Wrong Turn 5 Survival Guide (Upcoming Contest)

How to Survive a Horror Movie

Debuting on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy October 23rd

Now that horror fans have the backstory on the hillbilly cannibals’ “Bloody Beginnings”, the franchise rejoins the infamous disfigured brothers as they return when WRONG TURN 5: BLOODLINES debuts on unrated Blu-ray, DVD and, for the first time ever, Digital Copy on October 23. This all-new terrifying film boasts the talent of horror movie veteran Doug Bradley (Hellraiser), along with Game of Thrones’ Roxanne McKee.

So, you’re lost in the woods, you can’t find your friends, and there’s a psychotic killer on the loose?  Boy, it sure sucks to be you! Too bad you didn’t have this handy how-to guide to tell you the dos and don’ts of escaping a savage murderer.  Follow these four simple tips, and you just might make it to the end of the credits.

Do – Pick Up Stray Weapons

If you’re running through the woods and you happen upon a stray shovel, an axe stuck in a tree, a hefty branch, or any other even mildly useful item, PICK IT UP. If you have to go up against with a deformed villain, shouldn’t you be armed? It seems only fair that you put yourself on even ground with your would-be assassin. On a related note, if you do happen to knock out your assailant, continue attacking them! Isn’t it always the case that our heroes think that their foe is kaput, and then they return for bloody, bloody vengeance? That’s why you should keep attacking them until there is no possible way they’re still alive! And then run. And keep your weapon, just in case.

Do – Use Common Sense

I know you’re frightened, and you should be. But don’t let common sense escape you! A little coherent thought can go a long way when you’re running for your life. For instance, if something looks like a trap, it probably is. If you have a cell phone, or a compass, or a map, use it (quietly, in the case of a cell phone – or, better yet, send a text). If you know that you’re finally somewhere safe, don’t go outside again to look for your friend who has mysteriously disappeared. If your attacker is locked up or contained in some way, leave them there and then run for your life – do not let them persuade you in any way! Basically, try to keep your wits about you, and make good choices.

Don’t – Trust Strangers You Meet, Ever

Chances are this stranger that you think is your only hope for survival is likely not wandering through the woods, the dark and/or deserted town, etc. just for the heck of it. They’re probably also a savage killer, or in cahoots with the original murderous fiend that was in hot pursuit of you, and they most likely will take you to their car, or cabin, and start pulling out the “tools:” chainsaws, hedge trimmers, knives, saws, etc. And everything will be rusty. So, mom’s old advice, “Don’t talk to strangers!” still holds true.

Don’t – Investigate Strange Noises

If you hear a strange noise while on the lam from a vicious killer, for the love of God, don’t go investigate it! No good will come of this. Seriously.  Along those same lines, never, ever ask, “Who’s there?” I can guarantee you that you don’t want to know the answer to that question.

Stay locked in at Entertainment Maven for a chance to win a copy of Wrong Turn 5 on Blu-Ray!

The Innkeepers Blu-Ray Review

http://www.eonefilms.com

The Innkeepers Blu-Ray (2012)

Starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy & Kelly McGillis

Written & Directed by Ti West

Yours truly, Dave Voigt here, also known as The Pop Culture Poet, has finally been acknowledged as an Entertainment Maven. I just want to quickly thank  Matt and his team for bringing me on board and am looking forward to what should be a fun ride!

After a successful run at on the festival circuit, including a stop at our very own Toronto After Dark festival last year, it’s time to dive into a fantastic ghost story out this week on DVD & Blu-Ray from our friends at eOne Films.  Let’s take a look at The Innkeepers.

http://www.eonefilms.com

The Innkeepers centers on the final days of operation of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a quiet New England hotel with a history of paranormal activity which has seen better days.  On the hotel’s final weekend of operation, its final two employees, Luke and Claire (Healy and Paxton), are determined to find proof that ghosts are haunting the halls of this old hotel. Throw in the hotel’s final customer Leanne, a former actress turned spiritualist, and you’ve got a weekend that none of them will ever forget.

