Thursday, June 22, 2017

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation looks absolutely terrifying. It's from the director of Lights Out and is a prequel to The Conjuring's spinoff, Annabelle. I can barely keep it straight. Could period prequel sequels be horror's next obsession? Ouija: Origin of Evil was leagues better than the first one.

https://youtu.be/EjZkJa6Z-SY

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Void ~ Review

If you get down to the nitty gritty, there's two things I love in a horror movie: wild ideas and a respectable execution, with extra credit if it attempts a 70s or 80s pastiche. The Void is unhinged, unabashedly weird, and audaciously retro. While it's not a screaming success across the board, there's so much great stuff here that fans of John Carpenter's early work, Stephen King, and H.P. Lovecraft should run to find this. It's easily one of the best horror films this year.

For starters, understand The Void is an indie with no-name actors (unfortunately only one or two notable performances) and while it's a low-budget film, it makes the most of every aspect. Every dollar of it's budget ends up on the screen. This is a hardcore 80s throwback with a deliberate slow pace, solemn tone, and epic cosmic horror that echo classic films like The Thing, From Beyond, and Hellraiser. It is also a messy, gory film with horrific monsters done with practical effects (almost unheard of in the digital age) that evoke Lovecraft's minions.

The film starts in the lazy outskirts of a small town, then escalates quickly with some monstrous action in a nearly abandoned hospital, then shifts again into an unraveling mystery that seems familiar yet the dread keeps building, and then there's just utter madness in the third act. Ultimately, this movie is all about the trip and not the destination, and like much of Lovecraft's work, is more about the feelings the movie evokes and the big ideas at the periphery. It won't please everyone, but given the right frame of mind, this is one will move you. Where it moves you is beyond explanation.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Now THIS is the spirit of Halloween!

A young boy with a terrible disease got a birthday to remember when his family and neighborhood celebrated his favorite holiday five months early. Thank you to the Castaic, CA community for making sure this boy didn’t miss Halloween! (Read more at ABC News)




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Alien: Covenant ~ Review

The Alien universe continues to confound. I was on the side of loving the big ideas of Prometheus and its last minute reveal that puts it firmly in the canon. However, I'm not really sure what to make of Alien: Covenant. It's much less ambitious and more of a middling effort that adds little to the lore... but is more gory and has more monsters (yay)... but has little story or character development (ney). I wish I had cared more about these characters and felt greater sympathy for their truly chilling screaming death fits. It's more of a plodding horror film (like Alien) that has some fleeting terrifying moments, when it's not backsliding into being overtly contemplative or slow moving (like Prometheus). Looking at it plainly, Covenant is more of a "spin-off" with a cast of unknowns and its own story than a true sequel or prequel. And finally, if you're going to have a "twist ending" make sure the audience doesn't see it coming an hour before the reveal. I was entertained and temporarily satiated, but this diehard Alien fan wanted either more significance, more substance, OR more horror. I dare not ask for all three at this point.




Side Notes:

1. There's a fully produced short-film called The Crossing and that reveals what happened to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the synthetic David (Michael Fassbender) immediately after the events of Prometheus. It bridges the two films and is much better opening that what we got in the Covenant film.


2. Director Ridley Scott revealed in an interview that the next film is called Alien: Awakening and it takes place between Prometheus and Covenant. Oh, boy. Here we go again with what might be the first ever prequel sequel prequel.







Sunday, April 30, 2017

Halfway to Halloween!

We're halfway there! Time to start thinking about your yard haunting, eerie parties, costume builds and all the wicked wonders that will behold Halloween 2017!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Helen Mirren in WINCHESTER

People has posted the first look at Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, the haunted woman who built a sprawling, crazed mansion in San Jose. The movie WINCHESTER is filming now in Australia and moves on site to the actual Winchester Mystery House in May (where I will be sneaking onto the set). The movie opens in spring 2018.



http://people.com/movies/helen-mirren-winchester-movie-first-look/

A Goodbye to Bates Motel



Bates Motel has closed up shop with a killer Season Five that focused on the strongest element of the series: Norman and his mother. This season brought with it the greatest shadow of Hitchcock as the series intersected with the classic movie. They dared to tackle Hitchcock's infamous shower scene with Marion Crane and recreated an almost shot-for-shot remake, yet framed it around a somewhat different story. And it worked! Then we moved past the end of the classic movie to find a fitting and surprisingly emotional end to the Bates Motel.

