Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Days of the Dead Atlanta 2015 Guest List

For the fourth year in a row, Atlanta is being invaded by the dead, and I'll be on hand. Days of the Dead is the first convention of it's kind (that I'm aware of) to happen in Atlanta, and I've had an absolute blast getting to meet horror icons like Kane Hodder, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and more. It's been held in February every time, with this year falling on the 6th-8th, which also happens to be the month of my birthday, so I'm not saying they put this on specifically for me, but I am saying that nobody's ever told me that isn't the case either.

There are still more to be announced, but the guest list this year is so amazing already, I thought I'd do a post about who's gonna be there. In particular the ones I'm really stoked for, a couple of whom you might notice I've met before. So, in no particular order...

Doug Bradley (Hellraiser)

 Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)

Tony Todd (Candyman)

Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th, Hatchet)

Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp)

PJ Soles (Halloween, The Devil's Rejects)

Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser)

Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Everything)

William Forsythe (The Devil's Rejects)

Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)

Corey Feldman
Jamison Newlander
(The Lost Boys)

Valentina Vargas (Hellraiser IV: Bloodline)

Simon Bamford (Hellraiser)

Others already announced include Ginger Lynn, Leslie Easterbrook, Mary Woronov, Duane Whitaker, Michael Alcott, and more. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Art of Andrew Bones

There's a lot of great indie art out there. I have a great respect for artists who are doing what they love, creating truly unique, original pieces and making a living at it. I like to spotlight any work that I come across, both because I think it's cool and because I try and do whatever I can to support anybody who is doing stuff that I genuinely dig. I'm partial to the southeast, Atlanta in particular, mostly because that's where I'm located, but there's also been a bit of a boom when it comes to horror art in the area. The past couple of years, I've met several local people who's work I've been really impressed by, but today I'm going to spotlight my buddy Andrew Bones.

Mr. Bones (ha!), makes absolutely beautiful hand painted sculptures based on everything from superheroes to horror icons. While he mostly deals in magnets and wall hangings, he also offers masks, cell phone cases, statues, busts, and other assorted items. There's even an official Andrew Bones t-shirt. Personally, I'm the proud owner of several of his amazing magnets and the shirt, but I'm always adding to the collection, and I've got my eye on a couple of those skull wall mounts.

You can see several examples of his work below, and even more by following him on Instagram (@Bonesart13), visiting his Facebook page, and of course order some for yourself from his Etsy shop. This is quality work, well worth your money and support. Not only incredibly talented, but Andrew is a great dude, approachable and appreciative of his customers. He's been making the rounds at all the horror and comic cons in Georgia and surrounding areas. His next appearance will be at Days of the Dead Atlanta, in February. Make sure and stop by his table if you're there!

Also, if you're feeling eternally grateful for me having brought this amazing artwork to your attention, and want to reward me for it, I'll just take one of these, please and thank you...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tusk Review

Long before it became hip to hate Kevin Smith for no reason, I became a fan of the guy's movies. I'm still a fan of the guy's  movies. Not being one that's particularly into podcasts, I've never really given much of a look to his whole Smodcast thing though. Tusk is an idea apparently born from one of said podcasts, about a guy getting turned into a Walrus. As ridiculous as that concept sounds, knowing Kevin Smith was getting behind the camera again, there was no way I wasn't going to be watching it.

The movie did the usual festival circuit, Toronto, etc. and then almost unbelievably, it got a limited theatrical release. Even more unbelievably, it played in a theater 20 minutes from me, I was gonna get to see it on the big screen. Being that I have work, and responsibilities beyond movie watching, I wasn't able to make it on opening weekend, but I had plans to see it the following Wednesday. The theater pulled it on Tuesday. Disappointed was me. Fast foward to now, and Tusk is finally on VOD, and I got a chance to watch it.

Podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) runs a popular podcast known as the "Not-See Party", a show that pokes fun at internet "celebrities" like The Star Wars kid or Antoine Dodson, complete with one on one interviews. When a trip to Canada ends up being a bust, Wallace is drowning his sorrows at a local pub in Manitoba. He comes across a strange letter hanging on the wall above the urinal, written by a man who claims to have a lifetime of stories to tell and nobody to tell them to. Not wanting the trip to be a total waste, he calls the guy. When he arrives at a mansion in the middle of nowhere, he's greeted by a wheelchair bound man named Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who offers him some tea and regales him with tale after tale from the interesting life he's lead. Things quickly turn sinister when Wallace learns of Howard's affinity for the noble walrus, and just how deep his love for the animals goes. Meanwhile, Wallace's podcast partner, Teddy, and his girlfriend Ally, enlist the aid of a private investigator to try and track him down.

Tusk isn't Smith's first foray into what could be considered horror, his last movie Red State dealt with a religious cult, and also starred Michael Parks. Personally, I thought it was fantastic, so I was more than ready for more of Kevin's darker side. Tusk plays to that a bit, particularly in the first two acts, as things are pretty twisted for the first 45 minutes. After that though, it's hard to describe exactly how I felt about things. While still dark in tone, things almost get lighthearted, especially when the private investigator, played by Johnny Depp, comes into things. If I had to compare his inclusion, and what ultimately ended up being the mood breaker, I'd compare it to when Lin Shaye showed up in Insidious. Everything was going great, and then...BAM, complete shift in tone. Thankfully, in Tusk the transition wasn't as jarring, and even though there was tension, things were so ridiculous that it was almost hard not to laugh at them anyway. Couple that with the fact that Wallace really was a dick in the first place, and it was hard to feel all that bad for him, If Wallace had been in any way likable, the change most likely would have ruined the movie for me. As it stands, Tusk is insanity, but the kind that you can laugh at.

There's not a lot to talk about effects-wise, and what is in the movie isn't supposed to look good, or hell, even feasible, so let's just say it works for what it is. There's not much blood or anything like that, this is more of an atmospheric horror-thriller that's also a comedy but it's not really any of those. If you're looking for a were-walrus on a rampage, you're going to have to look elsewhere. And for God's sake, if you find that somewhere, please get in touch with me.

Performances and dialog are always the strong points of Kevin Smith movies. They may not be your thing, or your sense of humor, but I think Kevin certainly has a gift when it comes to realistic characters and dialog, and his ability to bring out incredibly believable performances from the actors he works with. Tusk continues in that tradition, save for one disappointing exception. Justin Long and Michael Parks of course are the main focal point for a majority of the movie, and the two of them are great together on screen. Things are moving along well until the aforementioned tone shift, when Johnny Depp shows up. I'm not sure if it was just the character, a French-Candaian ex-cop turned private eye, or what, but we've all come to expect better from Depp, and he's just off in Tusk.

When the credits finally rolled, and I sat and thought about how I felt about Tusk, I knew two things: 1, I liked it, and 2, I had no idea how in the hell I was actually going to be able to put those feelings into words that made sense to anybody unfortunate enough to be reading them. This movie just might be the new definition of "not for everybody". In fact, it invents it's own sub-genre, titled "not for every Kevin Smith" fan. I liked it a lot, but at the same time, I totally understand why so many hated it. If you're in the market for something different, not just from Smith, but different than everything in general, Tusk is worth a watch. If you're into horror/comedy/suspense/thriller in the more traditional sense, you'll probably want to skip it. I'm sort of on board for this new, jaded version of Kevin Smith as long as he's producing original, insane concepts like Tusk. While I don't expect Yoga Hosers or Clerks III to be anything even close to what this is, I certainly can't wait to see them, or what Kevin comes up with next.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Days of the Dead Atlanta: Exclusive Hellraiser Poster Signed by Clive Barker

If you're like me, and you're going to Days of the Dead Atlanta, you're more than likely pretty excited about the Hellraiser reunion, and getting the opportunity to meet Pinhead himself, Mr. Doug Bradley, as well as Valentina Vargas, Simon Bamford, and Ashley Laurence. Sure, you could get them all to sign your Puzzle Box replica, but then it would have writing all over it, and you'd likely smudge the signatures when you play with it. As luck would have it, if you act fast, you can score an exclusive poster to have signed instead, and as an added bonus it's coming pre-signed by Hellraiser creator Clive Barker! These are priced at $50 and limited to only 100, so definitely don't sleep on this if you're interested, they WILL go fast. Get your pre-order in here and pick it up at Days of the Dead in February.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Late Phases Review

It took me a long time to finally get the chance to see Late Phases. It was one of those movies that I felt like everybody but me had seen, and being the self proclaimed werewolf aficionado that I am, this just didn't sit well with me. It's finally on VOD, and I sat down to watch it, hoping to add it to an all too short list of great werewolf films.

