The horror anthology The ABCs of Death, inspired in part by early kids’ books and bearing a real resemblance to Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, is a who’s-who of current horror and genre stars and up and comers. The film will be divided into twenty-six segments in which a letter of the alphabet corresponds to a method of death. The segments will be short, but given that they’ll be directed by people like Nacho Vigalondo, Jason Eisener, Noburo Iguchi and many more, they might pack a punch.

Two more directors were added to the list today, bringing the total number of signees to twenty-five. Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman) and Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle, Black Death) are now on the roster. Details of a contest to choose the final director are after the break. Read More »

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The horror anthology is really coming back, and if things work out well Drafthouse Films, with Timpson Films and Magnet,  might be right at the forefront of the mini-trend with a new project called The ABCs of Death. This is a massive anthology inspired by kids ABC books, in which twenty-five directors and one contest winner will each “be assigned a letter from the alphabet that represents a word to act as a springboard for a short. It will be up to each filmmaker to interpret, from accidental deaths to murders committed in cold blood.”

In other words, this might be a bit like Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies. But with directors like Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and Srdjan Spasojevic (A Serbian Film) making the shorts, it could get a lot crazier than that. The full director list and a cute teaser poster is after the break. Read More »

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Next month, one of my favorite independent and more outspoken directors of late, Ti West, will begin shooting a follow-up to last year’s breakout hit about Satanic Panic The House of The Devil. Filming on location in Connecticut (where THotD was also shot) and entitled The Innkeepers, the film is said to follow “the last two staffers at a hotel that’s going out of business”—a hotel that may have ghostly occupants. When I previously emailed West to see if The Shining would be an influence and whether the film addresses “reality” tv shows like Ghost Hunters, he wrote back: “This movie incorporates and comments on the trend of those type shows etc. but is also a very classic ghost story. I’m psyched. I think it blends the classic ghost story style with a solid modern twist.  It will be really fun, fresh and scary.”

In a new chat with FearNet at SXSW, where West was speaking on a horror panel, he dished out more tidbits on the project. The haunted hotel that’s central to the story is actually the same hotel he and his crew stayed at while making THotD, and the plot will be informed by “a lot of [his] experiences there.” Similar to what he shared with /Film, West goes on to say The Innkeepers will be scarier than THotD, will also have a healthy number of jokes, and will “definitely be more commercial than THotD” but with an “indie sensibility that will make it unique.”

More details below. And we’ll go ahead and tack on a NSFW list of the top five things we dig about West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, the super gory straight-to-DVD sequel he has disowned following creative differences with Lionsgate…

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Ti West to Direct The Innkeepers

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Following on from House of the Devil, his film about a young hipster girl very, very slowly walking up and down corridors and eventually crossing paths with possible ‘Special Guest Star’ devil worshippers, it seems that Ti West is to make another “truly terrifying” picture. One man’s tedium is another man’s terror, I suppose.

Variety report that West’s film The Innkeepers will be about “the last two staffers of a haunted hotel that’s going out of business”. At least they’ll have each other to talk to.

Larry Fessenden‘s Glass Eye Pix are backing the film, as they did House of the Devil, The Roost and Trigger Man.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever Trailer #1

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I was not a fan of Cabin Fever, but I got a lot more interested in the sequel after seeing House of the Devil, which was directed by Cabin Fever 2‘s helmer Ti West. I can see why some people didn’t like House of the Devil — it’s slow and moody more than anything else — but I can’t agree with them. Though I’m not as head over heels for the movie as Hunter was, I loved the atmosphere and aesthetic West managed to create. Some of the same touches look to be on display in this first trailer for his Cabin Fever sequel. Check it out after the break. Read More »

