‘Suburban Gothic’, From The Director of ‘Excision’, Is A Likeably Wiseass Horror-Comedy

“Meanwhile, landscaper Hector (Mel Rodriguez) and his crew accidentally dig up a child’s skeleton in the family’s backyard, unleashing a vengeful spirit that first makes its presence known via visions and nightmares suffered by Raymond, who as a child used to experience “paranormal stuff.” He enlists a similarly caustic local misfit, goth-styled bartender Becca (Kat Dennings, of “2 Broke Girls” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), to help him guide the ghost toward eternal peace before it wreaks total havoc.”

 

-From the Variety.com review by Dennis Harvey

Wow, this doesn’t sound at all like 2012’s Excision (the début feature from Richard Bates Jr.), but it sounds like fun. Big selling points for us: he got John Waters back in the cast AND Jeffrey Combs (who per IMDB, plays a doctor; Combs always shines playing doctors*, as Re-Animator and its two sequels, not to mention House on Haunted Hill, proved) in supporting roles. The Soska Sisters have cameos! Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop, and the deeply disturbing Dead End) has a lead role. Matthew Gray Gubler (Life After Beth and Criminal Minds) won the Festival Trophy for Best Actor at Screamfest 2014, for this movie, too.

We’re all in on January 30th, when this horror-comedy hits VOD!

To read Variety.com’s entire review, click the “View original” link in the lower left.

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The photo is not in the actual movie, it’s just a really cool-ass gothic house/home.

 

*He REALLY shines when he’s playing Edgar Allan Poe, too.

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Ten Killer Things We Learned From American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 12 “Show Stoppers” (SPOILERS)

Note: we realize this is not exactly the ideal timing to post, since the finale has aired before this went up, but the delay is due to major technical difficulties over here (such as the goddamned images refusing to load for–no exaggeration– the first time ever since we began Horror Boom in 2012). Pardon us posting at this late date, but better late than never. We loved this episode.

 

 

Now this is more like it!  Episode 12, “Show Stoppers” lived up to the title. The A.V. Club really hated the episode, but plenty of people online disagreed (the IMDB rating average for the episode was 9/10, from 7,000 votes as of this writing), and it was our second-favorite episode of the season so far, surpassed only by Pepper’s swan song, “Orphans”. This was definitely the best (and most satisfying) cold open of the season, too.  Which brings us to number one…

 

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1. If you’re going to get greedy and scam a close-knit group of circus sideshow performers, which includes killing at least one of them, see Todd Browning’s Freaks first. That way, when you’re sitting down to an elaborate dinner with them where you are clearly outnumbered, and they start to make pointed references to how brilliant and perfect a movie it is while staring you down, you can say “Oops! I’ll be back in a jiffy, I just remembered I forgot something in my car,”  slip out quickly and quietly, get in your car, put the pedal to the metal and get the hell out of dodge.  Stanley didn’t see the movie and had no idea what was coming until they brought him a festive-looking yet suspiciously large gift box which featured a jar containing the severed head of someone who illicitly paid large sums of money to him for the bodies/body parts.

 

Darling, don’t spoil the ending for him!

 

2. Reasoning with a gang of justifiably enraged and bloodthirsty people you screwed over will not work. Lying (especially playing dumb) will not work. I wonder, if Stanley had any idea what was coming (see above), if he could have made a run for it as soon as he saw the head of the shitty museum curator and sprinted off to his car at top speed,  he would have had a chance to escape? It would have been better timing than waiting to run until after he got stabbed in the leg so brutally that he could just sort of lunge and stumble out of the tent and start slipping around in the mud. All through the episode–except when I was distracted by something I could not look away from– I was hoping they’d follow the whole Freaks homage all the way through. More on that later.

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3. The freaks will turn on you pretty quickly if you lie to them, no matter what you’ve done for them in the past. While they have drinks in Ethel’s memory and look through her possessions (a little late for that, but fine) they can’t help but focus on what Stanley had blurted out to them while wildly bargaining for escape. “She… killed… Ethel. I’m telling the truth. She killed her.  I helped her cover it up. She’s not who you think she is! She killed Ethel!”  After Paul mentions that he knew Ethel a long time, and she would never kill herself,” they briefly mull it over and come to a somewhat spontaneous decision to kill Elsa for ‘breaking their code’–killing one of their own. Del didn’t count, that was justice for Ma Petite.

