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Monday, March 2, 2015

The RIP Horror International Film Festival

RIPFebruary is known for being the Women in Horror Recognition Month, but according to L.J. Rivera, founder and director of the RIP Horror InternationalFilm Festival, the vital contribution of women to the genre must be celebrated all year round.

Starting this year, the RIP Horror International Film Festival has created the Best Female Filmmaker Award which will be granted to the work of an outstanding female director of horror films. This prestigious honor will be added to the already exciting lineup, including awards for Legend of Horror and Rising Star.

“I want to contribute to the empowerment of women working in the business for the advancement of the horror genre. Award winning female filmmakers like Maria Olsens, Adriana Polito, Patricia Chica, and Jessica Cameron are making the difference. We want to support the achievements of outstanding filmmakers like these who are creating some of the most exciting and innovative work in the genre, as well as promote undiscovered talent waiting to explode onto the scene,” says the festival founder L.J. Rivera.


Additionally, the festival will unveil the new darkly exquisite statuette called the "Bloody Doll Award." These dolls are the original hand-crafted creations of brilliant designer Deborah Blount of Deborahz Demented Dollz and will surely become a highly sought after collector’s item. 

The 3rd edition of the RIP Horror International Film Festival will be held on October 30th and 31st 2015 in Hollywood, CA. Just in time for Halloween!

RIP Horror International Film Festival is now accepting submissions. Horror filmmakers of all genders, ages, and level of experience are invited to submit via these three platforms:, and
The RIP Horror International Film Festival is the one event "Everyone is Dying to get in!”

The Pending Horrors Of Roger Conners: Part I

RCRecently I was scanning through my Instagram and came across an image that seemed to electrify me senses. Being slightly obsessed with horror this is something that happens often, just not on a level as the image of Roger Conners in character for his new film. The image practically jumped out of my Instagram feed. In character, Roger posed, showing off the long multicolored hair of royal, aqua, purple, with jet black roots. Wearing a sort of "Santa baby" holiday kit, a face beat for the gods, and eyebrows that would make Peaches Christ take notice, this was not Roger Conners. Standing iconic, off the edge of my feed, was the Lady Athena. I instinctively shot Roger a line to get the details of this character and of this latest project! A holiday slasher filming in Cleveland, OH, working title "Slay Bells"- music to my twisted ears!

I imagine most people now days that sees a film that has drag queens, gay themes or any aspect of LGBT culture roll their eyes, and murmur some sentiment usually reserved for when they hear of a new zombie flick hitting production, or comic book adaptation coming to a network near you! It does seem, at times, that there is an over-saturation of gayness in today's media, but growing up as a child of the 70's and 80's, for me it can never be too much. Because we, on the whole, as a community and subject have gone from " plague", clown, punching bag, and punch line, to being something of substance, an equal. Seen as strong and a asset in mainstream media, hell in society! So yeah, I get excited over gay characters, gay themes or any strong gay presence in a horror film! And, to see gay actors actually chosen to portray the characters on film is saying a lot about how far we have come as a society!

The point being, it is nice to see that films are being made that not only speak to me as a horror fan, but as a gay horror fan. More importantly films, when all is said and done, remain horror films and not gays films that have horror elements. Take my word for it, there is a difference. The latter usually only relates to the gay mindset, and the horror is often mild. Horror films that relate to gay horror fans are the ones that stay every bit as heavy and gritty as you want, they just happen to have an equal gay presence along side the traditional themes of horror. These are the sort of films that Roger Conners seeks out to be a part of, as an actor, writer, director and producer. I first became acquainted with him in 2013 while interviewing the then, 26 year old, for his roles in "Hellementary" which had just found a place in heavy rotation on Chiller, and "Chill: The Killing Game".

