Tag Archives: black and white

SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Horror and Sons)

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As strange as it sounds, there are cliques among horror (&sci-fi&exploitation&et. al.) blogs. Not in the mean-spirited high school sense of the word, but simply peers who made their entry into the blogosphere at the same time as you. People who began with zero followers and slowly built an audience while you did the same. People who you chat with and share ideas and pointers with. I spot other longer running horror cliques on Twitter and Facebook all the time. And yes, believe it or not, Camera Viscera has many contemporaries, too. 

One of them is Horror and Sons. I can’t recall the exact moment we landed on each others radar, but I’ve kept them in my Rolodex ever since. (I’ll probably be adding them to my list of Emergency Contacts soon.) They submitted a great piece for my Drive-In Double Feature last summer, and I am thrilled that they decided to participate in this year’s whatever this is. Check out their piece from last year; I think you’ll notice a theme. Continue reading SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Horror and Sons)

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Drive-In Double Feature: Creature from the Black Lagoon & Tremors!

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I would be lying if I said the idea to do a Drive-In Double Feature wasn’t directly inspired by something Tom Bryce does every December over at his site, Shit Movie Fest. For the last handful of years, he’s done a month-long segment around the holidays called “Shitmas” where readers submit pieces about Christmas-set horror films, retro Christmas TV shows, and general holiday weirdness nostalgia. It’s great! So in honor of the awesome “Shitmas”, I thought I’d try out a summertime version, which resulted in The Drive-In Double Feature. Tom was kind enough to not only support the idea but he also submitted a piece. Take it away, Tom!

The allure of the Drive-In Theatre is something I myself have only experienced first hand once back in the 80s when my summers were spent exclusively in Wildwood, New Jersey! The Double Feature for that particular evening was E.T. and The Goonies! Sadly I don’t really recall much about the place or even the night besides wearing my pajamas to the show and failing asleep in the back of my Dad’s Station wagon!

When Joey here at Camera Viscera asked me to take part in his “Drive-In Double Feature” idea I immediately had two movies come to mind! Both of these films I consider to be in the the top echelon of my Horror Fandom and up to this point I never got to experience either on the Big Screen! Those two choices are . . .

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CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)

If you have ever visited my blog you may already know by now that I am a huge fan of Creature from the Black Lagoon! I first came to know and love the Gill-man thanks to a Monster Museum on the Wildwood Boardwalk that had a a bunch of wax figures of the Universal Monsters and other popular horror icons of the time displayed in cheesy setups! They had King Kong and Godzilla sitting on top of buildings playing cards, Dracula on a beach holding a tube of sunscreen, and then there was the Gill-Man, with a fish hook in his mouth and two oblivious fishermen in a boat in front of him not aware of what exactly they caught! Needless to say I was hooked (sorry for the lame pun) from that point on and continue to this day to seek out Gill-man related merchandise at all the Horror Movie Con I attend!
To see the Gill-man with a crowd on a nice summer night would be a dream come true!

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Tom with actress Julie Adams who plays “Kay” and actor Ricou Browning who portrayed the creature in the underwater scenes of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

TREMORS (1990)

Tremors is another movie I hold dear to my heart and think would be the perfect choice to follow the Gill-man that evening. Both movies were released by Universal Pictures, have a monster(s) who went unseen by the human eye for an undetermined amount of time, and they both feature some stunning special effects and design work that will last the test of time!

The story of Val, Earl and the Town of Perfection, Nevada battling those pesky “Graboids” is as fun as horror movies get i.m.o. and would no doubt draw a good crowd!

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Tom with actor Michael Gross who plays “Burt” in TREMORS

As I mentioned earlier in the post I still haven’t seen either of these movies on anything besides Home Media but am in luck in a couple months because “The Blobfest” which I attend every year will actually be pairing Creature (in 3D no less!) with their annual showing of The Blob!

Thanks again Joey for allowing me to take part in this fun endeavor and a special thanks to Jason Price of Icon vs Icon for creating the Creature/Tremors Poster for Me!

More Tom Bryce goodness can be found on his website, Shit Movie Fest.

“The Addiction”

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In honor of the Iranian black and white vampire flick A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night being released on Netflix Streaming this week, I thought I’d talk about another contemporary monochromatic vampire flick with a female bloodsucker as the lead – The Addiction.

Directed by gritty and unflinching crime/exploitation maestro Abel Ferrara, The Addicition doesn’t seem to get mentioned much or at all in horror circles, but it’s as interesting and relevant now as it was in 1995 when it was first released.

Social commentary in horror films is nothing new – in fact, it usually lends itself in creating a longstanding and enduring piece of cinema; a celluloid sign of the times.  There was the consumerism of the 70s in Dawn of the Dead; distrust of strangers and the fear of Cold War in 1982’s The Thing; and there’s the heroin boom of the 90s in The Addiction. There was a reason that decade begat the term “heroin chic“: never had it been purer and cheaper than it was in the early 90s, and never was it more deadly.

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Drugs are a common theme in Ferrara’s films – as well as his life. The star of his film Ms. 45 and writer of Bad Lieutenant, Zoë Tamerlis Lund, died of a heroin overdose just a few years after The Addiction was released. There is perhaps no better director to handle the real life horror of drug abuse – the allegory of the undead in constant search of fulfillment – than Ferrara himself.

