8 New Movies That Deserve Way More Hype
As reported every year, Hollywood is once again fearing a summer of sequel fatigue to the third Planet Of The Apes, the fifth Transformers and Pirates movies, and the recent sixth Alien film. Luckily, I have the cure -- and it comes in the form of our ongoing series about upcoming films primed to blast your eyeballs with sprays of white hot originality ... provided that you learn they even exist in the first place.
So while you're catching all the big summer popcorn films this summer, do try and check out these lesser-known but totally boss, low-budget masterpieces as well. In an age where everything exists online, you film snobs have no excuse not to see ...
Dave Made A Maze: A DIY Fantasy Adventure With Cardboard Minotaurs
Not to be confused with our mustachioed childhood scribe, actor Bill Watterson had it in him to direct an elaborate fantasy movie on a small-scale budget. Since he didn't live in New Zealand or possess any real magic powers, Bill was forced to get creative in crafting his imaginary world. The solution was to take 30,000 square feet of cardboard and create a soundstage labyrinth like some kind of hobo Goblin King.
And just so we're clear -- what Watterson lacked in production capital was gained in extreme attention to design and detail. This is the killer setting for Dave Made A Maze, a film that's nice enough to combine its title and synopsis into the same four words.
Look for the sequel, Dave Needs A Maid, coming soon.
The movie centers on this Dave fellow -- a character known for never following up on his various projects and goals -- as he constructs a seemingly tiny maze in his apartment, only to become lost in it himself. It's then up to his girlfriend to venture into his creation in order to pull him out, a task that proves harder than expected when the boxy construction turns out to be deceptively spacious.
This room alone would rent for $2400 a month in NYC.
And to make matters worse, Dave has loaded his project with various booby traps and even cardboard fantasy creatures, such as a murderous minotaur out for blood while dressed like a sweded Gwar member.
"If I only had a brain ... your brain!"
If you look closely, his abs are their own maze too.
Fucking delightful! While screenings of the film are currently sporadic, it's due to arrive on streaming and have a limited theatrical release on August 18th. Do consider it for your next binge-watching drug party, as it clearly goes great with paper bags and wood glue.
Death House Is The Expendables Of Horror, Written By Leatherface
Gunnar Hansen is the guy you thank for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Leatherface's chop-tabulous whirligig performance. Before he passed in 2015, Gunnar left us one final gift: the script for a film called Death House, which is about a secret prison that houses evil supernatural killers against their will ...
... right up until the moment it abruptly stops serving that function.
"I've always wanted to do this ..." *clears throat, grabs ceiling mic* "LLLLLET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLEEE!"
I do not believe it's going to shock you to know that the prisoners get loose, causing a procession of unspeakable gore and violence. What's special about this film isn't necessarily the plot, but rather the cast -- which is made up of a collection of classic horror movie actors, making it comparable to an Expendables film for slashers.
There's Kane Hodder, aka Jason in the later Friday The 13th films ...
... Barbara Crampton, who got naked with a corpse head in Re-Animator before appearing in later horror like We Are Still Here ...
And a cameo from the wig in the Sia "Chandelier" video.
... Dee Wallace, the iconic scream queen from The Hills Have Eyes and The Howling ...
... Sid Haig, who you might remember from Wizards Of The Lost Kingdom II, as well as a few things that guy from White Zombie did ...
Under that clown make-up, he looks ... yeah, still pretty terrifying.
... and of course Tony Todd aka Candyman.
Who, despite being in his fifties, hasn't aged a day since he turned 30.
Other stars not seen in the trailer include The Hills Have Eyes' Michael Berryman, I Spit On Your Grave's Camille Keaton, Sleepaway Camp's Felissa Rose, Adrienne Barbeau from The Fog and Creepshow, as well as Chop Top himself -- Bill Moseley.
And while it might seem bittersweet to have such a old-school reunion written by a man far too dead to appear in the movie himself, according to the director Gunnar Hansen will in fact have a final onscreen credit for the movie -- thanks to the "wonders of digital technology." No clue what that means, but if it's anything like Peter Cushing's Rogue One appearance it'll be sure to invoke plenty of horror.
Better Watch Out: Home Alone Meets Funny Games
For a while there, it seemed like Christmas was no longer going to be a time of macabre slasher and monster films like it once was with titles like Silent Night, Deadly Night, Black Christmas, and of course Gremlins. Then movies like Rare Exports and Krampus came along and we're finally beginning to see the grotesque trend once more emerge like a festive cicada. Better Watch Out, formally titled Safe Neighborhood, is this year's gift to the genre. Currently rocking a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has been described as a healthy mix of home invasion and child pluckiness -- as the story (which takes place entirely in one location) follows a babysitter tasked with protecting herself from a mysterious holiday killer.
