Movie Review: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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When it comes to 21st century horror directors, very few have been as polarizing as Rob Zombie up until now.  The general consensus with his films tends to be a love them or loathe them affair; those who enjoy his work do so for the same reason his critics hate it, and vice versa.  But when a new Rob Zombie movie is announced, people pay attention and that’s all that matters.

I remember when ”House of 1000 Corpses” was first announced; it was anticipated with a mixture of hype and dread.  Rob Zombie’s music always had a cinematic quality and his love for all things horror and exploitation has been evident in his songs and music videos his entire career.  Like me, many believed this would translate well to film.  Others were more skeptical.  Regardless of preconceived notions, the hype surrounding ”Corpses” was huge.  However, for awhile it was looking like it would never see the light of day: Universal, who owned the rights initially, had absolutely no desire to release it due to its content being too ”immoral for their studio” and it lay collecting dust for over a year until Lionsgate picked it up. When it was released eventually, it was a critical failure, but a modest commercial success and has since gone on to develop a strong cult following throughout the years.  But it did set the tone for Zombie’s divisive career in film, which remains split down the middle to this day.

”House of 1000 Corpses” is a strange movie.  If there was an episode of ”Scooby Doo” where the gang stumbled into ”The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and got brutally murdered then it would look something like this. It’s as camp and cartoonish as it is violent and deranged; another way to imagine it is as a retread of Tobe Hooper’s seminal classic – if it were directed by Oliver Stone.  When I first saw ”Corpses”, I had no idea what to make of it.  I wasn’t sure whether I loved it or despised it with every fiber of my being.  However, it possessed a strange allure which always made me revisit it – and I now consider it to be a heavily flawed masterpiece.

The story takes place on Halloween night, 1977, where a group of teenagers who are travelling cross country stumble upon a roadside freak show attraction run by a clown who goes by the name of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig).  It’s here they learn about a local legend who goes by the name of Doctor Satan, a mad scientist who conducted horrific experiments on mental patients nearby and, according to legend, still lives.  Naturally, the foolish idiots demand to know where and Spaulding draws them a map to Dr. Satan’s supposed location.  On the way, they pick up Baby Firefly (Sherri Moon Zombie), a hitchhiker on her way home who just so happens to live close-by to where they’re headed.  When their car breaks down, she invites them into her home for Halloween festivities with her estranged cannibal family; this includes a living room pantomime with a musical number.  Long story short: torture and terror ensues.

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With this being Zombie’s first film, he just threw all of his movies into a melting pot and this was the results.  A 70’s grindhouse movie throwback, with a ”Texas Chainsaw Massacre” template mixed with the surreal carnivalesque nature of Todd Browning’s ”Freaks”, sprinkled with Marx Brothers and baked in surreal fluorescent imagery.  Yet, despite his obvious odes and nods, this is a film only Rob Zombie could make and would set the benchmark for a style he’d go on to hone to and make grittier with his following efforts.  Zombie has always favored his villains and he makes his films mean spirited, nasty and uncompromising; ”Corpses” laid the foundations and offers insight into what was to follow.

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The protagonists in ”House of 1000 Corpses” are overshadowed by the murderous and quirky Firefly Family.  Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sherri Moon) and Mother Firefly (Karen Black) are the stars of the show, but fellow family members include the rude and crude Grampa Hugo (Dennis Fimple), the human giant Tiny (Matthew McGrory) and the imposing Rufus (Robert Allen Mukes).  This is a film that not only presents its villains as strong, well written characters – it celebrates them.  They’re the main attraction and Zombie dares us to root for them as they torment, torture and slaughter innocent victims, who are portrayed as arrogant douches.  But did they deserve to die?  Absolutely not.  Was I happy when they did?  Well, I enjoyed watching it happen.

