HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS PART II (2020)

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IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS PART II (2020)

In Search of Darkness was a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from producer/creator Robin Block and writer/director David A. Weiner and you’d think after that lengthy runtime, they’d have said all there was to say about horror of that era…you’d be delightfully wrong. The 80s was a prolific time for horror and filmmaker David A. Weiner and his parade of interviewees are back for another four plus hours of in-depth coverage and this time, profiles some of the more obscure films, as well as, some of the classics that got left out in the last documentary.

Sequel documentary follows the format of the first one, covering each year of the decade and some of the films made during that that year. Weiner and his illustrious guests also cover sub-genres of 80s horror, such as nature run amok, Italian horror, Hong Kong horror, horror/comedy, kid centric horror and even acting techniques, while discussing another host of classics, cult classics and hilarious misfires, from the most prolific decade in horror. They even cover horror video games! Once again we get scenes from a vast number of films, including some of the more lesser known flicks like The Boogens, The Being, Alone in the Dark and even Don Dohler’s Nightbeast. A lot of the interview subjects return from the previous part, such as Robert Englund, Barbara Crampton, Kane Hodder and Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, but we also get some new perspectives like those of actors Robert Rusler, Gedde Watanabe, Clancy Brown, Nancy Allen, director Jackie Kong and rocker/wrestler Chris Jericho, for example. Actors, directors, FX legends, along with contemporary horror critics and bloggers, all provide their own point of view. As with the last installment, the mix of 80s personalities with some of the new generation horror fans, who have embraced the horror films of this decade, makes for a nice variety of perspectives. The stories from filmmakers and actors of the time are a lot of fun and informative, as are the tales of discovery and analysis from the new generation of horror lovers, such as Daily Dead’s Managing Editor Heather Wixson. The documentary even covers some more controversial subjects, such as the proliferation of gore and violence, nudity, sex and the extensive use of rape scenes as plot devices in numerous films. No tombstone goes uncovered. It’s a wonderful retrospective that really does not feel as long as it is and is delightfully uncensored in both scenes shown and commentary made by it’s multitude of guests.

As with the last In Search of Darkness, four and 1/2 hours sounds like a daunting sit to do all at once…not that you have to…but if you are a fan of these movies, or someone who is old enough to have been in a theater seat during this awesome decade of horror, then it is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. This second chapter…and yes, we’d sit through a third!… is almost more interesting and involving, as it covers some of the more obscure titles and foreign films, so even the most hardcore horror fanatic might see footage, or hear of a title, for the first time. A must watch for horror fans of any age and a sequel that is an equal in some ways and surpasses it’s predecessor in others. As said before, bring on In Search of Darkness part III!

Both documentaries are available on Blu-ray for a brief time at https://80shorrordoc.com/ and the first documentary can be watched on Shudder.

MZNJ PERSONAL NOTE: Being old enough to have been in a theater for a lot of these flicks, not only did this documentary sequel, once again, take me back to my favorite era of movies, but actually brought to my attention a couple of flicks I missed. Bravo Robin Block and David A. Weiner!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

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IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner and producer/creator Robin Block. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.

The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.

Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.

 

 

 

 

 

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“PARANORMAL ACTIVITY : THE GHOST DIMENSION” GETS A TRAILER!

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What is being proclaimed as the final chapter in this series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension finally has a trailer. Sources say this flick will answer all the open questions, be partially in 3D and bring this successful found footage series to a conclusion. While these films have divided horror fans down the middle, I personally have had fun with them and hope this ends the series on a high note.

Of the new film, producer Jason Blum said… “It’s coming to an end. This is it, the finale. We’re saying it before the movie opens. We’re not going to grind this horror franchise into the ground. This will keep Paranormal Activity as part of this culture and this particular time in a really fantastic way…All the questions that everyone has asked from the past Paranormal Activity films: What does Toby look like? What’s the backstory to the families? These questions have been teased out. Now they will be answered.”

And of the plot… “a new family, the Fleeges — father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) — who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them – including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.”

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is slated to open in theaters 10/23/2015!

-MonsterZero NJ

Sources:  ShockTillYouDrop/Youtube/USA Today

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY’S KATIE FEATHERSTON IS A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY!

