Saturday, December 31, 2011
10. TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL
Although the entire cast and director Eli Craig were present at San Diego Comic Con this summer (Fangoria had interviews with them), and several friends and colleagues (whose opinions I trust) told me the film was amazing - for whatever reason I didn’t get around to seeing this film until last week – and I absolutely loved it. A comedic take on the hillbilly-horror genre, this small-budget Canadian/US co-production had left me both laughing uncontrollably and gagging at its attention to gory detail. The two lead characters Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are extremely likeable, and you won’t be disappointed with the ending. A perfect film to watch while curing your New Years Eve hangover!
9. YOU’RE NEXT
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (who also worked together on A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE in 2010) take the top prize for showcasing a woman as the ultimate hero in a horror film this year with YOU’RE NEXT. During a family gathering full of bickering and bitching to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) Davison, a family celebration goes desperately wrong when they are all attacked by figures in animal masks who are out for blood. An enjoyable, stand-up-and-cheer, bloody survival film, YOU’RE NEXT delivers as many laughs as it does bodies and Erin (Sharni Vinson) instantly wins our hearts with every for-survival murder she commits.
8. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
This is perhaps the most underrated horror film of the year, and the directorial debut of Jorge Michel Grau. When the father of a family in Mexico passes away, it’s up to the children and their widowed mother to take responsibility and maintain their way of life: preparing rituals, hunting, and eating. And by eating, I mean, eating people. This film requires a strong stomach (if you can handle the opening sequence then you’re golden), but it’s both a great satire on social dysfunction, and a psychological and metaphorical study of unrelenting poverty and the desperation of the lowest class.
7. DREAM HOME
When I was told that this film was about a woman committing a series of murders in an apartment building in order to drop the property value and afford to buy her own apartment with a view of the water, I laughed at how incredibly ridiculous that premise sounded. I decided to watch the film anyway, and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year. I also learned how inflated and insane the Chinese housing market is. The film’s star, Josie Ho, does an incredible and convincing job in the film – even though she’s killing her (relatively) sin-free would-be neighbors to serve her own purposes, you’ll find yourself cheering her on shortly after her first kill. Some of the most original and graphic kill and effects sequences of the year are in this film.
CHILLERAMA (directed by Adam Green, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, and Tim Sullivan) is the most fun I’ve had in the theater all year. I caught this one at Comic Con when the film was just barely finished, and even though there were some effects missing here and there, the crowd and I had a howling great time; CHILLERAMA is definitely more fun when watched with others. There is nothing I enjoy more than a theater full of horror and exploitation fans, and a screening of a new flick full of blood, gore, sex and vulgar humor. Packed with nostalgic references to older exploitation films, this new anthology omnibus is an all-in-one hilarious, disgusting, self-aware film that never takes itself too seriously. It's the perfect Friday date night flick. You can catch this on DVD and OnDemand now, and I believe the directors are going to tour it to drive-ins, if they haven’t already.
5. PARANORMAL ACTIVITIY 3
If you didn’t catch this one in theaters, some of it’s lackluster may be lost already. This film had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time and I jumped out of my seat about three times (something I never do). Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, PARANOMAL ACTIVITY 3 deloreans back in time to the 80s (yes, I just made a verb out of an 80s car brand) when sisters Katie and Kristi first encounter the invisible entity of evil in their home.
I really loved that this film went back in time instead of soaking the story in the modern world of cell phones, social media, and the internet. I didn’t read anything about this film before seeing it, so I was definitely expecting to see a slew of webcams all over the house. Instead, I was treated to old school cameras and one of the scariest films of the year. I enjoy the first and the second PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films (the first I saw in theaters, and the second I watched alone in my bedroom at night – terrifying), but I enjoyed the third film the most – by far.
4. THE WOMAN
THE WOMAN, directed by Lucky McKee and written by Jack Ketchum, is one of those films that you either love or hate, so it seems. I really loved it. Despite its controversial subject matter (domestic violence, the capturing and rape of a primitive woman, etc), THE WOMAN is well written, well directed, and Sean Bridgers (as Chris Cleek) and Pollyanna McIntosh (as the woman) give outstanding performances. The film is provocative, challenging, contemplative, and disturbing – everything we love about a more complex and psychological horror film. Not only that, the soundtrack was released on limited edition red vinyl. Good call. To view my WOMAN interviews:
3. THE INNKEEPERS
I waited to see THE INNKEEPERS all year and finally caught it at the AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL in October. Ti West’s newest film since HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (my favorite modern horror film) proves him yet again to be a hell of a horror director. Despite the fact that this film works with conventions that have been around since the beginning of horror time (a haunted house, ghostly activity, possible psychosis), West manages to make them effective, unique, and interesting. Sara Paxton also really surprises in this film; she plays a very sweet, curious, geeky, and likeable character (a far cry from her role in SHARK NIGHT 3D - although her performance is probably the best thing about that awful, awful film). THE INNKEEPERS eases you into the plot, burns you toward the climax, and never lets up on tension and suspense. This film will be in theaters in February. My interview with Ti West HERE.
