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Monday, August 21, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 21st, 1981

On this day in horror history.... a genre film, in a genre that I've never been able to get behind, 'An American Werewolf in London' is released. I know this is a classic and a movie that's been talked about and studied for decades now, but I can honestly say that I've never seen it. At some point, I'll get around to it, but until then.... I respect it for what it is: A classic that's beloved by millions.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 20th, 1890

On this day in horror history.... an author full of madness and mayhem, H.P. Lovecraft, is born. One of the most prolific horror writers of all time, he created a mythos that seems to be eternal. Using only a pen and his imagination, he gave birth to the great old one, Cthulhu, and the rest was history.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 19th, 2005

On this day in horror history.... a fun, little sleeper called 'Dead and Breakfast' is released. It may not be the greatest horror film ever made, but it was a good time, none the less. Enjoyable, funny and charming in its own way. If you've never seen it, you really should.

Friday, August 18, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 18th, 1933

On this day in horror history.... a director, who's proven to be a terrible human being in real life, Roman Polanski is born. Despite his illegal activities, the man brought some interesting horror entries into the genre. Specifically, one of the undisputed classics, 'Rosemary's Baby'. The definition of a "slow burn" horror, this film oozes style. Granted, we never really good look at the terror of the title character, but you don't need too. Mr. Polanski lets your mind do things that are far worse than any creature he could have depicted.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 16th, 1956

On this day in horror history.... a man known primarily for his role as 'Dracula', Bela Lugosi passes away. A horror legend and the man who created the image that is forever burned into brains, of what a vampire is. He, sadly, faded into obscurity and drug abuse, before attempting to clean up his act and make a comeback. Even Ed Wood's good intentions and attempts to revive the former star, never brought him back to his former glory. RIP Bela.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 15th, 1986

On this day in horror history.... David Cronenberg's remake of the Vincent Price classic, 'The Fly', is released. This time, with Jeff Goldblum in the lead, we meet the "BrundleFly". A grotesque example of body horror, complete with the very memorable doughnut vomit sequence. Mr. Cronenberg once again proved why he's one of the most iconic directors alive today. Watch at your own risk!

Monday, August 14, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 14th, 1975

On this day in horror history.... the midnight, audience participation classic, 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' is released. A film that has always confused me, as to why it's so popular. Despite having seen it several times, I still don't get the appeal. To each, their own, I guess.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 13th, 1982

On this day in horror history.... the third installment in the 'Friday the 13th' franchise is released. One of the best known 3D films of the 80's, Jason was back and leaping off the screen! My favorite in the series and the first time Jason wore his trademarked hockey mask. It may not be a masterpiece of modern film making, but it's a fun slasher, that always hits my horror sweet spot.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 12th, 1941

On this day in horror history.... an oddity of a horror film, 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is released. Featuring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner.... I've never seen this one, but I can only imagine it falls in line with the 90's take on horror, but in the 40's. At some point I'll need to see it, but for now it's simply another chapter in our bright and colorful horror history.

my thoughts on.... 'The Ice Cream Truck'

As with all of my reviews of films for The Creepercast, I fully recommend that you check each and every one of them out. I am one man and this is my opinion. I've seen plenty of movies that received reviews that were the complete opposite of how I saw the film. These writers, directors, producers and actors all put a lot of time and love into these projects. They deserve to be seen and appreciated for what they are. Everyone has a dream and I fully support the people that take the time to make theirs a reality. With that being said....

We all know that living in the suburbs isn't always the idyllic Norman Rockwell painting that it appears to be. We've seen countless movies that have proven that the “normal” life, isn't always that normal under the surface. Hell, David Lynch, cornered the market on weird tales of suburbia and the dark underbelly that no one ever wants to talk about. Maybe his tales were a bit more fantastic fantasy, than reality, but the foundation was based on real life. It stems from the fish out of water feeling that we all get, when we move into unfamiliar territory. Marry that with the seedy stories that seem to leak out, over the years, as small town residents move into the city and begin to unburden themselves of their old baggage. More and more, the 1950's, black and white televised lifestyle has been proven to be nothing more than a screenwriters fantasy. Something that lives only in reruns and romanticized memories of days long gone. In Megan Reels Johnston's 2nd directorial and screenwriting outing, she's attempting to re-tell the tale from her perspective. New neighbors, the gossip fiend next door, trouble making kids and a killer ice cream man that seems to be anachronistic? We've all seen it before.... or have we?

