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Showing posts from January, 2011

Coralina: Life is Art / Art is Life

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This month saw the release of a new book on the life/work of actress, artist, Dario Argento muse, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. Cataldi-Tassoni has starred in the likes of Argento's Opera, Phantom of the Opera, Mother of Tears and Lamberto Bava's Demons 2 (produced by Argento). She is also a painter and writer. The book, edited and compiled by Filippo Brunamonti, boasts a collection of interviews and articles focusing on the work of the actress/artist and even features a number of pieces written by the likes of Dario Argento, Tim Lucas and Mick Garris.

'Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni (actress, painter, singer-songwriter, writer) is the fascinating protagonist of the book Coralina: Life is Art / Art is Life, published in a prestigious bilingual edition (English and Italian). Young journalist Filippo Brunamonti has collected exclusive interviews and essays by illustrious directors, artists, writers and critics (Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Mariano Baino, Mick Garris, Irene Miracle,…

Dark Dramas and Twisted Psychologies - Southern Style: An Interview With Filmmaker Ryan Blake George

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Currently making a name for himself on the indie film festival circuit, writer/director/actor/producer Ryan Blake George is a maverick filmmaker on the rise. His films are dark, provocative, unflinching. As the director of a couple of slow-burning, intensely atmospheric shorts, he offers us brief glimpses into worlds that are seemingly familiar, before revealing them to be peopled by unhinged, damaged individuals bent on revenge; unreliable narrators, their psyches twisted through madness, passion and hate. In George’s films, the tension he creates is as stifling as the environs in which his stories humidly unfold. His first short, Edge, charts the psychological breakdown of a woman, seemingly caught in a troubled relationship with a man (played by George) who manipulates and humiliates her. Perverse fantasies, troubling mind-games and immoral bedroom liaisons culminate in a frenzied, sinisterly orchestrated bloodbath.

Further showcasing his ability to create and sustain gruelling te…

Through A Glass Darkly: Mirrors & Horror Films

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Following on from 2008’s Kiefer Sutherland starring thriller Mirrors, which was based on the hair-raising Korean film Into the Mirrors, Mirrors 2 is a supernatural horror starring Emmanuelle Vaughier (Saw II) and Nick Stahl (Carnivale). Like its predecessor, it looks set to effectively exploit all kinds of spectrophobic (the fear of mirror images) notions as it follows the story of Max, a recovering addict struggling to come to terms with the car crash that killed his fiancé and left him tortured with the memory of her death. Riddled with guilt and determined to try and make a new life for himself Max takes a job as nighttime security guard in the Mayflower department store, but as his nightshifts begin he sees visions of a young, mysterious woman in the store’s mirrors.

When he sets out to discover who she is, Max’s investigation reveals that the seemingly normal department store holds a dark secret and a bloody past. A series of horrifying and brutal murders ensues before long, and …

John Carpenter’s The Ward

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2010
Dir. John Carpenter

After she sets fire to a house, troubled Kristen is incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital. It isn’t long before she becomes acquainted with the other inmates and realises that all is not as it seems in the hospital. Odd occurrences are afoot and gradually the number of inmates begins to dwindle. Are the stern doctors and their experimental treatments to blame? Or is something more supernatural afoot? When she fails to convince the staff that someone, or something, stalks the corridors at night, Kristen decides to take matters into her own hands… Mild chills and a slew of shock/jump moments ensue.

John Carpenter, like many of his contemporaries (George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Wes Craven) experienced something of a freefall in the latter part of his career. Having created some of the most seminal, genre defining films so early on, Carpenter would eventually struggle to live up to the reputation he quickly cultivated for himself. His early filmogr…

There’s Something About Fulci…

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When I began to flesh out my thoughts and hastily scribbled notes on The Black Cat, I ended up spewing forth a tangent about why I find Lucio Fulci’s film work so utterly repellent, disturbing, depressing and yet morbidly fascinating. Below is said tangent, and the review of The Black Cat (tangent free, sort of) can be found here.

Of the countless tacky, schlocky, trashy, ultra-violent, reprehensible, disposable, exploitation-laden fare this writer has watched over the years - and the plethora of distasteful, disturbing, mind-numbingly deplorable and brain-botheringly wretched imagery I’ve witnessed as a result of watching such fare - one filmmaker and his work stands above all others when it comes to creating genuinely upsetting, avert-your-gaze-from-the-screen-in-disgust moments. Lucio Fulci is a man most fans of horror cinema will be familiar with. Heck, many of them will even own some of his work on DVD or something called VHS. My own experience of watching Fulci’s work is quite…

The Black Cat

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1981
Dir. Lucio Fulci

It purrz. It stalkz. It killz!

