As a recent convert to the Terrifier camp, Shawn sells Antony, Ray and Tori hard in Terrifier 2 with a spoiler-free reaction. Also, our spoiler-free reviews of V/H/S/99, Deadstream, Smile, Day Shift and a whole lot MORE!!!
WARNING!!! The first 10 minutes or so of this episode is our Spoiler-Free review/reaction to David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends. HOWEVER, after that – and we give you ample warning – for those of you who have seen the film, we go into a full-spoiler discussion on the film.
Fresh from our review/discussion of David Bruckner’s Hellraiser, special guests Madison and Kenta return to help Shawn give a SPOILER-FREE review/reaction to Scream-screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s awesome new Slasher flick SICK!
We start with a spoiler-free reaction to David Bruckner’s long-awaited Hellraiser, then give ample warning when we deep-dive into this one. Polarizing for sure, so is it worth watching? We’ll tell you!
Beyondfest 2022 and Cinematic Void hosted the West Coast Premiere of Iconic Horror Auteur Dario Argento’s new film Dark Glasses at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica last night and Shawn gives his spoiler-free review/reaction.
We start the episode with our spoiler-free reaction to Pearl – Ti West’s follow-up to X, then give you clear warnings before launching into our full-spoiler discussion. Ti West is back and he’s making some pretty amazing films! Let’s talk about it!
We start the episode with our spoiler-free reaction to Zach Cregger’s amazing new film Barbarian, then give you ample warning when we do our full-spoiler discussion. We loved this one SO very much. If you need convincing, listen to the first half and then turn this episode off, come back when you’ve basked in the glory that is BARBARIAN!!!
Tori’s Back!!! We talk Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, more Predator, Popcorn, Silver Coin #13, Rocktober Blood, the f*&ked up films of Andrey Iskanov, plus a lot more!
We give you our spoiler-free review/reaction to Dan Trachtenberg’s PREY, the newest film in the Predator franchise that rocked HULU like no other release before. Is it worth the hype? It is, and we also give fair warning when we deepen our discussion with full spoilers. From there, we thought it’d be nice to review the new Marvel Comics’ Predator #1 that dropped recently, kicking off the Comics Giant’s first foray into the Predator-verse.
SPOILERS: Seattle University Professor of Film Studies John Trafton returns to go all-in with Ray and Shawn as they attempt to unpack two of the most conversation-worthy films of the year so far: Alex Garland’s Men and David Cronenberg’s return to Body Horror Crimes of the Future.
Anthony, Ray and Shawn just watched Hanna Bergholm & Ilja Rautsi’s new film Hatching in an AMC theatre at the local mall. THAT’S F’ING CRAZY!!! Let us tell you why. We start with a spoiler-free reaction/review, and clearly delineate when we’re going to go full-spoiler, so join us up top to see if this new Body Horror film is for you, then after you see it, come back for our thoughts. There’s a lot to ‘chew’ on here.
Seattle Film Professor John Trafton returns to go in-depth on Robert Egger’s The Northman. Please DO NOT listen to this until you have seen the film.
I do quick, spoiler-free reviews for The Cellar, You Won’t Be Alone, and the new Brubaker/Phillips’ Reckless graphic novel, The Ghost in You.
Fresh from a Saturday afternoon theatrical viewing of Ti West’s first film in 5 years, Ray and Shawn give you a quick, spoiler-free review/reaction to X. It’s awesome and we’ll tell you why you want to see it on the big screen if you can!
“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.
Ray and Shawn continue this new regular adjunct series – Sticks & Stones, with a look at 1984’s Children of the Corn and 2013’s Jug Face, two movies that have more in common than you’d probably realize at first glance.
Ray and Shawn begin a new, regular adjunct series – Sticks & Stones will look at the wealth of film and literature that fall into the realm of Folk Horror, starting this week with a discussion that begins with Kier-La Janisse’s new documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (Severin Films), and continuing onto Avery Crounse’s 1983 forgotten epic Eyes of Fire and Robert Eggers’ 2016 masterpiece The Witch.
Spoiler-free reviews of all the big Autumn Horror flicks, as well as the awesome new Yellowjackets series on Showtime!
SPOILER WARNING! Ray and Shawn welcome back Seattle University Film Studies Professor John Trafton to the show to do deep-dives on Valdimar Jóhannsson’s new film Lamb and Julia Ducournau’s Titane! If you have not watched these films yet do not listen to this episode. Instead, run – don’t walk – to your local cinema, view, and return to us as we pick apart two of our favorite films of 2021!
Fresh from Beyondfest 2021, Ray and Shawn bring you their spoiler-free review of Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill’s new film The Black Phone!
Ray ventures out on his own and give us two SPOILER-FREE reviews for Julia Ducournau’s Titane and Sion Sono’s new Nic Cage vehicle Prisoners of the Ghostland!
It’s time to get ready for a fight, horror fiends! In 1976, director John Carpenter released Assualt on Precinct 13 and almost single-handedly created the modern siege film. The story of a policeman with a couple of other officers, secretaries, three felons, and a hysterical man trying to keep at bay gang members who are trying to break into a closing police station in an abandoned section of Los Angeles to kill them all was groundbreaking. The gang members were a nameless, faceless threat, while the people keeping them out were charismatic and likable. The film also highlighted a characteristic that would be synonymous with the siege drama: urban blight. These films and stories would literally not be possible if the locations under siege – once functional structures occupying the heart of booming, populated areas – had not been left behind, abandoned by urban growth. Since the film was released, the genre has become a favorite subgenre within Horror (even Carpenter himself returned to it several times) so today, we are going to dive into a siege double feature with John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars and Joe Begos’ VFW.Continue reading “Cineray Under Siege!”
We do both an initial, spoiler-free review, and then a spoiler-laden deep-dive. If you haven’t watched Malignant yet, we’ll cue you in on when you should stop listening. If you have, let’s have some fun!
Ray and Shawn go over their recent viewings, and there are A LOT of recommendations therein. From Netflix’s new Fear Street: 1994 to Ray’s impressions on this year’s Etheria Film Festival, to a succession of films Shawn is already betting will end up in his top of the year six months from now, we have a lot for you this week. Oh yeah, and there’s a totally impromptu discussion about Terminator to begin the episode. Just ‘cuz.
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.Continue reading “Deep Sea Cineray”
We talk about the third installment in James Wan’s Conjuring series! We stay spoiler-free while we discuss what we liked, didn’t like, and how this new entry in the “Conjuring Universe” stacks up compared to the others. Also discussed: Fried Barry, Black Roses, Army of the Dead, Eve’s Bayou and The Untamed. TV-wise, we cover Little Marvin’s Them, and in comics we talk about Boom! Studio’s cinematic adaptation of Cullen Bunn’s The Empty Man, Horror Anthology The Silver Coin, and Ed Piskor’s Red Room!
Good evening horror fiends! If you did not imagine that said in the voice of the one and only iconic Vincent Price, then get ready because this Cineray is perfect for you. But this is not a double feature recommendation; no, today I have decided this is a triple feature of my three favorite Price films. The reason for this is I could not settle on just two of his movies, and I feel like three is the limit for suggestion all in one sitting. Also, it’s been a bit since I suggested an excellent triple feature, and what better excuse than to watch the films of one of the great actors of horror. So today’s recommendation is The House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and The Comedy of Terrors.Continue reading “Cineray Vincent Price Triple-Feature!!!”
Get ready for beauty with bite fiends! Strip clubs are very lascivious places where men throw their money down for sexy ladies to dance and reveal more of their bodies while alcohol is usually drunk. But what if the ladies who dance in these clubs were after more than the patrons’ wallets? What if they wanted a little more? Like, say the blood pumping through their veins, for instance. Today’s double feature is two tales of strip clubs filled with the most deadly dancers, vampires and riff-raff. The double-feature recommendation is Vamp and From Dusk Till Dawn.Continue reading “Cineray Hits the Strip Club”
Now that Rose Glass’s debut feature Saint Maud is readily available to watch on VOD we’ve got a review! Did A24 hit it big again with another indie debut? Is Saint Maud worth your time? Did we like it? The short answer to all those questions is yes, but tune in to hear all the whys and wherefores. Also, we do a flashback watch and review of Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo. Plus, The Special, Ken Russel’s The Devils and Anthony and Shawn say you must watch Adam Stovall and MacLeod Andrews’s A Ghost Waits! All that, and a whole lot more!
It’s time for payback, fiends! If you are any kind of horror fan, you know that there is a revenge sub-genre. It has existed almost as long as horror movies have, with Tod Browning’s Freaks being one of the earliest examples I can think of. What separates horror revenge films from revenge thrillers is the level of violence and gore that bridges typically into the territory of exploitation. Other prime examples of the genre are The Last House on the Left and The Day of the Woman, aka I Spit on Your Grave. These films are known for their extreme levels of violence and gore. So with revenge in mind, today’s double feature is Revenge and Mandy.Continue reading “Cineray Wants Revenge!”
We give you our reviews of the new Mortal Kombat flick, Jakob’s Wife, as well as discussing Steve Niles’ Winnebago Graveyard, Amazon’s Them, the Hail Satan documentary, Dark Horse’s reimagining of Dan O’Bannon’s original Alien Script and a lot more!!!
Alright fiends, let’s get metaphysical! Today the double feature goes into the territory of Horror-Science Fiction. Usually, when this particular subgenre of Horror gets mentioned, aliens and/or the future are the central focus. Not with today’s film selections, though. These films’ primary focus is the concept of identity and how it is tied to our bodies. Today’s Cineray double features are Possessor, directed by Brandon Cronenberg and Come True, directed by Anthony Scott Burns.Continue reading “Cineray Contemplates Identity”
Let’s get hairy, fiends! Today’s Cineray recommended movies are two of my favorite werewolf movies ever!
