FILM :: DAVID CRONENBERG :: HORROR MASTER :: POSTERS + HAIKUS

David Cronenberg… A master standing at the nexus of the psychological, the sexual, the surreal and the body. His films are nothing short of controversial. Their success lies in that. It is the vivid, pulsating and often uncomfy issues that come out of that nexus that make even the most unhinged films of his oeuvre truly memorable.

This is part of a new series I’ll be posting to TSFP in tribute to masters of the horror film genre. For each post, I will feature a set of posters that master’s work inspired me to create and share reviews of the corresponding films. These reviews will be a bit different than my usual, however. Rather than the full-depth explorations I am prone to, these will be in the form of haikus. Though I can’t promise that they will reach ANY level of artistic value, the idea is that successful art should inspire more art

For Mr. Cronenberg, I am featuring 5 films he directed and one he starred in. Enjoy!

Like the posters? You can find out how to get them at my poster site.

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SHIVERS

shivers_poster_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

Prototypical,
Paranoid Body Horror.
Primal Lust Means Death.

THE BROOD

thebrood_poster_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

Through “Psychoplasmics,”
Rage Creates Mutant Offspring.
Divorce Devastates.

SCANNERS

scanners_poster_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

Telekenetics –
Reading Minds, Exploding Heads.
Ironsides Steals Scenes.

VIDEODROME

videodrome_poster_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

Sex, Torture, Murder –
TV Throbs With Lurid Life.
The New World Order.

THE FLY

thefly_poster_full_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

It’s The Little Things.
Hubris Evolves, Destroys, Kills.
Horror With a Soul.

NIGHTBREED

nightbreed_poster_tsfp
THE REVIEW ::

Fantasy Horror –
Clive Barker’s Butchered Opus.
Dr. Decker Slays.

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FILM :: BEST OF HORROR SHORTS… “SUCKABLOOD”

filmshorts

Big ups to Ben Tillett for this week’s Horror Film Short at TSFP. This one has a wonderfully childlike quality and that makes it even more devilishly enjoyable as a horror short.

“Suckablood” serves as a sterling example of “how to make a dollar out of 50 cents,” creating something very fun and very skillful in its simplicity with limited resources and few players in the mix. Writing, casting, narration, cinematography, lighting are all on point here and give us a polished package.

Though “Suckablood” isn’t fright-filled for adults, it’s a ton of creepy, gothic fun just the same. Call the kids for this one.

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ART :: THE TOP 50 HORROR POSTERS OF ALL TIME… 10 >> 6

As you may be able to tell, I love great poster art, but especially posters from the great horror movie cannon. This is the fifth installment of my countdown of the best of the genre.

Here’s how I selected the list. I used three main criteria to shape my decisions ::

======

>> DESIGN / IMAGE — This is the baseline. As a designer by trade, I feel strongly that any great or effective poster HAS to start here. Is the poster effective as a piece of art? Is the poster is a strong representative of the art of graphic design? Did it capture a particular spirit or movement in design?

>> TITILLATION / PROMOTION — Though we tend to contextualize film and the associated collateral as “art,” it is ultimately a form of commerce. Any movie poster has to promote the film it supports either through a delicious tease or overt sales pitch. How effective is the poster at selling the film it is tied to?

>> IMPACT / LEGACY — Sometimes even mediocre films get truly great posters. Sometimes, we even remember the image of the poster far longer than the film itself. What was the lasting effect of the poster? Was it iconic or timeless in some way? Was a part of a larger context?

======

Every poster on this list is a cocktail of the above elements, mixed in different ways. All successful in their own right. Let’s jump in to 10 >> 6…

numbers10

themummy

1932

numbers09

american_werewolf_in_london_poster_

1981

numbers08

childrenofthedamned

1964

numbers07

i_saw_the_devil

2010

numbers06


chud

1984

Look for Part XI, coming right up!

Special thanks to http://www.impawards.com for many of the images in this countdown. AWESOME site.

