By Jonathan Weichsel
SLINK is trash cinema at its most glorious. If you love the splatter pictures of Herschel Gordon Lewis, the T&A of Russ Meyers, the slyly subversive satire of Roger Corman, and the over the top acting of Vincent Price in a William Castle film, then you need to see this right now.
SLINK is about a husband and wife who use a tanning salon to lure pretty young girls so they can murder them once their skin is nice and tan, and then skin them alive and use their tan skin to make designer purses.
Art Roberts as the husband, Dawna Lee Heising as his wife, and Julia Faye West as her sister all give deliciously evil performances. Every word spoken by these three actors, even innocent words, just drip with malice, not so much because of what they are saying, but how it is said. All three actors seem like they are channeling Vincent Price, who was a master at having fun being evil, in one of his campier roles like The House on Haunted Hill.
Two incredibly cute girls, Danika Galindo and Marylyn Brooks, who both get very naked towards the end of the film, round out the main cast. Galindo and Brooks do a very good job giving the film its nudie-cutie feel, but also give fun, bubbly performances that are enjoyable to watch even when the actresses are wearing clothes. Danika Galindo is especially good as Kayla Nunez, the ingenue who falls for the lure of designer purses and tan skin that is set out in front of her.
The script is also very strong, with distinct characters and dialogue that is brimming with humor. Much of SLINK has the look of DIY horror, but the climactic scene, with beautiful naked female corpses hanging everywhere, has a sense of style to it that transcends the DIY movement.
There are a lot of people out there right now who are trying to do what slink does and channel the exploitation genre. A lot of films are able to capture the look, but few capture the feel. Fewer still manage to capture the sense of fun, excitement, and danger of an old exploitation flick. Exploitation should make you feel a little dirty for having watched it. The sleazier an exploitation flick is, the better! This is where Slink succeeds while other films have failed. This film is very, very sleazy, in all the right ways.
A lot of people will read this glowing review and decide that SLINK is not for them. A film like SLINK isn’t meant to be for everybody. That’s why it’s called cult cinema. But if you’re a fan of exploitation, don’t miss this.
By Jonathan Weichsel
2013 marks the 13th annual Shriekfest and my fifth consecutive year reviewing the festival. This year’s lineup of films was much stronger than years past, and featured one true masterpiece, something very rare at a genre festival. What follows are my favorite films from the weekend, in the order that I liked them.
Marty is a fifth grade boy growing up in 1980’s suburbia, who uses horror movies to escape the dismal reality of his existence. The pain that Marty goes through on a daily basis, pain that comes from his family, which looks so happy on the surface but is in reality so miserable, and from school, where he is horribly bullied, while the perpetrators get nothing more than a slap on the wrist, can be difficult to watch. Found really made me remember what it was like being a kid in the 1980’s, and made me look in a different way at all the pain and resulting anger that goes along with childhood.
Found is a horror film that is about emotional horror as much as it is about physical horror. Not that there isn’t any physical horror. The gore in Found is completely over the top, in that imaginative, 1980’s sort of way that we all miss. But it is the emotional horror in Found that is so raw that it will cut you as sharp as any knife or axe. The turmoil that Marty goes through at home and school is so palpable, and so suffocating, that when the physical horror finally came, in the form of a film within the film, it provided such a cathartic release that it actually made me remember why I fell in love with horror all those years ago in the first place.
Watching Marty browse the horror aisle at the VHS shop, examining the box covers with wide but critical eyes, it is easy to understand why he chose horror as his avenue of escape. But while Marty chose horror, horror also chooses him. Although Marty’s life is really unbearable, lacking any sense of order or fairness, he doesn’t start to question things until he learns that his older brother, Steve is a serial killer.
It is the conflict between Marty and Steve that drives the story forward, as Marty finds himself both fascinated and repulsed by his older brother’s actions, and struggles to understand them.
Found is a film about the pain and anger of growing up in a 1980’s suburb, and how a young loner deals with his frustrations by escaping into horror movies. The film puts you in the head of a fifth grade boy, showing us thoughts and conversations that are so real it’s frightening. Found is a true masterpiece of horror filmmaking. Raw and uncompromising, Found is the best new American horror film I have seen in years.
