Our Favorite Films of 2014


The new year is almost upon us, so it's time to bring you all a list of our favorite films of 2014 to close it all out. While we wont lie and say we have seen every horror film released this year, we have however seen the majority of them. Our list here isn't some kind of wanna be definitive end all be all list as much as it is a recap of our thoughts and impressions on the years films. We start with the horror films, however we also have included some of our favorite non horror films from the year as we simply cannot overlook how much we enjoyed them. We ALSO have included some words on a few films that we WERE NOT particularly impressed by or that let us down.

Our Top 5  Horror Films of 2014 

STARRY EYES:
Directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer



Starry Eyes is the story of an aspiring actress named Sarah (played to perfection by Alexandra Essoe) who gets more than she bargained for when she thinks she lands the role of a lifetime for a fictitious film company "Astraeus Pictures". The film explores the cutthroat nature of Hollywood and the struggle anyone trying to get into the business will encounter,and  by all accounts it hits the mark more often than not. Right down to the aspiring filmmakers and actresses who constantly talk about doing things, instead of actually doing them. Things get weird after Sarah's audition for the aforementioned studio goes not as planned, then after they get weird they get grim, and extremely gory. There were some scenes in the film that were so brutal and gross (in a good horror movie way) that they were absolutely cringe inducing and I definitely squinted a time or two.  Without going into full review mode I will say Starry Eyes won me over early on based on the strength of the lead actress, interesting story hook, and the sense of style that it was shot with. Also have to give much credit to it's excellent synth tinged score by Jonathan Snipes. Overall this was probably my favorite (actual) horror film this year. As I just stated I am a sucker for style and a good score, and Starry Eyes has that in throughout but also has the very important performance by Alexandra Essoe which pulls you into the compelling tale of what one woman would sacrifice to achieve her dream. Of all the horror films you see this year, I also feel this one will provide you with the most horrific imagery of them all.



DELIVER US FROM EVIL:
Directed by Scott Derrickson


I am a big fan of director Scott Derrickson's previous two films "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Sinister" which is one of my new modern favorites. So I was excited to check out "Deliver Us From Evil" when it hit theaters this summer. While I know many horror fans are sick and tired of possession and exorcism themed films and others were not fans of this flick I ended up enjoying it. I too was pretty burnt out on these type of films, but I knew Derrickson would bring a fresh take on it and inject it with the same artistry he used in his prior works. The urban New York City setting and angle of it being told from an NYPD Sergeant's perspective was a big plus for me. Derrickson does a great job utilizing the locations to help capture an extremely dark and dreary rain drenched atmosphere that gives the proceedings an ominous vibe. The story revolves around Sgt. Ralph Sarchie's pursuit of a demonically possessed war vet is pretty straight forward and simple but its Derrickson's eye that elevates the material to a height a lesser director might not have been able to achieve.  Actors Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez play the roles well of the Sgt and Priest caught up in the supernatural occurences (though Bana's attempt at a New York accent could use some work) Joel McHale also provides a noteworthy performance as Bana's partner on the force.So what you get here is a good combination of the cop thriller,creepy horror with enough human drama to make you care about it all. Overall I really enjoyed this different twist on demonic possession, the class that it's all handled with here made "Deliver Us From Evil" one of the better horror films of 2014. 



UNDER THE SKIN:
Directed by Jonathan Glazer


Under the Skin is a movie that I am not totally sure how it ended up here in my favorites of the year list, let alone my top 5. My initial reaction upon seeing this in the theater was and I quote "oooookaaaaay.....?" I wasn't sure what I just watched or if I even liked it. Truthfully while I found plenty of it to be haunting and creepy, I thought it was way too artsy and meandering for it's own good. I actually STILL think that to an extent. So why or how did it make my list? A funny thing happened after a while, the movie stayed with me, I kept thinking about it, the eerie portions of this film had made their mark. Scarlett Johannson plays the role of the cold blooded sensual predator to a T here. The basic story for those that don't know is Scarlett Johannson is an alien prowling the streets of Scotland looking for prey (men). It's been said that alot of the scenes in which she drives around and approaches men on the street were unscripted and shot with hidden cameras, this only adds to the creepy nature of it all. To see her turn on the charm then go ice cold the minute she realizes they do not fit her criteria is chilling. This film is certainly NOT for everyone and I wouldn't fault anyone who can't get into it. It's an extremely slow burn and very abstract to boot and the horror elements could have been capitalized on a tad more, but I think with the right frame of mind, many horror fans will be won over by the haunting imagery, creepy situations and the amazingly eerie score by Mica Levi that is a character in the film all it's own. There is plenty more that can be said about this flick, but I will leave you with this. If a film keeps you thinking about it long after you have seen it and can still manage to creep you out in some way, that is the sign of an effective horror movie. Also pick up that score wherever you can, it's brilliant and easily one of the best of the year if not THE best. 






THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon


I am not a big fan of the original "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" I barely actually remember anything about it. Im sure some fans will say thats "blasphemy" but I know others will agree, it is more a popular name than anything. The point of that diatribe is that I had no feelings on the fact that this was being remade as the original is not an important film for me. However one of my buddies mentioned that he enjoyed this version a great deal. So I went ahead and checked it out last night while compiling this list and I must say while not a perfect film, It was definitely one of the best slashers I have seen in a while. The beautiful camera work here really helps set it apart from other horror movies of this kind and the attack scenes and the gore that follows are absolutely brutal. Instead of being a straight up remake, The Town That Dreaded Sundown exists in a world where the original film exists AS a film, about the actual murders. In this world someone has decided to "remind" everyone that "the phantom" has returned. That prior sentence may be confusing to read, but you will get it as soon as you watch the opening minutes. I think it was a really great way to play it and it caught my interest. The cast here sprinkled with well known character actors all help elevate the film to something better than it has any right to be. I had alot of fun with this one and would suggest it to every fan of the slasher genre, even with its ending which felt a bit rushed and slightly "eh" it still leaves an impression on you and I look forward to what the director does next. 




THE GUEST:
Directed by Adam Wingard


The Guest TECHNICALLY in my book IS NOT a horror film. However, it still fits into the horror movie category for a variety of reasons in my book. It's inspirations come from plenty of old school horror/thriller films such as the Terminator and various Halloween films/sequels. The badass synth score by Steve Moore could have easily come from a Carpenter film of that era. To top everything off the entire movie takes place during the Halloween season. The Guest is one of my favorite films overall this year and is just a really fun throwback film. The advertising and marketing didnt really do a good job at all of getting across just how unique this film is. I personally would have loved to have been tasked with figuring out how to market this to audiences. To read more about it here is the link to our full review from when it was released theatrically. THE GUEST full review

Of all the marketing materials out there this teaser trailer does the best job of not giving away too much yet still cluing you in as to what type of movie this is. 



HONORABLE MENTION:

THE BABADOOK:
Directed by Jennifer Kent


This was one of my most anticipated films of the year, As I sat down to watch it, I was hoping I would love it, once I was finished, I did not love it. The Babadook is a good film. There is no denying that.The production design is very well done and influenced greatly by German expressionism. The acting by Essie Davis who plays the mother Amelia and Noah Wiseman who plays the son Samuel is exceptional. There are moments throughout in the beginning of the film that are extremely creepy. However what the trailer sells us on and what the movie actually turned out to be were for me two different things. I won't spoil it, but after watching it and then viewing it a second time since I was really tired during my first viewing, I came to the conclusion that its just a good film, but not the horror film I wanted or was expecting based on the trailer. As a matter of fact I would say the trailer below is a better horror film than the actual movie turned out to be. Of course my opinion seems to be in the minority, but I have discussed it with a few friends who have seen it and we have often agreed on the fact that it is just not the masterpiece everyone is claiming it is. My personal feeling on it is that while I am all for having to draw conclusions of my own after viewing a movie, (ie Under The Skin) things in the movie have to add up and make SOME sense for me to do that and I feel that isn't always the case here. ALL that being said I would still recommend checking it out as I look for specific things in my horror and while this didn't fully deliver it is certainly worth your time to see if it do so for you. 