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FILM :: REVIEW… NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979)

Another review from the world of dark cinema.

With each review, I am also sharing minimalist movie posters I have created for every film after watching it. Like the poster? You can find it at my collected poster site.

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FILM :: NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE
YEAR :: 1979
DIRECTOR :: Werner Herzog

nosferatu_strangefar

In “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” Werner Herzog has given us a gift.

At turns funny, creepy, uncomfy, winsome, campy and lonely, but always beautiful in execution, the film brings us far more than a remake of F.W. Murnau’s seminal 1922 classic. True, there are shots that totally faithfully recreate the genius of the original in tribute to what Herzog has called the finest German film ever made, but it is the quirky emotional soul of this film that makes it so fresh.

Herzog starts with his story. Though he is clearly drawing very heavily from Stoker and Murnau here, he also brings his own masterful additions and touches to the story. This scene, not present in either original story is a wonderful example.


As stunning as it is arresting… and memorable.

That story acts as the bedrock on which the actors build their a-list performances for “Nosferatu.”

The ever-troubled-and-mesmeric Klaus Kinski heads the cast in the role of Count Dracula, giving the film its most hilarious and creepy scenes and acting as the forsaken, isolated soul at the center of the production. This is as good as it gets with a modern vampire performance. I can NOT thank Herzog and Kinski ENOUGH for eschewing the contemporary trend towards sexy or dashing vampire images, started in 1931 with Lugosi. Kinski’s Dracula is a repulsive, manipulative, lonely little creature, living as a parasite and it gives the film a vastly different feel for the better.

The rest of the cast is wonderful as well.

Isabelle Adjani’s performance as Lucy captures so much silent film spirit that is is a joy. Her eyes are worth the price of admission alone! Just look at them here ::

IsabelleAdjaniNosferatu10

Bruno Ganz also gives us a really fun turn as Jonathan, both as the pining lover and the newly minted vampire.

Also worth a mention is the nutty Roland Topor as a comedic Renfield. Hilarious and zany.

The other thing to mention here is the GORGEOUS cinematography. The land and the city becomes another cast member in “Nosferatu” through Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein’s shots. Filmed in the rugged Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, a weathered Czech castle and the picturesque Netherlands, the film is simply beautiful.

I do have to say in closing that this film is not for everyone. Fans of the debonair vampire myth, the lover with fangs, will likely not get this. For me, that’s just fine. I’ll take my Dracula with extra creeps, please.

strangelogoforblog_4andahalf_stars
RATING ………………. 4.5 STARS

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FILM :: REVIEW… IT FOLLOWS (2015)

I have been looking for a reason to come back to “The Strange, Far Places.” I missed it. A bit like an old friend that I haven’t seen in months. Life has simply been so very busy, work has been tyrannical and I’m embarrassed to say that inspiration has been hard to come by.

That changed this weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lakeline here in Austin, Texas.

I return inspired with another review from the world of dark cinema.

With each review, I am also sharing minimalist movie posters I have created for every film after watching it. ( More on my film poster project at large, here.  ANNNND… I’ve also launched a fun NEW FILM POSTER PROJECT here. )

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FILM :: IT FOLLOWS
YEAR :: 2015
DIRECTOR :: David Robert Mitchell

itfollows_horror

What was the source of my rediscovered inspiration, you ask?

I was stirred back to action by an exciting new film that is rightfully becoming the darling of the American horror scene. Of course, I’m talking about the indie masterwork “It Follows.”

Masterwork? For a sophomore effort from a relatively young writer / director / DP team? Yep. It’s high praise AND it’s totally deserved.

The name of the game with “It Follows” is transcendence, the preternatural quality that allows great work to become something far greater.

It starts with concept. Though it’s a simple one… A sexually-transmitted haunting curse… It is its ties to the greater restlessness of adolescence that make this concept far broader and greater.

