Monday, December 29, 2014

My Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

I would like to start by saying that this was a sad year for horror films. I feel as though they all turned out to be disappointments or just mediocre. One of the films I was most looking forward to, The Green Inferno, got pulled from release for financial issues or something. I felt that it would have been a strong contender for the number one spot. Maybe next year.

Disclaimer: I would like to add that although I watch a lot of horror films and I try to see everything, I didn’t get to see every single horror film that was released this year. This isn’t my job; it’s just a hobby of mine. So if you don't see something on this list, it’s because I did not get to see it yet. Also, this list is my opinion and my opinion only. If you do not agree with it, then that is your problem. Feel free to post your top 10 in the comments, but do not start a flame war over this. It is just a list.

That being said, here is my list...

10. Open Grave

I had Annabelle at my number 10 spot on my list for quite some time, but I grew such a hatred for that film that I did not want it on my list just as filler. Sure, Open Grave is not the best horror film, but it’s damn sure more enjoyable to watch than Annabelle.

9. The Canal

The Canal is a creepy foreign film. The only reason it is not higher on my list is because I hated the ending. I think it had a lot going for itself, but then went with a very cliché way of wrapping it all up. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still one of the best this year had to offer.

8. Deliver Us From Evil

So many people bashed Deliver Us From Evil, but I actually enjoyed it. I thought the story was engaging. It had enough creeps and mystery to keep it interesting throughout. The end scene was really awesome in my opinion. I don’t want to give away too much, but for something so overdone, they did a good job making it feel awesome.

7. As Above, So Below

The one major thing that this film really has going for itself is atmosphere. It really makes you feel like you are stuck underground in the catacombs of Paris. If you are claustrophobic, you aren’t going to like this one. It wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a bunch of creepy sights throughout the film. I really enjoyed watching this one.

6. Oculus

Oculus was a big surprise for me, which is odd, because most of the films this year disappointed. I went in not expecting much, but came out enjoying it. I really enjoyed how the Kaylie character painstakingly setup a way of proving that a mirror was much more than just a mirror. The eerie parts of the film were heightened by the films supernatural presence, which made things even creepier.

5. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Most people trash the Paranormal Activity films. I for one am a fan of them. After the disappointment of PA4, I was skeptical about going into this "spinoff" sequel. In the end, I really liked this entry in the series. It did connect into the previous films, in a way. The ending blew my mind. Hate these films all you want, but The Marked Ones was more enjoyable to watch than the laughable, VHS: Viral.

4. See No Evil 2

I have to admit that I enjoyed the first See No Evil when it came out. I know it was bad, but I enjoyed it. See No Evil 2 tops the first one in my opinion. I wasn't expecting much, but really had fun with it. It really brought me back to the 80's slasher films. Yeah, it had some corny parts, but nothing that torn away from it overall. If you are a slasher movie fan then this is a must see.

3. Extraterrestrial

I’m beginning to become a big fan of The Vicious Brothers. Oh who am I kidding, I already am. I really enjoyed both the Grave Encounters films, so I was looking forward to Extraterrestrial. I had fun with their take on the alien sub-genre. There was only one part that I didn’t like, but it didn’t take away from the film overall. I really look forward to what The Vicious Brothers do next. Oh, and I would totally watch a Grave Encounters 3, just saying.

2. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

If you couldn’t already tell that I’m an 80’s slasher fan, well then here you go. A half-remake and half-sequel to the original, 2014's The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a bloody, gory ride. Although the ending was a little lackluster, I still enjoyed this one quite a lot. The chase scene with the naked girl was one of my favorite parts.

1. The Purge: Anarchy

If you remember, The Purge was on my list last year at the number ten spot. I was being very generous if you ask me, because that film made me a little made that such an excellent concept was wrapped around a home invasion film. The Purge: Anarchy on the other hand gets everything right. It's set in the city and is filled with crazy, gory chaos. This film is what The Purge should have been all along. I really hope they continue this into The Purge 3, which has already been announced.

So there it is, my Top 10 Horror Films of 2014. If you haven’t seen or even heard of any of these films, then I suggest you really look into them. If you’re into horror, then you should at least give them a rental.

