As another year comes to a close, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest horror news stories of 2015. There’s been some new classics, several sad passings, and some fantastic stuff on the indie front too. So, let’s take a look at 2015 – a year in horror.
The trailer for one of this year’s most talked about horror movies was revealed in January. Unfriended was a new take on the found-footage genre, that got everyone talking about it’s setting on a computer monitor.
In the indie scene, we saw the launch of the crowdfunding campaign for Scampenstein, which was successfully funded the following month. The animation was supported by Stephen Fry, and focuses on a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein’s who wants to create a re-animated dog monster.
In Ohio, a teacher got herself into trouble when she screened The ABCs of Death to her class. Sheila Kearns showed the film to the 14-18 year old students, though she claimed to have had her back turned during the most graphic scenes in the movie.
Sadly, we said goodbye to American Horror Story actor Ben Woolf in February 2015. Woolf, who was 34, was injured in a road accident that tragically killed him on February 24th. As well as a respected actor, Ben Woolf was also a pre-school teacher.
It seems much longer ago, but in the same month Lady Gaga was revealed as Jessica Lange’s replacement as lead actress in the series. While we’ve almost reached the end of her rule over the Hotel, but at this stage all we had was a title and a star.
John Carpenter also released his first album this year. Lost Themes was released on Sacred Bone Records, and Carpenter says he based the synth heavy atmospheric tunes on imaginary movies he envisioned in his mind.
Also, in another awesome Women in Horror Month, Patricia Chica released a segment for the Soska Sisters PSA. The Soska Sisters and Women in Horror invited award winning Canadian filmmaker Patricia Chica to present her darkly comic short Ripe N’ Bloody for inclusion in the anthology of films from female horror filmmakers across the world.
March saw the release of It Follows, the low-budget horror movie that got everyone talking. Released on March 13th, the film gained attention for it’s skewing of many horror tropes. The quality of the film’s style, originality and score achieved high praise in the horror community – especially as it was only the director’s second movie. Impressively, It Follows went from a very limited release to a widespread one, though word of mouth.
We also got the announcement for Scream Queens in March. It was revealed at this point that Emma Roberts would star – and she appeared in a teaser. We also got pretty excited that Jamie Lee Curtis was returning to her horror roots in the series.
Godzilla fans also got to start planning their dream holiday, when the Hotel Gracery in Tokyo opened. The 30 story hotel transformed many of it’s areas to feature the monster, and added a giant statue of him to the exterior. For $334 a night (or $417 a night at weekends) guests can stay in the Godzilla Room, which features a large kaiju statue, as well as various pieces of memorabilia from the film.
Gamers had something to celebrate this April when a film adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s was confirmed. Warner Bros. secured the rights to the franchise, which gained huge popularity thanks to terrifying Let’s Play videos on YouTube.
In one of the most interesting horror castings of the year, Johnny Galecki confirmed he would be starring in the next installment of the US The Ring franchise. The actor, who is best known for playing Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory, did appear in a horror movie back in the 90s – but Rings is his first major horror role.
We also saw the launch of a new type of horror experience in April. The first horror project to utilize Occulus Rift technology, Into The Further 4D was a traveling tour which offered a fusion of analogue and digital effects to recreate ‘the further’ from the film franchise.
May saw a huge success for indie horror gaming, when Perception met it’s Kickstarter goal. The game is a unique premise, with a blind central character echolocating their way through a mansion while avoiding a nefarious force.
2015 also saw the return of Ash, with the first teaser for Ash vs. Evil Dead generating a lot of excitement in May.
In the same month, Unfriended shocked the box office when it held up in the top ten. Highly unusual for a horror film, especially with a budget of around $1 million, the movie was highly profitable despite the lack of promotion.
CryptTV launched their One Minute Horror webseries this year too. The project, which showcased ultra-short horror films, was directed and created by Shane Leary. The digital network – which we’re proud members of – was co-founded by Eli Roth, and has been producing increasingly awesome indie horror this year.
Sadly we also had to say goodbye to horror’s most famous mother this year. Betsy Palmer, the actress who played Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th and its sequel passed away age 88 this year. Although she admitted that she only took the role to buy a new car, she warmed to the horror community through her life and made many convention appearances.
The horror community was in shock when one of our most longstanding members passed away. Sir Christopher Lee died on Sunday 7th June aged 93, after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure. Among his over 250 film appearances were many classic horror films, most notably Hammer’s Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations. He also marked his 92nd birthday by releasing an album of heavy metal cover.
June saw the release of a documentary which attracted attention from the horror community. The Nightmare, which premiered at Sundance, focuses on the experiences of individuals who suffer from sleep paralysis. Directed by Rodney Ascher, who also created Room 237 – a documentary on fans of The Shining – the film blended documentary style with horror style re-creations.
GSN greenlit eight episodes of a new horror-themed game show, Hellevator in June. Produced by Matador and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Prods in association with Lionsgate TV, the series takes the form of challenges based on horrific legends.
AMC also launched their horror specific streaming service. In June, Shudder launched it’s beta and promised to deliver a varied library of horror films over the next few years.
An Alien fan gave us a fantastic new take on the franchise when he created a new cut of Alien and Prometheus. The result is one two-and-a-half-hour long film with dual narratives that switches back and forth between the crew of Prometheus and the crew of Alien’s ship, the Nostromo.
We’ve seen it take over the box office this Christmas, but it was back in July that we saw the first artwork for Krampus.
Irwin Keyes, a character actor who had notable roles in the Coen brothers’ Intolerable Cruelty as well as many horror films, passed away in July. Sadly the actor, who appeared in House of 1,000 Corpses, died of complications from acromegaly, a pituitary gland disorder.
We saw a unique take on horror gaming too, with The Flock’s launch. Every time a player dies in the game, one life will be removed from the total population of the “Flock”. When the counter reaches zero, the game disappears.
A trailer caused a stir in August when it was dubbed one of the scariest ever released. Goodnight Mommy, while it probably wasn’t as scary as the hype made out, did get a lot of people talking about the international horror scene.
We got our first look at some of American Horror Story: Hotel’s characters in the same month. We’re now familiar with them, but this was our first introduction to many of this seasons most memorable characters.
In somewhat of an upbeat story, a couple got engaged at an iconic horror location. Alec Wells proposed to his girlfriend Katherine Canipe at the California block where an iconic scene from Halloween was filmed. Wells re-created Laurie’s first glimpse of Michael Myers in the iconic movie. Wells and Canipe, both 30, are horror film fanatics who host a horror podcast called Boys and Ghouls.
On the 30th of August this year, we lost one of horror’s most iconic names. Wes Craven, who’s contribution to horror included A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, passed away age 76 as a result of brain cancer. Tributes to the director came from all over the film industry, with many fans creating artwork in his memory.
We got a fun little re-creation of horror history in September. To count down to the premier of Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, Jamie Lee Curtis posted the above image of herself recreating the iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Of course, horror fans will know that Marion Crane – the victim in the scene being killed by Norman Bates – was played by Jamie Lee Curtis’ real life mother, Janet Leigh.
The tributes to horror legend Wes Craven kept coming through the month. Fred Armisen donned a red-and-green striped tie, as well as the iconic glove, on the red carpet at the Emmys in tribute to the director. It was announced over the weekend through a Bloody Disgusting exclusive that Varèse Sarabande will be releasing an eight-disc collection of the music from the Nightmare On Elm Street series. Entertainment Weekly announced that Mark Patton would return to Springwood for a crowdfunded documentary focusing on the homoerotic undertones of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.
We got a first real look at what to expect from Ash vs Evil Dead with titles and synopsis info being revealed.
And over in the indie scene, we got a first look at a beautiful animated Pow adaptation. Extraordinary Tales is a six part anthology animation which brings to life some of Poe’s greatest stories. We revealed the trailer in September, which showcased the awesome animation. The film also holds the privilege of featuring one of Christopher Lee’s final performances.
In the spookiest month of the year, horror got an unlikely new community member. After the success of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson revealed his interest in making a horror movie. In a conversation at the Rome Film Festival with author Donna Tartt, Anderson revealed he may take his most promising risk yet by making a horror film.
Organizers in Colorado revealed their plans to build what is being called the world’s first horror-themed museum. The venue: the Stanley Hotel, which famously inspired guest Stephen King to create The Overlook Hotel in his 1977 bestseller The Shining. Denver Business Journal reported that an organisation called Go NoCO was working with the hotel to raise $24 million to create a 43,000-square-foot horror film center. In addition to the museum, the grounds would also home a film archive, 500-seat auditorium, and production studio with a 3,000-foot soundstage and post-production and editing suites.
A new website launched specifically to review films based on factors important to horror fans. Reel Scary rates horror movies based on three factors: “disturb,” “gore,” and “suspense.” Users submit reviews just like they would on a site like Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB, except instead of rating overall quality, you are rating how scary it is based on these three independent factors.
And we could count on the Halloween season to bring us some bizarre horror viral stories. We probably could have done without seeing Donald Trump digitally added to scary movie scenes. But ever horror fan collectively melted a little when this video surfaced of a baby owl dancing to the Monster Mash.
There was massive success for indie horror short Night of the Slasher in November, when it competed for OSCAR Eligibility. The film was up for Best Narrative Short at two Oscar® qualifying festivals; the St. Louis International Film Festival in Missouri, USA and the Foyle Film Festival in Ireland. Henry Selick (Director of Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) saw the film at the Telluride Horror Show and said, “I really loved ‘Night of the Slasher’! It’s smart, clever, and funny!”
After a long internet history, Creepypasta finally hit the mainstream media. In November, we learned that SyFy channel picked up the anthology show Channel Zero for two six-episode seasons. The first season of Channel Zero is based on the creepypasta Candle Cove.
A horror veteran spoke out about her issues with the genre in it’s current form. Dee Wallace, who’s horror career includes The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners and Halloween explained that many of todays films two critical elements: characters and plot development. The actress explained : “ I don’t think we have true horror films anymore. We have slasher films. There is a huge difference. A real horror film takes time to develop the characters and develop the relationships. Otherwise you don’t really care as much if you are losing somebody.”
In the final month of 2015, Alien fans got the news they’d been waiting for. Ridley Scott confirmed that the next film in the franchise, titled Alien: Covenant, will be filled with zenomorphs. All the Xenomorph variants that that have appeared throughout the franchise will be making appearances.
Horror and censorship have a long and complicated history, and another issue concerning the rating of films cropped up this month. Rob Zombie’s latest horror movie, 31 has found itself in a battle with the MPAA who have refused it an R certificate twice. “Well, after two tries through the MPAA our rating on 31 remains NC-17,” wrote Zombie on his Facebook page. “Maybe three is the charm to get an R rating. Why R you ask? Well, because your local theater will not show an NC-17. Even though you are a fucking adult… things [must] be censored for your enjoyment.”
31 wasn’t the only evil clown movie in the press though. CLOWNTOWN is a new horror feature about a group of friends stranded in a small town who are stalked by a gang of violent psychopaths dressed as clowns. The movie is inspired by the clowns who terrorised Bakersfield, CA, in 2014 and revealed it’s first trailer this month.
And finally, we got some updates from indie director Megan Freels Johnston. The director has been gaining attention in the indie horror community for her film Rebound and revealed in December details about her latest project. The Ice Cream Truck is set to shoot in Spring of 2016 and is already gaining traction as a semi-finalist in the Circus Road Screenplay Competition.