 

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I’ll admit I’m not the biggest country music fan but, I am a huge fan of actress Katie Featherston and here she teams with country crooner Bart Crow playing a wife who doesn’t take any sass from her man, in the singer’s new music video “If I Go, I’m Going”!… And as a proud metal head, I gotta say it’s not a bad tune! Check it out at the link!…

http://www.cmt.com/videos/bart-crow/1062403/if-i-go-im-goin.jhtml?xrs=share_copy_email

source:Twitter/CMT

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

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I thought I’d wrap up my recent look back at the Paranormal Activity sequels… as well as a review of the new Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones with a look back not only at the first sequel/prequel Paranormal Activity 2, but with a review of an unofficial direct sequel made in Japan called Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

Not often do sequels live up to the original… and this sequel doesn’t quite rate an equal… but Paranormal Activity 2 does a good job of keeping up with it’s predecessor well enough. Director Tod Williams uses your familiarity with the first chiller to mess with you and up the ante on the goose-bump factor. He knows when you’ll expect something and more importantly, when you’re not. PA2  is cleverly written and is a nice companion piece to the original as it is both sequel and prequel, fitting with the original like an adjoining puzzle piece. This film involves Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland) and step-daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) as they welcome new baby boy Hunter (Jackson and William Prieto) into the house. Soon after the baby’s arrival, the house is broken into and strange things start to occur. In response, Daniel has security camera’s installed while Ali starts to carry a camera around with her everywhere, thus keeping in line with the found footage format as we are allegedly watching that footage. Daniel refuses to believe what Ali and Kristi are starting to suspect, that they have another new arrival, other than the infant son, and this one isn’t as cute and sweet.

Paranormal Activity 2 takes place, mostly, 2 months before the first film, allowing for appearances from Micah (Micah Sloat)and Katie (Katie Featherston) and it explains a bit more as to why these occurrences are happening and how it wound up at Micah and Katie’s house a few months later. And without giving anything away, PA2’s timeline does catch up to it’s predecessor during a final act which had the preview audience screaming almost non stop. Which is why these flicks are best seen with an audience. To reveal any more would ruin a fun and spooky follow-up and for fans of this series, it is exactly that. The cast all do good work and come across as a family and I found the Rey’s quite likable and that helps your concern for them and it was fun to see Micah and Katie again too. PA2 won’t convert those who didn’t appreciate Oren Peli’s original scare-fest, but for those that did, it’s a sequel that smartly remains familiar enough to it’s source yet, shakes things up just enough to satisfy and entertain. Well done! Also stars Vivis Cortez as the Latino housekeeper with a handy knowledge of the supernatural.

PERSONAL RANT: I respect that a lot of people don’t hold this sequel in the same regard I do, but one of the things that annoys me is that the detractors always go to the ‘haunted pool cleaner’ as a major argument point. If they were paying attention, there is a scene where Daniel clearly demonstrates to Ali and Kristi that the pool cleaner is simply malfunctioning. So it is not possessed, it’s a red herring and helps to further serve Daniel’s disbelief that there is anything supernatural going on. I respect opposing opinions, but picking on and twisting points that are clearly explained just to further your viewpoint, not so much.

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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BONUS REVIEW

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night is an unofficial Japanese made sequel to Paranormal Activity where brother Koichi (Aoi Nakamura) is…for some reason (maybe it was explained, but the subtitles on the print I saw were pretty poor) using a camera to document while he cares for his injured sister Haruka (Noriko Aoyama), who is wheelchair bound. When strange things begin to happen around the house, the brother continues to document as the paranormal bumps in the night escalate and it becomes clear there is something malevolent in their home. And since his sister was injured while in the US in an accident involving the demon possessed Katie from Paranormal Activity, is this any surprise?

Despite the new setting, the addition of Japanese spiritual culture and making the antagonists brother and sister, Japanese offspring of Peli’s runaway hit is basically made from the same formula and is practically a remake of PA1. Writer/director Toshikazu Nagae does deliver some amusing bits…including using a split screen effect as the siblings have separate bedrooms and thus a camera in each, so you have to keep an eye on two rooms at once…and it does have a few spooky moments…including a creepy hospital set ending…but everything is just too familiar to make it anything more then just a curiosity for fans of this series and it sure won’t recruit any new ones. In an odd way it does fit in, to a degree, with the rest of the series, so if you are a completest, you may want to seek this out. To my knowledge there was never any legal action by the Paranormal Activity creators or Paramount Pictures, but maybe they found it as mildly amusing and ultimately harmless as I did.

