TV Review: The Exorcist

The-Exorcist-FOX-TV-seriesCreator Jeremy Slater took on a behemoth by attempting to adapt the acclaimed horror film “The Exorcist” for the small, non-premium channel screen. The presentation keeps true to the inspiration of William Peter Blattey’s 1971 book, setting the story forty years after the movie’s events and moving the action to a crime-ridden Chicago.

Everyone seemed to love Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera). The parishioners at his church, although not wealthy, enjoyed his services. Higher church officials pointed to his charisma as a vehicle for his advancement within the faith. Indeed, all seemed to go well for the young man, yet he felt directionless and questioned his decisions. Worse, recurring nightmares placed him in a Mexican home with an unfamiliar Roman Catholic Priest who performed a tragic exorcism. One afternoon, parishioner Angela Rance (Geena Davis) begged Father Tomas for help with her daughter. Although she assured him of her sanity, she feared the girl was possessed by a demon.

“Every Soul is a battlefield.” So claims the series’ promotional tagline. However, demonic possession is just the beginning of the plot devices employed in “The Exorcist, the Series.” Combining elements of the original movie, aspects of “Rosemary’s Baby,” and a bit of a buddy-cop-type dynamic, the series presents interesting FX, good acting, and tense, dark cinematography in its ten episodes. Twists keep the plot from too much predictability as the narrative explores human fallibility and demonic incomprehension of love.

Through helping the Rance Family, including its brain-injured patriarch Henry (Alan Ruck) and daughters Casey (Hannah Kasulka) and convalescing ballerina Kat (Brianne Howey), Father Tomas encounters and works with the priest from his dream, the fierce exorcist-on-leave Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels). Father Marcus plays loose with the papal rules, which earns him a talking to by Father Bennet (Kurt Egyiawan), who is also a true bad butt and champion of the papacy, and an ex-communication.

The Fathers discover subversion and plots within the church and “stand in the doorway” to push back the oncoming darkness not only for the Rance family, but also for greater Chicago and the world. Occult scholars, a cloister of nuns, and a surprise visit from a believed-dead grandmother provide assistance, and the Rance family realizes to face subversion and evil, they needed to help each other.

The series is nominated for awards by ihorror, Fanforia, ASCA, and People’s Choice. At this date, Fox has not signed for a second season. However, in an interview with Dominic Patten from Deadline.com, the series creator Jeremy Slater explained, “…we’ve created a big and exciting world with a mythology that we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of…”

The 45th’s Terrifying Tomorrow: All of the Flesh Served

All of the Flesh ServedHow does a Horror/Dark Fantasy writer deal with the anxiety from our current political climate? He writes about it.

Terry M. West’s All of the Flesh Served is a novella due out on May 5th. The description:

Hundreds of years after the great cataclysm, the Ministry of the 45th survive in a network of scientific bunkers. The last bastion of the old holy order, the 45th are bent on rebuilding the scorched earth and eliminating God’s enemies. The Ministry wages a war against the mutant topsiders that occupy the dead states of the Soviet Union of America. Defending the 45th are the Red Guard, genetically engineered soldiers who are programmed to obey through their lifebrand. Dr. Morgan is a serviceman for Unit 468 of the Red Guard. His lifebrand being medicine, Dr. Morgan is the longest surviving field medic to serve. But Dr. Morgan is a deeply conflicted man with violent fantasies that contradict his pledge to preserve life. After escaping an abduction by the topsiders, Dr. Morgan’s faith is cracked. During a furlough in the high Chancellor’s bunker, Dr. Morgan is hailed a hero and taken off the front lines. But he soon realizes that someone has altered his lifebrand and lifted the veil that concealed the greatest deception ever perpetrated. Dr. Morgan has just become the most dangerous man in the wastelands. And when he discovers who the real enemy is, the revelation unleashes a fury strong enough to destroy what is left of the earth.

Expanded from a post-apocalyptic short story Terry wrote two years ago, he decided to center the novella on a possible dark future caused by the political actions currently in motion. “An all out attack on humanity, endangered species, the planet itself, and democracy. You know, that pesky little thing many, many Americans have died to protect,” Terry elaborates.

