Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Feedback

A radio star experiences the worst night of his life when stalkers assault the radio station where he's working.

5 of 5 viewers "Liked" "Feedback" (2020, Spain/USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Greyranger - "This movie is both unpleasant and ambiguous, so it's not going to be for everyone. But it ratchets up the tension steadily, the performances are uniformly strong (Eddie Marsan is great in the lead), and it artfully turns into something else... And then turns into yet something else. The twists will take you to a place you may not want to go (but as with Miike's Audition, it would be cruel to give anything away), and it will piss off some who expect all wrongs to be righted. But it's a truer picture of ourselves, the evil we do, and how we bear it." - 3.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Slow start for me, I would have probably tuned out/turned off if I'd watched alone. Feedback picks up its stride by the middle and keeps it going till the very end with plenty of mystery and twists. Kept me engaged and I'm glad I stuck it out. And I loved seeing Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this! Overall solid watch. I don't think it's something I'd watch again but I'd recommend it." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "After a dense intro that almost lost me, Feedback evolved into a completely different movie. Set in a radio station and recording studio comprised of unique and colorful rooms, the story takes a second act turn and rapidly gets dark. I was very unprepared for the number of moral quandaries I found myself faced with. I definitely need to rewatch this one." - 3.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "The best part of Feedback is it teases being a movie you don't want to watch, then becomes something you can't look away from. Brilliant performances, beautiful design, and awesome script. Best Die-O-Drama I've seen in years!" - 4.5 Stars

Wandering Panda - *Spoiler*- "I love this film. It's slow paced but once it hit its strides it got very interesting. Feedback possesses surprisingly gory outbursts of violence. I can't help but listen to the last half of this film where everyone is interrogating everyone and it's hard to trust anybody. It's like rooting for the lesser of the two evils because everyone in this film is shitty. This film is a verbal battle of chess where all the players have an agenda and they're trying to trip and force each other into a corner. Feedback is well acted, has excellent sound design, and rewards insightful viewers with its story. All in all, Feedback is great and should be watched at least once. But it's definitely not for everyone." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

At this point of the Overlook's life, our reviewers trust us. Either that or they're just more adventurous that they have been in the past... or they don't mind sharing the pressure of movies selection and the resulting response of the viewers. Whatever the case, no one protested when Feedback started, aside from a bit of hemming and hawing during the heavy Brexit conversation up top. This was a screener given to us by the same distributor who had supplied our previous feature of the night, which probably wasn't making it onto any top ten lists but was still pretty fun to watch with friends. And starting the night with that feature might have actually worked in Feedback's favor.

Our first movie of the night was By Day's End, a half security camera half handheld camera in-world camera movie that (to me) felt not entirely fleshed out. I didn't realize that it had essentially disarmed the audience. So when Feedback got intense, we were all taken aback. While that didn't drastically change minds about the film, and Feedback didn't need any help to play well, it made our viewing experience a whole lot better because no one saw it coming.


The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Residence for a screening on 2/13/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Digging Up The Dirt with KillDozer and Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis)

The 90's Hardcore scene was an exciting time and place to grow up. Punks and Hardcore kids were ready to "fight the power" and really demonstrate the fact that "you have to act to be an activist".  Oddly enough I'm going to use quotes from Hunter S. Thompson to help describe the experience, just keep with me and I swear it will make sense to those that lived it: 

"It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. [Hardcore in the 90's] was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. [East coast or West coast].… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…"

  One band in particular encapsulates the political activism and crushing sound of the era, and that's Earth Crisis, who not only had a unique sound that strayed from the familiar punk/thrash of traditional Hardcore, but also promoted straight edge, veganism, self-empowerment and organizations such as ALF (Animal Liberation Front, not the ALF on TV who was not vegan and was prone to eating cats), Earth First, and Sea Shepherds (before it was cool and on reality television).  In a 1998 interview with Roadrunner Records, Karl Buechner described Earth Crisis' philosophy: "I want to boil it down to one notion: personal accountability. Respect for yourself, respect for the lives of innocent beings around us." He added that "Just being drug-free doesn't make you a good person, you need to use that clarity of the mind to become actively involved in the struggle that is being waged for earth, human and animal liberation."  "We're about things we're interested in and we sing about things that happen politically, but we're not left-core or right wing. We don't want to get tangled up in someone else's agenda, which can happen if you join up in certain organizations."

  Earth Crisis has maintained an extremely controversial reputation over the years simply by standing up for what they believe is right and not backing down from those beliefs. In a scene of outcasts and misfits, they managed to become "one of the most controversial bands in the scene's  history". (Imagine GG Allin being shocking for helping the world become a better place).  Although I'm not nearly as well known as Earth Crises, I was able to tour Japan with the band while singing in Alcatraz (who unlike Earth Crises has never been on Geraldo or had a VHS released of their tours). It was during this time I spent these individuals that I learned something shocking... their guitar player Scott Crouse was "not a big fan of horror films". I held back the tears and vowed that I would dig up the dirt on why! Now as the band sets out to hit sold out venues to support the celebration of the California Take Over tour that took place in 1996, I thought this was a good opportunity to circle back and see how one of the world's most brutal and inspiration Hardcore bands could possibly "not be big horror fans"..........

