Episode 122 – Field Trip Fun – Part 2

For our final episode of 2017, Joe’s been a man about town again and returned with several recordings for us.

Segment 1 – Takashi Miike at the Nuart Theater on 11/3 after a screening of BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL.

Segment 2 – Barbara Magnolfi at the Nuart Theater on 11/18 before a midnight screening of the 4K restoration of SUSPIRIA.

Segment 3 – Q&A with Guillermo Del Toro, Octavia Spencer, and Doug Jones on 12/9 at the Landmark Theater after a screening of THE SHAPE OF WATER.

Enjoy!

Episode 122 – Field Trip Fun – Part 2

This Week in Horror News [12/22/17]

By Joe Meyers

Hello, Fright Fans! We’re off for the next two weeks (although there will be another “Field Trip” episode available on, or around, New Year’s Day), but here’s some horror-related news items to keep you “in the know”:

 

  • Netflix renews German original series DARK for a second season. “DARK is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families. In ten, hour-long episodes, the story takes on a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town in 1986. Written by Jantje Friese and directed Baran bo Odar (Who Am I – No System is Safe), DARK is a chilling mystery-drama-series: an intricate puzzle full of twists. Slick camerawork and realistic performances enhance a textured web of curious characters, all of whom have a connection to the town’s troubled history, whether they know it or not.” This is one I’ve not had the chance to watch for myself yet, but hope to binge at some point soon.

 

  • At the end of Season 1 Fox’s “The Exorcist” was on the bubble for renewal due to its ratings. At the end of Season 2 series creator Jeremy Slater tells Entertainment Weekly that the series is once again in limbo. This time it’s due to the uncertainty surrounding the recent 20th Century Fox/Disney deal.

 

 

  • Elvis is back in the IDW comic series “Bubba-Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers.” This comic book prequel to the original story by Joe R. Lansdale, adapted in a 2002 film starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis, is co-written by Lansdale with Joshua Jabcuga, and illustrated by Todd Galusha. The story revolves around President Nixon tasking “the King” with taking on extraterrestrials. Watch for issue one in March 2018.

 

 

  • While we’re still waiting on the “What We Do In The Shadows” sequel “We’re Wolves” fans of  will get a return to that world in the new spinoff television series “Wellington Paranormal.” Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement bring back Shadows’ police unit members Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary to hunt ghosts, werewolves and to deal with demonic possessions. Six 30-minute episodes are due to air in mid-2018, but there’s no firm release date for countries outside of New Zealand at this time.

 

  • Deadline reports that Amazon will pass on all three of its 2017 Fall Pilot Season Shows. This includes “Sea Oak”, a zombie comedy starring Emmy-winner Glenn Close. Close was to play Aunt Bernie, who died in a home-invasion only to return as a zombie hellbent to to “get the life she never had.”

 

  • The 1956 psychological horror film, “The Bad Seed” is scheduled for a remake at Lifetime. Rob Lowe will direct and star in the movie, as the father of young girl who just may be the “personification of evil.”

 

  • “Another WolfCop” filmmaker Lowell Dean shares his thoughts on the future of the franchise in an interview with Tom Holland’s Terror Time. As a huge fan of the first film, who’s dying to see the sequel when it’s available, I hope we get more down the line.

 

 

  • While Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” is expanding nationwide today, you may also currently catch Part 2 of “Trollhunters”, his wonderful animated series, on Netflix.

 

  • As briefly mentioned on our “Stranger Things” Season 2 recap episodes, David Harbour revealed to Variety that Season 3 might not be released until 2019. 

 

  • The sixth installment of the “Tremors” film franchise will be titled “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell”, and it’s set for a may 2018 release. Burt Gummer actor, Michael Gross, also revealed that he will not appear in the now filming “Tremors” television series, and Kevin Bacon’s character, Valentine McKee, will not appear in the film.

 

That wraps up this week’s horror news. Check back with us this time next week for another recap of the happenings in the wonder world of horror.

Making His List & Checking It Twice: Chris’s Top Ten Christmas Horror Films

Feliz Navidad, Fright Fans! Here’s hoping your days are merry and bright as we wind our way through the holiday season. And what better way to celebrate than to watch some great Christmas-themed horror films! From the darkly funny to the just plain dark, I’ve put together a top ten list of my personal favorites to provide some suggestions and inspiration for your own festive viewing. In no particular order, let’s get things started!

