Click the picture below for the full review from The Blue Took of The Slaughtered Bird.
There are few films in our genre that are more beloved than The Monster Squad. It has withstood the rigors of time to become a cult classic, and with Halloween quickly approaching we wanted to remind all the moms / dads scrambling for great family viewing options to consider this film. It did, after all help inspire a love of the genre and monsters in many of us as children, so its only natural that we share it with our lil monsters this Halloween season!
Click the picture below for the full review from The Blue Took of The Slaughtered Bird.
I ADORE this film have often thought it to be sadly over looked I watch it at least once a year! Growing up Roman Catholic I can't help but love the blasphemous idolatry, and anti Christian dialogue spewed like so much snake venom! A classic that endures even today as far as I am concerned, so bad its good! And so damn Good it makes Hugh Grant look talented! Lets not forget the leading ladies of this one either who bring the sexy, with Catherine Oxenberg and the White Worm Loving, Amanda Donohoe!
But enough about my thoughts, its time to find out what The Blue Took, of The Slaughtered Bird, thinks about this one, click the picture link above to read his take on this controversial foreign 80s classic!
Original Review by
@TheBlueTook / The Slaughtered Bird
Originally published May 30, 2014
Originally Published February 26, 2014 | By Folklore
B-HIT OR B-SHIT: The Boogens (1981)
Directed by James L Conway on a budget of a mere $600,000, this lesser known American monster movie from the early 80′s horror boom involves the reopening of a Utah silver mine… closed for 70 years after a catastrophic cave-in, the circumstances of which remain one of the nearby town’s most legendary mysteries. When attempts are made to explore the mine shaft, the investigating party never return. The Boogens are vicious, blood-thirsty little dog-sized critters crawling up out of the dark and are now free to seek new prey on the outskirts of town....
Click the picture link above to access the rest of Folklore's great review of this 80s' classic, these boys definitely have a style about 'em I love read on and you will know exactly what I mean!
The Blair Witch Project
Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Written by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Starring Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams
and Joshua Leonard
Running time 81 minutes
Released July (30) 1999
Well if you're wondering why so many have been discussing this one again lately... Mystery solved! The Blair Witch Project has just celebrated her 15th anniversary, awwww shes becoming a woman, that's so sweet! Okay yeah seriously though, believe it or not its was 15 years ago almost to the day that this one was finally released on the populace. I think there are few genre fans who were watching back in '99 that don't know this movie. This one was a game changer, and to this day its is one of those films that people either absolutely adore, or just hate. There is no middle ground, its just one extreme or the other, and your about to find out which side of the fence I fall on! Whoo hooo lucky you!
Back in 1999 there was a marketing and media frenzy named The Blair Witch Project. Every where you turned you saw "in October 1994 three film making students disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. A year later, their footage was found..." on tv, on the net, it was on the lips of film fans nation over! Anyone who lived through the experience has to say as far as marketing these guys were damn near genius! In fact check out the missing posters that were being shown as part of the marketing ploy, and boy was it ever effective! I am willing to admit I was one of many thousands searching the internet trying to find out what this one was about, was this for real??? Everyone had an opinion and many believed fully that this truly was FOUND FOOTAGE, oh my!
The weeks passed and eventually the film found it way into local theaters, people were getting sick, patrons were leaving the theaters, and suddenly talk turned to the "shaky cam" and motion sickness, headaches and general ailments all attributed to watching the film (I have my own theory on this one but I will save it). Regardless people continued to talk about this one, so whether you like the film or not they did something that was so different that people talked about it for the better part of a year. (Can you say Free advertising? I knew you could!) Is it any wonder the film, made for a measly $25,000 dollars went on to gross over $240,000,000 in box office sales??
I like most went in with the highest of hopes. I was sure by the end of the film I'd be somehow changed by the experience, and I was changed, not the way I expected but changed non the less. Once it was over I couldn't go back... but we will get back to that.
The Blair Witch Project is the story of a group of documentarians who go in search of a legend armed only with some knowledge of the stories passed down, some camping gear and their cameras. What happens next is the stuff of cinematic history...
The performances in this one aren't so much acting as they are reacting. The directors sent the group into the woods with limited lines and not a whole lot of direction, instead they left notes at various spots telling them where to go next, with the full intent of messing with the actors minds. They wanted to capture truer emotional reaction, than they felt they would get if they proceeded in a more traditional sense.The actors were genuinely caught off by surprise in moments, but you will have to see if that works for you or not. In my opinion it was a huge flop of a film. Yes it grossed a butt load of money, so it was a success financially but in terms of entertainment value, it was just awful. Which is a huge statement for someone like me who can find redeeming qualities in just about any horror film!
Many things just didn't work for in this one. The lighting was a constant issue through out making for very dark scenes that were near impossible to make (sometimes entirely meant, I get that). The sound was another issue, it basically varied between whisper and blood curdling scream, which did nothing but annoy me (its a personal peeve of mine in movies, pick a volume level already ugh!). The story itself is extremely slow, with very little in the way of action, and the few moments here and there become just annoying due to Heather Donahues performance. She starts out the film as a normal, person and somewhere along the lines becomes this sniveling, whining embodiment of every thing annoying about a self important spoiled brat, leaving absolutely no room for any kind of empathy for her or her situation. In fact I really just wanted her to die from about 35 minutes in or so. I was basically praying for her death, it was that bad! In fact just thinking about it I am feeling that sensation of fingernails on the chalkboard, ughhhhhh (shivers). Her character was so frustrating its hard to even notice the other actors past the disdain for all that is her. (I actually feel a little bad for the poor girl, many felt the way I did and I have no doubt she has received a lot of grief over the years since regarding the role.) All of that leads back to problems with the direction given and the minimal script written, which of course fall squarely on the shoulders of the writers/directors on this one.
