Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bad Movies And the Fiends that Love Them

Topic: Bad Movies And the Fiends that Love Them

By: Gorehound Mike Vaughn

With the already worn out third film in the "Sharknado" series It got me thinking about the nature of bad movies and why they some find a hardcore fan base.

While pondering the subject one film "mistaker" leaps to mind. Edward D. Wood Jr. Years before Tim Burton made "Ed Wood" the Oscar winning bio pic,the cross dressing film maker had already achieved a huge cult following and even his stock players gained some measure of pseudo celebrity.I had the pleasure of meeting Conrad Brooks the last surviving member of Woods stock players, he is quiet a character. But why do fans flock over his badly made epics. There is even a official religion for Ed Wood (seriously...I wish I were making this up.)

So Bad there Good: Ed Wood would fall into this category. Obviously Wood had not the money or the skill to make it in main stream Hollywood but the irony here is that his films are more well known today than a lot of so called "main stream" films made by big studios. At the time Ed Wood was making his opuses a lot of money was spent to fulfill the booming Drive In market in the 1950s. What set these apart from Woods movies was his love of making films. He never saw them as trash but as cinematic treasures. I think it comes a crossed and honestly I`d rather watch "Plan Nine From Outer space" over a Michael Bay film any day.  I know a lot of people that refuse to think of Ed Wood movies as being bad and indeed while they have glaring problems they have a certain broken down charm with subjects that are interesting and in some cases even ahead of there time. But yes they are bad... 

I confess I am a huge fan of "The Room" one of the greatest bad movies that could even give Wood a run for his money. Film maker and self confessed vampire Tommy Wiseau wrote directed produced and starred in this epic disaster piece and like Ed Wood put a lot of effort (misguided it may be) and love into what he considered a serious drama. However its a massively insane and funny film and through word of mouth has gained a following- there is even a "making of" film starring James Franco as Wiseau in the works. If you haven't seen "The Room" its pure insane fun and will leave you and your friends in stitches. Also like Wood you can feel a sincerity in his work and even when it fails (and boy does it) it doesn't feel like were watching some cooperation selling merchandise or a director bending over for Hollywood.

 Camp And Counter Culture: Another reason why Wood and other films like "The Brain that Wouldn't Die" is the sheer camp factor. I mean we can't help but be entertained by shitty editing, goofy lines and acting as wooden as the cheap sets. The height of the hippie counter culture embraced these films and saw something in them (while mostly high) and like lore of days gone by passed them on to a new audience.With the sleeper success of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" Paramount tried to turn "Mommie Dearest" into a midnight film and it failed.  Roger Corman The King of the B's once said (and i`m paraphrasing) "you cant make a cult film the audience has to make it one." So genuine love of film making isn't enough, its up to you, yes you the audience to resurrect a film or leave it in cinema no mans land.

Cashing in on Bad: SyFy Channel seems to have caught on that there cheesy orgy of bad acting, goofy CGI and predictable plots were gaining attention for all the wrong reason. "Light Bulb" The birth of the SyFy shit fest that include "Sharknado" and "Sharkopus" among others. These films are purely made bad because of the "so bad its good" factor. And unlike the films of Wood or Wiseau they are simply soulless cash grabs instead of film makers that poured there hearts and souls not to mention risked a lot in the goal of telling what they thought was a good and entertaining way to tell a story.

Final Thoughts: As per the above statement it leaves me wondering the following: Will these films that are cashing in on the "so bad its good" trend be remembered like say "Bride of the Monster" or "The Room"? Again that's impossible to predict as its up to the audience to either embrace a film or leave it to cinematic no mans land.

Bad Movie Lovers: Here is a small list of Trashertenment *Warning may cause blindness, madness and seat wetting.
The Ghastly Ones (Or ANYTHING Andy Milligan, seriously its like Ed Wood/John Waters H.G Lewis Hybrid.)
Glen or Glenda
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
Bare Behind Bars
The Sinful Dwarf

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Top Ten: Most Underrated Horror films of the 1990's

Top Ten: Most Underrated Horror films Of the: 1990's

Last week I had the top films of the 90's. Now for the most underrated of this decade. The ones that were on the fringe and obscure.

10.The Ugly (1997)
This artful film puts a nice twist on the normal serial killer sub genre. Coming out of New Zealand it never got the kind of love in the U.S. Sadly after "Scream" made huge waves the previous year it got  pushed aside for more trendier teen slasher fests. Has its flaws but it still worthy of the number ten spot.

9.Body Bags (1993)
Originally met to be a series for Showtime this little known horror anthology features John Carpenter ghoul make up playing host in the framing segments. While the stories themselves are hit and miss you cant help but love the overall film. It also has a host of amazing cameos such as Roger Corman, Tom Arnold and even Wes Craven and Sam Raimi etc. A lot of fun and highly over looked.

8.Frankenhooker (1990)
Like "Street Trash" and "Bad Taste" Frankhooker was the last of the far out, loud splatter fests that made trolling your mom and pop video store such a grisly treat. Full of great gross out gags and genuinely funny writing its a amazingly fresh take on the stitched up Frankenstein mythos. I cant say enough great things and if you haven't seen it yet do yourself a favor and stomp your way to your local store or online retailer and pick it up! Perfect for the Halloween season!

7.Hardware (1990)
Richard Stanley was (and still is) a breath of fresh air in the world of shoveled out recycled studio bullshit. Critics at the time panned his 1990 film "Hardware" but in later years legions of cult fans have discovered the genius of this film. Stylish inventive and a fresh take on robotic horrors. Any true fans of cutting edge art should consider this a must see.

