If you’re a fan of horror movie history like me, you must have loved it when Universal Studios released their feature-length Universal Horror documentary in 1998 with their DVD release of Frankenstein. Featuring narration by Kenneth Branagh and appearances by Forrest Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, film historian David Skal, and numerous others, the film explored the context and implications of the origins of American horror movies. While I loved the star power of the documentary, my favorite parts of the film were the clips where Skal explained the impact of German gothic horror films on Hollywood at the time. He further commented on some of the more challenging scenes of films like 1922’s J’accuse and 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, and theorized their conscious and subconscious connections to world issues surrounding World War I and World War II. If you are interested in this kind of academic approach to the exploration of early filmmaking, Rüdiger Suchsland’s From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses is for you!
Over a decade before fans were fawning over Stranger Things‘ 1980’s horror and pop culture nostalgia, Richard Kelly practically invented this formula for homage with Donnie Darko. In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the film, Arrow Video has created a beautiful 4K restoration of both cuts of the movie, taken from the original film negatives. This version of the film was released in U.K. theaters for a short period in late 2016, and Arrow Video followed up with a definitive home video package for the movie, which contains these lovely transfers and a mountain of engaging special features. This release is a must-have, even for casual fans of the movie. read more
Following up on their excellent October release of Dark Water, Arrow Video continues their tradition of offering important early 2000’s J-Horror films with this month’s Pulse blu-ray and DVD set. While I find the film to be an acquired taste in comparison to some of the other popular Japanese ghost films of its time, it is highly regarded by many critics and it has withstood the test of time as evidenced by this release 16 years later. Arrow Video has cut no corners with this release; and the overall package includes a digital transfer of the film which has it looking the best it possibly can, as well as a wealth of interesting special features. The first pressing of the set will include a booklet featuring illustrations and an article by film critic Chuck Stephens. The package also features new cover art by Tommy Pocket which recalls the contemporary work many artists are doing with pop culture screen printing these days. Overall, I believe this package will be highly desirable for J-Horror fans who want to own the best possible versions of all of the classics, but this one may not be for every casual horror fan out there. read more
Season One of FX’s Taboo ended just as explosively as Tom Hardy promised, tying up many of the storylines of the season and establishing a clear and definitive transition to the themes and events of Season Two. The final two episodes of the season continue the quality of storytelling established early on in this series while adding prolonged battle scenes which ramp up the intensity of the show and increase the scope of the events. Tom Hardy is clearly the star of the show, but its ensemble cast is able to shine through several major scenes which wrap up the season. read more
Fans are often skeptical when their favorite artist attempts to experiment in a new genre. Jordan Peele has always been known for comedy, specifically Comedy Central’s Key and Peele sketch comedy show. The success of Key and Peele is primarily attributed to a brand of comedy that skewers social and cultural conventions (like all great sketch comedy does) and is willing to “cross the line” to make a joke and, more importantly, when it comes to satire, make a point. Although Peele’s directorial debut happens to come from the world of horror and not comedy, Get Out is an impressive and successful first film from the director, that is able to scare audiences while also delivering bitting social commentary about the perception of race in America. read more
Three-quarters of the way through its season, FX’s Taboo is firing on all cylinders, offering some of the most engaging storytelling around… on cable television or otherwise. The filmmakers and actors are consistently delivering a visually appealing and intelligently satisfying experience that is exponentially increasing in intensity as it reaches its conclusion.
Early on in the series, Tom Hardy’s James Keziah Delaney shocked us, frightened us, made us laugh, and ultimately made us care about him. As the odds increase, we can’t help but cheer for his intelligence and/or savagery that gets him out of various dangerous situations. What’s interesting about his progression is that while the rumors swirl more and more about him (pretty much everyone refers to him as the Devil at this point), the viewer is able to see more and more of the human side of him. For example, in Episode 6, even Delaney’s close associate Atticus (Stephen Graham) loosely calls out Delaney’s connections to the occult; ,meanwhile, the viewer is solely aware of Delaney’s internal struggle over his connection to his mother and its supernatural implications. His sensitive side is not revealed to any other character… not to his sister, not to his son, not to anyone but the viewer. In fact, his son’s curiosity only leads to Delaney taking a more hardened approach towards him. read more
Synopsis: “Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.”
Our Thoughts: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought now would be a perfect time to review Tomie. read more
Tom Hardy promised viewers that FX’s Taboo would be a slow burner with an explosive ending. While Episodes Three and Four make it clearer to viewers what kind of show this is going to be, the series remains shrouded in mystery halfway through its season. However, just as James Delaney’s visions are becoming more and more clear, the layers are slowly being pealed back on the show’s characters. In the meantime viewers are left with a strong, genre defying, thought provoking example of modern television storytelling. read more
Given A24’s recent string of high quality horror releases and writer/director Bryan Bertino’s track record of horror success with The Strangers, expectations for The Monster were sky high by the time the first trailer for the film was released. The Monster never received a wide theatrical release, a potential warning sign for new horror films. It made its home video release this week, published on DVD and Blu-Ray by Lionsgate. While the film is sometimes inconsistent in meeting its storytelling goals, the work contains some of Bertino’s trademark directorial qualities which elevate the film from basic horror fare. This movie has heart, and its unique characters might help horror fans to overlook some of its flaws. read more
You never quite know what FX will come up with next. While the network’s programming is inconsistent overall, it is capable of producing quality works that bring out the best in actors and filmmakers. American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson was one of those shows, popping up early last year with some of the best performances from its actors we’ve seen in years. With Taboo, FX has pushed the boundaries of quality television even further. Produced in part by Ridley Scott, the series features HBO alumni such as Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones), Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones) and Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire), and the quality of the content would not feel out of place in any of their previous work for the premium network. read more