Last week New Line Cinema’s Gremlins ripoff Critters turned 30, and it got me reminiscing about the kooky franchise. After breaking into theaters in 1986, the film spawned one more theatrically released sequels and two direct-to-video sequels The last Critters film was released in 1992, and that’s a real shame, because the world could always use another Critters film. I thought we’d inform you about some facts you may not know about the film franchise (or maybe you do know them already, who knows?) to celebrate its 30th anniversary.*
*Don’t worry, “Leonardo Dicaprio’s film debut was in Critters 3” is not one of them. I assume you know that one already.1. Voice actor Corey Burton developed the language of the Krites by using a combination of French and Japanese.
Corey Burton has done a lot of voice work in his decades as a voice actor. Not only has he acted in Disney films like Aladdin and The Hunchback of Nortre Dame, but he also created the language and originated the vocals for the Krites in Critters and Critters 2: The Main Course! He combined elements of Japanese and French to get the little guys talking. You can hear what he has to say about coming up with the language right here (don’t worry, I cued up to the part where he talks about Critters). It’s actually quite fascinating!
2. The first film knew how similar it was to other films, and references several monster movies that were popular at the time, including Gremlins, Ghoulies and Ghostbusters.
Critters was fully aware that it had come after some pretty popular monster movies at the time, so rather than hide behind that fact, it embraced it! When the characters lift the lid of the toilet to see if a Krite is in there, that’s a nod to Ghoulies and the fact that they come out of toilets when summoned. Also, the logo on the back of the Grover’s Bend bowling shirts being a direct homage to Ghostbusters (you can catch a brief glimpse of the logo, which features a bowling pin behind the red sign right here). And of course, who could forget Critters’ not-so-subtle nod to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial?3. The script was actually written before Gremlins came out, and had to undergo extensive rewrites to reduce the similarities present between the films
You know how I called Critters a Gremlins ripoff? Turns out, it wasn’t! Stephen Herek, the director of the first film, maintains that co-screenwriter Domonic Muir wrote the script for Critters long before Gremlins went into production. It just took the success of Gremlins to get New Line Cinema to make the damn thing.4. Sugar apples were use to make the “Easter Eggs’ in Critters 2: The Main Course.
Did any of you know that this fruit existed? If you live outside of the States you probably did, but I’m quite curious to try it. It would be difficult not to think that you were about to bite into a Krite egg though!5. Critters 2 was the screenwriting debut of David Twohy.
Twohy, as you may know, would go on to direct films like Pitch Black and (the extremely underrated) 2009 thriller A Perfect Getaway. Before those films, he wrote the screenplays for Waterworld and G.I. Jane. And before those films, he got his start writing the screenplay for Critters 2: The Main Course (with Mick Garris, no less). We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?6. Lin Shaye makes a cameo appearance in the film.
As many of you may already know, Lin Shaye is the sister of executive producer Robert Shaye, the founder of New Line Cinema. Robert gave his sister many bit parts in movies (including A Nightmare on Elm Street), but one of the more cartoonish ones was Sal in Critters 2. She’s a hoot!7. Cary Elwes passed on the role of Josh, which eventually went to Leonardo Dicaprio.
This one is just plain weird, as Elwes would have been 28 when Critters 3 was filming (compared to the 17 that Dicaprio was). Still, Elwes admits to this on the DVD commentary for Saw. Maybe Josh was originally meant to be an older character, but it’s not surprising that Elwes, who was already famous from The Princess Bride and fresh off of higher profile films like Glory, passed on the part.
I mean, imagine this:
Instead of this:8. In Critters 4, the footage of the cargo retrieval ship, and docking with the spaceship are from Android(1982) but the footage of Ug’s ship at the end are taken from Critters 2 (1988).
You can’t blame the movie for using old footage, especially since it probably didn’t have enough money for decent looking space effects (it was DTV and filmed back-to-back with Critters 3). Still, it’s a fun little bit of trivia!9. Warner Bros. announced plans to produce a web series reboot of the franchise
Let me temper your excitement on this one for a second. This web series was announced back in October of 2014 (along with plans for a Static Shock web series which….alright). If plans for this were serious, it would have premiered by now (or at least had a release date), but no further news has been announced on the project.10. Jordan Downey wrote and directed a totally awesome 6-minute short film “audition” for said web series reboot.
If you’re a regular reader of Bloody Disgusting then you probably already know this, but if you missed it back in December of 2014 (just two months after the web series was announced) then give it a watch! Jordan Downey was so in love with the Critters franchise that he wrote and directed this short film hoping that Warner Bros. would let him direct the web series! I’m surprised there hasn’t been any momentum on that, because Downey’s short film is awesome.
Share your Critters stories in the comments below and help celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary!
