TRUEHORROR MUSIC


We are very excited to announce our newest project, TrueHorror Music. Music is a huge element of horror movies and for years the soundtracks and scores have become as iconic as their characters. Whether it's the haunting piano built soundscape of "Halloween", the epic saxophone of  "I Still Believe" from the "Lost Boys" soundtrack or the more recent addictive sonics of "Maniac" and "The Guest", music in both score and song form has always been at the forefront of the horror genre. So it was only a matter of time before we decided to do something for the site involving music. We obviously love music here and it is one of our passions, having previously released three mixes of horror themed music for the past two Halloween's, now it is time for us to bring something original to the table. 


TrueHorror Music is a way for us to put out original material from new artists who's music will not always be strictly horror themed, yet we still love and feel will perfectly compliment with what we represent and do here on the site.  We want help to introduce these artists to new audiences. We look forward to providing you more info on our first release in the upcoming weeks. We can tell you it will be released exclusively via limited edition cassette as well as digitally. (No vinyl as of now, sorry!)  Stay tuned for more info very soon. 

IT FOLLOWS : Listen To Four Tracks FromThe Upcoming Score/Soundtrack



One of my most anticipated films is David Robert Mitchell's "IT FOLLOWS" starring The Guest's Maika Monroe. It has been getting rave reviews since it hit the festival scene and is rapidly approaching it's wide release this March. It's international teaser trailer ( which is all I have watched and will be watching till it's release) is particularly effective. It's synopsis is also below.


"For 19-year-old Jay, fall should be about school, boys and weekends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, or something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her teenage friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind."




Just the other day we got a look at the beautiful One Sheet by artist Richey Beckett. (seen above) now we get a real treat with a preview of the films musical accompaniment which is scored by Rich Vreeland of Disasterpeace. Anyone who knows me, knows a great score will go a LONG way with me to solidifying a films impact. These new glimpses into it provided by Milan Records are fantastic and have raised my excitement for the film to even higher levels. We usually don't discuss unreleased films here, but I am hoping all the good will this is building up prior to it's release will pay off with a great film. At any rate, you can check out the wicked new tracks below. They certainly fit the sound profile that I respond to these days when it comes to a horror score. There is certainly enough synth involved to please any fan of Carpenter and fans of films scores such as 2013's Maniac, and last years The Guest.The IT FOLLOWS score will release digitally on March 10th, CD March 24th and Vinyl on April 7th. The Film sees its Theatrical release on March 13th and VOD on March 27th.




Blood, Babes and Boogeymen: Holly Will Make You Appreciate Life


As you may have noticed from checking out this site one of my favorite people to collaborate with is my good friend Holly. She has always been willing to jump into any projects I come up with for her and is always a blast to work with. She is a huge reason for the success of this site and helped me launch it in grand style with our  "Wanna Play?"  photo set, which to this day is a big fan favorite and still our most viewed set on the site. We followed that up with our popular "Movie Night" shoot. It was ultimately a no brainer to entrust Holly with TrueHorror.net's flagship character, our original female slasher bearing her name in our faux film project  "Carved"   (of which there will be a sequel later this year!)  So with all that being said, It seemed like a good time to go back to our first photoshoot together. The Billy the Puppet inspired Saw themed shoot we just about did 3 years ago. prior to the relaunch of this version of the site. It was this photoset that really cemented the fact I wanted to focus much more on photography and creating these images. It was a fun experience to first work with Holly, she was very patient and kept up a good sense of humor throughout which I find is always important during a shoot. I will say these to this day might possibly be my favorite shots I have done and also have to thank Natalie for doing a amazing job on Holly's makeup. Everything came together to create striking images that I never tired of looking at. 


My favorite photo from this set is the one seen above. It was the first photo I did that turned out exactly as I had envisioned it in my head. It was such a thrill seeing it realized and it received so many compliments upon initially sharing it that it made me really begin to trust in my ability to create these images. So I definitely see this set as a springboard for the everything that has followed. I cannot thank Holly enough for putting her trust in me with this one and glad that I could deliver.


The obvious thought here was to do a sexy version of Billy the Puppet's outfit from the Saw movies matched with a grungy setting that is so pervasive in those films. Having Holly sit on the tricycle for such a long time was not the easiest thing for her to do, but she never complained once and in retrospect,  I don't think there is any other model who could have fit on it and make it work. The green layer of texture just helped to add to the look seen in the films. 



