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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    Army of DarknessArmy of Darkness really needs no introduction here. The third installment of the Evil Trilogy, it had the largest budget and picks up where Evil Dead 2 ended, telling the story of Ash in King Arthur’s realm. Ash faces many ridiculous foes including a band of tiny versions of himself, the wily Necronomicon, and of course, an army of undead soldiers.

    Freaks, not to be confused with Alex Winter’s Freaked which also centered around a sideshow and was conceived as "Beach Blanket Bingo meets The Evil Dead", is Tod Browning’s story of a lovely trapeze artist who falls for a little person from the circus side show. Can a grown woman love a midget? Why, yes she can, and they love her too, at least until she has an affair, as reflected in the famous “Gobble gobble. One of us.” clip (watch it below). Cast with people with real deformities, and including both fictional and real footage, Freaks caused quite a stir in 1932, prompting certain countries to ban it and stunting Browning’s career.

    The Hitcher is a movie that is far scarier in my memory than in actuality. It stars ‘80s heartthrob C. Thomas Howell as Jim who is stalked and taunted by a menacing hitchhiker played by the always-disturbing Rutger Hauer. It’s a classic movie plot – no one believes Jim’s tales of the hitcher until many, many people have been slashed – and we are left with an ambiguous ending meant to pave the way for a sequel. The film was treated to an uninspired remake in 2007.

    Title: Army of Darkness
    Released: February 19, 1993
    Tagline: Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas.
     


    Title: Freaks

    Released: February 20, 1931
    Tagline: Can a full grown woman truly love a MIDGET?
     

    Title:The Hitcher
    Released: February 21, 1986
    Tagline: The terror starts the moment he stops.

     

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    Megan Duffy as Lucie in 'Maniac'

    It's not often that a remake can successfully capture the spirit & tone of the original, yet bring something new & unique to warrant a different interpretation of the same story in the first place, but in the case of 'Maniac,' director Franck Khalfoun and producer Alexandre Aja did just that. 'Maniac' is not only a technical achievement, but one of the rare horror movies that serves as a great companion piece to its source material and quite frankly would make for a fine double feature with the original. While lead Elijah Wood (as Frank) makes his presence known through out the entire duration of the movie despite barely being on screen, it's equally important that we feel just as strongly for his victims as well. And one of the more prominent in this new movie is Lucie played by Megan Duffy. FEARnet had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Megan about the audition process for 'Maniac,' the technical challenges of shooting a movie in P.O.V. and the early positive buzz the film has been receiving.

    How’d you get the role of Lucie in ‘Maniac?’ Was it through the traditional audition process?

    I was working with a manager at the time who got me the audition. I read it and originally the character of Lucie was supposed to be this kinda punk rock chick and have huge boobs and I remember saying out loud, well this is ridiculous, I’m definitely not what they’re looking for. I remember there was a line in the script where she’d open her shirt and it read “she may be petite, but her breasts are not.” (Laughs) And I thought, well I’m not getting that job. I had heard of Alexandre Aja and thought with his involvement, it was going to be a cool film, so I went in to audition anyways. The scene they had me do was the dinner scene. Usually when you’re auditioning for a horror movie, they have you do the death scene. It was a little strange that they brought me in for that, but they brought me in several times and wanted to make sure I read the whole script and was OK with it. Once they cast Elijah, they brought me in one more time and I officially got it. For me, it was over the course of several months.

    I assume you knew the title ‘Maniac.’ How familiar were you with the original and who Alexandre Aja was?

    I knew Alexandre Aja because I thought 'Piranha 3D' is genius. The sense of humor behind that movie, on top of all the gore was amazing, it’s great. I was a big fan. I hadn’t seen the original ‘Maniac’ as I was auditioning but I got it from Netflix and watched it, and I actually thought it was an interesting film. In addition to the special FX which still hold up, there were 2 scenes that stuck out for me. There’s the subway chase, which goes on forever and is so, so tense and I just felt like you’d never see a scene like that in a film these days because people just don’t have the attention span for something with that much tension. And then there’s the bathtub scene, where she gets in the tub, takes a bath, and just gets out. And the whole time, you’re just waiting for her to die in the bathtub, but it doesn’t happen and I thought that was brilliant!

    And I think that the versions of those 2 scenes while different are fantastic in the new movie and fans will be pleasantly surprised by them. Now regarding casting, one of the things that people remember about the original is the portrayal of Frank by Joe Spinell, who was always known for being this great character actor in things like 'The Godfather' and 'Rocky'…

    Well, I had seen the original ‘Maniac’ before they cast Elijah Wood. At the time I had no information as to who they were looking at for the role. I did have a lot of friends going in to audition for Frank and they were nothing like Joe Spinell, so I do wonder at what point they brought Elijah in.

    People heard Elijah’s name and were surprised, but I immediately got it. He did a fantastic job as the creepy character in ‘Sin City’. Obviously no one can recreate what Joe Spinell did in the original, but then you hear it’s Elijah Wood and I thought that was interesting.

    I wasn’t surprised really, because the guys that I knew that were going in to read for it were skinny, hipster looking guys, so I had a vague idea of what they were looking for, which made sense for a modern Los Angeles setting. Because you look at Joe Spinell and you think well this guy is obviously up to no good! (Laughs) But someone like Elijah makes it way creepier. In this day & age of Facebook and MySpace and how casual people are about meeting people, I thought that was perfect. That could be the guy that you’re chatting with.

    The audition process was lengthy, but what about rehearsal? Was there much time to prepare?

    Zero. We had no rehearsal time.

    So you didn’t really have time to meet up and work on stuff with Elijah beforehand?

    None of that happened. We didn’t have time. I just showed up and we figured it out and (director) Franck (Khalfoun) trusted me and if there was something he didn’t like or if he wanted me to do something else, we’d figure it out. A lot of scenes were about 6 takes and that was it. For me, it was really amazing, because I’m used to doing commercials where they’re giving me lines to read.

    Was the movie fully scripted? Or was there improvisation? The conversations felt natural as if they were improvised.

    It was fully scripted. There was definitely a script we followed. When Lucie was in her apartment, there was a little bit of improv, but I don’t know how much of that was used. It was more about using the space we were in to our advantage.

    I think the most impressive thing about this movie is the technical way it was made; shooting the entire thing from the P.O.V. (point of view) of the killer. Did you know early on that that was the plan? Was it scripted that way?

    Yes, it was in the script. And the information about the P.O.V. was there. I assumed as I read it ‘well that’s going to change’!

    One of the first rules of being an actor is don’t look directly into the camera! So you get on set and they’re shooting this P.O.V. gimmick. How difficult was that as an actor to get used to?

