Mike Mendez’s Demonic Nun Horror Film ‘The Convent’ Returns to Theaters in October! [Retro Nightmares]

Just in time to kick off the Halloween season, five HD digitally remastered cult horror classics are coming to the big screen as part of the “Bloody Disgusting Presents Retro Nightmares” Cinema Series. Films screening every Thursday starting on September 27th, 2018 include The House on Sorority Row, Amityville: The Evil Escapes, Amityville: It’s About Time, Sweet Sixteen, and The Convent.

We’re going to talk about the latter film today.

With New Line Cinema’s The Nun kicking the box office’s ass this past weekend, I’ve been seeing a lot of people ask what other “nun-themed” horror films are out there. One of the coolest is Mike Mendez‘s ultraviolent The Convent, his 2000 indie splatter film inspired by Night of the Demons. Screening on October 11th in a special double feature with Sweet Sixteen, The Convent follows a group of college students who break into an abandoned convent and become possessed by demonic spirits.

“I’ve always thought it was a fun slice of silliness,” Mendez tells us when reflecting back on the film. “I’ve always been happy we got to make something so weird. I have no idea if it has aged for better or worse. I guess we’ll find out!”

While the film came out in 2000, it’s actually a product of the 1990’s and feels as such, specifically because of how it was shot.

“It would make sense we shot it in 1999. I just like writing that out, 1999, it sounds so retro-futuristic,” Mendez joked. “I think part of the reason it has that 90’s vibe is cause it was shot on 35mm film. It being shot on film certainly gives it a nostalgic feel that can’t quite be replicated now.”

Reflecting back 18 years later, Mendez also tells us some of the things he loves how his film,

“I like that it’s about demon nuns, long before that became a mainstream thing. I enjoy, it’s lack of cynicism.

“It’s just meant to be fun, like a Halloween party. It’s just a spooky good time.”

One of the coolest aspects of The Convent is the use of blacklights. It’s a unique look that’s never quite been replicated.

“That choice came from my lack of faith in CGI at the time,” he reveals. “A very talented friend of mine, Screaming Mad George, turned me onto these blacklight reactive contact lenses. Since we were going to have the powerful UV lights there for the contacts, it inspired us to start using it in other ways, like the fluorescent blood. It was just something I hadn’t really seen before.”

Outside of Night of the Demons, Mendez lists two other classics as influences.

“Well, I’m still majorly influenced by Evil Dead 2. At the time I recall Lamberto Bava’s Demons being a huge influence as well.”

The film features an appearance by Coolio, and Mendez shares this short, but fun anecdote.

“We hired Coolio through his pot dealer. On set, you could challenge to play him on PlayStation, but it would cost you 5 dollars. If you beat him, he would owe you 5 dollars. True story.”

Time may have forgotten, but The Convent is an independent film and a festival hit that started out of the Sundance Film Festival.

“I remember it being a really fun screening,” remembers Mendez. “The whole festival run for that film was tremendous, to be honest. It kind of spoiled me. My future films had to live up to the festival experiences with The Convent, and often they didn’t.”

In fans getting a chance to experience this on the big screen for the first time:

“I hope they have fun, this was always meant to be a midnight movie and to be seen with a crowd. So I’m super thankful people will get the chance again.”

For the future of the film, Mendez hopes we’ll eventually see a proper Blu-ray release. Hopefully, this screening series will remind people of the cult classic that’s been sitting on their doorstep for the past 18 years.

Tickets are on sale now at www.Retronightmares.com for theaters nationwide with exclusive in-theater content. Bloody Disgusting presents this nationwide event from independent distribution company Multicom Entertainment Group, Inc. and global event cinema leader Trafalgar Releasing.

[Editorial] Can We Talk About the Bizarre Casting of Taissa Farmiga in ‘The Nun’?

On paper, the casting of Taissa Farmiga in Corin Hardy’s The Nun was a fun and perhaps even inspired choice, as Taissa’s sister Vera Farmiga is of course synonymous with The Conjuring Universe, starring in the main series of films as the real life Lorraine Warren. In execution, however, it has proven to be one of the strangest casting decisions in recent years.

Obviously, this article will contain spoilers for The Nun, so feel free to turn away now. Also, this is not a review of the film, but if you’d like to read ours, Scott Weinberg has ya covered.

To make one thing perfectly clear right off the bat, I am personally a big fan of Taissa Farmiga, an incredibly talented young actress who has been killing it in the horror genre. Farmiga, in many ways, is a modern day “scream queen,” a frequent star of “American Horror Story” who turned in perhaps her best genre performance in 2015’s horror-comedy, The Final Girls.

Taissa Farmiga is great. I love Taissa Farmiga.