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When 2009 is reflected on later, it won’t be the clunky, predictable Oscar-bait pics that standout but rather a new crop of outspoken auteurs that came into their own in ’09 with stealthy, highly confident fare. A charged determination and can’t-fail idealism is instilled in these directors that makes the filmmaking process once again exciting and truly daring: A young man’s game. Writer/director, Ti West, is one such auteur. Not yet 30 years of age, West has crafted a horror film with an attention to detail, sex appeal, color and sound so as to evoke the paranoid trips of early Roman Polanski and the vintage, pop-darkly appreciation of early Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Bearing a title that is epic and playfully dry, The House of the Devil reconnects the horror genre with roots-y, genuine, teetering suspense. By doing so, West also manages to grasp viewers in the claws of doom by way of a foreboding graveyard or a pitch black basement, as opposed to, say, a phallic torture chamber aired simultaneously on forty live surveillance cameras. Stylistically, West forwent mining homage from the Grindhouse well—so exhausted this decade—and instead made a film set in the ’80s that not only looks period, but feels of it. The era’s mundane pace of life and lack of social interconnection can be sensed from the movie’s start and is incensed by the decade’s “Satanic Panic”: a media-exploited phenomenon that did for Satanism what coverage of the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam did for serial killers in the ’60s and ’70s. At Devil‘s heart is the lead performance by newcomer, Jocelin Donahue, 27, who gets my vote for movie crush of 2009. Donahue plays Samantha, a smart, unsure college sophomore in dire need of a payday who eventually responds—in that ’80s way—to a nondescript babysitter flyer. No one ever said that $atan doesn’t have great taste.

From the way in which Donahue walks in high-waisted jeans to the way Samantha and her BFF eat and critique pizza, it’s a luscious thrill to witness such a dope actress and director get it and get it some more. Moreover, West appears supported by one of the cooler, simpatico filmmaking crews working in indie films today. Unlike the stereotypical proto-auteur of past and present, West’s horror movie shines as both the work of a driven perfectionist and a clear vision by a superlative collective; this enables the viewer to fall into, and fall in love with, all the creepy, masterful foreplay before West’s plot rocks wildly alongside a devilish eclipse. Afterward, I desired to open a pack of THoTD trading cards showcasing the film’s collaborators and characters alike rather than scan IMDB. Ti West discussed his creative process with /Film, as well as the film’s titular House, its mystic pizza, and why his experience helming the yet-to-be-released Cabin Fever 2 was an effing nightmare straight outta Hell Hollywood.

Hunter Stephenson: Hi Ti. I found this to be a very uncompromising horror film. I think what many are finding to their surprise is that The House of the Devil is not an homage to the ’80s a la Thanksgiving but a real period piece.

Ti West: Thanks, I’m glad you see it like that because that’s how I see it: as a period piece. I appreciate that. I mean, the film is basically about a cultural phenomenon in the 1980s, the Satanic Panic. So, I wanted to create a very accurate depiction of that and not do it tongue-in-cheek, or as a parody, because then people wouldn’t care about the characters in the movie. That’s why there’s a really nice primer to the beginning of the film [explaining the Satanic Panic, complete with statistics], because so much of the film is a contrast between a lot of realism and then these very fantastic horror elements. And that’s why, with the beginning, I wanted it to feel like this is something that could have really happened.

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Repeat the following name after me three times: Ti West. Ti West. Ti West. Pray that Hollywood doesn’t tuck him into its throbbing succubus and then wring his brilliance out into its rancid, gold spittoon gifted by Dubai. With The House of the Devil, one of the most gorgeous, sexy, and vital horror films in recent memory, the 29-year-old writer/director has bowled me over. I haven’t been this excited by an independent film from a new, uncompromising voice in modern cinema since Jody Hill‘s The Foot Fist Way. If you follow my work at /Film, oh shit, you know what that means: I might proceed to drive my unwieldy love-cart off a cliff that is this oncoming jump…so if you choose not to follow, I’ll leave you with an echo. “Take those greedy scumbags at Platinum Dunes hostage, tie them up at the bottom of a Lake and force them to watch THOTD a million times…Happy Halloween.” The pool will be good for Mr. Devin. This is the best horror film of 2009.

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After three viewings, I can say without a doubt that Ti West‘s The House of the Devil is a lock for my top five films of 2009, and for best horror film of the year. My review is taking a while, schedule permitting, because it’s difficult to express and explain just how perfectly THotD works as a gorgeous, genuinely creepy period piece rather than another witty homage to horror films past (a la Scream or Hatchet). Magnolia, currently red hot on the indie scene, will release the film in limited theaters on Halloween, but it’s quietly been made available for rental on Amazon and VOD (at least in some markets, I’ve seen a few complaints).

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