horror

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Face Off Season 10 Episode 13: The Big Finale Part 1: “Sinister Showdown”

Published April 7, 2016 by rmpixie

Season 10 would end with my kind of challenge!!  The 3 finalists found themselves in an oil field with a creepy looking house in the background.  It set the scene for the final challenge of the season.  McKenzie had special guest Jason Blum, creator of the production company Blumhouse that brought us all the latest horrors like The Purge and Insidious with her to bring them the challenge details.  They would have to create 2 characters to star in their own film. The film would be an adaptation of a short story taken from The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City, a collection of short stories by writers, actors and directors like Eli Roth and Scott Derrickson.  The story, entitled “Hellhole” by Chris Denham, tells of a family that buys a house only to find that it’s a portal to Hell and that they have unleashed a demon.  The artists had to create a demon and a possessed family member according to a script from one of 3 new up-and-coming directors hand-picked for this challenge.  The artists would get a lighting and screen test, 2 helpers in the way of their former contestants, and  Jason Blum would also be a judge for the final looks in the film.  Another surprise was that Oscar-winning makeup artist Lois Burwell, one of the judges from season 7, would be there for the walk-through.

Rob picked Anna and Kaleb.  His script described a demon that came up from the oil fields.  The director, Bryce McGuire, wanted a molten, cracked and crusted skin on the demon.  Rob came up with a sun-baked demon and a possessed woman who would ooze oil.  He wanted to create a larger than life chest piece, face and cowl.  Anna would do the possession makeup and Rob would do the demon face. Lois warned him to avoid a leonine look to the nose and cheeks.  Rob was floundering a bit with the design of the face, but came up with a mole/rhino look that he was happy with.  He also wanted a unique horn shape that would add height.  Kaleb fabricated a back piece that looked like roots, and even though the mold stuck creating a huge split in the demon face, and the heavy cowl was making the demon face push forward, they came up with a great makeup.  During the screen test, Rob soon learned that his vision didn’t match the director’s.  Bryce wanted a paler, more powdery look, the horns placed further back on the head, and shovel-like hands.  He also wanted imbedded natural elements.  The possessed makeup was too extreme for him, and he wanted the possession to not manifest physically.  Um….sure.  Poor Rob had a tall order ahead of him and would have to do a whole new makeup.

Rob and his first demon draft,

Rob and his first demon draft.

 

 

Melissa had Yvonne and Johnny on her team.  Her script involved a cyclops-type demon so she wanted to make sure she didn’t recreate her last makeup and came up with a fleshy eye membrane instead of an actual eye.  She would be doing the face of the demon, Yvonne the demon cowl, and Johnny the possessed family member.  During the walk-through, they thought the possessed makeup was too subtle, and she had to shift his eye shape.  The demon needed a stronger jaw line, and they had to watch their time.  She let Johnny do the molds since that was his strength, and she created a diseased look emanating from the heart area for the possessed character.  She was stressed because they were running out of time. At the screen test, director John Wynn didn’t like the demon chest piece because it might look like he was lactating once the oil started to ooze.  He wanted oil oozing from the demon’s mouth and more redness in the eye area.  The possessed makeup needed more makeup on the shoulder and branches growing from his fingertips.  Melissa intended to step it up for a win.

Melissa and her demonic duo.

Melissa and her demonic duo.

 

 

Walter, Mel and Robert would avoid the typical demon look and create a simple possessed makeup.  Lois and Mr. Westmore suggested sculpting skin around the vines that would protrude from the possessed character’s face.  They loved the demon, but Lois advised him to pay attention to where the lighting would hit the makeup.  Walter went for an asymmetrical feel with vines on one side and a pumpkin like look on the other shoulder.  He created a set of teeth for his model and Robert used moss to cover edges and gave a great look to the demon.  Mel worked on the possessed makeup and although the edges were lifting on the face piece, they got the makeups to the soundstage.  Ryan Spindell seemed happy with the look but wanted the vines finished and Mr. Westmore suggested fixing spots on the nose and brow bone that reflected too much light.  Ryan also wanted to see more of the actor in the possessed makeup.  Walter was pleased that he didn’t have to redo the whole makeup.

