Cenobites Who Write, Part 1 : Barbie Wilde’s The Venus Complex

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Best known for her nerve-wracking role in Hellbound : Hellraiser 2 as the menacing Female Cenobite, Barbie Wilde has gone on to cement her status in the horror world as a prolific author.
Her short story Sister Cilice, first seen in 2009’s Hellbound Hearts anthology, was an insightful look into the origin of her iconic film character.
First released by Comet Press in 2012, her controversial novel The Venus Complex is a beautifully-written and insightful look into the mind of an artistic and sadistic killer. Banned by the Edmonton Public Library earlier last year, the book is a must-read for fans of crime fiction, or anyone who has ever wanted to understand what exactly is going on behind the mask of sanity presented to the world by “likeable” serial killers such as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.

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Written in a “secret journal” format, the story of The Venus Complex follows the life and unfiltered thoughts of art professor Michael Friday as he recovers from a tragic accident and rebuilds his life.
Professor Friday is the handsome professional that hides many dark secrets from the world. He lives a fascinating dual life, reminiscent of recent literary serial killers like Dexter and Patrick Bateman, wearing the “mask of sanity” that never betrays his diabolical inner imaginings.
In fact, one of the earliest revelations into just how disturbed he may be is the fact that the automobile crash that wounded him and killed his wife was not exactly an accident.
As his recovery progresses, and through candid confessions to his journal, Professor Friday is revealed to us as a smart and observant budding serial killer.
The matter-of-fact way he looks at his life and the world we all inhabit have begun to poison his trains of thought (and give the readers some insightful social commentary), so he turns his focus to a young lady named Elene, a forensic psychologist who is employed at the same university.
Elene quickly becomes his obsession, and he turns the majority of his attention away from his disgust with modern society and focuses on her, his instant “soul mate”.
He finds himself unable to resist stalking and learning about her, and he quickly becomes an expert on the subject of Elene. He even tracks down an out-of-print book that she wrote about serial killers which provides him with the “moment of clarity” he has been searching for.
Spurred on by the insights he finds in his obssession’s book, our protagonist quite suddenly makes the decision to kill someone.
He writes in his journal :

I want…I need…to make a difference somehow. I cannot bear this dullness I feel, this unrelenting boredom with my existence. Maybe I should go out and kill someone. It would be the ultimate transgression, the ultimate high. The ultimate.

And, after passing that point of no return, the reader is taken along for the ride as Friday methodically plans and practices his new craft, which he refers to as “The Venus Complex”.
The novel races along with voyeuristic glee, as the reader is now made accomplice to Friday’s complicated plan. The journal style is greatly effective in making the reader feel complicit in his crimes, and has the strange effect of making us root for the “bad guy”!
The writing is tight and believable, chapters coming in varying bursts of rage and contemplation with each journal entry. Michael’s crimes become increasingly gruesome and he makes the precarious decision to assist in the criminal investigation of the case, which lead to some incredibly tense moments.
Michael Friday proves himself to be the ultimate professional in whatever he chooses to do, calm and cool even when his inner thoughts are screaming. He is a fascinating character in a great story, and this book is recommended reading for all of you fine students of Horror Homework!
Find “The Venus Complex” on Amazon.com here, and for more insights into the book check out my brief interview with Ms. Wilde below, but beware of some slight spoilers ahead for those of you who have not yet read the book!
Also stay tuned for Part 2 of “Cenobites Who Write” in the next few days, where we get to take a look at Other People’s Darkness, a new collection of short stories from the Chatterer himself, Nicholas Vince!

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I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Ms. Wilde, and asked her a few questions about The Venus Complex. Check out the short interview below!

HH : As a British woman, how did you manage to climb into the mind of a wholly-American male character? Your insights into a certain male pattern of thinking were amazing.

Barbie Wilde : Well, although I’m based in Europe, I’m actually Canadian. I grew up in Canada and then the United States (including Syracuse, NY, where the book is set), so I’ve met and known quite a lot of North American men. As far as my insights are concerned, I just did my research, not only into the thoughts of serial killers, but also into regular guys’ mindsets as well. I was lucky enough to have access to some very honest male friends who gave me their opinions on how men see the world.

HH : Some of Michael’s more radical ideas and rants make sense in a dark way, such as his frustrations with globalization and overpopulation. How much of yourself and your own beliefs went into these dark confessions?

