Director Billy Pon sends in the homicidal serial rapist clowns for “Circus Of The Dead”!

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“Nobody likes a clown at midnight.”
- Stephen King

Coulrophobia appears to be at an all time high right now, with evil clowns reaching heights of popularity we have never seen the likes of before. Rob Zombie has just introduced his new killer clown flick 31 to the wonders of the internet, a big screen remake of Stephen King’s “It” is reportedly in production, and the real world is filling up with juggalos and Northhampton Clown copycats.
Recent horror flicks like Stitches, All Hallow’s Eve and The Last Circus have all tapped into this fast spreading inexplicable fear of clowns to varying degrees of success. And then Circus Of The Dead shows up to teach them all how it is done…
Circus Of The Dead is sure to be two of the dirtiest, most morally-bankrupt, sadistic hours of your life. A film that has no boundaries, and acts only to push yours, this chaotic clown rampage is not one that you will soon forget. Director Billy Pon has earned the nickname “Bloody Bill”, without a doubt.

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After a quick introduction to our colorful clowns that instantly let’s us know they mean business, the film gets started inconspicuously enough. We meet the Johnson family, who seem to be the whole package, as they head out for family fun time at the local circus.
Unfortunately for them, this Circus is under the dark influence of Papa Corn and he has his own demented idea of what passes for entertainment. The top-notch performance from Bill Oberst Jr. as “Papa” is a particular stand-out among some of the other slightly underwhelming performances. Mr. Oberst, a ubiquitous mainstay in many modern horror films, attacks this role with demented glee, managing to go from eerily calm to frothing lunatic at a moment’s notice.

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At first, Papa Corn appears to select his victim’s somewhat at random, using an old deck of tarot-like cards as the only method to his madness. Described as a variation of “Bingo from Mexico”, Papa sets his eye on the obvious choice at the big top show — the MILF holding a corn dog in one hand and dabbing mustard from her cleavage with the other!

Armed with a staple gun, an electric carving knife, a blowtorch and various other misappropriated tools, Poppa and his crew abduct Johnson’s wife and daughters and proceed to force him to participate in their planned twisted rampage if he ever wants to see them again.
Now when I say “twisted rampage”, I mean it. I consider myself to be a pretty damn jaded horror fan (for better or worse) but a few of these scenes actually had me wincing and cringing with disbelief.

Be warned, this film is not for the easily offended. This is a balls-out, mean-ass horror film!

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The director takes the story to places so depraved and sadistic, and there is a level of real cruelty and extreme apathy at work here that is rarely seen in any film. It is as if “Papa Corn” has taken the agent of chaos theory from his fellow cinematic clown “The Joker” to a whole new extreme.

Taking tonal cues from classic exploitation films and amping them up for the new millennium, Circus Of The Dead builds to an insanely hectic stalk and slash climax at an old movie theater playing a double feature of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Jaws”. The clown carnage reaches a bloody crescendo here, and leaves us with one of the most cruel final acts since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of “The Mist”.

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If you can take any more, be sure and stay tuned for a surprise after the credits, which revisits Doll-Boy, a character from Bloody Bill’s earlier short film which inspired this feature.
This is a horror film made with passion for fans of dirty old school thrills with a cruel streak. Worth watching for Bill Oberst Jr.’s hypnotic performance alone, the level of anarchy otherwise on display here is more than enough to satisfy gore lovers and cinematic sociopaths of any kind.
Currently touring festivals and making appearances in various theaters in the director’s native Texas, Circus Of The Dead is still looking for the distributor with the balls to release this film to a wide audience.
Stay tuned to the official Circus Of The Dead Facebook page for more news and updates on when you will be able to see this deranged masterpiece for yourselves.
Recommended.
Grade : B+



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New from Wild Eye Releasing : “Blood Soaked” and “Invasion Of The Scream Queens”!

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Our friends at Wild Eye Releasing have a pair of treats in store for horror fans coming at you today, June 17th!
This independent horror distribution company is helping us to ring in the summer with something old and something new.

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First up is director Peter Grendle’s new film “Blood Soaked”, a low budget genre and style mash-up that more than lives up to it’s title. This one has got it all : young college lesbians, hate crimes, torture porn, and even cannibalistic Nazi zombies. As independent as it gets, this “everything but the kitchen sink” flick is undeniably entertaining.

After having the misfortune of running into two twisted redneck sisters on the back roads, two cute co-eds get put through the wringer. Shot outside of Santa Fe New Mexico, where horror films and culture are still very taboo, Blood Soaked is based on Grendle’s independent short film “This Side Of Nightmare”.

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Featuring 100% practical effects, the film keeps the audience off-kilter by switching between color and black and white footage, and covering the cast in buckets of blood. It is a fun flick for any fans of independent do-it-yourself horror, and I can’t wait to see what this director does in the future!

The DVD release of Blood Soaked exclusively includes a commentary with director Peter Grendle, a commentary with the cast, a live audience track from the Pollygrind Film Festival, the short film This Side of Nightmare, a cast video introduction, trailers and an mp3 download from Eternal of Wu-Tang Killa Bees.

Find more information about Blood Soaked on their official Facebook page, and order your copy here!

 

Also being released today is a re-issue of the early 90s documentary “Invasion Of The Scream Queens”. From a time when that was still a new term, this classic takes a long look at the exploitation and horror flicks of the late 70s and early 80s, featuring  fascinating interviews with Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, Mary Woronov and many more.
For the first time on DVD, you can get to know all of your favorite B-movie actresses and hear them tell their own stories.

