Movie Review : [REC] 4 – Apocalypse

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Available on DVD and On Demand today is the latest installment in the ground-breaking [REC] franchise.
The first two Spanish films have definitely earned their reputations as some of the most genuinely frightening films of the past decade, and shining examples of “found footage” perfection. While the third in the series took a wild turn in a new direction (that I actually really enjoyed, although sometimes I think I am the only one), the news that the director of the original, Jaume Balaguero, would return to helm the fourth installment gave great hope to fans of the quick and dirty terror of the first two films.
However, [REC] 4 has more in common with the often unfairly-derided third film than it does the first two.
The real great news here is the return of Manuela Velasco as the journalist Angela, and the progression of her ferocious character through all of this madness. I mean, the last time we saw Angela, this was happening to her :

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When we catch up with the developing story, everyone has been coralled onto an ocean liner staffed with scientists and military, all seeking to either escape or destroy this virus. They neatly tie the third film in by including an elderly woman who was a guest at the disastrous wedding from that installment, and quickly establish that these are the most desperate times. By ditching the hand held style that defined the first two films, we get a much more cinematic experience, and the claustrophobia of the doomed boat is eerily similar to the confined hallways of the apartment building. Integrating the found footage of the originals in a neat twist, the scientists on board the ship piece together what previously happened and try desperately to find a way to cure this plague, which leads to a lot of confusion and yelling. Then an unexpected storm causes a blackout, which leads to a new outbreak and BAM!
A fucking zombie monkey attack!

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Yup, you guessed it, the monkey was carrying the virus all along, and someone let it out and now it infected all of the food and we get a horrifying series of action set pieces climaxing with Angela stumbling around in the dark belly of the ocean liner rather than the dark attic of the tenement. The film takes a brief turn into John Carpenter territory when they discover that the parasite that was living within Angela has been transferred elsewhere, and the scene is a great homage to The Thing.
Otherwise, it is pretty typical run for your life stuff, although there is something particularly unnerving about the way these infected move, super-fast and utterly reckless. It is especially frightful as they barrell down the slim underwater corridors of the doomed ship, grunting and dripping with goo.
The whole affair is very well-crafted and tense, punctuated with intense bursts of violence. The infected are suitably disgusting and drippy, and it is great suspenseful fun while it lasts. I enjoyed it very much as the “action-packed thrill-ride” the poster promises, but any fans of the originals who were looking for a return to the genuine scares and creep factor of the first films will most likely be left wanting. This fourth film is apparently meant to be the last in the series, and ends on a suitably bleak but slightly cheesy note.
Overall [REC] 4 is a must see for fans of the series, and a well-executed addition to the tired “zombie/infected” films of the past decade, but really doesn’t bring much new to the table.
I still recommend it, the zombie monkey is priceless!



Movie review : Coyote (2013)

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“Conformity is the key.
Put on the mask of a simple man and no one ever knows the difference.
Everyone is so concerned with how you see them that they never bother to see you.”

~ Coyote

Coyote is that creepy weird piece of lonesome nastiness that you never knew you were looking for in a film.
The independent production made big waves on the festival circuit last year, and it will finally be available on DVD this month, on December 16th.
I first heard it described as “a nightmarish psychological horror that blends Taxi Driver with Videodrome“, which is as accurate a description as any. However, first time writer/director Trevor Juenger and independent horror icon Bill Oberst Jr. have created a main character so desperately lonely that he makes Travis Bickle look like an upstanding socialite.

A non-linear assault on the senses, it seems that the whole purpose is to keep the audience on edge and break taboos, which they succeed in greatly. Essentially a window into the mind of a man slowly losing his sanity, the confusion and horror is expertly conveyed with grotesque imagery, bizarre double takes, and inventive use of sound effects.

As a film about loneliness and desperation should be, the story is very sparsely populated, and the focus is directly on Bill as he slowly descends into a surreal madness. Bill Oberst Jr. is no stranger to playing dark roles like this (If you haven’t seen Circus of the Dead yet, do so right away!), and he proves himself to be a treasured gift to the horror genre with another fearless performance.

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Right off the bat it is established that our protagonist is a strange sort, as he struggles over how to convey his happiness in a letter to his mother. In reality, he works a dreary job in a moving van, surrounded by darkness and negativity. The character seems to feed on this energy in a way, letting the evil around him slowly grow his own hidden darkness. He is also a struggling writer, who is plagued by vicious nightmares of being murdered in bed, leading him to believe in the mantra, “If I sleep, I will die.

