Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Devil's Business (2011): Occult Fright Done Right

 ~by Marie Robinson

Writer/director Sean Hogan’s latest work, The Devil’s Business, introduces us to a hit man and his rookie accomplice. Mr. Pinner (Billy Clarke) and Cully (Jack Gordon), respectively, are sent by their boss, Bruno (Harry Miller), to carry out what is supposed to be a quick and easy job. They are to wait inside their target’s home until he gets home from the opera, and then quickly and quietly execute him. While Mr. Pinner is seasoned in his art, and insists on a cold and serious manner, Cully is on his first gig. He is impatient and childish, complaining of boredom as mere minutes tick by.

Mr. Pinner obliges the boy with a ghost story—a personal tale of an old job that came back to haunt him—until they are startled by a sound outside. Thinking that their target, Kist (Jonathan Hansler), has arrived home early. In their search they stumbled upon disturbing evidence of occult activity. Their horrifying discovery proves to be too much for young Cully who pleads for Mr. Pinner to give him a break. Pinner sympathizes, and agrees to do the rest of the job alone, but before the two of them can put it all behind them they have many more demons to face.
Fangoria appropriately describes The Devil’s Business as an “intimate chiller”; with only two characters and one setting you get the opportunity to get to know Pinner and Cully. Clarke and Gordon generate an incredible chemistry on screen and because of this the script flows naturally from their mouths.

As Pinner becomes a mentor and confidant to Cully, they develop a sort of father and son relationship, which adds another layer of intimacy to the film. Hansler and Miller are the only other two speaking actors in the film (Mark Sealy appears in the final scene) and they carry their small parts impressively well; I particularly fell in love with Jonathan Hansler and his deliciously sinister performance. He was also in the Fangoria produced Axed (2011), which I have yet to see.

While The Devil’s Business’ foundation is laid with simple and classic story lines—such as Faust, which is directly referenced in the film—it is dressed up with unique details that make for a gripping watch.
While the film was originally released in 2011, it has just found an American distributor, Mondo Macabro, who is putting The Devil’s Business on shelves in October. It is parts crime drama, ghost story, and occult thriller so if enjoy any of those genres, or appreciate a well-made, thought-provoking film, then by all means keep an eye out for this one.

P.S. There are a TON of great alternative posters for the film. It was really hard for me to pick one to put up, so I highly suggest Googling it to check them out! I’m a sucker for good poster art!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mr. Jones (2013) : Another Doomed Trip Into The Woods...

~by Marie Robinson

Fledgling genre writer/director Karl Mueller’s Mr. Jones hit DVD shelves earlier this month. I had been intrigued when I first heard about it, and as soon I noticed it was out, I watched it.

Shot in found-footage style, Mr. Jones stars Jon Foster and Sarah Jones as Scott and Penny, a couple headed out to a secluded cabin where Scott plans to film his documentary. The subject of said documentary is a mystery, even to Scott, who apparently loses his train of thought after he ceases to take his medication. His mind is filled with anxieties about coming up with content since he and his girlfriend dropped everything to come out to the wilderness and film.

However, all stress is forgotten when the two discover strange and spooky sculptures in the surrounding woods. Penny, who is a photographer, instantly recognizes the sinister scarecrows to be the work of an elusive artist known as Mr. Jones. After seeing him stalking around in a hooded cloak, they seek out his cabin where they find a basement full of his unusual art.

Mr. Jones becomes the new subject for Scott’s doomed documentary, and he heads off to New York to interview anyone affiliated with Mr. Jones, including curators, art historians, and journalists, while Penny stays behind to photograph the installations. Separately, both find out that Mr. Jones is more than just an eccentric artist, and that his sculptures might be more than they seem; Scott learns more about the mythos of Mr. Jones and the mysterious way his artworks are obtained, and Penny is startled by a face-to-face encounter. It is from there that the situation quickly escalates from a dream to a nightmare.

Or, not so quickly. For me, Mr. Jones’ biggest flaw was an awkward and inconsistent pacing. Pacing is very crucial to me, as I will easily lose interest and walk away from a film—which may be childish. Also, a film has to have a flow that feels natural; if not it may feel forced or undeveloped. Mr. Jones has some very drawn out moments that I found myself struggling to get through.

