Friday, November 27, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: KRAMPUS

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Graphic Novel Review: KRAMPUS



SHOCK looks at the graphic novel companion to Michael Dougherty’s upcoming chiller KRAMPUS.

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas on its way like an unstoppable monsoon of ugly sweaters and eggnog, movie-goers are being treated to a selection of seasonal films to set them in the mood for the coming of ol’ St. Nick. Among the feel-good comedies and feel-good dramas is a new arrival on the market, KRAMPUS. A holiday tale of horror, KRAMPUS promises to show the dark side of our merry revilement, or lack there-of, as a family trapped in their house learn after a snow storm soon gets a visit from the grimmest version of Santa Clause, one with hooves and a bag full of tricks. Thanks to the films production company Legendary Films recent interest in the comic business, Christmas is coming a bit early this year with the recent release of the KRAMPUS graphic novel.

The comic presents three new stories set on the same night as the movie. While our film family is battling KRAMPUS in their house, the town outside is also battling the creature in its own way. The first story focuses on a mall Santa who has pretty much given up on everything but the bottle, but once the storm brings the first sign of KRAMPUS’s evil elves, he takes up arms and joins the fight. But will his change of heart be enough to save him from the creature’s evil present bag? The second tale is about a cop who had never gotten over the death of her sister and her vigilance has kept away from her family for years. After picking up a robber who was Grinching presents from families in the neighborhood, they soon find themselves face-to-face with a town full of monsters and a secret that the two share. The final yarn spins its own version on A Christmas Carol as a penny pinching billionaire takes a trip down the path of his greed.

KRAMPUS is not only helmed by KRAMPUS director Michael Dougherty of TRICK ‘R’ TREAT fame, but many of the writers and artists that he used for the TRICK ‘R’ TREAT comic make a returning appearance. It’s fun to see the artists who have worked on his previous stuff come back for a second round and those who were fans of the TRICK ‘R’ TREAT comic that came out a couple months ago can expect a lot of the same quality. The only drawback is since this comic is out before the movie, it sets the standard for what to expect in the film where with TRICK ‘R’ TREAT, it’s the other way, so it’s easier to find flaws in the KRAMPUS comic instead of thinking of it as an extension of the movie universe (and cutting it some slack). An example would obviously be the stories in this collection came off as a mixed bag. The first two were fun and original, if not unexpectedly dark, but the third simply came off as another re-telling of the same Dickens story that has been told a hundred times. Perhaps in the context of the movie, it all makes sense, but without the source material it comes off as a bit trite and unnecessary. Maybe if the two were released at the same time, the comic work would seem more complete.

The art was very similar to the stories where the first two shorts seemed to have the luck of the draw while the final piece came off as a bizarre ode to late nineties, graffiti style, ‘attitude’ art with cut corners and unfinished background pieces. Its predecessors had a very solid look, especially with the drunk Santa tale presenting fantastically dark line work by Christian Dibari. The last one seemed barely inked, but the facial expressions were spot on and the action scenes turned everyday situations into acrobatic feats.

Either way, this is a fun work for those who hunger for a little twisted morality with their Christmas stockings and, with less than a week until the movie hits theaters, it’s a great way to prepare for the blood-filled holidays!

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Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP

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Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP



SHOCK chows down on exclusive pics from indie horror/comedy DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN Vs. THE CANNIBAL COP.

Buffalo based filmmaker and funnyman John Renna’s new microbudget comedy/action/horror flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP is currently chomping through festivals and public screenings as we speak and SHOCK has a few exclusive pics to share.

The film stars Renna (who wrote and directed) and fellow Buffalo, NY indie film personality Sam Qualiana as a pair of bumbling cops (the movie also stars Indie film legend Debbie Rochon, pictured above) who are assigned to bring down a rogue cop who is kidnapping and eating young women across Western New York. It’s like an old Monogram picture, with goofy gags bashing up against somber – and in this case gory and explicit – scenes of shock and it’s tons of fun. And, believe it or not…it’s based on a true story!

Feast on the fotos and trailer below and be sure to visit the CANNIBAL COP official Facebook page.

The post Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Remember When Siskel & Ebert Reviewed JAWS: THE REVENGE?