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”House of 1000 Corpses” is an experiment of a new director finding his style and voice, while celebrating the movies that inspired him.  It might not be entirely original, but at the same time there really isn’t else like it either. Rob would follow this up with a much better sequel I consider a flawless classic, but ”Corpses” is a viciously camp masterpiece in its own right; albeit for those of an acquired taste.  9/10

Director: Rob Zombie

Writer: Rob Zombie

Starring: Sid Haig, Sherri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Rainn Wilson

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Running Time: 90 min

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Movie Review: Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)

Comedy, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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”Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead”, also titled ”The Fallen Angel” was the first fallen angel, according to legend in Olaf Ittenbach’s cult classic. Long before Lucifer had his little hissy fit, Premutos was rebelling against Gods decree because he wanted to rule the world with his army of the dead.  Throughout the ages, the son of Premutos has been reincarnated in different forms and through the dreams of a young man, we see the demon throughout different times in history slaughtering humanity.  When the young man finds a mysterious book, it turns him into the monster he was always destined to be and the son of Premutos is reborn once again.

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”Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead” is a film with lots to admire, appreciate and enjoy.  For a start, it’s excessively violent and gory, with a body count that’s well past 100 – all of whom die in fun, graphic ways.  The special effects are cheap and charming and the aforementioned gore is top notch.  Furthermore, the plot, in all of its simplicity, is interesting – especially when it bounces between different eras of history, which includes World War II and the middle ages.  There is a lot going on which will keep you entertained for the most part, but the filler in between is tedious.

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Splatter movies are at their best when they’re wacky, but so much of the humor in ”Premutos” is falls flat.  The moments madcap madness and bloody carnage are a joy, but waiting for them to come is tedious at times. Granted, when they do arrive it’s worth the wait; but movies like this need interesting filler if they’re going to run for 106 minutes, and ”Premutos” lacks in that department.  To put it bluntly: it gets boring.

With some trimming around the edges, ”Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead” could have been a trashy masterpiece of its kind.  Instead what we get is a film with a see-saw effect of highs and lows.  Pirates had to do some digging before they found the treasure; if you’re willing to stick around with this movie you’ll find gold in the end.  6.5/10

Director: Olaf Ittenbach

Writer: Olaf Ittenbach

Starring:  André Stryi, Christopher Stacey, Ella Wellmann

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Running Time: 106 min

Movie Review: Conjoined (2013)

Comedy, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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If you read my article on 5 Great Romantic Horror Movies, then you’ll know I’m a fan of a great love story – especially when there’s murder between hugs, smooches and coitus.  When it comes to relationships, you have to accept the baggage of your significant other if it’s going to work.  In a lot of cases, said baggage often involves imposing family members.  I’m sure you’ve accepted the faults of your other half by now, but if you haven’t then take a minute to compare yourself to Stanley – maybe you’ll feel better afterwards.

Stanley (Tom Long) is a lonely man; his only worthwhile friendship is with an online cam whore (Deidre Stephens) with amazing boobs, but he pays $2.99 per minute for her ears.  However, thanks to the miracle of online dating, Stanley meets Alina (Michelle Ellen Jones), she’s super cute, their love is real and Stanley is looking forward to spending his life with his potential soul mate, as is Alina. But there’s a problem: Alina has a Siamese twin sister who comes literally attached to her – and she just so happens to be a serial killer, with a drinking problem.

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”Conjoined” is offbeat and quirky, with some crude sexual humor and moments of gruesome violence.  It’s also very heartfelt and occasionally touching, as the budding romance between Stanley and Alina is a heartwarming tale of two outsiders is the core of the story.  Tonally, the combination of these ingredients might sound mismatched on paper; a splatter film, a sex comedy and rom-com is an unconventional mix that could easily turn into a mess. However, here every element blends together effortlessly to create a movie that’s unusual, but all the better for it.