OUR FAVORITE NON-HORROR FILMS OF THE YEAR

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Directed by Matt Reeves


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes completely blew me away. It is my film of the year and I have urged everyone who hasn't to watch it immediately. The Performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar is Oscar worthy. Never before has a cgi character been so easy to relate with and root for. The FX work is astounding and the movie gets better with each watch. I wont go into too much detail but if you enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, absolutely check out Dawn. 


GODZILLA
Directed by Gareth Edwards


Godzilla was my sentimental pick for movie of the year. Dawn of the Apes was the better movie, but Godzilla was the best theater going experience I have had this year and one I won't soon forget. The gist of my love for this film lies in my life long love for the titular character. Coupled with a genius marketing campaign. This film brought him back to audiences with respect and class and I was so extremely happy about that. I wrote a much more in depth review of Godzilla back on opening night and while I wrote it hastily to get it finished, all the sentiment and info is there.You can check that out here: Godzilla full review






CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Directed by the Russo Brothers


I love comic books, and in a year full of comic book films, Captain America was simply the best. Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast but for me Cap delivered on every level, action, story, emotion. It raised the stakes for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I cannot wait to see how it affects the rest of the stories going forward. 










Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen: The Recap


Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen was one of our main projects for during this past October. The concept was to take a minimalist approach and have our models portray feminine versions of some of horror's most iconic characters. We received a great response to all the individual shoots when we revealed them one by one throughout October. Now that we have had a chance to catch our breath here after the hectic Halloween season, we wanted to revisit this project and shine some new light on it, as some may have gotten overlooked during everything that was going on last month. So here we are revealing a previously unseen photo from each set followed by a link to it's previous post so you can check out any you may have missed. So without further ado...

MARILYN SAYS "YOU'RE NEXT"
The first set we unveiled features Marilyn donning an outfit inspired by the Fox masked killer from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's film "You're Next". These were a big hit and even prompted Simon Barrett himself to post the photos and a link to our site on his Facebook page, which for us was the highest compliment. 


To see the rest from this set click here.


DEB REVS UP HER TEXAS CHAINSAW
Next up we have our homage to everyone's favorite skin mask wearing slasher, Leatherface. Deb was great to shoot with and excited to represent Bubba Sawyer in our series. It takes alot to make Leatherface sexy and Deb did it with ease. We love how they turned out and hope you will as well. 



To see the rest from this set click here.

8-BIT ERIKA
Moving on to Crystal Lake we have Erika portraying the ultra popular NES 8-BIT version of Jason Voorhees. Wanting to keep these sets colorful when possible, it was an obvious choice to go with and proved to be very popular. Erika being an avid gamer and already having that amazing hair color also made her the perfect choice to shoot this one with. 


To see the rest of this set click here.

KRYSTAL WILL MAKE SURE YOU NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
Of course, you can't do a Jason photoset without a Freddy Krueger one to compliment it. This whole project concept started from hanging out with Krystal one day and shooting something very similar to these, just for fun and to keep productive, so when it came down to doing them all for real, it was only right to redo the ones we originally took to include in this series. She is always great to work with and this time was no different.


To see the rest of this set click here.

SHEYLA IS READY FOR HALLOWEEN
We couldn't do a series of photos entitled Blood, Babes, and Boogeymen without honoring THE boogeyman. So it was really important to get the perfect model to portray Michael Myers and one look at these photos and we think you will agree, Sheyla was just that. 


To see the rest of this set click here.

As an added bonus here are the full bold colored versions of the images used in the header image for this feature.






















TrueHorror.net presents CARVED





Carved is something I had been working on little by little for about two years with my friend and frequent collaborator Holly. Initially conceived as simply a faux movie one sheet in 2012, it was after some thought and discussion that the decision was made to expand on the concept when I created the mask you see here to wear as a simple Halloween costume last year. The original plan was initially to film a short fake trailer, when I realized that unfortunately I didn't have access to the necessary equipment to do things the right way without half assing anything I scrapped that idea. The next plan was to tell a story sequentially in photos and have them posted on a separate site created especially for the project. Unfortunately due to scheduling circumstances beyond Holly's or myself's control we ran out of time to complete the necessary photography. However, that is not to say we didn't get to create some images that were cool on their own. These images you see here were created as promo images and faux one sheets in the vein of a film marketing/advertising campaign, these were a great deal of fun to work on and conceptualize and I am still totally pleased with the results. So while it is a bummer we weren't able to complete our original goal, We are proud of this set just the same and  we hope you still enjoy this look at what we were able to complete. I still feel all are strong, creepy and fun images that serve their purpose of garnering interest in the would be film and honor the spirit of Halloween, and who knows, there is always next year!