Taste is a totally subjective thing. What one person likes, another person can easily hate. But I think we can all agree that there are classics that must be respected for what they brought to the horror genre, whether it be advancements in technology (King Kong), notoriety (Cannibal Holocaust), or even the occasional critical acclaim (The Silence of the Lambs).
Throughout the years, horror has come to us in many different forms. From monsters to demonic entities, mental illnesses to vicious psychopathic murderers. But one thing is certain: Since movies started, there’s always been a fascination with horror and the macabre.
Imgur user ScreamingVegetable has compiled a list of the “Best Horror Films by Year” since 1920. As I mentioned above, taste is a subjective thing and ScreamingVegetable’s list doesn’t seem to be based on anything specific but more so on personal taste. While I don’t agree with every year, I do love the effort and obvious passion put here.
Check out the full list below and let us know which years and movies you’d swap out!
There’s a new video making the rounds that poses the question, are horror movie trailers getting scarier?
Vocativ showed ten people two horror film trailers, one classic and one modern. Using data from heart rate tracing wrist bands and facial emotion detection software, they analyzed the viewers reaction to see if they could tell which were scarier.
At the end of the above video they share their results: “On average, our viewers heart rate was higher at the end of the modern trailer.”
I think this is a really fun experiment, although the science behind it is flawed, and I hate that people are immediately piggy-backing these results as if they proved something. They didn’t.
First of all, older horror films and their trailers can feel dated, especially to younger viewers. The easiest point I can make here is to point you to this old article in which I ask, is the Lumiere Brothers’ silent short film, “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat” (“The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station”), the scariest movie ever made?
The 1896 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière shows a train pulling into La Ciotat Station.
Over 100 years ago, this short film was so realistic that theatergoers would panic and run out of the theater because they legitimately thought the train was going to crash into them. To a modern audience, this looks like nothing more than stock footage. Does this mean that a shot of a train crashing in HD is scarier than this short?
The point is, this experiment is highly flawed, although it’s fun to see how trailers have changes over the years and how studios are forced to change how they sell a movie. Are modern trailers scarier than the ones we grew up on? You know, it’s quite possible. Back in the day, it was all about star power, while now you’ll see a lot more “jump scares” crammed into a 30-second spot.
What do you guys think? Are there any older horror trailers that you think are still terrifying? Remember the rarely seen trailer for The Exorcist that was once deemed too disturbing for audiences?
Here’s a surprising bit of news that comes courtesy of an interview with “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke, who was the latest to play Sarah Connor in Paramount Pictures’ Terminator: Genisys.
It’s common knowledge that when an actor or actress sign on for a huge franchise role, they’re locked in for at least two sequels.
While Genisys was a huge flop here in the States ($90 million), it performed huge overseas, especially in China (it has topped $350 million overseas).
And with the international explosion came news that the franchise would continue on.
Paramount quickly announced plans for a sixth film to be released on May 19, 2017. Things went quiet until reports started to surface that the sequels were put on hold.
Back in October Skydance Media Chief Creative Officer Dana Goldberg responded to those reports: “I wouldn’t say on hold, so much as re-adjusting,” she explained in regards to the company’s plans to pursue a big-screen trilogy as well as a new TV series announced in late 2013.
Nobody really knows what’s going on behind-the-scenes, but one thing just became clear, they aren’t continuing forth with the “new trilogy” as we knew it. Emilia Clarke is out.
When asked if we’ll see her playing Sarah Connor in the future, she told Comingsoon, “No,” while adding, “Can I say that? It’s okay. No. Uh-uh. But I have some very different roles coming up.”
This news is slightly shocking in the sense that they had planned a new trilogy around her character, and her exit means that they truly are “re-adjusting.” I think it’s time they stop trying to live in-canon and find a way to side-step the franchise and do something that really furthers the sci-fi genre. They’re going to need some supremely talented screenwriters to pull it off, but I have faith in you Hollywood (is that a mistake?).
Victor Matellano’s Vampyres, starring Marta Flich (Omnivores) and Almudena Leon (Wax), as well as Christian Stamm in the role of Ted, Veronica Bacorn as Harriett and Caroline Munro (Maniac, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), has been done for over two years – but it’s finally finding homes at the Cannes market.
According to ScreenDaily, the title has sold to Japan (New Select), the UK (Soda Pictures), South Korea (Alto Media), Taiwan (Moviecloud), Scandinavia (Njuta Films) and Munich-based Donau Films has acquired it for Germany and Austria.
The remake of Vampyres keeps its sensuality, its gruesomeness, its insolence and the twisted atmosphere, but includes more action, more horror and more gore, according to modern times. This is the story of two vamps that “live” in a dark manor where they bring men with the promise of sex orgies that finally become blood orgies.
