- 1 Independent Horror Deep Dak Thoughts
- 2 All-Time Independent Horror Movies
Independent Horror Deep Dak Thoughts
When you look at the genre today, you see movies like “Scream” and say to yourself, “finally horror is being revitalized”. But don’t be fooled my friends, the future of horror doesn’t rest in “Scream“, “Scream 2“, or “Halloween H2O“. No the future of horror might very rest in the independent horror arena of films.
When I talk about “independent horror” I am talking about a grassroots movement whose only motivation is in trying to make a good movie. Unlike Hollywood where everything is either a sequel or a remake, these filmmakers push the envelope of freshness, originality, and good old-fashion fright. These films are being made by no named studios on shoe-string budgets. Their lack of monetary support is fueled by their creativeness to scary us.
The following are a few movies that I have found that are not only very entertaining but show the originality that is so lacking in Hollywood today. Maybe this bunch of filmmakers can be the next Romero, Carpenter, or Raimi. Someone who can go to Hollywood and make the movies that fans want to see and not those that studios just want to make a fast buck on. Any suggestions, email me.
All-Time Independent Horror Movies
The Convent Story
St. Francis Boarding School for Girls has a dark past that still haunts its’ abandon structure. This once tranquil setting was the scene of a horrific crime. It seems that forty years earlier, a young girl (Christine….Oakley Stevenson) suffering what many would call a momentary lapse of insanity went on a killing spree in its’ chapel. Afterward, the only things left were the charred bodies of the resident Priest and his convent of Nuns or so they thought.
Today, the building is boarded-up, condemned, and unsafe for entry, but the legacy of its’ past still lingers in the mind of the townsfolk. Unable to be reborn out of the ashes of this tragedy, the Convent now serves as a focal point for teenage mischief. Six college students, in what has become a homecoming tradition, decide to raise some hell and head up to discreet the bell tower with their fraternity letters.
Just as their party is about to get started, campus security shows up to shoe them away, while Mo (Megahn Perry), the Goth chick, stays inside hoping to avoid trouble. When the coast is finally clear, she turns to leave only to have everything go black.
In the safety of a local diner, the remaining five debate Mo’s fate. Her friend, Clarissa (Joanna Canton) tries to convince them to go back for her, but only when Biff (Jim Golden) reveals that he had to drop his slash do the others agree. While back at the Convent, Mo has been taken captive by a group of wanna-be Satanists who are hoping to sacrifice her virginal soul to their Dark Lord.
As they plunge a dagger into her unchaste heart they cannot be prepared for the evil that they have awakened. One by one, the remaining cultists and the students begin to succumb to the evil that has returned and only Clarissa, with the help of a now grown Christine (Adrienne Barbeau), can hope to save her brother from becoming the ultimate sacrifice.
How can you go wrong with a tagline that reads: “Nuns, Guns, and Gasoline” ??? Well, if it was being made by Hollywood, I am sure they could find a way to fuck it up, but since the film was made without those constraints, “The Convent” succeeds in living up to its’ promises.
This film was directed by Mike Mendez from a script by the ever-sexy Chaton Anderson (Sapphira)and plays out like a trippy42\ mix of “Evil Dead 2” meets “Night of the Demon”. It has a high-paced action-packed story that delivers on all cylinders especially on the gore scale. Unfortunately for us here in the States, “The Convent” has not been given a proper release, theatrically or on video, which is a travesty in itself, because this is easily one of the best horror films in the last five years. Make sure to visit their website for updated news on a pending release.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Frankenstein Story
Music agent Bernie Stein (Barry Feterman) has just about had it and, in his mind, he’s been screwed for the last time by the sludge he represents. So he decides to enlist the help of his nephew Frankie, an aspiring mad scientist, in hopes of making the perfect rock star. It seems little Frankie (Jayson Spence) has a knack for re-animating dead body parts, a skill he mastered why working at the county coroner?s office and Bernie has an idea to bring his creation to fruition.
With the help of Iggy, a long-haired drug-induced Igor (Hiram Jacob Segarra), and his band of misfits, the remains of legendary rock stars are beginning to disappear around the world. From Jimmy Hendrix’s hand to Sid Vicious? ass, to Keith Moon’s leg, to Elvis’ brain and trademark sideburns, all these parts are being assembled to build the ultimate rocker.
Just as Frank is about to give his creation life, Bernie realizes that his newest star is missing the most important component and he quickly dispenses the gang to secure it. The perpetual klutz Iggy accidental destroys Jim Morrison’s love tool and in a rush quickly grabs the closest celebrity pecker he can get his hands on, unfortunately, it turns out to be Liberace’s.