Walter and his vined demons.

Walter and his vined demons.

 

 

All the artists had a lot of work to do before the final filming, and once again, Face Off left us hanging until the second part of the finale.  This is killing me!!

The Witch puts Horror on Trial

Published March 1, 2016 by rmpixie

the-witch-poster1

The Witch (2015, 1 hr 32 mins.)

 

The hype machine has created yet another horror frenzy with the 2015 festival favourite, The Witch. Much like the Salem Witch Trials, hysteria surrounding this film snowballed, spreading stories of disturbing scenes and terror throughout the festival circuit. I myself wrung my hands in despair when I couldn’t get tickets to the sold-out screening at TIFF this past summer, feeling like I was missing the horror film of the year.   What emerged from the frenzy was a question about what creates horror in a film, and an apparent polarizing of horror fans.

Set in 1630, a puritanical family is banished from a communal plantation for their religious beliefs and claim a place for themselves in a remote forest valley. The family experiences a horrible setback when their infant son vanishes under his adolescent sister Thomasin’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) watch.  They are under great stress as the crops fail, food is scarce, and they grieve the loss of the baby.  Suspicions soon take hold as the family suspect Thomasin is a witch, and when her brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) disappears, they all descend into despair, paranoia and disbelief as accusations fly and things come to a shocking and bitter conclusion.

Director Robert Eggers painstakingly made a film that stayed as true to the era of his story as possible. From the costumes to the language and sets, he recreated a time that saw a narrow vision of the world and religion. There were very real things to fear, like the elements and disease, but nothing is as frightening as the unknown.  Here it poses as the Devil and his witch minions, who could be blamed for a multitude of sins so-to-speak, since these pilgrims didn’t know much else.  Witches and the Devil were their Freddy and Jason back then, and to them it was a very real fear, with salvation and comfort only coming from God.  Eggers also artfully weaves in traditional fairy tale elements amidst the real struggle the family faces; using those stories as a relevant source of horror relatable to the era.  The performances were excellent, especially from Taylor-Joy and the range of emotions Scrimshaw exhibits.  His soon-to-be infamous possession scene is hugely admirable for his young age.

Now, this story wasn’t water-tight. There were opportunities that, without giving away spoilers, could have utilized the mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) in a way that would have travelled down a more traditional horror route, and perhaps made more sense in a literal way, but it didn’t.  If it had, I think horror fans would have felt more satisfied with the overall film, instead of struggling for a grasp on the horror angle.

The verdict? I liked The Witch and my boyfriend did not.  First off, don’t expect a literal horror.  I did, and along with my boyfriend, we kept waiting for that “horror moment” that never really appeared.  After I relaxed my horror expectations, however, I began to enjoy it for the fairy tale aspects and the medieval woodcutting look.  I have forever been a huge fan of the morbidly violent and creepy tones of Brothers Grimm fairy tales.  The axes swung too and fro, the heads rolled and the innocent suffered often; escapades that have been sugar-coated and softened through the centuries.  Eggers doesn’t do that here.  The witch is a true crone, with seductive wiles and a bloodthirsty stealth that drives this family to mistrust and madness.  It’s a fairy tale at its stark best, from the cinematography to the harsh realities of the wilderness and the living conditions. The fantasy is rinsed off, leaving a brutal uneasiness that turns into a pleasurable weirdness at the end.

As I said before, my boyfriend had no time for this movie. He felt it he was being sold something that didn’t deliver, in his words.  He is a true cinephile, with an enormous love for horror as well as having extremely varied tastes in cinema.  Even though this was a slow-burn horror, which he is familiar with and enjoys as much as a slasher film, he felt that he was promised a terrifying experience that didn’t deliver.  We both read many an article that criticized the horror fans who disliked the film, calling them “narrow-minded” for not being impressed with the art house offering, but I don’t think narrow-mindedness is to blame.  I see his point and agree because the real culprit here is not the filmmaker or a fan’s perception, but those churning the big bad marketing cauldron.

