Articles on this Page
- 04/16/13--13:00: _Our Favorite Practi...
- 04/16/13--14:00: _New 'Willow Creek' ...
- 04/16/13--15:00: _Exclusive: We Chat ...
- 04/16/13--16:00: _Horror Moments We H...
- 04/16/13--17:00: _TV Review: 'Your Pr...
- 04/17/13--08:00: _Attrition: 'The Unr...
- 04/17/13--09:00: _And Now A Scary-Ass...
- 04/17/13--10:00: _Gift Guide: Jason V...
- 04/17/13--11:00: _Special 'Lords of S...
- 04/17/13--12:00: _'The Banshee Chapte...
- 04/17/13--13:00: _FEARnet Movie Revie...
- 04/17/13--14:00: _Spiderbaby’s Terror...
- 04/17/13--15:00: _Cryptid Catalog: 'T...
- 04/17/13--16:00: _Slasher Cinema Show...
- 04/17/13--17:00: _Exclusive: 'The Vam...
- 04/18/13--09:00: _Check Out the Trail...
- 04/18/13--10:00: _Ghost: 'Infestissum...
- 04/18/13--11:00: _See 'Scream' In 35mm
- 04/18/13--12:00: _TV Adaptation of Te...
- 04/18/13--13:00: _Watch the New Trail...
- 04/16/13--13:00: Our Favorite Practical Gore Effects Created by Tom Savini
- 04/16/13--14:00: New 'Willow Creek' Poster Features an Awesome Bigfoot
- 04/16/13--15:00: Exclusive: We Chat With the Cast of 'Hemlock Grove'
- 04/16/13--16:00: Horror Moments We Hope to See in 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
- 04/16/13--17:00: TV Review: 'Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell'
- 04/17/13--08:00: Attrition: 'The Unraveller of Angels'– CD Review
- 04/17/13--09:00: And Now A Scary-Ass Clown Hocking Cereal
- 04/17/13--10:00: Gift Guide: Jason Voorhees Garden Gnome
- 04/17/13--11:00: Special 'Lords of Salem' Screenings With Rob Zombie
- 04/17/13--12:00: 'The Banshee Chapter' Headed for US Release
- 04/17/13--13:00: FEARnet Movie Review: 'From Beyond' on Blu-Ray
- 04/17/13--14:00: Spiderbaby’s Terror Tapes: 'Basket Case'
- 04/17/13--15:00: Cryptid Catalog: 'The Dover Demon'
- 04/17/13--16:00: Slasher Cinema Showcase: 'Just Before Dawn'
- 04/18/13--09:00: Check Out the Trailer for Amazon Studios''Zombieland'
- 04/18/13--10:00: Ghost: 'Infestissumam'– CD Review
- 04/18/13--11:00: See 'Scream' In 35mm
- 04/18/13--12:00: TV Adaptation of Terry Moore's 'Rachel Rising' in the Works
- 04/18/13--13:00: Watch the New Trailer for 'R.I.P.D.'
Tom Savini is a make up effects legend and an original badass. He is responsible for making the demise of hundreds of fornicating teenagers look realistic as well as bringing all sorts of disfigured monsters to life. Tom Savini was in love with horror before it was en vogue to work in genre film. He has pulled off some of the most realistic looking and insanely difficult practical effects ever. In addition to being responsible for some of the most epic impalements, exploding heads, decapitations, and stab wounds, Savini also acts and runs a make up effects school for aspiring FX artists. As a “thank you” to one of the most respected men working in fright films today, we are paying tribute by highlighting ten of our favorite special effects created by the renowned make up artist himself.
Friday the 13th: Decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees
This scene stands out in my mind, whenever I think of a classic example of practical effects. The decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees was bitter sweet for me. The actual effect was amazing, but seeing the psychotic matriarch of the Voorhees clan lose her head always makes me a little sad. Sure she is dangerous, but she strikes me as the kind of lady I would like to sit down for a cocktail with. As far as her on-screen decapitation, Savini pulled it of almost seamlessly. Her head did a slow motion summersault in the air while viewers cheered. The one detractor is that the viewer can see a man’s hairy knuckles in the shot. However, if you weren’t looking for it, you likely wouldn’t notice it.