KillDozer: Let's jump straight into some fun questions. Have you ever seen Jaws or The Birds? Does being vegan change your experience with these films? For the most part "animal attack" films happen when humans venture into the wilderness or habitat of other species. Do you feel as though the death of the characters in these films is justified? 

Scott Crouse: Oh yeah, even though I’m not a big horror buff, I’ve seen most of the classics. I’m not sure I think their deaths are justified as I still feel empathy for the victims, but I do think these movies speak to the human disconnect with nature. We like to think of ourselves as superior to the rest of the animal kingdom, but in that we suppress and hide our basic instincts. Movies like these speak to how vulnerable we are when we are out of our human made bubbles. 

KD: Do you feel that horror films depicting animal attacks glorify the unjust killing of animals? Do films like Orca (The Killer Whale)  or Outbreak (the monkey who spreads disease amongst humans and must be killed) do a disservice to those trying to educate people about animal rights? 

Scott: I may be mistaken, but I think most of these types of movies there seems to be at least one character that ends up having some respect for the animal? There always seems to be the over the top bad human who has no compassion and he/she always end up dying. I haven't analyzed them by any means, but if I remember correctly when the animal dies it’s also not celebrated. There’s a sorrow there, and even though the animal was the villain in the story, you can’t help but feel empathy and respect for them. 

KD: It is no secret that Earth Crisis is a straight edge band. In many ways the horrors of drug addiction can be scarier and more brutal than any masked killer in a slasher film. What films to you feel best depict the reality of drug addiction? 

Scott: The first one that comes to mind is Taxi Driver. The idea of the fed up extremist who vows to rid the city of drug dealers, addicts, and pimps was the perfect fantasy for a teenage straight edger.

KD: When first speaking with you about this interview, you told me that you and the band were not big horror fans (the first time you have collectively let me down). With that being said what would be your top 10 horror films you have seen throughout your life and why?

Scott: Ha, I’m sorry! I believe Ian actually really enjoys horror movies, and I like certain movies that are in the horror genre. I suppose “thrillers” is what I’d call them? I think mainly I’m not into gore or things are just shocking for the point of being shocking without adding some sort of underlying social commentary. These aren’t in a particular order, and I think what I just said applies to the reason I enjoyed them. They’re frightening, but offer social commentary. Also, most of these are from the 80’s because I had HBO as a kid. I’m sure horror fanatics will say some of “these aren’t horror!” To that I say, take it up with Justin, I told him I’m not a big horror fan! 

1. Rosemary’s Baby
2. The Exorcist
3. The Shining
4. Twilight Zone The Movie
5. The Evil Dead
6. Creepshow
7. They Live
8. The Gate
9. Aliens
10. The Lost Boys

KD: Do you believe the music and politics of Earth Crisis are as relevant now as they were in the 90's? What motivates you to keep playing and staying true to what you believe in? 

Scott: I think the message is still relevant, and things we spoke about back then are a lot more commonplace now. It’s not as radical to talk about veganism and environmentalism these days thanks to movies like Cowspiracy and Before The Flood. It’s a great thing to see these ideals being accepted outside counter cultures and I hope they continue to progress in mainstream society. As for our music, I’m old so I plead the fifth. Any comments I make regarding the state of music today will just come off like an old man out of touch. Perhaps that is true?

KD: What inspired you to being playing music in the first place? Do your families support your music? Do they believe in the same straight edge and vegan beliefs as well? 

Scott: I wanted to pick up the guitar because of Van Halen, and then that evolved to Motley Crue, then Metallica, then the Misfits and so on. My family was always very supportive of me playing in bands, to the extent that they allowed us to practice in their basement for years. They wouldn’t admit to this, but I’m pretty sure they figured “Well, it’s either jail or we nurture this so-called music he’s playing.” They let us borrow there van, and even came and rescued us when our van broke down one winter tour. They did the right thing. My family is not xvx, but they do have respect for it and I believe a little of the ideology has rubbed off on them.

KD: What is scarier: playing Ozz Fest in the 90's or raising children? Please explain. 

Scott: Oh, raising children for sure. Infants are terrifying! They should create a horror film about a family's first year with a baby. It could simply be called “WTF!"

KD: Veganism and vegetarianism are both popular in the horror community but so are metal and other forms of heavy music. What brought you to metal and hardcore? What kept you in the scene?

Scott: I was a pretty angry kid, so aggressive forms of music spoke to that. It’s cliche to say, but it really helped me cope with feeling left behind by society in a lot of ways. Having a community of like minded people and listening to bands that share similar life experiences really provided hope for me. 

KD: What, if anything, do you hope people will experience at an Earth Crisis show? Are you ever shocked or surprised by the impact made by your music?

