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    “GHOUL” (2015; Movie Review)

    GHOUL set a genre box-office record in its opening weekend in its native Czech Republic, 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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    “BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 1” (TV Review)

    To this writer, there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing the direction that BATES MOTEL will eventually go, and the, dare we say, change in Norman’s voice that’s been teased in A&E’s previews for season three. But, BATES MOTEL still has to get there, and  I have to give A&E credit in that the first episode of the third season is much better written than most of season two, especially in terms of the oh-so-uncomfortable approach to Norman and Norma’s familial relationship. And with strong writing comes strong performances, and luckily, strong direction, which all makes “A Death in the Family” a solid lead in with a promise of something much creepier.

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    “THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE” (1962) (UK Blu-ray Review)

    Now, I’ll be up front: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is not a horror movie. However, the 1962 John Frankenheimer film is as close as a political thriller could be to being a horror film and a believable drama, carrying elements that are familiar to genre fans, including PSYCHO, THE DEAD ZONE and ROSEMARY’S BABY. And it also has the benefit of being genuinely scary at points, and thanks to a befitting Region B Blu-ray from Arrow Video, the time is ripe for revisiting this intense and unnerving classic.

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    “LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE” (Film Review)

    What is it about the anthology format that sings a siren’s call to so many aspiring horror filmmakers, plumping their imaginations and then luring their visions to sit in bite-sized confines? Despite having only a handful of truly classic examples to lionize, there is no shortage of independent attempts at reviving a storytelling structure longsince fallen out of fashion in the studio system. Canadian indie LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE is the one of the latest darts flung hopefully towards a bulls-eye occupied by the finest of episodic frights: TRILOGY OF TERROR, TALES FROM THE CRYPT (the Amicus picture), CREEPSHOW, TRICK ‘R TREAT, and precious few others.

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    “NEKROMANTIK 2” (Blu-ray Review)

    Not long ago, we were blessed with a pretty stocked Cult Epics Blu-ray of German filmmaker Jörg Buttgereit’s infamous NEKROMANTIK (review), which made the world ill upon its 1987 arrival and rightfully retains its notoriety. Having acquired more experience behind the camera and further fascination with those who prefer sex with the dead after reading an interview with a female necrophile, Buttgereit decided a sequel would be a worthwhile endeavor.

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    “DON’T GO IN THE WOODS” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

    The word DON’T could arguably be applied to the decision to watch this movie, but amidst the many imitative slasher flicks of the early ’80s, this one is so incoherent and ridiculous that there’s little surprise it has acquired a cult following in the ensuing decades. Those fans will be thrilled with Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo, which is packed with sufficient extras to make it a worthwhile purchase even for casual fans of the subgenre.

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    “OUT OF THE DARK” (Movie Review)

    The most promising credit in the opening of OUT OF THE DARK isn’t necessarily one of its experienced cast names, but that of Participant Media, which has previously been allied more with socially relevant fare like GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK and AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH than with traditional horror flicks. The ends of this particular film explain the company’s involvement, though the means prove wobbly.

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