Since our last interview in 2013 Roger Conners has maintained a very busy schedule. Aside from the film that has me already giddy for the 2015 Holiday season, there is " Raw Focus", a film that blends sexploitation with survival horror, one that already has a lot of buzz surrounding its pending release. "Raw Focus" was recently voted the 2nd most anticipated horror film for the 2015 year by Horror Society readers. Then there is Conners' own film, a revision of Romero's classic "Night Of The Living Dead" which he wrote and directs. This is a slightly different story than the Romero tale, but having seen footage I can say that it keeps with the original premise without being a poor reproduction. Not to mention that "Chill:The Killing Game" has been picked up for worldwide distribution, which is where my interview begins with Roger Conners.

A SOUTHERN LIFE: You have been very busy with acting, writing and I believe producing. Are you enjoying staying so busy?
ROGER CONNERS: There's certainly always a level of joy to be had on these sets, no doubt about it. They are such a great distraction for me, especially when the rest of my life seems to be a bit out of control. The last year was a bit hectic so these recent projects really helped keep me on the right track and maintain my focus. I always appreciate that. Now, that's not to say there isn't an amplified level of stress that comes in tow! Anybody else who works in this business knows what I'm talking about, but it's all just part of the package. In the end I know it's all worth it. That's why I keep doing it.

A SOUTHERN LIFE:And doing it, you are! You are currently filming a holiday slasher, and you have Raw Focus, Chill, and Night Of The Living Dead: Rebirth in various stages of post production and on festival circuit, so you must be gearing up for promoting these projects as well?
ROGER CONNERS: Yeah, you know I've always loved the promotional aspect of these things. Outside of the film scene I actually work in marketing so I suppose it just comes naturally. I don't know, I'm just a schmoozer at heart I suppose. It's all about making yourself look good at what you do and knowing the right people and making the right contacts. I live for that shit.

Now, once these projects get out of my hands I don't have as much control over the promotional aspect. Chill was recently picked up for distribution and thus the title was changed to "Chill: The Killing Games". I had nothing to do with that, but I get it. It's all about making the movie sound more marketable. It was a smart move on behalf of the distributors, for sure. All I can do is stand in the background and cheer them on and cross my fingers that people will actually come out of the woodwork and see it!

And of course, an occasional interview now and then never hurts...

A SOUTHERN LIFE: I was getting ready to ask about Chill's status. When we last talked in 2013 the film was in limbo, so congrats on having it picked up! Does that make you more excited to see the horror fans reaction to the film, or more nervous?
ROGER CONNERS: A bit of both, I suppose. Thus far, people seem to really be enjoying the film. We've managed to maintain a 7.5 rating on IMDB since the first screening back in 2013. Since then, its been screened by countless fans and critics alike and we have yet to receive a truly negative review! Now, that's not to say that it will never happen. People are entitled to their opinions. I suppose I'm just shocked that we've managed to secure such a loyal fan-base. It makes me really proud. So yeah, I'm definitely eager to see what happens to the movie once it becomes available to the public. Will it become a cult classic or will viewers end up slamming it? I honestly have no idea. Like I said earlier in the interview, all I can do is sit back and cross my fingers. These things are out of my control.

RC ChillA SOUTHERN LIFE: Exactly! I know I enjoyed it and the mythos surrounding the game itself has franchise written all over it. Is the sequel still on? And as for Chill:The Killing Game, when will horror fans get to see the game begin?
ROGER CONNERS: The sequel is certainly being discussed and the idea is slowly evolving. The minds behind the project all agreed that they wouldn't pursue Chill 2 until distribution was secured. Well, now that's the case, but that doesn't ensure its going to necessarily be a huge hit! We want it to be so that's why the idea of Chill 2 has been developed, but I don't think cameras will start rolling until we know where the masses stand with the first one. I think that's a smart move since we are working on an indie level, but I'll admit that I would definitely love to play Kyle one (or two) more times!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Kyle is a very eclectic persona and holds his on in the film! How much of Kyle is you, and how much is pure fiction? To elaborate on that point, Kyle starts out appearing stereotypical but you soon realize that he is much more. He is confident, strong willed, and witty. When faced with a moment of vulnerability he immediately finds strength to to deal with it.
ROGER CONNERS: One of the great things about the development of "Chill" was the fact that the director Meredith Holland allowed us to have a lot of input on our characters as she created them and fleshed them out. I actually wanted to play Kyle in a way that wasn't your stereotypical "gay". He isn't "fabulous". He's not decked out in designer clothing. To make it simple, the kid just isn't confident. There are aspects of my personality that come through in the performance but I purposely wanted Kyle to register a bit more awkward. You'd never expect him to man-up and go into survival mode, yet by final act of the film that's exactly what happens. Kyle is not your typical hero and I kind of love that about him.

