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Horror Sequels that Splattered Comic Pages

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For certain horror franchises one movie can easily turn into twelve, giving us characters that just won’t stay dead. As horror fans we often revel in this and no matter how much we bitch, we still want the blood flowing, hatchets flung and machetes decapitating. While we have what feels like thirty-seven Saw movies, there are a ton of cult classic movies that never get a sequel or get churned for a profit straight to home video sequels that have nothing to do with the original other than the title.

Budgetary problems, not mainstream enough, actors dying, there are a myriad of reasons why these sequels while planned out or conceived never get made and leave us fans famished for more. Especially in this day and age where it seems that Hollywood throws our horror maestros new ideas away like garbage while picking away at their established films for every penny they can, our beloved franchises and filmmakers turn to the pages of comic books to get their tales told. It’s a great renaissance for horror literature in comics as even John Carpenter has turned to almost exclusively working in the comics medium with Tales of Science Fiction, Tales for a Halloween Night and even Old Man Jack being a few of his newest works to satiate your love for Carpenter. I decided to pick three of my favorites from the past couple of years that you guys should check out at your local comic shop so you can finally have the sequels your horror loving heart deserves.

The Lost Boys is a cult classic vampire flick that you could only get in the Eighties and it’s probably the greatest thing Joel Schumacher has ever done. It was a great balance of teen gothic and comedy that created an atmosphere that you just can’t get anymore. Decades later they tried to make sequels to this classic, straight-to-DVD and devoid of almost anything that resembled the original, so much so that whenever it did hearken back to the original film it just made fun of it. It felt like watching a Twilight movie made for the CW that just happened to have Edgar Frog in it.

Tim Seeley is probably the greatest eighties horror movie director you’ve never heard of because all his films splatter the comic book pages instead of the screen. His most famous book, Hack/Slash, is about a “Final Girl” who survives her slasher experience to become Cassie Hack the Slasher Slayer. She’s Buffy, minus super powers, but fights all kinds of different iterations of slashers. Seeley has had Cassie cross over with Victor Crowley, Chucky, Herbert West and Ashley J. Williams himself. The greatest thing about these crossovers is Seeley’s passionate love and attention to detail on the characters he’s adapting in these books. He takes every precaution to make sure the events of all the films can cross into his Hack/Slash universe and the voices of the characters are so refined it’s uncanny how similar they are to their film counterparts.

Seeley decided to take on The Lost Boys for a direct sequel and it’s the greatest sequel we never got, taking place very shortly after the events of the original film with Michael working an old folks home, Sam working the comic shop and the Frog Brothers training under Grandpa Emerson to be true vampire hunters. A hidden secret from one of our characters in the previous film causes a spike in vampire activity that is older than the human race! Seeley takes every little throwaway line of dialogue and throwaway character to sculpt a story that fits perfectly within The Lost Boys universe. While Seeley gives the drama a bit more urgency than the original film he also still makes it fun with awesome cheesy one liners and the dynamic between the Frog brothers has never been stronger. My favorite aspect of the story though is you find out a big secret about the Saxophone player that makes him one of the most ridiculously crazed yet badass characters in the series, who the hell ever thought that would happen? Seeley did.  Sam really comes into his own in this book too as Seeley evolves all the characters a bit like a good sequel should. It’s a perfect marriage of reverence and world building that keeps the heart of the movie but forwards the plot in a fresh new way.

Freddy Vs. Jason is a fairytale scenario for a horror fan that went through decades of development hell but upon it’s miracle of a release made New Line Cinema huge bank, which begged the question of where’s the sequel? Jeff Katz who started in the New Line Cinema mail room had a dream and that dream was to bring the titans of terror face to face with one of horrors few ongoing protagonists, Ashley J. Williams. This obviously genius idea had so many people fighting over negotiations and takes on the material who knows who to point the finger at as to why it didn’t get made. Katz however being the huge fanboy he is persisted and turned his script into a comic book! This was an awesome little crossover complete with Freddy playing upon Ash’s nightmares about the cabin and even had a giant slaughter fest of S-Mart customers at the hands of Jason Voorhees.

I could go on about how awesome this book is what I really want to alert the fans to is what came shortly after the success of this book. This adaptation brought us the mother of all sequels Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash. Following the events in Katz first script turned comic, the government tracks down where Ash drowned Jason and the Necronomicon, which now houses Freddy’s soul, at the bottom of Crystal Lake. Of course a bunch of government agents end up getting slaughtered by Jason as the head of the Pentagon makes off with the Necronomicon. The scope of this book could never be filmed, not only does it have our three titular characters but every single survivor of every Nightmare or Friday film.

