Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: The Prowler (1981)
Nostalgia’s a funny old thing. Looking back over past events, with or without rose tinted glasses, distorts the memory, plays havoc with the senses, even drive people to despair. It can also make bad films seem like Oscar winning works of art. Back when I was a youth (complete with a full head of hair but still equipped with a cheeky endearing smile), there was this thing known as the ‘Video Nasties Bill’, a slice of legislation obviously designed to keep impressionable youngsters like myself free from the corrupting influence of films like The Beast in Heat, Driller Killer and of course The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The fine Whitehall mandarins who crafted the bill didn’t take into account the craftiness of adolescents, pirated videos and the long dead Betamax format. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Twilight (2008)
Release year: 2008
Staring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke, and Elizabeth Reaser
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Review by: Justin Park
When Thomas S Flowers announced his annual Fright Fest review series would be themed around vampire movies, I scrolled down the list of potential films to see such classics as Martin, Near Dark and The Hunger. But I was surprised not to find Twilight amongst the titles.
The book series became such a hit I don’t really need to introduce them. Whether you’ve read them or not, you are all probably aware they were written by Stephanie Meyer, you’re all probably aware of the name Edward Cullen, and you are all aware, like it or not, that when exposed to sunlight the vampires in this series sparkle. The reason we all know this is the books became a massive hit, spawning a series of successful films and cemented themselves in popular culture. And isn’t that the goal for most writers and film makers? Isn’t that the success people dream of? Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Dracula (1979)
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
Fright Fest 2018: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
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: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie
Supporting actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
Movie review: Erin Lee
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)
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 Lot. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: The Monster Squad (1987)
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)
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
Fright Fest 2018: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Starring: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, & Juliette Lewis
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Synopsis: On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: The Brides of Dracula (1960)
I have fond memories of watching the original Dracula as a child. I wasn’t actually supposed to watch it, but I crawled out of bed and slithered down the hall like a creep, so that I could see the living room TV and catch bits and pieces of the strangely sexy, strangely funny film.
Brides of Dracula, although released nearly 60 years ago, is completely new to me. I didn’t even realize that it was technically “Dracula 2” until I did a little research before watching.
I chose this as my movie to review because I MISS VAMPIRES, there I said it! As a writer in the thriller and horror genres, I feel like vampires have gotten a bad rap over the last few years and I really want more vampire books and movies in my life. I also liked the word “Brides” in the title – anything that contains female villains is my jam. Is this film a feminist’s dream come true? I don’t know, probably not. But there were some fabulous females in this film and they truly made the movie, in my opinion. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Vampire in Brooklyn wasn’t the vampire movie we wanted, but as far as 1995 goes, it was the vampire movie we needed. Nor is Vampire in Brooklyn the most notorious on our vampire movie lineup everyone loves to trash–that honor has been reserved for another movie you’ll see in the weeks to come. While not the most hated, Vampire in Brooklyn certainly doesn’t doesn’t deserve the hate it does get. 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2 stars on IMDb, and 1 star from Roger Ebert, I’m not feeling much love out there. 1995 produced some really great movies, Se7en for one. Braveheart also came out that year, as well as Apollo 13, HEAT, and Batman: Forever (yes, I included Batman Forever, get over it). Those are some heavy hitters. But as far as horror (Se7en should be in that category), the pickings were slim. We had maybe four or five good ones, including Lord of Illusion, Tales from the Hood, Demon Knight, The Prophecy, and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. All great. All super dark in material and context. Horror is by nature dark and heavy and somber, but between real life horrors, the Oklahoma City Bombing and OJ being found innocent, we needed a break from reality. For me, Vampire in Brooklyn was a welcomed break from the real world. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: The Hunger (1983)
The vampire has been a popular recurring theme since movies began. Even before the most iconic bloodsucker, Bela Lugosi, appeared in DRACULA (1931), there was NOSFERATU (1922). Every generation has created its own image of the monster, either as a new adaptation of Stoker’s novel, or, more interesting, as some new twist on the theme. The vampire seems to be unique among the classic monsters in that it is simultaneously feared and desired. The vampire can be seen as some existential romantic figure who promises victory over death, or as a parasite spreading eternal damnation. In one figure is wrapped all our obsessions with love, sex, death and disease. Each subsequent vampire movie ends up being a reflection of the current generation’s phobias and desires. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Stake Land (2010)
Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Michael Cerveris, Sean Nelson, Kelly McGillis, and Danielle Harris
Written By: Nick Damici & Jim Mickle
Directed By: Jim Mickle
Synopsis: After a plague turns America into a realm of vampires, a hunter (Nick Damici) of the depraved creatures travels cross-country with an orphan (Connor Paolo) he rescued, searching for a safe haven.
