Thursday, June 25, 2015

Asmodexia (2014) review by Vincent Daemon

Director: Marc Carrete
Starring: Irene Montala, Marina Duran
Review by: Vincent Daemon

Whilst galloping through Netflix the other night, I decided to run through my (rather long) “to be watched” list. I was looking for something decidedly different, when I happened across a film that I’ve been wanting to watch for some time now, but just haven’t had the chance. It’s subtitled, and as of late (due to an extenuating set of outlying circumstances) I just haven’t had the attention span for that. But this night, however, did indeed enable me that time.

The name of this film? ASMODEXIA, the 2014 debut of spanish filmmaker (and co-writer, along with Mike Hostench) Marc Carrete. And my opinion of this debut? Muchas gracias, Senior Carrete, for bringing something truly different to the international horror community.

Not entirely without some minor faults of vaguery that lay embedded deep within the storyline (some of which may in fact be intentional),  this is the best “possession” film I’ve seen since 2010’s unnerving found-footage film THE LAST EXORCISM, and 1995’s hysterically brilliant and horrific DAY OF THE BEAST, directed by (one of my personal favorites) Alex de la Iglesia, before that.

ASMODEXIA tells a strange and evermore startling tale of a Grandfather and his beautiful, late-teens/early-twenties granddaughter, who roam the various parched wastes of everywhere from Madrid to Barcelona and everywhere in between, conducting violent, mucousy, intense exorcisms, though of a strikingly vague nature. And in that way, it is a film that requires fully uninterrupted attention.

I’m not really going to dispel any of the plot, as that would be incredibly difficult to do within the span of this review, but I will say that all is not as it seems, and a bit of a prior knowledge about the belief systems and philosophies of Gnosticism, Thelema, Luciferianism, and general religion versus the occult wouldn’t hurt, either. Nor would being able to decipher a bit of Latin (which I also can, to a degree - - - enough to get the general gist of what exactly is being invoked). The film is incredibly deep, twisting, as there is to be a “Resurrection” of a god, though that Being is never named, lending a slight Lovecraftian tone to the proceedings that only increases in its own understatement as the film progresses, especially when certain cult and familial lineages are introduced and brought to fruition (I only say that as I guessed some things a few minutes in and happened to be correct). That’s is all I will say about the incredibly well thought, intelligent, and perfectly-confusingly structured plot of the film.

There are certain tropes “infectious,” even inherent, within the recently resuscitated Possession/Exorcist-genre of the horror film, some that one would think seemingly unavoidable, yet Carete & Hostench seem to have done so very well. This is NOT your typical God vs. Satan film. In fact, neither are even mentioned, not once (Lucifer & Jesus are, once and only once, but their fathers - - - never). Add to that the fact that this peculiar “Resurrection” is occurring on 12/21/12 (the long-past Mayan calendar date of Apocalypse, for those who’ve already forgotten), I found, only made the film that much more intriguing.

Visually speaking, the film is striking in all aspects. The angles, the lighting, the various sigils, background pieces, and scenery all bordering at times on some seriously IGLESIAS/JODOROWSKY territory, the surreal becoming completely real, and keeping one (at least myself) riveted to the couch. For all you gorehounds out there, there’s not a whole lot, but for an horrifically grotesque (both visually and psychologically) scene in the beginning, and some other surprises I won’t mention spattered here and there. However, there is a good bit of F/X work done on the possessed that looks fantastic, and is a rather different and particularly gruesome look for the demon-infected. Also, the CG seemed to be kept to a bare minimum, used more for enhancement than effect itself.

I highly recommend ASMODEXIA to fans of artful, thought-inducing, bizarro possession-genre flicks. For those who dislike subtitles, as it is in Spanish, get some patience and an attention span. This film is worth it. Currently, it’s streaming on Netflix, as noted in the initial paragraph of this review. Otherwise, seek this out somewhere, you shan’t be disappointed. Also, to finish on a sidenote, I must say pretty much every woman in this film is uniquely stunning, particularly IRENE MONTALA (who plays “Ona”- - - good god, heh.)

