AND SO…

What if someone was following you?

Like, they wouldn’t stop. Ever.

This person could take the form of anyone, alive or dead. It could be people you know; family, friends, lovers, anyone. And imagine this person wanted you dead and needed only to reach you for a moment to end you forever? That is the central conceit to the jaw-droppingly fun, exciting and downright masterful new horror film by David Robert Mitchell, “IT FOLLOWS”

What originally looks to come off as another haunted-young-woman-who-everyone-thinks-is-crazy(which of course she isn’t, much to the audience’s enduring frustration) immediately shakes off genre conventions and spends the next two hours surprising the viewer with an unsettling and often quite imaginative ride. One key to this is that you know as little as humanly possible at the outset of the viewing. This cult cuckoo was lucky enough to go into a screening basically blind, having read no synopsis and having never seen the trailer. This, along with the theater being totally empty except for fellow Face Eater, SinisterT and I, enhanced the affair quite a lot. Also, I REALLY wasn’t prepared to experience the best horror film I’ve seen since Whedon and Goddard’s “Cabin In The Woods”. I walked out mouth agape. It is, in my humble opinion, a masterwork. It is creepy. It’s never slow. It is SOOOO atmospheric. It’s riddled with winks and nods to genre conventions, but much like the aforementioned film, manages to work with and around those conventions, never falling victim to them. In this way it additionally serves as a love letter to horror films past. To me, it also recalled Ti West’s underrated “House Of The Devil” as much like that feature, it has a sense of being out of time somehow. The atmosphere is that of vintage 70’s horror, so is the style and the aesthetics. That said, it seems set in modern times but deliberately blurs that perception to achieve it’s retro-horror-effect. And with a score that was obviously immensely influenced by the music from the works of John Carpenter with shades of Dario Argento tossed in for good measure, it absolutely drips with macabre tension.

To go on about the film would largely be a veiled exercise in futility(also, as said before, going into this blind is best) and frankly I’m craving a churro, so just get on up and catch this film while it is still on the big screen. It is one-of-a-kind breath of fresh air to an ever-stagnating genre, crying out for originality. It also begs the question, what the hell has David Robert Mitchell been doing all these years with this kind of talent in him??

KEEP IT CULT

SEVERING TIES

HERE THERE BE DRAGONS…

Not really, but it got your fickle, hummingbird-like attention for a few fleeting moments, so listen to this rap about an new/old classic from good ol’ ’06. Another overlooked bit o’ celluloid.

A group of sales representatives for a weapons developer go out on a team building weekend getaway to a cabin retreat in the Matra mountains of Hungary. Promised a fun filled weekend of team building in a “luxury lodge”, the trip quickly takes a turn for the worse and soon the group find themselves in a in increasingly unsettling series of encounters involving an unseen enemy in the woods.

Directed by Christopher Smith from his screenplay and released in 2006, “Severance” is a hidden jewel of a slasher flick. While it has very even pacing, once the violence begins, it’s a fairly gory and over-the-top affair. The film currently holds an approval rating of 65% on the film critic site Rotten Tomatoes based on 86 reviews and a score of 62 out of 100 on Metacritic. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commended Smith’s “mischievous blending of THE OFFICE with Friday The 13th”, awarding the film three stars out of four. Laura Harris of “Dead Like Me” and “The Faculty”, made a noteworthy bid for Scream Queen status with her turn as the ballsy heroine in this comedic take on the slash and hack genre. This is one bloody, f***ed up yet very funny film you likely haven’t even heard of.

We here at F.E.H.Q. say, “WATCH IT!!”

We did. At FACECON III.

That occurred.

KEEP IT CULT

MUFFY AND BUFFY

Here is yet another in a long line of articles you likely will never see…

A group of friends go out for a fun filled weekend at their friend Muffy’s very swank summer retreat. It’s set to be a weekend of fun and partying. But it’s not long before the bodies start dropping and it’s up to the last survivors to either escape from or stop whoever is making their friends die off. But is everything as it seems? Is Muffy’s ne’er spoken of twin sister BUFFY behind all the shady goings-on?

