OK, so yesterday I skipped doing the blog cause I was working on something pretty special and today I present it to you! Last week I got an email from a student at Waterloo West High School about their production of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. So I thought, what a perfect way to end the Halloween blog, exactly the way it began only completely localized. So I gave Elliot a ring and set up an interview with Co-Director Ryan Penning and three of the cast members Sean Klippel, Nina Turovtseva and Matt Holmes. So with out further ado I present to you that interview for your enjoyment!
You’ve probably heard of and maybe even seen Guillermo del Toro‘s movies like Hellboy 1 & 2, Mimic, Blade II and maybe even the Oscar nominated Pan’s Labyrinthbut you’ve probably never seen his film The Devil’s Backbone. Guillermo says that Pan’s Labyrinth is the spiritual sequel to The Devil’s Backbone (which I can kind of seen his point but) it’s a far superior film than Pan’s.
The Devil’s Backboneis a ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War. The civil war is a metaphor for what is happening in the film as well. This film is a beautiful tale of children who are lost.
The film is beautifully shot, beautifully acted and beautifuly directed. It’s a quite film that gets under your skin and unnerves you. When I first saw this I had read a lot of hype about it. I’m not a huge fan of ghost story movies, most fail to even garner a scare from me, but this one moved me on an emotional level. It’s sad and haunting, and deeply affecting. It gets into your heart and mind and it lives there. I’ve only seen the film once and I’m still talking about it, so that has to say something for it. Every other film on this list I’ve seen at least a dozen times.
If you thought The Sixth Sense was creepy and had visual cues to watch for, The Devil’s Backbone makes M. Night look like a kid out of college. I can’t talk a lot about the film because it will ruin it for you so I’ll skip out on any more of the chatter and just tell you to go out and rent this today, don’t even rent it, just buy it. As a side note a great double feature night would be The Devil’s Backbone paired with The Orphanage(which was produced by del Toro).
I guess you know by now that I am a Sam Raimi fanboy, so it’s probably no surprise that Raimi’s horror/comedy Army of Darkness is also on my list. From beginning to end this movie is instantly quotable, and if you see me on the street ask me and I’ll quote any line from it. I have it memorized. A couple of years ago, or maybe it was last year The Core along with Marcus Theatres had a midnight showing of this on the big screen and you can believe I was first in line to see this project high and mighty!
So Army of Darkness is really Evil Dead III, but that’s not what they ended up calling it. It’s not really a scary movie at all, it’s pretty much a straight forward slapstick comedy. Think Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein or The Three Stooges meet an army of the dead. There are a ton of references in the movie as well. You’ll notice stuff from Gulliver’s Travels, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Three Stooges, Ray Harryhausen and so much more. Sam really through everything and the kitchen sink into Army of Darkness. The really funny thing about it, it was basically a box office failure and has been re-cut at least four times by Universal to get what they thought was the right movie. I actually saw the theatrical cut first on home video back in the day and still kind of prefer that cut to the Director’s cut which I eventually picked up on DVD. Not so much for the ending, but some of the better lines are cut from the theatrical cut for the director’s cut, including the best line in the whole movie; “Good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun”. Classic.
The movie also stars genre workhorse and all around awesome chin, Bruce Campbell. I had the pleasure of meeting Bruce a few years back on a book tour and well, let’s just say I was less than articulate when I met him!
Army of Darkness is just a ton of fun. It’s pure mindless entertainment for no purpose than to make you laugh for 90 minutes. Get yourself a copy today.
This is the movie that nearly scared me out of horror films for life. I was pretty young when I happened to catch this one with my parents back in the day. People often credit Carpenter for changing their lives with Halloween, but for me it was The Thing. A loose remake of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, Carpenter’s version pushes the paranoia and gore to new levels with terrifying and sickening effects.
The image of the doctor doing chest compressions and what happens next will forever be stuck in my mind and always available for instant recall. This is another one of those films that is fun to watch in the dead of winter too. All the action takes place at a research outpost in the antarctic. The white vastness along with the isolation is just too much at times.
