Lucio Fulci is remembered today, when remembered at all, by a nuance lacking population for his lowest common denominator gore films such as THE BEYOND and ZOMBI.
But before Fulci, by his own estimation became a maker of z-grade garbage to pay the bills, he aspired to more. He aspired to be a filmmaker.
And I am here to say he was one. And I would go further to say he was a great director. An extremely versatile director, leaving his mark on everything from Comedies to Westerns. However, it was in the new Italian form of thriller, the Giallo that his skills would reach their zenith, and his star shine the brightest.
In his heyday creative period, when the muses of inspiration were upon him (approx from 1966 to 1977), he made seven influential, stylish, challenging and even ground breaking films.
Tempi di Massacro/Massacre Time (Would predate and arguably inspire the dove laden, blood ballets of John Woo)
Una Sull’altra/Perversion Story/One On Top Another (even hampered by a poor title, and an awkward, even clumsy soft-core opening, this reworking of Hitchcock’s Vertigo builds to something great. Beautifully filmed it is Fulci’s best looking film, and is a clinic in style. It is a film I consider even better than its inspiration, and that is saying a lot.)
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin
Don’t Torture a Duckling
Four of the Apocalypse
Sette Notte in Nero/Psychic
None of the above films were adequately appreciated upon release. However with the advent of DVD you have the chance to reevaluate Fulci’s largely pre-gore work (before he gave completely into his excesses and the lowest common denominator) and see these films for what they were and are, visually stunning landmarks of a time and a place.
— to be continued
Okay, here is a list of Remakes for people who think they don’t like Remakes
FIFTEEN movie remakes that are superior to the original.
John Carpenter’s THE THING
Daniel Craig in CASINO ROYALE
Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA
Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE
David Cronenberg’s THE FLY
Zack Snyder’s THE DAWN OF THE DEAD
Al Pacino in Brian DePalma’s SCARFACE
Sturges’ MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED
Branagh’s HENRY V
Eddie Murphy’s THE NUTTY PROFESSOR
Bogart’s MALTESE FALCON (The third film attempt, finally got it right!)
I AM LEGEND, while I have a lot of respect for the Vincent Price and Charlton Heston versions, Will Smith’s I AM LEGEND moves it into big scale territory with out losing the intimate horror inherent
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Hictchcock Improves on himself in this Stewart and Day remake of his earlier film
A quick recap of some movies trailers I sampled today. Here’s the lowdown on the winners, the contenders and the losers!
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN- I’m not a fan of the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movies at all. Thought the first movie was mediocre at best, so imagine my surprise going into this trailer. It seemingly has very little to do with UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, which in my book is a good thing, and the trailer comes across with very much a horror, off-kilter vibe. UNIVERSAL SOLDIER by way of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. If the ultimate goal of a trailer is to make you want to pay to see the film, then this trailer succeeds.
IRON MAN 3- No doubt everyone and their grandma has seen this trailer now, but let me just jump on the bandwagon and say it looks great. I’ve enjoyed all the previous MARVEL STUDIOS movies, and this appears to be no exception.
MAMA- is the latest by the director of BLADE II, PAN’S LABYRINTH etc, and looks like a worthy and creepy addition to that body of work. It’ll get my theater dollars.
LINCOLN- A bio-pic on Abraham Lincoln done by Spielberg, with a huge, high profile cast. Of course this is a must see in the theaters.
THE UNDECIDED/WAIT FOR VIDEO PILE:
REACHER- Tom Cruise’s latest looks interesting, though nothing you haven’t seen before.Though the ageless Mr. Cruise finally begins to show some age, which probably works for the weathered character he plays. I’m not bowled over by either trailer, nothing that screams see me in the theater, but one I’ll rent at least.
PUSHER- The trailer of this remake does nothing for me. But it has some heavy hitters behind the camera so the film may surprise. Worth a rental maybe.
BIGFOOT- A found footage BIG FOOT film. I’ve liked Big Foot related items since the old SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN TV show, so the premise is enough for me to give it a look. But nothing worth seeing in a theater or buying. Particularly considering the trailer makes it look even stupider than Blair Witch (which I disliked).
