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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2006)

Those that read this blog on a regular basis will know that I love a good ghost story.  They will also know that I think that they are also one of the hardest things to transpose to the big screen...

Guy and Jeanne have moved to a small town with their two daughters in order to be close to each other while Guy works on getting approval for and construct a wind farm in Princeton.  Soon, Jeanne starts to investigate the origins of a strange voice and apparition that appears in the wood nearby.  Her investigations set off a chain of events that echo back to the disappearance of little Lucy Keyes back in the 1700's...

"The Legend of Lucy Keyes" starts off with a bang with the family being terrorized by a vengeful spirit- setting you up with certain expectations.  For me, this movie met some of these expectations, and fell just a little short of others.

The story is based on the real life mystery surrounding the disappearance of a girl named Lucy Keyes back in the 1700's.  Other than that, the rest of the movie is fiction- and we well thought out fiction too.  The premise is interesting, and offers potential for some good ghost story telling.  It's not a fast paced story, but does move along fairly well.  There are a couple of moments where it drags, but not for long.  As with most ghost stories, there is more dramatic elements than horror elements- which helped to add depth to the story.  My only complaint is that I would've liked to have seen more involving the ghost itself.

The characters were interesting, and unique, even those that were filling somewhat stereotypical roles.  Guy and Jeanne Cooley are a likeable and believable couple with depth created by the knowledge of their back story.  I came to feel for Jeanne as she tried to deal with both her fear and sympathy in relation to the ghost of Martha Keyes.  The character of Samantha Porter was interesting since she gave contradictory vibes- a nice person when she wanted to be, but hiding some serious darkness inside her.  I also really liked Jonas Dodd, the slightly unbalanced neighbour who was convinced the smell of clam bellies kept ghosts away.  His character added humour and unease to the story- I kept expecting him to up and shoot at the wall because of the ghost.  Gretchen Caswell, though filling the role of the town crazy with the warning, also showed wisdom and honest, good intentions.  All of these characters added a nice texture to the movie that I enjoyed.

The acting wasn't great- more suited for either a made for TV movie, or a direct to video movie.  I found Justin Theroux, who played Guy Cooley, rather stiff and expressionless throughout most of the movie, while Julie Delpy did a decent enough job portraying Jeanne, but didn't seem to express much in the way of emotional range.  I felt that Brooke Adams as Samantha Porter was great in the role, and did an excellent job bringing to life a character that had two sides to them.  Mark Boone, Jr. was quite fun to watch as Jonas, even if it was a little over the top at times.  The final actor of note is Jamie Donnelly, as Gretchen.  She brought an earnestness to the character that was nice and sincere.

The film is beautifully shot.  The camera work isn't complex, but the Director- John Stimpson, showed great skill in editing together long and close shots together smoothly to create a real nice atmosphere.  This is enhanced by the rural location, and the colours used throughout the movie.  The only element that fell short visually was the special effects.  You could tell the ghosts were done with special effects, as Martha Keyes' ghost didn't blend in well with the shots- though the scene in the bedroom was enjoyable.  I also would've liked to have seen a more ghostly appearance to the ghost of Lucy Keyes as well.

I also liked the music used as well- something I don't often notice in movies.

Over all, I enjoyed "The Legend of Lucy Keyes."  While I might not watch it more than once on the spur of the moment, I would recommend it to a friend, and watch it on a Ghost Movie Night.  I'm placing this movie in "The Bad".

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

In celebration of Vincent Price's birthday yesterday, I sat down and watched, "The Last Man on Earth"...

Dr. Robert Morgan lives in a world of the undead.  By day, he goes around to the various vampiric safe houses, and destroys the foul creatures.  By night, he searches for a cure to the plague that has turned humanity into the blood sucking monsters.  Soon however, Morgan learns who the real monster is...

This is one of those films that is considered to be one of Vincent Price's classics.  It's not a bad movie- but it's not a great one either.  I enjoyed it, but not enough that I would re-watch it unless it was a Vampire Movie Night.

The story is based on Richard Matheson's novel, "I Am Legend."  Even though he acknowledged it as following his story quite closely (and he helped write the sceenplay), he was dissatisfied with the end result.

It's a bit of a mixed bag.  The story is interesting, as are the characters.  There is even some decent camera work, and Vincent Price does an excellent job- though Matheson felt he was miscast.  If anything, the film is hampered by a lack of budget, and problems with production values.

There's not much I can say about, "The Last Man on Earth."  It's an... average movie, so it finds a spot in 'The Bad".

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Terror Creatures From the Grave (1965)

In my travels through the realm of horror movies old and new, foreign and domestic, I come across one that really engages my interest, and manages to entertain me from the first shot to the last.  Such was the case during this week's "What Movie Wednesday" feature...

Albert Kovac has been sent by his boss to the Hauff villa to discuss the owner's will with him.  Upon his arrival, the owner's beautiful wife reveals that he's been dead for a year.  Soon, Kovac and the owner's daughter, Corinne, are trapped in a net of horror as forces from the grave seek their vengence...

"Terror Creatures From the Grave" is a really interesting Italian horror film- originally titled, "5 Tombe Per Un Medium", and was inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.  Once production was completed, Director Massimo Pupillo was dissatisfied, and decided that Producer Ralph Zucker should take credit... even though Zucker did no directing whatsoever in the film.

