- January Film Events
December 31, 2015
- Killer Mermaid DVD signing at Meltdown Comics
September 16, 2014
- Etheria Film Night 2014 Announces Official Selections & Inspiration Award Recipient Lexi Alexander
June 27, 2014
- Interviews with the cast and crew of FRACTURED
April 25, 2014
January’s listing of science fiction, horror and fantasy films and film events. Be sure to check back often as this list will be updated as more films and events are announced.
Indiana Jones Trilogy
BATMAN / MUNSTER, GO HOME!
Regency South Coast Village
Regency Buenaventura 6
Discussion following with cast and crew.
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH / THE HUNGER
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
Arclight Santa Monica
AMERICAN PSYCHO / MEMENTO
THE FINAL GIRLS
Midnight Screening. Co-writer Joshua John Miller and special guests in person
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Arclight Santa Monica
30th Anniversary Midnight Screening
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
THINGS TO COME / INVADERS FROM MARS
Introduction by James Curtis, who will sign his book, William Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Films to Come, in the lobby at 6:30 PM
IRON GIANT: SIGNATURE EDITION
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW plays every Saturday at midnight at the Nuart and Art Theatres
Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention
Billy Dee Williams, Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and others will appear
Book Signing - BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE ULTIMATE VISUAL HISTORY
January 29th - 31st
Ontario Convention Center
3rd Annual DAY OF THE SCREAM QUEENS
Actresses Kristina Klebe and Natalie Burn will be signing copies of KILLER MERMAID, on Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood.
The film is currently available on VOD and DVD.
Premieres include Rose McGowan’s retro thriller “Dawn,” Danis Goulet’s Cree Indian science fiction “Wakening,” and AFI DWW graduate Sarah Doyle’s string theory comedy “You and Me & Her.”
Etheria Film Night is proud to announce the official lineup of short films for the July 12, 2014 event at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California! The North American Premiere of writer/director Axelle Carolyn’s feature film Soulmate will be followed by these short film selections:
“Wakening” - *LA Premiere* directed by Danis Goulet
(2013, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Canada, 9 mins)
In the near future, the environment has been destroyed and society suffocates under a brutal military occupation. A lone Cree wanderer Wesakechak searches an urban war zone to find the ancient and dangerous Weetigo to help fight against the occupiers.
“Job Interview” - *LA Premiere* directed by Julia Walter
(2013, Thriller, Germany, 10 mins)
When Lisa applies for a job everything seems to be turning out pretty well… Until the boss Marie starts asking strange questions and the job interview turns out to be a little different than expected…
“You Me & Her” - *World Premiere* directed by Sarah Doyle
(2014, Science Fiction, USA, 20 mins)
When 30 versions of one person pass through the wormhole at the Department of Parallel Resettlement, Anna discovers she is the worst possible version of herself.
“Dia de los Muertos” - *LA Premiere* directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero
(2014, Horror, Mexico/Canada, 12 mins)
On the night of ‘Dia De Los Muertos,’ the women of the La Candelaria strip club seek revenge on those who have abused them.
“Dawn” - *LA Premiere* directed by Rose McGowan
(2013, Thriller, USA, 18 mins)
Dawn is a quiet young teen that longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. One day she meets Charlie, a high school dropout, who offers her a glimpse into a world she dreams to be a part of.
“Hide & Seek” - directed by Kayoko Asakura
(2013, Horror, Japan, 11 mins)
A school girl visits a house to take a KOTO lesson. She meets her teacher and her son and they seem to be playing “HIDE and SEEK” in the house. Koto lesson starts but the girl soon realizes that there’s something very odd about the teacher.
“The Jelly Wrestler” - *LA Premiere* directed by Rebecca Thomson
(2013, Action/Comedy, Australia, 14 mins)
With one last shot at jelly glory, washed up wrestler and barmaid Eileen must grapple with aging, betrayal and her own jelly wrestling demons - a task that may well put her down for the count.
The Soulmate North American premiere will be followed by a Q&A with director Axelle Carolyn conducted by Rebekah McKendry (Fangoria Magazine). The short film screenings will be followed by a Q&A conducted by Brea Grant (“Heroes,” Best Friends Forever) with directors Rebecca Thomson (“The Jelly Wrestler”), Sarah Doyle (“You Me & Her”), Gigi Saul Guerrero (“Dia de los Muertos”) and Rose McGowan (“Dawn”). Director Lexi Alexander (Punisher: Warzone, Green Street Hooligans) will receive the 2014 Etheria Inspiration Award for her action and science fiction film work. The evening will include a cocktail reception and red carpet event sponsored by Monstrosity Films, Walker/Fitzgibbon, Birns & Sawyer, and co-presented by Ms. in the Biz.
