Monday, October 29, 2007

My Top 10 Horror Films

In honor of Halloween, Fatally-Yours has put together a list of her favorite horror films ever!

One problem, though…we all know that “top ten” movie lists are a sham. Nobody can definitively say what the best movie is. Art is subjective. It’s all a matter of opinion…one man’s Citizen Kane is another man’s Daddy Day Care.

But, top ten movie lists are good for a couple of things. First, they stimulate conversation. They can get us all talking and discussing the merits of our favorite flicks. Also, they can expose little-known movies to a broader audience.

So, we hope you enjoy the top 10 list below and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper)
2. Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
3. The Tenant (1976, Roman Polanski)
4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, Robert Weine)
5. Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon)
6. Blood and Black Lace (1964, Mario Bava)
7. Tale of Two Sisters (2003, Ji-Woon Kim)
8. Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972, Lucio Fulci)
9. The Descent (2006, Neil Marshall)
10. Ginger Snaps (2002, John Fawcett)

Runners up: Audition, American Werewolf in London, The Shining, Dawn of the Dead, The Devil’s Backbone, Rosemary’s Baby, etc.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fido (2007)

Fido is not your typical gore-drenched, post-apocalyptic zombie movie. Instead, it’s a comedy that lightly pokes fun at 1950’s Americana that is light on gore but heavy on laughs.

It’s the 1950s and after the Zombie Wars the zombie threat has been quelled by a corporation called ZomCon, who has invented a collar that subdues the undead. The collared zombies are now servants in the homes of almost all families. All, that is, except for the Robinsons. Distant husband Bill (Dylan Baker) had a traumatic experience during the Zombie Wars and can’t stand to be in the same room as an undead person. His wife Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss), on the other hand, is desperate to keep up with the Joneses. When the head of security (Henry Czerny) at ZomCon moves into their neighborhood, Helen brings home a zombie (Billy Connolly) so her family can fit in with everyone else. Helen and Bill’s young son Timmy (K’sun Ray) soon builds a close relationship with the zombie, even naming him Fido. Things take a turn for the worse when Fido’s collar malfunctions and he starts killing people. Timmy is so attached to Fido, though, that he covers up for him, putting the entire community at risk.

Fido feels like a cross between Pleasantville and Shaun of the Dead. Its colorful and fantastical ‘50s-styled set design, gorgeous costumes and picturesque setting complement its satirical edge very nicely. It’s not as fanboy-fueled as Shaun of the Dead, but there are some very clever quips throughout the film and I was laughing along the entire time.

Gore obviously wasn’t the focus here, so we get a few zombies chowing down on human flesh, but not much else. For this story, gore really isn’t needed, though, so the lack of it didn’t bother me.

The acting was an absolute joy to watch, especially Carrie-Anne Moss as a lonely ‘50s mom who develops a soft spot for Fido. Billy Connolly as Fido did a spectacular job, especially given the fact that his portrayals of emotion had to come solely through body language and eye contact. The rest of the cast did an amazing job as well.

My favorite part of the film, though, was probably the setting of this alternate 1950s. The always perfectly coiffed and made-up housewives, the retro furniture, gleaming cars and the colorful neighborhoods were all a treat for the eyes. The essence of the ‘50s was also captured perfectly, with plenty of satire and humor sprinkled liberally throughout. Co-writers Andrew Currie (who is also the director) and Robert Chomiak and story writer Dennis Heaton did a wonderful job with capturing the feel of the era with their script and story.

Director Andrew Currie has really crafted a fun, colorful and nostalgic boy-and-his-zombie movie! If you are looking for a zombie film that’s different and doesn’t necessarily focus on the gore (but still has a few dismemberment scenes intact), Fido is man’s best friend!

Available from Amazon!

Monday, October 22, 2007

100 Tears (2007)

Alright, so Hatchet had some pretty sweet gore scenes, especially for a low budget horror movie. I never thought another film in the indie film arena could beat its gore sequences…but I think I may have found one!

100 Tears is an independent film from director Marcus Koch that packs more graphic violence and gruesome gore into its first 15 minutes than most films do in their entire running time! Gorehounds delight, because 100 Tears is destined to become the next cult hit!

