I write alot about how horror movies allow you to face down evil vicariously through their heroines and heroes. But there are also some that mess with you by making you follow the perspective of the killer – movies like PEEPING TOM, MANIAC (and its remake), DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER come to mind.
The 1983 Austrian film ANGST is a masterwork of this type. It’ll fuck you up. To give you an idea, the Blu-Ray comes with an intro from Gaspar Noe, who says it is one of the films that influenced him most. I think that goes for both the bleak subject matter and the inventive camerawork by cinematographer (also writer and editor) Zbigniew Rybczynski. The movie follows a killer as he’s released from prison and then immediately starts killing again. He doesn’t even try to find a place to live or anything. He does stop off at a coffee shop, but it’s for stalking purposes more than for coffee. He’s played by Erwin Leder (DAS BOOT), but the first person narration is read by Robert Hunger-Buhler (Noe prefers the French dub). (read the rest of this shit…)
I’d like to end this not-as-rockin-as-I’d-hoped Slasher Search Rocks! mini-series with an extreme obscurity I never could’ve seen if not for the maniacs at Bleeding Skull! Video, who for some reason love shot-on-VHS movies. Though “never distributed properly on home video” (the director just sold it through ads in the back of heavy metal magazines), Bleeding Skull! gave HEAVY METAL MASSACRE (1989) a limited edition 250 copy, VHS only re-release in 2016.
This is the mostly-filler-about-a-killer story of an unnamed (as far as I noticed) loner who looks like he could be in Poison with his long, bleach blond, meticulously teased hair and studded bracelets and what not. He goes to one small brick wall bar where he picks up big-haired leather-jacket-wearing women. He sometimes uses the promise of cocaine, but very few words, and when he does talk it’s more of a working joe kinda voice than I expected to come out from behind that makeup.
He brings them to his place, which is one small room full of posters, but it supposedly connects to a series of industrial hallways and garages where he takes them to handcuff them up and then hit them with a sledge hammer.
Despite the overall ickiness of it it’s not very graphic at all – not much in the way of FX. (read the rest of this shit…)
Luca Guadagnino’s SUSPIRIA (2018) is technically a remake of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), because it’s about an American named Susie Bannion going to a dance academy in Germany in 1977 where other students are turning up dead and weird shit is happening because it’s run by a coven of witches led by Mother Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs. But don’t expect to see any of the things you think of when you think of SUSPIRIA, like the colorful lighting, the maggots dropping from the ceiling or that room full of razor wire. Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) doesn’t use the same look or any specific scenes or story points, he just plays with the basic idea. Now there’s more intra-coven political stuff going on, as well as news coverage of Baader-Meinhof bombings and the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a subplot about an old therapist looking for a patient who disappeared after telling him the school was run by witches, and also his wife (played by o.g. Susie Bannion Jessica Harper) disappeared during the war and he keeps thinking about her, and…
I mean it’s 52 minutes longer than the original so there’s alot more stuff going on. It bills itself as “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin” (spoiler: actually should be Six Acts, an Epilogue, and a Brief, Uneventful Tag Near the End of the Credits). I appreciated the act breaks. (read the rest of this shit…)
FROM THE VERN VAULT: Don’t worry friends, I’m not about to start doing reruns all the time, but there are two pieces that were written for One.Perfect.Shot that disappeared after they were bought out by Film School Rejects. Prompted by Rumsey Taylor I located them on Internet Archive and I’m reposting them for posterity.
Maybe I’m full of it but it seems to me this piece from October 26th, 2015 was a little ahead of the curve. At the time I knew of no one else who considered CANDYMAN the best horror movie of the ’90s and I didn’t think people talked enough about its exploration of the legacy of slavery in America. I’m proud of this as well as my 2005 take on the movie. (It’s not dangerous until I review it five times, is it?)
“These stories are modern oral folklore. They are the un-self-conscious reflection of the fears of urban society.” –urban legends lecture by Professor Lyle (Xander Berkeley)
“What if a person had this thing done to him and what if he had the opportunity to come back and say, ‘Watch out!’ to the world that created this person and the conditions?” –Tony Todd to Fangoria Magazine, March 1995
American horror movies have played off of all manner of primal and societal fears: tensions between social classes, the invasion of the sanctity of the home, the dangers of trespassing in forbidden places. But leave it to a couple of British artists – writer/director Bernard Rose and executive producer/short story author Clive Barker – to explicitly tie those themes to the racial atrocities of our history, creating a truly American horror story. (read the rest of this shit…)
Happy Halloween, everybody! As is sometimes my tradition, I have managed to do a write-up of one of my all time favorite movies that I haven’t done an official piece on. In 2016 I finally got the balls to do THE THING, and in 2017 I did INFERNO. I guess when I did DAWN OF THE DEAD it was a month after Halloween, but that’s the type of review I’m going for here.
One Halloween I just compared the Fresh Prince unofficial Freddy Krueger song to the official Fat Boys one. You can only do that once though I think.
