16 items from 2017
The basic trait that makes Halloween’s Michael Myers scary is the mystery that surrounds him. He barely ever makes noises, he covers his face with a mask, and he’s always able to shrug off whatever Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence throw at him. Because of all of that, he seems like a human guy who should have some sort of exploitable weakness, but he’s such an emotionless brick wall that it’s impossible to figure out what that weakness is. Later movies in the Halloween series spoiled that by making him into a supernatural killing machine who literally cannot be stopped, but Danny McBride says the Halloween movie he’s co-writing with David Gordon Green will ditch all of that unrealistic bullshit.
In an interview on the Empire podcast (via io9), McBride explained that they’re going to “strip [Halloween] down and just take it back ...
- Sam Barsanti
Directed by Dario Argento.
A teenage girl with telepathic abilities moves to a Swiss boarding school and uses her gift to communicate with insects in order to solve a spate of murders.
If something is worth doing then it is worth doing more than once, and so Italian horror maestro Dario Argento begins another movie with a young woman arriving at an exclusive school in a foreign country just as strange events begin to occur. 1977 saw this approach set up Argento’s spooky masterpiece Suspiria and he used it again in 1985 for Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers in the Us) as actor’s daughter Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly – Labyrinth) arrives at a very expensive Swiss boarding school during a troubled time for the locals as a killer is on the loose. However, the »
- Amie Cranswick
A forgotten oddity from the early 1970s is Jacques Demy’s English language mounting of The Pied Piper, a rather bleak but mostly unequivocal version of the famed Grimm Bros. fairy tale about a titular piper who infamously lured the children of Hamelin to their assumed deaths after being rebuffed by the townsfolk when he similarly rid the town of plague carrying rats.
Set in the 1300s of northern Germany, this UK production blends bits of Robert Browning’s famed poem of the legend into the film, but the end result is unusually straightforward and unfussy, considering Demy’s predilection for inventive, colorful musicals, such as the classic confections The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort. The stunt casting of Donovan as the piper generates a certain amount of interest, although he’s whittled down to a supporting character amongst a cast of master character actors like Donald Pleasence, John Hurt, Peter Vaughan, and child star Jack Wild.
Notably, The Pied Piper is one of the few Demy films not to be built around a strong, beautiful female lead, which may also explain why there’s no center point in the film. Cathryn Harrison (daughter of Rex, who starred in Louis Malle’s Black Moon) and a gone-to-seed Diana Dors (though not featured as memorably as her swarthy turn in Skolimowski’s Deep End) are the tiny flecks of feminine representation. It was also not Demy’s first English language production, as he’d made a sequel to his New Wave entry Lola (1961) with 1969’s Los Angeles set Model Shop. So what compelled him to make this departure, which premiered in-between two of his most whimsical Catherine Deneuve titles (Donkey Skin; A Slightly Pregnant Man) is perhaps the film’s greatest mystery.
Cultural familiarity with the material tends to work against our expectations. At best, Donovan is a mere supporting accent, popping up to supply mellow, anachronistic music at odd moments before the dramatic catalyst involving his ability to conjure rats with music arrives. Prior to his demeaning, Demy’s focus is mostly on the omnipotent and aggressive power of the corrupting church (Peter Vaughan’s Bishop) and Donald Pleasence’s greedy town leader, whose son (a sniveling John Hurt) is more intent on starting wars and making counterfeit gold to pay his gullible minions than stopping the encroaching plague. Taking the brunt of their violence is the Jewish alchemist, Melius (Michael Hordern), who is wise enough to know the rats have something to do with the spread of the disease. Demy uses his tragic demise to juxtapose the piper’s designs on the children.
While Hurt and Pleasance are entertaining as a toxic father and son, Demy seems estranged from anyone resembling a protagonist. Donovan is instantly forgettable, and the H.R. Pufnstuf and Oliver! child star Jack Wild gets upstaged by a wild mop of hair and a pronounced limp (which explains why he isn’t entranced along with the other children), and the film plays as if Donovan’s role might have been edited down in post. The script was the debut of screenwriters Andrew Birkin (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, 2006) and Mark Peploe (The Passenger, 1975; The Last Emperor, 1987) who would both go on to write a number of offbeat auteur entries.
Kino Lorber releases this obscurity as part of their Studio Classics label, presented in 1.66:1. Picture and sound quality are serviceable, however, the title would have greatly benefitted from a restoration. Dp Peter Suschitzky’s frames rightly capture the period, including some awesomely creepy frescoes housing Pleasence and son, but the color sometimes seems faded or stripped from some sequences. Kino doesn’t include any extra features.
