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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    The tapir is definitely one of the strangest-looking mammals on the planet... but we should give this guy a little slack, because he's also one of the oldest; fossil records indicate that the species has been around in some form or another for around 50 million years. But scientists still don't know everything about the creature, as they just recently stumbled across a different variety of tapir in the Brazilian jungle.
     
    Tapir1
    Photo: Mario A. Cozzuol
     
    According to I Fucking Love Science,Tapirus kabomani– which looks pretty spooky in this night-vision image – is the first new tapir species to be documented since 1865, even though Amazonian natives have known about it for ages. Mario A. Cozzuol, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, enlisted the local tribes to help him track and study the creature on its native turf.
     
    Global warming, over-hunting and other human encroachments on the tapir's habitat are rapidly reducing its population, and conservation groups are using information like this to determine if it belongs on the endangered species list.

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    This elegant four-bedroom Victorian home in Dunmore, PA was built in 1901, and as you can see it's been recently repainted, with original hardwood floors, off-street parking and lots of curb appeal... oh yeah, and according to the listing on Zillow, it's “slightly haunted.”
     
    Haunted_House1
    Photos: Zillow.com
     
    Judging by the details of the ad, “slightly” may be a bit of an understatement, because the current owner, Gregory Leeson, goes on to describe some of the creepy nocturnal events he's experienced: knocks, footsteps and faint screams which always seem to happen at 3:13 am (“twice a week, tops”), and “the occasional ghastly visage lurking behind you" in the mirror of this second-floor bathroom:
     
    Haunted_House3
     
    "I'm not even sure why I included that," said Leeson in an interview with Yahoo News. "I was just writing the listing and put it in there."
     
    This isn't the only allegedly haunted property in Dunmore... according to Examiner.com, a “white bearded ghost” is rumored to occupy a house built in the same year, in the nearby neighborhood of Sport Hill.

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    New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth No. 114
    Liz Sherman knows how to kill monsters. She's been doing it for years now. So when she finally returns to help a troupe of hapless police officers everyone knows good things are on the way. She takes them to a hospital where a crazed doctor has been turning his patients into monstrosities, and we see just how much she's developed both emotionally and pyrotechnically.
    Bag it or board it up? This issue is definitely a keeper! In a series that can sometimes feel hopeless or without direction, Liz Sherman is a blazing torch for the reader. This issue has lots of action, a tense hostage negotiation, and a ton of that old 'Hellboy' charm. If you haven't been a long time reader, you'll still love this comic. But if you are a long time reader you'll feel nothing but nostalgia this issue.

    Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein No. 4
    The powerful sorcerer Hemlock has our friend Cal McDonald trapped in a ring of fire. As he sends hordes of his minions from below to smash Cal we see just how much power Cal took from the Ghouls. In this epic showdown big changes - changes that will alter the look, feel, and story of 'Criminal Macabre' - occur. If I say anything more, I'll spoil one of the best reveals in this comic's history.
    Bag it or board it up? If you haven't read the rest of this four part series, pick it up before diving into this issue. It's a great read, but it carries much more weight if you've read everything else. There are moments in this issue that feel hopeless in ways most comics don't. There are movements from page to page. It's a great issue, really a stand-out issue. I don't know where the next series of 'Criminal Macabre' comics will go, but I'm excited to find out.

    Ghost No. 1
    One of my favorite comic series of last year gets another issue number one this year. 'Ghost' tells the tale of Elisa, a woman who's not quite dead and not quite living. She's a ghost, but she can't remember who she used to be. She can beat the hell out of you or make your hand pass through her. She's tough, confused, and generally… awesome! This issue one jumps right into the action, and we see her on the hunt for demons who have been walking around in human bodies for years.
    Bag it or board it up? I really liked last year's take on this comic, but this year's spin on 'Ghost' is even better. We get right into the action, we don't spend time on her meeting her human friends. It's just accepted and established that she's got a crew she works with. That's the type of storytelling that says to me, "I respect my audience. I don't need to hold their hands." Go get this comic. It rules.

    Ghostbusters: Happy Horror Days Part 3
    Here's some holiday fun for the family! The Ghostbusters are on the hunt for the ghost of Sinterklaas, an evil version of old Saint Nick. Sinterklaas seems a lot like everyone's favorite red and white fat man, but he doesn't leave a lump of coal for bad kids… he abducts them! When the ghost of Mr. S. comes for the children of a small town it's up to the proton-packing 'Busters to save the day.
    Bag it or board it up? If you've got kids, or are wildly nostalgic for a time when the Ghostbusters were awesome, you should check this comic out. It's not going to scare you senseless, it's not going to leave you emotionally moved or drained, but it is going to delight you for the ten minutes it takes to read it. Check it out if you want your horror on the "lighter side."


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    While there may be a shortage of theatrical horror films scoring a nationwide release, there are still plenty of titles touring the festival circuit and coming out via VOD and DVD that are equally worthy of your attention. The foreign film market has also been churning out a lot of noteworthy titles. Unfortunately, films that don’t get the big-studio marketing treatment often wind up overlooked. To shed some light on some of these lesser-known features, we started running a recurring feature spotlighting a series of impressive films released over the past five years, which may not have received all the publicity they deserved (due to financial limitations, being overshadowed by larger scale releases, or myriad other reasons).  Since that segment has proved popular, we’ve decided to continue on and open the timeframe up to ten years.