In this modern day fairy tale, Mary (played by the very charismatic Deanna Russo) moves back to her old hometown. Opting to take her family and place them into a small town suburban setting, she comes ahead of them, in order to start setting up. Meanwhile, her husband and 2 children stay behind to finish out things back home, before coming out to join her. During her first day there, she meets the neighbors and is quickly invited to a graduation party for one of the local boys, Max (played by John Redlinger). After being harassed by the mover (played by the amazing Jeff Daniel Phillips), she begins to almost feel like she may have made the wrong decision to move. During the course of that same first day, Mary notices an old school ice cream truck, cruising the streets and providing the local residents with sweet dairy treats. It looks like a vehicle out of another time and place. After a very bizarre encounter with the neighbors at the party, Mary continues to get an uneasy feeling about her new surroundings. Things begin to spiral down into a bizarre string of occurrences, which make her question her own sanity as the quiet life she'd dreamed of, may be shrouded in murder and madness.

I'm not sure where to begin with this review and I'm not sure how much to really give away about the story? There's so many positives going on, but there are also so many negatives. First of all, I should really give some kudos to Michael Boateng for his rather effective and well done scoring of this film. It has a very old school feel to it and it underlines the story, as it slowly unfolds. I think I understand what Megan Reels Johnston was attempting to do with this film, but I feel that it really fell short of the mark she was aiming for. Despite having a really excellent cast, who provided some great performances, this film felt like so many student produced movies from when I was in film school. Lots of eagerness to tell a story and a strong desire to buck the Hollywood system, but not enough story telling experience to maintain the core concepts they were trying to convey. The film, itself, starts out very strong and maintained my interest through out. However, it felt like a ride on a horse and buggy, in so much that it was incredibly uneven and had a lot of bumps that took you out of the story. It also failed to provide adequate motivation for the two main “villains” in the story and what was really going on with either of them. The main characters provided the basis of a made for TV movie about strange things going on in a small town, but with a bit more blood. There was a lot of potential here for something really great. It just suffered too much from a desire to be weird for the sake of trying to make the audience think that the movie had more meaning and depth to it, than it actually did. A lot of unanswered questions and a twist ending that felt unsatisfying and as though she didn't know how to end it.

As far as horror films go, this was anything but scary. I don't think that was her intention though. As far as psychological thrillers go, this wasn't intelligent enough to be anything to be remembered. I will give the director credit for moving the story forward and keeping the viewers interest. I legitimately wanted to see how it ended and was intrigued with the overall story development. For me, the credit goes more to the cast and specifically the leading lady, Deanna Russo. She held the entire story together and the chemistry between her and John Redlinger, was undeniable. Beyond that, I don't think this is anything I would recommend to friends or family. The ambiguous ending aside, The Ice Cream Man (played by Emil Johnsen) was confusing and Jeff Daniel Phillips character, was almost too tacked on to be worth mention. He did the best with what he had, but left me feeling like he was short changed in the whole deal. I would give this 3 out of 5 stars, in terms of the film making/cinematography/ and acting, but 2 out of 5 stars for the poor story telling and terrible ending. Therefore, we're going to call this a 2 and a ½ star film, at best. 'The Ice Cream Truck' is a muddled mess of a movie, that had all the ear marks of a sleeper classic, that suffered from too many good ideas gone bad. I only hope that the cast and crew, along with the writer/director, keep working towards another project. This time, I hope that they fully flush out a story and that has a solid first, second and third act. No more incomplete endings and giant question marks at the end. If they can accomplish that, then I think we'll have something really unique to talk about.

'The Ice Cream Truck' will be released in theaters and on VOD August 18. (This just became available to stream on Amazon Prime on August 11th)

If you'd rather see some other, better, suburban nightmares, then check out: 'Blue Velvet', 'The Stepfather' (1987) and 'The House of the Devil'

Friday, August 11, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 11th, 1980

On this day in horror history.... Italian horror maestro, Lucio Fulci, releases one of his "masterpieces".... 'City of the Living Dead' aka 'The Gates of Hell'. Probably my earliest exposure to zombie films, this is not a film I enjoy. I've seen it only a couple of times and it never gets any better. Slow, uneventful and down right bad. The only thing I remember about it, is the horrific guts vomiting sequence. Avoid this one.

