Results tagged “Horror”

Stephen King's Storm of the Century (1999) DVD Review: Intriguing Premise at Snail's Pace

Perhaps the best of the run of Stephen King TV movies, Storm is atmospheric, creepy, and slow, slow, slow.
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TV made sense as its own thing until about 20 years ago. Nowadays, what constitutes TV is so sprawling and broken up that it's not really one thing anymore. Twenty years ago, cable was not king, and there weren't that many networks (though, to understand the zeitgeist of TV criticism, one should note Bruce Springsteen could chart a single in 1992 called "57 Channels and Nothin' On") and so the big TV networks competed in splashy ways to get eyes-on, especially in sweeps weeks. Sweeps were the few times during the year, one a quarter, when the Nielsen Company processed

The Dead Center Blu-ray Review: Mostly Effective Psychological Horror

Primer's Shane Carruth stars in psychological and supernatural horror tale, where a suicide returns from the dead... but not alone.
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A spiral is integral to The Dead Center's imagery and story. A spiral appears on the photographs of a body from a crime scene, some sort of scar or lumps of tissue on his person. It wasn't seen in the autopsy because none was performed - the man breathes back to life on the gurney in the morgue, sneaks out, and ends up in a psychiatric ward. He was long dead when the paramedics brought him in; now he's catatonic, staring, and has become two doctors' problem: the medical examiner whose corpse has gone missing, and the psychiatrist who wants

Ringu Collection Blu-ray Review: Ghostly Revenge, Again and Again

Four weird, gripping and often terrifying films of spectral revenge that began the J-horror boom are now on Blu-ray.
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Horror as a genre tends to go through brief periods of inspiration, followed by long slogs of imitation. If you're unlucky, the inspired breakout hit is something like Saw, and as a horror fan you have to sit through years of vile dreck until something better comes along to rejigger the landscape. In the late '90s, horror was in one of its down-turn phases: the mid-'90s crackdown on letting youngsters into R-rated movies had the effect (still felt today) that to get the primary audience for horror, the young, you needed to be PG-13, which means violence has to be

Scars of Dracula Blu-ray Review: A Bit of a Retread but Still Enjoyable

While understandably not held in high regard, there's still some fun to be had seeing Lee back as the Count.
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Scars of Dracula is Hammer's sixth Dracula film and the fifth to feature Christopher Lee. It follows a familiar template: Dracula is resurrected, causes mayhem among the local citizenry, sets his sights--er, fangs on one particular lovely maiden, and is defeated in the end. It's one of the lesser of the series because it's a bit of a retread, but it was still enjoyable when one is in the mood for some classic horror. Scars opens in Dracula's castle, not the church where he died in the previous film, Taste the Blood of Dracula. As stated in the extras, this

Nightmare Beach Blu-ray Review: Somebody Wake Me Up

Slasher horror meets spring break comedy in this terrible '80s hybrid from schlock master Umberto Lenzi.
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If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to mix an ‘80s slasher with an ‘80s spring break comedy, then Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare Beach is for you. Well, actually it isn’t for anybody because it is a terrible, terrible movie. It wasn’t even for Umberto Lenzi for he swears he didn’t direct it (at least according to IMDB trivia). He was signed on to direct but at the last minute decided it was too similar to one of his other films (Seven Blood Stained Orchids) and begged off the production. The credits name a “Harry Kilpatrick” as the director

Midsommar Blu-ray Review: Unsettling in Any Season

Ari Aster's follow-up to Hereditary confirms his unique talent.
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Midsommar is marketed as a horror film, but it’s so different from the typical entries in that genre that it really belongs in a category all its own. While there is a bit of stomach-churning gore and an overbearing sense of dread as writer/director Ari Aster leads us down his twisted rabbit hole, there’s also an intriguing anthropological study of an insular Swedish culture that reveals unexpected layers of beauty in its madness. Where most horror films increase their scares by incorporating night settings, Midsommar frightens viewers in the full light of day during a festival occurring during the season

The Prey Blu-ray Review: Pray You'll Never Have To Watch

Arrow Video does an excellent job presenting this should-have-been forgotten slasher in a very nice package.
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The 1980s were a great time for horror movies in general and slasher flicks in particular. With the advent of home video and the booming popularity of video rental stores, there was suddenly a need for more and more videos to stock those shelves. Lots of studios specializing in cheaply made, straight-to-video movies sprung up overnight. Horror fans are a motley lot and easily amused. They are not known for snobbish attitudes, willing to take a chance (and often enjoy) films of lower budget and artistic caliber. As long as the film has plenty of violence, at least some blood-soaked

