Happy Thanksgiving from Ginger Christ!

Holidays are all about great food–everyone knows that.  And this Thanksgiving, Ginger Christ, the super sassy and delightfully demented cooking show host, has served up a whopping feast of horror in her Thanksgiving Special!  Directed by Alex Napiwocki and costarring a group of hilarious misfits (and a certain critter…), Thanksgiving is transformed into an absolute scream with their Ginger Christ holiday horror series.

I love bizarre horror, and as soon as I watched Ginger Christ’s Halloween and now Thanksgiving Specials, I’m sold.  It’s weird, super twisted and will either make you die laughing or turn off the show in disgust!  But if you do that, well, then you’re no damn fun.  Watch Ginger Christ’s Thanksgiving Special, titled “What’s Eating Critter?” here!

Tasty, am I right?  Also be sure to watch her Halloween Special!

Can’t wait Can’t wait what she’s serving up for Christmas…Happy Holidays Horror Lover!

LA Horror Review: “House of Manson”

House-of-Manson-PosterBeing a fan of horror, naturally, I have done my homework on serial killers and real life murderers. Maybe that comes with the territory of this genre, or maybe I’m just a weirdo. That being said, I admittedly tend to avoid biopics based on real life killers because, I don’t know, maybe I feel bad being entertained by “true crime.”

I kept hearing great things about Brandon Slagle’s “House of Manson,” a Charles Manson biopic that tells his story from his childhood to his arrest, so I cautiously gave it a viewing. I have read a great deal on Manson and his “family,” and the strongest selling point of “House of Manson” is that they hit his story on the nose. This is an impressive film, and without a doubt the strongest real-crime horror film I have ever seen. It literally gave me nightmares, and that’s no lie.  It’s an extremely powerful portrait of a man who slowly realizes that he’s not quite in control of his own destiny, so he creates his own.

The film opens with a police raid on the Manson family compound, and Manson’s subsequent arrest. From there, he begins telling investigators his story in every grisly detail. It’s a traditional “flashback” type set-up that works very well in a film like this and aides in the growth of characters. It’s interesting to see the stark contrast between pre-cult Manson and post-arrest.

Ryan Kiser, who gives an absolutely crushing performance, portrays Manson. At first I wasn’t sure what to think, as I’m so used to the Charles Manson newsbytes and images that I associate with him. But Kiser excels in this role by doing the one thing that I honestly wasn’t expecting: he brings humanity to Charles Manson. He reminds us that before the Tate murders, before Helter Skelter, before the crimes he committed were ever even conceived, that Charles Manson was a real person, with real feelings and real dreams. It’s when these dreams are ended that he begins to truly lose himself, and these are the scenes where Kiser really shines. His character morphs and grows into something sinister as the movie progresses, and by the end he shows us exactly who Manson truly is: a liar, a manipulator and a coward.

But the film is called “House of Manson,” not simply “Manson,” so while Kiser is the engine car that keeps this train barreling down the track, it’s the ensemble around him that really seals the deal. Each actor, including Tristan Risk, Erin Marie Hogan, and Reid Warner (to name just a few), portrays one of Manson’s followers by bringing a unique character to the table, really fleshing out these people and giving us insight into their troubled lives.  This is an ensemble film in all senses of the word, and the ensemble is terrific, full of actors that go there and aren’t afraid to make bold choices. Some major props go to actress Devanny Pinn who gives a particularly chilling performance as the doey-eyed and deeply disturbed Susan Atkins.

Slagle expertly directs this film, drawing so much raw emotion from his performers that I couldn’t help but keep my eyes peeled to the screen, even when it gets nasty…and it does get nasty. The majority of this film plays like a character drama but when the crimes are committed Slagle doesn’t sugarcoat a thing. It’s horrifying and tragic to watch, but at the same time does not feel exploitative. It’s simply a portrayal of events that unfortunately happened in real life. Slagle’s choice of jumping through time, assisted by some terrific editing and a killer soundtrack, aid to the overall success and feel of this film.

Horror lovers, history buffs and true crime fans will all find something to take away from this film, I highly recommend it.  When all is said and done, “House of Manson” is a superb character study and terrifying glimpse into the most infamous killing spree in American history.

Be sure to “like” “House of Manson” on Facebook!

