For several months FX has been offering unsettling little teases about their new series The Strain. Adapted from the first novel in a series written by collaborators Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, it was originally planned as a story for television. When Del Toro couldn’t find buyers, he took the literary route, eventually leading us to what might just be the future in TV horror. (more…)
Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our eighth entry is John Carpenter’s final masterwork, In the Mouth of Madness (1994)…
“Do you read Sutter Cane?”
The 90s were a woeful decade for many a 70s horror filmmaker. Wes Craven may have changed the slasher game forever with his self-reflexive Scream series, but hasn’t made a picture worthy of his (truthfully already spotty) legacy since (unless you count the aughts’ My Soul to Keep – a film so inept it almost feels like an avant garde experiment). Dario Argento’s 90s output ranges from decent (Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome) to unwatchable (The Phantom of the Opera). Meanwhile, George A. Romero’s sole solo directorial credit (The Dark Half) is definitely one of the more entertaining Stephen King adaptations, but that’s using both dreck like The Tommyknockers and Golden Years as well as Kubrick’s The Shining or Rob Reiner’s Misery as ends of the qualitative spectrum (meaning Romero’s movie is still hanging somewhere around Pet Sematary). Outside of Joe Dante*, whose feature track record went completely unblemished with Gremlins 2, Matinee and Small Soldiers, the decade was somewhat of a nightmare for those who found their start in the gritty 70s, resulting in many horror fans closing the book on what’s viewed by some as the genre’s most auteur-driven period.
Which brings us to John Carpenter, a filmmaker whose ten year run (from 1978’s Halloween all the way up to They Live in 1988) could be considered one of the most impressive in the history of ALL cinema. Carpenter fizzled out in 1992, with the Chevy Chase-starring Memoirs of an Invisible Man marking the end of his marvelous winning streak. His anthology picture, Body Bags, was originally supposed to be a full series on Showtime (comprable to HBO’s Tales From the Crypt), until network executives suffered from cold feet and turned it into a one-off (admittedly mediocre) cable TV movie. It wouldn’t be until 1994 that Carpenter finally brushed the dust off his shoulder and produced what seemed to be, at the time, a comeback of sorts with In the Mouth of Madness, a film that could be viewed as the last true Carpenter masterpiece, as well as the beginning of the widescreen artist’s oft-decried “late period”. (more…)
The third movie in the Expendables series comes out at the end of summer, and, as with the previous two entries, it’s expected to be a tremendous success. We’ve already heard about the potential for at least one spin-off film in The Expendables style, the female-centric Expendabelles, which will feature a cast of kick-ass ladies from franchises across the big screen. This where Bruce Campbell comes in. The Evil Dead icon once discussed the idea of a Horror icon-version of The Expendables that would feature, among others, Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees Kane Hodder, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger Robert Englund, and, of course, The Chin himself, Bruce Campbell. (more…)
Horror remakes aren’t new new by any means. Between Screen Gems’ beat-for-beat “reboots” and Platinum Dunes’ gritty “re-imaginings”, the past ten years have seen nearly every marquee title and horror icon reinvented by modern producers and directors. Getting in on the decade old fad is WWE Studios, who have cast their tiniest superstar*, Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, as the titular keeper of Lucky Charms in Leprechaun: Origins. (more…)
Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our sixth entry is Antonia Bird’s underrated cannibal Western, Ravenous (1999)…
Ravenous is an extremely potent horror picture.
