Category Archives: Halloween

HOUSE is a bad trip caught on film

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The 70′s…yeah, what else needs to be said? A decade filled with outstanding art, music, cinema and most importantly Horror. The Exorcist, Halloween, The Omen and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre carved an indelible mark into the psyche of the youngin’s brave enough to watch and some adults too. But during this Renaissance there was something far more sinister and down right trippy occurring in other parts of the world. A film, equally as dynamic and perhaps a little insane, nobuhiko-obayashi-vagabond-of-timewas destroying the screens in Japan and disturbing a lot of young minds.

House directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and produced by TOHO, is a simple story about a girl and her friends, who visit’s her ailing aunt in the remote countryside of Japan, only to discover her aunt is a witch that allows her home to devour the girls one by one.

Seems simple enough, until you watch it.

The film’s pace and look is spastic and often times incoherent, but it makes for some good viewing…you will not be bored. Nobuhiko Obayashi incorporates techniques that were used by famous directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski. Fake skies, A B rolls, confusing soundtracks and crazy edits, gets served up every second in this film. House_115.psdKind of like  a cartoon, all the character’s are larger than life, with names that are as silly as some of the scenes. The lead girl’s name is Gorgeous  (the pretty one), which is probably just a translation issue. She’s followed by Prof (the smart one), Kung Fu (the bad ass), Mac (The fat one, but she isn’t fat at all), Melody (the piano player), Fantasy (Whatever) and Sweet (….). These seemingly naive girls, accompany Gorgeous to her aunts house for a summer getaway, but things get crazy when Mac suddenly disappears. How we find out what happened to Mac is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on film. One of the girls goes looking for her and decides to check the well…she begins pulling the rope expecting to see a watermelon, they had tethered to it earlier to keep it cool, since the house lacks a fridge, she instead finds Mac’s “still moving head”. The head, now an eerie blue color and clearly green screened, flies out of the girls hand and bites her on the ass. From that moment on, I knew I must watch this whole film. Thinking that that might be it for the “craziness”, I was met with an onslaught of images throughout the film that had me thinking that if I was on acid while watching this, this wouldn’t be good, but I was able to distance myself from the “not so disturbing as much as it was psychotic” story.

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Half way through the film it became a test of endurance. My mind struggled to figure out what was Nobuhiko Obayashi inspiration for some of these scenes. What did they mean? Were they metaphors or was he just trying to be as crazy as possible? If I had read this script, I probably would’ve ran from it, given the confusing pace. But for all my misgivings, it’s a thought out picture and although Obayashi never used a storyboard and there was apart of me that thought he could be making this shit up as he went along, it was perfect in it’s execution, but not everybody shared the same sentiment about Nobuhiko Obayashi vision including Obayashi.

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(via. Wiki)

Obayashi described the attitude on the set as very upbeat as he often skipped, sang and played quiz games with the younger actresses on the set. Despite having fun on the set, members of the Toho crew felt the film was nonsense.Obayashi found the acting of the seven girls to be poor while trying to direct them verbally. He began playing the film’s soundtrack on set, which changed the way the girls were acting in the film as they got into the spirit of the music.

In the end, the rawness and amateur nature of the film works to it’s benefit. You use what you have to create magic, and Obayashi used his skills in commercials to litter this film with intentionally cheesy effects to give the horror a child-like feel. Whether inspired or completely original, there’s no denying HOUSE’S creativity and ability to engage and to think we may not have ever seen it unless Janus Films decided to buy the rights to the film and redistribute it in 2010. Since then, HOUSE is popular amongst a whole new audience of crazies looking for a something from the heart.

(Via. Criterion.com)

How did Janus Films begin the process of bringing House to U.S. theaters for the first time?

House was originally brought into the Janus library as a possible Eclipse title, when Eclipse was conceived of as a possible subsidiary label for cult films. That changed, of course, and the film remained in limbo until we began to get a few screening requests from genre-savvy venues. It can be tough to convince theaters to book a repertory title that doesnt have an established critical reputation, so we hadnt originally thought of House as a theatrical release. It has developed a fair-size reputation on the gray market, where its been a staple for some time, but its such a blast to see with an audience that we did a small digital microtour in order to spread word of mouth. These screenings were successful beyond our expectations; we had two raucous, sold-out shows at the New York Asian Film Festival, and the film seems to have developed a cult-within-a-cult in every city it’s played.

You can purchase house now on DVD or Blu-Ray  through the Criterion Collection

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Surviving the Horror of the Home in The Silent Scream

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The year is 1980.  It’s Autumn and Scotty Parker is starting school.  In a crunch to find an apartment, she hastily rents a room in a grand hilltop mansion overlooking the ocean.  What is it they say about things being too good to be true?  She makes fast friends with the other boarders and as Scotty begins to settle in, so does a rash of inexplicable violence.  One by one, the boarders are begin picked off but by whom and why?

The Silent Scream is the 1980 horror film directed by Denny Harris starring Rebecca Balding as Scotty, Steve Doubet as Jack, Brad Rearden as Mason, Juli Andelman as Doris, John Widelock as Peter, and Barbara Steele as Victoria.

silentScream_gangThe Silent Scream is buried deep within a bevvy of other more well known slasher films.  Released in 1980 (following Halloween and Friday the 13th), it’s clear that the filmmakers were not-so-silently inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho - from its score to its fondness for butcher knife style killings, The Silent Scream is not your typical slasher flick gore fest.  It’s true that the killer, and many of the details of each murder, remain largely hidden until the final moments of the film.  But where this helped build tightly woven tension in Hitchcock’s Psycho, it makes The Silent Scream feel a bit long at just 87 minutes.

Plot spoilers abound below!

The whole plot of The Silent Scream is actually (resoundingly) solid even if the premise is relatively simple: a girl registers late for school, misses out on campus housing, finds a place nearby lodging with a family that’s totally cracked.  Think of it as surviving the “horror at home”.

