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Saturday, February 21, 2015

HEADLESS. A review.



Today, aside from shoveling a foot of snow off the driveway, I was treated to a pre-release screener of the upcoming horror flick, HEADLESS, from Gentleman Monster Productions and Forbidden Films


What’s HEADLESS, you ask? It’s one of those boy-raised-in-a-cage-like-a-dog-and-fed-blood-so-he-grows-up-and-kills-people-and-has-sex-with-their-heads-while-he-fantasizes-about-a-weird-sister-creature-thing stories. Yeah, that old trope. It’s heartwarming really.

I’ll steer clear of any real spoilers, since the world premiere isn’t until February 28th (for links to most current showings scroll to the bottom of this article), but if you've seen FOUND, your gut already tells you where this one is going. 



HEADLESS is the "lost slasher film" hinted at during some of the more diabolical scenes in the movie FOUND. If you're a horror fan and haven’t seen that one, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It isn’t required watching in order to enjoy HEADLESS, but it definitely adds to the experience, so grab a copy of FOUND or hit it up on demand right now.


Written by Nathan Erdel and Directed by Arthur Cullipher, HEADLESS is presented as if it was actually filmed in 1978. The retro titles at the beginning are fantastic and before the feature starts, you are treated to a trailer for another film entitled “Wolf Baby” which is funny and very reminiscent of the time (and this guy hopes it also gets the feature length treatment). The colors are warm, if not a bit off, and the film grain is there along with scratches and those little hairs that bounced around the screen back in the day. So much Jordache...Groovy.
 
 



When the film starts, we meet the maniac known only as “The Killer” and are treated to a recap of the scenes shown in FOUND. 









He dresses in black, wears a creepy skull mask and has quite the modus operandi...to describe it in detail would be uncool. Just know that the ice cream is a machete head removal (hence the title), the whipped cream is cannibalism and the cherry on top is necrophilia. If you and your lunch are easily separated, you might wanna sit this one out, or bring a bag to yerk in. I myself was right at home with a steaming plate of nachos.


It is blissfully in your face and the camera lingers on the gore, never shying away.

Once he is done, he totes the victim’s head in a bowling ball bag back to his dilapidated shack and places it on the shelf with the rest of his trophies. Our killer's body count is massive. Then he cries and takes a nap. 

We later meet Jess (Kelsey Carlisle) who works at Slick Vic’s Roller Rink. 


She hates her job, but someone has to make dat money because her boyfriend, Pete (Dave Parker) is in a band with buddies Maggot, Roach and Spider. He's a --gasp-- musician and a douche bag.


The band sucks, but Pete is all about his crappy music...and smoking weed...and getting drunk...and smoking weed. Slick Vic (Brian Williams) is pure 70’s sleaze. He’s rude, crude, and after hours he bangs Betsy (Ellie Church) while she’s still in her skates. Nothing gets women hot like rented footwear.


Jess’s problems with Pete compound throughout the story...but we’ll get back to her.

The Killer, played with madness and conviction by Shane Beasley, has flashbacks and nightmares about his childhood. His mother (Emily Solt McGee) is bitter and she blames the boy for his father leaving. She calls him a monster and keeps him in a dog kennel. Parent of the year, right? His sister could pity the boy, bring him food or comfort him, but she is no better.

The film builds, alternating between The Killer’s present exploits, his horrible past, and Jess’s jacked-up life. Something has to give. It is well paced, so you’ll never be bored. I won’t spoil the end...just know it is worth the wait. 


Keeping true to films of the time period, there are plenty of boobs, drugs, blood and viscera...heads off to the effects crew (see what I did there?) for some killer practical work. It really pays homage to the video nasties of the late 70’s and early 80’s but goes so much farther than any of those films. This one will be banned. It will be talked about in undergound, seedy internet chat rooms. It won't win any feminist awards and it will be scoffed by the straights...but fuck the straights. HEADLESS makes no apologies nor should it.




So we have nudity, we have gore...but WAIT! There's more! What stood to me was the character development of The Killer. You almost feel for the guy even though he’s a vicious bastard. We see the moment he snaps as a child and the “Skull boy” (Kaden Miller) appears. Skull Boy is a reflection of who he is to become, his calculating side that leads the beast from murder to murder. We see him grow up in the cage and the torment to which he is subjected. We see the inevitable explosion when he’s finally had enough and mom and sister have to go. 
  