    We’re showcasing five titles from the past ten years that may have passed you by, but are certainly worthy of your attention. We hope that even die-hard fans of the macabre will find a film or two on this list that might have slipped under their radar...

    Inside

    Watching this French extremity film is a bit like taking a ninety-minute thrill ride that doesn’t slow down for a minute. The performances are top notch and the musical cues and score are extremely intense. The ending was a little jarring but perfectly fitting for the tone of the film. Unfortunately, Inside went direct-to-DVD in the U.S. Had the film received a theatrical release; it would likely have enjoyed a successful run. Béatrice Dalle’s is excellent as ‘La Femme’; we don’t learn her intentions until the very end of the film, which makes her behavior all the more ominous. Dalle plays the role with a ruthless and unyielding determination that all makes sense at the end but the since the viewer is given no insight in to her motivation until the final scenes of the film, it makes for a suspenseful viewing experience.

    Cold Prey I and II

    The Cold Prey Films are part of a trilogy, but the third is not really essential viewing. The first two films, though, are fantastic. The final girl, Jannicke, is tough, level headed, and isn’t about to take any shit from anyone. Cold Prey and Cold Prey II take place in succession – the third is a prequel – so, it’s ideal to watch the first two films back-to-back in order to keep the timeline straight. The second film was unavailable in the U.S. until recently but our friends at Scream Factory were kind enough to secure the domestic distribution rights and allow stateside audiences to see this modern slasher classic for the first time.

    Botched

    I will start of by saying that Botched isn’t going to please everyone. But, I definitely enjoy it. It’s like a Guy Ritchie heist film crossed with a satanic slasher. The film takes a dramatic shift in tonality in the second act and I loved the direction the film went when it did so. Watching it for the first time, Botched had a slightly surreal quality to it but upon re-watching I appreciate some of the subtle humor that I didn’t pick up on the first time around. Stephen Dorff (The Gate) turns in a fine performance and is likable as Ritchie in spite of being somewhat of an antihero. And Jaime Murray (Dexter) is great as Anna, the female lead. Botched doesn’t reinvent the genre but it certainly has ample laughs and a few good scares to offer.

    Timecrimes

    This is an amazing Spanish language film that gets just about everything right. It’s highly original; it quickly sets itself apart from other time travel films. The performances are top notch; I wouldn’t necessarily have pegged Karra Elejalde as a leading man but he ends up being an excellent choice. The ending brings everything around full circle with an interesting twist. The movie is well paced, making the running time fly by; there are no lulls and it never gets bogged down with any dull sequences.

    The Skin I Live in

    The Skin I Live In is one of the most unusual films I’ve seen. It takes a little while to clue the viewer in as to what’s going on; the lack of exposition early in the film makes for a highly unexpected reveal later on in the picture. I had no idea what to expect going in. I didn’t read anything about the film prior to watching it and I wont spill any details because I don’t want to spoil it for prospective viewers by giving anything away. Suffice to say that this one is not to be missed. Antonio Banderas turns in an arresting performance, as does the rest of the cast. The film raises a lot of interesting questions and doesn’t necessarily answer all of them. It lets the viewer draw a lot of his or her own conclusions. 


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  • 12/23/13--11:00: The Unseen: 'Event Horizon'
  • Really? Event Horizon is “unseen”? Because of its meager acclaims and relatively widespread release, I had never even considered including Event Horizon as an “unseen” title. Everyone had seen the film, right? My feelings on the title’s inclusion changed several weeks ago when I was asked to be a guest lecturer in a college freshman Film Studies class. At the end of my lecture, I invited the students to ask any questions they may have about horror films. The first question was one I have been asked more times than I can count: “What’s the scariest movie you have ever seen?” I gave my default answer about how “scary” is subjective to each individual person and then rattled off two or three titles that personally had scared the hell out of me. Among them was Event Horizon. The students look confused. I asked how many had seen Event Horizon. Out of the lecture hall class of over 150 freshmen, one person raised his hand. Well, maybe it’s not as well known as I thought. Perhaps, it was just seen by one generation, and the film didn’t make the jump to future generations of horror viewers. Perhaps though many dedicated horror fans know this film well, it never transcended outside of the obscure horror circle into mainstream cinema like I felt it had. Or maybe people have no clue what an “event horizon” is and how completely terrifying the concept can be when captured in a film. So I welcome Event Horizon into my “unseen” collection. 

    Event Horizon came out in 1997, which was a weird time for horror cinema in general. Scream had dominated the box office the prior year and shifted the horror pendulum back towards teen horror flicks. It not surprising that the top horror films of 1997 were Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Mimic, Anaconda, and The Relic also made small waves. Then there was Event Horizon which from the trailer looks mostly like a science fiction piece with some horror woven in. It felt out of place with horror at the time, and the intensity, terror, and gore contained in the film took many horror fans by surprise. Compared to Event Horizon, teen terrors Scream and I Know What You Did Like Summer are a cake walk.  

