To Live and Write in LA

Archive for Horror

SXSW: ‘The Waiting’ – James Caan is Haunted and Blood Spills

A film must have strong characters to be remembered. I will remember ‘The Waiting’ for a long time, not only because of its characters, but because of how well they were used to explore human depravity,

SXSW: ‘Phantasm’ – The Tall Man Is Back with J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams joined SXSW attendees and writer/director Don Coscarelli for the debut of Phantasm – Remastered at the Stateside Theatre in Austin. The debut was part of the SXSW Midnighters series which is billed as “Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.”

SXSW: ‘Preacher’ – Comic Book Hero Heads for AMC with Dominic Cooper and Surprises

The bad boy son of a West Texas preacher, returns to his hometown to become its preacher and to keep a promise to his father. His past and a variety of bad things, including a mysterious cosmic force, an ex-girlfriend, and a psychopathic vampire complicate this for him.

LA Film Fest: Two Scary Ladies – Sophie Lowe and Beth Riesgraf Turn Clichés on Their Heads

Women are typically the victims in action and horror films, but two films at the Los Angeles Film Festival flipped these genre clichés on their heads.

LA Film Fest: Dude, It’s a Dude-omongus Fest

Two films at the Los Angeles Film Festival, June 10-18, explored the Dude weltanschauung to bring us all closer to a profound understanding of the essence of dudeness. (Dude, that was heavy.) ‘Flock of Dudes’ looks at what happens when you put off becoming your father for too long. ‘Dude Bro Party Massacre III’ suggests that maybe dudeness could be a topic for satire.

LA Film Fest: Tying People Up for Laughs and Revenge

I’m making sure the windows are locked tonight. Three consecutive films I viewed at the Los Angeles Film Festival, June 10-18, dealt with tying people up. Not in a nice way, but at least in two cases, a funny way. ‘Caught’ tells the tale of a teen having an affair with a married man who is kidnapped by the man’s wife and, among other things, tied up. In ‘Shevenge’, three BFFs fantasize about how to punish men, which involves tying them up. In ‘Old Tricks’, a burglar learns that you should never try to steal from a retired magician and escape artist. They’re kind of hard to tie up.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Zombie’s Father in ‘Maggie’

(Originally published on My brain’s cynicism synapse snapped when I heard that a new Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie movie was opening at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. Somebody’s been bribed, I thought. Not the case. Maggie is not your father’s Arnold movie or zombie movie for that matter. It is a touching examination of the relationship […]

SXSW: ‘The Diabolical’ and ‘Roar’ – Learning from Mistakes with Tipi Hedren and Ali Larter

As film fans and writers we can learn something from other people’s mistakes, for example, the SXSW screenings of ‘The Diabolical’ and ‘Roar.

SXSW: Christian Slater and Lucy Lawless Get Creepy in ‘Mr Robot’ and ‘Salem’

Christian Slater and Lucy Lawless were on hand at SXSW 2015 to explain just why they are so creepy. Not, personally, of course, but in their new roles. Slater in the new sci-fi series Mr. Robot (SXSW Audience Award Winner – Episodic) premiering on USA Network. Lucy Lawless (Xena, Spartacus) joins the cast of WGN America’s Salem for its second season.

Crazy Bitches

Billed as a horror/comedy, Crazy Bitches, written and directed by Jane Clark (Meth Head) was something of a disappointment. It wasn’t that scary, and not all that funny, but you might want to see it anyway. Two or three glasses of wine will help.

Motivational Growth

Motivational Growth could be performed as a stage play, if it wasn’t for that heads-blowing-up thing. Written and directed by Don Thacker, Motivational Growth takes us into the twisted mind and apartment of Ian Folivor, played by Adrian DiGiovanni. Ian hasn’t left his apartment in 62 weeks. Then his 1960s era TV goes on the fritz, and his world goes crazy. Well, crazier.


Honeymoon, the directing debut for Leigh Janiak, breaks the rules and it breaks them in exactly the right way.

The trailer and the first act make it look like you’re about to see another “bloody teenager” movie. There’s the young, charming, horny couple. There’s a cabin in the woods. There’s even a crystal clear lake. But, director/writer Janiak and co-writer Phil Graziadei do what you are supposed to with a perfect genre set-up. They spin it in an unexpected direction.

Jamie Marks Is Dead

Jamie Marks is Dead, a Sundance Selection, is bound to become a cult classic for its deep, moody, scary, and seductive tale of adolescent confusion carried over into the world of the dead. It is based on the novel One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak.

Let Me Out

There are two ways that films illuminate difficult truths about growing up: painfully, as in The Spectacular Now, and charmingly, as is done in Let Me Out.

Movie Review: ‘Argento’s Dracula 3D’

(Originally published on It would be unfair to say that Argento’s Dracula 3-D was the worst adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel.  I haven’t seen them all.  It does deserve two superlatives, however; least scary Dracula and most nudity. Dario Argento is considered a modern master of the horror genre.  I was attracted to this film […]

Dances With Films: Can a Bat Monster be Cinderella?

(First published on Attack of the Bat Monsters by writer/director Graham Kelly Greene is an independent filmmaker fairy tale. It premiered in 2000 at the Dances with Films festival and, even though the soundtrack wasn’t finished, it won the Best of DWF Award and got good reviews. Then, like so many other quality indie films it disappeared […]

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

(Originally published on As my daughter and I left the preview for Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, we couldn’t help but overhear two other reviewers trashing the film. “It was so repetitive…I didn’t think the motivation of the college girl was sufficiently established to support the romantic relationship…the dialogue was not convincing.” I wanted to […]

The Demon Barber of the Zeitgeist

A theatrical work can often tell us more about the time it was written in than the theme its author intended. Take the case of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The story revolves around a barber, Sweeney Todd, who selectively killed his clients, sending their bodies down through a trap door to his […]

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