Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Seeking Human Victims invades the Chattanooga Film Festival

One Good Scare was honored to participate as press for the historic 2020 virtual edition of the Chattanooga Film Festival. 

We recorded 3 very special bonus episodes of The Seeking Human Victims podcast for your listening pleasure. As to not interfere with with the episode numbering in the ongoing John Carpenter Terror Timeline season on our RSS feed, we have posted them on our Patreon page...but they are free for everyone!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

CFF 2020 Review: Vinegar Syndrome's "Berzerker" Adds Norse Mythology to the Summer Camp Slasher.

Review by The Great Muji

The good folks at Vinegar Syndrome provided a few films for this years Chattanooga Film Festival and one of those was 1987’s Berserker, directed by Jefferson Richard. Released for the first time on Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome in 2019, Berserker is the tale of 6 young friends who rent a cabin in the woods so that they can party only to find out there is something dangerous lurking nearby. If this premise seems familiar to you then you are right, it is.  What makes this film different than the other billions of cabin in the woods 80’s slashers? This one includes a fight between a giant bear and a man-bear-Viking, aka a berserker.

The film starts with a little backstory. We learn that berserkers were Viking warriors who dressed in animal pelts during battle. The berserkers were cursed and would live like actual wild animals, which including eating humans, and couldn’t actually die until they passed on the berserker curse to a descendant. So right of the bat its safe to say that someone in this film is secretly a berserker. As the film proceeds a giant bear also appears and we are left to try and figure out if it is the bear or berserker who is doing the killing.

I must admit that the middle of this film does become a little dull at times. The campers themselves do not have a ton of personality and the humor that is possessed by so many of my favorite 80’s slashers is missing here. So many other slashers that  would have been forgettable were saved by great practical effects and I think that’s a big reason that Berserker stayed only available on VHS for so long and was almost forgotten. The gore and effects in this film are very minimal. However, there are a couple of interesting side characters, particularly the camp owner Pappy. Played by the always entertaining George Buck Flower, Pappy warns the campers to be careful, that there are wild animals in these woods. He is not kidding.

When we finally get to the final 15 minutes the shit really starts to go down. That’s where it is finally revealed that the berserker is responsible for all of the killing and that the big ass bear has been trying to protect the campers the whole time. We get a long bear vs. berserker fight scene, one that by itself makes this film memorable.

Even with its flaws Berserker was a lot of fun. The opening and last 15 minutes of the film made it one worth watching and for us slasher completists, one worth owning too. I have all kinds of films in my collection but none with bear fighting a Viking dressed as a bear. That will be remedied soon.

Monday, May 25, 2020

CFF 2020 Review - Creepshow (TV Series) - Grey Matter - Commentary with Greg Nicotero and Philip DeBlasi

By The Rev Dan Wilson

     While they may not be for everyone I certainly love me a horror anthology (as you heard on the latest episode of Seeking Human Victims covering John Carpenter's Bodybags (1993), available now!)  and Creepshow as a brand would certainly be on the Mount Rushmore of great horror anthologies. Even better yet, Creepshow spawned an entire franchise. Creepshow 2 held it's own as a sequel that is equal to, and in the eyes of some greater than, the original. Ok, so we all got hit with the Men In Black memory wipe after we saw Creepshow 3 (Really a Creepshow film in name only), but oh have ya heard the good news? it has returned to glory in television series form thanks to the almighty Greg Nicotero, AMC Networks, and Shudder. The first season debuted over the fall of last year and at least in my opinion it completely rocked. I mean it hit me right in the nostalgia. I tuned in with wide eyes and a maniacal grin every week as soon as The Creep popped up on my TV.   Tom Savini is involved, Joe Hill is involved, of course Stephen King is involved. There are comic panels during the transitions, cameos by horror icons, plenty of references and shoutouts, and basically everything you could want in a Creepshow TV series. It was so popular that it actually got a re-airing on live TV via AMC during the current content drought and a 2nd Season is in the works.

So the fine folks at Chattanooga Film Festival teamed up with Shudder to bring us an Exclusive Preview of the Director's Commentary on the Gray Matter/House With The Head episodes that will be featured on thh Creepshow physical media release on Digital HD, DVD & Bluray coming out on June 2nd.  We're going to talk about the commentary on the "Grey Matter" portion.  Not really sure how you "review" a commentary but I can talk about some of the things I found interesting.