More of a curio piece for fans of Demy, The Pied Piper mostly seems a missed opportunity of the creepy legend.
Film Review: ★★½/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc Review: ★★★/☆☆☆☆☆
The post The Pied Piper | Blu-ray Review appeared first on Ioncinema.com. »
- Nicholas Bell
Yvonne Monlaur: Cult horror movie actress & Bond Girl contender was featured in the 1960 British classics 'Circus of Horrors' & 'The Brides of Dracula.' Actress Yvonne Monlaur dead at 77: Best remembered for cult horror classics 'Circus of Horrors' & 'The Brides of Dracula' Actress Yvonne Monlaur, best known for her roles in the 1960 British cult horror classics Circus of Horrors and The Brides of Dracula, died of cardiac arrest on April 18 in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Monlaur was 77. According to various online sources, she was born Yvonne Thérèse Marie Camille Bédat de Monlaur in the southwestern town of Pau, in France's Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, on Dec. 15, 1939. Her father was poet and librettist Pierre Bédat de Monlaur; her mother was a Russian ballet dancer. The young Yvonne was trained in ballet and while still a teenager became a model for Elle magazine. She was “discovered” by newspaper publisher-turned-director André Hunebelle, »
- Andre Soares
What if the name is more than an homage?
Homage is rampant in the film industry. Writers and directors are always giving little nods to the films or filmmakers they admire in the form of plot points, lines of dialogue, or especially character names. Take John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween, in which the character played by Donald Pleasance, that of Michael Myers’ psychiatrist, is named “Dr. Sam Loomis.” This would seem to be an obvious and in fact blatant reference to the character of “Sam Loomis” from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, especially since the star of Halloween is Jamie Leigh Curtis who, of course, is the real-life daughter of Janet Leigh, imperiled heroine of Psycho.
- H. Perry Horton
Next stop, cannibalism! The subway tunnels below London are home to flesh-eating horrors in Death Line, aka Raw Meat, and Blue Underground has revealed the release date and special features for their Blu-ray / DVD 2K Collector's Edition restoration of the 1972 horror film starring Donald Pleasence.
From Blue Underground: "When a prominent politician and a beautiful young woman vanish inside a London subway station, Scotland Yard’s Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence of Halloween) investigates and makes a horrifying discovery. Not only did a group of 19th century tunnel workers survive a cave-in, but they lived for years in a secret underground enclave by consuming the flesh of their own dead. Now the lone descendant of this grisly tribe has surfaced, prowling the streets for fresh victims… »
- Derek Anderson
An update of John Carpenter's Escape From New York has been threatened several times over the course of a decade, initially with Gerard Butler planning to wear the eye-patch as iconic badass Snake Plissken. Directors like Len Wiseman, Brett Ratner and Breck Eisner briefly sat in the director's chair before departing. Those early attempts ultimately crashed like Donald Pleasance's plane,... Read More »
- Dave Davis
Author: Zehra Phelan
Anyone sick of remakes or talk of remakes yet? Well hold on to your eye-patches… Yet another cult classic is set for a 21st-century injection of life and this time in the form of John Carpenter’s 1981 dystopian action caper Escape from New York with Robert Rodriguez set to take the helm.
The original, which was co-written and directed by John Carpenter in the mid-1970s as a reaction to the Watergate scandal, was set in the then near future of 1997 in a crime-ridden New York, which saw the whole of Manhattan Island transformed into a maximum security prison. Kurt Russell, who will play Ego the Living Planet in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, clad in a sexy black vest, eye-patch and sporting solder length flowing locks, played ex-soldier, Snake Plissken, a man on a 24-hour mission to find the President of the United States. »
- Zehra Phelan
We haven't heard much about the Escape from New York remake since Fox picked up the rights to reboot the franchise back in early 2015, but now it's being reported that Robert Rodriguez is in talks to take the directing reins on the project.
According to THR, Rodriguez (Planet Terror, From Dusk Till Dawn) is in discussions to direct the Escape from New York remake for 20th Century Fox, with John Carpenter—the director of the original film and its 1996 sequel (Escape from L.A.)—on board as an executive producer with considerable creative input on the project (he's also doing something similar in the Michael Myers franchise by executive producing the new Halloween movie). On Facebook, Carpenter shared his excitement for Rodriguez's potential involvement, writing, "I am thrilled. He is a great director."
- Derek Anderson
Fox is targeting summer for the start of production, with Michael Ireland overseeing the film. The project has been in the works at the studio since 2015, when Fox obtained the remake rights to “Escape From New York,” starring Kurt Russell as “Snake” Plissken. StudioCanal sold the rights to Fox, which topped several bids.
