Friday, February 27, 2015

Headless Review

Before we get into Headless, let's talk a bit about Found, a movie that hit dvd last year, and I immediately fell in love with. Found was a movie about a kid named Marty who, via snooping through his bedroom, discovered his older brother was a serial killer. It was an original, well made horror movie and also had one of the most disturbing endings you'll ever see. Marty is a bit of a horror geek, and at one point during the movie his mom takes him to the video store to rent some tapes. One of the movies he chooses is called Headless, which he's unable to rent because the tape had apparently been stolen. Turns out, his brother is the one who did the deed, and Marty finds the movie in his room, sneaks it and watches with a friend of his who's sleeping over.

The tape shows a man wearing a skull mask brutally murdering a woman, eventually decapitating her and then raping her severed head. It's a particularly nasty scene, and the goriest in the entire film. A short time after the release of Found, a kickstarter campaign began to turn Headless into an actual feature. The goal was to raise $15k, and they went above that easily, earning a total of over $20k. Apparently the gorehounds really wanted to see this thing happen. Me? I'm not much of a gorehound myself. I like some blood and whatnot in my horror flick, but I'm a monster guy. With that in mind, I understandably went into Headless not expecting to get much out of it. I find there's just not much appeal to watching bad actors hack and saw away at a dummy or two for 80 minutes.

When Headless begins, the credits describe it as a lost slasher from 1978. I've got a bit of a rant about this type of thing as well, but I won't go into it here. The short version is, there's nothing wrong with a throwback flick every now and then, but when almost every single thing coming out claims to be one, not only does it get tedious, but what are the people of 2035 going to have to throwback to? "Our new movie is a throwback to horror movies of 2015, all of which were a throwback to the 1980's!" It just doesn't work.

On to the movie itself though, Headless starts off with the scene from Found, The guy in the skull mask, murdering the woman, and then having his way with her severed head. I saw this and feared the worst, I had no interest in 80 minutes of this, over and over again. To my surprise, and delight, the movie began to actually flesh out quite a bit. The main character is the killer, and instead of just rampant depravity for no reason, the film does quite a bit to show us just why this guy is as fucked up as he is. Via flashbacks, we meet his family, a mother who despises him, forcing him to live in a dog cage, rarely feeding him or giving him water, and an older sister who does nothing but taunt and tease him. We also get to see a young boy with a skull for a face that seems to be the influence, or personification of the killer's desire to murder. If you've seen Found, never in a million years would you think that eventually you'd see a movie that would make you actually feel for the guy doing these horrible things. Headless is that movie.

Fear not though, gorehounds. there's still plenty of cannibalism, dismemberment, and head fucking. Director Arthur Culliper and writers Nathan Erdel and Todd Rigney seem to have captured the all too uncommon lightning in a bottle of a nice balance between story and gory. As stated, the main focus is the killer and his backstory, but there was also a bit of a plot involving one of his victims and her boyfriend, an abusive asshole. There's not a lot there, but at least we aren't just given random victim after victim, without being told anything about them, which very easily could have been the case. The effort to produce an actual movie, and not just a practical effects gorefest is what impresses the most in Headless. The ending was my absolute favorite part of the movie, it's unsettling, much in the same way that Found's ending was unsettling. The meta aspect of knowing the killer from Found was a fan of this one made me appreciate it even more. They don't mirror each other, but there's some family dynamics on display that you can definitely make a connection with, which is a nice touch.

Headless is a worthy spinoff of an already fantastic movie. While at first it may seem unnecessary, it doesn't take long to assert itself, showing that it's more than capable of standing on it's own. There's gore, nudity, cannibalism, and depravity in spades, but it also has a story to tell. I highly recommend fans of Found tracking this one down, as it adds a bit to that experience in my opinion. I'm looking forward to picking this up on dvd and popping in Found, then watching Headless in it's entirety when Marty puts the tape in, then finishing Found after. Gorehounds will eat this one up, but Headless is a special treat for those who want a little more from their splatter movie. It's a hard recommend due to the absolute sickness of it, but if you've read this far, and what I described doesn't bother scare you away, there's a lot to like here.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Days of the Dead Atlanta 2015...The Aftermath

Well, another Days of the Dead Atlanta is in the books. When I got home last night, and had a minute to let everything sink in that I'd seen yesterday, I came to the realization that 2015 was the best Days yet. I met so many amazing people, both the stars that were in attendance, and otherwise. The guest lineup was head and shoulders above the previous years, and for as much as I got to see and do, there was still so much more that I didn't get to. In a perfect world, I'd have enough time and money to experience the full weekend. Sadly, the world is still far from perfect, and it was a Saturday only affair for me yet again this year. That doesn't mean I didn't make the most of my time there though. Warning for those of you with weak stomachs, there will actually be pictures of me in this post. You may want to avert your eyes.

