Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Bad Milo!

Bad Milo! tells of Duncan, a mild-mannered office worker who, due to the huge amount of stress he faces at work and in his personal life, begins suffering from intense gastrointestinal pains. Much to his horror he discovers that his unusual stomach problems are actually caused by a tiny demon dwelling in his intestines. To make matters worse, said demon emerges to unleash bloody retribution upon those who have angered Duncan...

With its pint-sized menace, light comedic tone, buckets of splatter and irreverent humour, Bad Milo! echoes the work of Frank Henenlotter, as well as other miniature-monster titles such as It’s Alive, Critters, Sewage Baby, Ghoulies, and of course, Gremlins. What is most surprising is that it unfolds as a strangely touching and highly quirky comedy about relationships and the pressures of modern society.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review and win a copy of Bad Milo! on DVD. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child

To celebrate the recent release of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films on beautiful Blu-ray, in a box-set crammed with all kinds of exclusive special features, I’ve been revisiting all seven films…

The Dream Child marks a definite decline in the quality of the series, which is really saying something. An interesting and creepy central concept – the dream killer attempting to reach nemesis Alice through the dreams of her unborn child – is smothered beneath Freddy’s mouthy antics and the increasingly ridiculous death sequences. The uneven tone distracts from director Stephen Hopkins’ attempts to return the series to its dark roots, complete with an impressive Gothic atmosphere. The high/low-light comes when a comic book geek is sucked into one of his drawings (just like in the A-ha music video for Take On Me), turned to paper and shredded by Krueger.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of the film and its special features.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dario Argento and Iggy Pop seek funding for The Sandman

Italian horror maestro Dario Argento and punk-rock icon Iggy Pop are using the crowd-funding site Indiegogo in an attempt to fund new horror film, The Sandman. Based on the terrifying 1816 short story Der Sandmann by German romantic writer ETA Hoffmann, and adapted by writer David Tully especially for Argento, The Sandman looks set to revisit some familiar Argento troupes. The story tells of Nathan, a college student who suffered a terrifying childhood experience when he witnessed the death of his mother at the hands of a masked serial killer nicknamed The Sandman (Iggy Pop), due to his tendency to remove his victims’ eyes as trophies. Years later, when Nathan witnesses the gruesome death of a beautiful young woman in the apartment opposite his, he believes The Sandman has returned from the grave to instigate another brutal killing spree...

Iggy Pop has stated: "Dario and I want to make the film that we want to make, our way, and that means going direct to the people who have responded to our work for all these years. With your help, Mr Argento can make this movie his way, the way that you and I appreciate and respect; and what the world needs so much right now: a good, artistic, Gothic, terrifying scare." Freudian serial killers, voyeurism and eye violation feature heavily throughout Argento’s films, and serve as a neat encapsulation not only of his film work, but the shocking experience of watching it. Argento has confirmed the script is "a kind of tribute to my movies and my whole career."

According to Germanic folklore, The Sandman brings dreams to children by sprinkling magical sand into their eyes while they sleep. This depiction of the character was subverted to terrifying effect by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann in his short story Der Sandmann, a richly textured and harrowing tale which abounds with psychoanalytical readings and the Jungian notion that sleep equals a denial of life; therefore the state of unconsciousness is an invitation to death. According to the protagonist's nurse, The Sandman steals the eyes of children who won’t go to sleep, and feeds them to his monstrous offspring in an iron nest upon the moon. The young protagonist soon begins to associate this creature of nightmares with a highly sinister nightly visitor of his father’s, the possibly murderous Coppelius…

Children screaming bloody murder (Deep Red, 1975)

Eye violation (Opera, 1987)

The Wicked Witch is dead (the fairytale-like Suspiria, 1977) 

David Tully wrote the script to pay homage to Argento’s classic gialli of yesterday. Penned while he was in Dubai writing Djinn for Tobe Hooper, Tully "sat down, at 130 Fahrenheit outside, to dream of a snowy village during a cold snap" (the original title of the script) in which a serial killer wreaks bloody havoc and steals the eyes of his victims. Amalgamating his love of ETA Hoffmann’s short story, which has given him nightmares since childhood, and Dario Argento’s fiendishly violent giallo films of the Seventies, Tully has fashioned a script that could really help Argento return to his roots, and former glory, as a director of stylish and provocative horror cinema.