Personally, I was quite pleased with the results.  The story itself is interesting, atmospheric, and has a couple of neat little twists to it that I really liked.  Watching it, you can feel the influence and inspiration that Poe had on it.  With the introduction of Albert Kovac, you're presented with a mystery- and a certain expectation of where the story was going.  As the story progresses, you're then presented with a new direction, but it's done smoothly enough that you're surprised and interested in where the story was going to go from there.  Then further into it, your presented with another new direction that builds on the first two.  At the climax, you're once again, offered yet another new element.  It kept me interested and thinking about what might be next.  It was well paced, and smooth in its transitions from one development to the next.

The story was so strong, that it was able to cover the lack of any real character development.  This isn't to say that the characters aren't interesting or even likable- because they are.  It's just that the characters don't really evolve much over the span of the story.  The one character that does get the most development is the silent servant, Kurt.  His growth of character in terms of importance was actually quite interesting and powerful- and helped to provide some of the story extra strength.

The acting was pretty good too.  Of note are Mirella Maravidi as Corinne Hauff, Barbara Steele as Cleo Hauff, and Luciano Pigozzi as Kurt.  Maravidi was simply gorgeous- her blonde hair contrasting beautifully with the raven dark hair of Steele.  She also brought a nice sweetness and purity to the character of Corinne.  Barbara Steele is well known to horror fans, and her performance in "Terror Creatures From the Grave" was quite enjoyable.  Not only was she beautiful in a dark, dangerous way, but she did a great job at portraying a distant, almost disapproving person who, when the lights are off, can be the most passionate people in the world.  The contrast between her physically attractive appearance, and her cold demeanor brought a nice feel to the character.  Pigozzi is a silent presence for most of the film, but ultimately proves to be very important to the story.  The scene of him appearing at the bottom of the stairs when he's introduced was really nice and moody.  He really shines, though, at the climax- when he breaks his silence, and reveals the final twist.  A nice, strong performance in my opinion, that really helped to solidify his role in the story.

Most of the camera work could be considered average and "standard" for the period it was filmed.  Having said this, however, there are some really good shots and sequences in "Terror Creatures From the Grave."  One of the best shots involves the approach of one of the Terror Creatures on it's prey.  Great POV shot as it closes in on the victim.  The use of shadows was excellent, and really helped to create the sort of mood that an Edgar Allan Poe story would have.  The scene where the Terror Creature hand appears out of nowhere made me jump.  The editing is good, and helped to pace the story well- switching smoothly from the calmer, character scenes to the tenser horror sequences.

I was also quite pleased with the grue in this movie.  It was very well done.  Even the weakest one involving gooey innards leaking out was nicely done.  The ones that really impressed me was a nicely gooey face shot, at the start, and the plague effects on Kurt at the climax.  The fact that it was black and white, only added to them, as the director was able to play with shadows to make them even creepier.  Loved it.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by "Terror Creatures From the Grave."  I would certainly recommend watching this movie to my friends.  I'm placing it in "The Good".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again May 30th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Terror Creatures From the Grave":

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We Are What We Eat (2012)

There are some horror short films out there that show that age is NOT a factor when it comes to skill and creativity...

Nicole is your average High School girl.  She goes to class, hangs out with her best friend, and misses her Dad when he's gone on business.  Today, she's going to find that her life is no longer... average...

Darien Davis produced this ten minute short zombie film with Sam Toller in a span of two days.  They covered a total of 220 shots, with Toller coordinating and directing the movement of 27 extras, five make-up artists, spread over six different locations.

And Toller did it all at the age of 16 years of age.  And he did it well.

When I was approached by Davis to watch and review this short film, I was VERY interested to see what someone of Toller's age would- and could, do with the project.  I have to say I was impressed.

Visually, "We Are What We Eat" displays some very impressive skill at using the medium to visually tell a story.  There are some cool angles and camera movements, all enhanced by pretty polished cutting and editing.  While, some of the closer shots of the zombie crowd DOES show mild make-up problems, the general feeling of the shots are still nicely tense, and crowded.  Toller gave a good sense of being swarmed by the zombies quite well in many of the shots- especially the Teacher's POV shot.

The story is interesting too, and I wanted to see more of it.  I really liked the non-linear nature of it.  By the end of the film, you're not sure how much was memory, and how much was dream.  I liked the characters (even the grumpy Teacher), and liked how the actors portrayed them.  I would love to see this expanded into a longer film one day.

I can see how this film would be accepted to appear at the Seattle NFFTY 2012 this past April, as well as being shown on DreadCentral.com for a ten day run.  They're also going to be shown at the 2012 Zombie Voodoo Festival this summer with appearances in four cities across the United States.

With the advent of film editing software people can use at home, and digital video cameras, anybody has the opportunity to be able to produce their own film.  Some of them, like "We Are What We Eat" rises above the average, to show that you don't HAVE to have age and technical training to produce a quality piece of cinema.  I'm placing this short film in "The Good," and I will be keeping my eyes open for more work from Sam Toller and Darien Davis.

Check out the trailer below:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Monstroid (1979)

Sometimes, you can tell exactly what a movie is like from the title.  Such was the case with this week's "What Movie Wednesday" winner, "Monstroid"...

A small Colombian town has experienced a strange series of disappearances around a lake the accepts the drain off from a plant nearby.  The plant's company send out a trouble shooter to find out what the problem is and fix it... but finds that the answer is something more deadly than just pollution...

