Posts Tagged ‘horror’

I saw two sequels this week. While I had cheap fun at Independence Day: Resurgence (sometimes at its expense), I flat-out loved The Conjuring 2. Let me try to articulate my happiness. No spoilers, because I want you to see this.
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Nature's Fury_Jaws

If Moby-Dick is the biggest literary influence on Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws (apart from the novel on which it was based), its primary cinematic touchstone is Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Jaws references Creature by recreating a number of shots from the underwater ballet sequence in the opening scene, and by strongly echoing the earlier film’s score in its own. All this being said, Jaws also has points in common with 1957’s The Monster That Challenged the World. I’m hesitant to posit a direct influence (though as we’ll see, there is at least one moment that is pretty strikingly similar). Rather, I’ll say that Monster taps into the same primal fear as Jaws and Creature, and does so quite effectively. (more…)

The Demonic Ecstasy of The Witch

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized
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“Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath” — so wrote Algernon Swinburne in “Hymn to Proserpine” (1866), and the faith-imbued world of the unfortunate family in The Witch is grey and pale indeed. The force they encounter is unequivocally evil, but one of the remarkable things about the movie is that even as we fear this force, we feel its seductive power as well. It is anything but grey.

The Witch is fine new entry in the annals of Satanic cinema. Its closest cousin is probably Blood on Satan’s Claw (1970), a period piece in which the children of a rural village in England become demon-possessed. In its rhythms, though, it has more in common with The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now (both 1973) — horror films that are not constructed around a series of terrifying set pieces, but choose instead to keep their powder dry, building dread and preparing the way for their devastating conclusions. (Though The Witch has a major piece of nastiness early on, alerting us to the fact that all bets are off. Anything can happen here.)

Spoiler warning now for the rest of this entry. Don’t read any further if you’re planning on seeing the film.

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[Happy Hallowe’en everyone! Here’s a story for you — enjoy! Some of you who’ve known me for a long time might recognize the origins for this one…]

The joke rose. It bubbled up from the dark heart of the earth. It gathered cruelty as it climbed to the surface, drawn by a land blood-soaked in caprice and malice. It reached the surface and expanded. The joke leaped into the air, then fell back to earth, drenching the soil, spreading contagion, setting up the punchline. When it was done, there was the metallic click of an opening switchblade. (more…)

I know, I know, you see what I did there. I’m so funny, how do they even let me out of the house?
I’ve been a neglectful blogger again, and this is going to be short, but at least there’s a glimmer from me, yes? And I had to shuffle my corpse around a bit on Halloween. (more…)

I just learned this morning that Jess (Jesús) Franco has passed away. I’m going to try to put together a few thoughts about the man and his films in the days ahead. In the meantime, I’m making available a PDF of a piece I did on his film Vampyros Lesbos. This originally appeared in the Horror issue of Paradoxa (no. 17, 2002), edited by Steffen Hantke. My thanks to publisher David Willingham for granting the permission so quickly. Read the article here: Guerilla Vamping.

The current issue of Fangoria has its ballot for the 2013 Chainsaw Awards, and the nominees for “Best Wide-Release Film” got me thinking about the current state of the horror film. Here are the nominees:

–          The Cabin in the Woods

–          The Grey

–          ParaNorman

–          Sinister

–          The Woman in Black (more…)