It was very on trend in the 1950s for movies concerning blob-like creatures, with a taste for human flesh. There was The Blob, obvs, The Quatermass Xperiment, X the Unknown, and a whole slew of others, all squelching around, trying to cause as much chaos as inhumanly possible. Spotting the trend, director Riccardo Freda jumped on the amorphous bandwagon, with his sci-fi horror Caltiki, the Immortal Monster.
It is safe to say that this is cinematic artistry at its very best. This horror, although silent, screams of an unhinged nightmare full off vivid expressionistic imagery. From the beginning the film’s soundtrack alerts the viewer that something dark and sinister is on the cards. The set is the work of a mastermind and with the scenery being uneven and far from any utopian environment, this is reflected in the twisted music.
“Dr. Caligari and his mysterious slave – the black and white phantom who lives in a cabinet and goes forth in his sleep to do his master’s bidding.”
There’s an old joke that goes something like, “If God can do anything, can He create a rock so heavy that even He couldn’t lift it?” Adapted to the cinema, the question becomes, “Can you make a slasher flick so bad that even Dee Wallace couldn’t save it?”
Yes. Yes, you can. Red Christmas is that movie. There are such things as good slasher flicks. Maybe they’ve got some funny lines, some memorable kills, or a distinctly horrific antagonist. Unfortunately, Red Christmas has none of those things…
“This Christmas, the only thing under the tree is terror.”
I’m well into my 30’s now. That means I was lucky enough to be in my pre-teens when Fred Dekker was still directing films and TV. He may be known by most people as either the director of the entertaining Night of the Creeps or calamitous Robocop 3, but sandwiched in between these two totally dissimilar yarns was 1987’s The Monster Squad.
The titular “Monster Squad” is a small group of horror-loving kids, led by Sean, who run their affairs from a poster-adorned treehouse.
“You know who to call when you have ghosts. But who do you call when you have monsters?”
With a title such as Accidental Exorcist you’d be mistaken for thinking this movie was firmly rooted in the comedy-horror genre. I was. So it was a total surprise when on viewing that I realised this was definitely not comedy and moderately horror, more a psychological-thriller – which is fine, but very misleading.
Okay, so I now settled into what I soon discovered to be a very serious, brooding thriller about Richard Vanuck, who’s only talent in life is successfully being able to perform exorcisms.
“Evil touches us all.”
Dark, poetic and a visual masterpiece.
The Crow is a movie that is very much dear to my heart. Released in 1994 on the back of some very serious hype (for all the wrong reasons) involving the death of star Brandon Lee, it was billed as a sort of adult version of Tim Burton’s Batman. I can clearly see why people would perceive this as it’s a very dark piece. Audiences hadn’t really seen many movies stylistically like Burton’s Batman, so it was easier to class them in the same vein. Even more so with both being comic book incarnations…
“It can’t rain all the time.”
Traditionally, Halloween is the time of year for scares. The perfect holiday to run through your top 10 horror films of all time, visit any of the local “haunted attractions”, or listen to “Monster Mash” without any shame. But what of those unfortunate souls that can’t stomach the gore, spooks and Bobby Pickett? Surely, there must be something out there to “get them in the mood”, so to speak. Well, Halloween Party might just be the perfect film to get even the most squeamish in the holiday spirit.
“A woman searches for love on the most deceptive night of the year.”
Half of what makes a good horror film is a good monster. Without a believable, and ultimately scary, antagonist there’s not much for the audience to latch onto. No film studio – not even the amazing Hammer Films – has ever been able to hold a candle to the classics, and probably wouldn’t have ever existed without the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 40s.
“Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!”
Volumes of Blood is a horror anthology movie featuring five short films, each helmed by a different director. The overarching story focuses on a college study group in a public library trying to create a new urban legend as part of a class project. As in just about every anthology, some of the stories were better than others, owing to variances in acting, cinematography, and screenplay. Yes, it’s a low-budget film, but that’s not where it falls short: what failed the movie was the writing.
Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining film, one worth your time.
“Some libraries make a killing!”
The Butcher is one of the many, many horror movies that seem to have been inspired directly by the murderous antics of one Mr Edward Gein. For those inexplicably unfamiliar with his work, Mr Gein was a serial murderer who haunted Plainfield, Wisconsin in the late 1940s and early 50s. Though he was from a small town and his “career” lasted barely half a decade, Gein made himself a name in the serial killer community for the – how shall we put it? – joie de travailler with which he went about his work. Almost all of the tropes beloved of the serial killer movie – the suit made of human skin, the mock-crucifixions, the skull crockery – have come from the details of Ed Gein’s trial.
“You are what’s on the menu…”
Conrad Radzoff is a horror icon passed his peak, consigned to resurrecting his celebrated cinematic vampire role for a tasteless advertisement for dentures. After he dies, a group of devotees break into his neon-lit, lavish mausoleum and, in a rather misguided attempt to celebrate the life of their idol, nick his body for a farewell shindig at their place – who wouldn’t?! Unfortunately for them, Radzoff was a dab hand at the ol’ black magic and rises from the dead, seeking payback on those who disturbed him.
“There was Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Conrad Ragzoff! They were all stars who lived and died. But only one returned…”
Imagine you’ve received a mysterious summons to a grand old mansion, along with a check for several thousand dollars. Most of us would probably think it was a scam, despite the money, but you’d be terribly curious, of course. It’s certainly a step up from the ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam. Maybe you’d even go out to this grand old mansion, just to see what it’s all about. That’s what Gabby does in The Offer, and she arrives to discover that six other guests like her have already arrived. It’s an intriguing opener to what could be an innovative series.