Kwanten and Smart will co-star as married couple Brad and Pia Martin, who board Vista Pacific Flight 7500 with their two longtime friends for a trip to Japan. Bibb is set to play Laura Baxter, a stewardess on the transpacific liner, who is involved in a complicated and secret relationship.
I will be one of the first to admit that my home country of Canada isn’t the greatest for producing widely accessible and noteworthy films. Sure, there’s been Videodrome, Ginger Snaps, Black Christmas and so on, but you’d have to admit that consistency isn’t our forte. Enter Danish filmmaker Boris Rodriguez, who with the collaboration of his Canuck counterparts has created a unique and funny twist on cannibalism with Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal. The film made it’s North American premiere last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, and is currently on VOD and having a limited run in theatres. Does Eddie deserve to come in from the cold?
Lars Olafssen is a painter looking to get back his glory days. Seems he’s hit a creative slump, coupled with the death of his father who committed suicide after Lars’ mother was accidentally killed with a lawnmower. His agent Ronny persuades Lars to take up a teaching stint at an art school located in Koda Lake. Lars accepts the job, but upon his arrival has to take on baggage in the form of Eddie, a hulking mute of a man whose last relative has died. Said relative left the art school a generous amount of money on the condition that Eddie be taken care of by the school. Lars reluctantly agrees, and eventually begins to take a liking to Eddie. Unfortunately, Eddie has a bit of a problem with sleepwalking. Eddie also has a bigger problem while sleepwalking: he ends up killing and eating things, eventually working his way up to people. To complicate matters, Lars’ creativity begins to flourish out of witnessing Eddie’s habit. What’s a guy got to do?
Judging from the synopsis, you can tell that the film is one of those screwball comedies, but never really goes all-out and devolves into outright silliness. That’s a good thing, since I don’t think the film would be as endearing as it is. Thure Lindhardt, who plays Lars, is the straight man in his performance with a touch of morbidity. Much of it comes from being Eddie’s enabler, while the rest comes from Lars’ penchant for using said morbidity as his inspiration for art. In spite of this, Lars comes off as a lovable loser type. Lindhardt’s deadpan delivery elicited more than a few chuckles, in conjunction with the film’s narrative that great art can only be achieved through suffering and pain.
The other half of the Lars/Eddie duo is Dylan Scott Smith, who I have to give huge props for the physical acting. Keep in mind that Eddie never utters a word. This leaves Smith taking the Frankenstein’s monster approach with Eddie: using body language to tell the story. Smith is able to paint a stark contrast between the awake Eddie and the sleepwalking Eddie (no pun intended): while awake, Eddie is a gentle giant of a man; while asleep, Eddie is decidedly brutal. Together, Smith and Lindhardt provide an endearing couple who despite the obvious sinister side of things, are quite lovable. As for the other major players, the lovely Georgina Reilly as Lars’ co-worker Lesley is quite likeable, although her role is pretty much your typical love interest for Lars, which plot-wise really doesn’t pan out.
Any negatives towards the film would have to be it’s predictability: bad characters are met with grisly ends, the victim list for Eddie is therefore predictable in of itself, and the ending is once again something you’ll see coming. There’s also the idea of liking a character like Lars that doesn’t quite sit right. He is, after all, a manipulative man who is using the havoc wreaked by Eddie as his source of inspiration, despite Eddie doing away with the other unlikeable characters with the targets painted on their backs. Still, I guess you can count that as his flaws as a character, even if those flaws end up having people getting munched.
Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal can best be thought of as a counterpart to Fido (which, incidentally, is also a Canadian film). While Eddie leans on the black comedy more than Fido, there’s still that endearing character who just so happens to enjoy eating and killing folks. Coupled with the wonderful performance by Thure Lindhardt and the satirical look at the “suffering artist”, Eddie deserves to be seen at least once by horror fans, even if the predictability of the plot does take away some of the fun.
In the film, snooty, aloof, imperious, and oversexed French dance company director Pierre is putting on a new production. Jody (Tisdale), a Caucasian late-20s mother of two and her late-20s African American friend Kendra (Ash) are both vying for the lead in the production. Jody’s extremely controlling former dancer mother is determined that Jody will have the brilliant career that eluded her. The highly skilled mid-30s Diva veteran dancer with the company, Heather Daltry (Shannon), gets cut from the production and goes berserk.
Scary Movie 5, which is said to be a reboot of sorts, will spoof: Paranormal Activity, Mama, Sinister, Evil Dead, Inception, Black Swan, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 127 Hours.
It seems to be a rule (and rightfully so) in horror that do-it-yourself resurrections are not something that you should undertake. Victor Frankenstein found out the hard way, as did the protagonists in films like Pet Sematary, Return Of The Living Dead 3, Friday The 13th Part VII, Re-Animator and so on. Yeah, you could say that either people in these films are slow learners, or that the whole resurrection motif in horror films itself has been resurrected itself to be used in stories so many times that it’s lost all originality. Like many directors and writers before him, director Ken Winkler chose to dig the resurrection theme up for his debut feature Kiss The Abyss. Are the results any different from the previous times this has happened? Well, no. The real question is if this is still a worthwhile film.
Kiss The Abyss tells the tale of Mark (Scott Wilson) and Lesley (Nikki Moore), two newlyweds who are madly in love with each other but struggling to make ends meet, as well as dealing with crappy neighbours who fight all the time. Despite these inconveniences, Lesley is happy as an aspiring artist, as is Mark, who works as a mechanic. Unfortunately, things take a turn when Mark and Lesley’s neighbour accidentally kills Lesley in a fit of violence. Wanting to set things right, Mark and Lesley’s estranged father Harold (James Mathers) conspire to bring Lesley back from the dead. The duo take a trip out into the desert to meet up with a mysterious man named Gus (Douglas Bennett), who has a knack for raising the dead. They succeed in bringing Lesley back to life, however Lesley isn’t quite the same.
Rather than take the usual route for revealing the story, Winkler starts the film off with Mark, Harold and Gus in the desert, while using flashbacks to explain the story up to that point. This also allows Winkler the opportunity to develop the characters and their relationships, which goes a long way when you’re dealing with a story that involves the death of a loved one. This of course helps to sell the eventual fallout that happens with Lesley, and Mark’s subsequent attempt to deal with things. In other words, love ruins everything. Of course, story means nothing if your actors don’t buy in and act the part. Fortunately, the performances by everyone involved keep things together. Moore and Wilson have great chemistry together, and special mention goes to Bennett for channeling his loopy side. The guy plays it up and it works, spitting out one-liners that had me grinning at almost everything that came out of his mouth. Nice job!
On the technical side of things, Winkler has a great eye behind the camera, showing off some great cinematography and polished visuals. Choosing to have thing like the desert scenes washed out as if everyone’s baking under the sun was a nice touch, as was filming certain basement scenes with a blue filter. This isn’t a fun romp through the woods, after all. Topping things off are the makeup effects, particularly for Lesley as her condition deteriorates, as well as the effects for the Angel. I’ll leave that for you to find out.
On the negative side of things, despite some twists, the film is still using the same old story of “don’t screw around with bringing back the dead” narrative. It’s presented in a unique way, but you can guess what happens once things get hairy. In addition, the film does lag a bit in the middle, only to pick it back up for the finale, which is also kind of predictable. The real noticeable fault comes in the form of the ADR. It’s a necessary evil, sometimes, but usually can be worked out. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. When the actor’s tone of voice doesn’t match up with the expression on his face, or the words don’t match up with the lips, you have a problem. It’s not everywhere in this film, but when it does occur, it obviously takes the fun out of watching it.
In spite of the glaring issue of dubbing, Kiss The Abyss is a rather well-produced indie film. The talent behind the camera and in front help to sell a story, that while derivative, is still pretty good. Add to that some great atmosphere and surprising makeup effects, Kiss The Abyss deserves a viewing, if only to see Bennett going off the rails.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film looks very good for a low budget affair. As mentioned above, Winkler chose a variety of ways to film certain scenes, and the transfer definitely reflects that. The desert scenes, while washed out, maintain good, crisp detail with a hint of film grain. The darker scenes do tend to suffer from being overly noisy and lack detail in spots, but given the low budget nature, it’s still quite good.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, things fare quite the same, despite the obvious post-production dubbing in places. Dialogue is crisp and clear, ambient effects are appropriately leveled, directional sound effects are used appropriately, and there’s no distortion.
A word of advice guys: don’t put a hard rock song on the Main Menu and in the Setup like this one, especially when it’s loud enough that you have to scramble for the remote every time you go back to turn off the commentary.
The sole extra included is an audio commentary with director Ken Winkler and producer Eric Rucker. The duo spend the time talking the usual talk of behind the scenes and makings of the film, dropping trivia here and there, all the while keeping things amiable. It’s an informative track that serves as a great piece for repeat viewings.
For those who don’t know, for his classic A Nightmare On Elm Street, Wes Craven drew inspiration from a series of articles printed in the LA Times about a group of Khmer refugees who were experiencing disturbing nightmares, some of whom soon after died in their sleep. Now while Craven didn’t need to advertise his inspiration (which was probably a smart thing), a number of films have played on the whole “based on true events” thing to varying degrees. Shadow People (formerly known as The Door) takes this route, but also a cue from Craven and uses the broader idea of Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS), and throws in the paranormal concept of shadow people to boot. According to legend (or Wikipedia), shadow people are shadow-like figures that are seen flickering on walls and ceilings in a person’s peripheral vision, which various cultures have interpreted as supernatural.
Shadow People stars Dallas Roberts (aka Milton from The Walkind Dead) as a late night radio personality Charlie Crow. Charlie hosts the Night Shift radio program, and spends his time talking the talk of the paranormal and supernatural. One night a young man named Jeff calls in with a tale of the “shadow people”. Charlie is surprisingly in disbelief, but a few days later receives a package labeled “Read and believe”. In the package are documents related to experiments performed at the local Camden College by a Dr. Ravenscroft and his research of sleep hallucinations. Jeff soon winds up dying in his sleep, which leads Charlie to become obsessed with the idea of the shadow people, and looks to uncover what he believes is a conspiracy. Charlie isn’t the only one, as Sophie Lacombe, an investigator from the Center for Disease Control (Allison Eastwood) arrives to investigate not only Jeff’s death, but other deaths associated with Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome. Together, the duo begin to uncover just what it is that Dr. Ravenscroft has been researching.
The idea of using the shadow people as the basis for your film, as well as mixing in a conspiracy-theory type of story is an intriguing one. I mean, who hasn’t at some point in their lives laid in bed and have had seen strange shapes stretching across the wall in the room, just out of the corner of your eye? Granted, for me it was usually after watching an appropriately eerie film or TV show, but the notion that there was something else in the room was unsettling. Director Matthew Arnold holds onto this notion, though he leans towards more of the conspiracy thriller type of film rather than outright psychological/supernatural horror. There are creepy moments that will set the tone for the entire film, but not ones that will consistently pop up and scare. Matthews also opts to employ the Blair Witch idea of interspersing the film with video clips depicting comments of several persons with expertise/firsthand experiences related to the the idea of the shadow people to mixed success. Stylistically, I enjoyed the look of the film, which was almost entirely dipped in cool tones, although the outdoor night scenes tended to swallow everything in darkness.
As for acting, it too is mixed. Dallas Roberts, while tolerable, tends to spend much of his time muttering his lines. Whether it’s his interpretation of the character to be like that, or he’s unsure of the role, I don’t know. Allison Eastwood, daughter of Clint Eastwood, fares okay in portraying the skeptical type that eventually realizes what’s really going on. Judging from her consistently straight tone, however, she doesn’t seem much interested in the material. Almost everyone else involved tends to lean towards over-acting, taking you out of the film.
As you can guess, Shadow People has a bit of a problem. The problem being is that it doesn’t know what it is. What starts out as a documentary-style film with clips of people reacting to this Youtube video that apparently has “exploded with hits” (it hasn’t), shifts towards Roberts and company doing their X-Files conspiracy episode, all the while mixing in more talking heads that have you thinking this is another film-within-a-documentary film. It wouldn’t be so bad if the acting from the talking heads didn’t take you out of it all. Plus, who has production values for those clips that were purportedly from Youtube? Not me.
I don’t want to make it seem like I hated Shadow People. I didn’t. Arnold kept a tight pace while injecting tension when needed, though it just unfortunately didn’t simmer. The visuals and the lack of reliance on CG was also a plus, as was the melding of two different ideas for a story. It was the lack of a balance that hurt this film, coupled with some weak acting from the documentary bits that the film relied on to further the mystery of it all. The bait-and-switch with the Youtube clip didn’t help, either. Had the film undergone a bit of editing in the story department before production started, balancing out the two ideas, the film probably would’ve gone over better. You’re probably better off watching The Mothman Prophecies or something similar.
The 2.40:1 1080p transfer as mentioned above is filmed in a blue filter or desaturated afterwards, making everything look cold or dull. It’s a nice touch, although it tends to swallow detail during the darker scenes. Otherwise, the detail is excellent.
As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, the soundtrack threatens to drown out the dialogue at certain points, ruining any sort of emotion that was going on during those scenes. Thankfully this doesn’t happen throughout the entire film. Otherwise, the dialogue is crisp and free of distortion.
The sole extra included on the disc is a 12-minute piece called Shadow People: More To The Story. The featurette focuses on the phenomena of sleep paralysis and the idea of seeing things/people while in this state. It’s an interesting piece that could’ve easily been used as piece for the talking heads portions of the film.
Reviewed by Michael Erb
When I saw the poster for this movie, two things immediately popped into my head:
1. This poster directly affects my desire to see this movie.
2. That guy has an anus where his face should be.
Poster aside, Cell Count is a little hard to get a handle on. Tons of ideas are thrown into the narrative without support or explanation. Most of the characters are barely defined, if defined at all. There’s so very little information given on important plot details that the movie eventually loses itself. Logic is introduced an abandon when convenient for the plot. The movie is a sickly mess.
Cell Count begins with Russell by his wife Sadie’s bedside in a hospital, waiting for her to die a slow and expensive death from an unnamed disease. Sadie’s mad scientist physician Dr. Brandt tells Russell about a study he’s conducting that will cure his wife’s disease for free. Russel agrees and at first the cure appears to work. But, there are two inmates involved with the study that Brandt never told anyone about. The previously disease free participants and the sick ones receive matching surgical scars. And there are also the sudden, bloody body transformations of the cured subjects. As the study progresses, Russell and Sadie come to find that the cure is worse than the disease.
The greatest flaw Cell Count suffers is that it’s bursting with ideas that don’t get developed past their introduction. For example: the disease is kept vague. That might seem inconsequential, but it becomes a persistently annoying feature. The characters never name it and its symptoms aren’t clear outside of people coughing and looking sickly. Without any description of what these people are going through, their plight is hard to empathize with.
Additionally, the cure is kept painfully vague. No name, no description of treatment. The only definition the cure receives comes from the horrific body changes that come later in the film. This could be a creative decision to allow viewers to put their own thoughts on what the illness is, but it just smacks of lazy story telling. This vagueness extends to every other aspect of the story. The study participants and thinly characterized outside of a clairvoyant guy, who has the most defined arc of the whole movie. But, his introduction leads to another issue.
There are too many ideas competing with too little development. The cure being a sentient, parasitic life form fights for relevancy with many more ideas that have taken up entire films. One of the convicts is a child molester/murder who went through the earliest stages of the cure testing process. There’s the prophetic young man who’s trying to avert a disastrous future. And then there’s the ending. In the last twenty minutes the story blows up with entirely new ideas about where this facility is located, the later stages of cure transformation, and just how much the disease has ravaged the world. The ending sets up a sequel which is coming out, but it doesn’t conclude the story in any way. There’s no resolution of the threat of the cure or the disease, nor any resolution for the characters. Everyone just gets in place for the next chapter of the Cell Count saga.
There’s also an issue with the complete abandonment of logic that sporadically occurs. Somehow, people with open surgery scars and gunshot wounds in their stomach are walking around like they just sprained something at T Ball practice. The established timetable for the cure to gestate into Cronenberg terrors is ignored so the viewer won’t expect who’s going to transform next. Characters who decide to die in the explosive climax change their minds seemingly because Daniel Baldwin is outside and he has a bus. There’s no consistency to the reasoning and reality of this movie.
The practical gore work looks appropriately sickly. Diseased flesh, open surgery wounds, and a face enveloping skin-flap are disgustingly well done. The brief instances of CGI usage don’t fare as well. It is clear those shots were done for budgetary reasons; they look extraordinarily cheap and they’re used for mere seconds. Overall though, Cell Count isn’t as bloody as you might think. So much time is spent on exposition and the slow build that the gore is limited to a handful of moments.
The cast is mostly competent with precious few noteworthy performances. Robert McKeehen and Haley Talbot as Russell and Sadie share the best work of the film. Separately, the two actors are just as disconnected and uninterested as everyone else in the cast. But as a couple, the pair shows off a nuanced collaboration. The little looks and slight touches they trade make their screen relationship feel real. Otherwise, the majority of the cast shovels out their lines without any real emotion or direction.
You have to admire the ambition of writer/director/editor Todd E. Freeman. With Cell Count, he wants to do a body horror movie, expand the idea into a sci-fi thriller, and setup the sequel to be an epic with a completely different tone. However, instead of developing these ideas, the movie just keeps ramming new wrinkle after new wrinkle into an already overloaded narrative. Cell Count wanted to do a lot with a little and forgot to tell a story along the way. Also, not nearly enough Anus Face.
I’ve been entertained by very few musicals in my life. Sweeney Todd, Rocky Horror, The Phantom of the Opera and Evil Dead: The Musical are the exceptions. Most of the time, however, it’s just people with the constant “need” to sing about whatever the hell is going on, the lame plots, the actors/singers who shouldn’t be singing/acting, etc. I’m not sure if director Travis Betz had folks like me in mind when he sat down to pen The Dead Inside, but it sure felt like it.
The story goes like this: Fiona and Wes are in a rut. Wes is a burned-out photographer currently shooting weddings to pay the bills, while Fiona is currently in the midst of a writer’s block, in spite of her success as author of a series of zombie novellas called ‘The Dead Survive’. Fiona soon begins to become unglued and decides to snip off one of her fingers with a pair of scissors and then with them tries to stab Wes in the heart. Wes is obviously freaked out by this, and ships Fi off to the psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately, it’s not her mind that’s the problem: Fiona’s been possessed by a dead girl named Emily. Now it’s up to Wes to try and reach Fiona and reclaim his lady.
I shouldn’t say that’s the only story that’s going on. In a twist of sorts, we’re presented with not only Wes and Fiona’s predicament, but also a zombie couple named Max and Harper, who are currently the subject of Fi’s writings. Now I don’t like to use the word ‘meta’ (since it seems to be the cool word for some people), but that’s what’s going on here. On top of that, you have Sarah Lassez and Dustin Fasching pulling double duties as both Fiona and Wes and Harper and Max, respectively. Now, having to act as two different characters in a film where you’re the only other actor seems daunting, but Lassez and Fasching manage to deliver great performances. Lassez in particular gets points for being able to ham it up as Harper, but also being able to shift between the mayhem of being possessed/not possessed and the cleverness of the musical performances. That’s not to say that Fasching is a slouch. Far from it, as he wields both the comedy and drama roles with ease. Kudos to Betz for being able to make the story as compelling and interesting as he can with so few characters.
Speaking of the comedy, Betz and composer Joel Van Vliet deserve praise for the engaging and downright catchy music and amusing lyrics. It’s not every day you get songs that talk about how much “fun” a zombie apocalypse would be to relieve oneself of their responsibilities. Of course, given the nature of Fiona’s predicament, the songs take a turn in tone, but still remain entertaining. In addition to the songs, Betz works wonders behind the camera with his cinematographer, Shannon Hourigan. Keeping in mind that this is still a low budget affair, the film is shot almost entirely in an apartment with two people. Hourigan compensates with some imaginative and often wonderfully-composed shots rich with colour.
Now obviously, some people are going to balk at seeing this one, since it’s a musical. It’s a given. That’s a minor problem. You could also say that another problem is the fact that Fashing doesn’t get the attention script-wise as Lassez does. Finally, you could say that the second half of the film lags a bit before picking itself up. Whatever the case may be, The Dead Inside still manages to entice and attract attention for not only flourishing under a low budget, but also having talent in front of and behind the camera that obviously love what they’re doing in telling a story, and are good at it. By all means if you have a hankering for horror with music and humour to go along with it, give The Dead Inside a spin. You may surprise yourself.
The DVD is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and as mentioned above looks damn nice with vibrant colour throughout. As for the audio, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track matches the video with it’s quality: crisp, clear and a great mix, overall.
First up are two commentary tracks. The first features Lassez and Fasching joking around and offering funny stories about their time making the film, and the other is the more serious one with director/writer/editor Travis Betz and cinematographer Shannon Hourigan. The latter focuses on things such as the budget, script and selection of songs, but is still enjoyable.
Following that is a 30-minute making-of featurette that shows just how much effort and care the cast and crew put into this film. Topics include makeup and other effects, choreography, singing and more. This is a perfect example of a featurette making you appreciate the film even more after you watch it, which is always a great thing to have.
Rounding things off is a deleted yet still enjoyable song entitled “What is Wrong”, and the film’s trailer.
The Ghastly Award Judges are proud to announce the Winners of the 2012 Ghastly Awards. Nominees were chosen from entries nominated by their professional peers: Comic Book Artists, Writers, and Publishers. Winners were chosen by the Ghastly Awards Judges, Comic Book Creators and the Fans. The Ghastly Judicial Panel congratulates all 2012 Winners and Nominees. It is an honor to be recognized by your fellow professionals for such outstanding work in horror comics. Hit the jump for the full list of winners. READ MORE
Something ghastly haunts Golgotha Cemetery – an entity of unspeakable evil…and insatiable hunger. It is the summer of 1984, a time that should be full of lazy, carefree days for 12-year-old Timmy (Gould) and his two best friends, Doug and Barry. But when a teenaged couple goes missing among the gravestones of the local cemetery, the bloodcurdling legend of a horrific ghoul begins to seem more like reality than myth. As the body count rises, Timmy and his friends are forced to confront their worst fears when they unearth long-buried secrets and unleash not only their personal demons…but also the one lurking underground!
The Walking Dead #100 is the best selling comic in the North American for 2012, followed closely by 9 Marvel titles (mostly AvX). Take a look at the list after the jump. READ MORE
A lot happened last year. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, and some of it was downright ugly. I think it’s safe to say that when it came to the horror games of 2012, there was something for everyone. There’s the bustling indie horror revolution, which brought us amazing games like Slender and DayZ, both of which will soon be getting their own standalone games. That was fueled by Steam Greenlight, and even Kickstarter, to a certain degree. Also, zombies. There were a lot of those, too. Too many, even, and I never thought I’d say that. The year also brought us long anticipated sequels to two of the major horror franchises, with Resident Evil 7 and Silent Hill: Downpour. Oh, and Bloody Disgusting got a total site redesign. It looks gorgeous now (I know, I’m shameless).
I’ve looked through the highs and lows of 2012, brought them all together, and now I’d very much like to share them with all of you. Let’s look back at the year that was 2012, so we can better prepare ourselves for the craziness that will be 2013.
Hey everyone, I want to take a second to wish each and every single one of you the happiest of New Years as we begin to ring in 2013 around the globe. It’s been an amazing year with its fair share of ups and downs but I’m certain that we’re all looking forward to a new year and a fresh start. So, with that, I want to thank each and every single one of you readers. Forgive my going a little mushy here, but I love you all and I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart.
I’ll see you all next year! READ MORE
This year, we’ve welcomed a lot of new writers to our home video review team and wanted them to get in on the year-end list action. The really neat thing about their picks is that out of all the submissions, nobody chose the same films for either category – plenty o’ variety on these lists. Check past the break for Patrick Cooper, Lauren Taylor, and Michael Erb’s Best & Worst Horror Films of 2012! READ MORE
Now in their second year coming, The Ghastly Awards, which honor excellence in horror comics, have just announced the 2012 list of nominees. The Ghastly Awards work in a fashion similar to the Eisners in that industry professionals nominate their peers based on their tremendous work efforts throughout the year. There is a really solid list of nominees that you can check out after the break. Also this year, there is a fan’s choice award! Voting will open in January. READ MORE
I can’t believe 2012 is almost over. Partly because the year flew by, but mostly because not many films that came out truly left an impression. As horror fans, I think we’re in the same sort of position we were in at the tail-end of all the torture crap; we need a new movement. A new direction. A new something. Anything. We’ve gone through a few trends in the past few years (found footage, ghosts, and vampires to name a few), but nobody is doing anything interesting with them at the moment.
The reason I’m doing all this complaining as a preface for my Best Of list is because this is the first year since I’ve been writing for the site that I haven’t been able to come up with a Top Ten. Either I pulled a Rip Van Winkle and slept through the year or 2012 was a huge bummer. Below are my five favorite horror films of the year, along with a really fun honorable mention that just barely didn’t make it onto the list. READ MORE
2012 has been a snoozer of a year for horror for the most part. I can’t think of another year that I’ve been with the site when I’ve been more indifferent, bored, disappointed, and otherwise unamused by most of what I watched. Not like it should come as a huge shock to anyone that went to the theatre this year, but most of what I’ve included on my Worst Of list are studio films that feel like they were distributed and made by people who just don’t care. Marketing and brand loyalty made some of these movies money, not the actual quality of what was on screen – talk about depressing.
This year, one film stands above all others as the worst thing I had the displeasure of sitting through, regardless of genre, and everything else on my list might as well be second place; they’re all equally shallow and uninspired. As always, here’s to looking forward to next year, which will no doubt have a surprise or two, along with Stoker, Antiviral (hopefully), and You’re Next. READ MORE
2012 was another great year for comics and we saw the trend of strong storytelling continue. I picked my top 5 books for the year (not all horror), my favorite graphic novel, and some honorable mentions that stood out in my mind. 2012 was a real solid year for indie publishers, as my Best of 2012 List shows. READ MORE
Celebrate the end of the world with a beat by Nine Inch Nails and a supercut of 38 end of the world movies! It was nice knowing you all and we hope that we’ll see you in the next life, whatever that is. Long live horror!
Wanna know what movies are includes? Well, here you go!
2012, Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Rapture, The Day After Tomorrow, The Road, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Independence Day, Children of Men, The Matrix, Blindness, Day of the Dead, 28 Weeks Later, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, The Day After, Last Night, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Kaboom, A Boy & His Dog, Delicatessen, I Am Legend, Planet of the Apes, Resident Evil, Night of the Living Dead, Miracle Mile, Save The Green Planet, Vanishing on 7th Street, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Knowing, Zombieland, Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Sunshine, The Quiet Earth, WALL·E, On the Beach and Melancholia. READ MORE
The big day is just a week away, and I know a lot of you have yet to complete your holiday shopping. Lucky for you, we’ve sifted through all the comics, trades, toys, and collectables so you don’t have to. The BD Comic Book Crew (as we are henceforth to be known) has put together a naughty list of (mostly new) gift ideas for the comic lovers in your life. It ranges from Christmas tree ornaments to compendiums to charitable donations. Without further adieu, The 2012 Comics Gift Guide. READ MORE
If you’re like me, there’s something creepy about winter. It’s that sense of being isolated. Especially, you know, if you go on one of those ski trips or hiking up in the mountains. The isolation aspect of the season has been used several times throughout the years to varying degrees in films. Most recently, Adam Green directed Frozen, a tension-filled flick that had moviegoers fainting and the ski industry fuming over the idea of being stuck alone in the mountains of a ski resort. Flash-forward to today, where writer/director Andrew Hyatt’s feature-length debut The Frozen is set to hit VOD and DVD on December 18th. While it doesn’t involve being stranded on a ski lift, the film attempts to tap into that same sense of isolation.
The story goes that Mike (Seth David Mitchel) and Emma (Brit Morgan) have hit a rough patch in their relationship. As a solution, the duo head off to the mountains for a winter camping trip. Unfortunately, after setting up camp and while cruising around the mountain, Mike hits…something…which leads to them crashing and becoming stranded. To make matters worse, the couple soon find themselves being tracked by a mysterious hunter (Noah Segan). Not long after, Mike goes missing, leaving Emma alone in the wilderness. READ MORE
Reviewed by Michael Erb
Dust Up is hard to describe without making it sound overloaded and uneven. It is overloaded and uneven, but it’s also a fun and extremely different film from writer/director Ward Roberts. It’s a exploitation neo-western with a streak of offbeat and dark humor. It plays like a live action Saturday morning cartoon that Hunter S. Thompson and John Carpenter produced. The main characters are a modernized Lone Ranger and Tonto dealing with identity issues. All these elements come together well and for the most part work at creating a fresh experience.
After stylish opening credits, the story jumps right into the boringly serene life of our protagonist. Former soldier turned handyman Jack (Aaron Gaffey) and his hipster Native American neighbor Moe (Devin Barry) get involved in a local crack head’s money troubles when Jack takes a liking to the addict’s beleaguered wife and baby momma Ella (Amber Benson). The group runs afoul of the resident loan shark/cannibal cult leader/entrepreneur Buzz (Jeremiah Birkett) when they try to help pay off the debt. What follows is a dark and twisted last stand as Jack, Moe, and Ella fight for their lives against Buzz and his junkie thralls.
The first thing you notice about Dust Up is that it’s got style oozing out like a gaping wound. The story and the characters are bizarre which helps to sell the absurd humor that runs through the film. The score and soundtrack have everything from western riffs to dance-hall electronica. It’s full of odd sounds and genres thrown together to make a thoroughly unique listening experience. The music of Dust Up is easily the most enjoyable part of the movie.
The visuals also carry a great deal of artistic flair. Characters are dressed distinctively and in ways that highlight their important traits. Moe has some traditional Native American clothing personalized with some Michael Cera worthy sweatbands and tube socks. Buzz looks like he wears whatever he found at the last rave he attended. It helps make each character truly distinct and memorable.
The action is well staged and looks quite fine for an indie picture. The choreography and cinematography manage to pull off some cool shots that elevate the obligatory fight scenes. The chase scenes suffer from one too many over the shoulder shots, occasionally making the scene unnecessarily confusing. The gore looks excellent in the instances it’s used and adds a lot of shock value to those moments.
There are a fair number of things that keep Dust Up from being a great movie. Not all the humor hits and some scenes just feel like they were included because of a dare. The best example of this is when Buzz strangles someone while ejaculating on the victim’s face. It really depends on your sense of humor, but that scene plays decidedly serious and it feels so very unnecessary.
The cast is pretty capable at conveying the mix of action, horror, and silliness. The standout performances come from Devin Barry and Jeremiah Birkett. Barry plays Moe with an unflappable smugness and confidence that you can’t help but love. Birkett goes so over the top with Buzz that he starts looking and sounding like a cartoon antagonist.
Dust Up tires to do a lot of things all at once and be a very different kind of movie. It doesn’t succeed at doing everything well, but it does make for an interestingly oddball film.
Visually the movie looks quite good for a DVD. The DSLR cinematography picks up a lot of light and makes some the more audacious aesthetic choices pop with brilliant color. Audio-wise there are a few issues. The audio mix for Dust Up favors the music over the dialogue often enough to become annoying. While the DVD’s 5.1 surround sound makes you appreciate just how eclectic and infectious the soundtrack is, you’ll have to crank the volume every time characters start talking.
This disc comes with a ton of bonus materials. There’s a series of PSA with Amber Benson dealing with a number of topics including drug use, the disabled, and cannibalism. They’re of varying degrees of funny, but never hilarious. There are featurettes on the additional dialogue recording (or ADR) sessions and one of the band Spindrift scoring the film. The cinematographer provided her own personal view on each scene to make up a gag reel. Actor Travis Betz filmed a video diary that serves as a behind the scenes feature as well. There’s even a short extra on the pony that was supposed to be a part of the film’s finale. All these things are varying degrees of insightful and interesting, but it helps that there’s just so many extras. Additionally, the disc comes with trailers and a photo gallery.
Reviewed by Michael Erb
There is so much that’s fundamentally wrong with Creep Van. It could be that the filmmakers never had the budget or had a chokingly tight production schedule. Perhaps those behind it had a little too much confidence in this slapdash script about a killer in a creeper van. In the end it doesn’t really matter because none of those reasons can fully explain just why and how Creep Van is so awful.
The story follows Campbell as he struggles to find work in the Detroit area. Campbell doesn’t have a car and takes the bus everywhere, which takes a toll on his spirit and his work. When he gets a job at a carwash, Campbell starts searching the classified section for a ride. He finds a listing for this clunker of van and calls the owner. The van’s current driver doesn’t immediately return the call because he’s busy killing people. Prospective buyers, strangers at the beach, and even talk hitchhikers all meet their gruesome ends inside this trap laden crap box. While Campbell starts wooing a coworker and adjusting to a car-less life, the killer decides it’s time to show Campbell what this van can do.
The story goes nowhere and is ultimately pointless. Characters have no arc whatsoever and act without any purpose. The killer has no discernible motivation and appears to chase Campbell because he didn’t buy the van. What constitutes the plot bears no semblance of story structure. There’s a beginning and an end, but the stuff that happens in between doesn’t advance the story. The movie seemingly exists for the express purpose of showing naked women and gory kills. There’s nothing wrong with that, but somehow Creep Van turns both of these time honored horror movie traditions into joyless schlock.
The makeup and practical effects come from Almost Human, the same company that did effects for The Crazies remake and a multitude of other films. They really are a great company for makeup and prosthetic effects and in Creep Van, the gore looks pretty good and is the best part of the movie. It’s not the company’s greatest work, but the effects in this movie are the most competent thing about it.
Technically, the production is pretty amateurish. The lighting is atrocious, with night shots having almost no light sources on the actors and the action of the scene. Whatever tension and horror that could have come from the night scenes disappears a slight distance from the area effect of the bulb. You can still keep the dark mystique of the night while suitably lighting a man getting stabbed in the neck with a car antenna, but for some reason the technique eludes these filmmakers. The cinematography is lacking at best and incompetent at worst. Simple things like properly framing a shot seem like untenable goals for the camera team of Creep Van. There are murders that occur onscreen that cannot be seen because of a big shadow or a poorly placed camera.
The cast is composed of some well-meaning but ultimately bad actors. Nobody is really capable of showing any emotion, not even terror. Every attempt at humor falls flat partially because of the casts lifeless delivery. Lead Brian Kolodzie, while handsome and toned, can’t do more than say the lines and shuffle through the scene. There’s a serious problem when Lloyd Kaufman shows more range in his brief cameo than the rest of the cast does for the 85 minute runtime.
Creep Van tries to be a gnarly little slasher but can’t overcome its complete lack of talent. The movie is deeply flawed in nearly every aspect of the production. Like every other rusted out 70′s van still floating around today, this thing’s a lemon.
The visuals are nothing special and the audio is not much better. The disc comes with two sound setup options if you want to optimize the experience.
The DVD comes with an audio commentary track from co-writer/director Scott McKinlay and co-writer/producer Jim Bartoo. There’s a making of video that’s really more of an interview with McKinlay, who appears to be a passionate and driven filmmaker despite his movie. There’s a true making of segment that focuses purely on the scene where the titular van crashes through a home and kills a couple mid coitus. While not the best edited segment, this one actually shares some good insights into how to shoot such a scene. The interviews with the actors are pointless and short. There’s a deleted scene between Campbell and Amy that adds nothing to a movie that had nothing to begin with. The disc also includes the trailer and the investor trailer that was used to net funding.
You want to know what’s more exciting than E3, Tokyo Game Show, PAX, the VGAs, your birthday, and Christmas combined? The FEAR Awards, that’s what. Okay, fine, that might be overdoing it a bit, but this is still pretty exciting. Here’s where you get to vote on the best and worst games of the year, and more than that, here you even get to help nominate your favorite games and choose the categories they’re nominated for. How many awards let you do that? And even if you could name a site that lets you do that, do their awards have a spine-chilling name like the FEAR Awards? No way. You want to know why? Because it’s just too scary.
Here at Bloody Disgusting, we embrace scary. Did you see our logo? Yeah, that’s a skull with a fucking saw in it. If you want to be like us and take fear by the horns so you can ride it off into the sunset like a horseman (or horsewoman) of the apocalypse, you should keep up to date on this year’s goings on after the break. This will be our official FEAR Awards hub, so bookmark it, because I’ll be updating it as it happens.