THE LAST KNOCK presents: Hodgepodge of Horror VIII

The Last Knock

So many horror movies, so little time! This is why we’re bringing you our eighth installment of “Hodgepodge Horror” where you’ll get a chance to hear about some new and old films in the genre that may be worth seeing, or definitely worth avoiding. And, of course, there’s a chance Crash and Numb will argue about one film or another. So dive in with abandon (unless the shark from JAWS is directly underneath you), and give a listen to what horror movies we’re watching now!

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@TheHorrorMaster (John Carpenter) @LianeMoonRaven @FriscoKidTX @isaacrthorne @machinemeannow @RSBrzoska @_greatnorthern @DanielMlYoung @RealJillyG @Miss_Dibbly @MFFHorrorCorner @Karinm37 @MelanieMcCurdie @RayZor_33 @HorrorSyndicate @BlackCabProds @Israel_Finn @KeyzKeyzworth @KissedByFate2 @pugmum1 @horrorfilledfun @palkodesigns @Horrorview @aj_macready @wilkravitz @Theladyphantom @AFiendOnFilm @LoudGreenBird @VicsMovieDen @d_m_elms @GrindhouseFilm @ShoutFactory

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Double Feature: HUSH, DARLING

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Just because a horror film’s made on a small budget, and shot with minimalism in mind, doesn’t mean it’s cheap and easy. Both Mike Flanagan’s HUSH and Mickey Keating’s DARLING are low budget, independent films with small casts, manageable effects, and few locations. But what they offer horror fans may be twists on old themes where tropes are turned on their heads, and solid storylines are inhabited by intriguing characters. So listen in and find out if we put a hush to the buzz, or declare them both darlings.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@ScreamHorrorMag @EmilieFlory @60Secondstodie @RonGizmo @RSBrzoska @sarahsweets83 @BleedingCritic @Promofilia_ @RealJillyG @MuldoonPatrick @LINTstagators @Tammysdragonfly @MelanieMcCurdie @AFiendOnFilm @nicolemalonso @OklahomaWard @AmandaBergloff @machinemeannow @saulnier_Jeremy @GreenRoomFilm @mrbluelouboyle @LAMANIACmovie @GreenRoomMovie @talk2cleo and Paul J. Williams from Facebook!

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Extreme Horror – Family Fear

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If you love extreme horror, those disturbing films that make you cringe and wonder what the hell’s wrong with you for watching them to begin with, then this initial segment is definitely a must listen.

In this first of our Extreme Horror series, we explore those films that present families in a far different light than Disney ever could. We crash into A SERBIAN FILM, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and more. We’re not looking at gore and shock value, but the exploration of emotion and ethics that rocks us to the core. After all, these are the disturbing ventures into extreme horror that will keep you awake at night because your mind’s on fire.

Billy Crash and Jonny Numb traverse the trauma with special guest, William Meeker! You can find his remarks and reviews on film, from horror to science fiction, at Loud Green Bird, and follow him on Twitter at @LoudGreenBird as well.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@wilkravitz @gregskesworld @BigSpoonyBard @KeyzKeyzworth @jerryWalach @MrMarkzilla @meanlouise @ktanimara @LindaLeeKing @RonGizmo @THETomSavini @flcamera @RiversofGrue @vincentmward @SiaraTyr @isaacrthorne @TheresaSnyder19 @theadman40 @Bigolegoofy1 @tommyjoker73 @The_MOE_Dome @MirandaNading @ThisIsHorror @EmilieFlory @Israel_Finn @RSBrzoska @IvonnaCadaver @AmandaBergloff @aicforever @AFiendOnFilm @MFFHorrorCorner @BleedingCritic @laurenashleycar @mickeykeating and on Facebook: Christopher Alan Broadstone and Doug McCambridge!

Crash Analysis Support Team: GREEN ROOM (2016) from Jonny Numb

GR4[94 minutes. R. Director: Jeremy Saulnier]

The visceral experience of Green Room is that of having an ice-cold fist throttle your spine, dislocate your jaw, and twist your nerve endings for 90 relentless minutes. In an attestation to its punk pedigree, it takes the straightforward lyrics of the Circle Jerks’ “Back Against the Wall” and makes them vulnerable (and often mutilated) flesh. Green Room never relents long enough to bask in its myriad ironies, and thus underlines the difference between it and most other postmodern genre efforts that stop to wink at the audience.

That’s not to say its influences aren’t as abundant as they are disparate (and merit their own analysis), but that writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Murder Party) isn’t content to merely churn out stale variations on the films that shaped his directorial sensibility. In that regard, he’s much closer to Quentin Tarantino than the ghetto of indie-film poseurs who slavishly recycle the most influential movies of their youth in the most unimaginative manner possible.

To address the finer details of Green Room’s plot is to venture into perilous and plentiful spoiler territory, but there is much to appreciate and gape at (aesthetically and thematically). This is as visceral as the most effectively brutal efforts of the horror genre, and that is something that can only be verified by experiencing it first-hand. Saulnier’s Blue Ruin bristled with a quiet, mounting intensity that surpassed the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men; the surprise here is that Green Room not only meets the oft-unbearable suspense of those films, but exceeds it.

The Ain’t Rights are a suburban punk band in the midst of a tour that isn’t going very well (the opening scene has their van wiped out in a cornfield). After meeting with a ‘zine editor and radio DJ who interviews them about their “desert island bands” and lack of social media presence (which not all of the members agree on), he hooks them up with a lame, mid-day gig for peanuts, followed by a more lucrative – yet foreboding – proposal: a couple hundred bucks to play at a skinhead club in the middle of nowhere. When band member Pat (Anton Yelchin) accidentally stumbles across the aftermath of a violent act, these middle-class suburban punks are thrust into a fight for survival against seemingly insurmountable odds.

For as provoking as the scenario and characters are, Saulnier doesn’t turn the film into a heavy-handed, American History X-styled treatise on the wages of hate. Shock-value epithets don’t gratuitously worm their way into the dialogue, nor do our protagonists ever offhandedly toss around the word “Nazi” (outside of a rendition of the Dead Kennedys’ song, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”). Ever the sly craftsman, Saulnier is fully aware he’s creating a genre picture, and by not making any overt statements, ventures into subtext that is rather fascinating.

Green Room is a double threat: a relentless machine of suspense and violence, and one that makes you think well after all the corpses have been accounted for.

Patrick Stewart plays Darcy, the articulate owner of the club, an even-toned yet methodical man who, one could argue, is overqualified to be presiding over such a dump – until you realize he doesn’t just book shows, but offers “educational” workshops on race under the same roof. (For an unexpected corollary to Green Room, check out the unsettling documentary Welcome to Leith.) In an early scene that represents the film’s turning point, he delivers his dialogue muffled, behind a door, while a terrified Pat is forced into a negotiation with no positive outcome. The lack of Stewart in visual form actually makes the exchange that much more gut-clenching. He may be spinning bullshit, but he makes bullshit sound like something you’d want to concede to all the same.

While the presence of Stewart is a coup, it could have been easily viewed as a stunt if the rest of Green Room’s cast didn’t also perform at a higher level. The other characters come across as amalgamations of the “desperate scenario survivor type”: Yelchin fares strongly as the coward of the group; Joe Cole renders a muscular hothead without being an out-and-out asshole; and Alia Shawkat (The Final Girls) and Callum Turner (Victor Frankenstein) represent the more level-headed voices of reason. Imogen Poots’s (the Fright Night remake) character and her motives are a bit more complicated, but she quickly forms an alliance with the group out of necessity.

Certain films, like Alex Cox’s Repo Man (1984) and James Merendino’s SLC Punk (1998) capture elements of the punk subculture in ways that still resonate today. To a great extent, a lack of Hollywood sanitization is what makes these films hum with a distinct countercultural energy. And Green Room is no exception – it doesn’t simply make its central characters punk rockers as a bit of throwaway edginess (though “Punks [sic] Not Dead” would be a great tagline), but uses that to augment the driving, spitfire pacing.

Furthermore, Saulnier finds clever ways of integrating the DIY aesthetic that has informed punk since its inception. Beginning with the innocuous image of a hand-drawn flier announcing the Ain’t Rights’ fateful gig to the use of Sharpies to draw on war paint, to improvised weapons (including a broken fluorescent bulb), and the use of duct tape as a wound dressing, these characters make MacGyver-esque use of the limited items at their disposal.

And those ironic references to bands of yesteryear emblazoned on white T-shirts (Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat), graffiti (The Damned), window sticker (Fugazi), and within the dialogue (The Misfits) actually complements the situation and characters. Before any threat presents itself, Shawkat puts on a record by Fear (we only hear the first few seconds, though – as if to say, “let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here”).

Despite the whipcrack pacing, it’s not used to cover up gaps in logic, plot, and character (this isn’t Transformers IX). On the contrary: hero and villain alike are canny and clever within their respective circumstances: from Darcy’s cockroach-like thugs to the outgunned punks, I never once found myself thinking – as I do with many other horror films – “Why are you being so STUPID?”

The music, by Brooke and Will Blair, is also interesting, opting for droning ambient noise (reminiscent of Mica Levi’s minimalist soundscape for Under the Skin) over a more obvious, rat-a-tat punk score. This not only intensifies the ominous silence of certain scenes, but creates a pervasive atmosphere of dread that contributes to the overall visceral impact. The way the film deals largely in desaturated earth tones also adds to the dank and dire mood.

But perhaps most notable of all the notable aspects of Green Room is its raising of the bar for films in the “trapped room” subgenre. Earlier this year, 10 Cloverfield Lane performed a similar feat, daring audiences to embrace a limited setting and a script that refused to kowtow to weary genre conventions. As with John Goodman’s quietly menacing performance in that film, Stewart’s villainous turn here should make those cobweb-festooned Academy voters sit up and take notice. At the halfway point of 2016, the horror genre definitely ain’t fucking around.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Jonny Numb (aka Jonathan Weidler) measures his life in coffee spoons, and writes reviews once every couple years at numbviews.livejournal.com. He co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast, and can be found on Twitter and Letterboxd @JonnyNumb.

Crash Palace Productions and THE LAST KNOCK podcast extends its condolences to the family and friends of Anton Yelchin. We will miss him.

(Photo from Monkeygoosemag.)

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Interview with Writer Isaac R. Thorne

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Isaac R. Thorne may look like a steampunk captain extraordinaire, but he has a penchant for mixing horror with comedy in intriguing and unsettling ways. In this interview, we’ll find out how he ticks, what he likes, and how horror got him there. We’ll also find out about his teleplay “Because Reasons” with the Carmen Theater Group and his other projects coming your way.

You can learn more about Isaac from his website, find his great horror work on Amazon, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Ominous Openings

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Regardless of genre, for any film to work, there must be an inciting incident that captures the imagination of the audience. As for horror, we take a look at many films that go for our throats right from the beginning. We’ll crash into THE HUNGER, ALTERED, FEAST, DAY OF THE DEAD, SHIVERS, DUST DEVIL, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and more ominous openings that lead us into intense realm of horror.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@AnnThraxx @RealJillyG @THENAMNATION @dvdinfatuation @palkodesigns @sg_lee_horror @NylaVox @SugaryLove09 @annaborchert @IrishKelly63 @d_m_elms @Tammysdragonfly @JohnSchaech @FriscoKidTX @LoudGreenBird @dixiefairy @CrypticPictures @AmandaBergloff @chitownjimmyxox @machinemeannow @AFiendOnFilm @VicsMovieDen @WilliamFriedkin @Sanchezonthemic

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Monster Makers: Tom Savini

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For many horror fans, George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD is an untouchable zombie masterpiece. Yet, without the amazing, passionate, and detailed work of the incredible Tom Savini, one may wonder how well this horror would have been received. That film put Savini on the map, and launched his career as a special effects artist of extremely high caliber. We look at Savini’s life and craft, from horror to drama, as well as his acting, producing, directing, and stunt work. We’ll also discuss how his artistry brought many horror films to life, from THE BURNING and FRIDAY THE 13TH, and to MARTIN and CREEPSHOW.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@LaureneLandon @LoudGreenBird @FriscoKidTX @GuyRicketts @LianeMoonRaven @Tina_Scott95 @THENAMNATION @chitownjimmyxox @RonGizmo @Amber_F_Shaw @armygirl181 @SamesCarolyn @Illuminati322 @TheNakedPorch @leon_flemming @dixiefairy @chaos_4ever @DarkTwistedMeow @JillArmenante and Chris Messineo from the New Jersey Film School

Crash Reports: Second Annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival Announces Line-Up of 33 Films from 12 Countries

POPCORN-FRIGHTS-IMAGEPopcorn Frights Returns with a Vengeance for its Biggest Year on August 12-18, 2016

MIAMI, FL – Popcorn Frights Film Festival, Florida’s leading international genre film festival, celebrates its second year in Miami this August 12-18, 2016, presenting a record 16 features and 17 short film premieres at the landmark O Cinema Wynwood theater.

“We’re thrilled our Popcorn Frights Film Festival returns with a vengeance for its second year to bring the best and finest in international fear to the dark heart of Miami. Bigger, bolder, bloodier, our program embraces everything outstanding about the horror genre as it aims to excite and unforgettably frighten audiences,” said Festival Co-Founders and Co-Directors, Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman.

“Since the beginning of cinema as an art form, filmmakers have made films that frighten and terrify their audience proving that the suspense of a good scare can be as enjoyable and cathartic a cinematic experience as a laugh or a cry. O Cinema is delighted to be partnering with Popcorn Frights Film Festival to bring the best in horror and genre filmmaking to South Florida audiences,” stated Kareem Tabsch, Co-Director of O Cinema.

The line-up for the second annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival serves up a fearsome feast with the monstrous, the macabre, and the must-see. Opening Night features a spine-tingling double-bill presenting the Florida Premieres of the critically-acclaimed films Fear, Inc., and The Blackcoat’s Daughter, starring Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men”), Emma Roberts (“American Horror Story”), and original music composed by the legendary Elvis Perkins.

Other buzzy titles in the lineup include Evolution, an astonishingly beautiful and mesmerizing blend of body horror and surreal fantasy, the genre-bending shocker I Am Not a Serial Killer starring Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Piranha 3D) in a tour de force performance, the nightmare fueled Antibirth that features dynamite acting from Natasha Lyonne (“Orange Is the New Black”) and Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry), Under the Shadow, a tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War, and the East Coast Premiere of Abattoir, Darren Lynn Bousman’s (Saw II) unsettling new nightmare centered on a mysterious haunted house.

Encompassing the ever-burgeoning independent arena, this year’s increased number of films straddle the arthouse and grindhouse, including The Mind’s Eye, a mainline shot of hyper-violent-telekinetic-carnage reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s Scanners, the East Coast Premieres of Beyond the Gate starring the Frist Lady of Fright Films, Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond), and the audaciously twisted and shocking Pet featuring a remarkably dark turn by Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings), and Mickey Keating’s (Darling) latest descent into insanity, Carnage Park, that braids crime caper and survival story into one demented thrill ride.

Rounding out the program is the US Premiere of the gripping found footage thriller Man Vs, the North American Premiere of the supernatural horror thriller The Devil’s Doll, the action-packed post-apocalyptic vampire tale Daylight’s End, the visually stunning homage to the famed Italian Giallo genre, Francesca, and the retro throwback to classic 80s VHS horror flicks, The Barn.

Popcorn Frights prides itself on providing a fertile ground for new and exciting filmmaking talent, and this year will present 17 extraordinary short films, including SXSW award-winners Manoman and Night Stalker, as well as The Puppet Man starring John Carpenter, and Portal to Hell, which features one of Roddy “Rowdy” Piper’s (They Live) final performances.