Just for fun, I decided to rank these same ten films in order of their Metacritic score.

10. (n/a) See No Evil 2
9. (n/a) The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
8. (33) Open Grave
7. (38) Extraterrestrial
6. (38) As Above, So Below
5. (40) Deliver Us From Evil
4. (42) Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
3. (55) The Canal
2. (50) The Purge: Anarchy
1. (61) Oculus

Then again based on their Rotten Tomatoes score.

10. (n/a) See No Evil 2
9. (15%) Open Grave
8. (27%) As Above, So Below
7. (28%) Deliver Us From Evil
6. (31%) Extraterrestrial
5. (38%) Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
4. (56%) The Purge: Anarchy
3. (74%) Oculus
2. (78%) The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
1. (80%) The Canal

All scores from Dec 29, 2014.

Check out last years list, Top 10 Horror Films of 2013.

Check out the rest of my lists on my page A List of Lists.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

13 Horror Movies to Watch for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching. The time of the year where most people watch a good horror movie. The following is a list I compiled of good horror movies to watch on or around Halloween.

This list is in no particular order.

1. Halloween (1978) & Halloween II (1981)

I guess you could just add all of the Halloween films and have a Michael Myers marathon, but these two films in particular are the cream of the crop. For the unfamiliar, Halloween is about a psychopath escaping from a mental institution and going on a killing spree in a small town. Halloween II picks up literally where the first one ends and continues as they both take place in the same night, making them great for back-to-back viewing.

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1983)

Even though this film has absolutely nothing to do with the Michael Myers plot line of the other Halloween films, it is still a damn good horror film for what it is. Season of the Witch follows a Halloween mask-making company that plans on killing millions of children on Halloween night with something hidden inside the masks.

3. Night of the Demons (1988)

I first watched this film just recently. (I know, right?) Unfortunately, I had the stale taste of the 2009 remake in my mouth. Now that I’ve actually seen it, I must say that the 1988 original is hands-down better than the remake. The movie revolves around a group of teens holding a party on Halloween night at "Hull House," an old abandoned funeral parlor. They accidently awaken something evil and chaos ensues. It’s filled with that 80’s horror movie charm that sadly the remake never captured.

4. Trick 'R Treat (2007)

Trick ‘R Treat is another horror cult classic. The movie consists of four stories interwoven throughout the film that all take place on Halloween. A high-school principal with a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin meets the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a cruel prank, and then a woman who hates Halloween has to put up with her holiday-obsessed husband. It is bloody, it is violent and it takes place on Halloween. Plus, who doesn’t like Sam?

5. Paranormal Activity 1, 2, & 3 (2007, 2010, 2011)

I know these films get a bad rap, but I love them. They don’t take place or revolve around Halloween, but are a good watch anyway. Yes, there is a PA4 and a PA5, but PA1-3 are the best of the best. PA1 follows a couple being disturbed by a demonic presence in their suburban home. PA2 is a prequel to PA1 and follows the sister of the woman in PA1. PA2 is filled more demonic fun. PA3 follows both sisters, but this time prequels back to 1988 when they were both just little girls. These films are great for anyone who can’t stand blood and guts, as they aren’t filled with any brutal violence.

6. The Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad is another awesome classic. The film follows a bunch of young kids that form a monster club in their tree house, for fun. However, when Count Dracula shows up in their neighborhood, accompanied by Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gillman, they all must fight to save Earth. This movie is great for Halloween as it showcases the classic Universal monsters.

The Monster Squad also makes my list of what I think are the best PG-13 rated horror films of all time.

7. May (2002)

May is one of those films that once you start watching it, you just can’t stop. I caught this on television randomly one time in the middle of the night, and had to stay awake to finish it. May is about a weird young woman that just wants to find the right person to fall in love with. Things finally start looking up when she starts seeing a man she has been crushing on. However, he eventually rejects her. The film climaxes on Halloween night, when May snaps and decides to make herself a friend. All she needs is some of her favorite body parts, right?

