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Episode 238 - James Wan Focus: 2016's The Conjuring 2

The Warrens are back. The real life ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren, probably most well known for the Amityville haunting case, were the focus of the film The Conjuring and their investigation of the 1971 Roger and Carolyn Perron haunting in Rhode Island. Now the movie, The Conjuring 2, is the focus of their investigation of the well publicized 1977 haunting of the Brimsdown, Enfield council house in London, England.

A single mum, Peggy Hodgson, and her four children seem to live a normal working class life. Soon however odd things begin to happen including such innocuous but bizarre acts as electronics turning on or off by themselves. But when a presence makes its appearance and in many ways seeming to be malicious, paranormal investigators are called in, including the Warrens.

With the success of the first film, Hollywood greenlighted the follow up film that brought back acclaimed genre director James Wan, screenwriters of the original, Chad and Carey Hayes, and newly hot screenwriter David Leslie Johnson to co-write the script. The film received splendid reviews by both reviewers and audiences equally and immediately went on to make all its money back and more. Dark Discussions is back to discuss this highly successful film with professional ghost hunter and Warren expert, Nate Schoonover, joining to critique and review.

Learn more about The Conjuring that co-host Kristi put together. Resources for The Conjuring 2 (2016-06-23)

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 237 - Frank Henenlotter Focus: 1990's Frankenhooker

Already famous for such films as the Basket Case franchise and Brain Damaged, Frank Henenlotter pieced together a low budget horror comedy based on the Mary Shelley Frankenstein story and its many movie adaptations entitled Frankenhooker. Take the old gothic trope, mix it into a midnight movie, and set it in New York City, one of the hotbeds for midnight movies, and you get another cult classic that is still celebrated twenty-six years later.

When Elizabeth Shelley dies a tragic death at her father's birthday party, her fiancé, Jeffrey Franken, decides to use his medical and electrical engineering background to bring her back to life. However, where can he find the cadaver to transplant his loved one's head upon? That may not be all that easy but he does come up with an idea. Where else can a lonely man find women who are willing to go with them for nothing more than some money? 42nd Street, Manhattan, the 1990's red light district where streetwalkers were once plentiful.

Starring New Jersey native Patty Mullen, who had been both Penthouse Pet of the Month (August 1986) and Penthouse Pet of the Year (1988), and New Jersey actor Jeffrey Lorenz, the two immediately became recognizable favorites of horror fans everywhere. Co-hosts Mike and Phil were podcast guests at Springfield, MA horror convention, Scare-A-Con, where they were able to meet both Patty and Jeffrey and record their on location review and critique of one of genre fans most beloved films.

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Episode 236 - What We Become (2016)

Zombie films are one thing that it seems Dark Discussions Podcast hasn't reviewed or critiqued all that much. Co-host Eric, for one, is pretty much zombied out. As is a few other co-hosts. But co-host Mike can't get enough of the topic. Well, out of nowhere a new zombie film appeared from a very unlikely place, Denmark, but then again, Denmark has been putting out some pretty great horror films recently and that includes last years What Animals Dream. Now new talent Bo Mikkelsen directs and screenwrites the new walking dead film, What We Become.

Gustav, the son of typical parents and part of a typical family, meets his new beautiful neighbor, Sonja. As their relationship begins to blossom, local folks in the area begin to get sick. The television news (with the government's blessing) recommend folks stay home, don't go to hospitals, and call an alternate number than 911. Soon everyone's normal life filled with both malaise but also thrills turns upside down when society begins to breakdown.

There are two types of zombie films, the post-apocalyptic and the pre-apocalyptic. This film falls flatly in the pre-apocalyptic as we watch both society and the family/neighborhood unit become stressed and eventually break. With a fairly effective trailer, the film caught the eyes of your co-hosts. Listen up as Dark Discussions critiques and reviews a rare zombie flick.

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Episode 235 - They Look Like People (2016)

Netflix has joined the fray. Already, they are producing and buying quality television series. Now the company is picking up films as exclusives from the festival circuit to show on their channel. One of those is the recently released psychological horror film, They Look Like People. Written and directed by newcomer Perry Blackshear, the film stars mainly a three person cast of MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, and Margaret Ying Drake.

