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Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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In retrospect 2017 gave us some damned fine horror films, including the long awaited first part of Stephen King’s IT, which for all intents and purposes exceeded all expectations. Still, there were several other films I liked a lot more than the trip to Derry that’s bound to make up the majority of our lists… or will it? All I can give you are the films that really stood out for me…


SplitSplit

There was a time not so long ago when I would avoid anything that M. Night Shyamalan put his name on. I wasn’t the only one either. The famed director never managed to recapture the chills and beauty of his earlier efforts like Unbreakable and, of course, The Sixth Sense. These were smaller fare than his later bloated efforts for the studios. Hell, even Signs has its merits. But then it happened… The Village, Lady in the Water, the complete ridiculousness that was The Happening, and ultimately the mega-flop The Last Airbender. The industry as a whole wrote off Night even though he had so much more to give if presented the right way. Enter Blumhouse, which let Shyamalan make his own smaller contained stories like The Visit and this year’s surprise chiller hit Split, featuring James McAvoy delivering what I still consider to be the performance of the year.

Without the spectacle and studios telling him or expecting him to deliver the next big tent pole films, Shyamalan has been able to go back to basics and bring on the spooky stories. Split is a prime example of that and also paves the way for a return to one of Shyamalan’s most well received properties later next year. If you missed this one, do yourselves a favor… fix that cardinal sin right now. When I close my eyes, I can still hear the gasps of Split‘s final reveal. What a twist indeed!


Get OutGet Out

What’s this? Comedian Jordan Peele creating one of the most socially relevant horror films the genre has ever seen? Stranger things have indeed happened, and Get Out delivers enough thought-provoking material to ask even the most jaded moviegoers some really tough questions while giving them pause for thought.

How this was recently nominated as a comedy by the Golden Globes is one of life’s great mysteries right up there with The Martian getting a similar nod.

Like I said… stranger things, man. Stranger things…


A Cure for WellnessA Cure for Wellness

Judging from all of the promo trailers and materials, the campaign for this film had me thinking it was gonna be one of the single most pretentiously dull flicks of the year. We went to see it begrudgingly because… well… it’s a horror film, and damn it, I need to see everything. It’s like my curse as a super-fan! In this case, though… said curse turned into the proverbial blessing as A Cure for Wellness ended up delivering something I had wanted so very badly… a good old fashioned mad scientist flick! Masterfully directed by Gore Verbinski, A Cure for Wellness would have felt right at home in the heyday of the sub-genre in the 50s and 60s. It’s a ghastly good time that’s both gorgeous and meaty! Sink your teeth in and chew slowly. This is the good stuff!


Annabelle CreationAnnabelle: Creation

I’ll never forget sitting in a theater for 2014’s Conjuring spin-off, Annabelle. It stands WAY out to me because it’s one of the most boring experiences of my life. All of the pieces were there… a spooky main character… a great score… James Wan producing… a killer backstory… yet, none of it ever came together. It’s literally a film in which almost nothing happens for the duration of its runtime. Hell, A Haunted House 2 handled Annabelle the Doll with more know-how and vigor. This? This was the pits made all the more annoying by the fact that the title character deserved much better.

Enter director David F. Sandberg, who performed the same kind of Herculean task that Mike Flanagan did in 2016 when he delivered the better than it had any right to be sequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. Both of these directors almost exactly one year apart from one another gave audiences the films that they should have gotten in the first place. Films so good it almost makes the originals tolerable by proxy.

Annabelle: Creation is pure nightmare fuel. That’s the only way I can put it. It may not have gotten the well-deserved huge push that Stephen King’s IT did, but damn it, it deserved it!


Kong: Skull Island

Can someone please take Gareth Edwards and sit him down in front of Kong: Skull Island so he can realize how badly he fumbled 2014’s Godzilla? This is what I’m talking about when it comes to giant creature flicks. Out of everything I’ve seen this year, Kong: Skull Island still towers over all of them! Every detail of every incredible action set piece is on display here. No cutaways… no fades… just 100% monster-fueled goodness!

More please… much more!



Honorable Mentions: Gerald’s Game, Better Watch Out, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and “The Exorcist” Season 2.


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Michael C. Hall Buried in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary

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Now here’s an audio book we can REALLY get behind! Entertainment Weekly is reporting that former “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall will be narrating the first ever unabridged recording of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Sometime’s audio is better!

Readers have been asking for this audiobook for a very long time,” Stephen King said in a statement. “I know the listening experience will be worth the wait with Michael as narrator.

We’re thrilled to finally bring Pet Sematary to King’s audiobook fans,” Simon & Schuster Audio president and publisher Chris Lynch added. “Michael C. Hall is a perfect match for this timeless story, which has long deserved an unabridged production.

The unabridged audiobook of Pet Sematary will be released by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 27. Speaking of Hall… you know he would make a pretty friggin’ good casting choice to play Victor Pascow in the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. Just sayin’.

BUY IT NOW!

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Saw-inspired Game Play With Me Sets a Trap on Steam

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Saw fans have a lot to be happy about right now. In addition to Jigsaw being teased for Dead by Daylight, a new Saw-themed game called Play With Me has launched on Steam, and although it’s not officially connected with the franchise in any way, developer Airem promised that they created a videogame which looks and plays as though it were made by Jigsaw himself. As you can tell from the trailer and screenshots, the production values and overall quality of Play With Me appear to be considerably higher than most other indie horror games released on Steam, and you’ll probably be very happy to see that Airem took the time and effort to create stylized hand drawn environments rather than using purchased assets from the Unity Store.

The killer behind the sinister traps in Play With Me is known as the Illusion, with the player taking control of investigative journalist Robert Hawk as he tries to fight his way through a series of sick and twisted obstacles created by the lunatic. The voice acting in the trailer was a little cheesy, although we see at 1:09 that the player will be tasked with using a kitchen knife to cut open a dead body (presumably to retrieve an item hidden in the cadaver’s stomach), which is not an image you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

IQ Publishing are offering a 15% discount off Play With Me for those who purchase the game before January 24, so Saw fans might want to mark that deadline in their calendars and purchase it from Steam before the time is up. After all, it can’t be worse than Konami’s awful official Saw videogames.

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New God of War Story Trailer Calls to You

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This morning, Sony unleashed a new trailer for God of War 4, the upcoming continuation of the story of Kratos. Full of rich, vibrant, and epic imagery, the trailer expands on the dynamics we’ll be seeing at play in this game, mainly the struggle of Kratos being a father and choosing how, and when, to reveal his Godliness to his son, Atreus. All of this takes place as they embark on a journey to fulfill the last wishes of Kratos’ late wife, who wished for her ashes to be spread in a distant location.

Directed by Cory Barlog, God of War 4 will be the first entry in the franchise to not feature Terrence C. Carson as the voice of Kratos. Rather, that responsibility has now fallen upon Christopher Judge (Dead Space: Aftermath, Reaper), who also provided the motion capture for the character.

A Playstation 4 exclusive, God of War 4 will be coming to the console on April 20 this year.

Synopsis:
Living as a man outside the shadow of the gods, Kratos must adapt to unfamiliar lands, unexpected threats, and a second chance at being a father. Together with his son Atreus, the pair will venture into the brutal Norse wilds and fight to fulfill a deeply personal quest.

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