Great Article: Upcoming Horror

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Apologies for the disappearing act. I am back now and wanted to share this great article with everyone. In a world where horror films are pretty much predictable, it is refreshing to have something working outside of the box.

The Nest is a horror film about three kids who find something living in the tunnels beneath their house.

Shot in Lebanon

Enjoy!

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Vincent Price: True Class

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Just a few thoughts that I would like to share..

I watched a classic last night and realised that Vincent Price was phenomenal; it was the ’59 version of ‘House on Haunted Hill’. I think that films miss actors like this and as time goes on it is starting to become more visible.

The way that Price carries himself on screen is everything that you would expect from the time and more. It truly amazes me that his talents were not confined to one genre like many of the Hollywood stars today. In actual fact he was ever-present in television, on stage, and on radio too. Price showed that it is possible to be the star of many features; from horror to comedy, his distinct voice and personality on-screen seemed to set him aside from everyone else.

What impresses me the most about Vincent Price is that he was multi-talented and he didn’t rely on his incredible acting ability to get him through life. He was an avid art collector and consultant due to the degree he gained in art history, which lead him to write books and lecture on the subject. He even founded his own art museum in California.

A talented man, Price was open about his feelings towards racism and prejudice, he was, what seems, an all round great guy. He was also one of the first celebrities to advertise the dangers of HIV in marketing campaigns .

I’m going to be watching a lot more of Vincent Price’s films over the next month or so because I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of great pictures already. If you are interested in checking out some of his radio work then look for ‘The Price of Fear; it was a 22-episode show produced by the BBC.

Lastly, a couple of weeks back was the 22-year anniversary of his death. Let’s not forget that these actors put so much effort in to creating the system that we base our films on today.

Silent Night, Deadly Night: Review

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So it is already November and like me you are probably already fed up with the myriad of decorations and displays that seemingly erect themselves overnight. I mean, come on! Christmas is a long way off. Halloween was less than a week away and there were already Christmas drinks at Starbucks and a full on display of all things festive in John Lewis. As annoying as it all seems, there are three things that I absoluteley love abut this time of year. The food, and sudden influx of cranberry sauce in to every chain restaurant; the presents of course; and Christmas Horror.

I think it all started many years ago when I saw the Jack Frost film but i’m not going to recommend that you watch that, what the hell, go wild.  This Christmas we are getting treated to ‘Krampus’, a horror-comedy about what happens when children are bad. It’s based on German folklore and genuinely looks like it could be a lot of fun. Naturally, I was reading up on it, only to notice a film that held similarities.

That film was ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ and it follows a serious of events that occur when a family is butchered on their journey one Christmas. I will not lie to you, I wasn’t expecting much from the 1984 production but it ticked most of the boxes. I think it was refreshing to watch because it did not try to employ the same principles that hold back a lot of films in the genre.

The film focuses on our protagonist, Billy, who survives the families slaughter and becomes a resident at an orphanage. We watch him grow and witness deep character traits throughout the duration of the film, which does a great job of creating a sense of empathy; we actually start to sympathise towards the character.

Billy is a poor kid who has lost everything and has never really recovered from the horrors that he saw. Mother Superior, the head of the orphanage, is a great propellant when it comes to the filmmaker evoking the mentality of Billy. His fear of Santa stems from an opening scene when his grandfather tells him that naughty children will be punished; this is something that clearly stays with him.

The film moves along and Billy grows in to a young man. He seems to be liked by everyone and is portrayed as a hard working and sensitive person. The owner of the toy store that he works at dresses him up as Santa to cover for someone who is sick. At the edge of reason, Billy begins to drink and the night goes South.

I have already given a fair bit away but even so, this must be watched in order to appreciate the character that has been created. Often, horror films fail to flesh out the characters because they know that they will probably be killed off within the hour but this is a mistake that ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ does not seem to make.

The script is passable and I never really found myself asking questions like, “why the hell would he do that?!” It seems like a lot of thought went in to this film and it is conveyed on the screen throughout. Whether you want to watch a horror film for a bit of fun or are looking for something to watch as a serious scare, this film should be a suitable candidate.

I read after that there is a multitude of sequels and it goes up to at least part 5, which seems to star the same protagonist. There was also a 2012 remake which I may check out at some point.

All in all, this was a lot of fun to watch. The runtime came in at about 80 minutes, meaning that it was a bit on the short site, but the film did not suffer from it. It is a somewhat unconventional film but one that I do not regret watching.

Christmas horror to enjoy for all.

6/10

Did you Like Jumanji?

