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.

Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse

Doesn’t horror make you want to dance??  You gotta check out “Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse,” a dope new music video from Gorestep artist Borgore, directed by James Cullen Bressack.  It stars Shannen Doherty, Zack Ward, a whole bunch of ultra gory zombies and a mother fucking unicorn.  Just turn the speakers way up before you start watching it!  Enjoy horror lovers!

LA Horror Review: “Zombie Prom” – a FREE Horror Musical in Studio City, CA

Prom.  A night of wonder for some, and a night of horror for others!  And if you live in the Los Angeles area, then find a date and relive the memory at “Zombie Prom,” a totally kick ass late night horror musical that’s going on now!  We checked out the show and it’s ridiculous and hysterical.  It’s always great to see good horror theatre.

Zombie Prom Promo

The musical itself is…well, it’s “Zombie Prom.”  You feel me?  It’s upbeat, super energetic and has all of the stuff that makes a campy musical fun.  But director David Ruben doesn’t hold anything back and has created an interactive and ultra intimate theater experience that was an absolute pleasure to be watch.  The cast, lead by two heartthrobs in Reagan Osborne and Alli Miller, show some MAJOR chops with impeccable singing along with some serious choreography.  Each actor is fully committed and super talented – there really are some strong performances all around.  Some special props to actress Kate Bowman for being a ridiculously funny villain throughout.

Now, this is a musical, so expect a ton of singing and dancing and not much gore, but Director David Ruben definitely amps up the campiness with some classic horror influenced staging and direction.  Check out their promo video below to get a feel for the vibe!

We chatted with Director David Ruben to learn a bit more about the show, so check it horror lovers!

LAHorror:  David…”Zombie Prom.”  Where the hell did this come from?

David Ruben:  “Zombie Prom” is a hilarious, late night rock musical that premiered in the 90’s off Broadway with quite the underground following.  It spoofs B horror films, Hammer Films, and sci-fi flicks of the 50s and 60s with musical stylings of the period.   We decided to present the show because it’s just the type of material that develops into a nocturne/cult hit that audiences will eat up.

LAHorror:  What are your favorite zombie-related horror flicks?

DR:  I don’t have much of a background watching zombie flicks besides the original “Night of The Living Dead”, but I grew up watching a lot of the Hammer films and some of those old Roger Corman pictures.  Those films had an immense impact on how I approached a lot of the material in the musical.

LAHorror:  How is your cast?  Was your leading man excited to be playing a walking member of the undead?

DR:  The cast is 10 strong — 7 students, 1 zombie, a school principal, and a sleazy tabloid reporter.  All are local talent with immense enthusiasm and pluck.   The show is a whirlwind of theatrical efforts.  Shockingly, the musical is almost 80% sung.   I’ve yet to ask the leading man if he is excited to be a walking member of the undead, but I imagine he is.  He gets to be a zombie.  Who wouldn’t be excited?

LAHorror:  Why should horror fans come and check out your show??

DR:  A) Zombie.  B) Free.  C) Full Bar.  D) It’s awesome.  E) Did I mention zombie, free, and alcohol?

LAHorror:  Anything else you’d like to share about “Zombie Prom”?

DR:  We are doing the show free as a social experiment.  We asked the audiences to come and not pay because it’s a pain to pay for an event if you don’t know if you’ll like it or not.  At the end of the show we will ask our audiences to give us a few bucks if you liked what you say so we can continue to provide free theatre.  It’s our way of not pricing people out of seeing live entertainment.

The show is performing at Upstairs at Vittello’s in Studio City every Friday in March at 11:00 PM.   Tickets can be reserved my e-mailing zombiepromtickets@yahoo.com or by calling Vitello’s at (818) 769-0905.

LA Horror Review: “Zombie with a Shotgun”

Zombie with a Shotgun.”  That’s rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?  I always like to see how people take the classic idea of flesh eating zombies and transform it into their own creation, and in this web series by Hilton Ariel Ruiz, not only is our main character a soon-to-be zombie, but he’s also got a motherfucking shotgun.  Get it?

With four episodes released, “Zombie with a Shotgun” definitely sparked my interest by the quick pace and high drama.  We start during the middle of some sort of flesh eating apocalypse, and our hero, Aaron (Braeden Baade), along with love, Rachel (Lynnea Molone), are trying desperately to survive, even though Aaron himself has been bitten by a member of the undead.  The great thing about “Zombie with a Shotgun” is it starts right at all the good stuff – zombies, guns and of course the cruel battle against human nature.  It’s a fun idea from Ruiz that has the potential to become a much larger story.

The episodes showcase our two protagonists nicely, and at times you wonder which one of them will emerge the story’s true hero.  Each episode runs just about five minutes, and they do go quick.  It will be fun to see our hero’s full transformation into a flesh-eating Zombie…with a shotgun, of course.

