‘Banshee Chapter’ Director Selects “5 Awesome Conspiracy Horror Films”!

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Blair Erickson’s conspiracy horror Banshee Chapter, which stars Katia Winter (Showtime’s “Dexter”, “Sleepy Hollow”), Michael McMillian (HBO’s “True Blood”) and Ted Levin (Silence of the Lambs), opens limited theaters on January 10 XLrator Media.

The pic centers on a young, female journalist (Winter) who follows the mysterious trail of a missing friend (McMillian) that had been experimenting with mind-altering chemicals developed in secret government drug tests. Levine plays the role of a rogue counter-culture novelist with a penchant for substance abuse and firearms who leads the journalist into the mystery of dangerous chemical research. A fast-paced blend of fact and fiction, the film is based on real documents, actual test subject testimony, and uncovered secrets about covert programs run by the CIA.

Also available on VOD, Bloody Disgusting caught up with Erickson who chatted a bit about conspiracies, while also sharing his picks for “5 Awesome Conspiracy Horror Films”!

Poltergeist (1982)


“How do you have a violent, unstoppable haunting in a newly constructed cookie-cutter suburban development of a California neighborhood?

That’s the question most wonder when they first begin watching 1982′s horror classic “Poltergeist.” Somewhere in the story you get so wrapped up in the evil clowns under the bed and tree arms grabbing through the window that you almost forget that there’s almost no logical reason for the newly built housing development to be haunted in the first place. Almost none… Then in the last act, the suburban father finally uncovers a banal conspiracy of capitalist corruption at his own real estate company that’s so obvious it defies doubt.

When the real estate agent father finally realizes the terrible cost-saving scheme the Cuesta Verde development company pulled on him and the other neighborhood families, it’s too late. The corpses they built the homes on top of are already ripping through the floor. He grabs his soon-to-be-ex-boss and screams “You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones! Why!? Why!?”

As delightfully morbid plot twists go, it works perfectly. Especially since Spielberg’s story makes sure to thoroughly setup the ruthlessly profitable 1980′s era real estate development business and the oily salesmen running it in the background of the entire tale.”

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)


“John Carpenter’s blood-stained love letter to H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorites in his impressive collection of work. A truly imaginative and vivid journey full of mind-bending insanity, great performances, and tentacled monsters.

The always enjoyable Sam Neil delivers a colorful performance as an insurance investigator on the trail of a vanished hit horror writer. Was it faked? Suicide? Murder? Or something beyond comprehension. The conspiracy takes him from axe-wielding book fans in New York to a town full of demonic children that doesn’t seem to exist. And as each and every fascinating Lovecraftian horror surfaces (I’m still dying to know what exactly “The Hobbs End Horror” is) the story rips apart more and more until our poor protagonist is left babbling like a lunatic at the end of the world.

The most meta line of dialog in the film is the moment where Neil tries to warn his editor that Sutter Cane has somehow written a novel called “In the Mouth of Madness” literally designed to induce paranoid schizophrenia in readers. ‘This book is going to drive people absolutely mad!’ Without missing a beat, his editor ironically snaps back, ‘Let’s hope so… the movie comes out next month.’”

Wicker Man (1973)


“It’s been called “The Citizen Kane of Horror Movies” by some critics. A movie so weird and bloodless, it almost shouldn’t even work. Yet the setup and payoff work so incredibly well together the film retains a kind of power rarely matched. Forty years later horror fans still talk about it. (Please everyone forget the ill-advised Neil Labute remake with a shouty Nicolas Cage in a bear suit punching ladies) The original still works because it has a kind of strange creepy magic of it’s era that isn’t easily replicated.

The story follows a buttoned up Christian policeman in England who investigates a missing child on an island of bizarre bee farmers. As he slowly unravels the conspiracy of the child they claim never existed, he starts to realize that he’s among an entire population of pagan worshipping psychos who plot human sacrifices for their harvest. The final images of the film are so cinematically beautiful and terrifying at the same time, the film burns itself into your brain as the flames slowly wind their way up the Wicker Man.

Come for the loopy naked dance rituals of the pagans, stay for the delightfully creepy performance of Christopher Lee as the sinister village patriarch, Lord Summerisle.”

Cabin in the Woods (2012)


“For the first time since ‘Scream’ a horror movie had the brains to intelligently play with their audience by taking the old conventional horror setup of teens lined up for killing at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and then twisting it into a lunatic global conspiracy of the evil unleashed from an anonymous military facility. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon have a blast venting all of their entertainment industry angst into a hilarious script with one of the most applause-inducing bloodbaths ever placed in a horror movie.

Sweet innocent young folks are going to be carved up, but here the slaughter is all being supervised by cynical middle managers part of some mysterious organization. They bitch about co-workers, complain about foreign offices, and make office pools wagering on the gruesome death of these innocents. It’s the little touches that make the horror take on the shape of something more.

When you realize these young people are being sacrificed for a bloodthirsty audience watching quietly in the dark… Could it be the film is saying something about our entertainment and our values as a society? Why do these unseen creepy audience members need to watch “the whore” die gruesomely and painfully, but not before first seeing her nude? Why do these tired desk jockeys executing people from the comfort of Staples swivel chairs and watching mass killing on video monitors seem so familiar to us?

As a twisted commentary on our own perverse desires and social structure, this is one hell of a ride. When ‘The Director’ finally shows up to justify the conspiracy, you finally realize how elegantly the film has slit the throats of so many slasher films of days past, while lovingly tipping its hat to them. And like the best crazy horror tales, you get glimpses of an incredible universe lurking in the shadows that leaves you dying to know more.”

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)


“Here’s a masterpiece of film that defies genre categorization. Is it a horror film about a Vietnam veteran who was the subject of a terrible military experiment? Or is it a drama about a man putting his life together as the horrors of war still haunt his daily life? Like the scene in which Jacob Singer is dunked into the ice bath as his rising fever threatens to boil his brain, there’s no easy answers here. And no easy escape. We never know any more than Jacob does about who or what was done to him during the wary. But the film is unique and breathtaking.

One of the rare other horror films to deal with the MK-ULTRA chemical experiments, This film was very near and dear to my heart when I created ‘Banshee Chapter.’ Bruce Joel Rubin’s brilliant script walks a fine line between a tale of nightmarish demons, tragedy, and Vietnam military horror. What works so amazingly well in this film is the absolute fever nightmare feeling it exudes as it flickers wildly between moments in a life torn apart by war and creepy government chemicals. It could’ve easily seemed silly, but Adrian Lyne masterfully exercises one of horror’s best weapons: restraint.

The result is a film that creates haunting imagery and powerful moments of emotion as you watch one man’s hauntingly lonely descent into the U.S. military’s chemical nightmare. It’s impossible to forget those faceless doctors waiting to operate as Jacob screams “I’m not dead!” in the blood stained back rooms of the veteran’s hospital in hell.”

  • Mayday

    Great list. Never really thought about Poltergeist being a conspiracy story before, but it makes sense. However, it sounds like he got his Wicker Man films mixed up. I’m fairly certain the original had crops, not bees.

  • Darkness69

    Great list indeed. Whoever mentions “In The Mouth Of Madness” and “Jacob’s Ladder” are true connoisseurs of the genre in my book.

  • jakeen229

    Being a younger guy I never got around to seeing In the mouth of madness,I do remember by dad talking about how fucking insane it was tho. I might check it out if it’s on netflixs.