There is this transformation that happens to the killer and it culminates at the end of the film in an eerily poetic way. It's evil as shit, but it was comforting to see that some thought went into the story even though this is--at the deepest part of its coal-black soul--an exploitation film and a gorefest.








The Scorecard:

Acting :  High marks to Shane Beasley. It is quite a performance. Also high marks to Kaden Miller as Skull Boy. There’s something to be said for that looming, unspeaking character. He reminded me of Sam from Trick-r-Treat. That childlike innocence in his movements makes it all the more terrible. And the clack of his skeleton jaw was a nice touch. Great job all around.

Visuals: Great work. DP Leya Taylor nails it. A grungy, real world feel that the films of the 70’s had in spades. There isn’t a hint of that glossy, computerized sheen that all films seem to have today. I was glad to see it. The effects were spot on, gooey and plentiful and there are some truly disturbing scenes in this movie--that from a 30+ year veteran of the horror film, gorehound and writer of horror fiction.

Sound: Excellent. There were moments where the lip synch was off, but I suspect that was also in homage to these older films along with the scratches and the places where the “film reel” had a “bad splice”. If it wasn’t intentional--I won’t tell if you don’t :)  Also a stand out were the original tracks which included “Headless For You” and “Outta My Brain” by Sweet Teeth and “Heads Will Roll (On the Disco Floor)” by Victoria D and Andy D.

Story: Screenplay by Nathan Erdel. Direction from Arthur Cullipher...These two tell a good story. It isn't a pleasant story, but the transformation of The Killer from a boy into the full fledged monster his mother always claimed him to be was very cool to watch. Bravo for giving a film with balls some brains as well. It will give the slew of upcoming sequels something to build on.




Overall: It’s obviously not for everyone, but for the people at whom HEADLESS was aimed, it fires on all cylinders and will not disappoint. Gorehounds, rejoice! Your film has arrived.







SHOWTIMES (click for ticket info):




For more information--like HEADLESS on Facebook!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Kid Has POTS.

So, my oldest child has POTS. It's not a joke about Colorado, nor is it something from an old Cheech and Chong movie.


NOPE.


Not these either.


I wish it was. It stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which when you break it down seems simple:

Postural --depending on her posture.
Orthostatic --related to standing upright.
Tachycardia --relative rapid heart action whether physiological (post exercise) or pathological.
Syndrome -- A disease that encompasses a particular group of symptoms.

In other words, when she stands up, her heart rate might increase 40 bpm.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coming Soon!--- DIG, a novel by Dan Dillard

Sometimes, you have to write a book about  your hometown...and in that book you have to destroy everything and let it rebuild itself. It's fun. Here's chapter one. The rest of the book will be along shortly. I have to finish the editing first.
Cover is concept only.

CHAPTER ONE
Loretta Gates

The sun was hot by 9:00 am and there was already a thick, soupy quality to the air. Loretta stretched to ease a hitch in her back. Dark patches of sweat grew in the armpits of her brown, PEACE t-shirt and on the waistband of her gray Capri pants. It had begun to run, dripping into places she didn’t like to mention. A woman who never married, who was never loved by anyone but her father, and who never grew close enough to a friend, lover or otherwise to have such discussions. She didn’t even speak of those things with her own doctor if it could be helped.
Loretta Gates worked for thirty years in a textile mill that sat on the west bank of the Cape Fear River and retired at age fifty-six. She had lived in the same hulking, pine-log house outside of the small port town of Smithville, NC since she was born. Her mother passed when she was still in grade school. Her father when she was thirty-five, back in 1977. Since then, she’d lived alone. She was accustomed to it and she liked it that way.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE REST OF THE YEAR

Did you ever have a thought so sinister, you just couldn’t share it with people? Not me...

THE REST OF THE YEAR
By Dan Dillard

Rain pitter-pattered on the rooftops of all the houses in the small town of Bloomington, Indiana. The noise might have reminded a person of the light footsteps of a small dog—its toenails in need of a clip—tapping happily across a hardwood floor. The sun had gone down hours before. It was unseasonably warm there in the dark. The trusses groaned underneath the old man’s weight and he paused for a moment before continuing on.  

His reindeer stood stoic and quiet, well-trained over the centuries to do as they were instructed. They were grey with age, but thick with muscles, and covered in scars from many a close call ducking in under cover of night, and escaping the eyes of third shift workers and the naughty children who peek. Jagged antlers poked out from their heads, most of them broken. Not quite the show animals from books and movies.

