4 Shots From 4 Films: Guillermo del Toro Edition


Happy Birthday to the Master of Dark Fantasy.

Guillermo del Toro ranks high in my eyes as one of the best filmmakers working today. His films have ranged from an inventive take on the vampire genre, the mutant monster film, an evocative ghost story and right up to a dark fable. Guillermo del Toro has worked on both smaller, personal projects and the big, blockbuster action. He’s comfortable in living in both worlds.

No matter which side he happens to land at any particular time he always brings his own brand of visual style and storytelling to each and every film that tells the world that they’re watching a Guillermo del Toro production.

4 Shot From 4 Films

Cronos (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Cronos (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Mimic (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Mimic (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

The Devil's Backbone (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

The Devil’s Backbone (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Pan's Labyrinth (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Pan’s Labyrinth (dir. by Guillermo del Toro)

Halloween Havoc!: Peter Lorre in MAD LOVE (MGM 1935)


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I mentioned in my review of Body Parts that it was a variation of THE HANDS OF ORLAC, a 1920 novel by French author Maurice Renard. The book was first adapted to film in a 1920 silent starring Conrad Veidt. The story has been retold many times, in many different ways, but none have surpassed the 1935 adaptation MAD LOVE. This film really doesn’t get its due as one of the top horrors of the 1930s. Director Karl Freund (THE MUMMY) uses his background in German expressionism and, together with cinematographer Gregg Toland, gives us a Grand Guignol thriller that’s hard to resist.

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Peter Lorre makes his American film debut as Dr. Gogol, a brilliant surgeon obsessed with beautiful actress Yvonne Orlac. Yvonne is married to concert pianist Stephen Orlac, and rebuffs the strange looking doctor. Returning to Paris via train, Orlac sees the convicted knife-throwing murderer Rollo board, heading for the…

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Netflix Halloween 2015 : “The Stranger”


Trash Film Guru

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The label “Eli Roth Presents” is becoming positively ubiquitous on the purportedly “indie” horror scene lately — to the point, one could convincingly argue, that it probably doesn’t even really mean anything anymore. And yet, writer/director Guillermo Amoedo (who hails from Uruguay but makes his movies in Chile) seems to have at least something of a bona fide working relationship with Roth insofar as he penned the screenplay for The Green Inferno, so maybe ol’ Eli isn’t just helping himself to an air-quote credit as executive producer on the film we’re here to talk about today, 2014’s The Stranger (no relation to Albert Camus’ existentialist classic) — or maybe he is. I dunno. And I guess I don’t really care all that much, either, because it’s not like he would have all that much to do with the finished product here even if he did help cobble together financing…

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Horror Trailer: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


PrideAndPrejudiceAndZombies

It looks like they’ve actually gone ahead and made the damn thing. I remember writing about news of the Seth Grahame-Smith horror mash-up novel being green-lit for the big-screen all the way back in 2010. Yet, nothing much ever came of it. Directors were hired and the cast was set, but each passing year something would derail the project and things would go back to square one.

Now, over five years since that initial announcement back in 2011 we finally have proof that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has actually completed filming and will soon be up on the big-screen this February 16, 2016.

Horror on TV: Twilight Zone 3.17 “One More Pallbearer”


TheTwilightZoneLogo

In this episode of The Twilight Zone, bitter millionaire Paul (Joseph Wiseman, who also played the title character in Dr. No around the same time that this episode as shot) offers three people safety from a nuclear war on one condition. They must apologize to him for insults that are both real and imagined.

This episode originally aired on January 12th, 1962.

The Daily Horror Grindhouse: Murder Mansion (dir by Francisco Lara Polop)


Maniac Mansion Title

1972’s Murder Mansion (which is also known as Maniac Mansion) is an enjoyable Italian/Spanish co-production.  It’s been included in a few dozen Mill Creek box sets and it’s usually advertised as being a zombie film.  While I don’t want to give too much away about the film’s twisty plot, I do feel obligated to let our readers know that it is most definitely NOT a zombie film.  Instead, it’s an old-fashioned gothic giallo.

Murder Mansion opens with various people separately traveling across the countryside.  A few minutes is devoted to allowing us to get to know them and we quickly discover that they are all familiar giallo types.  There’s the cold businessman, the lecherous man with the beard and the driving gloves, and, of course, the free-spirited young lovers who have just met.  There’s also the emotionally unstable, Elsa (Analia Gade).

When a huge fog rolls in, Elsa is the first of the travelers to find herself stranded outside of a foreboding mansion.  She thinks she sees two shadowy figures in the fog — a woman and a hulking man dressed like a chauffeur — pursuing her.  As she runs through the fog, she runs into the young lovers, who are also similarly stranded.  They decide to seek refuge inside the mansion and … guess what?  It turns out that all the other travelers have decided to seek refuge there as well!

Well, it turns out that the mansion is looked after by a housekeeper named Martha (Ida Galli, a.k.a. Evelin Stewart).  Martha explains that the former owner of the mansion was killed years ago in an automobile accident, along with her chauffeur.  (Hmmm….)  Martha also goes on to explain that the village around the mansion is deserted because the villagers became convinced that the woman and her chauffeur were vampires.  Martha then invites everyone to spend the night.

As everyone prepares to turn in for the night, they can’t help but notice a few strange things.  First off, why is every bedroom decorated with a disturbing painting?  And why does the painting of the former, now deceased, owner of the house look so much like Martha?

As you probably already guessed, a mysterious figure soon starts to prowl around the house, killing the travelers one-by-one.  Meanwhile, Elsa continues to have her nervous breakdown and soon starts to have flashbacks to some unspeakable acts that were committed by her father…

Murder Mansion is an enjoyable little giallo, one that is full of creepy atmosphere, twisty plot developments, and memorably strange characters.  It’s actually a lot of fun to watch as our heroes creep around the mansion and try to put together all of the clues.  (It made me want to go out and solve mysteries!)  As far as blood, gore, and nudity are concerned, Murder Mansion is actually remarkably tame by the standards of Italian (and, for that matter, Spanish) thrillers, which makes it an appropriate introduction to the genre for people who may not have previously seen a lot of giallo films.

(Trust me.  I tried to introduce my aunt to giallo by showing her Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood and she made me stop the movie after the double impalement.  If I had been smart, I would have started with Murder Mansion and then worked my way up.)

All in all, Murder Mansion is a lot of fun and great Halloween treat!

October Music Series: Agalloch – Dead Winter Days


Throughout the 2000s, Agalloch unleashed a series of albums that have influenced countless bands across the metal spectrum. Not only did Ashes Against the Grain (2006) play an enormous role in ushering in the era of post-black metal, but Pale Folklore (1999) pioneered the folk metal aesthetic for a nation whose traditional genres stood leagues apart from the metal scene. (It would be another decade before Austin Lunn nailed a metal interpritation of bluegrass.) Most American folk metal bands carry Agalloch’s stamp of influence with them, and why not? Pale Folklore perfectly captures a sense of melancholy mystery that reflects a land whose native sons were slaughtered, leaving their secrets only a faint whisper in the air.