Lazron’s 2016 October Horrorthon

Greetings All !! It’s my favourite time of year again, the month everyone watches Horror films as often as I do throughout the other 11 months !

As you probably know, I like to pick 31 Horror films to watch in October, generally stuff I’ve been wanting to see, but haven’t been able to get to till now. Various recommendations from Friends or Websites, boiled down to a concise 31 !

This year features some real gems, including 3 I’ll be seeing theatrically, thanks to the Mayfair Theatre (Phantasm, Phantasm 5, I Drink Your Blood), 2 that were meant to come out next year (In the Deep, The Blackcoats Daughter) & 1 mashup of 2 films that I cut together for fun, since both films took place on the same night anyway (Halloween I+II). In addition, 4 of these selections will actually be 2 Double Bills, as I have a weekly Double Bill event with Friends (we alternate selections week by week) and had to plan around that.

We’ve also got a Prequel to a Classic (The Thing), a Remake of a Classic (Carnival of Souls), a Sequel to a Cult Classic (Stake Land 2), the Final Chapter of a popular Franchise (REC 4), a Sequel to a Smash Hit (The Conjuring 2), the Original of a film that lead to 3 American Versions (Pulse) & the First Film by the creators of Stranger Things (Hidden).

This year has a lot more Modern films than usual (23 of 31 are from 2013 onward, only 7 are pre-2000) which should please my wife, as she is NOT the biggest fan of old school, low budget schlock (understandably so). I’ll do my best to upload daily reviews as I go, but you know what they say about the Best Laid Plans.

Anyway, watch along with me (or don’t), be inspired (or don’t) & have an awesome October (required) !!

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1) In the Deep (47 Meters Down) (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2932536/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

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“Two sisters on Mexican vacation are trapped in a shark observation cage at the bottom of the ocean, with oxygen running low and great whites circling nearby, they have less than an hour of air left to figure out how to get to the surface.”

2) Hidden (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2131532/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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“A family takes refuge in a fallout shelter to avoid a dangerous outbreak.”

3) The Pact (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2040560/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother’s death and the disappearance of her sister, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home.”

4) Yellowbrickroad (2010)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1398428/?ref_=nv_sr_3

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“1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.”

5) REC 4 (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649443/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“An ill-fated television reporter is rescued and sent on a voyage across the ocean, but she is followed by the deadly virus that has plagued her and numerous others.”

6) The Thing (2011)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0905372/?ref_=nv_sr_3

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“At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson.”

7) Phantasm 5 (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3627704/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“The final installment of the long-running Phantasm series.”

8) Hush (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5022702/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.”

9) Carnival of Souls (1962)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055830/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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“After a traumatic accident, a woman becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival.”

10) Carnival of Souls (1998)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120627/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

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“A young girl witnesses the brutal rape and murder of her mother by a circus clown and begins to have nightmares when the carnival comes back to town when she is an adult.”

11) 31 (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3835080/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.”

12) Extinction (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3467412/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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“And suddenly, overnight, the world came to a halt. Two men, two survivors, one kid, and hatred that separates them. A place forgotten by everyone, including the creatures that inhabit the Earth… until now.”

13) They Look Like People (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4105970/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Suspecting that people around him are turning into evil creatures, a troubled man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself.”

14) Pulse (Kairo) (2001)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286751/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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“Two groups of people discover evidence that suggests spirits may be trying to invade the human world through the Internet.”

15) Abattoir (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1480285/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family.”

16) Blood Punch (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2825230/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“A young man is lured into a dangerous love triangle that begins to take a series of shocking and grisly supernatural turns.”

17) Stake Land 2 (The Stakelander) (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5843670/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

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“When his home of New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to guide him.”

18) The Neon Demon (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1974419/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”

19) The Blackcoats Daughter (February) (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3286052/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Two terrified girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break in this chilling and suspenseful horror film.”

20) Intruders (Shut In) (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4009278/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“Anna suffers from agoraphobia so crippling that when a trio of criminals break into her house, she cannot bring herself to flee. But what the intruders don’t realize is that agoraphobia is not her only problem.”

21) Under the Skin (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441395/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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“A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.”

22) The Conjuring 2 (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3065204/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit.”

23) I Drink Your Blood (Remastered) (1970)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067229/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“A group of hippies wreak havoc on a small town and a young boy, whose grandfather and sister were attacked by them, decides to get even, with deadly results.”

24) The Class of 1999 (1990)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099277/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Robot teachers have been secretly placed in the schools where the students have run riot. The teachers do a good job of controlling the unruly youngsters, until they go too far and some students get suspicious.”

25) 100 Bloody Acres (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2290065/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Reg and Lindsay run an organic fertiliser business. They need a fresh supply of their “secret ingredient” to process through the meat grinder. Reg comes across two guys and a girl with a broken-down vehicle on their way to a music festival.”

26) Lights Out (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4786282/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.”

27) Phantasm (Remastered) (1979)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079714/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“A teenage boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a lethal arsenal of terrible weapons with him.”

28) Carnage Park (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4335650/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate California town, two wannabe crooks flee the scene with a hostage and lead the local lawmen on a dangerous high-speed chase.”

29) The House at the End of Time (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2640474/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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“Dulce is a mother of two who experiences terrifying encounters with apparitions inside her old house, a place where a tragedy occurs. Thirty years later, an elderly Dulce returns home to decipher the mystery that has tormented her for so long.”

30) Halloween I+II (Single Film Edit) (1978/81)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“On Halloween night of 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death. After sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082495/?ref_=fn_al_tt_7

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“While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her.”

31) Halloween III (1982)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085636/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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“Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.”

Twas’ The Night Before Raps-mas

It’s the night before the biggest game in Raptors history, and I’m surprisingly at peace. It’s not often you can trace the hopes and dreams of a franchise down to one game, but we can, and this is it.

XReEcuE

If Toronto can win at home tomorrow, it will be the first 7 game series they’ve ever won, and only the second first round series victory in their history. Although their regular season record has improved four years in a row, the past 3 playoff outings have resulted in heartache, including the inability to close out this series against Indiana.

This year was supposed to be different. We learned from past mistakes, shored up our roster with 7 new faces & set a team record 56 wins, en route to a second place finish in the East (fourth best record over all). It appeared we were lucky enough to play an opponent we were much deeper than, an Indiana team with a star, but not a deep roster.

Now that we stand on the precipice of Game 7, it seems obvious we underrated the Pacers. Shades of Game 7 against Brooklyn three years ago flutter to mind. Another situation we were sure to come out of, but alas, a final second block dashed our hopes yet again. One can be thankful for a chance to win it tomorrow, since last years playoffs ended without even a single win for Toronto (though I was happy to attend one of the games regardless).

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For me, there remains a sort of Schrodinger’s Cat mentality tonight. This time tomorrow, I’ll either be delirious with happiness or crushed with yet another harsh ending to a brilliant season. For now, anything can happen, anyone can win. This is the deepest lineup we’ve ever had, and this team truly deserves a shot to continue in these playoffs.

Throughout this series, the Raptors have demonstrated a real Jekyll & Hyde mentality, never able to put the series away, never knowing which Raptors team would show up. I’m still proud of how far they’ve come, and very excited about the future of this franchise, no matter what happens. That said, nothing would mean more to the fans, the franchise and the country than to see our Raptors finish things off right, in front of a sold out home crowd & a prime-time TV audience.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, I’m proud of this team, and excited for the future.