And finally the ending... its a mixed bag on that part for me. One on hand I think its a smart ending that showed some courage, on the part of the directors, but as a viewer it left me feeling very flat. I wanted something more defined I guess you could say. The Blair Witch Project is a film that just didn't deliver on any level for me personally. Which brings me back to how it changed me. The build up for this film was so huge and so successful, that the lack of any sort of enjoyment it brought me left me feeling jaded, and cynical. It took away some of the innocence in my naivety. I felt duped and angry, and would never look at "found footage" films with the same sort of hope or expectation. I still wonder what so many others saw that I missed, because believe me for as much as I dislike it, there are plenty who ADORE it.
The film does have a couple of creepy moments scattered about, just not enough for me. The Forest becomes almost a fourth character and lends a sense of foreboding especially in the night time scenes. Also some of the "problems" I have with this one make sense when you consider it is supposed to be found footage. Things like shaky cam, volume, lighting should to an extent be an issue in a found footage film, I just felt they should have used a bit more moderation. Whether I liked it or not this one changed the industry, showing the great potential low budget films have for huge profit margins. The film also used the internet in a way it hadnt been before in terms of movie marketing, and although it wasn't truly the first found footage film, it is definitely the one that everyone knows and gives credit to too in the genre since, all of that makes this a film that should be watched. It has a historic value that for good or bad will never be changed.
In writing this I sit here trying to figured out what it would be like to go into the film, fresh today, with out all the build up that we had back in the day. Would i see it differently had it not been built up to such gigantic proportions? I honestly don't know, but I would love to hear from some of you who have recently just seen this one for the first time, with out all the hype and hoopla, just another title like so many others... What are everyone thoughts on this one??
The Wicker Man
Directed by Robin Hardy
Written by Anthony Shaffer
Starring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward,
Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, and Diane Cilento
Running time 87 minutes
If you are looking for a film that will entice, intrigue, and remind you of how great old films can be you need look no farther than this one. The Wicker Man is currently celebrating its 40 yr anniversary (41st as of Dec of this year), and in rewatching it recently I was shocked at how well the film really does still hold up. It is a beautiful and important film in British film history that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.
The story follows Sgt. Howie as he travels to the Summerisle to search for a young local girl, Rowan, who has gone missing. Upon arriving at the isle we realize that the locals are preparing for a celebration of sorts, complete with Maypoles, old world pagan music and costumes of the most unsettling of natures. Problems begin to arise almost immediately for our dear Sgt. Howie, as the facts don't add up, nor does anyone truly seem to be all that concerned about finding young Rowan. He is personally disgusted and conflicted by the inhabitants of the island and their old world Pagan practices, which go directly against his very devout Christian beliefs. Those aren't the only dilemmas Sgt Howie faces while submersed in this very foreign environment, there is also the very sexy and inviting Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the tavern owner/inn keeper that he finds himself staying at. She is the human embodiment of the fertility and lushness of the isle, placing some very unclean thoughts in our chaste, devout Sgt.
When Sgt Howie can find little in the way of help from the locals he turns to Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), who is the latest in a line of ancestors to oversee, govern the isle, and its inhabitants. He gives poor Sgt Howie, a history lesson on the isle and some of their more "concerning" of practices, but will any of this help the Sgt find Rowan? How can he, a man alone, devout in his beliefs, sway these heathens to see the light? Will his fears come to fruition, is poor Rowan to be an unwilling sacrifice to some strange pagan God, or is something even more sinister awaiting???
If you haven't seen this one you just have no idea what you are missing, it is as brilliant now as when it first came out almost 41 years ago, and it has stood the test of time beautifully! Hell I wish I still looked so fresh lol! Yes the styles date the film but everything else is still so incredible. The film is stunning to see with its lush back drop, use of symbolic imagery, and color schemes. The acting is intense, and driving, as much so as the incredible soundtrack that features an actual folk song for the 1300's. The music pulses with dramatic drum beats and rhythms that sweep you up, just as they do Willow (Britt Ekland) in her famous dance scene! Christopher Lee is such a strong presence in this film and still considers it to be one of his best movies ever, which in itself says so much. Edward Woodward (Sgt Howie) is fantastic as the devout chaste man, one minded in his search, but yet drawn in ways to Willow that you see terrify and disgust him. And of course theres is the lovely Britt, who truly does embody fertility and abundance of the pagan practices she is portraying!
It is one of a handful of films that fall into the category of Folk Horror, and I have to say I love the sub genre. They play on the fears we and practices and fears of generation past. The kind of thing that makes for great stories told around the campfire, or translate to creepy, interesting films. The Wicker Man is a film that begs to be seen! It is a reminder of how fantastic a cinematic past we have to revisit, and share with the generations that have come after ours. It was ahead of its time then and still today remains a bit controversial for some with the strong sexual, and religious tones, so if you are sensitive to those (ummm then what are you doing here lol) it may offend, but for everyone else take a look back with us this week and revisit a classic, seminal horror work in THE WICKER MAN!
