Mickey Keating’s Offseason

“Isolation Breeds Horror.” Indeed it does, and a recent example of this in cinema is Mickey Keating’s new film, Offseason. Starring Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Jeremy Gardner, Richard Brake and Melora Walters, the film is an exploration of tropical southern gothic isolation Horror. Offseason hit VOD last Friday – a $6.99 rental on Prime and is playing in arthouse theatres around the country. Here’s what we thought.

Also this episode, Anthony watches monster movies with his son and finishes the Horror Space Opera game Valfaris on his Switch, and Shawn and Ray talk suggest where newcomers to New Wave French Horror begin with Shudder’s recent addition of a large part of the movements most notable films.

Deep Sea Cineray

Let’s take a deep dive today, fiends! Today’s double feature is all about monsters from deep down in the ocean. In my opinion, today’s double feature entries broke the ground for a film like last year’s Underwater to be made. That’s right, deep-sea diabolists, today’s double feature is Deep Star Six and Leviathan

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Cineray Explores Strange Connections in this literary Double-Feature

Hey there fiends, today’s Cineray recommendations are going to seem bizarre together. Both were released in the last year, and they are going to seem completely unrelated at first. And yet, therein lies the power of this double feature. You see, both films have surprise twists at their conclusions that tie them together. That’s right, today’s recommendations are Underwater and Castle Freak

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First Episode of 2021!

We talk Part for of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Love & Monsters, HBO’s Heaven’s Gate documentary, Fingers, Alex de la Iglesia’s 30 Coins, our favorite characters from John McTernan’s Predator, what we love and hate about Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead, and what movies will be a better dose of Ninja action than 1983s Samurai Christmas Horror film Blood Beat (here’s a hint – the titles all contain the word “Ninja.” Oh, and a lot more!

Cineray Goes Fishing

Hey, there horror fiends! Today I am going to recommend a couple of movies with monsters. But not just any monsters. Nope, today I am recommending two films that feature monsters from the briny deep. No sharks, octopus, or Cthulhu either, although watch for the future on the later. No, today we are watching two movies that feel like sequels of each other. Today’s fishy Cineray recommendations are Creature from the Black Lagoon directed by Jack Arnold and Humanoids from the Deep directed by Barbara Peeters. 

First up is Creature from the Black Lagoon, a classic tale of a forgotten monster and the explorers who have found him. The Gill Man, as the creature is known, is a creature who has evolved from fish over millennia hidden away in the Amazon undiscovered. When a fossilized fin with claws that looks a lot like a human hand with webbing is found, Dr. Carl Maia enlists the aid of his friend and former student Dr. David Reed to help along with Reed’s boss Dr. Mark Williams and Reed’s colleague and girlfriend Kat Lawrence in finding more fossils. What they find is more than they bargained for in the living Gill Man. Before they know it, the monster has killed members of their party. He also has taken an interest in Kay, and they resolve to leave. But the Gill Man traps them, and they must protect Kay and themselves from the murderous creature. 

It may seem like a cliched story, but that’s because this is the film that originated this particular trope. Movies like Rogue, Anaconda, or even Aliens, to an extent, have borrowed the “explorers caught by a monster and desperately try to escape” story from this film. And as the story in those films progresses, so too does Creature from the Black Lagoon. The monster’s attraction to a human woman is not all that original even in 1954, but where the motives of the Gill Man’s interest in Kay in this film are not explained but only hinted at, the monsters’ motives in Humanoids from the Deep are very clear. 

Humanoids from the Deep has all that you can want from a monster movie: a great monster and lots of monster attacks. The film starts with fishermen being attacked by an unseen creature, which causes an accidental explosion that kills everyone. At the fishing village in Noyo, California, the explosion is ruled an accident. A company named Canco is moving forward with their plans to open a cannery in the town while attacks on people near the water intensify. In each attack, the men are killed and mutilated while the women are attacked and raped by the humanoid fish creatures. As the time for the town’s annual festival approaches, a villager named Jim and Canco scientist Dr. Drake deduce what is happening and fear the attacks are about to get much worse. 

This film has a great monster, and the effects and action are excellent. The monster looks like an evolution of the Gill Man, with longer arms, larger fangs, and much more prominent fins. It’s all practical, and there are several monsters. They also do not choke their victims to death; they mutilate what they kill. 

