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Real Horrorshow – Maniac Cop and Hellraiser

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Everything is becoming a TV show nowadays. We’ve got “The Exoricist,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “The Walking Dead,” “Ash vs Evil Dead,” and recently announced “Tremors,” “Critters,” and “Child’s Play” series. It’s in horror’s blood to make all manner of sequels and remakes, and this isn’t the first time our favorite franchises have seen life on the little screen (think “Friday the 13th: The Series” and the other “Tremors” TV show…). But this is the golden age of television, baby. What once was guaranteed crap can be the next bold new vision. And anything is up for grabs.

Tremors

I just wanted to make sure you know that this picture exists

Whether it be a sequel, remake, or reinvention, these shows have often done more justice to the legacy of the franchise than the actual main franchise. I mean, seriously, look at “The Exorcist” TV series. Now look at Exorcist II: The Heretic. Now look back at “The Exorcist,” with its deep characters, surprising twists, and genuine moral struggles. Now look at Exorcist II: The Heretic, with its inception machines and Pazuzu hallucinations. It’s only a matter of time before a horror franchise implodes on itself. It just takes some longer than others. Television is the new hotness, and for good reason. It gives a franchise grasping at straws a new lease on life, a new method to tell a longer and more complex story that’s no longer hampered by severely restricted production costs. I mean shit, I’m pretty sure a Game of Thrones episode costs at least 4-5 Bugattis.

So with that all being said, I wanted to throw my hat of infinite wisdom into the ring. Welcome to my new monthly masturbation session, “Real Horrorshow.” Here I’ll be reminding you that I’m very important and incredibly smart by giving you my take on what shows should be the next to grace our mobile devices (or televisions, if you’re old and still do that). I’ll be doing two titles a month pulled from the worlds of film, book, comic, or whatever I feel like. But wait, there’s more! I’ll also be throwing in what new and exciting direction I think they should take the franchise. And as a bonus, I’m even throwing in what network/platform should be presenting it. It’s the whole package, all yours for the low low price of stroking my ego. So without further ado, here’s the first installment of Real Horrorshow!


Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop: The Killing meets The Shield with zombies

When Larry Cohen wrote Maniac Cop back in 1988, I doubt he thought that the future of police/community relationships would become so polarizing. While once the idea of a murderous cop was shocking, a parade of “bad cop” shows and real life officer involved shootings has changed much of the public’s perception of our men and women in blue. Now before you get triggered and start calling me a, “cuck SJW libtard,” my brother-in-law is a cop. Acknowledging that the relationship between the police and communities has become tense is just a fact. It’s not a political statement to mention that Black Lives Matter matter exists. How you feel about all that stuff is your own business.

Looking at it through this modern lense, “Maniac Cop” is a great opportunity to offer a new take on the traditional corrupt cop/serial killer story. This time around, Officer Jack Forrest isn’t just cheating on his wife. Jack is many years dirty, somewhere between the level of Dark Blue and Training Day. Though never actually accused or convicted of anything, Jack is a pariah in the newer, mostly reformed modern day NYPD. He’s seen as a living relic, an irremovable coffee stain on the department’s paperwork back from the days they all used to drink on the job. He’s not the cliché, “rough, but gets the job done” stereotype. He just exists, a pile of squandered potential solely dedicated to making it through another day.

Then the murders start. Victims seem to be random, with no apparent rhyme or reason other than location. The only commonality is that witnesses claim the killer was wearing a police uniform. But these aren’t your typical officer involved shootings. This is brutal, grotesque, savage murder. This new kind of terror brings tension between the police and communities to a breaking point.

Maniac Cop

Grrr… stoooooop resiiiiiiistinggggg…. grrrrrr

With a new slew of sweeping reforms and IA inquiries designed to root out the last traces of corruption, Officer Forest embarks on the noble quest of saving his own ass. The only way to stop the department from digging too deep and sending his ass to prison is to bring this “Maniac Cop” in. But the more he investigates, the more he finds details that don’t add up. Victims are mangled with an inhuman strength, blood under their fingernails is decades old, and the suspect seems to shrug off inhuman levels of pain, heat, and cold. The deeper Jack digs, the more the evidence of something supernatural begins to pile up. Already under the scrutiny of a distrustful department, Jack finds himself more isolated from his fellow officers as he delves deeper into the case.

