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    The Academy Award nominations have been announced and cinephiles are scrambling to catch up on the Best Picture honorees before the big ceremony. Not everyone is a fan of Oscar, though. Perhaps you are already sick of hearing about the Wolf of Wall Street controversy or Matthew McConaughey's weight loss. If you prefer something a little more scary, silly, and/or gory than what the Academy Awards has to offer, here are nine comparable alternatives for horror fans.

    Instead of: Gravity
    Watch: Europa Report (2013)
    While Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is arguably a horror movie itself (and a gorgeous one at that), it was not the only critically-acclaimed space-terror film of last year. Sebastián Cordero directed an international cast of actors in this tense sci-fi/horror about a space crew seeking alien life on Jupiter's moon.  Just when we were all sick of found footage, Europa Report proved there is still life in the subgenre. 

    Instead of: Her
    Watch: Love Object (2003)
    In Spike Jonze's Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays a writer who forms a relationship with his newly purchased operating system, which has artificial intelligence and a female voice. In Love Object, Desmond Harrington (Dexter) plays a technical writer who forms a relationship with his newly purchased sex doll, which has anatomically-correct silicone parts. Since this is a horror film, naturally the doll becomes sentient and jealous of her owner's budding crush on a flesh-and-blood female co-worker. 

    Instead of: Nebraska
    Watch: Dead End (2003)
    In Nebraska, an old boozehound father takes his estranged son on a road trip to retrieve a sweepstakes ticket he won. For a family road trip horror film, I recommend 2003's Dead End, starring Ray Wise as a whiskey-guzzling father taking his family to the in-laws' house for Christmas. When he decides to take an unfamiliar shortcut, the family becomes lost and experiences ghostly visions. The film is creepy, funny, and in color (unlike Nebraska)! 

    Instead of: The Wolf of Wall Street
    Watch: American Psycho (2000)
    For a horror film about yuppie Wall Street scum like Martin Scorcese's latest, look no further than American Psycho. Christian Bale, also nominated for an Oscar this year, played Patrick Bateman, the wealthy investment banker with a secret psychotic side. Both films are full of coked-up, 80s Wall Street types doing disgusting things. Funny enough, the producers of American Psycho originally wanted Wolf star Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead role but director Mary Harron insisted upon Bale. Leo's portrayal of Jordan Belfort is how I imagine it might have looked if the Psycho producers got their way. 

    Instead of: Philomena
    Watch: Dark Waters (1994)
    In Philomena, Judi Dench goes looking for her long-lost son, who was taken away from her when she was put into a convent as a young girl. The film has stirred some controversy among nuns who say they are portrayed as villains in the film for forcing the young mother to give up her child. Well, for a horror flick with some very villainous sisters, check out the Italian nunsploitation, Dark Waters. It's also about an English woman seeking information about her estranged family at a convent, but this lady uncovers something much more terrifying than Steve Coogan.

    Instead of: Dallas Buyers Club
    Watch: Contracted (2013)
    If the topic of AIDS is a little too heavy for you, why not watch a woman grotesquely deteriorate from a nasty STD in last year's indie horror, Contracted? Najarra Townsend plays Samantha, a young lesbian who gets drugged, raped, and given a disease from a stranger (Simon Barrett, no less) at a party. This is no ordinary clap or herp, as Samantha's body starts doing very bad things. Unfortunately for Sam, there is no Los Angeles Buyers Club so (lucky for body horror fans) this nasty thing just has to play out.

    Instead of: American Hustle
    Watch: The Honeymoon Killers (1969)
    In David O. Russell's latest, Christian Bale plays an overweight con artist with a hideous comb-over who falls in love with Amy Adams, and together they trick losers out of their money in the late 1970s. In The Honeymoon Killers, Tony Lo Bianco is toupee-wearing con artist who seduces a lonely nurse (Shirley Stoler). Much like Adams' character, this one does not mind her new boyfriend's line of work, and together they go on a killing spree in the late 1940s. 

    Instead of: 12 Years a Slave
    Watch: The St. Francisville Experiment (2000)
    In 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup is kidnapped and enslaved on Louisiana plantations, where he endures much emotional suffering and physical torture. It's a non-traditional horror movie in its own right. For a more typical type of horror film, perhaps check out The St. Francisville Experiment, which is loosely based on the true history of Delphine LaLaurie who tortured and killed countless Louisiana slaves. In this movie, paranormal investigators spend the night in the LaLaurie home which is haunted by the ghosts of black slaves.  It's a crappy cash-in on the Blair Witch popularity, but the history behind it (which is truly scary) certainly echoes the horrors of Northup's true story. 

    Instead of: Captain Phillips
    Watch: Deep Rising (1998)
    In this high-seas tale of terror, the armed hijackers are actually the good guys! Treat Williams and a team of mercenaries board a damaged luxury cruise ship intent on robbing its vault. Instead, they have to save the day when they encounter large, tentacled sea creatures. I bet Tom Hanks never had to deal with that! Look at Treat Williams, he's the captain now!

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    Daryl Dixon

    Gentle Giant is one of those toy companies that takes toys to a whole different level, and thankfully for us horror fans, The Walking Dead is one of the licenses they have at their disposal.  In addition to mini busts and even a prop replica of Rick Grimes' badge, the company will also soon be releasing polystone statues of Michonne and Merle Dixon, who can be pre-ordered now and will ship out later this year.  Joining them is Merle's popular brother Daryl, who also just went up for pre-order.