    Event Horizon was not well received when it was at the theaters. It garnered bad reviews and made back less than a third of the film’s massive 60 million dollar budget. Why the bad reviews? Again, I feel that this film has some flaws but it largely just came at a strange time in cinema. Tastes were shifting from large studio flicks towards the indie markets, and horror was struggling to find a place amongst the changing of the guard. This large budget, effects heavy science fiction horror film just didn’t fit. It was way too intense for most teen crowds and way too intense for most peripheral horror fans. Yet, Event Horizon is amazing. It is intense, but not nearly as intense as director Paul W.S. Anderson originally intended. The studios felt that test audiences were leaving far too shaken and disturbed from screenings, so they required that Anderson cut out some of the extreme gore. Anderson has said in many interviews that he regrets having to comply and still dislikes the ending. Some of the deleted scenes are now available (in horrible video quality) on some of the DVD and Blu-ray releases. Some of the footage has just been lost.

    Event Horizon is not hard to find nor is it expensive. Regardless of bad reviews at the time, Event Horizon was very influential for the small number of horror fans who dared to watch. This one is a must for horror and science fiction fans alike. 


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    Final Chapter

    Something you might not know about Metallica's lead guitarist Kirk Hammett is that he's a big time horror fan, a lifelong love for the genre that has led to him amassing one of the largest and most impressive collections of horror movie memorabilia in the world.  Around this time last year, Hammett showed off his massive collection in the hardcover book Too Much Horror Business, a collection that's jam packed with screen-worn outfits, masks and even Dr. Hill's severed head from Re-Animator.

    Taking his fandom to the next level, Hammett is hosting his very own horror convention next year, titled Kirk Hammett's Fear FestEvil.  Taking place in California from February 6th through the 8th, FestEvil is a celebration of both heavy metal and horror, and the guest list includes names like Kane Hodder, Barbara Crampton, Tom Savini and Slash.

    Jason Goes to Hell prop

    As reported by the website Friday the 13th: The Film Franchise, Hammett is bringing some pieces from his collection to the event, including rare screen-used props from the Friday the 13th films.  On display will be Jason's mask and a Hell demon from Jason Goes to Hell (above), as well as a stunt prop from The Final Chapter (seen at the top of this post).  A must-attend event for California-based Friday fans, to say the least!

    Check out more of Kirk's incredible collection in the video below and learn more about Fear FestEvil over on the official website for the event!


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    In our “real monsters” features, we've come across a lot of marine creatures that may once have inspired the sea monster myths told by seafarers over the past few centuries. Sightings of the oarfish and the giant squid lend a lot of credence to those monster stories, and photos showing real-life versions of the mythical kraken and sea serpents keep making the news.
     
    Frilled_Shark1
    Photo © Citron/CC-BY-SA-3.0
     
    Another example of an ancient sea monster that probably spooked sailors in the past is the frilled shark (species Chlamydoselachus anguineus), which like the species we mentioned above, is still around today – although it's pretty hard to find, as it can lurk at depths of nearly a mile beneath the ocean surface.
     
    Shark2
    Photo: OpenCage via Wikimedia Commons
     
    It possesses many of the features found in prehistoric sea predators, including its eel-like musculature & spine and clusters of needle-sharp teeth, which has led some scientists to categorize it as one of the few surviving examples of creatures from the Cretaceous or Late Jurassic eras – monsters which died out hundreds of millions of years ago.

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    I don't know what it is about dolls that is so damned scary. Maybe it is their cold, dead eyes; or the idea of them running around, creating mischief. Whatever it is, they are scary. But somehow, this print on wood makes them so much scarier

    Artist Lorcheenas creates one-of-a-kind, terrifying dolls out of scraps and cast-offs. Then she photographs them and tranfsers the image to reclaimed pine that is painted, sanded, distressed, and stained. Maybe it is the unevenness of the wood, or the distressing of the wood... whatever it is, this is one of the scariest doll images ever.

    $25 at Etsy 


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    abandoned nursing home

    There are few things creepier than abandoned buildings, which is why we just love to show them off here on FEARnet.  Characteristics of such locations almost always include spider webs, broken windows and crumbling walls - all things that Imgur user 'sneakylawyer' found in an abandoned nursing home in Belgium that he recently explored with his girlfriend.  But 'sneakylawyer' also found something else in the building.  Something quite unexpected, and a whole lot more beautiful than the decay usually present in long forgotten buildings.

    Batman graffiti

    Though it's not uncommon to find spray painted walls and crude artwork in abandoned buildings, left behind by those brave enough to endure the creepiness, what 'sneakylawer' found in this particular building is incredible artwork that turns the drab walls of the nursing home into a beautiful geek-themed art gallery. The stunning murals are the work of artist Pete One, imagery from Batman and Sin City bringing unexpected doses of life and color to a building that quite frankly has no business having so much life and color in it.

    Sin City

    See more pictures from the artistic treasure trove over on sneakylawyer's Imgur account!

    Batman graffiti

    The Joker


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    Over the years, video games haven't had all that much luck when it comes to big screen live-action movie adaptations.  There are exceptions, of course, but one need only look at 1993's Super Mario Bros., 1995's Mortal Kombat and 2003's House of the Dead to see that sometimes, beloved video games are better off as video games.

