So many great horror films have been delayed by COVID but we are excited to learn that “Realm of Shadows” is in production and slated for release in 2021. One of our favorite formats is horror films based on real events and urban legends. Each of these short films has real-life horror stories behind them. With a great cast and a dark setting, this one is sure to thrill. Between this and Candyman 2020 coming up this year, there are finally some new horror movies coming out for us fans of the darker side of film.
From the press release we know: Horror anthology Realm Of Shadows starring horror icons Tony Todd (Candyman franchise), Mel Novak (Bruce Lee’s Game Of Death), Michael Berryman (Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes), Tamara Glynn (Halloween 5), & rising stars Jimmy Drain (The Initiation opposite Vern Wells), Lauren C.Mayhew ( Dexter) & Vida Ghaffari (Eternal Code opposite Scout Taylor- Compton) gets a new poster.
This much anticipated film is a world of mystery, possession, and shadows in an anthology of short horror themed tales woven into a full length feature presentation. Even the most shocking stories are based on true events.
Todd plays Fr. Dudley, a long time Catholic priest, dedicated to his profession. Fr. Dudley must watch out for his close friend Robby Duray, played by Drain, during a testing time in Robby’s life. He also takes on the volatile task of taming Robby’s diabolic alter ego, and steering him away from the snares of Satan. Cassandra, played by Ghaffari is the alluring and mysterious muse of Master Makin…the mysterious owner of the haunted vault near Strain City’s infamous cemetery and narrator of the shadows for our feature presentation.
Production is underway by ThunderKnight Entertainment LTD in Denver, Colorado.
Drain and Robert Beiber wrote the screenplay. Drain and Brian McCulley are the film’s directors.
Tritone’s love of horror and mystery began at a young age. Growing up in the 80’s he got to see some of the greatest horror movies play out in the best of venues, the drive-in theater. That’s when his obsession with the genre really began—but it wasn’t just the movies, it was the games, the books, the comics, and the lore behind it all that really ignited his obsession. Tritone is a published author and continues to write and write about horror whenever possible.
Of all the terrifying creatures in the world of horror, there are few as famous as Jason Voorhees. His hockey goalie mask and machete has graced the bedroom walls of horror enthusiasts for decades, and you can’t go a single Halloween night without seeing at least 10 Jasons. But his real legacy lies with the Friday the 13th franchise – a series of 12 slasher films, comic books, video games and more based on Jason’s killing sprees. These follow Jason’s journey from a kid who “drowned” in Crystal Camp Lake to one of the greatest horror villains of all time.
There’s no denying the legacy of the Friday the 13th franchise, and Jason Voorhees, in popular culture… but did you know that most of the films received negative reviews from critics? If it’s not a Rotten Tomatoes score that makes a film memorable, then what is? Many say that it’s Jason’s terrifying appearance that has spawned merchandise, Halloween costumes, and killer tattoos for nearly 40 years. Others say it’s the sex and violence that make for a scary good (even if not sophisticated) time. Or perhaps you’d like to decide for yourself? Watch these top five films from the Friday the 13th lineup to determine why the franchise is so iconic.
The film that started it all – and funny enough, doesn’t even include Jason in his trademark hockey mask. What it does have, however, is young Kevin Bacon, lots of blood, and a sweet tale of vengeance. Friday the 13th follows a tale of teenagers who are trying to refurbish an abandoned summer camp, which has been vacant since a young boy drowned at Camp Crystal Lake many years prior. But things take a violent turn when they start getting murdered one-by-one, and you’ll never guess who’s doing it. This is the first movie in a decades-long tale of torment and fear, and who doesn’t love a good 1980’s slasher flick? Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
This is the film where Jason gets his iconic hockey mask and finds his identity as a killer, and it’s a lot of fun along the way. It was released in 3D, which was a huge deal back in 1982, and therefore gave you a lot of grotesque images of body parts coming at you through the screen. But that’s just horror, right? This is one of the best films that lays the foundation for the rest of the franchise, and you’ll really connect with Jason! Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
For the record, this film is definitely not the final chapter in the franchise. Not even close. However, it’s still one of the best Friday the 13th movies that introduces you to Tommy Jarvis, the brave kid with an affinity for masks who comes face-to-face with Jason. Portrayed by a young Corey Feldman, this film marks Tommy’s first appearance in the franchise… but definitely not his last. You’ll see him hack away at Jason with a machete and kill him, and the terrifying results will unfold over the next few films! Stream on Amazon here.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
If you asked somebody on the street which Friday the 13th film was their favorite, it would likely be Freddy vs. Jason. It’s one of the best and most popular features, likely due to the face-off between two of the biggest villains in horror. There’s just as much blood as you would expect, as Freddy raises Jason from the dead (once again) to get back into the killing spirit. While the clawed villain from your nightmares was expecting the hockey-masked murderer to help him, things get a little twisted as they start battling each other and fighting over who gets to kill whom! Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Sure, the title is kind of a spoiler… but if you’ve watched any of the movies, you already know that Jason lives. Again, and again, and again. While Tommy Jarvis murdered Jason years ago, things take a dramatic turn after the former is released from the mental hospital and returns to Crystal Lake to confront his fears. A bolt of lightning and some seriously bad luck ressurects Jason from the dead, and the killings start once again as Tommy tries to stop the hockey masked murderer once and for all. This movie is less scary, and more funny… and one of the best parts of what makes Friday the 13th so iconic? It doesn’t take itself too seriously! Stream on Amazon here.