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Remember When Siskel & Ebert Reviewed JAWS: THE REVENGE?


Ebert1 SHOCK grabs another classic clip of critics Siskel & Ebert reviewing horror films.

As part of our ongoing series digging up vintage clips of lamented critics Siskel & Ebert making sport of horror and dark fantasy films on their long-running, now defunct TV series AT THE MOVIES.

Both critics were often very fair and astute with their assessments of contemporary cinema and certainly, their impact on the art of film criticism (such as it is) cannot be properly measured.

But when they hated something, they used it as fodder for a kind of Statler and Waldorf-esque roasting routine. And while often amusing, horror fans rightfully recoiled at seeing entertainments they adored so casually dismissed.

Now that said, sometimes, just sometimes…their genre jeering was the money.

Witness their attack on Joseph (NIGHTMARES) Sargent’s universally lambasted sequel JAWS: THE REVENGE, the fourth – and to date, last – installment of the man (or woman) vs. shark series that started with director Steven Spielberg’s first masterpiece, 1975’s immaculate JAWS.

1978’s JAWS 2 was a well-produced, well-acted but often tedious and shallow attempt to duplicate the energy of the original. The Richard Matheson co-scripted JAWS 3D was ludicrous but at least it tried to do something different.

JAWS: THE REVENGE, however, is an anomaly; a film that carries over characters from the series, which are based in reality, only to trash the soul of the series by tacking on a quasi-supernatural angle wherein the long-shark-suffering Brody family seem to have been targeted by a dynasty of sharks, with one of the fuckers even following the matriarch of the family from Amity to the Bahamas to finish off the bloodline!

Throw in Michael Caine collecting a paycheck and Mario Van Peebles with a distracting accent plus shark FX that are massive steps down from the already troubled 1975 incarnation of Bruce and you have one of the most ridiculed films of the 1980’s.


In retrospect, JAWS: THE REVENGE isn’t that bad in the sense that it’s well-acted, fast-paced and at least has some class, taking itself seriously and positioning an older female as the hero. Rare for 1987 and just as rare today.

But…it aint a good movie. By any stretch.

And so, when I caught this clip of S&E digging in, I wasn’t mad. At all. God knows the movie had it coming!

Check it out. Be prepared to laugh….

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Ridley Scott Announces Plans to Make More ALIEN Prequel/Sequels

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Ridley Scott Announces Plans to Make More ALIEN Prequel/Sequels

Alien: Paradise Lost

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Visionary director Ridley Scott reveals plans for two more PROMETHEUS/ALIEN: COVENANT sequels.

We already now know that the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s ALIEN sidebar/prequel PROMETHEUS has changed titles more times than a a Xenomorph changes its underpants and we know that the film will now be called ALIEN: COVENANT. 

What we didn’t know  – but now do – is that Scott is planning THREE sequels, for a grand total of FOUR PROMETHEUS/ALIEN films that will eventually tie into his 1979 original masterpiece.

Speaking from a press conference in Sydney, Australia (where ALIEN: COVENANT will be filmed), Scott had this to say, The Hollywood Reporter reports:

“Its a very complex story. Its an evolution of what I first did with PROMETHEUS 1…(that film) was borne out of my frustration that on ALIEN 1 in 1979 – I only did one as I don’t normally do sequels. I was amazed that in the 3 that followed that no-one asked the question ‘why the Alien, who made it and why?’ Very basic questions. So I came up with the notion of PROMETHEUS 1, which starts to indicate who might have made it and where it came from.”

He added: “So I’m now going to the next one, which is the next evolution directly connected with the first one, which was this Shaw, when [s]he replaced Michael Fassbender in two pieces and we’ll kind of pick it up there and it will evolve. When that’s finished there will be another one and then another one which will gradually drive into the back entrance of the film in 1979… So in other words, why was this space jockey there and why did he have an Alien inside him? And those questions will be answered.”

Well, this writer worships Scott and absolutely loved the somewhat flawed and absolutely visionary PROMETHEUS.. And we all worship ALIEN so…I say bring em on! The more ALIEN-centric films the better!

What say you?

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Polish Mind-Bender THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM on Blu-ray

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Review: Polish Mind-Bender THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM on Blu-ray



SHOCK looks at the Blu-ray release of 1973 Polish surrealist film THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM.