As time passes in a hazy surreal way, Bill realizes he is changing, but also seems powerless (or unwilling) to stop the change. He knows that his current form is only the pupal stage, that he began as a worm, and that he is evolving “for no reason at all“. The story is simple and fragmented, weaving in and out of dreams and visions, switching between bursts of violence to serene scenes of beauty. This is exactly what I look for in horror films, the simple chance to get lost in someone else’s madness for a while, and forget about my own for the running time.

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Coyote is that rare intense film that you wont soon forget, a visually inventive and unflinching nightmare of madness and depravity. According to Bill Oberst Jr., Coyote is the same strange vision on film that it was on paper. It is available on DVD today December 16th 2014 from Wild Eye Releasing.
Recommended.




The Gathering casts Simon Pegg as the Devil! But wait, there’s more!

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What do you do when you are casting the parts of horror luminaries from the past for a new horror film?
Hire a bunch of the influential horror icons from the present day, of course.

Director/producer Jon Keeyes is currently assembling a dream cast for his upcoming horror anthology flick The Gathering.
His description of the film is enough to get my ass in the seat :

On Halloween night, the devil brings together Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe in purgatory to tell their best untold tales, the idea being that whoever has the best story of the night gets to leave purgatory forever. That’s the framing device around all the anthology stories within the film.

Sounds promising enough, but then we heard the recent announcement from Fangoria that the one and only Simon Pegg has been cast in the part of The Devil.

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And then we learned that Jeffrey Combs will reprise his uncanny role of Edgar Allan Poe

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And Doug Bradley will be playing Bram Stoker…

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And David Naughton will be H.P. Lovecraft…

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And also Robert Englund, Bill Moseley, William Sadler, Ashley Laurence, Gunnar Hansen, Clint Howard, Udo Kier, and the list of horror icons goes on and on…

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With a cast and concept like this, this film is irresistible for fans of horror.
According to the director, “We’ve tried to put a spin on the essence of the stories they’re most well-known for. So Bram Stoker tells a vampire tale, but it’s not about Dracula. H.P. Lovecraft’s story is sort of RE-ANIMATOR-esque, set in the Victorian era. We’ve approached it with the idea of what these writers would be like all these years since they died. They’ve got a slightly modern sensibility, as if they’ve kept up with the changing times while they’ve been in purgatory, while still holding onto the personalities and nuances they would have had in the eras they lived in. So there’s a whole lot of bickering and rivalry.”

“One of the things I love about THE GATHERING,” he continues, “is that we cover all the horror subgenres—vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, slashers—within our stories, but in the framing segments with the devil and the writers, there’s a real comedic-horror element going on. They’re taking jabs at each other, and they each have a bit of magic they get to play with since they’re undead, so a lot of fun stuff happens with that.”

The director has set his sights on a May 2015 start date for the film, so stay tuned here for more news and updates about this project as it gets going.
This is one to get excited about, horror fans!

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Amazing horror tattoos by Paul Acker!

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Paul Acker is the owner of Deep Six Tattoo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has been administering some of the most gloriously horrific ink to bodies since the dawn of this millennium. His specialty is horror color realism, and he has created some of the most amazing designs I have ever seen.
Below is a gallery of some of his mind-blowing recent work. If you are interested in getting tattooed by Mr. Acker, please fill out the contact form here. The artist notes that while he employs several other artists, he no longer tattoos “regular” black and grey portraits, but instead has all of his focus on horror-related portraits.
Be sure and connect with Paul Acker on Facebook and instagram for consistent updates on new pieces and works in progress.

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Watch now : Joshua Hoffine’s short film “Black Lullaby”!

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Kansas-based Joshua Hoffine is a horror photographer that has been haunting the scenery with some creepy imagery for quite some time now. His images are well-known and instantly recognizable, many of them featuring his own daughter Chloe put in a variety of precarious situations. After raising the funding for an original short film based on his photos last year, we are finally getting the chance to see it!
The film is called Black Lullaby, and it is the logical next step for the creative photographer. Check out the artist’s introduction to the film below :

In a recent interview with Scream UK magazine, Hoffine says, “For me, horror is an endless source of inspiration. It’s multifaceted, with countless concerns and subgenres. Horror is existential. It’s psychological. It’s visual spectacle, and it transcends cultural boundaries. Understanding how horror functions informs my work and my aesthetic is largely defined by an adherence to archetypal imagery. I look for stories or ideas that everyone can relate to. If I need a prop, like a telephone for instance, I ask myself what type of telephone would a six year old draw or dream about? This is why my photographs often seem cartoony. My photographs, like Black Lullaby, are unbounded by any particular time or place. They have a dreamy kind of hyper-realism, like a memory.”