There is an incessant need to crow about the next scariest horror movie guaranteed to make you pee your pants, etc.  It creates a false sense of certainty that first, this is a horror in the traditional sense with an immediate gratification for visceral jolts of fear (see the film’s trailer below), and second, that every horror fan is disturbed by this type of horror.  Horror fans can be the most accepting and diverse film-goers out there, but I think they just don’t like being duped.  It’s a matter of misrepresenting what you’re selling simply because you know what people clamour for in order to create a buzz.  That does the film a disservice as the marketing can be hard to avoid, and it can be difficult to stay your bias.  I felt this way with It Follows, which I didn’t like because it was also sold as a terrifying film, and I wasn’t terrified in the least.  I’m an intelligent horror fan with an open mind, and the hype marred my experience.  Ultimately though, everyone is talking about The Witch, which is what any filmmaker would want, so it’s a win-win and opens up yet another debate about what constitutes horror.

I think you should see a film to support a new director with a unique vision, not because a media fueled machine tells you how you should react to a film.  Some will like The Witch for the meticulous attention to detail and art house flair, and some won’t because it doesn’t represent the type of horror genre it was sold as; it’s as simple as that.  When we are allowed to use our own powers of observation and critical thinking instead of what’s being shoved down our throats, when we allow each other to have and accept each other’s opinions, and when we allow a film to organically emerge and create its own momentum, I think there’ll be a better appreciation for a genre that can be as inclusive as its fans.

 

Dark Moon Issue #3 Scares up Sci-fi Horror for Halloween!

Published October 28, 2015 by rmpixie

darkmoon3

Dark Moon Issue #3

Art by Benedick Bana

It’s almost Halloween and Dark Moon Comic is all about the treats.  To Freematik, creator of the innovative motion comic, this holiday is about sharing creativity, and to celebrate the launch of the first comic last Halloween, the third and last part of their introductory sci-fi horror trilogy will be released for free on October 29th.

The first two issues brought us a team of survivors beamed to a mysterious moon as the Earth is hit by a deadly meteor.  They are led by Dante, the scientist responsible for saving them, who finds the moon has perils of its own in the way of hostile and hungry creatures.  Surrounded by these beasts, they discover an alien outpost and take cover while trying to figure out their next move.  As they explore the base, they find out what the beasts are and how they got to the moon.

The third installment finds the group’s numbers dwindling and Dante reflecting on the remaining survivors fate.  His inner process comes to the forefront as he feels the guilt of placing them all between a rock and a hard place, and he is desperate to get them off of a planet teeming with bloodthirsty creatures.  And if some of you were wondering, we also learn what has happened on Earth after the meteor hit.

Once again, Dark Moon transports you to a brutal place.  We see aliens run amok and a conflicted leader who wills himself to save this random group of characters.  It was nice to see more back story for both the Earth’s fate and Dante’s relationship to each of the fallen.  Of course, the artwork is absolutely stunning with all the near 3-D detailing accented by bursts of vibrant colours, and the sensory experience is completed with the trippy soundtrack.

I think the average comic reader could get used to this, spoiling them with HD visuals, an engaging story and the added hip-hop fusion scoring.  These mini movies will keep you wanting more story and more creatures, so here’s hoping Freematik and artist Benedick Bana will surprise us with something in the near future (but not like, death by meteor near future…)

Check them out on Twitter : @DarkMoonComic

and their deviant art site: http://freematik.deviantart.com/ to check out issues 1 and 2 so you’ll be ready for the alien chaos in issue 3…all for free!

Monsters, Mayhem and Richard Stanley

Published April 18, 2015 by rmpixie

lost soul

Lost Soul:  The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014,  1 hr, 37 mins)

 

I remember when the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau came out.  Being a monster fiend, I didn’t really care about the plot, although I did know the story; I was more thrilled about the promise of freakish animal-human hybrids.  And Val Kilmer.  Yes, I was one of the many women who swooned over his chiselled good looks and brooding demeanor, so to see him in one more film was a bonus.