The blood-drenched film begins with Gurdy the Clown (Jack Amos) slaughtering a group of halfway home teens with the biggest cleaver I have ever seen!! After some brutal killings, we are introduced to two tabloid reporters, Mark (Joe Davidson, also the film’s writer) and Jennifer (Georgia Chris), who are sick of covering the same alien abduction stories and want bigger fish to fry. They decide to investigate the Teardrop Killer, who has been chopping up people for nigh on 20 years without getting caught. As the two begin piecing the clues together (and realizing how incompetent the police really are), they discover the killer’s carnival past and who his next victim might be. Can they stop the Teardrop Killer before he finds his next victim?

100 Tears shows that amazing special FX can be achieved with a small budget. Hell, some of the effects look better than what their big-budget counterparts could do! It doesn’t hurt that director Marcus Koch also specializes in special FX, either (for Oddtopsy FX). The opening scenes had me shouting, “whoa!!” every two seconds, and, folks, I’ve seen my share of grue over the years. I usually don’t get this excited over it, but the gore is truly the highlight of this film and what sets it so far above others.

The story was also well done, with an intriguing backstory given to Gurdy the Clown. There is plenty of material for a sequel (or prequel) should the filmmakers decide to go that route! Kudos must be given to writer Joe Davidson for the plot as well as the character development. The characters of Mark and Jennifer were well fleshed out, and even the secondary characters (such as the carnie folk) were adequately developed. My one complaint with the story was that it didn’t flow very smoothly. We were constantly jumping back and forth between killings and the investigation. Some smoother transitions could have helped.

As for the acting, I really enjoyed watching Joe Davidson and Georgia Chris play their characters. Their characters were just friends, but they had the exactly right kind of chemistry. They weren’t too flirty or too distant, just REAL. They both sucked me into the story and really made me care about what happened to them. It also helps that (with a few awkward exceptions) the two are naturals in front of a camera! Also enjoyable to watch were Raine Brown in a twisted role as a blossoming young serial killer and Jack Amos who plays a very frightening clown!

However, the film does have flaws. Besides the jumpy narrative and awkward transitions, there are some scenes that drag a little too long (especially a slapstick scene with Mark and Jennifer chasing around a midget that gets old fast), a few instances of bad dialogue, bad lighting, plot holes and inconsistencies (weren’t the cops supposed to show up at the end? Or did they just get lost?) and a rather out-of-the-blue (and into the grue) ending. Not everything works in this film, but when it does work it’ll have you cheering and cringing!

Despite some flaws, 100 Tears is still an entertaining film that boasts a killer that I would gladly welcome seeing again in a sequel. With his humongous cleaver that chops body limbs off left and right, Gurdy the Clown is a very memorable, even iconic, horror character.

Available from Amazon!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Believers (2007)

There are many different beliefs out there, with each cult, religion and following claiming to have the absolute truth. Each says their way is the only key to life everlasting. Most people dismiss cults, religions and belief systems that aren’t their own, but haven’t you ever wondered if, just what if, the supposed “crazies” were actually right? What if the End Times ARE here? What if the Hale Bopp comet really took the Heaven’s Gate crew to a better place? What if Jim Jones, David Korsesh and all the other suicide cults were, in fact, correct? To some, these are preposterous questions to even ponder, but the film Believers, co-written and directed by Blair Witch co-creator David Myrick, really makes you think about those questions and reevaluate your own beliefs.

Paramedics Dave (Johnny Messner) and Vic (Jon Huertas) answer an emergency call from a young girl (Saige Ryan Campbell) who says her mother (Deanna Russo) has lost consciousness. When they arrive at the deserted area, they try to save her life, while the daughter, named Libby, warns them that “they” are coming. Before they can administer CPR, a group of men with guns pull up and forcefully take Libby and her mom, then kidnap Dave and Vic. The men soon find themselves prisoners in an isolated building and begin learning more about the people that kidnapped them. The group is actually a secretive cult that follows their leader, The Teacher (Daniel Benzali), who claims he has cracked a mathematical code that tells when the world will end. The cult believes that they alone are responsible for perpetuating the human race, albeit from across the universe after their “rebirth.” Dave and Vic are kidnapped on the cult’s eve of “departure” from Earth. Vic, a devout Catholic, and Dave, an atheist, find their personal beliefs challenged as the cult members begin preparations for their “rebirth.”

