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Herschell Gordon Lewis, the so-called "Godfather of Gore" who is widely credited with inventing the "splatter" sub-genre, has died. He was 87. During his brief career as a writer, director and producer of low-budget exploitation films, Lewis achieved infamy with titles like Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Wizard of Gore, the first of which is generally considered the first "splatter" film and was so reviled by critics on release in 1963 that Variety deemed it "an insult even to the most puerile and salacious of audiences." Nonetheless, the film's boundary-pushing nature made it a huge hit with audiences, leading to a new acceptance of onscreen gore and paving the way for more artful filmmakers like Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. Born June 15, 1929 in Pittsburgh, Lewis earned a master's degree in Journalism at Northwestern University and had a varied early career, working alternately as a college professor, TV commercial director and voiceover artist. »
- Chris Eggertsen
★★★★☆ Something of a forgotten gem, 1993's Matinee sits between Gremlins and Toy Soldiers in director Joe Dante's oeuvre. John Goodman steals the show as Lawrence Woolsey, a cigar-chomping director specialising in William Castle-esque theatrical gimmicks. Under the cloud of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he arrives in Key West, Florida to promote his latest atomic-themed B-movie. On paper, Woolsey is a cynical manipulator, exploiting people's well-founded fears about nuclear apocalypse to make a quick buck, but Goodman brings Woolsey to life with an endearing sincerity.
Directed by Joe Dante.
An enterprising film promoter capitalises on the hysteria during the Cuban missile crisis and introduces the idea of live props and special effects to a Florida town during a horror movie showing.
There is a theory that horror movies tend to thrive and become popular with mainstream audiences during times of social upheaval. Joe Dante’s Matinee is a comedy that has this idea at its core and, amongst other things, plays with the notions of horror movie making in a love letter to 1950s/1960s creature features and growing up during a time when everything seemed so much more innocent.
- Amie Cranswick
There’s the usual stockpile when we mention horror anthology TV series. Twilight Zone sits firmly on top for most, and then follows Outer Limits, Thriller, Tales from the Crypt, Masters of Horror, Night Gallery, and on and on. (The rankings are up to you.) And sometimes, way down in the pile of yellowed TV Guides lays one that time forgot (and Nielsen killed). Witness NBC’s Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1972), a one season and done series that provided solid stories well told over 23 episodes.
If the title seems confusing, it’s because it was known as Ghost Story for the first 13 episodes (plus pilot), and then Circle of Fear for the last 9. Low ratings prompted the name change, which proceeded when the show returned from the Christmas break. Rotund host Sebastian Cabot also didn’t survive the retooling.
- Scott Drebit
John Waters has made 16 films over the course of his nearly 50-year career, one of which has remained elusive for years: 1970’s “Multiple Maniacs.” Janus Films recently restored the cult icon’s second feature, and Waters spoke to us about the film’s re-release, the filmmakers of today he most admires and why he hasn’t directed in more than 10 years.
There’s a funny coincidence because our TV team is at the TCAs. NBC is promoting “Hairspray Live” as part of their upfronts. It’s like Must See TV for the Whole Family. Meanwhile, your “Multiple Maniacs” restoration is going to promote rosary jobs for a whole new generation. Is this your idea of a balanced life?
- Dana Harris
Tuesday, July 19th doesn’t boast a ton of new home entertainment choices for genre fans, but as the saying goes, sometimes it’s quality over quantity, and there are a few releases to be more than excited for. Scream Factory has put together a stellar Collector’s Edition release of The Return of the Living Dead and is also bringing Bad Moon home in HD as well.
Mill Creek has two William Castle double features arriving on Blu-ray this week, and Warner Home Video is giving Watchmen the 4K Ultra HD treatment with their new release of The Ultimate Cut, which I know a lot of fans have been looking forward to for a while now.
- Heather Wixson
Join me in the confines of my house on the hill, where every week I’ll be sharing with you a seemingly random review of a movie that’s come across my horror-nerd radar in the middle of the night. So come join my on the couch. It may give you some insight into the way our referential minds connect films, it may introduce you to something you never knew existed, or it may give you a rash that requires a 7-day ointment treatment. Or, maybe none of that matters in the end–because this is Arbitrary Cinema..
I Saw What You Did – Bluray Review
“William Castle warns you: This Picture Is About Uxoricide!”
