Monday, March 31, 2008

April 1, 2008 - New, worthy horror out on DVD today

Sure, I could lead with "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", but I'm not. This site isn't about big budget films (although I did kinda like "Sweeney Todd" and I will cover it second), this site is about indie horror... so, I'll lead with indie horror. Let's start with Anchor Bay's "The Cook".

"The Cook" is being released by Anchor Bay and it comes from director Gregg Simon. Simon worked for Brett Ratner while he was in college, then went on to make music videos and do some work in commercials, all while he also out making short films. His award-winning short film "The Final Resolution" screened at 15 international film festivals and earned him a slot as a finalist in the Project Greenlight Directors Competition. "The Cook" is his first feature length film and it's filled with boobs and guts. The story revolves around a sorority house over a long weekend and the handful of girls that stay behind for three days of partying, sex games and strangely delicious meals prepared by their odd new chef. The sisters start disappearing and the remaining ones 'find themselves trapped in a nightmare of graphic slaughter, involuntary cannibalism and heaping helpings of gourmet nudity'. Sold!

So, a lot of low-budget horror gore hounds are not going to like "Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", but it is a horror... and it does have gore. Admittedly, it does take a bit to get over the fact that they sing throughout the whole movie and I'm not really a big musical fan, but... look, it's the best movie that came out of the "Best Movie" category at the Oscars as far as I'm concerned and the story is great. Did you know that they actually had to cut some of the movie to get an R rating? The American cut focuses more on Johnny Depp than the gore, so maybe you should check out the international cut for that extra 'je ne sais quoi'? Either way, culture yourself and watch it... as far as horror-musicals are concerned, we can only hope that "Repo! The Genetic Opera" is half as good.

"Fear House" comes from indie writer/director Michael Morris, whose only other feature is "Last Seen at Angkor", although he's made a couple of shorts, also. I don't know too much about him, but it looks like he got his start as a P.A., then worked a bit as a D.P. before breaking into writing and directing... "Fear House" is about a group of friends and family who pursue an estranged writer to an isolated house, only to find that once they've entered, their own fears will kill them if they leave.

James Van Der Beek in a movie about a giant squid, must be a Sci-Fi Original... "Eye of the Beast" is, in fact, a Sci-Fi Original and it comes from director Gary Yates and writer Mark Mullin. Gary Yates is actually an award winning Canadian director and "Eye of the Beast" marks his inaugural move into horror, even though he quickly followed it up with another Sci-Fi Original, "Maneater". Mark Mullin wrote another Sci-Fi Original, "Something Beneath", as well as "Extreme Ops". I'll tell you what, once you get in at with the Sci-Fi channel, you're in. "Eye of the Beast" is about a government scientist who is sent to investigate a reported story of a giant squid that appears to be devouring everything within sight and scent... and he uncovers a one-ton, tentacled terror with its eye on a new feast... man.

The low-budget, indie horror "Divine Intervention" comes from first time director Rufus Chaffee. From what I can tell, from reading their press kit (which you can find here), it looks like a few of them got together to write the script, then they did some auditions, built up a bit of a reel, then managed to secure a bit of financing. Enough, anyhow, to shoot it on High Def, get a decent light kit and get some audio design and a score put to it. Shot entirely in Ware, MA, it takes place in Ware and is about four friends who fight an insane man's crusade to eliminate sinners from the small Western town.

"Purvos" comes from writer/director Jerry Williams and it was originally part of the Tomb of Terrors package, but now it's getting its own release. It stars Conrad Brooks, who's been in so many crappy horror films, I can't count them, and it's about the tormented dreams of insomnia patients, which have a terrifying connection - they all dream of a murderous clown called Purvos, who's very real and closer than anyone would ever had imagined.

"Das Komabrutale Duell" is actually a few years old, it came out in 1999. I usually don't cover movies that are older, as I like to concentrate on the newer, indie stuff that comes out, but... this deserves mention. Directed by Heiko Fipper's (it's the only thing he's ever done) "Das Komabrutale Duell" could be the bloodiest and goriest film ever made... and it's being called a 'gem of an amateur splatter gorefest', 'sit down, open some beers and have fun watching the characters kill each other in the most bizarre ways'. Okay, I might just do that...

"Hell's Threshold" is from writer/director Felix Diaz and it was supposedly filmed over a 24 hour period... so, I'm thinking it's as indie, micro-cinema as it gets. Diaz's only other film is "Superhero Excelsior", a rock n roll, superhero comedy, which had great reviews. I haven't seen "Hell's Threshold" yet, but I'm interested to see a micro-budget film that was shot over a 24 hour period... I think I'll keep my expectations low.

New horror on DVD today:

Linkapalooza - March 31, 2008

'Killer Tomatoes' ripe for a redo - link at Wow, what a witty title... 'ripe', I get it - I get jokes. Why am I writing a blog for nothing and you're getting paid to write that? Anyways, "The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" is going to be remade and... I'm not pissed off about it. In fact, this could very well be the first remake that I'm not pissed off about. Reason being, Platinum Dunes isn't involved AND the guys that are involved, Kent Nichols and Douglas Savrine, are the guys behind "Ask a Ninja". I think that's pretty cool, not because I'm an "Ask a Ninja" fan... I'm not. In fact, I've never seen a single episode... however, I'm well aware of who they are - two comedians who started up a web-based project out of their apartment and ended up making piles of money. Now, they're teaming up with M. Dal Walton III and remaking "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes", not because they want to make a bunch of money... but just because they want to. Success stories, I like 'em.

Film Publicity Help: Tips, Tricks & Traps - straight talk about promoting film in the world of Web 2.0 - link to blog. This is a blog written by Jane Green, who happens to be a film publicist. She also has guest authors, Michael Klastorin (a Unit Publicist) and Karin Zauderer (a Marketing Manager involved in marketing and promoting film festivals in the D.C. area). They tend to write about fluffy movies, but almost all of what they write about are things that every indie filmmaker should know. Do yourself a favor and check it out every once in a while, apply what they have to say and they could end up making you some money.

