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Monday, July 31, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 31st, 1992

On this day in horror history.... 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is released. No, not the television series, but the original 1992 film. I've only seen it once and I can honestly say that I only remember the scene with Paul Reubens. Other than that, it was kind of forgettable. I also never got into the TV show. Please don't stake me, bro!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 30th, 1999

On this day in horror history.... the landscape of horror changed. 'The Blair Witch Project' is released theatrically and blew everyone's minds. It brought about the found footage revolution and divided horror fans across the board. Did it make our scary movies better or worse? I'm in the camp, that this is one of the best horror films of all time.... but that's just my opinion.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 29th, 1987

On this day in horror history.... 'Zombi 3' is released. Whereas, Lucio Fulci's 'Zombi 2' was a bright spot in the 80's zombie film craze, the sequels it spawned are some of the worst zombie films ever. This film is no exception. Watch at your own risk!

my thoughts on.... 'Devil's Domain'

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....

Some movies, after you finish them, leave you feeling confused and uncertain what just happened.... and why? Tonight, I witnessed the movie known as, 'Devil's Domain'. As to why it was called that, I'm not entirely sure. There were so many different things going on in this film, but none of them seem to make sense. I mean, the overall story was coherent and there were some interesting and good things going on. However, in the end, I just don't know what to make of it? Was it an allegory on bullying? Was it preaching to us about the dangers of reality television? Could it have been a warning about being careful what you wish for? I'm just very unclear on the whole thing. Written and directed by Jared Cohn, a man who has a pretty healthy resume. This is not his first film and looks like it won't be his last. He's also an actor and is quite active in the film making world. The lead actress, who plays Lisa, Madi Vodane is very charismatic and enjoyable to watch on the screen. Linda Bella, who plays the “she-devil”, is pretty well cast and they both do the best with what they have. Even Michael Madsen, who seems to have fallen out of the good graces of Hollywood, was convincing in the minor role that he played. (Speaking of which, if you want to see a recent film of his that was excellent, check out 'The Lumberjack Man'. It was fantastic!) There was just some major failings that can't be overlooked.

The film tells a cautionary tale about Lisa. A high school girl, who's failed attempt at making a friendship with her best girl friend, into more of a girlfriend, winds up making her an outcast. This puts a huge target on her back, as it seems like the entire school has turned on her. When a note, looking like its written in blood, falls on her desk. She signs a death warrant on some of the people who've done her wrong. The first to go, is a girl who's 'poofed' away to a red room, where she's chainsawed to death, while being Snapchatted to the entire school. They all assume it's a hoax. Nobody ever talks about it again. Back to Lisa.... She's bulimic, unpopular and headed down a path towards suicide. When her next door neighbor shoots spy cam footage of her binging, purging and then masturbating, it spirals her out of control. After coming home from her massive public shaming, she is contemplating ending her life. While cruising Facebook, a new friend seems to appear, Destiny. This new friend quickly invites her to come and meet her. She sends a car to pick her up and Lisa winds up at a rather shady looking location, full of people who appear to be 'hangers on' of Destiny's. They have a little love making session and Destiny reveals that she's the devil in disguise. She tempts Lisa into signing a pact, that has no real clear definition of what the payment will be, just that Lisa will be famous and can get revenge on her classmates. Just prior to this, a couple more people die. Nobody says anything and they just seem to disappear. Things go from bad to worse, as Lisa soon realizes that this is not just a game, but a real life deal with Satan, that has real consequences. (None of which include the mentioning of any of the multiple high school students being horribly murdered by the devil.) It all ends, eventually, with the truth of the deal coming out.... she's to have the son of Satan and bring about the end of the world? What's a girl to do?

'Devil's Domain' is a mess of a film. Outside of the enjoyable performance of the lead and some solid practical effects, the rest of what transpires is not very good. I legitimately can't tell you what the purpose of this film is? It's very simple in it's execution and story line. It almost feels like it's trying to be a modern, younger take on 'Rosemary's Baby', but in a more direct and violent kind of way. Sadly, it doesn't have any of the cache or suspense that Roman Polanski's film did. There's also some major issues in the plot and it doesn't feel very satisfying when it's over. Like when you eat an entire bag of chips and dip. It may have been kind of fun here and there, but you end up on the couch feeling like you made a huge mistake that you can't take back. I also, seriously, feel like Jared Cohn was trying to make something with a deeper meaning behind it, but a good idea isn't enough to carry a film if you can't flesh out the script enough to make it make sense to the viewer. I, also, kept waiting for something to happen with all of the deaths in the film. Like maybe the police would come to suspect Lisa being behind them or that it would somehow be blamed on one of her bullies. Instead, that piece of the film is just swept under the carpet with no explanation. Like the deaths of the bad people didn't matter and there were no repercussions for them. Maybe the devil can just make it all just go away, like it never happened, but then you need to explain that to the audience. Perhaps I'm just grasping at straws and picking apart the movie too much, however, I want to leave a movie with something more than an empty pit in my stomach.