6 .A Cat in The Brain (1990)
Most people credit Craven for doing the first meta horror film with "Wes Cravens New Nightmare" and while no disrespect to the recently departed director but Fulci did it first with "A Cat in The Brain" Fulci fans will find a lot of mad cap fun and inside jokes as the legendary splatter director plays himself. An underrated 90s horror film and an underrated film in the directors cannon. Sadly this was one of his last films (Door to Silence a year later being his last) but it seems like a rather fitting swan song. I urge fans of his film to see this, its the cats meoooouch!!

5. Innocent Blood (1992)
Innocent Blood got an honorable mention on my alternative Vampire films however it firmly belongs on the top five spot. Ambition in its story telling and highly funny and erotic Innocent Blood is a win on so many levels. Its also a joy to see Don Rickles getting himself into some rather sticky situations. John Landis may have better known films but this certainly deserves your time.

4,Cemetery Man (1994)
Life love death and the very meaning of life is all wrapped up in this bonkers 90's film. This film along with "Dead-Alive" prove that the decade could still pack a punch and give us throttle splatter fests that were also highly smart. Full of stunning imagery and moments that are should to make even the most jaded horror fans shake there head in disbelief. A film I personally have viewed many times and always notice something new. Not to be missed by anyone.

3.Cronos (1993)
Sprung from the genius mind of whose visual blend of dark beauty and mechanics is like steampunk without the annoying cosplayers. Like "The Hunger" his take on the vampire lore is anything but traditional, having a Spanish flavor. I also like that its told almost like a modern grim fairy tale, a theme that would be carried over to what I consider his finest work "Pans Labyrinth (2006)" Its not hard to see by his first feature that he was a force in the industry.

2.Lost Highway (1997)
In this humble writers opinion nobody does nightmare logic and sheer insanity quiet like David Lynch. Its hard for me to pick a favor but this might be it. Lost Highway works like one long fever dream and the sheer fact that Robert Blake is in it, who would later be found guilty of murder makes it all the creeper. If your not use to Lynch's story telling viewers might be blindsided by all the twists and turns and well logic being thrown out the window. With Mlld. Drive.getting a Criterion blu soon i`m hoping this one does as well. Dont try and make sense out of it, you`ll just give yourself a headache. Just go along for the long winding and cool ride into hell. ...

Taking the top spot is Audition by Takashi Miike . This film is a slow burn leading up to a tension filled finale that still manages to give me the creeps. Once it gets towards the end its almost painful to watch the carnage that ensues. Its also smart and touches on themes that are firmly rooted in the human experience. Themes such as loneliness,faithfulness and revenge. After seeing Audition I was a life long fan of Miike and have sought out many of his other works. As a said its pacey but it is well worth the build up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lucky Bastard (2014) by Vincent Daemon

He sure isn’t: LUCKY BASTARD (2014)
Starring: Jay Paulson, Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Katherine Annette
Written by: Lukas Kendall, Robert Nathan
Directed by: Robert Nathan
Review by: Vincent Daemon

2014’s LUCKY BASTARD is a low-budget, highly entertaining *(and much deeper than what it seems on the surface) film from 2014, that until about a week ago I’d never heard of. It’s an incredibly simple premise, as well as all-too plausible *(some seriously unpleasant real-life incidents have been borne on stressed and highly insensitive porn shoots). It’s also presented in a first-person mockumentary format, which in this particular case is used to it’s highest potential in their making of a fairly accurate point.

We all know *(well, most of us) how “gonzo” extremetiy and rough pornography have become fairly mainstreamed since their turn of the century-era inception, into what they are now. The next logical step for porn to go was to sites like - - - *(probably best not to mention) - - - that are essentially glorified consensual-rape *(written into the confusing contracts that naive newbie actresses rarely read, also touched on in the film - - - and no, I’m not referring to Insex, that was something entirely different, covered in it’s own fascinating documentary from 2009, called Graphic Sexual Horror), scary, abusive, racist, and really just plain ugly to the point that it’s no longer porn - - - the obvious psychological (as well as physical) suffering of some of these girls is akin to almost a psyche-snuff, it all coming off *(there’s some choice wording) like a sadosexual Traces Of Death. *(Hmmm, there’s an idea.) It’s often an horrific misogynistic power play bait-and-switch, performed by long-time and ill-reputed professional swindlers in the business. And this is a good deal of standard, mainstream hardcore now. And yeah, I’ve watched which may make me a terrible human being, but whatever, it’s not really your business anyway. *(Keep in mind that porn and a good deal of hyper low-budgeted indie horror aren’t too far unrelated - - - Bill Z. Bub type fare I’m mostly speaking of, incidentally, and often involve the same directors and crew - - - under different names, of corpse, lest it be a porn actress in a starring role.) Before I digress any further, this film happens to touch on a bit of all of the above mentioned. Howsabout I just get to that.

So LUCKY BASTARD is about a streaming hardcore-porn reality series, called Lucky Bastard, itself about porn actresses being “cajoled” into sex with a random male participant who applied through their online forms. The particular Bastard in this case is Dave G. (played to an astonishing perfection by Jay Paulson). Dave is a regular schmoe off the streets, a fan and follower of the show, very socially awkward (perhaps to an Aspie degree), and supposedly a war vet. He’s tall and gawky and lank and a ginger, seeming like he has really not much going on in the way of a “life” *(who does - - - that shit only happens in John Hughes’ films), wherein this leaves plenty of room for his natural awkwardness and just being himself to be crudely down spoken to and incessantly picked upon like carrion by show owner/producer/host/vulture Mike (Don McManus), a character who seriously bears a resemblance to porn-lifer *(particularly of that over-rough variety aforementioned) Alex Sanders, and comes off like the infamous producer/director/faceless host-figure *(and living monster) “Khan Tusion.” McManus did a hell of a job in this role, pulling off *(more choice wording) Mike in perfect fashion. The character is so rooted in “what’s more extreme” and absolute self-centered obsessive-compulsive narcissism, that he is completely oblivious to what exactly is going on around him, and repeatedly throwing kerosene on a slow-ignition fire that realistically could have been avoided. But the sheer recklessness of the idea of the show - - - and there are and have been similar, like MIDNITE BLUE from the 1980’s - - - and Mike’s greed and lack of radar, all work together to keep him too busy to notice.

