Friday, March 30, 2012

Real Life Horror: Irrational Fears

Happy Follow Friday and I'm not dead. I'm aware that I've not only been more horrible about posting than usual but I've also been horrible about Follow Friday. I just fell a little bit behind this month. I'm sorry, I would like to promise that I'll be more committed from here on out but if that doesn't happen than I'll have lied to you on top of not doing it. Therefore just know that I have full intent to do so but it may not happen. But I will try, I'm watching three films this weekend, hopefully four.

Besides that it's Irrelevant Post Friday and I thought I'd share with you my fears. Not in a horror film related sense but in an actual real life fear. There's three that are consistent and always anxiety provoking. And of course they are all irrational.

Number Three: The Royal Gorge Bridge

I'm not even afraid of heights per say but this bridge I find rather upsetting. I went here once as a kid and not only do they allow cars to drive over the bridge while you walk but there really is nothing stopping anyone from running up behind me and throwing me over the side of it. This is a reoccurring thought I had a child which would keep me up a night. It's irrational, why would anyone want to throw a ten year old over a bridge? Who knows but it upsets me.

Number Two: Animatronics That Don't Move

It makes absolutely no sense, I know. More logically the ones that move should prove more fear as they resemble more realism, but no it's only when they are still that I start to lose it. In particular the animatronic T-rex on the Jurassic Park Ride at Universal Studios. If it ever broke down when I was in it I'd probably cry. Just looking for pictures of this thing my phone vibrated and I about pissed myself and flew out of my seat. It simply just freaks me out. 

Number One: People/Social Contact

There's clearly something wrong with my wiring, not only do I seek out to be afraid being an avid horror lover as I am but my real life fear is something I come in contact with DAILY, forcing me to induce fear often. It's likely the most irrational fear of them all but I argue that if you can be afraid of something you drink (water) or spiders than I'm entitled to be afraid of people. People are much more capable of hurting you than a spider, physically or worse emotionally. I'm a social-phobic to the extent of having Social Anxiety Disorder, which includes a lot of strange fears like public restrooms but also the common public speaking. That cartoon picture is scarily acurate, that's every thought, with every person, all day. I'm don't have it as bad as some do, I leave the house, but I do have bad anxiety from it and if the situation proves so I can go into an anxiety attack. 

If you are reading post your own irrational fears. Or rational. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Muse (2012)

Addison Taylor is a one hit wonder who's been secluded in his song writing for the past three years. Overdue by the record companies standards Addison neglect of writing a song strung with poetic rhythm and a general sense of being good steams from the excessive one night stands and pill addiction he's been living in. Spilling his insecurities on air it's clear Addison has developed an acute paranoia lead by depression from the pressure to be better. A deadline nearing his manager, Jimmy, suggests that he stay a few weeks at a cabin on Granite Lake and find himself and his music again. The lake house strums more than asked for though as it draws severe influence to Addison but also unsettles. When a beautiful women begins to appear in Addison's vision he finds the muse he's been searching for. But behind the beauty of his muse a dark past and sinister agenda lie. Obsessed with immortality in his music and intoxicated in his muse, Addison becomes lost in inspiration and a slave to her.

I've again been blessed to have been offered to watch a film before it's distribution, how I've been so lucky is beyond me but I'll always be thankful. The Muse is another one of those beautiful quiet pieces that shows an unrelenting haunt. Emotionally deep in the loss of oneself in music it's a unique rock horror that differs from the typical expectant of the small sub-genre. It takes much more to a indie flow paired with the build of a psychological thriller rather than something like Rob Zombie's rock horror films that have loud music and the raw grit (don't mistake, I love both kinds). The story structure could have been better built, Oliva almost appeared out of nowhere and it can be very easy to get lost if not paying attention. But overall a well composed cadence of the ghost story. I'm always impressed when director and set crew alike are able to draw emotion from inanimate object. The old guitar that seduces Addison has an enigmatic air to it, attribute to the scratches on its facial and director Rufus Chaffee's still shots of it.

