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  • “ASH VS. EVIL DEAD: Season 1, Episode 1” (TV Review)

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    When watching the pilot episode of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, one can’t help but feel that this entry into the franchise is truly a culmination of all that came before it. Whether it be the hallucinatory, slow-burn dread of the original film, the over-the-top gore and demonic possession of EVIL DEAD II, the slapstick/one-liner friendly humor of ARMY OF DARKNESS or the gut-wrenching viscera of the 2013 reboot, ASH VS. EVIL DEAD is a carefully crafted mixing pot of any and everything an EVIL DEAD fan could want from Ash’s grand return. But even beyond the carnage on display, the reason why ASH VS. EVIL DEAD evokes such a potent sense of nostalgia is that Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert are still finding new ways to have fun and fright in a universe with 30 years of familiarity behind it.

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  • “CRIMSON PEAK” (Movie Review)

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    Early in CRIMSON PEAK, Mia Wasikowska’s aspiring writer describes her first attempt at a novel by saying that it’s “not a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts in it.” That idea is key to enjoying Guillermo del Toro’s latest, a lush, lavish masterpiece of Gothic atmosphere whose story pays homage to classic old-dark-house and romantic thrillers.

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  • “TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD” (Comic Book Review)

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    When TRICK ‘R TREAT first hit the movie market, the film didn’t exactly get a chance to turn a lot of heads. A direct-to-video run after a two year delay almost knocked the film into obscurity but thanks to strong reviews and a legion of dedicated horror fans, TRICK ‘R TREAT has now become a cult favorite. The anthology movie is anchored by a sack-wearing figure named Sam, who often ties together each of the seemingly unconnected short stories all occurring on one bizarre night on Halloween. From werewolves to the undead to serial killers, the movie tapped into all the deep dark fears of the when the sun goes down on the most spookiest of days and, with its folklore-ish vibe, created a great movie out of a classic subject.

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  • “GOOSEBUMPS” (Movie Review)

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    The opening logos on GOOSEBUMPS include not only the expected Sony and Columbia Pictures, but also Sony Pictures Animation. While this portends an excessive amount of CGI to follow, the filmmakers have at least made a run at hitching their wagon to their actors—at least until an excessive amount of digital FX does follow. So much so that one of the freakish creatures pictured on the poster/ad art can barely be glimpsed in the finished movie, where he (it?) is relegated to massing-monster crowd scenes.

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  • “THE MIND’S EYE” (Movie Review)

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    If SCANNERS came out today, what would we make of it? Luckily, we don’t have to ask ourselves this question with THE MIND’S EYE exploding across the festival scene (including Austin, TX’s Fantastic Fest). Informed as much by the 1994 spinoff SCANNER COP as by the iconic headbusting classic itself, THE MIND’S EYE takes the whole franchise and channels it into a bad-ass midnight movie that wears its love of David Cronenberg right on its sleeve.

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  • “MORITURIS” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

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    Crucifixion. Death by millstone grinding. Men outfitted in rotting animal hides and thrown to wild dogs. Evening garden parties lit by burning, accelerant-soaked Christians hanging from trees. Damnatio ad bestias (“condemnation to beasts”) as public entertainment in the amphitheaters. Sawing of live upside-down human beings from crotch to skull. Julian of Antioch publicly humiliated and beaten every day for a full year before being sewed up, as Wikipedia notes, “in a sack half-filled with scorpions, sand, and vipers, and cast into the sea.”

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  • “NIGHT FARE” (Mile High Horror Film Review)

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    To call NIGHT FARE a weird entry into the horror genre is one hell of an understatement. It’s an incredibly well-crafted and exceptionally thrilling film that, at times, shows shades of JOY RIDE, THE HITCHER and THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN into the mix. However, it’s also a bit of a tonal rollercoaster, and while the entire experience is a damn fun time, some of the sharp turns on display are flat-out bewildering. While a lesser filmmaker would likely make those choices in a disjointed or erratic fashion, director Julien Seri works some unabashed midnight movie magic to make NIGHT FARE work as a strange, sinister new import you’ll have to see to believe.

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  • “THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE” (Mile High Horror Film Review)

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    There’s a certain skill in creating a psychological horror film that feels ultimately human. While it was Norman Bates who reminded us that “We all go a little mad sometimes,” to tap into innately human fears that the average person can relate to is a difficult task, especially when so many filmmakers go for the explicitly surreal to heighten their scares. Yet it is the humanity of THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE that makes it so absolutely unnerving, playing up the everyday life of the characters and their unassuming normality before twisting the perspective into something much scarier.

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  • “MEDUSA” (Movie Review)

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    Mythology professor Jack Peruci is struggling to convince the academic powers that be to continue funding his unorthodox research when he serendipitously connects with a colorful witch doctor who sells him an ancient artifact—an ornate mirror that just so happens to contain the spirit of the famed gorgon Medusa.

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  • “GRAVY” (Film Review)

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    As many horror fans know, horror comedies can be a tricky tonal tightrope to walk as there’s so many things to be considered. On the comedy side, the material needs to be funny, organic to the scary situations on display and respectful of the genre, lest you fall too far into the even trickier realm of genre parody. On the horror side, the material needs to be able to jump into comedy effectively and naturally while deciding how it will work in relation to audience expectations, either working towards genre tropes to set up the humor or work with the humor to subvert expectations. However, even if the horror and the comedy doesn’t quite jive, a strong cast, funny dialogue and messy practical effects can buy much good will, which is largely why James Roday’s directorial debut GRAVY works as well as it does.

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  • “A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY” (Mile High Horror Film Review)

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    To be completely fair, there were only few ways A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY could have failed in this writer’s eyes. As a lifelong fan and supporter of anthology horror as well as having a soft spot for Christmas horror, a film that would blend the two (and effectively at that) would automatically have an advantage as opposed to your average, everyday fright film. And luckily, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY uses neither subgenre as a shameless gimmick, instead delivering a really impressive and diverse film that brings psychological and gory goodness in equal measure.

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  • “GODDESS OF LOVE” (Film Review)

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    When a horror film- or any film for that matter- is subject to the independent production process, the sheer lack of budget and time to bring the story to reality is a true test to the mettle of a filmmaker. For some, the temptation to cut as many corners as possible and stretch out any given moment in an amateur attempt to get to feature length is an irresistible one. However, tried-and-true filmmakers rely on resources, passion and healthy collaboration to bring their story to life as authentically as possible. Jon Knautz certainly falls in the latter category, and in that regards, GODDESS OF LOVE uses its low-budget means to its advantage by crafting an utterly claustrophobic and bold film that is gripping from start to finish.

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