April 22, 2015

"THE TERROR" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #4)

THE TERROR

Working Title:
Lady of the Shadows

Alternate Titles:
The Haunting / The Castle of Terror / The Night of Terror

German Titles:
The Terror - Schloß des Schreckens / The Haunting - Vision des Grauens / Terror House - Das Haus des Todes / Die Dame aus dem Meer

USA, 1963
Directors: Roger Corman,
 Francis Ford Coppola (uncredited), Monte Hellman (uncredited), Jack Hill (uncredited),
Jack Nicholson (uncredited)

7/10


According to an interview with German newspaper "Die Zeit" (click here),
renegade filmmaker Roger Corman called "The Terror" '(...) the craziest movie that I've ever made'. Looking at the movie's weird production history, it's pretty obvious what he means.


After Corman wrapped his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven",
he realized that there were still a couple of shooting days left before the Raven-sets were torn down, and so he decided to shoot another film on the spot. Based on a commissioned Poe-like screenplay by Leo Gordon ("The Wasp Woman") and Jack Hill ("Blood Bath"), Corman shot the bulk of the movie within a couple of days on the sets of "The Raven" and "The Haunted Palace".



Due to lack of time and several other reasons (directors guild etc.), Corman wasn't able to finish the movie, and so he hired Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather 1-3") to shoot additional exterior footage. Several other scenes were directed by Jack Hill, regular Corman-collaborator Monte Hellman ("Silent Night, Deadly
Night 3")
and main actor Jack Nicholson himself!


9 months later, Corman and editor Stuart O'Brien ("Dementia 13") finally cobbled the footage and the directing styles of 5 different people together. Result: a super-weird but interesting, entertaining and quite satisfying mess of a movie. The plot is all over the place and doesn't make much sense (something about a French lieutenant, a creepy baron, a mysterious woman and an old witch), but that doesn't matter because everything else is just great.


The cast is simply killer: Jack Nicholson in one of his very first roles, his only wife Sandra Knight, horror god Boris Karloff and Corman-regular Dick Miller. There's tons of stunningly suspense-laden and breathtaking scenes, like the eerie opening or the scene where Nicholson explores the castle, as well as some other remarkable scenes like the bird attacks or the amazing finale where people get struck by lightning, bodies quickly rot into skeletons
and a whole crypt gets flooded.


The sets all look beautifully creepy and were perfectly captured by the magnificent camera work of John M. Nickolaus Jr. ("Attack of the Giant Leeches") and Floyd Crosby ("House of Usher"), and the musical score by Roland Stein ("Spider Baby") is ravishing, powerful and simply excellent. Oh, I forgot to mention the delightful-looking opening credits sequence. They don't make 'em
like that anymore...



Not a perfect movie, but definitely way, way better than its reputation. A must-see for fans of everything Corman, Poe, Hammer, Amicus etc.

Wiki ~ Imdb


April 21, 2015

John Carpenter's CHRISTINE

CHRISTINE

Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's Christine


USA, 1983
Director: John Carpenter

9/10









When people talk about their favorite John Carpenter fims, they mostly
mention / talk about "The Thing", "Halloween", "In the Mouth of Madness" or "Big Trouble in Little China", but only in rare cases you stumble upon someone who really loves "Christine", a movie that isn't exactly forgotten or underrated, but... well, I think it never really got the love that it actually deserves.


Carpenter's adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name is definitely one of the director's coolest flicks and also one of the best car-themed horror films ever made AND one of the few King-adaptations that is better the book. "Christine" was actually the very first King-book I ever read. I remember liking it, but not so much as the film which is IMO so much better, thanks to some great major changes made by Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips ("Fire with Fire").

"Christine" revolves around the friendship between the jocky Dennis and uber-nerd Arnie which is in danger of falling apart after Arnie bought and restored an old red Plymouth Fury, nicknamed Christine. Arnie is so completely in love with the car, he spends more and more time with it and slowly starts to change into a cocky and rude semi-greaser, not knowing that it's all the fault of Christine who seems to be alive, has a mind of its own and quickly starts to get jealous when Arnie starts to date the school's most beautiful girl...