Now here’s the problem. In The Nun, Taissa Farmiga plays Sister Irene, who for much of the film has not yet actually committed to being a nun. Over the course of the film, we learn that Sister Irene has paranormal super-powers, so to speak, as her whole life she’s had visions that eventually allow her to overcome the evil entity Valak in Romania, in 1952.

Yes, The Nun is set in 1952, twenty years before the events of The Conjuring. And Taissa Farmiga is exactly twenty years younger than her older sister, Vera Farmiga. And yet, The Nun‘s biggest twist is that there’s not actually a final act twist at all. Somehow, Taissa Farmiga’s Sister Irene does not actually grow up to become Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine Warren.

The Nun‘s connection to The Conjuring films, instead, is far less compelling, with the final moments of Corin Hardy’s film taking us directly into a scene from The Conjuring; it’s in those final moments that we learn that a character from The Nun was actually the same man featured in footage Ed and Lorraine Warren showed off to a classroom in The Conjuring.

It was a possessed Maurice (aka “Frenchie”) who introduced Lorraine to Valak.

So why then was Taissa Farmiga cast to play Sister Irene in The Nun, a character that ends up having no connection whatsoever to her sister’s Lorraine Warren? It’s a downright befuddling choice, to say the very least, as Taissa Farmiga and Vera Farmiga look *so much* alike. Taissa is a dead ringer for a young Vera, and the film’s timeline works out perfectly for Sister Irene to have eventually moved away from being a nun and into being a demon-fighting hero. And again, Sister Irene and Lorraine Warren even have the same set of supernatural skills.

Essentially, the film seems to be working overtime to set up Irene being Lorraine, or at least a relative, but then nothing ever comes of the seemingly obvious connection. It’s not just a huge missed opportunity, but also a hugely confusing aspect of The Nun. Literally *any* actor could’ve been cast to play Irene, so why Vera’s doppelganger if it means absolutely nothing?

The decision is especially confusing because The Nun actually does jump ahead 20 years in its final moments, from Taissa to Vera. And yet, there’s weirdly no link between the two. If you left the theater wondering whether the film had poorly conveyed to you that Irene and Lorraine are the same person, well, just know that you weren’t alone in being incredibly confused.

Granted, the real life Lorraine Warren never spent any time in her youth as a nun, but when have horror movies ever been beholden to reality? The Nun easily could’ve had a compelling connection to the core Conjuring films, showing us a young Lorraine’s very first battle with Valak. By not featuring that twist, the film’s casting instead muddies its own waters.

A real horror head-scratcher, this one.

‘Blood Fest’ Blu-ray Includes Slashed Scenes

After taking over screens this summer, horror-comedy Blood Fest unleashes its terror and laughs on a bonus-packed Blu-ray+DVD combo pack October 2, 2018.

Blood Fest follows fans who flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman (Egerton) behind the event has a diabolical agenda. As festival attendees start dying off, three teenagers (Kay, Gabriel, Batalon) more schooled in horror-film clichés than practical knowledge about neutralizing psycho killers must band together and battle through various madmen and monstrosities to survive.

Starring Robbie Kay (Peter Pan in Once Upon a Time, Hannibal Rising), Seychelle Gabriel (The Spirit, Falling Skies, Weeds), Jacob Batalon (Avengers: Infinity War, Spiderman: Homecoming), and Rooster Teeth’s own Barbara Dunkelman (RWBY) with Tate Donovan (Manchester by the Sea, Argo) and featuring a to-die-for cameo by Zachary Levi (Thor: Ragnarok,TV’s Chuck), the film is written and directed by Owen Egerton (Follow, author of the novel The Book of Harold, the Illegitimate Son of God).

The film premiered at SXSW 2018 and screened at the Cleveland, Fantaspoa and Edinburgh International Film Festivals before its packed screening at RTX, followed by a nationwide Fathom release and day-and-date theatrical, digital and On Demand launch in August.

BONUS FEATURES:

  • The Art and Design of BLOOD FEST
  • BLOOD FEST VFX Breakdown
  • “Gus Fest”
  • Slashed Scenes
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary

Bloody Disgusting recently shared an exclusive clip from the Rooster Teeth production in which fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. The footage takes us to an ultraviolent scene early in the film, just after hell is unleashed upon the guests, where horror-themed characters slaughter anyone in their path. There’s more blood in this clip than in any other horror film this year:

Producer Updates That ‘The Conjuring 3’ Will Likely Be Filming Next Year

Every single film in The Conjuring‘s cinematic universe has been a smash hit at the box office thus far, with The Nun exceeding expectations this past weekend to amass the franchise’s biggest opening weekend to date. What’s next? Annabelle 3 is in the works, a Crooked Man spinoff is also being developed, and yes, we’re soon getting The Conjuring 3.

Speaking with Cinema Blend, producer Peter Safran updates that everything is moving along on the Conjuring 3 front, with David Leslie Johnson (The Conjuring 2) penning the script.

It’s actually coming along great,” Safran told the site. “David Leslie Johnson is working on the screenplay, and I feel pretty confident they will have that one up and running next year.”

At this time, we don’t yet know where the third film will take Patrick Wilson‘s Ed Warren and Vera Farmiga‘s Lorraine Warren, but we at Bloody Disgusting have heard that James Wan will *not* be directing The Conjuring 3. A bummer, to be sure, but the Conjuring Universe has thus far had little problem snagging directors who are up to the task of continuing Wan’s work.

More as we learn it.

Gareth Evans Shares Hellish ‘Apostle’ Teaser; Trailer Next Week!

This fall, the director of The Raid is getting revenge. Already previewed a few weeks backGareth Evans has shared a short teaser for the forthcoming Apostle trailer release (expect it on September 17th) that looks like flashes of Hell. The film will World Premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest before streaming worldwide on Netflix on October 12, 2018.

“Legion” and The Guest‘s Dan Stevens is featured with Underworld franchise star Michael Sheen.

Evans also co-directed the segment ‘Safe Haven’ in our own V/H/S/2, looks to be returning to the world of sadistic cults in his latest film, which picks up in London, 1905.

Prodigal son Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) has returned home, only to learn that his sister is being held for ransom by a religious cult. Determined to get her back at any cost, Thomas travels to the idyllic island where the cult lives under the leadership of the charismatic Prophet Malcolm (Michael Sheen). As Thomas infiltrates the island’s community, he learns that the corruption of mainland society that they claim to reject has infested the cult’s ranks nonetheless – and uncovers a secret far more evil than he could have imagined. Apostle is a harrowing occult fable where the only thing more horrifying than madness is the sinister reality behind it.

Lucy Boynton, Bill Millner, and Kristine Froseth also star.

[Review] Underbaked ‘Slice’ Fails to Deliver

Opening with an exposition dump by way of grainy promo video, the town of Kingfisher is introduced as a haven for both humans and ghosts alike. Or rather, a place where ghosts have been segregated to their own little, isolated spot in the city and other forms of supernatural creatures long chased away. But tensions between the factions rise when pizza delivery drivers are targeted and slain, and a disgraced werewolf is the main suspect.

This may be a world of ghosts, werewolves, and witches, but it’s not horror. Writer/director Austin Vesely’s feature debut delivers its overt societal metaphor in a tonal mashup of sitcom, cartoon, music video convention, and pulpy detective noir. Though the setting of Kingfisher is very specific on a surface level, at least in terms of population statistics, that’s about the only aspect of the narrative that feels fully developed.

The first pizza delivery driver to meet his demise, Sean (Austin Vesely), is the inciting event that sends his ex-girlfriend Astrid (Deadpool 2’s Zazie Beetz) back to her old job at the pizza parlor to find his murderer and enact vigilante justice. A pair of dimwitted detectives are also on the case, and so is intrepid journalist Sadie (Rae Gray). The mayor and a group of ghost rights activists deal with the murder spree on the political front, rounding out an ensemble of caricatures destined for collision.

There’s a lot of charm to be found in Slice. Some really clever ideas and funny gags that work. When Chance the Rapper does finally make an appearance as main suspect Dax, he’s instantly endearing as the clueless but heartfelt delivery driver that simply wants to deliver quality Chinese food for affordable prices. Emphasis on quality. He’s best when playing against the film’s sole intelligent character, Sadie, who’s five steps ahead of him even though he’s been trying to deduce the central mystery for far longer.

The problem is that what works is stuck between a lot of terrible dialogue, jokes that fall flat, and an overall lack of identity with pacing issues to boot. The villains are over the top cartoonish, and many of the main players aren’t fully realized. Astrid is the lead protagonist, but we never know much about her beyond her undeterred quest for vengeance on Sean’s behalf, and the reasoning behind it seems murky and puzzling at best. That sums up the town of Kingfisher as a whole; not much of it is explained. The characters just haphazardly come together in the end and the final reveal turned battle is also a bit confused and lackluster.  The werewolf fares the worst of all, only barely showing up near the end and with abysmal design.

Slice would have worked so much better as a series versus a feature length film. It’s somewhat episodic already in how Vesely chose to weave in the different characters’ stories, and the humor feels more akin to a sitcom series. It also would’ve allowed the story more time to fully develop the characters and interesting supernatural world of Kingfisher. As it stands, Slice is an 83-minute film that somehow feels stretched out longer than it should be, both because of pacing issues and because there’s zero mystery behind the central narrative mystery. A puerile comedy with bursts of greatness, this is a film for those looking for pure silly, nonsensical fun and nothing more.

Music Box of Horrors’ 24-Hour Marathon Brings ‘Child’s Play’ Creator Don Mancini to Chicago

The famous Music Box here in Chicago has revealed its massive lineup for their annual Music Box of Horrors’ 24-hour long marathon, which takes placeSaturday, October 13th at Noon (doors open at 11am) and runs through Sunday, October 14th at Noon. The highlight is the screening of Tom Holland’s Child’s Play, which celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary and will be hosted by franchise creator and writer (and recent director) Don Mancini!

It also promises to obliterate your sanity as they journey to the land of Australia for some skin-melting-goop-debauchery, revel in the gleeful delight of two of horrors greatest villains battling to the death, crash land into a hellscape of vamp-infused alien invasion, a sadistic desert-commune living cult leader cum magician, a tale of two sisters and the primate that tears them apart, and oh so much more!

Films Slated to be Shown:

LORD OF ILLUSIONS with Kevin J. O’Connor in person! – Dir. Clive Barker, 1995, 101mins, 35mm

CHILD’S PLAY with Don Mancini in person! – Dir. Tom Holland, 1988, 87mins, 35mm

THE LODGER with Live Score by False Gods Trio – Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1927, 91mins, DCP

BLAME IT ON TOBY with cast and crew, Midwest Premeire! – Dir. Richard Knight, Jr., 2018, 52mins, DCP

THE CHILDREN Chicago Theatrical Premiere! – Dir. Tom Shankland, 2008, 84mins, DCP

FREDDY VS. JASON – Dir. Ronny Yu , 2003, 97mins, 35mm

BODY MELT – Dir. Philip Brophy, 1993, 81mins, 35mm

FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 – Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace, 1988, 104mins, 35mm

WICKED, WICKED in Duo-Vision! – Dir. Richard L. Bare, 1973, 95mins, 35mm

GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL – Dir. Hajime Satô, 1968, 84mins, 35mm

THE MAFU CAGE – Dir. Karen Arthur, 1978, 102mins, 35mm

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS – Dir. Michael A. Simpson, 1988, 80mins, 35mm

Wait Until You See These Wicked ‘Venom’ Art Posters

Designed by LA (who did the awesome Glass and Assassination Nation posters) and shared by IMP Awards come a series of graphic one-sheets for Sony’s Venom, which becomes one in theaters this coming October. Any one of these are welcomed on my wall this fall.

Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock in Sony’s comic adaptation.

The movie is inspired by “Venom: Lethal Protector”, a six-episode limited series that gave Venom his first turn as an antihero. In it, Eddie Brock (Venom) moves to San Francisco where he’s captured and has a small portion of symbiote seeds plucked from his suit. They’re in turn used to create offspring of the Venom SymbioteScream, Phage, Riot, Lasher, and Agony.

As for “Planet of the Symbiotes”, another inspiration, Eddie Brock’s relationship is with his symbiote and the influence it has on him is explored. Also written by Michelinie, “Planet of the Symbiotes” follows Venom fighting an army of symbiotes with the help of Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider. (IGN)

Woody Harrelson is rumored to be playing Cletus Kasady, who becomes the vicious symbiote known as Carnage, alongside Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott.

The Ruben Fleischer-directed adaptation set for release on October 5, 2018.

A24’s ‘Slice’ Being Delivered to VOD Outlets Tomorrow, September 11!

We learned last week that A24’s pizza-themed slasher Slice was hitting select theaters *today*, one night only, and wouldn’t know it, it’s also surprise-dropping on VOD this week!

A24 announced tonight that Slice is coming to digital and on demand Tuesday, September 11.

Slice stars Chance the Rapper, with Zazie BeetzPaul Scheer, and Will Brill (Eyes Of My Mother, “The OA”). It follows a pizza delivery driver who is murdered on the job, leaving the city searching for someone to blame: ghosts? drug dealers? a disgraced werewolf?

In a spooky small town, when a slew of pizza delivery boys are slain on the job, two daring survivors (Beetz and Chance the Rapper) set out to catch the culprits behind the cryptic crime spree.

Watch the trailer below, while you wait for this tasty delivery.

Austin Vesely wrote and directed Slice.

‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Star Lana Condor Joins Sci-fi Film ‘Warning’

The career of actress Lana Condor is headed skyward in the wake of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Deadline reports tonight that her next film will bring her into the genre arena. Condor and Benedict Samuel are the latest to join the cast of Warning, a future-set sci-fi film.

In the film, directed by Agata Alexander…

“Warning explores loneliness, death and the meaning of life when vastly disparate lives collide in interweaving stories set in a near future Earth.”

Previously announced cast includes James D’Arcy (Homeland, Dunkirk), Laura Harrier (BlacKkKlansman, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Charlotte Le Bon (The Hundred-Foot Journey), Mena Massoud (Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin, Amazon’s Jack Ryan), and Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike).

The movie is based on an original screenplay by Alexander, Rob Michaelson and Jason Kaye. Cybill Lui is producing the project under her Anova Pictures banner.