5 Reasons the 'Ash vs. Evil Dead' Trailer Gave Me Wood

By: Heather Seebach

Full disclosure: I don't have a penis. So when I say "gave me wood" I am in fact referring to my metaphorical girl boner; and seeing as Cheryl "got wood" in the original Evil Dead (ouch), it seemed a fitting choice of words...

Shit, where was I? 

ASH VS. EVIL DEAD!! The sequel we all hoped for (but never actually believed would happen) finally has a trailer!! And if my Facebook feed is any indication, the world is having the same reaction as me to this new trailer. That is to say, I necronomi-came in my pants!! Here's why:

1) Ashley J. Williams

 Duh, right? Everyone's favorite smartass loser is back in top form! Ash still has the shit-eating grin and the one-liners. I love that he still works as stockboy in a retail store and lives in a trailer. He's the same lazy ladies man he was 30 years ago. Chances are, he's even more selfish and cantankerous than he was then...I can't wait! As for his deadite-slaying skills, well, some things you never forget...

Yo, she-bitch....let's go!

2) The Icons

 Being a Sam Raimi fangirl, I get "thirsty" just looking at that 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88! "The Classic" is very much an iconic part of the Evil Dead franchise - hell, it's practically its own character! S-Mart seems to have been replaced by ValueStop which will no doubt be explained. Furthermore, we get the chainsaw,  the boomstick, the Necronomicon, and Ash's iconic blue shirt, which he seemingly wears under his work uniform at all times - I LOVE that! 

The Classic Look

3) The Gore

The trailer is not without a bit of digitally-enhanced gore but overall it looks fantastic and practical! Thank fuck this series is on Starz so the showrunners can go all-out with the nastiness! True to the original films, there is gallons and gallons of grue! And true to Sam Raimi's twisted fetish, that blood is typically being regurgitated into someone's mouth/face. Personally, I'm hoping for a ridiculously oversized blood flood Evil Dead 2 style! 

You got a little something on your face...

4) The Deadites

While I did not hate the look of the deadites in 2013's Evil Dead, I am overjoyed to see this installment return to the classic make-up style. Just look at that old she-bitch in the photo above - she's got deadite Linda's stance down just right! Looks like we can expect lots of extreme camera angles and blowing wind as well! There IS one strange exception in the trailer...

Is that you, Doug Jones?
Looks far more like something out of Resident Evil than Evil Dead, no? I'm assuming it's some sort of deadite. Per Army of Darkness, we know they can take on strange, non-humanoid forms (winged demons and whatnot), so I am open-minded. Whatever it is, it's scary-looking!

5) The Raimi Effect

 Sam's been giving us teases of his old tricks in Spider-Man 2, Drag Me to Hell, and even Oz The Great and Powerful but now he gets to play in the bloody sandbox again, if only for one glorious episode. The trailer alone is chock-full of Raimi's hyperactive style, including that amusing montage of Ash's squeezing into a corset. I suspect the majority of the footage we see in the trailer is from Sam's premiere episode. It's loaded with his influence, from the old lady's finger nail aimed for someone's eyeball, to the killer plastic doll. Sam's cornball sense of humor is quite intact and I can't wait to see him play with this world again!!

Don't swallow her like you did the mini-Ashes!

Needless to say, the trailer is fucking awesome and I am beyond excited for this show! I get the impression Raimi & co. are shooting to make original fans happy as well as lure new fans (note the trailer music is from the 2013 Evil Dead film trailer). I am happy with both, and I sincerely hope this series will bring joy to the bitter black hearts of all the whinging fanboys and girls (ah, who am I kidding?). Either way, I'm going to sing its praises from here til Halloween and hope it doesn't prove me wrong. Good...bad...I'm the one with the keyboard. 

Review: The Reconstruction of William Zero

By: Heather Seebach

The last few years have seen a rise in arthouse sci-fi dramas with films like Another Earth, Upstream Color, and The Sound of My Voice. The latest takes a look at the moral implications of cloning in The Reconstruction of William Zero. This indie from writer/director Dan Bush (The Signal) boasts mumlegore veterans like AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz. It touches on some interesting ethical topics but ultimately falls short of a being profound science fiction. 

Conal Byrne stars as William Blakely, a geneticist struggling with the death of his young son and the subsequent estrangement of his wife. He awakes from a coma under the care of his twin brother but soon realizes that nothing is what it seems. While searching to piece together his life and his identity, shady corporate types and nosy neighbors make things complicated (and occasionally bloody).