Dawn of the Dead: Screwdriver to the Head
Tom Savini brought the gore effects to the next level in Dawn of the Dead. A screwdriver makes its way in to a zombie’s ear canal and a giant pool of blood gushes out, immediately after. The effect is pretty simple from a technical standpoint, but it plays out very effectively. The contrast of chalk white zombie flesh and crimson blood really made an impression on me the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: Tommy Jarvis puts a Machete Through Jason’s Head
The Final Chapter marked Tom Savini’s return to the Friday the 13thfranchise (after being absent from parts II and III). In a fitting turn of events, marking Savini’s return, Tommy Jarvis is a major movie makeup enthusiast. And Tommy uses movie makeup when he turns the tables on Jason and puts a machete through Jason’s head. The effect looks brutal and really goes all out, in terms of showing the whole ordeal onscreen. Watching Jason’s partially severed head slide down the machete is pretty amazing.
Canoe scene in the burning
Any time The Burning comes up in conversation with a fellow horror fan, the discussion is always steered to the raft/canoe sequence. In the infamous canoe scene, Cropsey takes out, not one, but 5 teenagers, in one fell swoop. Cropsey stabs, slices, impales, and cuts off fingers over the course of 30 seconds. It’s like the death toll for a low budget slasher film compressed in to one scene, over the course of less than a minute. Savini reportedly turned down Friday the 13th Part IIto work on this film and on some level, we are glad he did. The canoe sequence is one of the most outrageous mass murder scenes in slasher film history. The vigor with which and the variety of ways in which Cropsey sends campers to their demise is not to be missed.
Maniac: Exploding Head in Car
The late Joe Spinell brought Frank Zito to life in an unforgettable way, but Tom Savini was also a big part of the magic behind Maniac. The film wouldn’t be the epic, creepy, depraved masterpiece that it is if it weren’t for Savini’s prowess with prosthetics and special make up effects. When Frank Zito jumps on top of a young couple's car and shoots a man’s head off (Savini himself), the resulting aftermath is expertly crafted and bloody enough to satisfy even the most discerning gore hound. The woman in the car is coated in blood and very little is left to the imagination.
“The Raft” segment of Creepshow II: Tar-like goo envelops Laverne and eats her face
‘The Raft” segment in Creepshow II is a fan favorite amongst the vignettes in this 1987 follow up to the original George Romero/Stephen King classic. It starts out fairly formulaic, with a group of college kids heading to the beach, but it quickly veers away from the horror film tropes that viewers are expecting to follow. The physical appearance of the tarry mass was spectacular. If this segment were made today, it would likely be created with CGI and it probably wouldn’t look as cool or as realistic. Watching the goo engulf Laverne and disfigure her face is amazing. It’s the kind of effect that makes the astute viewer wonder how the FX team pulled it off.
The Crate segment of Creepshow: Throat Chewed Open by Bigfoot
This Creepshow segment was yet another testament to how talented Tom Savini is as an effects artist. The wound itself is ultra realistic looking and the rampant arterial spray that results from the Bigfoot bite is delightfully gory. Savini’s ability to create lifelike looking bloodshed is phenomenal. As always, with Savini’s handiwork the effect serves to further intensify the scene and keeps the viewer highly engaged.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre II: The Sheriff Saws Through Leatherface
The second installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is kind of a love it or hate it affair. One of my friends wisely observed that the film did a very smart thing in going the ‘camp’ route. Tobe Hooper realized that nothing could top the original film, so the best course of action was not to try. The film didn’t please everyone, but Hooper and screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson created a film that people have come to enjoy more with time. And in terms of gore, the film fired on all four cylinders. The scene where the sheriff impales Leatherface with a chainsaw is absolutely exquisite. It looks incredibly realistic and is every bit as grotesque as horror fans wanted it to be. Dennis Hopper is completely crazy and an expert casting choice for the film. The sheriff (Dennis Hopper) cuts through Leatherface with a maniacal glee that few others could have so effortlessly pulled off.
The Prowler : Knife in Head and Out Chin
The Prowler features great effects throughout the film. It’s one of four films that Savini leant his creative genius to in 1981. The knife in the head scene is an epic achievement in movie makeup and it really stood out as one of Savini’s best. The logistics of stabbing someone in that manner may be slightly questionable, as there is more than just skin and muscle to stab through, but it was a major crowd-pleaser, regardless. The Prowler also has a great exploding head scene-one of Savini’s specialties. But, the knife through the head took the cake for us.
Friday the 13th: The Arrow Death
Jack’s (Kevin Bacon) death scene in Friday the 13thfurthered the assertion that if you smoke drugs or have sex in a horror movie, you will die. The way that the scene plays out-with an arrow penetrating Jack’s chest-is clever, brutal, and extremely fun for gore fans. This scene required Tom Savini’s assistant to be under the bed during filming. When the tube didn’t deliver the stage blood like it was supposed to, Savini’s assistant Taso Stavrakis blew in to it to start the blood flow. And we wouldn’t change a thing about the end result; blood went everywhere and it looked great.