Yet to only view the film through the narrow prism of a single genre ignores what truly makes it special. Like Alex Cox before her, Antonia Bird has cobbled together a singular Western whose deepest roots reach back to its “spaghetti” precursors from Spain and Italy in the 1960s and 70s. It’s an amalgamation of particular influence; pulling from deep cut directors like Joaquin Romero Marchent while also tipping its Calvary cap toward Sergio Corbucci. So while the viscera may remain in the cave of the viewer’s mind much more vividly than the vistas, Bird has undoubtedly crafted an examination of manifest destiny that ranks with Major Dundee and Heaven’s Gate as a touchstone of widescreen Western filmmaking. (more…)
Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our fourth entry is the ultimate “revenge of the nerd” film, Evilspeak (1981)…
There was no shortage of vengeful nerds in 1980s horror cinema. Movies like Vernon Zimmerman’s Fade to Black, Frank LaLoggia’s Fear No Evil, and Robert Englund’s 976-Evil provided picked-on geeks with characters they could identify with, while also simultaneously indulging in the revenge fantasies they probably harbored in the darkest regions of their soul. In a post-Columbine world, these movies are somewhat of a rarity, as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris showed us all how ugly the vengeance of those oppressed and bullied by the jocks and the prom queens could be when it wasn’t limited to innocuous fantasy.
But before their horrifying rampage (not to mention the epidemic of terrifying school shootings that arrived in the wake of Littleton), horror films were unafraid to be completely un-PC, allowing their often sniveling-yet-sympathetic leads to lay waste to those who caused them to live in fear every day. And none were as gleefully bonkers as Eric Weston’s Evilspeak, a somewhat inept yet totally entertaining film that helped birth the cinematic career of one of the ultimate avatars for persecuted nebbishes, Clint Howard.
For the longest time, it seemed like the big screen adaptation of The Stand was never going to happen (along with the sprawling Ron Howard/Akiva Goldsman version of The Dark Tower and Cary Fukunaga’s re-telling of It*). First, Ben Affleck was attached to direct a two-part saga, but has since left to be Batman and direct Denny Lehane ditties (the latter of which he just dropped off of as well). Then came Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace helmer Scott Cooper, whose presence made me think that Warner Bros. was going to bring a serious, adult-minded approach to the massive, post-apocalyptic tale. Unfortunately, he left as well, causing me to wonder if the project was out-and-out cursed.
Now comes Josh Boone, an unknown entity who has two YA adaptations (of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns) slated to come out later this year. And it seems like this choice is finally going to stick, as the first role has been cast, signaling that this version of The Stand might actually be real this time.
Look at that headline. That’s writing right there, folks.
Since it doesn’t seem like we’re going to get that proposed Hellraiser reboot anytime soon (not to mention the Scarlet Gospels Clive Barker’s been teasing for years), fans of the series thankfully have a new documentary to look forward to. Titled Leviathan (which I totally love), the film chronicles the conception of both Hellraiser and Hellbound, promising us an in-depth look at Barker’s famed S&M obsessed demons.
Fair warning — Bill Lustig is a personal hero.
The work Lustig has done in the arena of film preservation and presentation with his company Blue Underground (whose output has sadly slowed down to a halt recently) is top tier stuff, bringing us amazing exploitation gems that would otherwise be lost forever. It also helps that he’s made a slew of bonafide classics (fuck that condescending “cult classic” bullshit) such as Vigilante, Maniac, Relentless and, of course, the Maniac Cop films. I got to meet the big man from 42nd Street a few years back (at a 35mm screening of Maniac, after which he gave one of the best Q&As I’ve ever witnessed) and was literally shaking with excitement to get my Vigilante blu-ray signed — to the point that wife actually had to do the talking for me because I was so nervous. That’s just who I am. If Tom Hanks were to start talking to me, I’d play it completely cool. But Bill Lustig? That man’s a goddamn knee-clack-inducing legend.
All of this is a long-winded intro to the news that Maniac Cop (yes, the Larry Cohen/Robert Z’Dar collabo.) is being remade. Now, most people would be mad that one of their heroes’ best films is being redone for a new audience. But when you tell me that Lustig himself is producing, along with modern exploitation auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives, Valhalla Rising), my eyes light up like stars. Now they’ve added none other than Ed Brubaker (Captain America: the Winter Solider) to script the redux, and I am literally counting the days until I can watch it.