Category Archives: Outtakes

Movie-related whatnot

An Exercise in Degradation

Beleth Station

by Hope Madden

I imagine a lot of people have thought about getting out of a bad marriage and wondered, What’s the worst that could happen?

Those people should talk to Samantha Kolesnik and Bryan Smith. Or maybe they shouldn’t. The duo’s unusual A-side/B-side horror tale Beleth Station is like a premise wrapped in a dare that really digs into What’s the worst that could happen?

Both writers take the same set of characters, same basic idea of being trapped in a dying town off the Pennsylvania highway, and then each sees how bad it can get.

Kolesnik’s take, A Night to Remember, comes first, following Krista and Nick as they flee Krista’s stultifying marriage. They find themselves in need of roadside assistance in an isolated stretch – a common enough beat in horror, but one that Kolesnik takes in depraved and alarming directions. What follows is an experiment in degradation.

There is a deep hopelessness in this story, a kind of grim poetry that’s so beautifully written you commit to the long, bleak, terrifying haul. You will want to look away, but Kolesnik’s prose compels you.

Both stories explore the primal terror of helplessness, each wallowing in the evil that men do, each almost mocking the naivete of faith in the human condition. Still, they are vastly different tales. Smith’s The Gauntlet feels more cinematic, like Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Two Thousand Maniacs meets Stephen King’s The Running Man.

Conspiracy, brutality, revolution all fuel a tale that drops you in the middle of the action and never lets up. Two desperate pairs – young townies dying for escape, new lovers lured in from the outside – commit increasingly horrendous acts to garner freedom.

For Smith, the question isn’t how bad can it get as much as how far will you go, and what will you be when it’s over? He has a flair for both imagery and pace that makes The Gauntlet all but impossible to stop reading.

Fearless Oscar Predictions, 2023

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Things look a little more predictable this year than in years past, but who knows? There’s usually some drama, some upsets, possibly some face slapping. Who can really predict it? We are here to try.

Best Director

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert will need a wheelbarrow by the time this year’s Oscar ceremony is over. Their delightful, heart wrenching, hilarious Everything Everywhere All at Once is likely to clean up. We certainly think they’ll take home the award for directing.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

For a while, it felt like Colin Farrell and Brendan Fraser were neck and neck for this one. The SAG may have sealed the deal for Fraser, though, which is why we predict he’ll take home the statuette.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The Daniels created an opportunity for veteran badass Michelle Yeoh to play a frustrated laundromat owner, a glamorous starlet, a lover with hot dog fingers, and many other characters. Yeoh had to give each Evelyn Wang a unique personality as well as connecting characteristics. And then, on top of all that, Yeoh had to find an arc for the main Evelyn. This was a deceptively complicated gig, but you’d never know that watching the final product. Yeoh is breathtaking in a film that knows how to showcase her talent, and Oscar will reward her.

Best Supporting Actor

It’s hard not to root for the effervescent and endearing Ke Huy Quan, who will likely win for his performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Hopefully it won’t go overlooked that, in playing several versions of the same character, the film gave the actor a chance to show off acting chops we simply never knew he had. It’s a beautiful, tender performance deserving of the prize.

Best Supporting Actress

While early momentum favored the glorious Angela Bassett in her powerful turn in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, things seem now to point to Jamie Lee Curtis for her performance as Deirdre Beaubierdre (best character name ever!) in Everything Everywhere All at Once. There is tremendous goodwill toward both veterans, but all signs now are pointing toward JLC.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Thanks to the Writers Guild award (a heavy Oscar predictor), we are beyond thrilled to predict that Sarah Polley’s Women Talking will win the Oscar for Adapted screenplay. A beautiful, tender, brave and glorious film, we are really hoping this is the case.

Best Original Screenplay

The key word here is original, because there are few contenders as truly original as The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Best Animated Feature

2022 was a great year for animation, and our pick is GdT’s Pinocchio.

Best Documentary Feature

We’re going with All That Breathes.

Best International Feature

All Quiet on the Western Front seems the likely winner.

Best Cinematography

It should be Bardo, but the nomination feels like the best the Academy is going to do for a film nobody saw on the big screen it deserved. Our pick is James Friend for All Quiet on the Western Front.

