Friday, December 23, 2011

All New Death at the Drive-in

It can be found here. Have fun!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Looking Back: An Argento Classic

Wow, it's been a hell of a long time since I've posted. Life gets in the way sometimes, you know?

Anyway, I'm back with a quick note that I've just revisited Blue Underground's 2007 release of Dario Argento's Opera. You remember Dario Argento, don't you? The Italian Hitchcock? The maestro of horror? He was the guy that revolutionized foreign horror in the 70's and 80's with movies like Suspiria and Tenebrae. Then he fell into complete obscurity in the 90's.

Somewhere along the way, Argento lost his flair for the dramatic. His color palette became muted; his narratives, dull and lifeless.

But! We still have epic gialli fair like Opera, and thank all that is holy in this world for that. Argento's camera falls, swoops and tracks; classic Italian music swells on the soundtrack; and the blood runs as red as a setting sun. Of course, things get a bit too vertiginous, particularly in a circular stairwell scene that Argento repeats ad nauseum (literally). And the dubbed dialogue is, as usual, laughable.

But Opera contains at least two of Argento's great set-pieces, one involving a poor costume seamstress and the relatively gag-inducing method with which the killer extracts an expensive necklace she swallows; the other, let's just say, finds new meaning in the term "being on pins and needles." And the scene at the end between our killer and a group of rather pissed-off ravens is worth the price of admission alone.

So, check this one out if you haven't seen it; although, if you're a tried-and-true horror buff, you already should have. (Shame on you!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where's the Love: Curtains

Playing a psychotic is the role of a lifetime for actress Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar), who, in the ultimate example of The Method, commits herself to an institution; John Vernon, as the sleazy director, leaves her there. Vernon gathers up six actresses at his country home to audition for the role that Eggar thought she had locked. Eggar gets out and turns up at the house. High drama and bloodshed follow.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the completely obscure 1983 slasher opus Curtains, with its killer shrouded in an old-hag mask. Director Richard Ciupka keeps the pace brisk, although screenwriter Robert Guza Jr. throws in a few unnecessary—and melodramatic—digressions involving Eggar’s generally pissed-off actress. (I say unnecessary, because even a blind monkey with a banana up its ass will spot the killer within the first fifteen minutes.) There are several descent kills, including the infamous ice-skating incident. There’s also a fairly well-staged chase scene near the end that begs the question why anyone ever thinks it’s a good idea to hide from the killer in a ventilation shaft. The acting is above reproach this time around, particularly from Eggar, Vernon, and Lynne Griffin as one of the thespians, which is entirely unusual for yet another Canadian tax-shelter flick (or any movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis).

So, the question has become legend: Where’s the Goddamned Love? Maybe I’m damning with faint praise here, but Curtains is most certainly one of the better examples of early-80’s-era slasher movies and deserves to finally get a proper DVD release. I have spoken…and so it shall be. *Poof*

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Darker Skies

A series of photos taken from my apartment.

[Note: Please do not reuse these photos without first obtaining written permission from me. Thanks.]

Where's the Love: Tower of Evil

[Update: Finally got the Elite DVD from a private seller on Amazon, and it looks fucking AMAZING. Pick this one up, if you get the chance.]

Ok, ok. I know Elite released a DVD version of Jim O’Connolly’s Tower of Evil back in the 90’s; but it was short lived, and the movie is now only available through private sellers (for about $3, granted).

Part Hammer film. Part early-era slasher flick. Pure British exploitation. Tower of Evil is one of my favorite hold-overs from the years I spent as a gawky kid soaking up every ounce of horror I could on videotapes and late-night T.V. I’d practically pee myself when the T.V Guide listed this baby. I’ve seen it half a dozen times since then, although I failed to ever actually pick up the previous DVD release. So this is my purely selfish plea.

The premise is simple, if not inspired: A young girl survives the (surprisingly awesome) slaughter of her friends at the hands of a madman lurking about Snape Island. Charged with the crimes, the girl’s parents, convinced their daughter is innocent, hire a detective to investigate. The detective joins a group of—wait for it—archaeologists, who have heard tell of treasure buried on the island by ancient Phoenicians (yes, those ancient Phoenicians). The group sets off for their destination, which contains the eponymous “tower” and…

…and I suppose I don’t need to tell you what happens next.

Laughable dialogue and atrocious acting are both on expert display here, to be sure. But throw in half a dozen decent kills that would leave Jason Voorhees in awe, lots of gratuitous nudity (from both genders—you’re welcome, fellow gays), lots of fog and creepy atmosphere, and you’ve got yourself 90 minutes of bloody good fun. There’s even a moderate “twist” ending for good measure. Oh, and if you pay close enough attention, you may even recognize Tower of Evil as a mild forbearer to another “Where’s the Love” entry: Humongous.

So, I ask, as I often do: where’s the love, people? I think this little British goody deserves a bit more than a short-lived DVD release, don't you think? Blu-ray, anyone?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th: Bay, $42M; Fans, 0

Last week, I had a bad dream. I was startled at first, sleep coming back to me in fits and starts. A few days later, the details were hazy, at best. And today, I can only remember that I had a bad dream. Next week, I'll have forgotten that the whole thing ever happened.

That's how I feel about Bay & Co's Friday the 13th: It's all seems like a really horrible dream. And here I sit, two weeks later, still unable to muster up enough energy to tell you about it. I've innumerable reasons why I hated the movie, some of them now a little nebulous, but I've no interest in explaining why. Horrible, I know, but I don't care.

I'll fall back on my standard mantra: Michael Bay is the Devil, and Platinum Dunes is hell. I take some solace in the movie's record 81% second-week drop at the box-office: It tells me that not many were willing to shell out the cash for a repeat viewing, and I hope it hurt Michael Bay's ice-cold heart. I hope it hurt him for letting us down. Unfortunately for many of us, Friday the 13th happened nonetheless, and we are (according to the lukewarm-to-vitriolic reception on the blogs) still reeling, desperate to forget the bits and pieces of something awful that happened to us in a recent nightmare.

It'll go away, eventually; I know. And soon enough, I'll have forgotten that the whole thing ever happened. I hope.