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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.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 241 - Clown (2016)

How to get a feature film made? Well, one way is to get noticed. And you can do that by making a short film or even a trailer. Well, the folks that made the film Mama caught the attention of Guillermo Del Toro with their short film. Now, the folks that did the new film Clown made a fake trailer stating their fictional film was produced by Eli Roth. Eli saw it, loved it, and thought they had guts to use his name. He got in contact with them and, sure enough, produced the film.

Kent, a real estate agent, and Meg McCoy hire a clown for their son's birthday party, but because of a double booking, he cancelled. In a tight squeeze, Kent, while cleaning out at an estate sale, finds a clown costume and delights his family when he shows up for the birthday. But by bedtime, he isn't able to pull off the red nose, the colorful hair, and the costume itself. After a trip to the ER, he gets a hold of Herbert Karlsson, the brother of the original owner of the suit, who immediately wants to help.

The film stars Andy Powers and Laura Allen, along with Peter Stormare (as Herbert Karlsson). Director Jon Watts, who also directed the well received Kevin Bacon film, Cop Car, made his feature film debut with his co-screenwriter Christopher D. Ford on Clown. After being shelved for a couple of years along with Eli Roth's film Green Inferno, Clown now sees the light of day. Dark Discussions takes a look and gives their take.

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Episode 240 - The Shallows (2016)

One of the most popular subgenres of horror has been the shark movie. Back when Peter Benchley's book Jaws became a best seller and one of the most popular films of the 1970's, film producers have been trying to make great shark films ever since. Besides the sequels to Jaws, other notable films (and some very recent) such as Open Water and The Reef were top notch. In addition, the new film The Shallows seems to be making both critics and audiences happy once more.

When 25 year old Nancy wants to go on vacation, she makes it a personal trip. She heads to Mexico to see the hidden exotic beach that her mother had loved as a young woman. Well, being a surfer, this little paradise is perfect for her to hit the waves and let all her serotonin boost pleasure in her life. But when a corpse of a whale drifts into the little bay, following right behind may be one of the most dangerous predators in nature.

The Shallows boosts some impressive names behind it. First, the director, Jaume Collet-Serra, has done some splendid work with Orphan, Non-Stop, and Unknown. The screenwriter, Anthony Jaswinski, has written some genre scripts like Kristy and Satanic. But the casting of the beautiful Blake Lively, specifically a fan favorite to women, seemed brilliant when considering the box office and making this a date night film. Dark Discussions reviews and critiques this new horror film.

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Episode 239 - The Hallows (2015)

More Irish horror. Director Corin Hardy gave us a film called The Hallow, a monster movie based in Northern European myth. Released in 2015 and generally well received by most, the film plays on the old Arthur Machen trope of that the real myths of fairies and cute trolls are actually the sanitized tales of hidden monsters that live among us only to appear every so often when they either feel threatened or follow their true nature to cause evil through the human world.

When the Irish financial crisis hits the nation, forests and wood turn out to be a big boom to help pay off foreign debt. Adam and Clare Hitchensen with their newborn head off to Ireland where Adam is to work within the forests to determine value of the wood. When a local comes about with what appear to be crazy rants about monsters in the forest, he is promptly ignored and considered a threat. Soon however, strange things begin to happen and Clare begins to wonder if her husband's new job is actually part of the happenings.

The Hallow stars a number of genre favorites. Included in the cast is Joseph Mawle and Michael McElhatton from Game of Thrones and Bojana Novakovic of the film Devil. Listed by some as one of the best films of last year, the film also has been considered nothing more than forgettable. With its winks to other more famous genre films, Dark Discussions takes a look at this interesting film and gives their opinion.

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Episode 238 - James Wan Focus: 2016's The Conjuring 2

The Warrens are back. The real life ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren, probably most well known for the Amityville haunting case, were the focus of the film The Conjuring and their investigation of the 1971 Roger and Carolyn Perron haunting in Rhode Island. Now the movie, The Conjuring 2, is the focus of their investigation of the well publicized 1977 haunting of the Brimsdown, Enfield council house in London, England.

A single mum, Peggy Hodgson, and her four children seem to live a normal working class life. Soon however odd things begin to happen including such innocuous but bizarre acts as electronics turning on or off by themselves. But when a presence makes its appearance and in many ways seeming to be malicious, paranormal investigators are called in, including the Warrens.

With the success of the first film, Hollywood greenlighted the follow up film that brought back acclaimed genre director James Wan, screenwriters of the original, Chad and Carey Hayes, and newly hot screenwriter David Leslie Johnson to co-write the script. The film received splendid reviews by both reviewers and audiences equally and immediately went on to make all its money back and more. Dark Discussions is back to discuss this highly successful film with professional ghost hunter and Warren expert, Nate Schoonover, joining to critique and review.

Learn more about The Conjuring that co-host Kristi put together. Resources for The Conjuring 2 (2016-06-23)

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Episode 237 - Frank Henenlotter Focus: 1990's Frankenhooker

Already famous for such films as the Basket Case franchise and Brain Damaged, Frank Henenlotter pieced together a low budget horror comedy based on the Mary Shelley Frankenstein story and its many movie adaptations entitled Frankenhooker. Take the old gothic trope, mix it into a midnight movie, and set it in New York City, one of the hotbeds for midnight movies, and you get another cult classic that is still celebrated twenty-six years later.

When Elizabeth Shelley dies a tragic death at her father's birthday party, her fiancé, Jeffrey Franken, decides to use his medical and electrical engineering background to bring her back to life. However, where can he find the cadaver to transplant his loved one's head upon? That may not be all that easy but he does come up with an idea. Where else can a lonely man find women who are willing to go with them for nothing more than some money? 42nd Street, Manhattan, the 1990's red light district where streetwalkers were once plentiful.

Starring New Jersey native Patty Mullen, who had been both Penthouse Pet of the Month (August 1986) and Penthouse Pet of the Year (1988), and New Jersey actor Jeffrey Lorenz, the two immediately became recognizable favorites of horror fans everywhere. Co-hosts Mike and Phil were podcast guests at Springfield, MA horror convention, Scare-A-Con, where they were able to meet both Patty and Jeffrey and record their on location review and critique of one of genre fans most beloved films.

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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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