LA Horror Presents: Edward Payson and “The Cohasset Snuff Film”

No film is scarier than the things that can happen in real life.  It seems that every day, somewhere in the world, horror movies become reality and we’re reminded just how fragile life can be.  After all, art imitates life and life imitates art – true horror fans know this.  But filmmaker and documentarian, Edward Payson, allegedly stumbled upon something that may be too frightening to pass up.  While Payson’s first documentary, “Unsigned,” dove into the life of several bands trying to make it big in Los Angeles, his second documentary, “The Cohasset Snuff Film,” is much more controversial and nasty.

In 2009, a 17-year-old boy named Colin Mason allegedly murdered three of his classmates in a small town in Massachusetts.  Mason, an amateur filmmaker himself, videotaped each murder and broadcast them onto the internet for his own sick pleasure.  While nearly all of the footage has been destroyed and the murders covered up, Payson and fellow documentarian, Kevin McCarthy, went on a search for the tapes and claim to have found them.  While LAHorror.com hasn’t been able to personally verify the footage’s authenticity, Payson and McCarthy plan on proving it to the world in their new movie, “The Cohasset Snuff Film.”

“[Mason] plans and videotapes the murders of three classmates.  He blogs about it and it really makes you kind of see inside his head—as a serial killer—and what he’s thinking and why he does what he does…why serial killers do what they do,” Payson told LAHorror.com of the footage.  And while the footage itself has eluded us, we did stumble on a video blog entry of Jacyln Mccoy, one of the victim’s friends reacting to the murders.

What Payson has done is interview the people who supposedly were there, get professional opinions on the murders and simply show the public exactly what was going on in the mind of this madman.  This film could be an important piece of an already mysterious puzzle, and while the film does include the Colin Mason murder tapes, don’t expect “Blair Witch” type handicam.  “This will…make you throw up.  It’s not shaky cam all the time or anything like that,” Payson said. And from what we’ve seen, every gory detail is caught.

The High School Killer, Colin Mason

“The killer in the movie actually explains how everyday normal people become psychopaths and how it’s so easy when people say, ‘How could that happen here?’  And he explains, ‘This is how it happens here.  Everybody in high school…has this mentality that if you’re not in my click, then you don’t exist to me,” Payson said of Mason’s motives and thought-process.  And truer words have never been spoken.  While there will undoubtedly be efforts to ban or debunk the film’s release, the filmmakers still intend on getting a limited theatrical run come Halloween.  (We’ll tell you how you can help that happen in a future story on LAHorror.com).

Now, whether or not you agree or disagree with Payson sharing this footage, he’s more than just a documentarian.  Payson also has several other horror projects in the works that are worth a look.  His action/horror/thriller, “Fury:  The Tales of Ronan Pierce,” is currently in post-production and certainly sounds badass. Payson describes it as “really fast cars, really fast girls and lots of blood and gore.”  Throw Kane Hodder and R.A. Mihailoff in the mix too?  Yeah, sign me up bro.

Payson is also in production for his new web series, “Edward Pason’s Sunday Night Slaughters,” a 12-episode horror series that promises a little bit for everyone.  “There’s werewolves, there’s cannibals, there’s demonic possession, there’s crazy Christians…each one’s completely different with a different cast of people,” Payson said.  The series plans on utilizing a variety of different make-up artists, several DPs and guest directors.  If you have a love for the disgusting as much as we do, help this project take off by checking out the link above and hearing from Edward Payson himself.  Check it out horror lovers!

Be sure to check out “The Cohasset Snuff Film,” “Fury:  The Tales of Ronan Pierce” and “Edward Payson’s Sunday Night Slaughters” on Facebook.

LA Horror Review: “Of Silence”

“What if Silence was a Living Thing?”  An intriguing tagline from an equally intriguing film, Jeremiah Sayys’ “Of Silence” is a dark and brooding tale of a deeply disturbed man haunted by the silence that surrounds him.  It is a horror-thriller and a slow burn, a film that presents a number of questions and leaves many of the answers up to its audience.

