Results tagged “Horror”

The Zodiac Killer (1971) Blu-ray Review: Trap Them and Thrill Them

The American Film Genre Archive teams up with Something Weird Video to bring us a quintessential slice of sleazy '70s exploitation filmmaking, paired with a second, rarely-seen serial killer flick.
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Pop quiz, hotshot: How many films can you think of that were made to trap a serial killer? If you find yourself suddenly developing a headache at the mere notion of such a thing having ever taken place, it's probably time you checked out Tom Hanson's creepy low-budget exploitation flick from 1971, The Zodiac Killer. Cranked out on a whim and released less than three weeks after the infamous real life serial killer mailed what would prove to be the last letter for nearly three years, this very loose adaptation of one of the modern world's greatest unsolved mysteries was

Blackenstein (1973) Blu-ray Review: Withstanding the Tests of Taste and Time Alike

Severin Films and Vinegar Syndrome team up to bring us a certifiable guilty pleasure, which is probably most famous due to the unsolved murder of its creator.
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When it comes to connecting with a cult movie enthusiast, the mere mention of the blaxploitation genre can effectively inspire one's ticker to start pumpin' blood ‒ usually to the strains of a funky theme song we have come to adopt as our own over the years. For instance, if you so much as even say "Shaft" to me, you had best be prepared for my best Isaac Hayes impersonation. This also applies to the rarer horror subgenre of urban exploitation features, the best example of which would more than likely be AIP's lovably ridiculous (but still right on track)

Warlock Collection Blu-ray Review: Satan's Son Starts Franchise

Collects the three loosely connected movies in the Warlock series: one good, one weird, one dreadful.
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Like House II, Warlock was one of those movies that I remember seeing heavily advertised on television as a kid, and it occupied a place of real intrigue in my mind. I was too young to see it in the theater, and as it turns out (though I had no idea at the time) a shake-up at the production company meant that Warlock barely even saw a theatrical release. But the ads, with their canny use of "Carmina Burana" created a space of real menace in my consciousness. This new Blu-ray release, the Warlock Collection, brings all three movies (the

The Transfiguration DVD Review: A Boy Walks Home Alone at Night

A boy obsessed with vampires starts to act like one in this grim coming-of-age drama.
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Michael O’Shea’s feature film debut, The Transfiguration, is less of a movie about an actual vampire that stalks its prey, and more of a movie about a socially awkward boy who finds his escape from reality in stories about vampires. Of course, his obsession with vampires goes beyond just talking about them and debating with his new girlfriend about how things like Twilight and True Blood are not “realistic” portrayals of the vampire lore. Granted, he hasn’t even read Twilight, he tells her, but he doesn’t think vampires would ever really sparkle. He’s essentially the crazed fanboy, while she’s the

The Intruder (1975) Blu-ray Review: A Lost Regional Horror Film Comes Home to Slay

After 42 years of obscurity, the lost '70s proto-slasher ‒ complete with marquee value guest stars Mickey Rooney, Yvonne De Carlo, and Ted Cassidy ‒ finally gets a chance to see the night.
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Even after one viewing of Chris Robinson's 1975 regional horror flick The Intruder, you can roughly envision what would have befallen the film had it ever made it to cinemas. The frequent releases it would have seen on drive-in double feature programs throughout the rest of the decade, usually under a misleading alias coupled with an equally deceptive ad campaign. The inevitability of falling into the Public Domain, only to be released by every grey-market videocassette label in the '80s, wherein the names of the picture's marquee value stars ‒ Mickey Rooney, Ted Cassidy, and Yvonne De Carlo ‒ would

Beyond the Darkness (Buio Omega) Blu-ray Review: She's a Real Doll

Get stuffed as Severin Films proves a dynamic HD master can make even Joe D'Amato's most notorious schlocker look sharp and polished.
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Of all the Italian horror maestros whose various works I discovered and worshipped as a teenager in the analog era, none stood out quite like the great Aristide Massaccesi did. Best known by his more marketable anglicized alias Joe D'Amato, the late low-budget director/producer/writer/cinematographer/editor of sleazy European exploitation cinema cranked out nearly 200 directorial efforts alone throughout his wild ride on Earth before heading off to the world beyond in 1999. Fortunately, Joe left behind a wide and varied legacy for both the devout and the curious alike, with numerous contributions to every feasible film genre in existence, from westerns