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A good way to imagine ”Conjoined” is like a very twisted sitcom.  For a start, every character – major and minor – has their own little quirks and traits which make them unique and memorable, even if they are only there for a short time until they become a murder statistic.  Every new victim of Alisa’s (Keefer Barlow) killing spree presents a new scenario for them to react to, which provides the bulk of the laughs throughout.  Furthermore, the sets are minimal and mostly consigned to one room, which is understandable due to budget constraints; but, again, it made it seem reminiscent of a sitcom.  I loved this aspect of the movie; it provided hilarious satire of America’s longest running and most beloved television past time, only extended to 90 minutes with some unhinged edge.

My one minor complaint is the subplot of Detective Waters (Sara Gaston), who is investigating the murders only for nothing to really come of it when it could have added an extra element to the story if she posed any real threat exposing the leads as killers.  However, that’s not to say that the subplot wasn’t entertaining; Waters’ inner monologues are the source of some of the films best laughs, so it’s not like it was pointless.  I enjoyed her character, but I wanted her to pose more of a threat to Stanley’s laundry list of problems.

I liked every single character in ”Conjoined” and the script by Chuck and Tim Norton gave them all memorable moments.  It’s a funny script, and the small cast all have their chance to shine, even those who only appear for a scene to have their genitalia bitten off.  As I mentioned earlier, there are some gruesome moments in this movie and it does crossover into some dark territory towards the end, but for the most part it’s an entertaining good time.

So, next time you think your girlfriends sister is annoying put yourself in Stanley’s shoes.  If you would like to enjoy his unfortunate situation, you can rent if from Amazon for $1.99.  Also check out their Facebook for more reviews and information.  This is a funny flick, with enough blood, boobs and severed dongs to cater to your visceral needs, and characters who you’ll remember fondly after the end credits have rolled.  Joe Grisaffi is a filmmaker worth watching.  7.5/10

Director: Joe Grisaffi

Writers: Chuck & Tim Norfolk

Starring: Tom Long, Michelle Ellen Jones, Keefer Barlow & Sara Gaston

Genre: Horror Comedy

Running Time: 90 min

Movie Review: Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)

Comedy, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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”Dude Bro Party Massacre” is a beer soaked, blood drenched fever dream from comedy collective 5-Second Films, and it’s sure to please horror fans and hipsters alike with its satire.  Horror films posing as 80’s throwbacks and parodies have become a popular fad in recent years, as many filmmakers try to evoke the nostalgia of days gone by; some do it because they want to homage the movies that inspired them, where as others just want to make a quick buck at the expense of fans longing for a long gone heyday and looking for a modern fix.  The best ones display a genuine love and affinity for the genre, made by filmmakers who want to honor it, while lovingly lampooning it with copious amounts of absurdity; there is nothing worse than a throwback which thinks it has all the right ingredients, but fails to capture the essence.  Those are just empty and soulless, like Lindsay Lohan’s eyes.

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”Dude Bro Party Massacre III” falls into the category of parody: A slasher frat comedy posing as a banned sequel to non-existent predecessor films lost in the 80’s, it looks and feels like a relic from that era, with characters who could very well be the cranked up cousins of the goons from ”Porky’s” and ”Animal House.”  The plot is an over-the-top slasher revenge story, joined by a sub-plot of authority figures trying to put an end to a drunken frat house.  Throw in yet another sub-plot with a Satanic cult needing a virgin sacrifice and it becomes as convoluted and nonsensical as you’d expect -but, in this case, it is not to the films detriment.  Just roll with it, and the laughs will send you into a fit of hysteria for 90 minutes.

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”Dude Bro Party Massacre III” follows Brent Chirno (Alec Owen), a legacy who joins a fraternity to investigate the death of his twin brother, Brock (Alec Owen again).  After a prank goes awry, causing 2 commercial jets to collide over an orphanage, they boys are sent to a lake house as punishment, where a mysterious killer named Motherface lurks nearby, hellbent on punishing the boys for sins committed in the first 2 films, which we get a recap of at the start in classic 80’s flashback fashion. Her methods are brutal and she kills her victims by using their deepest fears against them.  Meanwhile, they are pursued by police officers, one of whom is convinced that the boys are a bag of oranges posing as drunken human beings who must be returned to their true form.

