Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nightmare Castle: There's A Candleabra In My Cannoli!

It’s no secret that I like Italian horror films, in fact, I may just talk about it too much. But perhaps even more than Italian horror, I am a fan of gothic horror. From the time I was a young girl sneaking off with my mom’s old gothic romance novels – you know, the ones with the long-haired, flowing-gowned heroines running away from a mansion or castle on a dark hillside? (Or wait – were they running to the mansion?) So if you combine the two, I’m in movie heaven.

And so it should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Nightmare Castle.  In fact, short of some Bava, Argento, and Fulci standards, this film is on a short list of my favorite Italian horror flicks.
Oh, and warning: spoilers ahead!

Directed by Mario Caiano, Nightmare Castle (“Amanti d’oltretomba“, 1965) stars the ever-so-alluring Barbara Steele in a dual role – the raven haired cheating wife Muriel, and her mentally off-kilter blonde sister Jennie. Also starring Paul Muller as Doctor Stephen Arrowsmith and Helga Line as the lovely Solange – housemistress, lover, and co-conspirator with the doc.

Muriel and her secret lover die brutally at the hands of her husband, who discovers them doing the nasty in the garden . The evil doctor chains them up and tortures them to death. Right before her death, Muriel vengefully tells Stephen that she’s left her entire fortune to her institutionalized sister.

Determined to keep a tight hold on his dead wife’s money, Stephen quickly removes Jennie from the asylum and marries her to guarantee his wealth continues. Though I definitely think Steele is much more stunning in her natural dark hair, it doesn’t effect her acting prowess, always dramatically over the top in such an impressive fashion.

To ensure Jennie’s fragile mind dissolves quicker than not, Stephen and Solange whip up a ‘potion’ in his laboratory to help Jennie hallucinate and have horrific nightmares. They conspire together to drive Jennie bat-shit crazy using the morbid, bad-memory inducing castle surroundings. (It is only then that we discover Solange’s youth has been restored by using the blood of a dead woman…Stephen is obsessed with his wacky experiments)

Jennie continues to experience unnerving visions of ghostly apparitions – are they real?  She teeters between dreams and reality.  Her frightening dreams soon cause her to realize that it is her sister and her sister’s lover that she is having visions of. And that they apparently died an awful death and are trying to reach out to her to warn her and solve the mystery of their untimely demise.

When a psychiatrist Dr. Joyce (Laurence Clift) takes Jennie’s case and visits her at the castle, only to discover that things are not quite right – it is not Jennie’s mind that is decomposing, but perhaps something in the crypt in the basement lab. He discovers Muriel’s tomb – empty – and begins to do a little detective work. At this point he feels it pertinent to take Jennie back to the city for treatment, sure that the house is causing not only her nightmares, but her mental instability.
Stephen in turn, puts ideas in Jennie’s head that Doctor Joyce just wants a bit of nookie and is not interested in helping her but wants to take her away from the castle and him. He convinces Jennie it is in her own best interest to stay with him and ignore the head-shrinker’s crazy ideas.

That night though, Dr. Joyce tends to Jennie while she has another awful dream. Hearing someone approaching her room, he hides in a corner and watches as Stephen comes into the room -thinking Jennie has finally succumbed to their dastardly poisonous plot. But she doesn’t die.

Meanwhile, Solange is getting weaker and weaker, her “transfusions” not holding up. Desperate, she and Stephen decide that the time has come. They cold-cock Jennie and drag her to the basement, placing her on an adjoining table right next to Solange, where they set up an intended  transfusion.

Supposedly already gone, Dr. Joyce creeps back into the house (candle in hand like a good little gothic hero) and sneaks around the mansion looking for clues. It’s no doubt he realizes something is amiss. Anyone could tell that by how damn suspicious everyone is acting! Of course, in a truly predictable move, he is then also knocked out.
But in the basement lab, things quickly go south when a ghostly Muriel and her dead lover show up, back from the grave, to take their revenge on the count and his mistress.  Much ghastly cackling ensues.

Full of creepy gothic standards like a spooky castle, huge candelabras, those long flowing gowns, a compelling scream queen, and the beautiful strands of the main theme by composer Ennio Morricone wafting memorably through nearly every frame – this film has it all.

