Horror was so prevalent and popular in the early ‘80s that even the action genre wanted in on the…uh, action. Chuck Norris haiyah’ed a Michael Myers wannabe in Silent Rage (1982), so next up it was granite faced Charles Bronson’s turn to take on slashers with 10 to Midnight (1983), a sleazy yet fascinating trip through the mind of a serial killer. While it’s never as deep as it thinks it is, it’s smarter than it has any right to be.
As a producer, Aaron B. Koontz has helped bring some of the most thought-provoking horror films to life in recent years. This past summer saw the release of Koontz's feature-length directorial debut, Camera Obscura, and Koontz and his Paper Street Pictures production company are wasting no time moving forward on their next project, Scare Package, a horror comedy anthology that he's overseeing with Cameron Burns. In addition to directing his own segment, Koontz is bringing together some of the most exciting independent filmmakers in horror for Scare Package, and we recently caught up with Koontz for our latest Q&A feature to discuss assembling the creative team and subverting subgenres in his new anthology.
Dark Sky Films is set to release Dennis Bartok’s directorial debut, Nails, today on VOD, which features The Descent’s Shauna Macdonald doing battle with an evil entity that is stalking her in the hospital after she’s been laid up following a horrific accident that leaves her trapped in her own bed, unable to communicate with the outside world. Daily Dead recently spoke to Bartok about the project, and he discussed how his own experiences inspired the story of Nails, what it was like to collaborate with Macdonald, and more.
Next to Universal, few studios have had such a big impact on horror than RKO Radio Pictures. Started in 1927, RKO was the first studio founded to make exclusively sound films, a then-brand-new invention that served as a major draw for the studio. RKO’s life was relatively short (it was killed just 30 years after forming), but during their time, they put out a seriously impressive number of classics, including Top Hat, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Informer, and most notably, Citizen Kane.
Under amazing makeup effects, he stole our hearts as Billy the zombie in Hocus Pocus, warmed our souls as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy films, and sent chills down our spines as one of the Gentlemen on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For his role in We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew, actor Doug Jones is not accompanied by practical prosthetics, but he's just as mesmerizing as ever. With Thomas Woodrow's post-apocalyptic film hitting digital and VOD platforms beginning November 21st from The Orchard, I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Jones, and in part 1 of the interview, we dive deep into his new intriguing role that required him to portray an intense paralysis.
Oh, ’80s slashers. You come in so many shapes and varieties that I never get tired of you. Take Slaughter High, for example, a slasher movie that was released in 1986 but looks like it was made in 1981. It has three directors. It was shot in the UK by English filmmakers, but passes itself off as an American film taking place in an American high school. The high schoolers all appear to be in their early 30s. It’s entirely placed on April Fool’s Day but couldn’t be called April Fool’s Day (its original title) because there was already a movie coming out called April Fool’s Day. Nothing about Slaughter High makes complete sense, but it’s in this way that the movie distinguishes itself.
Homage has dominated (some may argue, plagued) the horror market in recent years, from the retro ’80s to the luxurious ’60s, we’ve seen several eras recreated on screen to varying degrees of success. Rather than simply imitate, some filmmakers have inverted, distorted, and modernized these beloved styles into something entirely new. Giallo masters Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani provide the perfect example. This year, the duo returns for their third full-length feature, this time focusing their talents on a sun-baked heist thriller. While its story is rather incomprehensible (even for admirers of their previous work), the force of their filmmaking remains astoundingly immersive.
What if the afterlife was an uploading program with an expiration date of its own? That chilling concept is explored in John Stanisci's new sci-fi action graphic novel LifeDeath. Slated for a 2018 release, the graphic novel is currently part of a Kickstarter campaign with perks aplenty, and we caught up with Stanisci and actor/producer Stelio Savante to discuss the ambitious ideas behind the new graphic novel, the goal to adapt the story for the screen, and much more, and we've also been provided with an exclusive set of preview pages to share with Daily Dead readers.
The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) was an unpopular thriller with a clever premise. Laura would have visions whenever a killer attacked someone, and she witnessed the murders through his eyes. Naturally, TV had to take a crack at the premise, which brought us Mind Over Murder (1979), a thriller that adds a few wrinkles to the basic premise and ends up being the more enjoyable of the two.
I love wordplay, and portmanteaus are my favourite. Come on over and I’ll tell you about The Manster (1959), part man, part monster, all good B movie madness. Two-headed Americans abroad in Japan is a very specific sub-genre, and underappreciated at that.
This weekend, Joachim Trier’s Thelma is set to debut in NYC a few weeks ahead of its Los Angeles theatrical release, with a subsequent larger theatrical rollout to follow. The psychological/supernatural horror movie (that’s also a potential Oscar contender, as Norway has submitted Trier’s latest for Best Foreign Language consideration) explores the triumphs and tribulations of a young woman (Eili Harboe) who realizes that she wields fantastic powers after her sexual awakening triggers some strange events that cannot be otherwise explained. As Thelma struggles to come to terms with just who she is (on various levels), she discovers that perhaps the greatest power she could ever possess is freedom over her own life.
Literature in the 18th and 19th centuries was overwhelmed by Gothic and romantic tales of the strange; but even the most unusual proprietors can be hard to find in today’s market. Penguin Classics continually surprises with its releases of old, weird fiction, and its Tales of Hoffman collection presents a fascinating array of narratives and tones. Hoffmann's work ranges from melodramatic and fantastical to psychologically horrifying, but all of it exposes the reader to a strange, sometimes wondrous, always dangerous world.
Sometimes, charm is enough to get a movie across the finish line. It may not all work, the whole may be less than the sum of the parts, but if there’s enough charm to it all, we audiences will tend to overlook some of the more obvious issues and give ourselves over to a film. We like to be charmed.
Ambition should never be a dirty word, especially when it comes to micro-budget movies. Especially micro-budget movies shot on a camcorder starring a Yugoslavian actor who goes by the amazing moniker "Lazar Rockwood." Which brings us to the kind of amazing Canadian-made Cube/Saw prototype Beyond the Seventh Door (1987), lovingly presented on DVD by Intervision, who never fail to cover all of your shot-on-video needs.
As feature debuts go, director Ted Geoghegan’s 2015 ghost story We Are Still Here was a real kick in the ass: a slow-burn throwback to the work of Lucio Fulci that spent most of its running time building dread and atmosphere before exploding into outrageous gore in its go-for-broke climax. Beyond being an extremely effective haunted house movie (my favorite horror movie of that year), it was also a sad and atmospheric meditation on grief and loss—there was a genuine emotional backbone to the story, making it just as involving as it was scary.
For Mohawk, his 2017 follow-up that recently screened at Chicago’s Cinepocalypse film festival, Geoghegan has done it again, sneaking a real human story into thrilling genre fare.