Archive for » March, 2010 «

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I wrote about this back in September but as you can see above, it’s now become a reality! That’s right, this past weekend I was handed an editors proof of Dark: A Horror Anthology to gawk over and maybe drool on a bit. (Just a bit, promise Bryan.)

While I’ve had a few stories published before such as “A Fine Line” at the now defunct Sonar 4 Ezine and “Jackboots for Jesus” in The Jack, this is the first time I’ve had one bound up all nice and purdy for people to actually…you know…go out and buy! While you can’t go out and buy it quite yet, you’ll have your chance here very soon! And you really should. There’s some really great friends and authors included in this anthology such as Steve Wands, Derek Koch, Bryan Wolford and a whole lot more!

At any rate, we’re down to a matter of a few weeks before “Dark: A Horror Anthology” is officially available for purchase. If you’re vaguely interested in laying your eyes on my story “Deep Lies the Murky Floor” or would just like to inflate my fragile ego just a bit to keep me from collapsing into a sobbing mess, be sure to stay tuned for once the book is officially for sale!

Cause you can be damn sure I’m going to brag about it.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Over this past weekend I attended the Horrorhound Weekend convention with my friends and family at Bloody Good Horror. There we maintained a booth to promote the Bloody Good Horror Podcast which I do declare a bloody success, thanks in part to my own buttocks reducing efforts in working the crowds and lines to make sure everyone had a promo card in hand!

As always, the weekend was great and I met a multitude of friends, made a ton of new friends, as well as meeting a ton of fans which makes this whole little effort feel all the more worthwhile. In addition to this, I was able to meet a number of industry folks that were all pretty spectacular in their own rights which helped to make this past weekend the best Horrorhound yet. Among these folks were Daniel Roebuck who manages to retain his title as the nicest guy in Hollywood, complete with his excitement for signing a head shot for my daughter and the lovely Catherine Mary Stewart whom it’s safe to say I had a crush on every since I saw “Night of the Comet” when I was about eleven years old. As great as these two were though, none of them matched the giddy excitement I felt building up inside of me to finally get to meet a personal idol and thank him for inspiring me to dive into horror writing. That honor belongs to Joe Bob Briggs.

Many of you reading this today will take one look at the picture up above and it will all make sense. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Others will scratch your head and figure I’m just rambling on again and move on to greener pastures. From the early days of TNT’s MonsterVision, Joe Bob’s take on exploitation and B-Movie cinema has been a voice I’ve always connected to and strove to emulate in some shape or form. Moving through the years I was able to pour through his books such as Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In and Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies That Changed History opened my eyes to a world of cinema I was yet unaware of.

Needless to say, I was a bit of a nervous mess when I first approached his table! It took two tries to finally ask for a picture, but I did and you can see the proof above. On my first approach, I managed to simply shake his hand and thank him for his years of writing and his influence on my own career as a writer. On the second approach, I nervously asked for a picture to which he was more than happy to oblige. All in all, it was a great event in my own small little world of movie writing and I managed to not make an ass of myself accomplishing my task!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Drive-in Horrorshow is a nifty little indie anthology flick that’s working its way into the market. It’s won a few film festival awards but unless you were in attendance for one of these, you may not have heard about it. I’m hoping to remedy that for ya. Thanks to Charlie over at Movie Fan House who put me in touch with the film makers, I was able to get my hands on a screener of this one which proved to be a good thing.

Made up of your standard wrap around featurette and five separate shorts, “Drive-in Horroshow” uses a classic formula to serve up some scares. The five shorts that make up the movie, “Pig”, “The Closet”, “Fall Apart”, “The Meat Man”, and “The Watcher” all vary in matters of quality, but manage to entertain too. Like all anthologies, some of the shorts are more enjoyable than others, but combine to make a good combo platter. The highlight of the DVD is “The Horrorshow”, the wrap around that pulls all of the shorts together. There’s not much of an overarching plot, but it’s packed with some good jokes and sight gags to lightens the mood while making you cringe a bit as well. Luis Negron who plays The Horrorshow’s “The Projectionist” makes a great throw back to corny horror hosts we all remember from late night TV which makes the whole package feel like exactly that; an old late night creature feature.