In the book, the car is possessed by the ghost of a previous owner, a rather annoying character that always irritated me during reading. Gladly, there's no such ghost in the film. As the glorious opening scene in the car factory shows, "Christine" is more of a living creature than a simple car, born evil and ready to kill, almost invincible and able to restore itself. Ok, it's not that evil. It also wants to be loved by the right owner, shows him its love by 'talking to him' via playing old rock tunes from the 50s and it kills all of its owners' enemies.
Oh Christine, you sweet bitch!

Compared to all of Carpenter's other 80s horror flicks, "Christine" is the calmest and most subtle one, which is probably one of the main reasons why people often forgot about it. There's hardly any deaths and kills, hardly any gore and violence. Hell, it's not even a typical horror film. Yes, the movie's main attraction is a killer car, and yes, there are a few people get murdered, but that's not what this movie is about. It's more of a character piece about love and hate, popularity and outsiderdom, envy and jealousy, justice and revenge, friendship and loneliness.


The movie's atmosphere is captivating and mesmerising, thanks to the competent direction, the stunningly beautiful cinematography by Donald M. Morgan ("Starman"), some of the best-looking lens flares in cinematic history (Screw you, JJ Abrams, that's how it should be done!), and a subtle but eerie and immensely effective synth score by Carpenter himself. There's also lots of fabulous rock tunes, like George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone", Little Richard's "Keep A-Knockin'", Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie" or the Rolling Stones'
"Beast of Burden".


Acting-wise, everyone does great work, especially Keith Gordon who delivers a remarkable Jekyll-and-Hyde-like performance, John Stockwell as worried and slightly rattled jock, a wonderfully lovely Alexandra Paul, a wonderfully grumpy Robert Prosky, a solid-as-always Harry Dean Stanton and a bafflingly creepy performance by Roberts Blossom (best known as the old man in "Home Alone").


Highlights: the incredible special effects work when Christine restores herself (who needs CGI anyway?), the supersexy scene where Christine 'shows her body' to Arnie ("Show me!"), the gas station explosion, burning Christine hunting down one of the bullies, Christine slicing one of the bullies in half in a forklift bay, the football match knock-out, the super-bright choking scene and the fantastic bulldozer vs. Christine finale.

She'll possess you. Then destroy you. She's death on wheels.
She's "Christine", one of the coolest women... erm, cars in horror history! :)


Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw: as you can clearly see below, "Christine" obviously influenced filmmaker & music video director Jonathan Glazer on his video
for Radiohead's "Karma Police"...



 ...and, hey, why not conclude this post with pics of John Carpenter and producer Richard Kobritz cutting a "Christine" cake? :-)



April 20, 2015

R.I.P RICHARD DYSART

Yet another acting legend has passed away. The great RICHARD DYSART has died at the age of 86 from Cancer.

To horror fans, Dysart is best known for his role in John Carpenter's masterpiece
"The Thing" (1982) as grumpy Dr. Copper ["They're not Swedish, Mac. They're Norwegian."]. He also performed in sci-fi/horror b-movies like "The Terminal Man" (1974), "Prophecy" (1979) or "Warning Sign" (1985).

Outside of Horror, he is most famous for his role as Leland Mckenzie in all 171 episodes of "L.A. Law" (1986-1994) which garnered him a Primetime Emmy in 1992. He also worked together with other legendary directors, like John Schlesinger ("The Day of the Locust", 1975), Hal Ashby ("Being There", 1979), John Schlesinger ("The Falcon and the Snowman", 1985), Peter Bogdanovich ("Mask", 1985), Clint Eastwood ("Pale Rider", 1985), Oliver Stone ("Wall Street", 1987) or Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future III", 1990).

Rest in Peace, Richard Dysart
1929 - 2015


April 19, 2015

"NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #3) + 1990 Remake & 2006 Remake

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

Working Titles:
Night of the Flesh Eaters / Night of Anubis

German Title:
Die Nacht der lebenden Toten

USA, 1968
Director: George A. Romero

9/10





Nice to see that there's always 1 or 2 classics in those Mill Creek boxes, and this one is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most popular horror film classics ever made: Maestro George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead", obviously not the first film about undead people, but definitely the one that defined/redefined them as bloodhungry and cannibalistic bastards, better known as "Zombies" - even though this word wasn't actually used in the film, they call 'em "Ghouls".