The New Jason Voorhees Revealed!!! - link to article at So, the new Jason is going to be 6'5" Derek Mears who is probably best known as Chameleon from 2007's "The Hills Have Eyes II". Take a look at his imdb profile here, you'll probably recognize him. To be honest, he kinda looks like Jason when he was a kid... in a mutant kind of way. I can see the connection, but... don't think this is going to get me excited about it. Platinum Dunes... Boo.

"Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer" Myspace page - link to page at Myspace. I haven't actually seen "Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer" yet, but I hear it's fantastic - check out the trailer and poster on that page. It was the first Slamdance movie to get picked up and it's going to be released by Anchor Bay. I'm not sure when, but I'll be looking forward to it... in any case, check out the Myspace page... And a little something about the Myspace film pages - they're not that hard to make up. I wanted to make one up for Dead Harvey soon, so I looked into it and it's not that hard and doesn't take long - every indie filmmaker should have a page for themselves, plus a page for their film. It's easy, free marketing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Film Fest Friday - I Can Smell Your Brains Cinema

Once again, Film Fest Friday comes a little late this week - sorry, Friday's are always a tough day to get a post up. This week I'm going to cover something that the guys over at are doing, which is a great opportunity for any indie-horror filmmaker and it's just a pretty damn cool idea, period. They're based down in Scottsdale, AZ and they're teaming up a local theater, Chandler Cinemas, to give a theatrical release to indie horror films that usually don't get them. Each month, they're going to screen a different indie film and make it into an event by having Q&A sessions with directors and actors, plus have autographed items for sale and giveaways. It's really a win/win for audiences, filmmakers and everyone involved. The events will be called I Can Smell Your Brains Cinema and here's a couple paragraphs from their press release...

I Can Smell Your Brains Cinema is the latest addition to roster of the newly managed Chandler Cinemas. Horror film fanatics Danny Marianino and Brandon Kinchen, the two proprietors of Arizona’s monster movie home base I Can Smell Your Brains .Com, have teamed up with Chandler Cinemas to bring a more personal look to independent films that do not get a widescreen release.

“We’re busy, no doubt”, Danny adds. With I Can Smell Your Brains Cinema they are just going to get busier. “So far we had a very successful weekend with Bikini Bloodbath for our first showing the weekend of Feb 22nd. For the weekend of March 21st we have booked The Quick and the Undead – a Zombie Apocalyptic Western that is awesome! I have also confirmed Death of a Ghost Hunter, Death Factory –Bloodletting (including a Q&A with directors), Black Devil Doll, New York Blood (including a Q&A with actors), Street Trash (including a Q&A with actor), and Puppet Show. Our original plan was to show once a month but I am getting bombarded by directors and film studios so we may do it twice a month, we shall see. Everyone has been so open to the idea hopefully this carries on to other states as well.”

I think it's an awesome idea and, hopefully, stuff like this catches on in other markets. In fact, maybe Dead Harvey should do something like this up here...

Here's a link to the I Can Smell Your Brains website and for bookings and more information on I Can Smell Your Brains Cinema, you can email:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From toll booth worker to Hollywood screenwriter... almost overnight

Well, if you're looking for an inspirational story to get you off your ass and start writing that script, this could be it...

Michael Martin totalled his car and ended up in physical therapy. He couldn't work his regular job as a toll booth worker with the Transit Authority in Staten Island and, well, he had no car. What to do? How about write a screenplay and enter it in a contest? Martin ended up writing a "Crash" meets "Training Day" ensemble police thriller called "Brooklyn's Finest", entered it in a screenplay competition and... he came in second. However, it managed to end up on the desk of a Warner Bros. exec, generate a bunch of interest and, now it's going into production with Antoine Fuqua set to direct and Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethen Hawke signed on to star. Check out the full Hollywood Report here - link.

To play devil's advocate, keep in mind that he studied film (or some film, it didn't really expand) and he did a brief stint as a staff writer on Showtime's "Sleeper Cell", so he's not exactly a complete novice. However, how many indie filmmakers have zero experience? Not many. So, really, your skills are probably on par with his. Not only that, all he did was enter a screenwriting competition, it's not like he used any connections, he was just trying to win enough money to buy himself a car. All said and done, everything he did, you could do. Personally, I've never actually put much thought into screenwriting competitions, but we do have a section on the site here that has links to all the competitions that accept horror scripts. So, you know what? Give it some thought, I think I might. Apparently it can work out.

There is one question, though... What's the story of how his script went from 'second place in a film competition' to 'the doorstep of Warner Bros. based Thunder Road exec Mary Viola'? It seems like something happened there that they're not really expanding on. I guess the long and short is, it really doesn't matter... because if he never entered at all, it would have gone nowhere, guaranteed. So, basically, if you want to win, you gotta play. Now get off your ass and write that script.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In the future... movies will be free.

For quite some time now, I've been preaching that indie filmmakers need to consider uploading their film to P2P sites and letting people have it for free, mainly because it's a great marketing tool to get an audience for you film. My argument, basically, is that you're not really losing any money from giving it away. Out of all the people that will download your film and watch it for free, the bulk of them wouldn't have paid shit for it, anyhow. However, if they do watch it, what they can do for your film is talk about it. So, now people who might actually open their wallets for it could hear about it, when they may not have otherwise. In any case, that's a way that I think giving your film away can work. Now, here's another way...