We extend honorable mention to Tom Savini for the monster he created for the Tales from the Darkside television series, and the decapitations from Dario Argento’s Trauma.
Bobcat Goldthwait, the comedian who has taken to directing in the last few years, has a new Bigfoot movie coming out called Willow Creek. The found footage film promises to breathe new, humorous life into the subgenre, and makes its debut at the Boston Independent Film Festival at the end of the month. Badass Digest debuted the wicked poster.
Official synopsis: Jim and his girlfriend Kelly are in Willow Creek, California, to retrace the steps of Bigfoot researchers Patterson and Gimlin, who, in 1967, recorded the most famous film of the legendary monster. Kelly is a skeptic, along for the ride to spend time with her boyfriend between acting gigs. Jim, a believer, hopes to capture footage of his own, so his camera is constantly rolling.
The small town is a mecca to the Bigfoot community; sasquatch statues guard the local businesses, murals of the missing link line the roads, and Bigfoot burgers are the town delicacy. The couple interview locals who range from skeptic to believer and from manic to completely menacing. Some of the stories they hear are of chance encounters with a gentle creature, while others are tales of mysterious eviscerations.
On the day that Jim and Kelly plan on hiking into the woods to look for proof, they are given a simple warning: “It’s not a joke. You shouldn’t go there.” Despite the ominous message and Kelly’s own reservations, they head deep into the forest to set up camp. The events that follow will make them wish they had simply spent the night at the Bigfoot Motel.
Netflix’s second original series, Hemlock Grove, is a kind of gothic soap opera, set in a small town filled with quirky characters - like Twin Peaks with monsters. There is Peter (Landon Libiron), the gypsy werewolf; Christina (Freya Tingley), the inquisitive innocent who is fascinated by Peter; Roman (Bill Skarsgard), the spoiled scion of the Godfrey family, who may or may not know he is a vampire; and the only two people he is kind to: Shelley, his monstrously deformed younger sister, of whom he is very protective; and Letha (Penelope Mitchell), his cousin and best friend, who becomes pregnant under mysterious circumstances. We chatted with the young cast, along with producers Brian McGreevy (who also wrote the novel on which the show is based) and Lee Shipman ahead of the series' online debut.
On what inspired Hemlock Grove:
Brian: “The idea, at it’s most basic, was that I was going to take the three most canonical monsters of the modern era - Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman - and put them in my high school.”
On what drew them to the project:
Freya: “The characters were three dimensional, fully fleshed-out, that defied convention. They weren’t stereotypes.”
Landon: “It is really interesting writing. It’s a special thing when you can read a script and hear a voice in it.”
Penelope: “The show has a very particular sensibility. If the show appeals to you, you fall in love with it. When I was sent the script it was so unique, so sophisticated, so nuanced, with so much room to grow. As an actor you can’t ask for more than that. That gothic kind of narrative really appeals to me.”
Bill: “When I read the script it was so fresh and so cool. Compared to all the other scripts going around LA that I read, this was the one I really, really wanted.”
On the inevitable Twilight comparisons:
Landon: “I was skeptical because it was a vampire/werewolf thing. But it’s too vicious for that.”
Penelope: “When my agent pitched the idea to me, I thought it was kind of a yawn. But it is so unique and so iconoclastic, and it is an approach to a genre that seems so popular and defined, then blows it out of the water.”
Bill: “The script is so fresh and unique from what we see in the genre. It’s more sophisticated. When my manager told me about it, it wasn’t appealing to me at all. But then I read the script and it completely changed my mind. I hope people will see it and think of it as something fresh and something new.”
On working for Netflix as opposed to traditional networks:
Lee: “We pursued the relationship very aggressively after we saw the House of Cards deal. They were the most interesting and innovative players in the field. Their ethos is from a tech background, not a Hollywood background. Hollywood business culture is so polluted and hierarchical and archaic in its thinking, whereas tech companies come from a place of collaboration, innovation, and a lack of micro-management.”
Brian: “I would never work for a network.”
Lee: “I would work as a cocktail waitress before I worked for CBS.”
All 13 episodes of Hemlock Grove will be available on Netflix at 12:01am on April 19th.
The world got its first glimpse of scenes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the sequel’s first teaser trailer debuted at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday. The second film, based on Suzanne Collin’s dystopian YA trilogy, finds heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow surviving District 12 Tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), dealing with the escalating fallout of their rebellious choice to almost sacrifice their lives rather than kill one another in the Hunger Games arena.
The deliciously arch discussion between Donald Sutherland’s ruthlessly canny Capitol President Snow, and new Hunger Games Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) makes it very clear that Katniss’ subversive move has to be snuffed out so it doesn’t ignite a bigger spark of dissension.