However, actress superstar Ashley Saint *(portrayed as what a good deal of industry actresses are: a woman doing what she has to, while she can as porn is a time-limited business of sorts, to support her children and ensure them a stable future - - - it’s a tricky role that actress Betsy Rue performs as though she were the real deal), Mike’s ex-wife and star of the episode, picks up on Dave G.’s awkwardness and bizarre behavioral affectations from the get-go almost immediately. Slowly, the rest of the crew do as well, and offer suggestion after suggestion to Mike as to how to get rid of him. But Dave G. is the “Lucky Bastard,” he signed the contract - - - it’s not so easy. And though odd, Dave is far from stupid. In fact, he’s paid very close attention to everything that they said and did, and has a memory like a fukking elephant. However, he too is naive, and suffers a severe inability to distinguish real life from the fantasy/escape that porn sells and offers its viewers. Ashley refuses to do it, and Dave G. is essentially fired on camera, and knows all of this will be on the website, as he tells them that he is their clientele, he watches their videos, and is full well aware the “Lucky Bastard” is usually some loser mocked to infinity. He knows what they do.

Needless to say, Dave G. is not happy about this. The stunningly attractive Catherine Annette plays Mike’s newbie girlfriend Casey, and she offers to do the scene, as well as a host of other ideas that may have led to a different outcome, but is incessantly belittled and shutout by Mike and his ego-id run rampant. Catherine Annette has been acting for years in strange films and b-fare, and her beauty never ceases to fascinate me. And she uses that to a full affect here, trying to help but being of no real anything, due to Mike, so she storms off.

Mike calls for a regular pro guy to come work with Ashley (so that the money spent renting the fully cameraed “Big Brother”-style house built exclusively for reality shows isn’t wasted). It’s the guy seen very graphically fukking a bound and shrieking Catherine Annette in the opening frames of the film. The pro shows up, and begins to do his this while Dave G. gets a ride back to some Los Angeles bus station, very much against his wishes. So he solves the problem, bashing the drivers skull in and taking the car back to the house. From there Dave G. goes on a slow-burn rampage of terror, humiliation, murder and obsession as he inadvertently ends up having to dispose of everyone but Ashley, whom he get’s to finally get his 42 second, three-pump-chump rocks off with, despite her verbal lashing, then a twist showing just how intelligent and clever she really was.

Questions and curiosities we all wonder about the adult industry are raised and in some ways answered, others not, merely for the fact there are no answers. Dave’s confrontation of Josh (the replacement stud), as Josh is cowering with a gun in his face and asked if he’s ever done gay porn *(questioning the old rumor of most male porn stars being bi or gay), if he could, or if he could even crank one out with a gun in his face, to which he does, much to Dave’s disgust, which gets him killed anyway. Dave’s plans for and doings to Mike are vile, and actually kind of funny as they are ghastly. A lot of the crew he needs to dispose of merely due to ensure his own safety once he realizes he himself has gone too far. What is too far? When has a line of no return been crossed, within the confines of life? Who you have to be, or become, to keep a family fed or even yourself, for that matter? Does the profession define the person? Has a notoriously heartless industry that sells holes-n-poles become as dead-eyed as half its participants? Is it really just sex?

The film is incredibly light on gore, most of it coming from the various bludgeonings and gunshot wounds that splatter about, and while the violence is fairly vicious, it never seems gratuitous or too over the top. In fact the film could’ve used a bit of that in my opinion. The kills could’ve been more camera-centric, as opposed to just of screen and some blood-spatter back. But otherwise, while not fantastic, it makes for an interesting think piece of a film, is entertaining, and not something entirely unlikely to make a national front page headline. Currently on both Hulu (the free part) and On Demand, it’s pretty easy to find, and if you’re curious to step outside the usual box of standard horror and give this slow celluloid *(yeah, I know it was shot digital, whatever) porno-based pot-boiler of how inability to distinguish fantasy/reality and sex, in certain situations, the effect of constant degradation, especially to one as outcast, confused, and alone as Dave G., can drive them to madness, and an industry that thrives on sucking dicks and souls, giving not a fukk about it’s actors/actresses, or even aficionados - - - as they/we are merely just objects and money.

I enjoyed it, an interesting concept done well, and a definite think piece. Not the worst way to kill 90 minutes, and not for everybody. I’d probably just be cranking one out to some wretched violent porn anyway.

Thanks for reading,
Vincent Daemon

Monday, September 14, 2015

Indie Filmmaker Spotlight: Jarret Blinkhorn

Gorehound Mike Presents: Indie Spotlight
Jarret Blinkhorn

Part of my job as a good horror journalist is to treasure the films and film makers of the past yet always keep my eyes on whats current and new. When you discover someone with raw talent its quiet thrilling. Such is the case with the Jarret Blinkhorn who I got to know purely by happen stance and when I saw this work my instinct as a horror fan told me this is someone who could do great things if given the support and attention. Below is reviews from three short films as well as a bio.

