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Episode 150A - Bits, Pieces, and Body Parts Volume 4

Welcome to the 150th episode of Dark Discussions ... well, at least the first part. Though we have a discussion of one of the best genre films in sometime, prior to the talk, we discussed the various things that have gone on these past couple of weeks and talk about them.

Things that are brought up in conversation books: Jonathan Kellerman's The Murder Book, John Sandford's Rules of Prey, and Stephen King's Doctor Sleep. Mike and Abe give their review of Guardians of the Galaxy. Films including Lucy, Hercules, The Sacrament, Lake Placid, Burnt Offerings, and Sharknado 2 are spoken of. Television programming including Doctor Who, The Strain and The Leftovers are brought up. The manga, King's Game, is given some airtime. And (at the time), upcoming films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Into the Storm are brought up, including our thoughts.

But also the passing of three important people in the genre occurred: Marilyn Burns, star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, makeup man Dick Smith, and author/podcaster Lawrence Santoro. Dark Discussions speaks fondly of the three and we wrap up this episode as we get ready for Part 2 of episode 150 where we discuss ... check back in a few days.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 149 - Event Horizon (1997)

A cult classic ... what makes a cult classic and why? Well, the 1997 film, Event Horizon, is definitely one of those type of films. Similar to Alien 3, when it was first released the critics thumbed their nose at it, but the visuals and ideas behind the screenplay were very intriguing and have kept the movie alive with a group of fans vehemently defending it and giving it a second life with the home market.

Now almost 20 years later, the film has been re-evaluated, and though hasn't gained the status of other "failed films" like John Carpenter's The Thing, it still has things that make it an interesting watch. First, this is one of the early films of English director Paul W. S. Anderson, most famous for the Resident Evil films. Also the screenplay was reworked by Andrew Kevin Walker, most famous for writing Seven, most certainly leaving his mark on this film.

Dark Discussions discusses this film, a listener choice in our monthly Facebook poll, and talks about Paul W. S. Anderson as a director, the huge amount of cut and now lost footage that would be intriguing to see in a longer version of the film, and the movie's place in both the science fiction and horror genre canons. Whether the film is worthy of that cult classic status may not be answered but your hosts most certainly give it their best in the discussion rundown.

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Episode 148 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a new reboot of the Pierre Boulle novel, appeared on the big screen. After the disappointment of the 2001 Tim Burton film, the Hollywood studio seemed to already write this new version off as a failure even before its release. However, to their surprise, the film not only received great reviews but it also drew in huge crowds and became one of the best films of the year. Now 2014 we have the follow up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which itself has received fantastic reviews.

Taking place 11 years after the first, where 90% of humanity has died from the ALZ-113 virus (also known as the simian flu), survivors in San Francisco head out towards Muir Woods to see if they can get an electrical dam's turbines running in hope of bringing electricity back. However, they discover an unexpected surprise; the genetically changed apes from the first film have created a society there and now two civilizations are about to collide. And yet the genuine danger may not be each other but instead may come from within.

Dark Discussions talks about this new movie. The interesting thing is where each of your co-hosts are coming from. Abe had not seen the first film and is not too familiar with the older franchise. Mike beloves the original film series and comes in with a somewhat biased perspective. And both Phil and Eric are familiar with the other movies but are coming in simply looking to see a good film. Get onboard and listen to what we have to say about the new film. And honestly, there were no lame jokes about "Hey, I saw you multiple times in the film."

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Episode 147 - The Last House on the Left Retrospective

Oddly this episode was supposed to be about the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, directed by Dennis Iliadis. However, the topic switches to the notorious original 1972 movie as well where we compare, contrast, and discuss both films and their place in genre film history.

The original, starring David Hess and produced by Friday the 13th's creator Sean Cunningham and written and directed by Wes Craven, with its famous catch phrase It's Only a Movie, shocked audiences everywhere. Raw and rough, in comparison the 2009 remake featuring Sara Paxton is well made and in some quarters (specifically Stephen King) considered a masterpiece.

Dark Discussions talks about the original's, and in some ways heavy handed, message disguised in grindhouse. We discuss Stephen King's opinion which he wrote about in a Fangoria magazine article, how the original jumped started Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham's career, why the remake is such a well received film despite its subject matter, and compare other classic genre films to the original and why the 1972 film is not considered in the same category as its contemporaries.

