Wednesday, 21 September 2016

30 Years of Evil - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Warning! Spoilers ahead.

‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ inspired by the real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas is a character study portrayal of the titular character. This true-life inspiration is based more on Lucas’ confessions and fantasies rather than the actual truth of the murders he was convicted for, as many of his confessions were false. The Henry here is the protagonist as the story is seen entirely from his point of view but he just so happens to be a serial killer; this is a slice of life depiction of a week in the life of a psychopath. The directorial feature debut of John McNaughton co-writing the screenplay with Richard Fire and filmed over just 28 days on 16 mm is shot in a gritty realistic docu-drama style. Director of photography Charlie Lieberman employs a flat rigid framing helping to generate this look and feel of realism. This is perfectly supplemented by the powerfully ominous score composed by the trio of Ken Hale, Steven A. Jones and Robert McNaughton.

Monday, 19 September 2016

31 (2016)

When rockstar/filmmaker Rob Zombie - worth a reported $40 million and whose last three films over the last eleven years have been about as good as film on teeth - took to for two crowdfunding campaigns for his latest project, I could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of cynicism. It irked me that moneybags Zombie asked his fans to part with their hard-earned cash to raise funds for his new movie production on the strength of three celluloid abortions after his last good effort way back in 2005 with The Devil’s Rejects. While I still think, he had a nerve doing this given his immense wealth the reasons he gave was that he wanted complete creative control complaining how his vision was stifled before. Complete control is what an artist should have over their hard work but rarely do directors get final cut. After viewing ‘31’ it is evident that being able to do everything his own way with an independent production has paid off with a brutally entertaining outcome showcasing the rocker come horror auteur is in his element here. However, I am sure he could have dug deep into his large pockets for a mere $1.5 million budget instead of asking his fans (who have already put him where he is) to put up the cash in exchange for perks.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The New York Ripper (1982)

Giallo mystery thrillers that employ prolonged murder sequences entailing graphic depictions of the victims’ demises and an excessive amount of young female nudity and sexually explicit imagery are one of the main innovators of the slasher film. A prime example of this is Sean S. Cunningham’s successful borrowing from Mario Bava’s excellent 1970 giallo/slasher prototype ‘A Bay of Blood’ ten years after its release with the effective Friday the 13th as it slashed its way through box office receipts igniting the slasher boom of the early ‘80s. The encapsulation of its giallo-esque atmosphere that would transcend through to its first three sequels, SFX maestro Tom Savini’s excellent work creating the blood-drenched set-pieces and supplemented with boobs and nookie cemented this Italian genre as a prime stylistic influence on this American horror sub-genre.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

The slasher sub-genre really came into its own in the early ‘80s thanks to the film that spawned this franchise - the much maligned by mainstream critics yet phenomenal box office performer and crowd pleaser Friday the 13th (1980) with director Sean S. Cunningham getting the ball rolling on the gore factor. Shamelessly exploiting the success of John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ (1978) by aping the shit out of its template, everyone with even just an ounce of filmmaking knowhow was capitalizing on the slasher boom that Friday the 13th induced. Most were terrible but there were a handful of good ones and even a few great ones. It was an easy format to follow and sometimes due to fluking it or sometimes because of actual talent behind the camera there was a genuine sleazy vision that came through the cinematography and framing, lighting and SFX work. The sub-genre is quintessential comfort zone horror; it is the most basic of horror and it can often be very enjoyable horror. Its simplicity and predictability is its main draw and nearing towards the end of the early ‘80s, many entries started to veer towards campiness and cheesy shenanigans.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

The genre production and distribution studio Dimension bought the rights to the  Halloween franchise with a lot of baggage as they were forced into making a follow-up to the worst entry in the series at this point - 1989’s rushed ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’ co-written and directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard. This meant instant doom for the production. It would have been a wise decision to have rebooted here instead, as it would have spared us this trainwreck but with a storyline left dangling for over half a decade the core fanbase were demanding a continuation to tie up the loose ends. Therefore, this monstrosity was what was produced for a sixth instalment (fifth if you do not count the delightful 1982 standalone story ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’).