The Last Stand, by Joshua Hoffine

During the successful Kickstarter campaign, Hoffine said, “I’ve been living with this film for years, dreaming of the day when I would finally see it finished.  My photographs are effective, but contained.  This film pounces on the viewer.  It’s an artistic turning point for me.  And a new beginning.”

You can find Black Lullaby for rent or sale here, and enjoy the gallery of photographs below that inspired the short film!
Also be sure and stay connected with Joshua Hoffine on Facebook and his official website to keep up with new and upcoming projects.


 

After Dark, My Sweet

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Help open the Portal To Hell!

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Roddy Piper vs. Cthulhu.
Yup.
For most of you reading this, those few words should be enough to convince you to stop on over to the current indiegogo campaign for Portal To Hell and contribute a few bucks to help some creative people get this film made.
If you still need convincing, read on…

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Jack (Roddy Piper) is a simple man with simple needs. Mostly he just needs to be left alone to read his book. It’s a good book and he likes it, or at least he would if the tenants of the building he manages weren’t so damn needy themselves. And it’s not just blown fuses and clogged toilets here … no, when the building power goes out the culprit is a pair of tenants opening a portal to hell in the basement. Does this count as building maintenance? Is battling the supernatural part of Jack’s job description? Maybe not, but if Jack can’t close the portal the entire building and – let’s face it – the whole world is screwed.

Director Vivieno Caldinelli and writer Matt Watts have already secured the talents of Mr. Piper, and need our help to get this thing made!
According to the official Portal To Hell Facebook page, the Great Old One, Cthulhu himself, had a secret soft spot for Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn in Overboard and convinced the great John Carpenter to return to Lovecraft mode to write him a part in it. We’d like to think the result would be very much like Portal To Hell!!!

They promise giant monsters, tentacles, and some tough-talking ass-kicking action unlike any we have ever seen.  Drawing obvious inspiration from Lovecraft and Carpenter and “all things VHS”, these film makers have a clear love for the genre and the passion to make one crazy film. They have enlisted the help of some great producers of crazy independent genre flicks like the ABCs of Death and Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil, and also have special effects guru Steve Kostanski (Manborg) onboard.

A project this huge in scope can get great mileage from every donation, and the film makers intend to make the most kick-ass version of Portal To Hell that they can, in the eventual hopes of turning it into a full-length feature film for the ages!
They are offering an extensive list of great perks for anyone who wants to get involved in making this insane fever dream into a reality. From T-shirts and signed copies of They Live, to set visits and actual movie tentacles, these perks are unique must-haves for any respectable weirdo.
If you are interested in supporting this film, contribute to the Portal To Hell indiegogo campaign here.
You can also stay up-to-date on news for Portal To Hell on Facebook.

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Artwork by Ghoulish Gary Pullin.





New Home Viewing Releases for December 2014!

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As the gift-giving frenzy of the upcoming Christmas season heats up, it seems that us horror fans are being mostly left behind this month. With just a few noteworthy DVD releases, and a handful of intriguing additions to Netflix Streaming, the month of December seems to be a barren wasteland for horror fans. So, for a little something special, I decided to add a short list of some favorites for the holiday season at the end! Please enjoy, and remember if you decide to purchase any of these recommendations through Amazon, please do so through the added links to help support your favorite horror site with no extra cost to you!


December 2ndAs Above, So Below
(DVD)

AsAboveSoBelowMiles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead. A journey into madness and terror, As Above, So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all.  


December 3rdOculus
(Netflix Streaming)

11180964_800Haunted by the violent demise of their parents 10 years earlier, adult siblings Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) are now struggling to rebuild their relationship. Kaylie suspects that their antique mirror, known as the Lasser Glass, is behind the tragedy. The seemingly harmless reflections contain a malevolent, supernatural force that infects the mind of anyone who gazes into it. As Kaylie gets closer to the truth, the siblings become caught in the mirror’s evil spell.


December 9thDead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead
(DVD)

DeadSnow2_TEASERPicking up immediately where the original left off, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead wastes no time getting right to the gore-filled action, leaving a bloody trail of intestines in its wake. Director Tommy Wirkola returns to the helm with a vengeance, coming up with more inventive ways to maim and dismember than you ever thought possible. Combining wry humor with horrific worst-case scenarios, this follow-up to the 2009 Midnight classic is sure to shock the weak-of-heart and delight even the most hard-core fans of the horror genre. Colonel Herzog is back, and he is not to be fucked with.


