10 items from 2015
Special Mention: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Directed by Dario Argento
Screenplay by Dario Argento
One of the most self-assured directorial debuts of the 70’s was Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Not only was it a breakthrough film for the master of Giallo, but it was also a box office hit and had critics buzzing, regardless if they liked it or not. Although Argento would go on to perfect his craft in later films, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage went a long way in popularizing the Giallo genre and laid the groundwork for later classics like Deep Red. A difficult film to discuss without spoiling many of its most impressive and famous scenes, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a fairly straightforward murder mystery, albeit with many twists, turns and one of the best surprise endings of all time. But »
- Ricky Fernandes
Val Lewton’s third horror film, The Leopard Man (1943) initially seemed promising. Based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel Black Alibi, it had more pedigree than Lewton’s previous movies. He reunited his previous team: director Jacques Tourneur, writer Ardel Wray, even Dynamite, the black leopard from Cat People. Forced again to film on the Rko lot, he sent Wray to photograph Santa Fe, New Mexico and crafted meticulous sets around her snapshots. Despite this attention to detail, The Leopard Man is one of Lewton’s weakest efforts.
The plot is simple enough. Nightclub entertainers James (Dennis O’Keefe) and Kiki (Jean Brooks) arrive in Santa Fe with a leopard in tow; Kiki’s rival Clo-Clo (Margo) scares the cat, which escapes into the city. The leopard kills a Mexican girl, sending the city into a panic. Several other women die, but James grows convinced that the leopard isn’t behind them. »
- Christopher Saunders
Val Lewton, Russian émigré turned horror master, was a reporter, pulp novelist and MGM publicity writer before moving into film. He spent the 1930s as David O. Selznick’s story editor, directing second unit work on A Tale of Two Cities (1935) and script doctoring Gone With the Wind (1939), warning Selznick it would be “the mistake of his life.” While not Hollywood’s most prescient man, Lewton’s professionalism earned Selznick’s respect, and their collaboration led to Rko offering Lewton a producing job in 1942.
Rko was reeling from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, an expensive flop forcing a refocus on low budget films. Charles Koerner headed the studio’s B Unit, envisioning a horror series inspired by Universal Studio’s successful franchises. Where Universal culled from established literature (Dracula, Frankenstein), Rko worked from Koerner’s whim: he created a title and left the filmmakers to handle trivia like plot and characters. »
- Christopher Saunders
Virginia Bruce: MGM actress ca. 1935. Virginia Bruce movies on TCM: Actress was the cherry on 'The Great Ziegfeld' wedding cake Unfortunately, Turner Classic Movies has chosen not to feature any non-Hollywood stars – or any out-and-out silent film stars – in its 2015 “Summer Under the Stars” series.* On the other hand, TCM has come up with several unusual inclusions, e.g., Lee J. Cobb, Warren Oates, Mae Clarke, and today, Aug. 25, Virginia Bruce. A second-rank MGM leading lady in the 1930s, the Minneapolis-born Virginia Bruce is little remembered today despite her more than 70 feature films in a career that spanned two decades, from the dawn of the talkie era to the dawn of the TV era, in addition to a handful of comebacks going all the way to 1981 – the dawn of the personal computer era. Career highlights were few and not all that bright. Examples range from playing the »
- Andre Soares
Think of a teeming metropolis like New York City. Now double that in size. If every single person who lived there, every hot-dog vendor, third-grader and euphoric Mets fan, was in fact a flesh-eating zombie, that would roughly equal the 17.3 million people that tuned into last October's fifth-season premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead, the most-watched episode of anything in cable history. Those are blockbuster numbers and they occurred week after week. The demand for the show has become so huge that a prequel spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, debuts this Sunday. »
We’ve got another busy week of horror and sci-fi home entertainment releases on the horizon as August 11th has a great variety of titles both new and old to get excited about. Scream Factory is releasing their Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs and Kino Lorber has dug up another great cult classic, War-Gods of the Deep, and given it an HD overhaul as well. Unfriended is also coming home on Blu and DVD and Universal is finally releasing James Wan’s Dead Silence on Blu-ray, featuring an unrated version of the underrated film. And for all you DC Comics fans out there, get ready for a ton of titles making their debut this week on Blu courtesy of Warner Home Video.
The People Under the Stairs: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory, Blu-ray)
- Heather Wixson
Celluloid crusader Martin Scorsese's preservation nonprofit Film Foundation has resurrected classics since 1990, including the recent restoration of Powell and Pressburger's "Tales of Hoffmann." MoMA's ongoing Scorsese presentation centers around a rare, billboard-sized poster of that 1951 operatic fantasy, along with over 30 other marvelous spreads from the director's collection. Check out highlights below — courtesy of Quartz — including rare international posters for "On the Waterfront," "I Walked with a Zombie," "Sullivan's Travels" and a four-panel for "The Searchers." The MoMA exhibit accompanies a major screening series of Scorsese's handpicked favorites, and Film Foundation restorations of "Hoffmann," "On the Waterfront" and "The Red Shoes." Read More: How Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker Restored the Luster of Michael Powell and "The Tales of Hoffmann" »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Few comics sit at the intersection of “fan beloved,” “industry defining,” and “absolutely impossible to acquire” the way the EC Comics library does. For a while they almost felt like Comics’ very own Holy Grail. On one hand, you’ve got the Tales From The Crypt brand itself, which has left an indelible mark on pop culture with films, cable TV series, Saturday morning cartoons, and a line of revival graphic novels from Papercutz — a proud legacy, to be sure. But on the other hand, you enter into the more nebulous region of pop cultural osmosis, and it’s there that the legend of Bill Gaines’ little comic line that could grows to gargantuan levels. The baby boomers that ate his ghoulish “mags” up in the early ‘50s eventually grew into the genre fiction movers and shakers of the ‘70s and ‘80s — from cult directors like George Romero and Joe Dante, »
- Luke Dorian Blackwood
Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine' 1938: Jean Renoir's film noir (photo: Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine') (See previous post: "'Cat People' 1942 Actress Simone Simon Remembered.") In the late 1930s, with her Hollywood career stalled while facing competition at 20th Century-Fox from another French import, Annabella (later Tyrone Power's wife), Simone Simon returned to France. Once there, she reestablished herself as an actress to be reckoned with in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine. An updated version of Émile Zola's 1890 novel, La Bête Humaine is enveloped in a dark, brooding atmosphere not uncommon in pre-World War II French films. Known for their "poetic realism," examples from that era include Renoir's own The Lower Depths (1936), Julien Duvivier's La Belle Équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937), and particularly Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) and Daybreak (1939). This thematic and »
- Andre Soares
Welcome to another horror/thriller round-up! This time around we have details on Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s in-the-works zombie western movie, release details for Arrow Video’s UK Blu-ray / DVD of the Vincent Price-starring The Comedy of Terrors, and an update on Warner Bros.’ and Team Downey’s in-development film based on the real-life sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the subsequent shark attacks on the surviving crew members.
In an interview with Noisey, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter revealed that he will be directing and starring in a zombie western called Dead West (not to be confused with Joe R. Lansdale’s 1986 zombie western novel, Dead in the West) for Asylum this March. Carter also co-wrote the script and has a couple of potential cast members in mind (excerpts from Noisey via Shock Till You Drop):
“It’s called Dead West. [Laughs.] It’s a zombie horror western movie. »
- Derek Anderson
10 items from 2015
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