Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Indie Horror Films Worth Checking Out

I'm starting to feel better, but still am not at 100%, so you'll have to deal with guest postings yet again. I'll return to the helm with all new reviews for Chemical Burn Studios work. 

Indie movies are often overlooked by fans, mainly due to the fact that their limited budget and unrecognizable actors don’t make for a very appealing advertising campaign. If you don’t frequently browse through the horror fests’ lists of indie flicks, you risk missing out on some of the best, chilling, original and disturbing titles the horror genre has ever witnessed. For those of you, who’ve only stayed up-to-date with the mainstream titles released over the past few years, we offer a list of a few brilliant indie horror films that are definitely worth checking out.

Joshua (2006)

Travis Betz is an f-ing genius for single-handedly writing and directing one of the most dark, demented and truly disturbing horror flicks of the past decade. It is truly amazing what can be done with just few mediocre visual effects and an extremely strong background story and tight plot. Betz’s efforts have been rewarded with this realistically disturbing tale of human downfall into depravity and insanity.

Splinter (2008)

A very effective Sci-Fi horror flick, which is one of those movies that actually gains from not revealing too much about the cause of events, is what you find here. The effects are decent and the gore is just the right amount to contribute to the build-up of suspension and feeling of dread throughout the movie. Director Toby Wilkins has done a marvelous job with the plot as well as with the cast.

Dead Girl (2008)

A very powerful and disturbing movie, exploring serious social issues, full of horror that should shake you is presented here. This memorable stomach turning flick deals with the most depraved choices people make when nobody is watching. The director is sparing of effects, but effectively creates a dark tale that starts off slow, but quickly builds up to a climax of absolute destruction and carnage.

Triangle (2009)

This is more of a psychological type of horror, but still it is worth mentioning, as it is quite fresh with a very unexpected turn of events. Although the movie starts out as just another slasher, pretty soon it takes a turn for the worse and the viewer is introduced to something much more sinister than just another deranged killer hunting down a group of good-looking folks.

Perkins’ 14

Perkins’ 14 is an unusually stark flick, superbly directed and filmed by Craig Singer and it’s one of the best things to come out from the After Dark Horror Fest in recent years. The unique style and engaging script only add to the movie’s effective somber atmosphere, which draws the viewer into a downfall of horror, psychological pain and brutal violence.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Clive Barker's Books of Blood Review

clive barker books of blood
(Buy the Book Here)
Your old pal Sir Jorge is still sick. I haven't been able to do a whole lot of writing, so you will have to enjoy another guest blogger attempt to get you interested in horror of a different kind. Enjoy.

Clive Barker is a well-known name in the world of horror and fantasy. His biography of a director and producer holds titles such as ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Jericho’, which are trend-setters in times, when people thought that everything has been done before. Having said this, Barker’s true talent shines most in the field of literature. Known as one of the most promising writers in the horror genre and proclaimed by none other than Stephen King as the future of the said genre, all of Barker’s books prove that he will most certainly live up to these expectations.

The first volume of the Books of Blood consists of 6 stories and 3 introductions. The first story carries the title ‘The Book of Blood’ and it unfolds the tale of how the said book came to be. The narrative is original and grim with brilliant twists and the incorporation of paranormal elements. It is interesting to point out that Barker doesn’t abide by the rules imposed on authors at the beginning of their careers for a strict word count of their works and creates every story as he sees fit. The end result is compact, concise stories that are surprisingly engaging and influential.

The second story in the book is ‘The Midnight Meat Train’, which most people will recognize as the film adaptation with Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper, which was actually pretty decent. The author himself has expressed his desire for the movie to become the first of a trilogy, which will shed some light on the creatures that are behind all existence and demand bloody sacrifices for it.

In ‘The Yattering and Jack’ Barker offers an interesting insight into the mishaps of an inferior daemon. Even though someone might argue that comic is not a term that ought to be used when we’re reviewing a book in the horror genre, this story has an undeniable humoristic element to it. Time and again Barker manages to offer something fresh and original, proving that he definitely doesn’t fall under any categories of the said genre.

‘Pig Blood Blues’ makes the infamous scene from Hannibal pale in comparison. Barker is truly at his best in terms of ruthlessness and brutality that makes the reader squirm with disgust. Another proof that he is willing to experiment and explore different angles and approaches of the genre, playing with and pushing the limits of sane and normal.

In ‘Sex, Death and Starshine’ the plot unfolds following the pattern of…, death and starshine. Although far from frightening, the story is quite intriguing. The dead too require a healthy dosage of entertainment and apparently they know how to get it.

‘In the Hills, the Cities’ deservedly is placed at the end of the first volume of the ‘Books of Blood’ as it is truly the best work of the author of the 6 stories. Barker’s imagination has really surpassed all limits and ventured into realms of unimaginable horror and dread.

