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Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

You should be watching the mini-series Adventure Time: Stakes

Cartoon Network raises the stakes
Nov 20
// John-Charles Holmes
Last year, Cartoon Network took home audiences by surprise with their first mini-series, Over the Garden Wall. The ten episode event delighted critics and fans with a short form original story, and this year Cartoon Network t...

Review: Shrew's Nest

Nov 04 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220097:42685:0[/embed] Shrew's Nest (Musarañas)Directors: Juan Fernando Andrés and Esteban Roel Rating: NRCountry: Spain  The term "slow burn" gets thrown around a lot. I know I've used it more than once. Sometimes it's a useful term to describe how a film functions; other times it's a way to say something is boring without having to use that language. Sometimes people think things are a slow burn when they're really not. Shrew's Nest isn't a slow burn, though I know of others who say it is. Those people are either accidentally ignorant or willfully ignorant, but either way they're wrong. They're wrong, because the sequence of events that ultimately lead to the narrative boiling over aren't slow at all. They're very deliberate, placed perfectly in order to ratchet up the tension while also revealing the multiple facets of each character. At first, we see characters effectively through their own eyes, how they try to present themselves to the world. Then we see them through the eyes of others, where some of those seams start to show. Ultimately, we see them for who they truly are. And, not unexpectedly, what we find there isn't pretty. Montse is confined to the house. Not by some external force but an internal one. She can make it to the door, but she'll never go past it. Her sister, who she refers to as niña (translated as "the girl"), can go out. The girl goes to work during the day, and Montse stays home. She cooks and cleans and makes sure that her sister stays away from men. Because men are bad people who do bad things. (Note that it's clear almost immediately what happened to Montse, but that doesn't make the ultimate reveal any less painful, nor does it really prepare you for what follows.) One day, a man basically falls into her lap. As Carlos tries to leave his apartment (a floor above the girls'), he falls down the stairs, breaking his leg and hitting his head. After asking for her help, he faints. She brings him inside, binds his leg, and puts him in her bed. What follows, of course, is misery. Also, Misery. From the outset you know that Montse is unhinged, but the question is how far she'll go to keep Carlos there. The answer: Really Fucking Far. But in order to get to that point, we need context. Montse is viscous, something we learn early on, but seeing how her madness manifests itself is crucial to making the violence feel justified. Violence for the sake of violence can be fine, but there's something disquietingly realistic about characters in Shrew's Nest. Montse has had a rough time of it, and her psyche has been shaped accordingly. The girl is a little afraid of her sister, but the relationship is at the point where that's generally fine, until Carlos comes into the picture. Carlos isn't particularly concerned, particularly since Montse is so kind to him, but he doesn't understand the situation. He believes her when she says she had a doctor visit, but we know she's lying. Each time a character makes a decision, even if they make the wrong one, it felt fair. Characters do stupid things, but so do people. And characters don't do certain stupid things that they would be expected to do in a horror movie. Shrew's Nest is not particularly scary, but it is consistently unsettling. It's also claustrophobic, taking place entirely in a single apartment building (two apartments and the stairwell between them). That's good both for both budgetary and narrative reasons. The world never really feels larger than the one building, even as people other than the leads come in and out. That's important, because Shrew's Nest takes place in a place where other people live. Misery was in the middle of nowhere, but Montse doesn't have that sort of luxury, and neither do the filmmakers. This building – and really just the one apartment – needs to feel like the entire world, and it succeeds in that respect.  In fact, it succeeds in pretty much every respect. The minor issues I had ultimately don't matter, and as I think back on it, I barely even remember what they were. Only the good things stick in my brain, and there are a whole lot of good things. It's well crafted, well acted, well concepted, and well executed. There are some moments that are truly grotesque in the absolute best way, and there are images I'm not going to be able to scrub from my mind for quite some time. With a film like this, that's really all you can want. And Shrew's Nest delivers that and a whole lot more. 
Shrew's Nest Review photo
Shrew's Company
When I was in middle school, we'd periodically have a writer, Jon Land, come and talk to us. He'd talk about writing and life and whatever else. (Honestly, I don't really remember what most of those talks were about, but what...

Ash vs Evil Dead online photo
Ash vs Evil Dead online

Watch the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead for free online

This is legit, guys
Nov 03
// Hubert Vigilla
Ash vs Evil Dead debuted on Starz over the weekend, and the reviews have been fantastic. What's that? You don't have Starz? And you want to see the show? Well, you can now watch the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead for free ...

Review: Summer Camp

Nov 03 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220098:42683:0[/embed] Summer CampDirector: Alberto MariniRating: NRCountry: Spain Summer Camp is sadly not a spiritual successor to the Sleepaway Camp films. Rather, it's a twist (sort of) on the zombie narrative. This is ultimately a zombie film, even if it would like you to think that it's not. After being subjected to some kind of substance, people (and animals) develop a nasty habit of bleeding from the mouth and attacking their fellow citizens (but not their fellow infected). The programmer who introduced the film said that it was a rather mean film, and it's hard to disagree. For a lot of reasons, what is ultimately a black comedy comes off as needlessly cruel to its main characters. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's something to be aware of. In the opening moments, we're told that four camp counselors have gone missing and are probably dead. We're then introduced to four camp counselors, and the film consists mostly of the audience waiting for them to die. And I don't mean "Waiting" as in "COME ON, JUST DIE ALREADY" (though I expect some people did feel that way) but the waiting that comes from knowing how something will turn out but not how it turns out that way. One dies almost immediately, which is fine because he's the worst. Then we follow three mildly more interesting characters as we watch them meet their ends. Watching that, though, is a fairly exhausting proposition, because Summer Camp's cinematography is brain-numbing at times. Shaky cam is everywhere, and during the action sequences, camera motion and rapid editing take the place of coherent choreography. What happened during those scenes? Heck if I know. I generally waited until after the scenes were over and then assessed the damages. "Oh, so she got hit with a rock but he was actually etc. etc." It's not awesome, but I can't say it doesn't make the scenes more tense, at least at first. The confusion inherent in that style fits with the confusion in the sequences, but it can only hold that attention so long. After 10-15 seconds, it just becomes tiresome. Eventually, you need to know who's doing what to whom, and Summer Camp doesn't really give that. It does, however, give a fair amount of blood. If that's what you're looking for, Summer Camp's got you covered. (That's a pun, because people get covered in blood. Get it? Hilarious.) There is some inconsistency in the actual damage caused by weaponry, and characters eventually seem to get over most non-fatal attacks, even if they should be crippling. Then they walk (or limp) around covered in blood but not bleeding out or really in danger of death from wounds. They're still in danger from the zombies and the inevitability of their fates, but it's hard to be truly concerned when some duct tape essentially fixes a drill through the foot. The one thing that really makes Summer Camp stand out is that thing I talked about in the introduction: The Resident Evil 4 thing, the Spanish thing. Even though it's a Spanish movie, most of the film takes place in English. It's set at an English-language immersion camp, and as such, the group is made of native English speakers. Even so, I assumed that any Spanish dialogue would be translated, because that just seemed like an appropriate thing to do. But no. The first time someone spoke it, for just a moment I thought it might have been a mistake. Maybe he was mumbling or another character was going to translate it and we were supposed to be in the dark in the meantime... but no. We just don't get to know. The characters' lack of knowledge is actually pretty fundamental to the plot, though. Like me, they recognize specific words or phrases but can't communicate in any meaningful way. And because of that, people die and signals for help get misunderstood. It's actually pretty awesome in a twisted sort of way. And I imagine knowing Spanish would completely undermine its effect. But if, like me, you only speak English, you'll get a harsh but interesting lesson in why multi-culturalism is so important in our increasingly globalized world. So ultimately I'm conflicted about Summer Camp. It does one thing really, really right (for a specific audience), but much of it is just kind of generic. It's got jump scares aplenty, some decent laughs, and plenty of groans, but not really moreso than any other horror black comedy out there. It's kind of generic but with one gimmick, and that gimmick serves to make it stand out just enough to be worthy of your consideration and perhaps even your time.
Summer Camp Review photo
More like bummer camp, am I right?
In Resident Evil 4, Leon S. Kennedy is dropped in a Spanish village. He's an all-American hero (by way of Japan), but his enemies don't speak his language. The characters talk, but they speak Spanish.  To a Spanish speak...

