<![CDATA[horrorigins.com - Articles]]>Fri, 03 Jul 2020 20:47:39 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Shirley {Book & Film Review}]]>Fri, 03 Jul 2020 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/shirley-book-film-review
Movie or book? That is always the question when Hollywood chooses to turn a beloved novel into a movie. Some adaptations have been delivered nicely; I won’t say flawlessly because let’s be honest, that’s never happened! Today one adaptation we will be talking about is the movie Shirley, based on the novel by Susan Scarf Merrill.
First, I want to give some personal background information. In November of 2019, I discovered The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. I remember being in a trance after reading it. I was feeling many emotions. The story starts out so peaceful and quiet then morphs into straight madness all in the name of tradition. It is gloriously horrific! It was pure brilliance and a story that sticks with you. I posted about the story on Facebook, and about ¾ of my friends list commented. It was one of the best social media conversations I have ever had. It showed the brilliance and lasting impressions of Shirley’s writing.

I found myself ecstatic to take on reading Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrill and was even more elated to discover that there is now a movie based on said book. I struggled with what to do first; read or watch? It’s always a tough choice because you know that there will be differences. I settled on reading first, and I am so glad that I did.

Before we get to what was better and why, I will say that I honestly took longer to read the book than normal because I found myself researching Shirley Jackson. I wanted to know what truths the book held and what was fiction as I read. I would read a chapter or two and find myself researching. Merrill did a fascinating job at capturing the life of Shirley and her family. Though Shirley could be removed, I still felt connected to Merrill’s character, and it really made me understand why Shirley wrote The Lottery. Merrill created a story with many beautiful layers. The narrator of the story is not a factual person, but she is the key piece of putting together who Shirley Jackson was, not only as an author, but as a person, a wife, a mother, and in the case of this story, a friend.

So, it should come as no surprise that I loved the book more. There was just more there to dive into. You got a clearer picture of Shirley Jackson from the book than the movie. I got more of the thriller/psychological aspect from the book than the movie. I feel they didn’t focus enough on the thriller part of the story, and so the movie didn’t hold much interest for me. It was oversexualized and focused more on one of Shirley’s novels, Hangsaman. I haven’t had the chance to read the story but I researched and discovered that the story was inspired by the disappearance of a young girl. Now the book also talks about this young woman but turns it into real time. I do not want to divulge too much here because you really need to read the story and discover this for yourself. Yup, that’s right. I am going to keep some information a mystery because the beauty of reading is discovery.

The one thing that the book had that really drew me in was that it wasn’t necessarily a book about Shirley, but more a book about women/girls like Shirley. The lost girls of the world. The girls that are not seen, that do not really have a place in the world. Rose and Shirley were a lot alike and in other ways very different. Shirley and Rose came from families that didn’t show much affection. Both women had to fight their own respective battles, but it's how those battles shaped them that made them different. The movie didn’t touch on this at all, and I felt this was crucial in understanding Shirley and just why Susan was inspired to write about her in the first place.
The movie takes place in 1948 and the book in 1964, so that is another major difference that just didn’t sit right with me. I know movies are ‘based’ on a book and there are things that will be rearranged, but they just moved too much around and really took out so much that gave the book its personality. In all honesty if I had seen the movie first, I don’t think I would’ve wanted to bother with the book. It’s so thrilling for me sometimes to have books turned into movies, but when there are vast differences, it just kills that magic.

I will say that the cast though did wonderfully in their roles. Elisabeth Moss was a perfect Shirley, and I couldn’t picture anyone better for the role. She really captured the many “manic” moods that Shirley had. She could switch at the drop of a word and you didn’t know what you were going to get. Odessa Young as Rose really complimented Moss, and I could see and feel the friendship between the two women as much as I felt it in the book. They are the shining stars of the movie.

To rate each, I will give the book Shirley by Merrill a 5-star rating with no doubt. I was mesmerized and loved this book from the beginning to the end. As for the movie it’s a little harder. Moss and Young were brilliant, and for their performances alone I say a 5-star. But the movie I will say I can’t give more than a 3-star. I can say they delivered the psychological side of the book perfectly, but there was too much missing for me that I loved about the book that was just completely absent from the movie.​​

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Author

Patricia is a mom of 4 who has always loved to escape into the pages of a good book! Not picky about genre just looking for a great escape and a good read! She is also an English teacher and enjoys sharing her love of the written word with her students and colleagues!

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<![CDATA[Stake Land: Vampires, Road Trips, and the Apocalypse {Movie Review}]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2020 07:11:49 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/stake-land-vampires-road-trips-and-the-apocalypse-movie-review
Dark Sky Films is “the little engine that could” of the horror scene. Over the last decade, this team has been involved in distributing indie horror gems, continuing the grand tradition of exhibiting the work of promising new talents. They’re the A24 of horror, minus the social media campaign (sadly that’s pretty bare bones). But if you see their logo, you know you’re in for some good old genre twisting: haunted houses, werewolves, axe maniacs, and vampires of course.
Enter the actor/writer Nick Damici, a New York character actor taken to writing his own scripts after getting tired of typecasting. After teaming up with his friend, director Jim Mickle, to co-write Mickle’s urban rage virus film, Mulberry Street, they brainstormed ideas for a web series, Stake Land, about a lone outlaw in a vampire-invested wasteland. With encouragement from another indie horror icon, Larry Fessenden, they agreed to turn it into a feature if Fessenden produced it. With Mickle directing and Damici the only choice for the lead, Stake Land was off.