Raw Feed has really put out some fine releases lately. The surreal and eerie Sublime was released to DVD a while back, and now comes the tense and thought-provoking Believers. I was really quite surprised at the high quality of Believers. I expected it to pander to the lowest common denominator and take a sensationalist and tabloid-esque look at cults, but instead it took the intelligent high road. By taking a more subtle approach, the film actually becomes more terrifying.

Director Myrick wisely leaves the cult shrouded in mystery, and builds dread with the eerie atmosphere and cult members themselves, who seem to know a little two much about the two paramedics. Strange experiments happen behind closed doors, one involving bringing Libby’s mom back to life, all the walls (and even some of the cult members) are scrawled with mathematical formulas and a sinister and distorted voice plays over a speaker system in the compound. Everything is kept dark, dim and grimy, which takes its psychological toll on both the two paramedics as well as the audience.

The acting is another thing I wholeheartedly enjoyed. Both Johnny Messner and Jon Huertas put on excellent performances. Their two characters are complete opposites and each makes his struggle with the cult’s beliefs distinctly his own. Daniel Benzali is sufficiently creepy as The Teacher, soft-spoken and utterly convincing as a leader. All of the characters are well-developed and we actually care about what happens to Dave and Vic, even when we are intrigued by the cult’s beliefs.

It’s refreshing to see a horror film that relies on atmosphere and an original story that doesn’t require buckets of blood to make it frightening. Believers is a thought-provoking, intelligent horror film that avoids the current “gore core” trend and succeeds in being genuinely frightening, with an ending that’ll knock your tin-foil hats off!!

Believers comes highly recommended to those that enjoy “thinking horror” like Sublime and Bug, or for those that want some psychological thrills.

Available on Amazon!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Halloween: The Happy Haunting of America (2007)

Halloween is my favorite holiday, one that gets me giddier than I already am and truly brings out the kid in me (I think the extra sugar rush helps, too). Candy corn, caramel apples, some hot cider and a few spooky movies are all I need this time of year. Another staple of the season for me is a Halloween Haunt. Wherever you live, big city or small, you’re bound to have a local haunted house, cornfield, hayride, maze or amusement park. It just wouldn’t be Halloween without a trip to once of these haunts!

Which is why I was so delighted to receive Halloween…The Happy Haunting of America, a 2-disc DVD that celebrates everything Halloween-y!! It features tours of some of the best haunts in the United States, as well as interviews with horror celebrities like Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser), Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man in the Phantasm films), Tony Todd (Candyman), Robert Englund (most famous for playing Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street), Don Coscarelli (director of Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep), Christa Campbell (2001 Maniacs, Death by Engagement, Hallow’s Point), John Gulager (director of Feast), special FX maestro Tom Savini, shock rocker Alice Cooper and so on.

The documentary is hosted by Daniel Roebuck and Bob Burns, no strangers to the horror and sci-fi businesses. Both are hardcore Halloween fans, and take a very fun approach to the spooky season! The original documentary that was released ten years ago is covered on disc one, complete with a Dr. Shocker intro that pays homage to the midnight movie monster and mad doctor TV hosts of yesteryear. The documentary has been remastered, and on disc two one can find a bonus 10th anniversary version, complete with ten new haunts and a tour of The Magic Castle in Hollywood.

My favorite parts of the documentary were the interviews with horror icons where they shared childhood Halloween stories. Hearing about their favorite costumes, how they trick ‘r’ treated and what the holiday meant to them was just plain FUN! I also enjoyed the segment on Don Post Studios and the other mask makers that were featured. The story of how long they’ve been around and how they got started was fascinating!

I found the weakest part of the film to be the presentation of the haunts. There was a quick intro for each, but instead of telling us more about each individual haunt, there is just music over the scenes. I really wish filmmakers Chuck Williams and Daniel Roebuck had decided to go more in-depth with each haunt. Just watching scenes of spooky characters and places set only to music got really repetitive after a while, no matter how cool each haunt looked.

Except for a few shoddy production values, that was my only complaint and I wholeheartedly enjoyed this documentary and all its extra features. Those that adore Halloween will definitely dig this DVD, but even the more casual viewer will fall into the Halloween spirit with the help from The Happy Haunting of America!

