Fright Fest 2019: The Video Dead (1987)
Directed By: Robert Scott (Ratdog)
Starring: Roxanna Augesen, Rocky Duvall, and Sam David McClelland
Released By: Interstate 5 Productions and Embassy Home Entertainment
Release Year: 1987
Review by: Andy Taylor
Synopsis: “A family takes delivery of a new television set, unaware that it is the gateway by which killer zombies enter the world” -IMDb.
A movie about the living dead coming out of someone’s television is a movie that screams for a good tagline, and there’s so many that could have been picked. Do you know what they used? “The living dead are here, and they’re lusting for blood…yours.” That’s so bad. I would have used something that focused more on the television instead, something like “Didn’t your parents tell you television was bad for your health…” or “Don’t get too close to this T.V., it bites” but no, they just had to make it about the zombies. I can understand them wanting to focus on the walking dead, but the problem is their chosen tagline implies that the zombies actually want blood, and that’s not really the case. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019:The Faculty (1998)
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado)
Starring: Jordana Brewster (Fast and the Furious Series), Clea DuVall (Carnivale, Identity), Louis Harris (Dead Like Me, Severance), Josh Harnett (30 Days of Night, Bunraku), Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog, The Lazarus Project), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Sin City) Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, From Dusk Till Dawn 2), Famke Janssen (X-Men, GoldenEye), Piper Laurie (Carrie, Twin Peaks), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers, Jumanji), Daniel Von Bargen (Lord of Illusion, Super Troopers), Jon Stewart (Former Daily Show Host), and Selma Hayek (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn)
Written By; David Wechter (Penn & Teller’s Bullshit), Bruce Kimmel, and Kevin Williamson (Scream Film Series, Cursed)
Release Year: 1998
Review by: Andy Taylor Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: LIFE (2017)
[ STARTS WITH A SPOILER AND NEVER LOOKS BACK *THE CROWD REJOICES* ]
Have you ever seen that episode of Cowboy Bebop in which Spike leaves a lobster in the Bebop’s backup refrigerator for a super long time, birthing a small, amorphous creature that hunts the crew of bounty hunters (or “cowboys” in the show, shucks howdy!), spearing them with something from its body that knocks them out and incapacitates them? Yeah, this movie is like an expensive, pretty, gorier, and over-serious version of that. I have a feeling I’m not the first to make this comparison, but either way it fits. Something about the way the creature is handled and how it moves and hides and the camerawork when it’s near.
It could also be said that the Cowboy Bebop episode I’m referring to is itself an homage to Alien (ha! I’m only two paragraphs in and I found a way to bring up Alien—my obsession is nearing its final, truest form….), which itself was a transcendent evolution of earlier Sci-Fi/Horror film tropes and themes. So, at this point, all SF/H films (especially those set in a ship in space, on other planets, etc.) could be said to lead back to Alien as being a major influence. Or at least the general framework and approach set up by that film. And as I’ve said before in earlier ramblings and quoting others, the biomech humanoid creature in Alien that hunts the crew could just as easily be a vampire in a castle or Dracula specifically on his trip to London on the Demeter (as I quoted Valaquen of the Strange Shapes Alien franchise blog stating earlier in my Planet of the Vampires review), when boiled down to asymmetrical survival horror by an unknowable creature. Everything old is new again. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken
Starring: John Goodman, Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr
A Review-ish by Feind Gottes
The Gist: After a car accident Michelle is rescued by Howard and taken to his bunker. When she regains consciousness Howard informs her that aliens have attacked Earth poisoning the air outside so the bunker is the only safe place. Eventually she meets Emmet also taking up shelter in Howard’s bunker and learn that inside the bunker is just as scary as outside.
My Review-ish: For those who aren’t aware 10 Cloverfield Lane is a sequel to JJ Abrams cult classic Cloverfield (2008). However, it isn’t the sort of sequel anyone is used to seeing. It’s more of a sister film or companion film rather than an actual sequel. This is a concept I think is pretty damn cool. Also, since I’m not really a fan of Cloverfield I’m happy this sequel is a completely different type of film. Where Cloverfield is basically a found-footage type of film, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a full on psychological thriller and one of the best ever at that. Now I have a couple issues with this movie that I’ll get to at the end but for now let’s concentrate on the positives. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: Annihilation (2018)
Directed by: Alex Garland
Adapted for the Screen by: Alex Garland, based on the novel by: Jeff VanderMeer
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac and Tessa Thompson
Released: February 2018 (USA)
A Review-ish by: Feind Gottes
The Gist: A biologist’s husband returns one year after leaving on a Top Secret mission but is not the same man who left. Government officials take the couple into custody where the biologist learns of a mysterious zone her husband was sent to explore and returned as the sole survivor. In order to find out what happened to her husband the biologist enters the zone with a team of her own where no one knows what they will find. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: Phantasm (1979)
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Don Coscarelli
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thronbury, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester, and Angus Scrimm, et. al.
