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Episode 340 - Leigh Whannell Focus: 2018's Upgrade

Are you a fan of Leigh Whannell? You probably are and may not even know it. He’s the co-creator of both the Saw and Insidious franchises where he wrote the screenplays, acted, and directed films in both franchises. Both are horror, but most certainly different subgenres. Now in 2018, his latest film, Upgrade, has been called horror but also techno-thriller, science fiction, action, and even body horror.

In the not too distant future, Grey and Asha Trace live a very happy upper middle class life. While his wife is an executive in a robotics firm, Grey is a mechanic and specializes in antique vehicles. When he and Asha return the latest refurbished vehicle to high-tech CEO Eron Keen, hitmen attack them on their way home. Leaving Grey a quadriplegic and his wife deceased, he begins to live a reclusive life. Soon however Eron offers him a chance to be whole again. When a new special computer chip, STEM, is surgically implanted in him, he not only is able to walk again but he is now able to get revenge.

With Upgrade, a new Blumhouse release, Leigh Whannell may just have entered the ranks as one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. Getting rave reviews, merging different genres, and filling the void for techno-thriller fans, the movie got off to a limited release of 1,700 screens yet immediately making its money back in one week. Dark Discussions takes a look at this very unique film and gives their opinion whether or not it is worthy of the praise that it is receiving.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 339 - The Lurking Man (2018)

There’s independent film and then there is under-the-radar film. Independent film has whole sections that you can find on Netflix or iTunes or other streaming and VOD services, but they usually show the most popular movies. But digging deep, one has to go around the internet searching blogs or websites that seem to cover small festivals such as those that are specific to one genre like horror; way beyond Sundance, TIFF, or SXSW. One such film is The Lurking Man, a dark character study.

When Cailean, a middle aged divorcee, gets in an accident, her astral presence appears within a bubble of light. Somewhere in the darkness, a foreboding voice tells her that she is in a state between death and life. The voice continues telling her that she is in jeopardy of not only permanently being deceased, but also lost to the void for living a dreadful life. Soon her back story begins to emerge and the foreboding voice’s source lets itself be known. Cailean’s worst fears are indeed the genuine.

Based on a novel by Keith Rommel, and starring Maritza Brikisak and Dan Lench in prominent roles, The Lurking Man played festivals throughout 2017 getting high acclaim. Now available on VOD, Dark Discussions takes a look at this very unique film and gives their thoughts. Your co-hosts are joined by special guest, Dan Lench, as he discusses his role in the film.

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Episode 338 - Turbo Kid (2015)

Midnight movies, they have a special place in people’s hearts. Whether they are gore films, sexploitation, bizarro, or comedies, there has been a resurgence of them as more and more have been remastered and rereleased to the masses. With the faux-midnight movies starting with the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double feature, Grindhouse, getting a cult following, others have appeared and many are pretty solid. One, a Quebec Canadian production entitled Turbo Kid, arrived in 2015 that unlike the others, mashes together the innocent feel of the Power Rangers and early Saturday morning television shows like Land of the Lost with Paul Verhoeven’s most violent films.

In a post-apocalyptic world where water is scarce and the main transportation for survivors is the bicycle, The Kid, an 18 year old, teams up with Apple, a robot-girl, and Frederic, an arm-wrestling cowboy, to stop the evil and tyrannical Zeus from exploiting the masses and hoarding the water. On the way, he discovers a suit of power armor manufactured in the likeness of his favorite comic book hero Turbo Man. But unlike the toy he thinks it is, he discovers very soon that it makes anyone who wears it a superhero.

With its 1980’s electronic soundtrack, its throwback costumes, and its timeline now already in the past, the movie is a bit tongue in cheek without trying to be a parody. Rather it relishes in its over-the-top nostalgia while trying to present a engrossing and solid story. Dark Discussions takes a look at this homage to film from another era and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 337 - Pyewacket (2018)

Many teenagers live as some sort of rebels. A lot of it comes down to being an adolescent and unable to cope with responsibility, changes, and accountability. Many dress differently, wear interesting hairstyles, or enjoy obscure arts. The new film, Pyewacket, directed by Adam MacDonald, is his follow up of his nature horror film Back Country. Unlike that film, this one is about a broken family, how they cope with the loss of a member, and the turn to darkness by the daughter to the occult.

Leah, a teenage girl, has gone all goth since the death of her father. She wears dark clothes, listens to extreme music, and reads all about the occult. Her mother is even in more despair. She continues to be depressed months after the passing. When she packs up herself and Leah to the backwoods to live, Leah is angry being uprooted from her friends. After a fight where words are regretted, Leah runs into the woods and performs a ritual to bring the old English demon Pyewacket to come and kill her mother. Soon strange things begin to happen and she wonders whether her rash actions actually were more than a girl crying for help.