Ever since I was a kid, werewolves have been among my favorite monsters. Something about the lore and the look and the general terror associated with the creatures fascinates me. The concept of being a noble, good-intentioned person cursed to become a monstrous beast driven to attack people by the changing moon is mesmerizing. It’s not Jekyll who keeps taking his potion or an evil vampire driven by bloodlust. No, this is a person trying to control a beast within and trying to cure themselves of it. So today’s double feature is Werewolf of London and Dog Soldiers.Continue reading “Cineray Gets Furry”
Let’s get imaginary friends! For today’s double feature, we need to all try and remember back to our childhoods. For some, it may have been a while – it certainly is for me. If you were a single child or did not have siblings near your age, you may have had an imaginary friend. Someone as a young child you imagined playing with when other kids were not around, or you just felt lonely. Maybe that friend was harmless, or perhaps they made you do bad things or things you were not supposed to do. You know, stuff like dancing on tables, writing on walls, getting into things you were not supposed to, throwing that annoying kid down the stairs. Wow, wait, did I just write “throw a kid down the stairs?” I sure did because today’s double feature is about imaginary friends that are a lot more malicious than usual in Z and Daniel Isn’t Real.Continue reading “Cineray’s Imaginary Friends”
Let’s get meta fiends!
To be fair, today’s Cineray double feature is not entirely about being meta. These movies are also focused on crazy gore, blood puking, and 80’s hair metal soundtracks. Why? Well, because when Italians make horror movies, they like all those things and if they can do it with trapped victims they create cinematic magic. If you have not guessed it yet, today’s Cineray recommendations are the sequels Demons and Demons 2.Continue reading “Cineray Exercises Demons!”
Class is in sessions, fiends! All right, today I am recommending a double feature of foundational horror. Horror, like any other film genre, becomes more entertaining when you know its history. For one, the work that became the foundational building blocks are usually fantastic movies in their own right and are still as entertaining now as they were when they were first released. Knowing these historically significant films can enhance the viewing of later entries because they typically reference them. For today I have picked two films that were the building blocks for the slasher genre. They also have their genesis in the true-life story of the notorious serial killer Ed Gein. Today’s Cineray double feature is Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper.Continue reading “Cineray: Slasher Fundamentals.”
Ray discusses Tobe Hooper’s 80s Space-Vampire movie Lifeforce as a homage to Hammer Horror by way of Twins of Evil. Tori has an awesome theory that Pyscho Goreman exists in the same world as another film we love, and Shawn sings the praises of Alex de la Iglesia’s recently finished HBO opus 30 Coins! Plus, The Love Witch, the new Mortal Combat trailer, and all the stuff in 2021 we’re waiting for!
Greetings, horror fiends. Think about it: we spend our days working or doing whatever we have to, and every night we sleep to restore ourselves. But sometimes sleep is not restful at all; sometimes it’s worse than being awake. Sleep can be troubled, our dreams plagued with the anxieties of our daily lives, nightmares filled with demons of the things we fear. Today’s double feature focuses on nightmares and the monsters that call them home. No glove-wearing, crispy-skinned killers here kids, today’s double feature is Dreamscape and Dream Demon.Continue reading “The Cineray of Your Dreams… or Nightmares!”
We talk about the lost gem of 2020 – Mark Tonderai’s Spell! This one’s gnarly folks, and we’ll tell you why it would have been on our best of 2020 list had we actually seen it in 2020 (shout out to Alex and Christina from the Beyond the Void podcast for putting this on our radar).
Also, Tori talks Drew Rosas’ Blood Junkie, Ray digs into Harley Cokliss’s goopy Dream Demon (recently released through Arrow), and Anthony and Shawn sing the praises of Ben Wheatley’s Kill List! Plus – a lot more HORROR!!!
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.Continue reading “Cineray Explores Strange Connections in this literary Double-Feature”
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!
All right, today’s review is for Society by Brian Yuzna with effects by Screaming Mad George. Word of warning right up front, this is going to be a spoiler-heavy review. It just seems like it would be impossible to critique this movie without discussing the final act and its grotesque imagery. Honestly though, if you have not watched this one as a horror fan, shame on you. The film is infamous, and while it might have been hard to come by once, Society is now readily available to stream in multiple places, although if you have Shudder, I’d recommend you head over there and see it with Joe Bob Briggs as your guide. His presentation is fantastic. Joe Bob adds some fun trivia, and the way he breaks up the movie with his interludes may distract you from the lack of horror in the film and the over abundance of Story.
The story revolves around Billy Whitney, played by Billy Warlock, who has anxiety concerning his family and their increasingly strange behavior. His parents are wealthy, and his sister Jenny is a popular girl whose only concerns seem to be about fitting in with the right crowd. This may all sound like your standard teenage anxiety, with there’s something else going on with the Whitney’s, Billy begins to fear may be incestuous, what with all the strange sounds he hears at night and Jenny’s ex-boyfriend’s urgent, coded messages that he has to tell Billy something about his family.
Amplifying Billy’s familial concerns are his own girlfriend’s odd behavior, as well as navigating the popular crowd at school, a caste he is supposedly born into as a Whitney, but one he has a growing schism with. As the story unfolds, Society sometimes feels more like a soap opera with thriller elements than a horror film – perfect because Billy is played by actor Billy Warlock, who was indeed a soap opera star.
The story evolves slowly, and honestly, there are just not enough horror elements in this movie. There are the remnants of a car accident with blood all over the concrete and a throat-cutting, but really, it’s not until that final act that the Horror with a capital H rears its head. Because folks, this is where Yuzna’s film goes bananas. When we get to the reveal that the popular kids in school, Billy’s parents, friends, and pretty much the entirety of the popular kids at school are all members of a Secret Society things get really interesting. And when we learn these folks aren’t human at all, but some sort of species living alongside humanity pretty much since the beginning of time with a vampiric appetite for human flesh, the film goes all out.
The whole process of shunting, the activity during which Billy learns the truth, is monstrous, with an orgy of flesh that’s soft and gooey, malleable and interchangeable, well, let’s just say you might be thankful for your gag reflex. The whole thing reminds me more of an alien on Deep Space Nine who could take whatever form he desired but had to spend a certain amount of time as a puddle in a bucket.
I don’t want to bash the film entirely. The way no one throughout the film believes Billy is done well. It really creates a paranoia about what is happening. You can never be quite sure as a viewer if Billy is disturbed, he is going to therapy after all, or if his suspicions are right. The scene when he zips up his sister’s dress and the love scene with Clarissa both create the real sense that you might not be able to trust Billy, either. From a social critique perspective, the film lavishes in its suspicion of the social elite. It’s not as thoughtful as They Live, but it still raises solid points. I feel this one could have used more of that critique and maybe some more candid glimpses of Billy. However, following that path may have proved difficult without sabotaging that shocking final act. Also, we should definitely take into consideration that this was Brian Yuzna’s directorial debut, so it’s possible he just did not have the experience as a storyteller to think of this or some of the overabundance of story in this film.
My honest take on this movie is I would be hard-pressed to want to watch it again. So much of its power comes from that ending that knowing it means I am watching through this soap opera of a movie just to get to the messed up final act. I feel like if I were to rewatch it would be a Cineray double feature to show friends who have never seen the film and wait in eager anticipation of the final act to see how repulsed they become. But Society just does not seem to have a great amount of rewatch-ability.
On a final note, it’s impressive grotesque work by Screaming Mad George but if you want to see a film that is packed with his impressive work, check out Freaked; almost every moment of that one is filled with his work.
All right, horror fiends! Today’s suggestion for a double feature will feature two of the best sequels in horror movie history. You may ask why not recommend the first movies in these series. Well, you almost certainly will either have seen them or already have plans to see those movies already; they are classics. But I will champion the opinion that these two sequels are better than the original films. I’m talking about Evil Dead 2, directed by Sam Raimi, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, directed by Tobe Hooper.Continue reading “Cineray’s Killer Sequels Double-Feature!”
Ready to get intense horror fiends? Today’s Cineray double feature recommendation is not just going to very time-consuming, but it will also be emotionally taxing. But some movies are worth it. Some films truly transcend entertainment and become emotionally courageous works of art that challenge our morals and ideas about right and wrong. Today’s two movies are Midsommar and Suspiria.
Directed by Ari Aster, Midsommar stars Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor. The film is an intense exploration of grief and family and the distance that grows between people. Pugh stars as Dani, a young woman in college dating Christian played by Reynor. Christian has reached a point where he feels the relationship over, and despite the ridicule he suffers from friends, he is still too cowardly to end the relationship. Christian and his friends see Dani as needy, while she is just seeking as much attention as Christian invests in everyone else. And then Dani is destroyed emotionally when her sister and parents are killed. A strained relationship becomes even more strained when Christian now does not know how to be there for Dani in her grief. When a trip to Christian’s friend Pelle’s home village comes up, she asks to go with, more as a distraction to her suffering. Christian wants to say no but doesn’t. So with his friends and Christian, Dani heads for the Midsummer festival in Hälsingland. At first, it seems like a harmless European trip with some drugs involved, but things seem off when they arrive in the commune. They will all discover something they were all unprepared for, and for Dani, something she may need more than she realizes.
Like Aster’s first feature, Hereditary, this is not a simple horror movie. Aster infuses his work with complex characters with real emotional trauma and fears. The film almost immediately gives one a sense of films like The Wicker Man, but this commune is not as simple as a group of pagans looking for a sacrifice. The first people we see die are suicides, as are the second, and it challenges in our cultural standard of understanding suicide versus the commune’s moral standard. The film continues in this manner, suggesting that moral concepts are a lot more fluid than we perceive. Pugh is fantastic and raw in her performance as Dani, a young woman trying to stifle her grief when its existence is real and life-changing.
The second feature is another journey of self-discovery for a young woman, Suspiria, directed by Luca Guadagnino. This film is a remake of the Argento classic but trust me, even though the original is a masterwork of beautiful horror, this is definitely worth giving a chance. Guadagnino’s film is a moody meditation on female sexuality, power, and self-acceptance. The film centers on Susie Bannion, a young dancer who has come to study at the Markos Dance Academy in West Germany. Meanwhile, she discovers her arrival coincides with another student’s disappearance after she revealed to her psychotherapist Dr. Josef Klamperer, that she believed a coven of witches known as the Three Mothers runs the school. Susie quickly rises in favor under the tutelage of Madame Blanc, the head dance instructor. Meanwhile, the rest of the coven conspires to make Susie the new host for their aging Madam Markos. Dr. Klamperer is also approached and aided by another student, Sara, as he investigates the school.