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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This classic seasonal-slasher made quite a bit of controversy back in its day, both for its ad campaign and for the bashing it gave the Catholic church. Young Billy is traumatized first by seeing a man dressed as Santa kill his parents, and then by the nuns in the orphanage he and his brother are sent to. Fast forward to 18-year-old and buff Billy who finally snaps and goes on a slaying spree, punishing those who have been naughty.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

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As anyone who listens to the show knows, I’m a sucker for anthology films. Add in the Christmas spirit and William Shatner as a radio show host helping link the stories, and you have a delightfully dark Canadian offering that became an instant favorite for me when I saw it for the first time last year. The four interwoven tales involve zombie elves, changelings, haunted schools, and (as the poster shows) Krampus, and each is a great stand alone as well. If you haven’t seen this one yet, it’s currently on Netflix in the US at the time of this posting.

Krampus (2015)

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Speaking of Krampus, the first time I ever heard of this european folk tale was from a Christmas short done for The Venture Bros. cartoon. The idea of essentially an “anti-Santa” seemed kinda cool. It was only a couple of weeks back that I finally watched this Christmas creation from Mike Dougherty. As one of the hugest fans of Trick ‘r Treat, I had been meaning to watch this before now, but it was more than worth the wait.

As the extended family begrudgingly draws together for Christmas, young Max has lost his faith in Santa and Christmas because of all of the fighting and failing family dynamics. Max and his family soon find themselves on the naughty list as Der Krampus comes calling. Some nice twists and surprises in this one, and the minions of Der Krampus are creepy as hell!

Gremlins (1984)

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Anyone who doesn’t agree that this is a Christmas classic is someone you should reconsider associating with. Seriously. Can you really find any faults with this film? With Joe Dante’s direction and Chris Columbus’s writing, Gremlins is pitch perfect in playing out as a monster movie for the holidays. Add in a dash of Phoebe Cates telling the urban legend-ish tale of why she hates Christmas, and you have many genuinely dark moments in what is often seen as a lighthearted movie.

Better Watch Out (2017)

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This is the newest movie on this list since:
1) It was released in October of this year, and 2) I saw it only 5 days ago.
I was genuinely surprised by the directions this film took me in a story that made me laugh, cringe, and even jump once or twice. Tweenage Luke has been crushing on his babysitter, Ashley, for a while now. As Ashley prepares to leave town for school, Luke sees it as one final chance to show her how he feels when Ashley comes over one last time while his parents (played wonderfully yet briefly by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton) go out for the night to a Christmas party. But a potential home invasion puts a kink in Luke’s plans.

Now the trailer for this gave me an “R-Rated Home Alone” vibe when I saw it several months back. Man, did this turn out to be so much more and in the best ways possible. I highly recommend giving this one a viewing, fright fans.

Christmas Evil (1980)

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From Better Watch Out, we go next to film that has the alternate title of You Better Watch Out. Another 80’s classic, inspired in its own way from the “holiday slasher” boom created by John Carpenter’s Halloween, Christmas Evil tells the tale of Harry Stadling. As a child, Harry was obsessed with Santa Claus. Cue the childhood trauma of his little brother telling him Santa’s not real and then seeing Santa (Daddy) groping Mommy by the tree later that night. We then jump to an adult Harry who is still obsessed with all-things Christmas and even works in a toy factory. But after one too many episodes of abuse from his naughty co-workers and neighbors, Harry flips and begins his own rampage of rewards for the good and retribution for the wicked.

This film was great fun to watch because of all the of “Hey! It’s that guy/lady from that thing!” moments for all of the random actors and actresses in this from before they became well-known. Also, not enough can be said about Brandon Maggart’s performance as Harry. You really believe in him, even after he snaps and starts killing. He just has such an earnestness about him as his falls further into his psychosis.

Body (2015)

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Here’s another new edition to my list. I love finding new-to-me and fairly unknown films like this. Three college friends, Holly, Cali, and Mel, get bored during Christmas break and venture off to an empty mansion that Cali says is owned by her rich uncle. All is not what it seems, and then the girls are found in the house by the groundskeeper (played by Larry Fassenden). Accidents will happen, but lies and fear of jail compound and complicate things. At only 74 minutes (and about 5 of those are credits), this plays out as a tight little thriller with many brutal and tense moments.

The Children (2008)

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Set in the British countryside, a family gathers over the Christmas break for fun and feasting. Soon that all turns to fear as the aforementioned children begin showing signs of illness. Beyond just your basic cold, this infection leads the kiddos to try to kill the adults! Well done creepy kid movies always wig me out a bit, and this is one of the better ones of this millenia. Again, as with all the films on this list, I highly recommend it.