    Since much room has been left for improvement, to say the least, fans have been stepping up in recent years and making their own adaptations of their favorite games, which have proven that the key to a good video game-to-movie adaptation is passion, first and foremost.  Jared Potter is a fan who's got no shortage of that, and last year he dazzled us with the short film New Year's End, set in the Bioshock universe.  This year he's back for some more fun, once again giving the live-action treatment to another one of his favorite games.

    Check out Jared's incredible take on The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which was released for the Nintendo 64 back in 2000.  Titled Skull Kid: A Zelda Legend, the short fan film tells the prequel story of the game's Skull Kid character, and how he came to be in possession of Majora's Mask!


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    Experts in Marine Biology believe they have identified the most efficient and lethal marine predator living today. It's not the shark, which would be the obvious choice, of course. It's not the orca, the barracuda, the moray eel, the stingray or the giant squid either. Not even close.
     
    Nope, it turns out the creature with the ultimate ninja-level undersea hunting skills is this adorable little seahorse.
     
    Seahorse2
    Photo by Nick Hobgood/Wikimedia Commons
     
    According to I Fucking Love Science, Brad J. Gemmell from the University of Texas at Austin’s Marine Science Institute has published a paper in the journal Nature explaining how the seahorse's strange body shape and super-slow movement actually makes it a totally deadly assassin of the sea.
     
    Gemmell's study explains that this seeming lazy swimming speed allows the seahorse to sneak up on copepods, tiny crustaceans which move incredibly fast. When the predator gets close enough, its curved head makes it easy to whip forward and snap up the prey before it knows what hit it. The technique apparently works 90% of the time, and this video shows it in action:
     

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    As I mentioned in my overview of 2013's best horror-friendly albums, it's been a bountiful year for terror tunes... and I wouldn't want to neglect the amazing visuals that accompanied so many of those sinister sounds. As there were legions of worthy candidates to chose from, and some genres tend to lean more heavily toward horror content than others, I decided my favorite vids from across the spectrum of musical categories – pop, EDM, alt-rock, metal, industrial, hip-hop, experimental and so on. I also went with alphabetical order by artist, to avoid the whole apples-to-oranges thing between musical styles. Many of these vids have been featured on our pages in 2013, while several made their world premieres right here. 
     
    A few of these clips are totally unsafe for work viewing, but assuming you've got an age-appropriate viewing audience gathered around the monitor, it's time to shake your blood with a visual cornucopia of rock and shock. Kill the lights, crank the volume and press play!
     
    Beauty In The Suffering: “The Crazies (The Zombie Song)”
     
     
    The title is really all you need to know about this intense but darkly playful horror romp, featuring the industrial metal supergroup and a swarm of undead groupies. But rest assured "The Crazies" is not your typical zombie-filled music video, and it stands out among dozens of similarly-themed entries to come down the pipe this year.
     
    Behemoth: “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”
     
     
    This Polish metal trio is known for embracing controversy, so it's no surprise that they don't hold anything back in their visuals... but this new clip from their upcoming album The Satanist is their most insane production yet. It's also really gorgeous to look at, thanks to the talents of production house Grupa 13.
     
    Brotha Lynch Hung: "Krocadil"
     
     
    Lynch gets tons of love at FEARnet for good reason: his Coat Hanga album trilogy and video series is one of the more inventive musical concepts of the past few years. This year he wrapped up his twisted tale of a troubled artist/serial killer/superstar in the album Mannibalector, and this clip brings the saga to a grim and brutal conclusion... or does it?
     
    David Bowie: “Love is Lost”
     
     
    I was overjoyed when Bowie finally returned to the studio after a decade-long hiatus and surfaced with the album The Next Day, then was amazed and horrified (in a good way) by the brilliantly deranged music videos which accompanied the singles. The creepiest of the bunch is this dark and stunning entry, which depicts Bowie as a digitally-projected mannequin based on his many career alter-egos.
     
    David Lynch: “Good Day Today”
     
     
    No list of freaky visuals (and music) would be complete without an entry by David Lynch, whose new album Crazy Clown Time is every bit as demented as you've come to expect from the legendary artist, director and musician. While Lynch's seizure-inducing clip for the Nine Inch Nails track “Came Back Haunted” was creepy enough, this vid for his own single is far more disturbing on many levels.
     
    Dawn Of Ashes: “Poisoning the Steps of Babel”
     
     
    One of several music videos released this year to feature inverted religious imagery in a horror context, this slick, sick promo from DOA's superb album Anathema is one of the more flamboyantly entertaining of the lot, with a leering wink to “nunsploitation” cinema and the works of Jess Franco and Nigel Wingrove.
     
    Franz Ferdinand: “Evil Eye”
     
     
    The flamboyant alt-rockers tap into the spirit of lo-fi '80s horror in this insane clip from their latest album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Director Diane Martel and her team sprayed literal gallons of cheesy gore to capture the kind of backyard splatter epic my friends and I used to shoot with our camcorders many, many summers ago.
     
    Hexis: “Tenebris”
     
     
    While the non-stop avalanche of exorcism-themed horror features crashing through cinema and home screens in recent years might have dulled the chill that The Exorcist first instilled in our collective psyche 40 years ago, UK director Craig Murray manages to recapture the shocking essence of that classic film in just over four minutes in this promo for the Danish extreme-metal team.
     
    How To Destroy Angels: “How Long?”
     