The plot of “It Follows” swims in the waters of the thirsty longing of need, the deep waters of the sleepy-eyed and eternal pull to the bloom of sexuality slashed by the resulting loss of innocence and the march toward adulthood and ultimately, death. The looming figure of death chases us all, relentlessly pursuing Man with a singularity of purpose, no matter how much we all try to screw it away. We defy death with the electric flowering of our acts of procreation, but can only temporarily slow its steady, morbid advance. It’s always there.

That’s all a part of the central theme of “It Follows” and it’s heady stuff for what could be called a teen horror film. The whole thing could consequently fall into a messy polemic were it not for the sure hand of storyteller / writer / director David Robert Mitchell who imbues the proceedings with just enough mystery to keep us both riveted and questioning in turns.

Then, there’s style. Mitchell and cinematographer Mike Gioulakis have turned a modest $2M indie into a totally artful experience. That has its roots in the influence of greats.

We see John Carpenter and David Lynch here, no question. Many will see that. The masters’ tools are clearly in Mitchel and Gioulakis’ toolbox and they manifest themselves in awesome ways here through the slowly turning and thoroughly disquieting screw of great surreal storytelling.

A heavy visual influence on “It Follows” many may not pick up on is the artistic eye of artist and photographer Gregory Crewdson (at least in what I see). His mark was unmistakable to me and I, for one, was thrilled to see it. Throughout the film, the influence is pervasive, driving the dreamlike tableaus of light and quietly suggested deeper levels of meaning we see, rendering even simple scenes both breathtakingly beautiful and uncomfortably claustrophobic at the same time.

Look at these images from Crewdson’s work.

FROM CREWDSON…

gregory-crewdson-untitled-series-beneath-the-roses-1390117621_org
Daughter_cover_2
crewd-2003-2005-untitled-maple-street-web

It’s impossible not to see that mark in scenes like this still taken from “It Follows.”

FROM “IT FOLLOWS” …

it-follows-car

Beautiful.

If the filmmakers don’t see that influence, tell a humble fan. But it certainly seems unmistakable to me.

There are several other predecessors we see here as well. From the sorrowful teen angst of “The Virgin Suicides” to the detached brutality of “Brick,” “It Follows” is in good company.

That’s not to say the film is derivative. It’s not. It just stands on the shoulders of these landmarks, only to reach to its own heights.

The score is next. Composer Rich Vreeland, AKA Disasterpeace, has created something that exerts an almost auteur-like influence on the mood of “It Follows.” It’s funny to see this soundtrack released at the same moment as John Carpenter’s quiet love letter to evocative minimalism, “Lost Themes.” The two records, when listened back-to-back, almost act as a double album, with Vreeland again clearly building on the incredible work of Carpenter (or soundtrack greats Goblin in a big way as well) while reaching to new territory on his own. This soundtrack instantly finds a place along side those masters in the great horror music canon. I bought it immediately and have been enjoying the heck out of it.

“It Follows” is also quite well cast. Top to bottom, everyone is well-suited for their roles. Lead Maika Monroe heads the cast with a performance that is both awash in a beautiful, simple, naive sexuality as well as a resigned and disaffected dispassion, underscoring the themes of youth, adulthood and death at the core of the film. Keir Gilchrist is her steadfast partner in driving those themes home through his desperately-in-love turn as the youthful Paul. The remaining supporting cast plays out aspects of those themes pitch-perfectly.

In all, “It Follows” is a haunting exploration of the role that sex and relationships play in the doorway between the bravado of youth and the adult onslaught of death. It is a striking and thought-provoking instant classic.

My poster above hits on something directly from the film, but also hints at the nature of the film as well. “It Follows” pushes past the basics of modern horror into it’s own space, building on the icons that came before it, but also putting a bullet in the head of the complacency of the genre we see so often today.