The film wastes no time leaping into the meat of the story but its hastiness is unfortunately a hindrance to it. Logic is often side-stepped and characters not fully fleshed-out. Roles like that of AJ Bowen are essentially useless (tragically, as Bowen deserves better). Seimetz' role too as William's wife is woefully underused. The primary antagonists known only as "the men upstairs" (including The Walking Dead's Melissa McBride) are vague and unnecessary.

The story often feels rushed and its holes patched up with excessive exposition. It is a shame because William Zero looks sharp and explores some fascinating scientific, philosophical, and ethical issues. Primary themes include the individual rights of clones and the parallels of parenthood and cloning. And in the leading role, Byrne (who also co-wrote) chews a bit of scenery but gives a very solid standout performance as multiple different personalities.

Dan Bush continues to be one-to-watch on the genre scene. This one may lack the compelling script and characters of The Signal (in which Bush directed Transmission III) but it looks fantastic. In summary, it's an attractive thriller hinged on a strong lead and neat ideas but ultimately it succumbs to half measures.

The Reconstruction of William Zero hits select theaters and VOD on April 10, 2015.

10 Things I Love About 'It Follows'

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers**

I slacked on writing a review when I saw this film a few weeks ago but after second viewing - and many discussions about this film - I've decided to give a rundown of what I like so much about David Robert Mitchell's It Follows (in lazy list format). Here goes, in no particular order:

10. The Characters

They feel REAL. Teenagers of just about any generation can relate to the characters in this movie. There is no need for generic horror archetypes here - the slut, the virgin, etc. - just average kids who sneak beer and play cards on the porch when mom's asleep. Speaking of, I love the way we never really see Jay and Kelly's mother. She is glimpsed only as the back of a head, a pair of feet, a voice, etc. There is no doubt subtext regarding her absence in their lives and how that ties into adolescent confusion but from a filmmaking standpoint, it reminds us that this movie is all about the teenagers (which I love).

9. The Cinematography

 It Follows thrives on building anxiety and dread. One of the ways it achieves that is through clever use of the camera. Whether its creeping along a suburban Michigan street or attached to a wheelchair, the camera builds suspense effectively. Perhaps the film's signature shot is the circular pan, used in the opening scene as well as that memorable Lawson High School scene. Not only is it a cool effect, catching only a brief spinning glimpse of what's behind you, but it generally gives the claustrophobic feeling of something following.

8. The Slow Burn

The primary complaint I hear from people who dislike this film is "boring." I suppose everyone has a different tolerance level but personally I never felt it was boring. If you only find terror in the jump scares, or the moments when the score ramps up and something thrilling happens, well, I can't help you. For me, some of the scariest moments occurred when very little was even happening. That is the very essence of suspense, the ability to hold dread and tension over your audience continuously. The fact that my eyes were constantly searching the background for "it" speaks volumes.

7. The Timelessness

The production designers deliberately made the film seem "out of time." While the music screams 80s, much of the set design implies 70s. Then there are the old black-and-white monster movies the teenagers are always watching, juxtapositioned with Yara's very modern (albeit nonexistent) Kindle-like clamshell device. It's a bit of an odd mash-up but it effectively keeps you guessing when this story is meant to take place. While timelessness is good for any film, this one really goes out of its way to keep the viewer guessing, which leads me to #6....

6. The Ambiguity 

 Want a movie that explains everything for you? This is not it. The final act in particular leaves a lot open to interpretation. Did Jay have sex with those guys on the boat? Was "Hugh" wrong about the rules? What's with all the blood in the pool? Did Jay and Paul resign to live together with "it" always, or did they really believe they had killed it? The way their sex scene immediately follows the pool scene led me to believe they believed "it" to still be alive (not sure why though), whereas the person I saw the film with interpreted it exactly the opposite. He believed they finally made love because they believed "it" was gone, but that doesn't explain the chair up against the door. Or was that simply for privacy? Who knows!! Let's not forget that quick shot of Paul checking out street hookers afterwards - he was clearly considering "passing it on." I believe in that final shot of them holding hands, they are completely aware "it" is still after them, but they are stronger together. Yara's line from The Idiot about death being certain also seems to suggest that. They realize they cannot escape it and instead choose to face it together, come what may.

5. The Fearlessness

It Follows is relatively devoid of gore (save for that striking beach shot) but it has other ways of making the viewer uneasy. It's not often that a modern horror movie has a shit-ton of nudity and almost no blood. The naked human body is used frequently to create discomfort, while also representing the anxiety of sexual awakening in adolescence. The creature no doubt chooses those forms to disturb its victim, especially when assuming the visage of a family member. The scene when Greg's "mother" rapes and kills him is by far the film's most disturbing moment. It is comprised of roughly three shots - her leg sliding up and down his; her hips grinding against him; and their hands entwined - and those are three shots I wish I could scrub out of my brain! That scene is ten kinds of wrong and genuinely shocked me. I'm a gorehound but gore is rarely as ballsy as that!