STOKER- Well when I heard the title STOKER I was hoping this had something to do with Bram Stoker, but no such luck. The trailer makes this seem like a drama/thriller about a young girl and her serial killer uncle, something of a distorted reworking of Hitchcock’s brilliant SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Quite frankly the trailer is pretty uninteresting, the only saving graces it has are… Nicole Kidman (she’s such a captivating beauty and actress, even here when she should be playing a worn, mother figure. If the purpose of a star is to make you want to look at them… all the time, then Nicole Kidman is a star of the highest order) and the director Park Chan Wook, of OLD BOY fame with his first English language film. So STOKER, poor trailer or not, is definitely worth a look when it hits video.
TAICHI- A steam-punk martial arts film by the creators of IP MAN and DETECTIVE YEE. I’m sold! Not something I’m going to pay theater prices for, but it is definitely a future rental.
EVIL DEAD REMAKE- That’s a gory trailer, jury is still out whether it is a good trailer, much less a good movie. Off the bat none of the actors come across as interesting which already puts you at a HUGE disadvantage. Bruce Campbell’s performance and likeability is a huge part of the success of the original EVIL DEAD, so to toss in some stock CW actors, with the depth of pond water (just going by the trailer, they may be Oliviers in the finished film) and think you earn the right to call it an EVIL DEAD film… could be a problem. This is going to be worth a look on video, but not in the theaters.
HAUNTED HOUSE- A Marlon Wayans comedy/spoof on PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. The trailer is as stupid and uninteresting as you think it would be. Avoid.
THE COLLECTION- by the SAW creators. Seemingly their SAW franchise is dead, so they are trying to jump start a new one, using the same torture porn premise. Going just by the trailer… utter garbage.
CLOUD ATLAS- The easiest way to get me not interested in a film is to put Halle Berry in it. Tom Cruise doesn’t help either and an unfocused time-hopping storyline leaves me equally uninterested.
SMILEY- Seemingly an urban legend Serial Killer film. A killer with a smiley face made of flesh? Ugggh. It’s an effective trailer for this type of movie, I’m just not the audience for it. I hesitate to put this in the worst category until some of the reviews come in. It may actually have a story to it, and some craft, unlike something like THE COLLECTION.
That’s all for this installment of the best and worst in movie trailers! And you can view all the mentioned trailers for yourself here! Just say NO to Flash/streaming web trailers, which are always slow and crappy, and get them in downloadable quality at the link above!
And come back soon for more!!
“The sea is laughing. As though hell cackled from the mouth of an ass.”
OUT OF THE STORM by William Hope Hodgson
Courtesy of SFF Audio. Listen to it here! It is absolutely brilliant. This is the writer who inspired Lovecraft, and what Lovecraft learned from him (a man plagued by his own demons)… is clear…. and horrible.
Well the idea was to hit the NY Comiccon this weekend, but that is clearly not going to happen. Darn job and 12 hour days over the weekend. Combined with not getting my press-pass ironed out in time, translates into me… not going.
Oh well, best laid plans, and all that.
I’m emailing in turn those I was hoping to network with over the extended weekend, and making alternative plans.
But enough of me yakking, onto the links of the Day!
Dark Horse, a name synonymous with quality publications and books, has quite a few books and hardcovers that are grabbing my attention, and today’s Links of the Day is devoted to them:
The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine- Dark Horse releases a brand new pulp magazine entitled The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine TPB. You can view a sample here. There’s not enough there for me to really decide if it’s my cup of tea, but artwork by Geof Darrow is always a reason to at least take a look.
Somethings I’m far more intrigued of from Dark Horse are:
THE MASSIVE – Brian Wood follows up his long running series DMZ, with something that I find far more intriguing. Preview it here. Buy it here.
THE STRAIN GN – a gripping 10 page preview by filmmaker and writer Guillermo Del Toro. Preview it here. Buy it here.
Lawrence Talbot: Are you expecting a war?
Singh: A Sikh is a warrior of God. He must always arm himself against evil.
Sir John Talbot: You’ve done terrible things, Lawrence. Terrible Things.