Directed by John Pieplow
Written by Dee Snider
Starring Dee Snider, Robert Englund,
Linda Cardellini, Kevin Gage,
Elizabeth Pena, and Brett Harrelson
Running Time 87 minutes
Long before the Twisted Twins took on the underground world of body modification with their cult indie hit American Mary, Rocker Icon of the 80s Dee Snider brought the practice to the attention of the masses with Strangeland. It was more than just a statement about body mods though more importantly it took the frighteningly real subject of internet predation, in a time when many where fairly blind to the risks it posed especially to young adults. Few people at the time considered the possible very scary ramifications of chatting it up in private chat rooms, giving details of their lives to complete strangers, letting their children surf the internet with limited supervision, assuming it was safe since they were doing it from the security of their homes.
The recent disappearance of several local youths has authorities including local cop Mike Gage (Kevin Gage) on edge, and looking for clues to their where abouts. Little does Mike known the search is about to become very personal with the disappearance of his own daughter,Genevieve (Linda Cardellini) and her friend Tiana (Amal Rhoe). It comes to light that Genevieve has been hanging around in chat rooms online, and something seems a bit off with one of her friends Captain Howdy (Dee Snider). What has happened to the two young girls? Is Captain Howdy to blame? Will Mike be able to get to his daughter in time?? And where does Robert Englund fit into all of this? (He actually plays a GREAT role in this one!)
I don't want to say too much about this one because I realize many out there may not have seen this one before. Its really kind of an overlooked film, thats got some fun twists and turns and honest to goodness creepiness to it.Truth be told it was ahead of its time and laid the groundwork for future films such as Megan is Missing and American Mary! When this film first came out I found it a bit unnerving, you didn't hear a whole lot about adults pretending to be teens hanging out in youth chatrooms, the very ugly and scary world of predation on the computer savvy youth just wasnt that big of a discussion. This was a film that made teens and parents a bit more nervous about what they did and who they talked to because it pushed the subject right into your face.
The film is about middle class suburbia too! When you watch this one you will know what I mean. It shows the misguided assumptions that people tend to make, especially in a time before things like bod mods became so much more mainstream. It shows how mob mentality can build until those who thought they were standing for something good and right can become just as wrong as the thing they are standing against. The film in whole is filled with so many deep messages that it is hard to remember it came from a man that helped us piss off our parents and say screw you to the authority of the day! Of course you don't have to delve into meanings, you can just enjoy it for the strange twisted creepy film it is!
Dee Snider and the director probably didn't intend for this film to become part of Horror History, but if you look at it realistically it is. They did a great job bringing these subjects into the light, and its cool to look at all those who have followed the path in the years since. The film is just as meaningful now as it was when it came out, the reality of these issues hasn't changed, which continues to make this film just a little bit creepy for me! Check it out and tell us your views, we would love to hear from you!
Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Brandon Boyce
Based on Apt Pupil by Stephen King
Starring Brad Renfro, Ian Mckellen Award
Running time 111 minutes
Apt Pupil is the film adaptation of Apt Pupil:Summer of Corruption from the Stephen King collection Different Seasons (which has actually spawned a total of 3 films including Shawshank Redemption, and Stand By Me) The written story differs from the book in several aspects. The violence level is much more understated in the film version, leading to a completely different ending for the film, which may sound like a bad thing at first but actually in some ways the film ending is darker. The timeline of the film is also vastly different, with the story progressing over the course of numerous years, where as the film takes place in the course of less than a year. Those differences aside the film very much holds the feel of Kings original work, with a taut, darkness that permeates the production.
Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) is a gifted student, he is studying the Holocaust in his history class and becomes obsessively interested in the horror of Nazi history. He realizes through extensive study that his elderly neighbor Arthur Denker (Ian McKellen) is in reality Kurt Dussander, a Nazi SS war criminal hiding in plain site. Bowden appears at Dussander's door and proceeds to tell him that he knows the mans secret. Dussander tries to deny the truth, threatening to call the police for harassment. Bowden calls the old mans bluff, and there begins Todd Bowdens plan to blackmail Dussander, but his payoff isn't money or gifts, its information. Bowden wants the gory details of the concentration camp atrocities told to him first hand by a man wanted for his part in those war crimes. Dussander, at first unwillingly, obliges the young man, but as the days pass the relationship between the two grows, as does the evil inside them both. What happens when you wake long buried evil within a man, and have a willing pupil ready to feast on the madness contained???
Although this film was a bit of a flop in terms of money, costing 14 million to make and bringing less than 9 million in box office sales, it was an award winning vehicle for both Renfro and McKellen. The film itself also won a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film 1998. Reception of the film was mixed among critics with some seeing it as a bit weak or implausible (with a student somehow finding a nazi war criminal no one else noticed). I both agree and disagree, yes the fact that Renfro is able to deduct who his neighbor is seemed a bit contrived, stranger things have happened in reality. The film doesn't hold the violence level many expected after reading the story but the film is still incredibly powerful and horribly dark, with incredible performances by both Renfro and Mckellen. The relationship that grows between the two characters is mesmerizing, watching as the power ebbs and flows from Bowden to Dussander, and back again.
This film takes you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, you feel almost a deep pity for Dussander at points and at others you just as deeply are disgusted by him, and Bowden is no different. You watch as evil infects, from boy to man, and then man to boy, its an interesting journey that is made all the more believable by what we ALL know to be the truth of this type of psychology. I admit I think the film would have been well served to keep on a bit more of the violence, it would have made for a stronger horror film so to say, but the lack of violence doesn't diminish the utter blackness of the film. This is just a fantastic movie, and both McKellen and Renfro put out performances that help define just how talented they both are. To date this is still one of my favorite King adaptations, its just such a powerful piece, this is a film to collect and a story to read. One last point as I mentioned before the film and the story endings differ pretty greatly. The film ending is actually as dark, if not more so than the story, just in a different way. Its a nice surprise for those who have read, but not watched the adaptation, or the other way around. If you are looking for something that's different from the usual standard horror check this one out, its more than worth the time!
