ART :: ROGER CORMAN AND EDGAR ALLAN POE… PART I

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Roger Corman, the living hollywood legend, in 2011 in a unique live opportunity as a part of “Vincentennial,” a month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Price here in St. Louis. The Corman event I attended was part of a two-night event at the Hi-Pointe, a local art house theatre with real history. I attended a screening of “Masque of the Red Death” and Corman followed the film with live musings about his career at large with some specific focus on his genre films. His long-running relationship with Vincent Price and his reputation as a Hollywood maverick / icon brought him to the celebration as a featured speaker.

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It was really an amazing experience. Corman himself is the person that we all wish Hollywood was filled with — honest, talented, fun, hip and real with true talent. His stories were fascinating.

As someone who has directed over 55 films and produced more than 385, Corman’s influence is unmistakable. Many of today’s legendary directors got their start working for Corman, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Armondo Linus Acosta, Paul Bartel, Jonathan Demme, Donald G. Jackson, Gale Anne Hurd, Carl Colpaert, Joe Dante, James Cameron, John Sayles, Monte Hellman, George Armitage, Jonathan Kaplan, George Hickenlooper, Curtis Hanson, Jack Hill, Robert Towne, Michael Venzor and Timur Bekmambetov. So many legendary actors that we consider masters today got their break in Corman projects including Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Michael McDonald, Dennis Hopper, Talia Shire, Sandra Bullock, and Robert De Niro.

Most importantly for this site, he has helped make many of the horror films we most associate with the cult side of the genre. “Monster from the Ocean Floor,” “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “The Undead,” “The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent,” “A Bucket of Blood,” “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “Tower of London,” “X,” “Dementia 13,” “The Dunwich Horror,”  “Death Race 2000,” “Piranha,” “Galaxy of Terror” and “Frankenstein Unbound” are just a few of the cult classics Corman helped to make.

As a tribute to Mr. Corman and all he has done for both lovers of film and lovers of horror, I am creating a series of new posters dedicated to the eight emblematic films of the “Poe Cycle.” For Part I, I have created the posters for the first two films in the series,  “House of Usher” (1960), “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961). Keep watching for the remaining 6 posters.

Mr. Corman, on the VERY off-chance that you see this, THANK YOU for all you have done for film and horror-lovers everywhere.

The Posters — I and II ::

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ART :: HELP A BROTHER OUT… PLEASE VOTE FOR ME ON THREADLESS!

Building on today’s post about horror films ready to drop yet this year… I wanted to reach out with a request here at “The Strange, Far Places.”

I would be VERY grateful if you would vote for my submission to the Threadless “You’re Next” t-shirt design competition.

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Here’s what Threadless says about this design challenge ::

Revered as one of the sharpest and most horrifying films in years, You’re Next reimagines the home invasion horror genre in a fresh, twisted light. When the Davison clan retreats to a remote vacation home in the woods, their family reunion takes a grisly turn. A team of ax-wielding, animal-masked psychopaths begins hunting down family members one by one, and the body count quickly rises until an unexpected houseguest fights back.

We’re stoked for this sure-to-be stellar summer slasher flick, described by reviewers as a mashup of Scream, Die Hard, and Home Alone. And we want you to take inspiration from its chilling creatures for your next design.

We challenge you to make a killer tee inspired by masked maniacs. Pull from the delightfully dark animal imagery of the masked mugs below, or imagine a dysfunctional family get-together gone gruesome. We encourage you to use imagery from the film, but we’ll also welcome any macabre masked madmen. Just steer clear of established baddies like Jason or Michael Myers.

Here are my thoughts on my design from the entry page ::

What makes “You’re Next” so cool to me is that it turns the home invasion slasher genre on its head. I love the creative twist there and that’s what I wanted this design to explore. I’m also a freak for depth of field and the interplay of positive and negative space. I think it makes for a really iconic and striking look.

Annnnd… here is the design ::

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THANK YOU!