The expression of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ really comes to mind when watching The Innkeepers as it really is a masterful cinematic stroke of old school scares in assembling the classic ghost story.  Through a near perfect slow burn as the narrative built, writer/director Ti West hardly ever left the actual setting of the hotel, making the story more about what the audience thought was there than what we actually saw.  West didn’t rely on any lazy ‘shock & awe’ moments throughout the film to get the audience interested, but instead used a solid, logical narrative and fantastic character development to have the audience slowly creeping towards the edge of their seats as the tension built to a fevered pitch.  Rather than have it be overly convoluted and complex, he kept it simple and proved that quite often ‘less can be more’ when done right.

As an ensemble cast, everyone involved in this film worked quite well together.  Paxton and Healy had a great dynamic together and we as an audience are immediately invested in their relationship.  As they explore the dark bowels of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, we care about these two and it made the legitimately scary moments all that more effective.  Kelly McGillis as the former actress now new spiritualist dove into the role and actually embraced the self-deprecating humor that the part brought and it was a lot of fun to watch.

http://www.eonefilms.com

The sound and picture quality on the Blu-Ray were top notch, if you are sitting in a dark room you could easily scare yourself just watching it and the special features include a brief behind the scenes look at the film as well as two feature length commentary tracks; one with director Ti West and various members of the production team, as well as a second commentary track with Ti West and stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as well as the theatrical trailer.

Ultimately The Innkeepers takes us back to a time that relied on storytelling and stylish filmmaking to elicit a scare or two out of its audience, rather than the more torture porn stylings of today.

4 out of 5 stars

The Innkeepers is widely available at retailers, and to rent at video stores across Toronto if you want to check it out.

Don’t forget to keep it locked right here at Entertainment Maven (like us on Facebook).

Nightwatch\Nattevagten Review (Matt Hodgson)

Nightwatch\Nattevagen (1994)

Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Anderson, and Ulf Pilgaard

Screenplay by Ole Bornedal

Directed by Ole Bornedal

I think of myself as a horror movie connoisseur and as a result I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I had not seen Nightwatch until a few nights ago. This film is not necessarily one of the greatest horror movies of all-time, but it is on plenty of ‘the best underrated or underappreciated horror movies’ lists. I think Nightwatch has earned every bit of its reputation as a hidden horror movie gem. This is a taut thriller with some definite horror movie elements that make for a creepy evening in at the movies.

Martin (Coster-Waldau) is a law student hard up for cash to finance his studies. In fact, he is so desperate for cash that he takes a job as a night watchman in a mortuary. As the soon-to-be-retired watchman shows Martin his new digs we quickly get the feeling that things may not be as dead as expected at the mortuary. In addition to his unsettling new job a terrifying story is making headlines in the news. Martin, his beautiful girlfriend Kalinka (Gråbøl), his capricious friend Jens (Bodnia), and Jen’s pious girlfriend (Anderson) follow the series of killings in which a Jack-The-Ripper-esque killer is disposing of prostitutes in a very grotesque manner. The killings quickly become more than just news and part of Martin’s reality as the bodies of the deceased women begin to be deposited in the mortuary during his shifts. Strange happenings at the mortuary and Inspector Wörmer’s more than casual interest in Martin’s extracurricular activities give Martin pause to wonder – was this the best job for him after all?

Right from the start of Nightwatch it feels like a very professional movie and not some cheap old horror film (sorry if you were looking for nostalgia). From the very first scene depicting a dinner party with Martin and his friends, we are treated to beautiful cinematography and even a little symbolism, not always a staple of the horror genre. Martin’s scenes at the mortuary are both suspenseful and frightening. Nothing in the world would make me agree to take Martin’s place during those lonely scenes that would likely inspire some of the most disconcerting journeys of imagination. As the viewers, we truly feel for Martin and share his fear.

One problem with Nightwatch is a bizarre bet that Martin and Jens make near the beginning of the film. It’s a bet fueled by machismo in which the friends can request anything of each other, if they do not comply, then they lose the bet. This is a very flimsy plot device, and unfortunately one that the narrative revisits and relies on throughout the film. If you can suspend your incredulity for this one point then the rest of Nightwatch is very enjoyable.

Finally, one of the greatest strengths of Nightwatch, second only to its unsettling atmosphere, is the traditional who-dunnit at the heart of the film. The characters are quite well written, many having the potential to be the serial killer on the loose, and they should have you guessing at the identity of the killer right up to the final scenes of the film.

If you’re looking to try out an older horror film then take a chance on Nightwatch. But be warned, patrolling the almost silent halls of the mortuary alongside Martin at night is not recommended for the faint of heart.

 

Deadheads – DVD Release and Interview with Brett Pierce

Back in October of last year I attended the Toronto After Dark Film Festival for the first time. 2011 was also my first year as a film blogger, and I was struggling with writing reviews for films that weren’t all that great, but weren’t terrible either. It was a cinch to write positive reviews, but going into Deadheads I thought I was going to be for a tough night at the office. I mean a zombie\buddy\roadtrip movie? Really? I would have had more faith if Joe Dante was at the helm for what was sure to be a horror\comedy, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead, the movie was made by a couple of guys making their first feature who called themselves the Pierce Brothers (Brett and Drew).

Fortunately, Deadheads didn’t feel like a first feature at all! In fact, it turned out to be one of the highlights at the festival for many audience memebers, evidenced by the Bronze audience award Deadheads took home. The list of Deadheads fans would also have to include myself; check out my review. Although Deadheads is a bit of a bizarre genre mash-up, the Pierce brothers have managed to make it work wonderfully, and any self-respecting horror\comedy fan needs to check out this movie.

Below is an interview with half of the writer\director team that made Deadheads, Brett Pierce, and information about the DVD release so you can go on a zombie roadtrip of your own!

Order Deadheads at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DeadHeads-Michael-McKiddy/dp/B007A2NREM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330753654&sr=8-1

INTERVIEW WITH BRETT PIERCE

Deadheads was one of the best movies at Toronto After Dark 2011, garnering the bronze fan award. What’s it been like to write and direct your first feature aside your brother Drew and get this kind of positive response?

Brett: We feel incredibly lucky. When we completed principal photography on DEADHEADS we had blown the entire budget and had zero idea how we were going to complete post production. On top of that, Drew and I were beyond broke. We came back from Michigan to LA after the shoot with pennies in our pockets and maxed out credit cards. We took low paying production assistant jobs because that was all we could get. It was dark days and we had no idea how we were going to finish the film, but were unreasonably optimistic and just refused to give up. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I laughed but I think that was the insanity kicking in. To be at this point is a dream.

Horror comedies have to be one of the most difficult genres to get right, they often miss the mark. Why do you think you were successful with a zombie\buddy\roadtrip movie? On paper it seems like such a bizarre concept.

Brett: I think it works because Drew and I were so dead set on making the characters relatable. I think in Hollywood everyone is obsessed with the pitch or the concept but I could care less about that as long as I’m hooked on the characters. If you make the most interesting and endearing tale about cricket playing ninja rhinos, I’ll watch, and then buy your action figure with rhino ninja sword swinging action.  Drew and I were just so excited about the idea of zombies on a road trip. It screamed fun to us and we agonized on how to make such a ridiculous idea work as a comedy but also something an audience could relate to. It’s about a guy trying to find his long lost love but in our case it’s zombie love.

You had such a great cast to work with, Michael McKiddy, Ross Kidder, and Markus Taylor (to name a few), what was it like to work with these guys?

Brett: It was a party in a way.  We’re all friends and we all went through this crazy ride together and as stressful as it was on a daily basis, we all knew we were  exactly where we wanted to be. Mike, Ross, and Markus are just the guys you dream of working with your whole life as a filmmaker. Most of our shoots we’re a minimum of 14 hours and in a lot of cases it went up to 20. When actors stick through that kind of hell with you and still deliver 100% on every take, you know you cast the right people. I remember one instance, we were shooting at this abandoned bar for nearly a week and it was our last night there. We had just wrapped after like 18 hours and the sun was coming up. Drew and I we’re exhausted but the bar was trashed from shooting so we’re in there with the crew wiping down walls and sweeping the floor. I remember looking up and seeing that all the cast from that night and, some that weren’t shooting that evening, were all there cleaning and packing up. There was no division between cast and crew. It was all just good people.

What do we need to know about the DVD\BLU-RAY release for Deadheads? When and where can we get it?

Brett: Everything comes out on March 6th. The DVD contains a full length director’s commentary from the brother and I as well as two behind the scenes feauturettes. You can actually order it directly from Amazon.com:

Order Deadheads here!

DeadHeads is also available for purchase on ITunes, and the Playstation Network. It will also be available for rent at Blockbuster and all major Video on Demand cable services. Whew, I sound like an advertisement. “Order now!”

Which horror movies have helped you get to this point in your career?

Brett: Well Evil Dead was the biggie for Drew and I but that’s because we grew up amid the production of it. We had a film crew staying in our mother’s house running up her electric bill and eating all her food so it made us feel confident we could do that to mom again when we shot DEADHEADS. Inspiration wise I would say John Carpenter had a huge effect on us. Halloween and The Thing are just so damn perfect it makes me want to cry. Poltergeist and American Werewolf in London are favorites too. As specific to DEADHEADS though I would say it owes a lot to The Goonies, Back to the Future, Gremlins and kind of the Amblin era of the 80’s.

What’s up next for the Pierce brothers? Another horror themed film?

Brett: Horror that will rip your face in two! Ha!  We’re working on a very creepy adventure flick that’s all tied into Halloween myths and Irish mythology. We’re steering more towards a scary Indiana Jones type story this time. We love adventure films, but were very excited to experiment with building tension with the more horrific elements of the story. We love movies that take place during All Hallow’s Eve. It’s the one night of the year when the spirit is closest to ours so that opens the door for all sorts of demented ideas.

The Cat o’ Nine Tails Review – Dario Argento

The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)

Writer and director – Dario Argento, Luigi Collo, and others

Cast – James Franciscus, Karl Malden, and Catherine Spaak

It appears that my foray into the world of Dario Argento has turned from a brief visit into something of a habit. I respect the work of Argento, particularly Supiria, Inferno, Phenomena, and what he has done for horror cinema, but I’m not necessarily what you could call a ‘fan’. His films often remind me of bad dreams, or true nightmares, which is a complement, but at the same time they are often devoid of a coherent plot or character actions, which I’m a bit of a stickler for. That said, in the past two weeks I have developed a weird sort of bond with his work: getting used to living in Nice, France and battling jet-lag, it has become a bizarre ritual for me to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and watch some early Argento on my lap-top while my girlfriend continues to sleep. My odd European life feels akin to the emotions stirred up by the Maestro of Italian horror cinema, Dario Argento. Last time I brought you a review of his first film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. This time I’ll talk about his second film, which came out a year later in 1971, The Cat O’ Nine Tails.

The film is true to Argento’s reoccurring plot in many regards: a killer is stalking victims for some unknown reason, razors and switchblades are weapons of choice, and the killer speaks in a menacing whisper. However, this is where the similarities stop and Cat O’ Nine Tails becomes something refreshingly different from typical Argento Fare. The central characters are an unlikely group of heros: a young journalist, an old blind man, and his 10-year old child (granddaughter?). The killings surround a supposed theft at a secretive genetic research lab which contains many documents which could be incredibly valuable in the right hands. Finally, while razors and knives do make their necessary appearances, the killer’s weapon of choice is a thin whip used for strangulation, like I said, not typical Argento.

The above differences aside, Cat O’ Nine Tails relies less on the typical visual flare of Argento, in fact I may not have guessed that Argento made this film if I didn’t know so beforehand. In fact, plot and a building a sense of mystery are the focal points. While it would have been great to have my cake and eat it too (the visual flair of Argento combined with a competent story), it was hugely surprising and very rewarding to see Argento competently handle a mystery plot, maybe not like a master, but certainly not like an amateur. It should also be mentioned that I watched the film in Italian with subtitles, so this combination in itself probably made the film more tolerable, rather than the horrendous English dubbing that is present in most of his early films.

Give The Cat O’ Nine Tails a chance, if only to see Argento do something slightly different. I don’t know if I will be able to keep this up for Argento’s entire filmography, but I have every intention of making it to Deep Red (1975), which many consider one of his best films and the greatest Giallo film of all time, although I’m not sure if I agree with them.

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