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John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night Vol. 3 (Graphic Novel)

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By John Carpenter, Sandy King and Legendary Comic Industry Talent

Published By Storm King Productions


Oh, the beautiful times when you could expect John Carpenter to bust out a movie every few years or so. Sadly, we haven’t gotten a Carpenter flick since 2010’s The Ward, but he’s been excelling with his comic books courtesy of Storm King Productions!

Longtime collaborator and wife Sandy King helped John bring us a heaven vs hell epic in their book Asylum. Their next project was an annual anthology series entitled Tales For A Halloween Night. This year’s release,Volume 3, clocks in at 178 pages of terror!

The past two volumes had the Groundskeeper, written each time by 30 Days of Night’s Steve Niles, in the same stance and pose for one page in between each story giving you a little intro to each tale. This volume has different little interludes for the Groundskeeper doing both an intro and outro to each story that makes the read a little more exciting. He’s got a little schtick he does each time, and you can’t help but hear the voice of Tom Savini’s Creeper from Creepshow 2.

Carpenter brings us the first story entitled “The Awakening.” The Groundskeeper intros the story while holding a copy of Carpenter and King’s Asylum which is very fitting considering the story that follows. Carpenter loves calling bullshit on people, and here he targets faith healers and their get-rich-quick schemes. When the faith healers have to deal with true devilry, it takes absolute faith to conquer the problem. In Carpenter fashion, no one is free from sin! It’s a quick, fun story with some great accompanying artwork that really shows off the corruption of most of the people in the story.

“Where The Heart Was” brings us a story from cult icon David J. Schow and art by Darick Robertson. Schow’s credits include The Crow and The Hills Run Red. Robertson is known for a lot of Marvel and DC work but he also delivered the art for the greatest superhero political satire of all time, Garth Ennis’s The Boys. This duo delivers a perfect storm of a classic EC Comics-style story about a jaded lover who just won’t stay dead. It’s sarcastic, horrifying, and is drenched in sleaze that is highlighted by the art style. This one was a true joy to read.

“Bug” is written by legendary writer Louise Simonson, who co-created Apocalypse, Arch Angel and Cable of the X-Men series. “Bug” reads kind of like a werewolf movie in space with a crew from the Alien movies. It’s a really cool concept and fun read, but it’s mostly a lot of technical world building jargin that leads up to a small pay off.

“Indivisible”, written by Joe Harriss and illustrated by Greg Scott, is probably the most controversial story in the book. I wouldn’t be surprised if its Carpenter’s favorite, as it takes the old spirit of Carpenter’s unease with the government and his love of political horror to the next degree. Dealing with a small town of bigots that seem to worship a cult, it plays on modern day fears and feels a bit like Kevin Smith’s Red State. My only complaint is how short it feels. It builds quickly and doesn’t really answer much. Felipe Sobreiro, who has given us some of the most original artwork for both Marvel’s Ghost Rider and Image’s Strange Talent of Luthor Strode, does the coloring on this one and it is hauntingly brilliant as you watch the color scheme change throughout the story.

“The Captive” is written by television writer Amanda Deibert and is a great little thriller that feels similar to Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game. It’s a brief story, but with the amount of changes that happen in its time frame it’s a roller coaster ride . Cat Staggs, who’s worked for both Lucasfilm and DC, paints the panels very beautifully yet very ugly, capturing the ultimate date night from hell.

“Tricksy Treat”, written and illustrated by Richard P. Clark, is a super fun story that feels like it could be a segment from Tales of Halloween. My favorite thing about this story is its ability to balance its light heartedness with how mean spirited it can be. Kid goes trick-or-treating with his folks and accidentally brings home a crazy monster. What’s not to love?

“36 Baron Street” is written by the co-creator of the Groundskeeper, Steven Hoveke. It’s a pretty simple haunted house story with a pair of cops that tell an urban legend about the house as they investigate it. Not a bad story, but not as original as some of Hoveke’s previous entries in the series, and not the most original in this volume.

“True North” by James Ninness, who wrote on the last two Tales books and John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction, delivers hands-down the weirdest story within this volume. It’s a sci-fi tale about a missing girl in a future society and the detective that tracks her down. There are little monsters in it, frozen people, and apps for basic living, but in all honesty I can’t tell you what’s going on in this one. It just feels like too much to fit in the time allotted. I wouldn’t mind seeing this one fleshed out into its own series just to explore the world, because its layout and visuals are really crazy and interesting.

“The Replacement”, with art by Richard P Clark and written by Duane Scwerzynski, is hands down my favorite story in the book.  It’s not entirely horror-related, but the basic premise is about a future where, if you kill someone, you must take their place. A drunk man runs over a college girl and then must assimilate into the dead girl’s life as her. It’s dark, twisted, ridiculous, and funny as hell at times. It’s probably one of the strangest yet fun things I’ve ever read.

“Visitation Rights”, by Keanlan Patrick Burke and Trevor Denham, is probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever read. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just depressing as all hell. Burke, to my knowledge, only writes novels with the exception of this anthology. This story is written like a novel, through the eyes of a father trying to give his two daughters a good christmas. Burke describes every emotion and moment in full detail with passages of text rather than word balloons, giving Denham the ability to blast the pages with dark colors and shapes of despair rather than the normal sequential artwork. Each page feels like the cover to a book and reads in utter heartbreak. It’s a damn good story but very harsh to read after “The Replacement.”

Finally, Sandy King brings in her genius of storytelling to round out the book perfectly in “Everlasting Peace.” A bunch of kids go into a haunted mansion on a dare only to discover the inhabitants are some pretty prominent figures in the world of horror, long deceased and ready to kill anyone who disturbs their peace. It’s such a fun take on these people and what their ghosts would be doing that it makes this perfect story to round out the book.

Volume 3 is an excellent addition to the previous Tales. This time around I completely enjoyed all but three of the stories, but the ones I did enjoy were so damn good it didn’t matter. A definite buy for your collection, so be sure to stop in your local comic shop and pick it up OCT 4th!

4.0
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, 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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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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