In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Price of Fame.

This week, I finally managed to cross Starry Eyes off my list of must-see 2014 horror titles.

After auditioning for the lead in a horror film, Sarah (Alex Essoe) discovers she may have to give up more than she thought for the part.

This was one of those few occasions where I knew almost nothing going in other than it involved Hollywood, a satanic cult and had a lot of festival buzz behind it. I enjoyed that I didn't know exactly where it was going to go. Sure, its Tinsel Town metaphor may have been thinly veiled, but I couldn't help but smile through a lot of those moments.

In some ways, this film is a strange beast. It has a retro sensibility, but also doesn't get sucked into a lot of the usual trappings associated with this oft-used device. Helped along by a great synth score (to add to the many fantastic ones of 2014) it feels vintage yet modern at the same time. It reminded me of stuff I'd seen before - Ti West's House of the Devil and 2012's Canadian body horror flick Thanatomorphose were two that came to mind - yet this was one of those rare instances where a film subsequently improved upon those beats. Starry Eyes felt more well rounded and not just about one thing; there was a journey here, an arc.

Sarah (Alex Essoe) auditions for The Silver Scream.

Which brings me to lead actress Alex Essoe. She turned in a fine performance that not only required an emotional range, but a physical one, as well. Essoe's transformation takes her far away from the sweet and innocent soul she begins the film as. In addition to Essoe, there were a lot of familiar faces from the indie horror scene including Pat Healy, Noah Segan, Amanda Fuller and, of course, Marc Senter being his usual eccentric screwball self. The majority of the characters in Starry Eyes may not be the most three-dimensional you've ever seen, but at least they are memorable. I thought Maria Olsen as the casting director had this great Miss “Suspiria” Tanner vibe going on and Louis Dezsern steals both scenes he's in as the sleazy producer.

The producer (Louis Dezsern) up to no good.

Which reminds me that I also want to commend co-writer/directors Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer for being able to toe the line of bad taste. The subject matter is that of films made over the last ten years by the likes of Lucky McKee and his entourage, but Kolsch & Widmyer seemed to know how to regulate the amount of lasciviousness. They know how to repulse, but not anger. At least me anyway.

Starry Eyes is a solid little film that is well made and anchored by a strong lead. In a year stocked with really great indies I hope this one doesn't get overlooked. It may seem superficial at first, but its undertones run deeper.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell.

I watched the Japanese 1968 flick Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell last night.

As you can see, this one’s a wee bit strange. With equal parts aliens and vampires, it gives you about as much as a decidedly PG-rated film can.

One of the four genre efforts (GenocideThe X From Outer Space and The Living Skeleton being the others) from Japanese studio Shochiku, a label better known for straight-up dramas, I can see the visual style of the film’s opening sequence influencing both Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon (1980) and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003).

All four aforementioned titles are currently available through Criterion in a four-disc set entitled When Horror Came To Shochiku.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

DKTM 255

Hey all. It's been a solid weekend filled with the new season of House of Cards and watching Rousey defend her title in fourteen seconds flat, but now it's time for some genre news.

Picture The Void.

The IndieGogo campaign for The Void has been going excellently, with over ten-thousand dollars raised in less than a week. On Thursday, the filmmakers (Steve Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie) announced perhaps their best contribution perks yet.

These three posters were commission from some of the best in the business (Graham Humprheys, Justin Erickson and Gary Pullin respectively). One-hundred twenty dollars will get you one of these three (each limited to 100) prints, and three hundred will get you the trio.

To visit the campaign page, click here.

Black Museum V.

The fifth semester of the Toronto lecture series, The Black Museum kicked off last Thursday with a screening of Andrea Bianchi's batshit crazy film Burial Ground on 35mm.

Poster art by Trevor Henderson

Before the screening, they announced the first lectures of their fifth stanza. Check it out!

For more info on The Black Museum, go here.

Sans Head.

Headless, the companion piece to Found, one of my favourite films of 2013, has a new trailer.

I'm liking what I'm seeing here. I think the addition of the kid mirrors the dynamic of Found in an interesting way. If you are lucky enough to be in Indiana, you can catch an encore screening (the premiere was last night) today at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in Bloomington at 7pm. Say hi to Scott for me.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Enter The Void

On this glorious Friday, I want to bring your attention to an important IndieGogo campaign. As some of you may know, Canadian gore gurus Steve Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie's newest project is a dark little nightmare called The Void. Unlike their previous works with Astron 6, their intention here is straight up horror. Think stuff like Silent Hill and Event Horizon by way of H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter.

