Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
Mark your calendars! ABCs of Death 2 gets a release date – I had pretty mixed feelings for the first ABCs of Death, the ambitious anthology project where directors were asked to make short films inspired by a letter of the alphabet, but the sequel is coming. If you liked the first film, then odds are you’re going to want to check out the second.
The follow-up will officially debut on VOD services on October 2, followed by a limited theatrical run starting on Halloween. The new film features work from the Soska Sisters, Vincenzo Natali, Larry Fessenden and many more.
R-rated Septic Man trailer might make you lose your lunch – What do you get when you cross the creators of Monster Brawl with the writer of Pontypool? You get Septic Man, a film that looks like The Toxic Avenger for the 21st century.
The new red-band clip gives us the inside scoop on a sewage worker who gets trapped underground and begins to mutate. It’s predictably gruesome, but there’s more to the film than shock value as Septic Man garnered lots of positive buzz at last year’s Fantastic Fest. Check out the clip below, then catch the whole film on DVD this August 19.
WARNING: This clip is NSFW
More casting news for supernatural action flick The Last Witch Hunter – If you liked Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (um, anyone? Anyone?), then you'll like this news: Director Breck Eisner is teaming up with Vin Diesel to bring us another movie about hunting down witches and warlocks -- and we now know more about who will be appearing alongside him.
Diesel is set to be joined by Michael Caine, Elijah Wood and True Detective’s Olafur Olaffson in the Lionsgate production. That’s a pretty good cast, but we’ll have to wait and see if the movie is worthy of the acting talent. Filming is set to begin this month.
For a movie titled Without Warning, the two young heroes of the film sure do get a lot of advanced notice that bad things are about to happen in Greydon Clark’s forgotten sci-fi slasher hybrid. Not only does a kooky Jack Palance (and an even kookier Martin Landau) warn young Sandy (Tarah Nutter) and Greg (Christopher S. Nelson) that going up to the isolated lake is a bad idea, so does some graffiti scrawled in the men’s room of Palance’s dumpy little gas station. That seems like a lot of warnings from where I’m standing…
Of course, Clark wouldn’t have a movie if the kids (including a very young, very ginger David Caruso, whose character is dating way out of his league here) heeded all those warnings – not that he has a whole lot of one anyway. So, the kids head to the lake, eventually meet a giant foam-headed alien who looks like he walked right out of a Star Trek episode, and the blood starts flying.
Some folks have hailed Clark’s film as an inspiration for Predator which feels like a huge stretch. Yes, there’s an alien on Earth stalking people, but Without Warning otherwise bears no resemblance to one of Schwarzenegger’s finest hours. Had Predator spent a huge chunk of its running time with Arnold, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers sitting in a bar and doing the dumbest things imaginable, the connection would be more likely. I guess if you have a movie with a killer alien that predates 1987, it’s technically a Predator “inspiration.”
If this feels like I’m really down on Without Warning, it’s only because I’ve waited years to see it (the film never had a DVD or VHS release before now) and expected so much more. When you’ve got a cast like Palance, Landau, Cameron Mitchell and Larry Storch, plus cinematography from Halloween’s Dean Cundey, you’ve got all the components required to craft a really magical piece of B cinema. Unfortunately, it just never comes together in the way I’d hoped.
Palance and Landau manage to keep the whole thing afloat. Palance plays the wily old codger who wants to kill this alien menace once and for all. Landau plays a former vet who’s at least a little bit unhinged. Together, the two leave their teethmarks all over the film’s scenery, but this is one of those instances where hamming it up is to a movie’s benefit. Remove Palance and Landau from Without Warning and it’s not nearly as much fun.
And it is fun – in spurts -- because we’ve got these two great actors playing so over the top they might as well be on the moon. You've got a kooky-looking alien, flying-disc parasites that are sort of reminiscent of Phantasm’s flying balls (except you can actually see the strings on occasion on the new Blu-ray), and Dean Cundey’s always interesting scene compositions. The problem is that the script feels padded and unfocused, which makes the film bog down whenever Palance and Landau step aside for Nutter and Nelson.
While it’s not perfect, Without Warning does enough things well that I can safely recommend it to fans of ‘80s B cinema. Palance and Landau turn in fun performances that will keep you interested whenever the film starts to veer off track, and the dated FX work and low-budget aesthetic is sure to appeal to old-school fans. Scream Factory’s new collector’s edition features plenty of extras and insights into the film, and is currently available at retailers nationwide. If you love obscure cult cinema, this one belongs in your library.
Horror on the Horizon
If you’re looking for horror films at your local theater, you’re out of luck. There’s nary a single fright flick playing at the multiplex for the next two weeks.
The home video market has your back, though. August 12 sees the arrival of cult classic Motel Hell on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, as well as Blu-ray versions of Troma’s The Toxic Avenger and Bloodsucking Freaks.
August 19 is packed with notable arrivals, including Ti West’s The Sacrament, Only Lovers Left Alive, undersea horror tale Leviathan, The Quiet Ones, and DVD and Blu-ray version of the recent Rosemary’s Baby miniseries.
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