Sunday, June 29, 2014

The REAL Splat(ter) Pack

The REAL Splat(ter) Pack


Much has been made in recent years, in the mainstream horror press, about "The Splat Pack". Depending on the source, this cadre of genre directors includes names like: Roth, Aja, West, Zombie, Wan, Whannel, Green, Bousman, Six, and Rodriguez. While these cats have indeed made some killer movies, the up-and-comers in the indie world go largely unnoticed. Below, I'll take a look at some prolific film makers, and some rookies with only a film or two under their belts, that can, with a few frames of film, give any of the above a run for their blood soaked money...



Dustin Mills--

Mills has made a living, and legions of fans, for his offbeat, gory films, almost always injected with a large dose of humor (and sometimes puppets!). All that changed recently with the release (or did it escape?) of "Her Name Was Torment". Gritty, nasty, and made with an "arthouse" quality that manages to avoid being overly pretentious and self-important (i.e. it doesn't make you want to hit him in the face with a brick for insulting your intelligence), "Torment" was a bracing shock to the system for many of Mills' fans expecting more of the same zany bloodletting (and also was a big metaphorical "fuck you" to the "torture porn" sub-genre). Watch for releases from his new Crumpleshack stamp, and consider yourself warned.


Adam Ahlbrandt--

Violent, greasy, bloody, and unabashedly metal-as-fuck, Adam Ahlbrandt consistently delivers new and inventive ways to fuck shit up, cinematically of course. With a group of rabid fans, particularly for "Cross Bearer" (my personal favorite is "The Cemetery"), Ahlbrandt revels in assaulting the viewer with images of brutality, characters that don't always elicit sympathy, and unflinching set pieces soaked in bodily fluids--stuff that would have guys like Eli Roth shitting in his designer jeans. With "Hunters" and "The Sadist" in various stages of production, look for this purveyor of filth to scramble to the top of the genre heap soon.


Mike O'Mahony--

Developing his style in wacky splatter fests like "I.B.S." and the excellently subversive "Sloppy the Psychotic", O'Mahony unleashed an unnerving character study of a "monster in plain sight" with this year's "A Dark Place Inside". Virtually everyone who has seen it was blown away by the mature turn he has taken. There aren't any laughs to be had here, just tons of creepy atmosphere and deliberate pacing that ratchets up the suspense to an entirely different level. It's been amazing watching the man's style and craft develop, can't wait to see what he has in store next.


Adam Sotelo--

"Perseveration". Period. If you've had the pleasure of viewing it, you were treated to a blasphemous, fever dream of surreal, repugnant images that will long be burned into you consciousness. Coupled with an excellent cast and disorienting shots of extreme fucked-up-ness, Sotelo's direction has a seasoned quality that belies his short career. Topping "Perseveration" will be difficult, but it will be interesting to see how he does it.


Jessica Cameron--

Prolific genre actress Cameron stepped into the director's chair last year for "Truth or Dare". While most people may just be familiar with the controversy surrounding the film (I think Madonna is suing her or something...), those who have actually seen the film during it's successful festival run, or for review, have been treated to a boundary pushing, taboo shattering thrill ride that leaves you asking "how far is she REALLY going to go with this?". The short answer? Very fucking far. The cast does things onscreen that no cast should ever have to do...


Jason Hoover--

The criminal mastermind behind Jabb Pictures and it's amazing series "The Collective" (serving as a fan's gateway drug to countless talented new directors), Hoover's "Collective" entries have always been effective exercises in fear on a budget. Once making a great short film with nothing but shots of an old house and an ominous voice-over, Hoover went "full length" with "I Am No One" last year and knocked it out of the park! One of those films that make you want to wash your eyeballs after you see it, "No One" is one of the few convincing "found footage/mockumentary" films out there. Here's hoping something even sicker is brewing in that black capped head of his while he's stalking a convention near you...


Brian Williams--

"Time To Kill" is providing convention goers all over North American with beer swilling, shout-at-the-screen, good times virtually every weekend lately. The debut feature from Williams, "TTK" is his love letter to sleaze, cheese, boobs, blood, and Beelzebub. Featuring the exceedingly bad assed Ellie Church as a violent, revenge driven bitch on wheels, "TTK" combines all the elements that you loved from 60-70's drive-in fare, and almost none of the shit you hated, Buy a copy so I can see what comes next.


James Cullen Bressack--

Personally, I thought "My Pure Joy" was motherfucking brilliant. Following it up with stuff like "Hate Crime" and "To Jennifer" only cements Bressack's place on this list. With a distinct talent for pushing a viewer's buttons and keeping them engaged, waiting for the sanguinary "punch line", while the most mundane things occur on screen, Bressack masterfully creates scenarios that are truly believable. While I haven't seen everything he's done, I plan to rectify that in the near future.


So, there you have it, 8 directors that can make you hurk your lunch AND make you look twice at that "normal" looking person walking behind you on a dark street. In my not-so-humble opinion, they can best anyone on the list in the first paragraph, hopefully they continue to make the world a more twisted place for genre fans in the future.


--Scream King Tom

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Musings on "Women in Horror Month"

It's "Women in Horror Recognition Month" this month, and the question arises-"Are women treated equally in the genre?". From the film making angle, I really can't say, because, while I may know a little more than a layperson, I'm still pretty ignorant of the process involved.  I think I might be able to safely assume, that when it comes to major studio funding, a green-light probably comes on a lot less for the fairer sex. Otherwise, you'd see a LOT more big budget fright flicks directed by women, because, when you watch the amount of low/no/modest budget indie flicks that I do, you see that women directors are pretty prevalent, and very talented as well, so they're there.


For the most part, my perspective is a fan's and reviewer's, so I find it kind of off putting the way some women working in our beloved genre are treated in the many blogs and social media outlets dedicated to the love of fear.


Now, first, let me be transparent-I love women, I often bitch about director's teasing us with the "possibility of nudity" and then not delivering, I'm very flippant in my reviews when discussing nudity (or the lack thereof), and I'm a sucker for: a pretty face, amazing breasts, and a killer backside (I've stated publicly, many times, that Tiffany Shepis has the best ass in the history of the horror film, seriously, it could probably literally hold up the Acropolis, since viewing Brian William's "Time To Kill" there's definitely some competition on the horizon, but yeah, Ms. Shepis is the benchmark.). But (no pun intended), do I limit my critique or assessment (again, no pun intended) of an actress' skills based on her looks? Absolutely not! And I think is where the indie horror world fails a lot of females.


I recently did an interview with three ladies (Jen & Sylvia Soska, and my dear friend, Jessica Cameron), all doing amazing work in the genre, and this subject came up. Also, I was recently the target of an anonymous email attack, chastising me for continuing the NerdRemix Horror Hottie of the Month series.


Now, from an outsider's perspective, this attitude towards women that prevails probably wouldn't be much of a surprise. Consider just one, almost universally beloved, sub-genre of horror: the 80's "Slasher" films--lots of fun, but when you boil a lot of them down, they're misogynistic maniacs slicing and dicing co-eds while their doofus boyfriends meet almost accidental (and drolly executed) ends. Sorry guys, Jason, the ultimate "mama's boy", was terrified of vagina!! Seriously, he killed anything that had, or had recently been inside, a vagina. But, in interacting with fans and film people at conventions, via social media, etc. I've found most of them to be pretty progressive thinking individuals. So it irritates me when I continually see things like "decent flick for a chick" or "she has to post pictures of her dressed like a whore to get attention" and the ever popular "she showed her tits in _____ so she's not entitled to an opinion".


I'm even semi-guilty of this, I made a comment in my review of Jessica's "Truth or Dare" along the lines of, "how can this sweet looking girl make such a violent film". But I never suggested that her gender could somehow prohibit her from making a decent film. Many people do, and that's a problem. Jessica also deals with a lot of backlash for speaking her mind and calling out the shadier elements of the industry, I've seen her referred to as "moody bitch", "feminist bully", and, my personal favorite, "mega-cunt", would a guy get the same treatment? I think not.


And the Soskas, I've seen larger, widely read blogs, that bemoan the fact that they're attractive young women who dress like attractive young women have every right to, so this somehow cheapens the quality work they've done thus far. Just what the righteous fuck does their clothes and curves have to do with what they do behind the camera? Please explain! Frankly, I like looking at Jen & Sylvia, if they're using their looks to market what they do, then good on them! If one random dude sees a photo of them, likes what he sees, and rents/buys a copy of "American Mary" out of curiosity, then-mission accomplished!! And, also, fuck that!! Nobody is telling Norman Reedus to look even more greasy than he already does (seriously ladies, what's the fucking deal? 'Cause you all know if you saw Daryl Dixon on the street, you'd be like "ewwwwwww! who's the smelly hill-jack?") because it somehow de-legitimizes "The Walking Dead"! Grow up, some chicks are hot, and they have actual functioning brains, and they make cool shit-deal or move the fuck on.


Bottom line-there's strong females like Jessica, Jen, Sylvia and Tara Cardinal to name but a few, working in the horror realm. They have goals, vision, drive AND killer looks. And they're here to stay (step up your game guys!!), And while I'm not a huge fan of "See No Evil", I'm interested to see the sequel that the Soskas directed (if for nothing else than Danielle Harris), and if they post a picture on Facebook of them wearing nothing but strategically placed peanut butter while molesting Grimace in a McDonald's lobby, then more power to 'em--I'm still checking it out.