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Showing posts from December, 2009

Paracinema Issue 8

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Issue 8 of Paracinema is now available. Hard to believe that the magazine is actually now on it's eighth issue (scary how time flies)! Not so hard to believe is that it's still as great a publication as it's ever been and just as lovingly put together, designed and compiled by a dedicated and passionate hard-core of individuals.

Amongst the staggering array of mouth-watering pieces included in the pages of issue 8 are the following features: War May Be Hell, But a Sequel Is Purgatory: Thematic Combat With Battle Royale II: Requiem by Emily Intravia, Love, Loss, and Astounding Growth in The Incredible Shrinking Man and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman by Jessie Robie and The Serial Killer’s Mind: Comparing and Contrasting the Male Psyches in Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer by Brantley Palmer.

If that isn't enough to whet your appetite, click here to check out more...

Support our independent film magazines and help publications like Paracinema to continue producing qu…

Argento Book Update

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A brief email from my publishers, Kamera Books, informed me that my Argento book is to be published on 25th March 2010. Once again I have been assured that all is well and the book will definitely be published.

Apparently a certain amount of 'dues' (that's pre-orders to you and I) need to be obtained from commercial outlets; something that has proved more difficult than usual given the current recession and the recent closure of book store chains such as Borders. Keep checking back here at Behind the Couch for updates – which I shall post as and when I receive them.

I recently set up a page on Faceache for the book, so if you have an account on there and fancy dropping by to say howdy, please feel free to do so - just click here and show some love or go to Facebook and type 'Daro Argento (Kamera Books)' into the search bar......

Sanguis Gratia Artis!

RIP Brittany Murphy 1977 - 2009

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Actress Brittany Murphy, star of films such as Clueless, Girl, Interrupted and 8 Mile, has died after collapsing at her home in Los Angeles.
According to the coroners report, Murphy, who was pronounced dead in hospital, appeared to have died from a cardiac arrest. She was 32.

I’m not one to follow ‘celeb’ news or trends, but I was saddened to hear of the death of Murphy, who for me was an interesting character actress yet to tap into her full potential. Murphy will be remembered for her portrayals of oddball, cookie-cutter cuties in films such as Clueless, Freeway, Girl, Interrupted, Don’t Say a Word and Spun before she went on to star in the likes of 8 Mile, Sin City and various rom-coms. Her last screen appearance will be the Sylvester Stallone ensemble action flick The Expendables.

Whilst no stranger to dark and disturbing films, Murphy made a number of quirky forays into outright genre territory in her too-short career with roles in the darkly comic slasher Cherry Falls and the …

RIP Dan O'Bannon 1946 - 2009

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Dan O'Bannon, the screenwriter of classic genre films such as Alien and Total Recall and cult favourites Dead and Buried, Dark Star and Return of the Living Dead, has died at the age of 63 in Los Angeles following a short illness.

O'Bannon attended USC film school in the early '70s where he met director John Carpenter and the pair collaborated on Carpenter's debut feature Dark Star. O'Bannon co-wrote, edited, supervised the special effects and portrayed Sgt Pinback in this existential sci-fi comedy.

O'Bannon soon quit his job on the visual effects team on Star Wars to begin screenwriting full time. His first project after Dark Star was a script titled Star Beast - co-written by Ronald Shusett - which would later be filmed as Alien by Ridley Scott. The writer would also go on to work with Tobe Hooper on Lifeforce and Invaders From Mars.

O'Bannon is survived by his wife Diane Louise Lindley and their son Adam. He made significant contributions to the genre and…

Short Film Showcase: The Sandman

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1992
Dir. Paul Berry

A young boy who stays up past his bedtime receives a nasty visit from the sinister Sandman…

The usual notion of the Sandman as a benevolent character from European folklore who sprinkled 'sleeping' dust into children’s' eyes to send them to sleep, is darkly subverted in this beautifully realised and highly stylised animated short. The filmmakers have instead opted to base their titular character on a menacing creature that brings horror and suffering to children inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann's novella The Sandman. Hoffmann’s richly textured and harrowing tale abounds with psychoanalytical readings such as the Jungian notion that sleep equals a denial of life, therefore the state of unconsciousness is an invitation to death.