Best Score

Our gut says Justin Hurwitz for Babylon.

Best Original Song

This will be the year of EEAAO, so we’re tempted to go with “This Is a Life.” But instead, we’re picking “Naatu Naatu” from the ridiculously entertaining RRR.

Best Film

It would be a true shock to see anything but Everything Everywhere All at Once win the top prize this year. The momentum is clearly there, and why not? It’s the most original, charming, creative film to be recognized by the Academy in ages. Well deserved!

The 95th Academy Awards will be presented on March 12 at 8pm on ABC.

Skinamarink Screening with Director Kyle Edward Ball at Gateway

In partnership with the Greater Columbus Film Commission, Gateway FIlm Center has announced that acclaimed new filmmaker, Kyle Edward Ball, will visit the Center on Saturday, March 18, to premiere a 35mm version of his film, Skinamarink (2023).

“We are excited to welcome Kyle to Columbus, to the Film Center, and to share the 35mm print of his incredible independent film, Skinamarink” said Gateway Film Foundation CEO, Christopher Hamel.

In Skinamarink (2023), two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. To cope with the strange situation, the two bring pillows and blankets to the living room and settle into a quiet slumber party situation. They play well worn videotapes of cartoons to fill the silence of the house and distract from the frightening and inexplicable situation. All the while in the hopes that eventually some grown-ups will come to rescue them. However, after a while it becomes clear that something is watching over them.

The film stars Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul and Jaime Hill and is executive produced by Edmon Rotea, Ava Karvonen, Bonnie Lewis, Alan Lewis, Josh Doke, and Jonathan Barkan.

Ball, a first-time filmmaker, made Skinamarink (2023), which premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, for about $15,000. Since the film’s debut, it has become an instant cult classic, often compared to micro-budget horror hits such as The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity (2007). However, Skinamarink is not found-footage or improvised, but is fully scripted and features images, sounds, and camera angles which were created to add depth and discomfort.

Shudder and IFC FIlms released Skinamarink (2023) in the United States on Friday, January 13, 2023. Gateway Film Center was selected as one of the first venues to feature the film and the Center has continuously screened Skinamarink (2023) since the release in January. To date, Skinamarink (2023) has grossed over two million dollars in the United States, making it one of the most successful and profitable independent films of all-time.

“Members of our community continue to hear about this film and want to experience it the way it was intended, with an audience and on a big screen. The Film Center is proud that we continue to present the film and I know Kyle’s visit, and this 35mm screening, will be a great event for Columbus”, said Hamel.

Tickets for these screenings are on sale now at The 35mm presentation of Skinamarink (2023) on Saturday, March 18 will screen at 7:00pm exclusively for myGFC Members alongside a workshop co-presented with Film Columbus. The 9:30pm screening will be introduced by the filmmaker and is now on sale. Normal ticket prices apply. MaddWolf’s Hope Madden and George Wolf will moderate the q&a session following the 7:00pm performance.

Gateway Film Center is wholly owned by the Gateway Film Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Campus Partners, The Columbus Foundation, and thousands of individual donors. To learn more, visit the website at

2023 Oscar Nominations…We Have Thoughts

Well, they’re here, and the 2023 Oscar nominations are a reminder that we actually had some hits this year. Blockbusters are all over this lineup, as are indies, returning favorites, first-time veterans, newcomers, surprises and – say it with us – snubs.

Here are our thoughts on this year’s Academy Award nominations:

Best Film

Sure, people will cheer and/or complain about the love of Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick. Purists will point out that many, many smaller films boasted better acting and writing (Aftersun? The Woman King? Nope?), while others will be happy that, for once, they’ve seen a Best Picture nominee. Our issue is with Triangle of Sadness, which has too many nominations altogether. For our money, The Menu’s nuance succeeded where the obviousness of Triangle failed, and it did it in half the time.


All Quiet on the Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water

The Banshees of Inisherin


Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans


Top Gun: Maverick

Triangle of Sadness

Women Talking

Best Director

Östlund took a spot that could have more deservedly gone to Sarah Polley (Women Talking) or the criminally unappreciated Park Chan-Wook, whose sublime Decision to Leave was entirely ignored.


Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schenhert, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Todd Field, Tár

Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness

Best Lead Actress

Where is Danielle Deadwyler? Easily the biggest snub of the day, Deadwyler deserves to be on this list forher turn in Till without question. And while de Armas was the one saving grace in the 3+ hour dumpster fire that was Blonde, Oscar-worthy she was not.

We’re happy to see the surprise nomination for Riseborough, but we do also miss Emma Thompson for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and Viola Davis for The Woman King.


Cate Blanchett, Tár

Ana de Armas, Blonde

Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie

Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Lead Actor

This card looked about as expected, but we couldn’t be more thrilled that Paul Mescal is being recognized for his beautiful turn in Aftersun.


Austin Butler, Elvis

Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Fraser, The Whale

Paul Mescal, Aftersun

Bill Nighy, Living

Best Supporting Actor

Brian Tyree Henry?! Yes, please! One of the biggest surprises this year is also one of the most welcome. Thrilled as well to see Keogan join Gleeson and, like everyone else, overjoyed that the undeniable Ke Huy Quan will be at the Oscars – even if he doesn’t win, although things are looking good for him.


Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin

Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway

Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans

Barry Keogan, The Banshees of Inisherin

Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actress

We would have loved to see literally anyone from Women Talking get acknowledged here, but honestly, we don’t have a lot of nits to pick. Exceedingly happy for every single person who made this list.


Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Hong Chau, The Whale

Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin

Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Original Screenplay

Oh how we hoped we’d see Nope on this list. Jordan Peele’s genre-bending treasure deserves the Triangle of Sadness spot, and if not him, Charlotte Wells for Aftersun.

Frontrunners have to be Banshees and EEAAO, but honestly, that seems to be the case in almost every single race.


The Banshees of Inisherin

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans


Triangle of Sadness

Best Adapted Screenplay

All Quiet on the Western Front earned a lot of nominations. It’s clearly frontrunner for Best International Picture, and a worthy screenplay for this ticket. We’d love to see it go to Women Talking, most deserving of all the nominees. But where is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio? It’s a far superior adaptation in narrative and vision than Glass Onion or Top Gun: Maverick.


All Quiet on the Western Front

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

Best Animated Feature

Very quietly, 2022 was the best year for animated features in decades. Every last film on this list deserves an Oscar. So happy to see Puss In Boots and The Sea Beast make the list. Marcel the Shell was maybe the most charming film of 2022. Pixar released what may have been the most personal, accessible and needed film of its catalog with Turning Red. But del Toro out del Toroed himself with one of the best films, animated or not, of the year.


Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish

The Sea Beast

Turning Red

Best International Film

Where is Decision to Leave? Because it shouldn’t just have been nominated, it should have won. Not to take anything away from these films, each of which is truly wonderful. (Smart money’s on All Quiet on the Western Front in what is the surest lock of the show.)


All Quiet on the Western Front




The Quiet Girl

Best Documentary

We saw a lot of documentaries in 2022, none of which was a brilliant and moving use of the medium as Moonage Daydream. How it managed to go unsung by the Academy is a crime.


All That Breathes

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Fire of Love

A House Made of Splinters


Best Cinematography

Good choices, and nice that Bardo is getting a deserved nod here.


All Quiet on the Western Front

Bardo, False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths


Empire of Light


Best Score

Sad to see no nods for GdT’s Pinocchio or Nope.


All Quiet on the Western Front


The Banshees of Inisherin

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Best Song

We admit it, we were rooting for “Good Afternoon” from Spirited. And we thought TSwift had a shot with “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing. But nominating RRR’s “Natu Natu” makes up for everything.


“Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman

“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick

“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

“Naatu Naatu” from RRR

“This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once

The 95th annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 12 on ABC.