Relax, folks, it’s just a magic show!  I can put her back together… watch…

 

4. Jimmy also does not forgive easily. In fact, he tells Elsa and Maggie flat out: “I don’t forgive.” He’s not kidding No matter how sweetly Maggie tries to tell him she will make it up to him, and how they still have a future together, and blah-de-blah (she does seem torn up over what happened to him and her part in it), he doesn’t budge. Can you really blame him? Jimmy tells her she can rot in hell for all he cares and ends up telling her, “If I was you, I’d get the hell out of dodge before I get these new hands.” Later, when Amazon Eve informs him Maggie is dead, his facial expression barely changes. Maybe it was just one too many pieces of really, really bad news and he went numb and dead inside… but we doubt it.

 

You saw what they did to him.

 

6.  Désirée is maybe one notch up from Marie Laveau when it comes to holding a grudge (Marie wins as she becomes immortal and continues to hold a grudge and punish her enemies for over 100 years) . Désirée is still pretty cold when it comes to outsiders, though. She (and all the rest of the freaks) only seem dismayed a bit to see Maggie sawed in half by the new owner of the Freak Show, whose head was ‘full of bees’ after coming back from the war. Paul: “What do we do now?” Desi: “She had it coming.  Steal her jewelry and bury the bitch.”  She was heading up the posse to go get Elsa for killing Ethel, even though as far as I can recall she had known both of them the same amount of time. We loved the scene of them preparing in the caravan;  Desi calling “ETHEL!” to the heavens, draining the remainder of a bottle of booze as the freaks went into kind of a rhythmic stomp, then her smashing the bottle for a makeshift weapon and declaring, “Let’s get our girl some justice!”

You tried to kill my dreams, but they cannot be murdered.

 

7.  Bette and Dot still felt they owed Elsa something, and ended up saving her life by bursting into Elsa’s glamorous tent to warn her of the freak’s “Planning to kill you all day.” Though she more or less waited until the last minute to warn her, she ignored the discovery that Elsa had partially amputated legs and cut to the chase (“You need to leave,” was what she led with). When Elsa tried to protest that what Stanley said were the rantings of a desperate man, Bette (I think) replied, “Who’s desperate now? You saw what they did to him,” and we see the color drain from Elsa’s face.

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8. We find out what they did to “him”, Stanley, in the second-to-last scene of the episode. When Dandy, the new owner of the entire place (eeeeek!)  thanks to Elsa hastily paying him off so she could make a hasty retreat, was strolling grandly around the performance tent after being snotty to all his new employees, he heard a kind of inhuman grunting coming from the wings. He wandered over and there was a slow pan to the contents of a chicken-wire cage. Stanley’s arms and legs had been crudely amputated (along with his tongue, apparently), and he looked like he was hoping someone would just kill him as he squirmed around wretchedly and painfully, covered in feathers, wearing one of Meep’s old hats (nice touch). Dandy unsurprisingly got a big kick out of this discovery.

 

Now the other, don’t rush it this time.

 

9. In an episode full of great reveals, we were blown the hell away when it turned out none other than “Dr.” Hans Gruper, AKA Dr. Arden from American Horror Story Asylum, was the one in charge of making the snuff/torture-porn film where Elsa’s legs were sawed off with a chainsaw. Since it was a flashback, James Cromwell’s son John (who looks just like a younger version of his father) made a return appearance to portray him.  Elsa was lucky they just sawed her legs off and didn’t inject her with about 5 different horrible diseases at once, then later, drag her off and leave her in a child’s playground. Guess Gruper/Arden was just getting warmed up… though when Massimo Dolcefino (Danny Huston) went to kill Gruper to avenge the “Monster In-Chief’s” savage treatment of Elsa, Dr. Gruper was, very unfortunately, ready for him. “He took it personally when I tried to kill him… very personally,” says Massimo as we see flashback shots of Gruper electrocuting his genitals (though I think most people would take someone breaking into their home for the purpose of murdering them personally). Gruper tortured Massimo so long and so brutally that Massimo says though his body healed, his spirit was so broken that he no longer has a soul and has lost the ability to love. Elsa is in tears by the time Massimo has filled in his missing backstory.

10. Speaking of Massimo, who lovingly made such beautiful legs for Elsa and nursed her back to health, he is more than happy to use his expertise to fashion a perfect pair of hands for Jimmy that will fool everybody… and when Jimmy scoffs at him, Elsa shows him her wooden legs, and he shuts up pretty fast.  Massimo has an elaborate blueprint drawn up and everything, but in the final reveal of the episode, we see that Jimmy requested they look like his former “lobster-boy” hands when he could have had the next-best thing to normally formed human hands. Jimmy wanted to be himself. “They’re perfect,” he quietly tells Massimo.

