Showing posts from February, 2010

Blood Feast

Dir. Herschell Gordon Lewis

An Egyptian caterer (!) with ridiculously bushy eyebrows and a limp messily kills various women in order to use their body parts to resurrect a bug-eyed Egyptian goddess. His bloody work is not at all hampered by ludicrously inept detectives not hot on his trail.

This ‘plot’ synopsis is basically a load of old nonsense thrown together in a feeble effort to resemble a story that is really only required in order to connect a series of unrelated and astoundingly
badgraphic murder scenes - usually involving bewildered actresses and buckets of corn syrup and red food dye. Produced by exploitation guru David F. Friedman, and economically directed by marketing genius extraordinaire Herschell Gordon Lewis, Blood Feast abounds with an irresistibly impish glee and carefree abandon. With not a shred of decency or taste in sight, hoary old conventions such as plot and story are flung aside in favour of countless close-ups and lingering shots of blood-soaked boobs…

Interview with The Dead Outside director Kerry Anne Mullaney

The Dead Outside is Scottish filmmaker Kerry Anne Mullaney’s feature directorial debut. Gripping, atmospheric and quietly unsettling, the film unfolds as a post-apocalyptic psychological horror tale of loneliness, loss and madness.

A mysterious neurological pandemic has ravaged Britain. Two survivors seek refuge in an isolated farmhouse in deepest, darkest Scotland. The pair forges a tenuous relationship until the arrival of a stranger throws their world into turmoil. As well as dealing with serious trust issues, the three must also fend off attacks from the infected population besieging the farmhouse on an increasingly frequent basis…

The Dead Outside screened at the first Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival in Belfast last year and scooped several awards at the 10th Annual Estepona International Horror & Fantasy Film Festival, as well as garnering nominations from the likes of Frightfest, Night of Horror and BAFTA Scotland. It was released to DVD this week and I was fortunat…


Dir. Richard Attenborough

Down on his luck magician Corky (Anthony Hopkins) finds success when he introduces a ventriloquist's dummy into his act. His doll Fats seems to have a mind of its own though and spookily exerts control over Corky. When Corky seeks solace in the countryside and begins a relationship with his high school sweetheart Peg (Ann-Margaret), Fats takes matters into his own murderous hands...

With a script by William Goldman and director Richard Attenborough at the helm, Magic is indeed a classy affair that exhibits a surprising amount of nuance, subtly and stellar performances - especially from a young Anthony Hopkins. This is after all a movie about a killer doll. Isn't it? The film successfully juxtaposes the bizarre with the mundane, and mixes elements of psychological horror with the blatantly supernatural. This is highlighted perfectly in the opening shots of a cluttered flat full of bizarre bric-a-brac that sit alongside everyday household objects.…


Dir. Sandor Stern

As children, Leon and Ursula Linden (David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston) are taught important life-lessons by their father’s medical dummy ‘Pin’ – as in Pinocchio - voiced by their emotionally vacant ventriloquist father (Terry O’Quinn). When their parents are killed in a car crash things take a turn for the dark'n'twisted as Leon becomes obsessed with Pin; eventually dressing the dummy in his dead father's clothes and insisting that visitors to the house meet him. Eventually Pin begins telling Leon what to do. And who to kill…


Opening with a placid, vaguely spooky piano score, and exhibiting a stately creepiness akin to those melodramatic made-for-TV thrillers we all love so much, Pin gradually unfolds as an intriguing and fascinating psychological study of a young man’s descent into madness, brought about by his stifling childhood, emotionally frigid parents and an inability to relate to anyone other than an anatomy dummy. Absu…


Dir. Bernard Rose

Whilst researching her thesis on urban legends, student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) becomes intrigued by the legend of the ‘Candyman’ (Tony Todd) – the son of a slave who was brutally tortured and killed because he fell in love with the daughter of a white plantation owner. He is said to appear when his name is spoken five times into a mirror and he has a hook for a hand. Whilst carrying out her investigation, the sceptical Helen repeats his name and is subsequently plunged into a nightmare world where reality and fevered dreams become meshed together as she is stalked by the spectre of the Candyman and held responsible for a series of grisly murders. Could the legend be true or is Helen simply losing her mind? Can she clear her name before it’s too late and she becomes the latest victim of the formidable legend that is the Candyman?