Filmmakers have long used the zombie swarm as a commentary on society, and zombie films are as much about the segment of society that they take place in as they are about zombies. So Dawn of the Dead, which takes place in a shopping mall, is about consumerism, while Shaun of the Dead is about life as a working class stiff in London.
The shower, while not exactly a zombie film, follows the same general formula, and does so very, very well. The Shower is set at a Los Angeles baby shower full of Hollywood wannabes and nobodies. There are a bunch of actors who have done a few commercials, a writer who had a small success a few years ago, and all the aging men and women masking their desperation behind phony smiles and grandstanding one would expect at such a shindig.
When there is an outbreak of people suddenly turning crazy and killing each other, these pathetic Hollywood wannabes must work together in order to survive. Working together proves to be more difficult than it sounds, because many of them are truly awful people.
The Shower is a horror comedy, and the humor works because of how realistically the film depicts a certain Hollywood type. I live in Hollywood, and I can attest that there are many aging, delusional people here who are exactly like the characters in this film. I am not one of them however. I am a young 35.
I don’t know if anybody who doesn’t live in Hollywood will believe a single frame of this film, just because Hollywood is so not how outsiders expect, but I really felt like I knew the people up on the screen, and think The Shower will become a local hit.
Abducted is a sci-fi action thriller done right. This story, about a man and woman in love who are kidnapped by mysterious forces that perform bizarre medical experiments on them, is elevated by gritty, realistic production values and acting, and a script that treats its characters like human beings and keeps you guessing at the mysteries surrounding them.
Often in movies such as this there is no tension because the characters are too stupid to be believed. In Abducted, however, the characters make smart, sometimes unexpected choices, and make legitimate efforts to escape from where they are being held.
The tension is ramped up to high from start to finish and there are real scares and real suspense in almost every scene. Abducted might follow familiar ground, but it does so in a way that feels new and fresh. I found myself invested in the characters throughout, something that doesn’t usually happen with this sort of film.
Judas Ghost is a supernatural film set in a single room. It follows a ghost hunter who is part of a British governmental agency that deals with supernatural phenomenon, who gets trapped with his team by a very malignant spirit.
What makes this film, which is spun off from a popular series of British novels, stand out is how unapologetically British it is. This is a film made with a touch of British class and a twist of dry British wit.
Although it all takes place in one room, Judas Ghost never loses your interest. Martin Delany does a great job as the lead Ghost Hunter, and brings a Doctor Who type of quirkiness to the role. The rest of the team of ghost hunters does a great job as well, as they battle the malignant spirit and are killed off one by one.
The special effects and production design deserve special mention. No, Judas Ghost doesn’t look like a Hollywood movie, but there was obviously a lot of care put into the look of the film, and a lot of attention paid to little details that pays off on screen, making Judas Ghost the best looking film at Shriekfest this year, and better looking than most indie horror films.
By Jonathan Weichsel
So much has been written over the years about the legend of Legend of the Red Reaper, about the initial production problems, how the film was scrapped and then saved by actress Tara Cardinal and how it became something in between a passion project and an obsession of hers, as she struggled against enormous adversity to finish the film herself.
It is not my job however, as a critic, to write about the legend, but about the film itself. Legend of the Red Reaper is quite possibly the most elaborate indie genre film every produced. It is also among the most ambitious, and although the film doesn’t always meet its lofty ambitions, where it falls short it at least does so in interesting ways.
Reapers are creatures that are half human and half demon, and are the spawns of rape. Although humans shun reapers, reapers are sworn to protect them against demons. In Legend of the Red Reaper, Tara Cardinal plays the reaper Aella, who according to legend is to be the last of her kind. Knowing that there will soon be no place for her in the world, Aella’s loyalties become conflicted as her heart, mind, and conscience all pull her in different directions.
All of this takes place to the backdrop of an epic war between human and demon, and action and spectacle abound. Tara Cardinal, who does her own stunts, puts her full athleticism on display during the film’s surprisingly bloody sword-fights. The fight choreography, whether depicting hand-to-hand combat or a giant battle, is always top notch.
