Sunday, May 29, 2011

Music Review: God Module – Rituals EP

God Module is quickly becoming one of the most exciting bands in the EBM/industrial world, with their “spooky dance music” and commanding stage performances winning fans over world-wide. They’ve been around since 1999 and have subsequently released a total of eight albums and EP’s, but it seems that they are just getting bigger and better!

God Module is releasing their latest EP, Rituals, August 9th, 2011 and their next full-length album, Séance, in September 2011. I am a huge fan of God Module and have eagerly anticipated their new album since last year’s release, The Magic in My Heart is Dead.

Rituals is a sneak peek as to what fans have in store with Séance, and it doesn’t disappoint! It features the single “Rituals”, two additional new songs, “Remember” and “Devil’s Night” as well as remixes of the title track by Modulate, White Ring, iVardensphere and Mordacious.

As soon as the title track kicks in with a heavy beat and God Module’s recognizable dark lyrics, it was all I could do but get up and dance! “Rituals” is a solid track that shows the musical progression of the band and highlights their tight dance beats, harsh lyrics and clever horror-themed samples. This is one song that will get you up out of your grave for a cemetery danse macabre!

Their other two new songs, “Remember” and “Devil’s Night”, showcase their varied style. “Remember” is a more low-key affair featuring lyrics from new band member Clint Carney (System Syn) and crunching guitars from Adam Vex (Imperative Reaction). “Devil’s Night” will certainly become another God Module anthem with lyrics like “let’s dance like we’re dead” and features Courtney Bangert’s haunting backing vocals alongside Jasyn Bangert’s harsher ones.

Rituals is an infectious EP that will get your blood pumping and definitely has me excited for September’s Séance. Fans will no doubt revel in God Module’s morbidly decadent lyrics and harsh EBM beats.

Pre-order Rituals on Metropolis Records!


01. Rituals
02. Rituals (Distorted Memory Mix)
03. Devils Night (Modulate B-Ket Mix)
04. Rituals (White Ring Mix)
05. Rituals (God Mod Clubbed To Death Mix)
06. Remember (God Mod Vexed Mix)
07. Rituals (iVardensphere Mix)
08. Rituals (Mordacious Mix)

Check out our interview with God Module HERE!

Visit God Module's Official Site and Facebook page!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sole Survivor (1983)

Sole Survivor is a little-known and underappreciated horror film that had obvious influence on the Final Destination series. When I watched it a few days ago, I was surprised that I hadn’t given it a look sooner, as it was a solid, entertaining film.

Denise (Anita Skinner) is the sole survivor of a deadly plan crash. The crash and Denise’s survival was predicted by a washed-up actress named Karla (Caren Larkey) that Denise is working with on a commercial. After the crash, Karla seems to want to warn Denise of some other imminent threat and her doctor warns her of “survivor’s guilt”, where Denise may experience intense depression and guilt over her survival. Soon, strange things start to occur…Denise begins seeing menacing people and is involved in several near-death accidents. Turns out that Death is after Denise and is sending the recently deceased to try to finish her off…

Sole Survivor is a well-made film that manages to maintain a sense of tension throughout its entire running time. It also has some pretty haunting images, especially one where we see Karla’s vision of Denise after surviving the plane crash. The camera pans over the mangled, lifeless bodies of the crash victims and comes to rest on Denise, still strapped in her airplane seat with a shocked look on her face. I also thought the creepy people that come after Denise were very effective, with their slack, expressionless faces and zombie-like movements.

The story combines psychological terrors with real-life threats in a very effective manner. Its story’s twists kept my eyes glued to the screen for the entire running time and I loved the downbeat ending and creepy last scene. Sole Survivor is an intriguing and entertaining film that you should definitely check out!

Available on Amazon!

Book Review: DJ Zom-B and the Ungrateful Dead by Vinnie Penn

DJ Zom-B is a fast-paced debut zombie novel from author Vinnie Penn, who is the host of radio talk show The Vinnie Penn Project as well as an online contributing writer to MSN, Maxim and Cracked. As the book starts, our lead character, Luke Zombulli, better known to the world as abrasive radio personality DJ Zom-B, wakes up to the hellish world of a zombie apocalypse. After holing up in his apartment for a few days, he decides to venture out to the local radio station in hopes of broadcasting and searching for other survivors. Once there he meets other survivors but learns that humans are just as deadly, and much more twisted, than the zombies roaming the streets.