Carved 1st teaser one sheet


Carved 2nd teaser one sheet


















Evil Dead Diana



I have known Diana for many years now. She is definitely one of my favorite people I have met through this whole photography aspect of my life. We have since become great friends and I am always excited whenever the chance arises for us to collaborate on something. This time was no different.

We had these different photos of her laying in bed that on there own are great to begin with, but we wanted to turn them into something more. So the trick was to come up with something to do with them that turned them into "TrueHorror" photos. We thought about it for a while and she trusted that I would eventually come up with an idea that she would love. So after a week or two of staring at them and brainstorming, I came up with the idea of distorting her eyes into these white non pupil having ones, that in turn made me think of the "deadites" from the Evil Dead films. I loved the contrast of her black and white sweater and the orange sheets which further cemented the idea that I would hold off on showing these off till October as they fit perfectly. I also really dig how she is still able to exude sexiness even with her new creepy eyes. We are both really psyched with how they turned out and hope they help you all get into the mood for this horrifically wonderful time of year.










Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen : Marilyn Says You're Next


Welcome to the first day of our official "Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen" celebration. October, as all us horror fans know is the best time to celebrate the spooky and macabre for 31 days straight, culminating on Halloween. We here at TrueHorror.net thought it was the perfect time to take our tagline a bit more literal and create something ideal to help everyone get in the spirit of the season.
This set is the first in a series that we will reveal one at a time, each day this week. We are extremely excited to share these with everybody so without further ado...

Trick r' Treat with Sheyla


It is finally here, the day we have all been waiting for, Halloween. Our month long celebration of all things spooky has lead up to this one final day. If you are like me, you do your best to do something no matter how small, Halloween related each day so that you can get every last bit of October fun in before that before that dreaded Nov. 1st date rolls around. But for now, it is a time to rejoice and celebrate. It is a time to carry on traditions that started long before most of us were around. So carve your pumpkins and keep them lit, don your costumes, and most importantly check your candy. These rules are all well illustrated in one of my (and many others) favorite films "Trick r' Treat" It as I have written about before is the quintessential Halloween film. So I knew eventually I would want to do a photoset based on it sooner rather than later. It wasn't until Sheyz and I were shooting our Blood, Babes, and Boogeymen  stuff and I brought up the idea to her, that I knew I would be able to get it done, She was really excited at the prospect of being involved in this shoot based on a film she had a real affinity for. Knowing she was a big fan of Sam and the "Trick r' Treat" film just made me that much more enthusiastic to prepare and get this shoot done. 


The prep work was a large undertaking as I had to reconfigure my room to look like the scene which we were attempting to recreate, This involved adding wallpaper and the handwriting in blood, which I am glad I opted to do instead of doing it in photoshop as it just would have not been practical or turned out as well. On top of the wall alterations, there was the obvious pumpkin carving as well as the actual outfit Sheyz is wearing, which had to be dyed the appropriate color, along with the gloves which had to be altered as well to appear to be the correct material and color. The lighting was probably the most important aspect as I needed it to be moody and have a light source to represent the flame coming out of the pumpkin, and not just look like normal lighting. I also have to thank my friend Mirkala who was kind enough to help sew that part of the Sam mask at a very last minute, moments notice. I was really pleased with how it all turned out for doing it within a short time frame. When Sheyz showed up for the shoot, she was excited with how it all turned out and it was all this work that made the photos much easier to shoot. 