If I was to say something positive about 'Devil's Domain', it would be that it serves as a good palate cleanser. I can honestly say that whatever the next film is that I watch, it will seem good in comparison to this. I'm not a film maker and don't claim to be one. I'm not a frustrated screenwriter and I'm just giving my opinion on what I saw, but I've seen enough horror films in my day and read enough books about them, that I know what makes a good film. I respect Jared for setting out to make something that he wanted to make, but that doesn't make it good. This is barely a 2 out of 5 star film and that is solely based on the leads and the special effects. Even the music, which is made up of quite a few larger named artists, isn't utilized in a way that moves the film forward. Not too mention the horribly out of place use of Onyx's song 'Slam'. What teenager in 2016 has any clue about that song or would want to hear it played at their house party? I even saw Sticky Fingaz name being boasted about being in the cast. If he's got a role in this film, even if it's just at the party, he's so well hidden that I didn't even see him. There are so many other great independent horror films out there, that you can spend your time on. I can't recommend this as being one of them. Only watch this, if you want to see if you can determine the purpose of it being made.

This film is now available to rent on VOD, with a Blu-ray release set for July 17.

If you want to see a similar story, done better. Check out: 'Rosemary's Baby' or read the Bible

Friday, July 28, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 28th, 1989

On this day in horror history.... Jason finally took a vacation, as he headed to the Big Apple! 'Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan' is released in theaters! Not the weakest link in the franchise, it still suffered from massive budgetary constraints that left us all feeling a bit let down. None the less, it's worth a watch!

A Terror Time Out featuring 'The Cabin in the Woods'

If you think you've seen everything, then you've never seen this.
4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 27, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 27th, 1979

On this day in horror history.... we were all told to 'GET OUT'! (and see 'The Amityville Horror') A film based on the bogus account of a haunting, but still a very effective horror film. At least it was. After re-watching it last year, I realized how dated it was. A pig in the window is not scary. Today is its original release date!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My review of Wynonna Earp Season 1 By William S. Mayfield

I have toyed with watching Wynonna Earp for awhile but didn't want to get into another show but at some point I finally pulled the trigger (pun intended) and I'm so glad I did.

Wynonna Earp is the story of the great, great, great granddaughter of the legendary Wyatt Earp. Apparently, back in the day, Wyatt did more than hunt traditional bad guys. In this world demons are called revenants and ol Wyatt got into some trouble and got a curse put on his family. Fast forward to modern day and enter Wynonna. She's a direct descendant of Earp blood so she also is cursed. Armed with Wyatt's colt she defends her land, sister, and the town of Purgatory from the revenants that are trapped in area, also known as the Ghost River Triangle.

Wynonna is played by the lovely, sexy, and funny as hell Melanie Scrofano. She plays her to top and more, worthy to be up there with other famous women of fantasy and sci-fi like Buffy and Star Buck. Dominique Provost-Chalkley plays Waverly, Wynonna’s younger sister. Shamier Anderson plays Xavier Dolls, a officer of the mysterious Black Badge division, whom may or may not be a friend. Finally our team is rounded off with Tim Rozen who plays the iconic Doc Holiday, how that happens you will just have to watch.

The show is simply amazing. Brilliant writing and incredible talent with the cast makes for a wonderful show that keeps true to the genre. If you are a fan of the supernatural and sci-fi please do yourself a favor and check this show out.

I give Wynonna Earp Season 1 a solid 10 out of 10. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 25th, 1973

On this day in horror history.... a man who knows how to get lost in the woods, Michael C Williams is born. Co-starring in the film that made found footage a genre, 'The Blair Witch Project', Michael hasn't done much since then. Regardless of his filmography being a little light, he still made a mark. Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 24, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 24th, 1942

On this day in horror history.... a film that has never made sense to me, as to why it's so popular.... 'Fright Night' is released. I remember seeing it, when I was in 8th grade, on a date. I didn't see it again, until about 2 years ago. (and the reboot) I'm still not a fan, but I know a lot of you love it, so here you go!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

my thoughts on.... 'The Void'

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....