DJ Zom-B is a fun and thrilling book from Penn, though it is a little short in length at 171 pages. Penn, who has experience in the broadcasting industry, delivers quirky observations and quick witted comments through smart-ass (but inherently likable) DJ Zom-B. The zombie action isn’t half bad either, but the real terror doesn’t start until the villains of the book, some unlawful lawmen, arrive to round up both survivors and zombies. They plan on using the zombies, as well as the survivors, for their own personal, errrr, “entertainment”. Yup, it’s just as bad as it sounds!

The book also features a pop princess, her lovelorn deejay, a sound engineer that may or may not be turning into a zombie and several other characters that look to DJ Zom-B for leadership. Some of the characters are more developed than others (for good reason, since some characters quickly become zombie snacks), but we get a good feel for those in for the long haul.

I originally thought that the book would stick to a storyline like the film Pontypool (review) or even Dead Air (review), but the book doesn’t take place mainly in a DJ booth, but rather all over the state of Connecticut as the survivors try to escape the zombie hordes and unscrupulous lawmen. This was a relief for me, because I didn’t want to read a re-hash of these fine films. I also thought the despicable acts by the lawmen were far more horrifying than the gut-munching the zombies were doing, and was glad that Penn shifted his gaze a bit from the terror of the zombies to the callousness of humans.

While DJ Zom-B is a fun zombie novel, I thought it would have perhaps worked a bit better had it been condensed into a short story instead. There are several points in the book that just drag on a bit too much and I feel the story could have been more efficiently streamlined. Nonetheless, DJ Zom-B was an enjoyable read and is recommended for fans of zombie (and human) mayhem.

Available on Amazon!

Magazine Review: Diabolique Issue 4

Do you remember the first time you picked up a horror magazine? Perhaps it was Famous Monsters in Filmland or Fangoria, but whatever magazine it was, you no doubt remember the exhilarating rush of flipping through the lurid pages and reading articles on your favorite horror icons.

I don’t know about you, but it has been a long time since I have felt that excitement about a horror magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I pretty much snap up any horror magazine I see on the newsstand, be it Rue Morgue or HorrorHound, but it has been a while since something has come around and really swept me off my feet.

Until, now, that is…

Diabolique is a gorgeous new full color magazine that takes a scholarly perspective of the genre of Gothic horror in film, literature and art from around the world. Diabolique is published bi-monthly and presents timely articles and reviews on both new and old classics. It stands apart from other horror magazines with its cerebral approach to our much-beloved genre and its retrospectives on classic horror.

I received Issue 4 for review, which contains articles on the late, great director Jean Rollin, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, Hammer Films’ upcoming release Wakewood, the new wave of French horror, an insightful article on the new face of horror distribution and more. All the articles are thoughtfully written, and I especially enjoyed Nigel Wingrove’s “Dreams of Dead Girls & Blind Vampires”, a retrospective on visionary, but often underappreciated, French horror director Jean Rollin (who sadly passed away this past December) and “Black Sunday” by Robyn Talbot, an article on Mario Bava’s breakthrough classic of the same name (and one of my personal favorite films!).

The articles are complemented by beautiful photos, including many rare prints of stills and film posters. As an added bonus, many of these are available for purchase on Diabolique’s site,, which also features web exclusives to subscribers!

I was definitely impressed by the high quality of both the articles and overall aesthetic of this wonderful new magazine. When I first started flipping through its pages, a feeling of giddiness swept through me that I hadn’t felt in a long, long time when reading a horror publication. Diabolique definitely brings back the feeling of joy and awe you experienced when you cracked open your first horror magazine.

Issues of Diabolique are available in both print and digital editions on as well as in many fine bookstores (though we have been told these always sell out, so grab yours before it’s too late!). Issue 5 should be out soon, so keep your eyes peeled for this fabulous and highly recommended horror magazine that is truly the cream of the crop!

For more info and subscription information, visit Horror Unlimited!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Damn Your Eyes (2009)

Damn Your Eyes is a short film that emulates the gritty stylishness of spaghetti Westerns by faithfully recreating the feel of the classic Italian-lensed Westerns, complete with a mysterious desperado out for revenge, a distinct score, old-school shootouts and plenty of bloodshed.
Sam (Jakob Von Eichel), a mysterious stranger, arrives in town to exact revenge on the men who wronged him when he was only a child. He encounters Louisa (Marisa Costa), a prostitute who dreams of a better life. Meanwhile, Dennis (Ray Reynolds), the town’s lawman, is familiar with Sam’s past and makes it his personal duty to stop him before the violence escalates.