There are a few things about Legend of the Red Reaper that make it unique. Foremost among these is that it will be lost on no one watching it that Legend of the Red Reaper is a feminist action film. At least you don’t have to be a respected film critic to interpret the meaning of lines such as, “As a child fate cast me as a victim. I have chosen to be a victor.”
But beyond any rhetoric, Legend of the Red Reaper is told completely and unapologetically from a female’s perspective. This isn’t a film about a guy trying to get a girl. It is a film about a woman trying to woo a man. Rather than go for the cheap trick of role reversal that we are usually subject to when movies try to tell a woman’s tale, Legend of the Red Reaper truly brings us into a woman’s world.
Along with being unapologetically feminist, Legend of the Red Reaper is also an unapologetically geeky film. This is a film borne out of the respective cultures of comic book conventions and renaissance fairs. What this means is that there is a sense of fun that you don’t see too often anymore. It also however means that there is a sense of self-importance to the film, which is most prominent in its complex mythology and backstory. The world building in Legend of the Red Reaper plays as important a role as the storytelling. It is, after all, a sword and sorcery film.
Legend of the Red Reaper is a completely unique film. Rather than follow the formulas of old, it creates its own formula, one that is sure to be copied by others in the years to come. The film has an undeniable appeal, and will be the indie hit of the year.
The Legend of the Red Reaper will have it’s World Premiere on August 31st at the Central Florida Film Festival.
Academy Award-winning special effects superstar Tom Woodruff, Jr. has worked on the crème de la crème of sci-fi and creature projects including the upcoming Enders Game and the new Percy Jackson:Sea of Monsters movie all the way back to Terminator, the Alien franchise, and my personal fav Pumpkinhead. With your help Woodruff will make his directorial debut with an independent horror thriller funded through Kickstarter.
First announced on sites like Stan Winston’s School of Character Arts, Dread Central and Shock Till You Drop it’s safe to say the horror community is behind this new exciting multi-level franchise created by first-time producing partners, and creators Brian Lubocki and Michael Hayes, who made a splash at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with the sizzle reel for Fire City. Check out the Demon in the Darkness video where a surprise star gets the better of a demon. Hint: he was your favorite filterless cop on Southland.
Tom was ready and looking for a project to sink his directorial teeth into, and then this particular project had such a focus on practical creature effects with such a vast world and story potential that he felt it would be the perfect debut. The world in this project is billed as a demon fantasy set against the noir backdrop of Fire City, a shadowy atmospheric world, where demons secretly live among humans - love it. The Interpreter Of Signs is the first feature film of the four-film project.
Horror fans are ready for a fresh new franchise and it looks like Fire City has all the right components to make that happen. The producers have created an all-consuming world with a dark take on the evil that lives among us, which promises to keep horror audiences captivated with not only film but a comic book and game as well. If all goes as planned Woodruff will start directing the first installment in January. Secure your spot in Hell by becoming personally responsible for getting this project made by putting down your shekels before the August 18th deadline. Kickstarter
2013 is my fourth year in a row reviewing The Viscera Film Festival, which features short horror films directed by women. Please indulge me as I start this year’s review with a little anecdote:
I was telling a friend who is a progressive activist and a self-described feminist about Viscera over drinks a few weeks back, and I was shocked by his knee-jerk negative reaction. First, he tried to argue that it was a frivolous feminist movement because directing movies is a frivolous career path. I told him that regardless of how he feels about what kind of career path directing is, it is a career path, and one that women are more often than not denied.
He didn’t have an answer to this, so he came back with, “Well, horror movies are inherently misogynistic. Women get tortured, murdered, and raped as entertainment. So Viscera can’t be a feminist movement. It just sounds like a bunch of women supporting a sexist paradigm.
Around the same time, I saw a producer of trendy art house films I know at a film festival and told him about Viscera. He was completely dismissive, saying, “Women direct horror movies because the work is easy to get.”