Rare Exports (2010)

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I do believe this was the first Finnish film I had ever seen, and I instantly fell in love with the mannerisms, the dark humor, and general tone of this great film. Set in remote Finland, a corporate archeological dig on Christmas Eve makes a terrible discovery and release Santa Claus from an ancient burial mound. Enter Rauno, a local reindeer butcherer, and his son Pietari, who find many of the reindeer being killed, presumably by wolves. But it’s so much more than that, which makes for a fun and entertaining story. You will never look at the Santa Claus legend, or that of his “elves,” the same way ever again after watching this one.

Black Christmas (1974)

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Last but surely not least, we have a certified classic. This one sets the tone and technique for the vast multitude of slasher films that came after it, including Halloween. A sorority house with a handful of girls who didn’t go home for the holidays is stalked by a crazed killer. To this day, “Billy” remains one of the most creepy and demented killers out there for me. Never fully seeing his face but frequently hearing his psychotic raging, director Bob Clark crafted a brilliant film that shows you just enough. And apparently making one Christmas classic wasn’t enough for Mr. Clark. Nine years later, he would take us home for the holidays again with a more mainstream seasonal favorite: A Christmas Story.

As an extra treat, here are a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut for me but are still worth a watch:

Santa’s Slay (2005) – Starring Bill Goldberg (yes, the pro-wrestler) as Santa. Chock full of quippy one-liners and the murder of a whiny Fran Drescher in the first 5 minutes.

Tales From The Crypt (1972) – Another great anthology film from Amicus Studios, the segment “And All Through The House” featuring Joan Collins would later be remade as an episode of HBO’s Tales From The Crypt TV series.

Sint (Saint) (2010) – In this offering from the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) is portrayed as a murderous bishop who returns on every full moon December 5th to kill anyone in his path. I didn’t really dig it, but I have several friends that do.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987) – “GARBAGE DAY!!” . . . Need I say more?

Have any of your own favorites that didn’t make my list? Share them in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

On that note: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. “

An Early Christmas Treat Added To The Archives!

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Seasons Greetings, Fright Fans! To give everyone a chance to share in the Christmas spirit and the spirits in general over the coming holiday weekend, we decided to post some of the archiving episodes out of order and give you one of our personal faves from last year.

With that, we give you Episode 77: “Dreaming Of A Tight Christmas.” This is our intoxicated commentary track for that Christmas horror classic, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT we recorded last year. Enjoy!

An Evening with “Get Out” Writer-Director Jordan Peele, Moderated by Larry Wilmore

by Joe Meyers

On December 14th, 2017 the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, CA hosted a screening of “Get Out”, with a post-film Q&A with writer-director Jordan Peele and moderated by Larry Wilmore . The event was co-presented by the Writers Guild of America West as part of the “Groundbreakers screening series.” *The following will contain extensive spoilers about the film, including the ending.*

GetOut_FINAL_SM_1024x1024Poster by Francesco Francavilla

This was the second time I’d screened “Get Out” at the cinema, and it was my third viewing over all.  It was already in my top ten favorite films of 2017 before this viewing, but it might have now cemented a place in my top five. What really struck me was how the movie still held me under its spell, despite already knowing what was to come. When Catherine Keener‘s Missy Armitage first places Chris Washington, played flawlessly by Daniel Kaluuya, in “The Sunken Place” I still felt the panic for the character that I did the first time. When Chris tries to leave the Armitage home, my pulse was still racing and heart pounding while Allison Williams‘ Rose Armitage toys with him about finding the car keys. Many films with “twists” tend not to hold my attention on repeated viewings because the entire film is seemingly built around that one moment. My reactions proved to me “Get Out” is much more than its reveal of what the Armitages, and their cult like “secret society”, are up to with The Coagula Procedure. It’s not only enjoyable upon repeated viewings, but it might be even better. 

After the screening Larry Wilmore introduced Jordan Peele for a roughly hour long talk about the film, from its conception, to the writing process, casting, and Jordan’s experiences filming his first feature. Jordan was candid about everything that went into creating the finished film, and what follows are some highlights of that conversation.

  • The original spark leading to “Get Out” came from a dream Jordan had. He was walking through a bank lobby when suddenly the sound dropped out. When he turned around everyone in the lobby was starring directly at him in silence. Jordan called this a “fear of unwanted attention”, and when “Get Out” evolved into a horror movie about race he tied this fear to his experiences as “the only black guy at a party.”