TICKET SALES:

Festival Premiere Badges are on sale for a limited time for $120 per person and $180 for couples, and single screening tickets are available for $12. To purchase badges or tickets and view the Festival schedule, visit www.popcornfrights.com

LOCATION:

All films will screen at the O Cinema Wynwood (90 NW 29th Street, Miami, FL 33127).

MORE INFORMATION:

Follow the Popcorn Frights Film Festival on Facebook as Popcorn Frights or on Twitter (@popcornfrights) for the latest information. Join the conversation using the hashtag #popcornfrights on social media.

NOTE FROM BILLY CRASH:

The above is a press release from Popcorn Frights Film Festival, which is the brainchild behind the phenomenal Promote Horror website. As Jonny Numb and I often say on THE LAST KNOCK podcast, no one promotes horror like they do. Whether film, novels, art, or comic books, Promote Horror has every avenue covered in every medium, and they are always ahead of that bloody curved blade – so to speak. Definitely visit their site. As for their second venture into Popcorn Frights Film Festival, there’s no doubt they know exactly what they’re doing, especially since it’s South Florida’s first and only horror film festival. If you can, visit the venue and get a first shot at seeing some amazing horror films, and if you’re looking to promote your own horror material, there’s no better way than becoming a sponsor of the festival. Check out the Popcorn Frights Film Festival site for more information. Many thanks to Promote Horror for all of their generous support of Crash Palace Productions and THE LAST KNOCK over the years. I am beyond grateful, and wish Promote Horror, Popcorn Frights Film Festival, and O Cinema, continued success.

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Felines of Fear

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June is “Adopt a Cat Month,” and with Jonny Numb’s feline, Weiß (his familiar) now THE LAST KNOCK’s horror mascot, we’ve decided to delve into the catnip to discover those TALES OF TERROR featuring a kitty in charge – as they’re apt to do. Besides the obvious CAT PEOPLE films, we’ll leap into many a Stephen King horror, and others you may have missed. We’ll also see how cats are looked upon by their human subjects around the globe, and why felines are such a mainstay in western horror. And if you missed “Hug Your Cat Day” on June 4, you better get on it before kitty consumes you in your sleep and leaves your unsavory remains in the litter box.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@RealJillyG @dixiefairy @RonGizmo @AnnThraxx @Amber_F_Shaw @SWManor @BarryCinematic @Talk2Cleo @LianeMoonraven @HowardGorman @CinemaChords @ScreamHorrorMag @DreadCentral @STYDNews @RueMorgue @Blumhouse @CryptTV @ianchampion1 @Trefology @themoviescribe @Shriekfest @DeniseGossett @TheresaSnyder19 @MAllanScott @d_m_elms @machinemeannow @The_MOE_Dome @ChadSchimke @TimothiousSmith @HeavenOfHorror @OklahomaWard @nicolemalonso @loveandmonsters @EmilieFlory

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Behind the Horror – Cemeteries

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Cemeteries have permeated the horror genre long before film. From Gothic literature to the present, those final resting places (well, maybe) find their way in many a horror feature. We look at the best cemetery based films, from CEMETERY MAN and MORTUARY, to THE GRAVEDANCERS and THE OMEN – plus many other horror favorites, including NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and the PHANTASM series! Don’t miss our tip-toe through the tombstones, as we discuss why they’re so prevalent in western culture, and why they deliver the horror…

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@TheresaSnyder19 @palkodesigns @TimBurtonArt @GenovevaRossi1 @dkarner  @LianeMoonraven @jerryWalach @AnnThraxx @theadman40 @RealJillyG @martin19674  @SiaraTyr @MelanieMcCurdie @JJBryan @BleedingCritic @RiversofGrue @PromoteHorror @Loudgreenbird @FearNthCast @RonGizmo @compassiom @stevecourtney79 @THENAMNATION @Amber_F_Shaw @TimothiousSmith @sharkkteethsolo @isaacrthorne @firstscreamto @IvonnaCadaver @Slaful_Stories @machinemeannow @madmanmendez