The DVD release of Invasion of the Scream Queens exclusively includes a new 2013 interview with Donald Farmer, deleted/ extended interviews from the original production, and an excerpt featuring Linnea Quigley from the out of print book that started it all, Invasion of the Scream Queens.

Get your copy here!

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To find these new releases and much more, check out the Wild Eye Shop and help support independent horror films and distributors!

 

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New On Netflix : Birth Of The Living Dead!

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It is impossible to deny the impact of George Romero’s “Night Of The Living Dead” on horror culture, film, and the world in general. In the decades since the film’s initial release in 1968, it changed the way horror was perceived in mainstream culture, and influenced several generations of low-budget filmmakers and artists.

However, according to living legend George Romero, “It was no big thing, man. Just a bunch of friends getting together to try and make a movie.”

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The new film “Birth Of The Living Dead” chronicles Romero’s journey from the very beginning, directing shorts for Mr. Rogers and shooting beer commercials in his native Pittsburgh. This new documentary features some outstanding original artwork from Ghoulish Gary Pullin, and interviews with genre staples like Larry Fessenden and Mr. Romero himself that prove to be insightful and interesting, and force us to look at the film in possibly new ways.

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Night Of The Living Dead has gone on to be known as a game-changer, and many of the social connotations of the film have stood the test of time, but at the time, 27-year-old Romero’s idea was simply to “make a horror film as ballsy as we could make”.

Romero is an easy-going narrator in this documentary, funny and down-to-earth, and even all these years later, still seems a bit bewildered by what he got away with way back then. While he had no idea he was doing it at the time, Romero re-invented the concept of the  zombie and essentially added a brand new monster to the landscape of horror culture.

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Birth Of The Living Dead is a documentary filled with lively commentary and interesting notes from the cast and crew of the legendary production. For example, most of the on-screen zombies were local newscasters and clients from local ad agencies that were apparently humoring Romero and his collaborators.

Also interesting to note is something that never really occurred to me as I watched the film in the past (as a child of the 70’s) is the way it tackled racism. The fact that the lead was a black man, and it was never even remarked upon, was a breakthrough at the time of a chaotic political and racial climate.The documentary takes a fascinating closer look at the unsettling culture of fear and racial inequality at the time of the film’s production, and proves just how “ballsy” Romero and his team actually were. Great stuff!

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The only parts of the film that fell flat to me are the cuts to a teacher showing the film to a  classroom of modern children and hearing their take on it. This whole scenario feels very forced and stilted, and I wish the film-makers wouldn’t have wasted their time and resources on this unnecessary side-bar.

All in all, “Birth Of The Living Dead” is fun and fascinating watch, and it is especially interesting to think about the challenges Romero and team faced during the production of this cult classic back in the turbulent late 60’s.

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Of course, not everything is explained. People who are still looking for the answers to what actually caused the zombie outbreak will have to take solace in the fact that some things should remain a mystery.
“God changed the rules,” Romero says simply, by way of explanation.

Freshly added to the Netflix Streaming service, this film can also be found here for purchase from Amazon. More information about the film can be had on the official Birth Of The Living Dead Facebook page.
This is recommended viewing for any fan of horror.
Grade : B+


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Willow Creek is the best found footage movie since The Blair Witch Project!

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Bobcat Goldthwait has made a masterpiece with his new Bigfoot film, Willow Creek.
After successfully breaking out of his early-80’s Police Academy caricature, Mr. Goldthwait has emerged as an edgy and fearless director of some offbeat films. His latest project, Willow Creek, is the definitive found footage and Sasquatch film, a feat accomplished with a simple set of tools, an engaging and believable cast, and expert sound effects.

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To begin with, what better subject for a found footage film than the most famous bit of “found footage” in history, the notorious Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967? Now a classic piece of pop culture that nearly everyone has seen or heard of, this film remains the most talked about bit of “evidence” in Sasquatch lore.

Our protagonist, Jim, is one of those handsome geeky guys, harboring a life-long obsession with Bigfoot, specifically the Pattison film and the mythology around it. He has convinced his girlfriend Kelly to accompany him on a trip to the fabled Bluff Creek area where the film was originally shot. Kelly is the perfectly skeptical foil to Jim’s overzealous excitement, but she dutifully tags along and helps him film his amateur documentary.

The duo explore the rustic town of Willow Creek and it’s dedication to the mythology of Bigfoot. They soak up the local atmosphere, eating Bigfoot burgers and viewing a Sasquatch art exhibit, before clumsily conducting interviews with a few colorful locals. Much credit for the film’s success must go to the completely natural acting of Alexie Gilmore (Kelly) and Bryce Johnson (Jim). They are fully fleshed out real people and it is essential that we believe in them and their relationship in order for the second half of the film to be so effective.

And it works well. The entire film builds slowly to a perfectly executed and seriously terrifying climax. Simplicity is the key here, and as a director, Goldthwait is using all of these tools in the best ways possible. The “found footage” angle is perfect for a story like this, and he builds the tension slowly and carefully, as our happy couple bravely venture into the woods to revisit the site of the famous Pattison-Gimlin film.

