Rear Window was the movie that introduced the young Ren to the perverse genius of Alfred Hitchcock. I remember as a child, being irresistibly drawn into the voyeuristic position of his protagonist and fascinated by the goings-on in the windows he was observing. Hitchcock claimed not to care about the subject, morality or message in his movies, but only about the manner in which his stories were told, but his attraction to the psychological was one of his most obvious storytelling strengths.
In 2020 it’s impossible to approach Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien as a first-time viewer and feel anything resembling its original impact. Everyone has seen Scott’s vision of space taken up by countless sci-fi films and most people know each of Alien’s iconic scenes, whether they’ve seen the entire film or not. After several Alien sequels and spinoffs, countless imitators, and the wholesale cinematic plundering of Giger and Scott’s visual sci-fi language, it is hard for latter generations to imagine a time in science-fiction before Alien – a time before face-huggers, chest-bursters, and strong heroines.
“Sometimes the scariest things come from within.”
Duck Soup is a 1933 pre-Code Marx Brothers film universally acknowledged as a comedy classic. It’s a movie which ridicules the leader of a country whose narcissism and rivalry manages to horrify, amuse or infuriate the international community and pushes him to create division and conflict.
Hmm… I guess some topics are simply evergreen. Yet, like so many film ‘classics’ Duck Soup hasn’t necessarily been viewed by people who consider themselves cinephiles, comedy fans or movie buffs.
“War is swell…when the Marx Brothers are in it. They’ll be out of the trenches by Christmas…if the food doesn’t improve!”
Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is a third-person shooter where you play Alec Mason, who has just arrived on Mars looking for work. He barely has time to breathe before he’s thrust into a war between the Earth Defense Force (EDF) and the Red Faction.
From the moment Mutant Blast entered my psyche I couldn’t shake this nostalgic feeling I was having. Distributed by the legendary purveyors of bad taste, Troma Entertainment, it is undeniable that the golden age of this independent studio has left an impression on director Fernando Alle. Mutant Blast is a low-budget, gore-drenched, post-apocalyptic action/horror film that evokes the Class of Nuke ‘Em High-style of gross-out humour.
“Dolphins are diabolical creatures! But you can’t wrap that around your heads, because you think dolphins are cute… The truth is, dolphins are motherfuckers! MOTHERFUCKERS!”
Have you ever looked at a mannequin and swear you seen it move or talk? Variable in size, shape and detail, these human-like but hallow creations have a definite mystique. Filmmakers have included them continually in horror, relying on their presence to create a deep and unnerving effect…
“Oh, Melvin… What are we going to do with you?”
Fans of writer-director Patryk Vega’s Mafia Women, rejoice! There’s a sequel to the film I called “unbelievably bad” in this very space, and it’s titled, appropriately, Women of Mafia 2 (or Mafia Women 2, depending on your Polish-to-English translation). You’ll be pleased to know that Women of Mafia 2 has quite a lot in common with the first film, including graphic violence, frontal nudity, and a script so nonsensical that the writing must have been outsourced to the proverbial primate with a typewriter, minus the infinite timeline.
“Starting today we have sex with whoever we want!”
The political landscape has evolved or, perhaps that should be mutated into a picture so grotesque that, ten years ago horror fans wouldn’t have been able to conjure up our present reality from even the darkest corners of their imagination. One of horror’s most powerful and moving attributes is that it is able to reflect what is occurring within society at any given moment. Along with a shift towards nationalism in the recent years, the notion of what scares us at the movies has gravitated away from slasher villains and horrifying monsters to a deep rooted fear of people…
“Leaving… It’s harder than you think.”
In our rush to analyse, dissect and debate, we often forget that one of the functions of art, in this case cinematic art, is simply to give pleasure. Pleasure is subjective – what might give you pleasure might not appeal to someone else. It’s futile to disagree on this point unless of course, we can all exchange opinions in ways that might be mutually enlightening. Some of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had with cinephiles is when they enthuse about the films that made them fall in love with the medium. It is that which has prompted me to discuss some of the ‘films that made me’…
“There are angels on the streets of Berlin.”
Daniel Isn’t Real is a vivid psychological horror from director Adam Egypt Mortimer, which centres around troubled college freshman Luke Nightingale. We learn that when Luke was around five years old he ran into the street to get away from an argument which was raging between his mum Claire, who was struggling with mental issues, and his unsympathetic dad. A few blocks away he stumbled across the aftermath of a bloody shooting at a neighbourhood café. As little Luke stood staring at a blood-spattered corpse, he was suddenly joined by another little boy called Daniel.
“I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid. His name was Daniel.”
Sarah is doing it tough. Having lost her husband to an as-yet-unsolved murder only a few short months prior, she is stretched both financially and emotionally. She has two small children to give her strength and motivation as she privately grieves and tries to hold her family together. But A Good Woman Is Hard to Find opens with her covered in blood. She washes it off in the shower and then we reflect back on how she got there; and what an exhilarating tale it is. Directed by Abner Pastoll and written by Ronan Blaney, this Northern Irish production has much to admire.
“They’re my children… I’m their mother… and I love them.”
1982 saw the release of Louis La Vope’s horror short which was broadcast on American television. Entitled simply The Dummy, and running at less than eight minutes, it tells of the eponymous doll who comes to life and inflicts mental and physical torment on an unsuspecting victim.