The quotes come from the 2010 Joe Johnston film, WOLFMAN. I was a huge fan of this film when it hit the theaters a couple years ago, see my original review here, and have been meaning to pick up the unrated Blu-ray Director’s Cut for sometime.
I own very few Blu-Rays, I find on a whole it to be only a marginal quality difference to DVD, and all other things being equal, I’m unwilling to shell out more for a Blu-Ray
The exceptions being a movie deserving of the extensive and elaborate special features and dissection/discussion that a Blu-Ray can bring to bear.
I find the WOLFMAN to be one such film. Unlike many I was a huge fan of the film in the theaters, and I’m happy to say the Blu-Ray experience, with the Director’s Cut, only solidifies my enjoyment and praise for this film.
I won’t get into specifics of the film except to say the additional 15 or so minutes of the Unrated Director’s cut helps to make more cohesive and strong a film that did suffer from unevenness and feeling rushed. Particularly Benicio Del Toro’s unfairly maligned portrayal, is expanded and fleshed out, as well as his relationship with his father played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Lawrence Talbot: Why did she do it?
Sir John Talbot: She struggled with life, as we all do. She lost.
The only minor qualm in the Unrated version is, it is less subtle in terms of the villain, for this reason it may be more prudent to see the theatrical version first, then graduate to the Unrated version.
But that minor issue aside, in every other way the Unrated version makes more compelling an already very good film. I’d go so far to say the Unrated version makes it a great film, particularly if you take into account the wealth of extra features.
Now picture wise, the WOLFMAN Blu-Ray is a negligible improvement over DVD, owing much to how it was shot, it’s a muddy, subdued, grainy type of film that does not play to the strengths of Blu-RAy.
But the extra features, interviews with Rick Baker, etc., and some nifty new interactive features makes this well written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully directed, masterfully edited (really effective jump scares, that no matter how many times I see the film… stay scary. That takes talent!) and well performed Horror/Monster film… a fun addition to anyone’s library.
Grade: Recommended! B+.
So I almost returned Graham Masterton’s short story collection FESTIVAL OF FEAR to the library, relatively unread. The reason being the first story, PRESS, was just not grabbing me.
It felt very opaque, I couldn’t get into it. A short story, the first couple pages I just found incredibly un-engaging, and found myself rereading them to try to get into the story.
So I was all set to just call it a day, as I have no shortage of books on my towering ‘to-read’ pile, awaiting my attention; so there’s very little reason to force myself to plow through a book that is not grabbing me. However, for whatever reason when I went to take the book back, it ended up coming back home with me.
I think the Library (greatest human invention) was closed. So getting back home, I finally gave that first story a full reading, managing to finish it this time, and it, PRESS, wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, ending with one of those ‘O’Henry’ type puns. However, while not great, it was… good. And I do appreciate a good pun.
The second story, THE BURGERS OF CALAIS, was even better, far more insidious and smart, but likewise ended with an almost groan inducing pun, one so old it should creak. But rather than put me off, the seemingly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing… I felt growing on me. And coming as it did right before my bout with food poisoning, the story now seems particularly apt.
So two stories in, FESTIVAL OF FEAR is today’s book of the day. I’ll keep you gals and gorillas apprised as I work my way through the rest. But for right now it is recommended!
(The squeamish should avoid the following! You have been warned!)
Regarding the food poisoning, since I said I would mention it, here’s the 2cent version.
To be brief, a hole in the wall pizzeria, 2 slices of cheese pizza, the usual shady/sundry counter types who you are trusting to be clean enough to actually touch/prepare food, and someone who obviously wasn’t clean enough. My body is pretty much well tuned, so to be not too involved, I’m regular and efficient as a swiss clock.
Uhhh, I’ll never look at Swiss clocks the same way again.
Meaning I’m in and out with precision (how did we get on this subject?). The trains must Roll!!!!
So I don’t get the idea of people who spend enough time in the bathroom that they have time to read.
What the heck is that about?! If you’re on the toilet that long, you need to get yourself checked.