I hope you guys enjoy revisiting these images again, as I am happy to give them some new life and some much deserved attention. After all they never had a dedicated post on the site till now. I am excited about the new projects Holly and I have been planning and can't wait to share them with you all, still till the time is right, hopefully all the previous images we have created will tide you over till then.


One more cool thing was that I got to actually share these a while back with Saw creator James Wan who was kind enough to approve. 



Below is a bonus outtake I always loved, I just really dig her expression. along with a random behind the scenes shot.















A Deeper Look into STARRY EYES


"Dreams require sacrifice...and so do they."



Truth be told, other than seeing it's superb retro styled poster by Jay Shaw (pictured above), I knew absolutely nothing else about Starry Eyes other than "girl trying to make it in Hollywood and things go bad" prior to my first viewing. I will always stand by the opinion that the best way to watch a film is to go in knowing as little about it as possible. I generally always prefer teaser trailers over full trailers, especially for the smaller films which sometimes have to bank on their money shots to help sell to an audience that is already skeptical when it comes to lower budgeted projects. I mention this because while Starry Eyes slipped under my radar somehow, that fact though definitely added to the excitement of finally getting to watch it. Starry Eyes ended up being my favorite horror film of 2014. However that is not to say I came to this conclusion instantly. Upon that first viewing I definitely liked it, and plenty of things that caused it to become the years favorite were there, but I really wasn't sure how much I liked it. Still it turned out to be one of those films that sticks with you long after you watch it which made me eager to revisit it. After the second viewing I knew that it would end up being in the tops for the year, then when time came to make our best of year list, it ended up coming out on top along with The Guest. The Guest certainly has horror roots and themes but for me isn't truly a horror film. That left Starry Eyes at the top for me. What I want to do here is highlight some of the reasons this film struck a chord with me because I feel it is a film worth talking about. 

Please be warned that there are Major Spoilers below which I normally hate to do however in order to fully discuss the merits of this film in the depth I want to it is necessary. I highly recommend watching the film first before reading on. 


1. The Performance by Alex Essoe as Sarah


Starry Eyes tells the story of Sarah Walker, a determined yet struggling actress who has been doing her best to juggle her day job at "Big Taters" fast food restaurant and the demands of chasing her dream of becoming a star in the cutthroat world of Hollywood. Sarah gets more than she bargained for when she auditions for a role in a horror film being produced by the fictional Astraeus Pictures. As you can guess things don't go as she hoped, in more ways than one. So as with any film, it is only as good as it's lead, Alex Essoe (who has done minor roles here and there as far as I can tell from researching online) breathes life into a character who in hands of a lesser actress, could have been very one dimensional and nowhere near as compelling. What's interesting is one of the biggest compliments I can give to Alex's performance is her willingness to fully physically transform herself in order to give the role what it requires. That directly mirrors the dilemma faced by her character Sarah in the film. Do all that is asked of you to land a star making role, regardless of the suffering that comes with it. Not all actresses would sacrifice their vanity for a role, yet here Essoe willingly undergoes the transformation from her own model-esque beauty to a deteriorating almost rotting corpse motif, the makeup FX Essoe endures here is borderline Brundle Fly levels of grotesqueness. While her receptiveness to the physical makeup aspect of the role is extremely impressive, it would be nothing without the wide range of emotions she has on display here. She runs the full gamut of emotions throughout the film, Paranoia, Insecurity, Sickness, Fear, Pain, Horror, Anger, Sorrow are all touched upon and it is in the subtle moments of emotion throughout the film that Essoe shines brightest. While Starry Eyes is well written throughout, without Alex's star making turn here, this film would be nowhere near as successful in telling it's story as it is. Just as her character Sarah does in the film, Alex Essoe gives her everything to a role in a horror film and comes out of it as one of Hollywood's most promising new talents. 

