THE SHOUT (1978) – Expressionist 70s Horror at its Best!

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THE SHOUT (1978) – THE SHOUT is a type of horror film that the 70s managed to produce arguably better than any other decade (save perhaps our current streaming generation, the share bulk of content at our fingertips allows for a diverse range of content and experimentation). The eerie existential tale of foreboding; tales of protagonists beset from seemingly all sides by nameless and unnameable dreads that live disturbingly close to the fragile facade of our normal lives.

A culmination of sorts of the filmic movements before it (namely Expressionism, often called German Expressionism, and Film Noir) and the new dynamism of the conflicted post war, post age of Aquarius 70s; 70s Expressionist horror grafting the fatalism of Film Noir to Expressionism’s use of exaggeration and distortion to illicit an emotional response, to create a horror that was more about broader questions of what lives beyond the borders of the accepted, and the illusions… of control.

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Films like DON’T LOOK NOW, IMAGES, THE ABOMINABLE DOCTOR PHIBES, AND SOON THE DARKNESS, THE DUNWICH HORROR, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, MAGIC, OBSESSION, PHANTASM, DEEP RED, THE SENTINEL, SUSPIRIA, ERASERHEAD, SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS, GANJA & HESS, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND are marked by extreme directorial flourishes, bordering on surrealism, creating worlds of emotive rather than accepted reality.

THE SHOUT, features a stellar cast of burgeoning British Stars, among them Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt and Tim Curry, all brilliantly directed by the legendary filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. His only film in the horror genre, THE SHOUT much like IMAGES (directed by another great, serious filmmaker Robert Altman), manages to be not just a great genre film, but one of the best films of Skolimowski’s lauded career.

Not the typical Horror movie, the best horror of the 70s resists and transcends easy classifications, and trite genre labels. Indeed THE SHOUT would be as justified in the drama or fantasy or art film designation as any other, but somehow horror seems to sum up best the creeping unease that these types of 70s films in general, and THE SHOUT in particular, provide.

This is horror not of the slasher or torture porn fodder that unfortunately passes too-often for horror in the 21st century, but something more… imaginative. While the 70s had its own knife wielding maniacs, that was often played as a facet of the horror, rather than the horror in total. The horror that the 70s dealt in was rather a call back to the existential roots of cinema, horror, and arguably humanity, the MR James and Wakefield definitions of horror… the horror, with questions that endure.

Jerzy Skolimowski’s THE SHOUT is a film that rewards repeat viewings. See it for yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime, or get the DVD here: The Shout [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import – United Kingdom ] or Blu-Ray here: The Shout (1978) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import – United Kingdom ]

Grade: B+.


Deal of the Day! ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher or American Water Distiller vs Aquasana vs Pur vs Zero Water Filters!?


A while back I had done a post on the difficulty of finding a reliable, affordable Water filter. I had first tried an American Water Distiller, however after some weeks of use, quality control issues regarding the materials used, namely rusting and taste, made me question what it was adding to the water as opposed to removing.

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Ultimately a distiller is a big expense and is only as safe as the parts used and the storage system used to catch and hold the water, and I found this particular model of American Water Filter… lacking.

I then after some reading tried Aquasana Counter-top Water Filter, which I used quite a while.

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I loved the glass storage containers this company provided and the reviews and documentation initially appeared solid. But the price for filters were way too expensive, the plastic of the filter housings tended to stain, there was no real reliable method for telling when to change the filter, outside of guessing and when you noticed issues with the water, and the certifications claimed in Aquasana’s ads weren’t backed up with any current certifications, and the company’s lack of response when questioned regarding their NSF certification I found less than satisfactory. So all these reasons made me decide to discontinue using Aquasana.

I then went to Pur Faucet Filter, largely for its claim of weeding out Mercury, recent certifications, availability and ease of purchase and low initial cost. I really appreciated the system offered a handy LED reminder regarding when it was time to replace the filter.

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One thing that never sat well with me is the loose way the Pur Filter fit into the housing. There was nothing to stop water from flowing around, rather than through, the filter. But it seemed better than nothing.

And that for quite a while is what I was using, until the Zero Water Pitcher. The design of this pitcher answers a lot of issues I had with the Pur faucet design.

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And the included TDS water tester (Total Dissolved Solids) that came with the filter really made a believer out of me after testing my untreated water, which read something like 140ppm, than the Pur filtered water… which to my surprise read more than my tap water, was something like a 150ppm. I realized the Pur water filter was reading higher because of the very design I always found questionable, in essence the filter housing seemingly allowed water to sit there and levels to actually build up.

So then I tested the water coming out of the Zero pitcher, and sure enough it came out Zero. And you could actually see the difference between the tap water, the pur water, and the zero water. There was a lot of particles in the former two, and the zero pitcher came out noticeably clear.

That is what I call impressive. Down the road I intend to run other tests and testers on the Zero Pitcher to confirm what it removes from the water beyond turbidity, but for right now, and for the relatively affordable price compared to the alternatives, it is my current water filter solution of choice.

