Indie Horror Month - 25 Milestones in Independent Horror Filmmaking: Part 3 - Dread Central
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Indie Horror Month – 25 Milestones in Independent Horror Filmmaking: Part 3



Welcome back, fiends! Over the last two days we’ve looked at the first 10 milestones in independent horror filmmaking, starting in 1921 and ending up in 1977 with David Lynch’s Eraserhead .
Today we begin in the year 1978 and take you through the next five milestones of indie horror up until the year 1981.

1978- Joe Dante Directs Piranha:
Before he was terrifying this writer as a small child with his gritty werewolf tale The Howling (the animated werewolf sex scene remains to this day an all-time favorite of mine) or capturing the imaginations of children and adults alike with Gremlins, director Joe Dante started off working for the iconic B-Movie master Roger Corman.

Indie Horror Month - 25 Milestones in Independent Horror Filmmaking: Part 3

Dante paid his dues in the industry by coming up under the tutelage of Corman for several years, working as an editor on several projects as well as co-directing Hollywood Boulevard . It was in 1978 that Dante would get his big break. Corman, seeing how Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was storming theaters countrywide, set off to produce his own spin on the killer fish subgenre in horror with Piranha , a comedy horror film about a swarm of killer piranhas that pack more than the average bite. Corman knew Dante had the ability to capture that unique blend of comedy and horror that has become a trademark in the director’s filmmaking style.

Since its release in 1978, Piranha’s legacy has continued on, including one sequel as well as two remakes (with one remake sequel coming later this year), and acted as the catalyst for not only Dante’s career (whose other genre contributions include Twilight Zone: The Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon, and The Burbs ) but for critically-acclaimed writer John Sayles as well, who used the money he earned writing Piranha (as well as other horror classics including Dante’s The Howling) to fund his award-winning future projects.

Piranha also remains one of the most successful releases out of the independently run New World Pictures (which was owned by Corman until 1983), further cementing its place in horror history.

1978- John Carpenter Gives Us a New Face of Evil with Halloween :
It’s hard to imagine audiences had any idea what they were in for when they first experienced John Carpenter’s classic slasher flick Halloween that fateful autumn in 1978 when it opened in the Midwest. But it’s safe to say that the audiences and the horror genre all felt the power and horror from what many deem the first modern slasher film.

The Halloween story begins with a screening of Carpenter’s cult classic Assault on Precinct 13 at the Milan Film Festival, where the director met Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad, who were anxious to work with the up-and-coming Carpenter on a low-budget horror movie. Originally titled The Babysitter Murders, Yablans suggested moving this chilling tale of babysitters being slain to the holiday Halloween, and from there Carpenter began working on the script with co-producer Debra Hill.

Halloween was shot for $320,000 funded solely by Akkad, and Carpenter and his cast and crew were all pushed to the brink during their vigorous 21-day shoot during the springtime in order to deliver the film on time for the upcoming October release. But their tireless efforts to deliver a quintessential spine-tingler paid off – during Halloween’s initial theatrical run, it earned $47 million in the U.S. alone, making it the most profitable American independent film of its time.

Halloween ended up being a huge milestone, not only creating one of the biggest franchises in our genre but also serving as an inspiration for the modern slasher films for decades of filmmakers who followed. It also launched Master of Horror Carpenter into a new stratosphere in the industry, giving him the clout to go on to create such masterpieces like The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, Christine and In the Mouth of Madness and created one of the biggest icons of our beloved genre: serial killer Michael Myers.

1979- Aussie Filmmakers Take a Bold Leap with Mad Max:
Until 1979 Australian filmmakers weren’t all that widely known around the world, but that all changed when a couple of industry newcomers took a chance in making their gritty dystopic vision of the future, Mad Max.

Before he helmed Mad Max, director George Miller was a medical professional working in Australia, but the everyday drama of the emergency room couldn’t keep his full attention so Miller set his sights on becoming a filmmaker. While at a summer film school in 1971, Miller met Byron Kennedy, and an instant bond was forged. Before they took on the pressures of making a feature film, they produced the award-winning short film “Violence in Cinema, Part 1” but struggled for several years until getting Mad Max off the ground. It was in 1973 that Kennedy-Miller Films was born and the duo set off to make an action film unlike anything Australian audiences had ever seen the likes of before.

