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Off Topic - Film/TV (2)

This is a continuation of the topic Off Topic - Film/TV.

The Weird Tradition

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1housefulofpaper
Sep 4, 2013, 6:47pm Top

200 posts is about the limit for a manageable thread, so I thought I'd start a new thread.

I've got a region 2 DVD of The Night Strangler from Spain. I wondered if Dr Richard Malcolm's mummified family, and that whole 19th-century underground city, wasn't an influence on Mike Mignola's work in e.g. "Hellboy"?

2bertilak
Sep 4, 2013, 8:11pm Top

I just watched the DVD of "Die Farbe" which I bought from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society at NecronomiCon 2013. Pretty good! This is a version of The Colour Out of Space directed in Germany by Huan Vu. It is in German with subtitles. The subtitles are a bit small but I could follow them by concentrating.

This version is set in rural Germany. IMDB says the 'Swabian-Franconian Forest' and it is just as creepy as rural Massachusetts. The Gardners are named Gärtener and Ammi Pierce is named Armin Pierske. In other words, it is a close adaptation retaining the sounds of the names as well as most plot points.

Possible spoiler at the end of this post regarding the visual representation of The Colour.

The scene with the final dissolution of the Gärteners is handled convincingly.

The story is set before and just after World War II. It is amusing when American soldiers occupying the region notice something odd in the well. What do American soldiers do with anything unfamiliar? Hand grenades! Bad idea. Don't drink the water.

The film is in black and white, which allows The Colour to be represented neatly as a low-saturation but bright violet (the making-of feature says pink).

3paradoxosalpha
Sep 11, 2013, 1:59pm Top

The 1961 feature Night Tide is currently streaming on NetFlix, and it's worth watching. The cast is strong, with a young Dennis Hopper as the naive lead and Linda Lawson as an aquatic and possibly non-human femme fatale.

Occultist Marjorie Cameron (the erstwhile "Scarlet Woman" to Thelemite rocket scientist Jack Parsons) plays herself (credited as "Water Witch") and gives Hopper's character a long tarot reading. There's also a cool dream sequence.

4KentonSem
Sep 11, 2013, 2:29pm Top

>3 paradoxosalpha:

I watched Night Tide a few weeks ago via NF streaming. Very enjoyable and low key. I liked the seaside locations and Hopper is really good. Still developing as an actor, but you can tell that an unusual talent is there.

Not so good is Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem (2013), which is apparently his paean to 1960's/1970's devil flicks. Sheri Moon Zombie stars as a radio DJ who plays a supernaturally-enhanced demo record on her home turntable, which leads to all manner of satanic complications. I think she's an interesting actress (great in The Devil's Rejects), but she can't seem to make anything out of this role. The whole film is pretty uninvolving, but at least Ken Foree and Bruce Davison are given parts. R. Zombie also seems to be pulling out all the stops to invoke Ken Russell-like set pieces at the end, but they just look forced and silly (thanks to me ol' pal Barney for pointing this out!).

Even worse was Post Tenebras Lux (2012), which, despite an intriguing and enigmatic first 20 minutes, oh so slowly devolves into incoherence and ennui.

5artturnerjr
Edited: Sep 18, 2013, 2:13pm Top

Rewatched what is probably my favorite 90s horror movie, the wonderfully cartoonish exploitation flick homage From Dusk Till Dawn (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116367/), last night. Onto the sequels next, I suppose, although I, um, have not heard positive things. :/

6KentonSem
Edited: Sep 19, 2013, 2:36pm Top

The 2012 black and white Spanish silent film Blancanieves, which retells the Snow White tale by mixing bullfighting in with the dwarfs, is a disappointment. It's too self-conscious in its attempt to emulate a vintage silent. It simply makes me want to go back and revisit any number or genuinely amazing films of the early twentieth century.

The 2006 German film Requiem is compelling and disturbing as it tells the story of a young woman who is eventually killed as the result of a dozen or so exorcisms to relieve her of "demons" which are obviously symptoms of poorly-diagnosed epilepsy or schizophrenia. The early 70's setting is spot-on, from the clothing, hairstyles and overall look, to the perfect soundtrack which includes Krautrock greats Amon Düül and a surprising Deep Purple selection. The actress Sandra Hüller, as the "possessed" Michaela, gives a stunning performance. She's got Carrie-era Sissy Spacek's plain-yet-pretty-girl looks down in spades, while retaining the all-important shadings of vulnerability which make the character work. The film doesn't dwell on the exorcism part and is really low-key but the horror of the situation comes through loud and clear. Includes pathetic parents and despicable priests. "Based upon true events". Currently available on NF streaming.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454931/?ref_=sr_5

7KentonSem
Edited: Sep 27, 2013, 3:59pm Top

Watched the 2012 documentary Room 237, in which several overly-obsessed fans of Kubrick's The Shining detail their conspiracy-level interpretations of the film. Supposed Kubrickian hidden agendas include the Holocaust, the genocide of the American Indian and the faked moon landing (Stanley was actually tapped to film the thing, you know). It sounds like a great idea, but the crackpots get tiresome pretty quickly. I watched The Shining last year for the first time since I originally saw it in 1980 as an unimpressed Stephen King fan. I loved it the second time around. Indeed, there is more to the film than meets the eye if you approach the narrative and the technical aspects with a level head. This doc at least makes me want to watch it again. On blu-ray.

Up next: Francis Ford Coppola's 2011 vampire flick Twixt. With Bruce Dern!

8KentonSem
Sep 30, 2013, 9:34am Top

Twixt turns out to be a lot of fun. Much more enjoyable than most reviews hold it out to be. Val Kilmer plays a nearly washed-up horror writer who stumbles onto a horrific mystery in a small town. With the dream-ghost of Edgar Allan Poe, some Lynchian small-town surrealism and Bruce Dern as wanna-be horror writer and town sherriff Bobby LaGrange! It's not a "big" horror movie, as was the director's take on Dracula, but it has some good moments. It helps if you expect more of a dark fairy tale than a splatterfest. Originally intended for 3D, it still looks pretty amazing without it.

9artturnerjr
Sep 30, 2013, 2:13pm Top

>8 KentonSem:

Nice to hear that Coppola's doing good work again. From the time he did The Godfather until the time he did Apocalypse Now he was, imho, the greatest filmmaker on the planet, but he hasn't done a lot of compelling work since.

10KentonSem
Edited: Oct 8, 2013, 10:06am Top

Put this on your must-see list: Sauna, a 2008 Finnish film directed by Antti-Jussi Annila. At the close of the 16th century, a cartographer and his war-vet brother accompany three Russian soldiers to map out new borders after a 25-year war. What they find in the wilderness is stunning supernatural terror. I was reminded of Algernon Blackwood at points. I'd love to hear thoughts from other WT members. Don't watch the trailer. Just go into it blind. Thanks to Laird Barron for recommending this film.

11Petroglyph
Oct 8, 2013, 7:25pm Top

> 10
I agree, Sauna is pretty entertaining.

12KentonSem
Edited: Oct 14, 2013, 12:36pm Top

The Objective (2008) directed by Daniel Myrick sounds promising. A CIA agent heads a small special-ops squad into Afghanistan in search of a mysterious cleric who may be the key to off-the-scale radiation readings picked up by a spy satellite. A supernatural entity actually turns out to be the cause. Unfortunately, the script does not flesh out the characters and the acting by the leads is mostly pretty wooden. At no point did I accept purty boy Jonas Ball as the haunted CIA leader. There are a couple of good sequences in which the overwhelming power of the entity is gotten across, and the rough-looking Moroccan locations do provide an air of authenticity that the story doesn't quite live up to. A disappointment.

Up next is Tragic Ceremony, a 1972 satanic cult flick that I haven't seen before! Might make it double feature with 1971's great Brotherhood of Satan!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xx6xmv_the-brotherhood-of-satan-original-traile...

13artturnerjr
Oct 14, 2013, 1:40pm Top

Can't stop thinking about Terrence Malick's cosmic The Tree of Life (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478304/) since watching it for the first time a few days ago. Ever see a movie where you wanted to stop strangers in the street and insist they see it? Yeah, it's one of those. Required viewing for Douglas Trumbull's magnificent special effects work alone.

14KentonSem
Edited: Oct 16, 2013, 2:25pm Top

I like the Paranormal Activity series for its overlying story arc and occasionally adept scares, although the "found footage" trope becomes idiotic as often as it provides a genuinely spooky, voyeuristic aspect. The latest, Paranormal Activity 4 continues the somewhat intriguing murderous-witch-coven story. The series is a minor one in horror cinema, but it can be an enjoyable time-waster. Streaming on Netflix.

15KentonSem
Oct 18, 2013, 10:18am Top

1972's Tragic Ceremony unsuccessfully tries to straddle the gothic and the contemporary in a tale blending devil worship and hippies. This Italian film features American starlet Camille (I Spit on Your Grave) Keaton as she wanders somnambulantly through a boring, badly-lit production. A group of hippies have car trouble just outside of a large castle-like structure. It turns out that their hosts are actually satanists who are hosting a ceremony that very evening. It's interesting that the satanists are mostly older folks ( as in Rosemary's Baby and The Brotherhood of Satan) and the hippies are the innocent victims. Keaton does a very nice gothic scene as she wanders the windblown castle complete with flowing white nightgown and dripping candleabra, and there are some primitive extreme gore fx by soon-to-be-famous Carlo Rambaldi. The trouble is that the film mostly consists of scene after scene of characters doing nothing more than smoking and engaging in inane conversation. Hell is ennui! Can't recommend this one.

16KentonSem
Oct 30, 2013, 9:43am Top

The 2008 Belgian film Left Bank is a pretty engrossing tale of paganism and the Samhain holiday that gets let down by a "so what?" ending.

1971's The House That Dripped Blood is an entertaining but mostly tame anthology of Robert Bloch stories. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing each get a segment, although Lee's "Sweets to the Sweet" is the best tale in the bunch. With Ingrid Pitt showing a lot cleavage.

2013's Frankenstein's Army features a group or Russian soldiers encountering many differently-assembled monstrosities in a secret lab located in the German wilderness. The monsters are vaguely steampunk in design and are eye-catching and menacing, but why the film-makers had to go for the "found footage" trope in this instance is beyond me. It ruins the film.

