House Guest (2013) including Q&A w/ Alex Vincent

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House Guest (2013) is directed by Jake Jalbert and stars Alex Vincent, who is most well-known for his role as Andy Barclay, the child protagonist in the films Child’s Play 1 & 2. This time around, Alex is not only acting but he also wrote the screenplay for ‘House Guest’. The film was shot, edited and finalized in only six months with a budget of $3000.house guest 4

Based on those facts alone, I’d say this film came out amazing!
House Guest is built around the storyline of a killer on the loose in a small town, causing everyone to fear being out at night. Rob (played by Alex Vincent) and his sister Jen (played by Maylin Morera) are left home alone after their parents leave. Who doesn’t have a party when their parents leave?
Needless to say, after a few friends come over as well as an unexpected visitor, things get amped up with a major climax that will have you on the edge of your seat.

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Considering each member of the cast and crew had vital parts in creating this film, there was a lot of creativity put into making sure the audience would be happy.  I have to point out that the acting definitely exceeds expectations. You can tell the actors worked as hard as they could to make sure their performances were believable and I for one was rivcache_3860390504eted! The soundtrack complements the film very well. I enjoyed the musical selection and felt that the music always went well with the images on-screen.
This film came together in such a short time, it is great to see how well it finished. The ending of the film wraps the story up nicely which is a breath of fresh air these days with so many sequels on the shelves. I highly recommend checking it out when you can. It’s scheduled for release September 13th but you can pre-order now at www.houseguestfilm.com.

I was able to get a few questions answered by the one and only Alex Vincent, in regards to the making of House Guest. Enjoy!

HH : First off, what got you back into acting? I know that after the famous role in Child’s Play, you had taken some breaks from acting. What was so special about House Guest and working with Brian Jalbert that got you to play a lead role?

AV : I did not initially intend to act on House Guest.  I had written about 6 other completed screenplays, none of which were moving forward.  The Jalbert brothers had the drive and motivation to actually make it happen!  Basically after handing over the written script, they asked me to play the lead.  I saw it as a good opportunity to get my face back in front of the camera, and ultimately try and help with the exposure of the project.

HH : Have you always had an interest in writing or did something happen that sparked an interest to write? How long did it take to write House Guest?

AV : I’ve been writing screenplays, poetry, stories, lyrics, etc…since I was 10 years old.  The interest to write has always been there. I finished writing the screenplay in 5 weeks.

HH : You also contributed to the music for House Guest. What was your inspiration for choosing the music to use in the film?

AV : As far as the audio mix and original scoring, recording arts is something I went to school for and always will have a passion for.  Inspirations of mine, like Trent Reznor, have definitely helped me express the mood of my writing with music.  It was a pleasure to work on the audio for the film, something I hope to do much more of.

HH : How did you come up with Rob’s character? He seems pretty laid back and enjoys living life comfortably. Did you incorporate any of your own characteristics with Rob’s? Did you imagine being in his situation to help with acting the part?

AV : The Rob character is certainly one I identify with.  As the writer, I incorporated a lot of my own traits into this role…which inevitably made the decision to portray him that much easier.  I found it very helpful to put myself in his exact position in that house…. how I would feel, and what I would do.  With a bit of luck, it all paid off!

I really enjoyed making the film with these guys, and I’m looking forward to the next project!

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Thanks to Alex for sharing how House Guest came together and some things about himself and don’t forget to head over to www.houseguestfilm.com to check out the behind-the-scenes photos and much more and also their Facebook at www.facebook.com/houseguest2013.


Movie Review : Elysium

933911_10151443621741344_1309589823_nIn my opinion, this summer has been a big disappointment at the movies. Aside from The Conjuring, most of the high-profile summer flicks I was looking forward to seeing kind of fell flat. Big budget spectacles like Star Trek : Into Darkness, Man Of Steel, and even Pacific Rim (which I wanted to like so badly) turned out to be beautiful spectacles that just kind of left me empty and hollow. I was beginning to think that I have become the problem, a jaded movie-goer, because nothing has seemed to connect with me in the cinema. I mean I couldn’t tell you a single thing about Man Of Steel, and I just saw it a month ago…

So I checked out a matinee of Elysium yesterday, going in with fingers crossed and a hope for something compelling. And I was not disappointed.