4. The Originality

 Let's face it: we are all sick of remakes, reboots, half-assed sequel/prequels, endless found footage movies, and so on. That is not to say some of it isn't fun but very little in modern horror feels original anymore. I am not going to be a quote whore or beat you over the head with hype saying It Follows is the reinvention of horror or some such hyperbole but here is what the film actually is - unique! Like great genre film should, it approaches the non-horror themes - sex and adolescence - primarily and sincerely. In the process, Mitchell is able to present a simple but effective menace that may be reminiscent of Halloween's "The Shape" in its tenacity but has a method of transmission more akin to a curse or virus - and one that ties beautifully into the non-horror themes.

3. The Unsupernatural

The supernatural elements were not all that made me feel uneasy. For me, the scariest moment of the film did not even involve the monster. It was when Jay and "Hugh" just had sex and she is recounting youthful innocence when, at her most open and vulnerable (emotionally and physically), she is attacked with chloroform. The confusion, betrayal, and fear in her eyes, in that moment - ugh. Obviously, his intentions were not particularly nefarious but it was disturbing all the same, maybe particularly for me as a woman. Other little details, like the young boys who keep spying on Jay in her swimwear/underwear, are enough to make a girl feel uneasy. Of course that is precisely the idea - to instill the feeling of being stalked even without the "it."

2. The Score

Even if you did not enjoy the film, how about that score, right?! Who doesn't love some good 80s synth? The sweet Carpenter-esque tunes come courtesy of Disasterpeace. The music is largely responsible for how tightly my hands were gripping the armrest without me even realizing it. At times, it creeps along eerily like in "Inquiry" then gradually ramps up, taking your heartbeat along for the ride! My personal favorite is the very slasher-esque "Heels" that opens the film. There are beautiful moody, chiptune-y pieces like "Jay" as well. Do yourself a favor - listen and buy RIGHT HERE!

1. The "It"

Not since Resolution have I seen a modern horror creature that felt this new. As discussed above, it's very original and naturally creepy. Since it could take on ANY form, I never knew what to expect next! That is a rare treat in a horror film, to know just as little as the protagonist about what you will see when she turns that corner or opens that door. The choices of form were fantastic as well - from the very creepy "giant" to Jay's (presumably) dead father launching electronics at her head. There are attempts to explain or give rules to the "it" but, as Mitchell himself admits, they are flawed because they are limited to what the character knows. The origin and workings of the monster are never truly explained nor should they be! The best monsters are unstoppable and unexplainable, and this one seems to have both qualities in spades!

Review: 'Headless'

By: Bradley Hadcroft

In 2012, Scott Schirmer gave us independent horror hit Found - now he is back, heavily involved with the brand new underground gore fest, Headless. Helmed by the special effects supervisor of Found, Arthur Cullipher, this flick will test even the most dedicated followers of the fucked-up. 

Giving a whole new meaning to "Found footage", the idea here was to re-craft Headless, the film-within-a-film that features in Found, as a stand-alone project. The premise of presenting it as an unearthed grindhouse classic -  complete with fake date (1978), faux pre-main feature trailer (the hilarious "Wolf Baby") and distressed film stock - may not be wholly original but it is startlingly authentic in its execution.

The acting is cringe-worthy at times, while the soundtrack is appropriately eclectic and uneven in tone (which I loved). The misogyny meter is cranked all the way up to eleven. Relationships are only vaguely fleshed out before the real business of ripping flesh begins. Breasts are exposed whilst roller-skating; drugs are consumed with excessive abandon; and crudeness and profanity pepper the at-times hilarious dialogue. There is much, much more reflecting the grindhouse experience in this unruly beast of a flick but I will not labor the point as half the fun is being exposed to the madness first-hand.

Review: 'The Guest'

By: Heather Seebach

The world rightfully stood up and took notice of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett with last year's hit You're Next but the duo has been churning out quality thrillers for years and their latest is no exception. The Guest effortlessly oozes cool thanks to its charmingly creepy lead Dan Stevens and a John Carpenter motif that would make any 80s horror fan a little horny.

Stevens plays David Collins, a recently discharged American soldier who shows up at the home of his fallen comrade. The grieving family welcomes the young man to stay with them but daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) is suspicious of the mysterious stranger. Before long, the soft-spoken David has shaken up the Peterson family in unexpected ways.

