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Episode 169 - 2015 Preview

It's a new year and there are a whole list of new movies coming. Genre cinema is now mainstream with superheroes and teen sci-fi novels being brought to the big screen almost monthly. This year a lot of familiar film franchises are bringing new additions to their canon: Sinister, Insidious, James Bond, the Terminator, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Star Wars, the Avengers.

But there are a lot of small films that are coming that have been highly anticipated such as It Follows, Krampus, Rob Zombie's 31, Greg Mclean's 6 Miranda Drive, and Simon Rumley's The Last Word. Other original material includes the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending, Neill Blomkamp's Chappie, M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit, Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, Tom Hardy's starring vehicle Child 44, Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak, and Ridley Scott's The Martian.

Dark Discussions brings a pretty large list of a bunch of films that have been on their radar for the new year. Some are films that are so low profile that they'll be new to you. Others are higher profile but we discuss the actors, actresses, directors, and screenwriters behind them and also read into the trailers and blurbs that have been discussed throughout the internet. Get a pen and paper out and start jotting down these new films that may interest any genre fan.

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Episode 168 - 2014 Year In Review

Dark Discussions brings you their year in review episode. 2014 seemed to start out very slow for horror films but by the end of the year, there were plenty of good films to see, all readily available and not just festival films or limited release. But co-hosts Eric and Mike had a very good point which is what is determined as other genre (sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, techno-thrillers, mysteries, and exploitation) was outstanding compared to horror itself. It could be argued that 4 or 5 thrillers and sci-fi flicks were heads and above the very best genre films of the year, even over horror as a specific category.

One of the many interesting aspects of the prior year's best horror films was the cost to make them. Out of Dark Discussions definitive top 13 horror films of the year (a 3 way tie for 10th), the total cost to make them was easily less than $30M USD. This shows outstanding small budget and independent cinema but it also is dire for wide release Hollywood horror films. And to put an exclamation point on it, only one of the films on the definitive list was a wide release film.

Films weeded down for consideration for our Top 10 horror list and Top 10 genre list were just under seventy total films. And unlike prior years, your four co-hosts were very close to having consensus with the choices on both lists. Rounding out the episode includes a quick recap of 2014's genre television, books, anime, and our breakout list and worst list.

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Episode 167 - The Dead Snow Franchise

Japanese horror, Korean horror, French horror, Australian horror, and then there is Norwegian horror. With a wave of foreign genre films getting international releases through festivals, conventions, or disc/VOD, Norway has joined the fray of quite impressive genre movies to hit our dvd shelves. Films such as Next Door, Troll Hunter, the Cold Prey flicks, and Thale are just a handful. With the December disc release of Dead Snow 2, your co-hosts turn to the franchise of zombie Nazi films that have come from Norway.

During WWII, Germany invaded Norway and just like many occupied nations, the Schutzstaffel followed; the notorious Nazi squad that murdered millions of civilians and prisoners-of-war. The Dead Snow franchise focuses on a lost SS squad that died in the mountains of the Lapp region of the country. Now seventy years later, they have returned as zombies to wreak havoc, revenge, and death to the small fishing communities of the north.

Written by Stig Frode Henriksen (who also co-stars in both films) and director Tommy Wirkola, the first film from 2009 brought international attention to the director who has since gone on to major Hollywood films. With Dead Snow's success, the follow up, Dead Snow 2 (2014), was even more successful and the two films have become not only cult classics but also some of the best horror zombie comedies of all time. Dark Discussions focuses on the two films and gives their opinions.

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Episode 166 - Found (2014)

When small independent productions and their aspiring directors search out ideas from small press publications, they can usually get the rights fairly cheaply. And to top that, they can also get the author to write the screenplay too. The new film, Found., was just that. The novel, written by Todd Rigney, was read by director Scott Schirmer. Schirmer then contacted Rigney and the two established a relationship and the movie was made.

Found is the story of what appears to be a fairly normal middle American family. Along with Mom and Dad, we have their two boys. Marty is about to reach his teenage years, while his big brother is now a young adult. Soon Marty finds out that his family unit may have a bigger and darker secret than anyone would ever think of. This coming-of-age story turns dark almost immediately and then leads to a tragic ending that tears down the illusion of both society and family alike.

Dark Discussions discusses this well received festival circuit film. Made on a shoestring budget of around $8,000 USD, with actors both from local community theaters and simply from random auditions, what could have been an amateurish venture, turns out to be something actually quite impressive. With its haunting soundtrack and very defining opening credit sequence, Found should be a film that would interest any fan of horror or dark dramas.

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Episode 165 - Stan Winston's Pumpkinhead (1988)

People who grew up in the 1980's and loved those trips down the aisles of the VHS rental stores with their cool box covers lining the horror section were always looking for something new. Well, at the end of the decade, a highly marketed film with a very unusual and some ways silly title started being promoted. The 1988 film, Pumpkinhead, was a must see film for the horror fan. Getting a planned wide release, the film unfortunately was owned by a production company that was having major financial difficulties. So all the hype around the wide theater release kind of faded out. Didn't this just happen to Eli Roth's Green Inferno? Well, same thing.

Either way, the film was co-written and directed by long time special effects icon, Stan Winston, who folks may know behind the dog kennel scene in John Carpenter's The Thing along with James Cameron's Aliens and even Predator, Terminator 2, and the Steven Spielberg adaption of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. Stan Winston, a four time Academy Award winner (and nominated 10 times) gives us, as the marketing campaign stated at the time, a grim fairy tale of a vengeful demon nicknamed Pumpkinhead for its oval shaped cranium.

Dark Discussions, with the newly definitive release on blu-ray of the movie by Scream Factory, decides to take a stab at discussing this film with its huge cult following. Now 26 years later, the movie seems to be revisited every Halloween by genre fans. Starring Lance Henriksen in a heartbreaking performance of a father's loss of his young boy in a tragic accident, the film uses the slasher film mystique under the guise of a monster movie. But most interesting, the film in ways is a predecessor to the modern South Korean revenge films.

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Episode 164 - The Walking Dead First Half Season 5 Recap

Turbulent production history, polarizing characters, changes from the source material, sometimes melodramatic, and yet its the only show in decades that has beat out the National Football League in television ratings. That show, The Walking Dead, continues to have phenomenal ratings. The program shows that zombies, indeed, are not actually dead. Walking dead, yes, but dead as a plot device? Absolutely not! Zombies as antagonists are still possibly the most viable monster in genre fiction. Yet the survival of the characters and the danger from other humans oddly overshadow the walking dead.

Now in its fifth season, the Walking Dead has flourished as a television franchise. Though it has its warts, it still has given us some fantastic horror on the small screen. Grindhouse flare, a much larger and less clichéd diverse cast, and some generally fun times, the show is a favorite of not just genre fans but even mom and dad.

Dark Discussions for the first time since way back on episode 16, we are focusing on the show. Specifically discussing the first half of season five, your co-hosts give their thoughts on the Terminus escape, the Atlanta hospital story arc, the deaths of some important characters, the DC journey, the new diversity in the cast, and the entrance of gay characters, an Episcopal priest, and of course the zombies.