Shot on a shoestring budget of only about $114.000,- over a period of 7 months in 1967 and released in the autumn of 1968, Romero's debut feature became a super-important game-changer for the horror genre by introducing a completely new kind of terror: average Americans who suddenly turn into slow and unintelligent, but ruthless and aggressive cannibals, harbored by an insatiable hunger for human flesh - and the only way to properly kill them is to destroy their brains (Boom Headshot!), a huge deviation from the 'Haitiian folklore zombie' who is just a mindless corpse, reanimated by Voodoo witchcraft and shit.

There's no doubt that Romero is an innovative, imaginative and visionary filmmaker. His directing style is genius and he has a wonderful eye for detail and composition, light and atmosphere. Due to the low budget, he decided to shoot "Night of the Living Dead" on 35mm black-and-white-film, and it was a marvellous decision. The cemetery in the beginning of the film looks bleak as fuck (even bleaker than the one in Albert Band's "I Bury The Living" which obviously had an influence on Romero), the interior of the farmhouse looks scary as hell, and when we first get to see the zombies eating human flesh... damn, it's pretty disturbing. Several colorized re-releases (1986, 1997, 2004 & 2010) prove the same: this movie needs no colors.


Like all of Romero's zombie flicks, "Night of the Living Dead" isn't just a simple horror film. In fact, Romero had the guts to combine classic horror tropes (fear of the unknown, creepy house/basement/cemetery etc.) with subversive critique on the America of the 60s regarding racism (even though this wasn't attended, according to Romero), international Cold War politics, the situation in Vietnam, and factitiousness of society, especially on capitalism and the oh-so-unquestionable functionality of the nuclear family. This was quite a first in horror. Until 1968, Horror was merely used for "entertainment". With NLOTD, the horror genre suddenly had a message.

Next to the top-notch direction and effective pacing, there are other things worth praising, such as the stunning script - written by Romero and John A. Russo ("Santa Claws") - which is full of excellent twists and turns, the powerful cinematography, the effective editing (both by Romero), the moody music which was largely compiled of stock music from the extensive music library of Capitol Records, music that was previously used in films like "Teenagers from Outer Space", the eerie zombie make-up, the look and usage of blood and gore (actually, chocolate syrup and roasted ham!), and of course, one of cinema's most unexpected, most devastating shocker endings. I guess back then, only "Planet of the Apes" was more shocking (interestingly, this was released the very same year - what a great year!).


There's also some great acting going on here: Duane Jones as the ill-fated hero Ben (first time a Black actor starred in a mainstream horror film), Judith O'Dea as Barbra (impressive actress, but her character is just useless, which is probably the movie's only annoying flaw), Karl Hardman as choleric and hot-headed semi-smartass Harry, Marilyn Eastman as Harry's wife, Romero-regular Bill Hinzman as the cemetery zombie, and Kyra Schon as scary zombie-kid.

It might be a bit dated, it might be a bit too un-graphic, especially for younger audiences, but that won't hurt its reputation as one of the most important, most influential horror films of all time. Thanks George!

Wiki ~ Imdb





NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
(Remake)

German Title:
Night of the Living Dead - Die Rückkehr der Untoten

USA, 1990
Director: Tom Savini

6/10







The directorial feature debut of legendary FX/make-up artist and cult actor Tom Savini is - like Imdb user MisterWhiplash perfectly described - a "Remake of something that didn't need to be remade, but it's still alright". I have no idea how and why this remake came into existence, but... well, it seems as if everybody involved was freaking excited about it.


George A. Romero re-wrote his original screenplay for this remake and even served as its executive producer, Tom Savini, who was make-up effects artist on Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead", ended up directing it, and the whole thing was co-produced by John Russo (co-writer of the original 1968 screenplay) and Russell Streiner (producer of the 1968 original).