The true test comes for Frankie and his creature as the final pieces are put into place. With his new life, the ‘King’ (Graig Guggenheim) struggles with an overabundance of talent, the demands of the business, as well as some unnatural urges. This all leads to a weird pseudo-psycho battle between the big head (Elvis) and the little head (Liberace) in which no one is safe.
As his star power and sex appeal continue to skyrocket, so does his craving for dingleberries. All this confusion leaves him with only one option, having his? fruity member? removed, but, alas, this proves too dangerous. Will the? King? be able to come to grips with who and what he is???
About 95% of the films I receive from aspiring filmmakers turn out to be 100% pure crap. Most tend to fall into the trap of recycling themes from their favorite films, rather than exploit their freedom of expression. Originality, even on the indie circuit, can be a rarity, and taking real chances, beyond buckets of blood and cheesy SFX, happens even less frequently.
As not only a fan of horror but the film in general, I am always looking for films that push the envelope, whether in the story, dialog, theme, etc. and challenge the viewer on every level. One film that does all this and a whole lot more is the outrageously funny and highly controversial “Rock ‘n’ Roll Frankenstein.”
From reading the synopsis above you can surmise that “Rock ‘n’ Roll Frankenstein” is a bizarre and stimulating mix between “Rocky Horror” and “Young Frankenstein”. It takes the Frankenstein mythos, modernizes it, slaps firmly on its ass (literally), and brings life to a once-tired franchise. Director Brian O?Hara?s well-crafted homage to bad taste reaches a new level of exquisite execution which is very rare these days, and it throws away all political correctness in the name of entertainment. I highly recommend this film to all the visitors of the House of Horrors.
The Dividing Hour Story
Four would-be bank robbers decide to make a quick withdraw and head for the border, but little do they know that the decisions they make will forever change their lives. As they speed down an abandon stretch of highway, Josh (Mike Prosser), the getaway driver, seems haunted by a nightmare or is it an omen of the future??? He drifts in and out of consciousness with these visions and than suddenly, a jerk of the wheel leaves these four car-less.
Hoping to find help, they begin to make their way back down the road. Josh brings up the rear as he helps his younger brother Zack (Brian Prosser) who is nursing a nasty knee injury from their accident. Along the way, they are able to hitch a ride with a local (Jay Horenstein) who promises to take them to a phone. He drops them off at an old house out in the middle of woods, where they are greeted by Dawn Gates (Jillian Hodges) and her cationic father Lewis (Max Yoakum). Unfortunately, the Gates’ phone isn’t working at the moment.
As time goes by, Josh continues to battle his nightmares and decides to head out looking for help. All the while back at the house, Peter (Brad Goodman), the gun-toting psycho of the group, begins to assert his will, while taking whatever and whomever he wants. Pushing on, Josh happens back upon their crash site where he makes a gruesome discovery. Confused, he quickly returns to the house as the “dividing hour” approaches.
It is really amazing to think that this little gem was made for about $7000. Mike Prosser (Writer/Director/Lead/etc) along with David Walker, Jeff Yarnell, and Greg James crafted a very entertaining and well-made film. The special effects are well above what this nominal budget would normally constrain. Again, the independent arena is proving that a multi-million dollar budget isn’t necessary to make a superior film. This film is highly recommended and exceptional for a shot-on-video feature. Buy it NOW!
The Dead Hate The Living Story
A group of low budget filmmakers has set up shop in an abandoned hospital with hopes of making a zombie flick. Lifelong fans, director David Poe (Eric Clawson) and his bumbling special effects sidekick Paul (Brett Beardslee) are living the dream of a lifetime when they stumble upon a real dead body. Although a bit spooked at first, the crew decides that their newest addition would be perfect for the film. Little do they know that filmmakers shouldn’t play with dead things.
When they accidentally resurrect the corpse (Matt Stephen), they unexpectedly open the doorway to death. Spewing out from the darkness, Eibon unleashes his army of the dead on the land of the living. The blood flows freely as the cast and crew fall prey to this undead legion and no one is spared from Eibon’s thirst for revenge. The few remaining survivors realize that they must close this gate before it is too late.
It has been long time since Full Moon Pictures has made a decent film. Over the last few years, the quality of their product has fallen immensely. I remember doing a review of “The Puppet Master” a little over a year ago just as Full Moon was finally gearing up for a big year of horror film making.
I was kind of psyched because I have always been a fan of Full Moon’s (i.e. “Subspecies“, “Trancers”, and “The Puppet Master“), but as the year progressed it seems like they had lost their touch. Well, that may have all finally changed with “The Dead Hate The Living” directed by longtime fan and first-time feature director, Dave Parker.