When Ambrose, a blind war vet, is reluctantly moved to a retirement communtiy by his son, he soon learns that it's residents have been dying off, the apparent victims of wild animal attacks. When he narrowly escapes one of these attacks on his first night there, he begins to suspect that there might be a little more to the attacker than a wild animal. The more he discovers, the more things begin to look more like the work of a werewolf, and he's only got a month until the next full moon to plan his counter-attack.

I've learned over the years that you've just got to let a lot of things go if you're going to be a werewolf film collector. It's just the way it is. There just aren't that may truly great werewolf flicks out there. I applaud Late Phases for trying something different, and mostly succeeding. That said, the ONE thing that you've got to make sure you get right is the werewolf, for me at least. Unfortunately this is the one glaring thing that I just couldn't get past in Late Phases. The first few, dark glimpses gave me hope, especially in shadowy silhouette, but toward the film's climax when everything is out in the light... well, let's just say if I hadn't known going in that this was a werewolf movie, I'd probably have been wondering what kind of "were" these were. Werehamsters maybe? I dunno. But I wouldn't have guessed wereWOLF right away.

Still, if you can get past the look of the creatures, Late Phases is a pretty solid movie. Nick Damici as Ambrose understandably ends up with most of the screen time to himself, and thankfully he does a fine job (although there are moments especially toward the end where you'd swear he can see just a little). Tom Noonan (woo hoo!) also lends his talents to this movie, as Father Roger, and I always enjoy his work. There are a few other notable names in the cast, but they have bit parts at best.

While the looks of the creatures may have left me disappointed, the effects were actually halfway decent. This is a creature feature, and those are usually fun. There's not a lot of blood and guts, but enough to satisfy. Things seemed to lean more towards the practical side too, and if you're into that kind of thing like I am, that's definitely a good thing.

Late Phases is a good werewolf film, not a great one, which ultimately ends up being disappointing. While there is plenty to like here, I just couldn't get past the poor creature design of the werewolves themselves. If you're not quite as picky of a werewolf person as I am, most definitely check it out. If you're like me, and have a pretty specific vision when it comes to the look of your lycanthrope, this probably won't be your cup of tea.

Monday, November 24, 2014

V/H/S: Viral Review

I, like most horror movie fans, love anthologies, as has been documented well here at the Batcave. There's no other genre that makes use of the short film the way horror does.  Throw three of them together, maybe a bookend segment, and you've more than likely got something that horror fans are going to be paying attention to. The first V/H/S film was met with mixed reception, some loved it, some hated it. Me? I loved it. I'm a fan of almost everyone involved in it, and I thought it was a quite solid anthology. Then V/H/S 2 came along a year later, and it was greeted with almost nothing but praise. I'll admit, as much as I enjoyed the first, V/H/S 2 blew it away. It wasn't perfect, of course, but it was just on a different level than the first. Now we have a third, and supposed final, installment in the series, V/H/S: Viral.

Viral begins with an opening bookend sequence called "Vicious Circles" that raises far more questions than it answers. The editing is purposely choppy, and the parts of it that are clear don't make a whole lot of sense. Surely by the end, it's going to come together and end up telling some semblance of a story, right? Nope. There's a guy, his girlfriend, and some kids on bikes that are chasing an ice cream truck that is on the run from the police. And they're all running in a circle. It makes absolutely no sense, and no effort whatsoever is made to explain why any of this is happening. Or maybe I just wasn't smart enough to figure it out. Either way, it was a mess, and wasn't entertaining in the least.

That was just the bookend story though, surely the segments will fare better, right? They've almost got to...

For the first segment, titled "Dante the Great" we're treated to a tale of a maniacal magician whose cloak is possessed by a demon and must be fed victims for it to continue to perform. Bad premise, bad performances, just an all around bad opening to the short films. The idea of an insane magician could have been cool, but the execution here is lacking severely in imagination. Writer/director Gregg Bishop instead delivers a bland tale that ultimately disappoints from start to finish.

The second segment, titled "Parallel Monsters", from Nacho Vigalondo, ends up being the one bright spot in Viral. It's an imaginative, wonderfully weird, mind bender of a story that brings to mind one of the best segments from V/H/S 2, "Safe Haven". A scientist, working from the basement of his home, ends up perfecting a machine that opens a portal to a parallel dimension. When he opens the door to find another version of himself staring back at him, the two decide to trade places in the respective dimensions for just a few minutes. What they quickly discover is that despite an initial familiarity, the two dimensions end up being far from the same. This one will stick with you, folks. It's more the kind of thing you'd see in Eerie than Creepy though, if you're familar with those old horror comic mags. Really, really enjoyed this one.

The third, and final short is "Bonestorm" from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead. It basically takes a group of these skater kids with the Go Pro cameras, and slaps a coat of horror paint over it. It sounds mediocre from that description, and that's exactly what it ends up being. A bunch of teenagers take a credit card from one of their dads, and head to Tijuana to film themselves shredding in a large, remote drainage ditch. When they get there, they are attacked by a group of masked cultists, looking to make a ritual sacrifice of some sort. The whole thing is jerky, the characters are awful, and it's basically 20 minutes or so of kids running around a drainage ditch hitting skull mask wearing people with their skateboards, and occasionally shooting one or two of them. It's not exciting, we get absolutely no clue as to who the guys in masks are, or what they're doing, and it's just not entertaining.

V/H/S: Viral was a monumental disappointment for me. As a genuine fan of the series, I can only hope that some of the people involved in the first two return for one more shot at bringing the series back from this terrible entry. I'd hate to see it end on such a down note.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Guest Review

The Guest is a rare misstep from director Adam Wingard, who's You're Next was one of my favorite films of last year. A weak script and ridiculous ending are the biggest offenders here, but there's no denying this is an easy favorite for best soundtrack of 2014. Check out my full review at The Liberal Dead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TMNT Nightmare on Elm Street Homage

Hot on the heels of the Friday the 13th episode that kicked off season 3, here's a Nightmare On Elm Street inspired episode, featuring the voices of Robert Englund and Bill Moseley! This show just keeps getting better.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pieces of Talent Review

Pieces of Talent has moments of brilliance, unfortunately they're surrounded by a mess of a plot which takes far too long to attempt to come together into anything cohesive. The kills are setup in a way that makes you think the movie is about to deliver the goods, only to have the rug pulled out from under you when something simple like a shotgun blast happens after a quick cut away. Don't believe the hype, folks. Full review here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

BB Interview with CJ Wallis!

I did my first interview! Check it out over at The Liberal Dead. If you've been with me a while, you'll know my excitement for BB is extremely high. I had a blast doing this interview, and CJ is just an awesome person. Huge thanks to him for taking the time to talk with a lowly blogger. Make sure you hit that link and read the interview, and give my earlier coverage of BB a read here, here, and here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2104 Review

It could be argued that this sequel to the 1976 classic is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, I probably wouldn't even argue with you. Still, I'm a sucker for a guy in a mask, and the Phantom just has one of those looks that I can't help but love. You throw that hood on a guy in a generic slasher every year, and I'll be there every single time. As a fan of the original, I went into the new one with absolutely no expectations, as a matter of fact, I puropsely skipped anything other than the teaser trailer. I wanted to go into this thing as open minded as possible.

The Town that Dreaded Sundown takes place 65 years after the events of the first movie, in Texarkana, Texas. The "moonlight murders" begin again, on a night when the town is having it's annual showing of the 1976 film about the original killer. For a town that's done it's best to move on from the horrific events surrounding the original Phantom, this serves as a brutal reminder of the horror that took place way back in 1946.

This is exactly what you'd expect from a modern version of The Town that Dreaded Sundown. The Phantom in the 1976 film is a killer, yes, but that movie is tame in comparison to this modern version. The Phantom in 2014 has more in common with Ghostface from the Scream series than he does his original counterpart. The kills in this movie are absolutely brutal. I don't know why, but I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of the original, and this definitely isn't your granfather's Sundown. It's been a day since I watched it, and I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about that aspect. On the one hand, I'm all for a fun, new, violent slasher movie to watch, but on the other, I love the old movie, and this one just feels so different that it feels like something completely new that borrows from a classic just for it's namesake.

