FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Water Perils!

Water Perils! by Kristin Battestella

If you aren’t afraid of water, you may be after these moist movies and wet frights.

Cowabunga!

The Reef Sunrises and sunsets, stunning blue water panoramas, and lovely reef life create coastal bliss for this 2010 Australian fright loosely based on a true story. Shark teeth foreshadowing, statistics about the likelihood of shark attacks, and an inexperienced crewman aboard invoke the ominous to come alongside natural water fears, racing to beat the tide, trouble raising the anchor, and leaky rafts. Capsizing thuds, flooding, and underwater hectic don’t need any herky jerky action cam as the innate water movement makes the audience feel like we are there amid the missing keel, sinking hull, no supplies, and outdated distress beacon. It’s frightening when viewers can just make out the shark silhouette beneath the surface for themselves, but headless turtle shocks and false suspense moments go for cheap thrills. Instead of keeping us on edge with every chop in the water, over the top music tells the audience when something bad is happening.

Unlikable characters inspire little conflict amid a lot of childhood friends and lookalike blonde cliches – they are completely unprepared for any aquatic disaster and there’s no sense of ocean vast, the slow passage of time on the water, sunstroke, or thirst. These helpless followers holidaying on this deliver the yacht job are also over reliant on their macho, supposedly world water traveling leader who messes up tide times, can’t find north, and thinks they can maybe swim to an island perhaps twelve miles away. Wishy washy, don’t know they are in a horror movie stupidity compounds the uneven pacing as the strong girl, suddenly in tears, stays behind while others risk this uncertain swim before she changes her mind thirty seconds later so they wait in the possibly shark infested seas. The women rightfully call out the guy who orchestrated the trip under false pretenses before apologizing that its not his fault but yes it is. Weak men say they are tired and laugh over sex stories, breaking the swimming scenes to stop and stand on reef rocks rather than shape any kind of epic endurance risk.

Fortunately, seeing the nonchalant great white cruising past the hysterical people as they flounder and panic both justifies the yell at the television aspects and makes the viewer recoil. Mirage visions of land and thought they saw something paranoia frays the group as one by one they must leave the dead behind in the ocean. The fatal attacks are well done, and eventually – disturbingly – those remaining can see land but can’t get to it. Despite loose characterizations and an uneven narrative in need of taut focus – again all the negatives in low budget horror appear due to one writer/director wearing too many hats – overall this is well filmed with several quality sequences featuring fine scenery and practical shark work perfect for a late night scarefest.

You Make the Call, Addicts!

Black RockChildhood friends Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush) and Lake Bell (Boston Legal) revisit a Maine island with co-star/director Katie Aselton (The League) in this 2012 survival tale from writer Mark Duplass (of the 2014 Creep). Hip music, packing inventories, and crass jokes join the scenic drive to the horrors, but one has invited the other two ladies without telling each one, lies about having cancer, and admits she wants an we’re all dying anyway last hurrah.

Fortunately, the speedboat, cold water, and barren coast are already chilling as the women revisit a childhood map with old forts and time capsules. There are no distinguishing characteristics such as jobs or even last names, but it’s easy to see why the two similar brunettes dislike each other – none of them really seem like friends but they go along with their pushy blonde leader anyway.

Despite tough hiking and mosquito complaints one brunette can’t get over the other sleeping with her douche boyfriend six years ago. They shout and nearly come to blows as the blonde between them insists she isn’t taking sides just as she confers with one and not the other. Instead of discussing their problems, the conversation is of men and childhood lesbian crushes amid try hard cursing every other word.

Of course, there are three suspicious dishonorably discharged soldiers turned hunters on this island and the women are obviously their game. Fireside flirtations with drunken blow job talk reveal the once shy brunette as a tease liking attention who thinks a make out session will suffice. Unfortunately, these guys don’t play by the rules or take no for an answer, and assault becomes a typical plot point as each trio falls into bullying peer pressure from its strong arming leader. Our sexually dominate alpha male has a meek black follower and his white pal is perhaps so in love with his commander that he is impotent without the rifle he uses against the women. Rather than exploring catty women snapping in the isolated horror, men hit and bind them while the helpless girls say they fear rape – putting the sexual violence back in the minds of the weak trying to prove they are real men.

