Fantastic Fest Review: ‘The American Scream’


Posted by:

One day per year there is a holiday wherein kids can be kids and adults can…be kids too.  This is a holiday enjoyed equally by all ages. That holiday, of course, is Halloween!  Candy, costumes, and celebrations abound! For some it’s a day to be scared, but for others it’s a day to SCARE! And what better scare medium is there than a haunted house?  The American Scream is all about the scare; all about the people that create those haunted houses.

The American Scream is the product of Michael Stephenson , creator of the universally loved Best Worst Movie. Set in the small town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, this documentary tells tells the story of three unique families who spend months preparing for an event that has a single day’s payoff. We have an obsessive-compulsive computer systems manager, a father-son team, and a construction worker. Each of these families has a unique vision of what a haunted house should be, and during the film we watch them implement their distinct visions.

This movie provides a unique insight into how complicated and detail intensive these haunted house constructions can be. A person wanting to construct his or her own haunted house must have a multitude of skills. You must have the eye of an artist, design skills of an architect, the steady hand of a carpenter and the constitution of Rasputin. It take a special person to be a “house haunter” as they are called.

Fantasic Fest Review: ‘American Mary’


Posted by:

American Mary Fantastic Fest 2012Mary Mason is a surgical student with financial problems. In order to solve these problems, she answers a advertisement looking for a “dancer”. Arriving at a grungy strip club, Mary meets Billy Barker, the manager of this fine establishment. As Billy is checking out Mary’s “wares”, a problem develops in the basement of his club. He returns and immediately and offers Mary a quick $5,000 in cash for some help. The job ? Patching up a thug with razor cuts extending the length of his body. Job completed, Mary returns home where she is immediately contacted by an affiliate of Billy’s. The job this time is body modification and the price tag is $10,000. Mary is no longer a starving student but a entrepreneur with a successful side business.

Soon after, Mary’s instructors take interest in her and invite her to a party being thrown by a bunch of doctors. It does not take long to realize that Mary is out of her element, and soon after she is the victim of rape at the hands of  her surgery instructor. From this point forward Mary is a changed person. She decides to drop out of school and enter the world of body modification full time.

Sins of Omission: ‘Psycho’ (1960)


Posted by:

These are sins before horror. I am here to make amends.

Welcome to the new Sins of Omission column here at Horror’s Not Dead. It’s not really new, it’s just renamed. Think Tide with Color Guard; same soap, new label. This iteration is going to cover a huge sin of omission: Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho.

The Omission

Psycho is the the story of Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) a secretary who embezzles $40,000 from one of her employer’s customers. Marion makes a run for it, eventually checking into The Bates Motel, a roadside hotel owned and operated by the Bates family.  Marion is checked in by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Norman takes a liking to Marion, inviting her to dinner. Before dinner Marion hears an argument between Norman and his overbearing mother.

Soon after dinner we witness on of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema: the murder of Marion Crane in the shower. I have viewed this scene dozens if not hundreds of times, and it stands up to the test of time. A women at her most vulnerable is murdered by a complete psychopath. The remainder of the film is following Marion’s friends and family in their search for her. Eventually the family figures out what happened.

I have two reasons for my sin. First, I was not born when it was made, Psycho came out a decade before my birth. Secondly, and horrifyingly simply, I just never got around to seeing it.

Late To The Party: ‘Maniac’ (1980)


Posted by:

Maniac  is a film that has a special place in my heart. This film is memorable to me, as I have never been able to finish it. I have attempted to watch it multiple times: once as a teen and another time as a young adult. I am writing this introduction, before this viewing attempt, in order to give you an insight as to why I have not finished watching this film. From what I recall this film is very disturbing. I watched this film because of Tom Savini. I became a fan of Tom’s work watching films like Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, and The Burning. The special effects from this film are exponentially more horrific than all those others combined. I recall a slow motion shotgun blast to the head, a scalping, and in general some of the most heinous depravity ever put on film; at least these are my impressions after these many decades. Well here we go, race fans. Lets get this party started….

Maniac tells the story of Frank Zito (played by Joe Spinell ), a serial killer prowling the streets of New York with a singular purpose: kill people. The first act of the film has many of the aforementioned killings. A woman is strangled and scalped and a man, played by Savini himself, is brutally murdered via a point blank shotgun blast. As mentioned earlier, this is the point where I stopped watching the film on both previous attempts. Not this time!!!!!