Everybody, male or female, who goes into film, is going to have to face people who don’t understand the film industry, and think his or her aspirations are a joke. Everybody, male or female, who is a fan of horror, is going to have to face people who misunderstand the horror genre, and look down on his or her taste in movies. So, an aspiring horror filmmaker starts out with two strikes against him or her, one for going into film, and one for loving horror movies. In other words, if you move to Hollywood to make horror movies, your character is going to be questioned by an awful lot of people regardless of your gender.
But women who want to go into the film industry and make horror movies have a third strike against them, just by virtue of being women. Many people, both men and women, just can’t wrap their heads around the idea of women directing horror movies. Even within the horror community, there is a vocal online backlash against women in horror.
What is tragic is that the whole thing should really be very simple. As with men, many women like horror movies. As with men, some women love horror movies. Everybody knows this. If you haven’t met a woman who likes or loves horror movies, get out more. Just like some men, some women are blessed, or cursed if you will, with the urge to create and to tell stories. So, if you are a woman who loves horror movies, and has the urge to create, then just like a man in the same predicament, you are going to want to create horror movies, right?
But of course most people don’t see it that way, which is why The Viscera Film Festival, which exists to honor female horror directors, is so vital.
Here are my favorite movies from the festival, in the order that I liked them:
The Meeting, directed by Karen Lam, was the standout film of the festival. Sometimes hilarious, at other times poignant, and overall creepy as hell, The Meeting depicts a serial killers anonymous meeting, which is the same thing as an AA meeting except it’s for serial killers instead of alcoholics. The film is funny because of how it compares killing to alcoholism, and poignant because of the truthful manner in which addiction is treated, with the former serial killers showing a recovering addict’s forced sense of remorse for their previous deeds. Of course there is a gruesome, bloody twist, but I won’t give that away here.
If you are into horror, which I assume you are since you are reading this, you really owe it to yourself to check out Karen Lam’s work. The Meeting is a great place to start, and I’m sure it will be playing at a lot of horror festivals this coming October.
Orange County Hill Killers, directed by newcomer Katie Downer, is a terrific campfire tale of a horror film. On the one hand, the film looks and feels completely modern, but on the other, it really does bring you back to a bygone age of horror, when horror was about having fun. The film uses a fractured, story within a story narrative structure, but Downer cleverly uses this to her advantage, never letting the framing device get in the way of the story’s urgency.
Orange County Hill Killers is about murderous, territorial hillbillies who stalk and kill some young campers who wander into their territory. Hillbilly horror usually doesn’t elicit much of a response from me, but in this case the campers are the kind of very recognizable and barely likable characters that you just can’t wait to see get killed, and the hillbillies are just deranged enough to be scary without sacrificing believably.
Orange County Hill Killers is the kind of fun, gory horror film that most fans crave but doesn’t get made very often anymore.
Slumber Party, directed by Jenn Wexler, is a Daywalt produced short, and has a very Daywalt feel. What I mean by that is that it tells a concise, efficient story with a creepy twist. Slumber Party deals with the ramifications of looking into a mirror and repeating Bloody Mary three times, but it is also about being excluded even as one is trying to fit in. Daywalt shorts are always crowd pleasers, and this one is no exception.
Anniversary Dinner is about a man living in a post-zombie apocalypse world who keeps his zombie wife in hiding even though she is supposed to have been turned in to the authorities. I loved the mannered, dramatic style of acting in this film. When horror gets theatrical, it often comes across as campy, but in this case it comes across as utterly sincere.
My Brother’s Keeper, or How Not to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, directed by Jen Moss, is a joke heavy horror comedy about a resourceful woman and her idiot brother hiding from zombies. Her brother is gung ho about fighting the zombies, but is, to his sister’s wary exasperation, completely inept at even the most basic survival skills.
Overall The Viscera Organization has given us another amazing festival. If you are a horror fan, The Viscera Film Festival is really one of the best shorts festivals out there. And if you are at all curious about women in horror, come down and check it out. If you don’t live in Hollywood, don’t worry. The festival goes on frequent tours.