This is going to be a short review this week, since there really isn't that much to say about this film.

It's a bad film.  Seriously.  Bad.  Just bad.  Seriously bad.  Just seriously bad.

The premise isn't bad, but everything surrounding it is bad.  The subplot of the woman accused of being a witch, the one of the eco-terrorist, and the subplot of the pant employee's relationship with the Mayor's daughter are just kinda thrown into the movie, with no real impact on the story.

Actually, I must correct myself.  The plant employee's relationship with the Mayor's daughter DOES impact on the story twice.  The first time is when he breaks up with his first girlfriend (after some lakeside nookie no less- talk about class, eh?), and she gets nommed by the monstroid.  The second is when he's supposed to be on radar duty watching for evidence of something in the lake.  He gets a little radar side nookie with the Mayor's duaghter, and misses the blip on the radar screen just before the monstroid noms on two drunk fishermen in a boat.

The woman accused of being a witch is introduced only to get burnt at the stake later, and the eco-terrorist is introduced just so he can blow himself up later.

The characters aren't all that interesting, either.  I actually wanted to see them get nommed on.  Never a good sign when a movie makes you feel that way about EVERY single character... including the smart kids and their dog.  I REALLY wanted the plant employee (who's horn dog tendencies lead to a total of three deaths) to become monstroid kibble.

Maybe if they had better dialogue and scripting, the acting might've been better... but I'm doubting that.  At least the women were good looking.

That brings us to the monstroid...

I couldn't tell if it was rubber or paper mache, it was that bad.  It looked almost like a head on a stick.  The mouth didn't move, nor did it blink.  When I saw it, I wondered why they didn't just rent the Godzilla suit from those movies- they looked sooooo much better than this Loch Ness wannabe.

I'm saying this outright: "Don't watch this film!"

I don't recommend this film.  I have NO intention of ever recommending this film.  I have NO intention of ever THINKING about this film ever again, "Monstroid" is just that "Ugly" of a film...

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again May 23th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Monstroid":

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloggity Bloggity Blog...

What do you think of when you hear that someone is a blogger... especially a HORROR blogger?

Do you envision a gloomy room lit by light filtering through the blinds as dust motes dance lazily in the dry breeze of an old fan?  Do images of a room consisting of shelves of horror DVD's, books, and collectibles come to mind?  How about a slightly disheveled shape hunched over in utter darkness tap tap tapping at a keyboard- their face lit by the cold blue glow of a computer monitor... empty pizza boxes and Twinkie wrappers scattered around their feet?

Or do you imagine an average sort of person that you'd meet on the street, and think, "Hey, he's just like me,"?  Well, that's the thing about horror bloggers- they can be ANYONE.

ANYONE... even your Grandma could be one.

Some people get a funny look on their face when I say that I write a blog about horror books and movies... a sort of, "You don't look like a gothic, Crow wannabe," look.

Me in all my facial glory...

I'm not sure WHY there's this strange perception about what a "Horror Geek" looks like.  I'm not sure WHY people think we're supposed to look like goths, or bikers, or grunge rockers, or heavy metal heads.  Seriously, I don't.

I even got asked if my "Corner of Terror" was messy... as if horror bloggers were inherently untidy and unorganized.  I was a little bothered by it.  I won't lie- I'm not a neat freak.  I don't panic if my socks miss the clothes hamper when I throw them that way.  But, I do have a clean workspace that allows me to have quick access to the resources I need in the course of my blogging duties.

The REAL "Corner of Terror"!

As you can see- it's organized.  I have the DVD box sets I use for my "What Movie Wednesday" feature, as well as some books I plan on reviewing, my monkey mug, a book on HTML (so I can tweak some of the coding for the page as it grows), and my "Night of the Living Dead Cemetery Zombie" collectible figure.  All neatly placed in convenient locations.  Note that my desktop wallpaper is even TCoT related!  Very professional like.

Of course, the photo is a little deceiving in that it doesn't show ALL of the space the desk occupies.  The desk itself is an old metal army desk (circa 1970's is my guess), and is located in a closet.

Yeah, a closet... my one concession to blogger stereotype.

I guess my point to all this is to show that just because someone is a horror geek, or a sci-fi geek (I enjoy my "Star Trek", "Planet of the Apes", and "Lost in Space"), or even a comic geek- it doesn't mean that they're really any different than anybody else.  We just happen to have a passion for these things, and want to share it by blogging about it.  So next time, you come across a "geek," don't assume they're a strange, alien species...
After all, as my Mom used to say, "Never make fun of someone for something they enjoy... for you may enjoy something they can make fun of too..."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wanna be a "TCoT" Fashionista?

You've all heard me hinting that I've been working on some T-Shirt designs, in addition to coffee mugs, etc, right?


Well, I'm still in the process of getting a few things in place to begin production and distribution- but I figured it was about time that I gave all of you a taste of what I've got in mind.

What you see here is one of the T-Shirt designs I've done.

Pretty cool, eh?

Darn straight it is!

I hope to have about a total of five finished designs ready for when the store is finalized online.  If you're in the Kamloops, BC area, I'll be letting you know which outlets have them for sale as well.