While I enjoyed the mysterious character of Mr. Jones and the mythology created around him and his artwork much of the plot seemed half-imagined. The idea was there and it is easy enough to grasp but I felt there was not enough detail worked in to support such a rich concept.

The actors did a great job carrying the script, particularly stars Foster and Jones, who were very confident in their roles.

My favorite part of the film was without a doubt the real Mr. Jones—that is to say the artist who actually created all of those creepy creations: Pumpkinrot. I have been a fan of his for a few years now and I was extremely excited to find out that this art was the main focus of Mr. Jones.

 Pumpkinrot is a Halloween enthusiast who devotes his time and talent to creating wonderfully spooky displays, including witches, zombies, and—of course—scarecrows. I’ve included a few pictures for your viewing pleasure, but I encourage you to see more at his website, here (

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trifecta Of Terror! The Arctic Blues Derby

It's been a while since I've brought you a TRIFECTA OF TERROR!, and I figured it's high time to do so!  With The Preakness Stakes tomorrow, we're smack dab in the middle of the Triple Crown series in horse racing, so no time like the present to wager on which of the following flicks would be a winner.

How does this work?  Well, I choose three films with a similar topic or like-minded theme that would compliment each other and put them in the order that represents a winner (the best film of the three), a place (second place finisher) and a show (the third place finisher).  Meaning,  if you are so inclined, you could have an afternoon or evening of like-minded films and work your way from the mediocre to the stellar of the bunch (or vice-versa if you're likely to fall asleep and don't want to save the best for last).

In previous editions I listed them as win-place-show.  But I think I'm changing that up and listing them from "worst" to "best".  In this virtual race, we spotlight three films that have you shivering and

Your "show" film:  THE THAW (2009) - When a film stars Val Kilmer you have to wonder if you're going to get decent-quality Val (as in Tombstone or Heat) or low-quality Val (practically everything else).  I honestly don't think he does a bad job in this eco-thriller that takes place in the Canadian Arctic (though truth be told he's not in the film the entire running time).  Kilmer plays a research scientist who, after discovering the remains of a wooly mammoth, finds out it has carried a parasitic worm all the way from the days of the dinosaurs.  He tries to quarantine the group of ecologists he has with him, and to prevent another group (including his estranged daughter) from joining them.  Of course he does not stop them from arriving and chaos ensues.  I actually found this a pretty good film, with a good supporting cast (Martha MacIsaac being the stand-out), a fairly original script, and a fun gore and gross out factor.  If you don't like swarming bugs, beware this film.  As per usual, there are some dumb-ass moves (as in most horror) that lend no help to the scientific validity of the content.  And though it's supposed to be environmentally pro-active or at least sending a message about global warming, there's not much hope for mankind if the people solving the problems are anything like the scientists (and the graduate students at the heart of the film) are here. But for a fun flick likely to make you squirm and perhaps even induce a few buggy nightmares, you could do a lot worse.

Coming in second, we have our "place" film, which is actually a television episode of one of my favorite shows of all time, THE X-FILES.   I bring you:  ICE (1993).

Ice is one of those stand-alone episodes from the beginning of the series that laid the groundwork for the show's success.  Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are on assignment in Alaska to determine why a group of scientists have turned up dead. The sense of dread that envelopes this tense hour of television is one of the main reasons I (and millions of others) developed such an affinity for the landmark series.  After a look at the bodies of the dead scientists, they find a dog - alive - that has black nodules on his skin and deduce it must be bubonic plague.  But things get even more perplexing (and unsettling) when they see something move under the dog's skin.  When the helicopter pilot subsequently becomes ill and dies, they discover a parasitic worm moving under his skin and remove it, believing it to be the contagion.   Naturally, Mulder believes the worm to be extraterrestrial, an idea Scully is not quite ready to entertain.  In any event, the duo is determined to prevent the contagion from spreading to the rest of the world.  Such a great episode, very reminiscent of John Carpenter's THE THING - and with good reason, as the concept for both came from John W. Campbell's  Who Goes There?, a novel that also inspired 1951's THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.

Although there are dozens of similar-type films about trouble in the Arctic, I had to choose one of my favorite films - and one of the best remakes in cinematic history.  You all know what I'm talking about - our "win" film:  THE THING (1982).

A group of researchers in the Antarctic head to a nearby Norwegian station to find out why their dog was fired upon by one of their helicopters (which in turn, crashed).  They find a burnt-out station and a bizarre corpse that looks more inhuman than human and end up bringing it back to their station to do an autopsy on it. Without warning,  the pursued canine horrifically mutates into an unrecognizable creature and tries to attack the men.  One flamethrower later and the men are dissecting the monstrosity, only to discover it was in the process of imitating the men - or whatever else it is able to ingest. The men learn the Norwegians had found what appeared to be a spaceship in a block of ice estimated to be thousands of years old, and begin to wonder what may have escaped from it.  One by one the men seem to turn on each other, unwilling to believe that they themselves have been "infected". 
THE THING is a study in patience, dread, and true horror.  A stellar cast led by Kurt Russell, combined with superb practical special effects and an impending sense of doom makes THE THING a winner in any category of film. You just can't go wrong.  If this was an actual horse race, the odds would be even and the horse's name would be Secretariat.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dark Arts: Spotlight On Krist Mort

~ by Marie Robinson

If you like the imagery in the intro of American Horror Story: Coven, then you’ll like the photography of Krist Mort. That’s just something that the Austrian artist’s work immediately reminds me of, but be assured her images go much deeper and are much more haunting.

K. Mort
The ever-resourceful Mort taught herself how to use a camera and uses local wooded areas to find her inspiration, and often puts herself in front of the lens as a model. A powerful, sensual feminine figure is just one of the themes of Mort’s work—there is a lot of strange stuff that goes on in the woods after all, such as magic, rituals, and the presence of deities and spirits. 

Her artwork has been commissioned by several bands, such as Sisters of the Black Moon, and The Devil and the Universe.

You can view her photographs and spooky short films on her website, here (

"Promo pic for Evoking Eternity EP"

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fusions Of Fright: BOOKHOUSE

~by Marie Robinson

I’m not a musician, and I am no expert on the subject but I do thoroughly enjoy music; for all of you readers out there who share a love for both music and horror, I present to you our newest feature, Fusions of Fright.

In this serial I’d like to highlight artists and albums that have a connection with horror and horror cinema. And I’m not talking about just soundtracks; I want to feature a wide variety of genres, all with a connecting theme of the ghastly and macabre. So, plug your headphones in, turn the volume up, and tune in to Fusions of Fright!

If you are a frequent reader of FWF you’ll know that I am a huge David Lynch fan, and therefore a fan of his early 90’s TV series, Twin Peaks. I’m certainly not the only one, and since the show’s premature death people have paid homage in a variety of ways. And it is here that I must turn you on to Bookhouse, a three-piece jazz band from Minneapolis, and their album, Ghostwood.
Josh Granowski, Chris Hepola, and Paul Fanfora have used their talent and affection for Twin Peaks to take songs from Angelo Badalamenti’s original score and reworked them into fresh, innovative new tracks.

cover for "Ghostwood"
Their single, “Into the Night”, replaces Julee Cruise’s pining vocals with Jenna Wyse, and the melody is played on bass rather than keyboard. The occasional belch of a horn and velvet hum of a cello give the song a little juice and a pounding heartbeat. Another favorite of mine is their rendition of “Laura Palmer’s Theme”, which before was mostly drawn-out synth climaxing with dramatic piano; Bookhouse’s version is more driving, lively and sinister. Bass and snare carry the melody, played on baritone clarinet, and while the original song brings me to thoughts of Laura’s innocence, this darker version reminds me of her mischievous nature.

Don’t take anything I said as if I am putting down Badalamenti’s score, because it is the original; however, I am truly impressed by Bookhouse (obviously a reference to the Bookhouse Boys) and the hard work they have put in to creating this interesting and exceptional record. They did it for the love of the show, and worked extensively with fans to make sure they knew the ins and outs of Twin Peaks. It is a good record on its own, but also a fascinating new way to keep Twin Peaks alive, which died much too soon. Take a listen to their single, “Into the Night” below, and buy their album Ghostwood on iTunes, Amazon, or vinyl here (