What’s interesting about The Silent Scream is how predominantly the feminine “plight” factors into the thematics of the overall storyline.  From the out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy of the Engels family’s daughter, Victoria, to the deceptions of thebarbarasteele10 family’s matriarch – whose guilt and tentativeness seem to hint at darker family secrets, The Silent Scream is a film about surviving the traumas of the home.

I’m given to thinking Victoria was abused by her father – the war hero – but most of us know that I’m pretty dark so I question my intuition.  It’s true we’ll never really know what happened to her.  In fact, maybe it’s better we don’t.  I mean, isn’t it true that what we imagine is almost always worse than the truth?

Following her botched suicide attempt, a pregnant Victoria is left mentally unstable.  In the mental hospital where she is housed, they perform what sounds like a lobotomy although the doctor points at the side of Victoria’s head rather than her eye socket when he details the procedure to Victoria’s mom.  Oh the horror!  Is there anything more terrifying than an involuntary lobotomy?!

No.  That sh*t is horrifying.

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That’s an Oly Beer! (made in my hometown)

Barbara Steele’s performance is reason enough to watch the film and while the role is non-speaking, it factors largely into creating the necessary atmosphere and tension.  Steele is no stranger to horror film fans.

With performances in the legendary Black Sunday, Piranha, Pit and the Pendulum and a recurring role on the oh-so-campy television series, Dark Shadows, Steele brought everything she had to the role of Victoria and I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching her dead shark eyes as she lumbers ever so slowly toward the camera and her next victim.

The Silent Scream wants to be a slasher film, but with a relatively low body count and minor use of gore, we have to face the facts.  The Silent Scream is really a psychological horror film about the woman in the attic and the thing within the walls.  It’s slower and more methodical pace is in tune with films like Black Christmas where the use of one or very few filming locations helps to confine its audience.  But there’s a lot to like about the film and director Denny Harris does some masterful work that shouldn’t go without mention.

During a long sequential, he pulls the audience through the yard of the mansion, into its basement and up through a series of long forgotten and now unused hidden passages.silentscream4 Covered in cobwebs and dust, a scratching sound fades up from the silence as the camera climbs the stairs – flight after flight.  As we reach the top floor, the scratching noise intensifies and we see a spoon (or is it a knife?) scratching away at the mortar between the boards in the wall.  Suddenly, fingers!  They tear at the boards, ripping them aside to create a hole.  The hidden passage has been rediscovered, but by whom and for what reason?

Brilliant.

The Silent Scream also features one of the most subtly awesome moments in slasher cinema.  When Doris and Peter are walking on the beach, heading back to the house after a night of drinking, they come to a choke on the shore where the tide has begun to rise and now threatens to block the path.  Doris quickly makes her way across and, as she finds her footing safely on the other side, realizes Peter hasn’t followed her.  This one moment creates such genuine tension that I marvel at its simple elegance.

Moments like these make The Silent Scream a must-see film for any horror fan.

Official trailer:

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Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with The Woman

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When a country lawyer finds a near-feral woman in the woods of his property, he gets an idea.  He’ll capture and culture her.  With the assistance of his family, he’ll “save” her from her wild ways and bring her to civilization.  What could possibly go wrong?

The Woman is the 2011 follow-up to Offspring and is directed by Lucky McKee.  Starring Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman, Angela Bettis as Belle, Sean Bridgers as Chris, Lauren Ashley Carter as Peggy, and Zach Rand as Brian.

theWoman_allDolledUpRarely does a film come along that both excites and terrifies me.  The Woman is a film that’s been called a must-see horror masterpiece and I agree, but my praise comes with a warning.

The Woman is a deeply disturbing work whose content will not be readily forgotten.  Years after seeing the film for the first time, I find myself subconsciously thinking about its visual imagery and motifs.  When watching the film again recently in order to write this commentary, I had to repeatedly stop the film and walk away in order to regain my composure.

The Woman has that kind of affect on me.

With themes of misogyny, slavery, domestic abuse, and the fight for dominance, there’s little about the film that doesn’t work to expose the very darkest parts of the human soul.  Forget for a moment that the film features graphic depictions of torture, abuse, and sexual assault.  At the heart of the film, we’re still talking about a man who thinks he has the right to supplant a woman’s existence with the one he chooses for her.  This act – in and of itself – is a kind of violation that I find incredibly distasteful.

It makes for great horror.

I’ve often said that successful horror films hinge on the human factor – empathy and sympathy must be ever-present inwoman closeup the development of the story and its characters.  With The Woman, not everyone in the audience is on the same page.

For some, the themes may be presented in too-heavy a hand for comfort.  Some will feel it paints all men as evil and all women as oppressed.  I’m sorry but I have to take a stand here and say those people are wrong.  It’s just a film with a scope limited to this particular man, Chris Cleek, his horrible adolescent son, Brian, and this particular set of women.  Saying this film is a depiction of all men and all women is too idiotic to address further.

I mean, come on.  It’s not called All the Men and All the Women.  It’s called The Woman.

the-woman-luckymckee-angela-bettisIt does raise an interesting point, though, about how “normal” people can become “evil” in a particular set of circumstances.

Even though Chris is shown to be mentally, physically, and sexually abusive to the women in his life, it’s interesting to watch how the rest of the characters begin to change following the arrival of the woman.  Especially Belle.  As the mousy, abused wife of Chris, she is almost relived to have the focus of her husband’s enmity turned elsewhere.

As for Chris’ bizarre fixation on the woman, I was disgusted (as were most of you, I’m sure) by the affect it has on his son, Brian.  In his own right, Brian’s adolescent curiosity with regard to the woman is upsetting and deeply disturbing.   From behind his dead shark eyes, you can almost see Brian begin to formulate ideas on how men should treat women and how women should behave in return.

