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Episode 247 - Killer Fish Fest - 1955's The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues

The 1950's was arguably the golden age of science fiction. Movies, books, comics, and cover art seemed to be part of the era's zeitgiest. James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff opened up American International Pictures which became one of the leaders in science fiction cinema. They were also the folks that discovered such talents as Roger Corman. In 1955, the film, The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues, was the second feature on a dual bill with Roger Corman's Day the World Ended.

When the bodies of fishermen and beachgoers begin to wash ashore, a motley group of folks take notice. A college professor, a scientist, a government agent, and a foreign spy all coalesce upon this small tourist village. What they discover is uranium ore has breached the ocean's floor causing havoc to the townsfolk. Yet, as everyone digs further into the matter, they soon discover that a more ominous presence may be living within the depths of the ocean.

With the threat of the Cold War, nuclear annihilation, and dangers from foreign shores, many science fiction films of the era played into these fears. The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues was no exception. One of the lesser known films of the era, yet having a small but strong cult following, the film has recently been rediscovered with its blu-ray release. Part 4 of 5 episodes of our Killer Fish Fest month, Dark Discussions takes a look at this film from our grandparents' generation.

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Episode 246 - Killer Fish Fest - 2012's El Monstro Del Mar!

B-films have turned out to be pretty influential throughout the years. Most were made on shoe string budgets or were about topics that many folks considered nothing more than pulp. However over the years, a lot have been re-evaluated or even become classics. Very recently new filmmakers have paid tribute to the monster movies or roughies of yesteryear. In 2012, an Australian film entitled El Monstro Del Mar did just that and attracted notice from such media as Fangoria magazine.

When three femme fatales come roaring into a small ocean village, they bring with them a big city attitude that a small town would consider alien. Hannah, a local girl, becomes intrigued by their free spirited mind-set. However, her grandfather begins to worry that the strangers' flamboyant ways could awaken the town's past. A past that was filled with bloodshed brought on by a supernatural being.

With its three lead characters quite like those from the Russ Meyer classic, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, and having a sea monster reminiscent of the beasts from 1950's science fiction horror films, El Monstro Del Mar is a mash up of two much loved genres. Director and writer, Stuart Simpson, leads a group of new, young filmmakers coming from Australia. Part of Dark Discussions Killer Fish Fest for the month of August, we review and critique and give our opinions.

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Episode 245 - Killer Fish Fest - 2006's The Host

A lot of nations are pumping out some pretty good horror and genre films. Denmark, France, the UK, Australia, to name a few. One of the most prolific places is South Korea. This year alone some highly anticipated flicks are coming. But back ten years ago, director Joon-ho Bong decided to do his take on a Kaiju film. The movie, simply entitled The Host, was a smash hit in its home country but also received fabulous reviews throughout the world.

The Park family runs a summer snack shack in a park in the heart of Seoul, South Korea. Running along the Han River, the place is swamped with tourists and locals wanting to take a break from the city's hustle and bustle. However, when a giant creature suddenly pops out of the water, it goes on a rampage killing dozens of people. One person, Gang-du Park, watches as his daughter is swept away by the monster. He rallies his family together and begin what seems to be the impossible task of searching for his daughter.

The film stars Kang-ho Song as the desperate man in search of his daughter. With a fairly big budget and having special effects made by international companies, The Host surprised many folks and became one of the top grossing films in South Korean history. Co-host Eric chose this film as his choice for our month long Killer Fish Fest review episodes. Come on in the water, if you dare.

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Episode 244 - Killer Fish Fest - 2012's The Bay

Welcome to episode one of five of our Killer Fish Fest. Six films, five podcasts on all things aquatic that can be horrifying. Our very first themed month of movie podcasts. To begin, we start with a fairly recent film by possibly one of the most highly acclaimed directors of all time. Maryland native, Barry Levinson, famed for such films as Rain Man, Bugsy, and Sleepers, shocked many when he not only did a small low budget horror film, but one in the mode of found footage. That film, The Bay from 2012, was an effective and quite scary film about the terrors of pollution.

The Chesapeake Bay, with its very long shore line and the location of Baltimore, one of the major coastal cities in the US, is known for its tourism, its wildlife, and its summer activities. Famous for the blue crab, Maryland has become famous for its crab cakes. But when a celebration of Independence Day goes awry, chaos results. A strange and mysterious infection begins to infect a small town. People begin to die, and the government begins to battle time in its quest to discover what is happening.

Filmed as a mockumentary, the film switches between multiple story and time lines to effectively weave an all so real story. With its unknown cast, the movie becomes more effective. Just don't have anyone come into the room while it is playing or they may actually believe it to be a real story. Co-host Kristi chose the film to critique. And what a way to kick off our aquatic horror films.

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Episode 243 - Pod (2015)

Eight Films to Die For, a group of films that After Dark would release limited around the United States for a two week period yearly, actually had a few gems out of the group. Some of the more famous that have become cult film fans favorites include The Hamiltons, Lake Mungo, Dread, and Mulberry Street to name a few. However, there was a little scene one entitled Ritual from 2013 which was actually a pretty good film that co-host Phil listed as one of the top 20 best horror films of that year. Since, director Mickey Keating has had three more films released in a two year period. In 2016 he released festival flicks Darling and Carnage Park. However, in 2015 he released a little film called Pod that Dark Discussions decided to critique.

When Martin leaves a voice mail for his brother Ed to stay away and don't tell anyone where he is, Ed meets up with their sister Lyla, and the two head to Martin's remote Maine lake home to find out what's wrong. When they arrive, they discover Martin has gone off the rails. Paranoid, scared, and most certainly dangerous, he begins ranting about a government conspiracy about experiments done upon unwitting soldiers. Now, having tried to go off the grid, Martin now believes that he's being followed and in danger of being killed. Ed and Lyla try to decipher the rantings of their sibling.

