Sometimes, a film is clearly derivative of the work of others. You watch it and you just think to yourself, “God, didn’t you have any original ideas?” But this is definitely not the case with Donal O’Keefe’s new short Dead Ahead, which chooses not to try and emulate certain horror titles but instead fully embrace them and make their influence 100% clear and apparent!
The 1.5 minute short is absolutely delightful and constructed in such a way so as to make spotting references theoretically very easy. What happens is a car is traveling down a country highway but the world they are driving on expands one tile at a time. It’s almost like those boardgames where you have to lay down extra tiles in order to proceed, only here each new tile may offer a horror homage, so keeping your eyes open and focused is a must!
‘Dead Ahead’ is a postcard animation to the world of the horror movie genre. Our intrepid travelers head out into the wilderness on their road trip only to find one nightmare scenario after the other. With each step forward a new monster emerges paying homage to such classics as Friday the 13th, Jaws and Pet Sematary.
Give it a watch below and let us know all the references you spotted!
Sick of The Walking Dead “who died” theories yet? Of course you’re not. This latest one comes from the wife of Treehouse director Michael G. Bartlett (read our Treehouse review). Mr. Bartlett reached out to us with this short video he made demonstrating his wife’s theory. As someone who only just recently caught up with the entire series, it makes a hell of an argument.
* Major Spoilers for The Walking Dead show and comic series ahead *
The theory hinges on the series 6 episode “The Same Boat,” in which Maggie and Carol are taken captive by female Saviors. While Paula (Alicia Witt) reflects the callous killing machine Carol is set to become, Michelle (Jeananne Goosen) reveals to Maggie that she has lost her father, her baby, and her boyfriend. Up to this point, Maggie has lost one of those – her old man Hershel. Following this episode, she has what seems to be a miscarriage and then Negan kills, well…watch the video below and let us know what you think. It’s convincing as hell in my book.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the May 31st Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray/Digital HD), 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (4K/BD/Digital HD), and DVD releases of Burr Steers’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (read our review).
In the film, “A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.”
Below is one of the deleted scenes in which Liz (Lily James) and Darcy (Sam Riley) meet for the first time.
The Blu-ray and the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack extras will include:
- Deleted Scenes
- Mr. Collins Line-o-rama
- Gag Reel
- Four Featurettes:
- The Badass Bennet Sisters
- Creating the Unmentionables
- Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet The Cast
- From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic
The DVD will include:
- Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet The Cast
- From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic
We have Umbrella Corps coming in June, followed by PS4/XBO port of Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 4 in the summer and fall, respectively. Pair that with the Resident Evil 6 port we got in March, and the Resident Evil 0 remaster in January — as well as the Origins Collection that bundled it with last year’s remaster of the GameCube remake — and I’d say this has been a damn busy year for the franchise.
And that’s just the video games.
The point is, there’s always room for more and Capcom’s intent on filling it with another Resident Evil game that’ll arrive by the end of this fiscal year (March 31, 2017). The game was teased in the company’s financial report, spotted by NeoGAF user Chobel, which referred to a “full-scale offensive” they’re planning for the second half of the year.
“In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, the Company is scheduled to release… Resident Evil Umbrella Corps (for PlayStation 4 and PC) of the Resident Evil series, which marked its 20th anniversary in March 2016, as warm up to the full-scale offensive planned between March 31 2017.”
Capcom’s stocked 2016 with more than enough ports and remasters, and it’s definitely not the Resident Evil 2 remake, which won’t release until next year, at the earliest. Could the mystery game be a follow-up to Revelations 2, or Resident Evil 7? Personally, I’d like a spin-off that stars the Merchant from Resident Evil 4. How about you?
The 1990 Tom Savini-directed remake of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is long considered to be one of the few good remakes that the horror world has to offer. The original is an absolute classic but the remake was made by people who are clearly horror fans, so there is a delightful atmosphere about the film that resonates with us viewers.
William Butler, who played “Tom” in the film, has decided to share several images from the set of the film, some of which show a great detail of the practical FX work done for the zombies while others are just set photos that capture the fun spirit clearly held by the cast and crew. No matter what, it’s wonderful to see these photos.
