11 items from 2014
Here we are at what is a surprisingly modern list. At the beginning of this, I didn’t expect to see so much cultural impact coming from films so recently made, but that’s the way it goes. The films that define the horror genre aren’t necessarily the scariest or the most expensive or even the best. The films that define the genre point to a movement – movies that changed the game and influenced all the films after it. Movies that transcend the horror genre. Movies that broke the mold and changed the way horror can be created.
10. El laberinto del fauno (2006)
English Language Title: Pan’s Labyrinth
Directed by: Gullermo del Toro
It’s more a dark fantasy film than a horror film, but it would be tough to make a list of 50 of those. Plus, it has enough graphic, nightmarish images to push it over the threshold. »
- Joshua Gaul
Harvest Home: McNaughton’s Return Yields Blighted Crop
Fans of director John McNaughton, known for his gruesome cult classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990), as well as that tawdry neo-noir Wild Things (1998), will be happy to realize he’s returned to filmmaking with The Harvest, his first feature film since 2001. An indie thriller written by first time screenwriter Stephen Lancellotti, it’s headlined by the likes of Michael Shannon and Samantha Morton. While there are several standout moments in the film, it’s constantly marred by an underwhelming screenplay that has a few too many inconsistencies to support the development of tension or believability. The insistent need for extravagant twists undermines the logic of the narrative, something unnecessary here considering the intensity of the performances.
Katherine (Morton) and Richard (Shannon) care for their son Andy (Charlie Tahan) in their isolated home in the countryside. Both working in the medical profession, »
- Nicholas Bell
Crime, Costumes, And Masks
Apparently the French had their own Batman-like character in the early days of silent film. Created by Louis Feuillade and Arthur Bernède, Judex (“judge” in Latin) was a crime-fighting avenger that appeared in silent serials in 1916-17. The character was resurrected once in 1934 in a sound feature, and once again in 1963 by celebrated director Georges Franju. The Criterion Collection has seen fit to release Judex, this later version, on Blu-ray and DVD in a dual format package. The results are splendid.
Judex doesn’t bother to disguise his face when he’s in character. He wears a black cape and a Zorro-like hat. You could say he’s kind of like The Shadow. By day, though, he applies old-age makeup and assumes the role of Vallieres, the right-hand man to an evil banker. Judex is in love with the banker’s daughter, Jacqueline, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya? “A Personal Story: Peter Sciretta and The Forbidden Journey” — Peter Sciretta at Slashfilm speaks vulnerably about a difficult change he had to make to his life and the Harry Potter ride that awaited him at the end (or the midway point) of the tunnel. “Summer of ’89: Batman” — Kenji Fujishima at Slant Magazine compares/contrasts a tale of two Gothams, prompting me to watch a double feature of Eyes Without a Face and The Dark Knight. “Take the Joker in Burton’s Batman and Nolan’s The Dark Knight. There’s a telling difference in the way Burton’s Joker describes himself to Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) as an “artist” who deals in anarchy, compared to the “agent of chaos” self-designation of Nolan’s Joker; compared to Nicholson’s lordly lip-smacking (it’s »
- Scott Beggs
Shanks FX’s latest instructional video centers on the in-camera effect of projection mapping. Beginning with the “beam of light ” effect, created by cinematographer and VFX artist Eugen Schüfftan (Metropolis, Eyes Without a Face), Joey Shanks demonstrates how with a camera, a one way mirror, a projector and a computer at the controls, you can create the illusion of a three-dimensional conic light. Shanks also explains how to render a light tunnel on an one-dimensional black board. Good low-budget techniques to keep in your backpocket for sci-fi, dream sequences and the like. »
- Sarah Salovaara
Had Terrence Malick and David Lynch somehow conceived an artistic love-child together, only to see it get kidnapped, strangled and repeatedly kicked in the face by Nicolas Winding Refn, the results might look and sound something like “Lost River,” a risible slab of Detroit gothic that marks an altogether inauspicious writing-directing debut for Ryan Gosling. “Lost” is indeed the operative word for this violent fairy tale about a fractured family trying to survive among the ruins of a city overrun by thugs, sexual predators and other demons, nearly all of them cribbed from the surreal cinematic imaginations of other, vastly more intuitive filmmakers. It’s perversely admirable to the extent that Gosling has certainly put himself out there, sans shame or apology, but train-wreck fascination will go only so far to turn this misguided passion project into an item of even remote commercial interest.