 

  • Jordan worked on the outline of the film for five years before pitching and selling the idea. Even though little had been written down, he had the entire film in his head. Some of the biggest hurdles with writing the script came from getting, and keeping, the correct tone.  He didn’t want to veer into a Wayans brothers parody, but Jordan also didn’t want it to tread into “Funny Games” territory, which he deemed “too dark, and unpleasant.”

 

  •  He summed up the vibe he was going for as exploring the premise of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with the tone of “The Stepford Wives” and the meta-commentary on the horror genre of “Scream.”

 

  • While the film’s target audience was African-Americans, Jordan didn’t want to alienate the rest of his audience. So, he worked to approach showing that point of view in a way that would promote empathy by drawing everyone into having “the black experience” while watching the movie. This led to Larry Wilmore congratulating us all on being “honorary black people for the last ninety minutes.”

 

  • Jordan listed Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Quentin Tarantino among his “director inspirations” for “Get Out.” He went on to talk about how he always believed the best movie ever would be from combining Spielberg and Kubrick, and that he considers Tarantino to be one of the most influential directors of his generation.

 

  • “The Sunken Place” was conceived as a representation of oppression. In his mind this was a stand in for systematic racism, the true monster in “Get Out”, as well as the prison industrial complex, lack of representation in the film industry, and lack of representation in the horror genre.

 

  • Jordan was careful to allow the film to build tension, with strategically placed releases. To him the most effective horror films build terror throughout, and the ones that don’t tend to be scarier in the beginning, but far less so in the final act. He named “The Blair Witch Project” as a perfect example where “nothing happens the whole film, and then it ends with a guy standing in a corner” but it pulled audiences in by building a sense of dread, and allowing their imaginations to fill in the gaps.

 

  • A back story was generated for the “secret society” depicted in the film. In Jordan’s mind they were descendants of the Knights Templar. Instead of gaining eternal life via the Holy Grail, they worked to use science to perfect what became Coagula. Instead of bidding money in the “BINGO scene”, he imagined they were bidding priceless artifacts they would have inherited down through the generations. 

 

  • One of the genre tropes Jordan wanted to explore, and exploit, was the “white savior trope.” Audiences are so used to having at lease one white person in the film be the “good guy”, he used that in an attempt to keep suspicion away from Rose. In an earlier draft of the script Rose attempted to talk Chris out of leaving after the family dinner scene. Jordan realized that was a dead give away that she was evil. After that she became the one challenging the police office after their accident with the deer, the one pointing out the casual racism her family displayed, and not trying to talk him out of leaving when Chris decided it was time to go.

 

  • Casting was just as important as finding the correct tone. At first Jordan resisted hiring anyone for the role of Chris who wasn’t African-American. He felt they needed to have lived the experience in order to effectively play the character. During a Skype conversation with Daniel Kaluuya, Jordan realized Daniel “got it on a primal level.” Daniel recounted his experiences with racism, being wrongfully arrested, and being the only black guy in a space. At that point Jordan conceded this wasn’t an exclusively American phenomenon, and allowed Daniel to audition.

 

  • In his audition Daniel performed the scene where Chris is first hypnotized by   Missy Armitage. Jordan said it was so perfect he could have just recorded it, and put it right into the film.

 

  • LilRel Howery as Rod Williams, was allowed to ad lib while filming. Jordan said LilRel still delivered the scripted dialogue but it came off better, more natural, when he told him to “do it your way.” 

 

  • While Rod was used for comic relief, and a tension release, Jordan was careful to never have him be a joke, or be jokey. He wanted Rob to be grounded, realistic, and a voice for what the audience may be thinking as events unfolded.

 

  • An audience member questioned why an Asian man was present at the Armitage party, when everyone else was white. Jordan explained that there was no real deep meaning to that, but he did want to show that their secret society was small and localized. He also wanted to give a nod to the Asian photographer at the end of “Rosemary’s Baby.”

 

  • The original ending had Chris killing Rose on the road during his attempted escape. Instead of Rod showing up, the police do, and Chris is arrested for murder. The movie ended with a flash forward to six months later and Chris in prison. Jordan felt he had to make a statement here as during the Obama era he didn’t think real conversations about race were taking place.

 

  • This ending was shown at test screenings, and it wasn’t well received. Jordan decided to rework the conclusion to what it is now. He said he was still able to address what he wanted to because the audience’s initial reaction to seeing the police vehicle lights is thinking that is how the movie would end.

Jordan’s reason for making “Get Out” was that he wanted to see his favorite horror movie that didn’t exist yet. Hopefully he keeps that mindset throughout his career, because it more than served him well here. He’s certainly on my list of “must watch” writer-directors now, and a much-needed voice in the industry.