Crash Discussions: Hodgepodge of Horror, Episode IV

PodcastimageWe dive into many hit horrors, from BANSHEE CHAPTER and OCULUS, to THE SACRAMENT and ALMOST HUMAN. And that’s just for starters! Listen in to our hodgepodge of horror discussion and get the good, the bad, and the ugly of the latest horror features.

You can also find us on iTunes.

Crash Discussions: Interview with DESOLATION’s Time to Back Out Productions Team

Billy Crash sits with Kyle Schiffert and Ryan Fox at TTBO headquarters.

Billy Crash sits with Kyle Schiffert and Ryan Fox at TTBO headquarters.

Filmmakers Kyle Schiffert and Ryan Fox, and Public Relations Director Ryan Kramer, talk about their upcoming feature DESOLATION, and Time to Back Out Productions‘ forthcoming collaboration with Tinker Films.

Crash Discussions: CRAWL OR DIE Introspective

PodcastimageBilly Crash and Jonny Numb take a closer look at the “no budget” independent sci-fi horror CRAWL OR DIE from Oklahoma Ward. We’ll explore the story, the actors, and the action, and why it’s definitely at the top of 2014’s horror list.

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Crash Discussions: Franchise of Fear: [REC]

PodcastimageWe take a look at the successful Spanish found footage franchise from Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, as well the American counterparts with QUARANTINE. In addition, we take a look at the series’ fourth installment, [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE.

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Crash Discussions: Interview with actress and producer Maria Olsen

PodcastimageThe fabulous actress/producer Maria Olsen visits again to talk about her latest 26 film projects, including the new horror/comedy, HAPPY ENDING. Don’t miss another passionate and stimulating conversation with one of the hardest working women in horror.
Don’t forget to check us out on iTunes!

Crash Video Discussions: LIGEIA director Alexander Emmert

Emmy Award winner, Alexander Emmert engages in the first THE LAST KNOCK video interview!We discuss his upcoming period piece, Edgar Allan Poe’s LIGEIA, and how it differs from other versions. Both Emmert and Billy Crash are fans of Poe, and they delve into what the story entails – and why other filmmakers got it wrong. Enjoy the video right here:

Many thanks to Alexander Emmert for suggesting the video along with cinematographer and interview director, CFA Weiss.

CRASH DISCUSSIONS: Director of the Damned Lucky McKee

Podcastimage We take a look at the renowned writer and director Lucky McKee, from his masterpiece MAY to THE WOMAN and his latest film, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE. We’ll also explore his style and themes, and how he works with cast and crew, including such notables as the amazing Angela Bettis. Don’t forget to check us out on iTunes!

Crash Discussions: Interview with Bleeding Critic

Tis a sad day when one can’t enjoy a face-to-mask conversation with a guest, but it’s Bleeding Critic Youtube Film Reviewswonderful to know that old fashioned email communication can still deliver. What follows is an interview with the Clown Prince of Horror, the captivatingly creepy, Bleeding Critic. His real name and identity are unknown. However, he offers up the chills on a regular basis with his own horrific tales, and as a patron of the genre, he promotes independent filmmakers, authors, critics, and fans.

Enjoy the brevity of Bleeding Critic:

 

When you left the acting profession, what compelled you to become bleedingcritic?

  • “Most film reviews encouraged me not to buy a cinema ticket because I was spoon fed the whole bleeding-plot. It was then natural for me to start writing. For the first time in my life I started listening to my instinct.” 

Names are the cornerstone of one’s personality. Therefore, why did you choose to be called Bleeding Critic?

  • “With all other film-critics their looks and personalities can get in the way of their work. I had to create something unique. My abattoir bleedingfilms.com was first, and when I decided my new name was to be bleedingcritic, it just fit like a glove.”

The mask you wear to conceal your identity is one of a kind. Why did you choose a clown, and one with such a specific look?

  • ” I wanted my look to be disturbing & colourful – And an original clown face would provide that creative freedom. I had so many ideas and they are all are blended into the design…I’ll never forget the first time I looked in the mirror with it. The final result was exactly how I imagined it to be. It delivered a shocking impact.”

 

You are extremely supportive of independent horror cinema and art, but what drew you to the genre?

  • “Thank you. I’ve always connected & been comfortable with horror films ever since I was a young clown.”

What was your original exposure to horror and how did it affect you?

  • “When I was told I was too young to watch a particular film, due to its adult content, curiosity suffocated me until I witnessed the forbidden. I got addicted to the excitement of not knowing what visual treat I was going to experience.”

As a critic of horror, what do you search for in a horror film?

  • “The film MARTYRS is an example of what I search for. All the essential disturbing ingredients in one imaginative & surprising package.”

What one horror stands out for you the most?

  •  “So many bleeding-memories…At this point in time the film that keeps returning to mind is MEGAN IS MISSING.”

As a former actor, are there any thespians in the horror genre that impress you? 

  • “I was very impressed by Hugh Dancy & Mads Mikkelsen’s work in the Hannibal TV series. They were both absolutely outstanding.Though to be fair they had the benefit of a great script and brilliant production team”.

The short stories you create and read from your videos have an intimacy to them as if the audience is engaging the characters close-up. In addition, your tales seem “normal” until an ugly underbelly exposes itself or the uncanny makes itself known. What made you choose this style of storytelling, and what do you hope to bring to your audience?

  • ”Thanks for that, nice observations from you. My style isn’t a ‘choice’, it’s a mix of my creativity and personality. My intention is to take people on a disturbing & uncomfortable ride that they can hopefully relate to – and think about for a while afterwards”

 

Will there be a DVD/CD available of your readings?

  • ‘This is something I would love to do, it would be bleeding-perfection. However, it’s not on my bleeding-radar at this point in time.’

Are you working on any feature length horror tales?

  • ‘I’m not working on a feature length horror tale…’

When you were on Lette’s Chat you mentioned a possible television or web broadcast. If so, when can your viewers and fans expect to see something?

  • ‘Yes, I’m so bleeding-excited that Bleeding Productions is currently developing my television program in association with one of the UK’s four main television channels. There’s no deadline. When it’s ready for broadcast I can assure you I’ll be letting everyone know about it via twitter and all through all other media.What I can reveal is that it will be televised after midnight here in the UK & probably be available to view worldwide online as well.’

What else can we look forward to from you in near future?

  • ‘Over the past 8 months, the development of my television program has been taking up all my days & nights. I’ll obviously continue with getting my bleeding-content posted on twitter @bleedingfilms, and new stories and reviews when I can actually fit them in.’

 

What hasn’t an interviewer asked of you that you wish they had? And please answer that question if you can.

  • What scares you the most’

Finally, where can people find you and connect with you?

 

(Photo of Bleeding Critic from Fanboys Anonymous.)

Crash Discussions: Blood Without Borders: Italian Horror

Podcastimage

We take a look at the “holy trinity” of Italian horror masters Argento, Fulci, and Bava, and indulge in the celebrated Giallo subgenre. During the hour, we cover everything from TENEBRE and INFERNO, to ZOMBIE and CEMETERY MAN. Ciao bella!

Check us out on iTunes and leave a review.

Crash Analysis: Best Horror Movie Remakes

Yes, like most film lovers, I hate remakes too. But don’t fall into this ludicrous trap: body13Hollywood does not indulge in remakes because there aren’t enough great scripts (or ideas) floating around. As a screenwriter, I know this all too well. I’ve read many scripts that will amaze, but will never see the light of day, unless the screenwriter chooses to make the movie on his/her own.

Hollywood (or any large “independent” studio) goes the remake route for one thing only: money. Filmmaking is a major risk, and this lackluster summer has been the worst in ten years for the movie industry. This means, new and original fair for audiences is costly. Sure, studios took risks in the past, but once the blockbuster was discovered, thanks to Jaws and Star Wars, for example, the Hollywood just wants to hit grand slams every time (sorry about the baseball euphemism but it fits here). However, if a studio reboots a franchise, or remakes a tried and true film, there’s almost a guarantee they will earn a profit – especially if the original did extremely well the first time, or secured a rabid cult following afterwards.

This doesn’t mean that all remakes are horrendous and should be avoided. As for horror, some remakes truly stand out on their own, and the original may ultimately find a place in that particular film’s shadow. What follows is my top ten horror remakes:

 

The Thing (1982) – 5 stars

Story: A group of American researchers discover a parasitic alien that imitates its host.

John Carpenter’s sci-fi/horror masterpiece is a remake of the 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, based on John W. Campbell Jr. story, “Who Goes There?” I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this movie nearly a gazillion times (I watch it once every two months) because of several factors: excellent story, great acting, compelling characters, and one hell of a frightening and hopeless situation – and of course, Rob Bottin’s stellar effects, which had all of us freaking out in the audience when I was a teen. The original, although beloved, lacks that hopeless element, and James Arness’s “thing” comes off more like a Frankensteinian monster who’s seemingly part zombie, instead of some advanced species from outer space. Even so, giving both films a whirl is a good thing.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – 5 stars

Story: Aliens invade Earth via pods, which serve as conduits to replacing people’s souls.

I saw this in theatres when I was a kid and almost had to run out when Donald Sutherland annihilated his alter evil. Philip Kaufman’s film, based on Jack Finney’s novel, delivers an oppressive atmosphere that’s inescapable. To be honest, the 1956 original with Kevin McCarthy did the same exact thing. In the original, McCarthy’s character was supposed to point at the screen, breaking the fourth wall, and yell, “You’re next!” but the pathetic filmmakers thought that would be too frightening for audiences. Once I learned that, I went completely bald. Anyway, at least Mr. McCarthy got a chance to deliver that line in the amazing remake, which sports one stellar cast, including Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Brooke Adams, and more. Do not miss the special effects that still hold up.

 

The Ring (USA/Japan, 2002) – 5 stars

Story: If one watches a bizarre videotape they will die in seven days.

Ringu rocked American shores sometime after 1998, introducing many to the wonders of J-horror. Although I love Japanese horror films, especially the work of Takashi Miike, the only thing Ringu did was put me to sleep. Gore Verbinski’s remake, backed by the strong writing hand of Ehren Krueger, delivered a grand horror/mystery with a colorized yet gray atmosphere, great acting, and one hell of a heroine in the always amazing Naomi Watts. The CGI and the practical effects are stellar. But it’s finding a way out from certain death that brings enough power and intensity to rival the over-hyped original.

 

Dawn of the Dead (USA/Canada/Japan/France, 2004) – 4.5 stars

Story: Zombies rise and a group of humans take refuge in a mall.

George A. Romero’s original is one of horror’s most beloved films. Though I can clearly understand that, and do appreciate the effort, the comedy business completely undermined the movie and left me severely disappointed. Zack Snyder’s remake, however, delivers the intensity, with one hell of a foreboding thrill ride. Granted, the original may have explored the shallowness of America’s consumer culture, but the remake’s immersed in the fact that America has not only embraced its hyper-consumerism, but revels in it. Although this means the story could have taken place in any venue other than a mall, such a setting allows the characters to almost trick themselves into believing that they are surviving in a world they can comprehend. This is why the ending is so jolting and terrible to the audience once they leave the comforts of “home.”

 

The Crazies (USA/United Arab Emirates, 2010) – 4 stars

Story: The US Army accidentally unleashes a virus that turns people into paranoid killers.

The original from 1973 is my favorite George A. Romero film. Therefore, when the remake came out, I was skeptical if not angry, but director Breck Eisner captured the unease that permeated the original. Better still, to carry the film, he put the picture in the more than capable hands of Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell. Watching small town America unravel and not have the chance to fight back and saves themselves made me think of the nation’s current state of monopolies, as if Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Target were ultimately responsible for the town’s demise instead of a wayward virus. Eisner brings us an action horror that captures the helplessness of the original as the characters fight to survive a series of obstacles that humanity had put in their path long beforehand.