It's a neat flick, but absolutely nothing special. Savini's direction is quite bland, there's hardly any tension or atmosphere, the pacing is way too slow, and the absence of the original's super-effective black-and-white photography is sorely missed. Also, Paul McCollough's ("The Majorettes") score is unbelievably boring. They should have used some stock music instead...


What's really, REALLY good is the cast: my goodness, Tony "Candyman" Todd is simply amazing as Ben, and Patricia "Babylon 5" Tallman just kicks ass as Barbra 2.0, a badass zombie-killer-babe who knows how to survive the apocalypse. More great performances by the ever-so-fabulous Bill Moseley ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2"), William Butler ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3"), Heather Mazur (who disappeared into TV-land) and Tom Towles ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), though his character, a nasty re-interpretation of the original Harry, is fucking unbearable.

Also, terrific-looking zombies, ace gore effects, an unexpectedly epic explosion, and a surprisingly grim ending, not as shocking as the original's ending,
but still pretty wow!
Overall: okay. I've seen worse remakes, I've seen better remakes. Whatever.




NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D

Alternate German Title:
Night of the Living Dead 2007

USA, 2006
Director: Jeff Broadstreet

3/10








Not just another completely unnecessary remake, but also a stupid, unnecessary and expendable one. Jeff Broadstreet, director/writer of low-budget rubbish like "Dr. Rage" or "Sexbomb" thought it's a good idea to shoot a 3D knock-off of Romero's horror classic. As expected, it turned out to be pretty crappy. Note: I've only seen it in 2D, but according to many, many critics and reviewers, it doesn't matter if watched in 3D or 2D. Both versions are equally un-entertaining.


Broadstreet's direction is simply awful. He has absolutely no idea how to create any form of tension or suspense, and he obviously had no clue what was going on before the camera - or maybe he simply didn't care. Screenwriter Robert Valding tried so hard to be oh-so-funny and oh-so-inventive - but due to the fact that he's just a god-awful writer, it all came off as huge mess.

The (non-)actors stumble around, dropping unimportant dialogue, doing this, doing that, doing nothing. Even the zombies seem to be bored to death (pun intended). The make-up effects range from ok to plain laughable, the few CGI effects are horrid (incl. most ridiculous "Bullet Time" scene ever created) and the music
is just lame.


The only one who delivers a terrific performance is obviously Sid Haig, one of the few actors who is able to turn a god-awful movie into a mildly watchable one (like he did in "Creature" or "Hatchet III"). There's also, a few cool kills, decent cinematography, an ok opening, and I loved the scene with Sid Haig's zombie father. Other than that, an awful and superfluous remake.

April 16, 2015

Stephen King's DREAMCATCHER

DREAMCATCHER

USA / Australia, 2003
Director: Lawrence Kasdan

4/10











The 1999 novel "Dreamcatcher" is definitely one of the weirdest and weakest books Stephen King has ever written. It's silly, it's confusing, it's boring and it's way, way too long (620 pages). Hell, even the King himself doesn't like it. In a 2014 interview, he said:
"Well, I don't like "Dreamcatcher" very much. "Dreamcatcher" was written after the accident. [King had a bad car accident in 1999]
I was using a lot of Oxycontin for pain. And I couldn't work on a computer back then because it hurt too much to sit in that position. So I wrote the whole thing longhand. And I was pretty stoned when I wrote it, because of the Oxy, and that's another book that shows the drugs at work."

Yet, to my surprise, the 2003 film adaptation turned out to be even worse. It's a bizarre story about 4 friends on a camping trip in a small town that is plagued by an armada of aliens that incubate in the human's intestinal tract and exit the body through the anus (dafuq??), and in some weird kinda way, it all seems to be connected to their childhood friend Duddits, a kid with down syndrome and telepathic powers. The book was already a tough read, but in its film form, it's just dumb, annoying and frustrating.