Released: March 1979
Review by: Thomas S. Flowers
Synopsis: “A teenage boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a lethal arsenal of terrible weapons with him” -IMDb.
When thinking about cosmic horror one begins to formulate a list of criteria on how to judge what exactly is “cosmic horror.” Immediately the name H.P. Lovecraft will surface. In fact, most of how we understand “cosmic horror” is from his collected works. The emphasis typically negates shock horror or gore horror in favor for fear of the unknown. The phenomena we are confronted with goes beyond our comprehension. The word cosmic here then implies that the confrontation in the story extends beyond our narrow human understanding and stretches into a “cosmic significance,” that is, otherworldly. Phantasm (1979), while categorized as more of a fantasy horror, actually represents aspects one would find in a traditional cosmic horror tale, such as an antagonist that could only be describes as simply otherworldly, a story driven by madness, a nightmarish dreamscape, and of course, most importantly, fear of the unknown. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: The Void (2017)
Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Written by: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, et. al.
Released: April 2017
Review by: Jeffery X. Martin
Synopsis: “Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures” -IMDb.
Close your eyes for a moment. It’s okay. Trust me on this. Just shut your eyes. Now, envision tentacles. I know. Weird, right? But for a few seconds, allow yourself to think about tentacles. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: They Live (1988)
Starring: Roddy Piper, Meg Foster, Keith David, Peter Jason, and Larry Franco
Written By: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage)
Directed By: John Carpenter
Review by: Joshua Macmillan
Synopsis: Nada, a wanderer without any meaning in his life discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of LA, he begins to notice that all media and governments are comprised of aliens intending on keeping all of the population subdued so they can dominate the world.
When I sat down to watch They Live for this review, it was the first time I was actually taking the time to see this film. I of course had heard of it, and had been told numerous times that I needed to check it out. I am a huge John Carpenter fan, mostly due to Halloween, The Thing, and Christine. Those were the films from Carpenter that I grew up on. This one has been on my “to be watched” list for quite a long time and thanks to Machine Mean, I finally forced myself to sit down and watch it. Unfortunately, it really did feel like a chore to sit through this film. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: DOOM (2005)
Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Writers: Dave Callaham, Wesley Strick, et. al.
Starring: Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, et al.
Released: October 2005
Review by: Jonny Numb (aka Jon Weidler)
“Didn’t you just greenlight another movie based on a VIDEOGAME?!” – Cecil B. Demented
The bane of PC/videogame adaptations – outside of the creative stigma that puts most critics on the offensive from the start – can be attributed to one simple fact: you’re taking an active medium and stripping away a level of engagement that adds to the visceral experience of playing. And when you think about it that way, it really makes the adaptation feel like an exercise in futility, no matter how high the budget or how skilled the crew. Why bother? Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2019: Prince of Darkness (1987)
Directed by: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Alice Cooper (as Street Schizo), et. al.
Released: Oct. 1987
Article: “Pre Biotic Fluid Mutants: John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness” by JG Clay.
Its almost that ‘most wonderful time of the year’’, folks. No, no the commercially driven saccharine drenched credit indebted mutant known as Christmas. I am referring to a day which is special to me on one count and also to horror fans on two counts. I’m talking about Halloween of course, the day when 46 years ago, I made my debut appearance in this cosmic play we call ‘life’, a day celebrated by people of a darker nature and, last but by no means least, the night that John Carpenter brought Michael Myers home. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2019: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, et. al.
Released: May 1968
Article “Analysis of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ written by: Mawr Gorshin. Originally published on MawrGorshin.com.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction movie produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by him and Arthur C. Clarke. The film is often said to be based on Clarke’s short story, “The Sentinel,” but this is a gross oversimplification, as only a small moment in the film parallels the story, and even that part is radically rewritten. The actual literary equivalent of the film is the novel credited only to Clarke, but cowritten by Kubrick. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2019: Hellraiser (1987) & Hellbound (1988)
Written and Directed by: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Doug Bradley, et. al.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II: 1988
Directed by: Tony Randel
Written by: Peter Atkins/Story by Clive Barker
Starring: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde, Nicholas Vince, et. al.