Disclaimers like this regularly adorned the posters and lobby cards of master showman William Castle’s films. To boil him down to just “shlock” though, doesn’t give his legacy the due-justice it deserves. Sure, his »
- Josh Soriano
Having someone die watching your scary movie, while extremely sad, sometimes becomes the stuff of urban legends. And now horror maestro James Wan can add that dubious distinction to his resume. While the man-in-question's family probably doesn't appreciate the extra press in this time of mourning, it does bring an interesting tone to the hit horror sequel The Conjuring 2. Knowing that someone died while watching it certainly makes it a bit more creepy. Though all sympathies go out to the poor individual who didn't survive his time in the theater.
DNA India is reporting that an unidentified 65-year-old man from Andrah Pradesh, India, suffered a heart attack during The Conjuring 2. He passed away Thursday night during a late showing of the supernatural thriller. It is noted that the man in question had been staying in an ashram in Thiruvannmalai, Tamil Nadu. The report goes onto call it a »
“We used to go to the movies. Now we want the movies to come to us, on our televisions, tablets and phones, as streams running into an increasingly unnavigable ocean of media. The dispersal of movie watching across technologies and contexts follows the multiplexing of movie theaters, itself a fragmenting of the single screen theater where movie love was first concentrated and consecrated. (But even in the “good old days,” movies were often only part of an evening’s entertainment that came complete with vaudeville acts and bank nights). For all this, moviegoing still means what it always meant, joining a community, forming an audience and participating in a collective dream.” –
From the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s programming notes for its current series, “Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing”
Currently under way at the Billy Wilder Theater inside the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood, the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s far-reaching and fascinating series “Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing” takes sharp aim at an overview of how the movies themselves have portrayed the act of going out to see movies during these years of seismic change in the way we see them. What’s best about the collection of films curated for the series is its scope, which sweeps along from the anything-goes exhibition of the silent era, on through an examination of the opulent era of grandiose movie palaces and post-war audience predilection for exploitation pictures, and straight into an era—ours—of a certain nostalgia for the ways we used to exclusively gather in dark places to watch visions jump out at us from the big screen. (That nostalgia, as it turns out, is often colored by a rear-view perspective on the times which contextualizes it and sometimes gives it a bitter tinge.) As the program notes for the Marquee Movies series puts it, whether you’re an American moviegoer or one from France, Italy, Argentina or Taiwan, “the current sense of loss at the passing of an exhibition era takes its place in the ongoing history of cultural and industrial transformation reflected in these films.”
The series took its inaugural bow last Friday night with a rare 35mm screening of Matinee (1993), director Joe Dante and screenwriter Charlie Haas’s vividly imagined tribute to movie love during a time in Us history which lazy writers frequently like to describe as “the point when America lost its innocence” or some other such silliness. For Americans, and for a whole lot of other people the world over, those days in 1962 during what would come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis felt more like days when something a whole lot more tangible than “innocence” was about to be lost, what with the Us and Russia being on the brink of nuclear confrontation and all. The movie lays down this undercurrent of fear and uncertainty as the foundation which tints its main action, that of the arrival of exploitation movie impresario Laurence Woolsey (John Goodman, channeling producer and gimmick maestro William Castle) to Key West, Florida, to promote his latest shock show, Mant!, on the very weekend that American troops set to sea, ready to fire on Russian missile installments a mere 90 miles away in Cuba.
Woolsey’s hardly worried that his potential audience will be distracted the specter of annihilation; in fact, he’s energized by it, convinced that the free-floating anxiety will translate into box office dollars contributed by nervous kids and adults looking for a safe and scary good time, a disposal cinematic depository for all their worst fears. And it certainly doesn’t matter that Woolsey’s movie is a corny sci-fi absurdity-- all the better for his particular brand of enhancements. Mant!, a lovingly sculpted mash-up of 1950s hits like The Fly and Them!, benefits from “Atomo-vision,” which incorporates variants of Castle innovations like Emergo and Percepto, as well as “Rumble-rama,” a very crude precursor to Universal’s Oscar-winning Sensurround system. The movie’s Saturday afternoon screening is where Dante and Haas really let loose their tickled and twisted imaginations, with the help of Woolsey’s theatrical enhancements.
Leading up to the fearful and farcical unleashing of Mant!, Dante stages a beautifully understated sequence that moved me to tears when I saw it with my daughters last Friday night at the Billy Wilder Theater. Matinee is seen primarily through the eyes of young Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton), a military kid whose dad is among those waiting it out on nuclear-armed boats pointed in the direction of Cuba. Gene is a monster-movie nerd (and a clear stand-in for Dante, Haas and just about anybody—like me—whose primary biblical text was provided not by that fella in the burning bush but instead by Forrest J. Ackerman within the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland), and he manages to worm his way into Woolsey’s good graces as the producer prepares the local theater to show his picture. At one point he walks down the street in the company of the larger-than-life producer, who starts talking about his inspirations and why he makes the sort of movies he does:
“A zillion years ago, a guy’s living in a cave,” Woolsey expounds. “He goes out one day—Bam! He gets chased by a mammoth. Now, he’s scared to death, but he gets away. And when it’s all over with, he feels great.”
Gene, eager to believe but also to understand, responds quizzically-- “Well, yeah, ‘cause he’s still living.”
“Yeah, but he knows he is, and he feels it,” Woolsey counters. “So he goes home, back to the cave. First thing he does, he does a drawing of a mammoth.” (At this point the brick wall which the two of them are passing becomes a blank screen onto which Woolsey conjures an animated behemoth that entrances Gene and us.) Woolsey continues:
“He thinks, ‘People are coming to see this. Let’s make it good. Let’s make the teeth real long and the eyes real mean.’ Boom! The first monster movie. That’s probably why I still do it. You make the teeth as big as you want, then you kill it off, everything’s okay, the lights come up,” Woolsey concludes, ending his illustrative fantasy with a sigh.
But that’s not all, folks. At this point, Dante cuts to a Steadicam shot as it moves into the lobby hall of that Key West theater, past posters of Hatari!, Lonely are the Brave, Six Black Horses and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. The tracking shot continues up the stairs, letting us get a really close look at the worn, perhaps pungent carpet, most likely the same rug that was laid down when the theater opened 30 or so years earlier, into the snack bar area, then glides over to the closed swinging doors leading into the auditorium, while Woolsey continues:
“You see, the people come into your cave with the 200-year-old carpet, the guy tears your ticket in half—it’s too late to turn back now. The water fountain’s all booby-trapped and ready, the stuff laid out on the candy counter. Then you come over here to where it’s dark-- there could be anything in there—and you say, ‘Here I am. What have you got for me?’”
Forget nostalgia for a style of moviegoing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more compact, evocative and heartfelt tribute to the space in which we used to see movies than those couple of minutes in Matinee. The shot and the narration work so vividly together that I swear I could whiff the must underlying that carpet, papered over lovingly with the smell of popcorn wafting through the confined space of that tiny snack bar, just as if I was a kid again myself, wandering into the friendly confines of the Alger Theater in Lakeview, Oregon (More on that place next week.)
Dante’s movie is a romp, no doubt, but its nostalgia is a heartier variety than what we usually get, and it leaves us with an undercurrent of uneasiness that is unusual for a genre most enough content to look back through amber. Woolsey’s words resonate for every youngster who has searched for reasons to explain their attraction to the scary side of cinema and memories of the places where those images were first encountered, but in Matinee there’s another terror with which to contend, one not so easily held at bay.
Of course the real world monster of the movie— the bomb— was also, during that weekend in 1962 and in Matinee’s representation of the missile crisis, “killed off,” making “everything okay.” But Dante makes us understand that while calm has been momentarily restored, something deeper has been forever disturbed. The movie acknowledges the societal disarray which was already under way in Vietnam, and the American South, and only months away from spilling out from Dallas and onto the greater American landscape in a way so much less containable than even the radiative effects of a single cataclysmic event. That awareness leaves Matinee with a sorrowful aftertaste that is hard to shake. The movie’s last image, of our two main characters gathered on the beach, greeting helicopters that are flying home from having hovered at the precipice of nuclear destruction, is one of relief for familial unity restored—Gene is, after all, getting his dad back. But it’s also one of foreboding. Dante leaves us with an extreme close-up of a copter looming into frame, absent even the context of the sky, bearing down on us like a real-life mutant creature, an eerie bellwether of political and societal chaos yet to come as a stout companion to the movie’s general air of celebratory remembrance.
The “Marquee Movies” series has already seen Matinee (last Friday night), Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) paired with Polish director Wojciech Marczewski’s 1990 Escape from Liberty Island (last Saturday night), and Ettore Scola’s masterful Splendor (1989), which screened last Sunday night.