Right from the opening title card, this film wears its Carpenter influence with pride. Surprisingly enough, it draws the biggest inspiration from Halloween, though The Guest does not directly feel like a horror film. Michael Myers was originally known as "The Shape", a moniker that could suit "David Collins" just as well - another nameless stranger coming "home" for the holiday. Keep your eyes peeled for the blink-and-miss-it reference to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch!

There are also shades of Michael Mann throughout. The film's climax in particular, with its vibrant colors and thumping synth music, lulls you into a (Tangerine) dream. The soundtrack is comprised of goth/electronic/synth pop from the 80s to present, including the likes of Clan of Xymox, Survive, and Sisters of Mercy. You WILL be running to buy/download the OST immediately after watching this movie. It's that great, and demands a vinyl release!

In the titular role, Stevens is virtually unrecognizable to anyone who knows him from Downton Abbey. He slips into the role - and the American accent - with ease. Cool as the entire film is, I could get lost just watching his subtle expression changes. He has the same sort of seductive-but-deadly charm that Matthew Goode had in Stoker. Stevens has the face of a boy-next-door but the icy blue eyes of a psychopath, setting up the viewer in the perfect position, asking, Can we trust him? One person who says no is Anna (above), played by Maika Monroe. Once again, Simon Barrett has written a lead female who is no stereotype or "final girl." While Anna may seem like perfect jail-bait material to the equally sexy David, she is in fact a savvy young woman who sees through his bullshit.

Wingard and Barrett continue to prove they are no one-trick-ponies, taking a wide step away from last year's animal mask sensation for this quieter, trippier film. Still, fans of You're Next can expect at least two fun references and a cameo from a Wingard alumnus here. With its 80s-tastic visual flair, synth soundtrack, and Dan "British Ryan Gosling" Stevens, The Guest constantly brings to mind one word: "Cool." Even if you think you are burnt-out on the 80s/Carpenter/synth revival in horror as of late, take my advice and make room for one more!

The Guest is available On Demand, and hits DVD/Blu-ray January 6th, 2015. Special features include deleted scenes, Q&A with Dan Stevens, and commentary with Wingard and Barrett. 

Review: The Walking Dead - 'Slabtown'

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers about S5E4**

As I live and breathe, I don't believe it - a good bottle episode! About BETH! I'm learning that I am in the minority who actually liked this episode, which surprises me. This one finally revealed what became of Beth after that mysterious car with the cross in the window kidnapped her. Thankfully it also put to rest that ridiculous theory that Gabriel took her. Despite not involving any of the other main characters, I enjoyed the hell out of Slabtown! It is full of menace, tension, and mystery, and presents a side of humanity that would absolutely exist in the post-apocalypse.

Beth wakes up at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. The last thing she remembers is fighting a walker alongside Daryl but her captors tell her they saved her life. And because of that, they add (very creepily), "So you owe us." This group of survivors is led by a cop named Dawn, who runs the hospital with her fellow male officers, alongside some patients and a single doctor. The entire time Beth is there, she is made to feel she "owes" something, which kicks off the eerie, rapey vibe right from the beginning.

 The little mysteries add up quickly - Was Beth truly found by these people after she was taken? Why does Dawn so badly want to save that man? What the fuck is going on with Joan? What is Dawn hiding? Who's ID is that? All these are soon answered but I found myself wrapped up in the little vague details.  Then you have slap-happy Dawn (who clearly has a screw loose) and the doctor who is a little too nice. Despite having only just met these characters, I was interested! Do I want a whole subplot dedicated to them? FUCK NO, but for a stand-alone episode, it adequately pulled me in.

 This episode was light on zombies but I have never been one to mind that. Give me human enemies on The Walking Dead any day! Beth faces not only liars and rapists here but a dictator-like leader who deliberately allows it all to continue for "the greater good." I absolutely believe there would be people this naive in such a post-catastrophe situation - idiots who think rescue is coming and anything that happens until then is justified. Those people are way scarier to me than zombies. But for you gore lovers - how about that cheese wire amputation, though?! Guhh.

This almost-idyllic little hospital community is very interesting, albeit maybe a little redundant after Terminus. Like Terminus, its dark side is exposed rather quickly but perhaps that is for the better. Perhaps the writers learned after Woodbury that there is no use in dragging out that "Is this town really safe?" stuff - the answer is always a resounding NO. Inside Grady Memorial, Dawn is queen and the police are her worker bees. I like how Noah explained that they left his father behind because he was "big and strong." Of course, that sort of trait would usually be encouraged in a world overrun by zombies but Dawn & co. only want weak people they can control. I think this hierarchy is an interesting notion we haven't quite seen on TWD before, and I'm pleased to meet a new anti-Rick, especially a female one. Even the idea of a self-contained community set inside a hospital, where the floor level is blocked off by walkers, is kinda awesome!