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One of the best parts of my childhood was Jumanji. I am not going to lie, that film is something close to magical. So how about a more adult version, where horror is the main propellant? That’s what Qaushiq Mukherjee and Nikon have brought to the table in their film, ‘Ludo’. Check out the synopsis below:

Four desperate teenagers. A night of sexy mayhem. The big city. Or so the plan goes, until a series of misadventures later, Babai, Pele, Ria and Payal end up in a locked shopping mall in the dead of the night. Alone at last… until an old couple appears out of nowhere with a piece of folded leather and a glass container with two dice made of bone. A game. Simple, but deadly. They call it Ludo. A game defiled by a young couple centuries ago. An unbreakable curse, a living board, eons of bloodbath spanning the subcontinent. A game that has reached this city. Not just monsters, but prisoners of fate. Immortal lovers existing under a curse that will not die. They live within the game. Blood must spill. Bone must shatter. Beware the rattle of the Ludo dice. – IMDB

So the film has just been released to mixed reviews and if it’s not for you then worry not. The same directors have been given a shot at bringing their vision to Hindi audiences with more of a reboot than a remake. Word has been received that the upcoming film, that Phantom are behind, will be more of a re-write than a remake; we can expect that any poor criticism will be reflected in the new version.

I am really looking forward to the re-release and will be giving the original another look in the near future. It’s a really great concept with the potential to match up to some of the bigger franchises within the genre.

Mike Reiss and His Secrets of The Simpsons: Review

  

  

I know, I know, this is a horror based blog but I just need to share my feelings on last nights show for the writer in me.

Mike Reiss is one of the 23 writers on The Simpsons and the creator of Queer Duck. He politely declined to acknowledge his co-creator credit for Teen Angel – We all love it really..

  
As with Silent Hill Live, I was sceptical about travelling in to an area with a less than average reputation, but upon arrival, I was taken back by the venue and this was a huge surprise. Not because of the stories I have heard, but because I used to live around the corner from this beautiful, church-run hall and never bothered to check it out. If you had told me that Crytal Palace had an International film festival last week I would have literally rolled on the floor with laughter. Some say that ignorance is bliss, but on this occasion, it is most certainly not.

The festival is run by the nicest people that you will ever meet and that is no exaggeration. There couldn’t be a friendlier bunch of people out there and the atmosphere inside was most definitely a contrast to outside the doors of the Stanley Hall. The venue, by the way, was the first building to have electricity in Croydon. 

  
I got there 45 minutes before showtime and took my seat in the front row; I was excited. Mike Reiss was already there and this is the part that I love the most; he hung around in the crowd talking to everyone and even let someone interview him for their website. Mike, ever smiling, is the personification of happiness. He was genuinely happy to be there and I wondered if a man who is responsible for some of the funniest gags on television would be anything the same in person. 

Mike answered that right away when he took to the stage. He started by telling us that a comedy writer and comedian are very different, and within seconds, contradicted himself. Firing away with a joke about how it was like phone sex and real sex; only to tell us that one was a long, drawn out, boring experience, that ended with a soulless feeling and the other cost him £20 for 4 minutes. The crowd were fully engaged and the rest of the show didn’t disappoint. 

  
Mike regaled us with past stories about his experiences, a journey in to the ideas behind his own show – Queer Duck, a scene from The Critic – the show that didn’t do to well, and a lengthy Q&A session.

Considering that I did not know what to expect, this show was phenomenal. A genuine guy with lots of stories and a whole lot of time for the people. Mike stayed afterwards and spoke to every single attendee who had formed in a queue. He signed things and took photos and answered any questions that anyone had. I couldn’t recommend one of his talks enough.

  
The session was a huge inspiration to me and Mike Reiss is one of the biggest reasons that I will continue to pursue a career as a screenwriter. A big thanks is due to him and the people that put together the festival which is still on for another week. 

10/10

Gunnar Hansen – R.I.P

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Without a shadow of doubt, the saddest news over the weekend was that of Gunnar Hansen’s passing at the age of 68. Mike Eisenstadt, Gunnar’s agent, confirmed the news and shared that Leatherface “is one of the most iconic evil figures in the history of cinema..”, a comment which is 100% fact.

Gunnar passed away at his home in Maine on Saturday after suffering with pancreatic cancer for some time. Despite his feeling that making “chainsaw” was no fun, he was still active in recent times and had a project in the works that he was both a writer and producer on. That film is called ‘Death House’ and is still scheduled for release according to Gunnar’s agent.

If you care to know more about Gunnar and want an insight in to what went on behind the scenes of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, check out his book; you can grab it a the link below.

Gunnar’s Book

I don’t know about you but I sure as hell will be watching Leatherface in all his glory later on tonight!

“I Own the Horror Genre..”. NO!

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We all know that sex and horror go together better than anything. Where there are scares, gratuitous nudity is not far behind and that is just kind of accepted in the world of horror. Fear plays on our psychological feelings and the same can be said about sex. I do not have a problem with the use of nudity in horror, so long as it is used in context and not just there for the sake of it. That being said, I do not understand the constant slew of films in the genre, intent on making sex an integral part of our viewing.

Take Jennifer’s Body, I have not seen it but from what I understand, sex is a key factor in the film. It used as a tool to move the narrative along; it is much the same in species. There is a point to why it is there. When it is not used in the correct context and has no bearing on the film, you end up with an end product that consistently receives bad reviews. What am I getting at? Let me explain..

