Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Don't Breathe (2016)

Blind guy from Don't Breathe
Blind but far from helpless in Don't Breathe

It's hard to attack a movie like Don't Breathe. It's a big screen, R rated horror movie that's doing gang buster business at the box office. OK maybe not so hard as I have seen reviews attacking it. Negative reviews based on the sexual abuse sub-plot and it lack of scares and tension. I went in hoping to be able to defend it against the anti- rape sentiment that is cascading through the horror community. I guess I should state at this point that I am not, in any way, pro-rape. However I also feel a horror movie should be about horror, and if a rape scene is necessary for the story, it should happen. Like all things care should be taken that it's not gratuitous and unnecessary.

So I went in to Don't Breathe hopeful. Riding high on some positive reviews of people I trusted. Reviews that the film was a taut, suspenseful ride, if not really scary. The basic plot was interesting, and held some promise. A group of kids break into a house attempting to rob it, only to find themselves trapped inside. Trapped and hunted by a blind man with murderous intent. It was a great set up actually. Turning the tables on movies with a blind victim stalked by home invaders such as the classic Wait Until Dark. 
Don't Breathe Movie poster and review
Don't Breathe movie poster

However, as is often the case, reality is far removed from promise. Sadly it was a great set up mostly wasted, and I have a hard time defending it, or defending the inclusion of the rape scene. I wont attack it to hard, because there was a couple good points to the film. They were minor points, and while I have a hard time saying I enjoyed Don't Breathe, I don’t hate it. It just wasn't anything special, which is a shame for a movie doing so well.

So on to those good points. Stephen Lang was a good point. I thought he was great as the blind antagonist. I just think the character wasn't well written or thought out. He had potential and Lang did what he could to bring it out. But whereas he could have been a strong malevolent force, or alternatively a sympathetic character gone bad, it seemed the writers couldn't decide and tried to split the difference. There was also such variance in his abilities. He can bounce all around his house, reacting or over reacting to the slightest sound. At other times he can't hear footfalls, or his potential victims talking. Even his lack of eye sight seems to vary. Is he blind? It appears so at times. Other times he seems to have some blurry vision. I still say Lang gave it his best but he couldn't salvage the character. So instead of a imposing Zatoichi, we get a limp ass Daredevil.

The other thing that impressed me, with no reservations was the setting. Don't Breathe showed Detroit in it's festering decay. It avoided the easy route of showing deteriorating urban vistas and grand violence. Instead it showed us what appeared to be sub urban homes fallen into decay. It shocked me to think an American city could look like this. Homes, that might once have been nice, even expensive homes being reclaimed by nature. It looks like we are witnessing what will one day become ancient ruins right in front of our eyes. From friends who live in Michigan, Don't Breathe presented a realistic picture of Detroit. My last point is spoilerish so I'll leave till the end.

On to the bad. It's true what they said. The people who hated it. Don't Breathe just isn't scary. However it isn't true that it's a suspenseful ride. It just never put me on edge. Never made me feel claustrophobic. There are so many films that got this right. The Descent, the end scenes of Silence of the Lambs, even the low budget Crawl or Die. The scenes of the protagonists fleeing in the trapped house were just to few and far between. More time should have been spent hiding, slowly creeping, trying not to make a sound.

And there was just too much sound. Ambient sound from the score, people talking, it was just too much. This film should have taken a clue from The Witch and had long moments of absolute silence. Then every sound would have been amplified, and shocking. Watch the end of the wonderful Tombs of the Blind Dead. Listen as the woman hides from the blind dead, being completely silent until we hear the sound of her heart, beating louder and louder as the dead moved toward her. That was fucking tension. That was fucking horror.

Now the rape scene, and ***Spoiler alert***there was no actual rape. A sexual assault/rape was planned but did not happen. There was a rape perpetuated but it was off screen, before the events of the film. Now I feel, personal opinion, that a rape can be used in a horror film, just as much as a murder, decapitation, disembowelment or immolation. Yes, it's a bad thing, but bad people in horror movies do bad things. In Don't Breathe though, the scene just interrupts from what we want to see, from what we paid to see, which is a bad ass blind man hunting down people who invaded his home.

