Poster Art Appreciation - Volume Three

They sure don't make 'em like this anymore. Simultaneously lurid, colorful, creative, graphic and strangely beautiful. Personally (and I know I am not alone in this sentiment) some of these posters are what I most fondly remember from my childhood when making weekend trips to the theater or summer afternoon visits to the locally owned, pre-Blockbuster era video store (and occasionally I even got to rent a few depending on which rebellious babysitter was "watching" over me at the time). The fond memories being that of excitement and anticipation when I set my eyes on some of these things, my young mind reeling at the horrific possibilities and sleepless nights that the posters' art promised me was in store. Sometimes the film lived up to everything suggested on the poster or VHS's box cover. Sadly though, oftentimes the artwork was the most creative and memorable thing involved in most of these movies.

Many fans today, fed up with studios' uninspired Photoshop hack jobs in regards to both modern movie posters and re-releasing older films with new, boring DVD covers, have taken to personally restoring old poster art in DVD cover form or creating entirely new pieces that recall the glory days (proving that there is no contest for most fans on which form of advertising is preferred and I say the more power to them). Their heyday may be far behind us, but the appreciation of true works of art such as these still lives on in many a horror enthusiast's heart.

The Nesting (1981)

Blood Mania (1970)

Critters (1986)

The Cauldron of Death (aka Ricco,1973)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

The Prowler (1981)

The Mutilator (1985)

Queen of Blood (1966)

The Funhouse (1981)

Horror High (1974)

The Alchemist (1984)

Don't Go in the House (1980)

The Mysterious Monsters (1976)

Street Trash (1987)


My Head...Is Not Here

Nor is my mind for that matter. They've been drowned away into oblivion with a heroes helping of cold medicine (that's actually a self-portrait above I took of myself not 5 minutes ago, seriously). Yes, I've managed to get sick again, in what must be some new record I've set for myself in regards to wintertime illness. Though this time, I have a lovely, super considerate friend to thank for the stomach heaving, shit churning occasion. Last week, he who shall remain nameless (hint: he likes to argue about the "artistic merits" of Claudio Fragasso's Monster Dog, which should narrow the list of suspects down to two people...in the whole world), knowingly attended my birthday rendezvous with the flu, and proceeded to eat from the communal tortilla chip bowl at the Mexican restaurant we ate at and talk inches from my face for the majority of the night. No news on whether he spread his plague to the rest of the party guests, but he certainly knocked me up with it. As a result, my husband and I's wedding anniversary was a bust and I've been good for absolutely nothing this week but attempting to keep my eyes open watching scary movies in bed but mostly only succeeding at dozing in and out of restless, NyQuil induced slumber. Which dear readers, really chaps my ass. Twas to be the week when I finally made a go at celebrating Women In Horror Appreciation Month full throttle, something I've been irked about not being able to get to. Between birthdays and anniversaries and work and a host of other things I've been tooling on for the site, it just kept getting pushed back. I'm sorry ladies, you lovely lasses of horror, you deserved much better than this. I'll bend over and take my licks like the insolent, irresponsible chode that I am. I suppose we'll return when my nose isn't leaking all over the keyboard or I'm not coughing up a lung all over the monitor. Until then, feel free to catch up on anything that you may have missed here or visit any of the spectacular blogs linked to the right. Wish me well dear readers, so that I may get back to work at bringing you all the goods.

Fatal Frames

Ten frames from?

Sound off in the comments.

I Dont Know! I Didn't See Anything Except... Except The Axe.

"The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo, and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder."

All The Colors Of The Dark

From The Comic Vaults

Originally presented in the October/November 1950 issue of Adventures Into The Unknown #13



Goldfrapp - Alive

It's been awhile since I've gotten into Goldfrapp. A big fan of their first release Felt Mountain, they lost me a bit with their sophomore album Black Cherry (though, several years ago I was known for getting all too drunkenly dance-happy to Tiptoe, from that same offering). Alive comes courtesy of the duo's fifth studio album Head First and if it's as infectiously fun as this single, I just might have to take another crack at their 80's style synths. Alive's sonic world of happiness and brightness is offset in it's video by a darker, demonic world inspired by heavy metal bands and the music video for Olivia Newton-John's Physical of all things. Laser beams, aerobicizing satanists, neon coffins and hot, dancing vampire chicks, culminating with lead singer Alison Goldfrapp resembling Delphine Seyrig's Countess Bathory from 1971's Daughters of Darkness...what's not to love?


