Haunters: The Art of the Scare (Fantastic Fest Review): Venturing Into the Darker Side of Humanity - Dread Central
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Haunters: The Art of the Scare (Fantastic Fest Review): Venturing Into the Darker Side of Humanity

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Starring Jason Blum, McKenzie Westmore, Slash, Jen Soska, Jessica Cameron

Directed by Jon Schnitzer


Haunters: The Art of the Scare isn’t really about the joy of crafting haunted houses and embracing the spirit of Halloween; it’s main focus is to ask if some of these attractions are now too extreme. Seeing the film at Fantastic Fest which is filled to the brim with passionate, good-natured horror fans, some of the subjects in Jon Schnitzer’s documentary don’t reflect that love of horror and don’t appear to care whom they harm in the process. Although there are some positive examples documented in Haunters, don’t expect a film that delves into what scares us on a fundamental level. This is more of an exploration into how some haunts can bring out the darker side of human nature.

How far is too far? The more established companies and personalities like John Murdy from Universal’s incredible Halloween Horror Nights know where the line is. They’re responsible and work within a budget with professionals that know how to scare the hell out of you in a safe environment. Their expertise is to make it appear that you’re in a dangerous situation without actually putting you in harm’s way.

When Haunters focus is on these men and women and people in the industry like Jason Blum and the Soska sisters, there’s a real sense of fun that should be associated with this time of year. It’s when its eye shifts to the homegrown suburban haunts leaning more towards the extreme that things turn sinister. But there is a middle ground between the family friendly boo-scare experience and the “we’re going to mentally and physically scar you for life” variation.

Josh Randall’s Blackout is probably the most infamous interactive horror experience currently, mainly because of its premise of sending patrons, one at a time, through an intense maze in pitch black darkness. (I’ve done Blackout twice in New York City, and don’t plan on doing it again). Randall speaks about Blackout during the film and shows how you can walk right up to the edge but still respect your audience. The point where Haunters began to get under my skin, personally, was due to one man and his neverending quest to be the most despicable person in the haunt game.

Russ McKarney runs an extreme attraction out of his house where he hand selects applicants to be physically abused while he videotapes them for his YouTube channel. Most of the people shown here realize they are in way over their heads but the abuse only increases when they start to beg for them to stop. McKamey spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to create this inhumane hellmouth and the construction is usually not up to code, as seen multiple times throughout the movie. He’s a sick individual and thanks to this documentary everyone can see for themselves what a complete maniacal douchebag he is.

Haunters doesn’t answer the question of what is too extreme, that’s ultimately up for you to decide. Highlighting someone like Donald Julson who creates a more traditional haunted house every year shows how an amature, DIY approach can be rewarding and positive for everyone involved (even if it does hit your wallet and test your relationship at times).

The real question asked is why the line is continuing to move towards the extreme? In any case, it’s less imaginative just to up the intensity level instead of building new practical effects that help create a more immersive form of escapism. Surprisingly, you may come out with a lot of mixed emotions after seeing this as well as asking yourself where does the love of horror stop and the enjoyment of inflicting pain on others begin. Haunters probably won’t make you want to visit a haunted house this October; in fact, it might even make you a little angry.

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User Rating 3.67 (21 votes)

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Zena’s Period Blood: Dying for a DEAD END

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It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”

“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.

How do you turn $900,000 into $77,000,000? Offer directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa the initial amount and give them the freedom to let their minds wander. In 2003, both directors accomplished this unimaginable feat with Dead End. Under the clouds of a small budget, typical poster and insubstantial trailer, most viewers forecasted one long stretch of boredom. However, 15 minutes in and I was as hooked as a pervert in a strip club with his tax refund money. In 83 minutes, the movie unravels and exposes intelligent craftsmanship with story, acting and location, introducing us to the Harrington family and their demise.

After 20 years following the same route, Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) decides to take his family down a shortcut to his in-laws home during Christmas Eve. Wife Laura (Lin Shaye) sings in the passenger seat, serving as the optimistic family unifier who is often ignored by her husband and children. Behind Frank is their oldest child Marion (Alexandra Holden), unnervingly sheltered under the arm of her soon-to-be fiancé, Brad. And forever mom’s favorite boy is Richard (Mick Cain), who rocks out to Marilyn Manson blaring in his headphones. After this brief introduction to the characters and their distinct personalities, we witness everyone fall asleep, including Frank, who refuses to let anyone else drive.

Several seconds pass before the Jeep Wagoneer veers into the opposite lane. Gradually, a honk pleads from an approaching car, startling the Harrington family and forcing Frank to fight with the wheel until he brings the Jeep to a stop. Wide-awake, the family begins to move forward, now entrapped on a new, never-ending road.

I could elaborate on so many scary details in the movie, but the never-ending road stands out the most. What makes it worse is that there are signs for a town called Marcott, with an arrow indicating the town is straight ahead. But the Harringtons never reach the town. This scares me because I believe that every human being has a mental list of things they are scared of or things they should keep an eye out for in certain situations. Unfortunately, this movie exists to expand that list. What sucks for me is that my husband likes taking back roads. Because I strive to have a happy marriage and a peaceful death, I usually fall asleep to avoid an argument and the grim reaper, both of which usually exist on these particular roads. However, I never imagined that a back road could become a never-ending road. Man that would suck!

Speaking of never-ending, the directors became devils of discomfort by never really showing the deceased’s mutilated body, leaving your brain struggling to piece together the unseen image long after the movie ends. Throughout the movie, the family and Brad are picked off one by one. We mainly suffer these devatations through the reactions of the family members that are still alive, sometimes witnessing them lift a severed ear or caress a charred hand. This movie taught me that I can still taste bile at the back of my throat when a mutilation is suggested rather than shown.

Directors Andrea and Canepa accomplished greatness in Dead End with little time and little money. It is a testament that imagination coupled with skill is the true combination to capturing a big budget feel. I hope that all the individuals behind this movie have a long, never-ending road ahead of them because they have delivered brilliance to the world. This is a good horror. Point blank. Period.


In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.

 


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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 164 – THE CLEANSE

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The Master Cleanse

Wait no longer, boils and ghouls! Today is the day you’ve been waiting for; today is the day we sink our teeth into 2018’s The Cleanse! What’s that? You’ve never heard of The Cleanse?! Well, neither had we, but horror releases are slim pickings right now, so we take what we can get. At least we can all agree that we’ve been dying to see Johnny Galecki in something other than Big Bang Theory, right? No? Well, fuck. Here’s an episode about his new movie anyway. What are we even doing?

It was crazy of me to think I could help the police, but I’m going to keep researching, keep writing, there are stories that need to be told, so… here’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 164!

If you enjoy the show, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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GIRLS NIGHT 2 Review – A Terrifying Halloween Treat

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Starring Marina De Sousa, Vincent Conty

Directed by David Teixeira


If you love Halloween as much as I do, you probably also love horror films that take place on Halloween. French Writer/Director David Teixeira uses Halloween as the backdrop for his eerie short horror film Girls Night, which we reviewed here. The film tells the story of three friends who decide to play Bloody Mary and end up butchered by a creepy masked killer. Filmmaker Teixeira skillfully uses atmosphere and impressive cinematography to heighten the scares.

Teixeira is back with Girls Night 2 which will be released in October just in time for Halloween. The only survivor of the massacre, Jess (Marina De Sousa), is suffering from nightmares and insomnia because she was blamed for the murder of her friends. It’s a year later and Halloween and she is staying with Pierre (Vincent Conty). To calm Jess’s nerves they decide to watch a short film their friend David (David Teixeira) made, but Jess can’t stay awake. In her dreams the masked killer is back and wielding a pair of scissors. The film ends in utter confusion and a bloody mess. Is it real or is it a dream and who is the killer? You’ll have to watch the short to find out.

The performances are strong and believable and actress Marina De Sousa is remarkable as Jess. Like the original, Girls Night 2 delivers an exciting amount of intensity and panic in only around thirteen minutes. I highly suggest experiencing both of these short films while wearing headphones to really amp up the terror. Girls Night 2 is currently a semi-finalist at Los Angeles Cinefest and winner for Best Foreign Film at the $2 Dollar Film Festival. The award winning short film Girls Night is available on YouTube and you can watch the Girls Night 2 teaser trailer below.

  • Girls Night 2
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Girls Night 2 delivers an impressive amount of intense scares worthy of a feature length film in just under thirteen minutes.

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User Rating 5 (1 vote)

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