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FILM :: 3 HORROR FILMS TO WATCH FOR YET IN 2013

2013 has actually been a really interesting year for horror films. The genre is on a great trajectory.

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Here are three films yet to drop in 2013 that show a ton of promise.

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01

“YOU’RE NEXT”

RELEASE :: August 23, 2013

LIONSGATE SAYS :: “One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, YOU’RE NEXT reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror. When a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped…until an unlikely guest of the family proves to be the most talented killer of all.”

MY TAKE :: For me, this is easily the genre film I am most looking forward to this year. I think it gives us so much to love — creativity, pulse-pounding carnage, Adam Wingard at the helm (“Home Sick,” “VHS,” “VHS2” and “Pop Skull”) and some really beautiful cinematography by up-and-coming new talent Andrew Droz Palermo.

The best two things to happen to the horror genre in the past 10 years are real style and true creativity. It existed in the genre, but a select few were doing it right. Filmmakers like these gents are bringing that to the forefront. Wingard’s creativity has been recognized with his previous releases. It makes a difference because as viewers exposed to a wider range of content than ever before, we’re very ready to watch really different stories told in interesting ways. From a style standpoint, take a peek at the shots in this music video shot by Palermo ::

Apart from their definite style, there’s a wonderful intimacy in the shots. That is so perfect for a horror project like this as it draws us in that much more. It creates those subtle emotional connections that make the best horror films work so well (think “Rosemary’s Baby”).

Watch for this one, all!

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02

“HORNS”

RELEASE :: October 11, 2013


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(Thanks to EW for the pic!)

MANDALAY PICTURES SAYS :: “A love story driven by horror, mystery and vengeance, follows edgy twenty-six-year-old Ig Perrish who awakens from a night of hard drinking to find devil horns sprouting from his own head. As the horns grow, Ig realizes that they enable him to hear the inner thoughts and darkest temptations of those around him — a nifty tool in solving and avenging his late girlfriend’s murder.”

MY TAKE :: Daniel Radcliffe continues to redefine his career after “Harry.” This may move him the furthest. With a cult-like following for the source material from Joe Hill (Stephen King’s Son), and Alexandre Aja directing (“Piranha” and High Tension”) this has a ton of potential to be really fun.

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03

“CARRIE”

RELEASE :: October 18, 2013

SONY PICTURES SAYS :: “A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz), a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore), who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, Carrie is directed by Kimberly Peirce with a screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.”

MY TAKE :: Normally, this sort of project makes me want to run away screaming. Remember 2002’s “Rollerball?”… SACRILIGE! Major ugh! And there is absolutely NO question that the original was a true crossover classic. Spacek and Laurie were just amazing, creating truly memorable characters out of the Stephen King book. HOWEVER, a lot of very interesting choices have been made for this version. Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are two of those great choices. Annnd, an interesting selection on direction for the project… Kimberly Pierce of “Boys Don’t Cry” fame. This has the promise of capturing some of that emotional resonance that we feel with the original and that’s really the point.

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FILM :: REVIEW… DAHMER (2002)

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. )

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FILM :: DAHMER
YEAR :: 2002
DIRECTOR :: David Jacobson

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The real-life terrors of Jeffrey Dahmer’s bizarre, cannibalistic psycho-sexual murders are almost too horrific to comprehend. We have all heard so much about the gore involved in the case that it would be tempting to go “Hostel” with a film like this.

Director David Jacobson makes a different choice. He eschews the “severed head in the icebox” styled tale for something more psychological. It makes the film more of a mood piece in an interesting way. We see Dahmer working up to his first kill, intercut with encounters with specific victims. The non-linear storytelling adds interest while the intimacy in the encounters, juxtaposed with Dahmer’s psychopathic detachment brings tension and drama.

The real star of the show here is Jeremy Renner in the title role. His Dahmer provides some real creeps through subtlety and nuance. VERY well acted. No caricature here, just true acting talent portraying the terrible manipulations of the psychotic mind. It’s a tough role to embody, but Renner does so with realism and pathology. Artel Great and Dion Basco play a duo of the killer’s intended victims with real emotion and empathy. The rest of the cast is quite solid as well.

