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11

Top 18 Horror Films of 2018

Wow…this years list took longer than previous years – so many movies, so little time! I started this list with close to 60 titles before narrowing it down to the 18 films below. While I know the title is “Top 18 Horror Films…”, keep in mind that these are just my favorites so I’m sure that you’ll disagree with some of my choices (cue the Birdbox hate) as well as some of my intentional omissions (Halloween, Hereditary, Suspiria). That said, there are still a bunch of films that were highly recommended to me that I have not yet had the chance to watch: Unsane, Witch in the Window, Marrowbone and The Clovehitch Killer being among them.

Oh yeah, the order of the below films is totally random.

 

MANDY

Let me start by saying I don’t usually dig on Nicolas Cage and his particular brand of overacting but holy shit, what an insanely gory, wild ride this film is. Some say that it is too long and could have used heavier editing but I say nay, this movie is damn-near perfect. Cage is fittingly crazy, Linus Roache as cult-leader Jeremiah Sand is amazingly creepy and the score by the late Johann Johannsson is perfection.

REVENGE

The “rape-revenge” genre is not one that usually rates highly with me but once in a while, like last year’s Hounds of Love, one comes along that really blows me away and this year it was Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge. Aside from being a visually stunning piece of film, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as our heroine Jen was my favorite female ass-kicker of the year until I saw Cold Hell – more on that below.

A QUIET PLACE

There’s always a lot of shade thrown at sort of “big-budget/wide-release” horror films and while I tend to agree that most of them are shit, there’s usually at least one or two a year that hit the marks that we look for as horror fans. While A Quiet Place was never very clever and it definitely had some plot holes, it more than made up for it in overall unnerving creepiness.

PYEWACKET

Kids need to learn that summoning demons is not cool. Nicole Munoz and Laurie Holden knock their characters out of the park but to steal from my March 31st review, “the film is so good is due to the work of writer/director Adam MacDonald (Backcountry). Mr. Macdonald takes what is really just a simple premise that could have easily been ruined with cheap jump-scares and tons of gore and he manages to hold back and build that tension that is the real backbone of a truly scary film.”

MOM AND DAD

Nicolas Cage again?? You betcha! This time with Selma Blair. More “black comedy” than a horror film, what would happen if a rogue television signal caused all parents to suddenly want to kill their kids? Well, watch and find out! Plus Nick Cage going nuts while wearing a Misfits shirt? Bonus.

TERRIFIED

Terrified won “Best Horror Film” at Fantastic Fest. Well, no shit. Terrified lives up to it’s name and is easily the scariest film I’ve seen this year and possibly in several years. My one minor gripe is a bit too much CGI but in no way does it lessen the experience. Go ahead and watch this alone in a dark basement at night like I did.

SUMMER OF 84

The 80’s nostalgia thing has to be nearly over but thankfully Summer of 84 snuck in before the whole thing died. A fun story of a group of kids (in the 80’s..duh) who suspect that their cop neighbor is a serial killer so they decide to investigate.

THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY

If you thought that Magdalene laundries were sketchy before, just wait until you see The Devil’s Doorway. A rare “found-footage” film that I actually enjoyed, two Irish priests head to a Magadelene laundry in 1960’s Ireland to investigate reports of a miracle but find something much worse.

VERONICA

And in yet another episode of “kids need to stop screwing with demons”, we have this Spanish nightmare from Paco Plaza of REC fame. Really eerie throughout.

MON MON MON MONSTERS

Awesome little gem out of Taiwan about a bullied teen joining up with his former bullies to torture a monster. Humans are the worst.

BIRDBOX

Yup, here it is! So much hate for this movie and I just don’t get why. While it definitely wasn’t perfect, it was enjoyable, well-done and had great performances by Bullock, Malkovich and the rest of the cast.

HOLD THE DARK

Such a majorly different film than Jeremy Saulnier’s last two works (Blue Ruin and Green Room) which makes sense as he didn’t write this like the previous two but directed a script from his buddy Macon Blair from the novel by William Giraldi. A very dark film with a great performance by Jeffrey Wright.

APOSTLE

If you saw the name Gareth Evans and expected this to be a wild action film like The Raid & The Raid 2, you’re in for a surprise. Comparison’s to 1973’s The Wicker Man are rightfully being made but it’s a stand-out film.

THE CURED

Admittedly the zombie genre has become tired but there are still those that come along and stand out above the dozens of “same shit/different day” that are released every year. This one speaks to what might happen to the zombies if a cure was found and they were allowed to return to society; how would they be treated? Very engaging movie.

COLD HELL

And just when I thought Revenge had the most awesome heroine of the year, I watched Cold Hell. Holy shit. Violetta Schurawlow plays Özge, a woman who becomes the target of a vicious serial killer…sucks to be him.