Tickets for the feature and the shorts lineup are $11 each and are available at these links:
The event schedule is available here: http://www.etheriafilmnight.com/event/
Etheria Film Night 2014 is co-presented by the American Cinematheque and will take place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on July 12th, 2014. The event is sponsored by Monstrosity Films, Fangoria Magazine, RapidHeart Pictures, Vtape, Supernova Books, All Things Horror, MovieMaker Magazine, American Cinematheque, Birns & Sawyer, Killer POV, Ms. in the Biz, Digital Bolex, Beers N Fears, Walker/Fitzgibbon, and Alternative Cinema.
2014 judges include Larry Fessenden (Glass Eye Pix), Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan), Rachel Talalay (“Dr. Who”, Tank Girl), Chad Clinton Freeman (Pollygrind Film Festival), Patty West (AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women), Amber Benson (Drones), Brea Grant (Best Friends Forever), Elle Schneider (Digital Bolex), Alexandra West (Luminato Film Festival), Kier-La Janisse (Fantastic Fest), Briony Kidd (Stranger with my Face Film Festival), Elizabeth Stanley (“Trailers from Hell”), John Skipp (Book of the Dead), Mitch Davis (FanTasia Film Festival), Jennifer Lynch (Chained), Lexi Alexander (Punisher: Warzone), Brian Quinn (Grindhouse Film Festival), Peter Block (A Bigger Boat), Sean Marks (NYCHFF), Chris Rowan (NYCHFF), Marina de Van (Dans ma peau), Jeffrey Riddick (Final Destination series), David Decoteau (RapidHeart Pictures), Gabrielle Kelly (NYU Tisch School of the Arts), Sean Hood (Conan), and Brian Jones (Beers N Fears).
Etheria Film Night is honored to be sponsoring an on-site charity drive at their July 12th event for Reel Grrls (www.reelgrrls.org)! Reel Grrls empowers young women to realize their power, talent, and influence through media production. Reel Grrls is the premier year-round media-training program for girls.Reel Grrls is a 501c(3) non-profit organization. On July 12th, at our Etheria Film Night event, we will be requesting donations of gaffers tape and SD cards (new or used) as well as monetary donations to the organization. Any other production items will be accepted as well. These girls are awesome and deserve our support! Find out more on our site: http://www.etheriafilmnight.com/reel-grrls-charity/
Visions of scantily clad, blood soaked women screaming in pain, as if in a scene out of Dante, haunts Dylan’s nightmares. Or are they nightmares or memories? Dylan’s search for answers drives Adam Gierasch’s new film, FRACTURED, a stylish blend of film noir and horror anchored by strong performances from Callum Blue, Ashlynn Yennie, Nicole LaLiberte, and Vinnie Jones.
I recently had a chance sit with Adam and some members of his cast and crew to talk about the film which is currently available on VOD, ITunes and Amazon.
Adam Gierasch (Director/Producer/Co-writer/)
How did the film come about?
Me and Jace (Co-writer/Co-producer) were on the way to the airport to go see her parents and I was nervous. I didn’t want to go and did everything in my power to convince her not to get on that airplane. When we got back to the car, I said to myself, “How could I do that to my wife? Am I dammed for not letting her get on that plane?” From there I thought, what happens when you do something really bad and are stuck between the real world and hell both literally and figuratively.
Speaking of being stuck between two worlds, the film plays like a fusion of noir and horror. Did that come about organically?
Yes, I read James Elroy like there’s no tomorrow. I love OUT OF THE PAST, DOUBLE INDEMINITY and DOA which is actually the closest story wise to this film. We said that we wanted to do a hard boil noir and yet put horror in it. It’s not really a horror movie, it doesn’t play like that. Everything else I done is where someone goes to a house, hospital or mansion and bad things start to happen whether it’s ghosts, demons or evil slasher people. For this one, I said that I was going to do the classic structure of a detective movie and really do it old school.
That leads into how we shot it using super 35 like they would have back in the day. Was it the smartest thing to do? Not particularly, it made it a lot harder but I’m happy with the results. If we had shot on the Alexa or the Red, we could have used half the lights and had gotten a similar look. The cool thing about shooting in the format, that we did, is that it had to be widescreen. Because you are only using half the 35mm screen, it is automatically widescreen. It eliminates all the fights that you normally have with the producer when you want to shoot widescreen.