Pulse Blu-ray Review: Loneliness is Hell

Japanese horror doesn't so much scare, but fills you with unnamed dread.
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Horror in the 1980s was all about the slasher - mindless monsters mutilating teenagers in desolate places. With Scream, released in 1996, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson stabbed the slasher in its cold, dead heart. Scream (and its numerous sequels and countless inspired-bys) satirized slasher films with a self-aware sarcastic mocking. Around this same time, Americans first began discovering (and then remaking) Asian horror in general and Japanese horror in specific. These films neither relied on blood-filled violence (though certainly Japan has its fair share of gore maestros - the films of Takashi Miike come immediately to mind)

Re-Animator Limited Edition Blu-ray Review: One of Horror's Truly Finest Films

Arrow pulls out all the stops for an all-time horror classic.
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The horror genre tends to get a really bad rap. Yes, I know that some movies of this rather reviled film category are cheesy, campy, over and under-acted. They may not cater to everyone, or match their movie tastes. However, this genre is one of the most influential in film history. Horror movies are not just blood and guts, they can go beyond that to reflect on how insane our society has become. They also deal with people who dare to play God and go against the nature of death. And director Stuart Gordon's incredible and legendary 1985 adaptation of

Book Review: Aliens: Bug Hunt, Edited by Jonathan Maberry

A nice collection of napalm-spewing, acid-spraying, high-flying, skin-crawling, face-hugging critters that marines want to shoot, and The Company wants to domesticate.
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Each film in the original Alien trilogy represents a unique approach to science fiction. Alien took sci-fi and suspense and doubled down on all the terrible rubber-suit space-man movies of yore, giving something that made viewers genuinely squeamish. Aliens set the bar for "guns in space," a standard that I'm not sure another film has come within shouting distance of since, at least not with the same sense of looming dread -- Starship Troopers was laughably satirical and, let's face it, the Star Wars movies are more about toys and cartoons than dealing with weighty themes or meaningful drama. What

Night of the Living Dead (40th Ann. Ed.) DVD Review: A Classic

The key to its success, and a lesson for filmmakers of today, is keep it simple.
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After 40 years, this little film made by a bunch of people who were still learning their craft, produced on a shoestring budget, starring both actors and non-actors whom you had never heard of, still manages to do exactly what it was intended: scare the audience. Produced in 1968, the film that set the trend for all zombie movies to come, tells the story of a group of people trapped in a farmhouse surrounded by zombies over the course of a night in which radiation from space has caused the recently deceased to come back to life in search of

Doberman Cop (1977) Blu-ray Review: Sonny Chiba Does It Doggy Style

Arrow Video unleashes a truly mind-blowing 1970s exploitation action-comedy equivalent to fusion cuisine starring the larger-than-life Shin'ichi Chiba.
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An unconventional policeman from the boonies travels to the big city to help out on a case, complete with a pet pig in tow. No, it's not the beginning of another Italian cop comedy starring Terence Hill. Rather, this particular picture marked both the beginning and the end of two distinctively different eras in Japanese cinema. After maybe overdoing the yakuza genre just a tad throughout the '70s, the film industry in Japan started to explore different options. And if there is one good word which may be employed in a noble effort to accurately describe all of the sights

Wolf Guy (1975) Blu-ray Review: Lycanthropy, Grindhouse Style

Arrow Video throws us a bone in the form of a shapeshifting werewolf feller like no other.
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Much like vampirism, the subject of lycanthropy is generally reserved for horror films. Or perhaps a comedy horror film. There have even been action horror comedies pertaining to the subject of werewolves and shapeshifters. But there are very few movies like Wolf Guy floating about. In fact, I think Kazuhiko Yamaguchi's Wolf Guy may be a real one-of-a-kind filmic outing; a gory, over-the-top Japanese action thriller which has very little to do with the common folklore western civilization seems to be better familiar with. But then, I can't even say Wolf Guy's peculiarity is purely attributable to a foreign culture

Madhouse (1981) Blu-ray Review: A Film Where No One is Fully Committed

Arrow Video's recently discharged slasher flick is so lazy, its composer ripped-off his own work.
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Perhaps one of the most alluring features to be observed within the boundaries of Italian exploitation movies was the industry's tendency to rip-off anyone's work, including their own. Sometimes, the references are quite obvious, such as when they make sequels to other people's movies. Other times, the connections are much more subtle (by Italian filmmaking standards, that is). In the instance of Madhouse, however, we're served a little bit of both: its various parallels to other works are undoubtedly noticeable, but none of them can hold a birthday candle to the fact that the legendary, late great composer Riz Ortolani