GHOST STORIES

I love a good anthology film, especially one that really knows how to use the “wrap-around” as a major part to the story. A professional “ghost debunker” is given three stories to investigate that are supposed to change his cynical ways.

CARGO

Another zombie film makes it onto the list mainly on the strength of the performance of Martin Freeman as Andy who is trying to survive the apocalypse in the Australian outback with his infant daughter in tow.

OVERLORD

Nazi zombies? No, this isn’t Dead Snow, this is Overlord! Set in WWII, the Nazis have learned how to bring the dead back to life (Trioxin?) which really throws a wrench into conventional warfare. This movie is super-fun and one to watch immediately.

 

Well, there you have it! Go ahead and hate me for including Birdbox over Hereditary, I’m a big boy, I can take it! I will say that if I were forced to pick favorites, it’d be between Mon Mon Mon Monsters, Cold Hell and Terrified.

Hopefully you’ll find a few films on this list that you haven’t seen yet and will change your life…or at the very least entertain and scare you for a few hours.

 

Stay gory my friends!

 

12

Buy / Wait / Rent: January 2019 Blu-Ray Releases

We sift through the new release heap so you don’t have to!

Welcome to Horror News Network’s Buy / Wait / Rent, a monthly article devoted to the most highly-anticipated horror releases on blu-ray. Here you will find the best home video releases of each month, along with our opinion on whether each film is a must-own on the first day of release, something you should wait to buy until it goes on sale, or something you’re better off renting for a one-time watch. And now, on to the notable new releases of January 2019!


1/8/19:

WAIT

Warner Bros. Home Video television releases have seen significant price cuts in just a few weeks lately, and Castle Rock will likely be no exception. I recommend that fans of this series wait just a bit longer to add this set to their collections.

RENT

Hell Fest didn’t exactly win the hearts and minds of audiences and critics when it released in theaters this past September. If you absolutely have to see it, a rental is probably the best way to go with this title.


1/15/19:

BUY

Arrow Video’s special edition of Crimson Peak was originally supposed to release in November. Now that it will finally be available, I recommend Guillermo del Toro fans pick it up right away! Arrow Video is known for high quality releases of niche titles, so it’s surprising that they’re coming out with a limited edition version of del Toro’s 2015 studio picture, Crimson Peak. Chock full of video extras and an 80-page hard bound book, this is an excellent addition to any del Toro fan’s collection!

WAIT

I am a huge Halloween fan, so it pains me to say this: the 2018 film isn’t so great. You can read my entire review by clicking this link. With that in mind, it still won’t be the worst Halloween movie in my collection, and I know I’m not the only completionist out there who will want to own every title in the storied series. Therefore, I suggest die hard fans give it a few weeks for this title to drop in price before picking it up.

RENT

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween seems to have lost its subtitle with its home video release. After losing Jack Black and netting a significantly lower Rotten Tomatoes score than its predecessor, this sequel only belongs on the shelves of the most hardcore R.L. Stine collectors.


1/29/18:

BUY

By nearly all accounts, the filmmakers, cast and crew of Suspiria (2018) did all the right things when updating this story for a modern audience. The release date pricing is below $15 at some retailers, making this title an easy must-own release on day one. Give it a shot if you’re interested in this kind of movie.

 

13

‘What to Expect in the World of Horror in 2018’ Prediction Results

January 1st, 2018 was such an exciting time for horror fans! Big projects were being announced, everyone was fired up about the upcoming Halloween movie, and conventions were beginning to announce some incredible guests. Just like The Legendary Criswell, I made a few predictions on that day about what we can expect in the world of horror in 2018, and I promised to revisit my premonitions in December. Well, here we are… so let’s see how I did!

Here is a link to the complete original article if you would like to dig deeper than my abbreviated quotations below. 


It tu, Brute?

What I Predicted:

“I expect to see more studios catching on to the formula which made It such a major success (smooth out any rough edges and produce a mainstream picture which looked and felt more like a studio film tailor-made for an IMAX screen than any of its horror contemporaries).”

What Happened in 2018:

A Quiet Place became the 12th highest grossing film of 2018, earning $188 million and beating out big budget action features like Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Ready Player One. This PG-13 horror offering wowed audiences and critics alike, and its non-violent, non-confrontational storytelling drew in viewers who weren’t traditional horror fans. Halloween (2018) made nearly as great of a killing as A Quiet Place, netting $159 million and beating out those same exact aforementioned studio tentpoles. Given its reliance on grisly or comical moments over coherent storytelling, this new Michael Myers/Laurie Strode flick most certainly borrowed more from the tired and true studio formulas than the independent filmmaking tactics originally employed by John Carpenter back in 1978, and it paid off (financially).

Meanwhile, the grittier and edgier (and better) horror films of 2018 which were aimed directly at seasoned horror audiences earned much less at the box office. Hereditary took in $44 million and Suspiria (2018) earned just $2.4 million.


2018: The Year We Look Backward

What I Predicted:

“Luke Skywalker is in another Star Wars movie! Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049! John Goodman’s Dan is alive in the Roseanne reboot! There’s nothing more refreshing to fans than the safety net of nostalgia. The future is scary- and so are its unknown original intellectual properties- so more and more production companies are looking at the proven successes of the past to mine sort-of new material…  What else woulds fill seats in theaters quite like Robert Englund returning as Freddy Krueger for one last battle with Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson? Or Doug Bradley donning his infamous Pinhead makeup for a Hellraiser reboot?”

What Happened in 2018:

Jordan Peele chose to follow up on the tremendous success of Get Out with two reboots of classic franchises: The Twilight Zone and Candyman. It’s too early to tell if The Twilight Zone will feature any classic storylines or characters, or if Candyman will usher in the return of Tony Todd, but Peele’s clout in the industry will certainly bring serious attention to these long-dormant franchises.

While my more specific predictions- such as the original stars from A Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser returning for new movies- haven’t happened yet, Robert Englund did guest star in costume as Freddy Krueger on the Halloween episode of The Goldbergs this year!


Convention Congestion

What I Predicted:

“photo opportunities with their favorite actors in the iconic makeup and costumes of their respective roles… Couple this with great new guests entering the scene by the minute, and I expect conventions to be stickier, sweatier, and more hectic than ever before!

What Happened in 2018:

In-costume photo ops continue to please fans and photo op companies alike, and 2018 saw Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, and numerous Jason Voorhees actors slip back into their classic duds for special appearances. Huge actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeff Goldblum made rare appearances across the country, and conventions certainly got stickier, sweatier, and more hectic than ever before! Without naming any names, there were stories all over the web this year about big conventions reaching capacity and fans with paid tickets being shut out of venues for extended periods of time. With the kinds of guests now being offered, demand is greater than ever before, and seasoned convention veterans have been conditioned to expect these kinds of inconveniences to come with the territory at these massive shows.

Pictured: Tom Atkins and Me, Photo by HNN Photographer Nick Banks


The Walking Desperation

What I Predicted:

I expect Carl(‘s death) is just the tip of the iceberg as this franchise tries to lure back some of its lost viewership, seemingly unaware of the fact that it’s stunts like these which drove them away in the first place… Buckle your seat belt, because the sky is the limit for what you might see if you’re still watching The Walking Dead in 2018!

What Happened in 2018:

We here at HNN painstakingly covered the continual ratings decline of The Walking Dead in 2018. Coincidentally, the viewership is steadily declining in spite of (or maybe because of) the highly-publicized departures of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie, and Tom Payne’s Jesus. Lincoln’s departure as Rick was easily the most ridiculous of the series’ stunts in 2018, as it was announced on Talking Dead  just 10 minutes after his final moments on the show that Lincoln will return as the character for a series of upcoming TV movies!


I must say, my predictions were pretty darn good! I hope everyone had a wonderful 2018. Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more predictions for the future of horror, and complete coverage of the fate of our beloved genre and favorite franchises as it unfolds in real time!

 

14

Trailer for Neil Jordan’s ‘Greta’ Offers Suspense and Scares

Written and directed by Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, The Crying Game), Greta stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Suspiria, Let Me In) as Frances and Isabelle Huppert (Elle) in the title role. Slated for it’s worldwide release on March 1, 2019, the official synopsis is as follows:

A sweet, naïve young woman trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) doesn’t think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta. The two become fast friends — but Greta’s maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta’s life is what it seems in this suspense thriller from Academy Award-winning director Neil Jordan.

Enjoy the first trailer for this obsessed-stalker film below and check back to Horror News Network often for more news on Greta as it becomes available.

 

Stay gory my friends.

15

‘Overlord’ Finishes Third at Box Office; ‘Venom’ and ‘Halloween’ Continue to Add to Totals

Bad Robot’s long-delayed and rumored about World War Two zombie tale Overlord finished third at the weekend box office while the break-out hits of October, Venom and Halloween (2018), continued to pad their already impressive totals.

Overlord, once rumored to be the fourth installment in the Cloverfield franchise, finished third with a modest $10.1 million dollar debut.  The hard-R tale of mad zombie science run amok may have been too much for the average movie-goer (who gave the film a mediocre B Cinemascore rating), but Overlord did score high with critics (the film currently has an aggregate rating of 81% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).  The film will certainly earn back all of its production costs ($38 million) once international sales are included, but don’t expect Overlord to perform much better over the coming weeks with continued competition from tent-pole pictures from all of the major studios.

Carrying over their success from October, Venom and Halloween (2018) continued to earn money in November, with an 8th place finish for Venom ($4.85 million) and a ninth place finish for Halloween ($3.84 million).   Venom’s domestic total currently sits at over $206 million and the international receipts bring the film well over $670 million dollars.  Halloween is beginning to slow down (especially with the direct competition from Overlord this weekend), yet the film crossed the $150 million mark and is very close to $250 world-wide at this point.

In less positive news, the sequel to David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, got tangled up and lost in the plethora of new films and consistent October earners and only made a little over $8 million at the box office.  Director Fede Alvarez’s first non-horror entry did not fare well with critics, posting a 43% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The timing of the release was also questionable with Overlord and Halloween targeting similar audiences, not giving the director of Don’t Breathe a chance to bring over fans of his horror material to the franchise. A quick exit from your local cinema is all but assured based on the film’s anemic debut.

Speaking of quick exits, if you haven’t had the chance to see Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake,  you better get out to the movie theater soon, as the film is only playing in 261 theaters, down 50 from last week.  The film has grossed a total of $2 million for Amazon Studios, which never quiet got around to giving the film a wide-release. This isn’t a surprise for horror fans, as even in the horror community, Argento’s films (or those based on his work) are an acquired taste.  Look for Suspiria to appear on Amazon Prime very soon.

Stay tuned to Horror News Network for all of your box office news.

 

 

 

16

‘Ad Nauseam’ Author Michael Gingold: The Horror News Network Interview

Horror fans who were born after the year 2000 may find it hard to believe that the only way to discover what film was opening at your local theater on any given weekend was by perusing the entertainment section of your local newspaper.  If you were lucky, you would have found a new horror film that was coming to your favorite cinema, and if you were really lucky, the listing would have been accompanied by an advertisement featuring lurid, sensational artwork promising (but not always delivering) an hour and a half worth of thrills and chills.

These ads are the subject of Michael Gingold’s new book Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares of the 1980s and for anyone who became a fan of horror movies in the ’70s and ’80s, it is a veritable trip down a dark memory lane.  In this exclusive interview, Gingold (the former Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria) discusses the origins of his book, some of his favorite vintage ads, and his thoughts on the state of the horror magazine.

Horror News Network: Where did the idea for Ad Nauseam come from and how did you accumulate all of these ads? 

Michael Gingold: I started collecting the ads in junior high school when I started to become a horror fan, although at first, I was terrified of horror films.  I remember going to see a double feature with my friends when I was nine years old and it was Godzilla vs. Megalon and Bug.  I stayed for Godzilla, but I was too frighted to see Bug.  After that experience, I think the transition happened when I saw the remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was rated PG, but probably would be an R today.  That was one of the first films that really scared me.

From there, as I became a fan, it was cheaper and easier to collect ads rather than posters (even though today I have an extensive poster collection) so I would clip them out of the newspaper and save them.  At the time, I thought I was the only person clipping them from the paper, but now that the book has been released, many people have told me that they used to do the same thing.  Before the internet, one had no way of knowing what other fans were doing, but I luckily saved them and I guess it is one of the benefits of being a hoarder!  There are a lot of books dedicated to poster art, but there weren’t any that focused on print ads, and it turns out a lot of people were interested in seeing them.

HNN: Many of the ads contain art that never appeared on posters and were produced for print advertising only.  Why were the ads so essential in the 80s?   

Gingold:  In the post-Halloween world,  independent films and low budget horror films had a chance to to make money and get distributed around the country, especially in the big cities.  The ads were a way to grab the attention of movie goers and get them in the theaters with ads that displayed explicit images; subtlety wasn’t part of the marketing plan.  Although these films were often associated with 42nd street grindhouses, they did play in the suburbs as well, and the ads helped bring attention to them and you also didn’t have to risk your life to go see them.

A lot of the artwork only appeared in the newspaper ads and are very hard to find today.  These variants went further than the posters could in some cases, before the advent of Photoshop and the Dimension Films style of poster that were pioneered in the ’90s, that featured faces of the young cast members instead of the lurid images that were found in early ads.

HNN: You decided to keep the bottom of the ads advertising the theaters that the films would be shown at as well.  

Gingold:  Yes, we wanted to keep the locations at the bottom of the ads intact so people could remember some of the theaters that were famous for showing these films (and those that have now been closed for years).

HNN: Are there any theaters that are long gone that you remember seeing these horror films in?

Gingold: One of my favorites was the Criterion Theater in Times Square.  Downstairs, the theater had a number of smaller screens that was nicknamed “The Criterion Dungeon” and they would show second run features and exploitation films.  I first got to see John Carpenter’s The Thing there (which shows how quickly its theatrical run ended) and even Lady Terminator.  It was a cool place to see movies and a great place for horror.

HNN: After the glory days of the early 80s, when do we start to see a decline in terms of print advertising for horror films? 

Gingold: When the slasher trend was in full swing in the early 80s, it gave the horror genre a bad name and the advertising changed to a more subtler style to avoid protests and controversy.  A lot of the independent distributors and theaters also started to close at this point and the home video revolution with a lot of direct to video releases hurt the ad budgets, or diverted the dollars to other mediums.

HNN: When you were assembling the book and reviewing your old clippings, was there one ad that stood out to you?

Gingold: Yes, I was always surprised with how Troma initially marketed The Toxic Avenger.  The advertising originally sold it as a slasher film and I’ve never understood how that decision was made.  I’ll have to remember to ask Lloyd Kauffman the next time I see him about why they decided to go in that direction with the ad, which really misrepresented the film.

HNN: You are well-known for your work as a horror journalist.  How do you feel about the return of Fangoria

Gingold: I am incredibly excited about the return of Fangoria magazine and that it is going to be kept alive as a print publication.  The people that own it love the magazine and the genre.  It is also being marketed differently than it has in the past.  It isn’t a news magazine as much as a film journal; something that you can put on you shelf and then go back to time and time again.

HNN: Do you think long-form horror journalism still has a place in the 21st century?

Gingold:  Yes.  While you can get news on the internet and from websites, you rarely get in-depth stories.  I just conducted an interview with the director of the Suspiria re-make (Luca Guadagnino) for the next issue of Rue Morgue and the interview runs close to 4000 words in length.  Those types of interviews and stories are hard to find on-line.

HNN: Speaking of horror re-makes, and especially with the new Halloween film in theaters, how do you feel about them? 

Gingold: It seems like the ones that I am most upset about are often times the ones that I end up liking the most!  I remember seeing Ringu and being very impressed with it, and then heard that they were making an American version of the film. I initially thought “How dare they!” but I in fact enjoyed The Ring.  There have been some real misses like the re-makes of The Fog or Prom Night, but then there are those films like The Ring or Let the Right One In that are successful and worth seeing.

I just saw the new Halloween film and I liked the new take on the material, but I also recently hosted a showing of Halloween H20 at the Alamo Drafthouse in New York and it was really an honorable attempt to bring the franchise back to the basics and was really more about suspense than gore.  It is definitely getting a second chance these days.

HNN: You mentioned the Alamo Drafthouse.  Do you think theaters like the Alamo and others are helping keep forgotten and hard to find horror films alive?  

Gingold: We have seen a real increase in the amount of repertory theaters opening up across the country and it is gratifying to see people come out and support these films.  The favorite period of worship these days is certainly the 1980s, but these theaters like the Alamo can run programming that you can’t find anywhere else, like a Shaw Brothers horror series.  They allow fans to discover some real hidden gems.

HNN:  Do you have any upcoming projects that you are working on?  

Gingold: I am continuing to write for the new Fangoria, Birth.Movies.Death, and Rue Morgue and I have another book that I am currently working on.  I can’t reveal the details yet, but I hope to be able to soon.

Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares of the 1980s is currently available at finer book stores everywhere.

 

 

17

Fangoria Magazine Vol. 2 Issue #1 – The Horror News Network Review

Every horror fan that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s lived by Fangoria magazine. That’s where we got our industry news, information about upcoming films, in-depth interviews with our favorite directors and we all probably ordered something from the ads that were scattered throughout those glossy pages of gore; I know I ordered a mask or two and more than a handful of t-shirts!

Then the internet happened.

With the birth of instant news at everyone’s fingertips and chatrooms brimming with horror fans spouting off industry rumors, print began to take a hit. Why wait for the magazine to slide into your mailbox when you could get your news right away? Fangoria stuck to their guns and kept putting out issue after issue even while the amount of subscribers and advertisers dwindled. By the time 2015 rolled around, issue delivery became sporadic and then died out altogether about a year later.

Fast forward to 2018 and enter Cinestate CEO Dallas Sonnier who acquired the rights to our beloved Fango and scooped up Phil Nobile from the beloved Birth.Movies.Death to head it up as editor-in-chief. The new team promised that we would have our first new issue of the rebirth of Fangoria by Halloween of 2018 and true to their word, it hit my mailbox last week.

First off, let me say that this thing is gorgeous. The pages are sturdy and colorful and while it looks like an old Fangoria, it doesn’t feel like one; while the old one was your classy flimsy mag, this thing is like a book…or at least a graphic novel. Halloween‘s Michael Myers graces the cover (the 2018 version) along with smaller pics of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, Suspiria (2018) and Texas Chainsaw‘s Leatherface in the classic filmstrip on the left edge of the cover.

Smartly, those in charge realize that the days of being able to report “news” in a magazine (especially a quarterly one, to boot) is long gone, so the cast has eschewed that in favor of more retrospective pieces, exclusive behind-the-scenes articles and even original content from the likes of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke).

Along with Meredith Border’s awesome story from the set of the new Halloween, you’ll find pieces from Don Coscarelli discussing the inspiration for his masterful film Phantasm, scream queen Barbara Crampton dishing about what it takes to work in film, Eli Roth discussing his introduction to horror and they even managed to bring classic Fango heavy-hitters Tony Timpone and Mike Gingold back into their gruesome embrace!

This inaugural issue of the new Fangoria boasts wall-to-wall coverage of everything a horror nerd could ever want in a mag and, as one nerd to another, I strongly recommend that you get your house in order and subscribe today because Fango is back, baby!

18

Horror News Network’s Fall 2018 Horror Movie Preview

After a mild summer, the fall heats up with a cornucopia of films for horror fans.  The fall schedule brings us highly anticipated remakes and sequels such as Halloween, Suspiria, and The Predator, potential franchise starters such as The Nun, Venom, and Overlord, as well as some scary movies that the whole family can enjoy including The House With the Clock In It’s Walls and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.   So it is time to get ready for some cinematic treats (and inevitable tricks) this Halloween season with your favorite annual guide!

The Nun (September 7):  The horror film season starts early this year with the second spin-off from the most successful horror franchise in recent years, The Nun.  Originally featured in The Conjuring 2, the Nun is a character that resonated with fans of the sequel and she is ready to take her place next to that pesky doll Annabelle as the next potential star of the Conjure-verse.  Newline Pictures hasn’t been shy about marketing this film, utilizing every gimmick in the book, from multiple teaser trailers, a “banned” Youtube video, and director Corin Hardy’s tales of real-life hauntings on the set of the film.

The Nun is certainly looking to capitalize on the success of It’s early September release last year (originally the film was scheduled for a mid-July release, but the studio quickly moved the opening to the very same weekend that It conquered a year ago), in an attempt to set the bar for scary movies early in the fall and separate itself from the competition, but will it share in the same fortunes?  The Nun will undoubtedly score big on its opening weekend (with current estimates putting the film in the $35-$40 million range), but it will have a hard time capturing the It mania that occurred last fall.  Nevertheless, despite what reviewers may have to say about this film, it is almost a guaranteed hit for the studio (and will most likely spawn a sequel in coming years).

The Predator (September 14):  Although fans are supposedly looking forward to the latest film in the Predator series (according to Fandango, The Predator is the second most anticipated horror film of the season, second only to Halloween), the space alien enters the fall line-up with the most baggage of any film on the schedule.  The Predator has been rescheduled three times already (moving from February to August to September) and many stories have been written about extensive re-shoots and an entirely rewritten third act.  And while cast members have defended the changes made to the film, Shane Black’s The Predator could under perform at the box office with stiff competition from The Nun and an audience that has seen the original Predator film remade again and again.  2010’s Predators could not jump start a new series, and The Predator will be facing an uphill battle if the delays and re-shoots did not improve the film substantially.  Then again, that critter is a popular and recognizable movie monster, so fan reception, reviews, and word-of-mouth could potentially help the film if the initial reactions are positive.

The House with a Clock in its Walls (September 21):  Offering a respite from the two R-rated films that precede its release, The House with a Clock in its Walls offers scares for all ages.  The film is an adaptation of yet another young adult fantasy novel (this one by the late John Bellairs which was originally published in 1973), although Clock contains more frights than your average middle-school novel.  Readers of the original novel may also remember the creepy illustrations of Edward Gorey that accompanied Bellairs’ story, adding to the spook factor, and influencing the film as evidenced by the trailer.  Ironically, a man known for extreme horror, Eli Roth, handled the directing duties on this film and it also boasts a strong cast including Jack Black and Cate Blanchett as the quirky, magical surrogate parents.

This one may have a hard time finding its audience however.  It looks too scary for some elementary school kids and not scary enough for those tough pre-teens (who will probably buy a ticket for this and sneak in to see The Nun).  Young adult adaptations have not fared well over the last few years unless “Potter” or “Hunger” were in the titles, so we’ll have to see if parents who loved the book bring their children to see this film.  It was also just announced “…that Michael Jackson’s estate and the IMAX company are partnering to digitally remaster Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D for a special theatrical presentation ahead of director Eli Roth’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls.”  Adding the most famous music video ever produced in front of your film, by one of the biggest pop stars ever, at a time when 80’s nostalgia is at an all time, certainly can’t hurt ticket sales, and may be the additional marketing boost that Clock needs to bring those parents and kids to the theater.

Hell Fest (September 28):  Offering up a “fun house” of frights (kind of similar to Tobe Hooper’s 1981 film of the same name), Hell Fest hits theaters complete with an actual amusement park tie-in with Six Flags (at three of their biggest parks including Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA,  Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ and Great America in Gurnee, IL) .  The concept is an easy draw for horror fans, but the timing of this release is a curious one, as it is smack dab in the middle of a bumper crop of horror offerings, with many more to come.  It is uncertain at this time what the rating will be, but judging by the young cast and the Six Flags tie-in, don’t be surprised if this film ends up shooting for a PG-13 rating to capture the teen audiences that help fill seats in theaters on a Friday night.

Director Gregory Plotkin mans the camera for this killer carnival tale.  We last saw Plotkin’s work in Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, so he has hopefully had time to hone his craft since.  The film is being released by Lionsgate through CBS Films, a company known for picking up some hits and misses in recent years.  Gale Anne Heard of recent  The Walking Dead fame was one of the producers, so hopefully she was able to guide the production somewhat.  Hell Fest will have to be “scary as Hell” to carve out some real estate in a super competitive fall season.

Venom (October 5):  For fans who came of age in the 90’s, not many comic characters were as prevalent as Venom at your local comic book store (and featured on as many lenticular and hologram covers either).  Sony’s stand-alone entry into the back catalog of Spider-Man characters that they still have the sole rights to begins here with a story featuring the fan favorite villain/anti-hero.  Last time we saw the black symbiote on screen, his appearance was a bit underwhelming in Sam Raimi’s last Spider-Man film (and we thought this was rock bottom for the wall-crawler at the time, until we got a good look at Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2), portrayed by That 70’s Show goofball Topher Grace.

After their first strike with the character, Sony made the wise choice to cast Tom Hardy as the tortured reporter this time around, immediately establishing credibility with fans and critics alike.  The rest of the cast is rounded out by Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams and directed by ZombieLand’s Ruben Fleischer.  The pedigree concerning the talent attached to the project seemed to have been established early, but some fans balked at the wonky CGI in the first trailer.  The second trailer eased some of their fears, but at this point it does not appear that the film will receive an R-rating ala Deadpool or Logan.  Although some more blood-thirsty fans were disappointed by Sony’s decision, it does make sense for the company as they have a lot riding on this film in relation to future Spider-Man spin-offs (not featuring Spider-Man).  Expectations are high for this film and the initial box office (which is being projected for an opening weekend anywhere from $40 to $80 million) and reviews could make or break this one.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (October 12):  A film in direct competition with The House With a Clock in its Walls arrives just a few weeks later to court the same pre-teen audience.  The advantage that Goosebumps has, of course, is the much more recognizable source material and a previously successful first film.  Director Ari Sandel (The Duff) takes over for Rob Letterman this time around, indicating a shift to a story that features older teens, including It’s Jeremy Ray Taylor, Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle), and Caleel Harris (Castle Rock).  The adult cast also features a number of actors with comedic pedigrees including Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs, Reno 911),  Ken Jeong (The Hangover), and Chris Parnell (Hot Rod).

It appears that Jack Black will not be returning to reprise his role as the author of the Goosebumps series, R.L. Stein (and he is in fact competing with the film in the aforementioned Clock).  The fresh new cast and marketability of the series (which served as an entry way into the horror genre for many youngsters who grew up in the 90’s) should draw a suitable amount of tweens to the theater and may very well perform better than Clock due to these factors.

Halloween (October 19):  Expectations and anticipation could not be higher for David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s return to Haddonfield, Illinois and the legacy of Michael Myers.  The film (which is being sold as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original story)  arrives as the heavy weight contender of the season and it appears that Michael isn’t only scary on screen, but he’s also scary in the board room.  Rival studios scrambled to run away from Halloween’s release date with Hell Fest moving to September and Overlord moving to November, giving the film a wide berth and weeks of reduced competition at the box office.

While initial fan reactions to the choice of David Gordon Green as the director, with a script penned by Green and frequent collaborator McBride, the duo has made it clear that they are both huge fans and are dedicated to treating the property and Carpenter’s legacy with respect.  HNN’s John Evans reported last December that the duo “…have repeatedly expressed their desire to deliver a motion picture which will rely on dread and atmosphere over senseless gore, a testament to the original classic film.”  Couple this with the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the role that made her famous, the return of Nick Castle to the white shape mask, and the return (and blessing) of John Carpenter’s iconic score, and it would appear that Halloween is a “can’t-miss” film.  The original film and characters are some of the most recognizable in cinema, so get your tickets early for this one!

Suspiria (November 2):  Speaking of classics, in the words of Kiss’ Paul Stanley, “There are classics and then there are classics.”  And while Stanley was certainly referring to some of his band’s biggest crowd-pleasers, Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a classic that is more of an acquired taste for a very specific group of horror fans.  In the same vein, Luca Guadagnino’s remake (starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, and Chloe Grace-Moretz)  is sure to polarize horror audiences just as Hereditary and The Witch did.  Unlike Halloween, which has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, Suspiria is not for everyone (and God forbid anyone who wanders into the theater thinking this is a film about ballet dancing.  Can you imagine if some wayward ballet fan’s last experience in the theater before Suspiria was Black Swan?  Hopefully their therapist is on speed-dial).

Suspiria’s tale of witchcraft, murder, and ballet never reached an large audience  in its initial theatrical run in 1977, and Argento himself became a much bigger star and influence in the video tape era on the 1980’s.   While Argento fans have been mostly positive about the information and footage that has been released so far, the average viewer not as familiar with the Italian Giallo film may find this one hard to swallow.  Suspiria recently debuted at the Venice International Film Festival and the crowd reaction was mixed, featuring both applause and people storming out of the screening. If an audience familiar with Italian film making and avant garde stylings greeted Guadagnino’s re-imagining with as many boos as cheers, how will U.S. audience react to a remake of a cult classic?  The film will roll-out in New York and L.A. on October 26, before November’s wide release, and Suspiria will undoubtedly continue to delight some and disgust others.

Overlord (November 9):  Despite initial reports, it has been confirmed by producer J.J. Abrams that Overlord is not another Cloverfield spin-off (and after the mess that The Cloverfield Paradox turned out to be, that it probably a good thing).  Instead, we get a good ole’ fashioned Nazi Zombie splattfest in the form of Overlord.  The film is directed by Julius Avery (in his sophomore effort after Son of a Gun) and stars veteran character actor Bokeem Woodbine and a host of young, unproven talent such as Wyatt Russel (Shimmer Lake), Jovan Adepo (Fences), and Pilou Asbæk (Ghost in the Shell).

Overlord probably arrives a few years too late with Walking Dead fatigue already starting to settle in and popular horror culture beginning to turn away from the over-used zombie.  This film also comes out after a slew of other other fright films, so audiences may still be turning up for Venom, Halloween, or Suspiria.  This one could surprise movie goers, but the odds are stacked against Overlord, which resembles many other films that we seen in recent years.

Be sure to use this guide all season long and be sure to come back this winter for our annual winter Horror Movie Preview for the new year!

19

Horror and Genre Favorites Pull Big Wins at 2018 Academy Awards

The 2018 Academy Awards have come and gone and fans of horror and genre film have something to smile about this morning as there were big wins, and nominations, for genre films.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out was the winner in the Best Original Screenplay category and had nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya) and Best Director (Peele).

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water was the biggest winner though with wins for Best Picture, Best Director (del Toro), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat) and Best Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin and Shane Vieau). Shape also had nominations in Best Actress (Sally Hawkins), Best Cinematography (Dan Laustsen), Original Screenplay (del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), Best Film Editing (Sidney Wolinsky), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Sound Mixing (Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke and Brad Zoern), Best Sound Editing (Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira), Best Costume Design (Luis Sequeira) and Best Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins).

Also, a great win for long-time incredible cinematographer Roger Deakins for his Best Cinematography win for Blade Runner 2049 (which also won for Best Visual Effects).

As a fan of the film Logan, I was definitely hoping to see them pull out the win for their Best Adapted Screenplay nod but it just wasn’t meant to be; still great to see a Marvel film nominated for a screenplay though.

Let’s hope next year brings even more nominations for the horror/genre film fans! Maybe Halloween? Or the Suspiria remake? We’ll see!

 

Stay gory my friends,

20

A Cure For Wellness Offers Creepy Resolutions For The New Year

With 2017 now in full swing, the new year’s resolutions are flying.  Well Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox invite you to “take the cure”, and check out the upcoming horror thriller A Cure For Wellness.  A series of motivational YouTube videos will prepare you for your journey, as the “cure” is presented as the solution to all problems we didn’t even realize we had.

A Cure For Wellness will be directed by the legendary Gore Verbinski (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise), marking his first horror project since 2002’s The Ring.  In this film, a company man (Chronicle‘s Dane DeHaan) is sent to the Swiss Alps to track down his elusive and eccentric CEO (Harry Potter‘s Jason Isaacs) who has opened a strict and cult-like wellness center.  While investigating this remote facility, DeHaan delves deeper into his own artificial madness while running from the cure that promises to hinder rather than help.  Also starring Mia Goth (the upcoming Suspiria remake), this movie vows a creepy cinematic experience and plenty of spooky occurrences that will satiate even the most sophisticated horror palate.

Opening in theaters on February 17th, A Cure For Wellness is guaranteeing a break from the standard new year’s resolutions and a cure that is forever.  See below for links to the series of YouTube videos promising a better (and creepier!) 2017.

A New Year is Here

This Year, Take the Cure