"Dreamcatcher" actually starts out rather good. The first 50 minutes are mostly tense and thrilling, thanks to a fantastic cast with incredible chemistry (Thomas Jane, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Lee & Damian Lewis), lots of "It"-like atmosphere, a few "Stand by Me"-esque flashbacks, beautiful settings, gorgeous cinematography (John Seale, Oscar for "The English Patient") and one of the most suspenseful "toilet scenes" in movie history (Jason Lee trying to keep an alien worm under the toilet lid - I shit you not! ;)))

But then after the 50 minute mark, the whole thing goes down the drain and the remaining 75 minutes are mostly just bad. Clichéd-looking CGI aliens possessing people by 'exploding in front of them' and turning them into grinning idiots, a completely miscast Morgan Freeman who hardly leaves his helicopter and constantly delivers oh-so-badass lines like "I'm here to kick some ass." or "I think we're on the same page, pissin' in the same latrine.", a snake alien bites into a penis (stupid scene that sounds more amusing than it actually is), lots of REALLY awful-looking CGI crap, countless scenes that are either boring or tedious as hell (why the heck is this movie 135 minutes long???), not enough scenes with Donnie Wahlberg as Duddits...


...and a craptacular ending that completely contradicts with the ending in the book and doesn't fit at all because it's batshit retarded and makes no sense. [SPOILER] They actually filmed two endings: the one from the book where Duddits kills the main alien and dies, and a new one where Duddits reveals to be an alien himself and fights the main alien until they both explode - WTF???
They didn't use the original ending and went with the fucked up new one - which obviously is a totally ridiculous decision. The book ending is on the DVD as a bonus feature and it's sooooo much better. If they would have used this, I would have given "Dreamcatcher" a 5/10...


Wiki ~ Imdb

April 15, 2015

WHITEOUT (2009)

WHITEOUT

USA / Canada / France, 2009
Director: Dominic Sena

6/10











Dominic Sena was one of the most prolific music video directors of the late 80s and early 90s, directing more than 40 music videos for superstars like Janet Jackson, Sting, Tina Turner or Fleetwood Mac. He even received a Grammy for the Janet Jackson video "Rhythm Nation". In 1993 he quit making music videos and shot his very first feature film "Kalifornia", an incredible road-movie/thriller
that sadly became a big box office flop.

After a 7-year-hiatus he returned to directing and shot 5 features between 2000 and 2011. Domestically, two of them disappointed at the box office ("Gone in 60 Seconds", 2000 + "Swordfish", 2001), two were massive box office bombs ("Whiteout", 2009 + "Season of the Witch", 2011) and then there was also a TV pilot that never made it into a series ("13 Graves", 2006) - so, all in all, it didn't exactly work that well for Sena after he left the music video business...


His biggest bomb was "Whiteout", a 2009 mystery-thriller with action and horror elements, based on the comic book of the same name. It grossed only about $18 million worldwide against a budget of $35 million. The reason for this failure is simple: shitty marketing. The trailers/teasers were over-aggressive and desperately tried to make it look like a horror film in the vein of Carpenter's "The Thing", while the frozen-Beckinsale-face poster artwork (see below) looked just lame. Also, like Box Office Mojo correctly claimed, "the ads (...) made the mistake of assuming that Beckinsale was a draw herself, presumably because she has appeared in some popular movies."

The movie itself isn't particularly bad, but it's pretty flawed and uneven. It's very well shot and solidly directed, but also highly predictable and foreseeable, due to the muddled screenplay [written by Erich & Joen Hoeber ("Battleship"), Carey & Chad Hayes ("The Conjuring")] which is packed with unoriginal plot twists, uninspired plot points, mediocre dialogue and a couple of rather boring characters. Yet, the most irritating thing about it is how many genres they tried to stuff in: even though it's a run-of-the-mill mystery-thriller, there are several scenes that look like they belong into a slasher film (maybe "Cold Prey"?), some action-related sequences, some emotional drama stuff, some disaster-film stuff - and nothing really fits together.


That said, it's still a quite entertaining film with some decently tense scenes, such as the entire Vostok Station scene or the sequence with the Russian cargo plane, some fairly good-looking CGI, lots and lots of super-gorgeous antarctic landscapes, a neat score by John Frizzell ("Alien: Resurrection"), as well as some great lighting and editing. Kate Beckinsale is a solid lead, though nearly all of the other actors deliver far better performances, especially Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short and Tom Skerritt.