So, I thought for Fright Fest we were taking a look at vampire movies? I watched this film for the first time specifically for this review. I had heard amazing things about this movie, most of which I completely agree with. However, in my opinion, this IS NOT a vampire movie. This is a zombie apocalypse film. Yes, the creatures have fangs and are called vamps. Yes, this is a gruesome, tear you limb from limb kind of take on one of the most famous horror creatures that we know of. However, to me this isn’t about vampires. The creatures barely resemble anything like what we know. This could be good for some, but for me, it didn’t work. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Near Dark (1987)
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days, Zero Dark Thirty
Starring: Adrian Pasdar (Heroes, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Solarbabies), Jenny Wright (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Young Guns 2, Lawnmower Man), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead, Hard Target), Bill Paxton (Aliens, Frailty, Predator 2), Jennette Goldstein (Aliens, Terminator 2, Leathal Weapon 2), and Tim Thomerson (Dollman, Trancers Film Series)
Written By: Kathryn Bigelow (Blue Steel, The Loveless) and Eric Red (The Hitcher, Bad Moon, Body Parts)
Release Year: 1987
Growing up, my dad and I didn’t agree on many films. It might surprise one to know, but a preacher and his horror loving son aren’t going to have a lot in common when it comes to cinematic tastes, or much of anything really. Also, if you spell “Horror” a little different, that sentence takes on a whole new meaning, someone hit the rimshot sound effect for me. Despite the gulf between us, we did manage to connect on a handful of movies, The Last Starfighter¸ Enemy Mine, Predator, and the one you happen to be reading about right now, Near Dark. Maybe it was because the vampires didn’t act like the typical, supernatural vampires, maybe it’s because the western style distracted him from the fact he was watching a horror movie, or maybe he just liked it and I should stop analyzing why to better appreciate that we had one more movie to add to our very short list. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)
One thing horror fans love to do is debate which film marked what is historically known as The Decline of John Carpenter. Some believe it began with the final chapter of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, In the Mouth of Madness. Others waggle disdainful fingers at his comedy misstep, Memoirs of an Invisible Man. There’s never a right answer to speculation such as this, but one thing practically everyone agrees on is that Vampires does not belong in the conversation when discussing John Carpenter’s classics.
To a certain extent, it’s a salient point. Carpenter’s latter-day career has often been considered inferior by hardcore fans of the director, preferring to focus on his output during the 1980s. The 1990s were a time when Carpenter could have used a monster hit. Vampires wasn’t it, only recouping its $20 million production budget by a few hundred thousand dollars. General audiences were less than impressed, giving the film a Cinemascore grade of D+.
There’s a reason for this, but it may not be the one you’re expecting. That’s because Vampires isn’t a horror movie. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Thirst (2009)
(This review contains SPOILERS.)
In most bloodsucking horror fare, narcissism and vampirism make for logical bedfellows – after all, how wouldn’t immortality place a chip on the inheritor’s shoulder? Even characters as ingratiating as those in Daughters of Darkness hint at an egotism stemming from their ability to live life on their own terms. Whether narcissism is conveyed through a guise of modesty or grandiosity, it all boils down to one unified sentiment: “fuck you – I can do whatever I want.”
Park Chan-wook’s Thirst takes vampiric narcissism to unpredictable places. Three-quarters of the way through my most recent viewing, I jotted down “no likeable characters” in my notes – surprised that it had taken me that long to consciously notice. Perhaps it’s the clever metaphor of vampirism as a stand-in for human relationships – and the ecstasy and pain contained within – that, despite all the gory and surrealistic imagery on display, grounds the plot in a sense of reality. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Let The Right One In (2008)
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, & Peter Carlberg
Written By: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
Synopsis: When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.
I first saw Let The Right One In a little over a year ago. I had heard about it of course, the film received TONS of critical and audience acclaim from its festival runs and initial opening. It was kind of hard to not hear about this new vampire romance film that was (and in my opinion still is) generating quite a following. Unfortunately for the timing of this film’s release, another vampire romance story had been making waves with a much, much wider audience. Yes, I am referring to Twilight (2008). However, we are not here to discuss sparkling vampires. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonny Brugh, Ben Fransham, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Stu Rutherford
Written and Directed by: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
What We Do In The Shadows is a mocumentary about four vampires who live in a “flatting situation” in New Zealand, and it’s quite possibly the best vampire film in existence. It’s a comedy that mostly centres around friendship and the various bizarre issues experienced through life as a vampire. Each of the main characters is ingeniously based on familiar ‘vampire types’ in popular culture, and are styled and dressed according to the time period in which they were transformed. We have Petyr, an 8000 year-old ‘Nosferatu’ type, resembling Count Orlok. Viago is an 18th century dandy, similar to Louis and Lestat from Interview with the Vampire. Deacon was a Nazi vampire. Vladislav is based on Dracula (the Francis Ford Coppola version). Then we have Nick, who is turned into a vampire during ‘filming’, and is the self-professed ‘Twilight type’. The story centres on the group in their everyday life and leads up to ‘The Unholy Masquerade’, an exclusive supernatural ball. Along the way, we meet side characters such as other vampires, werewolves (“not swear wolves!”), familiars, victims, and Stu, Nick’s human friend. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
The blood is the life….
