September 23, 2014

The Dog Farm's Pre'Ween 2014 Video On Demand Wishlist - Why Is It So Hard To Find A VOD Release Schedule?

      I'm an audio/video snob when I watch movies at home.  Given that I never see most of the movies I watch in a proper theater, I do my damnedest to insure that I'm seeing as good a presentation as possible.  I have a reasonably nice home theater set-up, so the bigger issue is usually poor picture and sound from the source.  That being the case, I don't watch many movies that I actually give a damn about seeing via streaming services.

Movies At Dog Farm Pre'Ween 2014 VOD filmstrip

     That is, I didn't until I recently treated myself to a new renderer.  At last the picture and sound quality - though still not as good as a pristine Blu-ray - is usually pretty solid.  I've been burning through loads of movies on Netflix recently, and when it came time to make my stack of movies for Pre'Ween this year I decided I'd try something new.  Rather than going the traditional route of spending way too much money on discs this October, I've chosen instead to watch most of this year's new releases via video-on-demand.  Now that so many genre movies see release on VOD before disc (and in many cases either prior to or concurrent with their theatrical runs), it seemed a good plan.

     What I didn't count on was just how difficult it would be to find release dates for upcoming VOD premieres.  While it's possible to find release dates piecemeal on a title-by-title basis, almost no one curates a complete release calendar.  The best I came across for genre movies was at The Horror Club, which the site's administrators do an admirable job of keeping updated.

     Since they're already doing a fine job of it, what follows is simply a truncated version of their release calendar encompassing only the upcoming releases I'm jonesin' to see.  Each entry offers a release date and key info, and you can click the movie's title to check out the trailer.  Please remember, what follows is only a list of movies that captured my attention.  I've not seen any of these movies yet, so don't mistake a title's inclusion as an endorsement.  I suspect many of these titles, as well as my thoughts about them after I actually watch, will turn up in this year's edition of Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman near the end of October.


Motivational Growth (2013) movie poster
Motivational Growth (2013)
Available 9/30
Director: Don Thacker
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Adrian DiGiovanni, Danielle Doetsch

     A depressed, reclusive thirty-something finds himself taking advice from a growth in his bathroom after a failed suicide attempt.  Is the growth helping the troubled man, or does it actually have less than altruistic motives?

     I can find almost no substantial information about Motivational Growth online save for a handful of early reviews that I'm determined to avoid until after I've seen it for myself.  All I do know is that horror icon Jeffrey Combs voices a sentient bathroom fungus in this dark and disturbing festival darling.  Honestly, though, that's all I need to know.  Shut up and take my money already.


Open Windows (2014) movie poster
Open Windows (2014) 
Available 10/2
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Sasha Grey, Elijah Wood, Neil Maskell

      An actress refuses to have dinner with a fan who wins a date with her in a contest. The shunned fan is persuaded by a man posing as the star's campaign manager to begin keeping tabs on her from his computer.

     Nacho Vigalondo, director of the segment entitled Parallel Monsters in the upcoming V/H/S: Viral (see below), tackles his own full-length feature starring porn star Sasha Grey and budding horror icon Elijah Wood.  The hook here is that the story unfolds in real time, with the titular open windows referring to the open windows on a computer screen.  Early reviews have been harsh, but I'm intrigued by the concept as well as the casting.  

     And yes, I am familiar with Ms. Grey's other work.  Attention must be paid to any actress who goes from a starring role in Anal Artists (2012) to a starring role in an Oscar nominated director's mainstream horror movie in just two short years.


Housebound (2014) movie poster
Housebound (2014)
Available 10/17
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Stars: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Ti Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru

     A young woman is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention.  Does she have an overactive imagination, or is the house actually possessed by a hostile spirit who's less than happy about the new living arrangement?

     Housebound earned universal praise when it premiered at the SXSW festival in March, and it went on to claim the audience award at the Dead By Dawn festival in April.  New Zealanders have displayed a knack for comedic horror in the past, so let's hope Kiwi director/writer Gerard Johnstone's first feature film lives up to the hype.

See No Evil 2 (2014) movie poster
See No Evil 2 (2014)
Available 10/17
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Stars: Glenn Jacobs, Danielle Harris, Katharine Isabelle

     A group of friends pays a late-night visit to the city morgue to surprise a morgue employee on her birthday.  The one-eyed corpse of a brutal psychopath unexpectedly rises from the slab and resumes his savage rampage using hooks, surgical knives, and power saws. 

