This week I'm talking about UK-based animator Robert Morgan. I first became aware of his work when his 2003 short The Separation appeared on Fantasia's short film compilation DVD Small Gauge Trauma and since then he has amassed an impressive library of stop-motion joints. It was at an all-night short film marathon in 2012 that I first laid eyes on his Morgan's twenty-three minute opus, Bobby Yeah.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sunday, January 14, 2018
There was some very exciting news this week that one of my favourite horror franchises is being resurrected. Blue Ribbon Content, the digital television arm of Warner Brothers is producing a Critters television series for Verizon's go90.
As we know, horror is cyclical and I have been anticipating the resurgence of creature features as fans and emerging filmmakers pine for a return to practical effects. I hope this is a step in the right direction.
BRC is also producing a comedy series called Golden Revenge that has an intriguing premise that sees discarded pets seek vengeance against the owners who abandoned them. Both projects are expected to go into production this year. I have no idea how I'll be able to watch these, but I will certainly be keeping an eye out.
Friday, January 12, 2018
This week's VHS pick is Dominique Othenin-Girard's 1990 horror flick Night Angel.
The ancient spirit Lilith (played by German actress Isa Jank) infiltrates the fashion industry in order to seduce the masses.
Wedged in Girard's filmography, between two best forgotten sequels (Halloween 5 & Omen IV) is this little under-seen oddity. You would never know from its innocuous coverbox, but this movie contains all manner of treasures. I really have to thank my buddy Justin Decloux for bringing this to my attention because it's chock full of all the insanity that made movies from this era truly great.
|Isa Jank as Lilith in Night Angel|
I'm not sure where to start. Night Angel is like a fever dream and one has to wonder if not only Joe Augustyn & Walter Josten were high when they wrote it, but if everybody involved was, as well. Litith causes everyone around her to lose control, but the decadence seems to be on full display before she even arrives on the scene – as in this movie was already a souped-up Trans-Am version of the eighties and Lilith just drives it off a cliff. This movie keeps on giving. Karen Black appears as the magazine editor and even has a young Doug Jones, as the biggest nerd who ever nerded - I believe the phrase “I just want to tickle her tonsils with my meat puppet” may have come out of his mouth.
|Doug Jones & Linden Ashby in Night Angel|
However, it is the abundance of special effects that are the highlight of this movie. Night Angel was in that sweet spot where practical effects were at their peak. Touchstone pictures like Society and Nightbreed were out and Dead Alive was not far off. To give you an idea of the pedigree involved here, not only did Steve Johnson work on Night Angel, but also the legendary KNB trio. I feel there must have been a carte blanche directive at play here because the sheer quantity of gags is astonishing. There's a character named “Woman with Faces under Breasts” for Christ's sake as well as a full body creature suit (and Jones isn't wearing it!) at the end for good measure. Man, those were the days!
|Night Angel at its most subtle.|
It is very difficult to quantify why this movie isn't better known, as it is so loud and abstract I can't imagine it being easily forgotten by anyone who watches it. Thankfully, Kino Lorber's recent Blu-ray release may get it in front of more eyeballs. In a decade marked by its excesses, Night Angel seeks to make you wonder how any of us made it through the eighties without bursting into flames.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Probably not the most clever of names to be sure, but call it a work in progress. I wanted to kick off the first month of this by showcasing some of my favourite short films of all time. First is Spencer Susser's I Love Sarah Jane from 2008 - holy smokes this thing is ten years old now!
I'm a big fan of horror films that also explore coming-of-age themes and there are few that do it better than this. It's also an opportunity to see Mia Wasikowska before her rise to the Hollywood A-list. Enjoy!
Monday, January 8, 2018
Hey all! I hope you are managing to stay warm during the deep freeze. I am just popping in to announce some changes around here. In 2018, I have plans for some fairly substantial projects unrelated to THS - plus four fests worth of programming duties - so I have to scale things back here a bit.
I stated before that I was shutting down my weekly news and trailer posts, but I'll still be doing VHS Fridays, hopefully with more regularity. In place of the stuff I've shit-canned, starting tomorrow I'll be showcasing horror short films as a weekly feature called... well I haven't thought of a name yet. Any ideas?
But don't you fret, I'll still be covering the usual film festivals when they come around because you know... free movies. I'm sure my output will decrease somewhat, but I'm dedicated to keeping up with the two-posts-per-week thing going forward.
See you back here tomorrow!
Thursday, January 4, 2018
It's 2018 folks! Not the greatest start considering man baby numero uno just basically tweeted “my missiles are bigger than yours”, but let's try and forget we're a button push away from living post-apocalypse Bruno Mattei style and talk about some upcoming horror flicks, shall we?
I'm happy that two of genre's hottest directors, Robert Eggers and Jeremy Saulnier, have projects coming out this year. Eggers is following up his brilliant 2015 debut The Witch with an ambitious retelling of Nosferatu. I wouldn't blame you for being skeptical, but if there is anyone who can do justice to this vampire touchstone, it's him.
On the strength of Blue Ruin (2013) and Green Room (2015), we should all be very excited about Saulnier's newest project Hold the Dark. Adapted from the William Giraldi book, it stars Riley Keough & Alexander Skarsgård and takes place in the Alaskan wilderness.
I'm going to offer the theory that due to the strength of TV's Legion and last year's mega-hit It, horror has bled into the superhero genre and given us The New Mutants. Not that I wouldn't have seen this already with Anya Taylor-Joy & Maisie Williams in the cast, but with a trailer like this, I'm so in.
It looks like we get some promising giant monster movies this year - and I'm not talking Jurassic whatever. After almost two decades of attempts, the giant shark flick The Meg is finally coming to fruition as a Jason Statham action vehicle. Any port in a storm I say.
Perhaps a little bit more respectable is Alex Garland's Annihilation with Natalie Portman & Jennifer Jason Leigh. I like the trailer, even though it does have that whiff of disposable sci-fi. However, some of us probably thought the same way about Ex Machina at first glance.
Then there is A Quiet Place. I find the “silence is survival” hook really intriguing, but it's heartbreaking that the first thing I thought about after seeing the trailer was not “man that is going to be intense” but “all I'll be able to hear during the tense bits is fucking mouth breathers chewing their popcorn”.
In terms of the A-list creepers, Winchester has potential. The scares in the trailer look old hat, but I'm counting on the production design of the house and Helen Mirren and company to add the necessary gravitas.
Out of the sea of sequels, two stick out as promising. Even though I don't really need it, I'll check out Strangers 2. They've had a decade to work on it, so hopefully it's good.
Then there's Halloween. I'm gonna give it a chance for three reasons - John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jordan Peele. No, I know Peele isn't involved, but when I heard about who was doing this new iteration of Halloween - or the Pumpkin Express I remember calling it - I thought what the fuck do these comedy guys know about horror? Then Get Out dropped like a fucking culture bomb.
So okay guys. Thrill me.