     
    Post-apocalyptic worlds are common in the music video realm, but this beautiful nightmare vision from experimental filmmakers Shynola, set to a dark and sensual track from Trent Reznor's excellent side project, is a unique and emotionally powerful depiction of humanity reduced to total savagery... while retaining a tiny spark of hope that makes the scenario all the more haunting.
     
    Kvelertak: “Månelyst”
     
     
    This amazing Norwegian unit mixes and matches a half-dozen metal styles on their excellent album Meir, and that same "everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink" attitude infuses this glorious visual homage to a half-dozen iconic horror films... and when the filmmakers reached the end of those images, they just made up more of their own.
     
    Tesseract: “Singularity”
     
     
    Tesseract's awesome concept album Altered State didn't quite make my 2013 best-albums list, as it didn't incorporate overtly horror themes. But one exception is this incredible clip, which plays out like an artsy interpretation of Japanese tentacle Hentai porn. More subtle than it sounds, but incredibly creepy nonetheless, thanks to some sick practical effects work from the Prometheus team.
     
    Umberto: “Dead Silent Morning”
     
     
    Umberto draws inspiration from smooth electro scores from vintage giallo and slasher cinema, and this video from his latest album Confrontations recreates the feel of those genres so impeccably that I first thought it was re-purposed footage from an existing '80s film. It's not, of course... but I kind of wish this faux flick actually existed.
     
    Wrath Of Killenstein: “St. 7000”
     
     
    This vid from the horror-metal outfit makes the list for their dead-on homage to the sleazy tone and texture of satanic exploitation cinema of the '60s and '70s, as well as the sheer variety of kinky and creepy images they throw at your eyeballs nonstop for the entire runtime. Sick, grimy and hella fun.
     
    As a bonus, I'd like to bring back a fan-made clip we featured last month: while Miley Cyrus's “Wrecking Ball” video wasn't intended to induce nightmares, this digitally-altered version – which twists the vocals into disturbingly uncomfortable harmonies – is definitely one of the creepiest things you'll hear this year.
     

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    A research team recently discovered a crumbling structure in southwestern Turkey which closely matches ancient Greek and Roman descriptions of a passage to the underworld, or the Gates of Hell.
     
    Gates_Hell3
    Image: Francesco D’Andria
     
    Led by archaeologist Francesco D’Andria, the scientists also found a subterranean cave, which according to ancient writings would kill anyone who entered it. The team observed several birds entering the passage, attracted by the warmer air inside, which was mostly made up of carbon dioxide. In moments the birds were dead, giving further proof to the legend.
     
    Gates_Hell1
    Image: Francesco D’Andria
     
    D’Andria and his team uncovered even more evidence, including a statue of a coiled snake – a symbol of the underworld – and a large figure of Cerberus, the three-headed dog which, according to myth, served as the ferocious guardian of Hell's gateway.
     
    Gates_Hell4Gates_Hell2
    Images: Francesco D’Andria
     
    They also revealed a ceremonial ground where priests apparently sacrificed animals to the god of the underworld (Hades to the Greeks; Pluto to the Romans) by exposing them to the toxic gases. Those fumes may also have triggered intense hallucinations which would then become part of the sacrificial ritual.

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    A few days ago we offered up our best horror films of 2013 -- although truth be told the list was written by me and I'm not the only horror freak at FEARnet -- but we thought it would be helpful to highlight some interesting horror movies on their way in 2014. Plus it's a great way to get some new readers on reviews we published months ago. (What? It's true!) We'll start with the ones I've actually seen, logically, and finish up with an exceedingly long listing of currently scheduled titles. We're thorough about horror films here at FEARnet. Happy New Year!

     

    Note: whereas the previous Top 12 was "ranked," this one is what's called "alphabetical." You'll simply have to read the review to see what we think. Isn't that sneaky?

    Afflicted -- (CBS Films, date tba) -- No amount of creative camerawork or nifty special effects will matter if you don't have some characters worth caring about. Afflicted is a truly impressive debut: clever, creative, and (yep!) seriously creepy stuff that should please horror nuts and relative scaredy-cats in equal measure. 

    Almost Human -- (IFC Midnight, date tba) --Suffers from a few "first-timer" problems, but the important stuff (a cool story, a consistent tone, some interesting characters, and a lot of blood-drenched madness) is what matters. This is a low-budget indie genre film that delivers in those departments. Best of all, the movie feels like a "throwback" that's not a rip-off, and a mild satire that clearly loves the stuff it's poking fun at.

    Big Bad Wolves -- (Magnet Releasing, Jan. 17 VOD) -- Big Bad Wolves actually works as three movies in one, provided you watch it from the perspective of each of the "wolves." An astute viewer will see a procedural thriller (not unlike Silence of the Lambs) briefly dip into Saw territory before switching over to a film noir of darkly amusing errors, and then a twisted psychological chiller about the disparate viewpoints of three highly violent men.

    Blue Ruin -- (Radius/TWC, date tba) -- The score is ominous, the cinematography is unflinchingly powerful, the editing style provides a simple story with a forward momentum that could teach the Hollywood boys a couple of things about keeping an audience captivated, and the supporting cast is simply great. 

