October 17, 2014

Dangerous Alliance: The Death Rattle teams up with The Movie And Music Network

The folks at the Movie and Music Network have decided to form a partnership with yours truly that will involve some cross promotion, but I mainly just wanna help spread the word for their growing site, which offers a number of streaming movies for you to dig into for a low monthly price! By signing up, you'll have access to a bunch of channels that host feature-length films, television shows, children's shows, and even "adult programming" for you freak-a-leaks.

You can head over to the Movie and Music Network HERE and see for yourself - and keep in mind that by clicking the banner on the sidebar to the right, it will allow you to sign up for the site with a special promo code that kicks me back some scratch so I can feed my kids! So, feel free to click the banner or follow this link to the Movie and Music Network to see what they're offering. But, if you're too lazy to do that, you can scroll down a little and see some of the channels that might be of interest to you fans of horror, exploitation, and sleaze. Click on the pictures to see what each channel has to offer. And remember: please use my banner if you plan on signing up.

Also, as part of the partnership, I'll be reviewing a couple of their movies a month and you'll be able to watch those movies for FREE on a new "Reviewed" channel they'll be including on the site. Stay tuned.

The most controversial films of the century specializing in cult, horror, art house, and erotica films.

A collection of movies that encompasses all that is freaky, scary and disturbing.

Media Blasters contains various content including, Japanese animation, Tokyo Shock, and Shriek Show.
Horror and sexploitation feature films and trailers we just can't get enough of.

 TERROR Channel:
The Terror Channel has the most extreme, outrageous insanity, depravity, debauchery, skullduggery and evil ever captured on film, featuring all manner of lunatics, sadists, torturers, psychopaths, murderers, zombies, sexual deviants, flesh-eaters, cannibals, monsters, goths, witches, Satanists, vampires, and all others generally up to no good.


October 16, 2014

Kickstart My Heart: Carl Bachmann's horror-comedy PARTY SLASHERS

Carl Bachmann is a filmmaker who's trying to get his latest project off the ground - a horror-comedy slasher called PARTY SLASHERS. He reached out to me regarding his project, so I thought I'd share it with the millions and millions of Death Rattle readers, and by "millions" I mean "tens" (on a good day).

According to the film's Kickstarter page, the synopsis for PARTY SLASHERS is as follows:
A group of high schoolers must survive a Halloween party crashed by undead mass murderers accidentally summoned during a D&D game.

For more info check out the PARTY SLASHERS Kickstarter page HERE and be sure to watch the video, which includes a test scene of what you can expect from Bachmann's feature-length in the event that his campaign is successful.

As with any crowdfunding project, there are a variety of rewards available for whoever backs this particular project. The rewards for PARTY SLASHERS range from digital downloads, physical copies of the movie, custom Grindhouse posters, and being involved in the actual creative process. Again, check out the Kickstarter page HERE and give PARTY SLASHERS a "Like" on Facebook HERE if you're into that sort of thing.

We here at the Death Rattle wish Carl Bachmann the best of luck with his project!

October 13, 2014

Full Eclipse (1993)

Directed by Anthony Hickox. Starring Mario Van Peebles ("Max Dire"), Patsy Kensit ("Casey Spencer"), Bruce Payne ("Adam Garou"), and Tony Denison ("Jim Sheldon"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (HBO)
Running time: 01:37:07
Country: USA

Following the abrupt death, resurrection, and second death of his partner, a gung-ho cop names Max Dire gets an invitation to join a group of vigilante anti-hero police officers with a dark secret. All of the members have been screwed over in some way and have taken to dishing out their own brand of justice... werewolf justice! That's right, Max is slowly but surely recruited into a group of werewolf cops. As part of his orientation, he witnesses the wolf-cops (wolf-pigs? yeah... bad joke, sorry) singlehandedly take out a heavily-armed criminal organization while dresses in X-Men-like black spandex, but not before injecting themselves with some sort of drug.

The initial reluctance and skepticism on Max's part as far as joining the group eventually goes away when he's seduced by one of the female members, leading to an awkward-looking sex scene, in which Max's pants are inexplicably ripped at the crotch and ass like he tried to do the splits and the actress playing the seducer has large pieces of tape visibly covering her nipples.

There's really not much to say in terms of my observations on the film. I don't know if I'd outright classify this as a horror movie. It's also an action movie and a crime drama - a true mash-up of genres if there ever was one. If there's a problem with the plot, it's that there's no clear-cut objectives for Max and the group of werewolf cops he aligns himself with. They're not trying to take down any specific antagonist and there's really no "black hat" to contrast them. All of the conflict stems from turmoil within the group, specifically as it pertains to Max and Adam Garou - the literal leader of the pack. As the film goes on, there's more revealed in regards to the lore of the group and especially their leader. That said, FULL ECLIPSE is basically a movie about a jaded cop who goes to the darkside and later has second thoughts about it, except with werewolves added to the mix. And, it should be said, that these aren't typical werewolves. The film addresses lycanthrope traditions, like the lunar cycle and physical reactions to silver, but the main catalyst for the transformations are an experimental drug that the Garou creates.