Released in 1986 to capitalize off of the fever pitch popularity of mid-80’s slasher craze, APRIL FOOLS DAY is one of the more restrained horror films to emerge from the subgenre. Directed by Fred Walton and starring genre regulars Deborah Foreman and Amy Steel, this film manages to maintain fairly good tension whilst keeping most of the violence offscreen. It has been lambasted by several reviewers for it’s seeming bucking of genre conventions, including having one of the most unique endings to come from the 80’s slasher movement. With this and “Friday the 13th Part II”, Amy Steel solidified her place as one of the preeminent SURVIVOR GIRLS of the decade. Also, in a neat bit of casting trivia, YES, THAT IS Thomas F. Wilson a.k.a BIFF TANNEN from “Back to the Future” in quite possibly his only other film role of note. It’s a noteworthy genre classic that deserves your full attention, bitch.

FACE EATER ARCH-NEMESES, ‘THE POP-U-LISTS’ ATTEMPT TO CRASH FACECON.ORG…AGAIN.

Well, my ever expanding cult constituency…

It would seem that our heretofore unmatched cult pedigree coupled with our penchant for all things bad-ass has been met with some consternation, some chagrin and yes, dare I even venture to say outright jealousy among those who would seek to ruin us. Yes, our small collective has already been making waves as a go to place for some of the jazziest cult-ural observances floating throughout the virtual quagmire that is the internet. We see the culture that matters, we tell you about it, and you do whatever it is you do. It works. But, an ancient, very powerful and globally-minded group of movers, shakers and cyber-conformists have been working in secret to topple our burgeoning collective and silence us before we can provide the much needed wide angle lens that our intellectually stunted society and artistically-flooded cultural marketplace so desperately needs. We wish only to provide fun musings, throw great conventions/functions and just share our common love of any and all things groovy. But these bastard-bitches seek only to destroy us. Yesterday evening, at 11:30 PM MST, our site was taken down for eight whole minutes because of a…DNS attack on our proxy server…caused by encrypted malware, by way of a comm disruption to the SSL of our…domain host(yep, sounds good)…which the aforementioned web trolling gremlins initiated. This is the third wholesale act-of-war in as many months. However, thanks to the valiant efforts of Face-Eater-at-large and cyberspace Jedi, TrinsicX, the site was immediately restored to it’s Christ-like glory and moving forward, the ironclad security network he has put into place should be able to withstand any further web-based assaults by those seeking to forfeit our right to free speech and assembly. That said, the fucking gauntlet has truly been laid down brothers and sisters. There is an enemy afoot, and we do not take such a threat to our noble cause lightly.

The Face Eaters have long suspected(for like the last few weeks or so) that we are being monitored, watched and/or targeted by an external force with immense wealth, untold resources and clearly nothing better to do. And with this latest attack, we can easily forgo base logic and confirm that we finally have an arch nemesis. WOOT! WOOT! Known to us currently only by their cryptic web handle, “The POP-U-LISTS”, they are an enigma wrapped in a shadow. They are shrouded in mystery. They are drizzled with the unknown, sprinkled with omnipotence and then served with a side dollop of inescapable madness and coleslaw. While a quick web search yields little to no information pertaining to their mission, activities, central leadership or if they even exist, we CAN conclude from communique’s intercepted and authenticated by our London offices that they are…all about that bass, bout that bass, no treble..?

No,that can’t be right…

PAPERS SHUFFLING

Ah yeah, wrong memo. Here we go then.