The pair met up with first-time screenwriter James McCausland, and in late 1978 production began on Mad Max for an estimated $400,000 (AUS) raised independently by Kennedy-Miller Films. The movie shot for twelve weeks around Melbourne, and since there were budget constraints to deal with, the only actor that wore real leather in the film was lead Mel Gibson (who was still an unknown talent here in the US). Many of the cars had to be repainted and reused for multiple set-ups, and often the paint on the cars would still be wet as the film was rolling. Corners even had to be cut during post-production: Kennedy and Miller did all the editing and sound on a homemade editing machine created by Kennedy’s father, who was an engineer.

Mad Max was an instantaneous hit in Australia, and once it was released worldwide, it put not only the continent on the proverbial map but newcomer director Miller (who would later win an Academy Award for Happy Feet) as well. The film went on to gross $100 million globally, spawned two sequels, and has influenced filmmakers for generations since its debut.

1980- Friday the 13th Becomes a New Date to Fear:
Until 1980 Sean S. Cunningham was only known in the horror genre for his producing skills. Credited with being the visionary who stood behind an unknown Wes Craven’s disturbing tale of revenge, The Last House on the Left, Cunningham was finally ready to get into the director’s chair after being inspired to do so after seeing John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978.

Cunningham hired writer Victor Miller to pen the script (the duo had just collaborated on the drama Manny’s Orphans), and Miller decided to turn the slasher genre on its head a bit: He made the killer not only a woman, but also a mother, which is something that hadn’t been done in this new modern era of horror.

Cunningham made Friday the 13th for $550,000, and in an unprecedented deal (at the time), Paramount Pictures nabbed up the project for $1.5 million after one screening, making the major studio one of the first of its time to distribute an independently produced horror film.

There isn’t much left to say about Friday the 13th and Cunningham’s influence on modern horror that hasn’t been said a million times over, but perhaps if Cunningham wouldn’t have felt inspired to create his own horrific tale about a group of doomed camp counselors and a deranged mother hellbent on revenge, then we may have never been introduced to one of the biggest icons in pop culture ever: Jason Voorhees. And as fans we would never have enjoyed the countless movies for years to come that clearly took their cues from Cunningham’s work on Friday the 13th.

1981- The Evil Dead Raises the Bar for B-Movies:
The Evil Dead story really begins back in 1978. A then up-and-coming director named Sam Raimi partnered with his childhood friend, then-unknown actor Bruce Campbell (as well as future Scream Queen Ellen Sandweiss), to create the short film “Within the Woods” as a calling card to help raise funds for their next project – The Evil Dead. Their plan for “Within the Woods” proved successful as Raimi was able to pull together $375,000 from investors based on his work on the short and set off to make The Evil Dead with Campbell, Sandwiess and a whole slew of others on board.

In order to work within his budgetary constraints, Raimi proved his knack for perseverance and shot The Evil Dead over the course of 1-1/2 years, even using stand-ins (or “Fake Shemps”) when necessary. Once the film was finished, Raimi tried shopping his over-the-top gore-fest around Hollywood but was initially turned down by almost every single distributor in the US at the time due to The Evil Dead’s graphic violence and terror.

But then he showed the movie at the Cannes Film Festival marketplace, where it was picked up by the European distributor who handled The Evil Dead’s initial limited theatrical run when it premiered in October 1981. Eventually New Line Cinema stepped in and gave the film a wide release in 1983 after realizing its cult classic potential, and since then The Evil Dead has grossed $29.4 million in theaters. That’s not taking into consideration the money brought in by the various DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the film that have been released since 1999.

Despite the initial negative reviews, The Evil Dead has gone on to be somewhat of a critical darling these days, being heralded as one of the premiere B-movies ever made. Since making The Evil Dead, Raimi has gone on to become a genre hero with films including Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Darkman and Drag Me to Hell as well as becoming one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood after his success with helming the original Spider-Man trilogy (which has accumulated over $2.6 billion in box office receipts worldwide).

We’ll see you fiends Thursday for our next five milestones!

Heather Wixson

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New Insidious: The Last Key Trailer Speaks Softly But Carries a Big Whistle



The last word we brought you guys on the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise was when we let you know the new film had snagged a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for “disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language”.

Today we have a new trailer/TV spot for Insidious: The Last Key, and if you aren’t already on board for a fourth round of spooky shite courtesy of screenwriter Leigh Whannel, maybe this quick trailer will do the trick.

You can check out the new trailer below; then let us know how excited you are for Insidious: The Last Key!

I’m digging what I’ve seen from the new film thus far, and this new trailer only strengthens that. Plus I’m excited to see what director Adam Robitel can do with this series after his fucking terrifying previous film The Taking of Deborah Logan.

The film is directed by Adam Robitel from a script by Leigh Whannell and stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Kirk Acevedo, Javier Botet, Bruce Davison, Spencer Locke, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker, and Marcus Henderson.

Insidious: The Last Key hits theaters January 5, 2018.


Parapsychologist Elise Rainier and her team travel to Five Keys, N.M., to investigate a man’s claim of a haunting. Terror soon strikes when Rainier realizes that the house he lives in was her family’s old home.

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Luke Genton’s The Bone Box Trailer Proves Not All Graves Are Quiet



Sometimes a fright flick comes along that sells me on the logline itself. And writer-director Luke Genton’s upcoming supernatural horror movie The Bone Box has just such a premise.

The film follows the story of a grave robber who comes to believe he’s being haunted by those he stole from. And if that premise doesn’t sell you on at least checking out the film’s trailer, I don’t know what to do for you.

Speaking of the trailer, you can check it out below. Then let us know what you think below!

The film stars Gareth Koorzen (The Black That Follows), Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation), and Maria Olsen (Starry Eyes), Jamie Bernadette (I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu), David Chokachi (Baywatch), Aaron Schwartz (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and Tess Bellomo (Liked).

Look for updates on Facebook HERE and the Director’s Instagram: @lukegenton.

The Bone Box is currently in post-production. It is scheduled to be completed by November 2017 and is seeking distribution.


Depressed and reeling from the recent death of his wife, Tom (Koorzen) has built up quite a gambling debt. He goes to stay with his wealthy Aunt Florence (Olsen) in hopes that she will write him into her will. When a nasty creditor makes it clear that Tom is out of time, he devises a plan with Elodie (Krusiec), the undertaker’s daughter, to rob the graves of the rich townspeople buried in the cemetery across the road. After plundering the graves, Tom begins hearing and seeing strange things that seem to coincide with the deaths of the people he robbed. Even more disconcerting… he appears to be the only one sensing the occurrences. One question lingers: Is Tom’s conscience playing a trick on him… or is he really being haunted by those he stole from?

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Last Meeple Standing

H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game, Overview and Review – Last Meeple Standing



Yeah, I know. I’ve said it before, and I will scream it to the heavens again: There is an abysmal glut of Lovecraft Mythos games out there (and still streaming into the market). For a while there, it was vampire games (wanna take a sparkly guess why?). Then, it was zombie games (only Robert Kirkman knows why). Now it is Lovecraft games, and it is a LOT of them. Shambling, fish-headed masses of them, weighing down the game shop shelves like heavily laden buckets of freshly shorn tentacles (calm down, hentai fans). It’s true, and a lot of them seem to be sad doppelgangers of other games, just skinned with a rotting coat of Elder God goo.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hahn

For that reason, it is nice to run across a Lovecraft-themed game that is GOOD. H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game is one of those… it’s good, but it’s not great (for ONE painful reason). But, for our nefarious purposes today, that’s good enough. The stars are PARTIALLY in alignment. There is one little detail to get out of the way before we wade into the spawn-infested miasma of this game: it is the hellish offspring of an earlier, more complex game called (you guessed it) H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival the board game. Much has been said about the relationship between these two games and many comparisons have been made, but since I neither own the board game nor have I played it, let’s leave it to fester in cold, barren space all by its lonesome for now. I’m sure its time will come…when the stars are right (rolling his eyes).

It is RARE (like fresh Deep One filets) that the components of a game are as nice as the gameplay, but there are two elements of Kingsport Festival: TCG that really make it shine. The first is the titular cards that make up the bulk of the game. The artwork on the tarot-sized cards depicting the various gods, lesser gods, demons, and evil corgis (I kid) from the Mythos is dark and shows off the creatures to good/evil effect. I have to admit that these are some of my favorite depictions of the creatures from Lovecraft’s mind I’ve seen. They really look threatening here. The portraits on the cards presenting the investigators/evil cultists look dignified, a little creepy, and mysterious, as is only right for nogoodniks taking on Cthulhu’s worst. The graphic design is really classy with easily interpreted iconography and border artwork. Equal care has been taken with the backs of the cards, which have appropriately aged and Victorian elements. The only parts to this game are the cards and the dice. Wait, this is a card game, right?

Well, yes and no.

Although cards make up the lion’s share of the game, there is a heavy dice aspect as well, and these are some NICE dice. I’m a SUCKER for custom dice, and Kingsport Festival: TCG comes loaded with them. There are three types of dice: a white d10 with a clock icon on one face, brain-pink (a nice touch) d12 dice representing the player’s sanity with a Sanity icon on one face, and grey Domain d6 dice with three types of domain faces: purple Evil, black Death, and red Destruction. All of the dice are high-quality and engraved, not printed, with easily recognizable faces for ease of play and match up nicely with the icons on the game’s cards. Squee! Wonderfully evil custom dice!

Set up is pretty basic. All of the cards depicting the horrid gods are displayed in order of their power in six rows within reach of all of the players. The total number of copies of each type of god card is dictated by how many people are playing, so the number varies. Each player gets one of the brain-ilicious d12s with which to track their sanity and sets it to 10. All players white timer die, with the high roller taking the role of the starting player. Then each player sets their Sanity die to 10 (yes, the value can be increased up to 12 through game effects. That player takes the white d10 and sets it to the clock face. Players can pick an investigator card, but I suggest dealing them out at random to each player to liven things up (before they get driven insane, of course).

Gameplay is equally simple, yet strangely engaging. The first player takes the white timer d10, passes it to the next player to their left, who turns it to the number 1, effectively creating a timer that will count up from 1 to 10, ending the game. That player becomes the starting player. Once the white die is passed, the passing player increases their Sanity by one, as will be the mechanic throughout the rest of the game.

At the start of a game, the players will have no cards in their hands. They acquire them throughout the game, but we’ll talk about a general turn. The starting player rolls one of the domain dice and notes the resultant face. If they have cards to play, now is when they would play them. The card effects are varied. They might instruct the player to roll more dice, add specified domains to their pool of domains, change rolled die faces, etc. There are many possibilities. After the player has played all the cards they wish to and resolved the card effects, the player may spend the resources/domains gained through the dice they’ve rolled and the cards they have played to buy ONE god from the displayed cards and add it to their hand. It should be noted that players are limited to one and only one copy of each available god.

Once the player has completed their turn, they check to see if the round indicator on the white d10 matches one of the Raid rounds shown on the investigator card at the very bottom. If the numbers match, the player must compare the Gun icons on his cards to the strength of the raid indicated on his character card. If the Cultist’s strength is greater, he gains the difference in Sanity points. If the Cultist’s strength matches the Raid strength, they neither gain nor lose Sanity. If the Cultist’s strength is less than the Raid strength, they lose the difference in Sanity points. After this, the next player to the left will take their turn.

The game ends at the end of the ninth round, unless a Cultist is able to invoke the Elder God Azathoth, which results in dogs and cats sleeping together (no, not really). The cultists look at all of their god cards and add up the Elder God symbols at the bottom of each card. The Cultist with the most Elder God symbols/points at the end of the game WINS!

So, there you have it: an epic battle between creepy Cultists and ghoulish Gods in one rather small box. I’ll get to the point. I really like H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game. I happen to be fond of little filler games like this. The box lists the playtime for this game as 30 min, but once the players know the rules, you can cut playtime down to 20 min, easy. It lists the age limit at 13+, which I think is absurd. There is nothing in the theme or artwork that would preclude players 10 and up from playing, other than rule complexity. Between the awesome art, the devilish dice, and the rad rules (ugh…), there is not much to dislike about this game… other than the hellish rules. You may be asking what I mean. The rules seem easy. They ARE. It’s the rulebook that is a pain in the neck. For some reason, the graphic designer (I’m looking at you, Savini -no, not Tom-) decided to print all of the rule examples in the book in a nearly unreadable “old-timey” font that is TINY. I think they thought they were adding flavor. If so, that flavor is YUCKY. When learning a new game, you want crystal-clear rules, not something you have to squint and struggle over, like this sad, arcane tome. The same hellish font appears on the cards in places, as well, making me one unhappy game collector. You may look past it, but I had a hard time doing so. Other than that, though, the game is great fun, a nice way to fill in time between bigger games, and beautiful to look at. You make your own judgement.

Designer: Gianluca Santopietro
Artist: Maichol Quinto and Demis Savini
Publisher: Passport Games/ Giochi Uniti
Published: 2016
Players/Playtime/Age Rating: 3 -5 players/30 min/13+ (seriously?)


Last Meeple Standing is brought to you by Villainous Lair Comics & Games, the ultimate destination for board game fanatics in Southern California. For more information visit the official Villainous Lair Comics & Games website, “Like” the Villainous Lair Facebook page and be sure to follow Villainous Lair on Twitter and Instagram.

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