Cannes Special Jury Award Winner THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM is a journey within a jaunt perpendicular to a peregrination and overlapped with a transmigration; Wojciech Has’ sumptuous adaptation of the works of Polish writer Bruno Schulz results in a strongly visualized odyssey through the life and thoughts of a man, a undulating promenade of dreams and nightmares.

Beginning with motion, following a black bird flapping in the sky as we pull in through an open moving window, Józef (Jan Nowicki) travels on decrepit train to visit his ailing father Jacob (Tadeusz Kondrat) in a sanatorium. A foreboding train keeper with a candle lantern around his neck and white eyes alerts Józef of his impending stop. Upon arrival he merely walks out the train door, makes his way through a snowy graveyard, and ascends to the massive doors of the crumbling establishment. After attempting to find food in a deteriorating dining hall coated with spider webs, he is led by a nurse to his father in a bizarre room, seemingly under no care at all, with a single bed and a single lamp to illuminate him. Dr. Gotard (Gustaw Holoubek) explains the conditions of the sanatorium and his father to Józef: they’ve managed to slow time down and play with it, ‘recreating’ it, but there is still much left to chance.


Józef looks out a broken sanatorium window, only to see his own self arriving earlier in the day to the same door he first entered. And so begins multiple trips through time, space, and the ether of consciousness through his own life, encountering his youth, parents, relationships with women, and other events both inside and outside himself through extreme vagaries taking him from one reality through another, a truly experiential tale, an Alice in Wonderland of adulthood, sans white hare.

Jerzy Maksymiuk’s flute-centric score haunts the frames as Józef finds his mother in one room, the encounters a group of Jews praying as if they were in synchronized dance. Climbing a ladder he finds a redheaded nearly nude woman who hurriedly brings him into the room. He finds pages of a book, then the book itself, explaining its importance to the woman. He finds more pages under the page, and crawling underneath finds another man underneath, and a soldier in white at the foot of the bed, asking if he is Jacob, his father. He crawls toward the soldier and is then in a city square with buildings with domed tops and men in colorful bird masks about.


He finds the young boy he saw from earlier in the day at the sanatorium who shows him a stamp book he carries filled with stamps from around the world. He finds the train keeper with the lantern on a house and is led to a patch of elephants in the smoky woods. He finds a rotting butterfly, which he holds up to the sun.

Peeking through a fence, he sees a woman in all black who appears to be in mourning. He is told she is ‘inhabited by ghosts, phantoms, larvae, and chrysalises” by the woman’s daughter who covers the hold he’s peering through with her hand. He leaves this scene and finds another broken construction, climbing down a rope ladder into a room filled with mechanized mannequins. One falls over and its mechanical guts erupt from her its face.

The film plays like a dream, or nightmare, though Józef never breaks stride, adapting to every new adventure as a condition of being alive. He doesn’t flinch or pause, just moves through each new world as part of the entirety of life. The fluidity of Witold Sobocinski’s cinematography (also responsible for Andrzej Zulawski’s THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT) infuses Has’ adaption of Bruno Schulz’s prose, whose texts Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass and Spring form the basis of this jaunt.

Schulz’ works are visual and based on sensation over narrative. From this following passage you can see why Has would go for a cinema of sensation over attempts at linear storytelling:


“Fall is a great touring show, poetically deceptive, an enormous purple-skinned onion disclosing ever new panoramas under each of its skins. No center can be reached. Behind each wing that is moved and stored away, new and radiant scenes open up, true and alive for a moment, until you realize that they are made of cardboard. All perspectives are painted, and only the smell is authentic, the smell of wilting scenery or theatrical dressing rooms, a pile up of discarded costumes among which you wade endlessly as if through yellow fallen leaves.”

By the time Józef is rejoined with his father, time has indeed elapsed, folded back on itself, and metamorphosed again, with Józef taking on a new identity, rising forth from an open grave into a field of candles, ready to begin an even newer chapter in the prolongation of his existence.

Boldly visual, exceedingly sensual, and formed from the clay of subconsciousness, THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM is a film that plays particularly well in the dark and strange cavern of a motion picture cinema, filled with strangers both onscreen and off, though presented with eloquence on Blu-ray, its visuals and sounds are smokily intact.

