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Soles, P.J. (Halloween)



P.J. Soles Talks HalloweenAh, yes! The ever so sexy and spunky P.J. Soles. She stole our hearts in the original Halloween, and even after three decades later she still hasn’t given them back!

In order to help celebrate the release of Anchor Bay’s Halloween: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Set (review here), P.J. hung out with us for a bit and gave us like totally the scoop on thirty years with The Shape!

Eavesdrop below! And don’t forget to TOTALLY VOTE FOR US ON PODCAST ALLEY!

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    Uncle Creepy: Everybody, Uncle Creepy here for Dread Central and joining us today is horror royalty, at least for Halloween fans, ; ladies and gentlemen, PJ Soles. PJ, how are you?

    PJ Soles: I’m good!

    Uncle Creepy: You know what the funny thing is before we even get started talking about Halloween is when the Halloween remake was happening, I was talking to Kristina Klebe who played your character, I guess, but it’s still your character no matter what and she goes, “You know Steve, the one thing everyone asked me more than anything else is do I say the word totally?” And I’m like, you know.

    PJ Soles: Yeah, right but she probably didn’t say it as many times as I did because I told John and Debra that I was going to try to say it as many times as I could and as it got too ridiculous, you just tell me, but they never put the hook around me so it must have been okay.

    Uncle Creepy: Well, you know, it kind of gave your character a lot of personality and it definitely…

    PJ Soles: It did and I saw Kristina. I met her at a convention. I think it was in Little Rock and she was telling me how she had not seen our movie before she did her part and she was very upset that she hadn’t because she said, “I’ve gotten a lot of tips,” because she kind of played one note, a kind of a bitchy note she said – that was her word – and that was sort of the direction she got from the last Zombie and she said there’s like so many different things. You were cute and you were fun loving and you were sexy and you weren’t bitchy at all.

    Uncle Creepy: Well, I think everyone’s direction that movie just to be kind of bitchy.

    PJ Soles: I guess so because the three girls just seemed to be, well, the same character. That was the one difference I noticed between our movie and the new one but it is an updated version. It wasn’t in the ‘70s, so…

    Uncle Creepy: You know what, though, I mean something about—I’m not even talking about the remake—but something about the movies made within that decade. I mean I think films from the ‘70s are generally my favorites because they just … they have so much personality to them and then that free banking definitely comes through, you know.

    PJ Soles: Absolutely, yeah, and you know what? He didn’t even use any ‘70s songs but usually, when you watch movies, you go oohh… that kind of brings you back to the time, I mean at least people at my age group. I don’t know about your audience or you.

    Uncle Creepy: I’m with you, though.

    PJ Soles: Okay, good. But it was it all its own music and just is the innocence of that time and the fact that we were the three girls, the babysitters, even though I have the bedroom scene, there something sweet and playful and innocent about our characters.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah and you know what? The movie itself—I mean even after all these years. It must been 30 years. Oh my God!

    PJ Soles: I mean yes. This is the thirtieth anniversary. I can’t believe it.

    Uncle Creepy: I know and you know what? The movie still plays just as good today as it did back then and that’s really a testimony to the work of all those involved.

    PJ Soles: Absolutely, and the music. I really, really think 50% was just a very, very simple “didit, didit” and the fact that the audience knows something the characters don’t, you know, that sort of the key. We’re all previewed to information and we’re routing for the characters to find out and to get out of harms way and it just, it’s kind of like peaking through a little well or a hole in the wall and being a fly on the wall and watching what’s going on. So, that’s more than blood and gore, I think it’s scarier. I mean blood and gore is disgusting and kind of makes you reel back in horror but being suspense while on the edge of your seat and knowing, “Gosh that could’ve been me.” That’s more creepy.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. I was just about to say I totally agree but to not self cliché. I don’t think I’ll use that word for the rest of the interview. I’ll leave that to you.

    PJ Soles: No, go ahead.

    Uncle Creepy: I have your permission now?

    PJ Soles: It sounds good on you.

