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Night of the Creeps (1986)

Poster art for Night of the CreepsAs a kid and also a teenager, it was typical of me to “fall head over heals” over one of the female members of my peer group, whenever I had a peer group. If I didn’t have a group of friends, I’d fall for the prettiest, in my eyes anyway, girl who sat closest to me in class. Or one I saw most often in the cafeteria. I was an odd child, completely sold by television and Hollywood on the idea of love and all the great things it seemed to promise.

It wasn’t until I had my heart torn from my chest and stomped on (I’d like to add here that there was no real fault in the person who did the tearing–I blame stupid, cheesy movies for that), that I realized the realities of love and loss. Looking back, however, I did fall for some of the most interesting girls. My favourite was a young woman in high school who had a bright red mohawk and wore knee-high Doc Martins. She kicked serious ass and took no shit.

I digress. This post isn’t supposed to be about my stupid, pathetic childhood. No, this is about Night of the Creeps from 1986. This one was written and directed by Fred Dekker, and stars Tom Atkins (who is awesomely funny in parts of this), Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, and Jill Witlow. And, if you watch this one closely, you can see just how pathetic I probably was as a teen.

The story involves two college friends, Chris and J. C., as they try to make friends and, more importantly, get laid. After a brief black and white prologue, which is pretty cool in its fifties popcorn horror movie style, the story opens like an eighties party movie as Chris and JC are at a frat party, where they don’t belong, and Chris falls in love when he sees the very pretty Cynthia from a distance.

JC and Chris

JC and Chris

He is hypnotized by her beauty. And during the course of the next hour he does nothing but lament his desire for her to dump her asshole boyfriend and be with him.

Oh, and there are alien brain parasites that crawl around the campus throughout the movie. They look and behave like slugs might on meth. Every once in a while, one of these slugs will force its way down the throat of an unsuspecting college kid. As it is a brain parasite, it kills its victim and then controls their body. The “zombie” like creatures then stumble around until the time is right and their heads explode, unleashing a new batch of alien brain parasites into the world.

What this movie has working for it is the comedy. Night of the Creeps does not take itself seriously, and so the audience probably shouldn’t either. The gore is top notch when those Picture of head explodingheads pop open, and Tom Atkins, who plays an alcoholic cop investigating a murder (his main suspects are Chris and JC, of course), has moments that made me laugh pretty hard.

Overall, I found myself checking my cellphone a lot on this one. Maybe that’s because I’d cringe every time Chris moaned over Cynthia. There is one part where JC tells Chris off and puts him in his place. I had to say bravo, JC. Bravo! My inner child wept pathetically, but adult me was proud.

3 out of 4 Dweller Heads.

chud-dweller3

Found (2012)

By Michael Schutz-Ryan.

Poster art for the movie FoundFound is a 2012 horror film directed by Scott Schirmer and co-written by Schirmer and Todd Rigney (based on his novel). I was deeply affected by this film and just may be ruined from ever enjoying another movie.

The plot of the film is deliciously simple: a young boy discovers that his older brother is a serial killer and must then battle his inner demons to determine if he is headed down that same path. It is beautifully shot with vibrant colors and clever camera angles to reflect a twelve-year-old’s imagination.

Found is, first and foremost, a study of our protagonist. Twelve-year-old Marty (delicately, intelligently played by young Gavin Brown) is a sensitive, nearly friendless boy, obsessed with horror movies. Actual time and care is spent developing his character. I usually despise voiceovers, but Marty’s intimate conversations with the audience suck us right into his stream of consciousness. Though I haven’t read it, I suspect the novel is the major influence in these lines. The effect is that the audience becomes Marty’s only true friend.

Gas mask from FoundAs we are now allied with Marty, the subplot of bullying nails the frustration and cloying loneliness of being the outcast. When Marty’s only on-screen friend forsakes him, we feel the heartbreak. The rationalization of the betrayal is as stark as reality. All the elements click in this scene where Marty takes a slight cue from his brother and dishes out a bit of revenge. And here—just as later when he unleashes on bully Trevor—we rejoice in Marty’s cruelty.

