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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    Marc Quinn

    Last year we told you about a painter named Vincent Castiglia, who has made a name for himself by using his blood to create unique works of art. And he's not the only one doing it...

    Marc Quinn

    As we spotted over on Oddity Central, British artist Marc Quinn began his 'Self' series back in 1991, where he literally drains mass quantities of blood from his body, and uses the red stuff to form macabre self-portraits. To create the portraits, Quinn extracts up to five liters of his blood over a period of five months, which he pours into detailed molds of his face. Inside the mold, the blood is frozen, and when extracted, a bloodly replica of his face is left behind.

    Marc Quinn

    Quinn makes a new self-portrait every five years, and he says that the project was designed to document the changes in his face, as he gets older. The blood heads are stored in refrigeration units at a constant temperature of -15 degrees Celsius, to ensure that they don't melt down into bloody puddles of gore.

    Learn more, and see more, over on Quinn's website.


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    The question of how far a person will go -- or how low a person will sink -- for large financial gain is one of the more prevalent and provocative questions in recent horror cinema. Eli Roth's Hostel series had a dark and compelling hook that showed how the very wealthy can toy with a person's flesh just because they need a new kick. More recently the excellently twisted thriller called Cheap Thrills offered a series of progressively more disturbing bribes and wagers. 

     
    The also fascinating Series 7: The Contenders (2001) offered murder for money, as did Roger Corman's delightful Death Race 2000 from 1975 and the half-decent remake from 2008. Going back as far as The Most Dangerous Game (1932), and probably earlier, the idea of murder as a financial "game" has been a hallmark of horror cinema.
     
    One mentions all of that because of this: several years ago the Weinstein company purchased a pretty solid Thai horror film called 13: Game of Death (or 13 Beloved, depending on where you live), and the plan was to use that film's premise for an English-language remake. (They also released the Thai film on DVD under their Dimension Extreme banner; check it out.) Eight years later, here's the remake!
     
    Good news? The producers hired director Daniel Stamm (A Necessary Death, The Last Exorcism) and allowed him to take the best part of 13: Game of Death (that would be the bizarre premise) and branch off in some interesting new directions. Whether the remake is "better" than the original is up to the individual horror nut, but as a fan of the original Thai import, I also found a lot to enjoy in 13 Sins.
     
    The prolific and quietly skilled Mark Webber stars as a semi-likable loser who is about to lose his sales job, has no money, and is generally treated like crap by the entire universe. He does, however, have: A) a lovely fiancee, B) a racist jerk for a father, C) a mentally challenged brother, and D) an inescapable feeling of desperation and stress. And that's when Billy gets a strange phone call promising him huge cash prizes for finishing a series of bizarre tasks. At first he has to kill an insect, but (this being a horror film) it's not long before poor Billy is compelled to terrify children, commit arson, vandalize a wedding hall, and things a whole lot worse than that.
     
    If it's Webber's strong performance that keeps 13 Sins afloat during its most strained or redundant moments, it's the fast-paced editorial clip that keeps the film entertaining. At its best moments, 13 Sins manages to maintain a solid sense of "all in one crazy night" energy that makes the more outlandish moments a bit more forgivable, plus there's nothing wrong with a nasty little psychological thriller that finds some screen time for Ron Perlman (as a wily detective), Pruitt Taylor Vince (as a haunted former contestant and exposition delivery man), and Tom Bower (as one rotten bastard of an old man). Rutina Wesley (as Billy's bewildered fiancee) adds a small dash of heart and class when she pops up, but for the most part, 13 Sins is a pretty cold and heartless affair.
     
    13 Sins covers a fair amount of familiar ground (think Crank as a horror flick), and even its best component (the mean-spirited and twisted plot) is borrowed from a film that's barely eight years old -- but given the film's unpredictably nasty demeanor, an excellent lead performance, plenty of strong support work, and (best of all) a thoroughly expeditious pace that forces even the wackiest of plot twists to make a little sense, there's more than enough here for a "psychological horror" fan to get behind. Plus it might make you want to track down the Thai film, which is one of the cooler things a decent remake can accomplish.

     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF 13 SINS


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    Post-production on She Kills, from writer / director Ron Bonk, is nearly complete.  This nutty spoof of 70s grindhouse flicks will hit the film festival circuit this summer.  A release date will be announced shortly thereafter.  In the meantime, here is the recently-completed first official preview trailer for the movie.

    Story Synopsis:  When Sadie's husband is murdered by a vicious gang called "The Touchers", she finds she possesses a strange hidden power that will aid her in her quest for revenge!  She Kills is a madcap homage to exploitation / martial arts / revenge pictures of the 1970s.

    The film is written and directed by Ron Bonk, and produced by Jonathan Straiton.  The movie stars Jennie Russo, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Jody Pucello, David Royal, and Martha Zemsta.

    Keep up with the She Kills madness on Facebook.

    Ron Bonk has been writing, producing, and directing indie films for more than two decades.  As a director, he is best known for his films Ms. Cannibal Holocaust (2012), Clay (2007), and The Vicious Sweet (1997).  Bonk is an executive producer on Night Of Something Strange (slated for release later this year), a "sister project" to She Kills.  As both films' plots center on sexually transmitted diseases, it's safe to assume both sisters have something of a wild streak.


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    White Temple

    The impressive structure you currently find yourself looking at is Thailand's 'White Temple,' a Buddhist temple that was designed by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Though no doubt awesome looking from the outside, it's what you'll find on the grounds of the temple that will make you realize just how unique this particular place of worship really is.

