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Episode 133 - Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap

It's now one of the most highly anticipated shows on television. HBO's series, Game of Thrones, based off the book series, The Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin, has become a smash hit. Its an odd take of a fantasy world where magic, monsters, and myth are nothing more than a backdrop to various families fighting for power to become the ruler of the seven kingdoms. With a large budget and fantastic acting from mostly a group of unknowns and character actors, the series is now about to enter its fourth season starting in April, 2014.

Season 3 follows the ensemble cast on their many different and divergent journeys. King Stannis has returned to Dragonstone after his defeat at Blackwater. Can he regroup in time to hold onto power? Daenerys has headed to the slave islands looking for an army that she can use to head back to Westeros. Theon Greyjoy was last seen being taken away as a prisoner. The Lannisters and Tyrells have an unsteady alliance. The "King of the North", Rob Stark, tries to regroup after his own army dwindles. Other characters like Samwell Tarly come to the forefront and begin to play an important role in the series.

Dark Discussions talks about all these things. Ponderings include the army of the unsullied, the brotherhood without banners, the red wedding, obsidian and the white walkers, Melisandre and the red god, the revolt of the black watch, the political intrigue of the Tyrells, and John Snow's allegiance. Though this is volume 2 of our Game of Throne's retrospective, the talk focuses mostly on Season 3.

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Episode 132 - Big Bad Wolves (2014)

Back in 2010, a little known foreign film appeared entitled in its native language Kalevet brought some notoriety to the director/writer combo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. At first it was thought that maybe some of the interest was that it was the first "horror" film from Israel. But the film known as Rabies in English and released wide to the world in 2012 actually was a quirky and well made neo-grindhouse horror film that had a lot to say (see our own discussion on the film in episode 116 of Dark Discussions).

In 2013, when their follow up Big Bad Wolves hit the festival circuits, director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino stated he thought it was the best film of the year. Whether that's an overstatement, or whether it was the fact some say it was a homage to his own films, Big Bad Wolves most certainly is a dark and some ways comic thriller that immediately landed on everyone's radar. When a school teacher is suspected to be a serial murderer of children, a group of individuals including a police man as well as the father of a murder victim, decide to take justice in their own hands.

The film seems to be both a standard thriller and even a disciple of the Tarantino films, yet in all honesty it has some interesting topics to say about people and policy that the creators of the film are not too shy to present. Dark Discussions discusses the film, some of the topics it brings up, as well as some quirky and less obvious things the movie has to say including mobile phone ring tones and little dog people. Get ready for a discussion that leaves co-host Eric a bit frazzled as controversy over substance makes him flabbergasted.

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Episode 131 - Hannibal TV Series

Hannibal Lecter. He has become one of the most iconic horror "monsters" in film history. Whether he is in the same vain as Dracula and Frankenstein or Freddy and Jason, he is consistently listed in the top ten scariest monsters or villains of all time. Thomas Harris, though a non-prolific author, has placed himself as one of the greats for the creation of both Hannibal and his supporting cast in the novels. After Academy Awards and critical and audience acclaim, Hannibal reappears once more on television in the series simply entitled Hannibal.

At first, people were not quite sure what to think. Was it a cash in on the character and the works of Thomas Harris and the movies based off his books? To be truthful, yes, the show has a very recognizable villain and a fanbase already built in. But Bryan Fuller, the showrunner for such quirky series as Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me, has hit a home run with this new project. Though low in audience numbers, the series has received positive reviews and been slowly gaining a cult following.

Your co-hosts discuss the first season of the show now that Season Two has just begun to air. Abe and Mike lead the way. Abe discusses the source material while Mike dissects the show and some of the interesting "second viewing" plot lines and Easter eggs. Joining the guys is author M.J. Preston as the layman for the episode. Concluding, Hannibal is definitely one show that everyone who loves genre television should see. Co-host Phil even goes as far to say it is the best genre show only behind Game of Thrones.

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Episode 130 - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We recorded this episode in November of 2013 but decided to release it when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released for home viewing and therefore to everybody. That occurred in the USA on March 7, 2014 and March 17th in the UK. One of the top grossing films last year and also one of the most successful franchises ever, The Hunger Games movies are now hand in hand with the books as iconic for their generation. Catching Fire, the second film in the series, not only received critical acclaim but in many circles was more highly regarded than the first film.

The story is somewhat about a dystopian future where yearly a contest is given in which a male and a female from each district of the nation are picked by lottery and sent off to battle against the other representatives from the twelve districts. While the first book and film focused on this brutal and unjust competition, the second focuses on an unseen Machiavellian plot to strengthen the government's control against its slowly decaying power.

Your co-hosts discuss the film, some of the high-minded themes, and its comparison to the prior film and the book series it is based on. Also discussed is the tragic passing of Paul Walker back in November and a discussion on some genre films and television shows that have recently been in the news.

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Episode 129 - Robocop (Then and Now)

How do you get the attention of people? Well, Paul Verhoeven, the famous Dutch director, is one who most certainly knows how to. With his films Total Recall and Starship Troopers and their over the top craziness, he seemed to invent some sort of undefined subgenre of speculative films. But it was with Robocop, his 1987 science fiction gorefest that actually seems to get the most respect. Maybe its because its filmed from an original script unlike the others, but either way, it has garnered not only cult status but also artistic respect as one of the most important and classic science fiction films ever. Criterion has even donned it with its own special disc release.

Now, twenty-seven years later, the remake/re-imaging of the film has been released as a major motion picture. With a huge budget and a cast of some of Hollywood's most prominent character actors, the film received mixed reviews and yet may have been hurt by the positive legacy of its namesake. Or maybe it got the backlash that reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings have been receiving recently.

No matter, Dark Discussions has decided to reflect on the original film and its 2014 remake. The discussion includes what the film means to your hosts, why it has broken out of cult status and has its own legacy, and also we discuss some trivia and reflections that are poignant with the release of this new expensive rendition of a genre fan favorite.

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Episode 128 - Absentia (2012)

It cost $70,000. That's a lot of money. You can put it in perspective knowing that the cost of a 2014 Lotus Evora is that much. But for a film, that's not all that much. With blockbusters costing one hundred million or in many cases two hundred million, $70,000 is a drop in the bucket. But when you consider independent cinema, money doesn't grow on trees. Director/writer Mike Flanagan along with his producers were able to at least come up with a budget that was, well, the same price as a brand new Lotus Evora. And the film that was made was 2011/2012's Absentia. And what a film it is!

A slow, dark, brooding film, Absentia is the story of two sisters, both a bit lost in life, coming together after the younger free spirited woman returns from a self-gratifying jaunt just like the son in the Biblical parable, the Prodigal Son. Prior, the older sister's husband had disappeared and after many years he is scheduled to be listed as "dead in absentia". Slowly but effectively, a local mystery begins to unravel that will remind speculative fiction readers of an Arthur Machen tale. The unease of the ensuing circumstances may put both sisters in danger.

Part character study, part horror film, Absentia is one of those movies that will delight both literary dramas fans and the Halloween crowd. Dark Discussions talks about the film, their interpretation of the happenings, and the future for director/writer Mike Flanagan which includes the upcoming horror film Oculus to be released later in 2014.

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Episode 127 - Dennis Iliadis Focus: 2014's Plus One (+1)

A remake of the Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left? Is that even possible in this day and age? Well, it sure was with director Dennis Iliadis helming the film in 2009. Surprisingly to many, the film was a roaring success and updated a notorious grindhouse film into a modern day edge-of-your-seat thriller that Stephen King named as the second best film of 2009 and one of the best horror films since 2000.

Now 2014, Dennis Iliadis' new film, Plus One, has reached general audiences after a successful run on the festival circuit. A group of college coeds head to the summer party of the century back in their home town. While our protagonists drink, flirt, and have the time of their lives, a small meteor lands nearby that causes what appears to be a break in the space-time continuum causing everyone to be duplicated. What should have turned out to be a night of pleasure instead turns into an evening of horror, reflection, and existential affirmation of themselves.

Your co-hosts discuss one of the most interesting films to arrive in some time. With so many different meanings which the film could have, the discussion itself gets very existential. Either way, give the movie a viewing and determine what you think the film means. But until then, Dark Discussions gives their two cents and tries their very best to deconstruct one complex tale.

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Episode 126 - Contracted (2013)

All that promise that we thought 2013 was going to bring. Evil Dead, Carrie, Pacific Rim, Insidious 2, The Host, you name it, there were a lot of highly anticipated films coming. And that's just from the Hollywood machine. Dark Discussions does a review of the year and discusses their opinions on what we saw, both good and bad. Then we give you your co-hosts picks for the best horror films and the best genre films from the last twelve months.

When all is said and done, the podcast episode lists their definitive and calculated top ten horror and genre films of the past year. The definitive Dark Discussions top ten. Surprises? Depends on your opinion. Co-host Eric pretty much had the pulse of the audience while the others co-hosts were more eclectic, but either way, the list is what they think is the best of the year. The top ten includes two foreign language films, a handful of zombie films, as well as thrillers, ghosts, and serial killers.

Also discussed is television, it was a big year for genre tv, maybe even more so than motion pictures. Hannibal, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Dr. Who, Bates Motel, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, True Blood, it seems to go on and on. Also our personal favorite performances and all the honorable mentions you could think of. Get a pen ready and start writing down all these films, 78 specific films are mentioned! You may need to catch up on some that you missed. And with your co-hosts diverse tastes, there is something for everyone.

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Episode 125 - 2013 Best Of and Review

All that promise that we thought 2013 was going to bring. Evil Dead, Carrie, Pacific Rim, Insidious 2, The Host, you name it, there were a lot of highly anticipated films coming. And that's just from the Hollywood machine. Dark Discussions does a review of the year and discusses their opinions on what we saw, both good and bad. Then we give you your co-hosts picks for the best horror films and the best genre films from the last twelve months.

When all is said and done, the podcast episode lists their definitive and calculated top ten horror and genre films of the past year. The definitive Dark Discussions top ten. Surprises? Depends on your opinion. Co-host Eric pretty much had the pulse of the audience while the others co-hosts were more eclectic, but either way, the list is what they think is the best of the year. The top ten includes two foreign language films, a handful of zombie films, as well as thrillers, ghosts, and serial killers.

Also discussed is television, it was a big year for genre tv, maybe even more so than motion pictures. Hannibal, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Dr. Who, Bates Motel, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, True Blood, it seems to go on and on. Also our personal favorite performances and all the honorable mentions you could think of. Get a pen ready and start writing down all these films, 78 specific films are mentioned! You may need to catch up on some that you missed. And with your co-hosts diverse tastes, there is something for everyone.

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