This reimagining of the Suspiria concept has a lot of new and thoughtful material added to the mix. The film takes place in 1977, and the backdrop of political upheaval adds to the feeling of tension in the Academy. The violence and gore are intense and memorable and very well done. And the performances are outstanding all around. Dakota Johnson is fantastic as Susie, a girl seeming very driven and innocent hiding a lot of foresight and ability. Tilda Swinton is not just one character in this film as Madame Blanc but also Dr. Klemperer and Madam Markos, giving impressive performances under a ton of effects makeup. The dances are a lot more present in this version, and they also become a ritual hidden in plain sight by the witches. The witches’ power is rooted in their gender.
Now back to the lengths of these films. Horror films generally last about 90 minutes, with only the adventurous going longer. These two films, however, are a lot longer. Midsommer in the theatrical cut is 2 hours and 18 minutes, while Suspiria is 2 hours and 32 minutes. I know that sounds like a lot, but these films do not waste scenes or characters in telling the stories of these films. The stories do not languish, and both move at a great pace and are tension-filled.
These two together is going to be a trial but a rewarding one. It also may be a daunting challenge to anyone not ready for the level of emotional investment, especially in female-centric movies, these demands of a viewer. Then again, with our society moving towards female empowerment and battling toxic masculinity, these are movies for the times we live in now. These films can be found at various sources for rent or purchase, but your best resource is amazon prime as both films are available free, and if you have a UHD TV, they are available as both UHD and HD presentation. Oh, and stick around till the end of Suspiria for an after-credits scene.
It’s the end of the year (finally), and thus, time for the time-honored tradition of ranking our favorite Horror films from the last 12 months!
Happy Holidays, fiends! If you are like me, somewhere in an old family photo album or special holiday frame is a picture of a child version of you sitting on Santa’s lap while crying your eyes out. As we grow up, our parents tell us that Santa brings us presents and, therefore, we should not be afraid of him. But maybe that childhood instinct is correct. Perhaps, trusting a fat old man with beard dresses In a red suit who loves kids is a lot sketchier than we give the story credit. Today’s Cineray holiday recommendations are a couple of films about some very dangerous Santas and the badass kids who battle against them in Dial Code Santa Claus and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.
Dial Code Santa Claus – AKA Deadly Games – is like a demented and scarier Home Alone with a kid that has watched all the best 80’s action movies. The story takes place on Christmas Eve in the home of Thomas. Thomas is a brilliant boy with a grand imagination and a wealthy mother that indulges him. He dresses for his day like a mini Rambo and spends his day capturing his dog in trap doors. Thomas has installed a camera system throughout his entire house and can see everything from a remote on his wrist.
The camera system is the least of his security measures.
Thomas also spends his days with Papy, his grandfather, and works to repair his mother’s old car while Julie, his mother, manages a department store. Meanwhile, a man spots the store is hiring for a Santa and takes the job. When a girl accuses Santa of being fake, the jolly bastard slaps her. Julie sees this happen and fires him immediately. He steals her address, though and after killing a delivery driver and stealing his van, goes to her home. When he breaks in, Thomas mistakes this criminal for the actual Santa until a brutal event shows him the truth. Thomas has to mount a defensive to save himself and his grandfather from the psycho Santa.
What makes this movie great is the motifs and sequences it borrows from 80s action movies we know and love. It’s not a movie with a lot of kills, but it’s smart with the kills it does have and fills in the gaps with action. I would even hazard that one kill can be downright polarizing for viewers and may anger them to consider stopping the film right there. But I think it’s a bold move to establish the unforgivable evil as the crazy man simply known as Par Noel and put him in a Santa suit. It creates an eerie undertone beneath those 80’s action motifs.
Take the opening scene of Thomas suiting up with boots, toy knives, and camouflage, all laced up and strapped on to a knock-off hard rock soundtrack. These shots would usually be close-ups on the tight, rippling muscles of a Stallone or Schwarzenegger, but here they’re of a kid whose only resemblance to those 80s action stars is a spectacular mullet. And considering the odds and events Thomas has to deal with, he’s a total badass. It’s not a perfect film by far; there’s an opening that is heavy with exposition, and some of the callbacks overstay their welcome. But it’s a French take on over-the-top American Cinema, so it kind of makes sense.
Next, we move from a psychotic Santa to a demonic one.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is an extremely original concept that is really brought to life by a fantastic cast. The story starts with a survey crew on a mountain. They’re using a drill to take soil samples and find what they’re looking for when the foreman presents Riley, the man finding the operation, with soil that contains sawdust. Riley is excited as he explains the dust’s presence as evidence of something trapped in ice. Riley tells his crew they are close to finding what they set out to find, none other than Santa Claus, or at the very least the being that the Santa myth is based on, frozen in this ice.
Nearby, local boys Jusso and Pietari are sneaking around the site, listening to all of this. They hurry home, and Pietari begins to read up on this creature buried in the mountain. He discovers old folklore about a horned man with goat’s feet who once ran free, whipping and sometimes eating children who misbehave. The next day during the town’s annual reindeer hunt, Pietari’s father Rauno and some other men discover the corpses of hundreds of reindeer, all gnawed and eaten. They believe wolves have been driven wild by the mountain’s excavation, but when the disappearance of some local children follows this, it’s Jusso and Pietari who know the truth. The kids know better than the adults because adults are conditioned to disregard folklore, while the children are open to the fantastic.
Rare Exports‘ crisp, sharp cinematography and excellent production and set design make it a joy to watch. Nothing here looks fake, and similar to John Carpenter’s The Thing, this entry into the “monster thawed from the ice” subgenre feels very original.
Again these are both foreign films with subtitles, one being French and the other Finnish, and they both are great. As is usually the case with a good foreign film, at some point, you forget you are reading as you watch and just start doing it automatically and enjoying the movie. To watch these, you can stream Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale from several places, with options to watch for free with ads or with the cost of a rental or subscription but as usual, it’s on Shudder along with Dial Code Santa Claus so why not watch there.
Chris, Ray, and Shawn meet up to talk about all things Horror! First, hear Chris talk about the joys of not only Max Brooks’s new novel Devolution, but the full-cast Audio Book performance of both that and Brooks’s seminal zombie novel, World War Z! Next, Shawn has seen the new, Barbara Crampton-Produced Castle Freak remake and he LOVES it! Hear why. And Ray continues to methodically educate himself on Shudder’s entire catalog; this week he talks about Fulci’s New York Ripper, Bava’s The Body and the Whip, and the not-for-the-weak-of-heart Angst! Plus… Christopher Landon’s Freaky, and a lot more!
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.
Anthony, Tori, and Shawn meet up to talk about all they’ve been reading and watching. Big review this week is Shudder’s Porno, which dropped just before the holiday. Worth a watch? You betcha! Hear Shawn’s review of that and new HULU suspense flick Run, as well as Tori’s admiration for Jim Jarmusch’s much-maligned The Dead Don’t Die. Anthony helms the time machine and revisits Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions and Hellraiser V: Inferno. Plus: Eibon Press’s Fulci Comics and a whole lot more!
Anthony and Shawn spend a calm afternoon catching up on recent viewings. Josh Boone’s New Mutants, Micah Gallo’s Itsy Bitsy, Jeremy Gardner’s After Midnight, and Shudder’s Cleansing Hour. Also, our reaction to the news about Dan Trachtenberg’s Predator and Ridley Scott’s next Alien movie! Plus, a helluva lot more!
Tori spent her October doing the unthinkable – watching ALL 9 seasons of American Horror Story start to finish. Hear her talk about the experience. Ray does a tribute to Drive-ins in cinema with Psycho Beach Party and Chillerama, and Shawn watched The Dark and the Wicked! Plus, Joe R. Lansdale’s The Drive-In, The Driller Killer, Shudder’s WNUF Halloween Special, and a bloody lot more. (Really bloody!)
Mark it – the first in-person episode of our show since COVID began! Anthony and Shawn gather under the same room but at a safe social distance to watch Scream Factory’s BR of William Malone’s 1999 remake of The House on Haunted Hill! Also, Netflix’s new haunter His House, which is really just fan-freakin’-tastic! Also also, Shudder’s new Creepshow Animated Special, NOTLD, Halloween, and a whole lot more!
One thing this past Halloween really highlighted for me is the fact that there is an abundance of short films in the Horror Genre, and as such, there are more vehicles out there to deliver them to us than I’d ever realized. This includes fests, but also, there are shorts on Shudder, Amazon Prime, umbrellaed within series on streaming services, and online. After attending Joe Bobs Haunted Drive-In on October 27th, I formulated a plan to begin seeking these out and posting them here in a new column.
Welcome to The Short Version!
With the help of The Horror Vision’s new Facebook Discussion Group – I’ve been falling down a bit of an Internet Rabbit Hole on Horror Shorts. Here then, are some of the most recent shorts I’ve seen or trailers for series that host them. Seek this stuff out – there are often times when I don’t have enough time to watch a full flick, and Shorts can deliver the same intensity and wonderment that a full-length does.
To start, here’s what I considered the best of the short films I saw on October 27th at Joe Bob’s Haunted Drive-In:
Next, here are some I’ve found or been pointed at by fellow Horror Vision Discussionairies (yes, I totally just made that word right the hell up. Deal with it!)
Blight was directed by FX gurus Kate Walshe and Christopher Goodman.
Miners Mountain was written and directed by Bennett Pellington. There’s a Part Two in the works, the trailer for which can be viewed HERE.
Next, here are the trailers to two shows I stumbled across on Amazon Prime lately. The First, By Night: Origins is the first in what I hope will be more seasons of an anthology show, each episode unique unto itself and very different in tone and
The Second, a Spanish-produced anthology that continually sees the same actors and creators making low budget but very well executed Horror shorts:
I don’t know much about either By Night: Origins or From Beyond the series, however, both are short enough seasons to knock out in little time, and both definitely pressed the “Happy Horror Joy Buzzer” in me.
More next time in The Short Version! See you then.
Hey fiends! So Halloween has come and gone, and if you were like me, it was somewhat uneventful while you sat at home being safe. But maybe you are not ready to let the season go by quite just yet. So why not take in a couple of great anthologies that are perfect for saying goodbye for the season with Scare Package and Tales of Halloween.