17housefulofpaper
Oct 30, 2013, 7:30pm Top

Last year the BFI issued all their M R James adaptations (plus Dicken's "The Signalman" and two original screenplays from the '70s). Included as extras were three stories done as readings by Christopher Lee in 2000 (set in a Cambridge college in the early part of the last century, Lee was - despite the on-screen credit - not playing James but the narrator to whom the things he recounts actually happened (or they happened to friends).

As a sort of appendix, they have now issued "Classic Ghost Stories": five abridgements of "The Mezzotint", "The Ash-Tree", "Wailing Well", "Oh, Whistle, and I'll come to you, My Lad", and "The Rose Garden" - running time 15 minutes apiece - from 1986. Robert Powell is the reader, again a James/narrator figure in rather 1890s costume and studio set. Powell reads to camera. There are brief "tableau" of certain scenes played out by non-speaking actors. We also see the mezzotint in various stages of its unfolding tale, and a painting of the post in the Rose Garden. The series is shot on videotape.

As extras, there are three 11-minute versions of "The Mezzotint" "A School Story" and "The Diary of Mr Poynter". These came, apparently, from a series for children's television with the umbrella title "Spine Chillers". There was a long-running series called "Jackanory" in which actors would read a children's book in five 10 or 15 minute segments, stripped across the week Mon-Fri. Spine Chillers was a 1980 spin-off.

So, again it's a reading to camera. This time the James stand-in is Michael Bryant, in evening dress and Victorian side-whiskers, against a backdrop of book-case and aspidistra plant. Although for children, this is chillier than the Robert Powell series, with Bryant ending his readings as haunted as his Rev. Justin Somerton in the BBC's version of "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas". It's shot on 16mm film.

As an extra, Test Card "F" and an uninterrupted 50Hz tone can be produced indefinitely. for those who want to calibrate their TV's sound and picture, or are nostalgic for when BBC programming would give way to this in the afternoon, I suppose.

18elenchus
Edited: Oct 31, 2013, 1:27pm Top

> 17

Did you purchase a DVD copy, or perhaps screen via Netflix? Assume it's a multi-disc set, given your description.

Christopher Lee has a fabulous voice and his modulation would lend itself to a James reading. You didn't mention whether you found it effective, or did it perhaps disappoint? I'm not familiar with Robert Powell or Michael Bryant.

19housefulofpaper
Oct 31, 2013, 5:38pm Top

> 18

I've got the DVDs. I don't have Netflix.

Actually, the publication history is a bit complicated. Leaving aside the releases of full dramatisations of "Oh, Whistle"... (1968), "A Warning to the Curious" (1972) and "The Signalman" (1976) as single discs around 2001, "Oh Whistle"... (1968 and 2010 versions) and all the "Ghost Stories for Christmas" - including the two made in 2005 and 2006 - were released on 5 separate discs or one multi-disc set, last year. The Christopher Lee readings were included as extras. Actually, four were made but for some reason only three were included. I gather it was an issue with rights to music on the soundtrack that prevented the fourth being used (a reading of "The Ash Tree").

A further disc with the Powell and Bryant readings came out this month, and the multi-disc set has been reissued with a different cover, to include this sixth disc.

None of the readings disappoint. Christopher Lee has the benefit of the most sumptuous setting (a real location rather than studio, and shot on videotape that's been given a "filmic" look rather than Powell's raw 80's videotape or Bryant's rather washed-out and soft-image 16mm film; and he also has the longest running times - 30 minutes per story against 14 (Powell) or 11 (Bryant) - so the abridgement is much less brutal. He clearly also prepared for the role as a proper acting job. The booklet(s) included with the DVDs point out such touches as the authentic Danish accents (in "Number 13") and accurate Edwardian pronunciation of golf ("goff", in "A Warning to the Curious").

Also, although he's not actually playing M R James, the booklet does give the fascinating (to me, at any rate) snippet of information that Lee met him, or rather was interviewed by him, when Lee sat the scholarship exam for Eton (this was in 1935 - in the event, the booklet says, Lee went to Wellington College).

There are - for the moment, at least - what I take to be off-air VHS recordings of the Lee and Powell series on YouTube, so you don't need to rely on my judgement of their relative merits. Unfortunately I couldn't find any clips of the Michael Bryant readings (but I did find what appears to be a fearsome performance from a 1972 BBC "Duchess of Malfi").

20KentonSem
Edited: Nov 1, 2013, 9:27am Top

Night of Dark Shadows got the short shrift from fans and critics alike when it was released in 1971 not long after its vampire-ridden twin House of Dark Shadows (1970), despite the fact that it too starred a number of cast members from the TV show, including David Selby as TV heartthrob Quentin Collins. While "Night" features witches, reincarnation, possession, homicidal mania, a debut performance by a gorgeous young Kate Jackson and a really fine gothic air, it does not feature werewolves (sorry, Quentin fans), vampires or Barnabas Collins. On this recent viewing, however, I'm thinking that "Night" might actually be the better film of the two. Of course, neither is a masterpiece to begin with, but fans should find a place in their hearts for both. Directed by Dan Curtis. The dvd transfer is gorgeous.

Habit is the directorial debut of Larry Fessenden, who also stars, writes and edits. Filmed on the streets and in the grungy apartments of 1995 NYC, the film would be worth it simply for being a historical artifact if the story wasn't so compelling, too. It's kind of like a low-rent, very loose re-imagining of Dracula. Fessenden give a truly fearless performance. I really think he might be the finest horror director working today (you'll also find him acting in a lot of films, too). Also look for The Wendigo (2001) and The Last Winter (2006).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNRIFSQMXMc

21elenchus
Nov 1, 2013, 3:49pm Top

>19 housefulofpaper:

Really appreciate the detail on the DVD releases. Won't be ordering them soon but it helps avoid confusion knowing of all the overlap between releases.

And how unexpected to learn Prof James was one of Lee's examiners! Wonder if he ever heard one of James's fireside chats, and adapted a mannerism or two into his performance.

22housefulofpaper
Nov 1, 2013, 4:32pm Top

> 21

You're very welcome.

As to whether Lee ever heard M. R. James tell one of his stories, the answer must be that he didn't: he didn't go to Eton, and James died the year after they met. However - here's an extract from Jonathan Rigby's article in the booklet:

there {Wellington College}he was treated to several stories by James' contemporary E. F. Benson. "He was a very charming and scholarly man", observed Lee "and held that large hall of schoolboys absolutely entralled with his words. Of all the stories, "The Room in the Tower" remains most vivid, and I can still hear his quiet voice chilling the blood of every single person in that room - I don't think anyone, masters or pupils, slept a wink that night!"

So maybe Christopher Lee drew on E. F. Benson's readings, and who knows the extent of M. R. James's influence on those?

23KentonSem
Edited: Nov 4, 2013, 2:56pm Top

Escape from Tomorrow (2013) has gained a certain amount of notoriety because it was mostly shot at Disney World on iPhones without Disney's knowledge or consent. The black and white is gorgeous and the surreal, sinister-Disney aspect is really well done (although it's hardly a fresh concept). Overall, however, it's kind of muddled. Worth one watch just to see Disney World in b&w.

This Is the End (2013) is truly idiotic with a bunch of trendy young actors, including Seth Rogen and James Franco, facing the end of the world. Well, the Rapture, actually. There are a few funny gags and a nicely rendered cgi demon, but you probably have better uses for your brain.

Pain & Gain (2013) with Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Ed Harris is a riveting true crime tale that is darkly, hilariously twisted. This actually happened! Don't let the fact that Michael Bay directed it deter you. The casting is perfect - watch and marvel.

24tros
Nov 4, 2013, 3:50pm Top


The Woman in Black is better than I expected, atmospheric, worth watching.

25KentonSem
Nov 6, 2013, 9:30am Top

>24 tros:

I enjoyed The Woman in Black very much. It was nice to see what me be classified as an "old-fashioned ghost story" crafted so well . It was moody and scary. Another success for the reincarnation of Hammer Films.

26KentonSem
Edited: Nov 6, 2013, 2:23pm Top

Recently picked up the Criterion blu-ray release of The Uninvited (1944) with Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey and the eyes of Gail Russell. I'd never watched the entire thing before, despite it's well-deserved reputation as one of the greatest of all cinematic haunted house tales. Turns out I can't recommend it enough. The film is sophisticated, humorous and scary, with least a couple of interesting then-taboos being broached for good measure. It also looks gorgeous. Up until this entry, haunted houses in film always had some kind of rational explanation for events. Here, the irrational wins out and provides not only a logical ending, but a satisfying one at that.

27KentonSem
Edited: Nov 7, 2013, 12:23pm Top

Jugface (2013) is a fairly entertaining horror story focusing on a backwoods Tennessee clan that worships "the pit" and that which lies within it. The sacrificial lamb storyline somewhat echoes "The Lottery". Starring actor/director Larry Fessenden, Sean Young and a young actress named Lauren Ashley Carter, who resembles a cross between Bette Davis and Barbara Steele.

28KentonSem
Edited: May 27, 2015, 3:11pm Top

I couldn't finish Stoker (2013), a wannabe art-house updating of Hitchcock's great Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Uggh.

Pleasantly surprising, however, was Psycho II (1983). The plot can't quite keep up with its own twists and turns by the end, but Anthony Perkins and Meg Tilly are both great in the lead roles and the placing of Norman as the target of a Gaslight-style scenario that backfires was a pretty inspired idea. Nowhere near the same league as the original, of course, but not bad at all!

ETA

Re-watched Shadow of a Doubt and really liked it. Go figure.

29elenchus
Nov 21, 2013, 9:58am Top

Now I want to screen a Hitchcock. Or perhaps Gaslight, one of my early discoveries and it's been years since I last watched it.

30housefulofpaper
Nov 21, 2013, 2:00pm Top

> 29

By coincidence, I've bought the original version of Gaslight, starring Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard, and directed by Thorold Dickinson, today.

31KentonSem
Nov 22, 2013, 8:39am Top

While we're on the subject of Hitchcock, take a look at these photos from a 1956 Halloween party he threw in NYC:

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/52316/Hitchcocks-Haunted-Hous...