I'm a fairly regular reader of Wired and, I guess, so are the guys over at /film. They took the theory that Chris Anderson wrote about in his article "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business" and applied it to the theater going experience. Here's a link to the post, "Is The Future of Movies... Free?!" by Peter Sciretta on /film and here's a link to the original article by Chris Anderson on You should definitely read both articles, but to summarize the theory as it applies to the theater going experience - if you give away theater tickets for free, you're going to drastically increase your audience. If you drastically increase your audience, you can sell them other stuff, mainly concessions where popcorn and pop have way better margins than tickets sales. Also, with a larger audience, you can charge more for things like advertising and premiums, such as special seating, etc. Long and short, let people in for free and you can increase your revenue, everyone's happy. To be honest, though... fundamentally, it would never happen. Mainly because the studios would be making less money and they supply the product to the theaters - no product, no audience.... but, regardless, there's a lot you can take away from this.

Here's the point - think outside the box. Simply getting people to pay to see your film is not necessarily the only way you can make money... For example, what if you wanted to do a screening of your indie horror at a local theater? Maybe you're trying to make money, maybe you'd like a theatrical release. Either way, traditionally... it's probably not going to happen. They're just going to think, "Indie horror = empty seats". However, what if you found three or four local sponsors and gave them free advertising at the theater? (posters, banners, digital pre-roll, whatever) Further, what if you allowed them to give away samples to the audience and you put their logo's on all the promotional material? That's some good exposure and, remember, advertising's a write-off, so companies do have a budget for it. Now, you go to the theater and you can actually pay them to screen your film, if you have to. Further, you tell them that since you're paying, you'd like to split the revenues on the concessions and you're letting the audience in for free. As long as the theater is making some money (more than they would on a regular night), they'll do it. Now, you've given your film away for free, but you've made money from the sponsors and from the concessions AND you should have a full theater. I'm not saying it's a perfect example because there's going to be other variables, but it's a thought... and it could work.

In the end, the lesson to be taken away is... do what it takes, think outside the box and giving away your product isn't necessarily a bad thing.

A little P.S. here... Chris Anderson is an f'ing genius. As an indie filmmaker, his book, "The Long Tail" is an absolute must read - it completely changed the way I thought about niche, indie film and made me realize there's a big, big future for it. Here's a link to The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More on Amazon. Further, his article "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business" is being flushed out into a book and should be out in 2009.... I'm assuming that it, too, will probably be a must read.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008 - New Horror available on DVD today

When I first saw that there was 30 new horror movies out today, I got a bit excited... what wonders were in store for me this week? Well, it turns out that it was just a lot of useless rereleases and double-packs. Not only that, some of the double-packs don't even make sense. "Ice Cream Man / The Amityville Horror 4: The Evil Escapes"? Isn't that kind of like a "Regarding Henry / What about Bob?" double-pack? I don't get it... granted, "Ice Cream Man" stars Clint Howard in the title role and... I liked it, but only because I went through a stage where I couldn't get enough Clint Howard. Now that I think about it, I'd buy a Clint Howard 10-pack. It could have "Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 & 5", "Carnosaur", "Infested", "Ice Cream Man" and... Okay, enough. Here's this week's new, notable horror DVD releases.

The big movie of the week is definitely "The Mist", which I thought was one of the best films of 2007. It was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who also did two other Stephen King adaptations, "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption". Looking through his resume, "The Mist" is by far the darkest thing that Darabont has done... It stars Thomas Jane, who you might remember as The Punisher from the 2004 version, but he's been in lots of stuff, including David Arquette's "The Tripper" from 2006. I don't know what else to tell you, but that you should see it. It was awesome... and I can't believe that it only made $25Million at the box office, bringing it in at number 95 on the box office gross list for 2007, right on top of "The Reaping" and right below "Nancy Drew". My bet is that "The Mist" gets a big run on DVD, it's really worth checking out...

I've already covered "Them (a.k.a. Ils)", so I'll just cut and paste some of what I already wrote. Usually, I'd just gloss over this and not bother, but... It turns out that it's actually a pretty good film and I wrote up that I wouldn't watch it because it's in French. So, I take it back. Check it out... It's about a couple who have recently moved to this rural part of Romania and are awakened in the middle of the night by a series of disturbing noises. They investigate, only to find their car being stolen. Attempts to report the crime to the local police are unsuccessful and soon the couple realizes that the mysterious figures have returned... and are trying to enter their house. It's been well received internationally, has been called "77 minutes of gloriously maintained tension" and now "the film that terrified Europe has come to America".

"April Fool's Day" is a remake of the 1986 classic of the same name. This one is written and directed by Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, otherwise known as 'The Butcher Brothers'. I'm not sure why they have that alter-ego, but I'm pretty sure that it's self proclaimed. In any case, their first feature film was "The Hamiltons", which won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Malibu International Film Festival, was selected for the '8 Films to Die For' festival and was, subsequently, picked up and released by Lionsgate in 2006. After a career in music video's, a big break and sucess with "The Hamilton's", they go on to remake "April Fool's Day" as a straight-to-DVD release.

"Fingerprints" actually won Harry Basil the best feature award at the New York City Horror Film Festival. It was filmed over a couple months in 2006 and the story is based around that urban legend out of San Antonio where a school bus of children were all killed in a terrible train accident and if you stop your car in neutral on the tracks where the accident happened, the ghosts of the children will push it to a safe area. You know the one? Anyhow, the movie centers around a teenage girl who just finished rehab and moves in with her sister, when the two of them investigate mysterious happenings occuring around town that could be connected to the legend. Harry Basil has actually had a crazy career and I talked a bit about it when I was discussing one of his other films, "Soul's Midnight". Originally a comedian, he's been doing various horror films lately, which is crazy. Any guy who can direct both "Funky Monkey", which is about a super-ninja, secret agent football star chimp AND "Soul's Midnight", which is about a vampire cult seeking to resurrect their leader, is alright in my books. Actually, he's better than alright... that's f'ing genius and it's the definition of a diverse career.

I can't believe "Shrooms" is just coming out on DVD now, it feels like forever ago that I watched it. Either way, it's a great horror film... and, of course, the subject matter, as well as the way the film's put together, should entertain the viewers. It's about a group of American backpackers, who are constantly high, and their Irish guide who are stalked by a serial killer while out in the woods looking for, well... shrooms. It was written by Pearse Elliot and directed by Paddy Breathnach and it won Paddy best director honors, as well as best film honors, at the Irish Film and Television Awards.

