Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This is it. The end. We made it.

I hope you enjoyed this past horror-filled month as much as I. Let's send it off with four scenes (some spoiler-filled) featuring the classic Universal Monsters!



Dracula (1931)



Frankenstein (1931)



The Wolf Man (1941)



The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)


Happy Halloween. Keep it evil.


- Phil Morehart

This is it. The end. We made it.

I hope you enjoyed this past horror-filled month as much as I. Let's send it off with four scenes (some spoiler-filled) featuring the classic Universal Monsters!



Dracula (1931)



Frankenstein (1931)



The Wolf Man (1941)



The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)


Happy Halloween. Keep it evil.


- Phil Morehart

Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Night of the Living Dead (1968)



Night of the Living Dead (1990)


Remakes generally fall into the "bad idea" category, but on occassion one comes along that holds its own against the original work. Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead (1990) is one such film. Yes, George A. Romero's 1968 original is an untouchable zombie masterpiece, but Savini brings a unique flair to the events, most notably regarding the undead.

A make-up FX pioneer, Savini amps up the gore and realism to breaking degrees. He and his crew visited morgues and funeral homes during pre-production and their preparations hit home. These zombies really look dead. The effects are unsettling, as some of the undead genuinely garner a touch of sympathy--that is, until they bear teeth.

As for the narrative, the remake basically adheres to the source material, but with the nihilistic tone turned up a few notches. Nothing more is necessary. Savini's past working-relationship with Romero (he did FX for both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, among others) certainly impacted this creative decision. He knew exactly what to do and what not to do to keep kosher with the legacy. And having the shadow of Romero literally over his shoulder every day (the big man executive produced and wrote the remake script) probably played a part too, you think? (A side note: the remake was produced to recoup monies lost due to Romero's lack of copywright on the original work. That's why a bajillion crud copies of Night of the Living Dead float the home video market).

The remake is not without a few very notable liberties from the original, though. The character Barbara was given some backbone, transforming from the original film's blubbering mess to a take-charge sister. Savini/Romero also monkeyed with the ending, but I'm not giving that info up here. No way.


- Phil Morehart



Night of the Living Dead (1968)



Night of the Living Dead (1990)


Remakes generally fall into the "bad idea" category, but on occassion one comes along that holds its own against the original work. Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead (1990) is one such film. Yes, George A. Romero's 1968 original is an untouchable zombie masterpiece, but Savini brings a unique flair to the events, most notably regarding the undead.

A make-up FX pioneer, Savini amps up the gore and realism to breaking degrees. He and his crew visited morgues and funeral homes during pre-production and their preparations hit home. These zombies really look dead. The effects are unsettling, as some of the undead genuinely garner a touch of sympathy--that is, until they bear teeth.

As for the narrative, the remake basically adheres to the source material, but with the nihilistic tone turned up a few notches. Nothing more is necessary. Savini's past working-relationship with Romero (he did FX for both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, among others) certainly impacted this creative decision. He knew exactly what to do and what not to do to keep kosher with the legacy. And having the shadow of Romero literally over his shoulder every day (the big man executive produced and wrote the remake script) probably played a part too, you think? (A side note: the remake was produced to recoup monies lost due to Romero's lack of copywright on the original work. That's why a bajillion crud copies of Night of the Living Dead float the home video market).

The remake is not without a few very notable liberties from the original, though. The character Barbara was given some backbone, transforming from the original film's blubbering mess to a take-charge sister. Savini/Romero also monkeyed with the ending, but I'm not giving that info up here. No way.


- Phil Morehart

Monday, October 29, 2007



Ghost Story is a spooker that always seems to fall through the cracks when "scary movie list time" rolls around. Not only is it genuinely creepy, but it also features a powerhouse quartet of old school stage and screen legends--Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Based on Peter Straub's best-selling novel, the film follows the events that befall the elderly members of the Chowder Society--a social club that meets to drink and spin ghost stories--when their tainted past finally returns to haunt them. It seems that, in their reckless youth, these gents did a young lady in and she's come back from the grave 50 years later to settle the score.


- Phil Morehart



Ghost Story is a spooker that always seems to fall through the cracks when "scary movie list time" rolls around. Not only is it genuinely creepy, but it also features a powerhouse quartet of old school stage and screen legends--Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Based on Peter Straub's best-selling novel, the film follows the events that befall the elderly members of the Chowder Society--a social club that meets to drink and spin ghost stories--when their tainted past finally returns to haunt them. It seems that, in their reckless youth, these gents did a young lady in and she's come back from the grave 50 years later to settle the score.


- Phil Morehart

Sunday, October 28, 2007



Before hitting commercial and artistic pay-dirt with The Lord of the Rings series and King Kong, Kiwi director Peter Jackson was best known for his low budget, tongue-in-cheek, rude and gross genre outings--the sci-fi, aliens-amongst-us flick, Bad Taste, the perverted puppet film, Meet the Feebles, and the zenith of splatter comedy, Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead), which finds a New Zealand village over-run by zombies thanks to a diseased monkey whose bite transforms the living into the flesh-eating undead.

Dead Alive is over-the-top in every regard, from its frantic camerawork and pacing to its silly script and exagerrated acting. The gore steals the show, though. Mounds upon mounds of the red stuff gloop, glop, spurt and squirt thoughout, culminating in what is quite possibly one of the goriest and grossed bits committed to cinema: the infamous "lawnmower scene," in which a man uses the trusty landscaping tool to dispatch a horde of zombies. The sequence is both hilarious and nauseating, and best not viewed while eating.


- Phil Morehart



Before hitting commercial and artistic pay-dirt with The Lord of the Rings series and King Kong, Kiwi director Peter Jackson was best known for his low budget, tongue-in-cheek, rude and gross genre outings--the sci-fi, aliens-amongst-us flick, Bad Taste, the perverted puppet film, Meet the Feebles, and the zenith of splatter comedy, Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead), which finds a New Zealand village over-run by zombies thanks to a diseased monkey whose bite transforms the living into the flesh-eating undead.

Dead Alive is over-the-top in every regard, from its frantic camerawork and pacing to its silly script and exagerrated acting. The gore steals the show, though. Mounds upon mounds of the red stuff gloop, glop, spurt and squirt thoughout, culminating in what is quite possibly one of the goriest and grossed bits committed to cinema: the infamous "lawnmower scene," in which a man uses the trusty landscaping tool to dispatch a horde of zombies. The sequence is both hilarious and nauseating, and best not viewed while eating.


- Phil Morehart

Saturday, October 27, 2007



"She's alive! ALIVE!"

The creation scene from James Whale's 1935 masterpiece, The Bride of Frankenstein, that finds the vastly underrated Colin Clive screaming his infamous lines once again* at the sight of his monster.

*Actually, Clive yells, "It alive!," in the original 1931 Frankenstein, but why be picky?


- Phil Morehart



"She's alive! ALIVE!"

The creation scene from James Whale's 1935 masterpiece, The Bride of Frankenstein, that finds the vastly underrated Colin Clive screaming his infamous lines once again* at the sight of his monster.

*Actually, Clive yells, "It alive!," in the original 1931 Frankenstein, but why be picky?


- Phil Morehart

Friday, October 26, 2007



Because it's a Friday night and we should all be getting our groove on...

The 1957 Hammer Films horror classic The Curse of Frankenstein meets Destiny's Child--probably the funniest clip thus far. Or the scariest. I'm still wrapping my head around it.

Warning: spoilers galore.


- Phil Morehart



Because it's a Friday night and we should all be getting our groove on...

The 1957 Hammer Films horror classic The Curse of Frankenstein meets Destiny's Child--probably the funniest clip thus far. Or the scariest. I'm still wrapping my head around it.

Warning: spoilers galore.