The subject matter is delivered in the most collegiate of ways, aided by the fact that the story follows a college student. Shot in black and white, the films feels at times almost like a student film or a documentary. The dialogue is verbose and poetic, with constant references to philosophers like Kierkegaard, Goethe, and Nietzsche. It’s about as Shakespearean of a vampire flick as you’ll ever come across.

Though completely different tonally, there are similarities between The Addiction and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, more than just their desaturated look and female leads. Girl also deals with a contemporary issue: the Middle East’s view of women and their lack of rights, their subservient role. Girl jams a big middle finger in the face of all that and wants the audience to do the same, much like Ferrara was trying to desperately grab the viewers by the shoulders and shake them, saying, “Look at how fucked up this life is.”

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Both solid films worth a watch, no doubt. Just don’t want The Addiction to go unnoticed when it deserves to be viewed just as much and deserves just as much praise as A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night. So go watch ’em both!

Criterion Horror Films!

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When I think of The Criterion Collection, I think of high art. I think of pristine celluloid and perfectly framed shots sandwiched between thick, black widescreen bars. I think historic, I think epic, I think intelligence. Nose-in-the-air type stuff.

What I don’t think of is ooze, satan-worshipping, hyper-violence or James Woods sticking his hand inside of his own stomach. But believe it or not, all of those things (and more) can be found under the Criterion umbrella! It’s like going over to the class valedictorian’s house and seeing that they have a Basket Case poster on their bedroom wall.

David Lynch, Brian De Palma, Guillermo del Toro, David Fincher, Danny Boyle, and Paul Verhoeven all have Criterion films to their name (and David Cronenberg has four, wow!)

Here’s a short list of some of my favorite Criterion horror flicks. The list is actually much, much longer – and you can find all the titles on the Criterion site as well as their Wikipedia page – but I thought this little list would be a good place to start.

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I often preach the greatness of this 1973 Nicolas Roeg shocker. Though not outright labeled as one, it feels like a giallo film – due mainly to the mysterious, raincoat-shrouded character Donald Sutherland hunts around the canals of Italy. Solid flick with plenty of twists and freaky revelations.

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The first time I saw this film was in a theater packed full of horror fans, and I’m pretty sure I was half in the bag. The main thing I took away from the viewing was how funny the film was – not only by my own drunken interpretation, but also the uproarious laughter from the crowd. The bizarre imagery, the bits of dialogue lost in translation, the goofy score – what a funny, weird film! However, it wasn’t until last year, when I saw the Criterion analysis of the film, that I came to realize how truly horrifying it is. I suggest watching the film without any insight, and then rewatching it after viewing the analysis.

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Pecker-tucking, cannibalism, airborne semen, the c-word, fat jokes, and Tom Petty’s “American Girl”. All in a Criterion movie! This is definitely one of the more understandable entries on this list – after all, Silence of the Lambs did win five Oscars the year it came out. But that just brings up another great milestone: a horror movie sweeping the Academy Awards!

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As mentioned above, Cronenberg has a staggering four films on the Criterion list. That’s more than Bernardo Bertolucci, Miloš Forman, or Stanley Kubrick! Cronenberg’s other films on the list include Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and the amazingly gory Scanners. It’s nice to see body horror, exploding heads, and utter mindfuckery get the kudos it deserves from such a distinguished company.

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This film was so controversial when it was released in 1960 that it effectively ruined director Michael Powell’s career. If that’s not enough to get you to watch this movie, I don’t know what to tell you. I love this flick! It is often compared to Psycho, despite beating that film to the theaters by two months. With wide vocal support from both Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese, this movie is one of the great proto-slashers. At one point, zomfather George A. Romero was rumored to be remaking it, but so far nothing has come of that. Watch it!

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This is another film that I totally understand its place in the Criterion Collection. It’s beautifully shot in stark black and white, casting ominous shadows over dark secrets like a flawless film noir should. And Robert Mitchum is perfectly terrifying as the murderous con-man trying to swindle a pair of farm kids out of their dead dad’s hidden loot.

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I can understand why waifish middle-class debutante Mia Farrow would be so appalled at discovering she had been incubating Satan in her womb for the past 9 months (spoiler!), but can you imagine if Rosemary had been played by one of those Old Milwaukee-fueled dudines from Heavy Metal Parking Lot? She’d be stoked! As previously mentioned, it’s nice to see devil-worshipping be presented in such a highfalutin way.

saloBased on the synonymous book by the Maquis de Sade, this movie features all sorts of stuff your grandma would probably frown at: sadism, graphic violence, sexual depravity, and forcing little kids to eat platefuls of boom-boom. So naturally it should wind up in the Criterion Collection, a list self-described as “important classic and contemporary films for film aficionados”. Just what I love: artful smut!

Sure, this list loses some of its oomph when you realize both Kevin Smith and Michael Bay both have films on the Criterion list. Kinda makes you wonder who was behind the wheel when those decisions were made. But look: any collection that features The Blob (1958), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Fiend Without a Face, and is intended for only the most discerning of film snobs — that’s a pretty dang alright list in my book.