    Daryl Dixon

    As we spotted over on Daily Dead, the 18" Daryl Dixon statue is digitally sculpted and cold cast in polystone, and everyone's favorite zombie killer is decked out in a removable cloth poncho.  Each and every one of the limited edition pieces is hand-painted and numbered, coming complete with a certificate of authenticity.  At $450 each, the price tag isn't cheap, but if you're a fan of Daryl, you won't find a collectible that's more highly detailed and screen-accurate than this one.

    You can pre-order the statue, and all of Gentle Giant's Walking Dead offerings, over on their website.  Like Michonne and Merle, Daryl will ship out late this year, in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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    Ever since Mary Shelley first cooked up the idea for the Frankenstein Monster we, as a horror-loving public, have been hooked. The apocryphal story of the moaning-one's creation may be as tall of a tale as 'Frankenstein' itself, but it lends to the drama of the story. A dark and stormy night, Mary Shelley hanging out with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, sipping some drinks, challenging each other to create the perfect horror story. And then, late at night, Mary Shelley dreams of a groaning man made of dead flesh! A long chain from novel to play to films and other media have brought us, today, to the release of I, Frankenstein, a post-apocolyptic thriller starring the hulking monstrosity. No ensuing portrayal of the monster will match the terror of Shelley's first nightmare. But many have followed, and today we're taking a look at a few of our favorite depictions of Frankenstein's Monster.

    Charles Stanton Ogle in 'Frankenstein' (1910)

    We can't have a list like this without giving a shout-out to the first, and possibly one of the creepiest-looking, depictions of the monster. Though considered lost for many years, the 16 minute silent film Frankenstein has been found, is fantastic, and is the first attempt to film the novel. Though the plot is short and sickly sweet (Frankenstein banishes the monster from reality through his love for his new bride), the monster is a lumbering mess. This is a far cry from the near-handsome Karloff depiction, and its one of the reasons we love Ogle as the monster.

    Boris Karloff in 'Frankenstein' (1931)

    Imagine what a shock it would have been, sitting in a movie theater late November, 1931. The room goes dark, the film begins, Edward Van Sloan warns audiences that this film might horrify them, and then it begins. At this point in history I can't imagine a world without Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster. It is so ingrained in my cultural landscape, along with Bella Lugosi as Dracula, that it's hard to picture seeing this for the first time. The posters were sensational, the movie was a masterpiece, and Karloff provided more empathy and pathos in his portrayal of the monster than any that have followed. This was like lightning striking: the perfect director, the perfect horror film, the perfect actor for the job.

    Koji Furuhata in 'Frankenstein Conquers the World' (1965)

    Whoa, what a storyline on this Toho monster movie. This Kaiju film starts during the end of World War II, with Axis forces seizing the "immortal heart of Frankenstein." Years later, we cut to a wild child running around the streets of Hiroshima, growing stronger from food and radiation. Eventually, that kid turns into a giant version of Frankenstein, and just in time, too, as the classic Toho monster Baragon begins to rampage across Japan. In one of the most awesome showdowns in Frankenstein's history, he beats the crap out of Baragon and they both get sucked into a hole in the earth. The End.

    Tom Noonan in 'The Monster Squad' (1987)

    Sure Noonan's monster may be the lackey to Dracula, but in this late '80's horror/comedy he's one of the best characters in the story. Tom Noonan, a horror and genre mainstay, was perfectly cast of the lumbering hulk with a heart of gold. When Dracula and company return to earth from limbo and attempt to terrorize, it's up to a gang of plucky kids to save the day. And without the help of Frankenstein's monster at the end of the film, we'd all be in pretty big trouble. Look at that adorable Frankenstein face! How can you say no to that big lug?

    Robert De Niro in 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein' (1994)

    And the award for fleshiest Frankenstein's monster goes to… Robert De Niro. In this Kenneth Branagh directed adaptation cast and crew strive to be as faithful to the source material as possible. The result, unfortunately, was a crazy monster movie starring an amazing monster. De Niro is irresistible to watch (even though he is disgusting to behold) but the scope of the film is a bit too huge. That being said, if you've never seen this version of the tale you have to check it out. If for the sole reason that Robert De Niro plays Frankenstein's monster. What?

    Will I, Frankenstein hold up among these stellar (and weird) entries into the franchise? Will Aaron Eckhart be able to pull compassion from the withered corpse of Frankenstein's monster? Time will tell, and until we see it, we'll just keep watching Monster Squad.

