Friday, July 24, 2015

Creepshow Documentary on IndieGoGo!

You know those feature-length retrospective making-of Docs that are so popular right now, like Never Sleep Again about the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise or either of the Friday the 13th series docs? Well, there's one about George A Romero's EC-riffing classic Creepshow, and they need your help to secure distribution!

Written by Stephen King and directed by George Romero in 1981, this classic anthology film features five tales of terror (six if you include the wraparound segment): Father's Day involves a murdered patriarch and his revenge on the titular holiday, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill involves a redneck idiot and a very tenacious mold from a meteorite, Something to Tide You Over details a spurred man's twisted revenge plot against his wife and her lover that ends up turning back on him, The Crate is about a mysterious box found under a stairwell in an empty college, and They're Creeping Up on You is about a Howard Hughes-type germaphobic and his grisly fate. It would be followed by a lesser-quality, though still fun, sequel in 1987 and an atrocious direct-to-DVD third in 2007 (though true fans consider Tales From the Darkside: The Movie to be the real Creepshow 3).

Up until now there have been only fairly bare-boned DVDs and BluRays, or editions with very little extra material, so Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow truly is an oasis in the desert that has defined Creepshow special features up til now. The documentary by special feature extraordinaire Michael Felsher is already available in Europe (of course) but it's been unable to find distribution here in the States, so the IndieGoGo campaign is for the self-distribution of the film on BluRay. There's only one Perk -incentives for paying certain amounts- but boy is it a good one! For only $25, you'll get the BluRay, a booklet with rare behind-the-scenes photos and shit, and, best of all, a poster of the yet to be revealed cover art! Of course you can pay any amount you want, but that's pretty damn good for just 25 clams, so click the link right here below and find out why God made fathers, babe...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Leviathan, In Both Name and Length

Everyone knows that Clive Barker's Hellraiser is one of not just my favorite horror films but favorite FILMS in general. It's just so interesting and unusual, not to mention the stunningly unique visuals. Then you have Hellbound, which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the best horror sequels out there, managing to expand upon the mythos hinted at in the first film without showing us too much. Imagine my pants-wetting joy at discovering one of those feature length documentaries all about one particular horror franchise that seems to be all the rage these days was announced and subsequently released, and it was going to focus on just the first two films in the series, and it was almost laughably long! Sadly, it doesn't really live up to it's lofty and majestic title.

The DVD, which is only available through the production company's UK website (don't worry, it supports PayPal and can translate your good God-fearin' US dollars to...whatever they use for currency in England. Animal hides, I guess?), comes with three discs; the first disc is dedicated solely to the first film and runs almost four hours, the second is just about Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 and goes on about three and a half, and the third is just special features that play about three hours total. So, basically you're getting a hell of a lot of movie for your money, it's just unfortunate it's a wildly uneven viewing experience.

Like I said, the first disc is four whole hours focusing just on the first film, and boy to you really feel the length. For one thing, it's incredibly dry and...well...English in its presentation, with practically everyone being interviewed in front of a blank black background and with little behind the scenes footage or pics to break up the monotony. It doesn't help that there's absolutely no new information here that wasn't available on the 20th Anniversary DVD released by Anchor Bay a few years ago, and they did it in just a quarter of the time.

Luckily things pick up on the second disc, and they manage to pass along some interesting tales and tidbits I didn't know despite the dull black backgrounds and lack of vintage footage. Then they sort of muck (look, I learned some Britain-speak from this doc) things up again with the third disc, most of the "special features" being just re-edited and rearranged bits of talking head footage we already heard before. Really the only interesting features are a piece about the design and construction of the LeMerchant Box/Lament Configuration, one about the English rock band whose music was originally going to be the only music in the film before composer Christpher Young came on board, and a short piece about the making of Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth.

Watching both halves of this almost eight hour doc, you'll notice two very important faces missing. First, our main protagonist of both Hellraiser AND Hellbound, Ashley "Kirsty Cotton" Lawrence, is nowhere to be seen. Secondly, and most conspicuously, the creator of the film and "professional imaginer," Clive Barker is missing. I'd like to think that perhaps it was just a scheduling issue as Mr. Barker has been crazy busy the last two years with The Cabal Cut of Nightbreed, the recent blu ray release of his underappreciated horror noir classic Lord of Illusion, and his latest novel, The Scarlet Gospels, among other projects taking up I'm sure a large chunk of his time. But, he's said many times in interviews he is truly sick to death of talking about Hellraiser, so I'm thinking he declined to be involved, which I suppose I can understand though surely a short little interview wouldn't have been such a problem.