The beef I have is that the film stops a bit short. Though I applaud Jacobson’s desire to create something that focused on more than the gore in this story, it does leave the viewer feeling a little unfulfilled. The film would have benefitted from a GLIMPSE, just a glimpse, of how far Dahmer went eventually when his psychotic fantasies became reality.

In all, a very well-acted psycho drama about one of the darkest real-life examples of a human predator with very solid cinematography. For those interested in serial killers or true crime psychodrama, this is definitely something to catch. Renner fans should NOT miss this one, either.

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RATING ………………. 3.5 STARS

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MUSIC :: A HORROR FAN’S RUNNING PLAYLIST — PART III — THE CLASSICS

This is the third installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this edition, it’s about the classics. I’m returning the the days of my youth and three songs that pay homage to the monster classics that I cut my teeth on.

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On with the dark tuneage.  ::

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07

“Godzilla” — Blue Oyster Cult

As a youngster, I spent many Saturday afternoons in the darkened Riviera Theater on Lake Avenue in Rochester, NY watching monster matinees that featured everyone’s favorite Tokyo-destroying / defending nightmare Godzilla. I loved those afternoons. That’s just one of the reasons I love this song. BOC was at the height of their powers with this funky novelty piece; just an awesome tune. Maybe that’s why bands like Fu Manchu, The Smashing Pumpkins and Racer X have covered it. Imagine yourself running from the great Godzilla’s earth-shaking footfalls for an extra kick to the workout.

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08

“Frankenstein” — The Edgar Winter Group

This early 70’s jazz-influenced rocker is an awesome take on bringing Mary Shelley’s gothic monster to life and Edgar Winter himself looks like something out of a dark fantasy. From the album “The Only Come Out at Night.” Feel the electricity!

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09

“Werewolves of London” — Warren Zevon

10 years ago this month, we lost a true genius in the world of Rock and Roll with the passing of Warren Zevon. Though he battled his own demons and at times his songwriting suffered, when he was “on,” few could touch him (“Desperadoes Under the Eaves” is a simply FLAWLESS composition with some of the best lyrics ever written.) “Werewolves of London” is the song he is best known for and it’s no secret why. The undeniably catchy piano progression that the song is built around anchors a delightfully morbid tale that juxtaposes suave werewolves in everyday situations with their victims, mutilated and torn asunder. Annnnd… A mention of the great Lon Chaney of “London After Midnight” (plus countless others) and “The Wolf Man” himself, Lon Chaney Jr. Pure fun!

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Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s PART I.

Here’s PART II.

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FILM :: REVIEWS… THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE (1975)… BENEATH LOCH NESS (2002)… CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)… DARK SHADOWS (2012)

To follow up on my first film review post and this one: I’m taking these first three posts to catch up with reviews of what I have watched so far in 2013 from the world of horror. Whether older films through a more mature pair of eyes or new movies from the genre, I’ll be capturing it all here moving forward.

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. )

Here are four more I have watched in 2013 so far… This catches me up…

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FILM :: THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE
YEAR :: 1975
DIRECTOR :: Alfredo Rizzo

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Ummmm… Yeah… What can I say? This was bad. Like really bad. Simply awful writing, terrible dubs, wooden performances and thoroughly confusing plot all add up to one abominable film. Even a bevy of really gorgeous 70’s italian ingenues regularly au naturel in classic gothic settings throughout the movie can’t save this one. Films like this CAN be funny in how bad they are. There CAN be a charm to it. This film… Nope.

Want a taste? Just check out the trailer. It really gives a sense of the godawful experience this is.

WARNING… NSFW… 70s LESBIAN NUDITY!!!