The butler looks liked he should have been hosting Creatures Features on a local TV station!

32elenchus
Edited: Nov 22, 2013, 10:21am Top

>30 housefulofpaper:

Original version? Didn't know of that, I've always loved the Ingrid Bergman / Claude Raines version. Does the term gaslighting stem from the original, do you know?

>31 KentonSem:

Drat: images blocked at work. Will have to try again from home.

33housefulofpaper
Nov 22, 2013, 2:52pm Top

> 32 It wasn't a term I was familiar with, but Wikipedia says it does originate with the film (or, to be strictly accurate, the original Patrick Hamilton play).

34elenchus
Nov 22, 2013, 4:14pm Top

And it was Charles Boyer, of course, not Claude Raines in the 1944 Cukor version. I should know better than to pretend I have a reliable memory.

35KentonSem
Edited: Feb 5, 2014, 12:55pm Top

I finally watched John Carpenter's 1987 Prince of Darkness. Not even Donald Pleasence can save it, but it's enjoyable on the level of kitsch. The script consists of Idiot's Guide to Physics-style mumblings ineptly combined with Theology 101 term papers to provide satanic non-scares. The 1980's fashions are truly awful even for the 1980's, and provide the true horror here. The high points of the film are Alice Cooper as a homicidal street person, John Carpenter's droning, eerie synth score and a scene in which Satan is being dragged out of a mirror world.

I remember master magician Ricky Jay from numerous talk show appearances in the 1970's. He was the guy who looked like a rock star and did feats of mind-blowing prestidigitation. The new documentary Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is fantastic and I heartily recommend it to WT members. We're not talking David Copperfield-level theatrics here, but the much more personal magic of card tricks and sleight-of-hand. The history of magic heavily permeates this film. I kept thinking of Walter B. Gibson's "how to" books, or the Coleman Collins from Peter Straub's novel Shadowland. See Ricky Jay perform little miracles!

http://www.rickyjaymovie.com/

Watched 10 minutes of 2012's Dario Argento's Dracula and, already numbed by that point, switched to the same year's The Scapegoat, a twisted little doppelganger film based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel. It's never comes close to attaining the same levels of excellence as the 1973 Roeg / Du Maurier classic Don't Look Now but it's a nicely twisted little tale, just the same. Kind of like Downton Abbey viewed through a much darker lens.

36LamontCranston
Feb 4, 2014, 10:13am Top

>and that whole 19th-century underground city

Thats actually the Seattle Underground:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Underground

37KentonSem
Feb 28, 2014, 12:43pm Top

I like most of director J.T. Petty's work very much. Films like Soft for Digging and The Burrowers are great, and are highly recommended to WT members. I'm saddened to report, however, that his new comedy Hellbenders is an unfortunate misfire. It's pretty much a nonsensical mishmash of clashing religious mythologies, decent makeup fx and not-so-decent CGI. Even so, if someone were to make a video clip consisting of all of the outrageous, profanity-laden blasphemes spouted by Clancy Brown in the role of Father Angus, I'd watch it over and over.

38housefulofpaper
Mar 2, 2014, 6:30pm Top

Three literary adaptations were released on one disc* by the British Film Institute (BFI) last autumn, tying in with their Gothic season.

The 'main feature' is Leslie Megahey's 1979 TV film of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's early story 'Schalcken the Painter'. This was long-awaited, never having been commercially available before, and not repeated on UK television for over 30 years (a fuzzy VHS copy had made its way onto YouTube fairly recently, which was where I first saw it).

It was made for BBC's Omnibus arts programme, which was generally a series of one-off 'straight' documentaries. The focus is almost as much on recreating 17th Dutch interiors on film as on telling the story. This is not a criticism, but be warned that it moves at a very stately pace.

There are two 'supporting features' in the shape of two short films which received theatrical release, back in the days when there would indeed be a programme of main feature and supporting feature(s).

The first is 'The Pit', a 1962 adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum'. It was apparently financed by 'The British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund'. There's no dialogue but plenty of expressionistic black and white cinematography, some shouting, and electronic sound effects. Somehow, despite all this experimentation every frame virtually shouts "1962". It was produced and directed by Edward Abraham - who scripted 'The Monster Club' nearly 20 years later.

The third film is 'The Pledge' from 1981. This is actually an adaptation of Lord Dunsany's story 'The Highwayman'. The director, Digby Rumsey, had made two earlier Dunsany film adaptations (form the information on IMDB, they sound fairly modest affairs). This one boasts some impressive models of the hanged man in various states of decay, complementarily bleak landscapes (it was shot in the Cambrian mountains), and a Michael Nyman score (possibly it's not just Nyman's score that conjures up thoughts of Peter Greenaway's early films, since the DVD booklet reveals that Greenaway was one of the picture editors).

Strangely, 'The Pledge' was the support for 'Porky's', on that film's first UK release.

* it's actually dual-format: the same content on a DVD and on a Blu-ray disc.

39KentonSem
Edited: Mar 3, 2014, 12:51pm Top

>38 housefulofpaper:

Thanks for that info. I'm going to have to break down and order some of these BFI releases - including the M.R. James adaptations - from Amazon UK one of these days. I was recently reading about Schalcken the Painter in Sight & Sound magazine (they reviewed the entire DVD set). Might be a really interesting vampire tale. I'd also like to read the original tale by Le Fanu.

40housefulofpaper
Mar 3, 2014, 12:44pm Top

> 39

I can recommend Le Fanu's ghost stories. M. R. James praised him as his favourite ghost story writer. On top of that, his gothic novels (specifically Uncle Silas and The Wyvern Mystery have been identified as (ahem) "unacknowledged" influences on Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

You might also want to look into Peter Greenaway's films from the late '70s and the '80s. They are in the spirit of the experimental SF and Fantasy that characterised Michael Moorcock's editorship of New Worlds Magazine (I'd probably single out the shorts 'Water Wrackets' and 'A Walk Through H', and the three-hour 'The Falls').

41KentonSem
Edited: Mar 3, 2014, 2:00pm Top

>40 housefulofpaper:

I've always liked "Carmilla" very much (hmmm... maybe a movie marathon of film adaptations of that tale is due), and not long ago, a pal gifted me with a copy of Wylder's Hand. I don't have a collection of Le Fanu's tales, though.

42artturnerjr
Mar 9, 2014, 5:34pm Top

Recently checked out Ralph Bakshi's animated post-apocalyptic fantasy film Wizards (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076929/) via YouTube. More than a little dated now (you can almost smell the pot smoke and patchouli oil as you're viewing), I still found it to be a diverting entertainment, particularly late in the evening after a couple beers.

Here's the YouTube link:

http://youtu.be/2rF2y7oMlQg

43KentonSem
Mar 10, 2014, 9:25am Top

>42 artturnerjr:

I fondly recall Wizards as a midnight movie staple during the pre-home video years.

Just Netflix-streamed Luc Besson's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, a whimsical fantasy adventure set the very early part of the 20th century. Featuring a determined heroine, a personable pterodactyl, living mummies and many wonderfully idiosyncratic characters. I was reminded at times of the illustrations of Moebius, various silent films and the books of Tim Powers. Good stuff!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAhmCHnNcWs

44KentonSem
Edited: Mar 18, 2014, 10:37am Top

I could always listen to music by Rush on the radio (remember the radio?) or MTV (remember when MTV would play Rush videos?), but I never bought one of their albums, despite my love of hard rock/metal/prog. The 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage makes me wonder why. They are a great band. The documentary works really well with a lot of home movie footage and photos. Thankfully, the obligatory rock celeb talking heads are kept to a minimum and the band gets to tell the tale. You can stream it on Netflix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk8hbSxY0sE



I was disappointed by Brian Flemming's The God Who Wasn't There (2005), despite the limited presence of the always welcome theologian/Lovecraft scholar Dr. Robert M. Price. What starts as an interesting look at the idea of Jesus as myth devolves into a kind of limp personal attack on the school where the director lost his faith (he tries to ambush the school's superintendent Michael Moore-style, but it just ends up sounding kind of whiny). You can YouTube it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik7GRQ9hoVY if you are so inclined.

45artturnerjr
Mar 18, 2014, 8:33pm Top

>44 KentonSem:

I enjoyed Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage a great deal, too. Here's my Amazon review from a few years back:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1S32FXOKRGUOG/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Of related interest - another excellent documentary on the band (Rush: Classic Albums: 2112 & Moving Pictures) can be found on YouTube here:

http://youtu.be/GqjBcM3re-Y

46KentonSem
Edited: Apr 7, 2014, 3:22pm Top

I finally got around to Matthijs van Heijningen's 2011 "prequel" version of The Thing starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It has the unenviable task of existing in the shadow of John Carpenter's 1982 version, which is a nearly perfect horror film. The latest version tries to make a good go of it, but bungles the why-should-I care factor by providing a supporting cast of bland, indistinguishable scientist-or-explorer-types who exist in the film purely to become monster fodder. There doesn't seem to be one character in the bunch who has any real reason for being at a research station (?) in the antarctic. Even worse, the unbearable paranoia of Carpenter's film (and Campbell's source novella) just isn't there, and it really should be the whole point.

The monster and its various transformations do nicely echo the unforgettable Rob Bottin nightmares of the 1982 film, but these are, of course, CGI fx. As far as I'm concerned, CGI is deliberately trying to trick my eyes. There is no "work with me on this" relationship, which I am happy to provide for physical fx to create an illusion of reality. My eyes realize that CGI is base trickery, and so I am constantly reminded that what I am looking at is not real. It might as well be a cartoon. A neat-looking monster cartoon which subtracts from the overall intended effect. But that's the norm these days. I'll get over it.

Winstead does a decent job in an underwritten role. It's hard to imagine that a young Cornell research scientist wouldn't require instructions in the use of hand grenades and flame throwers, but then again, there is an imperative here which might make anyone catch on very, very quickly.

There is one silly shot near the end which instantly telegraphs the film's big "shock" reveal a few minutes later. Up until that point, I was wondering how this film could be a prequel, but a sequence inserted throughout the end titles nicely resolves that question. It even uses part of Ennio Morricone's brilliant score. Ah, well. Time to watch the 1982 film for the 1000th time...