But there’s plenty more to come. Sunday, June 12, the archive series unveils a double bill of Lloyd Bacon’s Footlight Parade (1933) with the less well-known This Way, Please (1937), a terrific tale of a star-struck movie theater usherette with dreams of singing and dancing just like the stars she idolizes, starring Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Betty Grable, Jim Jordan, Marian Jordan and the brilliantly grizzled Ned Sparks.
Wednesday, June 15, you can see Uruguay’s A Useful Life (2010), in which a movie theater manager in Montevideo faces up the fact that the days of his beloved movie theater are numbered, paired up with Luc Moullet’s droll account of the feud between the French film journals Cahiers du Cinema and Positif, entitled The Seats of the Alcazar (1989).
One of my favorites, Tsai Ming-liang’s haunting Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) gets a rare projection at the Wilder on Sunday, June 19, along with Lisandsro Alonzo’s Fantasma (2006), described by the archive as “a hypnotic commentary on cinematic rituals and presence.”
Saturday afternoon, June 25, “Marquee Movies” presents a rare screening of Gregory La Cava’s hilarious slapstick spoof of rural moviegoing, His Nibs (1921), paired up with what I consider, alongside Matinee and Goodbye, Dragon Inn, one of the real jewels of the series, Basil Dearden’s marvelously funny The Smallest Show on Earth (1957), all about what happens when a newlywed couple inherits a rundown cinema populated by a staff of eccentrics that include Margaret Rutherford and Peter Sellers. (More on that one next week.)
(Each program also features a variety of moviegoing-oriented shorts, trailers and other surprises. Click the individual links for details and show times.)
(Next week: My review of The Smallest Show on Earth and a remembrance of my own hometown movie theater, which closed in 2015.)
- Dennis Cozzalio
For those of you looking to live a bit more deliciously, May 17th is certainly going to be your day, because Robert Eggers’ The Witch is finally making its way onto Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday. Scream Factory also has two releases that genre fans will certainly want to keep an eye on this week: William Castle’s cult classic I Saw What You Did and the recent thriller Dementia, which stars The Sacrament’s Gene Jones. The killer anthology Southbound is also coming to DVD on Tuesday, and Universal has several four-title collections that might be worth your time as well.
A simple prank call turns into a night of person-to-person terror in I Saw What You Did, a movie that dials up the suspense.
Teenagers Libby and Kit have found a new way to entertain themselves: by calling »
- Heather Wixson
Two teenagers pick the wrong person to prank call in I Saw What You Did (1965), hitting high-definition on home media this Tuesday from Scream Factory, and we’ve been provided with three Blu-ray copies to give away to Daily Dead readers.
Prize Details: (3) Winners will receive (1) Blu-ray copy of I Saw What You Did.
How to Enter: For a chance to win, email email@example.com with the subject “I Saw What You Did Contest”. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Entry Details: The contest will end at 12:01am Est on May 22nd. This contest is only open to those who are eighteen years of age or older that live in the United States. Only one entry per household will be accepted.
From the Press Release: “It starts as a game… and there’s no end in Fright! A simple prank call turns into a night »
- Derek Anderson
From the Press Release: “It starts as a game… and there’s no end in Fright! A simple prank call turns into a night of person-to-person terror in I Saw What You Did, a movie that dials up the heart-stopping suspense! Scream Factory presents the Blu-ray debut of William Castle’s I Saw What You Did on May 17th, 2016, complete with an all-new high definition transfer.
Teenagers Libby and Kit have found a new way to entertain themselves: by calling up random strangers and tormenting them with a warning: “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.” But when a man who has recently murdered his wife becomes their latest victim, the tables are quickly turned… »
- Tamika Jones
The horror genre has always been home to good old fashioned hucksterism. William Castle would rig theaters with flying skeletons and install seats that “shocked” the audience. Alfred Hitchock famously declared that those who were late to Psycho would be denied admittance. Even the 2013 remake of Evil Dead got in on the action with one […]
The post ‘The Woods’ Trailer Boldly Claims to Represent One of the Scariest Movies Ever Made appeared first on /Film. »
- Jacob Hall
William Castle’s 13 Ghosts (1960), 13 Frightened Girls, Homicidal, and Mr. Sardonicus are coming to Blu-ray in two double features from Mill Creek Entertainment! Both double bills will be released on July 5th.