Directed by Luis Llosa
Written by Hans Bauer, Jim Cash
and Jack Epps Jr.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, John Voight,
Eric Stoltz, Kari Wuher, Owen Wilson and
Running time 89 minutes
What do you get when you add a giant snake with a mad man bent on revenge, and a naive film crew trying to find a lost tribe?? Why monster movie magic, thanks for asking! Anaconda is another film the long history of nature gone wrong thrillers, that take something that is a pretty normal fear, big snakes, and exaggerate it to monolithic proportions, 'cause bigger is always scarier right?!
Anaconda is a bit all over the place on the review scale when it was originally released back in 1997. It was nominated for both Saturn Awards (best Actress for J. Lopez & Best Horror Thriller) and numerous Golden Raspberry Awards (ranging from worst acting award, to worst directing and many more , 6 nominations in all), but went on to be a loser in both. The film is a complete contradiction its listed in the Official Razzie book as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made! It came in with a budget of around 45 million, but went on to bring in almost 100 million more than it cost to make, pretty profitable in any book!
The story is almost a modern Moby Dick, only instead of Ishmael and Ahab hunting a giant whale you have Terri (J.Lo) and Paul Serone (Jon Voight) hell bent on finding and capturing this elusive mythological giant snake. The story starts off with a film crew made up of Terri, Danny (Ice Cube), Gary (Owen Wilson), Denise (Kari Wuhrer), Warren (Jonathon Hyde), and Dr. Cale (Eric Stoltz) boarding a boat in the South american rain forest preparing for a trek to document their search for the lost Tribe of The Shirishama. During their journey they stumble upon Paul Serone who is in distress, on the water and welcome him aboard where he tells them he knows of their Tribe, and offers to help them find what they seek, but his plans aren't as pleasantly helpful as he tries to make them believe. It doesn't take long for the truth of his nefarious plan to come to light. As if the jungle didn't offer enough in the way of dangers, now theres a mad man to contend with too! Will any of these poor naive documentarians make it out of the jungle alive, or will Serone and his giant snake prove to be the end of them all???
This film is as addictive as coffee! Its one of those so bad its good films which tends to be the case with many of the nature gone wrong films in my opinion. The cast is made up of some pretty big names in entertainment but at the time many of them were still sort of budding in the industry, well with the notable exception of Academy Award Winner Voight! The acting is old fashioned cheesy goodness especially by Voight who just lays it on thick in this one, and really drives the movie as far as I'm concerned. Opposite his portrayal of bad guy Serone we have J Lo as the primary protagonist, who tries to play her role very seriously making for a fun combination of classic maniacally bad vs oh so sweet good. The film combines some decent tension with silly humor and over the top CGI effects in the baddie of all baddies the Giant Anaconda, but set against some really beautiful back drops in the jungle river boat scenes. When you put all of these elements together you end up with a film that is actually a really good time! Its a fun, silly romp of a film that will make you jump a bit , laugh and honest to goodness enjoy yourself. So grab the popcorn and drinks, gather up the group and settle in for a bit of mindless fun with this one!
The Amityville Horror
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay by Sandor Stern
Based on the Book by Jay Anson
Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder,
Rod Steiger, Don Stroud and
Running time 118 minutes
Releases July 1979
The Amityville Horror, a story that even today continues to have a fair amount of debate around it. One of Americas great modern tales of "true" hauntings, it all depends on who you discuss it with as to whether they are on the side of true story or of long running hoax. We could debate the subject for hours, with numerous books, tv specials, and various documentaries made about the story over the years and covering both the Defeos and Lutzes. Instead however we shall just look at the films merits, and~or lack there of.
At a price that couldnt be beat, newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz have just bought their Dream home in the picturesque community of Amityville. Its a large home on the water, complete with boat house and dock, perfect for the premade family (2 children and a dog) George married into. All seems wonderful for this lovely family or does it?
Previous owners, the Defeos, met a strange and brutal demise in the home, well most of them anyway. 6 of the DeFeo family were murdered under very strange circumstances by the eldest brother Ronald Jr. Ronald claimed demon possession led to the murders, however he was found guilty of the brutal acts, but that has not answered some very troubling questions about the case. (All of this is true and factual the rest is open to personal belief.)
Troubling occurrences begin happening to the family almost immediately upon moving in. Kathy calls the local Father to come and bless the house, setting off a chain of events that range from the mundane to the downright crazy. Father Delaney finds himself overrun with thousands of flies in one particular room of the house while becoming violently ill in various others, while trying to bless the home. George becomes morose, and sullen, while Kathy searches for answers, and the children start to have experiences of their own, including a memorable moment with the babysitter. Finally 28 days after first moving in we watch in horror as the George and, Kathy, with kids and dog in tow, flee the house in the middle of the night leaving all their personal belongings, never to return.
