They say that there are only so many story ideas to go around, and that everything is influenced by something else. This theory is never more true than when it is applied to horror films, where even the best slasher or haunted house movie is indicative of an earlier movie; let’s face it – Devil’s Due is basically Rosemary’s Baby and Ouija is essentially Witchboard. Some are pretty obvious (basically, all vampire movies can be traced back to Nosferatu), but many are subtle. In 1931, Universal Studios made the definitive version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, turning Boris Karloff into a horror legend. Sixty years later, in 1991, one of the more clever variations of the Frankenstein tale was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public when Body Parts was released.
The cinematic universe lost another star this weekend with the passing of the stunning Anita Ekberg at the age of 83. Born in Sweden, Ekberg did some modeling and light acting in America before being “re-discovered” by Federico Fellini in Italy when the director cast her in La Dolce Vita. Ekberg quickly became a commodity in Europe, making movies in just about every genre imaginable. In 1969, the beautiful bombshell dabbled in the horror world by starring in the vampire tale Fangs of the Living Dead.
There are few novelists who have had as much success getting their works turned into films as Stephen King. Seemingly every page that has come out of the writer’s prolific imagination has been made into a movie, mini-series, or anthology television episode. Big-name filmmakers line up to work with him, too; the movies made from his first six books alone were directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie), Tobe Hooper (Salem’s Lot), Stanley Kubrick (The Shining), Lewis Teague (Cujo), David Cronenberg (The Dead Zone), and John Carpenter (Christine). In 1993, another horror heavyweight took a crack at adapting one of King’s books when the legendary George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Martin) made The Dark Half.
One of the most effective things that a horror movie can do is take a seemingly innocuous presence and turn it into something frightening. A popular subject for this treatment is insects; everyone sees them every day without much thought, but when a movie makes them go haywire, it’s terrifying. Whether it is ants, like in Phase IV, or bees, such as in The Deadly Bees, insects can be effective movie antagonists. In 1988, The Nest brought another insect into the spotlight, one that already had a bad reputation as a creepy-crawly: the cockroach.
Killer Santa Claus movies have been the go-to Christmas horror films ever since the slasher movie came into prominence in the early eighties. The 1984 bloodfest Silent Night, Deadly Night is the film that comes to most people’s minds when they think of killer Santas, but it wasn’t the first. Cinema Fearité has already discussed Christmas Evil, a similar themed film that came out in November of 1980. However, one movie beat even that one to the punch; in January of 1980, a psychopath in a Saint Nick suit was killing kids in To All a Goodnight.
What a confusing year 2014 has been for the horror world. Home video and VOD releases dominated the scene, and those fans who did leave the comfort of their own couch ended up at the local art house theater instead of the multiplex. While the big studios disappointed, the indies really picked up the slack. Here are one fan’s opinions as to the top-ten horror movies of 2014.
Ever since George Méliès’ groundbreaking 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, science fiction has been one of the campier genres in movie history. The silliness ran rampant throughout the fifties, with alien invasion movies like Robot Monster and The Man from Planet X inspiring more amusement than terror. In the late seventies, Ridley Scott’s Alien flipped the script on the sci-fi label, stripping the corniness away and turning it into a genre that could really scare people. In 1997, another pivotal movie in the sci-fi horror world was released, the absolutely horrifying Event Horizon.
Real-life legendary monsters make great fodder for horror films. Whether it’s the mythical Abominable Snowman in Shriek of the Mutilated or the Bigfoot-like Fouke Monster in The Legend of Boggy Creek, nothing scares people like something that can actually get them, even if that fear is fueled by paranoid speculation. When a few groups of the more aggressive Africanized honey bees escaped from their South American hives and were rumored to be heading for America in the fifties, movies about swarming killer bees were bound to follow. The first of these was, surprisingly, a British film, made in 1966, called The Deadly Bees.
Back in the days before cable television and home video, there were basically two ways to see a movie; one could go to the theater and see the movie as it was intended, or one could wait a few months (or years) until the movie hit T.V., where it would be shown edited for time and content. To compete with theaters, broadcast networks took to producing their own made-for-T.V. movies, and these television movie-of-the-week offerings included a handful of films that went on to become horror classics, movies like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and even the first adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Sometimes, the T.V. movies were less-than-classic, but still ended up being a lot of fun. Such is the case with 1972’s Moon of the Wolf.
Thanksgiving horror movies are hard to come by; Turkey Day fright flicks just aren’t as plentiful as those set on Christmas or Halloween, and those that are out there are, well, turkeys. In past years, Cinema Fearité has featured Home Sweet Home, Blood Freak, and Blood Rage. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your dinner table, we’ve dug up another hidden holiday horror. This year’s Thanksgiving offering is a science fiction/horror T.V. movie from 1998 called Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.
Around the same time that Motown Records was doing its thing in the big city of Detroit, Stax records was recording and releasing music down south in Memphis. The output from these two labels represented the best of what American music had to offer, and continued well into the days of the British Invasion of the mid-sixties. Although Motown had more chart success and record sales, Stax had the attitude; the cool mix of blues, gospel, funk, and jazz that became a recognizable sound all its own. Director Martin Shore tells the Stax story, but not in the traditional way, in his new documentary Take Me to the River.
