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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.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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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 300 - Hellraiser (1987)

The novella, The Hellbound Heart, published in 1986 in a horror collection, went on to become a sensation for the author, Clive Barker, who became well known with his original take on the “horror tale”. Shortly after, the story was made into a movie. Fortunately for the author, he was tasked to not only write the screenplay but became the director. Renamed Hellraiser as a film, removing any connotation of it being a romance movie, the film became an immediate cult classic.

Frank, a hedonistic petty criminal, purchases the Lemarchand Configuration, a supposedly cursed but magical box that can release unexplained pleasures to its owner. Something horribly goes wrong leaving him stuck as prisoner to a group of outer beings named the Cenobites. Frank’s brother Larry and Larry’s wife, Julia, move into the family home where Julia discovers a horrible secret up in the attic that may lead to a fate possibly worse than the one her brother-in-law obtained.

With the cinematic version released, the Cenobites have become classic movie monsters, specifically the iconic portrayal of Pinhead by actor Doug Bradley. Hellraiser went on to have multiple sequels and talk of a remake have been reported for years. Dark Discussions, on its milestone 300th episode, takes a look at this classic movie on its 30th anniversary.

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Episode 299 - The Lost Boys (1987)

July 31st of this year (2017) was the 30th anniversary of one of the 1980’s most beloved cult horror films: The Lost Boys. Crazy to think this film is that old. Many of us grew up on it, rewatching it over and over and wearing out our VCR tapes. And as co-host Kristi says, “Who didn’t own that film’s soundtrack?” And even if you didn’t, you knew the songs.

Single mother Lucy uproots herself and her two teenage boys, Michael and Sam, from Arizona to her father’s home in the fictional city of Santa Carla, CA. Though with a famous amusement park and with fantastic day and nightlife, the city is also the murder capital of the USA. But unbeknown to our protagonists, there is a deeper and darker secret to the city.

One of the very first modern takes on the vampire, the film has a fantastic cast. Though it includes many newer stars of the time, it also is “who’s who” of the 1980’s. Keifer Sutherland’s portrayal of the brooding leader of a biker gang turned him into a star. Directed by Joel Schumacher at the top of his game, the film still lives on fondly all these year’s later. Dark Discussions takes a look at this cult classic.

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Episode 298 - Atomic Blonde (2017)

Action flicks are back in vogue. From the Bourne films to John Wick, these kinetic films have a bit of a throwback to the 1980’s but are in many ways different. Some such as John Wick have the feel of an exploitation film, and not surprisingly, the new film Atomic Blonde is a bit like it, especially since the co-director of John Wick is the director of Atomic Blonde.

At the end of the Cold War, spy intrigue comes to the divided city of Berlin. Just weeks before the Berlin Wall’s demise, a MI-6 agent escapes from the East with a list of every Soviet secret agent in the world. After his assassination, a rogue Soviet spy has the list. MI-6 agent, Lorraine Broughton, is sent to Berlin to retrieve the list before it gets into the wrong hands.

The movie is based off the graphic novel, The Coldest City, and directed by stunt coordinator David Leitch. Charlize Theron produces this starring vehicle for her. Having come off Prometheus and Mad Max Fury Road, she has re-invented herself as an action star to go along with her many dramatic roles. Dark Discussions Podcast takes a look at this well received genre movie.

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Episode 297 - George A. Romero Tribute

George A. Romero is an icon. He changed horror movies and films more so than most. From turning the so called ghoul into an iconic monster to his unintentional popularizing of midnight movie, his mark on film, never mind horror, is unquestioned. Unfortunately his passing came on July 16th, 2017 at the age of 77.

His legacy includes the very first modern day zombie film entitled Night of the Living Dead, the first of a loose trilogy of zombie films that he made. Between the others, Dawn of the Dead, has become another classic horror film. But his work included other midnight movies that have become cult classics such as Creepshow, Martin, The Crazies, and Land of the Dead.

Dark Discussions pays tribute to one of the most important filmmakers in the last 50 years. Because of him, zombie films have become a staple in horror movies. Some say it has surpassed vampires. We take a look at his career, what we felt about some of his films, and salute him. Yet even so, his legacy will live on for generations.

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Episode 296 - War of the Planet of the Apes (2017)

One of the most iconic franchises of all time, The Planet of the Apes, received a second reboot in 2011 to what turned out to be a surprise success. Expecting a smaller box office than a nominal Hollywood tentpole film, the film burst to being a blockbuster and one of the top films of that year. Now the third installment entitled War of the Planet of the Apes has arrived to critical praise.

Years after the events of the prior two films, Caesar’s community has settled into a somewhat peaceful existence. With prior foes no more, everything seems okay. Yet, a new group of humans from the Northwest has begun to hunt down the intelligent apes. With a stealth attack that leaves his oldest son and wife dead, Caesar makes a decision to go after the threat. The struggle he now has will be to seek justice or vengeance.

Andy Serkis takes on the role of Caesar for a third time. With a budget much smaller than the prior installment, this Matt Reeves directed and Mark Bomback written film seems to be a half step behind. Yet it has been received critically as the best of the bunch. Dark Discussions Podcast takes a look at this latest in the franchise.