47KentonSem
Edited: Apr 7, 2014, 2:01pm Top

William Friedkin's 2011 film Killer Joe took me quite by surprise. The plot description about a psycho police detective led me to expect something of a Killer Inside Me riff, but instead this subtle, pitch-dark comedy about troubled family relationships is really just a nod and a wink away from Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) territory. Matthew McConaughey is perfect as Joe Cooper, the police detective who does contract killing on the side. Juno Temple brilliantly pulls off the role of the Lolita-like Dottie, perhaps taking Carroll Baker's performance in Baby Doll (1956) into account.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxpvzmvFHTM

48tros
Apr 7, 2014, 3:05pm Top


Just watched Maniac with Elijah Wood, a long way from middle earth, based on an 80's film, extremely gory and shocking.

49artturnerjr
Apr 7, 2014, 4:24pm Top

>47 KentonSem:

Speaking of Friedkin... can you (or anybody else here) give me the scoop on his 2006 film Bug (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470705/?ref_=asrtt_sr_tt)? I keep seeing it on the cheap locally and wondering if it's worth picking up.

50KentonSem
Edited: Apr 7, 2014, 4:28pm Top

>49 artturnerjr:

Bug is fantastic and features the debut film performance by Michael Shannon. Highly recommended. Like Killer Joe, it's based on a stage play, but that in no way detracts.

51artturnerjr
Apr 7, 2014, 5:07pm Top

>50 KentonSem:

Thanks. I'll definitely pick it up the next time I see it then. 8)

52housefulofpaper
Apr 7, 2014, 6:16pm Top

Mention of the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger over on the Deep Ones thread made me think of A Canterbury Tale from 1944.

It was intended as a propaganda piece but its far more than that.

It's a slight narrative of three modern pilgrims (two army sergeants - one English, one American - and a land girl) temporarily thrown together in a village near Canterbury by an encounter with "the glue man".

The real story is in its evocation of the English countryside, and history; and more than that, the sense of the spiritual, even miracuous, in the everyday. In this, it's the closest I can think of, in cinema, to the later works of Arthur Machen.

53paradoxosalpha
Apr 8, 2014, 1:33am Top

>52 housefulofpaper: In this, it's the closest I can think of, in cinema, to the later works of Arthur Machen.

Well! I'll see if I can screen that, then.

54KentonSem
Edited: Apr 16, 2014, 12:46pm Top

I was enthralled by Michael Powell's 1951 The Tales of Hoffmann. It's one of those visually stunning films that provides a truly dream-like experience for the viewer. The sets and costumes, which draw upon surrealism, cubism, expressionism and more , combine with a superb color palette that rivals that of Kwaidan. The very dark overtones of Hoffman's work are all here, from Olimpia the automaton being torn apart to a series of wonderfully satanic/vampiric roles played by Robert Helpmann. I was delighted to find that one of the extras on this Criterion dvd is horror director George Romero discussing this, his favorite film, and the impact it has had on his life and career since he first saw it as a child.

55elenchus
Apr 16, 2014, 12:39pm Top

I'm putting the 2 Powell & Pressburger films in my Netflix queue, as well. Though it may be a stretch to convince my Other Viewer (apologies, paradoxosalpha) to go along for the ride.

56KentonSem
Edited: Apr 21, 2014, 7:05pm Top

I really like the work of director Larry Fessenden and his Glass Eye Pix film company. Larry's latest, Beneath (2013), is a big fish tale which hearkens back to early 1980's teens-in-peril-in-the-woods movies with nods to higher standard fare like Joe Dante's Piranha (1978) and Spielberg's Jaws (1975). The story is mostly a black comedy in which you want to see the teens get eaten because they are all such a-wads, but the gradual breakdown in manners (they're stuck out on a lake with a large killer fish circling them) is pretty amusing in itself. There are a lot of shots that stand out with an eerie, poetic beauty which makes an intriguingly jarring juxtaposition with the deliberately low-brow script. The fish is actually pretty well designed, but the big pupils they painted on on its bulging eyeballs often make it look like nothing so much as a 1950's Paul Blaisdell movie monster. Love it. Not the best Fessenden entry, but an entertaining one. It helps if you're cognizant of Beneath's horror film inspirations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Nskpe4Iws

57bertilak
Apr 25, 2014, 9:27am Top

I urge you all to see Under the Skin which will give you a new definition of weird. Four thumbs up (or more, depending on your species)!

Here is a review from letterboxd:

"Review by Matt Singer ★★★★½

Scarlett Johansson stars as an alien who's like "I got yer male gaze right HERE buddy."

I joke because I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought."

58KentonSem
Edited: Apr 28, 2014, 10:24am Top

Continuing my ongoing Michael Powell film fest, I watched The Red Shoes (1948). Yes, it's the classic of classics that everyone always raves about. A must-see with a fine downbeat ending. Just watch it, if you haven't already. I still prefer the more dreamlike Tales of Hoffman (see above), however. Moira Shearer stars in this one, too (she also plays Olympia the automaton in Tales). I appreciate how Powell stars actual dancers in these films, instead of getting name stars and having someone double for them. Next up, the horror film that effectively ended Powell's career: Peeping Tom (1960).

As an antidote for all this artiness, I screened Escape Plan (2013) with Stallone and Schwartzenegger. Pretty dumb! I always enjoy Amy Ryan and Sam Neill. They have throwaway roles, but what the heck. The movie went ok with Victory Storm King porter.

I also saw The Wizard of Oz (1939) for the millionth time, but this was the first time for me on a big screen. Unfortunately, it wasn't a film print, just the "digitally restored" dvd. Sound was bad, framing was weird, but what is it about this film that makes it so compelling every time you watch it? For me, it's watching Judy Garland skip.

>57 bertilak:

Under the Skin is near the top of my watch-list. As soon as Netflix gets it...

59artturnerjr
May 5, 2014, 3:50pm Top

>58 KentonSem:

what is it about this film that makes it so compelling every time you watch it?

The flying monkeys, of course. Oh, and that hyper-real Technicolor still looks gorgeous.

60KentonSem
May 7, 2014, 2:14pm Top

Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Hitchcock's Psycho both premiered in 1960 and feature handsome, personable young psychotics who murder women. Despite the delicious shocks and black-and-white charms of Hitchcock's classic, it's really Powell's color film that is the more disturbing of the two. It's pretty easy to see why this film, great though it is, killed Powell's career. I don't think anyone was ready for Peeping Tom in 1960. With Moira Shearer from The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann as a victim. Not much more than a drop of blood in the whole thing, but it's creepy, maybe even repulsive too. I really liked the films-within-the-film spiral and the multiple layers of voyeurism which are addressed. Fascinating.

Nicolás Goldbart's 2011 film Phase 7 is a nifty Argentinian riff on the popular end-of-the-world scenario seen in similar films like The Crazies or 28 Days Later, but here the sick just die, period - it's the survivors you have to worry about. Excellently lit and shot, with a vibrant color scheme. You can stream it on Netflix.

61KentonSem
Edited: Jun 10, 2014, 9:56am Top

Beware of Mr. Baker (2012) is a really well done music documentary featuring iconic drummer Ginger Baker. You'll know him from classic supergroups like Cream and Blind Faith, but Baker is also a top-notch jazz drummer and was one of the first - possibly the first - white rock musicians to seriously study world beats, especially those of Africa. Trouble is, Baker's prodigious talent is counterbalanced by an aggressive, antisocial personality. Couple that with a tendency toward serious substance abuse issues and you're left with a ticking time bomb, more often than not. When he bashes the film's director in the nose with the metal handle of his cane, you know he's not the pussy-cat-disguised-as-a-tiger that most "dangerous" musicians turn out to be.

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1059563289/

62artturnerjr
May 15, 2014, 7:43pm Top

>61 KentonSem:

Sounds fascinating. I am a huge Cream fan - will have to keep an eye out for that one. 8)

63KentonSem
May 22, 2014, 7:01pm Top

As a decades-long fan of Godzilla, as the possessor of numerous Godzilla statues, figures, paperbacks, comic books, personalized posters of Big G fighting Pokemon (I kid you not), as a wearer of Big G t-shirts and as the owner of a pair of Godzilla-feet slippers, I feel that I can heartily recommend the new Godzilla film. Basically, the human drama in the story is crap on toast (even though the actors are so earnest) and Bryan Cranston models a distracting wig, but the explanation for the monsters' behavior is kind of neat, the massive destruction is violent and scary (and the tsunami scenes will no doubt be especially nightmarish for the people of Japan), and the M.U.T.O. monsters turn out to be pretty intriguing. What about Godzilla, you ask? Godzilla is FEARSOME! I miss the traditional cat-like qualities of his face, but otherwise this version is the real deal, turned up to 11. The film makers wisely keep Godzilla's screen time limited - it makes his appearances all the more compelling. When he roars in this film, it sends chills all the way down to my toes. See it in IMAX 3D if possible.

64KentonSem
Jun 10, 2014, 9:41am Top

In Neil Jordan's Byzantium (2012), Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan are a centuries-old mother-daughter duo whose descent into the world of the undead is told in exquisite detail. Ronan is especially good as the eternal 16-year-old. While not as intensely involving as Let the Right One In (2008) or as fun as Twixt (2011), it definitely has its share of startling moments. I also found it refreshing that, instead of utilizing a Dracula-like master vampire, the film introduces an evil spirit residing in a remote location that "victims" deliberately must seek out in order to achieve soul-less immortality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNAMDWyJZBQ

65housefulofpaper
Jun 17, 2014, 5:33pm Top

In the recent British found-footage film The Borderlands (2013) a team is sent by the Vatican to investigate claims of a miracle in a West Country church. The two Catholic priests on the team, each for his own reasons, wants to debunk the claims. Their tech support (who's lied on his job application and isn't even a 'believer'), on the other hand, has a post-religious superficial openness to 'phenomena'.

Of course, as events (largely captured on headcams that the investigators wear at all times) unfold, the phenomena are not easily dismissed and, it becomes clear, not from a benign source. It's a slow burn, and the film has a lot of humour in the early scenes (it's not a million miles away from Ben Wheatley's work). Some on-line reviews have found it low on action.

I found it pretty effective, however. The location is a genuinely unsettling medieval church perched on top of a steep hill (West Ogmoor church near Dartmoor, apparently), with the climax playing out in a real and claustrophobic cave system.

