Monday, March 14, 2016

Come Check Out The New Site!

As of now, The Horror Revolution hosted at Blogspot is closed. Come check out the new site at . I've transferred everything you know and love from this site over, and it looks awesome! Send me your thoughts, and better yet, visit all the time!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dread: The Study Of Terror

Synopsis: College researchers decide to study the feeling of dread, tracing its roots and causes. Eventually, they decide to delve deeper, forcing their subjects to face their fears head on.

I recently watched the movie Dread, one of the 8 Films To Die For. I'm a huge fan of the film series, and I love their support of indie filmmakers of the horror variety. Most of these films we wouldn't have seen otherwise, so After Dark's production and distribution is a huge benefit to the genre as a whole and indie filmmakers specifically. This film was also based on a short story by Clive Barker, one of the original masters of horror, and was part of his immensely popular Books of Blood. I'm a huge fan of his as well, and, incidentally, this was one of my favorites from his works. Needless to say, between the branding from After Dark and the Barker connections, I was super excited to see this story committed to celluloid.

Dread is essentially the story of a man whose family was murdered by a madman with an ax, leading him to a lifelong fascination with the feeling of dread. He teams up with a pair of research videographers to study people's worst fears, and documents everything for a final school project. It becomes clear before too long that the man has some serious issues, and he lets it get in the way of their research in some pretty serious ways. In making his "patients" face their fears, he realizes that "to know the death of others intimately is a clue to death's nature, and might prepare a man for his own death." We realize that our antihero's sense of dread comes from death itself, and that that's what he fears the most.

The movie, as well as the story itself, manage to concisely display the biggest component of the horror genre as a whole. It's not always a matter of what we're afraid of so much as why. If we can answer this question, we can know exactly where to hit our audiences, and what tactics evoke that visceral, gut reaction that horror aficionados hold most dear. Fortunately, while the topics that conjure these feelings are different for everyone, the atmosphere in which they're most effective often doesn't change. This films plays well on those, and brings to life a truly interesting concept.

The film itself wasn't a huge hit, and it's not one that will fit nicely with every fan of the genre, but I thought it worked well. It managed to stay relatively true to the book while carrying some of the more impactful scenes well (the bleach/brillo pad bath scene in particular, as well as the newly discovered cure for vegetarianism). The best part was the actual project itself, which opened a window into the soul of fear in these characters. It would be an interesting real life study as well, but I don't believe I'd take part after seeing this film: I'd prefer not to be chased down by chainsaw wielding clowns while also being chased by bees to test the theory.

The actors did well, and Shaun Evans' Quaid was particularly faithful to the book. He was genuinely creepy, and very much did the character justice. I generally don't enjoy movie adaptations of books, but this one was surprisingly effective. Anthony DiBlasi's direction managed to make this an adequate adaptation of Barker's idea, and it's definitely one of my favorites of the 8 Films To Die For series that I've seen. It's an interesting concept, one that I'd love to see explored further.

Bottom Line: Decent flick, definitely give it a go, especially if you're a fan of the other 8 Films To Die For or indie horror in general. Read Barker's Books of Blood as well; they're great as a whole, and this story is excellent in particular. 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Aussie Horror: The Loved Ones

Synopsis: After turning down an invitation to a dance, a teen with a death wish finds out that some people don't take no for an answer. Will his unrequited suitor grant his wish?

The Loved Ones is a movie I've wanted to watch for a long time, but is almost impossible to find in my neck of the woods. I literally have never seen it in stores, not once. So, like all hard to find objects du jour, I took to eBay and found it immediately. I'm incredibly glad that I did, because this became an instant classic in disturbing cinema to me.

Director Sean Byrne manages to put together an incredibly creepy and disturbing film about a shy girl who invites an attached boy to prom. When he turns her down because he already has a date, she enlists the help of her maybe creepier father to kidnap the boy and throw a prom of her own, complete with power tools and bleach, and maybe a little incest to top it all off. The film was decently gruesome, and the acting, especially Robin McLeavy's character (Lola, pictured above), was top-notch. She's pretty attractive, but I don't know that she'll ever be able to get a (willing) date again after this film. Xavier Samuel (Brent), the arguable star of the show otherwise known for parts in Fury (the Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf tank movie) and Twilight: Eclipse, is fantastic, though his actual dialogue is limited due to... well, you'll have to watch for that part.