Some may argue that this is Barbara Steele’s best work – I still feel Black Sunday holds that honor – and indeed she is the classic gothic heroine/villain.  But she is in fabulous form here, and I for one, consider this a first-rate performance of captivating distinction.

The movie isn’t perfect of course. The editing is horrible, the dubbing (if that’s the version you’re stuck with) is just awful, and some of the secondary acting leaves a lot to be desired.
But this is Italian gothic horror at its best, and is the perfect accompaniment to a dark stormy night – one where you sit home alone, hoping the lights don’t go out. Not because you’re afraid – but because you don’t want to miss the movie!

*This post was previously published elsewhere but has been regurgitated for your enjoyment. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ten Horror Films That Shaped My Youth

Not too long ago I was asked what movies were most responsible for me becoming a horror fan. It's a tough assignment to try to come up with a list of films that shaped my youth and made me the stark raving mad fan I am these days.  But I wracked my brain and this is what I've come up with. Not precisely my favorites, and there are no films on this list made after 1982… they are the movies I watched as a kid and into my early teens – before I became an utterly obsessive horror fan.

Frankenstein (1931): While Dracula would seem a more appropriate introduction to Universal Horror for a vampire-loving geek like me, it was not my first taste of classic horror. Frankenstein remains, for me, the movie for which all other horror is judged. I first read the magnum opus novel by Mary Shelley as a youngster – and when the movie was placed in front of me, I blossomed into the crazed, give-me-all-I-can-get horror fan you now have. The mere idea of patching together body parts from various sources to make a complete man is well…sick. When James Whale brought the book to life, it managed to hit my every nerve – shocking me into submission and titillating me to the point of no return. I had such compassion for the monster, and still feel that this film is the reason I always seem to identify with the monster/killer rather than the hapless victim. Call me crass, I don’t mind.

Theater of Blood (1973): On Saturday afternoons at my house when I was a pre-teen, it was all about Vincent Price (and Godzilla…more later!). House of Usher, The Abominable Mr. Phibes, The Pit & The Pendulum, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill…..I could go on and on. But the film that made the biggest impression on me was Theater of Blood. Why, I don’t know – except the defining moment for me was when Edward Lionheart (Price) makes Mr. Merridew eat his own poodles. Gah! That is burned on my brain for all of eternity. The movie is quite campy, to say the least, but I still think it is one of my favorite Price films. On a side note, when I was in 7th grade, my school showed this film on the last day of school. Can you imagine? Maybe that contributes to my admiration.

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) – Somewhere in my past, I was scarred for life by this movie. My grandfather introduced me to it, and like the Wizard of OZ, it had elements that, for a kid, were absolutely terrifying. That damn boat ride to hell with its psychedelic lunacy and Gene Wilder’s maddening poetic rant! Damn! I was freaked out (yet slightly happy) when that gum-chomping Violet chick turned into a blueberry, alarmed when Augustus went into the pipe, psyched when bratty Mike TV was made mini, and thrilled when Veruca (and her dad!) were deemed bad eggs. I think this film is possibly the reason why I never wanted children. In reality, those kids were more frightening than any other element of the film. And that includes the wacky Oompa-Loompas!

Xtro (1982): Here’s a bizarre association for you. When I was a silly young teenager, my parents went out for the evening and left me alone to fend for myself. No, it wasn’t the first time I was alone and watched a horror film (When A Stranger Calls has that distinction) but for some reason, I have vivid memories of this 1982 British sci-fi trash. I made tacos for myself – you know, the kind in the box (Ortega if memory serves) – and proceeded to eat my tacos while watching a woman give birth to a grown man on her kitchen floor. I can’t say it scared me, but I was slightly disturbed to say the least. I think it has left me with two lasting advantages : I can eat absolutely anything while watching a horror movie, and I can still easily watch any horror movie utterly alone without anxiety.

Godzilla (Gorjia, 1954): I am a major Godzilla fan. I recall all those lovely Saturday afternoons watching Godzilla first wreak havoc on Japan, then defeat various other monsters that came to call – such as Mothra, Ghidorah, Hedorah… the list went on. Godzilla was a force of nature that came into existence in 1954, just after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He at first was a true monster, roaring his way through the streets of Toyko killing everyone in his sight. In later films the prehistoric-looking Godzilla was deemed a hero, and those were my favorites – him saving the day from other outcasts set to demolish the city. I love that he can swim or pound around on the city streets, breathe fire, and his secret intelligence never fooled me. He was one smart cookie.
Oh, and can we please just not mention that 2000 remake of disastrous proportions? Thank you.