They're Closing In
A husband and wife are trapped inside their home while a group of unknown figures are "closing in" This is the short that brought Jarret to my attention and its very effective in its simplicity and skill. I love the concept behind this short.Using the"trapped in the relationship" metaphor in the context of creatures outside is very clever. On the technical side Jarret knows his stuff take for example his use of medium shots that really help create a sense of claustrophobia and it heightens the tension to an almost unbearable level. There is a perfect marriage  of music and lighting that gives you a John Carpenter vibe but he makes it his own. Both actors are very good and its clear that Blinkhorn can handle drama as well as horror and blend the two perfectly. Tight and effective it shows he has a lot of promise.

Tis the Season
Something was stalking in Blinkhorn holiday short. Mayhem ensues when a mysterious figure in a hoodie brings down bloody havoc on a couple in there home. First off I love the choice to do this in first person. It really gives you the feeling that you are this character. Like "They're Closing In" he uses lighting and skilled camera work to racket up the tension.

Even the horror tropes like the thunder and the usage of the flash light in the dark are brilliantly effective. Sound design and special effects are perfectly in sync to create a amazing cinematic experience of horror. Its also a great movie using nontraditional music, though the warped Christmas music is damn chilling. I can honestly say i`ve not seen a better more professional short. Down right scary! A gift for horror fans.

Sick at Heart:
A husband and wife sit down and have a heart to heart over a nice meal and wine. Seems normal until you take in account that wifey has her throat slit. While not as good as the aforementioned shorts, it still shows a lot of budding talent.  The detached way Blinkhorn approaches the subject adds depth to something that could have been silly.

More about the Film maker in his own words:

 I was first turned onto horror films at a very young age. My father owned a black box and would show me whatever slasher came on pay per view, as well as constantly renting tapes from the mom and pop shop down the street. My house was always filled with blood, boobs and carnage. Names like Tom Savini and John Carpenter were household names, and I could never understand why the kids at my elementary school didn't know who Robert Englund was.
As I grew older so did my horror taste, going from surface slasher to body horror I rediscovered Cronenberg and learned about David Lynch, but the old school slashers have never left. My father said when I was really young... "Horror movies are like pizza, even the bad ones are still good", and that explains why he would show me Suspiria and then next night show me Killer Klowns From Outer Space. I graduated high school and after years of playing loud music and partying a lot it was time to find something else to occupy my time. My high school buddies were constantly filming horror shorts, so I partnered up with them and acted, held the camera, whatever I needed to do. Then they left for LA and I stayed around, so I bought a camera and continued watching as many films as possible and shooting whatever I can. After a few shorts about autoerotic asphyxiation and child sacrifice (starring my then 2 week old daughter) and shooting weddings to make extra money, I invested in a better camera and started taking my shorts more seriously. My latest short premiered at Film4FrightFest and will make its U.S. Premiere at BeyondFest in LA. I currently live in Providence Rhode Island with my wife and daughter "Vera" (named after the mom from Dead Alive), 2 dogs, a cat and a shit ton on VHS tapes.

Big thanks to Jarret Blinkhorn. Plus check out his short Tis the Season:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hollywood Monster: Alex Essoe Interview: She talks about her role in Starry Eyes and what shes working on next!

The horror market is flooded with mindless crap marketed to casual "horror fans" But even with the piles of reboots and remakes there has been a resurgence of independent film makers with unique visions.   Films like "What we Do in the Shadows" "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight" and "Babadook" are clear evidence that some very interesting original ideas still indeed have a place with audiences.  "Starry Eyes" is certainly apart of this wave of smart horror. Not since "American Mary" and "May" has a horror film blew me away and really left me this impressed. I`m not going to review this as staff writer Vincent Deamon covered this brilliantly in a past blog. I recommend you read it if you haven't. Also this blog is Spoiler Free but I urge you to see the film if you haven't. 

The star of "Starry Eyes" Alex Essoe gives a powerhouse performance, she is not only extremely talented but film savoy. Gorehound Mike's was lucky enough to chat with her about her role in this classic and what she has in the works.  Enjoy. 

GM: What was your first impression of the Starry Eyes script?

AE: Love at first read. It read like a movie I would love to see, and the character of Sarah just lit me up. She came right off the page for me immediately. 

GM: Are you a horror genre fan?

AE: Yup, horror of all styles and categories. Anything from a foreign art house piece like Calvaireor Hour of the Wolf, to an awesome sci-fi slasher like Alien or Event Horizon, to a literal nightmare mind fuck like Inland Empire or Beyond the Black Rainbow or Irreversible; there’s honestly too many to name, I love them all.

GM: Everyone who see’s you in this is blown away by the intensity you bring to Sarah, what was your process to get you to that place? Also was it hard to turn it off at the end of the shooting day?

AE: I don't usually feel compelled to discuss process, unless it’s in a general sense if I had to learn a specific skill, mostly because I think it sort of ruins the fantasy. Although I will say that my process was different depending upon which scene we were doing, and breathing and relaxation are tantamount no matter what. There was something about playing Sarah that I found cathartic, so it wasn't very difficult to let it go at the end of the day. We also had such long days with so many intense or physically demanding scenes that I wouldn't have had the energy to take it home with me, anyway.

GM: Your Father was disturbed by the Audition scene when he visited the set. Did they (your parents) see the finished film? If so what was there response to it?

AE: My mom actually flew to LA from Toronto to see a screening of it at the Egyptian .She told me she was proud of me and that I need to work on my posture. Moms. My Dad said he was impressed but I also told him to just watch the first 40 minutes (up to the pool scene). I'm a total Daddy's girl and I know the rest of the movie would freak him out. I'll always be 9 years old to him, no need to subject him to a naked lesbian make out/death scene (laugh)

GM: Your Mother is a theater actor; did she give you advice on this role?