     The first See No Evil (2006) could elicit only a shrug from me, and it seemed like it must have been a franchise non-starter given how long it took for talk of a sequel to materialize.  Then came the announcement that Jen and Sylvia Soska, hot off the success of the fantastic American Mary (2012), had signed on to direct See No Evil 2.  Suddenly I'm interested again.  

     Have the Soska sisters just taken the paycheck, or will they succeed in injecting some new life into the tale of Jacob Goodnight's ongoing killing spree?  The presence of genre stalwarts Danielle Harris and Katherine Isabelle in the cast seems encouraging.  The Soskas will either be credited with reviving what appeared to be a moribund horror franchise solely on the strength of their own prowess as filmmakers, or they'll ruin their well-deserved genre cred with one high profile flame-out.  No pressure, ladies. 

V/H/S: Viral (2014) movie poster
V/H/S: Viral (2014)
Available 10/23
Director: Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Lots of people - it's an anthology, man.

     This third entry in the successful series of horror anthologies follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation.

     Is there still gas in the V/H/S tank?  New directorial talent for each successive entry keeps things fresh, but anthologies are notoriously hit-or-miss.  So far though the good has outweighed the bad, so the franchise earns at least one more look.  Never mind the fact that video cassettes don't go viral.

     This year's iteration offers segments featuring the story of a deranged illusionist who obtains a magical object of great power, a homemade machine that opens a door to a parallel world, teenage skaters that unwillingly become targets of a Mexican death cult ritual, and a sinister, shadowy organization that's tracking a serial killer.  That final segment, entitled Gorgeous Vortex and directed by Todd Lincoln, was not included in the movie's early screenings, and so it remains to be seen whether or not it will be included in the V/H/S: Viral VOD release. 


[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014) movie poster
[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)
Available: 10/31?
Director: Jaume Balaguero
Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ismael Fritschi, Maria Alfonsa Rosso

     A television reporter is rescued from the quarantined building featured in the franchise's first two entries and is taken to an oil tanker for examination.  The soldiers manning the tanker are unaware that she carries the seed of the mysterious demonic virus within her.

     Will [REC] 4: Apocalypse be available on VOD this Halloween?  Truth is, I don't really know.  The Horror Club says yes, but I've been unable to confirm that elsewhere.  The movie releases theatrically on October 31st in Spain, so...maybe?  I suppose the bigger question is whether or not we should even care after the hugely disappointing [REC] 3: Genesis.  It's a testament to just how good the first two entries are that they engendered enough goodwill to insure that I do.  

     Director Jaume Balaguero returns, as does the narrative thread that follows Manuela Velasco's traumatized television reporter Angela Vidal.  That's promising.  The found footage angle that made [REC] and [REC] 2 so viscerally compelling is still absent, though, so who knows?  Reviews from the premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival are encouraging, so I still maintain hope that this is a satisfying conclusion to the now somewhat tarnished franchise.  If [REC] 4 does, indeed, show up on VOD this Halloween, I'm there.


     A handful of other titles caught my eye, as well:  The Houses October Built (2013) - available 10/10, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) - available 10/16, Life After Beth (10/21) - available 10/21, and Horns (2013).  The Alexandre Aja directed Horns is listed as being available on VOD either 10/3 or 10/31 depending upon the source.

     EDIT 9/30 - It appears as though the VOD release date for Motivational Growth has been pushed back to 10/21, and  [REC] 4 has been removed entirely from the VOD release schedule at The Horror Club.


  1. Great rundown of some interesting movies.

    Also of note is Ty West's film, The Sacrament, produced by Eli Roth, has gone streaming. While not a horror movie (no supernatural elements present), the film does have a strong undercurrent of compelling drama. I must admit, since Netflix has it under their Horror section, I kept waiting for an ending to this cult thriller that would be akin to the "Safe Haven" chapter of VHS2. Alas, the movie turned out to be noting more than a found footage version of the Jonestown Massacre.

    I will be typing up my horror movie menu soon, and I suspect most of the films on there to be streamers, as well.

    We will compare notes!

