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Can we get a NIGHTBREED reboot…please?

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It’s been close to 25 years since the movie hit the screens, but no movie has ever had the same effect on me as this one did when it arrived. At the time, I was so used to seeing Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, I don’t think I knew what to expect, but Nightbreed was a clever mix of fantasy and horror and although I normally frown on reboots, this is exactly the type of film that needs to be rebooted for today’s audience.

Sure the effects where generally top notch for the nineties, but with so much unexplained and so many character’s, who’s stories were left untold, I feel this is ripe for the picking. However, the question will come up in board meetings “Is there still a fan base?” My answer would be, if you could reboot Judge Dredd you can reboot this. It’s not about a fanbase anymore, but how you market it that matters. There are a number of films that came up from scratch and have done well and with so many horror and comic book conventions around the world, a few dollars would be all we needed to resurrect the dead.

I look at Nightbreed as the Pokemon of horror flicks. There were so many monsters in this film and all with their own unique abilities, that marketing would be a snap. Give each character their moment and a bad ass line and you’ve gotta hit. Just think of the potential.

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Another way to market this film, is give it a comic book, something that delivers the back story of every character. Did they transform or were they born that way? Are they from the U.S or from all over the world? How old is each monster and what powers do they posses? You see where I am going here?

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the lead character Boone/Cabal, is the tamest looking monster in the whole film. Well..we could beef that up…hell, give the guy some demonic looking wings even. Winged critters always make for good car chase scenes.

I’m realizing, as I write this, that a lot of you would probably like to know what this film is about.

Nightbreed is based on a book by Clive Barker called Cabal and the story goes like this…

The film features Craig Sheffer as Aaron Boone, an unstable mental patient led to believe by his doctor (David Cronenberg) that he is a serial killer. Tracked down by the police as well as by his doctor (the actual murderer) and his girlfriend (Anne Bobby), Boone eventually finds refuge in an abandoned cemetery called Midian, among a community or “tribe” of monsters and outcasts – known as the “Nightbreed” – that hides from humanity.

The film was unfortunately a flop when it released in 1991. The mistake Hollywood made with Nightbreed, was they didn’t know what kind of film it was. Clive Barker was known for his work with Hellraiser, so the tendency was to promote the film as a horror, but that’s where they went horribly wrong. The film is more fantasy than horror. Sure there are some gory moments and satanic imagery, but it’s based more in myth and ancient lore than it is in the occult. If Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman or Peter Jackson had been around back then a.k.a huge, this film would’ve been done right.

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Watching the movie now, I see so many missed opportunities, to expound on a world that, for all intents and purposes, is as vast as Middle Earth. Instead we get this hodge podge of imagery, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but you want it to. From the cave paintings in the opening credits to the dream sequence when we see the Nightbreed being persecuted “Inquisition” style.

nbcbSome of these mysteries are supposedly explained in Cabal:The Directors Cut, that just released, but according to several horror sites it does nothing to elevate the film as a whole. It’s more or less a think piece or blue print, if you will, of the differences between the story the director wanted to tell versus what the studio wanted. I also hear the quality is horrendous. It’s a slow death for a film, that should’ve been rebooted years ago

  (Via. Shock Til You Drop)

The focus is more on Boone and Lori.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say the Cabal Cut is really Lori’s film.  A lot of the emotional weight rests on her shoulders.  Boone is still all over the map and drops out of the film for a bit (when he tells Lylesberg he’s going to see Baphomet, it’s apparently a really, really long walk to go downstairs) and Decker is sidelined as one of the film’s myriad threats.  There is the introduction to a voice in Decker’s head, beckoning him to put on the mask and kill.  This detail is wildly inconsistent and comes in way too late in the film, still, it’s an interesting touch if it was established properly.

 This is what they had to say regarding the finale/raid on Median:

Another notable addition that affects the film: The extended raid on Midian which seems much more brutal now and includes more monsters getting blown away by Eigerman’s men.  This draws the whole third act action scene out and may be satisfying to some.

So it basically sounds like what needed to happen is the film needed to be re-shot and more character development and that’s what I’m saying could happen with a proper reboot people.

In closing, if you decide to rent this film and feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s fine and I appreciate you giving it a chance, but if you agree with me and can see this film for what it could truly be…you’re welcome. Fuck Robocop…give us NIGHTBREED.

Want to know more about NIGHTBREED or The CABAL CUT? Checkout these websites!