Interview: Bruce Campbell (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 30 // Hubert Vigilla
Bruce, could you put this in perspective for us: a couple years back there was a very pleasant surprise when we see your character at the end the Evil Dead remake. What sort of happened between that and the series? Did you already know that the show was percolating? Bruce Campbell: No, this happened fast. This happened really fast. Shockingly fast for this industry. These things are usually developed for years. We did a remake because people would not shut up about it, and we wanted to give them something. Sam didn't want to direct the remake himself but he thought, "Let me handpick a guy, Fede Alvarez, and let him have a shot at it." We think he did a great job, and it made a lot of money around the world, which at least convinced us that people are out there, the fans are still out there somewhere, but they want Sam and they want Ash. So, we're going to give it to them. We're tired of fighting it. But, the economics of making another movie... We could get enough money to make a remake directed by a first-time director, but we couldn't get enough money to make another one directed by Sam Raimi. I mean, as famous a director as Sam has become, he needs money. Sam thinks big, really big. So TV made sense. Rob Tapert had worked with Starz on Spartacus. I worked in television for years on Burn Notice. So we were TV guys. I feel like I'm a TV guy as much as a feature guy, so I couldn't wait for this. We pitched it to Sam, we went over to try and bend his ear. How was it working in unrestricted TV land? Bruce Campbell: Fantastic! It's where you need to be. You know, we don't have to do an alternate take to say something. "Gosh! Golly! Darn it! Put that over there!" None of that bulls**t. You can just talk like an adult, Ash can talk like he needs to talk. I like it a lot. The first two Evil Dead movies were unrated; only Army of Darkness had a rating because it was made for a studio and we had to have a rating. This is how people need to see it. I can't wait. Has Ash changed— Bruce Campbell: This is glorious violence, by the way. This is like, when our blood goes, it's celebratory. [laughs] Bruce Campbell: You know what I mean? This is not going to be dreary violence. This is going to be, if it's possible, fun violence. This is not going to warp your life. We take the horror seriously, but there's other things to like. We want to keep Ash the trash-talking hero, so there's going to be plenty of that. Over the years you and Sam talked about how you enjoy the Marx Brothers, classic comedy, things like that— Bruce Campbell: Yeah. The Stooges. Are you more free with the show to do more of that? Bruce Campbell: We can do whatever we want. I mean, the coolest thing ever is to be able to show up on a set and to know that you have no restrictions. You have an idea, you shoot it. If it works, you keep it, knowing that if it doesn't work you get rid of it. You know what I mean? So it's a great way to work as an actor or anybody in the arts. You want to function in an environment that's creative. And you'd be surprised how many environments you get into that are not really that creative, where someone is very controlling ,or a writer doesn't want you to change anything, or a director treats you like his little pawn and he wants to put you here and he wants to put you there, or certain DP/camera guys want to shoot things in a certain way. I'm like, "F**k you, let's make this show!" You know what I mean? Creatively, that's what I'm all about. I'll go to the ends of— I'll go to New Zealand to do that. Was there a lot of ad-libbing? Bruce Campbell: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Bruce Campbell: And the kids—I call them "the kids," Ray and Dana—they're getting on board. Not like it's a competition, but there will be things that occur to their character to say. A lot of times a writer won't do what I call "a button." You know, like button up a scene. Sometimes there are things that just make sense. Do you have any favorite ad libs you remember but didn't necessarily make it? Bruce Campbell: Umm, no, they just keep coming. So that's the beauty of TV—there's plenty of it. One of the great things about Ash in this is that he's sort of acknowledging that he's a little bit longer in the tooth. Bruce Campbell: Yeah, he's over the hill. Yeah, I love it! Got to put on a man-girdle and pop his dentures in. I mean, that's hilarious. Sam was talking about putting a box of Depends in the trunk. [laughs] Bruce Campbell: And you just see the box. You don't really talk about it. Or Ash says, "Pull over." "Why?" "I gotta get something." "What?" "Don't worry about it, just pull over." You know, and he throws the Depends in the back, and he doesn't have to say anything. I think that's awesome! Why not? Why do our heroes have to be so perfect? What a bore. Jesus Christ! What was it like getting back into this demanding of a role again. Bruce Campbell: Hard. Hard and painful. I usually have a good time on film sets, and the Evil Dead movies never are really a good time. That's okay, because I find the, very creatively satisfying, but none of them are comfortable or fun. You've covered with blood and s**t 12 hours a day. It gets old fast. Wearing stunt rigs, and you can't breathe, and every time you scratch your head you pull the hair out of you arms because of the dried blood. And you get ants all over you because you're wet and sticky and sweet with the fake blood. You attract rodents, that type of thing. [laughs] You've worked with Lucy Lawless in the past. Bruce Campbell: 20 years ago Were you guys searching for a project together? Bruce Campbell: Well, the second we knew we were going to shoot in New Zealand, I'm like, "We've got to get Lucy as part of this deal. ASAP." And so we're trying to make the show worth her time now. So upcoming season, she's going to get busy, and we like that, because she's such an ass kicker. Ash needs some more ass-kicking help, and why not get f**king Lucy Lawless? [editor's note: In retrospect, I wonder if this was some early indication that Ash vs Evil Dead was going to be renewed for a second season.] [laughs] We asked Sam before if he'd taken it a little bit easier on you now than he has in the past. And when I asked him, there was a slightly sadistic glow to his eyes. Bruce Campbell: Oh sure! It would suggest probably not. Bruce Campbell: But thank goodness he's getting older so he doesn't have as much punch anymore. He doesn't have the right hook that he used to have. Now he has people do it for him. No, Sam's always the blood deliverer. If someone's getting the blood in the face, he's the one doing it. Of the Three Stooges, Moe was always the guy who threw the pies. He just had the touch. He was like, "Get out of the way," to the prop guys and he would take the pie. BAM! He would hit it dead on every time. Sam's got that touch. [turns to me and gestures as if repeatedly throwing a cup of fake blood in my face] Because you can't get into the frame. It's a very delicate line, literally. So he knows where the edge of that frame is, and his cup is right there. He never goes in, it's perfect—he hits you every time. Because you don't want to redo that. You got to practice it to get it once. So is Ash your favorite character that you've played? Bruce Campbell: I'd say so. Especially now. I'd say it's been cemented now, because he's much more of a full-blown character. And if we can do this for a couple of years, then we can really kick some Ash, and really bring that character full throttle. And I can't wait. You do a TV show and you're going to have to throw that son of a bitch into all kinds of scenarios that you never had to before. You have to tell a lot of story for the show, so we'll see what happens to our hero. I'm looking forward to it. I hope ridiculous things happen. This is going to sound like a really goofy question, for which I apologize profusely, but do you reconcile the Ash we see at the end of the Evil Dead films with the one we see in the TV series, or is it a clean break between film and television? Bruce Campbell: Same guy, he just didn't do s**t for 25 years. [laughs] Bruce Campbell: Same guy! What has Ash been up to? Bruce Campbell: Nothing! [laughs] Bruce Campbell: Drinking at bowling alleys at closing time, lying to women about how he lost his right hand. [laughs] That's what he's doing—he's doing nothing. People love to ask, "Oh, what kind of character development?" We don't have any! [laughs] Bruce Campbell: He's the same guy. Now, you'll see him develop over the course of the show. He has to become a hero. When we find him, he is not a hero. He thinks he's a hero, but he is so lost. He's lost his edge, he's lost everything.
Interview: Bruce Campbell photo
Hail to the king, baby
Bruce Campbell didn't just enter the room—he swaggered. As he made his way to the first roundtable interview, he nodded to the various tables and press. "I will get to you all eventually," he said with equal parts mock-...

Interview: Sam Raimi and Craig DiGregorio (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 29 // Hubert Vigilla
What's the motivating factor for returning to territory that's so early in your career, Sam? [gesturing to DiGregorio] And why did you drag this guy along? Craig DiGregorio: [to Sam Raimi] Why'd you drag me into this? [laughs] Sam Raimi: [gesturing to DiGregorio] This guy! Craig was the best man for the job, and he still continues to be, and he's learned the main voice of the character. He's a good leader for the writers, it turns out. I mean, the time you hire a showrunner you don't know if they are the best man for the job, but he turned out to be. You've got to have so many skills of leadership for the team, recognition of all these egos of the writers and dealing with them, good communication skills with the studio and production that's happening elsewhere, and being able to juggle the budgets and the timecrunch that's coming down on you. And then having to take the script and re-write it overnight. Too many talents and skills to ask for in one person, and that's why we settled with [Craig]. Craig DiGregorio: I haven't thought of those. [laughs] Sam Raimi: [laughs] As far as the first question, Sam, what made you return to this character from very early in your career? Sam Raimi: Five words: The fans... [long pause] [laughs] Sam Raimi: The fans... [long pause, counts on his fingers] The. [laughs] Sam Raimi: So, umm, they've been demanding this. I didn't want to return to it for many years. I wanted to go on and make Spider-Man movies, other characters, other stories, and I've already made three of them. I love Bruce, but I just didn't know if there was more to do. But they really wanted it, and so we listened to them. It's never happened to me before like that. I think that's— I just didn't know we made movies based on the audience's desire to see them. It's very rare for me. Like nobody asked me to make another Spider-Man picture, nobody asked me to make another Darkman picture, or a Simple Plan sequel, or whatever I did. Just this one. So it was really me finally listening to them, and that's it. That's the only motivation. Did the series break down from an Evil Dead 4 movie that you had in the works? Sam Raimi: Yes. For many years my brother Ivan and I were writing an Evil Dead 4 movie. Different versions of it, some great ideas. And we just realized that no one would really want to distribute an Evil Dead 4 movie. It would be really big and it'd another fake-spectacular, but it would be too expensive. It would never really make much money. Then Rob [Tapert] said, "Oh, the economics might work out for TV." And that's how it started. How does the mindset change going from a film to a television show? Are you freed up? Do you feel like there aren't any restrictions for you? Sam Raimi: There's no restrictions from Starz. They really want us to make something as wild and crazy as we'd like. They want the flavor of whatever Evil Dead was brought to the small screen in a big way. They've only been really supportive and we don't really have restrictions. There are the budget and time constrictions of TV. I can't set up those— I only directed the pilot, but as a team, we can't take the time to set up all these really cool camera shots to suggest the supernatural in abstract or artistic ways. Craig DiGregorio: You have to pick your spots. Sam Raimi: Yeah, you have to pick your spots to direct. And instead we focused on the character of Ash, which I think the audience really likes anyways. What was the decision to shoot in New Zealand versus shooting in the States? Sam Raimi: [to DiGregorio] What do you think? Craig DiGregorio: There are a couple of things. I mean, I think your money goes a really long way there, so you can really get a big show for whatever your budget is. Also, the crew we have down there is amazing, and they can turnover horror and action and give us more of those cool camera shots just in the time that we have. And also Sam's longtime producing partner, Rob Tapert, lives down there and has an infrastructure built-in already, and he's very comfortable getting the scripts and feeding it into his machine. I think that's also part of it. So, you know, practical, financial, and also creative. Building on that, how beneficial was it to have that great core of makeup effects artists already there for you? And what was it like working with them to create this sort of world? Sam Raimi: It was great having a team of makeup effects artists that have worked with Rob and have proven to be able to deliver on a TV schedule. The demands that it encompasses—they survived it and excelled. So Rob already had a great relationship with this team and it made things wonderful. Wonderful. There were already 30 people on employ when we began, from another project. It was great. They were up and running. Is this a show that's going to be accessible if you've never seen the properties before? People who've never seen the movies, can they come in and know what's going on? Craig DiGregorio: I mean, I've never seen the movies and I like it. [laughs] Sam Raimi: It continues for the Evil Dead fans. And we hope that they'll be good with it. We really pray that they really will, it's made for them. But we've also taken steps to introduce new audience members to characters in the pilot. Craig DiGregorio: I've talked to people who've seen the first episode—fans versus people who've never seen Evil Dead before—and I think it's equally liked, because it's such a fun, weird universe to put yourself into, and I think people just like that. It's different from a lot of things on television. So I think even new viewers who haven't seen the movies enjoy being put in an interesting place. We're helping catch people up or let them know what the world is at the same time. And I have seen the movies. [laughs] In terms of doing a series as opposed to doing a film. In films, you could basically kill off a lot of lead characters that people have really started to really get a rapport with, whereas if you do that with a series it creates a problem that you're replenishing your cast every couple of weeks. Sam Raimi: Well, I think that's absolutely right, and we feel that we've got to kill some characters so the threat of the Evil Dead is real. There's going to have to be some suffering and missing of characters in this equation. Craig DiGregorio: Yeah, so I don't think it's a complete replenishment, but for the danger to be real, you have to let [some characters be killed]. Especially people close to Ash always end up dying. Sam Raimi: Yeah. It's harder in TV, I agree. What was Bruce's reaction when you came to him and said, "Hey, guess what? We're going to have you play the same action character you played 30 years ago?" Sam Raimi: Well, it wasn't really a surprise. People would always ask Bruce about it. "When are you coming back [to the Evil Dead franchise]." And he'd say, "I don't know when I'm coming back. Sam keep dragging out his Spider-Man movies and..." So it's always been in the air. And I would tell Bruce and Rob that I'm writing with my brother. And ummm still writing with my brother. And then at some convention for Spider-Man a fan said, "When are you doing another Evil Dead movie?" I said, "Okay, I'm writing it this summer with my brother." [editor's note: it was actually an Oz the Great and Powerful press conference. You can read our old report about it here.] And so Bruce saw that, so he wasn't really surprised. The information that came out told him what was coming. Craig DiGregorio: But as far as how Bruce reacted, he started working out. Getting in shape. Sam Raimi: Yes, you're right! Craig DiGregorio: He really did! [laughs] Going from Burn Notice to— Craig DiGregorio: He just looks like an action hero now. [looks over to Bruce Campbell at another table.] Look at that guy! He looks really good! Early on in the writers' room, there's some jokes in the script about Ash being really overweight and looking rough, and Bruce came into the writers' room and said, "F**k you guys! I'm gonna make you eat your words!" And he went and, well, he looks damn good. Started putting himself together. [turns to Raimi] I feel like we kind of turned his life around. [laughs] The amount of misery you're able to inflict on Bruce—have you sort of curtailed that in recent years because you don't want him to break a hip or something? Or has it gotten worse? Sam Raimi: We got to inflict a little pain on him in the pilot, and a little bit all through the series so far. And I'm kind of waiting to hear whenever the last show is, you know, depending how many seasons we go. God help Bruce for those last three episodes, because I'm taking all that's left out of him! [laughs] Craig DiGregorio: [to Raimi] Is this how you kill your friend? [laughs] Sam Raimi: I'll make him wish he was dead! [laughs]
Interview: Sam Raimi photo
The director and showrunner talk Ash
It's been nearly 40 years since Sam Raimi directed Within the Woods, the $1,600 horror short that would become The Evil Dead. Decades later, Raimi has returned to the series that kickstarted and defined his career, directing ...