All That I Know Is That It's Called Dunwich

"Mr. Bell, if those gates are left open, it could mean the end of humanity. We've got to get them shut again. At midnight on Monday, we go into All Saint's Day. The night of the dead begins. If the portholes of hell aren't shut before, no dead body will ever rest in peace. The dead will rise up all over the world and take over the Earth! You must get to Dunwich, Mr. Bell. You must re-close those gates!"

Best Horror Films Of The Year - 2010

Guilty Pleasures

These films, for one reason or another did not qualify for either the "honorable mentions" portion of this list, nor the "best of...." In some instances it is merely a fact of them being, well, frankly bad (in anywhere from the script department to their execution). In other cases, some of the films were technically so ridiculous in concept that I'd be remiss if they bumped a far worthier film from the "best of" list, this despite the fact that many here are more compulsively re-watchable than say, Dogtooth (really, regardless of that film's greatness, I need to be in a specific mood, ya know).

While none of these movies are likely to win any awards anytime soon, sometimes after a trying day or a hard night at the office, all a horror nut needs is a fun little flick that knows how to lather on the gore, moderate chills, memorable kills and hokey one-liners. Alas, getting the job done without taking themselves to seriously all the while taking us, the viewer, on a entertaining if ham-fisted ride.

I initially nearly turned off Pearry Reginald Teo's Necromemtia 15 minutes into the film. The acting was so distractingly uneven that it was making it hard to pay attention to the actual movie (not to mention there is a demon named "Morbius", groan). Thankfully, my husband and I agreed to give it "10 more minutes" to prove itself, and boy did it turn things around! The acting (from select parties), still remained horribly amateurish in spots, but by the second act Necromentia's twisted world of monsters, mutilation, drug addiction and hellish torment came wonderfully and disturbingly alive. Also, kudos to what was without a doubt one of the most unnerving creations I've beared witness to in 2010; Mister Skinny, a demonic diaper-wearing fat Caucasian butcher in a pig mask who appears to children and sings songs about how suicide and self mutilation is "fun", while encouraging them to eviscerate their slumbering babysitters. A brilliant, quietly surreal and terrifying vision, Necromentia is worth suggesting for that character alone.

While certainly there are very few new frontiers explored in the French backwoods cannibal film High Lane (aka Vertige), I will always maintain that you can tell the same story over and over in the genre (really, it's bread and butter) but when a degree of finesse and sincerity is added to the proceedings, you can fashion for yourself a truly striking film experience. High Lane is just such a film. Nothing new here really, save for the exploiting of many's (me included) fear of heights. Think Cliffhanger meets Wrong Turn. If the sight of a helpless human body danging hundreds of feet above the ground by a unraveling safety harness while some mutated abomination taunts them from above gets your palms sweating (it does mine), then High Lane is just your ticket for a night of well orchestrated suspense. Add to this, Nicolas Massart's rather stunning, vertigo inducing cinematography, five flawed characters drawn with a little bit more depth than usual and the film's penchant for occasionally behaving unpredictably with it's admittedly predictable premise, and you have what should be a sleeper hit with fans of this sort of thing.

I wasn't expecting much from Marcus Dunstan's The Collector. Truth: I wasn't even ever going to bother with it. Emblazoning your movie's poster art with the slogan "From The Creators of Saw V, VI & XXIII" or whatever it was, isn't necessarily the most efficient way to capture this viewers interest. However, after catching some good word of mouth here and there, I reluctantly decided to give it a go. Let the record show, I was wrong in my initial assumptions (those being that it would be nothing but a limp and tiresome retread of those same creators' most monotonous concepts). Acting as sort of a spiritual cousin to that aforementioned franchise of torture and bloodletting, The Collector's resident psychopath essentially takes the puzzle devices from the Saw films and proceeds to booby-trap every room of targeted, unsuspecting families' homes with them. Why? I have no idea. Refreshingly, this time out there is no offensive moralizing in these endeavors, they seem to serve no purpose other than to fuel the film's chief concern; putting the movie's anti-hero Arkin (Josh Stewart) through one suspenseful "he's never going to get out of this" cat-and-mouse scenario after the other. Which, if you ignore the script's sky-high implausibility of many of those scenarios and just go with it, they work remarkably well. Over the top in nearly every way, The Collector nonetheless emerges victorious with it's acute sense of style, grisliness and extraordinarily taut set pieces.

