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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    Buckethead

    This definitely isn't the first time we've showcased horror themed music videos on the site... even when a band's music isn't necessarily horror-based, if they put out a video with scary elements or horror movie homages, I make a point of sharing and reporting on it, and tons of music videos have made our Year's Best lists. Now I'm excited to announce we'll be devoting a regular feature to music videos both old and new, either popular or underground, that make horror visuals their main focus... and today we're gonna kick this off proper with one from the WTF vaults.
     
    Enigmatic, kabuki-masked guitar virtuoso Buckethead (who, as shown above, literally wears a bucket on his head) has long been associated with the horror genre: his intricate, hyperactive neck-tapping guitar style has made its way onto soundtracks for splatter flicks like Flesh for the Beast and the comparatively mainstream John Carpenter film Ghosts of Mars, plus his albums almost always adopt horror, sci-fi and monster movie themes. He's even collaborated with horror icon Bill Moseley, who returns to his “Chop-Top” persona from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as vocalist for the short-lived act Cornbugs.
     
    The mystery axe-man has teamed up with many other vocalists, including former System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian – who is also known to horror TV watchers for his opening title theme to the anthology series Fear Itself. The pair's recent musical matchup, from Buckethead's album Enter the Chicken, resulted in this totally whacked-out oddity filled with occult trappings and roadkill reanimation experiments that might have made Re-Animator's Herbert West say “Damn, you need help, bruh.”
     
     
    Still staring at the screen wondering what the hell just happened in front of your eyeballs? Maybe this making-of video will help you sort it all out. Then again, probably not. But it's fun to watch. (Leatherface alert!)
     

     


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    Fran Drescher Hotel TransylvaniaWe don’t feature animation here on FEARnet.com that often, but when an animated film comes along that features the classic movie monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy we have to bend the rules a little. Hotel Transylvania (out on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD January 29) takes these beloved beasts and brings them together to tell a hilarious tale that also pushes the importance of acceptance and being proud of who you are. With voice acting from Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, and many more, the film is one of several animated films recently that have delved into slightly darker territory (and we’re all the better for it).

    FEARnet recently sat down with actress Fran Drescher (who plays “Eunice,” the Bride of Frankenstein) to discuss voicing The Bride, a possible sequel, and her Cancer Schmancer movement.

    You only have a few lines in Hotel Transylvania, but you have a pretty significant role. How did you get involved in the project?

    The project started with a different director and they asked if I were interested in doing it, but then it kind of went on a shelf for a while. Adam Sandler eventually got involved and it picked up momentum. He brought in his own team of comedy writers and started making calls to people that he wanted to be a part of the movie. It turns out that he’s a fan of mine and, of course, that feeling is mutual. So he called me and asked if I still wanted to do the movie. I said, “I’d love to,” and then the movie really started to take on momentum.

    I was very happy to be a part of it. I always loved the idea of playing the Bride of Frankenstein and I love that they got Kevin James to play Frank, so it was all good. I was really, really happy. It’s a great cast. I’ve already had Molly Shannon on my show Happily Divorced so it’s been a very fruitful experience. I love the movie and I love the positive message that it has and I think that it’s good family entertainment. It’s really funny and it’s got a little bit of adult humor too. I like playing comedy on several different levels so it’s been good. I’m pleased.

    One of the funniest lines in the film is a bit of a nod to the adults as well as a wink from you where your character tells another character that they have an “annoying voice.” Did it feel good to poke fun at some of the folks that might have said similar things about some of your past characters?

    Oh, you know. It’s all in the name of good-natured humor. I’m all good about that. I don’t like mean spirited stuff and I think that the larger message of the movie is to not put down what you don’t really understand. And that, when you look a little closer, you may find that you have more in common than you think.

    I like to think of myself as a unifier. I like to do it in Washington. I like to do it globally through my television shows. I like to do it in the health space with my Cancer Schmancer movement. I think that’s kind of where I’m coming from.

    The film does have few darker, more horrific, moments as well and we’ve seen that a little bit more in animation this year. What do you think it is that’s making children’s films move in that direction? Do you think kids are just maturing more quickly these days?

    I think different kids respond to different things. I never really liked anything that was scary or violent or particularly bad, but I think that, at the end of the day, making movies is a business and it’s always speaking to a specific demographic. I don’t think that it means that there’s any kind of shift in any one direction.

    I actually think that Hotel Transylvania is the antithesis of that. It’s not really scary and it’s not mean spirited. And that picture is the one that did the best out of all of them and made the most global money.

    I could easily see Hotel Transylvania blossoming into a franchise. Have you heard anything about a possible sequel?

    I have heard some things about a sequel and I’m just hoping that they want me to be in it.

    The cast is really stellar. Did you get chance to work alongside any of them or was this more of a solitary, in-the-recording-booth, thing for you?

    For me, it was totally in the booth and solitary, but I did get to meet with the whole cast when we went to Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. That was a lot of fun and it was great meeting all the other actors. They’re people that I’ve admired and enjoyed their work for so long, so it was really lovely meeting them and sharing in the premiere of the movie.


    If you could pick one thing, out of everything you’ve done in your career so far, what’s the one thing you wish had gotten more attention or notice?

    I think that there are several things because I have so many different interests and I were so many different hats in life. I think that my cancer survival and turning that into the Cancer Schmancer movement has been a very important aspect of my life and opening up people’s thinking to the fact that they have control over reducing their risk of cancer, how they choose to live their life and, if you catch it on arrival, there’s a 95% survival rate. So stage one is the cure.

    I think that The Nanny has been a huge part of my life and big step up for me. The massive audience that I can speak to worldwide on many different subjects like making people happy and also speaking for the greater good. Civil liberties are very important for me. Protecting our constitutional rights is very important to me. I’m very patriotic and I don’t want to see us slip into a rabbit hole that compromises the great vision of what this nation stands for.

    You can see Fran Drescher as the voice of Eunice in Hotel Transylvania on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD on January 29.


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    tenebreSynapse Films has recently announced its plans to release new, high-def collector editions of two of Dario Argento's films, and two of Lamberto Bava's films. Tenebrae and Phenomena from Argento; Demons and Demons 2 from Bava should all be available on blu-ray and DVD by the end of the year.

    Don May Jr. from Synapse spoke exclusively to Fangoria, and had this to say:

    "We’re getting better hi-def masters of Tenebrae and Phenomena, and we’re fixing the timing and color errors that were in the previous Blu-rays of the Demons films. Right now, Calum Waddell and High Rising Productions are working on supplements for Demons and Demons 2. They’re putting together all kinds of stuff for us on those two, with the participation of Simon Boswell, Alan Jones, Federico Zampaglione and Roy Bava, and many more to be announced. We haven’t started on the Tenebrae and Phenomena extras yet."


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    Chris Garcia- mad man, VHS collectorWith the popularity of V/H/S and the quick distribution deal for sequel S-V/H/S at Sundance, it seems like the VHS format may be having a bit of a renaissance. Cover art is key to the allure of the VHS tape – clearly no one is buying them for their box-filling bulkiness – and almost everyone of a certain age has a story about falling in love with a VHS box only to take it home and find out the movie inside was even better.

    I had two obsessions at the video store: One was Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker, which featured a button on the box that, when pushed, played the line “Wanna date?” over and over. Rabid Grannies, which boasted a picture of two hungry-looking zombie grandmothers and the tagline, “They just love their grandchildren... well done!” was the other.  To my thirteen-year-old mind that was the funniest idea ever.