Much like the films it's based on, Leviathan is a flawed but interesting piece of cinema. I give Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II 7 out of 10 instances of the phrase "elephant cum."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Gallows Will Leave You Hanging

Found footage movies tend to get something of a bad rap these days. Chalk it up to sub-genre overcrowding or the way most of them tend to be somewhat identical, but even the most casual horror fan seems to be rolling their eyes at them these days. Then the trailer for The Gallows dropped. A "cursed" play, teens trapped in a dark school auditorium, and what appears to be supernatural slasher villain, with the whole thing set to a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric slowed down version of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit?' AND its rated R instead of their precious PG-13? Well shit, where do I sign up?! Of course, after having seen it I can say the best thing about it was it's 80 minute running time.

We start our story in the distant year of 1993 where we see one of the young actors accidentally hanged for real when the titular prop malfunctions, then skip 22 years ahead to the day before opening night of the same play, the first time the school board is allowing The Gallows to be performed since the tragic mishap. After the serendipitous discovery of a stage door with a broken lock, two jocks and a cheerleader who are only working on the play because its required (in what fucking Nebraska high school is it required to take drama?!) decide to come back late that night and wreck the set. Why? Idda know, high school jocks I guess. Once they come back that night they do the least amount of damage possible before they're discovered by the girl they mockingly refer to as the "Drama Queen" and then promptly find every door locked, including the one they came in through that was supposedly broken. We then get the honor of watching these wildly obnoxious characters run around the same two hallways for 60 minutes. Three cheers for us.

 Let me just start by saying I have no idea why this thing is rated R when there's not a drop of blood and only the most obvious of jump scares. I can only assume they remembered all the cash the R-rated The Conjuring made and just assumed it was the seemingly random rating that did it. You know, instead of being well directed, written, and acted, which this certainly is not. Well, if we're being honest I suppose the direction of a found footage movie doesn't really matter as its intended to look as though an amateur is behind the camera (lucky). And honestly the writing is THAT bad I guess. Yeah there's no real organic flow behind the sequence of events and they characters are pretty stock, but the basic story really did have some promise and there were a couple good scenes, including the first part of the two part ending. Really its the acting of our four leads, all of whom share the first name of the respective characters they play (presumably because they're all such bad actors they couldn't keep a character name AND their actual name in their heads at the same time), are about as bland and uninspired as you can possibly get.

The good half of the ending.

I guess the worst thing about The Gallows is just how inoffensive and blah it is. It's about a middle-of-the-road as John Kerry, nowhere near as bad a found footage film as Area 407 or The Pyramid, but nowhere near as good as [Rec] or VHS 2. Not good, not bad, just kinda there, I give The Gallows 5 out of 10 gaping plot holes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee: 1922-2015

God damn this sucks. This is the hardest sentence I've ever had to write, but genre legend Christopher Lee is dead at the age of 93.

Born in 1922, Lee's first acting gig was in 1946 in the early TV show Kaleidoscope back when television was practically brand new. He spent the next several years starring in dozens of stageplays while being relegated to minor roles in TV and film until 1957, when he played the best damn Frankenstein Monster since Karloff, imbuing him with an almost wounded animal sympathy, in The Curse of Frankenstein. One year later, his terrifying turn as a truly vicious Dracula (the role he would reprise multiple times and refuse to speak about for years) in The Horror of Dracula would cement him as a horror superstar and the face of Hammer Studios. The late 50s to the early 70s were his heyday, with starring roles in such classics as The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The City of the Dead (AKA Horror Hotel), Hercules in the Haunted World, The Gorgon, The Skull, Scream and Scream Again, Horror Express, and of course The Wicker Man (which Lee himself said several times was his favorite of all his film roles).

Sadly the fall of Hammer shoved Lee out of the spotlight, once again relegating him to voice and TV work, until he was introduced to a whole new generation of fans thanks to appearances in several Tim Burton movies (like Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and his roles in the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings films as Count Dooku and Saruman, respectively. He continued working until the day he died, with one film, Angels in Notting Hill, finished and had another, The 11th, in pre-production.

