Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Beast of Hollow Mountain, The (1956) d. Nassour, Edward / Rodriguez, Ismael (Mexico/USA)
I’ve been a fan of dinosaurs and giant stop-motion beasties for as long as I can remember. Growing up in an age before Netflix, YouTube, VHS, or cable, the monster kid that was the young Doc was relegated to poring over the TV Guide every week to see what, if any, new thrills our local programmers had in mind for us, either via the 3:00 matinee movie or Friday and Saturday night’s helping of Creature Features. (Considering Mama AC didn’t let us watch hardly any television, it’s a bit perplexing as to why she kept purchasing the TV Guide in the first place, but I’m glad she did.) In order to be better informed as to which titles to be on the lookout for, I would haunt my public library and make extensive “to-see” lists from the various monster movie guides. As I whittled my way through the various big bug flicks, kaiju stompathons, and Ray Harryhausen showstoppers, one title that never seemed to wind up on the docket was the infamous “cowboys meets dinosaur” epic, The Beast of Hollow Mountain. Ultimately, about ten years ago, as I was completing my “Monster of Arts” degree, I broke down and bought a bootleg VHS version – something you’ll not have to resort to thanks to Scream Factory’s DVD/BR combo, released yesterday.
Neanderthal Man, The (1953) d. E.A. Dupont (USA)
You wouldn’t think that a nearly forgotten, cheapie black-and-white paleontological twist on the Jekyll/Hyde mythos would ever find itself in line for the Blu-ray treatment. But stranger things have happened, and so, thanks to the generous souls at Scream Factory, we are witness to the unearthing of The Neanderthal Man (paired with that equally unsung “cowboys meet dinosaur” epic, The Beast of Hollow Mountain).
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Die Monster Die! (1965) d. Daniel Haller (UK/USA)
Having wrapped up their extremely successful run of Roger Corman-directed Edgar Allan Poe adaptations – fondly referred to as the “AIPoes” – American International Pictures set their sights on another highly influential horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. (In actuality, they’d already adopted his “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” in 1963 and turned it into Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace, but I digress.) Corman’s able art director Daniel Haller took the helm for screenwriter Jerry’s Sohl’s reworking of “The Colour Out of Space,” whose drive-in ready retitling of Die, Monster, Die! was only the first of its many woes.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Cat People (1982) d. Paul Schrader (USA)
After years in orphanages, Irena (Nastassja Kinski) reunites with long-lost sibling Paul (Malcolm McDowell), who soon reveals a more-than-brotherly attraction to her. Seems the two are the supernatural offspring of panthers, doomed to mate only with their own humanimal kind, as any other coupling results in fanged-and-clawed death for their unsuspecting partner. Needless to say, this throws a wrench into zookeeper Oliver's (John Heard) romantic designs on the exotic female newcomer.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Big Bad Wolves (2013) d. Aharon Keshales / Navot Papushado (Israel)
After their stellar slasher debut, Kalevet (aka Rabies), hit DVD in 2012 following its extensive and wildly successful festival run, horror fans have been eagerly awaiting a follow-up from Israeli writing/directing team Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. With this disturbing yet darkly funny kidnapping tale, they’re not bound to disappoint many, although their tendency toward third-act cuteness and contrivances undercuts what could have been a masterpiece of grueling tension and terror.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
7th Day (2012) d. Jason M. Koch (USA)
Allen (Mark S. Sanders) is an active serial killer finally receiving his 15 minutes of fame. Accompanied by a documentary news team, he discusses the philosophy behind his “selections” (i.e. victims) and what they mean to him, he explains that he doesn’t get the same sense of fulfillment from murdering men which is why he sticks to females (although he’s not above shooting a fellow who is an obstacle or presents a potential threat), he waxes nostalgic about his humble beginnings, he reveals his predilections for occasionally having sex with the corpses or even cannibalizing them (“I don’t really like the taste, but I enjoy the concept.”) In short, Allen is a fascinating, intelligent, articulate subject, one perfectly suited to prime time....
Friday, January 3, 2014
Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s now time to give the civilian flicks a moment in the sun. As before, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2013 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)
Because I didn’t get to the cinema much outside of the early 2013 Oscar race and the two festivals (SXSW and BIFFF), it’s not surprising that my 2013 civilian favorites were dominated by 2012 releases and limited 2013 screenings. But these are the cards I’m holding, so these are the ones I’m playing.
Let the OCD madness begin!!!
2013 Totals: 306 films, 240 1st time views, 185 horror, 69 cinema
(2012 Totals: 607, 520, 362, 166)
(2011 Totals: 640, 419, 355, 59)
(2010 Totals: 364, 253, 242, 45)
(2009 Totals: 472, 276, 289, 38)
(2008 Totals: 384, 278, 226, 39)
(2007 Totals: 409, 284, 260, 40)
TOP CIVILIAN VIEWS RELEASED IN (OR AROUND) 2013
56 Up! (2012)
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
The Impossible (2012)
Life of Pi (2012)
Rust and Bone (2012)
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)*
The Sessions (2012)
Upstream Color (2013)*
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Greetings, monster kids of all ages,
After two consecutive years of watching over 600 films, 2013 settled back down to a much more reasonable pace, clocking in with a final total of 306 features. (However, purists, it bears noting that 11 of these were double views of the same title, usually for review purposes, i.e. listening to a commentary track.) What accounted for the change in consumption? Well, the biggest factor would be a certain literary venture, the icon (and link to Amazon) for which sits proudly in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Wrestling 101 films from 101 different authors into shape was no small feat, and that’s not even factoring in the email correspondence, illustrations, and promotion that went along with it. But HIDDEN HORROR is finally tamed and out there in the world – hope you enjoy.
However, 2013 also found me reviewing higher profile releases, both at home and on the festival circuit. As a result, I felt obliged to expand my normal Fool’s Views capsule review format to something a little more “legit.” If someone is going to lay a DVD or Blu-ray on me, then I felt I should explore that baby to the fullest – ditto if someone is providing a digital screener link for a yet-to-be-released movie, then I’m one of the first on the ground giving an opinion for others to take as a guideline. And, as my scribbling grew in size, I started adding more photos and frame grabs to balance out the text, as well as linking to older reviews. I also started posting interviews with filmmakers and providing the occasional convention report. Long story short, I spent much more time writing this year than kicking back in front of the tube, with even my usual October Movie Challenge gorgefest a fraction of its former self. (The irony that I’m apologizing for watching only 300 movies is not lost on me, by the way.)
|So long, farewell, adios, auf weinerschnitzel...|
And so 2013 comes to a close, but we managed to get some flicks watched in the final lap, pushing up over the 300+ mark. Next, the annual year-end extravaganza, so stay tuned!!!
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth - we'll make sure you get some change back.