Plus I think any paper in your bathroom should only be for flushing, otherwise it’s nothing but a germ collector going from hand to hand. Could there be anything more disgusting than reading material sitting in a bathroom, use after use, bowel movement after bowel movement, flush after flush?
Answer: No there’s nothing more disgusting.
You want to read that’s what a bloody library, or your bedroom, or a living room couch is for. Reading material should not be in the bloody bathroom!
(Yes, I am evil)
Anyhow all that to say, when something disagrees with me I notice, and there is no guesswork involved. I think a lot of people don’t listen to their bodies, and they accept as normal, reactions that are screaming to them… huge warnings in large brightly lit neon letters.
So yeah, needless to say that pizzeria joins a list of blacklisted places. a full list of which I’ll be happy to provide. Heh, heh heh!
‘You’re right, Velma. It’s weird, but it’s not unusual for hamburger meat to be contaminated. In fact it’s more usual than unusual, which is why I never eat hamburgers.
‘I don’t know if I want to hear this, John.’
‘You should Velma. See — they used to have federal inspectors in every slaughterhouse, but the Reagan administration wanted to save money, so they allowed the meat-packing industry to take care of its own hygiene procedures. Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle, that’s what they call it — SIS-C.’
‘I never heard of that, John.’
‘Well, Velma, as an ordinary citizen you probably wouldn’t have. But the upshot was that when they had no USDA inspectors breathing down their necks, most of the slaughterhouses doubled their line speed, and that meant there was much more risk of contamination. I mean you can imagine a dead cow hanging up by its heels and a guy cutting its stomach open, and then heaving out its intestines by hand, which they still do, that’s a very skilled job, and if a gutter makes one mistake — floop! — everything goes everywhere, blood, guts, dirt, manure, and that happens to one in five cattle. Twenty percent.’
‘Oh, my God.’
‘Oh, it’s worse than that, Velma. These days, with SIS-C, meat-packers can get away with processing far more diseased cattle. I’ve seen cows coming into the slaughterhouse with abscesses and tapeworms and measles. The beef scraps they ship out for hamburgers are all mixed up with manure, hair, insects, metal filings, urine and vomit.’
‘You’re making me feel nauseous, John. I had a hamburger for supper last night.’
‘Make it your last, Velma. It’s not just the contamination, it’s the quality of the beef they use. Most of the cattle they slaughter for hamburgers are old dairy cattle, because they’re cheap and their meat isn’t too fatty. But they’re full of antibiotics and they’re often infected with E.coli and salmonella. You take just one hamburger, that’s not the meat from a single animal, that’s mixed up meet from dozens or even hundreds of different cows, and it only takes one diseased cow to contaminate thirty-two thousand pounds of ground beef.’
‘That’s like a horror story, John.’
‘You’re too right, Velma.’
—-THE BURGERS OF CALAIS by Graham Masterton
AMER- I have been of late so disappointed by highly rated IMDB or AMAZON films (films such as TRIANGLE and A LONELY PLACE TO DIE), that the recently watched film AMER… comes like manna from heaven.
The first feature film of writing/directing duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, AMER (2009) is an almost impossibly sensual and sensualist film, that spends nearly all its initial running time in this elevated/heightened nearly psychotic state, that is equal parts arousal and sensory overload.
There’s a story here, but it’s a very thin one that follows our protagonist from childhood to womanhood, and one that becomes more thin as the film progresses, and ultimately takes backstage to a house of mystery, and a young woman who burns like the sun.
It is a very disturbing film, as it deals, under the skin, with themes of compulsion, predation (namely the predatory behavior of men to women), psycho-sexual behavior, and a degree of depravity and submission, all edited to a frenetic, insane, tension aching pitch.
Add to that the look and the soundtrack, which is a love-letter to the giallo, and you have something… that compels. Giallo being a distinctly Italian form of thriller, that traces its flowering most notably to the 70s and 80s films of Dario Argento.
A bastard child of the deconstructive American crime films and horror films of the late 60s and 70s (think PSYCHO meets DIRTY HARRY) and a precursor to the later American slasher films, Giallo is set apart by its preeminence of style, both in terms of visuals and soundtrack, over substance.