  The commentary was provided by Philip DeBlasi (co-writer along with Byron Willinger) along with Showrunner Greg Nicotero. Some of the highlights included Nicotero explaining that The Crate in the intro is the original "Crate" from the first movie. Greg got it from Tom Savini and wanted it to be the way we're introduced to the new chapter. He says the entire episode is full of Stephen King references and in-jokes up to and including the casting of Adrienne Barbeau. He goes through each of them but of course of we don't want to spoil them ahead of the Blu Ray release. Greg called in favors to get Esposito, Bell, and Barbeau.  We get a nice look at why certain camera angles were chose to help convey the story progression as it spirals out of control.  They talk in depth about each character's motivation and we got some insight into things that may not have necessarily been spelled out in the episode. We also got a lot of info about the locations they used to shoot, all in the metro Atlanta area. He explains how this episode had more digital effects than most of the other episodes, they actually got extra money to make it and they praised the Sound Design as being key to making the episode work.

 I know Greg is mainly known to mainstream America as "Walking Dead" guy now, and that's an amazing legacy to leave in it's own right but I'm not sure we as a horror community quite recognize the level of greatness we have still with us in him. In each of our podcast episodes when we're examining these all time classic horror films, time and time again it was Greg and K&B that did the effects work. Not only that, he went on to become a director and showrunner. He transitioned from an all time great special effects artist, to an all time great overall creator, leader and storyteller. These commentaries will be things that horror fans and aspiring filmmakers will be studying decades down the road.  I can not wait for Season 2. I've heard the names of a few of the filmmakers who are slated to do episodes and it is exciting stuff, so here's to holding out hope that it doesn't get delayed for too long. In the meantime you can stream it right now on Shudder, watch it on TV via AMC, or buy your own hard copy for your shelf on June 2nd with a boatload of bonus features including the commentaries featured here.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

CFF 2020 Review: FULCI FOR FAKE Humanizes A Horror Deity

FULCI FOR FAKE (2019) Directed by Simone Scafidi

Review by The Rev Dan Wilson

 I have been a fairly casual Fulci fan since I discovered Zombi 2 on VHS as a teen in the 90s but was never a fanatic. I was in awe of the visuals on display but the dubbed voice acting made it difficult for me to connect with it beyond the surface level. Italian gore movies were great to put on at a party full of metalheads, a few memorable scenes would be joked about (Zombie vs Shark, anyone?), but were largely forgotten afterward.

 It was in my mid to late 20s that I gained a greater appreciation for them as my buddy Robert Everett had been sharing a series of his favorite late 70s and early 80s horror films with me, and it hit me at just the right time. This is where I discovered films like Burnt Offerings, The Sentinel, The Car, etc and there was just something to me about the atmosphere, or the way those films were shot, I’m not even sure I can describe it but it awoke something in me and I went on a mad hunt for other films that made me feel the way those movies did. It was this period in my life that really most inspired me to want to make my own films at some point. That’s when I discovered The Gates Of Hell Trilogy (City Of The Living Dead, The Beyond, House By The Cemetary) and those films stuck with me in a significant way. I later saw New York Ripper and it’s eye peeling brutality and outrageousness didn’t evoke any warm fuzzy feelings, but the pure disgust and discomfort it made me feel let me know I was watching something truly special.

 Hey I don’t want cinema to just be moving pictures flashing around in the background, I need it to do something to me. Psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. I don’t care which, but that is generally the barometer upon which I gauge art. I found that Fulci movies at that point in my life did in fact make me feel lots of things, so that’s where I really became a fan but even so knew little about his personal life, or who Fulci was as a man. So now as a guy who hosts a podcast that examines the filmmaking process and has to research hours upon hours of material weekly about historic horror filmmakers I love and admire, I know I’m going to have to do a deep dive into learning about the life and times of Lucio Fulci at some point in the coming months or years.

