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Showing posts from January, 2010

Long Weekend

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2008
Dir. Jamie Blanks

Suburban couple Peter and Carla (Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan) take a weekend vacation in the hopes of repairing their crumbling relationship. The couple show an absolute lack of respect for their surroundings and amongst other things, drop litter, bicker with each other, constantly spray insecticides, bicker with each other, accidently kill a baby dugong, bicker with each other and are generally unable to conceal their utter contempt for one another, or nature. As the tension between the two escalates, nature itself seems to strike back against them. Is something supernatural afoot, or is the squabbling, insular couple losing their grip on reality?

Australian horror movies have been making quite an impact on the horror genre recently, though the country has a history of genre movies including classics such as Mad Max, Razorback and Picnic at Hanging Rock. More recently with films such as Wolf Creek, Rogue, Lake Mungo and Undead, filmmakers have begun to exp…

Classic ‘Behind the Couch’ Moments #101: Dr Who and the Daleks

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As you may or may not be aware, this blog takes its name from a phrase in popular culture that apparently originated from commentary on Doctor Who – namely the actions taken by young children being frightened by episodes of the show - particularly during the 1970s series’. According to Sam Leith, who wrote an article titled ‘Worshipping Doctor Who from behind the sofa’, the cliché that Doctor Who had us ‘hiding behind the couch’ whilst watching it – ‘is more telling in its tone than its questionable factuality. It connotes nostalgia and a pleasurable mixture of fright and fascination - but above all it connotes domesticity. It united fear and soft furnishings in the British mind.’

According to that bastion of reliability, Wikipedia, The Economist actually went so far as to present this notion of "hiding behind the sofa whenever the Daleks appear" as a British cultural institution on an equal par with Bovril and ‘tea-time’. Indeed, the phrase is so strongly associated with Do…

Random Creepy Scene # 587,336: Twin Peaks

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James, Donna and Maddy gather in Donna’s living room to sing a song. The three are united in their grief over Laura’s death. Donna realises that James is falling for Maddy, Laura’s cousin, because of her uncanny resemblance to Laura. After the song, Donna leaves abruptly and James chases after her. Left alone in the living room, Maddy – who seems to share the same susceptible nature that Laura, and indeed several of the other townsfolk exhibited and just seems able to sense when something is 'wrong' – feels a dark, creepy presence in the house. Suddenly she sees ‘Bob’ a filthy, lecherous man Laura wrote about in her diary, claiming he abused her and would eventually kill her, slowly appear in the room. He quietly skulks towards her from the other side of the room and we see it all from her point of view as she sits rooted to the spot with fear.

The sight of this dirty, carnal beast-man slowly advancing towards us and crawling over the couch with warped, slightly unreal looking…

Pontypool

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2008
Dir. Bruce McDonald

The small town of Pontypool descends into chaos when the residents become infected by a mysterious virus that seems to spread through the English language itself. Inside the local radio station, the small production crew of shock-Jock Grant Mazzy’s show continue to broadcast news and updates of the ensuing chaos outside as the town spirals into madness. They are unaware though, that their broadcasts may very well be adding to the contagion…

The last decade has produced a staggering array of films that, since 28 Days Later, have attempted their own spin on the zombie/infection/virus sub-genre; and like all cinematic cycles, this one also produced some titles that were much more original and creative than others. Pontypool is perhaps one of the most striking and interesting films to have come out of this resurgence in the popularity of the zombie flick. It is based on the 1998 novel Pontypool Changes Everything and was adapted for the screen by its author Tony …

Audrey Rose

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1977
Dir. Robert Wise

Janice and Bill Templeton (Marsha Mason and John Beck), an affluent middle class couple living in New York, look on helplessly as their comfortable existence is shattered when the mysterious and charismatic Elliot Hoover (Anthony Hopkins) enters their lives. He declares that their daughter Ivy (Susan Swift) is actually the reincarnation of his dead daughter Audrey Rose. Is he telling the truth? Or is he a raving psychotic they should cross the street to avoid? When Ivy begins to experience weird seizures and hallucinations, the couple have no choice but to accept the help of Hoover and the family are plunged into a nightmare they may never wake up from…

Director Robert Wise began his eclectic career as an editor for RKO. He was given his big break by producer Val Lewton directing the poetic horror sequel The Curse of the Cat People – more a sensitive study of child psychology than an out and out horror flick. Wise would return to the horror arena again with titl…

5 Dolls for an August Moon

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1970
Dir. Mario Bava

Three couples are invited to spend the weekend at the secluded private island retreat of their ‘friend’, wealthy industrialist George Stark (Teodoro Corrà). One of the men, a research scientist, has perfected a secret formula for an industrial resin and the other men are all keen to acquire the rights for it as it promises to be lucrative. Tempers flare as they vie to obtain the formula. Meanwhile their wives indulge in flings with the houseboy. And each other! They soon realise that someone is prepared to kill to get what they want, and they find themselves trapped on the island with a murderer in their midst!

Gosh – that’s a lot to take in. Truth be told though, as soon as you begin to watch 5 Dolls for an August Moon, it becomes apparent that none of the above ‘plot summary’ really matters – all that nonsense about a secret formula is just a rouse to get these volatile, somewhat frisky characters in one limited and secluded location so they can all be bumped of…

Thirst

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2009
Dir. Park Chan-wook

Father Sang-hyun (Kang-ho Song), selflessly volunteers for some highly dangerous experiments to develop a vaccine to eradicate a deadly virus. He contracts the disease and seemingly dies, only to return to life and be regarded as a Messiah. He soon discovers to his horror that his immunity comes at a price: he now has a taste for blood, and all those carnal urges he suppressed throughout his life in the priesthood have become too strong to resist. He becomes locked in a bizarre and destructive relationship with Tae-joo (Ok-bin Kim), the wife of an old friend, and the two plummet headlong into a darkly erotic world soaked in the blood of all who cross their paths…

The vampire film has proved to be one of the most versatile, adaptable and popular sub-genres with filmmakers and audiences alike. It appears to be one of those types of film that lends itself so well to reinterpretation whilst maintaining a hardcore of themes and ideas that seem timeless in their ap…

The Tripper

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2006
Dir. David Arquette

A group of free-loving, pot-smoking, acid-dropping hippies attend a music and camping festival only to find themselves stalked and brutally butchered by an axe-wielding psychotic killer wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. Aided by his faithful killer dog, Nancy. Naturally.

