Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hellraiser 2 sucks. No, but the ending does.

Actually, I love Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 so take what I say with a grain of salt (or a pillar). Sure, the film isn't perfect (what movie is) but it's still quite amazing, and it's easily the best Hellraiser sequel. It is quite a coincidence (or is it?) that Kirsty ends up in the hospital of a complete psychopath who has been collecting all the Lament Configuration puzzle boxes (it does make sense though such a man would track down a little girl good at solving puzzles), and it's rather funny how easy it is to get to Dr. Channard's "Maintenance" level of torture (I really hope he had a secret code or something on that elevator), but you get a good gruesome villain with Julia taking Frank's role from the first one. It may seem a bit of a rehash from the original with her needing skin, but they have a nice little montage to get you through the familiar territory. I did wonder why Julia and Channard just left Kirsty by herself (and didn't kill her) before they went to watch Tiffany figure out the puzzle box, but Julia explains later they needed to bring some souls (you'd think they'd want to keep Kirsty from escaping though).

Anyway, the real issues start once they enter hell. The part with Frank is excellent, cementing Julia as the main antagonist, but before long, her death scene seems to come out of nowhere giving a bit of a weak finale to her character. I mean it seems like a strong wind killed her, which isn't a fitting demise for the new queen of hell. After all, we've still got 24 min left in the film at this point so they could've done more (but I know the budget was cut at the last minute).

That breeze gonna be the death of you.

Ignoring that it's not the best way to kill your key bad guy, it doesn't make much sense either since all of a sudden, a huge vertical slit magically appears down her back so then she can get sucked out of her skin despite moments earlier being able to move in the drafty corridor (people have said she didn't heal completely from her regeneration but still it's kind of a weak death scene that happens so suddenly without much of a setup). That whole sequence comes off a bit low budget since the whole killer breeze effect could be more convincing especially as Julia crawls against it using her two hands on the walls (plus, you know the actress is obviously standing upright... sorry I am nitpicking here) and no one is actually horizontal due to the strong force blowing them (which might be a necessity if it's going to be so strong to rip your antagonist out of her flesh) but where will they fly to anyway? It's not like they're hanging off the edge of a cliff or there's a wall of spikes at the end of the hallway. There's nothing but some light behind them and the really long tunnel. Is she going to take a carpet ride around the maze or something? And why would the entity of this place want to get rid of Julia if she's bringing it souls like it wants? Shouldn't the hero kill her aka Kirsty? That's pretty nice of hell to help them out like that. I wonder if this was the original death for Julia or if it was changed due to the budget slashing.

Wheeee, I'm flying somewhere but no one knows where or why! Wheeeeeeee, can't show this shot for too long or you'll realize this doesn't make much sense!

Of course, you can also complain about Dr. Channard's one-liners ("The doctor... is in!" "What was today's agenda? Ah yes, evisceration!" "Your case is closed, Tiffany! I'm afraid it's terminal!") but actually I kind of love those and they don't bother me anywhere near as much as Pinhead's lackluster demise. They could've had an epic cenobite vs. cenobite showdown. Instead Pinhead uses a few chains to hook Channard, which easily get broken, and then Channard slits Pinhead's throat after slaughtering the other cenobites who don't even fight back at all. It's a bit disappointing. If you're going to kill Pinhead and the cenobites, at least let them tear the shit out of each other first. Pinhead and the others should obviously be a lot more experienced and stronger than Channard. If there was a deeper idea or reason behind this like Channard had the full power of the Leviathan behind him or whatever, it should've been setup earlier in the film because this makes Pinhead look so inferior like a bad joke, and it's a shame too since Bradley does such a great job with the character even in that scene.

Kirsty likes to French cenobites.

But don't worry, I have more complaints (yep, this is what nerds on the internet do). Julia comes back except twist time! It's Kirsty wearing her skin! And that is a bit too absurd. For about a million reasons. Obviously, there's no way Kirsty could just put on Julia's skin and look exactly like Julia unless Kirsty was all bloody muscle too at the exact same size and height of Julia... yeah. Then there's the fact they show a Lament Configuration thingie that transformed Channard rising up behind Tiffany and then Julia/Kirsty comes out of there. But they don't actually show her exit it! That's true, but she enters from that side of the screen where there's just a ledge and they show the hallway entrance beside Tiffany in the same shot so you know Julia/Kirsty didn't come out of the hallway! So where could she have possibly come from? You mean to tell me she somehow magically got in that thing and wasn't turned into a cenobite? The only reason Julia/Kirsty enters from that side is to fake out the audience, but the way they show the hallway in the same shot and the way they set it all up makes it impossible that Julia/Kirsty didn't come out of there. Why was the Lament Configuration thingie rising up anyway? It wanted Tiffany? Then why does it magically disappear afterwards? Couldn't it reach out and get her with its monster arm thingies? Ok, let's ignore those two gripes. Don't forget Kirsty had to run all the way back to where the skin was, dress up in it (she doesn't have a mirror either to make sure it fits perfectly), run all the way back, somehow enter from the ledge side without using the hallway, etc. But say you buy that. Then Julia/Kirsty kisses Channard for like 20 min. Ok, it's not that long, but it actually is pretty damn long to makeout with a disgusting cenobite (Tiffany has to solve the other puzzle so it lasts quite a while even if they try to make it seem shorter but it's still long), and you'd think Kirsty would have a hard time doing the whole gross tongue thing with him (they clearly show a very involved French kiss) without him realizing she ain't Julia.