Hoping as they are to secure $250,000 (£155,000) for the project, you may well be thinking why on earth Iggy Pop and Dario Argento, who are probably not short of a few quid, are utilising crowd-funding. This is perhaps indicative of the sad state of Italian cinema and how funding for the arts there continues to suffer tremendously. While Argento is perhaps the only horror director still working in Italy today who is able to somehow gain funding and distribution for his work, he still really struggles to do so. Late last year, a group of renowned Italian horror directors struggling to get cinematic projects off the ground, including Sergio Martino, Lamberto Bava, Luigi Cozzi, Ruggero Deodato and Aldo Lado – directors whose work, like Argento's, has inspired countless contemporary genre filmmakers - grouped together to seek crowd-funding for a new project; horror anthology The Book. Another important thing that has no doubt encouraged Argento and Pop to seek crowd-funding is that it should, as Iggy Pop mentioned, guarantee they’ll be able to make the film they want to make, without any sort of interference. This sort of artistic freedom is vital, when too many filmmakers are nowadays forced to crumble beneath the pressure of studio execs who insist their work must be commercially viable. Argento hopes to shoot on location in Ontario, Canada, in 2015 – which would make this one of only a few of his films shot outside his native Italy.


As with all crowd-funding projects, a range of incentives have been offered to encourage people to donate. These perks range from a month’s membership of the cult film streaming site Fandor (for donating $5), to the opportunity of being directed by Argento himself in a key scene opposite Iggy Pop ($25,000). Just imagine; the chance to be killed by Dario Argento - something that probably doesn’t happen every day...

For further information, and to keep up to date with how the project is advancing, head over to Indiegogo.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master

The A Nightmare on Elm Street series has just been released on beautiful Blu-ray, in a box-set crammed with all kinds of exclusive special features. In the run up to Halloween I’ll be revisiting all seven films and taking a look at the extra features.

Directed by Renny (Cliffhanger) Harlin, this Elm Street instalment was firmly marketed at the MTV generation, with its rock-laden soundtrack, effects-heavy set pieces, comic-book tone and portrayal of Krueger as a wise-cracking anti-hero. Prior to Freddy vs Jason and the 2010 remake of the original film, this was the most commercially successful film in the series and its further dilution of central antagonist Freddy Krueger really helped move the Elm Street films into the mainstream; with Krueger attaining pop-icon status en route.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of the film and its special features.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors

The A Nightmare on Elm Street series has just been released on beautiful Blu-ray, in a box-set crammed with all manner of exclusive special features. In the run up to Halloween I’ll be revisiting all seven films and taking a look at the extra features.

Next up is A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors; not only one of the stronger entries in the series, but also a thrilling fantasy-horror in its own right. While the tone is much lighter than the previous instalments, thanks to the involvement of Wes Craven, it is not without its darker moments; that the main characters are the troubled teen-aged residents of a psychiatric hospital, and the predominant themes are mental illness, familial dysfunction and teenage suicide, is highly telling of Craven’s involvement. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as a comic book/super-hero feel prevails, and Krueger is firmly established as the wise-cracking anti-hero that would make him a pop-icon of the Eighties.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of the film and its special features.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge

The A Nightmare on Elm Street series has just been released on Blu-ray, in a box-set containing the first seven films and a plethora of exclusive special features. While I’ve delved into the Elm Street series before, it’s always good to revisit old favourites; especially when they’ve been released in shiny HD and in a box-set crammed with all sorts of geeky goodies. Over the next few weeks I’ll be revisiting all seven films and taking a look at the extra features accompanying them.

The tagline for Freddy’s Revenge boasts that “The man of your dreams is back!” While this is certainly true, he’s back in a sequel sadly lacking in the surreal intensity and creepy ingenuity of its predecessor. Director Jack Sholder takes the story in a new, body-horror orientated direction, with child killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) attempting to possess a teenaged boy (Mark Patton) and emerge into the waking world, which results in a strangely homoerotic subtext. As the story progresses it takes the form of a violent ‘coming out’ parable. Freddy - who had yet to become the clownish figure he was in later sequels – is arguably constructed as the repressed desires of a young gay man; desires that have become destructive as he struggles to suppress them…

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of the film and its special features.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Poltergeist

Directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist (1982) is a slick, big budgeted, special effects laden extravaganza. It is also a well-written film – now considered a classic - with a sly commentary on the corrupting influence of television, the tribulations of suburban life, colonialism, the ill-treatment of Native Americans, the break-down of the nuclear family unit, and the damaging excesses of capitalism and consumerism.

The influence of Spielberg is overwhelmingly evident in the film’s representation of the all American family, and their pursuit of the American dream. With Hooper in the director’s chair however, these moments appear almost satirical, and cracks soon begin to appear. To the central family’s horror, they realise their white, middle-class American dream is built upon the graves of indigenous people, and their suburban ideal crumbles when vengeful spirits abduct their young daughter, Carol-Anne...

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of Poltergeist and the special features available on the Blu-ray it has just been released on.

If you’re interested in reading more about the representation (and subversion) of the family unit in the films of Tobe Hooper (including, of course, Poltergeist), head here and pick up a copy of Diabolique Magazine, issue 20, to read my essay Family Man.

The Shining: A Poster Gallery

With its astounding plethora of now iconic images, shots, recurring motifs and enduring production design details, it’s easy to see how The Shining inspires artists as much as it does. Here are but a few examples of promotional artwork for Kubrick’s chilling masterpiece of modern horror…