AE: For this role, no, but I also didn't ask her for any. That being said, she has been instrumental in my early development as an actor. Apart from growing up watching her on stage, and apart from attending the drama classes for kids and teens she taught, the techniques, books, films and plays she exposed me to and recommended to me have been hugely influential in how I approach acting.

GM: I`ve read that you enjoyed the makeup process, do you feel it helped enhance your performance?

AE: 100%. The makeup was so masterful and believable; it did so much to inform the role, especially the physicality. Even little things like the long nails or the chapped lips really aided me in getting lost in my circumstances.

GM: Was there anything in the script that was changed due to your input?

AE: Oh gosh, apart from maybe a line here or there I did what was written. Unless I feel that something makes absolutely no sense or is completely unjustified, I consider it my job to honor the writer's work, which was so easy with Dennis and Kevin.

GM: How true does this film ring in terms of the struggles of any artist to make it in this business?

AE: Quite true, indeed. I think anyone pursuing success in the arts, especially on a mainstream level, is beset on all sides. You need focus and drive as much as talent and a thick skin without becoming bitter. There are as many people who desire your downfall as are rooting for you, maybe even more. There’s instability, insecurity, rejection and doubt, but if you're prepared for this, and have a solid sense of who you are and what you want, I'm confident you can avoid a fate like Sarah's.

GM: Any strange or surreal real auditions you`ve been on?

AE: Honestly, no. Especially with the union, people generally play by the rules in this industry, at least nowadays.

GM: Since the film have you had much feedback from your peers in terms them being able to relate to aspects of your character’s strife?

AE: Oh totally, specifically in the beginning. Most actors I've spoken with know an Erin or a Danny, and PLENTY of them have wanted to pull their hair out after an audition .I also feel that most actors are lone wolves by nature and have an innate sense of feeling separate from healthy ,civilized society but maybe I'm just projecting...

GM: What are you currently working on?

AE: I'm about to go to Vancouver to do a feature. It's has an Antichrist meets Vinyon or Under the Skin feel to it so I'm really excited for that. I also have a movie coming out called Tales of Halloween that hits theaters on October 16th!

GM: Finally any advice for our readers who want to became an actor in film?

AE: Train. Try all the techniques you can but make sure you research the school or teacher before you sign up for anything or give anyone your money. A lot of classes, even at "reputable" schools are rackets that will suck aspiring actors dry without giving them safe or effective training. Ask questions all the time. Try different things; the more varied and diverse your training is the more tools you'll have, making it easier to develop your own process. If you're just starting out, audition for and work on whatever you can- shorts, student films, commercials, background-the training is for nothing if you don't leave the classroom and apply what you've learned. Which brings me to another trap: teacher worship.You need to put your trust in your instructor but you also need to trust yourself. The purpose of class is to prepare you for work in the real world, not to be the class star, and a good teacher will teach you how to be self-reliant. There's a difference between a mentor and a guru. Know when to leave the nest. Do theater! Do it. Theater gives you a skill set that you won’t get with on-camera acting. It’s a workout for your voice, body and storytelling ability in a very different way than film. I find my theater experience has been invaluable in strengthening my acting muscle.

I want to again thank our special guest Alex Essoe for taking the time to chat about her amazing role and we all look forward to the amazing things you`ve got in the works.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Burnt Pages: Horror/Cult film Book Reviews: Pumpkin Cinema by Nathaniel Tolle

New Segment! I welcome you to a brand new feature on the blog. Burnt Pages will explore Film books, Guides and Bios. With a wealth of great film books out there its hard to know which are worth your hard earned dollars. Hopefully in a small way this will help. Since next month is Oct I thought of this book as a nice one to kick it off.

Book: Pumpkin Cinema
Author: Nathaniel Tolle
Rating: 3 1/2 burnt pages out of 5

Its not a stretch to say that every horror fans favorite howl-iday is Halloween. I mean horror movies, candy and its the only time of the year its perfectly acceptable to gross out your friends, family and co-workers. The book we are talking about is "Pumpkin Cinema" a guide for the perfect films to watch this season. I`m going to be breaking the review down into chapters.

Before I get into the meat of the book I like to start out by saying the presentation is well done. From the wonderful cover to the lay out, everything is eye catching and inviting. The book is started by a beautifully written introduction that really helps set the tone for the the preceding chapters.  You can tell that he has a true passion for the holiday. After the intro we get into the main book, which is reviews of horror films.

Feature Length Flicks: Two things are clear from reading Tolle's reviews. Hes a talented writer and he knows his cinema. You can also tell that hes having fun with it and it comes through in the writing. From mainstream to weirder horror gems there is something new for every fan to discover. I was very impressed when things like "Blood for Dracula" "Haus" aka "House" (1977) were included. Without the more obscure titles it would be less exciting for the more advanced horror fan. In later editions i`m sure other horror and Halloween themed movies can be added. "Hour of the Wolf" and "Basket Case" would make nice additions.

Next chapter: Fun Sized Films and Creepy Crawly Compilations: This part of the book is perfect for those of you throwing a party and wanting something to play on mute while your ghoulish guests mingle around the graveyard. Its also great because it has selections for those horror fans who also happen to have pint sized monsters of there own.

Halloween on the Small Screen: The real gem in this book is the TV Halloween specials. From Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors to more obscure things like The Paul Lynn Halloween Special its a great guide to tricks and treats on the small screen. Is it totally complete, no. But this being his first edition i`m willing to over look that because its a very good start and misses none of the major stuff.