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.
[Matheson is] the author who influenced me most as a writer.”
– Stephen King
Recognized and appreciated by some enormously famous modern authors and stars of their own right, Richard Matheson was named a Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention and even received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other notable times where he was recognized as a writer, was when he won the Edgar, The Spur, the Writer’s Guild Awards–and just three years before his death, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Unsurprisingly, a legend of his quality was also a writer of several screenplays for movies and television series–his most famous job in this respect was as a contributing writer to the original The Twilight Zone.
Richard Matheson’s ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories . . . For me, he is in the same category as Bradbury and Asimov.
– Steven Spielberg
The Literature of Matheson
Since the first Matheson story was published in 1950, nearly every major writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy has derived some type of inspiration from him–Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and Joe Hill are amongst the most renowned writers. He revolutionized the gothic horror genre that was imagined initially by Bram Stoker and removed it from the traditional Gothic castles and strange otherworldly settings to the modern, more realistic world that we can better associate with. Along with the change of setting, Matheson allows the supernatural, paranormal, and dark examination of the human soul to permeate his stories. What’s more, is Matheson also somehow brought in the existential dread that made the cosmic horror genre so captivating.
So what exactly did Matheson write that we’ve heard of, even if we haven’t heard of him? Well–we named a couple of them above, but here are a few in more depth, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with at least some of these.
He was a giant, and YOU KNOW HIS STORIES, even if you think you don’t.
– Neil Gaiman
I Am Legend (1954)
Set in the future of 1976, the year after a deadly plague has swept the world and killed nearly every human being on earth–after dying, the world’s humans rise from the grave as vampires–sensitive to light, garlic, and mirrors. Since they are dormant during the day and impervious to bullets, Robert Neville, the one remaining human, has managed to survive by fortifying himself in his house at night and slaying vampires by day. Over time he begins to experiment on the vampires, he kidnaps them while they’re sleeping and begins to see how they react to different stimuli. We see the stereotypes of vampire lore challenged here, including when Neville begins to work on isolating the vampire germ.
The moral of the story is that sometimes the monsters are who we least expect them to be.
Four people–a physicist, his wife and two mediums–have been hired by a dying millionaire to investigate the possibility of life after death with only a week to investigate the infamous Belasco House in Maine, which is regarded as the most haunted house in the world. The Belasco House has been thusly dubbed as “Hell House” due to the horrible acts of blasphemy and perversion that occurred there under the influence of Emeric Belasco. Murder mystery, as well as the puzzle of why the majority of people who enter Hell House end up dead before they can leave, make up the spiraling tale of Matheson’s Hell House.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet from the anthology Alone by Night (1961)
Often hailed as one of Matheson’s best-known works, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet is the tale of an airline passenger who experiences feelings of insanity–to the point of doubting whether or not he was seeing reality when only he sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane, damaging one of the engines.
This short story debuted in the anthology Alone by Night (1961) and has been reprinted numerous times–it has even been realized on both the original series of The Twilight Zone as well as the more modern reboot as well as inspiring several scenes in other television shows.
A typical and ordinary life is something that Tom Wallace takes advantage of without realizing it–he scoffs at the idea that there is anything more to the world than what meets the eye, that is until by random chance an event awakens the psychic abilities that he never could have imagined possessing. Tom’s existence turns into a waking nightmare as he begins hearing the private thoughts of the people who surround him on a daily basis and he learns secrets that he never wanted to know. Eventually things escalate to the point where Tom begins to receive messages from beyond the grave.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.
During his lifetime, Robert Bloch traveled through the horror subgenres in pursuit of any and all things strange, morbid, or macabre. He started his writing career by imitating his mentor H.P. Lovecraft and subsequently becoming Lovecraft’s peer when he began to expand upon the Cthulhu mythos. It’s fair to say that without the influence and encouragement of Lovecraft, Bloch may never have become the successful and prolific author of horror fiction.
