Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer of Slash: Maniac

William Lustig's Maniac is a brilliant slasher film; one that William Friedkin called not just "a great film", but, "one of the scariest films of all time." Now, Mr. Friedkin's comments – not always a pillar of reliance (see: Jade) – are quite a shock to those who think Maniac is nothing more than a gratuitous, misogynistic splatter fest. The film is so much more: it's a 42nd Street Cinema version of Taxi Driver; a film that deserves more credit than just its superb gore effects by make-up maven Tom Savini (who lays claim the film's most infamous death). Lustig's direction is top notch even despite some splotchy pacing, there is a chase scene in the film that is rather intense; Joe Spinell's portrayal of Frank Zito, the homicidal killer with obvious woman problems, paints a portrait of a disturbed serial killer almost as unnerving as Michael Rooker's in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer; and that ending…what an ending…it totally squashes all of the N.O.W. complaints about the movie, and, especially when compared to drek like Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper, it's clear from the ending that Spinell and Lustig were not interested in glorifying the murders of these women, but in how these murders haunt the killer…showing (in a dream sequence) that they (the murders of the women) are literally eating him alive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer of Slash: Capsule Reviews, Part 4

Back with some capsule reviews.  These have been in the can for a while, but a mixture of grad school, work, and the hard drive for my desktop computer blowing up it's been a bugger of a time getting some new horror posts up.  I have a review for Maniac ready to go, too, but I'm still waiting for my computer to get fixed so I can get some screencaps up (my Netbook doesn't have a disc drive). In these capsule reviews you'll find brief thoughts on the Ozploitation version of Rear Window, a zombie movie penned by the man who came up with the idea for Alien, One of the best worst movies I've ever seen (one that would make Umberto Lenzi proud), and possibly one of the worst horror sequels I've ever seen.  Reviews after the jump...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer of Slash: Eyeballing a Meme

Hans from the always wonderful Quiet Cool blog has pegged me for the latest meme making the rounds. This meme started over at The Dancing Image. The inspiration for the meme is "a gallery of images chosen by you to stand for so much of what makes Cinema such a rich and exciting medium." Here are the rules(cut and pasted from Hans' site):

1. Pick as many pictures as you want - but make them screen-captures. These need to be moments that speak to you that perhaps haven't been represented as stills before.

2. Pick a theme, any theme.

3. You MUST link to original gallery at The Dancing Image.

4. Tag five blogs.

I'll tackle the last part first: I'm going to ape what Ed Howard did and simply invite all readers to participate.  It's just better that way.

Okay, so my theme for this meme came to me pretty easily since I'm already doing a theme for the summer.  Naturally, most of the movies I have at my disposal are horror movies, at the moment, so I went ahead and tried to think of one element that I love about horror movies, and I my mind went to eyes.  The Italians love 'em and so do I.  There's something about the eyes: cliches like "windows to the soul" are apt for horror films; there's something seductive and alluring about a close-up shot of the eye; there's something vulnerable about seeing an eye exposed, which leads to many cringe-worthy moments in horror films where eyes are injured (again, a favorite of the Italian's); and there's just something cool about the way eyes are often framed in horror movies.  So here is my gallery of 'eyeball images' from an array of horror films.  Pictures and titles of the films come after the jump...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer of Slash: The Funhouse

The Funhouse is a light-hearted, fun little slasher film that, when held up to all of the other slashers I've watched this summer (almost 30 now), actually achieves what so many hope to accomplish: to be (at the risk of sounding repetitive) a light-hearted, fun little slasher movie. What's even more shocking is that it was directed by Tobe Hooper – who turned down Steven Spielberg's offer to direct E.T. so he could make this film (the two would of course team up in one of the genres oddest partnerships that resulted in the pretty-awful Poltergeist) – a director I have stated numerous times on the blog that I am not very impressed with (his most famous film, you know that one about the chainsaw-wielding maniac, is a tad overrated in my opinion…good, hell even insanely influential, but still overrated). There are some genuine scare moments, and some memorable instances that evoked the kind garishness of an Argento film (the ending at the funhouse is painted with bright colors and oddball noises coming from every direction). It's ultimately a silly little movie, though, but it was probably the last time Hooper was ever any good.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In Lieu of Slash How 'Bout Some Links?

I'm slow on content right now because my computer blew up the other night, and I'm waiting for my tech savvy brother to help me put a new hard drive in it. So, even though I have a review that's been in the can for awhile (I'll post it later today, maybe) I felt like I should point everyone to something much better: Tim Brayton's "Summer of Blood" series on the Video Nasties.  Now, most of my readers will already be familiar with Tim's writing.  He's one of the best out there, and I implore all of you to check out his latest entry on the infamous Nasty film Island of Death.  If you know of Tim's writing, and you know of the infamy of that nasty little Greek POS, then you know that the combo of both is going to be gold, Jerry, gold!  So, do yourself a favor and head on over to Tim's site and read through his archives for some great horror reading. Make sure you keep following his series this summer, horror fans, as the best is yet to come, I'm sure.