2. KILL LIST
A friend and I walked out of KILL LIST completely silent and blown away. Neither of us were ready to comment on anything we had seen in the last two hours, and it’s taken me three months (I saw the film in September at TIFF) to actually sit down and be able to discuss and write about it. KILL LIST is director Ben Wheatley’s second film (he made DOWN TERRACE in 2009) and his first effort in the horror genre. A film about two contract killers out on their last assignment for the big money, KILL LIST sneaks up on you, lulls you into a false sense of security, and then completely shocks and messes with your mind with scenes of incredible violence, underground claustrophobia, and diabolical evil. KILL LIST is Takashi Miike meets THE WICKER MAN. You need to see it to believe what I'm saying.
My favorite of the year, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have created one of the most unique and passionate horror films of 2011, all on an incredibly low budget. In fact, the film is the most profitable film of the year, generating $97million.
At first, the plot of INSIDIOUS seems relatively simple, and quite familiar: a family moves into a new home and weird things start to happen. Books fly off the shelves, belongings go missing, voices are heard on the baby monitor, and doors open and close on their own. Josh and Renai’s son, Dalton, falls off of a ladder and bangs his head, later slipping into a coma; or so the doctors believe. After several months, Dalton does not wake up, and that’s when the ghosts start to appear around the house.
Until this day, I have always thought that the scariest films allow their audiences to come up with the worst-case scenario all on their own. Meaning, the less we see of the ghost, the scarier. However, in INSIDIOUS, we see ghosts-galore, and every single one of them is horrifying and diverse.
In my interview with Wan for FANGORIA issue # 302, I stated that among the “splat pack” of the previous decade, Wan and Whannell stand out the most, creating unique and visionary ideas in a world full of horror remakes. What is also great about this duo is that they are both very much in touch with their fans, and they love the genre wholeheartedly.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Troll Hunter, Amer, Lovely Molly
NON-HORROR FAVORITES: Drive, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Artist
Happy New Year!
2011 has quite possibly been the best year of my life. Quite possibly? I take that back. It has been the greatest year of my life, and I intend to make 2012 just as impactful. 2011 was the year I decided to finally follow my dreams and take charge of my own life. I went through a rough time in 2010 – a lot of tears, a lot of hard work that amounted to not much, and a lot of bad dates.
Last summer I started writing for Fangoria online, and gradually, I made my way into the magazine (my first issue was #299 with the Black Swan cover), writing my first feature on Grindhouse Releasing featuring an interview with Sage Stallone. From there, I did an interview with Lynn Lowry, and that is how I started writing my first book (which I completed in August, 2010), which is now sitting in the hands of a great editor at a publishing company in New York (will disclose more information later)! Writing a book was something I never thought I would do in a million years. Back in university, writing an essay twenty pages in length seemed like the ultimate hassle task, and I never dreamed I would one day write 200 pages and ship it off to publishers.
Last New Years Ever I was in Los Angeles for the first time as well, and I made some of the greatest new friends. I traveled all by myself (I’d always wanted to see the city, visit the movie studios, etc) and although it was a bit scary (especially since my luggage was lost on the way down), I was happy to have done it all on my own. I loved it so much that I went back in March, and then again in July. July was an amazing month as well, as I got to go to the San Diego Comic Con and I met my favorite director in the whole world. I also got his phone number. ;)
I met some of the greatest people this year, and I accomplished some great things – including Fright Bytes, a fun show that I love making with my younger brother, who loves horror just as much as I do. 2011 has been the greatest year, and most importantly, I thank YOU for visiting my website, buying issues of Fangoria, supporting Fright Bytes, and just generally being awesome. I really really appreciate your friendship and support, viewers!
Happy New Year to all of you –
Special Thank-Yous to:
Philip Carrer, Steve Mac, Chris Alexander, Rebekah McKendry, Justin Beahm, Sam Zimmerman, Michael Koopmans, Mike Edison, Reese Eveneshen, Elijah Drenner, Kyle Morris, Rich Rotter, Steve Preware
Sunday, December 25, 2011
... and sadly loses! However, some great new publicity shots were taken for Fright Bytes, so that's a plus!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Pick up the issue of Fangoria #310 for my feature article and interview with director Karen (DOLL PARTS, STAINED) Lam ! Also featured in this issue:
INTERVIEW: BARBARA CRAMPTON Stuart Gordon’s favorite actress has kept her head through crazy movies and a real-life illness.