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Jamie Brewer as Chester’s hallucination of Majorie, her best acting on American Horror Story yet.

 

Stray Thoughts:

  • People were talking about the top hat (clue to season 5) on the dinner table during the cold open, but did you see that bizarre bird that was the centerpiece? I swear it had two heads. If you can, watch the scene again. There were four… limbs, for lack of a better word, sticking up, and usually a normal turkey/goose/pheasant, or whatever type of bird you serve up whole only has two. I wonder how many other cool creations for the prop/set dressing department for this season we missed because they were in the background?
  • I’m pretty sure there were more limbs hacked off this season than any other season of American Horror Story, which is no small feat.
  • Paul was the only one who seemed upset over Maggie getting sawed in half, yelling “WHAT THE BLOODY ‘ELL!” when the blood started flowing. The rest of the gang just looked mildly dismayed. We sure as shit didn’t hear, “What have you done to Maggie?” or even “poor Maggie!” from anyone. From what I’ve read online, people either loved this scene (like us) or hated it (sigh), but everyone loved Desiree’s heartless, but hilarious reaction.
  • I could write an entire piece on the genius of the magic-trick-gone-horribly-wrong scene, but I’ll try to shorten my reaction here. Everything in that scene was goddamned gold, from Chester’s costume changing when the lights went down and came back up, to the silhouette of him sawing furiously as we hear Maggie’s screams. Also, due to Neil Patrick Harris performance, I felt sorrier for Chester than I did Maggie. He didn’t kill for the fun of it (like, say, Dandy) or because someone was in his way when he wanted something (like, say, Dandy); he was a soldier who came back from the war “with a metal plate and a head full of bees,” as his hallucination of Lucy says. When he realized what he had done to Maggie, he was horrified (more than the freaks were, that’s for sure). He was upset enough to stab the shit out of “Margorie” when she tried to leave him right afterwards.
  • The magic rehearsal scene had caused me to momentarily forget about  Stanley. However, as soon as Dandy got distracted by the strange noises coming from backstage, I started chanting, “C’mon, c’mon, please, please,…”  and then burst out with “YEAH!” at the sight of at the cage made of chicken wire as I realized that my season-long wish to see someone–especially Stanley–get the Todd Browning Chicken Lady Treatment had come true.
  • The twins turned out not to be as much of a simpleton (or should that be plural? Wording can get complicated when writing about Bette and Dot) as we thought. Exhibit A: they were smart enough not to get in that fucking box.

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Horror Story Eyes a ‘Huge Reinvention’ — Will Jessica Lange Be a Part of It?

TVline.com here has some interesting information about American Horror Story Season 5. Beware: some of it might make you a little nervous. Here is the actual quotation from the article, given by John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks:

Pressed to reveal the theme to follow Freak Show (which finales on Wednesday), Landgraf deferred, “I know what it is, but I can’t [say]. I have to let [series boss] Ryan [Murphy] do his thing on that. But it’s very different.”

Landgraf went on to say of the franchise, “One of the things I love so much about that is that it can be radically, radically reinvented in terms of tone, setting, period, characters, cast.” And along those lines, “I think there’s going to be an unusually large reinvention in between Book 4 and Book 5 relative to, say, between Book 3 [Coven] and 4 [Freak Show].

The only Season 5 clue Landgraf perhaps let slip was when asked about the show returning to the present day (as it thus far has done with odd-numbered seasons). “That’s my hope, yeah,” he answered.

He also gives a vague reply when asked if Jessica Lange will return, but everything we have heard to date (including from Lange herself indicates this season with her as Elsa Mars will be her last. Ryan Murphy says he keeps asking her, but she has not changed her decision as of this writing, and it’s not a huge leap to say that she won’t be back (except perhaps for a cameo).

Hit “View original” in the lower left to read the whole piece on TVline.com!

TVLine

FX’s fifth American Horror Story will be “very different,” FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told TVLine Sunday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

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Variety Says ‘Preservation’ Best Appreciated As a Member of a Cheering Theater Audience-Read Their Review & See Trailer Here!

Denham shrewdly tightens the screws with some cheeky but dead-serious visual allusions to other thrillers — a bit of “Blair Witch Project” here, a smidgen of “Friday the 13th” there — before upending expectations with a startling reveal at the two-thirds mark. And that leads a few scenes later to a turnabout that likely would be best appreciated as a member of a cheering theater audience.