The story, effects, soundtrack, and style are all reminiscent of Fulci’s vision. Hardcore fans will just eat up all the references to their favorite horror films and director and with zombie flicks few and far between, this is definitely one of the better in recent memory. Even a bullet to the head couldn’t stop this rip-roaring zombie-fest. Rent this film immediately !!
The Toxic Avenger Story
TROMAVILLE, New Jersey–Toxic Chemcapitalpitol of the World. A nice place to live?? Well not for 98lbs. weakling Melvin (Mark Torgl), the janitor at a local health club. It seems that mild-mannered Melvin is constantly berated by the population of muscle-bound meatheads that call this place home and is later incited to leap from a second story window just to escape their torment. Unfortunately for him, he lands in a vat of bubbling toxic waste, but even more unfortunate for the “bad guys”, the Toxic Avenger is born.
Evil doers beware, because towering in at well over 7 ft with the strength of 10 men, Toxie has an unquenchable thirst for ripping bad guys to shred. No body part (arms, eyes, brains, balls, etc.) goes un-spared as Toxie armed only with his trusty mop rampages through these miscreants like a hot knife through shit. This is bad news for corrupt Mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan) and his trusty band of cronies, whose aspiration for transforming the toxic dumps into valuable shorefront property in now in jeopardy.
Along the way, Toxie saves a blind girl (Andree Maranda) from a bunch of corn holing thugs and a romance blossoms. As the “monster vs. hero” debates rage in the local rags, Mayor Belgoody must find a way to get rid of his archrival in order to complete his evil plans. His luck turns when Toxie accidentally kills a innocent. The final showdown comes when the national guard is called into action. Does the Mayor have the guts to stand up against the town’s hero??? Buy this film immediately.
How can you call yourself a horror fan, if you have never seen “The Toxic Avenger“??? I must have asked this question a million times to many so-called horror fanatics. Love it or hate it, Troma’s “The Toxic Avenger” has forever influenced the way we watch horror movies today. Born out the dark and deranged mind of Lloyd Kaufman (co-founder of Troma) in the early 80’s, Toxie, as his adoring fans have come to call him, helped to establish a new standard for underground filmmaking.
This environmental crusader has become a symbol of freedom for children and adults alike and a mainstay for the collective conscious of this here planet earth. But beyond his rise to superstardom in animated features, his own toy line and comic book series, Toxie’s misadventures helped to create one of the most entertaining, influential, and fun horror films of all-time.
Shatter Dead Story
This is not your average of a zombie movie. These are not your traditional Romero or Fulci flesh-eating zombie, but worst. They are materialistic, egotistical, and downright vain. They have become the scourge of society (i.e. the homeless of today)
A strange virus is killing people, but not allowing them to die. Suicide is the “in thing”. Die young….stay young is the motto of a new generation. Only problem…. most people don’t have a knack for slicing their wrist, so many are screwing themselves up pretty badly.
The story focus on Susan (Stark Raven) and her willingness not to give up on life in the name of eternal death. She enjoys life too much, even thought she looks half dead. As she wonders the streets and countryside of this zombie/human world, she get accosted by a roaming gang of zombies lead by the preacher man (Robert Wells). Later she meets a beautiful women (Flora Fauna) who took her life young so she would remain beautiful for ever, too bad she is later mercilessly mangled by our heroine. (**Lesson 1, once your dead, you can’t die and anything that happens to your body is there forever !!!)
As Susan returns home from a good day of zombie killing, she finds that he frail boyfriend has giving up and tries to convince Susan to do the same. But it seems he’s moving out the hard way. Right out the window. The end makes for great social commentary.
A zombie trip on acid”. This film was directed by Scooter McCrae. From what I can find out this seems like Scooter’s first and only film as a director. More information to come. The acting is this film wasn’t the greatest, there are no spectacular special fx, but there is a damn good story. I highly recommend this film and if you want an idea about what I think George Romero is looking to do in the fourth installation of the “dead ” series, look no further than here. Of course, this is my opinion.
The Blair Witch Project Story
The film begins with this chilling warning to all who view it:
“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary called “The Blair Witch Project” A year later their footage was found.”
As these words fade silently from the screen, an uneasiness begins to settle in. Three students, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael William, are heading up to Maryland’s Black Hill Forest to shoot a documentary on the local legend, “The Blair Witch”. Tales tell of a witch who was responsible for the death of many children. When the filmmakers begin interviewing the locals, they find that fears of the “Blair Witch” curse still burn deep in the psyche of this community.
