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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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    “RABID” (UK Blu-Ray Review)

    Though the pervading cultural politeness would suggest otherwise, David Cronenberg could only have emerged from the chilly confines of Canada. Particularly in his early movies, shot in the winter when Canadian tax shelter film financing was available, even the frigid setting of Cronenberg’s twisted little nightmares feel foreboding. His work makes you uncomfortable long before any of the graphic gore and perverse conceptualizations appear, and though things seem normal, even mundane, you can’t help but squirm knowing that something horrible is coming from a director willing to shove you into the nastiest place possible at the most meaningful time.

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    “NEW YEAR’S EVIL” (Blu-ray Review)

    As our more season horror fans know, in the early years of the slasher film, there was not much of an urge on part of filmmakers to give their killers any sense of personality. And for the few that did, they often didn’t reveal themselves until later in the movie, with little indication that they were the killer or a rushed backstory following a “whodunit” set-up. Yet, despite being criticized by slasher purists, NEW YEAR’S EVIL attempts at doing just that, dueling narratives between a killer and his victim before coalescing into an engaging third act that brings the two face-to-face.

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    “DIGGING UP THE MARROW” (Film Review)

    To the horror community, Adam Green is a lot of things. To some, Green is a filmmaker, one who has found success and proven his versatility in a variety of horror subgenres. To others, Green is a personality among the genre, one whose enthusiasm for horror rivals that of his biggest fans and has parlayed said passion into a podcast, a sitcom and many convention appearances. But in his latest film, DIGGING UP THE MARROW, Green presents himself in a new light, offering a version of himself as both a documentarian and an amateur monster hunter at the risk of his own career. And while one might be able to criticize Green’s ability to carry a film as a leading man, even as himself, the monster hunting aspect isn’t even the most unbelievable aspect of MARROW; that would be Green’s portrayal of himself as professionally self-destructive, especially at the cost of his own passion project.

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