    This month’s obsessive collector is Chris Garcia. The man has a collection of over 800 VHS, so basically, he could open a video rental store out of his home. I wish he would. His collection is pretty fantastic; read about it and see some pictures below. Chris also reviews films. Visit his blog The Gorezette and Facebook page here.

    The Collector: Chris Garcia

    Location: Originally from Chicago, IL, but moved to Northwest Indiana about a year ago. Moving my collection was a hassle, so much I still haven't fully unpacked!

    What: I have a pretty large collection of horror VHS tapes. The more obscure the better, but even the common has a place in the collection. If I have a DVD copy of a movie, chances are I own a VHS version as well. No real reason though, best of both worlds I suppose.

    Years Collecting: I would have to say around 10 years old, when it became apparent this wasn't a mere whim but a hobby. Seemingly though as long as buying films on VHS was as common as buying a blu-ray today …  If I wanted to be technical it was even longer than that! Every time I seen a good horror flick I just had to own it. So in a sense Ive been a collector all my life.

    How Many: I'd say close to 800 VHS, and that is just the VHS portion. I also have close to 500 DVDs as well. I probably lost count around 10 years old.

    How the Obsession Started: Well video stores were prominent fixtures in my childhood, many of which were walking distance. Every neighborhood in our area had more than a few stores. So viewing and collecting these tapes are nostalgic to me, it brings back those memories of being a young kid walking amongst the aisles with my parents and looking in awe at the cool and crazy cover art that graced the tapes. My parents loved horror films too, so they were always cool with renting them. There's just something about renting a video from a seedy mom and pop store that I just love. Netflix, Pay Per View, and Red Box can't compare to that. It was all about the "adventure" to me, sometimes you would pick a great underground gem and sometimes you would get that terrible turkey that sucked so bad you couldn't believe you sat and watched it.

    Most Prized Find: All of my big box tapes ! Those always were the most eye catching tapes on the rack. They sucked you in with the cool cover art and big jumbo sized box that made everything else look tame.

    Rarest Piece in Collection: That's tough, I have a nice size section on my shelves of really rare tapes. But I would have to say my copies of Lunch Meat and Last House on Dead End Street.

    Craziest Thing You've Done for the Collection: I cleared out a local video store of ALL their horror VHS when they were closing. I came everyday like a vulture circling its prey. A big chunk of my collection came from that store. I spent my entire check there. I'd say that's pretty crazy.

    The Horror Holy Grail: The Abomination on VHS! I remember seeing that tape several times in almost every video store in my area. I never got a chance to grab a copy. Now it goes for insane amounts of money. I just hope one day it will cross my path again.

    What Else Do You Collect: Everything horror related: action figures, books, magazines, comics, video store and theater promotional items. But one thing I also collect a lot of is vinyl LP's. Any original hardcore punk, heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, the older the better, cause newer music is for sissies.

    FEARnet Fan Obsessions: Chris Garcia and VHS
     

    Chris Garcia VHS

    Chris Carcia More VHS 2

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    noel clarke storage 24Storage units in and of themselves are pretty scary. They are dirty, dusty, drafty, and poorly lit. Plus you never know what kind of freak show the guy next door is storing. Frankly, I'm surprised more for films aren't set here. That's where Storage 24 comes in. When a couple breaks up, they take their mutual friends with them to clear out their shared storage unit. But then a creature starts killing them off, and suddenly a bad breakup doesn’t look so bad.

    FEARnet spoke with Noel Clarke, who wrote and stars in Storage 24. He shared with us his thoughts on CG, writing versus directing, and making fanboy heads across the globe implode.

    You both wrote and starred in Storage 24. Where did the idea come from?

    I’ve had the idea for awhile. About six or seven years ago, all these storage facilities began popping up. Having to go there once or twice with family and just looking around, I thought these kinds of places were creepy. There are no windows, they have the same corridors over and over - you could really get lost in there. My first thought was that it should be a serial killer. One day I just woke up and thought, “A serial killer would be ridiculous. But an alien...!” I am a sci-fi fan, so that’s where it came from.

    Did you write the role of Charlie for yourself?

    No. I don’t usually play the roles that are kind of the “weaker” guy. Most of the roles I play are stronger guys, more evil guys, more vicious guys. So it was really interesting, with this director’s pass on the script, to see what he wanted me to do. I think I [initially] wrote Charlie a lot cooler than that. Johannes [Roberts, the director] was like, “No, I want you to play Charlie, but I want you to make Charlie a whiny, moaning guy who goes on a journey to become a different guy.”

    The alien / monster / creature - I’m not sure what you want to call it - for most of the scenes, that was a guy in a suit, right?

    Yes.

    Was that always the plan?

    It wasn’t. I think, initially, the plan was to do a full CG creature. We sat down and thought that we wouldn’t really get the emotion or performance or even certain quirky moments if we used a full CG creature. We decided a guy in a suit who could then have CG mapped on top would work a lot better for the actors, for the practicality, the scenery - knocking over stuff - so that’s what we went for. It’s arguable about which is cheaper, but I think [the guy in a suit] was a much better choice. Much, much better.

    You’ve worked with CG creatures in the past. Do you prefer working with a practical creature?

    I think working with a practical creature is better. Most of mine - even the Doctor Who stuff was pretty much 50/50 - but on those occasions where it was full CG, I found it was better to have something in front of me so I wasn’t doing “crazy eyes” at a tennis ball. But either way, I don’t mind.

    noel clarke storage 24You seem to largely focus on writing and acting, but you have directed in the past. Are you planning on doing any more?

    Yeah, I’m planning to get back into that. The plan is to direct one that I am in, then after that, direct one that I don’t appear in at all.

    Is there any one aspect - writing, directing, acting - that you prefer?

    Probably the directing and acting. The writing I do love, and I do it, but it’s kind of a means to an end. I have an idea and I get it on paper instead of waiting for someone else to do it. But with acting, you are on set, you are doing it, you are pretending to be other people, hopefully you are doing a good job at it - that’s what I really enjoy. When you are directing you are creating another world. That’s all fun when you are writing, but for writing, I have to write like 20 things for two to get made, so that is really time-consuming and draining.

    Is it difficult to direct something you are starring in?

    It has its challenges, which is why you need to have a good team around you. I like what Ben Affleck does: he directs one movie that he’s in, then he does one that he’s not in. Ideally, that’s what I’d like to do, if I’m allowed. Do one that I’m in and then do what that I’m not in at all. Sit back, grow a big beard, show up in my pajamas with a big pipe and say, “Yeah, I’m directing” and not worry about being on screen. 

    You had mentioned that you are a fan of sci-fi and genre. What is the appeal?

    I don’t know, it’s just something I’ve always been interested in, since I was young. I really like to believe that there is something else out there. The arrogance of humanity to believe that we are the only [living] things in the universe befuddles me. So I like to believe there is more out there. I’ve always believed that, since I was a little kid. That is what draws me in. Then watching Star Trek and Captain Picard having his little touch screen device, and how we have iPads now... know what I mean? I watched Next Generation and Voyager and Doctor Who... it’s this guy in a little box! I’ve just always been drawn to it. This is my third or fourth sci-fi script, but the only one that has been made.

    You grew up watching Star Trek and Dr. Who, and now you are in Star Trek and Dr. Who. When you found out, were you just like a little kid, freaking out?

    It’s really crazy. It’s like dreams come true. And for the record, to put it out there in the ether, the other thing I watched religiously was Star Wars so print that, and hopefully someone will see that  and I will wield a light saber at some point. I feel like I would be the messiah of sci-fi people if I was in Trek, Wars and Doctor Who. A trifecta of madness.

