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The importance of cats in horror cinema

Mark Harrison Oct 31, 2017

Want to enhance your horror movie? Make sure you sign up a cat...

This feature contains broad spoilers for several horror movies featuring cats, including Alien, Cat People, Drag Me To Hell, Fallen, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Pet Sematary and The Voices.

The relationship between humans and cats over time has given way to a number of cultural impressions and outright superstitions. Ancient Egyptians associated them with gods. In the Middle Ages, they were linked with witches and killed en masse, which probably hastened the spread of the Black Plague through the rodent population. And in the modern day, it's interchangeably lucky or not if a black cat crosses your path.

Like anything with such a wide array of symbolic links, movies have presented cats as characters in different ways over the years. It's their abiding association with the supernatural – whether as an omen
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It Came From The Tube: Satan’S School For Girls (1973)

  • DailyDead
Warning: if you’re not a Kate Jackson fan, today’s column may not work in your favor. Plus, we probably shouldn’t hang out. I first fell in love with Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) when I was six. At the time, she was starring on Charlie’s Angels, along with Farrah Blah-Blah and Jaclyn What’s Her Name, but I think maybe I liked Kate best. Her long black hair, radiant smile, and raspy sing song drawl mesmerized me for the remainder of that show’s run. But for fans of horror, Kate worked with Dan Curtis on Dark Shadows, before landing one of the leads in Satan’s School for Girls (1973), producer Aaron Spelling’s venture into one of the ‘70s greatest capitalist ventures, Satanic Panic. It’s a fun romp; and spoiler alert - Kate is great in it. (She’s just the most, don’t you think?
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Our Mother’s House

Jack Clayton’s 1967 film is a one-of-a-kind gothic-drama about a steely band of children who keep the news of their mother’s death a secret rather than be dispersed to an orphanage. Skirting the edge of horror, the movie is more melancholy and suspenseful than scary with superb performances from Pamela Franklin and Dirk Bogarde as the sinister intruder who threatens their desperate plan. Directed by Jack Clayton (The Innocents and The Pumpkin Eater) and with a screenplay co-written by the beautiful Israeli actress Haya Harareet (Esther in 1959’s Ben-Hur).
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Drive-In Dust Offs: The Food Of The Gods (1976)

  • DailyDead
Sometimes in horror, a giant creature will do. It takes us back to a simpler time, I think. A time when an oversized spider, or a massive lizard sparked shuttered eyes at the Drive-In or local theatre. It feels almost like a cleansing; a reset of the scare-o-meter back to the innocent levels of the Saturday matinee. And if you were a kid in the ‘70s, Bert I. Gordon’s The Food of the Gods (1976) fit the bill nicely.

Released in June by Aip stateside, and then rolled out across the world in ’77, Food brought in $1 million at the gate (good revenue by Aip standards) and the reviews were, not surprisingly, as low grade as the budget. But hey, legendary schlockmeister Gordon did not survive the biz on good copy. And what kind of reviews would you expect from a movie that features giant chickens, gargantuan rats, and Marjoe Gortner?
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Day of the Dead Movie List: Top 5 Most Freakish Living Dead, Undead, and Ghosts

Hell's Kitchen: Soul stew image likely from the 1922 Benjamin Christensen horror classic 'Häxan / Witchcraft Through the Ages.' Day of the Dead post: Cinema's Top Five Scariest Living Dead We should all be eternally grateful to the pagans, who had the foresight to come up with many (most?) of the overworked Western world's religious holidays. Thanks to them, besides Easter, Christmas, New Year's, and possibly Mardi Gras (a holiday in some countries), we also have Halloween, All Saints' Day, and the Day of Dead. The latter two are public holidays in a number of countries with large Catholic populations. Since today marks the end of the annual Halloween / All Saints' Day / Day of the Dead celebrations, I'm posting my revised and expanded list of the movies' Top Five Scariest Living Dead. Of course, by that I don't mean the actors listed below were dead when the movies were made.
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200 Greatest Horror Films (20-11)