8. Saw I, II, III, IV, V, VI, & 3D (2004 through 2010)

"If it's Halloween, it must be Saw." That's the tagline they would use when advertising Saw back when they released. Every sequel to this epic franchise would be released each year, right near Halloween. The Saw series follows a killer by the name of Jigsaw. He places people (who he thinks does not deserve life anymore), into elaborate traps where they must fight to survive, or die trying. This series would be fun to marathon on Halloween, or at least the weeks leading up, with a big finale on Halloween day. Where is Saw VIII already?

9. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)

I don’t know what to say about this film other than it is weird as shit, but that’s a good thing. Directed by Rob Zombie, House of 1,000 Corpses follows two young couples as they road trip through Texas writing a book about weird things you find driving across country. Their luck runs out as they become prisoners to a backwater family of serial killers. The story takes place on Halloween, and the characters in the film actually dress up at one point. That, along with its bizarre and sadistic tone, makes it a great viewing for Halloween.

10. Dead Alive (1992)

Dead Alive (or Braindead) is, in my opinion, the goriest horror film of all time. This film doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween, but it is a cult classic and a must watch for anyone who calls themselves a horror movie fan. What a better time to see it then around Halloween? Directed by Peter Jackson (Yes, you read that right.), the movie follows a young man whose mother is bitten by a rat monkey. She slowly changes into a zombie-like being and chaos ensues as others become infected. Trust me when I say that this is nothing like any other zombie flick you’ve ever seen before. Warning: The climax of this film is a bloodbath.

11. Murder Party (2007)

Some might consider Murder Party to be more of a comedy than a horror film, but whatever, this is my list. (I do what I want.) Murder Party takes place on Halloween night, where a man finds an invitation to, you guessed it, a Murder Party. However, upon arriving at the party, he discovers that they intend on murdering him; all for the sake of art. Chaos soon follows.

12. Scream (1996)

Scream might not have much to do with Halloween, but it’s still a fun watch for this time of year. Directed by one of the legends of Horror, Wes Craven, the film is about a masked killer offing teenagers in a small town. It is a classic who done it type of film, with enough twists to keep you guessing until the end. Humor also fills this one as characters discuss the “rules” of horror films as they try to figure out who the killer is. I did not particularly like the sequels that followed, but this one is defiantly a classic.

13. V/H/S 1 & 2 (2012, 2013)

V/H/S 1 and 2 are great movies to watch for Halloween. V/H/S is comprised of five short segments. Each one filmed in the found footage style (Paranormal Activity). The last segment actually takes place on Halloween night, but in 1998. V/H/S 2 is comprised of four more segments, ranging from the paranormal to satanic cults. This gives you nine segments in total if you watched these back-to-back. Even if you don’t like all the segments, there is enough here that you will definitely enjoy something.

I hope you all enjoyed this list as much as I did making it.
Now time to get back to writing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Finished My Screenplay

In my last update, I mentioned I was going to be writing a screenplay that would be submitted to a contest. This past week the Quarter Finalists for the contest were announced. I was not on the list. Although I didn't make it on the list, I did accomplish something most people can't say...

I finished my screenplay.

Written by Me

The truth is, I started writing this screenplay years ago. I did what many writers do that are new to writing screenplays. I worked on it here and there, never actually got far, and eventually stopped working on it all together. Which is something I'm not proud of, because I'm actually really passionate about the art form that is screenwriting.

Jump to early 2014, I read online that ScreenCraft is holding a screenplay contest specifically for horror. It kicked me into gear. Finally, once and for all, I was going to finish my first screenplay. I was going to make damn sure of it. From mid March to the end of May, I worked on my screenplay almost every night. Even after working an 8 hour day, then hitting a gym session afterwards, I still came home and at least put an hour into writing something before bed.

My hard work and dedication paid off as I was able to complete my screenplay a week before the deadline of June 1. The 30 to 35 disordered pages I wrote before, were now a cohesive 92 pages.

Yeah, I didn't make it to the list of Quarter Finalists for the contest, but I did receive one page worth of feedback notes on my script. I'm proud of what they had to say about it. The numbers I received on their scorecard rating system shocked me, in a good way.

Just because I didn't advance in the contest doesn't mean my screenplay is bad. I am proud of what I accomplished in such little time. The fact that I finished my screenplay and received positive feedback on it from a reputable source is victory in it self. Not to mention it's my first screenplay.