An entire paper could be written on the Headless video Marty finds in brother Steve’s room and watches with his friend. (This movie-within-a-movie was later expanded into its own film by Arthur Cullipher, Todd Rigney, and Shane Beasley, who all worked on Foundhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns2U6gXbMFU) This slasher movie is an exercise in envelope-pushing depravity. Not only has it clearly inspired Steve’s murders, but we are strongly led to believe (I think) that it is the video-taped trophy of an actual killer. As sick and twisted as Headless is (and it really is), the genius of it lies in its filming. Scott Schirmer could have called for Gaspar Noé-style ultra realism, but instead went in a direction of slightly more fantastic imagery—which matches the very texture of our movie. Don’t get me wrong, the level of brutality is stunning and doesn’t exactly look fake, but such things as jump cuts and obvious editing clue us into the direction that it is perhaps indie horror gone mad.

The major theme in Found is burgeoning sadism. Marty’s young mind clearly roils in confusion: he’s teased and beat up at school—should he fight back? Is his love of horror movies an early indication that he will end up a killer like his brother? The only thing he never debates is whether to expose his brother. In Marty’s world, that is unthinkable. But is it to protect his idolized sibling, or to disguise his curiosity? And this all begs the question, does “found” refer to Marty finding the heads in the bag, or finding himself?

Found blew me away. This film resonated with me unlike any other I have seen. Perhaps that is because it connected with my personal experiences with surprising precision. In many ways I was Marty. I, too, grew up as the shy, sensitive, picked-on kid, also obsessed with horror movies I was way too young to be watching. And the Indiana landscape of this movie was an easy substitute for my own small-town Wisconsin home. Or perhaps it is because this is a genius film, presenting an unfiltered, unapologetic view of a young boy facing very adult situations. With a button ending that perfectly caps this empathetic thrill ride. I cannot recommend this film enough.

Mask from Headless

EPISODE 29: Guest Greg F. Gifune

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EPISODE 29

Photo of Greg F. Gifune

Greg F. Gifune

Welcome to Episode 29! This week the great Greg F. Gifune joins your host to discuss books, DarkFuse, writing, developing believable characters, how to create atmosphere in your stories, and his new book, Orphans of Wonderland.

A Look at the Alien Quadrology

By Michael Schutz-Ryan

Awesome art on a xenomorph

Last weekend, I watched the Alien Quadrilogy. I am a huge fan of these movies (and even loved Prometheus when it came out), but taking them all together reveals a downward spiral: each film is a little worse than the one before it. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy (almost) every minute of my day with the Xenomorphs. Extremely talented people worked on each of the movies, from Ridley Scott and James Cameron who directed the first two, to David Fincher helming Alien 3 and Joss Whedon who wrote the script for Alien: Resurrection. However, I couldn’t help but notice that each consecutive film had a little worse dialog, a little less production value, and a general cheapening of the Alien experience. Read the rest of this page »

EPISODE 28: Guest Jeffery X. Martin

Please click below to listen:

EPISODE 28: Guest Jeffery X. Martin.

Picture of guest Jeffery X. MartinWelcome to Darkness Dwells, Episode 28. This week, I welcome guest writer and podcaster Jeffery X. Martin to the show where we talk everything from short writing short stories vs. novels, devil movies, and terrible snow storms.

There’s also an announcement regarding my novel and it’s release date.

Also, there’s the news, and a cool tune.

Song is Witchcraft Today by Electric Wizard from their album Witchcraft Today, available on iTunes and Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, you can check out my work there by following the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Jason-White/e/B006N1JHCM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_16?qid=1426047084&sr=8-16

Visit Jeffery X. Martin online:

Twitter: @JefferyXMartin

Kiss the Goat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kissthegoat/

See ya next week!

Kiss the Goat logo

Lords of Twilight by Greg F. Gifune

Cover for Lords of Twilight by Greg F. GifuneLords of Twilight, by Greg F. Gifune, is a difficult book for me to review. So, when things get difficult, some say to start at the beginning. And this beginning has an interesting concept.

Lane Boyce is newly divorced and a former high school teacher who finds himself in a small town in order to get things right with his head. Without giving away too much of the plot or backstory, Lane has suffered some serious accusations in his recent past that led him to where he is: alone, isolated, left behind by the one he loves the most. Perhaps this is rightfully so, perhaps not, but the point is that he needs this time away from everyone to figure out what happened and, with any luck, to heal fresh wounds that refuse to stop bleeding.

The small town he moved to, however, has a problematic recent history of its own. Strange lights are seen in the sky. There’s mutilated livestock and a local farmer is found dead up on a snowy hill with no tracks leading him there. It’s as though he fell from the sky.

As a master of suspense and character development, Greg Gifune does not disappoint. Lane’s journey goes from curious to the weird and surreal pretty quickly. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Lane and why he is in this cabin in the first place. We also learn more about the strange occurrences happening in the town surrounding him.