Available from Amazon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SiliCon 2007 Report

SiliCon was a blast! A blurry, gone-by-way-too-fast blast!

SiliCon was my first convention appearance as a “guest,” so I was pretty excited/nervous. I, along with my two cohorts/bodyguards hopped into the car at 4am to drive up from Orange County to the Bay Area. After a smooth drive up the 5 freeway, with plenty of fast food hash browns and enough coffee and Rockstars to fuel a busload of caffeine addicts, we arrived in San Jose around 10:30am, checked in and poked around our room.

At 2pm, we headed downstairs to the Green Room, where we got our press badges and ran into Brett and Rob of the Popcorn Review. They regaled us with stories of their new house in L.A. and their custom-built stripper pole. Oh dear…

The convention was still being set up, so we wandered around a bit and met up with Grant, the organizer extraordinaire of the con. He gave us a sneak peek behind the scenes and let us into some areas that were still being set-up. We already saw a lot of people in costume for the cosplay aspect of the con, including a very convincing Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka get-up.

The horror side of the con kicked off with a screening of Slayer. Director Ed Peduzzi, whom I was excited to meet, unfortunately couldn’t attend, which was a real bummer. So instead, we decided to grab some grub at the hotel restaurant. I said hello to some other people, including the lovely Mr. Joe Flynn and Molly, Wil and Murder from Horror Yearbook, before digging into a sandwich and fries, my first real meal of the day.

By then it was around 5:30pm, and we were all exhausted from being up so early and the loooong drive up. We crashed for a few hours before the SiliCon Short Film Festival, which I was judging. After a Rockstar, I was ready to watch 2 hours of short films, baby! My fellow judges included author and all-around sweetie Gregory Solis (Rise and Walk), the crackin’ wise duo of Brett and Robert of the Popcorn Review, director Michael Paul Girard (Oversexed Rugsuckers from Mars) and storyboard artist Neil D’Monte (Pirates of the Caribbean 1 & 2, Day of the Dead remake, Night of the Living Dead 3-D).

Two Rockstars later, all the films had been seen (there were some pretty cool ones!) and the grand prize winner of the Fest was a short called Criticized by director Richard Gale. Criticized ( was an amazing short that told of a critic that gave a scathing review of a horror film, which didn’t sit too well with the filmmaker who takes his revenge in a very eye-popping way. In second place was Grace, the excellent short by director Paul Solet, and third was The Pit and the Pendulum, a stop-motion film based on Poe’s classic tale.

After the film fest, I was wiped out, so after saying hi to a few more people, I completely sacked out. We slept in a bit Saturday morning, but managed to rouse ourselves for breakfast (with plenty of coffee for me!). It seemed that there were a lot of problems with the audio/visual equipment, so a lot of the films I was looking forward to finally seeing on a big screen didn’t even play. Bummer.

On Saturday, I did catch Michelle Fatale’s excellent film The Cleaner, starring Kristin Burke and Shannon Lark. Though there were some technical difficulties, the crowd absolutely loved the short and they even had a fun Q & A afterward with Fatale and most of the cast. Since the hotel staff was having so many difficulties with the audio/visual equipment, among other technical difficulties, and since I had already seen most of the films screening at the con, we decided to slip out after lunch and take a tour of the Winchester Mystery House! It’s highly recommended if you are ever in San Jose!

We got back around dinner and met up with Jeff Smith, director of Stupid Teenagers Must Die! and their lovely PR rep, Sara Parrell at the bar. Saturday night is traditionally party central at SiliCon, so we began to prepare ourselves for the festivities…

On Floor 2 everyone began opening up their rooms for party-goers and offering up alcoholic drinks for guests. The Klingon room was by far the best of the night, with super-strong drinks being handed out like candy (with proper ID, of course) along with Klingon songs sung by everyone dressed up. You haven’t lived until a huge guy dressed in a Klingon suit prepares a drink named “Revenge” for you while singing about said drink.

Hanging out at the bar with the Horror Yearbook crew, we learned how one of their staff members had allegedly had a run-in with the Black Devil Doll ( crew after commenting how one of their stripper actresses looked like a transvestite on their posters. Everyone was buzzing about the film’s trailer, though, which looks to be exactly as advertised on their site, “violent, misogynistic, sleazy.”