Berry clearly draws influence from early Expressionist classics like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, M and Nosferatu to create a dark and anxiety-ridden atmosphere, awash with nightmarish colours and a distinctly gothic feel. The look …

Random Creepy Christmas Scene # 442: Deep Red

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When English jazz musician Marc Daly witnesses the murder of a renowned psychic, he teams up with fiesty reporter Gianni to find the killer. They soon must evade attempts on their own lives by the mysterious killer who is seemingly intent on keeping a dark secret buried - the catalyst of which was a bloody murder carried out at Christmas many years ago...

Tenuous I know, but you just can't beat a bit of vintage Argento at Christmas time. Well, you can't really beat a bit of vintage Argento at any time of the year to be quite frank... So sue me.

Seasonal Shockers

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Traditionally, Christmas is a happy time associated with joy and happiness. It is also a time of year that, despite all the cheer and joviality, also has something of a dark side to it and holds a distinct chill. There is many a ghost story connected to Christmas such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and several ghoulish tales by MR James were actually written specially to be read at Christmas. Even the idea of Santa Claus has a few creepy connotations – the thought of someone snaking and shimmying their way down your chimney and into your home is actually quite sinister when you think about it. This notion certainly hasn’t been wasted on a few filmmakers who set out to sabotage the ‘seasonal cheer’ of Christmas with violence, blood on snow and all kinds of savage ‘slays.’ Below are a few of the best Christmas themed shockers to check out if you fancy giving yourself a fright this Christmas. You know, just to balance out all that bloody cheeriness.

Twas the night before Chris…

I Sell the Dead

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2008
Dir. Glenn McQuaid

The night before he is due to face the guillotine, young grave robber Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) confides in Father Duffy (Ron Perlman), recounting his years of misadventures in the ‘resurrection’ trade. Beginning as a young boy stealing trinkets from corpses, Blake eventually became involved with seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) and the dastardly duo set about making a living by selling the dead. And as it turns out, sometimes the not-so-dead…

Dublin born Glenn McQuaid’s directorial feature debut, a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric period horror-comedy, follows on from and expands upon his short film The Resurrection Apprentice, which charted a young boy’s entry into the murky but oh so lucrative world of grave robbing. The same boy, Arthur Blake, is now grown up and has been imprisoned for his dubious career choice. The film opens with Blake’s former partner in crime Willie Grimes being executed with the guillotine as Blake waits for …

Cover your ears. It's Deep Red. The Musical...

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What's up with poor Daria Nicolodi? Why is she so distraught? Could it be she's just seen the trailer for a musical adaptation of Dario Argento's seminal giallo masterpiece Profondo Rosso/Deep Red...?! Yes, that's right, musical adaptation. All singing, all dancing. All shitting. Apparently the Maestro himself was involved as an artistic supervisor... Watch at your own risk.

THIS TRAILER CONTAINS SCENES OF MILD PERIL, SUSTAINED THREAT AND SHIT SINGING. IN ITALIAN.

You've been warned.

Happy Bloody Birthday Behind the Couch

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Behind the Couch is One Year Old today!
It is hard to believe that it was a whole year ago today I decided to venture into the Canis lupus familiaris eat Canis lupus familiaris world of blogging. And now, one whole year later and Behind the Couch has grown into a fairly beautiful bouncing baby blog. And what a year it’s been, too. The only thing that beats the amount of wine I’ve drunk whilst blogging my very important opinions about horror/cult films, is the number of films I’ve actually watched. There have been some great films over the course of the last year. There have also been some really great films. And of course some not so great films. Obviously there have also been some downright shit films and the films that have been so bad they’ve been really rather amazing. And my own personal favourites – the films with Vincent Price in them.

Thanks to all who have dropped by over the last year – it has been lovely to make your acquaintance – please continue to share your thoughts and…

Random Creepy Scene # 673: The Blair Witch Project

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1999
Dirs. Ed Sanchez and Daniel Myrick

In a film peppered with spine-tinglingly creepy moments, it still wasn’t difficult to select the very creepiest. Just the thought of it sends shivers down my spine as I type this.