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    Produced by Jesse Baget and written and directed by BC Furtney, Ruthless Pictures’ Werewolf Rises stars Melissa Carnell (Boggy Creek), Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies), Matt Copko and Brian Berry (Peter Rottentail), and revolves around the character of Emma (Carnell), who after leaving for the big city returns years later (and with big problems) to her childhood home deep in the Arkansas mountains for some well needed rest, relaxation, and soul searching, only to find that her challenges have compounded. A bloodthirsty werewolf emerges from the woods to lay siege to the area, ravaging anything in its path, and revealing a sinister underworld that most never knew existed. With a full moon hanging over the area, Emma is plunged into a fight not only for her life, but for her very soul.
    Furtney talked to FEARNET about the film, which was filmed over the course of thirteen days last December. “We wrapped just before Christmas in the sleepy town of Glenwood, Arkansas. Our first stop when we arrived was to inform the local police that any reports that they may receive of gunshots and/or screaming up the mountain was just us playing make-believe. And, of course, any sightings of a 7-foot-tall wolf-man, as it did cross our minds that some good ol' boy might not be privy to a film in the area, catch sight of our beast, and open fire. Thankfully, the locals were super cool and accommodating. There were no fatalities to report, and our two weeks there were a great experience!”
    As for what drew him to directing a lycanthrope flick: “What initially attracted me was producer Jesse Baget, calling to ask if I'd be interested in doing a werewolf film,” said Furtney.
    “Jesse gets things done, and any time collaborating with him is a good time. Once I buckled in and started writing, my usual characters started to emerge: flawed, driven, and morphing. I realized that maybe I'd been writing werewolf stories all along, and was finally just getting to add the ‘wolf’ aspect. The screenplay spilled out over the course of a weekend and, with just a few tweaks, it's what we shot.”
    Furtney’s childhood, which he partially spent glued to the television, assisted in his attraction as well.
    “Growing up, I remember staying up all night Saturdays in Pittsburgh to watch Haunted Hollywood on WPXI-TV, and Universal's The Wolf Man was my introduction to the creature,” he offered. “I literally saw it about fifty times. Later, the film The Howling blew my mind, and it’s still my favorite werewolf film; to this day I still have a crush on Dee Wallace because of that movie.”
    Regarding what new elements fans of the sub-genre can expect in Werewolf Rises: “I think a strong back-story, and some well-developed characters on top of the madness swirling around them, meaning the blood, fur, and the fangs,” answered Furtney. “That, and our main character, Emma, played by Melissa (Carnell), is one hell of a femme fatale. But don't take my word for it. Check it out and see for yourself, and I hope you enjoy!”
    Currently in post-production, distribution for Werewolf Rises will be announced by Ruthless Pictures shortly, so stick around. Visit the film's official Facebook page and "Like" for more info.

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    As we often do, especially when dealing with Part 3s that originate from outside of North America, we'll open with a recap. Outpost (2007) gave us some modern-day mercenaries who stumble across an undead creature that's been waiting for victims since WWII. Outpost 2: Black Sun (2012) focused on a platoon of NATO experts who respond to the previous carnage -- which leads to even more carnage. The second chapter gave us a few glimpses of the WWII origins of the Nazi Zombie Stormtrooper Monsters...

    ... but it's Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2014) that takes us back to 1945 and offers a fitfully amusing prequel to this progressively sillier indie horror franchise. 
    As a horror junkie who sort of enjoyed the first two Outpost flicks, even I'll have to admit that Part 3 is probably the weakest of the lot, but screenwriter Rae Brunton, who co-wrote the previous chapters, has just enough ideas to close the trilogy out with a dash of color. Steve Barker, director of Outpost and Black Sun, has been replaced by franchise producer Kieran Parker, and he does a workmanlike job with a plainly limited budget, a one-location setting, and a scope that's clearly a little bit smaller than the previous movies.
    Outpost 3 is basically a "mad scientist" tale in a "prison escape" package, and if you're a hard-working horror fan who knows a bit about the first two entries, you'll appreciate at least the second sequel's bleak look, grim sense of humor, and frequent doses of blood-soaked fisticuffs, gunfights, and monster attacks. If this entry lacks the sleazy novelty of the previous pair (we get it, they're hulking undead zombie Nazis), at least it delivers an action-packed presentation of, well, rather predictable genre tropes, cliches, and conventions. Let's just say that our hero, a Russian prisoner, has a sidekick who must "fight back" against a biological infection to help save the day. Exactly. You know what's going to happen, but it's kinda fun anyway.
    Boasting some solid gore effects and a very expeditious pace (once the flick gets into the evil scientist's underground lair, that is) and offering just enough of a nod to the original Outpost to keep fans happy, Rise of the Spetsnaz is little more than action / horror / war movie lunacy that you may come across on cable one night, but if the idea of action, horror, and war movie lunacy sounds like fun to you, I'd say start at Outpost Uno and work your way through. These are basically comic-book horror stories, but they're all kinda fun.


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    As it turns out, the famous “No More Tears” baby shampoo – a familiar and trusted product in family bathrooms for generations – used to be a whole lot creepier than its squeaky-clean reputation would have you believe.
    According to an article in The New York Times, the new “Improved Formula” Johnson's Baby Shampoo, which Johnson & Johnson has been rolling out to stores since late last year, has been modified to remove a few ingredients... includingformaldehyde, a chemical commonly used in embalming. (Did you ever dissect a frog in Biology lab? Remember that unholy smell? Same stuff.)
    Image: Laura Pedrick, New York Times
    After pressure from safety groups and major store chains, Johnson is eliminating the preservative and other potential toxins from the the shampoo, as well as a hundred other baby products. While they rank high among eco-friendly manufaturers, the company has still wrestled with a public-relations challenge by removing these ingredients, while assuring consumers that their products have always been safe.
    They also stress there is more naturally-occurring formaldehyde in an apple than in 15 bottles of baby shampoo. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make me feel better, but there you go.

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    With Image Entertainment set to release the horror feature The Invoking to DVD/VOD this coming February 18th, we thought it high time to touch base with the flick’s sales agent Jesse Baget, and the result was a batch of behind-the-scenes production stills, as well as word on the film.


    Directed by Jeremy Berg, who co-wrote with John Portanova from a story by Berg and Matt Medisch, The Invoking stars Trin Miller, Brandon Anthony, D'Anagelo Midili, Andi Norris and Josh Trux, and revolves around the character of Samantha (Miller), who, when visiting her ancestral home, finds that forgotten memories begin to seep back to the surface. As her sanity slowly unravels, she finds herself unable to tell the difference between reality and a series of terrifying visions... visions she soon discovers may be tied to a horrifying past deeply buried in her memory, a past she cannot escape.