Nothing special, but definitely a solid watch - and obviosuly far, far, far better that Sena's other uber-bomb, the horrible "Season of the Witch".

Wiki ~ Imdb

*yawn*

April 14, 2015

"MANIAC" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #2)

MANIAC

Alternate Title:
Sex Maniac

USA, 1934
Director: Dwain Esper

LOL/10








Oh my goodness, what the effing heck was that?? "Maniac" (not to be confused with the same-titled horror classics from 1980 and 2013) is undoubtedly one of the silliest movies I've seen in my entire life. I mean it!

VERY loosely based on the Edgar Allen Poe short stories "The Black Cat" and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", exploitation director Dwain Esper (best known for educational rubbish like, um, "Marihuana: The Devil's Weed", "How to Undress in Front of Your Husband" or "Sex Madness"...) and his wife-slash-screenwriter Hildegard Stadie tell the story of Dr. Meirschultz (sic!), a super-mad scientist (he looks like Santa Claus on acid...) who's experimenting with bringing dead peope to life until he gets shot by his awkward assistant Don Maxwell who later disguises as Meirschultz (with fake beard and glasses) and impersonates him to make it look like the scientist was still alive. Only problem: the impersonation goes too far and he gets utterly and completely batshit insane...


Take the hilariously terrible acting in "Troll 2" and multiply it by 10 - that's how bad the acting in "Maniac" is. I've never seen anyone acting as ridiculously over-the-top as William Woods playing the impersonator (His only acting role. He went on having a mildly successful career as make-up artist in the 50s and 60s), Horace B. Carpenter as uber-bonkers scientist (According to Imdb, he appeared in more than 350 films between 1913 & 1946!!), or Ted Edwards as mental patient who transforms into an imbecile semi-zombie after he got an injection of 'super-adrenaline' (Edwards acted in more than 50 films between 1914 & 1936!).

"Maniac" is only 55 minutes long, but it's so packed with indescribably stupid nonsense, it's just incredible. Drugged women catfighting using baseball bats and syringes, the annoying oh-so-diabolical laughter by Meirschultz, the impersonator squeezing a cat's head, popping one of her eyes out and eating it (yup, that was actually a real cat with a real glass eye!!), the zombie abducting a girl who just got resurrected, dragging her to the woods and strangling her, tons of intertitles about "Dementia praecox" or "Manic-depressive psychoses", as well as many outrageous dialogue lines like "I think too much of Satan to use cats as experiments." or "We know you're hard boiled. You don't have to stay in the water thirty minutes to prove it."


Aside from the horrid direction, the absurd script and the uber-poor acting, we also get to see some unbelievably amateurish camera work by William C. Thompson (the colorblind cameraman who filmed Ed Wood classics like "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and "Bride of the Monster"), and some totally crappy editing by William Austin (who got an Oscar nomination for his editing
in the 1952 war-drama "Flat Top"!!)
.

I might sound a bit bitter, but... no, I'm not. Yes, "Maniac" is really, really bad, but in a terrifically fun way, and it totally deserves a LOL/10 just like "The Creeping Terror" or "War of the Robots". The fact that there are plenty of super-kewt kitties and even a few hot, nude ladies in... it doesn't make the movie better, but...
well, it makes it at least a tad more watchable :-)

April 13, 2015

THE VOICES

THE VOICES

USA / Germany, 2014
Director: Marjane Satrapi

8/10











When it comes to black / dark comedy, I'm not very demanding. As long as it's politically incorrect or/and taboo-breaking and/or controversial and, of course, entertaining, I'm fine with it. Even better when it's not just entertaining, but also able to disturb me, like "Persepolis"-director Marjane Satrapi's newest film "The Voices" which tells the story of Jerry, a nice but pretty weird loner with some serious mental problems who works at a bathtub factory. Things run smooth until Jerry stops taking his pills which leads to him imagining that his pets (super-mean kittie Mr. Whiskers and good-natured boxer Bosco) talk to him. Things get really bad when Mr. Whiskers tells him to kill one of his workmates...


