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.

 

Website/twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

 

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

We Are Still Here - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

We Are Still Here  

Director: Ted Geoghegan

Starring: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, and Monte Markham

 

84 Minutes

Dark Sky Films

 

The haunted house genre is plentiful with material lately. With the successful box office success of recent years, the quality of the scares has become rather stagnant, with most reduced to methods of turning the volume up to eleven in promotion of the jump scare. Still, there is something about these films that remain fascinating and keep audiences coming back year after year, sequel after sequel. Just as the “Saw” franchise made gore fans return to see what new and creative methods of blood-spattered violence could be utilized, the haunted house genre makes viewers ponder the new ways they can be scared, perhaps startled is a better term. The films in horror that maintain beyond the exit door are always the ones that are inventive and display an understanding for how horror films work.

 

“We Are Still Here” is the directorial debut from Ted Geoghegan, who also wrote and produced the film. The film takes place in 1979 in the isolated, snowy region of a small New England town. Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) are moving away from the big city after the tragic death of their son in an automobile accident. Anne is devastated, lost in the memories of the past and torn by every step forward into the future. The emotional separation of the couple and the turmoil it has put on their marriage can be felt in early scenes that display Paul’s frustration with Anne. Barbara Crampton has always been interesting to watch, from her roles in “Re-Animator”, “From Beyond”, and even recently “You’re Next”.  She has proven herself a talented seasoned veteran. Genre mainstay Larry Fessenden makes a welcome appearance in a comedic role that has an unexpected horror twist.

 

Things take a bit of turn when the couple begins to experience strange happenings within the house, with each encounter with the entities becoming stronger, more violent, and soon deadly. Anne and Paul realize that there is more to the house than the spirits that are threatening them, and soon the secrets of the community come to light. There is nothing exceptional about the narrative, it’s all cut and paste from other horror films seen before. What excels is the design, a mix of tension driven atmosphere that leads to gruesome blood spilling. While the ghosts look good on first glimpse they are over utilized, which quickly displays some of the flaws in their CGI assisted design. And, while the actors do a good job of making the characters feel authentic, the narrative lacks the strength to move the film into places that would make the film more unique and less imitative.

 

“We Are Still Here” is a carefully paced haunted house ghost story. While the film may suffer from narrative issues, the film works by being content with delivering creepy, well-composed imagery over big jump scares, and to a large degree this method works exceptionally well.

 

Monte’s Rating / 3.00 out of 5.00

Top 10 Horror Films of 2014 by Monte Yazzie

Monte’s Best Horror Films of 2014  

It was divisive year for genre filmmaking this year with numerous horror fans finding support of different films. That’s a very good thing for the genre because it means that filmmakers are starting to venture into different directions. While many of the films on my list may explore familiar themes, I found many did so with an inventive and individualistic approach. Here are my standouts for 2014. Enjoy.

under-the-skin-poster

  1. Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer)

Writer/director Jonathan Glazer’s impressive film “Under The Skin” is one of the best genre films of recent memory. With a near silent and purposefully ambiguous narrative, the film moves with a hallucinatory yet naturalistic aesthetic through the streets of Scotland, following Scarlett Johannson’s curious and deadly being. The purpose of the lead character is never fully realized, but it doesn’t matter because the journey is so ambitiously designed that the mystery becomes nothing short of consuming. “Under the Skin” is a brilliant addition to the science fiction genre.

  1. Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent)

First time director Jennifer Kent has crafted one of the most effective haunting films of the year; a horror film that works on numerous levels while also being consistently chilling throughout. With influences from numerous genres and a monster that builds intimidation through the power of suggestion crafted exceptionally within the narrative. Kent designs a horror film that burrows and finds a lingering home in the mind of the viewer.

  1. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)

Jim Jarmusch is one of the best directors working in film today; an auteur whose film composition is structured around the characters he meticulously builds. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a story about the toils of eternal life and, far secondary to that, a story about vampirism.  Jarmusch finds significance through character, steering the film in a seemingly aimless direction while shrewdly avoiding the pitfalls that other vampire films have faltered into. Time will pass but “Only Lovers Left Alive” is the kind of genre film that will only get better.