What does that mean? In the trailer, it means nice old men get shot in the head by Peacekeeper goons, Katniss’ BFF Gale (Liam Hemsworth) gets whipped within an inch of his life, and all of the previous Hunger Games Victors, including Katniss, are going to get collectively punished…[spoilers ahead] in a very special anniversary Hunger Games dubbed the Quarter Quell.
What we also hope it means for Catching Fire is that the other really twisted horrors featured in the book make it into sequel director Francis Lawrence’s cinematic vision. Respected in the industry for his visual style, Lawrence previously helmed Constantine and I Am Legend and both achieved some admirable horror moments (despite the fact that the infected CGI Darkseekers at the end of Legend didn’t work). In Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games, the Gamesmaker-generated threats - from the tracker jacker wasps to the muttation dogs - came off surprisingly weak so there’s a lot of room for Lawrence to amp up his Quell arena for story and scares.
What horrific moments do we want to see in Catching Fire? Here’s our wish list of frights that we hope get translated authentically to the screen [EXTREMESPOILERS AHEAD!]:
The Reading of the Card
In the book, the 75th Annual Hunger Games, or Quarter Quell, gets special designation and special rules. As alluded to in the trailer, Snow and Heavensbee have a hand in shifting the playing field and require that a male and female Victor from each District return to the Arena to battle to the death once more. The whole sequence in the book is primed to become one of those cinematic moments that makes your stomach drop to the floor. The reveal, and subsequent responses, from Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) should capture the real horror of their circumstances.
If you’ve seen Carrie or Army of Darkness, then you’re plenty familiar with how dramatic and freakish a steady dousing of blood on a body can be. In the Quell arena, it’s one of the threats that befall a contingent of Victors including Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). While it doesn’t unleash on Katniss and her core group, we still want to see a flash of what the rain does to Mason’s faction. Hell, we’d even settle for them emerging from the forest dripping in the aftermath.
Another section of the Arena features orange monkey creations conjured up by the Gamemakers. First off, I don’t like monkeys very much, so when these orange fuzzballs in the book suddenly go beserker with fangs and switchblade claws aimed at the Victors, my brain said all kinds of “Hell no!” I think most moviegoers were underwhelmed by the muttation dogs in The Hunger Games, so here’s hoping that a mixture of practical effects and CGI can make these suckers work because the sequence has the potential to be terrifying.
It’s a quick but brutal scene of sacrifice when Mags (Lynn Cohen), the aging District 4 Tribute, decides to take herself out so her fellow Victors can move on to safety without her. She steps into a poisonous fog that makes her writhe violently until she dies. We can see this harrowing scene being an incredibly effective emotional moment that brings the ugliness of the games home to audience.
Cinna’s Last Message
A true game changer in the book for readers and Katniss, what happens to her beloved stylist and friend Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) plays out like a classic horror film bait-and-switch moment. An emotional goodbye between the two right before the Quell begins suddenly turns into a violent nightmare that Katniss just has to watch, helplessly. You need to feel this loss as it spurs Katniss forward in the last act of the story.
What darker scenes do you hope make it into The Hunger Games: Catching Fire?
Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell is a new live-action series on Adult Swim. It’s kind of a cross between Reaper and The Office. Gary is an associate, trying to climb up the corporate ladder in Hell. Unfortunately, Gary is lazy and incompetent, which makes advancement difficult.
In the midseason episode I watched, Gary talks a stoned hippie into killing the lead singer of a jam band. While at the concert, he loses his wallet, which contained his summon word. Gary is the kind of guy who whose summon word is “summonword” - and he needs it written down to remember it. It is a weird, wacky mix of dark humor (when a hippie tattoos “summonword” on his leg, Gary’s first response is to cut off his leg) and demonic pinnings (Gary must get people to sign their souls over on contracts made of human skin).
Like all of Adult Swim’s original live-action content, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell is about 12-minutes per episode and don’t necessarily have to be watched in order to be enjoyed. I have not been a huge fan of Adult Swim’s live-action offerings in the past; I find them frequently weird for the sake of weird (as opposed to being weird with a meaning) or a collection of scenes and imagery with little plot or through-line. Your Pretty Face is weird and wacky, but there is a plot; there is a point to it all. It’s not necessarily a “deep” meaning, but I’m not looking for “thinking” shows when watching something on Adult Swim. I am looking for something silly, something that will make me laugh, and something that is just mindless entertainment. Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell gives me all of that. There are far, far worse ways to spend 12 minutes.
Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell premieres on April 18th at midnight during the Adult Swim block of programming on Cartoon Network.