    It definitely felt really strange to interact with a human but all your actual interaction is directly at the camera-lens, and it was a little distracting because I would see my reflection. The “sex scene” was tricky, because I had to climb on Elijah and at that point you’re seeing it from the ceiling mirror and at a certain point I had to be aware of when he would look down and I’d have to switch to addressing the camera again. That was a tough shot.

    Was it hard to coordinate between giving a performance versus the technical aspects of each scene?

    I wouldn’t say that it was difficult. As an actor, you want to be present in a scene, but it’s like remembering your marks and staying present. I didn’t find it more difficult than usual.
     

    Megan Duffy as Lucie in the 'Maniac' remake

     

    The first time you saw the completed film was in Cannes?

    Yeah. And I had no idea what to expect!

    What surprised you the most about seeing the completed film for the first time?

    I had seen my scenes during the ADR process and I was really impressed. At some point, I had seen some of the dailies and it weirded me out a little bit, especially some of the “sex” scene which out of context came off a little like porn, so I decided I didn’t want to see anything else. But when I saw it assembled, it was really beautiful. It was shot beautifully, the colors are really great. And then the soundtrack. Wow.

    As a fan you’re always a little skeptical walking into something that you have a pre-determined knowledge of or a previous movie that you’re inevitably going to compare it to, but man – I thought that opening scene was so effective that by the time the title card came up, I knew this was a rare exception. The soundtrack by Rob is amazing.

    I think the entire style of it is very hip and cool. I love the way they make downtown LA look.

    I remember New York in the 80’s and that’s so pivotal to the original ‘Maniac.’ Now as a modern present day story, Los Angeles definitely seems more appropriate because present day New York is not what it used to be.

    It’s like Disneyland now!

    What was the general vibe from the audience seeing the movie for the first time at Cannes? Obviously, fans were curious, but I remember a flurry of Twitter posts coming out that were all predominantly positive & saying the movie was really good!

    I know horror fans were really upset with the casting choice of Elijah. But at Cannes we got a standing ovation when it was over, which I don’t think any of us anticipated. There were a couple of moments where people gasped and stormed out. I read somewhere that it was the most “walked out” film at Cannes, which Cannes is famous for. But it was a cool energy. People seemed really into it. They giggled at the right moments and by the end, the scalping’s were getting applause.

    They get more and more intense! That’s for sure. Speaking of the scalping’s, KNB EFX worked on this and the work they did is impeccable. I can only assume that most of it is practical, because that’s how it looked. How intricate was the FX side of things for you?

    Oh, mine was a full prosthetics. We all had scalp fittings, so it was a prosthetic scalp. The only thing that involved CGI was I think they just made my face look a little redder and I had X marks on my forehead just to blend my forehead with the scalp a little bit more, but the gore you see on screen is pretty close to what we shot there on set. It was horrific. At the Cinefamily screening, one of my friends fainted right after that scene. She went out into the lobby and passed out.

    Wow!

    Mission accomplished! (Laughs)

    I’m sure the producers probably thought that because of the P.O.V. angle of the film, they could cast someone like Elijah Wood and he didn’t have to be there for the majority of the shoot. Yet, in the Q & A at the Cinefamily, he said he was pretty much there for all of it. You definitely feel his presence even when you don’t see him. How much did you work directly with him? Was he there right next to the camera the entire time you did your stuff?

    The schedule I got originally had me working with his double Steven Williams for half of the time. I showed up my first day, and the producers said that Elijah was going to be there and wanted to be there. So every scene that I do, Elijah is there. Even in Lucie’s apartment where I’m interacting with (cinematographer) Maxime (Alexandre), Elijah was there too. Elijah was right there next to Maxime for everything, even if it was just to see his hands. He was definitely there for all my scenes.

    Do you have a favorite scene in the movie, excluding yours of course?

    I actually really like the scene where Anna (Nora Arnezeder) discovers that Frank is who he is and she’s crying and trying to defend herself in the kitchen. It’s a great vulnerable moment and it’s my favorite of her performance. The subway stuff is beautifully shot and looks so gorgeous. I also love the opening scene/first scalping.

    What’d you take away from the whole experience?

    Well, I really got to challenge myself, because I usually tend to play characters that are quirky and nerdy. I’ve never been looked at previously as a “sexual object”. So it was funny, it was everything I said I wouldn’t do when I first came out to LA is in this movie from the nudity to the violence to the fact that it’s a horror film. For me, stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something totally different that people wouldn’t expect from me.

     

    Actress - Producer Megan Duffy

     

    Your career in film actually goes all the way back to your history in dance and as a producer. Can you talk a bit about that?

    I had done dance for years as a teenager and was approaching that as a career, but had injured myself and couldn’t really continue and I started thinking about other things I wanted to do with my life. One of the things I loved about dance, I would get to put on costumes and embody different characters. And so, the logical step for me was acting. I had about a year where I was working a lot of jobs and then a drought. But I had a lot of director friends who would complain about their producers not pulling their weight, or just looking for help in general with their productions, so I said what can I help with? So I found myself suddenly producing. They started to recognize that I had a knack for production and I continued to get asked to continue producing. And also, I was a really bossy kid, so it makes sense I would want to produce. (Laughs)

    You had produced several prominent music videos. Which are some that you’re most proud of? Which ones should I and our readers go find on You Tube? (Laughs)

    The Smashing Pumpkins video for GLOW. Billy Corgan’s really delightful. And we shot this video with this high definition super sleek looking lights and we intercut it with this weird rave-y party footage. The whole experience was really fun and I think the video turned out really cool. Music video budgets aren’t what they used to be. You look at “Tonight, Tonight” and that was a million dollar video back in the 90’s. People don’t have the money to spend these days, and even if they did, it’s just going to go on You Tube anyways. We had a small budget and I feel like we pulled off some cool creative stuff with that budget. I also produced a Boomkat video, which is a project with Taryn Manning and her brother Kellin. I did 4 videos with Taryn: Runaway, Turn It Up, Run Boy and Lonely Child. The Boomkat video was super tiny, but it was this big dance party with all of these extras and costumes. We found a group of really talented film school kids to be a part of that & they’re all working and have successful careers now, but that was another one I was proud of because it was fun. It felt like a party and we just happened to be working it.

    Keep up to date on Megan Duffy via her official website, her Twitter account and her Facebook page. Read FEARnet's review of 'Maniac.'

     


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

    Witch Doctor: Mal Practice No. 4

    The good doctor (good in big air quotes, here) has had his spirit ripped from his body and he needs it reattached, quick. Once he's brought to his nemesis (well, one of his many) and revived, it's time to take care of the problem of larvae hiding in his body. Things take a turn for the weird/awesome as he sends his spirit, now tiny-sized, into his bloodstream (and brain!) to find the culprits.