My biggest complaint about this one is that it felt like it could have been longer. The ending felt a little rushed, in my opinion. This could be simply me wanting more out of a story, but I don’t think so. I really do feel that the mechanics behind the story, Lane’s past corresponding with the strangeness that comes out of the woods in his backyard, could have been explored with much more detail.

What we do have, however, is an exciting glimpse into something tragic and gut wrenching. Not at all a bad thing, really. But I’m not sure this would make for a great first read to anyone new to Gifune’s awesome canon of literature.

It is well worth the read, though. I give it my recommendation unless you’re new to Gifune’s work. If that is the case, then I suggest trying out The Bleeding Season, The Rain Dancers, and/or House of Rain first. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Keep your eyes and ears on Darkness Dwells for more from Greg F. Gifune, coming soon!

Photo of Greg F. Gifune

Greg F. Gifune

EPISODE 27: Carrie 2013

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EPISODE 27: Carrie 2013.

Capture from Carrie 2013 remake

This week your host, Jason White, and co-host, Michael Schutz-Ryan, discuss the 2013 remake of the Stephen King classic, Carrie. Michael didn’t like the film while Jason did. Tune in to find out why.

Also, there is the horror news which involves some Penny Dreadful and horror literature releases.

Darkness Dwells Welcomes Michael Schutz-Ryan

A picture of Michael Schutz-RyanAnyone listening to the Darkness Dwells podcast should know by now that I’ve taken on a co-host. His name is Michael Schutz-Ryan, and he is the writer of the novel Blood Vengeance. I chose Michael because of a few different conversations we had about horror movies, especially the day he messaged me over Facebook to see if I had seen the movie Tusk or not. I have seen it, so we discussed what we both felt were strengths and weaknesses of the movie, which somehow led to our discussing a mutual love for Rob Zombie films.

As he’s been on the show before, I knew we could talk without any real barriers. In short, we get along just smashing!

My plans for the blog, however, do not end with Michael, though. I want to grow the Darkness Dwells blog into a small network of writers where we review horror movies and books and, more importantly, become a massive news source for horror literature, including reviews, release dates on novels, interviews, and whatever else our imaginations can conjure. This will create a need for a website makeover sometime in the future, but hey, this blog is now a year old. It took me this long to find Michael, so let’s take it one step at a time. Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

As for the podcast, I think Michael and I will do just fine as we discuss the macabre on the big screen of moving pictures.

What it comes down to is that I’ve had big plans for the blog, which includes the podcast, from day one. I want to share my love of horror literature and movies with the world. I also would like to create a place online where people can go to get the latest on horror literature news.

This will probably take some time, so if you’re getting excited I suggest you have a beverage and take a deep breath. Patience will be of virtue here.

So, please welcome Michael aboard as the first team member of Darkness Dwells. He’s an awesome writer and a great dude to talk with. And thanks,
Michael, for your enthusiasm and input. It will be fun, I’m sure.

Cover for Blood Vengeance

Blood Vengeance by Michael Schutz-Ryan

EPISODE 26: Guest Author Keith Deininger

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EPISODE 26: Guest Keith Deininger.

Picture of Keith Deininger This week your host, Jason White, is joined by author Keith Deininger. We talk about his books, his past and future and have a great time doing so. It’s so much fun, in fact, we lost track of time and so this episode is juicy and even more awesome than usual.

All songs can be found on iTunes or Amazon.com or any respectable record store.

Somewhat Damaged by Nine Inch Nails
The Wretched by Nine Inch Nails

You can find Keith online:

http://www.keithdeininger.com

Contact the show:

www.darknessdwells.com

Twitter: @DarkDweller74
email: darknessdwells74@gmail.com
Voice Mail: 206 600 4257

Thanks for listening! Catch you next week!

Tourist Trap (1979)

Poster art for Tourist TrapHow does one go about describing a movie like Tourist Trap, never mind reviewing it? This movie is like another example of David Lynch chewing on some peyote and then waxing poetic about slasher films (see what I did there, with waxing?). Now, I’ve seen my fair share of fucked up movies, I do love horror movies after all, the stranger the better, but 1979’s Tourist Trap takes the cake.

Or, at least, it comes comes close.

Tourist Trap is directed by David Schmoeller. You might recognize the name from movies such as Puppetmaster, Netherworld, and Crawlspace. While those movies have their place in horror cinema history, again, Tourist Trap takes the cake.

Read the rest of this page »