    The White Temple

    For starters, you must pass over a hellish pit to get to the main building, which is filled out with creepy outstretched hands, reaching up from the fiery depths. As we spotted over on Thrillist, the pit represents the 'cycle of rebirth,' and the hands are a symbol of human desire. Or, if you're not that deep, they're zombies. Because they totally look like zombie hands.

    White Temple Predator

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The White Temple are the unexpected pop-culture references the artist infused into it, including this statue of a Predator, emerging from the ground. It's hard to tell exactly why he decided to add Predator to the temple, but it's a decision we fully support, to say the least.

    Started in 1996, Chalermchai Kositpipat plans on having the structure fully completed in 2070, when he will be 115-years-old. Now that's dedication!

    Oddly enough, this isn't the only religious locale that pays homage to horror icons. Head over to France to see a church decorated with gargoyles inspired by Gremlins and Alien!


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    Chris Alexander has snapped up some of the coolest jobs in horror journalism, and now he's creating cool new ones to take on as well. After a stint writing for Rue Morgue magazine, he moved on to become editor-in-chief at Fangoria, building a résumé between the two that is enough to make the rest of us genre hacks jealous. But then he went and resurrected Gorezone (which he edits), and now, in conjunction with horror/exploitation film legend Charles Band, he's helped create (and edit) Delirium, a magazine devoted to the film catalogs of Empire Pictures and Full Moon.
     
    It's with tongue planted firmly in cheek that I talk of jealousy, of course; Alexander is in the position(s) he's in through a combination of talent, hard work and an absolute love of the stuff he's writing about. That love shines through in Delirium #1, a debut issue that's as bold, brash and outrageous as the filmography it covers.
     
    Delirium_No1
     
    Of all the movies Band has been associated with, Alexander wisely chose the most well-known and beloved of them to build this first issue around: Re-Animator. Nearly 20 pages are devoted to this gore classic, including long interviews with director Stuart Gordon, star Barbara Crampton and composer Richard Band. The interviews are punctuated with photos of some of Re-Animator's bloodiest moments, not to mention several shots of an infamous scene featuring Crampton (you know the one I'm talking about) that are sure to make fanboys (and a few fangirls) happy.
     
    But it's not all about looking back. There are articles about WIZARD Studio, a new venture Band has created to focus on independent genre films from foreign countries, and about Full Moon's new streaming service, which has been created to provide online, on-demand access to heaps of exploitation, grindhouse and horror films. Both of these are exciting developments, promising to bring fans face-to-face with material that’s been consigned to dusty old VHS tapes for too long, as well as giving new voices a chance to be heard.
     
    Between the Empire and Full Moon banners (not to mention multiple other distribution companies that were folded into them), Band was involved in hundreds of films of varying quality, and this magazine seems poised to provide fans with lots of opportunities for in-depth retrospection. With titles like Rawhead Rex, Castle Freak, From Beyond, The Pit and the Pendulum and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, just to name a few, there's fodder to keep the magazine going for years.
     
    Hopefully Band and Alexander will dig deep and continue to bring issues like this one, packed with anecdotes and photos and stories that celebrate and encapsulate the scrappy spirit of one of horror's most prolific providers for generations to come.
     

    Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand

     


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    This past weekend at the Monster Mania convention in Cherry Hill, NJ, Lisa and Louise Burns - aka the Grady twins from The Shining - made their first ever convention appearance. It’s been 34 years since Stanley Kubrick unleashed The Shining on audiences and horror has never quite been the same. The Grady twins are an indelible part of that legacy and have contributed to countless pop culture references, artwork and cosplay. But hey, let’s be real, meeting the ladies who made “Come play with us, Danny” a part of our vernacular is a priceless commodity in and of itself.

    Personally, I only had a brief few moments with the twins at Monster Mania, but they were sweet and if I can say, precious. They are quite petite, and I don’t think I’d be out of line to say I don’t think they’re much taller than they were in The Shining when they were 12 years old. They were genuinely excited to meet fans and from what I had heard, they were very pleasant. In the time I had to speak with them they were very polite and downright fascinated with any items that had their likeness on it. 

    I nabbed a couple of pics of the twins at the convention, including them with another set of identical twins. Take a look! If they ever come to a show you’re at stop by and say hi, they want you to…forever….and ever…and ever.


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    Who doesn't love creepy-cute toys? Horrible people, that's who. Amanda Dempsey, owner of M is for Madness on Etsy, makes an exceptionally creepy-cute scary teddy bear out of thrift shop bears with hand-sculpted "masks." I love a cuddly stuffed friend who could also kill you in your sleep. Amanda was kind enough to walk us through the steps of making a "changeling." Sorry folks, the little guy has been sold. I named him Rolf and he lives on my desk to inspire extra-creepy writing.

    $65+ on Etsy. Custom orders welcome.


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    Calabrese_2014b
     
    I've been following the career of notorious Phoenix, AZ horror-rock trio Calabrese since the earliest days of FEARNET, beginning with their awesome second album The Traveling Vampire Show. In a music genre spawned by the likes of the Misfits and the Damned and filled with countless imitators, the team of Bobby, Davey and Jimmy Calabrese have not only risen up from the underground to distinguish themselves from the pack, but they've managed to carve out a sweet bit of hellbilly turf to to call their very own, and populated it with colorful and spooky characters from horror movies, shows, books, comics and the like. But while their macabre but romantic themes and playful horror image have served them very well all these years, the time comes for any dedicated artist to grow and evolve... and with their fifth full-length album Born With a Scorpion's Touch, the brothers Calabrese have taken that evolutionary step with exceptional smoothness.
     