- Phil Morehart

Thursday, October 25, 2007



Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a demented work from frame one, and it all culminates in the infamous "dinner table" scene that finds a young woman (played with shrieking perfection by Marilyn Burns) face-to-face with the psychotic cannibal family who've made prey of her and her friends. It's a disturbing, disorienting, panic-filled seven minutes. The fact that it's nearly (and I stress, nearly) devoid of physical violence and bloodshed is a testament to Hooper's skill and restraint as a filmmaker, even at such a young age.


- Phil Morehart



Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a demented work from frame one, and it all culminates in the infamous "dinner table" scene that finds a young woman (played with shrieking perfection by Marilyn Burns) face-to-face with the psychotic cannibal family who've made prey of her and her friends. It's a disturbing, disorienting, panic-filled seven minutes. The fact that it's nearly (and I stress, nearly) devoid of physical violence and bloodshed is a testament to Hooper's skill and restraint as a filmmaker, even at such a young age.


- Phil Morehart

Wednesday, October 24, 2007



Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood Jr.'s 1955 great, Bride of the Monster.



Martin Landau as Lugosi in Tim Burton's affectionate 1994 bio-pic, Ed Wood.


Ahhh, if only Lugosi could act as well as Landau.


- Phil Morehart



Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood Jr.'s 1955 great, Bride of the Monster.



Martin Landau as Lugosi in Tim Burton's affectionate 1994 bio-pic, Ed Wood.


Ahhh, if only Lugosi could act as well as Landau.


- Phil Morehart

Tuesday, October 23, 2007



Lucio Fulci's Zombie is awesome for many reasons--the overwhelmingly dreadful vibe, the truly gross zombies, the '70s synth score, the famous eye-gouging scene, the "zombies take Manhattan" finale... However, the bit that everyone remembers--and that makes Zombie truly a horror classic--is the infamous underwater fight between zombie and shark.

Not only does the zombie whip tail, it also takes a bite out of its opponent!

But wouldn't that turn the shark into a zombie?


- Phil Morehart



Lucio Fulci's Zombie is awesome for many reasons--the overwhelmingly dreadful vibe, the truly gross zombies, the '70s synth score, the famous eye-gouging scene, the "zombies take Manhattan" finale... However, the bit that everyone remembers--and that makes Zombie truly a horror classic--is the infamous underwater fight between zombie and shark.

Not only does the zombie whip tail, it also takes a bite out of its opponent!

But wouldn't that turn the shark into a zombie?


- Phil Morehart

Monday, October 22, 2007



In this brief clip from the grandfather of the "torture porn" genre, the Japanese film, Evil Dead Trap, a Rube Goldberg-like device leads to some nasty business. As you can guess, it gets bloody. Really bloody.


- Phil Morehart



In this brief clip from the grandfather of the "torture porn" genre, the Japanese film, Evil Dead Trap, a Rube Goldberg-like device leads to some nasty business. As you can guess, it gets bloody. Really bloody.


- Phil Morehart

Sunday, October 21, 2007



Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is no horror film, but the scene in which young Pee Wee encounters truckdriver Large Marge on a dark lonely stretch of desert highway bears all the makings of one.

If you didn't jump out of your seat upon first seeing this bit, you have no soul. Or, you're an adult. For the generation who saw this film as kids during its initial 1985 release (myself included), the Large Marge sequence had a definite impact. The sudden blast of cartoonish hideousness was a full force assault on young brains not expecting such craziness in a supposed kid's film. It was a terrifying jolt, but it didn't keep kids away from the film. If anything, it drew them in as schoolyard word of mouth spread. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure became a staple viewed over and over, even though, for some, Large Marge was seen only through fingers held tight to the eyes.

At least that's how I remember it.


- Phil Morehart



Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is no horror film, but the scene in which young Pee Wee encounters truckdriver Large Marge on a dark lonely stretch of desert highway bears all the makings of one.

If you didn't jump out of your seat upon first seeing this bit, you have no soul. Or, you're an adult. For the generation who saw this film as kids during its initial 1985 release (myself included), the Large Marge sequence had a definite impact. The sudden blast of cartoonish hideousness was a full force assault on young brains not expecting such craziness in a supposed kid's film. It was a terrifying jolt, but it didn't keep kids away from the film. If anything, it drew them in as schoolyard word of mouth spread. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure became a staple viewed over and over, even though, for some, Large Marge was seen only through fingers held tight to the eyes.

At least that's how I remember it.


- Phil Morehart

Saturday, October 20, 2007



Forget Andrew Lloyd Webber, this is the real thing.

One of cinema's first real jump scare moments occurred in the 1925 silent classic, The Phantom of the Opera, when young opera singer Christine unmasks her mysterious mentor/captor Erik, played by the great Lon Chaney. Chaney's grotesque make-up jolted unsuspecting audiences and expelled many from theatres in fright. However, despite appearances, the love-lorn, scarred phantom earned sympathy and pity by film's end--a true testament to Chaney's strength as an actor.


- Phil Morehart



Forget Andrew Lloyd Webber, this is the real thing.

One of cinema's first real jump scare moments occurred in the 1925 silent classic, The Phantom of the Opera, when young opera singer Christine unmasks her mysterious mentor/captor Erik, played by the great Lon Chaney. Chaney's grotesque make-up jolted unsuspecting audiences and expelled many from theatres in fright. However, despite appearances, the love-lorn, scarred phantom earned sympathy and pity by film's end--a true testament to Chaney's strength as an actor.


- Phil Morehart

Friday, October 19, 2007





It's double feature time again!

Z-film auteur Ed Wood Jr. is best known for his amazingly bad, but irresistibly watchable films (Glen or Glenda, Night of the Ghouls, Plan 9 from Outer Space, to name a few), but, he was also a prolific writer of equally stinky trash novels. Wood adapted one such novel into screenplay form for the 1965 nudie monster film, Orgy of the Dead. The film follows a horror writer and his girlfriend who drive into the sticks to find an ancient cemetery, hoping that it will serve as inspiration for a future book. After crashing the car, they stumble into their destination, but it's filled with dead striptease artists dancing for their souls before the Lord of the Underword and his Elvira-looking companion. Oh yeah, the Wolfman and Mummy are there, too.

Though Wood does not direct (Stephen C. Apostolof is the man behind the camera), the film bears every hallmark of a classic Ed Wood Jr. production--bottom basement sets, terrible acting and direction, warped dialogue, and the "psychic" Criswell!

The clips above were two of many Orgy of the Dead gems found on the ol' YouTube. I highly recommend wasting a few hours and brain cells to watch them.


- Phil Morehart





It's double feature time again!

Z-film auteur Ed Wood Jr. is best known for his amazingly bad, but irresistibly watchable films (Glen or Glenda, Night of the Ghouls, Plan 9 from Outer Space, to name a few), but, he was also a prolific writer of equally stinky trash novels. Wood adapted one such novel into screenplay form for the 1965 nudie monster film, Orgy of the Dead. The film follows a horror writer and his girlfriend who drive into the sticks to find an ancient cemetery, hoping that it will serve as inspiration for a future book. After crashing the car, they stumble into their destination, but it's filled with dead striptease artists dancing for their souls before the Lord of the Underword and his Elvira-looking companion. Oh yeah, the Wolfman and Mummy are there, too.

Though Wood does not direct (Stephen C. Apostolof is the man behind the camera), the film bears every hallmark of a classic Ed Wood Jr. production--bottom basement sets, terrible acting and direction, warped dialogue, and the "psychic" Criswell!

The clips above were two of many Orgy of the Dead gems found on the ol' YouTube. I highly recommend wasting a few hours and brain cells to watch them.


- Phil Morehart

Facets Features is still recovering from the non-stop movie-watching action that was the Chicago International Film Festival (stay tuned for our final report), but we still managed to sneak in some non-fest fare.

On our current playlists...

