Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- Battle Royale (2000)

Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- Battle Royale (2000)

A class are transported to an island and its then disclosed that they have to kill each other with the last person left standing the winner.

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Brutal (as you’d expect) but also witty, humane and strangely poignant in places. This film is brilliantly acted, directed with style and is beautiful to look. Murder and deception has never looked so good. In fact the ‘killing for sport’ theme reminded me of one of my favourite films, Turkey Shoot.

And thats all I’m going to say. To say anything more would ruin the film completely. See it.

4 out of 5

Day 1- 31 Days of Halloween- The Nanny (1965)

Day 1- 31 Days of Halloween- The Nanny (1965)

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What a cracking film to start my 31 Days of Halloween with.

This is a British film which stars Bette Davis as a nanny for a family living in London in which a young boy has been sent away for supposedly killing his sister. The boy is due to be released after two years and return to his family home and under Ms Davis’ supervision.

The boy vehemently protests his innocence and insists that instead it was the nanny who committed the terrible deed. Is he right? Or is the nanny indeed guilty?

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Theres already the almost unspeakable taboo of a child killing another child within this film which gives the film a grittiness right from the get go. The household in question is steeped in gothic tension even though it is in fact light and airy. No Baby Jane mansion here.

Theres also the stifling formality of English life at this time. There are so many manners and formalities at play that are overwhelmingly suffocating and claustrophobic.

Within the film there is also a delicious generation gap which underlines this and presents a tangible ‘Old vs new’ scenario. The boy in question, Joey forges a friendship with a 14 year old girl who lives in the same building. She dresses like a hip 60s girl, all white lipstick and black eyeliner. When we see within her bedroom Joey gazes up at a Beatles mobile she has hanging from the ceiling and at one point we see her reclining on her bed reading a copy of the girls magazine Jackie which has a pin up of Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones on its back cover.

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Beautifully acted (especially Ms Davis of course, whose character has a pair of the ugliest eyebrows ever captured on film) and elegantly directed, this is one of Hammer’s finest films.

Of course this would only have been made with Ms Davis if Hollywood wasn’t casting the very best stars of yesteryear anymore. Every cloud has a silver lining. What was Hollywood’s loss was very much Hammer’s gain.

31 Days of Halloween 2017

31 Days of Halloween 2017

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Every day in October I will be reviewing a different horror film.

Some of the criteria I’ve used for the choice of films are

– a film from each decade from the 1920s onwards

– films from a number of different countries

– a Friday the 13th film as within October this year the 13th falls on a Friday!!! (mind blown)

The rest of my choices were films that I had wanted to see for ages but hadn’t gotten around to or were films that I have seen before but was dying to revisit (three of the films have ratings already by myself. These are some of the films that will be revisited and be reviewed again to see if my opinion has changed).

When I had my list of films they were then fed into an online randomiser so that they could be mixed up. With my randomised list I made one change- I made sure that the film watched on the 13th of October was the Friday the 13th movie. But thats the only change.

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Here are the films-

Day 1- The Nanny (1965)

Day 2- Battle Royale (2000)

Day 3- The Exorcist (1973)

Day 4- Piranha (1978)

Day 5- Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) and Tales From The Unexpected episode ‘Flypaper’ (1980)

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Day 6- The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971)

Day 7- The Fog (1980)

Day 8- Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Day 9- Phantasm (1979)

Day 10- Nosferatu (1922)

 

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Day 11- Blood Beach (1980)

Day 12- The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Day 13- Friday the 13th Part 4- The Final Chapter (1984)

Day 14- M (1931)

Day 15- Freaks (1932)

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Day 16- The Tingler (1959)

Day 17- Drive-in Massacre (1976)

Day 18- Kill Baby, Kill (1966)

Day 19- Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978)

Day 20- Ginger Snaps (2000)

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Day 21- The Beast With Five Fingers (1946)

Day 22- The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Day 23- Ringu (1998)

Day 24- Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

Day 25- Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

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Day 26- Les Diaboliques (1955)

Day 27- The Sadist (1963)

Day 28- The Lift (1983)

Day 29- Prom Night (1980)

Day 30- It Follows (2014)

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Day 31- Seytan (1974)

Please join me on this horrifying journey 🙂

Strike A Pose

Strike A Pose

I love the fact that a movie can be so original and iconic that it can inspire other films to be made. Think of Halloween (1978) and the tidal wave of slasher films that were unleashed in its wake.

This can also happen with movie posters and a film’s iconography. The Breakfast Club is a perfect example.