Butler shared this images via his Facebook page.
The upcoming Freeform slasher series “Dead of Summer” has received a trio of promo clips, each progressively longer and full of more plot and intrigue.
“Set in the late 1980s, school is out for the summer and a sun-drenched season of firsts beckons the counselors at Camp Clearwater, a seemingly idyllic Midwestern summer camp, including first loves, first kisses—and first kills. Clearwater’s dark, ancient mythology awakens, and what was supposed to be a summer of fun soon turns into one of unforgettable scares and evil at every turn.”
Zelda Williams (“Teen Wolf”), Alberto Frezza (“Charlie’s Angels”) and Eli Goree (“The 100”) star with Candyman‘s Tony Todd.
Williams will play a counselor at Camp Clearwater who is a mysterious loner with no interest in bonding with the rest of the group. Frezza is Deputy Garrett Sykes, a young deputy who has ties to Camp Clearwater and who grows immediately suspicious when events at the camp don’t add up. Goree will play Joel, an aspiring filmmaker who is returning to Camp Clearwater as a counselor and begins to buy into the idea that something weird is happening. (Deadline)
In addition, the network announced that series creators/executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (“Once Upon A Time”) will direct the first episode. Williams, Frezza and Goree join previously announced cast members Mark Indelicato (“Ugly Betty”), Ronen Rubinstein (“Orange Is The New Black”) and Paulina Singer (“Gotham”).
“Dead of Summer” will be premiering Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 9:00pm ET/PT.
In just over a week, we’ll be tearing through the legions of Hell in the new Doom. As much as I enjoy mowing down foul creatures with an arsenal of pants-shittingly awesome space marine weapons like the vengeful personification of death metal album cover art, this time around, I’m going to focus on the more intimate, up-close-and-personal approach to cleansing the bowels of Hell. It’s going to be a bloody exorcism, and I’m super pumped about it. How about you?
Doom releases May 13 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Music video/commercial director Saman Kesh is building a strong name for himself. On top of working with such artists as Calvin Harris and Placebo, not to mention companies like Taco Bell and Visa, his short film Controller was picked up by Fox for a feature length film. But today marks a new day and a new venture for Kesh as he premiered his newest project, a short film by the name of Hit TV.
A love letter to 80’s action thrillers, the short follows Hunter Thomas, a man who is searching for his wife after she’s been kidnapped by a mysterious organization only known as Hit TV. The organization highjacks broadcast channels to air a seedy and haunting call-to-action where people are identified for murder and priced accordingly.
There are some elements of They Live and The Running Man as well as a bit of The Purge, but it’s all brought together in a unique and exciting way that is beautifully constructed and gleefully violent. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m just going to say that I absolutely LOVED the “rasping breath” moment. When you watch the short below, you’ll see what I mean!
Now, here’s where it gets really cool when it comes to Hit TV. Talking with The Creators Project, Kesh outlines his vision for the short, saying, “The short is actually going to be a film at first to setup the universe. It will branch off into a tv show that focuses more on other characters instead of our hero.” A feature-length film is anticipated for 2017.
To get that raw 80’s quality, Kesh actually approached it like it would be viewed during that decade. “The show was rendered out and played back on set through a genuine 80s television set in order to capture that authentic quality,” he explains.
You can find more of Kesh’s work on his official website
A press release hypes The Mummy, the first (or second, if you include Dracula Untold) of the revived Universal Monsters universe that’s set for release on June 9, 2017
“Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.
Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”
Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis (Annabell, King Arthur, Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World) and Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson).
The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director/producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan, who have been instrumental in growing some of the most successful franchises of the past several years—with Kurtzman writing or producing entries in the Transformers, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible series, and Morgan being the narrative engineer of the Fast & Furious saga as it has experienced explosive growth from its third chapter on. Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, produces alongside Kurtzman and Morgan.
Remember when Warner Bros. announced that Jared Leto would be playing Joker in Suicide Squad? Yeah, people lost their shit. Then, when the first image was released, they lost their shit even more.
Look, I like Leto. He was awesome in Fincher’s Fight Club and Panic Room, not to mention Requiem for a Dream and American Psycho. I really don’t understand the hatred. But alas, people will hate.