Don't get too excited about the title, "The Living and the Dead" is not a zombie film... However, it is a shocking and grotesque film about family dysfunction, so it's got that going for it, which is nice. It's about a desperated husband, who leaves his bedridden wife alone with their son James, who happens to be a schizophrenic man-child. In a horrific fit of dementia, James abandons his medication, locks the doors, and plays nurse. As his ability to distinguish morbid fantasy from reality decays, he plunges into a mental labyrinth so violent and deranged, none of them may survive it. It's written and directed by Simon Rumley, who won a best director award for it at the Austin Fantastic Fest, as well as a new visions award at Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival. It was done on a fairly low-budget by Simon Rumley, who got the idea from watching his own mother dying of cancer and the maddening cycles of hope, helplessness, anxiety and guilt that families experience while dealing with organized health care.

I almost skipped over "The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine", until I realized that it's actually an unrated version of 2003's "Garden of Love" by Olaf Ittenbach under a new title. There's only two things you need to know about this film. (1) It's basically a goofy, German, splatter-fest about a girl who's haunted by her father, a musician who died, along with a bunch of his friends, a few years earlier. (2) Olaf Ittenbach is a buddy of Uwe Boll's, worked on a bunch of his films and mainly concentrates on special effects. So, with that, you should know exactly what you're getting when you get this film...

Last, but not least, "The Undertow" was written and directed by Jeremy Wallace, who happens to be a V.P. in charge of production, distribution and marketing at Wicked Pixel Cinema, which distributed "Deadwood Park", "Savage Harvest 2: October Blood", among a few other indie horror's. It's a low-budget slasher film about six friends who stumble upon an old town with a deadly secret... which is a seven foot-tall homicidal maniac who's sole purpose in life is to rid the town of strangers in the most violent manner his mangled mind can dream up. F yeah....

New on DVD today:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"The Caretaker", starring Jennifer Tilly - how it got made

I'm not really sure how I missed "The Caretaker" when it came out on February 14th. Maybe it's because that was a Thursday and I usually only check the new releases on Tuesdays. Either way, I missed it and it first came to my attention when I actually had a chance to discuss the film with the writer and producer, Jackie Olson. So, in a way, I'm kind of glad I missed it, as I got to hear all about how and why it was made before I watched it.

A bit about the movie... it's written and produced, like I said, by Jackie Olson and was directed by Bryce Olson. Jackie's actually produced four other films, but this is the first that she actually written. This is Bryce Olson's second time at directing, the first being "Be My Baby", which looks like it was a romantic comedy, so I'm not going to tell you any more about that, as I only made it as far as looking at the cover art. "The Caretaker" has both Jen Tilly and Judd Nelson in it... Judd Nelson's role is really just a cameo, but Jen Tilly has a bit meatier role. A bit of a side note here, I didn't realize that Jen Tilly is 50. I gotta say, she looks pretty damn good for 50 and her boobs are really holding up well, so to speak. On top of that, she really doesn't get the respect that she deserves, if you think about it. Sure, we all remember her as Tiffany from "Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky", but lest we forget that she was an academy award nominated actress for "Bullets Over Broadway". In any case, it's a pretty big deal for them to land her for this role and she adds some nice eye candy. Not that it's really needed, as all the lead roles in "The Caretaker" are played by a bunch of good looking teens. The plot of the film revolves around a group of teenage boys who go out to give their girlfriends a scare on prom night by taking them to an abandoned house in a grapefruit orchard, where they reveal the story behind the real life urban legend of "The Caretaker". Although it's a little light on the gore (and there's a reason for that), it does have a great nudity sequence that involves 'boob-o-lanterns', there's a lot of tension and suspense and the over-all quality and feel of the film is fantastic. By no means, at any time, do you feel like you're watching a low-budget film.

How it came to be: They actually managed to secure financing as they were heading into pre-production, however that came with a few strings. The financier who agreed to fund the project had strict stipulations - no demons, monsters or pre-marital sex. Further, they had found a location that they really wanted to use, 56 acres of grapefruits with an empty house in the middle, but they didn't really have a script that worked for it. So, they realized that they had to start from scratch and write the film for the location, based on the parameters given.

The script: Although the surface of the plot, the teenagers being stalked by a killer, is quite formulaic, the back story on "The Caretaker" isn't. The idea came from "possessive love", a lover that will kill themselves and their partner, so that no one else can be with them. That's the basic backstory of the killer in the film, but there is a bit more to it and you'll have to check out the film if you want to know more. Mixing up the plot is Jen Tilly's character, 'Miss Perry', who's a teacher that wants to sleep with one of the kid's in her class and follows them up to the orchard in an attempt to do so. In the end, Jackie was given guidelines on how to put the script together and she came through. It's a good little story that's tied together well and, to be honest, that's something you don't really see every day.

Distribution: They've decided to self-distribute the film and they've released it in both NTSC and PAL formats for worldwide viewing and they even have subtitles in French, Spanish and German. When they were ready to get the film out there, the first place they turned was, as it's an easy, obvious place to start and it's open to everyone and a lot of people check it out. They also made their own website at for promotional reasons, as well as a portal to sell copies. "The Caretaker" is also available on Netflix and, to be honest, I'm not sure how hard it is to get your film available there, but it can't be too difficult. After that initial push, they're now talking to a few sub-distributors.

In the end, if you're looking for straight up gore, it's probably not the film for you. However, if you're looking for a well made horror movie with a tounge-in-cheek sense of humor, "The Caretaker" is worth a watch... and the fact that Jen Tilly's in it doesn't hurt, either.

