4 Shorts From 4 Daria Nicolodi Films: Deep Red, Shock, Tenebre, Opera


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films.  As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Today is Daria Nicolodi’s birthday!

Daria Nicolodi has been called the “unsung hero of Italian horror” and it’s an apt description.  Along with starring in several of the films that Dario Argento directed during the first half of his legendary career, Nicolodi also was responsible for the story of and co-wrote the script for Suspiria.  (Nicolodi has always said that Suspiria was based on a true story involving one of her ancestors.)  Argento’s decision to give the lead role in Suspiria to Jessica Harper, instead of Nicolodi, is often cited as the beginning of the end of their relationship.

(It’s also a shame — actually, a more accurate description would be to say that it’s a goddamn crime — that Nicolodi apparently will not have even as much as a cameo in the upcoming Suspiria remake.)

Nicolodi also appeared in films directed by Mario Bava, Luigi Cozzi, Michele Soavi, and several other distinguished Italian directors.  In Scarlet Diva, she was directed by her daughter, Asia Argento.

This edition for 4 Shots From 4 Films is dedicated to Daria Nicolodi!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Deep Red (1975, dir by Dario Argento)

Shock (1977, dir by Mario Bava)

Tenebre (1982, dir by Dario Argento)

Opera (1987, dir by Dario Argento)

Forgotten Horror: THIRTEEN WOMEN (RKO 1932)


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I pride myself on having seem almost every horror film made during the 1930’s, though once in a while an obscure title comes along whose attention has escaped me. But how on Earth did I miss THIRTEEN WOMEN, especially with a cast headlined by Irene Dunne (of all people!) and Myrna Loy ? This fast-paced thriller involving hypnosis, astrology, and serial murder is downright nasty, and has been cited as a precursor to the “slasher” genre… not to mention a whole lot of fun!

We begin with circus performer June Raskob receiving a letter from the mysterious Swami Yogadashi with her horoscope attached, predicting impending doom in the stars for her. But it’s her sister who dies, plunging to her death during their trapeze act (shown in gruesome detail), and poor June goes hopelessly insane. The scene shifts to exotic half-caste Ursula Georgi, who has the Swami under her hypnotic…

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Here’s The Trailer for David Gordon Green’s Halloween!


Somewhat under the radar, Texas’s David Gordon Green has had one of the most interesting and varied film careers of any modern filmmaker.  How many other directors would be capable of directing both Your Highness and Joe?

Green’s latest film is a sequel/remake/reboot of the horror classic, Halloween.  The trailer picks up decades after the end of John Carpenter’s film, with Michael Myers again coming for his sister (Jamie Lee Curtis) and, this time, his niece (Judy Greer).  However, Laurie isn’t just passively waiting for the next night that he comes home.  Laurie’s got a gun and she’s not shy about using it.

So, judging from this trailer, all of the original Halloween sequels never happened.  Needless to say, the two Rob Zombie films have been pushed to the side as well.  Whether that’s a good thing or not will depend on how you feel about those films.  I’ll be sorry to lose Halloween II but the one with Busta Rhymes?  Who cares?  Rob Zombie’s first Halloween was good but his second one can ride out of town on a mysterious white horse for all I care.

As for this latest film, the trailer looks good.  I have faith in David Gordon Green.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Clown (dir by Jon Watts)


Clown, a gory horror film, sucks.

I can’t say that I was particularly surprised to discover that it sucked but still, I was hoping that it would be better than it turned out to be.  That’s largely because the film itself has a fairly compelling backstory.  In 2010, director Jon Watts and his co-writer, Christopher D. Ford, uploaded a fake trailer for Clown to YouTube, in which they stated that the film would be produced by Eli Roth.  Roth saw the trailer and was so impressed that he actually did decide to produce the film.

Filming began in 2010 and the film spent a while playing the festival circuit, where it got the type of vaguely respectable reviews that are usually given to low-budget horror films made by amateur filmmakers that no one is ever expecting to hear from again.  In 2012, Dimension Films and FilmNation Entertainment acquired the rights to distribute Clown.  What followed was an agonizing wait as Clown was basically released in almost every other country in the world. except for the USA.  In fact, it wouldn’t be until 2016 that Clown would get an American release.  During that time, Jon Watts received deserved acclaim for directing Cop Car and he was hired by Marvel to direct Spider-Man: Homecoming.

As an admirer of Watts’s subsequent films, I was really interested in seeing Clown.  So, yesterday afternoon, I sat down and I watched Clown on Netflix.

Clown is the story of a stupid guy named Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) who tries to save his son’s birthday party by dressing up like a clown.  What Kent doesn’t know is that the clown makeup is cursed and that, by putting it on, he’s now allowed himself to be possessed by a demon that feeds on children!  What a dumbass!  Kent tries to wash the makeup off his face but it won’t come off.  He tries to take off his rainbow wig, just to discover that it’s now permanently attached to scalp.  His wife uses a screw driver to try to pop off the red nose but, instead, she just rips his real nose to pieces.  (The family dog eats the red nose and promptly becomes possessed.)  Kent keeps telling everyone that he’s been possessed by a demon but no one believes him.  Everyone just thinks that he’s a weirdo in clown makeup.

It sounds more interesting than it is.  For all the promise in the idea of a possessed clown, Clown doesn’t do much with it.  Clown is 90 minutes long but it only has enough plot for 30 minutes.  The remaining hour is basically made up of characters repeating what we already know.  We watch as Kent learns that the clown makeup is cursed.  Then, we have to follow his wife as she does her own research and discovers that the clown makeup is cursed.  Then, Peter Stomare shows up and starts explaining to everyone that the clown makeup is cursed.  By this point, I was yelling at the screen, “I KNOW THIS ALREADY!”

Throughout the film, there are hints of the Jon Watts’s talent but, for the most part, they remain merely that.  There’s an effective scene that takes place in a jungle gym at Chuck-E-Cheese’s and occasionally, there will be a line of dialogue or a movement of the camera that actually lives up to the plot’s subversive potential.  However, especially when compared to Cop Car and Spider-Man, Clown is an abysmally paced film.  It’s also terribly acted with Andy Powers neither sympathetic nor compelling as the possessed man in clown makeup.  Not even a reliable character actor like Peter Stomare can bring much to the material.

The general rule of most horror films is that, no matter what the threat, dogs and children usually survive.  The film not only breaks that rule but it breaks it multiple times.  In fact, there’s so much blood spilled in the film that I actually found myself getting depressed watching it.  Lacking both a satiric edge and any real interest in subverting the horror genre, Clown instead comes across as being unnecessarily mean-spirited.  It’s just not much fun to watch.

When it comes to killer clowns, stick with Pennywise.

A Quickie with The King: Boris Karloff in DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (AIP 1965)


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All you Cracked Rear Viewers know by now my affection for the King of Monsters, Boris Karloff . His Universal classics of the 30’s and RKO chillers of the 40’s hold an esteemed place in my personal Horror Valhalla. Karloff did his share of clunkers, too, especially later in his career. DIE, MONSTER, DIE! is one such film, it’s good intentions sunk by bad execution.

It’s the second screen adaptation of a story from the fertile mind of author  H.P. Lovecraft; the first, 1963’s THE HAUNTED PALACE, was a mash-up of Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe as part of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price series. Corman’s longtime Art Director Daniel Haller made his directorial debut, and the film certainly looks good. Veteran sci-fi writer Jerry Sohl contributed the screenplay, which was then tinkered with by Haller. Therein lies the problem; Haller’s changes drag down what could have been an exciting little…

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Film Review: Anonymous 616 (dir by Mike Boss)


Anonymous 616 opens with the camera panning over a fairly upscale living room.  It’s tastefully decorated, with a nice white couch and a coffee table and even a painting of the house’s owner.  Unfortunately, all of the furniture and decorations are now splattered with blood.

It doesn’t take long to realize that we’re looking at the aftermath of something terrible.  There are four people in the room.  One is lying naked on the couch.  One is slumped in a chair.  Another has literally been nailed to the wall.  One person wanders through the scene, in an apparent daze.  Is that person a survivor or was that person the perpetrator?

The film flashes back to the hours before the massacre happened.  The room is now clean and happy.  Four friends are having a reunion.  The owner of the house is Eric (David Abramsky), who is very proud of his possessions and his money.  (The fact that Eric is so open and honest about his materialism makes him far more likable than you might originally expect.)  Eric’s girlfriend is an artist named Monica (Lena Roma).  She’s the one who painted the picture of Eric that decorates the living room.  And then there’s Jason (Daniel Felix de Weldon) and his girlfriend, Jenna (Jessica Boss).  Jason is in the Army and will soon be going to Iraq for his third tour of duty.  Jason is proud of his service.  He also proudly states that, unlike so many others, he’s never suffered from PTSD.

The reunion starts out friendly enough, though there’s an undercurrent of tension from the beginning.  Whenever a group of characters all claim to be happy with their lives, you know that something bad is going to happen.  While Monica’s 12 year-old daughter (Bella Shepard) relaxes in her room, the four adults talk.  There are hints of dark secrets lurking in the past and flashes of paranoia.  After passing around a joint, Eric explains that there’s a new drug, one that’s described as being like DMT with “an extra kick.”  Everyone gives it a try.

And the reunion continues.  One person steps into an office and finds an anonymous message waiting on a computer.  “i’m the one who knows everything about u,” the message reads before suggesting that it’s time for the person to finally do what they truly want to do.  “B like God!” the message reads.  “Don’t deny your impulses for the next 4 minutes.”

Anoynmous 616 is a low-budget but effective horror film, one that will keep you guessing whether the messages are real or fake, supernatural or just a reflection of a drug-addled psychosis.  The violence is bloody and disturbing but, at the same time, it’s not just violence for the sake of violence.  There’s a lot of going on underneath the surface, much of which I can’t reveal without running the risk of spoiling the film.  In the end, Anonymous 616 is about more than just blood.  It’s about guilt, anger, repression, and betrayal.  It’s a film that invites you to wonder how well you know your best friends.  Well-directed and acted, It’s not always easy to watch (I had to avert my eyes during a scene involving a mallet) but it definitely makes an impression.

Anoynmous 616 is currently available from Amazon.

 

Cleaning Out the DVR #19: Things To Watch When You Have Flumonia!


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So I’ve been laid up with the flu/early stage pneumonia/whateverthehellitis for the past few days, which seemed like a  good excuse to clean out the DVR by watching a bunch of random movies:

Bette Davis & Jimmy Cagney in “Jimmy the Gent”

JIMMY THE GENT (Warner Brothers 1934; D: Michael Curtiz ) –  Fast paced James Cagney vehicle has Jimmy as the head of a shady “missing heir” racket, with Bette Davis as his ex-girl, now working for his classy (but grabby!) rival Alan Dinehart. Allen Jenkins returns once again as Cagney’s sidekick, and Alice White is a riot as Jenkins’s ditzy dame. Some funny dialog by Bertram Milhauser in this one, coming in at the tail-end of the Pre-Code era. Cagney’s always worth watching, even in minor fare like this one. Fun Fact: Cagney’s battles with boss Jack Warner over better roles were legendary, and the actor went out…

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