    “It's a finely crafted psychological horror film that I'm thrilled to be a part of,” Baget said of the flick, for which his company Ruthless Pictures served as sales agent. “The leads turn in great performances and the movie keeps you guessing as it unfolds. There's some great scares, and I think horror fans will really dig this indie thriller.”

    For more info on The Invoking, be sure to "like" their official Facebook page.

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    Teen Wolf Episode 315
    Written By: Eoghan O’Donnell
    Directed By: Robert Hall
    Original Airdate: 20 January 2014

    In This Episode…

    The hospital is on lockdown as Agent McCall and a dozen other cops and agents transport a prisoner in for surgery. His name is William Barrow, a clearly insane guy who, about a year ago, walked onto a school bus with a bomb. Five children died, and another lost his legs. Since then, Barrow has repeated continually that, if he is released, he will do it again. Barrow is at the hospital to have shrapnel removed from his chest. Melissa does the pre-op interview, and she just has to ask: why? “I saw their eyes,” he says. “Their eyes glowed.” 

    During surgery, Barrow’s chest is open - but that is not shrapnel they find in his chest. It is a big, grayish tumor that is pulsating. It explodes, and swarms of flies escape, causing havoc in the operating room. Barrow wakes, attacks the doctors with a stolen scalpel, and runs. Despite the fact that his chest is open, Barrow escapes before the cops arrive. He has stolen an ambulance and holes up in the school - which is now on lockdown.

    Despite being on lockdown, the school seems to be operating pretty normally. Classes are still in session; Coach is dealing with a mischief night prank; the twins re-enroll in school and Aidan runs off to hook up with Lydia. But Barrow is hiding out in the school. He uses a staple gun to crudely close up his chest (how he is not in shock I will never understand) then skulks around the school. Melissa sneaks in Barrow’s clothing so that Scott, Isaac, and the twins can catch his scent and hunt him down. They split up into groups and scour the basement with plans to meet up at the boiler room.

    Lydia and Stiles are searching upstairs. The cops have left the school after an “eyewitness” places Barrow across town. But Lydia has been hearing a sound like flies all morning, and believes that this is her super-psychic-banshee sense telling her Barrow is nearby. While discussing Barrow with Stiles, it is Lydia who suggests that having the four “kids with glowing eyes” meeting in a boiler room that can easily be rigged to blow up is not the best plan. Stiles pulls the fire alarm to evacuate the school.

    Lydia and Stiles go to his house to try to work out where Barrow is and how they can find him. Allison and Isaac are at her house, checking in the Beastiary for anything referencing flies. Scott is invited over to Kira’s house (by her father) for dinner.

    Stiles figures out why the werewolves couldn’t track Barrow’s scent, and takes Lydia back to school to show her. He was messing around in the science lab and the chemicals masked his scent. So he was in the school - perhaps he still is - and the two set about checking the lab. Lydia recognizes three atomic element numbers written out of the chalkboard. When Lydia adds their abbreviations, it spells out Kira. Kira is the one that Barrow is after, not the werewolves.

    Scott is leaving Kira’s house when he is bashed over the head and knocked unconscious. Stiles and Lydia wake him, and they are all on the same page. Barrow used to be an electrical engineer who worked at a power sub-station not far from there, so the trio take that as their best bet at finding Barrow and Kira.

    Sure enough, Barrow has Kira tied up in the power sub-station, torturing her with huge, glowing live wires. So far he hasn’t touched her, it has all been scare tactics. Scott rushes in, insisting that Kira is not the one Barrow wants. He knocks Scott back and returns his attention to Kira. As he gets closer, an electrical storm whips up, knocking Barrow out and causing all the electricity in the room to flow into Kira like a superhero. The whole town is blacked out.

    During this blackout, Isaac is locked in Allison’s room, alone - with several ghoulish demons dancing about.

    Also: Derek reveals that the cylinder container holds four fangs from his mother, the only parts left after the fire. He makes Peter stab his fingers with the fangs, then transfer whatever he saw or experienced into Derek. All we see is Derek in a dream world, meeting his mother (as a wolf) in front of the nemeton.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    How weird is it to see Doug Jones as the bad guy? I’m used to seeing him behind lots of prosthetic makeup on screen. When he is not beneath makeup, he is the nicest guy ever. Seriously, I have never met a kinder, gentler soul. So to see him play an insane killer - and play him so well - is a bit jarring. I just wanted to give him a hug.

    I wish that more of the episode was focused on Barrow. It started out there, and was really intense and engrossing. That was my favorite storyline. But then, in the middle of this manhunt, Scott goes to a dinner party and jokes about sushi. Allison and Isaac are kinda flirting / kinda working. And we are still only getting slivers of the Derek / Peter storyline. Give us more, or give us nothing!

    And are the kids no longer crazy? Have they shut the doors in their minds? That wasn’t a factor in tonight’s episode.

    Best. Moment. Ever.

    There were a lot of great, funny moments tonight. One of my favorites was between Isaac and Allison. He tries to kiss her, and she pulls away, adamant that she won’t get involved with a werewolf again. Isaac tries to taunt her by taking off his shirt. Allison returns the favor, less in a “I want to rip my clothes off and have sex with you” way and more in a “Let’s see who can hold out longest” kind of way. Of course, her dad chooses now to walk in. He demands that Allison come talk with him in his office - “where I keep my guns.” They go and a moment later, Chris bellows, ANOTHER WEREWOLF?!


    Bad shit goes down at a rave. Which I wish was a more alarming sentence, but let’s be honest: that’s a pretty general descriptor for a rave.

