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Episode 154 - I Saw the Devil (2014)

Written by the acclaimed director of New World, Hoon-jung Park, and directed by director Jee-woon Kim, who Quentin Tarantino considers one of today's best talents, I Saw the Devil widely available in the United States in 2011 blew almost everyone away who likes genre films. Violent and very extreme, the film was surprisingly praised by critics since the film crossed away from its grindhouse roots to the art house.

Soo-hyun, an agent for the National Intelligence Service, gets a call from his fiancé that her car has broken down. While waiting in the snow, she is attacked and murdered by Kyung-chul (played by Oldboy's Min-sik Choi), an active rapist and serial killer. When Soo-hyun tracks him down, rather than bringing him to justice, he decides to work outside the law and turn Kyung-chul's life into a living hell.

Part thriller and part horror, the film ultimately is about revenge. And not just how vicious it can be but also how unrewarding and primitive it always turns out. Rated as one of the best genre films of this decade, I Saw the Devil is a bizarre unorthodox ride that is most certainly rewarding to fans of horror and thriller movies. Dark Discussions put this on a poll for the listeners as a potential episode and unsurprisingly it was one of your favorites. Though the title is somewhat misleading, the film is most certainly one hell of a ride.

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Episode 153 - As Above, So Below (2014)

It seems like never before that cinéma vérité is a format used in many horror and genre films over this past year. One could probably lose count. John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle are no stranger to the median. Two of their prior films, the unreleased Poughkeepsie Tapes and the English language remake of Rec entitled Quarantine, show they have a good footing into the subgenre. Now in 2014, they have made a new film, As Above So Below, getting wide release throughout many nations.

The film is about a young scholar named Scarlett who decides to continue and pursue the work of her father in the search of the notorious Philosopher's Stone. Her research brings her to Paris, France and the history surrounding a 14th century Parisian scientist named Nicolas Flamel. After working with another scholar who she once had a relationship with, the two along with their documentarian, hire a group of local guides that will bring them through the Catacombs of Paris below the city streets searching the necropolis to six million people in hopes of finding the mysterious and valuable artifact.

Your hosts discuss this new widely released film and whether the fantastic concept of adventure seekers exploring one of the most surreal monuments to a city's forefathers holds up to the spook factor. Included is a discussion of the success of the Dowdle brothers, this movie in comparison to other found footage films, and what determines whether a film will get a theatrical run or simply be released straight to disc or video on demand.

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Episode 152 - Robin Williams Tribute: Christopher Nolan's Insomnia

Welcome to episode 152 of Dark Discussions, our second roundtable of genre film starring Robin Williams. A celebration of the multi-talented legend and his ability to play so many various and different roles. Insomnia, an English language remake of a Norwegian film starring Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, was the film that brought director Christopher Nolan to superstardom and prominence.

Los Angeles police detective Will Dormer and his partner head off to Nightmute, Alaska to help in a case of the murder of a seventeen year old girl. Arriving as both a renowned person within his field but also as an officer being investigated for wrong doing, Dormer immediately suspects that the usual suspects are highly unlikely to have committed the brutal crime. When a stakeout goes awry, there's a new person of interest. Is a serial killer on the loose? And is the psychological cat-and-mouse between Dormer and the new suspect just the beginning down a path to amoral deeds?

With its incredible cast of Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank, and the fantastic direction by Christopher Nolan, Insomnia was a splendid surprise in the filmographies of its two leading men. Dark, gloomy, and using its locations superbly, the film is a character study of one man's descent into humiliation and dishonor while bringing out the very best of mysteries, thrillers, and police procedurals in modern film.

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Episode 151 - Robin Williams Tribute: One Hour Photo

Robin Williams passing was a heartrending tragedy that sent ripples not just through Hollywood but also throughout the world. The ever talented comedian and actor gave the world wonderful performances in so many fabulous films. Dark Discussions co-host Eric Webster, who has been championing the film One Hour Photo since the very beginning of this podcast, suggested that we focus an episode on Robin Williams and his work in genre films. Our way to pay tribute to a great talent.

In this episode, we discuss the film One Hour Photo. Sy the photo guy who runs the photo lab at the local box store seems like your ever gracious technician. He's friendly, a strong believer in customer service, and knows that he is there to serve you. However, there is an odd air about him that makes him seem just a bit off. Is he just a quirky and kind individual or is it something else?

Starring Robin Williams and Connie Nielsen, the film is both a character study and a thriller. It follows the life of a quiet and yet sad individual who may be harboring dark secrets about himself that may just be bubbling on the surface of his psyche. But it also tears down the illusion of the white picket fence existence of "anywhere" suburbia, even going as far as being ambiguous on where the story takes place. This episode focuses on one of our generations greatest talents and is part one of our two part tribute to Robin Williams.

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Episode 150B - David Fincher Focus: 1995's Seven

In 1993, a first time director named David Fincher was brought on to direct the third Alien film of that fabled franchise. Though the script had been rewritten numerous times, Fincher's debut film, Alien 3, has become a cult classic and been re-evaluated as a great sci-fi thriller. Whether the director to this day still has some issues with it, the film brought him to international attention and from there on, he has been considered one of our modern masters.

His second film Seven (Se7en) is considered one of the best horror thrillers of the last 25 years. The film includes Brad Pitt in a role that would make him a star, Morgan Freeman in a role that would turn him into a leading man, and also Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey in early and unforgettable career roles. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, the screenplay is about retiring and glum Detective Somerset who is dragged into investigating a new set of murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins. He is teamed up with the young and ambitious Detective David Mills who is gung-ho, but maybe just a little too much.

Just as we have on every 50th episode, Dark Discussions chooses a classic and decides to discuss what the film is all about. Seven is one of those movies that really digs deep into both the human mind and people's motives. Everything from what defines evil to the way society builds and forms itself, Seven takes a look at the dark side of human life and asks many questions on what motivates us all. Get ready to listen to our second part of our 150th episode on one of the best films in genre cinema.

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Episode 150A - Bits, Pieces, and Body Parts Volume 4

Welcome to the 150th episode of Dark Discussions ... well, at least the first part. Though we have a discussion of one of the best genre films in sometime, prior to the talk, we discussed the various things that have gone on these past couple of weeks and talk about them.

Things that are brought up in conversation books: Jonathan Kellerman's The Murder Book, John Sandford's Rules of Prey, and Stephen King's Doctor Sleep. Mike and Abe give their review of Guardians of the Galaxy. Films including Lucy, Hercules, The Sacrament, Lake Placid, Burnt Offerings, and Sharknado 2 are spoken of. Television programming including Doctor Who, The Strain and The Leftovers are brought up. The manga, King's Game, is given some airtime. And (at the time), upcoming films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Into the Storm are brought up, including our thoughts.

But also the passing of three important people in the genre occurred: Marilyn Burns, star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, makeup man Dick Smith, and author/podcaster Lawrence Santoro. Dark Discussions speaks fondly of the three and we wrap up this episode as we get ready for Part 2 of episode 150 where we discuss ... check back in a few days.