Scare Package is a fun anthology of horror shorts all tied together by a couple of framing devices and tons of fun horror and gore. The film is not just an homage to the horror genre but is also how most horror fans over the age of 30 were first introduced to horror movies, the local video store. The film’s primary framing device is Rad Chad’s video store, where the stories usually have their genesis as either a story or a videotape being played or discussed. Rad Chad is the know-it-all horror guy, and Sam is one of his customers, the attention-seeking horror nerd. Later Chad acknowledges his role as a know-it-all horror guy and that he is a part of a horror movie. Most of the characters in the meta situations are easily recognizable in horror, and the way they are used and displayed is comic and fun.
Many genres of horror are referenced, and usually, every short references more than one. From slashers to monsters to devil worshippers to body melt to black government scientists, so many troupes are referenced and made fun of but in the most loving of ways. The people involved in this love horror movies and wanted to create something that showed that love. There is a fun reference early on to a horror icon who later makes a cameo as a character. Among some of my favorite moments are a short involving body melt and a secret government experiment. There is also a wrap-around framing device and an entertaining character in it.
Tales of Halloween is a lot less meta but still pays its share of homage while utilizing a more cemented location and a fun run start to finish. The film takes place on Halloween in a suburban town. A local DJ, played by Adrienne Barbeau, narrates and is heard throughout the film when characters listen to the radio. For fans of the Fog, you will live the use of Barbary. Some of the stories are very horror focused while others are horror-comedy. Among the genres referenced are urban legends, vengeful ghosts, devils and imps, slashers, aliens, witches, and demons. I tend to like the more comedic, but a couple took me by surprise with their twists.
I think the order of Scare Package and then Tales of Halloween is the better choice because of how the stories are presented. Scare Package tends to ramp up and even ends with a bang. Continuing with Tales of Halloween is a good way to end the night because it’s almost a cool down and all of the tales take place on Halloween night. If you feel ambitious or just have lots of time, you could always make this a triple feature with Trick-r-Treat if you did not already watch it this past Halloween season. I would probably place it right between the two or after Tales of Halloween, but that one I will leave for you to decide.
Finally, both Scare Package and Tales of Halloween are available on Shudder, where I suggest watching them. For one, they are both conveniently streaming in one place, so whether you are watching from a computer or smart tv you can stay in one application. Tales of Halloween is on the main page under a Shudder Halloween and Scare Package is in the separate category Exclusive and Original. But I would recommend looking up the Last Drive-In presentation of Scare Package just to add another element of fun with Joe Bob Briggs.
Ray, Anthony, and Shawn hit Zoom to talk about all their pre-Halloween watches. We talk about The Mortuary Collection, Tremors 7: Shrieker Island, The Haunting of Bly Manor, French New Extremity flicks Sheitan and Ils (Them), Haun and Luckert’s new comic Red Mother, the glory and thrift of region-free Blu Ray players, and Modern CG as the new schlock! That’s not everything, but it’s a lot of it!
Ray, Kirsten, and Shawn bring you their immediate review/reaction to the nine short films and plethora of awesome trailers that Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, and Felissa Rose hosted at Joe Bob’s Haunted Drive-In tonight at the Roadium in Torrance, CA. Tickets are still available for several shows this week – go HERE to buy them now!
Our favorite from the fest:
All right fiends, its time for some vampire fun. Now I normally don’t like to make a double feature that includes sequels. It just feels lazy to me most of the time and usually, I like to try and create double features that focus on interesting connections and thematic elements. But there is something so perfect about putting Fright Night and Fright Night Part 2 together as a fun night of horror-filled fun.
To be clear I am recommending the 1985 and 1988 original films, not the remakes. Both are clever and funny films that pay homage to the history of horror they reference in the films. As I discuss each film I will highlight those qualities. They are also horror movies that never stop considering that they are trying to be fun. Whether it’s through comedy or fantastic effects or scares, these movies focus on you enjoying what’s on-screen.
Fright Night was directed and written by Tom Holland and starred Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowell, Amanda Bearse, and Stephen Geoffreys. Ragsdale stars as Charlie Brewster, a young man who lives with his mother and is dating Amy (Bearse). One night while he and Amy are in his room, he looks out the window and sees his new neighbors moving in, which arouses his suspicions because who moves after dark. The next day he falls asleep watching Fright Night, his favorite late-night horror tv show where Peter Vincent (McDowell) showcases horror movies. When he wakes later in the night and goes to turn off the TV, Charlie passes the window and sees his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge with a woman in the middle of sex.
While Charlie watches, Jerry grows fangs. As he goes to bite the woman, Jerry spots Charlie. He connects eyes with Charlie and then closes the shade. The next night Jerry attacks Charlie in his room, but Charlie’s mother overhears the commotion and Jerry flees. Charlie tells his friends Amy and “Evil” Ed (Geoffreys) and even calls the police, but Jerry outsmarts Charlie and appears innocent. In desperation, Charlie goes to enlist the aid of Peter Vincent, who is doubtful but comes to believe Charlie. Meanwhile, Jerry has become enamored of Amy, and Charlie has put everyone in danger because they know Jerry’s secret. Charlie and Peter are headed for an eventual confrontation with Jerry or die.
What makes Fright Night so good is how it references films from the past while telling its story. To start, it uses the Fright Night tv show that plays in the background as a device to pay homage to horror hosts and their shows from the past. Before there was streaming and even home video, people sat down on Friday and Saturday nights to watch old horror movies hosted by people like Elvira and Zacherley. They played all different types of films with much focus on horror from the ’50s and ’60s and Hammer horror movies, many of which were vampire films. Peter Vincent is a direct reference to those times, not only as a host, but his name is a reference to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, and his outfit is reminiscent of Cushing’s Dr. Van Helsing’s costumes. The structure of the story and action is also very similar to those films. A vampire arrives and starts killing young women, which arouses the locals’ suspicions. They enlist a vampire hunter to help stop him before taking a woman as his bride (usually the love interest of the main character). This film also is very respectful of vampire lore in a way some play fast and loose. One is Jerry’s use of a ghoul that is his daytime protector, a character that has seemed to disappear over time. Another is the way certain items affect Jerry. Garlic has been a referenced ward against vampires, but roses and other aromatics are usually forgotten but used in this film. And the holy cross as a talisman is utilized, but it places importance on the ward’s use being dependent on its user’s faith. Oh, and Geoffreys as “Evil” Ed – Charlie’s hapless friend that is turned into one of the most famous side characters with very little screen time – is iconic. These elements are carried over into our second feature Fright Night Part 2.
This sequel opens on a brief recap of the first movie with Charlie discussing the events with his therapist. Charlie is now a college student and is convinced that the whole thing was a delusion to create a logical explanation that Jerry Dandridge was a serial killer and that vampires do not exist. Peter has meanwhile returned to being a tv horror host with a show that has waning popularity. One night while visiting Peter at his apartment with his girlfriend Alex, he sees people moving in with large crates and becomes attracted to one of them, the beautiful Regine. Later, Regine reveals to Peter she is a vampire, and Jerry’s sister comes for revenge on Peter and Charlie. While Regine slowly begins to change Charlie into a vampire, Alex starts to see Charlie was not delusional and turns to Peter to help her save Charlie.
Fright Night Part 2 builds on many of the first film concepts and adds some great new characters and story elements. Again the story structure and events are referential to horror films like Vampire Circus; the family of a killed vampire comes to exact revenge on the exterminators. It’s also clever that Regine not just wants to kill Peter but steals his show away from him. To aid Regine in her revenge are not only her ghoul but a werewolf and a transgender roller-skating vampire named Belle. Yeah, you read that right. Although Belle – played by Russell Clark – never says a word, he makes a lasting impression. This character is also a reason I love horror as a genre more and more. Whereas mainstream media was slow to use or deal with queer characters and themes, horror was doing it for a while. It may not seem like much, but doing so leads to the more inclusive and accepting environment we live in now.
Before I tell you where to watch these films, I have an interesting trivia piece to share about Fright Night Part 2. At the time of its release, the sequel was a bomb; it in no way was the success the first was. It did not get a major theatrical release and was hardly promoted but has become a cult classic since. This status is not because of the film but rather because of its unfortunate ties to an infamous piece of history. The story goes that the sequel’s director Tommy Lee Wallace and Roddy McDowell had a meeting with Live Entertainment CEO Jose Menendez about the film’s planned distribution and ad campaign one day. That evening Jose was murdered along with his wife by their sons in events that would become known as the Menendez murders. As a result, the film lost its nationwide distribution opening in LA and NY before hitting video store shelves with no advertising. This also killed the plans for another sequel that director Tom Holland and actor Roddy McDowell planned.
You can find Fright Night on Amazon, Apple tv, Fandango Now, Redbox, and Youtube for rent or purchase, as well as streaming free on Prime Video. Fright Night Part 2 is not available for rent or purchase, but thankfully it is streaming for free on youtube in HD.
It’s our two-year anniversary, so Chris, Ray, Anthony, and Shawn hit Zoom and talk about everything they’ve been watching. In this episode we talk Ron Bonk’s House Shark, Glen Danzig’s Verotika, the 1935 predecessor to The Wolf Man, Stuart Walker’s Werewolf of London, 976-Evil, and Chris and Shawn cover Narrative Horror podcasts Borrasca and The Magnus Archives (both fantastic!). That’s not everything we cover though, so join us for another episode chock full o’ Horror!
All right fiends, let’s get weird. Horror as a genre is an interesting one when you consider what it encompasses. From giant monsters to slashers to Giallo mysteries to devil worshippers, all these things make up our beloved genre. Sometimes Horror is also bizarre and odd, even if it is also very funny. Today’s recommendations are The Greasy Strangler, directed by Jim Hosking and co-written by Hosking and Toby Harvard, and Forbidden Zone, directed by Richard Elfman and co-written by Elfman, Matthew Bright, Martin Nicholson, and Nicholas James.
