This holiday season is different from all others. Thanks to COVID, we won’t be having large family get togethers, and more and more people will be alone, forced to entertain themselves. The best possible gifts to kill time are movies. You can turn off the lights, pop some microwave popcorn, and curl up on the couch, safe inside from the raging global pandemic. While 2020 has been a raging sh*t show for most of us, plenty of spectacular movies were released in spectacular Blu-Ray and 4K special editions or box sets. Here are a few suggestions for the movie lover in your family or friend circle.
Check out the 2020 Holiday Geek Gift Guide: Blu-ray & DVD Edition.
Marcel Walz is a German-born, LA-living, horror director who embraces the slatterific past of the genre. In recent years he paid tribute to the Godfather of Gore by remaking Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast (2016), and has been able to work with genre icons Felissa Rose, Caroline Williams, and Robert Rusler. You can see Williams back in Walz’s new stylish slasher/romance Blind, available now on VOD. Blind was directed by Walz, written by Joel Knetter, and stars Sarah French as Faye Dayne, a successful actress forced into retirement due to a botched eye surgery which left her visually impaired. If having to deal with the loss of her career and new life with a disability, Faye also must deal with Pretty Boy, a masked psycho killer with a penchant for polls, eye torture, and Christmas lighting. I got a chance to speak with Marcel Walz on a break from shooting his latest project to discuss the film and his career.
Full interview below:
Geeks of Doom: I saw Blind a few days ago and man, this was a beautiful film. That may seem like a strange thing to say about a slasher movie, but there are some gorgeous shots and you used lighting so well. I went through a big giallo phase last year and this felt like a modern day giallo. Can you discuss some of your inspirations for the film?
Marcel Walz: Thank you very much. That was actually one of our goals. It’s not really a straight horror movie, it’s more of a horror/drama and with all the colors and styles we have in there, it is very giallo. That was definitely a goal from the beginning.
Geeks of Doom: In terms of giallo, do you have a specific filmmaker you look to, whether it is Argento, Bava, Fulci, etc.?
Marcel Walz: Not really; I am a huge fan of Fulci and Argento. Zombi is one of my favorite old Italian horror films. I am a huge fan because of the European touch the films have in them and it’s something we tried to do as well with Blind.
Geeks of Doom: You mentioned European influence, you are originally from Germany?
Marcel Walz: Yes, born in Germany. I moved to the U.S. three years ago and Blind was my first movie here. It’s very special to me and to the whole cast and crew as well. It was a very tense shoot with a lot of emotions.
Geeks of Doom: I love foreign horror, and European horror is fantastic. Can you speak to some of the differences you see between European and American horror?
Marcel Walz: Oh Jesus that answer is huge. As a filmmaker it’s hard to make a horror film in Germany because the big companies and the producers don’t believe too much in horror enough to give you a good budget. It’s super hard in Germany. We have a huge fanbase for horror, but it’s not a mainstream audience. There’s such a huge audience, but they don’t understand that. In the U.S. the market is huge and even the lowest budget movies get more of a budget than they would in Germany. That’s why I like it here in the U.S. It is easier for me to find a horror groove in the U.S. than in Germany.
Geeks of Doom: I tend to notice European horror films are more graphic and get away with a lot more. Do you think that’s the case?
Marcel Walz: We have ratings in Germany too. It’s weird because we’re fine with nudity in Europe, but with gore those scenes get cut drastically. A good example is Blood Feast. No problem with the nudity, that was fine. But when it came to the gore scenes, we lost about 6 or 7 minutes of the ending. They hate that part.
Geeks of Doom: I want to talk to you about Blind. I really enjoyed the film. You said the cast and crew put a lot into this movie. I LOVED the opening credits being in braille. This film was very respectful to people with disabilities whether it be the visually impaired or deaf mutes. Was that a goal while making it?
Marcel Walz: Yeah from the beginning we started talking about how we have to treat those people with respect. I have a lot of people in my family with disabilities, so we wanted to show the audience what life was like for them. We wanted to show Faye’s daily life and what she’s going through. Sarah, Caroline (Williams), spent two days with a Blind man, who’s actually in the film in the Blind group. It was important to us to not portray them stupidly. We wanted to do it right, to give those people a platform.