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The original poster from 1985

Take a pose that encapsulated the zeitgeist and not only is it ripe for analysis…

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The famous pose analysed

…but it is also open to being imitated and parodied by other movies. I love that films can nudge and wink knowingly at an audience from a movie poster or from a film magazine and know that they are in on the joke. The audience may not get the reference straightaway but eventually they will. And when they do they will marvel at the filmmaker’s ingenuity.

It took many years before I got the in-joke that these two films were making.

Below is the pose used by the cast on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) poster- a movie that was released the year after The Breakfast Club.

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Same pose- very different characters

Similarly, here is a publicity shot from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987).

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Freddy Krueger shows Judd Nelson how its done

In this case the teens who went to see The Breakfast Club could very well have also constituted the demographic who went to see the two films shown above.

I also love the fact that a teen movie has been homaged by two movies as deranged and demented as TCM2 and Nightmare 3. These references to The Breakfast Club feel like, on one hand, a playful co-opting of the original movie and its iconography but also a loving homage to it at the same time. These movies were as far away from John Hughes as possible and yet they still tipped the hat to the filmmaker of all things teen whilst showing that Hughes didn’t speak for all teens with his films. Some teens wanted more twisted thrills for their money. And thats exactly what they got.

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This never happened in a John Hughes movie

Dawn of the Dead (1978) and The Return of the Repressed

Dawn of the Dead (1978) and The Return of the Repressed

Last year I undertook a teaching course. At the end of said course we were required to give a presentation to the rest of the group that could last no longer than 30 mins and would be assessed.

We could choose any topic and so I chose Dawn of the Dead (1978).

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I’ve now uploaded this onto YouTube and set it to music from the film. Enjoy.

The video is HERE.

Something Weird

Something Weird

I became a fan of Herschell Gordon Lewis after reading about his work in the RE:Search book Incredibly Strange Films book (if you don’t own this tome then buy it NOW!!! Its been a major influence and point of reference in my cult film adoration).

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Around this time there was an episode of Jonathan Ross’ excellent Incredibly Strange Film Show devoted to Lewis and his work that I lapped up.

I then bought a copy of Two Thousand Maniacs on VHS in Forbidden Planet on first moving to London in the mid-90s. And boy, did it rock my world. Quirky, innovative, funny, full of character and gory as hell.

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From that moment on I became dedicated to buying as much of Lewis’ work as possible. Next came Blood Feast and then She Devils on Wheels. Both masterpieces, both seminal films.

Whats more my other cinematic heroes seemed to hold Lewis up for canonisation just as I did.

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The Pope of Puke meets his hero

I was gobsmacked when I heard that Arrow Video were to release a new boxset of his work. And from what I’ve seen its quite some boxset! Arrow Video go from strength to strength. I’m so glad they treat the films  that I hold close to my heart with the respect and love that I know they deserve.

The good people at Dread Central have just released this boxset unboxing video for us to salivate over-

Heres what is in the boxset via the press release-

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast
[Blu-ray + DVD – 17 discs] (October 25th)
Limited to 2500 copies!
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

In 1963, director Herschell Gordon Lewis pulled a cow’s tongue out of an actress’ mouth on camera, and in doing so, changed the landscape of horror cinema forever. That sequence was just one of numerous gruesome gags featured in Blood Feast, the film credited as being the world’s first gore movie. It’s no exaggeration to say that the modern gross-out movies of today owe their very existence to the pioneering efforts of H.G. Lewis. But whilst Lewis is most widely celebrated for his blood-and-guts epics (Two Thousand Maniacs!, The Wizard of Gore et al.), there’s more to the prolific director than splatter.

From tales of sordid photographers (Scum of the Earth) to sex robots (How to Make a Doll), from biker girl-gangs (She-Devils on Wheels) to youths-run-amok (Just for the Hell of It), and from psychic witches (Something Weird) to hard liquor-loving hillbillies (Moonshine Mountain), the filmography of H.G. Lewis reads like a veritable wish-list of exploitation movie madness.

Now, for the first time ever, Arrow Video is proud to present fourteen of the Godfather of Gore’s most essential films (including nine Blu-ray world debuts), collected together at last and packed full of eye-popping bonus content. So put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of good ol’ moonshine, and prepare yourself for a feast – H.G. Lewis style!