Barbie Wilde : After I created the character of Michael, I was able to get into his head and follow his line of reasoning. It’s almost like an acting job, if you like. I certainly can understand Michael’s rage at the world, at the state of television, at injustice and stupidity.

HH : The “diary style” of the book was a great way to get inside the head of this character. Did you ever consider (or try) to write it from any other point of view?

Barbie Wilde : I actually began the book in the third person, concentrating on Elene, the character of the forensic psychologist. I thought that it would be interesting having a female character as the protagonist. However, after a while I got bored, to be honest. I wanted to do something different: to write a whydunnit, rather than a whodunnit. My interests had always been in the behavior and motivations of serial killers, so the idea of creating a “diary of a serial killer” was born.

HH : The equation of sex and pain as [not?] mutually exclusive is a big theme in the novel, and depicted in a matter-of-fact way that is not for the squeamish, but rings as honest and true. Why do you think so many people can’t separate the two?

Barbie Wilde : It seems all part of the peculiar design of human sexuality where sometimes the lines can get muddled. Even the act of loving sex can appear to be violent to the voyeur. And the sound of ecstatic sex can sometimes be confused with the sounds of murder, especially the sounds that are generated from the female of the species.

Human sexuality is unbelievably diverse and it’s a bit of a fallacy to think that we are all the same. It’s 360 degrees of desire. (Hey, that sounds like the title of my next novel!)

HH : I found Michael’s trains of thought to be fascinating and well-considered. He was a true professional of his chosen field(s). Will we be seeing more of his continued work in the future?

Barbie Wilde : A lot of readers have asked me that. I will be writing a sequel sometime in the future.

However, at the moment, I’m working on a screenplay of a short story of mine called Zulu Zombies, which appeared in Gorezone #29, as well as the Bestiarum Vocabulum Anthology (published by Western Legends Press). I’m also working on the play version of Sister Cilice, which was my first short horror story about a Female Cenobite that appeared in the Hellbound Hearts Anthology, as well as co-writing a musical drama called Sailor, which is about love, loss and revenge, set in the ruins of post-War Marseille.

And finally, I’ve been approached to appear in an extraordinary and visually enthralling horror movie anthology called Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery and helmed by Bram Stoker Award-winning director James Hart. The first segment of their Kickstarter Campaign continues until the 31st of March, so please visit the website and give generously: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1227140694/bad-medicine-feature-film-anthology-first-segment

For more news, reviews and interviews, please go to: www.barbiewilde.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbie.wilde
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/BarbieWildeAuthorActress
Twitter: @barbiewilde

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Original Horror Shirts


Delirium magazine delivers the goods on Full Moon Studios!

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Billing itself as “the only film magazine made by filmmakers” the new bi-monthly print magazine Delirium is available now!
Edited by master horror journalist Chris Alexander (former columnist for Rue Morgue, and current editor of Fangoria and the newly-resurrected Gorezone), Delirium is a different kind of magazine.
Brought to us under the banner of Full Moon Pictures, this new periodical is meant to focus on the work and films of Mr. Charles Band.
A legend in the horror industry, Mr. Band is responsible for many of the classic Empire films of the early 80’s before forming Full Moon Studios and bringing us many new staples of the genre.
In fact, over the past four decades, Mr. Band has had his hand in hundreds of films of varying quality and relevance. The goal of this new magazine is much more than a simple advertisement for the works of Charles Band, it is a glossy look into the past and future of everything Band-related.

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The first issue smartly kicks off with an informative look back at the definitive cult classic Re-Animator, as you can see on the beautiful cover above.
The format of the magazine closely resembles the Rue Morgue layout from Alexander’s tenure, beginning with a brief editor’s note and a quick look at notable releases. News about the new web-series “Trophy Heads” and a re-release of the “ganja-version” of 1996’s “Head Of The Family” quickly leads into the Re-Animator coverage.
The articles include an insightful interview with director Stuart Gordon and a nice chat with scream queen Barbara Crampton (complete with stills of her assets). Capping it off with a look at the much-loved score by Richard Band and a fascinating serial memoir from Gordon himself, the Re-Animator coverage is informative and fun. Everyone seems to remember it fondly, and it is great to learn some inside information on the making of the classic film!