  1. The Sacrament (dir. Ti West)

Ti West takes horror to a realistic level in “The Sacrament”. The documentary style approach takes a group of journalists into the heart of the religious/socialist cult known as Eden Parish. The film is assisted by the technical design, moving the narrative forward by slowly unraveling the deadly truths through subtle touches. The film is further assisted by an impressive portrayal of the cult leader played menacingly by Gene Jones. “The Sacrament” doesn’t need to utilize supernatural forces to induce scares, instead taking the horrors of real life and making a nightmare.

  1. Housebound (dir. Gerard Johnstone)

“Housebound” in many regards has everything that I gravitate towards in a horror film. A clever mix of well-crafted scares assisted by touches of dark and blatantly lighthearted comedy, the film has a continuously unpredictable structure. While the funny moments offer playful tension-breaking opportunities, this haunted house tale steadily remains an unsettling and creepy film first and foremost. This was one of the most entertaining horror films of the year.

  1. Oculus (dir. Mike Flanagan)

Mirrors have always played a major influence in horror films, in many ways becoming an overused prop that is predictably and tediously implemented. Writer/director Mike Flanagan, along with co-writer Jeff Howard, ingeniously builds a woven narrative that is accommodated by exceptional performances. The focus never strays too far from the star of film, the evil Lasser Glass, which is provided a consuming history that adds a sinister depth. “Oculus” was the best mainstream offering this year.

  1. Honeymoon (dir. Leigh Janiak)

People change, it’s a theme horror has explored since the very beginning. “Honeymoon” explores an interesting aspect of change, one that involves the first steps of a changing relationship and individual identity. Taken from the perspective of the man in the relationship, “Honeymoon” takes an inexplicable event and slowly builds into the irrational terrors of the most non-committal men, mainly not fully knowing the person you just committed a lifetime with. With wonderful lead performances and a slow burning narrative that is both subtle and startling, “Honeymoon” was an unexpected surprise.

  1. Starry Eyes (dir. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer)

What lengths will you go to accomplish a goal? Dreams take a certain, and sometimes consuming, amount of sacrifice. This theme is the driving force behind “Starry Eyes”, a film that takes aim at the Hollywood system but also the extreme self-destructive nature of those unwilling to accept rejection of their ambitions. The lead character is offered very little empathy, an actress willing to take the abuse to reap the suggested benefits. The film transitions into a surreal nightmare and effectively crafts a disturbing character study of aspiration.

  1. Late Phases (dir. Adrian Garcia Bogliano)

It would seem logical for a monster that feeds on a nightly basis to locate the easiest form of prey. That’s exactly what the beast lurking in the surrounding woods did when it picked a retirement community as a primary dinner buffet. Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano takes a no frills approach to his werewolf film, crafting an exceptional elderly character to challenge the fearsome creature and a well-executed design that highlights traditional horror attributes. The throwback style is refreshing, a compliment to what has made the monster movie effective for so long.

  1. Borgman (dir. Alex van Warmerdam)

The introduction to “Borgman” is one the best opening scenes I’ve seen in some time. This film is difficult to categorize, let alone explain, but it’s easy to see how horror has directly influenced every frame of this beautifully composed film. The imagery here is a standout quality while the fable-like storytelling accommodates the nonsensical devices implemented to forward the film. With a mix of dark comedy and sadistic motivations, “Borgman” is an unusual yet engrossing film that will only find further debate once the credits roll.

 

Honorable Mentions

  • Wolf Creek 2
  • The Strange Color Of Your Bodies Tears
  • Proxy
  • Afflicted
  • Tusk

Monte Yazzie's Top 10 Horror Films (plus a few more)

ShiningFor a horror fanatic, asking them to pick their ten favorite horror films can be a difficult challenge. So today, here are ten of my personal favorites. Enjoy!  

By Monte Yazzie of  The Coda Films

 

An American Werewolf in London (Dir: John Landis)

“American Werewolf in London” was released in 1981, all that time and the werewolf transformation scene is still the special effects scene to beat. John Landis, coming off “The Blues Brothers” and “Animal House”, made this darkly comedic werewolf film into a standout genre film. Rick Baker’s Academy Award winning special effects steal much of the spotlight but the narrative is inventive and humorous while still levying a generous amount of gore and jump worthy scares.

 

Candyman (Dir: Bernard Rose)

The best movies stay with you because they evoke an emotion. Fear is a strong emotion and “Candyman” captured my fear. Whether the haunting score by Phillip Glass or the gothic poetry spoken by the monster, this movie directed by Bernard Rose stuck with me. Based on a story by Clive Barker, “Candyman” has all the misery and dread found in Barker’s work. As it is in most of Barker’s tales, the monster is the most complex character of the story.