2. The Struggle is real. 

By now we have all seen plenty of films about "The Struggle". The Struggling artist, the struggling musician, the struggling athlete and of course we have had more than enough of the struggling actor trying to make it in Hollywood. Still none have ever felt quite as authentic as Starry Eyes does. I can't claim to be an expert or know the acting struggle first hand. However I have spoken with more than a few people who live in L.A. and Hollywood and all have stated that this nails what it is like to be one in a sea of thousands trying to "live the dream". What Starry Eyes writer/directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer have done here is not only give us an insightful look at what aspiring actors and filmmakers go through on a daily basis ( or not go through depending on how hard they hit the pavement) but they have also delivered a very smart commentary on the very nature of the film industry and how it prays upon the desires of those wishing to be a part of it. I could probably write an entire article about just this aspect of the film and how it sheds light on the darker side of show business. The entire angle of selling your soul to make it in Hollywood is addressed  literally and figuratively here. To someone just watching the movie without really paying attention they may not pick up on the metaphorical comparison between the two. It is this comparison that should be so obvious yet it is handled so well here that it is never TOO obvious or eye roll inducing. It works. It takes the whole concept to a place that is as horrific and outlandish as it is brutally honest and real. Remove the supernatural and horror elements and the film works just as well as a compelling cautionary tale. Still it is those supernatural and horror elements that make Starry Eyes so much fun, well fun might not be the best word, because this brings us to our next point. 

3. Oh The Horror. 

While the pacing of Starry Eyes may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's slower approach to building to it's climax serves it well. By the time it goes full on horror film it pulls no punches. I've likened it to another one of my favorites, Ti West's "House of the Devil" in that regard.Extreme gorehounds may be turned off by the fact it takes long to get to the gore bits, but everyone else should be satisfied with what is presented here. Starry Eyes is first and foremost a body horror film, and Sarah's horrific transformation is as gruesome as they come. On first watch it definitely left me wincing. The makeup by SOTA FX that highlights Sarah's deterioration/Transformation is superbly executed and visually disturbing. Anyone who has ever laid in bed while sick and has said to themselves "oh man I'm dying" will instantly relate. I personally can recall far too many times in my life where a flu put me on the bathroom floor for the night in full despair, this is the horror version of that feeling. While it wears its body horror on its sleeve, the film also features a very well orchestrated slasher-esque home invasion scene where Sarah unleashes carnage upon her so called friends. I know I stated there would be spoilers in this article, but this is one part I refuse to elaborate on because the impact of it would be lessened, just know the blood flows in impressive fashion here and everyone who HAS seen the film knows exactly what I am referring to. It's a grim and brutal sequence of events to say the least, I only wish it went on for a bit longer. As mentioned before Starry Eyes touches on a myriad of moral themes throughout, and its horror themes are no different as it is home to psychological, body, supernatural, ritualistic and slasher horror elements. All of these come together naturally due to the well told story making Starry Eyes a very versatile horror film with something that will assuredly get beneath the viewers skin. 

4. The Music of Johnathan Snipes


Anyone that knows me knows I love horror scores and always have. Ever since I was a kid and my dad would make me horror music mixtapes for Halloween featuring tracks from such films as Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and others I have been heavy films scores. Horror films have always been tied to their scores, more so i'd say than any other type of film. A good score elevates it, a bad one can ruin it. In the last few years movies such as Maniac, Under the Skin and The Guest benefited greatly from their sonic counterparts. Starry Eyes is no different. Johnathan Snipes provides a synth heavy score with a touch of child like wonder that fits like a glove. It is the heartbeat of the film and adds a layer that a more traditional score would not have achieved. In listening to the commentary the directors stated they originally wanted to go with a more orchestral score and Johnathan convinced them to go with his concept of less traditional music. I am an admitted synth music addict so I am glad they decided to trust him. Everyone I have spoken to about the film comments on the merits of the music. I remember being excited as soon as I heard that synth first creep into the film and build from there on out. I can't imagine Starry Eyes with a different score and I am glad I don't have to. Waxwork Records seemed to feel the same as they'll be releasing the score on vinyl soon enough. Snipes music is once again proof of how important a score is to a horror film in enhancing it's themes and atmosphere. It is a truly great experience when the two perfectly compliment each other. Starry Eyes soundscape matches it's rather stylish look perfectly.


5. It's got the look. 



I am a big believer that style in a film goes a long way, you absolutely have to have substance, but just as music can elevate a film, a sense of style can take it to new heights. Looking back at my list of best horror films of 2014, The Remake/Sequel of "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" made that list based mostly for it's stylish visuals and creative shots. Superficial? maybe, but hey it's my list and I'm a sucker for some style.  I have already discussed Starry Eyes other merits such as the story and acting, when those are in place, you have a solid picture already, when you add to that a layer of finishing touches that visually help tell your story, you have something special. Starry Eyes has a gloomy look to it, that fits the mood of the film perfectly. It's stylish and feels slightly retroish (that can't be a word) at times but still has a very natural lit look to it. Hollywood and California are generally portrayed in films as the sunny paradise of every actors dreams, however here the bleakness of the characters reality is reflected by the ominous clouds and dark stormy skies above Los Angeles. You really never get a sunny sky in the film until the end when things...well, change for Sarah and thats the point. Every visual in the film was thought out and taken into account so that it reflected the story as well as just for a lack of better terminology, looked really cool. 