Just last month, UK musician Martin Bowes gave us a taste of the latest offering from his legendary gothic/industrial music project Attrition, in the form of the digital EP Narcissist (check it out here), which represents the band in a more intense, heavy beat-driven mode while still maintaining the hypnotic ambient soundscapes that Bowes brings to the game. Ever since hearing him describe the band's new stylistic direction in an earlier interview, I've been anxious to hear the entirety of The Unraveller of Angels, the band's highly-anticipated sixteenth studio album. The roster of guest artists on this record is impressive enough – Tylean, Mona Mur, Matt Howden, Ian Arkley, Jyri Glynn and Erica Mulkey are among the contributors – and many musical genres are represented, from straight-up electro to neoclassical to dark ambient noise. That said, Unraveller is still pure Attrition: dark, mysterious and sexy at any speed.
There really isn't a whole lot to say about this commercial. It's a terrifying demon clown pimping delicious sugary cereal. The funny part is that this is an improvement on their previous mascot, a horribly racist Asian kid named So Hi
Who knew that garden gnomes would be the next "normal" object to get a horror makeover? First there were zombie garden gnomes, now Jason Voorhees! I think Jason is my favorite (after all, he hunts outside) but if Jason's not your killer of choice, you can grab Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers.
If you are in Los Angeles this week, you may want to check out one of three special screenings of Lords of Salem. Writer/director Rob Zombie and star Sheri Moon Zombie will be on hand for Q&As about Rob's witchcraft tale.
Thursday, April 18th 10pm
Special friends & fans screening at the AMC Burbank 16
Featuring Rob Zombie, Sheri Moon Zombie, & Cast
Friday, April 19th 8pm
Special screening at the Arclight Hollywood
Featuring Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon Zombie, moderated by Ryan Turek of Shock Till You Drop
Sunday, April 21st 7:30pm
Special screening at the Arclight Hollywood
Featuring Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon Zombie
Can't make it to any of these screenings? Maybe our exclusive interview with Rob will answer some of your questions:
Lords of Salem opens in theaters April 19th.
I knew something was up when I read Roger Ebert's review of 1986's From Beyond. The second collaboration between director Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna, screenwriter Dennis Paoli, actors Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton -- the one that followed quickly on the heels of the widely adored Re-Animator (1985) -- had received a pretty positive review from the notoriously "hard on horror" Roger Ebert. I was intrigued, I was excited... I finally saw From Beyond and I was confused. I didn't get it, which is not to say I didn't like it. The monster effects were awesome and the actors were once again delivering great work as Mr. Gordon and his team combined 70% Lovecraft, 20% Hammer, and 10% pure 1980s horror coolness.
Looking back I think I was perhaps a bit too young (not to mention inexperienced in the ways of H.P. Lovecraft) to fully appreciate how energetic, colorful, and audacious a horror film From Beyond is -- but as a relative grown-up I now see this film as a miniature masterpiece that ranks among the finest of the horror flicks of the 1980s, right up there with Hellraiser, The Evil Dead, and (aha!) Re-Animator.
Several years back MGM treated horror fans to something pretty special. A fully restored director's cut of From Beyond, one that had over four minutes of (mostly super splattery) material restored from what the MPAA allowed the distributors to release theatrically back in 1986. The MGM DVD had a lovingly restored version of the film and several cool supplements for the fans to enjoy. The only problem with this release? It wasn't a blu-ray.
Flash forward about five years: the fine folks at Scream Factory (aka Shout Factory) have rectified that problem in exceedingly fine fashion. Before we get into what's "new" here (aside from the blu-ray transfer, I mean) let's focus on the film itself through the magic of recycled paragraphs. (Yes, I reviewed the From Beyond DVD back in 2007.) Ahem.
"Based on the Lovecraft story of the same name, From Beyond begins with material found in the source material, and then just sort of branches out in its own directions. Seems that a skittish scientist called Tillinghast is the only suspect in a brutal murder, but when he tells the authorities that his mentor was devoured by monsters from another dimension ... well, they toss him into the nut-house right quick. Enter the hot young psychiatrist known as Katherine McMichaels, who promptly frees Tillinghast and demands a tour of the "Pretorious Resonator." A tough-but-likable cop called Bubba also comes along for the ride, what with Tillinghast still being a suspected lunatic / murder and such.
"But what's a "Pretorious Resonator" and why should one stay away from such a thing? Turns out that it's a revolutionary new mega-tuning fork that does a number on the human pineal gland -- thereby allowing (er, forcing) people to see ultra-dimensional (and mega-slime-covered) freak-beasts. Needless to say, these monsters from alternate dimensions are not exactly the friendly kind.