Slabtown addresses interesting ethical issues and backs them up with some tight dialogue. My favorite exchange was between Beth and Dawn (Bechdel would be proud). Dawn verbally bitch-slaps Beth with everything we the viewer have hated about Beth all along! "You are not the greater good. Out there, you are nothing - you are dead or somebody's burden." Dawn also describes their unnerving "system" wherein the "wards" must keep the officers happy for their survival. Rapey as the Governor was, even he wasn't doing this sort of thing! The fact that it is a woman (and an officer of the law) makes it all the more disturbing." To quote Joan (with another solid line): "She can control them but she doesn't because it's easier...it's easy to make a deal with the devil when you're not the one paying the price."

So Beth decides to make her escape with Noah but first she has to fend off gropey Gorman using the undead corpse of Joan who has seemingly killed herself (?). Did you notice the "fuck you" carved into the floor? I guess she had every intention of coming back and wreaking zombie havoc! Then Beth and Noah go down the elevator shaft, through the nasty cadaver pile (amazingly without so much as a dry heave), and out to the hospital parking lot. That is where we get confirmation that these people did indeed abduct Beth (as evidenced by the crosses on all the vehicles). And just when it looks like Beth is gonna leave the Noah the sucker (no pun intended) behind, he goes and bails on her! Ha, sucks to be Beth!

Review: The Walking Dead - 'Four Walls and a Roof'

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers about episode S5E3**

The fifth season continues its gritty charge forward with this solid third episode. It begins by delivering on the scene we comic book fans were so excited to see play out: TAINTED MEAT!! Of course, it wasn't Bob in the comics but otherwise, it happened pretty much the same. That's a hard bit of monologue to pull off convincingly, too. Kudos, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr!

  In that opening scene, I also enjoyed the symbolic shot of Gareth's reflection in the window among the walkers. A bit obvious, sure, but a poignant moment that encapsulates the Terminus cannibals and how they are essentially no different than the zombies. In fact, they're probably worse because they chose to be this way.

Once the cannibals realize Bob is "tainted meat", they return him to the church and there is a walker attack. This is when one very intriguing moment occurs - someone out in the woods shoots a zombie and saves Rick from a distance. When first watching it, my boyfriend immediately interpreted that as the Termites stopping their food from being picked off too soon. I, on the other hand, immediately assumed it was Morgan, watching over them! I still lean toward my interpretation because we know Morgan is a skilled sniper! I guess this one will remain a mystery for now. If you saw it differently, please comment below and tell me why!

With Bob dying and the safety of the church compromised, Abraham & co. decide to leave. There is that great almost-showdown between Rick and Abraham. "You're not taking the bus." Shame we didn't get to see them fight! Rick gives the best Give No Fucks faces, doesn't he? We see it again when he gets the jump on Gareth & co. later in the church. How badass was that?! "Put your guns on the floor and KNEEL!" Single sexiest thing Rick Grimes has ever said - unf! Second and third might be, "We didn't want to waste the bullets" and "I already made you a promise..." respectively!

What happens next plays out very closely to the comic books. Rick's group brings the cannibals to their knees, blowing off the leader's fingers and making him beg for their lives. They then proceed to brutally butcher the Hunters/Termites with bladed weapons. It was a powerful scene in both the books and the show, so much so that it (along with "tainted meat!") was #1 on my list of TWD plots I wanted to see adapted on the show.

So Michonne gets her kitana back, Bob dies, and Abraham's crew leaves for DC. Meh. For me, this episode is ALL about the comic book moments. I did appreciate Abraham's little note, though: "The new world is gonna need Rick Grimes." I liked that because it's the first we've really seen of the Rick-Abraham dynamic from the comics. I hope there is more of that in the near future. 

The episode ends on a genuine cliffhanger - I can't even remember the last time one left me wanting more! Daryl returns from chasing Beth's kidnappers, and when asked about Carol, gets a solemn look on his face. But he is not alone. Who is it?! Beth? Carol? A third person?? I am genuinely curious, especially given the preview for next week's where we see Beth has been god-knows-where! Mostly, I fear for Carol. I am just starting to love this fucking character, don't kill her off now!!

I'd say this is my second favorite of the three episodes so far this season. The premiere is still the strongest but this had some great, bad-ass moments, and it actually left me wanting to know what's next (which is rare for The Walking Dead). 

Recap: Exhumed Films' 24-Hour Horror-thon VIII - PART 2

By: Heather Seebach

This past weekend, cult-film enthusiasts Exhumed Films held their annual 24-Hour Horror-thon at the International House Philadelphia. This event runs from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday, screening non-stop 35mm horror films and trailers! This is only my second-time attending the event, but the first time I was able to stay from beginning to end (thanks to my late arrival last year). I'm proud to say I stayed awake for all FIFTEEEN films, save for the occasional nodding off for a few minutes. And what an impressive line-up it was!