For more on the look of Starry Eyes I would recommend checking out this really solid interview with the films cinematographer Adam Bricker over at Deep Fried Movies where he details alot of the process and techniques used to achieve the look of the film. 



In the end Starry Eyes had plenty going for it across the board. I always enjoy when a film catches me by surprise to take a spot in my favorites, and now Starry Eyes has joined the ranks of  the movies I will tell everyone to watch when they ask for a recommendation. I look forward to watching it with friends who haven't seen it yet just to see their reactions and be able to discuss it afterwards. It sticks with you and keeps you thinking about it long after you've watched it and that is always the sign of a great horror film.












The Shape Revisited


Through it all our favorite boogeyman/horror icon here at TrueHorror.net will always be Michael Myers. That is just a fact. It won't change and we are more than okay with that. We may not love every movie or every mask, but at his best, Michael Myers is the epitome of everything we love about horror. Through the years we have shot our fair share of Michael Myers and Halloween related material. Yet we have never fully featured it on our site. So while Halloween is still a ways away, we decided to revisit these images and showcase them for everyone to see again. It has been a while since we have shot any new Myers(himself) imagery and I am sure that will change come this Halloween. In the meantime though we have re-edited these in an appropriate orange tinted theme to give them some new life, we hope you enjoy this look back at some of our earliest and favorite Michael Myers imagery that we feel captures the sinister essence of The Shape. 











Special thanks to everyone who was involved in creating these shots, it was a blast. 






























TrueHorror.net presents WARPED


As anyone who visits the site often enoguh or follows us on instagram know, we love our movie posters and we especially love creating them for movies that don't exist. So when thinking about what would be the next one, I knew I wanted to do something to capitalize on the vinyl craze that has been so prevalent in recent years. So while thinking about haunted or evil records, of course Rob Zombies "Lords of Salem" comes to mind, but I wanted to do something different than that. More of a possession by music that causes you to kill type thing. After kicking around the idea some more and going through various iterations of it, "Warped" was born.


Warped teaser 

The above "teaser" image came about by me just wanting to get the creative juices flowing and since I can't always just up and shoot something new with a model, sometimes I have to create some images in other ways. Since I knew I was going to do something based on Vinyl, discussing it with my good buddy and collaborator Matt Durston who greatly helped me conceptualize alot of this project , this idea above came to life. Now to clarify, I am not into Satanic anything, but as a horror fan it's obviously a familiar subject matter, still it is one I never thought about touching until now that I figured out a more unique way of going about it. I then talked to Erika, who had a great time shooting our 8-Bit Jason inspired set from our Blood, Babes and Boogeymen series. She had mentioned to me previously how she wanted to do some type of "possession" shoot and this would give her an opportunity to do so in a way that was not the usual exorcist motif. Erika is always a great deal of fun to shoot with and is always happy to do whatever is necessary for us to get the shots we need. Thankfully she trusts me to be able to bring them to life once she is done doing her part. I also have to give much credit to the aforementioned Matt Durston, as he was integral in helping me break the bit of a creativity block I had when working on this,  I was sick during the week and couldn't crack this one to make it pop till he chipped in his ideas, so this is definitely a co production with him and he will be contributing to many future projects as well as I definitely consider him part of the TH team. In the end all the parts came together to create what I think is a vivid and striking image that sells the idea of possession and evil while appealing to the vinyl crowd. As well as seeming like the next progression to the teaser image. We hope you dig it. There will be additional related images coming soon so stay tuned for those as well.








CABRINI-GREEN : THE TRUE HORROR OF CANDYMAN



"Be my victim."