rfA SOUTHERN LIFE: Exactly he is how we all feel and he becomes what we all hope for ourselves. I related to his weaknesses, he expressed outwardly what a deal with internally so the development process with Kyle's character is inspiring. I hope the horror fans, especially the gay fans get that about the film!Now how does your character in Raw Focus differ from Kyle? You play Chatham in that film, right?
ROGER CONNERS: Chatham is the complete polar opposite of Kyle in almost every way possible. The guy is a former model/adult film actor who has spent the last decade or so cleaning up his act and creating a name for himself behind the camera, dabbling in makeup, hair, and fashion. He owns an upscale salon and spa and is renowned for his cutting edge looks. He's a big personality and a bit of a father-figure for some of the younger, up and coming models who aren't quite accustomed to how harsh the business can truly be. He's a lot of fun and a very big personality and I had a great time playing him!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: A vast difference! Raw Focus takes on the adult erotica industry with a modern twist. The description reads very exploitation meets road horror. What can we expect from Raw Focus?
ROGER CONNERS: Um, a lot violence, gore, and a shit ton of boobies! No, seriously, there's a lot of nudity. Myself included!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: So it is full on NC-17 sexploitation! I know that it was voted 2nd most anticipated film by Horror Society readers!
ROGER CONNERS: It was, which was super flattering! I attribute a lot of that to Benny Benzino who plays the films lead villain "Razorface"! Somehow, the guy has managed to turn his Facebook fan-page into our greatest form of promotion! He's garnered nearly 15,000 fans thus far and they're all chomping at the bit to see the movie. Pretty badass, you know?

rf_2A SOUTHERN LIFE: He is commanding and intimidating in all the right ways on screen. A great asset to any cast. Raw Focus sounds like a throw back to the video nasty days, erotic photo shoot set in the killing fields of psychopaths in the middle of nowhere. Classic nightmare situation. So tell me about Chatham's place in this terrifying scenario? Without giving away any spoilers, of course!
ROGER CONNERS: Chatham is in charge of the costuming and makeup for this specific photo-shoot which is being orchestrated by "world-renowned" erotic-photographer Salem, who is played by Pakob Jarernpone. Salem is preparing to release a book of his greatest works, and these photos are meant to be the main attraction. He's specifically selects a model from each major genre and brings them to this plot of land in the middle of nowhere. Of course it's in the middle of nowhere. How else are you going to start killing them off?

So to keep this simple and sweet, the crew comes face to face with a trio of bounty hunters who just so happen to use those woods to dispose of the bodies of their victims. Shit hits the fan and, of course, chaos ensues.

A SOUTHERN LIFE: It sounds like an epic survivalist nightmare! Sow when can we expect Raw Focus to be released?
ROGER CONNERS: It will be premiering late this spring in Cleveland. From there we will be pursuing distribution. With the amount of breasts in this one, I feel we will be successful in that area.

NOTLD RA SOUTHERN LIFE: Oh no doubt, plus the fan's buzz that has started over the film already, distribution should be quick! Now let's talk about the project that I know is close to your heart- Night Of The Living Dead:Rebirth! Why a remake of this film considering how many are in circulation what makes Rebirth stand out?
ROGER CONNERS: Ugh... I've been waiting for that question! Might as well get it over with!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Tell me about the character of Adam. Rebirth is slightly different in design and yet familiar enough that it presents as a tribute to the original.
ROGER CONNERS: So since the age of seven I have considered two films to be my all time favorites. The first is "The Wizard of Oz" and the second is the original "Night of the Living Dead". These two films are the reason I wanted to start acting to begin with. I can still remember the very first time I saw "Night of the Living Dead". It left such an impression on me and, to be real, sort of messed me up for a few years. I was so terrified of the film that I couldn't even look at the VHS cover without shaking.