Best Films of 2022

Good lord, 2022 is over. How on earth…? Well, we guess that means it’s time to think back on all the many big, small, emotional, hilarious, terrifying, gorgeous, honest, bleak, hopeful, remarkable movies of the year and winnow down a list of our favorites. Here goes…

1. Tár

At Gateway Film Center or premium Prime rental

It took writer/director Todd Field 16 years to bounce back from his experience with Miramax, but it was worth the wait. Tár, a searing character study of art, arrogance, obsession and power that’s propelled by the towering presence of (surprised face) Cate Blanchett. And, as is her way, Blanchett needs mere moments to define Lydia with sharp, unforgettable edges.

It’s when Lydia dismisses ideas of gender inequality or coyly celebrates the history of patriarchy in her own profession that Field and Blanchett best expose the insidious nature of power. The storytelling is striking in its intimacy, gripping in its universal scope. Tár is a showcase for two maestros working at the top of their game.


All the severity of Beckett with the dark comedy lightened just a few shades, Banshees asks: What if the erosive accrual of daily life is the only way for us to find grace—and what if the dumbest person you know accidentally figured that out? You’d probably have a spiritual crisis too.

-Matt Weiner

2. The Banshees of Inisherin

On HBO Max and VOD

Existential dread picks up a brogue and a fiddle full of longing at JJ Devine’s Public House on an island off the West coast of Ireland in 1923. It’s a microcosm, simultaneously intimate and universal. It’s also the single finest ensemble you will find onscreen in 2022. More than that, it’s a breathing example of the mournful humor and heritage of the Irish.

The Banshees of Inisherin mines a kind of pain uncommon on a big screen. In Martin McDonaugh fashion, the mining is done with wit, insight, humanity and absolutely world-class acting. It must not be missed.

At times both brutally funny and heartbreakingly sad, The Banshees of Inisherin is a profound look at how even the best relationships in life reach their eventual end.

Brandon Thomas

3. Nope

On Peacock and VOD

There are some truly frightening moments in Nope. Some revolve around things you may think you know based on the trailer. Others feature a bloody monkey in a party hat. And writer/director/producer Jordan Peele’s third feature has plenty to say about Black cowboys, the arrogance of spectacle, and getting that elusive perfect shot.

Peele’s direction and writing effortlessly mine comedic moments, but Nope is no comedy. He unravels a mystery before your eyes, and his shot-making has never been so on point. Peele’s direction and writing effortlessly mine comedic moments, but Nope is no comedy. He unravels a mystery before your eyes, and his shot-making has never been so on point. 

4. Moonage Daydream

Prime Rental

Longtime David Bowie fans know of his early fondness for the “cut up” method to writing songs – literally cutting up lines of written lyrics and then shifting them around in search of more enigmatic creations. Director Brett Morgen takes a similar approach to telling Bowie’s story in Moonage Daydream, a completely intoxicating documentary that immerses you in the legendary artist’s iconic mystique and ambitious creative process.

Moonage Daydream is like no music biography that you’ve ever seen. It’s a risky, daring and defiant experience, which is exactly the kind of film David Bowie deserves. Expect two hours and fifteen minutes of head-spinning fascination, and a sense that you’ve gotten closer to one Starman than you ever felt possible.

5. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

On Netflix

Guillermo del Toro’s script film establishes itself immediately as a very different story than Disney’s. The 1940 film – and, to a degree, the live-action remake Disney launched earlier this year – offers a cautionary tale about obedience. So does del Toro’s, although, in true GDT fashion, he’s warning against it.

Co-director Mark Gustafson’s animation itself is breathtaking, and perfectly suited to the content, as if we’ve caught an artist in the act of giving his all to bring his creation to life. Everything about the film is so tenderly del Toro, whose work mingles wonder with melancholy, historical insight with childlike playfulness as no other’s does.


1.     Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

2.     Turning Red

3.     Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

4.     Mad God

5.     Puss In Boots: The Last Wish

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once

On Showtime and Prime

Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are back with their brand of sweet-natured lunacy for Everything Everywhere All at Once. The result is an endlessly engaging, funny, tender, surprising, touching maelstrom of activity and emotion. This is a hard movie not to love.

Never have I been so richly rewarded by going in to see a movie knowing absolutely nothing about it. 