  • SoundOnSight

20. The Innocents

Directed by Jack Clayton

Written by William Archibald and Truman Capote

UK, 1961

Genre: Hauntings

The Innocents, which was co-written by Truman Capote, is the first of many screen adaptations of The Turn of the Screw. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad because most people haven’t – but The Innocents deserves its rightful spot on any list of great horror films. Here is one of the few films where the ghost story takes place mostly in daylight, and the lush photography, which earned cinematographer Freddie Francis one of his two Oscar wins, is simply stunning. Meanwhile, director Jack Clayton and Francis made great use of long, steady shots, which suggest corruption is lurking everywhere inside the grand estate. The Innocents also features three amazing performances; the first two come courtesy of child actors Pamela Franklin (The Legend of Hell House), and Martin Stephens (Village of the Damned
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12 Classic British Horror Films You Need To See

United Artists

When it comes to British horror films, you’ve hopefully already seen the likes of 28 Days Later, The Descent and Mum & Dad. Maybe you’ve watched The Zombie Diaries, Eden Lake and Panic Button (if you haven’t, you should address that immediately).

As anyone of a certain vintage will inform you, Britain has a rich horror heritage, and there’s much more to the genre than Dracula and Frankenstein. There’s Witchfinder General, with Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins, a real-life prosecutor of witches, plus The Blood On Satan’s Claw, about 17th Century devil worshippers. And that’s just for starters.

Even if we eschewed Hammer and restricted ourselves to the “old school” horror actors (Price, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasance), the list would include Madhouse, Death Line, Theatre Of Blood and House Of The Long Shadows, among others. Again, not too shabby.

There are, of course,
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Watch: Truman Capote Twisted Henry James into a Southern Gothic for 'The Innocents'

Watch: Truman Capote Twisted Henry James into a Southern Gothic for 'The Innocents'
Jack Clayton’s masterpiece, one of the greatest cinematic ghost stories, is ill-served by this lowbrow trailer that sells it like a cheap Eurotrash import. Although not a commercial success at the time, it has since been hailed as one of the best British films of the 1960s, with a powerhouse performance by Deborah Kerr as the frightened, possibly deranged governess.Her chilling charges are played by Martin Stephens and, in her film debut at 11 years of age, Pamela Franklin.
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The Innocents

Jack Clayton's masterpiece, one of the greatest cinematic ghost stories, is ill-served by this lowbrow trailer that sells it like a cheap Eurotrash import. Although not a commercial success at the time, it has since been hailed as one of the best British films of the 1960s, with a powerhouse performance by Deborah Kerr as the frightened, possibly deranged governess.Her chilling charges are played by Martin Stephens (Village Of The Damned) and, in her film debut at 11 years of age, Pamela Franklin
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Oscar-Nominated Actor Biggest Professional Regret: Turning Down 'Doctor Who'

Ron Moody in Mel Brooks' 'The Twelve Chairs.' The 'Doctor Who' that never was. Ron Moody: 'Doctor Who' was biggest professional regret (See previous post: "Ron Moody: From Charles Dickens to Walt Disney – But No Harry Potter.") Ron Moody was featured in about 50 television productions, both in the U.K. and the U.S., from the late 1950s to 2012. These included guest roles in the series The Avengers, Gunsmoke, Starsky and Hutch, Hart to Hart, and Murder She Wrote, in addition to leads in the short-lived U.S. sitcom Nobody's Perfect (1980), starring Moody as a Scotland Yard detective transferred to the San Francisco Police Department, and in the British fantasy Into the Labyrinth (1981), with Moody as the noble sorcerer Rothgo. Throughout the decades, he could also be spotted in several TV movies, among them:[1] David Copperfield (1969). As Uriah Heep in this disappointing all-star showcase distributed theatrically in some countries.
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Good and Bad War-Themed Movies on Veterans Day on TCM

