Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Digging Up the Dirt with KillDozer and Chris Peckover, Writer and Director of Better Watch Out

Conventions are a good place to broaden your scope in terms of what's out there in the horror community. As much as people like to live in the "nostalgia tunnel" we should also be open to the future genre legends and future monster kid classics. I never turn down a chance to sit in on a panel for a new film and such is the case for my discovery of what might become a new horror holiday classic, Better Watch Out. I was lucky enough to speak with Director Chris Peckover after his panel at Monsterpalooza and follow up with him later to dig deeper into how he made his dream a reality. 

KillDozer: Let's start at the beginning. What inspired you to create Better Watch Out? Was it always set during Christmas time in your mind?

Chris: It all started with our deep love for John Hughes, our love for how honest he was about the awkwardness of teenage life, and our desire to find out how this generation of teens compares. How HOME ALONE might look today. Sprinkle in pendulum swings between fun character developments and shocking brutality a la Craven and Tarantino, and mwah - that’s a spicy meatball.

KillDozer: I remember during your Q&A about the film you said that your original title was "Safe Neighborhood" (which I really like by the way). Who or what made you change it?

Chris: We teamed up with Josh Olson at The Refinery, who is just a brilliant guy. He also dug "Safe Neighborhood" as a title but felt like we were insane not to be playing up the fact that we had on our hands a great Christmas horror movie -- those are few and far between and much easier to market.

KillDozer: Does being both writer and director of a film allow you to bring your vision to the screen without compromise?

Chris: Unless you're self-financing your own movie and shooting and editing and starring in it yourself, film is inherently a collaborative medium. I made plenty of compromises. The trick is to surround yourself with such quality people that their views elevate what you're bringing to the table. That said, I do think being both writer and director makes doubly sure that I bring an extra clear vision to the table that's easier to communicate so we're all making suggestions in the right direction.

KillDozer: When writing the film did you think of it as a horror comedy, a comedy horror, or is it not that easy to put a label on? 

Chris: This is a truly horrific situation that I thought audiences would enjoy more willingly if it was subverted through humor. So definitely horror first.

KillDozer: I've been hearing a lot of buzz about this film. Do you think the holiday aspect is a strong selling point? If so why do you think that is?

Chris: Ask Josh Olson and The Refiner haha.

KillDozer: Did you want your inspiration to be obvious to the viewer or is the plot made up of things you think only film buffs will pick up on?

Chris: Being clandestine or inaccessible about your inspirations can get snobbish, if you ask me. But you also don't want to be so overt about your inspirations that it takes people out of the reality you've woven your story around. It's a balance.

KillDozer: They say in film making "never work with kids". How was it working with a young cast? Any on set pranks or were they behaved?

Chris: Whoever said that never worked with Levi, Liv, and Ed. They were a dream.

KillDozer: Have you been able to see your film with an audience? What is that experience like? Did everything affect the audience the way you thought it would?

Chris: I've seen the film with about 30 audiences at this point. To me it's the most important experience a director can have, because you learn to read a crowd and see what works and what doesn't. Every screening has also been different -- depending on the city or country, people react to different things. Montreal film-goers are emotionally generous and vocal. Los Angeles film-goers are the quietest I've seen. I wish someone would do a study on different cities and how their reactions as a crowd reflect their psychology and social openness.

KillDozer: Was there ever a point in writing or shooting where you thought "I've gone too far" or "I haven't gone far enough"? Did you reshoot or edit anything that you regret or is what we see on screen exactly what you wanted?

Chris: The only thing I regret I discovered way after we finished the movie. It's a moment that thrills 99% of viewers in its danger and edge, but I've seen two people walk out at that moment, and there's an easy thing I could've done to get the effect I wanted without pushing that 1% too far. But I'm a better filmmaker for it now, and it was an important lesson in restraint.

KillDozer: What experience did you have looking for a distributor? Were you pleased with the release? At any point did you try to make a December release happen?

Chris: Our distributors found us. Universal International hopped on board after seeing some footage, and everything fell into place after that. I was totally expecting a December release, so when Well Go USA announced an October theatrical release at first I was so confused. But now I think what they did is genius. Theaters require a minimum 60 day window between theatrical and streaming. So by coming out in October, which is already a wonderful month for horror, that means we can release on Blu-ray and streaming in December in time for the holidays. And because this movie plays best with people who know nothing about it, it kinda makes the perfect holiday gift.