CLEARS THROAT

What we know about them is that they want conformity. They seek mediocrity. They want the reality shows and Duck Dynasty’s. They loved “Fifty Shades of Grey”, crave more Adam Sandler films and revel in the ever-sinking intellectual quotients among the GAP-clad proletariat. They love the Kardashians, watch the View, vote on American Idol and never miss a tweet by Lady Gaga. The remote control is their hands is a crack pipe. They mainline RADAR and TMZ. They suckle at the POP teet until their eyes roll back in their heads and they cackle Taylor Swift songs into the cold night like mewling banshees…

They suck. They SUCK. And we MUST fight back against these albino shape-shifting lizard bitches. We are not quite sure how that will happen just yet, but rest assured…we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day! ahhhhhhhhhh……..yeah.

So for now just keep screening Jim Jarmusch and Gregg Araki films. Keep reading Lovecraft, Gaiman, King, Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. Keep listening to Tom Waits and Archive while pontificating on the questionable merits of having Yoda brandish his saber at the end of “Attack of The Clones”. Keep playing horror-themed board games and retro video games. Keep watching Garth Merenghi. Keep watching TROMA. The revolution will not be televised my friends so keep questioning what your are being fed. Basically, until we can get more info to you, just…

KEEP IT CULT

A STRANGE LOVE FOR ‘NIGHT OF THE COMET’, OR…HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE ‘BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER’

We humans, despite our inherent proclivity for bickering, fighting and even killing for a great many(though ultimately dumb) reasons, can surely agree on at least this one simple fact: “The Avengers” was a damn fine film. It was basically perfect for what it was. For that matter, so was “Cabin In The Woods”. All this was due in no small part to the deft, nay EXPERT handling of these productions by seasoned storyteller and nerd-demi-god Joss Whedon. His time developing, overseeing and creating so many pieces of pop culture in such a short time and of such consistent quality have propelled him to the pantheon of the greatest filmmakers working today.

After years of resistance, predicated largely upon an underlying(and ultimately unnecessary) fear of cheesy-dialogue and laughable make-up FX, I recently began to marathon through the whole series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, as many in our collective have assured me it would be worth it. They were not wrong. It’s great. After an admittedly shaky first two seasons, the show begins to really find it’s stride during the third. And once you get past the inherently made-for-tv-horror-ness(I’m thinking of you here, Mick Garris) of the whole affair, you realize that the praise for the show’s writing was well deserved. Whedon’s career was forged in the fire of TV drama and with good reason. The ballsy story lines actually raised the bar for all horror/supernatural shows to follow and served as a basis by which all future vampire properties shall be compared. Great plotting, funny arcs, oddball characters, you know just great stuff. Buffy rocks. A ton by a bunch. I can continue to digress further, of course, by displaying for you, barely interested reader, the full extent of my pop-culty nerdiness, but I shan’t. No. I shall, however say that watching this made me want to know more about how Joss Whedon came about creating Buffy. I began doing a bit of research and THAT was when s*** got real.

Joss had said in several interviews that amongst a great many things which informed and inspired aspects of the show, he actually got the base idea of a cheerleader who fights evil creatures from seminal cult-flick and Face Eater favorite, “Night of the Comet”(1984). In the aforementioned piece of cinema gold, Kelly Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart play sisters Samantha and Regina Belmont respectively, who, faced with a zombie apocalypse, trade in their pom-pom’s for shiny-new SMG’s and begin battling hordes of the undead, running from crazed scientists and vying for the affections of the last “stud” on Earth. And, of course, they make sure to swing by the local mall for a guilt-free shopping-spree-montage set to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, and originally filmed as “Teenage Comet Zombies”, it’s just one of the greatest things ever handed down to us by God…or whatever jocular madman pulls the strings in this cosmic house of mirrors. It’s a cinema classic and it really only adds to the collective awesomeness of both to discover the correlary between the two properties.