David Arquette’s directorial feature debut is a loving throwback to gritty backwoods slashers from the Eighties. Arquette actually sticks fairly rigidly to the preconceived slasher coda. A pre-credits-like ‘flashback’ to the 80's depicts a young boy who, after seeing his father and lumberjack foreman being attacked by a deforesting protestor and subsequently arrested by the police, goes on a killing spree with a chainsaw.
Cut to present day and the introduction of 'Final Girl' Samantha (Jaime King) who, still reeling from her breakup with an abusive boyfriend, joins her eclectic bunch of kerr-azy pot-smoking friends (who resemble a really fucked up version of the Scooby gang) and hea…

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht

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1979
Dir. Werner Herzog

AKA Nosferatu the Vampyre

Real-estate agent Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) leaves his hometown of Wismar and travels to Transylvania to complete a property sale for Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski). When Dracula sees a photo of Jonathan’s wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) he is captivated and determines to make her his. Drinking Jonathan’s blood and locking him in the castle, the Count departs for Wismar, bringing with him plague-infected rats. As the inhabitants of Wismar fall victim to the plague and to the Count’s thirst for blood, Lucy realises she must take matters into her own hands to save her soul and that of her now seemingly traumatised husband…

Werner’s Nosferatu is a respectful and masterful remake/homage to F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens. Murnau couldn’t obtain permission to adapt Bram Stoker’s seminal novel Dracula, so he went ahead and crafted his film anyway – altering it slightly so as to avoid prosecution. A law suit was still filed …

House of Mortal Sin

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1976
Dir. Pete Walker
AKA The Confessional

Jenny, (Susan Penhaligon) a troubled young girl, seeks help at her local church. Unfortunately for her, the sexually frustrated priest Father Meldrum (Anthony Sharp) she confesses to, becomes obsessed with her. He begins to stalk her, however as his increasingly unhinged mindset continues to unravel, it becomes obvious he will stop at nothing, including blackmail and murder, just to get close to Jenny.

‘He's gone out again. You're all alone ... with me.’

If House of Whipcord was Walker’s attack on the Establishment and the penal system, House of Mortal Sin is surely his scathing defilement of the Roman Catholic Church. Released in the States as The Confessional it plunges the viewer into even darker territory than before.

Walker drew on his own fears and opinions as a lapsed Catholic to create a more considered and mature film than most viewers would have expected, particularly given its lurid title and somewhat taboo subject matter.…

Pass this Award onto seven other people in seven days or you will DIE!

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The blogosphere has resembled something of a Brian Yuzna inspired orgiastic frenzy recently, with everyone giving everyone else an award for something or other. Just as I was about to start feeling sorry for myself, a couple of nice bloggers said nice things about Behind the Couch and even chucked me a couple of beauteous awards too.
I’m not really one for speeches or anything, so I’ll just say thanks very much to Christine at Fascination with Fear, Carl at I Like Horror Movies and Matthew at Movietone News for their kind words.

Basically I’m just going to take the awards and run. But before I do, I wanted to mention a few blogs I enjoy frequenting.

Radiation Cinema

A wonderful site dedicated to Atomic-era B-movies and monster movie classics from the 50s. Each film is painstakingly dissected and eloquently discussed by Mykal, who has actually just received a nomination from Total Film for Best Newcomer Blog – drop by and vote for him. http://www.totalfilm.com/features/2010-blog-award…

Street Trash

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1987
Dir. Michael J. Muro

A dodgy liquor store owner flogs bottles of out of date ‘Viper’ at discount rate to the local hobos, unaware of its true properties: it causes its consumers to melt. Very graphically. Fred and his brother Kevin, two young street urchins, find themselves up against the effects of the toxic brew, as well as having to contend with the junkyard overlord Bronson, an unhinged ‘Nam vet…

When a film opens with a slapstick chase scene in which a tramp steals liquor and money from various people only for them all to give chase, full frontal nudity, fart gags, a paraplegic falling out of his wheelchair and some completely random and absurd violence in which a man sitting in his car is hauled out of it by a hulking shell-shocked miscreant and hurled through his own windshield, much to the shock and dismay of his female passenger – you just know you’re in for a morally vacuous and utterly depraved splurge of a treat. Ladies and gentlemens may I present to you the gloriou…

Interview with The Hills Run Red director Dave Parker

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When The Hills Run Red hit DVD shelves last year it really created quite a furore amongst horror fans. The film focuses on a group of young film students who venture into the woods in search of a long lost horror film. The film, titled ‘The Hills Run Red’, was considered by the very few that had seen it to be the scariest movie ever made and shortly afterwards its director Wilson Wyler Concannon vanished, taking the only reel of the film with him. The students eventually discover however, that the deranged killer from the movie is real and still very much alive – and filming never finished as he is still killing for the sake of his art. And they are his new co-stars.

The Hills Run Red combines post-Scream reflexivity with ‘old school’ horror violence, tension and atmosphere, shot through a post-‘torture-porn’ aesthetic to create an interesting homage to old slasher flicks that had horror fans positively salivating. While it may have divided audiences, it still got genre fans talking an…