Saturday, November 28, 2015

Candidate #3

(October 2014)

"Horror has come a long way since it first got its hooks into me. As a devout fan, I used to feel like an outsider, but these days, I meet fans everywhere I go.
“Horror is now more popular than it’s ever been.”
--Tal Zimerman

I could be wrong and memory is f*cking with me right now, but I think this is the very first actual doc that’s made its way to ¡Q horror! Candidacy (as opposed to the occasional faux doc that’s made the rundown).
Rob Lindsay and Nicolas Kleiman’s Why Horror? follows long-time horrorhead Tal Zimerman as he explores his life-long fascination with the genre, asking the titular question, “Why horror?” of art historians and literature experts and language professors and psychologists, as well as a host of familiar genre faces, from the old school vanguard (John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, George Romero) to current established names (Alexandre Aja, Simon Barrett, Eli Roth, Ben Wheatley).

For any audience member who happens to be a kindred spirit to Tal, the game-changing benchmarks of a lifelong horrorhead of a certain generation--such as the socio-political horror of Romero’s original zombie trilogy, giallo, the home video boom, the self-referential metahorror of Scream, J-Horror, found footage, and the digital revolution sparking the current wave of global horror--are all touched on in the great animated section “A Way Too Brief History of Horror Cinema” (with VO from one of our all-time favorite hobbits, Elijah Wood).
There’s even the acknowledgement that, yes, Virginia, there are actually female horror fans (who make horror films too!), with appearances by the Soska sisters and Karen Lam.

For the more critically-minded horrorheads out there, or, for those who, at the very least, are curious to dig at the possible roots of their fascination with the genre, Why Horror? is an excellent and highly recommended watch that smartly encapsulates just how deeply horror is entrenched in our humanity, and how it’s really a universal language that we all know.
The question is, just how fluent are we willing to be in it?

“I like ‘smarts.’ I just like intelligent views of the world. And I am deeply committed to finding ‘smarts’ where other people don’t think to look for it. And I think horror is the perfect place.”
--Dr. Susanne Kord
European Languages, Culture and Society
University College, London, England

(Why Horror? OS courtesy of

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Candidate #2

(January 2015)

Hallow be their name,
And blessed be their claim.
If you who trespass put down roots,
Then Hallow be your name.

A couple, their baby, and faithful family dog Iggy find themselves in the desolate wilds of the Irish woods, where they inadvertently run afoul of the Hallow, described by Garda Davey (Michael Smiley) as “… The good people. Fairies, banshees, baby stealers,” “… a conquered people, forever in hiding, driven from their sacred lands by man with iron and fire.”

The love and respect director/co-writer Corin Hardy has for the creature effects wizardry of FX icons Ray Harryhausen, Dick Smith, and Stan Winston is apparent from the practical manner in which Hardy brings the Hallow to the screen; dis da old school!
And if that’s not enough of a recommendation, there are also appearances from familiar genre faces like Smiley and Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton, yo!), as a scowly, broody, vaguely threatening local.

Parting Shot: Before Hardy brought us his impressive feature debut in The Hallow, he also directed a number of short films and a whole slew of music videos, including one for The Horrors’ “She is the New Thing,” and another for Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” which features what could very well be cutesy, music-friendly versions of the Hallow.
Incidentally, Hardy is currently attached to The Crow reboot, so I’m all sorts of excited to see what he can bring to that.

(The Hallow OS courtesy of

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Candidate #1

(July 2015)

"Do you know what would perk up this candy-ass display?
“Some motherf*ckin’ blood!”

With ten stories in its 97-minute running time, The October Society’s Tales of Halloween has a pretty darn good batting average for a horror anthology, in that--at least as far as I’m concerned--there really isn’t any segment in here that’s a particular stinker.
Naturally, you will like some stories more than others, but it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll come out of this thinking, “Sh!t, yeah, that was fun!”
And that’s what Tales of Halloween is, really.
From the “SNL sketch as directed by old school splatter Peter Jackson” insanity of Mike Mendez’s “Friday the 31st” to the stylized horror of Lucky McKee’s “Ding Dong” (with Pollyanna McIntosh!), from the blackly comedic commentary of the ultimately pointless debate between old school horror and the more modern black metal splatterpunk aesthetic in John Skipp and Andrew Kasch’s “This Means War” (with James Duval!) to the bizarro horror of Neil Marshall’s “Bad Seed” (with Pat Healy as “Forensic Bob”!), Tales of Halloween is some awesomely fun Halloween horror viewing.