The rest of the cast includes Anthony Rotsa, Victor Vidal, Luis Hacha, Alina Nastise and Remedios Darkin.
Matellano penned the film based on Joseph Larraz’s original 1974 movie.
Vampyres is being produced by Ángel Mora for Artistic Films.
Genre sales company Devilworks will introduce four titles to buyers at Cannes this year, one of which is visited by The Devil himself.
Sacred Heart, produced and directed by Kosta Nikas, which stars Chopper actor David Field in “The tale of a man who receives a visit from the devil after losing his wife and child.”
Dennis Ho’s feature debut A Better Place, pictured, “Tells the story of a young man who uses his abnormal regenerative powers to heal people, despite the cost to himself.”
The film has already picked up prizes at Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival (best independent film, emerging actor for star Stephen Todt), and the Los Angeles Movie Awards (Best Narrative Feature).
Also on the slate is Jennifer Liao’s debut feature, the comic thriller End Of Days, Inc, which “Follows a group of laid-off employees who discover that processing the last of their inventory will lead to catastrophic consequences.”
Devilworks has also picked up world rights to Massimo Natale’s Double Crossing (Il Traduttore), which stars The Passion Of The Christ actor Claudia Gerini alongside Kamil Kula in, “The story of a young student who becomes entangled in a passionate affair with an older woman.”
Devilworks president Samantha Richardson said: ‘’These titles all display intelligence and captivating cinema; they really stand apart, which is predominant in a market as hungry as Cannes.”
Flash back to 2009, 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy director David Slade was attached to helm the adaptation of the Antarctic island horror/psychological thriller Cold Skin, based on a best-selling Spanish novel of the same title.
Then, in 2011, Xavier Gens (The Divide, Hitman, Frontiere(s)) was attached to take the reigns from a screenplay by Carriers writers Alex and David Pastor.
After years in development hell, filming is officially underway, which means Cold Skin is actually, finally, truly happening!
Who stars? Ray Stevenson (“Dexter,” Punisher, Big Game, Thor, the Divergent franchise) and David Oakes (The Borgias, The White Queen), says Variety.
Based on a best-seller of the same title by Albert Sanchez Piñol whose adaptation rights were said to have been pursued in their day by Focus Europe and Filmax, Cold Skin begins with a young man approaching a remote island on the edge of the Antarctic Circle to relieve a weather observer who has been stationed there in solitude. But all he finds is a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name.
Cold Skin co-stars Spain’s double-Goya nominee Aura Garrido (Stockholm, The Department of Time).
Two-time Academy Award winner Gil Parrondo serves as production designer: award-winning Ranchito (“Games of Thrones,” The Impossible) supplies VFX.
Principal photography will move to the Canary Islands later this month and then a further part of the shoot is planned for Iceland exteriors, said Babieka’s Denis Pedregosa.
Here’s the synopsis from a few years back:
“In this grim, H.G. Wellsian fable, an unnamed European of unspecified nationality is hired to spend an unspecified mid-20th-century year logging wind conditions on a tiny Antarctic island. Anticipating solitude, the bookish young man soon discovers that he has a neighbor–the pathologically reclusive Gruner–and that each night, the island is overrun by humanoid killer amphibians. He and brutish Gruner–who has tamed a “toad” of his own–join forces, killing monsters by night and fornicating with Gruner’s pet by day. Inspired by the creature’s ability to laugh and cry–to say nothing of her perky breasts, knack for housework and wordless submissiveness–the narrator begins to think of the cold-blooded creatures as human. When he tries to befriend them and their children, his efforts pacify the humanoids, but not Gruner; the hopeful idyll ends when the older man launches a last suicidal effort to exterminate the “monsters.” Gruner’s death plunges our hero into a rut of battle, drunkenness and bestiality so complete that when his replacement arrives, he has become as feral as Gruner was before him.”
It sounds very Lovecraftian, like The Fog meets Dagon…
As we sit basking in the afterglow of another massively successful cinematic adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, The Jungle Book, I figured it was time to take a look at some of the best versions to date. Is it a horror story? No, but an argument could be made that it falls under the “when animals attack subgenre” like Grizzly, Tintotera, Day of the Animals, Frogs, etc. After all, Mowgli’s parents do often get killed (if not eaten) at the start of each version.
I’m not going to push that angle, partly because I’d just be reaching, but mostly because not everything we run on this site is horror-oriented. Whether some like it or not, we have a sub-section of the site that covers the action, sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres. That section is called The Further and it is under this area that the fantasy/adventure likes of The Jungle Book (and this weekend’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War) falls. So, without further (hah!) adieu, here are my five favorite on-screen incarnations of Rudyard Kipling’s classic jungle stories…
MTV’s first season of “Scream” ended with the reveal that Sarah Koenig-wannabe Piper (Amelia Rose Blaire) was the killer.