    I think some of the geek boys’ out there, their heads would implode.

    I would implode! I’d be like,  “Oh my god, that guy is in those three things - wait, that is me! Ack!” I’d be so confused.

    Especially on your first day on set, do you get kind of starstruck and fanboy-ish, or are you able to keep your cool?

    I’m too old for that. No matter how big or small or cool something is, I keep my cool and do my job and do it to the best of my ability. I don’t really get overly excited about anything anymore. I love it so much, but I don’t get starstruck or fanboy by anyone or anything anymore.

    Without giving anything away, Storage 24 is very much set up for a sequel. Are you planning that?

    No. I mean, I have the story in my head, but no, not at all. I love endings like that. We actually wanted a SWAT team to come in, but to have 20 guys in SWAT outfits come in would have cost more than the ending we ended up having. The whole point of this movie, because it was so low-budget, was to prove you could do it on a low-budget. They gave me the price for the SWAT ending, and then I suggested the other ending, and they said, “We can do that for this price.” So we went with that! That’s how we got the end shot - which I love.

    So originally the ending was completely different?

    Yeah. The same thing happens, but then as we get out of the [storage] building, SWAT is running towards us, but it was just too expensive. What we did have ended up being a much cooler shot.

    And where the film ended, that was unintentional?

    Well it kind of was what we intended, but we didn’t think we could afford that big shot.  What we [planned] was we would have SWAT putting [the monster] in the truck, and you would see like three other containers just like it, so you knew there was more. But then it was cheaper to do the VFX shot we did, which I love even more.


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    lost girlLost Girl Episode 303
    “Confaegion”
    Written By: James Thorpe
    Directed By: Paolo Barzman
    Original Airdate: 28 January 2013

    In This Episode...

    Vex is going through a mid-life crisis. He still doesn’t have any of his powers and is tired of crashing on Bo and Kenzi’s couch. He steals Bo’s phone and brings it to Morrigan so she can delete the incriminating photo Bo has of her. Vex hopes that this will ingratiate himself with the Morrigan and he can get back his standing in the community. It doesn’t; the Morrigan wants Bo’s “head on a platter.”

    Unbeknownst to Vex, the Morrigan infected him with some kind of parasite. When he returns home, it jumps into Bo and makes her act like a 13-year-old. When Dyson thinks she has had too much to drink, Bo giggles and gets excited because she thinks he has a fake ID. And she “totally” wants to kiss him. The parasite transfers to Dyson, who “totally” wants to ask her on a date. And then it goes to Tamsin, who starts singing “Bo and Dyson sitting in a tree...” Lauren first thinks that Bo has a concussion, but when she realizes whatever it is has spread, she rethinks her diagnosis. She finds a pustule behind Vex’s ear which turns out to be a cocoon. Lauren realizes Bo, Dyson, and Tamsin have been infected by a parasite that causes them to regress to adolescence, before their fae powers have developed. It also causes the infected to give off a secretion that lures up the underfae and instigates them into violence. It’s a pretty weaksauce curse or infection or whatever you want to call it.

    One of the underfae that makes his way into Bo’s house is a pig man. Kenzi and Lauren are desperate for a weapon while the “kids” are upstairs playing spin the bottle and dancing to Duran Duran. Kenzi finds a branch on the counter and grabs it. In doing so it grows and glows and grants Kenzi some ninja superpowers. This is the Staff of Righteousness, a relic that Bo had retrieved for Trick. Kenzi handily kills the pig man, but soon finds the staff is fused with her hand. These underfae tend to travel in packs, so when the scout doesn’t come back, his brethren are bound to come looking for him. Lauren sets to work on an antidote. Three more piggies show up, led by Vex, and Kenzi does the best she can fending them off while Lauren finishes and administers the antidote. Vex seems to be back on Team Morrigan, but at the last minute sides with Kenzi (they bonded over mascara.) Bo comes downstairs, healed and ready to fight. She takes on the pig men while Kenzi and Lauren watch from a (very) safe distance.

    So Vex decides it is time to leave Bo and Kenzi’s couch, and heads off into the great unknown. Trick tells Kenzi that by picking up the staff, she has taken on a noble cause. Luckily there is an escape clause: she just says, “I decline.” The staff falls from her hand harmlessly. And Hale brings the Morrigan in to chastise her about nearly breaking the perilous peace between the light and dark fae with all her tomfoolery.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    I didn’t like pre-teens when I was a pre-teen, so watching adults act like pre-teens  does not come across as humorous or wacky or adorable; it comes across as obnoxious. Luckily we weren’t subjected to whatever terrible teen angst poetry Bo and Tamsin thought it would be fun to write. Kenzi was super kick-ass tonight.

    Fae Tales

    Tamsin admits tonight that she is a Valkyrie, however she doesn’t elaborate on what this means in the fae world. She does mention a deep, dark secret that no one can help her with.

    Prophecies?

    Dyson and Bo each need favors from one another.


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    S-VHS2012’s V/H/S hit the Sundance Film Festival with such gory success that it only makes sense that the guerilla team of next generation horror directors, writers, and producers would team up again and try to replicate it a year later. With less bloat (the original ran almost two hours) and two segments that stand among the best short horror films of the last decade, S-VHS is a more creative success than its predecessor in every way. As with all anthology films, the final result doesn’t quite bat 1.000 but it’s close enough that genre junkies should eat it up when Magnolia releases it later this year.

    The much-leaner and tighter wraparound story (called “Tape 49,” and directed by Simon Barrett) has a similar vibe as the original in that some innocent folks find a number of static-filled screens and old VHS tapes. This time, it’s a private dick and his assistant who take the case of trying to track down one of the kids from the first film and break into his house only to find his library of twisted, found footage tales. As the detective tries to solve the case of the missing vandal, his lovely assistant watches four disturbing films that may owe their lineage to the original V/H/S but are undeniably more slickly produced, conceived, and directed. The most undeniable case to be made by anyone who prefers the original will be that V/H/S had a more lo-fi, and, consequently, more organically scary aesthetic.

    The first standalone segment, “Phase 1 Clinical Trials,” was directed by and stars Adam Wingard (You’re Next) as a poor soul who gets a camera implanted in his retina so the formerly blind man can see again. The creative spark to merge found-footage with first-person perspective starts S-VHS off on a clever note and instantly elevates the experience above your average Paranormal Activity rip-off. Of course, as horror fans might expect, the ocular camera allows the haunted fella to see things that other cannot like the ghosts coming to get him. A fellow damned soul with a cochlear implant that allows her to hear the undead tries to save our protagonist but things end up predictably crazy. “Phase 1” gets points for concept but misses the mark a bit in terms of execution (other than an amazing pool shot, it’s surprisingly unmemorable visually given the potential of its set-up).

    Any concern that S-VHS might succumb to the same tedium that sometimes bled into the original is dismissed with the second and third segments of the film, which combine to form one of the most entertaining hours of the horror genre in the last several years. It starts with Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) & Gregg Hale’s brilliant “A Ride in the Park,” which opens with a biker strapping a cam to his forehead and heading out on his morning jaunt. When he’s interrupted by the zombie apocalypse, we’re treated to an idea so ingenious that it’s remarkable no one tried it earlier – first-person zombie cam. Eating intestines, chasing after children, getting hit by a car – “A Ride in the Park” is funny and so smart that it nearly makes S-VHS worth a look on its very own. I wish it was a tick scarier as it plays purely as gore comedy in this incarnation but it’s a minor complaint.
     

