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    “THE BARBER” (Film Review)

    Following the demise of the slasher film, torture porn and home invasion horror, serial killer thrillers looked to be next on the chopping block as human-based horror fell out of vogue. After all, successive entries in the genre weren’t necessarily reinventing the wheel, as many of these films shared same stalking and killing scenes beat by beat. But among the monotony of the serial killer subgenre, there’d be one or two diamonds in the rough, bolstered by exceptional performances and an inventive approach that at least played with the audience expectations. Luckily, Basel Owies’ THE BARBER is one of those films, a descent into darkness with some refreshing surprises and suspense along the way.

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    “BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 3″ (TV Review)

    For a series based on one of the most terrifying schizophrenic killers in cinema history, I really shouldn’t expect the same duality from the narrative quality of BATES MOTEL. However, if the third episode of the third season, “Persuasion,” is any indication, that just might be the case. While I lamented the direction of the seasonal arc in the last episode, with the show once again returning to the “big town with dirty secrets” storyline that’s as tiresome as it is familiar, the third episode gets back on track with the inter-family tension between Norman and Norma seen in the first episode, and finally brings us to a super eerie place for the first time this season.

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    “DIGGING UP THE MARROW” (Blu-ray Review)

    With most films, especially in the horror genre, it’s always best to go in with as little knowledge as possible as to what’s coming as to prevent entering with unfair expectations. After all, as reviewers, we have an obligation to approach all projects for review with an open mind and as little baggage as possible; we’re champions of cinema, and should always be looking to raise it upon our shoulders than push it under our feet. Yet with some films, such as DIGGING UP THE MARROW, the film is so tied into the filmmaker’s DNA that the overall viewing experience will, somehow, someway, be tampered by one’s take on director/star Adam Green. If you’re a fan, or indifferent, or unknowing of Green’s past work, MARROW will work on many levels, and from this writer’s review some weeks back, the film is both a narrative and technical success for Green and Co. But if you’re actively not a fan of Green, MARROW won’t do much to change that, as Green or Green’s properties are referenced in almost every scene in this film.

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    “R100″ (FANTASTICA Blu-ray Review)

    There are some movies that within the first five minutes, you’re either 100% in or 100% out. And while Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100 might initially appear like that kind of movie, the incredibly insane, fantastic and hysterically self-aware places the film prove any savvy viewer would be dead wrong. An cinematic genetic cross between John Waters and Neveldine/Taylor, Drafthouse Films has brought R100 to Blu-ray, allowing any daring viewers can take a trip down R100’s bizarre highway of S&M madness in excellent high definition.

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    “THE WALKING DECEASED” (Film Review)

    At this point, most horror fans have become jaded to the concept of the “horror spoof,” despite becoming jaded with most everything else in the landscape of contemporary horror. And, to be fair, one can’t blame them much: horror fans will frequently avoid spoofs like the plague due to weak and uninspired gags in the marketing, and even sometimes see these parodies as a sign of disrespect to the genre as the filmmakers don’t “understand” what makes horror work. But, as with any film this writer has covered, I approached THE WALKING DECEASED with an open mind, and in doing so, I discovered that not only was DECEASED respectful of its source material, but also genuinely funny.

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    “REBOUND” (Film Review)

    When it comes to independent filmmaking, the dynamic between the familiar and the fresh is always an important one to observe. In this sense, a film can be aware of the subversion it has made to specific expectations or genre tropes, but only after it has become cognizant that the audience should be familiar with the story or subject matter. It’s an odd narrative tug-o-war, yet one seemingly necessary for a majority of genre films, especially ones such as Megan Freels Johnston’s REBOUND.

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    “GHOUL” (2015; Movie Review)

    GHOUL set a genre box-office record in its opening weekend in its native Czechoslovakia, no doubt in part due to its appropriation of the true story of Soviet cannibal Andrei Chikatilo. One wonders how those audiences felt once they realized that Chikatilo’s presence largely amounts to name-dropping in the midst of a very familiar found-footage scenario.

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    “BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 2″ (TV Review)

    Last week’s premiere for A&E’s BATES MOTEL was a solid start to the third season, disassociating itself from many of the show’s problems from season 2 and focusing on Norman’s descent into his darker side. Yet sometimes, you realize a tiger can’t change its stripes, and even as entertaining it may be, it doesn’t quite make for as compelling television as a show stripped down to its basic emotional elements. Hence, the second episode of BATES MOTEL’s third season seems to go into a direction that, while watchable, seems to go down the path of some of the more ridiculous places in season two.

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    “THE RETURNED: Season 1, Episode 1″ (TV Review)

    Considering the acclaimed French series from which it is based on, A&E’s THE RETURNED always has had a critical and commercial hurdle to jump. After all, the original series has taken on new life via instant streaming services and is beloved among both fans of horror and drama. And among many contemporary viewers, the chance that the show would stick too slavishly to its source material seemed unappealing in its own right. Yet even though the show has been sticking to it’s French inspiration , the performances on display are strong enough to uncover potential in the future of the series.

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