Night of the Living Dead (1968): I’m from western Pennsylvania. Specifically George Romero land. I live north of Pittsburgh, and hence grew up watching the twenty year Saturday night tradition that was Chiller Theater. Every Saturday night at 11:30 Bill Cardille would host two horror flicks, with time in between the films for campy skits. My point (and I do have one) is that the first film I recall seeing on Chiller Theater was Night of the Living Dead. With good reason, as Bill Cardille has a small role in the horror classic. I certainly wasn’t old enough at this point to be watching zombies eating human flesh, but I’m not sure I knew just what was going on. Quite frankly, this could be the first actual horror movie I was privy to. To see the iconic images of Barbra’s brother taunting her “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!”, Karen killing her mom with a garden trowel, and several ghouls eating intestines… well, let’s just say I was hooked. Could be why I’m so messed up in the first place. Thanks, Chilly Billy!

Psycho (1960): No way in hell would this list be complete without a movie that reached right into my soul and tore a piece out, replacing it with screeching strings and a butcher knife. To me, a perfect slice of film making by Hitchcock, and also of acting excellence by Anthony Perkins. You can hear me wax poetic about the charming attributes of Norman Bates here on this blog more than often. I can’t remember how old I was when I first saw this movie, but I’m sure I shouldn’t have been watching it. I know I saw the sequel (which I love) at the drive-in but know it wasn’t a double feature (which incidentally would have kicked ass!)
The shocking death of Marion Crane in the first act proved to me that all bets were off in horror, and one could never know what to expect. So many other films have blatantly ripped this one off, but none of them could hope to achieve the landmark dread and apprehension that you get when you watch that door opening from behind the shower curtain while our heroine cleans herself up to die, an ominous shadow grows closer…

Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971): This film, along with Burnt Offerings (1976), were films I was “allowed” to watch as a relatively young girl, because I think my mom thought they were “movie of the week”-type of films.  Remember back in the day they used to have Monday Night Movies or what-have-you?  But both those films pack a punch, and I remember both well.  Jessica, to me, was slightly more eerie than the other, so it gets the nod here.  It reminds me of the old gothic novels of my mother’s I used to read – the ones about the big old house and the wispy female lead.  The whole time I’m watching the thing, I’m thinking ‘She’s crazy, right?’….and then, ‘Maybe she’s not’…  In any case, it’s a creepy ghost/vampire/? story – an atmospheric gem I’m still sweet on even now.

Hell Night (1981): I think this was one of the first movies I rented for a sleepover party when I was a young teen. Nowadays it makes me laugh, but I cannot dispute my fond memories of it and how cool I thought it was (!) Hell Night is a ridiculous romp into the land of thread-bare plots and really bad special effects. With Linda Blair’s boobs ‘a bouncing in nearly every reel, we watch as cheap thrills reign and the old haunted house story gets a stagnant re-telling. A tale of crazy families, mutant children, murder and suicide, and a frat part gone wrong, it reeks of camp – but that’s part of its charm, and I still throw it in the DVD player on occasion when I need a taste of nostalgia.  And hey, Garth Manor has yet to be duplicated in terms of awesomeness.

The Legend of Hell House (1973): Here’s an example of a film I saw before reading the actual source material. Richard Matheson always did know how to weave a story, and though I read the book long after seeing the movie, I think both are great.  Vivid memories of me curled up on the couch covered with an afghan while the foreboding strains of the title music filled the room come to mind when I think of this early shocker.  This movie has so much moody ambience, so much trepidation lurking around every corner of the Belasco mansion.  The forces working against our anxious group of investigators are downright scary. It scared me when I was a kid, and even today it still makes my eye twitch nervously when they discover Belasco – and his shortcomings.