Sometimes you see something. You don't know what the hell it is or what was going on the entire time, but you still enjoyed it. That's how I would describe the experience I just had called, 'The Void'. It was a visual feast for the eyes and a creature features lovers wet dream. Now, I've never put myself in the category of creature feature lover, but I can't deny a certain affinity for films like 'Splinter'. This one, however, was in a different category. Much more akin to something like 'Hellraiser' and 'Baskin' than anything else. Mix in some elements of 'The Sacrament' (minus the found footage angle) and a bit of Cronenbergian body horror and you get a general idea as to what you're in for. As you can tell, the film defies a genre classification, which is a good thing. Far too often, as a lover and reviewer of horror movies, you tend to see the same things repeated over and over. It can make you jaded and apprehensive in undertaking yet another film. However, the love of the genre, keeps you coming back for more. Hoping that with each journey you take, that the next one might be the next modern masterpiece. I don't know that I'd put 'The Void' into that category, but it certainly stands head and shoulders above the majority of what's out there these days. Something that we don't see very often: bold, unflinching, non-CGI based horror, that isn't afraid to take risks. There was so much going on, that I can't really single out any one thing to talk about. Yet, there was such a simple story line that it's almost stupid at how it begins and ends within a 12 hour period. (I assume) If you haven't had the chance to witness this modern day throwback, then do yourself a favor and go watch this now. I'll wait. But be warned, if you have a tendency to get queasy, this may not be the one for you.

As I just stated, the story is fairly simple. A police officer (played by Aaron Poole) finds a man by the side of the road. Realizing he may be injured, he takes him to the nearest hospital. Upon arrival, we see that this particular one is rather run down and abandoned, after a fire had occurred. With only two other patients, including a pregnant girl and her father, the skeleton crew of a staff begin to assess the situation. When one of the nurses murders the only other patient, the police officer tries to stop her. After she removes her face and is shot, we soon realize there may be more going on than we originally thought. The police officer is soon joined by another law man. He goes out to his car to radio in what's happened and is attacked by a hooded figure with a hunting knife. He runs back inside and everyone realizes that the entire hospital has been surrounded by these hooded figures. The dead nurse then is reborn as some kind of hell creature and the trapped survivors are joined by two men, who seem to know what's been going on. They also realize that the figures aren't trying to come in, they're trying to keep them from going out. Everything quickly spirals out of control, as what started as an evening of chaos, decends into a hellish nightmare, that they may not wake up from.

Written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, the duo behind 2011's 'Father's Day'. They've pulled elements from several of their favorite 80's genres to create a tale of ancient evil and dark creatures. John Carpenter would be proud of the creature effects, as they're on par with the special effects magic we saw in his classic, 'The Thing'. They also created incredibly memorable visuals, with the hooded figures and the transformed Dr. Powell. Not too mention that the sequences near the climax of the film and the closing shot, are some of the most impressive I've seen in a non-Hollywood based film. It makes you wonder how they achieved so much, without the aid of big budgets and big pockets. That's a credit that they should be given, as far too often, we see films that promise things that they never seem to pull off in the end. 'The Void' not only wrote several checks for large amounts, but had the audacity to cash them and pay us all back, with interest. I have had too many movies, like this, where it started out strong, but ended with a pitiful groan at the end. This started out simple and slow, but built to a fever pitch and made your jaw drop at the end. Maybe it's a bit ambiguous with what happens to our main characters and how it ends, however I don't see that as a negative. The only thing that could cheapen my feelings on this film, would be if they made a sequel. This needs to remain as a stand alone monolith to all the things we love about horror. Yes, it's that good.

I'm continuing to add more titles to my ever growing list of 'The Top 13 Horror Films of 2017' and this one just earned a spot. I don't know how it will hold up to repeat viewings, but I have a feeling that I'll just find more things in it, that I missed on the first go around. Why do I say this? Because I was simply trying to keep up with everything that was happening, as it was happening, while holding my breath. It was intense. Let's put it that way. 'The Void' earns a very strong 4 out of 5 stars and is something I would recommend to any fans of real horror. This has already made it's way onto many critics top 10 lists for the year and deserves all of the love and adoration it's been given. Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski have contributed something unique and original to the lexicon and built a world that I don't want to live in, but would enjoy visiting again. I still, even after writing this review, am trying to puzzle out all the things I saw. It was a visceral film going experience that threw me for a loop. If you have the time to sit down and watch 'The Void', do it uninterrupted and with the lights off. Turn the sound off, make sure it's dark out and finish your dinner first. This one is something that has to be seen to be believed.