See. This. Film.

strangelogoforblog_5_stars

RATING ………………. 5 STARS

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FILM :: BEST OF HORROR SHORTS… “THE JUMP”

filmshorts

Hats off to Charles Huettner for this week’s Horror Film Short at TSFP. He created it as a part of the Late Night Work Club’s collection of shorts entitled “Ghost Stories.” All of the pieces in the collection could easily be featured here and I will be selecting some others as a part of this series, but Huettner’s “The Jump” is worth singling out in particular.

This gorgeous little animated piece captures everything I love about where animation has gone and is headed. Atmospheric, indie, stylistic and above all… INTERESTING, work like this is a hot poker in the eye of all of the hyper realistic CG monstrosities that so many studios are churching out. There’s a place for that too, but I think there is just so much artistic intent that shows through here. And that’s just the style of “The Jump.”

The story itself is quite elegant with very strong storytelling drawing us into it. This is how so many shorts used to be. I remember running to my local indie theatre, The Little in Rochester New York, in my formative years for now classic short animation festivals. So many were mysterious and intriguing from “the get” with a strong sense of “questioning” in the early seconds that pulls the viewer in. So often, that quality of discovery can be lost in technique or heavy handedness these days. Huettner doesn’t lose that focus here. “The Jump” is a wonderful little ghost story, wonderfully told.

I really have to give big ups on sound design here as well. The sound, in turns, reminded me of the masterwork “Akira” and even Miyazaki a bit.

In all, a tour de force, and I’m thrilled to share it.

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ART :: THE TOP 50 HORROR POSTERS OF ALL TIME… 15 >> 11

As you may be able to tell, I love great poster art, but especially posters from the great horror movie cannon. This is the fifth installment of my countdown of the best of the genre.

Here’s how I selected the list. I used three main criteria to shape my decisions ::

======

>> DESIGN / IMAGE — This is the baseline. As a designer by trade, I feel strongly that any great or effective poster HAS to start here. Is the poster effective as a piece of art? Is the poster is a strong representative of the art of graphic design? Did it capture a particular spirit or movement in design?

>> TITILLATION / PROMOTION — Though we tend to contextualize film and the associated collateral as “art,” it is ultimately a form of commerce. Any movie poster has to promote the film it supports either through a delicious tease or overt sales pitch. How effective is the poster at selling the film it is tied to?

>> IMPACT / LEGACY — Sometimes even mediocre films get truly great posters. Sometimes, we even remember the image of the poster far longer than the film itself. What was the lasting effect of the poster? Was it iconic or timeless in some way? Was a part of a larger context?

======

Every poster on this list is a cocktail of the above elements, mixed in different ways. All successful in their own right. Let’s jump in to 15 >> 11…

numbers15

king_kong

1933

numbers14

werewolves_on_wheels

1971

numbers13

invasion_of_the_saucer_men

1957

numbers12

army_of_darkness

1992

numbers11

evil_dead
1981

Look for Part IX, coming right up!

Special thanks to http://www.impawards.com for many of the images in this countdown. AWESOME site.

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ME :: WINONA BOULEVARD… MIDNIGHT… 1989… “STILL LOVING YOU”

Winona Boulevard winds through a swath of the leafy Rochester, New York suburb of Irondequoit, the town where I grew up. Rolling past manicured lawns fronting family homes and kissing a public park, the street was one of my favorite places to go out for a run.

As a young man, I was a runner. Well, really, I still am. These days I just find myself far from the liquid freedom of movement of those halcyon days of youth. One thing that I haven’t lost over the years, however, is my love of a late-night jaunt in the ol’ running shoes.

I worked a summer job in high school as a Ride Operator (Read: Carny) at Seabreeze, a local amusement park. After the park closed, I often tried to hook up with friends for the night. Sometimes, it was just too late. On those nights, I slipped on the running shoes and headed out into the cool night along Winona.

Today, I heard a song that reminded me of an experience I had on one of those midnight runs.

Yes, the Scorpions classic, “Still Loving You.” I know that the song isn’t a horror staple in any way. Really it’s a song about attempting to reclaim a lost love. But it is unquestionably atmospheric and proved a haunting companion for this experience.