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007) - Despite the fact that on-screen brothers Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman look more like me than each other, I played along and tapped my foot to the beat of Wes Anderson's drum. The movie is wonderfully colorful and may inspire you to run after your own train in India. (Rosemary Higgins)

American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) - I was underwhelmed by Mary Harron's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' uber-violent satire on masculinity and the '80s upon its initial release, but a recent re-viewing changed my mind. The film doesn't hold a candle to the novel, but it succeeds precisely because of its differences. Harron and co-scripter Guinevere Turner make the humor more obvious, which creates an uneasy, creepy vibe throughout. They only allude to the book's more gruesome set pieces, as well, instead allowing viewers to speculate on the violence for themselves--a move that many contemporary horror directors would be wise to adapt. (Phil Morehart)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) - If Viggo Mortensen isn't awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his stellar performance, I quit. (PM)

Adanggaman (Roger Gnoan M'Bala, 2000) - My review of this Ivory Coast production set amidst the horrors of the 17th century African slave trade can be found at Cincinnati CityBeat's website. (PM)

Facets Features is still recovering from the non-stop movie-watching action that was the Chicago International Film Festival (stay tuned for our final report), but we still managed to sneak in some non-fest fare.

On our current playlists...

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007) - Despite the fact that on-screen brothers Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman look more like me than each other, I played along and tapped my foot to the beat of Wes Anderson's drum. The movie is wonderfully colorful and may inspire you to run after your own train in India. (Rosemary Higgins)

American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) - I was underwhelmed by Mary Harron's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' uber-violent satire on masculinity and the '80s upon its initial release, but a recent re-viewing changed my mind. The film doesn't hold a candle to the novel, but it succeeds precisely because of its differences. Harron and co-scripter Guinevere Turner make the humor more obvious, which creates an uneasy, creepy vibe throughout. They only allude to the book's more gruesome set pieces, as well, instead allowing viewers to speculate on the violence for themselves--a move that many contemporary horror directors would be wise to adapt. (Phil Morehart)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) - If Viggo Mortensen isn't awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his stellar performance, I quit. (PM)

Adanggaman (Roger Gnoan M'Bala, 2000) - My review of this Ivory Coast production set amidst the horrors of the 17th century African slave trade can be found at Cincinnati CityBeat's website. (PM)

Thursday, October 18, 2007



The scene from Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho that made a generation afraid to take a shower.

The ingredients for this masterpiece?

50 cuts, between 71 to 78 angles, screeching strings, chocolate syrup and casaba melons.


- Phil Morehart



The scene from Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho that made a generation afraid to take a shower.

The ingredients for this masterpiece?

50 cuts, between 71 to 78 angles, screeching strings, chocolate syrup and casaba melons.


- Phil Morehart

Wednesday, October 17, 2007



The Lost Boys is a dumb film. It finally dawned on me after two hours of trolling YouTube for a decent, watchable clip from the big budget, 1987 teen vampire flick. None exist, but there are dozens upon dozens of terrible fan-created music video homages to the film. I watched them all.

No doubt, nostalgia blinded me to The Lost Boys ridiculousness: it was the first R-rated film that I saw in the theatre as a kid without my folks knowing, and its soundtrack--featuring Echo and the Bunnymen, a then-cool INXS, Roger Daltry, Tim Cappello (the buff sax player at the beach party) and more--was a daily listen back then. I wore that cassette out.

Viewed now, The Lost Boys is dated. It's mildly entertaining, but mostly a mess of '80s fashion and music, with neglected horror and scares. Had these elements been on equal ground*, this film would have had legs. (*see the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series)

The above clip details the final battle between the hoodlum vampires led by Kiefer Sutherland and the good pseudo-vampires/vampire hunters, comprised of Jason Patrick, Jami Gertz, the Coreys (Haim and Feldman, of course), and others. Those on guard for spoilers, blood, gore and head explosions--you've been warned.

Also, I chose the Spanish subtitled clip to give the film some extra snaz. "¡Muerte a los vampiros!"


- Phil Morehart



The Lost Boys is a dumb film. It finally dawned on me after two hours of trolling YouTube for a decent, watchable clip from the big budget, 1987 teen vampire flick. None exist, but there are dozens upon dozens of terrible fan-created music video homages to the film. I watched them all.

No doubt, nostalgia blinded me to The Lost Boys ridiculousness: it was the first R-rated film that I saw in the theatre as a kid without my folks knowing, and its soundtrack--featuring Echo and the Bunnymen, a then-cool INXS, Roger Daltry, Tim Cappello (the buff sax player at the beach party) and more--was a daily listen back then. I wore that cassette out.

Viewed now, The Lost Boys is dated. It's mildly entertaining, but mostly a mess of '80s fashion and music, with neglected horror and scares. Had these elements been on equal ground*, this film would have had legs. (*see the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series)

The above clip details the final battle between the hoodlum vampires led by Kiefer Sutherland and the good pseudo-vampires/vampire hunters, comprised of Jason Patrick, Jami Gertz, the Coreys (Haim and Feldman, of course), and others. Those on guard for spoilers, blood, gore and head explosions--you've been warned.

Also, I chose the Spanish subtitled clip to give the film some extra snaz. "¡Muerte a los vampiros!"


- Phil Morehart

Tuesday, October 16, 2007





Double feature of weirdness time!

Brazilian filmmaker Jose Mojica Marins' Coffin Joe horror films from the '60s are spectacular. Surreal, psychedelic and unsettlingly spooky, the films follow the demonic undertaker Coffin Joe (played by Mojica Marins) as he terrorizes a small town looking for the perfect woman to rear his spawn. The clips above showcase the wild opening title sequences from the first two Coffin Joe films: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1963) and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1966). Both hint perfectly at the surprises that await inside.*

According to Wikipedia (and you know how right they are), "In November and December of 2006, Mojica Marins shot the third installment of his Coffin Joe trilogy, Encarnação do Demônio (The Embodiment of Evil). The film completes the storyline that began with At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and continued in This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, The Embodiment of Evil is scheduled to premiere in Brazil on March 13, 2008, Mojica Marins' 72nd birthday."

The top-hatted and caped Joe popped up in a number of Mojica Marins' films through the years, most notably the trippy, acid fest, Awakenings of the Beast (1969), which was banned for almost two decades in Brazil, but there's been a sizable lull since his last appearance.

Please, please be right about this one, Wiki.

*Note: Both clips are in Portuguese, but the lack of English subtitles does nothing to lessen their impact.


- Phil Morehart





Double feature of weirdness time!

Brazilian filmmaker Jose Mojica Marins' Coffin Joe horror films from the '60s are spectacular. Surreal, psychedelic and unsettlingly spooky, the films follow the demonic undertaker Coffin Joe (played by Mojica Marins) as he terrorizes a small town looking for the perfect woman to rear his spawn. The clips above showcase the wild opening title sequences from the first two Coffin Joe films: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1963) and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1966). Both hint perfectly at the surprises that await inside.*

According to Wikipedia (and you know how right they are), "In November and December of 2006, Mojica Marins shot the third installment of his Coffin Joe trilogy, Encarnação do Demônio (The Embodiment of Evil). The film completes the storyline that began with At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and continued in This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, The Embodiment of Evil is scheduled to premiere in Brazil on March 13, 2008, Mojica Marins' 72nd birthday."

The top-hatted and caped Joe popped up in a number of Mojica Marins' films through the years, most notably the trippy, acid fest, Awakenings of the Beast (1969), which was banned for almost two decades in Brazil, but there's been a sizable lull since his last appearance.

Please, please be right about this one, Wiki.

*Note: Both clips are in Portuguese, but the lack of English subtitles does nothing to lessen their impact.


- Phil Morehart

Monday, October 15, 2007



The Exorcist franchise has been an odd one. The first two installments span in range from undisputed classic--William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973)--to odd turkey--John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), while the fourth installment was such a battle of internal artistic irreconcilable differences that two versions were made--Renny Harlin's dud, Exorcist: The Beginning and Paul Schrader's superior and more cerebral, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist).

