Spiral – A Fresh and Faithful Addition To The Family

Spiral is a brand new beast with legs strong enough to stand on its own while still fitting nicely into the Saw family franchise and the lore that came before. It is at once fresh and faithful, reverent of its lineage but not so much of an homage that its afraid to spread its wings and become its own brand new entity. Thankfully, it was given the necessary space to cut loose and fly rather than prematurely clipping its wings. From The Book of Saw, a story is birthed and emerges, something akin to a proud parent sending a child out into the world with certain foundations in place coupled with complete freedom to grow and evolve.

To label it “another Saw movie” would be unfair to both the existing installments in the franchise which so intricately weaves story and timeline together and unfair to this original new entry. Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera) and writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (Jigsaw, Piranha 3D) offer up an expansion to the universe in which Jigsaw exists. Chris Rock’s quippy levity is a nice balance to the guts and gore of the twisted games fans have come to love over the course of eight Saw films. Max Minghella is charming as the rookie cop assigned as reluctant Detective Zeke Banks’ (Chris Rock) eager new partner. Marisol Nichols is a take-no-shit badass as Captain of the precinct and of course, Samuel L. Jackson as Det. Banks’ father is likely exactly what you’d hope he’d be, motherfu**er!

You don’t need to watch all eight Saw films before diving into Spiral, but it certainly adds to the fun. This works as a standalone which is great for new or casual fans, but also is a fun nod to the series and the spirit of the franchise for existing fans. A real benefit of having a director and writers who have previously worked and created within the franchise is the way they were able to keep the spirit alive while deviating and breaking away in ways that strengthened this new story. Overall this new installment feels closer to a police procedural, where the majority of the existing movies take place largely from within Jigsaw’s traps, this one takes us on the outside following along with Detective Banks as the clock ticks against him and his colleagues. It feels accessible to new fans in a way that allows them to watch this as their introduction to the world and then dive into the rest of the series and essentially experience those as prequels. So don’t shy away from this if you’re not eight Saw films deep. This movie works well for both camps and I’m excited to see more of this universe it has blown wide open, ripe for the storytelling.

After the delay from its original May 2020 release date, Spiral heralds a collective triumphant return to movie theaters. It’s popcorn season and we are just getting started! See you at the theater.

Spiral spins into theaters this Friday, May 14th.

Check out the opening scene from the movie (warning, it’s brutal!)


Fried Barry And Birdhouses – Ryan Kruger Interview

Ryan Kruger’s Fried Barry is a wild wild ride to say the least. Gritty, grimy, gross. Those are the three words that first come to mind when watching. The main question on my mind while watching this film- why is South Africa so horny? Director Ryan Kruger joined us fresh out of Fantasia Fest to chat all things Barry and shows off his handmade quarantine chopstick birdhouse. Read my original (spoiler free review) here

Fried Barry is now streaming on Shudder

Complete Unofficial Movie List From In Search Of Darkness I + II

In Search Of Darkness II is now on Shudder and if you’re like me, maybe you wanted a list of every movie mentioned in parts one and two. So here’s a gorgeously put together syllabus courtesy of my very organized and wonderful friend @TheDezz !

Here’s a link to the complete Part I list on Letterboxd
The complete Part II list on Letterboxd

And some beautiful graphic lists:

Continue reading Complete Unofficial Movie List From In Search Of Darkness I + II

HorrorGirl Problems: Fangoria Chainsaw Awards The Morning After w Director Xanthe – Podcast Ep 35

Xanthe Pajarillo is here fresh off directing the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards. Join as us we chat the challenges of virtual production, trials and triumphs and ultimately – the importance of making the most of what you’ve got!

Did you miss the live stream? You can check out both the pre-show and the big event in this post

Twitter: @xanthepajarillo

Watch 2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Pre-Show + Full Awards Ceremony

Wow! What a wonderfully wild week and a most magical night. I don’t know if I will ever return to my body after this out of body experience. Getting to chat with so many people I respect and admire greatly… well let’s just say I’m still scraping my brain matter off the walls and attempting to stuff it all back into my skull. Eternally grateful.