 

Dawn of the Dead (Dir: George Romero)

First was “Night of the Living Dead”; the second was “Dawn of the Dead”. George Romero’s script is filled with satire and social commentary and the reflection of the emotions and attitudes of the time. In the current state of popular culture, where zombies are everywhere, Romero’s films are a direct influence for all of them. For Romero zombies have always been used for commentary, which makes it interesting to see how “Dawn of the Dead” still reflects many of the issues from the past in our present. Even though the 70’s are on clear external display, the undertones are inherently timeless.

 

Evil Dead 2 (Dir. Sam Raimi)

The first “Evil Dead” was a straightforward, low budget horror film. The second, still to its core a horror film, added a healthy dose of humor and unleashed the charisma of Bruce Campbell. Director Sam Raimi mixes slapstick and horror with ease, making it okay to laugh while our hero Ash is put through the ringer of horrible acts. Raimi’s style was patented here, a distinctive quality that can still be seen in nearly all of his films. Bruce Campbell’s manic comic acting turned the film into something lighthearted at times but it never stops being relentlessly horrific.

 

Kairo (Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

“Kairo” is a cautionary tale. In a technology fueled world people have isolated themselves to near zero communication. Instead using numerous forms of electronic communication to connect with the rest of the world. Suicide becomes rampant and the ghostly images of the recently deceased begin to communicate through technology. Horror films have always been used as social commentary; here the topics of depression and suicide are examined. Communication has changed to the extent that human interaction happens through artificial sentiments looking into the glow of a screen. How will this change people? “Kairo” may not offer scares that keep you up at night, but the questions offered might keep you thinking longer than expected.

 

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Dir: Werner Herzog)

Werner Herzog’s “Nosferatu the Vampyre” is a beautiful, dread-filled film. While holding many of the strengths of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic, Herzog embeds his patented designs throughout the film. From the use of nature that hints at something dangerous behind the scenic fronts, to the color that continuously expresses emotion with vivid and muted renditions, to Klaus Kinski’s pitch perfect performance of the character made famous by Max Shreck; this is more than just a run of the mill vampire film. In the hands of one of the great filmmakers, horror is made truly beautiful.

 

The Shining (Dir: Stanley Kubrick)

Stanley Kubrick has created some of films most revered works of art. “The Shining”, based off a Stephen King story, is in the horror hall of fame. Down every hallway and through every door of the labyrinth that is the Overlook Hotel Kubrick draws fear with subtle and deliberate imagery. Flooded elevators of blood and ghostly images are still effectively startling today. Not to mention the performance by Jack Nicholas, which can only be classified as iconic. “The Shining”, regardless of how many times I watch it, continues to stay with me long after the credits roll. That’s the mark of a true horror film.

 

Shivers (Dir: David Cronenberg)

“Shivers”, alternatively known as “They Came From Within”, is a low budget horror film from the bizarre and brilliant mind of David Cronenberg. This film displayed the skill that would be further implemented in his later work, but the effectiveness of “Shivers” is that it doesn’t utilize the typical genre characteristics to scare. The gore and violence happen relatively off screen and the special effects are used sparingly, instead Cronenberg focuses on the characters in the apartment and the uncontrolled threat of the parasites turning people into sex-crazed maniacs. Cronenberg has transitioned in his current work, away from the horror of the body and more into the horror of the mind, but the past has proven Cronenberg one of the most unique directors of our time.

 

Suspiria (Dir. Dario Argento)

I was fortunate enough to watch this film on a 35mm print with a crowd full of horror enthusiasts, some watching Dario Argento’s masterpiece for the first time. It was an experience to say the least. From the assaulting introduction complemented with a score by Goblin, the young American ballet student walks into a European school of horror. The unpleasant mood builds with nightmarish imagery with little concern about adhering to structure. Rendered with deep blues and bright reds, visceral gore, and innovative design, “Suspiria” is less a story and more an atmosphere. A genre spectacle conducted by a master of horror.

