Posts Tagged Horror

Blood & Black Lace

Revised and revived on Mezzanotte for the two-month long giallo spotlight:

BLOOD & BLACK LACE

When it came time for Mario Bava to turn in his version of a Hitchcock movie, he picked up on that underlying current of malicious giddiness and ratcheted it up. In Blood and Black Lace, Bava is a peasant let loose to demolish a nobleman’s home during the Russian Revolution. There is unbridled celebration in the carnage, but there’s also unsettling tragedy. Bava employs a subtle absurdity, taking delight not just in demolishing the vacant aristocrats in his cast of characters but also in wreaking havoc with the language of cinema and expectations of what was, then and now, acceptable. Blood and Black Lace gave giallo the element that made it so much different from the early whodunits from which it evolved: the snarl.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Black Leather, Black Leather, Kill Kill Kill

I’m moonlighting over on the Cultural Gutter, writing about Oliver Reed, folk horror, and atomic annihilation in a quasi-follow-up to the article about Quatermass.

hqdefaultFOLK HORROR FOR THE ATOMIC AGE

These Are the Damned is a curious film that effectively pulls off the difficult stunt of starting off as one type of story but ending up a very different type. As one nears the end of These Are the Damned, one wonders how the hell it ended up where it did — but upon examining the progress of the film, it makes sense. It is equal parts crime melodrama, science fiction, and “atomic age” folk horror within the realm of pioneered by Quatermass 2. There is the remote setting, here the seaside resort town of Weymouth that despite its tourist trade still feels isolated. There’s the naive outsider in the form of American wanderer Simon Wells. There’s suspicious locals, headed up by juvenile delinquent Joan and her over-protective brother and gang leader King (Oliver Reed, who probably counts as an ancient and primeval force of nature).


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Dracula’s Japanese Vampire Bride

VAMPIRE DOLL

vdoll34Japan’s occasional flirtations with an interest in vampires are, like most things having to do with Japan and Western pop culture, a bizarre mix of revulsion and fascination with the foreign — a dichotomy that is almost certainly born of the interests of the young simply not lining up with the prejudice of the old (something that is not unique to Japan, or to any culture). One portion of the Japanese population can import and read home-grown vampire fiction as cautionary tales about the corrupting influence of the foreign on Japan, while another portion of the population can read those same tales and simply walk away having enjoyed a fun horror story about strange creatures.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Czech Madness and Argentine Giallo

Teleport City continues its unannounced transfer to Jet Set Cinema with one of the best and one of the worst

MARKETA LAZAROVAml11

Marketa Lazarová – the tale of warring clans in the 12th century – has been heralded as perhaps the greatest Czech film of all time. Stark landscapes, inventive cinematography, and a fractured, experimental narrative certainly make for an unforgettable experience.

SONNO PROFONDOsp1

A shot on digital video POV take on giallo from Argentina that makes too many mistakes to be regarded as anything other than “better luck next time” despite the promising high concept of a giallo style killer being stalked by another giallo style killer.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Ghost of Ghosts Past

badplace3

WE-ARE-STILL-HERE_DagmarWE ARE STILL HERE

A film that could have ended up nothing more than a Fulci pastiche rises above the label of “love letter to” and “throwback to” and succeeds on its own merits, delivering one of the best horror films we’ve had in a long time. Seances, creepy ghosts, possession, menacing locals, Barbara Crampton, gore, a house with a sinister past make for classic, old school horror scares.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Duty Now for the Future

BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW

bbraAt the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, directed by Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos, who directed Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra, and Leviathan), a period of quiet contemplation is required to begin unpacking everything one has seen during the preceding 110 minutes. The surreal swirl of stark futurism, psychedelia, and neon indulgence is…pleasantly overwhelming? Comfortably disturbing? Certainly it’s something that demands one’s attention even as it lulls you into a fugue state. It’s a difficult film for one to get one’s head around without setting aside a period to ponder its content and meaning; an oblique, stylish blend of giallo and science fiction somewhere between the riotous visual excess of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the fashion sense of Logan’s Run, and the clinical frigidity of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, within in which is a plot that plays like an unseen side plot that would have appeared in Akiraor an early David Cronenberg film.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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31 Days of Horror

Every October, I do the 31 Days of Horror/Halloween with the intention of chronicling my journey. And every year I never get around to it. But this year…THIS YEAR…things will be different!

