GLASS EYE PIX Sizzle Reel Oh, The Humanity! The Films of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix at MoMA The Larry Fessenden Collection BLACKOUT DEPRAVED BENEATH THE LAST WINTER WENDIGO HABIT No Telling / The Frankenstein Complex FEVER ABCs of Death 2: N is for NEXUS Skin And Bones Until Dawn PRETTY UGLY by Ilya Chaiken BLISS by Joe Maggio CRUMB CATCHER by Chris Skotchdopole FOXHOLE Markie In Milwaukee The Ranger LIKE ME PSYCHOPATHS MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND Stake Land II STRAY BULLETS Darling LATE PHASES How Jesus Took America Hostage — “American Jesus” the Movie New Doc BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD Explores the Impact of the Ground-Breaking Horror Film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD THE COMEDY THE INNKEEPERS HYPOTHERMIA STAKE LAND BITTER FEAST THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL I CAN SEE YOU WENDY & LUCY Liberty Kid I SELL THE DEAD Tales From Beyond The Pale Glass Eye Pix Comix SUDDEN STORM: A Wendigo Reader, paperbound book curated by Larry Fessenden Satan Hates You Trigger Man Automatons THE ROOST Impact Addict Videos
April 16, 2024
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Bloodline review: BLACKOUT “owes as much to film noir as it does to horror…”

by JOSÉ TEODORO, April 15, 2024

The premise, like the ambient air of fatalism, owes as much to film noir as it does horror. A man wakes in a place he can’t remember arriving at, his body bearing the ravages of some misadventure, his memories a dense fog yielding no clues save a lingering sense of grave culpability. His waking life is likewise rife with a sense of closure and entropy: he’s started to abuse alcohol, he’s lost the woman he loves, he’s quit his job, and he’s struggling with unhappy truths about his recently deceased father. The man is a painter, and his works are slowly becoming sites of revelation. Despite bouts of amnesia, he knows in his gut that for the past three months, he’s wreaked some terrible violence upon innocent people. And he’s resolving himself to the understanding that there is only one way to bring all this chaos to an end. 

Writer/director/editor/producer Larry Fessenden is a special filmmaker, rare in his commitment to forging independent, modestly budgeted genre films, steeped in tradition, that also explore possibilities of style, engage with the world in the present tense, and maintain a dogged sense of empathy for his characters, even if the majority of them are absolutely doomed. Blackout is a paragon of this approach, renovating the werewolf story by, ironically, going back to its roots, making several overt gestures of homage to 1941’s The Wolf Man, such as naming the town where the story unfolds Talbot Falls, Talbot being the name of Lon Chaney Jr.’s protagonist, who indeed falls perilously after being afflicted with a disease that renders him a subhuman killer. Charley (Alex Hurt), Blackout’s protagonist, seems like a nicer guy than Chaney’s creepy attempted cuckolder. Convinced that he’s responsible for a series of grisly murders, Charley devises a plan for his own extermination that will double as a public exposé of a local developer’s corrupt business practices and xenophobic scapegoating—despite the fact that this exposé will also tarnish Charley’s father’s legacy.

Fessenden fills the margins of this existential monster movie with vestiges of contemporary working-class disenfranchisement and rising tensions around race and migration, labor exploitation, and environmental decay. At its best, Blackout addresses these issues not through preachiness but rather through character development and attention to the everyday: the way the camera will linger on a worker going about his job as a scene draws to a close, the cheerfully cynical comments made by a motel proprietor, or the delicate manner in which a Latin police officer addresses an angry white mob. All such moments are elevated by an excellent supporting cast, which includes such familiar players as Marshall Bell, Kevin Corrigan, and the great James Le Gros. The film’s foreground, meanwhile, closely monitors Charley’s subjective experience, with Fessenden drawing primarily upon two rich resources: a series of unobtrusive, hauntingly beautiful, rhythmically alluring animated sequences, and Hurt’s wounded eyes, physical expressiveness, and almost palpable interiority. Regarding the latter of these elements, the film also benefits from a third, meta element: Blackout, like The Wolf Man, is in part a father-son story, and Hurt is the son of William Hurt, whose image becomes a key to the film’s backstory. The younger Hurt’s performance plays as a palimpsest of, on one level, his own ample craft, charisma, and life experience and, on the other, numerous echoes of his father’s unmistakable screen presence. (There’s also the fact that the film’s first depiction of Charley’s transformation, a very cool sequence in which we get to watch a werewolf crash a car, can’t help but remind us of scenes of Hurt Sr.’s simian regression in Altered States.)

Blackout is also enriched by echoes of its immediate predecessor and companion piece, Fessenden’s 2019 film Depraved, which explores core components of the Frankenstein story in a context riddled with 21st-century anxieties. Both films literally dovetail in a manner that’s clever and poetic, and they share several themes, as well as plots that hinge on the protagonists’ gradual emergence of memory. It has to be said that they also share a narrative structure that feels one act longer than you expect, at least one dopey death scene, and a fair bit of corny, hard-boiled, exposition-heavy dialogue that’s somewhat redeemed by a sense of knowingness on Fessenden’s part—a kind of curational approach to cliché, along with, again, Fessenden’s deep empathy and affection for his characters. These are horror films with heart. Genre maniacs can rest assured that these are also horror films with plenty of merciless savagery: tremendous care is invested in selecting and staging arresting moments of action, spookiness, and gore. Blackout is a tale of heartbreak, justice, responsibility, and the potential terror of true self-knowledge—and whoever makes it to the end in one piece is largely the product of sheer, incomprehensible providence.

Read review at Bloodline

April 16, 2024
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BLACKOUT #2 on Apple/iTunes thanks to you

April 15, 2024
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Adios L.A.

April 13, 2024
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Hey Glendale, CA come see BLACKOUT Tonight!

LA Times Review: ‘Blackout,’ a new take on
one of horror’s oldest myths, is claws for celebration

Now at Laemmle Glendale
Fessenden to speak after 10:10 Show April 13
Plays through April 18

April 12, 2024
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April 12 in LA: BLACKOUT unspools at Eastwood Performing Arts Center 7PM & 10PM

Asta Paredes and Alex Hurt on Day one of the BLACKOUT shoot

Q&A with Fessenden & Asta Paredes after the 7PM show

April 12, 2024
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Fessenden and Friends at the BLACKOUT screening in L.A.

Fessenden’s BLACKOUT unspools at the Noho Laemmle in Los Angeles, CA.

BLACKOUT cast and director!

Fessenden with Addison Timlin.

Fessenden with Marshall Bell.

Clay von Carlowitz and Asta Paredes.

Fessenden and composer Will Bates.

Fessenden and Peter Phok.

Fessenden with Paul Rachman.

Mark Kelly, Fessenden, Toby Huss, Travis Stevens.

Fessenden with David Del Valle and pal

A.J. Bowen, Fessenden and Travis Stevens.

Photos from Andreas Branch.

April 11, 2024
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‘Nuff Said

April 10, 2024
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Fessenden takes a stroll down Hollywood Walk Of Fame

April 10, 2024
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CRUMB CATCHER unspools at Wisconsin Film Fest TODAY!

Get your tix HERE

April 9, 2024
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GEP Pal Ti West drops MAXXXINE trailer