Monte Yazzie's Best Horror of 2016

Favorite Horror Films of 2016

By: Monte Yazzie

 

Film is very subjective. What connects with one person may not resonate with another. That’s what makes ranking an entire year in film so difficult, what I like can be vastly different from what someone else likes. I find this especially difficult when it comes to horror films. Some are looking for the next big scare, some want the next great monster, some want humor, some want gore; it’s a diverse mix of specific elements that will categorize your favorite horror film.

 

Films like “Lights Out” and “The Witch” found much success but are completely different and were received differently from genre fans. I recall two discussions, one about “The Witch” not being a horror film and another about “Lights Out” being the scariest film of all time, which intrigued me in the best way possible. These discussions display how personal film can be to the viewer. Needless to say there was a little something for every genre taste in 2016, a particular banner year for the horror film.

 

10. Don’t Breathe

The concerns of the dreaded sophomore slump didn’t seem to bother director Fede Alvarez who could have done anything he wanted at this point, instead he chose to stay within the genre and write an original screenplay. “Don’t Breathe” is an unexpected combination of a bunch of different genre inspirations, a film that is as familiar as it is unique. Taking the unsuspecting nature of a blind man who turns the tables on a group of thieves allows Mr. Alvarez to play with genre characteristics. Moments of terror and tension are peaked effectively through subtle combinations of sound design and camera movements. The film makes an interesting change in direction, which adds additional layers of dread to the structure. Mr. Alvarez is proving one of the best up-and-coming directors of the genre.

 

9. Evolution

The images in Lucille Hadžihalilović’s film “Evolution” display a world without much feeling, though the emotions levied on the viewer are displayed with bold, insistent strokes. It’s within these images that the horror of an island community filled with young boys being prepared, not nurtured, by women for a future unknown. The film is mostly quiet but the exquisite, bizarre imagery outlines a nightmare more than a cohesive story. It’s challenging filmmaking because of this structure but is also so much more effective; the images within “Evolution” speak horrific volumes, more than a story could possibly explain.

 

8. Train to Busan

The zombie subgenre of horror is tired but with a recurring show that still sits near the top of the ratings game on cable television, “The Walking Dead”, zombies have steadily become pop culture icons. It’s hard to surprise horror fans, so when the South Korean zombies-on-a-train horror film “Train to Busan” came across my viewing path I wasn’t expecting much. I was so wrong. Director Yeon Sang-ho fashioned a film with exceptional characters, a narrative with sharp melodramatic social commentary, and zombies that aren’t so much gory constructs as they are forces to motivate the characters into interesting situations and places. It’s the best zombie film in recent memory.

 

7. Autopsy of Jane Doe

Within the first 40-minutes of André Øvredal's film “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” you will be immersed in a horror film that does everything to near perfection; the scares are a mix of subtle and deliberate shocks, the characters are interesting and engaged in the mystery, and the visual viscera are very raw and in-your-face. These elements combine and become a chilling experience, one that delves into the dark depths of the process of death.

 

6. The Invitation

Karyn Kusama, the talented director behind 2009’s “Jennifer’s Body”, crafts a moody and meticulously executed film about a group of friends reuniting over dinner. “The Invitation” constructs a simple premise into something dark and sinister, a film that plays with preconceived assumptions familiar to horror fans, the struggle to separate oneself from their past, and that uncomfortable and awkward feeling of sitting around a table with people you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a film that relies on character to induce fear, that’s a special kind of fear because we have all met someone sitting at the table in this film. “The Invitation” displays Karyn Kusama’s undeniable talent as a filmmaker.

 

5. Demon

“Demon” doesn’t indulge in its horror conventions like most films would, the film instead deals with the effects of horrific events on people and how it changes and influences culture over time. The photography is beautifully bleak; the Polish countryside is ominous with a sense of darkness clouded by fog in the distance. The narrative combines both dark humor and not-so-subtle metaphors to evoke a portrait of Polish history and a correlation to real life horror. “Demon” is the kind of film that displays how a creative artist, the tragic final film for director Marcin Wrona, can transform genre into something that evokes different emotions while also having something powerful to proclaim.

 

4. The Eyes of My Mother

The horror in Nicolas Pesce’s “The Eyes of My Mother” is as grotesque as it beautiful. Shot in stark black and white photography, the film displays the gradual and deranged development of young girl named Francisca played delicately by actress Kika Magalhaes in one of the best performances in a horror film this year. The film has all the skillful qualities one would expect from an arthouse film, the design and photography are particularly amazing, while also existing firmly in the realms of a house of horror.  The film is a disturbing and compelling piece of genre filmmaking.

 

3. The Wailing

Meticulous in its method and steady in its execution, “The Wailing” is a horror film that manipulates expectations by pulling the viewer deeper into the abyss of the mystery but also the characters that are placed in such terrible settings. This combination of horror and character gives the film an unexpected emotional undertone that makes the scary moments all the more affecting.

 

2. Green Room

People have different definitions of horror; some may call “Green Room” a thriller though I like to think of it as survival horror. Just like zombies in “Dawn of the Dead” or vampires in “From Dusk till Dawn”, Jeremy Saulnier’s film creates monsters out of a community of white supremacists. It’s a film that understands the rules but decides to play by its own tune; a fast, aggressive, and stripped down horror tune that is a masterclass of tension.

 

1. The Witch

It’s been a long time since a horror film has affected me the way Robert Egger’s film “The Witch” has. A film that lives and breathes on manipulating the atmosphere that it operates in, building dread and creating an environment that saturates any glimmer of light with darkness. It’s hard to call it just frightening or menacing, it’s something more, something darker and more authentic than those terms can embody. It’s a nightmare that you can’t wake up from, one that lures you into the blackened world and then forces you to keep going when you want to turn back. “The Witch” is the best horror film this year.

 

 

Mentions

 

The Greasy Strangler

Bonkers, absolute hilarious, not for the faint of heart; it’s unlike any other film you’ll see in a long time.

 

Under the Shadow

This film has one of the best jump scares of the year; it’s also a poignant tale of how the terror of culture can collide with the terror of politics.

 

Love Witch

Director Anna Biller crafts a painstakingly detailed and seducing genre film; it is a visual and technical feast for the senses.

 

Hush

Simple yet effective; director Mike Flanagan is one of the strongest voices, not only in the genre, but also in filmmaking in general.

 

Quija: Origin of Evil

A prequel to a horror film can offer too many explanations, ruining whatever brought you back to the theater to continue the journey in the first place. However, it seldom does what “Quija: Origin of Evil” did, which was make the original film completely obsolete.

 

Holidays

More than half of the stories in this anthology are fantastic, that’s an achievement in itself.  “Father’s Day” and “St. Patrick’s Day” are wonderful standouts.

 

10 Cloverfield Lane

John Goodman gives one of the best performances in film this year. It’s a fantastic continuation of the “Cloverfield” mythos.

 

They Look Like People

This psychological thriller takes two characters and effectively mixes elements of paranoia, fear, and anxiety crafting a rather suspenseful little indie film.

 

Shin Godzilla

Leave it the Toho Company to bring Godzilla back to its purest form; a healthy dose of nostalgia that is updated with modern problems.

 

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Max Records and Christopher Lloyd provide great performances in this quiet character study that also has a very threatening mystery lingering under the surface.

 

The Shallows

Easily one of the best shark films in some time. 

Now Streaming - September 2016 by Matthew Robinson

 

Sweet Home (Netflix) - A consultant for housing decides to surprise her boyfriend for his birthday with a romantic evening in a semi-abandoned building. Admittedly the premise a bit silly but this fast-paced thriller has enough smart moments to recommend. Don’t Breathe is a great home invasion thriller in theaters now but this film doesn’t require you to leave your home.

 

 

Road Games (Netflix) - Set in rural France, this twisty backwoods horror film delivers on its basic premise. A hitchhiker rescues a young, beautiful girl from a creepy road rage situation and the two quickly begin traveling together. After hearing about a serial killer on the loose, they seek refuge with an elderly couple. Things get worse for them there. Not every twist works here but the chemistry and performances of the leads make it worth checking out.