The Greasy Strangler is a slasher movie hidden inside a bizarre and sexual narrative with the sense of humor of Napoleon Dynamite. The story focuses on Big Ronnie and his son Big Brayden who live together and run a strange tour of disco spots in Los Angeles. The tour is odd because attractions will, for example, be a doorway that Big Ronnie claims was the exact spot the Beegees thought of the song “Night Fever,” as if someone could know exactly when a person thought of something. But the tour is the family business, and Big Brayden makes his father’s meals to compensate for living with him. The meals are usually sausage, and never quite greasy enough for Ronnie. It’s an odd father-son dynamic, to say the least.
One day on tour, a young woman named Janet takes an interest in Big Brayden. They begin seeing each other. Meanwhile, Big Ronnie goes out at night and murders people while covered in grease. After a while, Big Ronnie becomes jealous of his son and asserts his masculinity by stealing Janet and starting a sexual relationship with her. While Big Brayden tries to get back Janet, he also begins to suspect the greasy strangler is his father and that Janet may be the next victim. That may sound strange enough, but the movie continues to amp up the bizarre over the course of its run time.
Despite how clean and well-shot The Greasy Strangler looks, and how everyday relateable the settings are, the soundtrack, characters, and costumes are from another world. This movie looks great, not always the case in the cinema of the bizarre. Usually, the camera in this genre is obscured or strange, and the sets skew toward the bizarre themselves. Here, if you did not know it, there are moments that could be mistaken for a common drama. However, any accidental normalcy begins to deteriorate when the soundtrack kicks in, letting you know things are about to get weird.
The soundtrack might just make the film.
Then there are the characters.
Big Ronnie, the overly aggressive and sexual older man with an enormous penis. His son Big Brayden, a wimpy man-child, and Janet, the girlfriend who seems willing to have sex with anyone at least once, especially if they will, ah-hem, eat her ass.
Other eccentric characters include Big Paul, the blind disco man who runs a car wash all hours of the day, and the three tourists who stand around a hotel parking lot at night discussing the broken snack machine. And finally, there are the costumes – or lack thereof to be more precise. Yes, Big Ronnie and Big Brayden wear matching pink shorts and shirts, but they wear far less when they are home. Big Brayden usually wears only briefs, and Big Ronnie is usually nude with his massive member hanging free. He is equally bare when he kills unless you count the grease he coats himself in, which may be the least bizarre element to the kills. That said, I don’t want to go into any of them here and possibly spoil them. Simply put, The Greasy Strangler must be experienced first-hand to be believed.
The next film up, Forbidden Zone!
Forbidden Zone is a far less polished film than the first. However, with its musical elements and intentionally campy story and look, this one is perhaps more entertaining. The story surrounds the Hercules family, who have recently moved into a home in Malibu. The family consists of Ma and Pa Hercules, Grandpa, and the kids: their son Flash and daughter Frenchy. When Frenchy hears from Flash how their transgender friend has disappeared into a portal to the Forbidden Zone in their new home’s basement, Frenchy is intrigued. Pa gets angry and tells her to stay away. He warns her of the Forbidden Zone’s danger.
Later at school, a fight breaks out between some students and the teacher, and Frenchy returns home and falls into the portal. Once in the Forbidden Zone, Frenchy attracts the interest of King Fausto, because they are both French, and the ire and jealous wrath of Queen Doris. The Queen places Frenchy in a cell while the King tries to romance her. Meanwhile, Flash realizes his sister is in the Forbidden Zone and enlists Gramps’ help to go after her.
The story may sound bizarre enough but add in surreal sets, musical numbers, and strange casting choices for even stranger characters, and it all makes perfect sense. And personally, having Oingo Boingo do the music certifies Forbidden Zone as a bizarre-O masterpiece.
The film’s history goes back to the late 1970s before Danny Elfman was the successful soundtrack artist he is today, before the band had any stature at all. Back then, they were known as the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and were more of a performance troupe whose show included elements similar to the film. Danny and his brother Richard – the band’s lead singer – collaborated to make the film. They chose to shoot in black and white, which adds a certain charm to sets reminiscent of what one might expect from a community college theater group. The props and makeup effects are equally cheesy and low rent. Adding to this already outlandish approach, the casting is intentionally off-putting as well. Take for example, Flash, a teenage boy played by an elderly vaudevillian. A twenty-something-year-old French woman plays Frenchy, and adults likewise play all the kids at the school. Finally, Herve Villechaize plays King Fausto. It’s a hard film to completely encapsulate, as its demented madcap absurdity is, as our first film, easier seen first-hand.
Now, you may ask, why would a Horror column take this detour into the bizarre. Well, my response is, why not? To appreciate Horror in all its multifaceted greatness, one must also consider the murky genres surrounding its radiant shores. Sometimes it’s fun to watch something that screws more with you as a viewer more than the characters on screen.
To me, Horror is a broad term, and although some may not think The Greasy Strangler or Forbidden Zone are horror movies, others would say they definitely fit in that category.
Finally, I usually try to tell you where to see or rent the movies I discuss in this column. Not today. No, today, I am going instead to introduce you to a new tool for your watchlist: the justwatch.com website and app, available for download. These are excellent tools for finding the films on your watch list. Simply search for a title, and justwatch will show where it’s available online for streaming. In the last few months, this has helped me find films and save a little money on some of those movies I have been trying to mark off my watch list.
Ray and Shawn coming at you directly from the after-show parking lot at the Mission Tiki Drive-In Movie Theatre in Montclair, CA! It’s opening night of Beyondfest 2020 – well, actually it’s a special advance night, as the festival proper doesn’t kick off until next week, but we’re here fresh from the West Coast-Premiere of Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor!
For today’s Cineray recommendations, the focus is on the early career of David Cronenberg with the films Shivers, Rabid, and The Brood. These films are very early in his career and are great examples of his abilities and both showcase a talent that would become famous for his imagination, imagery, and signature body horror. There is no one quite like Cronenberg to really disturb you and make you feel so trapped by the flesh we live in and how easily it can be manipulated.
Before Cronenberg became an English major and film student at the University of Toronto, he was an honors science student. Now, this may seem like a minor fact, but it was that interest in science that has informed his films ever since. You will not find ghosts or supernatural elements in the films of Cronenberg. His focus is on creating horrors based on scientific possibilities and the power of the human mind. Going even further, Cronenberg is an atheist and believes that there is no spirituality. So despite the viewer’s ideologies, the visions he creates are entirely based on scientific possibilities and make them that much more terrifying.
I would say Shivers is a good place to start this party, as it’s Cronenberg’s first feature film and perhaps the least seen. The story revolves around urban professionals living in the new Starliner apartment complex, a place that caters to the young urban professional looking for all the amenities of the city (Montreal), without actually having to live there. You know, gym, doctor’s office, pharmacy, movie theater, etc. Dr. Roger St. Luc discovers his coworker has killed a woman and reports it to the police. Roger then learns that the man killed himself while developing a parasite to take over organ function in the human body.
Meanwhile, the film also follows a young man who becomes a breeding ground for the parasite after having an affair with an infected girl. As it spreads, the tenants of the building begin to act more sexually aggressive. Roger discovers that Hobbes was trying to turn the world into one big orgy, and it becomes a race against time as Roger attempts to stop the parasites’ spread.
What makes Shivers so damn interesting is why it’s terrifying. Unlike zombie movies where the person becomes a mindless flesh-eater, here there is a piece of the original person left. But their inhibitions have been stripped away until what’s left is little more than animals, sexual beings of a ravenous appetite, stripped of moral constructs or any ideas beyond satisfying the most animal of instincts. It’s fascinating to peek into fear from a very logical mind. From medical experimentation, the next film delves into the dangers of experimental medicine.
Our second feature Rabid is more famous for Cronenberg’s use of pornstar Marilyn Chambers as his star than the film itself, which is a shame. The film centers on Hart Reed and his girlfriend Rose, played by Chambers, who has a motorcycle accident riding in the country. Hart suffers minor injuries while Rose is seriously injured and burned. They are taken to the Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery, where head surgeon Dan Keloid decides to use an experimental treatment on Rose. He uses morphogenetically neutral grafts to her chest and abdomen in the hope that it will differentiate and replace the damaged skin and organs. Rose remains in a coma, while Hart is released. When she does wake, Rose does so screaming, and another patient goes to comfort her. While he does this, Rose pierces his skin and takes blood from him. He has no memory of the incident, and while he is transferred to another hospital for observation, Rose escapes. While Hart begins to search for Rose, she attacks more people, as do those she has fed on.
Again the loss of oneself in a monstrous transformation is horrifying but so are the doctor’s actions. Although it’s not as stressed as it could have been, Cronenberg is still pointing out the dangers of medical experimentation. Recently the Soska sister’s remade this film, and they certainly made a strong emphasis on this concept with a story twist. But it’s important to remember this is an original concept and only the second feature film by a great director. From the dangers of medical experimenting to the dangers of exploring the human mind, we head into our last film on the list.
The Brood is another highly original concept, but there are times the premise gets a little hokey. The story centers on Frank Carveth. He is dealing with his wife Nola, who is legally embattled with for the custody of their 5-year-old daughter Candice. At the same time, Nora is being treated at the Somafree Institute, where psychotherapist Hal Raglan, played by Oliver Reed, is using an experimental technique called Psychoplasmics. The technique encourages the patience to let go of their mental disturbances to manifest their repressed feelings as physiological manifestations. Frank has no respect for it and is annoyed he has to bring his daughter there to see her mother. After bathing Candice, Frank is incensed to see she has bruises and believes Nora is responsible. While he leaves his daughter with her maternal grandmother Juliana to visit a lawyer, he also informs Raglan he is ending visitation rights. Raglan decides to intensify his therapy sessions, and during a session with Nola, he discovers she beliefs her mother abused her while her father ignored the abuse. Not long afterward, Juliana is killed by what appears to be a child, Candice overhears the incident and discovers the body. Soon more people Nola is angered with are attacked by the strange mutant children while Frank struggles to protect Candice and Raglan tries to find a way to stop what he suspects is happening with Nola.