Also got to chat a bit with director Mel House and actor Tim Wrobel of Closet Space (– really fun guys to hang out with! Around midnight I even caught a screening of Stupid Teenagers Must Die! at the Midnight Movie Massacre, which was a lot of fun!!

Everyone was up ‘til the wee hours of the morning, so none of us stumbled out of bed until late Sunday morning. I couldn’t stick around on Sunday because of a previous engagement, but we managed to grab some grub before saying our goodbyes and heading out.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of the convention, except for those above. I don’t know why, but I didn’t pull out my camera once for the festivities!! Hmmm…guess this means I’ll have to go back next year!!
SiliCon showcased a very close-knit group of horror enthusiasts, and I was very happy to see familiar faces again, along with some new ones. It was definitely a pleasure to attend and I thank both and SiliCon for having me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Masters of Horror - Sounds Like (2006)

Director Brad Anderson made his debut in the horror genre with his brilliant and subtly creepy Session 9 (if you haven’t seen it, go get it NOW)  and followed that with the mind-bending The Machinist. Both were solid films, focusing on character development and storyline as opposed to splashing the screen with blood. Anderson’s subtle horror streak continues with his Masters of Horror episode Sounds Like.

In the film, Larry (Chris Bauer), a call monitor at a large tech firm, is still mourning the loss of his young son. He isolates himself from his wife, his coworkers and the rest of the world, treasuring silence. That is, until he notices that his already precise hearing is becoming more and more sensitive. Soon, a fly crawling on a window or rain falling on his car become deafening noises. Larry begins to lose it, eventually turning to murder and other drastic measures to achieve silence.

Out of all the episodes I’ve seen this season, Sounds Like is the best one so far. Anderson really takes his time to develop his characters and his films are all the better for it. Anderson puts us in Larry’s shoes and seems to ask us, “well, what would YOU do?” Larry is not an entirely likable character, by any means, but when we are privy to all the noise he hears, we can definitely sympathize.

Speaking of the noise, the sound design is one of the best aspects of the film. At one point, Larry runs into a public library to gain some solitude but finds all the page turning, pencil chewing and keyboard tapping unbearable. There is also a great scene when rain starts falling on his windshield, only instead of rain drops it sounds like bombs are being dropped!

Another thing I enjoyed about the episode was the social commentary on technology running our lives these days. People are constantly surrounded by cell phones, TV, the Internet, texting and so on…we are always in communication with each other, but very rarely do we take the time to reflect on ourselves. Still, Anderson also shows us that we need to communicate and interact with each other and not become isolated, either from ourselves or from other people.

As for the red stuff, this episode isn’t too heavy on the grue for you gorehounds out there. There are quite a few nasty scenes, especially one towards the end involving a wriggling horde of maggots. The ending is expected, but it still doesn’t lessen its impact!

Sounds Like is one of the (much) better Masters of Horror episodes out there and I highly recommend checking it out. I can’t wait to see what director Brad Anderson has up his sleeve next…

Available from Amazon!

Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

John Dies at the End is a hilariously frightening and frighteningly hilarious genre-bending book by author David Wong. It is a blend of comedy, horror and sci-fi that manages to mix alternate realities, creepy monsters and dick and fart jokes seamlessly!

There is so much going on in the book that I hardly know where to start with the synopsis. Basically, David and John are just two slackers until they become entangled in this weird, otherworldly drug called Soy Sauce. Most people who take it end up dead, but the side effects for John and David are much stranger. They start seeing things other people can’t see and get glimpses of other worlds. They find they have a special talent for solving “weird” cases like hauntings, monsters and other paranormal activity. David and John then realize that the strange things that have been happening to them (not just battling monsters and such, but loss of time and changes in reality) are all connected to someone (or something) named Korrok. They must figure out a way to stop this thing called Korrok before the floodgates to Hell are opened right under their little town. Throw in a meat monster, a giant, floating sea creature, lots of glowing eyes, a dog who can drive and a girl with a missing hand and you’ve got a vague idea of John Dies at the End.