The creepiest character, to me, is John Brumpton's "Daddy", an incestuous father who just can't say no to his little girl. As we delve deeper into the film and learn this isn't the first time these things have happened (not giving away much there, really), we see a dark and troubled relationship where this behavior has been passed down. In fact, "Bright Eyes," the mother in this scenario, very well might've experienced the same treatment Brent is undergoing through most of the film. Like father, like daughter I suppose. Brumpton really does kill this role, no pun intended, and his brilliant portrayal is terrifyingly believable. This is a family you most decidedly don't want to cross, and they make no attempts to hide it.

Daddy, get the hammer.
After viewing several nearly unwatchable movies as of late, this was a welcome return to form. I was delightfully disturbed, and left wondering if I'd do the same things for my daughter. I quickly decided that I would absolutely not, but it was nice to wonder for a while. The relationship between the father and his spoiled daddy's girl (ugh, the implications) is contrasted with the despair and ruination of the relationship between Brent and his mother, and the scene where Brent's torture is paired with his friend's bizarre first date with the girl of his dreams leaves us with a feeling that no one in this film is going to have a truly "happy" ending. The camerawork and editing was fantastic, with just enough gore to please, cutting away from the worst moments while still giving us a ticket to see something no one should have to. The score and sound editing lend to this nicely, building dramatic tension and a general sense of unease that never really ebbs away.

Ultimately, we are viewers of a man with a death wish learning that he doesn't actually want to die, and we are witnesses to the lengths that he will go to to remain alive. Contrast that with Lola's unrelenting story of desire and insanity, and we're left with a twisted treatise on the embodiments of life and death. The scenes are weaved beautifully together, and The Loved Ones comes together as a masterwork of terror. Could not be more pleased, it was everything I was looking for and more.

Tell me I'm pretty.
Bottom Line: The Loved Ones is awesome. I highly recommend checking it out if you can find it, and if you can't find it locally, buy it online like me. Excellent, haunting film, haven't stopped thinking about it for days. 4.5 stars out of 5.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Horror Revolution 2016 Oscar Forecast!

Tonight's the night everyone in Hollywood looks forward to year-round, where we gather up the whitest folks and give the some hardware. This year looks to be a thriller, with most of the top awards not viewed  as a lock for any nominee. Well, here at The Horror Revolution, we've got our own predictions. And here they are! In no particular order:

Category: Sound Editing
Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Winner: Mad Max

Too much sound in Mad Max not to win, though The Revenant could just win everything this year.

Category: Song
Nominees: Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey (The Weeknd, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio), Manta Ray from Racing Extinction (J. Ralph & Antony Hegarty), Simple Song #3 from Youth (David Lang), Til It Happens To You from The Hunting Ground (Diane Warren and Lady Gaga), Writing's On The Wall from Spectre (Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes)
Winner: Til It Happens To You from The Hunting Ground

Lady Gaga wins an Oscar here, which is awesome for her. Closest thing to a win for horror at these Oscars. I'm going with Til It Happens To You.

Category: Score
Nominees: Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman), Carol (Carter Burwell), The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone), Sicario (Johan Johannsson), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams, of course)
Winner: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight

I hope Morricone wins. I'm a big fan, and he definitely deserves it, but John Williams could absolutely take it from him as well.

Category: Production Design
Nominees: Bridge Of Spies, The Danish Girls, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant
Winner: Mad Max

Mad Max continues the annual tradition of giving a great film all of the smaller, less important Oscars to pave the way to give another film Best Actor and Best Director.

Category: Makeup And Hairstyling
Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, The Revenant
Winner: Mad Max

Max again, for the same reason as the previous category.

Category: Film Editing
Nominees: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Winner: The Big Short

I'm picking the upset here, lots are saying Mad Max is going to take this one too. I say this is one of the few The Big Short takes home.

Category: Costumer Design
Nominees: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant
Winner: Mad Max

I think Mad Max takes this one, though Cinderella could win too. I continue to say Max will win a handful of trophies, but won't take home any of the biggest awards.

Category: Cinematography
Nominees: The Hateful Eight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Sicario, Carol
Winner: The Revenant

The only thing more impressive in this movie than Leo and Inarritu is the cinematography. Revenant takes this one.