The trailers for "The Voices" were completely misleading. Of course, for the bigger part it's a hialriously funny comedy with lots of laughworthy jokes, lines and characters - but, believe it or not, there's also many, many scenes and sequences that are downright disturbing and so not funny at all. Whenever you think it keeps getting funnier and funnier, director Satrapi and screenwriter Michael R. Perry ("Paranormal Activity 2") suddenly switch the tone to pitch-dark and make your laughter stick in your throat. There are at least 2 scenes (the wake-up and the mother flashback) that are so shocking, it's flabbergasting.

Nevertheless, there's obviously plenty of stuff that will make you laugh, be it outrageous musical numbers, hilarious conversations between Jerry and his pets [cat: "Give me food, you fuckface! FOOD!!" / dog: "(doorbell rings) Intruder! Intruder! I'll take a bullet for you!"], between Jerry and three disembodied heads, a Chinese restaurant with a Karate-Elvis as main attrction, fun with free Pizza and half-dead deers, dead body remains in Tupperware containers
etc. etc.


Ryan Reynolds' performance as half-quirky, half-dangerous weirdo is amazing and probably the best thing he has ever done so far (yes, even better than "Buried"). Love the fact that he voiced all the animals himself. There's also lots of cool acting by hotties Anna Kendrick & Gemma Arterton, and a fantastic performance by the ever-so-lovely Jacki Weaver ("Picnic at Hanging Rock") as adorable shrink. Kudos to the surprisingly stunning production design (Udo Kramer, "Chicken with Plums") and the wonderful camera work (Maxime Alexandre, "High Tension") which makes this movie look more unique than you actually expect.

I hear voices and they tell me to tell you to go see this movie! ;)

April 9, 2015

Line-up: /SLASH 1/2, 2015


/SLASH 1/2, the little brother of the /SLASH FILMFESTIVAL, is back and ready to rock Austria with a very fine line-up!
3 days. 3 nights. 4 star guests. 12 films from 8 countries. Awesomeness!!

/SLASH 1/2
April 29 - May 1, Filmcasino Vienna

Special Guest:
German Horror-God JÖRG BUTTGEREIT!!!

Wednesday, April 29

GERMAN ANGST
- Directed by:
Jörg Buttgereit ("Nekromantik"),

Andreas Marschall ("Masks")
and Michal Kosakowski ("Zero Killed")
- Germany, 2015
- Screening in the presence of the three directors!

Jörg Buttgereit Double Feature:
NEKROMANTIK
- Germany, 1987
SCHRAMM
- Germany, 1993
- Screening in the presence of the director!

AMOR ETERNO (a.k.a EVERLASTING LOVE)
- Directed by: Marcal Forés
- Spain, 2014
- Screening in the presence of the director!

Thursday, April 30

THE GUEST
- Directed by: Adam Wingard ("You're Next")
- USA, 2014

LOST RIVER
- Directorial debut by Ryan Gosling ("Drive")
- USA, 2014

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
- Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner
- Australia, 2014

THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET
- Directed by: Aik Karapetian
- Latvia / Estonia, 2014

Friday, May 1

SPRING
- Directed by: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead ("VHS Viral")
- USA, 2014

CUB (a.k.a WELP)
- Directed by: Jonas Govaerts
- Belgium, 2014

LA ISLA MÍNIMA (a.k.a MARSHLAND)
- Directed by: Alberto Rodríguez
- Spain, 2014

THE DEAD LANDS
- Directed by: Toa Fraser
- New Zealand, 2014

R.I.P GEOFFREY LEWIS and JAMES BEST

Holy shit, it has been a tough week for us horror fans. After the deaths of Tom Towler and Robert Z'Dar, two more legends have left us :-(



Prolific character actor GEOFFREY LEWIS, father of Juliette Lewis, has died at the age of 79 from a heart attack.

Between 1970 and 2015, he appeared in more than 130(!) made-for-TV films and TV series ("The X-Filess", "Amazing Stories", "The A-Team", "Bonanza", "Falcon Crest" etc.), as well as in more than 80 feature films, incl. 7 Clint Eastwood collaborations: "High Plains Drifter" (1973), "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974), "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978), "Any Which Way You Can" (1980), "Bronco Billy" (1980), "Pink Cadillac" (1989) and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997).