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Where do I start?  The plot on paper doesn’t even begin to cover the insanity barely contained within this movie.  I can’t think of many films in recent memory that have made my sides split for an entire 90 minutes, which means I’ll need to watch it again as it’s a certainty that I missed a lot of gags from laughing so hard.  The humor is wonderfully distasteful; inappropriateness is turned up full volume as gravestones are humped and hookers are slaughtered – and that’s only scratching the surface.  ”Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is so out there that it resides on its own island of low brow cinema: It is so goofy and gleefully mean spirited, with not a single taboo subject free from a good ribbing.

The cast includes cameos from Larry King and a key supporting role from Patton Oswalt, who not only chews scenery – he devours it.  Having known, respected names on board doesn’t hinder the offensive content, however: the body count in this movie is through the roof, with every single one of them killed in creative, nasty ways.  My favorite was when one of the frat boys was looking for the cork to his beer keg, only to have it rammed into his skull and twisted as it poured into his cup to quench his thirst before his mortal demise.

”Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is horror satire done right and the best comedy of the year so far.  9/10

Directors: Tomm Jacobsen , Michael Rousselet & Jon Salmon

Writer: Alec Owen, Jon Salmon, Michael E. Peter, Ben Gigli, Timothy Ciancio , Michael Rousselet, Tomm Jacobse, Joey Scoma, Mike James & Brian Firenzi

Starring: Alec Owen, Peyton Oswalt, Brian Firenzi

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Running Time: 90 min

Short Film Review: Out of the Box (2015)

Horror Comedy, Short Film Review

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”Out of the Box” is a short student film from Canadian monster enthusiast and future horror bright spark Sebastien Godin, but if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d just have assumed it was a regular short film from an independent horror filmmaker.

The story revolves around 2 students who volunteer to take part in a psychological experiment for a food coupon.  All they are a required to do is sit in a room until one of them caves and opens a box, which sits in the middle of the floor minding its own business.  With starvation starting to kick in, one of them finally gives up and finds out the hard way that hunger is the least of his problems.

In 1996, psychology professor Roy Baumeister conducted an evil experiment where he used students desire to eat to deplete their willpower. In this case, the allure of chocolate was enough to make them lose control; the cruel part was they were given radish instead.  ”Out of the Box” contains another experiment where the willpower of hungry students is tested; only instead of chocolate the seduction lies in the mystery of a box, and the repercussion for giving into your appetite is truly sinister – even more sinister than radish.

What I liked most about ”Out of the Box” was the 2 lead characters: Brian and Vince, played by Ethan Dalton Clifford and Fabio Lopez, respectively. Both characters are hilarious in their own unique way:  Vince is the more outgoing and desperate – and he’s not very smart.  Brian is more reserved and dry, providing a perfect counterbalance to Vince’s hyperactivity.  The script is witty, providing them both with some great dialogue to work with.  Furthermore, their interactions are constantly entertaining: whether it’s discussing the gender of author Jules Verne or grappling over Granola Bars, there is never a dull moment between them.  Spending 12 boring hours in a room starving as part of corrupt experiment is something we all have to go through at some point in our academic lives.  Their experience isn’t like anybody else’s.

I said earlier that Godin was a ”future horror bright spark”, and I genuinely do believe that.  Having known him for some time now, I’m aware of how creative he is.  Not only are his ideas fun as shown here, but he appears to be an accomplished filmmaker.  ”Out of the Box” is short, but it’s well shot, easy on the eyes and boasts some fantastic lighting, special effects and gross out make-up.  I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll make movies one day that a lot of horror fans will love.