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Followed by an article called “The Birth Of A Director”, Alexander next interviews Douglas Aarniokoski about his experience in the movie industry. Known as the director of the new film Nurse 3D, as well as past experiences as an AD for Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi, Aarniokoski’s story is one of those great ones. A guy who loves movies just goes for it, and his hard work and dedication pays off. A very inspiring story!

Next, we get an inside look at Full Moon’s Wizard Studios imprint, which is designed to spotlight international indie filmmakers and give them a wide distribution through the new streaming service. They give us quick looks at three upcoming titles from the service, alongside quick chats with the creative people responsible for them.

A peek at the sequel for Killer Eye follows that, and a long and loving look at Stephanie Rothman’s 1972 film “The Velvet Vampire” which is one of many titles streaming under the Grindhouseflix label. In fact, the next article gives us quick synopses of a selection of titles also available to stream under the Blue Underground license. Some serious classics are on this list of exploitation flicks, including The Blood Spattered Bride, The Church, and Lamberto Bava’s directorial debut, Macabre.

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Things get wrapped up with a long and loving look back at Tourist Trap, and a final  thank you from Charles Band himself, reminiscing of the days of old Marvel Comics and the fond memories of “Stan Lee’s Soapbox”, where the readers were treated to a look inside the windows of the life of the creative person. This seems to be the mission of Delirium magazine : to take a long look back at the decades of work put in, and have a little fun doing it!

Over all, I very much enjoyed the first issue of Delirium, even though at some points it feels uncomfortably clear that it is essentially a 52-page advertisement for the films and services of Mr. Band. To be fair, however, the man has had a long and fascinating career in the horror industry, and it seems unlikely that Alexander and the other contributors to the magazine will run out of interesting stories any time soon!
Looking forward to the second issue, which will feature a close look at the great “Tombs Of The Blind Dead” series, and many more!
Subscribe to the magazine and peruse the unique Streaming Service here , and be sure to check them out on Facebook for updates and news about new and upcoming issues.

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Pilot review : From Dusk Till Dawn The Series

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During a recent chat about the seemingly unstoppable remake trend, a good friend of mine said, “This type of news doesn’t shock or upset me anymore. NOTHING is sacred. They are trying to turn out many untouchable classics like they’re just dirty old whores. It’s just a question of who chooses to do what and how well they pull it off.”
And she is right.
Now, calling the 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn” an untouchable classic may be a bit of a stretch for some of you, but to me that is what it is. I have some of the fondest memories of being 20 years old, on acid, experiencing that film for the first time alongside my best friend.
So, to me, this thing is untouchable. It was a unique and insane new take on the vampire legend, with some of my favorite performances from awesome people.
George Clooney, in my opinion, has never topped his role as Seth Gecko.
Tom Savini, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, so much to love!
And who could forget the first time they saw Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium?

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But this is about the show, not the film.
And by now, after countless remakes we should be able to seperate the two.
I know that no one can take away the original, so what can we say about this new version?

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First off, the question of who is doing the remaking has a unique answer.
Robert Rodriguez himself (director of the original film and many other favorites like Sin City and Planet Terror) is leading the charge for this new version.
In fact, he has created his very own television network El Rey where the show can be seen exclusively. The channel shows some great overlooked Grindhouse films and oddball Spanish shows, and From Dusk Till Dawn looks to be it’s first big selling point.

Rodriguez is quoted as saying, “I want El Rey to be everybody. I want it to be very inclusive. Instead of going to Hollywood where the doors are closed, mine is going to be where the doors are open. I’m going to flip the pyramid of power around outwards, where people all have a say, because that’s what you want.

