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    vampire diariesThe Vampire Diaries Episode 423
    Written By: Caroline Dries & Julie Plec
    Directed By: Chris Grismer
    Original Airdate: 16 May 2013

    In This Episode...

    Bonnie needs to wait for tonight’s full moon before she can put the veil back up, so for now, everyone is spending time with their supernaturals. Elena is enjoying burgers in the cemetery with Alaric and Jeremy. Stefan is getting drunk with Lexi. Grams is helping Bonnie cope with being dead. But not everyone is having a good time. Vaughn shows up and shoots Damon in the shoulder. Connor threatens to kill everyone in town if Elena doesn’t hand over the cure. Alexander has Matt terrified on a pressure-sensitive bomb. And Kol is rallying the resurrected troops of massacred witches and hybrids. All the while, Caroline is still being Caroline, making sure that graduation goes off without a hitch. 

    Let’s get some of the non-stories out of the way first. Connor is at the Grill when he calls Elena. Alaric goes there, discovers he is strapped with explosives, and hurls him out of the building where it explodes harmlessly. We do not see Connor again. Kol has planted his minions throughout the graduation ceremony and threatens Bonnie that he will unleash them should she not take the veil down for good. She takes him to the boiler room and shows him her corpse, promising that she wants the same thing - she’s not ready to die. Kol is pleased, but it is a trap. He remains stuck there until the veil goes back up. Rebekah decides to “live dangerously” and give Matt a big kiss. In doing so, she shifts him from the bomb mat and takes his place. He runs, and she blows up everything.

    So Vaughn has shot Damon in the shoulder. Not a big deal, except the bullet (unbeknownst to Vaughn) was laced with werewolf venom. Elena suggests he take the cure. Sure, he will be human, but the werewolf venom won’t have any effect on him. (Though, I wonder, would it then turn him into a werewolf...?) Damon refuses, and instead takes Vaughn and the cure out to the falls where he “buried” Silas. Vaughn thinks it is a trick (it is) but when he realizes his bullets are werewolf-tinged, he shoots Damon several times more. As he threatens with a final, fatal bullet, Alaric shows up, snaps Vaughn’s neck, and tosses him over the cliff. He saved the cure, but Damon still will not take it.

    Luckily, Caroline was able to get through to Klaus, who cures Damon. That night, he admits he came to town because he got her graduation announcement. His gift to her is Tyler’s freedom. He can return to Mystic Falls and won’t be killed. In what is perhaps the sweetest, not-cheesy line in The Vampire Diaries, Klaus says of Tyler, “He is your first love. I intend to be your last - however long that takes.” Damn, that is hard to resist. In other sappy storylines, Elena thanks Stefan for never giving up on her. He gives her the cure - it was all for her. Elena refuses it, doesn’t believe she is worthy of it. Stefan insists, leaving the option to her. Next Elena has to talk to Damon. She is mad that he would refuse the cure out of some stupid pride. He isn’t sorry - he would rather die than spend even one day as a human. He follows that up with some nonsense about how it would kill him to age and watch Elena remain Elena. The sire bond has been broken, but Elena is still hopelessly, madly in love with him. They kiss deeply. Stefan hears this, and is heartbroken. He would have gone running back to her in a minute if she would have had him. But he can’t hate Damon for “winning.” It is time for Stefan to leave Mystic Falls.

    Okay, back to the good stuff. Jeremy wants to be with Bonnie when she puts up the veil. He wants his last minutes to be with her, because he doesn’t know how to say goodbye to Elena. He left her a note. So the veil goes up, but Jeremy doesn’t disappear - he gasps. Bonnie explains that she found a spell to bring him back to life, but she wouldn’t know if it would work until the veil went back up. Well it worked. Jeremy’s excitement is short-lived when he tries to embrace Bonnie - and can’t feel her. She promises that she will be okay, and since he can see ghosts they can still talk. She begs Jeremy not to tell anyone she is dead - tell them she is spending the summer with her mom. For the first time, she feels like her friends are safe and happy and wants them to enjoy it, at least for a little bit. Then Bonnie heads into the shadows with Grams.

    But we’re not done yet. There is still the little matter of Katherine to attend to. Katherine is pissed off when Bonnie doesn’t have a hardcore immortality spell for her. In a paranoid rant of sorts, Katherine believes that her “shadow self” has all the luck, leaving none for her. So she attacks Elena. The girls battle fiercely, and I actually, for a moment, think that Katherine might kill Elena. But at the last second, Elena forces the cure vial into Katherine’s mouth - then slams her jaw to force her to bite it open. “Have a nice human life, Katherine.” On the plus side, now Klaus can create his hybrid army.

    Frankly, I think that was a better place to end it, but we still have one more story to wrap up. Stefan, on his way out of town, is taking stone Silas to the quarry to be dumped. But the sack containing him is just broken concrete. “Elena” shows up - really Silas in Elena skin - and says that when the witch died, she took the spell with her. Stefan is confused - “Bonnie’s not dead” - but Silas doesn’t care. He created an immortality spell, so nature had to create a version of Silas that could die. He finally, finally, finally shows his “true” face - he is Stefan’s doppelganger. Silas locks Stefan in a man-sized safe and throws him in the water to face a similar fate that he was subjected to.

    Dig  It or Bury It?

    The Silas storyline was really unsatisfying. I never found him - or the specter of him - to be a good villain. I preferred Shane. But this whole doppelganger thing is a little too much. Four seasons and we are already repeating storylines? I just fail to see the point of it. If Silas is a shapeshifter, he could have disposed of Stefan and taken his place anyway. 

    Otherwise, this was a really satisfying finale. It wasn’t “epic” like the commercials promised, but it really brought the season full-circle and tied everything up.

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    hannibalHannibal Episode 107
    Written By: Jennifer Schuur & Bryan Fuller
    Directed By: Tim Hunter
    Original Airdate: 16 May 2013

    In This Episode...