So, here one can easily make the logic leap that after being inspired by “Night of the Comet”, Joss made his career with Buffy. It was there he really honed his craft. Then based on Buffy’s success, he jump started his film career, crescendo-ing with “The Avengers”. Cinema history is made as the guy who created the characters of Spike and Angelus goes on to be the director of the third highest-grossing film of all time. Starts with “Comet”, ends with Hulk. Ergo, “The Avengers” was a critical and financial success solely because of “Night of the Comet”. Sure, it’s far-fetched, relatively illogical, grossly inaccurate and I don’t believe it, but someone had to say it, by god. So I did. Just then. I said it.

KEEP IT CULT

BACK, WITH BLACK

In the beginning, there was George A. Romero, and he was good. Very good. So good in fact that he, perhaps serendipitously or perhaps inadvertently, created an entirely new subgenre unto itself and established himself as a preeminent master working within the ever-sophisticated milieu of horror cinema. Following his genre-defining 1969 classic, “Night of the Living Dead”, a whole undead revolution started and a veritable cavalcade of great and not-so-great imitations followed, making the 70’s and 80’s the first golden age of zombie horror. Careers were made, FX revolutionized, tropes established, and the Italians made a ton of the stuff(films, not money).

Fade back on in to 1986 when a small entry in the brain-chomper subgenre titled “Night of the Creeps”, written and directed by genre up-and-comer Fred Dekker becomes an instant cult classic with it’s black humor, meta in-jokes and subverting of genre conventions. The film is a great tilt on the old zombie formula and possesses what could be the best tagline of any eighties horror film: “The good news is, your date is here. The bad news is…he’s dead!!”. The basic plot outline is as follows: A capsule/probe containing some mean-spirited alien slugs is jettisoned by a few gnarly-looking, hairless space dwarves, enters our atmosphere and crashes into the woods where the slimy contents of the container…well…SLITHER out and begin making meaty hosts of a bunch of beefy chunk-heads from the local college, turning them into ravenous walking dead-types who go straight into your standard zombie horde destroy/eat/occupy/end humanity mode. Sound familiar? Indeed it should. That’s because this also almost exactly describes the plot for future “Guardians of the Galaxy” helmer James Gunn’s derivative, yet still quite enjoyable 2006 creature feature, “Slither”. ‘Nuff said on that count. And so with “Creeps”, Dekker had planted his foot firmly in the door with a great first film and knew that he needed to keep the momentum going. To make sure he didn’t let his 15 minutes run out too quickly, he immediately jumped into work on his follow-up feature. In fact, he actually went into pre-production while principal photography on “Creeps” was still underway. The result was another seminal cult classic and easily one of the best horror flicks of the 80’s, 1987’s “The Monster Squad”. All things were going great for the young storyteller, and he seemed destined for success.

But, sadly, ‘twas ne’er to be.

Instead, one small, yet ultimately horrible choice on the part of Dekker saw the promising filmmaker all but completely blacklisted in Hollywood, his promising career never fully recovering. That career ending move came in the form of the rarely-spoken-of-by-name, yet universally reviled(think Voldemort here) bit of celluloid trash called “ROBOCOP 3”. I cannot, in good conscience devote much time to description of the aforementioned mistake of a film. Suffice it to say…OUCH. OUCH A LOT.

You can really only put so much of this on Dekker, as he was working outside of the genre he knew and loved, and the screenplay was an atrocious mess from the outset. Production was reportedly no picnic, and while Nancy Allen returned with her always-somewhat-bland self, Peter Weller got while the getting was good and left the role behind, forcing us to try and buy into another stoic character actor in the role of our metal clad hero. How badly did this film flub and flounder? Let me count the ways…Or not. I said I wasn’t gonna talk about it and I’m not. What I WILL say is that Dekker’s career was totally derailed and he has done not much since. As ever with my cultural musings, you may be understandably asking yourself at this point, “Why should I care?” Here’s your answer…

When Dekker directed “The Monster Squad” back in ‘87, he did so from a script co-written by himself and another young screenwriter named Shane Black. Black, who was notable at that time laregly for his bit part as Hawkins, the glasses-wearing, dirty-joke spouting mercenary who got killed early on in 1980’sjungle sci fi romp “Predator”, went on to be a major player in Hollywood. Aside from writing “Lethal Weapon”, “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and the first two “Iron Man” films, he also wrote and directed “Iron Man 3”. Recently, reports have surfaced that pre-production has begun on a “Predator” reboot. Insert eye roll? Sure, that likely would be the case if these tidings didn’t contain the happy news that none other than erstwhile writing duo, Dekker and Black would be re-teaming to produce the screenplay with Black himself due to return to the franchise in the directors chair. You gotta love an idustry that sees a dude going from throwaway fatality in the first film to the director of the sixth. Still, anything that has Dekker back in the arena he knows only too well is a welcome treat and we of The Face Eaters cannot wait to see how the finished product plays. At long last, DEKKER LIVES!!

KEEP IT CULT

‘CARNIVALE’ CLOWN

From September, 2003 to March, 2005, HBO aired a wonderful and woefully under-appreciated show called “CARNIVALE”. Focusing on the struggle between the forces of good and evil, here personified respectively by a traveling carnival and freak show harboring young healer boy, Ben Hawkins(Nick Stahl), and a unholy congregation led by the sinister Brother Justin(the always amazing Clancy Brown), the show was set against the dust bowl (aka“The last great age of magic”) and only lasted two seasons before being prematurely canceled. One surprising standout during the show’s brief run was villainous right hand man to Brother Justin, Varlyn Stroud, who, for all of season two left a trail of bloody bodies in his wake. The actor who brought this chilling character to life was under-the-radar thespian and Face Eater favorite, John Carroll Lynch.

Lynch is known by many a viewer, yet remembered by few. Some may have first noticed him for portraying Norm in “Fargo”, husband to Francis McDormand’s Margie Gundersun, a role which netted her the best actress oscar. He has since fashioned a career built largely upon smaller features. He‘s appeared in such cult films as “Bubble Boy”, “The Good Girl” and “Exorcist”-director William Freidkin’s underrated, “Bug”. Some MIGHT even recall his turn as Arthur Leigh Allen in “Zodiac”, the lead suspect in the infamous unsolved case.

However, his most recent role was that of Twisty, the serial-killing clown with no lower jaw on FX’s “American Horror Story” who was THE reason to watch the fourth season of the arguably inconsistent television series. Still, no matter what he is in, Lynch is completely magnetic when he is onscreen, and has yet to phone in a performance yet. Keep the creepy coming John, and…

KEEP IT CULT

BLOODY POM-POMS

We love the classics. Just love ’em. So we at FACECON.ORG, we have dedicated this here section, FORGOTTEN GEMS to those overlooked little nuggets of cult cinema that are worthy of, if not begging for rediscovery. Wrote one about “Cheerleader Camp”. Wanna hear it? Here it go.

A completely unappealing group of teen-aged misanthropes , most of whom look to be nearing forty, head off to Camp Hurrah for a fun and competition-filled week trying to prove their meddle as the best cheer-leading squad attending the event. Pretty quickly though, someone or some- thing starts to off the campers in horrific ways, causing red camera dissolves, pom-pom filled nightmare sequences, and painfully cheesy line after painfully cheesy line to be tossed freely about while the body count steadily rises.

Originally titled “Bloody Pom-Poms” and released in 1987, this cheesy slasher film embodies much of the Friday the 13th-created horror tropes that still punctuate and permeate through the subgenre as a whole to this day. Directed by John Quinn, this movie is also note- worthy for having former 80’s teen heart- throb and very bad driver, Leif Garret, Lorie Griffin of “Teen Wolf” notoriety and Betsy Russel as our tortured heroine, Alison Wentworth. Modern genre fans will know Betsy Russel for her turn as Jill Tuck, former wife to serial murderer John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Also, and most importantly, it has a nice bit of screen time dedicated to everyone’s favorite genre mainstay…resident harmless, albeit creepy old dude, George “Buck” Flower, prolific character actor of such films as this, “The Fog” with Jamie Lee Curtis and “Sundown” with Bruce Campbell. GO TEAM GO!!