In fact, the prolific creator is credited as director in the pilot episode, although I think he hands of the reigns to someone else after this first one.
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When the show was first announced several months ago, I immediately thought it could have great potential to continue the story. After one sequel and prequel that were pretty much related only in name, it would be exciting to see what happened next.
After that great lingering final scene of the huge temple behind the bar showed us the vampires had likely been feeding here for decades, there was huge potential to expand the mythology of these creatures.
Also, I always wondered what happened to Juliette Lewis’ character after Seth left her there, alone in the middle of nowhere. It made sense for Clooney’s character, but always left that lingering question : What was she supposed to do next???
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It seems we will never know what happened to her, as it turns out the new show is not a continuation, but a re-imagining of the story.
The series premiered last night, and will continue for the next ten weeks on the El Rey network, and on Netflix Streaming outside of the United States.
My overall thoughts of the show was that it was hit and miss. Some things worked, some not so much. First of all, the casting is interesting and stronger than expected.
Don Johnson is excellent in an expanded role as Earl McGraw, originally played hypnotically by the great Michael Parks. A character who died before the opening credits even rolled in the film, McGraw is seen here having breakfast with his partner, chatting about life and estimating how many days he has left.
Zane Holtz, replacing Quentin Tarantino as Richard Gecko the dangerous psychopath, is somewhat of an upgrade. He drips with psychotic tension, and seems much more imposing and dangerous right off the bat. It also seems that they are alluding that he has some sort of psychic connection with the vampires, which I am guessing will come into play sooner rather than later.
D.J. Cotrona, reviving George Clooney’s unforgettable role as the bad-ass, level-headed Seth Gecko doesn’t fare quite as well in my opinion. He spends a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom on his cell-phone with Carlos (Cheech Marin replaced by the “foreign kid” from That 70s Show, say what?) trying to find an easy way out of their predicament.
In fact the entire first episode takes place in Benny’s World Of Liquor, which only constituted the opening scene of the film.
The fast pace of the original store scene served as a quick introduction to these ferocious criminals and their plight, but this new version expands it and changes a few things. It still hits the same beats, just hangs on a bit longer and changes the tone.
Since I know the film by heart, I could see every tweak and pick up on every nuance. Of course, some worked and some didn’t. In fact, when it felt the weakest and most forced was when they were replicating lines directly from the film without even a change.
The “Be Cool.” proclamation lost effect here, but some of the reworked dialogue actually felt more natural and insightful.
The most interesting twist and significant change to the storyline so far is the character of , Earl McGraw’s partner, who didn’t exist previously. He is outside waiting in the car as Earl fatefully drains his lizard, and by the end of the premiere his character becomes a prominent part of the revamped story.
Overall, it is an interesting concept with some great potential, and I can’t wait till we get to return to the Titty Twister and see what the show can offer that could possibly compare to the pure chaos of the original.
I look forward to seeing this series through to the end, and what else Robert Rodriguez will be bringing to this unique new television network.
So what did you guys think of the new show?
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Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Movie review : The Seasoning House (2012)

933911_10151443621741344_1309589823_n Set in the midst of a brutal war in the Balkans in 1996, The Seasoning House is a film dripping with atmosphere. From the opening scenes set to the sounds of one girl weeping as another crawls through an air vent, we are forced to vicariously take part in the secret goings-on of a horrible place.

Seasoning_House-posterThe Seasoning House an old rickety place, filled with the spoils of war. Meaning a recurring supply of kidnapped young ladies who are forced to pleasure the weary soldiers who have most likely murdered their entire families.
“What ever life you knew is gone,” the girls are told as they arrive, and it proves to be sadly true.
Our main character is “Angel” a young birth-marked deaf-mute girl who somehow gets taken under the wing of the otherwise sadistic owner of the house, Viktor.
In order to keep herself under the radar of the housemaster and his lecherous guests, Angel scurries around through the walls, and performs the dirty jobs of shooting up the other girl’s with heroin and smearing their faces with makeup.

The-Seasoning-House1The first half is an unflinching look at the inner workings of this shameful rape house, and does the job of making the audience squirm. Angel does what she must to survive, as do the victimized women, but the monsters are real and they are horrible.
The atmosphere of filth and dread is almost unbearable.

Angel makes a connection with one of the girls, who happens to know sign language. Through flashbacks we see Angel’s abusive relationship with her own father, and her family torn apart for sport.

The-Seasoning-House-2-DIWhen her mother’s killer shows up at the House with a patrol of men on a break, Angel makes her move to try and save her friend and escape the House. It is a bloody turning point about halfway through the film. From then on we thankfully don’t witness any more rapey stuff, but the film follows Angel’s escape, which plays out something like “People Under The Stairs vs. The Military”. I mean that in a good way.