In addition to holding the record for the most films roles by an actor, Lee was a classically trained singer who somewhere along the line fell in love with metal, recording with Italian fantasy metal band Rhapsody and releasing not one but SIX solo metal albums including a concept album about Charlemange! All around multi talented man, and he will be deeply missed by all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Pyramid - Sorely Lacking a Point

Hey, you know what really grinds my gears? When a film adopts a gimmick solely because its what's perceived to be "popular" at the time and then promptly abandons said gimmick. Sorry, didn't really give you any time to answer, I was too excited. Well, since I've already told you let me give you an example. Let's say a film about a father/daughter archeology team and a two-person documentary crew go in to investigate a newly discovered Egyptian pyramid, and again I'm pulling this example totally out of my ass here, and the film tries to sell itself as a found footage film but then every single other shot in the film is just traditional camera work. Filmmakers, if you're going for a gimmick, DO THE FUCKING GIMMICK! Either all in or all out, because the audience can sense you're trepidation and half-assery.

Of course, this is far less irritating when the film in question is awful regardless of showmanship, and that describes The Pyramid to a tee. First time director Gregory Levasseur --who, ironically enough considering the trite and strangely familiar screenplay, is a writer by trade-- essentially gives us a significantly less interesting version of last year's As Above So Below but in Egypt and populated with deplorable characters who constantly lie to one another about shit they all already know for absolutely no reason. No really, its the same lost-in-a-mindfucky-labyrinth-with-ancient-dead-languages-on-the-walls-giving-clues-while-culturally-specific-supernatural-shit-happens plot as the Paris-set film. Granted some interesting things happen in roughly the last twenty minutes while AASB's finale was something of a colossal clusterfuck, but by that point its WAY to little WAY to late, especially when you factor in the PS1-level CG used for effects that very easily could've been done practically and the various little absurdities of the characters and plot (really, a documentary cameraman can rewire state-of-the-art NASA technology but he can't make the light on top of his camera come back on?).

That's similar to the face I had while watching. She's missing the slight drunken glaze that fell over my eyes about half-way through.

A half-assed gimmick of a film that really couldn't have been saved regardless, I give The Pyramid 3 out of 10 of those gross hairless cats.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Insidious Chapter 3

Astute readers may remember I absolutely ADORED the film Insidious, brought to us by the writer/director team that also gave the world Saw and Dead Silence, and I greatly enjoyed the sequel despite it being a bit to convoluted for it's own good, so when I heard a third film was in the works I was elated. Hell, I sorta almost cracked a smile! Then it was revealed Leigh Whannel would pick up triple duty by not just writing and reprising his role of hapless ghost hunter Specs, but directing as well. Suddenly the world was rife with questions, the big one being would he just copy and paste what series director James Wan had done, or would he surprise us all and bring his own unique style? Surely you can understand my concern, seeing as sequels to Wan films tend to not have the best track record.

Sometimes they fall off the track completely and break both ankles right at the beginning of the race.

So our film starts out an unknown amount of time before the events of the first film (that's right, a prequel with a number attached as though its a sequel, a fairly big pet peeve of mine), I would set it around 2004 or 2005, and follows the story Quinn, a high school senior and actress hopeful whose attempts to contact her recently deceased mother lead to her attracting the attention of a demon known as The Man Who Can't Breath. After a car accident leaves her bedridden with two broken legs and at the mercy of the super groddy entity, it's up to Lin Shaye's psychic Elise, who also recently lost a loved one and vowed to never use her powers again, to help her before he can add her soul to his teen girl zoo (go on, tell me that's not what's going on!) in The Further. Along the way we see Elise and her ghost-lovin' colleagues Specs and Tucker meet for the first time, we have references to the other two films that actually make sense story-wise instead of being blatant obnoxious fan service, and we set up another obligatory sequel.

  Also, the guy who played Gavin in three episodes of 'Friends' is in it as Quinn's dad, so that's worth the ticket price alone.

So you're probably wondering what the answer to my question at the end of the first paragraph was, and I'm pleased to report it was the latter of the two options I put forth.Whannell shows us a more restrained, realistic --realism being a relative term here of course-- version of Insidious that focuses more on the relationships in the film than the outright scary stuff. That means this film moves at a slower, more methodical pace than the other two films, which would explain why this one hasn't really been getting the best reviews ever written. Well, that and the fact that Mr. Whannell seems to have, let's say, slacked a bit in the writing department to focus more of his energy on the visual aspect. There are a few holes here and there, some story threads that just seem to either languish or come out of nowhere, and my God the last 10 minutes were so shmaltzy and sickeningly saccharine I had to test my blood sugar levels after.