    This week’s victim is Douglas Wilson, a trombone player with the Baltimore Orchestra. He is found with his neck broken, dangling almost behind him, a cello neck shoved down his mouth, throat cut open. The killer was trying to play the victim’s vocal chords like a violin. We know that Tobias is the killer. He owns a cello and violin shop, where he makes his own strings from human guts.

    Franklin is on to Tobias. Or at least, he thinks he is. Franklin tells Hannibal that he has been concerned over some of the dark things Tobias has been saying, and checked off a multitude of psychopathy markers. Then Douglas shows up dead, and Franklin remembers that Tobias once said he wanted kill someone and play them like a violin. Hannibal pays Tobias a visit at his shop, and he ends up at Hannibal’s house for dinner. Hannibal asks him point-blank if he killed the trombonist. “Did you really have to ask?” Tobias is not concerned about the cops. He will clearly be a suspect but he will just kill anyone who shows up. He wants to kill Franklin too - he is looking forward to that. Tobias also knows about Hannibal’s secret, having followed him one night. He won’t tell anyone what he saw Hannibal do, but he was impressed with how he did it. Tobias initially wanted to kill Hannibal too, but once he saw they have the same hobby, he wanted to be his friend. Hannibal doesn’t want him as a friend; he too had plans to kill his dinner date. Will interrupts the tense dinner, and Tobias leaves before Will can see him. Hannibal violates his ethics and tells Will about what Franklin told him, about Tobias.

    Will follows up on the lead and heads to Tobias’ shop the next day, two cops in tow. Will thinks he hears something (more on this later) and goes outside to check. When he comes back, he finds the shop empty. He pulls out his gun and investigates. One of the cops is dead from a neck wound; the other has been strangled with cello chord and drowned in a chemical bath. Tobias tries to attack Will with a garrote. He tries lamely to shoot Tobias, but all he accomplishes is temporarily deafening himself and scaring Tobias away.

    Tobias goes straight to Hannibal’s office, interrupting his session with Franklin. He is specked with blood and announces he just killed two men. Franklin tries to talk Tobias down with all sorts of psychobabble, believing that if he turns himself in, Tobias can get rehabilitated and turn his life around. Hannibal snaps his neck, which angers Tobias - he was so looking forward to doing that. The men start to fight, with Tobias swinging around chords like nun-chucks. Hannibal manages to gain the upper hand when Tobias throws a punch, misses, and his arm goes between ladder rungs. Hannibal breaks his arm, then drops him to the ground, grabs an iron statue and bashes it over Tobias’ head. When the FBI comes in to survey the scene, Jack looks suspicious that Tobias would kill two cops then go straight to see Hannibal. The story Hannibal tells is that he came to kill Franklin, his patient, then attacked Hannibal. He merely defended himself.

    Also: Will has started to have auditory hallucinations. While at home, he thinks he hears a dog howling in trouble, but he can’t find one outside (and his dogs don’t bark in response). He calls Alana to come help him look, thinking he will find an injured dog, attacked by a coyote. They find nothing. That night, while working on his fly fishing stuff, he hears a clawing noise coming from the chimney. He ends up breaking into the wall to look for whatever is in there - but there is nothing. Alana had stopped by to check in on him on her way home from work. Will finds it strange that Alana has avoided being alone in a room with him since they met, but now she is making house calls. They kiss deeply, but Alana eventually pulls away. They aren’t good for each other, and she worries that, even though she isn’t his shrink, she would analyze him constantly. 

    Dig It or Bury It?

    I’m not sure where the whole Alana/Will thing came from. I feel like that was just thrown in. There was no lead-up. I think it was all in Will’s head. The first time, out in the field, may have been real, but I don’t believe that the second time, in his house, was real. Both interactions happened while he was in the midst of other hallucinations (which, by the way, was so obviously in his mind - otherwise all his pups would have been barking). 

    I feel like there is more to Tobias’ story. Clearly he has killed before, but why the escalation? Was it pure ego? Were his other murders unexceptional and therefore not linked to him?

    Also, Gillian Anderson is being highly underused. I think she is only in one more episode. I miss her already.

    Bon Appetit

    When Hannibal tells Tobias he had him over for dinner so he could kill him, he assures him: “I didn’t poison you. I wouldn’t do that to the food.”


    In addition to all his other problems, Will is now having blackouts and losing time. But sure enough... he knows who Hannibal is now.

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    Even though Patrick Bateman would never be caught dead (or caught killing ) in a T-shirt in public, this shirt may come in handy. It gives you an instructional graphic on how to dress like the anti-hero of American Psycho. The fine print includes different brands and products that you will need if you intend to dress like... well, like a psychopath.

    $20 at

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    There’s certainly a lot of hype—and whispered production woes—surrounding Paramount’s upcoming film adaptation of Max Brooks’ book World War Z.  Of course, with that hyped movie comes the obligatory tie-in game…except there may be some genuine hope for this film tie-in.

    Coming exclusively to iDevices and Android, World War Z looks to capture the insanity of its source material, complete with living tidal waves of zombies, on the small screen.  Powered by the Unreal Engine and developed by Phosphor Games (who also made the awesome horror-on-the-go title The Dark Meadow), the game has high hopes for the portable space.

    “Our goal was to build Paramount a AAA game,’ says Phosphor Games Studio Director Chip Sineni, “and with that came all our favorite bells and whistles, like ambient occlusion lighting, multipass blended textures, and hordes of enemies to fight.”  You gotta respect a man who gushes out nerdy tech terms before talking about the zombies.

    World War Z will be released May 30th for iOS and select Android devices.



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    Genre television is becoming a major presence in primetime TV. Shows like American Horror Story, Hannibal, True Blood and Grimm are dominating the air and doing big numbers for cable and network stations alike. Subsequently, there is a new trend of reviving series once thought to be dead. Netflix is resurrecting Arrested Development, Fox is bringing back 24, TBS rebooted Cougartown. FEARnet is even getting in on the game, bringing back Reaper with an all-new reunion special airing May 28th.