Though directed by a woman with an understanding of shit men, this is written by her husband as a male fantasy. These women are called cunt slut bitch and said to be getting their deserved symbolic impalings and kicks in the crotch for denying the superior war-fighting male his pleasure. Graphic gunshots, action filming, and chases in the woods are well done, and up close camerawork draws in the fear or intimidation. However, the mixed message on whether the violent men or the teasing woman is at fault takes away from the tense women’s point of view.

The jealous blonde insists they can’t escape and dislikes her previously at odds pals working together when they don’t need her to fight back – which becomes more male viewer titillation as the lookalikes strip off their wet clothes, panties and all, in the itchy woods with killer men in pursuit! The brash gal with the masculine nickname quivers as her once meek pal slaps her, and the cheek to cheek, heavy breathing, and hair pulling is almost sex scene coy. They walk around in the woods naked, bonding while making spears, yet for all the girl power, this becomes less about defending oneself over an assault and more about two women psyching each other up to slit a guy’s throat. Instead of a horror movie by women, for women, this becomes a bizarre he said, she said. It’s worth a viewing discussion, but it skews toward male tropes disguised as a women’s piece.

Versus

Lake EerieA widow moves to a too good to be true lakeside house in this 2016 ghost and genre bender. The white chic and bright windows should be quaint, but creepy furniture, old pictures, phonographs, and 1969 décor draft an increasingly spooky atmosphere. Old archaeology, retro phones, and voices on the radio add more bizarre while no cell reception, power outages, and doors opening or closing by themselves escalate the tension. Ghostly winds blowing out the candles and phantom figures in the hallway make not knowing where everything is and searching for the matches or kitchen knife heavy – simple but effective fears amid sandy footprints in the house, locked drawers, and undiscovered museum relics.

Concerned dad Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead) is only in a few scenes, but quirky neighbor Betsy Baker (The Evil Dead) knows a bit too much about the forty year vacancy, experiments, ancient amulets, and Egyptian mysticism. Attic searches and nightly visions create twists, and the inter-dimensional fantastic isn’t all it seems. Exposition told rather than seen, however, becomes suspect mumbo jumbo – the fantastical technicalities, time limits, and mystic jewelry get a little too preposterous. The dark underworld finale is silly, tossing in a nonsensical maze that unravels all the spooky happenings that were doing just fine. Rocking camera pans, loud music, and ghostly POV strobes are unnecessary annoyances. Poorly delivered voiceovers contribute to the amateur acting, and rather than help hide the weak performances, the directing and editing calls attention to them. This family production certainly isn’t perfect and ends up falling apart as it goes on – it’s obvious from the start but might have enough intrigue and fun bemusement if you can take this ghost cum mystical story twist for what it is.

Press Release: Midnight Echo – Australia

MIDNIGHT ECHO TO DISTRIBUTE CEMETERY DANCE MAGAZINE/ ISSUE #9 TABLE OF CONTENTS RELEASED

Midnight Echo magazine is now the official Australian distributor of Cemetery Dance Publications, the world’s leading specialty press publisher of horror and dark suspense. “Cemetery Dance Publications is thrilled to be working with our friends at Midnight Echo to make it easier and more affordable for collectors and readers in Australia to order our books.”

Brian Freeman, Managing Editor, Cemetery Dance Publications Readers can visit the Midnight Shop page on the ME website to see all the titles now available, or to place a pre-order for upcoming books: Midnight Echo Magazine Shop

“For those living in Australia, this deal means you no longer have to pay the expensive international shipping costs when you order CD books. And don’t forget that you can also order the latest copy of Dark Discoveries magazine from us, too,” ME Executive Editor Marty Young said. “Also, it’s party time in the Midnight offices as the goblins release the Table of Contents for the upcoming Midnight Echo Issue 9, edited by Geoff Brown and due for publication on May 31. “Please note we also have a few advertising spots left, so please read on for details, but you’ll need to be quick.”