Coming at you by way of my husband Daniel (whose sole preoccupation when I hit the hay is seemingly tracking down one bizarre filmic excursion into the worlds of strange sexploitation after the other), I was originally averse to participating in his enthusiasm for Someone's Knocking at the Door's twisted achievements. Honestly, I'm still more than a little reticent and unsure in my final feelings about this truly fucked-up undertaking. However, it did leave an undeniable impression on my psyche, and I did have a good time while trying to unravel just what the hell it was I was watching, not to speak of my feelings about what was on screen. While not the grindhouse era throwback it purports to be, it does share with that company of notoriously off films a go-for-broke sensibility in it's willingness to offend and shock; Entire heads devoured by vaginas, rib cages fucked to smithereens by monstrously oversized cocks, the sight of said cock, nearly 3 feet long, erect and flopping two and fro as it's naked owner pursues the film's leading lady (undoubtedly one of the genre's most unique chase scenes in recent memory). Amateurish though it may be in many ways, Someone's Knocking at the Door is entertaining enough throughout it's bugged-out running time to recommend it to more jaded, adventurous viewers in the mood for something truly...different. It's just a shame about that tired and overplayed final reveal though. An acquired taste, Someone's Knocking at the Door is the type of film that the phrase "guilty pleasure' was invented for.

That phrase also being applicable to our next film, Australia's Damned by Dawn. The title being an allusion to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn every bit as much as the film's content. Well, either an "allusion" or homage or rip-off, you'll have to be the judge of that dear readers. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure, Damned by Dawn is a fun, energetic throwback to late 80's / early 90's heyday of direct to video exercises in ghoulish carnage. Sadly, the film's commendable ambitions definitely overreach it's ability to realize them, alternating back and forth from merely serviceable special effects to unfortunate displays of laughable CGI. Richly atmospheric though it may be (hats off to the film maker's for blanketing the entire movie in swirling, eerie fog) , Dawn exists in a twilight netherworld somewhere between being occasionally effective and a curiosity of what might have been if director Brett Anstey had been allotted the resources to fully realize his vision. Would it be an overblown special effects extravaganza or a largely insane, epic nod to demons in the woods pics that came before it? I guess we'll never know, but us less discerning viewers were left with a convivial 81 minutesall the same.

While I personally feel that French film director Alexandre Aja has yet to live up to the insanely awesome potential he displayed with his stunning debut Haute Tension (aka High Tension), his re-imagining of Joe Dante's seminal cult classic comes mighty close. That Piranha 3-D is favored by me in anyway is a true feat, because for the most part I refuse to partake in the remake trend currently devouring (and destroying) the mainstream genre field in addition to the fact that I pretty much loath 3-D (as a trend, as a gimmick, as an over-hyped marketing tool and as a surefire wellspring of blinding headaches). Yet it won me over, in spades (and this without titillating me in the least as far as the film's over abundance of using three dimensional tits and ass as a sight gag). The one aspect that keeps Piranha 3-D from being a truly great side-note in the genre's history is that it dispenses with the original's story structure (that being what essentially played out as a suspenseful chase movie) in favor of relocating the action to two static locales; a Spring Break bash where we have little emotional investment in any of the faceless, nameless participants and Jerry O'Connell's ship of sexual debauchery (with the always pleasurable Elizabeth Shue flitting between the two). It kinda shoots itself in the foot with this format, leaving the viewer with the feeling that they neither went anywhere nor did anything for the last 88 minutes. That is of course, with the exception of witnessing what truly must be one of thee goriest, nastiest bloodbaths in mainstream Hollywood history. The carnage of which, believe me dear readers, is worth the price of admission alone. Gruesome, amusing and cheerfully willing to push the limits of good taste and politeness, Piranha 3-D couldn't be a more rambunctiously riotous diversion.

We'll return shortly with The October Country's list of worst films and biggest disappointments of 2010. Until then, thanks for visiting us!

Skull Ratings:
5 Skulls - The Best
4 Skulls - Very Good
3 Skulls - Good / Average
2 Skulls - Poor
1 Skull - The Worst
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