Scott: I hope how genuine we are as people comes across. We believe whole heartedly in vegan straight edge, and our music. We wouldn’t be doing it still today if our hearts weren’t in it first and foremost. Yes, I’m always shocked and surprised when people tell us we had an impact on their lives. It’s very fulfilling to hear that something you poured so much into paid off in a lot of ways.

KD: I'm not sure if you know this but Earth Crisis is on a big budget horror film soundtrack! Wes Craven did a film called My Soul to Take in 2010 and you kids are in it! Have you seen the film? If so what are your thoughts on it? 

Scott: Oh yes, we know about that. There’s an interesting story to it. Wes Craven’s assistant (I forget his name now) contacted me directly, and he wanted our song The Order to be used in the movie. That seemed very random because that song never appeared on a proper album, just a pretty obscure compilation from 1993. I’d love to know how he even heard that song, but sadly I never asked. I said sure we’d love to be involved, but then he asked if we could re-record it, and we couldn’t make that happen. I suggested this instrumental track that had a pretty dark vibe to it, from our current album at the time, and he loved it. So that’s the song that appeared in the movie. 

KD: Tell us about the California Take Over tour. Was it hard to get the other bands in on the idea? Are you surprised by the overwhelming positive reaction? 

Scott: It was something all 3 bands had been discussing for a few years now. It has been hard to put together, because we are all very part time with music these days, but the stars finally aligned and I’m really looking forward to these two shows. The reaction definitely surprised me! For LA to sell out in a day and SF only has about 35 tickets left as I type this. Yeah, that doesn’t happen to our 3 bands these days very often. I hope we get to do this lineup in some other areas too. 

KD: What is the future for Earth Crisis? 

Scott: There’s no real plan, and that’s what's so great about it! We do things when we feel like it, and we are fortunate enough to be able to still play all over the world. It’s all fun these days, so maybe more music, or maybe just shows, or maybe we’ll lay low for a while. Not sure, but we are all enjoying and appreciating still being able to do this in our 40’s. 

KD: Where can everyone go to follow Earth Crisis on social media? 

Scott: Instagram is @earthcrisisofficial, and Facebook is as well. We have a twitter, but don’t go there, I haven’t logged into that in months. You know, don’t bother with Facebook either.

Get tickets to Earth Crisis at the Great American Music Hall here!
Sorry SoCal, the Teragram Ballroom show is completely sold out.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Unnamed Footage Festival Returns to San Francisco for Four Days of Found Footage!

The Unnamed Footage Festival has resurfaced to announce the lineup and highlights for its third year of in-world camera celebration, expanding to a four day event from February 27 to March 1. While the main slate of the festival will again be featured at the Balboa Theatre, two more quintessential Bay Area venues, the ATA and the Roxie Theater, will also host screenings. 

This year’s Unnamed Footage Festival has expanded to four days and three venues, kicking off with a double feature of FEAR FOOTAGE. Opening the fest will be a chance to revisit THE FEAR FOOTAGE, followed immediately by the World Premiere of THE FEAR FOOTAGE 2: CURSE OF THE TAPE and a cocktail hour at our annual Recalibration Party at the Artist’s Television Access.  On day two, UFF3 will relocate to the Roxie Theatre for a late night screening of MANIAC (2012), the rarely screened first person point-of-view reenvisioning of William Lustig’s controversial classic starring Elijah Wood. 

Saturday and Sunday, UFF3 will return to its home base at the Balboa Theatre for the festival main slate, featuring a multitude of premieres, special screenings, and guests! This will include:
  • 1984 VHS found footage legend, Dean Alioto’s UFO ABDUCTION -- believed by many to be a real home video of an alien invasion. Director Dean Alioto will be in attendance at the festival for a Q&A after the film!
  • A badge holder exclusive, the first ever preview screening of LENSFACE, written and directed by Travis Zariwny (CABIN FEVER, BEHIND THE MASK, DIGGING UP THE MARROW), who will be in attendance. 
  • The new film from Daniel Myrick (Co-writer and co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT), SKYMAN graces our programming with a heartfelt character study of a man who had an encounter with an extraterrestrial and his journey to reconnect with it. 
  • A celebration of the overlooked master of Japanese In-World-Camera narrative, Kōji Shiraishi, with rare theatrical screenings of NOROI: THE CURSE and A RECORD OF SWEET MURDER.

Of course, it would be criminal not to mention some of the highlights of our shorts programming:
  • Saturday’s closing night showtime will be opened with the world premiere of MONICA’S LAST DANCE, a horror comedy created by Dire Wit Productions (PIG PEN, BEYOND THE BLACK VEIL).
  • IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, an Italian short faux doc about the beauty you can find in disease, will be sharing its North American Premiere with us on Saturday.
  • Clarissa Jacobson, writer of the world renowned LUNCH LADIES short film and author of I MADE A SHORT FILM NOW WTF DO I DO WITH IT, will be in attendance to present her short faux doc A VERY IMPORTANT FILM, followed by a Q&A.

