Monday, 6 July 2015

Day of the Dead (1985)

George A. Romero’s third and last great zombie film ‘Day of the Dead’ is a perfect representation of the 1980s, yet it is also the most unappreciated entry of his original flesh-eating undead trilogy. Romero embodied metaphors in his “walking dead” in ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978) with biting social commentaries that accurately summed up the respective times of their releases. This was with domestic racism and the Vietnam War in the ‘60s and with a more tongue-in-cheek satirical jab at times as well commentating on society’s obsession with consumerism in the ’70s. This was with profound insight realized on screen by a horror filmmaker with more guts (excuse the pun) and vision than most auteurs of the genre before, then and now.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bloody Reunion (2006)

Some of our most vivid memories of school are the teachers who taught us be it the good or bad experiences we had with them. A good memory I have of one at my old secondary school (high school to you American readers) in South East London was a supply teacher we had once named Clyde Gatell, an American from Brooklyn who was teaching on the side while trying to break into acting. He was a nice laid-back man who talked fondly of his experiences working with Tim Burton on 1989’s ‘Batman’ while filming the flashback sequence depicting the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in which he played the other mugger. I remember him mimicking my strong South London accent one time making me laugh.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Love Butcher (1975)

Gruesome murders of young beautiful naked women are depicted in ‘The Love Butcher’. It is a rare ultra-low budget slasher forerunner that was released on the grindhouse and drive-in circuits a year after Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Bob Clark’s ‘Black Christmas’ and three years before John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ - genre landmarks that would mould the American modern horror landscape. It was given a slightly wider release in 1982 in an attempt to capitalize on the then booming sub-genre that was induced by Sean C. Cunningham’s gory elaboration in 1980 with Friday the 13th. Despite being ahead of its time in 1975, due to its limited distribution and despite its early ‘80s lesser limited re-release as it got lost in the sea of red of all the slashers released every weekend becoming just one of the blood pack it largely went unnoticed putting a damper on any influential potential it might of had.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pieces of Talent (2014) and a Missing Piece

Pieces of Talent (2014)

‘Pieces of Talent’ is an independently produced and distributed feature by Shutter Blade Media that has earned a bevy of awards from its film festival screenings and has garnered both critical and fan acclaim across the board since its release last year. It is directed, shot, edited and scored by the multi-talented octopus armed filmmaker Joe Stauffer who co-wrote the screenplay with fellow North Carolina native David Long (credited as Dustin Lewis as co-writer) the co-developer of its concept and is its star playing a character of the same name in a meta role. It takes the old serial killer snuff film premise and does something uniquely different with it. It is a tried and tested formula but it is the extra solution added to it that uniquely separates this from its peers in the sub-genre - some of which are great such as Last House on Dead End Street (1977) and more often than not are terrible such as ‘Snuff’ (1976).

Friday, 3 April 2015

Opera (1987)

‘Opera’ (alternative USA title ‘Terror at the Opera’) is Dario Argento’s reaction to being refused his wish of directing a stage adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera ‘Rigoletto’. British filmmaker the late Ken Russell had previously in 1984 directed a version of Giacomo Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’ that veered away from the classical to something very weird not going down at all well with the management of the opera house and was met with an at best mixed reception from critics and audiences. This dissatisfaction with Russell’s vision meant that a risk was not willing to be taken with Argento, as he is a genre director - an auteur of graphically violent giallo mystery thrillers and supernatural horror. With that, the filmmaker got cracking on a screenplay for this opera themed entry into gialli that would go on to be considered by many critics and fans alike as his last great work… although I cannot see why as that honour goes to 1982’s ‘Tenebre’.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

‘Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning’ is much maligned by the majority of the slasher franchise’s fans. While I am not going to defend it as a good instalment as it mostly certainly is not (in my honest opinion there has not been a good one since 1984’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) it is not quite the stinker it is made out to be. It does not languish at the bottom of the barrel scraping it alongside the atrocities that are ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan’ (1989), ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (1993) and ‘Jason X’ (2001). Instead it ranks in the series somewhere just above climbing up the barrel a little as an entry that at least tried to do something different with the filmmakers having their work cut out for them as the studio Paramount wanted to keep milking the cash cow after what was supposed to be “The Final Chapter”.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper’s powerfully disturbing breakthrough ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is a film of superior artistry executed for the specific reason to hate you and ruthlessly attack you; its sole intention is to drive you mad with its insane sights of the macabre a raw grueling waking nightmare that captures authentically the syntax of one. Everything here is made to draw that strong emotional response from your psyche causing an impact so deep you will not soon forget what you just saw as you experience its sheer horror suffering with anxiety, despair and fear from the psychological mindfuck it relentlessly hits you with as you squirm with immense discomfort. It is an uncompromising exercise in cruelty and savagery entailing torture, mutilation and murders and features five prolonged sequences of maddening terror with all these horrid events encapsulated in a constant thick atmosphere of dread.