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Fantastic Fest 2010: 2nd Wave of Programming Announced; New Images from Several Entries!

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The second wave of programming for the sixth edition of Fantastic Fest, happening September 23rd-30th in Austin, Texas, has been announced; and if you were on the fence about attending, well, you just may want to start booking your flight immediately!

Sixteen films are listed in the latest press release for the Fest, and we’re including them all here, even if a few aren’t strictly horror, just to give you an idea of how truly diverse Fantastic Fest is. For the other films screening that week, click here for all our Fantastic Fest 2010 coverage.

Fantastic Fest welcomes a bayou-dwelling psycho-killer, a disturbed housemaid, Muay Thai bone-crushers, blood-sucking vampires, undocumented immigrants, cannibal families, and more to its genre-bending lineup of mind-blowing films for 2010. The lineup includes a Gala Screening for Stone on Friday, September 24, at The Paramount Theatre with Edward Norton, director John Curran, and more in attendance.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

GALA SCREENING:

Stone (2010)
US Premiere, USA, director: John Curran
[Director John Curran and Edward Norton live in attendance]
A seasoned corrections official and a volatile inmate find their lives dangerously intertwined in STONE, a thought-provoking drama directed by John Curran and written by Angus MacLachlan. STONE features powerful performances by Academy Award® winner Robert De Niro and Oscar® nominee Edward Norton, and a startlingly raw, breakout performance from Milla Jovovich as the sexy, casually amoral woman they both desire.

As parole officer Jack Mabry (De Niro) counts the days toward a quiet retirement, he is asked to review the case of Gerald “Stone” Creeson (Norton), in prison for covering up the murder of his grandparents with a fire. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to influence the older man’s decision have profound and unexpected consequences for them both. STONE skillfully weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. Golden Globe® winner Frances Conroy completes the superb ensemble as Madylyn, Jack’s devout, long-suffering spouse. Set against the quiet desperation of economically ravaged suburban Detroit and the stifling brutality of a maximum security prison, this tale of passion, betrayal and corruption examines the fractured lives of two volatile men breaking from their troubled pasts to face uncertain futures.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

FEATURED SCREENINGS:

30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)
World Premiere, USA, director: Ben Ketai
[Director Ben Ketai, Kiele Sanchez & Steve Niles (co-writer, author) in attendance (schedules permitting)]
It’s been almost a year since the Alaskan town of Barrow’s population was decimated by vampires during its annual month-long sunset. Riddled with grief over the death of her husband, bound by nightmares and void of all emotions beyond hate and sorrow, Stella (Sanchez) has spent the past months traveling the world, trying to convince others that vampires exist. Met with skepticism and laughter, Stella is ready to throw in the towel when a group of lost souls (Coiro, Baird and Perrineau) offers an incredible opportunity: the chance to exact revenge upon Lilith (Kirshner), the vampire queen responsible for the assault on Stella’s sleepy Alaskan town. With nothing remaining to live for, and nothing left to fear, Stella joins their mission and ventures into the uncharted underbelly of Los Angeles where she pushes herself to the most extreme limits to stop the evil from striking again.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Carancho (2010)
Regional Premiere, Argentina, director: Pablo Trapero
Ambulance drivers and ambulance chasers, dirty police and corrupt doctors, fraudulent insurance brokers and some truly desperate people are the players in a wildly original and occasionally brutal thriller set on the streets of Buenos Aires.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Drones (2010)
Regional Premiere, USA, directors: Amber Bensen and Adam Busch
[Directors Amber Bensen and Adam Busch as well as stars Angela Bettis and Kevin Ford will be in attendance]
When Brian discovers an improbable secret about his best friend and OmniLink coworker, everything in his world changes and his safe life of workplace detachment is no longer an option. Close encounters of the office kind, like sales or intergalactic war, is an uncertain business.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Fire of Conscience (2010)
US Premiere, Hong Kong, director: Dante Lam
A slick cops-and-robbers film that coats melodrama with a thick layer of blood and gunpowder. Dante Lam has emerged as one of the most exciting Hong Kong action directors with films like THE BEAST STALKER (2008) and SNIPER (2009). His latest work delivers the goods with chases, fisticuffs, massive fire fights; exploding bodies and more.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Hatchet II (2010)
North American Premiere, USA, director: Adam Green
[Director Adam Green, Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris live in person]
Witness the resurrection of bayou-dwelling psycho-killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), who terrorized a party of witless New Orleans tourists in Adam Green’s 2006 cult hit HATCHET. After emerging as the sole survivor of Crowley’s comically over-the-top murder spree, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) learns the secrets of the madman’s origins and returns to the Louisiana swamps to avenge her family’s death. Also featuring genre fan fave Tony Todd as Reverend Zombie and FRIGHT NIGHT director Tom Holland as Bob.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

The Housemaid (1960)
South Korea, director: Kim Ki-young
Celebrated as one of the greatest Korean films of all time, THE HOUSEMAID tells the story of a composer who invites chaos into his home when he begins an affair with the family’s mysterious new maid, a disturbed woman with a penchant for catching rats with her bare hands. The print featured at this year’s Fantastic Fest has been restored by the Korean Film Archive with the support of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of films from non-Western countries.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

The Housemaid (2010)
Regional Premiere, Korea, director: Im Sang-soo
A reimagining of the Korean classic of the same name, the 2010 version of THE HOUSEMAID turns the tables on the story. This time around a perfectly normal servant enters the home of a truly dysfunctional wealthy family who beat her down with an array of psychological, sexual and sometimes physical trauma. With strong performances, lush design and an exceptional story, this update serves as a worthy companion to the original classic and makes for a truly unique double bill.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Austin Premiere, USA, director: Steven R. Monroe
A remake of the controversial 1978 cult classic of the same title, Steven Monroe’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a shock-fest that revisits the story of a young writer’s horrifying sexual assault at the hands of a backwoods gas-station attendant and his knuckle-dragging cronies while on sabbatical in the countryside. After being brutally attacked and left for dead, she returns for vengeance. Trapping her male attackers one-by-one, she inflicts acts of physical torment upon them with a ferocity that surpasses her own ordeal. When the carnage clears, victim has become victor.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Kidnapped (2010)
North American Premiere, Spain, director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Jaime (Fernando Cayo) and Marta (Ana Wagener) are a middle-aged couple with a teenage daughter named Isa (Manuela Vellés). The family is in the process of moving into a big new house. Marta wants to gather the family for dinner at home to celebrate. Isa has her own plans; she wants to go out with her boyfriend. Jaime is stuck in the middle of it all. Everyone’s evening is ruined when a gang of masked hoodlums pay a visit to the home.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Legend of the Fist (2010)
US Premiere, Hong Kong, director: Andrew Lau
Life in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the 1920s was no picnic. Military warlords and criminal henchmen ruled the streets. The city’s one ray of hope was the young martial artist Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen), whose legendary showdown against a dojo full of Japanese warriors ended with his apparent death, though his body is never found. Seven years later, a wealthy entrepreneur called Koo returns from abroad and makes a grand entrance on the Shanghai social scene by befriending the city’s most notorious mafia boss. Could this be the return of Chen Zhen?

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Ong Bak 3 (2010)
North American Premiere, Thailand, director: Tony Jaa
The legend of ONG BAK 3 begins after Tien (Tony Jaa) has lost his fighting skills and his beloved step-father from the raid led by Jom Rachan (Saranyu Wonggrajang). Tien is brought back to life with the help from the Kana Khone villagers. Deep into the meditation taught by Phra Bua (Nirutti Sirijanya), Tien finally is able to achieve ‘Nathayut’. His talents are put to the test again when his rivals including the Golden-Armored King’s Guard (Supakorn ‘Tok’ Kijusuwan), the mysterious killers in black, and Bhuti Sangkha (Dan Chupong) return for the final massive showdown.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Redline (2010)
North American Premiere, Japan, director: Takeshi Koike
Rev your engines, adrenaline junkies! REDLINE is a new feature from famed Madhouse Studios that reunites animator Takeshi Koike (NINJA SCROLL, ANIMATRIX) with his long-time collaborator Katushito Ishii, the genius behind FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT. This meeting of warped minds results in a mind-melting psychedelic assault that is easily the wildest animated Japanese film to surface in years.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Stake Land (2010)
US Premiere, USA, director: Jim Mickle
[Director Jim Mickle, Connor Paolo, Nick Damici and Danielle Harris live in person]
Following a political-economic meltdown of unexplained origins, the world has been overrun by humanoid creatures who feed off human blood. A disparate group of survivors band together to weave their way through the communities of both vampires and equally dangerous religious cultists in search of an alleged sanctuary in the north. The cast includes Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris and Michael Cerveris.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Undocumented (2010)
World Premiere, USA, director: Chris Peckover
[Director Chris Peckover and cast members live in person]
A small group of documentary filmmakers chronicle the trials and inequities faced by Mexican illegal immigrants. When they join a group of families illegally crossing the border to record the experience firsthand, their truck is pulled over and detained. What happens next plunges their group into unimaginable horror.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay) (2010)
US Premiere, Mexico, director: Jorge Michel Grau
When the patriarch of the family passes away, the teenage children must take responsibility for the family chores: the preparation of the rituals, the hunting and putting the all-important meat on the table. These newfound responsibilities are even more daunting, however, when you live in the city and happen to be a family of cannibals.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Second Wave of Film Programming Announced!

Fantastic Fest is the film festival with the boring parts cut out. Miss this one, and your regrets will agonize you for years to come. You have been warned.

For more info visit the official 2010 Fantastic Fest website.

Uncle Creepy

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AHS: Cult Review: Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – First Trailer and Artwork!

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As a fan of flicks like Mad Monster Party, I was surprisingly pleased with the last two Hotel Transylvania affairs. For my money you can put the classic monsters in just about anything, and I’ll watch it happily, and these animated features feel like a natural progression of the 1967 Rankin and Bass classic. Which is why I’m looking forward to Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and if you are too, check out the film’s new trailer and poster.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who co-wrote the film with Michael McCullers, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, and Mel Brooks.

Look for it in theaters on July 13, 2018.

Synopsis:
In Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans.

But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

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