horror

The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Three friends decide to go camping near a lake, and yeah, yeah, yeah. If this short from Ben Franklin sounds predictable, simply know that it’s not. It’s a fantastic horror short film that uses standard conventions in order to subvert them. So, sure, there’s the horny couple checking their watches until they can shake the tent, there’s the goofy friend who is obsessed with blasting fireworks, and there’s the bloodied horror that finds them in the woods. But Dead Man’s Lake is the kind of short that entertains before it pulls the damned rug out from under you. The result is something devastating and terrifying in a far more fundamental way than your average slasher re-hash. It’s not wink-and-nod like Cabin in the Woods, but it knows its horror and sidesteps every cliche in order to build something that punches you right in the chest. What will it cost you? Only 9 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? While setting up their tent, a young man tells his friend Lisa that he loves her and wants to be something more. Big mistake. She storms off, leaving him to angrily carve her name in a log, but it’s not long before he hears her scream, runs to find her and finds himself dragged off by something that knows how to set a bear trap and owns way too many red candles. Effective quick-cut editing and aggressive camera choices are front and center in creating an intense horror experience here (although an excellent shot of a fingernail being slowly pulled off doesn’t hurt either). Plus, the villain is crafted well – think Buffalo Bill by way of coked-out glam rocker – and anchors an atmosphere that drops worms into your bloodstream. The score is a bit much, and the subtitles seem slightly off (there isn’t that much talking), but it’s a capable horror short with energy and a few surprises hiding up the sleeve of its knit sweater. What will it cost you? Only 17 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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The Scariest Movie Ever

And then there were four. After the tournament’s closest battle came to an end with a come-from-behind winner, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre eked its way into The Final Four alongside The Thing, Alien and The Exorcist. Essentially we’re down to the impossible choices, but while a horror movie tournament is one thing, figuring out with of these baddies would best each other in real life is a bit easier. Today’s match-up sees Ridley Scott‘s hallway of terror go up against the devil in Ms. Blair, but if the mutli-mouthed E.T.s actually had to fight off a demon, it seems obvious that evil would prevail (unless The Queen had the courage to jump out of an airlock after getting possessed). On the same front, a family of cannibals with their own meat locker is terrifying, but they’d be quick work for the body-stealing Thing, especially since Grandpa’s offspring don’t seem all that bright. How long would it take for one of them to hit themselves with a hammer in order to stop the invasion? Over/Under is twenty minutes. Speaking of which, someone should make a movie where horror icons fight each other. Especially if it involves Alien. How could that miss? And since both Freddy and Jason have been knocked out of the tournament, they’ll have plenty of time to collaborate on a project like that. VOTING FOR THE FINAL FOUR IS NOW OPEN

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The Scariest Movie Ever

After laughing about the completely unplanned, totally-done-by-your-votes match-up between The Ring and The Thing in the Axe-Wielding Eight Round, I’d like to talk about two types of movies that didn’t make the cut. There are. of course, the 24 movies so far that have been chopped off the block by you clicking a Facebook button, but there are also a bunch of movies that didn’t get placed on the original bracket to begin with. There are two reasons that your favorite scary movie didn’t make it. One, it’s a finite list (and a small one at that). Two, we aren’t mind readers. For the most part, our bracket was conventional in honoring the classics, but we also tried to spice things up by including newer films and even a few that maybe weren’t seen by wide audiences (Session 9, you will be missed…). Today’s post will seek to celebrate some of those movies you suggested we were morons for leaving out. We’ll also run down the numbers, laugh some more about the rhyming Ring/Thing battle, and get serious about the predictions. We’re down to 8 insanely strong horror flicks, so it’s even more important to get out the vote because the margins are going to be razor blade thin. Or you can vote first and then read all this

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Okay, hear me out on this one. No, The Blair Witch Project didn’t need a sequel, and no, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is not the sequel that modern horror classic from 1999 deserved. But, love it – and some do really enjoy this film – or hate it, Blair Witch 2 was a controversial sequel to a film that already sparked enough controversy on its own. Book of Shadows, if for nothing else, takes an interesting path for a franchise that could just have as easily turned down Straight-To-DVD-Rehash Boulevard, but it tried something a little different, putting the character in a world where The Blair Witch Project actually exists. What’s more, this wacky horror sequel was also directed by documentarian Joe Berlinger, most famous for the Paradise Lost trilogy. Book of Shadows was taken out of his hands, and Artisan, wanting another horror hit on their slate, opted for re-shoots and re-cuts to make the film more traditionally scary. To Artisan’s or whoever’s credit, Berlinger was given the keys to a commentary on the DVD, which is what we’re digging into this week. The result is an honest look at what happens when a director and a studio have two very different visions. So sit back, crack open a Pete’s Wicked Ale, and blast that Godhead, because we’re all virgins on this bus! Yeah, I’m one of the people who actually digs this movie.

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Early work from J.J. Abrams! Paul Walker speaking in a high-pitched lady voice! Jaw-ripping pranks gone wrong! After gaining incredible popularity on YouTube and making one of the best sequences in V/H/S, the gang from Radio Silence goes out on a limb to celebrate the underserved horror classic movie, Joy Ride. Can they convince you to fall in love with it? Download Episode #153

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The Scariest Movie Ever

The late, great James Whale once said, “Hollywood is just too marvelous. One feels the footprints of the immortals here, but has a terrible feeling that they are in sand and won’t last when civilization comes this way.” So it is with the immortals in our Scariest Movie Ever bracket tournament. After the second round of voting, only 16 films are left, and it’s a guarantee that the competition is going to get a lot tighter once it’s icon versus icon. There are still some newer favorites, but the next round is shaping up to have battles between Kubrick and Polanski, Carpenter and a hockey masked Cunningham, and the fight between Poltergiest and Halloween is anyone’s game. Once the dust settles, there will at least be a handful of immortals left bleeding out onto the sand. If you want to skip this nonsense and get straight to voting, feel free, but to check out the final Round Two tallies and check out some tough predictions for Round Three, forge ahead.

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John Carpenter

A true master of horror, it’s no surprise that John Carpenter‘s work has shown up in our series where horror filmmakers discuss their favorite scary movies (and, spoiler alert, he’ll show up again next week). His figure looms large inside and beyond the genre, gifting classics like Halloween, Escape From New York , The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13 and Big Trouble in Little China to the world. He’s a quiet-spoken man, which is perhaps not too rare in the world of horror. Although it’s fairly strange to think that this unassuming man made people terrified of being inside their own homes (and, you know, taking trips to Antarctica). So here’s a bit of free filmmaking (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who makes our nightmares.

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The Scariest Movie Ever

They said we were crazy to set up the brackets like we did. The Exorcist against Night of the Living Dead? Halloween against Psycho? In the first round? Why not just cross off the heavy hitters before the voting even starts? But here’s the thing: the numbers from yesterday’s voting proved to be a slaughter. If the tallies had been Florida-style close, there might be cause for remorse and re-evaluation, but all of the losers got dramatically beheaded in a bloody landslide. While we look at the winners and losers (and make predictions for today’s voting), I want to draw a ridiculous conclusion – that we aren’t just voting for the scariest movie, but that we’re voting against our weaker fears. I’ll joyously go into greater detail in a bit without any help from pesky old science. If you want to skip this nonsense and get straight to voting, feel free, but if you want to think too deeply, check out the First Round scores and guess which of Round Two’s movies will survive the night, let’s get to it.

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The Scariest Movie Ever

If there’s one thing everyone on the internet enjoys, it’s participating in a bracket-style tournament that forces you to admit that you’ve pushed out a high-pitched screech in public, soiled yourself in front of family, or ideally both at the same time. We actually pay for this stuff, people. That’s the raw beauty of horror movies, but they can also save your life. It’s true! According to clinical psychologist David Rudd, watching terrifying stuff helps train us for real danger. “It’s nature’s way of protecting us. Adults may well scream but quickly follow it with a laugh since they readily recognize there’s no chance for real harm.” And if we experience enough of that safe danger, we grow accustomed to phobias, giving us a chance to get over them. So what horror film is most effective at making us laugh while cleaning the urine stains out of our pants? What horror film is theoretically best for keeping our wits sharp in a dangerous world? Which terror-filled vision is most likely to save our lives? That’s what we’re here to find out. Starting today and running through next week, we’re asking you to vote for the Scariest Movie Ever. To get off on the right bloody stump, we’ve compiled a notable list using an insane sentient computer that spit out this bracket:

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Wes Craven

The calm, quiet Wes Craven is no stranger to our 31 Days of Horror project. He’s the most visible name when it comes to the genre, emerging and re-emerging Travolta-style from the rubble every few years to remind us why he’s so damned good at what he does (which usually happens after his movies make us forget). Batting averages aside, he’s delivered an outstanding amount of great films in a genre injured by low budgets and rip-off artists. If it’s easy for some to dismiss horror, it’s hard not to take movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow and Scream seriously. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the man who lives in the last house on the left.

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Contracting an illness is not something most of us long for. It’s often an unpleasant, uncomfortable, and incapacitating affair to be ill. For the highly-skilled technicians of the Lucas Clinic, disease is their discipline. Turning common cold into commodity, the Lucas Clinic offers fans the unique opportunity to become physically connected to their favorite celebrity by having the diseases of those celebrities injected into their own bodies. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, actual biological material from these stars has been reproduced into slabs of meat that are then devoured by the masses. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is one of the clinic’s most accomplished employees, but he’s bitten off a bit more than he can chew…and no, we’re not talking about a broiled pop singer steak. He’s injected himself with a virus from a particularly popular starlet, a virus from which she ends up dying. The clock ticks away as Syd struggles to make sense of her demise before death becomes a common bond between the two of them.

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Rec 3 Genesis

There are two movies in [Rec] 3: Genesis. The first is a standalone horror comedy that delivers on multiple fronts, and the second is a third entry in a franchise that comes off as the red-headed step-child. For what it’s worth, the horror film from director Paco Plaza (who pulls duties on this one while directing partner Jaume Balaguero makes the fourth installment) is incredibly satisfying even with its uneven shifts from absurd monster comedy to genuine pee-inducing fear, but aimed squarely at those who first went into the apartment building of [Rec] and were brave enough to return, this movie is bound to be a head-scratcher. The main reason, as Plaza explains himself, is that he wasn’t content to deliver exactly on expectations anymore. After a sequel that came off an assembly line with a few added specs, [Rec] 3 is a drug dealer giving confetti to junkies showing up for crack cocaine.

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“Fangoria” as a gateway drug, YouTube fame leading to feature work, a magical 1998 Camry, the way porn plays with our minds, filming “Safety Second” style, and most of all trying to make found footage horror not feel like boring home movies. The filmmakers behind V/H/S (which is available on iTunes and VOD today) wanted to increase the ratio of scares per minute by combining the new popular subgenre with a throwback anthology style. On this week’s podcast, we mirror that anthology style in order to talk with many of the minds behind the punk horror explosion. Download Episode #147

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Lord of Tears trailer

Watching the growth of a filmmaker’s career as it develops from the outset can be an interesting endeavor, and if you’ve been keeping up with Cole Abaius’ Short Film of the Day series, then you’ve been doing just that with director Lawrie Brewster. So far we’ve gotten shorts from Brewster called Turnip Head and Empire, which showed off the director’s penchant for visual experimentation, fascination with the macabre, and ability to mix several different types of filmmaking into one strange but cohesive piece. And now you can see how Brewster has taken what he’s learned up to this point and utilized it in a feature-length film. Said feature is called Lord of Tears, and it’s a ghost story that takes place in a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. Due to its Scottish setting, Lords of Tears manages to take your typical haunted house tale and turn it on its head a bit by adding in some Celtic mythology, which, as you can see in this trailer for the film, mostly manifests itself in the form of freaky owl-men who dress in very dapper attire.