 

Toolbox Murders (20034) – 4 stars

Story: Renovations at an old Hollywood hotel leads to the rise of a killer supernatural force.

Tobe Hooper delivers a solid, deviant tale of murderous horror like an Italian Giallo. Starring the always extraordinary Angela Bettis, she’s thrust into a mystery where her own life’s in jeopardy. One of the great things about this film is that Hooper keeps things subdued with minimalist flair, which only adds to the intrigue, claustrophobia, and horror. The remake is leaps and bounds above the cheesy, lackluster original from 1978. Instead of something hokey, peppered with bad dialogue, Hooper and company deliver something that resonates with tension to leave us unsettled in our seats.

 

The Uninvited (USA/Canada/Germany, 2009) – 4 stars

Story: A mental patient reunites with her sister to prove her mother may have been murdered.

Of all the remakes on this list, The Uninvited is the most subtle. In fact, it wasn’t until the third act where I realized this was based upon A Tale of Two Sisters, the brilliant Korean horror. Granted, many seem to despise this film or laugh it off, but directors Charles and Thomas Guard bring us the uncanny with potent suspense that only enhances the mystery of the story. The fabulous Emily Browning shines in the lead, and David Strathairn gives us another powerful performance. As remakes go, this film is more of an “inspired by” piece, though many fans of the original instantly hate the movie because of its link to the modern day classic.

 

Black House (South Korea, 2007) – 3.5 stars

Story: An insurance agent investigates a killer he suspects of collecting insurance premiums.

Terra Shin’s film is a remake of the Japanese original from 1999. Among the murder, blood, and mayhem, this dark film is highly sensualized, which only adds to the disturbing nature of an “every man” squaring off against a killer with a mission. The acting is solid, as well as the effects, along with compelling cinematography from Ju-young Choi. Though not a perfect film, Shin presents a strong mix of character, emotion, and atmosphere to keep the audience engaged as the mystery unravels. Admittedly, I have yet to see the Japanese original, but this is highly ranked on my horror list overall.

 

Night of the Living Dead (1990) – 3.5 stars

Story: Zombies rise and a group of people fight to survive from a farmhouse.

The original George A. Romero film turned zombies into ghouls and forever changed the horror landscape. To even think of remaking such a poignant film may seem blasphemous to many, but Tom Savini, who first worked with Romero on 1976’s Martin, took the reigns and brought us a solid reinterpretation. Starring the beloved Tony Todd, the remake is important for two reasons. First, Savini included a scene that Romero had to abandon: the hanging of zombies from trees. In the original, a horrific and criminal real-life lynching had given Romero pause. Second, the character of Barbara (originally “Barbra” played by Judith O’Dea) is no longer a sniveling, scared female ready for a man to save her, but an independent, locked and loaded woman ready to fight for life and limb, thanks to the great Patricia Tallman – who would have bitch-slapped the older version of herself.

 

Willard (Canada/USA, 2003) – 3.5 stars

Story: A socially inept man befriends rats that take care of him.

Crispin Glover brings the character of Willard to life in grand fashion. Supported by a great cast, which includes the pinup beauty of Laura Harring, and the inner malevolence of R. Lee Ermey, we are catapulted into a dramatic and quirky tale of boy meets rat. The tone of the film is equivalent to not being able to land on the right frequency for a radio station, though we love what we’re hearing, which only adds to the twisted flavor of Glen Morgan’s film. The 1973 original stars two character actor greats: Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine, but like many low budget fair from the seventies, rubber rats and flat camera angles didn’t cut it, because that helped create a boring if not long-winded story. Instead, the remake, thanks to the stellar work of Glover, keeps one riveted to the screen as Willard’s story unfolds.

 

Honorable mentions: Cat People, The Fly, I Spit On Your Grave, The Last House On the Left, Maniac, Mother’s Day, Nosferatu the Vampire, Quarantine, Silent House, Silent Night, and The Wizard of Gore.

Yes, a list of the Worst Horror Movie Remakes is forthcoming…

(Photo from Reflections On Film and Television.)