Writer/director David Guglielmo has created a stunning short film with Damn Your Eyes. While not strictly horror, Damn Your Eyes has that outlaw aesthetic and plenty of violence that will no doubt attract horror fans. The visuals are impressive, creating a faithful-looking Wild West even on the film’s tight budget (the short was supposedly filmed for just $5,000), and the direction is sharp and focused, really engaging the viewer. While the film has limited locations (mainly a saloon and two different houses), it never feels like this negatively impacts the film. Instead, it shows how the film overcame its budgetary limitations while still delivering a visually arresting story.

While the visuals used really capture the feel of a spaghetti Western, I also must mention the excellent use of music throughout that gave the film a haunting, lonesome quality so associated with Westerns. The score really gave the film that extra polish and feel of completion.

As for the acting, it was top-notch. I really loved Jakob Von Eichel as the mysterious sharp-shooter Sam. Equally impressive was Marisa Costa as saloon prostitute Louisa, exuding equal parts vulnerability and tough-as-nails attitude.

I loved the authentic feel of the film and the vivid world it created. With dashes of grindhouse grit, Western bravado, gallows humor and even a few gruesome bits sprinkled throughout, not to mention the engaging story that unfolds on-screen, Damn Your Eyes was an absolute joy to watch. My only complaint is that it wasn’t long enough. However, the short has been receiving rave reviews, and hopefully this will allow filmmaker Guglielmo to push forward with a sequel or perhaps even a full-length feature.

I certainly hope to see more of writer/director David Guglielmo, because this is one of the best (and one of my favorite) short films I've seen!!

For more info (and to watch this amazing short yourself), please visit the short film's official site!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monomaniacal (2011)

Monomaniacal is a short film from writer/director Michael Sharpe. The description from the film’s Vimeo page (“A young woman flees for her life after escaping a killer's wrath”) didn’t tell me too much, so I just decided to click play and hope for the best.

The film starts with a typical scene of a girl being tortured by a faceless killer (Tim Ross) in a dark, dank basement. You can be certain that plenty of screaming and bloodletting ensues. Once the killer leaves his victim alone, she notices other victims strewn about the room and, surprisingly, one is still (barely) alive. The two scheme a way out and soon the victim’s newest victim, whose name is Sam (played by Katie Bearden), tries to help the injured victim Jess (Brittany Bass). However, the killer comes back and only Sam escapes. Then she is on a run for her life through the woods as the killer pursues her. Will Sam survive the horrors of the night and can she overcome the new terrors daylight reveals?

Monomaniacal doesn’t tread any new ground in the horror genre, but it is an enjoyable short with several strong performances. Katie Bearden gives a fierce performance as the victim who decides to fight back. Her spunk, strength and perseverance reminded me a lot of Eliza Dushku’s performances. Even though Brittany Bass didn’t have that big of a part, you could tell she put her all into the performance. Her portrayal of her character is so realistic you can nearly feel her pain and suffering! Lastly, Catherine Trail gives a shocking performance as a character called simply the “Woman”. While not completely unexpected, she spews some vitriol that is quite startling coming from her prim appearance.

While the short has a predictable story, at least Sharpe’s direction is, well, sharp. Scenes are well lit, the viewer is engaged by varied camera angles and he definitely knows how to capture the action. His story isn’t that original, but at least he knows how to tell a story in an interesting manner.

I didn’t expect much from this short after its torture porn-esque opening, but was pleasantly surprised by Michael Sharpe’s strong direction and the impressive performances from the cast. If you get a chance to check out Monomaniacal, do so!

For more information on the film, including upcoming screenings, check out its Facebook page!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

I’ll be honest with you; I had absolutely no interest in seeing this remake. While there is no doubt that the original is a very brutal and notorious affair (so notorious, in fact, that I had avoided watching it until late last year), I had no desire to see it hashed out in a slick, Hollywood version. I’m not a huge fan of the original to begin with (no matter what anyone says it still feels misogynistic to me and I hate they didn’t spend nearly as much time on the revenge as they did the rape), so I was in no rush whatsoever to check out this remake.

Wow, sometimes I love it when I’m wrong…

If you are not familiar, the film is about a young author named Jennifer who heads out to an isolated cabin in hopes that the peace and quiet will inspire her writing. On the way there she meets some odd characters at the local gas station. These good ol’ boys give her a hard time, but she drives away thinking nothing of it. As the next few days pass and she settles in to her new location, she begins hearing strange noises at night. She doesn’t think too much of them, but one night she gets a surprise visit from the three overgrown boys from the gas station and their mentally challenged friend. They degrade and humiliate her, all while video-taping, but she manages to escape and runs into the sheriff in the woods. She tells him her story and they head back to the cabin to investigate…but the worst is yet to come. Soon, Jennifer finds herself brutalized, violated and violently gang-raped. The men leave her for dead, but soon she seeks her righteous retribution…

As you can see, this film added several new touches to the revenge story. It focuses not just on the assault and the events leading up to it, but also on the aftermath as the rapists try to cover their tracks of the crime. I liked how the latter part of the film showed us what went on with the rapists after they assumed Jennifer was dead and how events eventually led up to Jennifer’s revenge.