As a whole ‘Books of Blood’ has its weak and strong points. As we mentioned before, Barker is not amongst the authors to follow predetermined patterns in their style of writing or narrative and he’s definitely not the one to spare his readers any brutality. He’s exhaustive and thorough to the point where it can get physically unsettling for the person on the other side of the book. His works are a must-read for anyone who’s looking for something different than the mainstream horror formula.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Silent Hill Revelation 3D Review

(Buy silent hill here)
From time to time, your pal Sir Jorge (me) gets sick. This week I got the flu, so in that case, I had a little help from a guest blogger. This guest blogger didn’t want to be named, just wanted a shot at posting on the old blog o rific, so without further adieu, here you go.

We dare to dream of the day that Hollywood will stop trying to make movies based on game sequels, but alas that day is yet to come…For the time being we’re forced to sit through a [yet another] mediocre and downright laughable cinematic version of one of the greatest horror game franchises that were to ever grace the face of this pitiful planet. KONAMI must really be regretting selling the rights to the franchise to an American company - now that the fellow Americans hold the legal rights to the game(s) and movie(s) all bets are off.

But onto the movie, we will see... It’s hard to write a coherent review for a movie that’s all over the place, so let’s just use the same approach to do it justice. This movie has no reason to exist. Period. After the dreaded and insufferable Silent Hill from 2006 a lot of game fans were convinced the making of films based on games had hit rock bottom and nothing worse could ever live to see daylight. Apparently scriptwriters, directors and visual artists in Hollywood mistook this for a personal challenge and thus - Revelation was born. Sometimes I think virtually every movie based on a game is doomed to failure and the guys from the East Coast seem pretty keen on proving me right (note: no, putting Angelina Jolie in the lead role does NOT a movie make or save; she’s freaking hot as hell, yes, but if I wanted to watch an hour long of a hot chick flashing her curves from every angle I’d just play me some random Sasha Grey clip).

As a religious fan of the game sequel I have to shamefully admit I was timidly hopeful for the second Silent Hill movie after having experienced one of the worst disappointments of my life sitting through the first (seriously, I wasn’t that upset when I found naked pictures and ongoing correspondence of my boyfriend with his ex, leading to an ugly break-up). Further to this the fact that it would be loosely based on the third installment of the game series, which is one of the strongest and sickest in the sequence, only added to that adorable pitter-patter of my heart and the butterfly feeling in my stomach. By the time the credits appeared on the screen I was deeply pensive about whether to pull a James Holmes on the theatre (alright, this was completely inappropriate in the light of the recent events, but you get what I am trying to say) or go home and slit my wrists with broken DVD pieces.

See? I promised you a review as coherent as the movie and so far I think I’m delivering. In all seriousness, though, the movie is all over the place - like literally. There isn’t the slightest effort from part of the script-writer to put together anything even remotely decent in terms of background story (the glue that hold together all Silent Hill-related stories no matter how irrelevant or unrelated they might seem in the beginning) and the director has only assisted with throwing in here and there random images in the spirit of the game franchise. Apart from recognizing some of the series most infamous monsters there is little that the fans will be able to relate to. As if in a meek attempt to block out these flukes, several up-and-coming and one or two famous actors have been thrown in the movie, but they’re just as out of place as everything else. Almost all of the casting of ‘Game of Thrones’ is present, which goes on to prove that when the industry has decided to promote someone, they’re going to promote the living shit out of them - even if that person can’t act to save his life (which is kind of ironic since one of the actors in question does die in the movie…and in ‘Game of Thrones’ for that matter. Wonder if it was due to bad acting). Carrie Anne Moss hasn’t acted in a scene as laughable as the infamous last dialogue with Neo from the 3rd Matrix, where he tells her she can’t die, but she argues that she can and dies, until now.

Things are not looking good in the soundtrack department either, which is baffling to say the least. With a monumentally genius composer like Akira Yamaoka, who single-handedly ensured that musically Silent Hill is just as eerie and disturbing as the story and gameplay intended it to be, the music to the movie is nothing like any of the brilliant tracks we get to experience in the games.

Without spoiling the movie for those who will bravely venture into the theatre to catch a glimpse of the abomination that it is, let me just shout out a fair warning to all faithful game fans - the notorious, but beloved Pyramid Head appears in the most unimaginably grotesque (not in a good) way - one that will leave you with nightmares for weeks to come and will possibly result in several shrink appointments.