Geeks of Doom: You can tell, it was very well done. You mentioned Caroline Williams. Between Blind, Blood Feast, and Rootwood you have worked with some impressive horror icons. Caroline Williams goes back to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) was in Rootwood (2018), Robert Russler (ANOES 2) in Blood Feast. What’s it like working with these genre icons?
Marcel Walz: Here’s the thing, I grew up with all those movies, Sleepaway Camp, ANOES 2, Texas Chainsaw 2, I love them. The kid in me was really excited, but then you have to be professional and say “hello.” It’s really hard, but I don’t want to geek out or anything you know. Sometimes you have those moments when you realize “that’s Robert Russler eating people in your movie” and that’s great. It was super fun shooting with Felissa, she is such a great person and I love to work with her. She was great in Rootwood and the movie we finished two days ago, Robert Russler is in as well and he is such a professional person. It so great to look at the monitor and see him creating that character that Joel Knetter wrote and bringing him to life, it’s just so amazing.
Geeks of Doom: It’s obvious you have a great rapport with these actors because they keep coming back to work with you.
Marcel Walz: It’s a big honor for me.
Geeks of Doom: I wrote down a few shots from Blind that I loved. The shot of Caroline in the hallway that’s lit by Christmas lights. The killer also is really great, the character of Pretty Boy. His mask is so subtle, it sometimes looks human and that’s very unsettling. Can you talk about your killer?
Marcel Walz: Well, I’m glad you thought that because that was one of our goals. I know he’s the killer and he murders people in the movie and he is the “bad guy,” but in some scenes you feel for him and that’s great because he is still human. The mask was super creepy for me and in some scenes you just see the eyes which are so white and blue. I think that’s why it sometimes looks like a real human face. That was our goal. We got to work with Ken Hall and he built the mask and he also created the Strangers masks. The first idea was the mask without the eyes. I like it, but I told him I thought it would be creepier with the eyes and put in these blue eyes and I was like “yep, that’s it.”
Geeks of Doom: It totally worked and some of the shots were great. Especially given that your protagonist Faye (Sarah French) is blind in the film, he can get so close to her, it’s just really creepy.
I want to talk about a licensing deal you got made for a line of Blind products. Coincidentally I have known the two women you made the deal with for a long time. Ghost Girl Greetings run by Toni Gabriele and Laurie Necco. Can you talk about this deal and what type of merchandise they’ll be making for the film?
Marcel Walz: We got in touch with them through Joel Knetter, our writer who met them at some horror conventions. I saw all the stuff they made, the Halloween III stuff and it looked so great and I loved the paintings and everything. I mean to have Pretty Boy gift wrapping paper, I mean c’mon. They are doing the wrapping paper, stickers, coffee mugs, it’s just perfect. I love the pinks and blues they used, it’s beautiful.
Geeks of Doom: Full disclosure, I am sipping coffee out of my Ghost Girls Greetings Silver Shamrock Halloween III coffee mug right now. They do great work and I’m sure it’ll be a great promotion for the film.
I noticed on your IMDb you’ve been credited as a director, writer, cinematographer, as well as many other jobs on a film set. You’re kind of a Jack of All Trades. What is your favorite part of filmmaking?
Marcel Walz: That’s not an easy question because I love everything on a set. For me aside from directing, I love to do the set decoration. That’s a thing I really love to do. The last movie we shot we got a chance to shoot in a studio here in Burbank, and we created our own sets there, weird basements, we shot the sequel to Blind…
Geeks of Doom: Well, ok, breaking news.
Marcel Walz: Haha, yeah, we shot the sequel and we built this whole basement for Pretty Boy and some rooms for him. The second film is going crazy, because we’re going into full slasher direction. It’s a continuation from the same night like Halloween 1 and 2 so you see what’s happening after that crazy cliffhanger of the first one. So if it’s not directing that is my favorite part, it’s creating sets and costumes and that stuff.
