Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Impostor's Top 2019 Bluray Tuesday Releases

December 31st 2019

2019 is coming to an end and the last Bluray Tuesday is upon us. Today no new releases arrive today so I decided to feature a few of my personal favorite blurays released in 2019. These are in no particular order but I consider collection worthy and have re watchable value. It's been a great year for film and Bluray alike and there are many more that are just as great that are not listed. I'm very thankful to all who check these out over the past few years and I enjoy talking about the releases on Instagram and social media with you guys. Here's to another great year in 2020! What are some of your favorite releases this year let us know in the comments. Until next year!

Hell Fest 4K (Blu-ray) 

Hell Fest (4K): Amazon - $19.99 

A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

Hell Fest hit theaters in 2018 and was out week one of 2019 on Bluray. Slashers are my number one in the horror genre and it was great to see slashers make a comeback to the big screen. Hell Fest has just enough mystery, story and cool kills to keep you engaged, so this was an easy pick for me.


Halloween 4K (Blu-ray) 

Halloween (2018) (4K): Amazon - $12.99

A woman faces the masked figure who has haunted her since she escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Halloween 2018 was announced and I was genuinely excited and counted the days to see this in theaters. I wanted to see how Blumhouse re wrote history with this sequel taking place after John Carpenter's Halloween (1978). While my excitement took over but once I saw in theaters I was left wanting something more. I re watched on Bluray, released mid January, and thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to Halloween Kills October 2020.


Valentine (Blu-ray) 

Valentine: Amazon - $26.99

Four best friends are looking for a Valentine to die for. And this year, they might just get their wish.

For years, fans of this cult post-Scream slasher have been looking forward to an upgraded Bluray edition to add to their collections. Thanks to the awesome Scream Factory, our dreams came true! It's loaded with bonus material, a great new scan and cool artwork with a reversible cover. I watch this film every year for Valentine's Day, so glad to own this edition for the yearly holiday watch.


The Little Mermaid 4K (Blu-ray) 

The Little Mermaid (4K): Amazon - $18.99

Ariel, a fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, is off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder, and the reggae-singing Caribbean crab Sebastian at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true—and save her father's beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula!

Now I'm a huge horror film fan number one but I also love Disney, and 2019 celebrates the 30th anniversary of one of my favorites, The Little Mermaid. This edition was released with some new material, new 4K scan that looks amazing and a few retailer exclusives when it hit shelves late February. This Disney film features my favorite Disney villain, Ursula, and favorite sidekick, Flounder. It is one collector's edition releases worth owning. 


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 4K (Blu-ray)

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse (4K): Amazon - $19.99

Miles Morales takes up the Spider-Man mantle in order to help several other Spider-Men from other dimensions stop the Kingpin from destroying the universe with a super collider.

Arguably one of the best Spider-Man movies to date and is one I've watched a few times since I bought it. I sadly missed this in theaters and will definitely catch its sequel in theaters when it comes out. This animated feature is full of action has a great story and is even pretty funny. I highly recommend this film and Bluray.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 4K (Blu-ray)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Amazon - $19.00

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

I loved this first Fantastic Beasts film and couldn't wait for its sequel. This 4K Bluray looks stunning and is a solid sequel to its predecessor. The Harry Potter series is a favorite of mine and this is a great addition to the collection especially if you love the wizarding world of Harry Potter.


Aquaman 4K (Blu-ray) 

Aquaman: Amazon - $16.99

Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and to be a hero to the world.

DC Comics live action films have had a rough road with a string of not so great films. Wonder Woman was the light at the end of the tunnel and showed a glimmer of hope for WB. So going into Aquaman I was super hesitant but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this film. The casting was perfect and I liked the action, fight scenes and story overall. I'd love to see a sequel to this one with the hopes that DC can keep up this momentum.


Climax (Blu-ray) 

Climax: Amazon - $22.99

In the mid 90’s, 20 urban dancers join together for a three-day rehearsal in a closed-down boarding school located at the heart of a forest to share one last dance. They then make one last party around a large sangria bowl. Quickly, the atmosphere becomes charged and a strange madness will seize them the whole night. If it seems obvious to them that they have been drugged, they neither know by who nor why. And it’s soon impossible for them to resist to their neurosises and psychoses, numbed by the hypnotic and the increasing electric rhythm of the music. While some feel in paradise, most of them plunge into hell.

I went into Gasper Noe's Climax blind and was shocked as to what I was watching. The movie takes a few turns and doesn't let up. One of my favorite films of 2019 for sure. Very intense, fluid, and it's definitely a trip worth taking.


Shredder (Blu-ray) 

Shredder: Amazon - $25.99

Horror hits the slopes in this sexy slasher film about a gang of snowboarders on a one-way chair lift to terror! Featuring hot young stars, killer suspense and snowboarding sequences to die for, Shredder is an ice-cold, rip-roaring scare-fest that takes terror to a whole new altitude! When seven hot-blooded coeds break into an abandoned ski lodge, the stage is set for a wild weekend of hot partying and heavy powder. But when the bodies start turning up, they begin to suspect they're not alone. Stalked by a psychotic skier, the gang soon discovers that on the slopes...no one can hear you scream!

Shredder is one of those cheap blind buys you find in the $1.99 bin of DVD's. One night watching this with friends and some drinks expecting the worst, it caught us all by surprise as to how fun this film is! And this year we are gifted this awesome Bluray release from Scorpion Releasing with a cool slip cover with art from Cavity Colors main artist Devon. This is a must own for horror and film fans alike and has great replay value.