We arrived early, as I knew the Hellraiser panel started at noon, and there was no way I was going to miss it. I assumed there would be a line, possibly one that had started on Friday night. I could see people laying in the hallway floor, with sleeping bags and tents all around, just waiting for the doors to open. Turns out the attendees are possibly not quite as into Hellraiser as I am, as there wasn't a single person waiting in line as close as 2 hours before the panel. Which is when I arrived, and started the line. That's right kids, first one through the door for the Hellraiser panel. Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince, Valentina Vargas, Barbie Wilde, and Doug Bradley all took the stage, and for the next hour reminisced about what it was like to play the Cenobites, and I was hooked (hi-yo!) on their every word. I've done you the favor of flexing my photoshop skills yet again, and tagged myself in the crowd photo below.

From left to right: Simon Bamford (Butterball), Nicholas Vince (Chatterer), Doug Bradley (Pinhead), Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite from Hellbound), and Valentina Vargas (Angelique)

Immediately following the Hellraiser panel, there was a Devil's Rejects panel. I was initially worried that we'd be asked to leave, and there was already a long line waiting outside to take my seat away from me. I never moved a muscle, I sat there waiting for somebody to tell me I had to move, but thankfully it never happened, and in just minutes after Doug Bradley and company left the stage, the cast of The Devil's Rejects were introduced. This time, I got to listen to Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, PJ Soles, William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, Ginger Lynn, Dave Sheridan, and Michael Alcott talk about what it was like to work on one of my favorite movies of all time. I'd love to tell you that I wasn't geeking hard, but I'd be lying to you. Once again, I've tagged myself in the photo. Here, you can see me telling Sid Haig that I think he's #1, at the request of the person who was taking the photo.

Back from left to right: Ginger Lynn, Dave Sheridan, and Leslie Easterbrook

Front from left to right: Michael Alcott, PJ Soles, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, William Forsythe

At this point, I'd seen the two panels I absolutely felt like I just had to. Sure, it would've been neat to see The Frog brothers, but the novelty of listening to Corey Feldman talk for an hour wasn't enough to keep me in a seat, especially since my ass was well past asleep at the time. Plus, I had a mission for the day, step one was "Watch Hellraiser panel", step two was "Meet Doug Bradley". I'd accomplished part one, and had lost another hour of my day to the Rejects panel, I felt like it was time to get step two done, and complete my misson. 

I'm not going to bore you with individual details for every bit of the following portion of the post. You all undoubtedly know who all of these brilliant, beautiful performers are, and every single one of them was not only extremely approachable, but seemed genuinely appreciative of my incessant ego stroking. There were a couple of things worth mentioning though, and I'll get into them with their accompanying photos. 

Doug Bradley

Obviously, Doug Bradley was my first autograph of the day. I would've been fine with not meeting anybody else there, as long as I got to meet him. I was well beyond star struck, and to be honest didn't know if he'd be easy for me to walk up and talk to. If anybody there had the right to act like he was above a little horror con, it's this man. He was the complete and total opposite of that though, an extremely nice guy, and he made it very easy to chat with him. The autograph was a meager $30, I was expecting to pay at least double that for him. I handed him $40, and refused to take any change. He tried a couple of times, but there's no way I was going to take money back from Pinhead. His autograph is worth way more than what I paid to me. I also envisioned getting the opportunity to meet again, and using this as a conversation piece. Here's how I envision the conversation going:

Me: Hello, Mr. Bradley. 
DB: Hi there, how are you?
Me: I'm doing great. It's such a pleasure to meet you again, and get another autograph. You're a God. 
DB: Wait....wait a minute. I REMEMBER you. You're the awkward looking fellow with the big stupid grin who refused to take change from me that one time in Atlanta. 
Me: Yes sir, that was me. 
DB: Mitch, wasn't it? Mitch, I want you to sit here at my table with me and hang out until this thing is over. Then we're going to party, watch some horror flicks. maybe kill some hookers. I'll even let you wear my Pinhead costume if you like. 
Me: Ok. 