Category: Documentary
Nominees: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look Of Silence, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Winter On Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom
Winner: Amy

Amy Winehouse was fascinating, and she'll win Asif Kapadia an Oscar.

Category: Foreign Language Feature
Nominees: Embrace Of The Serpent, Mustang, Son Of Saul, Theeb, A War
Winner: Son of Saul

It's about the Holocaust, an Academy favorite topic. 

Category: Animated Feature
Nominees: Anomalisa, Boy And The World, Inside Out, Shaun The Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There
Winner: Inside Out

Academy tends to give all these to Disney/Pixar, and this won't be any different, though Sheep could upset.

Category: Original Screenplay
Nominees: Bridge Of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
Winner: Spotlight

Spotlight has to win here, just because it's a highly lauded movie that more than likely won't win anything else, but Straight Outta Compton could win the year's White Guilt Award. Unfortunately the only nomination for that fantastic film.

Category: Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room
Winner: The Big Short

The Big Short wins, although I could see Brooklyn pulling off the upset.

Category: Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, Rooney Mara for Carol, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, Kate Winslett for Steve Jobs
Winner: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

This one is a tight race between Vikander and Winslett, but I don't see any way Vikander doesn't win.

Category: Supporting Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale for The Big Short, Tom Hardy for The Revenant, Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight, Mark Rylance for Bridge Of Spies, Sylvester Stallone for Creed
Winner: Sylvester Stallone for Creed

Stallone should win this one, but this one's tight as well. Don't be surprised to see Rylance or Ruffalo taking home the hardware instead.

Category: Lead Actress
Nominees: Cate Blanchett for Carol, Brie Larson for Room, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn
Winner: Brie Larson for Room

Larson and Ronan are in a photo finish here, but Larson takes home the gold.

Category: Lead Actor
Nominees: Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl
Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant

Hah, wouldn't it be funny if Bryan Cranston took this instead? Forever the bridesmaid, DiCaprio will finally become the bride for The Revenant.

Category: Best Director
Nominees: Lenny Abrahamson for Room, Alejandro G Inarritu for The Revenant, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, Adam McKay for The Big Short, George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
Winner: Alejandro G Inarritu for The Revenant

I think Inarritu will become the first director to repeat in 60-odd years, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if McKay was honored for The Big Short.

Category: Best Picture
Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge Of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
Winner: The Revenant

I truly believe The Revenant will take home the trifecta, but if The Big Short wins, I wouldn't be surprised. Actually, Spotlight could take it too. This one's tight, but The Revenant wins.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Truly Horrific Film: Murder Set Pieces

Synopsis: A photographer meets, and then kills, a variety of people. And by variety, I of course mean women. 
Warning: This review will be almost completely negative. Anyone who likes this movie and doesn't want to read a very harsh critique of this "film" should turn back now. It only gets worse from here.

I picked this movie up recently from eBay as part of my search for rare, out of print, and disturbing films. I've read many things positive about this film (more on that later), so I decided to give it a go. I picked it up for $3, not bad for a OOP horror movie. Well, for any other movie. $3 was entirely too much for this movie. I want my money back.

The tagline for the movie on IMDB is "Prepare yourself for the first American NC-17 horror film." However, according to the movie's trivia section on IMDB, the film never received that rating. The only mentions that I could find about the film's previous rating was from director Nick Palumbo himself (or people that sounded like Palumbo representatives). Another fun fact: Apparently, in the lead up to the film's release, he and his promoters were banned from pretty much every major horror message board for bashing other films, trolling and insulting users, and writing fake reviews for their own blurbs. In fact, from what I've seen in my own research, most of the positive "reviews" of the film come directly from the director or someone who is obviously a shill. Some reports I read actually stated that Palumbo threatened people on various boards, and actually called the police to get one of them shut down due to unsatisfactory reviews. Now, I can't vouch for the veracity of all of these claims, but there are too many to be completely untrue, and from what I've read from the director's actual correspondence, I tend to believe most, if not all, of these reports.

Now, this has nothing to do with the film itself, it just strikes me that if you have to lie about your film to sell it, that should tell you something. The film itself was awful on its own merits. The actors did not have much to work with: this film had one of the worst scripts I've ever seen in a film. The Photographer (the only name we're given for the main character) would randomly scream things in German, because apparently he was the descendant of a Nazi. This is hardly explained, of course, as is most of the plot. One of the actresses in the film, Cerina Vincent, actually asked to have her part cut from the movie upon learning all of the details, which was of course denied. To her credit, she at least tried to get out from under the wheels of this struggle bus.