"From there it's a grim and icky trip through the collective mind of Stuart Gordon and H.P. Lovecraft. As our three sorta-heroes continue to monkey with the resonator, they start noticing little ... personality alterations, which only adds a lot of confusion to the mayhem. And just when you thought From Beyond was intent on staying a claustrophobic, three-character affair, the flick opens up to deliver some high-end and very creative carnage inside of an ill-fated hospital.
"After numerous visits with both movies, I'm starting to think From Beyond is actually superior to Re-Animator. The flick is awash in lurid colors, unsettling concepts, and an unapologetically gooey river of viscera. It's faithful to Lovecraft while marking a little new ground, it moves like a flash, and it ends right when it ought to. With the arrival of this director's cut, we can now enjoy this fine genre flick the way it was originally intended: freaky, gory, and completely unpredictable -- even if you know your Lovecraft."
As far as the extra go, here's what Scream Factory retained from the MGM DVD: Fans will devour the feature-length audio commentary (participants: Gordon, Yuzna, Combs & Crampton!), plus we get three brief-but-excellent featurettes: one on the film as a whole, another on the recent restoration process, and a third on the very fine Charles Band musical score. Also included is an extensive collection of photos and storyboard comparisons.
And the new stuff? A solo audio commentary from the plainly erudite screenwriter Dennis Paoli. Of course the fans will probably enjoy the cast/crew track a bit more, but there's always room for a screenwriter commentary on my DVDs. Also included are several new interviews, most notably with the still lovely Ms. Crampton. Also, the slip-case reverses between some cool new cover art and the original From Beyond theatrical poster.
Hats off to Scream Factory for treating '80s horror films like classic cinema. To a lot of us, they are. Well, maybe not "classic," but you get my point. (Other titles in the Scream Factory blu-ray line include The Funhouse, Terror Train, Halloween 2, Deadly Blessing, and Prison, with lots more on the way.) If their next releases are half as impressive as the From Beyond package, I'll be one happy horror geek.
My love of Basket Case didn’t officially occur until its sequel – when the deformed brother of Duane Bradley (Kevin VanHentenryck), Belial, finally met the “girl” of his dreams. However, the original Basket Case has a lot to offer, and I’ve chosen it for the second installment of Terror Tapes because for many of us, Basket Case (directed by Frank Henelotter) was the reason we fell in love with horror in the first place. You probably have memories of walking into the video store, stepping into the horror section and falling in love with the font on the video cover, dripping with blood, and a horrendous face peeking out from inside a basket. That was the Media Home VHS box. Or perhaps your video store carried the Palace Version VHS with Duane on the cover, carrying the basket, with some of the sleaziest signs from New York’s 42nd Street in the background. Roadshow Home Video also came out with a version very similar to Media Home. Whichever box cover caught your eye, Basket Case changed your life, and here you are yet again, going down (a blood-filled) memory road with me!
Duane hides his horrifying secret (our monster, Belial) in a locked wicker basket that he constantly keeps at his side. Checking into a seedy hotel in Times Square, he plots a series of visits to doctor’s offices, searching for those who had a hand in their separation, and seeking bloody revenge. Duane and Belial have a history of murder: they killed their mother in childbirth, then later killed their father after finding out that he made the call to separate them.
Basket Case has several “jump out” moments, but ultimately, the character of Belial is so silly that he’s not scary. (Plus, the film has aged.) The murders and the gore in this film are plentiful and excellently executed. It’s always nice to see a horror film without the CGI tricks of the modern trade. Belial is essentially a lump of scar tissue, cartilage, and deformed flesh. When he’s moving around during the stop-motion animation sequences, he looks ridiculous – but otherwise, his twisted skin is grotesque and very life-like. Basket Case is one of the pioneers of exploitation horror with nudity, gratuitous blood, a gross-out sex scene, and absurd dialogue. It’s very clear that Henenlotter was a fan of the genre before he started making films himself. Basket Case definitely conveys a strong sense of horror-love. Henenlotter also loves Belial and occasionally the camera aligns us with the creature’s point of view: close to the ground, with jerky movements.
Basket Case has laughs aplenty, especially when Belial steals Casey’s (Beverly Bonner) underwear. It has become a cult classic, and is so well loved (by horror fans and Henenlotter himself) that it spawned two sequels (which were recently rereleased on DVD and Blu-Ray by Synapse).
I collected a few interesting and comical stories about the making of Basket Case and Basket Case2 from actors Beverly Bonner and Kevin VanHentenryck
How did you get involved in the first Basket Case film? How did you meet Frank?
Beverly: Frank Henenlotter came to see the production Women Behind Bars with the late Divine. He gave me his card after the show and told me he was doing a movie and would like me to be in it. I thanked him politely but expected nothing to come of it. After all, men gave me their cards all the time! [Laughs.] So all these years later, I have been in EVERY ONE of Frank’s films, including the one he is editing now, which we shot this summer.