Cool effect if only it made more sense why this happened.

Then you get Channard's death, which is about as underwhelming as Julia's and Pinhead's. Keep in mind while Channard tries to kill Tiffany, Julia/Kirsty does nothing but watch. So Channard gets two his tentacle knife things stuck in the ground. You'd think the force of the other big tentacle thing attached to his head would be enough to pull the knife things out before ripping off Channard's head, but there's also the fact that you see earlier Channard has at least two tentacles that can come out of each of his palms for a total of four so he could use the other two to just sever the two stuck tentacles. But obviously, they had to kill him so they came up with a rather unbelievable way to do it (this movie really needs better villain death scenes). Why couldn't Kirsty or Tiffany actually find a way to kill Channard? It is cool the way Channard's head gets torn off, but it's just disappointing how it happens.

Black light isn't really scary.

And I didn't mention the Leviathan aka the lackluster giant thing in the sky with black light coming out of it that is supposed to be the ruler there or whatever. That leaves a lot to be desired. You couldn't try to create something a little bit more imaginative? I guess the cenobites help outweigh the underwhelming aspects of that (it's not really very cool or frightening although it is quite different in design from the cenobites), but still, the Leviathan could've been better. So yeah, what should have been the best part of the movie turns out to have some issues. But hey, I still love this film and I know there were some serious production problems so I shouldn't be so crazy critical. We all like to think filmmakers can do anything but there are always restraints: either time, money, or the studio screwing you over. I do think it's a great film regardless. It's very hard making films especially a sequel to a beloved classic and yet I think Hellbound is better in many ways than the original since Julia is great particularly her skinless scenes, Dr. Channard is an amazing addition, Kyle's death is awesome and surprising, etc. There's a lot to love in this film.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hot Girl of Horror #8: Monica Keena

Freddy vs. Jason is what I remember her from. She was a little unintentionally funny in it sometimes, but she did a good job. The Night of the Demons remake was pretty good too, and she didn't hurt it either. She hasn't really done a ton of horror, but the projects she has been in are some of the better stuff. Yes, I never saw Left in Darkness and the cover makes me want to avoid it, but she also had a tiny part in The Devil's Advocate. Anyway, I keep getting distracted by something. Well, I guess there's more than one. Two big... hey! Get your head out of the gutter, will you? I'm talking about her eyes ok? Am I talking to you or me? Seriously, we all know why slow motion was invented, right? Monica Keena, Freddy vs. Jason, and slow motion... that's an unbeatable combination. I wonder if she has done any more horror since then. I'm lazy. Ice cream tastes good. I know this place here that has grape ice cream. Can you believe that? How do they get grapes in ice cream form? Boggles the mind right? Ninjas do it? I knew it. Freakin ninjas. Amazing. I wonder what else they do. Everything? Ninjas do everything? Wow the world is a magical place. Worth fighting for. What's in the box!?! Grape ninjas. Brilliant. I should be a writer... oh wait.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview with Maurice Devereaux, End of the Line Director and Writer, etc.

1. How did you come up with the idea for Slashers? It's such an awesome concept for a horror movie.

When I wrote Slashers in 1999, the big reality TV wave had not yet hit. But I had seen a clip from a Japanese game show called, "Endurance," where contestants were put through hell to win prizes (being buried in ice for as long as possible, drinking huge amounts of liquid then being hit in the stomach and trying not to pee, etc.) and all previous death game films I had seen (Running Man, Death Race 2000, etc.). They were always involuntary participants (prisoners, innocent bystanders, etc.) and I thought it would be interesting to have contestants be on a life and death game show willingly for all sorts of reasons (fame, money, etc.) as it had not been done before.

2. Did it take you long to write the script?

The writing went very quickly, it took only about one month. It flowed out rather easily, once I had the concept and chose my characters and sent them off into the game.