“Are you kidding me?! My nuts were viciously assaulted by a monster, dude!”

Plus, there’s a whole bunch of familiar genre faces in here, including Greg Grunberg, Lin Shaye, Noah Segan, Sam Witwer, John Landis, Adam Green, and Joe Dante.
Alex Essoe (from ¡Q horror! 2015 title, Starry Eyes) and Drew Struzan (as “Rembrandt”) are in here, too, along with Adrienne Barbeau, who basically echoes her Stevie Wayne character from The Fog as the very loose bridging element of “The Radio DJ”.
Originating from an idea by Axelle Carolyn (who also happens to be Neil Marshall’s wife), Tales of Halloween is a mighty fine addition to the ranks of horror anthologies out there.
So be sure and stuff this one into your Halloween candy sack!

“Go bag me some of those horror freaks!”

Parting Shot: The film is dedicated to the memory of Ben Woolf, who recently appeared as Meep in American Horror Story: Freak Show.

(Tales of Halloween OS’ courtesy of &

Saturday, October 10, 2015

(March 2015)

"Welcome to Camp Blue Finch, where romance in the sun can turn deadly!”
--VO from Camp Bloodbath trailer

Taissa Farmiga is Max Cartwright, whose late mother Amanda (Malin Akerman) happened to play one of the luckless teens in the “granddaddy of all campsite slasher films,” Camp Bloodbath.
On the anniversary of her mother’s death, Max finds herself at a Camp Bloodbath double bill (the original and the “so much cooler than the original” sequel, Camp Bloodbath 2: Cruel Summer), where something strange happens, dumping Max and her friends--plus frenemy Vicki, played by a post-Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev--right into the film.
Mad, comedic horror mayhem ensues.

“I’m The Mean Girl in the ‘80’s horror movie, and we’re past the midpoint, so, you know… I’d say that I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls is one of those titles that, though firmly rooted in the horror genre, is, in the final analysis, not a horror film. Thus, this extra-¡Q horror! rundown shout-out.
Now, the above plot crunch should tip you off that this is a meta title, preoccupied with the rules and the conventions of the genre. It would, in fact, make for a very interesting comedic counterpoint to/double bill with The Cabin in the Woods. (It should be noted that what The Final Girls loses in outright horror, it makes up for in some potent emotion and heart.)

So, if you’re looking for some fun in your Halloween horror viewing, pack your bags for The Final Girls! (Which, BTW, is tagged by the trailer as “The Feel Good Horror Movie of the Year.”)
In the immortal words of The Party Girl, Tina, “Best summer ever!”

“They won’t be singing ‘Kumbaya.’ They’ll be screaming ‘Kum Ba No!’
“Pack your bags for Camp Bloodbath, where the only marshmallow that will roast… is your sanity!”
--VO from Camp Bloodbath trailer

(The Final Girls OS’ courtesy of,, &

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[13 of 13]

(June-August 2015)

This really shouldn't come as a surprise, not only for the obvious reason (this is one hellavuh show!), but also because--hopefully only for the foreseeable future, but sadly, perhaps for “good”--this looks like the last we’ll be seeing of it…

It’s an idiotic state of affairs that has us in a world where there are a gajillion procedurals (and their multitudinous spin-offs) and a bazillion more “procedurals with a twist” (ugh), and only one Hannibal, and no one sees fit to pick up where NBC has left off.