The whole “mutant killer children” concept is a little on the hokey side, but there are some great performances and really cool ideas in this film. To start, Oliver Reed is fantastic in every scene he is in. Honestly, it’s hard to pin down your emotions about him onscreen as he transitions from a character you despise, as an arrogant doctor to a man caught up in something beyond his imaginings and desperate to stop it you root for. And Samantha Egger’s Nola has a fantastically creepy final scene that is both disturbing and chilling. The concept of emotional disturbances manifesting physically to the extent they become physical embodiments of your rage strikes me as very original. There have certainly been films where characters have psychic abilities to attack people, but they are literally an angry person who manifests a mutant being that then attacks the source of the person’s rage. I cannot think of another film that uses this same concept, but I would sure like to know if others exist.
Finally, you will have to do a bit of navigating to see all these movies, as I am sorry to say they are not all on one service. Shivers is available on Apple TV, Vudu, and YouTube for purchase or rent. Rabid is for rent on Vudu or Amazon and free on prime and free also on Kanopy. The Brood is only available with a subscription through HBO max or Criterion or free on Kanopy. I think they make for a great triple feature because they showcase the start of Cronenberg’s career and make for great pairing because they have about the same impact. Unlike some of his more famous films with a much more significant impact emotionally and ranking a lot higher on the weird scale, these are fine films and pretty easy to watch in one shot.
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:
As quarantine crawls into its fifth month, Tori, Anthony, and Shawn meet up online to talk about everything they’ve been watching/reading to keep them sane. Topics of discussion include but certainly are not limited to the new 80s Horror documentary In Search of Darkness, the original Sleepaway Camp trilogy, Shudder’s new, scary as all hell Host, and soon-to-be-adapted North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, which premieres in October on HULU courtesy of Babak Anvari. We also talk about the cosmic horror of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless graphic novel, Alien 3 and 4, and rare 80s flicks The Kindred and Killer Party.
Shawn’s annotations on the Ennochian Magick contained in Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless graphic novel can be found here:
That puts you in at issue four’s annotations, but the links for the first three are at the top of the page, and you can click through to issue 5 and 6 from the side bar on the right.
The annotations for Grant Morrison’s entire 7-year Batman run that Shawn mentions in this episode were written by the following.
David Uzumeri’s annotations are my favorite. He does a fantastic job, first on Funnybook Babylon and then on Comics Alliance. Notice you’ll also find his annotations for Final Crisis and FC supplement Superman: Beyond on some of these pages as well.
Gary Lactus does a great job in his own right with annotations. His website Mindlessones.com is a great read and an excellent comic resource and I’ve used it to augment the studiousness Uzumeri’s annotations have inspired in me for this re-reading of epic proportions.
And finally, Douglas Wolk’s work annotating Final Crisis is another fantastic supplement to the series. I know so little about the history and structure of the DC Universe (always been a dabbler in DC and more of a Marvel man) that without something like this I had no hope of understanding even the smallest bit of the epic scope of FC.
That’s all folks!
Hey there horror fiends, for some summertime vampire fun, this week’s double feature is Vampires directed John Carpenter and Near Dark directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The weather is starting to heat up, and it’s the perfect time to watch vampire movies that take place in desert settings. Locations like these present some interesting problems for sun-sensitive creatures and the people or victims who interact with them.
I would recommend Vampires as the first of these to watch as its fast-moving and pretty action-packed. The film centers on Jack Crow (James Woods) and his Vatican-sponsored group of vampire hunters. Crow’s group of mercenaries are not men of god, but killers who enjoy the hunt, and when they are not exterminating vampires, they are hard-partying. This is something the priest on the team objects to, but Jack allows because of the horrors they experience fighting and killing vampires. After a day of successful vamp killing, the group celebrates with a party and hookers at a hotel.
During their party and with most of the team drunk, a master vampire named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) attacks and kills most of the team and the hookers. Only Jack Crow, his second in command Tony Montoya, and prostitute Katrina (Sheryl Lee) survive the attack. Katrina, however, gets bitten. After the attack, Crow is assigned Father Adam Guiteau by the Church. This new, three-man team brings Katrina on their pursuit of Valek, who is searching for a relic that turned him into the first vampire.
Katrina is a quasi-prisoner, and the bite is slowly changing her into a vampire, which gives her a psychic link to Valek, which Crow exploits to aid in their pursuit of him. Complications arise from Montoya’s empathy and attraction to Katrina that threaten the team. As they get closer to Valek, the danger gets worse, and there is more going on then they may suspect.
Vampires is not Carpenter’s best film, but it is an enjoyable movie. Woods is perfect as the anti-hero Crow, the kind of guy you are glad to see do his job, but not someone you would ever want to meet. The film moves at a nice brisk pace, and the action is great. The team’s method of harpooning and then dragging vampires into the sunlight using vehicle hoists is impressive, and considering the strength of these vampires proves a great solution for helping them keep their distance from the creatures. The film also has somewhat of a western feel that leads into the second feature nicely.
Near Dark, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is an excellent horror movie with western elements that has thankfully only grown in popularity and cult status since its modest release. The film stars Adrain Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Janette Goldstein, and Joshua John Miller. Henriksen, Paxton, and Goldstein were all featured in James Cameron’s film Aliens, leading to their casting in this film after Cameron suggested them to Bigelow.
Near Dark concerns a young man named Caleb (Pasdar) living on his father’s farm in a small town who meets Mae (Wright) one night. Mae is a pretty drifter, and after spending the night together, she bites Caleb just before dawn. She then takes him in the RV the group she travels with calls home.
The new addition to their group causes problems in Mae’s vampire family. Severin ( Paxton) wants to kill Caleb, but Jesse (Henriksen), the group’s leader, decides to give it a week to see if Caleb can hunt and kill. Caleb refuses, however, Mae helps him survive and hide this from the others. Paxton is fantastic and terrifying as the bloodthirsty and murderous Severin. Henriksen is excellent as well. Miller is also great as the child vampire Homer, a decades-old vampire trapped inside a child’s body. There is a fantastic line of dialogue that implies Jesse is an old confederate soldier and that he and Severin are responsible for at least one tragedy in history. The desert setting adds a nice challenge for the group, providing some fantastic cinematic moments. Watch for the bloody bar scene – you’ll know it when you get to it. Near Dark is on the moody and slower-moving side, but its fantastic moments of intensity more than make up for that.
So, why these two together, you may ask. It’s interesting to see how two different directors handle the vampire mythos in similar settings. Carpenter’s approach is a lot more pedestrian and very clear on what the movie is about, from the title through the film to the clearly delineated protagonists and antagonists. Near Dark, on the other hand, is a lot more moody and subtle; the term vampire is never used in the film, and it’s a lot more ambiguous as to who are the protagonists and antagonists. The only problem with these picks is availability. Vampires is readily available from all the usual streaming rental sites; however, Near Dark is unfortunately not only out of print at the moment, but also not streaming on any services. This one is a used copy find, but honestly, very much worth buying.
Welcome to Cineray, the first article of a new column where I will write movie reviews and suggest cool flicks for you to spend your time watching. I’m a guy who loves cinema, but what’s more, I have a bit of education in the field as well. I have taken a couple of cinema courses, and I’ve studied screenwriting in a classroom environment. I also read film theory for fun, and I watch A LOT of movies.
I jumped at the chance, and here we go.
For my very first recommendation, I am going to start with a double feature: Planet Terror, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and Death Proof, directed by Quentin Tarantino, collectively known as Grindhouse.
You can certainly search and watch the two films separately, but I can’t strongly recommend the Grindhouse presentation enough. For one thing, the entire presentation will include the faux theater ratings and the Acuna Boys restaurant ad, but it also contains the great mostly fake trailers made by some famous director. I say ‘mostly’ because the first faux trailer before Planet Terror is Machete, which Rodriguez eventually turned into a film. When that happened, I held so much hope that we would eventually see all those trailers turned into movies by the same directors, but it never happened.
What’s great about the whole presentation is how the creators involved tried to recreate the entire Grindhouse experience of the ’70s for an audience in the present day complete with missing reels, and all the pops and scratches that were present in the films of that era.
The trailers themselves are mini works of art that reference 70’s films in various ways. Machete harkens back to films like Death Race 2000 where the fun is the body count as well as the lone hero films like Billy Jack.
Rodriguez has upped the violence and gore and brought a more current political climate to the tale. The rest of the trailers appear after the presentation of Planet Terror and I will discuss them in the order presented.
Werewolf Women of the SS from Rob Zombie references Nazi exploitation films with a great historical reference twist. The regency is after the fall of Nazi Germany in WWII, there was a German Nazi resistance movement called Werewolves. Knowing his history, Zombie takes that knowledge and smartly twists it into a concept of a Nazi scientist trying to create werewolf soldiers and hey why not throw in fictional supervillain Fu Manchu played by Nick Cage.
Again this is Zombie flexing his knowledge as Fu Manchu was not just a villain of comics and films but a literary creation of the 1920s and would have certainly been a part of movie serials.
Then there is Don’t directed by Edgar Wright who blends the style of Hammer and haunted house movies like the House on Haunted Hill into a demented little gem with shocks and laughs.
What I have also found so impressive about this one is that it no only references the films but if you have ever watched film trailers of the era it very much has that pattern starting with one jump scare into another until it builds to a mania of them. Finally, there is Thanksgiving directed by Eli Roth that is not only a reference to the Halloween films but even more so to the gorier slashers of the 80s like Blood Rage and the Mutilator. When I saw this film in the theaters I literally heard gasps during this trailer.
Moving onto the films, Planet Terror is a fun gory quasi-zombie movie with lots of great moments. The scenes involving Dakota and her needles have been known to make several of my friends squirm for example. Its storyline is not so much an homage to a single film or genre as several from the siege films of Carpenter to the zombie movies of Romero with a lot of Rodriguez’s trademark violence and humor. And of course, there is a memorable cameo from Tarantino. The one thing to note about the story of this one is that it moves a lot quicker and has a lot more substance to its characters than most of the grindhouse cinema of the era. The one-story element I feel like is a throwback to those movies is the lack of explanation of El Rey’s infamy and Dakota’s quick turn around after the death of her son. A characteristic of grindhouse is honestly thin backstories and bizarre character evolutions and motivations.