I may get skewered for this but I am not a huge fan of this film, although there is much more action than I made mention of Its a slow and often dismal film in my eyes. I am a huge fan of the book and still to this day find the possibility of it somewhat disconcerting, but somehow the film lost all of the tension that is in the book and becomes almost annoying in its complete lack of scares. The special effects are pretty limited, the writing leaves something to be desired. I didn't at all empathize with the family, not even as young kid watching this one years ago, which says a lot! If you cant even inspire anxiety or compassion in a child what the hell are are you offering the adults watching? I was honestly more scared watching a television special back in the early 80s about the making of, than I was of the actual film. So watch if you must, I get it its an American haunting of epic proportions and who knows maybe it will speak to you in a way it couldn't me, but if not... dont say I didnt warn you!
Directed by Gerald Potterton
Screenplay By Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum
Starring Harvey Atkin, John Candy, Eugene Levy
Marilyn Lightstone, Harold Ramis, Alice Playten
and many more
Music by Sammy Haggar, Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey,
Stevie Knicks, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath,
Nazareth and many more
Running time 91 minutes
Heavy Metal is more than a movie its a mind bending animated experience, that I believe should be enjoyed by all! This is one of those films that was almost a right of passage growing up, and you weren't really cool until you were old enough to watch this one. Its sexy, horror sci fi based animation that melds many genre into one with tons of gore, action, sex, humor and eventually even some really heartfelt moments in adult animation. I'm not so proud that I will try to deny the film makes me cheer, laugh and even cry every time.
This Canadian masterpiece was born of the magazine of the same name and is a retelling of some of the previously published stories from it. Its an anthology piece that as mentioned blends multiple genres ranging from sci fi, horror, to comedy, action, fantasy and more. Several different animation houses worked on the film simultaneously to ensure the film could get out in a timely schedule. It has some of the best animation of the time represented in it with as many various styles as there are pieces in the anthology.
Heavy Metal is made up of about 7 different shorts each with the common thread of the Loc-Nar. A strange glowing orb of destruction on a grand scale, that narrates through out the film, telling stories of the doom its brought upon others through time and space. Don't despair villians always come with hero's and this story is no different, with the Loc-Nar's arch nemesis being the Taarakians, now if only we can find one before the Loc-Nar gets through his story..
I think you all can see where I stand on this one, it is an absolute MUST watch. Its a piece that screams of the time but in a grand and fun way. The entire film is like a who's who list of actors and bands of the time, many of whom have gone on to great careers, and are still today highly esteemed. It is a film with a very classic story line of good versus evil done in a very twisted unique way. This is a movie that screams for a party to go along with, cause this one is just even more fun with friends. Its got a soundtrack that rocks, and some very very adult animation (aka lots of sex, nudity, violence with little left to the imagination), so make sure the kiddies are in bed for this one or better yet over at Grandmas!
The Last House on the Left
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham
Starring David Hess, Lucy Grantham, Sandra Cassel,
Marc Sheffler and Ada Washington
This is one of my all time favorites, its one of the best exploitation films of the 70s and if you read up on it Wes Craven actually was judged by friends and acquaintances for this one when it came out, because of its extreme nature. Originally the film was meant for just a small select audience, so Craven never had anticipation that anyone he knew would ever actually see it but it grew like fire well beyong the expectations. This was not the first time Wes and Sean worked together nor would it be their last. Written almost on a whim, as Cunningham had come to Craven telling him he knew some who had some money and wanted something Hardcore if they could do it... The rest is cinematic history.
The film centers around Mari, its her 17th birthday and shes out to have some fun. her and a girlfriend go looking to score some drugs, but definitely end up on the bad end of the deal in this one. Mari and her girlfriend find themselves held against their will and taken to the woods where the gang of nasties have their way with them. Once our group of miscreants have had their fill of the young girls they go about finding a place to bed for the night, unbeknownst to them they through a cruel act of fate find themselves bedding down at Maris home with her anxious parents still awaiting their daughters return. The parents realize something is very wrong and the proverbial shit hits the fan, on a massive scale.
This is one of those films that even a good 25 yrs after seeing it for the first time can still make me a bit squeamish in a couple of particularly cruel and powerful scenes. Last House on the Left has been cut and re-cut and restored and then cut again about a thousand times so there are too many different versions out there to discuss all of them but know it is possible to own multiple copies of this film and all of them be slightly to vastly different. There are reports that this is one of those films that upon release actually had people fleeing from the theaters, passing out and more, leading to the tagline Just keep telling yourself Its only a movie, its only a movie, its only a movie...
The film is not just great exploitation with edge of your seat push the envelope scares its also got a lot of dark humor, most evident in the music used in the movie which completely contradicts the emotion and tone of the moment throughout the film which is really somewhat unsettling in itself. The film has grown to be a huge cult success for those who like myself enjoy the history of the exploitation genre and more graphic films. It made me a life long fan of Wes Craven and even though he has mellowed a bit over the years he will always hold a special place with me for his early work which I truly adore. If you haven't seen the original you most defiantly should its a very important film in the forward movement of this sub genre of horror, it helped pave the way for some of our favorites of today, and although it is visually dated at this point that actually lends to the charm and creepiness in a weird sort of way. so pop up some corn and get settled in for a wild weird and sometimes uncomfortable ride! And remember, it's only a movie. it's only a movie, its' only a movie...