I'll be moving forward with my writing, short stories and screenplays. Hopefully one day this screenplay will be shared with the world.

- Matt

Are you a filmmaker interested in reading my screenplay? Please contact me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My New Project(s)

If you follow me on Twitter, which you should, you might have noticed me posting about editors and/or things related to writing. That's because the new project that I am working on is writing a collection of short stories. Horror stories of course.

My goal is to write ten stories in total for the collection. I am working with an editor after I complete each rough draft to help polish them. As of right now, I have two stories completed.

Why am I writing short stories? Honestly, I have always wanted to write a book of short stories, but never actually dove into doing one. Once my film RedFall died, I thought now was the best time as ever to do it. I have a lot of random ideas, mostly ideas that were conceived as a plot for a feature film. So I thought to myself, why not turn those ideas into short stories and at least get them out into the world for people to enjoy.

I am also inspired by Clive Barker to write a book of short stories. He is mostly an author, but has directed some feature films. He is most famous for creating the Hellraiser series and the character Pinhead. Clive Barker writes novels, but every so often releases a book of short stories titled the Books of Blood. Seven of his short stories have actually been adapted by others into feature films, including 2008's The Midnight Meat Train and 1992's Candyman.

Although I am focused on writing short stories for my collection, I am about to take a break from writing them so I can complete a screenplay I have been working on for years. is holding the 2nd Annual ScreamCraft Horror Script Contest and the deadline is June 1st. Not only do I think it would be cool to enter and just see what happens, but it also gives me an excuse to kick myself into gear and finally complete the script.

You never know what could happen from there.

- Matt

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

RedFall... is Dead.

I stated back in July of last year that my film RedFall was on hold. I claimed that it would eventually happen, but I just didn't know when it would happen. Well I would just like to put it down right now that I have declared RedFall dead. It has been dead for some time, but now I’m making it official.

Previously unreleased poster. (Yes, that is me.)

I'm not going to sit here and point fingers at anyone and say, "This is way RedFall is dead." RedFall is dead, because I say it is dead. However, I would like to thank my friends Chris O’Brocki and Dan Houser, for joining me on this project from the beginning and providing their services for free in hopes of finishing this film. (Or hopes of shutting me up about it.)

Here is some information about the film, if you are interested.

RedFall was a horror film being shot in the Found Footage style, similar to Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project. Unlike most mainstream Found Footage films that usually have a ghostly element; RedFall was about a serial killer. (Pictured above.) I always described the film to people as Halloween meets The Blair Witch Project.

The visual look of the film was supposed to appear as though you are watching a digital transfer of a VHS tape. Once filming had finished and the edit was locked, we planned to add small visual effects to achieve this VHS look by doing such things as degrading the quality of the footage and adding tracking errors. We filmed two scenes featuring my niece to have breaks in the film that appeared as though the main characters were recording over old footage.

Only 7 scenes were completely filmed, out of the 21 total scenes. Every shoot we had was a blast. We were always having fun, but were serious and got things done in a reasonable fashion. As we completed scenes, I began work on a rough edit of the film. My edit, as it stands today, is 14 minutes and 16 seconds long.

Below are a few still frames taking right from my rough edit.
These frames appear without any visual effects.

My niece running down a pier. This was the opening shot for the film. The main footage came in as she was running down the pier. Acting as though it was being recorded over.

My niece looking for turtles. This appeared later in the film after a particular scene. Also appearing as old footage on the tape. (The date and time in the corners are also a bit of trivia. Can you figure it out?)

Dan Houser as Corey in a scene where him and Brandon are talking. The scene starts with him fooling around with the camera.

Chris O'Brocki as Brandon. This appears later in the film as the power goes off in the house and they have to rely on the camera's light.

Me as The Ghost. The killer of the film lurking in the basement as they searched for the fuse box. This was meant for the audience to notice and not the characters.

Me as The Ghost, saying hello to Corey as he attempted to fix the fuse box.

Brandon lays unconscious in the back of The Ghost's van.

In conclusion, I learned a lot doing RedFall. Good things and bad. Other than the fact that the film wasn’t completed or released, I don't regret anything. I would have never learned how to do certain things, like paint a rubber knife to look real.