    I have no complaints, major nor minor, about the brilliant “Safe Haven” from Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption) & Timo Tjahjanto. A cult leader invites a TV crew to film his commune on the day that he finally breaks through to the other side and literally unleashes Hell. Evans & Tjahjanto start slow, allowing the creepy behavior around the compound (caught not just by the TV crew but security cameras in the complex) to build until you’re left wondering if it will pay off, which it then does in ways you can’t even imagine. Fans of Evans’ fantastic The Raid will see a similar structure here as this short film also takes place in one location on a very bad day for innocent people to be caught there. The same ingenuity that Evans displayed with action choreography there can be found here as “Safe Haven” builds to a degree of gory insanity that left Sundance audiences gasping. Unlike so many modern horror and action directors, he knows how to deliver on his set-ups in ways that audiences just never see coming.

    There’s a natural comedown after the genius of “Safe Haven” to Jason Eisener’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” which, well, is pretty self-explanatory. A group of kids (and Eisener claimed in the introduction to the premiere at Sundance that his short was based on a family vacation they took) plays around with cameras until the aliens land and the abductions begin. Eisener operates a bit too much from the “throw the camera around and make loud noises” school of horror but there’s still some surreal imagery here that I’ll remember.

    The producers of S-VHS made several smart decisions when they chose to follow up on their original. Cutting the film by one segment overall makes it feel notably more refined and getting such smart found footage concepts from Sanchez & Evans makes it worth seeing on its own (and I don’t even have as many complaints about Barrett, Wingard, or Eisener’s segments as I do most of the original). After V/H/S, I presumed the concept of a low-budget found-footage film had been exhausted. After S-VHS, I eagerly anticipate a third film (D-VHS?) in 2014.


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    Tellus Requiem

    This isn't the first time I've professed my love for Scandinavian metal, mostly due to that area's predominance of huge, cinematic production styles and lyrical themes drawing from ancient folklore and dark fantasy. It probably won't be the last time I mention that either. One of my more enjoyable finds from the mighty Norse lands is Norwegian five-man power metal outfit Tellus Requiem, whose style ventures beyond solid melodies and anthemic refrains (although they do handle those very well) and into the neoclassical arrangements, long-form songwriting and grand-scale storytelling that are progressive metal's stock in trade. Like many prog-metal bands on both sides of the Atlantic, Tellus Requiem draws strength from key members' backgrounds in classical music, often composing on an operatic scale in the mode of Dream Theater or Symphony X, but never resorting to orchestral passages as a mere backdrop for the metal elements, a habit pretty common in European symphonic metal.
     
    Formed in 2007 by guitarist Stig Nergård, Tellus Requiem turned out a promising self-titled debut in 2010, and soon signed to Nightmare Records, who then released their latest ten-track epic Invictus. The style and scope are very consistent across both albums, serving as two chapters in an ongoing saga – much like the Norse myth-based “Ring Cycle” operas of Richard Wagner, whom the band cites as one of their influences. Like the band's name, which in Latin loosely translates as “Death Mass for the Earth” (a requiem is an ancient funeral rite often accompanied by dramatic music), the songs are also reminiscent of a majestic ceremony, cast with shadows of impending doom. 
     
    Tellus Requiem - Invictus
     
    The instrumental intro "Ab Aeterno" sells that concept very well, as does the ominous, brooding cut "Dies Irae” (“Day of Wrath,” another reference to the Latin death mass), which closes out the album. In between, we get a hefty slab of blazing, tight power metal, solid and emotionally pure higher-range clean vocals from Ben Rodgers, and damn incredible keyboard work from Anders Sundbø, who with his classical training is one of the standard-bearers for the band's sound – pretty impressive for a genre which usually leans more toward highly technical guitar work. All the proof you need is in "Red Horizon,” which you can hear in this performance clip:
     
     
    The intensity and power of that piece is fairly well-matched in following cut "Eden Burns,” which contains a breathtaking piano & guitar passage, as well as the equally massive title track, which takes all of those components and cranks them to 11. The musical recipe is pretty consistent across the album, which is just fine by me (you know what they say about fixing something that ain't broke), although they do add some heavier variations on "Sands Of Gold,” one of the most progressive-leaning songs along with "Reflections Remain,” both of which are long, dark and sprawling epics with constant shifts in speed, tempo, tone and mood befitting a mini-symphony. Lighter, smoother melodic touches come into play in "Twilight Hour" and the more down-tempo "Tranquility,” while "Redemption" is a thematic continuation of the moody ballad-like track “Frontiers” from the band's debut album.
     
    Both straight-up power metal and progressive metal tend to polarize listeners – some find the technical wizardry of the former to be overly showy at the expense of emotional purity, while some find the latter to be rambling and unfocused. But when those two come together in proper balance, their excesses are ironed out and the real emotions come through. Tellus Requiem have found that balance in Invictus, and a lot of it comes from allowing all the instruments – including the keyboards – to carry equal weight. This empowers the whole group, from the drums all the way up to the vocals, and the end product is pretty exciting.

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    Jim Mickle We Are What We AreMulberry Street and Stake Land director Jim Mickle came to Park City this year with his third film, a remake of 2010’s We Are What We Are and walked out of Sundance with a deal to release the critically-acclaimed work nationwide. Premiering at midnight on the first full day of the fest, We Are What We Are was instantly acclaimed and marks a notable growth in style and ability by its talented creator. Starring Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Bill Sage, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, and Kelly McGillis, We Are is the story of a family of cannibals but it’s not the blood-and-guts extravaganza you may be expecting. With an eye for composition that reminds one of Guillermo Del Toro’s horror films and a strong vein of surreal tension a la David Lynch, this is one of the most memorable scary movies to premiere at Sundance in years. The director sat down with FEARnet to talk about the difficulty of making a rain-soaked film when it doesn’t rain, how Robert Altman & Peter Weir influenced this work, and the fine line a director walks when staging scenes of a family eating human stew.

    FEARnet: Had you seen the original?

    Jim Mickle: I hadn't seen it until the producers came along and said they had the rights to it. We played like four straight film festivals with Stake Land with (the original) We Are What We Are and so I kept hearing it and seeing it and thinking, "This movie sounds awesome! This sounds like something I'd be really into!" But then I just never saw it. And then they asked if I was interested and my first response was that I wasn't really into remakes. It's not kind of what I'm into as a fan. Then I watched and thought there was some cool stuff there but also so much more that could be done.

    You really deviate FAR from the original. Without spoiling anything, the bare bones are the same but that's about it. They gave you that complete freedom?

    That was one of the things. We were like, "What's the goal?" I wanted to do it sort of like an "answer" to the original and not a translation. They were like, literally, "Anything." So then it became a fun game. I felt like the original was very personal. So we took the opposite approach. What was kind of cool was how much still lined up -- the religious angle, the blind faith, all of that lined up but in a very interesting way.

    It also lines up with your filmography. Stake Land had deep religious themes as well. So is that something that made this project attractive to you?

    Yeah, totally. That was what I kind of liked. Stake Land is broader, bigger scale. It was also still sort of a Mad Max-y, John Carpenter ride and so there was a, not cartoon, but "big" element to what we were doing. And there's a balance to that and I've met people who thought Stake Land hit too hard on the Christian Fundamentalist thing. There was also a quieter side to that that I wanted to explore. When I heard this concept I thought that you have such an amazingly strong, primal response to cannibals. You have that in your back pocket. You can have that response linger over the entire movie and it gives you space to do other things and, still, technically, make a horror movie.

    You reveal that they're cannibals early and so it's not a "gotcha" element like we would see in so many similarly plotted films. It allows for tension.

    Totally. And it's also really fun to make a movie with expectations. We're not starting from scratch. People come in and know what it is. By the time it plays one festival, people know what it is. And so we're going with the presumption that the audience knows that these people are cannibals and so we're not holding it back to trick you. We're working with "what kind" of cannibals and what that means. And then that became a fun way to play with things.

    And then how do you find your cast? The two girls are stellar, especially Julia Garner.

    One of our producers did Martha Marcy May Marlene and I'm a GIANT fan of that movie. I love love love that movie and Julia was in that. He was like, "What about Julia Garner?" "That girl with the curly hair? She'd be GREAT." I met with her and saw a lot of the stuff she had done for Electric Children. It was her first lead and, coincidentally enough, Bill Sage plays her father in that too. I loved her from that and had a really good meeting. She's a pretty exciting actress. Ambyr, we had somebody else cast and it didn't work out schedule-wise. I went through a binge of watching tapes and her audition, for another movie, blew me away. The script was bad and it was a bad scene but I was glued to her. We just took a shot. I knew she had already shot The Master with Paul Thomas Anderson and I love him and he trusts her. She came from a Mormon household and so her understanding of it. She got it. That was a big thing, drawing parallels to new religion.

    We Are What We AreDo you speak thematically like that to your cast, not just working with them on a character level but expressing what the whole vision is about?

    Yeah, yeah. A little bit. I don't want to burden them but what was cool between the two girls was that Julia had her own approach. She had been home-schooled for the past two years. She had her own insular thing. And then Ambyr would be like, "Yes, this is what you do. You're afraid God will punish you. You're being told your entire life and so you do it." We would rehearse for a couple days and Julia wouldn't get something and Ambyr would explain it. It was AWESOME. I would try to push them in a direction but let them connect the dots.

    The first thing you think of when I say this -- it could be a specific day or a general element -- what was the greatest challenge in making this film?

    The rain. That was a nightmare. It didn't rain during the entire month that we shot. [The story of the film takes place during a torrential, flooding downpour. It rains in nearly every scene.] The whole thing...we wrote it around Hurricane Irene because we got stuck in the Catskills when Irene hit when I was working on editing Stake Land. We had no power. My girlfriend and I have a place up there. There was 20 feet of water on Main Street. So, that was part of the whole reason to make a movie there -- bring business back, highlight the area. We wrote the whole thing to rain the entire movie and then it rained one day, for 20 minutes, during lunch. That was a drag. You want to spend time working on emotions and you have to worry about where the water is falling. I give a lot of credit to the cast.

    You never thought, "OK, maybe this scene doesn't need a deluge"? You never gave up on the idea for practicality?

    Continuity-wise, it has to take place during flooding rain. The hardest thing actually for me was Stake Land and Mulberry Street were loose movies because we had no money and so you're just adapting to whatever is being thrown at you. This movie, I sat down early on and wanted to do something we hadn't done. No handheld. Naturalistic. Heightened composition. This is the way we planned it and this is what we're sticking to. It was a challenge but it was really fun.

    What films or filmmakers inspired this work in any way?

    David Lynch. Blue Velvet. What I love about Nick Damici's writing -- he really does the writing and I just polish, tweak, cut, break the news when something has to go -- is that he has this weird, completely dark, f**ked up side and then the love scene feels like a Kyle Maclachlan scene from Blue Velvet. It kind of has old-fashioned dialogue. Teenagers don't really speak like this but it captures what you're trying to say. Blue Velvet is one of my favorite movies ever. I wrote my thesis on it. Rosemary's Baby, 3 Women, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

    What from Altman’s film? The style of the female characters and relationship?

    The way that the girls are so strong-looking. They almost become part of the production design -- Shelley Duvall and her costumes. Early on, when we were trying to fine-tune design...our girls are so striking. They are the centerpiece of the set and you build around the textures of Julia's hair. What else? Martha Marcy was huge. A big mish-mosh of stuff.

    How do you settle on Michael Parks?

    I love that guy. Every time I'm working on something with an old grizzly guy character, I'm always thinking Michael Parks. It was always difficult to pull off in ways that financiers would go for since they were usually more lead roles. With this, I loved Michael and just sent him a letter. "I'm a huge fan. You're Nick Damici's favorite actor." We heard back a few weeks later. He was great. It's funny because Bill Sage told him that Then Came Bronson was one of the first things that made him want to be an actor. And, you know, Wyatt Russell's dad is Kurt Russell and they had done a bunch of movies together. Wyatt said, "The only time that his dad had been in awe on set was with Michael."

    How do you walk the line by going too far into the grotesque? There are shots of human stew and there must have been edits or cuts where you were like, "OK, that's a little too much gore." How do you balance it?

    Good question, good question. A lot of the editing was trial and error. We had a first cut quickly but then there was a two-month process of trimming. We did three or four test screenings with friends. I think filmmakers don't watch movies enough with an audience. They go see a movie for the first time and are befuddled by response. I relish sitting in a room with people and getting that response because I edit my movies too. I think it gives you a really good objectivity to get in the shoes of someone seeing the movie for the first time. Also, I learned things from the other two movies. This time around, it felt like we had a good sense of where we wanted the line to be.

    Do you have any idea what's next?

    We've been working on an adaptation of the Joe Lansdale novel Cold in July for some time. It's more of like a Cormac McCarthy, a neo-noir sort of thing. Not horror. Pretty horrific but not horror. And then we also have, Nick wrote a pretty great, "Native Americans versus a creature from the woods" piece. We just finished the first draft and got the call for We Are What We Are and jumped over.

    Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Arewas picked up by eOne before the end of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival with a planned release in late 2013.


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    Lords of Salem 1

    The Lords of Salem, Rob Zombie's new occult horror film, is slated for release this spring, and in the midst of massive buzz following advance screenings, he's been sneaking out little morsels to tempt us even more. The latest batch of goodies were posted recently on Rob's Facebook timeline, and you can scope them out here. In addition to the latest entry in the monochrome poster series shown above, we also get some chilling stills of the witch-hunters (including the mighty Sid Haig and Michael Berryman) and their captives...
     
    Lords of Salem 2
     
    Lords of Salem 3
     
    … a couple of on-set candids including co-star Jeff Daniel Phillips, along with his fellow “Big H Team” DJs Sheri Moon Zombie and Ken Foree flashing the old one-finger salute.... 
     
    Lords of Salem 4
     
    Lords of Salem 5
     
    ...and Rob and crew preparing for the witch-burning night scene previewed above.
     
    Lords of Salem 6
     
    Expect to see a lot more in the run-up to The Lords of Salem's theatrical release on April 26th, and while you're here take another look at the awesome trailer:
     

     


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    Stephen King GunsStephen King has never shied away from politics.  His college column, King’s Garbage Truck, mostly dealt with pop culture, but also tackled heady subjects like anti-war rallies and abortion.   In 1970’s “A Possible Fairy Tale,” he outlined a 10-day plan for ending the conflict in Viet Nam.  His 1984 article, “Why I Am For Gary Hart,” King stated boldly, “Ronald Reagan is a bad president and must be turned out of office.”  Allegorically, King has tackled political matters again and again, most notably in The Tommyknockers’ concerns about nuclear power and Under the Dome’s barely sub-textual treatise against George W. Bush. 
     

    Which is why his new essay, “Guns,” is a little surprising.  Released as a Kindle Single via his own publishing house, Philtrum Press, “Guns” absolutely touches on politics.  Just past the illustration of the half-mast American flag on the cover, there’s discussion of Red States and Blue States, of “kumbayah socialists of the left and Tea Partiers of the right,” and – most provocatively – President Obama’s recent major initiatives designed to control gun access.  What King does best, though, isn’t political.  While it would be impossible to write a think-piece on gun control and completely avoid politics, “Guns” is about people, living and dead, not statements. 

     

    King has cause for concern.  In the brutal second section of “Guns,” King discusses his novel Rage, again bringing up the book’s potential as an accelerant toward violence.  While he does not apologize for writing Rage (nor has he ever, despite statements to the contrary), he accepts some culpability for it.  In a voice hovering between shocked and dismayed, King details the stories of the murderers who were later discovered with a copy of Rage.  While he urges us to understand them, “that doesn’t mean we excuse them, or give them blueprints to express their hate and fear.”
     

    Not that the blueprints are everywhere.  King being King, he steps up to defend American pop culture, and the accusation that America is fostering a culture of violence.  Statistically speaking, he says, America is more interested in Mario Brothers than first-person shooters, “mommy-porn” than amoral spree-killer fiction, and The Avengers’ superheroics than gun-horny shoot-em-ups.  He also returns to “A Possible Fairy Tale”’s what-if scenario, imagining an America in which screaming hyperbole evolves into rational discourse.  Unsurprisingly to readers of King’s fiction, the man is an eternal optimist.
     

    Perhaps the most intriguing section is the essay’s first, “The Shake,” which details media response to a mass shooting.  It’s fascinating to watch King rattle off facts amid chaos, a technique he used to great effect when describing the moments and days following his near-fatal car accident in 2000’s On Writing.  In King’s short story, “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French,” King posits that “hell is repetition.”  That ethos is alive here, as well.   His tone disaffected, numb, King explains, “That’s how it shakes out,” without raising his voice or making grand proclamations.    


    “Guns” is a smart, important essay that works hard at using common sense as a tool for discussion.  He doesn’t vilify gun owners – somewhat surprisingly, he is one – and he doesn’t believe in quick, token solutions.  He posits questions and attempts answers.  He talks with not down, and his charming, folky voice is compelling, even under these dire circumstances.  And shares statistics – and Bill Clinton’s quote that it’s not opinion, it’s arithmetic – perhaps none more damning than the one in his final sentence: “About eighty people die of gunshot wounds in America every day.”

    - - -

    “Guns” is Stephen King’s first non-fiction piece released as a Kindle Single.  It is available on Amazon.com for $0.99; those without Kindles can download apps for computers, Macs, phones and tablets.  Profits from “Guns” will benefit victims of gun violence. 

    Kevin Quigley is a FEARnet columnist and author whose website, CharnelHouseSK.com is one of the world’s leading online resources for Stephen King news and information.  Quigley’s books on King – including Chart of Darkness, Drawn Into Darkness, Wetware, and Blood Your Ears – are available from CemeteryDance.com, as are his fiction collections, This Terrestrial Hell and Surf’s Up.  His first novel, I’m On Fire, is upcoming.   


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    Barghest

    Cryptozoology is definitely a fascinating field. Unlike the purely scientific realm of traditional zoology, which mainly studies and catalogs animals from all eras based on empirical evidence, the study of “cryptids” focuses almost entirely on creatures whose existence has not yet been proven scientifically. While many scientists dismiss cryptozoology as nothing more than amateur monster-chasing dating back to early sailors' tales of mermaids and sea monsters, the field has nevertheless captivated both casual and serious observers for decades... and you may remember that the elusive giant squid was once considered one of those big fish fantasies until researchers finally got up-close and personal with one.
     
    For this new feature series, we'll pick a different cryptid with each installment, take a brief look at the legends and lore behind it, report any recent attempts to prove its existence scientifically, and its influence on popular culture and media. You've heard more than enough about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti, so we won't really get into those... unless a dramatic new story surfaces that shines new light on these elusive beasties. Today, however, let's look at a creature who gets much less publicity, outside of regional legends and horror stories: The Barghest Hound, also known simply as “The Black Dog.”
     
    Barghest 2
     
    The only famous Black Dog I'd heard of (besides the Led Zeppelin song) was from the chilling Sherlock Holmes tale The Hound of the Baskervilles. But it turns out that beastie was based on a long-standing legend, which depicts a huge nocturnal canine with glowing red eyes whose presence foreshadows death. The lore of the Barghest may actually date back to pre-Christian times, but it became most prominent in Yorkshire and other northern regions of England. After I battled packs of Barghest Hounds in the horror board game A Touch of Evil (which is truly awesome, you need to play it), I looked further into the lore and discovered that the Black Dog legend extends well beyond the British Isles, and may also have variations in Germany, France, Belgium and other parts of Europe... even Latin America, where it is often tied to occult and werewolf legends. But in almost all the tales, it is said to be a ghost or demon, definitely not of this earth, and a serious badass.
     
    MDB_Barghest
     
    There's not much in the way of true modern-day Barghest sightings, but he's a hugely popular figure in tons of genre media – including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, most versions of the Dungeons & Dragons canon (games and books), video games including Lord of the Rings and Final Fantasy XI & XII, and most notably in the creepy EP The Barghest O'Whitby by UK doom metallers My Dying Bride, which refers specifically to the Yorkshire legend... drop the lights and listen to the EP in its entirety!
     

     


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    Warm Bodies  Isaac MarionI first ran into author Isaac Marion after hearing about this amazing new author that took the zombie genre and did something totally new and unique with it. After devouring Warm Bodies during a flight from DC to San Diego, I was sold on this new author and had to reach out to him to talk about his work.

    The film adaptation of Warm Bodies is about to hit theaters on February 1, and I recently caught up with Marion again to discuss what it’s like having his first novel get turned into a highly anticipated film.

    FEARnet:Okay let’s pretend for a minute that you and I haven’t spoken a million times (okay two times) – describe for FEARnet fans why you love the zombie genre so much?

    Isaac Marion: I wouldn't say I specifically love the zombie genre. I love genre material in general, but I don't usually create or consume it in its pure form. I like art that takes genre elements and elevates them, transcends the tropes and uses them in more interesting ways. Since genre stuff is so deeply imbedded in our pop-culture psyche, it makes a great shortcut to exploring deeper ideas.

    I think you captured that perfectly in Warm Bodies. What was the first thing you did when you found out your debut novel was being turned into a feature film?

    I think I called my mom to let her know she could stop worrying about me, and give her a little good-natured ribbing for all the effort she spent trying to convince me to sideline my artistic pursuits and go back to college. It was a great moment for my family, who always encouraged me but also tried to be realistic about my chances.

    You recently mentioned on Twitter that you missed the Warm Bodies crew – did you get to be on-hand for much of filming?

    I was on-set in Montreal for about two weeks. I did get to be a zombie in the background of one scene (squint very carefully at the tall beardy creature shuffling by in the background when R leads Julie through the airport metal detectors) but mostly I was just there to watch. It was an incredible experience to see all the people and places I dreamed up coming to life... or not coming to life, in some cases. And I really loved all the people I met there. It was such a warm, familial atmosphere. At least one of the cast members is a pretty good friend now. We hang out.

    We spoke before about you being snow-bound in Montana inside of your RV when the trailer for Warm Bodies first premiered, and as we speak you’re currently in Reykjavik, Iceland! How has your life changed since the film became a reality?