Another thing I loved about ”Out of the Box” was the music.  It was quirky, offbeat and fun and really set the tone for the entire film, which can also be summed up as a whole with these adjectives.  If you want to see it for yourself, let me know and I’ll arrange it.  8/10

Movie Review: Screamplay (1985)

Arthouse, Comedy, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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Troma, the company which is known for specializing in copious amounts of sleaze, nudity, low brow humour and shock value has been a household name for over four decades now.  So it’s to be expected that some of their releases will float under the radar from time to time.  One such release was ”Screamplay”, the one and only feature from Rufus Butler Seder, who wrote, directed, edited and starred in this offbeat murder mystery.  

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”Screamplay” is a unique entry in Troma’s catalog and a one-of-a-kind movie if there ever was one.  Filmed entirely in black and white, with set designs purposeful recreations of films from the 1920-30’s, it’s all very artsy; especially compared to the trash the company is known and beloved for.  The story focuses on a young writer named Edgar Allen who moves to Hollywood with dreams of writing murder mysteries for the big screen.  But when the murders in his screenplays start happening in real life,  he must confront an odd array of characters ranging from washed up actresses, rock stars, the police and off-kilter tenants as the mystery unfolds.

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While watching ”Screamplay”, I drew comparisons to the early Sam Raimi oddity ”Crimewave (1985)”, as they both adopt the stylings of a classic era of film, with the similar over-the-top caricature characters and set pieces, dialogue and filmmaking techniques.  However, they use them in such a way that hasn’t been done before, to create darkly comic horror films ripe with manic energy and 80’s violence.  If someone told you this was a Sam Raimi creation without prior knowledge, you’d believe them.

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Taking inspiration from German Expressionist cinema, Hollywood’s silent films, Italian giallo, Gothic horror and the classic whodunnit?, it condenses them into the form of an 80’s B movie to create an engaging mystery that is also a satirical commentary on the dark side of Hollywood.  It chronicles the actors and actresses who are hot one day and but a memory the next; the aspiring artists who leave their normal lives behind with dreams of making it, only to find their hopes dashed and dreams broken; the greedy money men willing to exploit anything in order to make a quick buck and the madness that comes with it.  Every character has succumbed to madness in some way and they each provide strange melodrama between murders.

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”Screamplay” is an oddity only a niche audience will enjoy, so if you appreciate the surreal, avant-garde, strange and experimental cinema you’ll no doubt find a special place in your heart – and on your shelf – for this weird little gem.  Rufus Butler Seder has never made, wrote or starred in another film since: let’s hope this isn’t his one and only, but if it is, what an innovative legacy to leave behind.  9/10

Director: Rufus Butler Seder

Writers: Rufus Butler Seder & Ed Greenberg

Starring: Rufus Butler Seder, Katie Bolger, George Kuchar

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Running Time: 90 min

Comic Book Review: Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space: Issue #2

Comedy, Comic Book Reviews, Horror Comedy

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Hold onto your crotches.  Don’t succumb to the charms of horny extraterrestrial bimbos in schoolgirl uniforms – no matter how hot they may look.  ”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” continues to warm our loins and fear for our groins, picking up where Issue #1 left off – with our heroes Ace and Gwen running for their lives as the dawn of the lesbian zombie apocalypse unfolds.  Will Ace get home in time to save his parents?  More importantly, will he reach the mom-and-pop store in time to save his prized Captain Hammer video tapes?

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In the first issue, we’re introduced to the characters.  Part 2 is all about action.  From the very first page it’s an unrelenting assault of cock munching carnage that further crosses the boundaries of good taste.  We see the formation of a sub-plot where Ace must find his treasured pornography – for when it comes to dealing with an invasion of this nature, The Hammer has the answers.   Furthermore, we explore that awkward moment when you walk in your parents being… intimate.  The gore sprays off the pages and no penis remains intact, but one.

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”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is shaping up to be something truly special.  Unabashed cheese and debauchery it may be, but it’s one hell of a good time that does its inspirations proud.  It’s also a fresh original take on the zombie and alien sub-genres that reads like an animated television series and camp 80’s popcorn movie with lots of replay value.

Credit must be acknowledged to everybody who brought this story to life. Not only is Jave Galt-Miller a very funny and talented writer, but the artists who visualized this story did an outstanding job.  It takes real talent to make cartoon zombies look sexually appealing to real life grown men, but they manage it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next issue has in store.  If it keeps up like this we’re in for some side splitting laughs, with possible leakage.

Comic Book Review: Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space: Issue #1

Comic Book Reviews, Horror Comedy

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”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is a title that’s screaming to be read.  It also gives you a good idea of what the story is about – undead alien invaders who like to kiss girls and feast on men.  Jave Galt-Miller has created something special; a rollicking good time born out of love of 80’s cheddar.  Inspired by alien invasion classics like ”Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 & ’78)” and ”Lifeforce (1985)”, along with John Hughes’ classic nerd comedy ”Weird Science (1985)” – and porn, this is camp, shlocky toilet humour at its finest.

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Ace Johnson (think about it) is your average twenty something guy: he works in and mom-and-pop video store, he’s addicted to porn and he has sex on his mind 24/7.  He has a ”good eye for porn”, and his refusal to sell his Captain Hammer video tapes has earned him a nemesis who frequents the store.  Gwen Moffett on the other hand is a lesbian who hates men that like porn.  She doesn’t have much luck with the ladies – her last date got turned into an alien after all.  However, guess who needs to team up and save the world after their is invaded by an alien Space Queen who turns the female population into green eyed, genitalia munching cannibals?

Ace Johnson is a larger than life character who idolizes porn legend Captain Hammer.  So it’s to his delight when his friend Ellis announces that his wife is game for a Menage à Trois with another woman; Ellis, like most men would be, is intimidated by the thought of such a daunting task.  As a man, I could relate to him: the thought of pleasing one woman is scary enough, let alone two.  Anyway, Ace is over-the-moon for his pal, and insists on hiding in the closet with a camcorder to record the hot action.  Unfortunately what he witnesses is his friend losing his manhood in a very literal sense.

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Needless to say, ”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” does not take itself seriously.  The humour is crude, silly and, to some, undoubtedly offensive.  It’s a battle of the sexes, where the women are portrayed as deadly seductresses and the men are incompetent tools.  Joss Whedon would have a field day accusing it of being male chauvinistic and sexist – it’s not.  Not only does it provide some hilarious satire of how women are portrayed by some corners of media, it also represents male sexual fantasy gone horribly wrong.

”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is off to a very strong start.  I get the impression that it’s going to be one fun-filled, politically incorrect adventure to be read over and over.  Writing this good doesn’t lose steam, but right now, we’ve barely scratched the surface; knowing that it’s only going to expand is an enticing thought indeed.  It’s as fun as the title suggests, with laughs to be had on every single page. Pure 80’s cheese for the 21st century at it’s wackiest.  Check out the Kickstarter and website for more information about the project.  8/10

Web Series: 20 Seconds To Live (2015)

Comedy, Horror Comedy, Web Series

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”20 Seconds To Live” is an anthology web series that is well worth your time.  Every Friday for the last month or so, I have sat down after dinner – my tummy full of the latest hapless victim – and enjoyed this hilarious and creative series of shorts about death.  One thing is for certain with ”20 Seconds To Live” and one thing only: SOMEBODY IS GOING TO DIE.

The series is directed by Ben Rock, who you might not know by name.  But you can bet he’s been the cause of nightmares of somebody you know.  You see, in 1999, there was this little movie called ”The Blair Witch Project” and it scared a lot of people.  Some of those people even thought it was real.  Anyway, one of the scariest things about it was the stick figure symbol, which I know for a fact haunted the dreams of my mother for a month after she saw it.  Ben Rock is the creator of that symbol, as well as subsequent Blair Witch spin-offs including the outstanding ”The Burkittsville 7 (2000)” – in my opinion this has always been the best entry to the Blair Witch saga and is well worth checking out if you’re into the mythology.

In addition to his work on an iconic horror film, he also directed ”Alien Raiders (2008)”, which, despite its silly name, is a criminally underrated gem.  Of all the people I’ve talked to who have seen it, not a single one of them had a bad word to say about it.  Go check it out.

Also on board is co-creator Bob DeRosa, whose previous writing credits include the Ashton Kutcher movie ”Killers (2010)”, and the impressive ”The Air I Breathe (2007)” starring an impressive cast which boasts the likes of Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia and Sarah Michelle Gellar.  From the work of his I’ve seen so far (I enjoyed both of those movies), this is by far my favourite due to it being so joyously twisted.

The series is short, sick and a laugh riot.  Catching up on the current available episodes won’t take you long at all and I guarantee you’ll be entertained.  Despite knowing death is inevitable in every episode, ”20 Seconds To Live” throws in little surprises you don’t see coming. Every episode puts a unique, creative spin on everyday situations, ranging from dinner dates to Satanic rituals.  You can watch them all for free HERE.  I suggest you get on it now.

Interview: Jenz K. Lund & D.H. Shultis (Blood & Gourd)

Interview

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Blood & Gourd is a must read for those who like their horror injected with a large dosage of fun.  Want to know why?  Check out my review or head over to the opening link. order a copy and see for yourself.  For a comic book, it possesses a rare cinematic quality that feels like a lost classic from the 80’s; the days when horror was at its most vibrant and imaginative, in this reviewers humble opinion.  While retaining the spirit of that era and openly acknowledging its inspirations, Blood & Gourd is a high caliber of original storytelling that works as both a throwback to horrors heyday, and as something fresh for modern times.  Recently I had the opportunity to interview its creators, D.H. and Jenz, to discuss their work, influences and future plans for the series and other projects.  Enjoy.

1) Hello guys, how are you?

Jenz: We’re doing great! We’re a little road weary but energized after a successful weekend at Crypticon: Seattle. The reception’s been awesome.

2) To those who aren’t in the know yet (even though they damn well should be), how would you describe Blood & Gourd in a brief summary?

Jenz: Well, it’s the day before Halloween, and Seminal Chemical’s recently bought up the Henderson family pumpkin farm. There isn’t much time for the locals to grieve, though. Through a bizarre fusion of super science and Satanism, the sinister Mr. Pleasant has unleashed this massive, otherworldly demon; and with it, murderous hordes of gourds and goblins.

DH: We’ve tried to make the comic book fun, twisted, weird, and a fast ride. A glance at the cover and you’ll know that it is bright, horrific, & action-packed with a slice of drama and some nods to the horror legends of the past.

3) Originally, Blood & Gourd was intended to be a movie; which I could see happening because it has a great cinematic quality to it even though it’s a comic.  Do you still have aspirations to bring it to our screens?  

Jenz: Absolutely! Almost everybody who has read the first issue asks us about it. Blood & Gourd needs to be a film. Particularly, one with minimal CGI, Rick Baker style makeup, lots of practical effects and puppets! Everything’s better with a puppet in it!

4) There’s nods to Fred Dekker and Dan O’Bannon in the story, who are 2 of the most underrated talents to ever make movies if you ask me.  The spirit of their work is evident in Blood & Gourd; it’s like a lost horror comedy from the 80’s in the form of a comic book.  Who are your influences and what are some of the movies that inspired you to create Blood & Gourd?

Jenz: I have a million influences, we both do. ReAnimator, The Thing, Halloween 3, Fright Night; but certainly Night of the Creeps and The Return of the Living Dead were, for me anyway, two of the definitive influences behind making the series an amusement park ride. Both films are also very funny. Humor’s important to horror. People do hilarious things when they’re scared!