    Calabrese_Scorpions
     
    While all the vintage horror-punk & psychobilly elements are still recognizable and delivered with the same vampiric romanticism, Scorpion's Touch taps into an even more vintage groove, drawing on elements of classic rock and metal and toning down some (but not all) of the punk aggression in favor of a pervasive darkness. While this more somber feel might not go down so well with some fans hungry for fist-pumping anthems, to me this feels like a natural step forward for a band with no worries about tarnishing their horror-punk cred. The title track (also the first single) perfectly captures the transition between the playful monster romps of the past and the new record's more bittersweet tone, with more subdued harmonies and darker chord progressions – as you can hear in this excellent clip, which kicks off with a loving nod to horror's VHS era.
     
     
    I particularly enjoyed the subtle creep of the down-tempo tune "I Wanna Be a Vigilante" and the smooth, Elvis-like vocals of "There is an Evil Inside," but there's still plenty of wild energy to be found in cuts like "At Night I am the Warmest," which takes a cue from vintage Ramones and Social Distortion, and "Loner at Heart" infuses that same sound with thick, expansive metal-style guitar multi-tracking. The riffs are consistently powerful and ultra-dark, particularly on tracks like “Mindwarp,” and the ominous, reverb-soaked chords and rattling beats of "Danger" showcase their gothic side. They find another perfect balance between gloom and fury on the fantastic “I Ride Alone” – which for me ranks among the darkest and most memorable songs the band's ever written.
     
    While there's less midnight-movie playfulness at the heart of Scorpion's Touch, it's still pure Calabrese through and through; it proves that the band can find an emotional resonance within the genre without sacrificing the menace and sense of doom that they've always managed to capture with ease. It's definitely a more refined record, but no less powerful, and ventures to a more intimate place to dig up its tales of horror, sadness and doom.
     
    Born with a Scorpion's Touch is available now from the band's web store, and as a digital download via Bandcamp. Check it out!

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    A "sophomore" feature is always a big deal, and the reasons should be pretty obvious: the theory is that anyone can get lucky (and make a good film) once, but twice? That is indicative of some actual talent, and it also means a lot more pressure. The "sophomore slump" is not just a sports term. It simply means that a filmmaker must be careful on their second film. My advice? Remember what worked the first time around, drop what didn't, learn from the feedback you received, and don't let too many cooks into your kitchen.

     
    This is an elaborate way of saying that, after hitting the festival circuit with The Pact a few years back, writer/director Nicholas McCarthy is back with his sophomore effort. It's called Home, it's sort of like three horror stories in one, and it's even better than The Pact (which I liked but thought it felt a little too much like a short stretched out to feature length, which it was).
     
    The third paragraph is where I generally dive into a brief and spoiler-free plot synopsis, partially because it takes up some valuable space, but mainly because, hey, people want to know what a movie is actually about. However, in an effort to keep the film's twisting narrative and unexpected plot contortions a secret, let's just say that Home is sort of like several horror movies in one. It's a narrative that almost plays like an anthology, and the stories offered here touch on A) haunted houses, B) violent spirits who attack women, C) demonic possession, and D) potentially killer kids. That's all you're getting from me, plot-wise.
     
    Those who enjoyed The Pact will certainly appreciate how Mr. McCarthy has retained the chilly atmosphere and frequently restrained refinement for his second feature, but Home is, quite simply, a hell of a lot more unpredictable than The Pact was. This is a sometimes bizarre but entirely accessible piece of intelligent horror storytelling, and it's proof that a genre-loving filmmakers can combine disparate scary tales and still keep a straight face at the same time.
     
    As Home's focus leaps from one "central" character to another, it almost starts to feel like a low-budget horror flick that Robert Altman might have made. That's high (and weird) praise, to be sure, but Home presents a legitimately odd narrative structure; McCarthy and his colleagues deserve some high (and weird) praise for pulling it off so smoothly.
     
    Apologies for the vague nature of this review, but Home is simply very impressive. It works as a slick and admirably unpredictable whole, and it somehow seems to work as three distinct chapters as well. Call it a haunted house / possessed women / evil pregnancy flick if you must, but Home is simply a very smart, sometimes strange, and oddly satisfying piece of horror cinema.
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF HOME


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    Spider web

    For spiders, the intricate webs they spin out of silk have a multitude of uses, from catching prey to sheltering offspring. For us humans, those same webs are mostly a nuisance... right? Well, not exactly.

    As reported by Chemical & Engineering News, synthetic spider silk is currently poised for commercial entry, which will allow humans to benefit from those pesky webs that we all too often finds ourselves walking into. By weight, a spider's silk is five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar, and so impressively powerful is the material that scientists plan on using it to make super-strong cables and bulletproof vests. Yes, spider webs will soon be able to save lives, and other uses include the creation of antimicrobial wound patches and even artificial tendons.

    Since gathering real web from actual spiders isn't an option, scientists have for years been working on developing the synthetic silk, which they're finally making serious progress on. One company is already selling synthetic silk as a beauty product, to improve skin and hair, and they'll also be unveiling a wound-healing spray later this year. Other companies are developing silk-based products for the textiles and automotive industries, which shows just how much we can benefit from the structures we once saw as nothing more than a nuisance.

    Speaking of eight-legged freaks, want to see a spider that looks like Jason Voorhees? Check it out!!