Sandwiched between these two bookends is The Exorcist III (1990), a surprisingly fine addition to the brand which melds the terror of the first with the paced headiness of the Schrader cut. The story picks up 15-years after the events of Friedkin's film to follow the battle for the soul of an amnesiac mental patient who may or may not be one of the priests involved in the original exorcism. George C. Scott stars as an police lieutenant investigating a series of murders who becomes wrapped up in the demonic madness.

The creator of the original story, William Peter Blatty, steps behind the camera for The Exorcist III and he steers the film in the right direction at every turn. Though its scares are a far cry from the impactful, scarring ones contained within the first film, this installment holds up nonetheless with some nice quality jumps and genuinely chilling moments. It also packs a whallop in the atmosphere department, oozing dread straight through the screen.

Fabio has a cameo, too. Just thought I'd mention that.

The above scene is one of Exorcist III's most frightening. Set in a hospital as the nurses lock-up for the night, it captures the film at its jolting best.


- Phil Morehart



The Exorcist franchise has been an odd one. The first two installments span in range from undisputed classic--William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973)--to odd turkey--John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), while the fourth installment was such a battle of internal artistic irreconcilable differences that two versions were made--Renny Harlin's dud, Exorcist: The Beginning and Paul Schrader's superior and more cerebral, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist).

Sandwiched between these two bookends is The Exorcist III (1990), a surprisingly fine addition to the brand which melds the terror of the first with the paced headiness of the Schrader cut. The story picks up 15-years after the events of Friedkin's film to follow the battle for the soul of an amnesiac mental patient who may or may not be one of the priests involved in the original exorcism. George C. Scott stars as an police lieutenant investigating a series of murders who becomes wrapped up in the demonic madness.

The creator of the original story, William Peter Blatty, steps behind the camera for The Exorcist III and he steers the film in the right direction at every turn. Though its scares are a far cry from the impactful, scarring ones contained within the first film, this installment holds up nonetheless with some nice quality jumps and genuinely chilling moments. It also packs a whallop in the atmosphere department, oozing dread straight through the screen.

Fabio has a cameo, too. Just thought I'd mention that.

The above scene is one of Exorcist III's most frightening. Set in a hospital as the nurses lock-up for the night, it captures the film at its jolting best.


- Phil Morehart

Sunday, October 14, 2007



The R. Kelly video below may be scary (why you gotta hate, B?), but this clip from Troll 2 is definitely more frightening. And by "frightening," I mean "horrendously perfect."

For those not indoctrinated into the cult of Troll 2, you are missing one of the best/worst horror films ever created. Watch immediately. Repeat.


- Phil Morehart



The R. Kelly video below may be scary (why you gotta hate, B?), but this clip from Troll 2 is definitely more frightening. And by "frightening," I mean "horrendously perfect."

For those not indoctrinated into the cult of Troll 2, you are missing one of the best/worst horror films ever created. Watch immediately. Repeat.


- Phil Morehart

As Robert Kelly will explain, "The profanity represents just how real sh*t gets when you arguing with yo girlfriend." You’ve been warned.



The "Real Talk" music video might not be horror with a capital H, but it terrifies me. I mean, the verbal abuse, the incongruous, awkwardly staged brawl, the bedazzled hoodie on a 40-year-old man, and the idea that Robert Kelly still hasn't gone to trial for allegedly relieving himself on that underage girl, yet rakes in porta-potties full of green with his alleged music.

Real talk.

- B. Elza

As Robert Kelly will explain, "The profanity represents just how real sh*t gets when you arguing with yo girlfriend." You’ve been warned.



The "Real Talk" music video might not be horror with a capital H, but it terrifies me. I mean, the verbal abuse, the incongruous, awkwardly staged brawl, the bedazzled hoodie on a 40-year-old man, and the idea that Robert Kelly still hasn't gone to trial for allegedly relieving himself on that underage girl, yet rakes in porta-potties full of green with his alleged music.

Real talk.

- B. Elza

Saturday, October 13, 2007



"Art Cinema, please meet the Horror Genre."
"How do you do, Horror Genre?"
[silence]
"Horror Genre, don't be rude. Say 'Hello' to Art Cinema."
"Uhh, hey?"

That's the Saturday afternoon approach to summing up the stylish opening sequence from Nicolas Roeg's 1973 thriller, Don't Look Now. Roeg was personally responsible for the glossy camerawork, and this aspect is only rivaled by Donald Sutherland's performance and that little red parka in terms of its lasting appeal.

What makes the drowning chapter so great in clip form is that Don't Look Now never again hits a note this high. After their daughter's death, John (Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) leave for Venice, where hallucinations, psychic phenomena, and Roeg's menacing location photography await. Without spoiling anything, it all sinks into a rather unsatisfying third and final act.

And this really doesn't detract from Don't Look Now. It's a film experiment wearing a Halloween mask. I don't think I'm far off by typing that the intention is to provide viewers with an extraordinary experience, immersing us in images that have a psychological impact that bounds way outside the bland narrative about second sight. For paranormal horror with a powerful hook and a soaring finale, I go with The Exorcist, also from 1973.

Overall, this clip has to be one of my personal favorites in the history of horror. It's cryptic, visually stunning, and easily unhinged from the the Venice-set fever dream that follows.

- Brian Elza



"Art Cinema, please meet the Horror Genre."
"How do you do, Horror Genre?"
[silence]
"Horror Genre, don't be rude. Say 'Hello' to Art Cinema."
"Uhh, hey?"

That's the Saturday afternoon approach to summing up the stylish opening sequence from Nicolas Roeg's 1973 thriller, Don't Look Now. Roeg was personally responsible for the glossy camerawork, and this aspect is only rivaled by Donald Sutherland's performance and that little red parka in terms of its lasting appeal.

What makes the drowning chapter so great in clip form is that Don't Look Now never again hits a note this high. After their daughter's death, John (Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) leave for Venice, where hallucinations, psychic phenomena, and Roeg's menacing location photography await. Without spoiling anything, it all sinks into a rather unsatisfying third and final act.

And this really doesn't detract from Don't Look Now. It's a film experiment wearing a Halloween mask. I don't think I'm far off by typing that the intention is to provide viewers with an extraordinary experience, immersing us in images that have a psychological impact that bounds way outside the bland narrative about second sight. For paranormal horror with a powerful hook and a soaring finale, I go with The Exorcist, also from 1973.

Overall, this clip has to be one of my personal favorites in the history of horror. It's cryptic, visually stunning, and easily unhinged from the the Venice-set fever dream that follows.

- Brian Elza

Friday, October 12, 2007



Moan the word, "Braaaaaiiiinnnns," and near everyone knows the film from which the phrase came--the zombie classic, Return of the Living Dead. Blood, guts and fast-paced scary mayhem ensue when a toxic gas is accidentally released into a Louisville, KY cemetery, reanimating dead folks with a taste for brains. A band of punks caught in the terror takes refuge in a medical supply warehouse and then a funeral home--neither ideal hiding spots during an undead outbreak.

Released the same year as George A. Romero's gore-fest, Day of the Dead, Return stole much of the master's thunder by offering an alternative to his non-stop nihilism and gore. Yes; Return has both in droves, but it is also very funny. These zombies could talk, run and call for back-up. Which they do.

The scene clipped above displays the perfect horror/comedy balance that Return maintains throughout. It also steered me away from basements when I was a kid. Those with weak stomachs, please note: things get a tad gruesome, but all in good, head-biting fun. A zombie's gotta eat, you know.

Also, Chicago horror fans, don't forget: The Music Box Massacre returns to town this weekend. As usual, the movies run 24-hours straight, along with music, DJs, contests and all that freaky stuff. There are some gems in the bunch this year, including The Cat and the Canary, Peeping Tom, Equinox, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Deathdream, Freaks, The Shining, Videodrome, The Monster Squad, and more. Head here for more details.