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1685194521/

UGH! What a shambles.
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RATING ………………. 0.5 STARS

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FILM :: BENEATH LOCH NESS
YEAR :: 2002
DIRECTOR :: Chuck Comisky

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I am a lover of all things cryptozoological. I always have been, even since the days of my youth. I think it’s the possibility of finding real-life “monsters” in the world around us that intrigues. A sort of a repudiation of the rational and a belief in something greater.

Unfortunately, this film captures none of that.

When a member of a scientific / reality TV expedition to Loch Ness dies in a “mysterious” diving accident, the legendarily unorthodox and ruggedly good looking expedition leader Blay comes to  handle things personally. More odd happenings and strange attacks plague the Loch.  Can Blay and his team succeed against a highlands “locals only” mentality and their fears to solve the riddle of the Loch? Do we care?

Unfortunately not. Nothing MAKES us care, here.

I LOVE a good monster movie in the classic sense and especially one with a crypto bent, but this sucker is flat, flat, flat. The script simply stinks and Comisky’s direction is totally uninspired. The actors have poor material to work with, but their performances do nothing to help us find any emotional resonance. It’s like everyone was aiming for a TV-quality movie from the 80’s and they still fell short.

I wouldn’t spend any time on this one. It reeks like bad haggis. If you’re searching for something in the Loch with more of a soul, go for 2007’s “The Water Horse.” That one isn’t perfect either and it’s somewhat geared for kids, but it’s damn good comparatively. That’s a far better bet than this sinker.

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RATING ………………. 0.5 STARS

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FILM :: CABIN IN THE WOODS
YEAR :: 2012
DIRECTOR :: Drew Goddard

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FINALLY… Something different.

AWESOME concept with this one. I won’t share too much as almost anything would act as a spoiler. I think the summary on IMDB is a solid “interest piquer” ::

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

At first glance this would seem to be another de rigueur young, sexy sleepaway slasher pic. BUT, this film couldn’t be farther from that. Creative, self-aware and genuinely fun, writers Josh Whedon and Drew Goddard (who also directs) give us so much more in “Cabin.”. In the process, the film both uses and lampoons horror genre clichés a la Wes Craven at his best, shifting the viewer’s perspective and giving us a laugh.

The cast is spot on, giving us sexy thrills, harrowing screams and classic horror bravado in turns. They evoke just enough pathos that we wince when the writers remind us we’re watching a horror movie by showing us just how disposable they are.

This is a great film for genre-heads and non-horror fans alike. It’s that good. Don’t miss it.

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RATING ………………. 4.5 STARS

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FILM :: DARK SHADOWS
YEAR :: 2012
DIRECTOR :: Tim Burton

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I am SUPER TEMPTED to give this a one word review…

“Oops.”

But I love so much of Tim Burton’s other work that I think the film deserves a few more words to explain why.

It’s SUCH a shame that is is such a fail. There was so much to work with: truly classic source material, a very solid cast, a real budget, Tim Burton’s eye. But all of that just wasn’t enough to overcome a terribly weak script. Really, this is a perfect example of why there has to be some substance behind the style. Without deft, truly meaty writing, images (even the most compelling), fall flat.

I did want to give the movie SOME points for style. It is, at times, quite stylish: Great soundtrack, very nice cinematography, fun style nods to the original “Dark Shadows.” But even these have their detractors as they ultimately serve a flawed master in the story.

It’s worth a watch if you’re a die hard fan, but I feel that your time is MUCH better served by simply watching the original series.

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RATING ………………. 2.5 STARS

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Again, this catches me up. Stay tuned for more moving forward!

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ART :: LES EDWARDS, PAINTER OF HORROR

For the past 35 years, Les Edwards has given horror fans some truly spine-chilling images. He is a true leader within the genre. His ability to capture the personality of his subjects in a painterly way is only outpaced by his skill rendering textures. Look at those fabrics! Look at that hair and those skin surfaces!  Join me in tribute to this painter of nightmares.