As always with the Horror-thon, the titles are kept secret until they show up on-screen. We were given hints, however, which I will list below with each blurb. Overall, this was another stellar Horror-thon with a diverse blend of cult favorites and little-seen gems, all in glorious 35mm!


The Clue: "Infamous and brutal 1970s gore/exploitation film that lives up (or down?) to its reputation as one of the sleaziest, most disturbing films of all time."

The Movie: The Last House on Dead End Street (1977, d: Roger Watkins)

Apparently a lot of the Exhumed audience hated this one which surprises me! I suppose that's because it's not a so-bad-its-good laugh riot like most other screened films? This one is a pseudo-documentary-style horror flick about a drug dealer who decides to make his mark on the world with snuff films. It's akin to later, gritty stuff like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Man Bites Dog. I was particularly reminded of the latter and, honestly, I prefer this one to MBD. There is no tongue-in-cheek "Feel bad about yourself for liking this evil person!" stuff, it's just nasty people being nasty. Yes, it can drag at times but its blackest, goriest, and creepiest moments are sure to leave a stain on your soul.


The Clue: "Ridiculously inept, anachronistic 'period piece' horror film from a divisive director folks tend to love or hate...or love to hate."

The Movie: Guru the Mad Monk (1970, d: Andy Milligan)

This is another film during which I grabbed a little nap but it's a wacky one set in the 15th century, where the titular mad monk uses a vampire lady and a hunchback (named Igor, obviously) to carry out nasty deeds for him. Aaaand something to do with a prison guard who wants to save his condemned-to-die girlfriend, who was accused of killing her miscarried gypsy-rape baby. Yeah - don't ask. All I remember from this 4AM screening is how flubbed lines were left in the movie (always good for a laugh), Guru the monk bitch-slapping someone, and how hands can easily be chopped off by lightly tapping one's wrists with an axe.


 The Clue: "Goofy, absurd, yet strangely charming 1970s creature feature."

The Movie: Bog (1983, d: Don Keeslar)

My short naps continued to fade in and out for this early-morning movie so all I can definitively tell you is it's about an aquatic monster that is awoken by redneck dynamite fishing. A scientist and the town sheriff battle the thing, along with victims' husbands. There are some really unintentionally-funny moments, often thanks to abrupt cutting between scenes or the really bad love scene. Good luck getting this song out of your head:


The Clue: "Gruesome, satirical horror/exploitation favorite."

The Movie: Mother's Day (1980, d: Charles Kaufman) 

I may have been slipping into a gradual slumber during the last two flicks but this one woke me right up! Mother's Day is a ton of fun, especially for a film with a rape scene in it! Three female college roommates get together to reminisce in Deep Barrows Wilderness Park but of course they are not alone. They are kidnapped by two sick young men and their psychotic mother. Produced by Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman and directed by his brother Charles, this film works so well because the victims are actually likable with backstory, and the villains don't take themselves too seriously. It's full of humor, and takes subtle satirical jabs at rapesploitation while setting up camp for itself in that subgenre. Too many memorable scenes to name - just a fun, fun movie.


The Clue: "Clever and enjoyable supernatural 'sequel-in-name-only' that may actually bit a biy better than the original."

The Movie: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987, d: Bruce Pittman)

Speaking of fun movies, we got a one-two punch with Mother's Day followed by this! I was particularly delighted Hello Mary Lou was on the Horror-thon roster because I've been wanting to revisit it and confirm a scene that I once thought was from a Nightmare on Elm Street film. It did not occur to me before how much this one kinda has a Nightmare vibe to it - especially that freaky fucking rocking horse! Anyway, this sequel (unrelated though it may be) is awesome as hell, with gore abound, clever kills, and a villainess I want to be when I grow up!


The Clue: "Obscure, gory 1908s slasher film."

The Movie: Blood Rage (aka Nightmare at Shadow Woods, 1987, d: John Grissmer)

For me, this was possibly the stand-out gem of the marathon just because it was completely new to me - and SO much fun! There are countless big laughs - some intentional, some not. It's a rare treat (for me) to find a slasher film where I look forward to each kill and they deliver every. damn. time. Hands and heads are lopped off with hilarious results. One guy even orgasms when he dies. It's great. As the hammy killer and his innocent twin brother, Mark Soper played both roles so well that I didn't even know it was the same actor until the final scene! "That is NOT cranberry sauce!" is my new favorite catchphrase. Bonus: Ted Raimi is in this movie.