The Caretaker"

Using the internet to do more than just promote your indie film

As an indie filmmaker, if you haven't figured out that the internet is, by far, the best marketing tool that you've got, it's time to take a step back and rethink your battle plan. If you've got a finished film, the web offers a lot of opportunities to build awareness, which should, eventually, increase your sales and/or get you distribution. Every film, and filmmaker for that matter, should utilize the web by having a website, getting reviewed by horror sites and by using social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. However, that's all for another post. This post is about using the web as a tool during pre-production.

I didn't really think about it until I read an article on about how Gus Van Sant cast his latest film, a skateboard drama called "Paranoid Park", by using MySpace - link. When I read that, it really is a no-brainer that social networking sites can make great casting tools, but it got me thinking - it could be a great way to get a crew, as well. There's lots of people, in every market, that would love to work, for free, on a film and social networking sites, by design, will get you in touch with them. Further to that... if you get creative, you could even use the internet to get financing, as well.

I'm actually planning on writing a more in-depth post on using the web to get financing somewhere down the road, as I've talked with a few people who have raised money for thier films by doing things like: auctioning off producer credits on ebay, selling shares in the film or, straight up just getting donations via paypal. So, as soon as you've decided to film something, put it in stone - make the website and use the tools - "We're in pre-production currently and looking for people to get involved in all aspects, get in touch with us here." You never know who's going to get in touch with you.

The long and short is, the web is really the only marketing tool that's an even playing field between Hollywood and Indie-wood... in fact, I'd venture to say that some indie guys may even have a leg up in the online world because we probably understand it better... and knowing that, you should really exploit it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Film Fest Friday - Toronto International Film Fest

Some of you will be shocked that I'm going to discuss the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF, as the Torontonians like to call it. It's one of the very prestigious and publicly attended festivals of the year and screens between 300-400 films on 23 different screens over 10 days. They are currently accepting submissions - you can find the form at this link - and the festival is scheduled for this September 4 - 13. Here's a link to their homepage.

TIFF is a big festival, one of the biggest of the year. Variety magazine said that TIFF is "second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity". Roger Ebert said, "although Cannes is still larger, Toronto is more useful and more important." They call it the premier festival in North America and it's where the Oscar race starts... well, I say, "take your artsy films and pound them up your artsy ass" because all of that is a whole lot of things that I couldn't give a rats about. So, why am I talking about it? I'm talking about it because of the TIFF Midnight Madness films.

If you're an indie horror filmmaker, I don't think this is the festival to enter your film in. Last year's midnight madness featured films from George Romero, Dario Argento and Takaski Miike... and they only screened ten films, so you're going to have to be a cut above the average indie horror. Then again, you never know... submit away. Who am I to judge? My point is, whether or not you enter a film, this is a festival to come to and see the next wave or horror coming out and, usually, the filmmakers are in attendance. It's just, simply, a great place to watch some good horror films and meet some like minded people at one of the biggest festivals of the year.

Having said all that, TIFF is getting a lot of criticism of late, much like Sundance, due to the fact that it's become too "Hollywood". ...and if you're bothered by all that, just wait a month, because The Toronto After Dark Film Festival hits in October and that's a real indie horror festival.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Movie Box Office at All-Time Highs Despite Piracy? No.......

I have to bring attention to this article that I found on Daily Tech - Link.

The MPAA has been so relentless on it's stance against piracy, you'd think these Swedish nerds were clubbing seals. After the numbers came in, however, it turns out that despite this rampant piracy, Hollywood still had a banner year... but let me rephrase that to make sure you understand what I mean by 'banner year' - the box office grossed more in 2007 than it has in any other year in the history of film. So then, how, exactly, is piracy bringing down Hollywood? I don't know... you tell me.

The fact of the matter is, the only reason anyone looks down on P2P file sharing is because of the negative press that Hollywood has given it and let's be honest, Hollywood is a powerful marketer. If they want to make a point, you'll hear it. "Piracy", "Movie theives" and all this breaking of copyright laws... It's a lot like that line from "True Lies" - "Why do you think they call him The Sand Spider?", "Probably because it sounds pretty scary..." The point? They're making P2P file sharing sound a whole lot worse than it is.

After the nasty strike, all this piracy and all the other problems that Hollywood's faced over the last year, what was the end result? They had the highest grossing box office in history. Well, cream cheese on a shit biscuit, how'd that happen? The way I look at it, P2P file sharing isn't taking a bite out of the box office and it's really helping a lot of indie and lesser known films actually build awareness and reach an audience, which will eventually help their sales. Also, flip to that, a lot of people are now watching those lesser known and indie films when they probably wouldn't watch anything at all. So, it doesn't hurt Hollywood that bad and it's really helping out the little filmmakers, as well as introducing new films to the masses.

So, really... who's losing here and what's the big deal? Just let it go... let it go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mar 11, 2008 - New horror DVD's out today

The first film that I'm going to discuss is cloaked in mystery and has gone by many a title... You may know it as "El Mascarado Massacre", or possibly "The Mexican Porn Massacre", but when it's released today on DVD it will be known to you simply as "Wrestlemaniac" There may be confusion regarding the title, but make no confusion when it comes to the star of "Wrestlemaniac", for he is Rey Misterio Sr! Mexico's most famous professional wrestler! Why he is not the hero of this movie, I have no idea. They really dropped the ball there... Instead, he plays insane wrestler, El Mascarado, who escaped from a mental home after having 50 lobotomies.... that's right, 50 lobotomies. He then he runs into a low-budget porn crew on their way to Cabo and kills them one by one, usually by ripping their faces off. "Wrestlemaniac" was written, directed, produced and edited by Jesse Baget. I'd tell you more about him, but Rey Misterio told me not to.

