Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th

packaging

a seven hour documentary on the history of the entire FRIDAY THE 13th franchise? based on the fantastic (and surprisingly hefty) coffee-table book CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES and from the creators of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY? yes, please. purchase through amazon or directly from crystallakememories.net.

i’ve watched this in its entirety and can confirm it contains much awesomesauce.

Harbinger Down = FUNDED

Harbinger Down movie poster

thanks to an intense push during the last 24 hours, the practical effects creature feature HARBINGER DOWN kickstarter was successful! having grown up idolizing physical effect artists and given the often overuse of cgi in modern horror, i’m very excited to see what alec gillis and co. come up with. below is a recent interview with gillis where he very candidly discusses the current state of the film industry, the bias against practical effects and the history of the HARBINGER DOWN kickstarter.

 

Harbinger Down (practical fx horror film) Kickstarter

thought this might be relevant to your interests… i recently backed a kickstarter campaign for a practical-sfx-only horror film with a lot of talent behind it (e.g., lance henriksen and the fx company behind the physical effects and creature designs in the thing remake/prequel). the concept, story and pre-production work are all impressive and i really hope they’re able to meet their goal and get this made. more info below…

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from the kickstarter page

What is Harbinger Down?

In the spirit of sci-fi/horror classics, Alien and The Thing, Harbinger Down is a tense, claustrophobic full-length creature film that will feature only practical Animatronic and Makeup Effects. If you’re a fan of the art of Animatronics and Makeup FX, you know that this technique is overlooked by the big studios. I’m hoping that you will help us change that by supporting this labor of love. Read more…

The Slasher Movie Book — Get a Free Copy Here

update: a winner has been randomly chosen and notified (manekochan from the comments section). thanks to all who left comments/sent emails detailing their favorite slasher film. jason, michael, and chucky films were all well represented… as were lesser known slashers such as THE PROWLER, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, and BEHIND THE MASK. oddly, no ELM STREET movies were mentioned… but maybe the remake disenchanted some peeps and they’re trying to avoid thinking about freddy for a while.

despite being a consistent cash cow, the slasher film sub-genre doesn’t get much mainstream attention, and when it does it’s usually negative. while it’s easy enough to find slasher films to watch, trying to find books or documentaries focused specifically on the genre will quickly lead you to discover only a few exist, and you can count the ones worth your time on one hand. well, get ready to use that other hand, because THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK (aka TEENAGE WASTELAND for our friends in the UK) is now available for order, and after looking over a copy for myself, i can honestly say this is a ‘must-own’ for any fan of the genre.

j. a. kerswell (founder of hysteria-lives) has put together a visually stunning, well-written and comprehensive love letter to the slasher genre. many books of this type will either be too text-heavy with few or no images to accompany the text or simply be a gallery of cover art with a few sentences added in as an after-thought. THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK seems to be an almost exact 50/50 mix of text and images that perfectly compliment each other. the text is passionately written and covers the slasher film from its early roots in other genres, year by year through the golden age, through its rebirth in the 1990s and then all the way to the 3D and remake craze we’re experiencing now. while jason, michael and freddy all get attention (as they should), the book references a wide range of films, including both hidden gems and neigh unwatchable garbage. the screenshots and posters are distinctively stylized and creatively laid out, and often feature images i’ve never seen before, whether they be foreign posters for films i’m well versed in or for films i’d never heard of (of which i was humbled and delighted to discover there were so many of).

if you’re reading this site, then there is no doubt this book is for you. if you like, head over to amazon right now and order a copy. choose expedited shipping — you won’t regret it.

however, if you’re more the patient sort, then there’s another option — you could get a copy for free! we’re having a little contest to give away a copy, and all you need to do to enter is email me the title of your very-most-super-favorite slasher film of all-time and a short explanation of why it’s your favorite. please email entries to corey@evilontwolegs.com or leave your answer in a comment below (please use a valid email address).

tell the best nostalgic story of seeing your favorite slasher film for the first time or make the best argument for why your choice is the most bestest slasher film ever made, and the words below could very well become a reality…

80s Horror Icons Today

what if famous 80s horror icons aged normally and were alive today? a co-worker forwarded me this photography art project by federico chiesa and carolina trotta that sets out to answer that very question…. i thought this might be relevant to your interests, so i’ve listed a few examples below. find your way here to see the entire project…