I've also got what I call the "Special Edition" Zip Hoodie.  These will be used a promotional items for interview guests- and for contests that I have in the works.  To keep you in suspense, I'm going to keep the design a secret until the first contest starts!

I know... I'm evil. Hehehe...

Please feel free to let me know what you think of the design, and stay tuned for further news regarding this and the contests!

Oh... and just so you know... that's MY hand in the artwork. LOL

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Penumbra: Overture (2007)

I enjoy immersive story-based horror games that offer something new to the genre.

Having received a letter from your deceased father, you begin a journey to find out exactly what happened to him.  What you discover may be something far worse than you imagined...

"Penumbra: Overture" is a First Person Adventure Game.  You are placed in an abandoned mine trying to unravel the story behind what happened to your father, and trying to avoid the same fate.

This game has some decent stuff to offer a gamer.  The graphics are great in my opinion, as is the audio.  Both combined to create an excellent setting and atmosphere that builds suspense and unease.  The storyline itself is pretty good too, and interesting.

One of the best things about this game is the physics.  You use the movement of your mouse to perform various actions such as opening a drawer, door, or swing whatever is in your hand to bash barrels and enemies.  You can pick up small items (like a can of food) and toss it around the room.  It helped to add a new dimension to the game.

My only complaints with this game had to do with pacing and combat.  This is a stealth game, so you have to move slowly through the tunnels, etc.  That, and the fact that you basically have to read every little piece of documentation you come across to learn the full story tends to slow things down greatly.  While there is combat to liven things up, the physics engine gets in the way.  All too often, I'd be swinging at the enemy to suddenly find myself staring at the ceiling while the enemy ripped me to pieces.  Really frustrating, to say the least.

As much as I liked the idea of the physics engine as part of the game, the snail pacing, and frustrating combat makes me place "Penumbra: Overture" in "The Ugly".

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)

Ever since science became a common place practice, the idea of mad scientists have existed- always there to serve as a warning about playing God.  And ever since movies became common place, there have been bad movies- to serve as a warning about directors playing director... and also to make us reviewers suffer at the hands of our readers...

Dr. Cortner is a very successful surgeon whit a beautiful fiancee named Jan.  While driving, and accident leads to Jan's death... and Dr. Cortner is determined to find a body for her severed head...

With a total of 13 votes, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" was declared this week's, "What Movie Wednesday" winner.  Now the question is: did I win?

Well, let's just say that I found this movie amusing because of it's B-grade quality.

The story is rather silly, and the execution is as well.  I also found the characters to be rather amusing as well because of the acting used to portray them.  Jason Evers as Dr. Bill Cortner isn't bad- he's able to make you dislike his arrogant, conceited character... a character so brazen that he even cracks a few jokes about his intentions with his potential victims.  At the same time, you kinda shake your head at how he's going about trying to gain a body for his fiancee's head- rather slapdash and unprofessionally done in my opinion.  Watching his plans get spoiled constantly was quite amusing.  Leslie Daniels as Kurt was fun to watch as he spouted soliloquies with an almost Lovecraftian art to them.  His speeches about the horror that resided in the closet made me WANT to see this unspeakable monstrosity!  Quite enjoyable and almost Shakespearean in tone.  Of course, when taken with everything else, this rather theatrical character was more chuckle inducing than fear inducing.  It had to be hard being Virginia Leith playing a head in a tray.  She had to do all her acting with her voice and her face.  I have to give her credit for doing an almost decent job of it.  Too bad I just couldn't accept that she was a head in a tray.  I also found her maniacal laughter to be a little corny... cornier than my pop corn, actually.

And then, there's the horror in the closet that Daniel's speeches built up to be some unimaginable abomination spawned from the darkest recesses of the human soul- the result of Dr. Cortner's obsessive search to be able to reanimate dead tissue.  I really wanted to see how they did the monster.  Sadly, when I did see it, I wondered if it had been the inspiration for the make-up of "Sloth" from "The Goonies."  Seriously!  It had the same shaped head, the out of place ears- even the eyes were in same general places on both of them.  At least, this monster had the decency to rip Kurt's arm off- which lead to a nice scene of Kurt smearing his blood on the walls as he stumbled from the lab.

Oh, and another sign that this is truly a B-movie?  The opening title and the closing titles are different.  In the opening title, it reads, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," while in the closing, it reads, "The Head That Wouldn't Die".

If you're looking for a B-movie with cheese in it for a night of friends, drinks and laughter, then I would definately include, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."  That's the ONLY way I'd sit through it again, though.  I'm placing it solidly in "The Bad"

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again May 16th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "The Brain That Wouldn't Die":

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Grave Questions: Jonathan Chance

Not too long ago, I watched and reviewed "The Timeslip"- a short film by the indie film group, Chance Encounters.  Jonathan chance of the Chance Brothers was kind enough to agree to answer some questions" as part of my new regular feature- "Grave Questions". 

TCoT:  What inspired you to become a film maker in the first place?

John:   First and foremost - original ideas of our own to make!  Since we were little, we were into horror and SCI-FI.  Growing up in the 80's, full of movie icon's it was an inspiring time like no other. Around 10 and 14 we saw heroes like Peter Jackson, John Carpenter, etc show what a person could accomplish with a camera and some friends. That was inspiring.  Anyone can do it nowadays - so with strong competition you have to make yours stand out.  Among the crowd I definitely feel we have something to offer.  With every film, we want to make an exciting entry.  To give that feeling you have as a kid - when you'd say 'Oh Carpenter has a new movie out!' and for people to come back and enjoy a Chance Brothers movie knowing the quality of film to expect from us, and anticipate what project we'll cook up next!  That's what I want.  Shorts are our playground; smaller scale - with features we'd be cooking with gas - stories put to screen even more incredible and innovative.
TCoTHow old were you when you realized that you could actually be a film maker, and how did that realization come to you?

