4 Shots From 4 Films: Dellamorte Dellamore, Nadja, The Stand, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare


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 lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1994 Horror Films

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994, dir by Michele Soavi)

Nadja (1994, dir by Michael Almereyda)

The Stand (1994, dir by Mick Garris)

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994, dir by Wes Craven)

 

Horror Film Review: Nadja (dir by Michael Michael Almereyda)


When we first meet Nadja (Elina Löwensohn), the title character of this odd, 1994 film, she is walking around New York, wearing a cape and picking up men in bars.  She speaks with a thick, Eastern European accent and when she’s asked what she does, she explains that she comes from an old and very wealthy Romanian family.  As we quickly guess, Nadja has lived for centuries.  She’s a vampire, a daughter of Count Dracula.  Everything she says and everything she does is drenched in the ennui of someone who wishes to be set free but who knows she is destined to live forever in the prison of her existence.  Even when she has visions of her father getting a stake through the heart, it doesn’t provide her with the relief for which she was hoping.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that it was a member of the Helsing family that drove the stake through Dracula’s heart.  However, having killed the vampire, Van Helsing (Peter Fonda) finds himself in trouble with the police.  Apparently, the cops don’t believe Van Helsing when he insists that he was just killing a vampire.  As far as they can tell, Van Helsing just killed a man with a sharp piece of wood.  Fortunately, Van Helsing’s nephew, Jim (Martin Donavon), also lives in New York and can bail his uncle out of jail.

While Jim is dealing with his uncle, Nadja is meeting a woman in a bar, a woman named Lucy (Galaxy Craze).  Both Lucy and Nadja feel empty and unfulfilled.  Lucy, who happens to be married to Jim, is soon inviting Nadja back to her home and becoming obsessed with her.  However, Nadja is more concerned with her brother, Edgar (Jared Harris).  Edgar lives in Brooklyn with his lover and nurse, Cassandra (Suzy Amis).  When Nadja visits Edgar, she decides to take Cassandra away from him.  Of course, Cassandra just happens to be Van Helsing’s daughter and Jim’s cousin!

Nadja is an odd film.  On the one hand, it’s pretentious in the way that only a mid-90s, New York art film can be.  Director Michael Almereyda shot the majority of film at night and a good deal of it with a PXL-2000, which was basically a toy video camera that was specifically marketed to children.  As a result, the black-and-white images are usually dark and grainy.  Sometimes, it’s a bit of struggle to tell just what exactly is happening on-screen.  And yet, at the same time, it kinda works.  Those hazy images, combined with the largely deadpan performances of the cast, give the film an undeniably dream-like feel.  When we see Nadja walking through the city, we feel her ennui and otherworldly presence.  At its best, the film achieves a hypnotic visual beauty.  If ever there was an American city that benefits from being filmed in grainy black-and-white, it’s New York City.

The film plays out like a satire of the typical decadent vampire film.  (Nadja even has a Renfield of very own.)  Nadja is so obviously a vampire that it’s impossible not to be amused by the fact that hardly anyone else seems to pick up on it.  However, the film’s most subversive element is Peter Fonda’s performance as Van Helsing.  With his long hair and a demented gleam in his eye, Fonda totally upends all our assumptions about who someone named Van Helsing should be.

In many ways, Nadja plays out like an elaborate inside joke but it’s just strange enough to always be watchable.  David Lynch, whose influence is obvious, has a cameo as a morgue attendant and he feels right at home.  This deadpan vampire film many not be for everyone but then again, few worthwhile films are.

6 More Trailers Exploit The 70s


Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s time for another installment of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Exploitation and Grindhouse Trailers.  Today, all 6 of our trailers come from the 70s.  That’s actually kind of a coincidence but it’s as close to a theme as I could find so let’s go with it.

1) Superchick

Let’s start things off on a positive, empowering note with the trailer for Superchick.  This appears to be an only-in-the-70s type film.  For one thing, the narrator says “stewardess” instead of “flight attendant.”  What a pig.  (Just kidding…I think stewardess has kind of a nice retro sound to it, to be honest…)

2) Satan’s Cheerleaders

“Are you kidding?  I’m no maiden.  I’ve been a cheerleader for three years…”  Would I find this trailer as amusing if my older sister hadn’t been a cheerleader at the same time that I was going through my whole goth ballerina phase?  Probably.  I haven’t seen the actual film but, for whatever reason, I suspect it doesn’t quite live up to the trailer.

3) Countess Dracula

Ingrid Pitt, who died on the 23rd on the month, helped to bring Hammer films fully into the 20th Century with this film and the Vampire Lovers.  Here she plays the infamous Elisabeth Bathory.

4) Don’t Answer The Phone

This is not a trailer to watch if you’re in a paranoid state-of-mind.  This is a pretty bad movie but it does feature one of the best “psycho” performances of all time from the late character actor, Nicholas Worth. 

5) The House That Vanished

I have mixed feelings about including this one because it’s a TV spot as opposed to an actual theatrical trailer.  But I’m including it anyway because it is the epitome of everything I love about 70s exploitation.  The film is actually an English film that was entitled Scream and Die! which, in all honesty, sounds like a pretty good title to me.   However, by the time it was released in the States, Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left was making a lot of money and every horror film was retitled with a House-themed title.  Also, the “it’s only a movie…” chant is lifted directly from the advertising campaign for Last House On The Left.

6) Ruby

Finally, let’s end with Ruby.  This is yet another one where I haven’t seen the actual movie but from the trailer, it appears to be a proud part of the grindhouse tradition in that it not only rips off Carrie but The Exorcist as well.

BONUS TRAILER:

Yes, I’m including a bonus trailer!  Why?  Because I love you, that’s why.

This is for Michael Almereyda’s haunting and odd vampire film, NadjaNadja was released in 1994 but it features Peter Fonda so it might as well be from the 70s.

And, since I have to end everything on an even number (it’s a long story), here’s another bonus trailer just so we end up with 8 trailers instead of 7.  This is another unconventional, New York vampire tale — Vampire’s Kiss.  This is also known as the movie where Nicolas Cage actually ate a live cockroach while being filmed.  (Personally, I think of it as being the precursor to Mary Harron’s American Psycho.)