HAUNTED

brad mchargue (fangoria/bloody-disgusting/horrorsquad contributor, former ilovehorror blogger and long-time friend of eo2l) is involved in a really interesting film project that is currently seeking funding. HAUNTED is a found footage horror film, with an intriguing twist. according to the film’s funding page:

HAUNTED tells the story of what happens when a group of paranormal investigators finally find what they’ve been searching for. Andrew, a film student at the University of Michigan, is tagging along with a team of paranormal investigators to document their process for a school project. At first things go according to plan, but as the night progresses, it’s clear something in the house doesn’t want them there. Taking a unique approach to the concept of “found footage” HAUNTED is presented in a quad-screen/real-time format, showing the audience everything that is occurring inside the house all at once. This bold premise will give the audience, for the first time, the complete experience of what goes on during a paranormal investigation while encouraging repeat viewings, as viewers will be excited to fully see everything they only glimpsed the first time!

the four camera split-screen idea is a great hook, and i’d love to see this film idea become a reality. brad and his co-writer are currently looking for backers through their kickstarter page, where you can read more about the film and pledge contributions to assist in getting it produced.

in the past, if i loved a certain film, it was pretty much a certainty that brad would hate it (e.g., JENNIFER’S BODY). the opposite was also true most of the time (e.g., PONTYPOOL). so what happens if HAUNTED gets made, and i really dig it? does that mean brad has to hate his own movie? well, i’m interested to find out, so let’s hope HAUNTED can find the backing it needs.

Stuff I’ve Been Watching — Needs More Cowbell Edition

THE THING

THE THING is one of my favorite films, so i was understandably skeptical when i heard they were making a prequel and/or remake. i was anxious for more ‘thing,’ but it would be so easy for them to screw it up by trying to fix what was ‘wrong’ with the first film since it had such a disappointing theatrical release (yet eventually gathered quite the following on home video). i remember reading an interview with the director, stating his intention to be true to the original — but that’s what every director says to appease the existing fans, while not mentioning all the changes they’re having to make to try to have broader appeal. after seeing THE THING, i’m convinced of two things: 1) it’s confusing to name your prequel the same title as the film it is a prequel to and 2) the director was not lying about staying true to the original.

apart from possibly using cgi where it wasn’t necessary in a few places, there is very little to complain about in THE THING. don’t get me wrong — no aspect of john carpenter’s masterpiece is in danger of being eclipsed by this prequel (most notably in the special effects category), but i doubt making a better film than the original was their goal. it feels like they were trying to make a smart and frightening companion piece to the original that supplements it without contradicting or negating anything already established. if that is true, then they succeeded. everything we know from the original about the norwegian camp is seamlessly integrated into the prequel. many scenes are almost identical in tone and content to scenes from carpenter’s, but there are enough twists and differences that it always feels like a homage instead of a rehash. this may not end up joining the original as a true classic of the genre, but it’s certainly entertaining and well worth seeing.

as i was leaving the theater, happily surprised by how much i liked THE THING, i overheard a girl ask her boyfriend “that’s how it ends?!? what happens next?” i did not overhear his reply, but it’s my hope he’s a true horror fan and already owns the answer to her query on dvd and/or blu-ray.

related video: the cast of THE THING (1981) watch THE THING (2011).

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

i was about to start this off with the phrase “despite not being as original as THE WALKING DEAD…”, but quickly realized that would be completely unfair. it’s true that AMERICAN HORROR STORY is not wildly original, as it borrows shamelessly from well-known genre classics and recent horror successes. however, despite being incredibly compelling, THE WALKING DEAD is an even worse offender, stealing unabashedly from only one coffer (george romero’s), while AMERICAN HORROR STORY at least has the decency to spread its thievery around, often sprinkling pilfered bits from john carpenter, stanley kubrick, and alfred hitchcock evenly about, often in the same episode.

most of the time, the show’s tendency to reference other horror films works, coming across not as laziness or plagiarism — but as a type of horror short-hand. in the most recent episode, the intentions of three home intruders is immediately communicated to the audience in a blink of an eye, not through lengthy exposition but by simply emulating the most famous shot from THE STRANGERS. earlier in the same episode during a flashback set in the 1960s, the familiar violin strings from the score of PSYCHO instantly place us in the correct decade and and convey the intentions of an uninvited guest.

the show’s opening credit may be a little too reminiscent of SE7EN’s famous credit sequence, but minor gripes aside, this is a show you should definitely be watching. i don’t know how long they can keep it up, but so far the haunted house story they are telling has kept me riveted and guessing at every turn, and is scarier, sexier and more unnerving than anything horror television has ever seen. similar to the maturity level seen in DEXTER and TRUE BLOOD, but lacking the lightheartedness and comedy those shows occasionally exhibit, AMERICAN HORROR STORY is a hard-edged series that shows a willingness to push the envelope and go to places that even recent horror feature films seem afraid to.

THE WALKING DEAD

along with everyone else in the world, this week i also watched the season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD. once we get to episodes that frank darabont had little to no input on, i’m afraid the show will take a nosedive, but if they can somehow maintain the quality shown in this first episode, then there will be nothing to worry about. you can already see the impact of the budget cuts in a few questionable cgi effects shots, but other than that, there is little to complain about in this season’s opener.

i will, however, complain about how amc is handling suddenly being in possession of an incredibly successful show. in addition to slashing the budget despite growing success and running off the man who created the damn thing, they also became the first company i know of to greedily double-dip the home video release of a show’s first season before the second season even aired.

behind-the-scenes drama aside, the show is fantastic. and it has also spawned one of the more brilliant parodies in recent memory, which you can see below.

THE WALKEN DEAD

Butcher Knives & Body Counts — Available Now

BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS, published by dark scribe press, is now available for purchase.

unlike most books on the subject, this is not a simple list of films with rehashed commentary or a straight-forward history — instead it’s a collection of essays from over 70 authors,covering more than 80 films, the sum of which is an incredibly in-depth study and analysis of the slasher genre. given the focus of this site, if you’re a visitor here, that probably means you fall squarely in the cross-hairs of the demographic for this book, so you should probably stop reading and go grab a copy at amazon now. go on, i’ll wait.

as you may remember me mentioning a while back, an essay i wrote about my own personal childhood experience with THE PROWLER was accepted into BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS. while my name may not be enough to get you rushing out to the book store, some of the others might (Jack Ketchum, Adam Rockoff, Adam Green, Stacie Ponder, Anthony Timbone… and dozens of others).

editor Vince Liaguno also recently did a 3-part interview about the book for FANGORIA, a small portion of which i’ve excerpted below.

FANG: What went into the process of ordering these films, in terms of their aesthetic and their historical periods?

LIAGUNO: In editing, it gave itself form. Honestly, it just came together. I’d love to take credit for having the brainstorm of putting that full order together, but it really was the way the essays came in, and it just fell into this sequence. I think that’s why I allowed it to grow so big. There was clearly a bunch of films that I could group into something like the Golden Age of Slashers, or a group of essays I could put into the Post-Modern movement.

Then there were a bunch of these oddball essays that didn’t fit into either, almost like if you were going to study a slasher, it would be introductory material. One writer did an article about slashers and their history with video games. Stacie Ponder, who runs the blog Final Girl, did an essay on the novelization of slashers. I just couldn’t stop. We had more theoretical material, equating slashers to different philosophers; some really heavy kind of stuff. When you think about slashers, you usually don’t think about heavy intellectual material. You think about girls in bras and panties getting slaughtered in the woods.

It’s almost 500 pages, which is not the norm for publishing these days. We couldn’t say no. There were so many discoveries, and some of the feedback we’d gotten; somebody wrote me and said, “Thank you so much for not making HALLOWEEN the pinnacle of the book.” HALLOWEEN is only a small part of the book; it gets an essay, but it talks about the music. There were so many other fascinating aspects. One writer, Richard Kane, submitted an essay claiming that THIRTEEN WOMEN [1932], TERROR ABOARD [1933] and THE NINTH GUEST [1934] were really the first slashers. I’m blown away by the way in which people have intellectualized, gone back to those archives of film history and found legitimate cases for the first slasher. Of course, a lot of people argue PSYCHO, Janet Leigh in the shower, is the first. A lot of people argue BLACK CHRISTMAS. But some of these guys go as far back as silent movies.

(full interview: part one, part two, and part three.)

Stuff I’ve Been Watching — The Power of Expectation Edition

and… we’re back.

while i’m sure we all appreciate the subjective nature of taste, as film connoisseurs i think we often take the stance that our critical opinions of films are based on the sum of some objective evaluation of various identifiable aspects of the filmmaking process and that we judge a film only on what is present on the screen. however, i recently watched two films that really drove home the idea that what i was expecting from a film before seeing it drastically influenced my opinion after viewing it.

YELLOW BRICK ROAD

for both of these films, i knew nothing about them other than what i learned from looking at the poster. and YELLOW BRICK ROAD has a really good poster. i don’t know what this girl is flipping out about, but this is fantastic marketing because it makes this film look like it might actually be scary. it’s reminiscent of THE RUINS, but i also got a definite 1970s TEXAS CHAINSAW / LAST HOUSE vibe from it and i was left with the impression that this film was going to be old-school-straight-for-the-balls-that-are-to-the-wall-and-inside-the-pants-that-are-being crapped-in terrifying. i didn’t know whether the threat would be trees, plants, hillbillies or the lollipop guild– and it didn’t matter. i was going to see this film.

and see it i did, but crap my pants i did not. the film starts out well enough, setting up a mystery where an entire town just one day started walking into the woods and died. unfortunately, from there it quickly falls apart, leaving every mystery as mysterious as it was in the first five minutes and padding the time between the opening and the completely unsatisfying climax with scene after scene of useless drivel, philosophical nonsense or, on the rare occasion, one containing a single creepy idea that has some genuine promise that might have been effectively used in another film… but not here. as YELLOW BRICK ROAD stumbled along, leaving a wavy, sporadic trail of crap in its wake like a sick dog, my opinion of the film dropped lower and lower until hitting pretty close to rock bottom as the credits rolled.

that said, when thinking about the film the next day, it occurred to me that a lot of the reason i reacted so negatively to it was because of the promises implicitly made in that poster. had i seen YELLOW BRICK ROAD cold, with no expectations of any kind, i actually think i would have had a much more positive reaction. would i have loved it? probably not. but my “arrrrgggghhhh” reaction of thinking it was probably a 1 out of 5 stars film might very well have been a more reasonable “meh” of 2 or 3 stars had i not been hoping/expecting to love it. we navigate and survive in this world by using incomplete information to make guesses and estimates about how other things in the world are or will be. “will that dog bite me?” “will that car turn left or right?” “will that red berry taste bad?” and yes, “does it seem like that movie will suck?” when the world does not line up with our internal assumptions, the larger that discrepancy is, i think the more powerful our emotional response is and the more we overcompensate by swinging in the opposite direction.

FORGET ME NOT

the poster for FORGET ME NOT is uninspired, to say the least. everything about it — the ‘row of heads’ layout, the constipated look on the actor’s faces, the crappy photoshop filter on the title, and even the title itself — they all scream “this is a ultra low budget, made-over-a-weekend piece of garbage with shitty film quality and shittier audio that you’ll turn off five minutes in.” well, believe it or not — it is none of those things.

FORGET ME NOT is actually a fairly competent dead teenager/ghost movie. it’s not going to win any major awards, but the writing is decent, the characters are interesting enough and the ghosts, while highly derivative of several famous j-horror offerings, are genuinely creepy at times. i’d probably give it 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to any serious horror fans looking for something they might have overlooked. however, i’d suggest getting on dvd — at the time i tried to watch it on netflix instant, some of the sound channels were missing (evident in the initial party where everyone is dancing in the background and you can hear dialogue — but no music, which was not an interesting artistic choice as i first thought). although, perhaps netflix has fixed that issue by now.

similar to YELLOW BRICK ROAD though, i wonder what my feeling on this film would be had i seen it completely cold. am i giving it a 3.5 because of its inherent qualities or because its poster led me to believe it’d be a 1? is it possible i would have judged these films of roughly equal quality had i gone in to both of them with no expectations? maybe it wouldn’t have made a huge difference — it’s hard to say not having had that experience, but i have the feeling that my supposedly objective measurement of their quality as films would have been a lot closer had i not seen or formed such strong opinions based on those posters.

if you’re reading this and you haven’t seen these films, then i’ve just given you a very different set of expectations than i had going into them. i wonder how that will effect your judgement of the films, should you see them… if you want to let me know — leave a comment below.