As far as the actual transformations themselves, the characters grow claws out of their knuckles like Wolverine. They also sprout fangs and there are some temporary facial deformities to emphasize their monstrosities, as if the bones in their faces were trying to break out of their skin. In other words, they're not covered with fur, however there's a pay-off towards the end if you prefer your werewolves to be a bit more traditional-looking. All of that being said, the makeup effects are far between but good nonetheless. I especially loved the visuals of the group in action. There are some great shots of them all dressed up in their black spandex and tearing shit up, but the action mostly takes a backseat to the plot and character interactions, which is fine.

FULL ECLIPSE is directed by Anthony Hickox, who I mostly know from HELLRAISER 3 and the WAXWORK movies. That said, this is very reminiscent of HELLRAISER 3 from a visual, stylistic, and atmospheric perspective - minus Pinhead and the Cenobites destroying shit and killing people of course. This is evident right off the bat during a shoot-out sequence in a nightclub at the beginning of the movie. The club itself looks identical to the Boiler Room with its weird props and decorations. This also features the main supporting actress from HELLRAISER 3, Paula Marshall, who also worked with Hickox on at least one other occasion that I'm aware of. Other things of note that are unrelated to Hickox's involvement are a BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD reference and the excessive use of stock Panther sound effects during the werewolf attacks. Also, other noteworthy actors include Jennifer Rubin (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3) in a disappointingly small role and Dean Norris (BREAKING BAD).

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I'm a tad disappointed by the emphasis on action and drama over horror, but hey, what can ya do. It's entertaining for what it is and the cast is pretty good. I'll definitely be giving this one a watch again at some point down the line. I'd even be happy to buy it and add it to my collection if it had a decent release.

Score: 7

October 9, 2014

Mutantis (2014)

Directed by Kelly Fitzgerald. Not Rated.

Source: Screener
Running time: 01:13:02
Country: USA

MUTANTIS is sort of a Troma-esque comedic tribute to the type of old-school monster movies you'd see featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. And, like a lot of those monster movies, the eponymous creature in this one has somewhat of an ecological origin, albeit mixed with some drunken Native American folklore and an incestuous backwoods back-story. Yeah, I dunno. As far as the plot, a former professor and current "freelance intellectual" who refers to himself as Father Joy (inexplicably played by two different actors) takes his son (played by a woman), step-daughter, and their female friend (played by a man) on a trip out into the wilderness to camp, but he has ulterior motives: to find and capture the mythical creature known as Mutantis.

MUTANTIS is clearly a very low-budget indie film, as evidenced by a number of things - namely the look of the creature and the terrible wigs and fake facial hair. Even characters who wouldn't need wigs are wearing them in this movie, as if everyone involved wanted to remain anonymous and not be recognized by their family members who just so happen to stumble across this movie. That's not the reason why so many wigs are incorporated, but it would certainly appear that way at a glance. Director Kelly Fitzgerald and crew obviously wanted to make something as absurd as possible with MUTANTIS, and the deceptively sloppy visual presentation of the actors and the characters is seemingly part of the comedy, as is the fact that the entire movie is dubbed by voice actors who sound drunk, sleep-deprived, etc.

Despite the overall presentation reeking of zero budget, MUTANTIS ends up being a somewhat stylish film with a lot of saturated and vibrant colors. There also appeared to be some work done in post-production to give it the appearance of being an unearthed Grindhouse type of movie from the 70s. Occasionally the film is a success in that respect, with parts of the film genuinely appearing to be shot on Super 8mm film and the like. Some of the film's visual highlights come during a hallucination sequence when one of the characters smokes pot and sees visions of Satan. The manufactured Exploitation aesthetic can be hit or miss when it comes to neo-Grindhouse movies, but it mostly works in the case of MUTANTIS.

Story-wise, what made the film hard to follow for me were the shit-load of characters who are introduced - not just early on but throughout the entire movie. The film throws a lot at you in terms of the numerous characters, their intentions, the social and political outlooks, etc. With most of the supporting characters, it's like "Wait.. what?" So yeah, it does get a tad confusing in that department, which ultimately messes with the pacing of the film at times.

Mutantis itself is a clawed, bird-like creature who appears to be a hermaphrodite. And yes, its sex does play an important part in the film, especially the final act. It has what appears to be a vagina, but its penis protrudes from it when it becomes aroused. Speaking of which, Mutantis is quite the rapey monster. As far as the gore effects and whatnot, it's more along the lines of Green Jello than Gwar if that makes any sense. In other words, very amateur-looking - even by indie, DIY standards. Generally speaking, the effects are not good at all, but for a movie like this it's perfect.

Whether you can get on board with the overall look and style of the film is one thing, but the humor itself will really depend on the viewer's tastes and mindset. A lot of the comedy comes from the tone of the film and how purposely(?) inept it is from a technical standpoint, so the humor might go over a lot of peoples' heads. As for me, I understood what they were going for with this, but the comedy got old after a while. Had there been more gags and actual jokes in the vein of a traditional parody, I personally would've found it to be more amusing than I ultimately did. If you're bored and wanna throw something on, perhaps MUTANTIS is not the movie you'd wanna reach for, but if you're in a group setting and the booze is flowing, this would be ideal.

Score: 6 wigs out of 10

For more information, check out Dire Wit Films

Also, shout-out to director Kelly Fitzgerald, who gave me a screener at Days of the Dead in L.A. Here we are pictured together with Mutantis!