What was this sub plot meant to do anyway? Was it to make him more of a monster? Or to attempt some amount of sympathy for him? It did neither. All the subplot managed to do was make our already barely likeable protagonists even less likeable. Why not leave the sub plot off. Allow the antagonist to be a more sympathetic character. A victim of a home invasion by morally ambiguous characters. Just a sad, man who snaps and goes nuclear on a group of kids. Or just make him a horrible, irredeemable character. It tried to hold the middle ground and it lost it all. Even the line “I'm not a rapist”, is that supposed to illicit sympathy? Make him look not quite so bad? It fucking failed miserably. If anything it made him look like a sick fuck and a pussy. Freddy Kruger never tries to justify what he does.

The protagonists themselves are not easily likeable. That's OK with me. I don’t have to like characters to feel or them, or to enjoy them as leads in a movie. I can even dig a movie with a sympathetic villain and unlikeable heroes if it's done right. The problem here is the characters are so typical. You know almost from the beginning who is going to live and die. Honestly if you have ever seen a handful of horror movies you should know exactly in what order they will bite it. If you have seen Don't Breathe, raise your hand if you called it. There's money the tough guy, packing heat gangsta wanna be (G-Money!!! Holla) who wants to escape Detroit, his girlfriend Rocky, who's in an abusive family and wants to escape with her younger sister, and Alex, the nerd who goes along on the robberies because of his hopeless crush on Rocky. OK even if you haven't seen Don't Breathe, raise your hand if you called it. BTW cheap ass low blow opening the film with a scene late in the movie to try and trick your audience Fede.

Still even with unlikeable characters this could have been a hit. Scrap the hostage/rape subplot and dedicate the majority of the running time to the characters running and fighting for their lives. Turn up that claustrophobia by using narrow hallways and basements, limited lighting and very sparse sounds. Scare the shit out of your audience every time you hear a foot scrape on the floor. Imagine ten minutes of silence, broke by a sudden small sound amplified out the ass. It's horror, be fucking scary.

The last thing I will say is I liked the final scene. OK I liked parts of the final scene and I have to spoil it so, look away Martha!!!! ***Spoiler alert***
At the end when we find out the bad blind guy isn’t dead (can you spell “sequel” kiddos?), Rocky makes the decision to get on the train and go on to her new life. Totally morally bad, no heroic ending that worked for me. To many times the average Joe, instead of making good on his escape goes back to be a hero. I just rarely find that believable. Rocky knows by keeping his secret, by walking away, he will probably kidnap and rape/not rape another girl. She knows and shes willing to live with that to escape with her sister. Of course in the sequel, the blind dude will probably fly to Cali and track her down, build a trap house and YAWWWWWWNNNN, make millions.

Don't Breathe was directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead), and stars Jane Levy (Evil Dead), Dylan Minette (Goosebumps), Daniel Zovatto (It Follows), and Stephen Lang (Tombstone). Sadly I can only muster a limp 4 out of ten stars for Don't Breathe

Sunday, November 6, 2016

In the Dark with Satan

Satan by Walter Sablotney
Satan by Walter Sablotney

This week we have a very special episode of In the Dark with a very special guest. No movie star or model but the devil himself, Lucifer, Satan, has granted us an exclusive interview. In we talk about his music career, his favorite films. We also broach the subject of Ozzy Osbourne and the paternity test from hell. A slight detour into the presidential campaign of hell, and even the church of satan. You don't want to miss it, our guest night take it personally! Along the way we take a few calls, answer some viewer mail email. We get right into it after some devil music. Special thanks to Walter Sablotny III for the use of some awesome artwork

It's all in good fun, so no Sound guy Willie....or is there? You never know when the worlds most unfamous sound guy, janitor, fan fiction writer and all around asshole might show up. It's a short show so short show notes. So remember kiddies, say your prayers, eat your veggies and go to church on Sunday or the Devil might be a guest on your podcast

This was a bit of an experimental podcast. I am a self taught podcaster, but I do owe a debt of gratitude to William Bozarth for tips on content and encouragement as well as to Dean Charles aka Dr. Blood for technical help as well as inspiring me to “work on the content, and the audience will come” paraphrased. Recording over the skype connection caused issues so I decided to try a solo podcast (of sorts). It was physically daunting with the equipment I have. That equipment being a laptop a microphone and a copy of audacity. And not enough free time! Still it was accomplished. Is it good? That is up for you to decide, not me. It's all in good fun and no animosity is aimed at anyone. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave non-spambot feedback in the comments

