Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Closer Look at Wes Craven's MY SOUL TO TAKE trailer

Inspired by a difference of opinion regarding the MY SOUL TO TAKE trailer (I haven't seen the film yet), I've decided to take a closer look at why it seems so damned familiar.

In the trailer, we see a teenager enter a locker room, where he sees another teenager floating in a shower stall...

... which reminds me of the woman floating in a shower scene from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5.

The trailer also has walls covered with scratchy drawings...

... which remind me of the walls covered with scratchy drawings in the recent NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake.

This one might be a stretch, but did anyone else see this shot of a girl through the windows of what appears to be a dollhouse...

... and remember this scene of Patricia Arquette - shot through the windows of a model house she was making in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3?

More obviously, did anyone see these scenes in the trailer...

... and not think of Freddy?

As an added bonus, there's this scene where The Ripperton Ripper breaks through this door...

... which reminds me of this iconic scene from Halloween.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Elvira's Movie Macabre Returns to TV

From Elvira's Official Myspace Blog:

The return of Elvira's Movie Macabre
Current mood:  excited

It's official! Elvira's Movie Macabre will be making it's return to television this Fall with all NEW episodes! All dates, times, and channels are TBA later this summer. The show is syndicated (national) so times & channels will depend on your area/market. Stay glued!

Elvira's Movie Macabre originally began in the Fall of 1981. The show launched Elvira's career as Hostess of Horror and made her a household name on a national scale. classic episodes of the 1980's Movie Macabre are currently available on DVD at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hellstorm: The Movie!

On a number of horror-related forums (and Twitter), I'm known by the screenname Hellstorm, inspired by Warren Ellis' epic run from Marvel Comics.

(The cover in the top left corner wasn't actually a Warren Ellis issue, but it was the first issue I purchased - mostly because I liked the cover - and is the reason I picked up the next issue, which started Ellis' run.)

So imagine my surprise when I learned that Debbie Rochon is working on a new film titled HELLSTORM!

Despite not being related to the comic, I'm hopeful that I'll enjoy it, if only so I can unapologetically display the film's poster (I'm also hoping for a cooler poster, LOL).

Description (and poster) from the film's website: A group of architectural students, their professor and chaperon are trapped in an abandoned building during a freak storm. Soon they encounter something much more terrifying than the storm itself.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

In roughly 24 hours, you'll be able to watch Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders online at

Here's the trailer, which makes it look like a campy version of John Constantine: Hellblazer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Horror Remakes and Reimaginings

My take on "Horror Remakes and Reimaginings" just went online at:

I look forward to your responses.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch George Romero's Survival of the Dead in HD - For FREE!

If you have HDNet Movies as part of your Cable/Satellite/FIOS package, you can watch George Romero's Survival of the Dead for free in HD tonight at 8:00pm, 9:35pm and/or 11:15pm.

For more info, visit

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dream Warriors 2010

This isn't exactly how I remember it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Raising Hell Returns...

... as part of the Kik Axe Entertainment Network!

Scott Licina and James Zahn - the two people who helped make my blog on (the pre-meltdown) a reality - are once again facilitating my Hell-Raising on their new entertainment portal.

Now that the kinks have been worked out of the site (my blog's been on hiatus nearly the entire time), I'd love for you to stop by and check out the new "digs" at:


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Did This Short Inspire Adam Green's Frozen?

Unlike some people, I haven't seen the film yet, so I have to ask...

... is Adam Green's Frozen (2010) an "homage" to "The Ski Lift" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (from 2005)?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wit and Wisdom of John Carpenter

Compare and contrast the wit and wisdom of "internet pundits" with John Carpenter (from a recent interview on

Internet Pundits (IP): "All these remakes of horror films are proof that Hollywood has run out of ideas."

Moviemaker (MM): What’s up with all these remakes? It feels as if your whole filmography is being recycled.

John Carpenter (JC): It’s a brand new world out there in terms of trying to get advertising. There’s so much going on that if you come up with a movie that people have never heard of they don’t pay attention to it — no matter how good it is. So it becomes, “Let’s remake something that maybe rings a bell and that you’ve heard of before.” That way, you’re already ahead.
IP: "Remakes should stay true to the spirit of the original film."
MM: Is it true that when you heard Rob Zombie was remaking Halloween, you gave him your blessing?