That sh*t is dark and boy does it have a talent for polarizing people.  It’s true that a man got ejected from a screening of The6968641306_7f0bb6d7bd Woman at Sundance after verbally complaining about its content.  Just do a quick search on the internet and you’ll see magnificently varied audiences reactions from “it’s perverse” to “it’s a freakin’ masterpiece!”

Performances by Angela Bettis and Pollyanna McIntosh fantastically bookend an otherwise utterly grim tale.  Sean Bridgers is largely forgettable in the role of Chris Cleek and not because the character is so vile you’ll “block him” from your memory of the film.  I have this feeling that Bridgers could have been replaced with someone older, maybe a little grittier to better affect.  His age and boyishly curly hair create a near comical air of youthful maliciousness – one born out of curiosity rather than sheer sadism and malevolence, which would have been far grislier and horrifying.

Official site: The Woman

Official trailer:

Jump to the End:

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Shock Waves – Nazi Zombies, 70s Hotties, & Peter Cushing

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It’s the 70s, baby.  Six strangers on a reef diving adventure are about to get more than they paid for when their boat’s engine starts acting up and they run into the remains of a gnarly shipwreck.  Forced to disembark their water-filled boat, the group heads for a nearby island for help.  Their presence awakens something dark and deeply sinister from the bowels of the ocean – the Nazi Death Corps.   This group of undead soldiers, long forgotten by the outside world, rises to do the only thing they know how to do – kill.

Shock Waves is the 1977 film directed by Ken Wiederhorn starring a very dishy Brooke Adams as Rose, John Carradine as the boat captain, Fred Buch as Chuck  (or “Porno Pete” as I’m fond of referring to him), Luke Halpin as Keith, Jack Davidson and D.J. Sidney as the bickering married couple, Norman and Beverly.

Zombies.  Nazis.  Strangers, shipwrecked to a tropical paradise.  A grand old resort hotel, long deserted and past its prime.  A voluntarily exiled high ranking Nazi shock-waves-introscientist.  I mean, come on!  How much more of a set up do you need to create one of the most comically beloved cult classics in horror cinema?

It was the 70s and it seemed like everything was fair game.  In an era before everything had been done, filmmakers seemed to draw inspiration from everywhere (and anywhere).  And while the zombie genre had been long since established, Shock Waves differentiated itself by throwing Nazis into the mix.  It was one of the first – and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.  In the years and decades to come, Shock Waves would give way to films like the 2009 Norwegian film, Dead Snow and this year’s The 4th Reich.

brooke_shockWavesThe film stars Brooke Adams in an early role as the sole survivor of the events that unfold once the diving party is shipwrecked.  Adams would go on to star in larger, more commercially successful films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Dead Zone.  Adams’ onscreen presence in Shock Waves is undeniable … or, maybe, it’s just that she spends a good portion of her screen time in a string bikini.  Either way, she is definitely the star of the film.

Though it pains me to admit it, I’ll just come out and say what we’re all thinking.  Shock Waves is not going to be the kind of film you’re going to watch to be scared.  It has an almost excruciatingly slow build up characteristic of films from the period.  But if you allow yourself to go along for the ride – after all, I imagine that’s why Adams’ is scantily clad – you’ll enjoy some of genuine eeriness the film provides.

Forget for a moment that the diving party is being stalked by the newly risen undead Death Corps.  They’re still stranded on a remote island with a strange, and shockwaves_peterCushingstrangely loyal, Nazi scientist in the form of Peter Cushing.  Cushing plays the Nazi Commander responsible for the creation of the Corps and for keeping them available, if you will, for the creation of future devastation.

The addition of the slow moving, stonily malevolent Death Corps works because they seem to stalk the island’s new inhabitants rather than converging on them, en masse, all at once.  The filmmakers made a great decision to show these Nazi troops rising from the ocean in small groups over and over, throughout the film, so that, by the end its audience has no idea how many of them there really are.

It’s strangely unnerving, in retrospect, to think of the diving party being hunted and picked off one by one.  Given more time to consider their options, the party begins to lose confidence in the odds of their survival.  After one night on the island, they begin to realize they need to take the situation into their own hands.

shockWaves_2One of my frustrations with the film is that many things go relatively unexplained – whether that’s intentional or just a gap in the narrative of a low(er) budget film, remains to be seen.  The strange solar flare that happens while the party is still aboard their boat may or may not have caused the Death Corps to rise.  Regardless, it’s stylish and super fun.

So many questions.  I mean, how was Peter Cushing’s character, the Nazi Commander, surviving in this old resort?  Who are these people?  Who is Rose and why is she on vacation alone?  Where the hell are the Captain and Keith taking their guests?  Why do the Nazi troopers seem to “die” when their googles are removed?  Most importantly – why make Shock Waves in the first place?

I hate that most of the characters are completely undeveloped.  As a result, their motivations – beyondshockWaves_4 those for survival – are unknown to us.  Told in a flashback narrative style, maybe it’s unimportant to give the audience any information.  After all, we know that only Brooke Adams’ Rose survives the experience.  Maybe we’re not supposed to give a damn about the rest of the cast.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to go all in for the film’s subject matter, the underwater cinematography is actually quite beautiful – if Nazi Zombies emerging from the tangles of various reef formations can be called beautiful, that is.

Made available on DVD in 2003, Shock Waves is worth a watch on an early Saturday afternoon, especially if you make it campy.  Throw on a pair of your shortest shorts, mix up some Sea Breezes, and embrace the grand 1970s doom vibe.

Trailer:

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They’re Still Here, Poltergeist 30 Years On

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When a malevolent force decides to claim their young daughter, pulling her into another dimension, everything the Freeling family knows about life, death, and the energies lingering between is forever changed.

