Monday, November 24, 2014


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many of us are gearing up for a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie. Just in time for our national holiday of thanks is another pumpkin-based treat: PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOODWINGS on Bluray!

Just like Scream Factory's recent release of the original PUMPKINHEAD on Bluray, they have made the film look much better than it deserves. You can see ever practical effect in its full glory. If you are planning on pumpkin-filled gluttony on turkey day, you should do it in the best possible way.

Bonus features include:
  • NEW Audio Commentary with director Jeff Burr
  • NEW - RE-CREATING THE BEAST featuring new interviews with special effects artists Greg Nicotero, Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCraken
  • NEW MAKING MOVIES an interview with director Jeff Burr
  • Behind-the-scenes footage

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Interview: ANGUS SAMPSON Of The Mule

Best know as one half of the paranormal investigators in the Insidious series Australia's Angus Sampson just pulled in triple duty as co-writer/co-director and star of the new black comedy The Mule. Based on true events, Sampson plays sad sack Ray Jenkins, a man coerced into carrying a kilo of heroin into Australia by holding it in through his outdoor. When customs picks him up and holds him on suspicion, Jenkins has to withhold the evidence for a week by, well, holding in his poop. The film is riveting and wildly funny while also containing some pure gross out moments.

Ahead of The Mule's release on VOD on November 21st, we had the chance to interview Angus about how he prepared for the role and about the writing process and class tensions that inform the film.

So when you're preparing for this role where your character has a kilo of heroin shoved into their keester for the bulk of the film, what kind of objects do you put up your butt in rehearsal to get a feel for what it's like to have something up there so long?

Knotted hummels (ed. Note. I've listened to this a dozen times and that's the closest translation I can come up with) are good. They're lightweight and you can twist them. That is probably the best place to start for an authentic experience. The only thing I had to do that I didn't mean to do was on day one of filming I decided during the scene in the shower to hurl myself on the ground without telling the stun coordinator or the cameraman or anyone. I did it and on the porcelain floor I cut my bum with three large lacerations, one you can see in the film. It's about three inches long. I also threw one of my discs out. About 19 millimeters extruded out. I couldn't actually stand up straight after that and had to do the rest of the shoot in a back brace. Fortunately I was in bed for most of it. Even still to this day I have back pain. When you look at it in the film though, it plays out well and adds to the performance.

Have you ever swallowed anything whole?

Eh, not since I was a kid with Legos and was rushed to the hospital.

So The Mule is great. My wife stayed up to watch it with me well past her bedtime last night and that's always the mark of whether or not a film is good. If she'll forgo sleep to keep watching, it's a winner.

That makes me so happy. We did some test screenings, let me be clear on this, we didn't do them to see what we needed to change: “What should we do? Where should we have them go to?” We did them because we couldn't be sure if people wouldn't just walk out of the cinema because there's poo in the film. Honestly, we had no idea how it would go.

During THAT scene, the one where you're forced to swallow shit covered condoms, I mean we obviously watch a lot of horror movies, and that moment gave me the willies more than just about any horror movie I've seen this year. It's intense and yet it is all for nothing because the officers were hip to his plan.

You just gave me a tingle because it is horrific. It really is. It's not meant focus on what comes out of your backside. We're doing it to make you think about what would you do-we all have to go to the bathroom and we all have to move our bowels. The thing is, I think everybody would fundamentally if the decision was going to jail for years or just swallow that, I think if you were at that point you would do it. At the very least you would seriously contemplate it.

Right. If you already have that much invested in it, why would you not give it a go? One of the fascinating things about the film is you have this very blue color story unfolding while the hole country is captivated by the America's Cup boating race. You have these very down on their luck families beholden to a low rent mob and the one percent of the one percenters taking all the headlines. Was that a conscious theme in the writing process or just something used to convey the setting?

That was exactly what we wanted to do. You're the first person today to ask that of us. That was huge thing for us. I can tell you that Leigh (Whannel-the film's co-writer) said to me when you're write something it's very helpful to have a theme that can inform everything you do, everything you say and everything that you show. He said when he wrote Saw he had heard a person on the radio talking abut how they had two weeks to live. Well those two weeks went by and he was still alive, a month later he was still alive and the month after that he was still alive. They ran the tests again and arrived at a clean bill of health. He swore there and then he would live a better life after that. Sure enough that informed Leigh's theme of making a choice. For me, I had to think “What do I know about?” and had to realize I didn't know anything. I don't know anything about tires or dinosaurs or being an FBI agent. I do know what it's like to be me, and I'm pretty astute on what it's like to be a man so I started to write about the male ego which is an endlessly boring topic for some but fascinating for others.