The crimson sack clutched in his vice-like, black-gloved hand, he dropped down through the large chimney landing in the open fireplace with a thud. He paused, waiting for hushed gasps and whispers, a growling dog, the jingle of a collar or for a light to flicker on somewhere in the home, but none did. All was quiet. Not a creature stirred. A smirk peeled across his bearded chin. One more step, ducking out of the fireplace, and he looked around, his smirk widening into a rotten-toothed smile.

On the wall, there was a panel with glowing buttons. An alarm. Santa pulled off his glove and held his hand up to the box. He concentrated, closing his eyes. After a moment, the state changed from ARMED to SYSTEM IS READY TO ARM.


Nice furniture, expensive tastes. It was a good house he had chosen. He tipped his stocking cap back on his balding head, the little white ball of fluff dangling down between his shoulder blades. A much thinner man than the world envisioned stood in that living room and surveyed the lay of the land. The kitchen was to the left and that was always his first stop.

Friday, December 19, 2014

IBUPROFEN

It has been a while since I've done a flash fiction piece for the blog... So here goes. Keep ahead of the pain, folks. Don't let it control you.


It’s a toothache. Or perhaps the pain is coming from somewhere in my jaw, beneath or between the teeth. Either way it throbs and makes me see shades of orange and red. That whole side of my face feels like it is slowly being inflated, bone pushing against meat pushing against the outer skin, pulling taut until it might snap open and spill onto the floor.

“Daddy, can I have some candy?”

I hear her, but ignore it. I have to because I know if I answer, it will be a snap response, it will be harsh, it will bring tears. I need my medicine before I can speak to her rationally.

“Daddy, can I call my friends? Can Leah spend the night? It’s Friday. You remember on Tuesday when you said we’d talk about it on Friday?”


Throbbing. Aching. Where is the damned ibuprofen? It’s always in this cabinet. Second shelf, white bottle, store brand. Four extra strength pills kill my lower back pain every time. It’ll work on my jaw, won’t it?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Look who's reading my books!


Here are just a few unpaid (and possibly faked) endorsements for my work. Pass it on...I would love to add more pics to this list.




Friday, November 7, 2014

Standing Up For Horror!

Okay, I'm not going to present any revelations here. Or maybe for some folks, I am. I hear this day in and day out from writers...so much so that I've stopped bringing the topic up. I admit, I've actually baited some forums and Facebook page discussions asking the question: Where has all the horror gone?




Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Babadook....Dear, sweet Krampus this flick was creepy.

First a lesson in pronunciation. Little Samuel says it best. Think Yabba-dabba. Or like a sheep. Baaa Baaa dook (like book).

Thanks to the magic of video-on-demand, we in the US don't have to wait until November 28th to watch the magic that is The Babadook. Magic may not be the word. It's genius.
It is so rare that a film lives up to the hype and this one in some ways exceeded the hype, kicked my ass and I'm going to watch it again—soon. I viewed this one with my teenage daughter to get two perspectives. Okay—I have to settle for one perspective because she peeked from behind a fluffy pillow the whole time and ran to bed when it was over, opting to sleep with her little sister.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Excerpt from The Journeyman--coming this Halloween to your eyeballs.



Coming this Halloween (That's four days away, folks!), is my fifth novel:  The Journeyman. 
You can find more details on Amazon.com or on Smashwords. It is available for pre-order at either location. If that isn't enough incentive for you to read about your new favorite serial killer....maybe a sample chapter will help.

Meet Arthur Clay. He lives next door to you. He goes to your church. He shops at the same stores you do. He sees your children getting off the bus at the end of the school day and he watches you. He is always watching. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BONES

Here's a little something for Halloween. Happy diving.

They picked his bones clean.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet my Main Character!

I have been nominated by film critic, fellow sailor, and author of The Spooky Chronicles and The Matriarch, Kevin A. Ranson,  to join the “Meet My Main Characters” blog tour. Today I will be telling you a little about the protagonist of my latest horror thriller, The Journeyman.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

On Writing The Journeyman

Seems like a long time in the works, but in truth, only about seven months have passed since I started this book. Now it's available for pre-order on Amazon, so I have a deadline...but we'll get to that a little later.
It's also tough to write a blog post about a book without giving too much information away, so I'll try to stick to the how, and not so much the what.