The Clue: "Totally awesome, totally creepy 'Animals Attack' movie"

The Movie: Kingdom of the Spiders (1977, d: John 'Bud' Cardos)

While not a bad movie, this one felt the looooongest to me, by far. Perhaps it's because it was the penultimate film in this loooong marathon, but most likely it's because it's kinda boring. The tarantulas are not even a remote threat until 3/4 into the film! Prior to that, it's Shatner trying to get in a woman's pants and dead cows. That's it. Eventually, we get to enjoy Shat doing what he does best - chew scenery, but gaaaawd, it dragged for a while there. The highlight of the film: Woody Strode's on-screen wife blowing her own fingers off trying to shoot a spider. Lowlight: Watching a shit-ton of real tarantulas be crushed for a movie. Not cool.


The Clue: "Zombie movie fan favorite that should be a fun film to finish the festival."

The Movie: Night of the Creeps (1986, d: Fred Dekker)

I imagine some audience members might've let out a groan at such a "familiar" title - or bailed out early for the same reason - but c'mon, it's Night of the fucking Creeps! It's AWESOME! I stayed and enjoyed every moment as if it were the first time. The humor, the gore, the genre references - never get old! What other film has a serial killer, zombies, aliens, and parasitic brain slugs?! And Tom fucking Atkins, of course! Would you believe, I still discovered something I never noticed before - the fact that the black cat is named Gordon, much like all the other characters named for horror directors. That particular one - and the meaning behind it (cat dead, details later....) - somehow passed me by previously!

Recap: Exhumed Films' 24-Hour Horror-thon VIII - PART 1

By: Heather Seebach

This past weekend, cult-film enthusiasts Exhumed Films held their annual 24-Hour Horror-thon at the International House Philadelphia. This event runs from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday, screening non-stop 35mm horror films and trailers! This is only my second-time attending the event, but the first time I was able to stay from beginning to end (thanks to my late arrival last year). I'm proud to say I stayed awake for all FIFTEEEN films, save for the occasional nodding off for a few minutes. And what an impressive line-up it was!

As always with the Horror-thon, the titles are kept secret until they show up on-screen. We were given hints, however, which I will list below with each blurb. Overall, this was another stellar Horror-thon with a diverse blend of cult favorites and little-seen gems, all in glorious 35mm!

MOVIE #1: 

The Clue: "Stylish, star-studded cosmic horror film worthy of rediscovery."

The Answer: The Keep (1983, d: Michael Mann)

My best guess based on that clue was The Visitor but I kinda figured that one has been played to death elsewhere already. Fortunately, it was actually this visually-pleasing treat from Michael Mann. Set in 1941 in the Carpathian Mountains, Jürgen Prochnow leads a squad of German soldiers who set up camp in an abandoned citadel. Some thieving soldiers inadvertently unleash an ancient being that was being held there. The creature seeks the help of Ian McKellan, a dying Jewish man. This movie is so deliciously Mann - the colors, music, smoke, and slow-motion - and the creature itself look amazing (in multiple stages)! The cast is great, though Scott Glenn in the "lead" is worthless and probably could have been written out entirely except that mysterious, intergalactic travelers are a staple of films such as this. Still, his wannabe Lance Henriksen face creeped me out.


The Clue: "Influential Asian horror movie that created its own subgenre."

The Movie: Black Magic (1975, d: Meng Hua Ho)

 This Shaw Brothers production, also called Jiang tou, kicked off the trend of "black magic" Hong Kong films that includes titles like The Boxer's Omen and Devil Fetus. This one is about dark magic magician and his series of idiotic customers who each want to make someone fall in love with them. It starts to turn into a weird episode of Three's Company about brainwashing. It's a wacky slice of entertainment for fans of HK cinema though bad movie enthusiasts will also find plenty to chuckle at. This one is full of unintentionally hilarious moments, like a reference to how a woman has 'got milk' or the scene-stealing German shepherd who is way happier than any guard dog should be.


The Clue: "Quite possibly the dumbest giant monster movie ever made."

The Movie: Godzilla's Revenge (1969, d: Ishirô Honda)

That clue was pretty damn accurate. This one is technically a Godzilla film but it's actually a shitty after-school special disguised as a kaiju movie. In it, the fat little kid from Pixar's Up daydreams about visiting Monster Island, where he meets Godzilla's creepy, pedophilic-looking "son" named Minya (see photo above). We are also introduced to Gabara, who is probably the most obnoxious Godzilla enemy ever. By watching Godzilla & son take on monsters, the little boy learns how to face his own bullies at school. Terrible as it is, the film is worth a few laughs so long as you remember there is very little Godzilla and absolutely no revenge.