I now have a new found respect for anyone who is an independent filmmaker, because making a movie is hard. I hope to one-day make a horror film of my own. If that day will come, I do not know, but I will damn sure give it my all.

On to the next project.

- Matt

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Favorite Video Games of 2013

I know I haven't talked about video gaming on here before, but better late then never. Of all the games that were released this year I wanted to make a list showing off my favorites.

Disclaimer: I would like to add that I didn't get to play every game that was released this year. So if you don't see something on this list, it might be because I didn't play it.

In no particular order, here are my favorite games of the past year...

Battlefield 4

This game was plagued with bugs and crashed none stop when it was first released, but after some patches the game seems to be working good. The campaign might be a little on the short side compared to others, but Battlefield is all about the multiplayer, and Battlefield 4 didn't disappoint me. You can do basically anything you want in multiplayer when it comes to the military. Tanks, helicopters, jets, boats, even ATV's can be used as you please. There is nothing more fun than flying a helicopter while a friend sits in the gunner sit taking out the opposing team. Shooting down enemy jets or helicopters are also fun, because you know that an actual player is inside it, rather then it just being an unmanned kill streak reward.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

I really thought this game was going to be stupid. An Assassin's Creed game with pirates? I had been losing interest in the Assassin's Creed series as it was, and when I heard about this; I was skeptical on even playing it. However, I gave it a chance anyway. Turns out it was a pretty damn good game. The open world is huge, and gives you lots of places to explorer and things to keep you busy. Although the thought the ending of the main campaign was abrupt and stupid, I had a great time playing it.

Bioshock Infinite

Here is another game I was a little skeptical about playing. Don't get me wrong, I love the Bioshock series, but this game was taking things in a new direction. Plus it was taking us out of the creepy city at the bottom of the ocean, Rapture, and moving us to Columbia, a floating city in the sky. Infinite was created by the studio that gave us the original Bioshock, therefore I had some hope it wouldn't disappoint. The game turned out beautiful in every way imaginable. The environments, the characters, and the combat are all fleshed out and filled with detail. Essentially the game is one long escort mission as you try to rescue Elizabeth and escape from Columbia. If you aren't aware, escort missions in video games are usually the worst missions in the game, so making the whole game revolve around it was a big leap. Infinite does it right though. Elizabeth turns out to be one of the best companions I have ever had in a video game. Finding money and ammo at times and even helping me open locked doors. The ending of Bioshock Infinite will indeed blow your mind, and once it's finished you'll want to start it over again.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us is probably my pick for Game of the Year. The game starts off as your typical third-person zombie shooter, but quickly turns into so much more. The game is so well-written in every way imaginable. The main story has enough twist and turns to always keep you on your toes and guessing what’s going to happen next. The game makes you feel for the characters. You feel like you’re actually trying to survive this post-apocalyptic-zombie-cannibal-infested world. I have to admit that this game is the first game to ever make me feel actual sadness for the characters. I actually got a little teary at some parts. If you have played this and you didn’t, you’re either a liar or not a human being. If you own a PS3 and haven’t played this, what is wrong with you? Bring on The Last of Us 2 or just release The Last of Us again on the PS4. P.S. Ellie is the shit.

Tomb Raider (2013)

I’ll admit, the only Tomb Raider I’ve played was the original on the PS1 and I barely even played that. I didn’t like it and never played any of the others. I’m not saying they are bad games, just saying they never appealed to me. However, when I saw this new remake/reboot coming out I wanted to give it a shot. When I finally got my hands on it I was blown away. Is this starting to sound like a trend? Anyways, this game is amazing. I highly recommend it! I really can’t wait to play through it again with the new Definitive version releasing on the Xbox One and PS4.

God of War: Ascension

I had never played any of the God of War games, because they just never looked interesting to me. Earlier in the year I bought a used PS3 and decided to give them a try. I started at the beginning and quickly became hooked, eventually playing through them all. I became a fan. God of War is a damn good series of games, and Ascension is no exception. I highly recommend this and any God of War game to anyone with a PS3. The boss battle at the end of Ascension is freaking ridiculous, but totally badass awesome at the same time. Some of the most fun I had playing this year. Where is God of War 4?

There you have it. My favorite video games of 2013. Hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to comment.