**Once again,  if this post looks familiar it is because it was previously published on another site from which I have retrieved all my work.  It's not that I'm lazy, I just wanted to both share these writings as well as have a permanent record of them here on my blog.  Well...and I'm a little bit lazy :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Pros And Cons Of Dating A Psychopath: My Love Affair With Norman Bates

When I was a teenager, my grandfather told me to try to marry a man who treated his mother well, because that was an indicator of how he’d treat you.

And even though I’d like to tell you he was the guy who introduced me to Norman Bates, he wasn’t. I found him all on my own.

While other fan-girls are obsessing over a trifecta of loonies: Michael Myers (the strong, silent type is all well and good, but come on!), Freddy Kreuger (who apparently never trims his fingernails and keeps you awake at night for all the wrong reasons) and Jason Voorhees (seriously, you know what’s under that mask, right?) – I’ll just stick with my mama’s boy, Norman. I think if Mrs. Bates would have only let Norman get himself a girlfriend he may not have become the repressed, pathetic individual he became. Instead she smothered and bullied him until his whole world revolved around her. Yeah, it’s kinda icky, but bear with me here…

This dude was seriously devoted. If he can be so committed (no pun intended) to mommie dearest, then perhaps with a few minor adjustments, he could be likewise obsessed with me, right?

Let’s consider his attributes.

1} Good looking. This guy runs miles around any of the three majors listed above, and if we factor in Leatherface, Candyman, and Pinhead - as well as the majority of lunatics we're accustomed to, you’ll realize you can’t go wrong with Normie.

2} Talkative. The guy can carry on a conversation without drooling, mumbling, grunting, cackling or immediately lashing out with a sharp implement.

3} He’ll cook for you. Okay, so maybe all he can do is sandwiches and milk, but hey – isn’t that better than your liver on a silver platter or eyeballs in your soup? Especially your own eyeballs.

4} He’s got accommodations out the ass. No sleeping in the boiler room or a pieced-together, dilapidated shack in the woods! This dude has not only got a 12-room motel, but a big ol’ Victorian mansion right up there on the hill. All the comforts of home.

5} I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Norman won’t be into any of the weird, deviant sexual things that Pinhead might try. Those chains are all well and good till they start ripping off skin. And the other guys? Well, slice and dice just ain’t my style.

6} He’s in shape. All that running back and forth from the house to the motel has done him a world of good. Compared with chub-meister Leatherface and the lumbering Michael Myers, he can run rings around the competition.

7} Solitude. While some of the other guys also have relatively quiet digs (well, I don’t know how quiet Hell is, Pinhead), Norman’s place is so out-of-the-way and secluded off the beaten path that no one would hear you scream… (that didn’t sound right, did it?)

8} And on that note, there’s no weirdo family members to contend with. No hillbillies sitting around the dinner table, no random sister-you-didn’t-know-existed will pop up, no menacing Cenobites tagging along for the ride. Just us.

Of course, with pros there are always cons. So here are a few things Norman might have to work on to benefit our relationship:

1} No tea. We’re going to have to be a tea-free household. Period. Oh, and no instant coffee either.

2} No showers. The shower head? Gone. Curtain? Gone. Peephole? Well, he can keep that if he wants. But seriously, baths are a much more luxurious way to get clean anyway. And they can be sexy too, right?

3} No more taxidermy. And I don’t just mean animals.

4} We’re gonna have to drain that nearby lake. It was way too murky anyway. Screws with the aesthetics of the place.

5} Paint the house. We can’t have it looking like that when company comes calling.

6} The fruit cellar? Um, gotta block it up. It’s not like we’ll be canning peaches anytime soon, anyway.

7} All Ginzu knives and the likes are out the door. Would you have a bottle of Jim Beam in the house with a recovering alcoholic?

8} His mother cannot come to visit.
Wait a sec..
Oooh, that’s right…

*If this post looks familiar to you, there's a reason.  It was previously published on another website. I recently removed my articles from said site because many of my fellow contributors' articles mysteriously either disappeared or had their names removed as authors and someone else took credit for their work.  Obviously not only do I not approve of this, but I wanted to make sure it didn't happen to me.  I even waited several weeks before taking my writings off, as I thought perhaps it was just an error and would be fixed and apologies would be handed out. But that didn't happen so I can't condone the situation, so I felt it prudent to preserve my work.  I'm not doing any name calling, nor will I discuss the situation. Suffice it to say I am irritated, disappointed, and was provoked into action.  My various writings will now be re-posted on here from time to time until they are all back where they apparently should have been all own blog.  Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finally Putting 2011 To Bed: An Aimless Rant About The Year That Was...