    Bag it or board it up? This is some of my favorite type of fiction. I love the "shrink yourself down to microscopic size and enter the bloodstream" motif in science fiction. The Fantastic Voyage was one of the first science fiction stories I encountered. To see it with a supernatural spin on it is really cool. I mean, the guy's using telekinesis to rip apart larvae in his own body!

    Number 13 No. 3

    In a post-apocalyptic world a plague has ravished humanity. It's turned everyone into either a half-human/half-monster mutant or a carrier for said disease. In the midst of all this chaos, a young boy named Number 13 has been created (yes, engineered) to destroy all the mutant monsters and "save the day." The problem is that not all of these mutant monsters are mean and nasty (in fact, most of them aren't) and Number 13 is beginning to understand this sobering truth.

    Bag it or board it up? This comic is a whirlwind of action, violence, strange creatures and moral dilemmas. To add to the confusion of this comic, it's illustrated like Ben 10 or Teen Titans or some other Tween-centric action cartoon. This comic reminds me a lot of the comic Fatima: The Blood Spinners by Gilbert Hernandez, except that Hernandez's illustrations are insane looking, and they match the frenetic nature of his comic. Here, the drawings are bubblegum while the writing is insanity.

    Hellraiser: The Dark Watch No. 1

    A man has solved the box and awaits his torturous trip to hell with the Cenobites. But… no one comes to greet him! Disappointed, he ventures into hell as the doorway opens to see what's up. Here he sees that all is not as it seems in hell. I don't want to spoil much of this issue, because there are a lot of little surprises for fans of the comic and movies alike, but there are twists upon twists in this opening issue.

    Bag it or board it up? So, a problem I normally have with Hellraiser comics is the difficulty of jumping into them. You normally need to know exactly what happened the comic before, where in the continuity you are, etc. With this issue, while there are still some general concepts you should know (like Leviathan and the Labyrinth), and while it wouldn't hurt to have read the comics leading up to this, it does feel like a fresh start. Things are changing. You may not know exactly where everything left off, but this is clearly the start of a big, new story.

    B.P.R.D. 1948 No. 5

    This issue is the conclusion to this mini-series about a bunch of giant monsters attacking the American Southwest in 1948. The thinkers of the series have intense psychological and philosophical debates over the nature of the beasts. The fighters of the series blow them up with rocket launchers and guns. In this juxtaposed action and inaction, a sense of the small-time/big-repercussions problems really shines through.

    Bag it or board it up? By now you should know how I feel about B.P.R.D. comics. Generally speaking: I love them. But this series doesn't quite do it for me the way the Return of the Master series does. The drama is here, but the threat feels small and the characters less interesting. Still, a so-so B.P.R.D. comic is usually leaps and bounds above most of its peers.


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    As a horror fan, you know that evil books can wreak just as much havoc as any axe-wielding killer.  It’s important to keep them well away from prying eyes and stealing hands. Thankfully, these bookends will keep your terrible tomes in check with the help of a killer kraken.

    Made from solid steel and finished in hammered black, the attacking tentacles are a subtle reminder bad things will befall the person who borrows and does not return. The seller also makes versions featuring a madman with a chainsaw, carnivorous giant plant and an alien invasion.
     

    Gift Guide- Kraken Book Ends


    $49.99 on etsy.com

     


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    Tale of Two SistersAs Scream Factory continues to release features-packed restored editions of missing horror classics like The Nest, From Beyond, and Lifeforce, other great genre pics are either going out of print altogether (Ten Out-of-Print Horror Flicks to Make You Drool) or just languishing in lackluster standard-DVD Hell. What movies should Scream Factory, Blue Underground, or other classic horror Blu-ray houses scoop up next? Here are ten classic horror flicks that are still missing from the HD revolution. (Note: After much consideration, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder, while amazing and definitely in need of domestic HD releases, were deemed not “horrific enough” in the traditional horror movie sense. They’d be day-one pre-orders on Blu-ray, but aren’t as “pure horror” as these ten.)

    The Hitcher


    When Universal released the horrendous Sean Bean remake of this ‘80s classic in 2007, they inexplicably ignored the opportunity to even issue a standard special edition of the 1986 classic with C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer. The trend of ‘80s remakes in the late ‘00s has probably allowed the original to get lost in your memory, possibly buried under the wave of other bad scare flicks for which Hollywood drastically overestimated the nostalgia. Don’t let that happen. The original Hitcher is a tense, perfectly-paced slice of road horror and, while the U.K. got a two-disc special edition on DVD (from which one would think it would be easy to import the special features), no one currently has plans for a worldwide HD upgrade. Blue Underground has a great reputation for their handling of under-loved ‘80s classics. They’d be perfect home for The Hitcher.

    Freaks

    “One of us, one of us.” It is Blu-ray injustice that you can get Cirque du Freak on the format, but Tod Browning’s nightmare classic isn’t even available on standard DVD any more in the U.S. Granted, the legends surrounding Tod Browning’s horror standard have probably become more prominent than the film itself at this point. Yes, Browning used people with real deformities in his pre-code, 1932 stunner, but they are not the true horror lurking behind Freaks. It is the “normal” people and it’s the devastating punishment that their horrific behavior deserves that really makes the film truly memorable (and caused censors to hide the film for decades). Criterion has released some great horror Blu-rays and they’d be the perfect studio to treat this film’s sensitive subject matter in the manner it deserves.

    In the Mouth of Madness

    Scream Factory killed with last year’s great HD edition of They Live. Now get on John Carpenter’s last good-to-great movie (sorry Ghosts of Mars fans), this underrated Lovecraft homage from the mid-‘90s. In fact, there are a number of Carpenter flicks not on the format, including Prince of Darkness and Vampires. While we would be the first to admit that the Carpenter classics like Halloween and The Thing should have been the first to Blu-ray, why is taking so long for the rest? If any modern horror director should have their ENTIRE catalog on Blu-ray, it’s Carpenter. He has such loyal fans that they’re guaranteed to sell. Release a box set and I’ll even take duplicates of the ones I own already just to own them all.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    Does it count as horror? Did you see it at the right age? If you did, you don’t have to ask. For those of us whose parents blindly rented any VHS tape with a Walt Disney logo on the top, we shall never forget Something Wicked This Way Comes, a common choice for people in my generation when asked “What’s the first movie that gave you nightmares?” Disney notoriously discards their live-action history (go ask Hayley Mills fans), but this year marks the 30th anniversary of this nightmare-inducing fable. Get working on a Special Edition Blu-ray timed to Halloween or I’ll send Mr. Dark after you.