With that said, is Leto going to be the new Lestat in the mixed adaptation of Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestate”, or are we being trolled by writer/director Josh Boone?
Just yesterday, Boone shared a completed screenplay for Interview With the Vampire that he’s co-written with Jill Killington. It confirmed that Universal Pictures is still developing the new universe, dubbed The Vampire Chronicles.
Then, Boone took to Twitter to drop the below bomb, which means one of three things: He’s fucking with fans, he’s personally campaigning for Leto, or Leto is the new Vampire Lestat.
— Josh Boone (@JoshBooneMovies) May 4, 2016
If Leto has been cast as Lestat, he would follow in the footsteps of Tom Cruise, who played the character in Neil Jordan’s 1994 Interview With the Vampire, and Stuart Townsend in the 2002 Queen of the Damned adaptation.
An interesting addition is that Chris Rice (writer and son of Anne Rice), tweeted this response:
— Christopher Rice (@chrisricewriter) May 4, 2016
Universal has already announced that they are bringing the The Mummy, which stars Tom Cruise, to us in June of 2017 and The Invisible Man, which stars Johnny Depp, in April 2018. But now they’re giving us yet another classic monster tale on February 15th, 2019, with plans for The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, and Dracula on the way, too.
Hopefully there will be some official news soon. Until then, what do you guys think of Leto as Lestat? His character in Fight Club was called “Angel Face”…
The season six finale of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has caused such anger and speculation, that it’s kind of incredible in its own right. Fans have been going crazy trying to figure out who Negan could’ve possibly killed. Was it Carl? Glenn? Abraham? Jesus? At this point, no one knows and those that have DO an inkling of where the story might be going, the writers/producers/etc…, certainly aren’t talking.
But for creator Robert Kirkman, the ending isn’t something people should get upset over. As he writes in issue #154 of the long-running comic, “…a character you love and are going to miss is DEAD, and we gave you a few extra months to hope, to no grieve. Is there uncertainty? Yes. But that was kind of the idea.”
Defending it further, Kirkman explains that the reason events unfolded as they did was to give viewers, “…something to talk about.”
You can read the full statement below, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.
Next Friday Greg McLean will not only see his “Wolf Creek” series hit Stan, but also have his supernatural horror The Darkness open in theaters across the country.
The Darkness, which stars Silent Hill and Rogue‘s Radha Mitchell, as well as Kevin Bacon (“The Following,” Stir of Echoes), follows a family that, after a vacation at the Grand Canyon, brings home a supernatural force that preys off their own fears and vulnerabilities, threatens to destroy them from within, while also consuming their lives with terrifying consequences.
Every good horror movie has a visual cue that the audience can recognize. The Darkness is shrouded in black handprints, which canvas the posters, trailers and TV spots.
We caught up with McLean, who explained to us the original of the black handprints, which are uniquely inspired by ancient Native American art.
“I drew a lot from Native American Mythologies and rituals in my research,” McLean explains to us in an exclusive interview. “During the research I kept on seeing these hand prints in ancient cave paintings – which were symbols of death and they evolved from the idea that these demonic forces appeared via a ritual fire and left hand prints in ash. Ash also being a symbol of death and rebirth.
“There’s such incredible depth and richness to Native American culture, legends and religion one could spend a lifetime reading and studying and constantly be amazed. As someone not from the states the Native American history of the USA has always fascinated me and much of that found it’s way into the movie.”
Speaking of inspirations, McLean talks a bit about a haunting that ignited the idea behind The Darkness.
“The script idea began years ago when a friend told me a story of a real haunting that happened near where they lived,” McLean revealed. “The way it was related to me was so mundane, and the family so normal and what went down was so extreme, the concept of how the supernatural can explode into incredibly relatable circumstances stuck with me. It was a powerful moment and I thought about that for years until I came across the true stories of objects being taken from sacred sites bringing bad luck and disaster to individuals and homes. Those two thoughts were really the genesis of the movie.”
The Darkness (watch the trailer) will be opening in theaters everywhere next Friday, the 13th.