One thing I was not as concerned with was with Sheyla, I already knew that if I was able to pull everything on my end together that she would in turn do her part and provide me with some great shots and that is just what she did. Alot of these shots may look like they are easy to shoot and that they don't require much effort on her part, but it couldn't be further from the truth. While the poses themselves are easy for her and come natural. All the other factors involved are things she as the model needs to deal with and adjust to. Whether its a rotating light that just doesn't stand still, a very uncomfortable surface, or other unseen variables, she did a great job of doing everything necessary to make sure this photset is as great as we both wanted it to be in order to properly send off October on the site in style. I think you all will agree that once everything came together it certainly paid off. I couldnt be happier with these images and I am extremely proud with what we were able to produce with such a small prep window. The set up looks great and Sheyz looks amazing. We hope these images get you into the Halloween spirit and hope that we have made all the Trick r' Treat fans out there proud. Happy Halloween from Myself, Sheyla and TrueHorror.net











Review: The Guest


Around this time every year, for most horror fans the anticipation of October and the Halloween season builds to a boil. Mid September is usually when I myself get ready to really kick the celebrating into gear (well more so than the rest of the years usual horror shenanigans I suppose). Whether it's buying decorations, pumpkin flavored treats, checking out all the fun costume related stuff in stores or working on my own October related projects, this is that time of year I truly feel more alive and motivated than others. Of course with October and Halloween comes the tradition of movie watching. Horror films are the life blood of the month for most and rightfully so. Even my non horror fanatic friends enjoy watching a good scary movie or two during the season. That brings us to the point of this little write up, each season we are treated (or punished) with various attempts by filmmakers and studios to cash in on everyone's desire to be scared for a few weeks. Sometimes we get some genuinely enjoyable well crafted films and sometimes we get pure crap (why be nice about it?) This year I am pleased to say that the best Halloween themed movie we will probably get this year isn't really even a "horror" film at all.


 The Guest is director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's latest film. This is the same duo that brought us last years most enjoyable theater going experience (for me anyway) "You're Next". That film ( which is cleverly nodded to twice during The Guest, keep an eye out) really caught me by surprise as I approached it as I try to do with most films. Go in knowing as little about it as possible. It turned what could have been a boring and silly rehash of the home invasion sub genre into a different, thrilling, gore filled good time. Speaking of thrilling, that is exactly what I suppose one would classify The Guest as. This story of a stranger (played with a perfect blend of charming and menace by Dan Stevens) who shows up at a familys home with the story about how he served with their son in the military and was with him when he passed away, needless to say, he becomes their guest and then things get real (which is about all of the plot you will get out of me as I don't spoil films) This is not a "horror" film, sure it certainly has aspects and events that are horrific and has many familiar themes a horror film carries, but still, I don't feel like I would classify it as one and that is what makes it such a refreshing watch.



 Now before everyone says "well its not a horror film, why are you even reviewing it?" Let me just state it may not be a straight up horror film, but it is certainly a perfect film to be watched during the Halloween season. The Guest is filled to the brim with Halloween imagery, as it is set on the last two weeks of October, everything is decorated for the holiday. Almost every scene has some sort of orange, black and purple to it, whether its just a pumpkin in the background or some other type of decoration that sneaks into almost every shot, Halloween itself is a major character in this film. There are Halloween parties and Haunted House style set pieces that make it perfect viewing for this time of year. The Halloween influence doesn't stop at production design, nor does it only include the actual holiday. The Guest features enough nods and love letters to our beloved Halloween film series to make every horror fan smile. Some obvious and awesome (Halloween 3) and others more noticeable to those with a quick eye and attention to detail (Halloween 4). The film itself feels like the type of film old school John Carpenter would make if he was transported 30+ years into the future and used that enthusiasm he had back then to direct today. This again is obviously a good thing and exactly why I feel this film will appeal to most horror and Halloween fans. Wingard knows exactly what he is going for here and succeeds in achieving that.  Also cannot forget the fact The Guest earns its hard R rating for the most part with good ol' violence of the practical fx kind. No cgi blood here.