Colby (Jeremiah Sayys) has just lost his wife, and he’s not doing well.  He has debt collectors hounding him, his family can’t cheer him up and to make matters even worse, he’s tormented by a presence in his seemingly empty house.   Now he must delve deep into the shadows and try to find out if he’s losing his grip on reality, or if there is truly an insidious being in his house that is after him.

As stated before, this movie is a slow burn and doesn’t pander to its audience.  Sayys (the writer, director, producer and star) obviously had a vision for this film and, to his credit, makes this a haunting experience through his one-man-show type performance and some tricky directing.  While the film doesn’t necessarily have the quickest or fullest plot, it’s much more of a character study and peek into the mind of a man gone mad.  Frequently, Sayys uses canted angles and slow moving shots to creep us closer to the film’s shocking conclusion.

Jeremiah Sayys plays the disturbed Colby in “Of Silence”

Sayys also manages this low-budget masterfully, and while the film does utilize special effects and some creative creature design, most of the scares come through the silence, or lack there of, in Colby’s life.  Frequently, we are forced to listen to the howls and cries of the house, the demonic noises that haunt Colby’s daily routine that truly send a chill up your spine.  You’re never quite sure who—or what—is causing them, and the clues that pop up in the film itself only lead you to realize that nothing in Colby’s world is as it seems.

The supporting cast is sparsely seen and is mostly comprised of Colby’s family and a few friends.  They do seem unsupportive of Colby’s pain at times, often cracking jokes and hooting and hollering when Colby is clearly uninterested in company.  The bright spot is the sweet and well-intentioned younger sister, Haley (Ashlee Gillespie), who seems like the only one who truly wants to help Colby deal with the grief he is constantly feeling.  Masiela Lusha also adds a creepy element to the film as Colby’s wife, who often appears on screen alive…and dead…

What I found interesting about this movie is that while it’s a horror film, the true villain remains unknown for quite some time.  It teeters on the border of ghost, monster and psychological thriller and has plenty of legitimate scares (one bloody hand scene in particular made me jump pretty high).

Sayys has no doubt succeeded in what he set out to do, and after watching this film, I certainly hope that he has the opportunity to do another horror film with a larger budget and a bit more gore (what can I say, I’m a gore hound).  Sayys proves himself as an actor and director with this ambitious project, and don’t be surprised if this movie puts him on the map, so to speak.  After all, “Of Silence” is a real scream!

“Of Silence” is currently making the festival rounds around the country and internationally.  You can view more work from WorldsLastHero Productions at their official website. Also be sure to check out “Of Silence” on Facebook.  Review by Hunter Johnson.

LA Horror Presents: Christopher Villa

Christopher Villa and his Robot.

Since this website went live a couple of months ago, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of LA’s most talented, inspiring and absolutely terrifying horror artists.  From actors to writers to filmmakers and more, we’ve met someone for nearly every platform of horror art and expression.  But, today’s featured artist, a gentleman by the name of Christopher Villa, shows us just how deep a love for horror can go and how it can manifest itself in a variety of different platforms.

“I had a real inclination towards the darker side of art…my whole family has always looked at me as not only the black sheep, but the dark sheep,” Villa told LAHorror.com lightheartedly.  And who can blame them?   Villa not only shares the same birthday as one of his greatest inspirations, Edgar Allen Poe, but has also spent his entire career feeding his fascination of horror.  He utilizes multiple mediums to satisfy his inner darkness in both the form of a hobby and a profession.

“I really had a career in the theater for more than 30 years as a choreographer of stage combat and duels and fight scenes and slap-stick comedy, but through the whole period, I always worked on some type of project that had access to the darker sides of my own nature, whether it was a drawing or sculptures or something else,” Villa said.  And through those various forms of expression Villa has created a diverse portfolio of horrific pieces, which include poetry, sculpture, paintings, music and plays.

“In terms of creativity as an artist, I felt like if I ever get blocked up in one area, all I had to do was just switch media and that block no longer existed, and I would pursue that particular style of art for a while until I got blocked up there…and everything kind of steered off to the dark side no matter what I tried to do,” Villa said.