Thanks for reading, Peace 93,
Vincent Daemon

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blood Splattered Blu: Scarecrows

Title: Scarecrows
Director:William Wesley
Company: Scream Factory (Shout factory)
Written by: Mike "Gorehound"  Vaughn

The "killer scarecrows" horror sub genre is like a craigslist hook up. Most are awful but once and awhile you get something amazing. 1988's "Scarecrows" is a brilliant in the way it defies the slasher genre and blends action and black comedy. It also was the start of brilliant careers for the special effects artist Norman Cabera (whom went on to work on countless films with Rick Baker) and D.P Peter Deming (Cabin in the Woods,Oz the great and Powerful etc)The film makers were wise to play things dead serious and unlike other scarecrow movies doesn't go camp. Scream Factory has been doing an amazing job at pleasing fans with bringing OOP DVD's back from the dead and making them look better than ever in HD. But is this Scarecrow have heart?

Plot: A band of ex military criminals think they pulled off the perfect job, scoring a multi million dollar pay day hijacking a plane to Mexico. However a team member decides he doesn't want to split the money and para shoots out of the plane, loot in hand. They land in a deserted area with you guessed it a corn field. Now they are being "stalked" by something unseen and unfeeling.

Picture: The picture isn't perfect but it is certainly better than the previous OOP MGM dvd.  Due to the films being filmed mostly at night there are a few grain issues but overall its well done and helps keep this film from feeling dated. I doubt that you will find a better print anywhere else.

Sound: Audio has both a 2.0 and a new 5.1 mix. The new mix is great and makes use of the wonderful score by Terry Plumeri.

Special Features: Fans have come to expect a level of great features from SF and fear not, it "stalks" up to the rest. The big new features are not one but two feature length commentaries. Both are great. director William Wesley takes credit for making the first Killer scarecrow movie, I guess he never saw Dark Night of the Scarecrow 1981. Besides the commentaries they're are two interviews that are both informative and entertaining. Rounding out the features are original storyboards still gallery and of course a trailer. I`m a big commentary fan so these are the highlight for me and combined with the interviews fans like myself everything you'd ever want to know about this film.

Overall: Fans of this unique film cant go wrong with this. Not only is the picture much better than the previous MGM DVD but its stuffed full of extras.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kingdom of Shadows: The Rise of the Horror Film: Review by Vincent Deamon

KINGDOM OF SHADOWS: The Rise of the Horror Film
Director/Writer: Bret Wood
Narrated by: Rod Steiger
Year: 1998

Review by Vincent Deamon

This is a fascinating documentary on the conception, birth, and subsequent growth of the Horror genre in cinema, a good portion of the film devoted to the great German Expressionists, as well as the appearances of religion, and the silent-horror era’s fixations on “good vs. evil,” sexuality, science, and just what is exactly what.

However, the documentary seems to very quickly and loosely run through most of these fascinating topics, barely gleaming over them in some cases altogether. Information on the directors, actors, writers, and even the folkloric genesis of much of the content that inspired these films is hazy and limited Add to that the fact that Rod Steiger, of all people, is the narrator to this collection of wonderful pre-Hayes Commission footage, and one ends up coming away with a vague, terribly ordered (it tends to hop around a lot), but still amazing to view, 70 minutes of great clips from some lost, unknown, and hard to find silent classics, as well as those most all are familiar with.

It starts with the horrors of religion, as memories of the Spanish Inquisition and other similar atrocities were still rather fresh in peoples minds from the period. For instance, when going into the THE GOLEM (1920, Dir. by Paul Wegner & Carl Bocse), it is claimed as being an early version of FRANKENSTEIN. Perhaps in a general sense, but Golems are in fact strange creatures of Kabbalistic lore, clay statues with an invocation (soul?) placed into its chest by its creator. “The tools of Satan are often those of the Inquisitor” the card reads as we then get segmented flashes from FAUST, LEAVES FROM SATAN'S BOOK (a Denmark film directed by Carl Th. Dreyer - - - also director of VAMPYR and THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC - - - the idea for LEAVES . . . being inspired by the epic magnitude of D.W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE; we get clips from all these films as well), and a host of others.

Most importantly, however, it goes into the 1922 classic HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES. Directed by Benjamin Christensen, it is indeed one of my favorite films. Filmed in 7 different parts, and a dizzying array of styles, with visions of darkness and hell being conjured into eerie celluloid life that had yet to be seen, it still packs more of a punch than most garbage released today. Even the effects work is phenomenal, considering the time period, still looking better than most CG crapola today. I wanted to learn more, but outside of that, and a heap-o-footage, nothing.