Isaac Simons takes to your attention as Addison, he carries most of the film on his performance as often he's alone. As mentioned in the synopsis that Addison isn't really all the way there, he's paranoid and in a deep depression. Impressive as he also did the music for the film. Marguerite Insolia reminds me of Jenny Spain in Deadgirl for their similar usage of unconventional facial features. As much of an insult as that may sound its not as she has a unqiue beauty that is able to twist into an uncanny aura when she comes on to screen. Rene Miller fades in an out as Frances but she's still good and its clear she's a veteran actor. As I was told before hand the film is not in full completion as it has a few touch ups before release, one of these is color correction. DP Doug Gordon has a good sense of capturing images for the film, and really quite exceptional for being his first feature film. Chaffee also directs and captures his set location beautifully, as you really become immersed in the lake.

As you can tell I really did like The Muse, in fact I think I actually loved The Muse. The film doesn't really feel like a horror film from it's start, and in actuality continues to do so for a good portion of the time, substituting humor and music instead. However when it does climax to it's psychological build it proves unsettling in nature. I didn't get to see the film in full completion but for the most part what I saw stands. I ignorantly told the director when he asked me to do the review that the temporary use of music was irrelevant to me as I don't pay attention to that. This is dumb considering the film is about music and I would of liked to have heard the finish product to complete the film, but that's just an excuse to watch it again. Aside from my small nit picks The Muse is a real lovely film. An eloquent thriller that is undoubtedly to impress those who revel in psychological horror.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TDHorror Retro Review

I strongly dislike this review. More so than you could imagine. But there's not much I may do, it's still shit as much as I tried to edit it. This review may have not been meant to be as I watched another film first (Parents with Randy Quaid). After not being able to write anything on that I went to this to find myself with the same problem. At that point though it was more than three weeks and I needed a review so here it is, in all it's horrid prose. EXPECT, as in don't let me get away with not posting for a month, another retro review in two weeks.

"The tight script offers a tense thriller that keeps you guessing as to who's behind the strange happenings at the Bate's house. Unlike most those it wasn't lucid, as opposed to most eighties horror where you can espy the murder five minutes into the film. It's not immune to all bad eighties decesions though as I could tell, not being a psychitrist, that having Norman move back to his mother's house was more or less a very poor decision. "

As it goes you may read the rest of the review here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Skew (2011)

Simon, Rich and Eva are on a road trip heading to a friend's wedding. Simon brings along his new camera to document the highly anticipated trip. What starts out hopeful though turns sour quickly when Simon begins to notice that his camera isn't capturing images right as it creates an askewed vision of the persons' face. And when the blurred people become victims of horrible deaths Simon starts to infer that his camera may be more unique than he thought. Not all is at surface value though as the three friends seem to have a heavy strain on their relationship and the camera is only irritating things more.

Skew succeeds in being a genuine mind fuck, for lack of a better phrase. Inexplicably the camera has a draw to it's carrier Simon and chooses it's victims based on his tampering with matters of life and death. At the core though Skew isn't about the odd deaths that occur from the lens of the camera but the secrets that possess each friend. There's quite a bit of baggage that's weight is felt throughout the film, even as details become apparent and the big 'secret' is revealed you still fell that you've only gotten part of the story. Which is an attribute to the screenwriter and director Seve Schelenz who did successfully instill that tension between each friend and create depth in this portion of the script. The film does drag though and be cautious that you'll spend a good portion of it not understanding what the hell is going on. Also Skew just has some genuinely creepy moments, hence my photo choice below.

Acting is really weak, not awful all around but a good portion of it seems to be trying a bit hard and a little unnatural. Though each character has their moments of seriousness and they are convincing there are a lot of other parts where it's just not strong. It's not all the actors fault though as a good bit of the problem lies in the writing of the character's themselves. Eva's is difficult to like as she comes off rather pissy from the start, not really allowing us to get a good side to her character even if her anger is warranted. Rich felt almost absent from the film, having few lines and not really making a noticeable presence till the end. And lets be honest, no one really likes the person behind the camera, whom which this unfortunate is Rich. It's that unsought out narrator role that requires constant commentary. Found footage films make it hard for me to address the DP of a film as often they are shaky but as far as cuts, editing, and basic lighting go it's all fairly good.