The film follows a teenager, Martin, played by Gossip Girl’s Connor Paolo, who’s family is killed off by feral vampires. Almost killed himself in the attack, he’s rescued by Damici’s character, simply known as Mister, your John Wayne-esque lone wolf. We’re never really given insight into the pandemic that caused the vampirism, but it’s been long enough that society has collapsed. Martin joins Mister on his quest up north to a mysterious settlement known only as “New Eden,” this being humanity’s only salvation. Along the way, the two meet and lose allies, run afoul from vamps, encounter a dangerous cult, and journey through the remaining towns of the American Northeast.
That’s the basic plot of the film in a nutshell; it combines the better elements of a road indie with a survival film. It’s amazing what the crew was able to accomplish on a $625,000 budget. Mickle channels his inner Robert Rodriguez: directing, writing, editing, and adding his own visual effects. This all culminates in a stand out long take: an unseen helicopter of lens-flare and sound effects, and moves over three locations. Damici, aside from his High Plains Drifter style performance, also acted as his own costumer and weapons designer. Finally, Jeff Grace, a frequent composer for Larry Fessenden and Ti West, creates a haunting, melancholic score that carries the film through its 98-minute runtime.

Due to the road movie style, we don’t really focus on more characters than our two leads. Connor Paolo uses his youthful appearance to his advantage (this role was probably written for a younger actor). We see him go from a wide-eyed kid in need of rescue to a capable survivor and eventually the torch bearer of the narrative. Top Gun’s Kelly McGillis was actually brought out of a decade’s long hiatus to play a traveling nun whom the duo rescues and she becomes an emotional center for the film. Scream Queen, Danielle Harris, right out of Rob Zombie’s Halloween films and starting her recurring lead role in Adam Green’s Hatchet sequels, gives one of the best performances in her career. Finally, Fringe’s Michael Cerveris rounds out the major cast as the villainous Jebedia Loven, the sadistic cult leader who poses a bigger threat than the film lets on. Producer, Larry Fessenden, has a cameo as a bartender, as is tradition in his projects.
Finally, we have the design of the vampires, which clearly take inspiration from Gary Oldman’s final form in Dracula. They are very bat-like, with pronounced foreheads and sunk in noses. Make no mistake about it, they’re not zombies, as we see them behave with wolf pack instincts. Their involvement even leads to some good world building when we see them begin to evolve.

Stake Land is a film that I highly recommend as both a watch and one to own. This is a film worth investing in for the bonus features to see how it was made on such a small budget, along with seven short films that were released for promotion (They’re also available on Dark Sky’s YouTube channel). The initial release was bad timing, coming out a year after Zombieland, and a mere month before the series premiere of The Walking Dead. However, the film was the winner of the 2010 Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness award, and has proved successful enough to warrant a sequel in 2016, The Stakelander, with Mickle and Damici returning to write. Mickle has gone on to have a rising career, adapting the works of Joe R. Lansdale for film and television, and directing last year’s In the Shadow of the Moon for Netflix. Damici has also continued writing and acting in genre fare, including taking on werewolves in the 2014 film, Late Phases, and co-writing the Dave Bautista action vehicle, Bushwick.

Stake Land marked the beginning of a great decade for Dark Sky Films. Even if the world is ending around us, Dark Sky is still giving us quality horror when we need it the most. Stay sharp.

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Author

Alex Ayres is filmmaker and writer based in Atlanta, GA. An avid genre fan overall, he started his love of horror at age 13, diving head first down the rabbit hole and has not looked back since.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in film and creative writing, Alex has a steady background in screenwriting, having written multiple short and feature screenplays. His most recent screenplay 6/09 has been accepted into various film festivals and writing competitions around the country, winning best comedy at the Austin After Dark Film Fest in 2019. His short screenplay Soup’s On is currently in early stages of pre-production.
When not spent hunched over at his laptop on his third cup of coffee, Alex works as a non-union set worker on various productions in Atlanta, primarily as a Set PA, 2nd AC, Boom-Op, and Extra. In time, Alex will pursue his Master’s in screenwriting. Making film and teaching film is a life-long goal that he’s going the distance with.
Alex was a volunteer with HorrOrigins during its inaugural film festivaland is excited to participate further in curating a gruesome and fun time for Fright-Knights and Ghouls.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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<![CDATA[Climax: Art and Animals {Movie Review}]]>Wed, 01 Jul 2020 16:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/climax-art-and-animals-movie-review
The term cinematic super villain is one I’ve been throwing around for a while. Every so often, there comes a filmmaker that makes uncompromisingly dark, shocking, and provocative material that leaves an impact on the viewer. Then, they never stop; they make a career out of showing up out of the blue with a new, devilish feature. This isn’t the exploitation scene. No, these are the film festival darlings that thoughtfully mirror the moral bankruptcy in our world, directors along the lines of Abel Ferrara, Larry Clark, Lars Von Trier, Michael Haneke, among others. They don’t hide that they’re the “bad guys” and we the viewer begin to root for them, or we at least better brace ourselves for what we’re getting into. Sometimes these directors make horror films, and yet, some of the scariest films aren’t even classified as horror. Enter director, Gaspar Noe.
The French Argentinian is definitely the wild card of this Legion of Doom, having a short, but impactful filmography of only five features. Over his career, he basically made his goal to all but physically injure his audience, making frequent use of heavy strobing, low frequency soundtracks to deliberately induce nausea and dark, grimy color grading. Noe is a gleefully sadistic William Castle of a showman who dares you to keep watching (he’s even experimented with 3D for his film Love in 2015). Noe has found a way to reverse engineer these classic visual funhouse tropes into a psychological horror show. His most recent film, Climax, is no exception. Here’s a film that came out of nowhere production-wise. It was basically announced in late November 2017, cast by the end of January 2018, filmed over 15 days, and released at Cannes that May. That rivals the Asylum right there; maybe they should be taking notes.