JC: Sure, why not? We talked about it. He told me what he had in mind, and I just said, ‘Make it your own film, man. Don’t worry about the original. Just do what you want to do.
IP: "Rob Zombie is (to be polite) an untalented director."
MM: Do you feel better about it because he’s a director whom you like and trust?

JC: It’s not a question of trust. It’s not that I don’t trust anybody but Rob. He is fine to do it — he loves horror films, he’s a very talented guy and I like him personally.
IP: "Rob Zombie raped the Halloween franchise, John Carpenter and/or my childhood with his remakes."
MM: What was your reaction to the protest on Sunset Boulevard? It was reported that people were holding signs that said things like “Rob is raping a classic.”

JC: Aw, those are all homeless people. You can’t pay attention to that. They were panhandling.

MM: But those are your fans!

JC: Those are my only fans. They all live under freeways. Poor Rob. He gets a whole ration of shit from people. I don’t understand it.
IP: "Classic horror films don't need to be remade."
MM: Some just think this version is unnecessary.

JC: They’re not unhappy about Rick Rosenthal [who directed Halloween II and Halloween: Resurrection], but they’re pissed off about Rob? Please! The protests are only going to increase the number of people who go to see the movie—that’s all they’re going to do. Not my fans, because they can’t afford it—they’re just trying to get some money to buy drugs. (laughs) But everybody else will say, “I heard about that protest. We better go check it out.”
IP: "Torture porn is destroying modern horror."
MM: With the current wave of horror movies such as Hostel, Saw and The Hills Have Eyes scoring at the box office, it seems safe to assume that Halloween, Escape from New York and The Thing will likely be gorier and more violent than the originals. That’s ironic, considering that when The Thing  was released, it was attacked for having too much “pornographic violence.” I guess today’s audiences are more conditioned to handle that kind of intensity.

JC: Yeah, but that’s what happens. And that’s okay.

MM: Wow, you really don’t have a problem with any of this, do you?

JC: Why should I? I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be upset about.
I've been saying the same things for years. I had no idea how much I have in common with John Carpenter.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Zombies, Killer Leprechauns and Ray Harryhausen

Clear your DVRs - I just updated My Horror on TV Calendar.

Note: Networks that don't edit for television include Turner Classic Movies, Fox Movie Channel, HDNet and MGMHD.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 2009 Cyber Horror Awards

Once again, Brian Solomon (from The Vault of Horror blog) has assumed the burden of using the disparate opinions of over 40 horror bloggers to determine the winners of  The 2009 Cyber Horror Awards.

Here are the nominees, my choices and the winners. Be sure to visit for Brian's commentary on why the winners deserved to win.

Ray Harryhausen Award for Best Visual Effects
Winner - Coraline
My Vote - Drag Me to Hell
Jennifer’s Body

I voted for Best Visual Effects in a Horror film. Read into that what you will.

Albert S. D'Agostino Award for Best Production Design
Winner - Steve Saklad, Drag Me to Hell
My Vote - Gareth Stover, Halloween 2
Nathan Amondson, Blood: The Last Vampire

Drag Me to Hell took place in some houses and a bank. Halloween 2 covered the gamut from hospitals to the inside of Michael's head. No contest.

Tom Savini Award for Best Makeup
Winner - Greg Nicotero, Drag Me to Hell
My Vote - Lene Bruksas, Ragnhild Prestholt, Gudmund Saksvik & Elisabeth Haugan Sorensen, Dead Snow
Scott Stoddard, Friday the 13th

I voted for Nazi zombies over talking goats - and I don't take it back.

Bernard Herrmann Award for Best Score
Winner - Christopher Young, Drag Me to Hell
Bruno Coulais, Coraline
Jeff Grace, I Sell the Dead

I didn't have strong feelings in the category, so I didn't vote.