 

The Thing (Dir: John Carpenter)

“The Thing” is potentially one of the best genre remakes every made. From director John Carpenter, whose film catalog could have populated this list completely, “The Thing” is a benchmark of special effects wizardry from the hands of the great Rob Bottin. It’s also terrifying. Carpenter, having “Halloween” and “The Fog” underneath his belt, utilizes the isolated Antarctic research facility to portray a story where no one can be trusted. With tension filled scenes, Carpenter builds anxiety, shocks you with scare, and then follows it with a gory mutation whose effect still holds up thirty years later.

 

 

Here are ten more that could have easily made this list on a different day.

  • Black Christmas
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Carnival of Souls
  • The Devils Backbone
  • Fright Night
  • Halloween
  • The Lost Boys
  • Pieces
  • Return of the Living Dead
  • Rosemary’s Baby

 

Nas: Time is Illmatic - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

Nas: Time is Illmatic Dir: One9

 

“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death/beyond the walls of intelligence life is defined/I think of crime, when I’m in a New York State of Mind”. Twenty years ago a twenty-year-old New York rapper named Nasir “Nas” Jones released his debut album “Illmatic”. Twenty years have passed and “Illmatic” is still an iconic work of musical art. With charismatic yet thought-provoking and candidly insightful lyrics, accompanied by production by some of hip-hop’s most elite producers at the time, Nas weaved masterfully a melancholy journey through the rough and tough daily life in the Queensbridge housing community he grew up in. Though, amidst the harsh street narrative is still a hopeful young man with aspirations and dreams who was blessed with an unquestionable skill with language.

 

“Nas: Time is Illmatic” watches the rise of a young man towards the defining moment in his short life, seeing opportune circumstances fall at the right place at the right time for his gifts to shine in ways that separated him from others. Whether his upbringing with equally exceptional parents who guided his early musical ambitions or motivations to change the trajectory of life that was consuming young men in his neighborhood, it’s the kind of success story emulated in heroic tales where the integral character rises, falls, and then rises even higher. In other terms it’s the American dream.

 

Dissecting the album song by song, director One9 shows the many attitudes and personalities that went into each. It’s interesting to see the assuredness of the producers working with Nas; many of these producers, like Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest and DJ Premier from the equally gritty hip-hop group Gangstarr, were already established and collaborating with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. But as soon as they heard Nas on the microphone it’s like they innately understood that Nas was something unique. While this part of the film is filled with the head-nodding tracks from the album and insightful anecdotes from those present in the studios, it’s not as compelling as the personal parts of the documentary. The poignant interviews with Nas and his musician father display an interesting growth of the father/son dynamic. The film utilizes defining events, like the death of a close friend, the difficulties of a broken home, or sudden acts of neighborhood aggression, to display the struggles of separation from the desperate environment that Nas and his friends and family have fought and are still fighting through. In one poignant scene Nas is looking at a picture of the people from his neighborhood most of whom have all, in some way, been swallowed up by drugs and crime.

 

“Nas: Time is Illmatic” portrays how this classic album came together but most importantly it explains the reasons why. One part history lesson and one part character analysis, the documentary easily and engrossingly moves between both aspects, also demonstrating how music changes and, in some cases like “Illmatic”, how it gets better with time. The album cover for “Illmatic” depicts young Nasir Jones striking a look of maturity and ambition. What is reflected in the album and this documentary is the same.

 

Monte’s Rating / 4.00 out of 5.00

 

Annabelle - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

Annabelle

Director: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, and Tony Amendola

98 Minutes

Rated R

by Monte Yazzie - TheCodaFilms.com

The mischievous smile that adorns the Annabelle doll supports what horror films have exploited for years…dolls are creepy. The doll from “Magic”, “Dead of Night”, The Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll”, and “Poltergeist” are just a few of the figures that have spooked audiences. “Annabelle” finds it’s influence from James Wan’s “The Conjuring”, where the doll first made it’s appearance, however the compliments are few for this uninspired and holiday exploited horror film.

Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton) live an idyllic life in the suburbs of Santa Monica. They go to church, have great neighbors, and are expecting their first child. John is busy at medical school while Mia prepares for their child at home. The couple gets in an argument one night and John offers an early present to apologize, it’s a doll that completes Mia’s extensive collection. The neighbor’s estranged daughter, who is a runaway, returns violently home one night. Mia and John are attacked but saved by authorities but not before the Annabelle doll becomes a conduit for a malevolent force.