What challenges did you face during production?
Lack of money, lack of time, weather that went from hot to absolutely blistering cold. Plus we shot nights all the time. Heaven forbid I shoot something that takes place in the daytime. It was very uncomfortable. That scene that takes place in the “blood room” was so cold. I felt so bad for those girls that I was running over between takes with a portable heater. They were freezing.
Tell me about your cast?
We have Callum Blue, Ashlynn Yennie, Nicole LaLiberte, who was amazing. She was in a really cool movie called GIRLS AGAINST BOYS and if you haven’t seen it, you should immediately. Then there’s Vinnie Jones, if you want someone to play a dangerous bad guy, he’s pretty unparalleled.
I’m writing a movie for CBS Films that’s called SPLIT that’s obviously a much bigger budget type of thing. See we’re generally writers by trade, me and my wife. It’s a total mind-fuck of …cool. I can’t tell you what genre it is. It’s strange and wonderful. It’s less horror than SCHISM.
Since you brought it up, why the name change to FRACTURED?
I gather that it’s a hard word to translate overseas. I got to keep the finished film the way I wanted it. I didn’t have to cut anything so I was like if you want to change the title, go for it. The funny part is that the original title was SEASONS IN THE ABYSS which everyone said was “the worst title ever.” I’m like – no, it’s cool, it’s like THE ICEMAN COMETH. It’s deep and stuff. So FRACTURED. It all boils down to the lowest common denominator.
Jerami Cruise (Special Effects)
What where the challenges that you faced in the film?
The challenges were that it was kind of a last minute thing when he called me up. We didn’t have a lot of time in preproduction. In most movies, you don’t really have enough time to build these things. So I went down there and I built everything in the hotel room because we really didn’t have any shop time and I actually built a lot of the effects on dummy heads not really my actors. Nine times out of 10 times, you build some with the actor so that it fits them perfectly. I didn’t really have that luxury on this show. I built everything and then tweaked it on set to fit people. That was the biggest challenge.
What effect were you most proud of?”
Definitely the scalping effect. It was always an effect that I wanted to do being a fan of the original MANIAC. They did a scalping effect, Tom Savini was the make-up artist who did all the effects for that film and I loved his effects. When Adam said to me that there was a scalping in the film, I wanted to trump that movie, I wanted to do it 10 times better.. as gory as I could make it and from what I saw it came out fantastic. Every drop of blood come out in the scene. It was very awesome.
So it’s an effect that not for the weak of heart/
Definitely not or the weak of heart. I design all my effects to be ultra-realistic, to be as real as I can get it not what I like to call “Hollywood” effects where the knife goes up in the air, the blood goes against the wall, there’s all kinds of camera cuts in there. I try to design my effects with no camera cuts because if there’s a camera cut, the audience knows it. If there are no camera cuts, it puts the audience in that situation to be like “wow, how did they do that” It even makes them feel the pain that the actor is going through. It takes them out of the realism if there are camera cuts in there.
Where do you fall in the practical effects versus CGI debate?
I’m a practical guy. I do all my stuff on set. As a make-up artist that’s what I like. As a fan of movies, that’s what I like. I definitely think that the marriage of the two, CGI and make-up effects will help sell an effect if it needs it. A lot of people just throw CGI in because they can. It’s never the way to go. It’s what’s best for the project that is the marriage of the two. I think that’s the way to go.
What do you have coming up/
I have two projects coming up. One is called PITTSBURGH BATTERY REMOVAL which deals with man’s mortality and how we deal with death on a day to day basis and a documentary called LATEX AUTOPSY deals with my past works for the last 10 years.
And where are they in the process?
PITTSBURGH BATTERY REMOVAL, we’re trying to raise money right now and attach some pretty cool actors to it and LATEX AUTOPSY is in production, it’s being edited and hopefully should be out by August.
Adam Barber (Score Composer)
How did you get involved with the film?
Through a friendship with Kate, one of the producers. I read the script, really liked the story and said that I would like to pitch myself. Adam called me and we have a two hour conversation and then two weeks later he said I was the man.
One of the concerns Adam had was could I write Jazz? Jazz` is a big part of my musical influences. In the first meeting, Adam asked me what I saw musically for Dylan. I said a tenor sax, something emotional that still had that noir feel that people think about when they think noir. A small ensemble, nothing big except for the horror moments, the really splashy dark stuff and the transitions. I think that is what sold him on me.
How much music did you write for the film?