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FILM :: REVIEWS… THE RE-ANIMATOR (1985)… HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986)… VAMP (1986)

To follow up on my first film review post: I’m taking these first posts to catch up with reviews of what I have watched so far in 2013 from the world of horror. Whether older films through a more mature pair of eyes or new movies from the genre, I’ll be capturing it all here moving forward.

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. )

Here are three more I have watched in 2013 so far…

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FILM :: RE-ANIMATOR
YEAR :: 1985
DIRECTOR :: Stuart Gordon

reanimator_horror

Where to start with this one? There is just so much awesomeness going on with this film — an HP Lovecraft story brought to life with absolute trash perfection.

This is a film about mad scientists, glowing secret formulas and reanimated body parts with anger issues. Really, it’s a perfect palette for director Stuart Gordon to play with and he handles it with just the right amount of reckless abandon. He treats the material with a deft blend of deadpan seriousness and hyperbolic craziness. The result is truly memorable with scene after scene of deliciously nutty drama soaked in blood, guts and adrenaline.

I absolutely love the cast on this film. Jeffrey Combs is flawless as Herbert West, the scientist with the formula and the grisly drive to raise the undead. David Gale plays the perfect foil to West as a perfectly evil rival scientist with a creeped-out sexual attraction to his colleague’s college daughter, the innocent but very sexy Barbara Crampton as Megan Halsey.  With Bruce Abbott as a reluctant partner to Herbert and lover to Megan and a fun supporting cast beyond.

The film with leave you in stitches and give you some unforgettable images to dream about afterwards. Buckle up. This is a wild ride.

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RATING ………………. 4.5 STARS

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FILM :: HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
YEAR :: 1986
DIRECTOR :: John McNaughton

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Emotionally raw, brutally honest and indie in feel, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” is the real deal.

Made for just $125,000 with an independent cast from Chicago’s Organic Theater Company, founded (in a bit of Jungian synchronicity for this post), by “Re-Animator” director Stuart Gordon, the film takes a work-a-day approach to the subject, giving it a true sense of the real. McNaughton deserves very high praise for this treatment. Stunning.

It is this true sense that gives the film its power. It is a gray, drab, water-stained portrait of a drifter who kills remorselessly to assuage the boredom in his life. Everyone who is a fan of Anthony Hopkins’ campy portrayal of Hannibal Lechter needs to watch Michael Rooker’s powerful, dull embodiment of psychopathy here in the title role. No camp. No comic relief. No mercy.

He is supported brilliantly by Tom Towles as the ultra-creepy Ottis and Tracy Arnold as his Ottis’s hapless sister who is fascinated and attracted to Henry’s raw power. All of the performances here are honest and give the film undeniable emotional electricity.

Though years have passed since the film was made, it has not blunted in any way. It still gives us an unrelenting peek at the life of a true psychopath at work.

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RATING ………………. 4.5 STARS

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FILM :: VAMP
YEAR :: 1986
DIRECTOR :: Richard Wenk

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Holy 80’s. If this didn’t have the amazing Grace Jones in it, I would shudder to think of its value.

Goofy, sloppy, bad and only partially charmingly so, this film encapsulates the fun-but-scholcky side of the 80’s horror scene. This is part titillating (quite literally, I might add) frat-ready fantasy, part cornball comedy with a few plastic chills all wrapped up in the poor (think destitute) man’s version of Scorsese’s pitch perfect 1985 film “After Hours.”

Though it isn’t horror and unless you just want to glimpse the awesome Grace Jones at the height of her powers, just skip this and watch “After Hours.” You’ll be more frightened and a heck of a lot happier.

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RATING ………………. 1.5 STARS

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I will continue to post catch-up reviews as I march towards the new stuff. Stay tuned!

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LITERATURE :: REVIEW… “THE KILLER INSIDE ME” BY JIM THOMPSON

From Jim Thompson’s “The Killer Inside” ::

“It was like being asleep when you were awake and awake when you were asleep. I’d pinch myself, figuratively speaking – I had to keep pinching myself. Then I’d wake up kind of in reverse; I’d go back to the nightmare I had to live in. And everything would be clear and reasonable.”

