“Black Marigolds” stars Rachel Boston and Noah Bean as Kate and Ryan Cole, a couple who decide to take up residence in a cabin in northern California. Ryan is a successful first-time novelist; Kate is a translator. Ryan plans to use the secluded site to work on his second novel. It seems idyllic — but there’s a problem.
Prolific indie actress and filmmaker Audrey Noone has wrapped post-production on a new comedy short, “A Warming Trend.” Released recently via YouTube, it follows the ironically named Scarlett Cool (Noone), head of Scarlett Industries, as she tries to tolerate a rather boring presentation by her nerdy financial analyst (Steve Day). Things are heating up, however — and it’s not just her business that’s experiencing a warming trend. By the way, this is a trend that could “last for years.” And it’s given her a power that she can’t quite control.
In this collection, Latashia Figueroa offers three short horror stories. Each is deceptively tame at the outset, lulling the reader into a false sense of security. Then the author pulls back the veil she has placed cleverly to hide the menacing evil that was present all along. From a witch to vampires to a diabolical cult figure, these antagonists do not relent once they have been unleashed. Yet the life choices of everyday people are what call them forth. With a knack for imagery and a concise, pithy writing style, Figueroa’s stories are as enjoyable to read as they are horrifying.
The latest from indie director Christopher DiNunzio and the filmmaking team at Creepy Kid Productions, “A Life Not To Follow” (to be released August 2015) is a neo-Noir gangster film told via a dark triptych of interlacing stories. These three chapters are bounded by brief sequences, shot with an almost-dreamlike quality, of a beautiful young woman whose identity and significance is, at first, a mystery. The film ultimately answers these questions about her in the course of telling its story. It also answers the question of which of the characters’ lives is the one “not to follow,” in the process of showing how all share a common human frailty.
PUZZLEMAN introduces a fascinatingly evil antagonist who invites comparison to certain iconic horror villains, such as Clive Barker’s Cenobites.
As I mentioned in the conclusion of my last post, I planned to follow up my review of “Tales from the Dark 1″ with a look at its sister film, “Tales from the Dark 2.” The latter is also a compilation of three short horror films, all based on short stories by Lilian Lee and helmed by Hong Kong directors. As I hinted in my last post, the horror of the second collection is much more hardcore than that of the first. It is more explicit in terms of sexuality and violence. As a result, it is a Category III film (no one under 18 admitted) under the HK rating system.
“Tales from the Dark 1″ (李碧華鬼魅系列 迷離夜) is the first of two 2013 compilations of short horror films from Hong Kong directors. Horror stories by Hong Kong author and screenwriter Lilian Lee (Li Pi-Hua) — whose many writings include the novel Farewell My Concubine, as well as the screenplay for the film — are the basis for the screenplays of the six shorts in this double portmanteau.
Continuing China/Hong Kong Month here on the Loud Green Bird blog, we consider a recently-produced film from China, “Caught in the Web” (2012). Directed by Kaige Chen, its premise has to do with the Social Web of the Internet, no doubt. It also deals with the much older, but still powerful web of conflicting emotions that links people together in real life. It also delves into the conflicts that play out on both webs due to the clash of old and new, be it old and new cultural traditions, old and new societies, or old and new relationships between people. As can be guessed from this ambitious list of themes, “Caught in the Web” attempts to cover a lot of ground. As a matter of fact, it requires almost two hours of run-time to capture its main story arc and its associated subplots. To tell the truth, it could use a more ruthless editor. However, within this film is a core romantic drama that is definitely a winner.
In a little less than a week, I’ll be leaving for a tour of China, after which I’ll be visiting my in-laws in Hong Kong. I’ve been to the Chinese mainland only once before, but I have been to Hong Kong many times. In preparation for the trip (and in anticipation of difficulty posting while I am in China), I’ll be focusing this week on films from Chinese and Hong Kong cinema. For three weeks afterwards, I’ll be posting about China and Hong Kong when time and Internet access permit.
“Insidious Chapter 3″ (2015) has most of the ingredients for a fortunate horror wedding. It has “something old,” “something new,” “something borrowed,” and “something blue.” What it lacks is the “silver sixpence in her shoe.” Without this last, vital ingredient, the marriage of viewer and film does not have as much of a shot at good fortune and prosperity as it could have had. What the heck do I mean? Read on and find out!