JohnRichard and I were 23 and 19 when we began working on "The Veil" (it will finally get a much long awaited release shortly), that movie would span some years to make while we were holding down jobs.  From the first few scenes we shot - I feel we knew we were onto something.  This was our thing.  Although when we began, the Zombie feature film wasn't en vogue.  We just wanted to make our dark black and white low budget film.  Then it all of a sudden, two years into the project, was undergoing a new revitalization to what we all know it has become today. Somehow though, as many as there are out there now it still stands out as something of our own.  It's claustrophobic, and raw, and seems like a throwback - yet in a time of it's own.  Among so many they are trying for the cheap laugh - but ours has that spirit of the more older horror films in the hey day.

TCoTHow did you go about making "The Timeslip"?
John:  We are very honest with each other and very picky.  So we know what shots we want and go for them each shoot - and if Richard were acting, I'd push him to deliver in his performance the way I know he'd do the same for me.  Of course, I know things can be fixed in the edit bay later - but the realism to characters in our films are always key.

TCoTHow did it feel to have it shown at its first film festival?
John:  It was great to see it's premiere at the Action On Film Festival.  Unfortunately, Richard couldn't make it but I did enjoy watching it with my wife.  Then doing a Q and A afterward.  Ours was of course the lowest budgeted film showing in that block.  There were thesis films that had big cash behind them and yet there we stood nestled with larger film fare.  That's what we're out to prove - quality isn't always budget bound, creative ideas can be used to overcome restrictions.  With each festival it enters I feel we prove that more and more.
TCoTAre you currently working on another short film- or are you going feature length soon?
John:  We have a few things on!

"The Veil Unmasked Edition" will be released soon - it' was completed in 2005, our first feature and we're pleased to release it in a form that we always wanted and with a distribution we trust.  This version is for the attention deficit too - it's just 104 min as opposed to the original 150 min.  We feel it's still as epic as it was (albeit on a micro budget).  But there isn't a moment to get bored there's always something happening!  I feel this really shows the true spirit of independent film.  If you have a ten plus crew and you're on a million dollar budget it's not exactly slumming it.  This was a bunch of kids making a movie true guerrilla film making style.  So if you enjoy a good indie horror film or if nothing else, to support original independent film maybe this is for you.  When a film is distributed, Film Makers are treated so badly - from their masters getting wrecked and being released in poor quality to not even getting paid - let's just say - it happened to a friend of mine.

"The Last War" is currently building momentum - a project gathering artists from all corners of the globe to participate in making a SCI-FI documentary feature.  It's going to be made up of Voice Over Artists, Photographers, Models, Animators, and Graphic Artists from all over to build the film with us.  The story is based on an alien invasion set in the future.  There are still some spots left for people to get involved.

On top of that we're working on some exciting screenplays, both me and Rich gearing to try and get funding for our 2nd feature film.  I'm really excited about what I'm writing at the moment.  When I was a kid growing up there were stories of something unexplained (No hints yet!) that were fascinating to me.  I've spent some years putting this together and now it's really beginning to make fruition!

Meantime you never know, we might make another short!
TCoTIf you could direct a big name Hollywood movie, which three stars would you love to have in it?
John:  Good question! Christopher Lee would be an honor.  I always mention "Horror of Dracula" was the first horror film I ever saw.  That guy is such a great actor he could make a bad script good!  Except "Howling 2".  No one could save that to be honest. But, seriously he had so many great films to his name and continues to.

William Dafoe - an amazing actor, he can truly do anything.  He can play a bad guy as good as a nice guy.  Funny, scary just incredible.  Gary Cole or Eric Roberts too.  That caliber of artistry is inspiring - to be able to become that role.  With Cole to drift between serious acting and comedy is talent in itself.
TCoTWhat movie scared you the most growing up- and what scene do you remember most from that movie?
John:  "Horror of Dracula" - I was four.  I dreamed he was by my window peering in - only after my Mum told me I'd get nightmares watching that horror film!  I said for her not to say that again.  Then I never did.   I think she got that I was somehow more intrigued by them.  "Deathship" was another early one.  Later on horror films were more just unsettling.  "House on the Edge of the Park", "Last House on the Left" - just films so real it left you feeling disgusted for watching it.  They weren't scary - just a side of human nature you know is real and that is truly scary.

TCoTWhat do you think of the rash of remakes and reboots that have been flooding the theatres over the recent years?
John:  Always a good debate.  Sometimes rarely a remake will surpass the original - but that was mainly in the past when it was more of a fandom for the filmmaker to make one.  Not necessarily about the market, money and "let's make a remake with a strong solid fan base but make it apply to young teens that don't have a clue there was an original."

Recent remakes I feel were as good or surpassed them were: "Battlestar Galactica", "The Hills Have Eyes". BG was definitely better.