Now they bring in films like DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDE (apparently filmed in 1908, 1909, 1911, twice in 1913, and twice in 1920), as Steiger uses a variety of odd and out of place voice affectations and fake accents, to let us know “The scientist of the new dawn in film faced a far more frightening prospect: That beneath the high society standards of the scientist lay the vile and depraved desires and lusts of the common beast.” No shit.
This now brings us to the ancient-as-we-are duality of the titillating and the horrific, bring us up to a straight-forward “the virginal female is always the victim” to the “lusts of the monster” - - - henceforth the damsel in distress has now been created, and a steady trope of the genre.

As was the “mad doctor,” as people outright feared doctors then (and with good reason), their archaic and bizarre medical devices resembling tools of torture from the inquisition, but used for “healing.” And the doctors of the period seemed to get an almost perverse zeal from the pain and terror of their healing methods. The Doctor had become the new commissary for the devil, so to speak. In fact, I'm not so sure they aren’t, heh. Two tropes in one: mad doctors AND “body horror.” Doctors Mirakle, X, and Gogol all get mention, as does (another one of my favorites), the inimitable Dr. Moreau. If that’s not a truly horrific and almost precognitive concept, I’m not sure what is.

Along with the growth and often horrific discoveries of the physical sciences, came fear of “Body Snatchers.” Usually degenerate, poverty-stricken neerdowells who would unearth the dead for shady doctors in the names of Science, God, and cheap whiskey. Another trope.

As the doctoral sciences progressed, the psychological sciences were in their infancy. HOUSE OF DARKNESS (Dir. D.W. Griffith, 1913) finally brings in that one last, great unknown of the human condition to light: the Mad Dr. and the human mind: psychology/psychiatry. This was the newest cornerstone trope for horror cinema. The ideas of Freud were growing in popularity, that delving into one of the last great unknowns, the unexplored mind. Unfortunately, many horrific moral indiscretions were all too real (as they still are, in my opinion) within the new and shady field of the psychologist. HOUSE OF DARKNESS, however, was the first film to bring a sense of sympathy to the mentally ill, yet at the same time exploits the fear of true madness and insanity run rampant.

From there? Hypnotherapy, something brand new and hideously misused in some real life scenarios, still so in today's climate, but with dangerous pharmaceuticals as opposed to old-school ECT, hot/cold therapies, etc. Either way, the victim of the hypnotist becomes then the parasomnia-ist. The sleepwalker. A state within which you have no control but for that of the Dr.’s heinous orders. The sleepwalker is trapped in the Shadow Kingdom.

Just as Jekyll cannot control Hyde in his own pharmaceutically enhanced states, the sleepwalker cannot control their mind while, well, essentially asleep, leaving it open to the potential abuse and will of the inducer of such ill intent, be it vampire, dr., or hypnotist. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (Dir. by Robert Weine, 1920) is by far the best (and most well known) example of the mad hypnotist run amok for his own gain.

The strange and silent shuffle of the sleepwalker eventually became that of one of our long-time overused tropes: the (non-Romero) zombie. Taking on the same listless gait and mind-numbed susceptibility of many of the stunning virginal vixens that fell victim to the various horrors of the silent era, most all victims of celluloid hypnotic somnambulism were female. In retrospect, especially within the framework of our own current cultural climate, were these particular films perhaps a revelation of mans latent fear of strong women, the Suffragette Movement, a patriarchally fueled society knowing ever more but understanding ever less about “how women work,” so to speak? For men, was it perhaps the seemingly eternal phallic fear (of many males, at least, something that unfortunately permeates our culture through and through to this very day) of a woman's free will? For women, was it the entirely human fear of forced impulse over reason?

The sexual repression of the era, as well, often translated in odd, perverse, metaphorically graphic ways to the screen. Arthur Robinson’s 1923 film WARNING SHADOWS is an horrific portrayal of, gaslighting, sexual assault, and severe psychological abuse, almost a precursor to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

Overall, it’s a decent little doc (run time is only 70 minutes) that I’m glad I watched, but felt a little cheated as to the amount of genuine information presented. That said, for any true and dire film buff/historian, I would say this is a must see, if for no other reasons than the amazing footage, some actual decent information here and there, and Rod Steiger’s hilarious attempts at strange vocal affects of and accents.

Long review short: it’s about the development of classical and everlasting celluloid horror and its growth of tropes. Recommended.

Alternately, for one who just wants to veg with some sights and sounds that mix well together, you can just turn the sound down, find some decent goth to listen to, and just let the magick happen.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Separating the director from the film: Possible?

Piece of My Mind: Separating the director from the film, is it possible?