Drag Me to Hell is a masterpiece. That is not a popular opinion among some of you, but the fact is that it’s a brilliant horror comedy that culminates in one of the most brutal endings in horror movie history.***SPOILERS FOR A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD FILM BELOW***
As many of you already know, poor Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) does get dragged to Hell in the final scene of Drag Me to Hell. There are quite a few people who, shockingly, are alright with this and feel that Ms. Brown deserved her fate to burn in Hell for all eternity.
How could anyone think that poor, poor Christine Brown deserved to get dragged to Hell only to be tortured by the Lamia? The goat demon gives you a pretty clear idea of what would happen to her: it would feast upon her soul while she festered in the grave. Does anyone deserve that treatment?
Without calling any of you out, here is a small sampling of reader comments from posts I have made on this site about Drag Me to Hell:
- “I couldn’t even root for the lead girl. She was so unlikable and then when she killed the kitten it just sealed my disdain for her.”
- “It’s really the old woman that’s the victim in this story and Alison Lohman, I think her character Christine deserved probably what she got.”
- “The audience kind of overlooks and makes excuses for the selfish choices her character makes throughout the film and therefore ends up shocked and surprised by what happens to her in the end.”
- “She was a self-centered person who gave the appearance that she was a nice innocent lady who was willing to make Ganush suffer in Hell after all that she did to the old lady while she was alive. The bank teller dug her own Hell.”
- “Drag Me to Hell had a happy ending. That Alison’s character was such a douchebag that I was happy she was pulled down to Hell. I hope she was suffering every day down there. So yes, happy ending indeed!”
- “She basically tried to blame her boss every time the demon encountered her and it was so annoying. She just wasn’t as good a person as she thought she was.”
Look, we all have our own opinions and we are certainly entitled to them, but how could anyone think that Christine deserved to spend her afterlife being tortured in Hell? You may need to watch that final scene again to refresh your memory:
To be clear: no one (save for Hitler and maybe a couple of other historical figures on that level of evil) deserves this fate. Let’s assume for a moment that Christine was a Grade-A megabitch. Even then, she wouldn’t really deserve a fate like this. It would be easier to accept and laugh at, but even Heather Chandler herself didn’t deserve to down a mug full of drain cleaner. And she was the worst.
If one were to (literally) play Devil’s advocate, then one would need to look at the aforementioned charges brought up against Ms. Brown:
- She shouldn’t have rejected Mrs. Ganush’s request for a third extension on her mortgage.
- She was selfish for wanting to live and she was self-centered in that she only cared about her own survival.
- She killed her kitten.
It’s that last one that really gets many of you going, so I’ll save it for last. First: was it wrong of Christine to deny Mrs. Ganush her request for a third extension on her mortgage? Sure. It was morally wrong and a bit mean-spirited. Mrs. Ganush had exhausted her income when “the sickness took [her] eye.” That being said, have none of you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place in order to advance in work? If you’ve been in the same position for a significant period of time with no advancement in your place of employment, it can be a bit frustrating. Christine was even cornered into this decision by her boss (the always great David Paymer), who basically told her she wouldn’t get the promotion if she didn’t shut Ganush down. It’s a shitty thing to do, but does she deserve to burn in Hell for this decision? Not at all. It’s not like she slapped the hag and kicked her out the door for everyone to laugh at her. She made a bold career move and that’s it.
Second: is Christine selfish for wanting to live and for caring solely about her own survival? Many times in Drag Me to Hell, Christine tries to throw other people to the Lamia. From her insistence at the séance that her boss put her in this position to her legitimately trying to send Mrs. Ganush to Hell (after failing to do the same to her obnoxious co-worker Stu), Christine certainly makes a case against herself. Still, would none of you do the same thing? If it were coming down to the wire and you were faced with being dragged to Hell or sending anyone else there in your place, wouldn’t you pick anyone else? Maybe you are more selfless than I am, but in the heat of the moment you are capable of making any kind of decision. As mentioned before, no one deserves this fate, but Christine (again) is being forced into a decision. Mrs. Ganush didn’t have to curse Christine. She made the choice out of spite, and if anything that makes her worse (and arguably more deserving of this fate) than Christine.
