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Episode 306 - Happy Death Day (2017)

Is this the year for theatrical released horror or what? The new film, Happy Death Day, not only follows in the footsteps of Annabelle Creation, It, Split, and Get Out with great reviews, but it topped the box office its first week as well. Costing only $5M USD, it already has grossed over $36M USD. And again like its predecessors, it is loved by both critic and audiences alike.

Theresa Gelbman wakes up in the dorm room of Carter Davis, someone she would not ever be caught dead with. After escaping that circumstance, her day goes as normal until she is murdered while walking down a dark sidewalk heading to a frat party. But she wakes up and finds herself once more in Carter Davis’s dorm room. Now besides the fact that she had been murdered, she now is stuck in a time loop. Ultimately, she decides to try to find out who her murderer is hoping to break out of the loop.

Directed by prolific screenwriter Christopher Landon, this follow up to his films, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, has turned out to be a breakout not only for him but actress newcomer Jessica Rothe. Dark Discussions takes a look at this new film and determines whether it lives up to the hype.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 305 - Blade Runner (then and now)

When Blade Runner hit theaters back in 1982, it was the definition of polarizing. Poorly received by movie audiences and disliked by a large percentage of critics, the film floundered at the box office. Strange, one could say, since it starred Harrison Ford and was directed by Ridley Scott. Plus cyberpunk was in vogue. The film did get re-evaluated years later and has been released in numerous and very different cuts since.

Now in 2017, a follow up film entitled Blade Runner 2049 has been released. Unlike the original, it was an immediate critical success. But besides diehard fans, little interest has been shown, with many saying it was too long and in some ways too pretentious. Not surprisingly it too has failed at the box office.

Dark Discussions takes a look at this two film franchise. With their interesting take on what it is to be “human” and their incredible visuals, both movies are indeed important films in science fiction history. Whether they are great movies depends on the viewer, but either way, both are films that will continue to have much buzz around them for sometime.

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Episode 304 - Flatliners (then and now)

Back in the 1980’s, director Joel Schumacher was at the top of his game. With St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys, he had not only become a Hollywood talent, but he was able to bring movies to cinemas that identified with young people. Whether moviegoers knew it, they began to flock to his films. The arrival of 1990 his latest film, Flatliners, continued the trend. With its cast of bratpack or hip actors, the film was a hit. Starring Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts, the film immediately attracted the attention of critics and audiences alike.

A group of med students, led by the charismatic Nelson Wright, head to the basement of their university to try to find if the afterlife actually exists. One by one, the five begin to perform self induced deaths, or flatlining, before being revived after a few minutes. To there shock, indeed they see what is across the beyond. But unfortunately for each, something came back with them.

The movie was a big success and continued the run of the three main leads and the director. Now in 2017, a remake has been released directed by Niels Arden Oplev (behind The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and starring Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev. Dark Discussions takes a look at the original cult classic, its legacy, and the new adaption.

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Episode 303 - mother! (2017)

When Darren Aronofsky released the film Pi, not many people saw it until after his adaption of Hubert Selby’s novel Requiem for a Dream. Folks went back and checked this curious art house horror film and many were left trying to decipher it. His new film, mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence somewhat returns to that 19 year old film with its shocking scenes and figurative set pieces.

A young woman lives alone with her husband, a poet and writer, in a remote manor home. Generally peaceful and tranquil, her husband is a bit stressed as he tries to fight through writer’s block. One day, unexpectedly, a man knocks on the front door. He is a big fan of the poet. Having no where to go, the poet invites him to live with them to the shock of the young woman. A few days later there is another knock on the door leading to the end of the life the young woman had struggled for so long to create.

The movie has been getting tremendously varied opinions. Some, like the famous critic Rex Reed, says it is the worst film of the twenty-first century. Others say the film has a lot to say about the world we live in. Unfortunately with its larger budget and the hugely negative reaction from audiences, the movie has been a hiccup in the careers of both the director and his leading lady. Dark Discussions takes a peek at this controversial film and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 302 - It: Chapter 1 (2017)

With his first novel, Carrie, back in the early 1970’s, Stephen King was on his way to be the most successful horror writer of his generation. By the mid-1980’s, he became not just a best selling author, but also an icon. In 1986, his epic length coming-of-age novel It became an immediate best seller. In 1990, a TV mini-series was made giving life to what seemed to be an impossibly hard story to adapt to screen. Now in 2017, a new adaption focusing on the half of the book was released in September.

When a little boy disappears from the town of Derry, Maine, his older brother is convinced that he is still alive. As more people go missing, he and his group of friends, while fighting their own personal demons, are confronted by an ancient evil that has been terrorizing the town since its inception.

The movie had a rocky pre-production, with various screenwriters, actors, and directors leaving the production, but when the producers settled everything down and director Andy Muschietti took the helm, the movie remarkably turned out to not only be a fan favorite, but a critical darling. Dark Discussions takes a look at this somewhat surprising box office hit that has turned out to be one of the most successful horror films of all time.

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Episode 301 - David Sandberg Focus: 2017's Annabelle: Creation

The Conjuring and what has turned into a franchise has been quite successful. With its throwback supernatural horror scares seen in such films as The Changeling and The Entity, younger horror fans are able to see frightening movies that have the feel of these “forgotten classics.” The latest film of the franchise is Annabelle: Creation, the prequel to the highly successful but mixed reviewed Annabelle.