Bipasha Basu, a 36 year old former model from Delhi.

Bipasha is known for her move in to horror, or should I say erotic horror. Often, she stars as a seductress or variant and the films generally suck, perhaps with the exception of Raaz, which to be honest, is more of a thriller. She is the personification of gratuitous sex in horror.

There is nothing notable or original about the films that she stars in but this genuinely wouldn’t be a problem for me. I mean worse has happened; Megan Fox starring as April in the Ninja Turtles Reboot is probably the most prominent to date for myself. What I do have a problem with is her latest claim and it actually offends me.

Bipasha recently let out that she owned the horror genre in an interview.

I mean, come on, starring in a string of awful horror films does not make you “own the horror genre”. In actual fact, it is people like Bipasha who are dragging the name of horror through the dirt. They participate in churning out feature after feature of half-assed quality. Ranking in the top ten of India’s most desirable women does not make you a master of horror. I’m sorry but NO!

This wild claim sent my mind in to meltdown, i’ll be honest. This fraud is not even in the same league as some of the other key players in horror. Maybe I own the horror genre because I planned a load of scripts that never took flight?

What would William Friedkin or Bob Clark say about this? What about Stephen ‘F***ing’ King! No, the list is endless. If I was to go in a reverse order of who owns the horror genre, Bipasha might only get beaten to the top spot by Disney. Wait, have you seen The Return To Oz? It’s pretty creepy. You lose Bipasha!

The reason for this interview was to promote a new Indian tv show that focuses on the genre, you guessed it, it stars Miss Basu.

My god, it better be the best damn horror television ever conceived; If that is the case then I apologise for all the above.

Writing Horror

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When it comes to writing horror for the screen it can be easy to get lost in, well.. everything. It is a far more complex process than one would give credit for and it always helps to have some tips.

This is a nice article that will stress how NOT to write your screenplay and it is worth taking on board what Lucy has to say if you intend to take this path. A lot of it is down to common sense really but if you are just starting out then there are some key pointers not to be missed.

Horror Screenwriting Tips – Link

Enjoy!

Lights Out: Review

  
Occasionally, I like to take a break from the twisted world of horror films but don’t worry, I do not travel far at all. I scour the Internet to see what has been introduced on the short film circuit instead. It amazes me that I am never short of great content; without further ado, Lights Out.
Lights Out – Short Film – Clip

So what did you think? I personally think that this is one of the best executed horror films that I have seen in a long time, and this is despite the reveal of our antagonist at the end. 

The film starts with the woman clearly settling down for the night and as she turns the light off, we are dropped in to that all too familiar place; you know, the one where we think that we see something in the darkness that has suddenly enveloped the room. The dark figure we see at the end of the corridor is the embodiment of what is supposed to scare us the most – the fear of the Unknown. 

The figure is there and it is real but that’s about as much as we know. Borrowing from the realist tradition, we are not given many clues as to what is going on; the narrative is not important, the characters are. 

As the woman flicks the light on and off, we expect that each time, the eerie shape will appear closer – this is not the case. What happens instead is both simple and genius in its execution – Nothing happens for the first few times. The figure remains where we first saw it as the corridor is repeatedly plunged in to darkness. This is a great build of suspense because it is unconventional in comparison to the traditional horror. When the figure eventually does appear, it is right in our faces. The over the shoulder shot makes us relate with the woman and it truly makes you jump. 

In such a short amount of time we learn so much information but mainly the purpose of the light. No vocal cue needed, just the image of the woman taping the light switch in place – clearly our antagonist resides in the darkness. Like so many horror films before it, the light is the safe zone and the dark spells trouble. Somehow though, Lights Out seems fresh in its approach. 

The suspense continues after the woman runs to her bed. Perhaps this is so prominent because of the relationship that the safety of bed has to many of our childhood memories? If you have ever tucked yourself in to the covers, afraid to leave a leg outside, you will know what I mean.

Eerie noises and the impending creaks from the hallway keep us on the edge of our seats as all of these sounds lead us towards the belief that this unknown thing is approaching. As soon as the light goes out in the corridor we are once again shocked. This thing is not just her imagination. It’s real.

The lighting is used again to display a flickering lamp and the woman is forced to conjure up all her courage to put her arm out of the safe zone that she has made within her bed. She firmly pushes the lamp back in and restores the light and foolishly we believe that she has vanquished the evil presence.

Wrong. We see a strange creature with a creepy and psychopathic grin staring right at her after she gains the confidence to come out from under the covers. Usually, this would be the point that I am disappointed, the reveal, but instead I’m unnerved. 

The fear that I had as a child, that fear of the dark, never really went away. We all lie to ourselves and try to believe that it’s in the past but we in reality, we fear the unknown. The dark is the Unknown. 

This film builds suspense like no other and it does it in a fraction of the time-frame that others do. David Sandberg and Lotta Losten tapped in the fear that we all try so hard to suppress and done it in only a couple of minutes, this truly amazes me and scares the Hell out of my inner child.

I welcome the though of a feature by these two.

Great!