Veterans Day movies on TCM: From 'The Sullivans' to 'Patton' (photo: George C. Scott in 'Patton') This evening, Turner Classic Movies is presenting five war or war-related films in celebration of Veterans Day. For those outside the United States, Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which takes place in late May. (Scroll down to check out TCM's Veterans Day movie schedule.) It's good to be aware that in the last century alone, the U.S. has been involved in more than a dozen armed conflicts, from World War I to the invasion of Iraq, not including direct or indirect military interventions in countries as disparate as Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. As to be expected in a society that reveres people in uniform, American war movies have almost invariably glorified American soldiers even in those rare instances when they have dared to criticize the military establishment.
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Top 100 Horror Movies: How Truly Horrific Are They?

Top 100 horror movies of all time: Chicago Film Critics' choices (photo: Sigourney Weaver and Alien creature show us that life is less horrific if you don't hold grudges) See previous post: A look at the Chicago Film Critics Association's Scariest Movies Ever Made. Below is the list of the Chicago Film Critics's Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time, including their directors and key cast members. Note: this list was first published in October 2006. (See also: Fay Wray, Lee Patrick, and Mary Philbin among the "Top Ten Scream Queens.") 1. Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock; with Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam. 2. The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin; with Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow (and the voice of Mercedes McCambridge). 3. Halloween (1978) John Carpenter; with Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Tony Moran. 4. Alien (1979) Ridley Scott; with Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt. 5. Night of the Living Dead (1968) George A. Romero; with Marilyn Eastman,
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Review: The Legend of Hell House (Blu-ray)

  • DailyDead
Despite the fact that it was released over 40 years ago, John Hough’s The Legend of Hell House still remains one of the greatest and most effective haunted house films ever committed to celluloid. Based on Richard Matheson’s screen adaptation of his own novel, Hough’s production offers very little in the way of explicit violence and gore. Instead, the British filmmaker smartly relies on minor in-camera special effects, a pulsating sense of atmosphere and dread, as well as a stellar cast of players to bring his terrifying vision to life, making The Legend of Hell House a timeless horror classic that’s still terrifying to watch.

In The Legend of Hell House, a team of parapsychologists and scientific investigators descend upon Hell House (the “Mount Everest of Haunted Houses”) to determine whether or not there is life after death and if the now abandoned home serves as the
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Eraserhead and The Innocents Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

Criterion has released two classics of gothic black and white horror with Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and David Lynch’s Eraserhead now joining their collection. The former is a brilliant adaptation of Henry JamesThe Turn of the Screw, while the latter is one of the most singular experiences in cinema history, a film that became a perennial midnight movie for a very good reason. Criterion is celebrating Halloween this year in style, and my review of both films on Blu-ray follows after the jump. Deborah Kerr stars as Miss Giddens, who is hired by The Uncle (Michael Redgrave) to tend to his niece and nephew, who have been under his care (but not in his house) since their parents died a long time ago. She’s never been a governess before, and she’s coming into this job under odd circumstances: the previous governess died suddenly. She gets
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Scream Factory Announces The Food of the Gods / Frogs Double Feature Blu-ray

  • DailyDead
“Shocktober” continues with Scream Factory announcing two more titles they will be bringing to Blu-ray next year: 1976’s The Food of the Gods and 1972’s Frogs. The former (loosely based on an H. G. Wells novel) sees a pro football player take on giant rats, while the latter stars Sam (Road House) Elliot as a photographer evading murderous amphibians. Both take place on islands where nature has taken over.

“Happy Monday! Our month-long “Shocktober” celebration and countdown to Halloween continues with two more films to reveal: We are pairing 1972’s swampy Frogs (starring Sam Elliott) and 1976’s giant animal-ridden Food Of The Gods (starring Pamela Franklin) together on the Blu-ray format as a double-feature! Expect to see the release emerge next Summer.

We still have more films to announce this month so be sure to check back here on our page this month to be the first to see them!
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The Legend of Hell House

Here's another installment featuring Joe Dante's reviews from his stint as a critic for Film Bulletin circa 1969-1974. Our thanks to Video Watchdog and Tim Lucas for his editorial embellishments!