Now available on Blu-ray from Mr. Bongo .

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Event Report: BLACK CHRISTMAS Reunion at the Hamilton Film Expo

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Event Report: BLACK CHRISTMAS Reunion at the Hamilton Film Expo


BChrist4 To time with Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray release, SHOCK reports on the BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion in Hamilton, Canada.

We all know what an Expo or fan Convention is about. A wild, fun adventure filled with Vendors, Celebs, Cosplay, pop culture and more! In our first year doing the Hamilton Film Expo, and going forward, we wanted to earn our name. “Hamilton” is not just the city the event is staged in, it’s where I live and work. “Film Expo” is not just a way to drop all of pop culture on people. “Movie Stuff” is our tagline and that is what we wanted to deliver. Year 1, we accomplished that with our All-Canadian celebrity guests, & movie-themed vendors.

Backing up one day, the night before the Expo, Anchor Bay Canada gave us permission to screen BLACK CHRISTMAS for a free midnight screening to raise awareness and items for the Eva Rothwell Centre. All week, the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival had been running a promo for the ‘Season’s Greivings Editon’ of BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray. Basically, we were getting pumped…

Backing up to August 2015, I had a Facebook conversation with actor Art Hindle. I had never met him but we had mutual “friends.” I reached out and asked him if a) he would be interested in doing an introduction at the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival for a showcase of Michelle Latimer’s work (art had worked with her on the syndicated TV show PARADISE FALLS), and b) would he be interested in being a part of our first Film Expo. He did his research, got back to me and his response to me was “I want to help you grow this.”

Not only is that a massive compliment to the years of work we have put in, but a real example of a good person who is interested in giving back to the film & TV community. “Just doing my part” is how he worded it. This lead almost immediately to two more guests. BLACK CHRISTMAS co-stars Lynne Griffin and Doug McGrath. In the matter of a few days I had a mini BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion!


During the panel discussion (moderated by Aaron Allen of Hamilton’s Fright Night Theatre Film Festival, pictured above), Doug discussed the importance of his early work in Canadian cinema, but not in an egotistical way. It was in a way that a teacher is proud of seeing a student become successful. BLACK CHRISTMAS, PORKY’S and GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD all paved the way for films that hadn’t been made yet. Doug was very optimistic that Canadian cinema has, and will continue to have, it’s own identity but more importantly that it has this vast legacy of movies to point to.

Lynn Griffin (who also starred in Canadian slasher classic CURTAINS) is a warm soul with a genuine smile and a passion for the arts. It’s obvious when you first meet her. She recalled Bob (Clark) asking her to imagine that she was hearing some scary things on the phone. Then when she saw the movie, had no idea it would be so disturbing! She talked about “the bag” and went on to explain that she was a swimmer and could hold her breath for a long time. “Probably why I got the part.” She said.

A lesson for filmmakers in the horror genre, came from Art Hindle. He never missed a chance to bring a laugh into the conversation, and said as much about horror filmmaking. “Bring humour into your films.” The “fellatio” scene comes (ahem)  to mind across the panel. Later on, a question was asked to the panel, “what prop would you most like to have from the movie?” Art Hindle, without missing a beat said “Olivia Hussey.”

An nice addition to the panel, or audience I should say, was when a question regarding the audio of that scary scream from Olivia at the banister, was asked. The panel wasn’t 100% sure…but an audience member was certain. Bruce Craig worked on the film 40 years ago doing sound special effects work out of a studio (Mirrophonic) at King and Spadina streets in Toronto. The scream was also a mix of their receptionist’s screams! He talked fondly about mixing the film while Bob Clark bounced his new bride on his knee. Bruce also remembered being scared at the premiere, even after seeing it so many times while editing. Bruce is also optimistic about the future. “We felt we were leading edge at that time, but with the equipment and personnel now smaller productions can have longer reaches around the world.”

What was an incredible, intimate, meeting of these wonderful Black Christmas alumni, also turned out to be a great discussion about the Canadian film industry. That is something that we can truly be proud of.

Nathan Fleet is an award winning filmmaker / composer and is the director of the 10th annual Hamilton Film Festival and the organizer of the 1st annual Hamilton Film Expo.