From Mill Creek Entertainment: “13 Ghosts (1960) – B&W – 85 minutes – Not Rated
When an eccentric uncle wills a huge, ramshackle house to his impoverished family, they get the shock of a lifetime. Their new residence comes complete with a spooky housekeeper, plus a fortune in buried treasure and 12 horrifying ghosts.”
13 Frightened Girls (1963) – Color – 88 minutes – Not Rated
The girls of a Swiss boarding school have one thing in common — they are all daughters of diplomats. One in particular finds out that she has a knack for espionage, and uncovers the murder of a Russian diplomat. Now she »
- Tamika Jones
In this episode of Off The Shelf, Ryan and Brian take a look at the new DVD and Blu-ray releases for Tuesday, April 12th 2016.
Subscribe in iTunes or RSS.
Follow-Up Star Wars: Rogue One trailer / Rebels News Arrow Video: The Swinging Cheerleaders, Crimes of Passion, Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection, + Blood and Black Lace (Us only) & Satan’s Blade (UK Only). Arrow Academy: Effi Briest, Fox and His Friends, The Ox-Bow Incident Criterion: McCabe & Mrs. Miller Kino Lorber: One Million Years B.C., Cry of the City Shout Factory: Death Wish II (w/ Unrated cut) Twilight Time: July & August Line-up and Sale Mill Creek: 2 William Castle Double Features Universal: Black Dog Links to Amazon A Prayer for the Dying Bride of Re-Animator Chato’s Land Cutter’s Way Destroyer / Edge of Sanity Heroes Reborn: Event Series In the French Style It Follows Julia Justice League »
- Ryan Gallagher
Scream Factory’s April lineup is currently kicking ass, with the release of The Hallow and the upcoming Village Of The Damned and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 releases, and now it looks like May will be pretty great as well. Quite the variety, May’s lineup is filled with the Patty Duke-led family horror film, You’LL Like My Mother hitting Bluray on the 10th and the Gene Jones (The Sacrament)/Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) thriller, Dementia, hitting shelves on May 17th, the same with the William Castle-helmed Joan Crawford shocker, I Saw What You Did. Want the full details? Read on!
Why did they fear Francesca’s baby? When her husband is killed in Vietnam, Francesca Kinsolving (Duke) finds herself alone… and pregnant. She makes her way to Minnesota in order to meet her late husband’s mother, certain that she’ll be greeted with open arms. »
- Jerry Smith
Dial “F” for Fright. When two teens prank call a man who, unbeknownst to them, has committed a heinous crime, a night of fun turns into a night of terror. Scream Factory will release William Castle’s I Saw What You Did on Blu-ray with a high-definition transfer on May 17th.
Press Release: It starts as a game… and there’s no end in Fright! A simple prank call turns into a night of person-to-person terror in I Saw What You Did, a movie that dials up the heart-stopping suspense! Scream Factory presents the Blu-ray debut of William Castle’s I Saw What You Did on May 17th, 2016, complete with an all-new high definition transfer.
- Tamika Jones
Scream Factory is great at digging up gems from cinema past, and they’ve got a couple of classics coming in May, including one of William Castle’s finest… On May 10th we’ll be getting the little seen thriller You’ll Like My… Continue Reading →
- Steve Barton
William Castle classic coming in May from Scream Factory. The Godfather of Gimmick, the late producer, director and genre movie visionary William Castle was at his creative peak throughout the 1960s, culminating in his production of Roman Polanski’s U.S. breakthrough, 1968’s Rosemary’S Baby. But prior to that, Castle marauded through the decade making stuff…
- Chris Alexander
New York welcomes its first 4Dx cinema – one of just two in the Us – where films such as Batman v Superman are enhanced by shaking seats, wind, and scents
Over the past five years, New York City has become a playground for fans of immersive theater. In these often rewarding experiences, viewers step into the world of the play and are asked to participate in strange and unique ways. Audience members watch as Macbeth conspires with Lady Macbeth at Sleep No More, and sip tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter at Then She Fell. But though New York is overstuffed with movie theaters, both first run and repertory, there’s been nothing comparable to the immersive theater experience for film fanatics – until now. On 25 March, the Regal Cinemas at Union Square will open the first 4Dx theater on the east coast, one of only two in the Us. Having »
- Adam Baran in New York
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