    We at FEARnet, being die-hard horror fans, have some ideas as to what we would like to see rebooted, revived, retooled, or resurrected for another turn in the spotlight. There are plenty of factors that play in to the viability of revamping or resurrecting a series. There are concerns of continuity, scheduling, the aging of the cast, and more. We are not proclaiming that a revival of each of these series is necessarily logical. But, there is no denying that it would be a great deal of fun to see some of our favorite genre-themed television shows that died too soon given a second chance.

    Twin Peaks

    David Lynch, you evil genius, you. You have brought genre fans so much delight throughout the course of your impressive career. Not the least of which was one of the most original, exciting, and bizarre shows ever to hit television. The series was unjustly cancelled after a two-season run. The Gulf War is attributed to playing a part in the show’s cancellation. As a result of the war, the show was taken out of its regular timeslot and frequently superseded by coverage of the war. Given that TiVo had not yet been invented and the second season was already a challenge to follow, the series’ fate was sealed. The film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me provided some of the answers fans were looking for and a lot of fans loved it. But, die-hard fans of the show would love to see the series continue. Twin Peaks remains one of the most indisputably beloved cult classics grace the small screen. We would like to see a third season that explored some of the territory covered in the film, by offering a look at what Laura Palmer was like when she was alive and a more concise analysis of her twisted relationship with her father. A spin off would also be a welcome idea amongst fans of the series. Maybe a new mystery set in the town of Twin Peaks, featuring some of the same characters; for instance, Log Lady. Her log knows things.

    Friday the 13th:  The Series

    Friday the 13th enjoyed a three-season run between 1987 and 1990. The concept was unique enough. The title was misleading and an unfortunate choice, seeing as how the show has absolutely no relation to the successful film franchise of the same name. But Friday the 13th: The Series was a great deal of fun in spite of its attempt to piggyback off the success of the machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. Viewers enjoyed following the exploits of a trio of antique dealers tracking down cursed antiquities. A revival of the series may require recasting some of the characters or introducing new regulars, as Chris Wiggins is in his 80s. But, in a perfect world, a resurrection of Friday the 13th: The Series would see the members of the original cast solving problems of the supernatural variety as they did back in the day.

    On an interesting side note, John D. LeMay – who played Ryan on Friday the 13th: The Series was a lead in the Friday the 13thfilm Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

    Are You Afraid of the Dark?

    Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a first point of contact with the supernatural realm for a lot of horror fans that grew up watching it. The show was popular with the same generation that was raised on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Both the youth oriented book series and the tween friendly television show found an enthusiastic audience because neither held back the goods. I grew up an enthusiastic fan of both because they scared the pants off me. There isn’t much for kids to turn to for legitimate scares, these days. A reboot of the franchise would undoubtedly be a hit. It would be a natural candidate for a reimaging, as the formula doesn’t really require any of the original cast to return. It was the constantly revolving door of actors who portrayed the spooky goings on inside the vignettes that really made the show a hit. The core cast ultimately just sat around a campfire and narrated the spooky tales. That’s not to devalue their contribution to the show, but it is to say that replacing them would not be a major detriment to the revival of the popular series. The show ran from 1991-1996 and was taken out of retirement for a short stint in 1999. But, we are of the opinion that the show is long overdue for a triumphant and long lasting return to television. 

    Todd and the Book of Pure Evil

    The Canadian television series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is one of the most truly bizarre series ever green lit for television. Where else on live action TV can you find a giant talking penis? The show was simulcast right here on FEARnet. Todd ran for two outstanding seasons, but was axed before its time. Therefore, the series is currently seeking crowd funding via Indiegogo to finish the story by way of a feature length animated adventure. While an animated conclusion to the show will be a great deal of fun, it would be even more exciting to see Todd and company come back with a live action continuation of the series that explored new plotlines, tied up all loose ends, and gave fans of the show the closure they are seeking.  It would be great if the series could generate enough episodes (typically 100) to make Todd eligible for syndication. 

    Tales from the Darkside

    Tales from the Darkside ran from 1983-1988, not a bad run, but the concept is far from stale. The anthology format has so much to offer and allows a series to go on indefinitely without drying up. Like other anthology programs, the introduction of new characters each week provides a formula for long-term success. Unlike serialized television, where we are subjected to the same characters going through the same motions each week, the anthology format allows the writers to explore new territory with each episode. Both the television series and the film remain extremely popular with legions of loyal fans that would undoubtedly welcome a continuation of the series.

    Masters of Horror

    Some would argue that Masters of Horror already received a reboot as Fear Itself, but we beg to differ. Masters of Horror aired on premium cable and therefore had the ability to show almost anything - although Takashi Miike’s Imprint was deemed too intense to air during the show’s original run. Fear Itself, though a very similar concept, was on NBC, which limited what the show’s contributors could get away with. The show was ultimately cancelled after airing only eight of the 13 episodes that were in the can - hardly a fair chance to build an audience. Masters of Horror needs to be revived by a premium channel where legendary names in horror can do what they do best: scare the pants off viewers.

    On a side note, Fear Itself can be purchased on Amazon for around $15. The set includes all 13 episodes, thereby allowing viewers to take in the episodes that never made it to air.

    Freddy's Nightmares

    Fred Krueger is such a kidder. His awesome show lasted for roughly two and a half seasons. Robert Englund donned his legendary razor blade glove to host, as well as appear in some of the episodes of , this anthology-based series. Unlike some other anthology series, Freddy’s Nightmares was the kind of show that lived or died by its host. The always charismatic, ultra likable, and perpetually jovial Fred Krueger is what made the show so special. That and the fact that the series wasn’t afraid to tackle many of life’s serious issues, like season one, episode 22, which broached the age-old story of two virginal teenagers lusting after a goth girl who's obsessed with Fred Krueger. As far as a revival, we really wouldn’t change anything. Englund would obviously be the crucial element to the success of the show. But, we have no complaints about the format and don’t really know why anyone would mess with near perfection.

