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Episode 182 - Alex Garland Focus: 2015's Ex Machina

Dredd, 28 Days Later, Sunshine ... three films that could be considered some of the best science fiction released in the past fifteen years. 28 Days Later all but solidified biological agents as a source of zombies, and after Return of the Living Dead made fast zombies in vogue. Dredd further solidified cyberpunk as one of the most overlooked genres and yet one of the most viable. And Sunshine was considered by many as a better film than Prometheus. The one thing they have in common is that the screenwriter was a man named Alex Garland who makes his directorial debut with the new film Ex Machina.

Ex Machina starts with Caleb, a promising computer programmer, winning a contest at the multibillion dollar company that he works at which inserts him on a project for the company owner, Nathan. Out in the wilderness, Nathan has a home/office building where he is creating the first sentient artificial intelligence. Caleb's job is to commune with this robot named Ava and determine, in his opinion, whether it is able to think like a living being. But as always, bigger questions are asked.

Originally the film appeared set for a limited release, but it was widely distributed on April 24, 2015 to hundreds of theaters. Unlike some more recent science fiction films, it would be categorized as more hard sci-fi and possibly a warning for the future. With its strong techno-thriller features, the film has received rave reviews by the majority of critics. With this episode, Dark Discussions gives their take of the film and also try to answer the many questions that it presents.

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Episode 181 - Starry Eyes (2014)

A Star is Born, that famous tale where one partner is more famous than the other and then suddenly is left behind when the other partner becomes even more famous. And Hollywood, some say it is ruthless and cruel where only a handful of people make it to the top. Dozens of beautiful and charismatic young people head there and find out that they are just one of many. So what can they do to make it as an actor or actress? And that old myth of where some group of people, the Illuminati or some secret society controls everything. Well, the film Starry Eyes seems to possibly have all these elements in it.

When a young, pretty waitress goes out to auditions for commercials, television shows, and films, yet doesn't stand out from the dozens of other girls, she has a breakdown while in the bathroom. Hearing her depression spill out, a casting director asks her to come back for a second audition. What seems to be a fantastic opportunity where promises of stardom and fame spill out of producers mouths, she suddenly finds out that the casting couch may only be the first step down a road of no redemption.

Dark Discussions listed the film as the fourth best horror film of 2014 and it seems to have appeared on many others' lists. Your co-hosts were lucky enough also to bring aboard actress Maria Olsen, who plays the outstanding role of the casting director, for her thoughts on the film. As a metaphor for how Hollywood and greed can destroy a person, the film can take on a whole different meaning. Yet as a straight horror film with a dark and mysterious cult, that alone is worth a watch for any genre fan.

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Episode 180 - Zombeavers (2015)

Zombies? No, Zombeavers! Zombeavers? Yes, a new horror movie that when first announced was thought to be a joke. But no, the film, simply entitled Zombeavers, has been released and is now readily available on VOD. The title alone sounds ridiculous. And to most it even sounds a bit inappropriate. But that double entendre is only an after thought when, yes, what is presented is beavers that are actually zombies!

When Mary and Zoe decide to take their friend Jenn to a lake cabin to try to get away from all their troubles, we find out that a chemical spill has transpired turning the local beaver population into zombies. Suddenly the three girls along with a handful of other locals and tourists hole up in their cabin and begin a fight for their life as the zombeavers begin their murderous rampage.

Is the film a horror comedy? It sure is. However it is a smart horror comedy. It throws in the favorite genre troupes of slasher and zombie classics and mashes it all up into a film that doesn't become a juvenile gambol. Yet did your co-hosts actually enjoy the film or was it simply a forgettable romp? Listen to the podcast and find out what Dark Discussions thinks.

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Episode 179 - It Follows (2015)

Festival circuits have brought numerous independent and foreign films to the attention of both genre fans and in some cases distribution companies. Some movies that got incredible buzz in the past were You're Next, The Lords of Salem, and Red, White, and Blue to just name a handful. Last year there were two films that were overwhelmingly given fantastic reviews before the masses were even able to see them. One was the Australian film Babadook and the other was a small Michigan made film entitled It Follows.

When Jamie, a young woman, decides to consummate her relationship with her boyfriend, she suddenly discovers that something or someone is following her. No matter where she goes, she isn't able to escape from the ever present "it". Soon she recruits her friends and sister to help her flee from this unwanted threat. Yet she begins to wonder if she will ever be safe again.

Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows was to get a limited release on Friday the 13th in March 2015 but after it made over six figures in four theaters, the film's VOD release was dropped and eventually the film has expanded to over 1,600 theaters in the US alone. It Follows, one of the most highly anticipated horror films in years, is now reviewed by Dark Discussions. Will they agree with what author Kristi Petersen Schoonover says is "the best thing I've seen in years"? Listen and find out.

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Episode 178 - Game of Thrones Season 4 Recap Part 2

Just a few weeks ago, your Dark Discussions co-hosts recorded a marathon episode talking all about season four of Game of Thrones. As a result the recording was broken out into a two part episode with Episode 177 discussing the character arcs of Daenerys Targaryen and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, among others. But we had so much more to discuss. Each of us had our own opinions on the other story lines.

This episode focuses on not only the tales of Jon Snow, his major battle, and growth at the Wall, but also specific events that were major plot points for not only season four but also the series as a whole. Included is our take on the Purple Wedding, what transpires there, as well as some surprises that revolve Petyr Baelish and all the way to pre-dating the events in the show!

Further discussion is about Bran and the tree; what is going to happen to Tyrion and all the Lannisters; further curiosity on what's going on up North with Stannis and the Boltons. We also give some predictions on what's going to happen in the future. Will the show veer off and diverge from the books? Will new characters be introduced or will the show runners choose to merge them? Here us out before the start of season five. And remember, the night is dark and full of terrors.