Molly Arbuthnot Award for Best Costume Design
Winner & My Vote - Magali Guidasci, Zombieland
Isis Mussenden, Drag Me to Hell
Katia Stano, Jennifer’s Body

Once again, the zombies won. Go figure. ;)

Karl Freund Award for Best Cinematography
Winner & My Vote - Anthony Dod Mantle, Antichrist
Daniel Landin, The Uninvited
Peter Deming, Drag Me to Hell
Sharone Meir, Last House on the Left
Zoran Popovic, Grace

Love it or hate it, Antichrist is a great looking film.

Linnea Quigley Award for Best Supporting Actress
Winner - Lorna Raver, Drag Me to Hell
My Vote - Vera Farmiga, Orphan
Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body
Danielle Harris, Halloween 2
Ok-bin Kim, Thirst

Lorna Raver's performance was too over-the-top for me, but I'm unsurprised she won.

Dwight Frye Award for Best Supporting Actor
Winner - Bill Murray, Zombieland
My Vote - Brad Dourif, Halloween 2
Brian Cox, Trick ‘r Treat
Kyle Gallner, A Haunting in Connecticut
Noah Sagan, Deadgirl

Another unsurprising winner, but too comedic to win my vote in the Cyber Horror Awards.

Vincent Price Award for Best Actor
Winner - Woody Harrelson, Zombieland
My Vote - Willem Dafoe, Antichrist
Dylan Baker, Trick 'r Treat
Kang-Ho Song, Thirst
Peter Saarsgard, Orphan

See my previous comment.

Jame Lee Curtis Award for Best Actress
Winner & My Vote - Isabelle Fuhrman, Orphan
Alison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell
Emily Browning, The Uninvited
Jordan Ladd, Grace
Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body

Isabelle Fuhrman did a great job. I never saw the final twist coming, yet it made perfect sense.


 As I stated in my review of Triangle, I'm a fan of non-linear, recursive storytelling. Trick ‘r Treat won my next three votes for pulling this off really well.

Curt Siodmak Award for Best Screenplay
Winner & My Vote - Michael Dougherty, Trick ‘r Treat
Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard, The Uninvited
Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, Zombieland
Sam & Ivan Raimi, Drag Me to Hell

David Cronenberg Award for Best Director
Winner & My Vote - Michael Doughery, Trick 'r Treat
Chan-Wook Park, Thirst
Paul Solet, Grace
Ruben Fleischer, Zombieland
Sam Raimi, Drag Me to Hell

Val Lewton Award for Best Film
Winner & My Vote - Trick 'r Treat
Drag Me to Hell

Once again, be sure to visit for Brian Solomon's insight into why the winners won in each category.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Oscars' Tribute to Horror Film

For those who missed it, here's the tribute to horror film from this year's Oscars.

There's clips from Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, The Exorcist, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Psycho, Halloween, Scream, Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, The Shining, Hellraiser, Jason from one of the Friday the 13th films, Saw, Silence of the Lambs, Alien, Leprechaun, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Ring, Rosemary's Baby, Misery, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Nosferatu, The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, From Dusk Til Dawn, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead, Little Shop of Horrors, Marathon Man, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, The Blob, Interview With the Vampire, Edward Scissorhands, Friday the 13th, The Sixth Sense, Paranormal Activity, Carrie, The Blair Witch Project, The Omen and... Twilight: New Moon (ugh).

I'm pretty sure I missed something. Feel free to remind me in the comments.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hellstorm's Horror TV Calendar

I just created a calendar of (mostly) horror movies on TV, basic cable and "basic" HD channels at:

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why It's Hard Being A Horror Fan

(This is slightly modified from when my blog used to be hosted on Fangoria’s website.)

10. You have to complain when directors take the basic plot from an older film and tell an otherwise different story, yet list The THING (1982), THE FLY (1986) and/or 1972'S LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (with its basic plot "inspired" by 1960's THE VIRGIN SPRING) among your favorite horror films.

9. You have to complain when American films rip off older horror movies, yet praise films from other countries that do the same thing because they're either "homages" or "responses" to these films.

8. When a new horror film comes out, you have to point out how "unoriginal" it is based upon any plot point or camera angle that bears any resemblance to an older film, while also complaining about how new horror films aren’t more like older films. Again, non-American films are typically exceptions to this rule.

7. You have to complain about how new horror directors "suck", even though your "all-time favorite director" hasn't put out a decent film in years. When this director finally releases a new film, you have to point out how much it also "sucks" based upon all of the ways it's both unlike his previous films and how he has no new ideas.

6. You have to complain when horror films have no character development or when they spend too much time focusing on the characters before the horror finally starts, but only when this happens in new films, not older films.

5. You have to complain about "neutered" PG-13 horror films and gratuitous nudity, violence and/or gore in R-rated films.

4. You have to complain about how new horror films either "aren't scary" or "have an inconsistent tone" (usually by saying, "it can't decide if it wants to be a horror movie or a comedy"), while listing BRAINDEAD/DEAD ALIVE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and/or RE-ANIMATOR among your favorite films.

3. You have to complain that "torture porn" films feature violence and gore in place of character development and how they aren't nearly as violent or bloody as your favorite "classic gorefest".

2. You have to complain when CGI looks fake in new films, while praising older films with obviously fake-looking blood, latex/make-up effects, monster suits or stop-motion animation.

1. As if this wasn't hard enough, you have to do all of these things while at the same time complaining about how mainstream critics don't respect the genre and the intelligence of its fans.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review of Triangle (2009)

Ever since I saw Stanley Kubrick's THE KILLING, I've been a fan of films with nonlinear narratives - from Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch's films to MEMENTO and IRRÉVERSIBLE. Like these films, writer/director Christopher Smith's recently released TRIANGLE is a film that not merely uses nonlinear storytelling, but uses it well.

Much has been made of TRIANGLE'S similarities to the Spanish film TIMECRIMES (LOS CRONOCRÍMENES), which was released on DVD in the U.S. 11 months earlier. While there are admittedly surface similarities - in the same way that zombie, vampire and slasher films tend to have surface similarities - closer attention reveals that these are much different films.

In TIMECRIMES, after his good-natured and affectionate wife leaves to buy them dinner, Hector goes in search of a woman he sees (using binoculars) undressing in the woods behind their home. Mayhem ensues, and Hector ultimately finds himself in a time machine that seems too easily accessible (and conveniently located) at a facility nearby.

In TRIANGLE, we see Jess - a single-mother/waitress played by Melissa George - trying to get her autistic son ready for school so she can take one of her customers up on his offer to join him and some friends on his boat. As in TIMECRIMES, things don't work out as planned, but unlike Hector, Jess doesn't practically stumble into a time-machine, over and over again.

In fact, there's no definitive explanation given for what Jess experiences, though it's suggested during a conversation early in the film. When Jess and the other passengers flee their storm-ravaged boat (named Triangle) for what appears to be an abandoned cruise ship named Aeolus, a comment is made - seemingly in passing - about the mythological origin of the ship's name. This scene, and a vaguely odd cab ride towards the end of the film, seem to be the twists that connect TRIANGLE's Möbius strip-like story.

As Jess relives earlier events from different points-of-view, new information is revealed that explains scenes from earlier in the film. It's easy to understand why Christopher Smith claims it took him nearly four years to work out the story.

The cast did an admirable job making an occasionally difficult film seem believable. The cinematography was appropriately (not distractingly) washed out when a character emerged on deck from the ship's dark interior, and the characters' isolation was emphasized through the use of long shots both outside the ship and within it's corridors.

My only criticism is the lack of surround sound. Besides making the storm, gunshots and chases more immersive, it could have been used when re-visiting earlier scenes to emphasize that we're seeing them from a different perspective.

Even still, this is a minor criticism against a film I strongly recommend to anyone looking for something different from Hollywood's popcorn flick of the week.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Problem with Torture Porn

"Torture porn" is a term that simply doesn't make sense when describing horror films that feature graphic depictions of torture. To the uninitiated, it sounds more like a subgenre of porn than a horror subgenre, as evidenced by Roger Ebert's review of ANTICHRIST:

"... These passages have been referred to as 'torture porn.' Sadomasochistic they certainly are, but porn is entirely in the mind of the beholder. Will even a single audience member find these scenes erotic?"
When a film critic with as much experience as Roger Ebert misunderstands the term, it's obvious that "torture porn" has no value in film criticism – not that this stops some people from using it as a crutch to avoid making informed commentary on a film.