66KentonSem
Edited: Jun 23, 2014, 6:42pm Top

2013's World War Z is a barely ok end-of-the-world thriller, but as far as zombie apocalypse films go, it... rots. Forget the fast vs. slow zombie argument. These are null zombies due to bad lighting/rendering and mindlessly frenetic edits that allow the viewer only the briefest glimpses of a handful of the creatures, despite the many thousands on display from a distance. Isn't half the fun of a good zombie flick being able to linger over the shambling, decaying wreckage and maybe even find a few favorites to admire? Remember Bub from Day of the Dead (1985) or the obese monstrosity on the yacht in Fulci's Zombie (1979)? Nothing remotely like them in WWZ.

Plot? Brad Pitt is totally unbelievable as an ex-special forces superdad who gets drafted back into the military because.... well, supposedly he's REAL GOOD at whatever it is that he does. Now he has to fly all over the world to find out how best to battle the Z-virus! He's a super soldier of convenience who can suddenly fly a military transport plane when the going gets tough (or when the script removes the pilot). Or survive a jumbo jet crash. Or show just the right amount of acquired-from-absolutely nowhere science-savvy to... aww, forget it. Just watch for him to show up in in The Expendables XXVI. A vintage Kurt Russell might have salvaged this kind of role with a lot of cocky swagger, but Pitt? Make it World War Zzzzzzzz.

There is very little blood on display, let alone gore, and genre-dictated transgressive behavior on the part of our cast - living or undead - is nil, so this one is fairly safe for the kiddies. I was lucky enough to have to track down what we now call zombie cinema at drive-ins and occasional midnight movies in the late 1970's, when there was still something disreputable - if not downright taboo - about the genre. Recent Z-films like WWZ are at the sad tail end of things: absolutely sterile and by-the-numbers.

67MissPrudence
Jun 23, 2014, 1:45pm Top

Did anyone in this group watch the series "The Returned" on the Sundance Channel? Or even on French TV? It is a French series (Les Revenants); Sundance aired the 1st season already, and apparently will air Season 2 later this year. I hope they have a marathon of Season 1 before kicking off Season 2, but what do I know? It's an eerie story in a really beautiful location. Here is the Sundance Channel's promo material:

http://www.sundance.tv/series/the-returned

I've mostly lurked on this list, and have hunted down some good movies because of suggestions here! But haven't seen any mention of this series (apologies if I missed an earlier conversation).

68housefulofpaper
Jun 23, 2014, 4:09pm Top

>67 MissPrudence:

I missed it when it was shown on British TV. I see it got some good reviews but also some online grumbles that the story wasn't going anywhere - would you recommend I get it on DVD?

There was a broadly similar series on BBC3 (a satellite/cable channel specifically aimed at 16-24 year-olds) called In the Flesh. I was going to ask if it's been shown in the US, but I see it's been on BBC America. This was another one I missed, but my 15 year old niece liked it.

69MissPrudence
Jun 23, 2014, 5:29pm Top

> 68 housefulofpaper

I can see how there would be grumbles. I have a high tolerance for slow-moving stories, so that's not something that would make me stop watching. The story is slow - I've seen the full 8 episodes of the first season, and it's been mostly character background, and little about the mystery itself, other than how different characters are dealing with their individual issues. There was a cliffhanger at the end of the season, but no resolution of any kind. I don't know that I would recommend a DVD purchase - at least, not at full price. It was fun, though, and worth a look if it ever gets re-broadcast on British TV, or if you can find an inexpensive DVD.

I didn't see In the Flesh, but will keep an eye out in case it pops up again. I really enjoyed a couple of older BBC series: Strange and Jonathan Creek, both of which were shown on American TV. The lead actor in Strange is now on a pirate show with John Malkovich. I watched the first couple of episodes; not my thing, but it was great seeing that actor again!

70housefulofpaper
Jun 23, 2014, 6:01pm Top

>69 MissPrudence:

I can't quite believe Strange was shown in the US. It makes the BBC's decision to can it after six episodes - and on a cliffhanger - even odder. Still, they've got a history of being nervous/disapproving of supernatural drama (which doesn't extend to buying in US series or showing horror films, funnily enough).

71MissPrudence
Jun 23, 2014, 6:24pm Top

>70 housefulofpaper: housefulofpaper

I would buy Strange on DVD - but as far as I can tell, it's not available anywhere...

72KentonSem
Jul 1, 2014, 8:51am Top

Uber-director Otto Preminger was soundly bitten on the ass by his 1968 film Skidoo. It flopped on release (star Jackie Gleason reportedly walked out of the film's premiere) and has pretty much been considered an unwatchable train wreck ever since. As train wrecks go, though, it's actually a lot of fun! It's not a good movie or a lost treasure by any means, but if watching Ralph Cramden fake an acid trip (badly) is your idea of a good time, then this film is definitely for you. Imagine It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) redone as a slapstick crime caper, but filled with Hollywood's strangely-out-of-touch 60's version of hippie culture. Besides Gleason, you get Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx (as God!), Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, John Phillip Law (Diabolik himself!), Michael Constantine, Richard "Jaws" Kiel, Frank Gorshin, Cesar Romero.... Plus bit roles by a thousand and one character actors that you know and love if your movie experience goes back further than the current century.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd6OxYZigFU

Entire film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVjM84NliCQ

73paradoxosalpha
Jul 1, 2014, 12:39pm Top

I love Skidoo.

74RandyStafford
Jul 1, 2014, 1:59pm Top

>72 KentonSem: It seems worth a look. One of a zillion movies with Mickey Rooney. I would think's got to be close or at the top for the most movies on IMDB.

75KentonSem
Edited: Jul 1, 2014, 2:45pm Top

>73 paradoxosalpha:,>74 RandyStafford:

In a way, Skidoo is kind of like the unfunny, hopelessly squaresville sibling of Bob Rafelson's Head, starring the Monkees. Both comedies had a lot of star power, both tanked in 1968 and both are totally watchable now, in retrospect. Head has infinitely preferable music, of course, but seeing Carol Channing perform "Skidoo" is a fairly unique hallucinogenic experience that stands on its own.

76artturnerjr
Jul 6, 2014, 9:11pm Top

I've been having a lot of fun checking out the special features on my Heavy Metal Collector's Edition DVD (http://amzn.com/0767836316), which I highly recommend to fans of the film. Den! Taarna! All hail Uhluhtc! 8)

77KentonSem
Edited: Aug 16, 2014, 7:02pm Top

Under the Skin (2013) is fine SF. Directed by Jonathan Glazer and based on the novel by Michael Faber, the film features a nicely etched performance by Scarlett Johannson as a predatory alien who begins to ponder more closely the humans she preys upon. In these days of flash edits which keep the viewer off balance and unable to focus on much of anything in a genre film, the long, mostly silent, lingering shots in "Skin" make the film itself seem alien. It's not quite the revelation that some of the hype might lead you to believe, but I find that it fits snugly in intent somewhere between The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Liquid Sky (1982).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoSWbyvdhHw

78KentonSem
Edited: Aug 29, 2014, 6:58pm Top

Charlotte Gainsbourg gives a typically great performance in Lars Von Trier's 2013 film Nymphomaniac Vol.1. I was reminded of such Euro sexploitation films as Schulmädchen-Report from 1970, but with Von Trier-style weirdness. For instance, discussions of Bach's polytonal compositions and Poe's (unproven) delerium tremens before he died are intermingled with the near-hardcore shots. Still have to watch Vol. 2, but so far, so good!

After watching this film, I moved onto the top-notch HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Season 4, which features its own references to Poe and "William Wilson". It's a fine, weird world!

79tros
Aug 29, 2014, 4:39pm Top


I liked part one of Nympho but part two quickly descended into violent abuse. I didn't feel like going through prolonged suffering, so I bailed.

80elenchus
Edited: Aug 29, 2014, 7:11pm Top

Anyone familiar with the BBC Series Sapphire & Steel, and care to comment on (a) whether it's as good as its cult following alleges, and (b) there are significant aspects of Weird involved?

I was gifted a 6-DVD set, never having heard of it before. I'll watch eventually, but curious if I should make it a priority or not.

OOPS: Make that ITV, not BBC. Demonstrating my lack of familiarity.

81tros
Aug 29, 2014, 7:56pm Top


Shades of Darkness by BBC, excellent horror stories by Wharton, Sinclair, Bowen, etc.

82housefulofpaper
Aug 30, 2014, 1:46pm Top

>80 elenchus:
I watched this series on its original broadcast...35 years ago. Just give me a moment for that to sink in...

a) is obviously subjective. You have to make allowances, not just for the age of the series but also it's low budget. Despite the "name" stars the budget and resources must have been much smaller than, say, a contemporary Doctor Who. This is reflected in several ways: it's all shot on video (but on PAL rather than NTSC so it avoids the blurriness and wayward colour signal that bedevilled that technology, and the studio lighting is commendably atmospheric where shadows are required), the casts of the six multi-episode stories are small-to tiny, and each story stays in one claustrophobic location/set. This is more often than not turned to advantage, though.

The stories, or some of them, are probably too long. One runs to eight half-hour episodes. Again, probably down to the budget.

There's not a lot of humour: it's all played very straight; and as the title characters are almost certainly not human (they could be aliens, or the personification of chemical elements as the title sequence seems to suggest (I know, steel isn't an element!)) there's no character development or emotional journey or arc...which might come as a relief.

The booklet to my DVD of the series also reveals that it was originally pitched as a children's serial, before it was felt the concept was too dark. I think it ended up being shown at 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening.

All that said, there are scenes, sequences that have stayed with me, although I wouldn't say I was ever scared by anything in this series. It does sit nicely as a capstone, if you like, to the "hauntological" 1970s. I understand this term originated with Jacques Derrida and it puns on the term "ontological" (if you say it in a french accent), but in the last few years it's been used as a catch-all term for the folk-horror, radiophonic music, high-minded (and/or alarming) public service broadcasting, and so on, that formed the media landscape for British children in the 1970's - or at least that's how some of us remember it in middle age.

b) it's definitely weird..it's also Weird. "Time" is unknowable but sentient in some way and malevolent. It can "break in" to the normal flow of events and steal people or haunt a location. "Elements" - agents or whatever they are such as Sapphire and Steel are assigned to stop these incursions. They have some superpowers very loosely related to the physical properties of the elements they're named after (or that they are...). Anyone caught up in these events may end up as collateral damage.