- Phil Morehart



Moan the word, "Braaaaaiiiinnnns," and near everyone knows the film from which the phrase came--the zombie classic, Return of the Living Dead. Blood, guts and fast-paced scary mayhem ensue when a toxic gas is accidentally released into a Louisville, KY cemetery, reanimating dead folks with a taste for brains. A band of punks caught in the terror takes refuge in a medical supply warehouse and then a funeral home--neither ideal hiding spots during an undead outbreak.

Released the same year as George A. Romero's gore-fest, Day of the Dead, Return stole much of the master's thunder by offering an alternative to his non-stop nihilism and gore. Yes; Return has both in droves, but it is also very funny. These zombies could talk, run and call for back-up. Which they do.

The scene clipped above displays the perfect horror/comedy balance that Return maintains throughout. It also steered me away from basements when I was a kid. Those with weak stomachs, please note: things get a tad gruesome, but all in good, head-biting fun. A zombie's gotta eat, you know.

Also, Chicago horror fans, don't forget: The Music Box Massacre returns to town this weekend. As usual, the movies run 24-hours straight, along with music, DJs, contests and all that freaky stuff. There are some gems in the bunch this year, including The Cat and the Canary, Peeping Tom, Equinox, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Deathdream, Freaks, The Shining, Videodrome, The Monster Squad, and more. Head here for more details.


- Phil Morehart

Thursday, October 11, 2007



Roman Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, Your Teeth Are in My Neck is an anomaly amongst the director's oeuvre, and an incredibly entertaining one, at that. The spoof of Hammer-style horror is filled with humorous, exaggerated nonsense, but maintains the essential Gothic creepiness and scares that made those films so successful.

The story follows a dim professor and his young assistant (played by Polanski) on the hunt for vampires in Transylvania. When the assistant's new love--a young village beauty--is snatched away by a vampire Count, the duo make tracks to his castle to take care of business.

A particularly macabre aspect of the film is the appearance of the late Sharon Tate, who plays the crimson beauty who becomes the object of the vampire's desire; one of her few starring roles before being tragically and brutally murdered by the Manson Family.


- Phil Morehart



Roman Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, Your Teeth Are in My Neck is an anomaly amongst the director's oeuvre, and an incredibly entertaining one, at that. The spoof of Hammer-style horror is filled with humorous, exaggerated nonsense, but maintains the essential Gothic creepiness and scares that made those films so successful.

The story follows a dim professor and his young assistant (played by Polanski) on the hunt for vampires in Transylvania. When the assistant's new love--a young village beauty--is snatched away by a vampire Count, the duo make tracks to his castle to take care of business.

A particularly macabre aspect of the film is the appearance of the late Sharon Tate, who plays the crimson beauty who becomes the object of the vampire's desire; one of her few starring roles before being tragically and brutally murdered by the Manson Family.


- Phil Morehart


The 43rd Chicago International Film Festival is in full swing, and, like a swing, its motion has been backward and forward.

The weeks leading to the fest were filled with speculation as to whether the fest would proceed at all. The lack of public information was baffling. Schedule announcements and website updates were grossly delayed, as was vital industry-related information. Press accreditation applications were made available only a week before the fest opened--not a good move for an "international" festival that may want foreign press.

Many of these messes seem to have carried over into the festival run. Screenings change times and/or venues without staff knowledge; understaffed box offices back-up into endless queues of irritated patrons; sound drops, framing issues that obscure subtitles, and even simple tasks like turning the theatre lights off plague presentations. For a festival in its 43rd run, it often feels like an inaugural affair.

These gripes are small potatoes, however, when viewed against the backdrop of this year's programming, which is very strong. Cannes-winners/faves and buzz films (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Silent Light; Control; The Banishment), interesting Hollywood fare (The Kite Runner; The Savages; Michael Clayton; Gone Baby Gone; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Things We Lost in the Fire) and new entries from prestige directors (Jacques Rivette's The Duchess of Langeais; Catherine Breillat's The Last Mistress; Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly; Jiri Menzel's I Served the King of England; Bela Tarr's The Man from London; Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Scream of the Ants) abound, as do a mad slew of docs, retrospectives (Renoir's The River, is a highlight), anime titles, and intriguing features from new directors.

Among these new directors is Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran/photographer whose mesmerizing film Control examines the tragic life of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Based on the memoir by his widow, the film follows Curtis' transformation from a glam-loving teenager into a post-punk icon who committed suicide at age 23.

Crisp B&W photography captures both the bleak and the beautiful exquisitely, lending the film a documentary air, at times. This sense is furthered by the film's silences. Control is the quietest of rock 'n' roll biopics. This may seem odd, but it is essential. The reserve parallels Curtis' behavior: internal, isolated and alienated, but explosive in incredible spurts.

Lead Sam Riley is uncanny as Curtis, embodying not only a physical resemblance, but also his haunted, creative aura. The performance is emotionally wrenching, but it keeps the viewer at a distance nevertheless, much as Curtis did with those closest to him. Though the film is about Ian Curtis, the real Ian Curtis is never fully revealed, only uncovered slightly through the somber verse he penned for Joy Division.

Riley is undoubtedly the star, but Control's heart belongs to Samantha Morton. Her portrayal of Curtis' wife--who remained devoted to her husband even in the face of his infidelity, medical problems and emotional unavailability--is crushing.

"Crushing" also describes the documentary selection, Becoming John Ford, but in every negative way. The film is billed as one that "traces the development of the legend’s career from a studio journeyman to an Oscar®- winning director who defined American cinema," but it does nothing of the sort. Instead, talking heads (a barely recognizable bunch, minus Peter Fonda) sit in a dark screening room discussing Ford's work, personality and relationship with producer Darryl F. Zanuck, while correspondence between Ford and Zanuck is read via voice-over. Clips and photos are at a minimum. Much of Ford's output is not even acknowledged, including The Searchers!

Director Nick Redman was present for a post-screening Q&A and, when pressed, explained many of the film's deficiencies. Becoming John Ford was created in a matter of months for inclusion in a large, multi-DVD box set of Ford's films to be released by Fox. Thus, no mention of Ford's non-Fox films. Redman also noted that other precious essentials that would have allowed for a more complete vision of Ford's career--interviews, photos, etc.--were included in additional box set features, so they were not put in the doc.

Becoming John Ford is a DVD extra, no more. To pump it as anything else in false advertising, plain and simple.

Stay tuned to Facets Features for much, much more coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival, including reviews of the Argentine film, An Aerial, Catherine Breillat's sexy period piece, The Last Mistress, Roy Andersson's superb, You, the Living, Carlos Reygadas' sublime Silent Light, the Hungarian feature, Opium: Diary of a Madwoman, and more.


- Phil Morehart


The 43rd Chicago International Film Festival is in full swing, and, like a swing, its motion has been backward and forward.

The weeks leading to the fest were filled with speculation as to whether the fest would proceed at all. The lack of public information was baffling. Schedule announcements and website updates were grossly delayed, as was vital industry-related information. Press accreditation applications were made available only a week before the fest opened--not a good move for an "international" festival that may want foreign press.

Many of these messes seem to have carried over into the festival run. Screenings change times and/or venues without staff knowledge; understaffed box offices back-up into endless queues of irritated patrons; sound drops, framing issues that obscure subtitles, and even simple tasks like turning the theatre lights off plague presentations. For a festival in its 43rd run, it often feels like an inaugural affair.

These gripes are small potatoes, however, when viewed against the backdrop of this year's programming, which is very strong. Cannes-winners/faves and buzz films (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Silent Light; Control; The Banishment), interesting Hollywood fare (The Kite Runner; The Savages; Michael Clayton; Gone Baby Gone; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Things We Lost in the Fire) and new entries from prestige directors (Jacques Rivette's The Duchess of Langeais; Catherine Breillat's The Last Mistress; Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly; Jiri Menzel's I Served the King of England; Bela Tarr's The Man from London; Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Scream of the Ants) abound, as do a mad slew of docs, retrospectives (Renoir's The River, is a highlight), anime titles, and intriguing features from new directors.