    1. I always feel like you're trying to bait me with your contention that a movie must have an element of the supernatural to be considered horror. Tellingly, though, if one does a Google search for the definition of "horror movie" you'll find a notable lack of consensus. What's horrifying to any given individual is highly subjective. Additionally, there are scads of movies clearly intended to be "horror movies" that simply fail in their execution. That doesn't mean they aren't horror movies, it just means they aren't successful horror movies.

      As such, I've always subscribed to the notion that whether or not something is horror is more accurately described by examining the filmmaker's intent. If one of the filmmaker's primary goals is to inspire fear, dread, or revulsion in the viewer, then it's a horror movie. The exact nature of the narrative element that inspires that fear, dread, or revulsion (natural or supernatural) is a moot point. It's much like the distinction our legal system makes between murder and manslaughter - it's all about intent. By subscribing to that notion, The Sacrament absolutely qualifies first and foremost as a horror movie.

      To further illustrate my point, this definition allows for inclusion of movies that fall into the sub-genre of horror/comedy (comedy/horror, if you like), Since the inclusion of comedic elements does not automatically preclude the filmmaker's intent - at least as one of his primary goals - to inspire fear, dread, or revulsion, then movies like An American Werewolf In London or Shaun Of The Dead still earn their classification in the broader horror category despite the presence of those comedic elements.

      Defining by intent also allows for the inclusion of many other "fringe" sub-genres under the more all-encompassing horror umbrella. Slasher movies are horror, Italian cannibal flicks are horror, and home invasion movies are horror. I'd say the most troublesome fringe category is the thriller.

      Given that I personally believe the use of the term thriller largely came into vogue because studio heads didn't want their big-budget, star laden vehicles to be consigned to the lowly ghetto of the horror movie, I'd say chances are generally fair to good that a movie labeled thriller (imagine me sounding like Jeff Foxworthy here) might be a horror if: 1) the overall tenor of the movie is more concerned with sustaining a horrific tone or atmosphere than with any other elements present in the narrative or 2) to co-opt your definition a bit, if the narrative possesses even a hint of the supernatural or otherworldly. If the overall effect of the movie lingers, it's horror. If it's structured as a police procedural that ends with the authorities catching the "bad guy", it's a thriller.

      I feel like maybe this discussion would be a likely candidate for a future podcast, perhaps with more than just our own two interpretations being represented by way of a small panel of participants. Ultimately, of course, the definition of what constitutes horror is highly subjective and mutable, but it would probably make for a great debate.

      Regardless, I'm glad to hear you finally got a chance to check out The Sacrament, and I'm curious to see which movies ultimately land on your own Pre'Ween watch-list. As always, thanks for commenting!

  2. I've considered (and even previously attempted) maintaining a release dates page for both disc and VOD releases. And you may have just pushed me over the edge here, I might have to make another attempt now.

    Also, I'm stoked for Pre'Ween!! And that banner is badass, looking forward to using it on some posts this October. I don't know that I'll have a watchlist prior to actually just writing stuff up... but we'll see, hope that's okay if I don't have a formal list beforehand.

    Awesome write-up Brandon, several of those were not yet on my radar so now I'll be on the lookout.

    1. Make that release calendar! I need it! You're more up on the current releases than I am.

      I've emailed you a copy of the banner, and I'll be glad to do so for anyone else who cares to have it. Nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants on that watchlist. Just let me know which links you'd like to have on the Pre'Ween link page. The banner link is displayed more prominently at the top of the site now.

    2. Well, I published the VOD release schedule. So far I've only got a handful of releases in October and a few for November. I'll be working to gather more info, but it's up!

      Got the banner, and will be displaying it several places. Thanks man, it's gonna be fun!

    3. Check out Bloodsucking Geek's new VOD calendar, folks! Now I can let JD do all of the grunt work. lol

  3. Nice list, Brandon. I tend to gravitate towards older titles, which can be my blind spot at times. Thanks to this list, there are several more horror flicks I need to keep on my radar. Looking forward to reading your thoughts in the weeks ahead.

    1. I have that same blind spot, Barry. Hopefully at least a couple of these will be worthwhile. I'd love to post some Pre'Ween links from Cinematic Catharsis if your interested. ;) If so, let me know, and I'll get that banner out to you, too!

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