The Week in Horror: Maniac, Blood Quantum, Hellraiser + More

Happy Sunday, fiends! How goes quarantine? Watching anything good? Joe Bob played Maniac on this week’s The Last Drive-In. This is a movie that can be a tough watch. It exudes sleaze, shot in and New York City at the dawn of the 1980s. Director Bill Lustig created a down and dirty urban slasher, but there are touches of European cinema, a heartfelt portrayal of a man spiralling through his own psychotic mind, and a pathos the film’s reputation overshadows. Lustig was already a damn fine director on his (legitimate) debut feature and would go on to make even better films with Vigilante, Maniac Cop, and Relentless, among others. Star Joe Spinell created a pitiable character in Frank Zito, but who one could also turn terrifying at a moment’s notice. The film also features some incredible special effects as well as one of the great head explosions, courtesy of Tom Savini.

Blood Quantum, the second feature from indigenous filmmaker Jeff Baraby, who wrote, directed, produced, and composed the music for the film, debuted on Shudder this week.

“The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gmaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are immune to the zombie plague. Traylor (Greyeyes), the tribal sheriff, must protect his son’s pregnant girlfriend, apocalyptic refugees, and reserve riffraff from the hordes of walking white corpses.”

I haven’t had the chance to sit down with this one yet, but I’ve seen the trailer a couple of times and to me, it looks like a film that could have as positive an effect of the zombie genre as Train to Busan. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I’m looking forward to sitting down on my day off to enjoy it.

We have to say goodbye to writer/director John J Lafia, who co-wrote the original Child’s Play and directed the first sequel. Lafia also directed The Blue Iguana and Man’s Best Friend among others. He was 63.

After years in development, Lovecraft Country will finally hit screens as a series for HBO Max. Based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel, about a man named Atticus Freeman travelling across Jim Crow era America in search of his father. Freeman is played by Jonathan Majors, who are joined by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Courtney B Vance, and Michael Kenneth Williams. I haven’t read the book, but by the look of the trailer, this is going to be a hell of a ride with our heroes facing Lovecraftian monsters as well as all too human monsters. The series is produced by Misha Green, JJ Abrams, and Jordan Peele and will premier in August.

A little closer, June 21st to be exact, the second season of Joe Hill’s N0S4A2. The first season was based on his novel of the same name and followed Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), a teenage girl with the paranormal ability to find lost things and transport herself to them and a vampiric, old creature in a fancy antique car, named Charlie Manx (Zachery Quinto) who kidnaps children to prolong his wretched life. To me, most of season one worked exceptionally well, and compared to the other Joe Hill adaptation, Locke and Key (Netflix), N0S4A2 is the superior show. Season two will do an 8-year time jump in Vic’s life and put her 8-year-old son in the crossfire of her battle against Manx. The trailer looks excellent and you can find the show on AMC.

The first two Hellraiser films, based on Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, are beloved modern classics of horror with several decent to subpar sequels that tarnish how special those original films were. Every few years we’ve gotten a new film, just so Dimension could retain the rights. Often a sequel is based on a non-Hellraiser screenplay, with Pinhead shoe-horned in. To me, the first five films are excellent, the next two are watchable, the two after that are an abomination, and the last one is a pretty good return to form, even if it’s a bit too close, story-wise, to part 5, Inferno.

The week before last, it was revealed that a new adaptation is on the way to the big screen, but this week we learned that HBO Max has ordered a series as well. One reason to NOT roll your eyes at this story is that some of the early episodes will be directed by Halloween 2018’s David Gordon Green! While the feature from Spyglass Entertainment will be a retelling of the story, the series will simply be a continuation, keeping the core mythology intact, which makes it sound like a series akin to the comic series we’ve gotten from Boom! and Epic Comics. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more details. Hellraiser and the work of Clive Barker, in general, are hugely important to me and this is some of the best news regarding the Cenobites that I’ve heard in years!

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