 I’ve also been watching horror documentaries my entire life going back to “The Making Of Thriller” on laserdisc being one of my first memories. I can find a playlist on Youtube now of John Carpenter interviews and let the Master Of Horror lull me to sleep and subconsciously plant filmmaking knowledge into my brain for 8 hours straight but information about Fulci, particularly his private world or creative motivations isn’t exactly readily available, so I was excited to see that the long awaited bio-pic/documentary hybrid FULCI FOR FAKE was part of the Chattanooga Film Festival 2020 lineup.

Director Simone Scafidi’s 2019 film uses a fictional story about an actor who is playing Fulci in a biopic, who is going around interviewing people who were important to Fulci in his real life to get to know who he was a person in order to better prepare for the role. While I don’t know that the framing device was necessary given there isn’t really a current “definitive” Fulci documentary, I appreciate that the filmmaker had a vision and stuck with it and it does keep the pace of the film moving and keep us from just looking at interview segment after interview segment.

 I was personally fascinated to learn about the death of his wife and how that tragedy greatly impacted Fulci personally to the point most said he never recovered from it, not to mention his daughter Camilla’s horseback riding accident, which was basically salt in the wound at that point and would end up inspiring parts of New York Ripper and the various other triumphs and tragedies that made him who he was. The film paints the picture of Fulci as a layered, intelligent, sophisticated, sensitive, passionate man. His friends and family aren’t afraid to discuss him candidly including his flaws, and that’s really where the film succeeds.

I think to me and a lot of American horror fans Fulci was this great and wise horror deity from “long ago and a land far away” and this film makes him more human, more relatable, a shows a side of him beyond just the work that he left us, and a little more of the man that he truly was. Highly recommended!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

CFF 2020 Review: World Premiere - Skull: The Mask

Skull: The Mask
Directed by Armando Fonseca & Kapel Foreman. 

Review by The Great Muji
“Skull: The Mask” is a super gory movie about a crazy skull mask. That’s enough for this guy

In the first 5 minutes of Skull the Mask we see a guy in mask with chains on it hit two guys with an Attitude Adjustment, dropkick, and Rock Bottom (Google pro wrestling if you don’t know) who then proceeds to decapitate 2 more guys and cut another’s hand off. This is followed by a ritual that results in one guy’s heart being pulled out and another dude’s head exploding. Needless to say, I was immediately in. 
Skull: The Mask is a blood-soaked supernatural slasher. The film starts in 1944 in the World War 2 era Amazon jungle. A group, who appear to be Nazis, have gotten control of an ancient artifact called the Mask of Anhanga and conduct a ritual that goes horribly wrong. Anhanga was the executioner for an old god named T’Uxlu, who is a guardian of the underworld. The mask is gone until it is uncovered by archaeologists and brought to present day Sao Paulo, Brazil where it finds a new host and starts ripping hearts out again.

Now, there are times when the movie slows down a bit with it’s competing plot threads. There is a lot going on in this movie. We have Beatriz Obdias (Natallia Rodrigues), who is attempting to find the skull and some missing children both because she is attempting to make up for a checkered past and because she is being blackmailed. There is Munco Ramirez (Wilton Andrade), who is son a man who attempted to defend the skull back in 1944 and has anticipated the return of the artifact. There is a sword wielding priest, an evil museum curator, and some missing children. But the most important character is the man the skull has taken over who runs through downtown Sao Paulo reminiscent of Jason in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, ripping the hearts out of everyone he runs into.
Despite the somewhat convoluted plot directors Armanda Fonseca and Kapel Furman’s film really shines when there is blood and violence on the screen- lucky for us there is plenty. The stunning practical effects make this movie. There are exploding heads, hearts and intestines being ripped out, decapitations, a Stonecold Stunner, and a sword fight between the slasher in the skull mask and a priest. That’s right. I said there is a sword fight between a demonic slasher and a priest!

Skull: The Mask is most effective when it sticks to being an over the top gory slasher. When it dips into another genre it does not quite work as well. Luckily, there is a lot of slashing in this film. This is such a fun movie that my only regret is not getting to watch it with a live crowd. As much fun as I had it could have only been made better by watching this with 100 of my drunk friends. 