Ruiz will be releasing another 5-6 episodes and potentially a feature film down the road.  We’ve posted the first two episodes here, so grab your twelve-gauge and pull the trigger!

To watch more, click here!  Be sure to follow “Zombie with a Shotgun” on twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

LA Horror Presents: “Summer of the Zombies”

Well, summer is nearing its end, sadly, and pretty soon the weather will be getting colder.  It’s a damn shame, too because who doesn’t enjoy sitting out in the sun, cracking open an ice-cold beer and taking a whopping bite of a delicious, juicy flame grilled cheeseburger?  Well, maybe we’ll skip the burger this time, because if “Summer of the Zombies,” the new short film from Owlet Pictures, teaches us anything, it’s that meat really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…even if you’re a flesh eating zombie.

Writer/Directors Ashleigh Nichols and Eddie Beasley have certainly taken a classic horror genre and given it a new twist in their 10 minute tale, taking the oft flesh eating villains we all know and love and making them much more appealing to a progressive crowd.  You see, our protagonist in this tale (a zombie, naturally), has a hard time buying into the fact that she’s supposed to eat flesh like the rest of her fellow corpses.  Catch my drift?  Vegetarian Zombies.

“We were literally drinking with friends and we were just talking…I think we said the combo of words vegetarian and zombie, and we just knew instantly that we needed to go home and write it, like, immediately.  And shoot it immediately and get it out there.  It was literally just the wine talking,” Nichols said laughing.

“It’s been received really well; we’ve managed to play at different horror film festivals and we’ve also played at some comedy festivals.  It’s mixed audiences, everyone seems to enjoy it,” Beasley said.

And why not?  The film is plenty gory, oddly heartwarming and full of laugh out loud moments.  Not to mention an ending that would make George Romero giddy with delight.  And in that same breath, the film is overflowing with social commentary from the very first shot to the closing credit song.  This, however, was not an intentional choice by the filmmakers.

“I don’t think we ever really tried to come up with any kind of serious message that people could take away from it.  We came up an idea we wanted to have fun with,” Beasley said.  “Neither one of us are full vegetarians or anything,” added Nichols.

Well, I guess I don’t feel too bad eating my burger anymore…

Nichols and Beasley are currently in production on a comedic web series entitled “Mall Joggers.”  Nichols also produced the underground hit “The Last Lovecraft:  Relic of Cthulu.”  Be sure to follow Owlet Pictures on Twitter.

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 Presents: “D&F3R”

Things don’t go well for Betty and Skip…

This is a special news bulletin!  This is a special news bulletin!  There have been reports of another girl missing at the hands of the Homestead Ripper!  We at LAHorror.com along with local authorities urge you to stay in your homes at all costs, and for God’s sake don’t get caught necking with your boyfriend in the woods!

Well, that’s only part of the set up in writer/director Brian L. Hauge‘s multi-genre horror short, “D&F3R:  Dead and Floating in Three Rivers.”  Set in 1956, this movie has a serial killer, biological weapons, zombies and even a plane crashing, dead awakening blow-job all in the span of ten short minutes.

Beautifully shot and directed, “D&F3R” is by far one of the most unique pieces submitted to us so far.  It plays with some classic cliches as well as turning some others on their head, not to mention a wicked sense of humor in some of the sequences.

This movie went to a multitude of horror festivals including it’s premier at the 2008 Fright Night Film Festival and has garnished over 260,000 views on YouTube.  Haven’t seen it yet?  Well, what the hell are you waiting for??  Quit reading this story, click the link below and give this movie a shot!

LA Horror Presents: Peter Dukes

Most horror fans become enticed by the genre at a young age.  We all remember being terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys.  We’ve had nightmares after reading “Goosebumps” books under our blankets with flashlights.  We all remember being frightened on Halloween, even though our parents were close by to protect us.  Horror is a crucial part of our culture at every age, which is why LAHorror.com is proud to present Peter Dukes and Dream Seekers productions.

What Peter Dukes has created is a wide variety of horror films in a multitude of genres and, more importantly, films that inspire seasoned horror veterans as well as children young and old. “I’ve always prided myself in diversifying what it is that I do.  I have the interest in telling all sorts of stories.  I love all types of genres,” Dukes told LAHorror.com.  And his films do just that.  From whimsical and magical, to brooding and suspenseful, Dukes films are all horrifying on completely different levels.

One of the more lighthearted horror films we’ve seen yet is “The Scarecrow & The Princess.”  It’s hard not to love this movie, and the ending will leave your imagination running wild.  We must warn you that the following film is rated PG (parental guidance suggested).

Keeping in the fantastical realm, “A Goblin’s Tale” is one of those films that isn’t necessarily straight horror, but does have a sinister side in an otherwise magical story.  It stars Tiffany Giardina of Radio Disney and features some pretty excellent make-up work and design.

But children’s storytelling isn’t all that Dukes does—not even close.  “There are a lot of different types of horror out there.  My horror tends to be a little more cerebral.  A little more psychological,” Dukes said.

And that’s what makes his films so unique; it’s less of a blood and guts show and more of a mind game.  Take for instance, “Lanrete.”  Dukes takes the classic and often super gory zombie genre and spins it upside down with some terrific and disturbing results.  “I intentionally kept this film very ambiguous and I did that for very specific reasons,” Dukes explained.  And the ambiguity is what makes this film work.  While Dukes may have written a zombie film, it’s really up to audience interpretation as to what is really going on here.

Dukes latest film, “The Beast,” is another character drama that has a vicious horror twist.  The film features stellar performances by Bill Oberst Jr., Peter Le Bas and Alexander Le Bas.  The trio brings this beast to life, pun intended.

We expect to see a lot more from Peter Dukes and Dream Seekers productions.  With “The Beast” hitting the festival circuit this year as well as a plethora of other scripts in the pre-production stage, we hope that these films will continue to inspire both the young and old, fantastic and realist and living and dead alike.

For more from Peter Dukes the films of Dream Seekers Productions, please visit their official website.

LA Horror Presents: George Streicher and Bruce Spielbauer

George Streicher and Bruce Spielbauer on the set of "The Laughing Window"

When creating a film, or any piece of collaborative art for that matter, chemistry is everything.   We often see directors work with the same actors for multiple projects, and why not?  If it works, it works.  George Streicher, a Chicagoland filmmaker who recently made the plunge to Los Angeles, knows all too well about this and has found success using this formula.

Streicher’s interest in horror films began as a child, not out of morbid curiosity, but out of fear.  “I like horror movies.  I’ve feel like I’ve always been afraid of so much, and I’m still kind of a ‘scaredy cat’ and I’m still a little afraid of the dark,” Streicher bravely admitted to LAHorror.com.  But Streicher used that fear to create some of the creepiest films we’ve seen so far.  Ranging from high suspense to high gore, to breaths of relief and moments of laughter, Streicher has created a contrasting portfolio with one major through-line: actor, Bruce Spielbauer.

Streicher initially met Spielbauer through a mutual friend and producer.  Spielbauer auditioned for Streicher’s horror/revenge short, “Total Eclipse,” and Streicher knew that he’d found his killer.  And who could blame him?  Spielbauer has a distinct look that horror filmmakers are constantly searching for.  “He just has the Anthony Perkins element to him…Bruce is very photographable,” Streicher said.

And aside from the “nice guy neighbor who may love to chop up young girls” look Spielbauer has, he’s also a terrific performer and a natural in front of the camera.  “Man, when he showed up, he was creeping everybody out because he was in character the whole time,” Streicher recalled of the “Total Eclipse” shoot.  Well, wouldn’t you be creeped out if this guy was on your set?

The very much alive cast and crew of "Total Eclipse"

But anyone who knows Spielbauer will tell you that he’s one of the nicest people on the planet, and he credits his stellar performances to Streicher as a director.  After all, they both have similar inspirations and together they gel on set. “[Streicher] and I both like excellent stories, stories that go somewhere…He also, I want to say, is a big fan of Hitchcock…he’s a big fan of the old television series ‘The Twilight Zone’…I’m just a huge fan of that same genre, and that may also be partly why we hit it off so well,” Spielbauer told LAHorror.com.

And you can see those influences play out in Spielbauer’s performances and in Streicher’s style as a filmmaker.  Streicher’s horror-esque film, “Viper,” screams Hitchcock, ratcheting up the suspense in each frame masterfully and enhanced by Spielbauer’s (mostly) lone performance.  Streicher is, as Spielbauer puts it, an actor’s director and someone who knows how to get the best work from his actors.  “He has a great ability for sizing up people and realizing the best means of communicating with them,” Spielbauer said.  And during “Viper,” that communication was key for several shots, because Spielbauer was acting without the recorded audio, having to actually internalize each moment his character was feeling.  But could you tell?

Didn’t think so.

They most recently teamed up on a 35mm film, “The Laughing Window,” which is coming soon. While it is Streicher’s largest project to date, it certainly looks like it could be his best.  The set was constructed from scratch and involved some heavy duty special effects.  And just as Streicher knew he wanted to offer the lead role to Spielbauer, Spielbauer was thrilled to be back on set with one of his favorite directors.  “I can’t praise George [Streicher] enough, and I would say he’s one of the very few directors that I would say, ‘Anytime, anyplace, I will work with them.’”

Well let’s hope that anytime, anyplace happens quite often for these two…

You can view more of Streicher’s work at his youtube channel.  Streicher also composes much of the music for his own films as well as other projects, which can be heard here.  Spielbauer’s full resume is available on his IMDB page.