Pyewacket, from an old historical account by an English witchfinder general, has remained an interesting part of the witch craze of bygone days. The movie when played at festivals received good vibe and has since been listed by many as one of the better horror films of the early part of 2018. Dark Discussions takes a look at this Canadian horror film and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 336 - Margot Kidder Tribute: 1974's Black Christmas

Slasher films have been mainstays since the time of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Yet, films such as Psycho, Peeping Tom, and the dozens of Giallos by Sergio Martino, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, among others appeared before 1978, including Black Christmas, Bob Clark’s 1974 film that many actually consider the first “real” slasher. With the passing of Margot Kidder, one of genre’s most beloved stars, Dark Discussions takes a look at this classic genre film.

In a small college town, a sorority house gets various obscene phone calls during the month of December. Though Jessica, Phyllis, and Barbara are staying in the house for the Christmas break, everyone else begins to head home. When Clare, one of the last to leave, mysteriously disappears, both her boyfriend Chris and father become concerned. After a local high school girl disappears, the police get involved. Unbeknownst to the girls, the danger may be lurking right inside their sorority house.

Made in Canada, starring both Americans and Canadians, it was one of the films that put Bob Clark on the map but also Margot Kidder too. Though in a supporting role, she received high praise in what turned out to be a defining moment in her career. Going on to do Superman only solidified her stardom. Dark Discussions does a tribute to not only a great film, but also to an actress who’s time was too short.

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Episode 335 - Bad Samaritan (2018)

David Tennant is probably best known for playing Doctor Who for a number of years. A heroic if eccentric character, it was surprising to see him play the villain in season one of the television series Jessica Jones. With his remarkable performance it isn’t surprising that he may have been typecast as an antagonist going forward. And sure enough his latest film, Bad Samaritan, he does a turn as another psychopath far removed from his role as Doctor Who.

Sean Falco and his friend Derek Sandoval run a scam. Both young men who seem to not know what to do with their lives, they valet cars at a fancy restaurant in Portland, Oregon where they then head over with the car and keys in hand to rob the empty houses. When Sean heads over to the house of eccentric millionaire Carl Erendreich, his robbery turns into something more when he discovers a woman tied and chained. Unable to free her, he decides to do something about it.e.

Director Dean Devlin in his sophomore film presents us with a throwback thriller that would fit nicely with its similar brethren from the 1990’s. Though starring David Tennant, the supporting casts holds their own. Dark Discussions takes a look at this film and gives their opinions on the cast, the thrills, and whether the plot holds up to its daring set up.

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Episode 334 - Terrifier (2018)

First it was the Universal monsters, and then the slasher icons that became household names. From Dracula to Jigsaw, iconic villains have been in short supply recently. Some films like Laid To Rest, The Collector, and the Hatchet films have brought new killers to the forefront for a few years before fading away. The new film, Terrifier (2018), brings a new antagonist named Art the Clown to the horror fan eye. With the film’s Halloween setting, it has even a second chance to breakthrough some would say.

Early morning on November 1st, just after the end of a Halloween party, two friends, Tara and Dawn, visit a pizza parlor to get some well deserved grub. While there, a fellow adult trick-or-treater in a clown suit enters the establishment. Doing the whole mime thing, Tara becomes a bit anxious with the sudden attention he has for her. After the clown is forcibly removed by the owners after vandalizing the back bathroom, Tara and Dawn head home only to find their vehicle with a flat tire.

Written and directed by Damien Leone, the movie is based on a character he invented for a horror anthology he made in 2013 entitled All Hallow’s Eve. Though not seen widely, the movie drew a lot of positive feedback especially with the stories that included Art the Clown. Seeing promise, Art becomes the focus in this new film that received a lot of press at film festivals. Dark Discussions takes a look at this new film and gives their thoughts whether Art can break through to a wider audience.

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Episode S02 - C.H.U.D. Lives! A Horror Anthology

April 27th, 2018 release of horror anthology C.H.U.D. Lives!: A Tribute Anthology. Dark Discussions interviews some of the authors of this new horror book including Ross Baxter, Chad Lutzke, and Philip Perron.

C.H.U.D. is a genre defying, cult classic film featuring monsters living in the sewers below New York. The stories in this anthology expand the world created by the film and add depth to the C.H.U.D. universe like never before. From stories of apocalyptic horror and all out monster action, to tales of underground parties interrupted by uninvited guests and evening strolls that end in death, this anthology will leave you both smiling and breathless.

Relive the fear as these original stories take you beyond the movie to events that occurred before, during, and after the scenes we remember so well.

Includes C.H.U.D. related stories by Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty, Mort Castle, Michael H. Hanson, Martin Powell, Ben Fisher, Jason White, Chad Lutzke, Ross Baxter, Philip C Perron, David Bernstein, Nick Cato, Alex Laybourne, Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes, David Robbins, Robert Waters, Greg Mitchell, Ryan C. Thomas, and Eugene Johnson.

With an introduction by David Drake. Compiled by Eric S. Brown.

C.H.U.D. Lives! also features in-depth interviews with Andrew Bonime (producer) and Parnell Hall (screenwriter), as well as never before seen behind-the-scenes photos from the classic 80s horror film.

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Episode 331 - A Quiet Place (2018)

Emily Blunt is one of those actresses that is able to jump back and forth between Oscar award type films and genre. With a wide range of science fiction, horror, and thrillers under her belt, and many of them well received by fans, it doesn’t surprise one that her latest film, A Quiet Place, has received phenomenal reviews. Directed and co-written by her real life husband, John Krasinski, the movie had a great marketing campaign that drew more buzz than expected.

