“Art of the Dead” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Art of the Dead (2019), from writer-director Rolfe Kanefsky, is a surreal, wildly entertaining and wickedly inventive work of cinematic horror. It ranks among the best genre pictures of the year. As was the case in earlier Kanefsky productions, such as The Black Room (2017), there are touches of movie masters Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci (such as one gloriously gooey occasion near the midway mark where an image of a slug oozes slime) and Mario Bava. These are unmistakably located throughout the ninety-seven minute project. There is also a first act death scene involving overdrinking that lovingly calls to mind a moment one might see in a feature from Troma Entertainment. Such examples showcase that Kanefsky is clearly inspired. His ability to evoke memories obtained from so many sources is commendable. It increases the varied and effortlessly enjoyable nature of the proceedings.

What is just as gripping is Kanefsky’s theme of the art world. In particular, the artist being underappreciated by his or her audience. This is displayed effectively in the eye-opening and attention-garnering six-minute opening segment. There is also a concentration on the hindrance of critics through the eye of said artist. Such an emphasis adds layers of insight to the proceedings. These gently sewn bits help make the work evermore resonate.

The efficiently paced effort is further propelled to excellence by its engaging plot. It involves a family, the Wilsons, who, unbeknownst to its tragic past, are slowly taken over by the Sinsation Collection. These are an assembly of beautifully rendered paintings that revolve around the seven deadly sins. In so doing, the clan begin to enact the transgressions depicted in the canvases. This is as the handspun portraits individually speak to the members of the kin and use them as pawns in their wicked bidding.

From a narrative perspective, Kanefsky’s latest also benefits from a solid and intense third act. It weaves its various plot threads into a spectacularly sinister and satisfying climax. The concluding sequence is intriguing and ominous. It offers the perfect punctuation point for the material. The sections of backstory found in the first sixty minutes mechanize just as well. It serves as engaging exposition. The handling of this attribute adds to the wonderfully bizarre and unpredictable atmosphere of the undertaking.

Kanefsky’s script, from a story by Michael and Sonny Mahal, has the right amount of character focus, development and content. The dialogue is believable and enjoyable. Furthermore, it is brought richly to life by a game cast. Every actor and actress involved with the development delivers with a fantastic performance. Jessica Morris as Gina Wilson, Lukas Hasssel as Dylan Wilson, Richard Grieco as Douglas Winter, Tania Fox as Tiffany Roberts and Tara Reid as Tess Barryman are especially good.

The exercise is just as stalwart from a technical standpoint. The cinematography from Michael Su is colorful and striking. It increases the imaginative and hypnotic essence of the exercise. This can also be said of the smartly utilized visual effects. They were supervised by Clint Carney. Christopher Farrell’s music is moody and masterful. The costume design by Monique Marie Long, editing by Jay Woelfel and the collective contribution from the makeup department is also astounding. These characteristics are all wonder-inducing highlights of this gloriously grim gem.

In turn, Kanefsky has crafted a brilliant genre outing. The venture is ambitious and thoughtful. It can also be quite graphic at times. The subtle moments of terror are instrumented just as phenomenally as the more daring, aggressive instances of fear. Much as he had done prior, Kanefsky draws from a large catalogue of genre-related elements. This will assuredly be a source of endless appeal and admiration to fellow fans of fright flicks of all varieties. What is just as exemplary is how well he wields them into a memorable composition. It is one that is wholly his own. Regardless of the familiarity of some of the items in Kanefky’s arsenal, there is never a sense of anything in the endeavor being overdone. Best of all, there is also not a dull second in sight. For these reasons, Art of the Dead is a must-see this Halloween season. It is guaranteed to satisfy.

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Andrew Buckner’s 60 Favorite Horror Films of 2019

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the inclusion of all films on this list is based on an original 2019 U.S. release date.

60. Hoax
Director: Matt Allen.

59. The Furies
Director: Tony D’Aquino.

58. Between the Trees
Director: Brad Douglas.

57. Artik
Director: Tom Botchii Skowronski.

56.Winterskin
Director: Charlie Steeds.

55. The Farm
Director: Hans Stjernsward.

54. I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà vu
Director: Meir Zarchi.

53. Reborn
Director: Julian Richards.

52. Greta
Director: Neil Jordan.

51. Camp Wedding
Director: Greg Emetaz.

50. The Silence
Director: John R. Leonetti.

49. Incredible Violence
Director: G. Patrick Condon.

48. Devil’s Revenge
Director: Jared Cohn.

47. Annabelle Comes Home
Director: Gary Dauberman.

46. Blood Craft
Director: James Cullen Bressack.

45. Gwen
Director: William McGregor.

44. The Banana Splits Movie
Director: Danishka Esterhazy.

43. Pet Sematary
Directors: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer.

42. Seeds
Director: Owen Long.

41. The Hole in the Ground
Director: Lee Cronin.

40. Into the Dark: Culture Shock
Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero.

39. Nightmare Cinema
Directors: Alejandro Brugues, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryuhei Kitamuri, David Slade.

