<![CDATA[horrorigins.com - Articles]]>Thu, 11 Aug 2022 14:46:37 -0700Weebly<![CDATA['PREY': A New Jaw-Ripping Thumbs Up For The Franchise {Movie Review}]]>Thu, 11 Aug 2022 21:05:01 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/a-new-jaw-ripping-thumbs-up-for-the-franchise-movie-review
The Predator franchise has always been a mixed bag, with the best entries sticking to a relatively simple concept of a single alien hunter facing off against a group of tough humans. However, I do have a soft spot for the underrated Predators film from 2010. After the disappointment of The Predator (2018), the franchise was caught in a rut. Thankfully Director Dan Trachtenberg decided to bring the franchise back to its roots with energy and brutal slayings for both new and old generations to enjoy. Prey is a surprising hit of the summer. 
​Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a young tribe woman determined to prove herself as a hunter in the Comanche tribe. Most don't see it and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) is far more popular and equally dismissive of her skills, which are impressive though still in the early stages of cultivation. She stumbles, misses shots, and even gets knocked out, but not before she sees signs of a strange new creature that is intent on killing any living thing it considers a challenge. She isn't the infallible heroine that some people were wary of.

Before the predator and Naru ever meet, we see parallel scenes of them both dispatching challenges as they head toward the inevitable confrontation. As a story element, this is excellent because even without dialogue or franchise knowledge, we can tell this predator is still learning, adapting, and does get worn down, just like our protagonist, and this adds weight to both predator and prey alike.
Little dialogue is needed and adds to the level of visual storytelling. Animals are severed, and spines are ripped out with the gore that fans of the franchise have come to expect. When the others finally believe Naru, there are thrilling scenes of fellow tribesmen and french trappers trying their best to wear the hunter down with ambushes and teamwork that draws us into the unexpected time this new film plants us in. Unexpected but welcome. The film doesn't seem to spend much time with subliminal messages, nor is it necessary. It delivers on what it promises as a violent thriller. 

Naru's action scenes are engaging through utilizing her agility and nimble footing to climb trees, dive beneath the water, and traverse a beautifully shot cliffside overlooking the forest. Likewise, Jeff Cutter's cinematography looks fantastic. He and Trachtenberg go above and beyond to make each time of day and natural setting stand on their own with nothing overblown or seemingly exaggerated, and even before the main antagonist removes his camouflage, we're seeing a beautiful but dangerous world with fierce creatures that Naru hasn't learned how to defeat yet.

Midthunder brings a fiery spirit to Naru with wide eyes that show panic when she makes mistakes and a brave voice when she stands her ground. The relationship between her and Taabe is relatable and could have easily been explored more in the first act, but the one thing longtime fans will be wondering is if the infamous predator looks as fierce as they remember. The answer is an undeniable yes. He growls and snarls with menace, utilizing gadgets that are far advanced and yet, in this entry, seem a little archaic to fit the decades-long story. 

The film is rated R for nothing other than the bloody violence, which is not overblown but just right. Trachtenberg has a keen eye for action. After the isolated interiors of 10 Cloverfield Lane, he widens his scope with the ever-changing landscapes here, with many new chapters having a new color in focus as the story goes from day to night.

That being said, people will debate over a few shots for days. Are they CGI? Are they good visually? I speculate that some troubles may come with the fact that the film was compressed for streaming purposes, but I'm no expert. I do know that some of the lines in the film were questionable regarding historical accuracy. Perhaps I'll enjoy it more when I rewatch the film in Comanche. Nevertheless, these problems are common trade among action films, and all the other pieces come together to put it above average. Prey captures the intensity and simplicity of the original film but stands on its own as a well-crafted thriller.   

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Davis Clark 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.
<![CDATA['GLORIOUS': First Look-Teaser Released For Lovecraftian Horror, Starring Ryan Kwanten and Oscar-Winner J.K. Simmons]]>Wed, 20 Jul 2022 20:42:11 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/glorious-first-look-teaser-released-for-lovecraftian-horror-starring-ryan-kwanten-and-oscar-winner-jk-simmons
The latest feature from Rebekah McKendry (All The Creatures Were Stirring, Bring It On: Cheer or Die) lands exclusively on Shudder August 18th, 2022.
Spiraling out after a bad breakup, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) ends up at a remote rest stop miles away from civilization. His situation worsens after he finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure (J.K. Simmons) speaking to him from an adjacent stall. As Wes tries to escape, he finds himself an unwilling player in a situation bigger and more terrible than he could possibly imagine…
Ahead of its hotly anticipated world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Glorious — one of the most buzzed-about films of the festival — releases the first-look teaser. Directed by filmmaker, genre journalist, and celebrated podcast host Rebekah McKendry (All The Creatures Were Stirring, co-writer of the upcoming Bring It On: Cheer or Die), the modern-day Lovecraftian horror stars Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash). Following the Fantasia premiere on July 21st, the film will be released exclusively on Shudder on August 18th.