A doll maker and his wife lose their young daughter, Annabelle, in a tragic car accident. Many years later they invite a nun and the orphans under her care to live with them after the orphanage was closed. As all adjust to their new surroundings, various odd things happen. Is the house haunted?

Directed by Dave Sandberg, the Swedish director who helmed the highly successful Light’s Out, this prequel to Annabelle has received critical acclaim. With a cast of young actresses between 10 and 21 years old, high praise of the acting has been widespread. The budget was fairly tiny at about $15M USD, yet the movie has gone on to make almost $300M USD world wide. A huge success, your co-hosts take a look at the film while all together in person in the town of Lisbon, Connecticut.

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Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews Volume 006

Welcome to the latest edition of Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews – a podcast that reviews and critiques films released by boutique labels that have taken old and sometimes forgotten midnight movies and re-releases them in special editions where the quality of the picture is fully remastered, usually from onetime lost or privately owned negatives or prints.

This month I review four films and one television show. The movies include the 2002 French erotic thriller Secret Things directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau; the 1983 slasher film Double Exposure (released by Vinegar Syndrome); Tinto Brass’s 1991 classic erotic comedy, Paprika (released by Cult Epics); and the new Blue Underground release of the 1972 horror film Deathline (also known as Raw Meat). Lastly, the 12 episode Funimation blu-ray release of the recent anime Prison School is reviewed.

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Episode 267 - 2016 Year in Review

Another year passes and Dark Discussions podcast looks back at genre films of 2016. Five co-hosts, five individual lists, and one master definitive list of the best horror films of the year. We go through over 70 films and choose what we each thought were the best horror films released and then put together one final list removing any outliers. Obvious higher profile films like The Conjuring 2 or Blair Witch were considered but also critical darlings such as The Wailing and The Witch.

Also discussed were the best various subgenres of pulp films. We put together another definitive list of the best "other" genre films – those being science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and the rest. Again obvious titles like Star Wars Rogue One and The Arrival are discussed but also The Girl on the Train and Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla are considered too.

Lastly we have our choices of the highlights (and lows) of the year including best performances, breakout stars, and goats of the year. And we include lists from some of our listeners. Where do they stand compared to the movies that Dark Discussions think were essential to genre viewing for 2016?

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Episode 266 - 2017 Genre Preview

With January 2017 underway, it is time to visit what is coming this year to cinemas, video-on-demand platforms, as well as those genre films that are going straight to disc. Last year, horror seemed to dominate genre and there were a lot of great flicks. This year once again there seems to be a lot of great ones coming. Plus also more superhero flicks. Reboots and remakes and sequels are also arriving too.

Dark Discussions once again is back with their look forward to the new year and which films seem to interest them most. Some of the more high profile flicks spoken of include Kong: Skull Island, War of the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman, Alien Covenant, the latest Thor film, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. For straight horror, A Cure For Wellness is probably one of the more high profile flicks coming.

Some lower profile flicks talked about include Arbor Demon, The Dark Tapes, Personal Shopper, Dangerous People, Space Babes From Outer Space, Sky Sharks, and Safe Neighborhood. And then at the very end we list off other films and talk about some of the latest news about movies and genre cinema.

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Episode 259 - Patient Seven (The Critique)

Last week Dark Discussions interviewed director Danny Draven and actor Dan Lench of the movie Patient Seven. We learned a bit about the horror anthology and how the various shorts were award winning movies from the convention circuit. After being scooped up by the producers, a wraparound story was built around these films creating a cohesive movie.

A highly renowned doctor comes to a sanitarium to interview seven patients for a new book he is planning. Each patient is a very unique behavioral health case. As the psychiatrist's unconventional techniques become known, the orderlies become concerned and the patients become more enraged. Yet there may be a truth behind each patient's tale that not even a sanitarium can keep hidden.

Patient Seven encompasses seven award winning shorts with an eighth wraparound story that ties it all together. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, demons, and murder fill out the almost two hour runtime. With its great score, its dark tone, and each tales unique twists, the movie has been getting rave reviews and has been considered one of the best horror anthologies to come along in some time. Dark Discussions does their critique and review of this new film.

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Episode 258 - Patient Seven (The Interviews)

Horror anthologies seem to be films that horror fans either love or hate. Many can be disjointed, have too many tonal shifts, or simply aren't any good. But there has been a huge resurgence of them recently led by such films as The ABC's of Death and V/H/S. A new film entitled Patient Seven suddenly appeared on VOD services and quickly became one of the top horror movies rented and viewed on such places as iTunes.

With seven individual stories with an eighth story as the wraparound tale, the film is quite lengthy and yet flows pretty smoothly. The cast includes some fairly well known folks including Alfie Allen (of Game of Thrones), actress Amy Smart, and genre favorite Michael Ironsides.

Additionally, the movie has actor Dan Lench, a star of last year's science fiction film, Circle, playing a pivotal role that is completely different than anything he's played before. Along with Dan Lench, Dark Discussions interviews one of the directors, Danny Draven, who also edited and put together the upcoming disc release. Get ready for part one of our two part episode of Patient Seven. This episode focuses on the people that worked on the film.