The Clue: "Earnest entry in an iconic horror movie series that doesn't live up to its predecessors but is still superior to the terrible sequels and do-overs that followed." 

The Movie: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990, d: Jeff Burr)

This is a fantastic sequel, and an interesting one because it's surprisingly light on gore. Instead, it boasts some genuinely creepy moments like our introduction to the Sawyers in this film. The little girl with the doll in that creepy room of bones is terrifying. What could have been a cheap splatterfest actually builds a lot of tension and makes its characters - both the heroes and villains - likeable! It also pays subtle tribute to its predecessors (like the photographs at the mass grave). Earnest though it may be, TCM3 is not without a sense of humor. Leatherface playing with the electronic child's toy is still hilarious. The film also has a solid cast, notably the insanely sexy Viggo Mortensen.


The Clue: "Fun, rarely screened sci-fi horror inspired by 1950s atomic monster movies."

The Movie: Blue Monkey (1987, d: William Fruet)

Who the fuck thought Blue Monkey was a good name for this film about a giant, mutated bug attacking a hospital?! Steve Railsback stars as a police detective who is stuck in the hospital when a parasite breaks out and puts the whole place into quarantine. It's not a very good film but it's amusing, especially if you like creature features. It shamelessly apes Alien but the creature FX are good and the occasional gore moment delivers. 


The Clue: "Creepy 'living dead' fan favorite"

The Movie: Pet Sematary (1989, Mary Lambert)

This movie was my opportunity to go get dinner and take a piss but of course I can tell you from previous experience that it's one of the better Stephen King adaptations that still instills fear to this day. The last third in particular - Zelda; the achilles tendon slice; reanimated Gage - is horrifying stuff. This one always delivers and what a treat to see it on 35mm!

Review: The Walking Dead: 'Strangers'

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers about S5E2. Do not read without first watching the episode**

This second episode was not nearly as strong as the premiere but it saw the introduction of some characters and moments very familiar to fans of the comic books, no doubt due in some part to Robert Kirkman himself penning this one.

The beginning of 'Strangers' is dedicated to mending character relationships after all the chaos. Tara - who I forgot was even in this show - makes good with Rick and Maggie. Tyreese forgives Carol. Sasha and Bob are suddenly in a relationship (convenient timing - more on that later). There is also more talk about Eugene's plan for DC and the so-called cure (we all know by now he's full of shit, right?).

Then we are introduced to Gabriel, who comic book fans should recognize:

Though a few things are out of order, Gabriel's introduction to the story is pretty much right on schedule. It seems Kirkman is planning to follow his backstory pretty closely, based on those knife marks on the side of the church. I'm already loving Seth Gilliam as Gabriel - he brings just the right combination of cowardice and untrustworthiness.

I am most curious as to how this all ties into Beth's abduction. Ever since we first spotted the cross on the back of that vehicle, fans have been speculating about Gabriel. That theory never made much sense to me, however, since the priest is pretty harmless. That is not to say the show's writers couldn't have other plans in mind for him. I had simply assumed that vehicle was tied to the burial home where Beth was taken, but seeing as that locale is long gone and the car resurfaces just as we meet Gabriel, well, it's no coincidence. So I'm curious to see where that goes.

The big zombie scene of the episode takes place in a food bank full of water-logged walkers. They looked good, especially that nasty one that attacked Bob:

Still, the scene did feel a bit too reminiscent of the far-superior Big Spot! scene from the season 4 premiere (where it rained zombies). Anyway, when Bob gets attacked, it's pretty much clear to us right away that he is hiding a bite, made all the more obvious by his "One more" kiss to Sasha in the church. And I figured he would get jumped by Gareth & co. outside, but I did NOT expect what followed (and what is about to follow).


Once again, fans of the comic book should be excited because we know exactly what is coming! It was actually #1 on my list of shocking plots I wanted to see from the comics! The campfire scene played out a little differently of course, with Dale:

Even more exciting than the prospect of Bob manically laughing and yelling, "Tainted meat!" is the prospect of Rick & co. brutally murdering the Terminus crew. It is a dark path that needs to be taken and I for one cannot wait!


Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but mostly that was because I get really excited when the show follows the comics closely. As much as I've always wanted the series to go its own way and give me new material, Sophia's death was really the only original moment to wow me on the level of the books. Dale's TV death came close, as well. Every other brilliant, gruesome moment happened when the writers steered back toward Kirkman's sick mind. Hell, most of the items on my aforementioned list have only recently come to fruition thanks to Gimple. So fuck it, keep the good stuff coming! I'd rather see the same storylines I already read brought to life than suffer another boring plotline like the prison virus.

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