2 and 1/2 spooks!

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PA2: Tokyo Night also follows the Paranormal Activity series’ tradition of cuties for leading ladies with Noriko Aoyama…

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

I know this sequel gets a lot of negative heat thrown it’s way but, as a fan of this series, I have to say I liked Paranormal Activity 4 to a degree. It’s the weakest entry in the series so far, and is low on scares but, I still had spooky fun with it and the last act delivered some goods. I think there still is enough of what fans like about this series to entertain but, next entry better start cranking things up and taking risks as this 4th chapter is showing some major signs of a franchise running out of steam. This entry opens up in 2011. A family in Nevada gets new neighbors across the street, a strange boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) and his single mom, Katie (Katie Featherston). When his mom is suddenly taken to the hospital, the family takes creepy Robbie in. Once he is settled into their home, teen Alex (Kathryn Newton) starts to notice strange occurrences as Robbie befriends her little brother, Wyatt (Aiden Lovecamp) and so, she and boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) set up cameras and set the household laptops to record to get to the bottom of things that are going bump in the night…and bump in the day, too. Soon Alex begins to believe Robbie is not the only new occupant in the house and this spectral guest is far from a friendly ghost. The first act seems to be a bit choppy… though the director’s cut does flow better and adds a few fun bits… and there are a few odd edits throughout… such as one character being dragged out of their room and then suddenly on their feet, laptop in hand and apparently unharmed in the very next scene like it never happened… and it is also in act 1 in which the film has it’s strongest feeling of déjà vu but, things start to pick up steam during the middle act and the movie really starts to click and become more it’s own thing. Then the third act locks in and delivers the goods up to and including the spine-chilling climax. Sure, along the way there are some familiar elements but, you wouldn’t remove Jason’s hockey mask would you? There were enough new wrinkles in my book to keep things going, as well as, some subtle hints as to where the mythos might be headed. Not to mention a surprising reveal, too… although I admit it poses more questions then it answers. The cast are all fine. The parents (Alexondra Lee and her real-life husband actor Stephen Dunham who sadly passed away the month before this was released) get the least screen time and character development but, the teens are very likable, Newton and Shively work well together and give the flick a sort of Scooby Doo vibe, Newton especially is a strong heroine, Lovecamp’s Wyatt is sweet and Allen’s Robbie is very creepy. Series regular Katie Featherston gets a bigger role then last time around and without spoiling things, I liked how the character was used and Katie Featherston did a good job with her role. All in all there is some definite ‘been there done that’ and some wear and tear on the formula but, I think fans will enjoy this entry enough to want more and that’s what the filmmakers will have to deliver next time to keep this series going. It’s time to really take some chances and give us something to really bite our nails over. Paranormal Activity 4 is a nice snack to hold us over till then but, it’s time for Katie and company to give us a full meal of new frights and new surprises as PA4 admit-tingly does appear more like something put together just to keep us busy till they come up with something really solid. This series needs a second wind if it is to survive.

3 generous spooks!

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The infamous trailer which includes a lot of spooky scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut or directors cut… the film was edited up to the last minute before release and sadly some of these bits didn’t make the released print. Shame, because some of it looks better than the sequences we got and I personally think a lot of the negativity this flick gets is a product of the disappointment of not getting stuff that the trailers advertised…

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

I like the Paranormal Activity series. It’s a minimalist smoke and mirrors approach that let’s your imagination conjure up a good deal of the scares and a pleasant change from some of the more gruesome stuff I love and entertain myself with. But, with a third installment, the question is, can they keep the formula fresh and your imaginations properly manipulated? The answer is yes! PA3 directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman (directors and writers of the indie hit Catfish) take the reins and take us back to 1988 when sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) are little girls and all the bumps in the night began. And these two know how to manipulate the formula and crank it up while also adding some welcome humor to the mix. Where 1 & 2 were a slow burn, PA3 starts almost immediately. When strange noises start to occur and Kristi starts talking to an imaginary friend, their single mom Julie’s (Lauren Bittner) boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith), a wedding videographer, sets up cameras in the house to capture what’s going on and… we all know what comes next…and the makers of PA3 are counting on it. They know we know what to expect and when and cleverly use that against us. That and they use a fantastic gimmick involving a camera mounted on an oscillating fan base and with it Joost and Schulman take us on a roller-coaster ride of delightfully scary fun.You literally sit there eyes darting all about the frame trying to anticipate where the next scare is coming. And Joost and Schulman lure you in every time. In the film’s final act we do go into slightly new territory for this series and in some truly bone chilling sequences get an idea as to why Katie and family are targeted by this malevolent force. To say anymore would spoil an extremely nerve-wracking and nail biting climax that is as haunting as it is revealing. Most of the cast are new and perform well, especially the little girls who really handle their difficult roles with surprisingly strong performances while Bittner and Smith make a very real and charming couple. We like this bunch and therefor care about them. Series star Katie Featherston also does appear briefly as adult Katie, as does Sprague Grayden as Kristi, which helps us better link this with the previous two flicks. The FX are minimal as usual but, really effective and the POV camera style still works just fine with a little suspension of disbelief. A fun addition to the series and while I do understand why they don’t appeal to everyone, I have a good time with these, especially in a packed movie house where horror movies should be seen. The home media release includes a director’s cut that is a bit longer and has some amusing bits added in.