And Villa has truly embraced that dark side and let it steer his creativity.  He is open to its energy and allows it to take hold of his artistic process.  Take for instance his sculptures, “Yargoth” and “Garg.”  Based on characters from one of his own plays, these pieces were crafted with a free form process led by the imagination.  “I don’t really sketch that [many] pre-production sketches in my art.  I really like to let my hands kind of tell me where I’m going with it.  My hands created the gargoyle that you see,” Villa explained of his process.  Each figure stands at roughly 11 inches tall, though Villa has been commissioned to do work much larger than that (see the picture at the top of this story if you don’t believe us).

Yargoth, The Forgotten Guardian

Garg, The Gargoyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the true delight of Villa’s work is not only in the pieces themselves, but his entire approach to the creation of art in general.  He believes there is no reason for inspired individuals to deny their desire to create.  “Art manifests itself through you.  Many people have artistic ability, but most of them repress it in order to fit in….there’s a cubicle of society that they want to fit into and I never felt like I had to fit into this cubicle,” Villa said.  Take note, young horror lovers.

And on a closing note, we’d like to part ways with Christopher Villa by sharing one of his haunting poems.  And if you’re a horror lover like us, we know you’ll love it to death…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view more of Christopher Villa’s creations and poetry, please visit Capriquarius Arts on Etsy.  You can also listen to some of Villa’s original music here.

LA Horror Presents: “Before You”

You may remember our interview with horror filmmaker Nick Everhart and his super freaky puppet short “Slash in the Box.”  If you missed that story, then for God’s sake click the link above and watch it, it’s one of the scariest short films we’ve had the pleasure of sharing on LAHorror.com.  But on a much lighter and far less gory note, Everhart recently sent us his latest directorial project, a music video from singer/songwriter Cheyenne Jackson.  The video stars Jackson (“30 Rock”, “Glee”), Christina Cole (“Dr. Who”) and Rachel Dratch (“SNL”).

“Before You” is not only a catchy and fun song, but it’s an homage to classic Hollywood horror monsters.  And as a newly married man myself, I can certainly relate to parts of this music video…Check it out horror lovers!

Kind of makes you miss your mummy, doesn’t it?  (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

LA Horror Presents: “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

Ted Campbell, co-director of “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

LAHorror.com had the pleasure of reviewing “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story” and was able to catch up with one of the film’s directors, Ted Campbell, and one of the film’s producers, Matt Olson.  They explained to us the challenges behind the production, which was shot in a mere seven days on a grassroots budget with filmmakers from both the West Coast (Campbell) and the Midwest (Collateral Damage Productions) who largely communicated from their respective locations to create the piece.

“I think that’s one of the amazing things about this film that I hadn’t done before.  Ted was working with us from LA; he was not at the auditions,” Olson told LAHorror.com.  “We cast Max [Glick] without ever meeting him through an online audition test.  We were able to send back and forth versions of the script.  The project was conceived on the Internet and designed for the Internet.  There were points where Jenny [Stolte, producer] and Dave [Dewes, co-director/producer] were in Michigan, I was in Chicago and Ted was in LA.”

And it certainly came out well—let this kind of collaborative effort be an inspiration to young filmmakers.  With some excellent talent behind the script and lyrics as well as amazing music and singing, “Rigamortis” easily has all of the pieces to become a popular musical.

“I would say the glue to the whole entire piece is [composer] Greg [Szydlowski],” Campbell said.  “And then discovering Lisa was like ‘holy shit’…And Max was someone I knew as an actor [and] I had worked with before.  And when we were talking about it I was like, ‘Well, I know the perfect Parker but I don’t know if he can sing’…but he did a quick little camcorder or iPhone video of him singing, like some Britney Spears song or something,” Campbell recalled laughing.

It’s not good to be a zombie in “Rigamortis”

“Rigamortis” certainly holds its own in terms of talent on both sides of the camera—it’s full of it.  And while “Rigamortis” is obviously a zombie movie, it doesn’t exploit the gore factor that is so easy to do.  Part of the reason for that can be behind some of the inspirations for the film itself.