    Did we hit all of the genre series you would like to see revived or did we miss something you are dying to see resurrected from the dead. Let us know in the comments below!

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    I am so excited for the new season of Dexter, but at the same time, dreading it - this is it. Showtime has released the full, official trailer for the eighth and final season of the show, and it got my pulse racing. Deb is spiraling out of control, and a neuropsychiatrist is hanging out around the department... and Dexter. Take a look for yourself:

    I can't help but wonder... will Deb be dead by the end of the season?

    Dexter returns to Showtime on June 30th.

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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!
    Doomsday1Doomsday.1 No. 1
    When comic book legend John Byrne first delved into dramatic comics he released a full-color comic called Doomsday +1. That was back in the seventies, and it was about a few survivors of a Cold War apocalypse surfing in a fantastical world. Now Byrne's released Doomsday.1 (pronounced Doomsday Point One) as a way to revisit his early story. But this time there's nothing fantastical or Cold War about the comic. This comic features a group of scientists who orbited earth as a giant solar flare burned the whole planet to a crisp! Now they return to Earth to see what's left.
    Bag it or board it up? If you're a fan of Byrne you're going to love this comic. It is, once again, classically in Byrne's style. It has that plain, open-handed illustration that Byrne is famous for. Everything looks so blatant, nothing is hidden from the reader. Even the devastation is done with grace and restraint, which is rare in this genre. Check it out!
    UsherEdgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher No. 1
    Another famous name in classic comics debuted a work this week. Richard Corben, a timeless name in indie comics, released the first issue of his adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher. The story combines a few of Poe's works, and this time features a crazed painter in his home, painting and painting his sister's portrait until it is perfect as a visitor to the house tries to make sense of the madness that's seeped in.
    Bag it or board it up? Wow. this is a masterfully crafted comic book. No creator draws characters the way Corben draws them. Those big heads and heavy hands and knuckles, the way he illustrates the body and anatomy, it's all unsettling and perfectly suited to a horror comic. This is an experience, not just a comic.
    PonyMy Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic No. 7
    The ponies are in trouble in pony-land (or whatever). Rarity, a cool bad-ass pony, has been possessed by an evil spirit. Now that spirit is waging a war against the ponies and using her army of ghostly monsters to fight for her. The ponies are beaten, entangled, and thrown in a dank dungeon where creepy little creatures crawl all around the floors! This is as horror as My Little Pony gets, and it's a fun one for the kids in your haunted house.
    Bag it or board it up? I'm gonna get in trouble for reviewing this one, but this is grade-A children's horror. This is Aesop's Fables or Brothers Grimm-style horror. Kids want to see their heroes in trouble sometimes. It's why we horror fans even exist, because as kids the Ninja Turtles got their asses handed to them, and because David the Gnome almost always got smushed! Even watching Looney Tunes, though chaotic, the series was filled with heroes getting hurt, captured, and tricked. This comic has that in spades, and that dark cover and heavy tones really lend a new, interesting filter to this children's comic!
    BRPDB.P.R.D. Hell On Earth No. 107
    All's gone to hell in the world of Hellboy. With Hellboy hanging out in hell the Bureau is now on the case, with Johann heading up a squad that's en route to Chicago. But monsters are popping up out of the ground, and while heading there via helicopter the group encounters a giant beast. The spore-like creature opens its maw and unleashes a nasty red gas that turns anyone who breaths it into a zombie-esque deformed freak. And the group's helicopter crashes. And they're days away from Chicago by foot. Awesome.
    Bag it or board it up? I love comics with this plot line. The "s**t, we're screwed" plot line of devastation and disaster movies still strikes a chord with me. My only complaint with Hell on Earth is that sometimes the issues feel short. But there's so much content coming out every week for this series that it's a) justifiable and b) not a huge deal, because we're constantly getting more, more, more. I really hope you're following along with the series. It's just so damned good.

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    When I started this feature, I never promised I'd focus entirely on the cream of the slasher crop, but I'd like to think every film I've discussed had some merit as pure entertainment for fans of the genre. Take my earlier pick Disconnected, for example: it's an incoherent, babbling mess (if it were a person, it would be that lady on the bus who wears seven sweaters and talks to her collection of doll heads), but it was a riot to watch, and never boring... and honestly, boredom is the only unforgivable cinematic sin in my book.
    The 1982 monstrosity Boardinghouse is not boring either... but damn, it's just wrong on so many levels. Made during the dawning days of home video, Boardinghouse has the dubious (and alleged) distinction of being the first shot-on-video horror film to be transferred to film for a legitimate theatrical release. In the digital era, even the lowest-budget horror titles can look totally cinematic if filmed with some degree of skill, but in 1982 a shot-on-video production usually involved equipment normally reserved for porn and local TV news... and believe me, there's little to no skill behind the camera to make up for that weakness. What Boardinghouse does have, however, is a shitload of pure, unfiltered crazy.
    The plot can be summed up pretty quick: an eccentric playboy with psychic and telekinetic abilities – played by the film's director, Peter Wintergate, who struts around in a Speedo for half the movie – rents out his mini-mansion exclusively to nubile single women. As we're informed in the cheesiest computer text prologue imaginable, the house was the site of multiple murders and is believed to be haunted by a malevolent spirit. That's the setup, and the rest of the film involves the entire cast being supernaturally splattered in enthusiastic ways, thanks to plenty of absurd makeup effects (the warthog-head woman who barfs up a mouse is one of the biggest WTF moments ever) and buckets of gore. There's even a musical number performed by the film's “Final Girl,” and it's even goofier than you could ever imagine.
    But wait, there's more! As we're told through a reverb-heavy narration in the film's introduction, we have the opportunity to hide our innocent eyes from these plentiful scenes of carnage, thanks to a William Castle-style gimmick called “HorrorVision”TM that flashes hilarious low-tech video effects onscreen prior to any potential “scares” that may be coming our way. This gag has been pulled a hundred times before, but cheap exploitation stunts never fail to amuse the hell out of me... and it makes for a pretty good drinking game, if you're so inclined (and of legal age; I need to state that for the record).
    I have no idea how Boardinghouse performed in theaters, but it actually played a few festivals and revivals, and it was quite a popular VHS rental back in the day via Paragon Video; folks who rented just about any of Paragon's titles would also be treated to a trailer spoiling nearly all of the film's goriest kills, but that probably just upped the curiosity factor for the adventurous horror seeker (like yours truly). Code Red released the film on DVD in 2008, and there's a funny interview with Wintergate and his wife/co-star Kalassu (the aforementioned Final Girl), who were just as surprised at the film's modest financial success as I was, and are even planning a sequel!
    Here's that infamous trailer... silly spoilers ahead:

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    Although the appearance and behavior of today's featured beast varies widely from region to region, it's known through centuries of folklore as the most feared monster of the Philippines. Mainly regarded as their version of the vampire legend, the "Aswang" has also been described in stories and artwork as a kind of werewolf or other shape-shifting creature – often created as the result of a curse – which walks as a human by day and transforms into an animal at nightfall.
    Among the stories passed down over the generations, the most distinctive aspect of the Aswang is its hunger for small children (it's often the subject of fairy tales used to scare kids into staying away from the jungle at night). Even creepier, the Aswang's appetite extends to unborn babies as well; it's been said that a flying version of the beast called a “Tiktik” or “Wuk-Wuk” has the ability to suck the fetus right out of a woman's womb... and this is where it gets really disgusting: some descriptions refer to a weird appendage, much like an insect proboscis, which the Aswang uses to extract the child.
    The Aswang is also the subject of some bizarre but entertaining horror films, shows and games: most noteworthy is a creepy and gory US film known alternately as Aswang and The Unearthing, which actually screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 and later developed a cult following (it was finally released on DVD in 2003 by Mondo Macabro), and the Aswang made an appearance in a recent episode of Lost Girl. The latest version is the big-budget Filipino action/horror production Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (the source of the images shown in this article). Check out the epic trailer for that one here!

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    Revered horror/exploitation auteur Jess Franco left us last month (you can read our tribute to him here), but his legacy is being preserved thanks to some excellent video releases of his many genre creations – the latest being new Blu-rays of three Franco classics via Kino Lorber and Redemption Films: The Awful Dr. Orlof, A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Nightmares Come at Night will be released in deluxe editions this August, all mastered from archive materials from Eurociné Paris.
    The deluxe edition of Franco's 1962 landmark The Awful Dr. Orlof is newly mastered in HD, taken from the original uncut French-language version. It will also feature  one of the last videotaped interviews with the director, a new commentary track by Tim Lucas (founder/editor of magazine Video Watchdog), as well as newly-filmed remembrances by Franco's friends and collaborators.
    The new disc of 1970's Nightmares Come at Night, starring the lovely Soledad Miranda, will also feature Tim Lucas's commentary, a video tribute, and a third mini-documentary to be announced.
    Rounding out the trio is the 1973 oddity A Virgin Among the Living Dead, available in Franco's original cut (titled Christina, Princess of Eroticism), and the more widely-available version (with zombie footage directed by French horror auteur Jean Rollin), as well as a deleted orgy scene shot for a third version of the film. Extras include "Mysterious Dreams," one of the last videotaped interviews with Franco and a third collection of tributes by the director's friends and collaborators.
    Redemption has more Franco Blu-rays in the works for 2014, so stay tuned!

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    walking dead monopolyIt seems they make a Monopoly game out of everything these days. And now, The Walking Dead has been turned into a Monopoly game. But in a post-apocalyptic world where real estate is plentiful and food is scarce, what could you possibly fight over? From the official description: "Players vie for, and must then fortify, the prime real estate and resources that will sustain their lives. There's only one victor that will outlast the others - whether living or undead - when all is said and done."

    The game won't be available until August, but you can pre-order it for $39.99 from Entertainment Earth.

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    In this behind-the-scenes featurette, the cast of Dexter (Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Aimee Garcia, and C.S. Lee) ruminate on what Dexter's fate might be as the Showtime series enters its final season. There is a lot of new footage in this featurette, with some interesting scenes, including a happy resolution to that scene where Dexter "loses" Harrison (it's a quick shot, something that whoever assembled this featurette probably shouldn't have used).

    Dexter returns to Showtime for its eighth and final season on June 30th.

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    europa reportThe brand-new sci-fi thriller Europa Report is about a half-dozen astronauts who are on their way to the moon of Jupiter, but something tragic happens and...
    Wait, wait. Come back. Yes, I know this plot sounds almost painfully familiar. We've all seen "outer space expedition" movies, be they the earnest cinematic space missions of the 1950s or modern movies as disparate as Mission to Mars, Moon, Event Horizon or the highly underrated Steven Soderbergh rendition of Solaris from a few years back. On its simplest level, Europa Report is reminscent of many other sci-fi films. Once you get past that, however, you're in for one of the most sincere, suspenseful, and fascinating science fiction movies of the past few years.

    Again, the plot is simple stuff: a six-person crew is in the midst of a multi-year mission to visit Jupiter's moon, and just as things are starting to get easy, all hell breaks loose and one of the engineers is... let's say lost. With little choice but to continue their search for life under the ice of Europa, the five remaining crew members manage to reach their destination -- and that's when things get really dangerous. 