With the majority of the film taking place in a rest stop bathroom, Glorious is an intimate indie horror full of twists and unimaginable turns that boasts one of the most jaw-dropping roles of Simmons’ career. Psychedelic, comedic, overwhelmingly messy, and surprisingly emotionally, Glorious has all the makings of a future cult hit. 

Glorious speaks to my adoration of Lovecraft, gore, absurdist humor, philosophy, and the type of transgressive movies that leave you thinking I can’t believe I just saw that,” says McKendry. “It is a wild mix of horror, humor, and heady moralistic concepts about our own existential realizations of who we really are, forcing each of us to stare into our personal abyss. And sometimes, the abyss stares back… and maybe has a favor to ask.
Written by Todd Rigney, Joshua Hull, and David Ian McKendry. AMP International’s Bob Portal and Inderpal Singh serve as producers along with Joe Wicker and Morgan Peter Brown from Fallback Plan Productions, Jason Scott Goldberg and Christian Armogida.

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan. After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing. He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his internship, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers. His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019. In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.

<![CDATA['When I Consume You': Widely-Celebrated Psychological Demonic Horror Hit]]>Tue, 19 Jul 2022 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/when-i-consume-you-widely-celebrated-psychological-demonic-horror-hit
When I Consume You marks the third feature for New York-based filmmaker Perry Blackshear following his award-winning psychological horror feature debut They Look Like People and celebrated sophomore effort, the aquatic supernatural horror romance The Siren. All three of his films have been widely embraced and praised both on the festival circuit and upon release, with They Look Like People winning a Jury Honorable Mention at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival upon its premiere. 
A woman and her brother seek revenge against a mysterious stalker. A gritty, slow-burn urban folktale about family, damnation, and redemption.
Blackshear again teams up with creative collaborators MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, and Margaret Ying Drake for When I Consume You, who, alongside Libby Ewing, deliver a heartfelt family drama about grief and redemption. Ewing and Dumouchel play brother-sister duo Daphne and Wilson Shaw. Troubled since childhood, the two have struggled to find stability as they’ve grown older, and while Daphne seems to have finally gotten her life together, the darkness that’s followed their family all along begins to close in more aggressively than ever before. 

A unique urban folktale set and filmed in Brooklyn, When I Consume You confronts the vulnerabilities that people struggle with every day through a genre lens to create a chillingly intimate indie horror nightmare.

The film is written, directed, and lensed by Blackshear, who also produced alongside Andrews, Dumouchel, and Ewing.

Perry Blackshear’s Hotly-Anticipated, Widely-Celebrated Psychological Demonic Horror Hit When I Consume You — Out On VOD August 16 From 1091 Pictures.

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan. After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing. He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his internship, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers. His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019. In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.

<![CDATA[This is Gwar: Scumdogs, Slave Pits, & Satire {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 15 Jul 2022 23:58:20 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/this-is-gwar-scumdogs-slave-pits-satire-movie-review
When it comes to a band like Gwar, you’d think they would need no introduction. Any church lady could take one look at anything they have released, and promptly fall into a coma. But wait, any American band willing to dress like this for almost 40 years, has got to be in on a joke. This isn’t Norway. With wild stage names like Oderus Urungus, Beefcake the Mighty, and Balsac the Jaws of Death (among many others that you’ll just have to look up yourself), you can’t help but chuckle at demonic immaturity of intergalactic proportions. And with memorable stage shows, where audiences file in to be drenched with gallons of fake blood and other fluids, all while the band members decapitate dummies of history’s greatest punching bags, you know this is a labor of love. Enough love to warrant This is Gwar, a documentary that chronicles the timeline of the band’s rise, and the many bumps in the road. How deep does this rabbit hole go? Well, I think I came out the other side somewhere in Antarctica and passed a preserved, zombie T-Rex along the way.

The opening scene showcases how far the “fake blood system” has come since the early days, and clues you in to the level of dark humor you’ll soon be very familiar with. We then begin proper in mid-80’s Richmond, Virginia where poverty and high crime rates have birthed a thriving punk scene. From there, the band its original members, a group of outcast artists, converge at an abandoned milk bottling plant that looks like a place you’d want to explore in a Fallout game. Our first major player in this crazy origin story is Techno-Destructo himself, Hunter Jackson, a then VCU art student with aspirations of making a low-budget sci-fi film with some colorfully nasty costumes. Jackson is immediately established as an underdog to the story. Speaking as someone who wore an Insane Clown Posse shirt to a college French New Wave class, I can definitely relate to an art school kid whose professors look down on his more schlocky tastes. This underdog mentality breeds a fascinating villain origin, and later redemption arc, as Jackson’s film is digested in Dave Brockie’s (Oderus) band aspirations. From there, creative differences, and the late Brockie’s unfortunate drug habit drive a wedge between them. You can’t blame a creator for just wanting control of his IP, even if that means resorting to some underhanded tactics.