December 6thSharknado 2: The Second One
(Netflix Streaming)

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A freak weather system brings in ravenous sharks to munch on hapless New Yorkers and iconic landmarks.


December 6thAmerican Horror Story – Coven
(Netflix Streaming)

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Coven tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over 300 years have passed since the turbulent days of the Salem witch trials and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona (Jessica Lange), the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town determined to protect the Coven and hell bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.


December 13thDon’t Blink
(Netflix Streaming)

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Ten people arrive at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. With no gas for the return trip, the visitors are forced to stay and investigate the mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.


December 16thStonehearst Asylum
(DVD)

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Revolves around a Harvard Medical School graduate who takes a job at an insane asylum, unaware of the fact that it has been taken over by its occupants.


December 20thParanormal Activity: The Marked Ones
(Netflix Streaming)

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Teenagers Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) look forward to a carefree summer, but the murder of a neighbor leads to a terrifying encounter with the supernatural. After breaking into the neighbor’s apartment, Jesse and Hector find a collection of ritualistic art and other bizarre items. Jesse takes a journal of occult writings and soon after finds a strange mark on his arm. His subsequent erratic behavior leads Jesse’s friends and family to the realization that he is possessed.


December 30thTusk
(DVD)

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Is man truly a walrus at heart?
See my review here.


As promised I have added some of my personal picks from this time of the year to celebrate the holidays with.
What are your favorite horrific holiday films?


Black Christmas

Released December 20th 1974, this is the original slasher film that laid the blueprints for a big portion of the genre we all know and love, influencing John Carpenter among many others. This is a yearly watch for me, just as we cozy up for Christmas.

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40th Anniversary poster by Ghoulish Gary Pullin.

Silent Night Deadly Night

Released November 9th 1984, this one shook up quite a bit of controversy back then with it’s terrifying commercial campaign hitting screens all over the U.S. It got a nice limited theatrical release last year, which I managed to catch! Learn more about this film here.

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Based on a couple of creative short films that explored the sinister side of Santa Claus, this fine film from Finland has it all. Find my full write up about this modern classic here, and be sure and add this one to this list of heartwarming holiday films to watch each December.

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The Shining

Of course we have all seen The Shining a million times, but there is something new to be found and enjoyed upon every viewing, even if Stephen King hates it. One of the classic horror films of all time. Check out this rare trailer below. Can you imagine seeing this in a theater in 1979?

Gremlins

What list of classic holiday horrors would be complete without the masterpiece that is Gremlins? One of the first movies I remember truly scaring me as a child, this one will never get old to me. So much mischievous fun!
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The Borley Rectory returns with some great new incentives!

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Last year we learned the terrifying true story of the Borley Rectory, known as “the most haunted house in England”, when incredible artist Ashley Thorpe first set out to create a new animated documentary about the story. From the early 1900s, strange occurrences have plagued the people and haunted the grounds around what was initially the home of a series of Reverends and their families. Hauntings and strange sightings were reported there for decades, even investigated by an early ghost hunter, and the grounds on which the Borley Rectory once stood have created their own history as one of the most haunted places on earth. Please read last year’s post about The Borley Rectory for all of the details.

Since then, the team behind the Borley Rectory animated film has achieved many of their goals, beginning with a successful indiegogo campaign that secured funding for the ambitious passion project. I caught up with artist and director Ashley Thorpe to find out what is new with the project and when we can expect to see the finished film. He had some interesting things to tell us, and some new and exciting incentives for anyone that wants to help get this film made!

According to the director :
It’s a subject that seized my imagination as a child after stumbling across the legend in the Usbourne Book of Ghosts at the local Library as a kid. I think it was that moniker ‘The Most Haunted House in England’ that really struck a chord. This wasn’t just ‘a’ haunting, it was ‘THE’ haunting. And being a visualist first and foremost it was a story that was full of these wonderful gothic archetypal ghosts; the phantom Nun, the ghostly carriage and all of that wonderful material.
It was initially pitched as a very short modest local piece, kind of a found footage thing wherein the film was just going to be a collection of lost reels shot within the house during the Price occupancy. But when the Art council lost interest in that I took it away and made it something far more involved and personal. Obsessional actually. I realized that here was a complex genuine story – as much about the human need to believe in ghosts and duplicity as the supernatural – that had never really been told before, certainly on film.
Borley Rectory is essentially an animated documentary, inspired by the haunting that caught the worlds imagination during the late 1920’s. It’s going to be something quite old fashioned, black and white, very textural and stylised, with a house very much a projection of the personalities within it – and the ghosts manifestations of what may be missing from their lives. It’ll definitely be something a little different. I keep calling it an ‘ultrasound of a haunting’.