In 1992 director Bernard Rose adapted a short novella by Clive Barker entitled "The Forbidden" into a big screen horror film. That film would become Candyman. It starred Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a Chicago Grad Student doing a thesis on urban legends,  and Tony Todd in a career defining role as the titular boogeyman. The following year it hit home video and my friends and I (probably in our final year of Junior High at the time) finally got around to seeing it. I still remember going over to my buddy Joey's apartment on a Saturday night, his dad, Bruce had rented it for us to watch (Thanks Bruce). I still remember the "ooooh shit" moment we both had as soon as the opening credits started playing and Philip Glass' brilliantly haunting score began to blare out of the surround sound. We knew were in for something frightening and different. Turns out, it was one of the scariest movies we had seen in a long time. We were a group of kids who were always watching horror films, renting whatever we could from the video store or staying up late watching Joe Bob Briggs or movie channels hoping for a new horror flick to show up. So we were not newcomers to horror and didn't particularly scare easy. Candyman scared us, it scared our other friends when they watched it, it scared alot of people. 


Over the years since it's release it has garnered heaps of praise and is regarded as a classic. It has found itself in my personal top 3 horror films and more than likely won't be moved from there at this point. I originally intended to write this article as a normal retrospective of the film and my experience with it, however that ended up kind of boring to me and was not letting me talk about the part of the film I always found the most fascinating and frightening. As most will know by now Candyman revolves around the story of Helen Lyle who is researching urban legend, particulalry the growing number of tales she is hearing from interviewees about the mythical figure of Candyman (the hook wielding ghost of Daniel Robitaille, a black man who was murdered in an act of racism during the civil war era ) The stories hook (no pun intended) was that if you look in a mirror and say his name 5 times, he will appear behind you. So it's basically the classic "bloody Mary" legend with a twist. Now Candyman as stated before was a frightening film, Tony Todd's portrayal of the ghostly figure was as perfect a performance as you will see. He played him with a gentlemanly quality and always spoke to his soon to be victims in a poetic dialogue, right before he would split them from "groin to gullet" with his large rusty hook jammed into the stump where his hand used to be. The film is full of creepy imagery, well earned scares, superb gore and overall extremely well put together. Still rather than go into detail about the film, recap and dissect it which I originally intended to do, I decided to talk about the thing that gives the film it's truly unique take on the old boogeyman story, it's location, the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago. 


"An entire community starts attributing the daily horrors of their lives to a mythical figure" 

One of the boldest choices by director Bernard Rose was setting his film in Cabrini-Green. For so long horror had been relegated to the old mansions, backwoods towns and of course the suburbs. 1988's Child's Play also set it's story in urban Chicago, including some of the more downtrodden parts of the city, still the majority of it takes place in the middle class confines of the Barclay family apartment. Candyman on the other hand brought supernatural horror to the ghetto and did so with the blight of the area being an integral part of the story. It's mythology was firmly rooted in the projects and it's director was adamant that it was important to set it in Cabrini-Green, regardless of the obvious obstacles and dangers of shooting in such an area. The Cabrini presented in Candyman is far different from the one J.J. Dynamite Evans and family called home on the classic t.v. show "Good Times". The films story starts out with Helen being told the story of a murder that occurred in Cabrini, where a woman named Ruthie Jean was killed by someone who came through the walls in her apartment. When Helen and research partner Bernadette head to Cabrini to investigate they are initially "greeted" by gang members (who were actual real gang members given parts in the film to ensure their cooperation and the safety of the production crew) eventually eluding them and making their way up to the apartment where the murder occurred, the residents all seem to blame the murder on The Candyman. Helen and Bernadette soon meet Ruthie Jeans neighbor Anne-Marie McCoy who proceeds to tell them the story of what happened from her point of view. Ann-Marie is a stark contrast to the Gang Members whom they encountered in the lobby area. I bring these points up for two reasons, the first and most important being that while the general belief exists that these areas in real life are populated with nothing more than dangerous criminals, the actual truth is that there are plenty of good people in the community just trying to live their lives and raise their children safely among the crime. Ann-Marie makes this clear to Helen and also states how Ruthie Jean called for help yet no police came till it was too late, she then adds "Everybody is scared, he could come right through these walls you know, I'm scared, scared for my child...they ain't never gonna catch him.." "Who?" Helen asks. "Candyman."