38. The Field Guide to Evil
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes.

37. The Night Sitter
Directors: Abiel Bruhn, John Rocco.

36. Satanic Panic
Director: Chelsea Stardust.

35. Critters Attack!
Director: Bobby Miller.

34. Crawl
Director: Alexandre Aja.

33. It Chapter 2
Director: Andy Muschietti.

32. Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark
Director: Andre Ovredal.

31. Child’s Play
Director: Lars Klevberg.

30. Belzebuth
Director: Emilio Portes.

29. Tigers Are Not Afraid
Director: Issa Lopez.

28. One Cut of the Dead
Director: Shin’ichiro Ureda.

27. Darlin’
Director: Pollyanna McIntosh.

26. The Wind
Director: Emma Tammi.

25. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Director: Stacie Passon.

24. Escape Room
Director: Adam Robitel.

23. Piercing
Director: Nicolas Pesce.

22. Ready or Not
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet.

21. The Prodigy
Director: Nicholas McCarthy.

20. Knife+Heart
Director: Yann Gonzalez.

19. The Perfection
Director: Richard Shepard.

18. Starfish
Director: Al White.

17. Depraved
Director: Larry Fessenden.

16. The Whistler: Origins
Director: Gisberg Bermudez.

15. I Trapped the Devil
Director: Josh Lobo.

14. Hagazussa
Director: Lukas Feigelfeld.

13. Lords of Chaos
Director: Jonas Akerlund.

12. The Dead Don’t Die
Director: Jim Jarmusch.

11. Art of the Dead
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky.

10. Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster.

9. The Head Hunter
Director: Jordan Downey.

8. 3 from Hell
Director: Rob Zombie.

7. In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natalia.

6. The Nightshifter
Director: Dennison Ramalho.

5. Velvet Buzzsaw
Director: Dan Gilroy.

4. Bliss
Director: Joe Begos.

3. Climax
Director: Gaspar Noe.

2. Luz
Director: Tilman Singer.

1. Us
Director: Jordan Peele.

AWordofDreams Presents: 31 Great Lesser Known Horror Films From 1920-2018

By Andrew Buckner

From the entertaining to the extreme, here is a list of thirty-one great lesser known horror films from 1920-2018 to make your Halloween season unforgettable.

1. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)
Director: Jose Mojica Marins.

2. Onibaba (1964)
Director: Kaneto Shindo.

3. Begotten (1990)
Director: E. Elias Merhige.

4. Possum (2018)
Director: Matthew Holness.

5. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Director: Georges Franju.

6. Haxan (1922)
Director: Benjamin Christensen.

7. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Director: Herk Harvey.

8. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
Director: Richard Fleischer.

9. Men Behind the Sun (1988)
Director: T.F. Mous.

10. Visions of Suffering (2006)
Director: Andrey Iskanov.

11. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013)
Directors: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani.

12. Mark of the Devil (1970)
Director: Michael Armstrong.

13. Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier.

14. Three…Extremes (2004)
Directors: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park.

15. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Director: Ingmar Bergman.

16. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)
Director: Bob Clark.

17. A Cat in the Brain (1990)
Director: Lucio Fulci.

18. Magic (1978)
Director: Richard Attenborough.

19. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)
Director: Joel M. Reed.

20. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Director: Nicolas Gessner.

21. Curse of the Demon (1957)
Director: Jacques Tourner.

22. Vampyr (1932)
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer.

23. The Old Dark House (1932)
Director: James Whale.

24. Dr. Cyclops (1940)
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack.

25. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Director: Eugene Lourie.

26. Dead of Night (1945)
Directors: Alberto Calvacanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer.

27. I Bury the Living (1958)
Director: Albert Band.

28. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Director: Robert Wiene.

29. Brain Damage (1988)
Director: Frank Henenlotter.

30. Pieces (1982)
Director: J.P. Simon.

31. Eraserhead (1977)
Director: David Lynch.

“Go to School, Kanunu” by Chris Esper (Book Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****

Hilarious, heartfelt and deeply personal, Go to School, Kanunu (2019) by Chris Esper is a perfect children’s book. Inventive and lively in its storytelling, with a multitude of terrific illustrations by Cardigan Broadmoor which bring these inherent qualities in the text to eye-popping life, the thirty-two-page tome has a look and demeanor that is easily aligned to the collective works of Dr. Seuss. This aspect can be easily assessed in the colorful and tone-setting cover Broadmoor conceived. It deftly summarizes Esper’s brief saga in a single image.