Sands of Oblivion" is Sci-Fi original, this one directed by David Flores. Flores seems to be one of their 'go to' guys, as he's directed a few of them, including: "Lake Placid 2", "S.S. Doomtrooper", "Crimson Force" and, the all-time classic, "Boa vs. Python". I'm not sure if "B.V.P." is a Sci-Fi original, but... the others are... in all honesty, I just wanted another chance to mention it, so I could abbreviate it to "B.V.P." Anyhow, Flores' credits read like a '5 for 1' bin at Blockbuster, having also worked on "Maximum Velocity", "Dragon Fighter" and "Phantom Force". The plot to "Sands of Oblivion" is actually kind of interesting and they've got some decent actors in it, including: Adam Baldwin from "Firefly" (who was also 'Animal Mother' in "Full Metal Jacket"), Dan Castellaneta from "The Simpsons", George Kennedy from the "Naked Gun" movies and Morena Baccarin, also from "Firefly" and "Stargate SG-1". The plot is about the reasons behind why Cecil B DeMille bulldozed the sets from "The Ten Commandments", which they say is because there were legitimate Egyptian artifacts being used as props and one of them housed the spirit of an Egyptian avenging god... which gets released when these archeologists try to dig up the set.

"Bats: Human Harvest" is, yet, another Sci-Fi Original. This one is directed by Jamie Dixon, who has a long career in visual effects. This is his second stint as a director, his first was almost ten years ago on "Shadow Builder". To be honest, I don't have much to say on this... it stars a bunch of TV actors, most of whom I don't know... it's set in present day Afghanistan and centers on a group of soldiers who endeavor to capture a fanatical terrorist named Fazul, who has escaped into the maze of caves underlying the landscape of the country. As the troops spelunk, they encounter one major obstacle - genetically altered bats programmed to seek out flesh and eat it. It's the sequel to 1999's "Bats" and, really, has nothing to do with it... except for the genetically altered bats part.

"13: Game of Death" is a Thai psychological thriller that was originally called "13 Beloved" when it came out in Thailand theaters on October 5, 2006. It's directed by Chukiat Sakveerakul and he won various awards in his native country for the film. This is only his second feature and it was shot on a meager budget of $400,000, which is remarkably low for what he accomplished with the film. "13 Beloved" is about a man who is led through progressively challenging, degrading and dangerous stunts by mysterious callers from an underground reality game show.

Can a week go by where we don't get a German, ultra-gore, no budget, zombie feature, that's not shot by someone associated with Uwe Boll by more than two degrees of separation? This week is not that week, my friends... "Hunting Creatures", directed by Oliver Kellisch and Andreas Pape, comes out on DVD in North America today, after being originally released in Germany on October 13, 2004. The plot revolves around a late night rave at an abandoned chemical plant, which has nasty consequences after leaking chemicals turn the partiers into ravenous zombies. I haven't seen it, but what can I say about German horror? Expect lots of over-the-top gore and a low, low buget. Take Uwe Boll, pump up the guts, trim down the budget...

"Aspiring Psychopath" is from director Ryan Cavalline, who's made three other films with very similar themes, "House of Carnage", "Dead Body Man", "Evil Tales 3: The Final Chapter" and "Serial Killer". "Aspiring Psychopath" is about a girl, Lucinda, who wants to be a serial killer, so she watches other killers and their daily routines (fairly simple stuff to do, who doesn't watch a serial killer every once in a while?), she studied them and learned from them, now she's ready to go out and kill on her own. First, though, she must take out the teacher she learned from. It stars veteran B-Movie star, Joel D. Wynkoop, who's been in over 30 films, all... exclusively, low-budget horror.

Oh, and what ever you do, don't forget about the "Leprechaun Triple Feature". Check it out or I'll bite your ear off and I'll make a boot out of it!

New horror out on DVD today:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Linkapalooza - March 10, 2008

Every once in a while I'll come across some cover art, a poster or a trailer that'll give me that, "why didn't I think of that?" feeling. I can't say that "Zombie Strippers" made me think that, exactly, as if you gave me a million monkeys, typing on a million computers and I told them to write me the next big thing in horror, there's no WAY that those monkeys would come up with "Zombie Strippers", but... that's why you don't use monkeys. Written and directed by Jay Lee and starring Jenna Jameson and Robert Englund, I'm smelling what these guys are stepping in... and I like it. Here's a link to the trailer.

One of the guys from Bloody-Disgusting is blogging from the SXSW Festival - LINK. I'm not sure if that link works or not. If it is, great. If not, just click page to the home page, click on blogs and find it there. Pretty interesting, though...

Live events coming to theaters - LINK - This is actually quite cool, even though you may be thinking, "what the hell does this have to do with indie horror?" Well, first off, I'll reference back to last weeks "linkapalooza", where I wrote about an article called "Will the Movie Experience Die in the On Demand World?". Here's a link to my post. Well, you can read what I have to say there, but the long and short is, I do think there's a future for the movie theater experience... and live events, especially 3D live events, are part of that future. Yes, films will find other distribution methods and I do think that you'll see theater attendance drop for feature films as we know them today, but attendance at theaters will not drop... it'll continue to grow. It'll grow because they're going to continue to experiment and bring you alternate programs and cool new stuff, such as live 3D events like they mention in this article. Never underestimate a businesses desire to make money...

Lionsgate to digitize films for iPods - LINK - So, while the theaters are looking for new content for their screens, what are the horror production companies doing? Well, they're looking for new places to distribute their content. I know a lot of purists, like this guy, hate the fact that people can watch feature films on their mp3 players, iPhones, etc., but I have to admit that I've watched lots of movies on mine. It's perfect for when you're at an airport or using a stairmaster or something, I'm sorry, it just is... and horror doesn't exactly need to be seen in Imax to be appreciated. Like I've said over and over again, filmmakers hold 'the movie theater' as the pinnacle, but we should stop thinking like that. Think about eye-balls, well... eye-balls that belong to paying consumers. The more people you can get to watch and pay for the content you've created, in whatever format that may be, the more successful a filmmaker you will become.