It is a complete tonal shift from the first half, as the resourceful young girl makes a sport of these militarized heathens. She is wonderful in the role, agile and smart and I found myself rooting for her escape whole-heartedly.

the-seasoning-houseThe film as a whole may be uneven, and the rapy-er parts might turn some viewers off, but all in all I found The Seasoning House to be an interesting and well-told tale.
Find it on DVD here, or catch it on Netflix Streaming!
Recommended.
Grade : B




Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?


Clive Barker : Imaginer

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Back in 2005, a hardcover collection of the artwork of the legendary Clive Barker was published under the title “Visions Of Heaven And Hell”. Now unfortunately out of print, it is a must own for any afficionado of the master of the macabre. I consider it one of my own prized possessions.
In the subsequent years, Mr. Barker has emerged as an amazing visual artist, something that many fans of his film and written work may not be as aware of. With the publication of his incredible Abarat series, each volume of which includes a staggering amount of beautiful paintings, he has proven himself to be as great a painter as he is a writer.
Some people just have it all, I guess!

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“I think of myself as somebody who is reporting from a world of dreams.”  -Clive Barker, interview for Barnes and Noble, Fall 2002.

Now, with the help of Kickstarter, we will be able to see a new collection of artwork from this living legend in the form of a new limited edition hardcover.
According to the Kickstarter page :

IMAGINER is the first comprehensive volume of the artwork of Clive Barker.  Featuring over 75 artworks and over 160 pages, the book will be a gorgeous large format of 10″ x 13″ inches.  There have been marginal explorations of Clive’s artwork in the past, but the most important part of this project is that the book is composed of entirely ALL NEW and ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION image captures.  The detail is impeccable, and Clive flatteringly declared the difference in detail of the new captures compared to previously printed ones like the difference between “chalk and cheese”.  (Which means they’re really, really good!)

The purest, most direct path from the raw creative mind of Clive Barker to our world is through his artworks.  We are in the process of exhuming and documenting a lifetime of genius; these artworks are the origin points of characters we recognize, and hold hints of stories yet to come.  We expect this first book to be the beginning of a series of volumes examining his work in great detail, and are also in the process of documenting his creative process on film for a documentary titled Clive Barker: Imaginer.

This is an art book of the highest quality, and is being created with the utmost attention to detail to present the artwork as though you were witnessing the paintings and drawings in person.

With a nice selection of incentives for backers and fans of Mr. Barker’s work, this book appears to be another must have from this huge inspiration!
Check out the Kickstarter campaign for more details!

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Movie Review : Contracted (2013)

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Contracted is definitely not a film for the squeamish.
Telling the slow burn story of Samantha, a young lady in modern Los Angeles with dreams of making it big, it is clear from the very beginning that it will not end well for her.

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After a drunken one night stand with a mysterious stranger, she begins to notice severe changes, many of which are ripped directly from our nightmares (and the films of David Cronenberg).
Samantha’s life is falling apart as her body deteriorates, and she does nothing but try to hide her degeneration from her friends and family.
Affected by what is essentially a sexually-transmitted version of a “zombie virus”, Samantha falls apart mentally and physically, with all of the grossest effects you can think of.

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Unfortunately, aside from Samantha, the supporting characters are fairly empty, including her “best friend” Alice, her experimental lesbian stereotype lover Nikki, and her obsessed stalker/suitor, Riley. Although this could be intentionally to satirize the vacuousness of the hip young L.A. crowd, it really hampers the believability of the characters and their motivations in the final chapters of the film.

What is effective is Samantha’s growing desperation as her body fights against her.
Her metamorphosis is the star of the movie, and the make up effects are well done, as she rots away and maggots fall from her girl parts.

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In a market buried in zombie releases, at least this film tries to give us a unique spin on it, and the paranoia and desperation of the main character’s degeneration is the thing that sticks with me most, more than a week after seeing the film.

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Although it veers from believability toward the end when Samantha begins to succumb to her primal zombie urges, the overall effect is a horrifying commentary on the choices we make and how they may come back to bite us in the end.

Grade : B
Recommended.

This film is now playing in select theaters, and available On Demand from several different options, including Amazon Streaming.
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Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?