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Episode 177 - Game of Thrones Season 4 Recap Part 1

Okay, we are all getting ready for the new season of one of the most popular shows on television. Season five of Game of Thrones is coming to HBO on April 12, 2015 with a perspective of a number of characters. It has also been rumored that this season will either diverge from the books in The Song of Ice and Fire series or have parts of the tale that haven't been written by author George R. R. Martin yet.

Though minor that they may seem to be, series directors Alex Graves, Michelle MacLaren, and Neil Marshall are not returning for the new season, nor is George R. R. Martin writing one episode as he has in the prior four seasons. The new format includes five directors in which they will direct two each back to back, a first for Game of Thrones. So there are some interesting changes it seems both behind and in front of the camera.

With season four having arrived on disc, Dark Discussions decides to recap the prior season in gearing up for the new season. In this first of a two part episode, our focus begins with the story lines of Daenerys Targaryen, Jorah Mormont, and the dragons. Also we focus on Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Arya Stark and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane and their adventures. Co-host Eric even makes a bold prediction of what he thinks may happen with the dragons.

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Episode 176 - Predestination (2015)

All you zombies. Well, that's the name of a short story by one of the most important writers in the 20th century. The author, Robert Heinlein, was a leader in the science fiction tale. His career spanned decades and encompassed the golden age of sci-fi literature. All You Zombies though was actually a time travel story and the title in some ways was more a metaphor of people and their loss of self. A pair of Australian film makers, the Spierig brothers, best known for the horror sci-fi film Daybreakers, are back with their take on the Heinlein tale, remaining the story in its movie format as Predestination.

The film stars Ethan Hawke and newcomer Sarah Snook in what some have said is a star making performance. When a bartender in a local Manhattan lounge serves drinks to the various regulars, a stranger enters and during their conversation admits he is the author of a self help column in the local paper. When the two make a bet over a bottle of whiskey, we soon discover that the bartender may be a lot more than what he says he is and the stranger's story may lead to something much bigger than any of them would ever think.

Though a VOD release and having only a minor theater run, the film has been unanimously received as a success by most critics. With its varying twists and larger plot that revolves around an unknown terrorist, the film has brought much talk on the internet of what it really is all about. Dark Discussions tries to tackle the elaborate plot and finally give their opinion of what are some saying is the first great genre film of 2015.

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Episode 170 - Come Back To Me (2014)

It's a new year and there are a whole list of new movies coming. Genre cinema is now mainstream with superheroes and teen sci-fi novels being brought to the big screen almost monthly. This year a lot of familiar film franchises are bringing new additions to their canon: Sinister, Insidious, James Bond, the Terminator, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Star Wars, the Avengers.

But there are a lot of small films that are coming that have been highly anticipated such as It Follows, Krampus, Rob Zombie's 31, Greg Mclean's 6 Miranda Drive, and Simon Rumley's The Last Word. Other original material includes the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending, Neill Blomkamp's Chappie, M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit, Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, Tom Hardy's starring vehicle Child 44, Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak, and Ridley Scott's The Martian.

Dark Discussions brings a pretty large list of a bunch of films that have been on their radar for the new year. Some are films that are so low profile that they'll be new to you. Others are higher profile but we discuss the actors, actresses, directors, and screenwriters behind them and also read into the trailers and blurbs that have been discussed throughout the internet. Get a pen and paper out and start jotting down these new films that may interest any genre fan.

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Episode 169 - 2015 Preview

It's a new year and there are a whole list of new movies coming. Genre cinema is now mainstream with superheroes and teen sci-fi novels being brought to the big screen almost monthly. This year a lot of familiar film franchises are bringing new additions to their canon: Sinister, Insidious, James Bond, the Terminator, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Star Wars, the Avengers.

But there are a lot of small films that are coming that have been highly anticipated such as It Follows, Krampus, Rob Zombie's 31, Greg Mclean's 6 Miranda Drive, and Simon Rumley's The Last Word. Other original material includes the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending, Neill Blomkamp's Chappie, M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit, Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, Tom Hardy's starring vehicle Child 44, Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak, and Ridley Scott's The Martian.

Dark Discussions brings a pretty large list of a bunch of films that have been on their radar for the new year. Some are films that are so low profile that they'll be new to you. Others are higher profile but we discuss the actors, actresses, directors, and screenwriters behind them and also read into the trailers and blurbs that have been discussed throughout the internet. Get a pen and paper out and start jotting down these new films that may interest any genre fan.

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Episode 168 - 2014 Year In Review

Dark Discussions brings you their year in review episode. 2014 seemed to start out very slow for horror films but by the end of the year, there were plenty of good films to see, all readily available and not just festival films or limited release. But co-hosts Eric and Mike had a very good point which is what is determined as other genre (sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, techno-thrillers, mysteries, and exploitation) was outstanding compared to horror itself. It could be argued that 4 or 5 thrillers and sci-fi flicks were heads and above the very best genre films of the year, even over horror as a specific category.

One of the many interesting aspects of the prior year's best horror films was the cost to make them. Out of Dark Discussions definitive top 13 horror films of the year (a 3 way tie for 10th), the total cost to make them was easily less than $30M USD. This shows outstanding small budget and independent cinema but it also is dire for wide release Hollywood horror films. And to put an exclamation point on it, only one of the films on the definitive list was a wide release film.

Films weeded down for consideration for our Top 10 horror list and Top 10 genre list were just under seventy total films. And unlike prior years, your four co-hosts were very close to having consensus with the choices on both lists. Rounding out the episode includes a quick recap of 2014's genre television, books, anime, and our breakout list and worst list.

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