    Cheap Thrills -- (Drafthouse Films, March) -- It's not often you come across an indie film that's both joyously mean-spirited and also kind of moral at the same time, but Cheap Thrills breezes by on a twisted idea, a fantastic cast, and a bunch of ethical quandaries that are both eerily uncomfortable and slyly fascinating at the same time.

    The Complex -- (Orchard/STYD, date tba) -- There's too much skill and talent on display in The Complex to dismiss it outright, but let's just say it's the sort of flick the J-horror veterans might enjoy -- even if it won't enlist many new converts. I also expect an even more forgettable American remake to arrive within 18 months. 

    Grand Piano -- (IFC Midnight, Jan. 30 VOD) -- Proof positive that simple "crowd-pleaser" thrillers can be produced on relatively small budgets and still hit the screen looking like well-crafted Hollywood fare, Grand Piano is nothing more than 90 minutes of quick, slick, and disarmingly classy fun. 

    The Green Inferno -- (Open Road, Sept. 5) -- Despite its few missteps, The Green Inferno works as both a gut-punch horror film and a distressingly downbeat adventure story, one that features both simple horrific pleasures and a small dash of socio-political food-for-thought regarding who the real "savages" are when all is said and done. 

    Memory of the Dead -- (Artsploitation, date tba) --  An homage to great gore classics and a legitimately fun, fast-paced, ferocious genre flick in its own right, Memory of the Dead is an example of how to respect your heroes while still forging your own ground. From its gooey practical gore to its bizarre CGI backdrops, for its bizarre mixture of dark gristle and weird humor, and thanks a dozen little touches in between, this is easily one of my favorite horror films of the year.

    Missionary -- (Orchard/STYD, date tba) -- If the idea of an indie-style gender-reversal Fatal Attraction (with a religious twist) sounds appealing to you, well... it's not like Anthony DiBlasi's Missionary is a bad movie. It's well-made and actually pretty compelling; it's just that you know precisely where the film is headed within 15 minutes.

    Nothing Bad Can Happen -- (Drafthouse Films, date tba)-- There's no doubt that Nothing Bad Can Happen is meant to be an ironic title -- indeed the film occasionally delves into some truly dark places -- but this is not a film in which "religion" is bad and the "free thinkers" are smart. Nor is it a film with any sort of pre-fabricated religious agenda; it's simply a dark and thoughtful film with a legitimately challenging and worthwhile message.

    Odd Thomas -- (Image Entertainment, date tba) -- Fans of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Gilmore Girls will no doubt appreciate the adorably quippy dialogue between Odd and his devoted girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin); movie geeks will appreciate the slight but fun contributions from Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, and Arnold Vosloo, and (most likely of all) pre-teen movie geeks will find a frantic little genre concoction that their parents might actually approve of. 

    Patrick -- (Phase 4, date tba) -- Laden with simple jump scares and backed by a tone that's both brutally violent and darkly amusing, Patrick is a good example of how to remake an obscure but admired horror flick: remake a little, rewrite a lot, always respect the source material, and if you can actually address a few of the original flick's shortcomings in the process, well that's just a cool bonus.

    Proxy -- (IFC Midnight, date tba) -- Mr. Parker and his team have created a frank and sometimes devastating thriller about the nature of mental illness, the ironic dangers in lying to people who trust you, and the freakish lunacy that may lie beneath the surface of even the mostly normal-looking people. This is a great horror film. 

    The Sacrament -- (Magnet Releasing, May 1) -- If you can't give the viewer a good reason as to why the cameras are still rolling once all the found footage freakiness kicks in, your movie probably isn't all that interesting. The Sacrament is not only interesting, but often fascinating, challenging, and (before all is said and done) more than a little disturbing.

    Willow Creek -- (Dark Sky Films, date tba) -- The patient horror fans will certainly enjoy what the third act of Willow Creek has to offer, and soon there will be a lot of geeky discussions over the film's one "super-long" (almost 20 minute!) take, but speaking as a guy who sees a lot of movies in which two people point a camera at dark shadows, I say Willow Creek is a calm, cool. creepy little winner.

     

    We also have reviews of to-be-released indie titles like The Borderlands, Daylight, Delivery, The Demon's Rook, For Elise, Goldberg & Eisenberg, Holy Ghost People, The Hunted, Livid (yes, still), Remnants, Savaged, Sawney: Flesh of Man, She Wolf, Thanatomorphose, and Torment... with a lot more on the way.

     

    Speaking of the future, here's what "Hollywood" horror has scheduled for 2014:

     

    January -- Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Paramount), Devil's Due (Fox), I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate)

     

    April -- Oculus (Relativity), The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate)

     

    May -- Godzilla (WB)

     

    June -- The Purge 2 (Universal)

     

    July -- Beware the Night (Sony)

     

    August -- Jessabelle (Lionsgate), The Loft (Universal)

     

    September --  No Good Deed (Sony)

     

    October -- Dracula Untold (Universal), Paranormal Activity 5 (Paramount)

     


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    Sequels are often maligned and rarely live up to the original film on which they are based. Many sequels are thrown together, poorly written, low budget attempts to capitalize on the success of the original. However, that’s not always the case. In rare instances, sequels have even gone on to be better than their predecessor. Last December, we ran a feature exploring some of the horror titles we think should have been given the sequel treatment. Since it proved popular, we are bringing you a second round. See the first installment of this feature here.

