William Lustig’s ‘Maniac’ is an unconventional slasher film compared to its peers offering a lot more weight (and no, I am not talking about Joe Spinell’s hefty frame). This is a movie that I would call a character study slasher. Yes, you read it right. Character, study and slasher are three words that would not normally fit into the same sentence but here we have a film summed up perfectly with those very words.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Horror and science fiction are two genres that can mesh very well. ‘Alien’ (1979) and ‘The Thing’ (1982) are two of the very finest examples of the calibre of filmmaking that has contributed to this hybrid. From this generation of these films' respective directors Ridley Scott and John Carpenter is David Cronenberg the Canadian filmmaker who became the main innovator of body horror breaking out with the low-budget independently produced cult hits ‘Shivers’ (1975), ‘Rabid’ (1977) and ‘The Brood’ (1979). In 1981 between the releases of ‘Alien’ and ‘The Thing’ Cronenberg would take a break from all things bodily repulsive and would himself blend horror and sci-fi into an effective mix. Albeit nowhere near as influentially as Scott and Carpenter, but still 'Scanners' is one hell of a hugely entertaining ride that earned multiple viewings from me growing up. It was the director’s first major success becoming a huge box-office smash that would enable him to graduate on to the mainstream of Hollywood major studio moviemaking.
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
‘City of the Living Dead’ is easily one of Lucio Fulci’s most entertaining films. It is a far progression from the overrated mediocrity of ‘Zombie’ (1979) which showed off just flashes of his promise in what he could offer the genre. This follow-up is much more satisfying and was Fulci’s first solid effort in his reinvention of himself as a horror maverick. Also known under the title of ‘The Gates of Hell’ it was actually the first part in the director’s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy followed by his greatest horror movie ‘The Beyond’ (1981) and the hugely enjoyable and underrated ‘The House by the Cemetery’ (1981).
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Taken from a BBC interview with John Carpenter in 1999 conducted by film critic Mark Kermode for the 21st anniversary of the original ‘Halloween’:
Kermode: “There is also a confusion in ‘Halloween II’ in which there’s a relationship developed between Michael and Jamie Lee Curtis’s character which apparently justifies why he’s after her but the point is there isn’t any reason why he’s after her.”
The relationship Mark Kermode is referring to is a sibling one as the majority of us well knows. In a key scene of ‘Halloween’ (1978), Laurie Strode (Curtis) goes to the empty Myers house to drop off the keys for her estate agent father on the way to school. She is accompanied by little Tommy Doyle who she meets along the way and is babysitting that night. Michael Myers sees them from inside and fixates on Laurie. John Carpenter is establishing that even the most common mundane things we do in the daily routines of our lives can land us in mortal danger. This is a frightening thing in itself.
Monday, 21 October 2013
‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ (1957) was Hammer film productions’ first foray into gothic horror cinema. With its huge success came a revival of that very same brand first made commercially successful by Hollywood studio Universal in the 1930s and 1940s. Here though with British production company Hammer it was a gorier affair with more shock value. They would base much of their output on the iconic horror monsters made famous by the American studio. They resurrected Dracula a year later in ‘The Horror of Dracula’ (1958) and continuing with ‘The Mummy’ (1959) and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1962). The Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy franchises would have many sequels.