“The story begins with a quote from Voltaire,” Terry said. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. And there lies the center premise of the story. This isn’t a satire. I have been wracked with fear and anger, and rather than unleashing it on people who disagree with me, I decided to work it out in this story. And this isn’t a one-sided attack. I have tried to give a feasible motivation to the Ministry of the 45th. There is a message to this story. I honestly feel this is the most important tale I have ever created. I hope more artists express themselves during this insanity.”

All of the Flesh Served can be pre-ordered here for only $0.99: https://www.amazon.com/All-Flesh-Served-Terry-West-ebook/dp/B06X17JQ1Z/

West is asking people to support the project through a Thunderclap promotion:

Fundraising for “A Place Among the Undead”

place among the undead

Actress Juliet Landau (Drusilla of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”) started a project with real teeth. Her Indiegogo campaign aims to make film history by producing a definitive vampire docu-series featuring narrative films directed and produced by Landau.

Landau ‘s project has garnered some superb celebrity attention and backing. Joss Whedon and Tim Burton both directed the actress in past projects, and they throw their support toward the exploration of the undead. Authors Anne Rice (“Interview With a Vampire” series) and Charlaine Harris (“The Southern Vampire” series which inspired “True Blood”) lend their expertise along with actors Gary Oldman (“Dracula”), William Defoe (“Shadow of the Vampire”), Ron Perlman (“Blade II” and “Cronos”), Nathan Fillion (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dracula 2000”), Lance Henrikson (“Near Dark”) and director David Slade (“Twilight Saga: Eclipse” and “30 Days of Night”).

The series hopes to explore mankind’s underlying need for vampires and how they metaphorically represent aspects of ourselves. Themes such as loss, death, violence, addiction, sex, obsession, ostracism, and the dark side of man’s natures will be examined during the six proposed episodes.

Originally, Landau hoped “A Place Among the Undead” would produce a feature film, but enthusiasm for the project caused her to expand it to its current planned six-part anthological docu-series. Thus far, the Indiegogo campaign (http://igg.me/attheundead) has raised $165,741 USD to date, but every project could use an influx of fresh blood. Intriguing premiums from t-shirts, original art by Kyle Shold, and voice messages by Ms. Landau herself are available for modest to extravagant contributions.

Follow https://twitter.com/julietlandau or www.facebook.com/Juliet-Landau-official for more information and updates on “A Place Among the Undead.”

 

TV Review: Santa Clarita Diet Season One

santa clarita dietSuburbanite Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) finds herself confused. A recent upset stomach culminated in a lot of vomit when she and her likewise realtor husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant) showed a house to an interested couple. In fact, Sheila may have vomited up an organ. Before this remarkable illness, Sheila and Joel Hammond, though very much in love, found their lives had fallen into a bit of a rut, After her seeming brush with death, though, Sheila’s outlook changes. Although she no longer possesses a discernible heartbeat, she finds her energy doubled and her passion for life exuberant. Her previously type A personality yielded to an unexpected indulgence of Id. However, she must make some changes to her diet.

As with many television series, the first episode drags a bit while setting up the mythology. However, as the characters embrace their altered existences and tackle the problems inherent with Sheila’s newly undead state while maintaining a semblance of normalcy, the action picks up. Their teenaged daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) acts out in reaction to the changes in her homelife, and the aid of Libby’s intelligent and charming classmate and neighbor, Eric Bemis (Skylar Gisondo) helps the Hammond family make sense of their situation.

The mythology toys with zombie culture, but instead of resulting in a mindless eating machine, Sheila and the undead in “The Santa Clarita Diet” maintain their intellects. Becoming an animated corpse frees their libidos. They pursue dreams. Much like the DC Comic turned CW television series iZombie, wherein lead character Liv Moore (Rose McGowan) claims a zeal for life previously denied while still alive, Sheila maintains something of a moral compass, choosing her victims when not overtaken by a blinding desire to eat human flesh. She cares for her family and worries over her realty business.