Maggie, Freddy’s daughter from Freddy’s Dead, along with Neil from Dream Warriors assemble a group of survivors who have encountered Freddy and Jason before to figure out a way to get rid of them for good. We’ve got Tina and her psychic powers, Renne and her empath powers, Alice the dream master herself along with Jacob the Dream Child, little Stephanie from Jason Goes To Hell all grown up with her father Stephen and Tommy Jarvis who hunts down Jason Punisher style complete with War Journal. As if this collection of familiar faces wasn’t enough the entire book is littered with references to other franchises and even features Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back” song from Friday the 13th Part 6!

Jeff Katz lets all his love for all these series shine ending with an ultimate showdown of evil on the lawn of the White house as Freddy summons the Army of Darkness, led by Jason, to combat the military and survivors, blood literally raining down on Earth. It gets even more intense as Amanda Kreuger’s ghost shows up with an army of the undead of her own! This book is the Kitchen sink thrown right at your face and as a fan it is everything you’ve ever wanted.

Romero is and always will be king of the zombies and while the last two decades saw him bring us three more “Of the Dead” films to mixed fan and critical reviews, each on gave a little something more to the genre and let’s be honest, most of you thought Land of the Dead was a badass flick. He wanted to keep bringing us theses stories but because of said mixed reviews it became harder and harder for Romero to make these films so he returned to the Dead universe under the Marvel Comics moniker for Empire of the Dead. The comic reads like the perfect accumulation of the entire Of the Dead universe playing heavily on themes that couldn’t be fully realized in both Day of the Dead and Land, tying directly into Night of the Living Dead while giving us several whole new layers to his universe.

Empire of the Dead has double meaning as it is New York City five years after the zombie outbreak. Humans live on the streets alongside the zombies in fear as special police forces patrol keeping both zombie and human in check, rounding the zombies up for coliseum entertainment to keep the poor amused. The rich live in luxury and excess feeding off the poor much like in Land of the Dead only this time the rich are literally sucking the poor dry as the rich that run NYC are secretly vampires. Romero gives us Mayor Chandrake, a vampire who lords over the city acting very much like Dracula but with a more nefarious and greedy demeanor. The humans are blinded by the violence of the arena as well as the false protection of the mayor’s police force, all of whom are vampires that kidnap children off the streets to be put in farms to be drained of their blood for vampiric consumption.

Romero’s themes are heavy in this book and he expands upon the idea of Bub from Day of the Dead very well here with a hero zombie named X. X is a swat member turned zombie that is found by Dr. Penny Jones who wishes to examine her and condition her to co-exist with humans as she displays signs of intelligence and Romero uses her to show how zombies communicate! In the very first issue Romero ties his later franchise films directly into Night of the Living Dead by revealing Penny is the sister of Johnny and Barbara and in a goosebump filled recollection of that fateful Night, it is finally revealed what became of both Barbara and Johnny. This reveal is what drives Dr. Jones to passionately continue her research on X.

The whole book accumulates in a coup of crazed rednecks trying to take over the city and kill Mayor Chandrake. X being so smart, becomes a zombie gladiator in the coliseum and helps lead a zombie gladiatorial uprising with the help of Dr. Jones against the vampires stealing children. In Romero’s eyes all empires crumble under corrupt rule and society will always destroy itself in any form when money is put before survival. It’s a powerful message and one of the coolest ideas to come out of Romero’s zombie universe in a long time. There was talk of a television adaptation, but unfortunately certain networks felt there’s too much zombie competition out there for anyone to care which is complete garbage and people need to wake up and make Romero’s vision a reality.

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Editorials

Event Coverage: Mark Patton and Kim Myers Talk Freddy’s Revenge in London

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Earlier this month Unicorn Nights organized a rare treat for horror fans, not only did we get to view the often under rated A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge but we were also honored to be in company with the two leading cast members. Mark Patton who played Jesse Walsh and Kim Myers who played his on screen girlfriend Lisa Webber were on hand for a Q & A session once the 1985 sequel had wrapped and Dread Central was in London for a full report.

Every horror fan has their own take on Freddy’s Revenge which has always felt like a standalone movie compared to the rest of the franchise. Speaking to fans at the infamous Prince Charles Cinema where the event was being shown they recalled moments that made the movie so special and separate from the other sequels. The bright yellow school bus, Jesse’s 20 inch tongue, Freddy bursting out of a Mark Patton plastic fantastic body, the exploding parrot, Jesse’s dance, Jesse’s fight, Jesse’s scream, the dog with a human head, the horrifyingly beautiful score by Christopher Stone, Hope Lange, Clu ‘fucking’ Gulager, the beautiful Kim Myers (who judging by tonight hasn’t aged) and of course the infamous line when Freddy tells Jesse,”you’ve got the body, I’ve got the brain”, before peeling back the skin on his head to reveal his pumping organ.