This film came to my attention through Jason at Film Reviews From the Basement who was tweeting while watching the film and expressed much perplexity as the events came to focus. Which in itself is a fair assessment of the film as it really works on a level of disrupting logic to the viewer. I'm not sure if I even liked Skew per-say but it is unique and serves as an interesting take to the found footage genre. It does suffer from a few possessions found in the sub-genre, such as Simon's typical and annoying 'I won't put the camera down' pester that easily pisses off Eva, for good reason. This does, however, have the most feel to the original sub-genre film, The Blair Witch Project, than those that have followed. It picked up a lot of intentional or maybe unintentional homage which I respect, despite not having liked The Blair Witch Project. Based on the rating on IMDB a lot of people didn't like it and as I said I'm not even sure I liked it, but it's interesting and it at the least deserves a watch. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Press Release: Harvest Tide Releases Behind the Scenes Look at Microcinema

Harvest Tide Releases Behind the Scenes Look At Microcinema

MASSACHUSETTS (March 8, 2012) – Massachusetts-based Harvest Tide Productions releases "Making of Microcinema,"  a behind the scenes look at the making of the cult horror short and Rondo Hatton Award nominee, "Microcinema," including interviews with the cast and crew. Watch this exclusive video here -

“Microcinema” quickly became a cult favorite and wowed critics and audiences last year at several horror film festivals and screenings within the few short months of its release. Screenings in 2011 included the 1st Annual Danish Horror Film Festival: THE TURBINE at Spinderihallerne, Vejle, Denmark; All Things Horror Shudder Fest at the Somerville Theater in Somerville, MA; Short Horror Films at AS220 in Providence, RI; the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival; and before Canadian horror film fans at Fright Night Theater presents: ABSENTIA & Microcinema at the Staircase Cafe Theater in Hamilton, Ontario.

Starring Alex Lewis and Aurora Grabill, “Microcinema” is the story of Peter Martell, a highly educated well-to-do young man with too much free time on his hands. He spends it watching snuff films. One day he makes the bold decision to cross the line from observer to participant, aspiring to bring a philosophical element to his own kind of snuff films. Ready to go to work, he tracks his first victim into a haunted New England wood, where the boundary between participant and observer takes a different turn.

"Microcinema” is now available on the film’s website for under .99 cents. The best horror for under a dollar.


What the critics are saying about “Microcinema” 

Chris Conduit of The Conduit Speaks, put "Microcinema" as the best horror short of the year giving it his Conduit Award.

Danielle Holman writing for Truly Disturbing Horror, listed "Microcinema" as one of the five best horror films saying, "Skip Shea’s seven minute short film is deserving in the ranks of the big films as it’s able to accomplish more in less than ten minutes than an hour and a half feature length film." In her Bleeding Dead blog, she called "Microcinema.... One of the most important horror films in our time."

"The film is brave and unrelenting. It is a breath of fresh air to a lot of the common horror tricks that are being trotted out time and again." -Alexandra West, Scare Tactics Blog.

"In what stands out as a giddy teenager spitting in the face of authority, Harvest Tide Productions and Uxbridge, MA’s own Skip Shea have crafted a short film that solidly runs all the lines of horror while establishing its own unique and disturbing storyline that scares (pun intended) away from the genre’s usual archaic tropes." - Josh Lyford, Pulse Magazine.


"You will not be expecting to see the events that unfold in this shocking short film." - The Horror Spot

"The script itself deserves kudos for completely drawing your attention to the one aspect we would expect every horror film to contain and then suddenly shocks you with an element you rarely see in this genre."  The Scariest Movies Online 

"I figured I was in for one of three things:  a really solid work, a bite size film that left me feeling nothing, or one of those that makes me want to substitute rat poison for the salt on my dinner table.  Those are the three categories all art falls into for me, always.  Yet, when it was all said and done, Shea's vignette carved a whole new icky slot out just for itself. 9 out of 10 Stars" - The Conduit Speaks

"Brilliant. 8.5 out of 10 Stars" - The Gruesome Hurtzogg Horror Movie Review Podcast.