3. Were you influenced at all by Battle Royale? They're obviously very different films, but I couldn't help notice some similarities like the neck collars and the Japanese aspect. I imagine it's just a coincidence, but it seems like you must be a fan of Japanese cinema. Is that true?

At the time I was writing Slashers, Battle Royale had not come out, and I actually only saw it 2 years after I finished the film. I was awestruck by some of the similarities (the cute, peppy hostess). As for the collars, they were also in a 1992 film called Fortress, and it seemed logical for me that the producers needed to have control over the participants so it was an easy solution. As for being a fan of Japanese cinema, well except for a few ghost films (Ringu, Ju-on), a few Kurosawa, and a bunch of Godzilla flicks, I had not seen that many Japanese films.

4. How did you find so many Japanese for the opening of Slashers?

Well Montreal did not have many Japanese residents (Vancouver has tons) so most of the extras were from other Asian countries. I used a casting agent and just gathered as many Asians as possible. Very silly idea to try and do this on such a low budget.

5. You mentioned in another interview you'd like to do a sequel or remake to Slashers but the rights are tied up with the original distribution company that went bankrupt so it'd be too difficult to get them back. Can you elaborate on why it's so complicated?

Well, I had signed away the rights to a production company called Blackwatch that then signed them away to a numbered company in conjunction with a British company. When they all went into bankruptcy, a completion bond company took over but went bankrupt as well after the film was finished. It would be too expensive of a legal hassle to try and figure who owns what anymore. It would take a Hollywood company with millions to want to do a remake to be able to afford to sort things out.

6. Is there anything fans can do to help?

No, not really. Although there are lots of similar films that have come out since.

7. I really liked the performances in End of the Line especially Neil Napier and Emily Shelton. Did you do any rehearsals with your actors?

Unfortunately, I did not have the budget to do any rehearsals with my actors (as with Union actors, rehearsals days are paid as well), but I was lucky that the cast I got was professional and did great under the circumstances.

8. Do you think directors should rehearse with their actors before filming? Why or why not?

Well of course any rehearsal time would be beneficial, it would give you time to polish the dialogue, work out any kinks in the scenes and save you time on the set.

9. What do you think is the key to working with actors?

Casting is 90%. If you chose the right actor with the right look and talent for the part, most of your job as a director is then to do some slight fine tuning. They will make you look good. So of course, if one day, you have the luxury of working with great actors (Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, etc.), you will look like a genius.

10. Stanley Kubrick holds a Guinness World Record for 127 takes of a single scene on The Shining (source). Fincher did 99 takes for the opening six-minute scene of The Social Network (source). How many takes did you do for the dialogue scenes on End of the Line?

End of the Line was shot quickly. Most of the time, 2-3 takes maximum. A few scenes had more, but I think 8-9 was tops. For Slashers, since it was a bunch of long continuous takes with so many variables, it was usually around 18 takes.

11. Do you think it's a good idea or a bad idea to do so many takes with your actors (assuming, of course, you have that luxury)?

Well it always depends on why you are doing another take, if you’re doing takes because other elements were not well prepared (sound mike goes into shot, or other technical glitches) or because you don’t know what you want from them and keep saying let’s do another take with no indications on what to try differently, the actors will get justifiably angry and will burn out. It’s best to try and get what you want in a few takes so the actors’ energy level will still be high.

12. What do you look for in an actor?

That he fit the role, be talented, professional, on time, off-script and courteous to the other cast members and the crew.

13. The scores to both Slashers and End of the Line are excellent. What is your process like for working with your composer Martin Gauthier? How do you tell him what kind of music you want? What kind of guidance do you give him? Do you send him examples of other scores you like that may be similar to what you're looking for or does he just go off and create something by himself?

Martin is a close friend, and our collaborations on the score were always pleasant and very fulfilling. We would discuss which scenes I would want scored and with what type of music, then once I heard what he had done, would make suggestions or sometimes use it elsewhere in the film. The end result of the music scores was always one of my favorite things about my films.

14. You went to the American Film Market to sell your film. What was that experience like?

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy!

It’s absolutely depressing. The AFM is where you see the ugly side of moviemaking: the business side. Sales agents are all sharks that feed on indy filmmakers. They will literally rape you and ask you to pay for it. Everything is very expensive there and unfortunately it is not a place for artists.

15. Do you think other independent filmmakers should try to go to the AFM? It seems pretty expensive just to attend it, much less advertise and market your film there.

There is no short answer to this question. Unfortunately whatever advice I could give from my own experience (and from many other indy filmmakers that I shared war stories with) is useless as people do not want to hear the hard truth.

