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Fright Fest 2018: Dracula (1979)

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Dracula

Release year: 1979

Starring: Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald Pleasance and Kate Nelligan.

Directed by: John Badham

Review by: D.S. Ullery

Whether or not an adaptation of Dracula succeeds – and there have been many – comes down to the actor playing Bram Stoker’s legendary Count.  Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee each put their own, definitive stamp on the character, as did Gary Oldman in later years. Even Jack Palance delivered a memorable turn as the vampire in a terrific 70’s- era television movie. Continue Reading

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Fright Fest 2018: Fright Night (1985)

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Fright Night (1985)

Written & Directed by Tom Holland

Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys and Roddy McDowall

The Gist: A horror-obsessed teenager discovers that his next door neighbor is a murderous vampire. He attempts to convince the police, his family and friends to no avail. Seeing no other option, he takes matters into his own hands.

The Review (ish):

It was 1985. I was twelve going on thirteen, finally I was about to be taken seriously as a teenager! If you believe that I also have a vampire living next to me. In 1985 when Fright Night was originally released I would still consider myself a fledgling horror fan well on my way to a lifetime trudging through the wonderful world of blood and guts. It was a time when many local stations all over the country had some sort of Horror Host on late night usually on a Friday or Saturday night who did goofy gags, related movie trivia and usually showed low budget, B Horror movies. Horror Hosts kind of died out for a while though they’ve made a nice resurgence in recent years thanks to the internet where any horror fan can get a show started provided they have a camera or hell, just a phone these days. Why bring this up? Have you seen Fright Night? If you answered no and consider yourself a horror fan then you may want to just stop here and go correct that. Seriously, stop reading dimwit! Go watch Fright Night! Then grab some coffee and we’ll talk. Go on… I’ll wait.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

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Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Marshall Manesh, & Dominic Rains

Written By: Ana Lily Amirpour

Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

Synopsis:  In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware that they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

Every now and then, a film comes out that manages to fly under the radar a bit. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of these movies. It made its waves upon its initial release but unfortunately, many people have yet to hear of this one. The film is writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature film and it is one hell of a way break out!  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: Daughters of Darkness (1971)

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Since its inception, American Horror Story has subsisted on pulling from decades’ worth of great genre fare for inspiration. The results run the gamut from highly entertaining to desperate and cynical. Take, for instance, the show’s worst season –  Hotel – in which Lady Gaga plays an eternal Countess presiding over the titular Los Angeles establishment. Despite bright spots from ensemble regulars like Sarah Paulson and Denis O’Hare, Hotel had a meandering, improvised quality that led to a plodding narrative. The creative team miscalculated by leaning on the stunt casting of Gaga more heavily than the quality of the writing. In the end, one gets the impression that series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk passed Gaga a copy of Harry Kümel’s masterful vampire film, Daughters of Darkness, and instructed her to do a campy impersonation of Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig).  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

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Genre: Action

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie

Supporting actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell

Movie review: Erin Lee

***Contains spoilers***

Step into a Twisted Legend with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

If “history prefers legends to men,” this movie hit the mark. Dark and packed with action and predictable blood-thirsty violence, this movie might at first come across as your average vamp hunt flick. Quickly, though, this complicated historical fictional tale’s plot begins to thicken – making it a movie for both vamp gurus and those who aren’t as vamp-savvy alike. Frankly, this is one of those movies where you just know it had to have been based off a book because its plot is so well-developed. (In this case, by Seth Grahame-Smith and one I may pick up just to get more of the back story I suspect was left out).  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: Salem’s Lot (1979)

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Until recently, Stephen King movie adaptations were dreadful. And not in a good way. His first adaptation was good, the 1976’s depiction of Carrie, which may have had more to do with Brian De Palma’s version and not the journal styled storytelling from King. Some adaptations, mostly spanning through the 90s, where just down right embarrassing. Both made for TV movies IT and The Stand were nauseating to watch. In fact, it was only through a sheer force of will that i was able to finally watch the entire 90s IT movie. Without Tim Curry I wouldn’t have made it. But nowadays, King movies seem to be doing alright. The new IT is actually creepy and fun to watch. Adaptions of his newer work such as 11.22.63 was great. And i’ve heard nothing but good things surrounding the new Castle Rock show. But before all these newfound home runs, solid adaptions were slim pickenings. However, there was one that was and still is arguably the best Stephen King inspired movie, and that would be Tobe Hooper’s take on Salem’s LotContinue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: The Lost Boys (1987)

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Let’s see if we can start some stuff, here.

If there is a vampire film that has proved to be more divisive and argument-provoking, Lost Boys would likely be close to the top of the list. The world seems to have no shortage of both love and scorn for this landmark film.

And hey, I get it. I am not the biggest Joel Shumacher fan. While he has done some films I like, A Time To Kill, Falling Down and 8mm, I will completely acknowledge that much of his work comes off as a touch superficial, movies that look nice but without a lot of substance to them. He managed to personally put a torpedo into the flank of the original Batman film franchise, trying too hard to make a big-budget summer film but also somehow trying to wear Tim Burton’s clothes at the same time. Often, I get the vibe of someone who directs high profile films but who also wants to have what he sees as the cred of a small-budget indie filmmaker.

