The REAL Splat(ter) Pack
Much has been made in recent years, in the mainstream horror press, about "The Splat Pack". Depending on the source, this cadre of genre directors includes names like: Roth, Aja, West, Zombie, Wan, Whannel, Green, Bousman, Six, and Rodriguez. While these cats have indeed made some killer movies, the up-and-comers in the indie world go largely unnoticed. Below, I'll take a look at some prolific film makers, and some rookies with only a film or two under their belts, that can, with a few frames of film, give any of the above a run for their blood soaked money...
Mills has made a living, and legions of fans, for his offbeat, gory films, almost always injected with a large dose of humor (and sometimes puppets!). All that changed recently with the release (or did it escape?) of "Her Name Was Torment". Gritty, nasty, and made with an "arthouse" quality that manages to avoid being overly pretentious and self-important (i.e. it doesn't make you want to hit him in the face with a brick for insulting your intelligence), "Torment" was a bracing shock to the system for many of Mills' fans expecting more of the same zany bloodletting (and also was a big metaphorical "fuck you" to the "torture porn" sub-genre). Watch for releases from his new Crumpleshack stamp, and consider yourself warned.
Violent, greasy, bloody, and unabashedly metal-as-fuck, Adam Ahlbrandt consistently delivers new and inventive ways to fuck shit up, cinematically of course. With a group of rabid fans, particularly for "Cross Bearer" (my personal favorite is "The Cemetery"), Ahlbrandt revels in assaulting the viewer with images of brutality, characters that don't always elicit sympathy, and unflinching set pieces soaked in bodily fluids--stuff that would have guys like Eli Roth shitting in his designer jeans. With "Hunters" and "The Sadist" in various stages of production, look for this purveyor of filth to scramble to the top of the genre heap soon.
Developing his style in wacky splatter fests like "I.B.S." and the excellently subversive "Sloppy the Psychotic", O'Mahony unleashed an unnerving character study of a "monster in plain sight" with this year's "A Dark Place Inside". Virtually everyone who has seen it was blown away by the mature turn he has taken. There aren't any laughs to be had here, just tons of creepy atmosphere and deliberate pacing that ratchets up the suspense to an entirely different level. It's been amazing watching the man's style and craft develop, can't wait to see what he has in store next.
"Perseveration". Period. If you've had the pleasure of viewing it, you were treated to a blasphemous, fever dream of surreal, repugnant images that will long be burned into you consciousness. Coupled with an excellent cast and disorienting shots of extreme fucked-up-ness, Sotelo's direction has a seasoned quality that belies his short career. Topping "Perseveration" will be difficult, but it will be interesting to see how he does it.
Prolific genre actress Cameron stepped into the director's chair last year for "Truth or Dare". While most people may just be familiar with the controversy surrounding the film (I think Madonna is suing her or something...), those who have actually seen the film during it's successful festival run, or for review, have been treated to a boundary pushing, taboo shattering thrill ride that leaves you asking "how far is she REALLY going to go with this?". The short answer? Very fucking far. The cast does things onscreen that no cast should ever have to do...
The criminal mastermind behind Jabb Pictures and it's amazing series "The Collective" (serving as a fan's gateway drug to countless talented new directors),
"Collective" entries have always been effective exercises in fear on
a budget. Once making a great short film with nothing but shots of an old house
and an ominous voice-over, Hoover
went "full length" with "I Am No One" last year and knocked
it out of the park! One of those films that make you want to wash your eyeballs
after you see it, "No One" is one of the few convincing "found
footage/mockumentary" films out there. Here's hoping something even sicker
is brewing in that black capped head of his while he's stalking a convention
near you... Hoover
"Time To Kill" is providing convention goers all over North American with beer swilling, shout-at-the-screen, good times virtually every weekend lately. The debut feature from Williams, "TTK" is his love letter to sleaze, cheese, boobs, blood, and Beelzebub. Featuring the exceedingly bad assed Ellie Church as a violent, revenge driven bitch on wheels, "TTK" combines all the elements that you loved from 60-70's drive-in fare, and almost none of the shit you hated, Buy a copy so I can see what comes next.
James Cullen Bressack--
Personally, I thought "My Pure Joy" was motherfucking brilliant. Following it up with stuff like "Hate Crime" and "To Jennifer" only cements Bressack's place on this list. With a distinct talent for pushing a viewer's buttons and keeping them engaged, waiting for the sanguinary "punch line", while the most mundane things occur on screen, Bressack masterfully creates scenarios that are truly believable. While I haven't seen everything he's done, I plan to rectify that in the near future.
So, there you have it, 8 directors that can make you hurk your lunch AND make you look twice at that "normal" looking person walking behind you on a dark street. In my not-so-humble opinion, they can best anyone on the list in the first paragraph, hopefully they continue to make the world a more twisted place for genre fans in the future.
--Scream King Tom