Kane Hodder (F13) and Tony Todd (Candyman) were also in this movie (which gives me great hope that I can get them to come to my birthday party). Hodder is a Nazi, because reasons, and is really more of a cameo than a character. Todd runs an adult bookstore, which the main character visits to look for "a real snuff film." Which snuff film, in particular? Wonder upon wonders, its director Nick Palumbo's previous effort, Nutbag! Which, of course, is so "disturbingly real" that its a real snuff film. Seriously, what a lazy piece of writing and filmmaking. You plug your other film inside this film? And sell it as a snuff film? Seriously, dude, get a grip. Tony Todd then yells at The Photographer because he's asking for a snuff film in an adult bookstore, because, obviously, that's not something that someone would actually do. The killer then says "In my mind's eye, I light fires in your cities." This is a loose paraphrase of one of Charles Manson's quotes, "In my mind's eye my thoughts light fires in your cities," which is much, much creepier. Of course, with writing this lazy, there's no reason to expect that we'd get accurate quotes. Obviously Hodder and Todd are fantastic actors, and have had many classic characters in the horror movie pantheon. It's clearly the writing that is at fault here, which again lays the blame at Palumbo's feet.

And then... actual, legitimate footage of 9/11. For no reason at all, Palumbo uses actual footage from the worst mass killing in US history to make his shitty film more controversial? Hey Nick, that doesn't make you edgy, that just makes you an asshole. 

Let me also say, I can't completely categorize the gore as bad or unimpressive. The special FX were done by August Underground veteran Fred Vogel, and from what I was able to see from the R-rated version, they weren't bad. I'm sure they would've been better on the unrated version. So I'll give him a pass. His films were much more realistic, though. Vogel's talents, as well as everyone else's, are wasted on this film. It's a shame, really.

Bottom Line: I'm a huge fan of disgusting, shocking, and disturbing horror (read my other reviews), but this wasn't even that disturbing or disgusting. How so many people find it so disturbing, I'll never know. Absolute garbage film, waste of time. I have to give it 1/2 a star, but solely because of Todd, Hodder, and Vogel. The rest of the movie was trash. 1/2 star out of 5.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Little Bit Of A Letdown: The Innkeepers

Synopsis: Two desk clerks at a haunted hotel are determined to document its paranormal history. With the doors permanently closing in a week, can they prove that the Yankee Pedlar Inn is home to supernatural forces?

It takes a lot to tell a good ghost story.There have been very few over the decades of horror filmmaking that have had what it takes to be a good, lasting ghost tale, but when they hit, they hit in a big way. From Poltergeist to The Shining, ghost stories can be the scariest of all horror movies if handled in the right way. Ti West, the "new blood" director responsible for The House Of The Devil and The Sacrament, took his stab at the genre with The Innkeepers, a story of a haunted hotel that was closing its doors but had just enough in the tank for one last scare. In my opinion, he doesn't pull it off very well. His slow-burn style should've fit perfectly with a good ghost story, but it focused on bringing more hardly funny humor to the script instead of a more coherent plot.

Claire and Luke, the two desk clerks played competently by Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, are determined to authenticate the supernatural presence residing at their inn, and prove it they ultimately do, of course. And I think that that's where this film falls flat for me. The dialogue is good, the relationship between the two main characters is charming,  but the scares just aren't there. There's a few jump scares (one in particular in the beginning that's used to humorous effect), very little actual creepiness, and a climax that really is lackluster compared to the batshit crazy ending to HotD (although, to be fair, most film endings don't carry the insanity that ended House of the Devil). The Innkeepers just wasn't scary. 40 minutes passed before anything remotely paranormal happened, and the ending was just completely blah. It's not that it's slow, that in and of itself is not a bad thing. Hell, HotD was slow. It's just that it was slow with no payoff, no moment where it went from creepy to horrifyingly scary. It went from a well-lit Holiday Inn to the basement of that Holiday Inn with a ghost in a wedding dress.