If you are looking for a better water filter option, Zero Pitcher with their included TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Tester is a well thought out, and seemingly effective, and definitely affordable option to give a try to. Get your copy here: ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher
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Now Watching: CRAWL OR DIE (2014) via Roku’s Amazon Prime VOD Channel

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CRAWL OR DIE – Mixing part ALIEN, part DESCENT, part TANK GIRL and sporting committed performances by its cast, particularly Nicole Alonso as Tank, who carries the bulk of the movie, CRAWL OR DIE manages to be more than its influences. Written and Directed by the fantastically named Oklahoma Ward and co-produced and conceived by star and producer Nicole Alonso CRAWL OR DIE manages to, transcend its inspirations, to feel fresh and be a surprisingly compelling 91 minutes of film.

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Ostensibly a monster movie it becomes for star and audience something of an endurance test, filled as it is with moments of repetition, belly-gazing, and frustration,,, but mostly it is about the will of Man or in this case Woman… to survive. An addictive tale of endurance, and the will to go on, and it doesn’t hurt that you have the fine form of Nicole Alonso to follow through those tunnels (while unlikely someone would strip down to their underwear to crawl through a tunnel, having watched the movie, I for one am quite supportive of the decision :) ).

Add to that a well done creature design, a definite call to the designs of HR Giger, immersive sound design, and an unusual and frenetic title/credit sequence and you have a movie deserving of being far more well known and well seen than it is.

This is the type of film that is a great reason for DVDs and Blurays to still exist in the age of streaming, because yes I saw it for free on Amazon Prime, but I immediately wanted to own this in the best quality available, complete with Director’s and cast commentary, and special features; because for me, and others, documenting the the process can be as interesting (and sometimes moreso) as the movie.

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Unfortunately CRAWL AND DIE currently has no such DVD/Blu-Ray version, and it is indicative of a failing of the industry, companies releasing these bare-bone DVDs without special features. As a rule I do not buy DVDs unless they have director’s commentary and special features.

I think these small independent film productions (such as this or FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, BLOOD GLACIER, THE ARROYO, CUT TO BLACK, PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD, THE VALDEMAR LEGACY, AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR, THE FORBIDDEN GIRL) are doing themselves a disservice by not mining the, if not large, passionate and influential DVD/Blu-Ray aficionado market, as well as providing for posterity a little bit of documentation of the process and promotion/aggrandizement of their cast and crew.

That aside CRAWL OR DIE (far better than the other, more offensive, title that early on was bandied about for it), potentially the first in a trilogy… comes strongly Recommended. Grade: B+.

For those of you who want to try before you buy go here:

Crawl or Die Streaming

For those of you like me who like the permanence of physical media (not needing access to the cloud to view a given film, or being at the mercy of data throttling) go here:
Crawl Or Die DVD

STREAMING VOD Channel of the Day : Watch Free Flix


Today’s recommended channel is Watch Free Flix.

Why.

For one main reason… the movie SUDOESTE.

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Eduardo Nunes’ 2012 feature film debut is a languid, assured fable, sumptuously told. Think Djibril Diop Mambety’s HYENAS meets Murnau’s SUNRISE, not in theme, but in visual language, in pacing, in storytelling.

Other highlights of this channel:

DOSE OF REALITY (2013)
ANOTHER MAN’S GARDEN
FUSE
DIOSES
THE PRECINCT
MORLANG
POSSIBLE LIVES
EL DEDO
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
THOSE THREE
KABALA
OS INQUILINOS
PARTITION
THE OTHER SIDE
EXHUMED
TIN CAN MAN
CHILDREN OF A DARKER DAWN
HOUSE OF WHIPCORD

Try the channel for yourself:

http://watchfreeflix.com/

STREAMING VOD Channel of the Day : TUBITV!


Okay faithful blog reader we’re going to launch a new installment… Streaming VOD Channel of the Day!!!

Okay the name needs work, but stick with me here.

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This is the golden age of choice, with more books, more music, more movies, more television, more video games, more product, more diversions at your fingertips than ever before in the history of mass-media. But the downside of all that choice, all that content, is determining what is worth your time, wading through the mire to find the marvels.

Theodore Sturgeon’s oft cited quote, ‘90% of everything is crud’ is one of the understood barometers of the digital and Internet age, and while I don’t think Sturgeon himself believed that pessimistic number (90%, that’s a bit pessimistic, I think more like 75% :)), it is true enough. There is at any given moment a lot of dreck to sift through, and limited time.

That’s where this article comes in.

Every installment we are going to examine a Streaming Roku VOD channel we think is deserving of your time, and cite specific examples you should check out from that channel.

So without further ado, this installment’s STREAMING VOD Channel of the Day (SVODCOTD for short :)) is (drumroll please)….

TUBI TV!!!

Okay, yeah it is not a name that rolls off the tongue, but let’s ignore that for the moment, the oddly named channel has some solid content and ok quality. Their content can be viewed at TUBITV.COM and the channel added to your Roku by going here.

