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Freddy Ruiz’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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We’re getting a really awesome renaissance of studio horror films, the biggest of this year being IT, and next year starts off with Insidious: The Last Key. While I am a huge fan of both, IT being my favorite film this year, I’d like to take the opportunity of my “best of” list to reflect on lesser-known films of the year that surprised me. Most of the films on my list reflect my love for the balls-out insanity of the 80’s or the subtle character dramas in 70’s horror. Here are the top five horror films from 2017 I think you should check out!


The Babysitter

McG, producer of “Supernatural”, is back with a direct-to-Netflix movie that feels like something Joe Dante would’ve given us back in the day. The Babysitter stars Mayhem’s Samara Weaving as the titular character, Bee, giving an awesome performance of hidden identities. Judah Lewis, as Cole, gives a stupendous character arc of a performance that is going to give him cult status forever.

The first half of the film introduces us to young Cole and his inability to grow up in any way, shape, or form as he is constantly afraid of his surroundings and bullied by his peers. His babysitter, Bee, is his best friend and the only person he feels comfortable around. Their dynamic is hilarious and really fun to watch. McG builds them up amazingly with his knack for quick editing and stylistic visuals that enhance the situations and emotions. It drives their perfect relationship and sucks the viewer into the story. By the time the horror/thriller element is introduced you’re honestly shocked because of how developed and invested you are in the characters. The relationship between Cole and Bee feels like the best coming of age film.

The babysitter turns out to be a cult leader for a bunch of stereotypical millennials and Cole has to save himself from becoming a human sacrifice! At this point we’re introduced to Bee’s cult of teenagers and each one is more insane than the last. I love the leads, but the supporting cast of killers gives way to some of the most hilarious and intense scenes in the movie. My personal favorite is Robbie Amell, the jock. He runs around shirtless, screaming crazed one-liners as he chases Cole around, laughing maniacally.

This also has one of the most satisfactory badass and rocking endings I’ve seen all year! A final showdown between Bee and Cole happens that is super intense and brings forth inner demons from both parties, ending with a blaze of glory. Each and every moment and little detail builds to something else in the flick as no joke or mannerism is wasted. Cole is the badass we all wanted to become when we were dorky kids.


Raw

The directorial debut of Julia Ducournau is easily the best body horror film you will see all year. It follows a vegetarian girl going into veterinary school as she is forced to have her first taste of meat in a hazing initiation. Justine has been overprotected and blinded to any kind of carnal or basic pleasures her whole life. The framework of the film is a coming of age story as Justine discovers herself and enters adulthood, but it’s also paralleled with an innate animalistic need as her psyche devolves into primal instincts. This gives her a physical need for meat, changing not only her mind but her body.

It’s an amazing narrative that Ducournau enhances with bold lighting choices mirroring Justine’s emotions throughout the film, as well as a mysterious and foreboding score. This film also has my favorite sister dynamic since the original Ginger Snaps.

Garance Marillier’s performance as Justine is desperately tragic and horrifying to watch. She drives the movie perfectly on so many levels and gives one of my favorite performances this year. The true reasoning for her developed taste in meat and flesh is hinted at throughout the movie but never truly identified. It leaves a mysterious science fiction aspect to the story that is amplified by the grotesque final scene in the film.


Devils Candy
The Devil’s Candy
Sean Byrne is notorious for meticulously crafting his films for years, rewriting and reshooting segments, taking his time. It is well worth it to wait and let him create with as much time as possible because his films, from concept to execution, are always original. They feel like things we’ve never seen before visually and create stories which could be viewed again and again.

I love his film The Loved Ones, as you watch this strange, intimate story unfold with both compelling antagonists and protagonists whose lives intersect into a horrific and tense collision. He is excellent in developing characters and even turns background characters unexpectedly into main focal points to the narrative.

With his latest, The Devil’s Candy, he opens with a tense and boastful guitar riff that permeates the darkly lit set pieces to form the opening kill that sets precedence for the darkest parts of the film. He then easily slides the viewer into a struggling but love-filled family. Ethan Embry plays Jesse Hellman, a metal enthusiast, artist and loving father. The dynamic between him and his daughter, Zooey, played by Kiara Glasco, is infectious and perfect. We watch him, Zooey and his wife Astrid move into a farmhouse that once belonged to a couple and their son who used his guitar to make enough noise to drive out the voice of the devil he would hear in his head. As someone who appreciates art and metal I immediately fell in love with this family that struggled to maintain who they are, thriving on love and music. The daughter/father dynamic had me smiling ear to ear because of how well it’s written. Simple scenes of them head banging together and making Metallica jokes made me want a daughter like Zooey and to be a father like Jesse.