    But herein lies the important stuff: put aside that the plot is pretty familiar stuff, Europa Report still stands out as science fiction in its purest and most fascinating form: it pulls several ideas from the latest in science fact and then uses those facts as the starting point for some wonderfully realistic fiction. To start with: all of the characters are well-crafted, strongly realized, and (before you know it) entirely three-dimensional people. It's amazing how much that helps once the "perils" show up. If you want to break Europa Report down by genre, I'd say it's pure sci-fi mixed with a sly disaster movie that maintains a firm sense of creepy awe and calm horror once Act III gets rolling. 
    Also more than a little noteworthy is how director Sebastian Cordero has elevated the "found footage" game. Yes, Europa Report is presented in a faux-documentary fashion, which means you're getting the story from A) a few interview segments not unlike what you'd see on a Science Channel special, and B) a lot of "raw" footage that was shot by the spacecraft's large array of digital cameras. And since I know these reviews are being read by hardcore horror fans, let's make one thing clear: Europa Report is nothing like Apollo 18. It's more like the "best case scenario" of what Apollo 18 could have been. 
    Taken a step further, Cordero and his visual team deserve huge credit for pushing "faux doco" storytelling a little further. If all you know of this filmmaking technique is that it's generally herky-jerky and ugly and potentially nauseating, be prepared to change your perception of "found footage." Put simply: Europa Report is gorgeous to look at. The basic character scenes are crisp and clean and yes, a tad Kubrick-ish, but once Cordero points his cameras towards outer space or (even better) around the destination moon, the movie is quite simply beautiful.

    Backed by an excellent ensemble (genre fans will recognize folks like Dan Fogler, Embeth Davidtz, and Sharlto Copley, but really there's not a weak link in the entire chain), a very fine score by Bear McCreary that feels a bit intrusive at the outset but gradually becomes essential, and a true sense of "wonder" that is often lacking in even the coolest in sci-fi, Europa Report is an excellent little piece of speculative space cinema, one that knows full well how fascinating outer space is, and how heroic its explorers truly are.

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  • 05/20/13--13:00: Game Review: 'Guacamelee'
  • One of these days I’m going to rub the back of my neck, and I’ll finally feel that implant that the gaming industry has managed to sneak onto my body during one of the alcohol-induced benders of my youth.  At some point, in between the 11th and 12th shot of Wild Turkey, I was hauled into a van and chipped like a bear in Yellowstone Park so that my brainwaves can be scanned and a game that somehow manages to scratch every weird itch I have can be developed and released.  It first happened in the early 2000s with Bloodrayne, a title featuring a feisty redheaded vampire clad in black leather slaughtering the Third Reich, and now it’s happening again with Guacamelee, which combines Metroidvania-structured platforming with the dizzying delirium of lucha libre cinema.

    From its birth lucha libre struck a chord with Mexico, becoming a bizarre pop culture phenomenon that saw the biggest stars of the sport starring in countless films.  These luchadors were revered in their native country, and the heroic technicos (I’m not gonna get into the deeper aspects of it, otherwise we’ll be here a while) would find time to solve mysteries and fight the supernatural between exhibition matches.  El Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, and others would face off against zombies, Aztec mummies, vampires, and werewolves, usually in kicky 1960s outfits and always with their masks firmly laced to their heads.  It’s a fascinating slice of pop culture history, and that same sense of sportsman-vs-supernatural is present in Guacamelee.

    Guacamelee tells the story of Juan Aguacate, a wannabe luchador who earns his mask after he tussles with the undead Carlos Calaca and is left for dead.  Earning a blue mask and losing his shirt, Juan has to try and rescue El Presidente’s daughter (the woman he loves, naturally) from Calaca before he can complete a ritual to merge the world of the living with the world of the dead. 

    The plot is just as silly as it sounds, and developer Drinkbox Studios makes sure that they don’t lose sight of that absurdity at any point during the game.  The art style of the game is bold and colorful, with sprites seemingly cobbled together from scraps of paper (sticking with the 1960s aesthetic that the great lucha libre films sprung from) but animated with a buttery smoothness.  The Metroidvania DNA is clearly on display as well, with new areas of the map opening up as you get new special moves to help you smash your way through barriers or rebound off the walls of a narrow crevice.  Even the backgrounds are lively and irreverent, rife with more internet memes than the front page of Reddit and silly “Mexicanized” versions of pop culture icons. 

    Where the game differs from its sequential-platforming forebears is in its combat.  Juan is a luchador, and his combat skills reflect that.  There are no guns or ranged weapons, just a series of grapples, punches, and throws that you can combo together into seemingly endless chains, juggling one enemy into the air before you fling him unceremoniously into his skeletal cohort on the ground below.  The controls are tight, but at times the game can be unforgiving, sealing you in a room to fend off a horde of enemies.  That difficulty is increased by Juan’s ability to switch between living and dead worlds, as some enemies can only be harmed in one world, but still harm you in the other.

    The two-world concept is also present in many of the game’s puzzles, which often have you skipping between dimensions in midair to jump from platform to platform or bounce between walls.  These sequences can be truly hair-pulling at times, but the game mercifully forgives your mistakes.  Falling into the sinister energy pooling on the ground will simply teleport you back to the start of the room, no worse for the wear.

    Guacamelee is also part of Sony’s “Cross-Play” initiative, which means that purchasing the game on the PS3 will also net you a copy on your Playstation Vita, with saving to the cloud allowing you to go from home to portable and back again…which means that, once again, my PS Vita will make my trips to the bathroom more enjoyable.

    Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to try and get this tracking chip going again.  I want a JRPG starring the atomic turtle Gamera with a soundtrack by Depeche mode.  I hope this works…

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    Kealan Patrick Burke has written some dark, though-provoking tales in his time; the kind of work that startles you on the surface, then digs in deep to disturb you on a more primal level. But he’s not afraid to cut loose every now and then, to bypass the mind and go straight for the gut with something dirty and gritty and just plain fun. Something that allows you to check your brain at the door and just hang on for dear life.

    The Tent is that kind of ride.

    You want something stacked full of classic genre trappings? How about a bickering family in an unfamiliar, isolated spot in the woods (in the middle of a drenching thunderstorm, no less)? And how about they stumble upon something ancient and evil, something hiding in the woods, hungry and cunning and waiting for prey?

    Oh yeah – it’s all here. And it’s all good.