Starring JoBeth Williams as Diane, Craig T. Nelson as Steven, Heather O’Rourke or Carol Anne, Dominique Dunne as Dana, Oliver Robins as Robbie, Beatrice Straight as Dr. Lesh, and the indelible Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina, Poltergeist is directed by Tobe Hooper based on a story and screenplay by Steven Spielberg (along with Michael Grais and Mark Victor).

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The Summer of 1982 belonged to Steven Spielberg.  Released just a week apart in June, Spielberg’s E.T. and Poltergeist took the American movie going public by storm.  Both films were family-centric at their heart with major plot points revolving around young children, but otherwise, the films were worlds apart.

Poltergeist is a darkly entertaining vision of modern day suburbia, in which a young family of five is pitted against an otherworldly protagonist.  That the family turns to a team of collegiate paranormal investigators rather than the police in the wake of the abduction of their child speaks volumes about Diane and Steven and what their family has already experienced in their Cuesta Verde tract home.

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The interactions with the paranormal forces inside their home begin as little more than playful pranks; chairs stacking themselves on the kitchen table and objects being slid across the floor.  By the time the events begin to occur, we have already spent a significant amount of time with the Freelings, seeing their day-to-day life.  They feel real to us, we can relate to them.  By extension, the inexplicable events seem somehow easier to accept as real because they are happening to them.

Like any good horror film, this look into how these interactions are perceived, when the stakes are relatively low, reveals deeper truths at the heart of the family and the story.

Diane, who playfully engages with the forces by placing her own daughter on the floor to be slid across it, embraces the experience as a kind of miracle.  Steven, who, even after witnessing the activity first-hand, refuses to openly accept what’s happening as paranormal, is shadowed by a kind of lurking hesitancy.  It is Steven’s hesitancy and guardedness, and Diane’s unshakable belief and love that ultimately carry the family through the crisis about to unfold.

Poltergeist captured imaginations and terrified audiences, but it is not a film about a haunted house.

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The Shining: spoiler alert

I cringe every time Poltergeist is referred to as a haunted house film, especially since the characters central to the plot repeatedly inform the audience to the contrary.  The energy in the Freeling home is focused on Carol Anne (a plot point further explored in subsequent franchise sequels), not the house.  Even after the home is destroyed at the end of Poltergeist and the Freelings move, the energy that plagued the family follows them.

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It’s unfortunate that this plot point is often confused or muddled or ignored, because I think the idea that something as malevolent as what focuses its attention on the young Carol Anne would follow her, and not be restrained to one particular location, is far more dubious and terrifying.

There’s nowhere to run to, baby.

What brings me back to Poltergeist time and again is the intimate portrait of a pair of high school sweethearts, clearly still deeply in love, that pull together in the face of an ethereal threat – one that cannot be reasoned with, stopped, or even seen – and overcome everything that is thrown at them.

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JoBeth Williams’ Diane was the mother every little girl dreamed of having; with a love pure enough to span an abyssal void in order to reclaim you from the clutches of evil.  And Craig T. Nelson’s Steven was the strong, unshakable father we all wanted to sit with us during a thunderstorm.  Steven and Diane are the heart of the film.  And while a lot of focus on Poltergeist and the franchise now resides on the unfortunate passing of Heather Rourke, that she was such a powerful presence onscreen only sweetens with each viewing.

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Trailer:

Remake Madness – Why Carrie Is Still Relevant

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Kimberly Peirce's CARRIE

It’s 1976.  Two years after Stephen King has published his first novel, Carrie, it’s being adapted to film.  Though it may be difficult to now imagine, King was struggling to make ends meet.  Working as an English professor, the $2,500 he was paid for the film rights to the novel must have been a Godsend.

Directed by Brian De Palma, Carrie  is the story of a shy and friendless young girl who, in the final year of high school, has been the center of bulling and abuse by nearly all of the student body.  The film starred a bevvy of young talent from Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, PJ Soles, and William Katt.  De Palma’s  imagining went on to be named to a host of 100 Best of Lists (The American Film Institute‘s Movies, Thrills, Heroes and Villains lists).

carrie2013Carrie was a critical and box office success, grossing more than $33M in ticket sales.  The film also garnered Academy Award nominations for both Spacek and Piper Laurie.  By many, it is considered a horror classic, the story itself serving as a kind of eternal warning to be careful who you piss off.

So why, nearly 40 years later, has MGM decided to remake the film?

Dollars, ya’ll.

Yes, the story is still compelling – maybe more so in the wake of tragic tales of bullying and sprees of rage-filled madness – but it still comes down to money.  Released just two weeks shy of Halloween, Carrie is sure to have at least a modicum of audience interest through the holiday.  And with good reason.  My attraction to this remake was fueled, in part, by the casting of Julianne Moore as Margaret White, the role originated by Piper Laurie in 1976.  When Kimberly Peirce was added to the mix as director, I felt this was just possibly one remake I’d have to check out.

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Peirce, who directed Boys Don’t Cry, has nothing to prove.  Not to me.  But, to a larger audience, Peirce may be mostly unknown having only directed one other feature – Stop-Loss back in 2008.  For them, Peirce’s reimagining of Carrie may be nails in a premature coffin.

While Peirce’s adaptation begins on a startling strong note – with the traumatic birth of Carrie White to an unsuspecting Margaret, alone in her bedroom – the differences between the two films are disappointingly slim.

Peirce has modernized the content of Carrie to include social media – a wise, but obvious choice.  As the girls yell at Carrie to “plug it up!”, she is being filmed.  That video could have been used to greater effect, but it ends up being a tepid plot driver to get us to the point where Chris Hargensen (played here by Portia Doubleday) will be suspended and barred from prom.  Chris is the meanest of the mean girls and her maliciousness feels strangely superficial in this version of Carrie.  (Groan. Weak!)