The America's Cup is the most egotistical sport in the world. You find these many times over multi millionaires that spend millions of dollars on cutting edge supplies for their boats, engineers and technology. It's a similar theme to Formula One racing, except racing has a massive audience. Who watches Yacht racing? No one. These guys spend so much money on their boats and they don't even race them themselves. They sit on their cruiser liners and pay someone else to race their boats for them.

If you know anything about 1983 Australia it was the biggest event of its day. It somehow turned the folly of billionaires into this underdog. They convinced everyone that Australia had finally arrived at the world stage. They tried to convince the country that 300 million Americans were in mourning that they had lost this yacht raise that, for 132 years, the longest winning streak in sporting history, had been the Americans. They were so dominant that they changed it from the Admiral's Cup to the America's Cup. The one thing is, in order to win that race the Australians hid the design of their keel from everyone. They would move the boat around and hire scuba divers to stay underwater and guard it so no one could find out about it. As I read about it I kept returning to this idea that in order to get ahead in life you have to hide things from people. This whole thing with Wikileaks-people don't want others to know their poor choices and they actively work to withhold information. So we set out to write a film in the vein of the Coen brothers where everyone has something to hide whether it's Ray with his drugs or the cops or Ray's stepfather and they're all lying to each other and looking out for themselves. The perverse pleasure in that. We also were exploring that line between nationalism and patriotism and someone that is full of shit.  

HOUSEBOUND: Slightly Off The Mark Mix Of The Haunted House Whodunit With Comedy

Hailed as one one the critical darlings from this past year's SXSW, New Zealand comic horror hybrid Housebound is now available stateside through a variety of video on demand platforms. The film is noteworthy for taking some of the staples of the haunted house film and giving them a twist by the ear. While it's certainly a change of pace from the standard offering, I found myself holding the minority opinion of the film. I liked it just fine, but never found myself able to warm up to it.

Perhaps it has something to do with the lead character. Morgana O'Rielly gives a game performance as Kylie, a hoodlum confined to house arrest at her mother's place after an ATM robbery goes awry. Kylie wears a permanent scowl on her face as if the old adage that you tell youngsters“If you keeping making that face it will freeze one day” proved itself to be true. As O'Rielly portrays her, Kylie is alternately one of the more unlikeable but fascinating leading characters in a genre film in a long while. To offset Kylie's surly nature, Rima Tw Wiata gives a fantastic comical turn as the warm hearted, good cheered but somewhat clueless and supernatural mother.

One of two things that work in Housbound is the wacky cast of characters that exist on the fringes of the main story. The film plays up the cliched nature of the archetypal stepfather that has beef with his daughter, the bumbling, disinterested cops, the would-be paranormal investigator and the creepy neighbor with a shady past. Each of these roles are alternately exaggerated for comic effect while also being ground with a relatable humanity that fleshes them out.

Housebound plays with the normal genre tropes. It begins as a standard haunted house tale, albeit one that is a bit more clever than the norm. From a terrific aural design, moments of drawn out tension and shadowy figures that live just outside the periphery of vision, it looks like Housebound will be a supernatural laden affair. However as Kylie uncovers secrets about the house and its past residents, the films makes one of its many shifts in tone and expectations. It's nicely delivered and keeps the audience on their toes. To state explicitly the directions the film veers would rob the viewer of the surprises that work well.

What's unfortunate, at least in my experience with the film, is it never goes quite far enough with the humor and the horror. It's never too scary and a bit too dry to be laugh out loud funny. I found Housebound too middle of the road to truly invest in it.

Perhaps it was the medium. Watching the film as a digital screener, I could not help but feel I was being robbed of soaking the movie in with an eager crowd and an immersive viewing experience. Perhaps the hype and anticipation that proceeded watching the movie were at such levels that I couldn't help but be let down. It's certainly a finely made film, and is more ambitious than most indie fare. While it might not be top notch, it's worth a view for the first act alone.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview: Mitch Ryan (Missionary)

Attending film festivals always gives you some insight into a film’s history and future. Not only do you get to often see Q&As with directors and actors, but you get to see the films before they are distributed. More often than not, you can see the films before they even have a distributor. Some films get turned around fairly quickly, and some have a generous lag time before finding their audience. Famously ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE premiered at TIFF in 2006, but did not see a wide audience until 2013. Similarly, though to a much lesser extreme, I first saw MISSIONARY at 2013’s Fantasia International Film Festival, and it only began its official distribution this month. To usher in the definitive release of the Mormon themed horror film I talked to MISSIONARY’s breakout star Mitch Ryan about the role. He has since gone on to be in CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO, which is a great sign that the horror genre suits him well. 