This is easily my favorite Carpenter film and in my humble opinion his best work to date. While Carpenter has done some great movies, nothing is quite as good or visceral as The Thing. I also don’t think that Kurt Russell has ever given a better performance.
This is truly a terrifying movie that should be watched with the lights on!
By now you’ve figured out that I really like Werewolf movies. So up next is a great werewolf film from across the pond: Dog Soldiers. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers basically took the werewolf genre and turned it on it’s ear in 2002 when it was released. I don’t think I actually got around to seeing it until probably 2006 or 2007 after my Netflix addiction was in full swing, but I had caught bits and pieces (pun not intended) of it on SyFyor Sci-Fi or what ever that channel was called back then. What I had seen was brilliant so I finally rented the movie.
What was laid out before me was one of the smartest, most intense horror movie I had seen in years. It simply floored me. When I post the trailer you’ll see how they kind of say it’s like Alien, and it is. Military personnel being forced to deal with an unstoppable and largely unseen force.
Great action. Great acting. Great humor and an extremely smart script kept this sucker flying for me and always guessing what was around the corner. Mr. Marshall really made a huge debut in the horror community with this film and then the two of the one two punch, The Descent which has to be one of the most terrifying films of the last few years. We won’t talk about his latest one, it’s a travesty of epic proportions.
If you are looking for an amazing werewolf movie that will leave you scared and hurting, then rent Dog Soldiers tonight and be prepared to be scared.
This is the box art I have for the VHS of the film Severed Ties. Apparently I’ve stumbled upon something extremely rare in my home video collection. Up next is a look at the German film poster.
I’ve never seen that German poster before and thought I would share it with you all, it’s a completely misguided take on the film itself for no other reason that the whole look of the background. Not once do I remember seeing anything resembling that shot in the whole movie. So any way about the film.
During my heyday in my first few years at college and my discovery of Premier Video’s 5 nights, 5 movies $5 dollar promotion I stumbled across this title. It has a couple of things going for it. The VHS box art was pretty cool, it was presented by Fangoria and it stared genre workhorse and Hammer films actor Oliver Reed. Released straight to home video in 1992 there doesn’t appear to be a wealth of information about this movie out there, at all. Which in all honesty is surprising. It’s a nifty little film that was shot up there in Wisconsin.
In it we have a money obsessed mother and her son who’s scientist father was killed work in his lab trying to discover away to help people who’ve last limbs in accidents (for all my comic book buddies think Dr. Connor). Harrison decides to pick up where his dad’s research left off and then all hell breaks loose. I don’t want to give away too much of the movie just in case you can actually track down a copy of this winner. It’s got tons of great moments and line after line of quotes for any B-Movie film buff.
Harrison escapes to save the girl that he loves and in the meantime meets up with Stripes the street wise hustler that helps Harrison find his way in the underbelly of homeless freaks and geeks inhabiting this world. If you like Peter Jackson’sDead Alive or Stuart Gordon’sRe-Animator than you are going to love Severed Ties. With healthy doses of black humor, gore and straight up blasphemy this film is a ton of fun.
For about 8 years now I’ve been bugging Tony Timponeat Fangoria to release this to DVD, and every year he tells me to expect an announcement shortly. I’ll keep my fingers crossed to finally see this on DVD!
Also I know I have a habit of throwing trailers up here but this one doesn’t have one on YouTube so we are just out of luck this time around!
The Unnamable is the second H.P. Lovecraft adaptation to grace this list here, and folks I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, it’s probably not the best movie ever made or one of the greatest horror film for all time, but I saw this at the right time in my life and I still love watching it today!
You know the story, college jocks take sorority girls to spend the night at a haunted house. Turns out the house isn’t haunted but a monster does live there and it takes the nerd to save the day. This movie is steeped in 80′s nostalgia and has a WONDERFUL performance by Mark Kinsey Stephenson as Randolph Carter(a reoccurring character in the Lovecraft Universe).
I saw this movie on VHS probably around 1988 or 1989 at my buddy Charlie Shirk’s house (we used to go on Nintendo and Horror movie benders back in the day) and well this movie floored me. The monster is truly terrifying and the effects work and gore were really well done. I’m not sure how well it stands up to the standards of today’s effects but believe me, when I saw it it scared the crap out of me.
It’s got a great back story and some real genuine performances. I dig this movie a lot and I’m hoping a few of you might just share my enthusiasm for it as well!
In 1977 Dario Argento unleashed his greatest film on our shores, ladies and gentleman… Suspiria. I came to Suspiria by accident really. It was the early 90′s, probably 1992 if I remember correctly and I had become obsessed with the industrial band Ministry. The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste had become the record I spun more than anything else in my collection, soon after that Psalm 69 as well. Well in one of the Ministry tracks (Psalm 69) there is a sample that yells “STOP IT!” In my never ending quest to find out more about Ministry and what inspired them I read every magazine article I could find, remember this is pre-internet search for me so I scoured record stores, libraries, friends magazines, book stores… anything. I was a man on fire. I came across one article that was talking about the samples used in Ministry songs and well Suspiria was listed there. Being the avid movie watcher as well I decided to track down a copy of the VHS and watch it. My jaw hit the floor.
This was the beginning of my journey into Italian cinema and Italian horror films. It was also my introduction into the world of the giallo. Dario Argento had created a masterpiece and my young and impressionable eyes had found a palette that I quickly identified with.
The film is terrifying. The violence is intense (not quite as intense today after the whole “torture” genre of the last 10 years or so starting with the Saw films and including Hostel) but very dark and aggressive. The colors, the colors, you must see this film just for the colors used in the film. Apparently this was the last film done by Technicolor and it’s absolutely amazing. Remember folks, I watched this on VHS, I’ve since seen a remastered DVD print of this and it’s even better.
On top of that, it has one of the most memorable scores of all time by the electronic rock band Goblin from Italy. I can guarantee you that you’ve heard their work and that you’ve probably heard the title track from this soundtrack. It’s hugely influential (on the mainstream too not just my little musical microcosm) and has been covered and sampled countless times.
Suspiria is a work of a genius, it’s really too bad that Argento hasn’t really done anything quite this good since Suspiria. He’s had a couple of good ones since then, but nothing on the level of this, in fact he made two other films that are based around Suspiria, called the Three Mothers Trilogy which also inlcudes Inferno and The Mother of Tears (which is just awful). He also has a new movie coming out soon called Giallo (I know, I know really original there Dario) with Adrien Brody as the lead. I know people that have seen it and they say it’s absolutely terrible, I’ll trust them they are smarter men than I.
So do yourself a favor and enjoy this piece of Italian cinematic history tonight with a loved one.
Double Shot Monday! I was too busy on Friday again to get a blog in so you get two for the price of one today… and for that I give you a double dipping of George A. Romero.
Ten years after the release of Night of the Living Dead George returned to the genre that he re-invented with Dawn of the Dead. Now in color with 78% more gore for you and 98% more message. This is just an amazing film. From beginning to end. Four survivors trapped in the Monroville mall with hordes of zombies trying to get in the front door. Why you ask? Because they are consumers, they hunger for something, they hunger and they search out the food that they need. Before they were zombies that hunger was the consumer of the late 70′s early 80′s. Needing more and more stuff to make their lives feel complete. After they are zombies they go to the only place they know of that used to be able to feed their hunger. The mall.
Brilliantly directed, brilliantly acted and brilliantly done special effects. This was definitely a show stopper when it was released in 1978. You can’t help but fall in love with this film and it’s no wonder that Pittsburgh has the largest organized Zombie Walk every year at the very mall that this movie was filmed at.
Day of the Deadis George’s follow up to Dawn and boy howdy does it deliver. Set in a bunker underneath the ground where a group of survivors (military men and civilian personal including a doctor) are trying to not only survive the zombie apocalypse but also perhaps find a way to cure it or even control the zombies. Again we have a very strong political message in the film. Not only do we fail to try to understand what terrifies us, we try and completely obliterate it. Dr. Frankenstein (as Joe Pilato’sCaptain Rhodes so elegantly puts it) has discovered that the Zombies may be more than just brain hungry monsters, but may have residual memories and may even be trained!!!!! What does the military decided is the best answer? Destroy it all!