I can't tell if she's dead or just has wedding cake smeared all over her.
West is a highly talented filmmaker. I absolutely loved House of the Devil, and The Sacrament was a fantastic reenactment of the Jonestown Massacre with a guy that I could've sworn for half the movie was John Goodman. This one just fell short for me. It's well-acted and well-directed, and the score fits well, it's just not scary in the slightest. It's got a fairly big fanbase, and to each their own, but this movie was more Scooby Doo than The Shining. And that's ok, I guess... just not scary.

Bottom Line: Disappointing outing by Mr. West, but it's worth a look if you're really into ghost stories, you don't mind slow plot, and you're really terrified by brides I guess? 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

Gotta change it to 5 stars because my stuff will now be posted at! Come check out the site for some great horror news, fantastic reviews, and more scary than you can shake a stick at!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Slowest Of Burns: The Witch

Synopsis: A New England family, banished from their settlement for their views on religion, are forced to live in the wilderness. After their newborn child is taken by what the family believes to be a wolf, and their family dynamic begins to wither and die along with their crops, the family must fight to survive this New England Folk Tale.

Full Disclosure: I don't find witches scary. Like, at all, usually. Well, outside of one.

This one. But only cuz of the creepy bastard to the left.
This film didn't add to that list. The Witch was advertised as the scariest horror film in a long time, and even Stephen King said it "scared the hell out of" him. Naturally, after reading a lot of the reviews and seeing the commercials and television spots, I was expecting a much scarier movie than I received. In fact, The Witch can hardly be classified as a horror movie at all. It's a historical drama, a period piece defined by its dialogue, scenery, and cinematography. On these false expectations, the movie fails tremendously, and anyone buying a ticket to see the next indie super-film like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity were not very happy with their purchase. And those people need to fucking relax, adjust their expectations, and give it another go.

The Witch was a masterpiece, but not in the way I or a lot of others expected it to be. Robert Eggers' direction was outstanding, and in my opinion will gain him an Oscar nomination. The writing was excellent, and the score was used so sparingly that it became a million times more effective than it would've in other films. Most of the film is completely silent (I could hear the people three rows behind me eating their popcorn, it was so quiet.) The cinematography was stellar, and while I wasn't afraid of the titular Witch, I damn sure won't be going into the woods anytime soon. I kept expecting the father of the family to look around at his destitution and exclaim "God it sucks out here." Because, realistically, it did, and the filmmakers took advantage of the deprivation and loneliness of the surroundings to craft a stellar atmosphere for a slow-burn horror movie.

The acting in this film was absolutely top-notch, led by Anya Taylor-Joy, who captured completely the despair her character felt as everything around her came tumbling down. From her reluctance to leave the settlement to her horror as the worst events unfolded, we shared those experiences with her character. We felt the utter destitution of life in the 1600's, we felt the solitude of being ostracized from your community and, eventually, your family. And finally, we felt her desire for more, to "see the world". We understand her. Ralph Ineson and Katie Dickie, two Game of Thrones alums, are spectacular as Taylor-Joy's parents. Even the actors that played Caleb, Mercy, and Jonas, the other three children in the family, knock it out of the park, reminding us that it is indeed a horror movie after all, and kids are creepy as hell. And while the character development was absolutely first-rate, the scariest actor in the movie wasn't one of the human characters at all.

Everybody do the Black Phillip Dance!
Eggers' hits a home run with The Witch, and the praise for this film is justified. Just don't go in expecting abject horror and a fast-paced thrill ride, because it's not. It's so much more than that. It's a remarkable indie film by a first-time director who puts his past experience as a set and costume designer to work making his film the highlight of the year so far. I felt while watching this movie very much like when I saw Foxcatcher. I wasn't entirely sure that it was that great of a movie, but the acting and directing was so good, it had to be a great movie. In Eggers, we have a new hit director, and someone that will be the go-to for beautiful movies in the future. Taylor-Joy shouldn't have a hard time finding work in the future either. And that's a good thing. Movies like this should pave the way for the future.

Bottom Line: You need to fix your expectations before walking in the door, because The Witch is truly outstanding. The best acted and directed movies I've seen in a long time, and for a horror movie? You've got to be kidding me. Could use a bit more action, maybe a little bit louder dialog (to sound out over the popcorn), but a truly stellar movie. 8 out of 10 stars.

P.S. I'm going to be writing for! This post should be going up on their site as well, so go check it out!