Geeks of Doom: Well, my next question was going to be “What’s next for you?” but you kinda answered that. Obviously there will be a Blind Part 2, which is great because I did like the ending but it is abrupt and a cliffhanger. Anything else in the pipeline?
Marcel Walz: We finished Blind 2 which will be called Pretty Boy, and we have something we are planning to shoot in June or July of 2021. We will see. I shipped everything to Germany to my editor so we’ll see.
Geeks of Doom: And Robert Russler is in Pretty Boy?
Marcel Walz: Yes, Robert Russler is in this and I cannot wait to work with Felissa Rose again as well. We’ll see what happens next year.
Geeks of Doom: I can’t even imagine what it’s like working in the film industry during COVID. It has to be crazy.
Marcel Walz: It was but it was actually a good experience because we treated everyone right and we all got tested. We had individual bags so no one had to touch anything, we handled it very well, everyone was wearing masks on set. It definitely was weird, but we managed it and no one got sick so that’s a win already.
Geeks of Doom: Last thing I wanted to add: We mentioned the genre icons you’ve worked with. There was a deep cut genre star in Blind, the Greasy Strangler himself Michael St. Michaels. I am one of those who saw that and when I saw him I freaking died. Just wanted to say Thank You for that.
Marcel Walz: Haha, yeah not everyone caught that. We went to the theater for the premiere and I guess not too many people saw The Greasy Strangler because there was a laugh, but not a roar we expected. After it was released I got a lot of messages from people who noticed him in there now.
Geeks of Doom: Thank you so much for giving us so much time, best of luck.
Marcel Walz: Thank you for having me.
Blind is a gorgeously shot horror drama and is available on DVD and to rent or buy on VOD on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Xbox, Vudu, Fandango Now, Direct TV, Dish Network, Comcast/Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, Verizon Fios, and through local cable providers via Uncork’d Entertainment. Blood Feast and Rootwood, also by Marcel Walz, are both streaming free on Prime. The officially licensed Blind collection from Ghost Girl Greetings is available here.
A Creepshow Animated Special
Written by Greg Nicotero & Melanie Dale
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Joey King
Release date: Thursday, October 29, 2020
Creepshow is back on Shudder… at least for one special episode in honor of Halloween month. Creepshow Season 2 is currently in production for a 2021 debut and major cast additions were announced with the likes of horror veterans Marilyn Manson, Ali Larter, Barbara Crampton, Ted Raimi, Ryan Kwanten, and more. A Creepshow Animated Special went up on horror’s premiere streaming service Shudder last night at midnight and is available now. The 45-minute episode boasted an impressive Creepshow pedigree. Both stories were directed by series EP and horror makeup effects legend Greg Nicotero, who worked on the original film, and the stories come from Stephen King and his son, author Joe Hill.
John Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Graveyard Moon Paperback Graphic Novel
Written by Steve Niles
Pencils by Stephen B. Scott
Inks by Rodney Ramos
Colors by Lovern Kindzierski
Lettering by Janice Chiang
Edited by Sandy King
Publisher: Storm King Comics
Release date: September 22, 2020
Storm King Comics is the brainchild of producer extraordinaire Sandy King and horror master John Carpenter. Carpenter co-wrote the flagship first comic Asylum, and the duo have contributed to the annual Tales For a HalloweeNight anthologies. In recent years, Storm King has branched out of this world with John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction, a multi-issue anthology series. Always innovating, John Carpenter’s Night Terrors is a new line of graphic novels and the first in the line is Graveyard Moon, written by 30 Days of Night co-creator Steve Niles and featuring a dream team of artists and Storm King alum.