Back when I feel it wasn't all about studios desperate for every classic to be reproduced - "The Thing" (82') "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (78') they completely surpassed the original classics. 
I feel original film making will be back at one point in studios more.  It's just a phase at the moment of playing safe making sure they make much more back.  But it's a shame no great film of the past is safe!

TCoTIf you could do a remake, which movie would you remake- and why?
John:   Uh oh - I have to play this?  It definitely wouldn't be something that was only out five - ten years ago - what's that about?  Just purely because I love the characters I'd want to play Will Graham in "Manhunter" or Snake Pliskin in "Escape From New York" - then I'd simultaneously direct them.  Then destroy them.  Because they are perfect and shouldn't be remade by anyone.  "Red Dragon", shame on you.  I truly believe that a directors film is his/her vision and they shouldn't want to remake someone else's film.  I just want to be given the opportunity to make mine.  I'm confident we have a lot of great ideas and stories.  I understand people have to put food on the table though and some folks just want to make a movie and they're not the type that have a stylization or simply will do whatever script is offered their way.

BUT If someone forced me to make one - "Shockwaves" because that was bad ass.  Or "Garbage Pail Kids" - it was pretty bad but the puppets looked good.  I think this is already being considered to be made already, so whoever makes it - consider great puppets again (please no CGI it won't work!) That can be remade - the film never really captured the atmosphere and story behind all those interesting characters.  The concept was interesting - but it was lacking the wonder of those cards - the story sort of locked into a typical 80's standard kid up against bullies/wants the girl format.

TCoTWhat advice would you offer new indie film makers in regards to making a movie?
John:  Watch alot of movies.  Ask yourself what makes your favorites so good and appealing to you?  Be the original film maker you want to become.  We definitely need more of them.  Be careful - if you have something of a good idea there's always somehow else who wants to profit from it.  These are the vermin of the film world.  There are as many thieves out there as there are hungry artists.  After completing a film you'll probably want to sell it - don't just look up to see if a company is legit, investigate and ask a couple of filmmakers who have sold their film with that company what they are like to work with.

Lastly, stay inspired!  There's too much trash out there to clean up as it is.
So, there you have it- ten "Grave Questions" answered by Jonathan Chance.  I want to give him a big "Thank You" for the willingness to sit down and take the time to type out his responses to my questions- it's greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Necropolis (Catharine Arnold)

Sometimes, reality can be much more creepier and macabre than anything you find in a horror novel or movie...

"Necropolis: London and Its Dead," by Catharine Arnold is a wonderful examination of how the City of London has dealt with the question of burying its dead.  From prehistory, through Roman times, up through the Plague years, to the more recent Victorian era, the way London has dealt with the remains of its dead citizens has evolved... sometimes with a morbid twist.

I had a hard time putting this book down once I started reading it.  The style is easy to follow, and flows smoothly from one subject to another- almost like a conversation at times.  She covers such things as Daniel Dafoe's observations of the Plague Pits, and what was done with Plague victims when they died, the emergence of the body snatchers who supplied medical schools with cadavers (few questions asked), and the beginnings of the funeral industry.  Arnold meshes all of these things, and more into a cohesive and fascinating whole, weaving in stories of famous Londoners, and not so famous residents.

Using the question of WHERE to bury the dead as a starting point, Arnold then takes you on a grim journey into the evolution of the graveyards and burial places that we all know exist... but don't necessarily want to go.  This journey illustrates the changes in how people think about the dead- from fear of the dead corrupting the ground and spreading disease, to Sunday picnics amongst the gravestones; from simple holes in the ground to grand marble tombs; from grim proximity to abstract distance.

Throughout the book, she manages to carry the theme of burial and funeral practices without you really noticing that the real subject isn't so much about how the city government dealt with the question of the repose of the dead, as to how people in general treated the deceased.  She shows us the best and the worst of human nature in the stories she tells- about those that wanted death to be dignified, and those that robbed death of any dignity it may have had.

Altogether, a thoroughly interesting read, that shows that sometimes truth is a little creepier than fiction.  I'm placing "Necropolis: London and Its Dead" in "The Good".

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Familiar (2012)

I'm back today with another short horror film.  This one is produced by Zach Green, and directed by Richard Powell.  I really want to thank Zach for asking me to review this stunning piece of horror work.

It's often been said that "familiarity breeds contempt."  It can take the form of a sneer whenever you see someone, or constant snide comments designed to make them feel small and insignificant.  For some it takes the form of physical violence.  John Dodd, is about to find out exactly what form his contempt takes...

I'm going to cut to the quick on this one: I loved it!

This is one of those short films that smoothly leads you along, ratcheting up the "OMG factor" until you're left stunned and wanting more.  At 23 minutes, I felt like I'd sat through at least an hour of tension and concentration.  My attention was rivited by the unfolding of the story on the screen.

The story is simple at first- a man is unhappy in his life, but grows into something more until at the end you're squirming in your seat... not just at the visuals being put in front of you- but just the thought of it was enough to make me stop eating my popcorn.  And I love my popcorn.  It was a tightly woven, interesting story that drew me into the action.