Features:

Fourteen of the Godfather of Gore’s finest attractions, newly restored from original and best surviving vault materials
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the features and extras on 7 Blu-ray and 7 DVD discs
Additional 2 bonus Blu-rays featuring 1.33:1 versions of Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Color Me Blood Red, A Taste of Blood and The Wizard of Gore [limited editions exclusive]
Additional bonus DVD: Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore documentary [limited editions exclusive]
28-page H.G. Lewis “annual” stuffed full with Lewis-themed activities plus archive promotional material [limited editions exclusive]
Newly illustrated packaging by The Twins of Evil [Feast edition exclusive]

BLOOD FEAST (1963) + SCUM OF THE EARTH (1963)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Blood Feast with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Audio Commentary on Scum of the Earth by Friedman
Blood Feast Outtakes
Blood Perceptions – filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) and Rodney Ascher (Room 237) offer their insight on Blood Feast and the importance of Herschell Gordon Lewis
Herschell’s History – archival interview in which Lewis discusses his entry into the film industry including Scum of the Earth
How Herschell Found His Nitch – Lewis discusses more of his early work in nudie cuties and the making of The Adventures of Lucky Pierre
Archival Interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman from 1987
Carving Magic (1959) – vintage short featuring Blood Feast‘s Bill Kerwin
Blood Feast Radio Spot and Trailer

TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964) + MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN (1964)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Two Thousand Maniacs! with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Two Thousand Maniacs! Outtakes
Two Thousand Maniacs Can’t Be Wrong – Tim Sullivan (director, 2001 Maniacs) on Two Thousand Maniacs!
Hicksploitation: Confidential – visual essay on the history of the American South’s representation in cinema
David Friedman: The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler – a tribute to the legendary producer featuring – Herschell Gordon Lewis, filmmakers Fred Olen Ray, Tim Sullivan and Bob Murawski
Herschell’s Art of Advertising – Lewis shares his expert opinion on the art of selling movies and how to hook an audience.
Trailers for Two Thousands Maniacs! and Moonshine Mountain

COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965) + SOMETHING WEIRD (1967)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Color Me Blood Red with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Audio Commentary on Something Weird with Lewis and Friedman
Color Me Blood Red Outtakes
The Art of Madness – visual essay on the recurring motif of mad artists as killers in horror cinema
Weirdsville – film Scholar Jeffrey Sconce on Something Weird
Lewis on Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, his 1966 children’s musical
A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! – Lewis’ 1966 dance short
Trailers for Color Me Blood Red and Something Weird

THE GRUESOME TWOSOME (1967) + A TASTE OF BLOOD (1967)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Gruesome Twosome with Lewis
Audio Commentary on A Taste of Blood with Lewis
Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! – the San Francisco performer on The Gruesome Twosome
It Came From Florida – filmmaker Fred Olen Ray (Scalps) on Florida Filmmaking
Herschell vs The Censors – Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls involving local censorship and the lengths to which angry moviegoers tried to stop him
Trailers for The Gruesome Twosome and A Taste of Blood

SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS (1968) + JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT (1968)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on She-Devils on Wheels with Lewis
Garage Punk Gore – filmmaker and musician Chris Alexander discusses the films and music of Herschell Gordon Lewis
The Shocking Truth! – Bob Murawski on his lifelong love for Herschell Gordon Lewis and what he has learned from Lewis’ films
Lewis on his 1968 film The Alley Tramp
She-Devils on Wheels Radio Spot
Trailers for She-Devils on Wheels and Just for the Hell of It

HOW TO MAKE A DOLL (1968) + THE WIZARD OF GORE (1970)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Wizard of Gore with Lewis
Montag Speaks – a brand new interview with Wizard of Gore actor Ray Sager
The Gore The Merrier – an interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 Wizard of Gore remake
The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Herschell Gordon Lewis “The Godfather of Gore” – episode of the Jonathan Ross-hosted documentary series focusing on Lewis’ films, featuring interviews with Lewis, producer David F. Friedman, actor Bill Kerwin, etc
The Wizard of Gore Trailer

THIS STUFF’LL KILL YA! (1971) + THE GORE GORE GIRLS (1972)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Gore Gore Girls with Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! by camera operator and Lewis biographer Daniel Krogh
Regional Bloodshed – filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons discuss the Midwestern roots and work ethic of Lewis’ output and how The Gore Gore Girls represents the shift into transgressive ’70s cinema that would dominate the American horror lan
Herschell Spills His Guts – Lewis discusses his career post-The Gore Gore Girls, why he left the film industry and his role as a leading figure in the copywriting industry
Gore Gore Girls Radio Spot
Trailers for This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! and The Gore Gore Girls

Wow! I need this in my life. Find it HERE if you live in the UK or HERE if you live in the US.

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