OIAGhjG

An open letter to James Skelly (and The Coral)

Let me start off by congratulating you on the new record ! It’s probably your best front to back effort since The Invisible Invasion (perhaps even Magic & Medicine) and you have a lot to be proud of.

I’ve been a fan since the first time I heard “Dreaming of You” in 2002, although at the time, I didn’t actually care for the album itself (I think “Skeleton Key” threw me off). It wasn’t until “Pass It On” came out (and blew me away) that I went back to the first record and fell deeply in love with it (even Skeleton Key !). It became one of my favourite albums of all time (arguably my favourite, depending on the day) and it reminded me that sometimes we need to re-evaluate records as we grow and mature.

“Dreaming of You” is still one of my favourite songs of all time, and I insisted on playing it at my wedding last year (well, technically YOU played it, I just queued up the speakers). Seeing the development between your early demos of “DOY” and “PIO” and the released versions is truly astonishing, and I’m grateful to have heard the rough beginnings ! Although I prefer the final versions (can’t beat that xylophone), there’s something sort of fun about the Ringo-esque “Pass it on ! Pass it on !” bit that was later dropped.

Anyway, after that point I never missed a record. I was working at HMV here in Canada and would constantly be importing Coral singles so I could get the b-sides. I have every single from the first two records (including both CD’s of “Secret Kiss” as well as the 45). Obviously I had to get the 45 AND Maxi-single of “Pass it On”, partly because those b-sides were so great ! Ironically, I DO think I was the first … to order that many Coral odds and ends.

It was a special time back then. You and The Zutons dropped instant classic debuts, and all of a sudden I went from listening to dwell-y BS like Embrace, Travis, etc to wanting to rock out with this obscure sounding mersey-pirate-beat. I felt so blessed to be able to see both you AND The Zutons in Toronto around 2005 (Zutons must have been a bit earlier than that, as I checked out after the second album. No offense to them, but … did not care for a lot of the third record).

Part of what compels me to write this is that this new record, and it’s return to the unpredictable angle of the first record, caught me off guard, and made me realize that I hadn’t listened to you in awhile. I was so taken aback by “Roots & Echoes”, I just didn’t know what to make of it at first. Bands change, mature and adapt, but it began to feel like Invisible Invasion (or perhaps “Curse of Love”, if we’re going by recording date) was a send-off to that raucous Coral I had fallen in love with. It isn’t that R&E was a “Bad” record. “Put the Sun Back” may be the loveliest tune you’ve ever crafted, but I guess part of me was afraid we would never get that Beefheart quality back again. That said, “In the Rain” certainly would fit on those early records, so really this speaks more to my frame of mind in 2007 than now.

“Butterfly House” was interesting, because it essentially walked the line between R&E, but with the production of Invisible Invasion (obviously not the same producer, but I mean that it had more of a psychedelic swirl to it than R&E did). Although it contained many lovely melodies, the undercurrent was still a lingering folky quality, leading me to wonder about the future (and past) of the band. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE folk music. I was lucky enough to grow up with a nice LP collection that went from Kingston Trio to Tiny Tim to Easy Rider to Platoon to Abbey Road to Neil Young and beyond.

That said, I guess what always worried me was the thought that perhaps label pressure (or perhaps your own pressure) over crafting “hits” was superseding making whatever you wanted, like it used to be. This is, of course, only a fear I once had and not something I have any proof or backup of. I guess I always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder on your behalf because you have Alex Turner come in and (seemingly) effortlessly conquer the music world, or have a Zutons song covered by a popular singer and blow up, but what of the originators ? What of my precious Coral ??

Fact is, I love Arctic Monkeys too (as I’d imagine you do as well, or those would’ve been pretty awkward shows to play). I can’t possibly compare you as bands, because it’s just not the same thing, nor does it attempt to be. I always kind of saw Alex as your little brother who loved what you were doing and wanted to be a part of that energy. In some ways, it felt like they used the first Coral record as a jumping off point, but took it in a different direction. In that way, all fans of AM have you to thank for blazing the trail, and I’ve been sure to spread the gospel of the Wirral wherever possible.

Here’s the thing though. I know what you dig, and what your influences are, because I’ve always shared many of the same. Although I’m more of a “Safe As Milk” than a “Trout Mask Replica” guy, I can’t help but think of your work when I listen to my boxes of Nuggets and marvel at the power a single 45 side can bring. And to me, thats The Coral. That’s what’s more important than having a 3 minute pop tune known worldwide for a few months. You were never The Beatles, you were The Kinks. You were We The People. You were The Remains. And I hope you don’t look back, in anger or otherwise.

I’ve been writing songs for years myself, and though I’ll never achieve the heights you have, all I ever really wanted was to be the dusty 45 that some kid finds in a box outside a second hand shop. He takes it home and EXPERIENCES that song. Just like those obscure 60’s/70’s bands we love, that made 1-3 singles and disappeared. It’s that feeling I never tire of, the fine line between genius and obscurity. I think you know what I mean, though you’ve already had multiple chart successes, so the comparison is less apt.
Anyway, twitter doesn’t allow nearly enough characters to properly summarize my feelings for what you’ve created over the years. You’ve outlasted The Zutons, The White Stripes and so many others that burst onto the scene during that magical period in the early 2000’s. That’s really something to be proud of, especially when you’ve dropped a gem of an 8th record, in some ways out of nowhere. I guess I just hope you never have any regrets or any envy towards other artists, because nobody did it like you guys.

Bands and labels come and go. Trends and styles weave in and out of the musical fabric, but you guys are still here. You’ve weathered the storm, and proven your mettle with so many varying genres, sometimes within the same song ! I hope you’re proud of what you’ve created and achieved, because it’s meant so much to me, and to many others. The beauty of music is knowing that no matter what, you’ll live forever (non deliberate Oasis reference).

Thank you for the memories, and if you can make it to Ottawa, you’ve got a place to stay and some joints, pints and records waiting !

Can’t wait for what’s next,

e

P.S. – I made a Coral Compilation back in the day, but the new album caused me to re-evaluate it and make a new version. It’s career spanning, and includes 28 tracks (10 non-album). It was pretty tough, and I had to make some unfortunate cuts (the “bonus disc” is 31 tracks), but I think it’s a great snapshot of the band, and should help in my efforts to spread the word of The Coral ! I thought you might get a kick out of seeing what a fan of so many years has chosen to represent your work. Don’t tell “Skeleton Key” that I cut it.

P.P.S. – I hope to hear that concept album someday, if you ever let it out of the vault !

Current Coral Comp

  1. The Coral – Grey Harpoon (2:20)
  2. The Coral – She Sings The Mourning (3:08)
  3. The Coral – In The Morning (2:33)
  4. The Coral – Dreaming Of You (2:21)
  5. The Coral – Sorrow Or The Song (3:15)
  6. The Coral – Connector (4:13)
  7. The Coral – Liezah (3:31)
  8. The Coral – The Conjurer (2:59)
  9. The Coral – Monkey To The Moon (2:23)
  10. The Coral – Shadows Fall (original version) (3:14)
  11. The Coral – Travelling Circus (2:38)
  12. The Coral – Put The Sun Back (3:02)
  13. The Coral – In The Rain (3:06)
  14. The Coral – Wildfire (2:45)
  15. The Coral – It’s You (3:28)
  16. The Coral – Not The Girl (3:47)
  17. The Coral – Pass It On (2:19)
  18. The Coral – The King Has Died (3:18)
  19. The Coral – The Box (2:58)
  20. The Coral – I Remember When (3:37)
  21. The Coral – Green Is The Colour (3:22)
  22. The Coral – Return Her To Me (2:37)
  23. The Coral – Don’t Think You’re the First (4:03)
  24. The Coral – Far From The Crowd (3:39)
  25. The Coral – Bill McCai (2:37)
  26. The Coral – Late Afternoon (3:51)
  27. The Coral – Who’s That Knockin’? (2:27)
  28. The Coral – Another Turn in the Lock (3:35)

Lazron’s 2015 October Horrorthon !