The original “Escape From New York,” released in 1981, took place in a dystopian 1997 Manhattan after it had been turned into a maximum security prison. The story centered on Plissken being recruited to rescue the U.S. president (played by »
- Dave McNary
David’s Quick Take for the tl;dr Media Consumer:
Mr. Freedom begins with a wail of sirens as Chicago cops swarm in to crack the skulls of rioters and looters. It ends with a catastrophic explosion that levels a city block in Paris and mutilates the body of the movie’s titular hero. In between all that, against a backdrop of Cold War intrigue and superpower paranoia run amok, we see scenes involving overt racist mockery, rape as a spectator sport, sacrilege, poisoning, prostitution, assassination, the sexist degradation of women and a pervasive attitude of unmitigated cynicism and ridicule toward the aspirations of the USA as a bulwark of liberty, democracy and decency against the forces of tyranny and oppression around the world. All the necessary ingredients for a robust satirical take-down of good old fashioned patriotism, American-style! The politics are radical, the humor is often guttural, and the »
- David Blakeslee
It starts with the music, which rises as the screen fades from black to reveal the sinister orange glow of the credits and a leering jack o’ lantern. The rapid, staccato piano notes indicating an oppressive force at work; relentless and unforgiving. John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is about all of these sensations and more; concrete vibrations that have echoed through the halls of horror, resounding from time to time to remind audiences of its lasting influence and potency.
By now, most know the story of how Halloween came to be and the landmark it truly is. How producer Irwin Yablans approached Carpenter about doing a horror film after seeing his Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), and wanted it to revolve around babysitters; how the film was initially panned by major critics, and then re-evaluated once it started to become popular; how it ended up making over $70 million worldwide at the box office against a $325,000 budget, »
- Scott Drebit
Roman Polanski’s taste for dark absurdist comedy is in full swing in 1966 comedy-thriller Cul-De-Sac. It’s his second English-language film, sandwiched between Repulsion and Fearless Vampire Killers. Compared with his towering classics (and there are a few) it is slight, but even minor Polanski is a joy to watch.
Especially with a setup like this. We open with Dickey (Lionel Stander, the spit of Ernest Borgnine) and Albie (Jack MacGowran), their car sputtering along the Northumberland coast. Albie is dying from a gunshot wound, so Dickey heads off for help, and finds himself on a coastal island, in a castle owned by George (Donald Pleasence) and his glamorous wife Teresa (Françoise Dorléac).
So begins a strange semi-hostage relationship between the very American gangsters and the gentle married couple. »
- Rupert Harvey
Both Evil Ed and Brain Damage will be released on Blu-ray in the Us and the UK this May, and you can check out the impressive lists of bonus features below, as well as the eye-popping cover art for the releases.
A veritable smorgasbord of flying limbs, exploding heads, busty babes and creepy creatures!
Pre-order your copy via Arrow: http://bit.ly/2kRcxF2
Pre-order via Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2kRgU2Y
North American pre-orders links should be live soon!
Release Dates: 29/30 May
When His Mind Blows, »
- Derek Anderson
“Why don’t you call your Insects! Go On! Call! Call!”
Hi-Def Ninja is proud to present Phenomena in their 2nd Black Label Horror Line Series. In conjunction with Synapse Films; Hi-Def Ninja has created special packaging to house the Blu-ray SteelBook Edition that includes a Blu-ray Slipbox that features art from modern illustrators Quiltface Studios and The Dark Inker as well as Screen Printed Art Cards and a bonus collector’s coin.
Hi-Def Ninja’s site can be found Here
Hi-Def Ninja’s store can be found Here
One of legendary filmmaker Dario Argento’s most shocking and fantastic films is finally available on Blu-ray in the U.S. in an amazing new release from Synapse Films! Released in the U.S. as Creepers by New Line Cinema, 1985’s Phenomena is has long been one of Argento’s »
- Tom Stockman
If you are new to the works of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, Phenomena (1985) is as good a place as any to start. It practically plays like a ‘greatest hits’ of all his virtues, and more than a few of his vices. And for the Argento veteran, it’s a gas for those very same reasons – by combining so many elements from his other films he’s created his most bizarre feature to date – no mean feat. When I need five alarm Dario, I throw on Phenomena.
Released in his homeland in January, Phenomena was picked up by New Line Cinema, chopped all to hell (27 minutes cut!), and released stateside in August under the new title Creepers. Did it do well? Of course not. Argento has always been a cult artist in North America; revered by the horror press and some fans at the time, the Cult of Dario has »
- Scott Drebit
16 items from 2017
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