Metropolis - FinalFirst off, this is not “Hard Sci-fi” in any way. The rules of the world are quickly drawn in broad strokes in the opening scenes, then we are thrown into it. The year is 2154, and planet Earth is a dried-up, polluted, overcrowded garbage dump of a world. The priveleged one percenters have constructed a pristine habitat in the sky where they can live in splendor, while the poor are stranded on the desolate earth, toiling pointlessly in filth.

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The look of the film is clear and convincing, and the beautiful overhead shots of the cramped ruins of Los Angeles paint the picture of life on earth in this story. The Eden of Elysium is beautifully displayed for the viewer as well, causing us to easily identify with the yearning for a better life from the citizens of the ruined earth.

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Matt Damon’s character Max is an ex-criminal on the straight and narrow, who works a job in a factory building the same robots that keep the people of Earth down. He is an average everyman type of character in the beginning of the film, struggling with the oppression of his surroundings with a few simple dreams keeping him going.

When he runs into a small problem with the law (awesomely designed and detailed police droids who seem to actively look for problems) and ends up late for work, his troubles really begin. An on the job accident doses him with a high level of radiation that leaves him with only five days to live, and a handful of pain pills to keep him productive during his last days on earth.

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At this point he turns from “everyman” to desperate man who will do anything to survive. He draws his childhood friend (now a nurse with her own secrets) into his troubles, and re-visits an old friend from his criminal days to find a way to get off the planet and to Elysium, where he can easily be cured. They concoct a convoluted plan involving hijacking an Elysium citizen, downloading sensitive info directly from one brain to another, and installing a wicked exo-skeleton suit to keep Max moving at full capacity.

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Unfortunately, this draws the attention of Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster’s character and easily the weakest link in the film) and psychotic and slightly rapey secret government operative Kruger (Sharlto Copley, with the best performance in the film). Copley, who also played nice guy Wikus in District 9 is mesmerizing as the villianous Kruger, a scene-stealing performance to be sure!

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The second half of the film is a sometimes surprisingly gory spectacle, as Max struggles for his life and takes on the role of hero. Again, the special effects are gorgeous, and the story really worked for me. I felt more engaged and involved in this fictional world than I have in a long time.

If I have to gripe about anything, it would be Jodie Foster’s character and her odd choice of accent, and the fact that no matter how hard she tried she did not convince me she was really that sinister. Some of the close up fist fight scenes were inexplicably shot with a shaky cam, which made it hard to decipher what was really going on, but that is another small complaint that only rears it’s head briefly.

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Also, the social commentary inherent in a story like this was effective, but maybe handled a little too heavily, which is surprising considering how well Blomkamp dealt with similar themes in District 9. I can only presume that with a bigger budget came more input from more executives that forced his hand, to make sure we all “get it”. The last few scenes in the film, spent connecting all the dots for the audience were frankly kind of insulting, but I guess sometimes the crowd needs it spelled out for them.

Overall, Elysium is now my favorite film all summer, and I hope it is successful so that we can see many more films from this director in the future. Maybe August will save the summer for me, with Kick-Ass 2 to look forward to next week, and The World’s End the week after. I have high hopes for those two!

Anyway, get out and see Elysium!
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
You won’t regret it.
Grade : B+





Wishmaster 1997

416904_258453500904910_1119559100_nOnce, in a time before time, God breathed life into the universe. And the light gave birth to Angels. And the earth gave birth to Man. And the fire gave birth to the Djinn, creatures condemned to dwell in the void between the worlds. One who wakes a Djinn shall be given three wishes. Upon the granting of the third, the unholy legions of the Djinn shall be freed to rule the earth. Fear one thing in all there is…fear the Djinn.

It’s time for a 268972_1020_Ablast from the past! Wes Craven has gained notoriety for dipping his blood-soaked hands into the gory and lurid when it comes to producing, writing and directing films. From Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes 2, to Last House on the Left, he’s brought to life some of the horror cult classics we’ve come to know and love. Wishmaster (1997) isn’t an exception. Part of a 4-movie series, this little gem is one of those films you either fall madly in love with, or hate entirely.

The film stars beautiful Tammy Lauren (Alexandra Amberson) and the gorgeous Andrew Divoff (The Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest). The origins of the Djinn arwishmaster3e revealed throughout the movie, but the gist of it is: as God created the world, Djinn were born of fire and subjected to being trapped in the void between the worlds of man and Angels. Should a Djinn grant the mortal that summoned him from the void three wishes, a doorway would open between the worlds, allowing the Djinn to invade the world of man.