October 4, 2014

Days of the Dead 2014 Recap, Pt. 2

Some thoughts and observations on the celebs who were at the convention (read part 1 HERE):

I only caught a quick glimpse of her on Saturday. She was in the same smaller room with Corey Feldman.

NIGHTBREED: Craig Sheffer ("Aaron Boone"), Christine McCorkindale ("Shuna Sassi"), Anne Bobby ("Lori")
I don't remember seeing Craig Sheffer but I saw Christine McCorkindale and Anne Bobby on Saturday and Sunday at their tables. Their tables were right across from Ashley Laurence's section. I didn't talk to any of them but I remember being somewhat star struck by Christine McCorkindale for a hot second. She played one of the more memorable characters in NIGHTBREED, which I'm a big fan of, so it was neat to see her in person. Had the new Scream Factory DVD/Blu-Rays already been available and on sale at the con, I would've been tempted to pick up a copy and have them sign it. Me and Anne Bobby had a brief interaction when one of the pups from the animal rescue organization was wandering around the convention and I stopped to take a picture with it; Anne came over showed the pup some affection as well.

Other than hanging out with my friends, the absolute highlight of the weekend was meeting Joe Turkel, who's mostly known for playing Lloyd the Bartender in THE SHINING. He also worked with Stanley Kubrick on THE KILLING and PATHS OF GLORY, making him one of only two actors who worked with him three times - more than any other actor. Honestly, I had no intention of meeting Joe, but I happened to be walking by his table on Saturday and noticed him engaged in conversation with two of his fans. He was telling stories about THE SHINING (specifically of the lighting of the bar scene with him and Jack Nicholson) and putting over Kubrick as the greatest director he's ever worked with. I just stood there and listened. Next thing I know, some dude and his girlfriend were standing next to me and listening to Joe as well. I looked over at them and said "This is amazing." It was like Story Time with Uncle Joe. A few minutes went by and everyone left, so it was just me at the table. I introduced myself to Joe and we immediately hit it off. Unless one of the celebrities goes out of his or her way to engage you in conversation, these meetings can be awkward, especially if you're like me and you're not the best at carrying a conversation. Well, Joe proved to be the NICEST and most charming celebrity I've ever met in my life, hands down. We talked for a few minutes and I absolutely fell in love with the guy. I noticed a sign on his table that said a percentage of the money he makes will go to a charity that assists children with cleft palates in getting plastic surgery - so that, combined with the fact that he's an amazing human being, made it easy for me to throw him 20 or so bucks for an autographed picture. I ended up taking a couple of pictures with him as well. He cracked jokes the whole time. On Sunday, I noticed him sitting at his table looking a little bored, so I went over and said hello. I mean, why not?! We talked about his episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, working with George C. Scott (regarding Scott's death, Turkel called it "A fuckin' shame"), and other things. If any of you out there get a chance to meet him in person, please do so! He's the best.

Barbara Magnolfi (SUSPIRIA)
I was really looking forward to meeting Barbara and buying something from her. I follow her on Facebook and she seems super cool. But alas an unexpected charge from the hotel eliminated a chunk of my spending money, so I had to take a pass on stopping at Barbara's table and taking a picture with her. I did briefly talk to her on Saturday, though. She was very friendly and she didn't hiss at me, which is a good thing. I hope to properly meet her at a future con one of these days.

Tiffany Shepis
I saw Tiffany on Friday and Saturday (or maybe it was Saturday and Sunday). On the first day she was in the main ballroom and her table was near Ian Zeiring's. On the second day she was in the smaller room with Corey Feldman, which I should just call the "Corey Feldman Room" at this point. I didn't actually meet her at any point but I saw her walking around a whole bunch. She's a lot prettier in person believe it or not.

THE THING Reunion: T.K. Carter ("Nauls"), Joel Polis ("Fuchs"), David Clennon ("Palmer"), Thomas Waites ("Windows")
Didn't really interact with them in the convention, but we did walk by their tables a few times. One of the times we walked by their table, Thomas Waites was laying on the ground behind his table with his feet up on his chair. Either he was sick, tired, or just bored. Maybe all of the above. Whatever the case, it seemed kinda rude to the people who were there to see him and his fellow THING co-stars. Even at the panel, he just sat there with his arms folded and barely said a word. So yeah, I don't know what his deal was. The other guys were great though! Me and Kelly caught most of the panel Q&A and it was just awesome to hear these guys talk about working on the film. T.K. Carter was hilarious and David Clennon (currently starring in David Fincher's GONE GIRL) was very animated and excited. One of the highlights of the panel was watching Polis's facial expressions as Clennon got overly-excited at times and occasionally talked over the other guys. Good stuff. All that said, I couldn't wait to watch THE THING again after seeing these guys in person and hearing them talk about it, and so I did just that once I got back home on Monday.

Nick King (SINISTER)
Never saw him.