The Wildly Successful Novel?
It’s true that “millions of people across the globe know Psycho very well,” (Hood and Szumskyj, 102) but the Pyscho that they know is the Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation—to say that as many of them are familiar with the original novel by Robert Bloch would simply be false. Truth be told, however, without the masterful original inspiration, there would be no Psycho film franchise and massive following that it has had over the years.
All in all, Bloch himself was quite satisfied with how the movie adaptation came out, not to mention the fact that he regularly quoted Hitchcock when he reminded people that, “Psycho all came from Robert Bloch’s book. The scriptwriter, Joseph Stefano, a radio writer, he had been recommended by my agents MCA, contributed dialogue mostly, no ideas.” This apparently tickled Bloch so much that he even repeated it in his own unofficial biography Once Around the Bloch. He wanted everyone to know how much he endorsed the movie as a great representation of his book, this was a change in direction for Hitchcock, who had a history of taking artistic liberties when adapting other novels to the screen—consider, for example, the differences between Hitchcock’s The Birds (19363) and Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds and Other Stories.
Was Psycho (1959) Based on a True Story?
Bloch had a pretty obsessive fascination with psychopaths and serial killers in general, in fact, the inspiration for his masterful novel Psycho (1959) was loosely based on “the infamous real-life Wisconsin serial murderer Ed Gein” (Hood and Szumskyj, 104). In 1985, Bloch gave an interview to Ron Leming where he disclosed the fact that at the time Gein’s crimes were discovered, he had lived only twenty-nine miles away from where Gein had lived in Plainfield, Wisconsin. It was upon this discovery that Bloch became obsessed with the idea of this psychotic murderous person living in plain sight, perhaps even being the seemingly kind neighbor who would fly under the radar. Although Bloch didn’t intend for the novel to read like a biography of Gein’s life, he did take elements from his life as inspiration for his main character, Norman Bates. Ed Gein was, during his early years, a poor loner raised by troubled parents; his father was an alcoholic and his mother a domineering and fanatically religious woman who exerted her monstrously controlling influence upon Ed and his older brother Henry. It’s not terribly surprising that Henry ended up dying in a fire under suspicious circumstances in their family home.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Film Adaptation: Psycho (1960)
When Alfred Hitchcock purchased the rights of Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho (1959) for a meager $9,500 he did so anonymously—it wasn’t until closer to the release of the film that he came to find out. Hitchcock’s screenwriter Joseph Stefano remained incredibly true to the original story, altering the screenplay only minimally to fit the infamous director’s vision.
Hitchcock’s wildly successful film continues to dominate the public consciousness and, indeed, its dreams and nightmares: the stark, indelible black-and-white images, the characters, the suspense and horror of the storyline, the infamous shower scene, Norman Bates as masterfully portrayed by the unnerving Anthony Perkins, the ultimate unveiling of “Mrs. Bates,” the unforgettably desolate setting of the little neglected dark motel off the road far from the main highway and the house behind it—all this has, by the present day, become such a part and parcel of our culture that for many, Psycho is just one of Hitchcock’s most popular and shocking films, now as then upon its release in 1960.
Scott D. Briggs, “The Keys to the Bates Motel: Robert Bloch’s Psycho Trilogy” in The Man Who Collected Psychos (2009)
Trickery in the Theater
Hitchcock was possibly at the height of his showmanship when the 1960s thriller Psycho came out. Now, when we look back at how he maximized the attention of this legendary film’s release, we can see how blatant of a publicity stunt it really was.
Kudos to Hitchcock though, because he committed to it to such a degree that he made it abundantly clear that, in no uncertain terms, no one was allowed into the theater once the feature had begun.
Stationed outside each box office where the film was being featured was a five-foot-tall cardboard standee of Hitchcock himself, holding a sign that warned theater attendees of the following:
WE WON’T ALLOW YOU to cheat yourself! You must see PSYCHO from beginning to end to enjoy it fully.
Therefore, do not expect to be admitted into the theatre after the start of each performance of the picture. We say no one – and we mean no one – not even the manager’s brother, the President of the United States, or the Queen of England (God bless her)!
– Alfred Hitchcock
Now, if you have seen this classic thriller, you’ll know exactly why Hitchcock didn’t want people to walk in late and spoil the movie for themselves, but if you don’t know why—consider the following:
The synopsis of the movie is that “a Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.” To go along with this, the theatrical trailer for the movie shows the star of the film as Janet Leigh—Leigh’s part in the movie, while substantial to the story, is tragic and short-lived. This was incredibly controversial and shocking to audience members who, having watched the trailer, expected her to be in the entire movie. Classic Hitchcock.