I use to belong to a Horror film forum on Facebook and a certain post got rather heated. The debate was sparked over "Clownhouse" and its status of OOP (out of print)

I`m sure a lot of you are aware but for those of you who are not here is the story behind Clownhouse and why it most likely will never be re-released -EVER.

The "Clownhouse" controversy: In 1988 during production Salvia the director was charged with sexually molesting the lead actor Nathan Forrest Winters. He was found guilty and served only 15 months of a three year sentence. It had a limited release from MGM in 2004 but quickly was pulled due to the scandal.

What Victor Salvia did was pure evil and anyone who says different has some serious issues that goes far beyond liking a film or not. The argument on the blog was some said it should be put out for people to see and others said its horrible what happened to the boy during the filming and based on that it should not be widely released. I watched it on Youtube and honestly its a terrible film, its slow paced and worst yet the film has ALOT of sexual over tones with the young boy and his brother (Sam Rockwell in his first film) In fact the first time we see Nathans character he is in his underwear and his brother makes a masturbation reference. Its skin crawling for all the wrong reasons. Fans were fiercely divided and if you look on Ebay people are paying up to 100.00 bucks for the OOP dvd.(Some of which are rip offs, and very good ones at that)

I honestly believe fans are wanting this movie so badly because its "rare" and as I stated above I highly doubt ANY company would dare release it and even if they did who would want to talk about it in interviews or commentaries. I think the bigger picture is this: A young boy was raped and had his childhood taken away during the filming of this Z-grade crap fest. It puzzles and bothers me that people who know this still are fans of the film.

Which leaves me to the question at hand. Can you separate the film maker from his work. In the case of Clownhouse I would say No way. Its horrible deeds are imprinted in every fiber of the film and it disturbs me to think that after they yelled cut this real life monster ripped this boys innocence away from him.  Obviously fans have "forgiven" him or out right ignored or were unaware because Jeepers Creepers (aptly titled as he is a creeper) and the sequel (which fixates on you guessed it young guys) were big hits.

Another case is Roman Polanski who as film buffs know got caught with an under age young woman. He still makes films and won an Oscar  for The Pianist (2002)

The question is can a film fan separate the actions of the directors and just enjoy the art they've created?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Films in the Attics: The Orphanage (2007)

Film: The Orphanage
Director:Juan Antonio Bayona
Year: 2007

The Orphanage came out at the height of Spanish horror but despite its impressive reviews and holding a 87% freshness on Rotten tomatoes it seemed to be a film that isn't talked about or given the kind of love that it deserves. It baffles me that many people even so called "film buffs" will not watch a film with sub titles, and how they are missing out on so many great works of cinema. However I would hope my readers are open and willing to watch any kind of film so with that in mind likes jump right into it.

Laura brings her family to childhood home, which just happens to guessed it an orphanage. Along with her husband Carlos she brings her adopted son Simon. Her goal to re open the place and keep a small number of special needs children, her son being one of them. Soon Simon starts playing with his new "friends" that only he can see. The parents of course just believe that its simply their sons over active imagination and its nothing to worry about. Things get odd when a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a social worker. Laura being a smart woman sees through the thinly veiled lie and tells her to leave. But the lady again appears this time creeping around the property late at night. Simon is seeing more of his "friends" and while at the opening party thrown at the orphanage he disappears. His mother must do everything in her power to get back her son before its to late. It may mean she needs to play "there" games.

Let me say first off i`m a huge fan of Spanish horror and J.A Bayona's film is simply amazing. It doesn't substitute story telling for blood and guts. Rather its about real people and real problems that get tangled in a web of the supernatural. It also manages to not only be genuinely scary but intriguing and touching. From the first frame to the twist ending its hard not to get totally sucked into the story. Bayona wisely uses the less is more approach and leaves a lot in shadows, allowing us the viewer use dare a say "our imagination" which is a concept which may be hard for some to grasp. I heard a remake is in the works and I highly doubt that this same method will be used, because lets face it Hollywood loves to dumb down its films for mass consumption.

Screenwriter Sergio G Sanchez weaves a tale that is very human and slowly lets the supernatural elements creep into the story. It also has a great mystery aspect which leaves the audience guessing at every strange twist and turn. In my description I left everything very vague because I didn't want to spoil anything. My one minor complaint is how the Father is written. He is never really allowed to show any emotional range unlike his wife. I`m sure he cares but it would have been better had they shown it.