A Terror Time Out featuring 'The Battery'

Proof that you don't need a huge budget, to make a masterpiece of zombie cinema.
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 9th, 2005

On this day in horror history.... Matthew McGrory dies. A giant man, who was taken too soon, Mr. McGrory is best known in the horror world as Tiny Firefly. A favorite of Rob Zombie, he will forever live on in celluloid.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 6th, 1970

On this day in horror history.... a writer/producer/director with one of the most up and down histories in cinema: M. Night Shyamalan is born. Known for 'The Sixth Sense', 'Split', 'The Visit' and 'Wayward Pines'. Mr. Shyamalan seems to have a never ending supply of ideas, but if they're good or not is up to interpretation. I'm a fan, but even I'll admit, that not all of his creations have been winners.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 5th, 1998

On this day in horror history.... one of the prime examples of 90's cash and grab horror, 'Halloween H20: 20 Years Later' is released. Featuring one of the worst mask designs for Michael Myers and a truncated run time, this installment is incredibly forgettable. With a cast of young, up and comers and a last gasp for Jamie Lee Curtis, this has moments of decency.... but overall, is a waste of film.

my thoughts on.... 'Here Alone'

As with all of my reviews of films for The Creepercast, I fully recommend that you check each and every one of them out. I am one man and this is my opinion. I've seen plenty of movies that received reviews that were the complete opposite of how I saw the film. These writers, directors, producers and actors all put a lot of time and love into these projects. They deserve to be seen and appreciated for what they are. Everyone has a dream and I fully support the people that take the time to make theirs a reality. With that being said....

When zombie films began to gain popularity, another smaller genre emerged along side it. The plague/virus film. Far too often it's lumped in and looked at as a zombie film, but it's not. They may be mindless killers with many similarities to zombies, but they are not the undead. They can be killed, just like any other human being. It's easy to confuse the two, as the word zombie implies that it's a person acting on impulse without the use of logical thought. Pure instinct. However, a virus or plague can be cured and being dead, cannot. The most commonly mislabeled film in this genre is Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later'. A masterpiece in it's own right and the gold standard for what these films should be. There have been many imitators and even contenders who've created some pretty amazing stand alone films, but it's hard to top something that's near pitch perfect. Now, something that these films tend to shy away from is the slow boil method of storytelling. Many of them are very kinetic and fast moving, just like the infected that seek to kill the uninfected. The zombie genre has birthed many films that have little to no action in them, that rely more on character development, than raw kill counts. 'The Walking Dead' television series is a prime example. It's as much, or more, about the people that live in the post apocalypse, than the undead that inhabit the world along side them. Then, 'Here Alone' was made. A 2016 film directed by Rod Blackhurst and written by David Ebeltoft. They took the two concepts of fast paced virus films and merged it with the slow boil zombie film. The result proved to be one of the most interesting and well done films of this year, so far. I had no idea what was in for, when I started watching it last night, other than fellow Creepercast writer William S Mayfield's glowing review. This is not your grandmother's virus film.

The story begins with a wide and nearly silent shot of a beautiful forest landscape. As we slowly ease our way into the shot, we meet Ann. She's a lone woman, who's clearly been on her own for a while. Living off of the land and just barely surviving. As the story progresses, we get glimpses into what happened up to this point. She was married, with a baby and on the move after an outbreak caused normal people to become violent killers. Her husband had taken them out into the forest where he had grown up, to find safety and a place to hide, until the world went back to normal. During the course of this time, she had somehow ended up being on her own. On one of her trips back from foraging for supplies, she comes across a man named Chris, who's been injured and his stepdaughter, Olivia. She hesitantly takes them in and helps Chris with his wounds and offers them food and shelter for a while. Before long, a friendship is forged, as Ann is no longer alone. But the longer they stay together, the more we realize that perhaps this wasn't meant to be. That's all you'll get from me, in terms of the plot. The rest is something that you have to see play out on your own.