Ash vs Evil Dead II photo
Ash vs Evil Dead II

Ash vs Evil Dead renewed for a second season on Starz

Good, bad, I'm the guy with a 2nd season
Oct 28
// Hubert Vigilla
Just a few days away from the series premiere on Halloween, Starz has already renewed Ash vs Evil Dead for a second season. The new season will feature the return of Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless, with Campbell, Sam Raimi, ...

Interview: Lucy Lawless and Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 28 // Hubert Vigilla
Could you tell us a little bit about the characters you're playing in Ash vs Evil Dead? Lucy Lawless: [to Jones, with a twang] Well, Thelma? Jill Marie Jones: [to Lawless, with a twang] Well, Louise? Both: We're Thelma and Louise. Lucy Lawless: She's my gal-pal and we're gunning down that moron and his loser buddies. [laughs] Jill Marie Jones: What I love so much about [my character] Amanda Fisher— She is a Michigan State Trooper, she's a badass, she knows her way around a gun, she doesn't like the word “no.” She's one of the good guys, and she really does fight for good. And she meets this mystery over here [gestures to Lawless]— Lucy Lawless: I'm an enigma! My character [Ruby], her father was Professor Knowby, who was the original holder of the Necronomicon in the movies. Her whole family got destroyed by Ash and his deadite plague. So now that he's released it again, she's absolutely going to put him in the ground, because he's responsible for all the ill in her life. She's very fixated on Ash, and not in a sexy way. [laughs] Lucy Lawless: [looks at Jones] She's a little bit fixated with her in a sexy way. Who could not be? [laughs] Were you both fans of the series before coming onto the project? Lucy Lawless: I saw the first Evil Dead when I was 16 or 17. My first boyfriend and I stomped out after the tree rape. We were going, "The people who made this movie are sick, misogynistic, 'unprintable'!” And 12 years later I was married to one of them. [editor's note: Lawless is married to producer Rob Tapert.] [laughs] Lucy Lawless: From Mount Albert, New Zealand—bottom of the world. Who would've thunk it? And here we are. The series is more like the second two Evil Dead films, because tree rape ain't funny. We're not reprising that. Jill Marie Jones: Also, what I love so much about Ash vs Evil Dead; I call it "Evil Dead for Dummies." Lucy Lawless: [laughs] Jill Marie Jones: The first episode, if you've never seen the films, I feel like new fans will be able to— Lucy Lawless: [snaps fingers] Jump in. Jill Marie Jones: You get it real quick. They do it so well. And I know the die hard fans, they did 'em really well. Lucy Lawless: Yeah, did 'em really proud. Jill Marie Jones: Really proud. So I think people will really love it. Lucy, you've plays so many strong, badass women. Is Ruby going to get in there and kick some ass? Lucy Lawless: [sarcastic] She's so weak in this show. Jill Marie Jones: [sarcastic] Vulnerable. Lucy Lawless: She's so— Both: Needy! [laughs] Jill Marie Jones: [sarcastic] Ruby's always asking Amanda, "Please, help me through life?" [laughs] Lucy Lawless: [meekly] "I just don't know which way to go." No, Ruby's a crazy bitch! Jill Marie Jones: Yeah, she's strong. Lucy Lawless: She's tough, and a little obsessive. Jill Marie Jones: And thank god, by the way. Thank god. Lucy Lawless: All the women are tough in this show. Jill Marie Jones: The three female leads of this show all kick ass. They're not waiting for the man to come and save them because they can all handle things themselves. It's really refreshing, you know. So your characters are teamed up together? Jill Marie Jones: Well, something happens, and then something else happens, and then something else happens, and then I meet Ruby. [laughs] Building on that, what physical demands were on both of you for this show? Obviously in the past with Evil Dead, you can tell it's a really physically demanding story. So what are the things you've had to do or overcome? Jill Marie Jones: I came home with bruises. We really went all the way in with all the characters. We committed. And also we have an amazing stunt department. There was a gym in New Zealand. It was right on set, and we'd go in there and punch heavy bags. Lucy Lawless: I didn't know there was a gym! Jill Marie Jones: Are you kidding me? You could go in and shoot guns— Lucy Lawless: Nobody tells me anything! [laughs] Jill Marie Jones: So there was a full-on gym. I didn't know until I got to New Zealand, but someone said to me, "Oh yeah, you have MMA training tomorrow." I was like, "Excuse me? MMA? Oh, that's— I've seen one— Oh, that's scary, but okay." But it was awesome. We had a great stunt department, but it was still physical. Lucy Lawless: We do have a world-class stunt department, who go back a ways to Hercules and Xena... [editor's note: at this point Bruce Campbell at a neighboring table interview says something that catches Lawless' attention or vice versa. Campbell turns to Lawless and Jones and there's a pause.] [to Campbell, in an old Bronx mother voice] You'll be all right, honey! You keep talking! Bruce Campbell: Hey! Lucy Lawless: [still in accent] You keep talking! [laughs] Lucy Lawless: Uhh... Yeah. Jill Marie Jones: We've got a great stunt department. [laughs] Lucy Lawless: I've got to say, it was painful to me. I don't do as much action today as I used to, but it's painful. [laughs] I'm like at the chiropractor for two weeks after doing some really lame stunt, like something that I used to do before breakfast, and now you do one and it's just murder. But the show is funny. Because it's a half hour, you don't waste a minute. It's really punchy. I think it really does do the fans proud and their expectations are going to be met. That's quite bold talk but we're really proud of what we've done. Jill Marie Jones: Absolutely. Lucy Lawless: And nobody's in more pain than Bruce, by the way. He's really put through it. Jill Marie Jones: He really is! Also, I felt like a 13-year-old boy, honestly. Because I'm shooting guns— I'm from Texas and you'd think I have like 10 guns in my purse, but I don't. I'd never held a gun before, I'd never shot a real gun before. Lucy Lawless: Oh my god! You were amazing with a gun! Jill Marie Jones: I felt like a 13-year-old boy! I was living. Lucy Lawless: The power of it, yeah. Jill Marie Jones: I was getting the power of it. The bruises that I would get from banging up to something. I was like, "Yeah, baby! I worked hard today!" It was awesome. Lucy Lawless: I was sick of being bruised. [laughs] Lucy, you mentioned earlier in this conversation the possible misfortune of being married to a certain producer. One would think this would get you off easy in terms of what you're asked to do on set. Lucy Lawless: I know. [sighs] But the past several shows you've done you've proven otherwise. Does that sort of continue into Ash vs Evil Dead as well? Lucy Lawless: Rob [Tapert] will write the character and whatever's best for the show. Sometimes it goes against me; what's best for the show, sometimes you do things that are extremely distasteful to you, but you know that it's right. And what I respect about Rob so much is that telling the stories comes first. He's not going to make things softer or better for me. We're of the same mind in that way, and I would not like him better if he made my life cushier. Were there any scripts that you looked at at the time and just shook your head? Lucy Lawless: Oh, all the time! [laughs] Lucy Lawless: Not on this, not on this! Because it's comedy. Jill Marie Jones: Well Ruby was brunette at first, and she was like, "Hell no" to that. "That's where I put my foot down!" [laughs] Lucy Lawless: "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wha?" We didn't know what the character was in the beginning. Thing is— Jill Marie Jones: She's kind of a mystery. [laughs] Lucy Lawless: [laughs] The "mystery" thing. That's because we didn't know what the hell the character was. I came late to it, they do a slow burn because you've got to establish the world of Ash and his family before you bring in the shark—you know, I'm Jaws, I'm a shadow, I'm a [audio unclear], I'm a bloody music cue—before you see her teeth come out. So bit of a slow burn on Ruby, but it's necessary because you have to establish something to lose before you can fear for Ash and the loss of his family. Could you say what you brought to your characters that maybe wasn't in the script? Jill Marie Jones: Well, for me, one of the things I was attracted to in Amanda: my mother was a federal investigator for like 40 years. She just retired last February. So there's a lot of my mom I see in Amanda. Just the strength and the fearlessness. I think in a lot of ways I was pulling from that to bring her forward. Lucy Lawless: And she's effortlessly cool on screen. Jill Marie Jones: Oh, effortlessly cool. Lucy Lawless: And in real life.
Interview: Lucy Lawless photo
The cop and the enigma with an agenda
As Lucy Lawless and Jill Marie Jones approach the table, Lawless smiles and says, "Hello, darlings," in a half-disarming and half-joking way. Jones looks at the assembled journalists then back at Lawless. "I feel like we're s...