PREVIEW: “THE DIVIDE” Trapped in Michael Biehn’s fallout shelter, formerly civilized folks go feral. Plus: the Biehn-directed “The Victim.”
PREVIEW: “KILL LIST” Don’t let the guns fool you; Ben Wheatley’s movie is hardcore horror—we just can’t tell you why.
INTERVIEW: CHRISTOPHER PENNOCK You could kill one of this actor’s “Dark Shadows” villains, and he’d just come back as another. Plus: More “Shadows” on the comics page.
PREVIEW: “THE WOMAN IN BLACK” Daniel Radcliffe leaves boyhood and magic behind for a mature supernatural saga. Plus: director James Watkins.
PREVIEW: “SLEEP TIGHT” The psychopathic menace hides in plain sight in the latest from “[REC]” co-creator Jaume Balagueró.
PREVIEW: “SOUTH TEXAS BLUES” An exclusive advance peek at Christopher P. Garetano’s “Chainsaw” origins comic.
INTERVIEW: NICOLAS CAGE From wannabe bloodsucker to avengers beyond the grave, he’s had a unique career in genre cinema.
INTERVIEWS: BARBIE WILDE & SIMON BAMFORD They had such sights to show you as two of the original screen Cenobites.
ON SET: “UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING” Kate Beckinsale returns for more vampire ass-kicking. Plus: looking back at the “Ginger Snaps” films.
PREVIEW: “THE GREY” Director Joe Carnahan and actor Dermot Mulroney on a film that will chill you and nearly froze them.
RETROSPECTIVE: “THE DEADLY SPAWN” On a microbudget, director Douglas McKeown and co. made memorable monsters.
PREVIEW: “DON’T GO IN THE WOODS” It’s the night the music died for young rockers in Vincent D’Onofrio’s directorial debut.
MINIFEATURE: KAREN LAM This up-and-coming auteur is a woman of many “Parts.”
FEATURE: “AMERICAN GHOST HUNTER” This time it was personal for a pair of professional paranormal pursuers.
Monday, December 12, 2011
As the Christmas holidays approach, some genre fans have mixed feelings; Christmas is about peace, love, and joy (amongst other non-horror themes), and Halloween is long over. Television stations are playing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer on repeat overdrive, but if you're lucky, you may be able to catch The Nightmare Before Christmas (it's as close to horror as you are going to get this time of the year). Sure, Christmas isn't really a time of thrills, chills, and scares - but this month's episode of FRIGHT BYTES is going to make you feel much better about the holidays!
FRIGHT BYTES hosts Lianne Spiderbaby (Fangoria contributor) and Steve Mac are reconciling Christmas cheer with a little Christmas horror! What should you buy the horror lover for Christmas this year? Lianne and Steve count down the top 10 gifts that will have genre lovers screaming at the top of their lungs with Christmas joy!
Also in this episode is an interivew with director TI WEST (The Innkeepers, The House Of The Devil). West's latest film, THE INNKEEPERS, holds the #1 spot on several "Top Horror Films of 2011" lists, so check out the interview with West about how he came up with the idea for the film, the ghost story theme, casting, and his kareoke skills.
In this episode, the exploitation film segment DIARY OF THE DEUCE returns, featuring the film MAD FOXES (perhaps one of the craziest exploitation films you'll ever see), and a few other surprises as well!
Tune into FRIGHT BYTES - The Christmas Special, and be sure to subscribe to the channel for future episodes and updates!
Monday, December 5, 2011
It's that time of the year again! The lovely Jennifer Cooper of Musings of a Morleysaurus is looking for submissions for her 2nd annual Jennifer's Bodies Women in Horror Month event! Jennifer is looking for a wide range of submissions, from all over the world. If you feel that your film/short hits the requirements, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Your feature film/short MUST be either directed, produced or written by a woman.
- will consider a feature/short that is not directed by a woman IF it is both written and produced by a woman and has a strong female lead performance.
- will require all submission to be posted out to Jennifer personally on a DVD disc. Email for details. Vimeo works as well - upload the film and send the password, etc.
- All submissions must obviously be horror.
- If you have campaign materials for your feature/short such as film stills, posters and trailers, etc, e-mail or mail them along with the film.
- There is no charge for submissions however if you would like to make a donation towards helping put the festival together, then that is most appreciated. All money made from the event will be donated to a women's charity or film project.
- All submissions are due by December 30th.
So submit now! Hurry!