WHERE HAS JOHN G. JONES BEEN FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS?

Amityville boyJohn G. Jones was a musician, composer, and producer — Australian by birth, in America by choice — when he first met George and Kathy Lutz. Almost against his will, they persuaded him to tell the continuing story of what happened to the family from Amityville, New York after they escaped the most evil haunted house of the twentieth century.

He wrote a series of harrowing and revealing novels about the evil that escaped from Amityville and continued to plague them for years. He became an internationally renowned, best-selling author in North America, Europe, and around the world.

And then … he disappeared.

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GONE BUT SHOULDN’T BE FORGOTTEN: THE PET

Every year there are a few great thrillers or horror movies that get made, get poorly distributed, and sink beneath the unending tidal wave (or title wave, really) of New Stuff … often Inferior Stuff, but still, the tide never stops.

Such is the case with Pet, a truly disturbing thriller/horror film with some outstanding work by Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo and a twisty-turny screenplay by Jeremy Slater. It stars out predictably enough, with your kind’a standard creepy guy stalking pretty girl, kidnapping her and locking her away for his torment and pleasure … but then it gets really weird. The stalker, it turns out, isn’t all that great at stalking, and there is much, much more to the pretty, ‘innocent’ girl than you imagine.

Monaghan has come a long way from the slightly clueless affability if Lord of the Rings and Lost. And Solo, who was so convincingly charming and wuirky as Kenzi in Lost Girl, shows unexpected depth and danger here. Makes you want to go back and watch the otherwise inconsequential Turn, where she’s been a regular, just to see what else the woman can do. Meanwhile screenwriter Slater, who started with the please-forget-it Fantastic Four, has been one of the driving forces behind the surprisingly good Exorcist series; and in between the depth of FF and the relative heights of possessing little girls, he put together a piece that faithfully follows and then gleefully breaks all the rules of this ugly and effective little subgenre.

Pet is rentable for $3.99 in the SD version on Amazon, here. And you can get a hint of what it’s about from the trailer below. You’ll see competence, skillful acting and directing, and familiarity … right up to the last few shots. So pay attention … and watch it when you can.

 

LET’S CALL THIS THE FINAL WORD ON THE OLD AND NEW DOCTOR WHO

Its been an … interesting run for Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. Looking back, he’s probably the most ill-served actor to come into the series since, arguably, Colin Baker … or maybe ever. His first few episodes (or seasons) are generally held as among the weakest since the series was revived, full of poor plotting, self-referential chaos and mugging. About the only good thing in all of it was Capaldi himself, whose sheer force of personality kept people (at least some people) watching. Only with the arrival of the newly female Master/Missy did things begin to turn around. And then this season, with the introduction (however temporary!) of Bill and Nardole, as well as the integration of Missy deep into the ‘last’ plot line … well, finally, finally, Capaldi got the cast, the story, and the show he deserved.

Of course everything’s back in an uproar now with Capaldi’s departure and that arrival of that woman, but during a recent appearance at a panel at SDCC Capaldi himself gave the best summary of his stint in the TARDIS and, I think, put us back on the right track. And also reminded us why, despite all the dreck that was pitched at him on and off camera, he really was a damn fine Doctor. Take a look:

 

WYRMWOOD TV: EVEN BETTER THAN THE MOVIE?

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since Wymwood: Road of the Dead crashed into the world of zombie post-apocalypse film — one of the very best of the genre since, well, forever, and right up there with post-apoc films in general, from Road Warrior forward.

If you haven’t seen the original movie, it’s available on Netflix and VOD. It’s well worth a look or even a re-look, especially now, because it looks like there’s a Wyrmwood TV show coming, moving from film to TV like Evil Dead before it.

If this first six-minute clip is any indication, we are in for a great new series. And it looks from the clip like all the major players are back, including the basically incredible Bianca Bradley and Meganne West.

Enjoy. Wait. Beware …

SCARY STORIES FROM KATY TOWEL ARE …. WELL … SKARY

Katy Towel is an amazing animator of eerie shorts that are absolutely unsettling. She even does the equally odd audio herself. Here’s a perfect (and perfectly creepy) example:

If you like this — and how could you not? — there’s plenty more. Recently the remarkably bizarre Ms. Towel has been branching out. There are a few books: Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrowand Charlie and the Grandmothers. She’s also just started a podcast, The Book of Skaryand has even just started a Patreon account. Meanwhile, there are a zillion great videos to watch and shudder over.

Get more info and awful inspiration, read her blog and sign up for her newsletter at skary.com. She’s the best-kept secret in the country of the odd.

BATES MOTEL OPENING FOR ONE FINAL, FRIGHTENING SEASON

Bates Motel has been an unexpected pleasure since its beginning. Expectations were understandably low before its first-season premiere: yet another reboot or lame-ass prequel of a treasured classic; one more chance to crap on tradition.

But not this time. This time Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore made something special out of the cool, dreamy (as in “nightmarish”) thriller that Alfred Hitchcock produced so long ago. Within minutes, viewers stopped making comparisons, stopped anticipating inside jokes that would crack the concept wide open. Instead, they got something entirely new and, strangely enough, unpredictable. Not to mention more than a little addictive.

Now, five years later, it’s all about to end. Bates Motel is ending its run by retelling the original Psycho on its own terms, in a way that segues out of the quiet madness of the last four years and into something that promises to be both hauntingly familiar and wonderfully new.

And, of course, creepy as hell.