Here is the Viscera website: http://www.viscerafilmfestival.com
Here are my reviews from 2012 and 2011:
AMERICAN MARY is the brilliantly outrageous new horror film from the filmmmaking sister team of Jen and Sylvia Soska featuring a finely constrained performance by Katharine Isabelle as a medical student slowly descending into madness and featuring some of the most eye-popping “how the f*ck did they do that” special make-up effects that you are likely to see. Last October, AMERICAN MARY rocked Screamfest picking up 5 awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Soska Sisters), Best Actress (Katharine Isabelle), Best Make-Up (Masters FX) and Best Cnematography (Brian Pearson). Now, Filmradar gives you a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Los Angeles premiere this Friday, May 31st at the TCL Chinese 6.
Medical student, Mary Mason, is growing increasingly broke and disenchanted by medical school and the surgeons she once admired. The allure of easy money and notoriety sends her into the messy world of underground surgery and body modification.
Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska and
Star Katharine Isabelle
will be in attendance for a Q&A after the film.
Friday, May 31st
TCL Chinese 6
6801 Hollywood Blvd
To enter, send an email to:
Please include your full name and phone number.
AMERICAN MARY will be playing in Los Angeles
at the TCL Chinese 6
from Friday, May 31st to Thursday, June 6th
Purchase Tickets Online
AMERICAN MARY is currently available on VOD and iTunes
On DVD and Blu-ray on June 18th
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Hey screenwriters, this is a great opportunity. Due to this new deal, Screamfest has extended the submission deadline until June 15th. Click here for more information on screenplay submissions,
May 24, 2013 – Los Angeles- The 13th annual Screamfest Horror Film Festival & Screenplay Competition announces a first look deal with Chiller, a division of NBCuniversal for the winner of this year’s contest. “We are very excited to offer this great opportunity to this year’s winning screenplay.” founder/festival director Rachel Belofsky said. Chiller’s senior director or programming, Shane O’Brien, said, “Chiller has always valued the dramatic weight that well-crafted screenplays contribute to the horror genre. We’re thrilled to offer the opportunity to work with and nurture talented up-and-coming screenwriters.”
Screamfest Horror Film Festival takes place Oct. 8th – 17th, 2013 in Los Angeles. The winning screenplay will be announced on October 17th on the closing night of the festival.
Screamfest Horror Film Festival was founded in 2001 to give up-and-coming filmmakers and writers a venue to showcase their work. Screamfest provides a great opportunity for them to have their work discovered just as Oren Peli, director and producer of Paranormal Activity, was discovered through his Paranormal Activity entry.
About Chiller TV:
Chiller is the only cable channel devoted to delivering viewers round-the-clock scares. Chiller’s eclectic slate of adrenaline-fueled, soul-stirring entertainment includes a broad offering of original movies and specials, genre films, documentary and reality shows (Fear Factor) and some of the most thought-provoking and suspenseful series ever on television (Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tales from the Darkside, Outer Limits). Chiller is currently available in over 42 million homes. To learn more, visit: www.chillertv.com
The very first Ingrid Pitt Memorial Award represents a tip of the hat to a horror star- and its recipient is Debbie Rochon. Much like Pitt in the 1970’s with films “Countess Dracula” and “The Vampire Lovers,” the award acknowledges a person that has supported the horror genre and embraced it overcoming many obstacles, breaking barriers and being a leader in its industry.
Pitt starred in over thirty films. She co-starred with Sir Christopher Lee in the cult original “The Wicker Man” (1973) and “The House that Dripped Blood” (1970). She also starred in Hammer’s “Countess Dracula” and, with Horror legend Peter Cushing, in Hammer’s “The Vampire Lovers.” She passed away too soon in 2011. The Ingrid Pitt Memorial Award is presented in conjunction with The Estate of Ingrid Pitt, filmmaker / producer Kevin Sean Michaels and event coordinator Stacy Pippi Hammon.
Currently, a long-form documentary film about Ingrid Pitt’s life and career is being produced by Michaels (“Vampira; The Movie,” “The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels”), which will be a combination of live action and animation with contributions from student animators and renowned professional animators all over world. It will be released in installments. The first installment was called, “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond The Forest,” animated by 10-year-old Perry S. Chen, with storyboards by two-time Academy Award nominee Bill Plympton. The short film qualified for an Academy Award nomination last year in its long-list.