The full lineup of UFF 3 will soon be available at, but festival badges are available now through Film Freeway! A $60 festival badge will grant you access to every screening at every venue. Each purchase of a badge comes with the 2020 Edition of the Unnamed Footage Collectible VHS Box. This year’s box will feature exclusive festival pins, merch, and original art, including the first printing of the recently uncovered writings on the lost giallo RUSTED ANTS & IRON EYES, documented by journalist Samuel Pierce.

Weekend Day passes are also available for $35 each, and individual screenings will be available on the day of the event. 

Unnamed Representatives are available for phone and email interviews. Press requests can be sent to

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Turning

2 of 5 viewers "Liked" "The Turning" (2020, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

KillDozer - "What can you say about a film that truly forces its audience to look deep into their film going experience and wonder, "what the hell just happened". Some theatre goers were inspired to literally yell out "I want my refund!" and "this is a gay ass movie!" - yes grown adults and teens alike were not happy about this chaotic descent into madness that was promoted as a ghost story with kids. Obviously, this elevated my experience with the film as the confusion I felt was a welcomed one. I went in for what I thought would be a boring and weak attempt at gothic horror and instead was served with a confusing mess that inspired great conversation and fantastic theories about "what the hell happened". Make no mistake I would not recommend this film to just any casual genre lover. The audience for this one is specific to those who can handle and have fun with a confusing ghost story thrust into a decent-into-madness madness wrapped in a mystery." - 2.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "One might find it strange that a film would open with a television announcement that Kurt Cobain was found dead. Honestly, I found this strange too, but after some quick IMDB sleuth work I discovered the director of The Turning, Floria Sigismondi is somewhat of music video royalty whose claim to fame is the "jittery" camera work found in Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People. Anyway, The Turning is a strange mix of classic Gothic Horror and Pretty Girl Ghost Mystery, which definitely reads like the writer wanted the former and the production wanted the latter. The end product is a beautifully shot film that facilitates my new favorite The Shinning-esque drone shot, which rises up through a tree to catch a car driving to the haunted mansion. I also really enjoyed our lead Kate played by Mackenzie Davis, who you may know as Grace aka the best part of Terminator: Dark Fate. The Turning's other standout performance comes from Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) whose name makes me cringe but whose portrayal of Flora was amazing (Little kid characters 99% of the time instantly ruin films, she, however, enhanced it). It's a shame some great performances, a fantasy inducing location, and a consistently beautifully frame can't undo the mess created by production rewrites and a strange adaptation of an 18th-century novella. " - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "January has had a horror film released just about every week and is known to house throw away horror releases. The Turning is keeping the train running for bad film January. I hoped and hoped to enjoy this film and sadly it failed me. I had no idea what was goin on for most of the film but hoped for a conclusion to fix that. The end it left me with way more questions than it needed to. If I'd watched The Turning at home I'm 90% sure I would have turned it off. While some parts kept me engaged and the young actress who played Flora did a great job in her role, the rest fell flat for me. The spirits or whatever kind of ghost like presence in the estate honestly looked pretty Goosebumps to me and didn't scary me one bit. The jump scares weren't effective either.  Overall pretty bummed I didn't enjoy The Turning as much as I'd hoped but maybe the book it's based on is better?" - 2 Stars

Huntress - "Wow, what a weird movie. It’s full of great settings and beautiful visuals, but the story seems to be missing some pieces. I was repeatedly led through dreamy scenes and shadowy mansion exploration that felt like they ended abruptly, or like some connecting tissue had been removed. The property this was filmed on - the maze-like mansion, various overgrown forest, neglected koi pond - was amazing, and absolutely not the kind of place small children should be allowed to roam without supervision, but that added to the fantastical element of the whole situation. Brooklynn Prince's performance was so effortless and natural, I got the feeling she didn't even get a script but ad-libbed most of her scenes. It's a bummer that the end was so confusing and jumbled, but the good elements of The Turning have already pushed the many boring parts out of my memory." - 3 Stars

Math Mage - "What bothered me the most about this film was the lack of awkwardness, even though every scene felt as if it was the first time that the characters met. Perhaps this was intentional, but not likely. The film seemed to have been extensively reworked, probably several times. Especially the boy's reactions during the fake ending. It may have been intended as a clue that it wasn't real, but his inconsistent personality (while not unrealistic) made it impossible to judge. I was expecting a reveal that the kids were psychic, and the ghosts were projections or prisoners of the kids. (Our heroine can see the ghosts cuz she's psychic, as shown when the kids notice her noticing the ghosts) Maybe that's me wishing for a better movie or maybe that ending didn't test well. - 2 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The Turning marks our third voyage into a mall cineplex in 2020 and each trip has yielded some strange cinema experiences. As we ventured into the screening room that was housing The Turning, we joked that this newly converted broom closet was quite acceptable. The crowd was sparse (not unusual) and after the film started, completely quiet (incredibly suspicious), not counting the 3 separate times that a cell phone crashed to the floor...

The film played out like your traditional Pretty Girl Ghost Mystery (ala The Ring, The Awakening, The Haunting of Helena) for the first act, but by act 2, it was clear this film really wanted to be a Gothic Horror (Crimson Peak, The Woman in Black)... Just to help distinguish this conflict, The Turning opens with Kate saying goodbye to her roommate/apartment and her mother, who we see painting a portrait of Kate alone in a drained pool which is part of a repurposed building now being used as a mental health ward? These strange details feel presented as clues or puzzle pieces for our pretty lead to unravel in the second act. Yet when we reach act 2 we are narratively still spending a lot of time exploring the giant mansion sandbox and discovering the not so nuanced nuances of the Fairchild family, or what's left of it. This expectation of pace built into our general audiences made for a spectacular let down.

As the credits rolled over Kate's hand slowing sliding along the beautifully ornate walls of the mansion. Her figure nail beds bloodied from being picked nervously as she descended into madness, clearly, a decision made to save the film after some test screenings presented the unwanted Gothic Horror... an audience member who sat quietly throughout the entire film stood up and yelled, "I want a refund, that movie was gay!". The sentiment was echoed by another audience member much closer to the front row where the Overlook sat. "Right?! That was gay." rang the second outraged filmgoer. It's been a few years since I had heard the word GAY used in this context and I must say, it perfectly illustrated the frustration of an audience unable to identify why it's frustrated.

Once in the lobby, where we learned more about the novella, The Turn of the Screw, KillDozer clarified something said during the closing credits chaos. A member of the couple behind us blamed the other for flipping the coin that had sealed their fate and decided they'd be spending date night watching The Turning.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theater for a screening on 1/23/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Listener Sam Reviews: A Color Our of Space

Richard Stanley has a reputation for being somewhat of a maniac. After masterfully directing Hardware and Dust Devil in the early nineties, he was famously fired from the production of The Island of Dr. Moreau. He also famously haunted the set in a dog mask, spying on his own lost production. 

It seems fitting that Stanley’s comeback would come in the form of an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space. His early career began and ended with all the splendor of a comet whizzing past, majestic and bright, before crashing spectacularly into a New England farm.

That’s more or less how Stanley’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s novella begins, and somehow it only gets crazier from there. If you’ve read the story, you’ll know what happens, and if you haven’t I suggest you read it. Like much of Lovecraft’s writing, it’s in the public domain and available through the H.P. Lovecraft Archive

The story, in essence, is about an infectious color that haunts a New England farm. Despite a change of time period, I think it’s fair to say that Stanley’s adaptation is fairly faithful. It’s not a beat-for-beat recreation of the story, but it is about a farm in New England that’s devastated by an alien color.

To this end, I think it’s fair to say that Lovecraft works best as an idea man. Sure, he has some genuinely good stories, but his stilted prose, hollow characters, and his occasional bouts of extreme racism and xenophobia make direct adaptations difficult. Many of the great Lovecraft adaptations take only the base elements and turn the story into something entirely their own. (From Beyond, Re-Animator, Castle Freak, Dagon, and Shatterbrain all come to mind)

That’s exactly what Stanley does, as he shows a family’s descent into technicolor madness. Nicolas Cage (Mandy, Mom and Dad) stars as Nathan Gardner, the father of a family farm who has moved to a secluded New England farm to raise Alpacas (a delightfully weird choice for a delightfully weird movie). Cage gives another solid horror performance. He manages to play it impressively straight for the beginning of the film and goes completely mad at the end. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Cage, but that makes it no less fun.

The rest of his family is comprised of an amusing cast of characters, but his daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur of Big Eyes) who begins the film hanging out in a velvet cape with a white horse doing magic. This choice initially seems bizarre until you realize that this movie is gunning for high strangeness, which it nails at every turn. 

His youngest son Jack, played by Julian Hilliard of The Haunting of Hill House, is portrayed mostly as a scared, innocent child, but Hilliard nails it. It’s rare to see such a convincing performance from such a young actor, and between this and Hill House, his career is off to an amazing start. 

As an aside, I caught this at Beyond Fest, with a Q&A that included Richard Stanley, Julian Hilliard, and a good chunk of the film's cast, excluding Cage. Hilliard absolutely stole the show. From his Nicolas Cage-themed Spider-Man Noir t-shirt, regaling the crowd with personal anecdotes and stories of Cage’s antics on set, and even interrupting Stanley to tell the audience a joke. It was legitimately one of the most entertaining Q&As I’ve ever been to, and Hilliard was largely to thank.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Tommy Chong, who plays the farm’s resident squatter. He lives in an airstream with his pet cat, worships nature, records the sounds from underground, and acts like you’d expect a dirty hippy to act. It’s great.

The film balances horror and humor expertly. It blends written gags and laugh-out-loud Cage-isms with tense horror sequences, a few solid jump scares, and some legitimately harrowing scenes of gruesome body horror. 

While the film relies heavily on CGI, it never bothered me. At best it’s convincing and simply looks good, and at worst the CG creations fall far enough into the uncanny valley to fit with the film’s surreal sensibilities. Where the effects really shine is the color. This isn’t the first adaptation of this story, but it’s by far the most colorful, with a palette that feels like Annihilation on mescaline. 

Other adaptations cheap out on the concept of an alien color by presenting the film in black and white. Stanley instead chooses to bludgeon your eyeballs with a magenta sledgehammer, using the somewhat unusual color to depict a mix of infrared and ultraviolet. It looks stunning, and while some viewers might find certain sequences cheesy, I loved it.

Last but not least, the film is graced with a score by the fabulous bass saxophonist Colin Stetson, who’s in high demand after his killer score for Hereditary. Unlike Hereditary, Stetson’s score for Color Out of Space is bigger and more driven by a strange mix of orchestral and electronica sensibilities that seems strange at first but fits perfectly with the film’s aesthetic.

Maybe I’m biased. I love Nick Cage. Mandy was quite possibly my favorite film of last year, and I loved Mom and Dad. I believe that Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a masterpiece. I could watch The Wicker Man any day. By and large, I haven’t seen a Cage flick I haven’t liked. 

I’m also Lovecraft obsessive. I’ve read nearly all his stories, I love all of Stuart Gordon’s adaptations, and just about every other adaptation too. Even the bad ones. And sometimes especially the bad ones. I love cosmic horror, and it’s a joy when something good comes along.

Color Out of Space has already been picked up by RLJE Films, and will be getting a wide release this week. If you get a chance to see this one theatrically, jump on it. The gorgeous kaleidoscopic effects lend themselves beautifully to the big screen.

-Listener Sam

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Digging Up The Dirt with KillDozer and A&P Productions, Slashorette Party

As a genre fan, one must give full credit when talented people create on screen magic with minimal resources. A&P Productions has been a buzz in the horror community since their Cinco De Mayo release. They have been giving audiences amazing examples of what can be accomplished with  passion, dedication, talent, and a shoe string budget. Their last film Streets of Vengeance left the horror community wanting more and A&P are ready to deliver with their newest labor of love Slashlorette Party. I had to dig up the dirt on how this bloody dream was going to become a reality. 

KIllDozer: I can't get over how excited I am for your new film but as a nerd I must ask, what came first the title or the concept for Slashorette Party?

Paul: Thanks! The concept came first and the title came shortly after during a car ride. Angie and I we were going through as many crazy title names as we could. I had originally titled it “The Bride Wore Red” but that seemed more like a Italian giallo movie. We wanted something more ridiculous!

Angie: Ridiculous is the perfect word! I don’t know how many times I rolled my eyes at the various options Paul rattled off. But Slashlorette Party made me laugh because it sounded like a actual crazy 80's horror movie.

KD: I love the way you bring your fan base in on each step of the casting process. What inspires you to bring everyone along with you on the film making process?

Angie: Filmmaking is both difficult and easy at the same time. I get asked all the time how we can make movie as regular people with full time jobs. Explaining it isn’t enough, I like to show people the process so they can see it’s possible for them to do it too.

Paul: Angie has really pushed this transperancy approach. I’m not really good at it, sometimes I forget to document all things we do! But it turns out it’s really helpful for others to see the steps we take to get a film made.

KD: What has the crowdfunding experience been like? Where can we go to support Slashorette Party?

Paul: The crowdfunding campaign for Slashlorette Party has been very successful! We have raised more money for this project than we did for Streets of Vengeance! Here’s the link to our indiegogo campaign!

Angie: I put a lot of thought into the perks, I really wanted to give as much as possible to show my appreciation for everyone’s support. So I went into this pretty optimistic but I’m still shocked by well it went!

KD: Why a slasher film? What do you think brings people back to slashers after all these years? 

Angie: I truly have no idea! I wasn’t allowed to watch horror movies growing up so I don’t have an emotional or a nostalgic connection to them but they seem to make people happy! I do know that people have so much fun not only watching them, but also making them! When we first announced we were making a slasher movie we had so many people show support and excitement without even knowing the story first!

Paul: The imagery of a “slasher movie” is so strong that everyone immediately knows what you are talking about when you mention the genre. The genre just causes people to get excited! I grew up watching slashers and they had a huge impact on me. I always wanted to make one. In 2010, we made our first feature film, Cinco De Mayo, which is a holiday slasher film. But it was more of a revenge movie, similar to how Streets of Vengeance is a female revenge thriller. This time I wanted to make a true slasher, but of course in our own way. 

KD: Your other films have had a decent amount of social commentary. Can we expect the same from Slashorette Party? Do you think it's important to balance the  fun with a solid message?

Angie: Yes and yes! At this point I feel like that’s become our signature: genre movies with a underlying message. 

Paul: It’s very important to us that we have something to say with each film. For this one, the subtext is much more nuanced than the previous films, but it’s there. We talk to the lead actress, Molly Souza, about the subtext quite often, which I really enjoy.

KD: Are any of the characters in the film based on real people in your lives? Or are they based on slasher tropes? What is the hardest part when writing these characters?

Angie: Some characters are based on real people we know. That’s why our characters seem realistic and relatable to some people. Others exist purely for the kills! Haha

Paul: Yeah it’s definitely a mixture of real people and character archetypes. The hardest part about writing characters is finding their own unique sense of humor, finding their voice. So if you base characters off of real people you can tune into that voice much easier.

KD: Do you create the kills for your films during the script writing process? What can the audience expect in terms of gore with Slashorette Party?

Paul: Sometimes I write a detailed kill with camera moves and editing notes and then sometimes I just write something like “everyone in the room gets hacked up.” Which can be scary to read if you are the special effects person. But later on I’ll go in and work it out in full detail.

Angie: This is going to be our bloodiest and goriest film yet! Which is why we’ve teamed up with the Sacramento Film Armory for this one. We can’t call it Slashlorette without having a lot slashing going on!

KD: Can you tell us about the exciting premiere screening?! How can we can attend? 

Angie: The State Theater in Modesto CA has generously offered to host the premiere. We’ve always wanted to have a premiere there since it’s such a beautiful theater and in our home town. Most of the cast is local so it will be easier for their friends and family to attend. We are excited about being able to share this experience with our own community! 

Paul: The State Theater has thing called the Late Night Horror Series where they show a classic horror movie each month and our film is going to part of it! Once the film has been complete, we will set it up with the theater and post the premiere date all over the internet!

KD: When do you hope to complete the film? Will it go onto the film fest circuit once complete? Will you be touring with it?

Angie: We will most likely screen the film at a few different locations but we’re not really interested in the Film Festival route for this one. We prefer to focus on official distribution so people can rent and/or own it sooner than later.

Paul: I’ve haven’t had too much luck with film festivals in the past haha. I think we are just going to bypass all that and hold our own screenings around California! But if someone wants to have a screening in a different state we would love make it happen! The film should be complete early 2020!

KD: What can we expect in term of the sound track?

Paul: We will be working again with the amazing Vestron Vulture who composed the 80's synth soundtrack to our last film, Streets of Vengeance. We love working with him; even though we live in different countries we have a deep connection. We are also working with The Grind Theory, out of NYC, on a few tracks! He produced a track for us on SOV as well. We are excited to work with him again!

KD: What roles are both of you playing in this production? (Is it everything? ha ha)

Angie: Technically we both do everything but we do have our individual strengths. Paul is always more of the writer/director and I’m more of the producer. I focus most of my attention on the logistics (renting locations, selecting wardrobe, on set photography, scheduling, keeping track of finances etc.). Basically Paul creates a world with characters and I help him bring it to life. We both dream up a vision and style together and then tackle it together using our individual strengths.

Paul: I will be mainly directing, although sometimes I record the audio too! But our films are really made by both Angie and I, we make all the decisions together. That’s the secret behind our success. 

KD: Okay, now for some quick fun questions! What actresses would you invite to an actual Bachelorette party and what would the theme be?

Paul: I don’t know much about bachlorette parties but if I was gonna throw one I’d invite Ginger Lynn Allen, Linnea Quigley, and Felissa Rose! The theme would be murder, mayhem, the usual stuff. 

KD: I took my mom to a screening of Streets of Vengence, should I take her to see Slashorette Party as well? (Be honest ) 🙂

Angie: Slashlorette will probably be easier for a mom to get through considering it’s not about sex workers. Haha! For some reason people get uncomfortable with anything sexual but are completely okay with brutal murders, so she should be fine. 

Paul: If she was able to make it though SOV and all the blood and boobs, she can definitely make it through Slashlorette Party!

KD: What is your favorite slasher kill of all time?!?!

Paul: I would have to say Angie Dickinson Dressed to Kill or the guy in the wheelchair that gets the machete in the face and falls down the stairs in Friday the 13th part 2.

Angie: When the clown falls in the dunk tank and gets his arm bitten off by the cute little ghoulie in Ghoulies 2! I love when he pops out of the water and smiles!
(PS I’m still looking for an answer on why the ghoulie was wearing a shirt and suspenders on the cover of the vhs but it never shows up in actual film! If you figure it out please let me know!)


Keep up with Slashorette Party updates by liking them on Facebook!

And get updates on all things A&P Productions by liking their page here!


Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Underwater

A crew of aquatic researchers work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. But the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear.

8 of 9 viewers "Liked" "Underwater" (2020, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Listener Sam - "Underwater is aggressively unlike the vast majority of blockbusters being released nowadays. The movie has a laser focus. From minute three onward the driving force is "get from point A to point B," and for a $60M+ movie, it sticks to this extremely tightly. The tension is relentless. The claustrophobia and crushing weight of the 7 miles of water is palpable. Reprieve only occurs as characters descend elevators or ride brutally slow trams, and we get short, human moments that drive narrow character arcs that are driven by primal motivation. The deaths are visceral and there's a lot of implied gore for a PG13 movie (including an incredible explosive depressurization.) It also has some of the coolest creature designs I've seen in years. It's got shades of Deep Rising, Leviathan, and Deepstar Six, and Lovecraft's Shadow Over Innsmouth, while creating something uniquely its own. If you like aquatic horror and lean late-eighties creature features, you'll probably love this. You're not going to get a traditional studio blockbuster, but you'll get a nostalgic throwback with constant tension, interesting characters, and badass killer mermaids." - 4.5 Stars

Clark Little - "We occupy a cinematic landscape that is littered with cookie-cutter remakes and plain-jane blockbusters for the masses. It is refreshing to come across a larger budget monster flick that isn't borrowed from a previous property- a new idea. However, Underwater doesn't do enough to separate itself from the droning, derivative dirge that is January releases. The production design and CG work were worth the price of admission. The creatures were great and I wish there was more, especially from our headliner. Corners were not cut on the production and that was very refreshing. Unfortunately, one has to account for the story, characters, and the crow-barred geo-political ending. For the majority of this 95 minute run time, I was disengaged and was apathetic towards the telegraphed ending that canonized our heroine protagonist. If you're going to be bleak, I'd rather you be bleak in the story, rather than putting it on the shoulders of the voting public who want and need escapism and not another reminder that the world is a toilet that is on fire. In addition, the characters were uninteresting and devoid of charm or charisma. Shooting on and in water is an incredibly difficult and expensive task and I'm sad to say that this film will stay on the ocean floor of my memory." - 2.5 Stars

Grey Ranger - "It's a programmer: it does what it says it'll do, nothing more...yet nothing less. It's not going to reinvent genre cinema, but if Kirsten Stewart vs. deep sea horror is your idea of a good time, then that is what you get. Stewart reliably leads a cast who all convey the cabin fever that comes with too much time spent miles below sea level. You get more-than-decent set and costume design, a fine and brooding score by Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts, and the thing's even generous enough to give you a couple of good long looks at the creatures. All of which is not bad for a January release of a movie that's been on the shelf since 2017." - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "This is one of the better January horror releases. Underwater takes no time getting straight to the horror and suspense and keeps you engaged 'till the very end. I felt claustrophobic from a few scenes and the underwater creatures looked cool. Underwater is fast paced yet still gives us insight into the characters which isn't easy to do. Lately, horror has been supernatural and remakes/reboots so it's definitely refreshing to see this creature feature survival horror released. While it doesn't bring anything new to the table, it's definitely entertaining and made me jump quite a bit. Overall solid film and I'm impressed with how much I enjoyed it." - 3.5 Stars

KillDozer - "Remember when genre fans proudly supported horror films? When we as a community wore our love of horror like a badge of honor and had no fear of pretentious film critics trashing our community or belittling us for loving the genre? The time has come to once again have fun and embrace our inner monster kids. Underwater is a beautifully written, acted, shot, and produced... Horror Film!! A solid reminder of how to take you to familiar places and still give you an experience that leaves you wanting more. It's okay to fall for a jump scare, to laugh at the comic relief, or even hope the hero survives. Yes, this is not A24 and that's a good thing! We are a diverse group who wants to be entertained! Underwater is fun and exciting. I can honestly say it has something for everyone. In a better world, this film would get as much attention as Us but this isn't a better world so I won't hold my breath and wait for the "millennial horror fans" to catch up to the fact that it's okay to like monster movies!" - 4 Stars (Collection worthy)

Drumachine - "Underwater does an excellent job of reinforcing my fears of the deep ocean. The set design and score were exceptionally thoughtful, and I appreciated the nods to its inspirations. I do wish there was a bit more to the characters." - 3.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "Fuck, Underwater is good. K Stew staring in a sci-fi horror set in a deep sea water base couldn't sound less deprived of creativity, but it DELIVERS. Underwater starts with a voice over that might make you think this is going to be a deliberately paced existential horror that's stepping waaay outside of its capabilities, yet it's a film that's 100% aware that it's playing in a sandbox built by Ridely Scott and Walter Hill. Remember how Rear Window started its storytelling with framed photos? Now imagine a fast-paced action film where everything we learned about the characters happened in quick visuals like that Rear Window opening. It's brilliant! So make sure you go see that beautiful flat chested, elf-like creature K-Stew and support this dumped block buster and all its Old Ones/Neil Marshall glory!" - 4.5 Stars

Wondering Panda - "I tell you what, I like this film a lot. It's dark, cold, claustrophobic. It builds tension and has an amazing reveal. I had very low expectations for Underwater and that worked in the film's favor. I'm amazed by its ambiance and its feeling of hopelessness. The film did a great job with the material it had. And I enjoyed myself." - 4 Stars

Huntress - "Sure, I noticed some similarities between Underwater and Alien, even in the trailer, but if anything that made me want to see the movie even more. It's clearly not a remake of any kind, but it has some familiar elements scattered throughout. The tension is suffocating. Set entirely seven miles under sea level, the exterior shots are both beautiful and terrifying, especially when the survivors are being pursued by something they can't identify. This was another case of me liking all the characters so much I was really bummed when anyone died, but then their deaths looked so good it was hard not to gasp. The creature designs were amazing and daring. And then there's the ending... I don't know why anyone would agree to to into the ocean again." - 4.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The following is a series of texts sent after Listener Sam saw the Alamo New Mission's early screening of Underwater. The following has been edited in no way.

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theater for a screening on 1/9/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.