The bottom line is films like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and a handful of others are “lottery winners.” All other indy productions will lose most, if not all, the money that was invested in them. Sales agents and distributors have just too many devious tricks of the trade they will use to never have to pay out any money to indy filmmakers. You would not believe the number of filmmakers whose films were released on DVD by BIG NAME distributors and they never got a dime. I’m sorry to say that it’s almost guaranteed to be a no-win situation financially if you’ve invested your own or your family’s/friends’ money in the making of a film.

16. Do you have any advice on how to sell the rights to your film at the AFM? How did you go about it?

Once again this is a big question. But to simplify things, let’s put it this way: it does not matter what any contract says. The only money you will ever make on a film is money that is wired directly to your bank account BEFORE you gave out a master copy of the film. That is it. End of story. If you can come to an agreement directly with a distributor for an upfront dollar amount for a territory for your film and get that amount wired to your account, that is the ONLY way to make sure you see a few bucks. But in the last 10 years, offers have shrunk for DVD rights (because of illegal downloads, etc.) for indy films, and because there is a GLUT of product, as everyone and his cousin can make a film now because of the new digital technology. So distributors have the luxury of choice and getting things very cheap.

17. How you were able to get your film released in Japan? Did you negotiate that yourself with a distributor or was that done by Anchor Bay or a sales agent?

I handled all the sales myself and negotiated the price with a Japanese distributor I had met at the AFM (where I had rented a booth with a few other filmmakers). As I mentioned, DO NOT use a sales agent!

18. Were you able to get any money upfront from selling the foreign rights? Any tips on countries to focus on?

If you mean before the film was shot, the answer is no. Almost no one pre-buys anymore and especially not for indy films. If you meant once the film was completed, yes, all my deals were upfront as it is the only way to see a dime. You will never get any royalties. That is not a joke.

19. Do you think independent filmmakers should get a sales agent when they have a completed film? Why or why not?

If your goal is to make any money at all, the answer is no. Sales agents will screw you out of ALL the money the film might make. If you just want the film to be distributed, the answer is yes. But make sure they don’t make you PAY for any deliverables, E&O insurances, etc. Give them the film and kiss it goodbye. You won’t get any money, but at least it will be distributed if that is what you want. You can not get both distribution and money from a sales agent.

20. I was really shocked to read even a company like Magnolia wouldn't give you any cash upfront for End of the Line. I'm glad Anchor Bay actually came through. If indie filmmakers are lucky enough to find a distributor willing to give a cash advance, can you tell us roughly how much we could expect?

Well, even if I gave you the amounts I got for End of the Line, prices have plummeted since I sold the film 7 years ago. I got $50k from Japan, with an equivalent film today, you’d probably be lucky to get 5k to 15k.

21. Were you able to get any money upfront when you sold the rights to Slashers?

I was not involved in the selling of Slashers as I did not have the rights.

22. You said you got screwed over in the past from distribution deals. Can you explain what happened? I've been told unless you get money upfront, you'll never see a dime from a distributor because of creative accounting and other ridiculous practices.

That is absolutely true. Creative accounting, among many other dodgy things, is an unfortunate reality of the film business. Hell, even big Hollywood companies, will say that The Lord of the Rings trilogy did not make any money and did not owe any backend profits to Peter Jackson (he had to sue, and only succeeded because they wanted him for The Hobbit). There are just too many ways (legal and illegal) that sales agents and distributors use to not pay indy filmmakers. Here’s one example: for Lady of the Lake, I unfortunately signed with a sales agent to handle foreign sales. They then sold it to a dozen countries for $39,900, coincidentally just under the amount they were allotted for expenses which was $40,000. So in the 12 years they have had the rights to the film, I made $0. Later I found out this is a very standard practice by devious sales agents and their crafty accounting. They basically sell a bunch of films together to various distributors and just cross loop the amounts to all the films they have the rights to (and are allotted expenses for to promote, etc.) so they always have nothing to pay out. It’s legal robbery. So let’s say a distributor really wants your film and is willing to spend $25,000 for it. The sales agent will throw in the deal four other films for next to nothing, but then will divide the amounts between each film, always insuring that they will each be under their recoverable expenses amount. That way, films that would not have sold anything, still will sell the total amount of the recoverable expenses but nothing more. So they pocket all the money and the filmmakers get nothing. Most indy filmmakers are not business savvy and all the ones I’ve met have ALL been screwed. All of them.

23. It seems like traditional distribution is pretty bleak for independent filmmakers. More and more directors are saying how they didn't make a dime on their film despite getting widespread DVD and Netflix releases. What do you think about self-distribution through services like Kunaki, Distribber, and Distrify?

Yes, it is bleak. Never heard of or tried Kunaki, Distribber and Distrify so I have no opinion on them.

