Harsh Texture

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    • horror
    • mindfuck
    | Aug. 12, 2016, 10:25 p.m.
    Gilderoy, an english sound engineer arrives for work on an Italian film. It was sold as an “equestrian” picture, a topic dear to his timid soul. When he sits in on a sound effects session the crew are whacking watermelons with machetes while the actresses scream in torment. “What kind of film is this, anyway?” The film within a film is never shown aside from a mock credit sequence and a brief clip late in the picture, but given its affect on Gilderoy must be fantastically depraved and sadistic, like one of Bava and Argento’s sleek
    • horror
    • low budget
    | Sept. 20, 2016, 10:47 p.m.
    American Horror films are often the most derivative of genres. For as long as there’s been film in theaters, horror has been treated as a low-risk, medium reward endeavour. It attracts opportunists and auteurs in equal measure. Even some of the leading lights, like John Carpenter and Sam Raimi, got into the genre hoping to use it as a quick stepping stone to other projects (westerns and comedies, respectively). The first Friday the 13th was created by a soap opera writer on the lam. Given a brief description of the plot, you could generally place a horror film
    • horror
    | July 29, 2017, 8:28 p.m.
    When the moon gets full, the “Moon Killer” strikes. Strangling the victims with his strong hands and then using a surgeon’s scalpel to skin off portions of their flesh. All clues point the police and the press to the staff at Doctor Xavier’s (Lionel Atwill) Academy of Surgical Research. Doctor Xavier manages to get 48 hours from the police to allow him to ferret out the guilty party. He whisks his fellow doctors off to his cliffside manor to perform psychological experiments. If the authorities are too deferential toward Doctor Xavier, the press is not
    • horror
    • slasher
    • thriller
    | Oct. 31, 2016, 10:17 p.m.
    What exactly makes a classic horror film? Does it have to be scary? Halloween is cited as the movie that kicked off the Slasher sub-genre that dominated horror for more than a decade. I recently sat in for a revival screening in a packed house. Obviously Halloween did something right. It was a massive hit in its original run and continued to grow its audience over that span, placing it in refined company regardless of the genre. I’ve listened to interviews from the initial screenings where theatergoers not yet familiar with the rules of slasher pictures yelled at
    • horror
    | Nov. 2, 2016, 11:23 p.m.
    At times no one seems to hate a horror franchise more than the people tasked with producing the sequels. A successful horror movie is almost always spectacularly profitable given that the budgets are so low that they’re quick to recoup. That a successful movie be followed quickly with a sequel is the edict of the genre, all too often the original filmmakers become too expensive to maintain. Instead producers turn to scrubs and up and coming directors to churn out the sequels. Whatever the career ambitions of this lot, many chafe at regurgitating the bullet points from the earlier
    • horror
    • slasher
    | Nov. 1, 2016, 10:36 p.m.
    In 1978 it was enough to call Michael Myers pure evil. By the time of the inevitable sequel, the burden came to mythologize this monster. The 1980s had an obsession with satanic cults and pagan ritual. Paranoid suburbanites saw them in the dark corners of their own communities. John Carpenter’s script pegged this onto Michael Myers. Suddenly the man who spent 15 years mute in an insane asylum was versed in samhain and the ways of the druids. Carpenter may have been keeping in step with times or he may have been looking forward to Halloween 3: Season of
    • druggy
    • fantasy
    • gross out
    • horror
    • mindfuck
    | Oct. 7, 2017, 11:31 a.m.
    After her father surprises her by inviting his new fiance to their summer vacation, the daughter rebels. She instead writes to her long estranged spinster aunt and asks if she could visit. The aunt agrees enthusiastically, even allowing six of of her friends to join as well. It’s hard to find much precedent for Hausu. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead is an obvious point of comparison, although it was released four years later. They both share a delight in dismemberment, spraying multi colored bodily fluids, and omnipotent spirits who take great pleasure in torturing their captives slowly. But Raimi’s
    • horror
    | July 30, 2017, 2:14 p.m.
    “The Legend of Hell House” is so intent on getting its cast into the titular, haunted mansion, as quickly as possible that you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that it wanted to to get to the scares as soon as possible. Unfortunately, where the film wants to go is straight into melodrama. Assembling a tight cast in the “Hell House” so that they argue and bicker about each other’s mettle and fortitude. Their stated goal is to prove for a wealthy client that the afterlife exists, and given the spotted history of the cursed manor it is
    • horror
    | April 9, 2017, 2:55 p.m.
    Horror films are sold on their macabre imagery. Sometimes the degree of cringeworthiness is the sole selling point needed to entice the target audience. By this standard, Motel Hell delivers. Many films make their victims suffer, but here the torture stretches out for days. Their bodies mutilated in a way still unique even after the ensuing decades brought the torture porn of the 2000s. The final battle between the good and evil forces of the story involves a chainsaw duel where one of the participants wears a hog’s head as a mask. That right there is something you won’t
    • drama
    • horror
    • thriller
    | March 27, 2017, 12:12 a.m.
    Secret chambers were once solely the purview of gothic castles. In the mystery thrillers of pre-WWII it was the mansions of the monied elites that hid a few extra rooms. Western society lost its taste for stories involving the damned aristocracy and the evil upper class. Monsters these days tend to come from the people, but the love for the clandestine villain’s lair remains strong. Now our everyman-monsters maintain villainous lairs every bit as fatal as those of their well-off ancestors, even if built on a budget from Home Depot materials. Lurking inside the cookie cutter, McMansion exteriors, modern monsters
    • crime
    • horror
    | Aug. 17, 2016, 10:31 p.m.
    Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake is a bad film, but such talent went into the production that it’s a wonder. In terms of acting, Vince Vaughn, Viggo Mortenson and Julianne Moore would all develop into top tier leading actors in the 2010s. As it’s become clear that director Van Sant has maintained a level of quality in his work, many are looking back at this film as if the awfulness was the point all along. Although I doubt the actors signed onto a project based on that deception, it’s still an interesting case study on what makes a successful
    • comedy
    • horror
    • low budget
    • Science Fiction
    | Sept. 30, 2017, 6:16 p.m.
    After losing his minimum wage job, Otto (Emilio Estevez) is conned into helping Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) repossess a car. After getting the taste of the repo man life, Otto finds himself drawn to the profession. Meanwhile, a renegade scientist (Fox Harris) slips into town in a Chevy Malibu. In the trunk lies destructive evidence of extraterrestrial life. Repo Man’s most interesting comparison is probably Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Whereas the former was more a vehicle for Spielberg to test out big budget filmmaking and hone his voice, the latter runneth over with ideas
    • horror
    • slasher
    | July 7, 2016, 1:53 a.m.
    Despite John Carpenter’s Halloween laying down the rules for slasher horror, many of the films lumped into that genre were really just updates of the old murder mysteries. You have a killer, you have clues and red herrings, and the suspect is revealed in the final reel. The only concession to the times were in showing a bit more of the killer’s point of view. Schizoid belongs in that lot. A murderer stalks members of a therapy group, but the police who have to handle “40 murders a week” haven’t yet make the connection. It all seems
    • horror
    • slasher
    | Nov. 18, 2017, 7:48 p.m.
    Slasher horror may have no more sympathetic villain than Billy. Forced to watch his parents brutally murdered by a criminal dressed as Santa Claus, he and his young brother grow up in a Catholic orphanage. The Mother Superior is iron-sided emotionally (and later physically), and tries to cure Billy of his natural disdain of Christmas with harsh punishments. As traumatized children in these films are wont to do, Billy grows to be a tall, well-muscled man. One of the well meaning nuns finds him a job in a toy store. All is well and good until Christmas
    • horror
    • low budget
    • slasher
    | Aug. 13, 2017, 4:58 p.m.
    In my youth, as a frequenter of mom and pop and national chain video stores, I thought I possessed the fine ability to sniff out a unworthy film simply from the box art. Sleepaway Camp always failed my test. The box illustration showed an adidas sneaker punctured by a butcher knife, the hallmark of a by the numbers slasher film. I was wrong, I now know. What should have clued me in was how year after year, decade after decade, across all the stores, there always sat a copy of Sleepaway Camp. Other horror and exploitation films came
    • drama
    • horror
    | July 21, 2016, 10:20 p.m.
    The rifle’s sights settle on an old man across the street. He has a familiar face however, young Bobby Thompson is more interested in the gun. He returns it to the shop owner with a pleased grin. It’s the shop owner that notices the old man is horror legend Byron Orlock. Bobby smiles, pleasantly but aloof. He purchases the rifle with a check, accepted without any identification due to his “honest face”. Bobby leaves the store, opening the trunk of his white Mustang to reveal revolvers, semi automatics, shotguns, all carefully laid out. With the premium on
    • action
    • horror
    • military
    • thriller
    | June 17, 2018, 2:08 p.m.
    The sins of endless, overseas war come to roost when a former comrade of the Peterson's fallen son visits their home and becomes a fixture in their life. This is as far into critique of military-culture The Guest is comfortable with but its enough to fashion an solid genre-horror/thriller.
    • horror
    | Aug. 26, 2016, 10:28 p.m.
    “It was a dark, and stormy night…” It’s easy to see why The Old Dark House rarely gets brought up among classic horror, so little of note happens during the picture. Rather, the chief success of this James Whale feature is the oppressively dark atmosphere. It’s locked into place when a group of friends knocks on the door of the foreboding Flemm mansion looking to escape a heavy storm and their greeted by a bedraggled, monosyllabic Boris Karloff. The various members of the Flemm family are balanced in their insanities and physical decrepitude. Each claims to be the sane one,
    • crime
    • horror
    | Sept. 24, 2017, 10:23 p.m.
    “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” chronicles the real life reign of a masked serial killer who stalked Texarkana in the days following the end of World War 2. Had the “Town that Dreaded Sundown” been released just two years later, it may have all been different. John Carpenter’s Halloween had yet to establish the slasher genre and its rules. Without this template, “Sundown” feels adrift. Part real life crime, part historical period piece, part slasher, part 70’s character driven drama. But while investing in all these themes at once, it manages to fail magnificently at the last point.
    • horror
    • thriller
    | Nov. 26, 2017, 10:17 p.m.
    Wait Until Dark may be a conventional thriller and suspense picture if not for Alan Arkin as Roat. What kind of person puts on costumes to trick a blind woman? It’s not like Roat was unfamiliar with Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn). He’s staked out her basement apartment for days and learned her routine and that of her photographer husband. So confident in this when interviewing his potential accomplices for the first time, he meets them in Hendrix’s apartment. Though appearing to arrive late, Roat’s already planted a body in the closet. At first he registers as ridiculous,