 

 

The Midnight After (Netflix) - What if you were traveling in a mini-bus, on your way home and suddenly everyone seemed to disappear outside the bus? This is just the first 10 minutes of Fruit Chan’s crazy, wild film. Chan is best known for Dumplings and if you have seen that then you know how bonkers his films can get. The Midnight After is no different. This is an entertaining, WTF kind of film.

 

 

Dead Set (Netflix) - The British TV series has only five episodes but you will likely wish there were more. The zombie apocalypse breaks out while a season of Big Brother is being filmed. The shallow reality TV stars have to band together with the shallow producers of the show to survive the chaos the breaks in from outside. Violent, clever, gory and fun Dead Set has it all.

 

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatcher (Hulu) - The world is overdue for a remake of this classic story but it will have to beat the pants of this stellar remake from 1978. Philip Kaufman directs the great Donald Sutherland in this bigger version of the paranoid pod people tale. The film plays great today due to the political undertones and general lack of trust in government.

 

 

 

 

Killer Party (Amazon Prime) - Baby showers can be a nightmare social event, especially if a random outbreak makes people into homicidal maniacs. This film was part of the IHSFF a while back and years later it stands out. The ensemble cast and fierce pace are to credit for that, oh yeah and that clown. There's always a clown.

An Interview with "Don't Breath" director Fede Alvarez by Monte Yazzie

 

Fede Alvarez: Making His Own Path by Monte Yazzie

 

"It's always easier the second time around". This was advice that I was given by an experienced peer after I completely bombed my first interview with a filmmaker. And they were right, it was easier second time around because it couldn't have gone much worse than that first time out. I often think about this piece of advice when talking with filmmakers, especially when the discussion inevitable focuses on future projects.

 

Coming off a successful first film, many talented directors fall victim to the dreaded "sophomore slump". The second film in a director's catalog that builds so much hype, anticipation, and expectation that it's nearly impossible to find any sort of success.

 

Hype and expectation couldn't have been higher in 2013 when a relatively unknown director, with only a few short films under his belt, took the reins of the rebooted "Evil Dead" film. With Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert providing support, director Fede Alvarez crafted a stunning, gory, and terrifying film.

 

"Don't Breathe" is Mr. Alvarez's second feature film arriving in theaters August 26th. We had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Alvarez about his success, inspirations and influences, cinematic pairings, and guilty pleasures.

 

IHSFF:

Congrats on all the success Fede. EVIL DEAD is one of my favorite reboots to date and DON’T BREATHE is fantastic. It had to have been both exciting and terrifying helming the new EVIL DEAD with people like Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert so involved in the process. Sam and Rob are back for your second film. What did the screening room feel like this time around for DON’T BREATHE when you showed them the film for the first time?

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

So, Sam is there and basically I show him the movie and as soon as the movie is over, that's the moment when you’re a filmmaker and you just turn around and say "so?” And just waiting for the first, you know, real audience that have seen the film to express an opinion and the first thing he says is, "you have conquered the inevitable sophomore curse".

 

IHSFF:

I see some parallels to a film called WAIT UNTIL DARK with Audrey Hepburn. Where you familiar with this movie? What kind of influences shaped DON'T BREATHE?

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

It wasn't even an inspiration on any level because I didn't really know about the film, I've probably heard the title but I haven't seen the film and I had no clue what it was about until I think I was done with the script and we were about to make the movie. I called my mom and she asked what the movie was about and I explained to her what it was and she said "that's just like WAIT UNTIL DARK". And I was like "what is that?" and she said "it's this wonderful Audrey Hepburn movie that she was nominated for an Oscar for". So I thought I should check it out and I did and there are obviously similarities that come out of the natural premise of having motivation and a blind person.

 

IHSFF:

We always talk about originality in horror. And what you did with the EVIL DEAD film is so fresh and innovative while also paying tribute to the original but not is a way that makes the new version a carbon copy of the old. I feel in many ways the same about DON'T BREATHE. You can feel influences from different places but you also make it so original and different from the mainstream. Was this a story that you had in mind for some time?

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

Not for a while, we were basically promoting the EVIL DEAD Blu-ray coming out at Comicon and it wasn’t until that point that we realized people who really liked this EVIL DEAD. And we knew that it worked at the box office but a lot of people don’t follow or create a following after. You know sometimes movies are big and a lot of people watch them but maybe they don’t like it as much as they thought, they like it but they forget about it. We were at Comicon and I was talking to people and I found out that people actually loved EVIL DEAD and I was excited about that. And I felt like I needed to give those people another movie so that’s why I decided to kind of stay in the genre a little bit more and do something that wasn’t exactly straightforward a horror movie but was still something for what I felt was the audience for EVIL DEAD.

 

So on the drive from San Diego to Los Angeles I was with my cowriter just chatting and talking about what we were going do next, something that would be very suspenseful and we didn’t want to do something that was about the shock like EVIL DEAD was. Though this one gets pretty shocking at moments, we wanted something that was about the suspense and trying to make the most suspenseful film that you had ever seen, especially for the younger audience because they don’t make movies like this anymore. Usually movies have breaks and different scenes, even very scary horror movies have these moments in the middle to relax, to have some drama. But this one is different, a major set piece that once you start 50 minutes into the movie is hasn’t let go and won’t until it’s over. That aspect hasn’t been done in a while so we were excited about that and we always wanted to tell a story about robbers, we were fascinated by those characters and I thought it would be interesting to show the audience where they are and what they do, get them to decide who they like or not, and then put them against a worthy opponent.

 

We had to figure out a character that was bigger than life and could be very cinematic as well and that’s when we realized that he should be blind. After that the idea came together very quickly. The idea and how it clicks is the hard part, how you come up with that concept and once you have something....it’s very fertile and all the scenes and everything you see in the movie comes together. And when you put a bunch a robbers in a house trying to steal money from a blind man you create situations that become interesting to the story.

 

IHSFF:

You create a great opponent for the robbers. They underestimate him and you accomplish some great scenes with real subtlety on the part of the blind man. He’s a war veteran, he has unsuspecting abilities and this brings so much tension at times because the viewer is seeing these small yet important things develop over the course of the film. That’s something that isn’t often thought of in horror films these days. Everything is so big and loud.

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

Regarding the loud stuff, we weren't really looking for that. This movie has a few jump scares to keep you on the edge but, funny enough, most jump scares in movies are when the music hits and that's what scares you, the big slam of the music. Here, because we were trying to be really honest with the filmmaking, there is no music with the scares. It's the small things that scare you here, the sound of the dog hitting the window and the creak in the floor when the blind man comes out of the cellar right in front of her face, those are the things that I'm really proud of. We all know cheap scares and here we tried not to do that.

 

IHSFF:

Let's say you were going to program a double feature with DON'T BREATHE, what would be the film you program?

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

I would do something simple and show them PSYCHO. They would be good together because they have some similarities; the way we set up the story because we have a robber trying to get away with some money and bad things come their way because of that. The big twist in the middle that really takes the story in a different direction, PSYCHO does that as well. It was a big inspiration but they are completely different movies.

 

IHSFF:

Final question. We all have guilty pleasure movies or television shows. What’s your guilty pleasure movie or show?

 

FEDE ALVAREZ:

I guess when I think about guilty pleasure films I have to think about bad films, but there must be a reason why I enjoy them so much. THE WICKER MAN is a movie I always enjoy a lot, it’s a bizarre one. But now that I think about it there are some similarities, with the twist and how nothing is what you think it is, the story starts in a place and goes to some very bizarre destinations, and were talking about the original Christopher Lee one and not the Nicolas Cage remake. They’re really helpless, they’re going onto someone else’s land. The rules aren’t the rules of the world, they are the rules of the owner of that land. It’s one of those classics, it’s very hard to understand and I’m not really sure why it’s so good, but I loved it.

Now Streaming - August 2016

Stranger Things (Netflix) - Easily one of the breakout surprises of 2016, this eight episode series evokes equal parts Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. Winona Ryder makes a strong return as the mother of a boy who goes missing and his friends begin to search for him. The ensemble acting and soundtrack are highlights for this nostalgic blast.