Los Angeles' Secret Movie Club Unveils Festival of Horror Programming

Midnight screenings of seminal horror films, including John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy and two Dia De Los Muertos-themed screenings.
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Press release: The Los Angeles-based Secret Movie Club has officially unveiled the programming slate for its FESTIVAL OF HORROR film series, which will run throughout the month of October and culminate on November 2. The FESTIVAL OF HORROR films run the gamut from the classic (a FRANKENSTEIN/ BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN Universal Studios matinee double feature) to the contemporary (THE WITCH), and from the iconic (including a TWILIGHT ZONE MARATHON) to the obscure (a double feature of two films produced by Val Lewton for RKO Studios) and includes John Carpenter’s seminal APOCALYPSE TRILOGY. The FESTIVAL OF HORROR film series begins on

The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2 Blu-ray Review: Flashback City

Arrow Video does a nice job spiffing up this movie that is so bad even the director disowned it.
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Wes Craven is often placed near the top of lists concerning the greatest horror filmmakers of all time, and rightly so. He was at the forefront of the gritty, ultra-violent new wave of horror films in the 1970s making such low budget classics as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. In the 1980s, he rejuvenated the slasher genre by creating the iconic Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street, then reinvented it with the very meta and very ‘90s Scream films. But while he deserves all the accolades, let us not forget he was

Harpoon (2019) Movie Review: A Gory, Gutsy, Giddy Voyage

Filled with blood and betrayal, Harpoon is sometimes tough to swallow, but easy to love.
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The first 15 minutes of Rob Grant’s Harpoon are slow. Grant is methodical in the way he introduces each character, using archival footage and flashbacks to give all the exposition one needs for a good story. We understand each of our three protagonists, or antagonists by the end of the film, and can plainly see where they fit within the interlocking friendships. The roles are set. The pecking order is established. And with that, Harpoon doesn’t just walk or run to the next conflicts, it sprints at breakneck speed, shattering everything in its path. The film centers around three friends,

Hellraiser (1987) Blu-ray Review: Clive Barker's Semi-professional Debut

An erotic and grotesque twist on a haunted house story, with an unsettling horrific vision that supersedes some film-making fumbles.
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Roger Ebert hated Hellraiser when it came out, giving it half a star. He starts with the money quote Stephen King gave the director/writer on his literary debut: "I have seen the future of horror, and it is Clive Barker." Ebert quips: "Maybe Stephen King was thinking of a different Clive Barker." Cute, but it ignores the strengths that Barker was bringing to the horror game, which in the mid-'80s literary world was becoming big business. First, Clive wrote with style. There are decent stylists in the horror world at the time (Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell) but there was a

Memory: The Origins of Alien Movie Review: From Whence a Legend Came

How Crohn's disease became a chestburster.
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I've seen many making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes for movies before, especially ones with elaborate special effects. I've seen documentaries about the visionaries behind creature design. What's rare is a film that has such a breadth and wealth of inspiration that merely looking at everything it drew from and had injected into it to become an iconic, genre-defining powerhouse warrants an hour and a half discussion with experts just to get a handle on all of it. Insert Memory: The Origins of Alien, directed and written by Alexandre O. Philippe, which dives deep into all of the decades of influence that

Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: Koko-di Koko-da: Horror Through Repetition

Dying over and over shouldn't be fun, but Koko-di Koko-da sure is a creepy joyride.
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I’ve never been a huge fan of horror movies. Jump scares, bloody creatures, and demonic possessions aren’t really my cup of tea. I see them all as one movie: a predictable, harrowing couple of hours that never ceases to keep me up at night. Johannes Nyholm’s Swedish drama Koko-di Koko-da just changed my mind. Slapping together Groundhog Day with Cabin in the Woods, Nyholm produces a low-budget, comedy-horror-drama of sorts that extends the boundaries of genre. You won’t be falling out of your seat or covering your eyes with your hands while watching the film, you will be chuckling at