24. What are the most helpful books you've read on filmmaking or screenwriting?

I guess Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without a Crew.

25. What's the best independent horror film you've seen? Any recent indie horror movies you were impressed by?

There are just so many: Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, Martin, etc. All are fantastic indy horror films. Even Halloween can be considered independent (if the definition of indy is non-Hollywood-studio financed).

Recently, I loved Kill List.

26. What's the most important piece of advice you'd give an aspiring filmmaker?

1) Write something tailor made for a low budget (few actors and locations).
2) Make sure your script is ready and really tight, as you don’t want to shoot anything you will later cut out (time and money wasted).
3) Don’t spend your own money. You’ll never get it back. But if you absolutely have no other choice make sure you budget an amount you can easily accept to never get back and then think that you will probably have to spend about 40% more for unforeseen expenses. Then look at the amount, and be true to yourself, can you say goodbye to that money. If the answer is yes, then go into pre-production.
4) Get professional actors. Whatever extra you spend will be worth it, they will make your job easier and make you look like a better director. Use a casting agent, if needed, to find them.
5) Get professionals for key crew (lighting, camera, sound, costumes, sets, makeup).
6) Make sure your locations are easy to access with available parking and low noise.
7) Once you start shooting, make sure you get your film completely in the can. You don’t want to have to run after people for reshoots or unfinished scenes.
8) If you’re producing, do NOT hand over your film to a sales agent. Accept only upfront cash deals. Because you will NEVER see any royalties and/or back-end money. No matter if it’s a prestigious name company or not. Look at it as a drug deal. Both of you hold guns on each other. The buyer holds the money and you hold a master copy of the film. Then you do the switch. Never keep your eyes off the other guy until you’re paid. It’s better to walk away from any deal, no matter how good it seems, if they do not pay you upfront, as you will always hear the classic excuses. “Send us the master and we promise we’ll wire you the money next week,” etc. Don’t fall for it.
9) Don’t give up. You only have one short life. If this is something you need to do, do it!
10) Don’t listen to what anyone says, especially me :)

If you haven't seen End of the Line or Slashers, you should definitely buy them. They're excellent examples of the best independent horror has to offer. Special thanks to Maurice for doing this interview.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hot Girl of Horror #7: Kelly Brook

Piranha 3D is definitely her most well-known horror movie although she was also in Removal (gothic horror meets industrial-strength cleaning products? really? like that's how they're selling it?), House of 9 (sounds like a bad TV show), Ripper, and a few other genre flicks. Sorry I'm still shocked there's a horror film with the tagline, "Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And repeat." Wow, that's fuckin terrible. Is it supposed to be a comedy? No, it says, "Thriller." Alright, let's try to forget that exists. Yep, it's impossible. Who comes up with this shit? Is Mr. Miyagi supposed to be the killer? I mean you really want me to take that seriously? Ok, it's low budget. I haven't seen it. Maybe it's the most amazing thing ever with the dumbest fuckin tagline ever... yeeeeaahhh. We'll go with that. You never know. I should shut up. So if you saw Piranha 3D, there's a certain underwater sequence you're not going to forget, and you can thank Ms. Kelly Brook for that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Indie Horror: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First, the positives:

1. New Exciting Ideas - not always, of course. In fact, maybe rarely, but the stand-out ones do something different. They may not pull it off, but you know they tried, and if nothing else, you can see a good idea buried somewhere in there.

2. Emphasis on Character - again, this refers to the best of them, and they may not entirely succeed, but it's obvious they want you to care about the characters. They spend time on character development, they try to make them sympathetic or fascinating, etc. Unfortunately, the filmmakers may just lack the experience or understanding to accomplish this goal, and their efforts may be undermined by the writing and/or acting.

3. No Rules - sadly, this usually isn't taken full advantage of, because even though they don't have to worry about the MPAA or any studio notes, a lot of indie horror still plays it safe or does the typical "shocking" stuff like a dead baby, which is more bad taste (and gross... the easiest thing to do) than disturbing or chilling. You really can do anything you want with indie horror (yes, you're limited by your budget, but there isn't any censorship or requirements about what you can or cannot show) and yet most just copy the majors. I'm not talking just about gore and nudity but also taking more risks with the characters and storytelling. If you want to do some crazy practical effects like The Thing with people mutating and transforming, you can (it'd be wise to have a good story and characters too though). If you want to fake out your audience by killing the lead character halfway in, go for it.

Good Indie Horror: End of the Line, Slashers, Splinter, Stake Land

Now, the negatives:

1. Boring - what's the worst thing a movie can be? Yep, you got it! If you try to do a lot of character building  or dialogue or atmosphere but you can't quite pull it off, this is the hell you end up in. I was guilty of this too until I went back and recut my film... and some might say I'm still guilty of it. A character-driven story is great, but the audience has to care about your characters or they get bored.

