Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Harvest Lake" Review

"Harvest Lake"

Four twentysomethings head to a cabin on a secluded lake to drink, smoke weed, and fuck. You've heard this basic set-up about a million different times in a million different horror films before, right? Well, friends, this is where the similarities from all of those generic slasher films of days past end. "Harvest Lake" is an entirely different animal.
Director Scott Schirmer ("Found"), brings together most of the talent from last year's "The Legend of Wasco" into what amounts to a creative masterpiece of indie cinema. A ferociously original script coupled with stunning cinematography, truly surreal set-pieces, a brilliant tension building sound design, and a cast delivering career defining performances elevate "Harvest Lake" head and shoulders above 99% of the current crop of modestly budgeted features.
After a disturbing opening sequence, the four friends in question, Ellie Church ("Time To Kill"), Tristan Risk ("Innsmouth"), Jason Crowe ("Easter Casket"), and Dan Nye ("The Legend of Wasco") arrive at the lake house to celebrate Josh's (Nye) birthday, and after a quick dip in the lake, things start to get weird. Like, really weird. The arrival of random camper Mark (Kevin Roach) adds another piece of the puzzle as the hallucinations, paranoia, amped up sexuality, and psychic ramblings begin to eat away at the party atmosphere.
"Harvest Lake" draws from some very lofty influences in that it combines equal parts of Cronenberg's "body horror" phase (think "Shivers" in the woods), Kubrick-esque tension, several Lovecraft elements (fear of the unknown, ancient aquatic beings, madness, and, yes...tentacles.), and lush dreamscapes reminiscent of Harvey's "Carnival of Souls". Heady stuff indeed, yet, Schirmer's script keeps the "cheese factor" at bay by not allowing the nudity and sexuality to creep into "exploitation" territory (and there's TONS of potential for gratuitous nudity here kids), and, when not keeping the entities involved in the ambiguous shadows, utilizing some truly exceptionally well done creature effects (old school bladder effects FTW!) to get the point across. That's not to say that some of the plot points aren't left enough in the dark to challenge the viewer into "filling in the blanks" so to speak, that is definitely the case here, but this is "thinking man's horror", and thank fuck for that, we need more films like this!
All of the above is meaningless, however, without talent on both sides of the camera. Brian Williams' camera work immerses the viewer into the world of "Harvest Lake" making the titular body of water and the woods surrounding it (as well as the denizens contained therein) vital characters in this twisted tale. Jason Crowe, already known as a capable actor, delivers an amazing, fearless performance here, Tristan Risk (one of the most attractive humans on the planet, as I often point out) chews up every scene she's in with a subtle vulnerability that evolves into raw sexuality as the story progresses, Ellie Church is completely fucking chilling in the last half of the film, and both Nye and Roach seem to revel in the miasma of terrifying situations their characters are thrown into. A nearly perfect ensemble performance.
"Harvest Lake" is one of those rare films that will find an audience if enough people "get it", and here's hoping it tears it up on the festival circuit, because everyone involved in this film deserves a pile of awards, trophies, certificates, free drinks, sexual favors, tee shirts, hand shakes and back pats that the indie horror scene can muster. This, friends, is the type of film and talent that deserves your support.
10/10--Scream King Tom

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Scream King's Best Of 2015

In the interest of keeping with tradition, here is my usual, lame-ass, "Best of" list for 2015--the creme de la creme of what I reviewed (although some things may not have been posted as of yet) in year 2015--so, behold... King Tom's Best of 2015 Awards




Best Film (Feature)




Runner Up-"Invalid"


Best Director (Feature)


Richard Chandler--"Gilgamesh"


Runner Up- Brandon Slagle--"House of Manson"


Best Film (Short or Anthology Segment)




Best Director (Short or Anthology Segment)


Izzy Lee-"Innsmouth"


Best Actor (Feature)


Bill Gobin-"Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh"


Runner Up-Brandon Salkil-"Invalid"


Best Actress (Feature)


Joni Durian-"Invalid"


 Runner Up-Melantha Blackthorne--"Gilgamesh"


Best Actor (Short or Anthology Segment)


Marv Blauvelt-"Snake With a Human Tail"


Best Actress (Short or Anthology Segment)


Tristan Risk-"Innsmouth"


Best Supporting Actor (Feature)


Bryan Wilson-"Chopping Block"


Runner Up-Brian Williams--"Headless"


Best Supporting Actress (Feature)


Angelina Leigh-"Reichsfuhrer SS"


Runner Up-Devanny Pinn--"House of Manson"


Best Boobs


"House of Whores"-Director--Daniel Murphy


Best Gore/Violence


"Headless"-Director--Arthur Cullipher





And that's it, until next year, you freaks!!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

Virtually anyone on social media today has seen at least one post about the death of Lemmy Kilmister. And, the World being what it is, there are quite a few people pissing and moaning about it, telling people to "get over it" and asking "who?". As a lifelong fan of the heavier side of the musical spectrum, Lemmy's death touched me on visceral level.