The general atmosphere of the movie is dark and somber, albeit in a way that has little to do with the sad hopelessness that the games used to make the player care. You will find it doesn’t really matter whether the characters live or die and will fail to be thrilled by their personal tragedies, which are told in a more of a soap-opera-drama style. The safest choice you could make is to take my word that the best thing about this movie is the poster and move on with your life.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Favorite Zombie Movie

nightmare city poster
(Buy Nightmare City Here)
Nightmare City (1980) is my favorite Zombie Movie

One of the easiest prompts you can get as a writer is simply about yourself. Any subject matter that deals with what you enjoy, love, and want to share can become the greatest piece of writing because it comes from the heart, right? Well, in a series of articles that I will be posting in the coming future, starting today, I’m going to be talking about my favorite movies in the horror genre. Today, for example, I will be talking about my favorite zombie movie. That is going to an Italian-Spanish flick that came out in 1980 known as Nightmare City.

The plot of the movie is one that is definitely note worthy. A report is at an airport awaiting a famed scientist that has been linked to a nuclear accident. When a military plane shows up, the doors open with fast running zombies and chaos starts to reign at the airport. They stab, shoot, and run with reckless abandon. Meanwhile, the reporter catches all of this and tries to warn the general public but is thwarted, and instead seeks to find his wife so that they can flee to safety while the zombie apocalypse jumps off. The twist ending is definitely one of note and will probably bring about a lot of arguments as to what really happened.

The whole movie is a great piece of European cinema, and the Italian and Spanish film making style is evident throughout. You have to give it up to them for creating a frenetically paced movie without the use of shaky cam to introduce the monsters. You feel like you’re involved in a serious apocalypse, albeit with monsters that resemble something out of the old Power Rangers television program. Sure, there are some tongue and cheek moments, the whole thing plays off like a made for television Stephen King picture, but so what?

The music is great, the acting is ok, the dubbing is fantastic, and the premise most certainly can fit into modern day worlds. You will find Nightmare City to be one great piece of zombie filmmaking and even George Romero might give it a nod or two. But that doesn’t really matter, does it? This is my favorite zombie movie, and though there are a lot of great ones out there, nothing seemed to have the impact that this one had. I saw it several times in my years, but most recently I enjoyed it with Spanish subtitles, a great one to enjoy an IPA to. If you haven’t seen this in a while, make sure that you buy Nightmare City here, and see why it’s my favorite zombie movie.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rosemary’s Baby Review

rosemary's baby poster
(Buy Rosemary's Baby Criterion)
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare Comes True

Love it or hate it, the slow moving era of movies still reaches to the depths of fear and comes out charging in a relevant way. Whether you’re watching something that came from the mind of Bava or Argento or you’re watching Rosemary’s Baby, you realize that not every horror movie has to have a baby that’s exploding with violence and gore all over the place. Thank you Peter Jackson, but you will have to take a backseat to t his one, as it is far more emphatic through the reveal than anything produced in the last 10 years, although, there was that one movie about the orphan that turned out to be an older woman, what’s that movie called again? Something about adoption, who cares, who knows, let’s talk about this child molester’s movie…what, he was acquitted? No?

Rosemary’s Baby is indeed a classic for a variety of reasons. It could be the naivety that is portrayed by the main character, coming up pregnant amidst what seems like a very odd backdrop. Each 20 minute interval reveals another piece of the puzzle and as the movie continues through a variety of steps, it’s leading up to something big, and you know what the twist is, but you don’t know how it’s going to be revealed. The knowing, the slow pace, deliberate lines and lots of clues lead you to believe that there is something going awry, and when all is said and done, it is truly revealed that the devil is in the details, the little hands, and the laughter, and the coven of witchcraft that has produced the birth of the devil!

The movie is drawn out, long, boring and fully realized by a true artist. You really get tense because of the way the plot thickens into a cesspool of cool. Regardless of your take on the director, you will get a chill up your spine the way things turn out. The scariest moments aren’t really gorey, they are just moments that you see how society has changed in many ways. The hysterical wife that confides in her doctor, only to get taken to her husband, who is in on it, or how everyone involved is very much part of a cult. The whole movie churns its way through several momentous plot points, none of which deliver quite like the pay off.

All in all, Rosemary’s Baby is an example of an older movie that has some scary ideas. However, when it comes full circle it’s actually a tad on the boring side. I liked the overall artistry, it’s a work of great triumph, but in the canon of scary films, this one is not going to win over modern fans. However, if you’re a mother, father, pregnant, or are going to get pregnant, this presents a whole new level of fear that is definitely as scary today as it ever was before. Roman Polanski outdoes himself with such grace here; you don’t really get the age until you start to realize this was made in the late 60s. Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes do a fine job here, and I’m surprised at how much money this made when released. It’s a long one, so strap in for a game of scrabble!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

5 Horror Novelists You That Will Keep You Up At Night

Horror Books
The Horror Novelists Worth Checking Out Today

Whether you are reading traditional format books or you have an electronic device that you can scroll through, you most likely can appreciate a good horror novel. A lot of the movies that are revered, as the greatest scary films of all time have been first created by someone with a literary dynamic first, than converted to the visual medium. When speaking on this subject several names come to mind, but which ones are going to give you the most bang for your proverbial buck? The following 5 horror novelists you want to read today is just a quick write up of names that came to mind this morning while drinking my morning coffee.