Each of the six stories or "assignments" is self-contained, so you could watch the first (six half-hour episodes, I think) without having to commit to watching all the others straight after in a "your next box set" way.

> 81
I was completely unaware of this series. A quick internet search shows that, frustratingly, it's not available in the UK. I also found out that it was made by Granada television for the commercial ITV network (like Sapphire and Steel, although that was from a different franchisee). The producer was June Wyndham Davies, who also produced the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series/one-off TV movies. There are a couple of clips of Shades of Darkness on YouTube, and the stylistic "family resemblance" to the Sherlock Holmes series is very marked.

83elenchus
Aug 30, 2014, 7:04pm Top

>82 housefulofpaper:

Intriguing description! -- and makes me want to move it up in the queue. I'll have to see if I can persuade my partner to watch along with me, much more likely that way to find a time sooner than later.

84KentonSem
Sep 15, 2014, 10:13am Top

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) is a halfway decent re-envisioning of the series. Andy Serkis does of great job of portraying Caesar, the leader of the ape revolution. I especially enjoyed his scenes of self-realization. All of the simians make a monkey out of James Franco, acting-wise. Disappointingly, I found a lot of the CGI to be sub-par and distracting. Movement often looks cartoonish. All in all, I still prefer the much more intriguing 1968 original.

85KentonSem
Edited: Oct 14, 2014, 8:52am Top

I was really impressed by the new Showtime series Penny Dreadful. Some folks will probably note a similarity to A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I find it does so comfortably and on its own terms. I'm actually reminded even more of such works by Tim Powers as The Anubis Gates and Hide Me Among the Graves. The cast, including Eva Green and Timothy Dalton, is really great but none stands out as much as Rory Kinnear, who creates a most memorable Frankenstein monster. His dialog is well-written and his entrance into the story is a stunner. You can watch the pilot episode here:

http://www.sho.com/sho/video/full-episodes#

ETA

Seven episodes in, there is a bit of a loss of momentum, thanks mostly to a somewhat tedious subplot centered on a case of demonic possession. Additionally, the Dorian Gray storyline is pretty boring, but hopefully it will tie back in and prove to have some purpose. The most compelling character is still the Frankenstein monster, who is demanding much more screen time than he has been getting.

86paradoxosalpha
Mar 9, 2015, 11:53am Top

I did get around to watching the recentish Solomon Kane movie late last year, and found it frustrating for the reasons enumerated by housefulofpaper. But I was just now burrowing around in isfdb.org in search of possible Deep Ones nominations, and I discovered that the novelization of the Kane film was by Ramsey Campbell!

Solomon Kane

Has anyone here read it?

87KentonSem
Edited: Apr 28, 2015, 12:32pm Top

I highly recommend the new horror film IT FOLLOWS, which has been receiving near-universal stellar reviews. I went to see it mainly based on a thumbs-up by trusted Video Watchdog and Sight & Sound regular Kim Newman. The movie is really a loving homage to the work of director John Carpenter (and HALLOWEEN in particular), from its suburban setting and absolutely perfect synth soundtrack right on down to a number of specific shots. It's no mere copycat, though. It has a definite look and feel of its own that keeps the viewer constantly off balance. For example, there is an unnerving lack of place and setting. Despite a near complete lack of modern technology, one girl is reading Dostoyevsky (and here we have a teen horror movie in which D. is quoted aloud several times - and it works!) on some kind of weird clamshell-shaped device. The make and year of most of the vehicles is all over the place, but "old" seems to be the main criteria. Nearly all the locations seem to be abandoned or run-down structures, from schools to homes. Now, this could be a modern Detroit suburb or its equivalent, but there is a sense of displacement, as if the characters are just a step out of time. Even the clothes and hairstyles don't necessarily apply. It all creates a very weird ambience. I won't spoil the central plot device, but it's creepy as hell. In a lesser film, this would just be another urban-legend yawnfest, but here all is despair and finely-tuned horror. To their credit, the entire cast of young actors are engaging and seem real. Great script, direction and acting. Especially Maika Monroe as the followed girl. Her big, expressive eyes reminded me a bit of Barbara Steele. Don't watch the trailer or read the reviews - see it first.



ETA

Nice to find that in this interview, director David Robert Mitchell confirms some of my notions above:

http://www.avclub.com/article/david-robert-mitchell-his-striking-new-horror-film...

88KentonSem
Apr 17, 2015, 3:25pm Top

Another fantastic new horror entry is the Australian feature THE BABADOOK (2014). It's a really well-made tale of haunting and possession that has its own way with those time-worn tropes. As with IT FOLLOWS, in the hands of a lesser director it would have been just another take on a tired sub-genre, but here Jennifer Kent keeps it creepy and surprising. The lead performance by Essie Davis is an unnerving showstopper, the sheer physicality of which reminded me of Isabelle Adjani's harrowing contribution to Żuławski's POSESSION (1981). Another nice surprise is that the child in danger, played by Noah Wiseman, is a True Kid and not just not some cute little moppet inserted to attain easy viewer sympathy. As for the Babadook itself, well, you'll have to encounter it on your own. There is a lot of psychological depth here, along with some truly shocking scenes. You can currently stream it on Netflix

89elenchus
Apr 17, 2015, 3:40pm Top

I've read enough about The Babadook to be (a) very impressed with the psychological aspects as well as how the director plays with expectations given the tropes of horror films, and (b) absolutely positive I will not watch it for fear of sustained night terrors.

In some ways, it reminds me of a book I've not read, but also have read about: A Monster Calls, though I don't anticipate being totally freaked by that one and intend to pick it up eventually.

90KentonSem
Edited: Apr 17, 2015, 4:22pm Top

>89 elenchus:

Oh, yes. THE BABADOOK is all about producing night terrors. Thanks for mentioning A Monster Calls.

I've been on quite a roll with viewing top-notch new films lately. Up next is Cronenberg's MAPS TO THE STARS (2014). I have high hopes for it.

91KentonSem
Edited: Apr 20, 2015, 12:47pm Top

David Cronenberg's MAPS TO THE STARS (2014) might not look like it at first glance, but it is indeed a horror film. The horror being the supreme, almost sociopathic, superficiality of some of the film industry's elite. A friend of mine is pretty sure the film's structure - and title - is referencing the incestuous tale of Osiris, Isis and Horus. He could well be right. I see a bit of Shakespeare too, with showbiz royalty being undone by their own heinous actions (or inaction), and with a couple of ghosts thrown into the mix for good measure. John Cusack and Julianne Moore are fantastic as a creepy self-help guru and a half -crazed actress on the cusp of a fading career. Mia Wasikowska is particularly fine as the girl with a secret (and burn scars). Her character somewhat echoes Edith Scob's Christiane in LE YEUX SANS VISAGE (1960), another heroine dealing with emotional and physical scars. One thing I like about Cronenberg's style that is on display here is his tendency for lingering shots. You can really study the actors' faces instead of being clobbered on the head with a bunch of quick edits. One of the masters of cinema contributes another winner.

92KentonSem
Edited: Apr 28, 2015, 2:12pm Top

A recent vampire-themed double feature produced two very different results.

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (2014) is an Iranian suburb-set vampire film directed by Ana Lily Amirpour that shows some promise as it's shot in gorgeous black-and-white and utilizes such a novel setting. After a while, though, you start to notice that there is no real build-up of suspense and a lot of dialog does nothing and goes nowhere. The vampire girl's obsession with Iranian versions of 1980's synthpop tropes is unexplained and her Kim Wilde "Kids in America"-era striped shirt is distracting. And couldn't we have some new variety of vampire mythology introduced? Same old stuff in Iran, I guess. Despite an extra feature with Roger Corman sitting next to Amirpour and raving about her film (isn't he 157 years old? Better check his teeth), this is a big waste of time.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2014) from Jim Jarmusch, on the other hand, is an a FANTASTIC vampire film. Every shot is gorgeous from the framing to the lighting, sets and color schemes. It's not really a bloody-minded fangs-in-the-neck kind of thing (although there is one "fangs" sequence that is superb). It's much more thoughtful and focuses on the mind-blowing age of the vampires. We've seen vampirism equated with heroin addiction before, but here here it's done with a charming offhandedness. With John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe (uh-huh - that CM). Tilda Swinton creates one of the most interesting-looking vampires I've seen in a long time. Oddly enough, this film has a fetish for vintage musical gear. Guitarists in particular will be oooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the eye candy. It also features a typically scene-stealing Mia Wasikowska and a freaking fantastic soundtrack!

93KentonSem
May 14, 2015, 2:51pm Top

Speaking of Mia W., I'm happy to learn of Guillermo Del Toro's upcoming CRIMSON PEAK, the highly gothic-looking trailer for which can be found here. Can Del Toro still unsettle us with such familiar trappings?