“I think one of the main motivations for the lack of gore is because a big inspiration for this movie is Joss Whedon, and ‘Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ specifically,” Olson explained. “The TV shows that really kind of inspired this kind of thing—‘Buffy,’ ‘Angel,’aren’t gory.  They can get the same effect without the gore.  We wanted to make something that everyone can kind of watch and enjoy.”

But that doesn’t mean that true zombie fans won’t appreciate it.  In fact, while it may be a love story first, the idea of the zombie was hardly lost by the filmmakers.

“It’s one of the few movies where you root for the zombies,” Olson said.  “If you’re actually a zombie fan, you’re kind of hard-pressed to find movies where you root for zombies.”

“It’s a hell of a lot of fun…I think there’s definitely a heart at the center of it.  It’s not a parody of zombie movies.  It’s not a farce…there’s a level of appreciation for the genre in it,” Campbell added.

“Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” will be playing at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend and that’s only the beginning.  “I want to make it a feature,” Campbell said.  Let’s hope so – we’d be dying to see it…

For more behind the scenes videos, please visit this films official website.  “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is available for rent and purchase on iTunes.  Also be sure to follow @RigamortisMovie.

LA Horror Review: “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

The opening frame of “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” sets a dark and disturbing tone.  An organ blasts an off-key note as you hear a woman scream.  Suddenly, far in the distance, you see her running for her dear life.  And creeping ever so slowly behind her?  A brain eating zombie.  Then a pop.  The zombie’s head explodes from a shotgun blast.  And that’s when everyone starts singing.

Though the first 45 seconds of “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” feels like a wickedly nasty zombie flick, it is anything but.  It’s a musical that’s charming, funny and full of some seriously witty songs.  It is essentially exactly what the title promises:  a zombie love story.

Our love story begins in a not so distant world where the zombie apocalypse is nearing its end, thanks to the shotgun toting Brock (Boston Stergis).  He has killed all but two of the flesh-eaters and is the hero of his town.  The ladies swoon at his chiseled good looks, the men want to be him and he’s a role model for all of the children.  He single handedly saved everyone – and he’s the villain of this film.  I say villain in the loosest of terms, because our heroes are the last two flesh eaters left: Brock’s recently deceased love Zoey (Lisa Musser) and the cute store clerk Parker (Maxwell Glick), two misunderstood zombies who find each other in the chaos and fall madly in love.  Yes, it’s a zombie-human-zombie love triangle that can only end one of two ways:  the zombies living happily ever after in peace and harmony or with more carnage and death.

Because nearly the entire film is sung, it’s appropriate to begin this review with the music.  It’s excellent to say the least, composed of a blend of hard rock mixed with the classic zombie sounding organs and, naturally, several love ballads, including a beautiful duet between our undead lovers.  It’s fast, fun and always has that horror vibe to it that reminds you that you’re still watching a zombie movie.  The lyrics are operatic in the sense that they are essentially telling the entire story.  They are dense and it probably would take a couple of viewings to pick up on all of the clever puns.  Composer Greg Szydlowski has certainly beefed up his resume with this massive undertaking.

But music can only be as good as the people who are singing it, and luckily for “Rigamortis” they cast actors who could not only give solid performances, but also hold a solid pitch just as well.  The trio of leads are dynamic, and as their story intertwines, the performances grow.  There is a certain amount of comedic and dramatic weight that each brings to the table – the overly confident and cocky Brock, the beautiful and moral Zoey and the cute, but sometimes blood thirsty Parker all play off of each other wonderfully and have no problem keeping things entertaining for the 35-minute duration of the film.  And with a terrific singing and dancing chorus behind them, the film feels much larger than it probably was.

Our anti-hero Brock in the once zombie infested streets…

Directors Ted Campbell and Dave Dewes and the team at Collateral Damage Productions were brave to take on such a large project, given the low budget they had to work with.  Credit goes to the details of this movie, the little things that really make this film memorable.  The little boy that laughs as his face is splattered with his zombie mother’s blood, the zombie kill count hanging in the bar, the hairy chest baby picture of Brock and about 150 other moments that you can continually spot on repeat viewings.

