Wake in Fright- Day 6- 31 Days of Halloween

Wake in Fright- Day 6- 31 Days of Halloween

A young schoolteacher trues to escape small town Australia and reach Sydney…but gets waylayed in the darkest possible way.

This is an amazing examination of small town madness, the unspoken madness of such a life and the brutality and destruction undertaken by men.

Its also an amazing portrayal of cabin fever being caused by nothing but huge open spaces.

The film features another insane petformamce by Donald Pleasance who is in top form. If this doesn’t act of enough of a recommendation then I don’t know what will. 

The kangaroo hunting scenes are strangely beautiful just like the rest of the film. The outback has rarely looked so gorgeous on film. However, what goes on there means that this is far from a 70s tourist board film.


The rediscovery of this film and its subsequent restoration restores my faith in humanity. This film is too important and brilliant to be left unseen and decaying in a basement somewhere. This movie would make a great double bill with Nic Roeg’s Walkabout.

The Pit (1981)- Day 5- 31 Days of Halloween

The Pit (1981)- Day 5- 31 Days of Halloween

This film should be filed under ‘Uncategorisable Gem’.

Lead character is twelve year Jamie. Hes obsessed with sex, his only friend is an evil teddy bear and he knows if a pit inhabited by a pack of mutant trolls called trolologs. Just your average movie plot.


This movie is so brilliantly written complete with quirky characters that its a joy to behold. The acting is pitch perfect and the feel of the movie resembles an after school special directed by John Waters.

Apparently this is to be released by Kino Lorber on Blu ray soon. Sign me up.
4 and a half out of 5

Eyes of Laura Mars- Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween

Eyes of Laura Mars- Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween

The campest horror film I’ve ever seen. Faye Dunaway, a supporting cast of gay fashion insiders (one of whom drags up to act as a decoy) and a theme song by Barbra Streisand. The campometer is off the chart.

However this isn’t just an excuse in camp folly. The murder scenes are brutal and gritty and the screenplay by John Carpenter is brilliant. The fashion shoots are also based on Helmut Newton and so they are a visual feast. 

An amazing film that is one of a kind.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre- 31 Days of Halloween- Day 1

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre- 31 Days of Halloween- Day 1

I first saw this classic when I was a late teen and studying for my A-levels in college in 1994. My friend taped this for me on the same tape as Last House on the Left. With it being copied from a copy the picture and audio were crappy but somehow this added to the experience of watching a film that at that time was banned in the UK.

Watching the film for the first time was a confusing experience. I knew that it was a powerful film regarding the horror aspect of the movie but I wasn’t expecting the humour that the film contained. It truly is gallows humour but its there loud and clear. ‘Look what your brother did to the door!’ barks the old man. ‘Get back in that kitchen!’ he then barks to Leatherface in a bizarre twist on the maternal role of the extended family.

I also wasn’t prepared for the surreal content I was seeing. The end dinner scene with Sally tied down to an armchair that literally had arms. The frantic shots of her eyes and indeed the veins in her eyes along with the buzzcut music that made up part of the soundtrack.

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The eyes have it- Sally’s hysteria

It took me a while for my brain to process and comprehend these components. I then came to grips with the films intention- these elements were like an E.C. Comics publication. If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was one of those comics then there would be a lurid illustration of a terrified Sally on the front cover strapped down to the chair during the dinner scene with face shots of the ghoulish cast of The Old Man, The Hitchhiker and Leatherface buried in a side panel.

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The armchair dinner scene

Indeed, Tobe Hooper has acknowledged the influence of E.C. Comics on the film’s vision. ‘I started reading [EC comics] when I was about seven,’ he told Cinefantastique in 1977, ‘I loved them … Since I started reading these comics when I was young and impressionable, their overall feeling stayed with me. I’d say they were the single most important influence on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.

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An example of an E.C. Comic- gaudy, surreal and terrifying in equal measures

The film’s beginning is a well paced introduction to the film’s upcoming events. With hindsight, whilst the build up to the first kill is well paced and crammed full of significant events you realise that this reletively gentle when compared with whats to come. The full horror of the ‘Saturn in Retrograde’ will be discovered at full pelt soon enough. The asking for directions to the old house resplendent with the old drunk/seer sat in a tyre on the ground, the encounter with the garage owner and the humour of the car window screen washer, picking up the hitchhiker and the first interaction with a member of the family, the rundown old Hardesty house with the spiders in the corner of one of the rooms, the old creek that has dried up long ago…most horror films would love these kind of events, visions and plot elements. The audience is already engaged and fascinated.