What further broadens this comparison to the ever-iconic catalogue of Dr. Seuss is how the project moves efficiently, effectively and enjoyably from one smirk-inducing situation to the next. Commencing with an ordinary moment, a mother telling her son to finish breakfast and do as the title of the effort suggests, the narrative becomes increasingly off-the-wall. This is as the mother seeks out inanimate objects as well as household animals to help get Kanunu to listen to her demands. They range from a timeout chair to a mouse.

Yet, what is most admirable about the self-published endeavor, which was released on July 30th of this year, is that it has a wide-ranging accessibility. This is most apparent in its theme of having a sluggish start to the day. Such is a topic guaranteed to ring true for every youth. It’s moral emphasis, the importance of punctuality, is fashioned in an easy-to-understand and amusing manner. It is one which its target audience will retain without difficulty.

As mentioned above, there is a private component to the undertaking which makes Go to School, Kanunu much more than an engrossing chronicle. In the touching Introduction, Esper states that this is a fiction his father would tell him and his sister. It was passed down to his father from his parents. Both of whom receive a loving dedication in the opening of the literature. This intimate connection tightens when we learn that Esper sees the yarn as a link to his Syrian heritage. It is an account his grandparents most likely heard themselves for the first time in the Middle East country. Esper’s hopes that the folk tale “may also shed a different light” on Syria is just as moving as the information garnered in this early passage.

Punctuated by an appropriately pleasant concluding note, Esper’s sophomore trek into the world of the printed word (after his brilliant 2016 debut, The Filmmaker’s Journey: Or What Nobody Tells You About the Industry) further showcases his depth and range as an artist. Whether tackling the subject of anxiety in the fantastic silent short “Imposter” (2018) or penning an engaging item for kids (as he does in his most recent opus), there is a consistently introspective nature to Esper’s material that is as relatable as it is endearing. This element illuminates every page of Esper’s latest venture. With great assistance from this quality, Esper has crafted an undertaking that feels immediately timeless. Go to School, Kanunu is an instant classic.

AWordofDreams’ 16 Favorite Rap Albums and EPs of 2019 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

16. CrasH Talk by Schoolboy Q

15. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind by Logic

14. Yuck! by ANoyd, Statik Selektah

13. Under Bad Influence 3 (EP) by Ubi

12. Ga$ Money by Lyric Jones

11. Forever (EP) by Jonezen

10. S.P. The Goat: Ghost of All Time by Styles P

9. Of Mics and Men (EP) by Wu-Tang Clan

8. Trunk Muzik 3 by Yelawolf

7. Igor by Tyler, the Creator

6. Demons by Madchild

5. N9na by Tech N9ne

4. Vernia by Erick Sermon

3. Street Urchin 2 by Sean Strange

2. Czarface Meets Ghostface by Czarface, Ghostface Killah

1. Out to Sea by Chris Orrick

A Word of Dreams’ 40 Favorite Films of 2019 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the films included in this list are based on a 2019 U.S. release date.

40. THE CHILD REMAINS
Director: Michael Melski.

39.THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
Directors: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val.

38. I AM MOTHER
Director: Grant Sputore

37. THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes.

36. THE PERFECTION
Director: Richard Shepard.

35. VHS LIVES 2: UNDEAD FORMAT
Director: Tony Newton.

34. THE MUSTANG
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonerre.

33. WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE
Director: Stacie Passon.

32. STARFISH
Director: A.T. White.

31. ESCAPE ROOM
Director: Adam Robitel.

30. GLASS
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.

29. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Director: Michael Dougherty.

28. BLOOD CRAFT
Director: James Cullen Bressack.

27. PIERCING
Director: Nicolas Pesce.

26. PENGUINS
Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wyatt Wilson.

25. THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski.

24. SCARY STORIES
Director: Cody Meirick.

23. THE PRODIGY
Director: Nicholas McCarthy.

22. CHARLIE SAYS
Director: Mary Harron.

21. THE WIND
Director: Emma Tammi.

20. THE HEAD HUNTER
Director: Jordan Downey.

19. ARCTIC
Director: Joe Penna.

18. LORDS OF CHAOS
Director: Jonas Akerlund.

17. DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE
Director: S. Craig Zahler.

16. ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Director: Mimi Leder.

15. EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE
Director: Joe Berlinger.

14. KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Director: Rachel Lears.

13. THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK
Director: Henry Dunham.

12. THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUOXITE
Director: Terry Gilliam.

11. VELVET BUZZSAW
Director: Dan Gilroy.

10. ANIARA
Directors: Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja.

9. THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor.

8. BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra.

7. APOLLO 11
Director: Todd Douglas Miller.

6. PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ
Director: Barry Avrich

5. CLIMAX
Director: Gaspar Noe.

4. US
Director: Jordan Peele.

3. NEVER LOOK AWAY
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

2. THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD
Director: Peter Jackson.

1. THE IMAGE BOOK
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

A Word of Dreams’ 40 Favorite Films of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the incorporation of the features on this list is based on the criteria of a 2018 U.S. release date.