Occupy Midian

AMAZON

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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Beyond The Black Rainbow is true 80′s horror

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Originally I had intended to watch this movie at a local art house theater, but I saw that it was available on Amazon on Demand, so I decided to enjoy the movie in bed with my wife, dog and laptop. What you notice immediately about Beyond The Black Rainbow is that it draws heavily upon the 80′s science fiction horror aesthetic. It’s easy to see why it has been compared to such films as THX 1138, A Clockwork Orange, The Hunger and pretty much all the works of David Cronenberg, but not to be caught up in the smoke and mirrors there still has to be a good story…right? Searching for a viable plot in such artistry can sometimes be a daunting task, but you soon realize that the formula is the same, but it’s just being presented like a sarcophagus at a museum or vestige of some by-gone era that the director Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos, who directed Tombstone, Cobra, and Rambo: First Blood Part II) has meticulously decided to pay homage to. BTBR speaks in metaphors, the viewer is meant to take something from every single frame, the director even goes as far as beginning these super short scenes with fade in and outs of the grittiest red instead of the usual black.

Right now’s when you’d probably like for me to explain what the fuck this film’s about…

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Deep within the mysterious Arboria Institute, a beautiful girl (Eva Allan) is held captive by a scientist, Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers). Her mind is controlled by a sinister technology (a mysterious pyramid-shaped light). Speechlessly, she waits for her next session with the deranged Dr. Nyle. She escapes her cell under the watchful eye of Dr. Nyle peering through video monitors. She journeys through the darkest reaches of the Institute but Nyle wonʼt easily part with his most gifted and dangerous creation.

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It all makes for some amazing vintage horror done with a committed cast and one hell of an art director Antonio Colin and costume designer Kathi Moore. Shot entirely in Vancouver, the story travels along an analog path of science verging on insanity. As we learn more about the Arboria Institute we find out about or at least we think we find out about what the institutes real mission is and that’s when BTBR begins tinkering with the idea of the occult and going places with the storyline that all good 80′s horrors can’t do without. Like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychedelic masterpiece Holy Mountain, BTBR toys, ever so slightly, with god/devil themes in the form of glowing masonic style triangles and the Sentionauts (ominous albino baby faced worker bees or minions for the Arboria Institute) but doesn’t try to be what it’s not thus elevating the films level of genius by acknowledging the Satanic prime directive and moving on. It has to be said before I continue that the soundtrack is near flawless. Panos obviously knew that if the image was the vehicle the music had to be the engine so he did what any film/indie video director does and enlist the help of none other than Jeremy Schimdt from the synth rock band Black Mountain to pepper this art piece in a blanket of moogness, add that sound to the brilliant cinematography of Norm Li and you have a film fit for any classic VHS library.

The following Interview with Panos Cosmatos in it’s entirety is available @ Dork Shelf

DS: How involved were you with the score because it felt so integral to the mood and tone? I’d imagine it was something you wanted to be heavily involved in.

PC: Well, Jeremy Schmidt from Black Mountain wrote the score and has an amazing record collection of soundtracks Panos Cosmatosand synth music from the 70s and 80s. He’s very influenced by that time and writes this amazing music that he records on analogue synthesizers. Once I discovered him, I really wanted him to score it. I showed him a rough cut and he really wanted to do it. I think he drew influences from a lot of not just soundtracks, but different artists from that era. John Carpenter was definitely part of that, but there were so many. I don’t know, our musical sensibilities were so close that I gave him some guidance, but generally I just let him create and it was like Christmas. Because I’m a fan of his, it was amazing to just to get to hear him create music and put it on my movie.

Overall the film’s formula isn’t anything something we’ve never seen before, but what Panos has done was added more to an era of films that had no idea what is was then or what it would become.

DS: How difficult was it to find financing for a project as experimental and out there as this? I’d imagine there would have been a lot of scratched heads while you were pitching it around.

PC: Well, I self financed it, but that didn’t stop people from scratching their heads when I was trying to talk them into working on it (laughs). The people that responded to it responded to it very strongly and wanted to be involved. It was just hard to find those people at times. The only reference they had for my work was a music video that was online. So that would show them that perhaps that mentality combined the script could be something interesting.

BTBR is what was to be expected of the son of the director of COBRA and seeing the world through his goggles and knowing the urge to go totally modern and sell this to the studios and not doing it, is a feat within itself and should be celebrated in this age of overdone. I bet no one could have seen this rebirth of 80′s coming and most won’t understand it or they think they will, but due to their lack of love for films, won’t be able to place a proper finger on it and that’s what I believe directors like Panos Cosmatos and Ti West (House Of The Devil) has set out to create…enigmas. Films without a home, but stand alone as works of art never to be looked upon as a movies in the Hollywood sense. BTBR is pure aural and eye candy for lovers of great science fiction (notice how I didn’t write 80′s science fiction). You won’t find me trying to even coddle those less likely to watch this movie cause there’s a time and place for everything and unlike some films from the past this one harnesses it’s own power, and because of modern technology, will be less susceptible to degradation/wear and tear unlike it’s 80′s predecessors, and that’s a bit of next gen that I’m sure even Panos Cosmatos is happy with.

Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” will always be a classic horror film

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Funny story…my wife and I both believed we had seen Suspiria before, but both of us had different memories of the film. So we rented it recently and none of us remembered anything we were seeing. It was strange, like seeing something for the first time, but we both knew we saw it together awhile back, but on a positive note, this movie “Suspiria” was way more entertaining than the film I remembered, so that was a plus.

In the seventies everybody was making horror films, what used to be an underground and somewhat subversive genre, was seeing it’s hay day with films like The Exorcist, The OMEN, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hollywood was realizing what a cash cow horror was, but it wasn’t until 1977 when Italian director Dario Argento released Suspiria, that Hollywood and horror fans alike, realized that horror could be visually stunning as well as bloody and disturbing.

Quick note: We also rented PHENOMENA, another one of Argento’s film’s starring a very young Jennifer Connelly and it wasn’t nearly as exciting, but in Dario’s defense we unknowingly watched SUSPIRIA out of chronological order. There were two other films after SUSPIRIA that were meant to be viewed together. They were lovingly referred to as “The Three Mother’s” by Dario Argento. They were SUSPIRIA (1977), INFERNO (1980, which turned out to be the film we mistook for Suspiria) and THE MOTHER OF TEARS (2007).

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SUSPIRIA SYNOPSIS: The film follows American ballet student Suzy Bannion (Harper) who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany, only to discover that it is controlled by a coven of witches.

The world Dario set out to create with SUSPIRIA was one of feminine power, both good and bad. His films usually involved a hero be it male or female, usually female, that has been displaced, an American in Europe or vice-versa. Take for instance our hero in SUSPIRIA, Susie Bannion played by Jessica Harper, she’s a dancer whose just arrived in Germany and is instantly greeted by a disgruntled cab driver at the airport and then when she get’s to the dance school she’s told she can’t come in. Mind you, it’s been pouring rain since she arrived. Part of me would like to believe that this is a text book horror set up, but he does it again in PHENOMENA. Whether politically driven or not, one can’t deny his need to seemingly torture American’s, but he does it with style. Dario is a master of getting the viewer to empathize with the protagonist.

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A series of unfortunate event’s leads Susie down a technicolor rabbit hole where she slowly learns that the dance school is a front for a witches coven that’s being controlled by an ancient evil. There’s a host of colorful character’s that poke their heads into the storyline, but none more daunting than the schools head mistress Madame Blanc played by Joan Bennett. Despite the bad dubbed English there are a few whose talent shines through the muddy ADR, which for all intents in purposes also adds to that strange vibe.

As I’m writing this I’m realizing how this story could very well be a mad man’s version of The Wizard of Oz. I haven’t quite figured out who’s the Lion or the Tin Man, but Susie is certainly Dorothy and Madame Blanc is definitely The Wicked Witch of the West. If I figure out the rest…I’ll let you know.

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You can’t mention SUSPIRIA without commenting on the look. If Dario Argento had been born in the early 1900′s, he would’ve been French and sipping Le Absinthe in some cafe filled with artists, poets and musicians. He masterfully blends elements of French Art Nouveau with 30′s art deco and gives it all a rock concert look. There’s not a frame that doesn’t have some over the top lighting scheme, bold colored walls, high concept architecture or freaky stained glass. Never would I have imagined that these images would become the thing of macabre, but what it does is it transports you to a vivid nightmare in which the setting is terrifying despite the lack of a graveyards, pitch black forests or haunted houses. He fools you, like a drug does it’s user, tapping into those triggers that can turn a “trip” to Disney World into a terrifying experience.

Dario also has a healthy love for eerie soundtracks, but he uses well known rock bands to produce the sounds, giving his landscapes that pop, that many have taken a page from. In PHENOMENA he used Iron Maiden in the soundtrack, in Suspiria he hired Italian progressive rock band GOBLIN (formerly known as Cherry Five), a band inspired by the sounds of Genesis and King Crimson. Their sound was so awesome they went on to provide the soundtrack for another Argento project, the George Romero film Dawn of the Dead.

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The Suspiria theme is not unlike the theme from The Exorcist, but let’s be honest, directors were serving up that strange sound ever since the success of Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. This is just another one of those classics like The Halloween, that get’s down in you and won’t let go.

These are all the elements that make this film such a classic, A film that isn’t all about the horror, but is also about giving you much more. At some point, someone must say “it has to still be an art form” and this is why directors like Alejandro Jordorowsky, Dario Argento and Stanley Kubrick have created films that give you much more than what you expected. Movies that went beyond and buried themselves in your soul, never letting go. Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t seen Suspiria…see it. You won’t be disappointed.

By the way there’s a bar in Tokyo’s Fashion District based on Suspiria called “Cambiare”. From the chairs to the walls and the ceiling’s…it’s flawless! You can check it out HERE.

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Is blood more deadly than a Texas Chainsaw?

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