Interview: Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 27 // Hubert Vigilla
Can you guys tell us about your characters since you're newcomers to the Evil Dead franchise. Ray Santiago: I play Pablo Simon Bolivar, who is this idealistic guy who came from Honduras and ended up meeting Ash at the Value Stop. He is the heart of the unit and the eyes of the audience. Pablo is Ash's main homie, and he was warned about evil lurking in the world by his family, and he didn't believe it. He comes face to face with it and believes that Ash is the man to save the world from evil. He's Ash's biggest cheerleader and sees beyond all of his flaws and believes in him. Through idolizing Ash, he realizes that he doesn't want to be like Ash, but he wants to be his own man and he wants to be his own hero. And I'll turn it over to Dana, because her character comes along for the ride because she sort of gets dragged into this whole situation by me. Dana DeLorenzo: That is true. Kelly is best friends with Pablo and, like Ray said, gets dragged into this fight against evil. But she is a real badass in the making. She's tough, she tells you like it is, she's not afraid to speak her mind. And she's really smart. She's quick on her feet. She can turn anything into a weapon if she needs to. Even though she's a little hesitant—or a lot hesitant—to join the fight at first, she eventually gets her own reasons to fight the deadites and becomes the common sense of the group, which is great for Ash. I think Kelly and Ash are a lot more similar than either would care to admit, and for that reason they push each other's buttons but they have each other's backs, which is really cool. I think it's very much a big brother, younger sister relationship, and something Kelly and Pablo are big sister and little brother. So these are her boys; this is her new family that she has found, and ultimately Kelly find her purpose in fighting evil. A reason to get out of bed every day. Ray Santiago: I don't think I've ever looked at my sister the way Pablo looks at Kelly. [laughs] Dana DeLorenzo: [laughs] No, I'm saying from Kelly's point of view. I know. Ray Santiago: But I'm just saying Pablo looks at Kelly with a different set of eyes. I don't think I've ever looked at my sister that way. But, I just want to say, the show is ultimately about a group of people who are trying to escape who they're really meant to be, and they are running from the demons that they have to fight and the demons that they have inside. And once they come into contact with them and overcome them they become this super-strong monster-fighting squad. So somehow these three dysfunctional people come together and they become a unit that is responsible for saving the world from evil. How did you prepare yourselves for physically demanding roles? And also being covered in blood and gore the entire time? Dana DeLorenzo: Oh, we would just throw everything on each other when we were prepping. It was just like, "Oh, I've got some maple syrup. Here!" Ray Santiago: I— I— Dana DeLorenzo: He went and ran in the woods in his underwear. [laughs] Ray Santiago: Yeah. I worked out a lot. Dana DeLorenzo: He did! Can I just commend his commitment to the gym? He looks very— Ray Santiago: I would wake up... Dana DeLorenzo: Kelly has noticed! Kelly is like, "Maybe Pablo's—" Ray Santiago: I had to keep it up! It's like, "Dammit! She's not looking at me the way I want her look at me!" Dana DeLorenzo: Meanwhile, I'm eating every dessert everyday. Ray Santiago: They have a lot of meat pies and a lot of biscuits in New Zealand. Dana DeLorenzo: It was amazing. And their desserts. Oh god! Everything there was so good. Well, and also, I was actually terrified a lot of the time filming Ash vs Evil Dead. I didn't think I was going to because it's make believe, but seeing the actors coming and playing the deadites—seeing them normal, like we are today, and seeing them in hair and makeup four hours or five hours with this incredible special effects team—[laughs] and then they'd just be walking around the lunch room. I couldn't eat! I couldn't look at them! It was that terrifying a place. And they didn't even have the contacts in. So I would get an extra dessert and go to my trailer and have my comfort food. It was honestly very terrifying. And weird things happened. I still think that the set was possessed. Things would just fall over at the strangest times. The noises when we were filming in the stage. The roof would be banging like there were a million, I don't know— Ray Santiago: Deer? Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah! Deer up there. Ray Santiago: They were birds. Dana DeLorenzo: There's birds! Yeah. Are the birds doing Chicago right now on Broadway? [laughs] Dana DeLorenzo: But no. It's just the wind, it's just the birds. I'm telling you, weird stuff happened. We summoned evil for sure during this. Ray Santiago: The fact we were able to leave Los Angeles and create our own bubble in New Zealand. Dana DeLorenzo: Incredible. Ray Santiago: With Bruce and Lucy and Jill Marie Jones—who cooked for me on many occasions, and just made lovely chicken soup. Dana DeLorenzo: Jill Marie Jones. Ahh. [sighs] Ray Santiago: It was possible to create this family unit outside of our normal habitat. It really helped. I just want to give props to the New Zealand crew. Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah, Kiwis! Ray Santiago: The Kiwiss were amazing, and Auckland took really good care of us. We're excited to hopefully be going back. Dana DeLorenzo: Yes, hopefully. Ray Santiago: Like you guys are not going to be disappointed in what we've done. It's kind of groundbreaking because Sam created this genre of cult classic horror-comedy, and we're bringing it to television in a single-camera, half-hour format. And I don't think there's anything like that right now on television. You've got all these other horror shows, but ours isn't taking itself too seriously. You can pop some popcorn and it's quick, you're gonna love it. Dana DeLorenzo: It's like walking into a comedy club, but inside the scariest haunted house you've ever been in. It's jam-packed in thirty minutes. There's action, but then there's also some good drama. Honestly, it's entertaining. I'm really excited. What was your exposure to the Evil Dead films before going into the show? Dana DeLorenzo: I just watched them five minutes ago. [laughs] Dana DeLorenzo: He just showed me really quick. Ray Santiago: Yeah, I was showing her [on my phone]. Dana DeLorenzo: We just did a montage. Ray Santiago: I had watched the second one, which is my favorite. And after I found out we were doing this, obviously I watched all of them. And I would watch them— A couple times I would come home and I would watch them before I went to bed. OH! And speaking of being scared and possessed, I had a bat that we were training with. Dana DeLorenzo: [laughs] Ray Santiago: I was training with a baseball bat for something on the set, and I brought the bat back to my place. [Sam Raimi] signed the bat, and I was so excited. In my apartment in new Zealand I started hearing this noise every night and I couldn't figure out what it was. And I actually got really scared that my place was haunted. So I'd sleep with this bat next to my bed. But it was just— Dana DeLorenzo: It was me hiding in the closet. Ray Santiago: It was just the pipes from the restaurant underneath [my place]. [laughs] [laughs] Dana DeLorenzo: I'd go over and we'd run lines and Ray would be like, "Do you hear that?" We'd get really quiet and I wouldn't hear it. I'd start talking and he go, "No! There it is again!" [laughs] Dana DeLorenzo: So we were— Ray Santiago: We were on edge, basically. Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah, we were on edge. Ray Santiago: Because we were a little traumatized from all the situations we— We were put in a blender of scary and gross situations. Dana DeLorenzo: And crazy. I mean, I couldn't even watch the first Evil Dead by myself in the daytime. I had to have people come over. I thought, I'm an adult. Am I really going to be scared? Still holds up, terrifies me. I still have nightmares about it. I'm getting clammy hands talking about it. [laughs] Following up on that question, if you guys have seen the films, you know most of the characters don't really last for too long. Dana DeLorenzo: Right. So do you guys sort of read ahead in the scripts just to see if your names keep coming up? Dana DeLorenzo: You know, they only gave us the scripts like two days before we would shoot it. So, ummm. [turning to Ray] What were you going to say? Ray Santiago: I was going to say that I had a system going. I'm from the South Bronx. Dana DeLorenzo: This one! Ray Santiago: She called me "New York" all the time. Dana DeLorenzo: He is so New York. We could not get the scripts until we were two days away from shooting, and maybe doing a table reading. Meanwhile, Ray was like, "This is what's going to happen." I was like, "How do you know this?!" Ray Santiago: "I can't tell you! I have my ways! I know what's happening! We're good!" Look, I think that you're right. It is something to be scared about because the people that Ash care about ultimately end up dying. Dana DeLorenzo: It keeps it exciting. Ray Santiago: I'm just going to say this: Even if you die on Evil Dead, you can come back and taunt Ash for the rest of his life. So I honestly think that's what this show's about: staying alive. So you have to see what happens. Dana DeLorenzo: And the fact that anything can happen. I think that's what gives this show an edge. You never know who can go, and you never know who's real, or who's a deadite in disguise.
Ash v Evil Dead Interview photo
Meet Ash's two sidekicks
Bruce Campbell has flown solo in each of the Evil Dead movies, which ran our hero Ash through the wringer as well as gallons of blood. Ash vs Evil Dead changes that up. Older and wearing a girdle, Ash can't kill the deadites ...

FlixList: The Ten Best Horror Films on Netflix Instant (2015 Edition)

Oct 26 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Let the Right One In, American Mary, Children of the Corn, The Lazarus Effect, The Sacrament, the V/H/S series, Teeth, Starry Eyes, Stage Fright, Vampire in Brooklyn, Odd Thomas, We Are What We Are [embed]218490:41925:0[/embed] Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Although Tucker and Dale is more of a parody of the horror genre (as teens find themselves in precarious violent situations while the two try to save them), that doesn't mean it isn't full of the same suspense or gore you'd expect. If gruesome deaths are your horror bag, then this film's for you. If not, there are quite a lot of laughs mined from those gross moments.  [embed]218490:42673:0[/embed] The Babadook Not all horror monsters are the same. While some are in your face and some are barely noticed at all, Babadook somehow creates a truly terrifying monster without showing up at all. This magnetic thriller all takes place within a fever dream of a mother who's pushed too far and just wants to punch her annoying child in the mouth. It's not perfect, but it's too different to ignore.  [embed]218490:41928:0[/embed] All Cheerleaders Die With a name like All Cheerleaders Die, you'd be forgiven for writting off this neat little flick. It's not as overtly sexual as the name implies, and is fact a nice twist on that pulpy horror "sexy beast" gimmick. It's not until the finale kicks in that you really see what kind of horror film it is, but it's worth it.  [embed]218490:41930:0[/embed] Scream Out of all the slasher films on Netflix Instant, I'd have to pick Scream as my favorite. Maybe it's because this one stars Neve Campbell too, but it's the first film I remember utilizing the meta narrative that's exploited so much today. It was a hipster horror film before hipster horror was even a thing. A film you can ironically and un-ironically enjoy. Also let me just mention Neve Campbell one more time. So good. [embed]218490:42674:0[/embed] Monster Squad It's certainly not the best, or the funniest, or even a horror film, but I just like it so much I had to put it here. Plus Monster Squad reminds me of Space Jam because it sounds like the result of smashing the Monstars and the Tune Squad together.  [embed]218490:42675:0[/embed] A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night The most intriguing entry on this list by far, A Girl Walks is incredibly chilling. It's superbly put together with its black and white tone creating a stark eerineess that never once lets up. Despite its horror premise, it's a film that can be seen throughout the year with no problems. It's a work of art, and it's a brilliant debut from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. Blending new age with a sort of vintage style, yet still rotted in her Iranian culture, A Girl Walks is just something that needs to be experienced.  [embed]218490:41933:0[/embed] Battle Royale In Battle Royale, a group of Japanese schoolmates are randomly chosen each year to kill each other in order to appease the adults. Although I'm no longer at the age where this premise has a direct effect on me, it's still chilling. I guess if you're not into foreign films, just watch The Hunger Games for a lighter take on this idea. As long as the horrific themes sink in, you're golden.  [embed]218490:42676:0[/embed] Creep I love me some Mark Duplass, but I had no idea what to think when Creep was first revealed during SXSW. It's a found footage thriller where one man is hired to film Duplass' character Josef as he plans as series of events for his unborn son. But as the film progresses, you realize Josef's a bit more unhinged than he lets on (putting an ad on Craigslist should've been the tipoff, really). This film's only really horror thanks to the icky feeling you get while you watch, but isn't that just the best? [embed]218490:41931:0[/embed] Rosemary's Baby This film continues to give me nightmares to this day. Whether it's a fear of children, of women, of punishment for sexual desires, a paranoia of those around me, or the Devil itself, Baby taps into all of them and cripples me each time I see it. In fact, I'm getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it. And it's not just the horror aspects, Baby is just a damn good film. With an outstanding performance from Mia Farrow, excellent set design, and pulsing score, it's a film I'd recommend to everyone above all else.  [embed]218490:42677:0[/embed] The Guest From the awesome duo who brought you You're Next (which is on Netflix too!) comes The Guest, a film so good I couldn't stop talking about it for weeks after its release. A thriller with a killer soundtrack, great acting, a fantastic finale, and with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. Few horror films, or films in general, will bring a bigger smile to your face this season. 
Horror Films on Netflix photo
Do you like scary movies?
The tradition of watching scary movies during the Halloween season is now easier to keep up with than ever thanks to Netflix Instant. But with all the content available on the service, how do you know which ones are truly wor...

