Tag Archives: Horror

George Romero: More to Him Than Zombies

MV5BMTQwNzAwMTYwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTgwNjYz._V1_UY1200_CR160,0,630,1200_AL_It seems unreal that one of the godfathers of horror George A. Romero died last year. Since 1968, his presence at comic-cons or on DVD making-of features was almost taken for granted. I’ve made several short films since 2006, trying so hard to get better with each that I almost forgot how much Romero influenced my first efforts: my friend Hank as a chained up zombie coated in chocolate syrup like they used in Night of the Living Dead; gray-ish blue zombie makeup in my short Dawn of the Living, a nod to Dawn of the Dead‘s (1978) unique zombie design. It was a safe space to play as I grew into filmmaking by exploring different narratives in a world Romero created. But his world was more than just zombies – it was about art, politics, being a generous collaborator, and the way we create in a capitalist world. 
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V/H/S transcends cinematic boundaries

When I tell people I’m into watching and making horror films, some try to shrivel into themselves like a turtle – with others, you practically hear the eyes rolling in their heads.  They seem to chalk the entire genre up to consisting merely of the ghoulish or the cheap trick, whereas, I’ve found the horror genre to be fertile ground for exploring human tragedies (The Descent) or tinkering with our own mythologies (zombies, vampires, etc.).

Horror films to me aren’t scary; there remains a distance.  It’s always a guy in a rubber mask, the knife is fake, and the dark is nothing to be afraid of.  There are always cinematic artifices that maintain the boundaries between reality and fiction: a film’s score, the editing, or the spectacle of special effects.  Even as a child I don’t know if I’ve ever been truly disturbed, unsettled at my core, by a horror film

Until now. Continue reading

Attack the Block will rock your socks

Around the same time J.J. Abrams was showcasing his ode to Spielberg, Super 8, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block was in limited release and getting none of the attention it deserved.  In contrast to Spielberg and Abrams’ penchant for quaint middle-American childhoods, Attack the Block is all about urban hoodlums putting their life of hard knocks to use when they have to fight an alien invasion.  They aren’t going to share Reese’s pieces or heartwarming moments with the invaders – they’re going to fuck ’em up. Continue reading

Kevin Smith completely reinvents himself with Red State

Kevin Smith has been making films for almost twenty years, generating a couple of films that hit critical pay dirt (Clerks, Dogma), a few that made cash and satisfied the converted (Clerks II, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and others that achieved an almost cult status (Chasing Amy, Mallrats).  Before bromance became a part of our lexicon thanks to Judd Apatow flicks, Smith was perfecting the model (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Clerks II).  Considering Smith’s reputation, deeply entrenched within the bromance and dick jokes niches, it’s a dumbfounding discovery to find that his tenth film is a mature, nuanced look at the horrors of contemporary America.

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Final Destination 5: Are we dead yet?

I spent a whole chapter of my Master’s dissertation in Film Studies discussing how the term “torture-porn” is an eye-catching, hyperbolic phrase that should be swapped out for “torture horror.”  Which is to say, I’m not an exaggerating ninny anytime some gore hits the screen.  Final Destination 5, however, does make that term “torture porn” come to life in unsettling ways. Continue reading

Stake Land the great American vampire tale

It’s not often that a genre film doesn’t realize that it’s a genre film.  A comedy plays within the conventions of its niche and most horror films do the same.  Daybreakers is one of the best vampire films since the 1980’s unleashed Fright Night and The Lost Boys because, like its forerunners, it knows how to play to the genre trappings as intelligent entertainment.  That’s usually the best horror fans can expect from the genre. But films like The Blair Witch Project, Let the Right One In or Stake Land treat a horror tale like a drama and not a creature feature – which makes it all the more frightening. Continue reading

Troll Hunter reminds you to fear bridges

Three wannabe journalism students follow a man in a ghille suit into the woods to find out what’s been killing local hikers in the mountains of Norway.  It’s dark, we’re tethered to the first-person POV of the cameraman, and various flashes of light blast in the darkness, followed by faraway growls.  The woods come alive with the crashing footsteps of something ahead.  It’s the man in the ghille suit, running quickly away from the battle, stopping briefly to announce to his tag-a-longs: “TROLLS!”  It’s a ludicrous moment, but taps into the simultaneous display of comedy and anxiety in Troll Hunter, one of the best genre films of the year. Continue reading

Scream 4 a nearly justified sequel

Fifteen years ago, the original Scream met with huge popularity for its comedic sensibilities and self-aware commentary on the slasher genre. Scream 4 comes eleven years after the previous installment in the franchise, and at first glance it reeks of Hollywood’s current plague, a madness for the re-make, sequel, prequel, and adaptation.  Yet the making of Scream 4 is better justified than expected – to the point that this sequel might surpass the original. Continue reading

Best Horror and Sci-Fi of 2010

In my family’s house, horror films were  a staple.  Fright Night, The Monster Squad, and the genre-mashing Big Trouble in Little China were family staples, fascinating as much for their special effects as for the worlds they explored. As Ben Creech once commented, horror and sci-fi are cousins to the fantasy genre, and I would have to concur.  These genres, traditionally looked down upon by critics and award shows, create fantastic worlds that aren’t always welcoming, but are nonetheless amazing feats of construction.

The following are some horror and sci-fi films of 2010 that are remarkable for the ways in which they play with the trappings of their genre.  In other words, they do something that’s refreshing.  Gather a posse and chow down on some cool cinema.  (Click on the title to read my full review) Continue reading

Rare Exports a Christmas mess

The Finnish film documenting the true, ghastly nature of Santa Clause looked like it could be exploitation horror fun, but instead will leave you with question marks dangling over your head.  The film makes huge leaps in narrative logic, in one case young Pietari deducing from explosions on a mountain, “Santa’s under there!”

What?!

Nothing implies such a statement and Pietari’s proclamation stands in for the film’s inability to expose such a key plot detail in any other fashion.  Which is emblematic for the rest of the film, including the moment Pietari, hitherto a weakling, suddenly becomes Rambo as he organizes helicopter pickups and heroic gestures.  Everything is inexplicable in Finland evidently.

Some of the issues could stem from a terrible subtitle translation, but most of the awful simply stems from bad storytelling.  Cool idea, terrible execution.  Don’t even bother renting.

-Remington Smith