Lastly, does Christine deserve to burn in Hell for all eternity for killing her cat? Look, I get it! Killing a pet is basically the worst thing you could ever do in a movie (or real life). I’ve got a 2-year-old dog that, I kid you not, I would take a bullet for, but are you really telling me that you wouldn’t sacrifice any animal in order to save yourself from eternal damnation? Christine may have acted a little too quickly (she could have gone to her family farm and slaughtered a pig, for instance), but she wasn’t thinking clearly. After all, at this point in the film she had just been air-molested by the Lamia and was feeling pretty desperate. I’m not excusing the cat-killing, I’m just saying that it doesn’t condemn her to Hell.
This may be a controversial statement, but those who believe that Christine deserves her fate only think that they feel that way. Those select few are rationalizing their feelings over losing a character who had not committed any sort of grave sin. What do you do when an innocent character is dealt the cruelest punishment in cinema history? You convince yourself that she somehow deserved it. “She killed a helpless kitten!,” you cry. “She was being mean to that vindictive gypsy who was granted two extensions on her mortgage and probably deserved to be thrown out of her house!,” you say. I call shenanigans! There is no way any of you really, truly believe that Christine had this coming to her.
Let’s open the floor for discussion. Are you one of the select view that thinks Christine Brown was a selfish, horrible character who had it coming? Or are you on the opposing side of the argument and actually empathize with Ms. Brown? Let me know in the comments below or Tweet me if you really want to get into it!
Spike is ramping up production for a TV series based on Stephen King’s “The Mist” and now news has broken that Emmy-award winning director Adam Bernstein will be helming the premiere episode, according to Deadline.
“The Mist” tells a harrowing story about a seemingly innocuous mist that seeps into a small town and creates immense havoc.
The series will receive 10 one-hour episodes. Production kicks off this summer and a 2017 premiere date is anticpated.
If you’re the kind of person who celebrates Halloween throughout the month of October and you just so happen to live in the Los Angeles area, here’s an event that will be right up your alley!
On October 25th at the Ace Theater in LA, the horror world’s most charming chin-with-a-man-attached Bruce Campbell will be hosting a screening of Evil Dead, Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic horror film that introduced the world to Ash Williams. However, this isn’t just your normal everyday screening. Oh no, my lovely readers! What sets this one apart is that composer Joseph LoDuca will also be in attendance to introduce the Up chamber orchestra, who will be performing the score to the film live!
Tickets are on sale tomorrow but you can snag them today with the password “ASH”. Just head on over here to grab yours.
Scream Factory has announced that they will be releasing the Gus Krieger-directed psychological thriller The Binding, which stars Amy Gumenick, Josh Heisler, and Leon Russom. The DVD/blu-ray will be coming out August 2nd.
Once upon a time, God Almighty appeared before one of the chosen, and commanded that he slay his own flesh and blood. Perhaps that time has come again…
Sarah Iman (Amy Gumenick) is a young mother and faithful minister’s wife. Her religious devotion and idyllic home life, however, are put to the ultimate test when she is forced to uncover the truth behind her husband’s horrific visions. As tensions rise and secrets come to light, Sarah soon finds herself spiraling toward a terrifying choice between faith and blood.
The trailer can be seen below. When you’re watching it, do me a favor and write in the comments if the husband looks exactly like Sean Astin. Like, I could’ve swore that was him.
The Binding bonus features:
· Over 20 mins of deleted scenes
· Cast interviews with Amy Gumenick (Sarah Iman), Josh Heisler (Bram Iman) and Leon Russom (Minister Uriel)
· Commentary track with writer and director Gus Krieger
· Teaser Trailer
I’ve been dying for Hollywood to finally get USS Indianapolis into production. It’s been in development hell for years, and even had some really hot directors attached.
It’s more of a thriller, but it involves sharks eating people, and is based on an honest-to-God true story.
Somehow, completely off my radar, this movie got made – and it stars mother fuckin’ Nicolas Cage.
Hannibal Classics and Patriot Pictures are behind the World War II disaster movie that’s full title is USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage.
Cage stars as Capt. Charles Butler McVay, whose ship was torpedoed in the South Pacific in July of 1945, after delivering parts for the first atomic bombs. “President Truman has selected you to lead a highly classified mission,” Cage is told.