A hot summer day had given way to a cool night, raising a foggy mist in the air. A mid-August full moon cast a glow over the landscape, bringing out a surreal chiaroscuro in the darkness.

As I rounded the blind corner at Chapel Hill Drive, the haunting opening guitar strains of “Still Loving You” surged through my headphones.

What I saw next can only be described as true kismet.

exorcist_post
In a bizarre almost-recreation of the iconic poster from “The Exorcist,” I came upon the stone keep of All Saints Anglican Church with one of the clergy lit in the darkness by a single old-style lamp, standing in mist, looking up at the rock steeple.

I found a real picture of the church. I have done a little light Photoshop magic to merely hint at the scene here.

stilllovingyou

I felt transported. It was like standing in that legendary scene from the film, watching Father Merrin pausing at the work before him before entering the terrifying MacNeil household. An icy chill poured down my spine.

I stood silent to leave the scene interrupted. Minutes passed and eventually the tableau was broken when the clergyman left.

I haven’t forgotten that experience and every time I hear that song, I think of the night I was visited by Father Merrin.

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ART :: THE TOP 50 HORROR POSTERS OF ALL TIME… 20 >> 16

As you may be able to tell, I love great poster art, but especially posters from the great horror movie cannon. This is the fifth installment of my countdown of the best of the genre.

Here’s how I selected the list. I used three main criteria to shape my decisions ::

======

>> DESIGN / IMAGE — This is the baseline. As a designer by trade, I feel strongly that any great or effective poster HAS to start here. Is the poster effective as a piece of art? Is the poster is a strong representative of the art of graphic design? Did it capture a particular spirit or movement in design?

>> TITILLATION / PROMOTION — Though we tend to contextualize film and the associated collateral as “art,” it is ultimately a form of commerce. Any movie poster has to promote the film it supports either through a delicious tease or overt sales pitch. How effective is the poster at selling the film it is tied to?

>> IMPACT / LEGACY — Sometimes even mediocre films get truly great posters. Sometimes, we even remember the image of the poster far longer than the film itself. What was the lasting effect of the poster? Was it iconic or timeless in some way? Was a part of a larger context?

======

Every poster on this list is a cocktail of the above elements, mixed in different ways. All successful in their own right. Let’s jump in to 20 >> 16…

numbers20

hills2

2007

numbers19

thething

1982

numbers18

jaws

1975

numbers17

halloween

1978

numbers16

andy_warhols_frankenstein

1973

Look for Part VIII, coming right up!

Special thanks to http://www.impawards.com for many of the images in this countdown. AWESOME site.

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ART :: MANILLA… CALAVERA OF THE WEEK

manilla

Welcome to the latest in an ongoing tribute to the art of the calavera. We have been focusing on the master of the form, José Posada. As I say each week… His rapier visual wit and penchant for the visual metaphor of the human bone remain stunningly fresh today. He was, at one time, just an apprentice, though. To whom? The master to the student in Posada… Manuel Alfonso Manilla . Let’s pay tribute this week to one of Manilla’s proto-calavera works. Stunning.

manilla1

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ME :: 100 POSTS AT “THE STRANGE, FAR PLACES”

My last post was the 100th post here at “The Strange, Far Places.”

100_posts

I know that’s a minor milestone to many and frankly, I had envisioned the blog at this landmark far sooner than today. However, life has taken me to some crazy and (sometimes) very difficult places since the inception of this blog, my love of the world of horror made manifest. In light of that, I suppose that even these 100 posts are worth celebrating in some small way and dammit, I’m going to.

AND NOW… Back to your regularly scheduled shivers…

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ART :: THE TOP 50 HORROR POSTERS OF ALL TIME… 25 >> 21

As you may be able to tell, I love great poster art, but especially posters from the great horror movie cannon. This is the fifth installment of my countdown of the best of the genre.

