In 2004 Joseph Kahn
directed the hyper-kinetic, poorly reviewed motorcycle action movie Torque
. It was Kahn's directorial debut, and though he was tapped for (one of many
) failed Neuromancer adaptations, he devoted the next six years to a largely self financed project: the horror-comedy farce Detention
. Noted cultural critic Steven Shaviro discusses in this essay
why Detention, despite also being reviewed negatively
, is one of his favorite movies of the decade. Shaviro's review contains major spoilers for the plot, and it's probably best to go into the movie blind. A brief non-spoiler synopsis is available below the jump. [more inside]
Things That Don't Suck
, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
Director, writer, and producer Mick Garris releases videos
of his interviews with people in the horror and sci-fi entertainment industry at his new website, Mick Garris Interviews
. There is also a YouTube channel
. An introduction can be found at the about page
. According to The Nerdist
, interviews will be released at the rate of one per week. Interviews already uploaded: a four-parter with Director John Carpenter (here's Part 1
YT), and one segment with John Badham
, director of Dracula
(1979) and, incidentally, Saturday Night Fever
Jason Blum—producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, The Purge, The Bay, and Oculus—participated in an interesting interview at SXSW Film 2014
about his model of producing high-quality low-budget horror films
for wide release. The video is almost an hour long, but worth watching if you're interested in contemporary mainstream horror.
The gals at Anglo-Filles have an entertaining (and epicly long) talk about the history of Dracula and vampires as characters and symbols throughout the ages and throughout fiction
- topics discussed include Varney The Vampire, The Vienna Vampire Scare, Where Does Sunlight Killing Vampires Come From, The Secret Spanish Dracula, and Jonathan Harker As An Abuse Survivor.
Metafilter favorite David Cronenberg (previously
) has lately been making short films for festival exhibition. Most are aggressively simple, with only a few actors and even fewer locations. But they're all unmistakably Cronenberg films. [more inside]
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
was the first real “slasher” film, and it changed many things—the ratings code of the Motion Picture Association of America, the national debate on violence, the Texas Film Commission, the horror genre—but it remained a curiously isolated phenomenon. The film itself, involving five young people on a twisted drive through the country, is a strange, shifting experience—early audiences were horrified; later audiences laughed; newcomers to the movie were inevitably stricken with a vaguely uneasy feeling, as though the movie might have actually been made by a maniac—but the story behind the film is even stranger." We begin with a couple of stolen barbecue chicken wings....
In a world
On May 30th the 15th Annual Golden Trailer Awards
were handed out in Beverly Hills, CA. There are a total of 75 categories; the 17 top awards were handed out live at the sold-out show and are linked below the fold. [more inside]
is a short horror film about a British commando raid that finds an ancient evil in the crypts and tunnels of occupied France. It recently won Best Short Film prize at the 2014 H P Lovecraft film festival
, and is available to watch on Vimeo—for today only—if you go here
and use the password 'mayday'.
BBC Radio 4's 'The Film Programme' talks to George A Romero.
'Forty five years after the release of genre-defining Night of the Living Dead, Francine Stock talks to the director George A Romero about inventing the undead zombie and where he might unearth horror in contemporary society. Plus why he doesn't rate Stanley Kubrick as a horror director.' [SL BBC Radio 4 episode] [more inside]
is a horror film from 1981, starring Edward Woodward as the father of a family possessed by some sort of malevolent entity. Although it has (probably quite rightly) been largely forgotten, it does have a really fantastic opening scene
. [more inside]
was a series of interviews with horror writers and directors and other icons. Several of them are on youtube: Clive Barker
; Wes Craven
Harlan Ellison (1
); Richard Laymon
; Richard Matheson
; Julie Strain
Monsters Rule OK: A British Horror Playlist.
Fangoria presents a mixtape of British horror that includes musical selections from Blood on Satan's Claw
, The Wicker Man
, Berberian Sound Studio
, A Field in England
, Children of the Stones
, and Twisted Nerve
—as well as dialogue excerpts from Don't Look Now, The Stone Tape, Hellraiser and others.
Network of Blood
: "Videodrome’s depiction of techno-body synthesis is, to be sure, intense; Cronenberg has the unusual talent of making violent, disgusting, and erotic things seem even more so. The technology is veiny and lubed. It breaths and moans; after watching the film, I want to cut my phone open just to see if it will bleed. Fittingly, the film was originally titled 'Network of Blood,' which is precisely how we should understand social media, as a technology not just of wires and circuits, but of bodies and politics. There’s nothing anti-human about technology: the smartphone that you rub and take to bed is a technology of flesh." Nathan Jurgenson
writes about Videodrome
) as a way of understanding our present social media technologies for Omni Magazine
If you rented VHS horror and sci-fi in the late eighties and early nineties, then you’ll recognize the name of Charles Band
. [more inside]
Comic artist Chris Weston
unilaterally declares it Kurt Russell week and produces a triptych of posters for Escape from New York
, The Thing
and Big Trouble in little China
. These are just the roughs
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act.
- a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale
A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z
signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's
bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later
, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend.
