Umberto Lenzi had quite a career during his time as a film maker. Lenzi started law school, then decided his true passion lay with movies and attended the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. His resume’ included peplum, westerns, giallos and mysteries, all typical of Italian cinema of the time. He later retired from cinema and wrote a series of detective novels. Then in 1972 Lenzi made what many consider the first true, cannibal film, Man from the Deep River. The work contained many of the attributes of future cannibal movies; violence, sex, the consumption of raw, human flesh… The movie established Lenzi as a director of turgid, offensive films.
In the mid-1990s there was a void in horror cinema. When Wishmaster was announced, it was met with excitement. This was a horror movie created by horror fans for horror fans. Executive produced by Wes Craven, directed by special make-up effects artist Robert Kurtzman, starring horror icons Robert Englund, Angus Scrimm, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joseph Pilato, and scored by Harry Manfredini, Wishmaster appeared to have the ‘killer’ team. What could go wrong?
“Be careful what you wish for.”
It would not be an exaggeration to call Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of the strangest movies ever produced. Looking to cash in on Jacqueline Susann’s deliciously trashy novel (and subsequent trashy big studio film) the movie is by turns funny, amateurish, gross, distasteful, misogynistic, exploitative and brilliant.
There are so many back-stories and interesting behind the camera plot-lines that Russ Meyer himself would be hard pressed to invent similar tales. Distinguished film critic Roger Ebert helped write the screenplay, surprising because, while Ebert would praise [the] occasional exploitation film, he generally held a dim view of horror and slasher cinema.
“This is not a sequel. There has never been anything like it!”
Adapted from the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, The Lair of the White Worm was written and directed by Ken Russell (The Devils, Gothic), and released in 1988 by Vestron Pictures. Based upon the North East English ‘Lambton Worm’ legend, revolving around John Lambton and his battle with a gigantic ‘worm’, The Lair of the White Worm was the last novel released by Stoker before his death in 1912.
“Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, I shall tell you why you must not be afraid to die. To die so that the god may live is a privilege.”
Sam Peckinpah achieved prominence as a director and writer by showing us the savagery and the effect violence had upon human beings. The Wild Bunch, a revisionist, neo-western epic. The movie shocked critics and audiences alike with an opera of bodies torn apart by various weapons and the wholesale killing of women and children. The Wild Bunch thus became the essence of a Peckinpah film, one against all his other movies were judged.
“Why is his head worth one million dollars and the lives of 21 people?”
The Green Inferno is the horror director’s homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 1970s and 1980s. Those films, such as Cannibal Holocaust, Make Them Die Slowly and Eaten Alive were in turn influenced by the sub-genre of Mondo films. These films showed actual executions, animal slaughter and other graphic scenes of barbarity. While these movies portrayed indigenous and primitive peoples in an unflattering light, the invading Western protagonists also committed unspeakable acts of violence, leading the audience to wonder who the real savages were.
“No good deed goes unpunished.”
I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale; literally translated as The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence, is an Italian giallo directed by Sergio Martino. Released in the United States as Torso in 1973, Martino’s artistic direction combined feverish sexuality and visually striking violence into a film that predates the American slasher subgenre. Perhaps then, the slasher owes a lot more to the Italian giallo than it is usually given credit for?
“Enter… if you dare the bizarre world of the psychosexual mind.”
Humanoids from the Deep, directed by Barbara Peeters (and an uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami), is an American science fiction monster movie produced by Roger Corman and New World Pictures.
Star Ann Turkel has stated that what began in pre-production as “an intelligent suspenseful science-fiction story” soon became an exploitative splatter movie. Roger Corman, disappointed with the rough cut, requested that further sex be shot and inserted into the final cut.
“They’re not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating.”
Today, when we refer to modern horror icons we still mention the now decades old Michael Myers from John Carpenter’s Halloween, Freddy Kruger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason Voorhees from Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. This is testament to their popularity, that has arguably surpassed that of both Universal and Hammer’s horror creations. It is perhaps then surprising to horror newcomers that the character of Jason is notably absent for the majority of the original Friday the 13th.
“They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.”
Based on the Manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note is a huge franchise in Japan. The Netflix remake rather misses the entire message of the original Death Note – which is that power corrupts. It barely touches on the themes that gave the original depth and intrigue and lacks its tension-building storytelling, which left the viewer wondering where the latest development might lead, and who would win. It’s the version for people who can’t cope with subtitles.
“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
Tobe Hooper was one of the most influential horror directors of all time. His vision and intelligence can be seen in almost every slasher and splatter film over the last forty years and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Hooper’s masterpiece.
Originally conceived as a faux film “based on true events”, Hooper did draw inspiration from the story of Ed Gein, a murderer, grave robber who had a predilection for a number of other unsavory character traits.
“What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real. Once you stop screaming, then you’ll start talking about it.”
Olaf Ittenbach is a German auteur who is a combination of Tom Savini and Takashi Miike. Originally a dental technician, Ittenbach then became a top notch SFX artist, his most notable credit being for BloodRayne by Uwe Boll.
Along with Boll, he is part of the German new wave bringing media attention to their underground films specializing in rape, necrophilia and extreme violence. Ittenbach’s films focus on pain, body destruction and gore, preferably as much that can be jammed into a two hour film.