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There is a twenty minute sequence near the end of the film that had me paralyzed with fear along with our leads, an effect that is masterfully accomplished only with the dynamic use of sound effects and a reliance on how wholly convincing the acting is.

The slow build up of the first hour of the film worked magic to get us to this point, and it is hard for the viewer not to feel as though they are huddled in the tent with Jim and Kelly as they are slowly stalked and terrorized by whatever is out there in the unknown forest.

All around, this is another excellent film to add to the resume of Mr. Goldthwait, and the definitive example of how to use the found footage style effectively.
One last note, I watched the film on my computer in the pitch dark, and felt very intimately connected to the story that was unfolding in front of me. I feel like this may be the optimal way to view this film, and can’t help but wonder if it will play as well on the big screen.
Either way, Willow Creek is slated for a U.S. limited theatrical release starting June 6th, and will be available on DVD in the UK as of today, May 26th!
Grade : A

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Director Lucky Mckee defies expectations again with “All Cheerleaders Die”!

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Director Lucky McKee is one of those guys.
One of those directors with a very dark side and enough creative madness to keep the world filled with insane movies for many years to come. Bursting on to the horror scene in 2002 with May, his subversive spin on the Frankenstein mythos, him and his star Angela Bettis switched roles and he starred in the similarly-themed Roman, which she directed. He followed that with one of the single best episodes of Showtime’s short-lived Masters Of Horror series, Sick Girl, and the slow-burn atmospheric period piece The Woods. Then he hooked up with one of my favorite authors and brought some of Jack Ketchum’s darkest work to the screen at last, producing The Lost, and expertly adapting one of my favorite books, Red. Then came The Woman in 2011, one of the most controversial and balls-out lunatic films in recent memory. This year he brings us a fresh new take on his very first short film from 2001, All Cheerleaders Die!

You never know what to expect from him, and that is just the way it should be.
Co-written and co-directed with long time collaborator Chris Sivertson, who also happened to be the director of the aforementioned The Lost, this team has arrived with the goal of defying all of our expectations.
Case in point, All Cheerleaders Die is a lurid, slightly generic movie title which honestly would rank very low on my list of must see films if I did not know anything else about it. It appears to be an average piece of exploitation trash, which would make the late night Netflix list at best, if not for the involvement of McKee.
However, in Lucky we trust, so I plunked down my ten bucks to watch this one On Demand last night, and I am glad I did!

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First off, you couldn’t get more tonally different from one film to the next. The Woman was a gritty and brutal story of a feral woman captured and tortured by civilized types. All Cheerleaders Die is a flashy, loud, throwback to the classic cheerleader horror flicks of the 80s. At least at first glance it is.

The film kicks off with a brief introduction of the cheer-leading squad via old video diaries, and quickly sets the tone with a tragic and darkly funny accident leading into the title splash. From there, the set up is quick and easy, as the film makers establish all of the characters we knew were coming : the bitchy cheer squad, the jocks, the stoners, the misfit goth chick. And not a single parent or adult.

I have to be honest here, as a jaded horror fan in his mid-30s, that I found it impossible to connect with any of these characters, or even tell them apart in some instances. Although I am a fan of the old cheerleader horror flicks from my youth, I saw them from a wholly different perspective back then. Watching those old films, the characters were my age or older, presented in a time period I could relate to. Watching this new generation of cliches and stereotypes being introduced and lined up for inevitable disposal actually gave me an uncomfortable feeling. Instead of feeling like I was on the inside of the joke (as in the older films), watching this set up as a grown up made me feel dirty and awkward and more than a little cruel. As the director is the same age as me, I can’t help but wonder if this was intentional.

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But then, at about the halfway point, the movie just goes insane. There is no better way to put it. A series of poor choices from the characters and sudden shocking violence twists the whole film into some bizarre fever dream, and it becomes the weirdest piece of mainstream horror cinema since James Gunn’s Slither in 2006.

I will not spoil the film for you by going into details, but the directing team succeed in gleefully transforming all of the familiar tropes and defy expectations constantly in the second half, eventually leaving the audience with a giant grin on our collective faces.
I was literally thinking “What the fuck did I just watch?” as the credits rolled.

I still honestly don’t know, but it seems that there is a larger plan in place for this story, and I can’t wait to see more. Although it was most likely meant to be the final punchline in the subversive masterpiece conceived by our madman directors, and his next project will probably be something completely different…
As it should be.
All Cheerleaders Die is available On Demand right now, and will be hitting theaters on June 13th!
Check out the official website and Facebook page for more details!

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Hellbound: Hellraiser II

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“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!”

Hellraiser has spawned eight sequels over the years, not including the piece of trash Revelations, and has made “Pinhead” one of the most iconic of all the horror villains of all time.
It has one of the biggest cult followings ever and has actually influenced our culture in more ways than one. Many people will tell you that they like Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 better and actually prefer it over the first Hellraiser film. Then again, many people will also tell you that the first film is by far superior.
I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel that either film is better or worse than the other. I tend to think of this film as more of a great companion piece to the first Hellraiser. It is the only one in the series that continues the story of its predecessor and it is the start of the ever growing mythology that has become the Hellraiser universe.

The film once again stars Clare Higgins as Julia and Ashley Laurence as Kirsty. The newcomers are Kenneth Cranham as Dr. Channard and Imogen Boorman as Tiffany. Pinhead is played by Doug Bradley, Chatterer by Nicholas Vince, the female Cenobite by Barbie Wilde, and Butterball by Simon Bamford.