Wyatt (played by Andrews) drifts into the big city meeting up with his childhood and longtime friend, Christian (played by Dumouchel). Christian immediately invites Wyatt to stay with him as long as possible, essentially becoming roommates. Unknown to Christian, Wyatt has been contacted by some alien or spiritual force warning him of an upcoming apocalypse. He's told something may be bodysnatching people where these imposters are just the first step to the ultimate invasion.

In many respects They Look Like People has various traits to such "buddy" horror films as Resolution with a taste of more recent movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Witch, where the audience is always on their toes wondering if Wyatt may be nothing more than an "unreliable narrator". Dark Discussions, informed by listener Chris Genro of the wonderful buzz around the film, decides to review and critique this independently released feature.

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Episode 234 - Emelie (2016)

There's been a number of horror films and thrillers where the babysitter is a potential victim and possibly even the "final girl". However, what if it was the babysitter that was the psychopath, the murderer, the bad girl and not the victim? Well, a new film by first time director Michael Thelin does just that. The movie, Emelie, written by Richard Herbeck, turns that old trope around 180 degrees where the young woman who is supposed to watch your children is actually an imposter.

A married couple's regular babysitter happens to be unable to watch their children on the night of their anniversary so she recommends her friend Anna. Though the couple has never seen what Anna looks like, the father goes to the address given, picks her up, and the parents introduce her to the three children. When they leave, the oldest boy begins to wonder who this new babysitter really is. Babysitters he's known never were like this.

The film is another 2016 release, hitting video on demand and then following on disc by Dark Sky Films. None of your co-hosts knew much about it before its sudden appearance but co-host Eric and Philip decided to give it a go. Is it any good? Or is it just another generic thriller? Listen to your co-hosts to find out.

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Episode 233 - Isolation (2005)

Ireland seems to have joined the ranks of nations putting out some interesting and in some cases impressive horror films. Some of the higher profile flicks include Wake Wood, Grabbers, The Canal, and The Hallow to just name a few. But before all of them, back in 2005, a small film titled Isolation appeared that quickly drew a cult following simply for the fact of its premise alone.

A cattle farmer in rural Ireland, Dan Reilly, slowly watches his business fall upon hard times. Soon, however, with the help of Orla, the local veterinarian, he is paired up with John, a bio-geneticist, who offers a way back into the "black" and therefore his livelihood. John is working on ways to improve the turnaround of farm-to-table beef and hopefully revolutionize both farming and genetics. However, any progress seems to be all too slow for Dan, and soon things unexpected with John's experiments could lead to disaster.

Directed and written by Dan O'Brien, who's since gone on to science-horror and slashers, Isolation seems to pay tribute to such films as Alien, The Thing, Saturn 3, among others. Dark and grimy, and with a tone of desperation throughout, the movie pulls no punches with its shock. Dark Discussions reviews this film that co-host Abe suggested was worthy of a critique.

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Episode 232 - Darren Aronofsky Focus: 2010's Black Swan

Though Natalie Portman won an Academy Award for her role as dancer Nina Sayers, the breakout star of the film, Black Swan, actually turned out to be Mila Kunis who prior to her role as Lily was known for television work. Now 7 years old, Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, still holds up well. Some folks would consider it a classic, and many folks will say that the film is a tour de force of acting which also includes Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder.

A prominent ballet company out of Manhattan is about to open the new season with a performance of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Director and company owner Thomas Leroy (played by Vincent Cassel) wants a new take on the ballet so he's looking for something a bit different. He wants the characters of the white and black swan to be played by the same dancer. Nina Sayers is about to find out if she is going to be the lead but as the stress, both personal and professional, begin to weigh on her, she begins to wonder if her mother, her friends, or even a supernatural presence is thwarting her.

A film bounced about a few times by your co-hosts, Black Swan makes it as an episode for discussion. With its strange and surreal visuals, a sexually charged performance by Mila Kunis, and Natalie Portman playing a mentally struggling person on the verge of breaking, the film continues to wow even if it seems to have been copied many times since. Listen to find out what Dark Discussions thinks of this modern classic.

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Episode 231 - KILD-TV

Horror Hound Weekend, the big genre convention held out in Indianapolis, seems to find hidden gems by new film makers. A few years back, for example, the anthology horror film Drive-In Horror Show was selected to play there. Last year, a small independent film entitled KILD-TV made its appearance, and during award ceremonies won two awards while receiving much positive feedback.