    Uncle Creepy: Okay. Then, I’m not going to send that check?

    PJ Soles: Okay.

    Uncle Creepy: You see how I weasel my way out of stuff. I’m the best at that.

    PJ Soles: You sound like my cousin Barry from New Jersey.

    Uncle Creepy: Well, I’m from New York so close enough.

    PJ Soles: Oh, very close, yes. Well, people from New Jersey always claim they’re from New York and people from New York would never claim they’re from New Jersey.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. There’s something about those battle lines that have been drawn there. It’s… Well, I’m actually feeling…

    PJ Soles: And then share the Hudson. Come on!

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, I know, I know. \But you know I’m from Brooklyn, New York. So, I’m a…

    PJ Soles: Oh, okay.

    Uncle Creepy: I’m a little Italian lad that made it out of there and now, I leave in California as all smart New Yorkers do.

    PJ Soles: That’s right.

    Uncle Creepy: We realized after about…

    PJ Soles: I have to go back and get the hell out of there again.

    Uncle Creepy: We realize after about 30 years and so, “You know what, I’m so sick of this shit and then we go move somewhere else” and then we go back to visit.

    PJ Soles: I lived there in the early 70s. I lived there after I went to college so…

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, I mean it’s…

    PJ Soles: I’ve been in Manhattan well, but it was… I only lived there for five years, 70 to 75. I just remember every winter it was like snow over the city. I don’t see the sky and I just so frostophobic it and I just couldn’t wait to you know for to be summer.

    Uncle Creepy: Well, my thing was, if I never see snow again, I’m really not going to care . I just hated….

    PJ Soles: Snow on vocation is fun, but snow to live in is not fun…

    Uncle Creepy: What snow, anytime you don’t have to shamble it, its fun.

    PJ Soles: Yeah.

    Uncle Creepy: Okay…

    PJ Soles: But you’re a spoiled California guy.

    Uncle Creepy: Oh, yeah, it didn’t really take long for me man…I said, Ooh, good Mexican food and no snow. Rock on… That was my only concern.

    PJ Soles: That’s funny.

    Uncle Creepy: But anyway, enough about us and geographical location as much as fun and we can sit here and do this for like an hour…You now, I mean…

    PJ Soles: You get that a little box, a little 30 anniversary commemorative…

    Uncle Creepy: Well, you know first of all…

    PJ Soles: The mini Michael Myers mask. Is that for a dollar or what?

    Uncle Creepy: You know, you just going to give it to Anchor Bay, man. They come up with a million different ways to package stuff and every time they do, they’ll always come out with something even cooler like…I think last year, may be the year before the lenticular cover in which you could move it and the pumpkin and the knife would glow something like that.

    PJ Soles: Yeah.

    Uncle Creepy: But now…

    PJ Soles: Well, that’s because it’s for the fans. I mean, really without that fan based on without people that are holding this to be the original Halloween as the God of all the horror movies and the one that really started the genre. It’s really quite an honor and so I think they are just kind of keeping up with the new fans that every 10 years seems to crap up and I know from going to convention like the one its going to be this weekend in Pasadena where I’ll see you. There are just newer and younger fans all the time and I have a lot of people that come up and this are boys probably in their 20s and they still look when I was 12. I saw your movie for the first time. My mom, you know told I should stand on the couch and watch it with her and I fell in love with you and so it’s so nice to know that this movie just keeps getting a whole new crop every single year and it seems every decade at least of really hard core fans and say, that’s was the best and it’s so simply and it’s so… You now it compare to all the things that you now they can do now a days, the films with green screen and everything else. It’s amazing that the new and younger generation love it as much as they do.

    Uncle Creepy: You know it’s a really interesting point because I mean, we go to this conventions. We see the convention from the really unique perspective from the inside out you know and just to see all these people. I mean, regardless of age I know Halloween fans were in their 70s and I know Halloween fans who where in their teens. I mean, it’s just…

    PJ Soles: That’s right…

    Uncle Creepy: One of those movies that just really captured the imagination of the audience. You know, Rob zombie said this in an interview. You know what is it about Halloween that you know keeps people coming back to it and you know he hit the mail on that. He said, you know when about 20 years, I don’t think anyone is going to be talking about Dr. Zhivago, but I’m pretty certain I’ll be talking about Halloween.