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    It’s not often one sees a genre director ascend the independent film ladder as Jim Mickle has in the last two years. At Sundance 2013, his We Are What We Are was the clear favorite of the midnight slate, going all the way to Cannes after its Park City debut. How does a young filmmaker follow that up? Strike while the iron is hot. Mickle is back only 12 months later, and this time he’s in competition with an adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s Cold in July, a genre hybrid that is almost certain to divide audiences. It’s a unique thrill ride with echoes of John Carpenter and Michael Mann but filtered through Mickle’s growing visual confidence and remarkable skill at telling a story. It’s not an easy work to describe in standard genre terms, which is certain to frustrate some viewers and thrill others. Michael C. Hall plays an average Texas father in 1989, whose life is shattered when someone breaks into his house and the family man defends his home. Honestly, any more than that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, it’s a film about how an act of violence can open a path to an even-more-violent world than we’d like to think exists. With Sam Shepard’s best performance in years and great supporting work from Don Johnson, Cold in July is not your standard Sundance competition film. And that’s just the way Jim likes it.

    Does it feel different this year?

    Yes. But I’m trying to think of exactly how. I think there are different expectations because it’s not a traditional horror thing and so that means that there’s a different sense of “what it might be.” Now, I’m kind of filled with expectations of what the response might be. With We Are What We Are, we took our own stance but it was still a remake, so people knew the general concept. This is based on a book but it’s also stylistically…we do things very differently and so I’m wondering how that is going to go over.

    Being in competition has to feel a little different too. Does it make you feel more pressure?

    Yeah. I think so. Last year, not that it’s under the radar but it’s in a sidebar [the “Midnight” programming]. There’s a slight sense of “It’s a horror movie, what’s it going to amount to?” In a way, I think that helped the film last year because we were striving for something more and we could stand out. This year, it’s almost the opposite – a genre thing in competition. And we have bigger names. Everything ratchets up a little bit.

    You’re a “genre thing” but what fucking genre? As I took notes, I was like drama-thriller-mystery-comedy-horror. How do you balance that many genres and keep the rhythm and not make it feel like you’re lurching through a bunch of short films?

    Editing. And we spent six years on the script. That’s a long time. And balancing it all through Michael – through his character. We talked about “As long as you’re the through line in this. As long as your journey is what sort of holds all the stuff together, that’s what’s going to work.” A lot of it was the point of view, which, hopefully, holds it together.

    Without spoiling, there are points where it does feel like it almost becomes Sam’s [Shepard] story. And you have to be conscious to bring that back. Did you ever feel like it was both of their stories?

    Totally. I still do. It’s hard without getting into spoilers but I remember people early on saying that it started as Michael’s story and then became Sam’s story and they would say it like it was a bad thing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We’re used to watching movies with a hard through line. I hope that’s what’s refreshing about this. I like movies that are going to do something like that. If it works and it’s emotionally satisfying, hopefully the audience gives over in a way that you don’t give over when it’s spoon-fed. 

    I think this is your riskiest project to date. You have to know that not everybody will go on this genre-jumping journey. And yet others will love that riskiness about it. So, are you prepared for that “This may not be for everybody” response?

    Yeah, I am. I am prepared. I think we need more films that do shake things up. This came around at a time when I was reading a lot of scripts and seeing a lot of movies where five minutes in I could tell you exactly which category it was going to fall into and where it was going to end and who was going to live and who was going to die. I don’t know. You get to a point, not even as a filmmaker but as a film watcher, where you get really jaded. Expectations are lowered. Hopefully, this belongs in a category that shakes that up. To tell a story, after Mulberry Street– it debuted at SxSW and didn’t have an amazing response. The audience was eh and our first couple reviews were really bad. We met with some of the sales people and somebody said, “Oh, so what are you going to change?” “What am I going to change?” “Yeah, you can use some of the feedback from audiences and critics. It’s a common thing.” And I was like, “I’m happy with the film. If I wasn’t happy with the film, I’d think about it.” They told me that within the horror genre, there are six definable sub-genres and if you’re audience can’t tell within the first ten minutes which genre it falls into, they lose it. It’s become a sales tool. It blew my mind. 

    The film is so visually confident in that it doesn’t always explain itself or its characters like so many horror films. Can you talk a bit about using visuals instead of dialogue or traditional plot beats to build tension and tell your story?

    The hardest part about this is that Joe is a very verbose writer. He’s defined by characters that talk a lot. It was learning the art of adaptation and learning why things work in a book and not in a movie. The first draft was 160 pages. It had every scene, character, line of dialogue. We were so proud that we were so loyal but it screwed over the book because it’s a quick read. It’s a novella. You never stop to think about how things are adding up. You’re being bombarded. And we had lost that in an epic script. It was learning how to pare it down and strip it down. Sam’s character in the book talks all the time. [He doesn’t much in the film.] This works in the novel but it isn’t going to work on-screen. Sam, especially, is going to be able to say more with a look than this four-page dialogue scene. Learning that as we went…it was Nick who has the ability to pare things down. And Linda our producer. And then Sam came in and cut it down even further.

    Why Michael C. Hall? What does he bring that other actors wouldn’t?

    Fearlessness. I think he’s one of the great actors out there. Dexter was the hardest show for me to get into because I was such a Six Feet Under fan. My only hesitation ever about it was that the perception is that he’s a really complicated, not normal guy because of his characters. We’re going to have to go out of our way to make him seem normal. I met him at a party here and I was like “You’re the most normal guy I’ve ever met. That’s great!” It’s a testament to what a great actor he is. He wrapped Dexter and he came to set three days later. I don’t know if anyone else could have managed the tone as well as he did. He kept saying that he’s the guy who has to make it believable that Sam Shepard and Don Johnson can exist in the same movie. Literally and figuratively in the back seat. 