After leaving their car behind on the roadside, the three hike out into the woods in search of the “Blair Witch”. Along, the way they stop at “Coffin Rock” where Heather spins an eerie tale of murder and witchcraft. Now feeling that they are hot on the trail of unraveling the mystery that haunts these woods , they push on.
The first night goes rather peacefully, but as the filmmakers travel deeper into the woods they could not be prepared for the terror that awaits. After a brief encounter with something the following night, they decide to pack up and head back. Seemingly lost and without their map, the tension and fear grows as they hear strange sounds haunting the woods around them. Shadows and omens warn them of their trespassing ways and that something is out there.
What was supposed to be a weekend trip quickly turns into a five day ordeal of pure terror. With a dwindling food supply, failing morale, and lack of sleep, we watch the slow deterioration of these three as they feel the darkness closing in on them. But what will the end bring?? Check it out and decide for yourself.
“The Blair Witch Project” proves that you don’t need blood, guts, or glitz, over-the-top special effects, or even a multi-million dollar budget to make a superior film. That your cast doesn’t need to be made up of rejects from “Party of Five” “Buffy” or “Beverly Hills 901–whatever” in order to make a good film. It takes the traditional Hollywood formula for horror, kicks it to the curb, and with an in-your-face guerilla filmmaking attitude asks, “are you ready to be scared?”
After he witnesses his friends ravaged in a convenience store, a lone avenger (Gary Miller) heads off to do battle with the undead, armed only with shotgun, machete, chainsaw, and a 2-liter bottle of Holy water. He follows the trail of carnage left behind, hoping to end the madness. But what lies ahead….only the darkness will reveal.
“When a group of teenagers returns home from a concert, they find an entire city of reasons to be afraid of the dark”. A legion of the undead now raging across the shadowland in search of human blood. But alas our local “vampire hunter” arrives in the nick of time to kicks some serious vampire ass. The ending is a special effects extravaganza, especially for a low budget flick. Buckets of blood here folks!!! One the better non-Bram Stoker vampire stories of the ’90s, just for the gore alone.
Taunting itself as “The Ultimate in Vampire Horror” this low budget gem really packs a bunch for gore. We can definitely see where the budget went on this film…into the effects. Leif Jonker’s directorial debut is definitely worth a watching. Jonker definitely has an eye for gore, but not for actors. Randall Aviks is pretty weak as Livan, the head vampire, and the rest of the cast is nothing to write home about either. Unfortunately, in order to make some of these low budget films, you have to make certain sacrifices. I also hope in his next feature Jonker gets some better lighting. There is barely enough light for the night scenes and even some of this scene was filmed during the day, most likely at dust. Overall, I’d recommend this film to any horror fan looking for a gorefest.
The Last Broadcast Story
The film begins as a documentary examining the bizarre deaths of a group of local access cable TV filmmakers. Hoping to boost sagging ratings for their show “Fact or Fiction“, producers Steven Avkast (Stefan Avalos) and Locus Wheeler (Lance Weiler) have arranged for a live broadcast deep within the pine barrens of New Jersey.
Joining them in their search for the legendary Jersey Devil is soundman Rein Clackin (Rein Clabbers) and psychic Jim Suerd (Jim Seward). Days later, Jim emerges from the woods and makes a fanatic call to 911 leading police to make a gruesome discovery.
The evidence at the scene and in Jim’s home quickly points to him as the perpetrator of this heinous crime. In a lengthy trial full of video exurbs, the prosecution paints this psychic/psycho as edgy loner susceptible to bouts of violence, while blatantly overlook evidence that might prove his innocence.
As he is serving two life sentences, Jim mysteriously dies in his cell. This further propels local filmmaker David Leigh (David Beard) deeper in his search for the truth. One year after the deaths, a strange package arrives on Leigh’s doorstep. Could it be the Last Broadcast??
Let me begin by saying that “The Blair Witch Project” (TBWP) did not rip off this film. Although it is true that both film do take a pseudo-documentary approach, that is where the similarities end. Both films succeed on different levels and should be celebrated for the originality and freshness that they have brought to the genre.
Where “The Last Broadcast” (TLB) deviates from TBWP formula is that rather than being shot from the “point-of-view” (POV) of the victims, it focuses more on an investigative style in examining the events surrounding their demised. Where “TBWP” had more raw emotion and action, “TLB” has more story, one that is developed through a multitude of interviews, video footage, etc. This helps to make “TLB” an extremely entertaining film. The film was magnificently shot and edited on an unimaginable budget of $900.