    Warm BodiesIt's gotten vastly more hectic. I knew things would start to boil up once the trailer hit but I underestimated it. There have been a lot of fan letters and interviews and promotional trips... flying all over the place to do press in LA, Seattle, f*cking Bulgaria... it's quite overwhelming. I'm actually really looking forward to things calming down so I can get back to writing.
     

    What are you most looking forward to when you attend the premiere on February 1?
     

    It'll be fun to see how my country folk parents handle the madness of Hollywood. My mom hasn't left the Pacific Northwest since her teens and has never been in a taxi. But honestly, what I'm looking forward to most is going home afterwards. Sleeping for a few days. Having a cup of coffee on my porch and petting my cat. Then writing a new book.

    Speaking of new books, Marion is currently working on several “Warm Bodies” related projects, including both a prequel and a sequel to his hit novel. You can catch the film, starring John Malkovich and Nicholas Hoult, when it premieres in theaters everywhere on February first, and you can grab the novel wherever books are sold. All photos court


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    Sacrament_AJ
     
    Worldview Entertainment, the production company behind The Sacrament, the new feature from writer/director Ti West (House of the Devil), has unveiled the first image from the production. This shot, taken from the in Savannah, Georgia location, apparently reveals actor A.J. Bowen sprinting like hell toward what looks like a Bell UH-1 style helicopter, for reasons unknown.
     
    With West at the helm as writer & director and executive producing with Eric Newman, The Sacrament is also being produced and presented by Eli Roth and Worldview (who are also working on Roth's jungle flick The Green Inferno). Plot details and release date are still under wraps, but we'll find out very soon, so stay tuned...

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    dark skiesYou have been chosen. The folks behind alien abduction film Dark Skies have put together an "experiential" site that will allow you to check your Terrestrial ID, body scan, location, and other info that the aliens have on you. You can then share with your friends - or warn them of their impending doom. To check on your abduction status, visit YouHaveBeenChosen.org.

    Dark Skies follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family. It opens in theaters on February 22nd.


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    Brotha Lynch Hung

    A couple of weeks ago FEARnet premiered the music video for Brotha Lynch Hung's “Meat Cleaver,” the latest chapter in the brutal and bloody saga of Lynch's serial killer persona “Coathanga Strangla” – a struggling rap artist who tries to balance a musical career with his sadistic night job. The latest installment “Krocadil' finds the Hanga in a mad panic as he desperately tries to clean up the aftermath of his latest project, while the shadows of his troubled life begin to catch up with him...

     
    Is this the end of the line for the Hanga? We won't know until the final chapter of the Hanga trilogy Mannibalector hits the streets next Tuesday, Febuary 5th. Stay tuned for our review... and more!
     
    Lynch Mannibalector

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    Irina 2

    Just about every horror fan knows about Chris Alexander – writer, musician, journalist, and most famously Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria magazine. Now you can add film directing, cinematography and editing to that resume, as Chris has recently completed his first feature Blood for Irina– a surreal, dreamlike and provocative experiment inspired in part by some of international cinema's most beloved auteurs. I had a very cool Q&A with Chris about the film, his creative process, and the musical score, which he composed and performed himself.

     
    Irina 4
     
    FEARnet: I'm excited that Blood for Irina is making the rounds now. How does it feel seeing it on the big screen?
     
    CHRIS: It is exciting, and extra special for me, considering it was made for nothing and was my “hobby” movie. A few people actually like it and some even think it's destined for cult status. Who knows? But I'm enjoying the ride. 
     
    How many screenings have you held so far?
     
    I think this week makes the sixth public screening. We've played Bruges, Mexico, Brooklyn, Toronto... and we played for one night (January 29th) at the coolest venue ever: Times Scare, the year-round haunted house & bar in Manhattan. That's my final destination.
     
    I read that Harry Kumel praised the film... that must have been an awesome feeling, since I'm sure his Daughters of Darkness was one of your inspirations. 
     
    Daughters and Werner Herzog's version of Nosferatu are without a doubt my favorite vampire films. Kumel has that gauzy, dreamy sensuality and Herzog brings a studied, still, organic aesthetic.
     
    I'm so in love with Herzog's film. It's a personal favorite of mine.
     
    Both of those pictures exemplify the single most important emotional component of the vampire motif, and that's loneliness. There is a romantic ache to those pictures that I tried to capture and it's probably the strongest component of my little film. Irina is about people – living, dead, in limbo, whatever – that cannot connect with themselves, each other or the world, though they desperately want to. 
     
    Did you screen the film for Kumel specifically?
     
    Yes, in fact Harry was the first person I screened the film for, and I was honored that he responded to it. He didn't care for all the blood, however, which is odd considering that I think Irina is relatively tame. I also screened it for Jenny Wright of Near Dark fame, and Jenny is such a poet. She responded very enthusiastically to my deliberate approach – which, let's face it, is not for everyone.
     
    In your imagery, I also see some of Jean Rollin's earthy gothic tones, but with lots of red filters, like a classic giallo.
     
    That use of the color red is in keeping with that Italian and European designer horror flavor.
     
    Were you also inspired by films and directors outside the horror genre?
     
    Yes, I've always loved the meandering, often frustrating approach of masterworks like [Luchino Visconti's] Death in Venice and more recently, Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life. Not that I'm in any way shape or form putting Blood for Irina in the vicinity of Tree, but there is way that film creates an impressionist environment that you kind of get lost in, your mind wanders around in it, it's a fully contained atmosphere where the narrative becomes an almost subjective experience. That was indeed my approach with this film. Many of the sparse night walking scenes were in debt to the "fake New York City" sets of Eyes Wide Shut too.
     
    Irina 1
     
    I picked up a little taste of Carnival of Souls, especially given the seaside location.
     
    You're bang on, there is some Carnival in there; also a dose of Curtis Harrington's dreamy Night Tide. Of course, there's also a dash of early Cronenberg, David Lynch and that sensual slow movement of the vampires in Paul Naschy films like Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman and Count Dracula's Great Love. As I was finishing cutting the picture in the summer of 2012, I managed to catch Peter Strickland's new picture Berberian Sound Studio, and was excited that the uses of repetitive, obsessive images is in line with my own work. And like Berberian, you either appreciate that and let it work for you, or you reject it. We've won some awards and accolades with Irina, but make no mistake; it's a divisive picture and we've had many walk-outs.
     
    Did you know ahead of time you'd would be filming at that old seaside motel? 
     
    Yes, the film was rushed into production so I could film at the motel before it was demolished. It was the Riviera Motel in Burlington, just outside of Toronto. It was built in the 1930s and was essentially a rooming house in recent years – completely run down, home to real (as opposed to reel) fringe people, and the lonely. It looks like a contemporary Gothic ruin, like Dracula's castle in Nosferatu. This is kind of an art-house Canadian Gothic, after all... or as Geoff Pevere from the Globe and Mail called it, "A DIY Nosferatu for the digital age."
     
    That puts you in good company then. So did the location influence the way the story played out?
     
    I actually penned the film around the location, the way I felt about the location, the way it made me feel. In many ways, the film is about four characters, with the Riviera being one of them. 
     
    It's cool that you were able to immortalize it on film before it disappeared forever.
     
    Yes, it's now a hole, where a condo will soon stand. That's funny, because in many ways Irina is about destroying the old to make way for the new.
     
    Music for Murder
     
    The first time we featured your work on FEARnet, you'd just released Music for Parasites, which included some score cues you wrote for other films. When you were working on that album, were you already forming plans for a feature film of your own?
     
    Blood for Irina grew out of music – some of my old cues, some new ones. The movie is wall-to-wall sound and music; there is no dialogue, and it's just a visual extension of the atmospheric music I like to create. I've always wanted to do something like this, but the chance to actually do it only became real last year.
     