Once again it's time to put to bed another year in horror. Which, for the most part has not been overly exciting, at least not to me. I'm hard-pressed to make any kind of serious "top ten" list about which films are the best of the year, as I found so many films to be hyped up to the high hills and then be profoundly disappointing.  I"m hoping things turn around in 2012, at least before December and the world ends.  Right?

Personally (as in outside the horror box), 2011 has probably been the worst year of my life. A quick run-down of events has me remembering that my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, I had my own cancer scare (benign!) and then major surgery to recuperate from in the summer, things at work took a major  tailspin that is only now starting to slowly improve, my grandmother died, we got insanely awful new assholes neighbors, and both of my cats have been ill. 
On the upside, I did gain a beautiful new niece in March, was lucky enough to vacation joyfully on Hatteras Island in the late spring, and oh yeah - I watched some stellar horror television.  Yeah, I said television.  Movies just didn't do it for me this year quite as much as the various tv shows that got me through the muck that was 2011.  Even non-horror television such as Sons of Anarchy and Justified came through with fantastic seasons.  But between True Blood, Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story, a case can certainly be made that 2011 belonged to tv.

Regardless, this is kind of a rambling post about what made me happy this year, with a few lists thrown in because that my friends, is who I am.

The MOST EXCITING THING THAT HAPPENED IN 2011:  Yes, I had to use CAPITAL LETTERS for this.  I was published. Twice.  In January, I was lucky enough to be in issue #300 of Fangoria.  A landmark issue that serves as a retrospective of 300 of the greatest horror films of all time, I was happy to serve up reviews of some of some of my favorite horror films, including Deep Red and Night of the Living Dead, among others.  To see my name in print in a magazine I'd been reading since I was around eleven or so, well...that was epic.

In February, I was published in Paracinema.  If you are not familiar with Paracinema, you should be. It is (to quote Wikipedia and someone else, I'm sure): a quarterly film magazine dedicated to b-movies, cult classics, indie, horror, science fiction, exploitation, underground and Asian films from past and present.  In other words, it is some fantastic writing about genre films.  I was utterly honored to be asked to contribute to its very first women's issue, which was - just as you suspected - an issue written entirely by women.  And damn, it was so awe-inspiring it is currently sold-out.  So what did I write about?  Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks fame.  Which reminds me how much I'd love a piece of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee....
Anyway, if you haven't read Paracinema, you're missing out.  Go here immediately.

Here at FWF, it was a busy year.  In addition to keeping my 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' feature going strong (which after over 100 weeks and well over 500 gruesome and gory pics will become more of a sporadic Sunday occurrence at this point), I also let you fine folks in on what really scares me in the 'Bringing on the Fear' feature, continued to talk trash about some less-than-perfect films in 'Mindless Movie Monday', brought you 'My Life in Film' - going decade by decade through films that shaped me into who I am today, and in my most exhaustive move yet: my 'Halloween Festival of Lists', in which I wrote a list for every damn day of October, effectively burning myself out for most of the remainder of 2011.

This March marks four years of Fascination with Fear.  At times, life gets in the way of letting me write as much as I truly want to, but I am hoping to continue here as much as is humanly possible.  I am also hoping this year will be better for me personally as well, for if so then the blog surely benefits from my happiness. 

For now, I give you my meandering look back at the moments in horror last year that tickled my fancy and alternatively made me want to stick chopsticks in my eyes.

F/X's American Horror Story
My 'best horror experience of 2011":   American Horror Story.
Though I am a big fan of The Walking Dead, pound for pound, American Horror Story packed a bigger punch in my book.  It also trumped the witchy goodness of the summer season of True Blood, which is insanely difficult to do in the Hadden household.  You know how I love my vamps. 
But AHS opened a whole new can of worms on television.  Not since the days of Twin Peaks and The X-Files have I been so utterly anxious for upcoming episodes.  It was all about whether or not the newest episode could out-do the last one.  For me, episode 6 of AHS - "Piggy Piggy" -  was the most frightening thing I'd seen on television or film all year.  With a Columbine-esque school shooting in the beginning that had me on the edge of my seat, ep. 6 was a shocking and eye-opening hour of television.  I can't say enough about this show.  I realize that in 2012 we will gain a completely new family and house to contend with, but I just want to give a shout out to Jessica Lange ('Constance Langdon') and Evan Peters ('Tate Langdon') for making this show so damn much fun to watch. Their acting has been top-notch while scaring the pants off us as they chewed scenes into tiny bits. Oh, and speaking of pants: thank you Dylan McDermott ('Ben Harmon') for....your ass.