Because the ship was without an escort, the Indianapolis was not reported missing until four days later. Of 1,197 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship, while the rest faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning and shark attacks as they waited for assistance. Only 317 sailors survived, and McVay was court-martialed, then exonerated more than half a century later.
The trailer, via Variety, shows several shark attacks during those five days and the subsequent court martial.
Mario Van Peebles directed from a script by Cam Cannon and Hannibal Classics principal Richard Rionda Del Castro.
Earlier this month Scream Factory acquired all U.S. distribution rights to the visceral body-horror film Bite (review) from director Chad Archibald. That release date has now been tagged as May 6th when the film will be available via VOD, On Demand and in select theaters.
Check out this exclusive clip that starts off steamy and ends all sticky…
When she returns from her tropical bachelorette party getaway, a young woman begins to succumb to an insect bite in the palpably disturbing film Bite. Witness the skin-crawling chronicle of one woman’s truly terrifying descent into madness when the visceral body-horror feature Bite debuts in select U.S. theaters May 6th, 2016. Directed by Chad Archibald (The Drownsman), Bite had a sensational premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, where it won an Audience Award, and has recently played at numerous top international genre film festivals.
While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her wedding but before she’s able to, she starts exhibiting insect like traits. Between her physical transformation and her wedding anxiety, Casey succumbs to her new instincts and begins creating a hive that not only houses her translucent eggs, but feeds on the flesh of others. As her transformation becomes complete, Casey discovers that everything can change with a single bite.
Starring Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Denise Yuen, Jordan Gray, Lawrene Denkers, Barry Birnberg, Daniel Klimitz, Tianna Nori, and Caroline Palmer. Bite is directed by Chad Archibald and produced by Black Fawn Films.
Ever since the invention of motion-picture cameras, filmmakers have been searching the darkest recesses of their brains in an effort to come up with the next great movie monster. From George Romero’s zombies to Wes Craven’s Freddy Krueger, the villains that have most iconically terrorized the silver screen have mostly been creatures quite unlike those found within our physical realities, providing a safe distance from the fear we feel while watching them stalk and slash. When we go to bed, we can pretty sure that we won’t be torn apart in our sleep by a werewolf or feasted on by a hungry vampire, but one thing we cannot promise ourselves is that we’ll be safe from the scariest monsters of them all: the human beings we’re forced to share this planet with.
It is for this reason that no sub-genre of horror is more genuinely terrifying than the home invasion film, which preys upon the very real fear of the safest place in your world being flip-turned into a living nightmare. Countless films released in the last several decades fall under the home invasion umbrella, from 1967’s Wait Until Dark to 2011’s You’re Next, but it wasn’t until Bryan Bertino made his own contribution to the sub-genre that the home invasion film truly reached its pinnacle of terror. Released in 2008, The Strangers upped the fear factor by throwing motive completely out the window.
There’s absolutely nothing deceptive about the simplicity of Bertino’s premise. In The Strangers, James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler), whose troubled relationship is given a wonderfully nuanced introduction within the first 15-minutes, are spending the night in a remote vacation home. Around four in the morning, they receive a knock on the front door from a young woman who claims to be looking for a friend of hers, and soon thereafter, a trio of masked maniacs break into the home and terrorize the couple. Why, you ask? That’s a question directly addressed in Bertino’s script, and the answer sends chills up the spine just thinking about it.
“Because you were home,” answers one of the masked intruders.
More than merely a creepy tagline, that bone-chilling reveal hammers home the entire theme of The Strangers, which is that sadistic killers don’t need a reason to make you their next target. It’s comforting to believe that you need to wrong someone in order to become their enemy, but the reality, as is terrifyingly on display in The Strangers, is that your peaceful existence can be shattered simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And sometimes, as the world learned courtesy of the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969, which loosely inspired Bertino to pen this very film, that wrong place can be within the walls of your own home.