Your part in MISSIONARY is really intense. How did you get into the mindset to portray such an unwavering character?
I got a good sense of the character from reading the script. It wasn’t too much of a stretch after I knew how to plan it out. Not to reveal too much, too soon. Keep it grounded in some truth. I did my research on the Mormon religion. When you realize that all of these guys have so much pressure on them, when they are on a mission for two years, not getting paid—they are paying to be there—they have all these rules put upon them, it sets up for some to crack under the pressure. And then I just went for it. I tried to keep it truthful and not force anything. I kept it all justified, because they believe that everything they do is all in God’s eyes. They believe everything is living through God. Like, “Oh, I’m supposed to be doing this; I’m supposed to be having this affair even though it is a sin.” Everything they do is a sin. It is really limiting what they can do. They can’t go and have a drink. They can’t go and do a lot of things that we normally do and take for granted.
I just went for it. I did not do a lot of preparation, but I did not have a lot of time. I got the job about a week before we started shooting. I did my research, but I did have a pretty good idea of how to play him straight away. I made him a lonely guy. I made him vulnerable. I tried to bring across some of that hurt, the pain he is going through. 

Were there any particular films or articles that you read to research your role? You mentioned you researched Mormonism, but did you also research the horror tradition which this sits squarely into?
Of course. I watched MISERY, with Kathy Bates a lot, and DeNiro in CAPE FEAR. BLUE VELVET’s Denis Hopper. Obviously FATAL ATTRACTION. And then I brought my own to it, to keep it truthful. And speaking to [writer] Bruce Wood, who was a Mormon who served a mission and was able to talk to me about it. He had some experiences where his friends, while on a mission, acted a little crazy, a punched a guy in the back of the head. It was a huge shock, and the idea for the film came about from his experiences. It was good to have him there, and we also had a real Mormon on set. 

A real live Mormon?
[Laughs] A real live Mormon! He was able to advise us on accuracy. He made sure the apartment was accurate, the way we dressed was accurate. He made sure every little detail was there. 

In the film, Kevin’s obsession with Katherine seems tied to his faith. Because of that the horror in the film all comes back to his religion. Did you have any reservations about portraying faith in a negative light?
You can’t really be too concerned about that, because it can affect your performance. You just have to believe that this guy, Kevin Brock, is on a mission and he genuinely believes that he is there to find his family. If I kept telling myself that, then everything I’m doing is right, and it stays believable. He was just a lonely guy, looking for love, and to find his family. Having that vulnerability there helped get that believability of the downward spiral.
I’m sure some Mormons will think, “That doesn’t happen; that never happens.” But everyone is human, and given those circumstances some people will crack. When he started to have that affair with Katherine, it was a sin but there was no turning back. He had already done it, but he kept justifying it. When Kip’s [Pardue] character comes back he freaks out because he is already in too deep now. He is a bit of a sociopath. 

You mentioned that you got the part a week before starting the film, but it also sounds like you were able to play Kevin as you saw the character. How close was the original script to the final film?
The ending changed. In the beginning it was a really cliché ending. When we got to set, we had a week of rehearsals, and we spoke about how the ending had to change. That was the only main difference. I did not have too much notice before we started shooting. I spoke to the director on the phone to make sure that I could do an American accent [Mitch is Australian, but does a seamless American accent], and I flew out the next day. I mapped it out, and did a big character arc, and decided where each scene fit on that arc. Working with Anthony [DiBlasi] was great, because he gave each of us so much freedom to really go for it. They shot it very documentary style- everything was handheld. It was guerilla filmmaking. It was very free.
When you put the outfit on—the slacks and the tie and the undergarments—that helps getting into character. It’s a costume. You just start to believe that you really are this guy. I was also isolated. Living in Orlando I didn’t really do much. I harnessed a bit of that loneliness and kept to myself over there. 

What drew you to the part of Kevin?
As soon as I read the script I instantly knew I could bring something to this. A lot of my favorite movies are those MISERY-type movies, where the person is not all that he seems on the surface. There are a lot more layers to them. That is my favorite kind of characters. The complicated characters that aren’t what they seem. And for anyone who has been in love before, it is pretty easy if you want something, and you go after it, you won’t stop at anything. With this guy, he believed he was there to find his family. He was on a mission and was not going to stop. I really liked the idea that I was able to show both sides. I could be the nice guy at the start, and then I could be the crazy guy. As an actor, I loved being able to do that big range. He goes from a happy guy to insane. It is just so fun to play those guys.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Is Short Horror Film Day At The Boneyard

Wednesday used to be Prince Spaghetti Day.

Then It Was WhipEm Out Wednesday (ugh).

Then we moved on To Woman Crush Wednesday.

Well, finally the worst day of the week has something going for it that I can get behind. Sideshow Pictures and Harrington Talents have teamed up to post a new short horror film each Wednesday over at Boneyard Tales.

Currently, the site hosts nine short films, including The House That Cried Blood, #Selfie, Children Of The Witch and Buck Shot Crawford.

The newest release comes from Frank Sabatella (Blood Night: The Legend Of Mary Hatchet) with his debut of Home Sweet Home.

Make sure to bookmark the site and look for new short films each week.

Review: HANGAR 10

Apparently England has their own Area 51 conspiracy, a little publicized incident that occurred in the Rendlesham forrest when the military picked up strange audio and visuals in 1981. That is the premise behind the new found footage flick Hangar 10, available on video-on demand platforms from IFC Midnight. Perhaps its subject review fatigue, as this is the third film of its kind that has been sent my way this year alone, but I found it difficult to muster enthusiasm for a film that adheres so closely to the well worn formula of this subgenre.

Gus has a passion for hunting rare metals. His girlfriend Sally humors him and his quest to discover the lost Saxon's gold. Her friend Jake tags along mostly because he has a crush on Sally and wants to drive a wedge between the couple and claim Sally as his own girlfriend. While camping in the Rendlesham forrest, the trio find themselves surrounded by unexplainable sounds. Their electronics and navigation equipment goes on the fritz (while the camera still works, naturally).

Hangar 10 falls prey to the usual pitfalls of found footage, not the least of which is a build up that has all the momentum of a slightly tipped over bar of molasses for an eventual payoff that is far from satisfying. IFC did the alien abduction theme with much more gratifying results with this past spring's, um, Alien Abduction. That title delivered all the setup we needed before veering into good, old fashioned chaos. Perhaps it's typical British politeness, but the pacing here is so languid it's more akin to an episode of Downton Abbey and not a horror film.

The main source of tension of Hangar 10 is derived from the love triangle. The potential alien threat takes a back seat to the affairs of the heart and it isn't until the last ten minutes of the film that the angle takes on full steam. By that time it is too little too late. One get the sense that director Daniel Simpson wanted to duplicate the dynamic of paranoia and hostility that worked so well between Josh, Mike and Heather in Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately the cast just is not up to the task here. They are too vanilla to make it work.   

Monday, November 10, 2014

STARZ Greenlights 10 Episodes of "Ash Vs. Evil Dead" Bruce Campbell To Star

So it looks like Sam Raimi's long rumored, teased, promised, and discussed Evil Dead 4 is going to be a TV show on a Network that I don't know a single person subscribes to.

STARZ is a movie network that has dabbled in original programming before, with shows like the sadly missed Party Down and Spartacus. It looks like the company has taken note of the popularity of horror TV like The Walking Dead, Bates Motel and American Horror Story, because they have gone ahead and ordered ten half hour episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead and contracted Bruce Campbell to star. Raimi is on board to direct at least the pilot episode.

There's no mention how the show ties in to the 2014 Evil Dead reboot/remake/quasi sequel. Fans that stuck around will recall that the film contained a post credits teaser where Campbell unleashed his iconic "Groovy" catch phrase. This would seem to suggest that Fede Alvarez' film lives in the same playground that Raimi created with 1981's The Evil Dead and continued with Evil Dead II and Army Of Darkness.  

While it's hard to complain about getting more Evil Dead material from Raimi and Campbell...

You know what? I'll leave the pissing and moaning to other people for a later day. Who knows how this project will turn out? It could be that the time for a continuation has long passed and the magic is no longer there,  but for right now, it's kind of a cool thing knowing there's going to be more Evil Dead in all our lives in 2015.

Etheria Film Night Now Accepting Submissions For 2015

One of our proudest associations continues to be our involvement with the Etheria organization. The group works tirelessly to promote opportunities for women working in independent genre cinema. While we kick of the East coast leg of their tour this December 13th & 14th, the group is already looking ahead to next year and the premiere event in Hollywood.

The call for submissions is now open. For more details, read from the press release below. 

"Etheria Film Night is now accepting submissions for 2015!

Etheria Film Night at the Egyptian Theatre for the American Cinematheque screens an annual showcase of the best new short genre films (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, action, thriller) directed by women for an audience including producers, managers, show-runners, and distributors. The festival’s goal is to connect industry professionals with untapped female directing talent for genre film and TV series.
Etheria Film Night is open for rolling submissions all year long, but to be considered for the 2015 lineup, you must submit your film before March 31st, 2015. Filmmakers can submit online for free at The lineup will be curated by the Etheria programmers and film festival programmers from around the world and seen by an audience of industry professionals and film fans.
In 2014, we hosted the Los Angeles premiere of Rose McGowan’s directorial debut Dawn, 2014 AFI Directing Workshop for Women graduate Sarah Doyle’s You Me & Her starring Shannon Woodward and Tina Majorino, and international premieres of Soulmate by Axelle Carolyn, Job Interview by Julia Walter, Dia de Los Muertos by Gigi Guerrero, and Wakening by Danis Goulet. Our festival was covered by LA WeeklyBitch Magazine, and i09 (among others) and as a result, companies like Circle of Confusion management (The Walking Dead) met with our filmmakers for representation deals. For 2015, we’re hoping to get even more recognition for our filmmakers and even better results.
Etheria Film Night 2015 will take place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California in June, 2015. The event is hosted by American Cinematheque, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting all forms of films through screenings at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
For questions, please email or and visit"

Boston Underground Film Festival Wants Filmmakers "Children"

#BUFF17 Seeks Mindblowing, Insane Films For 2015 Edition

I'm not going to lie, ever since I learned next year marks the 17th year for BUFF, I've had pop-metal hair band Winger's hit single "Seventeen" stuck in my head. On one hand, it's a hell of a catch tune. On the other...IT'S FUCKING WINGER! This is hell: 

"The Boston Underground Film Festival announces its seventeenth annual competition celebrating the bizarre and insane in the world of film and video. The festival will take place in late March 2015 and features the best in provocative and experimental features, shorts, animations, music videos, and documentaries.

The festival seeks the alternative, the confrontational, the political, and the controversial. BUFF seeks films that celebrate alternative visions and sounds, offering a platform that encourages new ideas and work and pushes the envelope in style and content. Our last deadline is 11:59pm on January 5th!"

Friday, November 7, 2014


I originally posted this review following its screening at the 2014 Boston Underground Film Festival. Drafthouse Films picked it up for distribution and it's available RIGHT FUCKING NOW so why don't you rent it and experience the feeling of your eyeballs melting with pure joy. In a perfect world we'd be able to watch this back to back with Sono's hip hop musical gangster take on The Warriors: Tokyo Tribe, but one has to imagine it's only a matter of time before that is officially released. 

Honestly, just look at the attached stills. If they don't make you want to see this movie immediately, go punch yourself in the face with a microwave. 

Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play In Hell? Is the most raucous, joyous film I've had the pleasure of watching in ages. The reckless abandon Sion brings to every moment left me wide awake and dreaming of storytelling possibilities two hours after walking out of the theater, despite the screening letting out in the wee hours of early morning, when any reasonably sane person would be asleep. The film serves as a reminder to anyone that has picked up the camera in their youth and still pursue their dreams decades later despite what age and common sense tell them.

The film begins with the stunning visual of a young girl sliding through an ankle deep pool of blood that belongs to her father's rivals. From there it spans into a decade long story involving rival yakuza gangs, a group of pie in the sky filmmakers that call themselves the Fuck Bombers, the young girl all grown up and gone bad while trying to escape from under her father's thumb to become a star in her own right, gangland murders, jackbooted thug cops and a deadly case of mistaken identity. Through various mechanisms, the whole thing culminates in the Fuck Bombers bringing their cinematic masterpiece to life when they convince the two gangs to let them film their climactic showdown to the death: No guns, only swords! That's the story in the nutshell and it's completely besides the point. Watching Why Don't You Play In Hell for the plot would be like going to Disney World to sample the snack bar.

The joy in Why Don't You Play In Hell? Comes from the unbridled enthusiasm and manic glee Sono brings to every sequence, culminating in the yakuza fight sequence. The carnage is secondary in the scene the scene to the joy the participants take in “acting” out on screen. Under the instruction of their effervescent Fuck Bomber director battle hardened thugs revert to a child-like state, playing “samurai warrior” with friends in the backyard. You get the feeling that if they weren't slicing one another into formless hunks of meat and gristle, the two sides would cast aside their differences permanently over beers after the shoot wraps. Even amongst all the bloodshed Sono manages to add touch on themes of paternal love and holding on to one's dream when everyone else tells you to let them go, adding heft to the film.

I'm growing to love the anarchic spirit of Japanese cinema more and more. There's a willingness to take chances, to swing from the hips and for the fences that's missing here. Sion Sono's work springs from a love for film rather than what a focus group tells the marketing department they want. Anyone that loves movies and all the possibilities they offer should be on board.