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  • BiFan 2016: “AUTOHEAD” (Film Review)

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    As a general rule, I don’t call myself much of a fan of found-footage horror. At the height of hype for the original BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, I’d been enamored with the idea. Framing your narrative as a mysterious and dangerous bit of film that someone found in the wild, leftover from some horror or tragedy, is a great concept for generating some sincere unease. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who thought so, and the result was innumerable shaky, blurry, cobbled-together films that lean on the found-footage conceit to excuse plot holes or a shoddy aesthetic. With any rule, however, there are always exceptions, and this writer was pleased to discover that Indian faux-documentary AUTOHEAD is one of them.

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  • “DON’T BREATHE” (Film Review)

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    I doubt you’ll find a film this year more appropriately titled than Fede Alvarez’s DON’T BREATHE. As simplistic as it is suspenseful, DON’T BREATHE is undoubtedly an intense and unpredictable thrill-ride, one that will literally take your breath away during its numerous incredible set pieces. And for the many horror fans who complain about the horror genre’s penchant for the familiar and unoriginal, DON’T BREATHE is a well-needed gut punch of cinematic studio horror that is unafraid to throw petrifying punches outside of the jump scare landscape.

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  • BiFan 2016: “KARATE KILL” (Film Review)

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    There are some films that take a while to digest, to process, to parse. Sometimes it can days or weeks after a viewing (or multiple viewings), to form an opinion. Then sometimes, even that opinion changes with time, ephemeral and difficult-to-define feelings for a piece of art fluctuating based on moods and seasons. Other times, you can form a pretty safe assessment based on the first ten minutes, or even a trailer. In some rare cases, a film is so free from pretense, so upfront with its motives and influences, you can get a pretty good idea just from looking at the poster. KARATE KILL is one such movie.

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  • BiFan 2016: “THE TAG-ALONG” (Film Review)

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    There’s a fine line between mystery and ambiguity, and the use of both in horror filmmaking both come with their own unique risks and rewards. With the right balance of mystery, a horror film can use suspense and misdirection to change the audience’s perception of a character or plot point in a way that feels thrilling and earned. However, the use of ambiguity has to be more careful, as a plot point or story beat that’s left open-ended can make the audience question anything else that could be open for interpretation. But when synchronized, mystery and ambiguity can be almost weaponized by a filmmaker, offering something genuinely engaging while continually pulling back to curtain to hint at a deeper, darker picture.

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  • BiFan 2016: “VILLMARK ASYLUM” (Film Review)

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    The problem with playing it safe in the horror genre is the risk of becoming too damn predictable. Sure, interesting characters, solid FX, and effective scares can go a long way for a simple, if terribly familiar narrative. But in the case of VILLMARK ASYLUM, staying risk-free costs the film any truly scary surprises, offering a sadly uninspired cinematic affair that pales in comparison to its 2003 predecessor.

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  • BiFan 2016: “WE ARE THE FLESH” (Film Review)

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    When it comes to transgressive cinema, there are imitators and then there is the real deal. In the former category falls films that too often rely on their inspirations and influences, painting a hollow recreation of yesteryear’s shocking cinema. Likewise, imitators also will often go for the easy shocks and “hot-button” subject matter without exploring what they’re saying, why they’re saying it, and- most importantly- how it fits organically within the story they’re telling. Hence, when you do encounter the real deal, it’s something you feel from every frame of the film as it breaks down your expectations and barrels into your comfort zone with truly disturbing, provocative storytelling.

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  • “BLACK MONDAY MURDERS #1” (Comic Book Review)

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    There is nothing more worth killing over than money and power. While some may argue that there is more to life than such petty things as arbitrarily assigned values to paper and metal, the families in BLACK MONDAY MURDERS might have some strongly worded arguments; especially when the demon Mammon is concerned. Image Comics highly-anticipated financial horror comic may seem like an odd addition to the growing pathos of horror work, it’s the addition of black magic to the already shady underworld of banking institutions that allows it to earn its place with its arcane brethren. Throw in a determined detective with his own ties to the occult and you got the noir twist for a book that’s already halfway to creating its own genre.

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  • “JEDI SUMMER WITH THE MAGNETIC KID” (Book Review)

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    A few years back John Boden embedded his lyrical, surrealist “End Times mosaic” DOMINOES into a brilliantly illustrated packaging scheme mimicking those classic Little Golden books we all coo n’ aww’ed our way through growing up, replacing the Poky little puppy and Scuffy the tugboat with Allan, a very jaded harvester of souls. It’s safe to say in lesser hands the project could’ve got too impressed with its own conception and flown straight off the goddamn rails in execution, but the rising horror scribe was canny and deft enough in his approach to that the cute conceit strengthened rather than overwhelmed the affecting, legit disquieting narrative.  

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  • “THE LURE” (Fantasia Film Review)

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    “Poland doesn’t make horror movies or musicals, so for my first movie, I did both,” director Agnieszka Smoczynska explained in her video intro to THE LURE at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, preparing the festival audience for one of the most unique and mesmerizing cinematic experiences of their lives. It’s a good year for being a mermaid, with both Stephen Chow’s record-breaking THE MERMAID and THE LURE bringing emotionally charged oceanic mythos to the big screen.

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  • “STRANGER THINGS” (TV Review)

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    In this current climate of the entertainment industry, it’s no surprise that genre filmmakers tend to use nostalgia to their advantage, as, sadly, so few fright fans are willing to give wholly original work a fair shake. While sometimes this leads to grating, overused genre tropes from yesteryear getting another chance to shine, filmmakers who learn from their inspirations and apply it in earnest can create something very special. Luckily, STRANGER THINGS absolutely falls in the latter category, crafting a story evocative of Stephen King and ’80s supernatural thriller pulp novels that balances brilliant character work and gripping genre storytelling effortlessly.

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  • “BLUE SUNSHINE” (Blu-ray Review)

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    For fans of the wild, weird world of ’70s cult cinema, BLUE SUNSHINE is a tried-and-true standout with a story of its own almost as tumultuous as the film itself. A notable cable discovery whose official video release had been substandard for decades due to damaged existing prints, director Jeff Lieberman recently discovered a lost pristine print of BLUE SUNSHINE, and alongside Steven Morowitz and Filmcentrix, the film was given a 4K high-definition restoration and an accompanying screening tour. Now, Filmcentrix is giving horror fans the opportunity to own this update edition of BLUE SUNSHINE, and in doing so, may have created the top collector-friendly horror Blu-ray of 2016.

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  • Blu-ray Review Round-Up: “RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES”, “THE CRUSH”, more…

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    With Summer officially upon us, horror collectors have been choosing which valuable fright titles they should add onto their Blu-ray shelves. Alas, fright fans only have so much dough to go around, so picking and choosing what scare fare to stock up on can be a tough decision. Luckily, FANGORIA has the latest Blu-rays from specialty horror distributors, and in this review round-up, horrorheads can better decide which releases are best suited for their home media collection.

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