Late To The Party: ‘Dead Alive’ (aka ‘Braindead’)


Posted by:

“I kick ass for the lord!” says the kung-fu master priest in Peter Jackson’s crazy ass film Dead Alive. With dialogue like that what could go wrong? In the case of Dead Alive, nothing. This film is pure pleasure and I had an absolute riot.

I have a theory that horror and comedy share a lot of similarities. My wife stares at me strangely as I laugh when someone is impaled by a kitchen implement, run over by a piece of farming machinery, or blown up in a meaty explosion. These are elements that make watching horror films fun. Dead Alive possesses many of these “quality” moments. With a proper blend of horror, action and comedy Dead Alive is a tasty jambalaya of a horror film.

Dead Alive (formerly known as Braindead) tells the story of a search for the infamous Sumatran rat-monkey. The rat monkey, a legendary creature, thought to be the result of the breeding between tree monkeys and plague rats, inhabits Skull Island, where our adventure begins. The rat-monkey is eventually located and captured, at which time it proceeds to attack the leader of the expedition. After being attacked, the expedition leader receives a rather interesting treatment for the wound (you’ll have to see it to believe it). The rat-monkey is then taken to a zoo located in 1950s Wellington New Zealand.

Late To The Party: ‘[REC]’ & ‘[REC] 2′


Posted by:


Hello everyone! Rod Paddock reporting for duty with my new column: Late to the Party. This column will be dedicated to all of the lovely horror films I have missed in my 30+ years as a horror fan.

The concept of this column was spawned last month after the SXSW film festival here in Austin. During the fest I asked fearless horror leader Brian Salisbury if he needed coverage of any horror films for HND. We boiled our choices down to two titles: [REC] 3 and V/H/S. [REC] 3 was ruled out immediately as I had seen neither [REC] nor [REC] 2. Missing those two films game me an idea for an article. Brian with his diabolic brain took it one step further lets turn this into a column. Late to the Party was born.

The Film(s)

[REC] tells the story of Angela Vidal, played by gorgeous Spanish actress Manuela Velasco. Angela is reporter for a television station in Barcelona, assigned to spend an evening following a crew from a local fire station. The klaxon sounds and our fearless news reporter, accompanied by her cameraman Pablo, sets out with the firefighters. The firefighters are responding to a call of a disturbed woman in an apartment building. Barely a minute after entering this disturbed woman’s apartment, all hell breaks loose. In a rage, the woman attacks the fire fighter sent in to help. Soon we learn that we are dealing with an issue much bigger than a single disturbed woman. As Angela and the firefighters head for the door they soon realize they are locked in. The authorities have put the building in quarantine. Over the remainder of the movie the tenants of this building are overtaken by some force/virus/malevolence reminiscent of a 28 Days Later / Dawn of the Dead mashup. There are scenes in this movie that made me jump from my chair. I love it when a movie can do that.

A few days after viewing [REC]  sat down to watch [REC] 2. [REC] 2 takes place in the immediate aftermath of [REC] and is told from the point of view of a police team sent into the same building on a rescue mission. You cannot help but be reminded of Aliens when the police officers check their helmet cams. I was waiting for someone to shout “Wake up Hicks!” The police enter the still quarantined building accompanied by a man from the environmental services department. This man seems to have knowledge of what happened in this building, only problem is he is not sharing the details of this knowledge. [REC] 2 is a well made follow up to [REC], which made for another satisfying, chair-jumping viewing. I won’t go into too many details of [REC] 2 as it would spoil the cool mystery of these two great horror films.

SXSW 2012: ‘V/H/S’ Rewinds The Fright & Resurrects Dead Formats


Posted by:

In early to mid 70’s the face of Hollywood was changed forever by a new wave of horror directors. One of these directors was Steven Spielberg who would direct episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, films like Duel and Jaws. Other members of this motley band of friends included George Lucas with his tale of a dystopian future THX-1138, and Brian De Palma with his take on Steven King’s classic, Carrie. Movie making is a collaborative effort and many times these directors collaborated and critiqued each others work.

Fast forward to 2012, where a new wave of horror directors has entered the Hollywood scene. These directors include Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Glenn McQuaid and David Bruckner. The horror output of these up and comers includes: The Signal, The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil, A Horrible Way To Die, You’re Next and I Sell The Dead. V/H/S is a film that unites these directors’ unique perspective on horror into an anthology of 5 short stories.




Recent Comments