Dodd is played by Robert Nolan, and the character is apparently the twin brother of the main character of their previous short horror film, "Worm."  Nolan does a great job in this film.  He looks like an average everyday guy that feels stuck in a deadend life.  Your emotions sway from empathising with his opening thoughts, to being disgusted at some of his actions, to once again sympathizing with him.  So much of the acting was done with his eyes and face.  They went so well with the voice over of his thoughts.  Just a phenomenal performance.  I can't really say much about the acting of Astrida Auza- who plays his wife, Charlotte, and Cathryn Hostick as the daughter, Jordan, becaus they weren't in it much.  I will say though that they looked the part, and that look added to the feel of the movie.

Short films tend to showcase creative use of camera angles and editing.  "Familiar" is no exception.  There are simply some beautiful shots in this film that really captured the emotions on Dodd's face.  I was also really impressed with the editing.  The changes between the wider shots, and closer shots kept the film moving, and created a great sense of tension to what was being seen on the screen.  Not only was it technically pleasing, it was visually pleasing and easy to watch.

Oh, and the grue.. OH, the GRUE!  Loved it.  The messy effects were very well done- and would satisfy any grue hound.  I was wincing and sat with my jaw hanging at was shown.  Just great!

I am definately going to keep my eyes open for any more short films- and any feature length ones that Zach Green and crew, feel to share with the public.  I'm giving "Familiar" a spot in "The Good" for sure.

Want to get familiar with "Familiar"?  Well, check out the trailer just below!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Grave Questions" Will be Asked!

Most readers are probably (hopefully) already familiar with one of the regular features of this blog- "What Movie Wednesday."  Right?  Right.

Well, since the response to that feature has been good, it's about time that I add another regular feature- "Grave Questions".  In this feature, I'll be asking various horror related people questions... and they answer.  Or at least I hope they answer- as not doing so would make the articles really short.

What sort of horror related people will I interview?  Well, I hope to talk to people who produce and direct horror films, people that star in horror films, people that write horror stories, host horror websites, host horror related podcasts, etc.

I plan on doing this feature once a month if possible, so stay tuned for more!

Some people will have noticed that the title banner at the top of the site has changed.  It's the first of some of the organization changes I'm going to be implementing over the course of the next few months to make this site easier on the eyes, and to navigate, etc.

Also, just in case anyone has been wondering about the podcast series and YouTube series that I've hinted at- just keep watching this space for updates.  Things are slowly getting assembled so that I can kick them off.  I just need to gather a computer monitor and some software, then I can start the podcasts.  Expect the first episode near the beginning of October!  The YouTube series will take a bit longer- but things are starting to fall into place for that as well.  If all goes well, I should be able to start production on that  near the end of next year!

I'm also moving forward in regards to merchandise to offer readers.  I've got some clothing designs completed, and in the midst of working on some more in addition to some graphics for coffee mugs, mouse pads, and more!  I have some possible retail outlets that may be willing to sell what I have to offer, as well as a company that might be able to produce and distribute as well.  Let's keep our fingers cross and by the time Dark Fest 2013 rolls around, you might see me rolling around Kamloops in a "Corner of Terror" hoodie!

So that's it for this quick little status report.  As things develop more, I'll let you all know what's happening.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"The Timeslip" (2011)

One of the nice things about being a reviewer of films and books is that people approach you to have a look at what they have to offer the world of cinema.  Sometimes, the offerings take you to places that you didn't expect to go...

Imagine you're walking through busy downtown London, when suddenly, you're rolling down a green, grassy bank into a forest that seems to close in around you.  That's exactly what happens to a "modern man" one day as he discovers that being "technologically advanced" doesn't necessarily improve your chances of survival...

Jonathan Chance- of The Chance Brothers, approached me on Twitter to see if I would like to review their short film, "The Timeslip".  This movie has been making the film festival rounds, and racking up some impressive awards:

  • Best Sci-Fi (Geek Independent Film Fest- 2011);
  • Official Selection (Angeleno Film Fest);
  • Official Selection (Underground Horror Fest);
  • Official Selection (Horrorquest Film Festival);
  • Official Selection (Action on Film Film Festival);
  • Official Selection (Killer Film Fest);
  • Official Selection (RadCon 6 Film Festival);
  • Official Selection (NorWesCon 35 Film Festival);
  • Official Selection (ChiCon 7 Film Festival);
  • Official Selection (Tri-Cities Fantastic Film Festival); and
  • Official Selection (OsFest Film Festival).
This short film is still making the rounds, so will probably garner more awards and attention- which it rightfully deserves, in my opinion.

"The Timeslip" is 15 minutes in length, but is a VERY interesting 15 minutes.  The premise is very creative- and could probably provide them with enough material for a feature length movie if they had the budget to do so.  While this film does primarily feature a sci-fi bent in the premise, the delivery is purely a taut, suspenseful thriller.

While you don't learn much about "the Modern Man," you still become interested in what's happening to him.  It is very easy to put yourself in his shoes, and wonder how YOU would react in the same situation.

The acting, for such a short film was quite good.Richard Chance portrays "the Modern Man", while his brother Jonathan, Stuart Armitage, and Michael Himsworth play the "Tribesmen"- with Richard also playing one.  I thought that Richard did a great job with "the Modern Man"- especially since there is close to zero dialogue in the entire short.  The only words uttered are, "Come on."  He expressed the characters emotions wonderfully with his face and body language.  I also have to say the "Tribesmen" were really good too, though I'm not all together sure tribesmen would have haircuts like those.  Though, now that I think about it, that raises a question... which DIRECTION did "the Modern Man" slip?  Certainly adds a new depth to the movie, I think.