I remember clearly, my senior year in High School, going to see the mighty Motorhead with some older friends (courtesy of a really terrible fake I.D.) and being blown away. If Rock-n-Roll is a religion, then going to a Motorhead show is like going to church, and Lemmy was the de-facto Pope. To this day, whenever I hear that distorted bass and that croaking, raspy voice (the product of too many cigarettes and Jack Daniels) I can almost smell the liquor, leather, and greasy denim...

And that's how it is, and was, Motorhead was a HUGE part of my musical world, as a kid and as an adult. Everything about them was purely and simply ROCK. For every song with heavy subject matter you had a song that reminded you how fun Rock n Roll was. For every "Iron Fist" you had a "Love Me Like a Reptile", for every "Killed By Death" you had a "Doctor Rock" and then they'd mix everything up with a pseudo-psychedelic gem like "Capricorn". Motorhead definitely had something for everyone. That's why they had such cross over appeal, the "metal" guys loved them, the "thrash" guys respected them, and even the most hardcore punk would bob his head and smile a little when he heard "Ace of Spades" or "Bomber". And anyone who doesn't agree that "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith" is one of the finest live albums ever committed to tape needs socked in the dick!
Motorhead, as a band, is over now. Much like the Ramones, something that I thought would be there forever (and seemed like it already HAD been there forever) is gone now. With the death of Philthy Animal Taylor back in November, when the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame selection committee finally pulls their collective heads out of their asses, Fast Eddie Clarke will be the only member of the "classic" line up left to attend the induction ceremony. Which brings me to another sad fact, Motorhead sales will probably peak now with Lemmy's death! They were always a band on the fringe, who were outright copied by plenty of successful bands, that never fully "made it", and, as a testimony of his inherent "awesome", Lemmy never seemed bitter about it in interviews (even though he had every right to be). And now, after this loss, people will finally appreciate what was one of the greatest bands in history.
John Lennon (and Lemmy was a noted Beatle fan) once famously said “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry'". I'd like to amend that, and substitute "Lemmy" for "Chuck Berry" because nobody who ever drew breath was more rock-n-roll than Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister. The man played it, he lived it, he breathed it, and probably drank it with a whiskey chaser. There will never be another one like him. EVER.
He changed my life. If you're reading this, he probably changed yours.
Not bad for the front man of a band that was almost called "The Bastards"
Rest in Peace, sir.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A sequel? THAT was quick! "House of Whores 2: The Second Cumming"

Tom Komisar and Daniel Murphy are back at it again. The clown masks from "House of Whores" were barely back to room temperature and these deviants, along with AC McCray and Peter Barnone, are suited up and home-invading their way through more unsuspecting victims in this latest installment from HM&M Films.


          Kinda/sorta picking up from the first film, this time the torture happy gang of miscreants target a suburban family's birthday party (with Linda Schrader as "Kayla the Corpse" in tow) and a televangelist & his gold digging girlfriends (Cheyanne Summer and Montana Skylar).


          Much like the first film, HoW2 is thin on plot, but long on depravity. It's all covered: ball peen hammer assaults, terrible jokes, sex toys, lactation gags, even a "Dirty Sanchez", as well as all manner of atrocities visited upon porn star Riley Grey in comedic interludes. HoW2 also features more musical vignettes with horror/music personality Nurse Hatchet, suitably taken to the next level for this outing, that are both psychedelic and sexy as Hell. Actress Lindsey McIntire, another veteran from the first film, turns up this time as "Skanko", the sadistic clowns' new sidekick, complete with an ultra creepy sex doll mask and the ability to shoot lasers from'll just have to watch the film. This crime scene of an indie feature also boasts the talents of: Craig Lemons, the very hot Vergena Fields, and Eric Reaume as the pizza boy (didn't really need to see your ass, man).