It all came together when viewers learned that Piper was the daughter of Brandon James and Emma’s mother Maggie (Tracy Middendorf), and was after Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) because she was jealous of her half-sister’s perfect life.
But before the credits would roll, the finale insinuated that Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) was her partner — and based on EW’s exclusive photos from the second season, it looks like that may be all but confirmed.
Now that we know Audrey is somehow in play, who is donning the Ghost Face mask and attacking Emma? There’s now a third person involved, which is the crux of this season’s underlying mystery.
“Scream” returns Monday, May 30 at 11 p.m. ET on MTV.
Thanks to Bloody reader ‘doodaderek’ for the tip.
Now that she’s out of “The Vampire Diaries”, Nina Dobrev is focusing her career on the big screen with films like XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Crash Pad. However, it’s her leap into the world of genre films that interests us as it’s been confirmed that the star is in talks to join Sony’s reboot of Flatliners, the 1990 sci-fi supernatural thriller that starred Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, and Kevin Bacon.
If she lands the role, Dobrev would be taking on the character of Marlo, an overachiever who aims to be at the top of her class, according to Deadline. However, it’s still uncertain if she’s going to commit to the production.
The remake is being directed by Niels Arden-Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and is produced by Michael Douglas and Laurence mark off a script by Ben Ripley. Ellen Page and Diego Luna are already confirmed for the film.
A Chicago medical student persuades his fellow pupils to help him end his life, and then resuscitate him in the nick of time. His colleagues also journey into the unknown, looking for meaning in their own lives. As the experiments become more perilous, each is forced to contend with the paranormal consequences of trespassing on the other side.
You want to poke a bear? In this new clip from Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room (read our review), a band dangerously screams the tune, “Nazi punks, Nazi punks, Nazi punks…FUCK ‘EM!” in front of a room filled with, you guessed it, Nazi punks.
Green Room is said to be a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. It is expanding into more theaters on April 22nd before going Nationwide on April 29th, 2016.
IN FACT: WE HAVE MORE FREE TICKETS TO TOMORROW’S SCREENINGS ACROSS THE NATION! RSVP ASAP and get your tickets printed out.
Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Mark Webber, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, and Kai Lennox also star.
“Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise. But while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, The Ain’t Rights prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected, turning the tables on their unsuspecting captors and setting the stage for the ultimate life-or-death showdown.
Intense, emotional, and ingeniously twisted, GREEN ROOM is genre filmmaking at its best and most original. Saulnier continues to build his reputation as one of the most exciting and distinctive directors working today, with a movie that’s completely different from his previous, highly acclaimed Blue Ruin, but which is just as risk-taking and even more full of twists. The entire cast deliver first-rate performances, but Patrick Stewart gives a transformative and brilliantly devious turn as Darcy—elegant yet lethal, droll yet terrifying, Stewart makes the film simply unforgettable.”
When originally announced, Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant was to open in October of 2017. It has since moved into the summer, leaving the slot wide open. What would fill it? How about another Scott sequel?!
Entertainment’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner, starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista, will now be released worldwide on October 6, 2017, it was announced by Alcon co-founders and co-CEO’s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove.
The film, initially set for a January 12, 2018 North American release, will be directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners).
Principal photography is scheduled to begin July 2016.
The sequel, set several decades after the original, is written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and succeeds the initial story by Fancher and David Peoples based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Story details are not being revealed.
Multi-Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (Sicario, Prisoners) will reunite with Villeneuve on the project.
Warner Bros will release the film in North America and Sony Pictures Releasing International will distribute in all overseas territories in all media.
Alt-rock band Garbage are going to be releasing their sixth studio album Strange Little Birds on June 10th via their own record label STUNVOLUME. To give fans a taste of what’s to come, the band has released a stream of “Empty”, the album’s second track.
Vocalist Shirley Manson tersely explains, “Empty is just exactly what it says it is. A song about emptiness.”
It’s April 20th (aka 4/20), so if you think I’m unaware that some of you are partaking in some “recreational activities”, please think again. I’m not THAT naive, alright? But know that I’m not going to be that jerk who tries to put a damper on the situation. Rather, I’m going to give you a seriously trippy video in the form of Zsonic‘s “Intrustion Effect”, which is a phantasmagoric explosion of color and surreal visuals, none of which make 100% sense to my weak brain. You can check out the video above but be warned that you should probably do it when you’re feeling quite chill. I’m not responsible otherwise!
Zsonic will be playing a show at the Beauty Bar in Chicago on April 22nd. You can find more details here.
