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Showing posts from July, 2012

Happy Birthday Mario Bava!

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Undisputed Master of Italian horror cinema Mario Bava would have turned 98 years old today. Sadly, Mr Bava passed away in 1980 at the age of 65, but he left behind an astonishing body of work. Specialising in darkly beautiful Gothic Horror, Bava also dabbled in genres as eclectic as sword and sandal peplums, science fiction (Planet of the Vampires), comic book adaptations, psychological thrillers and is generally heralded as the man responsible for kick starting the giallo (later popularised by Dario Argento), with his morbidly exquisite films The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood and Black Lace.
He also had a tremendous influence on the contemporary slasher movie, with his wickedly humorous whodunit, Bay of Blood. Taking the body-count template of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (And Then There Were None), Bava created a staggeringly violent, though elegantly lensed shocker that would have an overwhelming impact on the likes of Friday the 13th and its bloodied ilk.

Born in 1914,…

Audiodrome #10

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This month’s Audiodrome focuses on Johan Söderqvist’s chillingly beautiful score for Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. Based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the story concerns Oscar, a lonely little boy, and his tentative relationship with Eli, an odd little girl who turns out to be a centuries old vampire.
Söderqvist’s score gently chills the spine with icily subtle moments of terror, and thaws it out again with richly melancholy themes performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. It utilises spine-tingling sounds such as electric guitar played with a bow and a bass waterphone to eerily beautiful effect.

Head over to Paracinema.net to read my full review and listen to an excerpt of the score.

While you’re there, why not order yourself a copy of Paracinema issue 16. There’s an abundance of in-depth articles on the likes of Ken Russell’s The Devils, Assault of the Killer Bimbos, found footage and mockumentary horror, disaster movies, French Science Fiction and m…

Dark Mirror

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2007
Dir. Pablo Proenza

When her family moves into a new home, photographer Deborah (Lisa Vidal) gradually begins to suspect sinister things are stirring from the house’s past. She catches glimpses of shadowy figures and doorways that aren't there in the mirrors and reflective surfaces. When she talks to her new neighbours she discovers that the previous owner, a famous artist, vanished in mysterious circumstances. Deborah is further convinced something evil lurks within the house as everyone she photographs dies in unnatural circumstances. Is poor Deborah experiencing a nervous breakdown? Or are there actually evil spirits trapped in the glass surfaces of her new home, waiting to pounce into our world?

The mirror has featured heavily throughout horror cinema as a source of danger and fear. Psychologically speaking they are often used to address ideas revolving around the fear of one’s self and psychological breakdown. A common visual motif in films in which someone is suffering …

Ginger Snaps: Unleashed

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2004
Dir. Brett Sullivan

Horror sequels can usually be a bone of contention with most audiences and critics. Often times they reek of cashing in on the success of their predecessor and commonly they simply rehash the original plot with an emphasis on upping the ante and the gore factor. It is a rare thing to find a horror sequel that not only matches the original film in terms of quality and originality, but that also expands and further explores the original story with credibility.

Ginger Snaps ended with Brigitte (Emily Perkins) putting her werewolf sister Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) out of her misery, but not before she was also ‘infected’ with her lycanthropy. Brigitte had discovered a ‘cure’ and when we last saw her she held salvation in her hand: a syringe of Monkshood (Wolfsbane). For all we knew she could have injected herself with it and went on her not-so-merry way. The film had a fairly closed ending that resolved its story nicely, though the fate of Brigitte of course had …

The Flesh and Blood Show

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1972
Dir. Pete Walker

A group of actors rehearsing a play in an old abandoned seaside theatre are menaced by a homicidal maniac.

When it comes to British horror cinema, writer/director/producer Pete Walker is often sorely overlooked. Beginning his career making mischievous soft-core sexploitation movies, Walker would later progress to deliberately antagonistic, subversive and antiauthoritarian shockers such as Frightmare, House of Whipcordand House of Mortal Sin. Amongst the bare breasts and splashy gore of these films were scathing social commentaries on British institutions such as class, family and the legal system. Unapologetic, violent, exploitative, strangely thoughtful and always anti-establishment in their outlook, Walker’s later films were controversial, not only because of the extreme content, but also because of their reflection on the darker, seedier underbelly of British society. Walker’s first tentative venture into the horror/thriller arena came with Die Screaming Mari…

Theatre of Death

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1967
Dir. Samuel Gallu

AKA Blood Fiend

The investigation into a number of grisly murders in which the victims bodies have been exsanguinated, leads detectives to a creepy Parisian theatre specialising in horror productions. Could someone at the theatre be responsible? No! Surely not!

Opening with a scene in which an attractive young woman is forced onto a guillotine and decapitated in front of an appreciative audience, only for her to emerge alive and well from behind the theatre curtain to accept her applause, Theatre of Death is intent on letting us know from the outset that all will not be as it seems. The lines between what is real and what is not twist and turn throughout proceedings. Setting the story in the real-life Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris is an inspired choice. Between the years of 1897 and 1962 it specialised in the production of deliberately shocking and lurid plays, the raison d’être of which was to depict bloody scenes of murder and torture on stage to titillat…

The Mummy’s Shroud

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1967
Dir. John Gilling

When a group of British archaeologists uncover the secret desert tomb of a child Pharaoh outside Cairo, they invoke an ancient curse and the murderous wrath of a mummy...

If the above synopsis sounds familiar, that's because it is. The Mummy's Shroud boasts a typical mummy movie narrative in which a group of stuffy British archaeologists go snooping around in a Pharaoh's tomb and one by one are violently killed by a mummy - in this case, the faithful servant of the child prince whose burial place they desecrate. It was the third mummy movie made by Hammer. Director Gilling and writer Anthony Hinds don't really bring anything different or unusual to the tale, as it unravels (sorry) in the most stringently conventional way. Gilling's prior Hammer titles The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies were much more interesting, offbeat and effective horror films that at least tampered with convention and expectations. While the predictability slightly h…