Each short involved is direct and to the point, which is exactly what you need in a short horror film. They waste little time in getting to what you want to see, which is a bit of blood and guts and a resolved plot. Highlights of the mini movies include “The Closet” on the high end, a funny little bit of angsty youth and over bearing parents. I laughed hardest at this one and it’s pretty easy to relate to our pre-pubescent lead. On the low end is “Fall Apart” which has a pretty different tone and pacing to it which may throw you out of the groove setup by “Pig” and “The Closet”. It’s still a good short, it just needs time to mature. By the time it gets rolling, there’s some great hand crafted gore going on and manages to be worthy. The final short in the movie, “The Watcher” stars two past “Survivor” winners Jenna Morasca and Ethan Zohn. This uh…’star power’ doesn’t really add anything special to the movie, but they do all right.

“Drive-in Horrorshow” is pretty great as far as low-budget anthologies go. When you look at this particular area of horror films, the low-budget end, the anthology package is a great way to go. It allows film makers to get some product out there and for the inexperienced of the set, lets them play with their plots a bit without getting too carried away. It gives some structure to work in which I think is a pretty good lesson to learn when first starting out directing films.

Worth a laugh and worth the nostalgia from a good throw back to the late night creature feature.

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Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Troma has a long history of picking up indie movies for distribution. It’s a good service for the indie movie world. The’ve released a ton of movies we’ve never heard of from film makers we might never have met otherwise. Over the years, this has resulted in a few hits, quite a few misses and a few movies I’m still scratching my head over. In the case of their recent release of Bob Gray’s “Bigfoot”, they’re swinging for the fences, but knocking out windshields in the parking lot behind home plate.

The opening twenty minuts of “Bigfoot” are misleading. Other than a nice throw back opening with cute animals and our first glimpse of Bigfoot himself, we don’t really see anything happen for nearly twenty five minutes. As a matter of fact, this first act felt oddly like an after school special. Corny dialogue, odd hints at some underlying morale, bad music and a watered down love at first sight side bar…for a moment there I forgot I was wathcing a bigfoot movie. You would think that all of this would combine to make for some really horrible cinema; it actually brings a bit of campy charm that feels like its just subtle enough to be hilarious. Great in small doses for sure. They never really get away from this tone though and it begins to feel like a chore by around the thirty minute mark. Let’s be honest with our selves here; we’re not watching this disk for a deep story, we’re here to watch bigfoot tear shit up.

Eventually we get around to bringing the true star of the show to the fore front. For makeup, the film makers were actually spot on with their ape man costume. I’ve seen a lot of poor attempts at a bigfoot getup, (See: Shriek of the Mutilated) but Bob Gray’s version of the mythical beast of lore is actually pretty great. He’s rugged and weathered, definitley scary if you ran into him in a dark woods. Until you see him move. It’s then that we see him for what he really is; a man in a suit. A man in a suit who appears to be dancing softly in the high beams of your headlights. When not dancing, he’s attacking the local wildlife and eventually the humans populating the town of Morton. When he does this, there is no great flurry of action or a large splatter of blood and guts. There’s simply a shot of the sasquatch, a human screaming a bit, and guts laid out on the ground. It could have been so much better.

I’m a big supporter of low-budget film making; there’s a lot of good movies to be found out there in the genre. In the case of “Bigfoot”, there are a lot of decent elements at play here, but it feels like the ideas are given too much play. There are many scenes througout the movie that are cut too long. When Jack Sullivan hears the policeman on PA from the street, he turns to look for the source of the voice. That’s great. We don’t really need to watch the car slowly roll down the entire length of the driveway as Jack watches on. It’s moments like these that pull “Bigfoot” down and makes the movie a slog by the time we hit the final act. Sure, the plot is pretty straight forward and a bit hokey, but it’s solid enough for what they’re aiming for. The acting is pretty hammy and a bit stilted, but it’s good for the genre. As a matter of fact, Bob Gray as the town Sherriff is downright likeable! Unfotunately, it’s just not a very fun movie to watch. There is little to no chaos and violence.

Outside of a few good laughs and some over the top science cheese in an effort to explain Mr. Foot, “Bigfoot” is slow and overlong where it should have been jam packed with gore and action. Keep all your sub-plots and love interests; they work! Just thin them out and give the film a good bit of editing and a monster that is pissed off and violent. Not a hairy middle aged man on a long stroll in the woods.

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Friday, March 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Shot almost entirely out of pocket with no big studio distribution and no big name stars to back it up, “Ink” is an odd little film with an even odder little history on its way to home video. With pretty much everything behind the camera done by Jamin Winans, the film is very much a love project for the film maker. With perseverence Winans promoted the film to independent theaters himself as well as producing the DVD and Blu-ray packages which he sold himself as well. That wasn’t quite enough to bring the film to national attention. It wasn’t until “Ink” became the most downloaded movie on bit torrent sites with over 400,000 downloads in a single week that the DVD and Blu-ray sales started to climb with its large and unexpectedly exposed audience.