Christie Robb

7. The Fabelmans

At Drexel Theatre or premium Prime rental

For 2+ hours, Steven Spielberg uses all the tools of his trade to beguile you with his own origin story. In those moments, you will find everything Spielbergian – tech wizardry, cinematic wonder, artistry, sentimentality, family, loss – dance to life across the screen. The Fabelmans is no Jaws, no Raiders of the Lost Ark or E.T. Instead, it’s an exceptional movie about how those other movies could have ever happened.

8. Women Talking

In theaters January 6

With nuanced writing and one of 2022’s finest ensemble, Women Talking, the latest from filmmaker Sarah Polley, delivers quiet, necessary insight. Polley shows respect for the women in this tale – not just for their bodies, their agency, their humanity. She shows uncommon respect for their faith. This is what every faith-based film should look like.


1.     Top Gun: Maverick

2.     RRR

3.     Top Gun: Maverick

4. RRR

5. Top Gun: Maverick

9. Decision to Leave

On MUBI and Prime

Decision to Leave (Heojil kyolshim) unveils a playful, seductive mystery of longing and obsession, masterfully layered and gorgeously framed by acclaimed director and co-writer Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden, Thirst).

10. Aftersun

Premium Prime rental

Writer/director Charlotte Wells’s first feature film moves at a languid pace, but she repays your patience with a rich and melancholy experience. Like Sophia Coppola with her similar Somewhere, Wells and cinematographer Gregory Oke capture palpable longing, nostalgia and heartbreak. And while the loose narrative may frustrate some, as a work of remembrance, Aftersun film delivers something powerful and powerfully impressive.


1.     Moonage Daydream

2.     Fire of Love

3.     All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

4. The Territory

5. Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down

11. The Menu

In theaters

Darkly hilarious, bold, insightful, and an absolute fantasy come to life for anyone who’s ever worked in food service.

12. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

On Prime

Absolutely the most charming film since Paddington 2.

13. X

On Showtime or premium Prime rental

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre meets Boogie Nights. Yes, please.

14. Turning Red

On Disney+

Pixar filmmaker Domee Shi navigates the world of female adolescence with an allegorical tale as charming and adorable as a red panda.


1.     Decision to Leave

2.     All Quiet on the Western Front

3.     Holy Spider

4.     Piggy

5.     Both Sides of the Blade

15. The Northman

On Prime

Classic is exactly how The Northman feels. The story is gritty and grand, the action brutal and the storytelling majestic. 

16. The Woman King

On Prime

In many ways, the film is an exceptionally well-made, old-fashioned historical epic. But as soon as you try to string together a list of similar films, you realize that there are none. 

17. She Said

Premium rental on Prime

Frustrating, powerful and intelligently told – another highlight in cinema’s esteemed tradition of investigative journalism films.

18. God’s Country

On Prime

Measured and often visual storytelling is at work here, in a compelling look at what divides us that’s carried on the shoulders of a sensational lead performance from Thandiwe Newton.


1.     God’s Country

2.     A Love Song

3.     Breaking

4.     The Inspection

5.     Dinner in America

19. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

On Netflix

Rian Johnson’s script is funny, smart and intricate, always staying one step ahead of your questions while he builds the layers of whos and dunnits, only to tear them down and build anew.

20. Mad God

On Shudder

Thirty years in the making, Phil Tippet’s stop-motion nightmare is like a Bosch painting and a Tool video accusing each other of being too lighthearted.

21. Bones and All

In theaters

Luca Guadagnino embraces the strength of the solid YA theme that you have to be who you are, no matter how ugly the world may tell you that is.

Like a warped Stephen King riff on Terrence Malick’s Badlands, Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All is a hauntingly beautiful and achingly savage slice of arthouse horror filmmaking.

Daniel Baldwin

22. All Quiet on the Western Front

On Netflix

Grim, powerful reimagining of the timeless truth: war is hell.

23. Memoria

Best of luck to you. More info HERE

Quiet and precise as if always listening and careful not to disturb, Tilda Swinton once again disappears wholly into a role in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s meditative wonder of a film.

24. Vengeance

On Peacock and VOD

Writer/director B.J. Novak’s feature debut delivers a funny and entertaining mystery caper, self-effacing but not afraid to wander into some dark places, with a social conscience revealed in organic and endearing ways. 

25. Poser

On Showtime and Prime

A mysterious trip inside a local music scene, Poser never fails to surprise.

Villains and heroes, pigs and wolves, Aik Karapetian’s Latvian fairy tale

Squeal is populated with many things strange and unusual, and it’s all the better for it.

Rachel Willis

The Simple Reason Die Hard is a Christmas Movie

by George Wolf

Trust me, I know that listing Die Hard as your favorite Christmas movie hasn’t been clever for a while now. Still, every holiday season the debate continues to bring heated opinions from both sides (and apparently, ancient scriptures).

And this year, the recent passing of actor Clarence Gilyard, Jr. (who played Theo) paired with Violent Night’s cheeky homage to both Die Hard and Die Hard 2 makes those well-drawn battle lines seem a bit fresher.

It was released in July, it isn’t!

But it’s set on Christmas Eve, it is!

No doubt, that December 24th setting does allow for a series of fun, seasonal references.

  • Argyle playing Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” in the limo
  • McClane putting a Santa hat on a dead Tony and writing “H Ho Ho now I have a machine gun” on his sweatshirt
  • Hans telling Theo “It’s Christmas, the time of miracles, so be of good cheer!”
  • “Let It Snow” playing as Argyle drives John and Holly away at the end

All of those are just anecdotal moments. But if we can agree that plot is what happens and story is how it happens, Die Hard is nothing if not a Christmas story.

New York cop John McClane has only traveled 3,000 miles to L.A. so he can see his kids at Christmas, and hopefully reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly. McClane’s visit starts at Nakatomi Plaza because Holly is there attending her office Christmas party.

The Nakatomi party is the only activity in the building because it’s Christmas Eve night, which is precisely why Hans decides to invade when he does.

Could you find a way to replace all of these story beats with ideas that don’t have anything to do with Christmas? Sure you could, but the plot would not be as logical, as organic or as instantly relatable.

And, of course, McClane only wins his climactic showdown with Hans because there’s some tape nearby that was left over from wrapping presents. It could have been masking tape that was sitting there for some other unknown reason, but the Christmas tie-in lets the excitement resonate wonderfully, even before you can say “yippee ki yay!”

Die Hard is a Christmas movie simply because it’s a Christmas story. Without Christmas, it’s not the same movie. It would feel as forced as any of the countless imitators that came after it. McClane might still be a great everyman hero, and Hans could remain an iconic villain (Alan Rickman is perfection), but the entry point for embracing the entire adventure would be much, much, smaller.

Take the whole holiday motif a little further, and Gruber is nothing but a super smooth Grinch. He’s out to steal Christmas – along with the hundreds of millions in the Nakatomi vault – and McClane just wants him to see the error of his ways.

In fact, I like to think Hans’s heart grew three sizes that eventful Christmas Eve.

Right before he hit the ground.


The Altruist

by Hope Madden

You will not see this one coming.

A fascinating amalgamation of absurdism, visual storytelling, mystery and body horror, Matt Smith’s short The Altruist alarms and entertains in equal measure. Menacing images — metal hooks hanging from a ceiling, filthy cellar walls, a woman in a befouled metal framed bed — to set a mood he will puncture in the most remarkable, unexpected and weirdly humorous ways.  

Sound design, too, keeps telling you that you know what is about to happen. And yet, with every passing scene, you are bound to wonder What the hell is going on?

There is a layer of wild absurdity just beneath the expertly crafted horror environment, but Smith has more in store than cheeky sleight of hand. The story of Daniel (Smith) and his lady love (Elizabeth Jackson) mines a revulsion that, though extreme in this case, hits a nerve. And even that doesn’t go where you expect it to go.

Both actors deliver peculiarly lived-in and rounded characters. Jackson, who essentially repeats one line in varying degrees of neediness, defies limitations. Smith, who benefits from more space and dialog to work with, creates a tight mix of anxiety, guilt and longing.

By the time the film turns playfully sexual, well, just try not to be disturbed.

Set design, shot choices and Cronenberg-level viscera demand your constant attention. But more than anything, the film is a masterpiece of imagination. Icky, glorious imagination.