But make no mistake, though this movie is very silly at times, it ultimately takes itself very seriously – and rightfully so.  It’s a complete and thorough piece that has something for everyone to enjoy.  What it lacks in violence and gore, it makes up for in music and song.  What it lacks in genuine scares, it makes up in genuine laughs.  It’s probably the most family friendly zombie movie that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and it feels like at any moment this movie could really blow up.  We don’t endorse romance, comedies or musicals often on LAHorror.com, but “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is absolutely worth a view.  So join the zombie parade and get on board with this flick so you can say you saw it first.

“Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is available for rent and purchase on itunes.  Also be sure to follow @RigamortisMovie.  Review by Hunter Johnson.

LA Horror Review: “Homeless Joe”

Maybe you walk past one on your way to work.  Maybe you see one standing next to an on-ramp by the highway.  You probably never really pay them any attention at all.  Most of us choose to ignore the homeless and pretend they simply aren’t there.  They are society’s forgotten victims of an all too cruel world and can hardly fend for themselves.  Well, all except for one: Homeless Joe, the deranged and very pissed off homeless killer in Bruce Fordyce’s unbelievably entertaining low budget slasher extravaganza.

“Homeless Joe’s” Sean Goodman (Eric Stayberg) has a confidence problem.  He can never get the girl; he’s overshadowed by his horny and obnoxious friends; and he’s simply looking for a reason to keep on going.  After being coaxed into a night of drunken debauchery, Sean’s journey begins as his friends harass the wrong homeless guy and end up in the clutches of Homeless Joe, the genetically engineered, metal toothed, axe-wielding psychopath who gets his rocks off by killing helpless teenagers.  It’s now up to Sean to face his fears and save the day or fall fate to brutal murder himself…

To be honest, this movie is way better than it probably should be.  While it does have some cheesy moments and some less than Shakespearean performances at times, this was a seriously fun trip.  The shining star is our hero Stayberg, who gives, hands down, the best performance and plays the loser redemption card masterfully.  He is believable and likeable; his character truly goes through a journey and the worse things get for him, the stronger he becomes.  His supporting cast does their job well and the cheese ultimately makes the movie stronger.  There are a couple of unbelievably funny moments and one-liners, as well as plenty of horror stereotypes nailed to a tee: the far-out stoner, the horny guy, the pissed off jock and, naturally, plenty of beautiful (and busty) babes.  It’s the perfect cast for a movie like “Homeless Joe.”

“Homeless Joe” truly does have MAXIMUM BODY COUNT!

The real credit to the picture however should go to writer, Mike Merickel, and writer/director/editor, Bruce Fordyce.  In terms of a story about a psychopathic homeless killer, I don’t think there could be a better script.  There are plenty of legitimate twists and surprises and the story really grows into something larger than life.  And while this is obviously a low budget film, Fordyce’s direction was intelligent and entertaining.  There were many camera tricks and shocking reveals that really helped drive the story and keep it interesting.  In particular, there is a rather impressive scene in a parking structure that consisted of two, maybe three long, well-choreographed and suspenseful shots.  I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat when I wasn’t leaning back due to giddy laughter.

And that’s the last thing.  This movie is funny—very funny actually.  A couple of accidental gunshots (“You shot her you slut!”), heaping amounts of over the top gore, several well-timed uses of the “Howie scream” and even a severed penis (that was very realistic, by the way), this movie had me rolling throughout.  It’s funny, gory as hell and full of nasty little surprises.  What else can you ask for in a horror movie?!

“Homeless Joe” is not yet available on DVD, but when it is, it will no doubt become a favorite for fans of obscure and over-the-top horror.  It certainly has replay value and a heart that most other low budget horror flicks can only dream of having.  Keep your eyes peeled.  “Homeless Joe” is a serious killer!

“Homeless Joe” was produced by Patty Sharkey and Mike Merickel, the team behind another one of LAHorror.com’s favorites, “Bloody Wedding.”