There's actually quite a few horror films out this week, so not only am I going to be brief on some of them... I'm outright going to leave a few out. Sorry. It's actually a great week, as there's some wicked low-budget horrors, as well as one of the most underrated horrors to get a theatrical release last year... and although I'm going to lead with "The Ruins", my favorite cover art of the week was for "American Zombie", so I'm going to use it instead... remember, you can buy these movies through Amazon by clicking on the title and you can check out all the trailers on our Youtube page.
"The Ruins" was directed by Carter Smith, who actually won an award at Sundance a few years back for his short film, "Bugcrush", and was based on a novel of the same name by Scott Smith, who also wrote the screenplay. Carter Smith has a strange route to directing, as he started out in fashion photography, then did a series of documentary-style portraits of teen life in the Midwest before directing commercials for some of his clients... he then got into making short films. "The Ruins" has a decent B-level cast, including Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), Jena Malone (Into the Wild) and Laura Ramsey (She's the Man). It's the typical, dumb American tourists mess with something they're not supposed to mess with story, but it really is pretty good. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's one of the most underrated horrors of the year. Disappointingly, it opened at #5 and just grossed under $20Million domestically... Really, it is pretty good and hopefully it gets a decent run on DVD because it's worth a watch.
"American Zombie" has very similar themes and ideas to the recently released and kick-ass low-budget zombie feature, "Zombies Anonymous", however "American Zombie" is put together a little differently, it's a mockumentary. I've always liked the concept behind making a mockumentary, as it allows you to cut corners in the process and it justifies a low-budget. This comes from Grace Lee, who was profiled in Filmmaker magazine as one of the 25 faces to watch in independent film in 2002. She won various awards for her short film, "Barrier Device" and got a lot of respect for her film "The Grace Lee Project". Now, she delves into the horror arena, albeit softly, as this is really a comedy mockumentary... sort of. "American Zombie" documents the daily lives of a small community of the living dead who make their home in Los Angeles.
"Philosophy of a Knife" is a Russian horror that's part documentary, part feature and all brutal violence. It comes from writer/director Andrey Iskanov, who's the guy behind "Visions of Suffering", which received some acclaim a few years back. It's about the true history of Japanese Unit 731, shown from the perspective of a young Japanese nurse who witnessed many horrors, and a young Japanese officer who is torn between his sincere convictions that he is serving the greater purpose, and the deep sympathy he feels for an imprisoned Russian girl. His life is a living hell as he's compelled to carry out atrocious experiments on the other prisoners, using them as guinea pigs in this shocking tale of mankinds's barbarity... and they're NOT lying when they say 'atrocioius experiments'. It's being called "one of the most violent, brutal and harrowing movies ever made", just check out the trailer on our Youtube page, pretty brutal.
"Bone Eater" comes from Jim Wynorski, who's a bit of a legend on the B-Movie scene. He got his break with Roger Corman and has directed over 50 feature films... the first few films made it to the theaters, but his later works have been all, pretty much, straight to DVD releases. To give credit where credit's due, he's the guy behind such classics as "Chopping Mall", "976-EVIL 2: The Astral Factor", "Ghoulies 4", "The Witches of Breastwick" and "Komodo vs. Cobra". Okay, so he's not a legend, legend... but I think he's a legend and that's all that counts. "Bone Eater" is about an ancient Native American legend that rises up and begins terrorizing the local townspeople.
"Death on Demand" comes from Adam Matalon, who, hilariously, splits time between working on shows like "Sesame Street" and "Whoopi", to directing low-budget indies like "Death on Demand". It's about a wealthy college student who arranges a web broadcast contest originating from a local haunted house, who's last owner was a deranged killer.
"Dungeon Girl" is a low-budget horror being released by Lionsgate that was 'inspired by true events'. It's from low-budget German filmmaker Ulli Lommel, who's biggest claim to fame is directing "The Boogeyman" in 1980, which went on to be one of the biggest indie-horror hits of all time. He now seems to make about 4 movies a year. In 2008 alone, he made this film, plus "Absolute Evil", "Son of Sam" and "Baseline Killer". "Dungeon Girl" is about an older man who kidnaps a young girl and keeps her captive for 6 years.
"Death Of A Ghost Hunter" is another low-budget horror, this one from Sean Tretta, who wrote, shot, directed and produced the film. This is his second go at directing a low-budget feature, the first being "The Great American Snuff Film". He's already got another film in the can, coming out in 2008 called "Death Factory: Bloodletting", but I haven't seen it out yet. "Death of a Ghost Hunter" is about a renowned ghost hunter who, along with a cameraman, a reporter, and a spirtual advocate, embarks on a three night journey into terror.
If you're one of those big Justine Bateman fans, get ready for "Hybrid", from very good looking director Yelena Lanskaya... I hope she's Russian, she kinda looks like one. The name fits. So, to me, this comes from hottie Russian director Yelena Lanskaya. Anyhow, she's won a whole bunch of awards and this is the eighth installment in the "Maneater Series", a series that I've heard nothing of before this. It's about a guy who turns into a wolf hybrid after being blinded in an explosion and then seeks shelter with a mysterious museum curator, who happens to be a half-breed herself.
We covered off Justine Batemane fans, now for the C. Thomas Howell fans. "The Haunting of Marsten Manor", stars C. Thomas Howell and was written and directed by David Greenlaw Sapp and it's a low-budget, PG-13 horror about an angry blind girl who inherits a haunted house... er, sorry, a haunted manor. It's also got Ezra Buzzington in it, the creepy tall guy from the new "Hills Have Eyes".
From what I can tell, "Survive This!" was trying to be a TV show... it's sort of a fake reality show, but designed like a series. I'm not really sure, but it looks really interesting. It's "the start of a new R-Rated reality show, bringing together a group of sexy young contestants and an unlikely crew to pirates island. The cameras roll and steamy footage racks up, but the creation of this hot new series soon becomes a bloody nightmare." It has the most random 'celebrity cast' ever, including KK Holiday, Naked Cowboy, Gina Lynn and Kamal Ahmed, among others... I may have to look further into this one. Expect lots of nudity and random gore.
"The Key" comes from Michelle Fridley, who wrote, produced and directed it... I wish I could give it more coverage, as it looks like a pretty good low-budget horror. It's about five friends who go to shoot a documentary about a haunted building, but end up being tricked into searching for a cursed buried treasure that the leader of the group wants. When one unfortunate soul opens a door to a darker dimension, a demon is released and begins to kill them one by one.
"Witches Night" comes from Paul Traynor and it's another flick that I wish I could dedicate more time to... it takes place on Halloween weekend over a hastily organized canoe trip in the deep, dark forest, where the guys stumble upon four beautiful women. It's a throwback to 70's horror, with lots of sex, an 'indelible villain' and a plot that 'builds slowly and inexorably toward an unforgettable conclusion'. Check out the trailer on our Youtube page, it does look pretty cool...