Despite this conflict with Jackson, Brockie is still painted in a pretty positive light and looked back on fondly by the other members of the band. Never before seen footage of Brockie throughout the years shows his passion for the project, and despite his questionable work ethic, he was committed and creative till the end. Who else could turn obscenity charges into fodder for one of a few long-form music videos? (See the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu incident followed by the Grammy-nominated Phallus in Wonderland.) Oderus was, and still is, the face of the band, and it’s easy to see why. With his commanding stage presence, and quick improvisational skills during interviews, there is a hilarious plethora of entertainment left behind. It’s worth that alone to make it to the end of the film and hear the heartfelt message Brockie makes to the band and what the experience has meant to him. He’s that one friend, who despite his literal demons, is full of surprises, and definitely DMs a killer Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Speaking of which, with how Gwar has branded itself over the decades, it is insane that there isn’t a D&D inspired RPG game. I checked, there’s a deck building game, but no table top game. With all the characters over the years, and the insane amount of lore, this would go hand in hand. Among the usual band “merch” you’d expect Gwar has official comics, beer, GWAR BAR, CBD, and even NFTs, so it is baffling that this is the bandwagon they haven’t jumped on, especially now that table-tops are more popular than ever. And this makes even less sense as Brockie co-wrote an unrelated RPG game called
Lamentations of the Flame Princess before his death. I think the aspirations were probably there. Am I getting through to anyone in the marketing department here?

Anyway, director Scott Barber crafts a digestible and visual feast that fully encapsulates the band’s antics, while also serving as a solid jumping off point for newcomers. In the mix of behind the curtain footage, and interviews with the many members of the band, Barber employs the use of pulpy 80’s comic illustrations provided by Matthew Cook, and put in motion by Casey Pinkston. When a crazy story is being recounted to you, the extra visual aid feels right at home, even in moments of history that could have taken a more tragic turn. These are also intercut with interviews from various non-Gwar personalities and fans like ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon, Bam Margera, and Bill S. Preston, Esq. himself Alex Winter. Their commentary serves to reiterate that throughout their run, Gwar has been full of many talented musicians and artists who focused their skills on making a pastiche of the Heavy Metal scene, and made it work so well, that many people still take it seriously today. One weird nitpick though, that I’m curious about, is despite two clips from an interview with director, Adam Green, there’s no footage from his series Holliston, where Brockie played Oderus in a prominent role.

I got into Gwar pretty late in the game (my younger brother was more of fan). My interest finally peaked when I heard the track “Hail, Genocide!” over the opening credits of Hatchet III a few months before Brockie’s death. I made the mistake of thinking that was probably the end of the road. Well, the biggest compliment I can give, is that This is Gwar has definitely reignited my interest in their music. The doc is endlessly entertaining with twists, turns, and truth stranger than science fiction. It’s a music doc that does a great job of both appealing to the hardcore fanbase but also crafts a tale for the curious outsider to enjoy. A group of misfit artists came together to create, and spiraled into musical theater/splatter horror. Members have come and gone, and some have even used their tenure in the band to springboard into other lucrative fields. They’re still going strong, with a new album called “The New Dark Ages” and a European tour. Here’s hoping they’re still Beavis and Butthead’s favorite band when their new revival drops later this year. Crack open a Blood Orange IPA and give this a watch this summer. I’ll see you in the splash-zone!

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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 festival and is excited to participate further in curating a gruesome and fun time for Fright-Knights and Ghouls.
<![CDATA[Black Wood : There’s Something Sinister in Those Woods {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 15 Jul 2022 23:46:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/black-wood-theres-something-sinister-in-those-woods-movie-review
On paper, a horror/western sounds like a weird combo. However, in writer/director Chris Canfield’s Black Wood, it somehow works. The film is a clever and frightening take on the Wendigo legend and a tribute to the South Dakota land he knows well. This is a movie with a heck of a lot of spirit.
Black Wood stars Tanajsia Slaughter as Dowanhowee, a Native American woman tormented by her past, after a bunch of cowboys with white masks shot her young family member (daughter, maybe?), who returns as a ghostly figure of sorts and a spiritual guide. Dowanhowee inadvertently gets caught up with the ruthless, money-hungry Dutch Wilder Gang, led by the man of the same name, played by Bates Wilder. She kills one of the gang members and reclaims her horse, which he stole. However, she’s soon captured by the gang and led into the mysterious Blackwood forest, home to the Wendigo, a tortured Native American spirit in this particular tale.