The film opens in a chaotic mess. The year is 1127 A.D. and the place is Persia. The assumed King has been granted two wishes by the Djinn, undoubtedly unable to resist such a tempting offer of anything he desires to be fulfilled. But the devious Djinn doesn’t quite play fair. He just loves to take every wish and turn it into something corrupted and twisted. We can only assume as to what the wishes the King desired were- but insatiable amounts of gore, blood, and beautifully crafted special effects makeup by the wonderful Gino Acevedo leaves little to be desired. There’s a scene where a guy gets his jaw ripped off, skeletons exploding, lizard men roaming around in anguish and people begging for mercy- an opening scene really can’t be better!

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However, all deliciously evil things come to an end when a Sorcerer decides to ruin the fun and seal the Djinn inside of a magical voodoo ruby gemstone before he manages to coax the third wish out of the king. His plans are foiled, but Djinn are immortal, so all he has to do is lie in wait for some unassuming moron to set him free.

Lucky for gore-addicts, that’s precisely what happens!

In good ole’ present day we discover the stone has been sealed inside of a Persian statue, that is conveniently located inside of a very heavy box that requires a crane to be operated. The operator, bless his alcoholic soul, is drunk and drops the box on top of a wealthy art collector’s assistant and shatters. Another dock worker, nobly rushing to the aid of the now dead assistant sees the gem amongst the wreckage and pockets it before anyone notices.

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This is when we meet Alexandra, an appraiser for auction house who notices something is not quite right about the gemstone. She polishes it, inadvertently awakening the evil Djinn trapped within. He can’t escape right away, but she pawns off the gem on a love interest Josh(played by Tony Crane) to examine closer. Josh is using a laser that apparently is supposed to identify what the gem is made of, the gemstone explodes and the Djinn is unleashed on the poor, defenseless Earth.

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Wishing to blend in with society, once the Djinn is released he decides to visit the morgue and steal a face from a cadaverous body in order to appear human. He must now go on the hunt for Andrea, but he is more than obliged to grant wishes to others along the way. However, seeing as it’s only her wishes that matter, Alexandra is persistent, not succumbing to temptation as the King of Persia did before her, but the Djinn has plenty of tricks up his sleeve into forcing her to make her wishes.

Acting in the late 90s was a bit over the top and not as restrained as it is in modern films, but if you can look past it the film really has a great foundation. The older I get, I realize this movie reads more as a dark comedy slashfest than a true horror film, but it still didn’t stop it from giving me pleasant nightmares as a child.3073369-wishmaster-1

The make up artistry and special effects stand up to the test of time- the majority of the effects remain solid and believable and Divoff does an incredible job delivering a chilling performance. No wonder he keeps getting cast as the villain. It’s a raging gorefest that keeps on delivering and fortunately for Netflix users, it’s available for streaming. Check it out!
As for a grade, I give it a solid: B
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Movie review : The Conjuring

526561_271924256224501_1230383855_nDiabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.

The film “The Conjuring” is based on a true story. It stars Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Ron Livingston (Roger Perron), Lili Taylor (Carolyn Perron), and is directed by James Wan (Saw 2004, Insidious 2010).There are a variety of haunted house films out there, including a previous effort by James Wan himself, Insidious. What separates this film from the rest is the excellent pacing, believable acting, the fact that it is “based” on a true story, and the direction.246460id1c_Conjuring_INTL_27x40_1Sheet.inddThe story opens up on a previous case investigated by the Warren’s, involving some roommates and a more than creepy doll. The three roommates believe their house is haunted and give permission for the spirit to inhabit the doll, not knowing it is actually a demon and not your average ghost. Ed and Lorraine inform them of their mistake and take the doll with them to put in their collection of items of other past cases, a museum of sorts, for safe keeping.
THE CONJURINGThen, cut to the case the film is actually based on in Harrisville, Rhode Island with the Perron family. Almost in the middle of nowhere, Carolyn and Roger moved into the old farmhouse with their five daughters.
A series of increasingly terrifying events lead the family to believe they are not alone. It is then that Roger and Carolyn seek out the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a pair of distinguished paranormal investigators. After an investigation into the house’s history, the Warrens inform the Perron’s they believe that they are under attack by an evil spirit that has attached itself to their family.
The events that unfold become increasingly horrifying until the end climatic scene.
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investigationfirst scareexorcismtumblr_mqroqdUCcS1rdi6uao6_500The Conjuring turned out to be a top notch thriller.
The film is rated R, although there is no real gore or extreme violence. The MPAA felt that some scenes may be too terrifying for some audiences. And judging from the venue I was at, I would agree.
There were times you could feel the entire audience hold their breath only to scream in unison.
I felt director James Wan has a brilliant ability to invoke a mood of suspense and dread using silence, camera angles, and great pacing.The acting from each character, including the five daughters, brought something to the story that made it and the scares feel more genuine without the cheap thrills.
Wan understands the audiences need to stay entertained throughout the film and increasingly ramps up the scares all the way to the end, to do just that.
I would be surprised to see another horror film in 2013 that will top this one.
Grade : A