Nearly six years ago, I wrote about eight real places that’d make for some fantastically creepy settings for horror games. From Japan’s eerily silent “Suicide Forest” where hundreds of people have entered and never left, to an old Czechoslovakian cathedral decorated with the remains of tens of thousands of people, it became immediately clear the world we live in is strange and terrifying, and we’re all one GPS glitch away from accidentally venturing into a real-life Silent Hill, valley of rock knives, or an island run by indigenous cannibals, deadly snakes or evil dolls.
With that in mind, here are five more reasons why you should never ever leave the safety of your home, lest you risk losing your life, soul or sanity to one of the seemingly infinite number of abandoned asylums our society just left lying around over the years.
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini, or Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, is the name that was given to a labyrinthine series of burial catacombs in Palermo, Italy, but don’t be fooled, this is absolutely a dead people jerky meat rack. It began at the end of the 16th century when the first corpse, a Capuchin monk named Fra Silvestro da Gubbio, was mummified inside the crypt alongside about four dozen other friars, who were all mummified so effectively that their faces were still identifiable hundreds of years later.
For centuries, the catacombs welcomed thousands of people into the ranks of the dead, including undergoing the extraordinarily effective mummification process — after a small donation, naturally — until its official closure in 1880. It’s only accepted two bodies since then, with the most recent being two year-old Rosalia Lombardo, who’s since claimed the unfortunate title of “world’s most beautiful mummy,” in case you’ve ever wondered if traveling the world playing Hot or Not with mummies was someone’s actual job description.
Suspended somewhere between life and death, the Capuchin Catacombs have become a popular, albeit delightfully macabre, tourist destination for a myriad curious artists, poets and philosophers, among them the famous Italian poet Ippolito Pindemonte who wrote of it in the Dei Sepolcri, “Death looks at them and it seems to have missed all shots.”
In addition to the otherworldly and decidedly sinister atmosphere the Ghost City of Fengdu always exudes, this place is proof that China is better than us. Even their ghost towns are superior to ours. Have you visited an American ghost town lately? They’re mostly trash and graffiti that form a general town-like structure, and not a single one of them are as photogenic as Fengdu, unless you fancy pictures of tumbleweeds, broken dreams and used heroin needles.
Woah, that got sad fast. Sorry about that.
What’s neat about Fengdu is how it’s both a tourist attraction and a spiritual hub the dead must travel to so they can endure an intense screening process that sounds more or less like a DMV for dead folks. The belief is the dead must pass through three tests before they can move on. The “Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge” tests their morality, the “Ghost Torturing Pass” has them present their sins for judgment, then they have to do the Flamingo outside the Tianzi Palace for three minutes or be sent to Hell.
“But Adam, I’m no ghost!” you say? Well, it’s not just a scenic spot the dead can gather at for strenuous exams or to shop for fresh meat bags to cling to so they can siphon their life essence, it’s also a strangely haunting lesson in morality for the living.
Scattered about the massive complex are statues depicting an impressive cast of wholesome characters, such as the man who got over-turnt, the oversexed man, and two boys who appear to be taking turns spanking each other’s bare bottoms. Are you motivated to do good yet?
All you really need to know about the Sanctuary of Tophet in Tunisia to understand why I felt I had to include it here is that it was once the spot where many drummers would come to make music, music that was used to drown out the dying screams of thousands of children the Carthaginians once brought there to be burned alive. It’s also the home of a Roman necropolis.
“Sanctuary” seems like an odd label for what was basically an enormous bonfire made of kids, for kids, and so does the erroneous belief that burning scores of living children before they’re old enough to be allowed to see a PG-13 movie — that wouldn’t be invented for a few thousand more years — is going to please any deity that’s worth pleasing.
‘Tophet’, I should mention, is Hebrew for ‘place of burning’, though a more accurate description would go something like ‘place of-FUCK ME THAT’S A LOT OF URNS’. Since this Sanctuary for Shitty Old Beliefs was discovered by archaeologists nearly a century ago, it’s produced more than 20,000 urns filled with the ashes of children.
“20,000 urns filled with the ashes of children” isn’t a particularly enjoyable sentence to have to read, and you’ve done it twice now. If life had achievements, you would’ve just earned the saddest one. Let’s celebrate that feat with a look at Kampung Monyet, or “Monkey Village”.
Don’t you dare laugh. Don’t even crack a smile. See, these aren’t ordinary monkeys, whatever that even means. No, these furry freak shows are the monkey equivalent of a modern failed circus performer, if that sad individual was also mentally unhinged and prone to wearing inordinately creepy baby doll mask. I wish I made that up. I didn’t. And if you think that’s frightening, wait until you see the gaggle of nightmare monkeys I’ve trained to wait for you in the gallery below.