Although often profane, the series merges wit and quirky characters in improbable circumstances. Victor Fresco wrote the ten episode first season of the American paranormal comedy for Netflix. Although Netflix has not announced a second season, the first season ended with a cliffhanger.

Birthday of the Zombie Master!

romero

Born in the Bronx, New York, on 4 February, 1940, George A. Romero began his film-making career with his 8mm at the age of 14. He studied at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University and filmed a tonsillectomy segment for “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” before founding “Image Ten Productions” with nine of his friends. His most famous film, the black-and-white “Night of the Living Dead” ripped onto the American social conscience in 1968, changing the definition of zombie forever. (Hitherto, Hollywood presented zombies as people under the thrall of a powerful sorcerer. Romero’s zombies hungered for brains.)

This writer, director, editor, cinematographer, and actor has been involved in over twenty film projects, including “Dead” sequels, “Martin,” and “Knight Rider.” He collaborated with Stephen King on 1982’s “Creepshow,” 1988’s “Monkey Shines,” and “1993’s “The Dark Half,” and his flair for the macabre proved an invaluable asset on the set of television’s “Tales from the Darkside” from the mid 1980’s. He’s even acted. For example, he served as one of Hannibal Lecter’s jailers in “The Silence of the Lambs.” He authored and co-authored several books, spearheaded DC Comic’s “Toe Tags” and Marvel’s “Empire of the Dead,” and stars as himself in video games.

His works often contain a frequent metaphoric commentary including consumerism and the collapse of the family unit. This sneaky social conscience and skill in film making is acknowledged in the influence other filmmakers such as Tarantino and his friend fx masterTom Savini report. He was awarded the “Mastermind” award by Spike TV in 2009.

To celebrate his birthday, @Syfy is streaming 12 hours of #livingdeadmarathon on Facebook live.

 

House: Two Stories & Miike’s Dead or Alive Trilogy Blu-Rays Coming in March!

AV_DeadlyBlessing_DVD.inddMVD Entertainment Group furthers the distribution of Arrow Video in the US with two amazing releases tailor made for cult and horror fans.
 
First out is Takashi Miike‘s classic Dead or Alive Trilogy starring Riki Takeuchi and Show Aikawa as their various characters deal drugs in Tokyo, put their yakuza assassin skills to good use and even meet cyborg soldiers in future Yokohama. Each film deftly shows off Miike at the height of his skills, and weaves a captivating tapestry of crime, action and character study.
 
Next up is a franchise any horror fan around in the late 80s and early 90s will recognise: House: Two Stories Limited Edition [House 1 & 2] which has a gorgeous 2K restoration of the first two films. With each film telling a different tale, and getting increasingly bonkers as the series goes on, the House films are equal parts funny, scary and entertaining. As much a joy for fans of weird cinema as they are for horror lovers.
Earlier in March, Arrow splits up the Death Walks Twice box set and offers Death Walks On High Heels and Death Walks At Midnight both on DVD and Blu-ray. These two films by Luciano Ercoli are beautifully restored Italian horror classics, with plenty of bonus features.
 
 
TAKASHI MIIKE’S DEAD OF ALIVE TRILOGY on DVD and Blu-ray (March 14)
 
Beginning with an explosive, six-minute montage of sex, drugs and violence, and ending with a phallus-headed battle robot taking flight, Takashi Miike’s unforgettable Dead or Alive Trilogy features many of the director’s most outrageous moments set alongside some of his most dramatically moving scenes. Made between 1999 and 2002, the Dead or Alive films cemented Miike’s reputation overseas as one of the most provocative enfants terrible of Japanese cinema, yet also one of its most talented and innovative filmmakers.
 
In Dead or Alive, tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them. 
 
Dead or Alive 2: Birds casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause.
And in Dead or Alive: Final, Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy.
 
Each of them unique in theme and tone, the Dead or Alive films showcase Miike at the peak of his strengths, creating three very distinct movies connected only by their two popular main actors, each film a separate yet superb example of crime drama, character study, and action film making.