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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KATIE FEATHERSTON REVEALS MORE THEN JUST HER COMEDIC SIDE!

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You know by now that we around here are big fan’s of Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston and would love to see this under-appreciated actress get the roles she deserves. Katie recently appeared in a segment of an ongoing comedy web series about a 12 step program to help the loved ones of aspiring actors deal with their significant others’ chosen profession. In this skit Katie plays the wife of a wannabe actor trying to get the attention of her spouse… and this talented lady sure got ours! Check it out…

Source: Youtube

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: KATIE FEATHERSTON

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This installment of Halloween Hotties takes a look at the paranormally beautiful and very talented Katie Featherston, a girl next door from the lone star state of Texas who has been capturing our hearts and scaring us out of our wits in the Paranormal Activity movie series.

click on the highlighted links to read a review of Paranormal Activity featured here recently in our Date Movie column at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse! And click HERE for a more in depth look at Katie’s character in our Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls expose’ of some of Horror’s recent femme fatales. And for fans of her co-star Micah Sloat, we take a look at his character here!

KATIE FEATHERSTON

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Texas born Katie Featherston has long dreamed of being actress. She studied acting at Southern Methodist University graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts… beauty as well as brains… and headed out to L.A. to seek her dream like many other acting hopefuls. Answering an ad, she auditioned for a role, along with another aspiring young actor named Micah Sloat, for first time filmmaker Oren Peli’s supernatural themed thriller, Paranormal Activity. Peli liked the dynamic between Katie and Micah and the rest is history. The actors where paid around $500 each for a week’s work where they would not only be doing a lot of the filming themselves, but improvising most of their dialog as well for the now classic found footage haunting flick. The film became a huge hit after gathering a reputation playing film festivals and Katie’s character has now appeared in all 3 smash hit sequels with another on the horizon… though her participation is being kept secret as always, we can only hope she will haunt us again in PA5. But fans may not know that Katie was also in 2 other low budget horror flicks before Paranormal Activity hit big. She played a rescued victim of a serial killer in the 2006 low budgeter Mutation and the loving girlfriend of the main character in the gory Psychic Experiment which finally got a recent release and made good use of Miss Featherston’s star power featuring her prominently on the movie art despite her role being a supporting one. Katie also recently had a multi episode role in Oren Peli’s supernatural found footage TV series The River as a camerawoman on an ill-fated expedition. Paranormal Activity is now considered a modern classic and it’s sequels are very popular all around the world and whether she’s playing an angel or a devil, her work in the horror genre makes Katie one of our favorite Halloween Hotties!
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As a potential victim of a serial killer rescued by a pursuing detective in Mutation...

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…As loving girlfriend Elsbeth in Psychic Experiment

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…in a quieter moment as ‘Katie’ before all hell breaks loose in Paranormal Activity… 

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…under the thrall of a supernatural fiend in Paranormal Activity’s chilling last act…

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…looking adorable with the equally cute Sprague Grayden who plays sister Kristi in PA3…

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… as “Rabbitt” an ill-fated documentary crew member in Oren Peli’s short lived TV show The River…

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… stalking her prey in Paranormal Activity 4

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…and as herself, a beautiful and talented young woman we’d like to see a lot more of!

BONUS: watch this very funny skit as Katie pokes fun at PA‘s effect on her auditions…

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard, Alexandra DaddarioKatrina Bowden, Briana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

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