The film is also wonderfully shot. Oscar Faura whose work includes the Oscar winning film "The Imitation Game" and the critically acclaimed "The Machinist" His camera work and angles are well crafted and really give the film a dark and poetic feeling. Even the way he photographs the orphanage is just masterful.

A strong cast of seasoned actors really helps sell this film. Belen Rueda whose credits include numerous films and tv really shines as the mother. I`m sure its not an easy role to really put yourself through the emotional aspects but she really pulls it off beautifully. However its new comer Roger Princep that steals the film, showing a lot of talent at such a young age.

Blood wise there is very little. If your looking for a graphic film, this is not for you- however there is a scene that gives even a jaded horror fan such as myself the chills in the gruesome department. Its also a moment that will make you jump.

I cant say enough great things about this film. It is equal parts scary touching and will leave you thinking about it days after viewing. A standard blu verison is fairly easy to find and cheap to. You seriously will enjoy this ghostly thriller.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When Life and Art Blur: 6 Freaky cases of Hollywood and real life events.

I`ve often been fascinated by Hollywood. Its the maker of dreams, a place where seemingly anything is possible. Yet there is a dark and ugly side once you peal back all the gilts and glamour. Presented is six strange and freaky cases of urban myth and real life cases that blur the lines of reality and fiction with deadly outcomes. Please note that this article contains graphic descriptions of real life murder if you are disturbed by this please no not read.

6: Shivers (akak They Came from Within) and the BTK Killer: 
I was watching a favorite of mine David Cronenberg`s classic "Shivers" and something hit me like a ton of bricks. Compare this picture of Dennis Radar to the character of the mad doctor Dr.Emil Hobbes.

Even freakier than the similarity in looks is that the Doctor kills his female victim by binding and strangling her to death.  BTK started in 1974 and Shivers was released in 1975- Which means it was most likely shooting in you guessed it 74. So i`m sure this is just pure happenstance but you have to admit its just chilling. You will never watch the film the same way again. 

5: Robert the Haunted Doll meet Chucky (Childs Play 1988)
Meet the real life Chucky. His name is Robert. Sure he sounds harmless yet even Chucky himself might think twice about messing with him. The story goes like this: It's 1898 and Thomas Otto and his family moved into a very nice mansion now known as the Artist House. Thomas and his wife had earned a reputation for being horrible to the servants. Unfortunately for them one such mistreated woman practiced black magic. The voodoo woman gave the doll (which resembled the boy) to Robert as a gift.  Things were great and Robert and his doll (named after himself) were best friends. Wherever the boy was his doll was never far from him. His parents were taken back by how attached he was to his new play thing and it got ever stranger when one day Robert insisted to his parents that he no longer wanted to be called Robert but rather by his middle name Gene. The reason, because Robert was the dolls name not his. They would often hear Gene having long talks with Robert and they heard what they assumed was the kids voice talking for Robert. It all seemed quiet harmless children s play until things took a very sinister turn. One night Gene woke up to find his pal Robert, but something was terribly wrong. He was sitting in his chair and glaring at him with a twisted smile. The parents were awoken by bone chilling screams and the sound of furniture being over turned.They could also hear demonic giggling echoing from within the boys bedroom. The door was locked and when it was forced open Gene was cowering in the corner and proclaimed "Robert did it!" After that night many things that went wrong were blamed on Robert. 

What makes Robert special is the number of credible witnesses that saw Roberts expression change and even walk on his own. A plumber once left the house and refused to go back claiming he heard Robert giggling. Gene Otto died in 1972 and people thought that Robert and his evil energy had died with him. However a new family moved in and a girl found him in the attic. Like Gene she became attached to the doll. However Robert did not like this girl and she claims to this day that the doll tortured her and towards the end tried to kill her. Robert was moved to a museum in Key West. He did not like it there so the staff placed a stuffed toy to keep him company. This seemed to settle him down but don't be fooled he is still very much active and lets his presents known to the staff. Guests still claim to see his expression change and move slightly.

Weird fact: Roberts the doll has real human hair, which is thought to belong to its owner Gene (Robert) Otto.

Weird fact: Robert is shy and you must ask before taking a photo. People who do not ask nicely have bad things happen to them or at the very least have the camera battery suddenly die (even fully charged)

4:The Child's Play 3 Murders UK : (As stated above the following contains very graphic disturbing material.) We now go from the doll that inspired the film "Childs Play" 1988 to a sequel that inspired a very gruesome murder.

