve been reporting on the upcoming film, which is stomping its way into U.S. theaters for a limited engagement on October 11–18, I’ve ignored it under the assumption that I was surely going to disappointed. I was sent a screening link yesterday morning, and with expectations at the lowest point possible, I figured “what the hell?”

Having already shared one the first online reviews of Shin Godzilla, I don’t think it’s necessary to pen a proper one of my own. But, having absolutely obliterated Higuchi’s work, and his piece of shit “Attack on Titan” adaptation, I felt the need to reassure everyone that Shin Godzilla is pretty fucking good.

Co-directed by Hideaki Anno (Evangelion), Shin Godzilla is far from perfect, but it’s also a perfectly good time. Spoiler warning. I have never been a huge Godzilla fan, so I can’t speak to the dozens of films in existence, but I really like the approach to Shin Godzilla. Yes, it’s a Japanese remake, and scraps all the previous films from existence. It begins when a giant sea creature (a baby Godzilla?) surfaces and begins swimming through channels around Japan. One of the biggest issues with this film is that it isn’t told through anyone’s eyes, and the characters are all pretty forgettable, but what I did like is the “House of Cards” style politics of the event. Shin Godzilla really hones in on the political and economic ramifications of Godzilla’s presence, while also taking the time to really understand what Godzilla is and how he exists as a biological entity.

It’s interesting that the movie presents itself as a political thriller (with a plethora of scenes featuring people just talking and talking) than an actual Godzilla movie, and surely that will turn a lot of people off, but when Godzilla in on screen it’s pretty great. The puppet/CGI mixture works quite well – in fact, Shin Godzilla carries a sort of 80’s creature feature vibe. From his first form to his fourth, there’s a wonderful realism to the character that we’ve never seen before. Godzilla is also frightening, mostly because he/she doesn’t appear to be a thinking entity, but one acting out of instinct. Godzilla blasts fire out of his mouth, nuclear energy out of his body, and ejects lasers across the sky (taking out space-bound military planes).

I just loved the bold attempt at a fresh perspective, even if it’s too long and has an astoundingly flaccid finale. If anything, it’s a welcome new beginning to the franchise that sets the stage for multiple sequels and has set the stakes enormously high. I think the coolest implication is that, shit, maybe they can crossbreed a sequel with the U.S. producers?

Shin Godzilla is basically Godzilla meets “House of Cards”, and has enough action to appease those who don’t care about a story. In the first of a new series, I think the stage has been set for something enormous to happen next…

Categories: Horror News

[Review] ‘Hidden in the Woods’ is Brutal and Unpleasant

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:01

Quite a few critics have been known to use the term “exploitation film” as an insult, despite the fact that some of the greatest horror movies of all time can be considered part of this brutal yet captivating corner of filmmaking history. While I personally have a hard time enjoying rape-revenge and so-called “torture porn” movies, these films have a right to exist. This is why I approached Patricio Valladares’ thriller, Hidden in the Woods, with an open mind.

An English-language remake of Valladares’ 2012 Chilean film of the same name, Hidden in the Woods stars Jeannine Kaspar and Electra Avellan as Anna and Anny, two young sisters that have been raised in isolation by their abusive and drug-dealing father, Oscar, played by Michael Biehn. When Oscar sets out on a killing spree, the sisters manage to escape with their younger sibling/child, only to find themselves confronted with a world of sex, violence and vengeful drug cartels.

As if the plot didn’t sound cheerful enough, it’s actually based on an allegedly true story from Chile. This brings up some issues of whether or not it’s in good taste for the film to feature so many graphic depictions of sexual assault and murder, though in some ways it can be argued that the movie is promoting the positive discussion of these sensitive issues by not shying away from them. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch, however.

There may be some merit to the way that Hidden in the Woods tackles its subject matter, but it’s certainly not an enjoyable experience. The aggressive and mostly realistic nature of the film ultimately make things feel too depressing, with Anna and Anny being reduced to extremely unfortunate punching bags instead of fully fleshed-out characters. When the dust finally clears, the viewer is left only with a feeling of relief, not necessarily triumph or satisfaction.

In any case, the cast certainly does their job well (especially an unexpected William Forsyth as Uncle Costello), and even bring some much needed moments of tenderness to the table. Sadly, the script doesn’t give Kaspar or Avellan enough to work with, as they’re soon thrown back into the fray. Another strange note is that, even with all these talented actors, the movie sometimes looks cheap, especially when compared to the original. It may be because of the use of natural lighting, or the logistics behind relocating to the United States, but it’s certainly odd that an American remake feels like a downgrade.

In the end, Hidden in the Woods isn’t entirely devoid of redeeming value, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good film, nor an entertaining one. While many similar exploitive films use exaggerated violence and characterizations to make the viewing experience feel more fun than disgusting, only the most desensitized of horror-hounds will enjoy this peculiar remake.

Hidden in the Woods will be released on VOD on December 2nd!

Categories: Horror News

Enter ‘The Black Room’ Trailer if You Dare

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:30

Cleopatra Films has released a trailer for The Black Room, the latest genre film from Rolfe Kanefsky (Dead Scared, Nightmare Man ).

In the film, “A supernatural tale where evil takes on a sexy side. A married couple moving into their new home is faced with an entity that feeds off lust and desire, corrupting and/or killing everyone in its path as it plots a horrifying plan to destroy the world.

Natasha Henstridge (Species), Lin Shaye (Insidious), Lukas Hassel and Augie Duke star with Donnie Darko‘s James Duval, Dominique Swain and Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis.

Categories: Horror News