While running their local midnight horror creature feature, the skeleton crew at the local television station discover there is a murderer among them. After the disappearance of the receptionist and head engineer, a body is discovered and soon they find out all their lives are all in danger. Locked in by sabotage, the only time they can get the word out is through the computer run live three minute broadcasts usually for the skits by the horror host right before commercial breaks. Unfortunately for them, their pleas for help are taken by the television audience as part of the show's shtick.

Both Fangoria and Dread Central gave highly positive reviews to the aptly named KILD-TV. Dark Discussions was able to view the feature and include a quick interview with the director, William Collins. With high praise and awards from a top notch convention, was the movie as good as the horror reviewers have stated. Find out what your co-hosts thought of the film and then go check it out on every major VOD outlet.

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Episode 221 - Dan Lench Focus: 2015's Circle (Redux)

Back in November of 2015, co-host Philip discovered a new video-on-demand science fiction film entitled Circle had been released. After recommending it to co-host Eric, the two convinced the crew to do an episode on this little film that had to say a lot.  It talks about society, social structure, and the human psyche in, if not an original way, a very unique way. A group of strangers find themselves locked away in a dark room with each standing on a orange-red circle upon the floor. Get off, you die. But more horrific, every two minutes you have to vote a person to die; if you don't, someone randomly dies a horrifying death. The film asks, what would you do?

With episode 209 of Dark Discussions released, actor Dan Lench, playing the oddly titled character Rich Man, heard the episode and not only gave feedback but twittered the link to the show to his followers. Soon, his agent, Lisa Berman, did the same. Dark Discussions reached out to Dan and asked him to appear on the show so we could not only learn about him, but for him to give us his comments about the film as well as give us more details on its production.

Things learned include behind-the-scenes facts such as how the soundstage was made, its location was in the same building as a Chinese laundry, an actor on the final day (having been on the Broadway stage production of the Lion King) sang a magical song, how parts were cast, and how Dan himself almost lost his role to the biggest star of the film! Get ready for a unique episode of the podcast and meet the great, funny, and talented Mr. Dan Lench.

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Episode 214 - 2016 Genre Review

Okay, a new year has arrived and now being mid-January, the first genre films have reached theaters and VOD. Films like Body, The Forest, and The Boy have had their January release. Yet going forward, more films are already on their way including some big budget flicks, independent cinema, as well as festival films that are now making it to wide release.

Do you like super heroes? Well some humongous films (both DC and Marvel) are coming. Zack Snyder's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil Wars, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, and Suicide Squad are only a handful. Sequels and reboots? How about Star Wars: Rogue One, The Conjuring 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, Godzilla: Resurgence, and Annabelle 2 to name a few. New festival circuit horror? Films like Vvitch, February, and the Devil's Candy are coming. And intense thrillers? They include Triple 9, The Green Room, and Jack Reacher 2.

As co-host Mike has said, many of the best films to come we may not even know yet. Independent flicks, low budget horror, and foreign films just appear on VOD or theaters and overwhelm everyone. What is the next Ex Machina, These Final Hours, or It Follows? Dark Discussions tries to figure out all this while giving their thoughts on what we know. Get a pen and paper ready and start writing down the titles we go through.

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Episode 213 - 2015 Year in Review

2015 is over and depending on your viewpoint with horror and genre films, it was a great year or a good year. It certainly wasn't a bad year. Films, with their variety, seemed to have something for everyone. We got disaster movies like San Andreas, post-apocalyptic films too, many being low budget like Z for Zachariah and These Final Hours, to big budget ones like Mad Max: Fury Road. Strong as always, the non-horror genre flicks such as science fiction, fantasy, and so forth were dominated by Hollywood while horror, as in recent years, has been more small budget and independent flicks, even with M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit.

Dark Discussions co-hosts saw numerous films with co-host Mike probably able to see the most. With seeing so many flicks, your co-hosts were able to compile their top 24 horror films of 2016 and their top 11 2016 other genre flicks (sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, mystery, exploitation, action). No matter what list we discuss, there were some obvious choices that appeared such as Star Wars, Mad Max, Jurassic World, It Follows, and The Martian. Some surprises too made the top of the lists including low profile flicks like Bone Tomahawk, Creep, Zombeavers, and Predestination. But some of the littlest of films roared to the top too, like Ex Machina or The Gift.

Other things discussed include a whole group of listener opinions, their top films, and what they thought of 2016. And your co-hosts also discuss some of the most prominent and successful scenes, characters, and stars from both the best and worst. What a year it was and with so many films to consider, listen up and see what the podcast has to say.