    PJ Soles: Right! It’s so funny and you know it’s so nice to be a part of that to have peopled really care about it, but you know when you break it down, what really is it? I think it’s the time period one and it’s the innocence like I said before and it’s the fact that three girls are also different, but we you know we are really nice girls and you want to get to know us and you want to know about that time period and then the fact that Michael Myers is such unknown persona. Nobody knows anything about and that’s the scariest thing. I watch a lot of TV and a lot of reality shows about you know how done it. It’s like that shows snapped. It always surprising to me that you know murderers they keep their mouth shut. You know anything about why they did something and that’s sort of the interesting part and yet it’s so mysterious when they don’t let you know why there are doing, what they are doing as suppose to like in the Rob Zombie movie a lot of people fans that come to convention, they tell me that’s one of things they don’t like is that Rob Zombie kind of explore the psyche and you know the problems that led to Michael Myers becoming who he became, you know. They don’t want to know that. They prefer it to be you know a mystery.

    Uncle Creepy: I mean no matter how you slice it, you definitely find yourself more scared of things you’re not familiar with.

    PJ Soles: Right.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. I mean once you become too familiar with something, it loses all its magic and you know? Once you trade magic for fact, man, there is no trackbacks. You can’t get it back.

    PJ Soles: And you know, Donald Pleasance was trying to call him evil and that’s kind of what is scary about it because it was kind of pure evil. He’s pure evil and pure evil is somebody that acts without remorse and without reason and that’s too horrible.

    Uncle Creepy: Uh-hmm.

    PJ Soles: You can cut off an arm with a chainsaw and you can swing it to the screen or do all kinds of things and that’s horrible too but it’s not as, you know, it’s just something that—I don’t know. Those kind of horror films are fun to watch and I know there’s a lot of people that love the art of it and the fact that they can make something so unreal look so real and that’s part of the allure of that, but I think the original Halloween holds up today because of the fact that it’s an unknown stalker and you know something bad is going to happen and you don’t really know why. There’s no why nor reason.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah and what’s super cool about it is actually in Michael’s portrayal in that movie or the actors who portrayed Michael, I should say. I mean just because he was very blank. Even his body language was just very nondescript.

    PJ Soles: Yes. Right, He’s very stiff and he was an abnormal human being.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. Just the simple head tilt movements. I mean the direction of John Carpenter, it just wow! He created a character that was super scary by being super nondescript and it’s just amazing.

    PJ Soles: Yeah. He kind of always reminds me of when they draw the chalk cutout of the person laying on the ground.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. No, yeah. You’re right.

    PJ Soles: He’s kind of a stiff cutout or almost a half dead person. He seems like he’s half alive.

    Uncle Creepy: And you know how wonderful for you to have participated in this and just to keep being the recipient of all this love, year after year after year.

    PJ Soles: I know it’s like and the most ask question is when you were making Halloween, did you know that it was going to be a successful movie and of course not. Who knew about those things! Especially, we didn’t—back then in the ‘70s—it’s certainly not somebody in my age group just thrilled to have a job and to be able to participate in Debra and John’s vision of independent low budget film that was kind of like, “Oh! This was so cool!” Because they welcomed all our input just with open arms and any kind of improv you wanted to do.

    That bedroom scene that I did with Bob, we really improvised that whole thing. It was written; “And then Bob and Lynda go upstairs”. That’s what the script said and John was very tender and a little bit more nervous than I was in terms of telling me—whatever you want to do just you if you could just flash a little or show something because want to have just a little bit of sexiness but whatever you feel comfortable with.