 

 

Tetsuo The Bullet Man (Hulu) - This is the third film in the cult series from the 90’s out of Japan that helped define the cyberpunk genre. Nine Inch Nails did the theme song for this one and is worth checking out alone. This isn’t by any means the best of the series but the film is better than many give it credit for. The film is an assault on the senses.

 

 

 

Penny Dreadful (Netflix) - This Showtime series just hit Netflix and is a great dose of gothic horror. The show combines literary characters such as Frankenstein’s monster with Dorian Gray. Eva Green is fantastic as is the overall look and feel of the series. With two seasons now on Netflix, this show is a great binge watch.

 

 

The Invitation (Netflix) - Karyn Kusama’s dinner party thriller is a slow burn but rewards with one of the best endings in recent times. Imagine a LA dinner party in the hills with the Manson family and you begin to understand this twisted tale. The performances ground the film in reality and some heavy emotions making its final shot all the more powerful.

 

 

 

Holidays (Netflix) - Horror anthologies are usually a mixed bag and that is certainly true of Holidays. A few good ideas here make it worth checking out and the film zips along at a nice pace with eight tales of holidays not often featured in horror films. Seth Green stars in one of the shorts and Kevin Smith directs another. 

Now Streaming - July 2016

I wanted to draw attention to the rather impressive streaming site ShoutFactoryTV.com

 

The site has a huge collection of cult films and a nice smattering of horror and sci-fi. Plus they have a great collection of MST3K and Elvira episodes and a large Gamera collection, the turtle version of Godzilla. All of the films of streaming for free and a few even have commentary tracks as options. One of the coolest features is the VHS Vault where they allow you to stream the films in VHS quality, giving the films that fuzziness that fulfils a need for nostalgia. Below are just 5 titles of many worth checking out.

 

 

Manos Hands of Fate Mystery Science Theater 3000 - A classic episode of a film often found on lists of the worst films ever made. This is a good entry point for anyone who isn’t already a huge MST3K fan.

 

 

 

Body Bags (commentary available) - This made for TV movie is a hidden gem. Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis and the amazing John Carpenter directed three short films for this anthology of horror. The opening story about a serial killer is a blast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night of the Demons (commentary available) (VHS Vault available) - Three ways to watch this awesome, gory 80s horror film. Seriously overlooked, this film has partying, teenage hijinks and some really great practical effects. Plus it created a great villain and one that should be remembered more.

 

 

 

Q The Winged Serpent (commentary available) - Larry Cohen’s weird tale of ritualistic murder and a strange creature terrorizing New York. The movie is an odd grab bag of horror and fantasy but the commentary is pretty great. Cohen really dishes out how he made the film on a small budget.

 

 

 

 

A Boy and His Dog (commentary available) - A truly overlooked masterpiece of apocalyptic storytelling. Don Johnson has a telepathic dog and together they try to survive a barbaric world. When they find an underground society, they think they have been saved. But soon, an evil plan emerges and the two must escape.

Now Streaming - May 2016

Kristy - A murderous cult descend on a boarding school during Thanksgiving break. The film could use more backstory for the cult but the cat and mouse chase provides many thrills. Haley Bennet and Ashley Green are strong as the two dueling female counterparts.

 

 

 

Let Us Prey - A clever, darkly fun horror film about a stranger who arrives at a police station and starts creating chaos. The spiritual nature of the story adds heft to what might otherwise feel like a standard "man in a box" film. Game of Thrones fans will dig seeing Liam Cunningham in a badass role as the stranger.

 

 

 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars - A rare sci-fi film to grace the coveted Criterion Collection, this film features some stunning color photography. This film is truly one of a kind. Sure the acting style is dated and the effects a bit cheesy but I think it is easy to see why this film got such love and attention from the folks at Criterion.

 

 

The Hallow - A biologist moves to the small town of and begins to upset the local townsfolk. There is something out in the woods and he and his family soon learn that they should have listened to their warnings. This is a major surprise blending horror and fantasy seamlessly into something original and really effective. Horror fans will dig the care this film takes to do something unfamiliar.

 

 

Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow - This odd blend of noir, sci-fi and big budget effects just hit Netflix. When the film was released it was groundbreaking for its use of green screen for entire scenes. Now that practice has become routine but this film remains truly unique. If you have seen it before, this is probably due for a revisit even if the film isn’t fully successful.

Now Streaming - April 2016

 

Hush(Netflix) - Mike Flanagan is back after the underrated Oculus. This time a deaf mute woman is the victim of a home invasion by a masked murderer. Star and co-writer Kate Siegel steals the film with a great performance and several clever moments that turn the situation on its head.

 

 

 

World of Tomorrow(Netflix) - This Academy Award nominated short film by Don Hertzfeldt is stunning. It was easily one of the best films of 2015. It is 17 minutes and well-worth every minute spent. I would try to describe the plot but the joy here is coming to this sci-fi fable blind and watching each weird, wonderful turn it takes.

 

 

 

He Never Died (Netflix) - Henry Rollins gives an impressive performance as a quiet loner who maybe eats people. He has left society but gets drawn into a complicated plot involving the mob, his estranged daughter and a waitress. The film take several unexpected turns and apparently is being continued as a miniseries.

 

The Arrival (Hulu) - This Charlie Sheen starring sci-fi flick from the 90’s is way better than you think it is. Writer and director David Twohy would go on to bigger fame with Pitch Black and Riddick but this film is his first. Sheen plays a radio astronomer, whatever the hell that is, who discovers alien life and ends up in a conspiracy. Quickly paced and smart, this film is a forgotten gem.

Now Streaming - March 2016

"Matt Robinson from "Dark of the Matinee" is back with streaming recommendations for the month of March. Matt has some great recommendations here, including one of my personal favorites of recent memory (The Loved Ones) and including a classic that I think is a must watch for any film fan (I Married A Witch).

 

Come out in a few weeks and find your next favorite movie. The Phoenix Film Festival and International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival will have some fantastic films ready for your viewing pleasure. Come to IHSFF's opening night on April 8th and check out the phenomenally frightening foreign import "Under the Shadow" and stick around for the United States Premier of the Indonesian clown horror film "Badoet". Saturday night is just as great, check out the J.G. Ballard science fiction adaptation "High-Rise" starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Ben Wheatley. Follow this screening up with the controversial "The Greasy Strangler", a film that is bound to make any genre fan squirm uncomfortably in their seat. The fun continues throughout the week, check out PhoenixFilmFestival.com for schedule and ticket pricing. Hope to see you all there." 

 

March Streaming Picks by Matthew Robinson (Dark of the Matinee)

 

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Hulu Plus) - Prior to making one of last year’s best films, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon put his American Horror Story experience to good use in the interesting meta-remake of the 1976 film of the same name. The clever camerawork and creative references to the original make up for some of the more routine moments that continually stop this film from being a true original.

 

The Loved Ones (Paramount Vault on YouTube) - Paramount decided to release several films for free on YouTube and this Aussie horror treat is easily one of the best. Imagine if the weird girl in high school kidnapped the nice guy hunk. From there the film goes full bananas as it pits the young stud against a truly memorable female villain and her equally mental father. This is easily deserving of a place among the best horror films of the 2000’s.

 

Blood Glacier (Netflix) - This Austrian horror film isn’t shy about its reference points, The Thing most obviously. However, it manages to find its own fun vibe and take a familiar setup into new places. The creatures and gore are mostly well done which adds to the overall enjoyable pacing of this import. Be sure to avoid the English dubbing as it makes the film feel far more like a C-movie than the B-movie it wants to be.

 

I Married a Witch (Hulu) - Rene Clair directs this witty farce featuring a knockout performance by Veronica Lake. What’s even more impressive is how many of the film’s spectacular special effects hold up. The film follows man whose bloodline has been cursed by a witch to cause love to constantly fail. The film is part supernatural precursor to Bewitched and part romantic comedy.