If you have not seen Frank, stop at the end of this paragraph and go see it. Do not check IMDB, watch a trailer, or read any reviews or publicity materials for the film, just go see it. The rest of this article will deal with a spoiler that is not really a spoiler, because just about all promotional materials for the film make it common knowledge. But, Frank is the kind of movie where the surprise reveal of the identity of the title character is a key aspect of the effectiveness of the film. So do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go watch Frank. We’ll be right here.
Meet Wetlands' Helen (Carla Juri). She is in her post-teen years, still lives at home, is quite pretty with her tomboy haircut that is juxtaposed with her liking for very short shirts. She is a tiny bit insecure, and extremely precocious; exhibiting a child-like sense in her very much young adult body. Helen is also extremely vulgar in everything that she does. Obsessed with sex, sexuality, and pushing the boundaries of appropriateness there is no end to what Helen will do. Or what those around her will be compelled to do by her influence. Helen is, in a word, amazing. Solely for the fact that she exhibits everything that is wrong for a girl of her age, and you instantly fall in love with her because of this fact.
Rich Hill, Missouri, is a small town of less than 1400 located about 90 minutes south of Kansas City. The town’s citizens are a mixture of the working class and the poverty stricken, but they hold on to hope. A new documentary, simply called Rich Hill, paints a picture of the town as seen through the eyes of three of its residents, all teenaged boys.
Jimi: All Is By My Side is a film with multiple problems serious enough that the couple of very good things it has going for it stand little chance of compensating. As written and directed by 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley, the narrative sets off down familiar musical biopic lane: musician discovered; gains success; deals with distractions and behaves badly; and that's it.. Perhaps because the production was denied the use of Hendrix's music by his estate (holding out for full control of the production), the story ends in mid-1967, with Jimi and his Experience trooping off to Monterey and international fame.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Electric Daisy Carnival, an electronic dance music festival held in several different locations all over the world during the summer months. The festival brings fans together into a musical circus-like atmosphere for three days of non-stop partying. The largest of these gatherings is the one that takes place in Las Vegas, NV, and that is the one that is at the center of Under the Electric Sky.
In Yiddish, the word “mensch” refers to “a person of integrity and honor.” One would not think that it would be a term that could apply a showbiz manager, but it is the best description for Shep Gordon. Even those who have never heard of Shep Gordon are probably familiar with his clients. He’s one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful players, having represented musical heavyweights like Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, and Teddy Pendergrass. His list of A-list friends is exponentially longer than his artist stable, and the guest lists to his famous parties read like a who’s-who of Hollywood. And every one of these friends and acquaintances has nothing but good things to say about him. He’s more than a mensch, he’s a Supermensch, hence the title of the intriguing documentary about his life and times, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.
“I don’t know if they’re here, or have ever been here, but I definitely do believe in them.” William Eubank, director of The Signal ponders the existence of aliens and UFOs. It’s a fair question; The Signal is all about the possibility of extraterrestrial life on Earth, and Eubank’s first film, Love, was produced and scored by the rock band Angels & Airwaves, whose famous frontman, Tom Delonge, is an outspoken alien conspiracist. Eubank speaks fondly of Delonge - “I’ve sat in his backyard many a time with night vision goggles, looking at the sky. He’s a good dude.”
Water is something we all take for granted. We couldn’t exist without it, yet we only think about it when it’s running scarce. We use it to cook, clean, work, and play, and we do it all on a daily basis. Renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky has teamed up with filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal (Payback) to pay tribute to the most overlooked and underappreciated of the Classical Elements in the documentary Watermark.
In 2007, a young realtor named John Maloof was looking for pictures of different areas of Chicago for a book that he was compiling. He bought a storage unit for $380 that contained thousands of negatives and a bunch of undeveloped rolls of film. When he examined the negatives, he saw some of the most captivating street photography that had ever been taken. He knew that he was onto something, so he snooped around the locker a bit more and found pieces of mail addressed to a woman named Vivian Maier. Seeing that there was a story developing, he enlisted producer Charlie Siskel (“Tosh.0”) to help him tell it, and the resulting documentary is Finding Vivian Maier.
The moment has arrived, Universal unleashed the first trailer for Jurassic World. Call it a re-boot, a re-make, a complete waste of time, or the best thing to come in 2015. Whatever you do, don't ever tell this movie lover that you don't care about Jurassic World; my bite is ferocious.
From the trailer, there are questions that will surely be raised. My biggest one is whether or not there will be a reference to the prior three films, or whether Jurassic World is poised to stand on its own and in fact be a new telling of the famous story about the dinos we love ever so much on screen. The trailer makes me think that it is an entirely new story, with the park being created anew and any signs of the past washed away by Hollywood's ever-present eraser.
You knew it was bound to happen, and it has officially. The character posters for the Rebel Warriors of The Hunger Games; Mockingjay Part 1 have been released. You've got Gale, Pollux, Messalla, Cressida, Boggs, and Castor all looking very serious, and very ready to battle.