But then The Texas Chain Saw Massacre isn’t any horror film. With the character of Kirk entering the cannibal’s house a shocking chain reaction of carnage, insanity and psychosis begins. These elements are turned up to 11 and don’t drop down again for the rest of the film’s duration. This film has murder on its mind and will do everything to satisfy this need.

This movie is a physical, mental and emotional assault on the senses not just for the characters but also for the audience. The teens learn this on entering the cannibal’s house. But its not just the teens who have their senses assaulted. So does Leatherface. Hes just as confused, scared and freaked out by these strangers invading his home. But its the teens who are truly powerless and suffer the most. The dinner scene in which Leatherface starts pawing Sally’s hair but then invades her personal space by sticking his made-up dead skin mask into her face is intrusive, disgusting and violating. Tobe Hooper knows this and so turns this into a POV shot so that the audience gets to fully comprehend what the lead character is enduring at this time.

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In your face. The invasion of personal space and assault on Sally and the audience’s senses

At this point Sally starts gnarling, growling and crying as something emotionally primeval is brought to the surface. Its here that I’d like to celebrate the Marilyn Burns’ performance. Every time I watch this film her acting leaves me breathless. This feat has to be seen to be believed (like the film itself) as she portrays disbelief, terror, resilience and ultimately insanity. I realise that these are just words and do nothing to fully encapsulate this performance. How good is her portrayal of someone steered towards madness? Compare the end of this movie in which the bloodied, bruised and battered Sally is now being safely driven away in the back of a pickup truck to Dana Kimmell’s attempt at trying to portray insanity at the end of Friday the 13th Part 3. One is masterful, the other is half hearted and utterly unconvincing. The bad emphasises the brilliant.

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Insanity lived rather than acted. The greatest performance in horror history?

In fact, whilst most horror movies dream of one great performance that goes the extra mile, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has at least five. Burns’ performance is one. The performances of the actors portraying Leatherface, The Hitchhiker, The Old Man and Grandpa all pull out the stops and are batshit crazy and brilliant for it.

Another major reason why I love this film is because no backstory or explanation is given for the family or the events depicted herein. There are clues- the gruesome sculptures made of bones and body parts in the family home (taken from the real life case of serial killer Ed Gein on which the film is loosely based) suggest previous victims, conquests and adventures. The talk of family members being employed by the
local slaughterhouse and being the best at their job also suggests part of the family’s history (and their possible unemployment- the Hitchiker says that the airgun used to kill the animals ”is no good. It puts people out of jobs…”). The Old Man has a garage business as ‘he takes no pleasure in killin’ ” as is later disclosed in the later dinner scene. But there is no clear history given for the family or the events that the film depicts. This lends a massive sense of mystery to the film and gets the audience something to think about long after the film has ended. Explanation would kill this film as it would kill nearly all of the great examples of any genre. I just wish the filmmakers who inflict remakes on the world would take heed of this fact.

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‘Say (head) cheese!’ A family snapshot. No backstory, all the better for it

On closing this review I’d just like to speak about the availability of this film on home media. I watched the film for this review on Dark Sky’s 4K blu ray. I’ve never seen the film look or sound so brilliant. I never expected this film to get such a loving restoration treatment- but it has and for that I’m eternally grateful. This film certainly deserves it. This release is a far cry from the first time I saw the film on a grainy fifth generation VHS copy.

If you’re a horror fan and haven’t seen this then you can’t call yourself a true fan of the genre. If you’re a fan of film in general the same applies. Let this film get under your skin (pun not intended). Your life will be better for it.

Top 10 Movie Taglines Of All Time

Top 10 Movie Taglines Of All Time

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The lost art of writing a kickass movie tagline. Heres our top 10 favourite taglines of all time (in descending order). Have we missed any out? Leave your suggestions in the comments…

10) Frankenhooker- ‘A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts’

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9) Blood Beach- ‘Just when it’s safe to go back in the water…you can’t get across the beach!’

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8) The Beast Within- ‘Kill me, please kill me…before it’s too late’

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7) The Mutilator- ‘By sword, by pick, by axe, bye bye’

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6) The Texas Chain Saw Massacre- ‘Who will survive and what will be left of them?’

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5) The Funhouse- ‘Pay to get in. Pray to get out!’

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4) Taxi Driver- ‘On every street in every city theres a nobody who dreams of being a somebody’

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3) Remember My Name- ‘Everyone knows a woman is fragile and helpless. Everyone’s wrong’

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2) Futureworld- ‘Where the only way to survive is to kill yourself’

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1) Alien- ‘In space no one can hear you scream’

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The Trouble With Deadpool

The Trouble With Deadpool

Herein lie SPOILERS!!!