 

Hellions (Netflix) - For horror fans, Pontypool generally stands as a high mark in the zombie genre. Bruce McDonald returned last year with this tale of a young pregnant teenager on Halloween night who is visited by demonic children. Much like Pontypool, Hellions subverts the audience’s expectations. You will often think you know where this film is headed and then it will veer off into stranger territory. While not as successful as Pontypool, McDonald is a horror director beating to the beat of his own drum and that makes anything he does worth checking out.

Now Streaming - February 2016

Two months into the year and we have seen a slew of horror films making their appearance in theaters, on streaming platforms, and video on-demand. Some good, some bad, but its always nice to have lots of genre offerings to pick and choose from. We have a few recommendations for February from Matthew Robinson, director of the Arizona Filmmaker Showcase and editor for DarkoftheMatinee.com. Check out these picks and let us know the films you are watching. Enjoy....  

Turbo Kid (Netflix) - 80’s pastiche in full neon glory, this is Mad Max, BMX bikes, and superhero powers all rolled into one. While the film often cribs from more memorable films, Turbo Kid has enthusiasm and spirit to spare. The film is clearly made with an infectious joy that triumphs over some of the film’s lesser special effects and acting.

 

 

 

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Netflix)- Scott Adkins should be the next big action star after Ninja 2 and this film. The sci-fi elements get played up big time here making this easily the most enjoyable entry in the franchise. John Hyams directs some stunning action sequences mixing elements of horror and sci-fi along the way. This is pure fun for those who don’t take things too seriously.

 

 

 

Summer of Blood (Netflix) - This is bound to be a divisive film. The main character is a scumbag of the highest order. Nevertheless the film is stubbornly committed to following a loser, asshole get to indulge in his worst sides once he becomes a vampire. The hipster premise is unique enough to recommend but fair warning this film could test your patience.

The Canal (Netflix) - A stunning psychological horror film about a man who’s wife is murdered the night he finds out she was having an affair. It seems like a cut and dry case but there is a supernatural element at play. The main character is a film archivist that allows the filmmakers to create some truly creepy moments along the lines of Sinister. Every time I thought this film would pull a cheap scare tactic it did something far more creative and scary than I expected.

 

When Animals Dream (Netflix) - A haunting, genuinely original take on the werewolf mythology. A young girl starts to realize who she truly is as the townspeople around grow increasingly paranoid and sinister. This unexpected horror film is a thoughtful statement about acceptance and bravery in the face of oppression. These aren't common themes for a werewolf film and the movie is a knockout for exploring these avenues.

Now Streaming - January 2016

Hello International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival friends. The festival is fast approaching, April 8th will be here sooner than we know it. Tickets for the festival will be available very soon at www.PhoenixFilmFestival.com.  

Gone are the days of waiting for VHS rentals at the video store or scouring all the media stores in the Valley for that last copy of “Evil Dead 2”. Everything is available at the simple point and push of the few buttons on your computer. With so many streaming platforms available it has made watching movies easy and accessible, and there are some really good films out there just waiting for all you eager genre fans to devour them. We watch lots of movies here at IHSFF so let us offer a few suggestions on some noteworthy films currently available out there in our new monthly streaming recommendations article, hopefully we can point you towards your next favorite horror or science fiction film or help you clear out that stuffed queue.

IHSFF Streaming Horror and Science Fiction Recommendations (January)

Presented by: Matthew Robinson (Founder of the Arizona Filmmaker Showcase and www.DarkoftheMatinee.com)

 

PodPoster
PodPoster

Pod (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus)

“Pod” is like the opening scene of an X-Files episode extended out to a full episode. When it wraps, you will fully expect Mulder and Scully to show up to figure out the mess left. Two friends check in on their unstable friend. They find him locked up in a cabin claiming he shot an alien hunting. He believes he is part of a government conspiracy, his friends don’t fully believe him. Then we realize there is something locked up in the cabin with them and from there things get crazy.

 

Wyrmwood (Netflix)

This is a super fun, fast paced zombie action film from down under. There is so many ideas executed with such energy that even if you are burned out on zombies, you will find plenty to like here. The three leads are great but Leon Birchill as Benny is a standout. The film packs thrills and laughs.

TheNightmarePoster
TheNightmarePoster

The Nightmare (Netflix)

“The Nightmare” is an unsettling documentary about people who experience sleep paralysis. The nightmares are acted on in very effective ways. This movie literally makes you not want to go to sleep. Hearing from each victim, patterns begin to form that shed light on this horrifying ailment.

 

 

 

Automata (Netflix)

An interesting companion film to “Ex Machina” (one of 2015’s best films), this film shines is in its world building and its visual style. Antonio Banderas plays an insurance investigator who gets caught up in the plight of an AI. Set in a desert landscape, the film isn’t perfect but consistently gorgeous to look at.

 

 

YoureNextPoster
YoureNextPoster

You’re Next (Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus)

“You're Next” is an uncluttered, uber-violent thrill ride that packs more fun into 90 minutes than most horror films can dream of. Home invasion thrillers like this tend to be such downers but “You're Next” is energetic, cathartic, and a hell of a good time. The film features a refreshing take on the helpless Final Girl trope as well.

Monte's Top Horror Flicks of 2015

Best Horror Films of 2015  by Monte Yazzie  

  1. What We Do In The Shadows

The horror subgenre of the vampire gets a genuinely funny and creatively innovative punch from the creative team behind “Flight of the Conchords”. Nearly every aspect and angle of the vampire mythology is given proper treatment and respect is shown to the horror community because the film rarely feels like it is mocking the genre. The film also utilizes the overdone documentary perspective cleverly to its advantage. Who would have thought that following a bunch of vampire roommates around would have been this entertaining?

 

  1. bone-tomahawkBone Tomahawk

If this film were a little more horror and a little less western, it would have taken the top spot this year. An absolutely impressive film from S. Craig Zahler, “Bone Tomahawk” is the western film I always wanted. It’s a mix of unusual humor with touches of thoroughly effective and satisfying horror and beautifully rendered western era compositions. Add some rather stunning performances from an impressive cast, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, and especially Richard Jenkins, and you have one of the most unique horror, western, drama mash-ups you’ll experience.

 

  1. Deathgasm

Director Jason Lei Howden made one of 2015’s most wild and fun horror films. If you grew up with a denim jacket that had heavy metal band patches all over it, this film is for you. If you grew up loving your horror films filled from top to bottom with blood and gore, this film is for you. “Deathgasm” tackles the teen comedy, mixes in raunchy humor, adds a little metal music culture, and delivers buckets of blood for your horror hearts delight. It’s a horror film worthy of repeat viewings.

 

  1. It Follows

With a simplistic premise and an unsuspecting and meticulously moving monster, “It Follows” utilizes atmosphere to create an eerie, chilling, and surprisingly thought provoking film that at the center could be described as a sexually transmitted haunting. However, horror is always an interesting genre to supplement examinations on other topics and “It Follows” displays this quality by offering more substance under the surface than most other genre films. “It Follows” is consistently calculated and frightening, a film that excels by utilizing genre characteristics in unique and unexpected ways.

 

  1. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A lonesome vampire, wearing a traditional chador and gliding along on a skateboard, stalks through the beautiful black and white photographed streets of a fictionalized Iranian town known simply as Bad City. Director Ana Lily Amirpour, on a shoestring budget, crafts an impressive genre film with influences from numerous sources. Whether the comic book story style, or the western and noir film homages, or the American and Iranian cultural influences that shapes many of the environments, “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” is an impressive blending of inspirations that assist in shaping an exceptional film.

 

  1. Spring

Depending on your relationship, or past relationships, the terms horror and romance may not be to far apart from describing one another. In “Spring” a normal young man meets an exceptional woman with a secret, a fairly terrifying secret. To call it a dark comedy would be appropriate, but it’s also a nice blend of science fiction and horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft with influences from romantic dramas that don’t hide the messy side of relationships. “Spring” is an odd though imaginative experience.