Are you ready for your daily dose of adorableness? Disney's "Feast" is here to help you on your way with brand-new images from the upcoming short film. Who knew an animated puppy could bring so much joy, and such a big smile to one's face.
"Feast" will release in theatres November 7, 2014, playing with Big Hero 6. Until then, go ahead and fall in love with the adorable puppy, Winston.
I will admit, the trailer for Annabelle may not be terrifying to you. For me, it is, thanks to a debilitating fear of creepy dolls. Annabelle is one of the scariest dolls I have ever seen on film--I have The Conjuring to thank--and I have seen an incredible amount of movies. Regardless, the trailer for Annabelle will get your senses going, and your anticipation peaked for this sort-of prequel to The Conjuring.
Everyone who enjoys viewing the 'Sad Keanu' picture that is plastered all over the internet--you know the one, don't deny it--well, it is time to play homage to a new Keanu Reeves photo...that of him looking bad ass in the upcoming John Wick.
Reeves plays ex-hitman John Wick who must come out of retirement in order to battle gangsters. Yes, you read that correctly...gangsters vs. Keanu Reeves. Amazing.
It is a special treat when a movie like Chef is created. A film full of heart that brings out your emotions organically, without the need for gimmicks or special circumstance. Jon Favreau's Chef deserves the accolades it has received thus far since release in May and those that are sure to follow come awards season (fingers crossed). Chef is being re-released in theatres for a special engagement begininning August 29, 2014. If you did not have a chance to catch this gem of a film before in theatres now is your chance--and do not pass it up.
It has taken years for a movie version of Marvel's Ant-Man character to the screen. Some may say it is unnecessary; others are full of joy and anticipation. Either way, the Ant-Man movie has started production in San Francisco, CA and a first-look photo of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man has been released.
Here he is, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man.
Jason Reitman had a rough time of it last year when Labor Day did not sit well with audiences or critics. A far cry from his previous works that received rave reviews and awards aplenty, such as Up In The Air. It is a new year and with that comes a new movie for Reitman to deliver to the masses--and hope that this time goes better than the last. Reitman's latest is Men, Women & Children, yet another dramedy set around familial life, this time with the internet age taking center stage.
She may not exactly be a punk rocker any longer, but being a mother post-punk is tough for Juliette Lewis' Kelly in the trailer debut for Kelly & Cal from IFC Films. Cal, 17, is having a tough time at life as well. Enter the unlikely friendship of these two different people and the way they will each make everything just a little easier to manage for one another.
For those who have seen Guardians of the Galaxy you know the enjoyment there was to be had with Groot dancing. If you have not seen the film, then you're in luck as a clip of Groot dancing has been released. If the clip does not convince you to go see the movie read the review here and get yourself to the movies.
The process of crowdfunding has been a touchy one among movie fans. Established filmmakers like Zach Braff and Spike Lee have come under fire for wanting to raise money for their films through campaigns on Kickstarter, while the Veronica Mars movie obliterated its goal in a single day. Now, another established director is turning to crowdsourcing for movie money: horror icon Rob Zombie.
Disney is taking multiple stories from The Brothers Grimm fairytales and mashing them up into one intertwined story with Into The Woods. This is of course nothing new for Disney, as they have been reimagining The Brothers Grimm stories for eons. But it is a new twist on old stories, and with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp, to name a few, it is sure to be a star-studded musical outing.
Have you been forced to watched "SpongeBob Squarepants" with your niece, nephew, friend's child, or more than likely your own child over and over again? Have you ever been able to figure out the plot or theme of an episode? Me neither. There is hope that the movie SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of Water will make more sense. Or are we asking far too much? The time will come to decide in 2015 when the movie is released. Until then, I dare you to watch the trailer...
Have you ever wondered what Vin Diesel would sound like speaking Russian, Mandarin Chinese, or just plain old common Spanish? Well, you are in luck as videos have been released where you can hear Diesel dubbing his lines for Guardians of the Galaxy in those three languages, and two more.
It just so happens that two evenings ago I was in the company of children and they chose to watch Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Imagine my surprise when the first teaser trailer for Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb popped up in my inbox this morning--and I must admit I had no idea they were making a third film in the franchise. There is more fun to be had this time around with all of the characters we remember from the other two films, and some new ones too.
In case you have not had enough of a fix over the past 20 years of Forrest Gump playing on television you are in luck. Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are re-releasing the film in IMAX theatres to celebrate its 20th anniversary. You will only have one-week to catch Forrest Gump on IMAX screens, starting September 5, 2014. Make sure to bring a box of chocolates, and kleenex (Forrest Gump made me cry like a baby).
To put a little spring in your step, and get your funny bone working, here is the brand-new red band trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. You remember the hilarious original, right? It featured a hot tub, that was a time machine, and a band of misfit comedic actors who got taken back in time to the 80s. Yes, it was epic in all its ridiculousness, and now there is a new chapter of time travelin' hot tubbin' to be done. Oh, the anticipation!
Scream Factory, the horror imprint of home video distributor Shout Factory which fans have lovingly dubbed “the Criterion of horror,” announced plans for ten new blu-ray titles during their Friday night Comic-Con panel. Here are the newest members of the Scream Factory Family: