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    “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES” (Movie Review)

    As a spin-off of sorts, and the latest entry in what’s currently the (possibly waning) horror franchise du jour, there are essentially three things that surprise in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES. Lamentably, none of them are its scare tactics. While undeniably more energetic in its approach—a godsend compared to the tedious fourth film—there still resides the spookhouse formula of a camcorder capturing a) an unforeseen jolt; b) something shadowy someone who wields it doesn’t see; or c) someone being aggressively tossed directly at it. And for what it’s worth, it works. The familiarity of the technique almost effortlessly creates a good time for a packed house.

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    “13/13/13” (DVD Review)

    Taking a break from MEGA THIS and GIANT THAT and focusing on a smaller story, The Asylum brought us 13/13/13, a film devoid of any creatures that instead tries its hand at suspense—and ultimately leaves one wishing for more shark tales.

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    “TOAD ROAD” (Movie Review)

    In TOAD ROAD, Hell is many things. One is a destination, of course. More than that however, it’s a goal. It’s also a time and a place in our lives where there’s nothing left (and nothing better) to do than self-destruct. Then, for what could be one of the most tragic characters in contemporary horror, it’s greater than just something fiery and frightening. It’s transcendental, a higher plane. And in TOAD ROAD, all of these possibilities converge, as do documentary and fiction, as do folklore and bored suburban youth, as do the misguided Sara, her poetic quest for otherworldliness, her shitty friends and all of the psychedelics they ingest.  It ends sunken and haunting, a unique and uniquely affecting modern tale of terror.

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    “HERE COMES THE DEVIL” (Movie Review)

    The ultimate terror for any, even half-decent, parent is the unthinkable—yet perfectly feasible—concept of losing their child. That primal fear is even more profound in a mother, she who miraculously grows this tiny person inside her and whose connection to her charge is one of the most powerful bonds known.

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    TV TERRORS Double Feature: “THE INITIATION OF SARAH” & “ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE?” (DVD Review)

    I don’t think it’s necessarily true that in order to fully appreciate the charms of the 1970’s TV horror movie, you had to in fact come of age during the 1970’s, but there’s no doubt it helps. This writer was birthed in 1974 and was exposed to such fare as far back as I’d had a memory. And of course, by the time I was completely cognoscente of pop culture in the dawn of the 1980’s, most of the vintage made-for-television terror shows would be re-run ad nauseum in both prime time and – even better – late, late at night or in the wee hours of the AM. They were everywhere and, although pedestrian when stacked up against their theatrical counterparts, there was a certain je ne sais quoi that gave them a kind of power.

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    “CRAVE” (Movie Review)

    Drive-in-style horror isn’t the only kind of cinema they don’t make like they used to back in the ’70s. Charles de Lauzirika’s psychological thriller CRAVE is the kind of tough, uncompromising character study that Hollywood used to turn out with regularity, and should be supported and treasured when it appears today.

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    “SATURN 3″ (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

    How peculiar a film is SATURN 3?  Its plot—a horny robot trying to kill its “competition” so it can have Farrah Fawcett all to itself—is one of the least puzzling things about it. You’ll spend far more time wondering why Fawcett is rolling around with a man twice her age (that would be Kirk Douglas), or why Harvey Keitel’s very recognizable voice has been dubbed over, or why all future movies have to have weirdo chess pieces when in reality we’ve been OK with the same basic designs for hundreds of years; or just what anyone was thinking when they greenlit this movie in the first place?

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    “THE LAST DAYS ON MARS” (Movie Review)

    At this point in the history of science fiction film, there’s ironically little territory left to cover in space. There’s always the option to set familiar premises or characters in the infinite abyss, but these films can feel derivative, and despite taking place on faraway planets, they often don’t feel extraterrestrial aside from the digitally enhanced environments. Being generic isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can feel uninspired rather than disappointing—which works in the favor of the rather bland THE LAST DAYS ON MARS.

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    Santa Showdown: “GREMLINS” VS. “RARE EXPORTS”

    Jingle the Bells! Hit the lights! In celebration of FANGORIA’s re-release of the remastered original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, we present to you SANTA SHOWDOWN, a battle between the more gruesome ghosts of Christmas Past. So sit down by the fire, enjoy some eggnog and pray neither of these Christmas killers make their way down your chimney…

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    “CHIMÈRES” (Movie Review)

    CHIMÈRES is an interesting take on vampirism—in terms of both the “monster’s” unique origin story and ensuing love affair. Director/co-writer Olivier Beguin’s first feature-length film will go down as one of this year’s surprises, as well as a potential redefinition of the genre. What Beguin has succeeded in doing is offering up the classic tropes of a vampire love story wrapped in a new, darkly heartfelt romance (with some gore to boot).

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    “INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS” (1978; Arrow Blu-ray Review)

    “Body Snatcher” movies might not have ever taken over like zombies or slashers, but it’s such a delightfully creepy concept that tends to pop up once a decade or so. Don Siegel, of course, got there first with his McCarthy-ism take in 1956; Abel Ferrara took a crack at it with his military-tinged 1993 effort BODY SNATCHERS; a crappy Hollywood blockbuster version hit screens in 2007; and just this year, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg did their own unofficial and particularly British version in THE WORLD’S END. Yet, as the years go on and the viewings pile up, it’s clear the best version iteration remains Philip Kaufman’s 1978 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Something about Kaufman’s uniquely paranoid take on the story, rooted in 70s Me-culture and stringy practical FX, tends to slide deeper under the skin than any other. It’s one of the most underrated films of that era, one of those rare genre flicks that not only hasn’t dated, but actually seems to improve with age. In other words, it’s the perfect flick to get the Arrow Blu-ray treatment.

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