    Peeping Tom

    Optimum Home Releasing issued a great HD version of Michael Powell’s 1960 classic in Europe, but the film has been largely ignored domestically. It fits with the history of a film that has never received the credit it deserves, overshadowed by Hitchcock’s Psycho and censored into obscurity in the ‘60s. It took Martin Scorsese to help revive it and the film has had a number of theatrical re-releases over the years, however, it still has yet to get a U.S. Blu-ray edition. Criterion owned the rights for a long time, releasing a great DVD version, but they lost the rights to Lionsgate, who has issued a number of Studio Canal titles since then but have no plans to bring this film stateside. One of the best thrillers of all time deserves as much attention around the world as it gets in the U.K.

    A Tale of Two Sisters

    I wouldn’t create a list like this without a bit of modern Asian horror, right? This one’s the best. I love Ringu and the original The Eye as much as the next guy (and I love Shutter more probably), but Kim Jee-woon’s family nightmare is the most attuned to HD with its striking visual compositions and complex imagery. Just watch that trailer above and imagine it in 1080p. Tartan released an awesome DVD version, but even that transfer could use a remaster and the international region-locked Blu-ray has scant special features and a bit rate that caused complaints. Now that Tartan is back in business through Palisades, they should use this to kick-start a line of special editions of the best of the Asian horror wave, complete with a full HD remaster and wealth of bonus material. Three years ago, someone at Palisades was hinting at a U.S. release online on message boards. Stop hinting and get to work.

    Suspiria

    Dario Argento’s timeless genre pic has been in HD limbo in the States (an import version is available) thanks to the dreaded remake machine that allows a company like the Weinsteins to lock down the rights to a horror classic just because they’re considering making an updated version. The region-locked international edition is supposed to be a beauty, but we get no stateside Blu-ray just because we’re waiting for David Gordon Green to finish his long-delayed remake? That doesn’t seem right. (Wait, did I say finish? I meant “start” as legal issues have delayed it yet again.) Why not get buzz going now? Why not build the cult of Argento, one of the most obvious picks for HD? Argento is a master of visual storytelling, a filmmaker whose work is going to resonate in 1080p like it never could in a standard transfer, and a possible remake just isn’t a good enough reason to delay that experience for fans.

    Carnival of Souls

    “Guarantees to sweep you into a new dimension of filmmaking.” Why don’t they make promises like that in previews anymore? It probably looks horrendously dated and cheesy to you young readers, but this is one of this writer’s most memorable horror film experiences by far. It’s a genre classic, a movie that still works because of its emphasis on creepy atmosphere over jump scares. I’ll be honest – it’s one of two horror movies that I can remember giving me nightmares as a kid (the other being Halloween). Don’t we want to give the gift of bad dreams to a new generation? The Criterion DVD is a beauty (there are actually several DVD editions but the Criterion is the best) and they seem to still own the rights. The company releases new catalog titles every month on Blu-ray. Get to this one before Halloween, Criterion. There’s a whole new generation of kids to scare.

    Phantasm

    Don Coscarelli’s horror classic seems to grow in esteem every year, as more and more young viewers discover both Phantasm and his more recent horror-comedy cult hits like Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies at the End. Shout Factory is releasing a special edition of Phantasm II on Blu-ray this Spring, but the original is nowhere to be found. What’s the hold-up? Why wouldn’t the Factory release all four Phantasm films in a glorious HD box set? Part of the problem is that Anchor Bay, whose output has slowed in recent years, still owns the original. There’s a Facebook page devoted to harassing the studio to do what should be done with the classic. Get to letter writing, horror fans, and include pictures dressed like The Tall Man if you’re truly committed.

    Scanners

    As we pointed out, Scanners just went OOP on DVD and is already fetching a pretty penny on that format. Time for an HD upgrade. While we’re at it, where the hell are most of the old Cronenberg horror gems like Shivers and Dead Ringers on Blu-ray? Almost none of this visual master’s works are on the format. Sure, there’s his recent stuff with Viggo Mortensen and the must-own Criterion version of Videodrome and, of course, The Fly, but that’s pretty much it. (Criterion is issuing Naked Lunch soon too). Is there any director more visually fascinating than Cronenberg that’s currently so under-represented in the HD world? Where is The Brood? Rabid?The Dead Zone? Forget one release. Let’s do a Criterion box set and solve the problem in one fell swoop.

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    ABC is giving the supernatural another go. Last season's 666 Park Avenue died a quick death, and I suspect this month's kinda-sorta genre entry Zero Hour will face the same fate. But for this pilot season, ABC is trying something that is more in their wheelhouse: a gothic soap. Hey, it worked for Dark Shadows.

    Gothica is set in the modern day, but weaves together the mythologies of classic literary monsters, including Victor Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, and Dorian Gray.

    Tom Ellis (The Fades, Merlin) has been cast as Victor Frankenstein, who runs a hospital with a biotech research department which Dr. Frankenstein uses to develop a way to bring his recently deceased daughter back to life. Victor was once romantically involved with Grace Van Helsing.

    Chris Egan (Resident Evil: Extinction) joins the cast as Dorian Gray, a wealthy playboy who invests in Van Helsing's newspaper. 

    Source: Deadline


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    John5_RobZ

    For years, guitarist John 5 – formerly of Marilyn Manson's band (rejoining them temporarily for last year's Manson/Zombie “Twins of Evil” tour) and an acclaimed solo artist – has been an integral part of Rob Zombie's sound, having been Rob's official guitarist since 2005's Educated Horses. His talents are so intertwined with Rob's work that he was tapped to compose the original score for his much-anticipated film The Lords of Salem, which hits theaters April 19th. That very same week, you'll hear John's mighty axe swing again on Rob's next full-length studio album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.
     
    John has stated that his first gig as composer was both challenging and rewarding: “It was like 10 times the intensity of writing a record,” he says. “It took months and months, as the timing is key to each scene. The music was very challenging and sometimes there was no key signature or time signature for this music, which is all orchestral and acoustic with the exception of one death metal song. You had to be able to follow the story and create emotions for each scene with the music. I cannot wait for people to see and hear this movie. It is incredible!”
     
    John_5_Salem
     
    As you've no doubt heard, The Lords of Salem is a project that was percolating in Rob's mind for years, even before he wrote the wicked song of the same name for Educated Horses. For more news on the film itself, check out our recent items here and here, and watch the new trailer at the end of this one.
     
    Zombie_Venomous
     
    Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is not tied to the movie, but sounds like a more experimental and raw exercise than Rob's previous record Hellbilly Deluxe 2. “I can only describe this album as an aggressive, live-sounding and totally unique,” John 5 said. “The guitar tones are not traditional. There is also an instrumental track called 'Theme for the Rat Regeneration Vendor' which is all played aggressively with an electric sitar.” The record is slated to drop on April 23rd, and will kick off with the single “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Super Town.” Other tracks include the interestingly titled “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga,” “Lucifer Rising,” “Behold! The Pretty Filthy Creatures,” and a Zombified cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band.”
     
    In related news, John has also been nominated for Revolver magazine's fifth annual “Golden Gods” award for Best Guitarist alongside Rush's Alex Lifeson and Brendon Small of Dethklok. The winners will be announced at the show's live broadcast on May 2nd. 

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    FF_title

    We're back again with the third chapter in our ongoing feature on vintage Italian cinema thrillers, and since we've previously covered titles from Lucio Fulci (Don't Torture a Duckling) and Mario Bava (A Bay of Blood), it's time we examined a film from the final member of the genre's “Big Three,” Dario Argento. While Argento's most beloved work is unquestionably the stunning 1977 horror classic Suspiria, which was set in a dreamlike supernatural world, he was previously most famous for his pioneering approach to the giallo genre, beginning with the stylish The Bird with the Crystal Plumage– the huge success of which earned him the nickname “The Italian Hitchcock,” a handle he didn't particularly care for at the time. After that film, audiences craved more thrillers with Dario's eccentric touch, leading to what is loosely described as his “Animal Trilogy,” in that all of the titles include the name of an animal or insect (a gimmick which other studios rushed to capitalize on for their own projects), and while they generally did well with audiences, not all of them were critical successes.
     
    FF_2
     
    One of those giallos which I feel was unfairly snubbed for many years is 1972's Four Flies on Grey Velvet, a surreal and creepy little film that hints strongly at the more surreal style that Argento would give full reign in Deep Red four years later. Flies stars American actor Michael Brandon (who recently appeared in Captain America) as Roberto, a drummer in a rock band who is pursued by a stranger whom he accidentally stabs in a scuffle. Even more mysteriously, the stabbing was witnessed – and photographed – by a man wearing an extremely creepy mask. The plot thickens as Roberto is now targeted by this new nemesis, whose malicious obsession is unexplained... until the bloody pieces begin falling into place. As with most giallos, not everything is as it originally seems.
     
    FF_6
     
    The central “hook” of this film is the idea that the last image seen by a dying person is imprinted on their retinas – which is total bullshit, but makes for a creepy plot device – and the concept of human vision and its limitations or self-induced illusions is the recurring theme. Argento worked with cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo to capture extreme slow-motion effects using experimental ultra-high-speed cameras, which are used to particularly awesome effect in a climactic car crash scene.
     
    FF_5
     
    More significant, however, is the way this film marked the beginning of Argento's long love affair with non-traditional film scoring. With the main character being a rock musician (rumor has it that one of the Beatles was approached to be in the cast), Argento originally wanted a hard rock score – something very rare to the giallo genre at the time. He initially approached the band Deep Purple for the job, but that didn't pan out, so he reunited with the legendary Ennio Morricone, whose score for The Bird With the Crystal Plumage was a huge success, but Argento's ideas for the music conflicted with Morricone's style, and they had a long falling-out as a result.
     
    FF_1
     
    Dario's fondness for using hard rock and heavy metal in his films would continue, however; his long collaboration with Goblin would begin in 1975 with Deep Red, and he's also tapped Keith Emerson (of Emerson Lake & Palmer), former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth to provide music for his films, as well as licensing tracks from Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Brian Eno, Billy Idol, Dead Can Dance, Love and Rockets, Accept, Motley Crüe, The Smiths, The Cult, Peter Murphy, Gene Loves Jezebel and more for films he's produced, written and/or directed.
     
    FF_4
     
    If you've missed this one, now's the chance to check it out on video: after languishing in limbo for decades, Four Flies on Grey Velvet got a decent uncut DVD release (remastered from the original negative) from MYA/Ryko in the US, and the UK's Shameless Entertainment turned out a 40th anniversary edition Blu-ray last year that's definitely worth tracking down for serious giallo fans.

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    dead man downDead Man Down isn’t exactly the kind of film we normally cover on FEARnet: an action-revenge flick starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. But there was one aspect that got our attention: being eaten by rats. In the film, Rob Vataj plays a man who is subjected to this cruel, unusual torture. We grilled him about what it is like to spend an entire day beneath a blanket of rats. 

    Tell me about your role in Dead Man Down.

    I am a bad person, obviously. In the movie, I basically end up doing damage to Colin Farrell’s family and he is looking for revenge. So he takes me hostage, and he manipulates me in certain ways. I don’t want to give away too much about the story, but it is very much revenge towards me. 

    The scene that we are really intrigued by is the scene where you are being eaten by rats.

    Let’s put it this way: there is no preparation you can put in to be covered by dozens of rats. There is a fear factor that you can’t get over. You can look towards the director, towards the crew, and make sure you have a sense of trust in them, in case something goes wrong. These rats were supposedly trained. I don’t know how you train rats. When I spoke to the trainers, they said, “Yeah, they’re trained to scare the you-know-what out of you.” There is no training for a rat - it does what it does. When a rat is put up against the corner, it can chew through a pipe. 

    When they put the rats on you, did any of them actually bite you?

    They didn’t put the rats on me. The rats came to me. Once they were let loose, they decided to come to me. My feet were covered with a few inches of water. Rats look for high land, and I was the highest land - they didn’t want to stay in the water. I’m talking dozens of nine-inch rats. At one point I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t be going on my face. But they will do what they want to do. At one point one of the rats actually dove into my mouth. Think how uncomfortable that was - all while staying in character!

    As far as biting, I would say... it was bearable. While it was happening, it seemed worse than when it was over. Once it is over, you are over it. But [during] you can’t put that fear aside. This is 30-something rats running towards you, looking for food. We tried to move it along as quickly as possible.

    How long did the whole scene take to shoot?

    The whole day. I think it was like 14 hours. And I’m strapped in a chair. I stayed in that chair the whole time. I had a blindfold, too, and I even lost 12-15 pounds of water weight in three days. It took its toll. Once your skin dehydrates, you feel the rats more. You are more sensitive to pressure. It literally felt like someone was [poking me with] thumbtacks over and over. It’s not something I would wish on anyone. But you make sacrifices. You go where the director wants you to go. 

    Fear of rats is a pretty common fear. Did you have a fear of rats before this movie, and if you didn’t, do you now?

    Who doesn’t? This isn’t one rat on the floor. One rat, fine. Two rats, fine. But we are talking dozens, climbing all over you, not knowing what they will do. I was tied down so I couldn’t move, and with the rat in my mouth I couldn’t talk, so I really had to rely on my director and everyone around me. I grew up hanging out in the Bronx, so seeing a rat is nothing new. I’m more afraid of the people-kind [of rats.]

    Dead Man Down opens in theaters on March 8th.


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  • 02/26/13--11:00: Gift Guide: Skeleton Dresses
  • Get your very own rattleshirt.

    These custom-made cut out dresses don’t offer much coverage, but they sure do look cool. Each dress features a skull on the back and a skeleton rib cage on the front created with some well-placed slashes. Totally customizable, you pick the color, length, and size. Modest creeps, not to worry, they look great layered too.
     

    Skeleton Dress


    About $51.00 on etsy.com

     


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    kurt sutterKurt Sutter, creator of the FX biker series Sons of Anarchy, has announced that he is developing an action/horror series for FX Network. The series will be called Lucas Stand. It follows the "salvation quest" of a former special ops soldier who has been "chosen" to hunt and kill law-breaking demons. Sounds right up Sutter's alley.

    Sutter has teamed with John Shiban on the project. Shiban was the showrunner on AMC's Hell on Wheels, a western set during the days of the construction of the first continental railway. Shiban left Hell on Wheels a month before Glen Mazzara left The Walking Dead, another AMC project.

    Source: Deadline


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    Girls Against BoysI'm always impressed when male filmmakers use the horror genre to say something interesting about women. Obviously we need more female writers, producers, and directors (a lot more) in the horror genre, but at least we can enjoy it when creative men step up and represent the female gender in frank and honest fashion. Filmmakers like Lucky McKee (May, The Woman), Paul Solet (Grace), Mitch Lichtenstein (Teeth), Pascal Laugier (Martyrs), Neil Marshall (The Descent), Richard Bates (Excision) and several others are plainly interested in how women can function within the realm of horror as heroines, anti-heroines, victims, and victimizers, which makes each new discovery sort of exciting. 

     
    Add Austin Chick's low-key but coolly fascinating Girls Against Boys to the list of indie horror films, written and directed by men, that aspire to give young women something new to do in horror films. Veteran of the indie circuit -- he directed August in 2008 and wrote/directed XX/XY back in 2002 -- Mr. Chick may be a relative newcomer to the horror genre, but his Girls Against Boys stands as a stark,compelling, and angry indictment about the way (many? / most?) men dismiss, mistreat, and (most of all) underestimate the power of a pretty young woman. One could enjoy (and perhaps dismiss) Girls Against Boys as an indie, artsy, next-gen horror rendition of Thelma & Louise, but there's more going on beneath the surface here than just another "angry women act out" story.
     
    It might sound like a simplistic piece of rape/revenge exploitation -- the flick is about two angry young women who wreak havoc on the various males who have mistreated them -- but, thanks to a subtly smart screenplay and two fantastic lead performances, Girls Against Boys has a lot more to say than just "girls can hurt you if you make them angry." At its most interesting moments, the movie almost feels like a gender-reversed Fight Club story. Our lead character, Shae, has been dumped, dismissed, and sexually assaulted at the end of a miserable date -- but it's her best friend Lu who kick-starts the bloodbath in such a frank and casual fashion. What begins as a story about the friendship between two angry women who have had enough gradually becomes a morality tale that feels like a tug-of-war for Shae's battered soul.
     
    Again, the leads are excellent. Danielle Panabaker is as "girl next door" adorable as ever, but here she also brings an early vulnerability and then a dead-eyed resolve as things get truly nasty. If Ms. Panabaker's performance is the best of her young career, then the strikingly beautiful Nicole LaLiberte is the movie's secret weapon. The fair-skinned redhead man-killer is, quite simply, a lot of fun to watch. Casually amusing one moment and then shockingly cruel the next, Lu is one of the most interesting "lady psychos" to hit indie horror in quite some time. The male characters don't last all that long, but indie veteran Andrew Howard makes a strong impression as an "uncaring" male who may or may not deserve his punishment, as does the admirably dorky Liam Aiken as a sweet college kid who represents a much-needed escape for poor Shae.
     
    Serious praise is also due to Nathan Larson's score, and while I often like to mention a decent score when it comes to indie horror films, the music in Girls Against Boys is particularly excellent. It winds through the movie's highs, lows, and very lows, and it helps to keep everything feeling just a bit off-kilter, mildly funky, and consistently ominous. It's an essential part of this slightly familiar but very welcome addition to the "don't mess with females" sub-genre. It's not only refreshing to see a movie in which women can be flatly homicidal and darkly amusing, but Girls Against Boys also manages to make a few cool points along the way, and that's what separates the exploitation films from the legitimately cool indie movies.

     

    READ FEARnet's PARTNER REVIEWS OF GIRLS AGAINST BOYS


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    In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I have zero knowledge of the Dead Space video game series. My active gaming life ground mostly to a halt sometime around Halo 2, and although I still throw together the occasional session of Call of Duty or Madden, gaming as an entertainment option has dropped pretty far down my personal list.

    With that in mind, understand that I won’t be able to offer much commentary on how these Dead Space graphic novels tie into the games. I’m coming at these strictly as a reader to gauge how they hold up as sci-fi/horror stories. Let’s see how they do.

    Dead SpaceDead Space
    Written by Antony Johnston
    Art by Ben Templesmith


    As a total Dead Space novice, I must express my appreciation to Titan Books, publisher of these graphic novels, for including extensive character profiles at the beginning of this first volume of comics. Not only did they fill me in on the characters in the story I was about to read, they provided a ton of backstory about the world of Dead Space as a whole – backstory that I assume the first iteration of the game provided to those who played it. This really helped me settle into the story without feeling completely confused.

    The story centers around a central struggle that’s familiar to us all – science versus religion. While preparing a distant planet for “planetcracking” – something I gather is intended to make the place suitable for human habitation – a group of colonists discover a huge artifact. This relic, a giant stone covered with strange markings, is identical to a Marker, an artifact that is central to the religion known as Unitology. Immediately after its discovery strange things start happening to the colonists, beginning with bad dreams and increased aggression and ending in escalating acts of violence and a shocking mass suicide. As things deteriorate, the Marker becomes an important pawn in a tug-of-war between those determined to protect it and those determined to whisk away before it further interrupts the lucrative colonization of the planet.

    It’s all intriguing stuff, and then things reach a fever pitch. In a gooey cross between Night of the Living Dead and The Thing (the John Carpenter version), the dead begin to rise and transform, infecting every corpse they can find so that the colony is soon overrun with creatures that are as dangerous as they are grotesque.