The film opens with interview tapes of the cast members, all, but one, played by non-actors, dancers who were scouted out by the director from their social media presence alone. It’s a pretty interesting way to get us hooked in, as well as accept the performers (whether we realize it or not) as they are left to improvise the script, thus revealing their personalities early on. We watch these tapes on a 90's TV surrounded by VHS covers of films that Noe used as influence, a way to let us know what we’re delving into.

Climax opens proper in 1996 (yes, this is a period piece) with all the dancers locked down in a school somewhere, mid rehearsal, in a five minute long take. The camera pretty much just sits back and observes as each performer marches in, in a beautifully choreographed sequence. It’s fluid and hypnotic, drawing you in; you can’t take your eyes off the movements on the screen. There’s a feeling that these characters, though they have just started working together, already have chemistry and camaraderie. The day wraps, and an after party commences giving everyone a chance to unwind and mingle; the troupe leader even made sangria to celebrate. Letting loose, the dancers spread out into groups and gossip with each other, showing that they’re not as close as the dance leads us to believe.
As the party goes on, something goes wrong; everyone is noticing confusion and agitation. The sangria was spiked with LSD and it kicks in like a freight train. The group quickly transforms into a lynch mob at the snap of a finger, turning on anyone who wasn’t previously drinking. Thus begins the trip sequence, a 42-minute-long take in which the audience watches everyone spiral out of control, with all previous grievances fueling the chaos. 

[TRIGGER WARNING and SPOILER WARNING]

The audience is just left to observe. We don’t get to see any of the dancers’ points of view. We’re just left to watch them contort, convulse, and lash out at one another. Early on, we’re shown the troupe leader’s young son sneaking sips of the sangria, a knot forming in our gut as we wait to see what kind of fate awaits this kid. He meets a bad end to say the least, but surprisingly not in a way we’d expect. With all the onscreen horror we see of self-harm, hair being set on fire, attempted incest, and attacking a pregnant member, it’s surprising and all the more devastating when the child dies off screen.

The whole sequence is one massive gut punch after the other, with the characters devolving further into Lord of the Flies on bath salts. The whole trip breaks as the remaining dancers, in the now darkened main hall, thrash and contort around nightmarishly. The dancing we were lured in with at the beginning becomes nerve-wracking as we watch them painfully pull their bodies to their limits, all set to the manic strobe lighting and Daft Punk soundtrack. It might actually leave you scared to go to a rave, to say the least. The film ends with a “come down” as we get a glimpse of the next morning. The school looks like a warzone. No one is left unscathed, and everyone is still. Well, except for the one who spiked the drinks.
Climax is unconventional in its approach to a horror film. It goes beyond the anguish of witnessing that one friend at the party who had too much to drink and started a fight. We’re basically watching a focus group experiment go horribly wrong, but the result is still achieved. The film does look amazing though. Long takes are never easy, but cinematographer Benoît Debie always makes them look effortless. The camera goes from dancing with and around the performers to standing back in the corner, powerless to stop what’s happening. Performances are hard to nail down, and a good portion is just the physical marvel of the choreography. The closest person we have to a lead is Selva, played by Sophia Boutella, the only performer with a solid acting background. Otherwise, it’s a marvel that all the non-actors involved came through. Although you won’t remember most of their names, they all deliver solid improv.

I was pretty out of it after watching Climax on first viewing. I went in knowing I was going to have a “unique” time with this one, and I can’t say I was disappointed or underwhelmed at any point. Over the last year since its wide release, I’ve found myself watching it a few more times, which is more than expected. This isn’t an easy film to recommend; you can’t watch this with your parents or on a date that’s for sure. Somehow, I still find myself drawn back to Climax for another go. Is this how addiction starts? Maybe I have a problem. Have I become the dealer pushing you to take a hit? Well, all I can say is have a nice trip.

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Author

Alex Ayres is filmmaker and writer based in Atlanta, GA. An avid genre fan overall, he started his love of horror at age 13, diving head first down the rabbit hole and has not looked back since.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in film and creative writing, Alex has a steady background in screenwriting, having written multiple short and feature screenplays. His most recent screenplay 6/09 has been accepted into various film festivals and writing competitions around the country, winning best comedy at the Austin After Dark Film Fest in 2019. His short screenplay Soup’s On is currently in early stages of pre-production.
When not spent hunched over at his laptop on his third cup of coffee, Alex works as a non-union set worker on various productions in Atlanta, primarily as a Set PA, 2nd AC, Boom-Op, and Extra. In time, Alex will pursue his Master’s in screenwriting. Making film and teaching film is a life-long goal that he’s going the distance with.
Alex was a volunteer with HorrOrigins during its inaugural film festivaland is excited to participate further in curating a gruesome and fun time for Fright-Knights and Ghouls.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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<![CDATA[Were Old Horror Films Better? {Filmmaking}]]>Sun, 28 Jun 2020 02:26:35 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/were-old-horror-films-better-filmmaking
Was the way we used to make films better? Are we slowly diverging into a worse way of making films, or simply losing out on the classics due to a new wave of filmmakers? Let's dig a little deeper together, and see why this question might hold some genuine value.
Let’s talk about technique first. Something that should be considered is that film is about mastering techniques and excelling with minute details. Basically, you’re constantly trying to perfect something that you once thought was already perfect. The old ways are gone and the new ways are in. Now the old ways were focused on just as valuable techniques we use today, but we’ve modernized them and mastered them. Here’s an example: we used to have heavy duty lighting equipment, and it would cause the actors to typically sweat. In between each take, the makeup artists would dash on stage and quickly dab off all the sweat before the next take but a Gaffer decided a great idea would be to condense the equipment we have into more portable, reliable smaller equipment with the same results.

What does that mean for the results of the film? If you were to use the old lights compared to the new ones, the difference would be time management. We are far more capable of creating dynamic, immersive worlds in horror because we have less time wasted managing all the small conflicts we would face on old styled sets. The technique was the same, but what we had perfected was time saved. This is a huge reflection on what directors could do back in the day. It was a massive indicator on how budgets were influenced. 

Besides my rambling about technique, back to the main question -- were old films better? I believe the focus on stories was far more clever. We’ve fallen deep into the abyss of fancy equipment, CGI, and flashy results. Old school horror relied on recipes that never failed, but modern films aim to take more risks with the huge array of tools we have because we have the time to do it now. 
Let’s look at The Grudge and its recent reboot. What went wrong? The focus on the story was lost and the recipe was scrambled. The original focused on building up this phenomenon that revealed supernatural causes that only worsened over time. The reboot tried to tell the same story with a different angle. They shifted the focus and had too many weak, uninteresting subplots. They also aimed to be more dynamic with their style of filming as well as interesting use of lighting. Does any of this matter in the end result of a good film? Not quite.

Let’s look at a non-horror example, the original Mad Max vs. Mad Max Fury Road. The reboot was astounding. It used the updated equipment and techniques to further refine what was already great. It also helps that it was directed by the same man who created the originals. But the focus again was on the story and spectacle. 
So what is the end result here? We’ve lost focus on what matters. If you are a filmmaker, you should seek to be as creative as you want with your stories and how you tell them, but always remember, the people are paying for an entertaining and compelling story. Don’t forget it.

Do you have any points to discuss? Are there rebooted films of some originals that you think fell flat? Why do you think that is? Let's talk about it!

Author

Troy Dawes has been writing and directing for over 6 years now, completely self-taught. He lives in Winnipeg and works full time as set decorator on feature films around the city. He's an avid fan of old school monsters big and small, he's always had a heart for horror and exciting stories.

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<![CDATA[Midsommar Producer Patrik Andersson & Martin Karlqvist | HorrOrigins | Q & A]]>Sat, 27 Jun 2020 19:36:51 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/midsommar-producer-patrik-andersson-martin-karlqvist-horrorigins-q-aPicture

HorrOrigins presents a call with Midsommar producer Patrik Andersson & Hargas co-concept creator Martin Karlqvist. Patrik and Martin give background, answers questions and give advice to our audience. [VIDEO BELOW]

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<![CDATA[The Other Lamb {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 26 Jun 2020 16:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-other-lamb-movie-review
Effective horror films don’t always need a lot of blood, guts, and gore. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is a prime example. The horror lies in a Satanic cult trying to control Rosemary’s (Mia Farrow) reproductive process. It’s a slow-burn, psychological film with little splatter. The Other Lamb, directed by Malgorzata Szumowska and written by C.S. McMullen, is a film whose terror lies in the abusive authority that a cult leader, Shepherd (Michiel Huisman), exerts over his flock, a group of women divided into “wives” and “daughters.” One daughter, Selah (Raffey Cassidy), gradually resists his influence, and her awakening is an affront to the patriarchal leader. The Other Lamb doesn’t feature geysers of blood and a massive kill count. Rather, it’s at times subdued, loaded with religious imagery, stellar cinematography, and clever use of the camera. Parts of it may feel too slow for the casual viewer, but its premise is creative, even if the execution is sometimes faulty.
The setting is established immediately when we’re introduced to the wives, dressed in purple robes, and the daughters, dressed in blue robes, outside, on an isolated compound, their bodies dwarfed by the landscape of trees. The exterior scenes and shots of the natural world are stunning.

The women have no modern technology or connection to the outside world. Shepherd’s power over the women is showcased during an early interior scene in which he’s seated at the head of a long wooden table. The wives are on one side and the daughters on another. He slowly rises and then scans the women, their heads bowed, as he asks who will accept his “grace.” By the way his gaze lingers on them, it’s clear he’ll have sex with the chosen woman. It’s a rather simple scene, but incredibly chilling and effective in establishing how this Jesus look-a-like asserts dominance through sex and religion.

As the film continues, it’s clear that Shepherd has a physical attraction to Selah, despite her age and the fact her mom died in his “flock.” In several shots, he leans close to her, whispering in her ear, caressing her hair. His want of her is underscored by clever use of the camera and voyeurism. In the film’s first act, Shepherd’s gaze bores down on Selah, sometimes through a window in a separate cabin, as he’s physical with another woman, inserting his fingers into her mouth, aware that Selah’s watching through the window of an opposite cabin.
Initially, her attraction to him, or perhaps to his power, is evident by how he makes her tremble or how she abides by his rules, at least at first. As his abuse becomes more pronounced, shown through close-ups of scars on the women’s bodies, or red marks on their neck, or forced fasting when they have their periods, she rebels. Her resistance and awakening are linked to her anxiety regarding her period and this notion that it’s punishment for Eve’s original sin. Selah’s dissent and Cassidy’s performance in the role are noteworthy. She doesn’t take up arms against him, necessarily. She’s far too sly for that, but when she starts questioning the nonsense he spews and even slaps him, you want to stand up and cheer. Finally, the women have had enough of his bs!

Esther (Mallory Adams), a “broken thing” and outcasted wife who suffers the worst abuse, fosters Selah’s rebellious spirit, and the scenes between the two characters are some of the film’s finest, especially when Esther tries to comprehend why she’s stayed in the flock for so long. Teary-eyed, she confesses that she doesn’t even remember who she used to be, and she doesn’t know anything else. Here, attention is given to character and dialogue. It’s incredibly haunting and powerful and shows the mind-rattling impact a cult leader can have on his followers.
There are parts of the film that drag, especially when the cult is displaced and spends most of the middle act on foot, searching for a new home. Again, the shots of the characters juxtaposed against a natural landscape are well-done, but you wish they’d arrive at a destination already. The journey becomes tedious. The film’s other flaw is its paper-thin characters. You don’t learn anything about the cult leader’s history, other than his real name is Michael, and you learn little to nothing about the women.

Yet, The Other Lamb’s final act and the violence it contains make the slow middle worth the wait. The rebellion blossoms, but only after the cult leader commits an even more horrid act that’s never fully shown on-screen but is utterly despicable, even for such a wingnut. The connection between the women and natural world gels at the end too, which clarifies some of the film’s earlier imagery that may at first seem muddled.

Overall, The Other Lamb’s strengths lie in the cinematography and some well-scripted scenes that show the power a male cult leader exerts over women.  Blood and gore are used sparingly but effectively, mostly to highlight Selah’s anxiety about her period, womanhood, and Shepherd’s sexual attraction to her. The film doesn’t give us much to chew on regarding the characters, but it does have a potent ending. The Other Lamb hasn’t garnered as much attention this year as IFC Midnight’s The Wretched or its forthcoming Relic, but it’s a layered film worth a stream.

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Author

Brian Fanelli fell in love with horror movies the first time he watched Night of the Living Dead as a kid. His writing on the genre has been published by Horror HomeroomThe Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Signal Horizon Magazine. He is also the author of two books of poems, Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil's Kitchen Poetry Prize, and All That Remains (Unbound Content). His non-horror writing has been published in The Los Angeles TimesWorld Literature Today, Paterson Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University. Currently, he teaches at Lackawanna College. 

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<![CDATA[The Possession {Movie Review}]]>Thu, 25 Jun 2020 23:22:15 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-possession-movie-review
Ah, good, old-fashioned possession films, ones where a character, usually a young girl, goes from happy and smiling to a series of low growls and mean insults directed at family members.  These bone-bending tales have existed for a long time, the most recognizable being The Exorcist (1973), and I find it ironic that one of its best followers is a film simply called The Possession.  Perhaps that’s the secret to these types of movies, a simplistic title and the viewer getting what they were promised.  That’s a good thing.  Whether you believe the marketing that said this film is ‘based on true events,’ or not, the end result is a good film. 
The Possession follows a newly divorced dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) moving into a new home where he gets to have his daughters over for visits. There’s already a strain on the family.  His ex (Kyra Sedgwick) already has a new man, and they both have differing views on parenthood.  This is a film that sets up its pins and knocks them down efficiently.  Morgan and his two daughters visit a yard sale and the younger one, Em (Natasha Calis), picks out a large wooden box that holds a sinister creature known as a dybbuk, a terrifying mythological being that does, well, what most such creatures do. 

The performers take the movie seriously, and therefore, so do we.  Calis joins Janet in The Conjuring 2 and Regan in The Exorcist as the best creepy kids on screen.  Morgan, who’s capable of a large range of charm, tones it down to a grounded and exhausted man that needs assistance when his daughter starts acting violent and withdrawn.  When all other options fail, he heads to a synagogue and meets a rabbi’s son, Tzadok, (Matisyahu), who doesn’t overplay things, but simply sees a family that needs help. 
This type of material often does best when it’s focused around relatable experiences that are scary enough on their own; the results of an MRI, a child acting up in class, and the possibility of abusive parents.  The movie wisely doesn’t focus as much on blood or animated creatures, and in this case, it truly works.  It’s a family tragedy with some jolts. 

With spinning overhead shots looking down on grey suburban homes  and often drawn-out piano notes, director Ole Bornedal gave a rather refreshing look at exorcisms when this movie was released in 2012.  When the dybbuk begins smashing objects and people in equal measure, it’s terrifying.  The scary scenes don’t simply fill time or offer themselves up to commercials but build to the conclusion.  Even if it’s a conclusion we’ve seen before, I still would think twice about buying an ancient box from a yard sale with a terrified woman screaming at me.  Just a thought.  If you’re looking for a scare while stuck at home, this is a good one.

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Author

Davis has been a horror fan since he was a little kid and watched Scream and Jaws for the first time.  He graduated with a degree in theatre education and a Georgia Film Academy Certificate from Columbus State University and is known for his huge film collection and a passion for the industry.  He’s written film reviews for college papers, worked as a PA, short film writer, and actor and can’t wait to do more with the HorrOrigins team!  He’ll soon be appearing in the short film Wild HR which will be shown at the OutlantaCon Short Film Festival and can be found getting stalked by Ghostface in the YouTube video Return To Woodsboro.

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<![CDATA[Upcoming Horror Films]]>Wed, 24 Jun 2020 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/upcoming-horror-films
Within the last decade, horror movies have made a great comeback at the box office.

Horror is now one of the most popular genres of cinema, bringing in millions of dollars at the box office. Horror has never been bigger, which explains the countless number of horror films that are currently shooting or in some stage of production. The following is a tentative schedule, meaning that the release dates for these films are liable to change. And with the coronavirus, many of these horror films, especially with a 2020 release date, are subject to be postponed to a later date. In addition, I will list the movies at the end with an unannounced release date. 

2020

Antebellum

On August 21, Antebellum, starring Janelle Monáe, will kick off a stretch of horror films being released in the fall. Antebellum is directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, who are relatively new to the film industry and this is their biggest project yet. The film centers around an author who finds herself trapped in a more sinister reality, one that’s set during the Civil War years, hence the title Antebellum. The film is produced by the producer of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us.

A Quiet Place II

The much-anticipated sequel, A Quiet Place Part 2, was originally supposed to release in theaters back in March. But due to the pandemic, it had to be pushed back to September 4, two weeks after Antebellum. The original cast is back to some extent, but the film will revolve around the family as they maneuver through unknown territory in search of any other survivors. Newcomer to the franchise, Cillian Murphy, who played the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight, sports a beard in the film. This sequel looks to be a little different than the first and includes a more adventurous feel as well.

The Conjuring 3

A week after the release of A Quiet Place Part 2, on September 11, the third film of The Conjuring franchise, titled The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, is set to release. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are returning to portray their characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren. For those of you who don’t know, The Conjuring franchise and the stories within the film are actually based on real life occurrences and real-life paranormal investigators by the same name. James Wan is set to produce but has delegated the directing responsibilities to Michael Chaves, who directed the New Line horror film, The Curse of La Llorona. Chaves, prior to theaforementioned, had only made one short that garnered attention. The third film of the franchise comes four years after the release of The Conjuring 2 and with a subtitle as unique as The Devil Made Me Do It, one can only imagine great things.

​Candyman

Two weeks later, on September 25, comes the “spiritual sequel” to the film Candyman titled, wait for it, Candyman. Starring Aquaman villain, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and directed by Nia DaCosta, this film was originally set to be released over the summer. But as of now, since theaters aren’t looking to open up anytime soon, the postponement was only just. It’s been 28 years since the original Candyman, so the audience is eagerly awaiting his return to the big screen.

Halloween Kills

The last big horror movie of the year, Halloween Kills, is set for release on October 16, just two weeks and one day prior to Halloween. Obviously, the release date makes sense as Blumhouse, the production company, is looking to capitalize on the holiday. Laurie Strode, played by Jaime Lee Curtis, is set to return as well as the cast from the 2018 sequel, Halloween. David Gordon Green is returning to direct and has recently stated that his most grotesque, violent and horrifying scene that he’s ever directed in his career, is set to be in this film. If that’s not a testament to what this sequel will bring, then I don’t know what is.

2021

Last Night in Soho

The long-awaited Edgar Wright horror/thriller film titled Last Night in Soho will release on April 23. The film stars Anya-Taylor Joy, known for The Witch, so horror is not something new to her. This is the first film from Edgar Wright since the action-packed film Baby Driver back in 2017. Wright’s directing style is very unique, so one can only imagine what he can do in the horror genre to frighten the audience.

Spiral

On May 21, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, is set to release. The film stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson and is set, hence the title, in the world of the Saw franchise. The first film of the franchise, Saw, was released back in 2004 and was directed by James Wan. The film is about two police partners who encounter a series of crimes that are reminiscent of the city’s past. It’s not certain if the infamous Billy the Puppet is set to return to haunt our nightmares, but one thing is certain, this film is set to be a new thriller.

Halloween Ends

On October 15, 2021, the third and possibly final film of the new Halloween trilogy, aptly named Halloween Ends is set to release. As of now, not much is known about it but one can only speculate that Michael Myers is returning for a ‘final’ showdown. Final as in, the last time for the next few years because it’s quite likely that in the future, we could see him again.

Unannounced/TBD

Malignant

James Wan is set to return to horror with his film Malignant. Wan hasn’t directed horror since 2016 with The Conjuring 2, and even though on paper that may not seem like a whole lot of time, we’re ready to see how else he can frighten and surprise us.

​Scream 5

Just recently, Scream 5 has been announced. Neve Campbell is in talks to return and it’s been confirmed that Dewey, played by David Arquette, is returning. The film will be directed by Ready or Not filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. The last  Scream film, Scream 4, released back in 2011, so it’s only just that we get the next installment of the franchise.

Final Thoughts

Even though there are no official announcements by anyone, as horror fans, we ask ourselves, when can we expect to see A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th feature again? Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees have not been on the big screen since 2009 and 2010 and with classic horror films like Halloween and Scream being re-made or getting sequels, it’s only a matter of time before we see the former on the big screen, right?

So what can we expect in the future? We can expect to see more horror films, many of them original stories, others familiar stories that we, the audience, absolutely love. Horror has never been bigger. And yes, this article is partly subjective, but I’ve done my best to outline the films over the next few years that will surely not just be box office successes but also remind us why we love horror.

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Author

Rico Suave is an aspiring writer and/or director. In 2017, one of his short films won an award and in 2019 he was a finalist with a short script he wrote. Rico is Colombian but has spent the majority of his life in the States.
 
Rico was a volunteer for HorrOrigins’ inaugural year and says it was a pretty unique and eye-opening experience for him. He plans to continue volunteering and this year has expanded his role to include writing articles for the HorrOrigins website.
 
Rico has a passion for horror films but really any genre is fine with him! He is a passionate lover of cinema.Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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<![CDATA[Iconic Weapons In Horror]]>Tue, 23 Jun 2020 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/iconic-weapons-in-horror
Everyone recognizes the sharpened blade of a towering killer or the jagged pipe that gorges victims. It’s just as important of a tool as perhaps the mask, outfit, or voice of these characters. It’s what makes them memorable, terrifying or intimidating. So let’s go back in the past and see some of these lethal weapons and see what made them work and how they fit with each character’s personality.

Freddy Krueger: Razorclaw Glove

Ever since the first A Nightmare On Elm Street where we witnessed the construction of this terrifying glove by Freddy himself, we instantly knew how cruel this monster is. Why did we know? Because the weapon was designed to inflict deep wounds, torment, and a slow death. It was made by a man that wanted his victims to fear him so he could feed off this fear. It’s so unique that you instantly recognize the glove. It’s even more memorable than Freddy and his striped shirt. He loves to  wiggle his fingers as the blades “shing” as they glide along each other. The sound, the look, the meaning behind it all adds up to one tormented killer and a brutal weapon.

Pinhead: Hooks & Hell Chains

Pinhead’s obsession with afflicting pain in Hellraiser is only to preach the blessing of how pain can really be pleasure. His character heavily leans into BDSM and a twisted imagination. Hiding in the darkness, Pinhead can summon long, jagged black chains that slice, hook, and rip any victim he desires to “educate.” These chains represent a dark, unnerving side of Pinhead and his demonic friends that lurks in the shadows. It surrounds you with this feeling of dread that you’re constantly being watched or better yet -- never safe. They’re so iconic that you know better than to talk back to Pinhead when he enters a room as you never know where those chains will come from. 

Leatherface: Rusted Chainsaw

A disturbed killer in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wearing the rotting skin of his victims, why wouldn’t he use a rusted chainsaw to slice away at human chum? It’s horrifying to witness the brutality Leatherface can gorge from his victims, as he cuts them to pieces while they’re still living. He’s a ruthless killer with a ruthless weapon. The chainsaw will not stop, rusted as it’s been overused and worn down from an obsession ingrained into Leatherface. As his family abused him and forced him to take part in their cannibal activities, he has no other reason to use a cleaner, more practical weapon. The chainsaw makes things interesting, entertaining even for him. This weapon is made for someone who lacks compassion and knowingly wants this kill to be a bloody mess. A perfect weapon for someone who enjoys a brutal kill.

Michael Myers: Kitchen Knife

So iconic that every household owns one! Michael Myers Halloween is most famously known for fielding a large kitchen knife to jab into his victims. It’s so sharp and so long that he can stab someone and leave them hanging so he can watch them die and wonder what they’re thinking of at that moment. For such a silent and stealthy killer, he’s surprisingly brutal when it comes to his methods of killing his victims. Although he does sometimes leave a mess, his kills are quick and methodical, although he seems to be simply reacting in the heat of the moment. A simple weapon for a simple killer, or is he really a mastermind hiding behind that mask? That's a mystery to be solved, and it’s terrifying to ponder. Is the boogeyman coming to your house tonight?

So what do you think of this list? Did I miss anyone? Who would you like to see next? If you’d like to see another list, comment down below and let’s discuss.

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Author

Troy Dawes has been writing and directing for over 6 years now, completely self-taught. He lives in Winnipeg and works full time as set decorator on feature films around the city. He's an avid fan of old school monsters big and small, he's always had a heart for horror and exciting stories.

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<![CDATA[Wishmaster: The Forgotten Final Slasher]]>Mon, 22 Jun 2020 21:18:45 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/wishmaster-the-forgotten-final-slasher
As previously discussed in the Maniac Cop review, the Golden Age of the slasher genre ran from 1977 to 1993. A key figure associated with the slasher genre is the late Wes Craven, one of the most influential horror filmmakers of all time. If anything, you at least know him for creating A Nightmare on Elm Street and it’s flagship boogieman, Freddy Krueger. While breathing new life into the genre, Craven is also probably best known for ending the cycle (and his franchise) with New Nightmare. Almost immediately after, Craven ushered horror fans into the meta-age with Scream, a game changer upon release that reignited Craven’s career after a few financial duds. Suddenly, Craven’s name could be stamped on any property and it would get immediate attention. This brings us to Wishmaster, a film that could have been the definitive end of the slasher Golden-Age.
Wishmaster is a 1997 film, written by Hellbound: Hellraiser II writer, Peter Atkins, who basically remakes his previous script. At its core, it’s a story about an otherworldly being housed inside a cursed object that grants your desire for a price. The film would also be helmed by make-up effects icon, Robert Kurtzman, who has had his hand in multiple slasher films throughout the 80's and 90's (and wrote the original story that became From Dusk Till Dawn). Both in front of and behind the camera, Wishmaster sports horror hall of fame members left and right, including original Elm Street cinematographer, Jacques Haitkin behind the lens; and Friday the 13th composer, Harry Manfredini, giving, in my opinion, some of his best work. On top of that, we have enough horror icon cameos to fill the Texas Frightmare Weekend: Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi, Tom Savini, Reggie Bannister, and even ominous narration from The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm. All these elements should have made Wishmaster the Lollapalooza of horror, the encore performance. What we got, however, was questionable.

The film opens with the crafting of the fire opal, the plot device that houses our villain. We then cut to a text crawl explaining the backstory of the djinn, the demonic con artists who grant wishes for a price. This isn’t your run of the mill genie; this trickster has the end of the world on his mind. The two scenes should have just been combined into one; it’s a shift that doesn’t allow momentum to build. It doesn’t really matter though, as the film opens properly in ancient Persia where the djinn is loose and his demons are wreaking havoc on an emperor’s palace. A bit of a trip out of the gate, but this scene hits the ground running. We have intestines growing teeth and shooting out of torso, snake demons, and a skeleton ripping itself out of its screaming host and going on its own killing spree. This is a scene worthy of a heavy metal video, with Kurtzman’s effects team at K.N.B. EFX on full display. Playing on the emperor’s horror of what he’s conjured, the djinn tempts the ruler to wish it all away, before the prophet, Zoroaster, entraps the djinn within the fire opal, where it is doomed to remain unless brought into the wrong hands. The scene also gives us the first glimpse at the impressive prosthetics work of our titular villain, played by Andrew Divoff.
Cut to the present day where a rich antique collector Raymond Beaumont, played by Robert Englund, is supervising the delivery of a statue he purchased from the Middle East. Though not cast as a villain, Englund gives off a slimy charisma, like the rules don’t apply to him and he likely gets away with things (not something really explored). However, the crane operator, played by Day of the Dead’s Joe Pilato, is plastered on the job and drops the crate on Raymond's assistant, ala Wile E. Coyote style. Raymond is left to mourn his now destroyed statue, as a dock worker notices the opal within, and pockets it for a quick buck. Making the rounds, the jewel finds its way to our protagonist, an appraiser named Alex, played by Tammy Lauren

The djinn is awoken as Alex breathes life into the opal, but it doesn’t emerge immediately. It breaks free later in a lab when a friend of Alex runs a test on the stone. We get a brief glimpse of the djinn in an infantile state, provided by a pre-Mini-Me Verne Troyer in a pretty decent scene. Slowly returning to power and making his way to Alex, the djinn spends the film interacting with the various cameo line-ups, granting wishes as a way to slowly replenish his power supply. The catch is our slasher cannot act without the victim’s explicit permission. This both works and hinders the film, as we get more insight into the djinn’s seductive mind games and how he lures victims in on wordplay alone, but drags the film for the sake of death scenes that don’t serve much of an impact outside of the gore factor. Don’t worry, though, our lead has psychic visions of these deaths, so she at least feels connected.

It is here where the film starts to have problems. We see a crucial scene where Alex discusses the tragic event of saving her sister, in a terrible house fire that claimed the lives of their parents. She still carries the guilt of this tragedy, and as a result has kept everyone in her life at a distance. Survivor’s guilt is something we have seen before in horror, but the audience learns of it in passing, through exposition. And it’s just presented in a flat, shot-reverse-shot close-up, and doesn’t leave room for investment. Adding insult to injury, the film then gives us a decent nightmare sequence where Alex sees her sister screaming from the window of the burning house (and the djinn can see this as well). This wouldn’t be such a problem if these nightmares were established earlier, or even in the scene right before said exposition. 
As this is going on, the djinn takes on a more human appearance as a way to get closer to Alex. So, for a good portion of the film, our slasher is out of make-up. He is just Divoff, the actor. It comes off as a bit of a cop out, seeing as we’ve already gotten used to seeing the djinn in full make-up, and it makes the audience aware that the five-million-dollar budget was stretched thin (those bookending set pieces don’t come cheap you know). Plus, slashers are normally better suited to unknown actors who bring out their talent behind the mask or make-up. Divoff, at this point, is well known for portraying villains in films such as Toy Soldiers and A Low Down Dirty Shame. The same year as Wishmaster, Divoff played the scene stealing henchmen in Air Force One, the fifth highest-grossing film worldwide in 1997. An illusion has been shattered and we’re left to watch the actor just play the actor. As engaging as Divoff is as the djinn, it loses its momentum during this third of the runtime.

It isn’t until later in the film where Alex and the djinn finally encounter each other, when Alex visits the home of an anthropology professor. This character is introduced when Alex is tracking the origins of the opal. However, prior to Alex’s arrival, the djinn has made a victim out of the professor and is now posing as her. All criticism of the build aside, this leads to a well done Hitchcockian “bomb under the table” scene where the audience is on the edge of their seat waiting for Alex to clue in to the horror she’s stumbled upon. It’s the best acted scene in the whole film. After finally revealing itself, the djinn appoints Alex the bearer of the three wishes that will lead to his freedom (as stated in the origin story). This is a pretty heavy weight for our final girl to bear. After wasting the first two wishes, and not keen on making a third one, Alex hightails it out of there, forcing the djinn to raise his bet. He goes after Alex’s sister.

This leads to the climax where the sister is conveniently at a party hosted by Raymond, and the djinn gets a do-over of the opening scene. Death scene set pieces ensue with CGI glass explosions, statues of ancient warriors come to life, and the director himself gets an impressive decapitation. It doesn’t hold a candle to the opening, but it reiterates where this film wanted the money to go. Cornered, and faced with a rock and a hard place decision, Alex makes her final wish, that the crane operator wasn’t drinking on the job that fateful morning. Cleverest cop out ever, the entire conflict is negated, the Persian statue remains intact, and the djinn is sealed within to bide his time until the sequel.
Wishmaster is an example of a film where you can have every positive element available, but it doesn’t work unless you actually use them. The inclusion of various horror icons can be seen as passing of the torch, but their inclusion plays more like “featured vocals.” And what we’re mainly seeing outside of the cameos are the conflicting lead choices. Besides having Divoff out of make-up for a chunk of the film, there’s also the under direction of Lauren’s Alex. This is the only starring role for Tammy Lauren, who outside of a sparse filmography has primarily been a television actor. The real highlight of the film is the stellar practical effects that still hold up over twenty years later, made all the better in comparison to the 90's New Line Cinema era CGI. What was meant to be the final slasher ended up being forgotten, just like the plot overall. 

Wishmaster did have three sequels that were released made-for-TV, and later direct to video, further condemning it to obscurity. Divoff would only reprise the djinn for the first sequel and a different actor was used for the remaining entries. Wes Craven would only produce the first entry, and would later release Scream 2 almost three months later, furthering the meta-age of slashers. From there, newfound interest peaked in the forefathers of the sub-genre, leading to new entries and later the age of New Millennium Reboots. Stuck within all of that, is Wishmaster, a slasher film with a concept that didn’t quite break its barrier, but decades later could stand a comeback vehicle. With lesser-known horror being independently remade, like 2014’s The Town that Dreaded Sundown and the re-imagining of Rabid, it might be time for Wishmaster to finally have its day. Until then, that opal is still trapped.

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Author

Alex Ayres is filmmaker and writer based in Atlanta, GA. An avid genre fan overall, he started his love of horror at age 13, diving head first down the rabbit hole and has not looked back since.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in film and creative writing, Alex has a steady background in screenwriting, having written multiple short and feature screenplays. His most recent screenplay 6/09 has been accepted into various film festivals and writing competitions around the country, winning best comedy at the Austin After Dark Film Fest in 2019. His short screenplay Soup’s On is currently in early stages of pre-production.
When not spent hunched over at his laptop on his third cup of coffee, Alex works as a non-union set worker on various productions in Atlanta, primarily as a Set PA, 2nd AC, Boom-Op, and Extra. In time, Alex will pursue his Master’s in screenwriting. Making film and teaching film is a life-long goal that he’s going the distance with.
Alex was a volunteer with HorrOrigins during its inaugural film festivaland is excited to participate further in curating a gruesome and fun time for Fright-Knights and Ghouls.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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