On a more serious note: Tim also has asked his readers to partake in a little donation for the Carry on Campaign.  Just click on the link to find out what that's all about.  I usually don't pitch for others when they're asking for donations, and I usually don't donate to online causes; however, Tim's personal story is a powerful one, and I know he's on the up-and-up, therefore I didn't hesitate for a second to do something I rarely do: donate to a cause I know very little about.  Tim explains it all in the aforementioned hyperlink, and I was moved enough to feel compelled to donate a small amount of money to a great cause.  Check it out and help Tim reach his donation goal.

One final, non-horror related, link for you all: don't forget that Bryce's Christopher Nolan blog-a-thon has started (we're in day two now) over at his blog Things That Don't Suck.  Check it out!

Okay...enough shilling from me...I'll be back later with a review of Tobe Hooper's Funhouse.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer of Slash: Alone in the Dark (1982)

Director Jack Sholder's sneakily good little slasher is one of the more underrated and intelligent entries into the subgenre. Released during those oh-so-infamous and fertile years for the slasher subgenre, 1981 – 1984, Alone in the Dark was initially dismissed as 'just another slasher' movie; however, the film has gained quite a reputation among horror buffs for its innovative casting (Jack Palance and Martin Landau as psycho killers!) and intelligent take on the slasher film (not to mention the curiosity factor of it being the first film ever produced by the soon-to-be major horror purveyor, New Line Cinema). Alone in the Dark is a helluva a good time, an extremely entertaining and satisfying horror film (thanks to some hilariously oddball performances, specifically Jack Palance), and is now rightfully somewhat of a cult hit – considered to be one of true gems amid the over-satiated years of the slasher boom.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer of Slash: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

One of the things that make Canadian slashers stand out more than their American contemporaries is their propensity to be consistently not awful. I think the primary reason for this is their attention to detail in things like setting and atmosphere and pacing. Canadian slasher films were much more interested in evoking a mood through the settings and the towns they took place in; in addition, they also tried a little harder to establish their characters, rather than just making them "dead teenagers". The Canadian slasher film seemed to strive for more – whether they succeed or not is up for debate, of course – instead of simply moving from one bloody kill to the next. None, perhaps, did this better than My Bloody Valentine , which along with Bob Clark's Black Christmas, is one of the quintessential Canadian slashers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Quick Question...

I've been messing with my blog the last couple of hours.  I've changed some minor things like colors and such, and I've tweaked some major things to the sidebar like adding an index for my Italian Horror reviews, a link that explains who Hugo Stiglitz is, and as a more organized labeling system (yay OCD!)

So, here's what I'm curious about in my ongoing quest to make the blog as aesthetically pleasing as possible: How does this look when YOU see it.  I've viewed it on both Google Chrome and Firefox (the latter has the header pic fill up the entirety of its space and shows borders, while the former shows the pic not quite filling up the entire header, and the sidebar border can't be seen) and was curious what browser you use to view the blog, and how does it look to you?  Are the widths all messed up? Do the colors show correctly (the blog title should be in red)? Do you even view the site from the homepage or do you view it through an RSS reader?

I'm just curious as I've been tweaking these things and I'm wondering if they're improving the blog, or just making it a cluttered mess.  Let me know.  And please be brutally honest!  Hehe.  I'll return late tonight with another installment for my Summer of Slash series.  Thanks!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Question of the Day: Which is better, Canadian slashers or American slashers?

In the spirit of the holiday coming up ("USA, USA, USA"...I kid...) -- and the fact that even though I've been watching a TON of horror movies lately, but I just haven't had the time to write about them (for Jamie: you were so, so right about Slugs, hehe, it was wonderful) -- I was thinking of posing this question about which country had the better slasher resume.  So, horror fans, which do you prefer: the slashers of America (Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Burning, Friday the 13th, and Scream) or the slashers of Canada (Black Christmas, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Visiting Hours, and Terror Train)?  I think if we're talking the heyday of slashers (1978 - 81) it's pretty close, but when you start to look at when the slasher genre was getting to become overkill, the Canadians were still releasing semi-decent and innovative takes on the subgenre, so I think I prefer Canadian slashers films.

Which do you prefer?  Perhaps you're like me and you prefer a whole different kind of beast, the Italian giallo, which was the king of this subgenre pre-Halloween (and Argento and Soavi even added a few twists to it with their later, 1987 entries, Opera and Stagefright respectively).  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  More horror reviews coming next week when work slows down a bit.