5. H.P. Lovecraft

Despite the fact that he was deathly afraid of women, this guy can creep you completely out with some of the most lingering and slow burning horror elements known to writing. He creates a very educated sprawl of weird and horrific moments and at times does so in a very short and condensed manner. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your spine tingles, and your mind starts playing tricks on you. The absorbing writer is seen as one of the greatest of all time. Suggested reading: The Call of Cthulhu (buy it here)

4. David Wong

Some might find this guy to be annoying, but he makes horror fun with a very cool and interesting way of describing certain matters. Much like my sense of humor, Wong creates a tapestry of references that you would only make with your friends or to your cats. I for one talk to my cat friends as they look at me appalled. Sometimes I tell my girlfriend and she just looks at me appalled too. I guess you just can’t win, unless you’re writing horror novels. I wish I had more time. Suggested reading: John Dies At The End (buy it here)

3. Clive Barker

Someone once told me that Clive Barker was a poor man’s Stephen King, and they couldn’t have been more wrong. Barker creates a world rich with an aural sin element that is almost like eating fried chicken when you’ve got a heart condition. His way of creating madness and chaos into a sensual feast is really something to behold. While all his books aren’t as nightmare filled as other novelists, he can sure take something as simple as taking a nap and turn it into an insane asylum within a few hundred pages. Suggested reading: Books of Blood (buy it here)

2. John Saul

John Saul is one of those writers that has been churning away stories of pure evil and while he has garnered a great bit of success, you probably haven’t heard of him. He has created a lengthy list of thrillers and horror novels that deal with a variety of human and supernatural elements all the same. He continues to build upon his success, jumping into the comic book world with “The God Project” but his novels have been bestsellers for many years now, and there’s something about the way he writes that will have you believing that things aren’t what they seem in your neck of the woods. Suggested reading: Sleep Walk (buy it here)

1. Stephen King

Did you really think I’d pick someone else? The king of horror novels (pun intended) once said he was the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries. Sure he may be an easy pick for the #1 spot and some might argue that he’s overrated, but with a legion of fans, and books that sell out their first printings within hours of being released, you gotta give the guy some credit. He might be a little longwinded in his story telling, but time and time again he brings out the horror with the greatest of ease. Suggested reading: The Stand (buy it here)

If you love horror movies, than it is an easy transition to move to reading horror novels. The aforementioned authors are just a handful of the best that you’ll find when you’re exploring the bookshelves that are left in your town. If you are going to shop online for any of the books mentioned above or for just about anything else, check out the selection online through amazon, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Raven Review

(buy The Raven here)
John Cusack is Edgar Allen Poe in this dark horror thriller of mediocre proportions. It is available now on blu ray here.

When you think of John Cusack, at least when I think of him, you often times remember the guy that is always chasing that one lost love. Whether he’s in the middle of a break up or he’s trying to win the affections of a hot chick that won’t give him the time of day, Cusack is known for wearing his heart on his proverbial sleeve, and this movie in some ways is a culmination of all his previous work, only it is wrapped in the fat head of Edgar Allen Poe.

The movie is a tale of thrilling proportions, or at least it tries to be, with a gothic feel that is quite interesting. There are a lot of components to the way the actors portray the characters that makes it fit for a stage play rather than a full-length movie. In fact, I often times wondered what it would be like to see this in person live on stage, but that would mean having a lot of money because good quality stage plays cost a lot of money to see live in Los Angeles.

The Raven moves through several acts where Poe played by Cusack, has to go through a series of grizzly murders in order to find a missing person, buried alive. The whole movie rings of Poe’s stories and really does a good job with the visual representations of the writings. However, the movie starts to slow down and get really boring towards the third act. Even though there is a slowdown, it’s still has a great deal of action, suspense, and a plot twist that you may see coming a mile away but cheer for anyways.

All in all, I liked The Raven, even if I did have a few problems with the pacing and the overall story. This work of historical fiction really does make me a tad bit more interested in Poe’s work, even though I already find what I know about his writings to be fascinating. For those that haven’t read his work, you can purchase his books here. For those that are familiar with his work the visuals are going to be cool, but the movie as a whole? Well, that’s debatable. It leans towards greatness visually but lacks a certain gusto that I would want from horror movies. Your opinion will vary, I’m sure.
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