1BR Written & Directed by David Marmor
Starring Nicole Brydon Bloom, Taylor Nichols, Giles Matheny, Naomi Grossman, Clayton Hoff, Curtis Webster, Alan Blumenfeld
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Release date: April 24, 2020
Streaming on Netflix
Cults are scary. Unlike demons, vampires, monsters, etc., cults are both 100% real and 100% human. In the last few years evidence about the recruiting tactics behind the Church of Scientology and NXIVM have been detailed in docu-series and tell-all books. Los Angeles has its own storied history of cult behavior, most infamously The Manson Family. David Marmor’s new film 1BR captures the unsettling reality of modern cult behavior and gets to the core of things that terrify any and everyone who lives in a big city or an apartment complex. Who are your neighbors really? Who can you truly trust in your building? Who is really watching you from the security cameras? Add in some mesmerizing performances and you are left with one of the most tense psychological horror films of the year.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and quarantine has the potential to suffocate those who crave conversation and discussion, especially about pop culture and movies. Ex-New Yorker and current Texan Peter Marsh felt that strain and used his time off to create his own YouTube channel, AnchorPete, in which he does movie and book reviews and interviews with genre authors. Through a mutual friend, he contacted Chris D’Onofrio and me to do a horror podcast focusing on our favorite director, Mike Flanagan. After two successful shows on his channel, the three of us have created The Lasser Cast, a new channel and horror review video podcast now on YouTube.
Directed by Zach Gayne
Written by Precious Chong, Alex Essoe, Zach Gayne
Starring Alex Essoe, Precious Chong, Kris Siddiqi
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Rating: 16+ | Run Time: 1h 16min
Release date: July 7, 2020 (Drive-In/DVD); July 7, 2020 (Digital/On Demand)
From Uncork’d Entertainment and Dark Star Pictures, Homewrecker is a surprising little movie. Imagine Single White Female meets Fatal Attraction by way of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but done almost as a minimalist stage play. And while the set was a bit conventional, it quickly spirals out of control in the best possible ways. The fact that the two leads co-wrote and co-produced the movie alongside director Zach Gayne shows how intimate this project was.
The Dinner Party DVD | Digital
Directed by Miles Doleac
Written by Miles Doleac & Michael Donovan Horn
Starring Bill Sage, Lindsay Anne Williams, Jeremy London, Mike Mayhall, Alli Hart, Sawandhi Wilson, Ritchie Montgomery
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Not Rated | Run Time: 115 minutes
Release date: June 9, 2020 (Digital/On Demand/DVD)
Plenty of horror movies in recent memory have used the “dinner party” as a plot device to mixed results, and Miles Doleac’s The Dinner Party does bear some resemblance to contemporary horror films like The Invitation and Would You Rather, but that’s only in the set up. After that the film follows with a beautifully shot, super gory, cannibal cult movie with a highly intellectual script, great soundtrack, and slick sense of humor.
Jeff (Mike Mayhall) and his wife Haley (Alli Hart) arrive at a beautiful mansion for the titular event, Jeff hoping to get his latest play produced by their wealthy hosts. Jeff wants things to go perfectly and that means Haley better behave. It’s clear from the onset Jeff is psychologically abusive, and we learn through a series of flashbacks that Haley has a very dark and troublesome past. They are greeted at the door by the obnoxiously playful Sebastian (Sawandhi Wilson) and we soon meet the dinner table of guests including Sadie (Lindsay Anne Williams), Carmine (Bill Sage), who is both a doctor and chef, famous author Agatha (Kamille McGuin), and Vincent (Doleac).
In 2018, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to crowdsource for an all-encompassing documentary about 80’s horror and the fruits of that venture were born with David Weiner’s In Search of Darkness: A Journey into Iconic 80’s Horror. The over-4 hour documentary paid loving tribute to horror’s gaudiest decade and had dozens of 80’s horror legends as contributors. Now Weiner is back to explore another glorious section of 80’s filmdom… science fiction. On Tuesday, April 21st, a kickstarter was launched for In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive ’80s Sci-Fi Documentary. The film is Executive Produced again by Creator VC and their CEO Robin Block.
Horror is best when shared with friends and there is no better way to enjoy horror with friends than with The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. Back in 2018, a supposed one-time-only return for Joe Bob literally crashed the internet. Soon he was back for a few specials, before The Last Drive-In officially returned last year, a Friday night double feature of horror, complete with Joe Bob’s usually insightful and hilarious commentary, special guests, and of course Darcy the Mailgirl. Perhaps there is no better time, since we all quarantined away due to COVID-19, for Joe Bob to return and save us from the monotony of social distancing, remote learning, and zoom meetings. The Last Drive In’s second season begins this Friday night, April 24th on Shudder.