“We have eternity to know your flesh.”

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The first Hellraiser film gave us the love story of Julia and Frank and the “super butcher” order, also known as the Cenobites. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 puts the tragic story of Julia and Frank on the back burner and changes gears a little, favoring to focus more on the Cenobites themselves. As viewers we get to see just how “Pinhead” was created and also get to see a new Cenobite being created as well.

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The film is a direct continuation of Hellraiser. In fact, the beginning of Hellbound is the ending of Hellraiser. After Kirsty defeats the Cenobites and sends them back to the labyrinths of Hell, she is sent to a mental institution where she meets Dr. Channard. With the exception of a single doctor, his colleagues and a police detective, not believing a word of her fantastical story, assume she has lost her mind. She almost wonders herself after having a vision of what she thinks is her skinned father appearing in her room, and with a bloody fingertip writes the words, “I am in Hell help me.”

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This begins her voyage to Hell and save her father.
It turns out Dr. Channard wants to embark on a voyage of his own. We see throughout the film he has been obsessed with “the box” and the pleasure and pain aspect it synonymously represents. He has the mattress that Julia died on delivered directly to his home. What unfolds is actually one of my favorite scenes in the film. Dr. Channard brings a patient, known as Mr. Browning, to his home from the mental ward. The acting here given by Oliver Smith, is second to none. This is one of those scenes you won’t soon forget. The patient is restrained by a traditional straight jacket and constantly repeats the words, “Get them off me, get them off me!” Releasing the patient from his restraints, Dr. Channard sets Mr. Browning on the mattress and gives him a straight razor to relieve himself from his mental affliction. Mr. Browning then cuts himself repeatedly from chest to groin. That’s when we see a skinless Julia rise from the mattress, and after a short struggle, consumes the patient much in the same way Frank did his victims in the first film. What follows is a unique journey from the maze like corridors of the labyrinth of hell and back.

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“Our mind is a labyrinth.”

Just like the first Hellraiser, this film is packed with highly quotable lines, from beginning to end. Tony Randel did a masterful job of creating Hell on celluloid, particularly how he makes Hell seem “personalized.” We get a glimpse of Frank’s Hell, and I must say, it is quite suiting. We learn from the first film that Frank is a lustful being always looking to satisfy his every sexual desire. There are small arch ways on each side of his room in his personal part of Hell. Inside each hole is a sliding table with writhing, voluptuous women moaning in ecstasy, that he is completely unable to touch or even see outside of the sheet that has been placed on each. If he tries to remove the sheet, there is nothing there anymore, only a slab where the womanly shape had been. Frank’s quote regarding this is wonderful. “This is my Hell. They are here to tease me. They promise forever and never deliver.”

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“Oh my God!”
“No, this is mine. God of flesh, hunger, desire. My God Leviathan, Lord of the Labyrinth.”

When the film was released, screenwriter Peter Atkins received loads of hate mail from fans that were outraged that “Pinhead” and his three Cenobite cohorts, were so easily defeated in their battle. Peter Atkins said it was because they had become “spiritually weakened” by Kirsty when she reminded them that they were once human, while Dr. Channard had already completely left his humanity behind. A lot of people who have seen Hellbound multiple times complain of a somewhat muddled storyline.
One main reason is because Andrew Robinson refused to reprise his role as Larry Cotton, which forced hasty script rewritings. Andrew has stated that he withdrew himself from the production because he was told he would be making less in Hellbound than he did in Hellraiser.

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If you’re a long time fan as I am, you’ll remember an image on the back of the original VHS jacket depicted Pinhead and the female Cenobite dressed as doctors. There are some that think this had become a deleted scene. Doug Bradley enlightened long time fans on his official website by stating that the scene had never been filmed, nor completed. The day they were to shoot that scene, the special effects were not working properly and eventually it was decided that the scene be abandoned.

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Tony Randel made an excellent decision by bringing back Christopher Young for the soundtrack. He did such a masterful job in Hellraiser and it actually became a highlight of the first film. He does such a great job of showing us balance in his score, a mix of beauty and terror, light and dark. He even went so far as to incorporate morse code for “GOD” with Tibetan horns when Leviathan is first shown.

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I have had the absolute pleasure in chatting with both Nicholas Vince (Chatterer) and Barbie Wilde (Deepthroat). They are both great actors and are both authors that have recently published books, all with fantastic success and excellent reviews and they have taken time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions for me.

Barbie Wilde interview :

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Death by Stereo: The Cenobite you play ultimately became known as “Deep Throat.” Is this a nickname that happened on set during filming? Or was it created by fans of the films?

Barbie Wilde: “Deep Throat” is the nickname that the Image Animation makeup crew gave to the Female Cenobite character. If you look at the credits from the first film, Pinhead was “Lead Cenobite”, Chatterer was “Chattering Cenobite”, Butterball was “Butterball Cenobite”, etc. By the time the second film rolled around, the decision was made to give the Cenobites their makeup crew names for the credits. However, the American production company thought that “Deep Throat” was too rude to use in the credits (because of the notorious 1972 film, Deep Throat, starring Linda Lovelace), so I was lumbered with the rather dull name of Female Cenobite.

Death by Stereo: Did you do anything specific to prepare for the role?

Barbie Wilde: I read Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, as preparation for the role. The makeup and the costume were really helpful as well. Looking into the mirror and seeing myself as a Female Cenobite for the first time was really empowering.