FACECON HAUNTS : THE STANLEY HOTEL

We here at the Face Eaters would like to take a moment to recognize and, if we may be so bold, give mad props to the unparrelled bad-assness of one of our elected home bases, the historic Stanley Hotel located high in Estes Park, CO. Famous largely for serving as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining”, the site is beautiful and absolutely brimming with all the atmosphere one would expect from the landmark location. Creepy, yet homey and welcoming, The Stanley, much like the Overlook, is at once an exciting yet subtly menacing place. With it’s 140 rooms, neo-Georgian architecture and panoramic views of the Rockies, it’s quite the eye-gasmic experience. And with the lush history, to say nothing of the uniquely high incidence of reported paranormal activity and encounters throughout the years, it’s a wildly interesting trip to take. Having served as the site for the now much-fabled FACECON II, we can all attest to it’s grandeur. It’s one spooky dot on the map which does not disappoint and should be visited at least once before the reaper taps that ass…with his scythe.

KEEP IT CULT

A MODEST DEFENSE OF ALIEN 3

It’s a generally accepted belief that while “Alien” and “Aliens” are both iconic, genre defining masterworks, universal in their praise and acclaim, the third and fourth films in the quadrilogy are less loved.To some in fact, they are considered travesties of celluloid. And while it’s hard to argue that the fourth is very good at all(so much so in fact that it boggles the mind to imagine Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of such cult faves as “Amelie’” and “City of Lost Children” being the man responsible for such a galloping dud), the third seemed to endure an unjust amount of chagrin and hostility from both critics and fans. This writer recently got around to finally watching the so-called “Assembly Cut” of “Alien 3” and like many, it completely reshaped my view of this entry in the series. It is wildly different if not nearly un-recognizable from the original version of the film and that is a very good thing in this case. This is the version we were meant to see and the film that David Fincher wanted us to see all along. Without outlining specifics, I would not exaggerate by saying that with this reworking of the film, it’s now an unheralded masterpiece of sci fi.

So what took so long? Why are there two very different versions of this film? What happened the first time around?

Directed in 1992 by David Fincher, “Alien 3” was a box office success, but was met with mixed reviews. This was the by product of a nightmarish production, fraught with studio interference, several rewrites throughout the shoot and several false starts. Given almost no time to prepare after the first director bailed on the project, producers and exec’s at 20th Century Fox were quite meddlesome of this relatively untested, first-time director who was thus far known primarily for directing Paula Abdul music videos. The shoot was a constant struggle for the fledgling filmmaker. Eventually, the studio required the story to be widely restructured with a full thirty minutes additionally trimmed from the running time. The truncated and even distorted end result was so bad in the eyes of it’s director that he has since completely disowned the film. The rest of us saw it and just sorta-kinda liked it a little bit…or not. Slow dissolve to many years later when the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set is being created and all the original directors are invited to do what James Cameron had already done with “Aliens”, and make a director’s cut of their respective entries. Ridley Scott and Jeunet agreed.

Fincher did not.

That did not stop producer of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD boxset and director of the Alien Franchise making-of documentaries, Charles de Lauzirika, from using Fincher’s original script and production notes along with much discarded footage to create the defining version of the feature. To say there is a dramatic difference between the two is again, not doing it justice. However, here I must just urge you to seek out and watch this cut so as to not spoil any of the surprises(shockingly, yes, surprises) that await. It may have taken a while, but it was worth it. And frankly, Fincher’s career suffered not at all after his negative experience making “Alien 3”. Since then he’s gone on to direct such little known films as “Seven”, “Fight Club”, “The Game”, “Zodiac”, “The Social Network”, and most recently, “Gone Girl”.

So yeah, get on that.

KEEP IT CULT