Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween from Homefront Film School! Thought I'd celebrate with a top ten list a handful of YouTube clips, and a few more goodies.

The Top 10 Most Underrated Horror Films of All Time

10. Ginger Snaps (2000, John Fawcett)
This little Canadian production seemed to come and go without a huge amount of fanfare in 2000, which is a shame. It was easily the best werewolf movie since An American Werewolf in London, and arguably the best horror film to use the supernatural as a metaphor for puberty since Carrie.

9. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)
A brilliant, blood-soaked mixture of the western, the cannibal movie, and the black comedy. Guy Pearce and Jeffrey Jones lead a group of soldiers holding down a small fort in the snowy Sierra Nevadas during the Mexican-American war, and the amazing Robert Carlyle stars as Col. Colhoun, the batshit insane, cannibalistic wagon leader who ate the rest of his party. The film also boasts a terrific, evil/spazzy bluegrass score by Mychael Danna.

8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 Rouben Mamoulian)
1931 was the year of both of Universal's gargantuan horror blockbusters Frankenstein and Dracula, and this little film got sadly overshadowed by them both. It's a shame, as it's a much better film in many respects, and probably the best adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. Frederic March, who portrayed both Jekyll and Hyde, walked off with an Oscar for his performance.

7. Exorcist III (1990, William Peter Blatty)
After Exorcist II: The Heretic left such a bad taste in viewers' mouthes, nobody seemed that interested in a third entry in the series made almost fifteen years later. Originally planned by The Exorcist author Blatty as an adaptation of his book Legion, it was recut by Warner Brothers, who shot additional exorcism footage and inserted it into the film. As a result, it's a bit messy, but still a great psychological horror film which some even consider superior to the original, with an amazing performance by George C. Scott.

6. Dementia 13 (1963, Francis Ford Coppolla)
Before The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, Coppolla helmed what is probably my all-time favorite Roger Corman production; a low-budget masterpiece set in Ireland. A gold-digging widow goes to see her in-laws, a groteque, disfunctional bunch, plagued by the death of the youngest daughter years before, as well as a series of murders which are taking place around their home. It's like a sleazy version of Rebecca, with more shocks - great fun to watch with the lights off.

5. Braindead a.k.a. Dead Alive (1993, Peter Jackson)
The more times I see this zombie comedy, the more I wonder how on earth the chubby, hairy madman that directed it was ever offered the invitation to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's novels to the big screen. This elegant piece of "splatstick" holds the record for most fake blood ever used in a single film. Featuring zombie intercourse, a kung fu priest, and a climax featuring a zombie massacre with a lawnmower, this is the ideal movie for gorehounds to watch with their buddies while guzzling beer and pizza.

4. Eyes Without a Face (1960, Georges Franju)
Typically we don't think of horror very often when discussing the best of French cinema, but one of the finest un-sung classics of the genre comes from the land that gave us Godard and Truffaut. Pierre Brasseau plays a doctor who keeps his disfigured daughter locked up in his house, wearing a ceramic mask, while he abducts and murders young women, attempting to graft their skin back onto her face. A haunting, beautiful piece of art, with surgery scenes that are still disturbing by today's standard's, this film can best be described as "what if Ingmar Bergman directed a film along the lines of The Brain That Wouldn't Die?" The terrific Criterion DVD also features Franju's short slaughterhouse documentary The Blood of the Beasts.

3. Repulsion (1965, Roman Polanski)
Roman Polanski's first English language film is probably the scariest film I've ever seen in my life. Catherine Deneuve is Carole, a virgin repulsed by men, holes up in her sister's apartment where she is tormented by visions of rape, walls cracking, hands reaching out of the cieling, and other mean, nasty things. Much like Rosemary's Baby, the viewer feels like he/she is going insane right along with the main character. Something I'd reccomend only to those with nerves of steel.

2. Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindo)
A samurai horror film that ranks alongside some of the best of Kurosawa's work (not to mention one of the most erotic films I've ever seen,) this is the the story of an old woman and her daughter-in-law in feudal Japan who make their living by murdering lost samurai and selling their belongings. Their world is shaken up when the son's horny companion returns home, and shaken even more when the old woman discovers a mysterious, demonic mask. Anyone who loves classic Asian films is bound to love this.

1. The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
Forget the Nicholas Cage remake, this British classic is one of the most unconventional and thought-provoking horror films ever made, while simultaneously scary and lots of fun. Edward Woodward's devout Christian Seargent Howie gets serious culture shock when he goes to investigate a missing 13-year-old girl on an island of kooky, free-spirited, sex-loving pagans. This is a movie that has literally everything - scares, laughs, songs, beautiful scenery, thought-provoking religious commentary, and Christopher Lee in a dress.

Anyway, here's some videos from YouTube, the world's greatest copyright infrigement instrument, for you to sink your fangs into.

Minnie the Moocher - Betty Boop runs away from home, where she encounters ghosts, skeletons, and a dancing walrus with the voice of Cab Calloway!

Dementia 13 Trailer - dig the psychiatrist's warning at the beginning that this film ought not to be viewed by the homicidally unstable.

Fangoria Infomercial - from 1989, featuring Angus Scrimm, better known to the world as The Tall Man. Boyyyyyyy!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hot Fuzz!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fuckin' rats.

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Been a while since I've written anything here, and a lot's been going on. First and foremost, if you have not yet been to the theater to see The Departed, I suggest you do so, right now. We're talking about Scorsese's best, balls-to-the-wallest movie in almost a decade, boasting terrifc perfomances from every one of its cast members, an ass-stompingly excellent script, and all the effortlessly brilliant direction and editing you'd expect from America's greatest living filmmaker. It's also certified proof that Mr. Jack Nicholson is the single coolest human being on the planet, but you knew that already.

Last week also saw the sad passing of blaxploitation queen Tamara Dobson. A 6'2 fashion model who became a cult film icon for the titular role in Cleopatra Jones (co-starring Antonio Fargas and Shelley Winters), she also starred in the sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, and the Linda Blair women-in-prison feature Chained Heat. The Guiness Book of World Records also lists her as the tallest leading woman ever to appear in a film. It's hard to think of a contemporary actress who could put her platform-heeled boot through a crooked honky cop's face, or refer to one of her fellow inmates as a "chalk-faced whore" with such grace and subtlety as Ms. Dobson. She will be fondly remembered.

The SpikeTV-premiered trailer for Grind House, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's love letter to dime-a-dozen 70's gorefests, is now on YouTube. All the clips appear to be from Rodriguez's zombie flick Planet Terror, and if the energy and sheer kickass-ness of the film is even close to that of the trailer, it'll likely be my favorite RR flick ever. I eagerly look forward to getting a first glimpse of Tarantino's slasher automobile opus Death Proof, starring Mr. Jack Burton himself, Kurt Russell!

Also, a nice bit of nostalgia for the Star Wars fans that read this blog - I was cruising SingingFish the this afternoon when I stumbled upon a page containing the complete NPR Radio Adaptations of the three original films on the website of a Midwestern stormtrooper costuming club. It's things like this that iTunes was made for.