Where a lot of indie films come out looking very grainy and shot on a hand held camera, “Ink” looks near professional in comparison. The film drips with a dreamlike atmosphere that fits its story of dream-world warfare pretty much perfectly. Being more of a science fiction/fantasy film with dark tones, the special effects in the movie are rather well done too which surprises the viewers knowing the budget behind the film. It’s rare you seen a low budget independent movie with this kind of technical skill behind it. It stands out and helps to make the movie memorable.

The story is no slouch either, feeling much like a dark fairy tale complete with a morale and everything! The storytellers, the invisible people that bring us good dreams at night are at war with the nightmare people. The battles are fairly easily contained until the eponymous Ink comes to steal a young blond haired girl from her slumber, to offer as sacrifice to The Assembly. Ink, disfigured and scarred, wants to be one of the nightmare people as it is all he has to live for; this little girl is his ticket in. In the real world, the little girl has long been seperated from her father for some time. After her mothers death, dad became a high powered business man with a drinking problem, losing his daughter to her grandparents. When she falls ill in the real world due to her abduction in the land of dreams, dad must make the ultimate choice and realize who he truly is inside.

Sounds pretty deep doesn’t it? It really is and it actually is very engaging throughout. Low budget films are always ambitious in their story telling ways, but often become lost in their own dreams of granduer. For “Ink”, the plot stays on track and keeps moving, albeit at a slower dreamlike pace than one would normally expect in a film involving wars between good and bad dream people. At times the film feels a bit over stretched and slower than needed, especially towards the end of the film. These moments do not last long though and overall, manage to capture your fancy from beginning to end.

For a film of this type, “Ink” is quite possibly one of the best films I’ve seen in the no-budget/no-studio genre. Failing to appear as a hand made film by Joe Schmoe and his buddies, it is put together really well and tells a magical little story to boot. Check it out, you’ll be surprised!

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Friday, March 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

We’re exactly one week away from 2010′s Horrorhound Weekend and the excitement has begun. This years convention should be one for the history books folks. I myself will be attending with the rest of the Bloody Good Horror Podcast crew and a sizeable chunk of our writing staff as well! If you’re coming by, do feel free to stop at our table and say hello!

This is always one of the highlights of the year for myself and I expect this year to be the best yet. While the horror memorabilia and meeting celebrities is great, the true greatness is spending a weekend with a ton of good friends I’ve made over the past few years as a horror blogger/podcaster. It may not be apparent at first glance, but the network of blogs and podcasts out there are actually a pretty tight knit family full of great people. Expect ample amounts of bad movies, bad beer and more as the weekend progresses!

On slate this year too is a pretty great guest list as well. As any true nerd should, I’ve already begun preparations on who I’m planning on meeting and getting pictures with this year! (I’m not much of an autograph kind of guy.) George Romero and Clive Barker are both high on the list, both being the icons of horror that they are. The shear amount of creative output that have come from both of these men is definitely something to look up to. In addition to them, I’m definitely looking forward to meeting some of the actors such as David Hess and Sid Haig as well as film making luminaries such as Lloyd Kaufmann and bad movie afficianado and critic extrodinaire, Joe Bob Briggs! All of them pale in comparison however to finally getting to meet Elvira.

Pardon me, I’m a little verklempt.

So once again, if you’re heading to Indianapolis next weekend for the Horrorhound Weekend show, be sure to stop by the Bloody Good Horror table and say hi! I’ll be the big one surrounded by the merry band of dwarves.

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Thursday, March 18th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Just wanted to throw a note up here for any new visitors we have stopping by from Final Girl’s Bloggenaire that I have actually been writing a lot lately, just not all of it here!

Do feel free to check out my features at Bloody Good Horror and my new more personal/writing blog Excess Thinkage!

I hope you enjoy! And as always, comments are always welcome!

Bloody Good Horror

8 Hotel Horrors
10 Horror Tinged Fairy Tales
10 Horror Video Games
9 Insane Asylum Movies
8 Other Shapeshifters

Excess Thinkage

There’s a Bigfoot in my Backyard
The Force is Strong in This One…
Final Fantasy XIII: My First Hour
A Weekend Well Spent

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Jump over to Final Girl’s awesome blog and take a gander at my entry for Stacie’s Bloggenaire today! She’s highlighted a lot of awesome horror bloggers over there in recent weeks and I’m thrilled she asked me to play along!