Caught a glimpse of them in the Corey Feldman Room on one of the days (Friday, I believe) but never went in to see them. THE MONSTER SQUAD is a very important film to me, but meeting these guys wasn't even on my list of priorities because I feel like I'd be able to catch them at a future convention (hopefully). If Ashley Bank was there, though, I probably would've at least loitered within their vicinity as opposed to walking by.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS Reunion: Kevin Tenney (Director), Amelia Kinkade ("Angela"), Jill Terashita ("Frannie"), Cathy Podewell ("Judy"), Hal Havens ("Stooge"), Billy Gallo ("Sal")
Aside from Amelia Kinkade, I don't remember seeing anyone else from the NIGHT OF THE DEMONS crew. They were there, I just didn't notice them. I REALLY wanted to go to their panel Q&A, but I missed it due to a lack of careful planning on my part. I'm sure it would've been an awesome discussion considering the amount of people from the film who were there. Amelia quit acting after NIGHT OF THE DEMONS III to become a Pet Psychic, which is... cool... I guess? But hey, it's good to know she still attends conventions and hasn't completely disowned her past. As far as her presence at Days of the Dead, I saw her around a lot - in and out of the convention ballrooms, around the hotel, etc. But then again, she sticks out from the crowd and is easy to spot, so it's hard not to notice her. I was hoping to see Cathy Podewell in person more than anyone else from the movie (mainly to see what she looks like now), but you tend to be easily distracted by a hundred different things when walking around at these cons.

Philip Friedman (INSIDIOUS)
He was scheduled for only one day but ended up being there for all three. Whoever maintains the Days of the Dead website and handles the promotion is terrible. Look at Barbara Magnolfi for example. She was scheduled for Friday only, but, like Philip Friedman, she ended up being there all weekend. Suppose someone wanted to go to the convention just to meet her but couldn't get out there on Friday? They would've blown off the convention entirely, completely unaware of the fact that she's there for another two days. I doubt anyone would go to the convention specifically to meet Philip Friedman, but hey, you never know! Anyway, he played one of the main apparitions in INSIDIOUS. I walked by his table a bunch and he seemed like a nice, normal guy. If you look closely in the picture below, you can see his table in the center.

Geretta Geretta (DEMONS)
I didn't know a whole lot about Geretta Geretta other than the fact that her image as one of the possessed in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS is pretty iconic. As a person, though, I didn't know much about her. Me and Kelly first saw her at Denny's on Saturday morning; she was ordering food as we were leaving. That was a trip. Clearly we have the same breakfast cravings. Her table at the convention was next to one of the aisles, so she was easily visible when walking through the main ballroom. That said, we saw her quite a bit, but we didn't actually talk to her until Sunday. Again, didn't know much about her, so I wasn't sure how she talked to her fans. Well, it turns out she's pretty fucking awesome with her fans. We had actually just got done talking to Joe Turkel (my second time at his table over the weekend), who's table was right next to Geretta's, and we just kinda walked by her table and nodded and smiled at her. But then I stopped and turned around to look at some of her merch. Next thing I know, a group of us were standing around her table and she was telling us anecdotes about working with Lucio Fulci, Claudio Fragasso, Lamberto Bava, and Bruno Mattei. I also gushed about how much I love MURDER ROCK (she plays the dance instructor) and asked her a few questions about it. Long story short, she was cool as fuck, approachable, very friendly, and proud of her work in Italian genre cinema. I highly recommend visiting her table at a convention if any of you ever see her.

Being a Misfits fan, it was cool to see him at the convention, but I never planned on talking to him. However, I decided to buy something from his merch table as a gift for a friend of mine, and I figured I might as well take a picture with him. While at his table, it was evident that he didn't enjoy being there. One of his handlers did all the talking for him while he paced back and forth behind his table and seemingly had no interest in acknowledging me, even once I paid 15 bucks for a piece of his merch. So yeah, Doyle was kind of a dick.

Ron Jeremy
Seeing Ron Jeremy in person was really cool, but he's always been in the public eye for the longest time, so it didn't feel like anything special. We saw him around a lot just walking around, and it's like "Oh hey, there's Ron Jeremy!" and then back to whatever discussion we were having amongst ourselves. I wasn't sure if he was there signing autographs because I didn't see him posted up at any of the tables for an extended period of time. Most of the time, he was just walking around and looking somewhat tired/lost. We did see THIS in the convention though...

Not sure why it was on display (it didn't appear to be for sale), but whatevs. As you can see, it's clearly the most terrifying thing you could stumble upon at any horror convention.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP Reunion: Felissa Rose ("Angela"), Jonathan Tiersten ("Ricky"), Frank Sorrentino ("Young Peter")
We caught the end of the SLEEPAWAY CAMP panel on Saturday and it was pretty cool. Felissa seems super down-to-earth. She was one of the people I originally intended on meeting and purchasing something from, but I had to take a pass due to an unexpected $200 charge from the Marriott that eliminated a chunk of my spending money. We also stopped by her and Jonathan Tiersten's table on Sunday and talked to her for a minute. She seemed nice. I was tempted to buy the Scream Factory SLEEPAWAY CAMP DVD/Blu-Ray combo from her and get it signed despite needing the extra money for dinner and whatnot. I'll definitely try to catch up with Felissa next time. On a side note, the coolest cosplayer I saw over the weekend BY FAR was a little girl who was dressed up as Angela from SLEEPAWAY CAMP post-reveal. I took a picture of the girl and posted it on Facebook and Twitter, where it became quite popular. I first saw the girl sitting on one of the couches in the main smoking area as I went out for a smoke break. I saw her out of the corner of my eye and my attention immediately gravitated towards her. I then made a B-line for the couch where she sat, looking bored out of her mind. I asked if I could take a picture of her, to which she rolled her eyes and sighed, seemingly because she was comfortable and it was a pain in the ass for her to stand up. Her older sister (who was dressed like American Mary) helped her up and she asked "Do you want me to make the face?" "Can you?", I asked. And then this happened...


I don't remember seeing him at the con.

Alec Gillis (Makeup Effects artist)
Not too familiar with Alec. Don't recall seeing him.

Diane Goldner (FEAST)
Didn't see her.

Ron Simmons
DAMN! I saw Ron Simmons at his table a bunch and he still looks as scary as ever. He was in between the Full Moon table and Rikishi's table. I did talk to his handler early on Friday before he arrived and he was pretty cool. His handler was a big dude with tattoos and facial piercings - not the type of person you'd expect to be making appointments for the first black World Heavyweight Champion.

Aside from Robert Mukes, Rikishi is the guy who I saw over the weekend in the most random places. The first time we saw him, he was walking out of the bathroom. I think Kelly shook his hand and yelled something along the lines of "Rikishi just walked out of the bathroom!" while he was still within earshot. He was also out at the main smoking area with his wife quite a bit. I desperately wanted to take a picture with him when he was out and about, but I didn't want to bother him out of fear that he'd back that azz up and give me the Stinkface.

No idea who this guy is.

SyFy's FACE OFF: Greg Lightner, Jerry Macaluso, Brea Joseph, Keaghlan Ashley
The FACE OFF crew were actually at the con to showcase their makeup skills. For all three days, they had their own little section in the main ballroom where they just applied makeup to people and turned them into monsters. I would often just stop and watch what they were doing. The only person I recognized from the show was Keaghlan Ashley because I've only seen the season she was on. I contemplated asking her to take a photo with me but I didn't have time and she looked busy.

Greydon Clark (Director: WITHOUT WARNING, JOYSTICKS, etc.)
Dude! I didn't even know he was there until the con was over. Needless to say, I never got to see the director of such amazing films as WITHOUT WARNING and the cult favorite JOYSTICKS. He must have been a late, late addition. I checked the Days of the Dead website over the weekend and didn't see him on there until Sunday afternoon when the con was over.

Michael Bailey Smith (THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake)
The only memory I have of him at the convention is that his table was next to Ashley Laurence. Considering Ashley had my undivided attention whenever I was in the vicinity of her table, Michael Bailey Smith was pretty non-existent as far as I was concerned, and I don't mean that in a bad way. He seems like a nice dude, based on interviews I've seen him in and and his presence at Days of the Dead.

Caleb Guss (FRIDAY THE 13TH [2009])
He seemed excited to be there and appeared to be enjoying the experience. I saw a few people at his table here and there. I initially saw him out in the main hallway outside of the ballrooms and wondered if he was somebody important (mainly because he was one of the handful of people NOT wearing black), so it all made sense once I saw him inside.

Kane Hodder
I saw Kane around quite a bit. His table was at the very back of the main ballroom, so I passed his section quite often over the weekend. I didn't talk to him or stop at his table though. I'm a fan, but he seems like the type of person who makes a lot of convention appearances, so I figured I'd catch him at a future con. On Sunday there was a girl who was dressed up as a combination of Jason Voorhees and one of the cannibals from the original HILLS HAVE EYES(?). I thought her costume was really cool, so I asked her if I could snap a picture. She immediately struck a battle pose, which was cute. I wondered if she was of any relation to Kane Hodder though. She hung around his table for a while and Kane referred to her as his "back-up".

Austin Stoker (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13)
One of the last people I talked to at the convention was Austin. He was only there on Sunday, which was the slowest day of the con. I barely noticed him; his table was somewhere in the middle of the convention in between a bunch of the vendors, so he was hard to spot as we were walking through the ballroom that day. I saw him sitting at his table as we were making our way out. He looked kind of bored and no one was at his table, so I went up and introduced myself and told him I was a big fan. I brought up the movie TIME WALKER and he laughed, asking "Where did you see that?" I told him it's out on DVD and he seemed surprised. He then told me he'd never seen it before and he typically doesn't watch his own movies - including the Blaxploitation horror flick ABBY, which he was selling copies of. He said he saw ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and SHEBA, BABY because they played on TV, but, other than that, he's not the type of person to go back and watch his own work. I asked him if he saw the remake of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and he said he hadn't. Austin was incredibly friendly and very soft-spoken. During our conversation, Ken Foree stopped at his table and shook his hand. If I had any money left by this point, I would've gladly bought something from him, just based on how nice he was.

Overall, Days of the Dead was an absolute fucking blast. Well, the weekend as a whole was fun and a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was with good friends and in a great environment. I plan on making this a yearly thing from now on, and I hope they decide to have the con at the LAX Marriott again. I really enjoyed my stay there. The hotel staff was incredibly nice and pretty chill when it came to the drinking of outside beverages on their property. The convention itself was really cool though. My only real complaint is that I didn't have enough time or money to do everything I wanted.

As a bonus, here are pics of some of the cosplayers at the convention:

 The handsome gents above are "Brothers of the Mask", who you can check out HERE

October 1, 2014

Days of the Dead 2014 Recap, Pt. 1

A brief recap of what I did over the weekend:
Travel day
Arrived at LAX at 9-something PM
Finally checked into the hotel around 10:30 after getting something to eat
Sat at the hotel bar for about 30 minutes, hoping to spot some famous people
Went to the room and messed around on the internet until 5am

Hit up the hotel's fitness room for a quick workout
Waited around for my friend Kelly to show up
Went back and forth between my room and the pool area for smoke breaks
Listened to Downer's 2001 self-titled album a whole bunch
Kelly showed up around 4pm
We hit up the convention and walked around for a while
Met up with our friends Miles and Tanner in the early evening
Took a cab to somewhere near the airport; ate pizza and drank beer at Melody's
Went back to the hotel and drank some more in the outdoor area near the convention rooms
Tanner went home

Woke up and got breakfast at Denny's
Miles left early in the morning
Went back to the hotel and walked around the convention for a few hours
Went to Hollywood and met up with our friend Stephen
Had dinner at the Pig and Whistle pub
Tried to attend a screening of Texas Chain Saw Massacre at Beyond Fest but it was sold out
Went back to the hotel and drank in the same outdoor area as the night before
Checked out the Days of the Dead "after party"
Stopped at the screening room and caught some of TIME TO KILL
Went back up to the room

Woke up and met Tanner and his wife Ley at Denny's for breakfast
Went back to the hotel and killed a couple of hours at the convention
Tanner and his wife left
Kelly left
I hung out in the room and caught up on social media
Dinner at Carl's Jr.

Woke up and went to the airport
Ate an overpriced breakfast at the airport
Flew home

Now I'll post some thoughts on all the celebrities who were at the convention, a lot of whom I didn't get to see:
(To be continued in Part 2)

Clive Barker
Barker was the main attraction of the con, which would explain why he was kept in a separate room from everyone else and had his own box office. I never saw him a single time over the course of the weekend but I did see his line on Saturday and it was LONG. Trust me, if I could afford it, I would've been standing in line with the rest of those people, but alas it wasn't meant to be this time. Hopefully one day I can meet this legend.

Roddy Piper
He only worked the con on Saturday and a few hours on Sunday right before they shut it down. He arrived fashionably late on Saturday (either that or he was advertised later than everyone else), but he made up for lost time when his table was swarmed with fans. Me and my friends got to meet him on Sunday and take a picture with him, which was a huge honor. We actually waited around specifically just to see if he'd show up (his merch table was there but he was nowhere to be found). When he finally arrived, I don't think anyone noticed; most of the people were gone by that point. But we saw him and his handler walk into one of the smaller rooms and we basically followed him and paid to take a picture with him. Roddy Piper was kind, gracious, and had a smile from ear to ear. He shook each of our hands (there were four of us), asked us our names, and posed for not one but two pictures. When the photo op was over, he shook everyone's hand once again and got to me last. I asked if I could hug him. Without saying a word, he embraced me and gave me a big ol' hug! Thankfully he didn't put me in the sleeper afterwards. Piper was one of my childhood heroes and he'll always have a place in my top five wrestlers of all time, so meeting him was incredible.

I don't recall seeing him at the con. I'm pretty sure he was there; I just didn't notice him amongst the sea of people. He wrote and directed a movie called SMOTHERED, which screened at the convention on Saturday night I believe.

Corey Feldman
I didn't meet him but I saw him on Saturday and Sunday at his table, which was set up in one of the smaller rooms. He was right by the ballroom doors, so anyone walking by could see him. Being a huge fan of THE LOST BOYS, it was pretty cool to see him in person, either signing stuff for fans or just walking around the hotel. He seemed really nice to the people who came to see him.

Tara Reid
She was in the main ballroom next to Ian Ziering's table. Tara was only advertised for Saturday, but I'm pretty sure I saw her at the con on either Friday or Sunday as well. I could be wrong though. Again, I didn't meet her, nor did I have any intent to, but she seemed to be enjoying the fan interactions.

Ian Ziering (SHARKNADO)
He and Tara Reid were in an area of the ballroom that made it easy for people to see them. I walked by him a bunch of times. I never stopped to talk to him, but he seemed really cool. On more than one occasion, he was standing up and pacing around near his table, as if he was soaking in the freakshow that was Days of the Dead. I saw him conversing with fans and celebrities alike, and he just seemed like a genuinely nice, approachable guy.

Bill Moseley
A big disappointment. I said hello and tried to engage him in conversation at one point on Saturday, but I got a bad vibe from him, like his appearance at Days of the Dead was strictly business and he had no interest in meeting any of the fans unless they had their wallets open. The few things I said to him were met with one-word responses, and I noticed him do the same thing to other fans who walked up to his table. He just seemed completely uninterested. Despite that, I contemplated buying a Cornbugs DVD but figured my money would be better spent on someone else. I hope I just caught him on a bad day and he's not like that all the time, because I really admire the guy.

Ken Foree
He was nice but he also seemed kinda bored. Either that or he was tired on the few occasions I saw him over the course of the weekend. My first encounter with Ken was in an elevator on Saturday morning before the con. It was just me, him, and my friend Kelly. He asked if we were there (at the Marriott) "for the celebration." I thought it was pretty awesome that he referred to the convention as a celebration. I saw him two years ago at HorrorHound Weekend and he seemed to be in better spirits then.

Sid Haig
Haig was there all weekend, but I barely saw him. I saw him at his table on Saturday when both of his fellow Rejects (Moseley and Foree) were there and I also saw him walking around outside of the convention here and there throughout the weekend.

Lance Henriksen
I never saw Lance a single time and even wondered if he canceled. He was only advertised for Saturday. Despite being at the convention for a few hours on Saturday, I didn't see him. It's very possible that he was in one of the smaller rooms that we never went into. I did see him two years ago at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis and he seemed super cool and approachable.

I saw her signing autographs on Saturday but never talked to her. She was positioned in an area of the ballroom that was located near a lot of cool vendors, so me and Kelly were typically distracted whenever we walked by her. She seemed cool though. I've heard nothing but nice things about her from friends who've met her in the past.

Miko Hughes (PET SEMATARY)
Seeing Miko in person was a trip. I mean, this is the guy who gave what I believe is the quintessential creepy kid performance in PET SEMATARY (also one of the better Stephen King adaptations) and here he is at Days of the Dead just walking around almost unrecognized by most people. I never saw him actually signing at the convention, but he co-DJ'd a dance party in one of the ballrooms on Saturday night. The party itself was bizarre. Less than ten people were dancing at any given time, and the rest of the people were sitting in chairs and watching the stage or just standing around. Speaking of standing around, there was a guy at the party who was dressed up as Rorschach from WATCHMEN and he was just standing by himself looking bored as fuck. When I first saw Miko, he was checking one of the circuit breakers in the ballroom's wall by where me, Kelly, and our friend Stephen were standing. I nudged Kelly and said "Hey, it's the guy from PET SEMATARY", but then I looked back at Miko and wasn't completely sure if it was him or not. Anyway, Miko took the stage after that and DJ'd for a while. The music was actually pretty good! The lack of people at the party made the experience a bit awkward though. I saw Miko walking around on Sunday as well but never bothered to get a picture with him. He seems cool as fuck though.

Robert Mukes (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES)
Aside from some adorable pups who were at an animal rescue table in the convention, Mukes was easily the star of the convention. We saw him EVERYWHERE. But, at 6'10", he's kinda hard to miss. The dude looks like a giant Mickey Rourke and I'm pretty sure Kelly had a man-crush on him. I don't blame him... Mukes is a fucking stud. He had a table at the con, but I only saw him at it once or twice; most of the time he was just walking around and talking to fans, hot chicks, and the other celebs. He was even at the aforementioned dance party just chillin',

Jordan Ladd (CABIN FEVER)
Like Lance Henriksen, I wondered if she'd canceled and even asked one of the box office guys if she even showed up, to which he replied "I'm not sure". Jordan was advertised for all three days but I never saw her once - in the convention or elsewhere. Who knows. I would've loved to meet her. CABIN FEVER was one of the movies I re-watched before flying out to L.A. to get myself pumped up for the convention.

Diane Franklin (BETTER OFF DEAD)
Never noticed her.

Yes, the creepy doll from THE CONJURING and now the star of its very own movie was an actual guest at the convention. Me and Kelly both took a picture with Annabelle, but I have to say, she was kinda rude. She just sat there on her chair and ignored us the whole time. Her handlers were cool, though. A male and female couple and a lone female alternated over the weekend as Annabelle's handlers. They were all nice people and essentially begged us to take as many Annabelle masks from their table as we wanted (me and Kelly both grabbed a handful of them). The lone female in particular was very attractive and quite friendly. I wanted to take a picture with her as well, but I sensed some jealousy from Annabelle so I took a pass. The last thing I wanted was that creepy-ass doll showing up in my hotel room in the middle of the night!

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Reunion: Don Calfe ("Ernie"), Clu Gulager ("Burt"), Jewel Shepard ("Casey"), Beverly Randolph ("Tina"), Allan Trautman ("Tarman"), Brian Peck ("Scuz"), John Philbin ("Chuck")
Sadly, I missed their panel, which I can only imagine was extremely entertaining just based on the amount of people from the film who were there. I mean, shit, Clu Gulager alone would probably be great to listen to. There were a lot of people who got ROTLD memorabilia signed from all the cast members; in hindsight, I kinda wished I was one of them. Oh well. Couldn't have afforded it anyway. I got a good look at the ROTLD crew at their tables on Sunday and they all seemed incredibly nice and excited to be there as they interacted with the fans and posed for photos. Don Calfe had an amazing dreamcatcher bolo tie and looked sharp. Seeing Clu in person just a few feet away from me was surreal, like, "Am I really in the same room as Clu Gulager right now?" Jewel Shepard's outfit had a punk vibe to it - I wasn't sure if she was dressed that way because of her character in ROTLD or if she actually dresses like that in real life, but she looked sexy either way. Beverly Randolph seemed nice and adorable. John Philbin looked very approachable. I saw an empty spot at the table where Allan Trautman was supposed to be, so I'm not sure if he left early or was on an extended break, and I don't recall seeing Brian Peck there.

Aside from Bradley Gregg, I don't remember seeing any of the NIGHTMARE crew at any point during the weekend. I thought about going to the DREAM WARRIORS panel on Sunday but we ended up getting breakfast down the street while it was happening. If Jennifer Rubin was there, I probably would've passed on breakfast!

Ashley Laurence (HELLRAISER)
She was the person I was looking forward to seeing the most. HELLRAISER is my second favorite horror movie of all time and Ashley has been one of my top movie crushes since, like, forever ago. That said, she's one of the few celebs I took a photo with at the convention. I was kinda nervous to go talk to her because 1) she's Ashley fucking Laurence! and 2) what if she ended up not being nice? A bad experience with her would've devastated me, but luckily she ended up being really gracious and nice. After circling her section like a shark for most of Saturday, I finally went up to her table, where she was talking to someone. So as to not be rude and interrupt, I looked at the merchandise she was selling and chatted to her handler - a big biker-looking dude who was just as nice as he is scary. After learning that autographed memorabilia and photo ops were not a package deal, I gave the handler some cash for a photo op and he took two pictures with my camera, both of which were awful (because of me). After the first photo, the handler asked "Do you want me to take another one?" Ashley replied "Yeah, take one more. I'll fix my hair." The handler then asked me if I wanted to fix my hair as well. I said no, but I looked over to Ashley and asked if I could fix HER hair. She laughed but I'm sure that comment weirded her out a little. And then we took this second picture...

September 18, 2014

Days of the Dead - Los Angeles 9/26-9/28

I will be there. Will you?! If so, let's meet up and partake in the consumption or nutritional sustenance, alcohol, or a good old-fashioned duel. I'd love to meet any of you fine folks out there in the blogosphere. I fly in Thursday night and leave Monday morning. Hopefully it's less of a cluster-fuck than my HHW trip two years ago. E-mail me at aarond_0999@yahoo or friend me on Facebook if you plan on being in the area and would like to meet up. Eh, who am I kidding - no one reads this shit anyway. Either way, expect a full recap in a couple of weeks. I'll be sure to give you all the details on how I cried and nervously vomited all over myself when I met Ashley Laurence. Holler!

September 11, 2014

Aaron vs. Brad at Yellow Razor

Brad of the podcast Hello! This Is The Doomed Show (check out his 13 Questions HERE) interviewed me for his blog Yellow Razor, which you can see HERE. I had a blast doing it! Give 'er a look, eh?!

August 31, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, The Final Day: Tragic Ceremony (1972)

Directed by Riccardo Freda. Starring Camille Keaton ("Jane"), Tony Isbert ("Bill"), Máximo Valverde ("Joe"), and Luigi Pistilli ("Lord Alexander"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Dark Sky/MPI)
Running time: 01:26:57
Country: Spain, Italy

The term "nightmare logic" often comes up when people talk about the plots of a lot of European horror movies. Well, that term certainly applies to TRAGIC CEREMONY (also known as FROM THE SECRET POLICE FILES OF A EUROPEAN CAPITAL) for a number of reasons, so it's kind of pointless to include a synopsis in this review. But, for what it's worth, the gist of it is that a group of bratty rich friends go on a camping trip and find themselves stranded during a thunderstorm. They hole up in the home of the mysterious Lord Alexander and his gorgeous wife, who reluctantly welcome them. Aside from the fact that one of the rich kids in particular, Jane (Camille Keaton of the original I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE), is unknowingly wearing a cursed pearl necklace and is experiencing terrifying hallucinations, the Alexanders are also practitioners of the black arts and just so happen to be hosting a (tragic) ceremony in their palatial home.

TRAGIC CEREMONY is atmospheric as fuck and beautifully shot. Director Riccardo Freda, who was a former artistic collaborator with Mario Bava once upon a time, has apparently disowned this movie, or at least he's voiced some regret with directing it, which is baffling to me considering this is a pretty solid Gothic horror movie full of amazing, spooky visuals. The atmosphere of the first act of the film in particular, in my opinion, is comparable to the cult classic MESSIAH OF EVIL, which, to me, is easily one of the top five most atmospheric horror movies I've ever seen.

The second act of TRAGIC CEREMONY transitions into a more classic Gothic horror type of story (in other words, less Satanic shenanigans and more wandering through hallways with candelabras and whatnot) with an accompanying mood and style that's on par with any of the best eerie Gothic horror movies out there. Riccardo Freda is no joke. While lacking in plot and coherence, TRAGIC CEREMONY proves to be beautifully-creepy feast for the eye-holes, elevated by an almost constant score of organ music, the sound of thunder and flashes lightning, Mario Bava-esque gelled lighting, camera work that goes back and forth between gliding and dizzying, and an incorporation of shadows and minimal lighting that seems to be inspired by Film Noir.

Strangely, the film reaches a shocking and bloody climax at the half-way point before drifting off in another direction that focuses on paranoia. TRAGIC CEREMONY starts to drag considerably by this point, but slow pacing tends to come with the territory of Euro-horror movies driven by nightmare logic. I've said it before in another review, but sometimes I have to call bullshit when it comes to the nightmare logic excuse in certain European horror movies (ohai Fulci's Gates of Hell trilogy), but TRAGIC CEREMONY is one of the exceptions for me. When you have a film as gorgeous and haunting and Camille-Keatonized as this one, it's hard to give a fuck about plot.

Score: 6.5