The movie starts with a tragedy. A suicide and the damning of a soul. How can a church whom the count fights for damn the soul of the woman he loves? Feeding from the blood of God’s precious child he becomes immortal, but at what cost? He lives centuries waiting to reclaim his love which it turns out is Wilhelmina Harker. Is this a love story or a horror story? Blood and wine and evil create a story that isn’t by the book of the same name. It is in my opinion more along the lines of Anne Rice with the love story. Is this saying that the movie isn’t good? No! Not at all! This is the movie that sealed my love for gothic horror and horror in general. Sadie Frost was possibly my first horror movie crush. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Lifeforce (1985)
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Dan O’ Bannon and Don Jakoby
Starring: Steve Railsback; Peter Firth; Aubrey Morris; Mathilda May; Patrick Stewart
After Poltergeist was released to critical and box office success in 1982, director Tobe Hooper was a hot commodity.* Having already established himself as a genre master with his debut film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the twisted backwoods horror Eaten Alive (which featured an early appearance by a very young Robert Englund), a superb television miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and the underappreciated (and unnervingly creepy) classic The Funhouse, his collaboration with Steven Spielberg seemed to set Hooper on a much deserved and long overdue transition into the mainstream spotlight. Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Dracula (1931)
Behold! Dracula, the movie that launched a twenty-three year progression of monster movies we call Universal Classics. Who could have predicted the success despite a rather tremendous stage career of not only the film but also the glowing eyed antagonist, Bela Lugosi? Dracula, the dashing, mysterious godfather of modern horror cinema, released at the Roxy Theater in New York City, on February 12, 1931. Even the cleverly crafted “fainting” rumors and “on-call” medical staff in the lobby orchestrated by nervous executives, hoping to induce some natural sense of morbid curiosity, was unnecessary. According to film historian Michael Fitzgerald, within the first 48 hours of Dracula’s release, the Roxy Theater had sold over 50,000 tickets. Horror had just become mainstream. Dracula’s acclaim paved the way for the other classics we’ve grown to love, our other Universal Studios Monsters, such as: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Wolfman, each owing their existence to the success of one film, even if said film wasn’t entirely all that great. There were some issues, on and off stage. But I think, by and large, the success, as it began at first, was due to the period in which the film released. Lets take a look back in time (key Twilight Zone theme). Continue Reading
Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: JASON X (2001).
There seems to be a reoccurring joke among horror fans. When a franchise goes to die, it goes to die in space. I’m not sure which franchise started it. Maybe when Critters went into outer space in Critters 4 (1991), or maybe it was Leprechaun 4 (1997)…but to be fair, this series died waaaaay before then. Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) went into space, however brief. And truth be told, that movie was pretty darn good. However the joke started it would seem a fan favorite amongst the slasher sub-genre ALSO decided to venture out into space. Friday the 13th part X upon their 10th film explored where no slasher had gone before. Now, to be clear, the movie was titled Jason X, just like with Jason Goes to Hell (as apposed to Friday the 13th part 9), due to a lack of property rights with Paramount. They were able to snag the characters, or character, but not the franchised title as a true Friday the 13th. Despite that, fans have pretty much just grouped them all together. Not caring for all the boring legality. With all that settled, lets get back to what we’re really here for. Was Jason X good? Or did the franchise die in space? Heaven help us, we’re going to find out together. Continue Reading
Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: FREDDY VS. JASON (2003)
[Probably some spoilers—like you give a fuck, bitch (Freddy voice)]
Okay, when this came out, I’d seen every film in the two series this was a crossover of. It would be hard to say which of the two had held up the most, and neither would qualify as serious horror properties by the time this came about. But by then that wasn’t really the point. Not for myself or most fans I knew, at least.
The first few films in each series (well, probably first one or two for Freddy) were pretty serious, dark horror films that happened to be about teenagers frolicking and getting horribly slaughtered. They both became somewhat tongue-in-cheek affairs the further they went on, then eventually each had a remake of some sort, and just before this crossover, Nightmare had what I felt was a very well done return to serious territory that was also “meta”-rrific and a step outside the canon. Craven himself directed that one, and it showed. Actually to this day the only one of these films I haven’t seen is the remake of Nightmare, but I’ve heard I really haven’t missed much. I personally even enjoyed the Friday the 13th sort-of remake reboot-ening, but only saw it once and wasn’t exactly sober, so be gentle.
So, Full Disclosure™—while I have love for both of these characters and properties, I personally would own up to landing pretty squarely in the Team Jason camp—Get It? ‘Camp’? We try to have fun here…
The real question, though, is: does this crossover live up to what people enjoy about each franchise and character and make for an enjoyable film on its own?
Well, heck-a-doodle-doo-doo-muh-bob-a-reeni—let’s find out what I thought, shall we? Continue Reading
Fright Fest 2018: Underworld (2003)
Directed by Len Wiseman
Written by Len Wiseman, Kevin Grevioux & Danny McBride
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy
The Gist: A war has been raging between vampires and lycans for centuries though there has been peace for many years until lycans come out of hiding once more. Selene, a vampire warrior, and daughter of one of the most powerful vampire lords, Viktor, finds herself in the middle of the war and a mystery when she meets Michael who is wanted by both sides. Continue Reading
October 10, 2018 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: blog, blogging, commentary, Feind Gottes, film, Fright Fest, Fright Fest 2018, guest contributor, Horror, horror movies, Movies, Reviews, violence | 2 Comments