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Episode 146 - Greg McLean Focus: The Wolf Creek Films

During the mid-2000's, with the DVD market beginning to spawn and the internet becoming an everyday tool, smaller independent movies, including genre films, from all over the world began to reach audiences everywhere. Directors such as Neil Marshall, Gaspar Noé, Christopher Smith, the Pang Brothers, among others became known to the genre fan masses. One of those filmmakers was Greg McLean, an Australian. And his film Wolf Creek appeared in 2005.

The film played at such prestigious events as the Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Immediately the internet went abuzz about this very raw old school film with its unusual screenplay structure, throwback aesthetics, and very frank depiction of violence. Some, including Roger Ebert, thought the film to be nothing more than appalling while others, including Slant Magazine, thought it to be one of the best films of the decade.

With such polarizing opinions, the film garnered its large cult status. However as time has passed, its harshness has dimmed a bit letting the film fall naturally into genre film canon. One question asked is why did it take nine years for the sequel? Strange as that may be, it has arrived. And both Wolf Creek and its follow up Wolf Creek 2 have the ever charismatic actor John Jarratt portraying the mysterious character Mick Taylor. Your co-hosts discuss the two films and give their opinions.

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Episode 145 - Escape From Tomorrow Part 2

Episode 145 is a direct follow up to Episode 144. Unlike the prior recording, here we go into depth on the new guerrilla film, Escape From Tomorrow, which was filmed mostly on the sly in both Disney World and Disney Land. While hiding right out in the open from Disney security, director Randy Moore and his film's cast were able to get enough footage to create an entire horror film.

Guest host Kristi Petersen Schoonover, the author of the ghost story collection Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole: Tales From Haunted Disney, joins Dark Discussions. With her expertise on all things Walt Disney, she lets us know the layouts of where everything is filmed both from researching the film but also her amazing knowledge of the parks themselves.

Escape From Tomorrow seems like two films in one. The first half is a dark character study of a middle aged man sinking into a midlife crisis while the second half is a surreal film of either his mental breakdown or a supernatural happening that may be surrounding him. Some of your co-hosts think the film definitely has an art house feel to it, but the main thing is the film is more than its guerilla filmmaking gimmick. Either way, the film is available right now on Netflix and worth checking out so you can make your own judgment.

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Episode 144 - Escape From Tomorrow Part 1

Part time co-host, author Kristi Petersen Schoonover, joins Dark Discussions on a two part episode about a very interesting film entitled Escape From Tomorrow. The film, directed by new talent Randy Moore, was able to film a majority of the movie within Walt Disney's amusement parks, something that has never been done before. Co-host Abe calls it guerilla film making. And yet the film is very much complete, and it is as far away from a rough cut that a movie can be.

Kristi, the author of the ghost story collection Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole: Tales From Haunted Disney World, is not only an expert on Disney, the company, the films, and the amusement parks, but she brings an insight to a movie that she calls more a "magical fantasy" than the horror genre that it has been marketed as.

With Kristi included, Dark Discussions answers listeners questions directly related to all that's Disney as well as the main topic. Things discussed include Disney villains, unintentional creepy protagonists, what makes Small World in some ways as scary as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, scary parts of Disney movies, among other things before we discuss Escape From Tomorrow, a film that everyone can watch right now on Netflix.

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Episode 143 - Doug Liman Focus: 2014's Edge of Tomorrow

Who is Doug Liman? He's a director that everyone seems to forget yet is as important and talented as many of his contemporaries like Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, or Quentin Tarantino (among others). A list of his best achievements include Swingers, Go, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Identity, Fair Game, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now with the new sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, Doug Liman continues his string of some pretty intense cinema.

A few years in the future, a meteor carrying some sort of alien entity, crashes into Western Europe. It grows and becomes a sentient enemy to Earth. When Tom Cruise's character is forced to fight in a D-Day type of invasion to stop the invaders, he is suddenly stuck within a time loop created by the extraterrestrial which actually allows him to have an advantage in the war to save Earth.

Dark Discussions talks about this well received film that surprising has been very lukewarm at the box office. Discussions include Tom Cruise and his power (or lack thereof) at the box office, the time loop concept within the film, and the screenplay written by Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie based off the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. To conclude, did your co-hosts enjoy the film? Listen to find out.