What more can I say that I haven’t already said in the past two ¡Q horror! rundowns where Hannibal sliced up a place for itself?
R.I.P. Hannibal. (At least for now…)

Parting Shot(s):

While the other shows I mentioned in last year’s Hannibal Candidate post did not seem at all interested in addressing the issues that plague them, Penny Dreadful made excellent strides away from a number of its past problems (though pacing still seems to be a bit of an issue).
Here’s hoping Season 3 continues its march towards greater heights of excellence…

Also, just in case anyone out there was thinking I wasn’t feeling any love for Bates Motel, on the contrary, it’s probably one of the more consistent shows I’m currently following.
The main reason why I’ve never mentioned it ‘round these parts before is that it’s always seemed to doggedly straddle that line between thriller and horror and never decidedly taken a step onto the horror side.
But, with Season 3 taking some of the most overt and definitive steps in its run towards all that we know and love about Psycho, I figured Bates Motel deserved some kind of ¡Q horror! shout-out. (Plus, as a Carlton Cuse show, it’s always been light years better than The Strain.)

And finally, if old school supernatural horror is your thing, you’d do well to check out the 3 episode The Enfield Haunting, based on the book This House Is Haunted, which chronicles the Enfield Poltergeist case (the same case which is, incidentally enough, also the basis for the upcoming The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist).

… And the Wrap-Up

So there we are.
Here’s to this year’s kicka$$ crop, and here’s to next year’s…

(Hannibal OS’ courtesy of; Penny Dreadful, Bates Motel, and The Enfield Haunting OS’ courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[12 of 13]

(May 2015)

"Why are we f*cking waiting in the greenhouse?
"This is f*ckin’ bullshit.”

Bullied loner Lincoln (Ronen Rubinstein) is sent to the Mind’s Eye Academy, a place to “reset,” where troubled youth can work through their issues, so as to “destroy the impulses” that brought them there in the first place.
But since this is a horror film and not some After School Special, it’s safe to say things do not go to plan.
The feature debut of director (and co-writer) Adam Egypt Mortimer, Some Kind of Hate is a brutal depiction of how petty and cruel the youth can be. While I’ll avoid getting into exactly what the film is about, I will say it plays like a wicked, vicious inversion of fellow ¡Q Horror2015 title Jamie Marks Is Dead (in which Rubinstein also, incidentally enough, appears).

As an aside, familiar genre face Noah Segan shows up here in a supporting role, and doubles as an Executive Producer.

This one isn’t inclined to pull punches, so be warned…

Parting Shot: I also highly recommend Mortimer’s comic book, the whacked-out science fiction opus, Ballistic, with art by Darick Robertson.

(Some Kind of Hate OS courtesy of

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[11 of 13]

(November 2014)

"I loved how ballsy they were, issuing a trailer that said, ‘From the Master of Horror, Eli Roth.’”
--Eli Roth

Beginning its life cycle as one of those fake trailers that seem to be strewn all over YouTube, Jon Watts’ Clown is a nasty piece of work.
Helped along in its evolution into full-fledged feature by Eli Roth--who was billed as the film’s director in the initial fake trailer, and was suitably impressed, not just by the conceit, but by the makers’ cojones--Clown wastes no times before plunging into its simple but brutally effective premise: loving father turns into scary, evil supernatural creature thanks to a demonic clown costume.

There’s some solid cinematic storytelling here by Watts (in his feature debut), ably assisted by a cast that includes Awake’s Laura Allen and familiar genre face Peter Stormare.
It should also be noted that just beneath the onscreen horrors--right underneath the clown make-up, if you will--is the insidious and despicable real life horror of child predators, of the horrendous urges some individuals have, and their choice whether to struggle against them, or succumb.
So yeah, there’s some disturbing child endangerment (and fatalities) in this one, so be advised accordingly.

Parting Shot: I also highly recommend Watt’s follow-up film, Cop Car, in which Kevin Bacon plays a porn ‘stached Sheriff on the trail of two runaway boys who’ve made off with the wrong (and titular) cop car…

And, after that impressive one-two punch, next up on Watts’ director dance card: the Sony-Marvel Spider-Man reboot… (Only in today’s sadly franchise-driven Hollywood does a career trajectory going from Clown to Cop Car to Spider-Man make any kind of sense…)

(Italian Clown and Cop Car OS' courtesy of