The Abbott family lives a truly quiet life in an apocalyptic future. In a world stalked by some sort of creatures that hunt based upon sound, people are forced to not only speak as little as possible, but also not even make a sound. Headed by Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski also starring in the film), to survive they must find and farm food while also take care of their young children. Their daughter, Regan, is deaf. In a world where danger is around every corner, her disability is both an asset and also a hindrance.

With the revival of horror in 2017 with such films as Annabelle: Creation, Get Out, Split, and It: Chapter 1, A Quiet Place has joined them as a successful box office giant while receiving critical reviews equally as positive. Dark Discussions takes a look at this little film that has turned out to be big. Thoughts and opinions are pondered.

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Episode 318 - 2017 Review

We are already four percent into 2018 and some good films have come out. But last year was a heck of a year too. Dark Discussions puts together their review of all that was good and bad in 2017. Included is the consideration of 75 different films that were worthy enough to be considered as a top 20 film for genre and horror films.

Each of your five co-hosts put together a list of movies they thought were good enough to be seen by audiences. This included both a list of horror films and a list of other speculative fiction films. Afterwards we then combined them and came up with Dark Discussions definitive lists of the best of 2017. Some obvious films like Wonder Woman and Get Out appear but also little known films like The Evil Within, Radius, and Berlin Syndrome were considered.

Also included are some of our listener choices and what they felt were the best of the year. And don’t forget our top and worst scenes, scream queens, breakout star, and anything else you can think of. Dark Discussions wraps up last year in a nice tight bow and gives their listeners a good many films to go out and search for.

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Episode 316 - 2018 Preview

With January 2018 underway, it is time to visit what is coming this year to cinemas, video-on-demand platforms, as well as those genre films that are going straight to disc. Last year, horror seemed to dominate genre and there were a lot of great flicks. This year once again there seems to be a lot of great ones coming. Plus also more superhero flicks. Reboots and remakes and sequels are also arriving too.

Dark Discussions once again is back with their look forward to the new year and which films seem to interest them most. Some of the more high profile flicks spoken of include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Annihilation, the two X-Men films, Slender Man, The Nun, and Game Night.

Some other flicks talked about include Fashionista, The Bad Man, the critically praised Norwegian film, Thelma, and a few sequels to Dead Snow and Halloween. And then at the very end we list off other films and talk about some of the latest news about movies and genre cinema.

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Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews Volume 007

Welcome to the latest edition of Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews – a podcast that reviews and critiques films released by boutique labels that have taken old and sometimes forgotten midnight movies and re-releases them in special editions where the quality of the picture is fully remastered, usually from onetime lost or privately owned negatives or prints.

This month I review four films and one television show. The movies include the 1987 slasher Slaughterhouse, the 2011 faux-grindhouse film The Disco Exorcist, the 1998 psychological thriller Jaded (starring Carla Gugino), the 2015 Japanese science fiction anime series Valkyrie Drive Mermaid, and the 1979 science fiction slasher film The Dark.

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Episode 259 - Patient Seven (The Critique)

Last week Dark Discussions interviewed director Danny Draven and actor Dan Lench of the movie Patient Seven. We learned a bit about the horror anthology and how the various shorts were award winning movies from the convention circuit. After being scooped up by the producers, a wraparound story was built around these films creating a cohesive movie.

A highly renowned doctor comes to a sanitarium to interview seven patients for a new book he is planning. Each patient is a very unique behavioral health case. As the psychiatrist's unconventional techniques become known, the orderlies become concerned and the patients become more enraged. Yet there may be a truth behind each patient's tale that not even a sanitarium can keep hidden.

Patient Seven encompasses seven award winning shorts with an eighth wraparound story that ties it all together. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, demons, and murder fill out the almost two hour runtime. With its great score, its dark tone, and each tales unique twists, the movie has been getting rave reviews and has been considered one of the best horror anthologies to come along in some time. Dark Discussions does their critique and review of this new film.

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Episode 258 - Patient Seven (The Interviews)

Horror anthologies seem to be films that horror fans either love or hate. Many can be disjointed, have too many tonal shifts, or simply aren't any good. But there has been a huge resurgence of them recently led by such films as The ABC's of Death and V/H/S. A new film entitled Patient Seven suddenly appeared on VOD services and quickly became one of the top horror movies rented and viewed on such places as iTunes.

With seven individual stories with an eighth story as the wraparound tale, the film is quite lengthy and yet flows pretty smoothly. The cast includes some fairly well known folks including Alfie Allen (of Game of Thrones), actress Amy Smart, and genre favorite Michael Ironsides.

Additionally, the movie has actor Dan Lench, a star of last year's science fiction film, Circle, playing a pivotal role that is completely different than anything he's played before. Along with Dan Lench, Dark Discussions interviews one of the directors, Danny Draven, who also edited and put together the upcoming disc release. Get ready for part one of our two part episode of Patient Seven. This episode focuses on the people that worked on the film.