Movie review — Would You Rather (2012)

933911_10151443621741344_1309589823_nAfter passing it up for a while now, I finally caught Would You Rather late last night.
The trailer looked interesting, and it does have Jeffrey Combs in a starring role as a sadistic philanthropist. Worth a shot, right?
So I went in, not really expecting much, but it turned out that I loved this mean-spirited subversion of the “torture porn” trend turning up in many current horror films.

would_you_rather_ver3_xlgThe story opens as Brittany Snow’s character Iris is job-hunting and struggling with bills and her very ill younger brother. After an unsuccessful interview, her mounting desperation leads her to accept an offer to join a dinner party from a mysterious benefactor (Combs), at the urging of her trusted doctor.
The subtlety of the film is striking, (and continues throughout, even as things get grislier) as Iris’ situation is painted in broad strokes, but it works very well. We don’t need to know everything about her (or the other characters, which are outlined just as loosely later), we only need to know she is a good-hearted person in need.
As the odd dinner party commences, Combs steals the show with his shifting mixture of forceful menace and feigned tenderness. His role as the generous father figure with a dark side is hypnotic to watch.

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I loved the minimalist style of the whole movie, which sounds odd given Jeffrey Combs’ over-the-top performance, but he injects a lot to his character in the quieter moments. He is clearly having such a good time that one can’t help resist feeling a certain amount of complicity with his sadistic game.

The game starts off simply enough, as the host treats Iris and a group of seven other guests to a lavish dinner spread. The first hint of things not being what they seem occurs as Combs amuses himself by tempting vegetarian Iris to eat her meat for $10,000 which she agrees to. He ups the stakes, and his gleeful sadism, when he offers another guest who is a recovering alcoholic the sum of $50,000 to drink an entire decanter of Scotch.

would-you-rather-2His point is that everyone has a price, and desperation can drive people to do things that they claim to be unable to. Any one is capable of any thing, and Combs’ character knows this. He continues to exploit it throughout the rest of the film, as the game gets progressively meaner and bloodier, and the other players get “eliminated”.

The film is mostly set in a single fancy dining room, creating a claustrophobic quality that makes the audience feel as helplessly trapped as its characters. The scenario escalates with each round of the game, and there are little to no hysterical outbursts, another thing that I appreciated about the story. Each character has their own reasons for being there, and they tend to react (mostly) reasonably given their predicament.

wyr5Obviously, there can only be one winner of the game, and the last scenes ratchet up the tension until it all ends with Combs giddily driving his point home. The final scene is one of the cruelest punchlines of an ending since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist.

I very much enjoyed this harsh low-budget game of chance, and I honestly am not a fan of most torture porn flicks. Jeffrey Combs has another memorable role to add to his already impressive resume, and director David Guy Levy is now on my radar for people to watch out for in the future. This one actually had a point (albeit a mean-spirited one) and was a well-done and effective watching experience, including one sequence that actually made this hardened gore geek squirm and look away!

Recommended!
Grade : B+

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Joe R. Lansdale enters the Black Labyrinth!

581049_319168734833386_212709402_nA new book from Joe R. Lansdale is always something to get excited about.
An author of some of the darkest, weirdest stories out there, he is an amazing talent and a great storyteller. I am a long-time fan of his work, and though you may not instantly recognize his name, you may know him by some of his more famous stories.

His novella Bubba Ho-tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” (one of my personal favorites) was adapted to film for Showtime’s “Masters of Horror.” He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero.

joe_r_lansdale_kickstarter_with_booksNow, the great people at Dark Regions Press are giving us fans a unique opportunity to produce and own a beautiful new edition of his next book. This will be the second book in what is being called the Black Labyrinth series.
The first in the series was “The Walls of the Castle” by Tom Piccirilli, and it has just been announced that one of the future books in the series will be a special edition of Clive Barker’s “The Midnight Meat Train”  It will be bound in alligator skin and will include special materials/writings and more created/based on the story.

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Here is what Joe has to say about the story for his upcoming Black Labyrinth novella:

“Currently working with Black Labyrinth to create a book of psychological horror, and well, a little bit of overt horror as well. It’s a novella, not a novel, but there will be plenty of room for shadow and sounds, for whatever it takes to scare a reader. What if there is a prison graveyard on an island for the worst of the worst. A place where the unclaimed go. Those who have been executed or died by disease or old age would end up on this island. Taken there by ferry in the middle of the night to be deposited in the ground like rotten rutabaga seeds. And what if on that island are two caretakers, a gravedigger and the ferry man. And with the remains of all that evil there in this dark, lost place in the middle of a great bubble of sea and wind and starry night sky, something goes way damn wrong.
And it isn’t at all what you think it is.”