The movie is thin on characters, but it has many monster attacks, which is exactly what you want in a monster movie. This movie plays to its strengths. The monsters are also a lot more clear in their intentions for the women. They are here with a strong biological compulsion to assert themselves by reproducing with women and killing men. The ending also has a twist that has since been copied. 

Finally, I think I picked these films because they are fun. Creature from the Black Lagoon may be my favorite of the Universal Monster movies. The Gill Man is so clear in his intention, and the movie moves so well. These men have invaded his territory, and he is going to assert himself and take their woman. And Humanoids from the Deep follows in that tradition and includes a critique on science. Creature from the Black Lagoon is available for rent on all the usual streaming services, while Humanoids from the Deep is free on Prime and Shudder and Tubi and Shout TV if you can stand the ads that will run during the film. 

NEW Episode: The Shed, Random Acts of Violence and A Helluva Lot More!

This episode, Tori, Ray, Anthony, and Shawn meet back up on Zoom to discuss The Shed and Random Acts of Violence, both recent additions to Shudder’s streaming service. Also, Anthony reviews The Barge People and Tori Impetigore! From there the discussion ranges from whether or not Nick Cage was the right man for Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, HBO’s Lovecraft Country and Raised By Wolves, and really, a helluva lot more.

Show Notes: As we mention on the episode, we’re in the final days to back Vincent DiSanti’s upcoming Friday the 13th Fan Film Never Hike in the Snow (You can support the IndieGoGo campaign for the next 8 days HERE, campaign trailer below:

Also, this episode we finished with what we are most looking forward to coming up; here’s the trailers for everything we talk about in that Coming Attractions section:

A Most Horrible Library

by Shawn C. Baker

Vault Comics’ The Plot

I am of the ilk that believes comic books can be literature. There are the obvious entries into that argument, graphic novels by authors like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughn, etc. But those iconic, high-water mark novels didn’t just change the fabric of the comic book industry; they influenced a subsequent generation of creators to follow suit. This influence is especially apparent in Horror Comics. In recent years there has been a surge in high concept Horror titles. Many of these find a home with independent publishers that don’t carry the same weight as institutional companies like Marvel or DC. Even Image and Dark Horse, as big as they are, put out titles I’m always surprised go largely unnoticed. It will be the goal of this column to try and expose some of those titles. 

I thought for this first entry in A Most Horrible Library, I would start things off with a book currently on the stands.

Title: The Plot

Author: Tim Daniel and Michael Moreci

Artist: Joshua Hixson

Publisher: Vault Comics’ Nightfall Line

Vol. 1 TPB available 7/01/20 (collects issues 1-4)

Issue 5 also available 7/01/20

During a recent re-read of Grady Hendrix and Will Erickson’s Paperbacks From Hell, I realized that Ancestral Horror had become something of a lost sub-genre. Perhaps ‘lost’ is a touch melodramatic; there have been some considerably successful examples in recent years. Crimson PeakThe Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are all rooted in Ancestral Horror. I’m even of the mind you could argue that Ari Aster’s Hereditary fits into the genre. But as the past has become less important to our society, the ‘sins of our fathers‘ plot device has likewise lost its power to horrify us. That said, it wasn’t all that long ago that religion’s faltering grip on our hearts and minds appeared to banish Horror’s ties to the Devil. I’ll never forget how disappointed I felt when I learned the REC remake had replaced demonic possession with terrorists making rabies. My point is, it wasn’t too long after that remake that a veritable deluge of films about possession appeared in theatres, one after the other. The lesson? 

Everything old is new again, just like those generational sins that plague the characters in Ancestral Horror stories. 

If you put your ear to the ground of most film genres, you’ll hear what’s bubbling in the world of the written word. Horror films take a lot of cues from Horror literature, and thanks to those icons mentioned above, comics are now recognized as just that. This brings me to The Plot, a relatively new ongoing monthly horror comic published by Vault Comics under their Nightfall imprint.

The Plot starts, like all good Ancestral Horror stories, with the proverbial chickens coming home to roost. Charles Blaine is the successful head of Sortvand Pharmaceuticals, a company he took over after his father passed away. When we meet Charles, we see him go from enjoying the spoils of his empire on the eve of his fortieth birthday to meeting his end at the hands of something monstrous. Something that has dragged itself up out of his family’s past and come to collect. “In order to give, first you must receive,” the cryptic message that proceeds his death also echoes through each issue, taking on ominous connotations that would appear to tie into nefarious deeds perpetrated by previous Blaine family Patriarchs. Don’t worry; none of this is spoiler country. Charles’ death is the inciting incident that kicks off the story, sending his black sheep brother Chase back to the Blaine ancestral home in Cape Augusta, Maine. 