I Saw The Devil
 Seven Horror Purchases I'm Happy With:
1) *I Saw the Devil  - See more praise and gushing to follow...
2) The Caller (screener) - My favorite screener from 2011.  Dark and creepy.  And Stephen Moyer.
3) Jane Eyre - A dark, gothic period film with a stunning score by Dario Marianelli/Jack Liebeck.
4) The Reef - Not Jaws, of course...but worlds more entertaining to me than Open Water.
5) Wake Wood - I love me some creepy Irish countryside with disturbing pagan rituals. Bring it.
6) Amer - What if the French made a giallo?  Yup, here it is.
7) Black Death - Sean Bean in a medieval-era horror film? Need I say more?

Burning Bright
Eight favorite Netflix rentals this year:
1) *I Saw The Devil - First I rented, then I purchased the next day.
2) Stake Land - The best vampire movie I have seen since Let The Right One In.
3) Super 8 - I'm not a fan of kids in movies, but this one made me feel all nostalgic.
4) Burning Bright - A real surprise.  Premise sounds absurd but it totally works.
5) Red State - While it can't be labeled straight horror, it's as disturbing as anything you'll see in that genre.
6) Hobo with a Shotgun - Overrated, yes.  But the sheer fun of it, combined with Rutger Hauer's wonderful performance, make it a win.
7) Quarantine 2 - This film is so much better than plain ol' Quarantine.  Trust me. And they got rid of the roving camera thank heavens.
8) The Perfect Host - This surprised me as well.  David Hyde Pierce plays Niles again. Well, until he turns into a psycho.

*A few words about I Saw the Devil, which lies at the top of both the favorite rental and favorite purchase list.  With good reason.  It was my favorite movie of the whole damn year.  Yes, the film was released in its native South Korea in 2010, but it didn't reach us here in the US until March of 2011.  I've already written a review so I won't go on about it again, but suffice it to say it is such a powerful and intense film - even my husband (who can't stand subtitles) enjoyed the hell out of it.  While it cannot be called entirely horror, it is a visceral yet engaging revenge film like no other, and you will see it topping many a "best of" list this year. It also started my insane quest to see everything Lee Byung-hun has ever done.  And if that includes commercials for Snuggies, I'd be okay with that. 
Looks like I'm going to see the new G.I. Joe film.

Moving on to the crap of the year:

The Haunted Airman
(He's just as bored as I was...)
Ten "why the hell did I rent this?" rentals from Netflix:
1) Altitude - I stand by my statement that this film is complete and utter nonsense.
2) Case 39 - Why, Renee, why?
3) Psychosis - Not even looking at Charisma Carpenter could save this one, sorry.
4) The Resident - Not even looking at Jeffrey Dean Morgan could save this one, either.
5) Grotesque - Probably the worst film I have seen in perhaps eight or ten years. Gah!
6) Hatchet II - Not entirely awful, but pretty damn close.
7) The Rite - Hard to believe Anthony Hopkins headlined this.
8) The Inheritance - The ending ruined anything they might have pulled off.
9) Apollo 18 - I wanted to like this.  However...
10) The Haunted Airman - I fell asleep twice while watching this, so in truth it could have gotten better and I wouldn't have known. My guess is probably not.

Five "I wish I'd have rented this first so I'd have known not to buy it" purchases:
1) Chain Letter - I didn't finish this one, so there you go.
2) Fright Night ('11) - Again, even gazing at Colin Farrell really couldn't save this.
3) The Presence - I don't hate this, in fact it's beautifully shot, but it drags terribly.  I mean SLOW.
4) Scream 4 - I would have been happy with seeing this only once, just for shits & giggles.
5) The Ward - Aww, I guess my expectations ran too high. 