Among these new directors is Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran/photographer whose mesmerizing film Control examines the tragic life of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Based on the memoir by his widow, the film follows Curtis' transformation from a glam-loving teenager into a post-punk icon who committed suicide at age 23.

Crisp B&W photography captures both the bleak and the beautiful exquisitely, lending the film a documentary air, at times. This sense is furthered by the film's silences. Control is the quietest of rock 'n' roll biopics. This may seem odd, but it is essential. The reserve parallels Curtis' behavior: internal, isolated and alienated, but explosive in incredible spurts.

Lead Sam Riley is uncanny as Curtis, embodying not only a physical resemblance, but also his haunted, creative aura. The performance is emotionally wrenching, but it keeps the viewer at a distance nevertheless, much as Curtis did with those closest to him. Though the film is about Ian Curtis, the real Ian Curtis is never fully revealed, only uncovered slightly through the somber verse he penned for Joy Division.

Riley is undoubtedly the star, but Control's heart belongs to Samantha Morton. Her portrayal of Curtis' wife--who remained devoted to her husband even in the face of his infidelity, medical problems and emotional unavailability--is crushing.

"Crushing" also describes the documentary selection, Becoming John Ford, but in every negative way. The film is billed as one that "traces the development of the legend’s career from a studio journeyman to an Oscar®- winning director who defined American cinema," but it does nothing of the sort. Instead, talking heads (a barely recognizable bunch, minus Peter Fonda) sit in a dark screening room discussing Ford's work, personality and relationship with producer Darryl F. Zanuck, while correspondence between Ford and Zanuck is read via voice-over. Clips and photos are at a minimum. Much of Ford's output is not even acknowledged, including The Searchers!

Director Nick Redman was present for a post-screening Q&A and, when pressed, explained many of the film's deficiencies. Becoming John Ford was created in a matter of months for inclusion in a large, multi-DVD box set of Ford's films to be released by Fox. Thus, no mention of Ford's non-Fox films. Redman also noted that other precious essentials that would have allowed for a more complete vision of Ford's career--interviews, photos, etc.--were included in additional box set features, so they were not put in the doc.

Becoming John Ford is a DVD extra, no more. To pump it as anything else in false advertising, plain and simple.

Stay tuned to Facets Features for much, much more coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival, including reviews of the Argentine film, An Aerial, Catherine Breillat's sexy period piece, The Last Mistress, Roy Andersson's superb, You, the Living, Carlos Reygadas' sublime Silent Light, the Hungarian feature, Opium: Diary of a Madwoman, and more.


- Phil Morehart

Wednesday, October 10, 2007



The Old Dark House is one of director James Whale's finest films. Produced in 1932 between his other genre classics, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, the film follows a group of travelers caught in a torrential storm who take shelter in--you guessed it--an old dark house, only to find the inhabitants far worse than the outside weather.

The film is Whale at his best: the perfect combination of spooky details, fluid camerawork and a wry, dark gallows humor. And what a cast - Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey, and the great Ernest Thesiger, best known as the twee Doctor Pretorius in Whale's 1935 masterpiece, The Bride of Frankenstein.


- Phil Morehart



The Old Dark House is one of director James Whale's finest films. Produced in 1932 between his other genre classics, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, the film follows a group of travelers caught in a torrential storm who take shelter in--you guessed it--an old dark house, only to find the inhabitants far worse than the outside weather.

The film is Whale at his best: the perfect combination of spooky details, fluid camerawork and a wry, dark gallows humor. And what a cast - Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey, and the great Ernest Thesiger, best known as the twee Doctor Pretorius in Whale's 1935 masterpiece, The Bride of Frankenstein.


- Phil Morehart

Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a perennial Halloween favorite. While not technically a horror film, the 1949 cartoon adaptation of Washington Irving's tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is certainly spooky.

The Sleepy Hollow backcountry is deceivingly sinister, as each seemingly innocent sound and motion mocks Ichapod and his fear. Narrator Bing Crosby's baritone adds to the effect, as well, shifting from its usually calming tone to one much more foreboding as the story unfolds.


- Phil Morehart



Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a perennial Halloween favorite. While not technically a horror film, the 1949 cartoon adaptation of Washington Irving's tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is certainly spooky.

The Sleepy Hollow backcountry is deceivingly sinister, as each seemingly innocent sound and motion mocks Ichapod and his fear. Narrator Bing Crosby's baritone adds to the effect, as well, shifting from its usually calming tone to one much more foreboding as the story unfolds.


- Phil Morehart

Monday, October 08, 2007



The recent war of words between Roger Ebert and Clive Barker (visit Roger's website for the low-down) sparked reminiscences of Barker's creative breakthrough, the 1987 feature, Hellraiser, about a young woman who mistakenly solves an odd puzzle box and unleashes otherworldly beings--the Cenobites, led by the iconic Pinhead--expert in the extremes of pleasure and pain.

A mish-mash of horror, sadomasochistic fetishisms, gore, fascinating mythologies and Lovecraftian wackiness, the film was a stylistic tour-de-force. It was scary and unsettlingly, but oddly sexy at the same time.

Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to Hellraiser. The bondage motifs are badly dated, giving the film the look of a bad goth bar. Several subpar sequels severely denigrated the franchise to insulting levels, as well, with poor Pinhead devolving to a caricature movie monster determined to dominate the world, rather than individual souls.


- Phil Morehart



The recent war of words between Roger Ebert and Clive Barker (visit Roger's website for the low-down) sparked reminiscences of Barker's creative breakthrough, the 1987 feature, Hellraiser, about a young woman who mistakenly solves an odd puzzle box and unleashes otherworldly beings--the Cenobites, led by the iconic Pinhead--expert in the extremes of pleasure and pain.

A mish-mash of horror, sadomasochistic fetishisms, gore, fascinating mythologies and Lovecraftian wackiness, the film was a stylistic tour-de-force. It was scary and unsettlingly, but oddly sexy at the same time.

Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to Hellraiser. The bondage motifs are badly dated, giving the film the look of a bad goth bar. Several subpar sequels severely denigrated the franchise to insulting levels, as well, with poor Pinhead devolving to a caricature movie monster determined to dominate the world, rather than individual souls.


- Phil Morehart


Between organizing the 31 Days of Horror Clips extravaganza and covering the Chicago International Film Festival (more on that later), Facets Features has unfortunately neglected the "What We're Watching" segment. Accept our apologies.

We've been digging on the following the past few weeks...

The War (Ken Burns/Lynn Novick, 2007) - Burns' "rah-rah America" filmmaking never sat well with me, but his look at American involvement in WWII hooked me for all of its seven installments. The stories recalled many that I heard in my youth from my WWII vet grandfather, while also filling in the blanks omitted by his reluctance to recount the specific horrors of warfare. (Phil Morehart)

All the President's Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976) - Woodward and Bernstein wish they were as cool as Redford and Hoffman. (PM)

I Like Killing Flies (Matt Mahurin, 2004) - Catch my review of this doc on NYC eatery Shopsins at Cincinnati CityBeat's website. (PM)

Bug (William Friedkin, 2003) - Again, head to CityBeat online for my review of Friedkin's freaky, paranoid thriller. (PM)

The Good German (Steven Soderbergh, 2006) - Soderbergh's ode to the noir of yore is beautiful to watch, but a mess to follow with its convoluted story and character overload. Cate Blanchett (who looks drop-dead stunning in B&W) does a passable Dietrich impression, though. (PM)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971) – Art Deco horror with Vincent Price. Everybody wins. (Brian Elza)

Arrested Development: Season 2 – The season that brought the phrase “Douche chill!” into tens of American homes. (BE)

Help! (Richard Lester, 1965) – Richard Lester strings together a series of cool Beatles music videos for folks who are down with Benny Hill and problematic depictions of Arabs. (BE)

Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 2005) – Eva Green managed to get naked 213 times in under 115 minutes in The Dreamers. Sir Ridley Scott couldn’t muster an inch of cleave in his 191-minute revisionist history lesson. Shame. (BE)

Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) – And now for our feature presentation, brought to you by eBay Motors! (BE)

Punch-Drunk Love/Eating Raoul (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002/Paul Bartel, 1981) – There’s a dialectical relationship between Anderson’s smarty-pants rom-com and Bartel’s grotesque satire, but all I’ll say is sex and violence. (BE)

The Magician (Ingmar Bergman, 1958) – I’m not about to type anything pedestrian or irreverent. I just watched it. (BE)

Running with Scissors (Ryan Murphy, 2006) – Real bad. Like watching Garden State make out with a lawnmower. (BE)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) - Ballsy performance by Viggo! (Dan Mucha)

God’s Country (Louis Malle, 1986) - For those who tend to categorize his worldview as cynical, a reminder that a love of humanity was at his core. (DM)


Between organizing the 31 Days of Horror Clips extravaganza and covering the Chicago International Film Festival (more on that later), Facets Features has unfortunately neglected the "What We're Watching" segment. Accept our apologies.

