Interviewed

Interviewed

Interviewed is a short black comedy from Cascadia Dread. Shot and produced in Redmond, WA, it tells the story of Max Derickson, a young would-be professional interviewing for a position with a prestigious company. However, he might be in for more than he can handle when his interviewers appear to be more sinister than he expected... 

 

Interviewed Poster.jpg

Director's Statement:
There are few situations we go through in life more stressful and nerve-wracking than a job interview. Whether you are a recent college grad applying for your first post-university job or an experienced professional looking to move up the corporate ladder, the interview process is frequently the most detested step in job hunting. They often tell you that it's just business and nothing personal, but what if it's not??? This short black comedy, Interviewed, plays on those well-known fears and takes them to a new level.

 

Written & Directed by Christopher C Wyatt, the short stars Jacob Crowe, Deanna Quintana Garcia, Brian Carlin, Anthony Navas, and Madison DeCambra. It was co-produced by Wyatt and Brien Gorham, Rakesh Malik served as Director of Photography with practical effects by Lisa Van-Dam Bates. 

To be featured in the 2017 Crypticon Film Festival. 

IMDB Link

Split Review

Split Review

A modest return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. 

Halloween Treats

Happy Halloween! Dreadful Andrew here with a short list of underrated movies and a few books that are specifically related to Halloween. 

FILMS

An informal survey of various online lists of underrated horror movies turned up multiple mentions for three titles specifically related to Halloween. First up, Trick 'r Treat from writer-director Michael Dougherty, released in 2007, was by far on more lists than any other titles. Fellow Dreadful, Brian Carlin, reviewed this movie in depth recently so I will refer you to his review. http://cascadiadread.squarespace.com/features/2016/10/10/movie-review-trick-r-treat

If you are a fan of writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's 2016 film, Green Room, watch his first feature film from 2007, Murder Party, which appeared on several underrated horror film lists. Christopher (played effectively by Chris Sharp) finds an invitation to a murder party on his way home from work on Halloween night. With no one to spend the evening with other than his beloved cat, Sir Lancelot, Christopher creates a homemade knight costume out of a cardboard box and heads off to the party. He arrives at the party in an industrial area in Brooklyn to find it hosted by a group of five unlikable, pretentious art students who are all vying for a grant from Alexander. Christopher is captured by the artists and discovers he is to be the subject of their murderous art project. Tensions grow among the artists after Alexander shows up with his drug dealer Zycho. Drugs and alcohol are consumed and a game of extreme truth-or-dare involving sodium pentothal brings out some surprising revelations, ups the competition and quickly increases the body count. It is amazing to see what Saulnier could do with a small budget and limited digital effects in this horror comedy.

Also appearing on multiple lists was Halloween III: Season of the Witch released in 1982. Now we know that the original intent of the team of this franchise was to create an anthology series and tell a different story with each film. This film was their attempt to go in that direction and it did not work at the time. There is not much of Michael Myers here (a cameo, of sorts), but if you forget about him and go with the premise, you have a pretty good '80s horror movie. While this may not be a perfect movie (and this is one the Dreadfuls would like to explore in depth in the future), it deserves a second look.

BOOKS

Anthologies of short stories are popular in horror fiction and Paula Guran has compiled two fine Halloween anthologies. Halloween (Prime Books, 2011) is a collection of writings which have been previously published and includes pieces by Thomas Ligotti, Peter Straub, H. P. Lovecraft, E. Nesbit, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and many others. Guran's newer collection, Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre (Prime Books, 2013), is a compilation of stories written specifically for this collection and includes works by Laird Barron, Carrie Vaughn, Jonathan Maberry, and Bellevue, Washington-based author Brenda Cooper.

Earthling Publications is a small press located in Northborough, Massachusetts which publishes limited editions in its annual Halloween series of novels. Their 2016 title is They Say a Girl Died Here Once by Sarah Pinborough. A complete list of the books in the series can be found at http://www.earthlingpub.com/halloween.htm

If you have seen Trick 'r Treat, you know that a graphic novel/comic book approach fits nicely with the film. It is only fitting that until there is a sequel, we have Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead (Legendary Comics, 2015) to tide us over. This anthology includes 4 stories with the beloved Sam tying them all together. 

Dark Tides by Chris Ewan (Minotaur Books, 2015) is more of a thriller, but includes some tropes that will be familiar to horror fans. Many residents on the Isle of Man celebrate a tradition called Hop-tu-naa on October 31. When she was eight years old, Claire Cooper's mother vanished on Hop-tu-naa. As a teen, Claire is befriended by a group of local teens who try to help her move past this unfortunate anniversary. They participate in dares and pranks until things go badly one year for the group. Years later, members of the group are being killed on Hop-tu-naa and Claire, now a police officer, investigates their murders.

