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Hack/Slash: Comic Book Carnage (Comic Book)

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Written by Tim Seeley

Published by Devil’s Due


Horror teaches us grim, sometimes harsh, lessons. Don’t investigate strange noises. Avoid picking up hitchhikers. Menstruation’s bad. And, sequels get sloppier the higher in number they go. Look no further than the slasher category for this verity. Michael Myers? He became the bitch of some cult in the Halloween franchise. And Voorhees? Reduced to infancy in a pool of sludge beneath the streets of New York; and two movies later was thrown into space! What?! The same rule applies to horror comics too. That’s right, they’re not immune to the curse, kiddo. I won’t name names, but with so many horror titles out there you can throw an axe and easily hit one series that’s on the decline.

Hack/Slash, I’ll tell ya, ain’t one of those titles.

Entering its third 48-page special (after far too long a wait and Girls Gone Dead), Hack/Slash: Comic Book Carnage is sloppy. In fact, it’s probably the sloppiest Cassie Hack adventure we’ve seen from Tim Seeley since his slasher-huntin’ gal made her introduction to horror fans in Euthanized – it’s sloppy in the grue quotient not quality, of course, with hacked heads, fiendish imps and dead comic book celebrities galore! And we all love them fiendish imps, right? This time Cassie and Vlad are drawn to the Whizzer World Con in Philadelphia where the founders of Young Buck Entertainment (?!) – Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Skottie Young (Venom), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Messy Stench (MessyStench.com) – are in the process of relaunching an old pulp superhero with a darker edge. Fanboys being fanboys, not everyone’s too hip to the idea. The body count begins with Niles’ demise ala Janet Leigh, but can Cassie stop his killer before each member of the Young Buck team fall under the knife?

Any time you get a writer (and this is no groundbreaking revelation) setting his or her story in a world he or she truly knows, there’s nothing but great results to be had. Seeley has a ball pushing his heroine through the geek scene, an environment he – and I’m sure all of us – is probably familiar with all too well. The convention circuit is one that invites all sorts of freaks to come along for a ride, and in Comic Book Carnage you literally get an introduction to them all, from the 30 Days of Night-quoting Internet fiend to those lonely fellas out there who need to have a snapshot taken of them with every hot chick who wouldn’t normally give them the time of day if they weren’t getting paid to be there. Cassie’s reactions to her surroundings are priceless and Seeley sheds another layer of the innocently simple, but curiously complex, mind of Vlad as we witness the lovable brute connecting with Kirkman over some childhood similarities. In-jokes, homages and other sight gags pack each page (Cassie’s Death By Boobjob 2 viewing experience breakdown is a good ‘un) not leaving us much breathing room to gain heavy insight into the minds of our leads. When the moments come – whether it’s when Cassie’s in the tub (ahem, thank you) or after she’s almost being strangled by entrails – they’re often bittersweet and reflective enough to keep us satisfied until the next issue.

It goes without saying that Federica Manfredi – who cut her teeth on Hack/Slash in Girls Gone Dead – continues to make my jaw drop in the art department. Her strength lies in the eyes; she’s also pretty damn fine at making the blood spill, which there is a lot of and will appease the gorehounds. I get the feeling, though, we’re in for a freakin’ massacre when Evil Ernie and Cassie cross paths in June.

If you haven’t discovered Hack/Slash yet, there’s no stranger, more hilarious, more macabre place to start than with Comic Book Carnage (other than busting your ass to get the first two issues). It’s a sequel worthy of attention and we all know in this genre that’s a rarity and an achievement in and of itself.


4 1/2 out of 5

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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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