Interview: Makeup/Special Effects Designer Roger Murray (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 26 // Hubert Vigilla
Having worked on the Evil Dead remake, how does Ash vs Evil Dead compare in terms of the blood and gore and extent of the makeup effect? Oh man. It's a lot more intense, basically. I mean, there's a huge amount of special effects, blood, gore, dismemberment, beheadings. I think it's just a lot more fun of a ride. It's just a lot faster paced and crazy fun, really. When did the series come up after working on the film? Pretty quickly after? No, it wasn't. It sort of matured over quite a bit of time before we actually talked about that maybe we should do a series. It took a bit to build it, and I got pulled in about two months before they started pre-production. So there was quite a bit of a time gap between them. Moving to cable—to Starz—were there any limitations at all on what you could do as far as effect goes? We haven't had any limitations yet! They haven't set any limitations. I think most of it gets set up through the writing, and the writers have been fantastic about building certain effects as we go along. And also as the series evolves, they get an idea of what we're capable of and the amount of time [required]. That's been really great. So no, they haven't set any limitations yet, and I don't think they will! [laughs] Can you tell us about one of your favorite effects that you got to work on? Hmmm... It's a tricky one without giving too much away. I think just generally we've done a lot of character makeups, right? And those have all been really fun. Pretty much every deadite is its own character makeup. So we've got a tone for the whole show, but we've personalized every one. It's been quite good. And I think just generally making rigs. Going back to the old school rigs with dummy rigs, dismemberments, beheadings. We've made a few puppets! I can't say what's my favorite. It's like we had a lot of blood on our hands, let's just say that. How did the cast react to being constantly covered in blood? Well, they sort of got used to it. Though Bruce gets a lot of the blood, you know. The whole cast were amazing, really amazing, and really stepped up to it. Because, you know, it's a fast turnaround TV show, so it's on. I mean, we do a lot of effects in our turnaround episodically, so there was no downtime from blood. And they just got used to it. It was really good, yeah. Is there enough of a talent pool in New Zealand now that you can actually pull off this kind of show? There's been a lot of new productions down there. That's a really good question. Look, there's a huge gravitas with Evil Dead. I was working with two really good makeup artists—Jane O'Kane and Denise Coomb—down there who both share a credit in prosthetic design, because we basically allocated some of the tonal stuff to the on-set makeup artists, the designers. And that was really great. We've had a really good pool of effects makeup artists through the whole Lord of the Rings, and New Zealand ended up getting people from America, we drew people from Australia. Just the tone and the want for people to work on the show was enough to draw people to New Zealand. We're really lucky. We had some great technicians come down, great makeup artists, great technicians who worked a lot in the States. They love being in New Zealand. It's quite different down there, you know? So no, we were really lucky. It is one of those things where we're a small country so when a lot of different projects get going, it does get quite tight, but I think Evil Dead will always draw people in. The coolness factor of it? Yeah, I think it's the coolness factor, but I think it's also that we run our workshop so that makeup artists—the special effects makeup artists are usually technicians too—they'll get the ability to potentially sculpt some of the designs and do the technical side and do the makeups; so it's quite a holistic sort of way we run it. So for them they feel a little bit more connected to the show, and they really enjoy it. It's been great fun. And, you know, they come out of the workshop, get some blood on their hands, come back, wash their hands, go back out. It's been really good. When you read a gory set piece in the script, are you allowed to ratchet it up and make suggestions, or do you usually stick to what's there? Oh man! It's always getting ratcheted up, you know what I mean? The thing is trying to contain that so it actually works and is scary and not too over the top, you know what I mean? So it depends on the pace of the gag that we're doing. Some of the gags we'll do we'll go completely berzerk, mostly when Bruce is involved. [laughs] So in [Sam Raimi's] episode, it was like, "Let's really ratchet it up!" because he really loves seeing Bruce covered in blood. "But let's just ratchet it right up— Let's go craaaazy!" So we'd barge on set with kegs of blood and blood pumps, and we're pumping. That's really fun, but there are times when we want to build the pace of the show; we want it to be scary, a lot more potentially like the remake where there's a bit more of a sense of impending doom. We'll sort of tone it down a little bit. So there's a nice variation, yeah, yeah. It's worked really well, it's really fun. And... [laughs] You guys are gonna love it! It's crazy. It's a crazy half hour. It's one of those shows that I, personally, would love to go and see. Like when I get home from work, I just want to sit down and watch it. It's really fun. Could you talk a little bit about what's the aesthetic, the look, the tone of the— The tone, yeah. The tone. That's another great question. Of course, that's one of the things because the tone changes in the movies from the first Evil Dead to the second one to Army of Darkness. There's sort of an overriding feeling to it, but the actual makeup and the look of the makeup changes quite a bit. So what we've done is we've kind of gone back to look mostly at Evil Dead 2 and get the tone from there, and sort of lifted a little bit for the TV show. We always wanted to make Ash vs Evil Dead our own sort of thing. We didn't want to copy [previous movies] outright because I think [the movies] had their time and place then. So we're drawing on that, we're drawing on the palette and different hues of what they've used initially. And I love [Evil Dead 2]. I love that movie, it's great. So to be able to go over and deconstruct it, talk with Sam about where they sort of started and what the background was; just sort of change it and work with him and get a feeling of what the deadites were going to look like. It's just pushed a little bit, pushed a little bit toward the modern. How do you do Evil Dead 2-esque makeup effects when [back then] they were doing things with peanut butter? Now you've got fantastic technology and amazing materials. How do you dial it back? Well, that's the thing. We didn't want to dial it right back to then. We actually wanted to enhance it for the show. We've actually taken all the appliances we make—they're silicone appliances... There's more of a naturalism. That's probably the best way I can describe it. We didn't want it to look too theatrical, we wanted you to actually feel like the characters had gone through a transformation. There's definitely a harkening back to Evil Dead movies, but I think it's its own thing too. It's just a natural progression of makeup effects, generally. We're taking our own riff on it. How does it feel working in the industry now with the resurgence of practical effects? You're seeing a lot of films and TV shows going back to practical and going away from digital. I'm extremely happy about it. [laughs] My company, Main Reactor, is extremely happy about it. It really is a bit of a dream come true because, look, there was a point when we all thought that lots more things would be digital. We still work with a great visual effects company in New Zealand, Pacific Renaissance Pictures effects (PRPVFX). Our approach is we're not going to discard our visual effects, we're going to work together, and we're going to make effects that you don't know where the practical-effects and visual-effects sides begin and end. Marrying both of those together is hugely effective. Most of it's practical, but there's some tweaks with visual effects, things you can do easily now like wire removal and all those sort of things, enhancement of blood. It helps storytellers tell their story. We're making Evil Dead as a TV series in 2015. It's insane. I couldn't be happier. The producers are up for as many practical effects as possible, and it's just going to be a nice combination of tweaks so you're not sure how we did it. It's the veneer, you know? The polish on the— Yeah! Yeah, yeah yeah. And you'll see it. Most of the effects are practical. [laughs] Yeah, but I don't want to dismiss the fact that working with visual effects artist and working in that medium is a really fantastic way to go too. It's a great marriage. You probably run into this a lot in recent years where you'll be sitting at a production meeting and the visual effects guys say "We'll take that" or "We'll do that," and you're sort of left with the scraps. So now this seems like this is the opposite. Well, I think there's a mentality initially that's starting to change where visual effects supervisors and stuff would try to pick up lots of effects in pre-production meetings. But what we've found was that— [Let's take the show] Spartacus. I think Spartacus is a great example because when you start birthing a show, everyone starts trying to figure out what jigsaw piece they are and what's going to be best for the show. I definitely know that there's a big gravitas on Spartacus with the visual effects to actually do stuff as practically as possible because the turnaround on television is really fast. You know, the post-production side is really fast because it's matching where you are in the shooting schedule. They don't seem to be putting their hands up as much now saying "I'll take that." They're being a lot more clever about it. I think for [visual effects artists], it's great. If they can get something in-camera and we've got a plan from the start, we can come up with a great product. We're doing Evil Dead, so there's a lo-fi aspect to some things. If you're got dummies being chopped up with chainsaws, and you've got dismembered arms, or we've got some really lovely silicone bodies, you know, all that stuff. We don't have to hide that with visual effects, and the visual effects people don't have to clean it up. It just is what it is, and you're carried by the story and carried by the characters.
Interview: Roger Murray photo
On the look/feel of this new Evil Dead
Roger Murray's been working in props, makeup effects, and practical special effects for more than two decades. His credits include The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 30 Days of Night, the 2013 Evil Dead remake, and Crouch...

Ash vs Evil Dead preview photo
Ash puts his hand to good use (NSFW)
Listen up, you primitive screwheads! Ash vs Evil Dead premieres this week, and you can now watch the first four minutes of the first episode online. This first episode was directed by Sam Raimi, and it catches the audien...


Watch some spooky VHS tapes online this Halloween... no, seriously

Do kids even remember "Be kind, rewind?"
Oct 23
// John-Charles Holmes
Shout Factory, purveyor of fine video good that everyone but us super-nerds forgot about, has rolled out an unusually awesome and hilarious treat for horror fans this Halloween. The video company has just rolled out a site ca...

Annabelle 2 confirmed to be in the works

Oct 19
// Matthew Razak
Annabelle was a serviceable horror film that actually did a few interesting things with horror movie themes. It also made a crap ton of money, which usually means a sequel right off the bat, but that didn't happen. It's ...

The Walking Dead Season 6 Recap: "JSS"

