Reserve your room at the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat 2015!

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Dark Regions Press is hosting the chance of a lifetime for any horror fans and/or aspiring writers this year with a four day writer’s retreat at the legendary Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King was inspired to write his creepy masterpiece, The Shining. That’s right, this October 22nd-25th, the legendary hotel will be a temporary home to a gang of aspiring and inspiring horror authors in what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Featuring some impressive guest authors like Jack Ketchum, Kealan Patrick Burke, Tom Piccirilli, and many more who will be available in various capacities depending on your needs and choice of package. Various plans of how to spend this time are available and completely up to you, whether you are interested in getting feedback from authors or would just like some isolated time alone to write in these iconic surroundings. For example, all of the packages include a tour of Room 217, but the top tier level buys you a four-hour block of undisturbed time alone in the dreadful room!

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Be aware that the registration fees do not cover your hotel stay or travel arrangements, but do include group discounts and early access for tickets to the Murder Mystery Dinner and The Shining Masquerade Ball (!), two events that seem like they are not to be missed.
The current indiegogo campaign has nearly reached it’s goal, but check it out to see the various perks available, and reserve your room now!
You can also find The Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat on Facebook for more information and updates over the months leading up to the event.
I know I am packing up my adult tricycle for my stay, so look out for me tearing down the halls this October!
See you there!

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Watch Now : He Took His Skin Off For Me

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Now available to watch for free is this extraordinary short film from director Ben Aston.
Based on an original story by Maria Hummer, this is an incredibly effective grad film, that brings us some very promising new talent to look forward to in the future.
The director recommends that you “Please turn off the lights. Use headphones. Go full screen. It’s worth it.”
He is right. Do those things and watch this film right here right now!

Pretty impressive, right?
This up and coming film maker deserves all of our kudos, in my opinion.
Even more so, when you learn that those effects are 100% practical and the lead actor Sebastian Armesto spent around 8 hours a day getting put into that fantastic make up!
You can see some fascinating behind the scenes videos here, and stay up to date with news about the film as it hits the festival circuit on Facebook, Twitter, and the official website.
I honestly can’t wait to see what this director comes up with in the future!

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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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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

 


Why is horror still a bad word?

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“To a new world of gods and monsters!”

- Dr. Pretorius, Bride Of Frankenstein, 1935

Where have all the monsters gone?
The vampires have been de-fanged and transformed into teen heartthrobs. Frankenstein’s monster is now an action hero. The wolfman will warm your heart, rather than rip it out. The Creature from the Black Lagoon got lost somewhere in the shuffle. The Mummy is being re-imagined yet again. And the list goes on…

Universal Studios has long had a name synonymous with the legendary monsters of modern cinema,  beginning in 1923 with Lon Cheney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The studio had great success with it’s long line of monster and horror films in the 1930’s when Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi stepped in and became Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein’s monster. The studio developed many adaptations of the work of Edgar Allan Poe and seemed to thrive in the darker side of the growing medium of film. In the ’40s, Lon Cheney Jr. filled the shoes of the Wolf Man, even as the original Universal monsters were now becoming ripe for comedy and parody films, effectively ending their legacy with Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein. In the ’50s, The Creature from the Black Lagoon was a surprise hit, reviving some of the classic films for theatrical distribution as double features, and the company attempted to keep their monsters relevant  all the way through the 1960’s, when they began to disappear.

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Over the following decades, many homages and attempts to revitalize these now classic characters have appeared to varying receptions. Excepting honest and loving tributes like 1974’s  Young Frankenstein and 1987’s Monster Squad, most of these attempts to bring the monsters back into the spotlight have been spectacular failures. Of course some good can be found in many of the remakes over the years, like Kenneth Branagh’s flawed but fun take on Frankenstein and the recent gothic remake of The Wolf Man, many of the others have been pure embarrassments like Van Helsing and the recently released Dracula Untold.

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Now, Universal Studios has inexplicably announced that they are attempting to re-brand and re-imagine their stable of classic monsters for a new generation, but without all that pesky horror stuff getting in the way. Continuing in the vein they began a few weeks ago with the really rotten new Dracula film, these legendary horror icons will become a new breed of action star, in the hopes that the studio will be able to compete with the likes of the many superhero films crowding the box office lately.

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According to Universal studio head Donna Langley, “We have to mine our resources. We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”

Which, to me, sounds like a horrible idea. And leads to the question “Why is horror still a bad word?”

Horror has consistently proven to be a genre populated with quality work, if you take the time to do your homework and find it. Many of the great directors of our time have deep roots in the horror genre, which has been a springboard for film-makers like Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Jackson, David Cronenberg, Sam Raimi, and most recently, James Gunn. Despite all of this, the horror genre has always been the red-headed stepchild of cinema, for some reason or other.  One reason could be the glut of lower budgeted “B” films that flooded the market throughout the 60s and 70s, giving the genre a bad rap. Even The Exorcist, which should have been a clear best picture winner in 1973, was snubbed because it was an unforgiving horror film. The Silence of the Lambs finally broke the stigma in 1991, but is widely regarded as a thriller. Many horror films are marketed as “psychological thrillers” or other nonsense simply in an attempt to reach a wider audience.