"Your folks better not give me any shit for raiding their booze cabinet ever again."
It's hard to talk about this film without spoiling why it sounds interesting, but with the risk of sounding overly vague, the reason it's been so praised sounds similar to previous horror satires like Cabin In The Woods and You're Next. In other words: While Better Watch Out starts like your typical slasher film, it takes a serious deviation halfway through.
And while I'm not entirely sure what that deviation is -- considering all the comparisons to Home Alone -- I'm guessing it has something to do with the way 80s and 90s kids films would treat extreme violence toward adults as some kind of laughing matter. I'm guessing that this film doesn't do that -- as evidenced by the childish ways these characters appear to be in mortal goddamn danger:
This is also what happens when you order ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago.
What I'm say here is, there's really no difference between Home Alone and The Good Son -- the film where Macaulay Culkin played an evil contraption-making child. And my guess is that Better Watch Out is going to point that out in some wonderful, cartoonish, and especially violent way.
Like Me: A YouTube Star Torments Middle-Aged Men
It almost seems quaint to claim that social media and YouTube can reward and encourage monstrous acts, up until the point that you realize it's absolutely true. But even a justified cautionary tale can seem as lame as a "no diving" sign next to a super bitchin' waterfall -- something I suspect the director of Like Me realized and adjusted for. Why? Because look at this shit:
Craven's Anderson's Scream
This is the ungodly wash of disjointed images you can enjoy in the film's trailer. The plot, which you could never figure out without looking it up, is about a young YouTube celebrity perpetually vexed by a single anonymous and disheartening commenter egging her into more and more extreme acts -- which include but aren't limited to robbery, assault, kidnapping, and the big M. Most if not all of which, by the way, are performed on older to middle-aged men -- who our hero apparently has a fetish for tormenting.
Still not the weirdest fetish you can find on YouTube.
So if watching dad bods writhe is your thing, I guess check this out for sure. For all the rest of you sane people, be warned that reviews have described the film as pretty surreal and experimental, as even the director is somewhat vague about its meaning. But even if it is some stern talk-down about social media, the fact that it's told through the lens of some neon Holy Mountain fiasco counts me the fuck in for a ticket.
Infinity Baby Is About Nick Offerman In A Future Where Babies Don't Get Old
I don't know why anyone would want this ... but imagine a world where you could have a baby and it would never grow up. Instead, it would remain in its disgusting wormy drool-wad forever and ever -- genetically designed to never cry, and only need changing once a week. That is the premise of Infinity Baby, a fictional company in the movie of the same name.
Flawed concept. Impeccable logo.
Being praised as one of the more surreal films to be featured at SXSW this year (where it was purchased to stream on Amazon), this story takes place in a dystopian world where abortion is illegal, but stem cell research has made great bounds. This is where the Infinity Baby comes from, a company run by the main character's uncle (played by Nick Offerman), in which our hero secretly steals a product from in a money-making scheme. Also, our hero is a Culkin. Not the main Culkin, but one of the other ones -- the Scott Pilgrim Culkin ... who is actually a pretty great Culkin.
The actress opposite Culkin should look familiar , too.
It also features Martin Starr, Noel Wells, and Megan Mullally and appears to be entirely in black and white like some kind of 90s indie film. Also like a 90s indie film, it's centered on a lazy 20-something protagonist locked in a woeful relationship struggle. The fact that the "infinity baby" he takes care of is designed for minimal maintenance probably links to a message about the new generation being locked into a state of perpetual youth hood or some shit. Whatever the case, it's about time we started getting monotone indie slacker flicks for millennials. I just didn't think it would also include a baby-cloning subplot.
Thoroughbred: Anton Yelchin's Last Film Is About Psychotic Teenage Girls
Speaking of premises we don't see anymore, remember when Hollywood had the bravery to call out the most vile and murderous members of our society? I'm speaking, of course, about suburban teenage girls. Films like Cruel Intentions and Jawbreaker warned us of their unfathomable raptor-like sadism decades ago -- and it appears like that trend is coming back with Thoroughbred, a story about two lady youngsters that's been described as a combination between Heathers and American Psycho. And I'm guessing they're not just talking about the exclusive social constructs and attention to fashion, either.
Or whatever angsty teens are into these days.