The Banana Splits Movie Blu-ray Review: The Bananas 'Dole' out Some Death

Take a live-action kids show from the '60s and throw in some creative murders with lots of gore, and it’s a win-win! Right?
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Ron Ruhman with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC as part of their Saturday morning line-up in September of 1968 and featured the fictional rock group The Banana Splits. The group was comprised of four costumed characters: Fleegle, a dog; Bingo, an ape; Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, an elephant. Not a banana in the bunch. They had a clubhouse where they held meetings and rocked out, while introducing animated segments such as The Arabian Knights

Alice, Sweet Alice Blu-ray Review: Has Surprisingly Aged Very Well

Alfred Sole's underrated shocker gets a new, superb upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
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When it comes to horror cinema, I think 1970s horror stands at the top for me. Everyone, even those who don't particularly care for the genre, has to have at least five or six favorites from that decade. There was something for everyone, meaning that every film, even the not-so-good ones had at least some type of theme to them. The '70s was a decade of hopelessness and uncertainty, and its horror flicks reflected that. Even more so, there were a lot of often overlooked gems that flew under the radar, including Black Christmas (1974), The Crazies (1973), Martin (1977).

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Review: Terrifyingly Serviceable

Hardly any scary stories to tell.
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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark may be a Guillermo del Toro production, yet his singular directorial vision still feels present. Along with director Andre Ovredal, he incorporates his traditional mix of historical context and supernatural horror found in films such as The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. In this feature, the 1968 Presidential election and the Vietnam War attempt to act as an analog for the titular haunted tales. While the significance of the historical analog remains unclear, Scary Stories still works as a straightforward ghost story. In addition, it has the traditional machinations of a slasher film,

The Leopard Man (1943) Blu-ray Review: Subtle, Underrated '40s Chiller

A disappointment to its creators on release, The Leopard Man is one of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur's hidden gems.
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Based on Cornell Woolrich's dark novel, Black Alibi, The Leopard Man was the first property Val Lewton wanted to develop when he became the head of a B-film unit at RKO in 1942. The studio, stinging from very public, very expensive commercial fizzling of wunderkind's Orson Welles' Magnificent Ambersons, wanted to pump out cheap horror pictures in the vein of Universal's famous monster movies. Val Lewton, a protégé of David O. Selznick who acted as, among other duties, an uncredited writer for some scenes of Gone With the Wind, was a literate and intelligent man who understood that without money

Universal Horror Collection, Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: Atwill Employment, Mostly

Scream Factory brings us four classics from the vault starring the legendary talents of Lionel Atwill and George Zucco.
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The phrase "classic Universal horror" is most likely to get a vintage monster movie enthusiast to talk nerd shop about the timeless charm and chills of the iconic studio's best-loved creations. Dracula. The Frankenstein monster. The Mummy. The Invisible Man. The Wolf Man. You know, those guys. But there were many more ghoulish productions filmed on the proverbial backlot than some people may realize. In fact, Universal Studios made nearly twice as many non-canon horror movies compared to their major franchise entries. But it wasn't until Scream Factory unleashed the first volume of the much-needed Universal Horror Collection ‒ a

Midsommar Movie Review: A Luminous Hellscape

Beautifully nightmarish and insidious with a tremendous Florence Pugh performance.
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When Ari Aster made his feature film debut with Hereditary, it was a demented portrait of grief and anxiety covered in near darkness. His follow-up film, Midsommar, is an equally demented demonstration of mental illness that is drenched in sunlight instead of darkness. As a result of its sunny disposition, it ends up being more unsettling than Hereditary and is proof that Aster is a potential horror master. The film’s opening sequence is one of the few points where our main characters are in the shadows. Dani (Florence Pugh), the main protagonist, is having a meltdown over her bipolar sister

Universal Horror Collection, Vol. 1 Blu-ray Review: Bela Lugosi Versus Boris Karloff

A nice collection of four films starring the Universal Horror icons.
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The year 1931 saw the release of both Dracula and Frankenstein. Both became absolute classics of the horror genre, cornerstones for the long-lasting Universal Monsters series, and made their stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, into cultural icons. If you’ve seen Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood, then you might be under the impression that the two stars were big rivals and rather hated each other. Certainly, the publicity departments surrounding their films gave off that impression as a means to sell more tickets. But family members of both actors have always stated that the two held no animosity towards one
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