Josh, Heather and Mike travel to Burkittsville (formerly Blair), Maryland, to interview locals about the legend of the Blair Witch for a documentary Heather is making. The locals tell them of a hermit named Rustin Parr who lived in the woods surrounding the town. He kidnapped local children and brought them to his house. It is said Parr brought the children into his basement in twos - he could apparently feel their eyes staring into his soul, so he would kill one child while making the other face a corner. He would then kill the child – rooted to the spot in fear - in the corner. Parr eventually turned himself in to the police, claiming that the spirit of the Blair witch convinced him to kill the children.

After a couple of harrowing days and nights lost in the forest…

What’s On Your DVD Shelf?

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This month we take a peek at the DVD collection of The Thick of It’s scary, filthy-mouthed political spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.

The Thick of It is an exceptionally dark and rather brilliant political comedy set in the corridors of British government. Throughout the series we are given a satirical behind the scenes glimpse highlighting the struggles of the media and spin doctors against civil servants in government. The Director of Communications at Number 10 Downing Street is the aggressive, coarse and feared Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). He serves two main roles: acting as the Prime Minister's enforcer to ensure the cabinet ministers all follow the party line, and managing the government's crisis management PR- usually in the form of spin. He regularly uses smears or threats of violence to achieve his ends. You don’t want to mess with him.

Whilst usually seen shouting, nay, SCREAMING profanities and threats into the faces of his inept colleagues, Tucker is really the only …

De Lift

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1983
Dir. Dick Maas

Lift technician Felix (Huub Stapel) is called in to repair an elevator that has been at the centre of several bizarre deaths. As the deaths continue to mount, Felix begins an obsessive investigation that causes ructions with his family and colleagues. Joining forces with sassy, straight-talking reporter (is there any other kind?), the marvellously named Mieke de Beer (Willeke van Ammelrooy), he uncovers the involvement of shady Multi-national Corporation Rising Sun, who have installed an experimental computer chip in the elevator. An evil computer chip! An evil computer chip that can reproduce!

Take the stairs, take the stairs. For God's sake, take the Stairs!!!

I assumed that De Lift was going to be one of those films that are so bad they’re good. It’s about a killer lift! It's a Dutch horror film from the early Eighties - about a killer lift! It’s got a lift that kills people! Surprisingly, it’s a competently put together little thriller that, after ploddi…

The Hunger

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1983
Dir. Tony Scott

Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) and her shoulder pads become acquainted with the mysterious and beautiful Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve), a centuries old immortal vampire. Over the years Miriam has had many human companions to ease her loneliness. Unlike her however, they eventually begin to age rapidly until they are withered, but still conscious, corpses. Unable to do away with her lovers, Miriam keeps them in coffins in her attic for all eternity. With her current partner John (David Bowie) rapidly withering away, Miriam now has her sights set on a new partner: Sarah Roberts.

The Hunger is a film seriously at risk of being crushed under the weight of its own pretension, ponderous pontificating, stylish aplomb and the extraordinary amount of dry ice it uses to achieve its beautiful look. Having said that, The Hunger is also a film which was arguably one of the first to attempt to deconstruct the ‘vampire film’ and bring it out from under the shadow of mor…

House on Haunted Hill

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1959
Dir. William Castle

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price) has invited five carefully selected strangers to the house on Haunted Hill for a ‘haunted house’ party, much to the chagrin of his lusty wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart). Loren promises to pay whoever stays in the house for the whole night $10,000 dollars. With no electricity, no phones and no way of contacting the outside world, the guests are locked in the house at midnight. As the night progresses, it becomes very obvious that this will be a night to remember! Ghosts, ghouls and murder – oh my!

Darkness. A woman’s scream. Creepy moaning. Rattling chains and creaking doors. A disembodied head ponders the restless ‘ghosts’ on the prowl. Nope, its not just another Saturday night in your local pub – it’s the opening minutes of William Castle’s lovably daft House on Haunted Hill; a clunky, if not thoroughly enjoyable ghost-train romp through every creaky, hoary old cliché in the book – stopping off only to thud i…