“Nobody’s coming back,” says one »
- Justin Chang
Not a chamber piece in the most literal sense, but with all the poky airlessness that its title implies, “The Blue Room” represents a disappointing return to Cannes for actor-turned-auteur Mathieu Amalric. Adapting Georges Simenon’s slender mystery novella with fidelity to its bleak narrative but indifference to its disquieting erotic and psychological subtext, Amalric’s fourth feature as a director is less a whodunnit than a whodunwhat, with the star on wounded, taciturn form as a businessman under investigation for an initially unspecified crime. But while this appropriately brief film unravels its enigma at a tidy clip, it gathers neither enough heat, nor quite enough of a chill, to linger in the bones. Amalric’s name and a sexy premise may secure some distributor interest outside France, but the view from this “Room” is nonetheless limited.
Amalric’s last feature as director, the sweet-and-spiky burlesque-ensemble study “On Tour,” was »
- Guy Lodge
By Lee Pfeiffer
Criterion has released a true oddity: a French horror film from 1960 by director Georges Franju titled Eyes Without a Face. The B&W film was notable in its day for being a rare excursion into a genre that most New Wave French filmmakers had studiously avoided. The intriguing plot centers on Dr. Genessier (Pierre Brasseur), a notable plastic surgeon who is pioneering breakthrough methods of reconstructing the faces of people who have suffered grievous injuries and disfigurements. On the surface, Genessier follows the norms of traditional medical research: publishing papers and giving lectures relating to his findings. However, the painstaking process of getting formal acceptance and approval of new medical theories is not for him. He has an urgent need to pursue his theories outside of accepted medical practices. His daughter Christiana (Edit Scob) was severely injured in a car crash that he was responsible for. Wracked by guilt, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Blu-ray & DVD Release Dates: June 17, 2014
Price: DVD $24.95, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.95
A criminal masquerade is perpetrated in Judex.
Conceived as an homage to Louis Feuillade’s 1916 cult silent serial of the same name, Judex kicks off with the mysterious kidnapping of a corrupt banker (Michel Vitold) by the shadowy crime fighter Judex (American magician Channing Pollock) and spins out into a thrillingly complex web of deceptions.
Combining stylish Sixties modernism with silent-cinema touches and even a few unexpected sci-fi accents, Judex is a delightful bit of pulp fiction and a testament to the art of illusion.
Criterion’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD standalone editions of the movie include the following features:
• New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray »
I just received my review copy of Ingmar Bergman's Pesona (3/25) today so I'm a little high on Criterion love at the moment and only minutes after receiving that in the mail I received today's announcement listing the films coming to the Collection in June. I'm sure many will be excited to see Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock getting the Blu-ray upgrade. The remastered release includes a new piece on the making of the film, a new introduction by film scholar David Thomson as well as Weir's 1971 black comedy Homesdale among other additional features. The disc will hit shelves on June 17. The title I'm most looking forward to is Michelangelo Antonioni's L'eclisse the third film in his informal trilogy that includes L'avventura and La notte. This is the only one of those three I haven't yet seen and what a cast as it tells the story of »
- Brad Brevet
Odd List Sarah Dobbs 31 Jan 2014 - 07:00
Any good horror movie villain needs a mask. Sarah counts down 20 of the most frightening face-hiders in the movies...
Ever since Michael Myers went on a killing spree in his Halloween costume, masks have been a staple of slasher movies.
Sometimes they serve to hide the killer’s identity, while other times they conceal a disfigured face, and other times, well, probably the production team just thought it’d look cool. Usually, the idea is that it’s what lurks underneath the mask that’s scary, but a good horror movie mask is frightening in its own right.
Here, then, are 20 of the scariest masks ever to turn up in a horror movie:
20. Pig Mask
As worn by: Jigsaw’s various acolytes in the Saw franchise
There’s so much going on in the Saw movies that this mask is far from the »
11 items from 2014
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