Across the board, performances from Freddie Highmore as the deranged Norman and Vera Farmiga bolstered the series. After the shocking end of season four, Norma spent most of this season dead in a freezer(!) and yet Vera Farmiga gave the most delightful and offbeat performance as Norman's Norma, as he envisioned her in his mind. Her character had been so emotionally grim and desperate over the previous seasons so it was a relief to see such a carefree and funny Norma. Thank you for unravelling Norman and allowing this unexpected and surprising turn.

Season Five is easily the best, most nuanced, and ultimately tragic season of the entire run and cemented this as a must-watch. It was clever and inspired, and though I never fully appreciated it, I will miss Bates Motel.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Haunting of Hill House Series Coming to Netflix

I try not to post anything that overly premature but this has got me very excited. On April 10, 2017, Variety reported the following:

Netflix is in the early stages of developing a series based on the Shirley Jackson horror novel “The Haunting of Hill House,” Variety has learned. 
The series is described as a modern re-imagining of Jackson’s novel. The novel, which has been praised as one of the best horror stories of the 20th century, follows four people as they spend a summer in a rented mansion. They soon begin to experience a wide range of supernatural phenomena. It was previously adapted into a feature film in both 1963 and 1999. 
The planned 10-episode series come from writer-director Mike Flanagan, who is no stranger to the horror genre. His previous credits include horror films “Hush,” “Oculus,” and the sequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” Flanagan will executive produce along with Trevor Macy, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank. Amblin TV and Paramount TV will produce.

Director Mike Flanagan knows exactly how to build dread and atmosphere as demonstrated in Oculus, which happens to be one of my favorites. My sense is that the series will play out like a really long movie (much like Stranger Things) rather than episodic arcs, and the source material begs for a modern makeover. The most recent theatrical adaptation, 1999's The Haunting, starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and a terrifying shape shifting house. No word yet on when the series may hit Netflix.

Art by Paul Buckley


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Year of Stephen King

Maybe every year is a Stephen King year but 2017 is bringing two major adaptions previously stuck in development hell: IT and THE DARK TOWER. The trailer for IT was released this week and it's absolutely terrifying (and also set a record for most online views in a single day). Perhaps I was too quick to judge that antediluvian clown costume? Even the teaser poster is terrifying (Need help finding the child-eating clown? Look in the balloon.) The movie, like the book, is divided into two parts, although the sequel has not been officially confirmed. Part one hits theaters on September 8 (why not in October?).

https://youtu.be/QnUwUCbwJy4




Over in Mid-World, THE DARK TOWER adaption keeps getting pushed back (now being released on August 4, 2017) but it's mostly in the can and starring Iris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Early reports say it's both an amalgamation of series (there are 8 books in total), a complete departure, and a sequel to them. Oh boy. The clever poster features the dark tower itself in the white space (squint when looking at the poster below).




Over on the television, CASTLE ROCK, a 10-episode series co-produced by J.J. Abrams is coming to Hulu and said to be a psychological-thriller weaving various beloved stories from the King canon. Based on the teaser trailer, I'm thinking it's going for that Penny Dreadful smorgasbord approach? Hmm.


https://youtu.be/UGHupqE1LCI


THE MIST is getting a 10-episode series on Spike TV debuting on June 22. Although the short novella was excellently adapted to the big screen in 2007, we're headed back to the small town enshrouded in a creepy fog filled with grotesque monsters. The initial reports about the reworking of the classic material is a bit troubling.




MR. MERCEDES is headed towards a 10-episode run on the Audience Network (DirectTV/AT&T U-verse) and no one will get to watch it until it gets onto a more available platform.

GERALD'S GAME has been adapted as a film for Netflix, directed by Mike Flanagan (who directed last year's Ouija: Origin of Evil and Hush). An innocent game leaves a woman handcuffed to a bed after her husband suffers a heart attack leaving her to deal with the demons in her head and a rabid dog outside their remote cabin.


Autumn wouldn't be the same without a terrifying Stephen King book, and September 26 brings the new book SLEEPING BEAUTIES co-written with his son Owen King (not be confused with his other son Joe Hill, also a writer (of the fantastic books NOS4A2 and THE FIREMAN). The book is about strange plague that covers all women in cocoons – except one – leaving the men behind to figure it out (now that IS scary).