Need proof? Here’s the last known promo for the new season, and lovely and quiet little artifact of the odd, all by itself.

The new, final season begins Monday, Feb. 20.

 

 

THE LAST BROKEN DARKNESS: A BEAUTIFUL APOCALYPSE

Beauty — or something that could almost pass for elegance — are rare on film at all, and even more rare in movies about the apocalypse. Christopher-Lee dos Santoss’ The Last Broken Darkness is the first truly stylish post-apoc tale since, perhaps, Joon-Ho Bong’s Snowpiercer. It also looks desperate, hypnotic, and pretty darn fascinating.

Christoper-Lee do Santos is a South African prodigy whose completed his first feature film in his mid-twenties. Now he’s exploriong a world of his own making: an Earth long after a devastating storm of meteroes have literally broken the planet, and drive the last few survivors underground, into silo’s and cellars. But now somthing mor is killing the few remainign humans — something even worse that what drove them into the darkness in the first place.

The Last Broken Darkness stars Sean Camera Michael, a formidably tough-looking fellow you might recognize from Black Sails or the USA Cable series Shooter. Darkness is awaiting a release date, but here is its very impressive trailer:

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE IS A WHOLE NEW KIND OF CREEPY

Trollhunter, way back in 2010, was a rulebreaker when it came to horror genrification. It was sort of a found footage/mockumentary, but done with such a deft and realistic touch that you didn’t really think of it that way. It was a monster movie, too, and a fantasy with a whole set of fairly elaborate rules. But there wasn’t a fairy or magic spell to be seen. It was even a satire, in a way, about bureacracy, government regulation, and human denial. It was also a bit of a cult phenom, and it’s popular even today.

Now André Øvredal, the director of Trollhunter, is returning with a new film that looks like the same kind of rulebreaker. It might be a zombie movie. It might be a medical thriller. It might be nothing of the kind. All we know for sure is that Øvredal is firmly in control,a nd that there are some recognizable and very talented actors in this one: Brian Cox (brilliant Canadian charcter actor you’ll remember him as Agamemnon in Troy, Stryker in a couple of X-Men movies, Langrishe in Deadwood, and of course the voice of the Green Dragon in Scooby Doo and the Samurai Sword) and Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown, Speed Racer). 

Even Øvredal’s pathway to this project is unconventional. The story goes that he was inspired to do a horror movie after attending a screening of The Conjuring. He immediately called his agent and told them that they should try and find a good horror script for him. A month later they showed him this script and he was immediately interested.

And here we are. The tense and mysterious trailer gives us just a hint of what might be hiding in the morgue, and frankly … it’s pretty cool:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe appears in a limited number of dark rooms near you on December 21

DON’T MOVE: ANOTHER SCARY SHORT

Don’t confuse this with Don’t Breathe or Lights Out. It’s an unsettling little short all its own, one of the artifacts from a Chilling Tales for Dark Nightsa fascinating YouTube channel that actually hides some gold.

There are a lot of great things in this piece: a rich story, some good scares, and a world around the story that makes you want more — more, in fact, than the aforementioned Lights Out, which got itself made into a full-length movie. Frankly this dark little gem, from writer David Scullion and director Anthony Melton, should be next in line.

Take a look … but do it with the lights on.

 

… and let us know what you think! Check out Chilling Tales… for more. And special thanks to Jose Omar Contreras for pointing us towards this weird beauty.

FLEX: AN ELECTRIC, SURPRISING, SMART AS HELL URBAN FANTASY

… only $1.99 on Kindle right now.

flex-144dpiThe vast, depressing majority of ‘urban fantasy’ these days is just half-hearted noir in fantasy drag, with orcs taking the place of gunsels, damsels instead of dames, elves as substitute street creeps, and magic bolts as stand-ins for pistols. Most of it, therefore, is not very good and there’s way too much of it.

Then, once in a while, something really worthwhile shows up. Like Flex, the first in a new series by the amazingly named  Ferrett Steinmetz. It’s the first book in the ‘Mancer series, and its rules are simple and devastating: not only does magiv exist in the modern world, side-by-side with modern life, it has horrible consequences. Every act of ‘mancy rips a hole in probability and reality; it’s already reduced Europe to a violent wasteland, and America is well on its way. ‘Mancers are rounded up and either bent to the government’s will or imprisoned, and yet more are showing up all the time. The genie, quite literally,c an’t be put back in the bottle. And worse is coming…

Steinmetz is a damn strong writer. His imagery is vivid, his ideas are uncommon and unexpected, and there is a welcome relentless logic to the world he’s created. If you’re going to make magic ‘real,’ he seems to be saying, it has rules … and the rules can bring tragedy as well as power — no exceptions.

 

Flex is the first in the ‘Mancer series, and it a semi-brilliant attempt to make new addicts, you can get it for a mere $1.99 on Kindle, right now Just click here and get a copy. With so much imitation and repetition out there, it’s a joy to find a new set of stories that are neither of the above.

Let us know what you think.

 

AFTERMATH: A POTENT POST-APOCALYPSE SHORT WORTH WATCHING

Short subjects are enjoying a bit of a renaissance these days, but sadly most of them — especially in the horror and speculative genres — are either highly imitative or just plain poorly made. Not so with Aftermath, a twenty-minute tale set ina near-future ice age that has more to say — like most good post-apoc stories — about humans and their strengths and weaknesses that it does about the blood and guts and big ol’ explosions at the end of the world.

It comes from filmmaker Jeremy Robbins, and it’s definitely worth a look:

 

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