Beginning with our protagonists discussing the power of legends and the subtext of folklore, Candyman opens with a familiar scena…

The Wolfman

Dir. Joe Johnston

Upon returning to his ancestral home to help search for his missing brother, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) is viciously attacked by the same mysterious beast that is revealed to have torn his brother to shreds. Quickly recovering from the ordeal, Talbot soon realises that the beast was a werewolf and he is now marked by the same curse – doomed to transform into a slathering beast under the light of the full moon. Can his father (Anthony Hopkins) and his brother’s widow Gwen (Emily Blunt) help him find a cure before he tears them limb from limb?

It’s an amazing feat that The Wolfman made it to cinemas at all given its troubled production history. The project was originally set to be helmed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo and various Nine Inch Nails music videos), however he was dissatisfied with the level of studio interference and was soon replaced by director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III). Countless reshoots, re-cuts and test audience screenings later …

The Legacy of Robin Wood

Whilst pouring over the latest issue of Sight & Sound I came across an article commemorating the life and work of film scholar Robin Wood, who sadly passed away in December, 2009. Wood had a profound influence over critical readings of films - particularly horror movies, (and in particular again - slasher films), with his groundbreaking work focusing on the concept of the ‘Return of the Repressed.’
Wood stated ‘The release of sexuality in the horror film is always presented as perverted, monstrous and excessive; both the perversion and the excess being the logical outcome of repression.’

These ideas were fleshed out in the three part essay ‘An Introduction to the American Horror Film’ (Part I: Repression, The Other, The Monster; Part II: Return of the Repressed; Part III; The Reactionary Wing). This essay was published in The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film, which was edited by Wood and his partner Richard Lippe. Wood was one of the first critics to note the overt…

Interview with Wyatt Weed: Part 3

BTC: Caitlin McIntosh commands much of the film with a performance of great conviction – and basically no dialogue. What made you decide to cast her in the role of Laura? How did you go about assembling the rest of the cast and crew?

WW: When casting began, we talked to all of the local talent agencies, and there are two or three here in St. Louis. We also staged independent calls throughout the city and at the local universities, just to see as many people as we could. We ended up getting an even number of people from all of these methods. Basically, we were our own casting directors. We also discussed attaching a "name" to the production, but basically couldn't get to one, so we let that go. We've since learned how to get in touch with these people.

Caitlin - what a find she was. She came from the main agency here, Talent Plus, and she actually came in to read for the part of a 17 year old girl, but when she walked in, she CLEARLY wasn't 17!! She was very health…

Interview with Wyatt Weed: Part 2

BTC: Why do you think the vampire is such an enduring figure throughout cinema?

WW: People have a really romantic notion of being a vampire. Men think it would be an awesome power to have, and women find them sexy and seductive, a lover who would take command of their senses. In actuality, it's a pretty morbid concept, to be undead and staying functional by drinking blood, but people seem to look right past that part of it!

The vampire is also one of those cinematic images that has done well with updates and re-makes. The basic story and character are solid, so every time there is an advance in sound or colour or technology, an update works very well. Vampires have gone from being talky melodramas to Technicolor blood fests and then more recently, action vehicles and teen romances, and we've even seen minority vampires.

Vampires aren't "Citizen Kane" or "Casablanca" - they can be re-worked again and again without offense to classic cinema, constantly up…

Interview with Shadowland writer/director Wyatt Weed: Part 1

Shadowland is director Wyatt Weed’s low-budget and provocative feature debut. The story follows the plight of Laura, a young woman who emerges from a makeshift burial ground during a raging storm, with no idea of who she is or how she got there. Is she reincarnated? Resurrected and risen from the grave? As she makes her way across the city – seemingly drawn to a particular part of it – Laura begins to slowly piece together her story; all the while hiding from someone who seems intent on killing her at all costs. Shadowland provides a strikingly original twist on the vampire film, combining gothic grandeur and tragic romance with post-Buffy feistiness and action. The film played at Belfast’s first annual Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival last August and went on to win the award for Best Director. I was very privileged recently to catch up with the writer and director of Shadowland, Mr Wyatt Weed and to have a chat with him about filmmaking, the eternal allure of the vampire, shoot…