Last October, a film festival in the Old Town Quarter of Hastings, England, UK in memory of Pitt was organized by Ingrid’s husband Tony Rudlin, and The Official Ingrid Pitt Fan Club. It was also the official launch of Ingrid’s novel “Dracula Who…?”, published by Avalard. A “Queen of Horror” was announced, Sarah Bones, who will be the ambassador and host for future events, including an event in the spring in New York. The Ingrid Pitt Memorial is in the series of such tributes.
“I spent five years with Ingrid herself discussing her life’s work and legacy. She was an actor’s actor.” said Michaels. “That meant the most to her. She always felt that her work in genre films was not highlighted enough. She wanted to be remembered as an artist. It’s all about taking risks and new ground. This award honors that memory and its spirit.”
“We are presenting to a horror star, as Ingrid was, to celebrate women in the horror movie genre, keep her memory in our hearts, and to aid further projects to come that have that same energy and positivity,” Michaels added.
Rochon is a veteran actress that has appeared in a multitude of films including “Tromeo and Juliet” (1996), “Terror Firmer” (1999), “American Nightmare” (2002), “HP Lovecraft’s Colour from the Dark” (2009), “The Theatre Bizarre” (2011), “Sick Boy” (2012), and “Rudyard Kipling’s Mark of the Beast” (2012). 2013 will see the release of “Exhumed”, “Wrath of the Crows”, “Solid State”, “Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart”.
Rochon also co-hosted the Fangoria Radio Show from 2006 to 2010 with Dee Snider and Tony Timpone, covering horror news in a talk show setting. Her writing credits include her current column in Fangoria Magazine, “Diary of the Deb”. She is currently in post production on her feature directorial debut, “Model Hunger” starring Lynn Lowry, Tiffany Shepis and Carmine Capobianco.
“I think there is no doubt whatsoever that an award with such qualifications as the Ingrid Pitt Memorial Award represents should be established by honoring the woman whose name is associated with the very definition of the award’s purpose to a T. Debbie Rochon is that woman”, said Hammon.
“They both experienced incomprehensible hardships during their childhoods and have a shared passion for their work, both acting in the horror genre and writing”, Hammon added.
“Being honored with such a prestigious accolade is a truly humbling experience. I have long admired and respected the contributions Ingrid Pitt has made to the genre and to be a recipient of an award attached to her name is the highest form of recognition for any woman in this field to achieve”, said Rochon.
The Ingrid Pitt Memorial Award will be presented on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the Cella Art Gallery, 11135 Weddinton Street, Suite 112, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
The Cella Art Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery centrally located in the NoHo Arts District that loves to support the independent art and horror communities.
By Jonathan Weichsel
I used to review a lot of horror film festivals, but lately I have been attending festivals as a screenwriter instead of a journalist, and haven’t been reviewing what I see. But, I have kept up the habit of watching as many of the films as I possibly can. What this means is that this year alone, I watched over fifty mostly unreleased horror films at various festivals, which kind of makes me an expert. What follows is my best of the fests for 2012.
1) The House with 100 Eyes
This subversive, unrestrained, skewed vision of reality peels away some of the most trite found footage genre trappings to give us a hilarious, creepy, over the top explosion of brutal violence.
Ed and Susan are a husband and wife team who produce snuff films from their home for commercial distribution. Ed wants to produce the biggest snuff film in history, featuring a triple kill, and all the bonus features and commentary you would expect from a standard issue DVD.
But, the triple kill is logistically bigger than what he and his wife have the resources to pull off, and things quickly start to go wrong in the most darkly comical ways imaginable. What follows are gory, comedic, anarchic set pieces and characters that develop in directions you will not foresee as Ed desperately tries to put his magnum opus back on track.
“The House With 100 Eyes” brilliantly holds a funhouse mirror up to the found footage genre, giving audiences something truly warped and twisted.