"Attack of the Top Fives" is a fun list of top five films in different categories.Even if you dont agree with his placements it still is a neat addition to the book and also helps if your looking for 5 films to do a movie thon.

The book ends with a nice outro which like the beginning is well done.

Overall: While its not a totally complete guide, it is a hell of a good read and is very useful when planning a haunted bash or just a get together with some zombie pals.  Or can tell the author is a fellow horror fan and his love for the material really shows. Even hardcore fans can find a lot of stranger little gems within. Masks off to Nathaniel Tolle for capturing the fun spirit of the holiday in this well packaged and written book. Get it!

Here is the link, also please review as well.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Top Ten: Best 90's Horror film

Top Ten: Best Horror of the 1990s.
Everyone says the 80s was the greatest decade for horror. And while that might be true, the 90s had a lot of great films. Here are my top ten. 
PLEASE Note:  If you Dont see something on the list i`m also working on a Top Ten Most Underrated Horror Films which will be listed on next weeks Top Ten. 

10. Misery (1990)
Kicking off the list and oddly enough the decade is "Misery" based on the best selling book by Stephen King. Kings book is a master work and the film for the most part stays true to the original source material. Director Rob Reiner (Princess Bride, Spinal Tap) pulls all the stops to ratchet up the suspense and even manages to make you feel sorry for the Wilkes character,even if just alittle. Speaking of Anne its hard to think of any other actress playing the role. It also has one the most painful looking acts in mainstream cinema, i`m talking of course about the hobbling scene, which James Conn really sells. A list actors, a director at his peek and amazing source material makes for a perfect tense horror film. Just leave the sledge at home you dirty birdie.

9. The Faculty (1998)
After 1996's Scream proved that the horror genre was anything but dead a slew of horror films were rushed out, some great some not. However "The Faculty" was one the great films to come out of them. School is tough and it seems like the teachers are out to get you. But in The Faculty they really are. Horror and comedy blends perfectly with a healthy dose of science fiction, along with a fresh young cast including Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnet etc.We also have veteran talents like three time Oscar nominator Piper Laurie. Fun hip and scary, a must see. 

8. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Long before Twilight spawned the vampire craze it was Anne Rice who wrote the book on brooding blood suckers. 1994's big screen adaptation is a sprawling masterpiece for horror and non horror fans alike. In its rich detail and well written screenplay Neil Jordons film is worthy of the written word it was based upon. Its also fun to see Kirsten Dunst in a early screen appearance as a pint sized but deadly vampire. No sparkling bitches here, these vampires bite. 

7. Bram Stokers Dracula (1992)
At the 7th spot is another vampire based on a book. Frances Ford Coppola (The Godfather need I say more?)  directed this wildly entertaining film which for the most part stays truthful to the book. It also deserves a spot on the list for re-surging the interest in Universal Monsters and spawning a couple copy cats (Wolf, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein) While the casting of Reeves as Jonathan Harker was a major what was he thinking, it still has a great script, inventive camera work and some amazing practical effects work. The Dracula bat is pretty bad ass. It remains one of my Must See around Halloween time. Sink you teeth into it. 

6.Candy Man (1992)
Ok,as a child I must admit I too tried the Candy Man in the mirror but I could never make it to three times (give me a break I was 7 when the movie came out) Horror icon Candy Man may have never reached the heights of say Jason or Freddy it remains near and dear to many horror fans. Clive Baker's film is a modern horror fairy tale and his signature blend of poetry and grisly horror makes this film the classic. So if your brave call him...I didn't think so. :)  

5.The Sixth Sense (1999)
Let me take you back, back to a time when a young director M.Night was said to be the next Stephen Spielberg. That was not in the cards though as recent years he had a series of horrible flops. This movie remains his best movie by far. It was also a watershed in pop culture cinema. "I see dead people" is a line that is still quoted to this day. You could see a real craft and eye for cinema not to mention the "twist" that would become Nights signature. I can still remember seeing this is the theater and hearing people scream and jump out of their chairs. Its card to believe the same director of "Lady in the Water" did this modern horror classic. Maybe that was the biggest twist of all?

4.The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Love it or hate it, BWP was a real game changer in horror and deserves a place  in the top five. What I respect most is its a film that relies heavily on the principle of less is more. Never actually seeing the witch was a stroke of pure genius. It was also ground breaking in the way it used the internet to advertise the film, a concept WAY ahead of its time. Remember people this was pre-Facebook, Twitter etc. This one seems to divide fans but its legacy is proof its not just camp. 

3.Scream (1996)
At this point in the 90's the horror genre was going through a difficult period. This all changed after "Scream" changed the face of horror. Lets face it, before the Ghost Face mask became over satirized (and later parodied) it was damn scary. It was also fun in its self aware meta factor that was ahead of its time. Clever in its wit and masterfully directed by Wes Craven this film deserves its status as horror classic.

2.Seven (1995)
While not David Finchers first feature film (Alien 3) it is one of his best. Fincher uses his signature visual style to tell a story that will grip you from first frame to finish.Andrew Kevin Walker pens an amazingly woven psychological thriller that pulls no punches.  Its also helped by its A-list cast including Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. With lots of twists and turns that builds to one of the most exciting endings which has yet to be matched. This film really proves that Fincher is a master film maker. So whats in the box? Whhhhhhats in the boxxxx?!

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The character of Hannibal has become a permanent icon in American culture, and while this was not the first film to feature the flesh eating anti-hero it is the movie that made him world famous. Many quotes have also been a fixture in our lexicon and its been the source of spoofs over the decade. Its hard to add anything new to a film that's been reviewed and studied many many times over,but I couldn't think of a better 90s horror film. I`ll just say that this is a film that deserves every bit of praise it gets and more. Look for cameos from George A.Romeo (Night of the Living Dead etc) and Roger Corman (Legendary King of the B's) Please pass the fava beans...