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    At first glance, "horror movie" and "musical" would seem like an terrible mix. Musicals are often a celebration of human emotions whereas horror films frequently try to evoke and provoke those unpleasant things that terrify us all. But of course there is the cult classic granddaddy called The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), which is not only a horror movie and a musical, but also a maniacal love letter to old-fashioned horror movies and musicals. (Brian De Palma's 1974 film The Phantom of the Paradise also deserves a mention in this category.)

     
    From Rocky Horror on there has been a calm but steady trickle of films that have little to no problem combining singing and dancing with scary stories. Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Cannibal: The Musical (1997), Sweeney Todd (2007), and Repo! The Genetic Opera (2009) still find new fans today because they're able to introduce horror ideas to musical presentations with various types of comedy (of course) to help sweeten the deal.
     
    Those last two paragraphs are an elaborate way of saying that the amusing new indie flick Stage Fright is sort of like a cross between Glee and Sleepaway Camp, and while it struggles with a few slow spots and occasionally offers some tonally confused signals, there's certainly enough to please horror buffs, musical geeks, or anyone who has tried to make an indie film or stage musical.
     
    Debut feature from writer/director (and composer) Jerome Sable (his 12-minute "The Legend of Beaver Dam" is pretty great), Stage Fright is about a theater camp that is suddenly plagued by a masked murderer. (Already you know if this movie is for you or not.) Our heroine is Camilla Swanson, a lovely young lady whose mother was viciously murdered (ten years earlier) just as her stage career was taking off. Probably not a great idea for Camilla to work at a "theater camp," but of course she manages to land the lead role in a revival of "The Haunting of the Opera." Yes, the very same play her mother would have...
     
    Let's just stick with "a theater camp is suddenly plagued by a masked murderer." The story of Camilla, her dead mom and her unhappy brother makes more sense in the movie. Suffice to say that Camilla is still being looked over by failed producer Roger McCall, a guy who has his own motives for re-staging the play. None of this stuff really matters, because Stage Fright is not only a horror flick and a musical but also a frequently broad comedy, but it's important to note that the Roger McCall character is played by the legendary Meat Loaf, and the man gets several chances to A) be funny and B) belt out some brief songs. His presence alone might make Stage Fright worth seeing.
     
    Fortunately Mr. Sable has a good eye for young talent, and Stage Fright is at its best when it's focused on the kooky ensemble of "theater kids" who attend the camp. (There's a little girl with a lisp who almost steals the whole movie.) Come to think of it, virtually everything that surrounds Camilla's central story is more amusing than Camilla's central story. That's not a knock on the very talented Allie MacDonald, who clearly has gifts in the singing, acting, and silliness departments, but Stage Fright is, at its heart, a slasher flick. And really, who cares about the plot in a slasher flick?
     
    Horror geeks need not worry. For a weird genre mash-up that's both legitimately funny and graced by a handful of great original songs (yes, it's that kind of musical!), Stage Fright is not dainty when it comes to the kills. The movie is not very scary, which is fine, given what the filmmakers are clearly shooting for, but it is occasionally creepy and frequently quite gory.
     
    But what's most appealing about Stage Fright is simply the sincerity. This is a horror / musical that's also a comedy; not a mean-spirited satire of horror films or musical theater. If you'd take some cinematic delight in seeing a Glee-like ensemble stuck inside a summer camp slash-fest, Stage Fright will work for you -- but if you're actually a huge fan of horror flicks and musical theater in equal measure, this scrappy little indie just might be your new favorite movie. (Doubly so if you love Meat Loaf.)
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF STAGE FRIGHT


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    The Following Episode 208
    “The Messenger”
    Written By: Alexi Hawley
    Directed By: Marcos Siega
    Original Airdate: 10 March 2014

    In This Episode…

    Emma is understandably pissed at Joe. She hates it at Corbin, but Joe thinks with a bit of finesse, it could be theirs. Micah comes into the mess hall with a special announcement, welcoming Joe, Emma, and Mandy into the family. They are allowed to remove their masks and they are given red jumpsuits.

    Julia takes Joe to see Micah. On the way, he jokes about how she and Micah seem to be making up their religion as they go along. She is deeply offended by this and reminds him that Micah is the leader - but she runs things. Even still, when she delivers Joe to Micah, Micah makes her leave the room before he tells Joe why he is here: “I want to kill people.”But first, he fills Joe in on their “religion.” Corbin’s scripture is based on cleansing souls. They don’t believe in an “after-life,” and see this life as “pre-life.” They must reach home, which is the ninth planet beyond Neptune, and they do so by eating the souls of others - then they ascend. In Micah’s mind,  he has to kill to save souls. But that’s not all Micah wants. He wants a book written about him - and he wants Joe to write it. Micah also promises that he has people who have a desire to kill. 

    He takes Joe to the middle of the woods. Hidden beneath leaves and camo netting is a barred door. As Micah approaches, hands reach out through the bars, begging for attention and blessings. Micah slits one of the exposed wrists and flicks blood. “There, you are blessed,” he says before covering the doorway back up. “They are lovely followers; they just don’t play well with others,” Micah explains. He also wants their murder spree to begin in Los Angeles - there are a lot of souls that need to be cleansed there. He wants to kill famous people, like Manson. Joe suggests starting with New York - it is more accessible and everyone keeps their eyes on New York. This excites Micah; this is why he brought Joe here. For guidance. He does admit that not everyone is on board. Julia doesn’t believe they should be part of the outside world, but “she is my wife and will do as she is told.” There might be a few doubters, but he assures Joe it is a small group. Joe suggests they pray on it, which Micah loves. They get down on their knees together, and Julia sees them - and is instantly suspicious. That night, Julia delicately asks about Joe and suggests Micah be guarded around him. But Micah wants to celebrate and give Joe a “proper welcome.” 