Like the real-life murders of Sharon Tate and friends, there’s really no point to the brutality on display in The Strangers, and though many over the years have criticized the film for that, it is my belief that it’s actually the single most chilling aspect of it. Right out of the gate, a narrated sequence (a nod to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) more or less lays out everything we’re about to see, letting us know that the two characters we’re about to meet will not survive the night. Less than 80-minutes later, as promised, James and Kristen are uneventfully stabbed to death, and just like that, the film ends. No twist. No surprises. When it’s over, we realize there was no point to what we just witnessed, and if the palpable terror of that pointlessness doesn’t linger with you long afterwards, well, it sure does for me.
Everything about The Strangers, very much unlike the majority of modern horror films, is quiet and understated, which is a huge reason why it’s so effective at imparting the fear that it does. In the most chilling moment, Kristen is pouring herself a glass of water in the kitchen while the so-called “Man in the Mask” watches from afar, something we see but Kristen does not. The brief glimpse of the masked madman in the background, which is purposely out of focus, is the visual equivalent of the iconic reveal from When a Stranger Calls that the killer is calling from inside the house, and it’s the complete antithesis of the jump scare that plagues so many horror movies today. By showing us that the killer is inside the house, and then making us wait for him to strike, Bertino imbues the bulk of the film with a tension so thick you can cut it with a butcher’s knife, proving with only his first film that he understands precisely what makes a horror film scary – and it’s sure as hell not creepy images lunging towards the camera.
The Strangers doesn’t make you afraid to venture out into the woods with your friends, nor does it make you fear that your dead loved ones are going to come back from the grave and feast on your flesh. Rather, it makes you afraid of something you simply cannot escape doing each and every night: being in your own home when the sun goes down. Because you never know who might come knocking, and just being home might be enough to get you killed.
Can anything really be scarier than that?
We’re big fans of French retrosynth wizard Perturbator here on Bloody-Disgusting and I think it’s pretty obvious why. Inspired by the horror and sci-fi films of our youth, Perturbator’s music is a glorious explosion of synth goodness that is as exciting as it is innovative.
The 2014 album Dangerous Days was one of my favorite releases of that year and I’ve been eagerly awaiting a followup ever since. Today is that day. Today marks the release of The Uncanny Valley, and album that is sure to not only please fans of the genre but also win over newcomers.
Opening with “Neo-Tokyo”, we’re immediately thrust into aggressive percussion and beefy synth basslines with fluttering and sparkling pads. But what makes this track stand out is that it flows wonderfully, going from a hard-hitting attacks to an almost hypnotic cadence.
The album then transitions into “Weapons for Children”, which has this synthetic “whining” around the 3/4 mark that is just badass. There’s really no other way to put it. And the fact that the album then follows with “Death Squad”, which might as well make you feel like The Terminator, just puts the cherry on top of the icing. This opening trifecta already does an amazing job of hooking the listener in but then what follows are three wildly different sounding additions that prove that Perturbator is not only back with amazing music but that he’s matured and grown in his approach, bringing far more to the table than one would have imagined.
“Femme Fatale” feels like something that should appear in Blade Runner 2. A noir jazzy tune, it exudes the same sadness and that dreary yet beautiful feel from the original 1982 sci-fi film. To be fair, the opening sample of a rainstorm probably helped trigger my memory. “All these moments will be lost… Like tears… in rain…”
Then we’ve got “Venger”, which features the sublime vocals of Greta Link, whose voice adds a delightful dimension to the already stellar track. And “Disco Inferno” is groovy beyond belief, with funk wah guitars that add such a splash of color and fun.
I could go on and on about the strength of this album, with songs like “Diabolus Ex Machina” or “Souls at Zero”, which ends using a sample from Tod Browning’s Freaks, but I think you’re realizing by now that I am absolutely besotted with this release. As I stated above, Perturbator has shown enormous growth and maturity with The Uncanny Valley. There is clearly a mind-boggling amount of thought that has gone into each track, ensuring that each instrument, each tone, each pad, does something interesting. From syncopating the bass against the hi-hats to creating a call-and-response system between various tones, Perturbator skillfully weaves an album that is intricate and absolutely fascinating.
The Final Word: With The Uncanny Valley, Perturbator has released an album that will be heralded as one of the very best of its kind. This is one of those records that you return to over and over and find something new each time.