          While a "franchise" like this may not be feasible beyond this second installment (but hey, never say never, right?), HoW2 hits all the right nerves and manages to be even more mean spirited and dark than it's predecessor. Definitely a guilty pleasure that often makes you feel terrible for enjoying the goings on, the flick sometimes even brings to mind the cult classic "August Underground" series of films, with it's "found footage" style, and gleeful violence. This stuff makes Pennywise look like a pussy!


          A bold new style of "Torture porn" or just a bunch of knuckleheads vicariously living through the righteously fucked up films they're making? You be the judge as you wallow waist deep into the quagmire of unspeakable acts (along with quite a few bodily fluids) splattered across your screen in "House of Whores 2: The Second Cumming"! Consider this your warning.




---Scream King Tom

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"Quit cowering in the backseat! It's just a MOVIE!!"

           Remember the Drive-in movies? My love of horror, fostered by Saturday afternoon "creature feature" viewings of "SuperHost" on WUAB 43 out of Cleveland with my late mother, was kicked up a notch at a Drive-in. At the tender age of 12, a friend's older brother took us to see a double feature of Fulci's "Zombie" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" at our local outdoor venue, so drive-ins were an important part of my horror entertainment lineage.


            Fast forward to more modern times (yeah, I'm old, so kiss my elderly ass!) and drive-ins have went the way of "pet rocks" and (thankfully) disco. Well, fret not, oh fan of the fear film, a drive-in in Shelbyville, IN is serving up two heaping fistfuls of indie horror goodness this Thursday (Sept. 10th)!


            The Skyline Drive-In (3986 E. Michigan Rd. Shelbyville, IN 46176) will be doing a rare, even for indoors, screening of two instant classics, "Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn" and "Truth or Dare" in glorious, giant, outdoor, amongst nature and shit, open-air awesomeness!! Admission is only $7, gates open at 7pm with an 8:30 showtime, and two of the lovely ladies that make "Truth or Dare" so disturbingly nasty will be on hand to schmooze and sign stuff for FREE!!


            The incomparable Jessica Cameron (who directed this splatter-fest and also stars as "Jennifer"), and the amazing Heather Dorff ("Michelle") will be in attendance, mostly likely dropping fun film facts and random observations about "Truth or Dare" and generally looking hot as all Hell.


            "Truth or Dare" is a frighteningly topical tale about fandom gone terribly wrong, and "NOTLD: Darkest Dawn" is a new take on the classic tale, completely done in CG animation, that features the talents of genre luminaries like: Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Danielle Harris, Joe Pilato, and Tom Sizemore (?).


            With this kind of awesome on hand, and HorrorHound Weekend starting the next day, just up the road in Indianapolis (featuring a HUGE "Nightmare on Elm Street" reunion among other treats), how can any self respecting gorehound stay away??


----I'm Scream King Tom, indie horror's answer to Kato Kaelin...thanks for playing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

This horror film is so EXTREME!!!

Okay, fuck this, let's call it as we see it shall we? This current glut of "Extreme" indie horror has reached a critical mass and, therefore, must be stopped before the "spoof" films start cropping up (it's inevitable, trust me...).
Granted, there are some quality examples out there, but all too often, some indie director out there seems to say "fuck plot, we gotta go further than 'A Serbian Film'!! Mix up some more entrails!".
Extreme? Bitch, please!

So, how did we get here? At what point did it become de rigueur to just come up with a kooky mask, phone in some plot points, and rush into some outlandishly done, over-the-top, slice and dice set piece (usually involving some sort of genital or anal trauma...and when the righteous fuck did that become necessary?!?!?).
From wide release world, the roots can be traced back to the "torture porn" movement. You know, shit like "Saw" and "Hostel" and the like. For a while there, it seemed like to MPAA hassles from the 80's and 90's never happened. Life was, relatively, good until the dreaded sequels started popping up.
which end do I blow in?
Indie wise, the grandfather of extreme low budget horror is, in my opinion, "August Underground". While not exactly my cup of tea, Fred Vogel's foray into neo-snuff (and it's sequels) are widely regarded as classics (and while we're on the subject of Toe Tag, I only just recently saw Vogel's absolutely brilliant "The Redsin Tower" and it's easily one of the best modern indie horror features of ALL TIME. Seriously, check it out, and also it's cinematic, illegitimate, bastard child, Adam Ahlbrandt's "The Cemetery"). 
And don't you fucking dare bring up Lucifer Valentine!! Those are fetish films and you fucking know it!! But, yeah, Vogel, Tim Ritter and a few others did "Extreme" extremely well, Eli Roth be damned, this stuff out does it's pricier brethren.
Place your bets, am I going to fuck, eat, or kill this puppy? Maybe all 3!
Filmmakers like Ahlbrandt, Stephen Biro, Dustin Mills, and Jessica Cameron, to name but a few, are currently doing "extreme" right (and for the record, I hate the term "extreme", sounds like a fucking energy drink...). They're pushing the envelope to the limits, but they're doing it while keeping one foot firmly planted in the "storytelling" grave. That's how it's supposed to be done, and that's why they're enjoying more and more success.
My point is (oh shit! there's a point?!?!), indie horror has always been the wellspring of originality. This is the place that the studio assholes mine for good ideas whenever they actually get balls enough to think about funding a decent film, and while we'll never fully shrug off the carpet baggers in this genre, indie horror filmmakers owe it to themselves (and the fans) to do better! There's more to making a great film than finding an excuse to film 80 minutes of chunk blowing gore! While there may be a niche audience for this stuff, even the most hardened gore-hounds eventually want to be mentally stimulated. You don't have to one-up anyone man, just do your thing, and if you do it right, we'll respond.
Don't get me wrong, I love violent, fucked up shit as much as the next guy, just please, please, please give me some plot, characters, and, above all, a reason for all the gut spilling!! Call me a pussy all you want, but I like to be entertained while I'm being repulsed (keep the tits though, always keep those...).
I am your Scream King, I can do anything...