If you like 'The Void', check out: 'Hellraiser', 'Splinter' and 'The Thing'

Saturday, July 22, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 22nd, 2005

On this day in horror history.... Rob Zombie's widely regarded masterpiece, 'The Devil's Rejects', is released! A road movie type sequel, to the insane directorial debut of 'House of 1000 Corpses', The Firefly family earned a permanent place at the horror table. If you've never seen this one, do yourself a favor and watch it tonight.

my thoughts on.... 'Under the Shadow'

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....

I have a soft spot for foreign films, I always have. Ever since I made a point of learning about all aspects of film and became a student of it, before I actually became a student of it. Foreign horror films, especially. My favorites, by far, have been the French imports. Granted, there is a lot of wonderfully wicked horror out there, from around the globe. But the French seem to have a 'no holds barred' kind of mentality that is only matched by that of the Japanese. They go for broke, every chance they get and make the French seem tame. However, I've never seen an Iranian horror film. So when I heard so many good things about Babak Anvari's 'Under The Shadow', I couldn't help but want to take the time to see what all the fuss was about. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. What I got was a fresh take and feel on a genre that can tend to get bogged down in the same scenarios, time and time again. It's refreshing when you can experience a new voice in your beloved genre.

The film takes place in Tehran, during the 80's. It's a war-torn time, when the overwhelming odds of being bombed or overrun, is far too common place. Shidah (played by Narges Rashidi), is the mother of a little girl, who's been recently barred from continuing her med school courses. Her husband is a doctor and is called to the front lines, to be a medic. Left alone with her daughter, Dorsa, the conflict seems to be creeping closer and closer to home. Despite being away, her husband continually urges her to get out of the city and head to a safer area. Being stubborn and not wanting to leave her home, she and Dorsa continue to stay put. The children began to tell tales that there is a Djinn that is haunting the building. After Dorsa's beloved doll goes missing, she begins to tell her mother that it's been taken. As the days go by, more and more residents of the complex begin leaving. Shidah continues to hold her ground, partially because Dorsa won't leave without her doll. Soon, it becomes all too clear that they are not alone and that the Djinn may be more than just a children's story.

While 'Under the Shadow' may be a PG-13 affair, don't let that influence your desire to see it. This film takes a rating, that tends to be the kiss of death for American horror films, and uses it to its advantage. This film is all about atmosphere and building on not only the fear of the ghost like Djinn, but that of the ever present terror of war. This whole movie relies heavily on your subconscious fears and what you don't see. There's little to no blood and very few sequences involving the creature itself. Instead, you get a sense of oncoming dread, as the pot slowly boils towards an eventual climax. When we do get a chance to witness the creature, it's done incredibly well and I've never been so frightened of something that looks like it stole my mother's curtains. At times, it's very reminiscent of something you've seen before, but at others, it can be other worldly and off putting. I was not prepared for what this film had to offer. Even though I know very little about what was going on in Tehran, at the time this film takes place, I didn't need too. Babak Anvari gives you just enough history and cultural cliff notes, that you can gleam what was going on, with little to no background being necessary. That's the mark of a good storyteller.

If you decide to under take this journey into the unknown, please be sure to use the subtitles and not the American dubbed version. I know it's a small bone to pick, but the dubbing is horrible and doesn't do the actors justice in their performances. Everyone in this film is spot on in their portrayals of the various characters that inhabit this time and place. Also, this is a very claustrophobic movie, that primarily takes place in the apartment building that Shidah and her family live in. There are a few other sets involved during the run time of the film, but the majority of it is all interior shots of the complex. That's by no means a negative thing. The sense of almost being trapped by not only the outside world, but the Djinn, makes for a very uneasy viewing experience. One that would be serviced best, by watching it late at night with the lights off, the surround sound on and the volume up. 'Under the Shadow' is everything a well crafted horror film should be. Which garners it a 4 out of 5 star rating and is something I highly recommend that you invest your time in seeing. I promise you that you haven't seen a ghost story quite like this one and where as it may be walking over grounds that you've walked over before, that doesn't matter. You'll still find something new that you've never seen before. Buy the ticket and take the ride. It's worth the price of admission.

If you like this, check out: 'The Woman in Black', 'The Grudge' and 'Paranormal Activity'

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 20th, 2002

On this day in horror history.... we were made to fear driving on an old country road. 'Jeepers Creepers' is released. Granted, Victor Salva's personal life has sullied his reputation as a human being, his films still stand as above average horror films. Spawning a franchise, The Creeper has proven to be a minor horror icon.

Aliens in Horror in Honor of 70 years since the Roswell Incident: The War of the Worlds Continue!

