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Thursday, August 31, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 31st, 1982

On this day in horror history.... Frank Henenlotter releases one of the strangest horror films you might not have ever seen: 'Basket Case'. Featuring an incredibly strange plot and an ugly little monster in a basket named Belial. This is one that every Creep should mark off their bucket list, at some point. I can't say you'll thank me for it, but you won't ever forget it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

My review of 'The Devil's Candy' By William S. Mayfield

This movie came out of nowhere for me. Suggested by fellow Creepercast writer, Joel,  in passing. I decided to give The Devil's Candy a try.

The brain child of writer/director Sean Bean, The Devil's Candy starts off in a old house in Texas with Ray Smilie, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, as he is hearing voices and trying to block them out with the use of a flying V guitar. Quickly we learn that his parents live in the house and his mother tells him to knock it off or he's going back to the hospital. It's about that time, we learn there is a lot more wrong with him besides the "voices". Fast forward a bit and we meet the Hellman family, Jessie, Astrid amd Zooey. They are in the market for a new house and this leads them to Smilie, from the beginning of the film. Astrid is the breadwinner of the family and Jessie is an artist, but is making commissions off his work. After learning of some deaths in the house, they think it over and decide to take the property and unbeknownst to them, all that goes with it. Jessie starts to work out of the shed, that he turns into a studio, and not too long after he starts to hear things. As the story unfolds, Ray comes to the house one night wanting to see his parents, and Jessie tells him to leave because of how he was acting and the way he was acting around Zooey. Ray leaves and we learn that he too is still hearing the voices from before. The story just flows from there as Ray keeps trying to come home and Jessie is now battling his own demons. The relationship between Zooey and Jessie becomes strained, as he is spending more and more time in his studio and forgetting things like to pick her up from school.

Also, on a side note, all of the actors in this movie did a outstanding job, but Kiara Glasco was beyond good. She nailed every line and made me believe that her fear was genuine every time she was in peril, this girl is going places. The production value of this movie was perfect. I'm not sure of the budget, but what they had, they used well. Keeping the jump scares to a bare minimum and the creep/suspense level higher, The Devil's Candy keeps you on the edge of your seat. The soundtrack isn't anything to laugh at either, using old school metal to show that not everyone listens to pop crap and some families still rock. Sean Byrne takes an old story and puts some nice twists in it and made it into a winner. Do yourself a favor and Give this gem a view. I give The Devil's Candy a solid 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 29th, 1935

On this day in horror history.... William Friedkin, the man behind the scariest film of all time: 'The Exorcist', is born. Primarily known as an action director, he stepped out of his comfort zone and made something unforgettable. Happy Birthday! I promise not to pee on the carpet.

Monday, August 28, 2017

my thoughts on.... 'Hell House LLC'

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 recently found a website called http://trashfilmguru.wordpress.com. On this site, I found a fellow 'found footage' film lover, like myself. After spending the past several days perusing his reviews, I've gathered a rather healthy list of Amazon Prime and Netflix gems, that The Guru has suggested as decent viewing choices. The first of the suggested titles was 'Hell House LLC'. I'm always a little apprehensive, when taking on an hour and a half long unknown venture. When I'm handed assignments for The Creepercast, that's one thing, but when I'm flying blind, that's another. So, needless to say, I was a bit skeptical. You never know how other peoples tastes will mesh with your own. However, after viewing this 2015 horror indie, I have to think that I've found a kindred spirit.