Since the initial success of the first crowd-funding campaign, several new formidable allies have joined up to help bring Mr. Thorpe’s vision to the screen. Including Reece Shearsmith, Jonathan Rigby, Nicholas Vince, Richard Strange and Sabrina Dickens among many others. They also have a great narration by Julian Sands already recorded and an original score by Steven Severin awaiting us once it is finished!

After the campaign ended last year we had a few initial delays; one due to clashing schedules – Reece was a man in demand and pretty much shot I think 3 TV series back to back so we had to wait for him to be available. But also my baby daughter was born in February so we stepped down a gear while I spent time with my family and focused on getting everything ready.

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The first shoots took place at the end of May in London and were very successful. We shot a lot of key scenes, so now while I work on the captured footage we’ve gone back on the fundraising trail to raise additional budget for the remaining shoots. It’s all going towards the facilities, equipment and costumes. Everything else we pretty much do in house. The facilities we used were fantastic but even at a great rate they’re a professional studio so cost proper money. The benefit however of using a dedicated green screen set-up is the sheer amount of time it saves me when I’m doing all the compositing; it’s clean and I don’t have to muck around too much on corrections. It’s all there, looks great and I can get on with the fun stuff.
Incredibly we made our first budget target in a week so we’ve put up a number of stretch goals the first of which being £6000. The more we raise the more time we’ll have in that studio. You’ll literally be buying us more time to sculpt this into something unique and wonderful.

The new rewards are outstanding, and should be able to entice anyone interested in helping this film move forward with some of these one-of-a-kind items.

– A limited edition illustration from artist Richard Wells.

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– Nicholas Vince, who will be portraying the Reverend Smith has offered a number of great rewards including signed Nightbreed and Hellraiser photos and two very rare Hellraiser Chatterer figures from his personal collection!

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– Director and artist Ashley Thorpe is also going to be breaking open the paintbox this time and offering a few paintings. One will be a painting of Nicholas Vince as The Chatterer Cenobite (or Kinski if the supporter prefers) which Nicholas will sign.

Artwork by Ashley Thorpe.

– Reece fans may want to look out for the prop perk wherein they can own the glasses his character wore as journalist V C Wall. They’re genuine 1920 era spectacles.

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– A hand made doll of the Phantom Nun by Debz Demented Dolls.

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– A phone call from the Warlock himself, Julian Sands!

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– A signed and numbered Clive Barker print ‘Death’s Womb’ from Century Guild that was donated to the campaign by Seraphim productions.

Deaths WombAccording to director Ashley Thorpe :
I’ve long been a huge fan of Clive Barker. His work and encouragement over the years not only gave me the belief in myself to even attempt to be a film maker / artist but almost certainly led to me to write for Fangoria. So this support means a great deal to me personally. I discovered actually this week via Mark at Seraphim that Clive has a number of my animations in his DVD collection which is insane quite frankly!

It’s very exciting. The horror community has really come out and supported us. We’ve had kind words from Neil Gaiman, Mick Garris and the fantastic Soska twins. There seems to be a whirlwind of excitement now about this project and I’m sat in the middle of it wondering if it’s all real. I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.

To learn more about how you can get your hands on one of these great perks, be sure and check out the indiegogo campaign for the Borley Rectory and show your support for this very creative and exciting project!

SOSKA Borley

 


Trailer for Iranian Vampire Western “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”!

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Described as the first ever Iranian Vampire Western, the brand new flick A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night hits theaters today, November 21st.
The official synopsis says it is A love story between two tortured souls In the Iranian Ghost town called BAD CITY… a place that reeks of death and loneliness where a lonesome vampire is preying on the towns most depraved denizens. The press materials go on to call this film A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
Let’s have a look at the trailer :

It definitely looks unique, and could possibly prove to be the vampire western we have all been waiting for.
In limited theatrical release today, check the listings for a town close to you, and follow A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night on Facebook for news of future digital and DVD releases.
What do you think of this trailer?

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Stephen King is back with Revival!

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As a lifelong “Constant Reader” of the books of Stephen King, I am happy to report that his newest novel Revival hits all of those notes we have come to expect as fans of his writing. And in the end he smashes those notes hard, and we readers definitely feel the impact. Taken only with the promise from King himself that the new book is a “straight-ahead horror novel”, I just burned through this one in a few sittings and don’t expect to forget about it any time soon.