Peirce has also deviated in the development of Carrie’s character.  We get an earlier and more complete look at the character as she goes through this process of discovering who she and learning about her powers of telekinesis.   Early scenes capture a kind of wonder and amusement as Carrie sits in her bed and levitates books, her bed (with her on it), and anything else in the room she can manage.

Casting for Peirce’s Carrie may have cost the director a no-brainer Halloween hit.

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Spacek gave us a meek, shy girl for whom – despite killing everyone in her class, teachers included – we still feel sorry as the house crashes in around her and her dead mother at the end of the film.  Empathy, or even the slightest by of sympathy, is absolutely pivotal for a horror film.  Without it, there are no consequences, no rules, no moral lesson, and no emotional loss when the body count begins to rise.  Without it, means there is no horror to be found.

Chloë Grace Moretz, on the other hand, gives us a twitchy, socially awkward and naturally violent Carrie.  The moment Carrie begins to understand her powers, she uses them without remorse or thought to the consequences.  It becomes increasingly difficult for the audience to sympathize with the character as the story unfolds because she herself turns malicious and, in a way, power hungry.  Even the abuses suffered at the hands of her religiously inclined mother couldn’t excuse the behavior.

This brings me to Julianne Moore.  It’s no small feat for me to make this declaration.  I have many favorites, but Moore tops the list in nearly every genre so I’ll just comemooreVSlaurie out and say it.  Moore is my favorite actress.  I’ll see anything she’s in.  When I learned Moore had signed on to star as Margaret White – the self-maiming, half crazy mother of Carrie – I could barely wait to see how the actress would portray her.  Would she be stark raving, or that out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye sort of crazy?  Would she have the energy of a religious zealot or would her devotion to a higher power feel quiet?  While Moore’s presence cannot be denied – you can take away the makeup, the wardrobe, the hair stylist but Moore is an absolute stunner – it also feels very familiar.

This brings me to the screenplay.  Very little has been changed in terms of dialogue between De Palma’s 1976 version and Peirce’s 2013 version of the film.  Having just watched De Palma’s Carrie, I was shocked that so much of the dialogue remained the same in Peirce’s.  If the intent was to modernize the piece, it seems you’d want to change more than just the clothes and the kinds of music the kids listen to at the prom.

It makes me want to scream – You have the rights to Carrie, for God’s sake!  Make it yours!  Do something bold and daring!  Do something unique and creative!  Terrify us!!

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So, why remake Carrie?

Peirce has my respect.  So does Moore.  But, beyond the financial, there is no reason behind the remake.

It feels familiar and even comical.  In the 70s, the country as a whole hadn’t started to back away from organized religion.  Most people, if they weren’t church going folk themselves, knew someone that was.  A character like Margaret White wasn’t that far fetched.  Jump forward 40 years.  The way we feel about religion has changed.  People like Margaret White are rarely taken seriously.  It’s more difficult for a younger audience to understand her or her motivations.  The audience laughed at many of things Moore’s character was saying because they have no context for the crazy.  In short – the Margaret White of King’s Carrie just doesn’t work anymore.  Peirce needed to be more aggressive with the updating of this particular – incredibly pivotal – character.

Carrie opened October 18, 2013 but my advice to you?  Ask someone else to the prom, and save Carrie for a quiet night at home.

Trailer:

Julianne Moore Interview:

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It’s here MITNG’S Halloween Podcast 2013

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This is a compilation of spooky songs and movie trailers, old and new. The idea was not to spoon feed you the obviously scary, but to get a little psychological with it as well. You may wonder, while listening, why some of the songs are on this podcast and if you have to wonder you’re probably too left brain to get it. But most of you will identify with the tracks I’ve chosen and I’m sure if I was there with you, you’d give me a high five, but I’m not so a virtual five will have to do. Below is the list of tunes on this podcast. I know the quality isn’t the best, but if you could please share this, I’d be most gracious!

The tracks in this episode are as follows:

1. Sliver Shamrock theme from John Carpenters Halloween III : Season of the Witch (1982)

2. Main title song from Dario Argento’s Suspiria performed by GOBLIN (1977)

3. Main title song from the Twilight Zone television series (1985-1989)

4. “Sentionauts” from the Beyond The Black Rainbow OST performed by Black Mountain (2010)

5. Trailer for Astro Zombies (1968) directed by Ted V. Mikels

6. Sea Within A Sea by The Horrors off thier Primary Colors album

7. Main title song for The Amityville Horror (1979)

8. The Space Between by How To Destroy Angels off their self titled album

9. Main title song from The Shining performed by Wendy Carlos (1980)

10. Road to Hell by Sleigh Bells off Reign of Terror

11. Trailer for I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) directed by Gene Fowler Jr.

12. Main title song from Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED performed by Danny Elfman (1990)

13. Hybrid Moments by The Misfits off their album Static Age (1997)

14. Main title song from the television show The Walking Dead performed by Bear McCreary

15. Trailer from The Horror of Dracula (1958) directed by Terrence Fisher

16. Frost by SALEM off thier album King Night (2010)

17. Main title theme from Cannibal Holocaust (1980) directed by Ruggero Deodato performed by Riz Ortolani

18. Main title theme from PHANTASM (1979) directed by Don Coscarelli and performed by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave

19. Main title theme from 28 Days Later (2003) directed by Danny Boyle and performed by John Murphy

20. What’s He Building by Tom Waites off Mule Variations

21. What’s A Girl To Do-Bat For Lashes off the Fur and Gold album (2006)

22. Main tile from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Directed by Robert Wise

23. Ghost Town- The Specials (1981)

24. Last Caress- The Misfits off the EP Beware (1980) and on Static Age (1997)

25. Main title song from Pans Labryinth (2006) composed by Javier Navarette

26. Main title song from The Omen (1976)  Ave Satani performed by Tenerife Film Orchestra & Choir

27.  Perfect Day- Lou Reed (1972) album Walk on the Wildside

28. Promo spot for The Haunted Strangler featuring Boris Karloff (1957) directed by Robert day

29. Music from The Haunted Mansion at Disney “Grim Grinning Ghost”
composed by Buddy Baker, with lyrics written by X Atencio

30. Main title song from True Blood “Bad Things” performed and written by Jace Everett

MITNG ON PODOMATIC

 

Watch The Green Ruby Pumpkin and know what Halloween is!