As always we cant mention everyone so here are films every bit worthy of your time.
Honorable Mentions: The Craft, Sleepwalkers, Psycho IV: The Beginning, The Addition

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Blood Splattered Blu: Nightmare Castle (1965)

Title: Nightmare Castle
Label: Severin
Release Date:8/18/15
Picture: 1080p HD
Sound: English 2.0

Shes worked with Fellini, Corman Cronenberg and so many others. The pale skinned beauty with fiery seductive eye cheek bones that could kill, Barbara Steele rose from a time when men dominated the horror landscape. With hard work and talent she has rightly taken her place among horror icons like Price, Cushing, Lee etc.To honor her legacy of terror Severin has released not one but three classic Barbara Steele movies on blu. But how do they stack up and are they worth adding to your haunted collection?

The Film: I had never seen "Nightmare Castle prior to this release so I wasn't quiet sure what to expect. Even with lots of plot holes and some needlessly long scenes, it still manages to be campy fun. Its also really helped by some beautiful cinematography, great surreal moments and violence ahead of its time. It also boosts a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone who of course would go on to do great work for Sergio Leone and Serigo Corbucci Dario Argento among others. Non fans of this type of horror might not be into this but fans of classic Gothic horror will find this a tasty treat, flaws and all.

Picture: Nightmare Castle is presented in a 1080p HD res. I was totally blown away by how great Nightmare Castle looks. At fifty years old this year I can say its probably never looked better. I`m not sure but i`d go out on a limb and say this was a 2k scan from the negatives. Its stunning. There are a few flaws later in the movie but I have a feeling it was something that couldn't help. It really doesn't detract or take away anything. Severin out did themselves in terms of picture.

Sound All films are present in a 2.0 soundtrack. Nightmare Castle sounds great. Little noise reduction and characters sound crisp and clear. The upgrade benefits greatly with Morricone's wonderful score.

Extras: A nice featurette "Barbara Steele In Conversation" is a great 30 minute over view of Steele talking about her very interesting film career. Its very candid and she has some wonderful stories to tell. The crown jewel in the features is the commentary with Barbara Steele and David Del Valle. It is wildly entertaining. Del Valle is armed with wit,fun trivia and well researched facts and you can tell they are having a good time recording it. There are also a some cool features for Castle of Blood and Terror Creatures from the Grave. We have deleted scenes from Terror Creature and a featurette "Vengeance from Beyond" and "A Dance of Ghosts" featurette. Rounding out the features are trailers for all three films as well as US and UK trailer for Nightmare Castle. I was most impressed that they included features for the other two films as well, which shows just how they went above and beyond for fright fans.

Overall: Severin has really out did themselves with this release. We get treated to not one but THREE great films starring the dark diva looking beautiful in HD, along with a host of great new features including rare insights by Ms.Steele herself in both interview and commentary form. But they dont stop there, they include several features for the bonus films as well.  I would put this on my short list for best blu release of 2015. A highly recommend bringing these classics into your haunted castle and adding them to your film library.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Films in the Attic: Parents 1989

Title: Parents
Year: 1989
Directed by: Bob Balaban
Written by: Christopher Hawthorne

Randy Quaid ... With his media antics we learned that he is one insane guy, but in 1989s black comedy "Parents" he plays one too..Maybe he wasn't acting?

Parents is a film that seldom gets written or talked about which makes it perfect for Films in the Attic.

Plot: The year is 1954 and Nick (Randy Quaid) and Lily Laemle (Mary Beth Hurt) move themselves and there ten year old son Michael (Bryan Madorsky) to there own little slice of suburban paradise. Things aren't so blissful for Michael who is introverted and seems to live in a world totally of his own. He has no friends expect for Shelia (Juno Mills-Cockell) a girl who is also odd. His strange behavior in school leads him to see a social worker Millie Dew (Sandy Dennis) who is a kind, free spirited type. Michael becoming more convinced something is rotten with his parents and the "left overs" they serve every night, which is never explained.  Is it all in his active imagination or is something more sinister cooking?

I can see where "Parents" would have a hard time finding an audience. Tone wise its all over the place. Keeping with the theme of the movie, one can look at it like movie stew. Take one parts dark comedy, season with 1950s food satire, mix in some art house flavor and finally a dash of tried and true horror show. The end result is one very dizzying movie experience but still its odd enough to keep you glued, even if the direction is all over the place.

Part of what pulls this movie stew is together is the amazing cast. As stated above Randy Quaid is just totally creepy as hell as Michael's father Nick. The things he can do with a simple look, coupled with some great mood lighting really gives you the shivers. Counter balancing this is Lily played by Mary Beth Hurt. Like Quaid she gives a performance that is subtle but you still get the sense there is something not quiet right with her. They really work well as a film couple. Character actor Sandy Dennis who is best known for "Whos Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" plays the social worker. Like the above mentioned her performance is layered and we get a real sense of who she is as a person without saying alot. There is some very funny bits with her and her smoking and she also seems to be a very free formed person by her clothes and big clunky bag. Its little touches that makes this film somehow work. The supporting cast is also very good. Bryan Madorsky who plays young Michael is good even with limited lines. Deborah Rush who you might know from the cult tv show "Strangers with Candy" and more recently "Orange in the New Black" plays a minor but funny role.