94KentonSem
Edited: Jun 15, 2015, 12:08pm Top

SPRING (2014)

It has been a good season for horror films. Superior, scary entries include IT FOLLOWS, MAPS TO THE STARS, THE BABADOOK and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (see above for all of these). Add this one to the list. The dialog by co-director Justin Benson is intelligent and flows very naturally. I actually laughed out loud at several points as the realistically-portrayed boy-meets-monster relationship unfolds. The lead actors are really engaging, which produces at least one moment of pure, resounding horror. The relatively exotic Italian locations provide a breath of fresh air as far as horror goes (makes me want to watch DON'T LOOK NOW again) and some of the shots are really breathtaking. Best of all, the finale was a fine surprise to this jaded eye. In a way it's the mirror image of the brilliantly nihilistic end of Carpenter's THE THING but with... love?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftOMkr9eYS8

And did you know about the new H.R. Giger documentary? It's called DARK STAR: H.R. GIGER'S WORLD. Hope to see it in the near future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAs2FKH3DGc

95KentonSem
Edited: Jul 13, 2015, 11:40am Top

If you haven't heard of Jen and Sylvia Soska yet, you will! You can easily Netflix-stream the Twisted Twins' AMERICAN MARY. I was pleasantly surprised by their 2009 debut DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. It's very raw and has all of the expected rough edges of a low-budget horror film but it's confidently shot and edited, has a lot of swagger and copious amounts of black humor, plus charismatic performances by the twins themselves and one or two sequences that will put you into full-on "WTF?!" mode. Don't agonize too much over the title. Truth in advertising!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SAEN43OHZc

96KentonSem
Feb 25, 2016, 2:04pm Top

THE WITCH (2016) is shining example in a relatively recent lineup of horror films for grown-ups that includes the likes of THE SAUNA, A FIELD IN ENGLAND, SPRING and KILL LIST. After the initial setup, it takes its time in allowing you to get into the minds of an isolated, devout 17th century family as it oh-so-slowly breaks down. Thankfully, the film remains just ambiguous enough to allow the possibility of plain madness to be at the root of matters, but even so, one scene in particular will absolutely take your breath away and perhaps lay utter waste to your initial preconceptions. The four young actors are amazing, especially Anna Taylor-Joy as doe-eyed Thomasin and Harvey Scrimshaw as the seemingly solid Caleb. The latter also contributes a stunningly effective portrayal of religious ecstasy (or is it ecstasy of another sort?). In another expertly handled scene, just as the situation seems about to head off into the snooze-inducing territory of THE CRUCIBLE, Taylor-Joy displays the subtlest hint of what just might be diabolical cunning, making you wonder if maybe the situation is even more dire than a case of satanic panic. Or is she just a smart 16-year-old girl reacting normally to a really bad situation? You’ll find out. First-time feature director Robert Eggers contributes a keeper. To top it off, the score by Mark Korven is perfectly unnerving.

97artturnerjr
Feb 25, 2016, 3:38pm Top

>96 KentonSem:

Happened to catch a rave review of that one on NPR the other day. I'll have to keep an eye out for it when it comes out on DVD.

98KentonSem
Edited: Jun 1, 2016, 9:44am Top

So, I got hooked on Season 1 of the Guillermo Del Toro-created series THE STRAIN (2014). He directed the pilot episode, which is really pretty creepy. Subsequent eps aren't nearly as good, but the various subplots reminded me in a positive way of Robert R. McCammon's chunky novels. It fell apart towards the end (the curse of modern Hollywood), with characters doing idiotic things and spouting some really wooden dialog. Might check out Season 2 anyway. It's a fairly interesting take on vampires, none of which, thankfully, are even remotely attractive.

Ordered the AXE / KIDNAPPED COED blu-ray based on a recommendation from Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas. The extras alone on this special edition are supposed to constitute a mini-education in regional low-budget film making in the 70's.

http://tinyurl.com/zdldx3v

The History Channel series VIKINGS is incredibly good! I love a good shield maiden!

99housefulofpaper
Jun 5, 2016, 5:42pm Top

This may be of interest - a round-table discussion that I half-remembered from its original TV broadcast back in 1990.

Participants Clive Barker, John Carpenter, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Tuttle, Roger Corman, Pete Atkins are tasked with devising the ultimate horror movie for the upcoming millennium.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TosdCShzD4g

100tros
Jun 5, 2016, 7:14pm Top


>96 KentonSem:

Just watched 'The Witch', excellent acting and cinematography.
The slow realistic beginning sets up the ambiguous supernatural (?)
ending.

101KentonSem
Jun 5, 2016, 8:34pm Top

>100 tros:

Glad you enjoyed it. I recently picked up the blu-ray so I can watch it with English subtitles and possibly catch a few things I missed the first time around in the midst of all of that seemingly genuine, Puritan-era English. There's a director's commentary too.

102elenchus
Apr 24, 2017, 2:35pm Top

I like reading about horror on screen more than viewing it. It includes reading about reactions from people who have seen a film or series.

I found this review of a J-horror release, allegedly inspired by HPL but not Chthulhoid.

Have you seen it or heard of it, KentonSem? Anyone else?

103KentonSem
Apr 24, 2017, 3:04pm Top

>102 elenchus:

I thought UZUMAKI was great. It seemed very much influenced by Lovecraftian ideals, although it certainly wasn't trying to adapt (or hijack) any particular story or sequence found in Grandpa's fiction. I liked the idea of spirals becoming a transformational vector and some of the creepy visuals are really inspired, most notably a memorable shot of the outside of a building swarming with snail-people. I think this film is an early example of that greenish color filter that would be so favored by David Fincher and others for a while. It works well here to convey an oppressed, sickly atmosphere.

104elenchus
Apr 24, 2017, 3:26pm Top

Yeah, the overlay of spirals and snails struck me as an inspired reference point. I'm really wary of watching horror, it creeps me out in a non-pleasurable way, but this may be the kind of horror I could appreciate watching.

105Petroglyph
Apr 24, 2017, 3:28pm Top

>102 elenchus:
I think Uzumaki is Higuchinsky's best movie: it's wonderfully creepy and expertly unsettling. He's directed two others that also try to capture that atmosphere of unnatural and unexplained Weirdness invading the Normal, but they do not "cohere" as well as Uzumaki, or are less even.

It's definitely worth a viewing. The other two less so.

106artturnerjr
Apr 24, 2017, 5:00pm Top

>61 KentonSem:

Hey, I finally watched this! I was surfing around YouTube the other day and stumbled upon the link (https://youtu.be/d7h8CqYXEx0), thinking I would sit and watch the first five or ten minutes of it; instead, ended up sitting hypnotized through the entire ninety minutes of the film. "Antisocial" (as in antisocial personality disorder) is definitely correct - holy crap, what a mean old bastard! This is truly the Crumb of rock documentaries - you don't have to be an aficionado of the art form under discussion to fascinated (and horrified) by this one (although it certainly doesn't hurt).

107KentonSem
Apr 24, 2017, 10:46pm Top

>106 artturnerjr:

Glad you got to see it, Art. I thought it was fascinating because, as crazy mean and antisocial as he is, Baker's still an awe-inspiring talent. Staying with music docs, the other night I finally got around to Some Kind of Monster (2004) on Netflix streaming. I'm not a Metallica fan, but it's really interesting to see this wildly successful band reach a point where they just become unglued and require group psychotherapy to keep from imploding.

108artturnerjr
Apr 25, 2017, 6:40pm Top

>107 KentonSem:

I thought it was fascinating because, as crazy mean and antisocial as he is, Baker's still an awe-inspiring talent.

Oh yeah, definitely. As the film demonstrates, his fan club is like a Who's Who of great rock drummers: Stewart Copeland! Bill Ward! Neil Peart! Lars Ulrich (hey, Metallica again!)! Mickey Hart! And if that doesn't convince you of his greatness, those drum battles you see in the movie with jazz giants like Art Blakey and Elvin Jones certainly will. Strictly in terms of his contribution to music, the man owes nothing to anyone.

I think it's interesting how that form of mental illness (if I may play armchair psychiatrist for a moment) sort of empowers certain people to follow their own paths and, in the process of doing so, often blaze trails for others. I mean, if you really, honestly, truly do not give a flying fuck what others think of you (and Baker clearly really, honestly, truly does not), you can try things that others before you were too timid to even contemplate, and you can become the sort of pioneer that Baker clearly was.

Some Kind of Monster

That movie has actually received a fair amount of critical acclaim, iirc - somewhat unusually for a rock doc.

Like a lot of people who first heard Metallica in the 80s, I suppose, I prefer their records from that decade over their subsequent stuff, although I gotta say what I have heard from their recent Hardwired... to Self-Destruct did seem to me to be something of a return to classic form for them. Finally, can we here at the WT (yep, despite appearances, I actually haven't forgotten where I'm posting at!) really hate too much on a band that has spent as much time as they have evangelizing for the Gospel According to Grandpa?:

https://youtu.be/TfGMinbSVI8
https://youtu.be/5Ksz_fS9TUI

109KentonSem
Apr 26, 2017, 2:23pm Top

>108 artturnerjr:

I had forgotten the part with Baker holding his own with Art Blakey. Yikes!

Kirk Hammett gets bonus points for being a Monster Kid, His personal collection is detailed in the book Too Much Horror Business, which I'd love to page through some time.

110elenchus
May 17, 2017, 3:32pm Top

Jordan Peele behind HBO's adaptation of Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country.

111tros
Jun 11, 2017, 9:58pm Top


Conarium, video game based on HPL's At the Mountains of Madness, sort of, more of a continuation, haven't played it but the game play on youtube looks interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC2p5NirADY

112tros
Jun 11, 2017, 10:05pm Top


Picked up Video trash and treasures, assorted trash including "creature features" and "occult occassions" sections, might be worth checking out.

113tros
Jul 8, 2017, 1:07am Top


Just watched "Castlevania" animated, anime series that's streaming on netflix, first season is four episodes renewed for eight more next year. Haven't gotten "into" anime or animation for a long time but this was worth checking out. It really twists the old horror tropes, highly recommended.

114KentonSem
Jul 8, 2017, 11:10am Top

>113 tros:

Thanks for the rec - I'll check it out.

115KentonSem
Oct 5, 2017, 11:50am Top

KING COHEN, a new documentary on the amazing Larry Cohen, looks fantastic. I'm not big on talking heads-style docs, but that's a pretty impressive lot to have showering you with accolades!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPblr7nKaYw

116KentonSem
Oct 11, 2017, 1:23am Top

You can find a number of high quality episodes of Boris Karloff's Thriller on YouTube. Here's "The Weird Tailor". Story and teleplay by Robert Bloch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO4JK90dQss

117housefulofpaper
Feb 25, 2018, 7:00pm Top

Providence (1977) directed by Alain Resnais, screenplay by David Mercer. I taped this off a BBC2 late-night showing years ago but had never got around to watching it.

A terminally ill author (John Gielgud) imagines scenes for his latest novel during the course of a sleepless and pain-wracked night. The characters are - it transpires - versions of his own family: adult children, his late wife, etc. The final fifth of the film is a "real life" meeting of the family the next day. So what's Lovecraftian about it?