As the story progresses, we learn that, while big brother Charles’ was being groomed to take over the family business, Chase ran away. We don’t know why he ran, but there are intimations from other characters that don’t exactly paint him in the most flattering light.

Whatever drove Chase away, his return comes off as part heroic, part foolish. Certainly, his impetus to take up the mantle of raising Charles’s two adopted children, Mackenzie and Zach, is as altruistic as it gets. But there’s something else deep-seated in Chase. An impulse that ties him to the family mystery, and thus, makes him either the inevitable next target or part of the cause. 

So the three Blaines arrive in rural Maine as fish out of water. With the help of Reese, the love Chase left behind, now a local school teacher, they try to make a home. Only the town itself opposes their attempt at happiness. Bigoted locals do not appreciate Mackenzie and Zach’s Chinese heritage. The Sheriff makes no bones about telling Chase he needs to leave, that his family has always been bad news for Cape Augusta. And the house, well, the house is a horror show all its own. There are hidden tombs inside its walls, rooms that flood with phantom water, and what I can only describe as Bog Creatures that haunt every nook and cranny of the estate.  

In The Plot, Tim Daniel and Michael Moreci have conceived a story that, while clearly an homage to an outlier sub-genre, still manages to have its own unique pulse. There’s a modernity to some of the character dynamics that balances the tried-and-true ‘villagers with pitchforks’ vibe percolating in the background. Mackenzie and Zach’s heritage feels as though it will eventually come to play a more significant role, and the ties to 70s-era big Pharm adds the possibility of a conspiracy of macroscopic scope.

Likewise, Penciler Joshua Hixson and colorist Jordan Boyd employ a dark, almost gothic palette to populate the book with eerie, often earthen textures drawn directly from the Hammer philosophy of setting-as- character. Their wonderfully subtle approach to juxtaposing rotting, sepulchral entities with the visual tropes of Ancestry anchor the Blaines, both past and present, in an environment that feels perpetually unsafe. The underlying tension this creates makes each issue throb with promises that Horror lay around every corner. To me, that’s what Ancestral Horror is all about: What lies in wait.

Jon Wright’s Grabbers!

This episode we watch and react to Jon Wright’s delightful 2012 Horror/Comedy Grabbers, an Irish monster movie with a beautiful setting and a drunken cast. Our Classic Corner pick is Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and we don’t stop there! Locke and Key’s premiere on Netflix, Dale Fabrigar’s D-Railed, Osgood Perkins’ Gretel and Hansel, Shudder’s The Marshes, American Horror Story, David Cronenberg’s debut novel Consumed, and Vault Comics knock-out horror titles The Plot and Black Stars Above. Oh, and there’s quite a bit more where those came from. Su Nioj!

Underwater Spoiler Review & Freaked @ Beyondfest

Yes, Shawn loved Underwater so much that he invited his fellow fiends from The Horror Vision to go out and see it in the theatre. Here’s our SPOILER HEAVY discussion, because there’s a lot to discuss! Also, the fine gents from Beyondfest hosted 1993’s Freaked played at the Egyptian Theatre and Shawn was there! A full account of the flick and all the wonderful fixings that accompanied this historic screening!

Harpoon!

While an insidious virus sweeps its way across the South Bay, Anthony and Shawn hide out in a covert bunker and press play on what might turn out to be the last movie they ever see! Good thing that movie is Rob Grant’s Harpoon, because as a last flick on Earth, it is A LOT of fun! And as long as the tape is rolling, after discussing Harpoon, we talk about American Horror Story, Daniel Isn’t Real, Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, and Netflix/Blumhouse’s Sweetheart. Join us for the end, won’t you?

Doctor Sleep, Mary, True Blood and much, much more!

This episode we do things a bit different. First, we begin fresh from a group viewing of Michael Goi’s Mary, starring Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimor. Shawn discusses his reaction to Mike Flanagan’s sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep. From there we begin a new segment, The Horror Vision’s Classic Corner, with a discussion of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Anthony delves into his October-long rewatch of all seven seasons of HBO’s True Blood, and Ray and Shawn’s recent explorations of genre films, including but not limited to, Haunt, the Christopher Smith’s Creep, Beyond the Gates, and as the headline says, much, much more!