Byrne has such a damn nice set up for the family that is fun but also has subtle foreshadowing of the horrors to come as the music choices ,while upbeat and head banging, have lyrics that are horrid and amplify what’s to come. These lyrics are over certain shots that linger, creating a terrifying atmosphere.

Pruitt Taylor Vince as Ray, the main antagonist of the film, is phenomenal. For a majority of the movie you truly feel for his character as he is constantly plagued by voices and unable to handle any type of confrontation with any other human. He is constantly trembling and scared of everyone. Jesse becomes the eyes and ears of what Ray sees in his mind as their madness becomes intertwined. The devil is more a concept in this film than a reality, but Jesse’s art shows hellish imagery of what the devil is.

It all concludes in one of the most harrowing, scary, bite your fingernails endings that is a completely beautiful yet horrific marriage of sights and sounds. It provides the representation of hell on earth in your own home with the best imagery of your own personal hell since Baskin.


Better Watch Out

The second feature film from Chris Peckover, who started with a great drama, Undocumented, is a really surprising movie. It starts off very formulaic and beat for beat like a home invasion movie that doesn’t give too much character development. You have to hold out because the style of the beginning actually plays into the rest of the film. The dialogue in the beginning is perfect for the introduction to this world, as it feels very much in the vein of an Amblin kid’s movie on a little more R-rated scale.

Once the movie turns on you, it becomes a completely different film on so many levels. The set up helps the film become the greatest sadistic performance since Patrick Bateman himself. You will be questioning the relevance of the dialogue as it seems insane. You will be laughing at the acting choices and moments for how messed up yet comedic they are. You will be in shock at the choices made by the characters and how they play out. There’s really maybe only one person to root for, as a lot of the characters are shitty people. However, the antagonists are so fun that you can’t help but be entranced by them.

There aren’t many kills, but the actions surrounding the kills are extremely satisfying. The ending is one of the most ingenious Dexter-like sequences ever filmed. Don’t research too much into this! Just watch the weirdness unfold.


Cult of Chucky

I am an unashamed fan of this entire franchise. Freddy is a smack talking dream killer but Chucky feels like the everyman killer who talks shit and enjoys his work. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of Child’s Play 3 and Seed Of Chucky, but I love watching those flicks for the Chuck! It’s incredible how Don Mancini has had the ability to have his hands in the creative process throughout the entire franchise. The first three films are their own trilogy. Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky are their own thing, and now Curse Of Chucky and Cult Of Chucky have become part of a trilogy.

The idea that you can place Chucky in different types of films within the horror genre is extremely new and interesting. Curse of Chucky put a slasher in a gothic horror film. Now, Cult of Chucky put a slasher in an asylum horror story. Both films, spiritually, bring the franchise back into the thriller roots of the original Child’s Play. Original characters are brought back while also advancing the series in new directions.

My favorite aspect with the return of Andy Barclay is the dynamic between him and Chucky’s severed head. It’s one of the most satisfying things to watch and Tony Gardner’s FX on the doll have gotten so much better since Curse.

Fiona Douriff gives one of the greatest performances in the series. Her constant troubles as an invalid trapped within an Asylum become a story on their own that terrifies and disgusts. Her final act within the film is jaw dropping to watch if you’re a fan of the franchise. Alex Vincent and Jennifer Tilly have fun cameos that had me smiling ear to ear.

The mind games in the film with the patients and Chucky’s new found power are perfectly written and paranoid inducing for the viewer. Mancini is at his top game here on so many levels. His fan service is actually part of the plot while giving us new ideas, scares and character development that excellently compliment the new characters. It’s one of the best installments in the whole franchise. Buy the Blu-Ray for a cameo after the credits that will bleed into the next installment! Well worth the purchase!


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Dacre Stoker Takes Us On A Guided Tour Of London’s DRACULA Locations

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As you can probably tell from the fact that I write for this site, I’m a huge fan of the original Dracula novel. So getting to meet Dacre Stoker, the great-grand nephew of Bram Stoker himself, was nothing short of an honor.

We started the tour by heading to the Golders Green Crematorium, where Bram’s ashes are interred. As you probably know, his son Irving Noel Stoker, who died in 1961, had his ashes placed in the same urn, whilst his wife Florence Balcombe, for reasons which we’ll probably never truly know, instead opted to have her cremated remains scatted across the crematorium’s gardens.

Anyway, whilst we were in the presence of Bram’s ashes on the third floor, Dacre reveled how the author’s death was overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic, which occurred several days prior. He also took this opportunity to reveal how a study claiming that Dracula was released to a modest response from critics was taken from a survey of just six reviews, one of which was predominantly negative, and the rest were mostly positive. In other words, the book was actually warmly received by most critics at the time of its release.

Although he died in Los Angles, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari star Conrad Veidt also has his ashes interred at the same crematorium, so I was sure to pay him a visit too before we left.

After this, we headed to the three properties that Stoker called home whilst he was living in London, and whilst we weren’t allowed to go inside any of them, we were able to get some pictures outside whilst Dacre described his great grand-uncle’s history with each property. I was particularly surprised to hear that Bram was even awarded a medal because he almost saved a man from drowning in the River Thames, which lies just outside one of the properties, even though the man ultimately died after Stoker was unable to resuscitate him.

Dacre, who admitted to being fond of both Dracula Untold and the Twilight franchise, is currently co-writing Dracul with JD Barker, which will be the first authorized prequel to Dracula. The book is set to arrive in stores later this year, and you can look forward to our exclusive interview with Dacre about it closer to the date of publication.

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#Brainwaves Episode 86 Guest Announcement: Darin Scott – Director of Deep Blue Sea 2, Producer of Tales from the Hood, and LOTS More!

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For the 86th episode of Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio, we’re going deep… deep into… well, usually trouble; but aside from that, joining us will be filmmaker Darin Scott, whose latest film, Deep Blue Sea 2, is currently taking a shark-sized bite out of home video. Scott will be joining us to talk about that flick, Tales from the Hood, working with Spike Lee, and a whole lot more!

Join us this coming Wednesday, April 25th, at 8:00PM PT/11:00PM ET for all the shenanigans fit to be had!

It’s radio without a safety net, kids. It’s Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio.

SUPPORT BRAINWAVES ON PATREON!

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Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio is available to subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher.

Spooky, funny, touching, honest, offensive, and at times completely random, Brainwaves airs live every Wednesday evening beginning at 8:00 PM Pacific Time (11:00 midnight Eastern Time) and runs about 3 hours per episode.

Knetter and Creepy will be taking your calls LIVE and unscreened via Skype, so let your freak flags fly! Feel free to add BrainWavesTalk to your Skype account so you can reach us, or call in from a landline or cellphone – 858 480 7789. The duo also take questions via Twitter; you can reach us at @BrainwavesRadio or @UncleCreepy, @JoeKnetter, or @MrDarkDC using the hashtag #BrainWaves. You can also check us out on our Brainwaves Discord channel!

Have a ghost story or a paranormal story but can’t call in? Feel free to email it to me directly at UncleCreepy@dreadcentral.com with “Brainwaves Story” in your subject line. You can now become a fan of the show via the official… BRAINWAVES FACEBOOK PAGE!

Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio is hosted live (with shows to be archived as they progress) right here on Dread Central. You can tune in and listen via the FREE TuneIn Radio app or listen to TuneIn right through the website!

For more information and to listen live independent of TuneIn, visit the Deep Talk Radio Network website, “like” Deep Talk Radio on Facebook, and follow Deep Talk Radio on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to Brainwaves on iTunes.

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What the Hell Happens in 3 From Hell? Let’s Speculate!

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As all of us here are more than aware of at this point, writer-director Rob Zombie has just finished shooting his much-anticipated follow-up to House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects titled 3 From Hell. But what else do we know about the film and is it enough to speculate what might be in store for us once the movie hits theaters (or more likely VOD)? I’m not sure if we do… but it’ll be fun to try!

Let’s start off with what we DO know. So far we know the film will feature the return of the remaining Rejects with Bill Moseley as Otis Firefly, Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly, and Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding. We also know that Danny Trejo will be returning as Rondo from The Devil’s Rejects and Daniel Roebuck will be back in the lime-green saddle once again as Morris Green.

But then we have a seemingly endless cast of new characters Zombie has introduced over the course of shooting on Instagram. Some of these actors have (rumored) character names and some don’t. The actors that currently come with unconfirmed characters names include Clint Howard as Mr. Baggy Britches (another clown), Sylvia Jefferies as Heather Starship Galen, Lucinda Jenney as Nebraska, Bill Oberst Jr.as Tony Commando, Steven Michael Quezada as Diego, Kevin Jackson as Gerard James, Christopher B. Duncan as Glassy Wolf, Tomas Boykin as Derek Zoom, Stacie Greenwell as Janice, Jan Hoag as Betty Lou, and Rob Welsh as Luke.

The actors currently without a name to their game are Dee Wallace, Richard Brake, Dot-Marie Jones, Emilio Rivera, Sean Whalen, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Tom Papa, Austin Stoker, Pancho Moler, David Ury, and Richard Riehle. Most of these names I recognize and some I don’t. Either way, as mentioned above, all of them evidently have no use for a name at the moment. I got all this info from IMDb, by the way. Take that for what you will.