    Burke’s not looking to reinvent the wheel in this recently-released novella. What he is looking to do is to tell a good campfire story, one that’ll make you jump at loud noises and will ensure you’ll never look at that most innocuous, essential piece of camping gear the same way again. He sets you up with a small cast of solid characters – a couple you can root for, and a couple you can root for to die – throws on a bucketful of atmosphere, and turns out the lights.

    The prime thing The Tent has going for it is its creature, and I’m not about to give away that reveal. Suffice to say Burke has concocted a tasty mix of The Thing meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Twilight Zone, and he made sure to marinate it in a couple of gallons of blood before setting it free.

    Burke’s writing continues to mature, and that maturity is evident even in what some might call immature material. He’s getting better and better at disappearing into the story, allowing you to forget that you’re reading and enabling you to actually experience the story as it unfolds.

    The Tent wears its B-movie pedigree proudly for all to see – it’s fast-paced, gloriously gory and, at times, off-the-rails insane. It may not resonate with you with the same power that his novel Kin or his Timmy Quinn series does, but it’s likely to pop into your mind at the most inconvenient of times…say, when you’re setting up camp on a trip this summer, and night is just beginning to fall…

    The Tent by Kealan Patrick Burke

    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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    After a two-month closed beta period, EA and PopCap have finally launched Plants vs. Zombies Adventures on Facebook, bringing all the social trappings of Facebook games with it.

    The mechanics of the game are readily familiar to Plants vs. Zombies vets, but the linear defense patterns have been replaced with the isometric perspective that should be familiar to Farmville fans.  There are the usual time-based tropes and virtual currency on deck as well.  It’s decent fun, and its familiarity should bring in a substantial player base.

    However, as EA is quick to point out in its press release, this is not Plants vs. Zombies 2, which is still on track for a Summer 2013 release.

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    It's so simple, yet so effective. On the outside, a slightly esoteric green clutch handbag. On the inside, giant teeth and a gaping maw begging for food. I kind of want to get a little voice chip so that every time you open it up, it says, "Feed me, Seymour!"

    $85 on Etsy

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    Season four got off to a shaky start. Turning your main character from human to vampire is a dangerous proposition, as it forever changes the fabric of the series. Somehow, it is even more treacherous than killing off a character. And the season opened with more overwrought teenage emotions and high school drama than I am comfortable with. On top of that, there were a lot of different plot threads that seemed in danger of going nowhere: the crazy preacher and his “suicide cult,” the hybrid massacre, and no obvious link between the two; the Silas story; the Shane story; the hunter story; the cure; the evil Elena story... it got a little chaotic. But the finale really brought it all together.

    I love that The Vampire Diaries is never scared to kill off main characters. This season, there were two: Jeremy and Bonnie. I did not see Jeremy’s death coming, but his resurrection was no surprise. Bonnie’s death was far more surprising, and maybe because of how it was done. There was no big emotional scene - the emotion came from the quiet shock of Bonnie seeing her own body. I was very happy to see Alaric again, although I am a little unclear as to how he became a supernatural. Does dying with the Gilbert ring on and coming back to life make you supernatural by default?

    There is a lot to look forward to with season five. This might be the wrong thing to look forward to, but I want to see how long it will be before the gang realizes that Bonnie is dead. I hope that it just plays out all season. 

    Clearly, Jeremy’s new lease on life is going to be problematic. Is he going to decay like a zombie? That is basically what he is. Would turning into a vampire “cure” his zombism, or is he destined to die again?

    Will we get more clarity on the Silas situation? I am still a little unclear as to whether or not Stefan is actually his doppleganger, or if Silas is just borrowing another face. What exactly is Silas’ goal now? The ship has sailed on being with his love forever. What is a 2,000 year old vampire who has spent the last 1,980 years or so in a tomb going to do with himself? Work at Starbucks?

    I will miss Klaus and Rebekah from The Vampire Diaries, though there are promises of crossovers with The Originals. But Klaus was such a wonderful villain, both sadistic and sympathetic. I don't know that Silas has what it takes to be the new Klaus.

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    bates motelBates Motel Episode 110
    Written By: Carlton Cuse & Kerry Ehrin
    Directed By: Tucker Gates
    Original Airdate: 20 May 2013

    In This Episode...

    Norma goes straight to Romero to tell him about the threats Jake Abernathy made. He promises to “take care of it” but won’t elaborate on how. Norma can’t trust him on that and goes to Dylan, asking for a gun. He thinks that is a bad idea, but later takes pity on her and brings her a pistol. They go out to the woods and spend some quality mother-son bonding time as Dylan teaches her to shoot. He even, accidentally, calls her “Mom,” which pleases Norma and embarrasses Dylan.

    Romero retrieves a sack of cash from a garage, then meets with Keith’s sister, Maggie. She was the bookkeeper for Keith and Shelby’s little business, and had been visited by Abernathy - using the name Joe Fioretti. He beat her up before finally believing she didn’t have the money. Maggie admits that her brother had four other “businesses” operating up and down the coast. Romero promises nothing will happen to her if she keeps her mouth shut.

    It is time for the Winter Formal, and Emma doesn’t have a date. Norman offers to go with her. It is the worst invitation ever, and Emma says no. Norman insists he isn’t asking because he feels bad; he wants to go. Emma accepts. Norman goes to tell Miss Watson that he doesn’t want to submit his story to the lit magazine, and overhears her on her cell phone, having a heated, fearful argument with someone named Eric. She begs him to keep it a secret.

    Bradley comes over, a pleasant surprise to Norman - until she tells him she is there to see Dylan. Norman pastes a fake smile on his face as he excuses himself - just to the other room, where he can still hear everything that is going on. Dylan brings her a box of her father’s things from his office. Norman seethes with hurt and jealousy as he listens to their awkward, but not overtly flirty conversation. This puts him on edge as he gets ready for the dance. He loses his mind when he can’t find any black socks and screams at Norma for it. It felt like a very normal teenage tantrum - the first normal teenage thing Norman has done. Dylan loans Norman some socks, and asks Norman to go easy on their mom. Norman, in turn, tells Dylan that he should ask Bradley out - in that way that totally means, “I will kill you if you ask her out.”