From the beginning moments of “Annabelle” the distinct scare design seen in films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring” are present. Tension is a crucial element in these films. Whether it’s the score that rises and falls in volume coercing anxiety or the sustainment of a scene at the peak of fear, everything is purposely coordinated to make the audience uneasy. Even moments of relief become opportunities to blindside the viewer. It’s all effective when done properly. “Annabelle” has a few great setups, like a storage room scene that composes a great shock and an extended elevator gag that is surprisingly effective; the remainder of the film is a composition of reused frights from scarier movies and one-dimensional characters that aren’t given any opportunity to develop. It’s unfortunate because the writers hint at some really interesting outlooks, like an early scene of a news report that discusses the prominence of cults in California or the incorporation of a demon figure that steals every fearsome scene. While the first twenty minutes of the film establishes a nice origin the remainder is problematic in numerous ways, making the film ultimately feel like it was rushed for a Halloween deadline.

Once the family moves from the suburbs to a big city apartment, things get interesting again. Allowing Mia the opportunity to display motherly characteristics and adding the presence of a defenseless infant rejuvenates the stumbling film for a moment. Annabelle Wallis does a good job here; the protective qualities motherhood offers her character makes depicts her character as resilient when it would be easy to consider her decisions foolish.

“Annabelle” is not terrible but it is not particularly good either, however it does offer enough forceful frights and recognizable setups to remind horror fans that they should take one of the 31 nights of October to revisit “The Conjuring”.

Monte’s Rating / 2.00 out of 5.00

Tusk - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

TuskTusk  

Dir: Kevin Smith

Starring: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, and Haley Joel Osment

 

Rated R

102 Minutes

 

By Monte Yazzie - The Coda Films

 

It all started with a podcast. Filmmaker Kevin Smith and longtime friend and producing partner Scott Mosier sat down for their weekly podcast. The subject of the show was an advertisement on a craigslist-like website from a man looking for a roommate who would be willing to dress in a walrus suit. Strange, but this story sparked creative juices taking Smith and Mosier through an hour-long formation of a treatment for a film. Offered to Twitter for approval or disapproval from fans the hash tag, #walrusyes, was overwhelming enough for Smith to pursue the wild idea for major production. With “Tusk” Kevin Smith has made a joking conversation with a friend into a ludicrous, over-the-top comedic horror film tailored for his fans.

 

Wallace (Justin Long) is an obnoxious podcaster who travels the country looking for odd people to interview. Wallace travels to Manitoba for a meeting with an internet sensation but things go awry. Stuck in Canada without an interview, Wallace finds an advertisement on a bathroom wall that intrigues him enough to venture deep into the True North to find Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an enigmatic wheel chair bound seafarer with a storied life. Living in a museum-like house Howard shares an outlandish story about being lost at sea just before drugging Wallace and taking him captive. His co-host Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and girlfriend Ally are worried about his disappearance and travel to Canada to search for him with the help of a peculiar detective.

 

Smith expertly mixes tones, walking and at times diverting far from the line that separates comedy and horror. It feels like a skill tailored for Smith’s talents. This quality is needed in “Tusk” which begins with a reality-grounding introduction but turns into something completely and grossly outrageous. It’s a sharp curve from the norm, one that Smith guides successfully in parts. As is the case with most of the films in Smith’s catalog, things get verbose quickly. While his flair with characters and dialog can be humorous, it can also be frustrating when it takes away from the positive developing features. Unfortunately, there are a few moments where Smith’s overindulgence within scenes hurts the pacing and takes away from the back and fourth tension built by the design utilized in the narrative.

 

Having the fantastic Michael Parks in your film can hold any wild tangent together. Parks’ performance is committed and exceptional as the sinister seafarer with an obsession with walruses. Justin Long, playing the difficult role here of both man and beast, in extensive makeup, is at times painstakingly annoying when taking advantage of his girlfriend or demeaning Canadians though he is also empathetic albeit by forceful methods of mutilation. There is also an indulgent cameo by a familiar actor in disguising makeup. While this role is amusing at first, especially for those who listen to Smith’s podcast, the joke runs its course quickly.

 

Kevin Smith is clearly making a movie for his own fascinations and die-hard fans. “Tusk” is Smith at his most technically confident, the cinematography here is better than most of his other work and his narrative is filled with stinging humor and in-jokes all wrapped in a dark and demented premise. While the first half of the film establishes great characters with surprising heart and a playful yet dark environment, the gruesome transitions in the second half feels somewhat uneven. “Tusk” is strangely unique, especially for a Kevin Smith film. It’s different enough from a genre standpoint to split horror fans appreciation but Jay and Silent Bob would explicitly approve.