While this film does not skimp on the brutality of the rape, I felt it went a bit further than the original in making us feel for Jennifer. The scenes where they humiliate and belittle her in the cabin were just as hard to watch as the rape scenes were, and really got my blood boiling. By the time the guys had finished their nasty business (which is quite and endurance test), I was about ready to reach through the screen myself and attack them myself. Their characters are so vile that you just can’t help but wish the worst to befall them.

The rape scenes themselves will make your stomach churn and actress Sarah Butler, who played Jennifer, must be given mad props for so realistically portraying the victim. I also must commend the actors who played her attackers, because I doubt any of these fellas will be getting a date anytime soon!

By the time of the revenge scenes, I was just itchin’ for the villains to get their due (and hoping I wouldn’t be shortchanged like in the original). I was hoping for vast suffering for all of them, and boy, did the film deliver! I won’t give anything away, but the dudes definitely get their due!

Finally, a remake that gets it right! I Spit on Your Grave pays homage to the original while updating (hey studios, take a lesson: “updating” should not mean “dumbing down”!) and improving it. Thank you director Steven R. Monroe for giving us a fresh remake that exceeds the potential of its original source material!

If you’ve been wishy-washy on checking this one out (like I was), do yourself a favor and watch it! It is actually a great remake and also a great horror film all-around!

Order it on Amazon!

The House that Cried Murder (1973)

This 1970s obscurity somehow weaseled its way to the top of my Netflix queue and let me tell you, this House is one fixer-upper!

Wealthy daddy’s girl Barbara builds an ugly, modern monstrosity just cuz she is bored and wants to truly do something with her life. She plans on moving into the house with her boyfriend, the slimy David, who works at the same firm her father owns. Despite warnings from her father that David “stinks”, Barbara gets her way and ties the knot with David. Daddy’s little girl should have listened to her father, because David really does stink! The adulterous asshole sneaks off during their wedding reception with his ex-girlfriend. Sure enough, Barbara finds him pants down in the bedroom! Barbara takes a pair of scissors to David’s arm before storming off through the wedding guests with a bloodied wedding gown and burning rubber out of there. She disappears, and neither David nor her father hears from her for days or weeks. Despite the tumultuous events of the wedding day, Barbara’s father is overly chummy with David and tells him from now on will be treating David like a son. Meanwhile, David and his ex have re-connected after their lousy rendezvous and are apparently living together. Their bliss is short-lived when they are terrorized in their own home by ominous phone messages, severed chicken heads and expensive bridal gowns.

The House that Cried Murder is one stinker of a movie. First off, the transfer is so bad that the film is littered with scratch marks, weird jump cuts and switches between being too dark or too washed out. Now, I’ve seen plenty of old films in all different states, but this is one of the worst-looking ones I’ve ever seen. Furthermore, the actually lighting in the film is nonexistent, leaving actor’s faces perpetually drenched in shadows while the rest of the surroundings are washed out. I could have overlooked all this had the film actually been decent, but it just drags on and on with no real tension or scares to speak of. Barbara may be crazy, but at least she isn’t the annoying little twat that David’s ex is…good God, I just wanted her to meet a terrible demise but I was denied even that as she is scared off by the chicken head, phone calls and other shenanigans that start to plague her and David.

The film is packed full of more filler than your average hot dog, with pointless scenes of David and his ex strolling a street fair, Barbara and David walking through a field, and so on. This film really needed to get to the action already. Only, I guess there really wasn’t too much action to really get to, now was there? The climax and ending of the film feature a neat little twist, but getting there was absolute torture and the ending doesn’t make up for the boredom I suffered sitting through this dilapidated House. I just wanted this wretchedly boring movie to end…maybe they should call this The House that Cried Uncle instead.

If you are an absolute fiend for bad ‘70s movies (with bad music to match, natch) and this is one you haven’t seen before…well, I would say to skip it anyways. However, if you are a masochist, by all means check this film out; but in my opinion this House should be condemned!

Order it on Amazon!

Alucarda (1978)

Alucarda is an unheralded gem and even within the horror community I don’t think too many people are familiar with this Mexican film by Juan López Moctezuma. This is a pity, because the film boasts beautiful visuals, controversial themes and violent deaths.