The Unholy (1988) Blu-ray Review: Damp Devil Movie Gets Superb Release

Another cult film where you had to be there, The Unholy's Blu-ray extras show what went wrong.
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Devil movies work best when they have a core of revelation. They need characters to struggle against the reality of the devil in their stories, to search for any rational explanation that is evil is not real, has a face, and is looking at them. The Exorcist might end with a half hour of puking, swearing Linda Blair, but that's not until the poor girl is subjected to weeks of medical and psychological tests. Directed by Camilo Vila, The Unholy, a cult favorite devil movie that has finally seen release on Blu-ray feels like it understands the core of what

Brain Damage (1988) Blu-ray Review: The Greatest Drug Parable Never Aired

Frank Henenlotter's rude, crude, cult horror-comedy classic receives a fresh fix from Arrow Video in this must-have release.
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While it has been something of a long time since he brought us a new feature film, it's still safe to say no one can make a horror movie like Frank Henenlotter. Sure, a countless many may have tried, but no one has ever truly succeeded in emulating Mr. Henenlotter's bizarre form. From that glorious moment in 1982 when his first feature film, Basket Case ‒ the story of a man (as played by the great Kevin Van Hentenryck) who keeps his deformed killer Siamese twin in a wicker basket, letting the little rubber bugger out as they track down

House: Two Stories Blu-ray Review: '80s Horror Done Weird

The very '80s horror/fantasy movie series gets a lavish box-set Blu-ray release.
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House II is one of the few movies I can remember seeing ads for on TV when I was watching cartoons in the afternoon. The ad would come on again and again, and it looked like everything I could want in a movie - monsters, human sacrifice, John Ratzenberger. However, it was also a horror movie (kind of) so no one in my family would take me to see it in the theater. When I eventually got to see it on VHS it didn't become a favorite, but there was so much strange content in there, so many weird little

From Hell It Came (1957) Blu-ray Review: This Is More Like 'Heaven-Sent'

One of the most amusingly bad drive-in monster movies ever conceived receives a beautiful new HD transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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What can you say about a monster movie featuring a walking, stalking, murderous tree on a wooden rampage? In the instance of From Hell It Came, you can say a whole heck of a lot just by saying very little. In fact, the most commonly referenced review of the movie was a six-word piece which read nothing more than "And to Hell it can go!" But ne'er fear, kiddies ‒ From Hell It Came has managed to uproot itself and terrorize unsuspecting filmgoers once again. This time, however, bad movie aficionados 'round the world will be able to fully immerse

Inquisition (1976) Blu-ray Review: 'Let's Face It, You Can't Torquemada Anything!'

Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy's directorial debut gets the full treatment in this shocking, sleazy, and sinful release now available from Mondo Macabro.
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As a small child, Jacinto Molina became heavily captivated and inspired by the classic Universal horror movies of the '30s and '40s. So much so, in fact, that he would later craft his own series of bloody horror outings in his native Spain under his better-known alias, Paul Naschy. All but begetting the Spanish horror boom of the late '60s and '70s, Naschy's more celebrated character would be that of a tormented lycanthrope named Waldemar Daninsky, whom his creator (and portrayer) continued to torture onscreen more than a dozen times over a span of 36 years in-between his many varied

Get Out Blu-ray Review: Get In

Writer Jordan Peele makes a winning theatrical debut as director.
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Get Out was a surprise critical and commercial box-office success earlier this year, seemingly coming out of nowhere to make a lasting impression. Although its themes borrow liberally from disparate film predecessors, primarily Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives, the movie as a whole is a welcome breath of fresh air in the overwhelmingly formulaic U.S. film industry. It’s principally marketed as a horror film, and while it certainly has its share of thrills, it’s more of a Black Mirror alternate-universe mindgame than a typical gory, blood-soaked horror flick. The movie follows an eventful weekend for a

Evil Ed Blu-ray Review: Not Evil Dead, But Evil Ed

Still looking for that beaver-rape scene.
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Similar to the Hays Code in the United States but officially state-sponsored, Sweden created a censorship board in 1911. Designed to keep anything offensive from perverting the young minds of moviegoers, it banned movies as diverse as Battleship Potemkin, Nosferatu, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Mad Max from being played in Swedish theaters. With the rise of home video, an influx of illegal bootleg VHS tapes began finding its way to film fans across the country. By the 1990s, a growing number of filmmakers and movie lovers began protesting this censorship by demanding that the law be thrown out. Writer
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