James Bulger was the very picture of innocence. At only two years old he suffered a terrible fate. The two boys Jon Venable and Robert Thomson were spotted on CCT looking for victims and picking up James. When alone the two boys beat him to death and its also thought he was sexually violated.  It was found out that the two boys loved the Child's Play 3 and watched it before they did the deed. It was a huge case and it forever changed the way minors were charged and released in the UK.

the killers mug shot
Weird Fact: Both boys (now young men) are currently free and walking the streets.

3: Scream.. for real: 1996 saw the massive hit "Scream" a film that was hailed for its smart post modern self aware style. In the film the two murderers use horror films as the blue print for there own killing spree in the fictional town of Woodsboro. However after the cameras stopped rolling a very real series of killings were inspired by the movie  

In January 1998 Mario Padilla (16) and his 14 year old cousin Samuel Ramirez brutally murdered Marios Mother Gina, stabbing her 45 times. It was later learned that the motive for the senseless crime was money which they needed to fuel there killing spree. The deadly duo purchased Ghostface costumes and voice changers. They tried to make a case that the film was directly blamed for the savage attack. However wisely the judge barred against the film being used as a defense.

January 17th 1999 13 year old Ashley Murray lie bleeding having suffered multiple stab wounds to the head and back. As luck would have it an elderly man spotted the teen while walking his dog. He survived and in a shocking twist it turned out to be two friends of his Danial Gill (14) and Robert Fuller(15). The pair had watched "Scream" shortly before the attacks and drawings of the Ghostface mask was found among there possessions.  

2: Murder in the Matrix: Unlike Child s Play 3 and Scream the Matrix was not a horror film. Yet a series of murderers were said to be the inspiration for a series of murders, which even spawned its own defense (The Matrix Defense)  The Matrix is a film a sci-fi action film about a Neo a man who finds he is living in a artificial dream world known as "the matrix"

Josh Cooke (19) had saw "The Matrix" and was forever changed. He went out and bought a trench coat and hung a poster of his hero "Neo" on his bedroom wall. After that he bought a gun like the one in the movie and shot both his parents in cold blood in their basement. After the slaying he calmly called the police to tell them what happened. Why did he do it? Because he thought he was living in The Matrix.

Tonda Lynn Ansley (37) shot and killed a professor whom she rented a house from. She claims to have weird dreams which turned out to be not dreams at all. It was said she also was obsessed with the film and its "message"

San Francisco 2000. Vadim Mieseges (27) shot and killed his land lady Ella Wong. He pleaded not guilty saying that "he was sucked into the matrix"

1: The Curse of Atuk: The curse of Atuk is a Hollywood urban legend which I find really interesting which is why I wanted to share this with you guys. We have all heard of scripts so bad they are there are virtually un make able but in the case of Atuk it is said to have a deadly curse on it.

Based on the novel "The Incomparable Atuk" 1963 the plot tells the story of a mighty Inuit Eskimo (Atuk meaning grandfather) who tries to live in New York city. The screenplay was written by Lampoons writer Tod Carroll. It seems that all the actors who was offered the role had tragically died. There is a list of Six actors who died all tied to the film.

1: John Belushi. Animal house and SNL legend was the first attached to the projected. He died of an overdose in 1982. He was only 33 years old.

2: Sam Kinison: The stand up legend was the second person to try and take over the role. Its said somewhere scenes exist of him in the film. It was reported that he freaked out and wouldn't leave his trailer. Tragically though he died in a auto crash in 1992. He was only 38 years old. Even creepier is he died ten years after John.

3: John Candy: After Kinison died the part was offered to Candy whose comedy chops were unmatched. In 1994 while reading the script he died of a heart attack. It happened March 4th only a day before the 12th anniversary of the death of Belushi.

4: Michael O' Donoghue: Both a writer and a comedian. He was a friend of Belushi and Kinison and read the script. He died the same year as Candy.

5: Chris Farley: In 1997 the script again was dusted off and offered to Farley who like the previous people on the list was a super star in comedy films. Before he could accept the role he died. He was 33 years old- the same age Belushi was when he died. FREAKY!

6: Phil Hartman: Hartman was offered a supporting role but also died tragically by the hands of his wife.

Not only is it strange they were all connected with the doomed film but it seems they are all connected to the first victim of the supposed curse John Belushi.

