Saturday, 26 November 2016

Director Retrospectives: Denis Villeneuve

Once a champion of consistent quality who will hopefully forever promise intelligent and challenging pieces of cinema, Villueneve's recent work is defined by a stubborn refusal to bow to blockbuster bleaching in favor of a more restrained style that never reveals itself. Instead, we have to work it out for ourselves and are uniquley rewarded for our patience and precise attention to little details that have grown thinner and more wearisome as his admirably prolific output has continued. The recent box office loss on his sequel to 1982's Blade Runner has doubtlessley slowed that forward progress, but without giving too much away his incendiary early work in Canada still forces me to hope for redemption in Hollywood and elsewhere. 

I have yet to get his directorial debut, Maelstrom, anywhere. The DVD isn't avaliable and I refuse to use Torrents so as of right now this post is missing a key movie. I will update it once the film has finally been found. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Don't Breathe

The story of tree youths breaking into the home of a man they do not realize is a blind ex-army veteran, Dont' Breathe fought long and hard to take the title of the worst horror I've sought out this month. While It Follows still triumphs for its all-consuming tedium, I can at least see the appeal of its anti-jump scare basis. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Conjuring

Tracking through a previously hidden case of famed 'demonologists' Ed and Lorraine Warren (which in actually had been in filmic development for several decades), The Conjuring is a welcome surprise from my despised director James Wan- who brought the egregiously manipulative Saw to life. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: As Above So Below

The tale of a budding young historian taking a group trip down through the Parisian catacombs and beyond into something far darker, As Above So Below is about as effective and intriguing as the found-footage genre gets. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Dead Calm

The story of a hitchhiker in the middle of the ocean, Dead Calm is a very poor-man's Knife in the Water. Roman Polanski's expert pot-boiler thriller puts this vision of the story of shame and even without that point of comparison the film is not saved.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Friday the 13th

The slasher with the highest body-count in the business, Friday the 13th's story of a camp terrorized by a murderous villain is a cinematic enigma in that, with almost every famous horror franchise the first entry is fantastic and the quality quickly drops off thereafter.

Friday, 18 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Army of Darkness

Pulling Ash back into the fray by stranding him way back in Medieval times, Army of Darkness solidifies the eclectic and often schizophrenic style of its inexplicably adored predecessor with the kind of carelessness that makes it quite charming.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The War Game

A 1965 faux-documentary predicting what would happen if a spark lit the Cold War and Russia launched nuclear weapons at the UK- Peter Watkins' brief work does not on paper qualify for a horror month- but watching these events unfold on-screen with such unflinching realism is absolutely terrifying.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: [Rec]

Set in a Spanish apartment building infested with supernatural forces, [Rec] is thus far the definite found-footage film. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Event Horizon

The story of a rescue crew sent to salvage a vessel lost in deep space, I'm ashamed to think we allowed Event Horizon to happen. As always I don't begrudge those who sit comfortably in the cult following of this film and if anything are really happy for you finding a flick that you love... but in all honesty this is fucking laughable.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Invisible Man

The story of a scientist experimenting with chemicals which can cause transparency of the human body, director James Whale's second big addition to classic horror canon after Frankenstein takes the form of an interesting reversal of Shelley's legendary tale: Rather than a monster becoming a man, we see man turn into a monster...

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Creature from the Black Lagoon

A group exploring an exotic jungle discover something ancient and mysterious hidden beneath the waters... something which refreshingly maintains its visceral power and tragic imagery to this very day.

Monday, 14 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Wolf Man

The folkish-tale of a man infected with lycan blood and his subsequent transformations into the eponymous creature, The Wolf Man is yet another Universal monster flick that succeeds on the sympathy it allows its beast. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Phantom of the Opera

Following the familiar story of a disfigured phantom falling in love, Universal's Phantom benefits from another terrific turn from Claude Rains, though it falters in comparison to the impact of the source's previous big adaptation.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Bride of Frankenstein

James Whale's sequel to his own stellar, seminal original piece, Bride of Frankenstein escapes its title; but does provide a deathless template onto which the "bigger = better" mentality of modern horror sequels seems to be derived from, for better or for worse.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Frankenstein

Based on Mary Shelley's classic work of an obsessive scientist bringing to life a corpse, Frankenstein is an absolute staple of horror canon- and rightfully so.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Mummy

One of the weaker Universal works, Mummy follows the eponymous creature after a hapless archaeologist frees it from death. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Dracula

Based on Bram Stoker's original story of Dracula, free from the copyright which hampered Murnau's Nosferatu, Universal's take on the classical vampire tale what somewhat ruined by a certain Mr. Werner Herzog. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Ju-On

The story of the violent spirits of those who have died violently manifesting as a deadly curse- Ju-On is straight-up dumb. Such a primitive word is perhaps best to describe this festival of morbid mediocrity.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Evil Dead II

The same director's re-imagining of the original Evil Dead except with a lot more silliness and a distillation of what made it so effective, Evil Dead II is a much-loved schlock comedy horror which is about as blase as intensely styled movies come.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Cannibal Holocaust

Oh for fucks sake...