Thank you to Fangoria for inviting me to be part of this. Big thanks to Gigi Saul Guerrero, Barbara Crampton, Josh Stolberg, Travis Stevens, Sarah Lind and Sam Zimmerman. And thanks to everyone who tuned in, sent lovely words of support, kept the chat fun and lively, it was great to see so many familiar names on the feed. I wish I could go back and read all the comments but apparently I would have needed to do a screen recording for that to happen!! If you missed the pre-show live stream you can check it out here:

And if you missed the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards (or if you just want to rewatch it like I have maybe a few times now) you can check that out on YouTube. I believe it will also be on Shudder at some point. What a production! Congrats to everyone who pulled this off, I know it delivered a straight shot of glee to my guts and the sentiment seems to be overwhelmingly similar. David was an incredible host and it was so much fun to watch the presenters and winners videos. Congratulations to all winners, nominees, and each and every person behind the scenes, pulling off this awesome show.

The 2021 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards hosted by David Dastmalchian with presenters Jamie Lee Curtis, Keith David, Kevin Smith, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Doug Jones, Biqtch Puddin’, and more! Directed by Xanthe Pajarillo.

It’s Chainsaw (Awards) Season, Baby!

We are halfway to Halloween and just over a week away from the 2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards! Awards shows are severely lacking blood and bits, so I’m looking forward to satiating my hunger for all that is cinematically sanguine. Click here for details on how to watch The event will be streaming live on Shudder, April 18th 5PM PT.

To get you in the mood and prep your palates, I’ll be hosting a LIVE Fango x Convo panel on April 14th 4PM PT,  diving into the history of the Chainsaw Awards with Fango legends Tony Timpone, Mike Gingold, Rebekah McKendry and current EIC Phil Nobile Jr. Click here for full details + to register for the zoom panel

SXSW: Jakob’s Wife – Reinvention By Way Of Bloodletting

Jakob’s Wife is Travis Stevens’ directorial follow up to Girl On The Third Floor. Written by Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland and Stevens, Jakob’s Wife centers on Anne (Barbara Crampton), the wife of a small town minister (Larry Fessenden) who feels she has been shrinking away, fully absorbed by her “church mouse” pastor’s wife role over the course of the last three decades. Her husband often talks over her, dismissive, and she is largely unseen. Everything changes when Anne has an unexpected encounter, and she becomes absolutely unleashed. This movie takes so many elements of favorite horror films from a bygone era, throws them in a blender and smoothly pours it back out- an entirely new cocktail elegantly mixed with just enough modern updates to make it fresh, refreshing, and brand spanking new.

Barbara Crampton as an often overlooked housewife, reclaiming her power, her voice, her sexuality and her sense of self is a joy to watch. Dripping in dark humor and an absolute bloodbath of gore that quite literally shoots and sprays in a delightful deluge. As Jakob reassures Anne, “This is what I was trained for. To fight evil.” I can’t help but recall another line from a member of the cloth in regards to fighting evil, “I kick ass for the Lord!”. In addition to all the wacky wonderful being delivered here, Anne’s fashion evolution was a special treat in itself.

Overall, this was a really fun one. Seeing it with an audience, the right audience in a midnight movie type setting would really set this unfettered, full throttle. It knows exactly what it is, so it cuts loose and allows free range to play with an abundance of sanguine soaked scenes and dark humor. We don’t get very many lead characters like Anne, middle aged housewives are not typically central to the story and that’s a damn shame. Crampton lifting furniture and dancing with abandon to Concrete Blonde is a prime example of one of these cutting all the way loose moments; but it also has a message at the core regarding relationships and our lives, who we become, how we become. A commentary on feeling stagnant and clawing, gnashing our way out of that stagnancy with fangs bared, to reclaim a sense of self. A journey back to the self, or maybe even becoming the best version for the first time.

Jakob’s Wife premiered as part of the SXSW Midnighters series, and will be available on Shudder in April.

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