This book was absolutely wild! From the moment I began reading I could not put the book down! (No, seriously, I think it was like stuck to my hand or something…) Wong tells his crazy story in first person narrative through David’s perspective. David has been contacted by a reporter named Arnie who wants to do a feature on him and John in regards to their paranormal investigations. So David relays his entire strange story, from beginning to end, to the reporter. The resulting narrative kept my interest throughout the entire novel and there wasn’t a second where I wasn’t entertained.

The tone of the book is very lighthearted and comedic, though some truly horrific events occur. David and John take these events in stride, even casually, which just makes the story even more amusing. Despite all the jokiness, there is some seriously disturbing and scary stuff lurking within John Dies at the End. Images of strange beasts and monstrous entities will probably haunt your nightmares after reading this book.

It’s also true what I said about so much going on in the book…it is packed to its slimy and otherworldly gills with a levitating, drug-dealing Jamaican, a Morgan Freeman-lookalike detective, a Mall of the Dead, a man made of roaches, crashing a Las Vegas séance, exploding body parts, Shadow People, other dimensions, portals to Hell, time travel, J.-Lo, a very odd dog and many, many hideous monsters. In other words, if you’re looking for something random, say, like a gigantic gorilla-arachnid hybrid, this book probably has it.

John Dies at the End is an action-packed and horror-filled book that spews hilarious and inappropriate humor at every turn.  The book could be compared to an acid trip, without having to actually suffer the side effects (ok, I lied; you’ll probably suffer nightmares). Besides wrapping humor and horror up together with a nice bow, John Dies at the End is a mind-bending and mind-enhancing book. Like the Soy Sauce, it’ll open up your eyes to a whole new world.

Available from Amazon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Girl Next Door (2007)

Based on the Jack Ketchum book of the same name, The Girl Next Door tells of the horrors hidden behind white picket fence suburbia in the 1950’s. It is an unflinchingly brutal and heartbreaking film that stays true to the book’s narrative and manages to bring the book’s disturbing scenes to shocking life.

The film begins with every kid’s favorite time of year…summertime! A time of freedom, hanging out with friends and long summer days to do whatever you want. On a dead end street in suburbia, though, the summer of ‘58 will forever change the life of a young boy. David (Daniel Manche) lives next door to the Chandlers. The Chandlers consist of single mom Ruth (Blanche Baker), whose husband ran off with another woman years ago, and her three sons, Woofer (Austin Williams), Donny (Benjamin Ross Kaplan) and Willy Jr (Graham Patrick Martin). They have just adopted their two cousins, Meg (Blythe Auffarth) and Susan (Madeline Taylor), whose parents died in a car accident. Both girls were involved in the crash, and while Meg escaped with only a few scars, younger Susan has to now walk with leg braces and crutches. David and the other boys spend their days lounging around the Chandler house (Ruth has always been a cool mom and lets them drink and smoke). David gets a crush on Meg, but begins to notice how poorly Ruth treats the girls. She verbally abuses them, and things quickly escalate to physical abuse. Woofer, Donny and Willy Jr. quickly join in, and soon even other neighborhood kids are joining in to torment the girls. David seems powerless to do anything, even when things get so bad that Ruth has Meg strung up in the basement, blindfolded and just hanging by her arms. Meg’s torture only gets more and more sadistic and brutal at the hands of Ruth, her sons and the neighborhood kids. Can David do something to help or will he too fall victim to Ruth’s insanity and cruelty?

Book adaptations are tricky to pull off, but The Girl Next Door manages to recreate the intensity and horror of Jack Ketchum’s book. The horrifying events that take place in the Chandler household feel very real and watching the film you are very aware that this could possibly be happening right next door to you. It is, in fact, based on the shocking true story of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens, who was beaten, raped and tortured until her death by an adoptive family and the neighborhood kids in Indiana in 1965.

The real crime that was committed, along with the book that was inspired by it and this film are all examples of how vile, cruel and evil some people can be. The depravity in the film is shocking, and not just because it graphically shows the torture (it doesn’t). It’s the emotion (or lack of emotion) and mob mentality behind the actions of the Chandlers and all who joined in that will really chill your bones. I run a horror review site and I’ve seen some pretty messed up stuff in my day, but the cruelty portrayed in this movie actually brought tears to my eyes.