Jesus Christ. And I say that not as someone who was remotely offended by the material here, but appalled by the fact that this film was allowed to be made, released and worse still preserved. It's perhaps a little cold not to cite its graphic content as the reason for this but in all honestly what infuriates me about Ruggero Deodato's breakout cannibal flick is its insufferable style, direction, editing, tone- everything.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: An American Werewolf in London

The story of a tourist's deadly run-in with Lycanthropy, An American Werewolf in London is defined by the stereotype of the teenage mind (!) who wrote it: Witty, subversive, original and bold- but ill disciplined. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Descent

The Descent is fantastic, plain and simple. Its the story of several women who go spelunking into an uncharted cave system and run into a deadly sub-human species of Goblin-people... and its a shimmering pinnacle of Noughties horror.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Scream

As far as I'm concerned, Wes Craven was the horror director. From Red Eye to New Nightmare way back into the innovative (if pretty rubbish) exploitation flicks of the '70s like The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left. I want to take this time to say may he rest in peace and thank him for the string of sublime genre flicks he left behind. Perhaps most notably of his modern offerings is the absolutely fantastic Scream.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Videodrome

The politicized tale of a banned TV station which streams torture 24/7 and in doing so suckers viewers into an increasingly immortal and fractured reality, Videodrome signifies an early cult classic and arguably the breakout work of director David Cronenburg. Whilst The Fly is far superior, this does at least feature enough vision and perceptible (if limited) skill to warrant watching at least once.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Aliens

The revered sci-fi classic that for many improved upon Scott's original vision, Aliens does what it says on the tin: Expanding the sole creature focus of the first film into tens of deadly xenomorphs being hunted by an elite band of rag-tag marines and sole survivor of the original incident Ellen Ripley. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The story of a doctor and his catatonic servant locked in a closet, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is regarded as perhaps the first horror film ever made. As with M's take on serial killers and Psycho planting the roots of the slasher- its an astounding achievement that not only sparks off a genre- but arguably perfects it first time around.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Wolf Creek

The story of three backpackers who, after a mysterious breakdown in the Australian outback, are captured by a maniacal bushman, Wolf Creek is trying so hard to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre it hurts. Its reportedly 'horrific' content seemed to escape me and whilst there is a decent flick in there somewhere its so deep under a perfect film's shadow no real light of hope can escape.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Gremlins

Blazing into action with one of my favorite title card moments ever, Gremlins then tells the story of a very cute little pet bought from a mysterious Chinese market that you must never feed after midnight. A Christmas classic and one of the better commerialised family flicks to come out of the 1980s- for me its standout moments don't exude the greatest of its humor, but instead genuine malice. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Conjuring 2

Based on the real-life haunting of a house in Ealing, England, The Conjuring 2 impressed me- though from its prospects I expected an utterly dire piece of work to begin with.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: It Follows

The story of a mysterious haunting the focus of which passes from person-to-person through sex, It Follows is a classic case of a horror with an idea and very little else. Its effectively weaponizes the theme of teen sexuality that was so integral to 80s horror- the issue is that it does not pursue its original concept with the same roughness or passion as its inspirations.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Borderlands

The story of a team of three sent by the Christian administration to investigate strange goings on in a country town church, The Borderlands is a found footage film. That should say it all- but in this case nothing could be further from the truth. 

Friday, 4 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Hills Have Eyes

Wes Craven's wasteland horror centered around a group of savage hill-bound cannibals who prey on innocent travelers and spark a flame of brutal violence within the increasingly barbaric band of survivors, The Hills Have Eyes is one of my favorite titles ever with both a fantastic poster and interesting social commentary concept (as you would expect from the horror-meister himself). 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: The Silence of the Lambs

Not the first horror film to win best picture because its clearly a thriller- Silence of the Lambs nonetheless qualifies here for its chilling content. Following fledgling FBI agent Clarice Starling on her first assignment to investigate a serial killer with the help of imprisoned psychologist-turned-cannibal Hannibal Lecter, its a staple of 1990s cinema and entertaining character acting.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Vampyr

Easily the film with the most acclaimed director this month, Vampyr is Carl Theodore Dryer (of Passion of Joan of Arc fame)'s first foray into sound cinema. Roughly similar to the outsider story of Dracula with a few twists and turns, Dryer's fantastic horror is an intensely sensual piece of work, if lacking on a few other fronts.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Dead Alive

Yet another zombie apocalypse movie, Dead Alive defines exactly how base and generally shitty a sub-genre it lives in by having its BIG selling point being that it features 'the bloodiest scene in cinema'. An achievement for the corn-syrup factory, perhaps, but otherwise we see the distinct vulgarity and total lack of worth most zombie films exude personified in this ridiculous claim. 'Forget strong character or effective cinematic moments- lets just throw as much blood as humanly possible at the audience'.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Evil Dead

A typical 'cabin in the woods' fare before it was cool, Evil Dead was an original VIDEO-NASTY which was both cut and banned for explicit content in the early 80s. In this, its also a perfect point of criticism for the censors in question who ignored all the comedic value of the film for the sake of its knowingly over-the-top splatter. 

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Scanners

David Cronenburg's early foray into body-horror which sees aliens engage in a literal mind war with humanity, Scanners delivers moments of deservedly iconic cultural status and impressive effects. Sadly is an early Cronenburg film- so that's as far as its merits extend. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Possession

Following a man and wife who's path through a separation that turns increasingly violent and begins to attract supernatural elements, Possession shares the lofty award with Eraserhead of being able to make me feel physically sick. It took me two tries to brave Andrzej Żuławski's work in its entirety and sufficed to say I won't be watching it again.

OH GOD NO...vember 2016: Martyrs

The fractured tale of a young girl who escapes from torturers to be raised wanting nothing other than revenge, Martyrs started off so damn well. As with all things, however, it simply couldn’t last.