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Episode 295 - Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman, one of genre’s most iconic characters, first appeared in 1941, created by William Moulton Marston, who also invented the polygraph test. Continuously printed in comics and graphic novels since, she is one of the longest running superheroes of all time. In the 1970’s, she appeared in a well received television series starring Lynda Carter. After many years, 2016 had her first appearance starring beauty queen and actress Gal Gadot in Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice. Now in 2017, the character received her first starring role as lead in one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Wonder Woman.

When World War I spreads to the hidden island of Themyscira, the home to the Amazons, Princess Diana rescues an allied soldier, Captain Steve Trevor, from drowning. Soon German soldiers land on the island and the Amazons are forced to fight off the threat. When Diana helps Steve on his journey back to Great Britain, she is forced to see a world that she had never seen before, filled with bloodshed and war. With the help of Steve and his friends, she heads to the warfront to help humanity in its efforts to win back the peace.

Gal Gadot won praise for her role as the iconic warrior. The cast includes Chris Pine and Danny Huston in fantastic supporting roles. The film was directed by Patty Jenkins, who’s prior film, Monster, won Academy Awards. And with a script by Allan Heinberg, the movie has become one of the highest grossing films of all time. Dark Discussions takes a look at this phenomenon and gives their opinion.

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Episode 294 - Ravenous (1999)

Sometimes a troubled production can lead to, if not a great film, a cult film. Ravenous is one of those pictures. Released in 1999, the film changed directors in pre-production and had strong executive overwatch. When it was first released it received mixed reviews and did little at the box office making it seem like a film that would disappear and be forgotten. But due to a number of factors it has gained a cult following.

When Lieutenant Boyd becomes a hero in the Mexican-American War, he is awarded a medal and promotion, but is then sent packing to a remote garrison because it is found his heroics occurred because of a cowardly deed. At his new location, a stranger named Colquoun appears claiming that his group of settlers had been trapped in a snowstorm and resorted to cannibalism. The garrison’s colonel decides to lead an expedition to see if they can retrieve any survivors. Unfortunately for the scouting party, things turn horribly wrong.

Starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle at the time they were considered up-and-coming leading men, the films cast, the film’s quirky humor and shocking violence brought it attention years later when it hit the video and disc market. Also, being directed by a woman, Antonia Bird, has given it more visibility. Dark Discussions takes a look at this film and gives their opinion.

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Episode 293 - 47 Meters Down (2017)

Though around for a bit, British director Johannes Roberts came to note to genre fans with his 2012 alien apocalypse film Storage 24. Now in 2017, he has returned with his latest horror thriller, 47 Meters Down, starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt. Shark films re-emerged in popularity with last years The Shallows and 47 Meters Down joins the latest in a very popular subgenre.

Sisters Lisa and Kate arrive in Mexico for a vacation. Originally Lisa’s boyfriend was to attend, but right before the trip, the two split. Very blue and quite depressed, Kate decides to cheer up her sister by suggesting all sorts of fun activities. Swimming, partying, sunbathing, fancy dinners, but then some local guys they meet suggest cage diving. Kate immediately says yes but Lisa has her doubts.

Originally to be released by Dimension Films under the title In the Deep, the movie was sold off to Entertainment Studios who changed the title back to its original 47 Meters Down and gave it a theatrical release. Receiving decent reviews, the movie did make its modest budget back and then some. Dark Discussions takes a look at this new danger-in-the-water film and gives their critique.

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Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews Volume 005

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 292 - Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Another “arthouse” horror film from Australia. Berlin Syndrome’s screenwriting, credited to Shaun Grant, has a similar feel to his Snowtown Murders. But also it is not much unlike the recent Hounds of Love. What they all have in common is horror based in the real world where the real monsters are people.

Clare, a beautiful woman from Australia, takes a backpacking trip to Germany to photograph the unique architecture of old East Germany, specifically East Berlin. While walking the streets, she meets a handsome school teacher named Andi who shows her about the city. With a mutual attraction, the two later head to his flat and make passionate love; essentially a magnificent one night stand. But after Andi leaves for work, Clare unexpectedly gets locked in his apartment.

The movie is directed by Australian filmmaker, Cate Shortland, from a minimalist screenplay by Shaun Grant (based off the novel by Melanie Joosten). The film stars Teresa Palmer in a career defining performance as Clare, and Sense8 actor Max Riemelt as Andi. Receiving rave reviews from critics, Dark Discussions takes a look at this recently released horror thriller.

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Episode 291 - It Comes At Night (2017)

It Comes at Night, the sophomore effort by writer/director Trey Edward Shults, came and went from theaters pretty quickly. Starring Joel Edgerton along with a small cast of folks, the film is a fairly different take on an apocalyptic world. Marketed quite wrong where the film was portrayed as a kinetic action horror film with possible monsters involved, the movie is actually a very dark art house drama.

As the movie begins, the maternal grandfather of a family of four contracts a mysterious illness that has wiped out society as we know it. With his eventual death, Will and Sarah and their 17 year old son Travis are suddenly on the defensive as an intruder breaks into their house. Able to overpower him, Will is concerned that the man may have brought more bandits with him … or worse, the disease.

With its small cast and paranoid narrative, the film begins to ask questions on what normalcy should be and whether helping others in a world where justice and law do not exist is the right thing to do. Receiving critical praise while being disliked by many audience members possibly because of its false marketing campaign, the movie quickly left theaters. Dark Discussions takes a look at this new release and gives their critique.

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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.