The second film Death Proof by Tarantino is not so much a horror movie per se and a lot slower but still very enjoyable. Tarantino has stated he wanted to make a slasher film but felt the genre to constraining and so decided to blend another of his favorite genres to create a style closer to his style of filmmaking. This movie is more of an homage to the road/car movies of the ’70s, several of which are said by a character in a conversation. I have often heard the pace of this movie is too slow but when you realize the films he is homaging you understand what he is trying to do.
Finally going back to the audience’s reactions I experienced is another reason I love this one so much. It was Tarantino and Rodriguez making something they wanted to see and were not as invested in what would work for audiences. It’s probably why it was one of the more unpopular ventures of the two men but that’s also why I champion the movie whenever I can. It is going to be easy to find the movies separately but the film is available for streaming in its entirety on Vudu and iTunes and best of all free on YouTube in HD. Finally, get some popcorn and a soda or your favorite beer and a pizza and seat down and watch it all in one big 193-minute viewing, trust me it’s the best way.
Join Ray, Tori, and Shawn for a short, impromptu episode where we discuss Pascal Laugier’s 2008 masterpiece Martyrs, as well as the New Wave of French Extreme Cinema that Laugier’s film is often associated with. ALSO, we lost a legend this week, and we pay tribute to John Saxon. Saxon left his mark on the genre film world with many films, and we’ll talk briefly about those, as well as one you may not have heard of before!
Also, here’s that short fan-fiction mash-up of Martyrs and High Tension I wrote a few years back. It’s posted on my account with the Horror Amino.
After the events of High Tension Marie escapes the hospital she was remanded to by killing a nurse and several orderlies with a scalpel and a length of cord from a lamp. She regains control over her body and wanders the French countryside, afraid to talk to or befriend anyone. She knows The Killer inside her is never far off.
Marie is found by Etienne, who after witnessing Mademmoiselle’s suicide upon learning what Anna saw beyond this plane has been chilled into a panic. After the events of Martyrs Etienne took a small portion of their philosophical group with him and struck out to re-create the experiment, only in a slightly less-extreme fashion. His thinking is the road the Martyr travels to glimpse the other side may directly affect what they see. Under Mademoiselle the group relied on suffering to afford their subjects’ a glimpse; Etienne would try something different.
They set up in an old barn in the countryside and begin looking for subjects.
Marie stumbles across the barn and at first thinks no one is there. She attempts to use it for shelter from a storm but soon meets Etienne and his people. She warns them that she carries an evil inside her that she cannot control. This intrigues Etienne and he has his people overpower Marie and bring her to their makeshift lab.
When she awakes Etienne tells Marie Anna’s story. He says he thinks they can help one another, that he wants to try to separate her mind from The Killer’s and use him as the guinea pig for his new experiments. She agrees, “But only if it hurts him”, she does not care if it hurts her as well.
Marie undergoes sensory deprivation and this allows Etienne to isolate her mind so she doesn’t feel pain. Then he uses pictures of Alex to trigger The Killer who immediately frees himself and begins to kill Etienne’s co-conspirators. The Killer works his way through everyone, but when he is down to Etienne Marie manages to briefly take control again, just long enough to take a gun and shoot herself in the head. She doesn’t die immediately, and as Etienne comforts her in her final moments Marie whispers something to him. She dies and Etienne slowly gets up and leaves the house. As he exits he sees one of the people from his group is still alive. This person asks him what Marie told him and Etienne replies, “She told me that the next world is worse than this one. She said in this new world The Killer inside her will be a god and she a mouse.”
With that Etienne picks up a knife and cuts the survivor’s throat. Still bloody he takes the knife with him as he gets into a car and heads toward a town in the distance.
This past weekend Ray and Shawn dug into two highly anticipated Horror releases – Natalie Erika James’ Relic and Jeffrey A. Brown’s The Beach House. We do in-depth, spoiler-free reviews for both films, but if you’re like us and couldn’t wait to see them, you can listen after our show’s end musical theme and follow us into a full-spoiler discussion. But that’s not all! We also talk about another beach house-themed horror flick, 1984’s The Mutilator! And speaking of 1984, Shawn re-watched and LOVED Summer of ’84. Also discussed, the Altered Innocence Blu Ray for Knife + Heart, 2020’s Etheria Film Fest, The Burning, Matt Ruff’s novel Lovecraft Country, and Shawn finally tracked down a copy of Dante Tomascelli’s 1999 debut Desecration – was it worth his self-inflicted hype? Well, let’s just say we’ll leave the trailer here and let you condense the most memorable moments into a cool two minutes. No need to go further unless you’re a Tomascelli completist.
After a small website mishap – thank you Amy for the save – we’re back, with an episode we recorded nearly a month ago! Hear Ray, Anthony, Tori, and Shawn talk about what we’re watching to get through the Quarantine. Topics of discussion include but are not limited to: Emma Tammi’s The Wind, Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop (about due for a re-watch, eh?), CHUD II: Electric Boogaloo, and Laird Barron’s third book in the Isaiah Coleridge series, Worse Angels. Also, Sara Lotz’s haunted survival novel The White Road, and Anthony revisits Jamie Blanks’ 2001 millenial slasher Valentine. Does it hold up? Listening is half the battle!
Tori, Anthony, Ray, and Shawn gather via Zoom to discuss one of the greatest independent Horror movies of our time – Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void! Part homage to Fulci, Carpenter, and Barker, part practical FX masterpiece, let us tell you why we love this movie! Also discussed, Blood Quantum, Clive Barker’s debut novel The Damnation Game, and a whole lot more!
Still in Quarantine, Anthony, Chris, Ray, and Shawn gather remotely to discuss Travis Steven’s 2018 film Girl on the Third Floor. Also discussed, the criminally underrated REC series, the original Fright Night flicks, and Preston Fassel’s novel Our Lady of the Inferno.
Still relegated to meetings on Zoom but happy to help flatten the curve, Anthony, Ray, and Shawn meet to discuss what’s worth watching, the fate of big-box theatre chains, and… birds?
While the smart people in the world remain sheltered-in-place, Chris, Ray, and Shawn hold their first remote meeting to help give you recommendations for what to watch and read while we’re all trying to Flatten the Curve! Plus – a brief remembrance of Stuart Gordon and the films by him we love!
Hear our Spoiler-Free Review for the feel-good hit of the summer!
The fiends take a field trip to the local big box theatre to support the wide-release of Veronika Fran and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge. Is it worth seeing in theatres? Hell yes! Why? Supporting smaller horror movies who get big chain distribution means other smaller films may get a chance to break through the monotony of the studio system. Plus, The Lodge is freakin’ awesome! Hear our reaction, as well as thoughts on Netflix’s October Faction and Black Spot, Vampire Circus, Joe Begos’ Bliss, Castlevania, 2011’s Fright Night remake, and a host of other horror-filled delights. Also, this episode’s Classic Corner is 80s favorite The Gate! Check it out!
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!
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!
Shawn tells you in six-and-a-half minutes why you should GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!
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?
We’re back with a double-sized mutha-f*&ka of an episode! Tori, Anthony, Ray, and Shawn watch and review Jaron Henrie-McCrea’s WONDERFUL The Gateway (aka Curtain), which is streaming on Prime, Tubi, and Vudu for free and everyone should watch. Then we go into our “What the hell did we watch?” roundtable where topics of conversation include but are not limited to Tori’s review of Neil Marshal’s Hellboy, Anthony’s review of Blumhouse’s Black Christmas, Shawn’s review of Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made, and Ray’s analysis of Cutting Class. Yes, that Cutting Class. After that, we have Tobe Hooper’s 1982 masterpiece Poltergeist as our Classic Corner pick, and then we take turns giving you our favorite Horror Films of 2019, and the decade! That’s right folks – a new decade is upon us!
In this episode, we gather to watch and discuss James Gunn’s 2006 slime-encrusted masterpiece, Slither. Ray was a bit concerned this one would be too gross for him. Was he right? Click play and find out.
The discussion also includes but is not limited to: Anthony’s return to Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, Shawn’s final verdict on AHS 1984, Tori’s reaction to Jennifer Kent’s Babadook follow-up The Nightengale, Ray’s theatrical screening of Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse.
Oh yeah, and our Classic Corner pick this episode is none other than Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining!
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!
No, we do not talk about Frankenstein in this episode. This is the “Frankenstein” episode because due to faulty batteries and an increasing amount of Octoberfest beer, we had to record this one three times, well into the wee hours of the morning. This one is a ‘slow burn,’ but the conversation meanders into some, frankly, pretty cool places, so strap in for Chris and Tori’s reaction to Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad in Little Monsters, Ray’s first encounter with the convoluted masterpiece that is Lamberto Bava’s Demons series, Gaspar Noé’s Climax, AHS: 1984 and Apocalypse, Chillerama, and, oh yeah, how Nubbins from Texas Chainsaw 2 recently ran afoul of TSA security! All that, and a whole lot more.
Holy smokes – Shawn just returned from the Screamfest Premiere of Jen and Sylvia Soska’s remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid and he is foaming at the f*&king mouth for it. Why? Listen to this under ten-minute quick take and find out why you need to get infected ASAP!
Pardon the free-form feel of this quick episode, but it’s late and we’ve just arrived home after the sensory overload experience that is Joe Begos’ BLISS! More on that in a moment, though, as Shawn and Ray give you a quick recap of our Beyondfest experiences for the week. We start with a recap of Joe Bob Brigg’s How Rednecks Saved Hollywood – definitely not horror, but when a two-and-a-half-hour lecture about where Rednecks come from and how they eventually came to define Hollywood is this good AND it’s presented by the premiere Horror Host of our era, you’re damn right we’re talking about it on our podcast! Follow that with a screening of the newly re-gorified cut of Tammy and the T-Rex and, well, that’s the best Monday night we’ve had in quite some time. Then, as mentioned above, shortly before recording this we attended a Double Feature of Joe Begos’ two new films, the psycho-delic vampire freakout Bliss, and the all-star siege horror of VFW and, well, are you starting to see why we love Beyondfest so much?
SPOILER FREE REVIEW: It’s the most wonderful time of the year as BeyondFest 2019 goes into full swing! Shawn flies solo on this quick take review of Richard Stanley’s new film, The Color Out of Space. H.P. Lovecraft adaptations are pretty damn tricky, but Mr. Stanley nails it. Find out why!