"4 out of 5 Stars" Char Hardin 

"What I find particularly interesting about Microcinema is its plot and how it seems to blend together torture, voyeurism, and a lot of other really weird horrific topics like snuff films." - Horror Society 

"Microcinema Doesn't Disappoint" - Victor Infante, The Worcester Telergram & Gazette

"The new indie horror romp Microcinema and it is a doozy." - Truly Disturbing Horror

"Interesting short that starts as your usual slasher/serial killer fare before taking a wicked little turn." Shaun Sjolin Cenobiteme Blog

"Unicornsblud Horror Review Stamp of Majestic Approval"  Unicronsblud's Horror Reviews

“Twisted and sick but with a new vision.” - The Dr. Chris Radio of Horror

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hostel: Part II (2007)

Hostel: Part II takes to the feminine side of horror as three young college students are in Europe studying art. When a luring women convinces them to take a detour to a Hostel in Slovakia the girls are exposed to the true hidden horrors of traveling in Europe these days. As the ladies are having fun, unknowingly being preyed on, two business men, Stuart and Todd, have just joined the elite hunting club in which the torture business runs out of. As Todd is eager and ready for the game, Stuart is having second thoughts and is hesitant towards his new purchase. When the business men and the girls finally meet it amounts to a bloody climax, but not all is the same in Eli Roth's sequel as our leading lady, Beth, has an advantage that may save her life.

My opinion on the first Hostel was that it was good, I don't like it because, well, you can't really like Hostel. It's about torturing people, but overall I found it to be a good horror film and more importantly I had to close my eyes for a second viewing. This time Roth gives us answers to questions that may have been posed by fans of the first film, such as what happens if you back out part way, and expands on the Elite Hunting's business end. It succeeds in being different to it's predecessor, despite having the same outline the girls are lured in differently and we get to see the setup process much more, in likes to where the business men stay. The script really only seemed to be touching at surface value to the stories though, between the three girls and the two business men. No doubt a good portion of the fan base will notice a real lack of torture, for better or worse. I didn't cringe or halfheartedly close my eyes as I did so in the first but was able to sit though it all with no effort for the most part. Though they have disturbing moments nothing quite compares to the gross splurge Roth done on the first. Suspense is limited in that you know the drill as the first time around. However it does flesh out a bit on the literal term of 'torture porn' and explores more of the fantasy that appeals to those who join the Elite Hunting.

I'm sadden and enthralled that Jay Hernandez came back as Paxton. Small spoiler alert, though doubtful since you see it coming the second he's on screen, I wish he hadn't of died. I liked him and his character. I struggle a bit with Heather Matarazzo, maybe it's because I know her more as a comedy actress but her death was horrid and the scene of the film, also she was rather nice and it's always sad when nice people like that have gruesome deaths. Lauren German is good as the lead female and carries her part in the film well, and Bijou Phillips slips into a common best friend character, with little to no effect. The weakest performances are likely from Roger Bart and Richard Burgi, who try too hard and end up overacting for their dramatic moments, Burgi trying to mimic Rick Hoffman's performance in the first Hostel. I liked the camera and photography of the first film, nothing exceptional but good overall, but I love the work in this. The hot springs scene, among others, has a haunted beauty to it that I appreciate. And of course for the latter half there's enough grim to create that singed atmosphere for the torture.

At the end Hostel: Part II is fine but it's not special, at most not a bad sequel but generally forgettable as a horror film. The ending was amped to please the audience even more so than the first though it was a bit campy. The first Hostel is noted for really defining the torture porn sub-genre, which in later years will be accredited like the slasher, in my opinion at least. The film also lost a bit of weight in any meaning it had, your less appalled this time by at what humans are capable of doing to one another; I personally found myself more interested in how Beth was going to escape with all that crazy security system they've improved on. I'll accredit the horror to being mostly in the idea that 'they are all around you' more so than the actual torture part itself. In that Hostel: Part II is an easy enough horror film to watch, still not for the light weights but I doubt you'll lose too much sleep over it.