My fence-riding aside, this really is a fun slasher flick. I enjoyed the kills, there's plenty of brutality and blood, the obligatory bit of nudity, and a badass looking masked killer wreaking havoc. The other thing it has going for it, for me at least, is the screenplay was written by comic writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who you might recognize from this latest "Afterlife With Archie" which puts the Riverdale gang smack in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. That comic is just pure fun, and when I read that he was writing a sequel to Sundown, I hoped he'd bring that same fun to the movie. Aside from the slightly disappointing reveal at the end, I felt like he succeeded in penning a modern sequel to a classic story, whose only flaw in my mind is that it's a bit too modern. As to whether that's a fair criticism, I'll let you decide.

If you liked the original, and don't mind a lot of modern slasher tropes being interjected, you just might come away enjoying this one. If you've never seen the original, and enjoy a good slasher, then by all means give The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014 a look. Personally, I'm still undecided, but plan to revisit the film again when I add it to my collection.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Babadook Review

The creepiest movie I've seen this year. The Babadook is like a nursery rhyme from Hell. It's a character driven spookfest, sort of a slow burn but it's got a nice payoff for those who stick with it until the end. Read the full review at The Liberal Dead

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Exists Review

This year has given us a bit of a resurgence in the "killer Bigfoot" genre, and I'm perfectly ok with that. The two standouts in question have been Bob Goldwaith's fantastic "Blair Witch-esque" Willow Creek, and ironically, Blair Witch co-director Eduardo Sanchez's Exists. Where as Willow Creek takes a less is more, suspenseful route, and ends up being a quite successful creepfest, Exists is a straight up creature feature. Not only do we get to see Bigfoot, but we get to see Bigfoot unchained, rage filled, and ready to wreck shit.

As with most creature flicks, Exists is fairly light on plot, which works just fine as the real reason we paid the money was to watch a big monster rip some people to shreds. The story follows a group of "extreme" twenty-somethings on their way to a secluded cabin owned by the uncle of one of the group. They plan a weekend of sex, drugs, and drinking, and the filming of bike tricks for their Youtube channel. Things get off to a bad start when they hit something with a car. At first they assume it was a deer, but before long they realize it may have been much more than that when they're running from their lives from a sasquatch on the rampage.

I admit, I dug Willow Creek a lot, but when I want to watch a Bigfoot movie, Exists is the kind of flick I want. The sasquatch was full on terrifying, especially during the chase scenes. His attacks are that of a wounded wild animal, Vicious, brutal, and merciless. He's not entirely without purpose though, as you learn at the end, which I won't spoil here. There's a reason the sasquatch is so dead set on getting to these kids, and honestly if you're like me, you'll be rooting for him. This is one of the most annoying group of kids in a horror flick in recent memory, and probably my least favorite part of the movie. There isn't a single one of them to root for. All your stereotypes are here in the ugly, groan inducing glory. The jock, the stoner, the slut, you get the idea. None of the actors are particularly bad, although they certainly aren't good either. On the other hand, Brian Steele is great as the sasquatch.

As a found footage flick, Exists works well enough, with minimal nausea inducing shaky effect. Thankfully Sanchez doesn't shy away from giving us plenty of good looks at the sasquatch. There isn't a ton of blood, but it's there. This is a sasquatch though, and not a werewolf, so that's to be expected. There is a good mixture of practical effects and cgi, but the computer generated stuff is done well enough that it doesn't  take you out of the film. If you hate found footage movies though, this one won't be changing your mind.

For fans of killer Bigfoot creature features, Exists is a more than worthy entry in the genre. It doesn't break the mold, or really do anything to set itself apart. It gets off to a bit of a slow start, but if you stick with it, you get a solid, fun monster movie with a cool looking creature, some good kills, and an annoying cast that will have you rooting for the bad guy. I don't know about anybody else, but for me, that's a recipe for success. Check this movie out.