2. Slow Opening - this goes hand-in-hand with the last one, but you'd be surprised (or not) how many indie horror movies fall into this category. Even if they're a slasher and they start with a kill, they'll take forever to get to it. It's agonizing, because you know what's coming, you know the character is disposable cannon fodder, you feel no tension or fear, but you just have to sit there and wait... and wait... and wait. It sucks. Again, I'm an idiot, and I did this too since I thought there was tension when there wasn't so then I reshot the opening, trying to make it as exciting as possible.

3. No FX or Shitacular FX - bloodless horror movies can be good, but they take a lot of skill and experience to pull off, which someone making their first film probably won't have. So it isn't a bad idea if you're making a horror movie to include some of the red stuff, but even if they do, indie filmmakers tend to use ridiculously fake CG blood or just some truly atrocious practical FX. Just because you're making an indie film doesn't mean you can't have great FX and do things no one has ever seen before. Yes, you probably can't show the earth melting or an interstellar war out in space, but you might be surprised what you can do with a talented FX guy or even taking the time to teach yourself.

4. Copycat - on the opposite end of new ideas, you get the indie horror that is the same shit you've seen a billion times. 5 idiots go to the woods. 1 psycho picks them off one by one. This formula can result in something good, but you have to do something new with it, have good characters (the soldiers in Predator for example), a great fuckin original monster, awesome FX, inventive kills, etc. You can't just ripoff the movies you love.

5. Crappy Dialogue - everyone wants to think they're Tarantino, but they're not. Dialogue is tough to write, and it's hard to say with absolute certainty what good dialogue is. It has subtext, it's specific to each character's unique voice, it isn't obvious and on the nose. Hell, it's hard to define and completely subjective, but we can probably all agree on bad dialogue. It makes your eyeballs melt into the back of your head. If someone says your dialogue is bad, listen to them. Ask them why. See what they suggest. Make sure character A and character B don't talk the same, and make sure they don't all sound like you. Each character needs to be different. My dialogue was not very good either.

6. Bad Acting - another thing people always argue about. Check IMDb and a movie you think has perfect acting. Odds are someone (or a whole bunch of assholes) will say the acting in it sucks. It's so easy and pointless to say the acting sucks. What does that mean? How does it suck? It's much harder to articulate that, and I don't mean the really, really bad that-guy-is-a-machine-reading-his-lines acting. A child can spot that. I mean when two different people watch the same performance but one says it sucks while the other loves it. That type of contradictory shit eats your soul. Majority rules I suppose, but what about half and half? Anyway, a lot of acting in indie horror probably isn't the best. The actors tend to be inexperienced with directors unsure how to help them, and if you combine that with shoddy writing, it's a recipe for agony. If you can't find a good actor, keep looking. Learn about acting yourself so you know how to communicate with them and what not to say. Don't settle for a bad performance (do a lot of takes if you have to), and then cross your fingers that other people think it's good too.

7. Terrible Writing - this is probably one of the biggest reasons why indie horror fails so often. Writing is extremely difficult, and it doesn't help that everyone thinks they can do it. Everyone can do it, but to do it really, really well, you have to write all the time, read books on writing, read other scripts, identify your own strengths and weaknesses, get honest feedback from people, learn from your own mistakes, etc. Writing can be an insanely tedious excruciating exercise in pain or it can be the most rewarding thing of all, but it takes work. A lot of work, and obviously, most indie filmmakers are not that experienced yet, but what you learn making your own movie is something that can never be taught.

So in conclusion...

Is indie horror the most wretched thing of all time? No. Is it often not very good? Yes, but can it be good? Yes. Can a filmmaker go from one truly bad p.o.s. to something extraordinary? Not likely, but maybe. More possible would be going from a mediocre movie to a pretty good one or from a pretty good one to an excellent one. They could also get worse too, but I'm trying to be positive here. There are definitely some gems out there (End of the Line, Stake Land, Splinter) even in no budget land (The Horseman), and you'll also get some filmmakers who have made outstanding movies after mediocre ones so don't be afraid to do some digging (and a little research with reviews). If you look hard enough, you'll find something incredible.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hot Girl of Horror #6: Kaley Cuoco