You may be thinking, hey The Void is going to camera this summer, why do they need more money? Well, that is a good question, with an even better answer. But I'll let these two maniacs lay it out for you themselves.

It basically comes down to these guys being able to properly deliver their warped vision with no compromises. If you've seen their previous work, you know that resources are basically the only thing holding these guys back - and barely even then.

So, take a trip over to the campaign page here and contribute. There's a ton of great perks available and you can take pride in knowing you helped make The Void's creatures come to life in all their splattered, sinewy glory. Welcome to the fold!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Roberta Findlay

For the final Trailer Tuesday of Women In Horror Month, I am showcasing one of their more prolific filmmakers.

Roberta Findlay wore many hats during her long career in the business. She began making sexploitation flicks in the sixties with her husband Michael Findlay and the pair of them were on the vanguard of filmmakers that mixed sex with violence. In 1971, she served as cinematographer on The Slaughter, which would later be infamously re-edited as Snuff.

After the tragic death of her husband in 1977, she eventually moved onto more mainstream fare and directed several horror flicks including the ones below.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Kind Of Girl.

After being foiled on several occasions by inclement weather and ill-conceived show times, I finally got to catch Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

In the lonesome town of Bad City, a nomadic vampire and a petty criminal cross paths and strike up a relationship.

So, was it worth the wait? Absolutely. I enjoyed this film for several reasons. First, Girl has this wonderful otherworldly essence. Bad City was sprawling yet only seemed to be inhabited by the dozen or so characters we see in the film and no one seemed to question the pit of dead bodies right on the outskirts of town. The film was shot in California, but to be honest if someone had said it was made in the Middle East, I wouldn't have questioned it.

I should mention that anyone walking in expecting a straight-up horror film may be disappointed, as in many ways it is barely a genre film. I liken Girl a lot to last year's Spring in that it is ostensibly a romance with one of the parties not being what they appear to be. The main difference here is that Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead are dialogue driven folks and Amirpour clearly favours a more minimalist approach. Considering what Girl does offer though, I had no problems with this whatsoever.

Amirpour uses visuals to tell the story, especially in the characterization of the Girl herself, for which Sheila Vand is terrific. I always appreciate performances that give us more with a look than any line of dialogue could. I also really liked the music in the film, which was good as I feel that the director may have leaned on it a bit too much in some sequences.

In addition to Vand though, the cat in the film almost stole the show. The more I think about the film, the more I am questioning whether it was actually about his adventures.

This feline's name is Masuka and he is one of the best cat actors I have ever seen! It was so refreshing to see a cat in a genre film that wasn't used as fodder for someone to find mangled in the last act. I'd love to see a spin-off movie with him!

I can also see how it may not be everyone's cup of blood, but I thought A Girl Who Walks Alone At Night was a vibrant and engaging tale about two lost souls (and a cat), and makes no apologies for foregoing the bells and whistles of modern genre storytelling. This is exactly the kind of stuff the film-going community should be nurturing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

DKTM 254

It looks like we've got a one day reprieve from the deep freeze here. It's really sad when you're glad that it is only a single digit negative outside. Anyway, I'm running behind today, so here's today's all-video DKTM.

Blocks of Horror.

For those who aren't aware, Nerd Block & Rue Morgue have been running a short film competition over the last few months. Some of the submissions are well... something, but there are a handful that I'm happy to support. Here below are three of my favourites that were either extremely polished and/or showed some kind enthusiasm.

The contest is still accepting submissions and votes until March 16th. Click here to see the rest.

Trailer Trash.

A couple of trailers hit the Web this week. The first is a new trailer for one of my faves from last year, Justin Benson & Aaron Morehead's sophomore effort Spring.

I am a big fan of this movie. They took the great character stuff from their debut and expanded their act by moving from a stuffy cabin to the beautiful Italian countryside. Spring releases on March 20th. The second trailer is for local boy Gabriel Carrer's The Demolisher.

I'm digging the retro revenge vibe and it's also nice to see actor Ry Barrett front and center on this one.

Hardcastle Lets It Go.

I always look forward to the work of Lee Hardcastle and this Friday, he unveiled his latest creation, a mash-up of Disney's Frozen and The Thing.

Experiencing the words of Donald Moffatt spoken by a claymation reindeer was just the pick-me-up I needed right now. Hopefully, it is for you too.