The arrival of perky American photographer Jill Trevers (Mimsy Farmer) at a sleepy English village coincides with a series of bizarre, seemingly accidental deaths. She teams up with Scotland Yard detective Gorley (David Warbeck), in town to investigate the spate of odd occurrences, and local copper Sgt. Wilson (Al Cliver), and begins to suspect the involvement of the reclusive Professor Miles (Patrick Magee) in the deaths. Turns out Miles has been frequenting the local cemetery in a bid to record and communicate with the dead. He also appears to have a psychic link with his black cat. Could it be that he is channelling his psychic abilities and manipulating his cat to prowl after and murder those who have wronged him? No! Surely not!

‘Fraid so!

Opening with much prowling camera work, a gruesome car crash in which the driver is distracted by the eponymous moggy, crashes into a wall and is impaled on his own decimated windscreen b…

Outcast

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Outcast, the debut feature from director Colm McCarthy (Spooks; The Tudors; Murphy’s Law), is an “intelligent, engaging, and unexpectedly creepy” (FearNet.com) contemporary supernatural horror film steeped in ancient Celtic occult, mythology and mysticism.

Boasting a strong cast of established British and Irish acting talent that includes James Nesbitt (Five Minutes Of Heaven; Murphy’s Law), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), James Cosmo (Sons Of Anarchy), Kate Dickie (Somers Town; Red Road) and Christine Tremarco (Waterloo Road), along with up-and-coming newcomers Niall Bruton and Hanna Stanbridge (Lip Service), the film has been described as “a monster movie, a murder mystery, and a Polanski-style tale of strange emotional ties that gradually unravel in several unpleasant ways” (FearNet.com) and as “a bold, ambitious first feature… a genuinely menacing piece of horror” (Twitch). According to Eye for Film it is “The best British Horror film since The Descent.”

On the run from a deadly pursu…

The Thing From Another World

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1951
Dir. Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks

A group of scientific researchers and military personnel discover an alien spacecraft frozen under the ice in the Arctic. Retrieving the alien pilot, they take it back to their outpost to conduct research. However when the block of ice it’s entombed in thaws, the creature goes berserk and sets off on a bloody rampage, killing anyone who crosses its path and feeding on their blood. The military personnel led by Captain Hendry decide enough is enough, and plot to destroy the creature before it destroys them.

Based on the short story 'Who Goes There?' by renowned sci-fi writer John W. Campbell, The Thing From Another World is one of the earliest, and most successful amalgamations of horror and sci-fi. A precursor to the likes of The Day The Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds and Alien, the film was produced during a time when the media was bombarded by reports of sightings of UFOs; a time that would become the Golden Age of sci-fi in Holl…

Wine of the Month

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This month's reviews are brought to you, once again, courtesy of Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza (which means barrel aged, apparently).

Campo Viejo is perhaps the largest producer of Rioja (named after the region where the grapes are grown in Spain) and is based on the outskirts of Logro no. Made up of Tempranillo - Spain's best known red wine grape, this pretty little red is aged in bottles for 6 months after its statutory year spent in barrels, before it is released to retailers and then appreciatively guzzled by the likes of your good self and I.

With a distinct spicy, oaky and really quite smooth palette, this wine is best enjoyed with something sophisticated, preferably an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation starring Vincent Price - the oaky depths also ensure it is best enjoyed while watching any number of Hammer's velvety, resplendently Gothic and alluring vampire flicks. If you must, you can also waft around your abode whilst quaffing this to the strains of Bach's Air On A G-…

Trog

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1970
Dir. Freddie Francis

After the discovery of a prehistoric troglodyte in a cave in primmest, quaintest England, Dr Brockton and her team of anthropologists attempt to communicate with it. The local townsfolk however, are not happy about a potentially dangerous Neanderthal residing so near to their quintessentially quaint English village. A botched plan to get rid of the creature results in it causing all sorts of havoc and mayhem in the local village. Can Dr Brockton and her immaculately shaped eyebrows put a stop to naughty Trog’s antics before civilisation crumbles? Can she heck!

Trog is really only significant and of any remote historical interest because it marked Joan Crawford’s last ever big-screen role. It was the second film she worked on ‘as a favour’ for her friend, filmmaker Herman Cohen. Hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right? Their other outing together was Berserk! Despite the absolute humiliation Crawford must have undergone making such drivel, she still throws herself in…