    Back to the origin. You read the book casually for pleasure and started talking to [collaborator] Nick [Damici] about it?

    Yeah, we did the sound mix for Mulberry Street in October 2006 and it had been two years of working on this very urban, very city horror film. I’m from a rural background and I didn’t want to make another city movie and I wanted to clear my head of that. I was a Lansdale fan and I had a stack and I thought it would help. I read a bunch and I think it was the third one in the stack and I read it in a couple hours. I was shaking with “This is so many different elements that I like in a way that I hadn’t seen.”

    It was written in ’89 and so that’s when the film is set but did you ever consider updating it?

    No. Kind of from the beginning. I think there’s a lot of things that it says about masculinity and manhood. It needs that timeless thing. If it’s too on the nose for now, it’s not going to work. We’re in a different era. All of our movies have a timeless feel and I think this couldn’t feel like today.

    I also see ‘70s and ‘80s film influences on this movie. Down to [Composer] Jeff [Grace’s] Tangerine Dream riff of a score.

    Yeah, totally. 

    You use score heavily in this film and it seems to change as the genre jumps. Talk about use of music as a tone-setter or even character.

    Jeff and I had been talking about it for years because this was what we were going to do before We Are What We Are but then that came about and we did that. Even during Stake Land, we were already talking about it. But if we had done it then, I don’t think we would have taken so many risks narratively. Also stylistically. I don’t think we would have gone as far. The extremes wouldn’t have been as extreme. Even musically, originally it was conceived as a Western. As the film came together, it took a life of its own and I started sending scenes to Jeff and I talking and I was watching a lot of these John Carpenter Blu-ray re-issues and I was just falling in love in with them. This is an era that was a really interesting era. There was a playfulness to these things. And the stories were more complicated in some ways. Even in basic thrillers, they were going for more. 

    Some people might say that this isn’t a horror movie and yet it kind of feels like one by the end. How do YOU define it? If you worked in a video store, where does this go?

    I have NO idea. And I love that I don’t know where to put it. And I love that it’s going to piss a lot of people off. I liked treating it as sort of a celebration of all of these things. We Are What We Are wore its heart on its sleeve emotionally and I wanted to make something that wore its heart on its sleeve in terms of movies – the stories that defined Joe’s career and ours.

    Cold in July premieres Saturday, January 18, 2014 at the Sundance Film Festival. 

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    With writer and director Evan Tramel’s horror feature The Black Water Vampire releasing today on DVD/VOD via Image Entertainment, we caught up with the flick’s producer Jesse Baget to discuss the project, and received an exclusive new poster and four never-before-seen stills in the process.


    Starring Danielle Lozeau (Legion), Andrea Monier (The Lady Killers), Anthony Fanelli, Robin Steffen and Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies), with special effects by Damien Leone and original music by Richard Figone, The Black Water Vampire follows the exploits of a documentary film crew who investigate a series of brutal killings known as the Black Water murders. As they delve deeper into the story, they stumble upon a horrifying secret... a secret they may not survive.


    Baget told us of the evolution on the project which was filmed in Big Bear, California over the course of fifteen days. “I was surprised that there hadn't been a ‘found footage’ vampire film done," he said, "and after seeing so many films with talking vampires, I really wanted to make one with a monster vampire that didn't have time for words.”


    As for what attracted him to the material: “I was interested in developing a film that seemed headed in a certain direction; in this case the investigation of a serial killer case, and then, just as the audience started to get comfortable, turn the plot on its head and introduce an element of sci-fi.”
    For more info on The Black Water Vampire, "Like" the film on its official Facebook page.

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    Reality television has given rise to a ridiculous new cult of celebrity, where you can become famous for a "private" sex tape gone public, a weird obsession, being a "real" housewife, or giving birth to a baby in a variety of less-than-ideal situations. While obviously someone out there must be watching this drivel for it to still be on television, I don't like it, and I have a feeling that most of you don't like it either.

    L.A. Slasher doesn't like it, either. The new film, directed by Martin Owen (his feature directorial debut) offers a "biting social satire of reality TV." The L.A. Slasher abducts reality stars and kills them publicly, leading the public to wonder if they are better off without these non-celebrities. The film stars Danny Trejo (Machete), Mischa Barton (The O.C.), Dave Bautista (Riddick), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), and Drake Bell (Superhero Movie), along with porn actress Tori Black and reality "stars" Brooke Hogan and Andy Dick.

    We've got an exclusive image for you:

    As well as a couple non-exclusive photos of the eponymous killer:


    L.A. Slasher has finished post-production and is waiting for distribution. Keep up with the L.A. Slasher on Twitter and Facebook

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    Aliens Minimates

    It was just about a year ago that Diamond Select Toys announced that they had acquired a license for Aliens, a property that toy company NECA has been making their own awesome contributions to of late.  One of Diamond Select's most popular style of toys is their Minimates, 2" tall block-style figures that have the simplicity of LEGOs, and properties ranging from Silence of the Lambs to The Walking Dead have thus far been immortalized in the unique style.  Up next, the Colonial Marines and their Xenomorph pals get their very own Minimates, which have just been unveiled and are soon headed into our lives.

