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Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014
They are the contemporary voices of an ages old ideal, the new fear masters in a genre sometimes stunted by its own lack of (critical) legitimacy.

Some horror legends are still around—Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, George Romero, Dario Argento—and every once in a while they happenstance into something that adds to (instead of detracting from) their already regal reputation. They are the current Masters of Horror, creepshow kings extraordinaire. Then there are the near-misses, the Michele Soavis and Bernard Roses who made massive initial impressions (Dellamorte Dellamore and Paperhouse, respectively) before slinking off into scary movie exile.

Indeed, thanks to the rise in technology, the bankability of fear, and the unbridled fandom which fuels many homemade horror movies, there are very few maestros left in the macabre, man or woman. In fact, it’s safe to say that many of the moviemakers today, your Marcus Nispels and your Bryan Bertinos, seem more interested in moving beyond dread, to play with the “real” artists of the cinema, so to speak.

Tagged as: horror
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Monday, Oct 13, 2014
There are five reasons to revisit Bloody Mama in light of its recent Kino Lorber reissue.

1. Knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde: Producer-director Roger Corman kept his eye on trends, following some and anticipating others. He’d made a few gangster pictures before, but after Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde became a controversial hit, he saw an opening for another period bloodbath that takes liberties with real-life outlaws.

Thus, the world has Bloody Mama, based on the Depression-era exploits of Ma Barker and her wayward bank-robbing sons. They’d already been featured in a low-budget wonder called Ma Barker’s Killer Brood (1960) and an episode of TV’s The Untouchables; but heck, there’d already been a movie called The Bonnie Parker Story in 1958, and that hadn’t stopped Penn. Many critics saw Corman’s film as a vicious, violent, low-budget rip-off of a vicious, violent, respectable Hollywood hit, and reviewed it accordingly.

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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
Dracula Untold is terrible. It should be subtitled Dracula Unnecessary.

Who knew? Who knew that Count Dracula was, at one time, a pretty decent guy. A bit morose and damaged from a stint as a child soldier for a marauding Turk, but as an adult, a nobleman with a kind heart, a compassionate manner, and a devotion to his people. Yes, Prince Vlad was a good person, plagued by a kingdom filled with whiners, but still able to rise above the rabble to do what’s right to maintain his 15th century sovereignty.

Doesn’t quite jive with your memories of the “monster”, does it? That’s because Universal is being run by a bunch of jealous desk jockeys who’ve taken one look at what Disney and Marvel have created via their vast superhero universes and phases and have shouted strongly “Yes, please!” And why not? The House of Mouse and its billion dollar acquisition have seen their bottom line increase as many zeroes, if not more, based on such a plan. Besides, if they can make Maleficent a misunderstood moneymaker, why not the former Prince of Darkness?

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Thursday, Oct 9, 2014
Even the most dedicated follower of fear hasn't seen every horror movie made. Here are ten you need to catch up with, if you haven't already.

So, you’re a horror fan. A dedicated follower of dread. You’ve seen all the classics and suffered through hundreds of hackneyed wannabes. Whenever October roles around and the studios start thinking about scares, you head over to your favorite fright-oriented website and read up on all the potential paranormal activity to take place. You eagerly anticipate a date at the local Cineplex, or more times than not, an epic streaming across several VOD platforms.

Usually you’re disappointed. Sometimes, you’re rewarded. And even after all that, after numerous revisits to a certain cabin in the woods or a haunted ‘70s-era farmhouse, you’re still not satisfied. You want more, and not just the junk that Tinseltown thinks is frightening (like sudden shocks in front of a surveillance camera).

Tagged as: horror films
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Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014
Gunfight at Red Sands is the best Spaghetti Western I have seen that was made before Sergio Leone's genre defining Fistful of Dollars.

Featuring Ennio Morricone’s first western score, Gunfight at Red Sands (1963) is the best Spaghetti Western I have seen that was made before—and therefore not influenced by—Sergio Leone’s genre defining Fistfull of Dollars (1964). Much like its opening and closing song, “A Gringo Like Me,” which Morricone composed for the all-American folk singer Peter Tevis, the film works within the boring boundaries established by early American westerns while embracing the creative conventions developed by Spaghetti Westerns. 

Here are some examples of how Gunfight at Red Sands manages to walk what is essentially a barbed-wire fence separating the two western sub-genres: there’s the predictable American do-gooder of a lead in Gringo (Richard Harrison), but there’s also the emotionally complex and morally conflicted Mexican mistress in Maria (Mikaela); it’s set in the typical Hollywood Wild West town populated by a bunch of on-looking innocents, but the town is bordering Mexico and has the colorless backdrop of the spanish Almeria desert; the entertaining fistfights are straight-out of the excessively choreographed early American westerns, but the final showdown has the tension that became the garlic bread of Spaghetti Westerns and it consequently provides a satisfying, sauce-soaking conclusion.

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