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]
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.
Metafilter favorite David Cronenberg (previously, previously, 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]
VOMICA 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'.
Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images.Previously [more inside]
For your October delight: Top 10 horror movies, as picked by Guardian critics, Ten Exceptionally Well-Written Horror Films, Top Ten Horror-Sci-Fi Films: A Primer And Pseudo-History, The 12 Weirdest Vampire Movies Ever Made, The Top Grossing Scary Movies Of All-Time, and, perhaps most importantly of all: The 25 best horror films on netflix instant.
Kevin Smith has been given the green light to shoot his next film, a horror movie about a man forced to dress up in a walrus suit by a sadistic tormentor. The film will be called 'Tusk'. Smith was inspired by a real life advert placed on Gumtree earlier this year in which a man who had befriended a walrus called Gregory while living on a remote island off Alaska (now heartbroken, having returned to the UK), offered free rent in his Queen's Park flat for anyone willing to wear a walrus suit for two hours a day. The advert was a prank by a Brighton performance poet. I am not making any of this up. [more inside]
"Here’s what was off-limits, according to many of the people I grew up with: books about witchcraft, the writings of Anton LaVey, Ouija boards, New Age crystals, pentagrams, albums with backward masking, and the music of most heavy-metal bands. ... Yet here’s what was okay to enjoy, according to those same chums and acquaintances: The Omen. The Amityville Horror. Rosemary’s Baby. The Exorcist. These movies passed muster because they didn’t encourage people to dabble in the dark arts; they warned people." The Exorcist And The South's Love Of Devil Movies.
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, Chocky, 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.
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]
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]
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.
Alex Pappademas and Sean Witzke over at Grantland have a long, detailed, super geeky film-nerd discussion of the Alien franchise. "It's important to note here that this is a nuke-it-from-space kind of conversation in which just about every aspect of the original "Alien Quadrilogy" is spoiled, as are some fairly crucial plot points from Prometheus. The Alien vs. Predator movies are neither spoiled nor discussed, because that would mean acknowledging their existence. Some people will undoubtedly view this as curatorial negligence on our part, but we welcome their scorn. "
... 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]
The secrets of "Psycho's" shower scene. "In the course of my research, I read one allegation about the weeklong filming of the scene that both troubled and intrigued me, but none of the reference books I consulted elaborated on the assertion."
"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."
In order to promote their upcoming remake of The Wolf Man, Universal has launched Universal Monster Legacy (Flash with auto-playing audio), featuring music, posters, video clips and still galleries from the classic Universal Monster films. (via)
Here's to Ray Dennis Steckler, the independent filmmaker who wrote, starred (as Cash Flagg) and directed influential films including The Thrill Killers, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, and his masterpice The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. A visionary artist whose influnce is clearly seen in contemporary cinema, Steckler was prolific (producing movies from 1963 until last year), economical (his films were self-produced, shot on 16mm film and later Hi-8 video), and brilliant (as clearly evidenced in this dance sequence from Creatures, "The First Monster Musical"). It hasn't been widely reported yet, but fans are mourning his passing. He died in his sleep yesterday, January 7th, aged 70. [more inside]
RIP Tartan Films. The UK-based film distribution company has gone into administration, laying off it's entire staff. [more inside]
Trailers From Hell. Cult directors (and other industry types) introduce and comment on trailers for cult films. For instance, Allison Anders on Peeping Tom, Rick Baker on The Man Of A Thousand Faces, Joe Dante on Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman, Jack Hill on White Heat, Dan Ireland on The Haunting, Mary Lambert on The Masque Of The Red Death and Edgar Wright on Carnage. (Flash menu and intro unfortunately)
Hammer films are back! ... The classic British horror film company has returned from the dead with the first new film in 20 years to be first broadcast in instalments via MySpace. This has allowed some news programs to camp it up just a little... See the trailer here. Behind the scenes. [more inside]
"He was someone who acted out our psyches ... He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen... the history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from." A Valentine for Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. (BugMeNot for the first link; more inside)
"You can fool everybody, but landie dearie me, you can't fool a cat. They seem to know who's not right". The psychoanalyst calmly explains to his patient that her idea that she is turning into a member of the cat family is a fantasy; she silences him with fang and talon. Val Lewton made his name as a producer with the horror film Cat People, produced for RKO on a minuscule budget and directed by Jacques Tourneur. The star? French actress Simone Simon, who died today in Paris aged 93. More inside.