    Below, you can take a look at more of the horror films that we would like to have seen a sequel made for. 

    Session 9

    There are no credible reports of a planned sequel for this horror masterpiece but it would definitely be welcome by my assessment. The ending left enough to the imagination that there would be potential territory for a second installment to cover. It would be interesting to see a Session Nine sequel that provided a little more back story – by way of flashback - about the events that led up to what happened in the first film. 

    Vamp

    The concept of a gentleman’s club that is run by vampires who feed on unsuspecting men was a great set up and it’s a shame that the idea wasn’t explored in any follow up efforts. Since the majority of the cast didn’t survive the first film, a sequel would be well justified in introducing an entirely new cast of characters running The After Dark Club and preying upon unsuspecting men. Beyond that, the follow up could go in any number of directions and as long as it kept the mostly lighthearted tone of the original, it would be a move well made. 

    Zombieland

    There have been longstanding rumors about a second installment to Zombieland. As for now, it looks like the project is on hold. A series pilot was produced for Amazon but, unfortunately it wasn’t great and the response was less than positive. Naturally, no follow up episodes were ordered. If a theatrical sequel does become a reality, we look forward to seeing Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg reprising their roles as Tallahassee and Columbus.  

    Bubba Ho-Tep

    Bubba Ho-Tep was a brilliant film and another testament to Don Coscarelli’s prowess and versatility and a filmmaker. There was a planned sequel that was going to continue the adventures of an aging Elvis Presley as he struck out on his next adventure. Unfortunately, it seems that Bruce Campbell lost interest in the part and the film never came to fruition. Presumably, the film would have Elvis facing off against a creature of the undead variety and would be filled with Coscarelli’s signature sense of humor. It may never happen, but we hope it does. 

    Tales from the Dark Side

    This classic George A. Romero anthology series turned feature film is the perfect setup for a series. Since the film relies on a series of vignettes rather than only one continuous thread, a follow up wouldn’t require that any onscreen talent from the first film return, thus making the overall production cost more manageable. It would be terrific to see Romero and Stephen King collaborating on a second film some day. 

    The Strangers

    The idea of a Strangers II has been kicked around for so long that the chances of it actually being realized are probably close to nonexistent. That’s disappointing because the original left the story extremely open ended, seemingly alluding to a second installment. The protagonists were so sociopathic and ruthless that they could easily scare audiences back to theaters for another round. 

    Maniac

    At one point, there was a planned sequel to this 1980 grindhouse sleaze-fest. Joe Spinell had plans to star in a follow up but as a different character. The character Spinell was going to play was not necessarily associated with Frank from the original but would still have been a murdering psycho. A seven-minute promo reel was put together but the film never advanced beyond that point, due to a lack of willing financiers. Joe Spinell passed away in the late eighties, so we’ll likely never get to see a proper sequel to this classic tale of boy meets girl, boy kills girl, boy scalps girl and adorns mannequin with her skin. However, last year’s remake was excellent and is certainly better than nothing at all. 

    Chopping Mall

    This Roger Corman produced story of shopping center shenanigans was a totally bizarre but surprisingly original film. The ruthless and nearly indestructible ‘kill-bots’ were a fantastic adversary and could easily have been reintroduced in a different mall setting where another group of security robots find cause to malfunction and begin killing another group of teenagers that end up in a mall after closing hours. 

    Freddy vs. Jason

    There was a sequel in the works that never materialized, but it has not been taken off the table entirely. There is still the distant possibility of a second go around. Loyal fans would likely flock to theaters to see two of the most notorious horror baddies face off one more time. The concept doesn’t require a lot of back-story or set up; we ultimately just want to see the pair knock off some horny teenagers and then duke it out till the bitter end. 

    The Fog

    John Carpenter’s 1980 supernatural horror film had a unique set up and a great cast. The concept would have been much better served in the form of a sequel, rather than a remake. The 2004 reimagining was unnecessary and just rehashed the same story with less precision and did not do justice to the original. A sequel set in Antonio Bay one hundred years later would allow the film to follow a lot of cues from the original while branching out and exploring new territory. 


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    Beneath the M. Steinert and Sons piano store on Boylston Street in Boston lies a once-famous underground theater that has been abandoned and nearly forgotten for decades.
     
    Theater2
    Photo by Greig Lamont
     
    Steinert Hall was one of Boston's most famous concert venues in the early 20th century, and had the reputation as “headquarters for the musical and artistic world of cultured Boston” before it closed its doors due to safety regulations 70 years ago. In a recent feature on BuzzFeed, photographer Greig Lamont said the site has been abandoned for so long that most employees of the store are unaware of the 650-seat auditorium beneath their feet.
     
    Theater1
    Photo by Greig Lamont
     
    Although its structure is mostly intact, the hall has suffered massive water damage, making it unlikely this landmark will ever be restored to its former glory. Paul Murphy, president of Steinert and Sons, told the Boston Globe that repairs to the theater would cost around $6 million.
     
    You can see many more of Lamont's haunting photos of Steinert Hall here.

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    There is no shortage of good genre TV out there - but that doesn’t mean we don’t have room for more. Here are four new series that we are looking forward to in 2014. These aren’t new seasons of our favorite shows; these are new shows that will bring a little extra doom and gloom to the boob tube next year.