And there’s not a trailer yet, but being that Joe Begos’ VFW recently premiered at Fantastic Fest alongside Bliss, we may have two Begos flicks to look forward to before the year’s out, and that’s good news to us!
Also, there’s Richard Stanley’s The Color Out of Space, the new Benson and Moorehead Synchronic, and honestly, probably a few more we’re blanking on at the moment.
What an awesome freakin’ year!!!
Originally published in the Spring of 2018 as an Amazon exclusive, Horror Vision founder and co-host Shawn C. Baker’s break-out collection of short stories makes a new mark as the first Literary work published under the Horror Vision Press imprint. 7 Tales to chill your blood:
Scare Me: At a Hollywood movie premiere, Apple and Lucas discover a new app marketed toward enhancing the experience of upcoming horror film Scare Me. The app claims it can blur the lines of reality that separate the viewer from the film. Sounds cutting edge and cool, but can it really be a good idea to inhabit a horror flick’s reality? Probably not.
The Apartment: Upon returning to his home town, Devlin’s former bandmate Cole drops a bomb: the song they wrote and performed as an invocation to the Hebrew Angel of Terror? Not only did it work, but they didn’t complete their banishing ritual.
In His Arms, She Felt Loved: Vicki and Addison’s marriage has devolved to a violent charade, but when she kills him in self-defense, Vicki finds her problems are only beginning.
The Midnight Tree: A barback on Chicago’s southside searches for an elusive nightclub that has a long, infamous history.
Pentagram Girls: After his divorce, Gary discovers dating apps. Be careful Gary, you never know who you’ll meet online.
1422 Euclid: Sex addiction is a terrible thing. What’s worse are the creatures that feed on the addict’s pain.
A Collection of Desires: The couple that kills together stays together, right? Well, when Mark and April decide to murder her landlord, things go kind of awry…
Anthony and Shawn finally carve out a few minutes to give you their take on two of the biggest theatrical released Horror flicks this summer. They literally sit in a car and give you their spoiler-free reviews of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. Check it out and be sure to leave a comment here or on social media telling us if you agree or disagree!
The Horror genre is very important us here at The Horror Vision, but why? Well, this episode we spend a good chunk of time introducing ourselves, briefly summing up why and how we love Horror so much. After that, we watch Matthew Holness’ Possum. In between, topics of discussion include but are not limited to Tori’s obsession with Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 Suspiria remake/reimagining, remakes in general, and Stranger Things 3.
Anthony and Shawn went to the opening night of Midsommar, Ari Aster’s follow-up to 2018’s Hereditary. How was it? Let them tell you. WARNING – we’d recommend not listening to this or anything else about the movie before seeing it; always best to go in blind. That said, the first half of this short reaction episode is spoiler free. The second half – which is clearly delineated by THV’s infamous “Spoiler Klaxon,” is not. Listen to the first half before you see it, and the rest after.
You have been warned, people!
Anthony, Ray, and Shawn talk about re-watching last year’s Horror Hallmarks, Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart, Never Hiking Alone, and David Lynch’s Return to Twin Peaks before setting off with Writer/Director Dave McLean on a beautiful river ride in the picturesque Outback. Little do they know, there’s a Rogue Crocodile in the waters waiting to maim and eat them and Patch the Wonder Dog!
As has become their custom, Tori, Ray, Anthony, and Shawn gather on a Saturday night to talk about all the horror flicks they’ve watched since the last episode, then round the night out with a viewing of and reaction to Mike Mendez’s 2000 film The Convent. Other topics of discussion include The Nest, Pledge, Border, Sam Was Here, The Wind, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Season 1 part 2. Also, Anthony loves the new Mortal Combat game and Shawn is excited as all hell that HULU recently announced optioning author Nathan Ballingrud’s first book of short stories, North American Lake Monsters!
It’s Saturday night and Anthony, Ray, and Shawn are joined by good friends John* and Tori for a viewing of Jordan Downey’s awesome new film The Head Hunter, an instant low-budget classic that serves as a fantastic example of how a great film doesn’t necessarily need a ton of resources behind it. As usual, we start the show talking about all the great stuff we’ve found over the last few weeks – Anthony’s visit to Grindhouse Video in Tampa, Tori’s love of The Prophecy and Exorcist III, and John & Shawn’s LA excursion to I Like Scary Movies, to name a few. Sit back, close your eyes, and open your mind to… The Horror Vision!
*Also, check out John, AKA Jonathan Grimm’s unbelievable art HERE.
SPOILERS!!! Anthony, Shawn, Chris, and Suzy take in the first showing of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel Pet Sematary at their local theatre and have some pretty mixed reactions. Hear them unpack what they saw directly after they saw it, and try to come to terms with the pros and cons.
Ray, Anthony, and Shawn react to Jordan Peele’s Get Out follow-up, Us!
Anthony, Ray, and Shawn kick off their celebration of Women in Horror month with Jen and Syliva Soska’s American Mary. The body horror is in full effect as we, ahem, dissect this modern-day classic that stars the inimitable Katharine Isabelle, Tristan Rick, and Antonio Cupo.
It’s Saturday night and we’ve just had a viewing of Cold Hell! Pumped, Ray, Chris, Anthony, and Shawn decide to do an impromptu episode and talk about what they’ve seen recently, what they recommend you watch and why, what they recommend you don’t watch and why, and all kinds of tangential horror goodness in between!
This episode Anthony, Ray, and Shawn run down all the great horror movies they saw in 2018. Their favorites, the indies that deserve your time, the reasons why, and a lot of discussion on how great the world of Horror is at this moment and how it might just keep getting better!
A few weeks later than planned, but Anthony, Ray, and Shawn finally get a chance to tell you what they thought of Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 seminal horror classic Suspiria. Heavy spoilers on that one. Also discussed, Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Graham Reznick’s Dead Wax now on Shudder, and The Barn II’s indie go-go.
In a few days, the first episode of my new podcast will drop. The Horror Vision is a four-man discussion on all things horror, where my friends Ray, Anthony, Chris and employ a round-table, informal setting to wax philosophical on a featured movie every month. The format of the show will come into its own eventually, but for the moment we’ll begin each episode with a catch-up, spoiler-free discussion on anything we’ve seen since the last episode that we want to tell people about, and then move into the featured film, where spoilers will not be a consideration. For the first episode, which we recorded last Sunday and which should hopefully go up on our forthcoming website and iTunes tomorrow, we chose Benson and Moorehead’s The Endless. While we wait for that to drop, I’ve been thinking. I’ve started watching a lot of movies again, and I wanted to have a place to discuss them. I also wanted to start a new column on Joup since my previous one ended, so I figured, why not combine both? So welcome to the inaugural installment of The Horror Vision: The Column.
I’ve become quite the fan of Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier over the last few years. Blue Ruin and Green Room would both have been near the top of my year-end film lists in their respective years of release, if I still did year-end movie lists (and I actually might this year, what with all the amazing stuff released). When my good friend Mr. Brown messaged me two days ago that Saulnier’s new one, Hold The Dark, was hitting Netflix on Friday night, I knew exactly what I was going to be doing this weekend.
Is Hold the Dark horror? Not exactly. That’s what makes it all the more horrific and nightmare-like. This is the corner of the genre I reserve for films like No Country for Old Men, Green Room, and Blood Simple, among others. Disclaimer aside, let’s go ahead and get into it.
Hold the Dark is exceptional; in my mind, this is Saulnier’s first masterpiece. Nothing against his other films, but this is just… a level beyond. The control Saulnier has over the chaos of the setting, situations, and characters in this film is amazing, and it’s also what creates such a wonderful tension that sticks in the viewer’s craw, driving you on into this evolving nightmare. Think of Fargo, Season one, the way inevitability holds itself just behind you the entire time, tapping its fingers, reminding you what’s about to emerge from out of the dark. There’s a definite tonal relation to that here, and if you’ll allow me to digress for a moment to make a point, there’s some other relevant comparisons I’d like to make, if for no other reason than it explains how I feel about this movie by juxtaposing them with two other modern examples of what I see as a resurgence of what I can only think to call American Gothic, not a genre per se but a modern sensibility in storytelling that takes cues from Noir, Gumshoe Pulp, Southern Gothic, and the Western genre and runs them through the strange moral wilderness and decay of the twenty-first century.
If you remember, sometime in 2017 HBO announced that Jeremy Saulnier had been signed to direct all episodes of True Detective Season three, seemingly in an effort to return the serial to that “8-hour movie” format it had in its first season. After the fiasco of TD Sn2, where almost every episode felt like a spinning plate that never quite stopped spinning, what became apparent was that what made season one so engrossing and consistent was Cary Fukunaga directing all the episodes, just as what led to season two’s disaster piece was having no less than five different directors across eight episodes. The idea that someone as talented as Saulnier was signing on to take tonal control of the eminent third season excited me. And then Saulnier left the project, and that feeling I have had since season two that maybe the creator is a bit of a nightmare to work with resurfaced, and True Detective went back to being a show that has to earn back my time and interest.
I’d like to think that in Hold the Dark, Jeremy Saulnier made something that shows the producers of TD just what they could have had. Hold the Dark shares similar thematic and tonal DNA with Saulnier’s other work – the arduous but insistent pacing that manifests as a palpable weight on the film’s shoulders, strong characters who don’t give a toss what you might think of them in the name of doing what they have to do, arrows. But Hold the Dark also shares that same DNA with True Detective season one at its best, as well as, in my mind, another modern American Gothic masterpiece, the Cohen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men. There’s something curt about the way the exposition leaks out of the character’s lives as we join them in all these works, coagulating blood from a series of savaged wounds. It makes for an intensity in viewing that not many other recent stories have matched, and while it can be a little exhausting, that is part of the magic. You go through what the characters go through. And complementing this are the most stoic performances I’ve seen in some time – Jeffrey Wright, in particular, does such an immense job focusing Russell Core’s tenacity that at times he looks as though he is about to crumble, somehow without ever giving up the strength that radiates from his molten core (pun intended).
I watched Hold the Dark twice in a row last night – something I almost never do for pleasure – and can tell you I’ll jump at the chance to watch it again at any time. It’s that damn good.