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Movie review : Grabbers (2012)

225098_343739632376296_1636971844_nGrabbers is a new British-Irish horror film, with a great sense of goofy humor.
It is destined for cult status, and will fit perfectly on your DVD shelf in between Tremors and Shaun Of The Dead!
The film began shooting in Northern Ireland on November 29, 2010, through freak winter weather conditions that included extreme gale force storms and blizzards. It was the harshest winter in Ireland in over a hundred years.
The film was completed in February of 2011 and spent the remainder of the year in post-production, completing its extensive VFX.
Grabbers was released nationwide in Ireland on August 10, 2012, and has finally made it to the US where you can see it right now On Demand!

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A gorgeous poster by Ghoulish Gary Pullin.

After a dozen or so dead whales wash up on the shore of a quaint and remote Irish island, Officer O’Shea and his new straight-laced young partner Lisa start to investigate other strange happenings in the generally quiet island.
Soon the residents of Erin Island start showing up drained of blood and decapitated. With the help of Dr. Smith and a hilariously intoxicated local lobsterman, they find the remains of a tentacled beast that seems to be rejuvenated with water and repelled by alcohol.

tumblr_mq7dxaqgOa1qctd9yo1_500Convinced that the only way to stay alive is to get everyone on the island completely drunk, O’Shea rounds up the citizens and leads them to the local pub to wait out the storm.
Everyone gets totally sloshed, and the effort to fight off the creatures by drinking makes for some hilariously twisted shenanigans in the second half of the film!
According to IMDB, writer Kevin Lehane was backpacking across the world and being bit by mosquitoes, he heard the urban legend that eating Marmite (a vitamin B rich yeast spread) prevents mosquito bites. Hearing that he wondered whether mosquitoes also got hungover from drunk people’s blood.
The thought stayed with him until he returned home and wrote the script for Grabbers based on the premise ‘get drunk to survive’.

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The cinematography is surprisingly attractive in places.
The monsters are pure B-movie fodder, all squirming tentacles and sharp teeth. They are exceptionally well-realized considering the film’s meager financial resources. Of course the computer-generated aliens never truly convince but that’s not really the point.
It is the character moments that work the best for the film, but the clever creature sequences still more than hit their mark.  tumblr_mq92api0uk1qzgskgo2_500tumblr_mq92api0uk1qzgskgo1_500tumblr_mq92api0uk1qzgskgo4_500Overall, Grabbers is the kind of goofy, inspired horror comedy I would love to see more of!
A fun and surprisingly scary original flick full of tentacles and alcohol!
What is not to love?
Check out the trailer below, and rent the movie now!
You wont be sorry!
Grade : B

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The Zombie Autopsies: To be adapted by George A. Romero!

George Romero's Diary Of The Dead

George A. Romero is a name any fan should have logged into their horror repertoire.  With his cult classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), he launched his career as a director and writer and became known to the world as the King of Zombies. His movies have seen mixed reviews from fans and critics, but one thing’s for certain: over the years the “Dead” films in his arsenal of horror movies have set the framework for the modern day zombie obsession that has swept the nation! Naturally, even when Walking Dead first premiered on AMC, Romero was asked to direct some of the episodes, but he turned it down due to a lack of connection with the story despite reading the graphic novel.

So, since Romero had turned down Walking Dead, fans have been wondering what he’s been up to the past few years. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anything from the King of the Dead, with his most recent film being Survival of the Dead (2009), but Romero purists and Zombie fans will be pleased to hear he has been working on a new project! Teaming up with friend, Steven Schlozman, author of The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse, Romero has taken up the task of adapting this page-turner to the big screen!

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The novel itself would appeal to zombie fanatics who enjoy zombie lore just for the heck of it. It is a relatively short read, I finished it in around a day after picking it up and putting it down several times throughout. Schlozman is an actual medical doctor as well as an avid horror fan, so the book reads almost exactly as a medical journal would. However, if you’re worried about not being able to understand it, Schlozman wrote it in a manner that anyone who finds the journal would be able to perform the autopsies (lucky us!). The invaluable information contained within these pages makes it a necessary addition to the bookshelf, right next to Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z.