    That proper welcome is a party. Joe and Emma enjoy the festivities cautiously, while Mandy is dancing with a new friend, Eric. Joe notices that Micah is offering communion to some followers. It doesn’t take long to find out why. In a few minutes, those who took communion start seizing and foaming at the mouth. Within moments, they are all dead. Panic erupts, and Micah calms them down, tells them to rejoice: god is moving among them, and our brothers and sisters are going home. “Send them home with shouts of praise!” he encourages. Before long, the surviving partiers are rejoicing - even Joe joins in the chants. Now it’s a party.

    Later that night, Micah is overseeing the corpses being tossed into a mass grave in the woods, when Julia rushes up, horrified. She accuses him of abusing his power because only the ones who doubted him died. Micah didn’t tell her about his plan because he knew she would disagree. She blames Joe, even thought Micah takes full responsibility, and he has his guards drag her away.

    But that’s only half the story. At the wake for Mike’s father, FBI director Franklin takes Ryan aside. He believes that Joe is still alive, that the FBI has been compromised, and he wants Ryan to help them out in a covert, off-the-books kind of way. He will have all the access and technical support he needs and he will be in charge of his own investigation. Ryan agrees to it. Seems perfect for him - this is exactly the way he has been working for the last few months anyway. He slips Ryan a thumb drive with all the stuff his British counterparts had on Joe’s half-brother. Ryan has another, far less pleasant visitor at the funeral: Carrie cooke, the “investigative journalist” who wrote the book about the Havenport tragedy. She heard from a private pilot that Joe Carroll is alive, and Ryan knows this to be true. Ryan won’t talk to her, and with good reason. Much of the info she got for her book came from Ryan while he was drunk. She got him very, very drunk, went back to his place, where they drank and talked and fucked and drank some more. She used him to get the info she wanted.

    At home, Max and Ryan go through the drive and recognize three people in a photo. The two younger men were known associates of Roderick, and are up on Ryan’s board. The older gentleman Ryan recognizes as Arthur Strauss, Joe’s mentor from his time in an American boarding school. Ryan tried to speak with him when he was writing his own Joe book, but Arthur refused, claiming he hadn’t spoken to Joe since graduation. He happens to own a home 20 minutes from where the lighthouse was.

    Ryan takes a drive up there. Strauss remembers Ryan, and has no interest in talking to him. Ryan is insistent and Strauss agrees to five minutes. He again reiterates that he has had no contact with Joe since he graduated, and paid him no special attention outside the attention he gave any of his other students. He also says that he never saw any evidence of psychopathy in Joe. Ryan thanks him for his time and leaves. He planted a bug in the living room, and while Max is listening back home, Ryan takes a transmitter and hangs out a fair distance from the house to listen for anything unusual.

    Shortly after Ryan leaves, Strauss gets another visitor: Carrie Cooke. His patience is wearing thin, but he invites her in to chat. Almost immediately, he jabs her in the neck wiht a syringe. She screams, and Ryan comes running. He sees Strauss drag the unconscious Carrie down into the basement, but is attacked by a skinny dark-haired man who sprays him with knockout gas. When Ryan wakes, he is strapped into a wheelchair in some basement “operating room” with Strauss and Cole, his “student.” Carrie is unconscious on a medical table. While Strauss and Cole prep for surgery, he admits he was the one who taught Joe (almost) everything he knows. “I taught him how to perfectly remove an eyeball, but the need to kill was within him all along.” Cole wakes Carrie with smelling salts, then Strauss gives her some gas - enough to keep her calm and immobile, but not so much that she isn’t aware of what is going on. Ryan does the whole “operate on me first” thing, but he is ignored.

    Strauss tells Cole to start with Carrie’s feet. He will need a sledgehammer to hobble her. He goes for one - and comes across Mike, who has a gun to his head. Cole makes a move; Mike shoots him. Max is there, too - when she lost contact with Ryan she thought he might be in trouble. Mike just happened to show up at the right time to roll out with her. Anyway, while Strauss is distracted by the sound of gunshots, Ryan throws himself out of the chair and wriggles out of his restraints. With Max and Mike in the room now, Strauss is easily subdued and replaces Carrie on the table. Ryan insists Max take Carrie upstairs. Carrie tries to fight the banishment, but it is no use. Now it is just the boys, and they want to know where Joe is. Strauss admits he helped clean Joe up immediately after the lighthouse explosion, but he left after a month and hasn’t heard from him since. The guys don’t believe him, and Mike takes a hammer to Strauss’s hand, ruining any chance he ever has of operating. Two strikes is all it takes for Strauss to spill what he knows: he admits that he helped get Joe’s half-brother into the country, and that Joe had a contact, a woman within the FBI. That’s all he knows. “Break my other hand if you want; that’s all you’ll get from me.”

    Oh right, there is one more thing. Joe has decided it is time to tell the world he is alive.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    Ah, this show just gets crazier and crazier as the weeks go by. That cult, Corbin… they are just an amalgamation of all the craziest cults out there. I love it. I love that Micah has a dungeon filled with extra-crazy followers that have to be kept out of the general population. I find it odd that Micah needed Joe to help him with the killing. As a narcissist, he shouldn’t need “permission” from someone else to do whatever he wants. But I love the absurdity of the cult’s mission.

    Here is a question: how does Pluto fit into “home?” If they have been working on this religion for 20 years, then Pluto was the ninth planet when they began. But now that it has been downgraded to not-a-planet, is it still home?