Among horror fans, he is known for performances in classics (and non-classics) like "Moon of the Wolf" (1972), the Stephen King adaptation "Salem's Lot" (1979), "Night of the Comet" (1984), the painfully underrated "Annihilator" (1986), the not-really-Stephen-King-adaptation "The Lawnmower Man" (1992), "Trilogy of Terror II" (1996), Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" (2005) or "Wicked Little Things" (2006).

Rest in Peace, Geoffrey Lewis
1935 - 2015



Six-decade-actor JAMES BEST has died at the age of 88 from complications of pneumonia.

Best is best known for his his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the cult TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1979-1985) and all its spin-offs ["The Dukes" (1983), "The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!" (1997) & "The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollyood" (2000)], as well as in countless TV series like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Twilight Zone", "Bonanza", "Rawhide" or "Gunsmoke".

His appearances in the horror genre were a tad sparse: he starred in "The Killer Shrews" (1959) and its sequel "Return of the Killer Shrews" (2012), "The Savage Bees" (1976), "The Brain Machine" (1977) and "Death Mask" (1998), and appeared as an extra in 50s-classics like "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953) or "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957).

Rest in Peace, James Best
1926 - 2015


April 8, 2015

"THE ASTRAL FACTOR" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #1)

THE ASTRAL FACTOR

Alternate Titles:
Invisible Strangler / The Astral Fiend

German Titles:
The Transformer / The Transformer - Der Astral-Faktor

USA, 1976/1984
Directors: John Florea,
Arthur C. Pierce (uncredited), Gene Fowler Jr. (uncredited)

4/10



"The Astral Factor" (not to be confused with the 1992 sequel "976-Evil 2: The Astral Factor" which was released as "Astral Factor" in Germany) is a typical piece of low-budget 70s horror/sci-fi rubbish, combining the then-popular telekinetic horror with the serial-killer genre and the classic "Invisible"-theme, following a mother-obsessed psychopath with telekinetic powers and the ability
to become invisible who breaks out of prison and starts strangling women,
because why not.

The movie was shot in 1976 but not released until 1984. Reason? Dunno. It could have been easily marketed as something in the vein of "Carrie", "Patrick" or "The Fury", maybe even as a sequel to one of these movies. Well... whatever. The movie isn't exactly good, but good enough to check it out if you're into cheesy 70 b-stuff. [According to Imdb, it was at least shown on Japanese TV in 1981.]


John Florea's direction is inept and rather lame, no wonder he spent most of his career shooting episodes for "Daktari", "Bonanza" or "CHiPs". I couldn't find out why there are two more uncredited directors attached to it. Okay, Arthur C. Pierce ("Women of the Prehistoric Planet") wrote the screenplay and apparently did some extra work on the film, but I have no idea what Gene Fowler Jr., the
Oscar-nominated editor of 60s classics like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" or "Hang 'Em High" was doing here...

The special effects all look silly as hell (glowing eyes = stars painted on a still picture | becoming invisible = 'dissolving' into bright blue... um, particles) and most of the kills are unintentionally hilarious. Being strangled by invisible hands obviously isn't fun and a capable director would have been able to make these scenes creepy - but under Florea's direction, the kills turn out to be simply ridiculous, even the one I'd consider the most "impressive" one where a dancer gets killed during a live-show, an interesting but poorly developed kill that could have been done soooo much more better...


At least the cast is very, very nice. We get to see an unbelievably sexy and pretty amusing Elke Sommer ("A Shot in the Dark"), and an equally sexy and surprisingly hilariously quirky Stefanie Powers ("Hart to Hart") who's constantly joking around, baking various terrible birthday cakes or simply showing her naked butt. Also, more sexiness by Marianna Hill ("Messiah of Evil"), Sue Lyon ("Lolita") and Leslie Parrish ("The Giant Spider Invasion").

Weird but watchable 70s obscurity, a semi-must-see for fans of old-school telekinetic horror... and Stefanie Powers' butt.



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