CFF2020 Report - Ice-T On "Surviving The Game"

By Rev. Dan Wilson


Legendary actor, rapper, heavy metal frontman, producer, author and pop culture icon Ice-T sat down with Cinepocalypse Founder Josh Goldbloom for a fascinating and candid conversation about the 1994 action thriller "Surviving The Game" and more at the first ever virtual edition of the Chattanooga Film Festival. 

This was originally slated to be T and director Ernest Dickerson (Juice, Bullet Proof, Demon Knight, Bones) but Dickerson didn't appear which was unfortunate and we hope everything is ok with him. (The CFF organizers have stated they will try to get Ernest back later in the weekend.)  Ice-T certainly made the most of now being the sole subject of the interview, however, as he dazzled us all with a number of tales from the set of the film, as well as his acting and music career and life in general.

Just a few of the highlights included:

-  Talking about his relationship with Gary Busey. He became friends with Gary when the cast went out to a local bar during country western night during the shoot. He said Busey loved him because T was the only person who would indulge his wild conspiracy stories about the CIA living inside our TV sets, etc. He said Busey actually rewrote the entire monologue his character in the film performs at the dinner table right before the hunt begins. T said there was a minor confrontation between Busey and Dickerson over it, who told him he couldn't just re-write the script. Gary persisted and got his way and wouldn't you know he ended up knocking it out of the park. 

- He said Rutger Hauer was a consummate professional but he never broke character the entire time they filmed and in fact he actually lived in the same cabin his character did during shooting, He also remarked that Hauer was a very large man and that he didn't quite realize that until he had to do fight scenes with him. 

- He said F Murray Abraham asked him if he'd ever had any acting classes and he said no. Abraham told him never to take one because it would interfere with his method. He told him he had "it" and that teachers would just make him question his amazing natural instincts. T said he followed that advice most of his career and it served him pretty well as he's now one of the longest running live action actors in a series on Law & Order. He did make sure to re-iterate that he only plays a cop on TV and is definitely not a cop. T said he doesn't even really have a "method" necessarily and that he really learned to act by having to go in front of a judge. 

- T cited Bruce Lee and Blacksploitation actors like Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly as some of his primary acting influences. 

- He talked briefly about Body Count, and said he got into heavy music at a young age thanks to the influence of a family member. Like most of us who love metal, he discovered Black Sabbath and it was over from there. 

- He talked a bit about working with Ice Cube in the film TRESPASS and praised that experience mentioning that he was already close with Cube and he got to work with the legendary Walter Hill as well as legendary actors like Bill Paxton and William Sadler. T went on to reflect about how much fun Bill Paxton was and how fond he was of him and that we still feel the pain of his loss today.

- T said he's accomplished most everything he set out to do in life so now it is about finding the balance of stopping to smell the roses and enjoying the fruits of his labor with trying to find new things that spark him creatively. He says he's working on the first ever animated blacksploitation film called Tech City and that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are involved. 

Honestly this was a certified hoot. I'm a big fan of Ernest Dickerson and while he was sorely missed, I couldn't imagine being more entertained than I was posting up and listening to Ice-T sit there and tell me stories like we were having a beer at the bar together. Experiences like that are what sets this festival apart. 

You can currently pick up the new Body Count album "Carnivore' available now from Century Media records. Available on Spotify, Apple Music and more and you can see him in future seasons of Law & Order:SVU when it returns to television in the fall. 

CFF2020 Review: ‘The Beach House’ is a familiar premise told with a modern twist in Jeffrey A. Brown’s directorial debut.

 Written & Directed by Jeffrey A Brown

Review by The Great Muji

A fog/mist rolls in off the ocean but this time it’s not filled with lepers looking for stolen treasure or monsters from another dimension. It’s filled with, well, something else. Trying to figure out what is in the fog and how to survive it is the basic problem that our central characters must deal with in Jeffrey A. Browns The Beach House. 

The film starts with couple Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros)  taking a vacation to the beach. When they show up to Randall’s families beach house they are in for a big surprise when they find that a strange couple has already taken up residence there for the weekend. The couple claims to be friends of Randall’s father and have permission to be there. This is a great set up, as your mind immediately races with all the possibilities of who these people may be. Are the strangers who they say they are? Are they crazy murderers? Are they pod people? Granted, the number of scenarios you think of is probably dependent on how many horror/sci-fi movies you’ve seen. If you are reading this, I’m guessing its likely a lot.  This set-up really sets the mood for what is to come. 

The constant tension that starts in the opening scenes is built upon by a lot of great story choices throughout the film. There is clearly a strange fog approaching but the couples have all eaten edibles, so they are not able to accurately assess the dangerous situation. They all feel sick the day after the fog has come but this could just be the aftereffects of a bad trip. Jane (Maryanne Nagel), part of the strange couple already at the house, seems particularly sick, but its already been clearly established that she was sick to start with. All the strange things happening seem to have plausible explanations that help to distract our characters from realizing that there is something very wrong until it’s too late.

The filmmakers use the setting of the beach to its maximum potential. The scenes on the beach are bright and beautiful, which really is a great contrast to the horror that is unfolding before our eyes. If you aren’t a fan of films that are more atmospheric than action oriented, then fear not. There is also a great body horror scene and some good-looking monster effects later in the film. 

The Beach House is also really carried by a couple of really good performances, particularly by lead Liana Liberato. Her portrayal of Emily is really central to the film’s success. Emily is smart and capable. Her background as a chemistry major gives her more insight into what is happening with the fog as she is the first character to realize the danger she is in. The movie does a great job of building up the characters before the shit really hits the fan.

Despite being a familiar premise, The Beach House is different enough that I found it very enjoyable. This atmospheric eco-horror/sci-fi film is one that I would recommend to anyone who loves their horror abstract and loves to leave a movie with more questions than answers.

Friday, May 22, 2020

CFF2020 Review: Attack Of The Demons Is An Unlikely But Earnest Love Letter to 80s Horror.

Attack Of The Demons
Directed by Eric Power
Written By Andreas Petersen


Review by The Rev Dan Wilson

One of the biggest "talent acquisitions" so to speak for the 2020 Chattanooga Film Fest was the addition of Cinepocalypse founder Josh Goldbloom as Artistic Director.  The Chicago based festival has become a can't miss event in recent years and his eye for unique filmmakers is a perfect fit for CFF and adds a lot to the over all vibe.

2019's Attack Of The Demons from Director Eric Power made its debut at Cinepocalypse 2019 to a rousing response and it continues it's momentum right on into CFF. The animation style is very primitive, and done with such a unique flavor it has to be intentional. Of course I couldn't help but make comparisons to the early South Park episodes as many have. Hell it is even about a small Colorado town. I also had some Home Movies flashbacks. There is something beautiful about the simplicity of it, and the creators take full of advantage that. I almost hate to call the animation crude (though I can't think of a better word currently) because it was clearly done in painstaking detail, but that's also part of what makes it ....kind of incredible?

It takes place in the mid 90's, during Halloween, and there's demons and blood and gore a plenty, not to mention great music. While we've been conditioned to accept this kind of animation primarily in outrageous comedies, you will be shocked at how well it works played completely straight. It is as if a wildly creative group of individuals got together and wrote a balls to the wall 80s Evil Dead style demon-tusslin' flick and decided the only thing they had at their disposal to make it was a dude who was amazing at cardboard style animation. The results will leave you grinning from ear to ear. I didn't really know what to expect going into this one and I was just blown away by the creativity on display here and eagerly await what the future holds for these filmmakers.

CFF2020 Review: Eat, Brains Love A Smorgasbord Of Sex, Laughs & Gore

Eat, Brains, Love 
Directed by Rodman Flender
Written by Mike Herro and David Strauss

Review by Dreamboat Anni

WARNING: Spoliers Ahead!

The producers of One Tree Hill meetup with the director of Idle Hands to bring us another film about teenage sex, only this time, they're fuckin' zombies. And yes, that is the correct "they're."

Eat, Brains, Love is an 87 minute ZomRomCom about a stoner and a high school it-girl overcoming stereotypes, eating their friends and running from a mysterious government agency that's hunting them down using a fellow teen with psychic powers. The virus is, as expected, transmitted sexually, but don't expect any sexualized nudity, we are talking about high schoolers, here. Think CW sex scenes. The nudity is saved for a middle aged dude who gets his balls eaten off, but hey, the dick's all yours.
After engaging in *gasp* unprotected sex, but not with each other, both Jake (Jake Cannavale) and Amanda (Angelique Rivera) have unknowingly been infected with a virus that makes them hunger for human flesh. Following a feast of their classmates and finding themselves being hunted by the NCD, the Necrotic Control Division, and their psychic powered protege, Cass (Sarah Yarkin), the duo are saved by a couple of fellow z-bobs who let them know what's up. After snacking on vermin, the hippie/militant zombie power couple present Amanda and Jake with a Thanksgiving worthy meal: an unpunished rapist and child molester. When the meal is over and the flesh is down to bone, so are our gracious hosts, who waste no time getting to it on top of a bloody carcass.

The NCD, meanwhile, is using their mind-reading m├Ądchen to track them down. The only roadblock is Cass' growing fondness for Jake, the only Necro (and possibly teen boy) to ever be nice to her. The NCD Director, Alastaire (Patrick Fabian), uses this against her to get the location of our undead teens, but they've ready fled to Amanda's crazy brother who believes in zombies' house, because of course she has a brother who already believes there's zombies.
Cass can't mind her own business and when she spys Jake and Amanda doing the unskinny bop, she gives the go ahead to do them in. Daddy/Director Alastaire sends in Amanda's experimental attack zombie ex-boyfriend (where'd ya think she got it?) to do the dirty work, but it doesn't go to plan. Escaping out the back, Cass' partner Tom (Jim Titus) shoots Amanda and attempts to take out Jake, which prompts pleas for mercy from Cass... Amanda takes advantage of this distraction and rips out Tom's throat. Daddy Alastaire doesn't care about Tom, and Cass has had enough. She flees to the woods and finds Jake, who only wants to find Amanda, so she uses her abilities to lead them to the NCD labs, make a shout out to Star Wars, and rescue the zombabe. Oh, and release ALL the hangry "necros" they've had locked up for who knows how long. The final boss level was surprisingly easy, and Alastaire goes down in a bloody spray. Our trio hop in a car and head to Iowa, where there is a rumored cure, but all they find is the weird, fur-clothed girl named Mazzy (Xena Zeit-Geist) that Jake got freaky with, and all her friends.

The gore is aplenty, from a lunch room body buffet to the aforementioned old dude's castration, and the use of both practical and CG effects were well balanced. Cass, the psychic teen zombie hunter, gives off strong Eleven-Meets-Liv vibes, while Jake and Amanda are representing Bizarro World Zombieland with their Road Trip to Safety. If this sounds like a ridiculous mashup with a twist on every zombie movie you've ever seen... you'd be right, but it works somehow. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

SHV - S06E07 - Body Bags (1993)

The John Carpenter Terror Timeline continues as we cut in to this anthology film that was originally planned to be Showtime's answer to Tales From The Crypt. We'll learn about the numerous celebrity cameos, how many of these actors went on to work with Carpenter in the future, Tobe Hooper's involvement, and so much more. We'll also cover the period from 1988 to 1993 and what the horror master was up to during that time including Memoirs Of An Invisible Man. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

SHV - S06E06 - They Live (1988)

Part 6 of the John Carpenter Terror Timeline looks at one of  the director's most beloved films. This film has been dissected, examined, misinterpreted, and when you look around at the horrible state of the world today, like many of Carpenter's works it seems prophetic and ahead of it's time. Plus it has a pro wrestling connection in the legendary Roddy Piper, which always lends to an entertaining episode given Dan's background.  Now..."put on these glasses, or start eatin' that trash can. "

Monday, May 4, 2020

SHV - S06E05 - Prince Of Darkness (1987)

This week on Seeking Human Victims we take on one of John Carpenter's strangest and polarizing films, "Prince Of Darktness.". We learn how this film was born out of Carpenter's frustration with the studio system after his experiences on big Trouble In Little China and Star Man. WIth Prince of Darkness we get the masters true and uncompromising vision realized like never before. Join us smack dab in the middle of the battle between science and religion. 

SHV S19E03 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

 T his week we look at 1984's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET starring Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp. This is a story that has been to...