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.

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“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.

LAHorror.com Original: “Knife Party”

Happy Fucking Halloween, Horror Lovers!

I hope you’re having a ghoulish holiday, and to sweeten it up just a bit, we’ve got a treat that will really satisfy your appetite for CARNAGE!  LAHorror.com is stoked to premiere our new short horror film, “Knife Party”!  This little slice of horror is directed by Paul Stephen Edwards and produced by LAHorror.com contributors Mikhail Zakharchuk and Hunter Johnson.  It also features a totally dope soundtrack from TeKNOsuicidE!  So put on your best outfit and come join Alec JamesChrissy Cannone, Cassandra JonesRobert Michael Price and myself to the “Knife Party”! I’ll be sure to bring my sharpest cutlery, too…cheers!

MMM…I’m hungry for seconds…

Love it?  Hate it?  Want to share it?  Let us know!  Drop us a line on Twitter and be sure to “like” LAHorror.com on Facebook!  And if you’ve got a horror website or blog, please share and review our film!  Send us the link and we’ll drop your banner on our Friends of LAHorror.com page!

“Survivor Type” – Watch it online NOW!

LAHorror.com is stoked to say that Billy Hanson’s short film “Survivor Type,” based on the short story by Stephen King of the same title, is now available to watch online via the American Online Film Awards!  As one of King’s Dollar Babies, films like this are rarely available online, so this is truly a great opportunity to not only support some amazing independent filmmakers, but also watch a gruesome movie that I absolutely dug.  This is without a doubt one of the most brutal short horror films I have ever seen.  Check out the festival trailer here!

This flick has an unbelievable performance from leading man Gideon Emery, is extremely effective given the small scope of the story and has some of the most gut-wrenching and nasty make-up and gore effects that you could ever hope for.  If you’re a fan of Stephen King, a fan of independent horror or just a fan of the macabre, then check this movie out now!  You will NOT regret it…unless you have a weak stomach, that is…enjoy!

Keep up with “Survivor Type” at the film’s official website. You can also “like” the film on Facebook.

LA Horror Review: “The Los Angeles Ripper”

Los Angeles has been home to some of the most prolific serial killers in American history.  There was, of course, the night stalker, the hillside strangler, the freeway killer and now another, Craig McIntyre’s “The Los Angeles Ripper.”

Kristy (Celeste Martinez) is an aspiring singer who has just arrived in Los Angeles for a fresh start in life.  Living with her lazy cousin and horror fanatic Aunt, things are looking up for Kristy as she makes new friends and begins to take singing lessons.  However, drug dealer Grahm (Randy Tobin), The Los Angeles Ripper, has other plans for poor Kristy.  You see, Grahm likes to torture, rape and murder young women, and he’s damn good at it…

“The Los Angles Ripper” starts with a bang and ends with a bang, take that how you will.  From the very first scene of the film, you know what you are signing up for:  a low budget, gritty serial killer story with a director unafraid to show you the good stuff.  And what else would you expect from a movie called “The Los Angeles Ripper?”  While the body count isn’t necessarily the highest, when Grahm does reveal his sinister intentions to his victims, the intimacy of the filmmaking makes for a quite unnerving experience.  The camera is always no more than a foot away from the victim, often in a cramped room or a van, and catches every grueling detail of the torment of the victims.  The style is reminiscent of the ultra gory 70s exploitation flicks, with a little dab of some zombie feasting as well.  McIntyre is clearly well versed in the horror genre.

The problem with this film is not in the kills, however, but in the killer himself.  No doubt Tobin is a talented actor, and his character is quite memorable but also kind of a…well…a douche bag.  He’s the guy who’s at the party that you didn’t really invite.  He’s the drug dealer that insists that you hang out with him when you only want your fix.  He’s the guy at the bar that just doesn’t catch a hint.  No means no, Grahm…well, kind of.  At times his awkwardness is hard to watch, but when he starts to turn into the Ripper, it’s night and day.  The douche becomes a monster and that’s when the performance really takes off.

The main meat of the story is when Grahm meets, and ultimately becomes obsessed with, Kristy.  He brazenly stalks her, is constantly showing up wherever she goes and ultimately puts her in a rough spot near the end of the film.  Their chemistry is awkward, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be, so in that regard, it works.  The supporting cast behind these two is also quite enjoyable, in particular a couple of characters that show up to Kristy’s music lessons add a light hearted break to the carnage in this film.

Indie horror fans should appreciate this film, especially ones in the Los Angeles area.  It does give you a feel for this city and there are some moments that legitimately made me cringe.  While the film isn’t necessarily as deep as it could have been, the gore is intense and the soundtrack is excellent.  The final shot of the film is also one that will stick with you, a serious gut-wrencher.  I’m a huge fan of serial killer films, and while “The Los Angeles Ripper” isn’t necessarily the scariest, it certainly is worth a look for indie horror lovers and newbies to LA.  So go get ripped already.

Be sure to check out “The Los Angeles Ripper” on Facebook and twitter.

LA Horror Presents: “Survivor Type” (coming soon)

Who doesn’t love some Stephen King?  Every horror fan has either read or seen some of his work and can appreciate King as a true superman of the genre.  His countless books, short stories and poetry have gone on to influence waves of aspiring horror artists, writers and filmmakers.  And because of King’s strong encouragement of film adaptations of his work, filmmakers like Billy Hanson have been able to share their love for King with their own personal twist.

Billy Hanson, writer and director of the upcoming short film “Survivor Type,” has promised a truly horrifying and nasty project based on King’s 1982 short story of the same title.  The story is told through the video journal entries of young surgeon trapped on a deserted island.  With no food in sight, he must do the unthinkable:  eat himself to stay alive.

Sounds like fun, right?  Well check out the teaser trailer for Hanson’s new film and find out what he had to say about it to LAHorror.com!

LA Horror:  Of all of the short stories by Stephen King, what made “Survivor Type” so appealing to make into a film?  

Hanson:  “Survivor Type” is a story that really sticks with you for a lot of different reasons.  Before I wrote the script, I would tell people what it was about in a very general and vague way and they would cringe and get grossed out at the thought of it.  If you have the chance to tell a story where even talking about it makes people uncomfortable, you have to jump on it.  It’s rare to find an idea that strong.

As soon as I found out that “Survivor Type” was on the Dollar Baby list, I jumped on it right away and started working on a script, even before we heard back that we were cleared to make it.  I also really love the idea of sticking with one character as he goes through this inner turmoil completely alone.  As much as I love the gore and the disgusting bits (and I do), it’s a really interesting and intense character study.  It deals with very basic conflicts that everybody feels, you know; are you going to Heaven or Hell; do your good or your bad deeds determine who you are; what do you do when facing such a hopeless situation and a slow, agonizing death?  It was really fun to explore those ideas in the guise of a bloody and disgusting horror movie.

LA Horror:  From the trailer it looks like actor Gideon Emery is going to rock this movie.  Tell us a little bit about his performance and his reaction to being a one-man movie.

Gideon Emery plays the stranded, and delicious, Richard Pine.

Hanson:  I know people boast about their actors all the time, but Gideon Emery gave a performance that was nothing short of incredible.  We were out there for four days on the cliffs in Malibu, shooting about 26 pages of dialogue and very intense make-up and special effects, and he was honestly great in every scene.  Even in the smaller, quicker scenes, he’d calculated Richard Pine’s descent into madness so well that I was amazed on set, then amazed again when I saw dailies every night.  It’s a really powerful and at times, heartbreaking performance.

We spoke a few times before the shoot, talking about the character and who he is and what he’s going through on the island, so on the day I gave very little direction and just basically let him loose to do his thing.  I didn’t give many notes at all.

One thing I was worried about before we cast was that this part could easily go down the hammy, cheesy road with the crazy things he has to do, but on set those worries were gone right away.  The funny stuff is funny, the horrible stuff is horrifying, and every second of footage we shot was completely believable thanks to Gideon’s meticulous work.

Another great thing is that Gideon is a voice actor, so he has great control over what his voice sounds like, and as you’ll notice, even in the trailer, his voice changes significantly from beginning to end.  That was all him.  I loved it, because it adds another layer of horror and realism to what’s happening to him, physically.  His voice work helped with the pages and pages of monologues, too.  This movie relies so heavily on Richard Pine, but ultimately will be rewarded with a great performance from Gideon.

LA Horror:  How about the special effects?  Just how gory is this movie?

Hanson:  The very first thing we did was look for a make-up guy, even before the script was done.  We had to see if it was even possible to achieve what we wanted without spending $100,000.  We found Doug Murphy through a couple of friends who’d worked with him on this great short called “Dark Times”.  We met with Doug and talked about the movie and what we wanted to do (which was a lot) and we all figured out some creative ways to get what we needed economically.  That being said, there are at least a few effects in the film that will really surprise and impress people.

Going back to what I was saying with the video diary, we realized that we didn’t have the convenience of cutting away or framing out any of the big effects.  Either way, there was no point in us doing this story if we were going to cheat the audience out of the nasty stuff, so we charged forward and had several very ambitious builds.  I think we had a fake leg, a broken ankle application, a fake hand, fake ear, rotting teeth, sunburns, and that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head.

It was a big job for Doug and his team, but they pulled off a great achievement with this project.  Whenever Gideon walked onto set with the next stage of make-up, it was cringe-worthy.  The teeth and the ear especially creeped me out, but wait until you see the leg amputation.  The awesome make-up with Gideon’s performance, it’s unbelievable.

“Survivor Type” will be hitting festivals this fall.  To support this film, please visit their IndieGoGo page.  You can also view more behind the scenes pictures and interviews here.