I wrote about 2 hours of music. First I wrote out the themes for Dylan. That was my first exercise. I wrote 3 60 bar variations on a theme. Once those where set in stone, I worked on the score. I found that if I wasn’t doing melodies or themes, I saw myself creating musical sound design structures …drones and eerie sounds that accented or supported the scene in a musical way. On the dub stage, I was fine with them using it or not using it, but I basically blanketed the movie with sound.
Who were your musical influences?
One big one is Christopher Young because I worked with him on SPIDERMAN 3, DRAG ME TO HELL and GHOST RIDER. He loves themes. I’ve taking a lot from him …phrasing and themes. He’s been a big influence.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on Anthony DiBlasi’s PAYMON. I just did the score for that and they asked me to come aboard for their next film, EXHUME, which looks really good.
Ashlynn Yennie (Brandy)
How did you get involved with the film?
Adam saw I film that I did called “HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2.” So I came in to audition, did a chemistry read and that was it and I was on my way to New Orleans.
Tell me about your character?
The story is about this guy, Dylan. He’s having these nightmarish visions and soon discovers that they are not nightmares but things coming out of his past to haunt him, to make him go right his wrongs. He had amnesia and stole someone else’s identity. He has this life as Dylan but then he has this other life that he couldn’t remember until he goes back down to New Orleans, where he finds all these people that knew him and he discovers that he was part of a really bad business. He wants to right his wrongs and it is the story of his redemption. I play his girlfriend Brandy and I only know him as Dylan. I’m the lighter part of the film. Nothing that I am in has horror aspects. It’s all pretty sets and boyfriend and girlfriend relationship stuff.
So a change of pace from HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2?
I was really excited about being in this movie. Even though it stayed in the same genre, it was a role that showed me in a different light.
Even though you weren’t involved in the horror aspects of the film, is there anything about it that really scared you?
There was one scene, it’s such a cheap trick, where Dylan’s walking across the street and a bus comes by really fast like in FINAL DESTINATION. That shocked me the most in the movie because I wasn’t expecting it even though I read the whole script. That scared me to death.
What’s coming up next for you?
I have another film called THE SCRIBBLER that coming out later this year that’s based on a graphic novel. The story is about Suki, played by Katie Cassidy, who has multiple personality disorder. She’s sent by her doctors to this halfway house. Her doctor puts her on this burn therapy which burns away the personalities. But is it going to burn all her personalities and keep the right one? I play a character called Emily who suffers from vestiphobia which is the fear of being trapped in clothing and she has a mental breakdown. It will be out in the fall. Then I have a romantic comedy called DIVORCE PARTY that is playing at the Newport Beach Film Festival and a crime drama called GHOST AND THE WHALE. So I have a lot of stuff coming out.
Nicole LaLiberte (Marlena)
How did you get involved with the film?
I got sent the script in the normal fashion and it seemed interesting. I met with Adam and the casting director. I originally auditioned for the role of Brandy. The film kind of disappeared for a while but then they called me back and wanted me to audition for Brandy again. I said “No” that I wanted to play Marlena and they said that was fine. I had a nice audition and that’s how I came aboard.
Tell me about Marlena?
She’s a wreck … a stripper, a party girl. It’s all about pleasure for her. She’s all that but there is also a sweetness to her. I don’t want to say she’s a hooker with a heart of gold but there is a bit of that quality to her. I guess she’s a well-intentioned, dark floozy.
Is there anything about the film that particularly scared you?
I feel that there are some parts about the movie that I don’t remember because they scared me. I don’t generally watch horror films because they scare me. There’s some editing stuff that’s shocking like a hand coming out of a refrigerator that scared me.
How did you enjoy making the film?
Working with Adam was great. He is super supportive and loves actors. He loves writing, loves the whole world of it (filmmaking) and his love infuses the whole set no matter the time of day. I lot of the stuff I shot was at night and was exhausting but for the most part it was fun. I got to spend time in New Orleans. I got to experience beignets which are something everyone needs to do once in their lives.
Click on the link below to rent FRACTURED from Amazon. It is also available for rent on ITunes or on VOD through your cable or satellite provider. You’ll be glad that you did.
Or purchase the DVD which will be out on June 10th, 2014
The 2014 Etheria Film Night is pleased to host the North American Premiere of writer/director Axelle Carolyn’s feature film Soulmate at the Egyptian Theatre on July 12th, 2014. Etheria Film Night is dedicated to showcasing the best new genre films directed by women and screens only one feature-length film each year. In 2014 that film is Axelle Carolyn’s supernatural thriller Soulmate. The premiere will be followed by a red carpet cocktail reception and the official Etheria Film Night short film competition lineup. (To be announced in May 2014.)