I can honestly still remember the musky scent of my grandfathers old video cabinet and even that would make me uneasy. For months I had nightmares, yet for some reason I also maintained this strange fascination with the film. I would draw images from the movie on my placemats and recreate scenes with my action figures, yet I couldn't bring myself to watch it again because I was so terrified. Finally I got over the fear and was able to view it again, but that infatuation never faded away. The fear I experienced just developed into this strange appreciation I have for the film. I will always love it and have fantasized of being able to pay homage to it. Rebirth is merely my ultimate fan-film. It's genuinely a dream come true.

Keep your eyes peeled for part II of my interview with Roger Conners where we talk a bit more about “Night Of The Living Dead: Rebirth”, “Slay Bells”, and Conners ventures into directing as he discusses his directorial debut. Plus the music video for Centerfold by Cali Miles which is featured on the soundtrack for “Raw Focus”. To check out the projects that we discussed thus far in our two part interview hit the links below. Plus hit the link to keep up with Roger Conners future projects and current workings.

RAW FOCUS Facebook Page

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Review Of "Voices From The Grave"

Indie Directors Richard Stoudt and Laurence C. Holloway have teamed together for a new collection of nightmares that can be witnessed in the anthology series "Voices From The Grave". The stories include haunting tales of supernatural retribution, vengeful spirits and possession, framed by a familiar tale of wickedness in the form of bad luck and trickery. " Voices From The Grave" stars David Nelson, Michael Hanelin, Chris Labadie, Michelle Green, Scarlett O'Oneil,, Maryam Cne' and Bobby Shock.

"Voices From The Grave" begins with a horror fan seeking out obscure literature in a bookstore known to care lesser known horror. He finds a volume of short stories that gains his interested so he chooses a secluded location, and begins reading from the book. It isn't a new or clever framing device, but the setup work comfortably in setting the pace and tone of the anthology. It is familiar and timeless, plus the fact that it is literature and not a tape or disc gives a nice nod to reading which is something of a dying trend in our digitized world.

The first tale is titled "All Hallows' Eve", a not so subtle moral that focuses on poor judgment resulting in tragedy with a chilling, final retribution on Halloween. The story is a recognizable situation, a Halloween party with drinking that leads to an unfortunate death. There is a slice of " thy brother's keeper" sewn in to the tale that gets answered in a macabre, and sobering way. "All Hallows' Eve" is well written, the attitude stays dark and mournful. The ending of this story is as you would expect-actually you pretty much know how it is going to end from the beginning.

The cinematography is carefully thought out and done nicely. Visually "All Hallows' Eve" keeps with classic surrealism. The special effects are effective enough and create the needed ghoulishness. The soundtrack is the expected mix a spooky sounds and haunting, depressed instrumentals. It is all well coordinated production wise, but there is issues with sound quality during a lot of the dialog which often is drowned out by the surrounding noise. It is the only technical flaw in this short film. There is the issue of no real suspense or heightened drama in the piece, it is implied but never applied.

Next up is the Gary Brandner adaptation, titled "Invitation". It is a story of a lone traveler lured to a secluded location where he is surrounded by the misdeeds of a vengeful spirit of legend. It is also plagued by a sense of total awareness of the situation for the viewer. It too is well written, and carefully delivered. Unfortunately it lacks an air of motivation that justices the why- bless I totally missed that point. The cautionary element with the traveler belong lured to the social event didn't fit smoothly with the haunting element that ruled the piece, and I kept wanting answers to little aspects of the story involving certain character interactions.

The special effects in " Invitation" were actually creepy, spooky practical make-up effects and props that come off really nicely on camera. The whole atmosphere stayed in that classic ghost story state of mind which helped to make this one a little more entertaining than the previous short film. The soundtrack once again was a well crafted mix of instrumentals and sounds classic to these kinds of tales. Sadly though the story never becomes intense or suspenseful enough to really scare, and that nagging point of "what was the pay off for all of this happening?" just ate at me.

The third and final story titled "Re-Possessed" in the anthology is my favorite, having the most complexity, creativity, wicked humor that comes at the end of ghost stories. Plus it deals with possession, a car and a devious plot. Again, well written, clever, thought out, and entertaining. The surreal nightmare like state that begins this anthology in the first story comes back into play. The macabre is heavier and more effective and the drama actually gets elevated as the events play out.

Special effects are simple make-up artistry and camera tricks that work favorably to create a sense of the supernatural. The cinematography is creative, and nicely done just as it is throughout the film. The soundtrack is just as you would expect, just as it is in all these short films. Yeah the instrumentals and spooky sounds may not be original but the create the right emotion and atmosphere to carry the story to the end. The scariness isn't here but the energy and emotionalism of "Re-Possessed" are present enough to make feel what the doomed character feels, and the end is cool one.

Overall, "Voices From The Grave" is a simple, well directed horror anthology inspired by the supernatural. The acting is a mix of above par and low budget depending on the piece and the actor. Even then the acting isn't consistently bad based on any one actor's performance. The characters are believable, some are more developed than others but for a lower budgeted film the level of talent from the parties involved is considerable. The only two things that really plague "Voices From The Grave" are the lack of real suspenseful/chills, and the quality control issues with sound during dialog scenes. I viewed a simple screener, the sound issues may not be present on the actual DVD so that can't really be seen as a reason not to check out this anthology.

First Teaser And Official Poster For “New Blood Awakening”

NBACheck out the first teaser and the official teaser artwork for upcoming vampire flick “New Blood Awakening”. The film is directed by Chad Zuver and is the sequel to “New Blood Rising”. You can read my review of the that film here: My Review Of “New Blood Rising”.Not sure on the specifics of the plot for “New Blood Awakening” at this time but I will post more details as they come out for this indie saga.

Check Out The Teaser Trailer For “Save Yourself”

SYA teaser trailer has gone online for upcoming survival horror “Save Yourself”. The film is directed by Ryan M. Andrews and stars Horror’s new tour de force Jessica Cameron, as well as Sydney Kondruss, Bobbie Phillips, Tristan Risk. “Save Yourself” is a film catching a lot of attention, winning awards and on most fan’s radar as a must see horror.

“Save Yourself” tells the story of five female filmmakers en route to their big L.A. premiere. But when one of them goes missing at a rest stop, the women soon find themselves pitted against a deranged scientist hell-bent on using them for his mysterious research.

Official Trailer Released For Upcoming Horror “The Barn”

The-Barn-PosterThe official trailer has been released for slasher-esqu, supernatural showdown horror “The Barn”. The film is directed by Justin M. Seaman and stars Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling, Nickolaus Joshua, David Hampton, Richard Billock, James Weldon, Maggi Mizell, Robert Mizell, Hunter Amos, Ryan Nogy. “The Barn” is set to release at the beginning of the Holiday season on October 1st, 2015. Now that is a real Halloween treat!

It’s Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within "The Barn".

The Barn Official Trailer from Nevermore Production Films on Vimeo.

New Art Poster For “It Follows” Released

A new poster featuring detailed sketch style artistry has been released for upcoming horror ‘It Follows”. The film will be released on March 13th, 2015. “It Follows” stars Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist,Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe, and is directed by David Robert Mitchell.

For 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe, AT ANY PRICE), the fall should be about school, boys, and weekends at the lake. Yet, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she suddenly finds herself plagued by nightmarish visions; she can’t shake the sensation that someone, or something, is following her. As the threat closes in, Jay and her friends must somehow escape the horrors that are only a few steps behind.



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