Directed by Rupert Wainwright
Written by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage
Starring Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne,
Johnathon Pryce, and Nia Long
Running time 103 minutes
I admit I am a total sucker for any horror films that have any religious overtones, or religion plays any real role in the story. I was raised Roman Catholic on my dads side and Lutheran on my moms. My dad was actually in the seminary for about 5 or 6 years studying to be a Priest, obviously there was a change of plans or I wouldn't be here typing today. Anyway it means that religion played a big part in my growing up, I was always interested in the similarity and differences and have since an early age read up on many religions both mainstream and not. Horror just kind of fed into the interest for me, exposing me to some that i may not have otherwise come across,and broadening my horizons and my scope of research. Films like Stigmata always catch my attention as they play directly into that realm of curiosity and the truest form of Good vs Evil in the spiritual sense, so it was only natural that eventually Id find my way back to religious based horror for a throwback. I'm sure many are wondering why not Exorcist, well simple enough although its fantastic it has also been written to death especially with the 41st Anniversary, so why rehash something you've probably read about a half dozen times this year already when there is so much other great fodder for review?!
Frankie (Patricia Arquette) is a happy 20 something hairdresser that Lives, meaning shes no saint! She parties with friends, drinks has sex, she does all the things that most 20 somethings do and she is happy as hell doing it, all is good in Frankie's world. That is until she received a package in the mail, mixed in with the contents is a rosary, that it later turns out belonged to someone who was particularly well know to the hierarchy of the Church. Shortly after receiving the gifts via mail, Frankie begins to exhibit some very strange behavior, becoming almost combative with People of the cloth on the subway, writing in ancient texts, suffering hallucinations and most disturbingly bleeding from the classical wounds of Stigmata (hands/wrists, feet, head, and finally chest).
It isn't long before the Chruch is involved Cardinal Houseman (Johnathon Price) approves the suave Father Andrew Kiernan's (Gabriel Byrne) involvement in the investigation of the case. He regularly investigates for the Church being that he is both a man of Science and a man of God, leaving him in the unique position of struggling with occasional religious doubts. He turns from skeptic to believer as he watches Frankie's symptoms of possession worsens, realizing something must be done or she will not only lose her life but her soul as well. Father Kiernan goes to the Cardinal with his fears and evidence but the Cardinal seems to have some secrets of his own, and becomes less than supportive of Father Kiernan's stance in regards to Frankie's "treatment". Will Frankie find peace in the midst of this holy battle raging on inside her or will she take Father Kiernan into hell with her! And will the Church survive its with it secrets in tact, or will religion as we know it forever change?
I am a big fan of this one (although many are not) for reasons above what we've already discussed.Lets start with the fact that this film is 15 years old this year yet when i revisited it for this review it didn't feel at all dated, which in itself is an achievement. Then there's the cast in this one, so incredibly strong! Johnathon Price is just awesome in his role as the"Dirty" Cardinal, Gabriel Byrne is well, he is just always perfect in the role of a Priest. I don't know why but something about him ( I am always extra excited when I see him cast a Religious man!)... Patricia Arquette, who I am not usually a big fan of, carries her role in this one with a range that I am not used to seeing from her, shes vile, harsh one second and vulnerable carrying almost a sad innocence the next. She really does fantastic. The story is well written, and keeps things very interesting, using various theories (some would call them conspiracies) of the Catholic Church very effectively to tell a tale that turns out to be something bigger than the usual possession. So say your prayers, turn down the lights and a take a look back at another film that caused a bit of a stir in its day, Stigmata ~ a Bloody good time! (ah yeah, I went there!)
Directed By Ted Post
Written by Abe Polsky
Starring Anjanette Comer, Tod Andrews,
Marianna Hill, Ruth Roman, and David Mooney
Running Time 85 minutes
Released March 1973
Coming in at 41 yrs old The Baby is anything BUT a baby! Of Course don't tell that to the Wadsworth women, seems they don't like to let things grow up! This is one of those films that most of today's viewers don't really seem to aware of, which is another reason I chose it for this weeks Throwback piece, part of what Throwback Thursday should do in my opinion is broaden our readers horizons with films the may not have otherwise been exposed to if not for the column. That pretty well covers this film, it had a fairly limited release back in its hey day, and then went mostly unheard of until released on DVD and VHS in 2000 by Image Entertainment, reintroducing it to new generation of looking for drive in style cult classics!
So the premise of the movie is fairly simple although pretty unbelievable! The Baby is actually a 21 yr old man, who through abuse, neglect and extreme, albeit selective, over protection, has never progressed past the equivalent of an infant. He has two sister both from different fathers, who live with him and their mother all assisting in the proper care and torment of Baby. Baby also has a social worker Ann ( Anjanette Comer) who has taken a very special interest in Baby. Ann carries a whole lot of personal guilt since an accident that severely injured her husband, but seems to be finding her way through it by throwing herself into this special case, but are her motives really as pure as they seem?
The Baby is a film that I didnt really think too much of the first time I saw it but begrudgingly I admit it has grown on me, since that first watch. Granted its pretty silly, and brings to mind strange fetishes that I prefer to stay away from, its is also weirdly entertaining. You have this Adult man crawling around in a diaper, sucking a bottle (things I thought I could only find on Springer), and the state knows about the him yet somehow they allow him to continue on in his current home?! But really who am I kidding its not like anyone watching this film is sitting with thoughts of OH NO lets call Family and Childrens services!!
The baby is one of those films that you wish you could see at the Drive-In, it screams for that ambiance. Its filled with strange sexual overtones, and the type of political incorrectness of the late 60s early 70s could get away with, mixed in with a little bit of anti women lib, add to that a twist ending (ok maybe its not that much of a twist) to close it off . All good reasons to bring this film to its current level of cult status. Its not going to change your life, or even make much in the way of film history, but it is weirdly fun so pull out the plastic couch covers and make this one feel authentic when you settle if for this weeks throwback!