 Lastly I must make mention of the incredible score and soundtrack usage found within The Guest. As stated up above, there is a heavy Carpenter influence running throughout the film, this is not exclusive to only the look of the film, but also the sound. Remember how everyone (myself included) fell in love with the synth heavy retro styled soundtrack to the Ryan Gosling flick "Drive" ? and later went nuts (again so did I) over its horror drenched cousin the impeccable "Maniac" remake score by Rob. I will be surprised if the same doesn't happen here. Full of pulsing synth heavy tracks, the soundtrack on its own is enough to do the job, every scene is matched up perfectly and taken to another level by the inclusion of the obviously carefully placed tracks. However in addition to the songs found in the film, the score performed by Steve Moore is a perfect compliment to the imagery and blends seamlessly with the other sounds in the film. My favorite portion of the synth heavy score were the jarring and ominous "stabs" that could be straight out of the Halloween 3 or 2 score. As soon as any of this music kicks in it will no doubt win people over. It's just as good as the "Erin"s theme" Carpenter-esque portions of the "You're Next" score everyone seemed to love (and is still waiting for an official version of) Overall all the music featured in The Guest is what really for me anyway, pulled everything together.



 So there you have it, The Guest is the Halloween movie you should definitely check out that isn't really a movie about Halloween, even though some of its biggest inspirations are firmly culled from the classic Halloween film series. It's not a perfect film and there are some issues I have here and there, but those are easily overlooked when you just go along for the ride the creators are trying to take you on. The performances here are all pretty much on point, as stated up above Dan Stevens plays his role to perfection and his co-star Maika Monroe who plays the main protagonist Anna really does a good job playing off of Stevens performance. The rest of the supporting cast also do their jobs admirably. For a fun time at the theaters that will still count towards the spirit of the season this October, see the Guest, and dont forget to pick up that soundtrack while you are at it.

The First Annual TrueHorror.net Halloween Art Show
















Throughout this first year of this new incarnation of TrueHorror.net, I have met and made many new acquaintances that I wouldn't have otherwise and that in itself is definitely worth all the time and effort put into this site. Many of these new friends also happen to be really talented artists who's work is always inspiring me to get back into drawing on a regular basis. With that being said, I thought up the idea to utilize the site to bring all of these artists together with two purposes. One being to showcase a group of different artists in turn hopefully helping them all reach new audiences and gain more exposure. Second being to celebrate the month of October and the Spirit of Halloween. This is a project I am very proud of as it brings together such a diverse group of people who all have a love for this holiday. I have to thank all of you who have contributed to something that I hope you will enjoy and be proud of having your work shown in. So with that being said, lets get right down to it and bring on the Halloween art!

Click on the first image to launch and and scroll through the gallery!

Scarecrow by Manuel Quinones of  From Somewhere
Trick or Treating Gremlin by Jason R. Sheppard of  TrueHorror.net

Toxie by Alexis Salvador
Tumblr: mylifeisinfected.tumblr.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/desecrateart
Twitter: @Daeminium
Instagram: @mylifeisinfected

Skull & Flowers by Mik DWyer
instagram: @puritytattoo


Jesus Piece Zombie by NYC artist Opizet
instagram: @opizet
email: opizet@gmail.com
Website: www.opizet.com
Wise Clown by Leo Scaletta of all4oneart
website: all4oneart.com
instagram; @all4oneart

Trick r' Treat by Tiffany Goettel
instagram: gypsybot

The Curse of the Werepumpkin by dedguy
email: jamesbasom@gmail.com

Monster Rock by Cole Roberts
instagram: lifeofcole
website: upmchalloweengoods.bigcartel.com
Trick or Treat by Sadist Art Designs
website: sadistart.blogspot.com
instagram: @sadistartdesigns

Patrick Bateman by Travis Falligant
website: www.ibtrav.com
email: trav@ibtrav.com
instagram: @ibtrav

Sam by Matt Durston
instagram: @godonvoodoomoon

Pumpkin Ghoul by Megan Miller
instagram:@midwestmonster

Wednesday Final Form by Joey Dion
instagram: @joey_zero

Michael Myers (RZ) by Mike Ragard
Instagram: darkalleyart
Cthulu Trick or Treating by Karla Quintana

Sam by Keith Patrick

Sports Zombies by Quinton Pincoske

Stiched Vampire by Alina Pincoske





Pumpkinhead by Jason R. Sheppard of TrueHorror.net