It is because films like this that I love Halloween! Directed by CGI animators Miguel Ortega (Jack The Giant Killer, THOR) and Tran Ma (Alice In Wonderland, G.I. Joe) The Ruby Green Pumpkin is a delight in that way that years from now you’ll be asking yourself “remember that one Halloween story…yeah that one. Wasn’t it awesome!” The story is a cleverly woven limerick about a woman/witch who lives in this wondrous world and gives candy to all who come to her door, dressed mind you. She dispenses these goodies from her ruby green pumpkin year after year. The story goes on to show all sorts of folks coming to her door for goodies and dressed in their Halloween best. It’s all pretty cheery until the three boys arrive, now I won’t spoil it for you, but that’s where the Tim Burton light heartedness kinda wanes, but still stays beautiful. My hopes is that every kid in the world gets a chance to see films like this, cause they are just plain good and filled with that level of simple story telling that’s hard to find nowadays.

The Green Ruby Pumpkin is a magical and fun short film that captures the enchantment of Halloween. It was a passion project that was created by two Senior visual effects artists. Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. This Entire project was shot in the living room. watch the making of HERE

Currently Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma are working on a Lovecraft-esque feature called The Ningyo.

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Description

A 1909 period film about cryptozoology. The search for mythological or unproven creatures. A Faustian tale about loosing oneself in the process of achieving our goals.

A Ponce De Leon type adventure involving deep sea diving and underwater caverns.

Dr. Marlowe, a paleontologist and professor, finds a piece of a map pointing to the place where the Ningyo, the mythical Japanese creature, could be found. The legend claims whomever consumes its flesh will attain remarkable longevity. He presents the project to his peers, who mock and dismiss him as a fraud. He decides to risk everything and go after the Ningyo on his own in hopes to bring to light what could be one of the greatest contributions to science. What he could not anticipate is that, in his search, he is confronted with a choice that puts the very foundations of his morality to the test.

For more information on The Ningyo checkout their facebook website for the latest.

You can see our other visual effects work MONSTER SCULPTER


The Making of The Green Ruby Pumpkin from miguel ortega on Vimeo.

The Green Ruby Pumpkin from miguel ortega on Vimeo.

Will 2014 be the new Season of the Witch

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The answer is yes.. If you’ve been watching any of the new tv shows like Sleepy Hollow, American Horror Story or have heard news of Maleficent or Into The Woods, than you know that Witches are the new Vampires, but how did it get to this point? We were burning them two hundred years ago. How has something so steeped in mystery and misunderstanding become the new face of Hollywood?

This is when I tell you that we at MITNG, in our relentless need to get this kind of information to you, spoke to one of the leading experts in the field of the Occult and Demonology, SORRY….I had promised Craig and them…wait, what? What I meant to say is, that I did some web surfing, in a vague effort, to help you understand these purveyors of magic, just a little bit better and how they have and always will be, ripe for the picking in Hollywood.

As far back as I can remember, the world has always been fascinated by witches. The female witches in particular, represent a level of independence, that most men found threatening and alluring, although they would never admit it. The first record of a witch goes as far back as the Old Testament. Although what I’m about to tell you was supposedly omitted from the Bible years ago, it still stands as one of the first records. The story goes like this…in the beginning when G-d had already created man and he was lonely, he created a woman. Most of us know this woman to be Eve, but did you know there was a prototype? According to Jewish myth, the first woman was a very strong and independent succubus/witch, named Lilith and unlike Eve, Lilith wasn’t created from the rib of Adam, but was made from dirt, filth and sediment and not pure dust, to be exact, but for all intents and purposes, she was the physical manifestation of “his equal”. So when G-d said she had to obey Adam and have kids for him and yadda yadda yadda…Lilith wasn’t having any of it and ran away.

(Via. Gnosis.org)

Adam complained to God: ‘I have been deserted by my helpmeet’ God at once sent the angels Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof tolilith-by-DonatelloDrago3 fetch Lilith back. They found her beside the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, to whom she bore lilim at the rate of more than one hundred a day. ‘Return to Adam without delay,’ the angels said, `or we will drown you!’ Lilith asked: `How can I return to Adam and live like an honest housewife, after my stay beside the Red Sea?? ‘It will be death to refuse!’ they answered. `How can I die,’ Lilith asked again, `when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children: boys up to the eighth day of life, that of circumcision; girls up to the twentieth day. None the less, if ever I see your three names or likenesses displayed in an amulet above a newborn child, I promise to spare it.’ To this they agreed; but God punished Lilith by making one hundred of her demon children perish daily; [5] and if she could not destroy a human infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn against her own. [6]

Whether fact or fiction, it’s a pretty ballsy move, to place a woman in direct defiance of G-d, especially in those days. I like to think the scribes were living vicariously through Lilith, thus they were able to anonymously speak out about their feelings toward the church by making her the embodiment of evil. This incarnation laid the ground work for women to look to her for guidance

Moving on.

For the true historians…forgive me if I jump around a bit. I’m not an expert.

The witch would undergo several manifestations before becoming the “wack-job on a broom stick” version, we know today. I think it’s pretty safe to say that that image of her came along when witch hysteria was taking hold of England. A lot of that had to do with the Black Death (1348-1350). That sickness wiped out millions, so when people began questioning why, many began providing their own answers. This and the Spanish Inquisition of 1478, created fertile ground for the persecution of practices deemed to be Satanic. There were even some who worshiped the same God, who were being persecuted, and had to flee. Whether true witchcraft was even being practiced during those times, I don’t know, but there are reports.