The Zombie Autopsies follows the self-sacrificial tasks of character Dr. Blum, a neurodevelopmental biologist, and his team of researchers to a research facility on an island. It is there the team performs autopsies on No Longer Human subjects infected with Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome(ANSD)- in other words- they’re the flesh eating, mindless zombies we’ve come to know and love. The autopsies are extremely detailed, contain plenty of medical jargon that makes us nod and mutter “makes sense” and comes with deliciously beautiful and macabre autopsy drawings as Dr. Blum and his team race to find the cure for ANSD.

Romero has yet to take on a story like this and it’s exciting to see what his creativity will be able to nurture from it. In an interview with io9, Romero commented on the film,

“This is Steve’s story, not mine. It’s more like The Andromeda Strain. It’s very tense and very medically correct. This guy’s a doctor, it’s all about being medically correct. I think about it like the first Hammer Frankenstein film, which was all about very graphic scenes of brains floating in blood and things like that. I want it to be perfectly accurate, almost shockingly so.”

Good news for horror fans! Romero has never been one to skimp out on the gore and the Zombie Autopsies certainly leaves plenty of room for shock value as well as an intense storyline. A release date has yet to be announced for the movie.



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Review : The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh

416904_258453500904910_1119559100_nThe Last Will and Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is a film that gives us horror fans hope amongst the onslaught of remakes and re-imaginings we are faced with these days. Written and directed by long-time Rue Morgue editor Rodrigo Gudino, this outstanding debut film is enough to remind us all why we still believe in our beloved genre.

941178_443911412369744_2077702759_nIt is a slow-burning, quiet film from the start, as young artist Leon returns to his mother’s home following her unexpected death. The mood of isolation and loneliness is established quickly and expertly as he wanders through the dusty cluttered old house, to the voice of his dead mother, confessing “I leave everything to the only person in my life, you.”

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The mood is consistently striking as Leon explores the old house, finding more odd things the more he looks around. He learns that his mother has purchased everything he has ever created. He finds that she was deeply involved in something bizarre, some kind of cult of angels. Some kind of “sick animal” scratches at a locked door that has no key. Things are slowly revealed to be not what they
Leon’s mind seems to be slowly unraveling.

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The use of sound is effective and jarring throughout the film, particularly a sequence near the middle of the film where Leon follows the deliberate trail left to him, enabling him to communicate with the dead. As he (and the audience) listen to a hypnotic voice-over via cassette tape, urging us to clear our minds and let go of everything, to tune to the right frequencies, the film shifts into an even more uneasy tone where we are not sure what is real anymore.

The feelings of uneasiness and isolation delicately explode during the film’s third act, which poses more questions than it answers. The creep factor is amped up to nearly unbearable levels in the films climactic scenes, which feature some genuinely disturbing images that are sure to stick with you long after seeing the film.

rosalind3The film seems to be saying that everything is fragile.
Faith, reality, and especially human beings.
A deeply sad and emotionally honest horror film about loneliness and the fragility of it all is just what we need in the genre right now.
See this movie as soon as you can, for a breath of fresh air and an experience you wont soon forget.
Grade : A
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A special guest review of the new film “Jug Face”!

Hi everyone!
Today we have a special guest review of the new film Jug Face, by director Chad Crawford Kinkle.
Horror Homework regular and published author Shane BerryHill has submitted his early review for your consideration. It sounds like a must-see to me.
What do you guys think?
Be sure and check out the author of the following review on Twitter, and his novel Skinwalkers, which is reviewed in this link!

JUG FACE, the latest film from Modercine (The Woman, Ghoul), transcends its low budget, genre roots by delivering great visuals, sterling performances, and a story that’s as steeped in Shirley Jackson and William Faulkner as it is grindhouse cinema.

 Secrets are the engine that drives the drama and death slicing a bloody swath through JUG FACE: the incestuous love affair between young, doe-eyed Ada and her brother; the pregnancy that results; the rustic, separatist cult serving as Ada’s friends and family; the muddy “Pit” that serves as the dark, Lovecraftian god they worship; the lottery of flesh it demands; and lastly, Ada’s cover up when she and her unborn child are chosen.  But rather than provide us with characters and situations we’re allowed to dismiss outright, first-time writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle’s film challenges his audience’s preconceptions regarding love, faith, family, and the cycle of life and death.