Did you know Penny did a horror movie? She did a couple actually: Killer Movie, The Hollow, and even a TV flick called Mr. Murder. So you know what that means: picture time. Hopefully, she'll star in some more horror films in the future. I definitely wouldn't consider that a bad thing. Seems like the ones she has been in so far are pretty forgettable. What a shame. She deserves better, but I guess good horror movies aren't as easy to come by as bad ones. Kinda crazy how she could be virtually unknown until she got super crazy famous on The Big Bang Theory. She actually has a lot of credits before that, but that's usually the case. Most actors and actresses have to do a lot of work before they get noticed. Some unfortunately never get so lucky, which is a shame. I thought horror tends to help people get noticed but I guess not true if the horror films themselves are not good although sometimes even the lackluster ones can be remembered fondly especially if a few decades have passed. Alright, that's enough ridiculous rambling from me. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Slashers (2001)

The concept of this movie is perfect. A Japanese reality show is holding its first all-American special with three psychotic killers hacking up six lucky contestants! Why would anyone participate in such a sick game of life and death? They have the chance to win millions of dollars of course! It's really a brilliant idea with endless potential, and it's obvious the writer/director not only loves horror (he even writes the lead girl as a fan, says she saw every movie, etc.) but also bloody Japanese cinema like Battle Royale (the contestants wear strikingly similar collars... this may just be a coincidence since that Japanese masterpiece of carnage had only been out for a year when Maurice Devereaux released this). The only thing that bothered me about this indie is the acting, and I hate to say that, but it's true. I didn't buy the performances of the contestants. They weren't "wooden" like I see so many people claiming, but they didn't feel real. They just seemed like actors reciting lines instead of genuine people. Still, I have to admit I really like the film. I wish we could see an all-Japanese version of it or even a sequel, remake, etc.

The slashers themselves are fantastic. Doctor Ripper reminds me so much of Dr. Satan, but House of 1000 Corpses wasn't released until 2003 (it was filmed in 2000... yet it seems unlikely Devereaux patented his character after him so early). Regardless, the visual similarity is pretty astounding. Chainsaw Charlie is clearly Leatherface but memorable enough in his own right especially with the twist scene that fleshes him out. Preacher Man is a lot of fun too, playing the evil "holy" man that so often pops up in horror. I just wish Doctor Ripper kept his mask longer but even that insight into the identities of the slashers is interesting.

Some of the special effects leave a little to be desired especially when they show them too much. Fake heads rarely look good, and they linger on a close-up. When the clown stabs a Japanese girl's stomach in the first shot of the movie, be sure not to look down at the knife or else you'll see the clown obviously crushing a blood bag against her skin, which kinda ruins the moment. Later you can plainly see foil on Doctor Ripper's scalpel. Things like these really detract from the movie, but I still like it a lot, and I'd gladly recommend it.

The Steadicam work is extremely impressive. The conceit about trying to make it seem like it's all one shot is kinda neat too, but it's rather obvious that they cheat a lot. You get some random flickering to black, which they could have built into the story a little better by setting up that every so often the lights would go out to add more tension. More cuts might have actually helped in some places. The long shots do add to a couple jump scares though, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they managed to pull off.

I love the Japanese theme song. DJ Slash's line "super fun" is awesome. It makes me laugh and smile every time. Just in that intro, you see how much more they could do with the idea given the chance. I really hope this isn't the end of Slashers especially after seeing Devereaux's follow-up film End of the Line, because I thought that was an excellent movie all-around, and I really liked the performances in it. If he did do another Slashers episode, perhaps with some more time for filming and a bigger budget (maybe an all-Japanese cast), I bet he could really make a classic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hot Girl of Horror #5: Olivia Munn

So she's only been in one perfectly-titled horror movie: Scarecrow Gone Wild. Yes, I'll have you know there is a Scarecrow franchise, and that fact is more horrifying than anything. So that counts. Plus, she played Girl #1! Hey, imagine how Girl #3 felt. "Have you acted in anything?" "Uh... yeah. The third Scarecrow movie." "What role did you play?" "Girl #3." Ouch. There's also Insanitarium? I guess somebody liked the word "aquarium" a little too much and tried to get creative. Sorry, it's probably awesome. Haven't seen it. Never heard of it until I did my "research." Oh well, who cares. Everybody knows Ms. Munn from G4's Attack of the Show. Update: she was one of the best things about The Predator, which sadly was quite disappointing but she is clearly a good actress so I hope some better horror is in her future. I'm still shocked that film was such a mess. We really don't need a super large CG predator. Now without further ado, time to exercise those eyeballs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Shutter (2004)

My only recollection of this movie was it being yet another victim in a long line of Asian remakes pumped out by Hollywood in an attempt to cash in on the success of The Ring so I missed the fact the original film is actually Thai. Interestingly, the remake was done by a Japanese director, but by most accounts, it sucks. Thus, I never saw it, but I decided to give the original a try since I hadn't seen a horror movie from Thailand.