I found this Youtube clip featuring Drew Wilson from some film called "Songs About Your Girlfriend", which I haven't seen. To be quite honest, I've never heard of Drew or this film. However, after watching the clip, he gives a fairly good little synopsis on how to make a film on the dirt cheap... so, if you've never made a micro-cinema film, but are planning on it, you won't be wasting the 4 minutes and 46 seconds it takes to get through this clip.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Film Fest Friday... who's accepting submissions right now

As always, go check out Horror Film Festival section, but to update everyone...

The SXSW Festival starts up today in Austin, TX and runs through to March 15th... Here's a great article that I just read on it - link. I had no idea it was such a big deal and I think I'm going to make plans to go to it next year. If you're around Austin over the next week, you should drop by.

Also, I thought it would be a good time to let everyone know which festivals are currently accepting submissions. I've listed them all below, click on the name to be taken to their site... or, in most cases, directly to their submission page. They're in order of the date of the festival, starting with the ones coming up the quickest, if you're interested.

Film Festivals that are now accepting submissions:
Dead by Dawn
Fantastic Films Weekend
Fright Night Film Fest
FILM 4 FrightFest
Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Dark Carnival Film Festival
HP Lovecraft Film Festival
Chicago Horror Film Festival
Eerie Horror Fest
Hollywood Film Festival & Film Threat
Freak Show Horror Film Fest
Sacramento Horror Film Festival
The B Movie Film Festival
Rhode Island International Horror Festival
South African Horrorfest

Going through all that made me realize how much work I still have to do on our film festivals section. If you have any updates or news on the festival front for me, please email me and let me know.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A look at the new Jason Vorhees, plus... Platinum Dunes is at it again.

The guys over at Bloody-Disgusting got a look at the concept art for what the new Jason is going to look like in the new Platinum Dunes version... and, I don't know. Am I supposed to be excited for this? I'm not... it's like watching your favorite bar being ripped down and renovated. It should be exciting, you can understand why some people are excited, but it's just not exciting. Here's a Link to the article on Bloody-Disgusting.

Also, while the Platinum Dunes team dissects and rebuilds one of my childhood icons, they're simultaneously setting out to ruin another classic horror film. Just announced, Platinum Dunes is going to remake "Rosemary's Baby" - link to the article on

Is it just some sort of sick obsession of Michael Bay's? Seriously. Go make a franchise of your own...

"Dexter" to become a video game

I'm sorry, but"Dexter" is probably the best show on TV right now and it continues to amaze me when it comes to how far it's gotten. What started as a little show on Showtime, based on the novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay, has become a bit of franchise. Not only is it now a cult hit on CBS, but just a couple days ago it was announced that Marc Ecko Entertainment has inked a production deal with Showtime Networks to design a video game based on the show. All this because CBS was just looking to fill gaps because of the writers strike.

What's the "Dexter" story? Well, the author of the books, Jeff Lindsay, came up with the idea for "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" 'while attending a civics group luncheon in his home state of Florida. (when) "an idea just popped into (his) head that a serial killer isn't always a bad thing." By the time lunch was over, he had outlined most of the story on a napkin.' The show was based on the first book, but has taken its own course after that. In fact, Lindsay's still writing books on Dexter and "Dexter" has been renewed for a third season and there's a few discrepencies between the TV show and the books, but, hey... who cares? It was a bit of a hit on Showtime, then when the WGA went on strike and there wasn't a lot of original content around, CBS went to its sister station Showtime, looking for content and "Dexter" fit the bill. Now, even though all of season 1 and season 2 are available online at the torrent sites and on the Showtime site for free, as well as on DVD in stores, it's STILL doing well on CBS, pulling in over 6 million viewers each week.

So, why do I think that "Dexter" is so successful? First and foremost, great characters and great story. Not only does each episode have its own story, there's an ongoing story woven throughout each season. The writing is brilliant. Secondly, the way they marketed it was genius. The hard-core, ultra-violent Showtime show will be making it's way over to CBS, but don't worry, we'll cut out the really bad parts. All of a sudden, parents hate it, kids love it. If they had just brought it over and not said anything, it would probably just be filler right now. Thirdly, they're extending the "Dexter" brand everywhere they can. They're using mobile, they have podcasts, they have a wiki fan site, the website itself is extensive and they even have a soundtrack out. They're saturating the market everywhere they can and they know who their fans are... and that's why they're making a video game. According to Len Fogge, the executive VP of marketing, digital media and research at Showtime, "Dexter is one of the most popular shows on Showtime with a particularly strong fan base among gamers." They know... trust me, they know.

So, what can you take away? If you have a product (let's just say it's an indie-horror film), think about every possible way to extend it out into the marketplace. Be everywhere... or at least appear like you're everywhere. Do that by knowing who your audience is and being everywhere that they are. Worked for "Dexter".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mar 4, 2008 - New horror on DVD today

This is a great week for indie horror and, by that, I mean the over-the-top, shot on DV variety. Although I haven't seen it, "Dead Moon Rising" has got to have the best cover art that I've seen in a while... it's sort of "Shaun of the Dead" meets "The Toxic Avenger". Either way, "Dead Moon Rising" will top my list for films I need to check out this week.

So, "Dead Moon Rising" has a few things going for it... (1) it won the audience award for best feature at Cine-Fest, 'Best of Fest' at another and it won "Best Zombie Film" at the Fright Night Film Festival. (2) It's as indie as it gets, with the special effects, music, editing, producing, cinematography, writing and directing all being done by the same guy, Mark E. Pool. (3) They're pending certification from the Guiness Book of World Records for having the largest cast of zombies and the largest zombie scene ever filmed... Oh yeah, the plot... it's a zombie movie.

"Automaton Transfusion" is being released by Dimension Extreme, the 'extreme horror' arm of the Weinstein's company. This film was one of Fangoria's top 10 horror films of 2006 and screened at tons of horror festivals, but don't let those accolades fool you - it's a low-budget, indie horror. Shot in the summer of 2005 on a budget of $30K, it was written and directed by Steven C Miller right after he left film school. He made an award winning short film, "Suffer or Sacrifice", while at Full Sail Film School in Orlando, FL, then made this. It's generated tons of buzz and it's the first of a trilogy. I guess it's doing alright, because he's currently working on the sequel, "Automaton Transfusion: Contingency".