Well done haunted house chiller offers plenty for the shiver‑and‑shock fans. A fitting swan song for [Aip co-founder] Jim Nicholson, this could roll up good grosses in general, ballyhoo, drive‑in markets if Fox gives it an appropriately strong sell. Rating: PG.

"This house... it knows we're here!" Of such ominous dialogue are classic style horror pictures made and The Legend Of Hell House, while no classic, is spookily amusing, sometimes scary stuff with plenty of mass appeal for summer playdates. In fact, this maiden effort from the late James Nicholson's Academy Pictures is slick and entertaining enough to register as one of the season's better attractions, if 20th Century‑Fox capitalizes on its considerable ballyhoo potential.

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August 26th Blu-ray & DVD Releases Include The Walking Dead, The Legend of Hell House

  • DailyDead
For the last week of August, there’s a bounty of horror and sci-fi Blu-rays and DVD’s arriving, which should satisfy the cravings of just about any genre fan. Not only does The Walking Dead Season 4 finally get its release (in grand fashion of course!), but there’s also an incredible DVD collection of The Twilight Zone series from the ‘80s coming our way from Image Entertainment and Scream Factory’s brand new Blu-ray of The Legend of Hell House to look forward to as well.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there are also a handful of indie horror titles getting released including Blood Glacier, Aftermath, Zombex, The Possession of Michael King and Jersey Shore Massacre and BrinkVision is also releasing a limited edition DVD of Sonno Profondo after the Giallo-esque film found much success on the festival circuit in 2013.

Spotlight Titles:

Blood Glacier (Mpi Home Video,
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New on DVD Blu-ray August 26, 2014: 'Belle,' 'Portlandia,' 'Walking Dead'

  • Moviefone
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week


What's It About? This 18th century English romance is about Dido Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a biracial woman raised by her aristocratic great uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mansfield. She grows up alongside her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) as equals and best friends, but as they come of age, their differences become all too apparent -- to each other and to their would-be suitors. Meanwhile, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) is facing a trial as Lord Chief Justice of England that could change the future of slavery. Will Dido find love on her own terms?

Why We're In: It's an elegant period piece perfect for Jane Austen fans, and it's a subtle but effective examination of the intersection of class and race in 18th century England. Mbatha-Raw is fantastic, and director Amma Asante has an excellent eye for detail.

Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the
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Bluray Review: The Legend Of Hell House

While the gang at Scream Factory does an excellent job giving genre fans updated collector’s editions of forgotten or long lost ’80s-era fan favorites, the output of films from the 1970′s aren’t focused on as much as some fans would want(a release here and there). The great part is, that when the Scream Factory crew Do get their hands on a 70′s horror film, it usually means that horror fans will be getting a nice looking HD versions of some beloved titles that haven’t seen the Bluray glory so far. This is definitely the case with Sf’s Bluray release of John Hough’s 1973 classic, The Legend Of Hell House. While the disc isn’t packed to the brim with the amount of special features one would expect, the film itself is worth the price, as it has never looked better.

The Film

It’s obvious
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Spend a Few Minutes Exploring The Legend of Hell House

The Scream Factory has brought one of the scariest haunted house movies of all time, The Legend of Hell House, onto Blu-ray; and if you know what's good for you, then you had better get it! Need more incentive? Here's a pair of clips!

From the Press Release

For the sake of your sanity, pray it isn’t true! Scream Factory brings you The Legend of Hell House on Blu-ray on August 26, 2014. Special features include a new interview with director John Hough, a new audio commentary with actress Pamela Franklin, and the theatrical trailer.

It sits here, shrouded in mist and mystery, a nesting place for living evil and terror from the dead. It's Hell House. Roddy McDowall heads the cast of this exciting chiller about four psychic investigators and the dark, brooding mansion they call "the Mt. Everest of haunted houses." It's already destroyed one team of researchers. Now
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