Right now, “horror” is everywhere, especially your television set. One of the most popular shows on TV right now has the word right in the middle of it’s title, but has proven to be more of a musical comedy of late rather than the American Horror Story it promises. Zombies have proven to make great lovers in a few recent laughable romantic comedies like Warm Bodies and Life After Beth. And the less said about the sparkling fresh teenage “vampires” of the Twilight saga, the better.

And now, we are primed to get a series of films featuring our beloved Universal monsters in a modern day setting, all designed to lead up to an action adventure spectacle reminiscent of Marvel’s cinematic universe. A horrible, misguided idea from a bunch of studio heads who are so empty of interesting ideas that they are mining decades-old properties and reshaping them into a package that doesn’t even fit. If Dracula Untold was meant to be a jumping off point for this new series, then the path is already lost, as that film was a jumbled, confused and pointless mess which I wouldn’t have even bothered to see if it weren’t playing a double feature at my local drive-in with the far superior Nightcrawler.

But that is just me, and my opinion as a life-long fan of monsters and all things horror.
Please, Universal, just let our monsters be monsters, or else don’t bother to resurrect them.
Thank you.

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Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series is coming in 2015!

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Everyone’s favorite every-man is returning to the screen at last!
Thanks to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and the Starz network, fans of the chainsaw-handed wiseguy can rejoice over his triumphant return to the series that started it all. The first Evil Dead film hit theaters way back in 1981, followed by Evil Dead 2 : Dead by Dawn (my all-time favorite movie!)  in 1987 and Ash vs. Army of Darkness in 1993. The legacy was continued last year with a well-received remake which teased the return of our grinning hero Ash in a post-credits sequence, and we have been subsequently teased with further adventures in the world of Evil Dead, but with no real substance until today.
While Sam Raimi revealed his plans for an Evil Dead television series (and a possible AoD sequel) back in July at Comic-Con, the commitment was set in stone today, as Starz officially announced their order for a ten episode run of the show to premiere sometime in 2015. The exciting news is that the show will continue the misfortunate adventures of our beloved hero Ash, and be written by Sam Raimi and his brother and long-time collaborator Ivan Raimi. Rob Tapert, who produced the original films is also along for the ride. Raimi will reportedly be directing the premiere episode, setting the tone for what is to come.

According to Raimi, “Evil Dead has always been a blast. Bruce, Rob, and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the next chapter in Ash’s lame, but heroic saga. With his chainsaw arm and his ‘boomstick,’ Ash is back to kick some monster butt. And brother, this time there’s a truckload of it.”
“I’m really excited to bring this series to the Evil Dead fans worldwide — it’s going to be everything they have been clamoring for: serious deadite ass-kicking and plenty of outrageous humor,” said Campbell.
“Starz first worked with Sam and Rob on Spartacus, and we are thrilled to be back in business with them,” said Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz. “With Sam writing and directing and Bruce Campbell returning to the screen, we are certain the show will give Evil Dead fans around the world the fix they’ve been craving.”

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While the Army of Darkness comic book series has continued the storyline in several different incarnations over the years, the direction of the storyline for the series is still unknown. I personally think it would be great to see Ash as king of that forgotten realm that he so valiantly and sarcastically defended all those years ago. As a huge fan of these films, I can obviously see all kinds of great potential in this series and am beyond excited for the return of good ol’ Ash and his wise-cracking ways.

What would you guys like to see from this exciting return of a classic character?

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Legendary director John Carpenter’s Lost Themes!

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John Carpenter, the man responsible for a long list of great films from the 1980s, is back with a new collection of original music. As many of us know, Carpenter not only wrote and directed such classics as Halloween, The Thing, and Prince of Darkness, he also composed the scores for many of these films, some of which have gone on to be influential icons in the worlds of film and music.
The new album, entitled Lost Themes, will be available from Sacred Bones Releasing on February 3rd 2015.
Although the title seems to suggest that these songs were somehow hidden gems from the past, in reality the album is composed entirely of brand new music from the 66-year-old auteur. Carpenter says :

Lost Themes was all about having fun. It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. And I couldn’t have a better set-up at my house, where I depended on (collaborators) Cody (Carpenter, of the band Ludrium) and Daniel (Davies, who scored I, Frankenstein) to bring me ideas as we began improvising. The plan was to make my music more complete and fuller, because we had unlimited tracks. I wasn’t dealing with just analogue anymore. It’s a brand new world. And there was nothing in any of our heads when we started other than to make it moody.

The first track from the album can be heard below, or if you prefer to hear the new theme set to scenes from the director’s past films click here to go to the Sacred Bones website.

Lost Themes track listing:

01 – Vortex
02 – Obsidian
03 – Fallen
04 – Domain
05 – Mystery
06 – Abyss
07 – Wraith
08 – Purgatory
09 – Night

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