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I Spit On Your Grave 2010

Apparently the reboot of I Spit On Your Grave did well enough to warrant a sequel, and according to Bloody Disgusting, Thomas Fenton has been hired to write a sequel. There’s no information beyond that, as the project is in the earliest stages of conception, but it’s easy to legitimately speculate that a second installment might feature more rape and more revenge. Felton has a story credit on Saw IV and did work on (but was not credited with) Chain Letter. He’s also currently working on a biopic of John DeLorean for Nine/8 Entertainment. I Spit On Your Grave 2 might be the first major chance for us to see his writing talent on raw display, The production team is most likely looking to capitalize on re-invigorated name recognition, but it would be a cool nod if they called the new movie Day of the Woman. Just throwin’ it out there.

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Grim Night

As we all know, Grim Night is the one night out of the year that we all board up our windows, shove pillows into the chimney and sit fetal-positioned in the corner with a weapon of choice hoping against hope that the monsters won’t eat us. Fortunately, German director Dennis Gansel (We Are the Night) is making a movie based on our worldwide annual nightmare. Rob enjoyed Gansel’s feminine twist on vampires, and We Are the Night made Fure’s Best Horror List for 2011, so a follow-up from Gansel could be fun.  Plus, the story here sounds like fertile ground for terror. According to Coming Soon, the movie will focus on an American family’s ordeal with the mysterious beings called Grims who descend once a year to kill, and the site even dug up the original concept pitch trailer for your approval:

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The Revenant

When The Revenant played at Fantastic Fest in 2009, it was an excellent hour-and-a-half movie hiding inside a two-hour cut. It had potential, but it’s unclear what state the film is in now as it prepares to finally invade theaters. In the movie from director Kerry Prior, an Iraqi soldier (David Anders) comes back to life but needs to drink human blood to keep his soul from hurting all the time. He entrusts his best pal (Chris Wylde) with helping him get the red stuff, but soon his buddy wants to be a vampire too. Why? Because when you’re a vampire, you can also be a vigilante with little to no danger to your physical form. So, yes, the best description of this bad boy is that it’s an indie horror buddy dramedy vigilante movie. It’s the result of a quick spin in the genre blender, and now it has a trailer to entice you:

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Not content to deliver the same kind of movie as REC and REC 2, Paco Plaza has crawled way out onto a blood-covered limb to turn the third installment, REC 3: Genesis, into a romantic horror comedy set at a wedding. There are still some jaw-ripping practical effects and zombie scares aplenty, but the tone is purposefully meant to deny audience’s their expectations.The gamble is one that might alienate fans. This week on Reject Radio Horror Chit Chat, we speak with the director about the risk in making something beyond expectations (and how he plans on getting killed quickly when the zombie apocalypse goes down). Plus, we get into a thorough discussion about remakes with our old friend Scott Weinberg. Download Episode #143

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Toad Road - Fantasia

Toad Road is an urban legend; a mythic trail residing in the woods of York, Pennsylvania. It is said to house the seven gates leading to hell, and any unfortunate pedestrian traveling this path at night will travel through each gate individually. Sarah (Sarah Joelle Hildebrand) is fascinated by this myth upon hearing of its existence from her new boyfriend James. Point of fact, Sarah has been experiencing many new things thanks to her new beau; not the least of which being a veritable buffet of hard drugs. She gets it into her head that sucking down a narcotic cocktail and traipsing into these woods after dark will allow her to achieve a higher form of consciousness. Unfortunately, like many ideas one concocts while in an altered state, her plan goes horribly awry. There is a perception in certain circles that films made by those who attend film school are inherently smarter, more artful, and requiring of a more refined palate to appreciate. While there certainly are films that fall under this distinction, the danger of that mentality is that it gives rise to a wave of lackluster fluff masquerading under these intellectual pretenses. Enter Toad Road, which had its world premiere at Fantasia Fest. Toad Road is an empty vessel, a thinly-veiled metaphor explored a hundred times before with nowhere near as much new to bring to the table as it desperately believes it possesses. Oh, really, delving into drug addiction is similar to descending into hell? How novel.

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