Over the next few weeks we will feature an alien film in honor of the 70 years that have passed since the Roswell Incident. None of them really have much to do with Roswell itself, but that shouldn't matter, alien movies are alien an important sub-genre to horror both then and now. That's why we present them to you randomly chosen, in no specific order, and in no way represents a complete list of horror aliens. If anything it is merely a smidge of what extra-terrestrial horror has to offer the alien fan. That much said, here is a list of aliens in horror to celebrate 70 years since Roswell!

Cloverfield (2008)

"As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them."

JJ Abrams presents the alien invasion through the eye of the camera held by party goers in New York. This is Godzilla from space and one of the best end of the world scenarios since Independence Day. It spawned 2 more entries into the saga that are also worth watching.

Super 8 (2011)

"In 1979 Ohio, several youngsters (Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso) are making a zombie movie with a Super-8 camera. In the midst of filming, the friends witness a horrifying train derailment and are lucky to escape with their lives. They soon discover that the catastrophe was no accident, as a series of unexplained events and disappearances soon follows. Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), the father of one of the kids, searches for the terrifying truth behind the crash."

The second JJ Abrams inspired film to make this list mixes Spielberg style story telling cloaked in X-files conspiracy. It's Goonies with aliens, inspiring and nostalgic for film makers and lovers alike.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On this day in horror history.... July 19th, 1961

On this day in horror history.... J-Horror icon and master director, Hideo Nakata is born. The man behind 'Ringu', 'Dark Water' and a ton of other stuff. He put the fear of ghost girls into the American consciousness. Often imitated, but never duplicated. お誕生日おめでとうございます

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Creepercast Classic Podcast to Remember George A Romero

In the early days of the Creepercast we began with a podcast where Jason and I would discuss a pairing of horror films and rave about how amazing or bad they were. More often than not, we would spend more time on our favorite films, film makers, and poured love and adoration on those that contributed strongly to our beloved film genre. After the recent passing of the humblest of genre pioneers, I find myself looking back on those days, and to one show in particular which featured a visit from Gary Streiner. He is the man best known as Russell Streiner's brother but also had the very important job of audio engineer and whatever else George decided he should be throughout the making of the quintessential zombie film of all time.

Obviously we were more interested in tales from the set and stories about the great Romero than whatever he was really there to discuss with us (not true! the save the chapel campaign was just as important!) and to be honest, the 60 degrees of separation from Gary to George was just as good as having George on the show. Thus, the living legend of the creative genius that called himself George A. Romero was cemented into the Creepercast lexicon forever.

Now I could go on and on about what made George Romero so important to this horror fanatic, and someday maybe I will, but in the midst of the tributes in the wake of our loss of him I don't feel right repeating others words or diminishing their celebration of his life. Instead I have dug through the Creepercast archive and found that show for you to enjoy our ramblings and revel in the tales of the man known as the father of modern zombies. With that we bid a farewell but not for long to the master of our undead nightmares. Rest in peace knowing the stories will forever be told and the myth that is the man will forever grow.

Knightriders and George A Romero by William S. Mayfield

There I was, a young teenager, wandering around the local video store. It was truly the little hole in the wall video store. Walking among the rows upon rows of box art, this one caught my eye. It was called 'Knightriders', and to this day I love that movie and that art. There was Ed Harris, sitting on a motorcycle wearing armor, as in a knight in shining armor. So, I couldn't rent this movie fast enough. I either ran or rode my beat up old Huffy back home and fired up the old VCR. I sat there in awe, just sucking in this story of a traveling renaissance festival that uses bikes instead of horses to joust. Now, after it was over, of course I noticed the name George Romero not only directed but also wrote this movie. I remember hearing his name, because you just don't be a nerd movie loner like me, in the 80’s, and not see 'Night of the Living Dead'. Well I went back to the store and rented 'Night of the Living Dead', I think I rented it that night and started down a very long path to where I am now, a fan of the genre. 'Knightriders' wasn't a horror movie, but it was connected to Romero and that was enough, and Tom Savini was also in it and he is a icon to himself. I think I have seen all of George Romero's movies, at least once, and some of them more than I can count. His love of the subject matter and his style has kept him busy for all these years. I even still own 'Knightriders' on VHS, not sure if it's the one I had rented back in the day, but it's on my shelf with honor.

George Romero was at a horror convention, in my area, a year or two ago. I wanted to go, but something came up and I either couldn't make it or maybe had to work. Either way, I really wanted to meet him in person and tell him thank you for all the entertainment and being one of the people that has inspired me to be creative, when I can. I'll never have that chance again, but I still have the memories of the first time I saw 'Knightriders' and seeing “Written and Directed by George Romero”. Thank you Mr. Romero, for all you have done for the genre over the years. Your films with be cherished and viewed for many more years, by countless more people. Rest easy good sir.