    As reported by, the first wave of Aliens Minimates will be packaged together in a marines vs. aliens 12-pack box set, featuring Colonial Marine Wierzbowski, Dropship Pilot Spunkmeyer, Carter Burke and nine Xenomorphs, which will come in three different varieties - closed mouth, tongue out and battle damaged.  Each of the figures measures 2" tall, with 14 points of articulation, and will feature interchangeable parts and accessories.

    This is only the beginning of the Aliens Minimates line, which will in the future include electronic military transport vehicles.  Keep your eyes on Diamond Select Toys' website for release details.

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    Since 2006, some 80,000 people have been brutally murdered in Mexico, the result of ongoing wars between drug cartels.  Could it be that demonic possession is to blame for the horrific violence that's been plaguing the country for the past decade?  According to priests and religious experts in the area, it just might be.

    As reported by the NY Daily News, exorcisms have become the new weapon against drug violence in Mexico, with many priests claiming that the growing popularity of the folk icon known as Santa Muerte (Saint Death) has something to do with the increased penchant for violence amongst members of the many cartels in the area.  They believe that these ruthless killers are not evil people but rather that they've become vessels for demonic entities, and exorcisms are on the rise as a way to battle the evil inside of them.

    Father Ernesto Caro was recently visited by a member of the Los Zetas cartel, who confessed to him that he not only chopped many people to pieces, while they were still alive, but that he also enjoyed doing it.  After fourth months of weekly visits to the church, as part of an ongoing exorcism process, Caro says that the man is no longer interested in hurting anyone, and lives a peaceful nonviolent life.  "God sends me these people," he said.

    Check out video of a mass exorcism below, filmed inside of a Mexican church.

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    The Babadook

    All kids are scared of monsters hanging out under their beds and hiding in their closets.  But what happens when a parent is afraid of the very same monster as their child, and knows that it's not just a figment of a childhood imagination?

    That's the set-up for a new Australian horror film that's been scaring audiences at the Sundance Film Festival this month.  An Official Selection at the festival, The Babadook is the debut feature film of Jennifer Kent, which is based on a short film that she made back in 2005.  Early reviews have seen the words 'terrifying' and 'disturbing' attached to the movie, and if the creepy trailer is any indication, those are descriptive words that it indeed does earn.

    The film centers around mother Amelia and her six-year-old son Samuel, whose father was killed while Amelia was on the way to the hospital to give birth to him.  Initially finding herself unable to love Samuel, due to the connection to her husband's death, the two are brought together when a strange entity invades their home, which appears to be the same creature from a children's book that shows up at their house.

    Check out the trailer for The Babadook below, which doesn't yet have a release date.

    To hold you over until The Babadook comes out, click the play button to watch Monster, Jennifer Kent's 2005 short film that it's based on!

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    zombie snake

    As horror fans, we're no strangers to tales of revenge from beyond the grave.  While these stories are typically found within the confines of movies, one Australian man recently learned the hard way that they can sometimes occur in real life too.

    Australia's Border Mail reports that retired railywayman Jake Thomas paid a visit to his daughter's gravesite at the Werris Creek cemetery this past holiday season, when he noticed a large snake caught in a vase in front of a nearby headstone.  Though Thomas says he typically runs the other way when he sees snakes, this time around he was worried of it attacking fellow visitors to the cemetery, and so he decided to take matters into his own hands.  With half of the snake's body sticking out of the vase, Thomas picked up a shovel and cut the slithering creature clean in half.

    Nearly an hour later, when Thomas was finished tidying up his daughter's gravesite, he reached into the vase to extract the other half of the snake's lifeless body, and was shocked when its fangs sunk into his flesh.  With two razor sharp bites to his ring finger, Thomas was sent to the hospital, where he recovered after two days of intensive care treatment.

    Snake experts say that nerve reflexes allow snakes to deliver bites up to an hour after they're dead, which explains Thomas' horrifying ordeal.

    Zombie snakes... who knew?!

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    Hailing from Moscow, an amazing artist by the name of Santani creates some of the most detailed, realistic-looking monster dolls you'll ever see.
    Crafted from a variety of materials including plasticine, polymer clay and fake fur, these creatures walk the line between adorable and slightly unsettling... especially when they lock those huge, unblinking eyes on you. 
    Still, it's hard to resist the urge to hug them... come on, admit it.
    What began as a hobby is quickly turning into a career, as people all around the world are lining up to request custom critters.
    While she's still in the process of setting up Etsy and/or eBay stores to sell the dolls, Santani does take orders directly, and has posted the ordering information on her Deviant Art profile page