Kevin: I was studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Ilze Balodis, who plays the social worker in the film, was the assistant registrar at the school. She knew Frank and she wanted me to meet him. I went and met him and even then, he was a walking encyclopedia of the genre. He seemed interested in me as an actor, so he gave me three bit parts in his film Slash of the Knife. Frank had been using his friends up until that point in his film – he wasn’t getting the really good results he wanted. I talked him into using student actors to get better results and performances. Frank and I worked well together; we got along really well. So months later, he called me up and told me about Basket Case. He told me the entire plot, and he was very detailed and of course I was interested.
What was it like working with Frank Henenlotter and his unique vision and ideas?
Kevin: For me, the idea that Duane and Belial are Siamese twins was fascinating to me. I thought that their telepathic way of communication post-separation was really cool. Frank was really great to work with, and we all helped out on the set doing different things. He had a really great vision for the film. Frank is so knowledgeable about the genre, so when a problem came up, and someone would make a suggestion – he knew whether or not that had been used in a horror film in the past before.
Beverly: Well, I worked on ALL of Frank’s films, Basket Case, Basket Case 2 & 3, Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, Bad Biology, and his latest this summer although I’m not at liberty to reveal any info on Frank’s latest. When I first met Frank he reminded me of Opie from Andy Griffith’s show in Mayberry. Rosy full cheeks, freckles, clear blue eyes. He was a cutie and so nice! He is a professional, passionate about movies - very very passionate about movie. He is a walking authority on many. He is smart, funny, loyal and we communicate very well and laugh a lot. I’m proud he’s my friend and he has been so supportive of Casey --- 30 Years Later!, the comedy play I wrote based upon my character from Basket Case.
I have this old issue of FANGORIA where Frank was interviewed just before Basket Case came out, and you can feel his love for the genre in the article – it comes through, and I think that’s why the film has aged so well and why it has a cult status; it’s because Frank created something he loved, as a horror fan, and that translates to new audiences today.
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. It was a labor of love for all of us.
Do you have any good stories to tell about working so closely with Belial? Did you find it difficult to work with a monster?
Kevin: [laughs] Well, for me, it’s not that different from any acting situation. You’re onscreen and you’re supposed to be talking to another person – so in this case, it was just a rubber monster! It’s all for pretend, and that’s acting. When we shot it, I really loved all the scenes where I was interacting with Belial and the basket. I spent a lot of time working on that, trying to flesh out that relationship and make it as natural and real as possible. I also really enjoyed the scene at the end where we are fighting in the hotel room, and he lifts me up and throws me out the window. That was a lot of fun; I was hanging from the hotel sign.
Beverly: My experience with him was different because I wasn’t his Siamese twin and Belial is a mass of rubber and plastic, so we never hung at the bar! [Laughs.] The scene with me in bed where Belial runs his hand over my breast was difficult. It was about 100 degrees on the set and it was a complicated shot. They had to cut a hole in the mattress for access, Frank and the FX guys were under the bed making it all work and it did. Difficult, but fun. Of course, Belial steals my panties. Interesting story: those red panties are famous and they disappeared, someone on the set stole them and they were my very own “personal” panties!
Kevin, you also played Belial in a few scenes – especially some of the more interesting ones, like his sex scene with Eve in Basket Case 2.
Kevin: Yes, I helped in that – I only actually played Belial in one scene. My face was superimposed on his in the scene where he and Duane are talking and Duane is trying to convince him of this miraculous new life. I was filmed wearing the Belial hat. If we ever made a fourth film, I’d like to play Belial a lot more. I have been thinking a lot about that, actually! The sex scene, I can’t remember what I was doing specifically, but I do know that Frank was working with Belial’s hands. We all helped out with moving the monsters and everything else on the set, because it was a small film with a small budget, and we were just all hanging out, so we all took part and helped.
Kevin, I’m assuming you did your own stunts on the film – what was it like being grabbed by Belial in the hotel room?
Kevin: It was fun. Frank and [producer] Edgar Levins figured this stuff out. A behind-the-scenes secret: every time someone lifts up the basket and Belial jumps out at them into their face, it was filmed with the camera hung upside down from an A-frame ladder and Belial was filmed starting at the finish position, then going back into the basket. So when it’s flopped and run backward, it looks like he’s jumping out of the basket. It’s such a simple, low-tech and hands-on way to solve that problem, and Frank knew exactly how to make it work. When Belial and I are hanging from the sign, the sign was on the fire escape. We drove Edgar’s van under the fire escape and he had built this platform that we attached to the top of the van. I stood on top of the van, on top of the platform. I had a harness on under my clothes, so I was hung up from the sign, and then Edgar would drive away, so I’d be left hanging and we’d shoot the scene. It was really fun stuff.