Directed by Dan Curtis
Written by Dan Curtis & William F. Nolan
Starring Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith,
Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Anthony James,
& Lee Montgomery
Running time 116 minutes
Burnt Offerings is a classic haunted house/possession film. The all star cast in this is downright phenomenal, some of the best names of the time are attached. This is a film that I think many overlook as the years pass, in part due to the fact that its not at all gore or sex driven like many of the films from the era. Burnt Offerings is a film that masters the driving force of psychological suspense, and give you some great edge of your seat jump moments. The film and cast got several nods in the form of awards, winning the Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film, Best Director and Best Actress for Karen Blacks role as Marian Rolf, Karen and Dan also won Sitges
Film Festival Awards again for Best Director and Best Actress, with Burgess Meredith winning Best Actor, for his role Arnold Allardyce. Burnt Offerings is a very formulaic film, but it was one of the early ones to use this formula. It has since been duplicated or pulled from a million times, making it an important piece in the history of the genre.This film has always struck a chord with me, it sucks me in and gives me goosebumps every time.
The Rolf family is looking for a getaway, they rent a somewhat rundown but very large estate from the Allardyce siblings Arnold and Roz, who inform them the the rental is conditional. It seems that their mother will remain in the home with the Rolf family. Marian is informed by the siblings that she is a woman who values her privacy, and will need her meals taken to her room daily. The Rolfs agree that it is a fair trade off for the home and price, so the brood (Ben, Marian, son David and Aunt Elizabeth) settle in for what they expect to be a relaxing summer. Unfortunately events conspire against them as accidents begin plague the family, tension grows, leading to violent outbursts between the family members increasing the oppressive tension of the film. Marian becomes increasingly obsessive about the home and Mrs Alldaryce, alienating herself from her own family as the days pass, while at the same time the house seems to be coming back to life with no effort from short term residents. Will the Rolf family make it out in time? What is going on with the reclusive Mrs Alldaryce, is she to blame for the strange occurrences?? Only one way to find out folks, dust this classic film off and check it out for yourself!
Directed Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin
Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S Dutton & F. Murray Abraham
Running Time 105 minutes
When trying to pick a movie for Throwback Thursday I try to think of movies that keep me returning to them year after year, films that entertain well past their expected shelf lives, at least for me. I was a bit stuck this week though as Mimic kept coming to mind but seemed much to recent to be a throwback. So I went to my handy dandy pad, pulled up the specs and was shocked. I rubbed my eyes and read again, wow, the years they do pass quickly! Its been almost 17 years since this films release, well shock me senseless! I am still a bit dumbfounded by that fact. It;s hard to believe I have been revisiting this film for that long, with that realized the choice was easy, Mimic is definitely well suited for this weeks Throwback!
Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) and her colleague husband (Jeremy Northam) have become Manhattans hero's with their creation of a super bug The Judas Breed. Its this weird creepy creature that is intended to wipe out the roach infestation that the city has been plagued by. The roaches are spreading a disease that is killing off Manhattans children, and as we all know nothing kills cockroaches. That's where our power couple come in, with their bio-engineered bug releasing an enzyme that kills off the roaches. The project succeeds where all others have failed! YAY! No more nasty roaches, and the children of Manhattan are once again safe. What can possibly go wrong?? Well turns out a lot!
Fast forward a few years and we find that the population of Judas Breed is still active, which baffles our scientists as they bred only female bugs, attempting to ensure almost immediate extinction. Not only are they breeding but they are growing to incredible sizes within the relatively safe confines of the Manhattan subway system. So off we go in search of the colony, and the terrors that are sure to follow.
The reasons i go back to this film are many. I love monsters,and this one definitely falls into the monster movie category. Then there's the classic del Toro suspense in this film, no matter how many times I see this film I find myself tensing up in moments despite myself. The story is a classic one as well which helps to make it timeless, science gone wrong in an attempt to save humanity. The film is very story and character driven, but it has some really memorable effects as well. It just doesn't rely on them, which is another thing I really enjoy about this one Mimic is classic del Toro of the nineties, edgy, dark with great story telling. I definitely recommend you pull this one out and dust it off for another viewing!
Interesting side note del Toro was not entirely happy with the theatrical version of this film as he did not have final cut, however in 2011 the Directors Cut of Mimic became available so keep an eye out for that version, I myself have not seen that one but I will definitely be hunting it down!
Night of the Living Dead (Remake)
Directed by Tom Savini
Screenplay George A. Romero
Starring Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles,
Heather Mazur, Katie Finneran, and Bill Mosely
Running time 92 minutes
Released October 1990
I like most fans am not entirely happy with all the constant remakes that seem to be in never ending supply, especially in my favorite genre. However every once in a while one comes along that just blows the doors off our preconceived notions about remakes and their place, in the early 90's that's what Night of the Living dead did. It caught us by surprise and left us speechless, because some how Savini, Romero, and cast were able to take a film that was not only loved, but a game changer in the genre, and maintain the integrity of the original film but still modernize and twist it just enough to make feel fresh and interesting all over again.
The story doesn't change much we still start out in the cemetery, and move on to the farmhouse with the cast of characters we expect, trying to stave off the zombie horde, while trying to find a way to escape to safety at the same time. The change comes from the portrayal of the characters more than anything, but there are small variances throughout the film, that give it a fresh appeal and make you want to continue to see whats coming. The end of this remake is stellar, I loved how it came together, the slight twists to what we think we know, and the additional story line at the end of the film is so true to human nature, it all really sold this remake for me.