Death by Stereo: Were you ever asked to reprise the role of the Female Cenobite in any of the subsequent films?

Barbie Wilde: The whole production moved to Hollywood and Doug Bradley was the only Cenobite who was asked to come on board.

Death by Stereo: Do you have a favorite Hellraiser film?

Barbie Wilde: I’ve only seen the first two. I love the first Hellraiser movie. I think that the character of Julia is absolutely brilliant. All that twisted sexual obsession for bad boy Frank! And of course, the first time the Cenobites enter is a pretty gobsmacking moment. Of course, a lot of fans prefer Hellbound, as it delves into the Cenobite-Hellraiser mythology in more detail.

Death by Stereo: Clive Barker has recently said that he is very interested in remaking the first Hellraiser film. Would you be interested in appearing once again as a Cenobite for the remake should Clive ask?

Barbie Wilde: If Clive wanted me to be in a Hellraiser reboot, then who am I to say no?! Of course, I’d love to appear in anything that Clive was involved in.

Death by Stereo: How did you get the part of the Female Cenobite?

Barbie Wilde: My acting agent was approached by Doreen Jones, the Casting Director of Hellbound. I met with Tony Randel and I got the part. It was probably one of the easiest auditions I’ve ever gone to! And who knows, maybe Tony was impressed that I knew what the word “cenobite” meant. (It means a member of an order.) He thought it was a word that Clive had made up.

Death by Stereo: What was your favorite experience/memory on the set?

Barbie Wilde: The camaraderie behind the scenes. We all spent a heck of a lot of time being prepared for our roles in makeup and costume: my prosthetic makeup took four hours to apply; I think Doug’s took five hours; Ken Cranham’s took six. We kept our spirits up by telling stories, singing (I know all the hits from Cabaret) and dancing. There is some footage up on Youtube of Simon “Butterball” Bamford doing the CanCan in his costume. Fabulous!

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Here’s Part One of the Hellbound behind-the scenes video filmed by Geoff Portass:

And here’s Part Two:

Also, I’ll never forget my first day of filming. My flight back from the States was delayed 24 hours, so I had to go straight from the airport to Pinewood Studios, then sit in the makeup chair for four hours, get into costume, then wait around for six hours until I got in front of the cameras to film the first big Cenobite scene in Channard’s study. By that time, I was not only jet-lagged and exhausted by not having any sleep for 24 hours, but my mental state was altered beyond belief. I really did feel like a demon from hell!

Death by Stereo: What are you working on these days?

Barbie Wilde: I’m writing a screenplay based on one of my short stories, ‘Zulu Zombies’, which appeared in Fangoria’s Gorezone #29, as well as the anthology, Bestiarum Vocabulum, which is published by Western Legends.
I will be appearing (for the first time in 16 years) in a brilliantly written, unusual British horror anthology movie called Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery. I’ll be playing an unconventional therapist. I’m also co-writing a musical drama for both stage and screen called Sailor. It’s about love, revenge, death and redemption, set in the ruins of post-War Marseille.

Death by Stereo: Your book The Venus Complex is getting rave reviews all across the board, including our review here at Horror Homework. Do you prefer writing as opposed to acting, and why?

Barbie Wilde: I love writing, although it’s not an easy process for me. I can’t really compare acting and writing – they are so different. (Yet at the same time, complement each other perfectly.) I’m excited to be acting in a movie again after all these years, but I’m equally excited to be writing a movie screenplay.

Death by Stereo: Is there anything you’d like to say to all of the Hellraiser fans out there?

Barbie Wilde: A big “thanks!” to all the fans who have loved Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythology. It’s a testament to Clive’s genius that people are still intrigued by this most imaginative and seductive of horror stories.

For news, reviews, interviews and convention appearances, you can check out Barbie’s website here, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!
To check out Barbie’s books and stories, please go to her Amazon USA Author Page.

Nicholas Vince interview :

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Death by Stereo: Your makeup is considerably different from the first film. I saw an interview regarding the first film and you mentioned the makeup process, when finished, was tough to see through. Was the change solely for you to be able to see better?

Nicholas Vince: There was a combination of things. It really was a tough makeup to wear, akin to sensory deprivation as I couldn’t hear, speak or see when wearing the original makeup. So, the guys at Image animation suggested making alterations. Also there were sequences in Hellbound where Chatterer was running after Kirsty down the corridors under the Channard institute. Obviously, I’d need to be able to see to do those. We filmed them but they didn’t make the final cut.

Death by Stereo: Did you have any say so in the final look of the character on the second go round?

Nicholas Vince: Nope. I was just happy to be able to see.

Death by Stereo: Did you do anything specific to prepare for the role?

Nicholas Vince: Just the same as when I played him the first time – chattering my teeth to the bathroom mirror.

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Death by Stereo: Were you ever asked to reprise the Chatterer role in any of the subsequent films?

Nicholas Vince: They were all filmed in the USA and I wasn’t asked.

Death by Stereo: Do you have a favorite Hellraiser film?

Nicholas Vince: Hellraiser and Hellbound. Hellraiser, as it’s a domestic drama with monsters and Hellbound for Kenneth Cranham’s wonderfully creepy Dr. Channard.

Death by Stereo: Working on the first and second Hellraiser, what was different for you in regards to taking direction from Clive and Tony?