    Writer Antony Johnston fashions a tense, thought-provoking story laced with bucketfuls of gore. Artist Ben Templesmith’s style – scratchy and chaotic with an almost unfinished feel, the direct antithesis to the hyper-realistic style of many of his peers – has never been my favorite, but it absolutely works here, adding to the hectic pace of the story. Dead Space is a totally engaging off-world adventure, and an excellent introduction to the series as a whole.

    Dead Space: SalvageDead Space: Salvage
    Written by Antony Johnston
    Art by Christopher Shy


    As a direct follow-up to the story in the first volume of Dead Space, Salvage falls prey to the shortcomings that have caused many a horror sequel to stumble. The central theme of science versus religion that made Dead Space such a captivating read is largely jettisoned in this shorter volume so we can get to the wet stuff faster. Unfortunately, a less compelling story (and a less compelling cast) makes for a less satisfying effort all around.

    That’s not to say that Salvage doesn’t have its moments. It’s a classic setup – on one side, agents from Earth’s government are searching for a ship called the Ishimura, a vessel that was integral to the events in the first story. There is pressure to recapture it because it might contain information about what went wrong on the colony from the first series, and also because many Unitologists believe the ship still carries the Marker found on the doomed planet.

    On the other side, someone has already found the ship – a ragtag group of illegal salvagers that call themselves Magpies. They see it as a bounty of riches, something they can strip down to the bone and sell off piece by piece.

    Naturally, once everyone gets on board the Ishimura, they find that the opposing group isn’t the enemy – it’s the hideous collection of reanimated corpses that they need to watch out for. And thus, the body count begins to rise.

    Christopher Shy’s art is very similar to Templesmith’s, and he does a good job of detailing the nightmarish creatures – when they can be seen clearly, that is. Too often they are blurred or obscured or otherwise rendered ineffectual. But when brought to the forefront, his designs pop and ooze off the page.

    Johnston’s story has some good moments, but by fading the character building and science/religion debate into the background for a more action-oriented approach, the story suffers somewhat. It’s a fast and entertaining read, but probably nothing that will compel you to revisit it once you’ve finished it off.

    Dead Space LiberationDead Space: Liberation
    Written by Ian Edginton
    Art by Christopher Shy


    Liberation is the latest in the Dead Space comic series, serving as a direct tie-in to the just-released game Dead Space 3. Artist Christopher Shy is back, working from a script provided by series newcomer Ian Edginton. Whereas the previous two volumes were directly related, this one forges an entirely new story, albeit with the same basic elements that are cornerstones of the Dead Space mythology.

    On a planet called Uxor, another mysterious Marker has been discovered. Scientist Damara Carver is studying the artifact. Her husband, John, is also on site. Where Damara is an accomplished, respected expert in the field of data archaeology, John is a grunt, a man who has wasted multiple opportunities to advance his career. His troubles have put a strain on his marriage, a strain that becomes impossible to alleviate when Damara is killed by parties that want to cover up her findings.

    Those findings – evidence of human tampering with the Markers that dates back centuries – not only point to a sinister purpose behind the Unitologist religion, but also to a way to end the Markers’ threat to mankind once and for all. John is determined to see her mission through for her – the only way available to him to make amends for the rift that had grown between them. Edginton quickly brings these disparate parties together, where they battle each other – not to mention a bigger, uglier, and more dangerous group of affected dead than we’ve seen before – at the story’s climax.

    Remember that this story is a lead-in to the game, so while some of the plot threads are resolved here, many more are left to dangle. I’m not sure that it’s necessary to read this before playing Dead Space 3, but I’m sure it will enrich the storytelling aspect of the game if you do. As a standalone piece of fiction, it’s a blast to read as long as you don’t mind not having everything tied up in a neat little bow at the end.

    Overall, I found the Dead Space comics to be a good, solid read. I thought the first volume did the best job as far as putting together a satisfying story, giving something that was purely entertaining with some thought-provoking debate thrown in for good measure. While the subsequent volumes were more flash than substance, they still serve as effective, moody little horror stories, something no fan of the Alien series, Carpenter’s The Thing, or sci-fi/horror mash-ups in general will want to miss.

    More information on the Dead Space graphic novels from Titan Books.

    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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    Book of the Dead PizzaMany of us have been possessed by hunger, but it’s seldom that we’re possessed by the actual food we’re eating. That’s probably going to change when you make this Necronomicon Ex-Mortis pizza.

    The pizza was created by painter and horrific chef Elizabeth on her Gastronomicon, the Blog of the Fed “as an homage to HP Lovecraft, and the Evil Dead movie trilogy.” It’s seriously amazing how much the pizza looks like the Book of the Dead. She includes easy instructions, so go ahead try your luck with the book, but as you go to take that first cheezy bite, beware. The pizza will likely take a bite out of you. After that you can forget about making this dish again. Have you ever tried to knead pizza dough with a chainsaw hand? It’s impossible.

    Crust:
    1 TBS Active dry yeast
    1 TBS Sugar
    1 Cup warm water (105-110 degrees F) {You can replace your water with a cup of warm beer and your sugar with honey for a bit of a change of flavor.}
    1 tsp salt
    2 Cups flour (I do one cup unbleached all purpose and one cup whole wheat)
    (If you want to make a thin crust pizza, just halve this recipe.)

    Directions:
    1) Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Allow to sit until the yeast forms a layer of foam on top of the water-about ten minutes.
    2) Mix in salt, and flour- stir with a spoon, or mix with dough hook if using a mixer, until it forms a uniform ball. Add flour if needed to keep if from being too sticky, and then knead by hand on a smooth surface, or knead with dough hook until well mixed.
    3) Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for an hour.
    4) Punch your dough down and briefly knead on a smooth surface. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    5) Roll out your dough to fit your pizza pan, or baking sheet- should be about a quarter of an inch thick.
    6) Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings and bake for 12 minutes. Slice and serve.

    Pizza Sauce FaceSuggestions for sauce:
    I usually use a can of UNSALTED tomato puree, 16 oz… And simmer that with a couple cloves of minced garlic, dried basil, 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano. I let that simmer over low heat until the volume is reduced by about half… 30-40 minutes depending on how low you have your heat set.  This makes a fair amount of sauce, so depending on how much sauce you want on your pizza, you may want to save some. I also occasionally make a green sauce of garlic, and steamed spinach I have put through the blender.

    My cheese preferences lean towards fresh mozzarella, but I’m not above using the stuff that comes pre-shredded in a bag because it makes for a lot less work.  Provolone and Parmesan also work quite nicely.