    Penny Dreadful

    With Dexter officially buried at Showtime, the cabler needs something dark to take its place. Enter Penny Dreadful, a period piece set in Victorian London with literature’s darkest figures: Dorian Grey, Dr. Frankenstein and his creation, and Dracula. The series stars Eva Green (Dark Shadows), Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night, The Black Dahlia), and Timothy Dalton (James Bond). Look for it in March on Showtime. 

    The Strain

    Guillermo del Toro does vampires. I can get behind that. Based on the novel series he co-wrote with Chuck Hogan, The Strain envisions vampirism as a virus - and it is set to infect New York. With a pilot written and directed by del Toro, and a cast that includes Sean Astin (The Lord of the Ring), Mia Maestro (The Twilight Saga), Corey Stoll (The Bourne Legacy), David Bradley (The World’s End), and Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution), this one feels like a safe bet. Look for it in July on FX.

    Outcast

    The king of The Walking Dead is moving into exorcisms. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman sold a new TV series based on his upcoming comic series, Outcast. The comic and TV show will center on Kyle Barnes, a man who has been plagued by possession ever since he was a child. As an adult, searching for answers, he discovers an answer that could lead to the end of life as we know it on Earth. If Outcast does for exorcisms what The Walking Dead did for zombies, TV will be a little darker next year. The series sold to Cinemax - can you imagine what kind of insanity will be unleashed from Kirkman’s brain on a pay TV channel? The pilot has not yet gone into production, so even if it does get picked up, there is no guarantee it will air in 2014.

    Scream

    This one kind of seems like a long-shot. The scripted series for MTV based on the Scream film franchise was announced in 2012, but it wasn’t until April of this year that a pilot was officially ordered. Wes Craven is allegedly on to direct, with script duties going to Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie (Revenge, Criminal Minds). No cast has been announced, and the best we can get by way of plot is that it will have nothing to do with the film franchise, and it will have supernatural elements. Um… okay. Frankly, I don’t know if the series will actually go, but if it does, MTV is looking to premiere in summer 2014, likely as a companion piece to Teen Wolf


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    With the internet (and FEARnet’s carefully curated gift guide) there is no reason that anyone should be searching for last-minute gifts. But let’s say you are. You could always give cash or a gift card… or you could give an actual present, that shows you actually thought about the recipient (even if it was only five minutes ago). Below are some great gifts that can be purchased - and delivered - digitally.

    Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas

    This massive book on all things Mario Bava is available in a print edition - for $250. Or you can get a digital copy for your computer or iPad, with loads of bonus video, for under $30. 

    A Heavy Metal Christmas by Christopher Lee

    What better way to celebrate Christmas than with horror legend Christopher Lee?

    The Complete Locke & Key

    One of the must-have horror comics, Locke & Key comes to us from Joe Hill. It was supposed to be a TV series at Fox a few years ago, but it died on the vine. Get an idea of what the world is missing by catching up with the entire Locke & Key series, bundled into one digital collection by Comixology.

    The 7th Guest for iPad

    First released in 1993, The 7th Guest is a classic of horror video games, and was one of the first games that was only released on CD-ROM. It contained a huge amount of pre-rendered 3D graphics, video clips, and impressive puzzles. It might seem a little quaint now, but die-hard gamers will appreciate a portable version of this classic.

    We Are What We Are

    One of my favorite horror films of 2013, We Are What We Are is a quiet, effective story about family and cannibalism. A remake of a 2010 Mexican film, the new one is just as good - with no subtitles.


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    Sorority Party Massacre

    We all know by now that slasher villains just love to kill young, scantily clad babes, which is why sorority houses makes for the absolute perfect playground for those with a penchant for wearing masks and carrying around sharp objects.  Not surprisingly, many horror movies over the years have indeed used sorority houses as their settings, from Black Christmas to The House on Sorority Row.  The latest addition to the sorority slashers sub-genre is Sorority Party Massacre, which Anchor Bay is putting out on home video early next year.

    Sorority Party Massacre

    Directed by Chris W. Freeman and Justin Jones, Sorority Party Massacre centers on the slashings of beautiful sorority babes on an isolated island town, where one girl has gone missing for each of the last 20 years.  When a big-city cop and the small town's local sheriff begin to investigate the string of mysterious disappearances, they soon realize they're dealing with a serial killer - one who doesn't plan on curbing his violent desires.  The throwback horror-comedy stars Kevin Sorbo, Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil's Rejects) and Ron Jeremy.

    Look for Sorority Party Massacre on DVD February 11th of next year!


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    If you're fed up with all those warm and fuzzy Christmas images dancing in your head today, we've got the perfect alternative: a truly twisted short by BuzzFeed's Ze Frank will literally rip the stuffing (and more) out of your childhood by depicting some bizarre, whimsical and horrifying do-it-yourself surgery on a seemingly ordinary teddy bear.
     
    Teddy1
     
    This isn't the first bizarro video project from Frank (his “True Facts” series features horrors from the animal kingdom similar to those we've spotlighted here), but it's probably his most notorious. 
     
    Teddy2
     
    Thanks to the whimsical story-time narration, you might not think it's going to be nearly as horrific as it ultimately turns out to be... but just hang on. You'll definitely have something to share with your friends tonight. Merry Christmas!
     

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