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    Phoenix, Arizona-based instrumental duo Tempel have been composing strange, vast and ominous soundscapes for over a decade, but this year finally brings the pair's first full-length album (three years in the making) to the ears of the world... and when it comes to haunting, doomy experimental metal, On the Steps of the Temple is epic as they come. The team of guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Wenzel and drummer Rich Corle have been compared with boundary-pushing “post-metal” legends Neurosis and experimental drone metallers Sunn O))) for their epic, sprawling canvases of heavy sonic doom, and the dark spectrum of sound that issues from these six new tracks is so massive, it's hard to believe it's the product of a two-piece band.
    Without the element of lyrics and vocals, a rock or metal album must find a different kind of voice, and Tempel accomplishes this by building layer upon layer of elaborate tonal and rhythmic textures to tell their tales. Frequent shifts in tempo and intensity help set the mood accordingly, enveloping the listener in booming, apocalyptic funeral dirges before repeatedly throttling them with a hailstorm of blastbeats and high-speed riffs, all while maintaining a very solid melodic foundation.
    Lulled into a sense of calm by the clean intro of “Mountain,” I was promptly blown across the room by the monolithic riffs that kick in to drive this opening cut; Wenzel's slowly ascending chords are low and dark, but race along at a furious clip on the back of Corle's anxious beats, filling the piece with a sense of impending destruction. The pace slows up a bit for the intense mid-tempo cut “Rising from the Abyss,” which is enhanced by threatening synth tones before breaking into mile-high stacks of colossal, multi-tracked doom chords. It carries the strongest cinematic tone, making it my favorite cut on the record. Along with the pensive, melancholy non-metal piece “Final Years,” it's an impressive demonstration of the band's tonal range.
    The sludgy, slow and boomy main riff of “The Mist That Shrouds the Peaks” pulls the album back into experimental doom turf, while maintaining the same hypnotic intensity we've heard up to this point. The tone lightens a bit for “Avaritia,” but the haunting, desert-dry plucked chords remind us we're exploring dark terrain here, and it peaks with a giallo-like vibe, enhanced by Mellotron-style choirs and burnished guitar leads. The record closes on the atmospheric title track, which starts moody and subdued before steadily morphing into a mammoth, high speed riff-beast reminiscent of Devin Townsend's more experimental projects, forming a suitably epic final curtain.
    Slow-burning and surprisingly infectious, On the Steps of the Temple is one of the darkest, most chilling releases in instrumental metal I've heard in the past year. While similar acts tend to venture into looser, more abstract soundscapes, Tempel maintains a solid melodic structure throughout the album, which takes the music a step beyond dark ambient noodling and actually makes the lengthy pieces speed by in a heartbeat. On the Steps may be perfect mood music for reading a ghost story by candlelight, but these tracks also have distinctive personalities that make them fairly unique to the doomier side of the genre.

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    Artist Jae Rhim Lee demonstrated a very unique way of confronting cultural attitudes about death when she took the stage in her new creation – the “Death Suit” – at the TED Global conference in 2011.
    Photo: James Duncan Davidson/TED
    While it doesn't look particularly threatening, the suit is designed to contain a type of fungus Lee calls the “Infinity Mushroom,” which she has specially bred to consume human flesh.
    “I am interested in cultural death denial, and why we are so distanced from our bodies, and especially how death denial leads to funeral practices that harm the environment,” Lee told New Scientist during the conference. “These mushrooms... can be trained to grow on pretty much any organic material and break it down. So I started collecting my hair, nails and skin so I could pick the best mushrooms to become Infinity Mushrooms, to recognize and eat my body after I die.”
    Image: Mikey Siegel
    The goal of the Infinity Burial Project is to market “burial kits” (including the suit, a burial container, and organic compounds that accelerate the decomposition process) to the public as an alternative to the usual funeral practices. Lee revealed that many people have “expressed an interest” in the kits, but the product has not yet been officially launched to consumers.
    Learn more about the Infinity Burial Project at their official site.

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    Walking Dead video game

    Those with a narrow mind often say that video games 'rot the brain,' and are little more than a distraction from real world issues.  But can video games actually teach us valuable life lessons?  Can playing them become more than just brain-rotting entertainment?  In the case of Telltale's Walking Dead game, the answers to both of those questions is a resounding yes.

    While most zombie games are all about running around and mindlessly killing zombies, Telltale took a far different approach to theirs, by allowing players to actually determine the actions of characters in the game.  When faced with tough situations, it is your choice of options that determines the outcome of those situations (as seen above), which affects the overall story that plays out for you.  What do the decisons of any given player say about that individual?  And what can they learn from their decisions?  A whole lot, according to one teacher in Norway.

    As posted over on Gamespot, students in Tobias Staaby's class at the Nordalh Grieg High School are handed controllers and put in front of a TV screen, tasked with playing Telltale's Walking Dead video game.  The teacher then has students take anonymous polls based on their decisions, which he uses to teach them ethical and moral lessons.  "When one is engaged in the subject at hand," Staaby says, "one will learn better."

    Check out a Norwegian news report about the awesome class below, and be sure to hit the 'CC' button and put on the subtitles of your choosing!

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    Chippewa Lake Park in Ohio is an abandoned amusement park with such love behind it that the former owner is allegedly buried on site.

    Built in 1878 as Andrew's Pleasure Grounds, the park's first roller coaster required it to be manually pushed up the track following each ride. The Beach family acquired the park in 1898 and ran it successfully through the 1960s. A conglomerate bought the park in 1968 with plans to turn it into a luxury resort, but a lack of funding and public interest means that no progress was ever made. In 1978, 100 years after first opening, the park was unceremoniously shut down, leaving it untended and abandoned for over 30 years.

    When Parker Beach, the last of the Beach family to run Chippewa Lake Park and the one who sold it to Continental Business Enterprises, heard that the park was closing, he requested that his family bury him in the park when he died. The family agreed. Though Beach's 1992 obituary says he was buried at Mound Hill Cemetery in Medina, Ohio, rumors persist that Beach is buried somewhere near the park's roller coaster.

    There have been nearly a dozen various plans for the Chippewa Lake Park, from renovations to a complete tear-down, but none of these have come to fruition. Though some parts were demolished, and others lost in fires, Chippewa Lake Park has largely stood, completely abandoned and choked with trees and overgrown brush, as it was the day the gates closed in 1978.

    All photos from

    For more abandoned amusement parks, check out Miracle Strip in FloridaDisney World's Abandoned ParksPrehistoric Forest in MichiganOkpo Land in Korea; and Joyland in Kansas.

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