The reason I bring up that portion of the story first is because the entire Anne-Marie McCoy/ Ruthie Jean tale in which the movie builds a large part of its story around is inspired by an actual case that occurred in Chicago's Grace Abbot housing projects. The horrific true story of Ruthie Mae McCoy (see the similarities?) is one that I came across while researching the film online. Upon reading up on it, it becomes clear this is where the movie makers drew their inspiration/concepts for the Ruthie Jean/Candyman murders set up of the film. While I didn't know about the true story till 22 years after the film was released, nonetheless it's chilling stuff. On April 22nd, 1987, Between 8:45 and 9:00 pm, Ruthie Mae McCoy was shot and killed by someone who gained access to her apartment via the passageway behind her medicine cabinet. It would take police a day and a half to enter her apartment to discover her body. The in depth news article I read detailing the crime and it's aftermath entitled "They Came In Through The Bathroom Mirror" was written by Chicago writer Steve Bogira in 1987. It is a fascinating piece that details the horrors of the Chicago Housing Authority properties. He also wrote a follow-up regarding Candyman and its similarities to his article along with his conversations with Illinois native John Malkovich that may or may not have lead to the film being green lit. I highly recommend reading the full article because it is as fascinating as it is sad. While judging on his follow up article I get the impression Steve was not a fan of the film and also seemed to feel it exploited the people of the projects living situations, while there certainly is a bit of merit to that sentiment,  I personally feel otherwise and respectfully disagree. Nonetheless without Bogira article perhaps no one would know Ruthie Mae McCoys story and perhaps Candyman would be a far different film than what we have come to know. Director Bernard Rose has always been adamant about his desire to give his film social undertones and bring light to real life issues through the horror. In a 1992 article in Fangoria magazine entitled "Demons of the Mind" he stated "My element of social criticism asks how people can be expected to live in squalor, because the housing authority has allowed Cabrini Green to rot instead of trying to maintain it." Growing up in New York City, I have been to my fair share of housing projects in my life, some good, some bad. Some I felt perfectly comfortable in, others I knew it was probably better if I didn't hang around after it got dark. Cabrini-Green by all accounts from reading and speaking to friends from Chicago was a place that there was absolutely no reason to go near.


"I'm not trying to scare you Helen, I just want you to think okay? The gangs hold this whole neighborhood hostage."

While the tragic Ruthie Mae McCoy murder took place at the Grace Abbot housing project, it's film counterpart was set amid the ominous concrete towers of Cabrini-Green. Star Virgina Madsen who grew up in Chicago stated "Growing up here, I knew all about Cabrini-Green, you didn't even drive by there, let alone enter on foot."  In the film Helen (Madsen) discovers the hard way that initially it was a leader of a Cabrini based gang called the Overlords using the well known name of the mythical figure to cause fear throughout the neighborhood. By committing a series of seemingly mysterious murders in his name, such as Ruthie Jean's and that of a young boy, leaving his calling written calling card "Sweets to the Sweet" on  the walls where he committed the acts, he lead the residents to believe these crimes were committed by a supernatural being rather than man of flesh and blood. Helen being attacked by this man and left for dead eventually leads to his arrest, thus proving to residents that there was no Candyman and their belief of him begins to dwindle, prompting the REAL Candyman to prove his doubters wrong. While the gang culture in the film is touched upon often and part of the story, it is still a movie about a ghost, a monster, a boogeyman. However when it comes to the reality of this real life location, its reputation precedes it. In a 1992 interview Candyman himself Tony Todd had this to say about some of his experience filming in such a notorious area "I tried to come there with no expectations, but I still felt fear. Anybody who didn't belong there was subject to Danger. The Cops told me to keep my eyes on the rooftops for snipers, and then I ran into a woman and her two children, they were hustling back from the grocery store before it got too dark, and thought the film security people were cops, she asked us when we were going to clean the projects up, which really got to me." This exchange stands out for many reasons, but the two that pertain to this article are 1. The area is known for being extremely dangerous and 2. The woman knows it is and still has no choice but to live there. This is also illustrated in the film by the characters of Anne Marie as well as the young boy Jake who befriends Helen early on in the film. Good people stuck in a bad situation trying to make the best of it. That was sadly a reality for many residents of Cabrini-Green. It truly was Hell on earth. Gangs did in fact hold the area hostage, The "Gangster Disciples" or "GD's" were the dominant gang in the area and they are the same gang members who can be seen in the film, throwing up signs in the scene where Helen and Bernadette first arrive at Cabrini. The same gang that as stated before had to be put in the film as extras in order to be "allowed" to film there and assure the crews safety, and while there were no incidents with the cast and crew, there is the well known anecdote of one of the aforementioned snipers putting a bullet through the crews van. 