One such report comes from Ireland, Kilkenny to be exact. Dame Alice Kyteler (1280 – later than 1325) was the earliest known person to ever be formerly accused of witchcraft. Her, so called crime, predated the Black Death and the Inquisition, so perhaps she was legit. We may never know, because she skipped town before she could be formally tried, but her gimp…oh that poor bastard, was tortured until he confessed he was a witch and served under Alice. He was burned at the stake. She was also accused of money lending , adultery and murder so there’s a lot going on in this saucy tale. Behold.

The case was brought in 1324 before the then Bishop of Ossory, Richard de Ledrede, an English Franciscan friar. The bishop wrote to the Chancellor of Ireland, Roger Utlagh ( Outlaw ), to have her arrested but this rebounded on him, the Chancellor being her first brother-in-law. In fact de Ledrede himself was jailed by Sir Arnold le Poer, the Seneschal of Kilkenny, her fourth brother-in-law. John Darcy, the Lord Chief Justice traveled to Kilkenny to investigate the events and vindicated the Bishop, who again attempted to have Dame Alice arrested.

After some months of stalemate, one of her servants, Petronella de Meath, was tortured, and confessed to witchcraft, implicating Kyteler. After this, Kyteler was condemned. She fled the country, presumably to the Kingdom of England. She appears no further in contemporary records. The Bishop continued to pursue her lower-class followers, bringing charges of witchcraft against them. Petronella de Meath was flogged and burned at the stake on November 3, 1324. Her daughter apparently joined Kyteler in England. Kyteler’s son William Outlaw was also accused inter alia, of heresy, usury, perjury, adultery, and clericide. After “recanting”, William escaped relatively lightly, being ordered to hear three masses a day for a year and to feed the poor.

This was one of the first European witchcraft cases and followed closely on the election of Pope John XXII (1316–1334), to the Papacy. In 1320, he had witchcraft added to the list of heresies.

Then of course there were the Salem Witch trials of (1692-1693) and we all know how that went down, but I think Salem is  where most American’s formulated their opinions about what witches were and unfortunately, most of those opinions were wrong. With all religion comes paranoia, the Puritans having fled England to practice their faith in the new lands, were all alone in this strange world, so new ideas had to be formed to keep the flock from straying and when anyone is given something precious, especially a child, and that thing promises power, sometimes it’s too good to pass up. Things like knowing the future or beguiling an infatuation, is a time honored tradition and is primarily what witches were used for. This dates back to the Oracles at the Temple of Delphi. Course they didn’t call them witches then, in fact they became useful in swaying political decisions…you see where I’m going? We all see what we want to see, but what the fuck does all this have to do with witches in Hollywood. Nothing…I just thought you might like to know a little history and now for the good stuff.

There are two men, I ordain, for being solely responsible for ushering in the era of the witch into Hollywood and the effects can be felt to this walt-disneyday. Walt Disney (pictured left) and Victor Fleming (lower right). Walt Disney, as you all know, gave animation a new face with films like Snow White,Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Victor Fleming directed the one film that canonized the broom and pointy hat, The Wizard of Oz. Of course you can’t mention these artist without mentioning the source material Oz (L.Frank Baum) and…well pretty much every Disney film produced in the late thirties and early forties, The Brother’s Grimm.

Victor Fleming, circa 1933. Courtesy Photofest.  These two “single-handedly”, made witches cool. They gave them a face, some likable some, not so much, but they were always memorable and seemed to be what audiences wanted. Course, no witch film was ever complete back in the days, without a song or two in the film, but films with music in them was what Hollywood was serving up for a very very long time. The witches on film today tend to be a bit more serious. They’ve gotten rid of the striped socks and replaced them with fishnet stockings in most cases and tube socks and sneakers, in others.

In 1964 television brought the cauldron to tv with Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York, until March 25, 1972, when the show was cancelled. In the seventies directors touched, ever so lightly, on the witch genre, but at a time when horror was all anyone wanted to see. So we got films like Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” and Daughter’s of Satan (1972). This new look on the craft was exploitative to say the least. Most of these films back then contained young women dancing around a fire naked or being tortured sexually by church inquisitors. No more song and dance and no more yellow brick roads, the witch had a new look or at least appeared to have a new look and it wasn’t all good. That is, until the eighties.

To keep up with the magic, film directors like Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg, were throwing down, directors needed to reinvent this genre again. Offer up some magic, but with a real story and real consequences. The 80′s saw witch films such as The Witches of Eastwick, Warlock (1989), Spellbinder (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989) and Teen Witch (1989).

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It’s important for you to notice that because these films most certainly involved women, these films could easily be referenced as the state of women at the time the film was made. Witches of Eastwick found three powerful witches (Susan Surandon, CHER and Michelle Pfeiffer) set upon by this demon played by Jack Nicholson. During this time you had films like Working Girl…get it? I don’t know, I was trying to make a connection, but failed miserably. However, the witches in the 80′s are getting sexy again, well…there was never a time when witches weren’t sexy, but you get my meaning. What’s also funny, but obvious, is that most of these films are watched by women.

You see I’ve always said women are the Earth Mother’s. Their ability to create life, connects them “like no other” with the spirit world. Divination, clairvoyance, astrology, incantation, are mostly practiced by women. Sure, there are a few warlocks out there, but most of the problems that are called upon by a witch to cure, usually entails that of a feminine nature. Mind you, this is neither good nor bad, but something I noticed hanging with Wiccan’s ( a pagan religion introduced in 1954) and working at a mineral store, in Orlando Florida. We all want to connect with something higher, it just so happens that higher seems too high at times and sometimes it’s easier to connect with something tangible, that’s not to say witchcraft doesn’t have it’s share of the fantastic, but so does the Bible. We do what works.