KillDozer: What was it like to film in Australia? Do they have the same union laws? Was this a financial choice?

Chris: We went there for financial reasons (I'm an Aussie citizen, tax incentives) but my heart stayed there the people. I want to move to Sydney eventually. It became my favorite city in the world. Just a lovely culture of generosity.

KillDozer: Where can we follow you and your work? Twitter ,Facebook, etc.

Chris: I'm always posting fun behind the scenes stuff or just movie geekery on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is more personal for me, pics of me and my boyfriend, the boring stuff that I like to keep friends only.

KillDozer: What might we hope to see in terms of extras for the home release of Better Watch Out?

Chris: We shot an hour long documentary about the behind the scenes stuff. I can't wait for people to see it.

KillDozer: If your film could some how mash up with any other Christmas film, characters and all, which film would it be and why?

Chris: Instant reply: HOME ALONE. I want to know how Luke Lerner and Kevin McAllister would get along.

KillDozer: What's the worst movie anyone could give you as a Christmas gift?

Chris: One that I already own? Also, anything with Hugh Grant.

KillDozer: Give me 2 ideas for VHS style tag lines to your film. For example- "The only Christmas miracle this year will be if you survive the night"

Chris: Heavenly pieces.
Satan's little helper.
Spread the holiday fear.
Snow guts, snow glory.
Silent night, holy s**t

KillDozer: If you had to make another holiday horror what holiday would you pick and why?

Chris: I'm shocked nobody's done a horror movie about the dangers of trick or treating. Like -- it's maybe the most joyous and stupidest thing adults let their kids do all year. The best horror to me is about shining a terrifying light on the things we love.

KillDozer: What is your favorite piece of movie memorabilia that you own?

Chris: A buddy bought me an original poster of my favorite movie of all time - LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. It's my prized treasure.

Keep up with updates about Better Watch Out on the movie's official FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!
And keep your eyes peeled for Better Watch Out coming to retail shelves near you in December.

Let's spread some holiday fear!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bluray Tuesday: Featuring Misery, Woodshock & Rememory

November 28th 2017

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving weekend! And I hope Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals didn't completely drain your wallets because Bluray Tuesday arrives once again to add to the damage. First up from Scream Factory is 1990's Stephen King classic Misery starring Kathy Bates. Bates scared the hell outta me as a kid watching this, definitely an easy pickup for me with a new scan and bonus features. A24 releases Woodshock, a psychological thriller starring Kirsten Dunst. I've heard mixed reviews on this but the premise intrigues me. Remomory is another one this week that catches my eye that I also have not seen yet. Revenge indie thriller M.F.A is up next. It's about an art student turned vigilante. Blue Underground this week releases 70's slasher Deathdream for the first time on Bluray. Light week again, but filled with indie goodies. So what will you buy, rent or skip this week? Let us know in the comments. Until next week!

Misery: Amazon - $18.99

After a serious car crash, novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who claims to be his biggest fan. Annie brings him to her remote cabin to recover, where her obsession takes a dark turn when she discovers Sheldon is killing off her favorite character from his novels. As Sheldon devises plans for escape, Annie grows increasingly controlling, even violent, as she forces the author to shape his writing to suit her twisted fantasies.

Misery (Blu-ray)

Woodshock: Amazon - $18.99

A haunted young woman spirals into confusion and chaos after she falls under the spell of a potent, reality-altering drug.

Woodshock (Blu-ray) 

Rememory: Amazon - $13.99

Gordon Dunn, a famed scientific pioneer, is mysteriously found dead just after the unveiling of his newest work, a groundbreaking device able to extract, record and play a person's unfiltered memories. After his death, Gordon's reclusive wife, Carolyn, delves deeper into her own private world when a mysterious man shows up claiming to be from Gordon's past. With questionable motives he takes the machine and uses it to try and solve the mystery, beginning an investigation of memories that lead him down a path of guilt, grief, and betrayal to an unexpected answer.
Rememory (Blu-ray) 

Trailer Trauma 4: Television Trauma: Amazon - $27.99

Four friends visit a rural locality of Chile, are brutally attacked by a man and his son. After not finding help in the town, they decide to confront these men with the help of a pair of policemen. But in this way, they will discover that their attackers have in their blood the direct legacy of the darkest period of Chilean history and will have to face the most brutal enemy.

Trailer Trauma 4: Television Trauma (Blu-ray) 

Tulip Fever: Amazon - $16.99

An artist falls for a young married woman while he's commissioned to paint her portrait during the tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Tulip Fever (Blu-ray) 

M.F.A.: Amazon - $21.99

An art student taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free- all the while fueling a vivid thesis exhibition.

M.F.A. (Blu-ray) 

Deathdream: Amazon - $24.99

When a Vietnam war casualty (Richard Backus) returns to his parents (John Marley, Lynn Carlin), he prowls in search of human blood.

Deathdream (Blu-ray) 

Logan Lucky: Amazon - $17.99
4K: Amazon - $22.99

West Virginia family man Jimmy Logan teams up with his one-armed brother Clyde and sister Mellie to steal money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Jimmy also recruits demolition expert Joe Bang to help them break into the track's underground system. Complications arise when a mix-up forces the crew to pull off the heist during a popular NASCAR race while also trying to dodge a relentless FBI agent.

Logan Lucky (Blu-ray) 

Logan Lucky 4K (Blu-ray) 

  -The Impostor

Monday, November 27, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Monday to Friday): The Shape of Water, Alice Sweet Alice, Malatesta's Carnival of Blood

I dub this the week of Del Toro! With just a couple of exceptions, this week highlights Guillermo Del Toro's classics in anticipation of the release of The Shape of Water at the end of the week. (Upon closer inspection, it looks like this movie won't make it to San Francisco until next week.) Midnites for Maniacs will be presenting Pan's Labyrinth followed by The Devil's Backbone in 35mm this Wednesday at the Roxie Theatre. And this week both Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday sound like gems you won't want to miss. So we have some choices to make yet again.

Opening This Week

Limited Theatres Friday 1st (2hrs 3min)
Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy
An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

Terror Tuesday

Tuesday 28th @ 9pm (1hr 38min)
Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller (IMDB)
After a young girl is brutally murdered during her first communion, her strange and withdrawn older sister becomes the main suspect. But are the authorities mistaken?

Weird Wednesday

Wednesday 29th @ 9:25pm (1hr 14min)
Horror (IMDB)
A couple infiltrate the carnival where their son disappeared. They come to discover that Malatesta, the eccentric owner, is actually a vampire.

Midnites for Maniacs Presents
A Genuine Tribute to Guillermo Del Toro

Wednesday 29th @ 7pm (1hr 59min)
Drama/ Horror/ SciFi (Rotten Tomatoes)
Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returns to the phantasmagorical cinema that defined such early fare as Cronos and The Devil's Backbone with this haunting fantasy-drama set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and detailing the strange journeys of an imaginative young girl who may be the mythical princess of an underground kingdom. Her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), recently remarried to sadistic army captain Vidal (Sergi Lpez) and soon to bear the cruel military man's child, shy young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is forced to entertain herself as her recently-formed family settles into their new home nestled deep in the Spanish countryside. As Ofelia's bed-ridden mother lies immobilized in anticipation of her forthcoming child and her high-ranking stepfather remains determined to fulfill the orders of General Francisco Franco to crush a nearby guerilla uprising, the young girl soon ventures into an elaborate stone labyrinth presided over by the mythical faun Pan (Doug Jones). Convinced by Pan that she is the lost princess of legend and that in order to return to her underground home she must complete a trio of life-threatening tasks, Ofelia sets out to reclaim her kingdom and return to her grieving father as Vidal's housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verd) and doctor (Alex Angulo) plot secretly on the surface to keep the revolution alive. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Wednesday 29th @ 9:30pm (1hr 48min)
Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror (IMDB)
After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen (Marisa Paredes), and the kindly professor, Casares (Federico Luppi). Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Friday to Sunday): The Art of Dying, Tragedy Girls, Blade of the Immortal

It's another light weekend for horror in the bay area, in anticipation of people being out of town. But we have tons of things on the horizon, so next week should be a totally different story. We are in for a rare screening this Sunday, with the return of Video Vortex at the Alamo Drafthouse San Francisco. And if you missed Tragedy Girls at Another Hole in the Head, or Blade of the Immortal on Halloween night, both will be screening at the New Parkway Theatre. I'd recommend both!

Video Vortex

Sunday 26th @ 10:10pm (1hr 30min)
Crime/ Thriller (IMDB)
Wings Hauser both stars in and directs The Art of Dying. Hauser plays Jack, a vice cop who tries to unravel the mystery behind a series of murders in which each of the corpses has been found with stage makeup on its face. Turns out that the killer is Roscoe (Gary Werntz), a demented movie-maker whose overwhelming desire for realism has resulted in a variety of horrible deaths for his unwary actors. Each victim is dispatched in a manner evoking a famous film: one is killed in the shower, another dies while playing Russian Roulette a la The Deer Hunter, and so forth.

Friday 24th @ 10pm (1hr 38min)
Sunday 26th @ 9:30pm
Comedy/ Horror (IMDB)
Best friends Sadie and McKayla are on a mission to boost their social media fandom as amateur crime reporters hot on the trail of a deranged local serial killer. After they manage to capture the killer and secretly hold him hostage, they realize the best way to get scoops on future victims would be to, you know, murder people themselves. As the @TragedyGirls become an overnight sensation and panic grips their small town, can their friendship survive the strain of national stardom? Will they get caught? Will their accounts get verified?

Saturday 25th @ 12pm (2hrs 20min)
Action/ Drama (IMDB)
Samurai Manji has taken a lot of lives, both innocent and guilty, and now lives life in feudal Japan as a criminal. After being cursed with immortality until he kills enough evil men, Manji meets a young girl who enlists him to be her body-guard. Swearing loyalty, protection and vengeance against the group of sword fighters who slaughtered her family, the unlikely duo set on a remarkable quest to make right against those who did them wrong.

Now on VOD

On VOD Tuesday 21st 
Drama/ Sci-Fi (Rotten Tomatoes)
After traversing a hostile post-apocalyptic wilderness for many years, a pair of survivors encounters the ruins of a vanished society. What they discover will threaten their relationship, their memories, and their future.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Bluray Tuesday: Featuring The Elf, Valerian & Good Time

November 21st 2017

New week with few Blurays being released once again. Black Friday is this week so the new releases are a bit light. A24 releases Good Time finally on Bluray today and I'm really looking forward to picking it up. Holiday horror film The Elf is arriving as well and is perfect for the holiday season. I'm sure it's awful but with a few drinks and friends I'm hoping it is at least a fun watch. Extremely limited Bluray run of Teenage Slumber Party Nightmare is next up and it also sounds like  a fun one to watch with friends and drinks. Big releases this week include sci-fi action film Valerian and action comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard starring Deadpool's Ryan Reynolds. Not the biggest week for new stuff but we do get some cool indie horror films that I never thought would get the Bluray treatment. So what will you buy, rent or skip this week? What movies are you looking forward to picking up Black Friday? Let us know in the comments. Lastly I'm hoping everyone has a great Thanksgiving Thursday! I'm thankful for all that read these weekly and enjoy collecting Blurays like myself. Until next week!

The Elf: Amazon - $17.99

Nick is haunted by night terrors stemming from a tragic murder he saw when he was young. After inheriting an old toy shop, he discovers a cursed elf doll sealed inside an ancient chest with a naughty list of his family’s names written on it. He soon discovers that the elf was an evil conduit meant to unleash a supernatural killing spree during the Christmas Holidays by whomever set it free.

The Elf (Blu-ray) 

Teenage Slumber Party Nightmare: Amazon - $29.99
Only 100 copies made 

Four teens on Spring Break plan the ultimate slumber party... Beer! Porn! Dancing! Girl Talk! There's a first time for everything - including the deranged stalker who's followed them home. He leaves them love notes, but the girls laugh it off. He spies through the windows, but they don't know it. Soon he sneaks in, masked and carrying his rusty power drill. A young man's obsession becomes a nightmare in this driller killer slasher.

Teenage Slumber Party Nightmare (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Good Time: Amazon - $17.99

After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine "Connie" Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the city's underworld in an increasingly desperate—and dangerous—attempt to get his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Connie finds himself on a mad descent into violence and mayhem as he races against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing their lives hang in the balance.

Good Time (Blu-ray) 

Delores Claiborne: Amazon - $21.99

Dark secrets, family torments, and two murders swirl around the stoic, hardened figure of Dolores Claiborne, a housekeeper accused of murdering her employer of 22 years.
Dolores Claiborne (Blu-ray) 

Birth of the Dragon: Amazon - $18.99

Young, up-and-coming martial artist, Bruce Lee, challenges legendary kung fu master Wong Jack Man to a no-holds-barred fight in Northern California.

Birth of the Dragon (Blu-ray) 

Jungle: Amazon - $15.99

A mysterious guide escorts an enthusiastic adventurer and his friend into the Amazon jungle. Their journey turns into a terrifying ordeal as the darkest elements of human nature and the deadliest threats of the wild force them to fight for survival.
Jungle (Blu-ray)

Ice Cream Truck: Amazon - $17.99

When a local ice cream man who has a love for nostalgia starts to kill some of her neighbors, Mary is torn between her mature instincts that something is wrong and the distracting memories of her younger days.

The Ice Cream Truck (Blu-ray) 

Valerian: Amazon - $19.99
4K: Amazon - $24.99

In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Blu-ray) 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 4K (Blu-ray) 

Steelbook: Best Buy 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

The Hitman's Bodyguard: Amazon - $19.99
4K: Amazon - $24.99

The world's top protection agent is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world's most notorious hit men. The relentless bodyguard and manipulative assassin have been on the opposite end of the bullet for years and are thrown together for a wildly outrageous 24 hours. During their journey from England to the Hague, they encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a merciless Eastern European dictator who is out for blood.

The Hitman's Bodyguard (Blu-ray) 

The Hitman's Bodyguard 4K (Blu-ray) 

Steelbook: Best Buy - $24.99

The Hitman's Bodyguard (Blu-ray) 

 -The Impostor

Monday, November 20, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Monday to Friday): Rift, Phenomena, Dark Signal

It's Thanksgiving week, which means the screenings in the bay area are pretty sparse right now. But in a rare turn of events, there's actually some good stuff on VOD! I can honestly say I recommend most of these, with the exception of Dark Signal since I've never seen it. Rift, which was made by the same writer/director as Child Eater, is amazing and won the PUFF tiara this year. Both movies are up on VOD actually... Good Time was a nonstop, high tension, high stakes urban fantasy that I couldn't relax through (in a good way), and IT, well we've all seen IT by now. But if you've got an itch that only a spooky clown can satisfy, there you go. 

Terror Tuesday

Tuesday 21st @ 10pm (1hr 56min)
Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Fantasy (Rotten Tomatoes)
A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.

Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd @ 7pm & 9:15pm (1hr 47min)
Biography/ Crime/ Drama (IMDB)
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. He would become one of America's most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story. Jeff Dahmer (Disney Channel's Ross Lynch) is an awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school with a family life in ruins. He collects roadkill, fixates on a neighborhood jogger (Vincent Kartheiser, "Mad Men"), and copes with his unstable mother (Anne Heche) and well-intentioned father (Dallas Roberts). He begins to act out at school, and his goofball antics win over a group of band-nerds who form The Dahmer Fan Club, headed by Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff, "Patriots Day"). But this camaraderie can't mask his growing depravity. Approaching graduation, Jeff spirals further out of control, inching ever closer to madness.

Available on VOD

VOD Tuesday 21st (1hr 51min)
Drama/ Horror/ Mystery (IMDB)
Gunner receives a strange phone call from his ex-boyfriend, Einar, months after they broke up. Einar sounds distraught, like he's about to do something terrible to himself, so Gunnar drives up to the secluded cabin where Einar is holed up and soon discovers that there's more going on than he imagined. As the two men come to terms with their broken relationship, some other person seems to be lurking outside the cabin, wanting to get in.

VOD Tuesday 21st (2hrs 15min)
Drama/ Horror/ Suspense (Rotten Tomatoes)
New Line Cinema's horror thriller "IT," directed by Andy Muschietti ("Mama"), is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, which has been terrifying readers for decades. When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

VOD Tuesday 21st (1hr 38min)
Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller (IMDB)
The spirit of a murdered girl returns with a message for the staff of a local radio station.

VOD Tuesday 21st (1hr 40min)
Crime/ Drama (IMDB)
After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through New York City's underworld in an increasingly desperate-and dangerous-attempt to get his brother out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Constantine finds himself on a mad descent into violence and mayhem as he races against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing their lives hang in the balance.