A wonderfully bleak film with very little to look forward to in the end. I watch this at least once a year and am always shocked and entertained over and over again. This is also the first film I remember with an extremely strong heroine roll. I read an interview with George once where he said that Dr. Sarah Brown was his apology for the weak females in Night of the Living Dead.
Both of these films are just as good as the original and can give people hope that sequels need not be watered down versions of the first film they are based on (are you reading that Hollywood?). So go out and get yourself a copy tonight and enjoy some great horror with a large dose of political messaging.
So you may be asking yourself has he seen anything new that he would recommend for Halloween viewing? And boy howdy yes. Drag Me To Hell is number one on my list of new movies that must be added to the 22 Days of Halloween! This was just released on Tuesday and you need to see this now. Sam Raimi has once again captured magic on film!
So it’s your basic morality tale. Girl wants to succeed, she’s told to toughen up and make the hard decisions. She thinks she’s doing the right thing and BAM bad things start happening. But it’s not the simple, is it ever really that simple though? No of course not. Honestly though, the story is pretty weak and has huge gaps in logic and plot, but I didn’t watch it for those reasons. Even the acting is a little stilted. Alison Lohman does a fine job, but she needs some more work before she can be good. No I watched this movie for two reason. SAM RAIMI directing a HORROR FILM. If you are a fan of Mr. Raimi, you can probably stop reading this now since you all ready know how the final product turned out, but if you aren’t a fan, well then read on loyal viewers, read on.
Drag Me To Hell might as well be called Evil Dead 4: The Curse of the Crazy Gypsy. Sam has packed so much Sam into every frame of this film that it’s unbelievable. Sam has always been about innovation. Sam has always been about gross out humor. Sam has always been about the Three Stooges. And well folks he delivers everything you’d expect from Sam Raimi. Gross out corpses vomiting embalming juices on our cute protagonist. Dream ghosts vomiting maggots and bugs into our protagonists mouth. A work shopped filled with power tools. A demon on wires yelling “COME GET SOME”. Seriously folks, it could have been Ash from Evil Dead when that demon possessed the would be assassin of the demon.
This is not a perfect film, but this is a perfect Halloween film. It’s overflowing with great scares. Unbelievable set pieces, great, and I mean GREAT effects (both practical and CGI). Also it’s rated PG-13 so even Grandma can enjoy this one! I highly suggest you run to your nearst video store and rent this one NOW!
Sam, I’m naming my next child after you, I promise.
YouTube won’t let me embed the link, but click here to watch the HD trailer for yourself.
Another werewolf film makes my list. But this one is a different sort of beast (pun intended). Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des loups) is a 2001 French film that I came across probably six or seven years ago at a local video store. I had seen previews for this film and thought I was getting my hands on a new werewolf film (you know my professed weakness for these films already) what I got was so much more.
Directed by new comer Christophe Gansthis film blew me away. There is a big scary animal in this, but the real scary animals are the human beings and their interactions with each other. Not only that but this film is a period piece with the French Revolution set as the backdrop of this monster movie.
But it’s more than just a monster movie. It’s a political thriller. It has religious themes. Ideas about man vs. nature and man vs. man. And most importantly. It’s got AWESOME KUNG FU. Well not really Kung Fu it’s more of a stylized version of Kung Fu and it’s suppose to be a martial arts form that was made by the Native Americans. I’m not real hip on aboriginal fighting styles of North America so I’m just going to trust Gans on this one
This movie is scary, sexy, dark and in the end it’s a beautiful film of sacrifice and dedication. I absolutely adore this film and try and get as many people I know to watch this one with me. It’s in French so if you’re not much for subtitles you can watch it with English dubs, but I wouldn’t suggest that. The movie speaks so visually to begin with that your eyes will never leave the screen any way.
So find yourself a copy of this one and be treated to a different kind of Monster/Werewolf/Halloween movie.