2) Children of Sorrow
This psychological horror film, directed by Jourdan McClure, features a stunning performance by Bill Oberst Jr. as Simon Leach, a brilliant sociopath and cult leader who lures a group of wayward young people to his compound and brainwashes them with religion.
Oberst’s performance, at times subtle and nuanced, and at others frighteningly over the top, will leave you thinking long after the movie is done about how certain kinds of people are able to manipulate and control other kinds of people.
“Children of Sorrow” is an engrossing character study and a great star vehicle for Bill Oberst Jr. But it is also a great movie in it’s own right. This is the kind of film that pulls you in and makes your heart rate rise. Thought provoking, intense, and bone chilling, this is for anyone who likes dark, psychological horror.
3) President Wolfman
(New Orleans Horror Film Festival)
Out of all of the films here, this is the one that most divides audiences into loved it and hated it camps. I personally love this movie. “President Wolfman”, directed by Mike Davis, is a horror-comedy composed entirely of stock footage from over 120 old films, with voice over acting done in the style of What’s Up Tiger Lilly?
Creating a film this way is a daring experiment, but what makes “President Wolfman” work so well is the quality of writing and story telling. After a wolf bites The President of The United States, whose name already happens to be John Wolfman, he becomes a werewolf and kills off his political opponents in Congress, who want to pass a bill that would sell The United States to China, and rename our country Chimerica. But when President Wolfman turns human again, he feels guilty about killing his opponents, and searches for a cure to his lycanthropy.
The dialogue in “President Wolfman” sounds like it comes out of an old Zucker Brother’s comedy, and is full of puns and innuendos, and sometimes verges on the nonsensical. The stock footage is put together so that it flows naturally, and after awhile you forget that you are watching stock footage, and it just seems like you are watching a movie.
4) Nervo Craniano Zero
(New Orleans Horror Film Festival)
This Brazilian film, directed by Paulo Biscaia Filho, with influences ranging from 20th century European literature, to American horror, to the telenovela, is the strangest movie on this list.
A successful writer hires her ex boyfriend to invent a brain chip that will induce creativity. Naturally, instead of testing it out on her, they use a naïve farm girl who moved to the big city to be a singer as their test subject. The chip turns the farm girl into a creative genius, with only one side effect: she’s dead.
The thing that makes “Nervo Craniano Zero” stand out is its bold stylistic approach. Some quick examples: The film is shot with garish colors set against dark backgrounds, giving many of the scenes a neon-like quality. The acting is completely on the nose, like in a soap opera, even though the dialogue as written is subtle. Bubble gum pop music is played over a gory surgical operation.
But that just scratches the surface. “Nervo Craniano Zero” is full of stylistic adventures. It is also a fun, funny, intelligent movie.
Everything else on this list is totally highbrow, but “Bunyan”, directed by Gary Jones and written and produced by Jeff Miller, is just a fun little genre flick that knows what it’s trying to do.
A group of juvenile delinquents must go camping in the woods with a sadistic corrections officer as part of a last chance program. But after one of the delinquents angers Paul Bunyan by taking an item, he comes after the teens seeking vengeance.
There is a concept in screenwriting called delivering on the promise of the premise. What this means is if your movie sets something up, then the movie has to follow through and deliver. For example, what if you went to watch a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan, and then Jason spends almost the entire movie on a cruise ship? You’d be pretty pissed, right? I know I was. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pissed because Jason Takes Manhattan fails to deliver on the promise of its premise.
I mention this concept because what makes “Bunyan” work is that it delivers on the promise of its premise completely. “Bunyan” gives you everything you could possibly want from a movie where Paul Bunyan is real, but is actually a maniac killer. “Bunyan” is a real fun ride. You rarely see this kind of genre film made today with so much care.
By Jonathan Weichsel
For years now the Viscera Film Festival has been showcasing cutting edge short horror films directed by women. Viscera has grown into a worldwide organization, and on December 21st, the last day of Earth according to the Mayan calendar, The Viscera Organization gave a taste of their newest project, The Etheria Film Festival, which showcases science fiction and fantasy shorts directed by women.