The details on ME#9 are as follows:

Cover art by Mel Gannon

Interior art by Greg Chapman

The Table of Contents:

Literature

Changeling by Jonathan Maberry

Black Train Blues by James A Moore

Black Peter by Martin Livings

The Road by Amanda J Spedding

Coffee Rings by Kristin Dearborn

The Wee Folk by JG Faherty

From the Forebears by Steven Gepp

Little Boy, Little Girl, Lost in the Woods by Mark Patrick Lynch

The Fathomed Wreck to See by Alan Baxter

Poetry ganesh by Talie Helene

Comic Allure of the Ancients: The Key to His Kingdom – story by Mark Farrugia, illustrations by Greg Chapman

Special Features The Mythology of Mid-World by Robin Furth (non-fiction) Russian Field of Mysteries by Tony Vilgotsky (non-fiction) An Interview with Jonathan Maberry An Interview with Mel Gannon Regular Features A Word from the AHWA President – Geoff Brown Tartarus – Danny Lovecraft (poetry column) Pix and Panels – Mark Farrugia (comic column) Black Roads, Dark Highways #4 – Andrew McKiernan (column) Sinister Reads (all the latest releases from AHWA members) Pre-orders for the limited print edition are now being taken. Please visit http://www.midnightechomagazine.com for full details.

Eleven Questions with Graphic Artist – Shane Ryan

Below is an interview done with Australian Graphic Artist Shane Ryan. He was kind enough to answer some questions and sent a long some samples of his work.  I hope you enjoy the insight into Shane’s work and his mind.  Be sure you check out the four pieces of his art that he shared with us at Horror Addicts within this post.

Q1. As your website states you have been creating your works since you’ve been able to hold a pencil in your little “claws”. Can you remember what that first drawing was and how did your family react when you showed it to them?

A:  I can’t recall one specific piece really, as far as I remember all my drawings were of a dark nature, the fact that everything I’d draw was horror related did cause some concern for my parents when I first started, but lucky for me they knew someone studying to be a psychologist, after he told them they had nothing to worry about I was free to draw as many horrible images as my little dark heart desired. The only people who took some convincing I wasn’t a Michael Myers in disguise were my school teachers. Can’t say I blame them, when you flip through my old school books they start with pages full of school work, page by page though the school work was gradually consumed by collages of monstrous creatures and hideous scenes of horror, to them it probably appeared as if I had been possessed by evil spirits, in truth I just had an overriding passion for art and not much of a liking for Math’s and English class.

Q2. People wait for that moment when they get confirmation that their work is being excepted by a broad audience. Do you remember that moment and the image?

A:  For me it was a series of events which sealed the deal, which have only taken place over the last 5 years. Firstly winning an open fantasy art competition that was open Australia wide, considering the event was aimed more at fantasy art rather than horror I must admit I was quite surprised when I received the call the next day that I’d been picked for the judges award, next was being featured by Fangoria and finally having my piece Chaos Factory accepted into the group show Damned II in the U.S. Having my work in a group show with so many renowned dark artists’ including one of my early inspirations (H.R.Giger) was the icing on the cake.

Q3. During your career have there ever been moments that you felt like this was the wrong line of work? If so, what kept you going, and what is the job you would be doing? If never an issue what has kept your drive alive?

A:  In the early stages it was honestly fairly daunting, there was a number of times I questioned whether I’d made the right decision pursuing a career in the arts or not, it’s got to be better than working as a labourer in construction though and that’s what I was doing before I started art full time. What helped me to keep going is overtime I’ve come to realize that making a career from your art is like a long steep climb up a treacherous mountain with many wrong turns and pitfalls.  I’ve learnt to accept that the highs and lows are all part of the game so I tend to not let the negative parts get to me and just concentrate on hiking up that mountain, at least through trial and error I’ve got better at choosing the right path most of the time and learn’t how to avoid the pitfalls a bit better.
Q4. As you work on your art do you find yourself often having to correct an error, or toss a piece out as the image does not go the way you want?