Well, it’s that time of year again ! The month that everyone ELSE watches as many Horror movies as I usually do every other month. It’s a wonderful time of year for many other reasons too. The changing of the leaves, Pumpkin flavoured things (mainly beer), Crisp temperatures, Halloween, etc. Some would argue it’s the best time of the year, leading up the best holiday of the year ! But most wouldn’t.

Anyway, I wanted to do my October Horrorthon a bit differently this year. Generally I pick 31 movies I’ve been meaning to see but have yet to get around to. There are still tons of those, but I’ve also amassed a pretty great collection of DVD’s & Blu Rays … Which have then never been watched. Coupled with that, my wife & I celebrated out first year of marriage a few months ago and I wanted to get her a bit more involved with things.

She’s also a Horror fan, but not so much pre-90’s or low budget (or black & white, or foreign). Many people aren’t, and she has many other wonderful traits, so it’s perfectly reasonable & to be expected. She has a pretty good track record of liking really good Horror flicks though (It Follows, Starry Eyes, The Descent, Triangle, Cheap Thrills, Oculus, Big Bad Wolves, Ginger Snaps), so it’s not like she doesn’t know what’s up.

Anyway, it occurred to me that I could combine my urge to re-watch movies I’ve bought (and never re-watched) AND my urge to expose her to great Horror she has yet to see, so I went with a half-half. 15 of my selections will be stellar Horror hand-picked by me in the hopes that she’ll also dig them. 12 others will be ones I’ve seen/bought but not revisited. As a FURTHER compromise (to myself basically) the remaining 3 will be NEW/acclaimed Horror that neither of us has seen. 1 will even be in theaters ! Horrific Date Night !!

Anyway, the final selections are listed below, for your judgement/approval/hatred. Odd numbers are for Her, even numbers are for Me, though some of my selections could have made Her list as well, so we’ll see if I can rope her into more than 16 viewings. This year is a bit unorthodox, but I think I killed it. Cough.

1) May (2002)

may-movie-poster-2002-1020201863“A lonely young woman traumatized by a difficult childhood, and her increasingly desperate attempts to connect with the people around her.”

Classic movie, and one I’m shocked wasn’t in my collection (especially since I own “Roman”. Who has “Roman” & NOT “May” ??). Easily one of the best Horror films in the past 20 years, with masterful acting & directing by McKee & Bettis. Stoked to re-watch it.

2) Deathgasm (2015)

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“Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives.”

I’ve been hearing great things about this festival darling & have had the calendar circled for weeks in anticipation (the calendar is metaphorical, I’ve circled nothing). Word is there are many laughs & much violence to be had. Colour me intrigued !

3) Attack the Block (2011)

550w_movies_attack_the_block“A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.”

Some could argue it’s more of a Sci-Fi than a Horror, but it’s pretty damn horrific to me. Despite that, it’s just an all around great film, and one I’ve not seen a second time (despite my vocabulary adoption of “Bruv” and “Fam”). Here’s hoping it still holds up. I’m also looking forward to re-watching John Boyega, now that we know he’ll be a major part of the Star Wars series in 2 short months !

4) Scarecrows (1988)

Scarecrows“Five people heist the Camp Pendleton payroll, kidnap a pilot and his daughter, who are forced to fly them to Mexico. Enroute a double cross has one of the thieves parachute with the loot into an abandoned graveyard surrounded by strange scarecrows. Two of the team jump after their loot and their former partner. Everything happens during the course of one very dark night.”

It was great to see MGM finally give this the DVD release it deserved many years ago, but even better to see Scream Factory give it some extras & an HD transfer. A somewhat uneven film (as I recall), but spectacular scarecrow effects & unnerving tension throughout makes this a worthwhile choice.

5) Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)

some-guy-who-kills-people-poster“Ken Boyd, a lonely man fresh out of the loony bin, who sets out to kill those he deems responsible for his miserable life.”

This seemed to be an Under the Radar flick for most, which is a shame because it’s quite good. Treading more along the lines of comedy, it’s not without its bloody kills as well. He acting is too notch, and the mystery & laughs (especially the interaction between the main character and his daughter) kept me involved throughout my first viewing.

6) Xtro (1982)

xtro-movie-poster-1983-1020380521“Tony’s father Sam, abducted by aliens three years earlier, returns to earth and seeks out his wife and son, but Rachel has since been living with Joe and the reunion is awkward. Joe doesn’t trust Sam, and Rachel can’t quite decide what her feelings are for her two men. Sam is not the same as when he left, and he begins affecting Tony in frightening ways.”

Now HERE’S a movie begging for an extras-packed HD release. A suitably oddball UK alien horror with an unforgettable “Woman giving birth to grown man” scene, I’m really excited to dust off this old chestnut. One I’ve not seen since my Video Store days (and probably shouldn’t have seen then, but I’ll take it).

7) Deep Red (1975)

s-l1000“A musician witnesses the murder of a famous psychic, and then teams up with a fiesty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen killer bent on keeping a dark secret buried.”

In my opinion this is easily Argento’s best film (sorry “Juno”, I mean “Suspiria” fans). I’ve actually only seen it once, but it left such an impression on me over the years. I was really more of a Fulci fan for a long time, but as I got older & re-visited the works of both directors, it was really more like comparing Tarantino to Roth (or Bay to Scott, whatever you like). Hopefully my wife can get past the year it was made & the language it was shot in, but I’ll take the risk !

8) The Offspring (1987)

WHISP-002“In a small Tennessee town, an historian relates four horror stories to a reporter.”

TECHNICALLY I should refer to this by it’s original title of “From a Whisper to a Scream” (especially since I’m a real stickler for using original titles for albums & films). That said, I originally found/saw this as “The Offspring”, and later became a big fan of the band by that name (though I can’t defend all of their later material). I was overjoyed to see a reversible cover on the Scream Factory release, making “The Offspring” live forever on my movie wall. This is an extremely overlooked Anthology flick, featuring the last Horror role of Vincent Price (assuming we’re not counting “Dead Heat” or “Edward Scissorhands”, because come on).

9) The Blob (1988)

the-blob-movie-poster“A strange lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.”

Easily one of the better, and most overlooked, Horror remakes. A rare case of a remake improving upon the original (depending on when you were born & what you look for in Horror I suppose). Incredible practical FX, solid plot, a pre-“Saw” Shawnee Smith & an excellent ending all combine to make this almost a most classic, except among those who’ve sung its praises for years. This would make a great double bill with “Night of the Creeps”, though NOTC barely missed the cut on this years list. It may have to wait till next year to thrill me.

10) Alligator (1980)

ALLEY_TRAMP“A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.”

A late addition to the list, but one I’ve been meaning to get to since acquiring the DVD years ago. Arguably the best Gator-Horror flick ever made (honestly, it’s a short list. “Eaten Alive” ? “Rogue” ?), and possibly the greatest Crocodile-Horror ever made as well (“Lake Placid” ? “Crocodile” ? “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” ?). From what I recall, the effects still hold up, which is impressive in its own right considering how awful the “Lake Placid” series looks.

11) The Loved Ones (2009)

index“When Brent turns down his classmate Lola’s invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.”