    I kind of wish we had a little more time with Arthur Strauss. Tonight was the first time we heard mention of him, and just like that, someone who was a significant influence on Joe Carroll is rendered useless for the rest of the show.

    Prophecies?

    Joe reveals himself to the world, and the killings ramp up.


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    Midnight Meat Train

    Beginning in 1984, Clive Barker kicked off his fan-favorite Books of Blood series, which were largely responsible for making him a household name amongst genre fans. Comprised of six volumes in total, each of the books contained five or six tales of horror fiction, and several of those stories have been given the feature film treatment, over the years. Rawhead Rex and Candyman both started out as stories found within the pages of the Books of Blood, and more recently The Midnight Meat Train - which was a part of the original volume - was turned into a movie.

    30 years after the release of that original volume, and six years after the release of the movie, The Midnight Meat Train returns in the form of a Definitive Edition hardcover book, which is jam-packed with all-new material, including an afterword written by Barker, a copy of the film's screenplay, never-before-seen photos and even nine color paintings based on the story, one of which you'll see below.

    Midnight Meat Train

    This definitive release of the story is available in three different formats, ranging from a $50 standard edition to a $1,300 ultra-deluxe traycased edition, the latter of which is limited to only 13 copies. In between is the deluxe signed slip-case version, selling for $200 and limited to 66 copies.

    Quantites are limited on all of these, and they all come hand signed by Clive Barker. They'll be available for pre-order on Tuesday, March 25th, at 10am PST. Head over to the Dark Regions Press website to learn more about each edition, and be sure to bookmark the site, so you don't miss out!


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    Scream Factory has been continually bringing the goods, and their final list of extras for the Sleepaway Camp Blu-ray is no exception! Not only will it feature a new 2K scan of the original camera negative, which is the uncut version, but there will be new commentaries as well. One with actors Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten and one with writer/director Robert Hiltzik. This amazing special collectors edition hits shelves on 5/27. Read on for a complete list of these brand new extras!

    • New 2K scan of the original camera negative. Uncut version!

    • New Commentary with actors Felissa Rose (“Angela”) and Jonathan Tiersten (“Ricky”)
    • New Commentary with writer/director Robert Hiltzik, moderated by SleepawayCampMovies.com webmaster Jeff Hayes
    • Original Audio Commentary with writer/director Robert Hiltzik and star Felissa Rose
    • At the Waterfront After the Social: The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp – new interviews with Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Paul DeAngelo (“Ronnie”), Karen Fields (“Judy”), Desiree Gould (“Aunt Martha”), Frank Saladino (“Gene”) and make-up FX artist Ed French.
    • Judy - a short film by Jeff Hayes starring Karen Fields
    • Princess - A Music Video by Jonathan Tiersten
    • Camp Arawak Scrapbook – still gallery
    • Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots

    It can be preordered via Amazon or you can snag it for only $21.99 from DiabolikDVD.com 

    Keep an eye on Scream Factory’s Facebook page for ongoing updates.


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    Nervosa_1
     
    Not long after their formation less than four years ago in São Paulo, Brazil, female thrash trio Nervosa have been steadily rising in the international metal community. Their first single “Time of Death” won them critical praise and quickly led to high-profile gigs, and their 2012 debut video “Masked Betrayer” became a runaway hit on YouTube in a matter of days. This week, the team of Fernanda Lira (bass & vocals), founder Prika Amaral (guitars) and Pitchu Ferraz (drums) have unleashed their first full-length album Victim of Yourself on Napalm Records, and it's one of the meanest, darkest and most uncompromising metal releases to emerge from the Brazilian metal movement, as well as the worldwide thrash revival.
     
    Victim_Yourself
     
    Speed and intensity are clearly the main focus of Victim, and toward that goal the band maintains a fairly consistent formula from track to track, modulating that power instead with rapidly-shifting tempos driven by the superb rhythms of Ferraz at the drumkit, who emerges as one of the most powerful and dynamic drummers in the genre. Lira takes a cue from bands like Bathory in her higher-range, ferocious black metal-style vocal delivery, which balances out the deep, chunky riffs churned out by Amaral and herself, and while solos are kept fairly low-key here, the leads are still technically impressive, remaining intricate and razor-sharp at the highest velocities.
     
    The album kicks off with some awesome haunted house horror effects, setting a grim and ominous tone for the expansive sound that follows – beginning with the pulse-pounding "Twisted Values," a snarling beast that rips into bursts of tremolo picking, shifting without warning into stuttering, rapid-fire progressions and creepy leads. "Justice Be Done" swaps between vintage dark-rock chords and speedy riffs, and elements of groove are folded into "Wake Up And Fight," which also sports some of the speediest picking and Lira's most evil vocal work. One thing you'll notice by the midpoint is that the majority of these songs are written in the same key; it's not necessarily a sticking point for me, as the songs are broken up by shifting dynamics instead of key changes, but I expect it might lead to ear fatigue in some listeners.
     
    Nervosa_live
    Photo: Kubo Metal
     
    The tempos drop dramatically on cuts like "Envious," which picks up speed at regular intervals but tends to stick with an ominous, rolling rumble, which along with the maliciously sleazy “Nasty Injury” and the wildly demonic title track are aided by some of the strongest bass work I've heard in a thrash or death metal release in quite a while. It's mainly the drums that distinguish tracks like "Morbid Courage" and the chilling "Uranio Em Nos," where Ferraz's jackhammer snare work is totally off the chain. All of these elements come together nicely beneath the macabre chants of "Deep Misery" and the rage-fueled “Death,” which makes it the ideal choice for a solid single and the album's first music video. Behold:
     
     
    Apart from a certain sameness across many of these tracks, there's enough high-octane blood and thunder in Victim of Yourself to satisfy the most discerning thrash fan; between the barely-restrained madness of the rhythms and the demonic fury of the vocals, Nervosa's three-pronged attack serves their thrash & blackened death fusion well, and makes them an act to watch out for this year and beyond.