LA Horror Review: “Pernicious”

10366215_818500661522762_722795494704603059_n
While James Cullen Bressack continues filming his latest project, “Bethany,” LAHorror.com had the pleasure of viewing “Pernicious,” Bressack’s ultra violent ghost film that’s making the rounds now in the horror circuit. Fans of Bressack’s films will no doubt be in for a shocking surprise, as this is not only one of his most brutal and violent films (though probably not as rough as “Hate Crime,” which has been banned in the UK), but also his biggest film in terms of scope. “Pernicious” is a horror genre blending blood bath that will keep you guessing until the very end…

It was supposed to be an adventure of a lifetime as three young girls spend the summer in Thailand. But their adventure quickly becomes a nightmare when the trio unleashes the spirit of a murdered child with only one thing on her mind – revenge.

“Pernicious” works on a variety of levels and manages to differentiate itself from other films with similar set ups. We’ve seen young American’s overseas get brutalized before, but torture is far from the only thing “Pernicious” has to offer. Instead we get a rather clever ghost story, with elements of the torture porn nasties of the early 2000s, as well as something completely new and freaky…the gold little girl statue. All of this is cast over the beautiful landscape of Thailand, which adds to the mystery and isolation that this film offers. It’s hard to pinpoint the scariest aspect of “Pernicious,” but let me just say that the golden statue is freaky as hell. You’ll understand when you watch it. I love when horror films master several subgenres in one picture, and “Pernicious” does just that.

eyeballAnother thing that “Pernicious” masters is the gore. Can we talk about the gore? Toenails, eyeballs, throat slashes and oh so much more. “Pernicious” brings it. In fact, it’s a golden blood bath. If you’re a gore hound that likes it to look legit, then look no further. Watch “Pernicious.”

pernicious-4_zpsff8d9957

But what’s good gore without good victims (and killers)? Our trio of leads, Alex (Ciara Hanna), Julie (Emily O’Brien) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) all do a great job keeping this film engaging and entertaining. Humor when humors needed, creepy when things get creepy. There are times when their Americanisms play a bit hard, but in all honesty it’s believable. We’ve all got friends like these girls. O’Brien in particular steals the show in a couple of scenes, one of them involving a very large knife and another involving a creepy witch doctor.

Bressack no doubt has hit a new high in his filmmaking career with “Pernicious,” and if this is any indication as to what’s to come then horror filmmakers should start to get really excited. Bressack directs “Pernicious” extremely effectively, his real talent shines when things get rough for these characters.  The sequences involving the golden statue were especially effective. Bressack also litters clues to the films final secrets throughout, which makes a repeat viewing especially enjoyable. If Bressack isn’t on your radar already, get with the program and catch up on his work. Starting with “Pernicious” isn’t a bad idea at all.

1507867_703752042997625_670126882_n

I really enjoyed this film, and if you’re a sicko like me then chances are you will too. So keep your eyes peeled for this one…you don’t want to miss this golden opportunity for terror!

Read our pre “Pernicious” interview with James Cullen Bressack here. You can also read the LAHorror.com reviews of his films “Hate Crime” & “To Jennifer” here. Follow Bressack on Twitter for all the latest on his work.

LA Horror Review: “L.A. Macabre” (Season 1)

Los Angeles is an incredible city with a rich culture and colorful history.  While this city has given us some amazing events, it has also given us some of the most horrific.  After all, this was the home of Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker), The Black Dahlia murder, and the rise and fall of Charles Manson – perhaps the most notorious cult murderer of all time.  And, if you’re like me, you might have a morbid fascination toward some of these things and, perhaps, even a desire to learn about some of the under the radar crimes that may have been committed in this great state.

Luckily for us, there is Dan Ast‘s “L.A. Macabre,” a new web series about a trio of young filmmakers, Ryan (Ryan Hellquist), Collin (Aidan Bristow) and Jamie (Ryan Bartley), who set out to do just that.  But when the trio meets Callie (Corsica Wilson), plans to cover a wide variety of real life Los Angeles horror change, and begin to focus onto one sinister story that the media never covered: The New Family.

THUMB5-2“L.A. Macabre” is an impressive character-driven series, which is a hard feat to pull off, especially in this genre.  This is mostly due to the incredible performances from the shows main characters, the hosts of “L.A. Macabre,” Ryan Hellquist and Aidan Bristow.  They are both natural leading men and have no problem carrying each episode to its greatest potential.  Their characters are layered and deep, and each episode allows them to flex their acting chops a little bit further, especially when things get intense.  