All the classic themes of King’s fiction are here : faith, tragedy, disillusion, addiction, curiosity, obsession and death, and we get right to it in a great opening set in the Autumn of 1962 in (you guessed it) a small town in Maine. Our narrator is a six year old boy playing with a birthday batch of green army men when we first meet him, and right away a shadow falls over young Jamie Morton. This shadow, which King refers to as “the fifth business” -the joker that pops in and out of your life at odd intervals over the years – is a young minister named Charles Jacobs.

Jamie quickly develops an easy friendship with the new preacher and the two become linked throughout their lives, for the better and the worse. Jacobs proves to be a great inspiration for the children who visit his Parrish, and his wife and young son integrate themselves into everyday life of the small New England town. As he gets to know the new Reverend, Jamie learns that Jacobs has a love and special understanding of electricity, and begins a series of experiments that will continue for the rest of their now-intertwined lives. It starts off harmless enough, as Jacobs shows young Jamie an experimental photoelectric cell that he built to create the illusion of a plastic Jesus walking on water. This makes clear the Reverend’s secret side, one that possibly believes more in something else than he does in the light of the Lord.

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The Morton family is large, and we see the events of the story through the first person account of Jamie, but the rest of the family is important in many ways. His brother Connie is a huge part of the transformation of Reverend Jacobs, as he loses the ability to talk in a wicked skiing accident. After some time as a frustrated mute, Jamie convinces Con to let the trusted Reverend try one of his experiments on him, which is a great success. It is, of course, a slippery slope and the reverend begins to lose his way, believing that electricity is more powerful than God. Then one day, a tragic accident takes Jacobs wife and son from him in a graphic and horrible way, and the way of god is lost to him. He gives a sermon as honest as it is blasphemous, shaking the faith of everyone in the church that day, and then vanishes.

After what comes to be known as “The Terrible Sermon”, life keeps right on going for every one else, including Jamie. In the best King tradition, we follow along as Jamie grows up, has his first love, and follows his own path through life. Although Jacobs is gone, his influence is present all through Jamie’s passionately-written formative years as he has an electric first experience with sex, discovers his talent at picking the guitar, and falls in love with hard drugs.

It is later, when Jamie finds himself at his lowest point – homeless, jobless, and strung out – that his old fifth business shows up again. After leaving the hokum of religion behind, the reverend has now become a different type of con-man, a carnival barker with some impressive electrical experiments that wows the crowd night after night. Of course it is all smoke and mirrors to obscure his true experiments with what he refers to as the “secret electricity”, and it becomes obvious to Jamie that his old friend and mentor is continuing down a frightening path. However, it is a path that Jamie is now bound to, especially after Jacobs “cures” him of his heroin addiction and nurses him back to health.

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Years pass again, and now we see life from the perspective of middle-aged Jamie, who has worked successfully as a music producer for many years, without so much as a thought to the drug that almost ended him years before. Tragedy comes and goes, and it all feels much like real life, and then the wild card rears his head again. This time Jacobs again embraces his Preacher persona, with added cynicism, and he is found traveling the countryside giving out miracle cures to the bumpkins who show up to sing and dance and speak in tongues. Many of these cures are genuine, and Jamie learns the hard way of their side-effects but is powerless to stop his old friend from continuing his experiments.

It all gets darker from there, as Jamie, now an old man in the present day, does some detective work and learns that the after effects of his old friend’s cures range from mild annoyances to screaming fits of horror, suicide and murder. Jamie proves to be a fascinating character, especially in these later chapters after we have grown old with him. He knows the difference between right and wrong, but he also knows that there is something else, a grey area that his old mentor has discovered – and he is spellbound with curiosity as well as loyalty.

At just over four hundred pages, Revival is relatively short for a King novel, and the conclusion comes at the reader with frightening speed. We as readers are meant to feel just as trapped as Jamie during the final moments, forced to stare into the abyss at last. It is no coincidence that King dedicates Revival to classic horror pioneers H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Arthur Machen. Although in recent interviews with the author, he claims to have chosen to believe in God, the bleak climax of the novel tells a frightening version of  truth and pulls no punches, giving us a nightmarish vision of an afterlife so horrible it brings about more questions than answers.

In the end, the novel poses one horrible new question, and paints an even more terrifying picture of the answer.
What if all religions, including atheism, have it wrong?

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