With all of that info out of the way, how’s about we speculate on just what in the Hell (natch) will go down in this new Rob Zombie joint. First off, I think we can all just go ahead and assume that Zombie isn’t making a supernatural film here, so we’ll all just have to buy into the idea that Baby, Otis, and Spaulding survived that hail of gunfire from the finale of The Devil’s Rejects. If that’s how you’re going to play it Rob, whatever, I can deal. Supernatural sequel out of the way, this new film will no doubt begin with our lovable lunatics behind bars. Deep behind bars, I’m guessing.

But they’ll have to break out quick fast and in a hurry, so how does this happen? Well, Zombie does like himself some Charles Manson, so it only makes sense that he may try out a plot that involves a cult of Firefly Family followers. If this is the case then it makes a bit of sense that this Cult of Firefly would break out the Rejects one-by-one. I’m thinking the cult members will be Sylvia Jefferies as Heather Starship Galen, Lucinda Jenney as Nebraska, and Bill Oberst Jr. as Tony Commando. Hell, maybe even Clint Howard’s Mr. Baggy Britches is a super fan of Captain Spaulding. That could make for good times!

Now that we have at least a theory about who Sylvia Jefferies, Lucinda Jenney, Bill Oberst Jr., and Clint Howard might be playing in the film, let’s move on to some other peeps with names. I hate to come across as stereotyping or anything, but let’s assume that Steven Michael Quezada’s Diego is helping out Danny Trejo’s Rondo now that it seems Diamond Dallas Page isn’t onboard this new entry (or is he?). And in keeping with pairing new cast members up with the old let’s say that Kevin Jackson’s Gerard James plays the son of Ken Foree’s Charlie Altamont from The Devil’s Rejects. Jackson’s Gerard James is looking for revenge and lets also say that he has a group of fellow vigilantes in tow played by Christopher B. Duncan as Glassy Wolf, Tomas Boykin as Derek Zoom, Stacie Greenwell as Janice, and Rob Welsh as Luke.

That takes care of the characters with names. Now let’s move onto the ones without names. To continue the thought process above, Emilio Rivera may be a fellow cohort of Trejo’s Rondo and we know that Austin Stoker plays a newscaster. So that’s two down. Jan Hoag’s Betty Lou is probably a lover of Captain Spaulding’s at some point so let’s just go with that and move on. Richard Riehle and Dot-Marie Jones probably play the owners of some business (or RV) that befall the Rejects and/or their cult and Sean Whalen probably plays their dim-witted son. Something tells me that Zombie will then group Tom Papa, Pancho Moler, and David Ury together, and considering Ury and Moler both played crazy killers in Zombie’s 31, I’m betting he switches it up and makes them sweet buffoons this time around. Digging a bit deeper, Zombie always loves a good bit of social commentary in his film via an on-going media fire-storm so expect Papa, Moler, and Ury to be Morris Green’s on-set team. That’s of course if Moler isn’t Clint Howard’s cohort. But I hope it doesn’t go there.

This leaves us without roles for classic scream queen Dee Wallace, Zombie mainstay Jeff Daniel Phillips, and of course Doom-Head himself, Mr. Richard Brake. We’ve already established that a cult will break out the remaining Rejects, but now we need to figure out what happens after that. And this brings me to what the PLOT of 3 From Hell might be… Being that House of 1000 Corpses was about a group of victims trying to elude the Firefly Family, and The Devil’s Rejects was about the Firefly Family eluding the family of their victims, I’m thinking the only fresh place to take 3 From Hell is to pit the Firefly Family against another family of maniacs.

Enter Brake, Wallace, and Phillips.

This will be our new family of notorious killers that have risen up in the decade the Rejects have been behind bars. And neither family likes the other invading their turf. War ensues. But let’s have a bit of fun now with just what kind of killers this new family will be. I’m thinking since Zombie loves to keep religion in his films, and Brake is at his best spitting sinister monologue after sinister monologue, this new family will be super religious a la Kevin Smith’s Red State. Heaven’s Gate vs The Devil’s Rejects you could say. I’m thinking Brake will play a psycho Preacher. Thus giving the man the chance to go on and deliciously on about fire and brimstone and the end of days. Phillips will play his brother. And Wallace will play Mother.

Not to be overly cute, but the irony here is that with Baby, Otis, and Spaulding facing off against Brake, Wallace, and Phillips, the movie will be putting forth the question: “Which group are the REAL 3 From Hell?” Boom. Goodnight. Drops the mic.

Now I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a fucking blast to me. Whether or not Zombie goes this route is, of course, completely up in the air at this point. But, boy, it’s fun to speculate. What do you think of these 3 From Hell theories? Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

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