Plus, remember Sidekicks? As if anyone actually had one of those.

What we're left with is a flawed though still interesting and well made entry in a fantastic series that could easily go on forever, and I'm sure it probably will as long as Blumhouse Productions stays in business. I give Insidious Chapter 3 7 out of 10 delicious cupcakes.

PS: Look how goddam gorgeous mohawk Tucker is!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

10 More Favorite Creepypastas

Hey, remember a while back when when those two vile cunts with preexisting mental issues tried to sacrifice a 10-year-old girl to a non-existent entity and the media freaked out about how those new fangled 'creepypastas' were destroying the minds of our children (apparently movies, music, comic books, books in general, and the gays were taking the week off) and I wrote this article in defense of pastas? Yeah, I'm doing it again so I can talk about all the stories I didn't get a chance to originally. If you don't know what the holy hell I'm talking about, just go back and read the first one before advancing.

1999 is the story of one kid who stumbled across a public access channel, with every separate show seemingly shot in one guy's basement and recorded on a camcorder, that is revealed to be a trap designed to entice children to come so the man behind it, who calls himself Mr. Bear and wears a matted bear costume, can kidnap, torture, and sacrifice them. As I said before in Part 1 of my little burgeoning series, I'm a sucker for pastas that are written in an interesting way, and 1999 --the year the "author" of this story first saw the channel-- falls right into that being written in the style of a blog that spans the course of perhaps a couple years, being "updated" every time he learns something new about what happened. This is easily one of the most realistic pastas out there with nary a supernatural being or happening to be seen. It's also one of the longest I've seen, but the pacing is absolutely fucking perfect. I can't recommend this one enough.

You can read it here.

Ed, Edd, and Eddy: Lost Episode
 As I've stated before, I'm a big fan of the "Lost Episode" type of creepypasta, and this one, based on the popular Cartoon Network show from the late-90s/early-00s, is one of the best out there because of it's nonviolent-and-all-the-creepier-for-it images. Images like Rolf fisting a cow in a dark shed, an eyeless Jimmy crawling out from under Nazz's couch and swallowing her head, and shots of Double D portrayed in claymation for some reason laying unmoving on Eddy's floor.

You can read it here.

Gateway of the Mind
This one takes place in 1983 and details an experiment conducted by a group of scientists who've theorized that if a person were cut off from their senses they could see and talk to God. What follows is an account of what happened when they tested the theory on an old man.

You can read it here.

Lost Episodes
This is a particularly meta pasta, written by the incredible Slimebeat, that puts forth the idea that not only are all 'lost episode' pastas true, but they were all created by one deeply disturbed guy.

You can read it here.

This one, about a morbidly obese hoarder and the personal hell he's created around himself, is so sad and depressing I'd go so far as to say its less of a creepypasta and almost a full fledged feelspasta (a story meant to totally bum you out).

You can read it here.

Room Zero/A Few Suggestions
These are two separate stories, but since they act as a sequel and prequel respectively of the insanely popular Abandoned By Disney I decided to count them as one. While nowhere near as popular as ABD, I love Room Zero, which features the same protagonist as he is stalked by Mickey heads and learns about an awful thing that occurred at Disneyland in the 60s that lead to the death(?) of several hundred park-goers. Suggestions, on the other hand, is written as several suggestion cards, presumably found at the old Disney attraction from the first story and written by different employees might possibly give clues as to what the thing found there is.

You can read them here and here.

Mr. Mix
Astute readers may remember I stated in my first list I'm not a fan of 99.9% of video game creepypastas. Mr Mix, one of those games designed to teach kids to type but instead taught them to have extremely vivid nightmares, is in the other 0.1%.

You can read it here.

Rap Rat
Remember those board games from the 80s and 90s that came with a VHS tape you're supposed to play when you play the physical game? Rap Rat is one such game that the protagonist is terrorized by as a kid and then again as an adult and may contain a Haitian demon.

You can read it here.

So, in case you haven't noticed by me placing four stories by him on this list alone, I love me some Slimebeast. This story is about a kid on a long road trip with his parents. They come across a seemingly lovely local amusement park and decide to stop, but things slowly start to go to shit, culminating in the least fun tunnel ride ever.

You can read it here.

The Theater
Last, but certainly not least, The Theater is another in that 0.1% of video game pastas I actually like. It's relatively short so I can't really say much, but it's the simplicity that makes it so wonderful, so read it.

You can read it here.