 

  1. The Final GirlsFinal Girls

It’s a comedy first and a horror film second. Never gory or particularly scary but consistently entertaining, “The Final Girls” takes playful aim at the slasher horror subgenre. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson brings in an excellent cast of recognizable faces and cleverly incorporates them into a meta-movie within a horror movie that unabashedly understands exactly what it is trying to do. “The Final Girls” could have gone wrong in many different ways, but instead it incorporates some great emotional aspects and never hides its fun and charming identity.

 

  1. Julia

Matthew A. Brown’s film “Julia” takes a unique approach to the rape-revenge genre, utilizing a changing emotional tone to support the visceral scenes of vengeance taken by the films lead Ashley C. Williams. Much of her performance is done without words but instead with haunting stares into her resolute eyes and subtle expressions that change along her awakening. The character driven focus and sharply composed narrative make it an emotional journey. “Julia” is more than just comeuppance; it’s also about how terrible trauma changes a person from the inside out.

 

  1. Last Shift

Left alone in a police precinct a rookie female officer becomes trapped in a supernatural situation. Director Anthony DiBlasi creates exceptional creepy atmosphere and some genuine scares. It feels very familiar at times but Mr. DiBlasi keeps the film moving at a nice pace, staying a step ahead of the trappings. The imagery utilized is effectively jarring and the technical design of the film is well accomplished. “Last Shift” is an unexpected horror surprise.

 

  1. When Animals Dream

The Danish film “When Animals Dream”, directed by Jonas Alexander Arnby”, is a moody and atmospheric horror film that handles a familiar genre monster with complex emotion and confident femininity. Arnby builds a film that moves with a deliberate pace, constructing a quiet tension that builds towards a boiling point of panic, frustration, and anger for the young lead character played by Sonia Suhl.

My Favorite Non-Romero Zombie Movies

"Hello IHSFF Fans. Our next guest is Mr. Jonathan James, he is the editor-in-chief of DailyDead.com. Daily Dead is a fantastic genre website that has been around since 2010. Daily Dead started out with a strong focus on zombie news and has quickly branched out to cover all manners of interesting genre subjects. Take a look at Mr. James' fascinating list of "Favorite Non- Romero Zombie Movies" and check out DailyDead.com immediately." - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director MAINHEADER

My Favorite Non-Romero Zombie Movies

by Jonathan James

On November 2nd, Daily Dead will celebrate its fifth anniversary. It's pretty insane to think about how much the site has grown from my original plan of sharing horror news, with a strong focus on zombies, and hoping a visitor or two might stop by.

Like most people, I had no idea how big The Walking Dead would become and that my friends, neighbors, and even grandparents would now be watching zombies on a weekly basis. Some may think that zombies going mainstream isn't a good thing, but I'll argue against that endlessly. We now have legions of new horror fans who have been exposed to the living dead as well as incredible amounts of gore, and I see this as a great opportunity to introduce decades of must-see horror movies to them.

I run into quite a few people at conventions who love The Walking Dead, but don't know what zombie movies to start watching. It may come as a surprise to older horror fans, but I regularly hear from people who don't know who George A. Romero is, so my hope is that this will serve as a good starting point for those looking to get into zombie movies.

I could dedicate an entire book to George A. Romero's movies, so I'll keep this part short and say that we wouldn't have the modern zombie without him. His flesh-eating "ghouls" and the spreading of infection by bite or death is the reason we have The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, and so many other zombie movies and games.

George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead are absolutely required viewing for those interested in learning about the birth of the modern zombie. After you've checked those out, I've put together a list of my favorite non-Romero zombie movies that are worth your time.

Before we get started, it's worth noting that some people can be very strict about what qualifies as a "zombie" movie. While some believe it should strictly follow the Romero rules, I have a more loose interpretation of what classifies as a zombie movie, and I think part of the fun is that different filmmakers can play around and re-invent the "zombie" just as Romero unknowingly did in 1968.

ZombieZombie (1978) - In Italy this was titled Zombi 2 and was an unofficial / official sequel to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Director Lucio Fulci is known as a "Godfather of Gore" and I'll just say that he has an even bigger "eye" for gore than Romero. If that's not enough to get you excited, this is the only movie in which you'll see a zombie fight a shark...

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) - Zombies weren't always associated with eating brains, yet it's now Returncommon knowledge to the general public. How did this notion become popular? You can thank Dan O'Bannon of Alien fame, who went in the complete opposite direction of the previous "Dead" films with The Return of the Living Dead. The mix of black comedy, a killer soundtrack, and an eclectic cast of teenage punks and zombies make this my go-to zombie movie.

 

ReAnimatorRe-Animator (1985) - Not often brought up when discussing zombie movies, Stuart Gordon's cult classic follows Herbert West and his obsession with perfecting the formula for bringing the dead back to life. While he hopes to reverse the process of death completely, his resurrected subjects are a lot closer to zombies than humans. Zombie movies often focus on the creature and not the cause, but the medical side of the living dead proves to be just as entertaining.

Dead Alive (1992) - Peter Jackson will be forever known for his Middle Earth movies, but, in 1992, he channeleddead-alive the gore of Lucio Fulci and the dark comedy of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 for one of the craziest and bloodiest zombie movies you will ever see. Also known as Braindead, Peter Jackson holds nothing back and this movie still induces the gag reflex in first-time viewers—an impressive feat for a low-budget movie made more than twenty years ago.

Shaun (1)Shaun of the Dead (2004) - It's easy to see why this is one of George A. Romero's favorite zombie movies. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost deliver a hilarious and loving homage to Romero, while making the story their own and keeping with the social commentary that has always been such a big part of Romero's movies. They take it one step further with some of the best-developed characters you'll see in any zombie movie.

After you've seen Romero's original "Living Dead" trilogy and the five above, there are dozens of zombie movies worth checking out, including Cemetery Man, Pontypool, Zombieland, the Dawn of the Dead remake, The Dead, City of the Living Dead, Fido, The Beyond, Land of the Dead, and Dead Snow. There are also films that are labeled as "quasi-zombie movies," which always spark debate among fans, but that shouldn't stop you from watching movies like 28 Days Later, [REC], and [REC] 2.

You can find more from me at DailyDead.com, but more importantly, seek out the news and special features from our talented group of writers. They're insanely passionate and knowledgeable about horror, but, more importantly, they're great people and it's an honor to have their work published on Daily Dead.

 

Favorite Films That Feature “Black Gloved Killers”

“Filmmaker, writer, editor, musician, and all around genre film encyclopedia Chris Alexander provides his impressive insight into films that feature "Black Gloved Killers". Mr. Alexander is the managing editor for ShockTillYouDrop.com and also an IHSFF alum, showcasing his film "Queen of Blood" in 2014. Look out for his next films "Female Werewolf" and the recently announced "BlackGloveKiller" coming to a theater near you.” – Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director

Name: Chris Alexander

Title:   Filmmaker, Managing Editor SHOCK TILL YOU DROP, EIC DELIRIUM Magazine

Organization/Outlet:            SHOCKTILLYOUDROP.COM / DELIRIUM Magazine

List Subject:FAVORITE FILMS THAT FEATURE “BLACK GLOVED KILLERS

THE LIST

PROFONDO ROSSO

The first “black glove killer” film I ever saw…I think. At least the one I remember seeing first. Dario Argento’s operatic thriller is a fetish film that locks its lens on the process of gloves sliding over hands in a montage that includes dolls, children’s drawings and the pummeling prog-funk of Goblin lacing it all together.

DRESSED TO KILL

Brian De Palma cribbed from Hitchcock and the Italian riff on Hitch, the giallo, for this masterclass in style and pulp psychodrama. The elevator scene in which Tranny killer Bobby murders Angie Dickenson is pure cinema and the black gloves the killer wears here are tight and wrapped around the shiniest straight razor in cinema history.

COLOR OF NIGHT

Don’t laugh! This Bruce Willis erotic thriller came and went and was largely derided. That’s because general audiences had no clue that they were watching a giallo. Jane March is sex personified, Willis flashes his “willy” and the killer wears the most awesome black gloves ever.

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE

This film is so kinky and groovy; the poster grabbed me as a kid (greatest poster ever, in fact) but the gloves in the film stuck with me. Not a traditional giallo but the gloves are great, less form fitting, more masculine and menacing.