What would set “Maniac Cop” apart from other typical cop shows would be the relationship between Jack and the community. Often times we see black and white, the good guys going after the bad guys. People in the community that are distrustful are wrong, as our hero always has the best intentions at heart. In this vision, Jack isn’t a knight in shining armor. He’s grimy, dirty, and self interested. His connections come from a career of underhanded dealings, and people only help him out of a lack of other options.

For the station, I’d like to see this one brought to life on AMC. Host to series like “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” and “The Killing,” AMC has shown they have a real talent for complex ideas, grey characters, and a good dose of violence. Let’s be real, this wouldn’t be “Maniac Cop” without buckets of blood. In the lead role of Jack I’d like to see Manu Bennett. His rough demeanor and raw physicality would be crucial to capture a cop that’s used to using his power for his own personal gain. He would have to be a believable match for the Maniac Cop, who I would love to see portrayed by Dominic Purcell. Purcell has made a great career out of playing characters who get their point across in only a few lines. Now I expect that for the sake of the series the undead Officer Cordell wouldn’t be be purely silent, but would certainly be a man of few words. Purcell’s intimidating demeanor and ability to convey emotion physically would be perfect for the role.


Hellraiser: The Twilight Zone on Crack

Time has not been kind to the Hellraiser franchise. Just watch any of the films from the 90’s and beyond (excluding Hellraiser: Inferno, which was surprisingly decent). We’ve had Hellraiser in space, Hellraiser in renaissance france, Hellraiser in dreamland, Hellraiser as a cult, Hellraiser online, and I don’t even know what the fuck Hellraiser: Revelations was. I have a few theories on why the franchise got hit so hard with the shit-stick (other than the typical horror franchise decline in quality), but my chief theory is that the Cenobites just don’t really work when you overly explain them. Getting little tidbits into their world is fine, but the more that you give logic to their machinations the less they seem to be an unfathomable evils. It’s like learning that Cthulhu is a fan of jasmine tea and only really wants to destroy the world to get back at Chad (Chad knows what he did).

At this point, the Hellraiser canon has gotten so convoluted and pointlessly stupid that trying to build off of it would be like building your house on the backs of a bunch of crocodiles. So let’s all just agree to let the past be in the past, and start over with an entirely new telling of Hellraiser. The Cenobites are still an enigmatic race obsessed with the most terrible extremes of human sensation, and maybe they can still even be humans who have become unrecognizable warped. Other than that, let’s go ahead and scrap the whole LeMarchand storyline. He can still be the dude that created the box, fine. But let’s just forget about the sex demon and blowing the Cenobites up in space. We can also forget about the fake Hellraiser internet game, the Pinhead cult, when the Cenobites tried to take over the earth… pretty much most of the series.

“I’m practically BEGGING to be forgotten!”

What I want to see is a “Hellraiser” anthology series. Each episode is a different person, having a new encounter with the Cenobites. What’s more, each encounter could be with a different Cenobite. Hell is a pretty big place, and we’ve already seen that there are multiple puzzle boxes. Why can’t each of them summon a different one of Hell’s overseers, with their own ideas of extreme pain. Chains and hooks are scary and all, but I can only see so many people get their skin ripped off before it stops being shocking. I know that horror loves their iconic characters, but let’s see some new faces with their own sights to show us.

Just imagine more hooks and chains involved

As an anthology, “Hellraiser” can avoid the over-explaining that destroys so many good horror stories. The individual episodes would be pieces of a larger puzzle, painting a picture of a much grander Hell with a number of competing personalities and motivations. It would be fertile ground for episode crossovers, allowing the creators to explore characters without having to be stuck with them season after season. Free to introduce and trash new ideas as needed, the mosaic of suffering would be legendary, even in Hell.

I’d really like to see “Hellraiser” come out on Netflix, as the anthology style makes it perfect for both short viewing sessions and a dedicated binge. Though maybe too violent for the main Netflix audience, they have taken some bold chances on shows in the past. Besides, they already have “The Upside Down,” might as well have the “And Blood Every Which Way.” Casting wise, just cast Doug Bradley as Pinhead. No arguments. As for some other Cenobites, I’d love to see what Eva Green would do with the role. Her performance in “Penny Dreadful” has me convinced she can master some seriously fucked up characters. I’d also like to see Freddie Highmore embody a less physically menacing, calculating Cenobite. Really, the sky’s the limit. As for the person incurring the Cenobites’ wrath, I suggest Logan Paul. Eddie Murphy that shit, have him play every character that gets Hell’s special brand of spa treatment.


Well, that’s it for my first month of Real Horrorshow. Let me know what you think, and tell me how much of a self-important asshat in the comments below. Tell me your much better ideas, and how much better you are at coming up with them. Describe exactly how small my manhood is, and exactly why my girlfriends would prefer yours. See you next month!

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Editorials

Zena’s Period Blood: Dying for a DEAD END

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It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”

“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.

How do you turn $900,000 into $77,000,000? Offer directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa the initial amount and give them the freedom to let their minds wander. In 2003, both directors accomplished this unimaginable feat with Dead End. Under the clouds of a small budget, typical poster and insubstantial trailer, most viewers forecasted one long stretch of boredom. However, 15 minutes in and I was as hooked as a pervert in a strip club with his tax refund money. In 83 minutes, the movie unravels and exposes intelligent craftsmanship with story, acting and location, introducing us to the Harrington family and their demise.

After 20 years following the same route, Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) decides to take his family down a shortcut to his in-laws home during Christmas Eve. Wife Laura (Lin Shaye) sings in the passenger seat, serving as the optimistic family unifier who is often ignored by her husband and children. Behind Frank is their oldest child Marion (Alexandra Holden), unnervingly sheltered under the arm of her soon-to-be fiancé, Brad. And forever mom’s favorite boy is Richard (Mick Cain), who rocks out to Marilyn Manson blaring in his headphones. After this brief introduction to the characters and their distinct personalities, we witness everyone fall asleep, including Frank, who refuses to let anyone else drive.

Several seconds pass before the Jeep Wagoneer veers into the opposite lane. Gradually, a honk pleads from an approaching car, startling the Harrington family and forcing Frank to fight with the wheel until he brings the Jeep to a stop. Wide-awake, the family begins to move forward, now entrapped on a new, never-ending road.

I could elaborate on so many scary details in the movie, but the never-ending road stands out the most. What makes it worse is that there are signs for a town called Marcott, with an arrow indicating the town is straight ahead. But the Harringtons never reach the town. This scares me because I believe that every human being has a mental list of things they are scared of or things they should keep an eye out for in certain situations. Unfortunately, this movie exists to expand that list. What sucks for me is that my husband likes taking back roads. Because I strive to have a happy marriage and a peaceful death, I usually fall asleep to avoid an argument and the grim reaper, both of which usually exist on these particular roads. However, I never imagined that a back road could become a never-ending road. Man that would suck!

Speaking of never-ending, the directors became devils of discomfort by never really showing the deceased’s mutilated body, leaving your brain struggling to piece together the unseen image long after the movie ends. Throughout the movie, the family and Brad are picked off one by one. We mainly suffer these devatations through the reactions of the family members that are still alive, sometimes witnessing them lift a severed ear or caress a charred hand. This movie taught me that I can still taste bile at the back of my throat when a mutilation is suggested rather than shown.

Directors Andrea and Canepa accomplished greatness in Dead End with little time and little money. It is a testament that imagination coupled with skill is the true combination to capturing a big budget feel. I hope that all the individuals behind this movie have a long, never-ending road ahead of them because they have delivered brilliance to the world. This is a good horror. Point blank. Period.


In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.

 


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5 Zombie Films That Flipped The Script

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The undead have long been a source of horror for cultures around the world. The thought of our loved ones returning from beyond the grave as shells of their former selves has filled countless people with feelings of dread, grief, and terror. Then there’s that whole pesky “they want to eat our flesh” thing going on. As if being in mourning wasn’t enough, now I’ve got to worry about remaining intact?

Netflix’s upcoming horror/thriller Cargo stars Martin Freeman as a man who wanders the Australian outback with 48 hours to live after being bitten by a zombie. The twist in this story is that Freeman has his one-year-old daughter with him and he needs to find a safe place for her before he turns.

Having seen the film, I can tell you that it’s pretty damn fantastic. The zombies are distinct enough that you’ll feel like you’re watching something new and the themes hinted at through the story, while not entirely unique, are so rarely touched upon in zombie films that it feels like a fascinating experience. Cargo has no issues bravely facing racism, xenophobia, environmental concerns, and the fear of loss, not only of one’s life but of all that will never be experienced. It’s horror with heart and it never shies away from that, for which I applaud it.

Because of the release of Cargo, we decided to take a look at five other zombie films that brought something new and exciting to the table.

Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately searches for a new home for his infant child and a means to protect her from his own changing nature.

Cargo was directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke from a script written by Ramke. It stars Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius, Kris McQuade, Simone Landers, and David Gulpilil.


Night of the Living Dead (1968)

It may not seem all that original now but George A. Romero’s 1968 classic really was revolutionary upon its release. Prior to this film, zombies were mostly thought of in terms of the Haitian folklore that was seen in movies like White Zombie. In that film, zombies weren’t mindless ghouls intent on devouring the living, they were freshly dead corpses resurrected by a Bokor (a necromancer) who wiped the mind of the zombie and made them their personal slave. Romero changed all that by taking the same concept and removing all possibility of the ghouls being controlled. Rather, they became the shuffling corpses that are now cultural icons.


Train to Busan (2016)

South Korea’s 2016 zombie film received, rightfully so, wild critical acclaim and the love of horror fans across the globe. Wasting no time in getting into the action, Train to Busan felt like a breath of fresh air because it masterfully blended humor, over-the-top action, horror, social commentary, and genuine emotion. Elements of each of these traits have been seen countless times throughout zombie films but the culmination of everything made Yeon Sang-ho’s film one of the best entries in the genre in this decade, possibly this century.


28 Days Later (2002)

Raw, gritty, vicious, and undeniably beautiful, 28 Days Later is a masterpiece of intensity and emotion. The first zombie film in many years to truly make it feel like the world was over, it created a believable story and focused on interesting, nuanced characters. As with Train to Busan and Night of the Living Dead themes of class warfare and social commentary were most certainly present, creating a film that felt fresh and exciting. There’s a reason 28 Days Later was credited with revitalizing the zombie genre and it’s because it brought new, albeit infected, blood into the mix.


Maggie (2015)

Seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a dramatic role bereft of action or comedy should already clue you in that this movie is aiming to do something different but it’s the actual meat (no pun intended) and potatoes of the story that offers a fresh perspective on zombies. Schwarzenegger’s Wade is distraught and desperate after learning that his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is infected with the “Necroambulist virus” and has days left before she changes into a cannibalistic creature. Rather than focus on the terrors of what might be, Maggie opts to focus on what we know will be lost. Maggie will never know what an adult life will be life. She will never know a love that lasts the rest of her life nor will she have the chance to be a parent. Her grief at what she will never experience is matched by Wade’s overwhelming anguish that he cannot protect his daughter or be there for all those moments that could have been.

As King Theoden mournfully stated in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “No parent should have to bury their child.”


The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

What if the zombie was actually the character we, the audience, were pushed to care the most about? Enter Colm McCarthy’s 2016 brilliant film The Girl With All The Gifts and you’ll have that same experience. Never failing to bring scares, the film also isn’t afraid to ask how can we love that which can put us in so much danger as well as cause us so much pain? Sennia Nanua positively shines as Melanie, a young girl infected with a fungal disease that will send her on a mindless, flesh-hungry rampage were it not for a cream that remaining humans can rub on their arms to curb her appetite. As with 28 Days Later, The Girl With All The Gifts doesn’t shy away from commentary on race and class differences. But its true strength lies in its ability to make you feel for the very thing that should strike fear into your heart.


This post was sponsored by Netflix.

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Interview: Author Alex White on ALIEN: THE COLD FORGE

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Titan Books new novel Alien: The Cold Forge finds a group of scientists conducting experiments on the titular beasts on a remote space station, and as you might expect, things don’t go so hot. While the basic setup may sound like familiar ground, author Alex White manages to twist and subvert expectations at nearly every turn, developing a book with some great characters, creepy horror setpieces and intriguing tweaks to the Xenomorph lifecycle.

I recently got to ask Alex some questions on Alien: The Cold Forge, covering how he got the job, alternate story concepts and if there was anything from the movies that was off bounds while he was writing the book.


Dread Central: Hi Alex. First off, could you give a quick overview of your writing career prior to Alien: The Cold Forge?

Alex White: I started out writing screenplays, which was a major part of my independent studies in college. Around 2005, I started seriously writing novels, and I sold my fifth book, Every Mountain Made Low, in 2015. My agent, Connor Goldsmith, parleyed that into the Alien deal for me, as well as my forthcoming three-book space opera, The Salvagers. The first book, A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, arrives June 26th of this year.

DC: How did the concept for The Cold Forge come to you?

AW: My agent called me to let me know that I’d scored a pitch meeting with Titan editor Steve Saffel, and I had to come up with a couple of ideas, fast. I was at Adaptive Path’s UX week when Double Robotics did a presentation using their telepresence robot, and I was fascinated by the idea. What if you had one survivor in an alien outbreak who was cut off, only able to influence the outcome through telepresence? How would the other survivors react? Would they be grateful or upset?

I was also dealing with a lot of Silicon Valley tech bros at the time, and Dorian naturally evolved from the amoral folks that work at a lot of those companies. When we’re chasing profits, it’s important to ask: who gets hurt? Dorian doesn’t have that reflex.

DC: Did you pitch any other ideas for Alien stories to Titan for the book?

AW: I pitched three, but I only really remember two of them. There’s the one that eventually became The Cold Forge, and there was another that took place on a military academy on a planet overrun by aliens. The idea is that you have a bunch of troubled outcast teens who’ve been shipped away from home to get discipline, then an outbreak kills most of the adults. It sounds YA, but I wanted to turn it into full-on Lord of the Flies.

DC: Pretty much every character in The Cold Forge is flawed or corrupt in some way. Was it fun to write a story without any traditional heroes?

AW: Absolutely, because honestly, I think it represents the reality of a survival scenario. Also, can you imagine living with your coworkers for years at a time? I doubt I’d be able to survive that with a clean conscience, myself.

DC: Dorian Sudler has to one of the great all-time assholes in the franchise to date. How did you dream up such an odious character?

AW: I was dealing with a lot of Silicon Valley tech bros at the time, and Dorian naturally evolved from this utter prick of a venture capitalist who shared a cab with me one evening. When you’re dealing with big data in particular, it’s easy to violate privacy, manipulate people and outright disenfranchise folks (Check out Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil). On my product teams, we have a strict rule: “Don’t pitch me anything you don’t want used on you.” With any advancement, you might churn a good profit, but you also might end up ruining someone’s life. That’s why it’s important to ask: who gets hurt? Dorian, like that venture capitalist, doesn’t have that reflex.

DC: The relationship between Blue Marsalis and her android/nurse Marcus is also pretty intriguing, where she uses his body as an avatar to escape her own bed-ridden condition. Where did that idea come from?

AW: While I’ve already talked about Double Robotics, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my friend’s father passed from complications of ALS around that time. Another friend of mine has a terminally-ill daughter, and watching the trials that poor kid has to endure is heartbreaking. I wanted the readers to feel the difficulties that come with a terminal condition, as well as the discrimination. Terminally-ill people are often treated as though they’re already dead. Friends drift away, unable to witness the pain unfolding before them.

Blue deals with all of that, especially the fact that her life is considered worthless by the others. If they’d managed to get to an escape pod, do you think Blue’s crewmates would’ve rescued her? If she’d died out there, who would’ve spoken a kind word?

DC: The Cold Forge reveals Facehuggers don’t actually implant an embryo but inject a black goo-like substance instead that rewrites DNA. Did you receive any pushback about making this change to their life cycle?

AW: Nope! It’s 100% in keeping with Alien: Covenant and you never actually see a larval injection onscreen. In fact, 20th Century Fox requested ZERO changes to the manuscript and sent a page full of compliments, which is probably a first!

DC: The book feels somewhat inspired by video game Alien: Isolation, including how the Xenos are depicted and certain passages like Sudler hiding in a weapons locker. Have you played the game?

AW: Oh, I absolutely did. My god, that game was a masterpiece. The thing that really stuck with me was the audible weight of the creatures. I’d never felt them so substantially in the movies.

DC: Are you a fan of any of the other Alien Expanded Universe stories, be it games, comics or novels?

AW: Oh yeah. In the 90s, I had every Dark Horse book and comic. I played all of the games, especially AvP and AvP 2 (and that badass Capcom beat-em-up that took all my quarters). Strangely enough, the creator of the AvP games was Rebellion, and their publishing arm is the company that bought my debut!

DC: Were there any story ideas that were off-limits while writing the book, e.g. mentioning certain characters or events from past movies?

AW: When I started writing, Covenant hadn’t come out yet, and Prometheus was considered a separate license, so I couldn’t use the black goo. About a month into my contract, Covenant came out and boom! I get to use everything I want.

DC: How have you found the fan response to the book so far?

AW: Incredible! They love it, and they’re so happy to tell me that. I’m really blown away by the kindness and excitement from this fandom. There are a lot of really great folks out there, especially the ones from AvPGalaxy.net.

DC: Would you pay another visit to the Alien universe if the opportunity presented itself?

AW: You bet! I’ve always got a few more ideas in me. I’m also planning to do a commentary on my thought process while writing the book, which you can find in my newsletter.

If you fancy picking up a copy of the book for yourself, click this here link! If you like Alex’s work and you want to keep up to date with his next book, he can also be found on Twitter @alexrwhite

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