I hope you enjoy discovering some new treats for Halloween or savor some old ones. 

Movie Review: Trick 'r Treat

Movie Review: Trick 'r Treat

With October in full swing, there are so many horror movies that are perfect for this time of year. In this review, Brian takes a look at one of the few horror films that directly uses the holiday for its storytelling.

The Crypticon Experience

The Crypticon Experience

"You can do anything, but you can't do everything." 

When choosing to attend a con, there are many possibilities. Some attend to network with horror creators, others to meet a favorite horror celebrity, and still others to bond with fellow horror fans over a mutual appreciation of the genre. In attending Crypticon here in Seattle, I am pleasantly surprised to report that they offer something for everyone! In fact, there are so many opportunities that a horror fan will find themselves presented with some tough choices over what to do, what to see, and what souvenirs to take home. 

This year's Crypticon was held at the SeaTac Airport Hilton. This provided a convenient location for both travelers and locals alike with a friendly staff and quite a few rooms for panels, screenings, vendors and fans to walk around and enjoy. 

A Crypticon Monster in the lobby! 

A Crypticon Monster in the lobby! 

Panels: Indulge your inner horror fan, acquire a few new skills, and engage in spirited discussion! 

First up was the Horror Comics and Graphic Novels panel, moderated by local artist Denis St. John and featuring commentary from Ren Cary, Rebecca Brown, and Julie McGilliard. Each of them presented intelligent analysis, and Ms. Cary generously passed around a few comics that brought classic horror stories to life. In addition, the panel also gave a great discussion about horror comics and the challenges of the genre as opposed to horror film - that the comics provide powerful visuals and imagery since they do not use sound or special effects the way a film can. 

Next up was the most spirited panel I attended this weekend: Who Would Win? This panel was moderated by Jasen A. Mortensen and featured Brittany Mosley, Charlie Kruger, John M. Lovett and Kaj-Eric Eriksen. This one definitely included the most interaction, as the audience debated and discussed which horror movie monsters would win in the ultimate cage match! 

And the winner is...the Xenomorph Queen!

And the winner is...the Xenomorph Queen!

Another panel, Black Representation in Horror was moderated by fellow Dreadful Isabella L. Price, with contributions from Ren Cary, Abie Ekenezar, and Crystal Connor. Each of the panelists provided insightful education on the influence of Black lives and culture in the horror genre. Video of the panel will be available soon! 

In addition to horror fans, there were many attendees who were interested in making their own horror content, and there were plenty of panels for them on topics ranging from screenwriting to production, to how to get your film out once it's done. 

Finally, there were numerous screenings of material from local and national filmmakers, giving attendees all the best the Northwest horror scene has to offer. 

Vendors: Supporting entrepreneurial artists and unique souvenirs! 

By far, the most challenging part of Crypticon is deciding which souvenirs to take home with you. Whether you want to take home movies, clothing (especially T-shirts), comics, movies, books, or even soap, the vendor tables provide you the opportunity for truly unique items to remind you of your experience. 

Souvenir soaps courtesy of Deeply Dapper. Favorite titles of the author include: "Make It Soap," "Gross Busters" "Clean Me Up, Scotty!" and "A Soap of Ice and Fire."  Check them out at http://deeplydapper.storenvy.com/

Souvenir soaps courtesy of Deeply Dapper. Favorite titles of the author include: "Make It Soap," "Gross Busters" "Clean Me Up, Scotty!" and "A Soap of Ice and Fire." 

Check them out at http://deeplydapper.storenvy.com/

The Sayer of the Law. Courtesy of Tim Peirson, Cast of Thousands Studio. Learn more at http://castofthousandsstudio.com/

The Sayer of the Law. Courtesy of Tim Peirson, Cast of Thousands Studio.

Learn more at http://castofthousandsstudio.com/

Additional work from Cast of Thousands and Tim Peirson

Additional work from Cast of Thousands and Tim Peirson

Conclusion: A great experience for fans 

Many different types of horror were represented at Crypticon: from movies to literature, to comics and makeup, Crypticon offers so many opportunities to enjoy the horror genre in the great Northwest! This review only represents only a fraction of the exciting events that are offered by a well run convention. 

Next year will be at the SeaTac DoubleTree, and we at Cascadia Dread are very excited! 

 

Name that Zombie Quiz!

Name that Zombie Quiz!

After (or even before) listening to this week's podcast, try your hand at this little quiz...

Movie Review: The VVitch

Movie Review: The VVitch

I got into an early screening of the film with a Q&A with the director, which doesn't explain why this review is coming out 2 weeks later.... Also this view is not supported by the Church of Satan... yet.

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2009 parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is a mashup combining Jane Austen's classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice with elements of modern zombie fiction, crediting Austen as co-author.

The Witch-Movie Review by Anthony Navas

The cinematography effectively captures the bleak New England rural environment. This starkness gives The Witch an unsettling, chilling atmosphere rather than the gratuitous gore-fest so common in horror movies.

   Like most teenagers in high school, I was assigned Arthur Miller’s The Crucible which, to be quite frank, bored me to tears. I partially blame my teacher. In literature class we learned about the parallels between the Salem witch trials and the Red Scare of the 1950s. In a very strict and rational tone, our teacher instructed us what to think about the play without much room for discussion.   

   As I read the text and later watched the 1996 film adaptation, I saw the characters as just stand-ins for Miller’s condemnation of Joe McCarthy’s crusade against suspected communists. It's a message I agreed with but when writers are too obvious in their intentions, the work suffers. The characters didn’t feel like real people whose perspective I can share: I couldn’t see the evil and madness they experienced that led to such mass hysteria and tragedy. 

   This came to mind when I saw The Witch, the remarkable debut by Robert Eggers. Like Miller’s play, the film takes place during the Puritan settlement of New England in the 17th century. There's accusations of witchcraft. Both stories show, quite effectively, the destructive consequences of religious fanaticism and repression. 

   But The Witch is a psychological horror movie that treats witchcraft as a real threat. A family is banished from a Puritan hamlet due to heresy committed by the patriarch William (Ralph Ineson). What he exactly did is unclear. After the family settles on a small, desolate farm in the New England woods, the youngest child disappears while in the care of the daughter Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Things get worse after their crops die and Caleb, the eldest son, vanishes in the middle of the night. The family is on the verge of despair and soon suspects Thomasin of witchcraft. 

   In an interview with Vice Talks Film, Eggers said he wanted to make a “Puritan’s Nightmare.” To some extent, he successfully brought that nightmare to the screen. The film convincingly depicts the hardships and dread prevailing over the family that is slowly destroyed by a supernatural force. The cinematography effectively captures the bleak New England rural environment. This starkness gives The Witch an unsettling, chilling atmosphere rather than the gratuitous gore-fest so common in horror movies. There are genuinely disturbing scenes that stay with you long after this movie is over.

   The foreboding mood comes partly from the religious fervor that dominates the family’s everyday life. In several scenes Katherine, the matriarch played by Kate Dickie, prays incessantly and talks of sin and evil. The film also suggests of an incestuous attraction Caleb has for sister Thomasin, a result of the sexual repression that was so much a part of Puritanism. The oppressive guilt felt by the characters is manifested in a witch lurking in the woods.  

   The Witch is not without its flaws. To achieve a level of historical accuracy, Eggers wrote the dialogue in Elizabethan English, an achievement that is quite impressive. This adds to the movie’s realism, but sometimes it left me feeling detached from the characters (perhaps this was Eggers' intent but it’s not so clear). There are scenes when the dialogue sounds unconvincing as if we are witnessing actors practicing their lines rather than performing them. And after the movie builds up all this tension, the ending feels anti-climactic and a little predicable.

   In the last decade or so, mainstream horror films have been dominated by zombies, vampires and serial killers. The theme of witchcraft isn’t seen that often in the genre anymore. The Witch is an eerie and disturbing tale of a supernatural figure that, in recent times, had lost its ability to genuinely frighten audiences. It’s also a film that takes a bleak look into the Puritan psyche in the early history of North America.          

Movie Review: Re-Animator

Movie Review: Re-Animator

Re-Animator Trailer

What are the unintended consequences of picking up the tools of life and death? Director Stuart Gordon answers with a scary and darkly funny horror film that has gone on to become a cult classic, originally adapted from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

  • Genre: Mad Scientist, Zombie Horror, Horror Comedy
  • Run time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Director: Stuart Gordon
  • Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story); Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon (screenplay)
  • Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Samson.
  • Release: October 18, 1985 by Empire Pictures
  • Re-Animator is available on most major streaming services and on home video
  • My grade: 4 Stars

Re-Animator is an example of how blending classic horror genres (Mad Scientist, Zombies) can create a sum that is greater than its parts. Director Stuart Gordon brings us a film that uses our concerns about life and death, as well as Man's capacity to manipulate these forces that are beyond our control to warn us of the madness that can ensue. It's an outstanding campy contribution to one of my favorite and perhaps under appreciated decades for horror, the 1980's. 