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    If you've seen indie horror films like A Horrible Way to Die, You're Next, or either V/H/S anthology, then you're already familiar with filmmaking partners Simon Barrett (screenwriter) and Adam Wingard (director). Along with their frequent collaborators (like producer Keith Calder and a bunch of cool actors), Barrett and Wingard have been more than content to create the sort low-budget cool concepts that generally go over really well at festivals and then again on home video. But no more. The gentlemen have temporarily turned their attention on something best described as (yes), a "thriller," but thankfully it's a pretty damn cool thriller.

     
    The Guest is about a handsome, humble, and very decent man who goes to visit the mother of his deceased army buddy, gets invited to spend a few days at the Peterson household, and ends up... well, let's just say that newcomer David quickly has a resounding impact on the lives of Mom (Sheila Kelley), Dad (Leland Orser), and teenage siblings Anna (Maika Monroe) and Luke (Brendan Meyer). To the casual (or even astute) viewer, David (Dan Stevens) is a charming and helpful veteran who has nothing but good intentions.
     
    Well, obviously that's simply not the case. David is hiding all sorts of devious secrets, but the fun part about The Guest is that this ostensibly shady character is simply very likable. Could David be lying about his time spent in the war? Maybe he's a charming lunatic! Or perhaps he's telling the truth but has some old skeletons hanging in the closet anyway. Barrett and Wingard take clear pleasure in delaying the answers for as long as possible, which allows the first half of The Guest to feel like a very dark version of Uncle Buck -- and it makes the hyper-kinetic third act carry some emotional weight. 
     
    Little things like tension, character, and "emotional weight" mean a lot, and doubly so when you're watching a film that's so linear and straightforward in the narrative department. We grow to like the Petersons very quickly, and it's established early (and often) how cool David is, but since this is not a fluffy romantic comedy, well, things are going to get ugly once David's true plan is made clear. The villain is nearly as appealing as the excellently resourceful Anna, for example, and that just makes the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" a lot more fun than a screenplay written in shades of strictly Good Guys and Bad Guys.
     
    As a director, Mr. Wingard has clearly stepped his game up, at least in a purely visual sense, but he hasn't lost his touch for expeditious storytelling and frequent doses of very dark humor. At its best moments, The Guest is a character study on an inscrutable character, a fast-paced thriller with moments of shocking violence and legitimate intensity, and a "whodunnit" that's actually more of a "whydunnit."
     
    Toss in an excellent lead performance from Mr. Stevens, some fine support work from everyone mentioned above (plus Lance Reddick as the only high-ranking official who knows David's secrets), a few "indie cast" surprises that work very well, and some truly kick-ass music, and that's that. Congrats to our old pals Barrett and Wingard for trying something quite a bit different from "straight" horror, and also for pulling it off so darn well. This is a slick, fast, fun thriller flick.
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF THE GUEST


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    In southwestern China, a team of paleontologists recently discovered the well-preserved fossil remains of an entirely new species of giant reptile... which may also be one of the creepiest prehistoric specimens ever unearthed.
     
    Reptile_fossil2
    Photo: L.Cheng et al./Naturwissenschaften
     
    According to National Geographic, the skeleton of the nine-foot-long aquatic creature – which the team dubbed Atopodentatus unicushas– dates back to the mid-Triassic period (between 200 and 300 million years ago). Its name translates as “disturbing teeth,” and for damn good reason: this thing's freakish face makes it look more like a cosmic behemoth from the works of H.P. Lovecraft than an earthbound reptile.
     
    Reptile_fossil1
    Image © Nobu Tamura via Spinops
     
    That strange cleft you see in the creature's snout is actually a kind of vertical second mouth, which the team theorizes might have been used to filter small organisms from the ocean floor; that material would then get scooped into the horizontal “main” mouth below it. The hideous maw probably wasn't capable of swallowing anything much larger than tiny plankton-like organisms, so keep that in mind in case you see this thing in your next nightmare.
     
    You can see more unsettling concept drawings of Atopodentatus at National Geographic... and while we're talking prehistoric nightmares, they don't get much scarier than this “mega-predator” recently unearthed in Utah.

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    Anyone who sets out to make a documentary film about the history of zombie cinema is in a no-win situation: if you stick with the obvious stuff, then the hardcore horror fans will get bored, impatient, and very annoyed. But if you focus mainly on the oddest and most obscure information regarding cinematic zombiedom, then you're leaving out all the newbies -- or the geeks who only pretend to know White Zombie from Rob Zombie.

     
    Fortunately the movie-obsessed documentarian Alex Philippe -- his film The People vs. George Lucas is recommended to any hardcore Star Wars nut -- knows how to cover a lot of bases in a short amount of time, and the result is a light and amusing film about some of the grossest movies you'll ever see. 
     
    Without rattling off all the statistics, let's just say that Mr. Philippe and his team manage to touch on all the important stuff: how the earliest film zombies often dealt with Haitian or African voodoo rituals; how zombies represent a great horror villain for a variety of colorful reasons; how the "zombie apocalypse" is often just a stand-in for something society is actually plagued by; and how the argument over fast vs. slow zombies is actually a lot more interesting than one might think. Also a lot of stuff about "zombie walks" and awesomely gross special effects.
     
    The film offers interviews with several admirably geeky zombie experts, as well as ghoul-stomping movie stars like Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, and Fran Kranz, but Doc of the Dead is at its most interesting and insightful when it points its cameras towards people like Max Brooks (World War Z), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), FX masters Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini, and -- of course -- zombie godfather George A. Romero.
     
    It's the special focus on Mr. Romero's contributions to popular zombie lore that gives Doc of the Dead a sense of intelligence and focus. Romero may not have invented the word "zombie" -- hell, he didn't even use the term on the original Night of the Living Dead -- but about 85% of what we now know as zombies is because of George Romero and the artists he inspired. OK, maybe more like 95%.
     
    Astute horror know-it-alls, like me and you, of course, may already know half the stuff that Doc of the Dead covers, but taken as a basic "zombie cinema 101" lesson or as a quick reminder that "the walking dead" is neither a new nor an American concept, there's a lot to like about the slick and amusing Doc of the Dead. At the very least it might work as an explanation to that parent/spouse/child of yours who cannot fathom why anyone would like zombie movies so damn much.
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF DOC OF THE DEAD


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    Spiders

    What do all these random images have in common? They all, in one way or another, kinda sorta look like spiders, don't they? According to one research group, looking at pictures like these may be an effective cure for getting over your fear of arachnids.

    As reported by io9, the finds of the group were recently published in a paper, which confirms their beliefs that you can overcome your fear of spiders, without actually even making any sort of contact with the eight-legged freaks.

    Instead of showing arachnophobics spiders, the team exposed them to images like the ones above, which convey the general body shape of a spider. Once they found a group of images that each person was comfortable with looking at, they were burned onto a DVD and taken home, which the spider-haters were asked to watch twice a day. The idea was to make them comfortable with looking at spiders, by making them comfortable with looking at things that look like spiders.

    Six months into the treatment, 90% of the test group saw a dramatic improvement in their level of spider-related fear, and three of them even felt comfortable enough to pet a tarantula that was hanging out in the lab.

    Facing your fears without facing your fears - gotta love it!

    Head into FEARNET's spider archives, for more creepy-crawly fun.


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    My affections for Gareth Evans' The Raid (aka The Raid: Redemption for no logical reason) are not only well-documented but also rather florid. Here's my review of the film, for example, or you can just hang around my Twitter feed and enjoy my rapturous responses when another movie geek asks my opinion of the film. The short version: it's one of the best action films ever made. I'm sure there are some fantastic action movies I haven't seen (including some martial arts classics) but I still feel confident in stating that "The Raid is one of the best action films ever made."

     
    And holy freaking shit is The Raid 2: Berandal more of the same, and then some. You can decide for yourself if it's better (it probably is) but Raid 2 is bigger, longer, angrier, crazier, and infinitely more plot-driven than Raid 1 is, but really they're just slices from the same cake. If you thought the normal-sized slice was great, just wait until you experience this mega-sized super-slice of virtually non-stop action mayhem lunacy. (How did I get on a "cake" analogy with a film like this? Sorry.)
     
    Like many great sequels, The Raid 2 retains what we loved about its predecessor while expanding the scope in all sorts of interesting ways. (For example: the intense spaceship claustrophobia of Alien compared to the much wider playing field offered in Aliens.) Much of The Raid 2 feels like a half-dozen "cops vs. gangsters" tropes that were old-hat back in 1949, but writer / director / editor Gareth Evans is not chasing any sort of unique narrative here. He's giving our virtually unstoppable hero, Rama (Iko Uwais), a lot of fun, basic, action material.
     
    Rama has to go undercover in prison to befriend the son of a vicious crime boss and... see? Already it sounds like a film noir or 1970s-style cop movie! If you want the practically non-stop action of The Raid, you'll probably have to wait for The Raid 2's blu-ray so you can fast forward past the plot stuff, but having this Indonesian action hero run through a series of familiar but entertaining plot machinations gives the sequel a lot of fun stuff to do in between its myriad (and epic) action sequences. 
     
    Suffice to say that there are numerous crime bosses, tons of anonymous henchmen who get beat to holy hell, and (at least) three villainous sidekicks who would feel right at home in any Marvel movie. (One of them uses an aluminum bat as his weapon of choice; another is a gorgeous assassin who loves her hammers.) The plot threads in The Raid 2 are numerous but never sloppy or confused, which makes the action stuff work a whole lot better.
     
    And holy crap does this film have some action sequences worth rewinding, rewatching, and screaming "oooh!" at. They're that good. Hordes of sluggers being dispatched by our hero; a fluid and masterful car chase that offers several dazzling sights; those evil sidekicks mowing down their enemies with joyous abandon; a prison yard free-for-all you won't believe; a half-dozen others I don't want to mention, and a one-on-one "big finale" in a kitchen that may rank among the best of its kind. Ever. (We can wait a few years to decide for sure. Rest assured it's almost exhausting to watch.)
     
    One hates to employ such a pedantic description, but The Raid 2 is, quite simply, "bigger, faster, louder, stronger, and more," but in all the best ways. It's a huge, sprawling, dark, funny action-fest that's got strong fists, the soul of a horror film, a strange sense of heart and nobility, and the gruesome enthusiasm of the best Road Runner cartoons. Every filmmaker should treat their favorite genre like Gareth Evans treats his.
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF THE RAID 2


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