That there is Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, the latter you might recognize from starring in The Witch, Morgan, and Split in somewhat blank-faced performances not far off from full-blown psychopathy. She and Cooke play two wealthy, boarding-school teens with a violent streak behind them -- as Cooke's character begins the film having murdered her family horse with "savage indifference." Together they bond over destroying a common enemy, a jerk stepfather who they intend to put a hit on -- no doubt resulting in some kind of macabre clusterfuck of inhumanity.
The film, soon to be distributed by Focus Features, happens to be one of Anton Yelchin's final films as he plays a sex offender/stoner the girls put up to carrying out their unspeakable deeds.
He's two 21 Jump Street villains in one.
Aside from all the mayhem and horse slaughter, the main reason this film looks to be worth our time is the fact that early reviews has it at a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes -- the first-time director/playwright Corey Finley being compared to a young Park Chan-wook, who is the name behind the original Oldboy. In other words -- this is one of those under-advertised films you can surely expect to happen upon on Netflix some sunny afternoon to get a surprise dose of mental trauma.
Brigsby Bear: Mark Hamill Kidnaps And Brainwashes
What if I told you that Mark Hamill actually had two films coming out this year? The one you likely weren't aware of, which hits theaters at the end of July, is called Brigsby Bear. And like that other Star War, this too features the actor playing a sort of mentor role ...
But with a much less disgusting beard.
... only instead of taking dumps off some moss-covered ocean spike, this wise sage holds his apprenticeship in a geometric dome surrounded by animatronic critters while in the middle of nowhere. Think of it like the lowest of low-budget Westworlds.
Lord knows someone is boning that robot fox.
Also, it's not so much an "apprenticeship" as it is a "kidnapping" and "brainwashing" -- all of which involve a giant cuddly bear mascot named Brigsby, who looks positively like something out of a Five Nights At Freddy's origin story. And oddly enough, this film isn't labeled as a horror or a comedy, but a piece of dramatic fiction that happens to feature a anthropomorphized Baloo captor.
"Why do you wear that stupid bear suit?"
"Why do you wear that stupid geek suit?"
That last picture is of SNL alum Kyle Mooney, who wrote and stars in this as a boy raised in a bunker by his parents (played by Hamill and Jane Adams), whose entire world revolves around a children's show spouting convenient messages about the dangers of curiosity. This sinister charade lasts up until the inevitable FBI raid and the revelation that his parents aren't actually his parents, nor is the Brigsby Bear show real. The rest of the film plays out with a touch of Kimmy Schmidt, as our lead is forced to meet his biological family and accept the real, less sugar-coated world he was denied. The biggest disappointment of all being the loss of his favorite TV show, which he spends the rest of the film attempting to recreate for the world.
Seen here running to the middle of nowhere after accidentally pitching his idea at Fur-Con.
For anyone curious about what happens after the end of The Truman Show, this movie seems to be exactly that -- only with Luke Skywalker in a bear costume, and therefore immensely better. Bring the kids and/or a Furry friend!
There's Totally A Movie About A Killer Fetus Called Prevenge
As we've established and all agreed on, babies are gross and useless. They look like leaky flesh peanuts and have no consideration for the comfort of others. It was only a matter of time before we exposed them for the self-absorbed butt wipes they really are, which at its core is what the film Prevenge is about -- I assume.
Coming to Blu-ray this June, the trailer follows an expecting mother who suddenly gains the ability to communicate with her fetus. Trouble is, her fetus speaks only of violence and murder. And so the film revolves around one woman's homicidal adventure to quench the death-thirst of her unborn spawn, apparently dressing like a Juggalo in the process. Awesome.
And acting like a Juggalo too as far as I can tell.
No, really -- this film is about an evil fetus instructing its carrier to slaughter like some kind of gritty Krang reboot. And to make it crazier, Alice Lowe -- the writer/director/star of the film -- was fucking pregnant as it was being shot. From its writing stage to the 11-day production, the film just took a few months to make ... meaning that this tale of prenatal slaughter naturally poured out of her like slam poetry.
I'm guessing this is a real shot of the script's scrawling first draft.
It's insane that this premise hasn't been done until now, for it perfectly combines all the fears of motherhood and pregnancy into the perfect murder camouflage. After all -- if I thought a bun-oven was slitting throats, I'd have to be really certain before sucker-punching them. Whatever may happen -- if this film about a knocked-up, blood-spilling clown face doesn't kick-start your summer, I simply don't know what will.
If you know of a fantastic but under-hyped film out there, do tell Dave about it on his Twitter.
For more films we can't recommend enough, check out 6 Awesome New Movies That No One Told You About and 6 Insane Upcoming Movies (That Aren't Getting Enough Hype).
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What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, the third book in David Wong's John Dies at the End series, is available now!