We've been digging on the following the past few weeks...

The War (Ken Burns/Lynn Novick, 2007) - Burns' "rah-rah America" filmmaking never sat well with me, but his look at American involvement in WWII hooked me for all of its seven installments. The stories recalled many that I heard in my youth from my WWII vet grandfather, while also filling in the blanks omitted by his reluctance to recount the specific horrors of warfare. (Phil Morehart)

All the President's Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976) - Woodward and Bernstein wish they were as cool as Redford and Hoffman. (PM)

I Like Killing Flies (Matt Mahurin, 2004) - Catch my review of this doc on NYC eatery Shopsins at Cincinnati CityBeat's website. (PM)

Bug (William Friedkin, 2003) - Again, head to CityBeat online for my review of Friedkin's freaky, paranoid thriller. (PM)

The Good German (Steven Soderbergh, 2006) - Soderbergh's ode to the noir of yore is beautiful to watch, but a mess to follow with its convoluted story and character overload. Cate Blanchett (who looks drop-dead stunning in B&W) does a passable Dietrich impression, though. (PM)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971) – Art Deco horror with Vincent Price. Everybody wins. (Brian Elza)

Arrested Development: Season 2 – The season that brought the phrase “Douche chill!” into tens of American homes. (BE)

Help! (Richard Lester, 1965) – Richard Lester strings together a series of cool Beatles music videos for folks who are down with Benny Hill and problematic depictions of Arabs. (BE)

Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 2005) – Eva Green managed to get naked 213 times in under 115 minutes in The Dreamers. Sir Ridley Scott couldn’t muster an inch of cleave in his 191-minute revisionist history lesson. Shame. (BE)

Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) – And now for our feature presentation, brought to you by eBay Motors! (BE)

Punch-Drunk Love/Eating Raoul (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002/Paul Bartel, 1981) – There’s a dialectical relationship between Anderson’s smarty-pants rom-com and Bartel’s grotesque satire, but all I’ll say is sex and violence. (BE)

The Magician (Ingmar Bergman, 1958) – I’m not about to type anything pedestrian or irreverent. I just watched it. (BE)

Running with Scissors (Ryan Murphy, 2006) – Real bad. Like watching Garden State make out with a lawnmower. (BE)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) - Ballsy performance by Viggo! (Dan Mucha)

God’s Country (Louis Malle, 1986) - For those who tend to categorize his worldview as cynical, a reminder that a love of humanity was at his core. (DM)

Sunday, October 07, 2007



You will die seven days after watching this.

OK. Maybe not. But in the J-Horror great, Ringu, watching the cursed video guarantees death at the hands (or eyes, to be precise) of Sadako, the vengeful ghost of a young girl. What makes Ringu unique is the ghost's method of destruction. Sadako does not physically maim or assault her victims--she literally scares them to death. After seeing Ringu's flesh-crawling finale, in which Sadako climbs out of the TV and hurky-jerkily stalks her victim before unleashing the evil eye, this is not surprising,

Creepy stuff.


- Phil Morehart



You will die seven days after watching this.

OK. Maybe not. But in the J-Horror great, Ringu, watching the cursed video guarantees death at the hands (or eyes, to be precise) of Sadako, the vengeful ghost of a young girl. What makes Ringu unique is the ghost's method of destruction. Sadako does not physically maim or assault her victims--she literally scares them to death. After seeing Ringu's flesh-crawling finale, in which Sadako climbs out of the TV and hurky-jerkily stalks her victim before unleashing the evil eye, this is not surprising,

Creepy stuff.


- Phil Morehart

Saturday, October 06, 2007



"Torture porn" (I hate that descriptor) and other extremes may populate the present horror genre, but these new terrors are no match for a good, old-fashioned haunted house film. Peter Medak's 1980 film, The Changeling, is one of the best. George C. Scott stars as a composer who moves from New York to Seattle in the wake of his wife and daughter's tragic deaths in a car accident. He settles into a large estate house, but his attempts to restart his life are thwarted when he becomes the recipient of the resident spirit's attentions.

Like Robert Wise's 1963 classic, The Haunting, The Changeling relies on atmosphere, lighting, sound and camera-work to create its scares. Underscored subtleties replace cheap thrills, allowing the film to creep up on the viewer with chilling effect. The featured clip is one of The Changeling's more exciting moments--a spooky seance conducted to communicate with the "other" in the house.


- Phil Morehart



"Torture porn" (I hate that descriptor) and other extremes may populate the present horror genre, but these new terrors are no match for a good, old-fashioned haunted house film. Peter Medak's 1980 film, The Changeling, is one of the best. George C. Scott stars as a composer who moves from New York to Seattle in the wake of his wife and daughter's tragic deaths in a car accident. He settles into a large estate house, but his attempts to restart his life are thwarted when he becomes the recipient of the resident spirit's attentions.

Like Robert Wise's 1963 classic, The Haunting, The Changeling relies on atmosphere, lighting, sound and camera-work to create its scares. Underscored subtleties replace cheap thrills, allowing the film to creep up on the viewer with chilling effect. The featured clip is one of The Changeling's more exciting moments--a spooky seance conducted to communicate with the "other" in the house.


- Phil Morehart

Friday, October 05, 2007



Dawn of the Dead, the 2004 remake of George A. Romero's 1978 zombie classic of the same name, caught alot of flack upon initial release. The criticisms were plentiful--"remaking the Romero film is hubris; unlike the original, the remake characters are flat and unsympathetic; it's an action film disguised as horror; the zombies RUN." Many of the gripes are warranted, but, they don't diminish the flick's overall enjoyability. It's a fast ride with enough nihilistic dread and gore to appease even the hungriest zombie freak, making it an excellent entry in the canon.

Dawn of the Dead's first ten minutes are perfection--perhaps the most perfect ten minutes of cinema from 2004. Yes, I said it. I stand by it. In fact, the beginning of the film is what saves Dawn of the Dead from becoming "just another zombie film." The built-up tension is incredibly strong, and, when released, it shoots like hellfire.

The above clip picks up half-way through the introduction, as a nurse, played by Sarah Polley, and her husband awake one morning to find a young neighbor girl mysteriously waiting for them at their bedroom door. Their day goes downhill from there.

*Please note: This clip is very gory, bloody and violent. You've been warned.


- Phil Morehart



Dawn of the Dead, the 2004 remake of George A. Romero's 1978 zombie classic of the same name, caught alot of flack upon initial release. The criticisms were plentiful--"remaking the Romero film is hubris; unlike the original, the remake characters are flat and unsympathetic; it's an action film disguised as horror; the zombies RUN." Many of the gripes are warranted, but, they don't diminish the flick's overall enjoyability. It's a fast ride with enough nihilistic dread and gore to appease even the hungriest zombie freak, making it an excellent entry in the canon.

