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Fright Fest 2019: UZUMAKI (2000)

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Director: Higuchinsky

Writers: Junji Ito, Kengo Kaji

Starring: Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, et. al.

Release date: February 2000

Review by:  Kim McDonald

Synopsis: “The inhabitants of a small Japanese town become increasingly obsessed with and tormented by spirals” -IMDb.

I find the idea of being driven by compulsive thoughts particularly disturbing. Horror Manga writer, Junji Ito has based a great deal of his work around compulsion. Higuchinsky’s film, UZUMAKI, is based on Ito’s manga of the same name.  It tells the story of Kirie (Eriko Hitsume) and her boyfriend Suichi (Fhi Fan) as they try to figure out the weird obsession with spirals tormenting everyone in their small town.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2019: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford.

Written By: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Directed By: Drew Goddard

Review by: Joshua Macmillan

Synopsis: A group of five friends head out for a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the woods. Once there, the group begins to act strangely, taking on the tropes of modern slasher teens. One by one, the friends begin to die, leading to the discovery of the truth behind the remote cabin. 

At first glance, The Cabin in the Woods appears to be a generic slasher. The trailer, from my initial memories of seeing the film marketed seemed to focus on just about every horror film cliche you could possibly think of. I pegged this film as a flop and only went to see it in the theaters for something to do. I had just moved to the area I currently live in and didn’t know the area or people all that well. Needless to say, my first impulse for something fun to do was to go check out one of the local theaters. The Cabin in the Woods was playing so I figured, “What the hell?” I was taken by surprise. The film is filled to the brim, overflowing in all honesty with every cliche but the spin that Goddard and Whedon put on it sunk it’s claws into me and dragged me along for a truly fun and entertaining celebration and deconstruction of the genre we are all so fond of! Continue Reading…if you dare!

Fright Fest 2019: Sphere (1998)

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Directed by: Barry Levinson

Writers: Michael Crichton (novel), Kurt Wimmer (screenplay), et. al.

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber, Queen Latifah, Huey Lewis (as the helicopter pilot), et. al.

Released: February 1998

Article: “SPHERE, MOTHAFUCKA!” by Michelle Garza

Sphere was released on February 13, 1998, which happens to be my birthday, and for a large budgeted flick it didn’t too well in the box office which is slightly baffling to me because upon watching it I thought it was a good movie. It had definite horror elements to it which pleased me and a cast of well-known stars such as Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson for me to berate while they proceeded to make typical horror movie mistakes. The plot was criticized for not being original but I dug it, it certainly wasn’t new territory to tread but they did a good job bringing it to life. Imagine an alien craft being discovered on the sea floor, and a group is assembled to investigate its origins and reason as to why it is there, shit goes terribly wrong and all hell breaks loose.  Continue Reading…if you dare!

Fright Fest 2019: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

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Directed By: John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness)

Starring: Sam Neill (Event Horizon, Jurassic Park), Jurgen Prochnow (Dune, Das Boot), and Julie Carmen (Fright Night Part 2, Kiss Me a Killer)

Written By: Michael De Luca (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Judge Dredd)

Release Year: 1994

Review by: Andy Taylor

I’ve always loved the title In the Mouth of the Madness. In fact, I loved it so much, I adopted the name for family get togethers years ago because if anything will bring you to the brink of madness, family will be that thing. With that being the case, it’s no wonder I’ve watched the tale of Sutter Cane’s madness inducing stories several times, but it wasn’t until deciding to review it that I learned something new, and I love learning new things. Looking into the film’s production, I discovered that In the Mouth of Madness is part of a trilogy of sorts that includes The Thing and Prince of Darkness. John Carpenter called these three films his “Apocalypse Trilogy”. My apologies if I’m just learning something that most people already know, but discovering this little factoid actually added an extra level of enjoyment for me, and that enjoyment extended to re-watching the other two as well. I’ve always thought they had a similar theme, so it made for a nice surprise to know they were meant that way. So how does this film stack up against its thematic brothers? Let’s find out. Continue Reading…if you dare!

Fright Fest 2019: From Beyond (1986)

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Director: Stuart Gordon

Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Brian Yuzna (screenplay), Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon

Starring: Jeffery Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, et. al.

Release date: October 1986

Article: “Is that a Pineal Gland in Your Head, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?” by William D. Prystauk (aka Billy Crash)

Beginning of Beyond

Following his breakthrough film Re-Animator, which also thrust stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton into the horror slimelight, director Stuart Gordon unleashed From Beyond to the big screen in 1986.

Based on HP Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, From Beyond explores another mad scientist venture. Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel), named after the egomaniacal lunatic scientist from Bride of Frankenstein, has developed the “Resonator” with his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast (Combs). This time, the desire is not to re-animate the dead, but to dive deeper into human consciousness and stimulate one’s sixth sense. Continue Reading…if you dare!

Fright Fest 2019: The Mist (2007)

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Directed by: Frank Darabont

Writers: Frank Darabont (screenplay), Stephen King (novel_

Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffery DeMunn, et. al.

Release date: November 2007

Article: The Mist (2007) – a meditation on a prophecy, by Kit Power.

This conversation assumes you’ve seen the movie, and indeed read the King novella, The Mist. Also, The Dead Zone. Here be spoilers.

 So, I’ve already written about this movie. A couple of years back, on the occasion of King’s 70th birthday, the British Film Institute (BFI) ran a King season, screening adaptations both celebrated (The Shining, Carrie) and obscure (The Night Flyer). Whilst finances prohibited me from going to see everything I wanted (in particular, a chance to see Maximum Overdrive on the big screen – I love it but, let’s face it, it’s pretty bad) I did, after some deliberation, decide to add tickets to the black and white screening of The Mist to my purchase of Carrie/The Shining double bill on Imax. I could just afford it, and I wanted to see something I hadn’t seen. Continue Reading…if you dare!

Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: It Follows (2014)

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Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, and Bailey Spry.

Written & Directed By: David Robert Mitchell

Synopsis: After a sexual encounter, a young woman learns that she is being pursued by a supernatural entity.

Review by: Joshua Macmillan

One of the most discussed films of the past decade is It Follows. A low-budget independent feature that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm. After it’s premier, the film had everyone talking and from the word of mouth alone, my interest was piqued. I do want to say now though that the film is WAY over-hyped. Not in a bad way or anything, I feel like the reputation of the film may hurt it as the film ages, much like the aging of The Exorcist has unfortunately lessened the horrific impact that the film initially had on its audiences. This film isn’t The Exorcist, nor is it anything we have really seen before. Continue Reading

Reviews In The Machine : City of the Flesh Eaters (2019)

City of the Flesh EatersGrowing up, zombie movies were something that really fueled my love for the horror genre. They scared all holy hell out of me and I think the main reason was the implacability and inevitable nihilistic doom to which the movies all seemed to portend. A zombie by itself might pose no threat. But bring on a herd of the shambling monsters and your odds were a lot worse. Add the fact that as the movie goes on, there just seems to be more and more of the things and the outlook is bleak, indeed.

This was the benchmark I used as I began to develop my own sensibilities in crafting horror and it is something I will always be grateful for.

So reading this series from Thomas Flowers I find myself appreciative on several levels. First, it returns the zombie genre back to those days I remember from so long ago but as a bonus, he has also grounded these stories heavily in the eighties. Doing so only helps me feel an even stronger connection as the books have now become tied up in my own fuzzy, happy memories of times gone by.

This series, currently standing at two books, began with Island of the Flesh Eaters. And as the VHS video tape-style cover and title would suggest, this is one story that goes after you from page one, taking little time for fluff or ceremony. You are thrust into the story along with all the gore and glory you would expect. It’s a quick read and well worth your time.

Just last month, we got the next book in the series, City of the Flesh Eaters. And what I think works most effectively here, besides the writing, is the fact that while it exists as a sequel, it runs more concurrently to the events from book one and as a result, the two books could be theoretically read in any order. It’s something that can be hard to pull off but Flowers has done a good job in this effort.

The book follows a format of moving the camera around between a group of characters, giving individual chapters to specific people. The story-lines don’t all occur necessarily at the same time and while it can be jarring to jump from one character to the next and back again, I think this feeling is actually important to the experience of the book. After all, isn’t disorientation exactly what the characters are experiencing themselves?

As would be expected, this story moves along quickly and as the reader, I was waiting for everyone to be brought together and the point where the book would become unified and moving in the same direction. And then, in one brilliant, extended chapter, Flowers takes hold of the different threads of the plot, brings them all together and makes them one with a heavy piece of twine wrapped tightly around everything. It is a plot that is deceptively complex, fooling you with how simple it seems. It is a project that requires organization, even being of shorter length and again, Flowers has proven up to the task of keeping a lot of narrative organized and up in the air.

If you cut your teeth on the glory of eighties horror, this is a book that you should check out. While store-bought nostalgia has become more of the norm anymore, this one feels quite different, coming from the creative mind of someone who has a clear love for that time and for the culture which came out of it. Reading this as well as his Planet of the Dead series gives me little glimpses into what it is I love about zombie movies in the first place. Do yourself a favor and dive in today.

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Chad A. Clark is an author of dark-leaning fiction, born and raised in the middle of the United States. His road began in Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi and from there he moved to Iowa, where he has lived ever since. From an early age, he was brined in the glory that is science fiction and horror, from the fantastical of George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry and Steven Spielberg to the dark and gritty tales of Stephen King and George Romero. The way from there to here has been littered with no shortage of books and movies, all of which have and continue to inform his narrative style to this day. Chad has written horror, science fiction and non-fiction. He has been published by Crystal Lake Publishing, Dark Minds Press, Shadow Work Publishing, Sirens Call Publications and EyeCue Productions and his books have received critical praise from the Ginger Nuts of Horror, Ink Heist, Confessions of a Reviewer, Horror DNA and This is Horror. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: Ghostbusters (1984)

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Genuinely, how the hell can you review a film like Ghostbusters? It would be akin to asking me to review the original Star Wars trilogy. *Spoiler alert* – I’m a fan. Anyway, I was seven years old when Ghostbusters was released, and with three television channels, and no regular paper being delivered to our home, it was bordering on a miracle how we found out about any film de jour. But when me and my brother saw the trailer for it on telly, we were agog. When it came out in the cinema, we badgered our parents for weeks until they finally relented.

Our dad had taken us to see Return of the Jedi at the cinema the year before, but nothing could prepare us for what we saw when we turned the corner to the cinema. The queue went round the building. How long it took to get in, I have no idea, but we did, despite my mum having to gain some patience. Continue Reading

Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: The Others (2001)

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Director: Alejandro Amenabar

Writer: Alejandro Amenabar

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan

Released: August 2001

Film Review By: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Sometimes the world of the living gets mixed up with the world of the dead.” – Mrs. Mills

The Others (2001) is a more mainstream gothic film that was popular most likely at the time it released because 1) Nicole Kidman 2) because films like this were popular at the time (The Sixth Sense came out with a splash in 1999). It debuted at number four at the box office and climbed to number two. However, it’s lasting popularity I think is that it’s also actually an incredible movie and has a shocking twist. It being good is validated by its twenty-nine award wins and fifty-two nominations, including Kidman for a Golden Globe.  Continue Reading

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