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In or Around New York City? Then You Can Experience The Return of William Castle!

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If someone were to ask us to name our top ten directors of all time, the name William Castle would sit firmly somewhere within the top five. The man was not only a true showman but also an absolute genius. If we have one regret in our tenure here at Dread Central, it is that we weren’t around during Castle’s heyday of insane gimmicks. The man was without question the godfather of viral marketing, and it’s taken the rest of the industry decades to catch up. If you live somewhere within the Tri-State Region, we have the info on an event that you do NOT want to miss!

From the Press Release
THE RETURN OF WILLIAM CASTLE, a 15-film festival of horror and exploitation classics by the director and master showman, complete with their original gimmicks (Emergo!, Percepto!, Illusion-O!, and others – including one created exclusively for Film Forum), will run at Film Forum from August 27-September 6 (two weeks). This is the return of Castle’s gimmick movies to Film Forum – after a 15-year hiatus.

Castle (1914-1977) made over forty B-movies before hitting on a formula for box office success: low-budget chillers geared to the burgeoning Youth-sploitation market, including such effective Hitchcock imitations as Macabre, Strait-Jacket (the latter scripted by Psycho’s Robert Bloch), and Homicidal – which TIME magazine liked better than Psycho. Castle often appeared himself as a master of ceremonies à la Hitchcock, whose success and persona he strenuously attempted to emulate. A master of ballyhoo, Castle shamelessly promoted his pictures with cheesy but highly effective gimmicks, which will be lovingly re-created for the festival.

In or Around New York City? Then You Can Experience The Return of William Castle!

THE RETURN OF WILLIAM CASTLE opens on August 27 and 28 (Friday/Saturday) with a double-feature of HOMICIDAL, Castle’s quick cash-in on Psycho (the one TIME magazine preferred to the original). Will you hold out after the Fright Break? Terrified audience members are given one minute to leave before the conclusion but must sit in the lobby’s Coward’s Corner! It will be shown on a double-bill with STRAIT-JACKET, scripted by Psycho author Robert Bloch: Joan Crawford, returning from a 20-year asylum stint after hacking up her husband, is the obvious suspect when heads start rolling anew. Warning: STRAIT-JACKET vividly depicts axe murders!

Vincent Price, the Castle star par excellence, stars in HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (Sunday, August 29): There’s a ghost for everyone when eccentric millionaire Price rounds up a motley crew of strangers for a little house party. Haunted Hill’s black humor and goose-fleshy atmosphere will be further enhanced by the miracle of Emergo! – a process “more startling than 3-D!” MR. SARDONICUS, screening with Haunted Hill on Sunday, features Castle’s famed “Punishment Poll.” The face of sadistic Baron Sardonicus gets stuck in a terrified grin, concealed behind an expressionless mask as he takes it out on the rest of the cast. Should he come to a horrible end? His fate is decided when the audience is given special glow-in-the-dark ballots to vote on the outcome of this most heinous fiend.

Screening as a triple-feature on Monday, August 30, are three of Castle’s B-movies based on the popular radio mystery series “The Whistler”: THE WHISTLER, with guilt-ridden Richard Dix hiring by-the-book hit man J. Carrol Nash to kill him through a middle man (The method? Death by fright!); MARK OF THE WHISTLER, with bum Dix deciding to cash in on a long-dormant bank account coincidentally in his name; and MYSTERIOUS INTRUDER, with crooked private eye Dix hired to find the benefactor of a mysterious bequest.

Other Castle gimmick movies to be screened during the festival include MACABRE screening on Wednesday, September 1: Doctor William Prince races against time to find his buried-alive-by-a-madman daughter. Due to the horrifying nature of this picture, each patron will receive a $1,000,000 policy insuring against Death by Fright (certain restrictions apply); showing with 13 GHOSTS, presented in Illusion-O!: Vengeful spirits (visible only with specially-provided “Ghost Viewers”) plague a creepy old mansion’s new middle class residents.

Screening on Thursday, September 2, is THE NIGHT WALKER, starring screen legend Barbara Stanwyck (in her final film) as a wealthy widow haunted in recurring dreams by her decidedly dead blown-up husband, co-starring Stanwyck’s real-life ex, Robert Taylor; and LET’S KILL UNCLE, the exact suggestion of Mary Badham (Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird) to teenaged pal – and heir to $5 mil – Pat Cardi, when his uncle/guardian cheerfully admits murder’s his own plan.

The rare Castle film noir WHEN STRANGERS MARRY will also have a single screening (at 6:30 only) on September 2: Kim Hunter weds glove salesman Dean Jagger after their first date, then hears there’s a gloved strangler on the loose – but old flame Robert Mitchum is there to help. Shot in 7 days for $50,000, Strangers was hailed by Orson Welles as “better acted than Double Indemnity and Laura.”

Two Castle 3D movies will be projected in their original double-system format: JESSE JAMES VS. THE DALTONS (September 3 & 4, Friday/Saturday, at 6:30 only): Brett King believes he’s the son of the notorious bandit and hooks up with the Daltons to try and learn the truth, but 3D’d sexpot Barbara Lawrence is raison d’être enough for this Castle oater; and the French & Indian War “Eastern” FORT TI (September 5 & 6, Sunday/Monday at 6:30 only), with colonial George Montgomery teaming up with Redcoats as they go toe-to-toe against the Frenchies at Fort Ticonderoga.

The most famous Castle film of all – and a Film Forum tradition – is THE TINGLER, with its spine-tingling PERCEPTO!, the ultimate in audience participation, to be shown over Labor Day weekend (September 3-6, Friday-Monday). “Get ready to scream – scream for your lives!” when Vincent Price’s fear experiments unleash that centipede-like thing right onto the spinal cords of our terrified audience. Featuring the original blood-splattered color sequence and the screen’s very first acid trip, experienced by the audience via Goldstein’s own innovation, PSYCHEDELORAMA!

Accompanying all shows of The Tingler will be Psycho: The Trailer, the legendary six-minute preview, with Alfred Hitchcock himself squeamishly taking us on a tour of the Bates House. (Psycho, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, will have a one-week run at Film Forum during Halloween Week, October 29-November 4).

Public Screening Schedule

  • AUGUST 26/27 Fri/Sat (2 Films for 1 Admission)
    HOMICIDAL (1961) WITH FRIGHT BREAK & COWARD’S CORNER!
    1:00, 4:35, 8:10
    STRAIT-JACKET (1964) Joan Crawford
    2:45. 6:20, 10:00

  • AUGUST 29 Sun (2 Films for 1 Admission)
    HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) IN BONE-CHILLING EMERGO!
    Vincent Price
    2:45, 6:05, 9:25
    MR. SARDONICUS (1961) WITH PUNISHMENT POLL!
    1:00, 4:20, 7:40

  • AUGUST 30 Mon (3 Films for 1 Admission)
    THE WHISTLER (1944) New 35mm Print!
    Richard Dix, J. Carrol Naish
    1:00, 4:45, 8:30
    MARK OF THE WHISTLER (1944) New 35mm Print!
    Richard Dix
    2:15, 6:00, 9:45
    MYSTERIOUS INTRUDER (1946) New 35mm Print!
    Richard Dix
    3:30, 7:15

  • SEPTEMBER 1 Wed (2 Films for 1 Admission)
    MACABRE (1958) WITH $1,000,000 INSURANCE POLICY!
    William Prince
    2:50, 6:10, 9:10
    13 GHOSTS (1960) IN BLOOD-CURDLING ILLUSION-O!
    Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp, Margaret Hamilton
    1:00, 4:20, 7:40

  • SEPTEMBER 2 Thu (2 Films for 1 Admission)
    THE NIGHT WALKER (1964) Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor
    2:50, 8:20
    LET’S KILL UNCLE (1962) Mary Badham, Pat Cardi
    1:00, 4:30*, 10:00
    *4:30 show is a single feature only

  • SEPTEMBER 2 Thu (Separate Admission)
    WHEN STRANGERS MARRY (1944) Kim Hunter, Dean Jagger, Robert Mitchum
    6:35 ONLY

  • SEPTEMBER 3/4/5/6 Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon
    THE TINGLER (1959) IN PERCEPTO! & PSYCHEDELORAMA!
    Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, Judith Evelyn
    Plus Psycho–The Trailer
    1:00, 2:50, 4:40, 8:15, 10:05

  • SEPTEMBER 3/4 Fri/Sat (Separate Admission)
    JESSE JAMES VS. THE DALTONS (1954) Brett King, Barbara Lawrence
    6:30 ONLY

  • SEPTEMBER 5/6 Sun/Mon (Separate Admission)
    FORT TI (1953) George Montgomery
    6:30 ONLY

    In or Around New York City? Then You Can Experience The Return of William Castle!

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    Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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    Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

    Directed by Robert Mockler


    While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

    If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

    While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

    A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

    I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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    Last Toys on the Left

    Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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    It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

    From the Funko Blog:
    Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

    This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

    We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

    Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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