Need some more Final Girl in your life? Be sure to check out her new podcast The Scarening with Heidi Martinuzzi and her excellent column at AMC’s Monsterfest Blog!

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Not content to let his son hog all the comic book glory, Stephen King has officially thrown his hat into the ring with American Vampire at Vertigo Comics. Teaming up with writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque, King has agreed to share pen duties through the books first five issue story arc.

“Witness the birth of a brand new species of vampire in this new ongoing series that begins with five extra-sized issues featuring back-to-back stories by exciting new writer Scott Snyder and the master of horror himself, Stephen King! When notorious outlaw Skinner Sweet is attacked by an old enemy (who happens to be a member of the undead), the first American vampire is born… a vampire powered by the sun, stronger, fiercer, and meaner than anything that came before. Plus… Pearl Jones is a struggling young actress in 1920s Los Angeles. But when her big break brings her face-to-face with an ancient evil, her Hollywood dream quickly turns into a brutal, shocking nightmare.”

Sure, Vampires are now officially done to death, but one can hope that somebody like King could help give it a bit of a twist at the very least. After reading the first issue of this new series, he actually hasn’t done too bad! For the first book, we get two stories packaged together with one common character. Snyder fronts the first tale with “Big Break”, the story of a small town girl trying to make it big in Hollywood while King gives us “Bad Blood”, an old west yarn turned origin story. Both stories manage to be gripping enough to hold your attention and set the stage for what seems like it’s going to be a solid series. The characters are nice and manage to have just enough cliche to fit the part without being overdone. You have to expect a bit because these are essentially pulp stories which relies on cliche as it is!

With only one issue so far, “American Vampire” isn’t quite enough to blow my mind like Hill’s Locke & Key did, but it is a strong start. We don’t learn a whole lot about our vampires as of yet, but we do get just enough detail to prove that these aren’t going to be your typical vamps, which is nice. They don’t sparkle either!

“American Vampire” hits shelves today weighing in at a jumbo sized 40 pages. Definitely worth a pick up when you head out to the shops this week!

Tuesday, March 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Much like my friend Louis, I can’t pass up a chance at finding some cheap genre flicks on DVD or whatever. While I don’t have the fortune of a Big Lots near by like Louis does, I did happen across a Movie Gallery store that was closing up shop on my weekend travels. Generally by the time I find out a movie store is closing, the pickings are already slim and I don’t even bother. Especially when I’m just passing through town. This time though, the sun was bright, the air was warm and something whispered in my ear that I should stick my head into the closing Movie Gallery I passed on Friday on my way back through Kokomo, IN. And I’m quite glad I did, as you can see!

My little side trip netted me 6 DVD’s and two Blu-ray disks, and I’d say I did rather well! Amongst the spoils were May, that creepy little and awesome little feature starring Angela Bettis. I must add, this is one of my all time favorite horror flicks right here! Why I didn’t have it on DVD yet? Couldn’t tell ya. How about a good copy of Cemetary Man starring that hunk of man Rupert Everett? I couldn’t pass up a Beyond Re-Animator since Jefferey Coombs is the king of B-horror. And Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is just an all around good time. I couldn’t just go with the well knowns though, so i had to experiment a bit too. Amongst the experimentation was Chainsaw Sally that the Ms. saw a few years back and like a lot as well as Sasquatch Mountain. On this last one, I’ll give you two reasons and you go with the one you like best. 1. I’ve got some plans in mind for an upcoming Sasquatch horror story, so I figured this would make for some research. 2. I freaking love Lance Henriksen in a horror flick and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As for Blu-ray titles, I didn’t find in horror movies that I didn’t already have or that looked appealing. (“Twilight” is not horror.) So, I grabbed two flicks that I love a lot. First up was Ray Stevens in The Punisher: War Zone which I still think is the best big screen adaptation of the character to date! I stand firm by that thought too! In addition to this, I added one of my favorite movies of the 2000′s, Pineapple Express, to finally upgrade my well worn DVD copy! There was a time that my own mother used to watch “Hoosiers” every Saturday when she cleaned the house. My house cleaning movie is “Pineapple Express”.

Overall, a pretty damn nice haul for just under $35 and a chance stop in a town we were merely passing through!

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