I think my sister and I ended up renting the movie, and it might have been on VHS, or maybe we saw it late one night on T.V., but we were in for quite a shock.  What started out as a promising adventure/horror movie disintegrated into bizarro land and pee-your-pants giggles.  We loved when Marlon Brando recited the “Judge not, lest ye be judged…” psalm, and almost died when Val Kilmer imitated him in the disastrous third act, in fact we still recite our own version of that scene from time to time, just for shits and giggles.

How could a classic story by H.G. Wells, with big name talent like Brando, Kilmer and Thewlis, go this wrong?  I’ve always wondered what the studios were thinking when this film was put out, and I got my answer with the Rue Morgue Cinemacbre presentation of Lost Soul:  The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau, a 2014 documentary by David Gregory.  It is here that we meet director Richard Stanley in Montségur, France, at his secluded home.  Known for his cult classics Dust Devil and Hardware, he lobbied for and finally won the spot of directing one of his favourite stories, The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Glitch after glitch could not dampen his determination, and along with beautiful concept art by Graham Humphreys, landing Marlon Brando as Dr. Moreau, and a beautiful remote location for filming in Cairns, Australia, his is an intriguing story of how a film production filled with grand ideas and talent became a cursed burden that he would ultimately lose due to Movieland mishandling and total loss of control.

I was completely fascinated by the accounts that came from cast and crew, as well as Stanley himself who struck me as a true eccentric with his occult practices to keep good mojo during the production, his extensive knowledge of the feud between H.G. Wells and Joseph Conrad, and the general weirdness that seemed to follow him. I especially enjoyed Fairuza Balk (Aissa), Fiona Mahl (Sow Lady #2), and Marco Hofschneider’s (M’ling) anecdotal stories about life on the set and dealing with Brando, and Kilmer, who was described as a “prep-school bully”.  And speaking of those headliners, my opinion of Brando and Kilmer changed.  I now think Brando’s notorious behaviour, that could be interpreted as disrespectful and rightfully so in some instances, was not such a surprise after dealing with his daughter’s suicide and the fiasco of the Dr. Moreau production.  Gregory mentioned after the film via Skype that he thought Brando’s performance was one of the more entertaining aspects of the film, and that he reportedly behaved that way to amuse himself.  I think he just didn’t care, and seemed to take the piss instead of what was deemed as crazy antics.  Kilmer on the other hand, even though he was going through a divorce, was just a jerk who even Brando apparently couldn’t tolerate.

Gregory told the audience that he made the film because after working with Stanley on The Theatre Bizarre anthology, he asked the elusive director about the rumors associated with Dr. Moreau, and the documentary grew from there.  Stanley was sick of the questions and wanted to say his piece once and for all.  Gregory was surprised at how many cast, crew and executives agreed to participate for the documentary.  Ron Perlman and David Thewlis were among those who declined involvement; Thewlis reportedly not wanting to add to the gossip surrounding the film fiasco.  Val Kilmer was also approached, but Gregory’s inquiries were met with no response, which is no big surprise!

Lost Souls is an interesting journey of how Richard Stanley lost his dream; how the irate, old-school director John Frankenheimer took over just to get the film finished while Brando and Kilmer were constantly at odds with each other, and a stalled production that was barely salvaged.  Gregory announced that the DVD and Blue-ray of the doc will be available in June, and the film is currently making the festival circuit.  For fans of Stanley or those curious about the back story of one of the worst films ever, it’s worth seeing this entertaining and informative documentary.

As for Richard Stanley?  Aside from him directing Mother of Toads in The Theatre of Bizarre, he has a film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space in the works, and a graphic novel adaptation of his Dr. Moreau script.  Hope he comes out with something that he can be proud of!

Check out Rue Morgue’s site for more fascinating horror info, David Gregory’s company Severin Films for updates and VOD of the documentary, and The Royal’s schedule for the next cool flick!

http://www.severin-films.com/

http://www.rue-morgue.com/

http://www.theroyal.to/

 

 

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