Another recent instant-classic, Australia has been making some impressive forays into the genre in recent years (“The Reef” in particular is probably the best shark movie since “Jaws”, but then again, every shark movie cover says that). I loved the juxtaposition of Horror & Happiness during the intertwining storylines, and many Horror fans can identify with Prom being a real Horror Show.

12) Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

affiche-frankenstein-s-army-2013-4“Toward the end of World War II, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The scientists have used the legendary Frankenstein’s work to assemble an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades — a desperate Hitler’s last ghastly ploy to escape defeat.”

Although some complained about the logistical/factual problems of a found footage movie set during World War 2, I absolutely fell in love with the creature design work in this film. My wife actually watched this one with me & was furious at the lack of historical accuracy, which I found to be a hilarious criticism of such a film, but hey, at least she watched it, right ? I look forward to my second viewing, alone again (naturally).

13) Sleep Tight (2011)

sleep-tight-movie-poster-2010-1020735230“You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?”

I only saw this for the first time a few months ago, but it was an exceptionally well made film that got under my skin & never truly left. While there have been several quality Spanish-made Horror films in the past decade, few have been as successful at slowly ratcheting up tension in a non-gory fashion. Well acted, written & put together, “Sleep Tight” is a real treat.

14) Horror Hospital (1973)

y“Jason, a member of a 1960’s pop group, decides he needs a break at a country retreat. On the train he meets Judy, niece of Aunt Harris who owns the place with her husband Dr Storm and who are using the guests for surgical mind-control experiments. So while Jason and Judy are pretty quickly making out, they are just as quickly working out how to get away.”

Probably the epitome of the kind of Horror my wife can’t get into, this movie is a ridiculous treat for fans of low budget, old school UK Horror. I’m a sucker for most movies set in a remote “Something’s not right here, but will they figure it out in time ??” locale, and as a bonus, this one has Alfred from Tim Burton’s “Batman” films ! Gough check it out ! Sorry.

15) I Saw the Devil (2010)

479c300b896892bcf4ba23f6da46da5d“A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.”

Another recent instant-classic from the “Who even thinks up this stuff ?” Japanese, this one is a tough watch at times, but well worth the effort. There are some impeccably filmed scenes here, and although the subject matter is a tad grim at times, the end result is well worth enduring. And hey, at least it’s not “Martyrs”, right ? It’s like a comedy compared to that ! (In no way is it like a comedy).

16) Tales of Halloween (2015)

14

“Ten stories are woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.”

Possibly the film I’m most excited for this October. I’m a HUGE fan of Horror Anthologies, and short stories in general. I’m the kind of guy who will buy 6 different beers instead of a 6 pack. That said, TOO MUCH variety is often overwhelming & more of a letdown (I’m looking at you “ABC’s of Death” series). “Tales of Halloween” has a stellar cast of filmmakers behind it, and has been getting great reviews thus far. Honestly, I’d be watching even if it didn’t, but I’m thrilled to be able to check it out in theaters.

17) The Signal (2007)

22“A horror film told in three parts, from three perspectives, in which a mysterious transmission that turns people into killers invades every cell phone, radio, and television.”

Another unheralded indie film, this one was interesting due to being 1 story told in 3 parts by 3 different writer/directors. The tone shifts throughout, but not to an unpleasant degree. The midsection’s switch to Comedy was jarring for some, but I appreciated the variety they were able to bring to the story. Even if the middle didn’t work for some, the first & third acts were horrifically impressive.

18) My Bloody Valentine (1981)

tumblr_lyncmw97hE1r8t8k6o1_1280“A decades old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer’s order and people start turning up dead.”

The original Canadian Classic ! To me, this movie didn’t really exist until MGM released the Uncut DVD/Blu Ray several years ago. I remember seeing it on TV & being completely underwhelmed, to the point of not even enjoying the film itself. There was a good amount of fanfare when the Uncut version was released, and I’m so glad it survived (even if the cut scenes weren’t of HD quality). The kill scenes absolutely MAKE this film, and elevate it to a higher Cult status than it had already enjoyed. Always nice to see some old school Moosehead bottles too. The less we say about the unintentionally hilarious MBV3D, the better.

19) Maniac (2012)

index232“As he helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, the owner of a mannequin shop’s deadly, suppressed desires come to the surface.”

Another example of a remake improving upon the original (sorry Spinell fans), “Maniac” turned the Horror world upset down with both the casting of Frodo and the decision to shoot entirely in POV. Now, anyone who had seen “Sin City” knew that Wood’s casting was well earned, but would they be able to shoot 90 mins from his point of view without making it tedious or monotonous for the audience ? Much like “Will “Buried” be able to make 90 mins in a coffin with Ryan Reynolds interesting” and “Will “Frozen” (the good one) be able to make 90 mins on a ski-life with Iceman nerve wracking”, the answer was a resounding Yes.

20) The Omen 2 (1978)

damien-omen-2-movie-poster-1978-1020466118“Damien the Antichrist, now thirteen years old, finally learns of his destiny under the guidance of an unholy disciple of Satan. Meanwhile dark forces begin to eliminate all those who suspect the child’s true identity.”

This might seem like an odd choice, but I actually preferred this film to any other “Omen” entry. There is a palpable sense of dread throughout, probably more so if you weren’t aware there were 2 sequels following. Several key scenes have always stuck with me, but the old man in the red snowsuit being trapped under the ice is one I’ll never forget. Who would’ve thought that Damien would eventually grow up to be in both “Jurassic Park” AND “In the Mouth of Madness” ?? He was truly blessed.

21) Slither (2006)

slither-movie-poster“A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters.”

Before rising to worldwide prominence for writing/directing “Guardians of the Galaxy” (but after marrying Pam from “The Office”) James Gunn wrote & directed this gross out Horror/Comedy gem. A partial homage to the aforementioned “Night of the Creeps”, you can tell the cast had a great time making this throwback genre flick. And speaking of decent Remakes, this was 3 years after he wrote the surprisingly decent “Dawn of the Dead” ! Not too shabby (unlike the remake of “Day of the Dead”).

22) The Burning (1981)

TheBurningfinal“A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.”

Another film rescued by MGM on DVD before before being re-rescued on Blu Ray by Scream Factory ! Actually, as I recall “The Burning” & “Scarecrows” made their DVD debut on the same day all those years ago ! “The Burning” is primarily known for 5 reasons. 1) It’s a rip-off of “Friday the 13th”. 2) Tom Savini did the FX. 3) It co-stars a young Jason Alexander (with hair !). 4) It was the first film made by Miramax (and was even co-written by one of the Weinstein’s). 5) Rick Wakeman (of “Yes”) did the soundtrack. Not a bad pedigree for a low budget Horror knock off !

23) Proxy (2013)

Proxy-Movie-Poster-Teaser“The life of three parents who have all shared the loss of a child. Motives are not what they seem and sanity is in short supply in this thriller.”

I saw this recently on Netflix & was quite impressed with the story & performances, so much so that I quickly went to Twitter to thank the Writer/Director for his efforts (he was pleased. Gotta love technology). Though the subject matter is a bit touchy at times, “Proxy” never goes overboard, instead drawing it’s story out gradually with an air of mystery throughout. Highly recommended (if you’re into that sort of thing).

24) Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

LetsScareJessicaToDeath-1971“A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.”