These foul creatures once had a purpose in providing some much-needed entertainment to poor slum kids back in the 80s. It’s easy to picture the delight on a child’s face as they watch a costumed macaque dancing around — so easy, you can almost forget about the tens of thousands of kids from earlier. You know, the ones who died unimaginably painful deaths at the hands of extremely stupid adults. Remember them? Me neither! They probably deserved it, those rabble-rousers.
I think we can all agree those masked monkeys are right up there with Rick Astley and everything everyone ever wore on the list of things the 1980s can promptly take the fuck back.
Compared to the other places on this list, the ‘City of the Dead’ in Dargavs, Russia is like one of those fancy new playgrounds with the free salt water taffy dispensers that aren’t really a thing, even though they absolutely will be if you vote for me, Adam “Eh?” Dodd, as your new Mayor of Bloody Disgusting.
What’s interesting about Dargavs, aside from the creepy moniker its been given by the locals, is no one seems to know why it exists. The site is a necropolis — hence the name — with numerous tombs hidden beneath it, but there’s no record left to explain the significance of the nearly 100 huts that pepper the surface, or why they’re in such an isolated spot deep within the Caucasus mountains.
There’s more, but first, some bad jokes: I bet their HOA meetings are… lively. I’d move there, but I heard the rent is ghoulish (thanks Jon!) Or hey, what do City of the Deadites ask to borrow a cup of? Sugar? No, you dumb idiot! Salt! Get it – cause ghosts?
Locals have been burying their dead in Dragovs for hundreds of years, with the earliest mention of it dating back to the fourteenth century. The huts are void of any human life, obviously, with window-esque holes that weren’t for spying on neighbors, but rather, for dumping deceased loved ones along with any garbage they accumulated back when they still had hopes and dreams.
Another mystery that has yet to be solved is the purpose of the boats that house the dead in the tombs beneath Dragovs, or how they got there. The most likely answer is they believed their dead had to cross a river in the afterlife, similar to the river Styx in Greek mythology, the Sanzu River in Buddhism, or the Vaitarna River in Hinduism.
That’s it. A fifth list of freaky places to make you question whether it’s really worth leaving your house to get groceries when you can just order them online. It’s probably safe where you live, surely there’s no masked monkey waiting under your bed, or in your cabinet, closet, car, pants pocket, or waiting silently behind you.
Krillbite Studio’s next game, Mosaic, isn’t a horror game. It could be, if you find the often enormously repetitive daily grind of modern life horrifying, but unlike their fantastic 2014 horror game Among the Sleep, Mosaic is surreal and ambiguous, a beautifully styled video game adaptation of the life that so many of us currently live.
But this is more than just a reflection of the mundaneness of modern adulthood, it’s also a stunningly atmospheric story-driven adventure game with mysteries to unravel. And it’s so pretty.
Mosaic releases next year for PC, Mac and Linux.
When it comes to crowdfunding, unless your name is DoubleFine, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Still, it was surprising to see Stroboskop’s open-world horror game Sylvio 2 — the sequel to a Kickstarter staff pick that surpassed its goal in 2014 — fail to reach its relatively modest funding goal of about $16k back in January.
Sylvio 2 wasn’t the first promising horror game to get lost in the ever-expanding sea of crowdfunding efforts — it happened to DARQ, Kaiden, and Ghost Theory, and that’s just this year — and it won’t be the last. Many of these games, including Ghost Theory, eventually return for a second attempt, and maybe Stroboskop will too.
But that’ll have to wait. Right now, the studio is focused on an HD remaster of the original Sylvio that’ll use the same engine (Unity 5) that powers Layers of Fear and the upcoming sci-fi horror game PAMELA. When the remaster releases on May 2 for PC, it’ll come with improved visuals, controller support and various other tweaks based on player feedback.
They’re also offering launch day Steam keys to anyone who backs their Patreon page by April 30.
We dig into even more horror films that kept things simple by keeping their horror contained to a sole location!
Sometimes there’s nothing better than when horror films keep it simple. I’m a huge fan of boiled down, structurally interesting stuff, like when horror restricts their movie to a sole location. In a weird way it’s almost like watching theater, which seems like a ridiculous thing for the genre of horror to achieve. But by doing this it forces the films to use different storytelling tools, which can sometimes pay off in huge ways. Films like this also tend to be about the characters, giving you deep, fully realized personalities, rather than the clichéd throwaway types which horror can have a tendency to thrive on. It’s always nice to appreciate the sort of ambition going on in something like this, so here are some more examples of when horror took a chance with a single location and stumbled onto something great.