Hope you enjoyed this break for the standard reviews. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Blood Splattered Blu: A Candle for the Devil

Title: A Candle for the Devil
Review Written by: Joe Mazzella

The wonderful Folks at Scorpion Entertainment have released another great 70s Spanish Horror classic A Candle for the Devil directed by the great Eugenio Martin ( Horror Express) The film is a dark sadistic look into the lives of two old world sisters Veronica and Maria (played by Esperanza Roy and Aurora Bautista ) running a boarding house who detest there many new tourist tenants . Most of which are loose, scantily clad sexy women who show off their assets at every turn. This angers the two sisters especially Veronica who had been previously stood up on her wedding day years before. She sets out on a murderous vendetta after losing it on a sunbathing woman whom she accidentally kills.  The women's sister ( Judy Geeson Fear in the Night,Lords of Salem) arrives looking for her sister but she is told by the sisters she just left much to Judy's surprise. She looks and asks in town having no luck. As other tenants anger the sisters more murders some quite gruesome happen as do more disappearances 
Setting up to a great last reel which is truly unnerving and tense . Watching the breakdown of the sisters as they lose it more and more was truly a joy to watch. As with Eugenio Martins previous film. Horror Express. Candle has its share of fright, gory viscous murders and great acting especially by Lone Fleming (Tombs of the Blind Dead) as the sexy horny tourist , Blanca Estrada, Vic Winner ( Dracula's Great Love ) and Fernando Hilbeck( Lead Zombie in Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue)  who literally saves the day here. The film is highly recommended especially for you euro horror fans and is an excellently written and directed film.  

The brand new 16x9 HD transfer is absolutely gorgeous and the widescreen picture truly shows the great Madrid landscapes and country. For years we suffered in the US with no vhs or DVD releases. cut TV prints under the  title It Happened at the Nightmare Inn , horrible bootleg copies until now.  The film is uncut in the US for the very first time and it has never looked of sounded any better than it does now .  

The great extras include the original theatrical trailer in widescreen as well , an intro by Nightmare Theater's own sexy Katarina and we have a very informative and entertaining interview with the film’s star Judy Geeson who discusses the film , her career before and after this film and great stories about all her costars from all her great films from her long great career. All in all this is a must see a great release and I absolutely recommend it .

Friday, June 12, 2015

Betsy Palmer: An Actress Remembered. Part 1

The horror film world was shocked to hear that actress and icon Betsy Palmer passed away at age 88.
Fans will no doubt remember her as Mrs.Voorhees the mother of cinema serial killer Jason. When I met her the first time I was blown away by how nice and personable she was. She treated fans not as machines giving her cash for her autograph but like a friend, trust me that's a rare thing at a convention these days. I met her one other time, still the same warm gentle person. You could tell she was enjoying herself and she loved talking about her role as the Mother of the most famous film psycho of all time. I like so many fans were heart broken to hear the news. As a tribute to Ms.Palmer a few of her co-stars  and co-workers have donated their time to share some memories as well as fans that met her.

Part 1: Co-workers (co-stars, directors etc)

Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th 1980)

"Betsy Palmer made everyone around her feel special. No one could work a crowd like her, I have seen her make people laugh until they literally fell out of their seats. When she knew I was going to perform onstage she would always say "Knock 'em Dead, Ari, and Leave 'em Writhing in the Aisles!" and she meant every word of it. I love her madly forever..." - ARI LEHMAN

Shane Marr Directed Betsy in his film Bell Witch: The Movie

"I really enjoyed getting to know Betsy. One thing I admired about her was that wherever we were - from Los Angeles to New York to Tennessee - she took the time to stop and talk to her fans, answer their questions and tell them her stories. That was really what inspired me to develop the interview with her - "Betsy Palmer: Life in Her Own Words." I thought that would be a way for those who didn't have the opportunity to meet her to get to know her better. One time I asked her if she ever got tired of telling her stories and she told me, "Absolutely not." She genuinely loved people and appreciated her fans. She was a wonderful lady and will be greatly missed.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Piece of my Mind: Where are the legends at?

Piece of my Mind is a forum for the blog writers to discuss issues in the horror/cult realm. Here in Gorehound Mikes we try to do more than just reviews.

Topic: Where are the legends at? aka Directors Shelf Life?

My good friend and fellow blog staff William and I often talk movies (no surprise) and the subject came up about film makers we love and how the out put of there work has taken a huge nose dive in recent years. We talked about when Craven,Romeo and Argento etc made a film we knew we were in for something scary and all together different. Lately though it seems like the out put is less scare and more crap.