When it comes to shaky cam cinema, you have to the ability to suspend your disbelief. Not in the same way as you do, when it's narrative horror film, but in a way that you're almost watching something that really happened. I think that's one of the reasons I love this sub genre. Ever since 1999, when 'The Blair Witch Project' made its debut, I've been chasing the red dragon ever since. There have been a few examples of masterful use of this low budget style, but more often then not, they're a bit of a let down. Where as zombie films used to be the weapon of choice, for indie film makers and low budget auteurs, found footage has replaced the undead. It's less expensive, the profit margins are a lot higher and anyone with a cell phone can become a director. All you need is some friends and a script. Sadly, that's all they feel is necessary and more often then not, they forget the fact that you need a good story and some skill. But, like any film junkie, we keep coming back for more, with the hopes that the next one will be the one that puts our hairs on end and reminds us why we love the genre in the first place. Was 'Hell House LLC' one of those films? Keep reading, to find out.

The story, is clever, in and of itself. You have a group of friends that travel from place to place, putting together yearly haunts for fun and profit. Upon arriving in this little town, they've found this run down old hotel, that's been vacant for quite a while. They begin to slowly piece together their haunted house, but strange things start happening. As the days and weeks slip by and they get closer to opening night, the frequency of the occurrences increase. Before long, the cracks begin to show in their relationships, as they become divided as to whether or not to continue. However, they make it to opening night and that may just be the last night they ever have on this earth.

Presented in a documentary style of film, writer/director Stephen Cognetti, uses this as a way to tell his story. Intermingling mock interviews with various experts and involved parties, along with footage from the friends who were constructing the haunt and patrons who were there on opening night. It proves to be a very effective way of telling this story. It puts the viewer in a much better frame of mind, in which to lose themselves in the story and not question the reality of what they're seeing. He also uses the 'less is more' strategy of film making, by not showing what's really behind all of the horror that the group is being submitted too. The problem is that somewhere during the course of the film, this starts to change. Some of the reveals are quite effective, while others fall a bit flat. One example of an excellent use of showing and not just telling, is when Paul wakes up to find someone on the floor of his room. We've all experienced that moment of terror, when we think someone is there and we turn away or hide under the blankets, in the hope that it'll all just prove to be a trick of the mind. But in this film, it's all too real and quite frightening. If that would have been then extent of it, I would have been happy, but there are more instances of this. Sadly, they prove to become more of a detractor, than a positive. My other issue with this film, is the ending. I could see it coming a mile away and it was executed poorly. In my opinion, we could have ended the film about 10 minutes earlier and I would have been happy.

All in all, this film stands out as being one of the recommend viewings for those who are still fans of the genre. It may borrow a bit from it's predecessors, but imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? 'Hell House LLC' actually provides us three endings, during the course of its run time. I'm not sure that this was the best decision, as a horror fan. The less is more strategy should have continued and the piece, as a whole, would have been much stronger. Don't let that keep you from spending your time with this film. On the whole, it's a very worthwhile outing. It has genuinely frightening moments and some quality acting, from all the people involved. Mr. Cognetti clearly has a love of the craft and wants to make films that put people on edge. With more time and experience, I can see good things coming from him in the future. If you have Amazon Prime and an hour and a half to kill, this is a 3 out of 5 star film that's worthy of your time. Make sure you put on your suspension of disbelief hat, turn off all the lights and lose yourself in the story. I promise that you won't be sorry. This is one that proves the genre isn't dead and there are still good stories to tell.

If you like this kind of film, check out some of it's inspirations: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999), 'Paranormal Activity' and 'V/H/S'

Friday, August 25, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 25th, 1979

On this day in horror history.... Lucio Fulci releases his slow moving zombie masterpiece, 'Zombi 2', in the theaters. Mr. Fulci made it as an unofficial sequel to George A. Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' (1978). it may not be on par with that classic, but it's required viewing for any undead aficionado. Plus, it has a scene featuring a zombie vs a shark!

A Terror Time Out featuring 'Bite'

Words can not describe the creepy crawly goriness of this film!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On this day in horror history.... August 22nd, 1986

On this day in horror history.... a bit of a cult classic, 'Night of the Creeps' is released. A weird little slice of the horror genre, this film is just a lot of fun. Complete with a blowtorch, if you've never seen this one.... do yourself and favor and go out and see it tonight!

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.