My favorite short, and just about everybody else’s as well, was Slashed, a science fiction themed comedy directed by Rebecca Thomson. Slashed deals with one of the most telling aspects of geek culture, slash fiction, but it is also a film about how the internet connects us all together. This hilarious little short had people rolling in the aisles.
Kaboomtown, directed by Jakqui Schuler, is an emotional and meditative film about aliens who put explosives in the hearts of every single person on earth. Every day, the people of earth must all fill out applications for another day of life. But the application takes six hours to fill out, which is half a waking day. Kaboomtown is a film about what it means to be alive in a world that takes everything from you.
Imminent Danger, directed by Alana McNair, is a totally weird romp about a woman whose job it is to watch the threat level buttons, who accidentally presses a button that raises the threat level to Imminent Danger, which is bad because Earth’s preparation will lead to the destruction of earth, and nobody will get to see her on the cover of some career magazine. Imminent Danger is lots of fun, and strange in the best possible way.
The Etheria film festival is taking submissions now through May 30th, 2013. The Viscera organization provides more support for filmmakers than any other festival I know of, and gives filmmakers the opportunity to have their work screened in Hollywood and all over the world. If you are a woman and have directed a science fiction or fantasy short, or you know a woman who has, go to www.etheriafilmfestival.comand submit today. Submissions are free.
I saw THE COLLECTION during Screamfest and it is a fun, exciting and scary film that it a worthy successor to the SAW franchise. You can meet some of the cast and crew this weekend during the Long Beach Comic & Horror Convention. Then go see it when it comes out on November 30th.
LD Entertainment presents an exclusive panel presentation from THE COLLECTION at Long Beach Comic & Horror Con. Join writer-director Marcus Dunstan (THE COLLECTOR, SAW IV, V, VI, VII, GOD OF WAR), writer Patrick Melton (THE COLLECTOR, SAW IV, V, VI, VII, GOD OF WAR), star Josh Stewart (THE COLLECTOR, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), and star Emma Fitzpatrick (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) on Saturday, November 3rd at 3:00PM in Room 104A.
WHAT | Long Beach Comic & Horror Convention Panel Presentation from THE COLLECTION
WHO | Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, Josh Stewart & Emma Fitzpatrick
WHEN | Saturday, November 3rd at 3:00PM
WHERE | Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd; Room 104A
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here
Screamfest rocks it once again! The list of winners below and the great sense of community that develops during the festival underscores why it continues to be my favorite. If you have never been, you must go next year.”
Los Angeles, CA., October 22, 2012 – The 12th Annual Screamfest® Horror Film Festival ended its ten-day run with the winners of the famed “Skully” Award announced at the closing night party held at Trader Vic’s in the Downtown LA Live complex. The 10-pound prize, created in 2004 by Academy Award® -winning Special Effects wizard Stan Winston went to American Mary for Best Picture and twin sister team Jen & Sylvia Soska taking the Best Director honors.
All Skully-winning films will be shown Sunday at the LA Live Regal theater.
Below is a complete list of winners:
2012 Screamfest Film Awards
BEST PICTURE: American Mary
BEST DIRECTOR: Jen & Sylvia Soska - American Mary
BEST ACTRESS: Katharine Isabelle - American Mary
BEST ACTOR: Pierre-Francois Legendre - Fear of Water
BEST HORROR – COMEDY: Killer Kart
BEST MUSICAL SCORE: Jamie Blanks - Crawlspace
BEST STUDENT SHORT: Eaglewalk
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Post Human
BEST SHORT: Incident on Highway 73
BEST MAKEUP: MastersFX – American Mary
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Brian Pearson– American Mary
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: Justin Dix - Crawlspace
BEST SCREENPLAY: The Gaslamp Horror/ Jeremy D. Christensen
BEST EDITING: Marc Steinicke - On Air
Screamfest®, the preeminent horror festival in the country, and what the LA Weekly calls “the best place to get a jump on tomorrow’s cult hits” presents the festival in Los Angeles every October. Screamfest is sponsored by FearNet, Screenplay.com, Moviola, Baseline, IndieDCP.