Nicholas Vince: I’d not met Tony before, whereas I’d known Clive for years. They also had a very different style.

Death by Stereo: I’ve heard you say you actually had an accident on set with a large hook. Can you tell us about that?

Nicholas Vince: We were filming the sequence where Chatterer is hit in the chest by a tentacle fired from Channard’s palm. I was standing in front of a spinning pillar and at the top was a piece of wood sticking out with a chain and 12” rusty hook – a rice hook I think. As I opened my mouth to scream, the point of the hook went between the false teeth and into the roof of my mouth. It only went in about 1/4” so it was very lucky I was wearing the false teeth or it might have been a lot nastier.

Death by Stereo: Clive Barker has recently said that he is very interested in remaking the first Hellraiser film. Would you be interested in appearing once again as a Cenobite for the remake should Clive ask?

Nicholas Vince: If Clive asked, I’d probably walk into a cage full of lions. No, strike that, probably bad to give him ideas. Yes, whatever Clive asked me, I’d probably do it.

Death by Stereo: What was your favorite experience/memory on the set?

Nicholas Vince: Just being back with the gang who’d made Hellraiser and then meeting Barbie Wilde.

Death by Stereo: You have had excellent success with What Monsters Do and Other People’s Darkness, both have great reviews have been well received. Do you prefer writing to acting? Why?

Nicholas Vince: I prefer to doing everything possible. Acting gets me out of the house and it’s really interesting to work with other people’s words, and other actors. I find it very inspiring. At the same time, I love writing. I always wish I was doing more, but as I’m an author publisher, I spend a fair amount of time concentrating on marketing the books etc. And walking the dog.

Death by Stereo: Did you read Clive’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, prior to working on the film?

Nicholas Vince: I suspect I will have read the book after making the film as I have a memory of reading the standalone version, but honestly, I’m not sure.

Death by Stereo: Is there anything you’d like to say to all of the Hellraiser fans out there?

Nicholas Vince: Yes, thank you! It’s been an amazing couple of decades and I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you in a couple of weeks at Texas Frightmare and later at Atlantic City. And, I’m also looking forward to the 30th anniversary of Hellraiser in 3 years time.

Follow Nicholas Vince on Facebook and Twitter as well!

So that’s it Hellraiser fans! Be sure to check out Nicholas Vince’s and Barbie Wilde’s official websites for great Hellraiser memorabilia and upcoming projects. Be sure to friend all the Cenobites for the most current news and places they will be.
Nicholas Vince even does Google chats with fans on occasion! Until next time hellions!

“It is not hands that call us. It is desire.”

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Movie review : Wolf Creek 2

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Just released On Demand is the long-awaited sequel to 2005’s Wolf Creek!
I was a huge fan of the first film, which followed a group of tourists as they explore the gorgeous Australian Outback, specifically the giant crater at Wolf Creek.
They are unlucky enough to cross paths with a native carrying a grudge (and a high-powered sniper rifle) and the rest of the film plays out as a cat and mouse torture porn hybrid, but artfully elevated above the dregs of most releases in these sub-genres.
The audience was actually compelled to care for these unfortunate back-packers, and the film introduced us to an unlikely new horror icon.

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Mick Taylor (as embodied by Australian native Jon Jarrett) is a larger-than-life charismatic killer, the kind of guy you would love to drink moonshine and trade stories with. In the first film, he jumped off the screen as a new horror icon, cementing his place among the classic boogeymen of horror cinema.
His character (and the story which is advertised as “based on true events”) was loosely based on two different incidents of tourists in the Outback being abducted and tortured.
Jarrett has also said that he modeled the character after his own father, minus the raping and murdering, who he says was “very funny, larger than life, and built like a brick shithouse, a barrel of a man.”

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In the new film, it is obvious from the beginning that this is Mick’s country and the rest of us are just tourists. And he hates tourists.
In fact, despite more ambiguous motives in the first film, this time out it is made abundantly clear that his goal is very simply to destroy any foreigners who set foot on his land, or come between him and his meal.
The tone of the film is set in the outstanding opening sequence, re-introducing Mick to us as he deals with a couple of wise-ass highway patrolmen. After this brutal beginning, we quickly get introduced to Rutger and Katarina, and it seems we are being pushed into comfortable sequel territory, rehashing events eerily similar to the first film.
But before we can get bored with it, writer/director Greg McLean throws a great curveball at us, abruptly shifting the perspective, and lets the audience know immediately that this sequel is definitely not more of the same.
What follows is an intense collection of harrowing set-pieces, including one insane chase sequence on a long stretch of highway inhabited only by an unfortunate pack of kangaroos!

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The entire tone of the film is drastically different than the first.
Where the original was set mostly at night and mostly in dark grimy locations, many of Wolf Creek 2’s more memorable sequences occur in broad daylight. The first film introduced the boogeyman ; in part 2 we are dragged along for the ride, with Jarret’s Taylor squarely on screen for most of the running time.
By the film’s climactic scenes, Mick resembles classic Freddy Krueger more than anything, playfully and confidently stalking his prey through his trap-rigged caverns.
He toys with his victim and makes it abundantly clear that he is in charge at all times.  In fact, one of the most memorable scenes in the film involves an extended drinking and torturing sequence (complete with a fascinating history lesson!) between captor and captive, with an amusing series of questions representing the dangling carrot of potential freedom which is of course snatched away.