Oct 19 // Nick Valdez
So last week we found out what was keeping Alexandria safe this entire time. Zombies have been gradually pouring into a nearby quarry, and after Rick stumbles on it, he recruits some of the gang and Alexandria folk to help corral them out of there. It's a pretty stupid idea in general since it would've made much more sense to try and thin out the mass as much as they could've before letting them escape, but that's beyond the point. It just means that most of Rick's crew (save for Carol, Carl, Morgan, Rosita, Eugene, and whatshername) are out of the town for the moment. There was also this side plot where Nick Papageorgio was trying to conspire against Rick for taking over their town, but Rick shut that down pretty quickly before Papageorgio got his face bitten off. It's pretty stupid all around. All potential plots brought up in that episode are quickly pushed aside in favor of more violence. Speaking of violence, this episode was full of it. But what makes it stand out more so than the general stuff we see on the show is how gruesome it really is when you stop to soak it in (which happens a few time in this episode).  As mentioned before, this episode is basically the season premiere's second half (and merging the two stories would've fixed the premiere's bloating problem). Carol gets to be a badass in more ways than one as she first shuts down some lady for complaining about her cooking skills (as Rick has given her the task of blending in with the townsfolk to figure them out), but these small moments don't last long before the season's big bads show up as the Wolves (folks with 'W' carved into their foreheads) run in and start slaughtering folks talking of freeing them from their way of living. It's a pretty violent struggle between the two groups, but Carol and Morgan are really the only ones holding their own. Carol goes incognito (complete with "W" etched in blood) and slays a bunch of the invaders, and Morgan is still struggling with the fact that he doesn't want to kill any living being despite the fact that these new enemies clearly pose a violent threat. It's not like past enemies like The Governor's folks (as those were just scared people), so these new bads are striving to kill. And not only kill, but mutilate, as we get glimpses of. As their name suggests, these guys are almost savages as their attacks don't stop when someone is dead.  Beyond all of the action of the episode, there's not really much else. So unfortunately, this episode feels incomplete as well. It's great to look at as the well directed action is both fun and gruesome, but no one of consequence is ever in danger. At one point, Rick's new love interest lady is in trouble and savages her way to safety, but I don't care enough about her to care. Still, there are themes present that are more interesting than the usual creeping mortality the show drapes itself in. See the Wolves aren't an interesting baddie because of their overt violence, but because Alexandira represents the first time the group's ever been close to forming an actual society. They've had safe havens before, but Alexandria's the closest to complete. But with nearly every townsperson dead, it's pretty much a reminder of how there's no such thing as civilization anymore. And the loss of that hope is much more gripping than "people are bad, Coral." Anyway, none of this will matter if the show can't get us to care about anyone other than the big three characters. This episode had a B-plot introducing Alexandria's new "doctor" Diane, but the dialogue during all of those scenes was so bad it held the rest of the episode down. The faux love triangle between Coral, Enid, and that abusive guy's kid isn't entertaining yet, so right now it's just annoying that Coral's probably crushing on someone who's gonna die soon anyway. Now the big thing I have a problem with is Morgan. What is going on with Morgan's character right now? I know the show's trying to turn him into the focal point of the show's morality, but this stupid wounded warrior schtick is grating. He magically shows up every time someone needs to be judged (like with Rick in the finale, when Rick killed Papageorgio before he turned into a zombie, and when Carol was killing Wolves) and it's made him more annoying than not. The show's trying its hardest to make him seem cooler with his dialogue ("Leave. Please."), but it's being underminded by his actions.  There are nuggets of good plot here, and seeing as how Alexandria is technically in tact before the giant mass of zombies make its way to the town, I'm sure that plot'll be thrown out the window in favor of more wandering zombie action. If The Walking Dead gets better at balancing the zombie action with its character work attempts, we could be in for a good season.  Final Thoughts:  Enid gets a little more background in the episode's cold open, and it's fantastic. Quick cuts, the titular "JSS" (which ends up meaning "Just Survive Somehow"), and quite brutal choices make for an interesting look into her unknown character. Too bad she's probably one of the Wolves. We all heard the little "We" she threw in when talking to Carl.  Speaking of Carl, he needs a damn haircut already.  Seriously, if you combined the two episodes it would've been a great episode. Tension built would've mattered, we could've eliminated all of the boring planning talks, and we would've just seen the plans in action rather than have to resort to black and white flashbacks (which didn't even work as a storytelling device anyway as none of the flashbacks actually revealed things of use). But really, shut up Morgan.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Walking Dead Recap photo
Seriously Morgan, what the hell man?
I missed the start of Walking Dead's sixth season due to familial complications, but after finally getting to watch it sometime later, I didn't regret the missing coverage. You see despite being an hour and a half premiere (a...

Review: Crimson Peak

Oct 16 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219445:42381:0[/embed] Crimson PeakDirector: Guillermo del ToroRelease Date: October 16, 2015Rating: R  Here is a brief synopsis of the movie I thought I was going to see: Blonde girl falls in love with Tom Hiddleston (and, I mean, who wouldn't?), who lives in a creepy haunted house with creepy ghosts. All kinds of strange things happen, and ultimately we find out that Tom Hiddleston and his creepy sister are actually dead/supposed to be dead but is being kept alive by this house and are confined by these ghosts or something. Terror ensues and probably bloodshed also. Based on the way the trailer is edited, all of this is crystal clear. Spoiler alert. Nope.  I got a few things right: blonde girl, Tom Hiddleston, creepy ghosts, bloodshed. So... the imagery. I was able to see those four things and think, "Yes. I recognize that." But the actual narrative? Not even close. And I tell you all of this because there's a fairly decent chance you are expecting the same thing. And even if you weren't expecting that, you were likely expecting a scary ghost story about scary ghosts. And once again you will be wrong. Because it's not a ghost story. It's a story with ghosts in it.  It's kinda funny, really, because something like ten minutes in, Crimson Peak tells you exactly what it's going to be. You see, Edith is a would-be novelist. She says that she wants to be the next Mary Shelley. She shows her manuscript to someone, who asks about the ghosts. She says it's not a ghost story; it's a story with ghosts; the ghosts are a metaphor. He tells her it needs a love story. And so that's what we really get: a love story with ghosts that are a metaphor. If that sounds good to you, then you may well enjoy Crimson Peak. If it doesn't, you should skip it. I found myself somewhere in between. The narrative is pretty flat and the characters kinda bland, but I will admit that there was an upside to the false marketing: I legitimately didn't know what was coming next. The reality is both more and less interesting than what I was expecting, but the surprise in and of itself is... something. It's certainly not amazing, but it's something. It's worth noting here that the audience laughed a number of times during my screening. At least a half dozen moments elicited not just one or two chuckles but actual laughter. I've discussed this with a couple of others who've seen it, and though some people think those laughs were intentional I don't. If I had been watching it on my own, I would have laughed... once? It was all very serious, even things that were fairly easy to laugh at. There's no humor in the whole thing, and while that can be funny in and of itself, there's no hint here that it's anything but serious. It's just drama all the damn time. It's hard to know actual intent without asking, but I'll say this: If it was supposed to be funny, it half-succeeded at best. You need to surrender to the melodrama. Or, you can just pay attention to the visuals. Because while I can rip apart the film's concept and execution, its production design is unimpeachable. This is a gorgeous movie through and through (with the exception of a single outdoor scene early on in a sunny park that has some seriously weird coloring choices; also, some of the ghosts are a bit too CG for my liking). As soon as they reach Crimson Peak itself, you're in for nothing but amazing visual after amazing visual. And it's really this that kept the film going for me. I was lukewarm at best on pretty much everything that the film contains, but holy cow do I love the way it looks. That adds at least 10 points to my final score and brings it from a "meh" to "ya know, consider it." Just be sure to temper your expectations.
Crimson Peak Review photo
Great Expectations
The best piece of advice I ever got about writing film criticism was this: "Don't write about what the film isn't." Going for long tangents about What Could Have Been doesn't do any of us any good. Let's talk about what the f...

Fear the Walking Dead Season Finale Recap: "The Good Man"

Oct 05 // Nick Valdez
With the encroaching danger of the arena filled with thousands of zombies (which I'm glad we didn't know about until the last episode, it could've been stupidly teased through all six episodes and became more annoying than not) and the military abandoning El Serreno, the gang makes plans to break into the military compound in order to rescue Nick and (the now dead) Griselda. It's generic stuff to be sure, but it's interesting how we get to that point. First, Travis decides to spare The Faculty military guy since he says he knows where everyone is. Then Daniel decides to weaponize the arena full of zombies and lets them loose on the military compound. It's pretty goofy how a horde would walk up without anyone realizing, but it gives Daniel a bonafide badass moment ("You should save your ammunition.") as he strolls away. Then we finally get the action people have been clamoring for. A nicely laid out kitchen fight, several tense moments (one of which comes into play during the finale's final scene), and several nice character bits.  There are too many good bits to talk about, but here are a few of my favorites. These scenes managed to squeeze in genuine emotion in between all of the action, something that the parent series hasn't been able to do for some time: The doctor gives up and presumably kills herself with her cattle gun as she loses hope in the military, an infected soldier runs head first into a helicopter blade, Nick nearly gets a heroic death with his silent "Go" through the door before being saved at the last minute (and made me think there might be something else to his character after all), Daniel and Ofelia see the piles of ash and bodies that Griselda is now a part of (that's one of the most striking images I've seen in either of the shows. It's far more upsetting than seeing characters do it themselves), after The Faculty soldier shoots Ofeila Travis beats him to death, regretting his decision to let him go, Strand gets his cuff links back, and the military shows that the characters can't rely on anyone other than themselves.  But the best part of the finale? Oddly the one I hate the most due to increasingly stupid peaceful nature, Travis begins to change as the world changes. Becoming more like Daniel (and thus capitalizing on the duality set up in previous episodes), Travis begins making these violent choices for the benefit of his family. For one, he doesn't tell any of his former neighbors that the military has abandoned them, and two, he basically kills everybody without hesitation. Like Rick, Travis is slowly changing, but unlike Rick, it's much more interesting to watch Travis' hope be crushed. Leading to the episode biggest moment, Liza's unfortunate demise. As the group makes it to Strand's beach side residence, as he details his plans to get to his ship Abigail, you'd think all of the main characters would be in the clear. But unfortunately, after being attacked in that kitchen scene, Liza reveals she's been infected. After giving Madison and Travis all of the knowledge she gained from the military (that it's pretty much hopeless as everyone comes back after they die), she decides she doesn't want her son to see her in that state. Rodriguez absolutely kills it here, and this scene hits harder than you'd expect thanks to her acting.  It sucks since I was getting attached to her, but I'm guessing no one really knew what to do with her character anymore. Although her death provides a more hopeless situation (changing Travis and Chris, losing the only one with any kind of medical knowledge), it sort of reeks of that "kill the woman to make the man more interesting" thing. They're losing a great actress, but I'm confident the show knows what it's doing. The major death of this episode is an intimate moment, and it's reflective of how this show's been handled. It's also something I can't say of the parent series, that for the first time, I actually cared that someone was dying off in one of these shows. It's genuinely unexpected, it's quiet, and then it's over but its lingering effects will be felt as the series rolls on. It's potential that the parent series failed to capitalize on, and as long as Fear avoids those same trappings, it can be a much better show. It's already had a much better first season.  Final Thoughts:  "You can keep the watch." Strand is so f**king cool.  Speaking of Strand, his character is pushing this into comic book-y territory, but he's so interesting I won't be bothered to care. His strict self-preservation's going to clash with the main cast soon, and it'll be fun to see which side of the new world folks will stand on.  You can argue that no one in this show is likable or interesting, and it'd be hard to argue, but later episodes will hopefully utilize all of the nuance laid out early on.  Nick's "everyone's catching up to me" speech was pretty dumb. Reminds me too much of this PSA. Fear's miniseries Flight 462, which will introduce a character for season two, premieres during each episode of the Walking Dead but I'll probably wait until it's all over to talk about it. No point in discussing a minute long episode each week.  So that's it! Thanks for sticking with me, folks. I'll be back next week with the series proper. Stay tuned!  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
FTWD Recap photo
Can't wait for season two
Just like with its parent series, Fear the Walking Dead has been experiencing some growing pains within its very short, six episode first season. As the biggest draw, the zombies, took a backseat to a more intimate story of f...