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“The Killer Inside” is rightfully considered an underground classic. It can be categorized in several genres from noir to true crime but I feel strongly that its cold, unflinching peek inside the mind of a killer is nothing short of horrifying, making it a perfect contender for a review here.

The publisher’s book description is a nice tease into the story ::

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he’s a little slow and a little boring. But, then, most people don’t know about the sickness–the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger. The sickness that is about to surface again.

As an outgrowth of my love of horror, I have long harbored a fascination with what makes killers tick. Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees were, after all, serial killers in their own right. For all of the psychoanalysis that we have seen in the horror genre, offering a glimpse of the broken minds behind the carnage, we rarely see an exploration of true psychopathy in the way that Thompson presents.

His main character, Lou Ford is disconnected in the way that real killers are, unmoved and unaffected by their acts, but manipulating others into a state of comfort. Ford plies those around him with worn out cliches and good ol’ boy charm in an attempt to lull them into complacency, never forgetting “the sickness” that rules him and drives his actions. The above quote from the novel hints at this. Stanley Kubrick said of the novel: “Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.” I think this is true on many levels.

This is a wonderfully tactile book. You can smell the sweat and cigarette smoke. You can feel the Texas heat, the steam of the sex and the give of bone under Ford’s hands. You can taste the blood and meat. Thompson gives us something that engages the reader on a sensual level, that is to say, through the senses. Simply put, the book is a chillingly violent, sexual creep-fest with a truly dark soul with true physicality.

Annnd, Thompson did all of this in the 50’s. This book was written in 1952. 1952! The EARLY 50’s. Staggering. It would be considered a challenging novel if it was published this year, but to think that it was published the same year that Gene Kelly danced through the puddles of “Singin’ in the Rain” is genuinely stunning.

Stephen King had this to say of Thompson writing in his time: “He was crazy. He went running into the American subconscious with a blowtorch in one hand and a pistol in the other, screaming his goddamn head off. No one else came close.”

This is a wild, hair-raising psychosexual romp soaked in blood that plumbs the depths of the darkest places within the human soul. It is something that only the best books are, an experience.

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RATING ………………. 5 STARS

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FILM :: REVIEWS… THE DEAD ZONE (1983)… CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (1986)… ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1958)

I wanted to start reviewing all of the horror films I am seeing sequentially on this blog, but thought a great place to start is to catch up with reviews of what I have watched so far in 2013 from the genre. Many are older, some new. Really… I just love exploring new-to-me films of any time period or re-experiencing films from my past that I may have seen and wanted to watch with a fresh (more mature) pair of eyes. I’ll capture all of that here through these reviews.

In a bit of convergence with another personal project I am working on, I will also share movie posters I have created for each film after watching it. For that project, I create a poster for every film I watch (every film… regardless of genre) of no more than three colors (black, red and white) and as few design elements as possible that captures the essence of the movie. You can see all of the posters at the project’s site here ::

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http://myfilmchronicle.tumblr.com/

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The posters themselves have no critical aspect to them, but this blog will allow me to explore the films from the horror genre critically.

Again, for the next posts along these lines, I’ll be playing catch-up for 2013 so far. Without further ado, here are a few…

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FILM :: THE DEAD ZONE
YEAR :: 1983
DIRECTOR :: David Croneneberg

deadzone_horror

Arguably the best of the Stephen King adaptations to film, this supernatural thriller does what so many don’t: it makes us care.

A high school teacher, Johnny Smith, in love and living a rewarding life is caught in a terrible accident, placing him in a coma for 5 years. When he awakens, he finds that he can see the future by touching the hands of others. The drama of the piece comes in Walken choosing to change that future and it’s implications for humanity or in ignoring it.

David Cronenberg, the man who has given us so many indelible horror images throughout his career shows great restraint with the material here, eschewing any gore for real storytelling.