Dawn of the Dead's first ten minutes are perfection--perhaps the most perfect ten minutes of cinema from 2004. Yes, I said it. I stand by it. In fact, the beginning of the film is what saves Dawn of the Dead from becoming "just another zombie film." The built-up tension is incredibly strong, and, when released, it shoots like hellfire.

The above clip picks up half-way through the introduction, as a nurse, played by Sarah Polley, and her husband awake one morning to find a young neighbor girl mysteriously waiting for them at their bedroom door. Their day goes downhill from there.

*Please note: This clip is very gory, bloody and violent. You've been warned.


- Phil Morehart

Thursday, October 04, 2007



The werewolf theme continues with a legendary scene from one of the genre's best amalgams of horror and black comedy, An American Werewolf in London.

Director John Landis and make-up master Rick Baker dropped jaws and revolutionized movie FX with this sequence, which follows David "Dr. Pepper" Naughton's transformation from man into vicious beast. Baker won a deserved Oscar for this work, and--not surprisingly--it still impacts, even in an era where beefed-up, dumbed-down, CGI-laden werewolf transformations are the norm (Underworld, I'm looking at you).


- Phil Morehart



The werewolf theme continues with a legendary scene from one of the genre's best amalgams of horror and black comedy, An American Werewolf in London.

Director John Landis and make-up master Rick Baker dropped jaws and revolutionized movie FX with this sequence, which follows David "Dr. Pepper" Naughton's transformation from man into vicious beast. Baker won a deserved Oscar for this work, and--not surprisingly--it still impacts, even in an era where beefed-up, dumbed-down, CGI-laden werewolf transformations are the norm (Underworld, I'm looking at you).


- Phil Morehart

Wednesday, October 03, 2007



"In the blue corner, weighing in at 300lbs., hailing from Ingolstadt, Germany, the neck-bolted wonder, Frankenstein's Monster!"

"And in the red, weighing in at 225lbs., straight from Wales, the lycanthropic lunger, Larry "The Wolfman" Talbot!"

Each of Universal's respective classic horror franchises are wonderful, but when they merged in the handful of monster mash-ups in the '40s, things got really interesting. While not as technically or artistically vibrant as their progenitors, these combos--Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945)--are hella fun. Pure grade, Saturday morning, goofy spooky entertainment.

The above clip from Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is absolutely terrific and the culmination of a warped plot that finds the resurrected Larry Talbot (this Wolf Man can't die, ya see) searching for a cure for his lycanthropy. He finds aid in a wack-job doctor with plans to thaw Frankenstein's frozen monster. Playing the monster is none other than the great Bela Lugosi, who manages to grunt his way through the film expertly.


- Phil Morehart



"In the blue corner, weighing in at 300lbs., hailing from Ingolstadt, Germany, the neck-bolted wonder, Frankenstein's Monster!"

"And in the red, weighing in at 225lbs., straight from Wales, the lycanthropic lunger, Larry "The Wolfman" Talbot!"

Each of Universal's respective classic horror franchises are wonderful, but when they merged in the handful of monster mash-ups in the '40s, things got really interesting. While not as technically or artistically vibrant as their progenitors, these combos--Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945)--are hella fun. Pure grade, Saturday morning, goofy spooky entertainment.

The above clip from Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is absolutely terrific and the culmination of a warped plot that finds the resurrected Larry Talbot (this Wolf Man can't die, ya see) searching for a cure for his lycanthropy. He finds aid in a wack-job doctor with plans to thaw Frankenstein's frozen monster. Playing the monster is none other than the great Bela Lugosi, who manages to grunt his way through the film expertly.


- Phil Morehart

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'd like to address a couple of minor issues before scaring the bejesus out of you with the clip below.

1. The order in which to present the 31 horror clips has been debated. Chronologically or random? It was a tough call--the former would provide an interesting history lesson tracing the horror film through the years, but the schizophrenic nature of the latter lends itself better to the season. Best to go with the flow. A random order requires less prep work, too, so there's your winner.

2. Some of the clips/descriptions in the days ahead may contain spoilers. I'll try to forewarn should they arise, as they do below.

Now...on to the show.



Mario Bava's 1963 horror anthology, Black Sabbath, is one of the Italian director's finest works, full of atmospheric spooks and chills delivered with a sly wink. However, it's the finale to the segment, "The Drop of Water," that truly gets under the skin. The story follows a nurse who steals a ring from the corpse of an elderly patient who died during a seance. As you shall see, this was not a good idea.

Yes, the dead woman looks ridiculously fake. However, it's this aspect that renders her truly frightening, much like creepy ventriloquist dummies or abandoned baby dolls found in dumps whose dead eyes are hauntingly alive.


- Phil Morehart

I'd like to address a couple of minor issues before scaring the bejesus out of you with the clip below.

1. The order in which to present the 31 horror clips has been debated. Chronologically or random? It was a tough call--the former would provide an interesting history lesson tracing the horror film through the years, but the schizophrenic nature of the latter lends itself better to the season. Best to go with the flow. A random order requires less prep work, too, so there's your winner.

2. Some of the clips/descriptions in the days ahead may contain spoilers. I'll try to forewarn should they arise, as they do below.

Now...on to the show.



Mario Bava's 1963 horror anthology, Black Sabbath, is one of the Italian director's finest works, full of atmospheric spooks and chills delivered with a sly wink. However, it's the finale to the segment, "The Drop of Water," that truly gets under the skin. The story follows a nurse who steals a ring from the corpse of an elderly patient who died during a seance. As you shall see, this was not a good idea.

Yes, the dead woman looks ridiculously fake. However, it's this aspect that renders her truly frightening, much like creepy ventriloquist dummies or abandoned baby dolls found in dumps whose dead eyes are hauntingly alive.


- Phil Morehart

Monday, October 01, 2007

A mad mass of blogs are presenting various incarnations of the 31 days of horror movies-theme this Halloween season, so we here at Facets Features decided to throw a severed head into the ring.

31 days.
31 horror clips.

Let's start early...



Scenes from Paul Wegener and Carl Boese's 1920 classic, Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World), backed by avant-freakout-metal band Fantomas' interpretation of Karl-Ernst Sasse's 1977 soundtrack composition for the film.

The film was the third by Wegener about the Golem. This entry jumps back in time to the origin, tracing the ancient Jewish legend of the clay figure created by Rabbi Loew in the 16th century to defend Jews in the Prague ghetto against pogrom, who instead reigns murder upon the city. Wegener's evil-eyed, bulked-up portrayal of the creature, combined with cinematography by the great Karl Freund (Metropolis, Dracula), make this an absolute horror classic.

The music is from Fantomas' expert 2001 album, The Director's Cut, which finds them maniacally and manically adapting a variety of film scores, from Night of the Hunter and Charade to Rosemary's Baby and Twin Peaks.

Wicked.

This is going to be a fun month. Check back daily for more insanity.


- Phil Morehart

A mad mass of blogs are presenting various incarnations of the 31 days of horror movies-theme this Halloween season, so we here at Facets Features decided to throw a severed head into the ring.

31 days.
31 horror clips.

Let's start early...



Scenes from Paul Wegener and Carl Boese's 1920 classic, Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World), backed by avant-freakout-metal band Fantomas' interpretation of Karl-Ernst Sasse's 1977 soundtrack composition for the film.

The film was the third by Wegener about the Golem. This entry jumps back in time to the origin, tracing the ancient Jewish legend of the clay figure created by Rabbi Loew in the 16th century to defend Jews in the Prague ghetto against pogrom, who instead reigns murder upon the city. Wegener's evil-eyed, bulked-up portrayal of the creature, combined with cinematography by the great Karl Freund (Metropolis, Dracula), make this an absolute horror classic.

The music is from Fantomas' expert 2001 album, The Director's Cut, which finds them maniacally and manically adapting a variety of film scores, from Night of the Hunter and Charade to Rosemary's Baby and Twin Peaks.

Wicked.

This is going to be a fun month. Check back daily for more insanity.


- Phil Morehart