Leprechaun Returns (Blu-ray)

Leprechaun Returns: Amazon - $5.99

Twenty-five years ago, a young woman and her friends stopped an evil Leprechaun by shoving a four-leaf clover in its mouth and watching its melting body fall into a well in North Dakota. What happened to his pot of gold is anyone's guess. Today, the property is run by the AU Sorority House of a premiere Eco-science college. A group of students decide to spend their summer vacation turning the house into a perfect "green" living abode. And it would be challenging enough, without the depraved Leprechaun they unwittingly revive. 

Set after the events of the original Leprechaun, Leprechaun Returns was announced for the SyFy Channel. After Leprechaun Origins, I had no faith in another film in this franchise especially without Warwick Davis attached. But I'd highly recommend this film, it's everything you would want from it and has a few surprises I didn't see coming. Definitely a solid sequel with its new actor doing an awesome job as Leprechaun. I'm all in for a sequel to this. 


Shazam! 4K (Blu-ray)

Shazam! (4K): Amazon - $19.99

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM! - this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.

Referring to Aquaman earlier and hoping DC Comics films can keep up their momentum, and now they have three in a row. Wonder Woman, Aquaman and now Shazam!! Out of all of these Shazam! is one I knew the least about and went into it blind but I loved every moment of this film. I feel this one is super underrated and deserves a watch its full of heart, action and laughs. 


Alita: Battle Angel 4K + 3D (Blu-ray) 

Alita: Battle Angel: Amazon - $28.99

Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

Talking about underrated films of the year, this also applies to Alita. I'd never seen the anime this film is based on but as a summer popcorn flick this has everything you would want. I'd love to see a sequel to this but I guess time will tell if we see it.


Avengers: Endgame 4K (Blu-ray) 

Avengers Endgame (4K): Amazon - $26.99

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers -- Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner -- must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos -- the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.

10 years of story and films all comes down to this. Avengers Endgame is a satisfying end to the core 6 Avengers stories that have been told over 22 films. And while not a perfect film, it's definitely impactful. Must watch and is for sure cinematic history.


Brightburn 4K (Blu-ray) 

Brightburn: Amazon - $18.99

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

Evil kids were definitely a trend this past year with The Prodigy, Netflix's Eli and Brightburn, which may be the most intense and evil. I loved this film and the aspect of what if "superman" was evil and not chose to do right and abide by society's rules. Must watch and own in my opinion. 


Booksmart (Blu-ray) 

Booksmart: Amazon - $14.99

Two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.

One of the funniest films I've seen this year! I loved the dynamic of the two leads and the scenarios they are put in. Overall great coming of age story and life experiences with your best friends.


Nightmare Cinema (Blu-ray) 

Nightmare Cinema: Amazon - $11.99

Five strangers converge at a haunted movie theater owned by The Projectionist (Mickey Rourke). Once inside, the audience members witness a series of screenings that shows them their deepest fears and darkest secrets over five tales.

I love a good horror anthology and this indie straight to Bluray went a little under the radar but it has some great and creepy stories. I'm looking forward to rewatch again soon.


John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum 4K (Blu-ray) 

John Wick 3: Amazon - $19.99

Former hit man has a $14 million dollar open contract on his life after he killed a member of the High Table. He now must find a way to survive!

Nonstop action and edge of your seat fight sequences with everyone, and anyone is after John Wick! It gets super intense. This is a great chapter in the John Wick trilogy and another highlight Bluray of 2019.


Crawl (Blu-ray) 

Crawl: Amazon - $16.99

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a Catagory 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

This was the most I've held my breath during a movie. I was on edge of my seat in 90% of its runtime. Anxiety filled but defiantly a fun ride. 


The Haunting of Hill House (Blu-ray) 

The Haunting of Hill House: Amazon - $27.99

The Haunting of Hill House is a modern reimagining of Shirley Jackson's legendary novel of the same name, about five siblings who grew up in the most famous haunted house in America. Now adults, they're reunited by the suicide of their youngest sister, which forces them to finally confront the ghosts of their own pasts...some which lurk in their minds...and some which may really be lurking in the shadows of the iconic Hill House.

I loved this series and binge watched it in a day when it was released on Netflix. Season 2 hits this coming year and the Bluray released comes with new bonus material and extended episodes that i plan to revisit before its sophomore season. 


Suspiria 4K (Blu-ray)

Suspiria (1977) (4K): Amazon - $42.99

An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy gradually realizes that something very sinister is going on at the school.

Stunning 4K transfer of a classic film with amazing new artwork. Must own for film collectors.


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 4K (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Amazon - $27.99

A story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton, former star of a western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth. Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. But Rick has a new next-door neighbor, who may be a rising star…Sharon Tate.

Quenten Tarantino's 9th film with an all star cast and beautiful 4K transfer. It pays nostalgic homage to the golden age of cinema. Overall makes this a collection worthy title. 


It: Chapter Two 4K (Blu-ray)

It Chapter 2: Amazon - $27.99

In the sleepy town of Derry, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to torment the grown-up members of the Losers' Club, who have long since drifted apart from one another.

My number one most anticipated film of the year and Bluray. The slip cover is really nice and it includes an exclusive bonus bluray disc filled with bonus material and an in depth documentary on the makings of both films. I love Pennywise and while I liked Chapter One a bit more, this bluray is visually stunning and benefited from the second viewing for me.

 -The Impostor

Monday, December 30, 2019

Listener Sam Reviews: Perfect, A Psychedelic Body Horror Odyssey

To learn that Brainfeeder Films had produced something new, and that it bafflingly had Steven Soderbergh attached as a producer, was a thrill. I was a huge fan of 2017’s Kuso, so when this popped up on Shudder, I was surprised I’d never heard of it. I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised though, Kuso is a punishingly inaccessible film that feels exclusively made for perverts and punishment-gluttons like myself. It’s not a genre that invites advertising. Regardless, I threw myself right into Perfect, unsure of what to expect, and found myself hypnotized by its fluorescent neon-tinged aesthetics. 

For those out of the loop, Brainfeeder Films is a film production company founded by electronic musician Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) and filmmaker Eddie Alcazar as an offshoot of Brainfeeder Records. For those of you who know me personally, you may be aware of my Flying Lotus fandom, which was only solidified by his unique and bizarre collaborations with artists like Shintaro Kago and filmmakers such as David Lynch (plus a cavalcade of musical collaborators).  When he announced he was moving into film, I was really excited, as his music and live performances have strong visual elements. Kuso was a flop with many viewers, but I liked it quite a bit, and was excited for more.

I’m happy to report that Perfect is a far more pleasant film than Kuso, and is somehow more inscrutable. It follows Garrett, a troubled teen who’s sent to a clinic after committing a violent act. The goal of his treatment there is “Perfection,” which is achieved through a brutal and psychedelic process of body modification. “Perfection is horrible,” we’re told early on in voiceover by Garrett’s mother. This serves as the film’s thesis, as the treatments Garrett receives draw him further and further from humanity.

Perfect doesn’t give you much more than that and invites the viewer to discover the plot, which is told through flashbacks, voiceovers, and hallucinations within split timelines that blend reality and fantasy. What we’re given is challenging, and could be interpreted as being anything from mindless nonsense to a trans-human biopunk epic. The reality presumably falls somewhere in between, so I’ll leave that to you, dear reader, to decide for yourself.

What you’ll get for certain is a beautiful eighty-eight montage of visuals. Among the most notable visuals were Garrett’s violent flashbacks, which are shown in garish vfx-heavy black and white. These are accompanied by sequences of neon rotoscoping and 80's styled retro-futuristic animations. The clinic itself is a gorgeous modernist building built in a jungle that feels simultaneously on the outskirts of Los Angeles and alone on an alien planet.

The effects of Garrett’s transformation also stand out. We see his shift in a variety of ways, but central his transformation is the methodical slicing-out of cubes of flesh from his face, which he replaces with crustal cubes. The effect itself is gorgeous and provides a fantastic visual means of tracking Garrett’s progress through the clinic. Since this is a body horror film, he experiences other physical transformation, more harrowing than his face-slicing, but I’ll leave those for you to discover.

Garrett Wareing’s performance as Garrett (Credited as Vessel #13) really makes the movie work. Although there is dialogue, it’s sparse and often occurs in voiceover and pre-lap. Instead, we rely on his body language and physical acting which is top-notch. His dispassionate expressions and unsteady, spastic movement entrance the viewer. Alcazar goes out of his way to objectify Wareing, both before and after his transformation, inviting the viewer to gawk as the body horror unfolds. 

In many ways, Perfect feels like a long-form music video; style never cedes control to substance. Characters come and go without reason. Whole sequences exist as if only to spotlight the music. Hard changes in lighting and palette break the film into music video like segments. This, of course, works perfectly with Flying Lotus’ beautiful score. The music blends minimal string pieces with thrumming electronic beats which often overtake everything. This score makes you feel the film as much as view it.

Perfect is not a film for everybody, but if you like your films to be light on plot and high on psychedelics, you’re in luck. Perfect blends movies like Beyond the Black Rainbow and Antiviral with the arthouse aesthetic of Gaspar Noe and music video directors like Chris Cunningham and Jesse Kanda. The end result is a trippy, visceral film that’s both beautiful and ugly. It almost feels like a “watch it on drugs” movie designed to give the viewer a bad trip.

Perfect is available on Shudder and on Amazon Prime! 

-Listener Sam

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Christmas with Cookie

"In the year 3978 global warming has made a desert of the North Pole. Santa and Mrs. Claus battle angry skeletons who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas. Evil aliens try to take over the world and a giant abominable snow man wants Santa for his next meal."

3 of 7 viewers "Liked" "Christmas With Cookie" (2016, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Math Mage - "This movie would have been better without the title character. It was the sort of nonsense I like but broken up with a narration segment featuring a low rent Crypt Keeper." - 3 Stars

Listener Sam - "This movie. Wow. It's got jokes, kind of. And a yeti. And aliens. And it ends with the entire story as a rap. I loathed this, but want to force others to watch it. I'd watch the sequels." - 1 Star

Lord Battle - "A yuppie couple brew a magic potion that when ingested will reveal the best moment to attack Santa. The best time turned out to be a 1000 years after the apocalypse when Santa was making out with his girlfriend in the desert. Lucky this potion resurrected the couple as skeletons so they could carry out their sneak attack. This all happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie and accurately represents the insane/interesting ideas executed in Christmas with Cookie... Oh and Cookie is a horror host who is "narrating" aka interrupting the story about every 5-10 minutes. The bulk of this film is rapid-fire ideas executed on a micro-budget canvas and they mostly miss (by design?). I'd say the film loses momentum as it plays out, but the awkward Cookie interruptions act as a sort of lifeboat which offers quick relief. Yet too much of a good thing is bad and about halfway through the movie Cookie overstays his welcome and worse, reuses jokes. If you've got a solid group of film explorers who are willing to brave the micro-budget world, check this one out next Christmas. If you are a solo adventurer, good luck. If neither applies to you, why are you here? - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Christmas with Cookie should not be watched alone. Bad jokes and crazy illogical storylines are best experienced with friends, especially the anti-jokes that Cookie spews during his time on screen. And even then you might want to make this a drinking game movie." - 3 Stars

KillDozer - "I'm not sure if saying this is for Troma fans is a compliment or an insult. It has a Christmas with Cookie rap so that is something. This was way less predictable than Midsommar." - 2.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Bad jokes galore! Christmas with Cookie is far from a good movie. I will say this inspired me to make a short film or something because if this can be made and released, I'm sure I can make something solid and at least funny. The comedy and jokes are extremely cringe worthy and backed by 1960's special effects. I could tell they had fun making this film and I love that but I would have turned this off if I was watching alone. I love holiday inspired horror films but this one missed the mark for me." - 1.5 Stars

Wondering Panda - *Fell Asleep* - 2 Stars (Default)

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

Christmas with Cookie has been living on the Overlook shelves for several years now, ever since a reviewer (who will remain unnamed) was handed the DVD after admitting they liked Christmas horror movies. And this was the year Cookie finally made it to the screen.

There's no reason not to accept a movie that's being handed out to admitted fans of Christmas horror; there's always a chance you'll end up with a low budget gem that's telling a story you haven't seen a dozen renditions of. Of course, there's also the chance you'll find a movie that's so confusingly unfunny that it feels like a prank on everyone who watches it.

Enter Cookie.

Christmas with Cookie is 53 minutes long. There are 240 images for it on IMDB, along with six reviews, all of which are either one or ten stars. And the story feels like a collection of partial plots jammed together by our host, Cookie, who sits next to a pitcher of milk amidst a mountain of cookies every time he's on screen. We all started keeping a close eye in that milk... 

But even with a host that made us groan and check the time more than anything, the Overlook's captive audience stuck with it (no they didn't have a choice) and made the best of a low budget, kind of Christmas experience, which managed to surprise us with some good looking cheap gore and unexpected monster appearances.

But I will not be suggesting we screen the sequels.
Also, Cookie totally drinks the milk.


The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Residence for a screening on 12/5/2019

*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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Digging Up The Dirt with KillDozer and Dog Eat Dog

In our horror community is it no secret that fans of heavy music also tend to be some of the biggest horror nerds you will ever meet. Dave Neabore is no exception except that he also composes and happens to play in one of the most note worthy HipHop Hardcore bands ever, Dog Eat Dog. I was lucky enough to become friends with Dave through my admiration of his original horror one sheet and soundtrack collections before realizing that his love of the genre went far beyond being a fan and that he has created some horror sights and sounds of his own. I got a chance to dig up the dirt with Dave while he was on the road living the tour life.

KillDozer: Let's start at the beginning. What inspired your love of horror, music and horror music?

Dave Neabore: I’ve loved horror and music since I was a kid. My parents took me to movies like The Howling, Jaws 2, Godzilla Vs Megalon, The Deep, and they really affected me. I grew up in a time where there were so many horror movie ads in the papers and early Fangoria magazines were on the supermarket shelves. VHS and cable TV were just entering the mainstream. There was so much going on and for this 10 year old in 1980, I was fascinated and horrified at the same time. I always loved music especially heavy metal and I also appreciated classical music which is why I think I was attracted to horror soundtracks too.

KD: When did you start your incredible one sheet collection? 

Dave: I started collecting movie posters in the early-mid 80's. I used to beg the local video stores for posters. When I started visiting horror conventions my original one-sheet collection began. I remember Fright Night, Dawn Of The Dead, and The Hills Have Eyes being among the first in my collection. My favorites are US and Canadian slashers from 78-82, and anything Italian.

KD: Tell us about Dog Eat Dog. Is the rest of the band into horror as well?

Dave: Dog Eat Dog is currently on tour in Europe and working on new music. We’ve been together for 28 years now so our journey has been pretty incredible. I’ve made the other band members watch so many horror and cult movies over the decades of vans, hotels, and tour bus back lounges! I think they all appreciate a good horror movie but not necessarily the C or D movies I tend to love.

KD: You have shared stages with legendary bands like Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, and Suicidal Tendencies to name a few. What is the best part about touring? Do you have a solid work life balance or is all your time spent with Dog Eat Dog?

Dave: One day I’ll make a master list of bands we've shared the stage with over the years. It's hard for me to believe that I was a teenage kid listening to my records of all these great bands and I would someday share the stage with them thanks to Dog Eat Dog. I think the best part of touring is seeing so many different countries and making friends around the world. It really is an education in itself and to get paid for it is just an added bonus. At this stage of our career the band is considered part time. We usually do 40-50 shows a year and then we have jobs that pay health insurance for the rest of the year.

KD: Your soundtrack collection is the stuff of legend. Has touring helped you to find rare titles? How do you take care of these delicate treasures while on the road?

Dave: Haha thank you! I’ve been collecting soundtracks since the early 80's and have acquired quite a nice collection. Vinyl is cool of course, but I still love CD's so I can listen in my car. I’m always on the lookout for new soundtracks wherever I go on tour. I usually do some research on the city before I get there and if I have the time I’ll run to used record and DVD shops and buy whatever I can. I always manage to come home with something new. Taking care of vinyl in a touring situation isn’t easy, so you have to make sure you’re careful, but I’ve seen some rarities in France, Germany, and Italy and I know I’d regret it later if I didn’t pick them up.

KD: Let's get into your original compositions. You composed for both the film Biohazardous in 2001 and documentary Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered in 2008. What were those experiences like? How were you approached to work on these projects?

Dave: I was contacted by my good friend Michael J. Hein, who directed Biohazardous, to compose an opening title theme. I didn’t have any of time or money, so basically I had one day in the studio to come up with the music. I thought of Italian Zombie soundtracks and I tried to incorporate a “biological” feel. Overall it was a fun experience. For Paura I was contacted via phone by director Mike Baronas. We had never met before but he heard the track I did for Lucio Fulci: A Symphony Of Fear and wanted me to do 5 tracks for the documentary.  I decided to do a part homage, part mash-up of Fulci soundtracks, and hopefully this soundtrack will be released again in the near future.

KD: It must have been an honor to take part in a Fulci documentary. Have you received more interest in your compositions since then? Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Dave: Yes it was an honor for sure, it is because of that soundtrack that I was approached by Stephen Romano to score the Bottomfeeder and Zombie comic books from Eibon Press. One thing always leads to another. I am starting a full length record in the fall. It’s going to be a mix of styles but all instrumental.

KD: Are you at all surprised about the amount of horror community followers you have on your Instagram? Do you think heavy music and horror go hand and hand?

Dave: I originally joined Instagram as a way to share my horror collection and my band experiences with friends. I’ve had a slow but steady buildup of followers and I’m really happy when I meet them in real life in different countries. Horror and heavy metal definitely go hand in hand and there’s a great book called Heavy Metal Movies that proves that point!

KD: Tell me about the short film Jason Hurts? What was it like directing a horror comedy? How did the idea come together?

Dave: I started making short films in the early 90's and eventually had a decent budget for a few of them. Jason Hurts is part of my “backyard” shorts, where I literally filmed them in the backyard using only close friends. Jason Hurts was an idea between me and my friend Scott Adams. We thought what if Jason Voorhees was depressed and the idea just grew from there. After I put it up on YouTube I was contacted by the producer of the Friday The 13th documentary called His Name Was Jason, and he asked if they could use it as a bonus on the DVD.  I had to change the music for legal reasons but the original version is on YouTube.

KD: I can honestly say that you inspired me to try and collect horror themed beer and that's saying a lot because I'm an old straight edge dude. Tell us about your collection. Do you drink them and hold onto the bottles? What do you think has sparked the giant interest in micro brews lately?

Dave: I used to have a huge collection of craft beer but it’s impossible to keep up anymore so I just buy and enjoy. I’m always on the lookout for movie related beers, and I do keep the bottles of the really cool ones. I love going to breweries and drinking right at the place where the beer is made. You know it’s fresh and made with love. I think people are finally sick of Budweiser and Coors being the definition of beer, life is too short to drink that crap.

KD: Will you be making any other films any time soon? If so what is your dream project?

Dave: I took a break from making short films to concentrate on music. One day I’ll upgrade my equipment and make another horror project. It’s a ton of work doing that stuff and I don’t have the time at the moment. My dream is to direct a full length horror movie, and I’ll make one even if it’s the last thing I ever do!

KD: Where can we go to follow Dog Eat Dog and view your awesome collection of beers, original one sheets, and horror soundtracks?

Dave: Instagram @dogeatdog.official for up to date news and pics or follow me at @dogeatdave to see my horror collection.

KD: Okay time for fun questions- If you could re-score any film what would it be and why?

Dave: I’d re-score Dario Argento’s Trauma. I’m a huge fan of composer Pino Donaggio, but I felt the score did not match the tone of the film correctly. I would do a Goblin style score and I think the movie would be a bit more intense.

KD: What are the last 3 modern horror titles that blew your mind?

Dave: Well I don’t know if they are still considered modern but I enjoyed Haute Tension, A Serbian Film, and The Descent.

KD: What is your favorite piece of horror memorabilia that is not a one sheet or soundtrack?

Dave: That’s all I have! Lol I don’t really collect much else but my Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things laserdisc signed by Bob Clark and Alan Ormsby is something I cherish.

KD: If you were writing an autobiography what would be the title?

Dave: “Don’t Talk About It, Do It” But that’s been taken so I have to think of another title haha.

Enjoy Dave's short Jason Hurt and check out the rest of his shorts at his YouTube Channel
And get all the Dog Eat Dog info you need at DogEatDogOfficial.com!


Friday, December 6, 2019

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Knives and Skin (2019)

A mystical teen noir that follows a young girl's disappearance in the rural Midwest and its effect on teens and parents.

7 of 7 viewers "Liked" "Knives and Skin" (2019, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Lord Battle - "Mortality is trumped by being "in like", while adulthood is measured by one's emotional restraint in Jennifer Reeder's melodrama masterpiece, Knives and Skin. Now I don't often refer to films as a masterpiece but I really mean it here... Let me try to express why. Knives and Skin is like a TV show comprised solely of Degrassi cliffhangers, haunted by the cynical silent screams of Douglas Sirk. Knives and Skin is the emotional ambiance of Twin Peaks painted in the light of a Mario Bava set. Knives and Skin shows Laura Palmer what it's really like to be a McGuffin. Most importantly Knives and Skin is progressive, edgy, and earnest without being aggressively preachy. I loved it and can't wait to own it in a physical form to work through all the visual metaphor on a 2nd and 3rd watch." - 5 Stars

KillDozer - "Warning! This film seems to inspire some viewers into bursts of laughter or humming along with the soundtrack. With that being said the film "works" and succeeds as an emotional experience that causes an uneasy reaction driven by nervous anxiety. This works the same way a jump scare works with cookie cutter genre films. This is not a horror film in a traditional sense but it does have terrifying elements especially if you are a parent. What is scarier than puberty?!?! Knives and Skin is cinematic proof that a unique and extraordinary artistic vision can be accomplished in a world overrun with remakes. This is a film you experience. one more warning this is not a straightforward genre title!" - 3.5 Stars

Math Mage - "Surreal exploration of several dysfunctional families full of strange, compelling characters. Very good though not my favorite type of film, the drama that wasn't quite a musical." - 3.5 Stars

Dr. Gonzo - "This film was meant for a select audience, particularly if you're a fan of David Lynch, Twin Peaks style characters. The bizarre story implemented crossovers and conflict. It took us in so many directions. Yes, it's a story of a girl who's killed, but it leaves us thinking and wanting to create our own timeline of the events. All the characters in the movie are relatable. My favorite is the sad clown. Might seem so irrelevant to a casual audience, but I understood the metaphor. This film is full of metaphors. You can pick and choose which ones you relate to. Enjoy this movie, it went there, and wasn't scared to take us. It was a fun film, I recommend it." - 4 Stars

Clark Little - "Jennifer Reeder has reinstilled my faith in contemporary melodrama. Knives and Skin is a creative, funny and heartfelt examination of adolescence and parenting. The cast works in perfect harmony due to the meticulous direction of their maestro, Reeder. If you need the comparison to Twin Peaks to compel you to watch this, so be it. However, this film is of its own universe and should be treated as such." - 4.5 Stars

Wondering Panda - "Girl goes missing and the effects on the people/community with low key musical symphony/duet/solo. On paper this film should be up my alley, right? But the more I write about it the more disappointed I get, because this could have been great as a full on musical that tackles dark subjects like Sweeney Todd or Les Miserable. But they didn't do that!! They open so many doors but don't fully commit. In the end I felt like one of mister Todd's patrons, numb and sliding head first to hard concrete. I'm sorry that's too rough, it's an okay movie in the end." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Knives and Skin is a teen drama full of dark humor, heartbreak and a touch of fantasy. It’s set in a small town that is devoid of good role models but full of awful adults, so it’s not hard to understand why all the teens we get to know can’t wait to graduate and leave. The movie looks amazing with many of the uncomfortable and tense moments being set to gorgeous neon lighting, which in no way detracts from their tension but does make them more interesting to look at. I was conflicted about the musical numbers at first, but the format quickly grew on me. And judging from the number of people singing along, I think the rest of the audience agrees. I was left with a lot of questions but I don't think Knives and Skin will not have a hard time finding an audience that will love and celebrate it." - 3.5 Stars

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

After the Overlook screening of Jennifer Reeder's Knives and Skin, there were many discussions going on. People enjoyed the song selection and commented on other audience members' animated reactions to certain scenes. And then the subject of genre came up, as one theatre creature commented that this was not a horror movie, at least not in the typical sense. To that, KillDozer (the only parent among us) responded that it most certainly is! And being that he was the only one able to connect to the film from the point of view of a father of two girls, he had plenty that he wanted to ask. And Jennifer was graciously willing to answer everything.


KillDozer: As a writer and director, how do you begin to assemble a complex film like Knives and Skin? When did the initial inspiration hit? Would you consider this a compilation of many ideas or did you have a single focus in mind?

Jennifer Reeder: Knives and Skin is related to themes I have explored in some of my recent short films (A Million Miles Away and Blood Below the Skin for instance, which are both free and public on my Vimeo page). I have made many films about the experiences of girls and women. Specifically, teen girls who are empowered and empowering, and adult women who are experiencing a kind of second coming-of-age. Knives and Skin was born directly from an image (that is used in the film) of three misfit teen girls walking to school along a rural two-lane road. That contrast is semi-autobiographical. Then I built the story from there making sure it had some robust internal logic. The world of Knives and Skin is specific.

KD: I have read reviews telling me that Knives and Skin is a "female movie" and full of "extreme feminism", do you feel that this film connects more with a female audience? Does that idea do a disservice to your work?

JR: This is a film about female empowerment, but I believe that when women are empowered, ALL genders win. My feminism is a spectrum where we all belong. We should all be committed to human equality. Perhaps some reviewers are emphasizing the female characters because so many other films do not consistently offer multi-dimensional female characters. This is a film for EVERYONE. I promise.

KD: The color pallet of Knives and Skin is incredible. The lighting is intense but never distracting. Was this part of the script? How did you go about using these color and lighting techniques in a way that wouldn't take away from what was happening on screen?

JR: The production design of this film, which includes the lighting and the color palette, are part of the narrative content so I never considered that this would distract from the plot, but only enhance. I wanted this film to feel like it was hovering above reality and vibrating with grrrl power energy. For me, cinema is art and no direction should ignore the visual language.

KD: In your opinion does Knives and Skin fall into a particular genre of film? I read it described it as "Mystical Teen Noir" and "a coming of age thriller", do you agree with this or is that something you would rather leave to the audience?

JR: I totally agree with these descriptions. This film is a lot at once, which was totally intentional. It’s almost as though the film itself is experiencing coming of age….it’s transforming as you watch it.

KD: Have you attended screenings of Knives and Skin? What has your experience been like seeing your work in a theatre? Do you pay attention to the reaction of the audience? Are you ever surprised at the reaction your work receives?

JR: I love watching this film with an audience. I am always surprised what parts make people LAUGH, GASP, SOB, WINCE…. There is a reaction for everyone. It’s quite a range, which was written into the script of course.

KD: Was it hard to find support for this film? Knives and Skin is not something I would consider easily marketable. How do you get people to buy into your artistic vision?

JR: It was not hard to find robust support for this film. As I mentioned, it’s related thematically to a handful of recent short films that have been properly vetted in coveted film festivals here in the US and abroad. I had a solid fan base who was ready for a feature length film. Audiences in general are ready for challenging content…..they are smart and curious. More producers, like mine, should take chances.

KD: The music of the film is brilliant. How were you able to use such familiar songs in your film? I have heard that acquiring permission to use "hit songs" can be extremely costly and difficult.

JR: I worked with a great company called Groove Garden. We only needed to secure the publishing rights since the songs were re-arranged and re-performed. I am especially obsessed with the score which was composed by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He is brilliant.

KD: How involved were you in the casting of the film? The performances felt both powerful and organic. Did you have people in mind when casting or writing the film?

JR: I hand picked every actor in this film. I do not have a film without the performances. We cast this entire film out of Chicago, which has an extremely well respected theatre community….the very best in the country I would say. The awkwardness of the dialogue is grounded in the performances which are solid AF. No film director should EVER underestimate theater actors….they are fearless. I am in awe of the performances in this film.

KD: How do you react to the film reviewers who compare this film to Twin Peaks? Are you inspired by the work of David Lynch? Do you feel that this is a fair comparison or observation from those seeing Knives and Skin?

JR: I don’t mind this comparison. In terms of Lynch though, I have been much more influenced by Blue Velvet or Lost Highway…..my favorite film about a dead girl is River’s Edge rather than Twin Peaks. I hope that soon some who have seen Knives and Skin first watch some Lynch and wonder if he has been influenced by me. Lynch and I went to Art School rather than Film School and I appreciate how he injects surrealism into storylines.

KD: By the end of this film I was left wanting more. I wanted to live in that world a little longer. Did you have total control when editing the film? Was anything left on the cutting room floor that you regret?

JR: Oh gosh, we (my editor Mike Olenick and I) cut out a lot, which will be available when IFC releases it. But I did have full creative control over the final edit. And I am in development with a new film, so you are about to get your next fix!

KD: You capture the intensity of loss and letting go in a way that prompts me to ask if those elements of the film were written from personal experience?

JR: I have experienced loss…heartbreak and death and I wanted to make a film that portrayed grief as intensely personal and particular. The primary autobiographical element is the courtship between the substitute teacher and the student. I did not know how to process that situation until I was an adult. This is a very much a film about abuses of consent among girls which I started writing before #metoo.

KD: What do you hope people will experience in viewing Knives and Skin?

JR: I like to fast forward to the cosplay sing-a-long screenings of this film. I want audiences to lean WAY into Knives and Skin.

KD: Okay time for some fun/silly questions.... If this film was remade 10 years from now as a Hollywood blockbuster who would direct and who would star?

JR: I would direct with the exact same cast.

KD: What was your favorite film as a teenager and why?

JR: I was obsessed with Hitchcock’s Rebecca….. it’s a female led love triangle/ghost story….from a novel written by Daphne Du Maurier who is a master of psychological thrillers. I would love to remake Rebecca.

KD: What is your favorite high school TV show of all time? 

JR: My So Called Life!!!!!!!!!!

KD: What film impressed you the most from 2019 and why?

JR: I am obsessed with Queen and Slim! More films like this please!!

Be sure to check out Jennifer's previous work on her Vimeo page!
And look for Knives and Skin on VOD and Digital HD starting December 6th!


The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Residence for a screening on 11/7/2019

*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, December 3, 2019

Listener Sam Reviews: Daniel Isn't Real (2019)

Adam Egypt Mortimer made his feature debut in 2015 with a film called Some Kind of Hate. I remember not only really liking Some Kind of Hate but watching it twice upon release. Thus, I was appropriately excited to see his sophomore venture. Five years on, I recall little about Some Kind of Hate, other than it being a character-driven horror flick about self-hating teenagers and a self-hating ghost. I can assure you that Daniel Isn’t Real won’t be so easily forgotten.

In anticipation of my viewing of Daniel Isn’t Real at FilmQuest, (a little genre film festival in Provo Utah that punches well above its weight class), I had planned on re-watching Some Kind of Hate. -- I didn’t. -- I don’t necessarily feel bad about it, though it’s probably the true overlooked film of this article. Regardless, Mortimer himself has said that Some Kind of Hate didn’t meet his vision, which is a shame. Some Kind of Hate was already an excellent film and after seeing Daniel, I can only imagine what the end product might have been.

That said, part of me still wanted to rewatch Mortimer’s debut feature in anticipation of re-watching Daniel Isn’t Real at Beyond Fest. When push came to shove, I was so enthralled with the first viewing, that when seeing this a second time, I only wanted to further immerse myself into this film. The visuals, acting, and frenetic editing almost cast a spell, and the end result is mesmerizing.

Instead of digging deeper into Mortimer’s filmography, I instead committed to further immersing myself in the world of Daniel Isn’t Real. My first step was to begin reading the book that this is based off. “In This Way I Was Saved” is the debut novel from Brian DeLeeuw, co-writer of this film, Some Kind of Hate, and a handful of other screenplays and novels. I haven’t quite finished it yet, so I’m going to withhold comment, but I can say that DeLeeuw’s writing is phenomenal, and I can see how Mortimer found the book worthy of adaptation.

Both the novel and the film tell the tale of Luke Nightingale (played by Miles Robbins, best known for his appearance in Blockers) and his imaginary friend Daniel (played absolutely amazingly by Patrick Schwarzenegger). Luke manifests Daniel in his childhood as a coping mechanism to deal with neglect and trauma. However, when his childhood relationship with Daniel becomes unhealthy, he’s forced to lock the figment away in a dollhouse, to be forgotten for the next 12 years.

The film focuses on the reemergence of Daniel in response to Luke’s struggle with the pressure of college. The imaginary friend, invisible to all but Luke, helps him develop social skills and cope with the circumstances of his life. Though initially, his presence improves Luke’s life drastically, it quickly becomes clear that Daniel has ulterior motives.

Daniel Isn’t Real is a film defined by the quality of its performances. Robbins and Schwarzenegger make a perfect pair. Robbins portrays Luke as shy, unconfident, and all-around doofy. He’s unfashionable, untalented, and outwardly disinteresting. We see it through his tense body language, and through his drab costuming, especially when compared to Daniel. It’s an excellent and difficult performance, that’s made all the better as his character goes through a downward spiral, where Robbins really shows an impressive range.

While Robbins’ portrayal of Luke is great, it’s Schwarzenegger’s role as Daniel that steals the show. His character is a slick mix of Patrick Bateman and Tyler Durden. He swaggers around in gaudy outfits -- lamΓ© dress shirts, vibrant faux leather, mesh t-shirts. Other times he appears shirtless, and he is pure eye candy. He’s the opposite of Luke; confident, handsome, smooth, while also being arrogant and impetuous. Schwarzenegger’s performance feels incredibly natural, whether he’s lounging in a bathtub, goading Luke to prank his roommate, or engaging in more nefarious plots. It’s worth seeing the film for his role alone.

What follows is a tense and uncomfortable journey as Daniel works to become a real boy and Luke tries to stop him. In doing so, he builds a relationship with a struggling artist, Cassie (Sasha Lane), and Daniel coaxes him into another relationship with Sophie (Hannah Marks). This goes as poorly as expected and sets Luke careening into a fight for his own mental health, his love, and ultimately his life.

I don’t want to spoil too much about this one. What I’ll say is that I enjoyed it thoroughly both times. There are some sequences that surprised me and hit hard during the first viewing, and I want everyone to experience them as I did. What’s great, however, is that they played well on second viewing too, and I never felt any less interested the second time around.

I’ll also say that this film goes to crazy places. The imagery is at times reminiscent of Gaspar Noe, or perhaps Argento, but it also evokes Cronenberg and undeniably draws inspiration from Bergman’s Persona (but what doesn’t). It has a sex scene that I found extremely uncomfortable. It has gruesome and unexpected body horror that echoes the best of Cronenberg. It sends Luke on a descent into madness where Robbins gets to show off his acting range. We get to see both supporting actresses be badasses in their own way, especially Cassie, who gets an opportunity to kick some ass. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the production design courtesy of Kaet McAnneny (Blue Ruin). While the location scouts nailed the Brooklyn setting for the (relatively few) exteriors we see, the sets of this movie really shine. Luke’s mother lives in a beautiful Victorian brownstone, Cassie lives in the hipstery-est artist loft imaginable (how she pays rent is beyond me), there’s even a scene set in a series of steam tunnels that feel filthy and infested in the best way.

Last, but certainly not least, there are some fantastic creature effects supplied by Martin Astles, who’s best known (at least, among horror nerds) for his work on Event Horizon (but also The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Greasy Strangler, the three of which make a weird triple feature). Astles’ work is top-notch, and the gooey, grotesque creatures and makeup we see are some of my favorites of the year. This might be a spoiler, but it involves a few sequences that necessitated Schwarzenegger spending 7 hours having makeup applied. 

One element of Daniel Isn’t Real that makes it a joy is the fact that Mortimer put a ton of love into this movie, and it shows. Not only that, but it’s clearly a passion project that’s also a great movie, which at times can be a rare combination. It explores mental illness in a way that feels painful, personal, and loving.

This really came through in the Q&A he did at BeyondFest. He printed and brought his own T-shirts to give away, answered a bunch of questions in a ton of detail (seventeen if I remember correctly, one for each shirt). He even got playfully heckled by Kevin Kolsch, director of Starry Eyes and Pet Sematary (2019), which, for me, felt like horror geek Christmas (which is I think is technically just Halloween).

Mortimer is proving to be a phenomenal director, and I’m thrilled to see what he does next. Not only that, but the film's production company SpectreVision is proving to be a real threat. Between this, Mandy, and Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, and some of their past releases like Cooties, Toad Road, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and The Greasy Strangler, Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah have shown that they really understand what genre fans want. 

This one’s slated for release in theaters and VOD on December 6th. If you get a chance, catch this on the big screen with a crowd. Although I’m sure it’ll view fine on VOD, some of the scares play great in a theater, and the effects are beautiful enough to merit it. 

-Listener Sam