In the wake of John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween and Sean S. Cunningham’s equally legendary Friday the 13th, film studios everywhere in the early eighties rushed to get their own psycho killer movies into theaters. The era that has come to be known as the Golden Age of the Slasher saw dozens, if not hundreds, of splatter flicks released, each bloodier than the last, and many with exploitative names like The Prowler, Madman, and Maniac. Fitting right in with the most stereotypically titled of the Golden Age Slashers is the 1984 schlock flick The Mutilator.
From the very beginning of cinematic history, there have been movies about trains. One of the first “Actualitiés” by the Lumiére Brothers in 1895 was Arrival of a Train at la Ciotat. In 1903, filmmaker Edwin S. Porter introduced the world to composite editing and location shooting with The Great Train Robbery. The horror world has given audiences Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and the seminal slasher Terror Train, as well as modern classics like Snowpiercer and Transsiberian. And that’s just the tip of the symbolic iceberg – there have been plenty more, lesser-known train horror movies. For example, in 1941, after Porter but before Hitchcock, a horrifying locomotive pulled into the station in the appropriately titled The Ghost Train.
A lot of weird stuff can be found on the internet. The general rule is that just about anything – and I do mean anything – is just a Google search away. For example: who would have thought that Competitive Endurance Tickling was a thing? Well, if you believe the new documentary Tickled, apparently it is.
For classic horror back in the day, there were basically two big studios; America had Universal Pictures and Great Britain had Hammer Film Productions. But, there were also smaller companies that pumped out movies as well, one of which was American International Pictures, headed up by uber-producer Samuel Z. Arkoff. AIP made and distributed B-movies, many of which fit squarely into the fright flick genre, from the mid-fifties right up until the company’s absorption in the early eighties. In 1965, right at the apex of the company’s output, AIP distributed the classic British creepfest Die, Monster, Die!
Not only is Jack the Ripper one of the most famous and infamous killers of all time, he’s also a pretty good movie villain. Whether the movie sticks relatively close to the true story, like Jack the Ripper, or takes things in a surreal mashup direction, such as in Edge of Sanity, Jack is always a fun antagonist. A movie can even transport the slicey Brit into the future and still be effective. Case in point: the eighties crime thriller Jack’s Back.
Whether one considers him one of the freshest voices in modern cinema or just a hack Hitchcock imitator, there’s no doubt that Brian De Palma has made some of the most important movies of the last half century. Now, fellow directors Noah Baumbach (Mistress America) and Jake Paltrow (“NYPD Blue”) turn the camera around on the iconic filmmaker in the simply titled documentary De Palma.
When it comes to horror remakes, there are two approaches that can be taken. First is one of replication, where the filmmaker simply imitates the story and style of the original. The recent remake of Carrie did this, as did the new rehash of Poltergeist (and don’t even get me started on Gus Van Sant’s Psycho). The other way of thinking is to take the basic premise of the original and run with it until something new and different emerges. These are the reboots that become legendary classics, movies such as David Cronenberg’s The Fly or Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac. Horror icon John Carpenter’s 1982 reimagining of The Thing belongs squarely in this second category.
Horror movie titles can be so commanding, especially when they’re telling the viewer not to do something. The word “Don’t” has appeared at the beginning of so many movie titles that silly director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block) spoofed the trend in his hilarious contribution to the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse. The “Don’t” movies can be subliminally cautionary, like Don’t Look Now. They can be sagely advisive, like Don’t Open Till Christmas. They can even wide-eyed and optimistic, like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. But, most of the time, they’re exploitatively demanding, like Don’t Go Near the Park, Don’t Go in the House, or Don’t Answer the Phone! Way back in 1973, one of the first movies to warn its viewers to “Don’t” do something was the proto-slasher Don’t Look in the Basement.
In 1994, Blizzard Entertainment released the game "Warcraft: Orcs & Humans," which created a universe so popular the company created three more games in the series; the most widely known and arguably the most popular being "World of Warcraft (WOW)." The "WOW" phenomenon has had its ups and downs in popularity among gamers, but it continues to have a solid following. The most shocking part of the games' story is that it took over 20 years to have a movie based on them made. Warcraft has finally arrived, rolled up in an action-packed, CGI-filled fantasy spectacle that will surely have "WOW" devotees grinning from ear-to-ear.
Whether it’s a badge of honor or a sign of disrespect is up for debate, but it seems as if, for better or worse, every reasonably successful horror movie in history gets remade, some more than once. Stephen King adaptations are no different; the superstar author’s first three books (Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, and The Shining) have all been made and remade (Carrie has gone through the reboot ringer twice). Now, since the reimagining of It has finally gathered enough steam (and a director and cast) to go into production, it seems like as good a time as any for Cinema Fearité to take a look back at the scariest television miniseries of 1990: Stephen King’s It.
In the sports world, the Green Bay Packers get a lot of attention for being fan-owned, as the NFL team has been possessed by shareholders for nearly an entire century. The Packers may be the only community owned organization in American professional sports, but worldwide, the practice is fairly common, especially among football clubs (the type of football that Americans refer to as soccer). A textbook example occurred in the early part of the twenty-first century when a group of British villagers pooled their money and bought a racehorse. Their unlikely story is told in Dark Horse.
In 1996, the late, great Wes Craven re-energized the fledgling horror genre with his smart, self-referential classic Scream. Craven found his inspiration two years earlier when, in 1994, he pulled back the curtain on filmmaking with the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel/reboot Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Both of these movies recognized and reflected upon the workings of the horror movie genre as part of their overall makeup. Well, when it comes to self-aware horror movies, the 1991 Troma-distributed, micro-budget horror comedy There’s Nothing Out There beat Craven to the punch by a few years.
In New Orleans, an elder care worker named Samantha Montgomery writes songs, records them acapella, and uploads them to YouTube under the internet name Princess Shaw. Half a world away in Israel, an eccentric musician named Ophir Kutiel, better known in the online world as Kutiman, scours the web for videos of musicians plying their craft and assembles them into “visual symphonies.” Presenting Princess Shaw shows what happens when Kutiman discovers the raw talent of Princess Shaw and puts his unique musical polish on it.
It’s graduation time, the point of the year where students switch the tassels over to the other side before tossing the whole cap into the air. Cinema Fearité’s quest to remain timely is just as fervent as any recent grad's thirst for knowledge, so this week, we’ve got a movie that is both seminal and topical: the 1981 slasher Graduation Day.