Eyeball
Eyeball

EYEBALL

EvelynCameOut

EvelynCameOut

Lenzi’s brilliant and super-sleazy giallo is not a black glove killer film. Rather, the killer rocks the red gloves. Same song, different mitten. The red is a brilliant touch and I’m surprise more Italian filmmakers didn’t follow suit.

  • Where can we find you, what are you doing next, etc.:

I’m in pre-production for BLACKGLOVEKILLER, seeing FEMALE WEREWOLF through film festivals, supporting the Blu-ray release of QUEEN OF BLOOD, excited about my new album MUSIC FOR MURDER coming from Giallo Disco records (red vinyl) and hanging out with my amazing children.

  • Website/twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

www.Chris-Alexander.ca

Favorite All-Time Horror Film Makeup Effect

Hello IHSFF Fans. We have a great guest today. We all know how much makeup effects play a role in the genre films we love. Jamie Kelman is one of the talented artists who make those visions come to stunning life through the magic of makeup effects. Jamie has extensive experience in the film industry, recently working on GOOSEBUMPS the Movie and taking over as Makeup Department Head for AMC's THE WALKING DEAD. Check out his absolutely fascinating list of influences. – Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director  

JamieKelmanName: Jamie Kelman

 

Title: Makeup Artist & Character/Prosthetic Makeup Designer

Organization/Outlet: KELMAN STUDIO in Los Angeles, CA.

 

FAVORITE ALL-TIME HORROR FILM MAKEUP EFFECT

When I was about 13 or 14 years old, my friends and I turned on the cable television to see a scene from THE THING (1982). I saw a man’s head stretched off of his neck, dragging itself across the room by it’s own tongue, then sprouting spider legs and crawling away - all while his chest had opened up releasing a hideous tentacled monster into the terrorized room; my teenage pals and I were screaming with delight, and my reeling brain was forever altered - Rob Bottin’s makeup-effects artistry pulled me into a vortex from which I’ve never returned. Forever after that day, realms of the amazing, the weird, and the fantastic constantly beckoned for my attention, a craving only satiated by certain artistic entertainment in the form of movies with creatures and monsters and altered humans. These diversions took center stage in my life, and with all of my time and efforts, I’ve devoted my life to learning the fine-art craft of Special Makeup Effects.

From 1968 with PLANET OF THE APES and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, global fantasy culture experienced a twenty year peak boom time for imaginative and inspiring makeup FX based imagery ranging from the nightmarish to sublime. The crescendo happened in the 1980’s, a double whammy in the early 80’s with aliens (The Empire Strikes Back, E.T., The THING), and Werewolves (The HOWLING and An AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON). Then a second peak happened in 1986 - 1987 (HELLRAISER, PREDATOR, EVIL DEAD 2, LOST BOYS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 3, FROM BEYOND, ROBOCOP, THE FLY, and the best devil ever put on screen in LEGEND), and trust me there’s more - all in just those two years!

While many lament that today things aren’t the same in our current digital era, we must remember that we are lucky that reality ever presented us with these analog gifts at all. They are incredibly difficult and expensive to build and to choreograph. It takes way too much time (and time equals money) for filmmakers to do these things ‘practically’ (i.e. tangibly, physically extant) anymore. But these 20th  century gems remain with us, waiting to be watched and experienced and re-watched - gifts from the finest artists of modern times, thankfully sharing their dreams and visions with us.

If you want to see more, here are eight guys whose work, to me, is the 1980’s equivalent of the enduring artwork of the impressionists from 100 years earlier in the 1880’s. Seek out the movies with makeup effects, puppetry and illusions provided by: Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Stan Winston, Stuart Freeborn, Chris Walas, Tom Savini and Jim Henson. Chances are that you will be massively entertained, while viewing magic from a modern era’s master artists.

So where does that leave me? Well I know that I walk in the footsteps of giants. And every day in every way, I try to honor the craft that they discovered and shaped into a unique way to live a life and earn a living. I reach further and further to try and become one of their kind. Regardless of whether or not I ever achieve what they have, I journey onward, as there are amazing adventures to be found along that path.

THE SHORT LIST:

  1. TheThingJohn Carpenter’s THE THING (1982):

Rob Bottin’s masterpiece of monster makeup, mayhem and transformation FX. Pure imagination turned into tangible, twisting flesh.

 

  1. John Landis’s AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981):

See a man actually turn into a wolf, bone by twisting, crunching bone, with makeup FX by Rick AmericanWerewolfBaker. And see his mutilated friend continually deteriorate while haunting him as a most gory ghost.

 

  1. William Freidkin’s THE EXORCIST:

TheExorcistUtterly terrifying for playing on our collective greatest religious fears, backed up by a relentless realism thanks to Dick Smith’s tip-top notch makeup artistry.

 

  1. George Romero & Stephen King’s CREEPSHOW (1982):

Tom Savini is the master of gore and more, as you meet long suppressed monsters in crates or fromCreepshow ghouls from watery graves. This is a Halloween-funtime classic in my book.

 

  1. (TIE) THE FLY (1986) and PUMPKINHEAD (1988):

TheFlyDavid Cronenberg gives us cerebral goop with an emotional heart as Jeff Goldblum has his career peak becoming a Brundle-Fly. Up next, Stan Winston directs both the movie and the monster with a perennial autumn fix in my home, where a witch grants a grievously wronged man vengeance, in the form of a demon called Pumpkinhead. Another true Halloween delight!Pumpkinhead

 

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?

Regarding my work, it is on the big screen now in GOOSEBUMPS the Movie. Prior to working on this film, I never had the chance before to create so many monsters for one movie. The creatures that I personally sculpted/painted include the Jack-O-Lantern monster, the Scarecrow, both the Haunted Mask Victim and the prop Haunted Mask, a Graveyard Ghoul, and a Nosferatu style Vampire. I was one of three main guys building monsters, and my two main co-workers also delivered the boogity goods. So go check it out. And I’m currently working as the Makeup Department Head for an AMC television show called THE WALKING DEAD.

KelmanStudio.com is my online portfolio website (though imdb.com is always more current), and I’m on Facebook and I plan to join Instagram as soon as I can find the time which is fortunately scarce thanks to work keeping me extremely busy. Thank goodness for airplane rides forcing me to have enough downtime to at least write and share these thoughts about my supercool industry of Special Makeup Effects. Thanks for inviting me to do so, Monte! I hope your festival ROCKS!!!

Beast Wishes, Jamie Kelman

Small Town Horror

Hey IHSFF Fans. Matthew Robinson from DarkoftheMatinee.com joins the conversation today with a list about small town horror. Matthew is the organizer of the Arizona Filmmaker Showcase which meets once a month to showcase some of Arizona's best independent films. He is an avid horror movie buff as well. Check it out. - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director

Name: Matthew Robinson

Title:   Founder

Organization/Outlet: Dark of the Matinee

List Subject:  Small Town Horror

  • What do these films mean to you? Why are they important? How have they influenced you?

Growing up in a fairly large city, Phoenix AZ, I find there is something inherently creepy and unsettling about small towns. A large portion of my family live in small towns, ones with one stop light, and so I am no stranger to them. One reason I think they make such wonderful settings for horror films is there is a strong sense of disconnection from the larger world in small towns. You can believe that some horrible occurrence might happen and the rest of the world wouldn’t know about it for weeks. While there are plenty of horror films set in small towns, the ones I pick have a strong sense of the dynamics of such a place, the ways everyone knows everyone and there is a certain rhythm to life. When faced with a problem, the locals band together and make a stand together. Small towns seem to have secret rules that only the locals know about. These films explore some of those dynamics.

THE LIST

The Mist

Stephen King loves to write about small towns and Frank Darabont adds a master’s touch to this adaptation. I love the ways in which the townsfolk devolve while trapped in a grocery story. The religious element adds an extra layer to the horror and the ending packs quite the punch. Check out the black and white cut of the film for an extra special experience.