'Here Alone' uses the plot device of telling the story behind the story, as the movie is continually moving forward. So at certain points within the tale, we get establishing scenes that tell us how Ann got to the place she ended up and what happened to her family. It's a brilliant way to have us learn about who she is, as we feel like we already know her, but there's more behind why she is the way she is and why she does the things the way she does. We never get that with Chris and Olivia, but their story is, instead, told through exposition. Rod Blackhurst has a fantastic way of handling this type of film, without relying on big set pieces, fancy make up effects and large crowds of the infected. Instead, we only get sound cues and the occasional view of the things that lurk in the shadows. In fact, we don't even see one of the creatures, until almost the third act of the film. Instead, we hear the terrifying screams of them in the wind and it's almost more frightening imagining what's out of sight, then the immediate jump scares of most of the films in this genre. He also makes good use of sound and the films score, to build tension and set the tone. David Ebeltoft's script, is intelligent and he creates believable characters that react in ways that any normal person would react, given the situations he puts them into. There's no superhuman acts of heroism or unbelievable marksmanship. Everyone is just as human as any of of us. Full of doubts, fear and the basic need to survive. The cast should also be noted, for their understated performances. Adam David Thomson (Chris), Gina Piersanti (Olivia) and Lucy Walters (Ann) are all perfectly cast in their roles. Each one of the embodying that person and breathing life into what was merely words on a page. The result of all of the cast and crews efforts, is a film that takes this subgenre into a different place than it's really gone before. You feel as though this is something that could happen and that these are people you know and could relate too. The story, itself, may not be entirely new or original, but that's really hard to do with such a specific genre. With that being said, you can't deny that they've created something unique. Even more so, considering that the entire film takes place in an enclosed area. No trips across country or even a move from one city to the next. This is all happening in the space of about a half a mile or less.

Obviously, I'm a fan of this film. It's such a simple story, that anyone could make it and all the elements could be there. What makes this different, is that everyone that was involved in making 'Here Alone', was hell bent on creating something more than just another virus film. They wanted to make something that stood out. In my opinion, they succeeded. This has already earned another one of the coveted spots on my 'Top 13 Horror Films of 2017'. As to where it lies on that list, remains to be seen. There is still quite a bit of time left in the year, for other films to come out and potentially move it down the list. I do know that it will be on there somewhere, as zombie films and virus films are my horror film sweet spot. I have an undying love for movies like this and anyone that knows me, knows that this is my bread and butter. I've seen so many different takes on this same story, that when I find one that makes it all feel new again, I tend to fall in love and fall hard. In this day and age, they've become almost passe with the general viewing public and so much a part of our collective pop culture subconscious, that people overlook them as nothing more that bubble gum viewing. What they don't always realize is that these are metaphors for so many aspects of our daily lives. Not unlike the children's stories that are passed down from one generation to another, these tales tell us about who we are. Not only as human beings, but as a society. It also doesn't hurt that there's a certain primal fear that comes from the idea that we are no longer the highest up on the food chain and that at any moment, we could be over come by a large enough number of these creatures. Either by becoming infected or by being devoured by them. It's a thought that, to be quite honest, freaks me out.... and I love every minute of it! This is a 4 out of 5 star entry into the ever growing library that is the virus/plague genre. A film that is not too be missed and one that anyone who is a fan, like me, needs to see. I promise you that you won't regret it.

If you enjoy this film, you should also check out: '28 Days Later', 'The Battery' and 'The Dead'

Friday, August 4, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 4th, 1932

On this day in horror history.... an unappreciated horror classic featuring Bela Lugosi, 'White Zombie', is released! A film that deserves a wider audience. It's starting to gain more recognition, as the years go by, but long before then.... Mr. Rob Zombie knew what a classic it was, as he named his band after it. A little extra 'Horror History' for you!

A Terror Time Out featuring 'Blair Witch' (2016)

For anyone that thinks reboots or sequels are not worthwhile, this is the example to prove that theory wrong.
4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 3, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 3rd, 1978

On this day in horror history.... Roger Corman unleashed another of his low budget masterpieces, 'Piranha'! A film that takes what 'Jaws' did for the ocean and brings it to the lake.... but not quite as effective. If you've never seen this one, it's something to add to your bucket list, maybe?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 2nd, 1939

On this day in horror history.... one of the modern masters of horror cinema, Wes Craven, was born. Creator of countless horror classics like: 'The Last House on the Left', 'The Hills Have Eyes', 'Swamp Thing', 'Scream' and 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'. Sadly, the world lost a legend in 2015. Happy Birthday Wes. We miss you and your quiet charm.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 1st, 1883

On this day in horror history.... "The man of 1,000 Faces" is born, Lon Chaney Sr! Best known for his films 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', he was a master of make-up while it was still in its infancy. He pioneered so many techniques and shocked audiences worldwide. Happy Birthday to the man, the myth and the legend!