What works in the films favor are very basic even primal themes explored such as family, food, sex and death. Also the link between food and death which has been explored in many different films including Hitchcocks "Frenzy" I could go on and on more in depth but I think you get the picture.  The surreal images is something out of a David Lynch film , both sexual and sick. A perfect example is an early scene of Michael's nightmare. The boy is running, jumps on his bed and is engulfed in a sea of blood. When he tells his his Mother she asks if he took of his pj bottoms, because that's when he has nightmares..Its a perfect blending of the horror and sexual. I think my one complaint about this film is the sub plot between Michael and his little girlfriend Shelia. It really doesn't move the plot along or give us a deeper look in Michael and his inner workings. It would have been better to remove her and focus on him and his family.

Fans of the film "Society" (oddly enough released that same year) will find a rare gem here. In fact I would even say they would make a perfect double feature. Parents explores the idea that the rose colored glasses of the 50's family life might be deeply rotten at its core.While it may never get the kind of following as other horror films of that decade its a must see. With its psycho-sexual surreal nature it manages to be humorous as well as deeply disturbing. If your looking for a break from the usual slasher fare your in for a real tasty treat. You might even come back for seconds.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Face Offs Ricky Vitus Interview!

Gorehound Mike caught up make up artist and Face Off contestant Ricky Vitus who tells us about his passion for his art and what its like being on the hit reality show.

GM: Was there one film in particular that made you want to go into a career in make up?

RV: Honestly its hard to pick one film in particular, I had a blanket of films I watched as a kid. Most of them were the Universal Monster films and I really liked the Wolf Man and werewolves. I think "An American Werewolf In London" was a big one for me as far as creating monsters go because I wanted that one when I was alittle bit older not by much probably a little to young to watch it, probably about seven or eight years old. It really triggered in my head when I saw the creature that somebody created it and I really wanted to be the one to create it.

GM: What do your parents feel about your chosen profession?

RV: My Mother loves it. Shes a very free spirited, shes not an artist herself but she respects the arts. She is just wildly out of control happy that i`ve been perusing this as a career. Granite not that she was happy about this but at a certain point I started playing with paint and then moved on to couch cushions, cutting ears off and making them into creatures through the werewolf kits after watching special features on how one of the monsters were fabricated, so she wasn't quiet happy about that but I can guarantee shes happy now.

GM: What was your first professional job and how did that come about?

RV: My first professional job I did was a film while I was at "The Tom Savini Makeup Academy" Outside of the school I worked on a independent film called "Alive and Unburied" an amazing short by Sean Perry, a great guy. It was one of my first professional gigs and I also while I was in school I did a commercial with Steve Johnson which was alot of fun, I did a wolf man for that and acouple other people did a nosterftue and Frankenstein, it was a lot of fun working with Steve Johnson.

GM:  Lets talk about "Face Off" now. How true is the show in terms of reality

RV: Unlike alot of reality show what you see is truly what is happening. There is very little that I could say is fabricated. Every thing we make on there is by us. Truly what your seeing is what actually happened. Obviously everything is condensed into an hour so some things aren't shown but thats just the real reality of editing. Generally true indeed.

GM: You made a lot of friends with the other constants?

RV: Yeah I`m not sure how the other casts work together but our cast ours really hit it off. When your staying, living and working with the same people everyday usually there is a lot of tension but I think we did really good about it. We were all very high into each other. Like we would go home and play games together (laugh) which relives the tension of the day. We never did actually play hide and seek but we wanted too. We played a lot of board games, card games and i`m still talking to a lot of them to this day. Definitely made some great friends.

GM: In between shooting did you have any interaction with the Westmores?

RV: When the Westmores would come in we have a lot of interaction with them. They were only able to show a mi nute  amount of it. However they would stay with us in groups or if we were doing a solo challenge. Up to about ten minutes when we would just I don't wanna say shoot the shit, but we sort of did (laugh) But yeah we got to interact with them a lot. The Westmores are great people.

GM:There must be a lot of pressure on the show, do you feel like you thrive on that?

RV: As far as the pressure goes on the show obviously there, there is going to be a lot of it. But on movies there is a lot of pressure especially if your working on a horror film that has shorter budgets. Granite we don't have the whole night on Face Off. We have a time limit (laugh) the clock is a real thing. I would say that they was a lot of pressure and I feel like I do good under it.

GM: What types of make ups pose the biggest challenge to you?

RV: As far as challenges that pose the biggest challenge I`d have to say group challenge because you have to make sure partners are on board with the designs but every team I was on we seem to mash really well but I think keeping to make sure were on the same track sculptural wise.

GM: Who do you think is your biggest competitor, like whose the one to beat?

RV: Everybody (laugh) Everyone this season I truly believe is talented. Mainly every season I watched and I hate to say but you can pin point who is going to be going home. But this season is everyone is so talented. I feel even the most talented people that are there had a fire under there butt. When they got there. we were all thinking we got this we got this and when you get there and saw everyone's skill set we were like Oh shit maybe we don't get this (laugh) So I feel my biggest competitor is everybody.

GM: So what do you have in the works?

RV: Right now i`m working at "Gateway Haunted Playhouse" Its a haunted house in Long Island, rated the best in Long Island. This is my second season here and we open in a month so we got a lot of work. The theme this year is a summer camp over run by inbred hill people, its very "Hills Have Eyes" Basically what happens is the inbred people take over the camp but they try and stay in role of the camp. Because they take over counselor positions, they imprison the children and i`m currently working on whole lotta hill bred people (laugh) and we also have a midway that is alittle bit detached from the haunt, its like a weird haunted carnival. I feel that if a haunted house is a strong strong midway that's not necessary a terrifying but more funny or spooky. So I have a lot of things in the works

Gorehound Mike would like to again thank Ricky Vitus for taking the time to chat with us. Watch Face Off 9pm Eastern Standard Time and root for him!