Belial looks so great. The monsters look awesome.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s all Gabe Bartalos. He did the effects in the second film – and the third as well. His stuff is incredible.
Beverly: We just had lots of fun. And to still be close with all these people so many years later is a real gift.
Do you know why the hotel was called Broslin? I always wondered why the hotel was named that, if there was a story behind that.
Kevin: Oh, I don’t know, to be honest. That would be a question for Frank. I do remember that we tried to shoot hotel exteriors next to Madison Square Garden and in that era, the late 70s, it was a sketchy neighborhood and we actually had a homeless person tell us that if we paid him $50, then he wouldn’t steal our cables. So we knew that wouldn’t work out.
Tell me more about finding locations for the first film.
Kevin: Fans often ask me, “Where is the hotel Broslin”? It was several sites, actually. The exteriors and the manager’s desk were a freight elevator from a building on Franklin Street in New York. One of the trips up and down the stairs case, the middle landing where a man in a pink bathrobe comes out – that was a teacher at the Academy, and now he’s the dean. The rooms themselves were built in a loft that belonged to one of the actors’ husbands in the film and if you look closely, Casey’s room and Duane’s room are the same, just redecorated.
Beverly, you’re a popular comedian now – where can FEARnet readers see you perform?
Beverly: Yes, I am a stand-up comic, playwright, director and producer. My show, Casey---30 Years Later! is currently running two Tuesday nights a month at Broadway Comedy Club in New York City. Casey goes to Tamarac Theater in Tamarac, Florida May 17th and 18th. In the fall we will begin shooting a Casey web series.
Tomorrow night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries brings the show back from a nearly month-long hiatus, and it counts down the last few episodes of season four. While the backdoor pilot for The Originals doesn’t air until next week, this week’s episode is pretty significant. It is the senior prom in Mystic Falls, so naturally chaos will ensue. A lot happens in this episode and I was worried that I would give all the good stuff away, so I went directly to TVD producer and the episode’s writer, Caroline Dries, to tell us about “Pictures of You.” If anyone can preview the episode without spoiling it, she can.
“The prom is the quintessential high school dance. This is senior prom, the one everyone looks forward to, and our main character is the biggest bitch in the world right now - is this how we want Elena’s prom to be? But yeah, it wouldn’t be Vampire Diaries if it felt like a normal dance. We need to make it feel like a different version of the prom - the anti-prom, almost. There is a kind of Carrie-esque feel that we wanted to explore, with the Bonnie part.
“There will be some interesting pairings, with regard to who dances with who - which might be teeing up some potential romances in the future. We get to meet Silas, the real Silas - or who we want you to believe at this moment is the real Silas. We have a special appearance by one of our favorite characters, who returns. Bonnie is exploring the next level of her magic. Poor Bonnie, when last we saw her, had forgotten a huge chunk of her past. Off-camera, Stefan had to tell her about Jeremy, so in this episode, Bonnie is really grieving Jeremy’s death. She goes to prom in an attempt to let go of some of the darkness and enjoy high school but of course, that’s not going to be possible. Then Caroline just wants to have a good prom. She puts on her game face, but of course, everything goes to shit. But at the end of the day, she ends up having the best prom of her life.”
The Vampire Diariesreturns April 18th at 8pm on the CW.
In 2009, there was Zombieland the movie. In 2013, after failed attempts to get a sequel, a network series, and an animated series going, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick took their script to Amazon Studios to go into development. The trailer is out now, and the pilot episode is supposed to be available online starting April 19th.
I have to say, I am less than impressed with the trailer. It feels like they are taking all the best parts of the feature, then rehashing it into a less funny version. The cast was obviously chosen to replace characters originally played by Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin. Recasting roles with different actors is always a dangerous thing, and with a property like Zombieland, it seems like it would have been very simple and seamless to simply create new characters. The production values appear to be on the level of videos created for College Humor and similar mid-to-low-end web video companies.
I know that Amazon Studios is more collaborative with their development process than other studios, but if they want to play with the big boys of digital distribution, like Netflix, they are really going to have to step up their game.
Scream is the seminal '90s horror film, reviving the slasher genre with intelligence and (intentional) humor. If you've never seen it in the theaters - or just dying to see it again - Horror Movie a Day is hosting a screening of the flick in 35mm.
The screening will take place at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 20th at 11:59pm. Tickets are only $8 (available at the door or in advance) and there will be lots of giveaways before the screening.