 

Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00

 

As Above, So Below - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

As AboveAs Above, So Below  

Dir: John Erick Dowdle

Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, and Edwin Hodge

 

93 Minutes

Rated R

 

By Monte Yazzie (www.thecodafilms.com)

 

Claustrophobic and in moments creepy, director John Erick Dowdle gives “As Above, So Below” a fighting chance amongst genre clichés and forced frights. Using the rudimentary “found footage” style Dowdle transports a cast of young explorers into the catacombs underneath the streets of Paris. The unsettling location creates some wonderful atmosphere. Unfortunately the narrative foregoes exploration of some provoking historical elements introduced early on and the film becomes overly predictable and filled with the usual telegraphed scares that flaw films using this style choice.

 

Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is a single-minded researcher bent on finishing her deceased father’s life work of finding an ancient historical artifact. This leads her initially into a dangerous cavern in Iran that almost kills her. Following the clues from Iran she is lead to Paris and into the forbidden section of the catacombs below the city. Looking for a secret doorway, Scarlett and her crew are trapped in the mazelike tomb leading them into the supernatural and face to face with their innermost fear.

 

The story begins as a treasure hunt in the vein of “Tomb Raider”, though not as intelligent or action packed. The history mystery has Scarlett investigating artifacts and piecing together a puzzle started by her father. This ultimately serves to accommodate the plot change, which brings a larger group of people to aid Scarlett into the catacombs of Paris. Once below the group is haunted by apparitions that reflect their own traumas and fears. The film only touches the surface of character development, though it could have offered an interesting inquiry into the secrets of past civilizations and the personal horror hidden inside the individual. The introduction is fairly sloppy though when the transition from adventure to horror happens, the atmosphere takes control and things get interesting. While nothing narratively will be particularly unique for horror fans, Dowdle shrewdly utilizes claustrophobic spaces, the confusion of darkness, and disorienting sound designs to keep things sinister. In one scene the simple design of a chanting chorus, along with a nightmarish situation for one of the characters, really brings the journey into the cavernous unknown to echoing life.

 

It’s unfortunate that the film uses the “found footage” technique. Whether a budgetary or production concern the hand-held approach hurts the frightening potential that the disturbing environment possesses. Every scare becomes telegraphed and the camera shakes away the atmosphere.

 

“As Above, So Below” has an effectively creepy mood to work with, and for a moment the location hides the weaknesses of the narrative. Perdita Weeks gives a decent performance as the brave and ambitious to a fault researcher but unfortunately the tiresome filmic technique hinders the terrifying experience proposed in the premise.

 

Monte’s Rating 3.00 out of 5.00

 

Life After Beth - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

Life After BethLife After Beth  

Dir: Jeff Baena

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Paul Reiser, Cheryl Hines, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Anna Kendrick

 

91 Minutes

Rated R

 

By Monte Yazzie (www,thecodafilms.com)

 

There is never a lack of social commentary or awareness in the horror genre, but it seems rather prominent in zombie films. Going back to Romero’s films, zombies may not say much coherently but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to say something. “Life After Beth”, a romantic zombie comedy from director Jeff Baena, avoids delving too deep into sociopolitical sentiments but instead attempts to showcases the complications and awkwardness of love and relationships.

 

Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is dead. Having died in a hiking accident after getting bit by a snake, her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) is mourning and struggling with the guilt of the shaky ground their relationship was left on. Zach visits Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), playing chess with her dad and organizing belongings into boxes with her mom. Zach is coping until Beth’s parents begin to act strange, not answering their door or communicating with him. Frustrated and wanting answers Zach spies into their home and witnesses something unbelievable, Beth alive and walking around in the house.

 

Aubrey Plaza has proven capable in small roles like a supporting spot in “Parks and Recreation” and in leading roles like “Safety Not Guaranteed”. Whether the expected deadpan sarcasm she is known for or a surprisingly heartfelt dramatic turn, Plaza has displayed potential range. She shows these qualities quite well in “Life After Beth”. After returning from death, Beth is oblivious to her demise and confused about her past. All she is sure of is her relationship with Zach and an unexplained test that she has to prepare for. Baena, who also wrote the script, touches on some interesting relationship ideas. Zach is offered the fortunate position of amending his regrets with Beth, but just as relationships change so has death changed Beth. She isn't the same, and the narrative builds this up comically with uncomfortable private moments that find the highly affectionate couple struggling with intimacy, like a funny moment where Zach has difficulty kissing Beth because of her unpleasant breath. But there are also moments of tension and fury involving Beth, who is confused emotionally and increasingly agitated at the people trying to control her.