Argento is the perfect example. Right out of the gate with his first film "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" it was clear that this man had a unique style and showmanship that would later become his trademark. Films like Deep Red, Suspria just to name a few all master pieces in horror cinema ensuring a last legacy. Yet it seems lately hes doing everything he can to destroy that legacy. Its debatable where the decline started, for me his last truly great film was "Opera"  (sans the shitty last 3mins) With bombs like "Do you like Hitchcock" and the worst offender the infamously bad "Dracula 3D" (yes the one with a huge badly done CGI Praying Mantis.) not to mention the fact that he directed a rape scene involving his own daughter, it leaves fans wondering how someone who was such a horror force in the 70s and 80s could now be making such bad films today.

On the flip side of this we have George A Romero  I dont need to remind readers of his stellar films."Night of the Living Dead" 1968 not only introduced the post modern zombie but was a milestone in modern horror films in general. Now Romero gets my respect because he seemed to only do horror films that he feels strongly about. The man has only 20 credits and i`d rather see that versus someone who cranks out hundreds for Full Moon. Sure his last string of films have not been any where close to his glory days (though I really enjoyed Land of the Dead) but hes doing other things like writing and producing. Still its sad to think we may never have another truly amazing George A.Romero film. Maybe he is bowing out not wanting to totally destroy his reputation.

So my question is this. Why do these great film makers end up doing material that is so beneath them? Its not that the scripts aren't there. In fact Dario s episode of Masters of Horrors for both seasons were amazing. Maybe its age. Lets face it maybe its a younger persons game? Is it better to bow out like Romero and Carpentar rather than make sub standard product?

Please Note: To hardcore fans that feel like i`m slamming these directors, i`m not. In fact I love them. Its the films they made that got me into this genre and for that I will always hold them in the highest esteem. I complain because i`m frustrated like so many fans that feel they could be doing so much better. I'm not saying they should retire as directors, but maybe take a fresh look at what made them such titans, get writers with new ideas and good ones.

I want to feel the kind of excitement for a Wes Craven movie like I use to. Not disappointment like "Cursed"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Blood Splatted Blu: Dont Go in the Woods

Title: Dont Go in the Woods
Director:James Bryan
Company: Vinegar Syndrome
Written by: Joe Mazzella

Well the fine folks at Vinegar  Syndrome have done it again with the new bluray release of the cult horror classic Don't Go In The Woods ...Alone ! The 1981 film directed by the master James Bryan ( The Executioner Pt 2) is a tremendous cult classic dealing with a deeply disturbed maniac carving up all that enter his woods. 

Plot: A group of people and their  guide begin there camping trip there unaware of the bloody massacre that's taking place . When they start getting picked off one by bloody one things get even more interesting in this non stop gore-a-thon . They try to avoid the maniac at all costs and escape his clutches time after time. Two make it back (Jack McClelland and Mary Gail Artz) to town trying to warn the sheriff (Ken Carter) and Dr Maggie (Laura Trefty) but meet up with town politics as the are slow to investigate.  They believe there friends still could be alive and they head back to the woods to confront the truth. Some of the killings are still quite graphic and some are humorously done especially the killing of a newlywed couple celebrating there nuptials in the woods . The ILL fated  Dick (Frank Millen who appears in most of James Bryan films even working behind the camera) and his bride get cut and dispatched in truly memorable fashion as does most of the cast , that is made up of most of the crew. The Killer( Singer Tom Drury)   is truly a cold hearted bizarre looking man whose blood thirst is never satisfied. This film has a very high  body count ,some strange and many poor performances but its campy style and fast pace keep it rolling along and all this under 90 minutes . 

Picture: Released on DVD by code red a few years ago in a full screen version that was passable it included good special features and an introduction by the director. Now Vinegar has a gorgeous Widescreen  Version available here with stunning bright colors and all the night scenes are now viewable with awesome sound and a virtually scratch less print.  This is the best the film has ever looked and it definitely won't get any better than this . 

Special Features: There is numerous special features some old from the code red Dvd including a cast and crew featurette than features many behind the scenes stories and a where are they now segment of who is doing what these days. The Autograph signing party Featurette is a must to watch as well and we have. 3 commentaries with the director and Mary Gail Arts ( Ingrid) and Frank Miller.   All in all if your a super fan of this cult classic like me this is the definitive version to own . It is a great tribute to the film as the quality and content in this bluray are hands down totally excellent , I highly recommend you buy this now before they all disappear.   Enjoy!!!