Bonus Materials

– High Definition digital transfers of all three films
– Original stereo audio
– Optional English subtitles for all three films
– New interview with actor Riki Takeuchi
– New interview with actor Sho Aikawa
– New interview with producer and screenwriter Toshiki Kimura
– New audio commentary for Dead or Alive by Miike biographer Tom Mes
– Archive interviews with cast and crew
– Archive making-of featurettes for DOA2: Birds and DOA: Final
– Original theatrical trailers for all three films
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Orlando Arocena

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger
 
BLU-RAY Specs

SKU: AV083
UPC: 760137975281
Street Date: 03/14/17
PreBook Date: 02/07/17
Label: Arrow Video »
Genre: Action/Adventure
Run Time: 291 mins
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: STEREO
Year of Production: 1999
Director: Takashi Miike
Actors: Riki Takeuchi, Sho Aikawa
Territory: US
Language: Japanese
SRP: $49.95
DVD Specs

SKU: AVD005
UPC: 760137975397
Street Date: 03/14/17
PreBook Date: 02/07/17
Label: Arrow Video »
Genre: Action/Adventure
Run Time: 291 mins
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: STEREO
Year of Production: 1999
Director: Takashi Miike
Actors: Riki Takeuchi, Sho Aikawa
Territory: US
Language: Japanese
SRP: $39.95
Pre-order at the MVD SHOP or on Amazon
AV084-HouseHOUSE: TWO STORIES LIMITED EDITION [HOUSE 1 & 2] on Blu-ray (March 21)
Limited to 5000 units!

Step inside, we’ve been expecting you! At long-last, Arrow Video is proud to present the first two instalments of hit horror franchise House on Blu-ray for the first time! In the original House, William Katt (Carrie) stars as Roger Cobb, a horror novelist struggling to pen his next bestseller. When he inherits his aunt’s creaky old mansion, Roger decides that he’s found the ideal place in which to get some writing done. Unfortunately, the house’s monstrous supernatural residents have other ideas…
Meanwhile, House II: The Second Story sees young Jesse (Arye Gross) moving into an old family mansion where his parents were mysteriously murdered years before. Plans for turning the place into a party pad are soon thwarted by the appearance of Jesse’s mummified great-great-grandfather, his mystical crystal skull and the zombie cowboy who’ll stop at nothing to lay his hands on it!
From the team that brought you Friday the 13th, House and House II are era-defining horror classics – now newly restored and loaded with brand new extras!

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

– Brand new 2K restorations of House and House II: The Second Story
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– “The House Companion” limited edition 60-page book featuring new writing on the entire – – House franchise by researcher Simon Barber, alongside a wealth of archive material
HOUSE
– Audio commentary with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William – Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley
Ding Dong, You’re Dead! The Making of House – brand new documentary featuring interviews with Steve Miner, Sean S. Cunningham, Ethan Wiley, story creator Fred Dekker, stars William Katt, Kay Lenz, and George Wendt, composer Harry Manfredini, special make-up and creature effects artists Barney Burman, Brian Wade, James Belohovek, Shannon Shea, Kirk Thatcher, and Bill Sturgeon, special paintings artists Richard Hescox and William Stout, and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder
– Stills Gallery
– Theatrical Trailers
HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY
– Audio commentary with writer-director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham
It’s Getting Weirder! The Making of House II: The Second Story – Brand new documentary featuring interviews with Ethan Wiley, Sean S. Cunningham, stars Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Lar Park Lincoln, and Devin DeVasquez, composer Harry Manfredini, special make-up and creature effects artists Chris Walas, Mike Smithson, visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman, and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder
– Stills Gallery
– Theatrical Trailer
BLU-RAY Specs

SKU: AV084
UPC: 760137976486
Street Date: 03/21/17
PreBook Date: 02/14/17
Label: Arrow Video »
Genre: Cult
Run Time: 93 mins
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: STEREO
Year of Production: 1986
Director: Steve Miner, Ethan Wiley
Actors: William Katt, George Wendt, Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark
Territory: US
Language: English
SRP: $59.95
Pre-order at the MVD SHOP or on Amazon