These reviews of the classics are intimidating because there’s such a risk of saying the same shit that’s already been said, but I’m tired of linking to my Ain’t It Cool News review of a DVD release every time I mention it, which is inconvenient when I seem to compare half the movies I watch to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I remember I even compared the Kathryn Bigelow racism drama DETROIT to it. Incidentally, even though I’ve been thinking about HALLOWEEN movies all month the world is feeling more TEXAS CHAIN SAW to me these days.
In other words, be warned: this is one of the ones where I relate the movie to the politics of today, so if you hate that, please don’t read, and go have a happy Halloween. If not, please do read, then have a happy Halloween.
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THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. One of the greatest horror movies since they started makin’ ’em. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that before, but it’s true.
It’s a movie that has grown on me and with me. When I first saw it I was probly 13 and I thought it was dumb. Just some crappy footage of a dude chasing people around in the dark. I was a Freddy guy. Saw it again in my twenties and it became pretty much my favorite movie. Back then it was VHS (not sure if it was even letterboxed) and I really believed that the raw quality of the footage was part of its magic. That it felt like a documentary, one made by crazy people.
After believing that for years I got that remastered edition that Dark Sky Films released, the one in the steel case (which I took these screengrabs from). It looked so much cleaner I wasn’t sure if I should accept it at first. Now I watch the way-more-pristine-than-that Blu-Ray and I love the movie even more as the controlled, artful craftsmanship it had always secretly been. For the moment, forget “drive-in” or “grindhouse” and think “great American film of the ’70s,” even if it’s all of those things. (read the rest of this shit…)
ZOMBI 6: MONSTER HUNTER (!?)
ABSURD is a pretty standard Italian take on a HALLOWEEN-ish slasher plot – outrageous gore, decent Goblin-esque prog-rock score by Carlo Maria Cordio (PIECES, MIAMI COPS, CURSE II: THE BITE, TROLL 2), thin characters, lots of boring scenes of people standing around dryly talking about what’s going on, crazy ending.
It begins with two men running: a priest (Edmund Purdom, the dean in PIECES) and a bearded Ron Silver looking guy in jeans and a manly belt buckle (George Eastman, EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD, STAGEFRIGHT). The bearded guy climbs over a tall wrought iron fence and shows up on some rich people’s doorstep with a big glob of intestines dripping out of a belly wound. (read the rest of this shit…)
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III is less crazy than part II, and has less going on thematically, but to me it was a little more fun to watch this time through. I don’t think this one is connected by any characters, though the killer has a backstory that I didn’t quite follow, so maybe there’s something there.
Like the other two SLUMBER PARTY MASSACREs, this is directed by a woman, Sally Mattison this time. This was her only time directing – she was a casting director and associate producer for Concorde, including for BLOODFIST and SILK 2. Screenwriter Catherine Cyran (credited as “Bruce Carson”) also wrote BLOODFIST II, FUTURE KICK and HONEY 3: DARE TO DANCE. As a director she’s responsible for three sequels in the THE PRINCE & ME franchise, among other things. (read the rest of this shit…)
TERROR ON TOUR is about a band called The Clowns, who wear makeup kind of like Kiss, as well as black leotards, red capes, afro wigs with two white stripes, and sometimes Phantom of the Opera type half-masks. This is important because someone is going around doing the murders and we don’t know if it’s a lookalike or a band member and which band member or which lookalike.
The movie contains “original music by The Names,” who I have determined to be the one from Rockford, Illinois, not the one from Brussels. And I believe they are playing the band in the movie, which is why (just like Easy Action as Solid Gold in BLOOD TRACKS) they don’t really do that much acting. Instead the story focuses on these two guys in the green room, roadies or something. One guy likes to put on makeup so he can trick groupies into thinking he’s in the band (approved by the band), and his main job seems to be buying drugs for the other guy.
The title is slightly misleading because although I guess they’re technically on tour we only see them in one town, one venue, where they’re playing shows on multiple nights and also having parties. The police are suspicious of the band and their shindigs even before they find a dead lady in the alley, yet they have no security and only a couple suit wearing cops including Lieutenant Lambert (John Green, DEMENTED) occasionally standing in a quiet part of the building looking at documents and stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II is a kinda cool, kinda odd, but kinda boring variation on the simple part 1. It follows Courtney, one of the first film’s survivors, but recast with Crystal Bernard (Wings). Her older sister Valerie is said to be in a sanitarium somewhere, just now beginning to speak again (after five years, if it’s in real time). Courtney convinces her mom (Jennifer Rhodes, THE TOWERING INFERNO) to let her spend a weekend with her friends at one’s dad’s new condo. But don’t tell Mom that boys will be there.
Much has been made of the first one being written and directed by women, and what that means in a slasher movie centered around a dude with a phallic drill murdering teenage girls in nighties. This one is written and directed by a different woman, Deborah Brock, and has a rare slasher movie occurrence of the female gaze in an opening dream sequence where Courtney pictures her crush Matt (Patrick Lowe, PRIMAL RAGE) shirtless, smiling, throwing a football, while she’s in a non-revealing nightgown. (read the rest of this shit…)