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reedus, Greed(us), The Cult of Soska and Other Musings From HorrorHound Weekend

Soooo...HorrorHound Weekend-Cincinnati happened last weekend and, holy shit, was it fun. My wife, youngest daughter and I made the 3 1/2 trek to Cinci-nasty to get in on the festivities! There were high points, low points, and simply pointless...points. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, but I saw some old friends, made some news ones, and learned a thing or two...
Norman Reedus. Admit it, your panties got just a little damp just reading that, didn't they? I'm not a fan, and I often bagged on poor, dreamy, Norman for jacking his auto/photo prices through the roof. Well, a visit to his line soon separated the facts from the fiction.
"what? of course I showered!!"
I was accompanied by an almost entirely female entourage, my wife, daughter, cousins and friend, so naturally, we HAD to go see Reedus. I cringed at the thought of spending hours in line with a bunch of lovesick Walking Dead fans, but decided to take one for the team. The HorrorHound staff has this line shit locked DOWN!! We went down about 11:45am, waited about 90 seconds for a ticket with 3pm stamped on it, then....nothing. We enjoyed the con, got lunch, came back around 2:45pm and waited in line for maybe 5 minutes, then BOOM! We were about 4th in line! The esteemed Sean Clark had some tunes blaring, a statuesque blond woman with some killer ink was busily vending 8x10s and ol' hillbilly Daryl himself was holding court like a fucking rock-star. Even with his $80 autograph price, Reedus really seemed to be having a blast interacting with his fans. He took the time for a few words, a couple of hugs and handshakes with each and every person in line, whether they bought anything or not. He also gave my cousin a special birthday surprise. As much as I hate to admit it, he was a class act, color me impressed.
Other cast members from "The Walking Dead" didn't exactly match Norm's enthusiasm. Alanna Masterson (Tara) has been getting the shit kicked out of her on social media for her table prices. In her defense she actually changed her sign to read "Meet & Greet $10" after spying Lawrence Guilliard Jr. (Bob) charging the same thing at the table next door, so it's easy to see where she got the idea.
Which, of course, begs the question "How much is too much?". Easy answer? Whatever certain dipshits will pay! In all seriousness, sooner or later lines will dwindle, there will be a fan backlash, and shit like this will taper off, like all fads. I'm a fan of the show, but the bit players need some lessons in con culture. Greed isn't the way to endear yourself to fans, and fans, kids, are what supports a long career.
Speaking of fans...
I've never fully understood the unwavering loyalty fans of Jen and Sylvia Soska display. Sure, I've interviewed them and interacted on the social media with them all the way back to the "Hooker" days, damn, they make cool flicks, and they're certainly friendly enough, but...
I'm going to issue a challenge to everyone--spend 5 minutes with the Soskas and then try to tell me that they're not two of the most charming, charismatic, engaging, confident, sexy, and intelligent human beings you've ever met. Seriously, I fucking dare you!
Jen, channeling all the sudsy powers of Hell, to bring Rooker to the masses...
You can't, That shit's impossible. My wife (who they once blogged about) and I waited in their line, watching them do everything but cook a meal and perform a shiatsu massage for every fan at their table, and when we got up to them, I was thrown back a bit--they yelled my name, not the other way around! (also, them being Canadian, you'd assume they'd be in hockey sweaters and knocking back shots of maple syrup--but they weren't!!)
I'm the fat guy in the middle...but you knew that already, didn't you?
After several minutes of: me finally giving them a "Zombitch!" DVD, signing it for them (didn't get a photo signed from them for my bar--FUCK!), presenting them with a HorrorHound beer, a lot of infectious laughing, slightly evil smiles, plenty of cursing, and a whole bunch of hugs, I left their table feeling like I had cemented a true friendship. They'll hate me for phrasing it like this, but, they're FUCKING ADORABLE! And while I may not be to the point that I'd take a bullet for them, I most certainly would punch someone in the cock for them. And that, friends, speaks volumes about those two amazing ladies. Long may their particular freak flag fly! They're the genuine article, and I'm forever down.
While we're on the subject of crushes...
My very first "horror film crush" was the late, great Ingrid Pitt. My second? Barbara Crampton. I still remember the evening, after reading about "Re-Animator" in Fangoria or something, I anxiously waited while the slow moving mouth breathers that ran the local video store finally obtained a copy. My sweaty 16 year old hands couldn't wait to pop that baby in my parent's VCR. That night, with the parents safely out on the town, a few friends and I, after some suitable preparation with a substance that's now perfectly legal in a few states, did just that. It was all over with after the first scene, we were enamored to say the least. Shortly thereafter, my house being the de-facto hangout for my group of friends, you could witness 3 or 4 long haired, tough-guy, teenaged,"metal kids" watching "Guiding Light" along with my mom, totally focused, waiting for a scene that included Mindy was pathetic, trust me, I was there.
I've met everyone, for the most part, on my "bucket list" of horror celebs, save for George Romero and the lovely Ms. Crampton. And, while I've never attended a con with Romero as a guest, I've attended two, thus far, with Barbara Crampton featured. Why no autograph you might say?
BECAUSE SHE TERRIFIES ME!! Seriously, I've met all kinds of genre celebs in my travels co-running, doing the "Scream Kingdom" and writing reviews for HorrorHound, and I've very rarely been starstruck. For some reason, completely unknown to me, I get shaky and nervous when it's Barbara Crampton. She's gorgeous, she's talented, and she seems friendly as Hell, but I go full "fanboy" when I see her. I even had an actor friend of mine, who had picked her up at the airport for HorrorHound-Columbus a few years ago, offer to walk me over to her so he could introduce me. My only reply was "nooooo way man!". So, obviously, one of you guys will have to get a signed 8x10 for me if she does a con near you. Pleeeeeeeeaaaase!! I need one, my bar is incomplete without her on my wall.
And indie filmmakers were well represented! The crazy talented Jennifer Valdes ("Jack-O-Slasher") screened her NerdRemix award winning short "Isabelle" and graciously posed with her (sorry!) late award with the Scream King.
Her traveling partner, Jeremiah Kipp, picked up the HH award for best short for his "Painkiller"--fucking winners driving in from NYC, that's dedication!
Fellow horror peeps John Ginder and  Jason Kretten were ran into as well--but fuck I missed a lot of you!!!
Also screening was the fantastic gore-fest "Headless". If you haven't seen this, RUN, don't walk, to your PC and order one HERE.
Their booth was also killer, with "Skullboy" in attendance, and Brian Williams looking resplendent in his green Toe-Tag tee. The banner also featured a quote from me!!
photo ganked from the "Headless" Facebook page
The impossibly hot Ellie Church also picked up an award for best actress for "Headless", she keeps killing it more with every role!!
left to right: Scream King, Ellie Church
Notorious filmmaker Bill Zebub was also kind enough to question my sexuality when I told him I wouldn't make the 10pm screening of his "Holocaust Cannibal", but I heard it went well anyways...
Jason Hignite and crew, by all accounts, put together another bad ass film fest! HorrorHound Weekend is fast becoming the premier place to screen your indie horror masterpiece!
Right next to the "Headless" booth was Stuart Gordon, I bought a signed pic from him and chatted about my favorite author, HP Lovecraft. Mr. Gordon was friendly and gracious whilst I sputtered and attempted to sound well read. Awesome man, awesome films.

sexy? why thank you!
After another lap around the convention, we made the long drive home, tired, satisfied and spent. All in all, HorrorHound ALWAYS delivers!! Get to the next one!!!
I am your not-so-humble Scream King~
Bitch, moan, and insult me on Facebook: Thomas Gleba
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