I can't say enough about the camera work.  There is some excellent craftsmanship in this short movie.  The editing, camera work, angles, etc all work together to create a tense, well paced experience.  Some of the stills- like the one at the top of this review are just great.  All I can say is, "If you get the chance to see this short at a film festival- DO SO!"

I'm glad that Jonathan gave me to the opportunity to watch "The Timeslip," and I'm going to place it in "The Good".  I'll certainly be keeping an eye open in case The Chance Brother offer up a feature length movie!

Check out the trailer below for a taste of the goodness that "The Timeslip" offers:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Dead Sleep (2010)

Often, I find that the supernatural films are the ones with the most interesting ones withing the horror genre...but sometimes- as is the case with this week's "What Movie Wednesday" winner, and interesting idea doesn't mean a captivating movie...

Paul wakes up one day, and starts to experience strange phenomena- seeing people that aren't there, and hearing things that aren't said.  This would be bad enough, but after discovering that he's dead, Paul is in a race across reality to save his daughter from his boss who is looking for the money Paul stole from him...

"The Dead Sleep" is, at it's core an interesting supernatural thriller- rather than an outright horror movie.  This would be a good thing, if you weren't confused for most of the film.  As much as I enjoy films that make you think, this one bounced around a bit too much, and seemed to rely on plot devices to make it all mesh at the end.  Two characters in particular are used as plot devices- Paul's friend Del, and a mysterious "One Eyed Girl".  The former is developed somewhat and is present through most of the film while, the latter just kinda pops up, vanishes, and then pops up again when Paul needs a kick in the right direction.

In addition to the plot devices, the story suffers from some logic issues.  The boss he stole from wants his money back, and to send a message to others in the company.  To accomplish this, he secretly kills Paul before he can tell him where the money is, then cultivates a friendship with Paul's daughter in order to have her lead him to the money.  Ummmm... Not what I would consider very effective management of his resources- since he could've just had his burly henchmen beat the daylights out of Paul.  The "dreaming ghost" aspect of the story was interesting, but could lose some people.

I liked the character of Paul, and thought that Paul Armstrong fit the role physically- but found his delivery a little bland.  If almost felt as if he was thinking of a grocery list while delivering his lines.  Robert Fente as Del wasn't bad, though up until the end, the nature of his character is rather amiguous.  Sarah Foret looked great, but unfortunately, looked too old to play the role of a 16 year old old.  I thought she in her mid-twenties at least.  I'm not entirely sure what to think of Tim- played by Joshua Close.  He did a decent enough job, I guess- but I simply found I couldn't get into feeling menaced by the character.  The one character I REALLY wanted to learn about was also the most confusing one of the lot- "The One Eyed Girl", who was played by Jacintha Charles.  Even with bandages on her eye she still looked good.  The problem is that you learn absolutely nothing about her... at all! She shows up, acts all mysterious, and disappears.  Why is she so interested in saving Paul's daughter?  How did she lose her eye?  I wanted to know!

This is a rather slow paced story- as is common for thrillers.  There is potential for some action, but it's not delivered properly in the form of "The Collectors" that chase spirits and bury them.  There's a couple of short chases, but then that's pretty much it for them until the very end of the movie.  I was a little disappointed.  I wanted to see more of them menacing our hero.

There is some great camerawork though.  I found the editing and camera movements to be smooth and artistic.  I was quite impressed with that aspect of it.

Would I recommend "The Dead Sleep"?  I would, actually- because, despite its flaws, I was actually interested in the movie- and it managed to keep my attention for the majority of the movie.  I wouldn't watch it more than once, but I would certainly say it's worth a look.  I'm putting it in 'The Bad".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again March 9th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Bloody Wednesday":

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    The Word of Terror is Spreading...

    There comes a point in a writer's life (even if their writing consists mostly of babbling about horror movies), when they ponder whether or not their writing has an impact on anything or anyone.

    Well, Google helped me resolve that own sort of issue in my life.

    In addition to this blog, I submit my reviews to another great site- Horror-Movies.ca.  My username on that site is "TerrorCorner"... just like my Twitter name.  Well, I decided to Google, "TerrorCorner," and noticed something that helped to make me feel better about whether or not this blog is having an impact on things.

    Because apparently, it has.

    I have been finding that many of my reviews are appearing on sites OTHER than Horror-Movies.ca.  Even though most of those copies link back to Horror-Movies.ca, rather than my blog, there's a sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing my words spreading across the internet.

    Some of the sites I've found so far with my reviews include:
    In addition to these sites, The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has also been listing my Horror-Movies.ca reviews for a few of the movies in their database:  "The Beast of Yucca Flats", "Carnival of Souls", "Dementia 13", and "Death Warmed Up".  I'm tempted to go through their database and see exactly HOW many movies include a link to one of my reviews.

    I found one that actually used a review of mine as not only as a reference in the footnotes, but as the opening quote for the article on for the move, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"!  Heck, my quote is followed by one by Roger Ebert, no less!  Bloody cool in my opinion.

    I'm pretty sure there are others, but what I saw was enough to make realize that this blog IS having an impact beyond the corner I live in.  It shows that my reviews are being noticed by people, and are being appreciated and spread through the ether so that more people can read them.  I now have more determination to keep doing this blog, and to grow it where I want it to go.

    Thank you Google...