Alucarda is about two teenage girls living in a Catholic convent that also serves as an orphanage. Justine arrives at the convent after her parents die, leaving no one to care for her. Taken in by the nuns (who wear weird, mummy-like wrappings) Justine is placed in a room with Alucarda and the two girls quickly become inseparable. On a walk in the forest one day, they happen on a band of gypsies selling charms and trinkets. After a gypsy tells Alucarda and Justine they have only darkness in their future, the girls run away and stumble upon an enormous old crypt in the middle of the woods. While they are exploring, they open an old coffin and unleash a demonic force that possesses them. Back at the convent, the demonic force is unleashed upon the kind nuns and other inhabitants.

The visuals of the film border on gothic, with misty forests, decrepit crypts and Catholic imagery. The convent itself is lit by flickering candles and its sparse, utilitarian rooms are only decorated with crosses. Its church has rows upon rows of crosses, each fitted with an agonizing Christ. The stone crypt that the girls explore is festooned with faded red banners, creepy statues and lots of vines growing over everything. The gothic feel is reminiscent of many old Hammer films, with the subject matter just being a bit more dark and controversial.

For its time, the film was controversial, as it dealt with lesbianism, Satanism, sacrilege, the occult and more. While these themes are considered “tame” today, don’t be mistaken – the film still packs a punch. From a kiss that turns into Alucarda licking the blood off a naked Justine, to a gypsy Satanist that can invoke the Devil, to bloody psychic nuns to midnight orgies, to reanimated corpses to a fiery, Carrie-esque conclusion, this film will definitely keep your attention.

However, I feel like the above paragraph also does a disservice to Alucarda, as it is as not as exploitative as it may seen. The arresting visuals, engaging storyline and multi-layered themes heighten the film and make it into something much more substantial than your standard exploitative occult flick. The themes of evil corrupting even the most innocent, but also of redemption and ultimate faith, will resonate with viewers, regardless on their view of religion.

Alucarda is an underrated gem, and one that more fans of classic horror should definitely seek out.

Buy it on Amazon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Crucified Dreams edited by Joe R. Lansdale

Like any self-respecting horror fan, I’m a huge fan of Joe R. Lansdale’s work. So, I was very excited to check out this collection of short stories Lansdale had hand-picked to appear in Crucified Dreams. In the introduction, Lansdale explains how he set out to capture stories that were similar to his maverick writing style, and I think he has done a fine job with the selections featured in Crucified Dreams. He has plucked unsettling, off-kilter stories from the very best horror authors out there (among them Stephen King, Harlan Ellison and Lansdale himself) that span nearly four decades.

From the back cover:

A naïve young woman witnesses a brutal murder and discovers the soul-deadening price of being a New Yorker. The family man quits smoking with the sinister assistance of a family-friendly corporation. A truck driver takes a simple shortcut, and lands in a living hell and a battle to the death. An aging Hollywood screenwriter’s career is on the wane until he reinvents himself as a less principled man.

Crucified Dreams reaches down through the gutters into the shadowy depths of the imagination. These are the savage tales that unite noir with horror and the ordinary with the unfathomable. Combing the urban, the paranormal, and the downright terrifying, these award-winning stories go where your deepest fears—and inner demons—are already realized.

Classic tales from horror masters reside within the near 400 page collection, and while I enjoyed all of the stories, I did have a few favorites. Harlan Ellison’s “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” left me breathless and paints quite a gloomy picture for apathetic city-dwellers. “The Mojave Two-Step” by Norman Partridge and “Front Man” by David Morrell show the danger of following fortune and glory, one from the view of a stolen ice cream truck barreling through the desert toward Vegas and the other through the eyes of an award-winning but aging screenwriter looking for work in shallow Hollywood. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the characterization of the two leads in Jeffrey Ford’s “Coffins on the River”, about two old artists who take quite a trip that results in a terrifying ghostly encounter. “Copping Squid” by Michael Shea is an excellent Cthulhu-inspired tale set in the ‘hood, and Ellen Klages gives us an eerie look into an alternate universe through the perspective of a little girl in “Singing on a Star”. “Nightbeat” by Neal Barrett, Jr. offers up another alternate (or future) world filled with made-up words that conjure up a beautiful yet sinister landscape.

These are but a few of the 19 tales featured in Crucified Dreams, and while those mentioned were my favorites I must say that all the short stories in the collection were well worth reading and left an indelible imprint upon my psyche. The collection is a mix of the gritty and graphic with the subtle and psychological and will be a welcome addition to any horror fan’s book collection.

Buy yours today on Amazon!
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