1. The Other Side of the Wind
Director: Orson Welles.

2. Bodied
Director: Joseph Kahn.

3. Roma
Director: Alfonso Cuaron.

4. Hereditary
Director: Ari Aster.

5. Fahrenheit 11/9
Director: Michael Moore.

6. First Reformed
Director: Paul Schrader.

7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: J.A. Bayona.

8. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Director: Morgan Neville.

9. Sorry to Bother You
Director: Boots Riley.

10. King Cohen
Director: Steve Mitchell.

11. Loveless
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev.

12. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Diectors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.

13. Annihilation
Director: Alex Garland.

14. BlacKkKlansman
Director: Spike Lee.

15. You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay

16. A Fantastic Woman
Director: Sebastian Lelio.

17. The House That Jack Built
Director: Lars Von Trier.

18. Blindspotting
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada.

19. The Devil’s Doorway
Director: Aislinn Clarke.

20. The Death of Stalin
Director: Armando Iannucci.

21. Eighth Grade
Director: Bo Burnham.

22. The Insult
Director: Ziad Doueiri.

23. 22 July
Director: Paul Greengrass.

24. Isle of Dogs
Director: Wes Anderson.

25. A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski.

26. The Tale
Director: Jennifer Fox.

27. Tully
Director: Jason Reitman.

28. Leave No Trace
Director: Debra Granik

29. Revenge
Director: Coralie Fargeat.

30. Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley.

31. The Endless
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.

32. Codename: Dynastud
Director: Richard Griffin.

33. Mandy
Director: Panos Cosmatos.

34. Upgrade
Director: Leigh Whannell.

35. Unsane
Director: Steven Soderbergh.

36. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Director: Gus Van Sant.

37. First Man
Director: Damien Chazelle.

38. Searching
Director: Aneesh Chaganty.

39. Operation Finale
Director: Chris Weitz.

40. Assassination Nation
Director: Sam Levinson.

Honorable Mentions:

All the Creatures Were Stirring
Directors: David Ian McKendry, Rebekah McKendry.

Cam
Director: Daniel Goldhaber.

The House of Violent Desire
Director: Charlie Steeds.

Kiss My Ashes
Director: Sam Salerno.

You Might Be the Killer
Director: Brett Simmons.

 

A Word of Dreams’ 10 Favorite Books of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

10. HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD: DISCOVERIES FROM A LIFETIME OF FILM FANDOM by Leonard Maltin

9.WADE IN THE WATER: POEMS by Tracy K. Smith

8. WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje

7. ELEVATION by Stephen King

6. THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay

5. TRUE INDIE: LIFE AND DEATH IN FILMMAKING by Don Coscarelli

4. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS: A NEW HISTORY OF A LOST WORLD by Steve Brusatte

3. THE RECKONING by John Grisham

2. GHOSTBUSTER’S DAUGHTER: LIFE WITH MY DAD, HAROLD RAMIS by Violet Ramis Stiel

1. THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King

A Word of Dreams’ 25 Favorite Horror Films of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

Note: The criteria for all films included is a 2018 U.S. release date.

25. Halloween
Director: David Gordon Green.

24. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Director: Ari Sandel.

23. Hell Fest
Director: Gregory Plotkin.

22. Incident in a Ghostland
Director: Pascal Laugier.

21. Cargo
Directors: Ben Howling, Yolanda Remke.

20. The Heretics
Director: Chad Archibald.

19. Mom and Dad
Director: Brian Taylor.

18. They Remain
Director: Philip Gelatt.

17. Terrified
Director: Demian Rugna.

16. Unfriended: Dark Web
Director: Stephen Susco.

15. Upgrade
Director: Leigh Whannell.

14. Blood Fest
Director: Owen Egerton.

13. Veronica
Director: Placo Plaza.

12. Unsane
Director: Steven Soderbergh.

11. Mandy
Director: Panos Cosmatos.

10. The Endless
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.

9. Satan’s Slaves
Director: Joko Anwar.

8. Terrifier
Director: Damien Leone.

7. Ghost Stories
Directors: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman.

6. Revenge
Director: Coralie Fargeat.

5. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Director: Johannes Roberts.

4. The Devil’s Doorway
Director: Aislinn Clarke.

3. Annihilation
Director: Alex Garland.

2. A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski.

1. Hereditary
Director: Ari Aster.