- The film opens with an old man discovered in woods by a group of soldiers, who is apparently transforming into a werewolf.
- The character played by David Warner seems to have some of the character traits and shortcomings that I gather were attributed to Lovecraft by L. Sprague de Camp's biography (that might well be coincidence, I admit).
- The first 10 or 15 minutes could be from a loose HPL adaptation or a "Shuttered Room" style pastiche (visually, I mean. The dialogue, although theatrically non-naturalistic doesn't sound like Lovecraft. The situation Warner's character is in, though, is not dissimilar to where we might leave one of HPL's narrators: on trial for murder - the mercy killing of the werewolf, in this case.
- The film's moments of visual lyricism conjure up those scenes where Randolph Carter remembers the Providence of his lost childhood (or indeed, where Lovecraft does the same in his letters).

Generally, the film seems to borrow from Lovecraft in some impalpable way to dramatise the Gielgud character's fear of personal annihilation. And indeed, the film's Wikipedia entry says that Resnais made the designer read Lovecraft before creating the interiors for Gielgud's character's house "in order to imbue it with the presence of death".

118housefulofpaper
Mar 12, 2018, 6:30pm Top

>117 housefulofpaper:

My reading of the HPL/CAS correspondence in Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill: the letters of H P Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith just confirms my impression that the films borrowings from Lovecraft are essentially superficial and non-Lovecraftian. The great horror of the film is personal annihilation, there is nothing of the cosmic here (David Warner's character(s) interest in the Apollo astronauts (or in the "real life" segment, his career as an astrophysicist, only gesture towards it).

119paradoxosalpha
Mar 12, 2018, 9:18pm Top

Speaking of "annihilation," I recently read VanderMeer's Annihilation, and despite many reviewers alleging that it is somehow Lovecraftian, I didn't much find it so. I did like it, though, and certainly see it as Weird. I've got a ticket to see the Alex Garland movie tomorrow, so I'll report back on that too. Word has it that it is good, but differs significantly from the book. (I think it would have to.)

120paradoxosalpha
Edited: Mar 13, 2018, 5:25pm Top

So, I saw Annihilation. I thought the visual design/effects, the soundtrack, and the actors' performances were all very good. Jennifer Jason Leigh was particularly well cast. But the climactic plot tweak sucked a lot of the weird out of it, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure I would have liked it better if I hadn't read the book, which created a much more vivid ambiguity about whether the real subject of investigation was Area X or the members of the expedition themselves. Also, while the dreams, flashbacks, and documentary video objects in the movie kept some of the mood created by the non-linear narrative of the novel, the relatively linear narrative sequencing (and the loss of the hypnotic control theme) eliminated the profoundly weird epistemological possibility that the protagonist's memories of her "normal" life were merely epiphenomena of the expedition.

121elenchus
Mar 13, 2018, 5:55pm Top

I'd already decided that I should read the book before viewing the movie, and you're reaction doesn't do anything to dissuade me on that point. I wasn't likely to see it anyway, based on my frequency of visiting a cinema & the sort of film my fellow cineaste's are interested in seeing.

I wonder how much better seeing Tarkovsky's The Stalker would be for someone wanting to transpose Annihilation from print to screen?

122paradoxosalpha
Mar 14, 2018, 11:31am Top

Still, I was impressed with the film on a variety of counts, and now I want to see the director's previous landmark work Ex Machina.

123KentonSem
Mar 14, 2018, 12:08pm Top

>122 paradoxosalpha:

I enjoyed Ex Machina. Good, thoughtful SF in an era when Dystopian Rehash has become a go-to Hollywood genre.

Ran across this in a John Langan FB post:

https://letterboxd.com/claxtondog/list/aickmanesque/

It's a pretty decent list of "Aickmanesque" films. I've seen 15 of them, several of which are all-time favorites. Have to get to some of the others!

124elenchus
Mar 14, 2018, 1:40pm Top

Rocking Horse Winner is completely new to me and looks great.

I've seen several but not as many as 15, those I saw were quite good: Picnic at Hanging Rock is definitely an all-time fav for me.

125KentonSem
Mar 14, 2018, 2:49pm Top

>124 elenchus:

Rocking Horse Winner...

I want to see that one, too. Coincidentally, I'm expecting the new Centipede Press edition of Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner to arrive in the mail any day now. Also looking forward to the 2-vol Aickman set due from CP sometime this year.

I thought it a bit curious that Bunuel didn't make the "Aickmanesque" list. Especially for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie or The Exterminating Angel.

126tros
Mar 15, 2018, 12:40am Top


ever watch blakes 7? in spite of it's low budget, still one of the best.

https://www.youtube.com/user/Blakes7Mohttp://www.librarything.com/topic/158592#v...

127housefulofpaper
Mar 15, 2018, 3:16pm Top

>123 KentonSem:

I've seen 16 of the films on that list, with a couple more I've got on DVD but have still to watch.

It doesn't feature anything directly based on Aickman's stories though. The TV version of The Hospice has been uploaded to YouTube. The version of The Cicerones written and directed by Jeremy Dyson (the non-performing member of The League of Gentlemen) is there too.

128KentonSem
Mar 15, 2018, 10:31pm Top

>127 housefulofpaper:

Thanks the heads-up on the YouTube Aickmans! I'll watch them soon.

129KentonSem
Edited: Jun 28, 2018, 9:59am Top

NOVEMBER is an absolutely enthralling film from Estonia/Poland/Nethlerlands. Do what you need to do to find it. It's at once uncanny, macabre, allegorical and funny. It also works as a tragic love story of the darkest sort (our hero is such an amusing idiot until it's too late). Some shots are reminiscent - and worthy - of Bergman. Witches, lycanthopy, the best personification of Death since Maria Casares (too briefly seen, but what a moment!), a fantastic musical score by Jacaszek, and an opening sequence that reminds me that real cinema can produce a kind of dreamlike awe that ladles of CGI can never come close to. Based on a novel by Andrus Kivirähk. Anyone here ever read it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2YZ1X1OhD4



ETA

Just noticed that you can stream it on Amazon Prime.

130elenchus
Edited: Jul 26, 2018, 11:05am Top

I still have to read the Ruff novel, but Jordan Peele's HBO series Lovecraft Country recently filmed here in Chicago. dukedom_enough 's review of the novel helped pique my interest.

131paradoxosalpha
Jul 26, 2018, 12:25pm Top

I recently got wind of the fact that a television version of Joe Hill's terrific Locke & Key is in production with 8 episodes slated to drop in 2019 on Netflix. The imdb.com "tagline" is underwhelmingly inaccurate: "Adaptation from graphic novel about kids killing people."

132elenchus
Jul 26, 2018, 1:54pm Top

"Adaptation from graphic novel in which kids are born and ultimately die."

I've not read Locke & Key but it does look great.

133KentonSem
Edited: Jul 26, 2018, 1:58pm Top

GREAT news:

Both with Tim Lucas commentaries and some other nice extras. October 2 release date.

http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=23685

http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=23688





>131 paradoxosalpha:

And I recently canceled Netflix. Ah, well.

134elenchus
Aug 1, 2018, 11:58am Top

Not a show, but game trailers are equivalent in my mind so thought I'd post here: a Lovecraftian close shave.

135elenchus
Edited: Sep 25, 2018, 2:43pm Top

Following on a few mentions of Supernatural Westerns in our brainstorming thread, this trailer for the upcoming film The Wind. (Another film I shan't be seeing, as it likely would only frighten me silly.)

136housefulofpaper
Sep 25, 2018, 7:57pm Top

>135 elenchus:

It seems to share some DNA with the 1927 silent film of the same name (starred Lilian Gish, directed by Victor Sjöstrom). Jonathan Rigby includes the earlier film in his American Gothic: six decades of classic horror cinema.

137frahealee
Edited: Sep 26, 2018, 7:00pm Top

>8 KentonSem:
>17 housefulofpaper:

I always say, it's not the what, it's the when ...

Fascinating to find this today. Watching Twixt, since it was described as a dark fairy tale after looking into Tanith Lee's book Red as Blood, after looking for The Hill and overlapping adapted fairy tales in the Fairy Tales Retold group, here is both Twixt and M.R. James nuggets. Great to know these exist, even if the post was five years ago. I have loved Kilmer, not since Top Gun, but since Tombstone. If they put Sam Elliot in a Weird western ... I'm there!

NB-when the close up of the newspaper article in the scrapbook about the old hotel shows September 26, 1955 my breathing might have momentarily ceased...

138paradoxosalpha
Sep 26, 2018, 11:01pm Top

>137 frahealee:

Heh, I watched Kilmer last night in Real Genius!

139anjenue
Sep 27, 2018, 4:02pm Top

here's a short animation very loosely based on Arthur Machen's "The White People"

https://vimeo.com/16673163

140elenchus
Sep 27, 2018, 4:29pm Top

>139 anjenue:

Quite good.

I've neither read VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy nor seen the film, but I was reminded of those based upon descriptions. (Perhaps I should clarify I've not yet read The White People, either.)

141paradoxosalpha
Sep 27, 2018, 4:43pm Top

>140 elenchus: I've not yet read The White People

Ah, you skipped out on our 2011 read of that one?

142anjenue
Sep 27, 2018, 8:28pm Top

The White People is one of my all-time faves, but it's quite polarizing!

143KentonSem
Sep 27, 2018, 11:23pm Top

>139 anjenue:

That's really well-made. Thanks for sharing!

144paradoxosalpha
Sep 27, 2018, 11:50pm Top

>139 anjenue:

I liked that! It's certainly worth sharing around for the Hallowe'en season.

145elenchus
Sep 28, 2018, 9:14am Top

>141 paradoxosalpha:

I don't recall if I hadn't joined DEEP ONES with any regularity at that point, or if I just sat that one out for some reason. I've read enough about Machen later to know I want to read it eventually, and other of his work too.

146KentonSem
Jan 23, 2:57pm Top

https://variety.com/2019/film/news/nicolas-cage-color-out-of-space-1203115589/

Normally, I would be less than enthused. BUT...

a) I like Nic Cage. He seems to take big-budget trash roles that pay astronomical sums which allow him to coast a bit and take parts in smaller films that allow him to FREAK OUT!

b) Director Richard Stanley might just be crazy - and inspired - enough to pull this off. He has a very interesting history. Try to find this documentary to learn more!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4xun1vi4C0

Weird fact: the original cinematic adaptation starred another Nick!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psOfe41Gq-I

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