-from the Variety.com review by Joe Leydon

Aaaaand we are sold! You’ll probably recognize ole “Pornstash” from Orange is the New Black and Ken Cosgrove from Mad Men in the trailer if you’re a fan of either of these shows. Cosgrove hasn’t done too well on hunting trips, but it’s gonna get even uglier this time around…
Click “View original” in the lower left of this post to read the rest of this enthusiastic review, and watch the trailer below!

The release date given is January 9th (2015), but we can’t find Preservation on any of the regular VOD outlets. Sadly, that means we can’t watch it with a cheering theater audience (unless you hold a party revolving around watching it with some festive horror fans at your home) Hopefully it’ll show up soon!

 

American Horror Story: We’ve Got Titles and Episode Summaries for The Final Two Episodes (SPOILERS!)

Man, this season went too fast. The pacing has been a little, what’s a nice way to put this …uneven; some episodes nothing really happened except maybe Elsa being bitchier than usual and others went zipping around all over the place. We’ve still enjoying it much more than Coven, and the recent episode “Orphans” did more for us than the entire third season. Freak Show hasn’t actively pissed us off yet with plot holes and lazy writing, it’s just made us realize chances are that anything coming up in the last two episodes of this season and future seasons will never be as scary as Asylum and even Murder House (hey, one episode–“Smouldering Children”– gave me nightmares, and the “Infantata” scenes actively frightened me). I still hold out a tiny bit of hope, though. What with the new character being introduced, we wish they’d caught up sooner, or had a few more episodes to wrap up, because we love spending time with these characters, in this beautiful setting, with these amazing actors.

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Here are the titles, if you want to read something that is spoiler-free and then stop…

Episode 12, airing next Wednesday January 14th, is titled “Show Stoppers”. Uh-oh.

Episode 13, the finale, is Titled “Curtain Call,” and airs on January 21st.

Ok, here comes the spoiler section. It won’t ruin everything, but it’s also not too hard to fill in some blanks that are probably supposed to be surprises.

SPOILERS FOLLOW!

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Show Stoppers:
Dandy gives the Twins troubling information about Chester. Maggie vows to prove her loyalty to Jimmy. The Freaks enforce their harsh code of justice. (yeah!)

Curtain Call:

The Freaks rebel against new management. Dandy prepares for his début performance. Elsa arrives in Tinseltown.
Our speculations are as follows…

The “troubling information” Dandy gives the Twins about Chester will be that he is completely batshit, and probably that he murdered his wife and her lover, but is convinced the doll /dummy did it. There is a theory being tossed around online that Chester is actually the dummy (“Nutcracker!”) and she is real, which is interesting but would seem impossibly given the other character’s interactions with him. Maggie will probably prove her love to Jimmy by telling him everything that Stanley has done, and her role in it. The freaks enforcing their harsh code of justice? Stanley’s freakishly large penis will end up in a jar in the Morbidity Museum, and not attached to him. We still have hope that he will get the Todd Browning Chicken Lady treatment, or at least die very slowly, painfully, and gruesomely. Though we would really love it if Stanley got his dick chopped off, sold, then was mutilated to the point where he is turned into some kind of horrible monstrosity (with his tongue cut out, too) that ends up being a new “act” that patrons of the Freak Show will pay to see.
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Freak Justice, Todd Browning-style.

We also think Danny Huston will be back as the doctor who carefully crafted and made Elsa her gorgeous wooden legs, and that he’ll make new hands for Jimmy. Not sure how well they’ll function, but at least they’ll appear to be hands. Maybe he’ll be the one to take care of Stanley.
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As far as the finale? It looks like what Pepper (as above) saw on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1960 (I think that was the year) was not some kind of dream, and Elsa actually gets the career she has lusted after most of her life. It’ll be a lonely life for her, though. Chester won’t be the new management, since he’s not in the finale. That leaves Dandy.  No-one likes him. Hopefully Maggie will remember his voice, or someone will put something together in time for him to get his before the show ends. His big début? Now that’s going to be something pretty grisly… and we hope, unexpected. Also, Dandy needs to die horribly. Oh yeah, Ryan Murphy also promised us we’d see Twisty again, though we have no idea how he’d fit in.

Let’s also keep our fingers crossed for a 90-minute finale!
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TVLine.com Has Exclusive Pics From New American Horror Story Freak Show Episode!

We were going to re-blog this, but instead we thought we’d link to it and remind you that American Horror Story Freak Show airs its final three episodes (sigh) beginning this week. That’s Wednesday, January 7th! Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Click here for the exclusive TVline.com photos, featuring Neil Patrick Harris as “Chester”, a magician/travelling salesman.

The episode is titled “Magical Thinking”, and NPH will appear in two episodes.

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