Scream Queens Series Premiere Recap: "Pilot/Hell Week"

Sep 23 // Nick Valdez
I'm not sure if Fox's plan to premiere two episodes in a row was a good thing. When succumbed to that much of Murphy's work at once, the cracks always show. It's one of the rare cases where the pilot fared much better than the first episode of the series proper. For example, the show opens in a particularly interesting way as a girl (in 1995, no less) gives birth to a baby in a bathtub during a sorority (Kappa Kappa Tau) party. The other girls ignore her when TLC's "Waterfalls" comes on, thus leading to her death and a mysterious cover up that's sure to be one of the running threads throughout the series. It's a pretty impressive hook for any pilot and perfectly captures the tone the Glee trio of Murphy/Falchuk/Brennan is looking for. It's darkly humorous, creepy, informative of the show's universe, and there's a splash of pop culture reference. But other than one other scene which I'll get to in a bit, it never quite reaches that height again.  There's always been something that bothered me with Murphy's work. Because he's a marginalized individual, he's always been okay with exploiting other margins in the sake of comedy. The same problems that have plagued his shows appear here as well. There are racial stereotypes (though I'm sure Keke Palmer is just playing Keke Palmer despite arguments otherwise), thickly laid homoeroticism that borders on the homophobic, and a "Queen Bee" character in Emma Roberts the trio uses as a funnel for every terrible (ultimately non-humorous) thing they could think of. But what separates Queens from a show like, let's say, Scream, is that it doesn't dwell on these characters and takes them seriously. It's a show full of dumb caricatures making terrible choices, and we're going to want to watch them get murdered week to week. From the looks of how much humor it can mine from gleefully killing its characters, I'm sure they're be style in spades. Just by watching these first two episodes, I've figured the modus operandi of Scream Queens is to revel in its quirk so much it won't be bothered to actually develop any of its characters. There's some surprising level of depth to Emma Roberts' Chanel (which make the other Chanels look lacking in comparison), but if she's expected to lead the series instead of the final girl archetype Grace (Skyler Samuels), I don't know how much of her I can take. There are definite narrative nuggets to her character, so I hope I can chalk it up to growing pains. As for everyone else, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Jonas are definitely the standouts. Curtis is basically playing Coach Sue Sylvester with a dark twist, and Jonas' secretly gay-but-not-secretly gay Boone is full on cheese and it's the best. But you know who gets the biggest scene? Ariana Grande. Not because of her acting or her character, but because a well crafted and staged scene that perfectly encapsulates the show's potential.  Since Scream Queens is an homage to B-grade films, but still wants to poke fun at the current state of horror, we get this awesome scene where Chanel No. 2 is murdered by the series' killer, the Red Devil, through text messages. It nets the biggest laugh and is oddly proactive as Chanel tries her best to tweet out her death. She isn't just silently killed off into the night, but does her best to prevent it even when locked into a goofy sequence. The same can't be said for the series' next two deaths, but so far, each death sequence has been unique and pretty damn funny. Once you get past the show's awkward writing, the rest of the package is great. It's interesting enough that I've decided to talk about it for the next few weeks.  Final Thoughts:  Chad Radwell, the stereotypical rich jerk who's cool with his best friend being gay, is by far my favorite character in the show thus far. I'm sure his death scene is going to be fantastic.  Lea Michele's Hester takes a maniacal turn in episode two and I'm not sure I like it yet.  Abigail Breslin as Chanel No 5 hasn't really made a name for herself yet. I thought she was the good girl who was just stuck in her terrible sorority, but her turn in the second episode proved that wrong.  I'm also not sure what to think of Niecy Nash and Nasim Pedrad's characters. They're the wackiest characters in the show by far, but it's too early to tell if that's a good thing or not.  At least this isn't as bad as The New Normal was.  Remember that VH1 reality show Scream Queens, where 8 actresses went through challenges in order to land a role in one of the Saw movies? That was a good time. They should do that again.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Scream Queens Recap photo
Glee and AHS had an awkward baby
You folks don't know this, because we'd only recently begun covering television in earnest, but I was a huge fan of Glee. I bought the soundtracks, I bought the seasons on DVD (this was before Netflix took over and ruined EVE...

Review: Cooties

Sep 18 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219880:42604:0[/embed] CootiesDirectors: Jonathan Milott and Cary MurnionRated: RRelease Date: September 18, 2015 At the center of Cooties is Clint, a guy who moved to the bright lights of New York City after graduation to become a big shot writer. But after a few failed attempts has moved back home and is forced to take a substitute teaching gig at his old elementary school. There he meets his old school crush Lucy (Alison Pill), her meathead boyfriend Wade (Rainn Wilson), and a bevy of other weird faculty members like the evolution debunker Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad) and the socially inept bio teacher Doug (Leigh Whannell). When a contaminated shipment of chicken nuggets (as seen through such a grossly awesome intro, you won't eat chicken nuggets again) turns the kids of the school into flesh eating monsters, Clint and the other teachers have to escape the school to survive.  The biggest draw, or warning sign depending on your humor, is the writing duo of Saw's Leigh Whannell and Glee's Ian Brennan. The two have crafted a wonderfully twisted horror premise, but the dialogue is distinctly Brennan's. As someone who religiously followed Glee through its six seasons (including, but not limited to, buying the Glee karaoke games and soundtrack CDs and watching the short lived Glee Project reality show on Oxygen), I can safely attribute the brunt of the film's humor to him. That's probably going to shy folks away, however. Just like Glee, Cooties' idea of parody is to come of with jokes that are a few years too old. A post 9/11 kid who wants to join the army named Patriot? A closeted gay teacher making innuendos? The vice principal (Brennan himself) saying "Stop it, kids!" before getting ripped apart? Yeah, those jokes are as tired as they seem. As the film's humor gets sidetracked with these weird jokes, it never quite takes the premise as far as it could. But the cast's ability to complete gel with what they're saying is fantastic.  In Cooties, it's the cast that makes it work. They're completely game with the film's wacky tone, and their performances elevate the film to awesomely cartoonish levels. Since you can't get too overtly violent with children and still try and be a comedy, the action has to be more humorous than not to succeed. Since directors Milott and Murnion can't seem to handle action scenes (as most of the action involves the teachers moving from one room to the other and staying there for a few scenes), the cast should be commended for their ability to command attention. As the film itself strays and lingers on a few scenes, the cast is delivering the dialogue with the quickness it needs to make it work and helps make the hokey bits a little more digestible. As Elijah Wood has shown in the past with films like The Faculty, he's perfectly capable of leading a horror comedy. He's still charming as ever even when he starts, literally, pooping himself. The scene stealer, however, is Leigh Whannell. His stunted delivery finally works for his awkward bio teacher as he delivers the film's hilarious science.  While the directors may not handle action scenes too well (leading to a ending scene that feels convoluted and tacked on while completely undermining the film's bittersweet climax), the duo have got a good grasp on imagery. Cooties looks fantastic. Insidious reds, taut greens and shading, and you definitely get the most out of zombie kids. The kids are covered in gross puss and blood (instead of becoming too gruesome, it goes for the comedic route) and aren't too horrendously attacked, there's a girl playing jump rope with an intestine, a kid riding a tricycle covered in blood, zombie kids playing blood hopscotch, and so on. It's pretty much the embodiment of the "kids are terrifying" mantra. The film never quite reaches the level of visual you'd hope with a premise like this, but what is here is well crafted. There's definitely an attention to detail in the visuals even if there's a lack of it elsewhere.  Cooties has its share of faults, but none of them are completely damaging to the overall package. There'll be stuff within the film that bothers you here and there, but when watching the cast and the kids enjoy themselves it's hard not to follow in their footsteps. For every hokey joke, there's one that works. For every clunky action scene, there's a hilarious conversation between two characters.  By the time it makes the egregious mistake of going on past its natural ending, you won't even care too much. You'll have a big smile on your face. 
Cooties Review photo
Might not need that cootie shot
Zombies are everywhere. Name an object and add zombie or "of the dead" to it, and I guarantee there's a film out there with that title. Bong of the Dead? Exists. Toilet of the Dead? Surprisingly a thing. Redneck or stripper z...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "The Dog"

Sep 14 // Nick Valdez
At the end of last episode, Travis, his ex-wife and son ended up in the care of the Salazar family. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you see it) we don't get to explore this time long as this episode begins with all of them having to leave. It's a well storyboarded scene as the two families make their way through the riots and the shots are appropriately hectic. There's even a zombie attack amidst the chaos, and it's so frantic you can actually feel the two families trying to make sense of it all. While they were running, the chaos leads to Griselda Salazar getting hurt and the Salazar's decide to stay with Travis while talking of "debts" and the like. This also is one of the reasons I'm starting to hate Cliff Curtis' Travis as a character. The fact he doesn't suggest taking in the Salazars after they helped him is pretty petty. Also, I'm not really sure what to think of the Salazar family yet. It's pretty neat that a Latino family is at the forefront of one of these shows, but I don't like how typical they've become.  Ruben Blades' Daniel is headstrong and stuck in this standard Latino ideology that one doesn't do something without owing something in return. I'm not exactly confident that the series can explore it well, but it's at least some sort of characterization. I just hope he branches out from the typical image he's given right now. It seems so since he judges Travis as weak. And as much as Madison has annoyed me in previous episodes, her arc has been the most compelling thus far (and I thought the drug addict Nick would provide more entertainment). As The Walking Dead deals with people surviving in the apocalypse, Fear wants to watch how these people will slowly change. And if Fear is smart, it'll only focus on that stuff. As much as I love watching failing societies, I love watching people crumble under it. As Madison realizes that, illness or not, these dead people are still dangerous, she just might the decision to be active.  That's the overall direction this season: activity vs. inactivity. Characters bicker as to whether or not they need to find a better shelter, Travis refuses to actually put down a zombie (which might lead to a well deserved death) and accept the world is ending, Madison is just trying to keep her family together, Daniel wants to stay and take care of his family while the others march to their deaths, Nick has to decide whether or not to pursue drugs, Alycia finds out more and more about the new world, parts of the city are rioting while the suburban area seems to live life as usual, and all of this is just fantastic...until the ending.  You see, Fear the Walking Dead throws all of this away and introduces the military as they come in and literally save the day. I don't know where any of this is going, but it put a literal stop to all of the forward momentum the episode had going for it. I've had enough of these crooked military stories.  Final Thoughts:  When you find out why this episode is titled "The Dog," you'll be as sad as I was.  Travis somehow thinks the zombies are sick even after watching one get run over multiple times a few episodes ago. I just don't get it. Also he's staunchly opposed to guns. Either the show's setting up for a big downfall or his character's going to go through one of those "dark turns."  The same person has directed the three episodes so far, that's probably why there's a welcome feeling of consistency.  You're probably wondering why the episode took a few seconds to focus on a plane flying over, but someone on that plane will be joining season 2. AMC's planning some mini-episode detailing all of that. 
FTWD Recap photo
A dog eat dog world
I stand by what I said last time and believe the Labor Day week off was definitely a death knell for Fear the Walking Dead. Though it needs to finish its six episode season before The Walking Dead premieres next month, it did...

