If you've kept up with The Asylum's output over the past few years, you'd probably agree that they've slowly improved on the quality of their peculiar brand of intentional Z-grade horror movies. I don't think any of them are intended to be watched sober (which is what I usually am, since I have to write the review), and they still have their missteps, but if I were to assign a grade to each title and put them on a chronological chart, that line would slowly but steadily slope upwards. The FX have gotten better, they're attracting better actors and they're taking more risks - on occasion they've even done better than the big-screen counterparts with their "mockbusters" - I'd rather watch Mega Piranha than Aja's Piranha 3D. They even made an unofficial Left 4 Dead movie called Zombie Apocalypse, which quite enjoyably shares that game's "run n gun" aesthetic as its characters constantly travel from one place to the next.
And that hard work has paid off - they have secured their first theatrical release. On October 5th, Hold Your Breath, starring Katrina Bowden (who was in the Piranha sequel Piranha 3DD, oddly enough) and True Blood's Randy Wayne. The plot sounds like a mix between Shocker and the movie that the kids were watching in Demons - a group of seven friends who are hanging out in a cemetery discover that the spirit of a serial killer is determined to pick them off one by one by jumping from body to body. I have no idea how good it'll turn out; it's not like there's a really high bar for the usual Asylum film (I usually just ask that I'm amused more often than not), but the fact that this one is going theatrical will hopefully be an indicator that they've stepped up their game a bit on this outing. Because, if not, why are we seeing it in theaters instead of on Saturday night on the Syfy channel, where many of their masterpieces debut?
To help celebrate, they are taking to Twitter to promote the film, including a contest where you can win DVDs and other prizes, while competing for the grand prize - a role as a victim in a future Asylum flick! Oddly, I actually want to win this myself; not only is getting killed fun, but I'm kind of fascinated by their productions, which are often shot in a week in ill-fitting Los Angeles locations (any Asylum movie featuring a "control room" is bound to cause a bout of laughter). They also often lack end credits on their numerous found footage films - they're so dedicated to trying to pass them off as real videos that they don't bother crediting the folks who did the work (a friend of mine joked that perhaps Spielberg or guys like that were amusing themselves and directing them just for the experience of shooting a movie in a week). Indeed, it wasn't until a few days before release that I realized Chernobyl Diaries was co-created by the guys who made the Paranormal Activity knockoff Paranormal Entity.
So what do you do? Well, first of all, be on Twitter (and make sure you're following Badass Digest, plus all of its awesome writers), right NOW as the contest starts today (Tuesday the 25th). Each night for the next twelve nights, between 8:30pm – 3:30am Pacific / 11:30pm – 6:30am Eastern, tweet your most interesting, frightening or surprising stories or comments regarding graveyards, ghosts, superstitions, possessions and hauntings. Include the hashtag #HoldYourBreath in your tweet, and you’ll be entered to win. The grand prize includes travel and lodging to the set of an upcoming Asylum film, where the winner will be, well, mutilated (for a complete list of rules for the contest, please visit http://holdyourbreathmovie.com/midnight-madness/).
What I dig about this is that it's something that William Castle might have done in the modern age. I'm all for gimmicky advertising and such, and hell, maybe if this movie is a success they can do other releases with in-theater silliness. Bring back electro-shock chairs and skeletons flying over the crowd! Even if the movie is a dud (and let's face it, many of Castle's films aren't exactly masterpieces themselves, especially at home without the bells and whistles), you'll have fun because of the extra effort. And with the Dark Castle line seemingly over (producer Joel Silver has cut ties with Warner Bros, who distributed the films), I can't think of a better outfit to pick up Castle's legacy of making fun horror films that promote the theatrical viewing experience.
P.S. I love that they have a Twitter contest where they're asking for a story in tweeted form, especially when you need to use up 10% of your character allowance on the hashtag. Gonna be some pretty vague entries!