The film opens at a university in Zurich with our protagonist, Herbert West, portrayed with mesmerizing intensity by Jeffrey Combs. He injects his mentor, Hans Gruber (unintentionally linking it with one of the best movies ever made) with his re-animating agent. Gruber's violent and gory reaction to the serum hints at the trouble that is about to come when West arrives at Miskatonic Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Massachusetts. 

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) prepares a dose of his re-animating agent. 

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) prepares a dose of his re-animating agent. 

The script and direction are perfectly in sync. Gordon's direction of the screenplay shows that there are no wasted scenes, and many choices made in the opening act of the film are brought to gory fruition in the final act. The minimal number of locations in the film (the hospital, Dan Cain's house, the basement, and the morgue) keep the characters in an isolated world, with no escape from the terrifying consequences of their creations. There are a few small issues with the script including the re-animating agent's inconsistent effects, as well as a couple of plot holes regarding the conclusion of the story, but they do not distract from the ability to enjoy the film. 

Cinematographer Mac Ehlberg gives us plenty of jarring closeups that focus on the the character's reactions to the proceedings. The scenes with re-animated corpses work well, with plenty of movement to give the viewer a first person experience of tussling with a zombie, and the flickering light creates an extra sense of peril. Lee Percy's editing also creates a number of cuts that gradually build suspense until the full terror of the film's many fight sequences is revealed, as well the hideous intentions of West. 

But it is truly the performances that make this film special, in particular the performance of Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. Combs's menacing facial expressions, enunciation,  and a complete disregard for his own safety as well as those of his colleagues create a terrifying character. His work not only drives the plot, but also affects all of the other characters, from his slow corruption of the compassionate Dan Cain (an emotional Bruce Abbott) to the awakening of his rival Dr. Carl Hill's (the towering David Gale) own monstrous intentions.  

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) prepare to experiment on their first human test subject. 

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) prepare to experiment on their first human test subject. 

The rest of the cast is rounded out by some solid performances. David Gale plays a sinister villain who serves as a scientific rival to West and a romantic villain for Cain. His facial features and eerie smile introduce his character with efficient exposition. Barbara Crampton's portrayal of Megan Halsey is a well done example of the storyteller's adage "Create an extremely likable character, then do the worst thing you possibly can to him or her." Bruce Abbott's performance as Dan Cain provides a conscience to the film and a contrast to the amorality of Herbert West. Finally, Robert Sampson's Dean Halsey demonstrates effective use of physicality and fearlessness. 

The set design, makeup effects, and stunt work are the last piece of the puzzle. The liberal use of fake blood, makeup, and bruises provide the viewer with unspoken effects of the plot of the film and the music and sound effects up the terror levels, which are broken by the humorous observations made by the characters. Finally, the drab gray, brown, black and white of the sets and costumes help balance out the bright red blood and bright green color of the re-animating agent.  Full disclosure: I always reward a couple extra points to filmmakers who make the choice to use makeup and practical effects due the additional ingenuity required to make them work. 

Overall, Re-Animator uses a dark campy sense of humor and horror to issue a warning about Man's limits against the Laws of Nature. It's gone on to a cult following over the years, and offers quite a bit to fans of both horror and 80's movies. Check it out! 

My grade: 4 Stars (out of 5).

Additional Observations and Trivia (Courtesy of IMDB and my own observations - possible mild spoilers)

  • David Gale was made to shave his head and wear a toupee, since it was found to be in touch with his character's vanity, and also made creating the head on the desk effect easier.
  • Melvin the  Re-Animated is portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger's long time stunt double, Peter Kent. During my research for the review, I found an image of a Re-Animator poster autographed by him that says "Watch your fingers!" 
  • In a Reddit AMA, Jeffrey Combs was asked about what still scares him, despite his work in the horror genre. Ironically, he said that he's scared of blood! He also mentioned that he lied during his audition that he was familiar with Lovecraft to get the part. 
  • If you search YouTube, there is an audio recording of Jeffery Combs reading the original Lovecraft short story, "Herbert West: Re-Animator." 
  • The film is only loosely based on the short story. The filmmakers have said that they drew much of their inspiration from the Frankenstein stories and films. 
  • The special effects team used 25 gallons (95 liters) of fake blood during the shoot. 
  • Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Robert Sampson, and Stewart Gordon visited an insane asylum and a morgue to prepare for the film
  • Hey, it's the 80's! random observations: synthesizer beats used in the film's score, as well as the suits worn by Carl Hill and Dean Halsey. You can also see a Talking Heads poster on the wall in Dan's bedroom.
  • One of the best camera shots from the film is when Melvin first wakes up, we zoom in quickly with Peter Kent making some great facial expressions!