From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London
(set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's
brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings"
) to the frenzied chaos of its climax
, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale
of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count
And while sequel 28 Weeks Later
with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions
failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences
in modern horror), and 28 Months
looks increasingly unlikely
, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
"I think a major change in zombie behavior in this was if something were to bite you, well, you're still fresh, you're still able to move quickly. But now you don't think about yourself. You only think about where's my next bite, where's my next takedown. And you will run as fast as you can because you're still healthy, and you'll lead with your teeth to take the next human down..." says
Scott Farrar, visual effects supervisor of World War Z
, on the fast moving
zombies in the movie. [more inside]
When it comes to unappealing couples that have been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arch Hall Jr. and Marilyn Manning are near the top of the heap. Their appearance in Eegah
provided rich fodder for Joel and the bots. And yet, only one year after the release of Eegah
, Hall and Manning would find themselves together again in radically different roles. [more inside]
We Have Such Films To Show You
- Damned souls cortex
have been condemned to the infernal torment of watching all 10 Hellraiser movies, and wish to share their explorations of the further realms of experience with you in their new podcast. [via mefi projects
The sphincter-tightening short film by Andres Muschietti that inspired the movie
of the same name, with an introduction by producer Guillermo del Toro.
- a post-apocalyptic nightmare set in a post-rabies Britain (warning: absolutely bleak). A Gun For George
- a short film about crime-writer Terry Finch
, author of the 70s Kentish fiction masterpieces The Reprisalizer
. [more inside]
Between Peter Jackson’s penchant for cartoonish unserious gore and Bob McCarron’s off-screen makeup effects manipulations,
Braindead achieves something that approaches inspired genius in the heretofore unknown artform of human carnage. The film is filled with moments of joyous slapstick tableaux... And then there is that moment where
Braindead finally breaks through to achieve a transcendentally surreal glory of excess where Tim Balme wades into battle against the zombies armed with a lawnmower, drenching an entire room in showers of blood. (
Braindead holds the record for the greatest amount of artificial blood ever used in a film). The film is a work of perverse genius.
- Richard Scheib
Return of the Living Dead (NSFW) is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made. Not only does it have loads of great looking zombies in it, it's one of the few zombie movies, besides its sequel, that has a perfect blend of humor and horror.
"What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies. One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films - for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed."
- of the British TV film slots accompanied by an introduction perhaps the most celebrated
, running between 1988 and 2000 and presented first by Repo Man director Alex Cox
and then film critic Mark Cousins
. [more inside]
Brad Pitt's Zombie Nightmare: Inside the Troubled 'World War Z' Production The Hollywood Reporter
sorts through the problems causing the release of the film version
of Max Brooks' post-apocalyptic UN report
to be delayed until next June. Via the A.V. Club
, which adds links to previous stories about the filming.
... it’s no exaggeration to say that LIFEFORCE tosses everything in but the kitchen in an attempt to entertain you. Actually, scratch that, it tosses everything including the kitchen sink. By the time the movie is complete, you may have to watch it again just to verify that you actually saw what you just saw. The movie is a mess of enormous proportions which I absolutely loved.* (previously) [more inside]
ALIEN age 11
- an adaptation created by an underage artist based on the Alan Dean Foster novelization and a few stills, without having seen the actual film.
"You're going nowhere, son. Just you, me ad the walls. So wipe that bloody grin off before it's shot off, and don't slouch. You toe rag. You
bin. Pay attention when I break you. And break you I will, boy. You're in my manor, now."
Buck up! It's Terry Finch's THE REPRISALIZER!
Follow Bob Shuter
, whose mission of reprisal against his brother's killers, their families, associates, progeny and property takes him across the desolate wasteland of 70s Britain, primarily Kent AKA FINCHLAND
. Finch, writer of The Reprisalizer and DRAW!
, the cowboy whose name means death, is soon to be the subject of a major motion picture
from Matthew Holness, creator of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
In October 1963, the Brazilian movie writer, director, and actor José Mojica Marins was having trouble with a movie he was working on, and fell asleep at the dinner table. He dreamed of being dragged to a cemetery by a creature in black, who showed Marins his own tomb stone, with the dates of his birth and death (YT: 9 min)
. That dream lead to the creation of Zé do Caixão
(anglicized as Coffin Joe
), the main character in Brazil's first horror movie, and Marins' first big movie success: À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (YT: 1hr 22min w/English subs)
(At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul
). This was one of the up-ticks in a life of some ups and lots of downs for the South American Roger Corman or Ed Wood
(NYT), and the birth of a character who would become Marins public persona. [more inside]
Wheel of Misfortune: The Zodiac of Horror
. Austin Coppock gets freaky and fun with archetypes found within the horror genre and astrology.
Horror movie blog Arbogast on Film
is counting down the days of October with studies of 31 cinematic screams
. Considered thus far: shrieks from The Tingler
, The Pit and the Pendulum
, Two on a Guillotine
, Macchie Solari
, The Black Cat
, Monster House
, The Silence of the Lambs
, She Demons
, The Thing
, L'Amante del Vampiro
, The Nesting
, and Witchcraft
. [more inside]
From the start of Bill Lancaster writing the original script to the final edited cut of the film, The Thing underwent some serious changes. A lot of footage ended up littering the cutting room floor. The Collector's Edition DVD gives us a look at some of the Outtakes and Deleted Scenes, but it falls shy of showing us what really was cut.
- Deleted Scenes
from The Thing
and other assorted goodies at Outpost 31
.There is also a prequel of some kind.
Jason Zinoman, author of the newly-published Shock Value
, a study of horror films from the late 1960s/early 1970s, presents a four-part essay in which he diagnoses the ills of the modern horror film and presents a few solutions. (1 2 3 4
) [more inside]
Images from classic horror magazines, lobby cards, ads and pressbooks.