Review: Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh)

Sep 10 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219860:42583:0[/embed] Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, ich seh)Directors: Veronika Franz and Severin FialaRated: RRelease Date: September 11, 2015Country: Austria Your opinion of Goodnight Mommy may be contingent on your stomach for plot twists. I don't like them about 99% of the time since they usually feel like hollow gimmicks rather than essential parts of the storytelling machinery. Twists feel cheap, and while I won't spoil the twist of Goodnight Mommy, it certainly feels cheap when you know what it is. As a character uttered the line that reveals the twist, I thought, "Oh come on, Goodnight Mommy--I thought you were above this." In retrospect, the twist is there early in the film if I were to look for it, but I wasn't looking for it because I thought Goodnight Mommy would be a much more original and interesting film rather than one that relies on a bad cliche. The excellent craft displayed by co-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala is what makes Goodnight Mommy's reliance on a twist so disappointing and its unraveling sense of purpose in the last third (maybe, really, the last fifth) baffling. Consider the movie's visual style for the first two-thirds of its run time. Many of the shots divide the frame into vertical halves, thirds, and quarters to emphasize elements in the foreground and background, all the while playing with light, shadow, and negative space. Large photos of the mother (Susanne Wuest) adorn the walls, but her face is blurry in all of them. On the one hand, this is the kind of artsy, pretentious portraiture you'd expect in an upscale home, and on the other, we have two boys (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) who question the identity of their mother. It's the sort of detail organic to the world of the film and a visual representation of its central concern (i.e., Who are you really?). And then there are details that seem like the cinematic attempt to recreate aspects of a dream. The boys keep Madagascar hissing cockroaches as pets. These are the massive sorts of roaches that are common in movies that feature cockroaches, and they look a lot more exotic than your foul, run-of-the-mill New York City waterbugs. The roaches hiss like they're shushing the boys, like there are secrets in the house that are being kept, or as if the children remind themselves they need to be quiet in order to spy on this person who may or may not be their mother. The wallpaper in the boys' room is covered in a googie-style wallpaper covered in ants. It reminded me of the popular design elements of the 1950s and the sort of playful decor you'd find in a day care or nursery, but also the crawly feeling one gets when something isn't quite right. That sense of contradiction--googie wallpaper that's both cute and off-putting, the comforts and terrors of a home--is carried through in the performances. Lukas and Elias Schwarz seem both playfully insular together and yet they also have a touch of something sinister, which may simply be a symptom of seeing twins together in a movie (thanks a lot, Stanley Kubrick). Wuest plays the mother with emotional highs and lows. She's tender, and she's also terrifying. She nurtures, she scolds, and hugs, and she slaps. The performances may be mannered, but like the visuals and the production design, the actors propel the film forward and help evoke the uncertainties of dark rooms and nightmares. So much ambiguity and promise to play with, and yet it comes back to the twist. The twist reduces all of the possibilities of this eerie, dreamlike world into a single possibility, and one that isn't that interesting. This may explain why that trailer for Goodnight Mommy so good and the film doesn't reach that level. I might have loved the movie if it wasn't for that pesky story.
Review: Goodnight Mommy photo
Are you my mommy?
The trailer for Goodnight Mommy is one of the best horror trailers in a while--evocative, menacing, unreal. The mother of twin boys returns home, her face bandaged after a major surgical procedure. The boys think there's some...

Girl Up and Die photo
Girl Up and Die

First trailer for girl powered horror series Girl Up and Die

Such a good title
Sep 10
// Nick Valdez
Despite best efforts, the horror genre is dominated by testosterone. Reboot after reboot, sequel, after sequel, we get the same kinds of stories told by the same kinds of dudes. Thankfully, the good folks at Unfriendly Produc...
Krampus Trailer photo
Krampus Trailer

First trailer for Christmas horror film Krampus

Sep 09
// Nick Valdez
I'm not sure what the reason is, but we're suddenly getting a whole lot of Krampus films. There's Kevin Smith's Krampus project, a few direct to VOD films, that one episode of American Dad two seasons ago, and now we've got K...

FlixList: Wes Craven's Five Best Films

Sep 03 // Nick Valdez
My Soul to Take "Wake up and smell the Starbucks." I had a hard time narrowing Craven's films to five (I really could've just put everything here), and almost went with Red Eye or The Hills Have Eyes, but My Soul to Take is just so weird. It's Craven's take on small town myth horror, and it's got all sorts of weird sensibilities that make it stand out from the rest. It's got a guy who's probably a demon, teen archetypes who get zero development, a killer who talks to himself, and a supernatural thread tying it all together. Are the souls of the seven kids actually connected or is the main kid just crazy? Unlike his other films, Soul has a very deliberate tone and pace that sort of treads lightly and lets the tension build. It's quite a film.  Scream 4 "Forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don't fuck with the original." Scream may have changed my life (and turned my crush on Neve Campbell into full blown love), but Scream 4 absolutely nails it. Starting with New Nightmare all those years ago, Scream 4 is a film that could've only existed after Craven spent a career honing his craft and paying attention to the route horror was going in. With Hollywood's fixation on reboots and sequels, Craven churned out one last sequel and capitalized on Scream's meta-contextual narrative with a reboot and sequel that works. Horror reboots hardly ever work, and sequels never truly live up to the standard of the original, but here's one that surpasses even the original idea. Setting a new status quo as it simultaneously enforces the old one all the while somehow bringing the series to an ultimate, satisfying conclusion? It's insane how well it works. Great cast, great writing, great editing, and even super heroics. Just greatness.  The People Under the Stairs "May they burn in hell." "Forever and ever in hell." This film is special to me for numerous reasons. First, it's the first horror film I saw with a non-white protagonist. Secondly, it's the first horror film I saw willingly acknowledging the wage disparity among classes. And finally, it's basically a twisted kid adventure film. Think of a slightly more dark and horrific Goonies, and you'll realize why a dude is wearing a gimp suit while trying to kill this kid as he makes friends with some monsters and discovers a hidden treasure. People Under the Stairs is tense, gruesome (Ving Rhames' body is used as a literal puppet distraction at one point), there are explosions, intrigue, and it's even a straight action movie leading toward raining money at film's end. It's non-traditional in the best way, and I'm so glad it exists.  The Last House on the Left "Are you sure we're not going to put you folks to any trouble?" "Oh nonsense, our home is yours." You can't talk about Craven's best work until you talk about his first. Bursting onto the scene with a twisted home invasion film, Last House is aggressive, disturbing, and it's full of such provocative imagery it sticks with you forever. Even way back then Craven was capable of masterful work with a film that had you rooting for the bad guys' end. It's his most demented piece of art and it'll forever be a staple which all other home invasion films compare to. It's like the whole BC/AD thing. There's Before Last House on the Left (BLHOTL) and after (ALHOTL).  A Nightmare on Elm Street "Whatever you do...don't fall asleep." It'd be impossible to write out a list like this and not include the big dog. The film that made something as pleasant as sleep seem like the worst thing in the world. Combing all sorts of primal fears like helplessness, death, and children, Elm Street pretty much started my addiction to caffeine. Through the years the fear has been alleviated thanks to The Simpsons, but Freddy's always coming. Nightmare changed the game completely. Rap songs, Mortal Kombat, tons of films, changing from horror to comedy and back to horror again without fail, and even had a crossover with another horror juggernaut and it wasn't the worst thing ever. Thanks to Wes, there'll always be a nightmare on our streets.  These may be his five best, but his other works were all just as good. We're gonna miss you. What are your favorite Wes Craven works? 
Wes Craven's Best photo
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Drama photo

Why that It remake isn't happening

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// Matthew Razak
Cary Fukunaga may be one of the most creative directors working now. Sin Nombre is truly stunning and his work on True Detective made the first season fantastic. However, we still don't know how he'd handle a bigger...

New Knock Knock trailer kind of ruins it

Sad Keanu
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When the first trailer for the Eli Roth directed Knock Knock landed I was pretty excited. We had just learned we wouldn't be seeing Green Inferno any time soon (it finally lands this year) and this looked like a pre...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "So Close, Yet So Far"

Aug 31 // Nick Valdez
After the fallout from last week in which Madison, Travis, and Nick witness a zombified Calvin fail to stay down, the three part ways and try and figure out what to do next. The general consensus being that they plan to escape to the desert. The funny thing is, they only seem to care about their own safety. Keeping the secret from the neighbors (who were throwing a little girl's birthday party, just to rub salt in the wound) and keeping quiet in general as folks are caught in protests over "police brutality" in an effort to shoe horn in current events. I'd see people reacting that way if we were caught in the situation, but it's still a little weird that the dead rising up would be a secret even after numerous videos and stuff leaked online as this episode leads us to believe. Anyway, this episode shifts the focus to Madison, Nick's mother, who goes out in search of some kind of fix for Nick now that he's going through withdrawal.  I figured something like this would've happened, but kudos to Fear for getting it out of the way early while there's only lingering tension rather than use it as a way to force more immediacy into some terrible scene later. We also get a better grip on Travis' family, his ex-wife Liza (the fantastic Elizabeth Rodriguez) and his terrible son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) as Travis tries to convince them to safety without exactly telling them what's going on. It's pretty stupid since Chris eventually gets rapped up in a protest of one of the "shootings" and Travis and Liza end up in a terrible part of town during a riot instead of somewhere way better. But that sets them up for the rest of the season as they take refuge in a barber shop owned by the Salazar family. Thanks to Fear's LA setting (though it shouldn't be the only reason), there's already way more Latin representation, and that's a pretty big deal for me. Although apparently neither Walking Dead likes African American characters (despite the showrunner's insistence that it's merely a coincidence of casting) thanks to three Black characters dying in two episodes, it's great to see focus on a non-White family for once.  Speaking of, Madison and Alycia (the daughter who's still kept out of the loop for some stupid reason) both deal with African American death in their own way. Alycia's boyfriend Matt was attacked and is slowly becoming a zombie (off screen for both of those things, thankfully) and Madison come across a zombified version of her former boss as she combs her school for her son's drugs. Although it's a weird idea, the show tells us it's smart by having the audience speak through some kid whose name I forgot. Honestly, he was the only kid clued into the whole thing and it's a shame he won't be around for the other episodes. Anyhoo, Nick and Alycia end up sharing some good character moments when Nick seizures. It's a little too on the nose given the moment, but I'll take it.  Final Thoughts:  This episode is one of transitions and sets the pace for the rest of the season. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, but waiting two more weeks is f**king ridiculous. Just should've waited another week to premiere it. Get your head out of your butt, AMC.  Seriously, it's a little suspicious given all of these black character deaths are just "casting coincidences." Someone's got to keep a better eye on that.  During Walking Dead season six, there'll be a 30 minute short, taking place on an airplane headed for LA, that'll introduce a character for season 2. Who knows what the character'll be like, but I don't really care. They should really focus on developing clashing familial ideologies.  I'm putting a lot of faith in the show representing these Latin character properly. They're Catholic, since one was already praying, so hey it might be good.  One last thing, love the constant alarms and sirens in the background. Always reminds the audience that stuff is going down. 
FTWD Recap photo
Yeah, pretty much
After Fear the Walking Dead's first episode set its slow burning tone for the rest of the season, and thus set it further apart of The Walking Dead's current craziness, it left a lot of folks wanting. Opinions were divided as...

RIP Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Aug 30 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP Wes Craven photo
Horror maestro dies at age 76
Wes Craven, the director of horror classics A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Scream (1996), passed away this afternoon at age 76. Craven's family announced that the filmmaker died in his home in Los Angeles after battling...


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Ash vs Evil Dead photo
Ash vs Evil Dead

New Ash vs Evil Dead trailer makes the show look like a blast

"That's the spirit!"
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We're about two months away from Ash vs. Evil Dead, and Starz just released a new trailer for the show. While some of the footage is recycled from the first Ash vs. Evil Dead trailer, the new trailer has some smarmy new gags ...

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