 

While Ada’s secret affair is one of incest, it is also one of true love—or at least the closest proximity the circumstances she was born into allow her. And although Ada’s father (played masterfully by horror alum Larry Fessenden) serves up the human sacrifices offered the Pit, again and again his character defies stereotype to show love and mercy where his daughter is concerned. Finally, as horrific as the religion of the Pit might at first seem, one cannot help but hear echoes of Job 1:21, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” in the Pit’s one true doctrine: “The Pit wants what it wants.”

If secrets (courtesy of Kinkle’s fine script) are the engine of JUG FACE, the film’s actors are its high octane gasoline.  Newcomer Lauren Ashley Carter and veteran actress Sean Young are dynamite as Ada and her abusive mother, respectively. The scene where Young’s character “tests” Ada’s alleged virginity is the most tension-filled within the movie, and there’s not a murderous, evil god in sight. But it’s not all about melodrama. The fact that you likely won’t remember the character of “Pyer” after the film is a testament to the normally glamorous Katie Groshong’s ability to commit to the role and disappear within the guise of an Appalachian Luddite.  To those familiar with Modercine films past, it will come as no surprise that the standout performance of JUG FACE belongs to Sean Bridgers (HBO’s Deadwood) as the Pit’s idiot savant oracle, Dawai. Bridgers’ brilliant portrayal of the bumbling Dawai catapults a role meant to serve merely as comic relief into that of the movie’s heart and soul.

This is not to say the movie doesn’t have its imperfections. While Kinkle carries on the Spielbergian tradition of not-showing-the-monster (and thus wisely allows the audience’s boundless imagination to do the heavy lifting), the scenes in which the Pit awakens are clearly plagued by issues of budget. The film’s F/X further test the audience’s suspension of disbelief during scenes in which the ghost-like “shunned” make appearances. But these problems are forgivable and ultimately fail to detract from the film’s well constructed atmosphere of dread.

I could go on and discuss how Kinkle uses color scheme and composition in JUG FACE to enhance theme and remind us how intricately linked life and death truly are (In one scene, we see an overhead shot of the Pit, the bringer of death, its waters red, a wooden stump at its apex. The set up is clearly meant to evoke images of a menstruating female sex, the bringer of life, and reinforce the problems facing Ada). But I’ll end by saying JUG FACE and its Pit are a fresh, welcome incarnation of a most ancient truth represented in fiction and film by everything from Melville’s monstrous whale, Moby Dick, to No Country for Old Men’s ruthless killer, Anton Chigurh: we’re all going to die, and there is no escape.

An official selection of the 2013 Slamdance, Dead by Dawn, and Little Rock Horror Picture Show Film Festivals, JUG FACE is slated for Video-On-Demand release this July, followed by a national theatrical rollout. To learn more, visit jugfacethemovie.com.



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Full report from Evil Dead Fest, including a spoiler-filled review of the remake!

Thursday night this week was a real treat!
About a month ago or so, I let you guys know about an awesome Evil Dead marathon at the historic Westwood Regency Theatre, screening the original films in 35mm, and leading up to the premiere of the highly anticipated remake.
What you are reading now is a quick rundown of the festival, to be followed by my spoiler-filled review of the new film. So, if you haven’t seen the flick yet, you might want to stop reading after the part about Army Of Darkness. Fair warning.

The experience as a whole was a great one!
Spending an evening in a comfortable historic theater filled with like-minded people, watching some of my favorite movies, has to be one of the best feelings ever. At the very least, it sure beat working…
After fighting the traffic into LA for what seemed like forever, we finally made it to the Westwood, and they had really gone all out with this, certainly exceeding my expectations.

Although the press material from Westwood mentioned that they would have props on display from the films and special guests, I had no idea how much cool stuff they had planned for the legion of Evil Dead fans that showed up last night.
Some really awesome rare items!

The original script for “The Evil Dead”, 1979

The Book Of The Dead, and other original props.

Original concept art.

A collection of variant posters.

Classic action figures by Todd McFarlane.

More props, including Ash’s severed hand and chainsaw!