Much as film-noir is characterized by daring use of style and visuals and camera angles, to speak on the dysfunction and disillusionment, and moral abyss of a post World War II America, Giallo equally was a filmic response to turbulent political, class, generational and societal fears and concerns in the wake of an age of assassinations, wars, mass murders, and revelations and revolutions of the age of Aquarius, not to mention the conflict of a new sexual frankness in conflict with a still pervasive sexual repression.
In many ways giallo as a genre, was a bunch of kid filmmakers pushing the boundaries of film, and in many ways tapping into their own demons, and a world’s demons. So if you are a fan of films like SUSPIRIA and THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH you will find much to enthuse over in AMER, a film that is evocative of the giallo, from the soundtrack to the use of primary colors, while being a very unique and singular viewing experience.
Possibly a frustrating viewing experience if your taste does not run to the aforementioned giallo tenet of style over substance. If a movie has to ‘get to the point’ AMER is not the film for you, but if it is the journey well told that entrances…then AMER, will entrance you to the end.
Indeed for me the least interesting part of the film is the black-gloved razor wielding killer in the final act, and moments of blood and gore and the film trying to hew too closely to Argento’s template, but even that, thankfully, gives way to something… unique, and yes both irrational and sensuous.
I can see many people hating this film for its fever dream approach, however it is that approach that ultimately wins me over. I don’t like slasher films, and find gore and torture porn films uninteresting and without merit, not far from true pornography. Yet I find in the giallo, when done well, something that manages to transcend simple exploitation and pandering, and be not unlike art.
AMER is giallo, done well.
I adore, a well composed shot, and being a devotee of the schools of both sensualism and surrealism, I adore the stylistic extremes of this film… and see it being one that is often on rotation in my DVD player. If the filmmakers can resist the easy indulgences of gore and splatter, such weaknesses a little on display in the third act of AMER, and quite pervasive in most of their short films (also included on the DVD), they will be filmmakers to watch. When they don’t rely on the crutch of gore, as in most of AMER, they are mind blowingly good. Grade: B+.
WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.
This is a rare one item WEDNESDAYS WORDS and the latest I’ve ever put one together, but put it together I did. Enjoy!
Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson [Hardcover]
Publication Date: September 13, 2011 | Series: Creepy Presents
All of horror legend Bernie Wrightson’s Creepy and Eerie short stories, color illustrations, and frontispieces are finally collected in one deluxe hardcover! These classic tales from the 1970s and early 1980s include collaborations with fellow superstars and Warren Publishing alumni Bruce Jones, Carmine Infantino, Howard Chaykin, and others, as well as several adaptations and original stories written and drawn by Wrightson during one of the most fruitful periods of his career! All stories and images in this collection are restored with care and reprinted in the same oversized format as Dark Horse’s award-winning Creepy Archives and Eerie Archives series.
As far as one book recommendations go, you would be hard pressed to find a better one than CREEPY PRESENTS BERNIE WRIGHTSON! First the hardcover book, which I’m perusing, in between writing this post, smells great.
I know that sounds like an odd statement, especially to all you digital i-something babies, but for those of us raised and reared on paper and ink, there are few things as evocative as the new book smell.:)
Add to that the fact that DARK HORSE who published this book, publishes really high quality books, and you have something special as much for construct as content. Something that can not be effectively… digitized.
So despite being printed in China, DARK HORSE is very quality-conscious and demanding… and it shows in the finished product. It’s a gorgeous art compilation book, containing the best art and stories from Wrightson’s time at Warren Publishing!
And lastly it’s Bernie Wrightson, one of the most celebrated sequential artists of the late 20th century; and here in the 21st, his work still remains… unrivaled.
While this book is no FRANKENSTEIN BY WRIGHTSON (Also Published by DARK HORSE, and copies getting scarcer and more expensive every day), it is vintage WRIGHTSON and as such most definitely should be an essential part of anyone’s desert island survival bag!
And at the current ridiculously low price you would have to be an unhinged art-hater, not to own a copy.
So there! Go here for more and to get your copy if so moved to:
The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!
If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.
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