The way “torture porn” has come to be used the last few years is (ironically) a perversion of its original usage. When film critic David Edelstein coined the term in his New York Magazine article titled "Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn," he said:
"... Torture movies cut deeper than mere gory spectacle. Unlike the old seventies and eighties hack-’em-ups (or their jokey remakes, like SCREAM), in which masked maniacs punished nubile teens for promiscuity (the spurt of blood was equivalent to the money shot in porn), the victims here are neither interchangeable nor expendable. They range from decent people with recognizable human emotions to, well, Jesus."
That's right, Jesus. Edelstein included THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST alongside THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, SAW, WOLF CREEK and HOSTEL (which he also described as, "not a bad little thriller, if you can live with the odd protracted sequence of torture and dismemberment") in a list of films that took scenes of torture and mutilation out of 42nd Street and Italian cannibal cinema and put them into the local multiplex.

Disregarding the term's origin - and the ease with which even Roger Ebert can misinterpret its meaning – what Edelstein wrote in his original article is nearly the opposite of how the term has come to be used, as a means of describing a film that’s all spectacle with no plot and generic characters.

With that, how do films like THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, SAW, WOLF CREEK and HOSTEL fit this or other similar definitions of the term "torture porn?"

You can't argue that there's no characterization. Even if you don't like the characters in these films, there had to have been enough characterization for you to dislike them.

You can't argue that there's no plot. Except for the SAW films - where the ongoing story becomes increasingly more complex with each installment - the rest of these films are essentially "road movies" - with torture.

(If you want to complain about the lack of originality in these films, you might as well complain about the lack of originality in films where a group of people are stalked by a slasher or fight off monsters in a city, town or whatever isolated location a film has forced its characters into.)

Besides having no obvious meaning, “torture porn” doesn’t even accurately describe the films it’s applied to using the definition people commonly assign to the term.

So, if not “torture porn,” what term could be used to categorize horror films featuring graphic torture without being confusing, inaccurate or pejorative?


Given the resurgence of exploitation cinema's popularity post-GRINDHOUSE, it seems time that Torturesploitation - denoting films in which torture is the primary exploitable element - takes its place alongside Blaxploitation, Carsploitation and Nunsploitation as a subgenre of exploitation cinema.
"There's something going on in "Hostel 2" that isn't torture porn. There's really something going on there that's interesting on an artistic basis. Sure it makes you uncomfortable, but good art should make you uncomfortable."
- Stephen King interview in the Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2007

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Style vs. Substance in The House of The Devil

Having been bombarded with hype-filled reviews, I went into THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with high expectations. Unfortunately, I came away from the film feeling as disappointed as I felt after watching Oren Peli's over-hyped PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (which may have worked as a short film that took place over three nights, but was simply excruciating at feature length).

Ti West undeniably captured the look, sound and feel of indie horror films from the late '70s and early '80s. It's too bad that a lot of reviewers seem to have been so overcome with the film's style that they neglected to point out how little substance the film has. I guess I should have known better, given the trend in recent years where film analysis is being replaced with how a film either appeals to or offends a reviewer's sense of nostalgia in what are supposed to be film reviews.

When a reviewer has to qualify his or her review by dismissing people who didn't like the film with derogatory, uninformed generalizations about their intelligence, taste or attention spans, this is a strong indicator that the review is based upon nostalgia rather than the film's merits and flaws.

Other warning signs include the use of the term "throwback," or suggesting that a film is only for "true horror fans."