And currently it has the below list of interesting content available. Many of the below are not available even on pay sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. However the negatives are:

1/ the quality needs to be better. TUBI TV needs to kick in for more bandwidth as quality can severely fluctuate during a film.

2/ the interruptions while relatively short are WAY too many! There is easily ten of them in a typical 90 minute movie. Interruptions need to be kept to less than four per 90 minute movie,

3/ Where commercials do interrupt the movie, they do so at the worst possible moment. A smarter placement of interruptions has to be devised

So a channel not without issues to overcome. But it looks like a channel that is trying to improve. So here’s the list of content you can checkout today on TUBI TV:

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DOGTOOTH
CHOKING MAN
THE MILL AND THE CROSS
SCALENE
THE LOCAL
LANDSCAPE NO. 2
MORLANG
BE WITH ME
THE UNJUST – Harrowing 2010 Korean crime film
OPEN CITY -2008 Korean film pitting an international pickpocket ring against Korea’s version of the FBI. Sounds very interesting.
BLOOD RAIN – Violent, Supernatural mystery from Korea
BLEAK NIGHT – Well regarded Korean Drama not on Amazon Prime or Netflix
ARAHAN – Well regarded 2004 Martial Arts comedy not on Amazon Prime or NetFlix
ANTARCTIC JOURNAL
GOOD MAN TOWN
OCEAN OF PEARLS
LIVING IN SEDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES-seemingly all the festival reviews state that this bit of venomous and divisive horror is overlong at 75 minutes, so someone listened as it has been cut down to 61 minutes for streaming
DR. BRONNER’S MAGIC SOAP BOX
AFTER PORN ENDS
THE STRIKING TRUTH
HE’S ON MY MIND
COLOUR FROM THE DARK
THE OTHER SIDE
NUMBER 13
NIGHT FEEDERS
FUGUE – I knew nothing about this film, but I’m glad I saw it. Director Barbara Stepansky creates a captivating drama/mystery/thriller with a supernatural tinge.
BAD TASTE
SHE BEAST
WALK OF THE DEAD/VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES
THE HOUSE WHERE HELL FROZE OVER
STREET LAW
ICY BREASTS
MEET THE FEEBLES
KNIFE OF ICE
RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER
SISTER STREET FIGHTER
ZOMBIE A-HOLE
All this plus some intriguing content such as Fitness Classes. Find out more at TUBI TV.

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Movie Original vs Remake : THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976) VS THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

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I recently watched the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN FROM 1976 and to my surprise rather than a simple exploitation film, I found a compelling, harrowing, and somehow (despite it’s matter of fact “pseudo documentary” style) eminently watchable film. An unexpected examination into the American heart of darkness that manages to linger and haunt long after the credits role.

I really had no interest in the 2014 ‘remake’, largely because I saw it incapable of transcending that original film’s “of its time” power. Thankfully the filmmakers had the same respect for the original and rather than attempting to remake it, they created an unexpected sequel to it that manages to speak to a 21st century audience, while invoking the unyielding ghost of that 20th century nightmare.

However, the true saving grace and the the true validation of this sequel lies in its director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who creates one of the most stylish and inventively directed thrillers of recent years.

And even though the film falters a bit at the end (you get the feeling the scriptwriters didn’t really know how to end the film, as the reveal and conclusion stumble a bit, in a way the original film didn’t), still the momentum that Alfonso delivers is enough to leave you impressed and satisfied.

Final Grade: Both films are available for streaming [The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)] and both are worthy of owning, but the one that I am personally excited about adding to my Blu-Ray collection (when it hopefully quickly becomes available) is the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon version, simply because of some of the superlative direction and cinematography involved. It is the calling card of a filmmaker to watch.

Scratch that. Having seen the specs on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray version of the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, and its load of special features, I now proudly proclaim it as a must own Blu-Ray. For all the dazzle that the newer film offers, there are moments of pure horror in the first film that it does not come close to touching. One attack in particular, in the original film, will stick with you, about a woman and a cornfield and its unbelievable outcome, that is simply jaw dropping in its true life power, and makes pale in comparison some of the cinematic histrionics of the newer film. Decide for yourself here: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (BluRay/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]

Now Watching: SCARE ZONE (2009) via Roku’s Amazon Prime VOD Channel

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I am not a slasher movie fan. I can not stress that enough, while a horror fan, Slasher is simply not my genre of choice, mostly because as a genre it tends to be one-note, insipid, and ineptly done. Also too mean spirited, too misanthropic; seemingly at times it is the filmmaker working out his serial killer fantasies, trying to get the audience to root for the monster. I have no interest in that.

Thankfully Jon Binkowski’s SCARE ZONE tends to avoid most of these slasher tropes and pitfalls, telling in 90 minutes a high energy, at times fun and likable film, filled for the most part with likable people (a slasher film rarity) who unfortunately find themselves the target of a dread force.

The movie keeps me captivated till the end. Even having in addition to its lighter notes and macabre lunacy something interesting, and perhaps a bit profound to say, about the effect that our affectations put on, can cause to ourselves and others.

A good way to spend 90 minutes. Recommended. C+/B-.