Seven films I'm pretty glad I DID miss:
1) My Soul to Take - I still have no desire to see Wes's latest.
2) Season of the Witch - I hear it's a massive fail, so I steer clear.
3) Priest - Paul Bettany has creeped me out since The Da Vinci Code, sorry.
4) Don't be afraid of the dark - Again I say: I'm not a fan of "kids in peril".
5) Cowboys vs. Aliens - I'm just not understanding the title.  Or the point.
6) Hostel III - Bringing it to Vegas?  Nah!
7) The Thing (2011) - Yeah, I'll catch it on DVD like everyone else.

Twenty movies I missed in 2011 but hope to catch in the coming year:
1) Drive
2) Contagion
3) Dream Home
4) The Woman
5) Little Deaths
6) The Tunnel
7) The Innkeepers
8) The Bleeding House
9) Absentia
10) The Last Circus
11) We Need to Talk About Kevin
12) The Skin I Live In
13) We Are What We Are
14) Melancholia
15) The Divide
16) Grave Encounters
17) Needle
18) The Silent House
19) Yellow Brick Road
20) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

My most anticipated films of 2012:

The Woman in Black
- The original '89 production has long been one of my favorites, so I'm really anxious for this one.

The Yellow Wallpaper - Mental illness and horror go hand in hand sometimes.

The Awakening - Already out overseas, this period film looks like it could be a winner.

Dunderland - Norway churns out another chiller.

The Raven - Not sure how I feel about this one, but will take a look nonetheless.

The Silent House - An American update of the Uruguayan film.  For now, it looks creepy.

The Grey - Liam Neeson vs. The Wolves. Yay.

Prometheus: In no way will it top Alien, but we have to have a looksee, right?

 Rabies - Looking to see what Israel can contribute to horror.

 And of course, The Dark Knight Rises.  Filmed in my backyard.  Pittsburgh serves as Gotham.  Hines Ward has a cameo. Summer can't come fast enough...

Also on tap but no trailers available yet...

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
Because the book rocked.
Dark Shadows: Johnny Depp, people.  Seriously.
World War Z:  Will see even with the unfortunate casting of Brad Pitt. Ugh.
The Expendables 2: Yeah, I know - not horror.  So sue me.

Favorite book of 2011:  Vampires: The Twilight World by Sir Simon Marsden.  NOT a book about the infamous sparkly vampire series.  A book of infrared photography intertwined with intriguing text about the mythology, lore, and various "hot-spots" of vampire legends.  Downright stunning.

Favorite movie score:  Hands down Jane Eyre.  I have long adored the scores of Dario Marianelli, and this is just another notch on his superiority belt.  No one does period films better.  It reeks of melancholy but has hints of quiet happiness infused. Runner up:  Straw Dogs by Larry Groupé. 

Favorite non-horror movie:  I absolutely loved The King's Speech.  Love might not be a strong enough word.  Colin Firth is (as usual) a marvel. For something I couldn't imagine being remotely interested in, this film caught my attention and ran with it.  But since it was filmed in 2010, I'll give you another pick for 2011.
Most assuredly, Steven Spielberg's War Horse is one of the great films of 2011.  The cinematography is outstanding, the story heartwrenching and moving, and the score - sweeping and yet another triumph for John Williams.  Plus, it has horses. Duh.

And finally, my list of random awards:

*The "I can't believe I sat through this whole movie" award:  Red Riding Hood

*The "Surprise! This remake was actually good!" award:  Straw Dogs

*The "When the hell is this going to get a domestic DVD release?" award:  All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

*The "What the hell is this movie about, anyway?" award:  11-11-11

*The "It better be as good as everyone says because I'm sick of hearing about it" award:  TIE: The Woman and Attack the Block.

*The "SO didn't live up to the hype" award:  The Ward

*The "I really don't give a shit whether I see this" award:  The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence.  Seriously,  wasn't number one enough?  You had to do a number two?  (see what I did there?)

*The "I loved it then I hated it then I liked it alright" award:  Insidious

*The "Can't wait for the sequel" award:  Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The "This is what I'm watching tonight so I have to get off the laptop" award:  Trollhunter


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Quarantine 2




The Company of Wolves

                                                     HAPPY NEW YEAR!