Directed by Frank Khalfoun
Coming from the same creative team behind 2012’s Maniac (which includes Alexandre Aja as a co-writer), it’s easy to see that Khalfoun is someone that has a lot of love for mixing things up with style and structure. P2 is set entirely in an underground parking garage on Christmas Eve. Angela tries to leave work one night when she is kidnapped by the deranged security guard who has secretly been obsessing over her for months on end. P2 isn’t perfect, and it feels like this team’s version of an independent film, but it hits a lot of the right marks and does a lot with its confined structure contributing to the fear. Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley also deliver some encouraging performances with characters that we get to learn a lot about which certainly helps the film out, too. It’s also nice that they actually shot the film within a parking garage, so that authenticity is definitely felt throughout the film. Since we’ve all certainly no doubt been in a parking garage at night before, that extra layer of realism to the picture also cuts through to you.
A L’Interieur (Inside) (2007)
Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo
Inside is one of my favorite horror films of all time and it’s absolutely strengthened by the fact that the story takes place in such a concentrated area. A very pregnant Sarah is home one night, when her quiet evening is quickly turned into a horrendous home invasion film. There’s something inherently terrifying about watching a pregnant woman run for her life, but Beatrice Dalle’s performance is one for the ages as she turns out a characterization that’s on the Anton Chigurh level of intimidating (also, don’t let your cats watch this film). Granted, a few scenes at the start of the film are outside of Sarah’s house, but once the attack begins it never leaves. And boy is it a bloody, relentless affair. A real meal is made out of the geography, as Sarah gets locked to various rooms in the house at different times. It’s just fun to think about as this as some sort of twisted stage play, with two strong female performances driving it forward.
Directed by William Friedkin
And speaking of “bottle episode” horror that feels like it could be a piece of theater, Bug especially fits the mold since it was a play beforehand. William Friedkin (who directed a little film called The Exorcist, maybe ya heard of it?) turns Bug into the very best kind of psychological horror that feels reminiscent of things like Repulsion. The film sees Agnes and Peter getting holed up in a simple Oklaholma motel room, as Peter’s obsessive conspiracy theories about insects and the government begin to take over them both. One of the great joys of this film is watching how this hotel room transforms into such an unnerving, unstable environment (it’s eventually completed covered in tinfoil). It also doesn’t hurt that it’s Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon that are the ones trading psychotic barbs here. Having legitimate actors in horror films always helps and this is a great example of the case. This one really washes over you and seeing yourself get trapped in this space of paranoia with these people, not sure what is real or not, with no escape to act as a release valve makes for some very effective horror. Friedkin and Letts would also work together on the tonally similar, Killer Joe, which is also more than worth your time.
Terror Train (1980)
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
It’s a travesty that not enough people know about Terror Train, not only because a horror film set on a train is just a good idea, but that this vehicle is starring Jamie Lee Curtis, no less! The film is your classical bully revenge story, with a large body count that’s able to accumulate in the cramped space. This is also that beautiful classic sort of ‘80s horror with red, red blood and the killers have garish costumes. This takes that stereotype to new extreme with the killer adopting each of his victims’ attire (a New Years Eve costume party’s going on—interestingly a lot of these films are set on holidays) to the point where he’s wearing 10 costumes by the end of things—a different one in each scene he’s in, at that. Terror Train is actually shot on a real Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive, which is pretty wonderful. It also involved all sorts of creative ways of lighting the cramped space, like completely rewiring the train, and using penlights and other handheld methods to make things work.
Directed by David Brooks
So ATM might not be the best film on this list, but it certainly gets points for trying and has its murderous heart in the right place. The concept of three people being trapped in an ATM booth while a psychotic killer preys upon them has a lot of potential. If done right it could be some sort of horror equivalent to Phone Booth that really makes you feel trapped in a glorious way. ATM’s execution might be all sorts of sloppy, but it surprisingly gets a lot of mileage out of its tiny location, with touches like the killer turning off the heat going a long ways. The film manages to do some smart things, and even has some decent kills, but it’s just endlessly bleak, with a real downer of an ending on top of it all. It’s still worth getting drunk and watching with your friends as you bicker about what you’d do in such a situation.
Directed by Stuart Hazeldine
If ATM is dumb fun, then Exam is the most cerebral, with this film being a constant puzzle that you’re trying to solve with the characters within. Exam’s story is the simple sort of mind game that I love so much. Eight strangers (who we don’t even get the names of) are stuck in a room for 80 minutes—effectively making the film pass in real-time, too—as they try to pass an entrance exam for a prestigious job. More interestingly, the exam only has one question, but three crucial rules: they can’t talk to their invigilator, spoil their exam paper, or leave the room. Honestly, the less you know about the film, the better. It’s a movie that’s full of twists and surprises, and trying to figure it out as the film keeps pulling the rug out from under you is part of why it’s so much fun.
Directed by Bruce McDonald
Pontypool is a blessed mish-mash of love story and “zombie” outbreak in a truly different sort of way. The movie sees a shock jock and members of a radio station getting holed up in such a place because of the pandemonium that is going on outside their doors. While Pontypool might follow the beats of a lot of zombie films where the characters are trapped inside of somewhere, the film is really about language in the end. Rather than this being some typical outbreak virus, it’s actually one that infects the English language, which is a terribly interesting idea to play around with. McDonald and Tony Burgess have stated that the original War of the Worlds broadcast is a major influence here, and it’s certainly felt. Pontypool is an unnerving delight all around, and whenever you think you know where it’s going, it manages to surprise you.
Directed by Gerard Johnstone
Coming out of New Zealand, Housebound eerily feels reminiscent of What We Do In the Shadows, which also happens to hail from the region. The film sees a woman, Kylie, being sentenced to house arrest in what’s believed to be a haunted house, which is a very solid premise, but the picture tows a dangerous line with its tone through it all. Housebound nails most of its horror, with the idea of the ghost of some dead boy plaguing these people, but there’s a weird vein of comedy that runs through the film too, which might not work for all people. Johnstone’s influences were The Changeling, The Legend of Hell House, but also Ghosthunters, giving you an idea of the wide spectrum that’s hit here. Housebound might be trying to say too much, but it shows a lot of promise and certainly has a memorable ending, whether you’re into it or not.
Directed by John Gulager
Believe it or not, Feast is actually the result of the reality show, Project Greenlight’s third season, with the film’s limited locations being another example of how minimalism can be key for an independent feature. Feast sees a bunch of off-color bar patrons getting stuck in their watering hole as terrifying creatures begin an attack from the outside. It’s a classic “survive with strangers” scenario, and the film pulls it off well. Feast clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously either, and tries to be evocative of that smarmy vibe that makes things like Tremors work so well. For instance, the protagonist is straight up known as “Heroine”, with other characters having similarly clichéd monikers like Honey Pie, Hot Wheels, and Beer Guy. Oh, and Jason Mewes is also there, as himself. Surprisingly the film’s sense of humor is one of its greatest assets, with the weird sensibility punctuating the carnage even further. Somehow all of this insanity coalesces in the right way, and the film creates a fun world where it’s not surprising to see that the film spawned two sequels.
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom
Stephen King has written countless stories that have seen adaptation, but 1408 actually manages to be one of the more competent ones out there. The to-the-point story sees John Cusack’s, Mike, a horror author who investigates allegedly haunted houses, spending a night in one that’s supposedly just dripping in ghosts. This one might be a bit of a cheat, since there are some scenes before Mike gets into the titular room, but since the film is all about having to stay inside and survive said room, I think it’s excusable. Once Mike is inside, the film doesn’t disappoint with a lot of genuinely terrifying things messing with him as the room tries to push him over the edge. The film does a great job with getting inside Mike’s head and also illustrating the loneliness and isolation that Mike’s experiencing through this. The fact that Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson are also highly capable performers doesn’t hurt this creepy material either.
With more and more chances being taken within the horror genre, I’m sure we’ll only see more creative takes on this minimalistic approach. As more auteurs continue to prove that mixing things up can pay off, directors are going to want to keep rolling the dice. Directors realizing that these smaller scale projects are safe could lead to some interesting things in the right hands.
Note: After writing this piece, I’ve seen Mike Flanagan’s Hush, and it certainly deserves a place on here, too.
One of the greatest common threads in 1980’s genre films were the abundance of absurd one-liners. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the king, landing awesome lines in nearly all of his action films.
But what makes this video montage a bit different is that it’s a look at the best one-liners that take place after the kill.
Yes, a handful of Schwarzenegger films are included, from Total Recall to Commando, Eraser, The 6th Day, Last Action Hero, Terminator 2, The Running Man and even Predator. Other films of note? How about Army Of Darkness, Darkman, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Mortal Kombat, Universal Soldier, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance and Hellboy…
Why don’t you blow off a little steam and enjoy the video above!
In April 2009 three young men were killed in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. The only thing more shocking than the crime itself are the bizarre events that followed.
Julian Pinder and Adam Levins’ Population Zero focuses on the crazy true fact that there exists a place in America where there are no laws and you can really get away with murder.
The indie production is set to World Premiere next week at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
“In 2009 three young men were killed in a remote area of Yellowstone National Park. Only hours later, Dwayne Nelson walks into a ranger station miles away and confessed to the crime. Despite his detailed confession, Nelson goes free because of a loophole in the American Constitution. Documentarian Julian T. Pinder travels to Yellowstone in a chase for truth behind a crime that should have rocked the nation. How did the United States Constitution let a guilty man go free? In ‘Population Zero’ we find the only thing more shocking thank this senseless act of violence may be the bizarre events that followed.“
Check out an exclusive look at the art below.