    Uncle Creepy: It’s just amazing. It really is. Now, I have to ask you other than the normal questions. What I’m really interested in at conventions, you meet so many fans and so many people who just really love what you did in that movie and of course, other films as well but I was just wondering after doing so many conventions and meeting so many fans, what is the one compliment that really touched you the most?

    PJ Soles: Well, there’s been a few. I’m just—an 18-year-old girl so it seemed rock and roll high school and she said that I was her role model through out high school so I said, oh…

    Uncle Creepy: Oh, how cool.

    PJ Soles: I hope that doesn’t mean you wanted to blow up the high school. She goes no it’s just that you were perky and fun and you love your friends and you were just so happy and you’re just having a passion for The Ramones. Then she said I just love that and then I guess, a lot of people come up to me and they’ve seen the movie. I swear like they say a hundred times. I don’t know how can you watch it that often and then they want to take a picture with me and they stand next to me and they’re literally shaking and I just think that, that’s just so sweet and endearing that they’d seen the movie a hundred times and they’re standing now next to what they perceived as Lynda as opposed to PJ and it just gets them so excited and it just—well, it’s touching.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, it has to be and if you want to do…

    PJ Soles: It’s kind of affect is… I was quite still a teenager and they’re like nervous to meet me. It’s just endearing.

    Uncle Creepy: Well, if you want this weekend, I’ll come up to your table and I’ll just stand next to you and shivered just little bit.

    PJ Soles: I mean people have said, you know, I’ve done conventions everywhere and some people have driven like two days to get there. Some people fly in from England or Germany and I’m just amazed, I mean obviously they are to meet other people but they say to me, you’re the one person I really wanted to meet. I’m still glad you’re here and that means so much to me because they want to meet in person somebody who is 30 years older than I was in the movie and yet they just want to say, you know what, I really love your performance, I really liked the movie and that just means the world to me and I wish Jamie Lee would come to a convention or John Carpenter because all this is people just telling them how much they like them, I mean yes they want the autograph. They want to show their friends. Oh my God, I got John Carpenter’s autographs but really what it is is they want to see in person the person that made the kind of fantasy film for them come true and it would be so nice if they would do that.

    Uncle Creepy: And I agree because you know what, I have to say I’ve been in this biz for years and I think Jamie Lee and Carpenter are the only two people I haven’t met.

    PJ Soles: Yeah and a lot of people, I mean I’ve signed a lot of posters and a lot of DVD covers and those two names are always missing and they’re also, especially John the one that benefited financially from it and it would be nice if they would just kind of at this especially 30th anniversary, I don’t think there’s going to be a 35th or a 40th, 30th is, okay, that’s enough. We still kind of the same so we can get away with it but just so often that even though if he didn’t sign autographs, there’ll be such a thrill because people idolized John Carpenter and they just, you know, Jamie has had a long career and a lot of different films and that was the beginning for her and people are just always curious about the beginning.

    Uncle Creepy: You know you can always hope and pray that one day they’ll actually do it because it would make so many people so very happy to finally get the chance to meet them and it would be cool. It really would be.

    PJ Soles: Yeah, what it is when people say that question that I always get asked, did you know what the time, of course not but that’s what makes it so special because John Carpenter was any kid of the block that wanted to make a movie and it wasn’t that he had a dream, Oh my God, I’m going to make this movie and become famous, I know it. He was like just following his instinct and doing his artistic work and so, it would inspire people, encourage people to follow their dreams and do what they want and who knows, it might get lucky and become a franchise like this. I don’t think that’s what he was looking for. I think he was looking to make an artistic film and a successful film but he wasn’t out to make a killing at the box office. I think he really wanted to prove himself as a filmmaker and he did.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, I mean it’s truly lightning in the bottle and no matter how many sequels or remakes or sequels to remakes that come, there’ll only be one Halloween that people really want.

    PJ Soles: That’s true and what a compliment to John that that is the fact that they can copy and they can make as many different movies and they can also be successful like Saw V, I guess this weekend that it did with numbers but everybody always says that the best would always be Halloween that you can’t touch that.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, that’s an amazing movie. Did you see it on Blu-ray?

    PJ Soles: I haven’t. No I haven’t opened my little box so he sent me the little commemorative I should say, little the nice big commemorative 30th Anniversary set. I haven’t opened it yet because it’s just sitting here, it’s sort of like instead of a card pumpkin I have that…

    Uncle Creepy: You know what? If you have a Blu-ray player, do watch the movie because it looks absolutely amazing on Blu-ray.

    PJ Soles: Really?

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. I mean I’m one of those people who have set to that movie countless times and seeing it on Blu-ray, it was almost I came to seeing to it for the first time all over again.

    PJ Soles: What is the change about it makes the color or…

    Uncle Creepy: It’s like everything just jumps off the screen that you run so much it clearer. I mean it really and the sound makes it incredible. It really, really makes a difference and again, it’s like watching those movies for the first time all over again. I mean the picture quality, the vibrancy of the colors, the deepth of the blacks. From a technical standpoint, it’s really quite an achievement.

    PJ Soles: Oh, cool.

    Uncle Creepy: And you know from the fan boy standpoint, it’s fucking great.

    PJ Soles: It’s totally fucking great.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah and I know we’re just about out of time.

    PJ Soles: There’s a Blu-ray in enclosed in this commemorative that I know I think there’s a Blu-ray, the original one, the director’s commentary, the 25 Years of Terror aired documentary and four and five. Are those two the last of the bunch there four and five?

    Uncle Creepy: No.

    PJ Soles: All right, just trying to get rid of those I guess.

    Uncle Creepy: Yes, throw them in there. It’s like a special freature.

    PJ Soles: (Laughing). Yeah, too many those in the warehouse, throw them in there.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah. I’d like to throw them quite a few places actually.

    PJ Soles: (Laughing).

    Uncle Creepy: But anyway, we’re just about out of time and I really want to thank you for stopping by and talking with us a little bit today.

    PJ Soles: Oh, you’re welcome!

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    Thelma Is Fantastic and Now You Can Watch the Opening Scene



    One of this year’s most beautiful and subdued horror films is Joachim Trier’s Thelma (review), which opens in Los Angeles tonight. To give you a bit of what the film is like, The Orchard have released the opening scene, which shows a man and his daughter hunting in the bleak Norwegian winter. When they come across a young deer, the true intentions of this trip become apparent…

    Having seen Thelma, I can tell you that it’s truly something special. It’s a slow burn, to be certain, but it plays out gorgeously, resulting in a film that has yet to leave my mind.

    Related Story: Exclusive Interview with Thelma’s Joachim Trier

    Locations and tickets for Thelma can be found here.

    Thelma, a shy young student, has just left her religious family in a small town on the west coast of Norway to study at a university in Oslo. While at the library one day, she experiences a violent, unexpected seizure. Soon after, she finds herself intensely drawn toward Anja, a beautiful young student who reciprocates Thelma’s powerful attraction. As the semester continues, Thelma becomes increasingly overwhelmed by her intense feelings for Anja – feelings she doesn’t dare acknowledge, even to herself – while at the same time experiencing even more extreme seizures. As it becomes clearer that the seizures are a symptom of inexplicable, often dangerous, supernatural abilities, Thelma is confronted with tragic secrets of her past, and the terrifying implications of her powers.

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    Award-Winning The Child Remains Playing Tomorrow at the Blood in the Snow Festival



    The award-winning supernatural thriller The Child Remains, which has been on the festival circuit, is returning to Canada to play tomorrow night at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto. Tickets for the screening, which is at 9:30pm, can be found at the festival’s website.

    The film has won awards in festivals across Canada as well as Best Foreign Feature at the Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival in London, UK.

    Described as The Shining meets Rosemary’s Baby meets The Orphanage, the film stars Suzanne Clément, Allan Hawco, Shelley Thompson, and Geza Kovacs. Directed and written by Michael Melski, who co-produced the film alongside Craig Cameron and David Miller, The Child Remains is aiming for a Canadian theatrical release in Spring 2018 and a US theatrical release in October 2018.

    An expectant couple’s intimate weekend turns to terror when they discover their secluded country inn is a haunted maternity home where unwanted infants and young mothers were murdered. Inspired by the true story of the infamous ‘Butterbox Babies’ and their macabre chapter in Canadian history, The Child Remains is a twisting supernatural thriller that emphasizes story and suspense over shock and gore.

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    Tony Timpone’s Elegy – AFM: A November to Dismember



    It used to be that the toughest thing about visiting the global cinematic bazaar known as the American Film Market was squeezing in as many movies as humanly possible before your eyes exploded like Cameron Vale’s in Scanners. At this year’s 38th annual AFM, held November 1-8 in Santa Monica, CA, I watched 17 movies in five days. Don’t be too impressed. That’s a big drop from past years, where I’d see as many as two dozen films during that span.

    This year marked my 21st AFM jaunt, and change has been in the air for some time at this industry confab. Two screening days have been shaved off the program, and theater screenings have lost the 5pm and 7pm slots. Much of the Z-grade schlock has been whittled away and there does seem to be a higher level of product on display. No longer does every other movie star Joe Estevez. Now it’s Nicolas Cage! Sales companies feverishly hawked Cage’s VOD-bound Primal, The Humanity Bureau and Looking Glass, in addition to a plethora of cute puppy and sappy Christmas cable-ready movies.

    So where’s the horror, you ask? You can still discover it at AFM, but 2017 offered a disappointing allowance for the most part. To put it into perspective, the opening day of my first AFM in 1998 yielded John Carpenter’s Vampires and Spain’s Abre Los Ojos (remade as the mediocre Vanilla Sky in the US) back-to-back (not to mention The Big Lebowski from the Coen brothers). For 2017, I did not see one film as good as those (well, maybe one…). Not a total washout, mind you, as I’m sure you will add a few titles to your watch list after perusing my AFM 2017 screening report.

    I Kill Giants:
    A lonely teenage girl (Madison Wolfe) defends her coastal town from invading goliaths in this somber tale directed by Denmark’s Anders Walter and written by Joe Kelly from his graphic novel. Not exactly a feel-good movie, I Kill Giants deals with bullying, depression, isolation and terminal illness. It intersperses the somberness with some excellent FX scenes involving the giants, who emerge from the surf and dark woods to taunt our young heroine. Not only is I Kill Giants too downbeat for my tastes, last year’s underrated and underseen A Monster Calls covered many of the same emotional beats much more eloquently and movingly than here.

    ** 1/2

    Spanish helmer Alex del la Iglesia (Day of the Beast, Witching & Bitching) produced this Terry Gilliam-esque dark fantasy, about a cursed medieval-age blacksmith and his battle of wills with a demon out to claim his soul.

    Directed by Paul Urkijo Alijo, the movie is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life. Its climactic trip to Hell stands out as a highlight, pitchforks and all, as do the superb practical makeup FX.


    Bad Samaritan:
    A parking valet (Robert Sheehan) at a ritzy restaurant borrows the patrons’ cars to rob their homes while they’re eating in this thriller directed by Dean (Godzilla) Devlin and written by Brandon (Apt Pupil) Boyce. As he rummages through the house of the arrogant Cale (former “Doctor Who” David Tennant, cast against type and looking like a less seedy Charlie Sheen), valet Sean discovers an imprisoned woman, the waiting victim of the rich serial killer. The cops don’t believe the robber, but the bad guy catches onto him and soon begins destroying Sean’s life and those around him. Though Bad Samaritan builds some good suspense and remains moderately gripping, Devlin (late of the embarrassing Geostorm, which Irishman Sheehan also appeared in) is no Hitchcock. And at 107 minutes, the movie overstays its welcome.

    ** 1/2

    Anna and the Apocalypse:
    Christmas, teenagers, music and zombies… Anna and the Apocalypse has it all. As the snow falls and Yuletide cheer builds, a living dead outbreak hits the quaint British town of Little Haven. Can teen Anna (Intruders’ Ella Hunt) and her friends make it to their high school auditorium for presumed safety? Well, they’ll try, singing and dancing (and bashing in undead heads) along the way. OK, so the movie’s cute and a raucous scene of zombie mayhem in a bowling alley scores a strike, but the problem with Anna is the songs just aren’t that memorable. Where’s Richard O’Brien when you need him?

    ** 1/2

    Incident in a Ghost Land:
    Writer/director Pascal Laugier took our breath away with his vicious Martyrs in 2008, but 2012’s underrated The Tall Man garnered little notice. Packing a ’70s horror vibe, his latest recaptures some of Martyrs’ uncomfortable female-inflicted brutality. Two young sisters and their mom head to a remote family house, which is soon invaded by two ruthless psychos. Though the story echoes Tourist Trap and High Tension, Laugier pulls the rug out from us at a key point and takes us down an even darker path. I wish the villains had a little more depth here, but In a Ghost Land has enough shock and thrills to satisfy fright fans.


    Cold Skin

    Cold Skin:
    Laugier’s fellow extreme Frenchmen, Xavier Gens, terrorized us with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre pastiche Frontier(s) in 2007 and explored postapocalyptic horror in The Divide (2011). Now he tries his hand at a Jules Verne-style creature feature. In the early 20th century, a weather observer (David Oakes) arrives for a year-long assignment at an isolated island near the Antarctic Circle where he meets the misanthropic lighthouse keeper (Ray Stevenson). A race of pale-skinned fish people dwells in the seas and raids the island at night in several bravura action set pieces, their motive unknown. The real threat here may be Stevenson, who keeps one of the creatures as a pet/sex slave. Gens plays the story like a fable, but ultimately I had a hard time warming up to Cold Skin. Where the movie succeeds is in the creature FX and photography departments.


    Let the Corpses Tan:
    French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani won over the horror arthouse crowd with their giallo tributes Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. Their latest flashy exercise tackles the much-loved Italian Spaghetti Western genre, but relocates the story to modern day and a Mediterranean hilltop villa. A gold-robbing gang holes up in the scenic, sun-drenched location, with a woman artist and her friends get caught in the crossfire when two cops arrive. The filmmakers do a fine job of paying homage to Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone here, but we’re talking style over substance. None of the characters really pops, and the whole thing grows a little tiresome. Fans of Cattet and Forzani and arty shootouts will still dig it.

    ** 1/2

    After the weekly US shooting sprees of Vegas and Texas, this was the last movie I wanted to embrace. A group of friends find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after a sniper cripples their car. Said sniper then begins blasting away at the college kids in graphic fashion, brains splattering the asphalt in gruesome close-up. Director Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Versus) does some flashy camera things, but the movie is so damn mean-spirited that it just left a bad taste in my mouth. The lowdown on Downrange: the story’s not very plausible nor the characters very likable.

    * 1/2

    Ghost Stories:
    Just when I gave up on AFM 2017, the last movie screening I attended turned out to be not only the best genre film of the market but one of the best of the year period (IFC releases Ghost Stories next April). Supernatural debunker Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman, who co-wrote and co-directed with Jeremy Dyson) examines three extreme hauntings which just might make a believer out of him. Adapting their successful London play, Nyman and Dyson riff on past British horror anthologies Dead of Night and the ’70s Amicus flicks, but with a modern sensibility. Ghost Stories achieves its scares with class and distinction, as well as terrific makeup FX and a memorable supporting turn by The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman.

    This one will send you out singing too; the “Monster Mash” plays over the end credits!

    *** 1/2

    So even though this year’s AFM was a bust, you will likely spot me canvassing those comfy Santa Monica theaters (kudos for solid projection, luxurious seating and friendly staff at the Arclight, AMC, Broadway and Laemmle) again next fall. On the market and festival beat, hope springs eternal!

    For more information on the AFM, go to

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