    Some of the Parasites titles returned on your later CD Music for Murder... are they newly recorded or remastered versions?
     
    Longer versions, alternate takes. Some are duplicates. That's the beauty of doing small, limited releases like Parasites: you can resurrect select works that you really like, and chances are they'll be new to other people.
     
    I love the way you use effects to sculpt guitars and vocals into these surreal, pulsing patterns. I imagine that would fit this dreamlike style of filming very well. What kind of music did you settle on for the Irina score?
     
    Exactly that: deep drones, analog synth washes, sparse guitar treatments, female voice, repeating loops... and the images mimic those sounds, I think, fairly effectively.
     
    There's a chaotic, kind of fractal feeling to your tracks, which got me to thinking: did you go into the scoring sessions with certain musical ideas in mind, or did you experiment more freely in the studio without always knowing the outcome?
     
    I made many of the tracks first before I shot anything. In fact, I built much of the film around my music. Then when I got the footage back, I blended new stings, sound effects and vocal experiments to draw out a more visceral and emotional  impact. It was cut in segments, to give visual to the sound. 
     
    It sounds like the whole post-production creative process was very spontaneous.
     
    Well, I call this film an experimental picture for many reasons, though my actor and co-producer David Goodfellow thinks otherwise, as the film we made was designed intentionally to be as it was. But it was still an experiment – from the music on down, it was an attempt to test the audience's patience and create a flowing, organic work of art.
     
    Will you be releasing a soundtrack album?
     
    The plan is, when Autonomy [Pictures] releases the picture in May, to include either an isolated score track, or a separate disc with the music.
     
    I'd love to hear that. The folks at Autonomy seem to be in tune with experimental and extreme cinema, like The Bunny Game. 
     
    Bunny Game was actually a pick-up picture. Mine is their first in-house production.
     
    That's awesome. Did they live up to their name and leave you alone to pursue your vision
     
    I'm happy to say they asked not for one change from me. They let me do it all alone. 
     
    Very cool!
     
    Irina 3
     
    The budget was beyond minimal, so their investment was an incredibly low risk. In fact, I asked for half the budget they offered; I didn't want to waste a dime on superfluous expense and didn't want any expectations.
     
    Will the film be distributed by Autonomy as well?
     
    Yes, they'll release the picture on Blu-ray and DVD this May.
     
    Do you have any other features in the works?
     
    My next film is ready to go. It's tentatively called Chris Alexander's Queen of Blood, not to be confused with Curtis Harrington's classic, but in some ways honoring elements of that film. It's a bizarro world vision of Irina, amped up with a bit of Lifeforce by way of McCabe and Mrs. Miller.
     
    That's a very cool concept.
     
    It will be another low budget, arty affair... it'll have much more evolved effects and sets, though still very organic. We only used natural locations for Blood for Irina, and I plan the same for this, save for an operatic sequence that shows the genesis and birth of a female vampire. It's still up in the air as to who will finance... perhaps Autonomy, perhaps not. But this time next year, no matter what, Queen will be ready to be seen. 
     
    That's an amazing turnaround.
     
    I work fast, impulsively. That's my comfort zone, and I think in that zone I create the most interesting work.
     

     


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    Data Romance Cant

    With combined backgrounds in music and film, the Canadian duo of Ajay Bhattacharyya and Amy Kirkpatrick created the electro-pop band Data Romance two years ago. Their hypnotic, floaty sound masks a more sinister side, which emerges in their first music video “Can't Keep Your Mind Off,” a tale of seduction, deception, murder... and just a hint of dismemberment (let's just say the artists are clearly Dexter fans).
     
     
    “Can't Keep Your Mind Off” is the first single from the band's debut album Other, which is slated for release on February 9th. Check out the album's mini-site for more details, including some eerie video teasers.
     
    Data Romance Other

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    american horror story: asylumWhile American Horror Story: Asylum was in no way perfect, it had a lot of elements that improved vastly on the first season, and benefitted from one of the greatest finales of any TV show.

    Let’s start at the end: that finale. The American Horror Story: Asylum finale can be considered a series finale, in the sense that, like with every season of AHS, we will never see these characters again. The producers want to call it a miniseries; whatever label you put on it, it is difficult to wrap up a series with recurring characters that your audience has connected with over the course of 13 weeks. AHS:A went into the future, skillfully, and showed us exactly what happened to each of these characters further down the line. Granted, part of the success came from the fact that this season’s story lent itself to the “looking back” framework. It was engaging, it was true to each of the characters, and it was flat-out enjoyable.

    That said, the rest of the season was kind of a mess. I loved the setting - 1960s mental institutions were hellholes but, much like the first season of AHS, the complete arc was a little sloppy. Season one shot their wad in the first half of the season and had no place to go for the second half. Season two had much better pacing (rather than jam as much craziness as possible into a few episodes, the stories were spread out over the entirety of the season) and some very interesting storylines that, unfortunately, ended up nowhere.

    Dr. Arden started as a major factor in the trajectory of the season, but then he killed himself and that was that. Was he really a Nazi? What were those things he fed in the woods? What was he trying to accomplish with his experiments? Then there were individual patients who were presented with some interesting stories (notably, Lee the killer Santa and Pepper the “pinhead”) but they did their one or two episodes and were lucky if they got a footnote at the end. Frankly, I think that kind of structure would be very successful in a more anthological-type format: you have your handful of main characters, then each week present a new patient o’ the week. Also, Jude’s musical number, while entertaining, was completely out of character for the show and was wholly ridiculous.

    Putting aside all of that, this season was strong. The characters were far less annoying that the season one characters. Season two didn’t have any big reveals meant as plot twists (like the daughter-dead-since-episode-three “twist” from season one) which I thought was a smart move. With modern, savvy audiences, twists are very rarely a surprise except to the most casual viewer.

    So let the speculation on season three begin. Series creator Ryan Murphy would only hint at where season three would go: “horror romance” and “something a little more fun” were the key phrases he used. When I hear “horror romance” my mind immediately goes to the Twilight franchise (oh wait... that was “horrible romance”) but I can’t imagine Murphy would head down that path - he’s got Glee for that. I have said that I want a mid-1980s haunted roller disco to be the setting for season three, but that might be taking the cheese factor too far. A late 1970s-set summer camp theme might be more appropriate. You have the camp romances against a background of a maniacal serial killer on the loose. Sure, it’s a cliche, but that hasn’t stopped AHS before.


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    draculaTwo more actors join NBC's Dracula, a ten-episode show for fall that was ordered direct to series and stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as the eponymous vampire.

    Katie McGrath will play Lucy Westenra, a sexy, glamorous socialite and best friend to Mina (played by Jessica De Gouw.) According to TV Line, Lucy "gradually becomes entwined in a web of lies, lust and temptation that challenges the boundaries of their relationship." Previous credits for McGrath include the Syfy Channel series Merlin and the film Red Mist.

    Nonso Anozie has been cast to play Renfield who, in this version of the Dracula story, is the "fiercely loyal confidante of Dracula’s alter ego, Alan Grayson. Renfield is the keeper of Dracula’s deepest and darkest secrets and the stabilizing force that allows his two personas to successfully coexist."  Anozie previous credits include Game of Thrones and The Grey.

    In this version of the classic tale, Dracula comes to Victorian London, posing as an American entrepreneur, who is distracted from bringing revenge on those who crossed him centuries ago, when he believes he has found the reincarnation of his beloved, dead wife.


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