Another film that wouldn’t appeal to my wife in the slightest, “LSJTD” is a slow, brooding, mid-70’s Horror with an unnerving sense of dread permeating almost entirely through its running time. I’ve really come to appreciate these dreamlike 70’s Horrors (Lemora, Le Orme, Who Can Kill a Child, Voices, And Soon the Darkness), though I do see why some find them tedious, especially by today’s standards.

25) An American Werewolf in London (1981)

26262“Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.”

A classic film that still boasts arguably the best Werewolf transformation ever. This selection could go either way for my Wife, but I think the mixture of Comedy, Horror & above average effects has helped it stand the test of time. I’ve never been a big Werewolf guy (I found both “Near Dark” & “The Howling” to be flawed, though enjoyable), but “AAWIL” seems to be one most can agree on. Unlike the sequel …

26) Session 9 (2001)

session-9-movie-poster-2001-1020232902

“Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.”


A criminally underrated film, perhaps partly overlooked due to the casting of David Caruso. “Session 9” is an incredibly unnerving film that slowly drags you further under its spell, never letting go until the credits roll. I’m a sucker for films set in asylums (though most are horrible rather than horrific) & “Session 9” uses its settings to great advantage. It’s a tense, frightening & thrilling mystery that’s well worth your time, even if it co-stars CSI:NYPD Blue.

27) The Final Girls (2015)

The_Final_Girls_poster“A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.”

The third & final (lol?) “previously unseen” film is also arguably the most hyped. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one, which is apparently more frightening than terrifying, but hey, so was “Shaun of the Dead” & “What We Do in the Shadows” ! If it can approach anywhere near those heights, we’re certainly in for a treat.

28) Planet Terror (2007)

Planet_Terror_international_movie_poster“After an experimental bio-weapon is released, turning thousands into zombie-like creatures, it’s up to a rag-tag group of survivors to stop the infected and those behind its release.”

I was lucky enough to see this in the theater as part of the complete “Grindhouse” experience. Unfortunately I was unlucky enough to stay around for “Death Proof” afterwards, but it didn’t take away from the shear lunacy/joy of Robert Rodriguez’s zombie epic. Yes, it doesn’t look low budget or much like a true Grindhouse film, but dammit, it was a blast ! I have yet to watch my Blu Ray of the “extended cut”, but if the movie is as good as I remember, I’ll be pleased as punch. (PS – I like Tarantino’s next 3 films, but DP just didn’t do it for me).

29) At the Devil’s Door (2014)

at_the_devils_door_xlg“When ambitious young real estate agent Leigh is asked to sell a house with a checkered past, she crosses paths with a disturbed girl whom she believes is the runaway daughter of the couple selling the property. When Leigh tries to intervene and help her, she becomes entangled with a supernatural force that soon pulls Leigh’s artist sister Vera into its web – and has sinister plans for both of them.”

Another recent Netflix discovery, this was a pleasant surprise, especially amongst a sea of awful DTV Horror films with “Devil” in the title (not you “Devil”, you were alright). I couldn’t remember too much about this one the next day, apart from being impressed enough to vouch for it to my wife. We’ll soon see if that was a foolish effort on my part.

30) Halloween 3 (1982)

halloween_iii_fan_poster_by_mrgrumpy07-d31ffe7“Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.”

One of the most divisive Halloween films (largely because it’s the only one to NOT feature Michael Myers), “Season of the Witch” has enjoyed a sort of Cult Renaissance in recent years, largely from fans being like “Who cares if it’s the only 1 of 11 Halloween films to not feature MM, it’s a good story !”. I mean, Halloween 8 DID have MM, and it was horrible ! Looking forward to seeing what Scream Factory brought to the table on this one. And hey, you can’t go wrong with Tom Atkins (even if “Night of the Creeps” didn’t make the list).

31) The Changeling (1980)

the-changeling-movie-poster-1980-1020194171“A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.”

I felt I had to end on a classic, and what better than a CANADIAN classic, starring a classic actor ?? This one is a bit of a shot in the dark, as it’s entirely possible my wife will find it too slow & dated. That said, it’s the last movie on the list, so if it fails to impress her, hey, it’s November ! It’s been too long since my last viewing, and this one truly deserves a re-watch. Even if it ends my marriage …

There were a few Runner Ups that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, though all are totally worthy in their own ways. I thought I’d include them for fun though, so you can tear into me for cutting out one of them in favour of some movie you thought sucked. Have at it, we’re all friends here ! Although I may have offended Joe Spinnell, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Michael Bay & Tom Atkins. Still, I had a good run.

Till’ Next,

– e

Runner Ups –

Kill List
Blood Rage
The Mutilator
Night of the Creeps
Stake Land
Terrorvision
Terror on the Menu
The Devils Rejects

Lazron’s 2014 October Horrorthon !

014

Well, it’s that time of year again. Some might say the BEST time of year ! Unless they hated horror films, in which case, it’s probably the worst time of year. Nuts to those people though, it’s time for 31 straight day of horror flicks !!

I’m pretty excited about this year (although I say that every year I suppose). The vast majority of these choices are acclaimed, either critically or from other horror fans. There are a few I’ve been meaning to get to for years, some even had been picked for previous Horrorthons (Sorry Rec 2+3).

This is my first post-marriage Horrorthon, so do pity my lovely wife for the madness she’s about to be privy to. For her, November 1st must feel like a lifetime away. Luckily we have two floors here, everybody wins !

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you, the 2014 October Horrorthon !

1) Murder Party (2007)

“A random invitation to a Halloween party leads a man into the hands of a rogue collective intent on murdering him for the sake of their art, sparking a bloodbath of mishap, mayhem and hilarity”


2) The ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

“Be ready to learn your ABC’s again with 26 new directors and 26 new deaths bring your kids to a blood and gore filled horror so good your face will be blood red”


3) Triangle (2009)

“The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas”


4) Rec 2 (2009)

“In order to ascertain the current situation inside, a supposed medical officer and a GEO team step into the quarantined and ill-fated apartment building”


5) Rec 3 (2012)

“A couple’s wedding day turns horrific as some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness”


6) The Den (2013)

“A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim”


7) Amer (2009)

“Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana’s life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her? ”


8) Bug (2006)

“An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation”


9) Wither (2012)

“Ida and Albin are a happy couple. They set off to a cabin in the vast Swedish woodlands to have a fun holiday with their friends. But under the floorboards waits an evil from Sweden’s dark past”


10) Patrick (2013)

“After killing his mother and her lover some years before, Patrick is the comatose patient in room 15 of a remote, private psychiatric clinic”


11) The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)

“After a young girl is gang-raped by a crew of construction workers, someone starts killing off members of the group with a nail-gun”


12) 13 Tzameti (2005)

“Sebastian, a young man, has decided to follow instructions intended for someone else, without knowing where they will take him. Something else he does not know is that Gerard Dorez, a cop on a knife-edge, is tailing him. When he reaches his destination, Sebastian falls into a degenerate, clandestine world of mental chaos behind closed doors in which men gamble on the lives of others men”


13) 13 (2010)

“A naive young man assumes a dead man’s identity and finds himself embroiled in an underground world of power, violence, and chance where men gamble behind closed doors on the lives of other men”


14) Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

“A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art”


15) The Redeemer (1978)

“Six people are trapped within the confines of their old high school during their 10th high school reunion with a psychotic, masked preacher who kills them off for their sinful lives they have made for themselves”


16) Sleep Tight (2011)

“You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?”


17) The Legend of Hell House (1973)

“A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. Previous visitors have either been killed or gone mad, and it is up to the team to survive a full week in isolation, and solve the mystery of the Hell House”


18) Thirst (2009)

“Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways”


19) American Mary (2012)

“The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called “freakish” clients”


20) Audition (1999)

“A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all”


21) The Theatre Bizarre (2011)

“Down a seedy city street in her neighborhood, young Enola Penny is obsessed with what appears to be a long abandoned theatre. One night, she sees that the front door is slightly ajar and impulsively decides to sneak inside. But there in the dark, decrepit auditorium, a show unlike any other unfolds before her eyes. Its host is an eerie human puppet named Peg Poett who will introduce Penny to six tales of the bizarre: A couple traveling in a remote part of the French Pyrenees cross paths with a lustful witch; A paranoid lover faces the wrath of a partner who has been pushed to her limit; The Freudian dreams of an unfaithful husband blur the lines between fantasy and reality; The horrors of the real world are interpreted through the mind of a child; A woman addicted to other people’s memories gets her fix through the vitreous fluid of her victims’ eyeballs; And a perverse obsession with sweets turns sour for a couple in too deep. But as the stories unfold, something much stranger is happening to Enola. Something irreversible and horrific. Something that awaits its next audience in THE THEATRE BIZARRE”


22) Anguish (1987)

“A controlling mother uses telepathic powers to send her middle-aged son on a killing spree”


23) Shock Value (2014)

“Struggling ‘B’ movie Director blackmails a serial killer to be the star of his next film”


24) Psychos in Love (1987)

“A strip-joint owner and a manicurist find that they have many things in common, the foremost being that they are psychotic serial killers. They fall in love and are happy being the family that slays together, until one day they come up against a plumber who also happens to be a cannibal”


25) Dead Snow 2 (2014)

“If the worst day of your life consisted of accidentally killing your girlfriend with an axe, chain-sawing your own arm off, and watching in horror as your closest friends were devoured by a zombified Nazi battalion, you’d have to assume that things couldn’t get much worse. In Martin’s case, that was only the beginning”


26) Joshua (2007)

“The arrival of a newborn girl causes the gradual disintegration of the Cairn family; particularly for 9-year-old Joshua, an eccentric boy whose proper upbringing and refined tastes both take a sinister turn”


27) The Ruins (2008)

“A group of friends whose leisurely Mexican holiday takes a turn for the worse when they, along with a fellow tourist embark on a remote archaeological dig in the jungle, where something evil lives among the ruins”


28) Evilspeak (1981)

“A military cadet who happens to be a social outcast taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer”


29) Home Sick (2007)

“A maniac with a suitcase full of razorblades unleashes a super human killer upon a group of kids in a small Alabama town. They must take up arms with a insane Chili enthusiast if they want to survive”


30) Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

“Giovanni Lambardo Radice and John Saxon are Vietman vets that bring back contagious virus that turn people into cannibals when bitten”


31) VHS 3 (2014)

“Follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation”

2014 – A List of Things I Can’t Wait to Enjoy

With all due respect to 2013, I think it may be all but a memory when 2014 is said and done. That isn’t to say that the past year was without it’s gems, far from it. 2013 brought us the return of Anchorman, the best Arctic Monkeys album yet, an instant classic horror remake (Maniac), my engagement, a second Deltron 3030 album, an overindulgent Arcade Fire (and Eminem, and Kanye) record, and many many other occurrences.

Still, I had a hard time feeling great about 2013 while compiling this list of upcoming gems. The more I added to it, the more excited I became. And that was BEFORE 60’s Batman was announced for a DVD/Blu-Ray release ! Hell, that could be it’s own blog entry right there ! It’s not though. Anyway, I’ve separated the gems into 4 columns. TV, Music, Film & Home Video. And yes, I’m still calling it “Home Video”, I fear change !

TV

1) The Return of 24 [season 9] (May 5th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir9t53Dh08Q

24_Live_Another_DayI know this won’t mean much to non-diehards of the show, and even those of us who trudged through the last 3 seasons probably aren’t expecting much at this point. That said, 24 was a thrilling show that I looked forward to seeing week after week. Season 5 was the clear standout (best characters, story & villains, least junk), but I’m hoping that a change in format (from 24 episodes to 12) and location (London instead of the US) may be just what the series needs to ratchet up the tension experienced in the first 5 seasons of this groundbreaking show.

2) Better Call Saul (November)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBNs9rk0FGo

Better-Call-SaulClearly that isn’t the real intro, but I’m sure we’d all still watch it if it was. I actually didn’t catch up with Breaking Bad until this year, mainly because I’d watched the first season (& a few episodes of season 2) with my (now) ex, so it was a bit tainted for awhile. I knew I’d love it (and I did), and now that I’m caught up, I can’t wait to watch this prequel series, starring Bob Odenkirk’s popular Saul Goodman character. Clearly it won’t live up to everyone’s hype, but it’s the closest we’ll get to new episodes of BB, so bring it on !

3) The Return of Trailer Park Boys [Season 8] (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m97HE5U91VM

tpbSpeaking of shows that were once great, then got less great (but still enjoyable), TPB is coming back for an 8th (and 9th, at least) season ! There’s also a third film being released in April (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwJIDrOEPts), though I’m a bit more excited to have a regular series returning. As it turns out, the main cast members themselves have acquired the rights to the series, so I suppose we can look forward to them milking the characters to death for years to come. That said, it’s nice to see them back in TV show form, even if it ends up being online only.

4) American Horror Story [season 4] (October)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Khbhv33ab0

o-AMERICAN-HORROR-STORY-570Sadly, neither of those are real. Well, “official” that is. All we know about the upcoming season of AHS is that it will be a period piece set in 1950, and most of the cast will return (including the always excellent Jessica Lange). It may seem pretty far away (seeing as season 3 doesn’t end until tomorrow), but AHS has been a consistently fun watch over it’s 3 season run. It makes me look forward to every October even more than usual.

Home Video

1) BATMAN (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlusgU-MUZ4

d083576dc96bccb3a19606f4fbc2ddd61e48b12I can’t even begin to tell you how outrageously excited I am for this release. This has been at the top of my list since I was a child collecting VHS and watching Batman re-runs after school. I can safely say that this is one of my favourite TV shows of all time, despite how ludicrous it became. One need only look at the blu ray transfer (and special features) given to the one-off 60’s Batman film to fathom just how good those colours can look in HD. This show was so tangled up in rights issues, I’d assumed that my black market DVD’s of studio master VHS rips was the best I’d ever get. The fact that I’ll have a blu ray copy of all 120 episodes in my hands by the end of the year is almost too much to comprehend. SO STOKED !! (P.S – that’s not official cover art, but it’s pretty sweet regardless).

2) Nightbreed – The Cabal Cut (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX0-AlytIXY

nightbreedcabalNothing bothers me more than censorship or studio fuckery. Many films have been irrevocably ruined by studio meddlers who thought their vision trumped the filmmakers’. It’s rare that the artists get another shot to fix the mistakes of the past, but Clive Barker has been given just that. Not only will we get to see (more or less) his original vision of Nightbreed, but we’ll get it from the brilliant minds of Scream Factory, arguably the best studio for genre video releases. It’s been an ongoing struggle to wrestle the footage/rights from the studio, but this Fall it will all have been worth it (assuming the extended cut is actually good).

3) Anchorman 2 – Recut (April)

http://et.tv/1cE2B5T

anchorman-2-whysoblu-2As much as I enjoyed Anchorman 2, I couldn’t wait to see the long discussed recut version of the film. So much footage was shot for the original Anchorman that an entirely new movie was made with the leftover footage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNWTvzLrWFA). A similar thing happened with the second film, but with a bit of a twist. Although the “recut” version will include 15-20 minutes of entirely new footage, ALL of the jokes from Anchorman 2 have been replaced with alternate jokes, 250 new jokes in total. An ambitious undertaking to be sure, but one I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.

Music

1) Johnny Cash – Out Among the Stars (March 25)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiUaWE_Vftg

Johnny_Cash_-_Out_Among_the_Starshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBlRx7DlL_E

It’s not often that we’re treated to a “lost” album by a certified legend. Recorded in the early 80’s, this album has never seen the light of day. We’ve become conditioned to lower our expectations when it comes to an artist of this caliber, especially for material that’s been buried for 30 years. That said, I’m excited to hear what’s been tucked away for so long.

2) Broken Bells – After the Disco (February 4th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhBewKu80Mg

After_The_Disco_CoverDespite the pedigree of the duo involved (The Shins, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, The Black Keys, Beck), I think the first Broken Bells album flew under the radar for most people. It was a lovely blend of both artists, an album that rewarded multiple spins and became all the richer for it. I’ve been fiending for a follow up record (though their Meyrin Fields EP was an enjoyable stopgap). Word is that this record is even better than the first. Can’t wait to give it a spin.

3) Kasabian – TBD (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3x_ayUaoSk

3004Not much is known about Kasabian’s upcoming fifth album, but they’ve become one of the most consistent and enjoyable UK bands in years. Only Arctic Monkeys can boast a better track record, and their recently released fifth album was their best effort yet. Can Kasabian continue that trend ? Let’s hope.

4) Ratatat – LP5 (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X827AZ_ajAs

f3158fdc5db111e3be8c12db5299872b_6Speaking of consistent bands dropping their fifth records, it seems like ages since we’ve had any new Ratatat music to enjoy. Their delicious blend of “Daft Punk meets Legend of Zelda” has served them well over the years, even leading to a production job for Kid Cudi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXaqfllUz3k). Though LP5 hasn’t been OFFICALLY announced for 2014, I’d be shocked if we don’t have it in our hands by the end of the year.

5) Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdvsUdOssiw

Wu-Tang ClanOh, the ups and downs of being a Wu fan. I actually really enjoyed (most of) their last record “8 Diagrams”, but fans have a valid reason for being concerned with the quality of this, their (likely) last record. For years we’ve seen in-fighting, bickering, subpar solo releases and little reason to hope for the best. The latest cause for concern is Raekwon’s reluctance to add verses to the album unless he is paid upfront. Supposedly the album is finished, apart from Rae’s contribution. Truly a sad state of affairs, but either way, we’ll be getting the album soon enough.

6) DoomStarks – Swift & Changeable (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9_HY6uZwVc

Doom+Starks+doomstarks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1-Mv2pzhh8

I’m starting to think we may never actually get this record. Supposedly they’ve been working on it for the past 7-8 years, but so far only 2 tracks have been released. On the plus side, one of those was released last year, leading me to believe that we’re closer than ever to hearing this (hopeful) gem of a record. Of course, both artists tend to spread themselves pretty thin, so who knows when we’ll actually get to hear it.

7) Nas – TBD (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ2E-hRDfiY

NasNot much is known about the upcoming 12th Nas album, apart from the fact that it will drop in 2014 and be his last release under Def Jam. It was also recently confirmed that it will contain a track called “Sinatra in the Sands” featuring Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. It’s also a safe bet that Kendrick Lamar will make an appearance. Can’t wait.

8) Jack White – TBD (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpK0CTEZGe8

2010jackwhitejm080112gallery0Much as it pains me to admit, I was pretty letdown by Jack White’s first solo record, “Blunderbuss”. It wasn’t a “bad” album, it just didn’t quite live up to what came before it. That said, I’m a HUGE Jack White fan. I think he’s one of the last real rock stars, and I’ll always check out anything he lends his talents to. Fingers crossed that his second record knocks it out of the park.

9) The Slew – TBD (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kVrbs2B6XA

TheSlew_Band_2_16x9_620x350Speaking of albums that flew under the radar, hardly anybody seemed to notice when Kid Koala (Deltron 3030, Bullfrog) teamed up with the 2 former members of Wolfmother (when they were good) to create The Slew. It was an incredible show and album, featuring 2 DJ’s and a live rhythm section. 2014 will bring us the next chapter in their sound, but I urge you to check out 100%, great record.

Film

1) Dumb and Dumber To (November 14th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMXwrJV3W98

dumb-and-dumber-to-set-09242013-102002I wish I had a trailer for you, but that TV spot was pretty great for 2 reasons. First, she said ‘we’ve all been waiting 20 years for this”, but appears to be about 23-25, so there’s that. Second, she pronounced the name Harry “Doon” instead of “Done”. Bit awkward for someone who’s been waiting for a movie since she was a toddler ! ANYway, Dumb & Dumber was an instant classic, much like Anchorman. I never thought we’d get a sequel to either, but to get BOTH seems to make this the best year ever !

2) Sin City 2 – A Dame to Kill For (August 22nd)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDYsUl5-9Gk

Sin-City-A-Dame-to-Kill-For-teaser-posterSpeaking of sequels I never thought we’d see, this year we’re being blessed with a follow up to the visually astounding Sin City. I couldn’t believe how awesome the trailer looked when the first movie arrived, and the film itself did not disappoint. I can’t help but think this will be a highlight of the summer.

3) X-Men – Days of Future Past (May 23rd)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK2zYHWDZKo

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_posterI have to admit, I’m more excited about this film due to “X-Men First Class” rather than the first 3 X-Men films. Not that they were bad (maybe the third one), but First Class was the only one of the four that really blew me away. Excellent acting, cool storyline, good casting, etc. I’m hoping that Bryan Singer (director of the first two) is able to bridge the universes properly, but I’m certainly a bit cautious about this one.

4) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0wP5ZkaUGg

Dawn_of_the_Planet_of_the_ApesI’m actually a pretty big fan of the Planet of the Apes series, but even I was taken aback by how good the prequel/reboot was. It was arguably the best film of the entire series, and I’m still kicking myself for not catching it in theaters. I won’t make the same mistake twice, I just hope my diligence pays off.

5) REC 4 (October 18th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApWyHgYZFqQ

REC_4_PosterThe original REC was one of the greatest “found footage” horror films ever made. Unfortunately it spawned a horrible remake (Quarantine), which itself had an unrelated, direct to video sequel that nobody cared about. REC 4 will be a sequel to the well received REC 2, picking up immediately after it ended. I still haven’t watched REC 3, but it’s set at a wedding, so it should coincide nicely with my own impending nuptials.

6) Interstellar (November 7th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WzHXI5HizQ

interstellar-christopher-nolan-posterI don’t know too much about this one, but all that really matters is the director (Christopher Nolan) and the cast (Matthew McConaughey, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow). After The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige and Inception, it’s hard to think Nolan will drop the ball on this one. Sign me up !

7) The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Fg5iWmQjwk

The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel_PosterSpeaking of reliable directors, you either dig Wes Anderson or you don’t. I’m not a fanatical Anderson Defender, but I’ve loved most of his output, including his most recent offering, Moonrise Kingdom (which ranked among his best). As usual, the cast is great, the tone is quirky and the seats will be filled.

8) Grand Piano (January 30th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEoM7bM7KVw

Grand_Piano_Official_PosterIt’s hard to believe how far Elijah Wood has come. From “The Good Son” to Middle Earth to Sin City to Maniac, the boy can act ! The premise of this one sounds a bit like Phone Booth meets Amadeus (alright, it’s the first movie I thought of involving a piano), and it’s been garnering rave reviews on the festival circuit. Catch it On Demand in January or in theaters this March.

9) The Town that Dreaded Sundown (TBA)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njIN4eHJKWM

The-Town-That-Dreaded-SundownSpeaking of Elijah Wood, his turn in last years “Maniac” remake further solidified his acting chops. Will “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” be this years semi-obscure indie horror remake that improves on the original ? In the hands of American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, I’ve got pretty high hopes for it.

In Closing

There are certainly many other projects that I’m excited about this year, as well as many I’m sure I don’t even know about yet ! There’s been a strong rumour that The Kinks may re-form this year (for the first time since the mid-90’s). I’ve heard those rumours before, so I tend not to get too excited. That said, if it doesn’t happen this year (the 50th Anniversary of their first album) it’ll never happen. Fingers crossed they can overcome their differences and head out, one last time.

Apart from all that, I’ve got my aforementioned wedding to look forward to in 5 months. For that reason alone it’ll be hard to top 2014 as one of the highlights of my life. But then I found out Batman was coming out too. How lucky can one guy be ?!

Till’ Next,

– e

The Highs and Lows of a Raptors Fan

UTA_5_012512It’s hard out here for a Toronto Raptors fan. Overpaying free agents, blowing draft picks, dealing away franchise level talent, convincing the rest of the world that Canadians don’t live in igloos, it’s never been an easy road to follow.

In their heyday Vince Carter set the league on fire with the dunk heard round the world and a playoff performance that was one bucket away from a third round playoff berth, something Toronto had never achieved before or since.

Many fans bemoaned the loss of both Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, a formidable one-two punch that had finally helped lend the Raptors some credibility. Though neither would end up achieving their dreams of an NBA championship, both would eventually make it to the NBA Finals (Carter in 2009 with Orlando, McGrady in 2013 with San Antonio).

Perhaps more troubling than the loss of Carter or McGrady was the most recent departure of All Star talent, Chris Bosh. This is not to suggest that Bosh was the more talented player of the three, but he had certainly ingratiated himself deeply to the city of Toronto, going so far as to proclaim that he would “Rep T-Dot Till’ they Bury Me”. Or until a suitable sign and trade scenario presented itself.

c3d0e6384d90a2be5873b5096376All bitterness aside, Chris Bosh leaving the Raptors was the best thing that could have happened to them. Publicly handcuffing them into accepting whatever Miami felt like offering is another thing entirely, but what’s done is done. The fact of the matter is, Chris Bosh is not a franchise player, and he certainly isn’t worth a max contract. Had the Raptors bent over backwards and offered him the $125 million that he felt he was worth, there would have been very little financial flexibility left to overhaul the rest of the roster.

In the end, Toronto maintained a modicum of flexibility and Bosh got what he wanted, money and NBA championships. He didn’t end up choosing to be “The Man” as he had claimed, but as an All Star caliber third banana he no longer had the pressure of carrying an entire team as he’d had to do in Toronto. His numbers plummeted and he became the butt of most Heat-related jokes, but he’d gotten further than any other ex-Raptor to date.

Now, this isn’t about players leaving or not wanting to play for Toronto. The Raptors fanbase has always been a voracious beast in and of itself. The mere fact that the Raptors outlasted the Vancouver Grizzlies had been a point of pride for the city. That is, until the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder gained relevance and both surpassed Toronto’s best playoff run. After 5 years without a playoff berth, things seemed bleaker than ever for our fledgling team.

Oddly enough, things could have been even worse for Toronto. When free agent Steve Nash was considering teams, Toronto offered the 38 year old guard a 3 year $36 million contract. Upon learning that he was in talks with the Knicks, Toronto offered restricted free agent Landry Fields a 3 year $20 million deal in the hopes of jamming up New York’s finances and keeping Nash from signing there. Toronto then drafted Terrence Ross over the far more talented Andre Drummond in the hopes that Ross would be a better fit next to Nash. Luckily for the Raptors, Nash chose LA, promptly became injured and helped Toronto dodge a crippling $36 million commitment.

Jerryd BaylessThat said, Toronto has had it’s share of silver linings over the past few years. The hiring of coach Dwane Casey seemed like a coup, as he was fresh off an NBA championship with Dallas. Unfortunately, having to bring a team’s defense from the ground up takes time, something Raptors fans have become restless with giving. This season is Casey’s last contract year with Toronto. All eyes will be on him as he continues to develop what he’s started, or auditions for his next head coaching gig.

In addition to Casey, the savvy drafting of young center Jonas Valanciunas has been paying off big time. Jonas is on pace to be the best center in Raptors history, and well worth seeing him develop as the centerpiece of Toronto’s young core. In addition to Jonas, the acquisition of Rudy Gay was the shot in the arm that Toronto needed last season, especially after a dreadful 4-19 start that seemed like the beginning of the end. Obviously he is severely overpaid at $18 million per year, but his leadership and talent is something Toronto desperately missed in the wake of Bosh’s departure.

The biggest question mark going into the 2013 Raptors season is whether the team will attempt a long awaited playoff run or unload the contracts of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and perhaps Demar Derozen in favour of “tanking” and ensuring a higher pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, widely considered to be the best draft in years. Personally, I’m of two minds on the subject. While I’m not in favour of throwing games and sacrificing chemistry in favour of what MIGHT be around the corner, there is little to be gained by making the 8th seed and being blown out in 4 games. Still, 6 years without playoffs is a long time for fans to go hungry.

The biggest change for the Raptors came with the replacement of GM Bryan Colangelo with former Raptors alumni Masai Ujiri, as well as the hiring of CEO Tim Leiweke. Both are highly respected individuals with a proven track record (Ujiri received the NBA’s Executive of the Year award with Denver, Leiweke won an NHL championship with the LA Kings). Colangelo himself was fresh off winning the NBA’s Executive of the Year award when he joined Toronto, but too many gambles and twists of fate cost him his job.

Andrea Bargnani, Paul Millsap Ujiri’s first order of business was to divorce the team from Colangelo’s 2006 #1 pick, Andrea Bargnani. Much like BC himself, there were high expectations for Bargnani in Toronto, expectations that he was never able to live up to. Ironically, the Raptors received a better deal for Bargnani than they did for Vince Carter, a fact that still rubs a bit of salt in the wounds of veteran Raps fans.

Leiweke and Ujiri have made it clear that a new era is upon us, and they’ve made good on their word in more ways than one. It was recently announced that Toronto has been awarded the 2016 NBA All Star Game, just in time for the Raptors 20th anniversary. In addition to this, Toronto has partnered with hometown rapper Drake to help lend some credibility to both the city and the team. Drake has been dubbed the Raptors’ “Global Ambassador”, and will have a hand in redesigning the Raptors logo and team colours, just in time for the 2015-2016 season.

While I may not personally be a fan of Drake’s music, there’s no denying his impact on popular music and culture. Since announcing their partnership with Drake, the #Raptors have been trending worldwide on twitter, no mean feat for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 5 seasons. Between unloading the albatross that was Bargnani, landing the All Star Game and allying with one of the most popular rappers in the world, Toronto has begun the difficult process of digging out from under several years of heartbreak.

Despite the view of most NBA fans, Toronto has never been at risk of contraction. They’ve consistently been one of the top 10 earners in the league, despite how their record may look to an outsider. While there’s still an uphill battle to be fought, the Raptors have made some big steps in the past year. For a team that’s started from the bottom, it won’t be long before the rest of the league realizes we’re here.

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