The Altruist begins screening on Bloody Bites from Bloody Disgusting and Screambox on September 19.

Nightmares Film Festival Announces 2022 Sneak Peek

Obstacle Corpse Joins All Star Lineup

Nightmares Film Festival (Oct. 20 to 23) released its limited batch of VIP passes today, along with a teaser of what’s to come at the seventh annual fest – led by a special program called “Returning Terrors” that will premiere the next stories in several audience-favorite genre worlds, each with directors in attendance.

Though fest selections aren’t made until the submissions window closes on Sept. 6, “each year we like to reveal some of the special moments we’re known for early, so creators, fans and studios can get a sense of the spirit of this year’s celebration of genre,” said NFF co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin.

This year’s special programming is headlined by a murderer’s row of indie genre feature follow-ups that continue the stories in their beloved nightmare worlds. The program, called “Returning Terrors,” brings together three hotly anticipated sequels to films that took the genre world by storm when they debuted: 2011’s The FP, 2013’s WNUF Halloween Special and 2016’s The Barn, with each filmmaker bringing the next tale in the series to NFF 2022:

  • The world premiere of WNUF Halloween Special 2’s “Nightmares Cut,” which includes six minutes of retro commercials and other footage only available at NFF. Director Chris LaMartina brings the film (officially titled Out There Halloween Mega Tape) to Columbus and will intro, take Q&A and meet fans.  
  • The world premiere of THE FP 4: EVZ, the conclusion of the FP series, with festival favorite director and star Jason Trost in attending and introducing.
  • The Ohio premiere of The Barn 2, featuring Joe Bob Briggs, Linnea Quigley and Doug Bradley, with director Justin Seaman attending and introducing.

In addition, the unique experiences teased by the fest’s announcement today included:

  • The return of Sunday Secret Screenings, which will include the Midwest premiere of Something in the Dirt from Jusin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
  • The homecoming premiere of horror comedy Obstacle Corpse, from the creators of the Fright Club podcast
  • Return of the legendary Midnight Mind Fuck (plus special stuffed sickbags), called “one of the most dangerous blocks of programming in any festival, anywhere” (Film Coterie)
  • NFF’s influential annual panels, Social Progress Through Horror and The New Distribution, including distributors and studios.

Planning a pilgrimage to the “Cannes of horror” (- iHorror)? It’s a good idea to jump on passes now, says NFF co-founder and Gateway Film Center president Chris Hamel.

“We have a limited number of 150 VIP passes, which offer a seat in every round of films, access to the VIP bar and lounge and in-and-out privileges throughout the fest,” said Hamel. “Because the program is always so in demand, and the in-person experience is so welcoming and unforgettable, our VIP passes always sell out.”

Today’s Lesson

The Blood of the Dinosaurs

by Hope Madden

Joe Badon seems like an odd duck.

Or so his films would suggest. The director/co-writer’s latest absurdity, The Blood of the Dinosaurs —which appears to be related to an upcoming short The Wheel of Heaven—delivers oddball charm and horror in equal measure.

What’s it about? That’s an excellent question, and not a simple one to answer.  

Kids’ TV host Uncle Bobbo (an eerily unblinking Vincent Stalba) wants to teach us where oil comes from. With assistance from his vampire puppet co-host Grampa Universe (voiced by John Davis) and his young helper Purity (Stella Creel), he seeks to enlighten and entertain. And misinform.

What else does Badon hit on? Birth. Death. Choice. 3D glasses. Kitch. Homage. Dinosaurs.

Badon, writing with regular collaborator Jason Kruppa, riffs on old school kids programming almost along the lines of Turbo Kid, Psycho Goreman, maybe even Strawberry Mansion and last year’s Linoleum. The Blood of the Dinosaurs, running a brisk 30 minutes, is far more confined and targeted than these. It feels a bit like an actual episode of something, but something terribly wrongheaded. Sort of a Pee-wee’s Playhouse for sociopaths.

If that does not seem like a ringing endorsement, you’re not reading it correctly.

The film throws a lot at you and not all of it hits, but Stalba’s central performance jibes perfectly with the weird concept to create a show that, quite honestly, I’m sorry I can’t watch every Saturday morning.