This is a film where the South Dakota land and the stories of the Lakota feel very much alive, and it’s a credit to Canfield’s writing and directing. This movie is steeped in Native American lore particular to the tribes from that region. The writer/director grew up in Wyoming, near the Black Hills of South Dakota. He was raised on a ranch, and it’s clear the stories he heard and the land he tended served as major inspiration for this film. It feels like it’s part love letter to that region. Further, the costumes and even the Lakota dialogue are authentic for the latter half of the 19th Century. This isn’t a film sloppy in its detail. Credit to the costume and set designers for doing their research here.
For most of the film, the Wendigo is shrouded in white mist, but the crew didn’t spare any expense on the gore. This is a creature that rips apart its victims, feasts on their guts and bones, and even strings up their horses. It’s nasty and vicious and commands a lot of the scenes it’s in. You never know when or where it will strike, and its body count is quite high by the film’s conclusion.
Some characters, namely the gang members, feel like mere fodder for the Wendigo, but Dowanhowee and Dutch intrigue. Initially, they’re enemies, but they bond over their need to survive. They come to rely on each other, despite the fact they don’t even speak the same language. This change happens gradually, and watching it play out is another one of the film’s strengths. Dutch, too, carries his own trauma, so by the end, you come to understand his point of view. These are two well-crafted characters with a lot of pain and a lot of history guiding their actions in the present.
Overall, Canfield has a solid feature here. Blackwood immerses you in its world and a land rich with history and Native lore. Though the film is never simplistic, there is a message here about seeing beyond differences and understanding each other’s humanity. For gore and horror hounds, this rendition of the Wendigo should entertain. This is a nasty yet nuanced take on the famed creature and a dark journey into the Old West.
Black Wood opens in theaters on July 22 and will be available digitally on July 26.

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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.
<![CDATA['Good Madam':  How to 'Get Out' if Your World is Haunted? {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 15 Jul 2022 23:13:28 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/good-madam-how-to-get-out-if-your-world-is-haunted-movie-review
I’m looking forward to a future in which we are still talking about this movie, because we love it, and also because we can’t agree on how to categorize it. (Some of the people who made it have called it a psychological thriller, and the distributor has called it a horror satire. For me, neither of those really capture it.) Like two of its mothers in the horror genre, Rosemary’s Baby and Get Out, Good Madam will be discussed for years to come. In light of that, I’m going to start my campaign now to make it one of those unusual movies that are known by their original, non-English title, like Diabolique, Häxan and Tenebre. The original title for Good Madam is Mlungu Wam, a phrase from isiXhosa, the language in which most of the movie’s dialogue is spoken. Not that Good Madam is a bad title by any means, just that Mlungu Wam is better.
In a palatial house in a gated community in the all-white suburbs of Cape Town in South Africa, two elderly women live together. Mavis (Nosipho Mtebe) has been Diane’s live-in maid for decades: raising Diane’s kids (they have since moved overseas), cooking, cleaning, waiting on Diane as she became a shut-in. Even thirty years after the end of apartheid, Mavis’ life as a domestic worker still bears the marks of that history. She seemingly exists only to serve one white woman who never comes out of her room. She’s never heard speaking. The only sign of life coming from Diane’s room is the ringing of a bell whenever she has a need. Mavis grew up speaking isiXhosa but often uses English in relation to Diane, whom she calls “Good Madam.” Meanwhile, “Mlungu Wam” is an expression in South Africa that colloquially means “my employer,” but its literal meaning is “my white person.” These two layers of meaning go perfectly with the story this movie is telling: it’s a story about work, but also about racism, a story crafted to speak particularly to the realities of South Africa.

When Mavis’ daughter Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) and her granddaughter Winnie (Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya) come to stay with Mavis, they have to adjust to Mavis’ slavish existence. Tsidi explains to Winnie the rules: don’t run in the house, don’t touch the fridge, no using the pool alone, and stay out of Madam’s room. Winnie asks, “So we should pretend not to be here, even though we are?” 

Of course to be in a place and be “there” without really being “there” is like being a ghost. And indeed Tsidi can’t properly inhabit Diane’s house. She’s unsettled as a mother, because her daughter Winnie is now going to school with rich white kids and speaking more English. She’s unsettled as a daughter, as she realizes her mother is ailing and has disturbing sleepwalking episodes where she continues to do housework even in her sleep. She’s unsettled on an even more visceral level, as she encounters strange manifestations (the ghost of Diane’s late dog) and ominous clues to something sinister going on (Egyptian hieroglyphs marked on a wall). Tsidi’s prayers to the ancestral spirit of her grandmother get more desperate and more anguished.