The setup is basically I Know What You Did Last Summer except with a ghost instead of Mr. Hook. Wait, don't leave! Yes, I know that sounds pretty craptacular. I didn't care at all for that '90s slasher so I struggled a little with the beginning but the different culture kept me watching, and it starts getting really, really good. As the real story unfolds, you find out there's actually a lot more to everything than you thought even the opening hit and run. Plus, you get some very creepy, scary scenes right up there with Ringu and Ju-on.

I was really surprised and shocked by the end. It has some excellent special effects sequences too (no CGI either, just good ole practical effects with some great makeup), which I wasn't expecting, but the way the story is so well thought out with the characters and the twists is what got me (and the twists make sense). That and they know how to get under your skin. Sadly, I don't think many people have seen this, probably because they were turned off by all the remakes or the quick plot synopsis doesn't sound real great, but it definitely delivers. And the revelation about the main character is pretty insane. I didn't see it coming at all, and it completely changes everything. It's on Netflix Instant right now so if you like good ghost stories or want to see something different, give it a shot.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Hope everyone had a good Halloween! I decided two winners would be better than one! So congratulations to Daphne White and Tim Van Thuyne! Your names were randomly selected, and your DVDs are on the way!

And if you didn't win, don't worry. There will be more giveaways in the future so stay frosty! And alert. We can't afford to let one of those bastards in here... HUDSON!!!!!! Sorry, what was I saying?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hot Girl of Horror #4: Julianna Guill

Altitude? Yeah, I skipped that one too. So her resume isn't very impressive, but she was topless in the Friday the 13th remake. That counts, right? What were we talking about? Boo--- I mean uh robots? Yes, I like robots. Not the gray ones though. Where are all the damn dinosaur robot movies? You'd think that'd be its own genre by now. People are getting lazy. Come on, guys. Wait... wait. Dinosaur ninja robots. Holy freakin cow, that's copyrighted! Don't you dare steal that! Wait... wait. Mutant dinosaur ninja robots. No... no... teenage mutant dinosaur ninja robots. NO FREAKIN WAY. Alien teenage mutant dinosaur ninja robots. Greatest... thing... ever. Of course I'm serious. Don't look at me like that. Ok, no one is reading this. Let's stare at the hot girl.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best Horror Movie Weapons

1. The Powerloader

"Get away from her you bitch!" How else are you going to fight a Queen Alien? Cameron had obviously been toying around with this idea for a while, using the concept in an early 1978 short film called, "Xenogenesis." Practice makes perfect.

2. Pulse Rifle/Flamethrower Combo

So I might be a little biased. Aliens is only my favorite movie of all time, and there's a reason it shows up here twice, but come on. The M41A Pulse Rifle, just by itself, deserves a top spot, and it doesn't get any better than pairing it up with a flamethrower. The Smart Gun was pretty awesome as well.

3. Chainsaw Hand with a Backup Boomstick

Aww... Ash. Who doesn't love Bruce Campbell? The man can do no wrong even when he's introducing a trailer for the Evil Dead remake. But how can you have Evil Dead without Ash?

4. The Shoulder Cannon

There's an endless supply of badass weapons between Predator and Predator 2 with the throwing disc coming in a close second. Heck, it'd probably be more of a tie. Yes, I love Predator 2, but still, I'll give it to the first one. Why? Just look at the hole in Blain's chest.

5. Freddy's Glove

Should be higher on the list I know. After all, it is probably the most iconic horror movie weapon and for good reason. I love the updated look in New Nightmare too. The originality and inventiveness of its design definitely outshine Jason's machete and Michael's butcher knife, which both look run of the mill in comparison.

6. Steel Balls of Gory Goodness

There's a reason why Phantasm spawned three sequels, and these flying death balls are a big part of that.

7. The BFG

Such a shame it was wasted in that shit storm of a film. That is one remake I'd be happy about except they'll probably never get it right.

8. Quad Shotgun

Why have two barrels when you can have four? Thank Phantasm 2 and Phantasm IV: Oblivion for this bad boy. Honorable mention goes to the triple barreled shotgun from Undead.

9. The Puzzle Box

Besides being a doorway for Pinhead and his Cenobite buddies, it has a nasty habit of unleashing a few chains to pierce some flesh or in the case of Hellraiser III's opening, make some dude's head explode. Good times for all.

10. Steamroller

Sadly, the uncut version of this Maximum Overdrive scene has yet to be released, but the one and only Joe Bob Briggs talked about it on MonsterVision, which is why I'm including it here. You're supposed to see the kid's head actually get crushed with a ton of blood exploding outward, but it got chopped to nothing.

And for anyone who's curious...