These books are also being illustrated by an amazing artist, Santiago Caruso.
Mr. Caruso was born in 1982, in Quilmes, Argentina.
He is a symbolist and surreal artist, with an avant-garde concept but rooted in the nineteenth century´s decadentism.
He will create original color front cover artwork and four original B&W interior illustrations for Book II based on the story.

interior_illo_4_600pxJoe R. Lansdale’s Black Labyrinth Book II will be offered in ebook, trade paperback, Kickstarter exclusive trade paperback and three signed limited edition hardcovers. Find detailed information on each at the official kickstarter page for this project, along with other great incentives!
This is one kickstarter to get excited about!
Check it out, friends!

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The Haunted Casino – Drawing players in from the living and the dead.

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Everybody is familiar with the game of poker. With a bunch of people huddled around a table with the intent to deceive the others and go home with the pot, tensions are always flying high in a poker game. But imagine sitting there, having paid the last bills out of your pockets to play for a million dollars, and being so close to winning you can just taste it. Your opponent stares you down with a perfect poker face, and as he lays his hand down for everyone to see, your heart starts racing in your ears and you know that it’s the moment of truth, it’s do or die, and you either walk away from this broke, or a millionaire.

That’s what every poker player goes through at every poker game they play in. According to Betfair, the biggest win from a poker game went to Antonio Esfandiari — a pot of $18,346,673! With stakes that high, it’s no wonder people like Jack Straus have died while playing poker, and maybe the spirits of these players are still haunting the casinos they died in to this day.

Last year, a mediocre horror movie called “The Haunted Casino” was released in the US, and while it was nothing but cheap scare tactics and predictability, there are some haunted casino stories that will give you the chills.

WE00283One such story involves a young cashier working for a casino in Colorado. The town was already a hotspot for hauntings, with an old cemetery up a hill and a disastrous gold accident. The casino she was working in reportedly had cold spots all over, especially in the basement. There were no obvious explanations for these cold spots, and the cocktail waitresses would often observe them in various places throughout the casino.

haunted-casino-fundraiser-october-31-3.gifThe cashier and the other employees visited another casino for drinks after work sometimes, and the cashier was able to befriend some of the security guards. The guards told her the story of a little girl who could be seen through the casino’s security cameras, but not with the naked eye. As the story went, a little girl had been spotted in the casino’s security cameras, running around the halls. A security guard went to get her since children were not allowed in the casino, but he couldn’t see any children. The guard watching the cameras radioed to him telling him that he was standing right next to the girl, even though there was nobody there.

Maybe the child got lost and never found her away out of the casino, and her soul remains there to this day. Lots of bizarre things happen in casinos, so this doesn’t seem too far-fetched. The intensity of the poker and blackjack games that go on in these casinos are enough to draw the living in, and maybe even the departed still spend their days playing at these tables.

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Gallow Walkers 2012

Gallowwalkers_ss_r7My mother and I have this tradition, it’s called Friday Night Movies. Being the lucky daughter that I am, my mama has a thirst for horror flicks. My father and I also have our own movie tradition, except we watch Westerns instead of Horror flicks. I can honestly say, no one that I know was more excited than I was to see Gallow Walkers come to RedBox. Blade was one of my favorite Marvel characters growing up and seeing Wesley Snipes adapt his character on the big screen left me giddy with excitement. Besides, he even had the pleasure of working with Norman Reedus in Blade 2. I digress. So here we have Wesley Snipes, who originally started filming for the role in 2006 before he was arrested for tax fraud. He returns to the role, fresh outta the joint and back in one of his most beloved characters. Vampire Hunter. Even better yet? A vampire hunter set on a mother frenchin’ Western backdrop. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Finally something both my parents would agree on.

So let us begin with “Gallow Walkers (2012).”