DH: I like the idea of Blood & Gourd being some time-capsule of lost ideas that have risen to the surface in 2015.  My top film influences for this project are the epic gross weirdness of Troma Films, late night USA network movies and shows of all kinds, John Waters’ movies, and pretty much any movie your mom told you not to watch. Other movies that came up a lot were Hard Boiled, Gremlins, Robocop, and Twin Peaks.

5) Evil corporate cultists.  Evil pumpkins on a bloody rampage.  Killer plant people.  These are just a few of the delights to be found in Blood & Gourd.  Although primarily all about the fun and entertainment, I picked up on some underlying themes in regards to the power of corporations and their destruction of nature.  Was that intentional?  If so, is preserving nature something you feel strongly about?

Jenz: Definitely. I think the best horror and science fiction stories have always done this. In many ways, we’ve all voted unanimously to ignore a myriad of pressing environmental/socio-economic issues that have already ensured a bleaker future for all of us. I think Blood & Gourd playfully nudges the reader to think about a few of these things, while reminding them that idle hands and apathy are just as dangerous as any diabolical demon or heartless corporation. Regardless of whether or not we decide to act, nature is indifferent. it can take us or leave us.

DH: In the words of John Trudell: “if we use our minds in a clear and coherent manner we will not accept the unacceptable.”  Blood & Gourd is my attempt to use my mind in a clear and coherent manner- to create something fun, engaging and it is my way of refusing to accept the unacceptable.

6) Blood & Gourd has drawn comparisons to EC comics; from myself included.  Are there any comics in particular you’re fans of?

Jenz: After watching Creepshow at a very young age, I quickly found myself picking up all the reprinted copies of Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Eerie, Creepy, etc. I could get my hands on. I’d also add Silver Age Marvel titles to the mix. There was such an acceptable goofiness that allowed for the most irreverent stories, heroes, and villains to be formed. I remember a villain that was a toe, for god sake! I miss that insanity. People play it way too cool these days.

DH: The Batman Knightfall series was my first serious foray into reading comic books.  I really dig Promethea by Allan Moore and a lot of Frank Miller’s works. I’d also like to give a nod to the Akira comics and the Lone Wolf and Cub series.

7) One thing I loved about Blood & Gourd was how the characters played it straight.  Despite the hilarious insanity going on around them, they keep the story grounded and give the reader people they can engage with.  Was it difficult to balance the wacky horror with everyday characters the reader can engage with.

Jenz: I think the laughs that came naturally while we were writing the story are the best. The rest of it takes some fine tuning, for sure. We generally go with a less is more attitude, and if it’s too forced we cut it out. I think you can throw any ridiculous thing at your characters, and as long as they’re convinced it can kill them, you’ve got something there. We’re not big fans of the self-aware horror- comedy (we’re all in on the joke) stuff.

8) From a storytelling perspective, Blood & Gourd is stellar.  But I’d also like to point out how it looks; the artists involved did a great job of bringing the story to life.  Was it difficult to acquire such a talented bunch?

Jenz: Yes and no. It took a few years to find the right artist, but once Dave Acosta agreed to draw the book, he opened a lot of doors for us.Through Acosta we met Juan Albarran, and through Juan we met Fran Gamboa, JC Ruiz, Rocio Canteros and Juan Antonio Ramirez. We all had a great experience and most of us will be coming back for issue #2!  I’d also like to add that most people don’t realize how small the comic book industry really is. I strongly encourage anyone planning on becoming a part of it to be friendly and respectful. Word travels fast!

9) What’s next for you guys?  What are your future plans?

Jenz: We’re in the preliminary stages of issue #2, Acosta will begin drawing it up in June. If B&G continues to be successful, we plan to branch out with a horror anthology and a secret sci-fi project we can’t wait to start talking about.

10) Any final words before we wrap up?

DH: Buy Blood & Gourd!

Jenz: What he said. It’s available for order now at bloodandgourd.com and deadpeasant.net

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