Recently widowed Audrey moves to the countryside in a bid to get her life back on track. When she realizes the cottage she’s renting is haunted, she decides to stay and strikes up an odd relationship with the ghost…
Audrey (played by Anna Walton, who also appeared in Carolyn’s short film The Halloween Kid) is a suicidal woman mourning the recent death of her husband. Isolating herself in an old country cottage away from friends and family, she soon develops a relationship with the ghost (Tom Wisdom) haunting the property. What follows is an atypical genre film in which love is not the ultimate cure-all.
“I’ve always been obsessed with that idea of finding comfort in the supernatural,” Axelle Carolyn explains, “because if there are ghosts, there’s an afterlife, and the people you’ve lost are not gone forever. So the story was born from that idea – something anybody who’s ever lost someone can relate to. The locations, the atmosphere are very much inspired by those Gothic classics, but at the heart of it is a very human story, very real and contemporary.”
“Soulmate treads a fragile line between drama, horror, and Gothic romance,” says Etheria Film Night programmer and co-founder Heidi Honeycutt, “It is reminiscent of traditional classic Gothic thrillers in the vein of Jane Eyre, The Innocents, and Gaslight. Carolyn’s first short film The Last Post has a similar theme in which the afterlife intrudes into the natural realm.”
Soulmate is written and directed by Axelle Carolyn, produced by Claire Otway, and features Anna Walton (Audrey), Tom Wisdom (Douglas), Tanya Myers (Theresa) and Nick Brimble (Dr Zellaby).
For updates, visit http://www.etheriafilmnight.com/
This Sunday, February 23rd at 7:00pm EST (4:00pm on the West Coast) you can participate in a a screening of the new action adventure, THE LEGEND OF THE RED REAPER via a special live HD streaming event.
Besides the film, there will also be a Q&A with Creator & Star Tara Cardinal, Legendary Comic Book Artist George Perez, Singer/ Songwriter Shane Leighton and More!!!
The virtual ticket is only $8 per household, so invite your friends and make it a real event. You can purchase your tickets via the following Paypal link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FSCQHED8FP39N. Be sure to provide an email address so that they can send you the link.
Come see the beginnings of a new action hero franchise.
Read SWORD SISTERS, the prequel to LEGEND OF THE RED REAPER
This sounds like a great night of films for fans of the weird and unusual. Be sure to check it out!
Frolic Pictures is pleased to announce that MouthKiss Video and Beyond Filth Productions have teamed together to bring you the highly anticipated 1st Annual Frolic Screening Series. A night of grindhouse, horror, erotica, exploitation, modern cult cinema and go-go girls from beyond infinity!
7 hours of underground films, starting with a compilation of rare vintage trailers at 6pm, then the neo-grindhouse two-strip Technicolor romp, Climb It, Tarzan! (one of the only films featuring an all-female cast) followed by the obscure fantasy short film, All Who Wander. Then, at 8pm, the film you’re afraid to see, but shouldn’t be, the modern cult phenomena in stark black and white, 8 Reels of Sewage. The grind then continues with the critically acclaimed horror film, Slink, at 9:30pm, immediately followed by supporting actress Marylyn Brooks’ groundbreaking band, Bizarra, at 10:50pm. Then, at 11:10pm; the new slasher-comedy that’s yet to be released; Teachers’ Day – the 73 minutes of ring-pop terror you’ve waited several years for. Then, after midnight, the Hollywood A GoGo after party, which is worth the price of admission alone, the one-hour, non-stop, go-go girl bonanza, a new film about a wayout craze. And lastly, a nightcap with hip-hop artist Sean Gibson, sending us home, aroused, with his closing number.
This not-to-be-missed event will be hosted by the one and only Kam Kim Show. Interview on the show and receive IMDb credit! Also, Frolic DVDs and merchandise will be for sale, as well as a free raffle for extraordinary prizes.
This exhilarating B-movie marathon will take place on March 5th, 2014, at the renowned CIA - The California Institute of Abnormal Arts (home of the mummified French clown), 11334 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601, from 6pm-2am. All for the mere price of a $10/ticket (to be purchased at the door, cash only, while supplies last - so come early, and see all 5 features!)
Meet the cast and crew and be sure to stay for the joyous shock of the ultimate go-go dance party after midnight! Witness the craze, and all these cinematic rarities, and recall them later in life! A night of motion-picture oddities and filmic wonders!
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: