Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a column dedicated to all things horror on film.
First stills from Frankenstein’s Army – We’ve been keeping an eye on Richard Raaphorst’s WWII horror flick Frankenstein’s Army for what feels like an eternity – and today we’ve got the first official stills from the film. We’ll step aside and let them explain both photos (one above, one below).
Last Horror Blog: 'The Collection's Creepy Clip, First 'Frankenstein's Army' Images, 'The Bay' on the Horizon, and More
“Dark Sky Films has released the first two official stills from Dutch director Richard Raaphorst’s eagerly anticipated World War II horror/fantasy Frankenstein's Army. The first still features “Propellerhead," a hulking Nazi automaton that uses its spinning rotors to slice a bloody swath through the film’s terrified, lost Russian battalion. The second grisly official still features the power-hungry Doctor Frankenstein (Hellboy’s Karel Roden) himself as he dissects an unwilling subject.”
New teaser for The Collection debuts – Halloween may be over, but there is still some horror ahead as we march into the wholesome holiday season. Marcus Dunstan’s The Collection is slated to hit theaters on November 30. In preparation, we’ve got a brand new teaser clip to share with you. The Collector is back to his wicked games in the new film and it’s once again up to Arkin to stop him. Can the thief win a second go-round with the madman? We’ll find out after Turkey Day. Until then, enjoy the new footage.
The Dead 2 takes zombie hordes to India – Filmmaking brothers John and Howard Ford are ready to spread the zombie apocalypse to an entirely new continent with their follow-up to indie undead flick The Dead.
The Dead 2 – the not-so-imaginatively titled sequel to the original film – will reportedly take the zombie outbreak from the continent of Africa and move it to southeast Asia – particularly India. The filmmakers are prepping to begin filming early next year and have already released a spooky promo reel to whet your appetite. Check it out below.
First trailer for Argentine film The Flaying is creepy – Argentina continues its recent trend of being a global horror hotspot with this new teaser for Nicolas Ortiz’s chiller The Flaying (aka El Bosque de los Sometidos).
The official synopsis reveals that the film’s plot concerns a group of kids off to see an illegal road race in the 1970s. They stop along the way and explore an abandoned home (never a good idea…) and find the creepy residents are still lurking around.
The trailer evokes memories of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and lets viewers know the film was made by 14 people in all, each under the age of 25. Have a look at the trailer and see if you think Ortiz and his crew might be the leading lights in a new wave of genre cinema.
Unrequited teenage love is something we all experience as we move through adolescence to adulthood – but the darker side of that unfulfilled yearning can be a truly terrifying thing. Sean Byrne shows us just how terrifying in his 2009 film The Loved Ones.
Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a troubled teen trying to put his life back together after his driving causes an accident that kills his father. Distraught and showing signs of PTSD (and cutting himself to boot), Brent’s doing the best he can. When awkward classmate Lola (Robin McLeavy) invites him to the prom, Brent declines – he’s got plans to attend with his girlfriend. Bad choice on Brent’s part, because when Lola doesn’t get what she wants, she enlists the help of her father (John Brumpton) to help her stage her own private prom – one where she and Brent will have the magical night she’s envisioned no matter what the cost.
Not since Trick ‘r Treat have I seen a more egregious example of a film getting the shaft than this one. For whatever reason, Byrne’s film (which was a festival darling back in 2009) has languished in obscurity for over three years as it sought distribution. This is absolutely mind-boggling, considering some of the dreck studios have foisted onto horror fans in the intervening years. The Loved Ones is a genuinely good genre offering that deserved a wider release (it finally got a limited market theatrical run courtesy of Paramount Insurge earlier this summer – it’s now available on DVD) – and it’s tragic that it didn’t receive it.
While Byrne’s film doesn’t reinvent the horror movie, it does showcase the director’s understanding of what makes a good horror film work. The Loved Ones perfectly captures not only teen angst and awkwardness, but the slow unravelling of reality for both the victim and the captor. Its nods to Jeffrey Dahmer (Lola and her father have their own little army of drillbit lobotomized zombies running about) and implied incest sit uncomfortably next to a traditional portrait of modern teenage life (presented through a secondary narrative involving Brent’s friend’s date with a wild young classmate). That secondary plot doesn’t seem to have much to do with the main narrative for much of the film – but Byrne ties it together eventually. Even if he hadn’t – it works quite well as a juxtaposition between the normal world and the one Lola inhabits.
Still, what really makes the film work is the performances. McLeavy is fantastic as Lola. The actress is pretty in an unassuming way, which works perfectly with her character’s social awkwardness in the first act to suck viewers in. It makes the revelation of her true nature all the more of a punch to the gut later in the film. “You’ve got to watch out for the quiet ones…” we’ve all heard. In this case, it’s true. McLeavy carries the film effortlessly and has already earned herself a spot of honor on the “most terrifying female psychos” list.
The rest of the cast works, too. Samuel is believable as the troubled Brent and his reaction to the constantly unfolding horror around him seems plausible. Brent isn’t your typical stupid final girl – he fights to survive, he rarely does anything outlandishly stupid (except for climbing a tree – that wasn’t so smart).
The film’s writing is clever, managing to take genre staples and tweak them just enough that they feel fresh. The jilted female is an archetypal character at this point, but The Loved Ones manages to make it feel newer than it should if only because we’re used to seeing older women like Glenn Close in these roles. Taking the socially awkward teenage girl and giving her this power feels more like Carrie than Fatal Attraction – except that unlike Carrie White, Lola’s a bad seed from the start. The Loved Ones handling of the material puts it light years beyond “psycho high school girl” dreck like Swim Fan and The Crush.
Squeamish fans will want to proceed with caution. The Loved Ones is not a particularly gory film when compared to its genre brethren, but Byrne does go for the gross-out on several occasions. This less-is-more approach tends to work in the feature’s favor, giving the truly violent moments more impact because they’re used so sparingly.
The tragedy of The Loved Ones is that it’s three years later and Sean Byrne has yet to make another feature. Hopefully the release of the disc will spawn a “better late than never” scenario where an appreciative audience not only finally discovers the film, but one wherein it reignites interest in a talented young filmmaker’s career. Byrne deserves the opportunity to make more genre films every bit as much as The Loved Ones deserves the love of horror fans.
Horror on the Horizon
Halloween may be over (boo!), but studios still have a few horror tricks up their sleeves.
Barry Levinson’s biological chiller The Bay will help ease us into life after Halloween when it debuts in theaters and on VOD on November 2.
If that’s not your speed, found-footage flick Amber Alert also debuts on in limited release this Friday. It follows a couple in a car chasing down a man suspected of kidnapping a child (and recording it all, naturally). And if you like your horror a little funnier and filled with girl power, there’s always Vamps, which reunites Alicia Silverstone with director Amy Heckerling in a tale of nightlife loving vampires. Krysten Ritter costars.
Things get much quieter on November 9 when the only horror release is a limited opening for IFC’s In Their Skin. You probably already caught that one on VOD.
Horror on Home Video
Horror for the home markets isn’t too impressive for the start of the month, unfortunately.
On November 6 we get a lot of filler and reissue titles, along with Shout Factory’s updated They Live and [Rec] 3.