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This is the way a sequel should be done, expanding the storyline and character without giving away all of the mystery. The character of Mick Taylor is a fascinating one, a charming and witty ruthless killer, that I would love to see more of.
Kudos to director Greg McLean for making a fresh sequel that gives us exactly what we wanted out of a new chapter. Please don’t make us wait another decade for Wolf Creek 3!
This one is highly recommended.
Watch it On Demand now, and in theaters on May 16th!
I know this is also one Blu-ray that is definitely going into my collection as well when it release June 24th.



Horror Comics at TFAW.com


Movie review : Scream Park

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The latest in a new generation of slasher films that harken back to the 80s heyday, Cary Hill’s Scream Park is the first one I have seen actually billed as a “retro slasher”.
What exactly is a retro slasher?
I’m thinking of films like Hatchet, Full Moon’s recent PMS Cop, and upcoming throwback films like The Pick-Axe Murders III : The Final Chapter and Stage Fright. This is one trend that I could definitely get behind, as many of my youthful days were spent haunting video store aisles and watching every horror flick I could get my hands on.
Scream Park could have easily fit on those old unorganized shelves, existing happily between April Fool’s Day and Sleepaway Camp.

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The first forty minutes or so play out exactly like 2009’s Adventureland, but with 100% less Kristen Stewart and/or Ryan Reynolds, which gives Scream Park bonus points already. The staff of the park decide to throw a party at the end of the night after learning that the park will be closing down, and they are all losing their jobs.

The cast of victims (er, characters) are introduced quickly and in typical broad strokes. They are the nice girl, the jock, the punker guy, the slutty chick, the goth, the uptight manager ; they have names like Marty and Roy and Carlee. They are underage and like to drink and screw. Got it?

Needless to say that things really get going when bad guys show up and begin to take them out one by one, of course, in creative practically-staged ways. The killers are first glimpsed lurking around the fringes of the park, but as they begin making their moves, we get more close-up looks at the sadistic killers and the freakish home-made masks they wear.

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Top-billed Doug Bradley shows up about an hour into the film in one extended cameo scene as Mr. Hyde, the over-the-top owner of the park with a secret agenda. I don’t think it is a spoiler to note that Mr. Hyde is the one behind these murders (as it is right there in the official synopsis), and the whole thing has been set up to try and drive more business to the park in the future. Bradley of course has a convincing demeanor that would make anything sound like a great idea. His three minutes of film is a highlight.

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One thing that is troubling is the inconsistent tone. I am unsure when the film is actually set. The characters dress and act like typical movie teenagers from the 1980’s, but they reference Twilight and cell phones.
Is this a retro slasher, or just a cheap modern slasher with retro elements?
Either way, this is the kind of film we could use more of.
It plays out exactly like it sounds, as if it were a hidden discovery from those days of picking out a movie based on it’s cover art from the horror section of your local video store.

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Scream Park definitely follows the tried and true slasher rules, with no attempt to subvert or re-invent them.
It is actually kind of refreshing.
No social commentary. No meta theories. Best of all, no CGI blood splatters.
Just a cast of teenagers trying to survive the night, trapped in an interesting location, hunted down by killers, with one Final Girl remaining.
It is a goofy, gory fun time.
Simplicity itself, well worth a watch.

Releasing On Demand and on DVD next week, April 22nd, 2014.
For more details visit the Scream Park Facebook page, or order from Amazon here.



Horror Comics at TFAW.com


Full Moon Streaming unleashes PMS Cop!

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Full Moon Studios has been around for years, spreading their unique brand of low-budget horror and exploitation to the masses. Rivaled only by Troma Studios, these quick and dirty do-it-yourself films were easy to appreciate in the simplest ways, as a sort of taboo. They always gave you the feeling that you were watching something you shouldn’t be watching.
As a child of the 70s growing up in the 80s, scoring the latest lurid Full Moon title from the video store on the corner was always a treat, a special kind of gift for the young horror fan. These films seemed to have no rules, no manners, and very often, no obvious redeeming qualities.
And these are my favorite kind of films.

Now, the days of passing off the newest tattered VHS copy of Re-Animator in the school hallway are long gone, but the studio who brought us so much exploitation joy has adapted with the times, bringing us a brand new streaming service. With 100s of movies to choose from under the Full Moon and Wizard banners available for instant streaming, the studio has also enticed a new generation of insensitive low-budget filmmakers to add to their library.

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First out of the gate is PMS Cop, a new feature from director Bryon Blakey, which goes live on the service today, April 4th 2014!
Described as a dark comedy horror, the official synopsis reads :
Mary, a police officer, suffers from severe PMS. After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life, she is encouraged to get help. A local pharmaceutical company is holding trials for a new drug, corybantic, that is designed to stop PMS. Mary enrolls and after a tragic event, she has a horrific side effect. With superhuman strength, she begins to kill everyone in her path without mercy.

And, if you weren’t sold by the end of the second sentence above, then this is definitely not your cup of tea. Keep on moving, as we cover all the aspects of horror here, from the artsy to the goofy, and this one falls squarely onto the side of “goofy” (not that that is a bad thing).
So, for the rest of you out there like me, who read “After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life”, here is the button to push to watch now!

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After a disclaimer that says “The producers of this movie are in no way admitting to the existence of PMS”, the film kicks right off with the aforementioned clown rape scene, complete with some lovely exposed breasts in the first minute (!)
Our hero cop team arrives just in time to stop the menacing balloon-shaping antics of the deviant clown and chases him through a skate park, ultimately taking out the suspect. Unfortunately, the incident is caught on video, and the officers are called in to be reviewed by a psychologist.

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Heather Hall as Mary is appropriately hostile and very funny in the opening scenes as the officer who takes no shit. The doctor infers that she beat the clown into submission simply because she was PMS-ing, and sends her off to be treated by a new trial drug.
We learn through flashbacks that Mary’s life has been no picnic, and she finally breaks after a sudden tragic loss and begins her reign of terror.
After she snaps, Mary becomes an imposing figure with her mirrored shades and tear-streaked mascara, and embarks on a “Falling Down”-style rampage through town. Her first victims are wife-beaters and pick-pockets, and she proves that she can rip off jaws with the best of them.

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Unfortunately, the first half of the movie is where we get all of this good stuff, as the premise seems to run out of steam shortly after Mary is captured and detained to be studied. From this point, we get a lot of chatter from the doctors and various background characters from the sinister pharmaceutical protege to a hapless computer hacker, all spouting ideas and theories in drawn-out sequences, when all we really want to see is Mary doing more menstrual murdery stuff.
To be fair, as she makes her escape there are several scenes of glorious appendage-ripping and great spurts of practical blood effects. And it all wraps up nicely in a perfect set-up for potential sequels, which is how I remember most of those old films ending.
In all honesty, I liked Mary more in the opening scenes when she was a wise-cracking disillusioned realist rather than when she turns into the mindless (and dialogue-free) killing machine (played stoically by Cindy Means).
PMS Cop may not be everyone’s cup of tasteless tea, but it does what it sets out to do, evoking the classic feel of the early 80s exploitation flicks and giving us some inappropriate chuckles. Overall, this film is a bloody good time.
Check it out exclusively on Full Moon Streaming, releasing today!



Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?


Movie Review : Lord Of Tears

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Lord Of Tears is a love letter to the Hammer horror films and Lovecraftian literature of the last millennium. An artful and atmospheric filmed nightmare, it draws from all of its influences to become a unique piece of film that will not soon be forgotten.
The first feature film from director Lawrie Brewster, he claims the film to be “no mere attempt to entertain”, rather an attempt to create his own mythology of old monsters and vengeful ghosts. Using the mythos of Lovecraft as a foundation, Mr. Brewster and the film’s writer Sarah Daly have created their own hidden world, with its own set of rules.

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The film tells the story of James, who has inherited a large lonely estate in the highlands of Scotland from his recently deceased estranged mother. She has also left him a letter strictly forbidding him to return to the old house, cryptically reminding him of suppressed childhood memories of monsters and loss.
A feisty little hobbit of a man, James decides he must return to the estate to try and remember what happened to him as a child. All along the way he is plagued by nightmares and quick-cut visions, creepy images barely glimpsed in passing.

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The film is shot gorgeously, and the utter solitude of the historic estate is illustrated beautifully. Lingering looks at snow-covered mountains and gnarled old trees are cut in with extreme close-ups of web-spinning spiders and crawling worms, giving a genuine sense of unease.
Upon his return, he meets Evie, a beautiful young lady who claims to live in the converted stables next door. She is motherly and kind to James, and a romance brews between them as he slowly learns more about his new home and himself. Dancer Lexi Hulme, who steals the show as Evie, is classically beautiful and has a unique grace that is put to great use as the narrative progresses.

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James himself is clearly haunted, and it becomes increasingly obvious that the old house contains some ghosts as well. He repeatedly sees visions of a lurking form, an unsettling figure dressed like a Victorian gentleman but with the head of an Owl, and elongated limbs with sharp claws.
The duo unravel the mystery surrounding the figure, and through research and luck, learn the story of Morloch, an ancient God of sacrifice. A mysterious key to a secret pagan shrine, a collection of bible verses, and his repeated visions lead them to find out more about the origins and motivations of the creepy Owlman.

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I am the immortal owl
The foul eye of oblivion
I am the almighty misanthrope,
The rope that tightens with the ticking of the clock.
I am the absolute and infinite blackness at the end of the tunnel.
I am the inevitable end of all things.

The film slow-burns it’s way through the middle third, building to a creepy and intense climax tying all the threads together for one of the bleakest endings in recent memory.
Explaining the mythology it created, and even answering a question the viewer probably didn’t know the film was asking, the whole thing is wrapped up in a very creepy sequence and a dark coda.
A fine first film, all the way around. One that succeeds (and exceeds) in everything it set out to accomplish with a grand and artistic flourish.
We will be very much looking forward to future work from director Lawrie Brewster, and interested to see if he decides to expand on this new mythology, or create a new one for us to enjoy!
Check out the trailer for the film below, and stay in the know about it on Facebook.
The film is available for purchase directly from the filmmakers here.

I should take a moment and talk about the packaging.
In this time of digital downloads and constant streaming, it is sometimes hard to remember the joy of opening the well-designed packaging of a film to add to your collection. The DVD version of the film is presented with not only a wide assortment of special features on the disc(s), but a beautiful slipcase decorated with gothic art, and a booklet further expanding the mythology of the story.
It was also hand-wrapped in black tissue paper, and affixed with a single owl feather.
Get your copy here, signed by the writer and director.

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com
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