There’s some grim, ironic wit to Mlungu Wam, but I would never describe it as a “horror satire,” instead cautioning: there’s nothing funny about this movie. From the very first seconds, a disturbingly intense close-up of a drain, the movie creates a claustrophobic, skin-crawling atmosphere. The soundtrack by Simon Ratcliffe lends enormous support here. Ratcliffe, a sound engineer, has beautifully mixed the sound for the film, integrating sound effects with music featuring spooky female vocals, a horror staple, with a South African twist, as well as performances with the uhadi and umhrube (traditional South African instruments) by the performing artist Madosini. 

Enhanced by this strong aesthetic, the scenes of the film’s first half evoke the feelings of being backed into a corner where your core values seem on the brink of terminal decay, and your resources for addressing the threat are painfully limited. For Tsidi, this desperate situation leads her to look for help from her half-brother, Gcinumzi (Sanda Shandu), who now goes by the name Stuart. Stuart was largely raised by Diane, and is accordingly more Westernized. In conversations with her daughter’s father, Tsidi derisively refers to Stuart as a “coconut,” that is, Black on the outside, white on the inside. Diane’s grip on Mavis’s life is so strong that perhaps only Stuart can intervene. But can Tsidi trust him?  And will intervention come soon enough to keep Mavis, Tsidi, and their relationship from falling apart?

Jenna Cato Bass directed Mlungu Wam, also co-produced and co-wrote it, as well as serving as director of photography, as well as working on costume design and fabrication, and no doubt made other contributions. She’s literally a magician (having graduated from the Cape Town College of Magic before going to film school), and while it would be cute to describe Mlungu Wam as her greatest magic trick, it would be more true to say the magic trick was seeking authenticity by developing the screenplay from the ground up in concert with a team of collaborators, starting with her co-writer and co-producer Babalwa Baartman, and enabling the film to express multiple voices, particularly Black South African voices. 

As a result, Mlungu Wam is easily the best movie I’ve ever seen with twelve screenwriters. (Note: because of WGA regulations, it’s actually impossible to credit a Hollywood film to more than three writers, so that’s part of the reason this kind of scenario is so rare!)  Throughout her career, Jenna Cato Bass has experimented with a collaborative process (inspired by the methods of Mike Leigh) in which she starts with an outline, then casts the actors, then workshops the characters with the actors. So the story isn’t completely known until after this collective process, and improv exercises between the actors contribute to the dialogue. So in a substantive sense, Mlungu Wam is a story about a society told, not by a single individual who has to bear the full burden of representing the complexities of that society, but by a team of people who among them can offer a richer perspective on that society.

Having grown up on Carpenter and Cronenberg, I’m inclined to think of great horror movies as more likely to be the work of cowboys: highly individual and idiosyncratic lone creators. Mlungu Wam challenges that inclination. It feels steeped in horror traditions and yet piping hot and fresh. If you’ve ever seen a folk horror film, you’ll be on full alert as soon as those hieroglyphs appear, but the variations Mlungu Wam rings on these tropes are nicely domestic (the motion of scrubbing takes on more significance than you’d expect) and yet no less disturbing for that. And the dimension of psychological suspense in the film is very strong, driven by amazing performances from the three generations of mother, daughter and granddaughter.

Good Madam is now playing on Shudder.

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Andrew Draper grew up in Massachusetts and is currently based in Brooklyn. When he was five or six, he picked up Alan Ormsby's book Movie Monsters in a school book club. (That was where he first saw the original Frankenstein’s monster and realized the pink dude on Franken Berry Cereal boxes was only the spoof!)  His fascination with monsters grew to the extent that he asked his parents to take him to see Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre at the age of nine. His teen years coincided with the 1980s, a very good time to love horror movies. After the Eighties ended, Andrew got strangely distracted by “normal” life. After two decades of wandering in that wilderness, Andrew got excited about the genre again in 2014 and has been catching up with cool stuff like Hooptober, Scream Factory blu-rays and Blumhouse. It’s good to be back.
<![CDATA['Intinction': A Gruesome Good Time {Short Review}]]>Fri, 15 Jul 2022 14:59:41 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/intinction-a-gruesome-good-time-short-review
There’s one simple reason why I wanted to watch writer/director Bobby Canipe Jr.’s short film Intinction. It has cannibalistic nuns. Yes, cannibalistic nuns. As you can probably tell by now, this isn’t a film that takes itself too seriously. It’s gruesome. It’s gory, and most importantly, it’s fun.

The film follows four friends, Mark (Blair Hoyle), Ralph (Ryan Martel), Scott (Hunter Touboulie), and Roxie (Whitney Willetts). The group visits an abandoned house with a haunted history. Sure, we’ve seen this premise several times before. It’s like an old campfire tale, with Mark serving as the storyteller. One brutal winter, nuns resorted to eating each other. Apparently, their hungry spirits still linger. The short does quite a good job balancing the present with the past, establishing its own history surrounding the nuns and that fateful, nasty winter. These flashbacks are especially fleshed out.
Canipe Jr. cites splatter flicks like Burning Moon and Night of the Demons as some of his key influences. That’s certainly evident here. There are sequences where nuns devour each other’s fingers and munch on each other’s necks until their habits are blood-soaked. Some of the effects here look cool, especially when the nuns attack the friends in the present day. Kudos to the make-up team. These sisters look gnarly and downright spooky. Even though the director draws inspiration from 80s and 90s horror, this isn’t a film awash in nostalgia. There’s no synth soundtrack or references to films that only horror nerds would catch. This short stands on its own, set in the present day.

If I have one gripe, it’s the acting. Some of the lines are delivered in monotone fashion, and there’s not enough distinction between the friends. Ralph is the only exception simply because he’s the comedic relief, clenching a six pack and sporting a hat that says, “I love titties and beer.” If this is ever turned into a full-length, and I hope it is, there needs to be more time given to creating fully realized characters. 

Intinction is a schlocky good time, a short that succeeds at entertaining. I’d love to see this turned into a feature, especially so the four main characters can have their own personalities and distinctions. While his influences here are clear, Canipe Jr. crafted his own story set in the present. I’d love to see how far he can push the gore and effects with an even bigger budget.

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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.

<![CDATA['American Werewolves': Who’s Afraid of the Dogman? {Movie Review}]]>Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:29:40 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/american-werewolves-whos-afraid-of-the-dogman-movie-review
​Spending half my childhood in Northern Michigan, I was told many tales of ghosts, witches, Bigfoot, and many other bizarre entities that live within the densely wooded forests of our cottage. Another bizarre creature that many of the locals talked about was the Dogman, a bipedal creature that varied between 6 and 8 feet tall with the physical attributes of a man and the head of a dog.  Being one of the younger kids around the lake where our cottage rested, I was tormented by these tales by the older kids whose parents had cottages around the lake as well. 
Now that I’m older, I would dismiss these tales that frightened me in my youth, but what if there is something to them?

American Werewolves, the latest documentary in a series of films entitled Small Town Monsters, produced by Heather Moser and directed by Seth Breedlove, explores this Midwest creature.
The film takes us to small towns through the Midwest such as Bucyrus, Ohio and Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky with the various townsfolk being interviewed. They provide their terrifying eyewitness accounts of their nightly interactions with the legendary Dogman. Author and investigator Ron Murphy along with cryptid investigator Elijah Henderson supplement the film with historical background, Midwest landscapes, and the description and demeanor of the Dogman.

Directed by Seth Breedlove, this documentary is loaded with compelling and fascinating stories from these Midwest towns. While the film is well-crafted and the creature cutaways are impressive, the “Indian burial mound” and the “Skinwalkers” as the possible theory of how the Dogman came to fruition is a bit troubling. If there were Indigenous people that reside or resided in those specific regions or a person that had expertise with Native American religions, legends, and folklore to either corroborate, enhance, or serve as a counterpoint, it would have considerably strengthened the film.

This movie will please television mavens of such shows as
Ghost Hunters, Finding Bigfoot and various other film and television series that investigate the weird and unexplained. If you have not explored these shows but are interested in these oddities, then American Werewolves is a good place to start.

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Paul Grammatico was forbidden to see graphic films as a child and limited to edited TV movies, Paul received his horror information second hand through stories from older friends and siblings. He also vacationed in a desolate cottage, raised in houses with creepy basements, and lived in an apartment with a “full torso apparition”.Inspired by his experiences, Paul is a multi-award-winning screenwriter with an affinity of the weird and unexplained.

<![CDATA['12 LGBTQ+ Horror Movies to Watch After Pride Month']]>Thu, 30 Jun 2022 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/12-lgbtq-horror-movies-to-watch-after-pride-month
Sexuality and gender have been thematically embedded into horror since the Gothic term originated sometime during the eighteenth century. Whether our on-screen heroes (and villains!) are just queer coded or they explicitly display some form of same-sex affection & gender variance, the fear-ridden environments that they live in often blur the lines between fiction and reality. Here is a list of twelve notable LGBTQ+ genre works to check out in this summer. 

1). Vampyres (1974) 

​Directed by
José Ramón Larraz
Rooted in the trope of lesbian vampirism, this undervalued British production takes a bisexual turn, following two female lovers (Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska) who are resurrected with a taste for blood, no matter where it comes from.
It’s sleazy from the start; both women shot to death in the opening minute, but quickly amps up the gore and erotica as they prey on others from sequence to sequence. Shot over a three week period at the iconic Hammer horror set, Oakley Court.

2. Cruising (1980)

Directed by
William Friedkin
Seven years after the release of his supernatural classic, The Exorcist, New Hollywood writer-director William Friedkin returns to the horror genre with this controversial crime-thriller. 
Al Pacino leads as an undercover cop, posing as a gay man in order to track down a serial killer that is actively hunting those involved in Manhattan’s leather scene. With the ambiguity in its title and the open ending at hand, protests plagued the picture — yet it remains a brutal love letter all these years later.

3). Dressed to Kill (1980)

Directed by
Brian De Palma
With Psycho planting the very early seeds of the American slasher craze, many have tried and failed to replicate the impact of its subversions. This chilling neo-noir follows many of the same beats as that 1960 hallmark, from the leading lady switcheroo to the sexually confused villain.
Sparked controversy due to its depiction of violence against women and the seeming association between transitioning and mental illness. Faults aside, an incredible X-rated exercise in style.

4. Deadly Blessing (1981) 

Directed by 
Wes Craven
An often dismissed early work from the Sultan of Shock, telling the story of a young woman (Maren Jensen) left living isolated and accused of incubus activity by a puritanical religious group after the death of her husband. 
It mostly feels like a clip show of concepts that Craven would perfect in his later supernatural slashers, and Deadly Blessing’s queer repression element only kicks in during the final act. It would be wrong to spoil it here — if you haven’t seen this, go in blind.

5. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981) 

Directed by
William Asher
Night Warning is a no brainer, really. It highlights homophobia on a more-than-casual level. As an audience, we see the final boy (yes, they offered up a twist on the final girl!) subjected to frequent bigotry by those around him, all based on a cruel assumption that so many of us face during our adolescent years.
In the end, Billy (Jimmy McNichol) might not even be gay. He has some coding in his softness, but the real homosexual hero of the story comes in the form of his football coach. Highly engaging.

6). Nightbreed (1990)

Directed by
Clive Barker
Originally marketed as a slasher film despite its status as a dark fantasy novella adaptation, Nightbreed was never given a fair chance to flourish upon release. What lies within this now cult classic is 102 minutes of queer coded monster movie madness. 
I mean, it’s centered around a community and culture driven underground because the humans out and about want to destroy them for being different. If that isn’t gay, Craig Sheffer running around in that leather jacket sure is.

7). Poison (1991)

Directed by
Todd Haynes
Recognized as an early work in the New Queer Cinema movement, this Sundance hit (and directorial debut) has a lot to say about the AIDS crisis and repression in a society with hetero as the default. 
Unlike most horror anthologies, these three tales are intercut; a young boy growing up in an abusive household (Hero), a doctor drinking his experimental sex serum (Horror), and a man attracted to a fellow prison inmate (Homo). Told with a unique stylization blending tabloid television and 60’s sci-fi.

8. May (2002)

Directed by
Lucky McKee
Given a limited theatrical release mere months before Angela Bettis stepped in as Carrie in the NBC re-imagining, she made her mark in this psychological heavy hitter. 
This portrays a kind of isolation that feels very rarely explored, and even though the film builds up to be disturbingly twisted, it’s strangely beautiful at the same time. Featuring Bettis in a titular powerhouse performance, and Anna Faris as the lesbian colleague that she falls in love with.

9). High Tension / Haute tension (2003)

Directed by
Alexandre Aja
Yet another divisive flick amongst viewers, this bit of New French Extremity leans into the slasher category with enough torture that it was censored in six areas by the MPAA to secure an American release. 
It’s quite an intense and transgressive horror film of the early 2000s that acts more so as a pastiche of the 70s. Controversial in its final act plot twist and perhaps offensive characterization of lesbianism, though worth watching under the guise of an unreliable narrator.

10. Hellbent (2004)

Directed by
Paul Etheredge
Possibly the most simplistic on this entire list, Hellbent is indeed a groundbreaking queer slasher that screened at about 30 LGBTQ film festivals before its home video release. 
All of the main cast were heterosexual, though none of their characters were, and it successfully implements stock characteristics without letting them fall into LGBT stereotypes. Holds up today with its West Hollywood setting, Halloween atmosphere, scary sexy villain, and combination of gore and gay humor.

11. Knife+Heart / Un couteau dans le cœur (2018)

​Directed by
Yann Gonzalez
Shot on 35mm to evoke an authentic 1979 feel, this ultra-stylish co-production between France, Mexico and Switzerland is well on its way to becoming recognized as a contemporary horror-thriller masterpiece. Set around a gay porn production, a man in a leather mask begins picking off cast members. 
Balancing the tragic love story at its core with gritty giallo and exploitation film beats, this acts not only as a dreamy blood-soaked murder mystery, but an effective tribute to adult cinema.

12. Freaky (2020)

directed by
Christopher Landon
Written by queer creators Michael Kennedy and Christopher Landon, this slasher comedy twist on the Freaky Friday concept sees a seventeen year old girl (Kathryn Newton) switch bodies with a local serial killer (Vince Vaughn). 
If that delightfully absurd premise didn’t sell it to you, the film is jam-packed with queer humor and never tokenizes the community. In a time where it can be so easy to feel misrepresented, this was a bloody breath of fresh air. Read our full review here!

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Born a few towns over from the infamous Amityville Horror house, Steven Thomas has been fascinated with the genre for as long as he can remember. His love for horror stemmed from the likes of Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and was amplified with the release of Scream 4 in his elementary years. Between writing frequent capsule reviews on Letterboxd and plotting to become the next “master of horror”, Steven currently studies Film & Media at CUNY Queens College.

<![CDATA['The Black Phone': Stranger Danger Horror Has Returned With A Vengeance {Movie Review}]]>Wed, 29 Jun 2022 16:30:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-black-phone-stranger-danger-horror-has-returned-with-a-vengeance-movie-review
Balancing both bleakness and optimism, The Black Phone is a solid thriller from longtime scare-master Scott Derrickson (SinisterDoctor Strange) that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and handles its sensitive subjects with care. Make no mistake, if you’ve seen the trailers, then you know what the film is about, and it doesn’t shy away from its touchier topics. However, with a degree of dark humor and great acting, this film proves that there is still life to be squeezed out of the masked psychopath genre.
Based on the short story by author Joe Hill, The Black Phone introduces viewers to siblings Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), who live with an extremely abusive father and are subject to vicious bullying at school. If that isn’t bad enough, an unidentified creep known as “The Grabber” (a sinister Ethan Hawke with the expected black van) is abducting kids, and it isn’t long before Finney is taken, locked in a basement, and looking for a way to escape. And then the miraculous happens. An unplugged phone begins ringing, and Finney can hear the voices of the grabber’s past victims from beyond the grave, giving him advice about how to fight back. 

Such a bleak story calls for bleak visuals, and Derrickson provides the proper aesthetics. There are plenty of clouds and rain, but even when the sun is out, it doesn’t seem to shine as brightly. The jump scares are kept to a minimum, which, in this context, is appropriate. It’s been reported that Derrickson used films like The Devil’s Backbone (2001) for inspiration, and you can feel it by the way he frames some humans as horrific while the ghosts act as frustrated storytellers. The supernatural allies help Finney grow from a class punching bag into an embodiment of hope. Thames sells this role well, and while their characters are unevenly matched his acting is on Hawke’s level in their scenes together. McGraw as Gwen, also gave a great performance, employing fiery language and pluck when called upon. Extracting such good performances is a testament to Derrickson's direction.
Great horror movies often feel real, and in this film, the manner of abduction, Hawke’s terrifying mannerisms, and the many close calls, all feel like a parent’s worst nightmare. The masks, designed by horror guru Tom Savini, could make even the most ghoul-friendly homes lock up on Halloween and the shots of a rough Denver suburb show an area that wouldn't feel safe to begin with. "The Grabber's" basement is well-utilized as the main set piece of the film. In an age where viewers aren't often trusted to stay in one location for too long, The Black Phone wants us to feel trapped like its protagonist and we follow his examinations of the space with attentiveness because the camera-work and performances are so compelling. It would be worth multiple viewings just to go back and see the various features before Finney's ghostly allies help him use them to forge an escape.  
I am obligated by the film critic gods to note any issues one might have with the film. The siblings' abusive father was offered a chance to ask for forgiveness at one point, which left a bad taste in my mouth just because it seemed a bit unearned in the allotted time.  With so much of the plot centralizing in one room with a single antagonist, one could argue that the subplot was simply not necessary. One scene involving that character is quite upsetting; so be warned–the abuse is more graphic than some may prefer. However, I will acknowledge the fact that the writers were likely differentiating between Finney’s father and “The Grabber,” who reveals sad stories of his own childhood but mentions no sort of reconciliation. Even if the sequence of events feels uneven within the context of the film, I give them credit for sticking to the idea of violence being an endless cycle until it’s broken and the moment may stick better with a second viewing.    
The plot is very straightforward and could’ve allowed Hawke a bit more time to shine.  Then again, this movie isn’t about him, so I can understand and respect the restraint. My biggest complaint (ironically involving a lack of restraint) is one I've been repeating for months: advertising. The tendency to overshare may be increasing their box office sales, but over time, it starts to wear on the viewers. Wouldn’t it be better for audience members to walk into a thriller without knowing most of the plot? That’s no fault of the filmmakers and there were still some gasps and laughs during my early screening. With The Black Phone, Derrickson still managed to give us a disturbing vision with a miraculous bit of hope. 

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Davis Clark 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.