You cant talk about this film without making mention of the fantastic performances that in particular Patricia Tallman, and Tony Todd put forth. Patricia brings a strength blended with calm resolve that is really fun to watch evolve as the movie plays out. Tony Todd steals this one though! Its easy to overlook sometimes just how much depth he has as an actor, and this film (along with another I watched recently check my film reviews section for Sushi Girl) is a grand example of what we often over look with him. He plays Ben with a full range of emotions, tender and kind one moment to hard as nails the next. He is so believable in the role, drawing you into his conflicts with other characters and his own inner struggle because of the situation they find themselves in. It is easy to see why he has gone on to the iconic status in the genre.
This is definitely a great film, and if you haven't yet seen it you should! It just works on all levels and will help remind you as a fan that sometimes a remake isn't a bad thing!
Directed by Joe Dante
Screenplay by John Sayles
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies,
Dick Miller, Barbara Steele and Kevin McCarthy
Running time 94 minutes
Released August 3, 1978
The warm weather is quickly approaching, and it will soon be time to don our suits and hit the lakes for a refreshing swim, so I thought what better time to revisit a Roger Corman classic. I admit I watch this movie at least once a year, I cant help myself its just good ol' fun! Piranha came out on the heels of Jaws, billed as a parody. I believe its safe to say it far exceeded expectations pulling in $10 million internationally in box office sales! In fact it did so well, a sequel to the film was made Piranha 2: The Spawning, with remakes in 1995, 2010 and a sequel to the 2010 remake in 2012. So it seems to have become quite a franchise over the years, and it all started with this original $770,000 budgeted bit of campiness.The enormous success helped pave the way for other great eco themed B films of the era, most of which are go to films for me on rainy days with the family!
We start off with young lovers, taking a dip by moonlight. Oh no where did they go, has peril befallen our young couple?! With our lovers now missing, the not so bright but determined investigator Maggie (Heather Menzies) is sent to find the missing teens. A city girl out in the country, in way over her head stumbles upon a mysterious government installation.Shes accompanied by local good guy, gone alcoholic, who begrudgingly helps her every step of the way. Together they take on military science gone wrong. Are Maggie and her companions going to solve the mystery in time or will the townspeople find that they're nothing more than fish food??
Piranha is a great example of what we expect from Corman. Fun campy, slightly unbelievable, with just enough reality to let us get sucked into his alternative universe. His films rarely, if ever disappoint. Yes its a bit dated, but it is also a happy walk down memory lane. This is a fantastic pick for a Saturday afternoon at home with the family, something you can share with your kids, without too much worry. So pop the corn, grab the candy, and settle in for this classic cult flick!
Something strange in the neighborhood, who you gonna call??! That's right Peter, Egon, Raymond, and let's not forget Winston. The Ghostbusters are in the house for our Throwback Thursday. It just seems fitting with the rumors of part 3 and the recent passing of Harold Ramis, who played Egon in the film series.
Ghostbusters was directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. From the minute it graced the big screen you knew that it had all of the makings of being a cult classic for years to come. It starts out with three parapsychology professors trying to prove the existence of ghosts, when they finally get their proof they realize they don't know what to do. The three become unemployed and open their own ghost removal service and the non-stop laughs follow. Little do they know that all of the ghost they are encountering are leading up to one big showdown with Gozer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
The all star cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, (who by the way is an uncredited writer) and so many more is part of what makes this a timeless classic that our generations past, present, and future are sure to love.
In the end good triumphs over evil. Peter gets the girl, and everyone is covered in Marshmallow man ooze, ahh good times. So if you haven't seen it you should and if you have, watch it again. What better or more fitting way can we say good bye to one of the comedy geniuses of our generation, than by enjoying a laugh with him one more time...
Nov. 21, 1944 to Feb. 24, 2014
You will be missed but never forgotten...
Thanks for the good times!
Directed, Written & Produced by Ralph Bakshi
Narrated by Susan Tyrrell
Starring Bob Holt, Jesses Welles, Richard Romanus,
David Proval, Steve Gravers
Running time 80 minutes
Released February 1977
Since its Thursday I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and do a throw back today! Wizards, one of my favorite animation films of the late 70s, was also the first "adult oriented" animation i ever watched and needless to say I was hooked! The story is a basic good against evil, brother against brother story, add some fairies, mutants, dwarves, storm-troopers, and a robot on a mission to kill and you are just beginning to see the possibilities of this very dark apocalyptic tale. Its a grand scale Fantasy/Science Fiction film, that I give thanks for!
The film is such an incredible work of art, drawn in that sexy trendy style that is so Bakshi, bright vibrant colors, amazing music, and characters you can really get behind. Wizards may be animated but it is most definitely not your Saturday morning cartoon. The story is oppressively dark at times although Bakshi does a fantastic job lightening things with irreverent humor, and sarcasm. The film splices in old archival footage of WWII Nazi Propaganda including bits of speeches given by Hitler, the stark grainy black and white propaganda films are tied into the story incredibly well through the approaching 2nd holocaust at the hands of the wizard Blackwolf aka Fuhrer of Scortch. Avatar, Blackwolfs brother, finds that it has fallen to him and his ragtag band of cohorts to stop the impending doom lest we suffer another nuclear war.
This is one of those must see films, there honestly is no way to explain just how visually stunning and emotionally involving this film is. I have seen grown men brought to tears by the stark images of our real life past in this film, only moments after laughing out loud at the witty dialogue. If you can find this buy it, and hold it dear this is film that is a great accompaniment to any horror film collection.