Here’s how I selected the list. I used three main criteria to shape my decisions ::

======

>> DESIGN / IMAGE — This is the baseline. As a designer by trade, I feel strongly that any great or effective poster HAS to start here. Is the poster effective as a piece of art? Is the poster is a strong representative of the art of graphic design? Did it capture a particular spirit or movement in design?

>> TITILLATION / PROMOTION — Though we tend to contextualize film and the associated collateral as “art,” it is ultimately a form of commerce. Any movie poster has to promote the film it supports either through a delicious tease or overt sales pitch. How effective is the poster at selling the film it is tied to?

>> IMPACT / LEGACY — Sometimes even mediocre films get truly great posters. Sometimes, we even remember the image of the poster far longer than the film itself. What was the lasting effect of the poster? Was it iconic or timeless in some way? Was a part of a larger context?

======

Every poster on this list is a cocktail of the above elements, mixed in different ways. All successful in their own right. Let’s jump in to 25 >> 21…

numbers25

dear_god_no

2011

numbers24

house

1986

numbers23

piranha

1978

numbers22

friday_the_13th

1980

numbers21

nightmare_on_elm_street

1984

Look for Part VII, coming right up!

Special thanks to http://www.impawards.com for many of the images in this countdown. AWESOME site.

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FILM :: BEST OF HORROR SHORTS… “DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL?”

filmshorts

This week, we’re bringing you a story of the proverbial “deal with the devil.” Going all the way back to classics like 1913’s “The Student of Prague,” FW Murnau’s GORGEOUS 1926 masterpiece, “Faust,” or 1941’s legendary “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” we have certainly seen that theme plumbed on film a whole lot. However, this short gives us a slightly different take and it really brings the film to life.

We’re sticking right here in the US of A for this installment entitled “Do You Believe in the Devil?” Filmmaker Alex Grybauskas effectively draws us into the film through classic storytelling devices and solid editing. There really isn’t a lot of fat here in just the right way. Just good ol’ fashioned narrative. When we are served the twist at the end of the film, it definitely brings a smile because he has quite skillfully brought us here.

Also, special props for the lighting in this piece… It’s quite well lit throughout.

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ART :: RIP H.R. GIGER

We lost a very unique talent recently in both the worlds of art and horror and I wanted to make sure that he was memorialized here at “The Strange, Far Places.”

H.R. Giger, Swiss master of the nightmarishly surreal has left this mortal coil.

giger_RIP

To say that Giger’s work is unforgettable is an understatement. That’s no small feat for an artist in today’s over-exposed, disaffected, shellshocked cultural eyes, to be truly unique and imminently recognizable. Giger’s vision has always been at that edge.

Few artists can say that their style was so unique that they all-but invented a concept in the way that Giger did with “biomechanics.” This unparalleled style came directly from a nightmare he experienced while at school. In the dream, the walls of a Zürich bathroom erupted into a landscape of ravaged skin with demons (who he called “biomechanoids”) leering at him through the cracks in the walls. The artist had been plagued with night terrors since his youth and his art helped him deal with the dark nights.

His work for films from “Alien” to “Dune” to “Species” to “Prometheus” earned him an Oscar and seared his dark visions in the public mind. His album covers, posters, sculptures and interiors were legendary. But it was compendiums like his books of the dead, “Necronomicon” and “Necronomicon II,” that were perhaps his crowning glory, standing alone even today in the scope, strength and the madness of their fevered tactile expression. Many may want to pillory me, but these works form a sort of damnable version of Matisse’s masterwork “Jazz” for me, the dim hell to that colorful heaven. Brilliant.

I recently posted about one of his most iconic designs here.

What better way to pay tribute to Mr. Giger’s work than to show it? The video below takes many of his most interesting works into the 3-D space. Very interesting project (WARNING — NSFW) ::


Hans Rudolf, may you finally find peace from your nightmares. Godspeed.

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