A:  There’s always things that need to be adjusted as you work to bring the whole piece together, all the elements of an image need to work as one and this sometimes calls for quite a bit of tinkering before you nail it. I started drawing using ball point pens and from that developed the handy ability to be able to change or cover up my mistakes or make any changes I need to, most of the time anyway. On the rare occasion I find myself working on a piece that I feel isn’t going to work the way I planned I either try and take it down a different path which is how some of my best works have been created or I keep it and use it for reference for when I attempt the piece again, it’s an artist’s mistakes that teach them the way to do something right after all so it’s always a good idea to keep them rather then throw them out, plus it gives you a better idea of how your work is evolving if you keep it all, the good and the bad.

Q5. As you grew up did you have artists that you inspired to follow?

A:  Earlier on I had many artist’s that inspired me including H.R.Giger, Todd McFarlane, Clive Barker to name a few, as I started to experiment with my own style and techniques more in my early teens I began to make a conscience effort to not be influenced by other artist’s and over the years I’ve made it a priority to develop my own unique visual voice rather than allowing my work to be influenced by others.

Q6. Have you been able to meet any of these artists over the years?

A:  Unfortunately not in person no, being based in Australia there’s not a great lot of opportunity to. I have met and had dealings with many peers and industry people online through social networking and aim to catch up with a number of them in person when I eventually hit the U.S. hopefully sometime soon to work on some film projects that are possibly on the horizon.

Q7. Where do you get your inspiration from for your artwork?

A:  I take inspiration from a whole range of things including, music, films, criminal psychology and news reports. But again I try not to draw concepts that are influenced to directly by whatever has inspired the piece I’m working on, I try to use forms of inspiration to set the mood of the work without being a direct influence on the piece. Although I don’t really find I need to take inspiration from outside my own imagination these days, I guess you could say after three decades of conjuring up horror images I have more than enough macabre imagery stored away in this imagination of mine to use it for inspiration.

Q8. Due to the dark imagery you create has there ever been a case that a work has brought you, or possibly a fan to have nightmares?

A:  I quite often have dreams of zombie outbreaks and killer hill billies but I’d have to say I draw more from my dreams then the other way around. I had a dream with some really bizarre creatures the other night actually that I’m going to use, I’ve done a few sketches of them but as yet haven’t got them quite right, like I said their bizarre and not like anything I’ve drawn or seen before. As for a fan having a nightmare about my work I can’t really say I’ve heard of any, perhaps none have lived to tell the tale.

Q9. Do you as an artist have a dream job, or showcase you wish you could have?

A:  I’d love to host a haunted attraction over ran by my dark creations here in Australia, there’s next to no haunted attractions here and there should be I say, plus seeing my work bring the fear factor up to 11 first hand would be awesome. My life time goal is to eventually build up a horror company covering all forms of creative horror,  art and design, film production, music, figurines. As for show cases I’d love the opportunity to one day have an exhibition at Giger’s Gallery nothing else would be that.

Q10. If you could write your own eulogy, what is the one thing besides your art would you like to be known for?

A:  I’d like to be remembered as someone who helped get other people get into the industry and also for introducing the world to a number of unknown horror artists, including my nephew, when it comes to art he’s definitely following in my footsteps, he’s going to be better than me one day I can see it. I’d like to leave a bread crumb trail along that treacherous mountain path (art career) for him to follow. Basically I’d like to be known as someone who helped people turn their dreams into reality, that’s a legacy I’d like to leave.

Q11. Lastly any little secrets you want to share, like maybe you have a secret love for My Little Ponies or other cute type of things?

A:  Do they make Living Dead Ponies? Honestly I’d say about as cutesy as I go is Ren and Stimpy, that’s about as light relief as I need. Other than that it’s Horror, horror and horror for me, always has been always will be, does that make me a Horror Addict?
Where to find Shane on the Web:

Gallery and store at www.graphichorror.com
Available for all types of horror art projects, film, music, posters, anything as long as it’s Horrible.
Contact with enquiries through the site or
http://www.facebook.com/graphichorror.com
http://www.twitter.com/graphichorror