"Carver- UNRATED" comes from writer/director Franklin Guerrero Jr., who's only other feature film is "The 8th Plague". I haven't seen this unrated version, but I have seen the other version... it's your run of the mill backwoods, 'based on a true story', slasher flick until you get to the end... and the last 20 minutes is for the gore-hounds. I'm not sure what else will be added, but the ending is pretty good, if you're into the special effects and blood and guts.

"Mega Snake" is one of the made for TV films from Sci Fi Pictures, directed by Tibor Takacs, who's made tons of 'like quality' films, such as "Ice Spiders" and "Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep". Sci Fi Pictures original films actually comes out with quite a few low-budget horrors and some of it isn't bad. I'm not sure how their process works, as far as how they commission films, but I may look into it. They typically make films with budgets of $1 - $2 Million and they air around 28 original movies per year.

"The Fun Park" was written and directed by Rick Walker, whose day job is hosting a morning radio show in Oklahoma City. Over his 28 year career, he's casually been picking up filmmaking and screenwriting accolades, having won various awards. "The Fun Park" is his second directorial effort, the other one being a romantic comedy called, "Sam & Janet". Okay... won't be checking out that one, but, "The Fun Park" is about 'Bobo - The Insult Clown', who was supposedly murdered 26 years ago, but was discovered living in the bowels of an abandoned fun park by a group of kids. Bizarre and grisly, ritual murders ensue...

"Army of the Dead" is being released by Maverick Entertainment and was directed by Joseph Contegiacomo, who usually goes by Joe Conti, I guess. The title and artwork are blatant rip-offs of "Army of Darkness", so I'm having a bit of a tough time with this one... Joe Conti got his start in the world of visual effects, then crossed over into writing and directing with "Bugs" in 2003. "Army of the Dead" marks his second stint as a director. "Army of the Dead" is about a university professor and his students, who unwittingly unleash a long dormant curse while visiting the Baja peninsula and find themselves in a life or death battle with an army of skeletal warriors, the undead remnants of Coronado's conquistadors. Having read that, it's not really a rip-off, well... kind of. Couldn't they have called it something else?

Albert Pyun is back with the action/horror/western, "Left for Dead", about a desperate criminal and a merciless posse who become trapped in a remote Mexican ghost town by a vengeful demon. As far as I'm concerned, all of Pyun's movies are 'must see's' and if you don't know about the Hawaiin born director with a penchant for making films that mix martial arts and science ficition in dystopic and post-apocalyptic settings and sometimes involve cyborgs, lets take a look at some of his highlights. Well, of course, there's the classic, "Cyborg", starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the "Nemesis" series, "Omega Doom", "Postmorten" and "Urban Menace", just to name a few... I say he's back, but, really... Pyun makes an average of two movies a year. In fact, he's made 5 movies inbetween this film, "Left for Dead", which came out in 2007, and it's sequel, "Left for Dead 2", which comes out in 2008.

"The Forever Dead" is the directorial debut from Christine Parker, who also wrote and produced the film. It's being released under The Adrenalin Group label, which is her label, so I believe that means that she's distributing it independently, which is great. It's the prequel to a 15-minute short that she made called "Second Death" and it was done on the cheap. I don't know much about it, but from what I've read, it's a true indie horror, so do yourself and the industry favor and pick it up.

If low-budget, shot on DV horror with guys in monkey suits is your thing, then "Suburban Sasquatch" is your film. Written, directed, shot, composed, edited and staring Dave Wascavage, "Suburban Sasquatch" is about the mystical and mysterious Bigfoot, who goes on a blood thirsty rampage in the heart of peaceful suburbia. I love the cover art because it looks nothing like the guy in the gorilla suit in the film, which you can see in the trailer here. "Suburban Sasquatch" was Wascavage's first film, he's subsequently made three more, "Tartarus", "Fungicide" and "Zombies by Design". All of which are currently available...

Even though they're saying that shot on 35mm, Super 16mm and digital video, this is a low-budget, shot on DV film... and I mean that in a good way. "Satan's Whip" is about a seminarian who embarks on a bizarre and horrifying quest that will end in a blood-bath of insanity, cannibalism and witchcraft. To be honest, the trailer looks great and it doesn't hurt that it looks like there's at least one blood soaked sex scene in it... boobs in trailers always sell me. Here's a link to the trailer.

"The Deepening" is about a fireman who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after working the tragic events of 9-11. Searching for a fresh start, he heads to a rural town, where he has to seek treatment for his recurring nightmares... which don't go away. In fact, they turn into a terrifying reality. It's getting some decent reviews and it looks pretty good, but if you're going to pick it up, pick it up because Gunnar Hansen and Debbie Rochon are in it.

"Torment" - I couldn't find anything but this blurb, so here's the blurb: From the makers of DEAD CLOWNS ("one of the most effective indie horror films I've seen in years" - comes a new tale of coulophobia! Suzi Lorraine (Chainsaw Sally, Satan's Schoolgirls) plays Laura Wiggington, a woman recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital. Her husband Ray (Tom Stedham) takes her to an isolated river cottage to recover. There she is stalked by a psychopathic clown named Dissecto (Lucien Eisenach -- Hellbound: Book of the Dead) who performs macabre "tricks" for his literally captive audiences. But does the clown really lurk nearby or only in the dark recess of Laura's troubled mind?

I usually don't cover the old rereleases, but I have to mention the "Cult Fiction" series, which is coming out with some wicked rereleases this week, including: One of the best 80's horror of all time, "C.H.U.D.", one of George Clooney's first movies, "Return of the Killer Tomatoes", "Night of the Living Dorks", "Kidnapped" and "The Wicker Man".

New horror on DVD - March 4, 2008: