Editor’s Note: Read my review of “The Babadook” right here.
IFC Midnight has got you covered for Halloween and beyond with a new genre film called THE BABADOOK.
Kim Newman, of EMPIRE MAGAZINE, describes it as, “one of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years – with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly-designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade.”
The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival Midnight Section and it absolutely terrified audiences ever since. The film is a psychological thriller in the tradition of Polanski’s classic domestic horror (Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, Repulsion). In addition, The BABADOOK just won the “Best Horror Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress” Awards at the 2014 Fantastic Fest. The film is coming out theatrically on November 28th but it also has an exclusive debut with Direct TV starting October 30th so Direct TV subscribers will have a chance to catch the film in their home on Halloween!
We all love a good horror movie. Keep an eye out for “Blood Ransom,” which will hit select theaters on Halloween in North America, Friday, October 31, 2014.
“Blood Ransom” will have its premiere in L.A. at Arclight Hollywood, 6360 W Sunset Blvd, on October 28, 2014, at 8pm. It stars Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story: Coven & BBC America series The Last Kingdom), Philippine’s #1 actress & People Asia’s National Sweetheart, Anne Curtis.
Blood Ransom tells the story of Jeremiah, caught in the middle of an ill-fated plot to kidnap Crystal, his boss Roman’s beautiful young girlfriend. If that isn’t complicated and dangerous enough, there are some pretty fierce vampires to deal with too.
For more information, visit the Blood Ransom website here.
Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD
Eduardo Rodriguez is the director of the latest “Fright Night” movie and it’s really good. “Fright Night 2: New Blood” has style and a nice mix of horror and humor. I had the opportunity to talk with Rodriguez about his career, horror movies, and even what he’s currently reading. We also chatted about Jaime Murray, who plays the professor with an evil secret in “Fright Night 2: New Blood.” Was it just me, or was I onto something when I suggested that Jaime Murray would make an excellent Lisa in a remake of “Weird Science”? Rodriguez agrees with me, Murray would make a great Lisa. And, just so we’re clear, there will be a remake of this John Hughes classic.
Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE
Back to our subject, Eduardo Rodriguez has made some very cool movies with an intense vibe to them, like “Stash House,” “The Messengers,” and “El Gringo.” It is safe to say that he has a taste for action, horror, and the offbeat. It is a treat to get to listen to him relate his student days and then compare that to being a professional. And it’s fun to listen to a pro praise something current like, “The Conjuring.” Clearly, he comes across as someone who loves a good story. And it was nice to have him share with us what he’s currently reading, “Unwelcome Bodies,” by Jennifer Pelland.
UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland
Rodriguez has come a long way in his career. He advises those in film school to cherish their time in school since those days don’t come back. He sounds quite happy with where he is now. It does look like he has a great career ahead of him. I went back and discovered one of the movies that Rodriguez worked on, “The Messengers.” That has got to be a very scary movie. I have yet to see it and will need to get back to you on it. Here’s a trailer:
Here is a link to the full interview:
“Fright Night 2: New Blood” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on October 1. You can read my review here.
There is “Dark Country,” the 2009 movie. And now there is “Dark Country,” the graphic novel. The fascinating thing here is that the graphic novel, while linked to the movie, has a life very much its own. It’s really cool when that happens because that’s really what should always happen. This leaves me in an slightly awkward position of having seen the movie and read the new graphic novel. Should I compare them? I will only say a little bit about the movie. First off, you definitely get entertainment value from it. This is a perfect teen flick, a great drive-thru movie (if there are still any such things) and a just plain fun horror movie. But, I have to say, for my taste, it suffers from a lack of focus. I don’t totally buy into it being noir. There are moments when either humorous dialogue or poor choices in background music are too jarring. There are times when it seems to veer off into experimental theater. So, the movie unfortunately is not as tightly paced as it should be. However, it’s fun and the graphic novel does totally add up. It really is a whole other animal.
What first attracted me to the graphic novel is the cover art and this quickly led to the art within. Thomas Ott has a very gritty style, as you may know, very well-suited for noir and horror. In fact, Thomas Jane, the director and star of the original “Dark Country,” was very inspired by Ott’s work when he directed the movie and was already contemplating a graphic novel version illustrated by Ott. So, yeah, the movie and the graphic novel are quite inextricably linked. It makes me want to say only kind words about the movie. But, look at it this way, “Dark Country” was Mr. Jane’s first movie and he has a whole career ahead of him. It is within reason to expect some things falling a little short. In the case of Mr. Ott, this guy is so prolific and has been around for so many years that he’s at a master’s level in his craft. Where the movie has its share of peaks and valleys, Ott’s work keeps moving and building never missing a beat.
The story itself, I should tell you, is a prime example of solid pulp fiction. You have it stripped down to the essentials: a man; a woman; sex; suspicious circumstances. The two of them hop into a car and drive away from Vegas in the middle of the night. There’s the man. There’s the woman. There’s what they most share in common: sex. We observe them together and another thing that they seem to share a lot: an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration mixed with despair. And then something very sinister and tragic happens. The original short story by Tab Murphy, the movie and the graphic novel veer off, here and there, with some minor variations on what happens next.
What’s great about this book is that, not only do you get the work of the masterful Mr. Ott, you basically get what amounts to a little film school in a book. Included is the original short story by Tab Murphy, a legendary screenwriter for Disney and DC Comics, plus you get some insightful essays and behind-the-scenes observations, and storyboards, from the movie. All in all, a wonderful package and it leaves you cheering on all the talent involved. This is a great buy when the Halloween mood strikes you or, let’s face it, any time you’d like a good scare.
Comics Grinder is a place for all things fitting into a geek lifestyle and beyond. To that end, let’s talk snacks. Whatever your pop culture preference, there’s always room for some kind of treat while you’re reading, gaming, watching. As we kick into holiday season, consider your snack search to have struck gold with all the amazing goodies to be found at Dale and Thomas Popcorn. An impressive gift box, decked out in a Halloween theme, arrived at Comics Grinder headquarters to my utter joy and amazement. I immediately ripped open a bag marked, “Parmesan & Garlic Cheese Sticks.” Now, these things are not popcorn at all so I was a little confused but they were so delicious that I didn’t care. I could see myself enjoying these with a movie anytime.
Next, I went for “Hall of Fame Kettle Corn,” assuming this would be closer to a popcorn product and I was correct! Yes! These bad boys are quite tasty. I’d rank them up there with the best kettle corn. On the Dale and Thomas Popcorn Web site, they have a quote from the Today Show: “The Rolls Royce of Popcorn.” That’s a nice quote. And, I had to say right then, that I was very much in a holiday mood and found myself feeling a bit pampered.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I have to put my foot down and say that, by and large, my favorite of the whole “Spooktacular Halloween Gift Box” extravaganza was stuff with chocolate. There were two items that fell into this category. The first one: “Twice-As-Nice Chocolate DrizzleCorn.” That’s right, they chose to run the words “drizzle” and “corn” together to create the trademarked “DrizzleCorn.” Anyway, I was feeling the luxury all the more with that. It’s a nice blend of salty and sweet. Next up in the chocolate category is actually the one item that left me breathless: “Milk Chocolate Popsters.” Yes, indeed, they’re called “Popsters” and why not? That name says it all. Of all the chocolate covered delicacies out there, including strawberries, I believe that this caramel coated popcorn dipped in chocolate is an utter inspiration. Seriously, I highly recommend them. I don’t think you can order them separately but they’re part of some rather tantalizing gift packages available at the Dale and Thomas Popcorn Web site.
It is 1969, the Vietnam War rages, Americans at home battle over its legitimacy, and in the small town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, the devil has come calling. “THE DEVIL’s FOOTPRINTS” paints a picture of “the war at home” if it was waged between townspeople and supernatural forces. The focus of the town’s animosity is the Waite family which is down to the two sons of William Waite who, before he died, conjured up the depths of hell and left a lot to account for. This wasn’t the fault of the two boys, Brandon and Dexter, so the locals cut them some slack but not by much.
Scott Allie’s story provides a finely etched portrait of a dysfunctional family and town at odds with each other. Artists Paul Lee and Brian Horton, with moody colors by Dave Stewart, impressively depict Ipswich as typically drab and conservative: each proper citizen is full of spooky eagerness for gossip about each improper citizen. That sort of concentrated animosity toward Brandon, the town’s biggest misfit, should be enough to make him flee to as far away as his supernatural powers can take him. Instead, he won’t budge. Common sense seems to elude him but he knows better. While everyone else can’t handle the change around them, he is the most aware of it and, while an unlikely hero, he’s the town’s best chance in the role of exorcist.
The dust had only settled on what papa had wrought when Brandon and Dexter must deal with serious daddy issues. All signs point to the return of their dead father. The first clue appears when Brandon performs an incantation and produces a parchment with crudely scrawled letters spelling out, “Father.” Brandon looks more dismayed than shocked. This is pretty much the attitude of the town. They will tolerate Brandon and Dexter and put up with whatever satanic funk that still lingers just as long as it doesn’t drift right into their own backyard. You could say the same sort of denial would hold true for a war fought in jungles far away.
Denial is hard to break free from. Brandon’s sweetheart, Sarah, doesn’t want to get involved. Sarah’s mom, Diane, like many of the townspeople, would rather stay in a mellow drunken stupor. Brandon’s older brother, Dexter, who is supposed to be more responsible, is mostly void of passion. Brandon tries to convince him that a series of odd family illness is due to their father. The strangest case involves Dexter’s wife, Tabitha. What makes that most urgent is that she’s pregnant. While being treated for her mysterious flu at the local hospital, she is informed that she was never really pregnant. Brandon is outraged and does not believe it. Dexter abides by the news up until, while still in the hospital parking lot, he sees his father’s ghost fly away with what looks like a little baby. In true horror fashion, this is hinted at in a delightfully creepy image of a phantom cradling something just out of plain view.
Horror requires a tightly woven story closely following the fundamental rules of good storytelling: provide only what the reader needs to know. Sometimes the noose is made a bit tighter. For instance, at the start of the story, we see a meeting of occultists. The question is raised about the current stirring of trouble in Ipswich. The leader dismisses it as out of his jurisdiction. Who are they? Well, you don’t need to know. Or why does Brandon suddenly start to open up about his father to his girlfriend, Sarah? He hints at Sarah sharing some supernatural connection but what is it? Again, something for another time.
And what about the shopkeeper wizard who lives in another dimension in Salem and who has records on all the demons dating back to the very beginning? Well, you get to see him and he does what he needs to do before the gates are shut. He points Brandon to what he must do next and that is to meet with one particularly ghoulish demon with a stump where his head should be and who carries around two masks depending upon his mood.
The fate of Ipswich rests on Brandon’s shoulders. The two young men are doing all they can to avoid, “Salem, 1692, all over again,” namely getting killed by a hysterical mob. But summoning devils is never something that can be done discretely. It ultimately results in flames that can be seen from miles away. Change is good. Sometimes, it’s the most obvious and most sane thing to do. But, as Brandon has learned, whether it is dismantling a misguided war policy, or beating the devil, it still comes at a price.
“The Devil’s Footprints,” published by Dark Horse Books is available through Dark Horse and fine comics shops and bookstores. Here’s to seeing this book get rediscovered. The original publication of the book goes back to 2003. It includes additional short stories and text regarding the supernatural. It definitely deserves to be reissued. There have been a few other Devil’s Footprints tales since. Let’s hope to see more fully developed stories in the future. This is great stuff in comics and also has a great premise for television. You have the two brothers back in the sixties and then you have what came before and what lies ahead. Take this further and it could add up to something right up there with AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”