When the movie had wrapped Mark and Kim got down to business and answered fans long awaited questions. Myers confirmed that her audition had been grueling and that she had been asked back four times, but it was her read through with Patton that convinced the powers that be to cast her. “It was a dream come true to get the part and the opportunity of a lifetime”, confirmed Myers.

It was also interesting to learn that Robert Englund who of course would return as Freddy Krueger was the very last cast member to sign on for the sequel, and his participation was very much in the balance. Patton made everyone in the room laugh when he answered  a question from a fan who said ‘was his screaming really him?’ Patton confirmed it was, before revealing that the sound men were in fear of him. Of course Myers is the only actress to have kissed Freddy and she revealed that the peck was very slimy and disgusting , but it was all about saving the love of her life, and with that, both her and Patton, embraced in what had been a fantastic and memorable night for the fans that had turned up for this sold out showing.

ABOUT UNICORN NIGHTS:
Unicorn Nights is the LGBTQUAI strand of films at the Prince Charles Cinema. Looking at some of the best (and worst) films that appeal to a queer unicorn audience. From Classics like Dirk Bogarde’s Victim and Tilda Swinton’s Orlando to lesbian werewolf love stories Jack & Diane and coming out classic Get Real. Their goal is to not let forgotten films from gay film makers or covering gay subjects be forgotten about and give a safe space for unicorns (as they like to call their audience) to come and enjoy film in the beating heart of London’s film center.

If you are in the London area you can follow Unicorn’s latest events and keep up to date by clicking here!

Also check out news on Mark Patton’s new documentary, Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street.

All Photos: David Bronstein

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2017: The Digital Rebirth of the Midnight Movie

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This year’s Sundance audience had no idea what they had signed up for when they entered the Egyptian Theatre on January 21st, the midnight premiere of Kuso. While Flying Lotus has established a well-earned legacy through his music, feature films are a fresh venture for him – and his first effort was transgressive enough to be dubbed one of the grossest films ever made. In spite of this film’s instant infamy, however, it didn’t have a theatrical run. Its grotesque pleasures must be sought almost exclusively online. Only some (lucky or unlucky) cinephiles have been able to experience this creation as it, and much of its ilk, should be – in the darkness of a theater.

The midnight movie phenomenon truly broke into the mainstream during the late ‘60s, amidst the academically-deemed Golden Age of American cinema. Now-famous directors like John Waters, David Lynch, and Alejandro Jodorowsky earned notoriety with these works – made infamous by their grotesque natures, sure, but also because they broke cinematic rules in such effective ways. There is something cathartic about watching a film that shows you something impossible, surrounded by others who are just as shocked and moved. This is an experience that audiences can’t truly replicate outside of a theater, at any time before nightfall.

Since the rise of the multiplex and big-chain theaters, independent cinemas have had a more difficult time competing. Why settle for one screen, anyway, when you can have twenty? With blockbusters and a series of misfires (lookin’ at you, Heaven’s Gate) putting an end to the revolutionary Golden Age, there wasn’t a space for midnight movies. Perhaps this was because they defy classification. Their ultimate effect may be disgust or discomfort, but a midnight movie isn’t necessarily horror, or comedy or sci-fi, for that matter. Without a category, they’re impossible to sell – or sell easily.

Film festivals have become the salvation of these less accessible offerings. Kuso was one of eight midnight selections at Sundance this year, amongst the equally harrowing (albeit less gooey) Bitch, the oddly touching The Little Hours, and entertaining anthology XX, to name a few. Big players like South by Southwest, TIFF, Tribeca and AFI sport midnight sections as well, which have premiered recent smashes like Turkish hellfest Baskin or monstrous love poem Spring – while the equally important Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival have focused solely on genre films for years. Fest favorites still rely on distribution to find a broad audience, though, and often the weirdest ones get left behind.

So, where do modern audiences find these films when they don’t get a traditional release? They have to go online. Netflix’s horror section is notoriously uneven, though its acquisition of IFC Midnight’s lineup has improved it immensely. One of the most consistent platforms for weird cinema is far more niche – AMC’s hidden gem, Shudder. It’s advertised as Netflix for horror, but its curators have shown a specific focus on all things strange, regardless of category. This year, they’ve acquired more standard genre fare, like the heinously clever Better Watch Out and the powerful, agonizing Revenge; but arguably their most famous grab is Kuso, which draws an entirely different audience. Fresh acquisitions like Prevenge and We Are the Flesh, along with hard-to-find classics such as Death Bed: the Bed that Eats and The Devils, prove the site’s attention to exposing new audiences to bizarre, world-changing content.

It isn’t to say that weird movies haven’t been made in the decades between these periods; but we seem to have entered an age in which they’re becoming easily accessible again. Prestige talent has begun crossing into weird movies too; see Anne Hathaway in the genre-destroying Colossal or Jennifer Lawrence enduring all sorts of abuse in mother!, remarkable if only for the fact that Paramount released it with no questions asked. Stylish directors like Ben Wheatley and Ana Lily Amirpour broke into the mainstream with their own no-budget visions of strangeness, A Field in England and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, respectively.

Presenting a new generation with films that challenge, provoke, disgust and distort is essential; we live in a time of upheaval and anxiety, so why not explore movies that show the world in all its chaotic glory? Even so, that connection of a dark theater is missed – and fans can hope that somehow, the system will change again, allowing for a fresh cycle of movies that only play at night.

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12 Spooky Video Game Farms To Celebrate Your Thanksgiving

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Happy pre-Christmas, everybody! It’s once again that magical time of the year, where all the department stores get out their light up Santas and tinsel to celebrate the birth of capitalism. The Spooky Month is gone, all praise be to the glorious Coca-Cola Company. Oh, and there’s also something about turkeys and stuffing your face with enough pie to temporarily shut down your brain’s ability to recognize your in-laws as the enemy.

Now if you’re like me and your family is an impossible five whole hours away from you, you might be spending Thanksgiving alone. No shame in that, just a single adult man alone in his room on a day meant for loved ones. But that doesn’t mean that we very-much-not-lonely-and-totally-content-with-our-life-choices individuals can’t have some fun! So this year, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving by remembering the American heartland that made this all possible. The noble farmer, tilling the soil from dusk till dawn until automation made his job mostly just pushing buttons. So join me if you will, with my list of 12 Spooky Video Game Farms to Celebrate Your Thanksgiving!

12) All is Dust

O HAI!

All is Dust is pretty much the reason that this is a list of “Spooky Video Game Farms,” and not “Top Spooky Video Game Farms.” This is a game that I once used to kick off a series of negative reviews I called “Bottom of the Bargain Bin,” you can go ahead and read my rambling review if you are so inclined. For the rest of you, I’ll recap by saying that All is Dust is bad. None of that wishy-washy some redeeming nuggets that you can see through the rest of the turd. It’s just plain bad. But what it does have going for it is that, A) it is 100% free, B) it 100% takes place on a farm, and C) it’s so bad that it sticks in my brain as being entertaining. Play if you’re very bored or truly deranged.

11) Farm for your Life

Although not really living up to the “Spooky” part of the “Spooky Video Game Farms” list, I’d be remiss to leave it out. Taking place after the zombie apocalypse, you must do your best to raise livestock and run your restaurant by day, and defend it from waves of zombies by night. It’s part tower defence, part Harvest Moon, part Cooking Mama, part Diner Dash, and part Minecraft. For only $10, it’s definitely worth checking out just for the unique premise and adorable zombies.

10) Monster Rancher

Whereas Pokémon was about a small child going forth into nature to enslave its creatures and force them to fight in the ultimate bloodsport, Monster Rancher was about setting up the ideal monster sex palace. Okay, you still make them fight. This is a monster raising (or, if you will, monster ranching) simulator after all, it would be pretty bleak of the ultimate goal was to just chop them up and sell off the best bits. It never did as well as Pokémon, but I always found something charming about Monster Rancher’s take on raising your monsters. Rather than just fighting to get bigger and stronger, you could raise their individual stats by making them do chores like tidying up or running laps. I got much more of a sense of attachment to my individual monsters when I felt like I was their dad, making them mow the lawn for their own good. Then, later as their pimp, I forced them to mate and produce supermonsters.

9) Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green

Somewhere out there some, search optimization program must be whirring its little algorithms in confusion as this is the first time anyone has mentioned Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green in a decade. A tie-in to the equally unloved Land of the Dead, it actually serves as a direct prequel. You play as Jack, a farmer who on the night of the zombie outbreak finds his farm besieged by… well you know the drill. Road to Fiddler’s Green gets bonus points for not only partially taking place on a farm, but for starring an authentic American heartland stereotype farmer. Now let me be clear, this game is pretty bad. But it’s even more so that endearingly simple kind of bad, where the zombies are so easily avoided it’s like the scene from Dawn of the Dead where the bikers are basically just having an orgy around them. I have no idea where you’d get your hands on it, but give it a play if you want some good ol’ fashioned bad game.

8) Dead Secret

Dead Secret

This monkey could not possibly get any eviler.

This is the part where if this were a “Top” list, it would begin in earnest. Like a Jigsaw victim tasked with beating Five Nights at Freddy’s, this is a game that surprised me. I’m not really keen on the whole fixed point VR thing, as it tends to only lend itself to jump scares, but Dead Secret won me over with some thrilling chases and overall creepy atmosphere. The bizarre plot contains oni-masked demon spirit guides, magic slugs, dream machines, and the phases of the moon. It’s definitely something worth checking out, and is available on all major VR headsets. Even without one, I found the game enjoyable.

7) Minecraft

Hisssssssss…..

First of all, if you don’t find Minecraft scary, fuck you. You’ve obviously never played it. I do not care how blocky the graphics or adorable the sheep are. You try to listening to the zombies moaning softly in the distance as you huddle in your makeshift hovel and pray the night to be over. How about you place the last block on your new swimming pool, only to hear the telltale hiss of a creeper just behind you. Then you can come back and tell me that Minecraft isn’t horror. And don’t tell me it’s not a farm, either. All you do in Minecraft IS farm. It’s a game about building things to eventually grow more things so you no longer have to go out of your way to collect things. That is the literal transition from hunter/gatherer to farming.

6) Slender: The Arrival

Now that it’s been 4 years since its official release and the hype/controversy has died down, I’m free to say nice things about Slender: The Arrival without sounding like a pandering YouTube twat. In retrospect, the part of Slender that I really didn’t like (other than the community) was the first randomly generated section. The whole 11 or so interchangeable environments with 8 pages scattered between them just felt unnatural, a cheap way to lengthen gameplay at the cost of a cohesive world. However, I found the game to be pretty good when it got to the more linear scripted areas. One such level was titled “Homestead,” and takes place on a spooky farm complete with grain silo and quaint little hilltop church. It’s a pretty solid little piece of horror, and definitely worth watching someone overreact to on YouTube.

5) Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4

The game very quickly demands that you stop sucking.

Resident Evil 4 is not a game wanting for memorable locations. It’s got a spooky castle, a spooky military base, a spooky mine, a spooky… ancient ruins? I mean hell, this is a game with an underground lava fortress and a minecart ride! That being said, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t immediately associate Resident Evil 4 with the first pitched siege battle in the farming village. Many of the game’s most memorable moments come from these first few chapters in the decaying rural town, including the enduring introduction of Mr. Chainsaw-McSackface. That alone deserves a spot on this list.

4) Dying Light: The Following

When I gave Dying Light: The Following a five-star tongue bath awhile back, much of that was due to my own personal disappointment with DLC releases. You really have to give props to a DLC pack that is at the same time affordable, lengthy, and adds something genuinely new to the title. For The Following’s case, that came in the form of lengthy rural sections you had to get across in your sick customizable buggy. It was unique compared to the previously cramped and vertical spaces of the main campaign, adding even more freedom to a game about freerunning.

3) The Walking Dead

To be clear, I’m talking about this farm

Back in the day, Telltale Games was that cute little indie company putting out new Sam and Max games and the CSI tie-ins. That all changed in 2012 when The Walking Dead put them on the map. Before then, no one expected that a game you could play on your iPhone would make you cry. Of all the heartbreaking and shocking moments, perhaps the most is the dinner at the St. Johns’ farm. Clementine will remember that…and so will I.

2) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Welcome to the family.

The last two additions on this list basically write themselves. I’m choosing to give Resident Evil 7: Biohazard the second slot because it’s just way less recognizable as once having been a plantation. As someone who doesn’t find country bumpkins scary, the crazed hillbilly trope of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or House of 1000 Corpses never really got to me. The Baker family? These people scare me.

1) Outlast 2

Outlast 2

Of course the top spot on this list goes to Outlast 2. If you Google “horror games on farms,” it’s the first result. And there’s good reason for that. Outlast 2 takes everything unsettling about rural Americana and cranks it up to 11. You’ve got slaughterhouses filled with people, rotting cattle, a syphilitic cult leader, pits filled with dead babies… the list goes on and on. It’s genuinely terrifying. I’m not even someone who likes the weaponless approach to horror, but with Outlast 2 it’s as much about the setting as it is the jump scares. Definitely check it out.

Well, there you have it horror fans. A nice sampling of 12 Spooky Video Game Farms to Celebrate Your Thanksgiving. I tried to include a little bit of everything for everyone here, but let me know if I missed your favorite heartland horror! Happy pre-Christmas to all, and to all a good… fright?

…I’ll see myself out.

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