    Norman and Norma sit together uneasily on the couch, watching the seconds tick by. Norman is waiting for Emma to pick him up for the dance; Norma is waiting for her clandestine meeting with Jake. She is scared and decides that someone finally know the truth about her... just in case. She has never told this to anyone, but there is no one she is closer to than Norman. “My brother used to make me have sex with him,” she blurts out. It started when she was around 13, and went on until he moved out. Mom was “already checked out of her body,” and dad was violently insane. She never told him because she knew he would kill her brother (seems like justice to me). One day, her brother was raping her when their dad came home from work early. Norma was terrified and she jumped up so quickly she knocked the hot iron off the nearby board. The whole story seemed to be leading up to Norma’s explanation of the scar on her thigh. Norman is understandably frozen with this new information. Emma arrives and Norma, all smiles, brings her in. It takes Norman a few moments to bring himself back to the here and now. He and Norma share a fierce, meaningful hug before they say their goodbyes.

    As midnight approaches, Norma heads out to the docks. She is surprised that the car that arrives is carrying Romero. A few moments later, Abernathy shows up, and Norma hides. From behind crates, she watches the entire encounter. Romero informs Abernathy that the “cute but nutty woman who runs the motel” is no longer involved, and that from now on, he must run all his business through him. Romero wants a 50% cut, which Abernathy takes exception to - Keith and Shelby together didn’t take that much. But Romero speaks with such conviction, Abernathy seems intrigued. Norma is scared, and has her gun - shakily - at the ready. At Romero’s request, Abernathy looks for a phone number in the duffel bag of money. He then shoots Abernathy into the ocean and tosses the duffel bag after him. Without turning around, Romero tells Norma to go home. “When I say trust me, trust me.”

    Norman is distracted by Bradley at the dance. Emma gets fed up with it, and is mad that Norman is too stupid to see what he has in front of him (good for her!) and leaves, telling him to find his own ride home. Bradley’s boyfriend takes Norman outside to tell him to leave her alone. Norman tries to protest, but Bradley had told him that Norman took advantage of her in her state of grief. The boyfriend drops Norman with a single punch to the face, pretty much marking the end of the evening for Norman.

    As he walks home in the rain, Miss Watson drives by and insists he get in. She sees his bloody face and insists on taking him to her place so she can clean him up before dropping him off at home. Things are uncomfortably intimate between the two, but nothing inappropriate happens. Miss Watson decides to change out of her cocktail dress before taking Norman home - but she doesn’t shut the door to the bedroom. Norman watches with a mixture of nervous lust and anxious guilt before Mother “shows up,” insisting that Miss Watson is trying to seduce him. “You know what you have to do.” 

    Norman runs home, as fast as he can. Norma almost hits him with the car as they arrive at home at the same time. She is finally feeling safe and happy and the two go inside.

    But of course, that is not where the story ends. We go back to Miss Watson’s house. Her throat has been slit and she is dead on her bedroom floor. Around her neck, she wears a letter B pendant, nestled in her bloody décolletage.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    Solid. A good, clean way to end the season. All the ends were tied up, and Norman has gone, for lack of a better term, “full Psycho.” When Norma appears in Norman’s brain at Miss Watson’s house, she is wearing a dress and hairdo that is almost identical to the one Mother’s corpse wears in Psycho.  It is interesting to see that we have gone “full Psycho” so soon into the series; of course, it doesn’t seem like it was a long walk for Norman to take.

    I am a little confused as to the significance of Miss Watson being “B.” Clearly, this is the B that Bradley’s dad was having an affair with. But with both of them dead, why does it need to be such an intense reveal? I assume that Jerry was not killed by Gil, but rather by Miss Watson’s mysterious Eric. He probably found out about the affair, set Jerry on fire, which spread to Gil’s business. Surely Eric will come looking for Miss Watson next season, then stick around to start trouble.

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    black rockYou wouldn’t have to hit many film festivals to become a fan of the filmmaking couple known as Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass. He, along with his brother Jay, brought us low-budget winners like The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and Cyrus, while she directed The Freebie not long ago and has graced many an indie project with her own lovely style of matter-of-fact femininity. (Plus she’s freaking hilarious on The League.)

    So now, after working mostly in the department of dry comedy, Ms. Aselton and her husband have taken a leap into stark thriller territory, and the result is a slightly familiar but otherwise relatively bad-ass tale of accidental murder, unhinged antagonists, and suspenseful struggles for survival. Black Rock is about three women (Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, and the director herself) who revisit an old island they loved as children -- only to stumble across three hunters who really shouldn’t be there. Truth be told, nobody should be spending time on the sparse and unpleasant Black Rock Island; that these unwelcome men are all toting guns just adds some tension, of course.

    Despite their better judgment, the ladies invite the guys to join their campfire, which leads to an occurrence both tragic and unexpected... which leads to even more violence, and that's when Black Rock becomes a tight-fisted little piece of survival horror. Some Deliverance here, a bit of The Most Dangerous Game there, etc.

    As mentioned earlier, it’s not the most unique of all thriller concepts, but that’s not a problem here because the six-person ensemble is aces across the board (the men are suitably creepy but still humans; the women are scared and vulnerable but still smart and resourceful), the 83-minute flick never gives you a moment to check your watch out of boredom, and the tone is refreshingly bereft of the unrealistic kind of “girl power” that plagues many a female-centric genre movie.

    Tonally reminiscent of Neil Marshall’s The Descent in some ways, bolstered by three very cool women and a narrative flow that knows when to slow down and when to kick it into high gear, Black Rock is clear evidence that Ms. Aselton and Mr. Duplass might be really proficient at improv-heavy, indie-style comedy material, but (as fans of Baghead may already realize) they also have a talent for the darker fare as well. As a horror fan, this realization pleases me to no end.

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