The casting is top-flight, featuring the great Christopher Walken in the lead role with Brooke Adams, Martin Sheen, Herbert Lom and Tom Skerritt supporting. All provide honest, engaging performances that genuinely create real feelings for their individual characters.

Truly thrilling, this is definitely a gem from the early 80’s. Definitely worth a watch.

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RATING ………………. 4 STARS

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FILM :: CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH
YEAR :: 1986
DIRECTOR :: Richard Haines & Lloyd Kaufmann

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Pure trash. Pure fun. Thought I had seen this before, how cool was it to see this MANY years later as an “adult?”

Made by Troma, the studio that brought you “The Toxic Avenger,” the filmmakers had this to say about the film: “It’s like The Breakfast Club, only not as stupid, and really, really drunk.” I definitely agree that stupid and drunk should be in any description of this film. But uproarious, splattered and kitschy should be in there somewhere as well.

Welcome to Tromaville,  where square teachers, righteous dudes and violent surf punks fight for the school and life is one big nihilistic party. The local nuclear power plant is leeching green goo into just about everything. What happens when that goo gets in the water, or even more dire, the marijuana supply? Well, you might guess. The answer involves toilet monsters, zombie-like pregnancies, 4 foot long erections, man-eating slime-things and a whole host of low-budget 80’s incredible-ness.

The casting is fun all around. Gil Brenton anchors the male lead role well. Robert Pritchard plays a memorable arch-punk as the main villain with the support of a motley bunch of bizarre flunkys in his anarchic gang. Perhaps the most interesting is the fresh and radiantly sexy Janelle Brady as the ever-prissy Chrissy. As a 16-year-old male when this film came out, I can say that Chrissy made my horror-loving heart beat QUITE quickly. She’s truly gorgeous. It’s a shame that Brady’s career only lasted for three films.

This movie is the definition of trash. However, the film’s hilarious “badness” has an undeniable charm. Is this a good film? Not on any planet. Is it a cult-classic? Yes and awesomely so. See it, but ONLY if you’re up for what it has to offer.

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RATING ………………. 3 STARS

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FILM :: ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE
YEAR :: 1958
DIRECTOR :: Bert I. Gordon

attackofthepuppetpeople_horror

A deranged dollmaker with a consuming fear of being alone devises a way to shrink humans to keep them in his doll collection. Light and a bit goofy, this classic title from the late 50s relies on set pieces and trompe l’oeil effects to generate interest. Though the effects are fun and quite successful at times (for the era) and I do consider early technique-driven films like this classic matinee fare, the film remains tepid.

Worth watching for completists and early effects fans.

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RATING ………………. 2 STARS

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I will continue to post catch-up reviews as I go. Stay tuned!

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MUSIC :: A HORROR FAN’S RUNNING PLAYLIST — PART II — THE ZOMBIE EDITION

This is the second installment in a running series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this edition, we’re turning to the undead. Really, there’s nothing like a zombie to get your pace up.

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On with the dark tuneage. All “Zombie” songs this time ’round  ::

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04

“Zombie” — The Cranberries

Ultimately, a song about Ireland’s politically charged violent history, but few songs have charted like this one with such an “undead” moniker. Though it was different in relation to the band’s other output, IMHO, it represented a high point for them. Really, how could I have a “Zombie” installment of this playlist and not include this? In another really cool tie to things dark, the video for the song was directed by the great Samuel Bayer. He directed countless music videos including Nirvana’s dark piece for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and helmed the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” acting as both director and producer for the film.

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05

“All You Zombies” — The Hooters

This has a nice tempo to it. Perfect for settling into a distance pace on. This 1985 hit from “Nervous Night” charted at #58 on the Billboard Hot 100 annnnnd it’s zombified. Sweetness.

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06

“Road Zombie” — Social Distortion

Let’s pick up the pace again with this one — a guitar driver from 2011’s “”Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” — one of the best albums of that year. I love these cats. Rock on with your brain-loving selves.

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Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s PART I.

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