Slither
Slither

Slither

Before Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn wrote and directed this hilarious horror comedy that uses the small town dynamic for laughs as well as scares. This film is a throwback to creature features. The small town is the perfect setting for an alien invasion, letting things play out slowly before getting absurd.

 

The Blob

While I enjoy the original, I really do love Chuck Russell's remake from 1988. The make-up effects are truly wonderful here but that’s not the only thing that seriously improves from the original. The film has a real sense of urgency and terror unlike the B-movie feel of the original. Again this movie plays off the way in which something awful can be happening in a small town and the rest of the world would never know.

The Fog

While certainly not John Carpenter’s best film, The Fog often gets overlooked. There is a great sense of location here being a coastal town. I really like the sense of myth building in this film. This feels like a ghost story that would be specific to the area. The Fog is like an urban legend that comes to life.

Tremors

Tremors has it all. There are laughs, great creature designs and huge entertainment. What I like most of all is the sense of the whole town banding together. Unlike in The Mist where the small town nature tears everyone apart, here there is a strong sense of community. In the end I think that element is what makes this film work so well.

 

Check out film reviews and more at www.darkofthematinee.com

Favorite Fright-Rags Horror Shirts of 2015

Hello IHSFF Fans. Our next guest is Ben Scrivens from Fright-Rags. For many of you that frequent the same horror events that I do throughout the year I've seen many Fright-Rags designs walking around. I'm sure that we probably all have one, or in my case twenty, shirts from Fright-Rags. Ben is a hard working entrepreneur who pursued his passion for horror. Check out some his favorite shirt designs from this year and hear the influence that went into each of them. – Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director  

BenScrivensName: Ben Scrivens

 

Title:   President/CEO

 

Organization/Outlet:            Fright-Rags, Inc

 

 

List Subject: Favorite Fright-Rags Horror Shirts of 2015

 

 

THE LIST

1.Halloween II V1HalloweenIIV1

This sequel is by far one of my favorites of the Halloween franchise and Justin Osbourn so perfectly captured the look and feel of the film. It goes perfectly with the original Halloween piece he did for us in 2013.

 

HalloweenIIIV12.Halloween III V1

Even though this sequel does not feature Michael Myers, it is still one of my all time favorites. And again, Justin Osbourn managed to fit his style to the film in a way that has not done before.

 

3.Sweet Dreams

Rocky Davies has an undeniable style and when he approached us with this idea, we jumped on it. No SweetDreamsquintessential 80s inspired design is complete until it has Freddy with wayfarers on it.

 

4.I Still Believe

Everyone loves the “crazy sax guy” from The Lost Boys, but how do you create a shirt that isn’t just shirtless, oiled up, muscle-bound dude with a sax on it? Kyle Crawford struck a perfect balance of imagery from the film IStillBelieveand the throwback look of a club flyer. Add in all the little winks and nods to the film and it’s a perfect design.

 

5.Chum Bucket

We had our share of challenges doing shirts for JAWS because we could not use any actors’ likenesses. As soon as this idea came to us, we knew we had to do it. Not only is it a unique take on a famous scene, but the position of the characters allows us to show them without likenesses.ChumBucket

 

 

 

  • Where can we find you, what are you doing next, self-promotion, etc.:

You can always find us at www.fright-rags.com/ Our next big release is our Trick ‘r treat Collection coming out on October 21. We also have a few other things to release before the end of the year.

 

  • Website/twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

Facebook: facebook.com/frightrags

Twitter and Instagram: @frightrags

Favorite Horror Erotica/Favorite Jess Franco Horrror/Etc

Hello IHSFF Fans. Next up is our good friend and Arizona film programming mainstay Andrea Canales. She offers one of the most unique lists of favorite films from any of the guests featured this month. Take an opportunity to check it out and visit Andrea at FilmBar in downtown Phoenix for some of Arizona's best genre programming - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director  

Andrea CanalesName: Andrea Canales

 

Title:    Film Programmer

 

Organization/Outlet:    FilmBar

 

List Subject:  FAVORITE HORROR EROTICA / FAVORITE JESS FRANCO HORROR/ etc.

 

  • What do these films mean to you? Why are they important? How have they influenced you?

 

Erotic Horror films are a time capsule of an exotic and far away time. Especially the films of Jess Franco: where many locations were used in multiple films and secured for a deal that remains the stuff of b-movie folklore. Vibrant and authentic they are erotic and colorful, underscored by sumptuous sounds of exotica composers. Leaning heavily on the starlets alluring looks to compensate for wandering, some time non-existent storylines; they are a fabulous reminder of a 1970s where sexual freedom and exploration were paramount. Filmed quickly and with the gusto of their gregarious filmmakers, they contain a certain genuineness that will allow them to endure and attract future generations of audiences.

 

99 Women PosterTHE LIST

  1. 99 Women

My favorite Franco: not necessarily a horror film, but a thriller with stellar performances, stunning scenery and a haunting soundtrack.

 

  1. Zombie LakeZombieLakePoster

A surprisingly sympathetic and endearing film about Nazi Zombies: who arise from a lake, with a touching daughter and father-zombie story that is truly charming.

 

  1. Bloody Moon

BloodyMoonPosterA video nasty that delivers with sexy co-eds romping it up in Spain with some seriously great gore and an infamous VHS cover!

 

  1. Devil Hunter

Captured and tortured in the jungle, this cannibal tale features exotic locations and starlets. A “Devil” with ping-pong balls for eyes and some ridiculous dubbing: A lot of fun!

 

  1. A Virgin Among the Living DeadAVirginAmongTheLivingDeadPoster

A haunting horror film that is visually arresting and atmospheric. Daydreams and nightmares intertwine with reality to create a truly lingering experience.

 

  • Where can we find you, what are you doing next, self-promotion, etc.:

Hosting a screening of SUSPIRIA at Phoenix Art Museum 02/10/16!

 

  • Website/twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

https://www.facebook.com/MidniteMovieMamacita

https://www.facebook.com/FilmBar.Phoenix

 

Favorite Books in Horror Movies

 
Hey International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival Fans, we've got something fun to get you in the Halloween spirit. Some of my favorite film people are being featured throughout October offering their unique perspectives on horror films they love. Take a moment to read the insights from these unique personalities and get to know the people that love this genre we call HORROR.
 
First up is Marc Ciccarone from Blood Bound Books, a local independent publishing company specializing in horror, suspense, and dark fantasy.
 
Enjoy. - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director

Name: Marc Ciccarone

Title:   Owner

Organization/Outlet: Blood Bound Books

 

TOPIC: FAVORITE BOOKS IN HORROR MOVIES

 

As an independent publishing company specializing in horror, suspense and dark fantasy we wanted to contribute a literary side to the IHSFF’s movie lists. Submitted for your approval, the top five books featured in horror movies. Don’t worry; they’re make believe…we think.

 

 

THE LIST

 

  1. THE BEYOND (1981) dir: Lucio Fulci

TheBeyondThe Book of Eibon”

Lucio Fulci’s film “THE BEYOND” is a gore-filled cult classic. After a lynch mob murders a suspected Warlock in 1927, the Seven Doors Hotel—where the crime occurred—remains empty for decades until an NYC-transplant named Liz buys the building.  During renovations, The Book of Eibon appears several times and alludes that the hotel is one of the seven gateways to Hell.

 

  1. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994) dir: John CarpenterMouthofMadness

Sutter Cane’s “In the Mouth of Madness”

Directed by John Carpenter—the king of horror in our opinion—“IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS” is a Lovecraftian film in Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy. Sam Neil, an insurance investigator, is hired by Arcane Publishing to investigate the disappearance of popular horror novelist Sutter Cane. In researching the case, Neil discovers that Cane’s book covers form an outline of New Hampshire, marking a location believed to be Hobb's End, a fictional setting for Cane's novels. After traveling to Hobb’s End, Neil receives Sutter Cane’s final manuscript: In The Mouth Of Madness—same as the movie. And if it’s published… Well, let’s just say it’s probably as catastrophic as “crossing the streams.”