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2015, PT. 1
babadook2“This year’s orgy of entertainment included a lot more recent horror films than I normally watch, but I figured it was time to return tot he genre I loved so much but felt exiled from by all the found footage and torture porn films. Turns out this year I went heavy on “lad meets monster girl” and “grief of a parent”. We also got in a lot of short stories, mostly by Robert E. Howard. And then I went to Ireland.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Cat Demon Blues

We’re celebrating Halloween early on TC.

KURONEKO

kuroKuroneko is a film that feels older than it is. Shot in 1968, five years after Shindo’s more famous horror movie Onibaba, Kuroneko hearkens back to the more humanistic period pieces and sword-fighting films of the 1950s. Kuroneko is also one of my favorite films. And not just because it has cat demon ladies in it. Though, really, cat demon ladies should be an enormous draw for anyone. Cat demon ladies and ghost cats have been around long before Ju-On / The Grudge or even before Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrated a sweet party of a lady, two cats dancing with handkerchiefs on their heads and a giant cat monster interrupted by some guy in 1835.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Madness at the Sanatorium

THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM

hs1“A gloriously perverse carnival air permeates The Hourglass Sanatorium, the sort of atmosphere that would be similarly at home in an Alejandro Jodorowsky or Fellini film. Bent figures in the threadbare finery of yesteryear — tattered cloaks, rumpled suits, crooked top hats — rub elbows with topless strippers amid the ruined relics of bygone splendor and in an atmosphere not of the timid and tempted soul seeking sin, being beckoned into the shadows by the luring finger or the sideshow barker’s promise of forbidden fruit; but instead of the brothel, the sideshow, the theater after hours, when those who labor to create our fantasies and illusions gather together to relax, to blow off steam, to end a long night’s work by unwinding in the company of one’s peers who, while not always pleasant, at least exist in the same frame of reference.”

 

And as a bonus, in case you are so inclined to read it, I moonlight as the Science Fiction Guy on a site called The Cultural Gutter and recently wrote about the first time I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SATURDAY NIGHT?

featrhps“Our intention, besides parading around and making the scene, was to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’d been preparing for this trip for days. Laying the groundwork that would allay any potential parental suspicion. Picking out the appropriate outfit. With very little in the way of codified punk rock to guide me, I had my own interpretation of what was appropriate attire for such a sojourn, whichwas a t shirt I’d sliced open in the back and stitched back up using old shoelaces. I’d then written “Joy Division” on the front in bright neon pink glitter puffy paint pen, because I thought that was a clever subversion of the gloomy melancholy one expects. I thought about fashioning some manner of Dracula cape, but it never came together. Finished off with a pair of ripped up jeans and a lot of Dep hair goo. Lookin’ cool. Or something.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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A Good Night’s Sleep

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS

valDespite intense social and political messages, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is not a grim, oppressive movie. It is not about defeat, but triumph. The film’s final scene, in which nearly every version of every character parades through the village streets and Valerie finally gets some rest, is in a way a premonition of the jubilant Velvet Revolution that would remove the Soviet yoke once and for all some nineteen years later. It is a testament to the determination of the Czech people to be true to their own character no matter the attempts to force upon them some external system of behavior fundamentally at odds with their own — a character perhaps best summarized by how all of this political symbolism passed by resurgent Soviet dominance without being caught. Overarching it all is Valerie‘s ability to remain steadfastly optimistic, hopeful, and curious despite all the attempts to control her, subjugate her, or own her. It is the story of whimsy’s triumph over the grim, of liberation’s victory over oppression.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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