Monday, October 31, 2016

In The Dark with Elizabeth Mears

It's the Halloween episode of In The Dark podcast with Lord Dixie and special guest Lizzie Mears. Elizabeth Lizzie Mears is an actress best know for her role as the bitchy Janet on the comedy horror film Dollface, otherwise known as Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head. Elizabeth can alsoo be seen in the new supernatural horror film Family Possessions. Family Possessions also stars In The Dark guest Leah Wiseman, Jason Vail, Mark Patton and Felissa Rose. It is making the convention and festival circuit and we will let you know when it has a DVD or VoD release.
In the Dark with Elizabeth Mears
Elizabeth Mears from Family Possessions

Lizzie answers questions about Family Possessions and Dollface, as well about acting with Leah and with director Tommy Faircloth. Lord Dixie and her also talk about the fun of film festivals and discuss Elizabeth Mears other film and Television work.

Then since it is Halloween the show gets a little spooky when they take call ins to the show. But wait, who calls in to a pre-recorded call? It is Halloween but that's a bit strange regardless. Never the less for good or bad Lord Dixie and Elizabeth take a handful of spooky calls before taking a short break.

After a thirty second break to get over the weirdness, since I over used spookiness already, the show comes back for a game of lightening round. Ten questions in rapid fire succession while Lizzie answers them off the top of her head! No time to think, no lifeline and you can't phone a friend! Not even Carl can saver her now! After the questions, the laughter subsides and there isn't a dry eye in the house as we say goodbye to Elizabeth. Well ok maybe it wasn't a tearful good bye, and we do hope to have Lizzie back on soon. And don't forget to check out Dollface and FamilyPossessions.
The beautiful and sexy Elizabeth Mears
The Beautiful Elizabeth Mears from Dollface and Family Possessions

There were some audio problems, found after the show that simply did not appear until the recording was being parsed. They were edited as best as possible by the deadline to ger the show posted. I apologize as it is definitely our goal to provide a good quality product, both in content and technical quality

Sunday, October 23, 2016

In the Dark with LadyAslan

Anitra de Lorenzo aka LadyAslan
Anitra de Lorenzo aka LadyAslan is In the Dark

After a week off, In the Dark returns with our very special guest, LadyAslan herself, Anitra De Lorenzo. The intention of the show was to focus on the writings of Anitra but we quickly, and predictably go off course. But that's OK we do get to know her and find out a lot about her. She has lead an adventuresome life, traveling and experiencing what life has to offer. Unfortunately experiencing life often leads you into the path of trolls, stalkers and bullies. We discuss this in a sometimes serious, sometimes lite hearted way, sippy sippy. Yes the elephant in the room (in San Mateo) does get brought up and discussed at length. Realistically there was no way that Anitra and I could talk about entertainment, writing and bullying without bringing up Mr. Fan Fiction. This was a long show as Anitra is a dear friend and we could talk for ages.

LadyAslan In the Dark
LadyAslan author of Lipstick and Absinthe joins Lord Dixie In the Dark

There is also the usual tom foolery, with completely inappropriate behavior by Plumber Willie, who at one point attempts to commander the show. I wont have none of that and he was swiftly put back in his place. The dumpster that is. We also have a very special opening musical intro by Rim Wipe, titled Itchy Dixie,which is wildly appropriate for this show. A big thank you goes out to Dani Carnage and Rimwipe for allowing us to use their song. Please go here and show them lots of love and support. You will enjoy yourself in the process. And of course you can go here to learn more about the lovely and talented Ladyaslan aka Anitra. To all the baby bats #babybats, that tune in, thank you in advance and I'm sorry for what you hear lol. That wraps up this session of show notes, prepare for a Halloween show next week!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

In the Dark with Victoria De Mare

Victoria De Mare
Victoria De Mare is In the Dark

We are back with another episode of Inthe Dark, this week with special guest Victoria De Mare. That's right, the lovely actress Victoria De Mare. Victoria stars as the demonic clown Batty Boop in the Killjoy series of movies from Charles Band's Full Moon Films. De Mare makes her first appearance as Batty in Killjoy 3 and her popularity lead to her reprising the role in the next two films, including the upcoming Killjoy Psycho Circus. There are a lot of stories of creepy clowns, but Batty could lure me into the woods any day!

The show opens with sad news from the sea of Japan regarding Sound Guy Willie. Ok maybe not so sad, it is Sound Guy Willie we are talking about. If you don't find Willie funny, well you probably just have good taste. But it's a short bit before we flush Willie away and get on to the lovely Victoria De Mare. Special shout out to Zombie XXX, as we reprise the opening tune they wrote for Dead Sexy Radio, during a quick break before we bring on Victoria De Mare.

Victoria De Mare naked with gun
In the Dark with Victoria De Mare

Then it's on to Victoria. We talk about her career, in movies as well as her musical career. Victoria also talks about her training in dance and her IMDB which lists 91 film roles and she assures us it is far from up to date. Besides her female lead role in the Killjoy series, she has also appeared in small roles in the Amazon Prime series Bosch, as well as a scene in the hit superhero movie Deadpool. Yes that Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds. We also take a few minutes to talk about the phenomena of creepy clowns that is apparently plaguing America. Are we facing a clown apocalypse? Or are people just really stupid? I know how I'm voting on that one.

All things end, and so does this episode, as we sign off to this episode of In the Dark and say good bye to our guest Victoria De Mare.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

In the Dark with Hannah Elizabeth Smith

Hannah Elizabeth Smith of Baphomet
Hannah Elizabeth Smith star of Baphomet

Welcome back to the long over due second episode of In the Dark. Yes it has been a while but your ever loveable Lord Dixie is back with another episode. This week Dixie aka Allen is joined by special guest Hannah Elizabeth Smith. Hannah is a young, upcoming actor of both stage and screen from North Carolina. She has played the role of Carrie White in Carrie the musical, and Lady McBeth on stage. She is also the lead in the upcoming horror movie Baphomet. If you haven't been paying attention, Baphomet is the story of Hannah (played by Hannah Elizabeth Smith), a beautiful, sociopathic serial killer prowling the East Coast for victims. The project is still in the fund raising stage if you want to help out go here.

Lord Dixie even did a small write up for House of Tortured Souls, but Hannah will give us even more of the low down on the project. We will also talk about her other projects past, present and future, especially her role as Carrie White and upcoming Average Joe. Along with all this Hannah fills us in a bit on the state of the film industry in North Carolina after the loss of the tax incentives for film makers. Then the conversation turns south as they tackle the subject of the dick pic. What is the reasoning and logic of the dick pic? You might find out, or you might just shake your head.

Sadly the episode begins with the unwarranted and unwanted return of Sound Guy Willie. Who out there doesn't love Willie? Almost everyone apparently, Still he's back for his own brand of un-funny comedy. Still what can you do? We couldn't find a better bit in time for the show. It's OK if you just skip over him, we all want to skip past him.

But enjoy the conversation with Hannah Elizabeth Smith and keep an eye out for Baphomet.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

In The Dark with Leah Wiseman

Leah Wiseman
Leah Wiseman from Family Possessions

Welcome to the first episode of In The Dark, with your host Lord Dixie and special guest Leah Wiseman.
Leah is an actress who can be seen now in the horror movie Dollface (originally titles Dorchester's Revenge the Return of Crinoline Head) and will soon be seen in the paranormal slasher Family Possessions. Family Possessions is directed by Tommy Faircloth (Who also directed Dollface)
The show opens with a remix of Tito and Tarantula's After Dark, (https://soundcloud.com/eko911/tito-tarantula-after-dark) used under creative commons.
Then Lord Dixie opens the show and introduces his comedic (well kind of) foil Sound Guy Willie. What is Willie up to in the corner? Do we really want to know?
After we have had more than enough of Willie theres a short musical break and at roughly 6:25 seconds Dixie welcomes Leah Wiseman to In The Dark.
The lovely Leah Wiseman of Dollface and Family Possessions
Leah Wiseman

They discuss Dollman, Family Possessions, horror conventions and random stuff, including the all important question, "Is Lizzie Mears nicer than her character in Dollface?"
Then another small break and we say fare well to Leah