 

  1. SECRET WINDOW (2004) dir: David Koepp

SecretWindowSowing Season

“SECRET WINDOW” is adapted from a Stephen King story, and features Johnny as successful author Mort Rainey, suffering a psychotic break after his wife’s affair. While deep in depression and suffering writer’s block, Rainey is confronted by a man accusing him of plagiarism. “You stole my story,” the odd man says. “This has got to be settled.” His manuscript, “Sowing Season” is the work in question, and he won’t leave Rainey alone until he gets what’s right…what’s fair.

 

 

  1. BEETLEJUICE (1988) dir: Tim BurtonBeetlejuice

Hand Book for the Recently Deceased

It sucks not knowing you’re dead. Luckily, this handbook was created to help ease the burden of transitioning to your new life…er, afterlife. With big names and big laughs, Tim Burton’s 1988 classic “BEETLEJUICE” is still relevant today.

 

  1. THE EVIL DEAD (1981) dir: Sam Raimi

TheEvilDeadThe Necronomicon

The ancient text, written by the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, is featured in quite a few films, “THE EVIL DEAD” being one of our favorites. Each film changes a few details of the book of the dead, yet that only adds more intrigue to the legendary grimoire. Real or fake, we never miss a chance at a flick featuring the one and only Necronomicon!

 

 

  • Where can we find you, what are you doing next?

We’ve worked with a slew of horror masters, including Jack Ketchum, Brian Lumley, Dennis Etchison, Paul Tremblay, Steve Rasnic Tem and many more. Our newest anthology, Night Terrors III, contains twenty-two remarkable stories of earthly horror and cosmic menace and is sure disturb even the most avid horror fane.

 

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See the most bone-chilling films you'll see all year at the 2015 IHSFF Fall Horror Showcase!

There's a chill in the air thanks to The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival! We are proud to announce our Fall Horror Showcase. Audiences will have an opportunity to preview some of the most anticipated horror films of the year before they're released! For 3 nights in October, the Harkins Scottsdale 101 will be the place to be for a frighteningly good time with fellow horror film enthusiasts.

[button link="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2252116" color="red" newwindow="yes"] PURCHASE TICKETS FOR ALL 3 NIGHTS NOW![/button]

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2015

THE FINAL GIRLS

Final Girls

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, Alia Shawkat with Alexander Ludwig and Nina Dobrev.

When Max (Taissa Farmiga) and her friends reluctantly attend an anniversary screening of "Camp Bloodbath," the infamous '80s horror film that starred Max's late mother (Malin Akerman), they are mysteriously sucked into the silver screen. They soon realize they are trapped inside the cult classic movie and must team up with the fictional and ill-fated camp counselors, including Max's mom as the scream queen, to battle the film's machete-wielding killer. With the body count rising in scene after iconic scene, who will be the final girls left standing and live to escape this film?

A hosted discussion with Brent Hankins, Kyle Wilson and Matt Surley of NerdRepository will follow the film.NRlogob

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THE FINAL GIRLS

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2015

BITE

BITE-POSTER-web

Starring: Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Jordan Gray |

"I leave the BITE premiere for all of 10 minutes and the following text lights up my phone: '2 people fainted. One girl is puking and another hit his head on the stairs'." -Mitch Davis, Festival Director of the Fantasia International Film Festival

While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her wedding but before she's able to, she starts exhibiting insect like traits. Between her physical transformation and her wedding anxiety, Casey succumbs to her new instincts and begins creating a hive that not only houses her translucent eggs, but feeds on the flesh of others. As her transformation becomes complete, Casey discovers that everything can change with a single bite.

A discussion will follow the film hosted by Matthew G. Robinson of Dark of the Matinee.

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR BITE

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2015

BONE TOMOHAWK

bone-tomahawk

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons, Richard Jenkins, David Arquette and Sid Haig

Far beyond the settled frontier of the old west, two brigands (David Arquette & Sid Haig) cut throats, steal, and defile an ancient, sacred land.  The one named Purvis flees when things get ugly and heads for the nearest town, Bright Hope. Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) and an oldster known as Chicory (Richard Jenkins) are the law for this small settlement, a place where a cowboy foreman, Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) lives with his doctor wife, Samantha (Lili Simmons), alongside saloon habitués such as the cultured, but private gunslinger, John Brooder (Matthew Fox). Purvis reaches Bright Hope alive, but is followed there by the ancient menace that he and his partner awakened.  A night of violence ensues.  People are slaughtered, and Mrs. O'Dwyer is abducted. This event forces Sheriff Hunt, Arthur O'Dwyer, Chicory, and John Brooder to band together and ride beyond the edge of civilization, where they will face a godless enemy who views them as meat.

A hosted discussion with Jeff Mitchell will follow the film.

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR BONE TOMAHAWK

 

3 Chilling Films.

3 Chilling Nights.

Following the screenings there will be a hosted discussion about the film.

Tickets are $10 each and a pass for all 3 films is just $20. Don't wait to buy tickets. Seating is limited to only 250 seats per screening.

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Insidious: Chapter Three - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

Insidious: Chapter 3

Director: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Tate Berney, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, and Lin Shaye

97 Minutes

Focus Features

A psychic struggling with the responsibility of her gift tells a teenager that when you call out to the dead, you are calling out to all of them. Recently this sort of setup establishes every camera movement, adjustment in sound, positioned prop, foggy set, and lighting manipulation as a tool to build an uneasy sensation just before a big scare scene. While many horror films fall guilty to familiar and predictable jump scares, including “Insidious: Chapter 3”, this film utilizes the frights in far more subtle and effective way. Director Leigh Whannell directs much like he writes - quick and succinct. This makes “Insidious: Chapter 3” move with a swift and systematic pace. While this doesn’t always help in making the film as terrifying as the first film in the franchise, it does give this third chapter the quality it seems to be aiming for, which is the benefit of a safe scare that lingers just as quickly as it appeared.

This film happens a few years before the haunting of the Lambert family from the first “Insidious”. A young girl named Quinn (Stefanie Scott) has recently lost her mother to cancer and is struggling to find some connection to her. Quinn locates retired psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who is a shell of the confident and glowing woman she portrayed in the first two films because she is devastated by the loss of her husband. Elise tells Quinn that she cannot help her and warns her to be careful about reaching out to the dead. Elise begins to experience bizarre occurrences, black tar stained footprints appear, loud knocking noises wake her, and images of a man in a breathing mask stalk her. Elise realizes through a vision that Quinn is in terrible danger, and that she is the only one who can help her.

Employing the prequel scenario is a familiar setup in horror films; especially those that try to maintain the longevity of a franchise. The first “Insidious” was a unique experience because it accomplished what many ghost and haunting stories seemed to have difficulty accomplishing, which was actually being scary. Director James Wan has become a staple of creepy horror films, recently moving on to another franchise with “Furious Seven” and this week being attached to the comic book adaptation of “Aquaman”. Wan’s longtime writing partner Leigh Whannell, who wrote all the “Insidious” films and the first three “Saw” films, has taken over the reins of “Insidious” and has guided it back from the strayed path “Insidious: Chapter 2” took. Instead of continuing the story with the Lambert family, Whannell takes the best parts from the first two films and puts them in focus here. Lin Shaye is given a leading role and she owns every moment on screen. This time we find her broken, afraid, and alone, not at all confident of her abilities. Shaye’s transition into the authoritative force is well accomplished, even giving her character a cheer worthy moment of defiance. The ghost-busting boys, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), from the Spectral Sightings team are back to offer moments of comedic relief between scares, a nice blindsiding effect. And an old friend from the past films makes a jolting appearance as well.

While it’s no fault of this third chapter, the “Insidious” films have established a blueprint for how they like to scare you, which unfortunately makes the frightening qualities here have a lessoned effect. The film again focuses on a family and how the wounds of the past make them susceptible to dark forces. While “Insidious: Chapter 2” felt like a hurried effort from the beginning, continuing the story with the Lamberts into clichéd and particularly un-scary places, “Insidious: Chapter 3” takes the best characters and scare designs from the previous films and makes a film that stands on its own.

Monte’s Rating

3.00 out of 5.00