The Remake—Psycho (1998)
While the remake from 1998 didn’t add any content or context that enriched the movie from the original Bloch creation, it did come across as a reverential and faithful scene-by-scene retelling of the original movie. Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche play our main characters and do these classic scenes a decent amount of justice. Other than being a modernized version of the original film, there isn’t much that this movie brings to the table—I still personally enjoy watching it occasionally.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.
In his seminal novel Dune, author Frank Herbert writes, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer”. This idea, that fear steals and kills who we are, is taken to a terrifying new level in the space horror comic Rogue Planet (2020) where the fears of our main characters literally come to life and hunt them down in a strange alien landscape. Though the story shackles itself within its sci-fi horror conventions, if you’re a fan of the Alienfranchise or H.P. Lovecraft then you will probably still have a good time with this one.
In a faraway galaxy there is a “rogue” planet (i.e. one not bound to any planetary system or star) where aliens worship a grotesque and horrifying elder god. The comic wastes no time introducing us to some of its main elements, namely the towering fleshy monument of the god and the lengths the inhabitants will go through to appease its bloodlust. We see an alien father sacrifice his own son in front of the multi-eyed obelisk, which really helps set the dark and dangerous tone that runs throughout the story.
After this jarring opening we cut to the salvage ship Cortes, where the crew is just beginning to wake from hyper-sleep. They’ve found a distress signal and followed it to the unknown world, hoping to loot whatever treasures they may find. However, upon discovering a massive ship graveyard they begin to feel something is amiss. This uneasy feeling quickly turns to outright terror as they are attacked by a massive tentacled monster, and they spend the rest of the comic fighting for their lives against numerous bizarre and deadly enemies.
No spoilers here, but the Rogue Planet comic makes it clear pretty early on that none of the crew are safe from the planetary nightmares they face. While this ramps up the stakes and tension, it would have been even more effective if we cared more for our main characters. We do get scenes of expository banter that lend layers to their personas, but for the most part they remain static archetypes typical of the sci-fi horror genre. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it adds to the feeling of “been there, done that” that permeates the story.
For a story about a ship following a distress signal to a hostile world, it plays out about like one would expect. The humans are placed in increasingly dangerous scenarios as the mysteries of the planet are slowly revealed. The aliens are all fairly nondescript, resembling a primitive tribe that has been intruded upon by foreigners. Following its cosmic horror roots the plot also dips into a baffling spirituality and mythos in its final act. True to the genre I was left wondering what I’d just read, but unfortunately it didn’t have the unnerving impact that the best in cosmic horror carries.
Where Rogue Planet really shines is in its unsettling imagery, abundant violence, and eye-catching artwork. The chaotic evil force is presented in various ways: there’s a gargantuan, veiny, many-mouthed worm (reminiscent of Junji Ito’s manga Remina), a host of hollowed out astronauts with streaming tentacles where their heads should be, and even a larger, bonier version of the facehugger from Alien. All iterations are unnerving, and all represent new levels of dread and mayhem for our misfortuned crew. These creatures are particularly creepy thanks to the bold illustrations from Andy Macdonald and the shimmering colors from Nick Filardi.
In terms of sci-fi horror, Rogue Planet doesn’t break any new ground. But the comic also manages to elevate above being a completely awful rip-off. There’s enough here – between the intriguing concepts and provocative artwork – to keep readers engaged in the story, even when they’re confused or find themselves feeling déjà vu. Though previous entries in the genre have tackled the same concepts with better results, the creepy images and stellar coloring make this one still worth a read. Just lower your expectations and you’ll have fun with it.
Ben’s love for horror began at a young age when he devoured books like the Goosebumps series and the various scary stories of Alvin Schwartz. Growing up he spent an unholy amount of time binge watching horror films and staying up till the early hours of the morning playing games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Since then his love for the genre has only increased, expanding to include all manner of subgenres and mediums. He firmly believes in the power of horror to create an imaginative space for exploring our connection to each other and the universe, but he also appreciates the pure entertainment of B movies and splatterpunk fiction.
Nowadays you can find Ben hustling his skills as a freelance writer and editor. When he’s not building his portfolio or spending time with his wife and two kids, he’s immersing himself in his reading and writing. Though he loves horror in all forms, he has a particular penchant for indie authors and publishers. He is a proud supporter of the horror community and spends much of his free time reviewing and promoting the books/comics you need to be reading right now!
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