So let’s fast forward the chronometer pass the 90′s, past movies like  Hocus Pocus (1993) , Witches (1990, a brilliant film I must say)  and The Craft (1996) to the 2000′,s where we see the rise of the vampire. Stick with me, I am going somewhere with this.

If there was ever a period in time when the witch in Hollywood most certainly saw it’s imminent defeat, it was in the early 2000′s. Films like Queen of the Damned (2002), Day Watch (2006), Let the Right One In (2008), Twilight series, Underworld and True Blood, were all the rage and virtually wiped out any memory that witches even existed. Sure you’d could still find books being written about them, but for the most part Hollywood wasn’t having it, the vampires were too strong. It seemed adult and tween novelist, were doing any and everything to make these bloodsuckers more likeable or sexy. But in 2005-2010ish, a strange thing started to happen on shows like True Blood, the story took a  turn for the whimsy. It began incorporating/crossingover, by having the vampires battling witches. Around that same time the Bill Willingham book FABLES was being considered for adaptation by ABC. A hugely popular book that chronicles the lives of real life fable character’s who had been exiled from their home world. The story’s central character’s are witches from children’s story, given a modern twist of course. So now, nearly a decade later, A shift starts to occur and the witches are slowly coming back.  ABC, unable to secure the rights to FABLES, creates their own version of the story and calls it Once Upon A Time (not to be confused with Once Upon a Time: In Wonderland, but kinda sorta the same) also due out this fall. That show is followed by another fairly-like show Grimm and just like that…they are back…and now, in the year of our Lord 2013, we have shows like American Horror Story: Coven, Sleepy Hollow, Witches of East End, Oz the Great and Powerful, Hansel and Gretel, Disney’s Maleficent (based on the character from Sleeping Beauty), Snow White and The Huntsman, PIXAR’S Frozen, Into the Woods (based on the Broadway musical) so on and so forth.

In hindsight they only took a break for about ten years before reemerging, but this emergence happens to be with great fervor. It’s like something snapped, cause people are loving themselves some witches right now, and that’s fine, they do have a history of doing well in the cinema, but will they be portrayed in the right light? I’m optimistic, especially with the level of writing coming out of the studios these days and rightfully so. They do exist and have existed for thousands of years. They even live near you. No, they aren’t wearing anything special, outside of a five star pendant of quartz wand around their neck, but they are today’s practicing modern witches. I don’t know enough about them to really go depth about what their lifestyle entails, but there’s enough of them in the U.S. alone, to warrant a certain level of respect when portraying them on screen. I’ve visited places like Salem, Mass, Cassadega, Fla and Sedona, Az and I’ve seen the covens and they are good people and are respectable followers of Earth magic.

Alright some of the shows like AHS and Sleepy Hollow do tend to do a good job of not making them completely cheesy and let’s be honest, I don’t think America’s gonna buy into that any more, but there are still some movies/tv shows, that shouldn’t be made, but we will have to wait and see if I’m right. Nevertheless, expect to see a lot of them in the near future cause something tells me they aren’t going away anytime soon.



 

Will Antiviral Get Under Your Skin?

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Imagine a world in which celebrity infatuation has reached a fanatical new extreme.  Do you find yourself obsessing over your favorite actress and want nothing more than to be close to them?  Search no further – the Lucas Clinic has what you desire.  For a price, you can have yourself infected with their ailments – bringing them, and their world, as close as your very own skin.

Brandon Cronenberg has some crazy large shoes to fill.  Any way you slice it.  And with his first feature filmAntiviral, it’s probably safe to say he’s cut from a very similar cloth as Father, David Cronenberg.  With Antiviral‘s sparce and vividly visceral use of blood, gore, needles, and other body horror related ephemera, Cronenberg shows he’s not afraid of the obvious familial comparisons that will be drawn – even if he never set out to make a film like his Father.

Brandon Cronenberg's AntiviralStarring Caleb Landry Jones as Syd March, Antiviral plays with our oft times sickening fascination with celebrity.  It may leave you saying, “serves them right,” and it will certainly have you cringing.  What I find particularly attractive, though, is Cronenberg’s completely flat and humorless attitude about celebrity.  Bleak and sterile, it’s as if his vision of the near-future has somehow mutated our morbid curiosity into mental zombism.  We see something/someone we desire.  We obsess.  We long to fill our every moment (meals and illnesses included) with the object of our obsession.   This psychologically complex model is turned into a societally accepted state of being – I mean, people are eating genetically modified celebrity meat and voluntarily infecting themselves with celebrity Herpes.

<Face slap>

And by <face slap> I mean – awesome!  Sort of.  I have only occasionally been as freaked out and intrigued by intimacy as I was when initially began watching this film. anti3 And yes, worth noting is the element of the sexual amidst everything here – needles penetrating skin, impregnating oneself with bacteria and other assorted sundry to achieve satisfaction.

But it all feels, if you’ll forgive me, a little skin deep.

Antiviral is a strong first showing although it loses some of its initially strong auteur vibe as the story begins to wind down.  I’m a fan of what Cronenberg has done with his incredibly considered use of blood and violence.  Beyond the obvious needle phobia, he’s managed to suggest a terror so small it can only be seen upon careful observation, and then, occasionally, not at all.  And what’s more insidious than that?

Brandon Cronenberg's AntiviralSure, Jones could be accused of coming on a bit strong and even overplaying his role.  His pasty complexion and dead shark eyes do nothing to help convey his character’s motivations and, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d let him inject me with anything … but, I say that about everyone.

Malcolm McDowell arrives and stays too briefly as physician to the film’s object of the greatest obsession, Hannah Geist (played by Cosmopolis stunner Sarah Gadon).

If anything, Brandon Cronenberg proves he is a director to keep a keen eye on.

 

 

 

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