Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
The Colony trailer brings us cannibals, Inception sound effects – Somehow, I had no idea that Bill Paxton and Laurence Fishburne were starring in a postapocalyptic cannibal film entitled The Colony. Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I can’t wait to catch it. Funny how that works.
After global warming eventually leads to a new ice age, a band of survivors holes up in an underground bunker. When they receive a distress call from another bunker, they investigate – and find a band of savage cannibals driven mad by hunger who want them as their next meal. It’s a fight for survival from there.
Check out the trailer below, which looks great and uses that loud “braaaaaaaap” sound effect that Inception made so popular.
Wes Craven wants to remake Shocker – Normally I’m pretty anti-remake, but when Wes Craven recently announced that he’d like to take another crack at his supernatural serial killer film Shocker, I actually found myself saying “hmm… this might not be a bad idea.”
Mitch Pileggi headlined the original film, playing murderous TV repairman Horace Pinker. After he’s executed, Pinker comes back from the grave as an electrical force and continues his killing spree.
Shocker is one of Craven’s lesser films, despite being fairly ambitious. Going back to take another crack at it is intriguing – and not only because the effects in the original are pretty dodgy. Craven explains the reason for that below.
“The guy who was doing all the visual effects kind of flamed out, had a nervous breakdown because he was attempting more than he could actually do. When he told us towards the end of the movie that not a single one of the special effects was actually working, he was working on a new technique; my son’s job specifically became just to find all the negative. It was all around town in unmarked boxes and under people’s editing [benches]. It was a nightmare itself. We pulled every favor in town to get all those special effects done very quickly, and some of them are pretty sketchy."
Hatchet III teaser trailer and release date revealed – Adam Green is handing the reigns of his throwback slasher series Hatchet over to first time filmmaker B.J McDonnel for the third installment, but based on this teaser trailer we’d say the project looks to be in good hands.
Victor Crowley is once again stomping around the swamps in Hatchet III, which will open in limited release on June 14. Kane Hodder and scream queen Danielle Harris return for the third film, with Hodder’s Crowley this time squaring off against a search-and-rescue team sent into the swamp to clean up his handiwork. Check out the teaser below.
At first glance, Daniel Lutz looks like an ordinary fellow. He drives a truck for UPS. He plays a pretty mean guitar in his spare time. He likes to tinker with cars. The man is almost completely normal. Sure, he’s a little temperamental – he bristles at being challenged about anything, curses like a sailor, and comes across like a typical alpha male – but he’s a guy you wouldn’t give a second glance if you passed him on the street. It’s only when you look into Daniel Lutz’s face – particularly his eyes – that you start to realize this is a man who’s dealt with some sort of unresolved trauma. Lutz is a chameleon – hiding his emotional scars where only the most observant will find them, but they’re there. The eyes never lie.
In Lutz’s small town, everyone knows his secret – he was one of the kids who lived in, and eventually fled, the most infamous haunted house in America. Daniel Lutz was a part of the Amityville Horror.
Lutz’s stepfather, George Lutz, married Daniel’s mother and bought the house on Ocean Avenue – the house where Ronnie DeFeo murdered his family a year earlier. What happens after that is a matter of great debate, but according to Lutz and his stepfather, the family fled 28 days later – terrified by the paranormal experiences they lived through inside the home.
George Lutz (who died back in 2006) made a career for himself off Amityville – which became a best-selling book and spawned countless films – but no one’s ever heard from Daniel about what happened inside the house – until now.
My Amityville Horror takes us back to 1975, when young Daniel Lutz lived on Ocean Avenue. Audiences looking for confirmation as to whether the house was really haunted or that the whole thing was a hoax are bound to be disappointed. Filmmaker Eric Walter doesn’t seem particularly interested in rehashing a debate that can be experienced at any hour of the day thanks to the magic of the Internet. Instead, My Amityville Horror is more focused on Lutz’s story of how being “the Amityville kid” affected his childhood and the rest of his life. There’s no doubt that Lutz himself is haunted – but it often comes across like he’s more tormented by the ghost of an awful stepfather than a supernatural pig named Jody.
Walter uses investigative journalist Laura DiDio (who was one of the reporters who broke the original Amityville story back in the ‘70s) to connect with Lutz. Daniel is a guarded man – and after spending his entire life living in the shadow of Amityville and the doubters who think his story is just one more con job, who can blame him? – but DiDio is able to crack the tough exterior and bring out the frightened child within.
To be clear, Lutz believes the house was haunted – but also asserts that it might have been George Lutz himself who inspired the paranormal activity. Daniel clearly despised his stepfather, and seems to delight in revealing unflattering things about him that the general public might not have known. While George claimed to have no knowledge of or interest in the occult prior to the haunting, Daniel claims George had plenty of books on the subject well before moving in.
This is when My Amityville Horror is the most compelling – when Daniel recounts tales of his stepfather and the things that happened to him (hands mashed by a self-slamming window, levitation, etc.), but it’s also questionable in terms of authenticity. Daniel recounts seeing his father move things with his mind, for example. It’s all a little too close to the recovered-memory syndrome that led to the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s. Daniel Lutz was a child when these events happened – impressionable and easily swayed. I’ve little doubt that he believes these things genuinely happened – I just don’t trust his recollection.
Walter’s film really hits its zenith in a scene where Daniel is taken to see noted parapsychologist Lorraine Warren. Warren and her deceased husband Ed were the lead “paranormal experts” on Amityville at the time, and she hasn’t seen Daniel since he was a child. The sequence starts out with a lot of cheesy paranormal mumbo jumbo (something the Warrens were always great at…), then takes a surreal twist when Lorraine and Daniel begin admonishing a film-crew member for being agnostic in the face of what Lorraine claims is a piece of the one true cross Christ was crucified upon. It’s such a bizarre, surreal moment – and it serves to bring home just how strange Daniel’s life is because of the events of his childhood.
The problems with the film mostly revolve around Daniel. He comes off as brusque and combative. It’s a defense mechanism, but it’s also off-putting. Lutz puts on quite a show about how hard it is to talk about all this stuff again – but he agreed to do the film knowing that’s exactly what would be required of him. His reaction to being asked if he’d take a lie detector test is so over the top that it’s just painful to watch. You want to sympathize with Lutz – because it’s clear his stepfather was a jerk and probably a huge con artist, but Lutz is so defensive that it’s often hard to get past the shell and relate to the man inside.
It doesn’t help that both of Daniel’s siblings declined to appear in the film. This leaves the audience wondering even more about the veracity of everything (including the non-supernatural revelations about George’s character) Lutz discusses because there’s no corroboration. We’re left to take his word. That’s the beauty of a good documentary – it presents information and allows you to draw your own conclusions – but I really wish the other Lutz children would have said something. It would have given the stories Daniel tells a little more context.
At any rate, fans who’re looking for a definitive answer to whether the Amityville story was a hoax or not (and I firmly and unequivocally believe it was…) will not find one here. Wannabe ghost hunters will find a few new stories to recount around their next campfire, but My Amityville Horror is more interested in Daniel Lutz and how the events of his childhood shaped him than it is in delving into the mystery of the most famous “haunted house” in the world.
Catch My Amityville Horror in select theaters and Video on Demand.
Horror on the Horizon
Not a lot of horror landing in theaters at the end of March, but we do have two anticipated titles getting limited releases.
Tomorrow sees the arrival of Come Out and Play – another “vacationing adults run afoul of a gaggle of murderous children” film. The premise might not seem particularly original, but this is a film made by mysterious Belarussian filmmaker Makinov – the guy who directs everything while wearing a super-creepy mask. Now we’ll see if his skills are on par with his gimmick. We hope they are, because man – it’s a great gimmick.
The week of March 29 sees the limited release of super awesome documentary Room 237, which chronicles all kinds of crazy theories about things hidden in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. I caught this one late last year, and it’s absolutely fascinating if you love Kubrick or the film he made based on King’s novel. Watch it, then be prepared to watch The Shining immediately afterward
Home Video Horror
While the theatrical releases are pretty slim for the next two weeks, the DVD market is chock-full of goodness.
March 26 might be the greatest week of releases in the past year. It’s a gore-nucopia of horror, featuring the launch of The Collection, From Beyond and Phantasm II, and the Jurassic Park films on Blu-ray. Your wallet is already weeping…
Of course, we pay for this bounty in the first week of April – there’s nothing notable coming out to start the fourth month of the year.