Cabrini-Green had become so dangerous in it's later years that at times police could not even respond to calls, the buildings became what were essentially fortresses for the gangs. Benard Rose stated "It's not a safe place, it's a place that police did not have control over" As seen throughout the film, the walkways for the towers on each floor were covered with a steel fencing, closing off the previously open aired areas, this was done initially as a safety precaution but unfortunately lead to it being used as cover for snipers and became a hindrance to police trying to access the buildings but would be unable to see who might be standing armed in those areas who occupied vacant apartments, tearing down walls in order to have an escape route whenever police did do their raids. The good people who resided in Cabrini received little assistance from the Chicago Housing Authority. What you saw in the film, the sparse playing fields,and graffiti laden hallways were only the tip of the iceberg. Broken windows, lights, clogged trash chutes went unattended for months at a time. Some stairwells were even pitch black due to the lights being broken while elevators in those same buildings were out of service. 

photo by Matt Tuteur
Murders sadly had become common place in this area, whether it was related to the gangs that called Cabrini home or others who saw the wild west nature of the property as an opportunity to do wrong. It just became a normal occurrence. Officers annually closed the streets to Cabrini on New Years Eve to keep any traffic out of the area as gangs would take to the streets firing their weapons any and every direction in a blatant display of disregard for the law. One of the most saddening occurrences was the accidental shooting of Dantrell Davis. He was 7 year old boy shot and killed by a gang member from one of the high rises who was aiming for a rival gang member. Dantrell Davis was holding his mothers hand as they walked to school when it happened. His tragic death would become one of the main factors over the neighborhoods lifespan that finally caused the city to take action. 


In 1997, 5 years after Candyman would bring the area it's most widespread notoriety, the city came out with a plan for redeveloping the neighborhood that would spell the end for Cabrini-Green. Many tenants were relocated throughout the city and the surrounding area was being rebuilt as a mixed income community. The last Cabrini-Green high rise was demolished on March 30th of 2011. Many of it's former residents who were not involved in the gangs and drugs have good things to say despite the horrific living conditions and dangers Cabrini presented to them on a daily basis. Proof that life is what you make it. Many good people certainly resided here, in fact I would be confident in guessing MORE good people than bad resided in Cabrini, however the influential power of the bad unfortunately outweighed the good. Still the good people spoke of friendships discovered and memories made. Even some who were affected by tragedy and crime still spoke fondly of it and did not want to leave. It was their home, their community and many of those people had bonded amid the hardships and had plenty of enjoyable times. No gang could change that. 

photo by Marc Poekempner
I remember after the film came out everyone now knew about Cabrini-Green, I remember in our old neighborhood we had an apartment building with an entirely boarded up, burned out floor, of course being kids, we eventually gained access to this floor and constantly drew comparisons to the burnt out apartment Helen and Bernadette enter to investigate the Ruthie Jane murder. It was scary for us to enter that hallway, not knowing what was in it, I remember there being talk of someone spray painting the Candyman face and "sweets to the sweet" on the walls, I also dont remember if I actually ever saw them or just pictured them via peoples stories, but everyone in the neighborhood would call that building Cabrini-Green for a while because of that floor, that stayed that way for years. While we knew it wasn't anywhere close to being the dangerous place Cabrini was, it was still an example of the influence Candyman had on people at the time. For years Cabrini-Green was synonymous with a danger and crime. While the rest of the United States along with Chicago had other housing projects reported to be just as dangerous or at times worse such as the Robert Taylor homes and the ABLA houses, they weren't put on display in a popular movie that we watched over and over again throughout our lives. 


Bring up the name Cabrini Green to horror fans and chances are they know exactly what you are talking about. However, chances are they don't know much more beyond what the movie showed, I took interest for whatever reason and wanted to find out more and wouldn't say I was shocked by how a prominent city such as Chicago could let such a large community turn into a war zone as much as I was just morbidly intrigued by the horrifying nature of it all. Gone forever are the looming towers where lives were lived, ended and lost. The residents have all moved on with their lives no doubt with the memories of Cabrini-Green etched into their minds. Candyman now serves as a bit of a time capsule for them as well as us. It's become one of those all time horror films that introduced the world to a now classic horror character. Still most people who have seen the movie won't ever know that the neighborhood was demolished. They won't know how severe the situation was while the gangs essentially held the neighborhoods hostage. Nor will they ever know the true stories of Ruthie Mae McCoy or Dantrell Davis. While the hook wielding spirit of Candyman is fictitious, The horrors and ghosts left behind by Cabrini-Green are all too real.

photo by David Schalliol



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.