Director Gregory Wilson films unobtrusively and lets the film unfold before our eyes. The audience is treated as a voyeur, and like David, there is nothing we can do to stop the evil occurring right before our eyes. We are stuck just watching the shocking torture that is happening to Meg and Susan. The direction is so unobtrusive that you actually feel that you are there, a trick that Jack Ketchum also pulls off in the novel.
Speaking of the novel, screenwriters Daniel Farrands and Philip Nutman did a fine job adapting the book and showing the heartbreaking emotions that Meg, Susan and David go through, as well as the hate that Ruth feels towards the younger girls. The confusion and conflict David goes through feels very real and is portrayed quite well by Daniel Manche. Blythe Auffarth does an amazing job in her portrayal of Meg. Meg’s strong will, even through extreme pain, is shown very well by Auffarth. I expect to see great things from this young actress in the future. Blanche Baker also does a great job as Ruth, really making the audience hate her.

My only complaint with the characters is that there wasn’t enough time spent on Woofer, Donny and Willy Jr. Their characters just weren’t fleshed out enough to truly buy their horrific actions. The book paints a much clearer picture as to who each one really is and what drives them to engage in such deviant and disturbing behavior. Still, with the time constraints of a film, I understand that some things needed to be trimmed down and the overall feeling of the book remains intact.

The Girl Next Door is definitely not a film for everyone. When faced with the true horrors of this world as opposed to the cartoonish and larger-than-life slashers and serial killers, most people will wet their pants after watching this film. It is a heartbreakingly brutal look at the vile nature of some humans and is packed with sincere emotion.

It’s also a film that must be seen.

Available from Amazon!

Wretched (2007)

Wretched is a short film about one woman’s struggle to maintain control through bulimia through her failing marriage and deepening depression. While this might seem more like a Lifetime tearjerker than a horror movie, in the able hands of writer/co-director Heidi Martinuzzi and director Leslie Delano the tale is spun as horrifyingly as possible, complete with buckets of blood effects care of Gregory Nicotero.

A married couple is sitting in a diner and enjoying a meal of burgers, fries and chocolate cake. Jenny (Jaime Andrews) seems ravenous and really digs into her meal while her husband Eric (Joe Bob Briggs) digs into her, belittling her for being “lazy” even though he knows she is depressed. Jenny excuses herself, goes to the bathroom, and forces everything she just ate back up again. She goes back and forth between the table and the bathroom, excusing herself every time her relationship starts to spiral out of control and her husband asks her pointed questions she has no answers for. Pretty soon, she herself starts losing control…with very bloody results.

Why don’t more women tackle the horror genre? If there were more women directors and writers in the genre, I believe there would be a lot more female fans out there. Then perhaps women would get more horror films that were actually relevant and catered to them, instead of the predominantly male point-of-views we usually get.

Wretched is an example of the kind of films we could get with more women behind the scenes. It was written and co-directed by horror journalist and founder of Heidi Martinuzzi and directed by Leslie Delano, who also made the feminist slasher Deadly Lessons. Wretched is a rare film, one that is intelligent, female-centric and extremely bloody!

The performances by Joe Bob Briggs and Jaime Andrews are pitch-perfect. Everything feels extremely realistic, especially the way the husband and wife act towards each other. Their body language shows that they have no real connection and they are completely distant from each other. Briggs and Andrews do a wonderful job portraying the unhappy couple. While Briggs’ character acts as the antagonist, constantly nagging and harassing his wife, Andrews plays Jenny with wide-eyed confusion, only feeling control when she’s upchucking in the bathroom. Very believable performances from both actors.

Another aspect that makes the film so believable (and therefore, more disturbing) is the script. The story draws you in and quickly unfolds. The characters are familiar to us (who hasn’t known a bickering couple?) and well-developed. The film also takes on the serious subjects of bulimia, depression and abusive relationships and offers a glimpse into a woman’s psyche.

Wretched is a well-written, expertly acted, thoughtfully directed and socially conscious film, but it doesn’t stop there…it also doesn’t skimp on the blood! Special FX guru Gregory Nicotero handles the blood effects in the film and he certainly doesn’t disappoint. The result is an intelligent, engaging and blood-soaked film that will hopefully encourage more women to pick up a camera and get involved in the horror genre.

WretchedOfficial Site
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