Kane Hodder

I'll be perfectly honest, I'll pay for a Kane Hodder autograph every single time he's at a convention I'm attending. He was hands down the nicest person I met at the first Days of the Dead I went to. Not to mention the fact that he played Jason. This time though, the kids asked me if I could get them Jason's autograph, so I asked him to sign the photo to them. They were extremely excited when I got home and showed it to them. He was also gracious enough to choke me yet again, as you can see.

Tony Todd

William Forsythe 

Nicholas Vince

I'm being completely honest with you here, Nicholas Vince is the nicest, most down to Earth, easy to talk to celebrity I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. We talked for a good 15 minutes or so, holding up his line. The conversation started with me mentioning I'd overheard him talking to the people in front of me about the Soska sisters. I told him what a big fan of theirs I was, and had been since they'd sent me a screener of Dead Hooker in a Trunk to review. He asked what my website was, and I embarrassingly explained this little blog you're looking at to him. I was completely floored at how interested he seemed to be in it, even though I'm not naive enough to think he hadn't done the same for every single person he saw yesterday. He encouraged me to get into vlogging if I had any interest in it at all, we talked about blogging, he invited me to a Google hangout he's planning with the Soska's, and when he stood up to take a photo with me, he even complimented by nice, clean shoes. Meeting the Chatterer from Hellraiser isn't something I ever envisioned getting the chance to do, and not only did I get to, but it's an experience I'll never forget. If you ever get the opportunity to meet Mr. Nicholas Vince, make sure you do. 

Felissa Rose

David Naughton

Just a quick note about David Naughton, he was an extremely nice guy as well. But his table was next to Tony Todd's, and while I was standing in line for Tony, I turned back around and noticed David was eating a sandwich. I said "that's not a meatloaf sandwich, is it?" and it took him a second but he finally got there. So I managed to get a bit of a laugh out of him, which was cool. 

With those, I was officially out of autograph money unfortunately. I wanted to get Simon Bamford, Angus Scrimm, and so many more. I already had several of the big guys from previous cons, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, etc. I feel really good about the ones I did manage to add to my wall this year though. I did get a chance to speak to Sid, and got a couple of photos of Angus, as he stopped to talk to Sid while I was waiting in line for my girl to get his autograph. 

I didn't do a lot of merch this year, and that was on purpose. I've got too much stuff as it is, and my house isn't getting any bigger. I did stop by the booth for the movie Pieces of Talent, which I reviewed a screener of for The Liberal Dead a while back. I decided to pick up a copy for myself, and I got to meet the director, Joe Stauffer, and the film's lead, Kristi Ray. I had no idea they were going to be there, so it was a nice surprise. Both were super nice people. 

Not the greatest pic, but there was a guy in a booth across from us trying to make everybody laugh. 

The only other booths I knew I was going to spend money at were the Cavity Colors booth, because Aaron is a super cool guy and I'm a big fan of his work, and the Bonesart booth so I could get some more magnets from my homie Andrew Bones, who you'll remember me blogging about not too long ago. 

From Cavity Colors, I picked up one of the brand new limited edtion shirts from The Demon's Rook, another film I reviewed for Liberal Dead. It's a gorgeous shirt, which I have on as I type this. I also got one of his Season of the Witch shirts, because I've wanted one forever, and I just hadn't pulled the trigger and ordered from the site. The allure was too much for me with it sitting right in front of me though, and my t-shirt embargo was temporarily lifted. I don't have pics, but my girl also got one of his Mickey Malice prints, a Monsterhead turntable slipmat, and some buttons, which Aaron let her have for free. It was great meeting this dude finally. 

From the Bonesart booth, I picked up three more magnets, which brings my grand total to 10, to go along with my Bones tee, 8 bit Jason plaque, and Batman skull. I went with the Nosferatu, because I've had my eye on it for a while now, and I grabbed the Witch, and Pumpkin mask to complete my Andrew Bones Season of the Witch collection. 

And that was my Days of the Dead 2015 experience. If I would've had just a little more cash, it would've been a perfect day. All in all, I'm satisfied with things though, I did a LOT and stuck with my budget. We were there for about 8 hours total, and had a blast. Right before heading out, I stopped by the restroom to empty my bladder, and this hat was hanging on a hook in the stall. At first it seemed a bit odd, but then I decided that it pretty much summed up my day nicely, so I took a picture of it. 

We stopped by Red Robin on the way back, and I got a free birthday burger, and made it home early enough to spend some time with the kiddos before their bedtime. Hard to argue with that. Days of the Dead is the only con of it's kind that within reasonable driving distance for me, and I'm damn sure going to be there every single time. Here's to next year!