Written and directed by Mickey Keating, the film stars genre favorite, Lauren Ashley Carter as Lyla, probably first noticed by horror fans in the sleeper hit Jugface. Dean Cates plays Ed while Brian Morvant, who plays Martin, easily shines as a disturbed person that may or may not be telling the truth. Listed as a top twenty film by Dark Discussions last year, co-hosts Abe and Phil take a look at it more closely.

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Episode 242 - Orphan (2009)

Spaniard director Jaume Collet-Serra who directed this year's minor hit, The Shallows, actually came to notice with his 2009 horror film, Orphan. Made for a mere $20 million USD, the film went on to gross $78.3 million USD world wide making it quite successful. Scary children films have been around for years including the thriller from the 1950's The Bad Seed which seemed to really bring this subgenre of horror to the forefront. But Orphan had a new twist that gave it word-of-mouth that many films would love to have.

With the stillborn death of their third child, Kate and John Coleman's marriage seems to begin to unravel. Kate who's had to deal with behavioral health issues for much of her life seems to fall into a funk. But the couple decide that maybe adoption would be something to consider. Soon they adopt a nine year old Russian girl named Esther who seems to be everything they had always hoped for. But as the initial delight fades away, a creeping ennui begins to once more fall upon the family. And their happy life quickly turns into dread.

The film received fairly good reviews by critics and was championed by the late Roger Ebert. Written by David Leslie Johnson who's on tap for the upcoming Marvel/Disney Aquaman film, Orphan also starred Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and Isabelle Fuhrman in a star making role. Chosen by Eric for the Dark Discussions Facebook poll, listeners voted for Orphan to be discussed by your co-hosts. Listen to hear what each felt about this modern cult classic.

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Episode 221 - Dan Lench Focus: 2015's Circle (Redux)

Back in November of 2015, co-host Philip discovered a new video-on-demand science fiction film entitled Circle had been released. After recommending it to co-host Eric, the two convinced the crew to do an episode on this little film that had to say a lot.  It talks about society, social structure, and the human psyche in, if not an original way, a very unique way. A group of strangers find themselves locked away in a dark room with each standing on a orange-red circle upon the floor. Get off, you die. But more horrific, every two minutes you have to vote a person to die; if you don't, someone randomly dies a horrifying death. The film asks, what would you do?

With episode 209 of Dark Discussions released, actor Dan Lench, playing the oddly titled character Rich Man, heard the episode and not only gave feedback but twittered the link to the show to his followers. Soon, his agent, Lisa Berman, did the same. Dark Discussions reached out to Dan and asked him to appear on the show so we could not only learn about him, but for him to give us his comments about the film as well as give us more details on its production.

Things learned include behind-the-scenes facts such as how the soundstage was made, its location was in the same building as a Chinese laundry, an actor on the final day (having been on the Broadway stage production of the Lion King) sang a magical song, how parts were cast, and how Dan himself almost lost his role to the biggest star of the film! Get ready for a unique episode of the podcast and meet the great, funny, and talented Mr. Dan Lench.

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Episode 214 - 2016 Genre Review

Okay, a new year has arrived and now being mid-January, the first genre films have reached theaters and VOD. Films like Body, The Forest, and The Boy have had their January release. Yet going forward, more films are already on their way including some big budget flicks, independent cinema, as well as festival films that are now making it to wide release.

Do you like super heroes? Well some humongous films (both DC and Marvel) are coming. Zack Snyder's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil Wars, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, and Suicide Squad are only a handful. Sequels and reboots? How about Star Wars: Rogue One, The Conjuring 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, Godzilla: Resurgence, and Annabelle 2 to name a few. New festival circuit horror? Films like Vvitch, February, and the Devil's Candy are coming. And intense thrillers? They include Triple 9, The Green Room, and Jack Reacher 2.

As co-host Mike has said, many of the best films to come we may not even know yet. Independent flicks, low budget horror, and foreign films just appear on VOD or theaters and overwhelm everyone. What is the next Ex Machina, These Final Hours, or It Follows? Dark Discussions tries to figure out all this while giving their thoughts on what we know. Get a pen and paper ready and start writing down the titles we go through.

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Episode 213 - 2015 Year in Review

2015 is over and depending on your viewpoint with horror and genre films, it was a great year or a good year. It certainly wasn't a bad year. Films, with their variety, seemed to have something for everyone. We got disaster movies like San Andreas, post-apocalyptic films too, many being low budget like Z for Zachariah and These Final Hours, to big budget ones like Mad Max: Fury Road. Strong as always, the non-horror genre flicks such as science fiction, fantasy, and so forth were dominated by Hollywood while horror, as in recent years, has been more small budget and independent flicks, even with M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit.

Dark Discussions co-hosts saw numerous films with co-host Mike probably able to see the most. With seeing so many flicks, your co-hosts were able to compile their top 24 horror films of 2016 and their top 11 2016 other genre flicks (sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, mystery, exploitation, action). No matter what list we discuss, there were some obvious choices that appeared such as Star Wars, Mad Max, Jurassic World, It Follows, and The Martian. Some surprises too made the top of the lists including low profile flicks like Bone Tomahawk, Creep, Zombeavers, and Predestination. But some of the littlest of films roared to the top too, like Ex Machina or The Gift.

Other things discussed include a whole group of listener opinions, their top films, and what they thought of 2016. And your co-hosts also discuss some of the most prominent and successful scenes, characters, and stars from both the best and worst. What a year it was and with so many films to consider, listen up and see what the podcast has to say.

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