Complimenting them nicely is the timid yet alluring Corsica Wilson, who plays ex-cult member Callie of the mysterious New Family.  She brings an element of mystery and intrigue and succeeds as being the catalyst for a lot of the show’s drama.  The chemistry of everyone on screen makes “L.A. Macabre” extremely enjoyable and easy to watch, as they not only succeed in their intensity and dread of the situations unfolding around them, but also bring a realistic, human quality, which is a great find in indie horror. There are no generic, stereotypical “horror” archetypes in “L.A. Macabre,” and I genuinely felt invested in these people as if they were actually investigating these events.  This is a fictional show…right?

But quality acting does not alone a good series make.  Writer / Director Dan Ast has come up with a clever, engaging horror show.  While the story flirts with real life events, namely the Manson Family murders, it creates an almost alternate history that is very believable.  This is Los Angeles, after all, and there’s plenty of whackos out there.  Pairing this idea up with the documentary filmmaking style, it really clicks.

Now, I know what you may be thinking…a documentary style, “this is real” approach has been done before, correct, but rarely does this work as seamless and believably as it does in “L.A. Macabre.”  The use of multiple cameras never feels like a gimmick or distraction, as there is a great blend of DSLR, webcam and GoPro footage that all comes together in terrific fashion. There are some incredibly creepy and intense moments where you are just begging to see what the other cameras are filming, but we are at the mercy of the characters’ choices, often just the click of a mouse, which changes our entire perception of the events we are witnessing.  This creates some serious tension and several jaw dropping moments throughout the series. Just wait until you see the season finale…

But while the episodes are fantastic, they are only part of the story…Ast and his crew have really put together a piece that’s so deep and layered that it’s unlike any web series I’ve ever seen before.  In fact, I HIGHLY recommend watching ALL of the additional content outside of the episodes themselves, as they add a whole lot more to the overall picture.  These include Jamie’s Video Blogs, which are co-written by Ryan Bartley, the “L.A. Macabre” updates & behind the scenes videos, as well as the mysterious LAMacabre Fan, who lurks about giving ominous clues to the team.  Needless to say, it’s an intricate and meticulously planned series and viewers with a keen eye to detail will be rewarded…

What we’ve posted here is just a sneak peak of the universe “L.A. Macabre” has created, and there’s not a lot about this show that I didn’t enjoy.  In fact, my only major problem with it is that the season is over and I’m DYING to find out what will happen next!  I’ve got my fingers crossed for a season two, that’s for damn sure.  And just a word to those curious horror thrill seekers out there…don’t bite off more than you can chew…you might just find yourself in a spot you can’t get out of…

You can subscribe and watch to the entire “L.A. Macabre” series in chronological order here.  Also, be sure to follow “L.A. Macabre” on Twitter & “like” the series on Facebook!

 

LA Horror Review: “El Gigante”

elgigantewebEl Gigante” is an incredibly ambitious and stylish short horror film from LuchaGore Productions funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Perhaps best known for their “M is for Matador” entry into the “ABCs of Death Part Two” competition, LuchaGore is a creative team that has clearly found their stride and are poised to make the leap from short form to feature films.

“El Gigante” opens with a gorgeous desert vista and a man stumbling through the heat. Through a flashback, we learn that the young Mexican man is named Armando (played by Edwin Perez) and that he tried to strike a deal with a coyote to smuggle his family across the border. They didn’t have enough cash, so Armando had to make the border crossing on his own.

Armando makes it to the border, but is intercepted by a mysterious stranger. Armando passes out. He awakens inside of a room that holds a wrestling arena/altar. He now has a burlap Lucha Libre mask sewn to his face. As a grotesque family of characters watch, he is forced into a death battle with El Gigante, an enormous wrestler.

Visually, this short is a huge treat. It embraces grindhouse style entertainment without veiling it in a fake 1970s aesthetic. The production design and costuming are top notch: this movie pays close attention to textures and character and set design in a way that most short films do not. The makeup and gore effects are incredibly effective. This movie looks and feels filthy.

The cinematography by Luke Bramley and Spencer Village is reminiscent of Dean Semler’s work in “The Road Warrior.” The camera is not in constant motion, but there’s an effortless flow established and enhanced by the editing of director Gigi Saul Guerrero and co-director Bramley.

Guerrero is the colorist for the film as well, and chooses vivid lurid red accents to the sickly greens, yellows, and greys of the wrestling arena. She has a great eye for action and how it can be used to reveal character.

El_Gigante1 copy 2

“El Gigante” is currently on the festival circuit, and will hopefully be seen by people who see the feature potential in it. The short is adapted by Shane McKenzie from the first chapter of his book “Muerte con Carne,” and it’s an amazing contribution to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style cannibal family genre. Each family member has a distinct look and role to play in the slaughter. If the rest of the book is as exciting as this first look is, then El Gigante could one day join Jason and Leatherface in the pantheon of masked movie killers.

Be sure to “like” LuchaGore Productions on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @LuchaGoreFilm.  This review was written by LAHorror.com contributor Paul Stephen Edwards.

LA Horror Review: “You Are Not Alone”

God bless America, and God bless HORROR!

YANA_poster_NA_Official

Writer/Director Derek Mungor, the filmmaker behind LAHorror.com favorite “Desolation Wilderness,” is back with another creeper, “You Are Not Alone.”  This is a super beautiful film is about friendship, memories and revisiting old times…oh yeah, and a totally freaky serial killer.  It’s a genuine slice of life turned hyper suspenseful slasher movie, shot entirely from the prospective of one character.  The film is co-written by Chris O’Brien.

Natalie is a college graduate visiting her hometown over the 4th of July. The night she arrives, she is stalked by a sociopathic killer.

YANA_Still_15I always love it when horror movies have a nice slow burn, but it makes me really hope that the filmmakers pull it off in the end.  Mungor and his team knock this one out of the park.  “You Are Not Alone” is one of the scariest serial killer slashers I have ever seen.  It takes advantage of your perception, aided by sincere and welcoming performances by a fun and likable cast and makes you feel as if you’re truly living as one of the characters in the film.  This both adds to it’s unique charm and also amplifies the horror when things get rough.  And when sometimes slasher movies get caught up in narrative and over explanation, “You Are Not Alone” takes a much different approach.  The film isn’t exactly about why these killings are happening, but moreso about the events themselves.  It’s the best type of slasher film:  one that respects its audience and simply shows you the events of one tragic July 4th weekend.

YANA_Still_18Do yourself a favor and watch this one with ALL of the lights turned off.  I mean that.  Hats off to Mungor and Director of Photography Ryan Glover for creating what seemed like constant suspense and anticipation, primarily through the use of light and shadow.  A great look accompanied by an amazing score by Jason Aud and some ultra creepy sound design by Jason Neumann, this film is incredibly intense…I cannot emphasize that enough.  “You Are Not Alone” is the type of slasher that had me at the edge of my seat, jumping at every turn, and when you see it, chances are you will be too.

And on a side note, it’s really great to see a 4th of July horror movie.  I can honestly say that this film has potential to be a once a year favorite for the BBQ holiday, much in the same way that other holiday horror favorites have found spots in our hearts.  This movie pays homage to a lot of greats before it, yet it never loses itself.  Die hard slasher movie fans, get ready for some fireworks, and remember…”You Are Not Alone.”

For more on “You Are Not Alone,” please “like” the film on Facebook and follow the film on Twitter.

LA Horror Review: “In Defense of Traditional Marriage”

Marriage is scary, everybody knows that.  And as if there isn’t enough on our plates when dealing with our nuptials, some feel the need to turn marriage into one of those hot button issues.  After all, while marriage is a magical time in our lives it’s also a very controversial issue that our society needs to address.  Writer/Director Thom Newell throws his horrifying two cents into the marriage debate with his hilarious short film, “In Defense of Traditional Marriage.”

Ahhh, true love.  This is a horror film that works on a variety of levels.  First of all, great hook.  For a moment I questioned if I was even watching a horror, then blammo, it’s on.  Thom Newell’s over-the-top satire works because while I don’t necessarily know what the piece is trying to say about traditional marriage as we know it, I do know that it’s damn gory and hella funny, so we’ll all just agree to get along on this issue for now.

Excellent use of gore as well with a terrific design as well, this is definitely one of the most beautiful brides I’ve seen in quite some time.  And lastly, the cast does a terrific job.  Some genuinely funny moments that made me laugh out loud throughout.

Pass me a kleenex…I always DIE at weddings!

For more from filmmaker Thom Newell, be sure to visit his official website.  You can also follow Newell on Twitter.