 

Unfortunately the interesting themes of love and relationship are clouded by forced comedy. In one scene involving a funny and unexpected cameo, the timing feels unneeded at that particular moment in the film. This continues to happen during moments that seem to hold the most meaningful intent for the characters. While a few of these comedic breaks keep the tone from becoming too serious, it mostly functions in undermining the potential narrative insights. As the film progresses, the good ideas become more muddled and the film loses grasp on the direction it wants to go and the statement it wants to make.

 

“Life After Beth” can be quite humorous in parts, displaying a charming touch of comedy amidst some inventive genre touches. DeHaan and Plaza shine in the leading roles, with good support from the assisting cast, however the film struggles with finding a direction to go and balance between when it should be insightful and when it should be funny.

 

Monte’s Rating

2.50 out of 5.00

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

sin citySin City: A Dame To Kill For  

Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

Starring: Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Meloni, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Dennis Haysbert, Bruce Willis, and Christopher Lloyd

 

102 Minutes

Rated R

From Miramax Films

 

By Monte Yazzie (www.thecodafilms.com)

 

In 2005 director Robert Rodriquez transformed author Frank Miller’s neo-noir graphic novel “Sin City” into a stunning, cutting-edge film. Rodriguez, adoringly making a living comic book, utilized a groundbreaking mix of digital style and animated renderings. “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For” is a continuing story involving old and new characters. Miller, who also co-directed, utilizes an established story as inspiration but also includes two new tales. The narrative, somewhat fragmented, is again a gritty crime noir piece with intensified aesthetics of violence, sex, and revenge. Rodriguez and Miller keep everything relatively familiar, though “Dame” wields uncompromising style into every scene it doesn’t demand much more.

 

No one is innocent in Sin City. Some familiar faces still dodging their demise, but also a few new ones looking for trouble, journey about Sin City’s desperate streets. Nancy (Jessica Alba) hasn’t been the same since the suicide of her protector in the first film, a cop named Hartigan (Bruce Willis). An early image of a lost Nancy, scantily clad with a bottle of hard liquor and a handgun, is the descriptive sum of themes for the film. Her plight of desperation and revenge is one echoed throughout the mirage of extravagant visual style and outlandish violence. Nancy’s entrancing dance has a purposeful aggression this time around; her vengeful sights are squarely set on the powerfully corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Willis makes a welcome cameo as a ghostlike guardian of sorts, while Boothe shines in an unpleasant role within two of the stories. The narrative struggles with keeping the shifting stories interesting. Especially Nancy’s story which unfortunately gets lost amongst the others but displayed potential of being the most interesting because of the characters extensive arc within the world.

 

Just like the first incarnation, “Dame” weaves storylines throughout each other with Nancy’s dive bar workplace playing the community intersection for the stories. Marv (Mickey Rourke) a bruising and bruised staple in the degenerate packed tavern watches over Nancy, but visitors are always welcome. This includes a cocky gambler named Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is playing a dangerous hand during a card game with Senator Roark. While Dwight (Josh Brolin replacing Clive Owen), a returning character from the first film, seeks retribution after deadly dealings with a femme fatale (Eva Green). The cast, even some unmentioned here, are exceptional throughout. Rourke in full comic makeup seems tailored to play Marv’s brawly presence. Gordon-Levitt is also good, squaring off against Boothe in a flow of tough guy sentiments and power gestures that are heightened in the realm of a poker game. Brolin, always interesting to watch, seems somewhat overshadowed playing opposite the best performance in the film by Eva Green. Green’s hyper sexualized performance as Ava seems to share all the best attributes of villainous women all wrapped into her character. Vulnerability and voluptuous beauty utilized to make men into her controlled marionettes.

 

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” continues its seedy sex and violence fueled tale with the same unique visual style established in the original nearly ten years ago. While the style and story are not entirely fresh, Frank Miller’s knack for constructing interesting characters and Rodriguez’s capable skill as a director keeps a relatively average sequel entertaining enough for those ready for another trip to Sin City.

 

Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00