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ShockTreatment!   In this ongoing SHOCK column, editor Chris Alexander muses on classic and contemporary films and music worthy of a deeper discussion.


One of the rarest of lycanthrope-centric films is the unfortunately late, Oscar-winning British cinematographer (David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN) and noted horror filmmaker (DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT) Freddie Francis’ little discussed1975 Hammer-esque wolfman shocker LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF. And really, I have to ask why it’s so obscure, because the movie is rather fantastic.

As the films’ star Peter Cushing (whose work here is first rate as always) so helpfully explains in LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF’s weird opening sequence, it has been said that the beasts of the forest shall watch over and protect human children on Christmas Eve, because, well, their forefathers and mothers did it for Jesus, so if they didn’t do it too they’d be jerks. This bit of made up myth provides credibility for the ensuing tale of poor little Etoile, a baby who, after his immigrant parents are chomped on by a pack of starving wolves, is inexplicably adopted by the now sated pack. He grows up like a sort of lupine Tarzan, a wild untamed thing who is eventually ‘rescued’ by a sleazy carny (the amazing, wild eyed actor Hugh Griffith from, among many, many other fine films, Ben Hur) and top billed in his skid row circus as the feral ‘Wolf Boy’. Eventually Etoile grows into a strapping young lad (played by veteran actor David Rintoul who recently appeared in Polanski’s excellent thriller THE GHOST WRITER) who makes the rather startling discovery that, when under pressure of full moon, he grows fangs, sprouts fur, pops his shirt and end up looking a lot like Oliver Reed did in Terrance Fisher’s 1961 Hammer horror classic CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.


In fact Jimmy Evans’s Roy Ashton-esque make up schemes for Etoile’s furry face and transformations and the idea of a Christmas curse aren’t the only things that recall that admittedly superior film. See, Etoile ends up ditching his promising career as a rabid roustabout and flees to late 19th century Paris (the Fisher film was based on Guy Endore’s novel “The Werewolf Of Paris” and both pics were penned by Anthony Hinds, under his pseudonym John Elder) where he gets a gig working at a zoo run by OLIVER! heavy Ron Moody and falls in love with a beautiful whore, a woman who – like Reed’s squeeze in CURSE- seems to temper his inner lycanthrope. Of course all goes sour when a jealous Etoile turns wolfy and rips the throats out of the local bordello’s patrons (complete with red optical effects, the kind that Francis was fond of playing with) and it falls on the narrow shoulders of Peter Cushing, here playing an intrepid police pathologist, to line Etoile’s homicidal cloud with a sweet silver lining.

LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF was produced by Tyburn Films, a tiny, short-lived UK studio founded by Francis’s son Kevin and one that sought to capitalize on Hammer’s massive, decade spanning, international success. Problem was, by 1974 Hammer Horror was already passé and, after one more picture (1975’s fine John Hurt/Ian McCulloch vehicle THE GHOUL) took a permanent dive.

In Canada (where I was born, raised and still live) a little budget video distro outfit called Interglobal Home Video (which I raved about HERE) ended up distributing LEGEND in the 1980’s. I bought that VHS cassette for $10 at a local Kmart and I’m certainly glad I did. Because I’ve never, ever seen the film legitimately available in any other format on these shores. Needless to say, I treasure my copy…

Though hampered by its low budget, and aforementioned plot familiarity, and though its not necessarily Francis’s best work (though it’s about a gazillion times better than his worst film, 1970’s awesomely insane caveman vs. Joan Crawford opus TROG) -LEGEND is a well paced, blackly humorous, creepy and oh-so-very British slice of rough-around-the -edges, modestly budgeted Gothic horror. And Hammer vet Harry Robinson’s brash, often romantic score amplifies the production value considerably.

You should find it. That beaten up tape of mine has seen the insides of no less than 7 VCR’s and it still goes strong, it still pulls it’s LP recorded weight with blood dripping, hairy backed finesse and flesh shredding, electro-magnetic grace. A muddy rip of that VHS is on YouTube and it’s a perfectly acceptable (though faded and fuzzy) version to at least get the sense of the film. Here’s hoping someone cleans this wonderful little flick up and dresses it up for Blu-ray someday…

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