I had seen this poster for Deadpool and thought ‘That looks a cheeky and irreverent superhero movie! I must investigate…’

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I then watched a trailer to realise to my absolute horror that the man under the mask was played by of all people Ryan Reynolds. I instantly dismissed the movie because of this fact (well wouldn’t you?!). I then started to see the other posters for the movie and how clever they were. The art of the movie poster is at an all time low but this film had countless brilliant designs. Someone at the studio had actually used their brain (oh my). They had even designed posters that lambasted the generic and bland movie posters that we’re all used to seeing today-

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I love the idea of some sappy couple seeing the above artwork and deciding to give this romcom a whirl.

I then saw a review on TV in which the reviewer said that he laughed constantly throughout the film. The lead character was meant to be extremely potty-mouthed. In fact he was described as a sort of Roger’s Profanisaurus on two legs. That pretty much sold me to this movie.

But when I started watching the film I quickly started to think ‘What the fuck am I doing here?!’ This is a movie written specifically for the demographic who read comic books, live on the internet, never leave their bedrooms and possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome. Its also about as full-on dirty as an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

The character of Deadpool has not just one wisecrack for every action in the movie but ten. And hes going to use them all! This becomes tiresome really, really quickly. Especially as every wisecrack is aimed the geeky demographic this film exploits so fully. Other elements of the film are also aimed at this same group of viewers. The kind of people who think that its great for a film to play ‘Shoop’ by Salt N Pepa as if its both cool and funny. The kind of people who think that the opening credits are really funny because they don’t show the actors names but the character types instead (for example ‘moody teenager’, ‘gratuitous cameo’). The kind of people who think that the fact that Deadpool is a big fan of tragic 80s pop group Wham! is brilliant beyond belief. The kind of people I fucking hate.

Deadpool seems to overdo everything that it thinks is zany and quirky. Why break the fourth wall once when you can do it time and time again? Except this isn’t fine. If you’re gonna do this in a movie then do it once, do it quickly and then get back to the film in question. The same goes for being self-referential. Yes we know this is a movie, that it has Ryan Reynolds in it who has been in People magazine and that its based on Marvel comics. Now please don’t have Deadpool mention this to us time and time again. Oops, too late.

Strip away the clever marketing and all of the other gimmicks and you have a very conventional movie that relies on a tried and tested formula- hero (even though he says he isn’t one) seeks revenge on his aggressor. We learn through flashbacks what happened to him. There is a final showdown between him and his aggressor. He wins and even gets his girl back even though he is disfigured.

I feel like I’m focussing on only the negative points of this movie. I found that I could sit through it even though some sequences were buttockclenchingly irritating. The love story between Wade and his gal was touching especially as they were both outsiders (this gives hope to the nerds in the audience -they might actually find love themselves beyond a box of Kleenex.) And the fight scenes, when they weren’t being irritating (the numbers on the bullets idea wore thin real fast) were very entertaining.

Deadpool isn’t as brilliant or innovative as it thinks it is. But the studio couldn’t give two hoots about this. Deadpool is breaking all box office records know to man, there are sequels to be made and endless cross-over possibilities with other Marvel superhero movies to be milked for all they’re worth. Of course there will be fanboys who will hate what I’ve just written. But I don’t care.

Its great that this hoodie wearing demographic will now have something to quote other than Bazinga. Its also great that clever marketing and the art of the movie poster seems to have been resurrected again. But don’t tell me that Deadpool is the last word in movie innovation. Thats a joke too far.

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Coming Soon To a Cinema Near You

Coming Soon To a Cinema Near You

My love of horror films started when I was young. As I wasn’t old enough to see these films at my local cinema I took to gazing endlessly at the posters and lobby cards for them outside my local Odeon as I basked in their depictions of fear, terror and sadism. I was lucky enough to be born in 1975 and so I grew up when many classics of the genre were released at the cinema and then found their way onto the new medium of home video.

Any time after 9pm TV spots (short trailers for films made specifically for television) would be shown- and they certainly didn’t disappoint! I still remember watching the TV spot for The Shining when I was 5 years old. All of the most frightening and disturbing elements of the film distilled into 30 secs. I didn’t sleep for several nights after this.

It was a very twisted trip down memory lane when I discovered this on YouTube-

Its great to see that TV spots were also made for the many horror double bills that were shown. The posters for these provided even more sleepless nights for me.

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I first saw the poster for this double bill when I was about 4. Its still traumatises me today. Both classic films
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One of the best film posters for one of the best double bills ever
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And hows this for a brilliant pairing?