The original Evil Dead was presented beautifully in 35MM, and the theatre set the old-school tone for the evening with classic ads and promos, including trailers for other 80’s classics like Frankenhooker, Basket Case, and Big Trouble In Little China (Click the links to see them. Just watching that trailer for BTILC last night made me want to see this one again soon)!
The mood in the theater was excited and giddy, as we watched Bruce Campbell get tortured. Of course, the striking thing about that film is the inventiveness of it all. Just looking at some of the camera angles chosen, and the creativity that went into the practical gross-out effects is just incredible.
It is no wonder Sam Raimi has gone on to such big things, although I prefer his smaller films like A Simple Plan, The Gift, and Drag Me to Hell much more than Oz or Spider-Man 3.
That being said, you can easily spot his talent in this insane flick from 1980.
the real treat was the Q&A after the first film, where they brought out Sarah York, Betsy Baker, and Ellen Sandweiss, the original scream queens of the Evil Dead. They seemed genuinely amused to be “old ladies” who found themselves suddenly popular for a film they did over 30 years ago. It was a fun chat, and the theater was handing out Blu-rays and posters to the fans brave enough to grab a mic and sally forth with a question.
Very cool.

The Ladies of Evil Dead.

Next up was Evil Dead 2 : Dead By Dawn, and anyone who knows me knows it is my “go-to movie”. Any time the real world is getting me down, I just pop in my trusty collector’s edition and escape into that world for a while. One of the first posts I ever wrote for this site was simply a list of 5 reasons Evil Dead 2 always makes me happy.
The 35MM presentation was gorgeous. Obviously, I have seen this film many, many times, but never on the big screen, and I was happy to notice some small details that never really came through on the TV set, no matter what the size.


It was a great experience, and once again, the crowd was electric with excitement, everyone laughing loudly and shouting lines. And here I thought I was the only one who knew this film by heart…
After the film, more surprise guests were brought down from the balcony, none other than Scott Spiegel and Ted Raimi!

Ted was particularly energetic, and this trio mostly talked about the effects work, and had some interesting anecdotes about the time Ted spent in the “Henrietta” costume. Ted refused to answer any questions about Evil Dead 4, but talked at length about the fun time they had making these films, and the 4 (!) characters he played in Army Of Darkness.
It was an interesting and informative behind the scenes chat.

Next up was Army Of Darkness, of course, and it really proved to be the crowd favorite!
Everyone was applauding and cheering all through the show, and the laughs were huge.
I haven’t sat down and watched this one for a few years, and it proved to be just as fun as it ever was, and the pace of it is just insane!
The momentum of this flick is unstoppable, one ridiculous predicament after another.
A true cult classic.
Unfortunately there were no guests to talk about after AOD, but they did have a pizza party in the lobby!

I know I know, get on with the remake review already!
From this point on, there will be possible spoilers for the film, which is getting it’s wide release today. So, turn back now if you are spoiler-sensitive, and come back later after you see the flick and let’s discuss it in the comments then!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Turn back now!

Evil Dead (2013)

Here’s a spoiler :  A bunch of kids go to a cabin in the woods and get killed off one by one.

A concept that has been done to death in the horror genre, ever since Sam Raimi burst on to the scene with the original Evil Dead in 1981. I thought this premise would have been exhausted long before now, but we all got a big surprise with Cabin In The Woods last year, which proved that more could be done with that deceptively simple concept.

The rally cry of the horror fan has been “Fuck remakes!” for the last few years, and I am generally one of those people too. I was led to the dark side, however, from the outstanding trailer for this remake, reports of no CGI, and talk of producers Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi being very hands-on with this production.
As for remakes in general, we keep going to them, so they are going to keep making them. The best we, as fans, can do is to choose which ones to support.

The Evil Dead remake is one of the rare good ones. The very definition of the ridiculous term “re-imagining”, remake director Fede Alvarez definitely took inspiration from the original, and turned it into his very own creation. The current remake trend (thanks a lot, Rob Zombie!) is to try and humanize the monster, which ruins everything, as we saw earlier this year with the preposterous Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Thankfully, Mr. Alvarez doesn’t waste our time trying to make us feel bad for the Deadites because they had stripper moms and drunk step-daddies…

Is it “The most terrifying film you will ever experience”, like the poster promises?
Nope.
Is it dark, violent, and creepy?
Yes!

The gore effects are incredible, and truly disgusting, and the whole atmosphere and tone of the film are incredibly dark and foreboding, right from the excellently creepy opening scene, where a girl tied to a beam begs for her life as her own father sets her on fire.

After that impressive set piece, we are introduced to our marks, as they head out for a weekend at the same cabin. Here is the major problem I have with the film, and it is possible that my opinion would be different if I had not just watched the three originals just before, so take it with that grain of salt.
But I think it is a pretty huge misstep.

You see how I described them above as “marks”?
That is the big difference between the originals and the remake.
In the original and sequel, Ash was headed to the remote cabin in search of a romantic weekend, and beset upon by sadistic evil forces. As goofy as it gets, Bruce Campbell fucking sold that character. That is why the originals are so popular.
Sure, everyone loves the gore effects and the funny set pieces of the classic films, but without Bruce Campbell’s physical comedy skills and deadpan line delivery, you have a completely forgettable film. I promise you that.

The characters in the new film are at the cabin for a completely different reason.
A group of old friends has dragged their spoiled brat junky friend out to the middle of nowhere to force her to detox. The main character, Mia, is a major turn-off. A snotty, self-righteous dope fiend with no respect for the people trying to help her.
I hated her from the get go, and that is what I think is going to keep this film from even coming close to the cult status of the first films.
Once those frisky trees finally get up the nerve to start rapin’, however, the Deadite version of Mia is effectively creepy.

It doesn’t help that the rest of the group are poorly characterized stereotypes that you will be hard-pressed to give a shit about as well.
I mean, I know someone has to open the book and say the words in order to progress the plot, but why the hell would you a) open and unwrap a book bound in barbed wire?
b) ignore everything written inside said book that promises death and demise to anyone who reads it?
c) make rubbings from the book and read the words aloud as you do so?

There is no explanation for that character’s actions other than curiosity, and I think maybe if the film had shown him struggling a bit with the tempting decision to read the book, it would have worked better. As it is, he just comes off as an idiot, and you just end up looking forward to seeing how he dies.

After the evil is unleashed by this moron, the film really takes off and is definitely a fast-paced gory ride. The character of Mia is much more likeable when she is possessed by a demon, and she goes about torturing her ex-friends with sadistic glee.

The hype is definitely no BS; the gore effects are all convincing and top-notch, some of them really make me squirm!

All in all, the 2013 version of Evil Dead is above average, and absolutely worth a watch.
It is a well-made piece of gory horror cinema, made by a crew that clearly love the genre. I honestly can’t wait to see what director Fede Alvarez has in store for us in the future, after he hones his skills on these remakes. I read that a sequel was already green-lit for this film, and am curious to see where he takes it from this point.
According to this interview with AintItCoolNews, he intends to take the sequel in a different direction to stay true to the spirit of the original series.
When asked, “Are you taking the original three films as kind of a template for the sequels, then? So, the next won’t feel the same as this first movie?”, he says :

“Exactly. It has to be. The next one has to be completely different. It’s the only reason to do it. You have to be faithful to the spirit of these things. Every Evil Dead movie is quite different from the previous one. They never repeat the formula. That’s been the doom of a lot of horror movies in the past.
That’s why I think Alien is an amazing saga. Every movie changed genre and tone. They don’t repeat the same thing twice. Something that I think Sam did (with the remake)… he wanted to have a filmmaker take an independent approach to the creation. What I like about the Alien movies is they are all “auteur” movies. They are reflections of their directors.”

Sounds interesting, but you will never be able to top my all time favorite movie, Dead By Dawn!
However, I look forward to seeing you try, Mr. Alvarez…
Get out and see this movie this weekend, freaks, and log back in here and let’s talk about it!
Recommended.
Grade : B

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In Memoriam: Jess Franco

Yesterday, the horror and exploitation communities suffered a great loss. Jess Franco is probably one of the most versatile directors and writers that I, personally, have written about. The man made almost every type genre of movie imaginable in his lifetime, his final work being Al Pereira vs the Alligator Women. It is unknown if the movie is finished or not though at the moment of his untimely death.

Franco was born in Madrid, Spain on May 12th, 1930. He was a Spanish film director, writer, cinematographer and actor whom got his big break on 1961 with the cult classic The Awful Dr. Orloff. He also gained American box office success with movies like Necronomicon ,Ninety-Nine Women, The Bloody Judge and Count Dracula. Despite not gaining commercial success, he directed over 100 films.

James also got the tag of being an adult film director due to the amount of nudity in his films. If he began to release X-rated films, his career would go down commercially until he returned back into low-budget horror flicks. In 2004, he released an autobiography entitled Memorias del tío Jess. 

Franco passed away April 2nd, 2013, a little over a year after his wife, Lina Romay, passed away.of cancer. He was 82 years old, and the cause of death is unknown at this time. His passing was announced on his Facebook page by Kike Mesa, who directed 2007’s Jess Franco: Way of Life.

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