Maybe I’m just at the right age, but Lost Boys was a huge part of my childhood. I still remember seeing it in the theater, although how I managed as an eleven-year-old to have parents who took me to a film like that is beyond me. But still, it was a movie I saw upon its original release and over the years, I have come back to it and watched it again and again. And as the genre has shifted and changed to the Twilight era we find lost2ourselves in, Lost Boys still stands as one of the last contemporary vampire movies that I have really enjoyed. And yes, I do realize that I’m putting a spotlight on my age by referring to this as contemporary. Just move past it, Atticus.

Yeah, I know. I did it again.

And please don’t take this as the old guy grousing on how millennials have ruined vampires. That isn’t my point. I’m sure that fans of the classic Universal Monster movies were equally put off by movies such as The Lost Boys and Fright Night. While much of current interpretations aren’t for me, I’m mature enough to understand that it’s a big world out there and things are inevitably going to shift in favor of the interests of other people.

And for me, Lost Boys represented a narrative sensibility where vampires were something we were meant to be more afraid of. These characters existed as destructive forces of nature that demanded respect and incited terror. Cold-blooded killers (literally) who took and did whatever they wanted.

Let’s start with the area that I think is the most important and most underrated when it comes to success in a movie – the music It’s not something that many give thought to, but the reality is that the music of any given scene is responsible for laying down the emotional groundwork that the acting is built upon. Acting and writing is important, as is costume and set design and effects but the music is what gets into our heads and informs us as to how we should be feeling about what we’re seeing.

Lost Boys has a phenomenal soundtrack. I’m listening to it right now as I write this. It’s lost4no coincidence that great movies are often paired with great soundtracks. Despite all the years that have passed since this movie first came out, there is a lot of music from there that has stayed with me.

I’ll concede that the acting in this movie isn’t great. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Coreys and I’ll freely admit that they were more a product of popular culture at the time than anything from their actual acting chops. And by putting them front and center, the film was pretty clearly going after the younger MTV audience, presenting a fairly superficial stereotype of pseudo “punk-rock kids” as the vampires in this. I get it, but the positives of the movie still outweigh all of it for me.

Would I still like the movie as much if I were to watch it now, for the first time? I’ll be honest and admit that I have no idea but there’s also no way to resolve that question. I’ll own the fact that my own middle-aged nostalgia could be causing my love for this movie to swell out of control and it could very well be affecting my judgment.

I just don’t care.

I’m a sucker for stories where strangers roll into a new town and are sucked into a dark underworld that manages to exist and thrive right under everyone’s noses. That was done really well here, with one brother being sucked into the allure of this world and the other being driven to rise up against it.

And besides Stand By Me and Young Guns, this is one of the more iconic performances of Kiefer Sutherland’s early years for me. I thought he did a great job as the menacing leader of the gang of vampires taking this seaside town apart. He plays the role that was required of him and he put his all in to it.

And while the twist at the end wasn’t that unexpected, even to eleven-year-old me, it’s lost3still done well and brings the film around to a satisfying conclusion. This isn’t a movie that was meant to change the world. It was a movie that was meant to be entertaining, it was meant to be fun in all of it’s baby oil-slicked, saxophone toned glory and if there is any one thing I would say about the endurance of the Lost Boys it would be that I still believe.

And just as an aside at the end here, I’m not going to bother speaking up for any of the films that came after this. I haven’t watched any of them and I have no interest.

For me, there will always and only be one Lost Boys.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

Fright Fest 2018: Martin (1978)

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Martin is a 1978 psychological horror film written and directed by George A. Romero. While Romero is best known for his Dead movies (of which the first, Night of the Living Dead, I wrote up an analysis), Martin was his avowed favourite.

Martin Mathias (John Amplas) is a vampire…or is he? He lacks the fangs, using razor blades to cut the wounds from which he drinks the blood. Sunlight bothers his eyes a little, and neither crucifixes nor garlic have any effect on him.

Still, he insists that he needs to drink blood; he also maintains that he’s eighty-four years old, though he looks like a teen, or at the oldest, a man in his mid-to-late twenties (i.e., Amplas’s age at the time of shooting the film). Finally, his “cousin”?/great-uncle, Tateh Cuda (Lincoln Maazel), following the superstitions of the family, is as convinced that Martin is a vampire as he is.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: The Monster Squad (1987)

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Directed By: Fred Decker (Night of the Creeps, Robocop 3)

Starring: Duncan Regehr (V, 1988’s The Last Samuri, Zorro Television Show), Tom Noonan (The House of the Devil, Late Phases, The Alphabet Killer), Jon Gries (Skinwalker Rancher, Napoleon Dynamite, Fright Night Part 2), Tom Woodruff Jr. (Pumpkinhead, Tremors, Mortal Kombat), Michael Reid Mackay (Highway to Hell, Sleepwalkers, X-Men 2), and Stephen Macht (Graveyard Shift, Trancers film series, The Legend of Galgameth)

Written By: Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero) and Fred Dekker (House, Night of the Creep, Robocop 3)

Release Year: 1987  Continue Reading

Fright Fest 2018: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

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Directors: Ubaldo Ragona (as Ubaldo B. Ragona), Sidney Salkow

Writers: William F. Leicester (screenplay), Richard Matheson (screenplay) (as Logan Swanson)

Stars: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli

You can credit Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I am Legend, for many things. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead borrowed heavily from I am Legend. In tone and visuals, mostly. But it’s interesting to note that Romero changed the landscape of his tale to reflect the mindless eating machine known as the zombie (a monster he completely retooled that many have appropriated) while Matheson choose a primitive form of vampiric new breed of civilization. One with a secreted illuminati who were also at war with the savage cattle that obeyed only its bloodlust.  Continue Reading

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