    I don’t recommend only topping your pizza with garlic and black olives… My favorite toppings are banana pepper, spinach, fresh basil, onion, mushroom, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts, broccoli… I could go on forever. I would have toppings 6 inches thick if I thought I could do it. But the toppings depend on what kind of sauce you are using, and the other toppings you are putting on.
     

    Pizzanomicon Finished

    via The Gastronomicon

     


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    teen wolf

    Finally! MTV has announced the premiere of Teen Wolf: June 3rd. The third season will air Monday nights at 10pm, and the 24-episode season will be split in half. While no other details have been confirmed, I am guessing they will air the first 12 episodes starting in June, and air the second half at the beginning of 2014.

    The third season picks up four months after season two, and without Colton Haynes (who played Jackson). The new threat in season three is a pack of alpha wolves who are "intent on bringing Derek into their fold."


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    tom misonFox's Sleepy Hollow has cast its Ichabod Crane. British actor Tom Mison will play the role as a captain in the Revolutionary war who time travels to modern day Sleepy Hollow and works as a detective, solving cases of good and evil. The ghost of the Headless Horseman - a soldier Crane killed during the war - returns to haunt the town. Mison's credits include Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Parade's End.

     

     

     

    janet montgomeryABC's Gothica, a gothic soap that blends the mythologies of Victor Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, and Dorian Gray, has cast its female lead. Janet Montgomery will play Grace Van Helsing, Dorian Gray's partner and Victor Frankenstein's ex. Grace comes from a famous publishing company and is an established writer who is looking for the truth behind her parents' death. Janet Montgomery most recently starred in last season's flop Made in Jersey, but will probably be more recognizable to FEARnet readers from roles in Black Swan, Dead Cert, Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, and The Hills Run Red.


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    Otep_Apex

    Last month, we reviewed the sinister and ultra-violent concept album Hydra, the swan song of female-fronted extreme metallers Otep (check out that review here). That record is a gory, atmospheric checklist of murderous mini-tales, and one of the most brutal is “Apex Predator," the single which we previewed in that same article. The band selected that track for the album's first music video, in which band founder/vocalist Otep Shamaya stars as a white-eyed demoness.
     
    Otep_still
     
    The clip is directed by PR Brown, who has previously worked with Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold. While the images aren't nearly as explicit as the song itself (the protagonist fantasizes, among other things, about how her pretty victim's head would look on a stick), it's still fairly unsafe for work, thanks to its highly eroticized approach to violence. “It might get banned in a few places for its sexual and violent content,” Shamaya commented prior to the video's release. “But the message is important... challenging phobias, hypocrisies and delighting the vices in your mind.”
     
    Go ahead and give the uncensored version a spin!
     

     


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    Madman_title

    We're sticking with the summer camp theme for the latest installment in our ongoing slasher series; last week we visited the 1981 cult faveThe Burning (which is about to receive glorious Blu-ray treatment; check out the details here), and today we're headed back to the forest to face another mangled maniac – this time the undead redneck behemoth known as “Madman Marz” – the title nemesis of Madman, released one year after The Burning at the peak of the slasher cycle.
     
    Madman_1
     
    Conceived by producer Gary Sales and director Joe Giannone, Madman is actually loosely based on the same urban myth that inspired The Burning: the story of “Cropsey,” an inhuman killer who – as many a campfire tale would have it – stalks New York's Staten Island, seeking symbolic revenge for his own death and/or disfigurement. The films share much of Cropsey's DNA, all the way down to a lively retelling of the legend around the campfire (in Madman, the Marz tale also includes a nifty folk song), but diverge on the details of the legend, depicting Marz as a hulking hillbilly who murdered his family with an axe and was summarily lynched by local vigilantes. Elements of the “Bloody Mary” legend are woven in as well, so that the shouting of Marz's name summons him from the grave to take up the axe again.
     
    Madman_3
     
    Marz is actually one hell of an intimidating boogeyman, and is likely the main reason for the film's cult success, which seriously spiked when it was released to home video by Thorn EMI in 1983. Portrayed by Paul Ehlers (himself an artist and filmmaker, who was originally hired to do the promotional art and other visual concepts for the film), Marz is a grotesque, barrel-chested, fuzzy Neanderthal in overalls, his face horribly mangled, communicating only in animal grunts and howls. While the film's plot is pretty basic, even as most summer camp slashers go, the Marz character gives it a dark fairytale feel that really ups the entertainment factor... that, and some nifty decapitation effects when Marz finally gets that axe swinging.
     
    Madman_2
     
    Madman has other memorable points, including the casting of a beloved horror performer in one of the lead roles – although if you haven't seen the film, you may not know she's there: the lead actress “Alexis Dubin” is actually Gaylen Ross, who portrayed Francine in George Romero's zombie classic Dawn of the Dead. Another bit of trivia involves Ehlers, whose wife went into labor with their first child during the shooting of the film. The actor raced to the hospital in full Marz costume with his facial prosthetics still in place, and actually had to convince the hospital's admitting staff that he didn't actually need any medical help himself!
     
    Marz_artwork
    Another cool curiosity about Madman emerged just before Code Red released a 30th anniversary edition DVD of the film (it's still available on Amazon, by the way): acclaimed horror artist Bryan Baugh, known for his amazing renderings of classic horror film scenes, captured a great likeness of Marz and a nubile victim. The illustration above, which you can view at Baugh's official site along with his many other amazing originals, drew the attention of Ehlers himself, who soon befriended the artist and helped secure a monochrome version of the image for Code Red's DVD features.
     

     


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    kathy batesKathy Bates has been announced as joining season three of FX Network's American Horror Story.

    According to TV Line, Bates will play the best friend of Jessica Lange's new character - but will turn out to be her nemesis. Not much is known about the third season of the show, and creator Ryan Murphy has only said that it will be "more romantic" and set in modern times. Previously announced cast members include Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Sarah Paulson, and Frances Conroy, all returning from previous seasons of American Horror Story, all in new roles. Kathy Bates is the first new actor to be announced to the series this season.

    American Horror Story is set to go into production this summer and will likely air starting in October.


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    Andy MuschiettiMama director Andy Muschietti, who looks like he could be a character in his own movie, is currently in negotiations to helm Universal’s new post-apocalyptic offering Bird Box. Written by Josh Malerman the frontman and guitarist for the High Strung, Universal optioned the Bird Box manuscript even before the book hit shelves. The publishing date is set for 2014.

    According to Publisher’s Weekly the story follows “a blindfolded threesome comprised of a woman and two children who make their way down a river in a seemingly postapocalyptic setting.”  So, you know, it’s upbeat. Other sources compare the manuscript to Children of Men and The Others. No screenwriter is attached for the adaptation as of yet.

    Watch Muschietti’s Mama short:
     



    via THR


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