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Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011
There are several reasons why David Lynch's third film is a masterpiece. Here are merely 10 of them.

Eraserhead got him noticed. The Elephant Man proved he could transfer his unusual muse to a more mainstream ideal. Indeed, for the first few years of his fledgling career, things were looking up for David Lynch. Then Dune came along and crushed whatever commercial credibility he had. Even critical acclaim and Oscar nominations couldn’t put aside the stigma of being yet another member of the failed blockbuster club. Desperate to again redefine himself and his work, Lynch shopped a script around centering on a mystery, a young man, and the ugly underneath the seemingly tranquil facade of small town America. Entitled Blue Velvet, many were turned off by its overt violence and seedy sexual content. Lynch never gave up, finally finding financing to bring his unencumbered vision to life.

Divisive at the time (Siskel loved it, while Ebert called it an abomination), it has come to be regarded as Lynch’s first legitimate masterpiece, a work of wild imagination and even greater professional skill. From the opening music that mimicked Hitchcock to an ending which offered both finality and a fairytale, it would become the benchmark by which all other efforts in the auteur’s oeuvre would be gauged. Currently getting the glorified HD treatment thanks to Blu-ray, one can re-experience the magic and the menace of this amazing film all over again. Indeed, for those of us who are students of the experience, there are certain beats, individual moments and concepts that create the work of art Lynch intended.

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Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011
Think all movies supply safe, mainstream entertainment? Not this collection of 10 scandalous selections guaranteed to stir up trouble.

Sex, violence, and religion. What do these things have in common—and no, we aren’t using this hot button triptych as the basis for some punchline. In fact, it’s safe to say that anytime one of these concepts is used in a motion picture—subtlety or shockingly—eyebrows will be raised. Now imagine going overboard in the depiction of same, or skirting censorship and the possibility of blasphemy to make a critical comment on each (or all). At this point, you’re wandering into the realm of the sense(less), a place where freaks are curious, yellow and the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover are as thick and human centipede thieves. It’s the world of the shocker, the controversial work of art that envisions a crucifix in a beaker of urine or a skinless human body preserved and positioned as sculpture.

Ever since Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (soon to be known as Hedy Lamar) bared her naked breasts in the Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy, the artform known as film has been dealing with the creative desire to push envelopes and broach taboos. Sometimes, it’s shock for shock’s sake (as in the eyeball slice from Un Chien Andalou). In other instances, the meaning is so unfathomable that even the most daring audience member leaves their scratching their head (as in E. Elias Merhige’s surreal Begotten). From the Mondo movies to the various examples of gore (Bloodsucking Freaks) and gratuity (do we really need a 10-minute rape scene, Irreversible?), cinema seems to thrive on a good PR problem.

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Monday, Oct 31, 2011
Sick of the same old scarefests? Here's a list of ten alternative fright films that may satisfy your hurried Halloween needs.

It’s 31 October - only a few more hours of marketing mandated terror to go. With cable channels and the Internet working overtime telling you what’s fright and what’s wrong, it seems like every angle of All Hallow’s Eve is covered…except, like any regulated holiday, the same of scares seem to be offered up. After all, how many times can you watch The Exorcist or The Evil Dead? Is there an expiration date on Halloween and its far too many sequels, or the various fleeting subgenres such as torture porn and J-horror? Indeed, if this particular celebration is all about delivering the shivers, how can something so well known provide said dread?

Luckily, Short Ends and Leader is here to help. Going back over the last few decades, we’ve come up with ten alternative movie macabres that you just might enjoy a bit more than an umpteenth viewing of Friday the 13th. We’ve attempted to address both the outsider and the independent, the ‘may be familiar’ and the foreign. Some of these titles may already be in your collection. What’s equally obvious is that all of them should. So instead of busting out your Nightmare on Elm Street box set or the various American updates of Asia betters, why not give one of these offerings a try. Perhaps they’ll become the makings of a new terror tradition in your fear factors.

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Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011
Sequels/Prequels are nothing new in the horror genre, and everyone knows that the majority are less than stellar. Here's a list of some of the most embarrassing entries into our beloved genre.

Can we all just agree that The Exorcist II: The Heretic is the worst horror movie sequel ever put to film? It’s no surprise that it’s universally loathed for its absurdity and fantastical elements that fly in the face of the sheer brilliance of the original, and as a result ends up in at least the top five of any list which counts down the worst horror movie sequels. I personally don’t hate the film as much as so many others do; I think the director was ambitious and tried to tell a different kind of story. However, I will concede that it is an awful film and is as bad as the original is good. Now that we agree on that, we can turn to 10 otherawful horror sequels that are not The Exorcist II.

As the seminal sequel film Scream 2 describes: “Who would want [to make a sequel]? Sequels suck!” The beloved Randy continues to argue that the horror genre was destroyed by the sequel, and although some sequels are welcome additions to a series franchise, or do their best to continue to build on an interesting premise set up by the first, it is very common to see sequels or prequels attempt to capture the magic of the original, only to fall short.  With the release of Paranormal Activity 3 (doing surprisingly well and pleasing critics the world over) and The Thing (a remake thinly disguised as a prequel), it would do us well to take a trip down memory lane highlighting those sequels we looked forward to, and then immediately wished we never watched.

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Tuesday, Oct 18, 2011
Halloween is fast approaching. Here are our Top 10 Picks for fright films guaranteed to disturb your sleep and shiver your spine.

In an arena as thoroughly subjective as the scary movie, how does one even begin to come up with a list of the artform’s very best? In the hierarchy of horror, things change so rapidly (and frequently) that, at any given moment, one category of creepy such as the Devil films of the ‘70s will give way to an entirely new fear fad like the slasher films of the ‘80s. This means that, as the genre shifts, trends taper off and subcategories flourish, one man’s terror quickly becomes one filmmaker’s trash. It’s the same with opinions on what is and is not petrifying. Dread is indeed a personal propensity, difficult to discuss in terms of absolutes and universals. Yet whenever fans get together and share their experiences with the cinema they love the most, conversations typically turn toward the defining films that began their affair with fear in the first place. Though they may not always agree, it is clear that there are certain films that stand out amongst the throng, that argue for their place as not only good grue, but expert cinema as well.

Again, there are certain caveats to this non-definitive Decalogue that should keep the obsessed and the angry in check, hopefully avoiding most call-outs and complaints to a minimum. Several sensational films from the myriad that many would consider crucial just missed the cut. They include current offerings like Shaun of the Dead and Hostel, as well as deserving efforts from decades past like The Howling, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness, and Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead. In addition, classics from the Golden Age—films featuring the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman—were also discounted, given their already important place in the overall history of horror. Some will still argue that favorite films are missing or seated too far down the roll. They will dismiss any compendium that does not contain their own idea of fear. While no one claims its 100% authoritative, one thing is for sure, all 10 titles here will shiver you down to the very marrow in your bones, beginning with a truly movie bit of macabre…

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