With the recent remake of Suspiria, I’ve been rewatching many of my Italian Giallo films. Although this distinct film style originates in Germany, it was the Italians who really took it away, and in no short thanks to Maria Bava and his film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) – a not so subtle nod to Hitchcock. The word “Giallo” translates as “yellow” and was inspired by popular paperbacks that were Italy’s version of American pulp. These murder/mystery novels often featured lurid covers with women being terrorized by a masked killer. Though the stylish influence of Giallo films can still be glimpsed today. e.g. The Neon Demon (2016), their finest examples were in Italy from the mid ’60s to mid-’80s. Rather than just go back and watch my favorites such as Deep Red (1975), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Tenebrae (1982), and New York Ripper (1982) I decided to track down ones I’d never seen before. Thanks to Arrow Video and their recently restored issue of Mario Bava’s colorful follow up to The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace.
By Jason Schoolcraft
A few weeks ago, I saw a list of someone’s “Top 31 HORROR/HALLOWEEN Films” (coinciding with the 31 days of October) and thought I’d make one of my own. It took some time but I decided to challenge myself and watch ALL 31 films during this hallowed month. I own most of the films on my list but, with the help of a few friends, was able to obtain the rest. The BIG question was – would they hold up? Some are new (2010 being the most recent) and some old (1931 the oldest ) and I didn’t watch them in any particular order. My list, as you’ll see, is pretty varied and comprised of eight zombie flicks, eight slashers, seven monster movies, three generalized horror films, three vampire features, and two films featuring the Devil, himself. So let’s dive in…
This past month has been something of a rollercoaster ride as my three teens and I moved into a new apartment across town. Almost immediately after signing the lease, we’d spend our evenings after work/school packing and lugging our belongings across town to our new place. It’s been twenty years since I’ve last lived in an apartment and I’d forgotten all that entailed; a hodgepodge collection of neighbors, frightening basement laundry room, and fuzzy “call box” that makes visitors sound like they’re taking orders at a drive-thru. About two weeks into the move, the kids were visiting their mother as I continued the arduous process of moving by myself. After my tenth trip up the stairs, I decided to take a breather and sit in my empty, new living room before making another trip. A few moments later, my silence was broken by the sound of another tenant entering the building and heading to their unit across the hall. At this point, I’d never seen any of my new neighbors with the only evidence of their existence a few scattered cars in the lot. For some reason, the sound of one of them moving about on the other side of the wall put me on edge. Who is this person? What are they like? Are they the friendly kind of neighbor you can borrow a cup of sugar from or the ones that call the cops every time your TV gets too loud? Of course, the obvious solution was to simply open my door and introduce myself but I had a different plan. After digging through a couple boxes I pulled out my copy of the 2007 Spanish horror film, REC – a film that’s not only stood the test of time but supports the idea that tenants are better off keeping to themselves! With only a TV and bookcase in the room, I decided to extend my break and watch it again while lying on the floor.
Having graduated Class of ’89, the early ‘90s heralded my transition into adulthood. Although I had a job and was attending community college, those hedonistic days were also spent partying and having drunken horror movie marathons with friends. Although we may not have had any trouble staying dry, the same couldn’t be said for our entertainment. The golden age of slashers seemed to disappear as fast as our teens with trips to the video store yielding fewer and fewer results. Needless to say, any ‘80s-style horror stragglers were a welcome sight and today’s SteelBook Spotlight is a prime example. Whether the film’s charismatic masked killer or its “movie within a movie” homage to ‘50s sci-fi films, Popcorn made for an unexpectedly fun night back in 1991. And now, nearly three decades later, it’s been given an upgrade.
Horror books often find themselves on the silver screen and with mixed results. The Exorcist, JAWS, and The Omen are positive examples of book-to-movies but, unfortunately, for every Misery, there’s a Dreamcatcher. Sometimes the book is inspired by the film rather than its source material but, either way, there’s bound to be differences; subtle or profound. Today’s vintage book discussion is more of a rumble than a review and between one of my favorite John Carpenter films and a book written by Dennis Etchison to promote it. So let’s jump back to 1980 and revisit The FOG…
The Daves would like to wish our fellow American monster fans a very Happy Thanksgiving while also giving them the bird! No, not just any bird, mind you, but a “battleship” sized fowl from another dimension! I’m referring, of course, to the 1957 quintessential “turkey,” The Giant Claw. This film’s not only achieved cult status for all the wrong reasons but has since gone on to become something of a Thanksgiving movie tradition (for fun people who hate football). In fact, about seven years ago I included it as part of my list of Thanksgiving-related genre films. I remember at the time wondering if I wasn’t reaching a bit by having it on there but those doubts were all erased last July during a “Hollywood Kaiju Strikes Back” panel at G-FEST XXIV. Although the Godzilla Festival revolves around Japanese monsters, Martin Arlt and Archie Waugh gave an entire hour to some of their American contemporaries. This included such atomic menaces as The Deadly Mantis and The Beginning of the End while saving the best of the worst for last. Our moderators introduced the film by informing is it was their Thanksgiving movie tradition. So I not only walked away feeling validated regarding my list, but also with enough tidbits to offer YOU this special Turkey Day blog. And if that isn’t a reason to feel thankful, then we just don’t know what is!
I admit that my love of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind inspired this year’s summer road trip. The Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming had played a pivotal role in the film and, after touring all the great UFO hot-spots in the Southwest last year with the other Dave, seemed like the next logical place to go. This amazing geologic feature is considered sacred to Native Americans and is also this country’s very first National Monument with no short thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt. Despite its history, I don’t think I’m alone when I site Close Encounters as my first introduction to it.
I was seven years old back when the film was released and, at that time, much more enthralled with another 1977 blockbuster, STAR WARS. My only connection to the film was via a “bendy” alien figure my Grandma bought me (Grandma always understood my interests better than my idiot parents did).