The story begins with a sweeping view of the desolate, western mountains. Wesley Snipes narrates as he tells the story about a secret sisterhood of nuns that guard the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. Later in the movie it is revealed that Aman (Snipes), was the son of a nun who was forced to give him up after joining the convent. Or as he narrates- the gateway to hell is no place to raise a child.

snipesvestThe opening scene narrows on a young, impossibly blonde child as he works his way through a slaughterhouse/farm home carrying buckets of blood. Off in the distance there’s a lone rider. Snipes wearing a fabulous maroon vest and boasting some impressive dreadlocks, that approaches dragging a grotesque, red-headed corpse. The scene cuts to a mysterious older woman who, using a mighty large ax, decapitates the body. Wonderful opening that sets the scene for a great movie.

Snipes

It doesn’t stop there. There’s a scene where Snipes rips the head (with the spinal cord still attached) straight off of a poor guy’s shoulders, blasts people away with perfectly placed shots- it’s just amazing.

Wesley Snipes stars as a lone gunman Aman whose victims have returned from the dead, leaving him to hunt them for a second time. As the movie progresses, we meet the gorgeous Riley Smith (Fabulos) who is in a predicament with a curvaceous prostitute with exceedingly bad luck played by Tanit Phoenix (Angel). These two, along with other arrestees are tied up and awaiting transit to the gallows, which means it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase some good ol’ western gunslinging skills. From a mile away atop of a rock with his pistol, Aman shoots down the lawmen, Fabulos takes cover and only by pure intuition holds up his shackles as a target- Aman blows them apart. Seeing his chance to escape, Fabulos jumps on a horse and races to catch up with his mysterious savior while poor Angel is left with a pouty face and sigh saying “What’s a girl gotta do to get rescued around here?”

FabulosFabulous catches up with Aman, and being the vague and mysterious gunman of the west, he offers no explanation other than the offer of a job. Brought to an undisclosed house in the middle of nowhere, Fabulos is tricked and falls through a trap door where he encounters- for the first time, Gallow Walkers. Aman is tests Fabulos’ skill with the gun, and the handsome young rider clearly passes. Slowly it is revealed why Aman needs his help.

Spoilers incoming!

We all know Wesley Snipes can act, but there is a monologue where he reveals a story about a boy who was given up by a mother and adopted by a woman who ran a slaughterhouse. For those who want to roll their eyes at this scene at how cheesy it sounds, it is done this way on purpose- I assure you.

GallowWalker Production StillContinuing on with the story. The young woman also had a daughter. As with all good westerns, this is a story about love. The Boy was Aman, and the daughter, her name was Sueno (played by Alyssa Pridham). The tale takes a tragic twist when the boy- now a young man leaves with his adopted mother to sell the meat from their latest butcher. While he was away, the antagonist, Kansa (Kevin Howarth) along with his gang of outlaws and his son come upon the house. Kansa forces his son (barely a man) to rape Sueno. During this scene, we see flashes of the red-headed decapitatee from the beginning, and several other familiar faces that Aman has been cleaning up and killing thus far.

gallowwalkers-evil-womanKansa and his gang of vampire/zombie/undead whathaveyou’s have a problem with keeping the skin on their flesh. So much to our delight, there are vivid scenes of victims being skinned for their…well, skin as Kansa wanders in search of the sisterhood in order to resurrect his son. For reasons unbeknownst to him, while all of the others in his gang came back from the dead, his son was left as a corpse. He wants answers, and he’ll stop at nothing to get them. Unless Snipes has something to do with it of course.

I won’t give the rest of the film away, but I’ve seen some pretty harsh reviews out for Gallow Walkers and I had to intercede. Those reviews were written with the expectation that it was supposed to be a straight up horror/thriller. I was shocked, much the same when I saw awful reviews about Cabin in the Woods 2012. The people who wrote those reviews didn’t understand what type of films like these were supposed to be.

1716544440The movie should not be viewed by the horror fan with the expectation of something dreadfully scary and shocking. It plays as more of a dark comedy feeding off of a playful western stereotype, with plenty of blood and guts for the gore lovers. The special effects makeup in this film was phenomenal, undoubtedly due to the skills of Brian Hillard from Tatopoulos Studios and Paul Hyett on as part of the crew. It is meant to be cheesy, it’s meant to seem over the top. You’re supposed to laugh at it, roll your eyes and go “unfreakin’believable,” and as far as the story goes I thought it was well written and enjoyable to watch.

I give this film an A.

It was awesome, go watch it, it’s currently out at RedBox, it’s only a $1.29, it won’t kill you. :]

Watch the Trailer here!

 

Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

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