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Showing posts from October, 2019

Curtains (1983)

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When she has herself committed to a psychiatric hospital to prepare for a film role, Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar) is abandoned there by treacherous director Jonathan Stryker (John Vernon), who then invites six other actresses to an isolated mansion to audition for the role. One by one, they are stalked and murdered by a mysterious killer sporting a creepy old crone mask and seemingly seeking revenge...

Curtains is an interesting, if not always effective slasher film that possesses a few untypical aspects, such as an older cast, higher production values, snide asides at the superficiality of the film industry and celebrity culture, and some light commentary on the downside of over-ambition. The first act focuses on the duplicitous actions of Samantha as she is determined to snatch that starring role. When it appears she actually slips into catatonia during her stay at the facility, and is abandoned by the director, the stage is set for murder and mayhem as the action relocates to…

Color Out of Space (2019)

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"There was something of stolid resignation about them all, as if they walked half in another world between lines of nameless guards to a certain and familiar doom." HP Lovecraft, Color Out of Space.

Adapted from a short story by HP Lovecraft, Color Out of Space marks the return of cult director Richard Stanley, whose last directorial feature was Dust Devil in 1992, though in the interim he has also directed documentaries, short films and written/doctored screenplays, including creepy doppelganger chiller, The Abandoned (2006).

There have been many filmic adaptions of Lovecraft’s work throughout the years, most notably from director Stuart Gordon, who proved quite deft in treading the line between the sort of pulpy exploitation and hallucinatory cosmic horror Lovecraft is renowned for. Lovecraft’s work has often been described as ‘unfilmable’ as his narratives tend to focus on conjuring atmosphere, and describing the dread and fear felt by his narrators. Many of his stories c…

The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)

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This month marks the centenary of cult screen legend Donald Pleasence, and to celebrate I went along to a special screening of The Flesh and the Fiends as part of the BFI’s Projecting the Archive series.

Based on the Burke and Hare murders that horrified early 19th century Edinburgh, The Flesh and the Fiends blends morbid gallows humour with violence, shrewd socio-political commentary, and a dank and sombre atmosphere. When he cannot legally obtain cadavers for his research, Dr Knox (Peter Cushing) turns to resurrectionists Burke and Hare (Donald Pleasence and George Rose), who use whatever means necessary to ensure the corpses they procure are as fresh as can be... including murder!

While the dark deeds of these nefarious individuals have been adapted for cinema quite a few times throughout the years - Burke and Hare (2010), The Body Snatcher(1945), I Sell the Dead (2009) - The Flesh and the Fiends stands out due to vivid performances from Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, George Ros…