If you want to write a love letter to a filmmaker because he or she appealed to your love of slow, grainy horror films, fine. Pretending that this is the same thing as a film review is an insult to people who are trying to figure out whether or not they should invest their time and money going to the theater to see a film.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL starts with a clichéd "based upon true events" warning. We then learn that Samantha (played by Jocelin Donahue) is a "nice girl" - not because she actually does anything nice, but because Dee Wallace tells her (and the audience) that she has a "gut feeling." To further drive this point home, Samantha is contrasted with her roommate Heather. When Sam gets to her dorm room, she's greeted by the sounds of Heather having sex. Despite Sam's knocking on the door and saying, "It's morning," she fails to get a response, and leaves.

Sam then disregards every obvious sign that she shouldn't take a job babysitting at THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. When she calls about the job from a payphone, she leaves her dorm room's phone number, yet her prospective employer, Mr. Ulman (played by Tom Noonan) immediately calls her back at the payphone. Being set in the early 1980s, I'm pretty sure that this story takes place prior to *69. Even if this isn't the case, we'll see later on that there are only rotary phones in THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. After failing to meet Sam on campus, Mr. Ulman calls her dorm room and offers her $100 if she'll babysit for four hours that night. Despite his stating that "he'll make this as painless for her as possible" she inexplicably takes the job anyway.

I understand what it's like being strapped for cash, but this is ridiculous.

While driving Sam to THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, her friend Megan (played by Greta Gerwig) makes fun of people's interest in the evening's upcoming lunar eclipse. She even says, "It's not like the moon's going to explode - though that would be pretty cool."

Seriously, she says that.

It's astounding to me that some of the same reviews praising this film come from people who typically complain about unsympathetic characters and bad dialogue in other modern horror films. They also commonly complain about how predictable horror films have become, even though anyone who's seen ROSEMARY'S BABY can predict where this film is going. Even the twist ending feels like a cheat - much more so than the ending of HIGH TENSION, which is a film I refuse to apologize for liking. Again, many of the same critics who feel that the ending of HIGH TENSION ruined that film seem to be in love with THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL.

Perhaps - as they used to say in the movies - there are some things that man isn't meant to understand.

During Megan and Sam’s long drive to THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, we see that the Ulmans unsurprisingly live in a secluded, wooded area, just past a cemetery. Reaching their destination, Mr. Ulman explains that he lied about having a child, and Sam will actually be babysitting his elderly mother-in-law. Sam is initially reluctant, so he increases his offer to $200 and then $300 for the night. In a bold display of both greed and willingness to take advantage of someone's desperation, she demands $400 - which he agrees to.

Even Megan - who previously said that IT WOULD BE COOL IF THE MOON EXPLODED - points out that this is far beyond a bad idea. Defying all logic, Sam points out that $400 for four hours is "too good to be true" as an argument in favor of taking the job rather than getting the hell out of there (pun intended).

We’re roughly one-third of the way through the film before Megan leaves her friend at THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Roughly 38 minutes into the film, we finally get a brief, bloody act of violence, followed by almost another 37 minutes of Sam wandering around THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. She unsuccessfully tries to get Megan on the phone a few times, dances around the house with her headphones on, plays pool, looks at some photos in the bottom of a closet, eats some bad pizza and seemingly opens dozens of doors all over the house.

She also turns on the TV briefly, just long enough for a newscaster to tell the audience that the moon should be fully eclipsed just around midnight - half an hour before she asked Megan to pick her up.

After 75 minutes, it seems like the film is finally going to reward the audience's patience with blood sacrifices, stabbings, shootings, and the long-awaited chase through the cemetery. Ten minutes later, Sam does the first unexpected thing in the entire film, though it's only unexpected because there doesn't seem to be any reason why she would think to do what she does.

This is followed by a twist ending that quite simply falls flat. If it were up to me, I would have ended the film 5 minutes earlier.

Then again, I wouldn't have dragged out the first 75 minutes either.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thirst Is A Better Vampire Film Than Let The Right One In

It seemed that shortly after seeing it, a very vocal majority of critics, reviewers, bloggers and podcasters jumped on the "LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) is the best vampire and/or horror film in years/decades/history" bandwagon.

Not only did I disagree, I argued that it's not even a horror film, and not much of a vampire film either. In response, I was accused of being attention deficit; of feeling that it was "too good" to be a horror film; and of having no idea what I was talking about.

Ironically, all of these accusations came from people who don't know me, and thus had no idea what they were talking about. That aside, it's even easier to dismiss these accusations than it was for these people to dismiss me and my opinions.

People who are no more qualified to recognise ADHD than they are any other medical condition should stop embarrassing themselves with these pop-psychology diagnoses. They should really re-think themselves before accusing people they don't even know of having no idea what they're talking about.

As for being "too good" to be a horror film, I don't even know how this makes sense, as I feel genre is identified by tropes, not quality (or a lack thereof). For example, Park Chan-Wook's THIRST (2009) is a film about a vampire - unlike LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is about a boy who gets picked on at school and has a strained relationship with his divorced parents. He meets a girl who encourages him stand up to the bullies at school - before she runs away from home (leaving him behind). Ultimately, she returns to help him fight off the bullies, and they run away together. There's also a sub-plot about the girl being a vampire, but that's not what the film is about - it's merely a complication in this boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl story.

In other words, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN isn't "too good" to be a horror movie, it's a coming-of-age/pre-teen romance that happens to have a vampire in it, and I don't feel this makes it a horror movie any more than I feel this book is a horror anthology:

In contrast, THIRST is a film about a priest who becomes a vampire, and how his newfound urges - due to his vampirism - cause him to do things that go against every belief he's held sacred during his entire life. Vampirism is not incidental to the film's primary throughline, nor is it used as window dressing. THIRST has all of the atmosphere, suspense, self-sacrifice, betrayal, pathos and - most importantly - horror that one expects from the best the genre has to offer.

Quite simply, THIRST is easily the best vampire film in at least a decade - and probably longer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Defense Of CGI

I found this short on, and can't imagine how it could have been filmed without CGI.

Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

There's also a "Making of..." video available, just to show how much of the short was CG.

Making Of Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Blair Witch Project Revisited

Brian Solomon (of the deservedly acclaimed blog The Vault of Horror) recently posted his Top 10 Most OVERRATED Horror Movies, with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT in the #1 spot.

If anything, it should be #1 on the Top 10 Most ACCUSED Horror Movies list.

It's been accused of not having an ending.

Nearly all of the footage was shot by the actors, except for the interview segments with this character.

Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez specifically shot these segments in order to explain the film's ending.
"He (Rustin Parr) took the kids down into the basement by twos. He made one face in the corner, and then he would kill the other one. When he was done with that, he'd grab the one out of the corner and kill that one too."
To everyone who complains about how modern films are "dumbed down" and/or lack subtlety, blame people who make accusations about films they can't be bothered paying attention to, not filmmakers who've learned Myrick and Sanchez's mistake of over-estimating audiences.

It's been accused of "ripping off" CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and THE LAST BROADCAST.

(In an interesting bit of synchronicity, it's recently been announced that Eli Roth is producing a "Faux Documentary" horror film called THE LAST EXORCISM.)


  • THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is the story of three people who disappear after going into the woods to make a documentary, and is told through the use of pseudo-"found footage".
  • THE LAST BROADCAST is the story of three people who disappear after going into the woods to make a "live" public access broadcast, and is told through the use of pseudo-"found footage".
  • CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is the story of a film crew who disappear after going into the jungle to make a documentary, and is told through the use of pseudo-"found footage".


THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is told exclusively through it's "found footage" (and some title cards) - much like later films CLOVERFIELD and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - and unlike CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and THE LAST BROADCAST. With that, I've never seen anyone accuse THE LAST BROADCAST of "ripping off" CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, presumably because it's more fashionable to throw rocks at successes than failures.

It's been accused of being inferior to THE LAST BROADCAST.

One of THE LAST BROADCAST's major flaws is that it's presented as a pseudo-documentary that stops being a pseudo-documentary 10 minutes before the film ends. Even if THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT had no ending, it would still be better than THE LAST BROADCAST's finale (which makes the ending of HIGH TENSION seem Hitchcockian in comparison).

Given it's lack of script (the actors ad-libbed their parts based upon general directions left at their campsite each day by Myrick and Sanchez), THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is a surprisingly structured film, which I suppose is a testament to the filmmakers' editing skills.

During THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT's 81 minute running time...

  • In the first 8 minutes, the main characters AND the film's backstory are established. At this point, the interviews are completed and the crew are on the road towards the woods (Turning point #1).
  • Around the 20 minute mark, we see the first fight over the map / being lost in the woods (Turning point #2).
  • Around the 40 minute mark, Mike admits to kicking the map into the creek (Turning point #3).
  • Around the 61 minute mark, Josh disappears (Turning point #4).
  • Around the 72 minute mark, we see what is arguably the film's most iconic scene.

This is followed by Mike and Heather running towards what appears to be Josh's screams in the distance (Turning point #5).

While the film admittedly has no "Aftermath", I don't see how tacking one on would have "fixed" what wasn't broken to begin with.

Contrast this with THE LAST BROADCAST, which has no characters and no suspense - just stereotypes going through the motions in order to broadcast the filmmakers' message (pun intended) - and then explain to me how THE LAST BROADCAST is the superior film.

Put another way, is Black Christmas (1974) better than Halloween (1978) solely because it was a prior "holiday slasher"? Is Reazione A Catena (a.k.a. Bay of Blood / Twitch of the Death Nerve, 1971) better than both films solely because it was a prior "first-person slasher"? Other than some people's apparent need for a film to have a "message", I have no other explanation why some people feel that THE LAST BROADCAST is a superior film.

If Myrick and Sanchez took anything from THE LAST BROADCAST, it's how NOT to make a low-budget "found footage" film.

It's been accused of being a film not worth seeing once you know it's not a "real" found footage film.

On one hand, I'd argue that it's a "semi"-found footage film, since the footage wasn't scripted like in THE LAST BROADCAST, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CLOVERFIELD and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. While Myrick and Sanchez gave their actors general directions, they had no guarantee there'd be a movie to be "found" once they edited the footage shot by the actors.

On the other hand, when you watch a film like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, you're implicitly making a deal with the filmmaker to buy into the reality of the film - at which point it's up to the filmmaker not to break that deal (like in the final 10 minutes of THE LAST BROADCAST).

If you go into THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT accepting the "pseudo-reality" of the film, it holds up to multiple viewings as well as any other film.

It's been accused of making people nauseous through it's use of "shaky-cam".

Similarly, some kids suffered from seizures while watching Pokemon, while a lot of people didn't. If it's any consolation, in the DVD commentary track it's stated that the original cut of the film was two-and-a-half hours long, and they cut out a lot of the "shaky-cam" due to this test audience's response.

In exchange for showing movie theaters that America was ready for real horror films - as opposed to post-modern teen-horror flicks like SCREAM and I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - I find it hard to believe that anyone would consider THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT "overrated".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Of Mice, Men, Fangoria and True Horror Fans

Some of you may know me through my blogs, columns, podcasts and reviews on various sites - including the recently deceased

James Zahn has given the most authoritative, behind-the-scenes account of what happened. Since no summary can do justice to his story, I recommend that you read it (if you haven't already).

All I have to add is, "It was fun while it lasted."

While some people seemed to appreciate my particular point of view, others were apparently so offended that they accused me of not being a "true horror fan" (among other things, LOL).

To be fair, while many people use the phrases "true horror fan" or "true fan of the genre" (meaning "the horror genre"), I've yet to find anyone willing to stick their neck out and define what they mean.

If it means allowing nostalgia, popular opinion and/or historical significance to sway my comments, or complaining every time a film strays too far - or not far enough - from what's popularly considered "canon", then perhaps they have a point. Whether or not this is the case, this is not the "Consensus Opinion" blog - it's the RAISING HELL blog. Capisce?

To get a better idea of where I'm coming from, you can...

... read my review of DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER on

... read my review of the Australian independent horror film FAMILY DEMONS

... read my 'DVD Fight' between Unrest and The Gravedancers on

... listen to my guest appearance on the Movie Noise podcast's WOLF CREEK episode

... listen to the Kryptographik podcast, which I co-host with Damian Smith

... or see me (briefly) in the comedy-nunsploitation film NUN OF THAT!