Review by: D. S. Ullery
You’ll notice I’ve opted to combine my analysis of the first two films in the long running Hellraiser series into one long piece, as opposed to separating them into two articles. No, I’m not being lazy (well, maybe a little). This is actually a conscientious decision, arising from my opinion that the first two chapters of the saga inspired by Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart are so inexorably intertwined they essentially function as two halves of the same, epic film. I’ve opted to approach my review accordingly. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: Phantoms (1998)
Directed By: Joanna Going (Kingdom, Keys to Tulsa), Rose McGowan (Scream, Planet Terror), Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Gone Girl), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Nicky Katt (Suburbia, Dazed and Confused), and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter)
Starring: Joe Chappelle (Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula)
Written By: Dean R. Koontz (Odd Thomas, Watchers)
Release Year: 1998
Review By: Andy Taylor
I’ve never been good at letting certain inaccuracies go when it comes to cinema. I say certain because it seems to be entirely arbitrary whether an inaccuracy is going to bother me or if I’ll be able to let it go. I couldn’t care less how comic book accurate the costumes were in any superhero movie despite being into comic books since I was a child, but when the elephants don’t end up trampling the town at the end of the Disney movie The Jungle Book, a movie made for children, I’m bothered. The thousand and one scientific inaccuracies of any Star Trek show don’t pose any problem for me, but when the Klingons say “Qapla”, which easily translates to victory, and the universal translator doesn’t do the job it does for nearly every other Klingon word, I’m bothered. I’ve watched Braveheart multiple times with no problems whatsoever despite it being as historically accurate as Marvel 1602, but when American Horror Story started with the whole Roanoke thing, I seethed inside. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: Hellboy (2004)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Adapted for the Screen by Guillermo del Toro and Peter Briggs with consultation from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola
Starring: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans and John Hurt
A Review-ish by Feind Gottes
The Gist: At the end of WWII Professor “Broom” leads a platoon to thwart Nazi attempts to open a portal to another dimension unleashing ancient evil. Instead Hellboy enters our world raised by Broom to fight evil. When Rasputin returns from the dead Hellboy must choose between mankind and his destiny as the harbinger of hell. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Director: Julius Onah
Writers: Oren Uziel
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, et. al.
Released: Feb 2018 (Netflix)
Review by: Duncan Bradshaw
There’s one thing you can say with certainty about the (current) trilogy of Cloverfield films; they aren’t trying to copy each other. So far, we’ve had found footage and monsters in Cloverfield, with human ‘monsters’ and the claustrophobia of 10 Cloverfield Lane. I’m not going into my thoughts in those films, because people have beaten me to them already! Read the last couple of days reviews right here and here if you missed them. I will say this though, I enjoyed both of them. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: The Endless (2017)
Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writers: Justin Benson
Starring: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez, et. al.
Released: April 2017 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Review By: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Synopsis: “As kids, they escaped a UFO death cult. Now, two adult brothers seek answers after an old videotape surfaces and brings them back to where they began” -IMDb.
“The Endless” (2017) has been a movie I’ve heard great things about since its availability, so it had been on my list for a while now to check out. It’s fast become a classic watch with many people recommending it on social media. I love horror and sci-fi and fantasy meshed together, and I think you get a taste of all three here, primarily because you can’t tangibly see the entity that creates the tension in the film. However, it’s categorized as an American science fiction film. Another reason the idea of this movie appealed to me is of course the cult aspect. And I am all for a good cult. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Fright Fest 2019: UZUMAKI (2000)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!
Fright Fest 2018: 30 Days of Night (2007)
And here we are. We made it through yet another 31 days of Fright Fest. This was our third year running, and with each I think we’ve gotten better, adding more and more really cool movies. We could not have done this without the amazing writing from some stellar contributors. And we certainly appreciate readers such as yourself, taking time from your day to read our thoughts and ramblings on dark and twisted movies. So, without further ado, let’s get into this final review for 2018’s Fright Fest. As for vampire films, in the early to late 2000s, it seemed as if they had lost their bite (pun totally intended). The vampire as a monster had somewhere along the way from Dracula to Edward lost its sensibility of being in fact a monster. For me, 30 Days of Night was an answer to my lament for the return of scary vampires. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Twilight (2008)
Release year: 2008
Staring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke, and Elizabeth Reaser
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Review by: Justin Park
When Thomas S Flowers announced his annual Fright Fest review series would be themed around vampire movies, I scrolled down the list of potential films to see such classics as Martin, Near Dark and The Hunger. But I was surprised not to find Twilight amongst the titles.
The book series became such a hit I don’t really need to introduce them. Whether you’ve read them or not, you are all probably aware they were written by Stephanie Meyer, you’re all probably aware of the name Edward Cullen, and you are all aware, like it or not, that when exposed to sunlight the vampires in this series sparkle. The reason we all know this is the books became a massive hit, spawning a series of successful films and cemented themselves in popular culture. And isn’t that the goal for most writers and film makers? Isn’t that the success people dream of? Continue Reading